Author Archives: Todd

And Then I Read: MISTER MIRACLE #12

Image © DC Comics. Written by Tom King, , art and colors by Mitch Gerads, letters by Clayton Cowles, cover by Nick Derington.

The final issue of this series wraps things up, but also leaves many things unclear. Scott Free and Big Barda have a quiet domestic life with their son and soon a daughter in a condo in Los Angeles. Funky Flashman, the one-time Stan Lee parody created by Jack Kirby, is their babysitter. They apparently commute by Boom Tube to Apokolips, where they take on Darkseid’s minions for control now that Darkseid has been defeated. In this issue, the ghosts or digital hallucinations of the many characters who have died in this series talk to Scott about his life, his choices, and what his actual reality might be. Nothing is clear. Did he succeed in committing suicide in issue #1, making all this an afterlife experience? Is he trapped on Apokolips dreaming of his family life? Is he in hell or in heaven? Those are all possible answers. Scott’s answer remains, “I can always escape.” And no doubt he can and will escape into another reality in the future, in which this entire series will be largely ignored. Kind of frustrating, but that’s comics for you. I had hoped for more of a resolution, but I did enjoy reading each issue of the series, including this one.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: CAPTAIN GINGER #3

Image © Stuart Moore, June Brigman & Ahoy Comics. Main story written by Stuart Moore, art by June Brigman & Roy Richardson, colors by Veronica Gandini, letters by Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt. Backup written by Tom Peyer, art by Randy Elliot, colors by Andy Troy, letters by Rob Steen. Extras by those listed above.

I can’t quite decide if the main cat characters in this book are just winging it, or if they have a better idea of how to get by in their world than it seems. The Captain and his right paw, Mittens, are risking their lives in a jury-rigged ship to follow a signal they think might be from another cat ship like theirs. How this might help them is not clear. Once they’ve gone, things continue to go wrong on The Indomitable. One ray of hope comes from a message pulled from the computer archives featuring the feeder (human) who “created” them. His hologram seems willing to help. Ginger and Mittens have reached a destination, but found only more trouble. 

The Hashtag: Danger backup has fun exploring the personalities and resources of the three-member team, and as usual, there are several text features to read and enjoy. Good stuff.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: STARSWARM by Jerry Pournelle

Cover illustration by Vincent di Fate.

Kip lives on a science research station on a planet whose official name is Paradise, but most people call it Purgatory. The planet has many life forms, most of them highly dangerous, but as Kip grew, he learned from his Uncle Mike how to deal with the dangers, helped by the station service dogs, and helped even more by a voice that speaks in his head, a female voice he knows as Gwen. Gwen gives him help and information, but has cautioned Kip to keep her existence completely secret, even from Uncle Mike, and he’s done so. Kip’s schoolmates sometimes wonder how he knows so much, and why he gets that faraway look before answering questions, but no one has guessed his secret.

Kip’s parents died when he was an infant under mysterious circumstances. Uncle Mike knows, but won’t tell him. Gwen also seems to know, but says she’s not allowed to tell him until he reaches a certain age. Paradise is essentially owned by a giant Earth corporation, and Starswarm Station is their nod to science and the environment. The scientists primarily study the giant plants known as Starswarms like the one near the station. Others are in the sea and elsewhere. When corporate shenanigans bring threats to the station’s Starswarm, Kip and his friends try to protect it, and before long are deep in trouble that forces them to hide out in the wild areas outside the station. Gwen is, at last, able to tell Kip more about what’s really going on, but things keep escalating, and it seems Kip himself is somehow at the center of a massive secret power struggle he doesn’t understand. Will his friends and new allies among the creatures of Paradise be enough to save him?

In his introduction, Pournelle makes it clear that this book is an homage to the novels for young readers of Robert Heinlein, and I’d say it’s a satisfying example of just that. It starts a bit slow, but the pace of the story accelerates steadily, and soon I was finding it hard to put down. Pournelle has some more modern scientific ideas to work with than Heinlein, and he handles them well, but the characters and the story itself are the real draw.

Highly recommended.

And Then I Read: THE WRONG EARTH #4

Image © Ahoy Comics. Main story written by Tom Peyer, art by Jamal Igle & Juan Castro, Backup story written by  Paul Constant, art by Gary Erskine, both colored by Andy Troy and lettered by Rob Steen. Additional material credits above.

This book continues to surprise me, and after a lifetime of comics reading, that’s not easy to do. Most of the main characters show intelligence and resourcefulness in their mixed-up situations. Earth Alpha (the fun one) has Stinger knocking out his doctor and Deuce neutralizing the Earth Omega version of her boss, Number One, for instance. Even the signs on the buildings are clever and amusing, like the one on the Earth Alpha garage of sidekick Stinger labeled, “Abandoned Warehouse, No Trespassing.” Earth Omega has a criminal dive bar named the Razor and Kidney, while Earth Alpha has fun crime props like a huge piggy bank. And just when I think I know where the story is going, Peyer and Igle do something else more interesting.

The backup Dragonfly story is pretty good too, and the text stories are all worth reading. In fact, my favorite line in the book is from “Rich” by Carol Lay: “People vex me.”

Recommended.

And Then I Read: THE DREAMING #3

Image © DC Comics. Written by Simon Spurrier, art by Bilquis Evely, colors by Mat Lopes, letters by Simon Bowland.

Lucien the librarian is struggling to fill the void of authority left by the absence of Dream, and has allowed an old Nightmare to be released, Judge Ezekiel Gallows. He was created by Dream as a horror of the old west. Gallows suggests he would be happy to advise Lucien on the many problems he sees plaguing The Dreaming, and Lucien is willing to let him while he has a rest. Before long, the equally long imprisoned characters Brute and Glob are enlisted by Judge Gallows to help set things right, in a quest for justice and punishment, as he sees it. The inhabitants of The Dreaming watch nervously as Gallows confronts Dora, wondering if they will be the next target.

I’m really enjoying Simon Spurrier’s prose and dialogue in this third issue. I think he’s loosened up a bit and is making the series his own, and I like what he’s bringing. The art by Evely is quite excellent too, and also perhaps taking on a more personal vision of the characters, which works fine for me.

Recommended.