Monday, December 31, 2018


As I do every year at this time (at least for the past couple years, anyway), I'm taking a week off from "real" posting. This annual "Year in Review" post and one announcement on Friday will be all you'll see from me this week. Then, next Monday, we'll resume Superman and Wonder Woman for the rest of January, and Fridays will be dedicated to something new.

So where are we right now? I've spent the entire year's worth of Mondays in DC-land, looking at the post-CRISIS adventures of John Byrne's Superman and George Pérez's Wonder Woman -- and, as noted above, that stuff will continue for one more month before reaching its conclusion. Fridays, meanwhile, were a mixed bag as usual. We started things off with Kenichi Sonoda's GUNSMITH CATS manga, then looked at X-MEN '92 from Marvel. This was followed by a mixed bag of material from Dark Horse, IDW, and Image, then a look at the KELLY GREEN graphic novels from the eighties by newspapet strip greats Leonard Starr and Stan Drake.

Then it was summertime -- and in 2018, that became the season of my greatest failure since starting this blog. I had planned on nine weeks of James Bond newspaper strips from Britain, but wound up getting through only about half that run before I was forced, for the first time ever, to cancel a review series mid-run. The reasons are provided if you follow that link, and I do still intend to get back to the Bond strips eventually, though at present your guess as to when is as good as mine.

But I did manage to stay on track afterward, through the fall, with a few months dedicated to MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE mini-comics and comic strips. After that it was the European comic GYPSY, by Enrico Marini and Thierry Smolderen, both delivered on-schedule and under budget (which, considering the budget was $0, is rather impressive).

And that brings us to today. I'll admit I'm nowhere near as far ahead as I usually like to be at this time of year. In general, if at all possible, my preference has long been to be three months ahead of schedule at minimum. And there were times in the past when I was even further ahead than that! But that hasn't been the case for a couple years now, and I find myself working with much tighter deadlines than ever before. Still, I've got no intention of stopping, though going forward I make no promises that I might not miss a deadline here or there -- but hopefully I'll never again need to cancel a review series midway through!

So, what's to come in 2019? Last year at this time I made some suggestions that never materialized, such as a look at some UDON comics and the return of my semi-monthly X-Men collected edition posts, but those never happened. I do still want to get the X-Men back in circulation though, especially since Marvel has been showing the mutants a lot of love in recent months as far as reprints go. Beyond that, The Unboxing will continue as always on Sundays.

After we finish up with Superman and Wonder Woman at the end of January, I'll announce the next series of Monday posts, which may come as a surprise. Fridays will start the year with manga, and it's not a secret that last year I stated my intention to look at the GUNSMITH CATS sequel series, GUNSMITH CATS: BURST -- so look forward to that in January and part of February. Once BURST finishes, I've got some more European comics lined up, followed by a smattering of miniseries from Marvel, and then we'll see what comes next!

Oh, and I may give the blog header one more makeover early in the year, but since I just updated it last January, I don't want to get carried away. It'll probably just be some minor font-tweaks (and maybe a new head or two).

Finally, I need to thank everyone who drops by here to read my posts, comment (or not), and provide support. It's nice to know there are people who share some of my interests and who like reading my ramblings a couple times a week!

Friday, December 28, 2018


What's this? A Friday Unboxing?! Yes, due to the holidays, I didn't have time to photograph any new books earlier in the month, but I still wanted to get this post up in December -- so here we are. Plus, it allows me a Friday off to gear up for the beginning of the year! (And technically it'll be two Fridays off, as next week will simply be an announcement of the review series to lead off 2019.)


It's the most X-Men time of the year (partly because one of the below books shipped to me a month late). Of the four Marvel volumes below, three spotlight the House of Ideas' mightiest mutants. But first, from the "Non-Mutant Super Hero" realm (with apologies to Spider-Man), we have the MOON KNIGHT EPIC COLLECTION: FINAL REST, which wraps up the original series run by Moon Knight's creator, Doug Moench, and most influential artist, Bill Sienkiewicz.

Then, moving into the X-Universe, we've got X-MEN: GAMBIT: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION vol. 2, finishing the Fabian Nicieza/Steve Skroce series from the late nineties. (And it's a long overdue volume, I might add -- book one came out nearly three years ago, in March of 2016!)

From around the same timeframe is X-MEN: MAGNETO WAR, a thick trade paperback collecting roughly the first half of Alan Davis's X-Men run of 1999-ish. Thanks to this book alongside a number of other volumes from ten or so years ago, that full Davis era is now reprinted. I really, really liked these comics at the time, though I'm not sure how well they hold up today -- but nonetheless, I'm extremely happy to have them all collected.

Lastly is the biggie of the month (which is the one that actually came out in November): the X-MEN: MUTANT MASSACRE OMNIBUS. Now it's true that Marvel already released an oversized hardcover of this crossover some years back. I reviewed it here. But this collection made for an easy upgrade, as far as I'm concerned. In addition to adding a few issues of UNCANNY X-MEN that had never before been collected, plugging a gap between the original MUTANT MASSACRE book and the FALL OF THE MUTANTS hardcover which followed, this Omnibus also squeezes in several other odds and ends, such as an annual or two and the X-MEN VS. THE FANTASTIC FOUR and X-MEN VS. THE AVENGERS limited series -- thus making for a much more comprehensive volume than the previous edition.

And on the digital end of things, thanks to a couple of recent Comixology/Amazon sales, I also picked up BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS vol. 2 from DC, and SILVER SURFER EPIC COLLECTION: THANOS QUEST from Marvel.

Not a bad way to end a year! We'll soon find out if 2019 can top it.

Monday, December 24, 2018


Story & Pencils: John Byrne | Inks: John Beatty
Colors: Petra Scotese | Letters: John Costanza
Editor: Mike Carlin | Assistant Editor: Renee Witterstaetter

Scripter/Co-Plotters/Penciler: John Byrne & Jerry Ordway | Inker: Dennis Janke
Letterer: Albert de Guzman | Colorist: Petra Scotese
Assistant Editor: Renee Witterstaetter | Editor: Mike Carlin

The Plot: (SUPERMAN 21) On his way home from his encounter with the Doom Patrol, Superman realizes he’s being followed by an invisible being. She reveals herself as Supergirl, then as Lana Lang, and says that she got her powers from Lex Luthor. A brief scuffle ensues, during which Superman finds his parents and the real Lana tied up in Lana’s house. Superman lures Supergirl to Metropolis and Lex Luthor, where she realizes he is not the man she thought she knew. This triggers the return of her full memories, and she beams herself and Superman to another world, where she introduces the Man of Steel to a fit, red-headed Luthor.

(ADVENTURES 444) On the “pocket universe” Earth, Superman learns that his encounter with Superboy happened a decade ago, and Superboy never returned from his trip to the future with the Legion of Super Heroes. Since then, General Zod and his henchmen, Zaora and Quex-Ui, were released from the Phantom Zone in Superboy’s lab and conquered the Earth, ultimately destroying nearly all of it. Superman vows revenge alongside Luthor, Supergirl, Pete Ross, and their resistance.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: In SUPERMAN 21, Jimmy talks Perry into sending him and Lois to Ireland to investigate Silver Banshee.

Friday, December 21, 2018


Art by: Enrico Marini | Written by: Thierry Smolderen

GYPSY's fourth volume moved away from the one-off adventure presented in volume four and back into the style that defined the first few books -- a single story complete in one book, but with an overarching plotline to tie everything together. And, as a special bonus, this book references the previous installment as well, tying it in, however, loosely, with the larger narrative.

In this story, set about a year after the fourth book, our hero Tsagoi finds himself in the Middle Eastern country of Turdistan, where Bibi is doing research for her next book. It's established that she's written a trio of prior novels already, each based on her adventures with her brother and sharing the same titles as GYPSY volumes one through three. Now she's out to pen an expose on the White Wing, and has come to the land of the organization's birth, along with her publisher, the beautiful Eva Dargold, for dirt.

Tsagoi links up with the women, beds Eva, and then takes off on a chase with her when Bibi is kidnapped by the Sorceress. The action eventually reaches the White Wing's new lair in the desert, where we learn that the Sorceress is out to rebuild the organization after it fell on hard times. But following the story's action-packed conclusion, we learn there's more to the White Wing than we were led to believe, as the Sorceress is seen taking commands from a shadowy council.

Monday, December 17, 2018


Written & Illustrated by: George Pérez | Based on an idea by: Carol Flynn
Finished by: Bob McLeod | Lettered by: John Costanza
Colored by: Carl Gafford | Edited by: Karen Berger

The Plot: Wonder Woman scours Boston, battling the Chinese mob, in search of Myndi Mayer’s killer. Meanwhile, Inspector Ed Indelicato and his partner, Sergeant Michael Shands, work the case as well. Eventually, all parties realize Skeeter La Rue is to blame, and Wonder Woman tracks him down. Skeeter dies when he attempts to escape, and the final autopsy on Myndi comes in, reporting that she was dead before she was killed, thanks to a brain hemorrhage brought on by an overdose of cocaine and alcohol.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Indelicato and Shands first appeared at the Wonder Woman Fair in issues 15 and 16, where they were try to catch Solomon Buchman. We get some follow-up on those issues here, as it’s mentioned in passing that Buchman has escaped police custody since his arrest, and the detectives learn about the computer chips that Henry Armbruster was after in those issues. Further, it’s revealed here that Skeeter has been using Myndi’s business as a front to distribute cocaine, and that the fair was in part a cover for this operation. Lastly, the Chinese men Diana interrogates work for Choi, who was Armbruster’s partner in the Silver Swan affair.

Indelicato’s side of this issue is told via prose. It appears to be part of a memoir he’s writing; in any case it’s unlikely this is an official police report based on some of the things he discloses (his lust for Diana being chief among them).

Friday, December 14, 2018


Art by: Enrico Marini | Written by: Thierry Smolderen

Intrigue! If there was any one thing that the first couple volumes of GYPSY might have been missing -- and honestly, it's pretty hard to say they lacked for anything at all -- it would be intrigue. But now even that box is checked in the series' third book.

Volume 3 is set, as was volume 2, in Siberia, where our hero Tsagoi and his sister Bibi have hitched up with a group of Russian revolutionaries led by the young and newly crowned Tsar, Ivan -- who was rescued, along with his uncle, by Tsagoi in the prior installment. Ivan and Bibi fall in love, and the young man announces his plan to marry her after the revolution's opening volley. Tsagoi is roped into serving in the Tsar's army, and soon the battle is joined. Our heroes attack the castle of warlord Slomo, and after a bloody skirmish, he's overthrown. The Sorceress shows up during the fight with Tsagoi's hijacked truck and an arms shipment for Slomo, and reinforcements sent by the Selmer Corporation appear as well, via dirigible, but these new arrivals fail to turn the tide in Slomo's favor. His men are beaten, he is executed, and that night, Ivan and Bibi are wed.

And this is where the intrigue comes in. We learn in pretty quick order that Ivan does not possess Tsar's blood after all; he's a pawn used by his uncle in service of a shadowy organization called the White Wing -- and what's more the Sorceress is a member of that same organization. The Sorceress tries to kill Tsagoi, Ivan's uncle tries to kill Ivan, and all heck generally breaks loose. Eventually the bad guys are thwarted (though the Sorceress escapes), but Ivan confesses his common blood to the masses, and gets shot for his trouble. The newly widowed Bibi joins Tsagoi in his truck as they leave town, along with Big Ben, a former Selmer trucker turned ally in the aftermath of the revolution.

Monday, December 10, 2018


Story & Pencils: John Byrne | Inks: Karl Kesel & Byrne
Lettering: John Costanza | Coloring: Petra Scotese
Assistant Editing: Renee Witterstaetter | Editing: Michael Carlin
Kibitzing: Paul Kupperberg

The Plot: Jonathan and Martha Kent arrive at Lana Lang’s home, where she reveals Supergirl to them in the back yard. Later, Superman arrives in Smallville and changes to Clark Kent for a picnic with Lana. But soon, he finds himself involved in a battle between the Doom Patrol and Metallo. Lana overhears a radio broadcast and decides Superman is in trouble. She reveals herself as Supergirl and takes of to go aid him.

But Superman defeats Doom Patroller Cliff “Robotman” Steele, who had been under Metallo’s thrall, and the rest of the Doom Patrol helps him to take out the villainous cyborg. Metallo explodes, and though the heroes find most of his parts, his head remains unaccounted for.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: The fates of Jonathan, Martha, and Lana go unrevealed this issue; one moment they’re speaking with Supergirl, then the scene cuts away and “Lana” is actually Supergirl for the rest of the story.

In Metropolis, Maggie Sawyer meets with her medical examiner, who tells her a recently deceased man was “scared to death” while we readers are shown a voodoo doll in the foreground.

Friday, December 7, 2018


Art by: Enrico Marini | Written by: Thierry Smolderen

Okay, folks -- I'm just gonna cut straight to the chase: this story is absolutely insane in the best possible way. You want a protagonist who talks about himself in the third person and constantly spouts bizarre colloquial exclamations? You want a high-stakes long-haul gun-running mission across the world in the not-too-distant future? You want knife fights, gunplay, and sexual situations?? Then GYPSY is the comic you've been waiting for.

Set in an alternate version of the dawn of the twenty-first century, "The Gypsy Star" opens with a young girl getting rescued from a gang of toughs by her older brother. The siblings are gypsies, feared and hated by the other children in their orphanage. When the headmaster arrives to break up the scuffle, he is shot by the brother, Tsagoi. Tsagoi flees, promising to send enough money to his sister, Oblivia, that she can leave the orphanage and move into a boarding school.

We then jump twelve years into the future and learn that Tsagoi was successful in his mission. Thanks to the destruction of the ozone layer, airplanes have been outlawed on Earth. Everything is transported around the world via gigantic cargo trucks which travel a superhighway that links every continent. Tsagoi has become a trucker under the handle Gypsy, and has been sending cash to his sister on a regular basis. But now, Oblivia -- Bibi for short -- has sought out her brother to find out why the money has stopped rolling in.

Monday, December 3, 2018

WONDER WOMAN #18 & #19

Written & Penciled by: George Pérez
Finished by: Dick Giordano (#18) & Frank McLaughlin (#19)
Lettered by: John Costanza | Colored by: Carl Gafford
Edited by: Karen Berger

The Plot: (issue 18) Diana awakens in a hospital and as she departs with Julia, Vanessa, and Stavros, she meets the wealthy Theophilus Ventouras and his nephew Demetrios. Ventouras invites Diana to his estate for dinner and to peruse his library to learn about the mysterious island which may have caused her blackout. Soon, Diana and friends visit Julia’s parents, who welcome her into their home. Stavros soon leaves for a secret meeting with a man named Gregori, who wants to keep Diana safe from the “island witch”. Gregori’s safehouse is attacked and the group inside splits up, Stavros returning to his home with one of Gregori’s guards.

Diana and Julia dine at Ventouras’s estate, and after they leave, Ventouras’s butler reveals the corpse of Demetrios, who he believes murdered by Gregori and his rebels. Ventouras transforms into a werewolf and departs, seeking revenge. Driving home, Diana and Julia spot Stavros’s house ablaze. Knowing Vanessa was visiting Stavros, Diana leaps into action. She rescues Stavros from the house, but he says that Vanessa escaped when the house was attacked. Diana finds Vanessa and protects her from Ventouras and an army of demonic animals, but she is ultimately knocked out and taken away by the creatures, revealed as servants of the island witch, Circe.

Sunday, December 2, 2018


I'm going to close out Fridays this year with something a little different. This series was a total blind buy on my part, based primarily on the artwork. At some point last year, Europe Comics had a linewide sale on Comixology and, as I find myself looking to expand my comic-reading horizons nowadays, I perused the offerings. GYPSY, by Thierry Smolderen and Enrico Marini, caught my eye thanks to the lush imagery from Marini. The series' premise jumped out at me as well -- it sort of sounded like a post-apocalyptic "Bean Bandit meets Mad Max" kind of thing. (Heck, the lead character even looked a bit like Bean to my eye!) So I figured the price was right, and I might as well go all in on the series' five volumes.

Now, over a year later, I've decided to actually read the stories -- and you're coming with me, whether you like it or not! (I mean, unless you just don't read the posts; then I guess you could choose not to come with me. But why would you do that??) The next three Fridays, we'll check out GYPSY in its entirety, two volumes per week. And if you noticed that doesn't quite bring us up to the end of the year, you're right -- I plan to take the final week of December off (aside from Monday's regularly scheduled and already written Superman/Wonder Woman stuff), though I may slot in the month's Unboxing post for that Friday so something goes up. Then it'll be onward and upward to something new for Fridays in 2019!

Available on Amazon: Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6