Friday, January 6, 2017

Comics I Read, Mostly Featuring Transformers and Dr. Strange Because They Were On Sale

Happy Epiphany!  At least that's what it is in some religions in parts of the world.  The whole "12 Days of Christmas" thing is supposed to be between Christmas and Epiphany.  Still don't know who wants all those birds and servants and musicians.

Anyway, I've mostly watched Christmas stuff recently so I thought I'd instead review some comics that I bought over the holiday season.

Transformers:  Dark Cybertron:  IDW's Transformers series tries to mesh together pretty much all the non-Michael Bay incarnations of Transformers, including Beast Wars characters.  It can be kind of confusing.  And especially because a lot has happened in the series up to this point.  Starscream is heading a unified government on Cybertron, until Shockwave (who is kind of like a Star Trek Vulcan, all logic and no emotions) launches an elaborate scheme to take over the planet and the universe.  There are a lot of moving parts with things happening on Cybertron, in deep space, and in the "dead universe" which is some kind of netherworld dimension.  I enjoyed it even though I didn't really understand all that happened up to that point. (3/5)

Transformers:  Combiner Wars:  The series eventually continued with the relaunch of combiner teams.  They were Hasbro's answer to Voltron where five mini robots formed one super robot.  The evil Menasor is let loose on a Cybertronian colony and then the heroic Superion is sent to fight him.  But then there are more combiners introduced (reintroduced) like Devastator, Defensor, Bruticus, and Optimus Maximus, which was something that would have been neat in the old series since it features Optimus Prime and four other Autobots.  Like the other it was fun even if I didn't get all the background. (3/5)

Dr. Strange Masterworks Volume 1:  This is the original Dr. Strange series featured in Strange Tales back in the early 60s, written by Stan "the Man" Lee.  Like Spider-Man it started as a backup feature with the Human Torch carrying the main title for a while and then Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD.  Those parts are not included so you just get the 8 page stories of Dr. Strange.  Somehow they became popular despite that they were pretty corny.  The writing was pretty lame.  Everyone uses exclamation points!  All the time!  It gets annoying!  Most of the stories are Dr. Strange fighting his nemesis Baron Mordo, Nightmare, or Dorammadu.  It didn't really pick up until the last six issues or so where there's a continuous story of Mordo and Dorammadu teaming up and Strange going on the run.  Still, it's really hard to imagine how this launched a title popular enough to get a big movie made. (2/5)

Dr. Strange:  The Oath:  This 2012 version written by Brian K Vaughn has an almost noirish feel as Dr. Strange is shot by a burglar armed with Hitler's suicide gun, a weapon so evil it could penetrate Strange's magical defenses.  Saved by the "Night Nurse" (you might have seen her on Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones on Netflix) Strange, his servant Wong, and the nurse go on the trail of the killer.  It soon leads them to a pharmaceutical company and a cure for any disease known to man.  It was fun without seeming generically so.  Strange has kind of a stuffy know-it-all quality that conflicts perfectly with the more down-to-earth Night Nurse with Wong as the intermediary between them.  The story of evil Big Pharma also is pretty relevant to our times. (4/5)

Dr. Strange:  The Way of the Weird:  I think this was the latest relaunch of the title, but with Marvel who can tell anymore?  Dr. Strange faces a threat outside our dimension as some outside force called the Inquisition is tracking down and killing magic users.  This is making magic harder to use and eventually the war is going to end up on Strange's doorstep.  This story is largely a copy of "Spider-Verse" where an evil family was hunting and killing all the Spider-Men (and Women) from other dimensions.  The writing wasn't bad but it just felt generic with the bland, wise-cracking hero.  Pick up pretty much any other Marvel title from 2015 and it'll feel exactly the same.  I suppose being bought by Disney has led to this homogeneous feel. (2.5/5)

Dr. Strange & Dr. Doom:  Triumph & Torment:  This graphic novel from the 80s or something pairs up Dr. Strange and Dr. Doom.  A wizard has a challenge to see who will be the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth.  Dr. Doom shows up because he has some magic ability.  Of course Dr. Strange wins but Doom asks him a boon that he can't refuse.  That boon is to go to Hell and rescue the soul of Doom's mother.  So they go to Hell and fight Mephisto who is the Marvel Universe's Lucifer or whatever.  The hell part wasn't as epic as it could have been but the end was good.  To pad the book's length they add a couple of random Dr. Strange, Dr. Doom, and Sub-Mariner comics that tangentially apply to this, the Sub-Mariner ones mostly because they're drawn by the same artist, Mike Mignolo, who gained recognition for his Hellboy series.  That was kind of lame but oh well. (3/5)

Justice League 3001, Vol 1:  Sometime during the New 52 DC started Justice League 3000, which was kind of like Futurama--with superheroes!  Cloned versions of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc are created to save the universe from "the five" that's like the evil Empire or whatever.  The clones are imperfect, though, without all the memories of the originals and in Superman's case he can't fly or use heat vision.  Anyway, 3001 obviously picks up a couple of months later.  The head of the League has been possessed by an evil Lois Lane who sends them on dangerous missions hoping they'll die.  Meanwhile a gender-swapped Guy Gardner Green Lantern joins the team, in case you thought I was the only one to do that sort of thing.  It's pretty fun but confusing.  For one I didn't read the first year of issues and for another there are a lot of loose threads.  I want to read the second (and I think final) volume to see how much gets resolved.  This volume has a killer ending (pun intended) where Superman literally loses his head.  I'd worry about spoilers if I thought anyone who reads this would ever bother to read it. (3/5)

Amazing Spider-Man, Worldwide, Vol 2:  Peter Parker's globe-trotting adventures continue.  In this volume he battles Mr. Negative in China and then Scorpio in Paris/England.   It's a good continuation of Slott's Spider-Man that has been going for over a decade.  (3/5)

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that really is a lot of Doctor Strange. Haven't read those old Stan Lee stories, but I'm a big fan of the character.

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