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Heroes and Villains – Reviewing Recent Comics 6-21-2017

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This time on Heroes and Villains, we’ll be looking at a variety of comics out this week and last, from a variety of genres. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Legion of Super-Heroes/Bugs Bunny #1, Dark Days: The Forge #1, Bill & Ted Save the Universe #1, Black Hammer #10, Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #2, Red Agent: The Human Order #8, Plastic #3, Kong of Skull Island #12, Empowered #10, Spencer & Locke #1-3, and Bug! The Adventures of Forager #1-2 from the Allreds… This is another loaded week, so who needs Secret Empires when we have so many other cool things to check out, be warned, there may be spoilers…

Legion/Bugs Bunny

I find it both ironic and upsetting that the best comic I’ve read this week is from last week. It’s no secret that I am a huge Legion of Super-Heroes fan, and when they return to comics, in any capacity, I’m happy. And that brings us to last week’s weird and wild team-up of the Legion and… Bugs Bunny. Written by Sam Humphries, someone who knows his Legion as well as his Looney Tunes, he crafted this tale that has fun with – not makes fun of – the future’s coolest teen super-heroes, and of course also brings the manic humor of Bugs along for the ride.

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The story actually fits the conventions of both the Legion and Bugs and conceives of a Legion that needs Superboy, but a badly programmed Computo retrieves Bugs Bunny out of time instead. I’m not which version or reboot of the Legion this is, as the costumes are from various, but it doesn’t matter because Humphries tells a great tale, and we even get two different tellings in the issue. I loved the angst, the use of thought bubbles is hilarious, the Timber Wolf joke is great, but I did have one little quibble.

What was up with Sun Boy’s costume? His is a costume so perfect and so iconic that after multiple costume changes over the decades for most of the Legion, his never changed. This one was ugly. I mean I was up in the air about Ultra Boy in gloves, but that’s minor compared to what Sun Boy was wearing. He should burn it off at once. Otherwise, this was a near perfect comic book, loved it!

The Forge

I was prepared not to like this, a prologue to another comics event, one of the things I like least about comics, but Dark Days: The Forge showed promise, engaged me, and made me start to wonder. Agreed, set ups are easy, and bringing it all together and providing a satisfying ending is a whole ‘nother game, but this grabbed me ever so slightly. It does have the dread vibe that “The Button” did as well, that some cosmic force from beyond is manipulating events.

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I don’t care for that stuff, at least not any more. If the Crisis happened today, I’m not sure how thrilled I would be. I want Batman fighting thugs, Superman saving lives and getting kittens out of trees, Green Lantern soaring through space, and Flash and the Justice League fighting super-villains. Cosmic isn’t for me any more. Unless you’re telling good stories. Just tell good stories. The Forge is a decent read, you’ll get no answers, but continue on at your own risk.

Bill and Ted

There’s been talk of a Bill and Ted sequel ever since the second movie came out over a quarter of a century ago. Even today rumors fly about that potential third film that may or may not ever happen, but until then, we have comics. What starts as a chase from that ‘medieval dillhole’ Dracula, turns into a surprise party, and finally into an outer space adventure is a fine re-introduction to the world and fun of Bill and Ted. I dug this a lot, and felt like I was in the 1990s again. Oh, the wonders of time travel. Worth a read.

Black Hammer

What a pleasant surprise! I had seen Black Hammer from Dark Horse Comics on the shelf, but had no idea what it was, horror, maybe? Reading it, I was fascinated by this tale of yes, some horror, but mainly this was about Golden Age heroes returning to the real world after a ten-year hiatus, finding their hometown Spiral City with more or less a Twin Peaks vibe. In this issue, Abraham Slam tries to update his superhero look and starts feeling his age, and the rest of the cast moves around him. Jeff Lemire is, and we knew this already, a genius. I loved this book, and will be hunting down the nine previous issues, recommended.

Destroyer

I raved about this comic when the first issue came out. While the first issue’s cover had praise from Joe Hill, the second proudly does the same with Clive Barker, yeah, it’s that good. The story continues unparalleled, and while there’s a weird black science conspiracy going on in the background, building its own monster, the real compelling stuff is with the titular Frankenstein’s monster. I can’t get enough, and can’t wait for the two storylines, and creatures, to collide. Must read.

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Red Agent

Zenescope does superheroes, that’s the best way to describe Red Agent, but there is so much more here. Sure, there are enhanced individuals (that’s grown up code for superheroes and super-villains) and of course beautiful women (it is Zenescope after all), but there is also a wonderful undercurrent of espionage and pulp. I found myself wishing more than once reading this that I wish Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was more like this. This was a lot of fun, and like Black Hammer above, I’ll be seeking out previous and future issues. Two thumbs up.

Plastic

When it comes to movies, I like my horror old school and simple. I’m more of a Cat People and Babadook guy than Saw or the usual suspects in the slasher and gore genre. So I was surprised when I was so enthralled with Image’s Plastic. It’s blood and gore and human monsters, but it was also presented with heart and realism. Not for everyone obviously, it’s pretty intense, but this one is a must read.

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Kong

I have a special place in my heart for this comic series as it’s a continuation of the great work Joe DeVito did with his Kong: King of Skull Island. Joe has also been a guest and friend of The GAR! Podcast, appearing here and here. The comic continues to explore the origins and legends of the Kongs, the Gaw, and of Skull Island itself. There is a rich history here rivaling those created in other pulp worlds, and this comic is highly recommended. Issue #12 is the final issue, but word is that Boom! Studios will be collecting the series in a two-volume trade.

Empowered

While the cover is bright and vivid and full of color, it should be noted that Adam Warren’s Empowered is a black and white comic. This anime-style comic is perhaps one of the best examples out of combining superheroes with cheesecake. While I am a Frank Cho fan to an extent, I have to admit that this is just not in my wheelhouse. I get the tongue-in-cheek parody here, but it just isn’t appealing to me. While some folks might enjoy this enormous tome (well over 200 pages), it’s a pass for me.

Spencer & Locke

Did you ever wonder what Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes would be like as an adult? Crime drama Spencer & Locke from Action Lab speculates on that matter, without the pesky legal restraints. Stanley Locke is a homicide detective, and his imaginary friend Spencer is still his best friend. Filled with Calvin-like flashbacks and a decidedly adult vibe in the present day, the duo solve crimes and have fun, but mostly the former. One might think the premise would wear thin after a while, but it doesn’t. As in the comic strip, Spencer is by far the most interesting character, and this comic is mostly told from his point of view for a cool touch.

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The third issue features a drug trip and an adventure in space a la Spaceman Spiff, I mean Rocketman Reynolds, paralleling real time events. This issue proves that there are lot of paths this story can take, some fun, some horrific, all intriguing and exciting. I liked this a lot. This is more a violent film noir Harvey than Calvin and Hobbes, this is a compelling read and worth a look.

Bug

Here at Biff Bam Pop! we’re celebrating 100 years of Jack Kirby this summer (don’t forget to check out Jason Shayer‘s look at Kirby’s 1970s Captain America from earlier today!), and this DC comic by Lee Allred, Mike Allred, and Laura Allred is a celebration of Kirby all by itself. Almost every page of this new comic is a tribute to Kirby and comics in general.

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As intimated by the title, Bug! follows the adventures of Forager, a minor Jack Kirby creation from his Fourth World saga, but in this six-issue series, he is on a different kind of adventure. He has been resurrected, and in trying to find out what has happened to him, he keeps running into other Kirby creations or heroes. In the first issue Forager encounters Kirby’s 1970s version of the Sandman, who was later co-opted by both Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and Roy Thomas’ Infinity Inc. Very meta, and very cool, the Allreds rock.

In the second issue, our hero is mistaken for the Red Bee as he encounters the Golden Age Sandman, Sandy the Golden Boy, the original Blue Beetle, and the Losers during World War II. I absolutely loved this book, and can’t recommend it enough to new and old fans of Kirby and comics. Go get it! Also, check out fellow BiffBamPopper JP Fallavollita‘s look at the Forager character from his weekly column, The Wednesday Run.

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About Glenn Walker

Glenn Walker is a professional writer, and editor-in-chief and contributing writer at Biff Bam Pop!. A blogger, podcaster, and reviewer of pop culture in all its forms, he's done stints in radio, journalism and video retail. Ask him anything about movies, television, music, or especially comics or French fries, and you’ll be hard pressed to stump him or shut him up.

Posted on June 21, 2017, in comics, Glenn Walker, heroes and villains, reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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