Sunday, April 22, 2018

Defenders of the Earth #2


This second issue of Defenders of the Earth has the newly formed team creating a secret base. Meanwhile, Ming the Merciless has the same idea, choosing the North Pole as the locale of his operations on earth. 

Power Pack's Michael Higgins takes over storytelling from Stan Lee. It's like selecting a bench-warming roller blade enthusiast to replace Wayne Gretzky. There's just some mighty shoes to get filled here. 

One issue I have with Higgins isn't so much his talent, but his writing style. I think he must have been from the U.K. because the Defenders of the Earth are now starting to spout little bits of slang every once in a while and it's rather odd British bits of dialogue that's being thrown about. Last issue, Stan Lee had everybody sounding like a 1980s New Yorker. Now everyone sounds like they're from London's East End. It's rather an disjointed transition. 

Once again, the Phantom is grossly underused. He appears in the first act. But it's not until the third and final part of this story does he finally talk as well as spring into action. This issue is more about Mandrake and his bodyguard Lothar than anyone else. It's not so much a bad thing as poor use of all of your available characters. 

I think I am starting to see some cracks in this franchise's foundation leading to why both the comic book and TV series were quickly cancelled.

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars.

Defenders of the Earth #1


Defenders of the Earth- it was the crossover I never thought possible. I had grown up reading the adventures of Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician. But I wasn't aware that those heroes knew each other.  

Then in 1985, Marvel Comics teamed with King Features Syndicate to create a 65-episode cartoon that teamed these legends together again for the first time as the Defenders of the Earth. The cartoon wasn't easy to find in my area of the country. But the occasional Saturday or Sunday that I was able to watch it, I was hooked. 

I never did purchase the action figures, mostly because Galoob's bulky sculpts just didn't appeal to me. But I really loved the comic book! Published by Marvel's Star Comics imprint, the series was a continuation of the series. 

This first issue was written by Stan the Man. It's entirely based on the pilot episode. In it, Ming the Merciless has kidnapped Flash Gordon's wife Dale and son Rick. Ming sends some of his robot sentries to capture Flash, who has sought refuge in the mansion home of renowned magician Mandrake. Along with his bodyguard Lothar and his son LJ and young apprentice Kshin, Mandrake agrees to help Flash recover his family. 

To do this, the heroes need a master tracker. So, they go to deepest, darkest Africa where they recruit the Phantom and his daughter Jedda to assist them in locating Ming's base on the planet Mongo. 

Needless to say, the heroes find Ming and manage to destroy his fortress. But the rescue of Dale and Rick takes a dark turn that I wasn't expecting, especially for kids' cartoons in the mid-80s. But the ending sets everything up for Flash, Mandrake, Lothar, the Phantom and their progeny to form the Defenders of the Earth as Ming now has his eyes set on conquering our planet for his newest throne world.

This was an enjoyable blast from the past. Having Stan Lee as writer for the first issue was a pleasant surprise. The artwork by Alex Suviuk was beautiful and the story itself was very good. 

The Phantom seems a bit of an afterthought though. He's not really needed in the story. I'm wondering if King Features demanded that the Phantom be added to the team as by 1985, his comic strip was the only one of the three characters in high rotation nationwide. Compared to Mandrake and Lothar, you must admit that the Phantom has better name recognition. Still, the purple clad hero feels more like an bit player in this book instead of star player that he really was.

Worth Consuming! 

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars.


Friday, April 20, 2018

Scooby-Doo! Where Are You #92 (Family Comic Friday)

Welcome to another edition of Family Comic Friday. This week's edition is for those of you who love mystery mixed with a scare or two. First we look at DC's latest issue of Scooby-Doo! Where Are You? Then we'll continue our look at the 2018 Free Comic Book Day offerings with a preview of Howard Lovecraft: Big Book of Summer Fun, based on the trilogy of graphic novels from Arcana Studios.

So let's get started first with my review of 

Scooby-Doo! Where are You? #92
Writers: Ivan Cohen, Scott Peterson, Frank Strom
Artists: Tim Levins, Dan Davis, Scott Neely 
Cover by: Walter Carzon, Horacio Ottolini
Published by DC Comics




Not a hoax! Not a dream! Not an imaginary story!

When a collection of prized masks are stolen at a mystery lover's convention, the Mystery Inc. gang are on the hunt! But as themselves, the detectives are swamped by their fans. So, the team decides to pull a switcheroo and go cosplaying as each other!

Daphne goes as Velma! Shaggy wears the ascot as only Fred can! And Scooby goes as himself!

The cover along is what sold me on this issue. They say not to judge a book by it's cover. They- whom ever they are could not be any more wrong! Featuring a blast from the classic Scooby-Doo past, this was a fun story to start out the book.

The issue had 3 stories total. The middle tale was a play on Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven with Shaggy being terrorized by a mouthy bird! The beginning and ending narrator which was Shaggy as a cupid didn't make sense to me as there wasn't a love interest in this story. But the overall yarn was funny. The final story involves the gang vacationing on a tropical island that is haunted by the ghost of a tribal leader. It was another neat adventure that does a pretty decent job being fresh while classic at the same time.

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I am a huge fan of the sister title Scooby-Doo Team-Up. I felt it was about time that I highlighted this comic from DC and like I mentioned earlier, the cover really helped me with my selection this week. 

I solved the mystery in both of the bookend stories. I like that DC frames the stories this way as to engage readers. The clues are there- you just have to look for them. The Raven parody didn't have a mystery to solve but it did give me some laughs. 

The team at DC does an excellent job with their all-ages books. Unfortunately, I don't think they get as much love as they deserve. Scoody-Doo! Where Are You? is a fun way to gets a few chills without being scared. Though some of the monsters represented in this series can be a little scary for those under the age of 6.

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars.

Scooby-Doo! Where Are You? #92 debuted in stores and digital platforms on April 11, 2018 and is published monthly.

Howard Lovecraft Big Book of Summer Fun FCBD 2018 #1
Published by Arcana Studio
Date: May 5th, 2018
SRP: FREE
Rated: All Ages

Howard Lovecraft stars in an all-new adventure with the events leading up to the animated feature film Howard Lovecraft & The Kingdom of Madness starring Christopher Plummer, Mark Hamill, and Jeffrey Combs. The book also includes a new story from The Steam Engines of Oz that lead up to the events before the animated feature film starring Ron Perlman, William Shatner, and Juliane Hough! And, being a big book of summer fun, there's also games, puzzles, contests, augmented reality, and animation tips from the pros!



Thursday, April 19, 2018

Action Comics #1000

Action Comics #1000

Writers: Paul Dini, Dan Jurgens, Brian Michael Bendis,   et al
Artists: Curt Swan, John Romita Jr., Joshua Middleton, et al

Published by DC Comics

Normally when i review a comic book for Outrightgeekery, I am required to post who the artists and writers for a book are. But if I was to list all of the talent in this book, it would take up the entire review!
The historic Action Comics #1000 was a star-studded event with so many big names it rivals most awards ceremonies. And that’s just the talent! This issue marks the 80th anniversary of the debut of Superman. As a result just about every major player to have ever graced the pages of Action Comics– Batman, Lois Lane, Luthor, and some super-duper guests just too good to mention without spoiling the surprise!
One of the biggest surprises I that it is perfectly okay to mention is that this issue brings about the debut of Brian Michael Bendis into the DC Universe. The final story titled ‘The Truth’ acts as an opening act for the 6-issue The Man of Steelminiseries set to change the Superman mythos later this summer!
Last month DC announced that all of the Superman Family titles including Super Sons and Supergirl were being cancelled to make room for the arrival of Bendis. I was quite concerned that Superman’s cousin was going to wiped from existence AGAIN! But the Maid of Might plays a vital role in the Bendis penned finale. Hopefully, this means Kara Danvers will be playing a big role in the plans Bendis has for Superman.
Action #1000 is an 80-page giant, retailing for $7.99. Most of the time, I hear nothing but complaints for the price with these type of specials. That hasn’t been the case here! I’ve heard nothing but good things in anticipation for this anniversary issue and I felt the same way reading this. Well, I did have one complaint- I didn’t want this amazing tribute to the Man of Steel to end!
Surely this issue is going to sell out. Of course, there will be a second and probably a third print! But if you want to take advantage of getting a first edition, you have better act fast- like faster than a speeding bullet fast! But once you read this amazing issue, you’ll be leaping over tall buildings in a single bound jump for joy!
Worth Consuming!
Rating: 9.5 out of 10 stars.
Review was originally published April 18, 2018 on Outrightgeekery.com.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Just Imagine... Stan Lee Creating The DC Universe Omnibus


Right around 2001, this story took the comic book industry by storm.  Career Marvelite, Stan Lee was going over to DC Comics to create his take on Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Justice League of America!

I wasn't back into comics just yet. But even when I heard this story, I thought it was both awesome and strange. Turns out I wasn't the only one as some of DC's most legendary talents including Joe Kubert, Jim Lee, and Dan Jurgens thought that this was a bizarre pairing too. But every single one of these guys heartily said yes to being a part of this historic project. 

Stan Lee doesn't seek to fix the DC icons. No, he merely gets a chance to create them in the Marvel way he established in the 1960s. Thus, Stan would give his ideas to his artists, they would draw out the characters based on Stan's tutelage and then the Living Legend would fill in all the text bubbles and captions himself. 

The overall premise of this storyline was that the mystic tree of life Yggdrasil was threatened by a demonic menace lead by Reverend Dominic Darrk. So, the tree used it's green hued life force to craft a team of heroes to defend the earth. It would be up to these unlikely heroes to rise against growing threat in an entity known as Crisis...

This book is divided into 2 parts. The classic characters of Batman, Green Lantern and the Flash make up the first half with Robin, Shazam, and the Sandman starring in act two. I preferred the second act of characters a lot more than Stan's take on the founding members of his JLA. Their origins were just too similar to how Marvel legends such as Spider-Man, Thor, and Silver Surfer were laid out by Stan the Man in the early 60s. 

But the second string of heroes such as Aquaman and Catwoman were so different and unique to just about anything on the market. I really hate that Shazam was pretty much a one-and-done thing because that new take on the character was really that good! I want to see this as a live-action series on Syfy! 

My least favorite revamp was Superman. Maybe it's because I am biased as the Man of Steel is my all-time favorite character (though Captain America could reclaim that title at any moment...) But this version of Superman was too much of a butt-head instead of inspiration and he was made way too weak. 

Okay, weakness is a big flaw in most of these characters. DC's characters are known to be sources of limitless power and resolve. The Marvel characters fathered by Stan Lee had weaknesses to which endured to comic book readers. But Stan's DC Universe seems to have chronic fatigue syndrome. 

While I have picked up a couple of Just Imagine issues in my travels through the bargain bins of America, this miniseries wasn't really on my radar. But with Ollie's massive DC blowout, I found this massive 700 page plus edition for only $13 and I could not pass it up!

It was a good read both for entertainment and historical purposes. But it's not the greatest thing from either DC Comics or Stan Lee that I have ever read. The jury is still out on whether I will keep this omnibus or not. It takes up a lot of real estate. However, should you ever come across this collection like I did for such a dramatic discount- do not pass it up! It will keep you entertained for hours.

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars.


Friday, April 13, 2018

Team Taekwondo Book 1: Ara's Rocky Road to White Belt (Family Comic Friday)

Welcome to another edition of Family Comic Friday. We continue our preview of family friendly comics coming out for this year's Free Comic Book Day event on May 5th. But first, we'll learn a little bit of the martial art of Taekwondo as we review ATA International's new line of graphic novels for young reader Team Taekwondo

We've got a lot to cover today, so let's get started...



Team Taekwondo Book 1: Ara's Rocky Road to White Belt
Written by Master Taekwon Lee, Jeffrey Nodelman
Art by Ethen Beavers
Published by Rodale Kids

Poor little Ara. The young turtle is awfully shy and is often overshadowed by the achievements of his older brothers. For Ara, another successful day is finding a new rock for his collection. His just needs a little confidence and he might just get it thanks to a chance encounter.

One day while hunting rocks, Ara goes further than he's ever traveled before. It's here that Ara meets a young tiger named Baeoh. Baeoh is practicing his taekwondo kicks and could use a spotter for the special move of breaking a board with his hands. 

After a successful practice with Ara, Baeoh invites the turtle to follow him to his master's dojo. There, Ara is introduced to the martial art and taught principles of honor, respect and positive self confidence. When the class is over, Ara is invited to return for another class. At the end of that class, Ara could earn a white belt if he can break a board with his hands!

Will Ara accept the challenge? Is he strong enough to break that board? Or will our shy turtle friend seek solace in his comfy shell?

This was a great book for all varieties of young readers. Fans of funny animals, manga and anime will delight in this book. It's also a great introduction to the art of taekwondo.

Parents, if you are afraid that this book will influence your child to beat up people, relax! Yes, the characters in the book practice some sweet flying kicks and steel-handed chops. But the focus of this book is taekwondo's practices of discipline and positivism. 

This book was published by Rodale Books in cooperation with ATA International. ATA International is a North American organization dedication to the study and practice of taekwondo. They have charters for over 1500 individually owned and operated schools and clubs nationwide.

The Team Taekwondo series is written by Master Taekwon Lee, a sixth degree black belt and master instructor along with a fellow practitioner of taekwondo, Jeffery Nodelman. Nodelman has written numerous children's books such as Disney's Doug Chronicles. You can tell who wrote what sections. Master Lee obviously had a hand in the parts of this story where Ara is taught about taekwondo whereas Nodelman designed the scenes where Ara and his father talk about commitment and courage. 

Tackling the artwork for this series is Samurai Jack's Ethen Beavers. That's a good choice for Team Taekwondo as Beavers has extensive experience drawing scenes of martial arts and oriental design thanks to his work on the Cartoon Network property. He creates an adorable line-up of species from the animal kingdom and world of myth to occupy the team.

My only issue was with the coloring at the back of the book. There's a great section at the end that explains the different types of belts that are achieved from practicing taekwondo. One level is supposed to be brown but it really looks black instead. The book doesn't mention that the color is supposed to be brown until later on. Thus I couldn't understand why one student who had a red belt was at a higher belt level than the taekwondo master who had a black belt. 

I don't know if this is Ethen Beavers' fault or the editors. But that one section doesn't translate very well. It's too late to correct in Book 2, which has already been published earlier this year. But if the introduction to taekwondo section is added at the end of all of the books, hopefully the editors will correct this error before the release of Book 3. The third volume of Team Taekwondo is scheduled for release sometime in 2019.

If you find that the young reader in your life is inspired to learn more about taekwondo, look no further than the back page. There you can find a link to redeem a free starter class at an ATA International center nearest you (some restrictions do apply.) 

Recommended for readers aged 6-10, this book might be what sparks a life-long relationship with taekwondo and other martial arts with the young reader in your life. 

Team Taekwondo Book 1: Ara's Rocky Road to White Belt can be found at a variety of online booksellers including Amazon and even your local library now!

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars.





Sparks #1 FCBD 2018
Written by Ian Boothby
Art by Nina Matsumoto

August is a brilliant inventor who is afraid of the outside. Charlie is a crack pilot who isn't afraid of anything. Together these pals save lives every day. They also happen to be cats who pilot a powerful, mechanical dog suit! Always eager to leap into danger, this feline duo have their work cut out for them as they try to thwart Princess, an evil alien bent on enslaving mankind. Don't let the fact that Princess looks like a cute, diaper-wearing baby fool you. She's clever, determined, and totally ruthless. So when Princess and the browbeaten fools she calls servants enact a brilliant and dastardly plan to conquer Earth, August and Charlie pull out all the stops to save the day.
Rated: All-Ages.
SRP: FREE
Release Date: May 5, 2018





This edition of Family Comic Friday was published concurrently on Outrightgeekery.com.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Atomic Blonde (Originally Published as The Coldest City)


An operative from MI-6 is sent to Berlin during the fall of the Berlin Wall. Her mission is to retrieve a missing dossier that lists all of the known American, British, and French spies operating in and about the Steel Curtain.

This book is the inspiration behind the 2017 hit action movie Atomic Blonde starring Charlize Theron. From reviews I read about the film, it's supposed to be a shoot-em up. beat-em up thriller with levels of excitement set to 11. So when I saw the book at my local library, I snatched it up thinking that I would be in for a fast-paced treat. What I got instead was a snooze fest!

I've seen livelier farm reports on the noon news. The so-called Atomic Blonde was diesel fueled at best. There's one scene that gets the blood pumping, but it's nothing like the few scenes of the live action film I've viewed. 

At the heart of this book is an interesting mystery. But with some very weak code names and non-distinct artwork, it makes for a very perplexing read. I will say that the last 15 pages or so were the best part of the entire book and it bumped up my enjoyment level... slightly. 

There's supposed to be a prequel to this book. I really don't have much desire to read it. If they'd change the artwork to where half of the characters didn't look like the other half, I would be interested. But I don't think that's gonna happen.

So spy and thriller comic book enthusiasts will enjoy this book. But if the Charlize Theron film is your expectation with this graphic novel, you are going to be disappointed.

Rating: 5 out of 10 stars.