Comments for books shipping March 1, 2017.

Once again, my overlords have determined that I only need nine hours for a weekend, which took place Monday. I clipped my nails, and, uh, took a shower and, uh, watched a TV show. I might have eaten a couple of times, and played with the dog. Pretty productive, if I do say so myself! Anyway, my comments this week should be even more shallow and irrelevant than ever, given that I've written them in the space between vibrations.

AMERICA #1

AMERIKARATE #1

ANIMAL NOIR #1

BATMAN #18

CLONE CONSPIRACY OMEGA

CORTO MALTESE IN SIBERIA

COSMIC SCOUNDRELS #1

DAVE STEVENS' ROCKETEER ARTISAN EDITION

EXTREMITY #1

GREEN LANTERNS #18

JAMES BOND #1

JUSTICE LEAGUE #16

ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN #1

RAT QUEENS #1

RIVERDALE (ONE-SHOT)

ROYAL CITY #1

SAVAGE THINGS #1

SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL #1

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING PRELUDE #1

STAR TREK: GOLD KEY 100-PAGE SPECTACULAR

SUPERMAN #18

THINK TANK VOL. 5 #1

Some  photo spoiler-1.gif involved. You are warned!

AMERICA #1

Publisher: MARVEL COMICS

Writer: GABBY RIVERA

Art/Cover: JOE QUINONES

Variant Cover by CLIFF CHIANG

Variant Cover by JAMIE MCKELVIE

YOUNG VARIANT COVER BY SKOTTIE YOUNG

Action Figure Variant Cover by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER

Hip-Hop Variant Cover by JEFFREY VEREGGE

32 PGS. • Rated T+ • $3.99

At last! Everyone’s favorite no-nonsense powerhouse, America Chavez, gets her own series!

Written by critically-acclaimed YA novelist Gabby Rivera (Juliet Takes A Breath) and drawn by all-star artist Joe Quinones (HOWARD THE DUCK), Marvel Comics’ brand new AMERICA series shines a solo spotlight on the high-octane and hard-hitting adventures of the one and only America Chavez!

America has always been uncontestably awesome, and as the newly appointed leader of the Ultimates, she’s now officially claimed her place as the preeminent butt-kicker of the Marvel Universe! But while leading a team of heroes and punching out big bads is great and all, it doesn’t really leave much time for self-discovery. … So what’s a super-powered teenager do when she’s looking for a little fulfillment? She goes to college!

She just has to stop an interdimensional monster or two first, plus shut down a pesky alien cult that’s begun worshiping her exploits!

FIRST ISSUE ALERT

Nope, still not reviewing Marvels. I will say two things about this book sight unseen: 1) I find America's self-confidence sexy, despite the fact that her gayness means she's out of bounds even as an object of fantasy. 2) I predict this book won't last a year.

AMERIKARATE #1

Publisher: ACTION LAB

Writers: BROCKTON MCKINNEY, COREY KALMAN

Art: DEVIN ROTH

Cover A - DEVIN ROTH (main)

Cover B - DANIEL ARRUDA MASSA (Footloose)

Cover C - SAM ELLIS (Archer)

Cover D - BILL MCKAY (Action VHS)

Cover E - APRIL O’NEIL (photo cover)

32 pgs. • M  • FC • $3.99 (reg.), $4.99 (var.)

Sam Kickwell was the best of the best -- until a terrible karate accident involving his brother and ninjas convinced him to hang up his black belt. Now he and his appendage-less sibling have moved to a town that has outlawed martial arts; a place they can finally be at peace — until the fateful day his enemies arrive, forcing him back into the only life he’s ever known: Karate fighting for America.

Featuring artwork by Devin Roth, BOB’S BURGERS character designer!

FIRST ISSUE ALERT

Anyone who has read my comments for any length of time will probably assume, rightly, that this is not my cup of tea. I'm not big on cartoony comics, even satires with an Adult Swim vibe, as this one is.

I'll give it points, though, for this issue being sort of a Footloose parody -- you don't need to have seen Footloose to get the plot, but if you did, it adds a sardonic edge. There's also a bit of a Lone Wolf and Cub thing going on, although that seems to be a throwaway bit and probably won't be back next issue.

The top left cover, BTW, is an homage to the Footloose movie poster with Kevin Bacon, so it's not all in my head. In fact, I suspect all the covers are visual references of one kind or another, but I can't ID any of the others. I would like to mention that the top center cover is actually the lead character holding his sunglasses in one hand and some nunchucks in the other -- but the way it's posed it looks like he's holding some garden shears. Not sure if that's an accident or what. I checked the movie posters for Sling Blade and Edward Scissorhands, but didn't find a match.

ANIMAL NOIR #1

Publisher: IDW PUBLISHING

Writers: IZAR LUNACEK & NEJC JUREN

Art: IZAR LUNACEK

Cover: IZAR LUNACEK X 2

Subscription cover: NICK PITARRA

Variant cover: ROY LITTLE

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Anthropomorphic animals like you’ve never seen them before. It’s Chinatown meets Animal Farm and just like the George Orwell classic Lunacek and Juren’s animals are an allegory for today’s world.

Private Investigator (and giraffe), Immanuel Diamond – Manny to his friends – has been asked by his uncle – an influential judge -- to track down a prey fantasy movie. Adult films in this world are staged hunts where one animal eats another and the judge’s wife starred in one that has been hidden (until now).

Giraffe detectives, hippo mob members, prey-obsessed lions, street fighting elephants, and oppressed zebras are just part of this wild animal kingdom.

FIRST ISSUE ALERT

They really shouldn't have led this summary with "Anthropomorphic animals like you've never seen them before," because these are anthropomorphic animals as I have seen them before, and usually better. Take, for example, Blacksad, the European bandes dessinee that depicts anthropomorphic animals in a crime noir setting, much as this book does. But the art in Blacksad (by two Spaniards) is stunning, whereas in Animal Noir, not so much. And the stories in Blacksad (originally published in French) are both charming and riveting, whereas I got about halfway through this issue before swiping left.

BATMAN #18

Publisher: DC COMICS

Written by TOM KING

Art and cover by DAVID FINCH and DANNY MIKI

Variant cover by TIM SALE

32 pg • FC • $2.99 U.S. • RATED T

This issue will ship with two covers.

“I AM BANE” part three! Bane broke the bat before, but it wasn’t enough — now he’s going to break everyone else! Bane is coming, and no one is safe!

In addition to the much-needed rehabilitation of Bane as an A-list villain, this story also demonstrates how the new understanding between Batman and Catwoman works in practice.

Good story, plus David Finch drawing Batman. Recommended.

CLONE CONSPIRACY OMEGA

Publisher: MARVEL COMICS

Writers: DAN SLOTT & CHRISTOS GAGE, PETER DAVID

Art: CORY SMITH, MARK BAGLEY, STUART IMMONEN

Cover by JAMES HARREN

Variant Cover by ADI GRANOV

40 PGS. • ONE-SHOT • Rated T+ • $4.99

• THE CLONE CONSPIRACY is finished, but the impacts on Spider-Man’s life is HUGE.

• The Rhino comes at Spider-Man with an intense fury and aims to pin the spider to the wall… Permanently.

• What was the final fate of Ben Reilly? Or the Lizard?

• Witness the first chapter of the next big Spider-Book by Peter David & Mark Bagley!

Still not reviewing Marvel, but can't resist commenting that this clone saga, which wanted to  redeem the first one, seems to share at least one problem with its antecedent: It's gone on too long.

CORTO MALTESE IN SIBERIA (GN)

Publisher: IDW PUBLISHING

Writer/Art/Cover: HUGO PRATT

TPB • B&W • $29.99 • 120 pages

With this book Hugo Pratt leaves behind the short story form he’d used for 21 interrelated tales and presents a truly epic graphic novel. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and the First World War, Corto Maltese is engaged by the Red Lanterns — a Chinese secret society made up entirely of women — to find an armored train laden with gold that belonged to the last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II. They aren’t the only ones lusting after the treasure. The adventure, which shifts from the hidden courts of Venice to the mysterious alleys of Hong Kong, from Shanghai to Manchuria and Mongolia to Siberia, also attracts regular and irregular armies, as well as revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries.

Nominated for both the Eisner and Harvey Awards for Best Foreign Language Publication!

I haven't read this yet -- heck, I'm two collections behind -- but I wanted to give a heads up to those who, like me, want to read this series not only for its quality, but for the influence its had on artists and writers since.

Curious to see how Corto (named, apparently, for the Venetian Courtyard of the Maltese) fares in Slavic, frigid, land-locked Siberia, so different from his usual milieux.

COSMIC SCOUNDRELS #1 (OF 5)

Publisher: IDW PUBLISHING

Writers: ANDY SURIANO & MATT CHAPMAN

Art/Cover: ANDY SURIANO

Subscription Variant: ANDREW MACLEAN

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Space-faring bachelor scalawags Love Savage and Roshambo -- along with a little mothering from their ship's AI, Mrs. Billingsley -- shuttle from job to job and continually find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Despite their best efforts to look out only for themselves, they usually end up involved with alien crooks, shady black market baby schemes, and space sickness-inducing drugs. They're on the loose and on the run -- from everyone!

• Andy Suriano is an Emmy and Annie Award-winning artist who has worked on such iconic series as Samurai Jack and Star Wars: The Clone Wars!

• Matt Chapman is a writer of Disney's Gravity Falls and the co-creator of Disney XD's Two More Eggs and Homestar Runner!

• The witty, hysterical, and utterly zany web comic is finally in print!

• Our story kicks off with a spectacular space heist by Savage and Roshambo!

FIRST ISSUE ALERT

Alas, I had no time to read this one. Looks like it might have an adult cartoon sensibility, if that's your bag.

DAVE STEVENS' ROCKETEER ARTISAN EDITION (TPB, DIRECT MARKET EXCLUSIVE)

Publisher: IDW PUBLISHING

Writer/Art/Cover: DAVE STEVENS

TPB • BW • $39.99 • 140 pages • 8” x 12”

Celebrate the 35th anniversary of Dave Stevens’ classic character with the DIRECT MARKET EXCLUSIVE Edition!

Collecting the entire Rocketeer saga by Dave Stevens, featuring his iconic, pulp-inspired hero. The Rocketeer is the story of down-on-his luck aviator Cliff Secord after he finds an experimental jetpack. Pursued by Nazi agents intent on capturing the pack, while balancing his relationship with his stunning girlfriend Betty, Cliff is up to his ears in in intrigue and derring do.

An Artisan edition is done to the same exacting quality standards as IDW’s award-winning Artist’s Edition series, just at a smaller (and more manageable!) size. Each page of art has been scanned from Dave Stevens’ gorgeous original art.

Available ONLY in the Direct Market!

Dunno why this wasn't done at the full-size Artist's Edition size, but I'll take what we can get. Stevens was a truly gifted artist of the Adam Hughes and Frank Cho variety -- so good that everything he drew looked beautiful and vaguely sexy, with his women a quantum level up from the average "good girl" artist. His early death deprived the world of tons of great work he'll never do.

DOLLFACE: ST. PATRICK'S DAY SPECIAL 2017

Publisher: ACTION LAB

Writers: DAN MENDOZA & BRYAN SEATON

Art: DAN MENDOZA

Cover A – Dan Mendoza (unlimited)

Cover B – Tattered & Torn variant cover (limited to 2000): DAN MENDOZA

Cover C – Pin-up variant cover (limited to 1500): MARCELO TROM

Cover D – Pin-up Tattered & Torn variant cover (limited to 2000): MARCELO TROM

Cover E – Pin-up variant cover  (limited to 1500): BILL MCKAY

Cover F – Pin-up variant cover (limited to 1500): BILL MCKAY

32 pgs. • M • FC • $3.99 (reg.), $4.99 (var.)

 Lila's first St. Patrick's Day celebration at a local pub is quickly interrupted by a disgruntled leprechaun out for revenge.

FIRST ISSUE ALERT

Judging from the naughty cover variants, Dollface is supposed to be sexy in the Zombie Tramp and Vampblade mold. But maybe the creators understand that a lot of readers, like this one, don't find anything remotely sexy about jointed manikens, and find the suggestion too creepy to contemplate. (See: "Uncanny Valley")

Because the actual story is pretty straightforward action/adventure, with almost zero reliance on sex appeal or jokes. Dollface and friends (one a human girl, the other some sort of small ghost) battle a leprechaun, complete with multiple Lucky Charms references. I found it pretty entertaining, despite not really liking Dollface #1 very much (which relied  on the creepy sex-doll angle to sell it more than I cared for).

I might have to pay more attention to Dollface.

EXTREMITY #1

Publisher: IMAGE COMICS

Story/Art/Cover: DANIEL WARREN JOHNSON

32 pages • Full Color • T+ • $3.99

Thea dreams. Not of a better life, but of revenge on the clan that ruined her family. With ferocious battles between man, machines and monsters ahead … who knows where her quest for vengeance will take her? Creator DANIEL WARREN JOHNSON (Space Mullet) and colorist MIKE SPICER present a bold new vision, where the beauty and imagination of Studio Ghibli meet the intensity of Mad Max, in this all-new Skybound Original.

FIRST ISSUE ALERT

I found Space Mullet odd (and not entirely in the way I like), but I am down with this book.

We have the now-standard plotline where the anointed male heir proves not up to the task of following in his father's footsteps, but the daughter is. At this point, I think we all just assume that every comic book will have a female lead, don't we? So let's just take that as a given, and hope Johnson doesn't waste too many panels on that shop-worn subplot.

Because the main story can carry this book, and extra characterization for secondary characters like the failed prince will just be a distraction. The protagonist, the aforementioned daughter of some sort of chieftan involved in some sort of post-collapse, high-tech, semi-fantasy war, begins life as an artist until she loses the ability to draw. I won't spoil how, but it's horrific, and becomes a savage theme throughout this first issue (with promises to echo into the future). This war is personal for her, and therefore for us, in a world (or worlds) that are a hodge-podge of ingenious elements from a variety of genres that seem to fit together effortlessly.

I'm sure it isn't effortless, which is why I feel hopeful that a lot of thought and care have gone into this book, and it will remain entertaining for many issues to come. Played right, Extremity could become its own genre.

GREEN LANTERNS #18

Publisher: DC COMICS

Written by SAM HUMPHRIES

Art and cover by ROBSON ROCHA and JAY LEISTIN

Variant cover by EMANUELA LUPACCHINO

32 pg • FC • $2.99 U.S. • RATED T

This issue will ship with two covers.

“The Last Testament of the First Lantern”! Before the Green Lantern Corps, the Guardians of the Universe embedded a power battery inside a man, imbuing him with unimaginable power. Eventually fearing him, they stole that power back for their own control, but now Volthoom, the First Lantern, has returned with a plan to force Jessica and Simon to help him regain his lost godhood.

I thought it clever when "Volthoom" was resurrected a few years back, a word which began life as a throwaway (but memorable) plot point in "Crisis on Earth-Three!" back in the Silver Age. Now Volthoom is an actual character, with enough of a backstory that this issue, the beginning of a new storyline, thinks we're familiar enough with to be interested in. I'm not, really, but I do enjoy Simon and Jessica enough -- and Green Lantern Corps "history" enough -- to want to keep up with the constant retcons.

JAMES BOND #1

Publisher: DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT

Writer: BENJAMIN PERCY

Art: RAPHA LOBOSCO

Cover A: JOHN CASSADAY

Cover B: DOMINIC REARDON

Cover C: JASON MASTERS

Cover D: GONI MONTES

Cover E: MORITAT

Iincentive covers: RAPHA LOBOSCO (artboard), JASON MASTERS (B/W art), DOMINIC REARDON (“virgin art”), JOHN CASSADAY (B/W art), JOHN CASSADAY (“virgin art”)

32 Pages • Teen + • $3.99

Black Box Part One - Whiteout

The next epic adventure for 007 kicks off in the snowbound French Alps, where Bond finds himself in the crosshairs of an assassin who targets other assassins. This is the first puzzle piece in a larger adrenaline-fueled mystery that will send Bond across the globe to investigate a digital breach that threatens global security.

FIRST ISSUE ALERT

I dunno why they're starting James Bond over with a new number one when the last iteration of the title would begin new adventures without starting the book over. Maybe it's because the book no longer has Warren Ellis, which does, in fact, make it a different book.

But not that much different. "Black Box" lacks the snap and sparkle of Ellis' clever dialogue and imaginative plots, but it still follows the formula set up by Ellis, one in which I find myself liking Bond more than I usually do in the movies. He's a bit more human, almost warm in some scenes, which makes his transformation into remorseless killing machine in other scenes all the more dramatic and shocking.

I hope to be reading about this Bond for some time to come.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #16

Publisher: DC COMICS

Written by BRYAN HITCH

Art and cover by FERNANDO PASARIN and MATT RYAN

Variant cover by YANICK PAQUETTE

32 pg • FC • $2.99 U.S. • RATED T

This issue will ship with two covers.

“TIMELESS” part two! Scattered across time, the individual members of the Justice League must fight their way back to the present from the ancient past and distant future to stop the Timeless from erasing the Earth’s greatest heroes from history itself.

This is sort of like a much better version of the Bronze Age Justice League story where they and the Justice Society search through time for the Seven Soldiers of Victory. Most of the League is scattered through time (the whos and hows and whys aren't obvious yet, especially to the reader), and Hitch has picked some emotionally difficult times to place our intrepid heroes. Meanwhile, Superman and Batman are being told by mysterious teenagers from the future (but not the Legion, at least not so far as we can tell) of an enormous threat they need to stop. Well, "told" is a bit strong, as they are being pretty tight-lipped about the details.

Anyway, it's all high stakes, high adventure and stupefying complication, the way I like my Justice League stories!

THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN #1 (OF 5)

Publisher: DARK HORSE

Writers: ADAM P. KNAVE, D.J. KIRKBRIDE

Art/Colors/Cover: NICK BROKENSHIRE

FC • 32 pages • $3.99 • Miniseries

It’s out with the old myths and in with the new as a nineteen-year-old chess prodigy pulls Excalibur from the stone and becomes queen. Now, magic, romance, Fae, Merlin and more await her! Lend her your axe as the creators of Amelia Cole start a new age of adventure!

• The legend of King Arthur is reimagined for today, featuring a team of characters with East Asian, African, and British heritage and diverse sexual orientations.

• From the team who created Amelia Cole, which ran for six arcs at Monkeybrain and IDW.

FIRST ISSUE ALERT

I seem to remember a series a while back which posited Guinevere as the wielder of Excalibur, possibly after the fall of Camelot. Lady Pendragon? Something like that. But even if that predecessor didn't exist, is there any doubt that in today's market a woman would be the star of a King Arthur story? It'll be different, at least.

(I didn't have time to read this one. But it's a first issue, so heads up.)

RAT QUEENS #1

Publisher: IMAGE COMICS

Story: KURTIS J WIEBE

Art/Cover: OWEN GIENI

32 pages • Full Color • M • $3.99

“CAT KINGS AND OTHER GARYS,” Part One.

The Rat Queens are back! Betty, Violet, Dee, Braga and Hannah return! Palisade is still a rat-infested troll’s ass, and everyone still hates Gary. It’s been a while since the Queens have done a good slaughter, so join them as they get back to the basics of killing monsters and drinking away the profits!

A fresh, soft reboot to the head for the Rat Queens with artist OWEN GIENI!

FIRST ISSUE ALERT

This is another first issue for Rat Queens, but like with James Bond #1 above, I think it's appropriate. If you haven't followed the IRL saga of this star-crossed title, consider yourself lucky. In the meantime, Rat Queens is jettisoning the personal baggage piled up by the previous creators and starting afresh.

And I still like it. The art isn't as good as before, but it's serviceable, and the snappy dialogue between females who are genuine characters is just as good as ever. Bonus points that this series is essentially a D&D scenario brought to life, which is not only welcome and familiar, but allows our girls a lot more freedom than other times and places would. And, boy, do they take advantage of that freedom.

Rat Queens: The girls you do NOT want to take home to mother.

RIVERDALE (ONE-SHOT)

Publisher: ARCHIE COMICS

Script: ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA

Art: ALITHA MARTINEZ

Cover: ALITHA MARTINEZ with STEVE DOWNER

Variant Covers: DEREK CHARM, ADAM GORHAM, ROBERT HACK WITH KELLY FITZPATRICK, SANDRA LANZ, MORITAT, DAN PARENT, THOMAS PITILLI, MATTHEW DOW SMITH, CORY SMITH

Blank Sketch Cover Also Available

48-page • full color comic • $4.99 U.S.

A MUST-HAVE ONE-SHOT — THE PERFECT PRIMER FOR THE CW’s RIVERDALE SERIES!

Learn the secrets and hidden tales from the summer before the eternal love-triangle begins in this special issue, which features four short stories focusing on the major players and events in the Riverdale series. You dare not miss this special commemorative issue in advance of the upcoming ongoingRiverdale series, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Afterlife with Archie, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) and the writers of the CW’s Riverdale series, with stunning art by Alitha Martinez (Black Panther)!

FIRST ISSUE ALERT

This one-shot contains four stories featuring four of the main cast of Riverdale, illuminating what they were doing the summer before the series began.

The art is pedestrian, but the stories are in lockstep with the TV show. That's to be expected, given that they are written by the same guy who is the co-creator of Riverdale, and sole writer of the first two episodes.

So we see why Jughead is mad at Archie (only alluded to on the series), what Veronica's life was like before her father was arrested, Betty at her L.A. internship and how Archie's affair with Grundy got started.

You don't need this information to enjoy the show, but it's a nice addendum.

ROYAL CITY #1

Publisher: IMAGE COMICS

Story/Art/Cover: JEFF LEMIRE

March 22 • 56 pages • Full Color • M • $4.99

NEW ONGOING SERIES written and illustrated by JEFF LEMIRE (DESCENDER, A.D., Sweet Tooth). ROYAL CITY charts the lives, loves, and losses of a troubled family and a vanishing town across three decades. Patrick Pike, a fading literary star who reluctantly returns to the once-thriving factory town where he grew up, is quickly drawn back into the dramas of his two adult siblings, his overbearing mother and his brow-beaten father, all of whom are still haunted by different versions of his youngest brother, Tommy, who drowned decades ago. ROYAL CITY is a return to the literary and thematic territory of LEMIRE’s breakthrough graphic novel Essex County and is his most ambitious, and most personal, project to date.

FIRST ISSUE ALERT

As regular readers know, I'm not a fan of Jeff Lemire's art, but I do like his stories. So I have hopes for this one, even though I didn't have time to read it this week.

SAVAGE THINGS #1

Publisher: DC COMICS

Written by JUSTIN JORDAN

Art by IBRAHIM MOUSTAFA

Cover by JOHN PAUL LEON

32 pg • 1 of 8 • FC • $3.99 U.S. • MATURE READERS

Twenty-five years ago, a secret government organization kidnapped children and trained them to be chaos agents who went on to foment unrest and execute enemies of the state around the world. When these cold and unfeeling creations proved too difficult to control, the powers that be exterminated their kill squad with extreme prejudice.

Too bad it didn’t work.

Now a rogue band of the worst monsters the world has ever known is cutting a swath of terror across the United States, threatening not just a disruption of the peace but to expose secrets their handlers never wanted to come to light. The only way to stop them is to call back the only man who ever walked away from them. His code name is Abel, and he’s not afraid of getting his hands bloody.

This new eight-issue miniseries from writer Justin Jordan (The Legacy of Luther Strode) and artist Ibrahim Moustafa (High Crimes) features the action of the Jason Bourne movies with the gruesome horror of classic grindhouse!

This is a great idea.

What does the U.S. population seem to have more of than any other country? No, not fat people, although that's a good guess. If you're not a fan of our current president, you might also reply "stupid people." But that's not the right answer, either.

No, it's serial killers! Remorseless, conniving, often charming sociopaths. We've got tons of 'em! So why not make use of this great natural resource?

In this issue, some shadowy organization (as if there is any other kind) recruits young serial killers-to-be and puts them to work for, presumably, Uncle Sam. You know, a little training can turn a mediocre homicidal psychopath into a GREAT homicidal psychopath. You get out of it what you put into it, you know?

Beats the hell out of strapping bombs to dolphins. Now that's a dumb idea.

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING PRELUDE #1 (OF 2)

Publisher: MARVEL COMICS

Writer: WILL CORONA PILGRIM

Art: TODD NAUCK

32 PGS. • Rated T • $3.99

YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN SWINGS INTO THE MCU!

• PETER PARKER is just your average, nerdy, tech-loving teenager…until an unexpected turn of events lands him with the power to cling to walls and the proportionate strength of a spider! 

• SPIDER-MAN’s foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe begins here, with part one of an adaptation of the blockbuster Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, which sees a rift between CAPTAIN AMERICA and IRON MAN rend a schism between the Avengers…with Spider-Man in the middle of it all!

FIRST ISSUE ALERT

Heads up for another Marvel first issue which, of course, I am not going to review.

STAR TREK: GOLD KEY 100-PAGE SPECTACULAR

Publisher: IDW PUBLISHING

Writers: DICK WOOD, LEN WEIN

Art: NEVIO ZACCARA, ALBERTO GIOLITTI

Cover: MICHAEL STRIBLING

FC • 100 pages • $7.99

IDW presents this special 100-page collection of classic Gold Key Star Trek comics. Created by writers and artists who had not seen the show often (or at all) and worked off of whatever publicity materials they could get their hands on, the Gold Key comics are true 1960s gems. Needless to say, the end results were definitely unusual -- and very un-Trek in some cases (A blonde Scotty! Spock kills! The Enterprise belches fire!). Collecting "The Planet of No Return," "The Youth Trap," and "The Enterprise Mutiny," this special also features a history of the Star Trek Gold Key comics by author Joe Berenato.

Once upon a time, not only had most fans not read the Gold Key Star Trek comics, most fans didn't even know they existed. They were mostly terrible, but I felt a sort of pride in being among the very few who not only knew about them, but owned them all. (Although my sister scribbled on the first issue with a pen. Darn you, sister!)

Now, it seems, everybody knows these comics existed. And most of you, sight unseen, knew they were pretty bad.

And they were! Honest! Just terrible! As the story goes, the first writer and artist, who were Italian, and lived in Italy, and may not have even spoken English (I don't know, but it makes the story better) created Star Trek comics for Gold Key without having ever seen the show or read a script. They based their entire concept on a few stills sent over by Desilu or NBC or somebody.

So you'd see things like Spock being the MOST emotional member of the crew, acting as hot-tempered as his Satanic appearance would suggest. You'd see the Enterprise land on planets like a rocket ship, on its butt. And that's because the nacelles were written and drawn as if they were, in fact, rocket tubes. As for the uniforms, they looked all right, but the colors were always wrong. What would you expect from B&W photos? Also, seemingly random characters were called Scotty from issue to issue, like it was a title.

The book got better over time, as the concept became more widely known, and more Americans were hired to produce it. Len Wein was involved for a time, and as you'd expect, he was familiar with the show and wrote more accurate comics.

But still. Those comics were so bad. So bad, in fact, that books like this are necessary to immortalize them. Commence la festival de mal!

SUPERMAN #18

Publisher: DC COMICS

Written by PETER J. TOMASI and PATRICK GLEASON

Art and cover by PATRICK GLEASON and MICK GRAY

Variant cover by GARY FRANK

32 pg • FC • $2.99 U.S. • RATED T

This issue will ship with two covers each.

“SUPERMAN REBORN” part one! In DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1, the enigmatic Mr. Oz told this Superman, “You and your family are not what you believe you are. And neither was the fallen Superman.” Now, in the first Rebirth crossover between SUPERMAN and ACTION COMICS, the shocking truth behind Oz’s words is revealed. It begins with one of Oz’s prisoners escaping, and ends in a tragic moment for Lois and Superman.

* The covers by Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray and the variant covers by Gary Frank for SUPERMAN #18-19 and ACTION COMICS #975-976 will connect to form a single vertical image.

Remember when some writers and editors used to complain that it was too hard to write Superman, because he was too powerful and too nice? We called 'em morons then, and we were right. You can write a Man of Steel so good it makes Superman and Action two of DC's best titles, as today's efforts attest.

I've got some of it figured out, I think. Part of Superman's charm in the Silver Age was that he was the patriarch of a vast "Superman family" that stretched from the Legion's 30th century to the Bottle City of Kandor. Today the writers have taken that concept and made it literal -- Superman is the patriarch of the "Smith" farm family upstate from Metropolis, which includes pre-New 52 Lois Lane, their boy Jonathan and Krypto. (There's even a budding Lana Lang in the neighborhood, but she's the modern slant on such a character, where she's a clever helpmeet instead of a too-curious irritation.) 

That nuclear family is usually the focus of Superman, but this issue begins a crossover with Action that will address the Mr. Oz subplot. This should answer a number of questions spawned both by both Flashpoint and Rebirth, and might possibly give us Ozymandias proper in the DCU.

I am so in.

THINK TANK VOL 5 #1

Publisher: IMAGE COMICS

Story: MATT HAWKINS

Art/Cover: RAHSAN EKEDAL

32 pages • Full Color • T+ • $3.99

Several key NATO figures are assassinated ... by animals? Someone has perverted Dr. David Loren's surface thought-reader and turned it into a device that sends animals on kill missions. Still recovering from his recent suicide attempt, Loren is forced back into the military game to help uncover who is behind this. His fragile relationship with Mirra Sway is tested even further when his father shows up ... with a sister he didn't know he had.

FIRST ISSUE ALERT

I didn't have time to read this first issue, either, not that it matters. I didn't read the first four volumes of Think Tank, so my observations would be probably be worse than nothing at all. But if you did read the first four volumes, heads up on a new series!

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Flintstones #9 - Fred loses his job, and the appliances rescue Bowling Ball.

Fun, and interesting. There's definitely some interesting social and political commentary here. Recommended.

Avengers #5 - The Visions (yes, plural) have a plan to take down Kang once and for all.

I still don't like the art--at least not for comic books--but this is well written. A lot of fun moments as Waid does a nice job writing various Avengers throughout time.

Champions #6 - The team plays paintball, and we meet the Freelancers, who are their evil counterparts.

This was cool. The paintball game was fun, and the Freelancers seem to be a particularly nasty group.

Doctor Strange #18 - Dr. Strange and Thor remove the tumors placed by Mr. Misery.

This is pretty decent. Some fun moments, and apparently Thor has a new power. We'll see if she ever uses it again.

Hawkeye #4 - Kate catches Aggregate and frees Mikka, but all is not what it seems.

Reasonably fun. Kate's pretty cool. We'll see how things progress.

Monsters Unleashed #4 (of 5) - The fight continues, and the Leviathan mother appears.

"I punched out a dragon once." Recommended.

Totally Awesome Hulk #1.mu - Xemnu the Titan attempts to take over South Korea to protect it from the monster attacks.

This was interesting. Most of the Monsters Unleashed tie-ins have had the similar tone of a more-or-less light-hearted slugfest, but this one is a tad more introspective. Also good.

The Unstoppable Wasp #3 - Nadia continues recruiting for her lab.

This is good. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's really fun and light.

ROCKETEER: This was done as a full-size Artist Edition. (In fact, it was the very first one.) What IDW is doing now is going back and releasing some of their AEs in more affordable tpb format.

Ah-ha! Thanks, Jeff!

Oh, man, I saw last week's Bravo for Adventure artist's edition at my LCS, and now I'm trying to figure out how I can justify buying it....

A much more affordable HC collection (inked and colored, not pecil only) of Bravo for Adventure was recently released.

Thanks, Jeff. I might go that route.

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