Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dream Date With A Villain Vol. 1 (Heretical Sexts)

My Dream Date with a Villain is a new magazine/comic that comes from awesome blogger Tenebrous Kate, a huge fan of 'questionable' genre films, and the kind of person who'd watch SS Extermination Love Camp for a fun afternoon (and quite frankly, so am I). Her new publishing imprint Heretical Sexts has just been launched, and Dream Date, its first product to be released, focuses on an extremely nifty topic-How do villains date?

Dream Date is a collection of fifteen short stories (penned by various authors), some text, some in comic form, and one in a photographic format. Despite the rapid shifts in both art styles, format, and plots, the stories (all ranging from one to three pages) all flow very nicely.

I found all of the stories in this collection highly amusing, and even ones that didn't make me laugh much were still entertaining reads. One that might be divisive is the Chillin' With Lo Pan story. I dug its brief absurdity, but some might dislike it for those same reasons, and I can understand why.

The concept behind this zine is definitely a highly interesting one (to me, at least), and it pulls it off great! Seeing Dr. Doom's violent reactions to 'troubles' in the bedroom is just as amusing as would expect, as is Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (also She Wolf of the SS, Tigress of Siberia, and Wicked Warden, respectively) finding romance via a dating profile, and the Dream Dates Gone Wrong segment, wherein we learn that M.O.D.O.K. is a lush, and that the Hamburgler is a smug 9/11 conspiracy theorist!

My Dream Date with a Villain's main target audience is definitely a very niche one, but that thankfully doesn't make it inaccessible to people unfamiliar with the material the stories draw from (although the Gaston story won't be as amusing to those who aren't familiar with the Disney Beauty and the Beast movie). This is also a very macabre collection (in a good way, of course!), so it's definitely not for everybody.

As I said above, the artwork is very good here, with many nifty varying styles, some simpler than others. I especially dig the cover, which is a treat for the eyes!

To finish, My Dream Date with a Villain is extremely entertaining, and well worth a read! Tenebrous Kate does not disappoint, nor do any of her many collaborators! Heretical Sexts is a classy kinda macabre!...

*For those interested, My Dream Date with a Villain is available for purchase at http://www.hereticalsexts.com/*

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Shadowman: Overall (New Valiant)

I originally wasn't going to say anything more about New Valiant's awful horror-superhero series Shadowman, but I've decided to so I can address all the series' problems at once. Normally, the plan is to do 'Overall' reviews for series' that have run their course and ended, whereas Shadowman is merely on a hiatus...maybe. Either way, it's gonna take at least six months before the series comes back, if it comes back,so I'll talk about all of this now.

Shadowman is about Jack Boniface, the latest in the line of a family lineage of Voodoo warriors. Jack has only recently moved to New Orleans, years after his mother hastily moved away when she was pregnant with him. Due to her efforts, Jack knows nothing about Voodoo, magic, or the Shadowmen, and is abruptly thrust into the dark world when the demonic servants of an evil necromancer named Nicodemo Darque attack him. Jack unwillingly transforms into Shadowman and fights back the demons, with the help of the Abettors, who are a group of people sworn to help the Shadowmen. Jack soon realizes that Darque is trying to break through from a ravaged dimension known as Lyceum to Earth, and will bring about the apocalypse if he succeeds...

Shadowman has a great storytelling engine-A magical superhero fighting supernatural monsters and villains. Unfortunately, due to the comic industry's exceedingly nasty habit of only telling four-issue long stories, Shadowman has only had five storylines over 20 issues! This would be bad enough, but said storylines get across extremely little character, or plot, and they establish very little about the setting, and Voodoo. Over these first thirteen issues, the series wasn't very good, and needed a lot of fixing, but unfortunately, that wasn't what it got.

The original writers left the series after Issue #12, and British comic writer Peter Milligan was brought onto Shadowman starting with Issue #13, and he really didn't get it! The guy seems to have had a good track record, but here, he either didn't read the previous thirteen issues of Shadowman, or he detested them and wanted to retcon everything! There are so many continuity errors between Milligan's issues and the rest of the series, and he's also made radical and unwelcome changes that drastically shortened the series' shelf life, The only thing that can save Shadowman now is a hard reset, whether it be by retcons to alter what Milligan has wrought, or by new writers simply washing their hands of everything that came before and starting fresh with a new main character.

The characters in this series are dull, and have very little to them. We know very little about the series' lead, Jack Boniface, and we never get any insight into his character, such as how he feels about becoming a magical warrior against his will. There's also a really forced romance between Jack and Abettor friend Alyssa. It comes out of nowhere, is set up too quickly, and ditched just as fast. As for Alyssa's character, she's likeable, but nothing special.

Series villain Darque is pretty dull. There's not much too him at all either-He's just an evil guy who's evil because he's evil. There was a #0 issue that tried to give him some character by showing his origin, but this story only shows Darque as a little kid, all the way back in 1812, and therefore creates a huge disconnect between his character there and in the present day. Issue #10 is a sequel to #0, but it skips forward about sixty years, and any character growth for Darque from his time as a kid to present is only presented very briefly in a narrated one-page montage.

Likeably snide British Voodoo priestess Punk Mambo is a very amusing character, but unfortunately her character is stuck in a poorly written series. And then there's Jaunty! He's a character originally from the Acclaim Comics Shadowman series/game, and it's because I know that that I have at least some background on who he is. The Jaunty here comes out of nowhere, and we never have any idea who he is, or why he is what he is (a seemingly living being in Deadside, and a monkey in a top hat).

Finally, the writing. While the stories over the first thirteen issues isn't very good, the dialogue is at least decent, but when Peter Milligan took over, it took a severe downturn! Some of the post Issue #12 dialogue is absolutely terrible! And there are also a few nagging plot holes in the series post #12 too.

Shadowman stopped at Issue #16, and continued with a miniseries called End Times. This was a mistake in my opinion, as End times not only has zero reason to be a miniseries rather than just being Issues #17 to #19, but it's also not accommodating in the slightest. The miniseries is purportedly a jumping-on point, but any readers who'd start Shadowman by picking up End Times #1 will just be confused as hell! And nothing bad that happens to any of the characters and their relationships will have any impact on new readers, as they won't have read the preceding issues where such things were established!

End Times is widely hated among Valiant fans, as it completely destroys the series. Peter Milligan's innumerable extreme retcons, plot holes, and continuity errors are bad enough, but apparently not content with ruining the series via those avenues, Milligan has completely and irrevocably screwed over Jack Boniface's character by abruptly turning him into a whining, stupid, and petulant villain!

Shadowman has been on hiatus ever since End Times finished, and I have no idea what the future holds for it, if anything. It might come back, but in what form is anyone's guess! Either way, if Shadowman doesn't come back, it won't be a big loss. At its best, this iteration of the series was extremely mediocre and wasteful, and at its worst, insultingly bad. New Valiant has much better series going on, so if you're interested in its lineup, feel free to peruse them and skip this...

Shadowman: End Times #1, #2, #3 (New Valiant)

Remember that in my last review of Valiant superhero series Shadowman, I said that for all that storyline's crippling faults, it actually had a happy ending? Yeah, prepare to have that utterly destroyed, and replaced with depression!

Jack Boniface is the latest in the family lineage of Shadowmen, Voodoo warriors devoted to fighting the evil necromancer Master Darque. Jack has successfully slain Darque, but is now facing problems when the malevolent Shadow Loa, the source of his powers, tries to take control. Jack is able to beat back control over his body and mind with the help of his love for girlfriend and magical comrade Alyssa, but the Loa has one last trick up its sleeve. It tells Jack the truth about his father, Josiah Boniface, who didn't die as previously thought, but instead faked his death and secretly fled from the realm of the living. Furious that Josiah abandoned his family, Jack's mind is warped by the Loa as he hunts his father down for bloody revenge...

Last time I talked about Shadowman, I talked about the new creative team that took over the series from Issue #13, and how new head writer Peter Milligan clearly didn't read the preceding thirteen issues of the series, as his starting arc is positively bloated with massive continuity errors and radical changes that make no sense, such as suddenly making the untethered spirit that gives Jack Boniface his Shadow powers an evil Loa (sort-of Voodoo god)! As if that wasn't bad enough, the changes that Milligan made to the Shadowman concept completely ruins the series. This is meant to be a superhero series, but if the spirit giving the hero his powers is evil, what then? Do we see this depressing struggle overtake the series and dominate it for the rest of the comic's run, or would Jack eventually get rid of the spirit? The latter option would end the series, so Shadowman is stuck with the former option, and in doing so has doomed itself! Its shelf life is now minimal at best!

The crux of this miniseries' plot is that Jack Boniface's father Josiah, who died during a final battle with Darque, really faked his death and escaped to a near-inaccessible magical location known as the Voodoo Lands. Cracks start to show in this storyline right away when you start thinking about the plot for even a minute. It makes no sense! Why did Josiah fake his death? He's not a bad guy, and he genuinely didn't want to abandon his family, and doing so was such a great sacrifice that it allowed him access to the Voodoo Lands. It doesn't make sense for him to have faked his death to escape the Shadow Loa, because he has either two choices-One, die in battle, or Two, Reluctantly abandon his family, living the rest of his life in an empty, dead world, alone, doing nothing, with absolutely nothing to do but wear a cloak. What's the point of escaping his death, then, if that's all he has to look forward to?

On top of all of that, there's one final problem regarding this plot point-Josiah Boniface is DEAD! We saw him in Deadside in Issue #3! There was no faking that! We saw his actual, legitimate, unfakeable deceased spirit, and he communicated with Jack, giving him advice and power, and offering to rid him of the Shadow Loa. He could have done it too, if not for Jack needing it to save Alyssa! And this miniseries is treating him as a craven coward for abandoning his family to deal with the evil Loa on their own? No, he didn't! Even if he was alive in that scene, it doesn't change the fact that he has helped Jack greatly.

The Abettors continue to make no sense. They're meant to be good guys, and the protectors to the Shadowmen, but at the first sign of trouble, they instantly have the Shadowmen killed! Not only does this not sync up with previous continuity, as I mentioned in my last review, but it paints the Abettors as a bunch of idiots! They're meant to help the Shadowmen, yet they always, always end up killing them, or the Shadowmen go nuts and kill themselves, or they die in battle before they can be driven crazy! Give up, you Abettor jerks! This arc explicitly says that every single Shadowman went crazy! Every. Single. One! Shelf life, Milligan!

The writing for this miniseries is poor. Jack's inner monologue is constant, the characters are bland and/or annoying, and there's some really stupid dialogue! On that last note, there's even a moment here where, just like in the last arc, Peter Milligan's characters again show that they has no idea that love still exists! That's an oddly specific recurring trend here! He must really want his characters to be deluded idiots! And this guy worked on Grant Morrison's Animal Man series?!

Another continuity error made with Shadowman continuity is in regards to the afterlife of Deadside. In Issue #2, Jack goes into Deadside, and says "Every minute I stay here costs me. Hours, days, even weeks are shaved off my mortal coil." WRONG! Jesus, is Peter Milligan actively trying to retcon ever single aspect of this series?! He must hate Issues #0 to #12 of Shadowman!

Onto the characters. Now that one of the new creative team's many, many retcons is set in, the previously silent and non-sentient Shadow Loa does not shut up!

In the past, Jack Boniface has always been a dull character, but here, he's more than a dullard-He's a whiner! He whines, and whines, and whines, and whines, and doesn't shut the fuck up! He's an annoying crybaby who needs to grow a pair! That's bad enough, but things actually get worse! End Times represents the complete ruination of his character, as it starts off with him as a petulant whinging crybaby dickhead, then turns him into a villain, out of nowhere! I said above that having the Shadow Loa be evil has crippled the series' shelf life, but this has done so even worse!

Not only does Jack have an out-of-character obsession, which as I said above, doesn't even make sense, given his previous interaction with Josiah in Deadside, but to gain access to the Voodoo Lands, where Josiah lives, Jack has to make a great sacrifice, and he does so by cruelly breaking Alyssa's heart. Then, when he's in the Voodoo Lands, Jack decides to ask for help from someone who was present when his father died-Darque! That's right, the so-called most evil sorcerer to have ever lived. The man who tried to bring about the apocalypse! The man the Shadowmen literally exist to stop, and Jack brings him back to life! AND THEN HE MAKES A BLOOD PACT WITH HIM! Ignoring that idiocy for a second, it doesn't even make sense for Jack to consider Darque's help, because One, Why would Darque help him? He's evil, and his mortal enemy! Two, Jack impaled and killed him, so I really doubt he'd want to help. And Three, Why would Darque know what happened to Josiah just because he was the last person to see him before his 'death'? If he had, he probably would've done something about it, or perhaps mentioned it! And of course, to make all of this even dumber, Darque doesn't know a thing, so Jack brought back pure evil into the world for no reason...And is now tied into a blood pact with him. *clap clap clap*.

Unfortunately, we're still not done yet! Jack finds Josiah, then after whining petulantly, he snaps his father's neck! And that causes the horrible death of his mother's spirit. And then Jack decides to team up with Darque as his servant! I was on the official Valiant forums when End Times ended, and most people hated this miniseries with a passion, for its flagrant continuity errors, and for what it does to Jack Boniface. Now, I'm a Michael Leroi fan (the Shadowman of Acclaim Comics, and more importantly, the video game), so while I don't give a shit about dull Jack Boniface, I do care when a series completely screws over its protagonist!

Seeing as Jack Boniface is now beyond the 'moral event horizon', I guess he's a permanent villain now, or at least won't return to being the hero. Or maybe he'll suddenly get the power to kill Darque again immediately, then go home to Alyssa with the most screwed up 'The funniest thing happened to me on my way to the Voodoo Lands' story ever!

Maybe the series will get itself a new Shadowman, and if so, I hope its Michael LeRoi. I've never been endeared to any version of Jack Boniface, as they're all dull, and useless Shadowmen! The Shadow powers the Jack of the original series possessed only extended to being able to hit people slightly harder than a regular human. Michael Leroi, on the other hand, not only had numerous Voodoo abilities and weapons, but he was immortal! Despite an extremely harsh background, he never whined, and was instead a powerful voodoo lord. He was in control, and he was the Shadow Man! There was no split-personality driving him to be the heir to the mantle, but he instead did it because he was the one who had to.

Alyssa does practically nothing this arc but be put down by Jack. Also, it doesn't make sense for her to believe Jack's cruel words to her at the end of Issue #2. The first issue of Shadowman implied that she's either a psychic, or at the least, a sensitive, so either way, she'd know that Jack was lying*. but to be fair, the entire series since Issue #2 forgot that, so that's not only just the fault of the new creative team.

*Though of course, she'd already know he's lying, because she's not stupid.

As with the last Shadowman storyline, British punk Voodoo priestess Punk Mambo is still the only good thing here. She's likeable and amusing...But unfortunately, she's still in a poorly written series, so there's no shortage of dumb moments with her, such as when Alyssa talks to her, saying that Jack is obsessed with Punk Mambo, and vice versa, which is bull! Yeah, the two have interacted a bit, but neither are obsessed with the other! Alyssa also says that Jack made a connection with Mambo, and "I know that somewhere in that warped brain of yours, you care for him". Wrong! Jack didn't make a connection with her at all, neither does it make sense for Mambo to care about him! He's just some guy who came to her for help with an exorcism. Also, when they first met, one of the few times they've even interacted, Mambo set him on fire as she forced him out of her home! That doesn't sound like the act of someone caring for another to me!

Deadside dude Jaunty returns in this arc, completely out of nowhere, and as if the artwork for him wasn't bad enough, his character has now been altered to that of a servant and suck-up. His character here doesn't mesh with previous appearances at all, and one really annoying problem, with the entirety of Shadowman, is that everyone calls Jaunty 'Trickster', even though he's never displayed any such personality!

Another returning character from a previous storyline is Baron Samedi, and his only scene leads to some really idiotic dialogue from Jack. He goes to visit Samedi, and rudely asks if his father is alive or not, and Samedi kicks him out of his domain, telling him to learn some manners. Cut to a few scenes later, Jack is saying to Alyssa that the Baron told him Josiah is alive. NO, HE DIDN'T!

The artwork for this miniseries isn't very good. It's not terrible, but the at style is poor, blocky, and far too simple in places. The covers are crummy. Not only do all three have a radically different art style, not only are they dull non-sequiturs, but the action on Issue #2 and #3's covers obscure the damn title!

My final problem with Shadowman: End Times is that it has literally no reason to be a miniseries! It's just the next storyline, nothing more. Also, this is not accommodating to any newcomers, who will likely be confused as hell, despite picking up an Issue #1.

I've ranted long and hard about this, and I'm relieved to finally have nothing left to say about this putrid mess of a series! Don't get it! Never get it! It's just a waste of money! This series never stays consistent, never establishes anything well enough, whether it be characters, or the setting, and the continuity errors and retcons are so numerous and dreadful that there is no saving this series. It's dead in the water, and has been ever since this miniseries. What does the future hold for it? Well it might come back, once sort-of spinoff The Death Defying Doctor Mirage, and the spin-off Punk Mambo one-shot are out, and I admit, I am curious to see where Shadowman will go next. Will the ruination run deeper, if such a thing is even possible at this point, or will a new new creative team be in charge, and will they retcon everything Peter Milligan has wrought as merely being a fever dream? I bloody hope so!...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Shadowman #13X, #13, #14, #15, #16 (New Valiant)

I've already made no secret of my distaste for Valiant's current Shadowman series, but here is where we really reach my boiling point! The series was bad up until now, but at least it was consistent! And it wasn't that horribly bad!...

Jack Boniface is losing control. He's been the Shadowman (a Voodoo concept that the series has still hardly bothered to explain) for months now, and things have been as fine as they can when you're forcibly entrusted with supernatural powers to aid you in fighting an evil necromancer named Darque. However, Jack's started having blackouts, and when he wakes up, he's covered in blood, and can't remember what he's done. The Shadowman protectors, the Abettors, realize Jack is struggling, hence they want to kill him, and implant the sacred power to someone they deem to be more stable. In an effort to evade their attempts on his life, Jack goes into a desolate Louisiana swamp, where the mysterious Punk Mambo is reputed to live. She tries to help him, but Jack realizes that the Loa (sort-of Voodoo god) inside him is a malevolent, nasty being, intent on violently slaughtering other criminal Loas for its own purposes. Meanwhile, an evil fear Loa named Tremble is taking advantage of the Shadowman's weakening position, and starts spreading chaos over the city of New Orleans...

Beginning with Issue #13, a new creative team took over Shadowman, and they screwed things up really badly! I am not kidding when I say these new writers did not read the previous fourteen issues! Either that, or they detested them, which begs the question why are they working on the series to begin with! The continuity errors are many and vast! Let's dig into this before anything else.

First of all, it retcons Jack's backstory. He's always been a nice, well-adjusted guy, but this new storyline suddenly shoehorns in a past of constant violent outbursts, and a severe anger problem. Now you could theoretically have a past like this for the character, but springing something this major about his backstory on your readers after fourteen issues isn't very good writing, in my opinion. Also, At the start of Issue #1, Jack was furious to find out that, according to police files, his parents were violent criminals. If he himself was had violent tendencies, he wouldn't have felt as betrayed as he did there. And no, he wasn't angry because he 'realized that he was violent because of genetics'. The reason for his anger at that revelation is explicitly explained.

The Shadowman power isn't really a sentient being, but is rather an untethered, unborn spirit-That's it. Yet this storyline is now treating the 'Loa' inside Jack as a conscious being, which is wrong! It was only ever a mindless spirit that empowers the Boniface's, not a malevolent spirit that slowly destroys its hosts! This power was created by Sandria Darque from the soul of her dead newborn baby to empower Marius Boniface and defeat her evil necromancer brother Darque, yet this storyline says she used a Loa. It also calls her 'a young woman well-versed in the art'-She was about seventy years old! And 'well-versed' is the friggin' understatement of the year! She's the sister to the most powerful necromancer in Voodoo history!

I already mentioned how much the origin for the Shadowman lineage in Issue #10 irks me in a previous review. This storyline makes things worse. Now that the Shadowman 'Loa' is an evil spirit, every single Shadowman was corrupted or destroyed by it, save for Marius, as it slowly drives them insane, bringing up all the darkness in them and warping their minds, driving some to madness, and others to alcoholism and suicide. One, WRONG! Two, the Shadowman legacy is a pretty shitty one if literally every single Shadowman went insane and offed themselves only a few years into the job! What must the Abettors think when the spiritual warriors they're supposed to protect invariably go crazy and/or suicidal?! I'd give up after the third one jumped off a tall building, and just go after Darque with a high-powered rifle from a faraway hill!

Speaking of the Abettors, they're now a huge 'network'! In the last several issues, the only ones we've ever seen are Dox and Alyssa. Now those issues don't say that they're the only remaining Abettors left, but it's implied, given that they are literally the only people helping Jack out. There are no other Abettors around when Jack first became the Shadowman, or when the Brethren tried to bring Darque into Liveside by way of a horrific gestalt demon, or when Darque started his plans for the apocalypse!

These  Abettors' motivations are iffy due to poor writing and poor continuity. They view the Shadowmen as their their messiah, which is wrong! It's just a Voodoo lineage created to stop Darque, and the Abettors are meant to help! Also, Darque is dead! There's no more need for a Shadowman! But what about his cult, The Brethren, you ask? Well for one, it never seemed all that big to begin with, and two, their messiah is now dead, and one of their biggest players is out of the game, so they can hardly do much of anything, and three, they never appear again after Darque's death, nor are they ever mentioned, so the implication is that they were indeed destroyed thanks to Darque's demise.

As the power inside Jack is now being written as an evil spirit, he's now desperate to be rid of it, but no-one he approaches can exorcise the 'Loa'. Hmmm, Jack, maybe you should, I dunno, go find Sandria-The one who gave your family the power to begin with! She is immortal, so you have no excuse not to look for her! The series never bothers to explain Sandria's whereabouts, so if she's dead, we wouldn't know.

Ok, all of that aside, how does this storyline stack up?...It sucks! It's poorly written, for a start! The biggest problem is that multiple plot points are extremely rushed. The Abettors want Jack's head on a pike, but suddenly switch to helping him, the blooming romance between Jack and Alyssa is really abrupt, and the way the Tremble fear Loa is dispatched makes little sense, and only takes a scant couple of pages. As for the dialogue, it's terrible in places!

Examples include when the Abettors are discussing Jack's stability as Sadowman. They say that Marius Boniface, the first Shadowman, was able to tame the 'Loa' due to his love for Sandria Darque, and they maybe they could find someone for Jack...but then one of them says that this would be a futile plan, as "that kind of love probably doesn't exist anymore". What?! Wow, way to be dumb, and insulting, writers!

Then there's Alyssa offering to help Jack's stability by asking him if he'd be able to fall in love with her. Because that's how love blossoms, right? No, it isn't? Of course! Also, Jack and Alyssa have neither shared any chemistry, or romantic/character building moments together in this entire series, so this seems really out of character on her part! Her badly written blase response to his surprise at her question is "Come on, don't tell me you haven't even thought about it a little. I'm not totally repulsive, am I?". People don't talk this way about love! What's worse is Alyssa's supposed attitude to Jack's response. After she says that "Maybe I could be your Sandria", Jack says "I...I don't know. I c-can't think about anything like that. Not now. Not until I get my head straight. You understand right?". Because he said that, Jack then thinks that he hurt Alyssa's feelings, and she'll hate his guts for how he 'rejected' her. But he didn't reject her! His response wasn't a rejection in the slightest!

More terrible dialogue is pictured below...

Along with Issues #13 to #16, this arc also has a bafflingly named #13X, which is an eight page short story. It's a prequel to this storyline, but covers nothing that isn't said in the story itself multiple times, so it's basically a $2 dollar waste in every way possible.

There are quite a few stupid plot points. I'll focus on just the one here, because I want to end this monster of a post soon! Since they're planning on killing Jack, the Abettors have a fallback host for the Shadowman 'Loa'...who's a priest! This fallback host must have only known about Voodoo for a few days at most, because the Abettors say they only sought her out when they uncovered Jack's chequered past. I can buy that they were able to convince this that magic actually exists in only a few days, but convincing her to abet in a friggin' murder?! She's a priest!

The artwork in this storyline has changed just as radically as the writing, and it sucks just as bad! It's gritty, muddy, and sketchy, like this was drawn by someone with a splotchy broken pen, and a shitty photoshop program! Some may find it merely mediocre, or ok (and it is better in some places than others), but I don't take to muddy art on the best of days! What's worse is the inconsistency, as other moments more resemble the more normal art style of previous issues.

The covers are crap! #13X's is a total non-sequitur, the one to #16 is the best drawn, but lacks a background, while the covers to #13 and #14 almost look good (#14's looks very stylish), but are dragged down by the shitty, smudgy-gritty artwork, and #15's is confusing! I originally thought it was a non-sequitur, with two trucker crims getting the drop on Shadowman, but actually, they're Abbettors, who actually show up in the comic! The art is so bad that the guy's grey hair looks like a trucker hat!

I'll give Shadowman's new creative team only two compliments. One, Punk Mambo is an interesting an amusing character, and I'm glad she's getting her own one-shot later this year, and Two, they actually bothered to have Voodoo in the series that's meant to be about Voodoo! While Voodoo is stated to be the core of magic in this universe, nothing has ever been drawn from Voodoo mythology or lore, aside from Baron Samedi, and occasional uses of the word veve. Here, they namedrop a few words like wanga and mambo, introduce rogue Loas, and a Voodoo pantheon known as The Mysteries. Does it utilize them well? Hell no, but it did at least try, and for a Shadowman series, that's a more impressive feat than you know (the original series had no Voodoo elements, despite that supposedly being crucial). For example, the Shadowman power was continually called a Loa in previous issues of this series, but at no point was it actually a Loa. The new creative team are actually treating it like one, but it was never meant to be a Loa, so the problem still stands (also, I know that the power talks at the end of Issue #1, and no, it didn't make sense there either!).

Valiant Comics' shared universe normally keeps its continuity straight, but between Eternal Warrior, and Shadowman, it takes a beating! Thankfully Shadowman's ruination is only affecting itself, unlike how Eternal Warrior's brazen fuckups have ruined everything in continuity about the character of Gilad and the Geomancers. Even ignoring the huge continuity errors, this isn't a good storyline of Shadowman. It's total rubbish! Thankfully it has at least a few small positives, including a happy ending, which I appreciate, as opposed to a grim dark depressing mess for an ending...This positive conclusion doesn't last however, as this new creative team hasn't quite pummeled Shadowman into the ground yet. That's in the miniseries End Times, and believe me, I'll be having words about that!...

Shadowman #11 and #12 (New Valiant)

Valiant's 'current' Shadowman series is definitely the worst of its relaunch, in my opinion. Its stories are overlong, establish extremely little, and have boring, dull nothings of characters! Now that the first two arcs, as well as two pointless and rushed origin issues are out of the way, is their room for improvement for this series?...

Issue #11

It's Halloween night in New Orleans, and Jack Boniface, the current heir to the Shadowman lineage*, is just rambling around when he sees a few mischievous spirits flying about. They possess a few drunken knobs, and run around, wanting to have fun. Jack heads after them, hoping to catch and send the spirits before the night can get too chaotic...

*If you're wondering why I'm not elaborating on what that is, it's because the series sure as hell doesn't!

This is a slightly-goofy Halloween one-shot, basically, and it feels incredibly divorced from the rest of the series, given that main character Dox just died! We see neither the effects of his death, nor how it hit Jack and Alyssa. Jack never mentions Dox once this issue, and Alyssa never appears at all!

Jack Boniface is a dull character as usual, but here, he whines too! "Responsibility is a curse. If you screw up, people won't trust you. If you do a great job, then all they do is load you up with more". Oh boo hoo Jack. If you have nothing to say about being a superhero and protector of the innocent other than 'wah wah, I have to do work' then quit being a superhero! Darque is dead, therefore all reason for Jack even being the Shadowman is complete! His family can let the burden go now, and be at peace. Jack could easily just move to Cancun. Sure he may not be able to get rid of his powers, but all that means is that he'll be able to whip up some cool superpowers whenever he wants to!

Shan 'Dr. Mirage' Fong appears here, having previously shown up in Shadowman Issues #5 and #6. She's entertaining, but has no character to her. Also, as I said in my review of Shadowman Issues #5 to #9, there's no indication here that Shan has a husband, which is detrimental to her new miniseries.

This issue's 'villains' are pretty nothing. They just seem like fun-loving sprites, rather than anything dangerous, or even all that annoying. They are after all possessing the particular people they do because said guys are drunken jerks!

The art here is all decent, but the cover is rather boring. The layout of one scene is really badly done. It's a fight scene, and the panels radically swing from one thing to another. It's also confusing in one panel, where Jack kisses Shan against their will. I think the implication is that Jack was punched into Shan, but due to the poor scene structure (and the fact that she was facing a different direction!), it looks more like Jack is a sexual predator.

Jack Boniface's whining idiocy aside, this is a slightly entertaining harmless romp, and not bad by any means.

Issue #12

Issue #12 is another issue that's basically a one-shot. For no reason, it's a collection of Shadowman short stories.


Deadside Blues is a very good short story. It gets across character for Jack, and Jaunty is a likeable spiritual advisor. He actually acts like the Jaunty from the fantastic 1999 video game, which is much appreciated! He's also not wasted here either, which is even more appreciated! Unfortunately the next two arcs are gonna ruin that for us again. The artwork in this story is very good! Not a bad moment in it! Ultimately, this is the best story of this Shadowman series in the whole bunch!...


Lucky Charm is a crummy little story, focusing on a character who briefly appeared in one issue. The guy, Freddy, was someone reluctantly working for some Soma drug dealers, and he narrates about how sucky his life is, and how bad he feels about what he does for a living, but does it anyway, blah blah blah. This story is boring and pointless, and the ending is really confusing. It shows Freddy injecting a milk carton in his fridge with...something...for a reason (if its Soma, that would make sense if not for everything that comes after), then he goes to bed with his wife and baby, then the very next panel is him out in the streets being attacked by Shadowman. What?! And then the story has the balls to have a happy ending! This character is a total louse! He hardly deserves that!...Or is this ending of Shadowman showing mercy meant to be a Soma hallucination? If so, the issue does a terrible job at establishing it as such. It's so confusing that whether or not it's meant to be an ambiguous ending is entirely unclear!

One dumb part is when Freddy says that he strikes back against his drug dealers in subtle ways, like stealing pens from their supple closet! Wow, dude, you're really showing them!

The dumbest thing about this issue is its complete misunderstanding of what Soma is! It thinks that Soma is a drug taken from the brains of children, acting as distilled dreams, when in actual fact, Soma is one of two things-A muscle pain reliever also known as Carisoprodol, and a soothing religious drink that originated from India and the Middle East. Writer, do not take scientific advice from Where the Dead go to Die!

Finally, the artwork to this section is pretty meh.


This story has no name until the last panel, and there is zero transition between Lucky Charms, and this! That's confusing already, and once you get your bearings, you realize you're reading a very stupid story. Plot points are ridiculous, and the climax is confusing as hell! This whole story is just rushed!

This story does namedrop Dox a few times, but there's never any fallout from his death in Issue #9. It was just a thing that happened, and we never see how Alyssa feels about either it, or the fact that Jack was the one that had to kill Dox.

The artwork is ok, but it makes Jack look like a teen.


The final story in this collection is a brief two page black-and-white amateur-looking piece of crap. It's extremely rushed, confusing, and hard to read, given the subpar artwork, inking, and font!


The cover to this issue is pretty bad. It's boring, the title is partially obscured, and the way Jack's face is drawn is off, making him look like a monkey! Mouths are not that wide!

To finish, Issue #11 of Shadowman is a harmless 'one-shot', while Issue #12 is a mostly crap short story collection with one golden section...

Shadowman #0 and #10 (New Valiant)

In the middle of the last arc of Valiant horror-superhero series Shadowman (Issues #5 to #9), a #0 issue was released, to help elaborate on who the hell the villain was. It didn't help, as the evil necromancer Darque is such a nothing character that knowing the very start of his origin hardly elucidates on his character in that storyline, especially when we aren't seeing his turn to evil here at all!

A dark wizard living in the Antebellum South of America raises his two children, Nicodemo and Sandria, by teaching them the ways of magic. Due to his efforts, the man's children were born with special magical abilities far beyond that of any normal spellcaster, and this is all part of the man's plan to reach his way into a heavenly dimension known as Lyceum. Sandria and Nicodemo lead secluded but happy lives, until they realize the bloody cost that travel to Lyceum entails...

First things first, the summary of this issue on Comixology reads thusly...

"The end has always been near.

Twenty five years ago, Josiah Boniface was the Shadowman, and he had more problems than simply Master Darque: things from beyond are trying to eat the world, the police are trying to send him to jail and now he's got to rescue Helena LeBreton from a murderous cult, whether she likes it or not."

That is a complete and utter lie! What's worse is that the cover looks like it supports that plot, and that of an origin of the Shadowmen, as there are multiple ones from through the ages...but then you open it up and realize that this comic has fuck-all to do with Josiah Boniface, the Shadowman lineage, or even action of any sort!

This issue is actually about the origin of Darque and his sister. The story is pretty standard and boring. It doesn't do anything unique or special, nor do the characters have much to them. It's a Point A to Point B story that's over before you know it.

The artwork here is decent, but I don't much care for the scratchy style, and the gore in a few places looks off. In the above picture, it looks like someone blew up the picture in MS Paint and sprayed red colouring on Sandria, and there's a death scene at the end which shows a hilarious misunderstanding of the human body! The cover looks decent, but is a total lie! Also, the Shadowman in the middle looks like Iron Man.

Issue #10

In the Civil War, Sandria is helping the Union forces as she desperately hides away from her now mad brother. She falls in love with a soldier, Marius Boniface, and the two make the best of their lives, until Darque finally finds Sandria...

For Issue #10, the Shadowman creative team felt the need to again pull away from the main series in order to focus on the Darque family backstory, and thankfully, this time the story actually has something to do with the Shadowman lineage. This is a decently written story, but it suffers from the same problem as Issue #0-It focuses more on telling events to us, instead of letting them play out naturally. There's no real character here, and as for Sandria, just because she says she's something, it doesn't make her so. We the readers need to actually see it. This whole issue breaks the 'show, don't tell' rule really badly!

Sandria is a boring character. We have no insight into her character, despite her incessant inner-monologuing (she gets very little actual dialogue here, annoyingly enough). Marius Boniface is the same, as is Darque, except neither have their own narration, hence they have next to nothing to them. Speaking of, we don't see what made Darque evil at all. We see an unhelpful montage, while Sandria's narration says that he became an asshole (my words), it doesn't explain or show enough.

The Shadowman stuff in this issue is really rushed, as it's only introduced in the final couple of pages.

This issue's other big problem is that it takes all this time to introduce Sandria Darque, and how she was the one who created the Shadowman lineage, yet not only is she never seen again after this issue, we don't even know what happened to her after this issue! And yes, this does end up opening plot holes later down the track!

The fact that the Shadowman lineage was created by Sandria to stop her brother really bugs me. To me, an ancient lineage of Voodoo warriors, keeping the peace between the world of the living and the world of the dead is a lot more interesting than a family lineage that was only created 140 years ago, solely to stop one guy. Not only does it reduce the legacy and history aspect a lot, and localises their fight to merely this one bad guy, but this makes the Shadowmen seem really ineffectual, as they had one job, one job, and they somehow never succeeded! This also makes the last Shadowman storyline even worse, as Jack Boniface totally kills Darque at the end of it, despite dozens of generations being unable to do so, which isn't well-thought out writing to me.

There is one aspect to all this that I liked, which is that while Sandria assumed that her brother was vengefully hunting her down for escaping him, he actually never suspected that she had done so, as he loved her so much, and thought she reciprocated fully, that he didn't even consider any other theories, but instantly and solely believed that Sandria had been kidnapped.

The artwork is mostly quite good, but there are low moments, such as the montage with Darque-Poor gradient background work, and more MS Paint blood! The cover is ok, but a bit bland.

These two mediocre issues are barely Shadowman, and one presents a forced and rushed origin for the series that is hardly well thought out...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shadowman #5, #6, #7, #8, and #9 (New Valiant)

Did I say that New Valiant's Shadowman series was decent in my review of Issues #2, #3, #4 of its run? Yeah, I'd like to retract that statement. Parts of this series, and/or single issues on their own are decent, but as a whole, this series is terrible! Is it really so hard to write a good voodoo horror series?...

Jack Boniface has recently been forcibly entrusted the legacy of the Shadowman Loa, and he has no time to train with his new abilities when the evil necromancer Master Darque begins to break the veil between the world of the living, and that afterlife of Deadside. Darque has turned Deadside into a nightmare, and as reality fractures and his malevolent troops invade Liveside, Jack Boniface-Shadowman-must team up with Baron Samedi, Lord of the Dead, to stop the apocalyptic threat...

Comics have followed the four-issue storyline pattern for a few years now, and it's really annoying! Because of it, you'll read the first five issues of a series, over the five months they're released, and since this is only the first storyline, only the bare minimum has been established! The effect this has on New Valiant's Shadowman is that over the course of nine, friggin nine, issues, we barely know the main character, his motivations, or his powers. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, given how little we know about the Abettors, the Brethren, Master Darque, or Deadside! We don't even know anything about Voodoo, or what a Shadowman is! Nine issues in and we still don't know what a Shadowman is!

Jack Boniface is a dull character! He always was, in the original series, and he's a goddamn dullard here too! Where's Michael LeRoi when you need him?! I'd take Doctor Facilier at this point!

The storyline's villain Darque talks like a pretentious hipster, and while the plan he's enacted has some neat horror behind it, nothing he actually does is scary, or makes him an entertaining villain. We don't know who he is, or what his powers even are! It's so bad that a #0 issue was released in-between Issues #6 and #7, which only barely elaborates on Darque's origin, as it just shows him as a kid.

Baron Samedi is the best character this arc. He's nothing special, but he's likeable, and ooky. He's supposedly 'not to be trusted' and 'bad news', but nothing here indicates that he's a psycho evil lord of evil or anything. He doesn't seem like Funshine Bear, but neither does he seem like Darque in the slightest. Naturally, this doesn't exactly endear those characters to you when there's still nothing to them either. Alyssa's character is that she's a chick with magical powers, and Dox's character is 'wizened old mentor who dies in the second act'. Yeah, he dies. It's so predictable and cliche that I'm surprised he didn't die sooner! That's not the only reason why I don't care that I'm spoiling his death though. The main reason I am is that his death affects nothing! He's not even mentioned in the next three issues! And of course, he had so little character in life that when he died, I felt no sudden void.

One character who really gets screwed over is Anne Alafair. She's a waitress who has the hots for Jack, and she exists solely to get killed. The problem is that she dies really abruptly! You read her talking with Jack, turn the page, and she's instantly dead. I was expecting at least some buildup! Her death is completely pointless, as we know nothing about this character, and she only had one other scene in this series, four issues ago. She doesn't even get any dialogue as she dies! Her death doesn't teach Jack a lesson about superheroics, or affect his character in any way, nor does her death serve to show just how big a threat the Brethren are-We already knew that when they were summoning demons from beyond the veil to ravage the world! The only thing to come of this is Jack being regretful for a couple of pages, before the series gets sidetracked and literally never mentions Alafair ever again! Her ghost does briefly shown up to say one line near the end of Issue #6, but after that, she vanishes!

Shan Fong, New Valiant's version of Dr. Mirage, is interesting ,but extremely underutilized, as she too just vanishes from the story. Also, between her appearances in this storyline, and in Shadowman Issue #12, there's zero indication that she has a husband, so the fact that her own miniseries (that started last month) starts with him already dead is bad writing!...But I'm getting off topic. That's an entirely different review for later...

Deadside dude Jaunty is wasted here, mostly just reacting to things (although he does get the best scene of the series, at the end of Issue #7). The Jaunty in the N64 Shadow Man game was a hilarious Irish snake guy who always had something amusing to say, while this Jaunty is just some non-Irish monkey who does not stop saying 'hoss'!

Darque's troops look cool, and their design looks like something from the disturbing Shadow Man video game, which would be really good if not for the fact that nothing else in this version of Shadowman bears any similarity to the game.

The artwork in this story arc is very inconsistent. It's mostly very good, but sometimes the quality really drops, especially in Issue #9. Jaunty fares the worst, as at first, he looks radically different to how he did last storyline. The covers are all really good, save for #9's, which is bland (and the red eye makes Darque look more like the Terminator than an evil necromancer). Also, #7's has a few problems-Jack's pose is weird, like he's about to break into song and dance than fight the hordes of evil, and the mere presence of Shan Fong is annoying when she's not in the comic! She's front and centre on the cover, bigger than the series' main character, and she's not even in the comic! Wow, that's some dumb non-sequitur-ing!

Pop quiz-Name one good Shadowman comic. BBBZZZZZZ! Wrong, the N64 game is not a comic...But you picked the only option even remotely applicable, so you still win. Congratulations. Now go forth and enjoy some other horror or voodoo related things, and forever ignore this lacklustre piece of crap!...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Shadowman #2, #3, #4 (New Valiant)

Shadow Man is one of my favourite video games ever made, yet the rest of the franchise is borderline cursed! The original series was dull garbage, while the Acclaim version was immature, dull, and terribly drawn, the second Acclaim version was merely good, and the present day version, while starting off ok, veered waaay off the rails with the End Times miniseries a few months back!

Jack Boniface is the latest in the Shadowman lineage. Gifted Voodoo powers by a Loa to fight evil, an inexperienced Jack is thrust into an unfamiliar and highly dangerous world as he has to stop a gestalt demon known as Mr. Twist from opening a portal to summon his master Darque from beyond the veil and into our own world...

The story to this four-part opening arc is pretty negligible. The whole plot is basically 'a bad guy wants to come through a portal', and nothing more. No elaboration on who the characters are, or on magic, or what the world of the supernatural is like. There are definitely good scenes in these issues, but the whole isn't as good as its parts. As for Jack Boniface, he's not dull, or unlikeable, but there's not much to him at all, which is the biggest problem to this arc, and ultimately the biggest problem of the series.

The writing is mostly decent, but one moment is terribly cliched! At the start of Issue #2, when Dox and Alyssa come to Jack's aid, one of Twist's henchmen says "You kill the Shadowman, I'll take these two.". Oh, that easy huh? Do you 'guys' normally regularly battle Shadowmen? It's not like they're the most powerful warriors in Voodoo-oh wait....

A scene I didn't like all that much is when the character Dox is explaining magic to Jack. It seems like the writer was nervous about the idea of having real magic in the same universe as sci-fi series such as XO Man-O-War or Harbinger, and therefore attempted a half-assed 'magic is merely a higher form of science' excuse. This is a bit annoying, as when your series' magic has a literal pantheon of gods, as well as an afterlife behind it, you can no longer use the 'this magic is simply a higher form of science' excuse. Now, this is only a bit annoying as this is dialogue from a character trying to explain magic in layman's terms to someone, so it could be that Dox is just equating magic to something Jack will understand and believe easier. It's better to think that, as the alternative paints Dox as a dumbass who knows nothing about the very thing he's devoted his entire life to.

This latest version of Shadowman has nothing in common with the video game, which is infuriating! I'm not asking for a remake to be exactly like the previous 'incarnation', but I wish it would at least utilize some of its aspects, given how great that version was! And no, the use of character Jaunty doesn't count, as this pushover monkey is not Jaunty!

This series' afterlife, Deadside, is pretty interesting, but extremely underused, which is a criminal shame! Speaking of underutilized, that's also the case with the city of New Orleans here.

Onto the characters, Shadowman protectors Dox and Alyssa are likeable, even if there isn't much to them. Mr. Twist is an ok villain, with some decent dialogue. As I said in my Shadowman Issue #1 review, I would call out his wearing of a tuxedo as being stupid and silly...but the Shadowman game is hardly bereft of its own silliness (such as Jaunty, or Marco Cruz), so I can easily swallow this.

This series has the best version of evil necromancer Master Darque thus far, but that's not saying much. The Darque of the original series was dull and boring, whereas the one from the Acclaim universe was an annoying punk. This latest iteration of the character is tolerable in Shadowman's second storyline, but here, he's dull, appearing only to issue a few commands to Mr. Twist, and be annoyed at the end.

Jaunty is tolerable here (except for his constant use of the word 'hoss'), and not as annoyingly wasted as he later becomes. His use later on is insulting to the original Jaunty, but as of this arc, your only question will be why he's now a monkey with a top hat instead of a snake in one.

The artwork here is very good. The covers are pretty meh though. They're cluttered, random, and all favour blank gradient orange backgrounds, which hardly scream horror! There's an annoying panel layout problem at the end of Issue #2, with the faces all over the place during a conversation.

This is a pretty disappointing opening arc to New Valiant's Shadowman series. It establishes little, and we barely know why we should care about anything here...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom #5, #6, #7, #8 (Dark Horse Comics)

Only one more post, and I'll have finished talking about Dark Horse Comics' disastrous Gold Key remake line! Today, I'll be looking at the final four issues of Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom.

Nuclear scientist Doctor Phillip Solar received amazing superpowers when he was caught in a black-hole reactor meltdown. Unfortunately, Tanek Nuro, the CEO of company Lovejoy, and the man responsible for sabotaging the reactor, is angry that Solar has been empowered, as he intended to use the accident to give himself energy abilities. He manages to find a way to recreate Solar's superpowers for himself, and after using his powers to make several people into super-metallic power beings, Nuro sends them after his enemy. Meanwhile, Gail, Solar's love interest and coworker, is also in danger, and Solar has to save her as well as deal with Nuro...

Solar Rise

Solar Rise is a four-part backup story spread out over these issues, and the quality of writing is much better than the rest of the series! That's not saying much, but it's still nice.

There are a few problems with this story, such as poor transitions between the chaos inside the reactor, the rest of the plant, and the flashbacks at the plant. The villain Nuro's plan is also too vague! If it was explained more, then I wouldn't find him to be so ineffectual!

There's a pretty sizable continuity error in regards to Gail. It doesn't make sense that she starts working at Atom Valley the very day before the accident. Previous issues make it clear that she's worked there for a while. Either that, or Phil is head over heels in love (as in, 'stronger than death' love) with someone he's known for four hours, and is an obsessive psychopath! It's the former though. The writing in this series sucks.

The final problem with this story's writing is that there's a character who's railing against Solar's reactor, and he's 'subtly' named Dr. Dingus! I am not joking!

The artwork here (different from the rest of the series) is quite good, and certainly better than the art in the regular story...but there is one big screwup-Doctor Solar before the accident is meant to be fat, yet is drawn slim! Also, he constantly suffers from Youngblood's Disease.

Revelation Part 1: That Day of Wrath

Notable this issue are two really dumb moments! The first is when Nuro watches the recording of Solar getting his powers, and doing so actually affects the past! "I suspect that your virtual presence in this emulation threw off his calculations." says Nuro's assistant Choudhury. This was stupid in She-Hulk, and it's stupid here! In that comic, She Hulk was watching a memory, and here, the evil scientists are watching a recording! That's it! This should not be affecting anything!

The other scene is the dumbest thing I've read in a long while! Nuro sends a reanimated corpse to Solar with a sealed-up black hole, ready to let it loose once it approaches its target. The black hole is freed, and Solar acts quickly, tossing the thing into space before it can destroy everything. In his own words, the situation is now resolved because "There's nothing for it to accrete in space". WHAT?! WHAT?! BLACK HOLES ARE ALWAYS IN SPACE! And if there's one right next to Earth, Earth is doomed! Issue, you fail at science! Speaking of, what moron uses a black hole suicide bomber? It'd grow and pull in all of the planet, rendering their whole plan of taking it over rather useless!

Revelation Part 2: That Dreadful Day/That Fateful Day

Yeah, the copyright page and the comic itself couldn't get the damn title of this issue straight! Mark of quality!

This continues the storyline, with not much happening at all. I mean, there is a nuclear ninja, but it's nowhere near as awesome as it sounds.

A stupid and pointless dialogue exchange this issue is when Nuro asks Choudhury who Solar cares about, so they can take a hostage. Choudhury suggests a few names, eventually settling on Gail's, and he asks if he should arrange her kidnapping...Then Nuro says that he's already arranged for someone to kidnap Gail. Then why did you ask him for suggestions if you'd already knew who to take, and already sent out someone TO take her?!

Revelation Part 3: Heaven and Earth/...When Heaven and Earth

Yes, there was a title discrepancy between the issue, and its copyright page again with this series! The title is stupid anyway, as it's nonsensical with the 'When' and ellipses. When Heaven and Earth what? What was the first part of the sentence? What the hell?

This issue is basically a fight scene. The first page, with Solar trying to get Gail to call the police and failing is amusing, but aside from that, there's not much to enjoy here.

One especially poorly written part here is when Nuro, wanting to fight Solar, has the plan of setting this brawl in a place full of innocents...in a jail! Um, dude, I'm *pretty sure* that Solar won't give two shits about dangerously cutting loose with his powers in a place full of rapists and murderers! And bafflingly enough though, the ensuring fight scene at this location is completely abandoned. Huh?!

Solar is a dumbass this issue. For one, he debates the ethics of hitting a woman who's trying to kill him with superpowers! Shut up and sock her, you dickweed! Priority calls! Especially stupid is that Solar doesn't want to kill these empowered people as 1, he doesn't want to kill people, and 2, he assumes that they were unwillingly empowered (for literally no reason), yet once the fight's over, Solar restores the gravity around the trio to normal, sending them plummeting into the Earth thanks to their super dense cellular structure! Solar, dude, nevermind the fact that you totally just killed those three-What about the damage to the Earth you just caused?! Now, he does bring them back up onto the surface and restore them to normal once the fight is over, but they must have been crashing through the Earth at an insane speed for several minutes, making a hole deeper than the one in Doctor Who episode Inferno! Also, in the previous fight, one of the superpowered people had their arms blown off, and after returning the trio to normal, Solar mentions that he hopes the armless guy is taken to the hospital and treated for his wounds, despite the fact that he's clearly drawn with both arms back in his human form!

Revelation Part 4: ...All Fall Away

Oooh, so that's what the title of Issue #3 connects to!...Yeah, it's still stupid.I rarely like it when two-part stories have the one title separated over issues by ellipses.

This is an extremely poor concluding issue to this storyline. It's anticlimactic, the story thus far has only amounted to 'Nuro wants Solar Dead', and the other problem...I'll get into that later!


This isn't a very well-written storyline at all! It's got a crappy villain, flimsy story, multiple boring action scenes (made boring mainly due to the writing behind them), and an unforgivable conclusion! There's an annoying amount of poor expository dialogue. Some dialogue is just plain confusing! The worst crime of these issues is the extremely shaky science used! In one scene, it even has the balls to dismiss particular legit fields of science as being 'incorrect'.

Solar continues to be a boring hero. We know nothing about him (figuratively, I mean), or why he'd even want to be a superhero. His childhood backstory in the Solar Rise backup story is interesting, but it hardly fleshes out his character.

One thing about this series that's awkward as hell is that the title character's normal name is Solar! With the original Gold Key comics, it's fine, as Solar was never his superhero name, nor were his powers derived from the sun, so there was no confusion to be had. Yet thanks to Jim Shooter's efforts in the 90's, the character's superhero name was changed to Solar. 70 issues later, reverting back to having Solar be the character's real name is just confusing!

The fact that everyone in this series calls Solar 'Red Suit' (constantly!) makes me wonder if Jim Shooter has even read the Gold Key comics! What was Solar's superhero name in that series if not Solar? The Man of the Atom! Y'know, the part of the title that Jim Shooter has ignored for twenty years! You'd think Shooter would know better! Or does he genuinely believe Red Suit, and The Red Suit Guy are snappier titles than The Man of the Atom!

Gail isn't very developed at all, and the fact that she's a quantum scientist, and therefore incredibly smart, plays into nothing. As for her getting together with Phil at the end of the storyline, it's rushed!

Nuro is a crap villain. He's not intimidating, not well-characterised, and while part of the way he gets his powers is interesting, its nonsensically written! By wearing VR glasses showing a recording of a guy getting superpowers in a black hole, this gives Nuro superpowers!

This issue commits a horrible crime regarding its main villain. You know what happens? Nuro's long-suffering assistant Choudhury gets angry and tries attacking Nuro...and is easily vaporised by the series' main villain. Nah, I'm just kidding. Choudhury totally kills Nuro! Nuro is meant to be the big bad of this series, and he's killed in one panel by a glass coffee pot to the head by his assistant! I am not joking! Maybe at this point Jim Shooter knew there'd be no more issues, and decided to end the storyline in the stupidest possible way!

As for Shooter's everpresent misogyny, there's only one possible example of it here, with a scene of a woman's hanging bloodied, naked (albeit censored by shading) corpse. If the writer here was anyone else, I probably wouldn't have a problem with this scene, but given Shooter's track record, I doubt this is a coincidence!

The artwork here is crummy. It's not terrible for the most part, but not all that good either, with sketchy, poorly shaded characters. It's almost Frank Miller-lite in some places, both Choudhury's skin tone and hair colour keep changing from scene to scene, and Solar looks Liefeldian with his muscular structure at some points! The covers, however, are great, even if they are total non-sequiturs.

One final thing of note is these issues' obsession with the word 'accrete'. This whole series won't stop using this word!

In closing, Jim Shooter can't write. He is an editor, not a friggin' writer! This has become blatantly clear to me, and aside from his four issue Mighty Samson run (the final Dark Key series), I only have a scant few issues of Valiant's Solar series, and the Unity crossover to review, and then I don't have any intention to read another thing by this guy any time soon! Thank Heaven for small favours though, such as the fact that Shooter has been booted out of so many comic companies, from Marvel, to Dark Horse (well, that was a failure more than a firing), and Valiant, which is especially hilarious, since he co-founded Valiant! Dude just can't catch a break! Who knew Secret Wars II would be the high point of Jim Shooter's career!...