Monday, November 23, 2015

POBB November 18, 2015

Pick of the Brown Bag
November 18, 2015
Ray Tate

It’s a small week for the Pick of the Brown Bag: Futurama Comics, Reyn, Thor, Vampirella 1969 make for a mere menu.  First, though I have a few words to say about the bidder for most controversial comic book: Spider-Woman.

Spider-Woman is okay.  It wasn't as good as the previous issues, and the whole baby thing didn't really pique my interest.  Porcupine becomes a full-fledged hero.  Ben Urich is written out and as to the father...

The event as you may have gathered occurs at a giant party.  Noticeably absent from the party...Tigra, whom Jess actually knows.

I'm sure Jess invited her, but she was busy and sent her regrets.

Vampirella 1969 is an anthology that returns the first altruistic vampire in literature back to her swinging 60s roots.  Created by Forest J. Ackerman, Vampirella began her life as an alien.  Never undead, Vampirella possessed powers unlike her earth cousins.  She flew via shapeshifting wings.  She liked the sun.  Her skin felt warm to the touch, and in general, she could partake in any pleasure another woman might. 

Departing Vampirella writer Nancy Collins imagines Vampirella’s second day on earth.  Something the writers of Warren Magazine never covered.  Once Ackerman and artist Tom Sutton banged out her origin, Vampirella next appeared unexplained at a castle where she encountered archenemy Ethan Shroud.  Collins fills in some blanks.  She covers how Vee learns the basics of humanity, and how she becomes defender of her adopted species.

The story banks on sixties staples such as true life monster Charles Manson and his whack-job “family.”  Collins employs Vampirella in the same way she framed her own creation Sonja Blue.  To take out abominable trash: human and otherwise.  Artist Fritz Casas provides abundant action and suitable gore in this loosely based on reality story.

Former Vampirella writer Eric Trautmann relates “Mercy’s Lullaby.”  This is my least favorite short story in the book.  That’s because Vampirella doesn’t serve as the protagonist.  She’s an observer of supernatural events, and there’s very little indication that this story had to take place in the sixties.  Still the artwork by Brett Weldele is beautifully evocative, and the tale does deal with a Vampirella’s nemesis.

Phil Hester’s “Magic” exploits Vampirella’s strengths and weakness.  Vampirella does drink blood, but she generally forswore human red, and in the sixties she combatted Chaos forces while being the assistant to magician comrade Pendragon.

In a Dynamite volume, Pendragon turned against Vampirella.  As a result, it’s a little off-putting to see him in Vampirella 1969 fighting on her behalf against a rival magician with a particularly nasty trick played on the dark maiden.  Jethro Morales’ artwork is an admirable addition.

“Beelzebums” starts out sixties cool with Vampirella facing down biker gangs while spouting groovy dialogue…

…but artist Colton Whorley loses me in the LSD trip that goes red.  I’m guessing that’s symbolic of what Vee does to these scumbags.  I ended up confused.

The best story teams up Shaft regenerator David Walker and current Vampirella artist Aneke.  “Werewolves of Dixie” introduces bad ass Mama Legbo to the Vampirella mythos.  I certainly hope this isn’t the last we see of the Voodoo priestess who practices her art to fight the monsters.

As you can see, she makes a perfect partner for Vee without undermining the focus on the star.  The story is pure grindhouse action and grand dame comic book artwork.  Superb.

Thor returns unscathed from Battleworld shenanigans.  By now you should know who Thor is, but I’m going to play this review like the others and keep secret Thor’s identity.  The clock however is ticking. 

Odin despises Thor.  To Odin, the female Thor is a usurper, despite Odinson being okay with the transition.  As a result, Odin set his brother, the God of Fear, the task of capturing and depowering Thor.

The other heroes, gods and some villains fairly welcome the change in thunder.

This issue of Thor begins a new challenge for the Goddess.  Somebody just declared war on Nine Realms, and they’ve signed their work in blood.

The architect of this scheme seems like a no brainer, but as the story progresses, the waters muddy.  Yes, the no-brainer is present and accounted for, but his allies offer surprises.

Reyn was in dire straits at the end of the previous issue where he saved Seph and put an end to the Venn scourge.  This issue, Seph takes on a quest to save her erstwhile partner, and that’s really all I can say about the latest issue except to grant a massive compliment to artist Nate Stockman.  Buy this.  For everybody else.



It turns out that Reyn is an android.  I’ll not speak of his provence.  Some things should be discovered by the reader.

In order to repair Reyn’s body and mind, Seph must go on a quest and find Aurora, in the beginning a Dawn Goddess, in the end, a smoothly fitting addition to the revelations in past issues.

Once Seph discovers Aurora, the ghostly mistress divulges her creation and Reyn’s secrets.  In the end Seph must make a choice, and writer Kel Symons demonstrates that he’s not just about monster blood and guts but also knows how to subtly cap off straight poignant drama.  

After ten issues, Reyn hasn’t disappointed me yet, and I cannot wait until the next volume.

In Futurama Comics, writer Ian Boothby and artist James Lloyd send up “Yesterday was Monday,” by Theodore Sturgeon.  The 1980s Twilight Zone later adapted the story in which time doesn’t actually exist.  Between bumps in reality, eerie blue creatures change things.  In other words, the reason why the clock moves isn’t because of time, but because these men, loosely speaking, physically move the hands.  You just can’t see them because they work between the ticks. 

In Boothby’s story, Philip J. Fry, probably due to his special brain, witnesses New New York change.  From dangerous metropolis in drastic need of Superman to family friendly sanitized city.

Nobody seems to notice what’s going on after dark.  So, Fry stays awake until he confirms the existence of the strange men that alter his home, as well as his friends’ memories.

Things go from bad to worse when the weird being turns his power on Bender.  The smart ass cynical robot morphs into something that would give Hello Kitty aficionados diabetes.

This spoof bears so many assets.  In a remarkably sweet moment, Leela joins team Fry.

Just like the television series, the three stalwarts confront the eerie happenings.  Between the main gags, little jokes pop up.

Perfect characterization abounds.  The means in which Fry defeats his enemies delivers brilliant poetic justice.  In terms of pure illustration, Lloyd, inker Andrew Pepoy and colorist Art Villanueva present an array of appealing eye-candy.

Futurama Comics will appeal to a broad audience: science fiction readers, Futurama fans, comedy seekers and appreciators of pop art just to name a few.

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