Sunday, May 24, 2020

Superman: For Earth


What Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was to nuclear disarmament, this book is to the ecology.

Lois Lane is tasked to cover a conference on global sustainability issues and it causes her to have some serious concerns about the viability of the Earth. Thus, Superman tries to take on conservation and cleaning up the planet. But he finds that it's a task impossible for one man, even if it's a Superman, to do alone. 

A lot of folks claim that between DC and Marvel, DC Comics is the less preachy of the big two. Well, this book would be a good example to prove folks wrong. 

At one point, Superman takes on some loggers in Brazil. And the head honcho, despite being a giant douche, makes a good point. He tells The Man of Steel that it's hypocritical for the hero to tell other countries what to do with their natural resources but the hero does nothing to the Americans. 

Well, that scene got me thinking. Is DC practicing what it preached in this 1991 graphic novel? Superman: For Earth is a book that needed trees to print it. And yes, this book was printed on recycled paper. While that's good for the sake of this book, I don't think DC Comics kept up with the practice for very long. 

The recycled paper makes for this book to look way older than it is. The inks have an almost sepia tone to them. If not for the prestige format, which I know began in the mid-80s, I would have said that this book was from the mid-70s. (Yes, that recycled paper seemed to degrade that much.)

At the end of the book, there's 2 pages of eco-charities listed for people to contribute to and such. Being nearly 30 years old, I wonder how many of these still exist. I'd actually be interested to research that one day.

An okay book that does explore some important aspects of Clark and Lois' impending nuptials in terms of their decision about children. But above all, this was a propaganda piece. 

Rating: 6 out of 10 stars.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Bear (Family Comic Friday)

There's an exciting new graphic novel coming this summer from Archaia! Check out this preview of Bear in this week's Family Comic Friday!

Bear (Hardcover)
Writer: Ben Queen
Artist: Joe Todd-Stanton
Published by Archaia
Pages: 160
Retail: $24.99


Bear is a guide dog. From a family of police dogs, all Bear has ever wanted to do is serve. Overlooked by the police academy, it seems that Bear will never achieve his dream to helps others. The puppy finally gets his chance when Bear is paired with his blind master, Patrick. Unfortunately, Bear's mission is seriously compromised when he suddenly one day loses his sight.

Afraid to not be able to be a guide dog any more, a panicked Bear runs away from home. Hearing of a miracle lying in the woods beyond his home, Bear wanders alone seeking a way to regain his sight and runs into another bear. The grizzly kind!

Now the unlikely pairing of Bear and bear run amok seeking to save the guide dog's sight while hopefully being reunited with owner Patrick. It's a comedy of errors that evolves into the self-discovery that being blind means that one can see just as well with their other senses!

Bear was one of the most beautiful books I have read. The way Joe Todd-Stanton paints these ethereal displays of how the blind pup sees the world with his hearing, touch, taste and smell was so magnificent.

For instance, there's a scene in which Bear hears a choirs in a nearby cathedral. The imagery of what Bear imagines this setting to look like filled my mind with bellows of organ pipes and voices of angelic singers. Todd-Stanton doesn't use any sound effects for this scene. But I could hear volumes thanks to his wondrous art!

Ben Queen's story is just as superb as Joe Todd-Stanton's art. I must confess however that when my editor asked me to review this book I balked. I've been burned by promising projects starring animals that end up having some tragic death of a beloved furry character. 

SPOILER- I can attest that no animals were seriously harmed in the making of this book.
Bear is an original graphic novel that the whole family will fall in love with. It's got humor, drama, and above all else- heart! The message of perseverance and overcoming personal challenges is a story that will resonate with any and all!  There's even a little bit of romance between a couple of characters. Nothing mushy. But it does help make for the perfect ending.

It's a real shame that this book isn't available in a format for the visually impaired. This would be such an inspiring story for a child dealing with blindness. However, if a young reader with sight has a family member or friend that is experiencing the effects of vision loss, Bear is the perfect introduction into that person's day-to-day life with the disability. I feel you really get a chance to experience life as a person with blindness thanks to the artwork especially.

This is one of those rare stories that you want to know more with a sequel. But I think if you added more to Bear and Patrick's story, you'd ruin how perfect it is. I think we definitely have another nominee for all ages graphic novel of the year!

Bear will debut in August, 2020. It's currently available for pre-order now! Help a struggling comic shop recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and order a copy today!

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars.

This review was concurrently published on Outrightgeekery.com.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Superman: The Odyssey

Graham Nolan and Chuck Dixon compose a story set during Clark's pre-Metropolis years. Wanting to find himself, Clark Kent has taken a gap year travelling the globe. While in Paris, Clark attracts the attention of an alluring woman. Her father is the spiritual leader of a small besieged Asia country. Terrorists from China seek to kidnap the young woman as leverage for the surrender of the land to Big Bad China. Thus, Clark travels to her native land to ensure her safety.

For once, Clark Kent has a love interest without the initials of LL. But that's not what is so refreshing about this story. It's the direct response that opposes the Communist Chinese and how they bully smaller nations such as Taiwan or Tibet into becoming a part of their Empire. 

Using terms like 'Chi-Coms' and the severe beat-down Superman gives the Red Army are things you would not see in a DC Comic in 2020. China is considered too much of a vital fan base, that studios and publishers will edit scenes, even entire films, that are not considered China friendly. (We do the same for the Russians and Middle-Eastern Muslim nations too!) But this book was published over 20 years ago, when it seemed that any and everyone was willing to stand for a 'FREE TIBET.'

My wife is very pro-Tibet and this is the sort of graphic novel that if you sought an end to Chinese Communist rule, it truly will inspire you. Seeing The Man of Steel finally take a stand for justice was so refreshing. In case you forgot, Supes was very much like Sweden with it came to the Second World War, Korea, Vietnam and The Gulf War. 

They really don't make comics like this anymore. 

Oh, and that Easter egg. Freakin' awesome!

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 9 out of 10 FREE TIBETS!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Batman: Overdrive (Family Comic Friday)

Batman has almost always had his Batmobile. Now you can learn the origins of the world’s most iconic superhero sportster in the pages of the new graphic novel Batman: Overdrive!

Batman: Overdrive
Written by Shea Fontana
Illustrated by Marcelo DiChiara
Published by DC Comics
Pages: 136
Retail: $9.99


If you are familiar with Batman, then his origin story should be old hat. As a youngster, Bruce Wayne watches as a robbery gone wrong takes the lives of his parents. Now an orphan, Bruce channels his rage into one day finding the killer. Through intense physical and mental training, Bruce becomes The Batman, the world’s greatest detective. 

But how did Batman get his Batmobile?

That question is answered in this all-new graphic novel by Shea Fontana (DC Superhero Girls) and Marcelo DiChiara (Smallville). Batman: Overdrive is framed similarly to the Fox TV series, Gotham. Both have a teenaged Bruce Wayne becoming acquainted with many of the characters years before he would when he becomes Batman. Yet like Gotham, as much as such a plot makes my brain itch. Shea Fontana makes it work. 

We don’t see Bruce Wayne being directly involved in the origins of villains such as Two-Face, Mister Freeze or The Joker. Instead, Bruce engages in characters that for the most part could be in Gotham City pre-Batman. Of course, there’s Selina Kyle as an orphaned cat burglar roaming the streets of Gotham City. Pamela Isley and Harleen Quinzel are here too. The only character I objected to was in the inclusion of a teen version of Lady Shiva. I think it would have made more sense having that character be Katana instead.

Overdrive introduces fans to an all-new character in Mateo Diaz. An expert mechanic, it’s him that inspires Bruce to soup up his Batmobile into a fearsome automobile fortress. Whereas Lucius Fox is the real character who did this in the comics, Fox is also too old for a 15-year old Bruce to be going out in the middle of the night to fight crime with. Plus, Mateo was a very well written character that I would like to see pop up in the pages of the adult Batman books. 

The main focus of this book is the relationship between Bruce and Alfred. It’s uneasy as Bruce doubts his butler’s sincerity as a caregiver. A real mystery is uncovered when Bruce discovers evidence that Alfred used to work for crime boss Carmine Falcone at one point! Could Batman’s faithful butler actually be behind the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne?

If you love cars, you will love this book. There’s dozens of great automobiles and several Bullit-level car chases in this graphic novel. In fact, I think I like Marcelo DiChiara’s illustrations of the machinery way more than I did of the characters. They looked a little too generic for me. But those cars! Even the Mateo’s hunk o’ junk VW Beetle looks pretty sweet. 

Batman: Overdrive gives small little nods to the rich 80-year plus history of the Dark Knight. But there’s several Easter egg nods to the 1966 Batman TV show that I enjoyed the most. This graphic novel doesn’t seek to rewrite the history of Batman. But it does modify it just as Bruce and Mateo do with the ‘66 Crusader that is destined to become The Caped Crusader’s most trusted ally!

An entertaining book that builds on decades of comic book lore while not being stale. This is a graphic novel that Batman fans of all generations will love!

Batman: Overdrive debuted in print and digital formats on March 3, 2020.

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars.

This review was concurrently published on Outrightgeekery.com.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Mort by Terry Pratchett

Death takes an apprentice. He also takes a powder. 

A major plot in almost every Discworld novel has been how modern concepts have bleed into the near medieval-level society. This sort of fusion of old and new has resulted in some very hilarious situations. And it all starts here with Mort!

Mort becomes Death's apprentice. But in reality, Death is looking for someone to take the yolk of grim reaper off his back so that he can really 'live'. When Mort interferes with assassination of a young princess, the Not-So Grim Reaper sets off events that threatens to unravel the very fabric of reality. 

I'm not going to spoil this book too much if possible. But things that Death explains to Mort at the end of this book greatly explains why things get anachronistic from here on out. 

Again, you don't have to read the Discworld books in order. But as I am starting to re-read some of these books, such as Mort, I am finding that it really helps. Mort is the fourth book in the series and I had read it years ago. But I am finding that I didn't understand how vital this volume was to the entire run of novels written by Sir Terry. 

As Mort is an early book, it lacks some of that polish that you might see in some later books. But with making Death a main character, I feel that Pratchett's vision for his Discworld series really started to take shape. Rincewind is an okay character. But he's no Death! 

A good book that establishes a major plot thread though 30+ other novels. But it's got a way to go to being as good as those later books.

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Twisted Toyfare Theatre, Volume 7


OH MY GOD!

I can't believe that I've been sitting on this book for so long and I hadn't read it yet! I have 5 of the 11 published volumes. I've read the first 4 books literally a dozen times. Needing a gigantic pick-me-up, I grabbed my stash of TFTs and gave them another read. And then we've got this one!

It's full of later era Toyfare productions. The photography, set designs, and special effects has taken a quantum leap. But the humor is the same as usual. 

THANK GOD!

My sense of humor is more surrealist, black comedy stuff. Things like Monty Python, The Tick, and Deadpool. But when things get closer to toilet humor (and none of the 3 previously mentioned franchises are innocent of diving into that end of the pool), I DO tend to shy away. Yet, if you have a bunch cheaply made 1970s toys acting out explosive diarrhea, violence and general horseplay, I am a sucker for it. 

This is a big reason I am a huge fan of Robot Chicken! Which interestingly enough, some of the writers and staff, including Tom Root (and one one occasion, Seth Green) cut their teeth on Twisted Toyfare Theatre! No wonder I love it.

There's 6 more volumes left. 4 more than I thought. Sadly, these suckers are not easy to find. Currently out of print, and likely never to be reprinted again due to Wizard Magazine having gone defunct, the volumes I can find are not cheap. But man, do I want the whole series!

Featuring a surreal forward from Weird Al and more entries from the Official Handbook of Twisted Toyfare Theatre- this was a pleasant surprise on my bookshelves!

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Cemetery Plots #1-3

Welcome to the old graveyard. The ultimate graveyard; where everyone who ever lived and died are now resting. The cemetery's groundskeeper, D.O. Mann knows where all the bodies are buried and he knows all the stories as to how those bodies got there. Do you have what it takes to explore Cemetery Plots?

Cemetery Plots
Written by Dan Johnson, Marvin Mann, Roger McKenzie, Various
Art by Steve Casper, Paul Tuma, Brandon Bullock, Various
Published by Empire Comics Lab


Comics veteran Dan Johnson takes the helm in a new horror comics series called Cemetery Plots. Issue #3 just dropped and the series is fantastic. It's a great mix of modern horror and those old school E.C. horror comics we grew up reading under the covers.

The artwork as does the genres of horror, vary from story to story. There's a Egyptian mummy love story that spans millennia. A sci-fi tale of robotic terror set in a Judge Dredd type metropolis. I don't think I'll ever forget the twists of the tale of two stalkers and the lengths they go through in the age of social media. But I think my favorite tale was one of the most simple horror stories ever told. It was an innovative concept known as the 'Two Sentence Horror Story.' I really hope to see more of those in the future!

Speaking of future issues, there's a great chance for horror fans to get in on the fun. For only $15, you can put a name on one of the tombstones in D.O. Mann's boneyard! Put your name or a friends name. Maybe an ex or a boss you just can't stand. I'm trying to get my wife and mother-in-law in on letting us create an entire burial plot composed of our whole family! Wouldn't that be the ultimate family gift???

If you want to become a part of horror comic history, you'll need to act fast. Empire Comics Lab hope to have issue #4 coming out in October just in time for Halloween!

If you love horror anthology, you will love Cemetery Plots. It's got great stories. Eclectic artwork. And it's got that classic old school horror vibe, too!

Issues #1,2 and 3 are currently available for sale online at the Empire Comics Lab website.
If your LCS doesn't carry Cemetery Plots, do like Stan Lee told us to do in the old days, and demand they start carrying this spooky new anthology today! And if your really good (and nearby), I hear that some of the talents might even arrange a book signing while there at it!
Wow! What a opportunity for you as a comic book fan to put a personal mark on the industry you love!

Worth Consuming!

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars.

 This review was originally published Friday, May 8th, 2020 on Outrightgeekery.com.

To inquire about personalizing your own tombstone in D.O. Mann's graveyard, contact Dan Johnson directly at danielbryanjohnson@hotmail.com.