I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!
I have a lot of one-shots in my collection. They're probably my favorite kind of comic book. Not that I don't like following a character month to month, but there's definitely something to be said for having a complete story in one issue. No cliffhangers. No waiting. Just a single compact piece of comic book goodness. I decided to throw some one shots into the Longbox Junk mix for the next few entries before I go back to complete runs and mini-series. . .
HELLBOY: 2017 WINTER SPECIAL (Dark Horse)
First off. What an absolutely fantastic cover!
There are three short unconnected stories in this special, let's take a look at them individually. . .
THE GREAT BLIZZARD: This story doesn't feature Hellboy or any of the B.P.R.D. characters, but some characters I'm unfamiliar with who seem to be paranormal investigators in the 1800's (David Grey and Sarah Jewell). The art is very nicely done on this one, and the dialogue between the characters is snappy. The story itself is a little disappointing, but I wouldn't mind finding out more about these new characters.
GOD REST YE MERRY: A tale set at Christmas in the 1950's starring Hellboy and Professor Bruttenholm versus a possessed Santa Claus. It's played for laughs and the art isn't great. . .very cartoony. I got a chuckle out of Hellboy getting an ugly sweater for Christmas, though. Probably the worst of the three, but not terrible.
THE LAST WITCH OF FAIRFIELD: Now HERE'S some good Hellboy. The classic team of Hellboy, Abe Sapien, and Liz Sherman tracking down some lost children and coming in conflict with a witch. The ending is a chilling reminder that when it comes to the supernatural, sometimes when you win, you still lose. The best of the bunch with a great story and great art by the same artist who did that fantastic cover.
All in all, I really enjoyed this one shot. The middle story was pretty light, but that didn't drag the whole thing down.
RED SONJA: ONE MORE DAY (Dynamite)
I really liked the physical quality of this one shot. It's a heavy, thick book with a minimum of ads on good quality paper. Dynamite always knows how to put together a nice comic.
The story is a simple, straightforward tale of Sonja repaying an old friend (now a king) a favor by helping defeat a rampaging army led by a brutal general. She demonstrates that it isn't always the strongest army that wins the day by leading them into a deadly trap instead of meeting them on the battlefield. I liked the simplicity of the story and how it took Sonja from her usual lone wolf adventures and put her in the position of being the leader of an army.
With the simplicity of the story, the art is the star of the show. I really liked the Frazetta homage cover. The art inside was for the most part superb, but some panels seemed strangely unfinished, plus the artist could never seem to get a handle on what Sonja's face was supposed to look like. But those are just small complaints in what was otherwise a fantastic one shot.
PREDATOR: CAPTIVE (Dark Horse)
This one was REALLY good.
For starters, the photo-realistic painted cover is superb. The interior art is dark and heavily-inked. It reminds me a lot of a less angular Mike Mignola style. It perfectly fits the story and every panel is fantastic.
The story is one of the best Predator tales I've read. I could easily see this one as a movie. Basically it's about the only Predator that they managed to capture alive. . .but are they studying it, or is it studying them?
All in all, from front to back, I found this to be a fantastic one shot.
PUNISHER: FORCE OF NATURE (Marvel/MAX)
Don't let the cover fool you. The story inside is actually a tense, almost Hitchcock-like "Lifeboat" story about 3 friends turning on each other after the Punisher carefully maneuvers them into position.
I really liked this one shot. . .until the end. It shows Punisher as a devious manipulator and that no fish is too small for him. It did break down into some silliness at the end of things, but before that, it was a nice change of pace from the usual Punisher story.
The art throughout was generally pretty good, and reflected the tense psychological drama. Unfortunately, the artist doesn't do a very good job drawing Punisher himself. The last panel of the book is especially bad.
All in all, good taken with bad, this was a good read with an unusual story for Punisher.
X: ONE SHOT TO THE HEAD (Dark Horse/Comics Greatest World)
I had never heard of this character, not even sure where or when I picked up this one shot, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's actually pretty damn good (in a grim-n-gritty 90's way).
This comic doesn't do any favors as far as introductions go. I had to hit the internet for info on "X", who seems to be a Punisher/Batman combo. The story is nicely done, with X stalking and trapping a crooked politician.
The art is a bit schizo. . .the cover by Frank Miller is absolutely fantastic! Then the front 2/3 of the book is "Meh" art with lousy colors. Then the last 1/3 switches to a different art team and it's superbly done!
All in all, I enjoyed this book. The art was hit and miss, but generally good. It was a lousy introduction, but enough of one that I want to dig up more "X" comics. Bad taken with good, I give this one an average score.
And there you have it. One shots starring Hellboy, Red Sonja, Predator, Punisher, and X.
All in all, I'd have to say that the Predator one was my favorite of the batch. It was outstanding in every way and I'd highly suggest it. Lowest on the rung was probably X. I like the idea of a Punisher/Batman combo without all the goofy supervillains, but it really wasn't that great.
Up next. . .
More one shots! Sgt Rock, Wolverine, Star Wars, Wonder Woman, and Grimm Fairy Tales.
Be there or be square!
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