My kindergartener has gotten to the point that he’s begun crawling onto my lap at nights and making requests for comics to read. He also likes turning the pages on my tablet. It makes a geek dad’s heart proud.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/ Ghostbusters 2 #1 (IDW Publishing)

Despite being two of my favorite childhood properties (and the repeated crossovers I enacted with my GB and TMNT action figures), I missed the first crossover miniseries. I decided to rectify that this time around. I DO NOT regret it one bit.

After the Ghostbusters take out some specters and provide some background about a spike in ghostly activity, and one of the Turtles’ deceased enemies formulates a plan, the story really kicks in when Donatello suddenly appears in the Firehouse. Donnie quickly asks for help before getting kidnapped by a quartet of ghosts called the Collectors. The Ghostbusters begin working on a plan to find and rescue them, while the Turtles confront their enemy. Shortly after, the Ghostbusters arrive and spirit the Turtles away to distract their adversaries, giving Donatello and Egon enough time to find a solution.

On of the best things about this story, from writers Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz, artist Dan Schoening and color artist Luis Antonio Delgado, is that is definitively feels like it counts. Both writers are the lead writer on the main GB and TMNT series, and so the continuity from the most recent batch of adventures continues. They also quickly establish the relationships between the two groups, without recapping the previous mini series. Honestly, this issue is a lot of exposition, but Burnham and Waltz make it interesting and fun. This is in large part to the great grasp they have on their characters too.

Schoening’s work on the Ghostbusters franchise at this point is as iconic as the original films, or the Real Ghostbusters animated series. He does a wonderful job with likenesses of the Ghostbusters, and his Turtles look great too. The only complaint I can think of is that he draws the Turtles’ shells as quite large, and that’s a minor quibble at worst.

Overall, if you’re a fan of these properties this is one to pick up, even if you didn’t read the previous mini.

Rating: 8 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy

 

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Kingsman: The Red Diamond #3 (Image Comics)

It would have been easy to see Rob Williams and Simon Fraser’s sequel series to Kingsman: The Secret Service as a cheap attempt to have a Kingsman book on the stands prior to the release of the film sequel. Williams and Fraser took the challenge however, and have crafted a fun spy story that elevates the concept quite a bit.

We jump in this issue a few hours after series archvillain The Red Diamond has released a virus that has crippled the world’s computers. Eggsy is thrust into the mix trying to find the Diamond and rescue the men who engineered the virus, and who could undo it. This ends with Eggsy undercover in a Chinese mine, just as it begins to explode…

Williams tells a brisk spy story, and peppers it with Eggsy’s character growth. He also goes a long way to blending the comic and movie versions of the Kingsmen, which anyone who’s a fan of both the film and comic would know are very different. The Red Diamond is an interesting villain, if a bit undefined. The story at least acknowledges that they don’t quite understand Red Diamond, but he could use more character work than just “crazy power grab.”

Fraser’s work recalls original series artist Dave Gibbons, but forges its own path. It’s energetic, and engaging. He has a great eye for action, and depicts the quiet moments very well.

This is a fun story for any spy-fi fan, but especially for fans of the first miniseries or movie.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy for a spy fan in your circles.

 

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Action Comics #991 (DC Comics)

I have to admire Dan Jurgens for his work on Action for the last 18 months. He’s done a good job of keeping his work fresh despite having worked on Superman for the majority of his career. For that reason, I have to admire what he attempted to do with The Oz Effect, even if some of the elements of the story ultimately fell short.

In the conclusion of the story, Superman physically faces off with his father (who Clark still doubts is truly Jor-El) while they philosophically debate as well. Ultimately, Clark breaks his staff, which is revealed to be at least partially the source of his powers. Jor-El collapses into Clark’s arms, before being whisked away by a familiar blue energy.

As I said Jurgens has attempted something fresh with this arc. In many ways, he’s succeeded. He’s propped Superman up as a champion for the weak, and a true symbol of hope, no matter how awful humanity is. It’s an inspiring affirmation of the character’s mission statement. However, the reveal of Jor-El (maybe? probably?) as Mr. Oz fell a little flat. He didn’t completely check all the boxes of the hints dropped, and his hatred of humanity didn’t quite land.

Victor Bogdanovic’s art (with inks by Trevor Scott and Scott Hanna, as well as layouts by Jurgens) is a true star here, and ultimately the saving grace of the story arc. With a cartoony line that evokes DC superstar Greg Capullo, Bogdanovic draws Clark as a resolute sentinel, and a determined hero. Lois and Jon look great as well. The only places the art falls short is in a few moments where Clark is a bit too slender, and Oz is not always as menacing as a villain truly should be.

It’s a mixed bag of a storyline, but in the end it’s solid, even if it wasn’t the big shocker that it was seemingly intended to be. It’s great for longtime fans of DC’s Kryptonian books, but not a good point to hook new readers.

Rating: 7 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy if a Superman fan.

 

Harrow County #27 (Dark Horse Comics)

Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s southern gothic horror story remains one of the best horror comics on the stands. This new issue does nothing but prove it.

While Emmy buries her father, Bernice battles her friend’s returned twin Kammi. Bernice proves that she’s become a skilled conjurer and witch hunter on her own, despite tragic losses throughout the battle. Emmy finds herself face to face with Hester Beck as well, until she comes to Bernice’s rescue.

Bunn is a skilled superhero writer, and he’s a skilled horror writer. He takes both of those qualities and combines them in their story in a really unique way. A lesser writer would have just had Bernice and Kammi flinging energy at each other. Bernice uses some very unique magical tricks, such as binding Kammi with an onion, and using an iron nail to hold her in place. It’s completely unlike any fight I’ve ever seen in comics, and through it all character beats Bunn has long played with continues to carry through.

Crook continues to create one of the most beautiful stories in comics. His pencils are able able to sell the horror and emotion. His watercolors over the line are just spectacular. They convey mood, emotion and horror all at once.

In the end, one of the best comics on the stands.

Rating: 9 out of 10

The Verdict: Subscribe

 

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Moon Knight #188 (Marvel Comics)

Musician Max Bemis has hung on the fringes of comics for a few years, writing well-received stories that ultimately don’t get a lot of attention. Artist Jacen Burrows has been one of the top pencillers at small press publisher Avatar for years, telling acclaimed horror stories, particularly with comics legend Alan Moore. Put them together with one of Marvel’s strangest heroes, and we have a book that should make them both superstars in the comics world.

Dr. Emmett is attempting to treat a John Doe in the same hospital where she once treated Mark Spector, the Moon Knight. John Doe has murdered people in the most horrific way- burning them alive- and is clearly insane. She hopes to channel his insanity. Becoming inspired by Spector, she directs John Doe to Amon-Ra, hoping to turn his worship of an ancient deity into a semblance of sanity. In a horrific turn of events, he goes even more insane, and reveals how he started those fires- he’s a powerful pyrokinetic. And now he’s coming for Spector.

Bemis builds layer upon layer with Dr. Emmett, who’s a woman obsessed. She references Spector constantly in her notes, and drawing inspiration from his case is ultimately her downfall. He pulls the same trick that Warren Ellis did with his final Moon Knight issue a few years ago- creating a powerful new foe for Moon Knight with Moon Knight himself barely appearing in the story itself. John Doe seems at first to be an average crazy guy until the last couple pages, when he becomes a wrath-filled god-like monster. It’s a brilliant deconstruction of the old “new archvillain” comic trope too many writers use.

Burrows’ art with Mat Lopes on the color art is spectacular. Burrows makes simple psychological sessions and a walk through a museum incredibly tense. He also makes his character incredibly human and complex. Lopes makes a smart choice to keep the color palate muted until the horrifying final pages when John Doe essentially becomes Amon-Ra. The most vibrant moment prior to that was when Dr. Emmett sees the statue of Ra, brilliantly done by both artists.

If you’ve never read Moon Knight, jump into this story. It’s the best possible start to the new run of his adventures.

Rating: 9 out of 10

The Verdict: Subscribe

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