Friday, October 20, 2017

31 Days of a Batman Halloween- Today's Theme- Candle!


Archie Halloween Spectacular #1 (Family Comic Friday)


Welcome to another edition of Family Comic Friday. It's where an established comic book collector reviews comic for parents of kids who love to read comics but need guidance on age appropriateness and overall quality of the title. It's my hope that my reviews will help both you and the young reader in your life discover the world of kid friendly comics.

For today's book, we continue to get in the Halloween spirit with a 2017 holiday special from the leader in family friendly books- Archie Comics. 

Over the past couple of years, Archie has re-branded itself to some degree. Mark Waid's reboot of Archie incorporates teenage related issues like homosexuality, race, gender and illicit drag racing with a more series tone. Just recently, all-American girl Betty Cooper has become a paraplegic because of an illegal street race involving Archie. 

Some will say that the CW drama Riverdale is behind the more grown-up look at America's favorite red head. But the change in tone has been going on a lot longer at Archie with the publisher finding great success starting in 2013 with mature horror titles like Afterlife With Archie and the Chilling Tales of Sabrina. While this Halloween special has a few scares, they are nowhere near as frightening as these new twists on the Archie mythos.

The Archie Halloween Spectacular contains a trio of Halloween stories featuring the merry prankster of Riverdale- Reggie Mantle! All three yarns are reprints from Archie Comics' more subdued days as a family friendly comic book publisher. The first two stories star the Archie gang as teenagers and look to have been published sometime in the last 10-15 years. This comic doesn't list from when the stories were reprinted. But I can guesstimate the age of the stories as that's about when current Charlton Arrow editor Paul Kuppenberg worked as a writer on numerous Archie titles.  

The last story is features Little Archie. These were a series of stories written about the younger days of Archie, Veronica, and the rest. I'm going to say that the Little Archie episode is from the late 70s-early 80s based on the artwork. The series was stopped in 1983. Plus, the character of Ambrose Pipps, who makes a cameo in this adventure, wasn't created until around 1975. 

Regardless of the age of these stories, I enjoyed them. Each story gave me a chuckle or two and yes one story actually gave me the chills. But there's nothing in this book that should be overly objectionable for parents and guardians.

I particularly like that while Archie Comics is trying to adapt to the future, it still embraces it's nearly 80 years of publication history. It's like they are trying to offer something for both mom, dad, teenager Sally, and grade schooler Billy. While a majority of this book might be considered too old for the Riverdale TV series crowd, this is a Halloween special that has a little something for everyone who is a fan of the Archie gang.

The Archie Halloween Spectacular #1 is reccomended for ages 8-12.

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars.

This review published concurrently on October 20, 2017 on outrightgeekery.com.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Deadpool Minibus, Volume 1


This extensive collection of Deadpool miniseries covers the complete gambit of the Merc with a Mouth's 'metaphysical' (or metaphysi-Kill as some fans call it) storyline. Five miniseries make up this massive volume of nearly 500 pages. The best way to describe this book in detail is to break down each miniseries contained within. 


  • Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe- In the grand tradition of a Marvel icon murdering everyone in the Marvel Universe, something in Wade Wilson snaps and he goes on the murdering rampage to end of murdering rampages that is until...
  • Deadpool Kills Deadpool- It seems that in his quest to destroy all of the characters of the Marvel Universe, Deadpool forgot to kill off all of his alternate universe selves. As two teams merge, it becomes a wisecracking round of the deadliest game meets Highlander, filled with some of the most outrageous incarnations of the hired hand ever devised. Can you say 'Deadpool Panda?'
  • Deadpool Killustrated- Though Deadpool has killed off the Marvel Universe as well as the infinite incarnations of himself, Wade learns that unless his kills the tropes that inspired the Marvel Universe, it will never be destroyed. Thus, Deadpool will wipe out all of your favorite classic characters from Tom Sawyer to Dracula. No book too popular is unsafe from this raving lunatic!
  • Deadpool Vs. Carnage- Somehow the Marvel Universe survived Deadpool's onslaught and all is right with the multiverse. That is until Deadpool starts to get this weird itch in the deepest darkest recesses of his brain. See, it turns out there's another who wants to see the wanton destruction of everything- one Cletus Kasady... AKA Carnage and this guy's insanity just may give Deadpool a run for his money.
  • Night of the Living Deadpool- The final events of Deadpool's battle with Carnage has sent him to an alternate timeline in which zombies have taken over the world. This universe's only hope is... Aunt May Parker??? If you thought you had seen everything the Marvel Zombies storyline could offer- think again! This mash-up of The Walking Dead, A Boy and his Dog, and Multiplicity will leave you laughing you @$$ off while checking to make sure that bump you heard outside was just the wind.

Cullen Bunn takes on just about everything known to man in this huge tome. Classics, superheroes, zombies, mass murderers- if it happened, it's here. There's a slew of artists on tap such as Sean Parsons and Salva Espin and everyone's work is quite good. But my favorite has to be the stellar Classics Illustrated parody covers of Mike Del Mundo (Deadpool Killustrated) and the zombie film parody covers by Jay Shaw (Night of the Living Deadpool.) 

Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe was perhaps the weakest of all the stories. I felt that it was a little too metaphysical at times and when I read Deadpool, I want to laugh, not have to attend a lecture on philosophy. I was quite surprised at the quality of the Carnage story. I thought that it was just going to be pointless scenes of death and gore- and sometimes it was. But as a whole, it was a very interesting look at a character (Carnage) that I just have never really had any interest in prior. 

With a cover price of $59.99, this book is a little steep. But considering how much purchasing all five miniseries individually in either trade form or individual issues, this price might just be worth it. Or, you can get lucky like I did, find it at a used book store and pay a fraction of the cost.

Tons of Deadpool craziness lurks inside and it's all very much Worth Consuming!

Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe: 7 out of 10 stars.
Deadpool Kills Deadpool: 9 out of 10 stars.
Deadpool Killustrated:  8 out of 10 stars.
Deadpool Vs. Carnage: 9 out of 10 stars.
Night of the Living Deadpool: 9 out of 10 stars.

Overall rating: 8.4 out of 10 stars.

House of Mystery #250

This issue features a pair of frights. 

In Voyage to Hell, a lighthouse keeper is haunted by the ghost of his wife whom he left stranded on a sinking vessel. Then in Coffin For a Killer, an immigrant wishes for the largest funeral in all of Pittsburgh. To obtain that dream, the man turns to witchcraft. However, when he scorns the witch who is crafting the spells that help him become a big shot in the community, the man learns that you get what you wish for, but your wishes don't always turn out the way you expected.

Let's start with the latter story. It's written and illustrated by the great Alex Toth (Super Friends.) It's a great gothic style love story that I knew from the get-go what was going to happen- and then BAM! Toth throws in a twist I just didn't see coming. Marvelous stuff by a master of horror and suspense. 

The title story was the one I had issue with. At the beginning of the story, a fishing boat captain is the only man to survive the destruction of his vessel when it hits a reef. Okay- I buy that. But where's the wreckage? Where's the bodies? When the haunted lighthouse keeper talks of his ship sinking in the very same spot years prior, the shore is shown in flashback littered with debris. So why did artist Leo Duranona forget to add wreckage in the present day? For many this might seem like a petty grievance but that omission detracted from the enjoyment of the story for me.

For some reason, I thought this was the final issue of House of Mystery. However, I have since learned that the series went on for another 71 issues before finally closing it's doors in 1983. Why did I think this was the last issue? Have I confused it with House of Secrets, HOM's sister series? Did it end at issue #250? If any of you dear readers of this review have any inkling as to why I thought this was the finale, please leave me a line in the comment section.

Along with a few one-shot humor segments and some wicked old school comic book ads, I enjoyed this comic very much. I just had fault with a part of the main story.

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 8 out 10 stars.

31 Days of a Batman Halloween- Today's Theme- Werewolf


Creepshow

Stephen King's love letter to the horror comics of the 1950s has returned to print.

Next to his young adult novel Eyes of the Dragon, 1982's Creepshow is Master of Horror's most rare book. For one thing, the book is done in graphic novel form. For most of his fans, this isn't the preferred medium for a Stephen King work. After I read this (well re-read it as my library had a copy of this back in the 90s) I offered to let my wife read it. She informed me that she had no interest. 

As for myself, I was thrilled with it. When I found out this was being reissued, I put it first and foremost on my wish list. Creepshow- the film, is perhaps my favorite horror film of all-time. Plus, the book features the artwork of the late Master of Horror Comics Bernie Wrightson! Plus the cover is by EC Comics' legend Jack Kamen. It's a win-win!

The stories are classics:

  • The grave will not stop a matriarch from getting his father's day cake.
  • A jealous husband enacts video revenge against the man who stole his wife.
  • The so-called sterile apartment of a wealthy spinster has a bit of a roach problem.
  • ...and much, much more spine chilling tales await inside!
A couple of things are missing from this book, including the beginning and ending sequences featuring a young boy named Billy, played on screen by a very young Joe Hill.

Another thing I wasn't a big fan of was the coloring of the book. It's a mix between washed out marker and over-diluted water colors. You would have thought that the muted tones might be the result of print negatives poorly saved over the course of 35-years. But that's actually how the book originally looked.

A classic of horror comics and horror literature that's back in print- albeit probably not for long...

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Animal Noir

Life in the African Serengeti is currently civil between predator and prey. But when giraffe detective Manny Diamond is hired to recover a stolen video, the PI will learn just how close the land is to falling back into chaos. The case will take Diamond to the seedy snuff theatres; a taboo dungeon where carnivores act out their savage natures to films of antelope mutilation. Then there's his distraught wife who turns to a doomsday cult for solace after the loss of her child. And just what is the mystery behind the illegal ELF matches just beyond the mountains to the north?


Animal Noir is a gruff and gritty take on classic film noir and the comic book genre of funny animals. These great beasts of the plain, drawn by Izar Lunacek, might look adorable. But inside each character lies a fierce killer waiting for the chance to pounce.


This collection of the four issue miniseries by Njec Juren are what I imagine the works of Dashiell Hammett would be like if the famed mystery writer was an orangutan. It also could be compared to how the Disney film Zootopia would have turned out if directed by Roman Polanski. The world of Animal Noir is dark and dangerous. What I don't think this IDW miniseries is is finished.


Animal Noir is only four issues long- just over 100 pages collected. There's just so much going on in this story that I really didn't feel satisfied when the book ended. I was both exhilarated and disappointed by the ending. I was even more put off to learn that there wasn't a second volume in the works. Animal Noir is just like the 1970s noir classic Chinatown as there's an ending. But it's far from happy or satisfying.


Considering how awful Chinatown’s sequel The Two Jakes was, I might have to be content with what I read. To demand more adventures of detective Diamond might ruin this amazing story. I just feel like there's more to this. To paraphrase the final scene of Chinatown: Maybe its best to forget about it. After all, it's the Serengeti...

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars.

Review originally published October 17, 2017 on outrightgeekery.com.