A Quick Look At: DUNCE

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For those wondering what DUNCE is, it is a comic strip by Jens K. Styve that started out as a daily web strip named after its creator.  It is, like many comic strips just about the beautiful awkwardness, comings and goings and the grind of everyday life.  The daily strip which is currently run in a Norwegian newspaper showcases the adventures of the titular character as well as his son and a young neighbor girl whom he has befriended.   Like many strips the art and execution is fairly simple, but this is by no means a bad thing, the characters come off as very relatable and anyone who has ever been a kid or a parent will most likely see a bit of themselves in them.  And of course no comic strip would be complete without satire of current events and daily life in the 21st century which are also present in Jenk’s work.

 

Earlier this year Styve started a kick-starter to have Dunce collected in book form and was thankfully successful in the endeavor and the first book along with his other works can now be purchased at his online store.

 

 

If you are interested in learning more about Jens K. Styve you can visit his site at http://www.jensk.net and DUNCE as well as other books can be bought at http://www.jensk.no

Adam Strange/Future Quest Special #1 Review

Warning: This post contains spoilers!

Disclaimer: this review is solely my opinion.  Adam Strange, Johnny Quest and related characters are property of DC Comics, Hanna-Barbera & Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Publisher: DC ComicsAdam-Strange-Future-Quest-Annual-1-600x922

Written By: Mark Anderyko, Jeff Parker, Dan Didio

Art By: Steve Lieber, Veronica Gandini, Phil Winslade, Chris Chuckry

Letters By: ALW Studios, Dave Lanphear, Nick J. Nap

 

 

 

 

 

The last week of five week months is often a dull one for comic shops, but thankfully March 2017 decided to be different and give us some great annuals and crossover specials from DC comics.  Today we take a look at the first of the four specials released Wednesday Adam Strange/Future Quest.  So without further adieu let the adventure begin!

Something important to note is that from a continuity perspective the story in this book takes place after the Death of Hawkman mini-series and issue #12 of Future Quest.  Neither are necessary reads to understand or enjoy the story, but the prior knowledge the two bring regarding the cast of characters in the book can lend to an extra layer of enjoyment for the reader.

The story starts with Adam Strange traveling through time and space uncontrollably via the Zeta beam after being stranded there at the end of the Death of Hawkman mini-series.  He escapes the Zeta beam via the vortex  and is found unconscious in the Lost valley by Johhny’s friend Todd who contacts Johnny and Hadji about the new development.  The Quest team are not the only ones made away of Adam’s arrival however as some agents of F.E.A.R. that have been stranded in the valley spot the newcomer as well.  The rest of the issue basically consists of Adam Strange and the Quest team trying to fight off some mind-controlled dinosaurs and fend off the agents of F.E.A.R. while trying to help Adam regain his lost memories and return home.   When Birdman appears and his resemblance to Hawkman helps Adam regain the rest of his memories the group goes on the offensive and they are able to send the evil agents off to be chased by the Herculoids and Adam is able to return home.

The second story in the book is a short back-up that previews the upcoming Top Cat ongoing that shows good ol TC stuck in Gotham city where he recounts his tragic tale to Batman and explains he and his friend Benny got transported there from his world and he is looking for his friend who got lost along the way.  The story is short, but solid set-up and gives us a good look at this version of Top Cat and co.

The stories as a whole are mostly entertaining romps, Jeff Parker gives us a solid script that builds on both of the series the special shoots out of and like with the main future quest series, both Adam Strange and the Quest team get ample time on panel to help showcase both are equal players in the story.  And while many of the cast of the main Future Quest book may not be present for the story itself, they are at least mentioned in passing as are the cast of Strange’s latest adventure.  Though overall I will admit compared to the rest of the crossover specials this one does feel a bit bland.   As for the back-up strip, while it is short it manages to use its eight pages well and crams in enough content to help justifiably explain how Top Cat has become DC’s equivalent to Howard the Duck while properly setting up for the ongoing series coming out later this year.

The art on the book is also well done as Steve Lieber and Victoria Gandini help the special retain that silver-age meets modern vibe the main Future Quest book has been known for.  And having as style that fits in line with the Johhny Quest cartoons with a slight indie vibe thrown in.   Phil Winslade and Chris Chuckery do a solid job on the Top Cat back-up as well balancing the darker colors of Gotham city with the more vibrant colors of Top Cat while still giving the strip a somewhat more serious Noir feel even with the cartoon elements.

Overall Adam Strange/Future Quest Special #1 may not be the strongest of the four crossover book released this week, but it is still a well executed and enjoyable read for what it is.

Final Grade

Story: 7

Art 7:

Overall: 7

Scooby Apocalypse Vol.1 Review

Warning: This post contains spoilers!

Disclaimer: The contents of this post are solely my opinion.  Scooby-Doo and related characters are property of DC Comics, Hanna-Barbera Productions & Warner Bros. Entertainment.61JZUyRTfvL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_

 

Publisher: DC Comics

Written By: Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis

Art By: Howard Porter, Hi-Fi, Dale Eaglesam, Scott Hanna, Wellington Alves

Letters By: Nick Napolitano, Travis Lanham

 

 

 

 

 

Not to long ago we took a look at the Future Quest series from DC Comics Hanna-Barbera Beyond line.  Today we dip our toes into the Hanna-Barbera Universe once more with a look at the first volume of Scooby: Apocalypse.  So get out those Scooby Snacks and rets ro!

 

If I had to sum-up what Scooby Apocalypse is I would say it is what happens when you take Scooby-Doo and mix it with Ghost Busters and The Walking Dead, an odd recipe to be sure, but one that may be tastier then you would expect.  The story of the book starts out with Velma Dinkley overlooking Paris, France and talking about how humans are such foolish creatures using beautiful distractions to ignore their own impending doom and that she will do her best to save the world and man from itself as she releases a mysterious glowing green dust into the air.  Fast forward to one year later and we see Fred and Daphnie at a fair waiting for a mysterious informant to give her a scoop for her conspiracy theory and mystery show, meanwhile Scooby and Shaggy are walking around the fairgrounds looking for food.  Underneath the fair the secret lab in which Velma works is monitoring the world above.  Seeing that Shaggy has taken Scooby out of the lab without authorization they ask Velma what should be done and she says to allow them to have their fun as she casually meets to sneak off to meet up with Fred & Daphne.  Once she reaches the surface she is knocked out by Fred who mistakes her for a mole man and this causes Scooby’s cybernetic implants to receive a signal that Velma is in danger and he and Shaggy rush over to help her.  Once the misunderstanding is cleared up Velma takes the now all together gang to her safe room in the underground lab and explains that a group of scientists had spread nanites across the world in a hope of altering human DNA to make them less violent and more passive in hopes of attaining world peace, however the four scientists in charge became corrupt themselves and decided they wanted to control mankind instead and altered the plan, this caused Velma to act and try to alert the public through Daphnie.  While in the safe room however there is a glitch in the system and the nannie virus activates, but instead of turning people into pacifists it turns them into monsters.   This is where the Ghost Busters & Walking Dead survival elements kick in as the gang is attacked by all kinds of nefarious nanite creations from demons to vampires and more.  The volume ends with the reveal of this version of Scrappy Doo which, sadly like in the live action film seems to be a villain in this incarnation as well.

 

Overall the story of Scooby Apocalypse is an odd yet interesting read, constantly straddling the line between genuinely good and flat out ridiculous or pointlessly over the top.  In terms of art the quality varies from issue to issue but overall can feel a bit too late 90’s/very early 00’s at times which can both help and harm it depending.  It also doesn’t help the facial expressions just seem weird or off a lot of  the time.  But at the end of the day none of these things are so bad that it makes the book completely unenjoyable, though I do hope they are improved upon in the future.

 

In closing, Scooby Apocalypse is an interesting alternate take on the mythos of the characters, but will most likely appeal to Walking Dead, Horror and hard core Scooby-Doo fans over other types of comic book readers.

 

Final Score

Story: 7 out of 10

Art: 5 out of 10

Overall: 6 out of 10

Why You Should Be Reading: Valiant Entertainment Comics

 

Valiant-Comics-Logo

In the world of comics where the big two of DC & Marvel often overshadow the market with big-events, relaunches and initiatives it is important to realize there are plenty of other publishers in the pond as well.  So in this weeks installment of WYSBR we take a look at a smaller superhero publisher Valiant Entertainment and why instead of missing out you should be checking out their excellent work!  So without further ado, here are three reasons why you should be reading comics from Valiant Entertainment!

 

Valiant

  1. Easy to catch up on

Unlike DC and marvel which have decades worth of continuity built up the current Valiant universe only started in 2012 meaning it only has roughly five years of history to catch-up on over seventy five or more.  On top of that most of the books in the line are fairly self contained and the universe isn’t as plagued with as many constant crossover events as its competitors and even those they do have are not always necessary reading if you are only following one specific title meaning there are less interruptions in the natural flow of the books narratives.  Due to the young nature of the universe and Valiant collecting most of its series in deluxe edition omnibuses it is fairly easy to binge a series in order to catch-up.  This also arguably makes it a bit more new reader friendly then the competition can be at times.

 

 

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2 .X-O MANOWAR 

What is X-O MANOWAR you ask?  Well basically take Conan The Barbarian and fuse him with Green Lantern and Iron-Man and you basically have X-O MANOWAR.  This series mixes the best of classic action/adventure, scifi and superhero comics to make for a genuinely interesting and entertaining read.   The first volume which was written by Robert Venditti of Green Lantern fame lasted for 50 issues and is collected in four deluxe edition books with the fifth and final book most likely coming out sometime this holiday season.  The second volume of the ongoing series by Matt Kindt started this month and more or less picks up where the previous volume left off.  If you are a action or sci-fi fan this series is most definitely worth checking out.

 

 

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3. Diversity of character, tone & talent.

While books like X-O are fairly entertaining Valiant knows such titles might not appeal to everyone so they have a fair amount of titles with varying tones from the more serious to more silly and the more fantastical to the more down to earth.  They also have diversity in the representation of their characters with heroes like Faith, a heavy set woman with superpowers.  And if you are wanting a more comedic book Archer & Armstrong is there for you. A book for those who like X-Men but don’t care for Marvel’s current direction with the characters, just check out Generation Zero. Historical fiction, look no further then Britannia.   Valiant may not have as robust a library as DC and Marvel, but they do indeed have a variety of titles for all kinds of comic book readers.

It also helps that the studio has some amazing artistic talent on hand!  Talented individuals such as Deigo Bernard, Clay Mann, Rafa Sandoval, Cafu, Cary Nord, Lee Garbet, Trevor Hairsine, Manuel Garcia and many more have all lent their talents to the books.  The writers from Robert Vinditti, Jeff Leimire , Matt Kindt and Duane Swierczynski amoung others have all done solid jobs on the books as well.  So not only do you have amazing stories and characters, but you have genuinely talented individuals working on these books as well, which is always a plus.

 

 

And there you have it, three reasons why you should be reading comics from Valiant Entertainment, because sometimes quality of titles is just as, if not more important then quantity.

 

Thoughts On: Power Rangers (2017)

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS!

DISCLAIMER: This post is solely my opinion.  Power Rangers is property of Lionsgate & Saban Brands.

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The 21st century has finally progressed to the point where on top of 80’s nostalgia movie studios are slowly moving into the 90’s nostalgia as well and fans wait in both fear and anticipation as to what Hollywood might do with their favorites from their childhoods.  This past Friday the 2017 reboot of Power Rangers hit theatres nationwide for fans young and old to enjoy.   But does it make you shout “Go Go Power Rangers!” or is it as repulsive as Rita herself?

 

 

Lets get the few negatives out of the way first.  One problem this movie suffers from is that the first half does suffer from some Michael Bayesque toilet humor, and on top of that the films version of Goldar being a generic giant monster instead of the loyal alien warrior we all know and love is a bit disappointing.    But overall while these aspects are a bit aggravating they by no means ruin the film as a whole.

 

Truth be told the Power Rangers movie has a lot going for it.  Despite being more serious in tone then the original television series it still manages to have fun with itself and at its core still has the same Power Rangers feel to it.   It also helps that all of the actors give solid performances for the most part and manage to make the new versions of these characters stand out on there own and not just copy and paste imitations of the originals.  The most notable changes, and ones arguably for the better is that the subtle, even if unintentional racism of the old series is gone and there is an added level of diversity which helps the cast feel more natural and human.  In this incarnation Billy, the blue ranger is a young African American boy  who is extremely smart but also has his fair share of quarks due to being on the autism spectrum.  And honestly I cannot say how glad I am to finally have an autistic superhero in a mainstream film. In today’s world when we are constantly debating about proper representation in media the autistic community is one that often gets overlooked in favor of others.   The fact that autistic youths now have someone that tells them there quarks and disabilities won’t prevent them from doing great things is a much needed and inspiring one.   And as someone who is technically on the spectrum, even if just barely, I for one am glad that Saban & Lionsgate added this extra level of depth to the character.  On top of that we also see representation for LBGTQ youths with Trini, the yellow ranger who openly comes out to the group.   Like with Billy, Trini’s role in positive representation and showing that an individuals sexual orientation is irrelevant to the act of being a hero is an inspiring one.

 

But diversity points aside, how does the film actually hold up story wise?   Honestly it is pretty solid here as well.  I will admit there are moments the film stumbles in places as the dialogue tries to balance the more serious story with the overall ridiculousness of Power Power Rangers, and there are some things that if you think about just don’t make sense at all such as how can there be  Mammoth and Sabretooth Tiger zords when set animals didn’t exist when the original ranger ship crash-landed on Earth during the time of the dinosaurs and made the zords, but hey, if that didn’t ruin the original why let it ruin this.   Overall the general narrative is solid as it gives us well done introduction to these incarnations of Zordon, Alpha, Rita and the rangers.  There are also some genuinely heart-tugging and heart-warming moments between the characters as well as some genuinely funny moments from Alpha, the Rangers and even Rita.  Overall while a bit rough around the edges at times, the story succeeds in what it sets out to do and properly establishes the Power Rangers movie universe while being able to keep the audience entertained along the way.

 

The only real jarring flaw with the film is the CG effects are extremely hit and miss, sometimes things will look well detailed, other times they look more like a direct to video movie.  This back and forth can be aggravating ,especially when characters like Goldar, the putties and the rangers alternate from blending in well with their surroundings to looking much less defined.   Still though this doesn’t happen as often as I may be making it out to and while it may take away from the immersion at times it is by no means a deal breaker.  Though if possible I hope they do fix this on the Blu-Ray release.

 

Overall  for me Power Rangers is the little superhero movie that could.  A none DC/Marvel film that has managed to get fairly positive reviews from critics and fans for the most part and provides a worthwhile two hours of entertainment for viewers of all ages.  I hope the film is successful because I for one would be fine if Saban & Lionsgate are able to succeed in their plans for this franchise to be anywhere from six to eight installments long!

Steven Universe Ongoing #2 Review

Warning: This post contains spoilers

Disclaimer: Steven Universe and all characters are property of Rebecca Sugar, Cartoon Network & Boom Studios.

 

 

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Publisher: Boom Studios

Written By: Melanie Gillman

Art By:  Katy Farina, Missy Pena, Whitney Cogar

Lettering By: Mike Fiorentino

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beach City adventures continue as today we take a look at the second issue of Boom Studios all new Steven Universe Ongoing.   Is it as good as the first or does it suffer from Sophmore slump?  Let’s find out.

 

 

The second issue starts with Steven and Connie going to the movies, excited to see the film adaption of Connie’s favorite book series “The Unfamiliar Familiar”  sadly once they get there and find out the film is rated PG-13 and with Connie being under 13 and Steven looking much younger then his biological age of 14 they are not allowed to go see the film as the attendant says they can’t go without an adult’s permission. They try to remedy this by fusing into Stevonnie however this ploy ends in failure as well.  On the way back they run into Kiki or should I say Kiki runs into them, literally, and the two start hanging out, Kiki and Stevonnie become fast friends and after spending some time together shopping and trying on cloths Kiki asks Stevonnie to the school dance.  Later that night at the dance things start out well but quickly become awkward during the slow dance.  This causes Stevonnie to run to the restroom and unfused, Steven and Connie unsure what to do, wondering if they should come clean about who they really are.  After some discussion they reunite with Kiki and say that they really like spending time with her and would like to remain friends.  Kiki agrees to this and she and Stevonnie enjoy the rest of the dance together.

 

In terms of story like with the first issue the premise is a fairly simple one however it is executed in an extremely well done manner and like the show handles its subject matter fairly well, the quick friendship made between Kiki and Stevonnie is cute and like the first issue helps show how the book utilizes the more slice of life elements of the series to its full advantage.  Also the struggle between Stevonnie being uncertain if Kiki’s feelings towards them are romantic or not and Steven and Connie’s uncertainty about the situation and weather or not being Kiki’s friend in a different form would make them liars or not is also an interesting one as both of these situations are ones readers can relate to.  In essence the second issue is a simple story about new friendships mixed with tones about the questions of gender and self identity all wrapped into one easy to digest package.   I think my only nitpick would be that Beach City’s theatre must be super strict, I mean c’mon I’m pretty sure most of us got to go see PG-13 movies as kids even without the presence of adult supervision.  But that minor nitpick aside the book is a genuinely enjoyable read.

 

In terms of art Katy Farina continues to hit spot on by near perfectly imitating the television shows style from character designs to facial expressions and even characters physical queues and movements and Whitney Cogar continues to do an excellent job on coloring duty!

 

Overall the Steven Universe Ongoing continues to be an enjoyable all-ages series that stays true to its source material while coming up with new tales with Steven and the residents of beach city.

 

Final grade

Story: 8 out of 10

Art: 8 out of 10

Overall 8 out of 10.

X-O MANOWAR Vol 2 #1 Review

 Warning: This post contains spoilers.

Disclaimer: Everything in this post is solely my opinion.  X-O Manowar and all other characters are property of Valiant Entertainment.

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Publisher: Valiant Entertainment

Written by: Matt Kindt

Art by: Tomas Giorello, Diego Rodrigeuz

Letters by: Dave Sharpe

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2012 the current incarnation of Valiant comics relaunched its valiant superhero universe and one of the books that made up the cornerstone of set universe was Robert Venditti’s X-O MANOWAR.  The book was basically a mix of Conan The Barbarian, Iron Man & Green Lantern, the run lasted 50 issues and rand until 2016, now in March of 2017 the second volume of X-O MANOWAR written by Matt Kindt picks up where the last series left off.

 

The story of the book is fairly straightforward, Aric who has given up the Manowar armor now works as a farmer on an alien planet and lives his days with his lover Schon until he is recruited as cannon fodder by one of the planets army’s to help them win the war currently going on between different tribes.  Aric of course being a natural born warrior ends up defeating all of his enemies on the battle field and a surprised high command recognizes his prowess giving him a new mission and promising him he can go back to his farm if he survives.  Aric aggress and the issue ends with him donning the Manowar armor once more.

 

Overall there really is not much to be said in terms of writing for this issue, Matt Kindt’s script is decent and no one feels out of character but despite being a good set up for the book it feels a bit bland as far as first issues go.  The art by Giorello and Rodriguez however is truly beautiful and makes the book a banquet on the eyes, like the previous series it has a visual appeal that makes it feel like a book from the late silver or Bronze age while still having a modern feel to it.

 

In closing, while the book may have a solid if not average script its art is what truly makes it worth picking up.

 

Final Score

Story: 6 out of 10

Art: 8 out of 10

Overall: 7 out of 10