Category Archives: Comics

And Then I Read: ABE SAPIEN Vol. 4

SapienShapeImage © Mike Mignola.

This series has become something of a mix of “The Fugitive,” and the usual B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth madness. Abe Sapien has morphed into something more alien than his original appearance, and has fled from the B.P.R.D., his home and employer until now, and they’re trying to find him. Meanwhile, he’s wandering across the western U.S. amid the devastation of hellish eruptions from beneath the earth, creatures great and small out to kill and destroy humanity and anything they come across. There are pockets of people trying their best to keep their lives together amid this, and in two story arcs, Abe gets involved with some of them. Because of his monstrous look, he’s met with hostility and suspicion, though some also recognize him as one of the good guys. And there are evil humans out there too, with agendas and deals of their own. Abe seems to be sleepwalking at times, until some horrific event brings out the fight in him, but overall it’s a bleak world he’s in, and he doesn’t seem to know how he fits into it. The writing is compelling, though I wasn’t a huge fan of the art this time. Still, worth reading.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1993-94

Peanuts93-94Images © Peanuts Worldwide LLC.

There isn’t much I can say about this series I haven’t said many times before. It makes me smile, and sometimes laugh, which is not something most comic strips do for me these days. The lines are gradually getting shakier, but on this strip it’s a minor distraction, and the writing is as sharp as ever.

Peanuts93-94pageHere’s a single page with three gems. They’re not all gems, but there are enough to make it well worth your time.

Highly recommended.

And Then I Read: LITTLE NEMO, RETURN TO SLUMBERLAND 3

LittleNemo3Image © Eric Shanower, Gabriel Rodriguez & IDW.

This issue is a mind-twisting tour-de-force on the art end, combining the surreal visual styles of Nemo creator Winsor McCay with the equally confounding styles of artist M.C. Escher, known for his optical trickery, and cartoonist Gustave Verbeek, whose 1903-05 comic strip “The Upside Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo” had the unusual property of being read twice, once normally and once upside down, with characters that combined images to work that way, as in the main figure here. The storyline is equally clever, with some pages being upside-down versions of others. The content of the story is fairly slight, Nemo and Flip are being chased essentially, but there’s so much going on visually it’s hard to see how a deeper story could have been managed. Impressive and fascinating.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: ASTRO CITY 17

AC17Image © Juke Box Productions.

An interesting mix of science and fantasy this time that reminded me at times of the work of Jim Starlin. Honor Guard, the top super-team in Astro City has many foes, but also many fans, including a mysterious one who, once a year, delivers a table-full of red cakes to their headquarters. As the story opens, a strange purple hominid appears on cake day to tell them his people are the providers, and that he needs to make a sad confession. “Sorrowday” is that confession, which involves the demise of one of Honor Guard and how their deadly foe Krigari the Iron-Handed came to focus on their destruction. It’s nicely told, and has a mythic quality that I found appealing. The art is by Tom Grummett and a crew of inkers, but it all looks fine to me.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: BATMAN ’66, THE LOST EPISODE

Bat66LostEpImage © DC Comics, Inc.

The Batman TV show of the 1960s is something I enjoyed as as kid, but even then I knew it was being played for laughs, which I found disappointing, as I thought of Batman as a more serious crime fighter. I’ve tried watching it more recently, and it doesn’t work for me at all now. I haven’t read the comic series based on the show, but the lure of a Harlan Ellison “lost episode” adapted by Len Wein and José Luis Garcia-Lopez was too tempting to pass up.

Under a cool Alex Ross cover, the book looks great, and reads well enough, but in the campy humorous style of the TV show, which I still don’t care for. Even the wonderful drawing was not enough to make me love this comic, I’m afraid. The story is slight, filled with references to the number 2, and even has comic relief in the form of “Aunt Harriet,” who I’d forgotten, mercifully. The action sequences are about the best thing here, and of course they’re much better than anything on the show. Padding out this book are complete scans of the pencils by Garcia-Lopez and the original story pitch by Ellison.

Mildly recommended.