Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1

(Marvel Comics, 2015)

Writer – Brian Michael Mendis
Artist – Frank Cho
Colors – Jason Keith

Let me begin this review with an apology; I am sorry if I offend, annoy or otherwise displease anyone with my gushing admiration of this book and its stellar creative team. With that out of the way, let the love fest begin, this issue has it all, huge action, intelligent humor, razor sharp wit and some of the most eye popping pages ever created by artiste extraordinaire, Frank Cho. I know this is the pinnacle of fanboyism but, hey this is why I love comic books so much. Bendis and Cho really knock this one out of the park; they take all the elements that made this summer’s GotG movie so much fun with the addition of setting the story firmly in current continuity.

The issue opens with a clever page composition featuring Star Lord bursting with kinetic energy as he quite literally leaps across the page where the rest of his teammates are depicted rather dramatically in a column of equally sized panels; Gamora gazes icily into the distance, Drax peers stoically from the page, Captain Marvel appears poised, ready for anything, Venom hangs inverted his head enters from the top of the panel and finally Groot and Rocket share a panel playing up their vastly differing statures. The page acts as an introduction, though none is needed, and sets a break-neck pace that never slows until the final panel of the issue. Continue reading

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Review: Chaos! Holiday Special 2014

(Chaos! Comics, 2015)

Evil Ernie: X-Mas Special
Written by Steven Seeley
Art by Juanan Ramierez

 

The Chosen in: Slicing Sammy The Snowman
Written by Michael Moreci
Art by Rod Rodolfo

Let The Blood Flow
Written by Steve Seeley
Art by Carlos Reno
Colors by Rhovel Yumel
Letters by Marchall Dillon

The Chaos Holiday Special 2014 takes three classic Christmas stories/songs, and gives them a chaotic twist (pun intended). The first of the three stories is Evil “Ernie: X-Mas Special.” This story is modeled after the children’s story “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moor. And just like it’s inspiration,  “Evil Ernie: X-Mas Special” takes place the night before Christmas – and that is where the similarities end. Rather than following a family asleep, waiting for Santa Clause, this story takes place at the North Pole as Santa mentally prepares himself for his big day.  And since this is a Chaos story, the Santa we all know and love isn’t at all what we are used to. You see, Santa isn’t fat but built. Mrs. Clause isn’t old, but a sexy red head who can “…think of a few thing to help you [Santa] sleep.”  As the title informs, Evil Ernie shows up and the fight that follows isn’t what you would think of at all.  And the elves that come to help – well never-mind, I can’t give all the fun away. But take my word for it, its great!  Continue reading

Review: Krampus Vol. 1

(Image Comics, 2015)

Krampus! Volume 1
Written by Brian Joines
Illustrated by Dean Kotz
Colors by Ron Riley
Letters by Charles Pritchett

If you think about it. The idea of Santa Claus is pretty creepy.   An old guy who breaks into your house and leaves things for your kids without you knowing who he is or what his criminal background is.  As if that weren’t bad enough some disturbed parents in the Alpine regions of Europe decided that their children, while mostly good for the month of December, did not have enough to worry about the rest of the year.  No gift from Santa was not sufficient penalty to keep them in line.  So they invented the Krampus.

I had never heard of the Krampus until about three years ago when I saw Rare Imports, a Finish film released in 2010 about something sinister inside a lonely, snow-covered mountain.  If you do a Google search on the subject, you will see some truly horrifying pictures of traditional Krampus parades in far-off countries.  The Krampus, for those who don’t know, it the yin to Santa Claus’ yang, the black to his white, the creature that comes on Christmas eve to punish bad little girls and boys in various sadistic ways. This book takes a decidedly lighter position on the Krampus.  I give you Krampus! Vol. 1from Image Comics, a collection of the first five issues of the series. Continue reading

Review: Hulk vs. Thanos #1

(Marvel Comics, 2015)

Writer/Pencils- Jim Starlin
Inks- Andy Smith
Colors- Frank D’Armata

At this point even the casual comic book reader is familiar with the Infinity Gauntlet, at least by name; due mostly to its alluded to inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Certainly there is no other writer more closely connected to that story and perhaps even the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe than Jim Starlin. Starlin has dedicated more of his career to Thanos than any other character; beyond the various Infinity titles Starlin has penned several one shots, minis and even an original graphic novel featuring the exploits of the Mad Titan. So with that being the case I have to wonder why the big bad purple skinned villain occupies so few pages of this introductory issue allowing Pip the Troll to all but steal the show.

The idea of this story first came to light around the time Savage Hulk was launched. Marvel teased the concept of pitting these two Goliaths against one another with Starlin at the helm which would most likely mean the story would be set in the cosmic landscape of the Marvel U. Continue reading

Review: Justice League United #7

(DC Comics, 2015)

Written by: Jeff Lemire
Pencils: Neil Edwards
Inks: Jay Leisten with Keith Champagne
Colorist: Jeromy Cox

The Infinitus Saga continues as the Justice League United fight alongside the Legion of Super-Heroes against the shape-shifter Byth to decide the fate of the young alien Ultra who could grow up to destroy the 31st century. The JLU and Legion of Super-Heroes travelled to the Moon of Ryngor in the Polaris System where Byth captured and gained control over Ultra. The innocent alien was forced to open a rift in space, unleashing a fearsome army of Wraths. Now as Byth and his allies, Black Mass, and the newly resurrected Hawkman – who is also under Byth’s influence – escaped with Ultra, the JLU and the Legion must find a way to stop Byth from taking Ultra into the rift and save the universe as the Wrath’s advance into inhabited space.

Justice League United #7 sees this time-warping intergalactic team-up between the Justice League United and the Legion of Super-Heroes really hitting its stride, as writer Jeff Lemire pulls out all the stops for this third part of The Infinitus Saga. Now the initial differences and misunderstandings between the JLU and Legion of Super-Heroes has been resolved, the battle against Byth steps up a gear as their forces unite against the shape-shifter.
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Review: Harley Quinn – Holiday Special #1

(DC Comics, 2015)

Art by: John TimmsDarwyn Cooke
Cover by: Amanda Conner
Variant cover by: Amanda Conner
Written by: Jimmy PalmiottiAmanda Conner

It’s Christmas time! And, it’s time for all of the holiday themed TV shows, movies, and comic books. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have put together a wonderful issue of Harley Quinn as she explores the wonders of Christmas in three short stories. Remember the old Looney Tune cartoons that were broken into two or three eight minute episodes? This is the format that Harley’s Holiday Special is formatted. It is an absolutely, wonderful read and one that is filled with the right amount of jeer, cheer, and destruction.

Conner brings a very interesting twist to Harley Quinn that allows her to maintain her psychotic, pyrotechnic lifestyle, yet somehow come across as a comic book character that you almost want your child to read. The artwork by John Timms and Darwyn Cooke in this Holiday Special features both colorful and exciting. The toon-ish feel holds to the rest of the Harley Quinn New 52 stories that makes this issue a true joy to read.
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REVIEW: The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw #2

(Image Comics, 2014)

Writer – Kurt Busier
Artist – Benjamin Dewey
Color Art – Jordie Bellaire
Lettering and Design – John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft

Let’s get this out of the way first.  This is still the same book.  This is not a variant, this is not a spin-off, this is number 2 of Tooth and Claw, the next issue in the series that debuted last month.  The problem, so the press release stated, was that they messed up the trademark search.  So, easy fix, we’ve a new title.  The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw #2 dropped this week.

The citizens of a fallen city sit around a small fire and hope for the coming of a legendary hero. Their city has crashed due to their magical fidgeting.  Now they are camped in the ruins and fighting amongst themselves, arguing about who their savior will be.  And then the Bison Tribes arrive and begin the wholesale slaughter of the “intelligent” ones.   Continue reading

REVIEW: Dash: The Case of the Mysterious Zita Makara #1 and #2

(Northwest Press, 2014)

Writer – Dave Ebersole
Cover, Interior Art, Colors, Letters – Delia Gable
Color Flats by Josh Lester

There’s a stifling office, a lazily spinning ceiling fan, the camera angle is near said fan, its blades cutting through the shot.  A man sits at his desk, fedora tilted back on his head, a cigarette hanging from his bottom lip as he touches the buzzer on his desk, “Let her in…”

If you’ve read any detective fiction, seen a film in the last eighty years, this scene is familiar to the point of cliché. Everyone knows what “should” be in a detective story if it is to fit in the genre.  And, for the first ten pages of Dash: The Case of the Mysterious Zita Makara, you think it’s another detective story, one with all of the earmarks you’d expect from someone who obviously loves the genre.  There’s the setting.   Continue reading

Review: Critical Hit #3 & Pirouette #2

(Black Mask Studios, 2014)

Black Mask Roundup: Of Clowns and Hunters
Critical Hit #3
Written by Matt Miner
Pencils and Inks by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer
Colors by Doug Garbark

Pirouette #2
Created and Written by Mark L. Miller
Pencils and Inks by Carlos Granda
Colors by El Comic En Linea Foundation

I blame the holidays.  They sneak up on you and hit you where it hurts the most, in your “to read” pile.  And the comics don’t stop; they keep coming week after week.  So, with apologies to the creators of these two fine books, I’m combining reviews here, hoping that I can catch up and still spread the good word about great indie books.

It’s one of the things that make it hard not to read books when I see they have that Black Mask Studios logo attached.  This company has a commitment to great storytelling and some of the finest and most original art out there. These are just good comics. Continue reading

Review: Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1

(Marvel Comics, 2014)

Writers- Kieron Gillen & Marguerite Bennett
Artists- Phil Jimenez, Stephanie Hans, Tom Palmer & Romulo Fajardo

Angela made her Marvel debut back in issue 10 of the Age of Ultron event series, appearing more like a last minute addendum or ill-conceived afterthought than a heralded addition to one of the most celebrated cast of characters in modern history. Met with disdain by some fans and just plain disinterest by others, Marvel has done little to change many minds about this celestial wayfarer from the days of chromium covers and print runs more in line with creators’ egos than actual sales. The result of brilliant writer Neil Gaiman and upstart artist Todd McFarlane, Angela was originally part of the Spawn mythology first appearing in issue 9 of the original series then in her own three issue mini-series also written by Gaiman but, this time drawn by the vastly superior artist Greg Capullo. Continue reading

REVIEW: Escape from New York #1

(Boom! Studios, 2014)

Writer – Christopher Sebela
Artist – Diego Barreto
Colorist – Marissa Louise
Letterer – Ed Dukeshire

I’ve a love of post-apocalyptic fiction and prose that began long before I first read about zombie’s taking over the world.  That love was born and bred of films I loved growing up, films that took the bright and shiny future and filled it with the most loathsome buggers around, and then made those guys the heroes.  Mad MaxThe Running Man (yes, that one too), and especially Escape From New York captured the imaginations of a generation of kids who grew up with Ronald Reagan and George Bush, and thought that whatever was coming was most assuredly not going to be better.  There were sequels to some of those films, some good, some…not so good, but now, under the leadership of Boom! Studios, we’re getting another sequel, this time to a classic.

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Review: The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1

(DC Comics, 2014)

Grant Morrison- Writer
Frank Quitely- Artist

The Lemniscate, The Cassini Oval, The Devil’s Curve, The Mobius Strip, these are all names for the twisted cylinder used to represent the concept of infinity, it is also a recurring theme in what is hands down the most brilliant single issue of 2014. However, to refer to Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Pax Americana as a single issue is somewhat misleading due to the fact that it reads much more like a graphic novel; thematically as well as for sheer quantity of content, this book contains not one single superfluous panel. Morrison and his longtime collaborator Quitely have crafted a work of storytelling brilliance as well as an exploration of mathematical theorem as applied to a literary endeavor.

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Bag & Bored Interview Exclusives

This past month, the Bag & Bored staff had the wonderful opportunity at the Wizard World Comic-Con in Richmond to chat with a couple of premiere individuals in the world of comics and entertainment. The beauty of the press is the chance to by-pass the lines of people to get up close and personal with these great individuals. We had the chance to speak with Neal Adams, Ming Chen and Mike Zapcic from AMC’s The Comic Book Men, and Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Walking Dead). Check out these exclusive interviews below! Continue reading

REVIEW: ‘All-New Doop’ #1

(Marvel Comics, 2014)

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by David Lafuente
Color Art by Laura Allred
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Cover Art by Michael & Laura Allred
Variant Cover Art by Adi Granov

Throughout the midst of the entire Marvel Universe, there are some very peculiar characters that only surface every so often. One of those is none other than Doop. He is nothing more than a fun, little green floating orb that struggles with communicating and is best friends with Wolverine. The world should love Doop, but he is often misunderstood and unappreciated. Continue reading

REVIEW: ‘Flash Gordon’ #1

(Dynamite Comics, 2014)

Written by Jeff Parker
Illustrated by Evan Shaner
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by Simon Bowland

The retcon company, Dynamite, is at it again with the release of Flash Gordon #1 this week.  Written by Jeff Parker and drawn by Evan Shaner, Flash delivers a modernized version of the comic that our parents and grandparents grew up reading in the funny pages, the one the spawned a film my generation loved to hate. Continue reading

REVIEW: ‘Real Heroes’ #1

(Image Comics, 2014)

Created, Written, & Drawn by Bryan Hitch
Inked by Paul Neary
Colored by Laura Martin
Lettered by Chris Eliopoulos
Production by Drew Gill

Well, reader, what can I say about Real Heroes… How about you will never see it coming? Now I’m sure you’re saying, “See what coming?” How about everything? Real Heroes #1 is filled with so many twists and turns at times it was hard to keep up. Ultimately though, it has a great cliff hanger ending that makes you wish Issue #2 was out already. I don’t want to give away too much of the story line, or you will miss out on all the fun of being caught off guard. But I definitely want to talk about the importance of what this comic entails – and that would be none other than the title of this comic.

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REVIEW: ‘The Field’ #1

(Image Comics, 2014)

Illustrated by Simon Roy
Written and Lettered by Ed Brisson
Colored by Simon Gough

The standard for listing creator credits in a comic book is writer, artist, then coloring and lettering if needed, along with the editors and any other illustration or creative help.  When I opened The Field, the first thing I was struck by was that the artist was listed first.  I’m not sure if, pre-reviewing, I would have noticed this, but now it struck out at me from the page.  Why?

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