atom's Comic Book Blogs

  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!

July 2024




Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the blog packed absolutely FULL of comic reviews that nobody ever asked for.  No need to thank me. . .it's just what I do!
My work schedule is still pretty chaotic (but I still have a job at least, so I'll keep complaints to a minimum), so I'm TRYING to suppress my long-winded nature a bit in order to keep the Longbox Junk shorter and coming on a somewhat regular basis.
To help with this, I'm stepping outside of the usual Longbox Junk zone and shining the spotlight on some single issues instead of full runs or complete mini-series.  For now, that spotlight will shine on the #1 issues I've recently been pulling from my Local Comic Shop's back issue bins as I do my part to try and help them out by spending the same amount every week on back issues (not the bargain bin) that I normally would on new comics. . .and may I take this opportunity to humbly suggest anyone reading this to do the same, if possible?  
First issues. Are they a good introduction to the characters?  Do they make me want to keep reading more?  These are the main questions I ask myself when I read a first issue.  Let's take a look at a couple and find out the answer!


DC (1994)

SCRIPT: Andrew Helfer
PENCILS: Mike Avon Oeming
COVER: Mike Avon Oeming
That's a lot of blood right there on the cover, considering this comic still sports the CCA seal up in the corner.  Tiptoeing beyond THAT, I like this cover a lot!  It's a little cluttered, but the bright primary colors on Dredd and the title really pop in a big way against the background of carnage. I also like the downward perspective, like it's from the view of a security camera.  Probably not work safe for the "Wall O' Covers", but very nicely-done.
In the grim, crime-ridden future of America, the Federal Government has authorized the militarization of the police force into heavily-armed "Street Judges", who act as on the spot judges, and possibly executioners, of criminals as they patrol the blocks of gigantic "Mega-Cities".
We begin our story as one of Mega-City One's harshest Judges, Dredd, takes down an unauthorized flight smuggling contraband "Cybernarc" cartridges in his usual explosive and very publicly-violent style.  Unfortunately, later investigation reveals that all the Cybernarc has disappeared from the wreckage of the craft.  Dredd is called into headquarters to explain himself.
Dredd believes in upholding the law, no matter the cost in either lives or property.  His superiors disagree and come to the decision that Judge Dredd is a public relations nightmare and needs to be re-assigned.  His first new job. . .street training for a trio of new recruits fresh from the Academy and getting them ready for patrol.
Chafing at being forced to babysit, Dredd takes the opportunity to "train" his new recruits by dragging them along as he begins an unauthorized investigation into exactly what happened to the missing drugs that got him into trouble with his superiors.
Dredd (his terrified recruits in tow) quickly follows a trail of clues straight to a conspiracy involving corrupt Judges working for a gangster known as "Mickey The Stump".  He wastes no time in tracking down The Stump's headquarters and shooting his way through the guards, but as he pursues the fleeing gangster, Dredd falls into an ambush and finds himself surrounded, facing dozens of heavily-armed thugs alone.
For Judge Dredd this is just an average Tuesday. . .
To be continued. . .
I have a somewhat sketchy knowledge of Judge Dredd based on the two movies, a few issues of 2000 A.D. and some Dredd mini-series (mostly the set of Batman/Judge Dredd crossovers) in my collection. I wasn't aware that DC had the rights to the character for a while.  A bit of research gave me very little information on this series beyond that it has nothing to do with the continuity of 2000 A.D. or the movies, and that DC's time with Judge Dredd was pretty short. 
This series only lasted 18 issues and a sister series called "Legends of The Law", which was a "Legends of The Dark Knight" sort of anthology starring Judge Dredd by multiple creative teams, also only lasted 13 issues.  Neither series seems to have been popular enough to have been collected, and barely any mention of either can be found beyond raw publication data on various collecting and sales sites.  
I believe this might be the only review of this issue that has been (or probably ever will be) written, so there's that.
I really enjoyed this first issue.  It has a tight story that reads like a T.V. cop show on the printed page.  It introduces Judge Dredd and his harsh world very nicely for new readers without a lot of exposition, it sets up future stories, and ends on a cliffhanger that makes me want to read the next issue. . .so it hits the marks I expect a first issue to hit.
I think DC might have been in a strange situation here.  By ditching the long and involved A.D. 2000 continuity and starting fresh, they did a great job in reaching out to new readers. . .but at the same time, I have the feeling that established fans turned their noses up at the fresh start and didn't support this series enough to last beyond 18 issues.  Personally, I liked their decision. . .but if you are a die-hard Judge Dredd fan, this might seem a little "Basic".  
Like I mentioned above, the story has a snappy, cinematic pace and style that feels like you're reading a T.V. show on the page.  For some, the "cop show" story might feel a bit TOO familiar and procedural, but for me it's one of the best parts of the comic and I could easily see this being adapted as a television series.
The art also lends itself well to the cinematic style of the story, with varying "camera" angles and interesting "shots" as the characters move across the page.  The sequence below is a very nice example of what I'm trying to say.  It's not the greatest comic art I've ever seen, but it does a great job telling the story at hand.
Overall, what we have here is a first issue that does exactly what I expect a first issue to do. . .introduce characters in a new reader-friendly manner and tell a good enough story that I want to read more.   Established Judge Dredd fans might be put off by the complete disregard for all previous continuity, but if you just want to read a dark Sci-Fi "cop show" comic with a bit of humor splashed in, then this is a great place to start.


DC (2011)

SCRIPT: Michael Green & Mike Johnson
PENCILS: Mahmud Asrar
COVER: Mahmud Asrar
A very nicely-done character portrait!  I like the muted color scheme quite a bit on this one.  Supergirl's face looks just a little strange, but other than that there's nothing I don't like about this.  I don't normally like Supergirl (or generally any title in the DC Super-Family, for that matter), but this cover made me buy this comic, so job well done.  Let's check out what's inside!
Our tale begins as a mysterious piece of space debris lands in a desolate Russian field.  From it emerges a strangely-dressed young woman.  She is confused and doesn't remember how she came to be there or what has happened, or why she is dressed the way she is.  The last thing she remembers is coming home after visiting her friends.  We the reader are given clues through her thoughts that she is from another planet called Krypton and her name is Kara Zor-El.
As the confused girl tries to get her bearings, a group of men wearing power armor suits surround her and attack!  Their communication among themselves tells us that they intend to subdue and capture the mysterious stranger on the orders of the leader of the unnamed organization they work for.  They seem to have the upper hand at first, but then the sun rises and Kara realizes that she is no longer on Krypton as her body undergoes a change, giving her superhuman strength and the ability to project rays of heat from her eyes.
The tide of battle turns in Kara's favor as she uses her new powers to quickly decimate her attackers. . .but just as quickly as the fight began, it ends with a rush of wind as a flying man wearing the same colors and symbol as Kara does arrives and orders her in Kryptonian to stop fighting!
It's a Super-Cliffhanger!
To be continued. . .
What we have here is an extremely simple story that is mostly a fight between Supergirl and her mysterious attackers.  Beyond that, there is very little past a few clues to who she is and where she is from.  The simplicity of the story lends itself quite well to a first issue in that the reader shares a bit in the confusion of the main character as she tries to get her bearings.
One would think that such a bare-bones introduction isn't much of an introduction at all, but oddly enough in this case it works.  I liked the fact that we don't learn EVERYTHING about Kara Zor-El in her first issue. It's probably the thing I liked most about this issue.
 Like I said in my look at the cover, I'm generally not a fan of ANY character in DC's Super-Family.  I can enjoy individual issues and stories about Super-Man/Boy/Woman/Girl/Dog/Etc. . . but I've never followed any of them on a regular basis.  I like that this first issue seems to be reaching out to new readers such as myself in a big way by not making me deal with any past information or continuity beats beyond general assumed basic comic fan knowledge of who Superman is and the doomed planet of Krypton . .and if you don't know at LEAST those two things about comic books, you might want to stick to crossword puzzles as a hobby.  Just sayin'.   
Unlike some other New 52 "introductory" issues I've read recently that seem to be little more than extensions of (then) existing continuity with a few cosmetic changes, Supergirl #1 seems to embrace the idea of being a whole new start for readers that the entire New 52 was SUPPOSED to be.  I don't like Super-Comics much, but I liked THIS Super-Comic because it does exactly what a first issue needs to do. . .Introduce characters in a new reader-friendly way and tell a story that makes me want to read more.
With such a simple story, the art is necessarily going to have to carry a lot of weight.  Thankfully, Mahmud Asrar is well up to the task.  It's not the greatest comic art I've ever seen, but it's interesting, dynamic, and colorful without being cartoony.  It's hard for me to take a character like Supergirl seriously, but the art here definitely helps me decide that I wouldn't mind reading a few more issues to see what happens next.
Overall, despite my general dislike of DC's Super-Family of comic characters, I liked this issue quite a bit.  The story was extremely simple, but it gave me just enough meat on the bone to want to see what happens next and to learn a little more about Kara Zor-El.  
The art did a lot of the heavy lifting in an issue that's pretty much an extended fight scene with a few story bits thrown in for introductory flavor, but I like the art style and it did a lot to help me decide that I MIGHT decide to like a Super-Comic for once, and that maybe I'll pick up a few more issues next time I hit the LCS to see where the story goes.
I can't speak for the rest of the series, but I can heartily recommend THIS issue if you want a good example of a first issue doing it right.  If you are an established Supergirl fan, you might find this story extremely basic and not what you were wanting, but if you're a new reader like myself it's a great little piece of Longbox Junk.  Give it a try if you should spot it in the bargain bin.


All in all, not a bad couple of first issues!  Not bad at all.  Both of them hit the marks I expect a first issue to hit. . .introducing characters in a new reader-friendly way and telling a story that makes me want to read more.  Neither one of these comics are GREAT, but both are good.  I couldn't find much wrong with either one of them.
If you're looking for some dark sci-fi police action with a little humor thrown in, then Judge Dredd #1 is a good place to start.  Just be warned that if you are already a Judge Dredd fan from other sources, the DC version is going to seem extremely basic, and probably will be a little disappointing.
It's the same with Supergirl.  If you're already a Supergirl fan, the complete reboot aimed specifically at new readers might not make you happy.  But if you're looking for a comic that introduces a new character by making you learn about her through story instead of exposition, then Supergirl #1 is surprisingly good.
Up Next. . .
MORE First Issue Fun.  
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the place to find comic reviews you never asked for!

I've noticed something recently.  Chalk it up to the strange times we're living in right now, but it seems like EVERY comic review site has suddenly transformed into a Longbox Junk franchise.  There's reviews of back issues all over the place these days!  How can a humble Longbox Junker like myself stand out when EVERYBODY has gone off the shelf and into the bins for material?

And so I ponder the question as I browse the shiny new Longbox Junk franchises I normally read my current comic reviews at.   And as I ponder, I realize the answer is right up at the top of this very page!

Those other guys are doing reviews of Batman, Nightwing, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern Avengers, Thor, X-Force, Wolverine, Deadpool, Spider-Verse, and so on and so forth. That's cool.  Keepin' the lights on, at least.

BUT. . .

Who's doing reviews of New 52 Blackhawks?  Who's gonna review Marvel's New Universe Justice?  Who's digging deep enough to suffer through Acclaim's Gawd-Awful sequel to Waterworld. . .Children of Leviathan?  Does anyone even know there IS a Gawd-Awful comic sequel to Waterworld? Who's writing reviews that NOBODY ever asked for? WHO?

You know who.  And I'm taking this opportunity to thank you for reading.  I really do appreciate you fine folks who take a bit of your precious time to come here and (hopefully) enjoy what I do.  It means a lot to me.

ANYWAY. . .I'm not complaining about the other guys doing what they have to do.  Just something that I've been thinking about lately.  And seriously, thanks for reading!

Enough of that.

Due to my strange new work schedule (I don't even want to try and describe it), I have lots of time to READ comics, but finding time to write about them has become a bit challenging.  So I'm going to break away from what I normally do. . .mostly limited series. . .and focus on some single issues for a little while.  And so with that, we (FINALLY) come to the comics at hand. . .a pair of #1 issues I recently pulled from the back issue bins. One from Marvel, one from DC.  Let's do it!




MARVEL (2010)

Now, Not Tomorrow - Part 1: No Turning Back
SCRIPT: Sean McKeever
PENCILS: David Baldeon
COVER: David Lafuente
A very nice fold out team action shot!  Great colors, great composition, a nice sense of movement.  I like this cover a lot. It's a real eye-catcher and pretty much the reason I picked up this issue in the first place, because I had no idea who any of these characters are.  Let's get inside!
We begin our tale with a prologue set in Columbia, where a young boy named Benito is kidnapped and forced to become a child soldier.  Later, we see that he is also forced to undergo strange experiments meant to raise his strength and make him resistant to damage.
Moving forward into the present day, we find Rikki Barnes (AKA Nomad) and her best friend, Anya Corazon (AKA Arana/Spider-Girl) stopping the robbery of a grocery store.  This leads to an extended rooftop conversation/ exposition dump about their background and current status. . .Nomad is from another dimension where she was the companion to that world's Captain America.  She's now trapped in this world trying to connect with THIS Cap.  Arana used to have super powers and was Spider-Girl, but now she's lost her powers but is still trying to be a super hero without them, and not doing very well at it.
We then change scene to the campus of a local college for another extended info dump, where we are introduced to Greg Willis (AKA Gravity), a young superhero who has some pretty hardcore ideas about what to do with supervillains. . .on the spot execution.  We are also introduced to his more liberal foil/friend, Angelica Jones (AKA Firestar), a young mutant that was once tricked into working for villains and is now trying to make up for her mistake.  She's a more experienced hero, having served alongside the X-Men and Avengers.
Now that introductions are over, an explosion rocks downtown New York, attracting the attention of all of the young heroes we've just met.  As they all rush toward the commotion, Firestar arrives first and discovers a team of young super-powered villains laying waste to downtown property and killing any civilians in their path. 
As the rest of the heroes arrive, a super-powered brawl in the streets of New York ensues where (through shouted exposition between punches and power blasts) we learn that the deadly troublemakers are: Aftershock (daughter of Electro), Ember (son of Pyro), Mortar (daughter of Grey Gargoyle), Singularity (son of Graviton), and Warhead (son of Radioactive Man). . .collectively known as "The Bastards of Evil", a team of unwanted children of various supervillains. 
During the fight, Spider-Girl is blasted away from the battle by Singularity's gravity powers and thrown into the Statue of Liberty, where she is rescued by a mysterious boy that changes into a hulking figure.  We learn that he is the kidnapped child soldier from the prologue. . .Benito Serrano (AKA Toro).
The battle slowly begins to turn in favor of the heroes. . .even though it goes mysteriously unnoticed by The Avengers, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Defenders, and probably a half-dozen other New York-based super-teams and heroes I can't think of off the top of my head. . .BUT I DIGRESS!  
Seeing their impending defeat, the villain Warhead makes his way to the Ground Zero Memorial at the site of the former World Trade Center, where he detonates himself with a gigantic nuclear explosion!
To be continued. . .
Maybe the Avengers will notice THAT.
Hmmm. . .not bad.  Not great. . .but not too bad.  What we have here is a #1 issue that pretty much does what a #1 issue should.  It introduces the heroes, the villains, and the conflict.  It doesn't try to reach beyond that, and as a new reader that's something I can appreciate because it's pretty clear to see from the amount of exposition presented that all of these characters have a pretty deep back story.
Marvel also reaches out to new readers who might want a little more information on these established characters with a biography page for each of them (including back issue info for more reading!) in the rear.  A VERY nice touch that kept me from having to hit Wikipedia.
It's not very often that you see that kind of interest in bringing in new readers, so definitely credit for Marvel where credit is due.  Too bad it was in service to a series that only lasted six issues.  Still, a surprisingly strong effort.
Beyond the very nice outreach to new readers, this issue is pretty basic in nature.  It's about half introduction and half superhero vs. supervillain battle.  The writing is fast-paced and the art is kinetic and brilliantly-colored, matching the youthful direction of this title quite well.  It's not the greatest writing or the best comic art I've ever seen, but both do a great job of getting this series off the ground and running.
Overall, I liked this comic.  Like I said above, it doesn't have the greatest writing or art I've ever seen, but it's fun and everything fits together nicely for a solid introduction.  Marvel's reach for new readers on this series deserves another round of applause as well.  
Unfortunately, I'm personally not a fan of superhero team books and even less so of teen superheroes.  But I'm not really the audience Marvel was trying for here.  My comic lovin' daughter gave this a read and LOVED it!  She liked the "Marvel-Style Teen Titans" vibe of it a lot.  My LCS has the other 5 issues in their bins and she plans on buying them next trip out.  
Given her enthusiastic reception and my admiration for Marvel's attention toward new readers on this one, I think I can safely say that if you're a fan of teen super-teams, you'll probably like this series if you're looking for something fun and a little under the radar.  Pick it up if you spot it in the back issue bins and give it a try. It's only 6 issues, so it should be pretty easy to collect.


DC (2011)

SCRIPT: Tony S. Daniel
PENCILS: Philip Tan
COVER: Philip Tan
Normally, I'm a bit of a sucker for covers with monochromatic backgrounds, but for some reason the plain white doesn't really do it for me on this one.  The portrait of Hawkman himself is very nicely done, though.  It has great colors and a nice sense of "in your face" forward movement.  I'm a little cool on the white background, but I'd still give this one a turn on my rotating "Wall O' Covers" in my office at work.
We begin by being introduced to a man named Carter Hall, driving alone through upstate New York and filled with dark thoughts of regret. He walks into the woods and tries to burn a strange costume, but the fire grows out of control and a gigantic flaming bird of prey looms over Carter as the flames consume him.
Off the Bermuda coast, an expedition led by a Professor Ziegler has pulled up a large piece of wreckage from the sea floor.  Upon inspection, the Professor believes it is part of an alien craft!  He orders the strange wreckage shipped to his laboratory.  Noting some markings on the wreckage he'd like translated, Ziegler tries to locate his resident Cryptologist (none other than Carter Hall) but is informed that nobody has seen him for weeks. . .
LATER. . .
We return to Carter Hall as he slowly wakes up on the floor of his apartment.  After being engulfed in flame, Hall wonders how he is alive, let alone back home hours away from where he was.  Before he can ponder the mystery for long, his friend Terrance arrives to inform Hall that Professor Ziegler has an assignment studying the mysterious alien wreckage waiting for him.  
Soon afterward, Hall and Terrance arrive at Professor Ziegler's laboratory.  The Professor informs him about finding the alien wreckage, as well as a new development.  Since bringing it to the laboratory for further study, the wreckage has revealed an exciting find. . .some sort of mummified alien body!  
As Ziegler's scientists proceed with tests on the alien mummy, a biological sample of fluid from the mummy comes alive and envelopes the terrified scientists in black goo.  As the scientist is quickly transformed into  a bizarre creature that breaks free from the containment cell and begins to wreak havoc, Carter Hall jumps into action!
As he tries to hold back the creature while Ziegler and the rest of the scientists make their escape, Hall quickly discovers that small pieces of the creature he is knocking off with an ax are growing into duplicates!  Outnumbered and seemingly defeated, Hall's skin begins to bubble and the Hawkman armor he thought he'd burned grows through his skin to protect him. Somehow the "Nth Metal" the armor is made of is now somehow inside him!
This strange new development seems to turn the battle's tide to favor Hall. . .now once again Hawkman!  That is until the controlling alien entity introduces itself as "Morphicius" and takes an interest in the properties of Hall's armor, bringing the duplicates back into itself and becoming a single huge enemy that quickly overwhelms Hawkman and begins absorbing his life force. . .transforming Morphicius into a bizarre Alien/Hawkman hybrid as Hawkman lies helpless!
To be continued. . .
This MIGHT be a bit of a problem. . .
Hmmmmm. . .okay then.  
Unlike the first Young Allies issue reviewed above, Savage Hawkman #1 doesn't make the slightest effort to reach out to new readers. . .which is not only unfortunate in that I'm not overly-familiar with Hawkman except through his B-List Justice League role, but also in light of the New 52 SUPPOSEDLY being a complete re-start and jumping on point for all of DC's comics at the time.  I'm not going to get too negative, but Savage Hawkman pretty much fails in being an introduction to this character's solo adventures for new readers.
So that's the bad.  Let's talk about what's good in this comic.
Beyond expecting readers to already be completely familiar with Hawkman, the story itself is pretty good.  It's more than a little derivative of Marvel's "Venom", or any other "The mysterious alien goo is takin' over!" storyline for that matter, but I can dig a little "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" in my funny books.  
It's not the greatest comic story I've ever read, but it is well-written and gets this series off to enough of a running start that I wouldn't mind picking up a few more issues to see where things go. . .There's 19 more regular issues plus a "zero" issue (which were the New 52's annuals for one year), so there's definitely more room for development going forward, despite the start being a bit shaky for new readers.
While the story is pretty good, the art is almost worth the price of admission by itself!  Philip Tan does a stellar job of selling this comic with a style that really shines during action scenes, giving static images a cinematic flair that almost seems to move on the page!  Combined with some fantastic colors that really make individual elements of the panels pop in a big way, the art is definitely the best part of Savage Hawkman.
Overall, what we have here is an introductory issue that's a bit disappointing in that it's not a great introduction to Hawkman for new readers.  Beyond that, it has a well-written (if a bit derivative) story backed up by some really great art.  
I was hooked JUST enough to want to see more, but I think this would appeal more to established fans of Hawkman, and that's who I would really recommend Savage Hawkman to.  For anyone else, I'd say give it a fair try if you spot it in the bargain bin, but definitely don't pay full price for it because you might not feel like you got your money's worth.


The two issues at hand are sort of a study in contrasts.  One is a brightly-colored team book aimed at younger comic fans and making an admirable effort at drawing in new readers.  The other is a dark and violent tale aimed at mature readers that doesn't even make a token effort to provide any background for the main character.
Both of these issues are good in their own way.  Young Allies was fun and did a great job introducing characters I didn't know.  Savage Hawkman is the sort of darker story I enjoy and it had some outstanding art.  
Both issues were also a little disappointing as well.   Young Allies was a little TOO light and youthful for a guy in his 50's and Savage Hawkman was a pretty lousy introductory issue.  But these small problems weren't nearly enough to keep me from enjoying both issues enough to want to read more.
Overall, I'd recommend both for a decent bargain bin read.  Young Allies will probably appeal more to fans of teen superhero teams, and Savage Hawkman will probably appeal more to established Hawkman fans, so keep that in mind, but neither one of these issues have enough problems that I'd say to pass them up entirely.   They're  both pretty good.  Give them a shot if you spot them in the bin.
Up Next. . .
More "First Issue Fun" as I spotlight a couple more #1 issues I've recently grabbed from the back issue boxes.
Be there or be square!

- read more

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