Sunday, December 28, 2014

Wrestling For My Life: The Legend, The Reality, and The Faith of a WWE Superstar, by Shawn Michaels and David Thomas

 Legendary WWE Superstar Shawn Michaels returns with his second memoir, and gets more personal this time....

The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac, by Sharma Shields

 I'm not generally a fan of the sub-genre of "Magic Realism".....In fact, just the term "Magic Realism" is enough to turn me right off from any book that I see it applied to. So I headed into Sharma Shields' THE SASQUATCH HUNTER'S ALMANAC with a healthy dose of trepidation, which was lessened only by my love of all things Cryptozoological.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali Deluxe Edition

 One of my treasured possessions as a kid was my battered copy of DC's ALL NEW COLLECTOR'S EDITION, VOL. 7, the oversized epic known as SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI. I must have read this 500 times, which was odd, because I was far from being a Superman fan, and, at seven years of age, I doubt that I knew much about Muhammad Ali. Yet something about this particular comic-book struck such a deep chord in me that I found myself returning to it, over and over again, for years. Was it the stunning Neal Adams art, which was made more amazing by the oversized format? Was it the outlandish plot? Or was it the character, wit, and determination of Muhammad Ali himself, his personality and larger-than-life mannerisms and speech-patterns so perfectly captured by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Friday, December 5, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Pirates and the Mouse: Disney's War Against The Counterculture, by Bob Levin

 In the early '70's, a group of underground cartoonists, collectively known as "The Air Pirates", published two underground comics called "AIR PIRATE FUNNIES", which featured the likenesses of dozens of Walt Disney characters, most prominently Micky Mouse and Minnie Mouse, engaged in decidedly un-Disney-like behavior. The brutal satire landed The Air Pirates in court, fighting Disney in a seemingly endless battle that would drag on for ten years.

Hulk, Vol. 3: Hulk No More

Still loving Ed McGuinness' art, still marveling at how pointless the stories are, still in awe of how Jeph Loeb's writing ability has gone completely down the shitpipe.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hulk, Vol. 2: Red & Green

Once again, I will state that, despite my immense enjoyment of this book, it is NOT well-written. Not at all.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Kumquat, by Jeff Strand

 There are not many authors that I like enough that I would read a romantic comedy.

 Jeff Strand is one of the rare breed that I would follow anywhere, though.

 So when I found out that his latest, KUMQUAT, is, at heart, a romantic comedy, I decided that he'd built up enough goodwill with me that I could suck it up, take one for the team, and give it a shot....

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hulk, Vol. 1: Red Hulk

 You hear the term "Batshit crazy"  thrown around a lot these days. Hell, I throw it around a lot. Until now, everyone that has ever used that term was wrong. Because this, my friends...this, HULK, VOL. 1: RED HULK....this is truly BATSHIT CRAZY!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Minimum Wage, Book One: Focus On The Strange

 When we last saw Rob Hoffman, he had just married the love of his life, Sylvia, and all seemed right with the world.
Did anyone think that was going to last?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Turtles In Time

I'm clearly out of the Turtles continuity loop, because this collection references characters and plot devices that I was totally clueless about.

 That said, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: TURTLES IN TIME was a real blast to read.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Essential Warlock, Volume 1

  I'm doing a massive read-through of Marvel's THE AVENGERS, from around issue #150-300, and this is one of the "collateral damage" books- Books that were sitting in my stacks, and got incorporated into the AVENGERS marathon due to a shared story or two. ESSENTIAL WARLOCK, VOLUME 1 got included due to AVENGERS ANNUAL #7, which featured part one of the conclusion of Jim Starlin's epic Thanos Saga.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dark Screams, Volume One


DARK SCREAMS, VOLUME ONE is the first e-book in a planned series, featuring new short stories by noteworthy Horror authors, as well as a handful of rarely-seen classic tales.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Wake

 Once in a while, a book comes along that makes you question all that you hold dear.

 "Was that a work of genius, and I'm retarded...? Or was that a bunch of crap, and I'm still as smart as I always was?"

 Scott Snyder's THE WAKE is one of those books, and I'm leaning toward the second option.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Avengers Versus Thanos

 Is there a greater villain than Jim Starlin's Thanos? To me, he's right up there with such classic baddies as Doctor Doom, Galactus, and Darkseid, and his twisted psyche sets him apart from even those Gods of Evil, placing him at the head of the bad-guy table.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Teen Titans: Earth One, Volume One

When you've just rebooted your comic-book universe, do you really need to launch a line of graphic novels that reboots your universe and characters yet again...? This is the conundrum that DC poses with their superfluous "Earth One" graphic novel line.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Batman, Volume 5: Zero Year- Dark City

 I'm of two minds about this latest volume of Scott Snyder's epic "New 52" BATMAN reboot. Before getting into specifics, I guess that the truest thing that I can say is that BATMAN, VOLUME 5: ZERO YEAR- DARK CITY is like that summer blockbuster film that you really enjoy, despite it's many, many flaws.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Essential Captain Marvel, Volume 2

 While nostalgia is becoming more and more of a thing with me as I grow ever older, I find myself dreading reading some of the books that I've got sitting in my endless stacks of unread comics. I have a very special dread that's reserved for Marvel's massive "Essential" books.....They're often key historical books that I feel I must read, but they're usually so wordy and boring that it takes me forever to slog through them...This one was a chore to get through.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Marvel Premiere Classic, Vol. 89: Avengers: The Private War of Dr. Doom

 While I still mourn the passing of the glorious MARVEL PREMIERE CLASSIC line, life must go on! Hence, my review of MARVEL PREMIERE CLASSIC, VOL. 89: AVENGERS: THE PRIVATE WAR OF DR. DOOM! Onward, True Believers!!!! Past the break!!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Punisher Max: Bullseye

 Fans who are missing their dose of Garth Ennis-style violence/comedy/insanity will be delighted with this batshit-crazy series.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thor: For Asgard

 THOR: FOR ASGARD gets the first "Crabby Reviewer Half-A-Story Alert" award. Congratulations, Robert Rodi and Simone Bianchi!!

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two, Volume 1

Once again, writer Tom Taylor knocks it out of the park, providing one of the few readable books that DC is publishing these days.

The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects

With THE AMAZING SCREW-ON HEAD AND OTHER CURIOUS OBJECTS, Mike Mignola gives some of his more unusual creations a nice little showcase of their own, and while his work is just as creepy and off-putting as ever, the collection has more than a few laugh-out-loud moments.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hellboy Library Edition, Volume 4: The Crooked Man and The Troll Witch

Regular Crabby Readers will know that I'm a total sucker for all things Hellboy. I've been double, triple, even quadruple-dipped on the collections, I read and reread and study the collected works of Mike Mignola like they're the Rosetta Stone, and I tell everyone that will listen, and even folks who won't: GO BUY HELLBOY!!! So you know the drill.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The New Teen Titans, Volume One

 As a young comic-book reader, Marv Wolfman & George Perez's THE NEW TEEN TITANS was the one and only DC book that I followed faithfully in the pre-Crisis days. It was THE book to discuss with like-minded friends at lunchtime in the school cafeteria. I bought a few of DC's NEW TEEN TITANS ARCHIVES years and years ago, when they were first released, and...I didn't care for them. Then DC came out with THE NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS, and I skipped the first volume, but got itchy palms when Volume three was released. I grabbed volumes 2 and 3 simultaneously, but then the collector mania took hold......Volume 1 was out of print, and commanding crazy prices. Thankfully, cheapness prevailed....I bought the third Archives volume, and decided to bide my time and wait to see if DC issued a trade of the first two Archives, so I could read the whole series again. And guess what? They just released THE NEW TEEN TITANS, VOLUME ONE, and it's JUST AS BORING AS IT WAS YEARS AGO, WHEN I READ THE FIRST ARCHIVES VOLUME!!!When will I learn?? WHEN????

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

X-Men: Storm

At some point, you may be tempted to delve into some '90's X-MEN books. DO NOT GIVE IN TO THAT TEMPTATION!!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Vol. 1: Conquest

 I never picked up any of the Valiant books, and Gold Key was (Mainly....) before my time, so this is my first exposure to Turok...I have no idea if any of this jibes with what has gone before, or if this is a brand-new take on the character. I'm a new reader taking this all in with fresh eyes. Soooo.....

A Christmas Story: Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic, by Caseen Gaines

 This book is more fun than a glass of Ovaltine.

Friday, September 26, 2014

X-Men: The Asgardian Wars

Having read this book, I now remember why my teenaged-self dropped UNCANNY X-MEN around issue #200 or thereabouts.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

X-Men: Alpha Flight

 One of the great constants of my life as a comic-book reader has been that, no matter how many times I read them, I never get sick of the Claremont/Byrne X-MEN issues. Maybe it's nostalgia, maybe it takes me back to a better, simpler time in my life, or maybe they're just that good....I've read their run dozens of times, and I continue to reread it whenever there's an upgrade in format or an interesting-looking collection issued. This was one such interesting-looking collection....

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Waiting For The Great Pumpkin, by Charles M. Schulz

 How jaded and horrible am I? I picked up this little hardcover sight unseen from In-Stock Trades expecting it to be a typical Fantagraphics book, which would offer historical context and behind-the-scenes tidbits relating the Charles M. Schulz's Great Pumpkin PEANUTS strips.

Monsters In The Movies: 100 Years of Cinematic Nightmares

 I'm a sucker for a monster movie. Good or bad, if they show a monster, I'm gonna check it out. So John Landis' MONSTERS IN THE MOVIES: 100 YEARS OF CINEMATIC NIGHTMARES was a no-brainer.

Superman/Wonder Woman, Volume 1: Power Couple

 One of the things that has driven me out of my gourd about DC's "New 52" has been the Superman/Wonder Woman romance. I'm an old fart, so I hate seeing Lois Lane relegated to BFF status. I was not expecting to like this book. Yet I did. Didn't love it, not sure I'd pay to read more, but this was a fun way to kill 90 minutes.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Corpse on the Imjin! and Other Stories By Harvey Kurtzman

 Fantagraphics continues to please comics historians and nostalgic nerds alike with their "Fantagraphics EC Library" collections, which spotlight one artist or writer per volume. As the title, CORPSE ON THE IMJIN! AND OTHER STORIES BY HARVEY KURTZMAN should inform you, this volume shines the spotlight on Harvey Kurtzman, particularly his stunning war stories from E.C.'s TWO-FISTED TALES and FRONTLINE COMBAT

Friday, September 5, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Earth 2, Volume 4: The Dark Age

WOW, talk about a reversal of fortune.....James Robinson leaves, Tom Taylor takes over, and not only does EARTH 2 become readable/enjoyable, it becomes FREAKIN' GREAT!!!

Earth 2, Volume 3: Battle Cry

The battle against Steppenwolf kicks into high gear, as Earth 2's "Wonders" take the battle to the isolated nation of Dherain....

Earth 2, Volume 2: The Tower of Fate

I didn't review EARTH 2, VOLUME 1: THE GATHERING because it was bad. I'm usually more inclined to review a book if it's great or awful......books that are just "Eh..." usually get a pass from me, because I can't be bothered to devote any more energy to mediocrity. THE GATHERING was a chore to get through, and it offended my old-man comic book sensibilities by making The JLA, who should be the grand old men of the superhero set, into much younger people. I want senior citizens, dammit!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Kirby: King of Comics, by Mark Evanier

I picked this up from In Stock Trades a few months back when they had a sale, and wow, am I glad I did. I had been eyeing this book ever since it was released (In 2008), but never bit because of the high price. I'm glad that I grabbed a copy, and I'm glad that I put down the book I was reading on August 28th (Kirby's birthday!) and picked this up. What better way to honor and remember the man known as "The King" than by enjoying this lovingly written, beautifully illustrated book...?

Wonder Woman, Volume 5: Flesh

 The God (Goddess...?) of War marches on in WONDER WOMAN, VOLUME 5: FLESH, the latest collection of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang's re imagining of the amazon princess.

Wonder Woman, Volume 4: War

 Brian Azzarello's WONDER WOMAN has been, hands-down, THE BEST of DC's "New 52". The latest collection, WONDER WOMAN, VOLUME 4: WAR is no exception.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ghost Heart by Weston Ochse & Yvonne Navarro

 A young boy embarks on a heroic quest to save his parents crumbling marriage in GHOST HEART, the new Young Adult novel by Weston Ochse and Yvonne Navarro.

 Ochse and Navarro are best known as horror authors, but they've teamed up to deliver a surprisingly heartfelt coming-of-age tale, complete with a young protagonist who leaves home a little boy, and comes back a young man.

 Matt Cady is having a rough time: His parents are headed for a divorce, and his best friend, Regina Running Deer, is planning to run away from her own broken home to join her shady cousin and his motorcycle gang on the road. When Regina finally makes her move, Matt gets the brilliant idea to run away with her, hoping that his disappearance, and subsequent miraculous return, will bring his parents closer together and save their marriage.

 Aside from Regina, Matt has a couple of unusual traveling companions: Jacket and Raisin, a pair of spirit guardians, who have been watching over Matt and Regina, respectively, for years. Regina has outgrown her guardian Raisin, but he still follows her, unseen and unheard, hoping to break through to her and get her off of the path her life is taking. When Matt and Regina finally hook up with Regina's shifty cousin Ali Baba, things take a turn for the worse, and Matt is left alone with Jacket, and soon finds himself confronted with an enigmatic witch, vampire kitties, a ravenous phantom, and the ghosts of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.

 While Ochse and Navarro have crafted a fast-paced narrative, the book ultimately feels a bit hollow because the stakes of the quest are so low. There's no life-or-death imperative.....if Matt fails, the worst that can happen is that his parents will split up. There's a lot of bizarre story detours, with witches, brutal bikers, ghosts and phantoms, but it all feels like padding and wheel-spinning, designed to beef up the page count. The dual threat of The Phantom and Ali Baba and the 40 thieves are built up throughout the novel, and ultimately fizzle away inconsequentially. Ochse and Navarro do nail one key aspect of the novel, however, in the quiet scenes between Matt and his ghostly mentor, Jacket. Their relationship rings true, and tugs at the heartstrings.

 GHOST HEART is a quick, light holds the reader's attention, and the tender relationship between Matt and Jacket is enough to cover up the novel's narrative flaws, but this is ultimately a slight little book, that will likely be forgotten soon after turning the last page.

 The publisher provided a review copy.

Alex + Ada, Volume 1

 This is the kind of book that would seem to be doomed in a Super-Hero dominated marketplace, and that would be a true shame.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Crow: Pestilence

 IDW's latest tale of James O'Barr's THE CROW mythos is, by far, the most-supernaturally-tinged iteration yet. It's also the most blood-drenched.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Sandman, Volume 9: The Kindly Ones

 And so we reach the end of our journey with Morpheus, Lord of Dreams. THE SANDMAN, VOLUME 9: THE KINDLY ONES brings down the curtain on Neil Gaiman's legendary creation, and it's all over but the crying. (Which we'll see in VOLUME 10: THE WAKE....)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Sandman, Volume 7: Brief Lives

 It's interesting how time, and perspective, can change one's opinion about art and entertainment. THE SANDMAN, VOLUME 7: BRIEF LIVES has always been a favorite story arc of mine, and Gaiman's impish creation, Delirium, a favorite character. 22 years later, I found the story to be overly wordy and meandering, and the Delirium character often tried my patience to the limit.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Monster & Madman

Steve Niles is forever a mystery to me. The man had one (ONE!) great idea (30 DAYS OF NIGHT), which was thoroughly destroyed by terrible execution, yet he continues to hack out awful work, regurgitating other (Better) stories, and he is hailed as a "Modern Master of Horror" by critics and fans alike. I find Niles' work to verge on retarded, and his latest, MADMAN & MONSTER, is no exception.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Movie Review: Guardians of The Galaxy

Aside from the first IRON MAN, and THE AVENGERS, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY has been my most anticipated Marvel Studios movie. It's a bold, audacious move by Marvel to release a huge Summer action movie that stars a group of characters that almost no one outside of comic fandom has ever heard of...I can almost picture Marvel thumbing their nose at the Hollywood establishment and saying "We're big enough and rich enough to do whatever we want now!" So they went and made one of the most outright FUN movies I've ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Glory: The Complete Saga

 Having never been a fan of Rob Liefeld's Image characters, I honestly have no idea how much, if any, of what goes on in GLORY: THE COMPLETE SAGA jibes with the character's past publishing history. What I can say, with certainty, is that writer Joe Keatinge and artist Ross Campbell have truly outdone themselves, delivering a blistering twelve-issue run that gives readers a beginning, middle, and end, something that is a true rarity in comics these days.

 Glory, as conceived by creator Rob Liefeld, was nothing but a shameless rip-off of Wonder Woman, a companion piece to his Superman rip-off, Supreme. Just as Supreme was re-invented by Alan Moore, Glory gets her turn in the sun now, thanks to a brilliant re-interpretation by Keatinge and Campbell. Their Glory is a hulking, scarred brute of a warrior woman, the offspring of the leaders of two eternally warring races; Born to bring peace to the feuding kingdoms, she abandons her birthright, choosing instead to go to Earth and become a champion to humanity. In her absence, the kingdoms she was to unite fall further into ruin, leading to a disastrous battle that finds her homeworld destroyed, billions dead, and Glory herself a wrecked, shattered husk barely clinging to life.

 GLORY: THE COMPLETE SAGA chronicles Glory's preparations for the final battle against the forces that destroyed her homeworld, but there's much more to this book than meets the eye. (What does meet the eye is gorgeous, thanks to the hideously grotesque, yet beautiful, art by Ross Campbell. His bizarre creatures, overflowing gore, and exaggerated anatomy are absolutely captivating, and his work is complimented perfectly by the eye-pleasing color palattes of MS, Shastia Hamilton, Joseph Bergin III, Owen Gieni, and Charis Solis.) In addition to bloody battles, there's also drama, friendship, betrayal, secrets, and the underlying love between family members. Plus, lots and lots of monsters get killed in all kinds of nasty ways.

 There were some parts of this book that didn't quite add up for me...I didn't really get how Glory's human sidekick Riley was necessary in the first place. She plays a huge role in the climax of the story, but I wasn't sure why she was a part of the story to begin with...the way she was introduced didn't ring true to me. But overall, this is a good, solid read that should keep you busy for a while. Clocking in at 336 pages, with tons of extras, including scripts, cover and sketch galleries, and much more, this book is well worth the price of admission.

 Image Comics provided a review copy.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Wraith: Welcome To Christmasland

 Joe Hill's creepy antagonist Charles Talent Manx III, villain of his brilliant novel NOS4A2 (Review HERE) returns for a prequel/origin story in IDW's THE WRAITH: WELCOME TO CHRISTMASLAND.

 I really can't stress enough what a huge "Get" this book is for IDW. Joe Hill is a major player in the Horror industry, and NOS4A2, in my opinion, will stand as an enduring classic of the genre as the years go by. So for IDW to get Hill himself to write a new NOS4A2 story is pretty big stuff. This is not a bestselling author supplying an idea that another writer does the heavy lifting on, which is something comic book fans have had foisted on them for years...this is the actual bestselling author, contributing his ideas, in his own words. Hill's love of comics is no secret, and his partnership with IDW has brought his fans some great stuff (Especially his LOCKE & KEY series), but this book is a whole different beast. If played correctly by IDW's marketing department, this has the potential to be a huge crossover hit, potentially reaching out to fans of Hill's original novel that have never read a comic book before. And that's pretty exciting stuff.

 All that aside, nothing matters if the story isn't up to snuff, and Hill, ably assisted by artist Charles Paul Wilson III (Billed here as Charles "Talent' Wilson III), has delivered a whopper. The main story is bookended by a pair of shorts that delve into the past of Charlie Manx: The opening story is a straight origin story, as Manx reveals the story of his life and the creation of "Christmasland", the otherworldly amusement park that is home to the transformed children that he abducts. The story that closes out the volume is heavily tied into the events that led to the creation of Christmasland. Sandwiched between those two shorts is a five-part story that gives Hill's readers all they could ever want of Christmasland, and then some. A trio of convicts, being transported to prison, manage to overcome their guards and crash the prison truck, leading one of the cons to call an old acquaintance for assistance in "disappearing". They're soon picked up by the familiar Rolls-Royce Wraith, driven by a happy fellow with a pronounced overbite.

 The convicts, guards in tow, find themselves disappearing more fully than they ever intended: Manx is taking them to Christmasland, where they can play that classic childhood favorite, "Scissors for the drifter" with all of the park's jolly little residents. Oh, joy!

 Mixed in among the copious horror and Gore, Hill also delivers a heartfelt tale of the love between a father and his tragically deceased son. Hill writes great crazy, but his non-crazy characters are genuine and believable, which makes their horrific circumstances all the move emotionally disturbing. On the art front, Charles Paul Wilson III makes Christmasland his own, wonderfully realizing all of the outre descriptions that Hill dropped in NOS4A2. There's a double-page spread towards the end that is absolutely breathtaking, both in terms of detail and layout, as Manx's children pursue a pair of escapees through an ice maze. I would buy a print or a poster of that spread in a minute. I've never heard of Charles Paul Wilson III before now, but I'm going to predict that we'll all be hearing a lot more from this talented young man.

 Fans of NOS4A2 will love this trip back in time with Charlie Manx, and new readers will find the story totally accessible to anyone who hasn't read the novel. Highly, highly recommended stuff.

 IDW provided a review copy.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Sandman, Volume 5: A Game of You

 As I reread Neil Gaiman's brilliant SANDMAN saga in these spiffy new "Fully Remastered Editions", I notice one glaring omission that makes for a lesser reading experience for an old fart like me that's been here on more than one occasion: DC, for all of their endless milking of THE SANDMAN in various and sundry editions (Floppy, trade, hardcover, Absolute, Omniboo, Annotated, digital...), has never really strayed from the format of the original collections. (Call me on this, if you know differently.....I didn't spring for the Absolute hardcovers, because I thought they were overpriced, and I'm kicking myself for not buying the two omniboo, but I'm just too poor right now...) Considering what a game-changer THE SANDMAN was (And IS...), DC has stuck to those original collected editions like they were The Bible, never adding any behind-the-scenes material of any kind to the volumes.