I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!
More one shots! I DO love these little bite-size pieces of the comic world. . .
HELLBOY: DOUBLE FEATURE OF EVIL (Dark Horse)
This one shot presents two stories. . .A haunted house that forces the occupants to bring it victims and a man who calls on the wrong God in an Egyptian museum. . .with a framing device of them being movies shown to an audience of the dead in an abandoned movie theater.
Both stories are brilliantly illustrated by one of the true masters of horror comics, Richard Corben, and the art is worth the price of admission (heh) alone.
Likewise, both of the stories are well written by Mike Mignola, but the first is more enjoyable. The second story only fills a few pages and feels very rushed, but it's not bad at all. . .just very short.
Overall, this is a fantastic collaboration between two comic legends and is quality work from cover to cover. Very well done.
MARVEL MANGAVERSE: PUNISHER (Marvel)
In this manga-style story, The Punisher (Sosumi Brown) is a teacher by day and "Tokyo's kinkiest superhero" by night as she seeks to destroy her nemesis. . .Skang Kee Ho.
Her teenage sister (Hashi Brown) discovers The Punisher's secret lair and takes up a cursed sword to rescue Sosumi after she's captured by the demon Oni Yew and Skang Kee Ho.
Okaay. . .
For sheer strangeness, this story fills the bill.
I can tell. . .especially with names like "Skang Kee Ho" and "Hashi Brown", and I should mention that THIS Punisher doesn't kill, but "Punishes" by tickle torture and ass-paddling. . .that this isn't meant to be taken seriously, and given that, it's a fun little one shot with occasionally clever writing and very nice manga-inspired art.
But just because it's not bad, that doesn't mean it's all good either. The story is ridiculous, there's no backstory for the main character to tell how or why she became The Punisher, and there are a few truly groan-worthy moments.
Overall, this one shot is basically a lot of "WTF?" in a small package.
RED SONJA: SONJA GOES EAST (Dynamite)
Red Sonja travels to the far eastern realm of Khitai where she allows herself to be captured by a ruthless warlord in order to rescue an enslaved princess, the daughter of a neighboring ruler.
Unfortunately, things aren't what they seem to be. . .the princess is no slave. . .and Sonja must fight her way to freedom.
I'll say this. . .Dynamite knows how to put together a very nice book. 40 pages, no ads, heavy gloss paper. This is a nice, thick comic for your money. You can just FEEL the heft and quality in your hand when you hold it.
The story is a simple one, but well written. The art is simply outstanding, Red Sonja portrayed in brilliantly-colored and highly-detailed manga/anime style is a VERY nice change from the usual sword and sorcery style.
Overall, this one-shot is pure quality comics from cover to cover.
STAR WARS: BOBA FETT - OVERKILL (Dark Horse)
A scheming, low-level Imperial officer on a backwater mining planet hires notorious mercenary Boba Fett to resolve a miner strike behind the back of his commanding officer, hoping to reap the benefits of promotion for his problem-solving skills.
Unfortunately, when Boba Fett solves a problem, it's usually not in a way that benefits anyone but himself, and his explosive "solution" attracts all the wrong kind of attention from Imperial higher ups.
Dark Horse didn't always do a great job with Star Wars, but this one shot highlighting Boba Fett is a nice example of when they pretty much hit the nail on the head.
The story is pretty simple, but interesting, and even has a few nice moments of humor. The art is cartoony and exaggerated, but fits the tone of the story very well. . .and the 3/4 page reveal of Boba Fett is outstanding.
Overall, this wasn't the greatest Star Wars tale ever told. . .but it's far from the worst. It's actually pretty good, and is a fine example of how everything in the Star Wars universe doesn't HAVE to be epic in scope and dramatic in nature.
TOMB OF DRACULA PRESENTS: THRONE OF BLOOD (Marvel)
In this origin story of Marvel Vampire Raizo Kodo, Raizo and his younger brother infiltrate a seemingly unbeatable warlord's camp to assassinate him. They succeed, but barely escape with their lives. During the battle, Raizo's brother is bitten. . .and the plague of vampirism sweeps through the Kodo clan, forcing Raizo to kill his entire family. But before it's all done with, he too is infected.
I had never heard of Raizo Kodo, not being much of an X-Men fan (where I guess he was an occasional recurring character), but as a stand-alone story about the origin of an ancient Japanese vampire, this was a pretty engaging story.
It was a little predictable, and the art (while generally pretty good) was dodgy in places, but overall this one shot checked all the boxes I wanted it to in a vampire story. It's not the best vampire story I've ever read, but it's not bad at all. The part I liked best about it was the unusual setting for a vampire tale. . .moving things away from the typical European locales to Japan.
THE X-FILES: AFTERFLIGHT (Topps)
Scully and Mulder investigate a case in Texas that involves UFO sightings going back to the 1800's. They quickly discover that there is more going on than they bargained for in a story involving the fading memories of an elderly professor, alien "greys", Men in Black, a scheming drifter, and the last flight of a steampunk airship. . .
There's a lot going on in this book. . .unfortunately, it seems like it is about 50% filler to pad the length out to make a 64 page "graphic novel" when the basic underlying story could have easily been a two issue story in the regular ongoing series (at the time).
That's not to say it's all bad. Once you strip away the two useless side plots that pad the book, you have a pretty good story about a man and his daughter struggling to understand what is real and what is the result of his accelerating dementia.
What I really liked about this story is that it touched on one of my personal favorite "X-Files", the mystery of UFO sightings long before the Wright Brother's first flight.
The art is a bit schizophrenic in that sometimes it is dark and moody, and sometimes it is cartoony. The artist never quite manages to capture the likeness of Scully or Mulder, and there are a few places where the art switches to an almost watercolor painted look. The art is all over the place.
Overall, I liked this book because of the unusual subject and nice touches of humor. What I didn't like was the pointless side plots to pad the length and the occasionally shaky art.
Overall, this handful of one shots were less of a mixed bag than the previous batch. I generally enjoyed them all, and even though there were a few rough spots here and there, I could easily suggest reading any of these.
I'm having a hard time decideing which one I liked best, but if I HAD to choose, I'd say Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil. Corben. Mignola. How can you NOT like it? If I had to pick the worst of the bunch, I'd say X-Files: Afterflight. A good underlying story unnecessarily padded for length and with somewhat shaky artwork. It's not BAD, just a bit disappointing.
Up next. . .
Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Longbox Junk. . .
DC's Star Trek/Star Trek The Next Generation: The Modala Imperative 8 issue crossover mini.
Be there or be square!
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