Wednesday Adventures 4th August

comic, Comic spotlight, First Impressions, marvel, Uncategorized

A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

Spirits of Vengeance: Spirit Rider-Marvel Comics

The last thing I thought I’d find myself doing last year (besides you know, going out) was going to bat for a comic written by one quarter of what is arguably one of the most annoying “groups” bothering the charts in recent years, the Back Eyed Peas. Snobbery aside Taboo taking on the writing duties of the lesser known cult title “werewolf by night” surprised by being low key and without the “flash” one would associate with a pop star. His unique native American viewpoint that he brought to the pages of that book, dealing with weighty issues such as native land rights and community was genuinely authentic and refreshing when paired with the books ridiculous premise.

Originally making her debut in 2016’s “Sorcerer supreme” as the ghost rider of the 1800’s,albeit with the powers of the sorcerer supreme, Kushala now finds herself smack dab in the present of the Marvel 616 to help ensure “a new era of vengeance”. Davidsons artwork strikes a stunning balance between the type of imagery that we’ve seen with Robbie Reyes in the staring role and the classic 70’s Ghost Rider comics with colouring from Veregge that pops with neon blues and pinks that really showcases Kushala and her unique way of ghost riding.

While only a one shot, I hope it actually marks the start of seeing more of the lesser known characters being given the Taboo treatment and hopefully more titles from him in the future.

Wednesday Adventures 9th March


A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

Manic of New York #5- Aftershock comics

It’s probably my own fault I didn’t notice sooner, but haven’t Aftershock been putting out a slew of amazing books lately? The kind of experimental, weirdo comics that used to have a home at Vertigo, Aftershock and it’s creators are taking risks on some more out there concepts such as breakups viewed through the lense of technology in the weirdly haunting Lonely Receiver to mycelial social networks in the beautifully violent I Breathed a body. Maniac of New York by writer Elliot Kalan and artist Andrea Mutti takes the well worn tropes of the gory eighties slasher flicks like Friday the 13th, with it’s seemingly unstoppable and frenzied killer and picking up on the story years later. The public already worn out by years of attacks and no way to stop him have settled into acceptance and taken his violent and sudden attacks as just another inconvenience. Even the news reports speculations on his attacks with all the breezy aid back air of a weather report.

Although the story leans heavily into it’s social commentary ,depicting a not unfamiliar world were the rich and influential are able to avoid the worst of the maniacs attack, and the general public are lulled into acceptance when it becomes clear to the government that they are powerless to do anything. Kalan shows us how ridiculous situations are like this and the public becoming used to them by making said threat a blood soaked, frenzied killer. Even the info dumps support this, a previous issue informing us that attacks of “three or less” are not recorded, as to downplay his threat and fudge the details. Particularly resonant given out current pandemic climate, the majority of us relying on accurate information about threats to our health. However it never forgets it is a comic though and balances all this with a taunt, edge of your seat story complimented perfectly by Mutti’s depictions of snow covered, blood spattered backdrop of a city under siege. Horrific, thought provoking and well worth checking out.

Wednesday Adventures 26th May

comic, marvel, review

A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

Beta Ray Bill #3-Marvel Comics

Johnson has currently roped me in with the hugely silly, bonkers pitches for his books, only then to reveal them to be absolute emotional gutpuches, three or four times now. I’m not sure why I expected any differently even when the comic is primarily about a magical asgardian space horse, but the emotional complexity and pathos already crammed in the first two issues alone still blindsided me. I came for the wild pacing and frenetic action (which I got), but have stayed for the story of self discovery and growth.

Each of the cast is battling with their own deep insecurities over their place in the universe, not least Bill who is also struggling with his current appearance and people’s reactions to it. After the destruction of Stormbreaker he has found himself stuck in his more famous form and Johnson has put this front and centre, somehow writing a touching and subtle plot about dysphoria in a cosmic Marvel comic, and to great effect. All his works delve deep into the emotional lives of their characters and this is shaping up to be his strongest one so far. The artwork is unspringingly stunning throughout, filed with punchy, pacy action scenes, onomatopoeia filled  panels and some gorgeous double page spreads that leaves me wondering where they will go with the next issue

Reptil #1-Marvel Comics

With their recent-ish streak of introducing new teenage superheroes that find a lasting and dedicated fanbase as well as broad popularity, it’s surprising that not that long ago Marvel were creating a lot of teen heroes that never quite caught on due to indifference or never really being given a chance by the publisher, going even as far as culling a lot of them in the mean spirited Hunger Games-lite, Avengers Arena.

Reptil was one of the more interesting characters from around this time, being able to turn parts of himself all dino,but bar a few minor appearances here and there has mainly been forgotten and lost in comic book limbo for the last decade. The new series from writer Terry Blas and artist Enid Balam is hopefully aiming to channel the same magic that brought us Kamala Khan and Miles Morales as the young hero gets his first ongoing solo title. The Landscape he is entering in the wake of Kamala’s Law and the recent Outlawed storyline definitely looks like he’ll be jumping straight into the thick of things and I look forward to seeing his eventual interactions with The Champions.

Wednesday Adventures 19th May

Comic spotlight, marvel, review, Uncategorized

A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

The Immortal Hulk:Time of Monsters

With what will undeniably go down as one of the definitive, all time best runs on the Hulk it’s time to get as much of Ewing’s immortal green goliath as you can before the quickly approaching fiftieth issue and the green door closes for good. That includes the series of rather excellent one shots that have been spread throughout the series. Proving what a flexible concept Ewing has created with his “immortal” version of the big green guy, the title has given rise to a series of one shots, also from a stellar line up and artists such as Jeff Lemire and Declan Shelvey to both satiate the demand from fans and explore the character of the indomitable ‘Devil Hulk’ and his plans to destroy the human world. Even the seemingly dumb sounding ones like “what if the Hulk was in Peter Parker” turned out to be a fascinating look into his relationship with Banner and his green companion.

Alex Paknadel,of Redfork and Arcadia fame is on writing duties and set to introduce what he has called a “menacing and beautiful” original Hulk, set way before Banner came into the picture. Around 1000 years before in fact. Paknadel’s writing is the exact sort of atmospheric and creepy for the Immortal Hulk and thrilling to see one of my favourite writers putting his own mark on the Marvel Universe.

Red Room #1

Having compressed both the entire hip-hop family tree and the byzantine history of the X-Men down so that even idiots like me can grasp it, artist Ed Piskor returns with a new monthly title, Red Room. 

Not only is this his first foray into the gruelling monthly title, it also marks his first work exploring his own ideas, free from the restraints of years of internal history or real life events. Wasting no time at all he’s gone straight in for the good stuff, putting his own unique cartooning talents to work on the most sordid and titillating tales of depravity to be had in the internets darkest corners, the private murder rooms of the tittle. Dubbing it an “outlaw comic” fans of his previous works will already be eager to see what vulgarity and mayhem his imagination will bring in Red Room now that he has the chance to stretch out into his own ideas and deliver the “rivers of gore” that the cover promises.

Micro-review: Time Before Time#1


No matter how bad you think your present is at the moment, the ‘future’ of 2140, the present for Time Before Times protagonists Tatsuo and Oscar is far, far shittier. A heightened version of our own troubles with background details proclaiming it’s utter bleakness. Crop failures, raddical drops in global GDP and even graffiti dejectedly informing the reader “It’s too late!”. Which is why those with the means to do so are jumping ship to hide away in the past and have a better life. The perfect solution, if you have the money and influence. For the rest, far from being a world changing revolution that opens up all of time, has become just another corrupt and broken system to keep people shackled. New tech same bullshit schemes. Realising in true crime-noir fashion that there always be “one last job” working for people like the syndicate, hatches a plan to steal a time pod for himself.

Okay, so far, so Lopper right? While the premise will be familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of pop culture and sci-fi, the writing team of Declan Shalvey and Rory McConville distinguish it immediately from the crowd with stunningly deep and solid character work. You feel immediately for the bedragged Tatsuo,who despite his sci-fi profession of travelling through time seems as word weary and tired as anyone else just scrabbling to survive. There’s no joy in seeing the 60’s or 80’s in his tired expressions and by the time of the inciting incident that finally pushes him into action I’d found myself completely wrapped up in his story and wellbeing.

Even before the actual time travel, Joe Palmer’s artwork with its mignola-esque quality illustrates just how slippery and elusive time can be, depicting Oscar and Tatsuo’s plan as what seems like a singular conversation, revealed in the art to be taking place over a full year. One of many great moments in this first issue and a good indication we are in for more visual treats as the book continues. The colouring by Chris O’Halloran deserves highlighting here. Even without the cinematic date panels at each jump, his colouring gives up distinct visual clues. Signposting immediately where in time we are with clever colour choices associated with them, saturating them in an almost over the top nostalgia way that gives this issue a definite, easy to read flow. The rest of the time 2041 is drenched in a suitably muted palette of grimy and gritty hues that once again reinforce the dire time period. A gripping and tense first issue that while wearing it’s influences on it’s sleeves does what many of them never could in slowing down to show us the human element often missed in huge sci-fi concept driven stories with the fully realised characters Shalvey and McConvile have placed at the centre of their new title.

“You can’t buy what we got here today, a perfect launch”- Howard and Foche get down to business in X-Corp’s debut issue

marvel, review

“I’ve seen what you do here” declares Magneto way, way back in the fourth issue of Hickmans ground-up rebuilding of the X-Men, setting out their new shockingly subtle new plan for survival “We will buy your banks, we will buy your schools, we will buy your media…because you have taught us that everything has a price”. Tini Howard and Albert Foche’s X-Corp feels very much like the writers and indeed, mutantkind starting to make good on Erik’s chilling promise. While Marauders gave us tantalising glimpses of the destabilizing effects the new Krakoan drugs alone were having on the world at large, X-Corp embraces the idea as it’s central premise. 

Reviving the business wing of Xavier’s mutant interests for the Krakoan era is Warren Worthington (Angel) and Monet St Coix (Penance) and this debut issue finds them set to expand those interests beyond the flowers and wonder drugs into every other area possible, but not,unsurprisingly without a fight from the deeply entrenched and monied humans who have been getting their hands dirty a lot longer than the fledgling mutant nation. In fact one of the most wonderful and borderline satirical moments of the issue has businessman Jean-Pierre Koi attempting to derail the mutants pharmaceutical holdings in the most annoyingly petty and oddly believable way possible, threatening X-corp not with overblown villainy or destruction, but with a call to the UN about concerns over the “exploitation of the Savage Lands”. An ironic and inevitable response to Magento’s bluster.

With such an expansive roster of characters across the mutant part of the Marvel universe there is always going to be a perfect fit for any new team that gets assembled to fill a new need on the island and Warren and Monet while being among the feared and hated have always been from a background of wealth and relative influence too, both preparing them for the forthcoming battles not across dimensions but in boardrooms and meeting. While not characters I’ve been fond of in the past it’s strength for me, like a lot of the X-books has been to reintroduce me to characters and win me over with them. God only knows what a herculean feat Hellions is pulling off by making me even like Mr Sinister or the complete 180 Cable managed to pull. Howard definitely makes me want to give Mr Worthington another chance, even after one issue.

Foche’s art is crisp and clean and in line with the corporate angle and does a lot of the heavy lifting in keeping things interesting whenever the book starts to get jargon heavy or complicated. In particular the depictions of X-corps headquarters with it’s glowing spires and open air spaces are simply jaw droppingly gorgeous, none so much than in the finale, which I won’t spoil here. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the eye catching cover by David Aja, an aesthetic fit for the already striking and paired down design pioneered by Tom Muller across the X-men line, showing both Angel and Penance in both their business and superhero guises, emphasising the strange middleground the characters now find themselves in.

Writer Tini Howard fills X-Corp with plenty of action and intrigue for a title concerning itself with the corporate side of mutant affairs and although the start has a lot of initial setup and reintroduction of the mutant drugs concept, by the end it displays it hasn’t forgotten that at it’s hear it is a superhero comic and comes to a tense and action filled finale that sets up the series for the future. Readers expecting a more power filled mutant slug-fest might find the sometimes jargon heavy dialogue or quiet set pieces a bit dry,but that’s the beauty of the X-Men titles under the watchful guidance of Hickman, there is most likely going to be a particular flavour that you like for you to delve into whether it be the classic liberate mutants from harm in Marauders or hack and slash action in X-Force. X-Corp fills an oddly specific niche but a nevertheless fascinating one that gently pushes the boundaries of the entire mutant concept beyond the basic “struggle for survival” that is less important with the foundation of a safe haven in Krakoa. Exploring their impact and place in the world beyond feared and hated outsiders makes for a more nuanced and thought provoking line of books that X-Corp is now a part of.


“If I can put our past aside, can you forgive me for my pride?” Zecora returns home in My Little Pony: Friendship is magic #91


As a comics fan I’ve managed to grow a much thicker skin when it comes to the regularly occurring discussion of “are comics art” or the dis”it’s kids stuff. When Allan Moore accuses comics of causing a “deliberate, self-imposed state of emotional arrest” it makes my appreciation of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic a really difficult stance to defend. What? It’s a great comic and it succeeds for exactly the same reason the now ten year old rebooted cartoon did by being bright, colourful,charming and uncomplicated in terms of real life. I know exactly what the appeal is and where it fits into my reading diet. It’s the comics equivalent of a huge,warm comforting blanket and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s the warm and reassuring kind of media we’ve all retreated and relied on even more in 2020. Oh,that’s not to say that the Ponies don’t have huge adventures and even bigger problems,but there cute problems! The “Mane Six” can usually untangle any complication within an issue or two without too much bother. Although the series ended last year, the comic gallops on into season 10 straddling the line perfectly with being a great all ages read whist still appealing to the older ‘Brony’ side of the fandom without pandering to them.

Such is the creators’ confidence in My Little Pony at this stage,the new ‘season’ begins without the involvement of the regular familiar faces, instead focusing on Apple Jack, the rhyming zebra Zecora and a whole cast of new characters in her old friends. A mixture of Zebra’s, kelpies and other characters keep the comic constantly inventive with a lot more world building than is surely needed for a ‘kids comic’.

There can be no doubt that creative team over at IDW know the show inside and out but are also dyed in the wool geeks themselves as this issue begins with Zecora recalling in true D&D style an imaginary adventure she played with her old friends journeying across “The Desert of Infinity” as they cross a far more real and perilous desert. The recollection ends with the revelation she is a true DM and ended it when she “got fed up and told us we all died of heatstroke!”

Longtime FiM artist Andy Price takes up art duties on season 10 and while he has always taken cues from the show has developed a look that’s in keeping with the animation whilst being clearly distinct. A little more cartoony, his ponies emote with the best of them and appear expressive and elastic. Clean, cheerful and exuberant art that is filled with adorable background details and outstanding character design for the new additions to the gang.

Did I say it was uncomplicated earlier? Well the thread running throughout the adventure this issue is Zecora reconciling with her friends whilst realising that their will always be different perspectives to events, even if we have thought of them as immutable as she asks her former friends “If I can put our past aside, can you forgive me for my pride?” This is all before the issue delivers on the warning “there is singing in this comic” on its cover and bursts into a fullon musical number that was a Hallmark of the series on screen,translating it onto the page through Prices framing and pop culture nods to show the different styles coming into play. When Zecora appears in a very iconics yellow leather jacket it’s evident that the song has reached it’s epic stadium anthem conclusion.

Micro review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #111


Through a combination of moral outrage over the word “ninja” and the fact that the trading cards had strips of bubblegum in them, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles was always a property I was generally steered away from. I was never exposed to the cartoon and generally had zero nostalgia or interest for the sewer-dwelling reptiles. I don’t mention this to drum up sympathy or get some catharsis but to drive home just how good a series IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is that I’m over one hundred issues deep into a franchise I had no interest in before now. Even with that many issues, the title continues to be exciting and inventive for new and old fans alike.

Ten issues into her run and Sophie Cambell has the turtles firmly entrenched in their new lives in Mutant Town, a quarantined neighborhood on Manhattan’s East Side built to house the sudden rise in the mutant population, having to work together to try and build something and function as a larger community. Although this arc has so far seen the turtles building lives and discovering themselves beyond fighting, this issue does plunge them back into the action as they defend their new home from Hob’s spies in classic ninja fashion. With stealth and silence being the key to the Ninja’s plans, Jodi Nishijimi’s art expertly paces the action and ramps up the suspense, capturing the sudden moments of action and an almost eerie silence as fear begins to overcome the intruders.

Campbell’s writing is extraordinary when stepping away from the action and giving us intense personal moments with the extensive cast of the comic. In this issue she gives us the very emotionally raw exchange Mona has with her parents, revealing herself on a video call to explain that she is a mutant. Justifiably distraught at their disgust and rejection she subsequently finds some support and solace with fellow mutant Sally.

Final Verdict: A series that continues to stun with new and inventive twists that has something for old and new fans alike that has a real heart to it.

Originally posted on

Micro Review: Strange Academy #4


For all its brilliant reinvention and wide range of titles, the current X-Men line has left an obviously glaring gap in its range of books. With the majority of mutantkind upping sticks in favor of the newly founded island of Krakoa, Xavier’s School for Gifted Mutants has been left vacant along with a superpower school-based comic. For that, you’ll have to look somewhere, stranger?

Taking a few pages from Chuck’s book, Stephen Strange has established an Academy to teach the next generation of magical users as the mystical world starts to heal itself and become even more powerful and dangerous. Although it’s named after the current Sorcerer Supreme it’s funny to see him oddly absent, more like a celebrity who has franchised his name with Zelma Staton (from Jason Aaron’s run) guiding the kids in their mystical studies. In only a handful of issues Young introduces and builds up a large group of brand new characters from Frost Giants to Asgardians and despite the size of the cast has given them all equal development. While setting up what appears to be the big bad for the series going forward in the creepy swamp-like Hallow this issue centers around a more lighthearted and magical powered romp through various locales of the Marvel Universe as the motley crew of students is drafted into an intense game of tag whilst Doyle, the sulky son of Dormammu, hangs back to help with a disturbance in the school’s library.

Huberto Ramos’ art style complements Young’s frenetic pace of storytelling, hitting a middle ground between Skottie’s style and the more grounded work Chris Bachalo has brought to the main Strange title in recent years. It’s equal parts frenetic when focused on the kids’ antics and deeply creepy when creatures like the Hallow show up.

Final Verdict: Young has kept Strange Academy light and fun, creating a title full of heart and energy that quickly draws you into its world and its young cast of characters even though it’s a whole issue of them playing tag.

Originally posted on

Micro Review: Skulldigger and Skeleton #5


May? The conclusion to this series is seven months away? As comic readers, we’ve all come up against big gaps between issues, but it’s that the penultimate issue of Spiral Cities vigilante and his kid sidekick so perfectly sets up such a perfect, edge-of-your-seat cliffhanger that makes six months sound so unbearable!

Lemire’s comic work always comes with the best “elevator pitches” to entice readers and Skulldigger is no exception to this. What if, Lemire muses, a character like Dick Grayson reeling from his parents’ violent and sudden death sees not the dark knight step out of the shadows to save him, but Frank Castle’s Punisher. It’s an exciting and intriguing premise and the series has riffed heavily on the ultra-violent “anti-hero” archetype and how we view them, touching along the way the line between them and the more obvious heroes while exploring the relationships between characters like Batman and his young wards. Where do you draw the line between heroism and the weaponization of a child’s rage and simple black and white view of justice? Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy mixes up the archetypes of characters we all know so very well and shines a spotlight on one of comics’ most established yet bizarre tropes, child sidekick. Despite the well-tread subject matter Lemire still has a new and fresh take on the matter and in five issues has delved deep into the life of street-level vigilantes.

Issue five takes a well-deserved breather from the violence and vengeance of the series so far as Detective Reyes escapes Spiral City with Skeleton Boy in tow, unsure of how to save him or what that even means anymore. Unsure of how to get through to the angry sidekick she recounts her own past and how it has been marred by the cycle of violence that Skulldigger perpetuates, giving us both a deeper insight into Reyes and re-establishing the comics core themes and ideas. Nothing is this plain and simple though and even during a brief dip in his anger when Skeleton Boy admits that despite his thirst for payback and pain, his time with the morally lacking hero has been deeply scarring, recounting being unable to shake the level of violence he has witnessed. It’s clear that neither she nor Skulldigger’s interventions in the young boy’s life are going to give him what he needs.

Tonci Zonjic is the latest artist making his mark upon the rapidly expanding Black Hammer universe and has captured both the look of modern vigilante titles with its striking touches of Dark Knight Returns to the quaint and more subdued atmosphere of fifties crime comics in flashbacks that he gives a lot more clean-cut and almost naive feel all the while maintaining his own style and never falling into lazy homage. This issue employs a much more restrained layout and palette, with duller dust red tones as Reyes and Skeleton Boy hit the deserts outside of the city. Issues five standout art moment is Skulldigger gleaming mace crashing into Reyes windshield that brings the realization that no matter who gets to her first, Skulldigger or Grimjack, the outcome is likely to be just as bloody.

Final Verdict: Lemire continues the trend established from the start of Black Hammer and shows that he has a firm grasp on the deeper lives and motivations of the characters.

Originally posted on Multiversity Comics