Friday, April 8, 2016

Rant Reviews Where I Check-In on Some Series

It's Not Only About Brand-New Stuff
I of course love to review and discuss new series. That said, they are plenty of ongoing series and mini-series I've been reading which deserve some attention too. Shall we review some?

As We Resume Reading...
Regular Show #34
I always enjoy a good 15-minute burst of, "Regular Show," with its quirky sense of humor complimenting my desire for televised absurdity very well. The tie-in comic is now up to its 34th issue and with this one we begin a new three-part arc where Mordecai and Rigby argue about which movie action-heroes have the best weapons. It is as usual a seemingly simple concept that flies off into all sorts of zaniness and hints at some dangerous trouble brewing for the next issue. There also is a funny back-up where the guys face-off against some bikers who also happen to be little babies. Again, it is very silly and if you don't have the kind of humor the show appeals to you may scratch your head in confusion about why people enjoy this stuff. However, should you be like me, and like a dollop of weird with your jokes, you'll have some fun with this.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #97
This issue concludes a short story-arc which follows Tarot, her fiance Jon, and sister Raven, as they are transported into a surreal horror-tinged world apparently set within a demonic video-game console. The result is our heroes falling prey to various horror motifs (Tarot becomes a Frankenstein's monster, Raven is turned into a vampire, and Jon finds himself moprhed into a werewolf), and fighting against the evil entities of the world. I enjoyed this issue, and writer-artist Jim Balent sure can draw a superb werewolf. My only big complaint would be that the ending feels rushed and a bit anti-climatic, with another character who has activated the evil game console simply having himself disconnected from it, allowing Tarot, Raven, and Jon, to be transported back to the real world. I wouldn't have minded this story being allowed to breathe a bit with a third issue that follows our heroes working to find a way out of the twisted horror-world, but perhaps I'm just saying that because werewolf-Jon looked really cool. Whatever the case, as "Tarot," approaches issue #100--a huge milestone for any comic, especially an independent one--it continues to be as enjoyable as ever.
4 out of 5 stars.

Jacked #5
Written by Eric Kripke--who apparently helped create the show, "Supernatural," which my sister-in-law adores, "Jacked," has been a darkly humorous take on what happens when a normal guy named Josh who desperately wants to be powerful finds a drug named Jacked that inexplicably makes him, well, "Jacked." It has been a fun series so far but this issue really brings things to a head when Josh confronts some gangsters while high on some expired Jacked. This allows the artists, John Higgins and Marc Olivent to draw some impressively bizarre hallucinations ranging from talking snack-cakes to a brief appearance of some DC heroes (being a Vertigo comic has its perks if you want a Superman or Batman cameo it seems). The series started out a bit more sarcastic and fun before getting a bit more depressing, but a scene here where Josh realizes his family is the most important thing to him of all regardless of Jacked is sweet if a little bit on-the-nose. There is one issue left in this mini-series and I hope things work out okay for Josh, which is a sign of good writing when you care enough about a fictional character to desire they turn-out alright.
4 out of 5 stars.

Saga #35
Do I honestly need to review this? I mean, it's, "Saga." Many people love it, a few folk inexplicably hate it, but I find it to be one of the most consistently entertaining and engaging comics coming out. Plus, as this issue draws a bunch of plot threads together it is exciting to guess how much havoc is going to be breaking out soon. A good way to summarize this is to simply say: "'Saga,' it's the comic everyone should be reading." Plus, as is pointed out in the letters page, this is the issue before the last one which will be followed usual in-between-arcs-break has a literal cliffhanger, that's always fun!
5 out of 5 stars.

Spook #4
I read this and realized it was actually the last issue of the mini-series, making it less a case of checking-in on a comic than it is observing the conclusion. I'm still going to review it though because I found the series pretty interesting overall if a bit slow-moving at times. The basic idea is the CIA has in fact been able to turn a dead agent into a ghost--although it took until the end of issue #2 for that to occur--and thankfully after the slower-start things picked-up with the third issue and this now concluding one. The artwork is solid, a bit scratchy and impressionistic, and the plot has an interesting hook with some good dialogue even if the exact motivations of certain characters at times seems a little unclear (so why did the bad guy keep a potential threat alive? He doesn't ever really give a particularly good reason). Still, it was a solid read that hints at future series where more CIA ghost-agents are around, so if a sequel occurs I'll check it out, methinks.
3 out of 5 stars.

The Wicked and the Divine #18
Man, it really seems like forever since that last issue, and it in fact has been a couple of months as there was a break before this new episode in the increasingly twisty and complex, "WIC+DIV," as the kids call it--I think, at least; who knows what kids are into these days? Things definitely start off with a bang, as it is revealed someone we all thought dead--Laura, the main character for much of the earlier issues--is in fact doing quite alright, and ready to raise a bit of a ruckus. A ruckus does indeed get raised, as this is one of the most action-packed issues of the series thus far--writer Kieron Gillen admits in the back-matter that this latest story-arc is one where if something could blow up, it will. I'm quite excited to see where things go now.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Vision #6
This issue a whole bunch of nasty truths come out, some disturbing home surgery is performed and shit otherwise continues to get real. Awesome stuff. Seriously though, who would have predicted some months ago a comic about a robot (pardon me, synthezoid) that almost zero people care about would turn into what is possibly the best comic--not just best Marvel comic, but best comic, period--currently on the stands? From the intensely ominous first issue to the growing violence, fear, and general paranoia in later ones, a book about a lame Avenger within six issues has turned into a must-read series that has been confirmed as ending with issue #12, but if writer Tom King says that lets him tell the entire story he wanted to tell before going-off and becoming DC-exclusive then dear God let's treasure this half-way point. I say we should treasure it because the sixth issue is another stupendous piece within this magnum opus that is already being compared with other comic masterworks.
5 out of 5 stars.

It's Good to Keep in Touch
It is always good to check-in on titles, I'm glad they all seem to be doing at least moderately well or continuing to prove themselves as excellent.

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