Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Black Sinister

Black Sinister What if your city’s greatest threat was the superhero sworn to protect it?

The Hero Nobody Deserves

   In the case of Coal City, the citizens are victimized daily by a costumed vigilante known as Black Sinister. Everyone knows that Sinister is actually Coal City’s wealthiest man, Emerson Black. But neither the government nor the court system can stop Black because the millionaire owns all of the city’s resources!
    The story by Kaare Andrews (Renato Jones: the One%) was originally serialized in various issues of Dark Horse Presents. A parody of superheroes and an allegory of the plight of the 99%, the Black Sinister was insane fun. When Black tries to rescue a child from a kidnapper and accidentally kills the boy, the hero mourns. But it’s not for the extinguished life of the child hostage. No, the Black Sinister weeps for the loss of a unit of cheap child labor! Kaare Andrews’ beautifully crafted a character that has several screws loose.
    When it comes to the art, somebody went to the Paul Pope School of Cartooning. The work of Deadworld’s Troy Nixey looks so much like that of Pope’s Batman: Year 100. I had to check several times to make sure it really wasn’t Pope who penciled this book. But I just adored every broken limb, severed artery, and bloated bureaucrat dressed in Napoleonic garb.
Imagine if Batman was as completely bonkers as the Tick, emotionally fragile as Iron Man and written by Howard Chaykin AND Frank Miller. That is the Black Sinister in a nutshell. And I loved it! I only hope that the Black Sinister will return to terrorize the citizens of Coal City once more sometime soon!
Worth Consuming!
Rating: 10 out of 10 stars.
Review was originally published June 27, 2017 on

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Last Hunt #1 (of 4)

last hunt, amigo comics Anything But Routine

    Centuries in the future, radiation has rendered the earth a barren wasteland. As a result, the human race has begun colonization of the milky way galaxy. The transportation of supplies by use of massive cargo ships is vital to ensuring the success of these colonies. But a direct path isn’t always the most feasible. Thus the earth is now used as a sort of hub for one ship to drop off supplies as an another is used to retrieve the goods.
     That’s the mission for the cargo freighter Ragzon: a relatively routine pick-up from mother earth and then it’s back to colony base. However, when the Ragzon crash lands during a radiation storm, the mission becomes anything but routine. It will be several days before repairs can be made. Thankfully, the ship is stocked with plenty of water, food, and air. It even has some protection from the outside radiation. What the crew doesn’t have is a prayer against an ancient evil that has come into the Ragzon’s cargo hold.

The Chills Take Time

     The Last Hunt, written by Hannu Kesola and Ken Janssens, is a 4-issue miniseries by independent publisher, Amigo Comics. It’s a sci-fi thriller that doesn’t quite start off as a typical story about the future. With quite a number of F-bombs and nostalgic sexual innuendo, I first thought I was reading a Tarantino-style script. There’s one character that just can’t keep his manhood in his spacesuit and he’s quite frank about it. I also thought that I might be reading a cosmic soap opera version of Melrose Place. It’s a story that does it’s best to show what colonial space life would really be like. If the first dozen pages are true, then sex and boredom are the two biggest attractions to interplanetary travel. 
The Last Hunt starts off very slow like John Carpenter’s Dark Star. Yet at the halfway mark, the Last Hunt morphs into a hybrid of Alien and Event Horizon. Once the crew of the Ragzon learn that the earth might not be abandoned after all, the tone of the book changed from insipid oversexed drama to a bone-chilling shocker.

A lived-In Universe

     Though I had some initial misgivings with this first issue, I was in love with the artwork from the first panel. Artist Paul Moore’s futuristic universe is a lot like that of the Star Wars universe in that it’s been lived in. The cargo ship Ragzon is dirty, cluttered, and dank. Earth is an eerie tomb shrouded in swirling radioactive sand storms and crumbling apart due to centuries of neglect. Colorist Beth Varni’s use of moldy greens and browns add to the creepiness of this horror series. The way Moore and Varni reveal the source of the evil on the Ragzon on the very last page, I was hooked. I must know what happens next.
    I really would love to talk more about this book. But I am afraid that if I go much further, I will spoil the major twist in this issue’s cliffhanger. What I will say is that the ending is one that will make you exclaim ‘How did I miss that?’ Then you’ll do like I did and go back and read the Last Hunt again. Hopefully, you’ll be able to capture all the clues behind the sinister forces lurking in The Last Hunt.
Worth Consuming!
Rating: 8 out of 10 stars.
This review was originally published June 26, 2017

Astro City, Volume 14: Reflections

 Excerpt from

"Then, a spotlight on three generations of Jack-in-the-Box, as the second Jack-in-the-Box's son must decide whether to follow in the family footsteps or take another path. Also featuring the Trouble Boys, Mister Drama, the Weirdies and more."

Nope- that does not happen in this book! I'm not sure which volume Amazon is detailing, but they got this wrong!

What is in Volume 14 of Astro City is as follows:

  • When a member of the First Family is kidnapped by inter-dimensional beings, the team declare all-out war! But this story isn't told from the heroes perspective but from that of the enemies. It's a very intriguing tale about propaganda and just who are the real enemies in war.
  • In an anniversary story, the Samaritan is troubled by terrible nightmares. In order to determine the source of the problem, the hero will need to be quarantined for 24-hours. Marvel at how the entire Astro City superhero community comes together to pick up the slack for the fallen leader of the Honor Guard.
  • Busiek, Anderson, and Ross revisit a classic forgotten character: Steeljack. Has the aged villain finally gone straight? Will he be able to stay righteous when he's approached by a former for help?
       This was a great volume. Steeljack's story, Tarnished Angel, is my favorite Astro City tale. So it was great getting to see what he was up to again. The First Family epic was very thought provoking and the Samaritan story was extremely touching.  The trio of Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross, and Brent Anderson did it again with this volume! 

        Amazing stuff!

      Worth Consuming!

      Rating: 10 out of 10 stars.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys

   Being good now is hard work. It also doesn't pay very well. So Harley Quinn starts up the Gang of Harleys. It's their job to take on those messy, low paying jobs when Harley is busy doing other stuff. But when Harley is abducted by a deranged fan, the Gang of Harleys will have to become a team fast or they might be known forever more as the Gang of Dead Harleys!
 Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harley's was a crazy romp into the world of the Joker's Ex-Girlfriend. Frank Tieri and Jimmy Palmiotti do a great job making this story as nutty as possible. But this storyline seems awfully familiar to one recently developed by the House of Ideas. So I must ask which came first: The Gang of Harleys or Deadpool's Mercs for Money? It's so weird how DC and Marvel publish similar story-lines so darn close to each other. And let's be honest here folks, you know that a Gang of Harleys/Mercs for Money team-up that is just begging to be written!
      The Gang of Harleys is one of the most diverse groups in comic book history. There's a black Harley on the team as there also are a Jewish one, a Hispanic, an Asian, and an Indian member. There's even a homosexual male named Harvey Quinn in the group. Plus assisting the team is a dwarf and a handi-capable person! So why didn't this 2016 miniseries get any praise for it's all-encompassing line-up? You couldn't scroll down Facebook without a Marvel series getting props for it's diverse line-up of books! Why doesn't the Gang of Harleys get some much deserved love for this?

     I'm also surprised that this book didn't achieve some notoriety for it's true villain- a Donald Trump-style businessman. This Donald 'clone' is the real reason for Harley Quinn kidnapping. Again, there were so many stories about comics that mocked Donald Trump over the past year and a half. Yet, when his persona comes into play in this story, I was completely surprised! (Yes- great job for the folks at DC for keeping the spoilers under wraps but I really hate the DC doesn't get it's fair share of reporting on pop culture media sites!)
The artwork by Mauricet is very good and I just love the Amanda Conner covers. But why didn't Conner do the art for the whole book? It was sorely missing here! No offense to Mauricet, it's just that when you see Conner's beautiful work gracing the cover, you expect to see a book full of Amanda Conner artwork!

    Worth Consuming!

     Rating: 8 out of 10 stars.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: The Salmon of Doubt, Volume 1

It’s All Connected (Well of course it is!) (Who are you?) (I’m you, but from a mirror universe. I’m here to help you review the Salmon of Doubt.) (I don’t need any help.) (Believe me- you will.) (Oh joy…)
   It’s taken me 40 years to finally understand the word ‘holistic.’ (Dummy!) I stayed away from holistic medicine all this time thinking it was something performed by a witch doctor. (You are such a fraidy cat!) Yet the word means literally to approach from all angles in terms of interconnectivity. So in the world of medicine, one might look at physical, mental, and social factors in relation to one’s health. When it comes to the detective Dirk Gently, it means something much more complicated.
    Dirk Gently is a holistic detective in which he attempts to understand how the universe is connected. (It usually involves a cat.) In the Salmon of Doubt, Dirk and his sidekick (No, don’t call her that!) (Don’t call who what?) (Sally Mills, don’t call her a sidekick!) (How about assistant?) (No, she hate’s that! Never call her Dirk’s assistant!) (Girlfriend?) (They haven’t even kissed yet!) (What about partner? Is that okay? Hello? Okay-…
Dirk and his partner Sally Mills go to visit a professor of Dirk’s. The detective hopes that his former mentor might explain why he’s been experiencing memories than aren’t the one’s Dirk remembers having as a child.
     A fight between Dirk and Sally (I told you not to call her an assistant!) (I didn’t. Dirk did!) (I know, I was just pointing it out.) (Well, could you stop? I’m trying to write a review here.) (Your loss….) (Anyways, where was I? Oh yes-…
A fight between Dirk and Sally results in the pair being transported throughout a multiverse of Dirk Gentlys. Separated on a world similar but not quite their own- the pair must find help in order to get back to their home universe. (This is where that cat I mentioned earlier comes in…) (I am about this close to beating you to death… Anyhoo-

Worlds Collide

        Based on the characters created by the master of sci-fi comedy, Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and the Salmon of Doubt seeks to tie together the IDW series of Dirk Gently comics with BBC America’s 2016 smash comedy hit starring Elijah Wood. Salmon of Doubt is supposed to be the last IDW series based on the original Adams manuscripts. (Salmon of Doubt was supposed to be the name of book 3 of the Dirk Gently series.) (I was just getting to that.) (Well, you could have got there quicker. Instead, I had to tell all these find readers about it.) (I don’t need any help.) (Actually, I think you do…) (Fine- do you want to write this review?) Well, since you asked….
    Salmon of Doubt is supposed to be the last IDW miniseries based on the original Adams manuscripts. His final work, a Dirk Gently novel titled Salmon of Doubt, was left unfinished before Adams’ untimely death in 2001. After this series, any new Dirk Gently books will (supposedly) be based on the TV show. It is very fitting that a series about a detective who looks for how everything is connected in the universe is both an ending to the original books and a prequel to the BBC America TV series. It all gets a little trippy but regular Dirk Gently writer Arvind Ethan David manages to keep things sorted out quite well. (Can I speak about the art?) (By all means…)

Two Sides of One Mirror

    The art by Secret Identities’ Ilias Kryiazis was an odd mix. The parts based on the comic book miniseries were very abstract. They had almost a Central European feel to them in that Dirk’s hair looks like a out of control smoke stack. (The character of Dirk Gently is supposed to be Central European.) (Maybe that’s why he looks that way.) (How do you draw someone to look Central European? That’s like saying you can draw someone to look athletic!) (You can draw somebody to look athletic!!!) (You can? Nevermind….)
    Okay- back to the art. As I was saying, there’s a very abstract style to the Douglas Adams novel versions of characters. But the live-action versions of everybody look amazingly life-like. Kryizais’ covers that blend the two Dirk Gently universes together are pretty cool looking as well.

A Literary Ouroboros

     IDW Publishing still has a couple more issues of Salmon of Doubt left to put out. This volume only collects the first five issues. For someone who might have all of the episodes to Dirk Gently on their DVR and haven’t watched them yet, (such as you…) such as I, this is a great starting point. Like a snake eating his own tail, this is the beginning of the end (or the end of the beginning) for IDW’s take on Dirk Gently and his holistic detective agency. So far, it’s a very good introduction to the BBC America show. Volume 2 will probably dictate whether this is an acceptable ending to the Adams’ original novels.
But for now, this series (and volume 1) is very much—
Worth Consuming! (Worth Consuming!)  
(Hey, we agreed on something!) (Yeah, we did. I don’t like…) (Me either…) 
Both versions of A Madman With A Book would like to rate Salmon of Doubt as the following:
Rating: 8 out of 10 stars.
This article was originally published June 22, 2017 on

Friday, June 23, 2017

Glister (Family Comic Friday)

House Redecorating

Young Glister has a very unusual life. Her and her father live in the Butterworth family estate of Chilblain Hall. It’s a magical home that loses and adds rooms at random. Imagine how hard it is to find a bathroom at this place.
    This habit often brings unusual visitors to Glister home like a teapot haunted by an unaccomplished writer looking ​to complete their unfinished masterpiece. Then there’s the roaming band of trolls in the basement dungeon. In the guest house lives a giant talking warthog. Plus there’s the family tree in the orchard that grows family members from the past. I told you that Chilblain Hall is very strange.

  A Very British Summer Vacation Read

    Glister’s home plays a very big role in this collection of all-ages graphic novels by British cartoonist Andi Watson. This Dark Horse publication is set for release on July 5th and would make an excellent summer trip reader for fans of magic and fantasy. Each chapter also contains extras such as activity pages, crafts, and lessons on becoming a cartoonist.
    This is the type of book I would beg my parents for before going on vacation. It’s over 300 pages, so it’s guaranteed to keep young readers busy during a long flight or car ride. The stories are easy to read with author’s notes for big words. Plus with a cover price of $14.99, it’s easy on the wallet as well.
    Andi Watson’s stories are quite funny and entertaining. The main character of Glister Butterworth is a strong female role surrounded by goofy magical characters. She’s a lot like Alice in that she’s the sensible one in a world of nonsense and farce. The art reminded me of the spooky but also silly style of Edmund Gorey. The action scenes are like segments out of Peter Pan or Monty Python- brave but also kinda surreal. Above all, this work is very, very British and full of surprises with every turn of a page.
This volume collects all 4 Glister stories previously published by Dark Horse:
Glister and the Haunted Teapot
Glister and the House Hunt
Glister and the Faerie Host
Glister and the Family Tree
Worth Consuming.
Rating: 9 out of 10 stars.

Review was originally published June 19, 2017 on

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Little Book of Wonder Woman

     Wonder Woman has never been a hotter commodity until now. The live-action film, (which I still haven't seen yet) is a smash hit. Plus, with the release of the Justice League movie later this fall, the Amazonian Princess is going to be on everyone's radar for quite a while.

      That's why I decided to read this book now. A birthday present from last year, the Little Book of Wonder Woman is filled with over 190 pages of rare sketches, never before seen photos, and stills from her many cartoon appearances. Plus there are tons of covers and panels from favorite artists such as George Perez, Nick Cardy, and Brian Bolland. 
      Little bigger than a standard paperback novel, this book is a quick read that will make for some very enjoyable summer reading. The Little Book of Wonder Woman includes an essay on Diana by legendary DC scribe, Paul Levitz. It's very insightful but then again just about anything Levitz writes is great to me. 

      Oddly enough, the essay is translated in French and German. I understand why this book went with French as DC has a huge following in France and French Canada. But why German? I would have thought the Levitz dissertation would be in Spanish. I'd even understand if it was in Greek with Wonder Woman being associated so closely with Greek gods.

       There's also a Little Book of Batman; as well as a Superman volume. I have the Batman edition and based on how much I enjoyed this book, that one's next on my list.

        Worth Consuming!

         Rating: 9 out of 10 stars.