Comic Review: Golgatha

I picked this up because I saw a kickstarter that had a science fiction comic, and those are pretty rare. It looked very heavy on the SF, which I was excited about. So how did the story break down?

Golgatha is the story of colonists who get sent on a mission to colonize a new world on a sleeper ship. When they get there 80 years later, they find that there’s already a robust colony set up, and that technology was discovered that surpassed where they were at, making them redundant. The world promises to be different and disorienting, and conceptually, what a cool idea. Unfortunately the book breaks down from there.

There’s four parts here, four issues, and the first whole issue is spent on showing us a character who is really dark, did some dark things for the military, and basically is getting forced away from his home after his wife disowns him. That’s the main crux of it, not much sci-fi at all. This is very much too dark for my tastes, and the pacing and way it played out reminded me of those mid-90s comics that tried really hard to be edgy. I ended up liking the character well enough to continue.

Now on the kickstarter and on a full page here — we get introduced to this crew of this sleeper colony who has all these skills, do different things and…. then never appear in the issue. The colony ship crashes and so the promise set up by these introductions evaporates immediately. We’re reintroduced to the “you’ve been gone a long time…” new cast, and find out that the head of the world is the main character’s grandson.

Now the colony is huge, like a big city, and… we don’t get to see much of it. We’re told there’s a culture that’s very different, told there’s no place for soldiers anymore (later there are soldiers and battle drones). We never see anything, however.

A crisis gets explained to us in issue 2, where someone basically suicide bombed the city, and we don’t really get much clear explanation of that other than the colony leader’s ex wife disappeared years ago after finding some “anomaly.” Another interesting premise, cool concept, and comes back with some poor execution. We get a lot of talking, a romantic plot that doesn’t quite work out with the only other survivor of the colony ship (the others I guess died after that intro page) and a really slow build. These first two issues could have been used to set a way more epic stage for issues 3 and 4, or show us some of the culture of Golgatha, something.  The character set up was fine but I keep seeing “oh this is cool…” and then it misses the cool parts.

In issue 3, they set out to find the lost ex-wife of the colony leader, they find her after a little bit of cool action, and it gets kinda cool again. A small twist is set up and I’ll try not to spoil it. From this point on, the story flowed pretty nicely, albeit still with some pacing issues to the more interesting elements of the story.

The action was very light, the promise of “needing a soldier” — well they didn’t really need one. The main character could have had any background and really done fine with what was thrown in front of him. The scientist that also stated how smart she was several times, and also went in some weird Bhuddism stuff… also wasn’t really needed. She could have not existed in the story and it would have proceeded fine, and maybe given some more pages to try to flesh out some of the cool alien stuff, the cool world, and the cool missing doctor influenced by the anomaly stuff a bit more.

While I hit the pacing for several pages of talking that didn’t go anywhere, some odd religious references that didn’t quite feel natural, introducing some concepts (like the colony’s AI) that didn’t really get used for much, it did flow very well. I read this very fast and in one sitting, so the comic didn’t drag, despite its diversions.

The story was alright at the end, and though I really picked it apart. I didn’t hate it. I don’t regret reading, and it wasn’t boring for the most part. And most importantly — there were no politics in it! It just went on a lot of little tangents that didn’t come anywhere near to fruition, and hit a lot of backstory that really didn’t matter to the plot. The side vignettes in the kickstarter version are pretty interesting, enjoyed those, but the “science “content at the end was skippable.

Art wise… it looked like a high quality web comic, though not really the standard with which I was used to whenever I picked up a Top Cow book. It was fine, serviceable, but some of the colors blurred in the cooler moments — like when they were falling into the chasm, and it wasn’t as evocative of action in those points where I would have liked. It just came off a little flat, which didn’t help with the oddly paced storytelling.

I don’t love blasting things I read, and sometimes I just choose not to write reviews because of that, but, it’s on my mind, and unfortunately, I also have in my mind what I’d have done to fix it if I had written it. The issue does end with a cool action sequence and some changes that are interesting — and a really intriguing concept again for a promised volume 2. The concepts are cool all around, and they have a lot of them, I just think this needed a lot more tightening up at the end of the day.


X-O Manowar 2012 Run (Vol 1-13) Reflections

Mild spoilers for anyone who’s reading through this. Nothing big though.

I caught up on X-O Manowar, which was just relaunched a few months ago, written by Matt Kindt. The current iteration I found so beautiful that I wanted to go back and see the history of the character, which was rebooted with the rest of Valiant in 2012. The series had 50 issues plus several one shot side stories, and overall, was very intriguing.

It started with a character who’s pulled from Roman times, as an alien race called The Vine is seeding and harvesting worlds for slaves, of which Aric is brought to the vine world. Our hero starts a rebellion and discovers the Manowar armor, which is a holy relic of the vine. He fights his way out, and some of the vine start to hail him religiously as a chosen one, others see him as blasphemy. Epic battles ensue, and he comes back to Earth only to find that he’s now in modern times with his armor, that his people have no home.

After a lot that I’ll gloss over, Aric and his Visigoth people sset up shop in Nebraska and some good superhero/sci-fi tales get told from there. I enjoyed probably 2/3 of the series (which is pretty good for 50 issues).

Toward the end of the run, the last 25% of the books or so, the quality went back and forth. The art maintained its standards, which is nice, but the writing suffered from a couple of problems:

  1. “Save the world” syndrome – where each arc progressively saves the world from a more dangerous threat. This happens a lot in comic runs, and it takes a lot of the suspense out of later battles because he’s already fought the epic destruction machine that devours worlds, so seeing one again doesn’t ring in the same way on the second or third times. Maintaining discipline of not going to these kind of arcs is really hard, though it can be done, or having more personal developments in between help as well. Granted we did get a little of that with the wedding, but after that it went back to full tilt.
  2. Reliance on comic tropes. At points, X-O became Green Lantern. They even put in an XO corps kind of deal in a couple of different ways. There was a galactus villain. Once back on earth, it became Agents of SHIELD only not. What had a lot of unique premises got brought into the Marvel/DC way of doing things, which made the book lose a lot of its charm in the closing chapters.

Even with those, as I said, most of the arcs were completely satisfying. Vendetti did a great job with it, so much so that I checked out his Green Lantern run (which writing both might be why this storyline kinda blended at points).

The big thing that disappointed me, however, was that it didn’t answer any of my questions from the new run. The armor in the new run sorta has a way of speaking/calling to Aric, which the powers of it in this universe are pretty undeveloped. We see the whole paff thing when he fires his little bolts, an occasional laser sword which isn’t explained how he figured out how to do that, flying, some invulnerability, but because of the lack of definition and limits, it hurts some suspension as well in stories, but I’m still more concerned about how it really didn’t lead up to the relaunch.

That goes from the character standpoint too. We see a tired warrior in the new X-O. Aric is depressed, wants nothing to do with anything, but slaughters mercilessly. This wasn’t where he was left off at all in the prior run. The prior run didn’t prepare for that in the least. What happened to his wife, his people that caused this? I was hoping to get a few of those answers, and was braced for some really emotional moments at the end of this run that never came to fruition. The last 8 issues or so just were battle to battle to battle that didn’t have much in the way of emotional impact, some of the weakest in the series even though it resolved a lot of the vine conflict.

I’m complaining a lot, as comic book readers tend to do, but I have to iterate that this is one of the best superhero stories I’ve read in a long time by leaps and bounds, with the new issues even surpassing that so far. I hope we can see a little bit more character development as the new books have gone a bit fast, and there’s a lot of explaining to do which hasn’t been done yet in terms of what happened here.

We’ll have to see how it goes. Even though it was darn good, I was hoping for that little bit more that would have pushed this run to greatness.


Comic Review: X-O Manowar #3

Some spoilers ahead, though I left out a couple crucial details to ensure the story is still enjoyable to those who pick this up.

X-O Manowar #3 picks up right where #2 left off, with Aric preparing for an outright assault on the President of the other faction. It starts out with this pretty montage with guest art by David Mack, as it’s explained how cruel and awful these people are in the way they treat “inferior” species, both using them in slavery and tinkering with different species genetics to keep them down. It’s jarring and makes a reader care for this war that hadn’t been explained too much to this point.

Then Aric goes to track the president down and we get thrust into the intense action that’s defined the first couple of issues. After reading a lot more of Kindt’s work between Issue 1 and now, I see that Kindt made a purposeful choice to let the beautiful art of Tomas Giorello breathe, which I appreciate. The scenery is so detailed, so many different alien concepts, Giorello really did more for this arc than I’ve seen an artist do for the vast majority of comics I read. He worked extremely hard and it shows. Giorello’s art has some of the best pages in this issue of the run so far.

The side Aric is on then bombards the city before Aric and his team can get out, betraying them, the end result of the rivalry with the Captain from prior issues. This gets resolved in an extremely satisfying manner, which I’ll leave for readers to discover.

There’s a couple pages of Aric’s internal dilemmas, as he talks to the armor. The armor attempts to woo him further and what’s interesting is I expected wholly that Aric would don it by this point, and was surprised that he didn’t. Which I’m okay with, I’m very much enjoying Aric Warrior adventures as it is, but this is an intriguing plot thread I hope gets more pages dedicated to it in the next arc.

I’m just as excited as I was in issue 1. Each issue has been packed so far, hits story points, sets up the next. This first arc of three issues really nailed all the high points that make me want to read comics. 10/10

Comic Review: Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth Vol. 1

What’s interesting about the DC reboots is some of them don’t even try to “start over” but launch with the assumption that you know everyone and everything going on. For Green Lantern Corps and the Sinestro Corps and all that with the yellow/green war for who’s policing the galaxy – it pretty much assumes you’ve read a lot of Geoff Johns’ now classic work on the characters, and is probably slightly more rewarding when you do.

I picked this up mainly because I like Robert Venditti and wanted to support him. It’s the first Marvel/DC title I’ve read in a couple of years, having stopped after Marvel got so crazy and when the new-52 was having problems. And when I read this it validated my decision.

Don’t get me wrong, this is actually an excellent book by Marvel/DC standards. There’s tons of of action, a nice arc, its’ cleanly written, the characters are all in classic form. Robert Venditti did a great job, and the art is epic too – great work with the green lantern powers on that front producing stunning visuals, my only complaint is it suffers from “modern movie-ism” on the art front where a lot of the pages are so cluttered and dense that it’s distracting.

The problem is the old comic book characters and brands. There’s really nothing at stake so even these high powered cosmic action stories like this, mean nothing. Hal Jordan will always come back, even if he dies. Sinestro too. The corps were “dead/disappeared” for like 3 issues of this comic, but they just poofed back into existence. When there literally are no stakes for a character, it just makes things impossible to care about.

That’s not the creative team’s fault, but Marvel/DC’s. No matter what, it’s going to reset in a couple years. No matter what, there will be no real development. And it shows in the book, as it seems like the writer is almost ordered not to do anything that will have any lasting impact to the character.

Content wise: you get a lot of fights. It’s a very decompressed story that reads a full volume of 7 issues in like 20 minutes, you get some Sinestro vs. Jordan action as well as yellow corps vs. green corps. The most interesting thing is the bit with Sinestro’s daughter where she seems to care for Hal despite following the yellow corps Sinestro put together. The moments there with that character were about the only time I cared.

I compare this to Venditti’s XO Manowar, which I’ve been reading in trade and spurred me to pick this up. Same writer. Same action. The difference is in XO, the character can grow, suffer real loss, change. There’s tension there because of that. It wasn’t always like this with Marvel/DC. They actively tried to progress characters up through the 90s. Then they panicked with sales slumps (due to crowding the market and variant covers killing collecting) and pushed everything back to “classic”. I like seeing classic characters, but the thing that makes them classic is that they’re actual characters – and that requires development.

While this is a fine story, fine art, everything’s just fine about it. At the same time, it doesn’t offer me anything to care about. I’m going back to reading Valiant Comics now.

Comic Review: Eternal Warrior Awakening #1


After discovering the new X-O Manowar and going back through the Valiant universe titles… I’m very near the point where if it says “Valiant Comics” on it, I’m going to at least try out an issue. Eternal Warrior: Awakening also is written by Robert Venditti, who as I mentioned in a review of Armor Hunters, wrote some of the best comics I’ve read in recent years. Add Artist Renato Guedes, who did some great work on the Superman/Batman book awhile back and is no stranger to valiant work himself, and you have quite the creative team.

One issue in, I’m happy to say, Valiant has killed it again. And I mean that with the best puns possible with the Eternal Warrior’s premise — an immortal man who fights through the ages. This is a book set in ancient times, where the Eternal Warrior has lost his memory from an old wound, having nightmares, a wife, a new life as a farmer. A Geomancer shows and reminds him of his history, and sets off a hero’s call to action. Those who are familiar with the Warrior and Geomancers from past Valiant books are already salivating for more, but for new folk, this is a great origin #1 issue set-up. I haven’t read the prior Eternal Warrior books yet, but am familiar with the character from Archer & Armstrong.

What impressed me about the book is that it has a full story in it. We didn’t meet the villain, have the hero brush his teeth and head out like a lot of comics do in their first issue. We have the villain. We have the hero setting out. We have the action. We have the conclusion and then there’s a set up for a larger story afterward. I compare this to Kindt’s X-O Manowar run currently — and with the two, I believe that Valiant Comics have rediscovered the “tell a story in a single issue but leave them wanting more” formula that made old comics great, and not material to wait for trades.  I have to think it’s intentional on these writers’ parts, and I’m extremely happy to see it. Applause on that.

With comparing this to Valiant’s Manowar relaunch, I would say that if Manowar represents pulp sci-fi John Carter Warlord Of Mars in all its gloriousness, The Eternal Warrior: Awakening is Michael Moorcock Elric Saga in modern comic form. That’s about as high of praise I can give, and these books have both earned it in its own right. Eternal Warrior really is the pulp action-adventure fantasy that I’ve been craving out of comics for a long time.

The art’s great. Guedes does a wonderful job in expressions, figures, crowd scenes, having to draw camels (I like seeing cool animals in comics, +1!) fight scenes, all sorts of breadth here. The background gets a little lost at points which I’m guessing was a time consideration, and gets filled in with a little bit of aggressive coloring, but very minor complaint on that front for what is near perfect art to compliment near perfect storytelling.

I said last week that I think I’m in for whatever Matt Kindt writes from here on out… I think I’m there with Robert Venditti too. This is a great book and you should pick it up. Another epic win for Valiant Comics.  10/10

Comic Review: Discovering the Valiant: Amor Hunters Event

I recently read the Armor Hunters crossover event by Valiant, which spans 5 trade paperbacks with an event series itself, two tie-ins from prominent Valiant books in XO Manowar and Unity, and two offshoot spinoff miniseries. It was a daunting task, and curtailed my reading of catching up on the Valiant universe for a time while I obtained a couple of these to get the full story. Crossover events like this make me nervous, as I’ve been burned by Marvel far too many times with bad tie-ins and sub-series that really don’t add much, and storylines that are unfulfilling.

I’m happy to report that Armor Hunters is a crossover done right. The story was epic, every book added something, and I’m glad I bought and read all five trades in paying attention to this series. I’m going to review them individually as well below.

I’ll also note that I used the suggested reading order on Reddit which went like this:

Armor Hunters #1/4
Unity #8
X-O Manowar #26
Armor Hunters #2/4
Unity #9
Armor Hunters: Bloodshot #1/3
Armor Hunters: Harbinger #1/3
X-O Manowar #27
Armor Hunters #3/4
Unity #10
Armor Hunters: Bloodshot #2/3
Armor Hunters: Harbinger #2/3
X-O Manowar #28
Armor Hunters: Harbinger #3/3
Armor Hunters: Bloodshot #3/3
Unity #11
Armor Hunters #4/4
X-O Manowar #29
Armor Hunters: Aftermath #1

So I had a lot of flipping between books. This order worked really well and I suggest reading them in this order as well – though you could read XO 26-28 as a prequel series and get 29 in its place and it’d work just as well, perhaps better.

Onto the series.

Armor Hunters:

XO Manowar has been followed to earth by an alien army that will stop at nothing but to see the Armor destroyed. They attack earth, including an installation that has an alien that Alric captured that is slowly morphing into the armor. Alien starships. Giant robots. Battles with aliens. It’s all here. Great pulp action adventure at its finest, never a dull moment. I would say the Aftermath issue at the end is a bit slow, really a full issue of denouement, but it was separated out and labeled Aftermath so I knew what I was getting into there. As a big event, with Earth getting attacked big, lots of destruction and chaos, the heroes all playing their part to make sure Earth is safe again – I loved every second of it. This should be event comic writers required reading.

Art was excellent in it. Cool aliens. Cool designs. Lots of background detail so we didn’t feel like characters fighting against a white screen. Figures drawn great. Colors engaging. I was very happy all the way around. Aftermath again suffered compared to the main book but it was fine for what it was.

I’m pleased and would recommend people read at least the first couple trades of XO Manowar first to get a feel for the characters, or perhaps as much as I have in the Valiant Universe for a lot of depth, but this is a great jumping on point and great read. 10/10

Unity Volume 3

This was on the weaker side for the event, which is still a strong comic. Still, with the others to contend with, the unity storyline of the event came down to fighting alien dog things then Livewire doing some techie thing to stop some alien probes. Pretty simple and drawn out into 4 issues. Thus is somewhat the issue with events in a nutshell, as the tie ins can tend to suffer. But by suffer I still mean this was a really fun comic. It’s very quick to read and very light on dialogue. Certainly doesn’t work without the context of the Armor Hunters main event as a book by itself.

Art is fine. It’s got early 2000s forward standard style with medium to light detail on the background. The colors aren’t exciting but aren’t offputting either.

Decent fun, adds texture to Armor Hunters but not a lot of deapth. 7/10

Armor Hunters: Bloodshot

I haven’t loved Bloodshot a lot thus far. It’s been fine, but a little too dark for my tastes. This continues here, but actually this may be my favorite volume of Bloodshot I’ve read so far. I like seeing him work with Unity and the Colonel from XO Manowar to stop the aliens. I love the battle between ever-healing Bloodshot and ever-healing alien in XO Armor. The storyline is simple, but it progresses and adds nice depth to the overall Armor Hunters storyline.

The art is dated looking, 90s with a lot of grittiness, good for Bloodshot, but not my favorite. The colors are a bit washed out and make it have a dated 90s look even moreso.

Fun, pure gorey action and not much to complain about. 8/10

Armor Hunters: Harbinger

This is probably my least favorite installment here. I like seeing Faith but her comments are getting a little old at this point. I don’t really care much about the Generation Zero heroes even from the last event, Harbinger Wars, and there hasn’t been a ton of time for them to develop to where they mean much to me. There’s too many and with the frantic pace of the event, I lose track of who’s who to some extent. There’s blurbs to tell me, but that just means the characters aren’t standing out enough on their own for me to recognize. Makes it difficult. If there’s one book in the series to skip, I’d say this is it.

The art is fine. Everyone tends to have these perplexed stiff faces through a lot of the panels though. The colors save it as they’re pretty vibrant on this.

If you really like Generation Zero or Faith, maybe worth the pick up, but it’s an isolated spot that plays off one major point in Armor Hunters, not the most necessary of them. 6/10

XO Manowar vol 7.

This makes it all worthwhile. Now, you can’t go into this thinking you’re going to get much Aric or XO, but Robert Venditti has told one of the finest space opera tales I’ve ever seen in comics in issues 26-28 with an amazing origin story, great action and resolution. For characters I didn’t meet and didn’t care about before, for enemies of Aric, I really began to care about them and this made the Armor Hunters event way more interesting than it would have been otherwise. 29 deals with Malgam and the aftermath of it, but with the set up in 28 I care about Malgam a lot more than I used to as well. Fine comic storytelling.

The art can get a bit repetitive at points with just action shots even when in talky scenes. The colors are good in that they’re vibrant but they are lacking a little bit in detail which makes those backgrounds wash together a bit and makes the art look sparse. Not perfect, but the storytelling aspects of it are so it’s fine.

I loved this story so much. Even with the medium-like of the art, it surpassed my expectations so much I give it a thumbs up. 9/10

Marvel Comics: When You Screw Up So Bad, You Can’t Even Spin It

When I broke the story that Marvel Comics blackballed Trump supporters and Christian writers from their ranks, very few were paying attention to their steep decline. A FAKE NEWS comic website even took to mocking me about bringing it up. No one is laughing at the funny books now.

Within a couple of weeks story after story came out about Marvel’s disaster. We learned that they were having retailer summits trying to woo retailers back with promises to bring back classic characters and that they were getting rid of some of their social justice initiatives. It broke that Marvel hired a radical Muslim artist who layered anti-Jewish and anti-Christian messages into the backgrounds of his comics. Captain America turned out to be a literal nazi all along in their storylines. The trainwreck kept coming.

And then their big event Secret Empire #1 came out. It’s written by an extreme social justice warrior, Nick Spencer, who regularly posts his hatred of anyone conservative, and mocks the Bible regularly on his twitter account. The book just followed the same path as everything before it, despite all the promises that Marvel made. And so Marvel made a press release this last week after all of the negative reviews and backlash for their failed big event that was supposed to be their summer blockbuster seller.

we want to assure all of our fans that we hear your concerns about aligning Captain America with Hydra and we politely ask you to allow the story to unfold before coming to any conclusion.”

Don’t judge a book by its book. It’ll get better later. We promise!

They’re beyond even spinning that there’s a good story involved. Beyond even trying to hype for the next thing. It’s damage control and damage control alone. But even when they bring the Marvel universe back to its “classic form” meaning just the characters that people know and love, they’ll still have these same writers and artists layering the lockstep, groupthink 1984-style messages into their comics. The fans are smart now. We follow writers and not just characters anymore– because the base characters don’t necessarily mean anything. In order to create real content people love, real diversity, they need real different perspectives in their writers, and will need someone in touch with Americans and American culture to get there. When will they learn? I imagine it’ll take yet more declining sales.

As the Injustice Gamer says at the end of all of his book reviews: when you play with social justice, the world loses.  

I’m still waiting for that phone call from Axel Alonso asking me my thoughts on Spider-Man or Captain America or Fantastic Four. Maybe after For Steam And Country is an even bigger success than my last book, they’ll take notice.

Comic Review: Eleanor And the Egret #1

Being a big Chew fan, when I saw that John Layman had another comic out with a very silly concept, I went to check it out. With Sam Keith, I thought I could expect some quirky art and quirky story like I saw in Chew.

This issue sets up one of those “what’s going on” mysteries that a lot of modern, more hipster style comics do. It starts with a scene of this gal who I presume is Eleanor falling in a swamp. And then it cuts to a museum where she’s looking at art. It switches perspective to detectives when the art is missing, and then the detective interviews her asking after a bird feather that was left in the museum.

If it sounds perplexing and honestly a bit boring — it was. There wasn’t much of a hook. Nothing to really get me going “I love this character”, the high concept of having some Egret that helps her fly (which wasn’t done on screen, speculating) is silly I guess but again, since it wasn’t on screen I didn’t see it.

I mentioned this style before, and frankly, I hate it. It’s one of those “Oh, reader, are you as clever as I am and can you figure out the real twist of what’s going on?” And unfortunately every time this is implemented it comes across as being talked down to, which is especially irking in funnybook form.  With muted colors and Sam Keith’s–albeit nice looking–noir style art, it really sends that message more than it should. For such a ridiculous concept of some girl with her egret, it really needed some more vibrancy to the both the line art and the color schemes.

Very little happened in the issue, unlike Chew where you have FDA raids on illegal chicken restaurants and get a guy having to cannibalize to use his powers, stuff that makes you pay attention immediately — this had very little hook otehr than “well I hope the Egret does something cool in future issues.”

I really wanted to like this. I love Chew, and having met John Layman a few times I think he’s a great guy with a fun sense of humor, but unfortunately I’m going to have to pass on the rest of this series.

Comic Review: X-O Manowar #2

A few months ago, I swore off of individual comic book issues forever. On a whim last month, I picked up X-O Manowar #1, and like comic book superheroes who have their epic deaths – it didn’t last long. I was so impressed by the issue that I went out and bought the pre-order bundle through Issue #9.

Issue 2 continues where Issue 1 left off – Aric, the reluctant hero in the midst of a battle where he’s been conscripted to fight, but does not want to. He blames his former armor on engaging him in conflict, as if that set his destiny, but all the same the is of a 5th century warrior in thought, and so battle is all he knows. It’s such an interesting moody, brooding character that Kindt presents, feeling a lot like classic Tarzan or Conan, with a bit of a science fiction twist to it. Issue 2, like Issue 1 is an action packed battle where Aric is yet again proving himself by breaking into an enemy stronghold and causing havoc.

Kindt has continued with the introduction of who Aric is without the armor storyline, which is a good way to get us attached to the character and not the concept of the superpowers. It’s a writing humanizing trick of “superman loses his powers” that I’ve seen in comics before, but this is a very different take on that concept. Aric isn’t invulnerable physically, but he shows a shrewd ability for combat, to root out any schemes and to overcome obstacles with both his tactical ability and his own brute force.  Where Kindt differs from a lot of the powers-removed type storylines is it IS packed full of action all the same, and that’s why it works..

Aric succeeds a second time where it should be a doomsday mission – in a lot of ways the issue feels very similar to the first, though there is this looming sense of dread now as the captain of the army he’s fighting for is getting jealous, and actively trying ot get him killed as Aric gets accolades.

We do get introduced in this issue to some of Aric’s compartriots who I presume are going to end up as a bit of the supporting cast. We get a nice recap and name/description of the aliens we’re meeting after a couple of pages of action. I like that this comic starts with action, then rolls those credits and gets back into it rather than opening with a bunch of description. It feels much more cinematic that way.

With the preorder edition, we also get some commentary and some of the sketch art which is pretty cool. I found this fun and look forward to it in other comics.

The issue ends with a build to more battle to come.

I feel like at this point we could have taken a little step back and perhaps gotten a little more character meat, but I acknowledge that I’m used to reading trades and not single issues at this point. I want to know a lot more about the enemy we’re fighting, what world this is and what this conflict is all about. Though the action has been straight up awesome, it does need some of those details. If I get that in issues 3-5, then consider this minor complaint to be resolved.

Overall, I’m still very interested, still very engaged and when I flipped to the last page I definitely did a “Ugh, that’s it?!” which means Kindt has done a great job of hooking me through two issues.

Then there’s the art. Tomas Giorello just does humans, aliens, everything so beautifully. He doesn’t skimp on panels. There’s a lot of details, it’s full, it’s action-packed, it’s got pulp-action combined with realism in the best way. I can’t believe how good this art is, it’s really some of my favorite ever. There’s a big splash page with Aric recovering from a wound and felling an opponent and it’s something that I want to get original art of and hang up in my office. So pretty.

Overall, 9/10. I think Issue 1 was a bit stronger as it had a little more of a “wow I wasn’t expecting this” factor, and 2 did in some ways feel a little repetitive of 1, but not all in a bad way. The New Aric is still being established, and showing his huge prowess in battle is a great way to do that. It’ll prepare us for what’s coming ahead, I’m sure. I’m intrigued by the character and the world and I want to see desperately what it takes to get him to resign to putting that armor back on.

Jon Del Arroz’s Based Dragon Award Recommendations

Ran a poll yesterday on which blog my readers would like to see next, and the winner by no uncertain terms was my recommendation for Dragon Award nominations. If you haven’t seen the Dragon Awards before, they are the premier award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, given at Dragon*Con, arguably the best convention that exists. Please, readers, do take the time to vote as this is really your award choice and your voice matters.

Best Science Fiction Escaping Infinity by Richard Paolinelli

Richard really has created a great science fiction, and I mean that in the classic sense. It’s on the short side, but it’s packed with a lot of ideas and it’s definitely the best sci-fi of the year. 

Best Fantasy  A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day

Vox Day is the most underrated fantasy author in fiction. His Arts of Dark and Light series is frankly better fantasy than Brandon Sanderson (of whom I’m a big fan), Terry Goodkind, Terry Brooks or George R.R. Martin. The characters are fantastic, the world is a very cool Roman-esque fantasy world, it’s tense all the way through, and it’s got very cool magic and magical beings.

Best Young Adult Rachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter.

The Rachel series is really a wonderful take on wizardry school. I find it a shame that this series hasn’t won an award yet and that should be remedied in 2017.  Mrs. Lamplighter-Wright gets mad at me when I say that this series is better than Harry Potter… so I won’t say it. But I may have said it somewhere else in the past 🙂 

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz. 

It’s like Rogue One, only better and with actual characters who aren’t flat and have real romance. Do I need to explain this one to you? 😉  If you click on the nomination page and put one book in, put this one in. 

Best Alternate History  Breath of Earth by Beth Cato. 

This both took place in my home city and dealt with a period of time you don’t read a ton about. Everyone knows about the 1906 earthquake’s existence, but adding details and magic to it makes for a really compelling tale.

Best Apocalyptic A Place Outside The Wild by Daniel Humphreys.

Dan’s got a fresh take on Zombies that is very fun, a lot of action, and a wild ride. It’s pretty long for a zombie book but it only gives the plot that much more depth.

Best Horror Live and Let Bite by Declan Finn

Declan continues to redefine Vampire fiction with his third installment in the series. Book 1 got a dragon award nomination last year, and the series only gets more interesting from there. While book 2 is also eligible, this is where Declan should make his stand for the awards, as it fits the horror genre like fangs fit the Carotid artery.

Best Comic Book  Motor Girl #1 by Terry Moore.

His Rachel Rising was one of my favorite books of all time, and I was sad to see it end. This has classic cartoon elements, a gorilla (RIP Harambe), aliens, and a much deeper plot that’s unfolding. Issue 1 is great for the hook, and well worth the read.

Best Graphic Novel  Chew vol 12. – Sour Grapes by John Layman and Rob Guillory

Chew was honestly the best comic book of the last several years. The concept’s cool. It’s hilarious on every front. It’s actually pretty in depth, and the expansion of the powers of food get so ridiculous. People hated on the ending, but I thought it was fricking hilarious. Chew is most worthy of the Dragon.

Best Sci-Fi Or Fantasy TV Series No award.

I don’t like any SF/F TV shows right now. They all suck. Bah humbug.

Best Sci-Fi Or Fantasy Movie Passengers

This is a beautiful film. Great plot, great sci-fi, great romance, great characters. It can be a little slow at points but the timing feels realistic.There’s a lot of good sci-fi plot points and tropes in here and frankly Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence could do the hokey pokey on screen for two hours and I’d watch it and probably love it.

Best PC or Console Game Final Fantasy XV. 

An excellent installment to the Final Fantasy series. The battle system was wonderful, story great, characters compelling, the backstory and world were done right and the visuals are stunning as always.

Best Mobile Game Epic Card Game Digital

This game took everything fun about Magic: The Gathering and got rid of the heavy baggage of that game. It’s somewhat simpler to play though when I went into competitive matches I got STOMPED, so there is a lot more depth than people realize as well. There’s some cool mechanics unique to the game too and it’s super exciting that it’s now on a digital platform in app version. 

Best Board Game Hero Realms

Star Realms in Fantasy, yet they tweaked a couple of things to make it unique. You can play with “class decks” which you customize your playstyle before you even start, a nice innovation for deck building. On top of that, the power curve is very different. It’s worth a play, or a hundred.

Best Miniatures/CCG/RPG  Star Wars: Destiny

I mentioned this was my favorite game of 2016 launching at the tail end of the year. It’s a competitive card game but with dice, and has a very unique duel feel to it. I love how the dice work, the game mechanics are very clean and it’s always tense to play. Fantasy Flight usually nails it with their star wars games and this is no exception.

And there you have it. Go out and vote!