Monday, March 29, 2021


Written by Christopher Yost | Directed by Sebastian Montes

The Plot: Around the Nine Realms, the Avengers prepare for battle agaisnt Loki's forces with their various new allies -- while in Asgard, Loki is crowned king. Hulk and the Warriors Three battle the frost giants at the entrance to the Rainbow Bridge, and are joined by Giant-Man, Wasp, and Sif and the valkyries. Hawkeye, Black Panther, and Faradei arrive to assist, and the giants (as well as Loki's loyal Asgardian warriors) are defeated.
Meanwhile, in Niffelheim, Hela continues her attempt on Captain America's soul. But Cap refuses, so Hela begins to bargain with him. Elsewhere, Loki sees the Avengers advancing on his palace and summons Hoarfen, a gigantic ice wolf, to attack them. When it appears Hoarfen has the upper hand, Captain America appears and barks out orders that let the Avengers turn the tide. The Avengers and their allies march into Loki's throne room, but Loki, empowered by the Odinforce, proves more than they can handle. He destroys Captain America's shield and is about to finish the group, when Iron Man bursts in, wearing a new suit crafted in the Dwarven forge.

The Avengers free Thor, who reclaims his hammer and joins his teammates in battle against Loki. Meanwhile, Black Panther, Ant-Man, and Hawkeye go to Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, to attempt to cut off Loki's power -- while Loki himself begins to lose control of the Odinforce. Giant-Man uproots the tree and its energy surges out, awakening Odin. Odin reclaims his power from Loki and confronts the villain. He banishes Loki and then honors Thor and the Avengers as heroes of Asgard.

Friday, March 26, 2021


Writer: Zidrou | Artist: Van Liemt | Colorist: Cerminaro

Our next Ric Hochet adventure finds the intrepid reporter investigating a government blackmail scheme (called the "High Ground" by Ric and his editor). While attempting to meet an informant, he is instead attacked by a hit man calling himself the Nyctalope (because he suffers from the confition of Nyctalopia, allowing him to see in the dark). Ric's arm is sprained and he spends the rest of the story in a cast and sling, with Commissoner Bourdon's niece, Nadine, driving him around.

Ric's investigation is interrupted when he gets involved in a new story -- three men, one a senator, have recently died in the Luxembourg Gardens park, and all the deaths occurred immediately after the men were seen kissing a mystery woman in red. When a fourth such incident happens while Ric, Bourdon, and Nadine at at the park investigating, Ric gives chase -- but the woman in red escapes when she shouts out that Ric is a pervert trying to force himself on her.

Ric is subseqently removed from the High Ground case and told to cover the assassinations instead. He has another run-in with the Nyctalope which results in him obtaining the file he was originally after when the story started -- but that file is soon stolen from the new reporter on the case, Bob Drummond.

Monday, March 22, 2021


Written by Christopher Yost | Directed by Vinton Heuck

The Plot: Hawkeye awakens in Asgard, where he is attacked by a pack of wolves. In Odin's palace, Loki brags to Thor about having conquered Asgard. In snowy Jotunheim, Giant-Man and the unconscious Wasp are attacked by frost giants. In Niffelheim, the realm of the dead, Captain America comes face to face with the long-dead Howling Commandos. The same holds true for the remaining Avengers, all awakening across the Nine Realms and coming face to face with various threats.
Tony Stark, armorless ave for one gauntlet, comes to in Nidavellir, realm of the dwarves, and learns from its people that Loki is behind the Norn Stone attack on Earth. Ulik the Troll appears and attacks, but Iron Man dispatches him. Meanwhile, Hawkeye struggles against the wolves until an elf rescues him. While Hulk battles trolls, Hela tries to take Captain America's soul, and Loki continues to gloat over Thor. In Jotunheim, Giant-Man is saved from the frost giants by Sif and a group of valkyries.

Black Panther fights undead spirits, while the Hulk overcomes his trollish foes. The Warriors Three and other Asgardians appear to recruit Hulk to their team. Meanwhile, Captain America overcomes Hela's ploy and then finds himself facing her directly. Meanwhile, Black Panther appears to rescue Hawkeye and his elf ally, Faraday, from the wolves. But in Nidavellir, Ulik renews his attack and defeats the dwarves, leaving Stark to defeat him by supercharging his arc reactor. And back in Asgard, Loki prepares to execute Thor.

Friday, March 19, 2021


"R.I.P., RIC!"
Writer: Zidrou | Artist: Van Liemt | Colorist: Cerminaro

As mentioned briefly last week, this seems to be a three-volume revival of a long running Franco-Belgian series that originated in 1955, and was serialized in the wildly popular TINTIN magazine (and these new stories are set in 1968). The protagonist is a rough-and-tumble investigative reporter, Ric Hochet, who writes for a Parisian newspaper called La Rafale. But in an interesting twist, we don't really see much of Ric in this volume. Instead, the story revolves around one of his old enemies, "The Chameleon" -- a master of impersonation and disguise, recently released from prison (where Ric sent him), who has undergone plastic surgery and devoted a ton of training toward his goal of becoming Ric Hochet.

The Chameleon breaks into Ric's apartment, puts on his clothes, and waits for him to return home from his latest assignent. After a brief confrontation, a shot rings out -- and then we cut to the next day, as the Chameleon shows up to La Rafale impersonating Ric. We later learn that Ric is alive, being held for an unknown purpose by the Chameleon, but that the villain killed Ric's poor cat when he fired his gun. (Which is super lame; as noted here many times before, I hate when pets are killed in stories.)

The Chameleon then sets about an elaborate plan for revenge on both Ric, who sent him to prison, and on Ric's friend, Police Commissioner Bourdon, who is about to get (re-)married. Ric tells his boss that he's taking some time off, then leaves with the commissioner's niece, Nadine, to buy some clothes for the wedding and drive up to the commissioner's island estate. On the way (and then later again at the estate), the Chameleon hooks up with Nadine, something Ric apparently never did. Oh, and he takes a moment before leaving to kill one loose end remaining from Ric's last case when the guy threatens him.

Monday, March 15, 2021


Written by Michael Ryan | Directed by Sebastian Montes

The Plot: An anothe realm, Karnilla, queen of the Norns, is transformed to stone by the Grey Gargoyle at the Enchantress's order. Meanwhile, Baron Zemo has formed a larger Masters of Evil team. Enchantress and Executioner return to Earth and provide Zemo with a Norn Stone taken from Karnilla. Meanwhile, Iron Man reveals schematics for a device he beleives can create a wormhole between Earth and Asgard. Captain America reveals that he's seen such a device before, during World War II. Elsewhere, Hank Pym packs his belongings and leaves the mansion, despite the Wasp's pleas that he stay.
Iron Man assembles the Avengers to discuss the wormhole device, which Cap explains was used by the Red Skull during the war. As they talk, Iron Man reveals that he has found ley lines around Earth, which seem to link it with the nine realms of Asgard. Detecting energy surges on the various ley lines, the Avengers split up to investigate -- one Avenger for each of the seven lines. In the arctic, Wasp finds a Norn Stone, but it is guarded by the Abomiation. Meanwhile, Iron Man finds a Norn Stone as well in the jungle, but is attacked by the Living Laser. At a castle somewhere, Captain America encounters the Crimson Dynamo near his Norn Stone. And in another jungle, Hawkeye finds himself up against Chemistro, while in a graveyard, Black Panther finds Wonder Man -- also both guarding Norn Stones. Finally, the Hulk engages Executioner over a Stone in a wooded area, while Thor the Red Skull's old castle to find the Enchantress and Zemo.

The Avengers proceed with their battles, while Enchantress activates the Norn Stones, mystically linking the Nine Realms. Wasp finds herself about to be killed by Abomination when Giant-Man shows up to save her, defeating the monster. But thanks to the Norn Stones, frost gaints show up a moment later. Around the world, at the other Norn Stones' locations, additional Asgardian creatures and beings appear, challenging Avengers and Masters of Evil alike. At the Red Skull's castle, Zemo uses a mind control device to take over the Enchantress's mind, ordering to place the armies of Asgard under his control. He then prepares to finish Thor, but the Thunder God reclaims his hammer and knocks out both Zemo and the Enchantress.

At Thor's oder, the Avengers simultaneously destroy the Norn Stones at every location, but are all transported away from Earth in the process. Thor appears in Asgard to find Loki seated on Odin's throne.

Friday, March 12, 2021


I've delved into the realm of various European comics once in a while over the past couple years, starting with MUSE in 2016, then BARBARELLA in 2017, then GYPSY and RAPTORS in late 2018/early 2019, and finally LADY S. in 2020. (All of these can be found at the bottom of my MISCELLANEOUS REVIEWS page under "European Comics".)

I'm keeping the tradition alive this year with two shortish series (at least as far as English translations go; I can't find whether either of these goes beyond the volumes Comixology carries in my native language): three volumes of the Franco-Belgian RIC HOCHET (or, more properly, RIC HOCHET'S LATEST INVESTIGATIONS, as I've learned this is a twenty-first century revival of a series that ran for many years beginning in 1955), and the French MISS OCTOBER, a four-volume set. Both series are set in the 1960s, and I love period pieces from around that era (basically anything from, say the '30s to the '60s is right up my alley) -- so I'm pretty excited to check them out.

I'll do one volume a week beginning next Friday, so this should take us up through the end of April. After that, I'm considering something "Marvel"ous, but we'll see if that's still my mindset in seven weeks!

For those who wish to follow along, all volumes of both series are available digitally on Amazon: RIC HOCHET's LATEST INVESTIGATIONS | MISS OCTOBER

(And hey, if you can read French, you'll find digital editions of a bunch of the original RIC HOCHET stories on Amazon as well! It'd be cool if some company were to translate those as well...)

Monday, March 8, 2021


Written by Brandon Auman | Directed by Vinton Heuck

The Plot: Around the world, systems belonging to various world powers are taken over by Ultron. Meanwhile the Avengers mourn Thor. But elsewhere, the Enchantress hold Thor, enthralled, in another realm. Tony Stark and Hank Pym realize that Ultron has transferred his consciousness into another body, and Ultron takes control of various Iron Man armors to attack the Avengers, while the real Ultron boards the SHIELD helicarrier.
Meanwhile, Thor regains his senses and demands the Enchantress send him back to Earth. The Avengers, battling Iron Man's armors, are joined by Iron Man himself. Iron Man, Hulk, and Wasp head out to defend the helicarrier, while Hawkeye and Black Panther stay behind to battle the Iron Man suits. Aboard the helicarrier, Ultron extracts SHIELD's nuclear missile codes from Maria Hill just as the Avengers arrive to save her. But they're too late, and Ultron launches missiles from the various systems he has commandeered around the world, in order to wipe out humanity.

At Avengers Mansion, Thor appears to save Hawkeye and Black Panther, then travels with them to the helicarrier and engages Ultron. The robot remains a match for the full Avengers team, however, even transforming the Hulk back into Bruce Banner. While most of the group battles Ultron, Ant-Man arrives and goes inside his creation, where he uses a device he created to deactivate Ultron. Meanwhile, Stark manages to disengage the missiles, saving the world from nuclear annihilation. But the victory is bitter for Ant-Man, who stalks off sullenly in the battle's aftermath.

Friday, March 5, 2021


By Mark Schultz

Following from the previous chapter's journey into the spiritual realm, our next installment moves back to a more relatable realm, straight action/adventure with just a hint of intrigue. The main story is concerned with Jack, having just dealt with some poachers in the jungle, struggling to elude a very determined velociraptor. He survives in the end, of course, with the aid of a larger predator who pops up at just the right moment to devour the raptor -- but he realizes he wouldn't have found himself in this predicament in the first place were someone not trying to kill him.

This revelation has its seed in the prior chapter, when one of the Governors, Dahlgren, visited Jack to tell him that the other Governrors were beginning to question his usefulness and that he should watch his back. Now, Jack finds that his car and rifle were both sabotaged before he headed out on patrol, confirming Dahlgren's warning that someone may be trying to get rid of him.

The story ramps up big time in the next chapter, as Hannah and Jack's chief mechanic, Kirgo, pick up Jack in the jungle and return home with him. Along the way, we get some backstory on the Xenozoic world, namely that Jack is a direct descendant of the "Old Blood Mechanics", the people who kept Cataclysm regugees alive while they spent hundreds of years in shelter as the nuclear fallout subsided. During this time, the Old Bloods formed a doctrine called the Machinatio Vitae, the laws of balance between man and nature which people have lived by ever since emerging from shelter.

Monday, March 1, 2021


Written by Brandon Auman | Directed by Sebastian Montes

The Plot: In the subway, the Avengers battle the Serpent Society, despite Ant-Man's entreaties for a peaceful resolution. The Society manages to escape, and Ant-Man quits the Avengers when the group chastizes him for not joining in thier slugfest. Later, at his lab in Avengers Mansion, Hank Pym works on Ultron. At Avengers Mansion, Hulk and Black Panther arrive, having captured the Red Ghost and his Super Apes, who were captured with schematics for the Baxter Building on their person, which they received in a coded message. Recalling that the Serpent Society also claimed to have received a message from Madame Hydra, Iron Man does some digging and finds that the messages were sent from the mansion.
In Pym's lab, Ultron zaps him and then the Wasp as well, when she comes to check on him. Then, as Black Panther and Hulk load the Red Ghost and his apes into a Quinjet, both of the Avengers' jets activate and turn on them. In the mansion's training room, the systems turn on Captain America, Hawkeye, and a visiting Jane Foster as well. Iron Man's armor begins to attack Thor also, with Tony Stark unable to communicate. Elsewhere, Ultron learns taht his programming prevents him from harming the imprisoned Wasp.

Cap, Hawkeye, Jane, and Black Panther escape their traps and regroup, while Stark manages to speak to Thor, telling him to overload his armor. Thor does so, and Iron Man realizes that the override signal sent to his armor originated from Ultron. The Avengers burst into the mansion and attack, and Thor is seemingly disintegrated by Ultron. While Cap, Hawkeye, and Black Panther continue their battle, Stark revives Hank. When Ultron gains the upper hand on the Avengers, Wasp uses her power to grow and break free of her bonds. She tries to appeal to Ultron, but he continues to fight back.

Hulk, who was rocketed into the outer atomsphere aboard a Quinjet, breaks free of the craft and plummets back to Earth. Meanwhile, Ant-Man appears and attempts to shut down Ultron, but the robot reveals it can no longer be controlled by Pym's commands. Iron Man bursts in next, wearing his original bulky armor, free of computers for Ultron to override. Hulk appears a moment later, tearing Ultron in half and allowing Ant-Man to remove and destroy his power core. Pym then destroys all the other Ultrons' cores and memory units as well, but Ultron has already completed uploading of his consciousness to another old Ultron head.