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Longbox Junk The Lone Ranger (Vol 3) Part 2: Issues 13 25

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I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for! http://longboxjunk.blogspot.com/
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After a pretty strong start, can this unwanted and almost forgotten series stay on the rails heading into the back half?  Let's find out!

AZRAEL (VOL. 2) Part 2 (DC)

ISSUE 10

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After an unimpressive introduction in the "Death's Dark Knight" mini, I pondered the question of just how good an ongoing series starring the uninteresting character of Michael Lane could be.  

It ran for 18 issues, so there was SOME push behind it, but from what I can see on the internet (O Internet! Fountain of Comic Knowledge!) nobody really cared.  And that lack of care is reflected in the REBIRTH Bat-books where Azrael has been re-introduced, but as a strange version of Jean Paul Valley wearing a Suit of Sorrows with some sort of ancient A.I. computer built into it.  Rebirth Azrael is a steaming pile of WTF, but Michael Lane seems to have been completely forgotten by. . .well. . .everyone.

So here's a look at the ongoing series starring the Azrael nobody asked for, nobody cared about, and nobody remembers today.  I kind of feel sorry for it, because to tell the truth. . .it ain't bad.

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Let me tell you something.  It ain't easy being a defender of Azrael.

That said. . .I'm a pretty big Azrael fan, and guess what? I thought he was a decent Batman too.

Yeah, I know.  DC has pretty much admitted that they specifically created Azrael in a sort of "You want this? You got this." response to constant reader demands to make Batman more grim, gritty, and generally 90's - tastic.   But I liked Azrael, and I liked Azrael as Batman, and I liked Azrael AFTER comic fans were like "Whoa, now! Give us back the old Batman, please."

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First, let me say that I'm a big fan of the Aliens and Predator universe that Dark Horse established outside of the movie continuity in the 1990's. 

BUT. . .

The stories varied wildly in quality.  Some of them were brilliant, and are some of my favorite comics, period.  Others were steaming piles of crap.  The inconsistency of Dark Horse's Alien universe was its weak point. . .and I'm assuming the reason why it eventually faded away for quite a while (They've recently rebooted their Alien/Predator books and the quality is a lot more consistent).

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Captain America is one of my favorite (super hero) characters of all time.

BUT. . .

I'm gonna say something here that MIGHT just be a little bit disagreeable to a lot of comic book readers out there.  I REALLY like Sam Wilson as Captain America, and I hope he STAYS Captain America.

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I've gotten some messages asking me why the entries in this blog are becoming more infrequent.

My apologies, and a bit of explanation. . .

I'm a night manager at a hotel and I do these during my down time at work.  As the summer season goes into full swing, I have less of that down time.  When school gets back in, you'll see them going back up in frequency again.

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I said in the review for the first part of Star Trek: The Modala Imperative that I probably love Star Wars more than I ever loved my first wife. . .and I meant every word of it.  I'm gonna make myself sound old here, but kids today don't understand what a game-changer Star Wars was back in the 70's.  It was like a pop culture atomic bomb.  Fallout from Star Wars impacted EVERYTHING. . .including me.  The original 6 issue mini-series of Star Wars comics were the first comics I bought and they are the reason I love comics today.

So, my enduring geek love of Star Wars now well-established, let's take a look at what Dark Horse was doing with Star Wars during the period of time when nobody thought there would be any more movies and things were just sort of. . .strange.

STAR WARS: DARK EMPIRE II (Dark Horse)

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Although this seems to have been advertised as a crossover mini between the original Star Trek crew and The Next Generation celebrating Star Trek's 25th anniversary, it's really more like two sort of connected 4 issue mini's.  They share a setting (the planet Modala) and 3 characters (Spock, McCoy, and Troyka) and the Next Generation half answers a question left hanging in the first half (where did the government get the advanced weapons it used to oppress the population).

So the first half was pretty good, with great writing and. . .not so great art.  

How does the second half of the story fare?  Read on!

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As a card-carrying nerd, one is expected to take part in the eternal debate:  Star Wars or Star Trek?

Here's where I stand on it:

I DO love Star Wars.  I probably love Star Wars more than I ever loved my first wife.  But as much as I love Star Wars, I ALWAYS come back to Star Trek.  There's just so much MORE Star Trek out there to enjoy.  Star Trek has everything you could ever want. . .action, adventure, comedy, drama, high art and pure friggin' cheese.  

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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.

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