Archive for comic books

2019 Year End Honorable Mentions – Books/Comics

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report with tags , , , , , on January 15, 2020 by Paxton

YE Book Report

I posted my favorite books/comics of 2019 list a few weeks ago.  I had a few other books/comics that, while I didn’t feel they should have made the main list, I still want to talk about.  So, here are my Honorable Mentions of 2019.

Let’s do books first, then I’ll do some comics.

Legion
Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson
– I’ve read Brandon Sanderson before. I read the first book of his Mistborn trilogy for High Fantasy Month, which was pretty good, as well as his entire Reckoners Trilogy, which was fantastic (it made my best list in 2017).  So I have been looking for more of his books to read and came across two novellas that he wrote several years ago.  The first novella was called Legion, and the sequel was called Legion: Skin Deep.  They were about a man named Stephen Leeds.  He’s a genius, but the way his mind manifested this genius was to create what Leeds called “aspects”.  These aspects housed the knowledge and information he learned.  And each aspect carried a different set of knowledge and skills as well as a personality.  Similar to the movie A Beautiful Mind, I guess, but these stories treat the condition as kind of a super power.  Sanderson collected those first two novellas together into this book with a brand new third story.  And it’s a lot of fun.  This could make for an interesting show on some streaming network.  Someone needs to look into that.

7 1/2 Deaths
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
– Published in late 2018, I got this book as a gift for my wife because the premise sounded intriguing.  There’s a party at an old English manor.  A young woman is going to die at the end of the night, and the main character has to solve it in seven days.  But every day, she wakes up in a different party goer’s body at a different time of the day.  It’s sort of like Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day.  It’s a very interesting story that is structured in a non-traditional way.  It can get confusing and I’m not 100% sure what fully happens at the end, but the read is a lot of fun.

Hot Rock
The Hot Rock (Dortmunder #1) by Donald Westlake
– Back in 2015, when I did the Invisible Man for AWESOME-tober-fest, I read a Donald Westlake novel called Smoke. I liked it, but even before I read that, I was aware of Westlake’s heist novel The Hot Rock from 1970.  I may have even already owned it at that point.  But I didn’t read it until this past year.  And it’s really great, actually.  It’s a fun heist novel that’s sort of a working man’s Ocean’s 11.  The main character is John Dortmunder.  He has just been released from prison and his right hand man approaches him, after JUST picking him up from getting out of jail, with a job.  Dortmunder reluctantly agrees to the heist and everything that can go wrong does go wrong and they wind up having to steal the the thing they are hired to steal at least three different times.  I really enjoyed this book and want to continue the series, as Westlake wrote like 8 or 9 Dortmunder novels.  This book also led me to a movie adaptation I didn’t even know existed starring Robert Redford and George Segal.

Jaws Jaws 2
Jaws by Peter Benchley/Jaws 2 by Hank Searls
– I’m going to cheat a little and put two books here.  I had to mention the Jaws books.  I covered both of these books for the I Read Movies podcast in Summer 2019 and I was pleasantly surprised by both.  First of all, everyone pretty much trashes Benchley’s original novel because it’s not as good as Spielberg’s movie.  Which is true, the movie is better.  HOWEVER, Benchley’s novel is a very pulpy, 70s novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.  The characters are a lot less likable in Benchley’s book than in Spielberg’s movie, which may be the crux of people’s issues with the book, but it makes for an interesting story.  I’m mainly speaking of Mike and Ellen Brody as being mostly unlikable (you’ll wonder why they are even married), but Hooper is also a rather unlikable, douchey, just out of college, rich kid.  It makes for a fascinating collection of characters and a really fun read.  Yes, the movie is better, but don’t sleep on the Jaws novel.  I’ll say the same for Jaws 2.  Searls’ story really follows the events of the first movie, but it also doesn’t completely ignore the events of the novel.  And since Searls also wrote Jaws the Revenge, that book fits into this series like a jigsaw puzzle piece.  The whole Jaws cycle of novels are totally fun and well worth a read.  Or, you can listen to me talk about them all on the I Read Movies podcast.

Now on to comics.

Savage Avengers
Savage Avengers by Gerry Duggan
– I’m a fan of Gerry Duggan. He and Brian Posehn did an amazing run on Deadpool which started (for me) with Deadpool: Dracula’s Gauntlet (Best Books I Read in 2015) and continued into the Marvel Now Deadpool series.  Then Duggan did a zany run on Uncanny Avengers that I really enjoyed. He even wrote a somewhat sequel to Dracula’s Gauntlet called Mrs Deadpool and the Howling Commandos which I thoroughly enjoyed.  So when I saw he was doing an Avengers spin off with Wolverine, Punisher, Venom, Brother Voodoo and Conan, I thought, this is something I need to check out.  And this eclectic collection of characters totally works.  I’ve really enjoyed the first volume of this series and want to continue reading.  I love when writers take these totally wacky groups of characters and turn them into a wacky team book.  Kelly Thompson did it with the most recent West Coast Avengers.  Duggan did it before with Uncanny Avengers.  Definitely worth a read.

Avengers 1 Avengers 2 Avengers 3
The Avengers by Jason Aaron
– Jason Aaron has become one of my favorite comics writers.  His Thor run was nothing short of phenomenal.  It showed up multiple times on my best of lists.  Aaron also wrote the first few years of the 2015 Marvel Star Wars title which was really, really awesome, and he did a great take on Dr Strange that same year in 2015.  So when I heard he was taking over the main Avengers title, I was pretty excited.  And for the most part I’ve really enjoyed some of the stuff he’s done.  Black Panther is the leader.  I love that Panther creates a covert subset of the Avengers filled with all of these B level characters you haven’t seen in years.  Blade joins the team for another “War of the Vampires” story arc.  Hell, Thor and She-Hulk kind of start dating…sort of.  It’s a bunch of cool ideas that it seems like Aaron is having fun with, but also I’m having fun with.

Black Barn
Gideon Falls Volume 1: The Black Barn
– I’m a pretty big fan of Jeff Lemire.  He’s shown up on this list many times.  Here’s another one.  This is a straight up horror comic.  It involves the legend of the Black Barn, that has shown up throughout history bringing death and madness in its wake, and ensnaring the lives of two different men.  The book is drawn by Andrea Sorrentino who frequently partners with Lemire and I love these two together.  This book reminds me a bit of Joshua Williamson’s Nailbiter series, which I loved.  Very atmospheric, very dark.  I’ve only read the first volume but I will eagerly be reading more.

JH Time Police
Jughead’s Time Police
– So last year, the original 1990 Jughead Time Police series made my best of list.  This year, we got a reboot of that series.  Written by Sina Grace.  And it’s actually pretty good.  It’s funny, and it coincidentally uses a plot device I thought of when doing an episode of Nerd Lunch back in Sep 2018.  Obviously totally coincidental, but I love that someone else had that idea too!  I’m a big fan of Jughead, especially his reboots in the “new Archie” universe.  This is a good addition to those stories.

Those are some of the other books/comics I felt I wanted to talk about that didn’t necessarily make my “best of” list.

2018 Year End Honorable Mentions – Books/Comics

Posted in books, comic books, pop culture with tags , , , , , on February 4, 2019 by Paxton

YE Book Report

So you read my movie/TV Honorable Mentions list for 2018 (or maybe you didn’t).  Regardless, now it’s time for me to list out some books and comics that didn’t make the favorites list but I still want to talk about in some way.

Let’s do books first, then I’ll do some comics.

Origin
Origins – Dan Brown
– This is Brown’s latest Robert Langdon novel. *Long loud sigh* I really liked the first two Langdon books, Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I really didn’t like the third book, The Lost Symbol. I kind of liked Inferno, especially in how it ends the book with the implication that Langdon didn’t actually save the day. But rather than another Langdon sequel, I’ve longed for Brown to write more standalone novels akin to Deception Point and Digital Fortress. Instead, we get this book, which addresses *NONE* of the consequences of the previous book that I thought were so interesting. There was even a spot at the end of Origin where Inferno could actually have come up. But it doesn’t. Consequently, I hate this book with the lava-like fury of Apokolips itself.

RPO
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
– I wanted to talk about this in my previous list, but it was my third re-read of the book, so it was ineligible. This book has had an interesting journey for me. I *loved* it the first read. Then I listened to Wil Wheaton’s audio book version and I almost hated it. Then this particular re-read I swung back around to liking it again. I have some issues in the beginning, particularly with characterizations of certain people but I love how the world is setup and I love the Oasis.  And the mechanics of the egg hunt.  I’m looking forward to the sequel that Cline is supposedly writing.

Oracle Year
The Oracle Year – Charles Soule
– I’ve talked enough about stuff I didn’t like. How about something I *did* like that very nearly made my favorites list?  I’m a fan of Charles Soule’s comic book writing.  So I was very interested when he released his first novel.  The premise is: one day, a young man wakes up with 180 prophesies in his head.  He writes them down and with his friend, tries to figure out how best to use them.  He starts a website to keep himself anonymous, it becomes a sensation and suddenly he’s dealing with multinational corporations and governments that will stop at nothing to learn his secrets.  It’s a pretty engrossing read that I enjoyed all the way to the end.  No, it doesn’t answer every question I maybe would have liked answered, but it did its job and I really liked the book.  I’m looking forward to any more novels Soule wants to throw our way.

Landover trilogy
The Magic Kingdom of Landover Volume 1 – Terry Brooks
– I have this omnibus that contains the first three books in the series. I didn’t read all three of them last year. Just the third one. And while none of these three books made their respective years’ favorites list, as a group they are actually pretty good.  It’s an interesting take on fantasy.  A lawyer, sick of living the “lawyer life”, wants to get away.  He finds an ad squirreled away in an auction catalog for the purchase of the magical land of Landover.  He’s intrigued, gets his affairs in order, buys the land and travels to Landover, which exists in a different reality, to become its king. And it’s nothing like he had imagined.  I enjoyed the characters Brooks created in this series as well as the land of Landover itself.  And the rules by which the King of Landover must live.  It’s a fun three book cycle that has two more books in a second omnibus and a sixth book that was released several years ago.  I hadn’t originally planned on it but I’ll probably try the fourth book at some point.

Now on to comics.

New Superman
New Super-Man Volume 1: Made in China
– This was a total surprise to me.  I didn’t understand the point of this. Then, I actually thought I’d give it a shot because the more I thought about it the more I was intrigued where they were going with this.  And it’s actually pretty good.  China, feeling like they are falling behind in the super hero department find a way to duplicate powers in certain human beings.  So they create their own Superman, but will they live to regret the person they chose to *be* New Superman?  This very much reminds me of Greg Pak’s Totally Awesome Hulk.  It’s fun and funny.  I liked it a lot more than I expected.  Looking forward to volume 2.

DD
Daredevil Volume 1: Devil at Bay
– This is Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s initial run on Daredevil.  If you remember, I put Waid and Samnee’s Black Widow series on my year end list back in 2017. I said then that I need to check out their previous Daredevil run. So I did. And I didn’t like it. I love both these guys, but I just couldn’t get into this run. I think I just don’t like Daredevil. I had a similar problem getting into Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s run on Daredevil and that run is revered by many comics fans.  I don’t know what to tell you, I tried.  The Charlie Cox Netflix series is great, but I just don’t like Daredevil comics, I guess.

Hex
Hex
– This was a 1985 reboot of the western character Jonah Hex. I had a few issues of this I bought off the rack back in the day. I was intrigued by the post apocalyptic premise featuring the formerly western hero. It ran for about 18 issues back in 85-87.  I read the first 6 last year.  I’m hoping to read the next 6 this year.  It takes place in the distant future but somehow Batman shows up in issues 11-12.  I have to know how that happens.  Anyway, it’s essentially Mad Max meets Paladin: Gun for Hire.  Jonah Hex wakes up in the distant future.  It’s post apocalyptic, after the third World War.  Hex is part of some rich guy’s zoo, but he escapes and roams the land helping out people and fighting off mutant bikers.  It’s not bad.  It’s different.  I won’t say it’s excellent, but it’s definitely an entertaining read.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: The Original Ghost Rider (1949)

Posted in comic books, Frankenstein, Genres, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, Western with tags , , , , , , on October 26, 2017 by Paxton

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Everyone knows Ghost Rider. The flaming skull. The Hellcycle. Penance Stare. Hell, just last week I posted a Cavalcade Comics cover featuring the motorcycle riding demon fighting the Headless Horseman.  But did you know that Ghost Rider was originally a supernatural western hero?

Back in 1949, Magazine Enterprises was publishing a western comic called Tim Holt: Cowboy Star of the Movies.  In issue #11, a backup story was introduced featuring the ghostly first appearance of the Ghost Rider.

The story was written by Ray Krank and drawn by Dick Ayers. It told the origin of the Ghost Rider.  Rex Fury, aka the Calico Kid, is ambushed by renegade Indians.  He fights the attacking braves while saying classy things like this:

fire water

It *was* 1949.  Anyway, the Indians’ numbers eventually overcome the Calico Kid and they throw him and his Chinese manservant, Sing-Song (I’m not even joking.  1949, guys.), into the “Devil’s Sink”, a bottomless whirlpool from which no one that has fallen in has ever returned.  Except Rex Fury.  After somehow washing up inside a hidden cave system, Rex decides to come back as the spectral Ghost Rider to fight crime and get the men who sent him to his watery grave.

Ghost Rider would appear in Tim Holt a few more times before, in 1950, getting his own title.

For this new title the character was again drawn by co-creator Dick Ayers. The first issue retold the character’s origin from Tim Holt #11 but with new art and an expanded story. This time they expanded on his time in the Devil’s Sink.  Instead of washing up in a hidden cave system, he enters something like the afterlife, or Purgatory.  While there he learns skills from famous Western heroes like Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane, Kit Carson, etc so he can return to the living and fight evil.  They even give him the suit.

The title was a different type of Western and the Ghost Rider was a different type of Western hero.  The book was essentially a horror title.  The stories pitted our hero against a motley assortment of ghosts, monsters, cursed treasure, witches, and demons.

I’ve read a few issues of this title and there are some fun issues. Ghost Rider even manages to meet another of my AWESOME-tober-fest theme monsters, Frankenstein.  In issue #10.

The character was a big hit for Magazine Enterprises for nearly a decade until the company went bankrupt. In 1967, after the trademark on the character had expired, Marvel Comics released their own almost exact copy of the character in his own title written by Roy Thomas and again drawn by Dick Ayers.

Unfortunately Marvel stripped out all of the horror and supernatural elements and made Ghost Rider a more traditional western gunfighting hero.  Several years later, after Marvel introduced their motorcycle riding demon version of Ghost Rider, they renamed this Western character Phantom Rider.  Phantom Rider would team up with the new Ghost Rider several times for Marvel.

For Halloween a few years ago I did a Cavalcade Comics cover featuring a meet up of the Original Ghost Rider and the New Ghost Rider.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2014)

Posted in comic books, monsters, pop culture, witches with tags , , , , , , on October 23, 2017 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2011

Here we are, the home stretch of AWESOME-tober-fest 2017. Usually, for the last week run up to Halloween I’ll do what’s called “Greatest Hits” articles where I’ll revisit previous topics I’ve done before like Dracula, werewolves and Frankenstein.  However, this is the 10th year so I thought I’d do something different.  This week, I’m covering things I’ve not yet had a chance to cover for AWESOME-tober-fest.  Things I’ve always wanted to cover.  Things like witches, Bigfoot and the Devil.  So, let’s get started with a topic that I very nearly used the last two years.  Witches.

Today for witches, I decided to cover the Archie horror comic, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.  It’s a sister comic to the popular Afterlife with Archie.  It seems not as many people are talking about this comic plus I believe the CW just announced they are spinning off a show called The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina from their popular Riverdale show.  I haven’t seen Riverdale yet, but from what I read they are adapting this comic for the TV show.  Which really makes me interested to check out Riverdale.

Chilling Advs of Sabrina

Anyway, back to the comics. I’ve read the first volume of Afterlife and I liked how they totally re-imagined the Riverdale characters. It was just solidly written, and drawn, so when I saw they were doing the same to Sabrina, I jumped on board.

Sabrina 04 Sabrina 05

This comic is very similar in tone to Afterlife.  It’s dark.  It’s gruesome in parts.  It leans heavily on the witch-y origins of Sabrina, her aunts and her father.  Sabrina is a half witch.  Her father was a warlock and her mother was mortal.  It’s very much a coming of age as she tries to adapt to school with a boyfriend and in her other life as a burgeoning witch.  She’s forced to make several decisions about her life and she has to deal with the gruesome consequences.

I really like it.  It’s different.  It’s interesting.  I’ll be interested to see how the CW adapts this material because from what I can understand they are going with the “witches are real” angle.  I like the comics’ “ancient order of witches” backstory including old world laws and even a Witches’ Council but I find it hard to believe that the CW will lean as heavily on the “witches communing and serving the devil” aspect as the comic does.  That’ll be a delicate dance to do for a young adult TV show.

I don’t think the events in this comic exist within the same universe as Afterlife.  We get appearances in this comic from Betty and Veronica a few times, Archie, Reggie and even Jughead shows up in a quick cameo.  Plus I know Sabrina shows up in Afterlife in at least one issue but I don’t know the context.  So there’s lots of crossover but I think they are separate universes.  One being inspired by the other.

That being said, I can definitely recommend giving this title a try.  Especially if you’ve tried the Afterlife title and like it.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: Ghosted by Joshua Williamson (2013)

Posted in comic books, ghosts, monsters, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2017 by Paxton

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Today I want to talk about a comic book called Ghosted. It was released in early 2013 and was written by Joshua Williamson and drawn by Goran Sudzuka.

Ghosted is about a professional thief, Jackson Winters, who is said to be able to steal anything. During Winters’ previous heist something went horribly wrong, his entire team was killed and he found himself in jail. Winters is busted out of jail by the very wealthy Markus Schreken to do a job. Markus is a collector of all things occult and supernatural. He wants Winters to break into the legendarily haunted and soon to be demolished Trask Mansion to steal a ghost.  Winters reluctantly agrees if he can pick his team.  But amidst doing the job, Winters discovers that several team members have other agendas and Markus’ task may not be as simple as first thought.

The story is rich with atmosphere. The characters are interesting. The plot is super exciting. Twists and turns, revelations, and double crosses.  It always keeps you guessing.  And with the progression of each volume, the stakes and the epicness of the world just increases.  It gets f’n BONKERS by the end.  The series ended on issue #20.  And it’s so much fun.  I definitely recommend this as a read.

I don’t remember how I first found out about Joshua Williamson. I think I’d read about Ghosted online sometime back in 2015. I thought it sounded like a “supernatural Ocean’s 11” and was immediately taken with the idea, so I read the first two trades. Right after this I started reading everything I could find by Joshua Williamson; Nailbiter, Robocop, Birthright. Devoured them all.  Then I eventually finished the series when the final two Ghosted volumes were released.

Williamson is great at darker tone type stories.  Nailbiter is a big recommend.  But if you want another “ghostly” tale from Williamson check out his Disney Kingdoms: The Haunted Mansion four issue series.  It’s pretty great too.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

Cavalcade Comics #14 – Kamandi and Thundarr the Barbarian

Posted in cartoons, comic books, nostalgia, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on August 14, 2017 by Paxton

Cavalcade Comics

I’m in full on prep mode for AWESOME-tober-fest 2017 right now. It’ll be my 10th year doing it and I’ll be talking about Ghosts!

ATF 2017

I have a full slate of stuff lined up; books, movies, comics, and cartoons. It should be a lot of fun. I also have, as usual, a monster/Halloween themed Cavalcade Comics cover ready to go. But before we get there, my friends, I have a completely different Cavalcade Comics cover for you.

My good friend and Hellbent for Letterbox co-host Michael May started up a Thundarr the Barbarian podcast called Thundarr Road where they are following the journeys of our favorite barbarian as he traverses his way through the apocalyptic wasteland of future Earth. However, they aren’t doing it in episode order, they are following his journey geographically as if he actually made the journey from future Manhat all the way across the country west. It’s an interesting journey and it’s been fun so far. In the very first episode they had mentioned the similarities to an old 70s Jack Kirby comic called Kamandi and I thought that was a great comparison and it would have been awesome to see these two characters together.  And it’s kismet as Jack Kirby actually did early character designs on the Thundarr cartoon.

So, without further ado, here is the team up between the Jack Kirby Thundarr and Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth.

These guys would totally be post-apocalyptic besties. You could almost imagine that they would have met except Kamandi’s post-apocalyptic world was ruled by hyper intelligent animals and Thundarr’s world is ruled by wizards.

For the Thundarr, Ookla and Princess Ariel in the cover I used one of Kirby’s Thundarr drawings.

Kirby Thundarr

As I said, Kirby was brought on in like 1979-1980 to do character designs for the show.  There are several of these drawings out there.  As you see I had to find an appropriate Sun Sword and add it to Thundarr’s hand.

Kamandi actually comes from Kamandi – The Last Boy on Earth #2 (1973).

Kamandi 02

If you look in the background of my cover, some of that stuff comes from Kamandi #1 (1972) as well as Kamandi #2 (1973).

So I hope you enjoyed this cover as much as I enjoyed making it.  And go check out Michael May’s Thundarr Road podcast.  It’s a lot of fun.  And stay tuned for the 10th annual AWESOME-tober-fest Halloween celebration in like a month!

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Angel vs Frankenstein (2009)

Posted in comic books, Frankenstein, Halloween, holiday, horror, monsters, TV shows, vampires with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2016 by Paxton

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Back in 2011, when I did Dracula/vampires for my theme, I covered the appearance of Dracula in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This included several comic book appearances with Buffy and Spike.  So, I thought I should next cover another Buffy character teaming up with another classic monster.  Let’s see if this one fares any better.

In 2009, IDW released a one-shot called Angel vs Frankenstein. It was written and drawn by the great John Byrne.

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The story takes place after Mary Shelley’s novel, which we get a brief recap of in the comic. It also takes place before Angel is cursed by the gypsy to have a soul.  So, after Frankenstein discovers Victor dead in the arctic at the end of Shelley’s novel, he decides to return to his home to claim the right as the last heir of Frankenstein.  However, the monster realizes he can’t do it alone, so the monster hires Angelus to return to Castle Frankenstein with him to help. However, Angelus has different ideas and throws the monster out of the stagecoach and over a cliff.  He then goes to the castle to claim the fortune for himself. But the monster didn’t die, and it makes its way back for his revenge. Queue Frankenstein vs Angelus fight.

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It’s a pretty good story. I like the setup. I love Byrne’s art. I enjoyed reading it. It’s only a one-shot, so it’s short, but Byrne makes the most of it.

Then in 2010, IDW released a sequel called, appropriately, Angel vs Frankenstein II.  This one-shot was also written and drawn by John Byrne.

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This takes place many years after the first comic. Angelus is now just Angel. He’s in America and working as a janitor at a mental hospital. He discovers the monster bound up in a hidden set of rooms in the hospital. Angel tries to sort out the mystery of how the monster got there but when the monster sees Angel, he goes off on a rampage thinking it’s Angelus and Angel has to stop him from tearing apart the city. We also learn a few secrets about the nature of this Frankenstein monster.

angel-vs-frankenstein-02-0020 angel-vs-frankenstein-02-0024

Again, this is a good, if a bit more understated comic story. It’s another one shot, but Byrne makes good use of the characters and his art is great. I like the wrap up of the Frankenstein monster here. I’d definitely recommend these comics to a fan of Angel.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.