Dynamite Entertainment Black Terror #14, written by Phil Hester and Alex Ross, drawn by Jack Herbert, 2011
Dynamite’s “Project Superpowers” line of comics really intrigues me. I enjoyed the first series, the original Project Superpowers and had mixed feeling about volume 2. I was already a Black Terror fan thanks to Alan Moore and Peter Hogan’s Terra Obscura so this series seemed worth a shot.
The story starts with a bunch of villains tracking down Black Terror in a giant flying pirate ship. Among these villains is a neo-Nazi with a flamethrower attached to his head. It’s so silly it works. Black Terror, meanwhile, finds he has somehow detached from his daytime-doctor alter ego and the two meet. Picture Batman meeting Bruce Wayne and you get the idea. It’s a neat set-up that’s clearly the final chapter of its story arc, but it satisfies as an interesting look into the series on its own.
Phil Hester does some nice dialogue work and predictable plotting, but it’s always enjoyable. His Black Terror is more than just a tough guy hero; he seems unique with a voice of his own. He also kicks all kinds of butt—I love it. This is standard superhero comic booking without feeling retro and without the shortcoming of some of today’s trends.
Jack Herbert’s art is nice too, but I’m not a fan of the overly digital colours. It fits with what seems to be Dynamite’s “Project Superpowers” house-style, but I really wish it didn’t look so dark and muddy. The pencils work wonderfully though and Herbert knows how to tell a sequential story. He tends to lean to the realism side of things, instead of towards the cartoony. It’s never all that impressive but the quality is reliable.
Nothing super-special here, but I’ll be buying more of this series if I can find it cheap. I like the character, the story isn’t bad and the creative team is solid. If it seems like your cup of tea, give it a shot.
DC Comics New Gods #18, written by Mark Evanier, drawn by Paris Cullins, 1990
I love me some Fourth World, even if it isn’t original Kirby.
I’ve written about this series before and my feelings are still pretty much the same. Evanier takes an overly dramatic approach that works on some levels, fails on others and Cullins totally rocks the art.
The start of this book is actually surprisingly down-to-Earth. Victor Lanza (a supporting human character from the original New Gods series) is being taken to a retirement home and Evanier gives some nice depth to the character. He may be old, but he doesn’t feel useless just yet and this scene doesn’t feel played out or preachy. It works really well as a set-up while the rest of the book follows heroes Orion, Lightray and Lar-Gand (that’s Mon-El to you) as they prepare for a soon approaching evil. Lar Gand tangles with some Thanagarian Hawkmen, Orion battles a zombie-obsessed Darkseid henchman, Lightray deals with his girlfriend’s attachment disorder and Lanza proves his worth.
Cullins, the ’80s go-to guy for Fourth World Kirby pastiche does a great job on the art. I’ve mentioned before I find his work to be underrated and a great balance on the cartoony/realism line. The hairdos though … oh boy.
If you love the Fourth World cast as much as I do, there’s a lot to like here. Give it a try, but if this issue doesn’t float your boat this series probably isn’t for you.
DC Comics Orion #18, written by Walt Simonson, drawn by Simonson and Al Milgrom, 2001
Speaking of Kirby’s Fourth World legacy…
Allow me to fawn over this series again. Walt Simonson does Kirby’s Fourth World like it’s nobody’s business. His dynamic action, exaggerated proportions and angled line-work make this series a treat for the eyes while his keen sense of storytelling keeps it all on track.
This particular issue deals with the Green Lantern of Apokolips—such an awesome concept! When Orion is hurled back into reality (the previous story arc was apparently quite complicated), Darkseid sends his special forces to investigate. Two key characters stand out, neither of which have really popped outside this book. The first is a key trooper amongst Darkseid’s forces who may become a traitor in the ranks. We got his backstory in a previous issue but here he comes to the forefront. The second is the aforementioned Green Lantern—aka the Green Flame, who pulls some nice vigilante moves on the bad guys. We find out his ring has been almost entirely depleted and his character takes on a role akin to the Batman of Apokolips.
The back-up story gives of more Green Flame, this time with Al Milgrom’s Kirby aping art. It’s very cool as well and keeps the story continuing at a nice pace. The Green Flame quickly becomes a character I wish I could see more of. He’s a great creation in a great issue with great story and art.
Yeah, you get it. Go get it.
Marvel Comics Moon Knight #3 (of 4), written by Doug Moench, drawn by Tommy Lee Edwards, 1998
The key here is the year and the mini-series status. There have been plenty of Moon Knight volumes, but this is the four-issue run by Moench and Tommy Lee Edwards from 1998; just so we’re clear.
After reading Warren Ellis’s new Moon Knight book, I simply had to have more. Luckily, I had a few older issues lying around that I hadn’t read yet. With Edwards on art, this one was easily my first choice.
So Moon Knight has been having bad dreams about one of his enemies, Black Spectre. Will Black Spectre slay Moon Knight, just as his dream predicted? Take a wild guess. Here he’s got the help of a new vigilante, but there’s plenty of trouble brewing behind the scenes as well. Turns out his old arch-nemesis Bushman has teamed up with an insomniac crime-lord and they’ve got Moon Knight in their sights. Oh no!
Moench writes and it’s standard fare. I’ve never been impressed with his scripting or plots, but never truly disappointed either. Here I’d say he’s working above his average, but that may be due to the art.
The art, you say? Yeah, it rocks, but what else is new. Tommy Lee Edwards, ladies and gentlemen! You see this name on a book—you buy it! His striking storytelling makes this issue a must have. I’m sure there are folks out there who don’t care for his chunky, heavily inked pages, but I can’t get enough of his work. His angles, motion, posturing and backgrounds simply ooze style. Just look at that cover!
If you are a Moon Knight fan, you need to see Edwards draw him. If not, check this one out anyways—assuming you can grab it cheap!
Marvel Comics Ms. Marvel #15, written by Brian Reed, drawn by Aaron Lopresti, 2007
Like a few of you guys, I recently caught the Ms. Marvel bug. I really wanted to grab Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel series, but Dexter Soy’s art and the thought of adding another title to my pull list turned me off. Fortunately, there’s plenty of Carol Danvers to find in the bargain bin!
In issue 15 we find Ms. Marvel leading a small S.H.I.E.L.D. strike force to take down A.I.M., who happen to have a genetic bomb at their disposal and a major civil war amongst their factions. On top of this, Carol is dating some guy and hanging out with Wonder Man and getting in trouble with Maria Hill. It’s an easy plot to get into and if you remember Civil War era Marvel you’ll feel right at home.
Brian Reed excels at character interaction. His Carol feels very normal, very “every woman” and her personal life takes up almost as much story as her costumed life. Carol is very likeable under Reed’s pen, but he is sure to inject some major flaws into her as well to keep her from being too perfect to be real. The balance between selfless, classic comic book hero and real life single female professional is just right. Reed also infuses the story with some nice complicated A.I.M. politics and brings M.O.D.O.K. into the tale—points for him!
Lopresti is an artist I’ve always liked. His work seems to fit any standard superhero book and he never really misses a beat. His characters are perfectly shaped with just the right curves and his expressions have a Kevin Maguire feel. For a somewhat forgotten, Marvel B-lister book, Lopresti’s art certainly makes this series worth checking out, even if you’re not into Ms. Marvel.
I’d easily recommend this one; it’s a fun series and it’s easy to find cheap.