November 20th, 2009

Writer: Jason Aaron
Illustrator: Tony Moore
Genre: Superhero
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Caretaker (alive, left) and her predecessor/grandfather (dead, right).Danny Ketch and his demons.
Johnny Blaze, not taking any shit.Believe it or not, it gets better.

The Caretaker is dead, his granddaughter has taken up his mantle, and Johnny Blaze has had a revelation: he is not a weapon of Hell, but of Heaven. He is an agent of the rogue angel Zadkiel, as are his brother Danny Ketch and the other Spirits of Vengeance. Despite their intervention, Zadkiel and his host have sieged Heaven, sending reverberations felt throughout the world. Following their battle with the Divine, Blaze, Ketch, and the new Caretaker have parted ways, and the stories in Ghost Rider: Trials and Tribulations follows each of them as they try to find their way alone.

It’s rare that I buy the collected edition of any story arc, much less one from a main-universe on-going book from Marvel or DC, but Trials and Tribulations includes Ghost Rider #35, my favorite single issue of 2009. I have all of the issues, but the collected edition makes it easier to revisit Tony Moore’s twisted art and the brash swagger of Jason Aaron’s writing.

June 17th, 2009

It would seem that, thankfully, Jonathan Hickman hasn’t been completely devoured by his new Marvel overlords, and eight months since issue #2 shipped, A Red Mass For Mars #3 is finally coming out — TODAY! My copy won’t arrive until next week, but I thought I’d throw out a reminder. If you aren’t familiar with A Red Mass For Mars, I first wrote about it for Comic Tips almost a year ago, before Comic Tips was even a thing.

May 21st, 2009

Cover of The Punisher #58Valley Forge, Valley Forge is the final story that Garth Ennis wrote for The Punisher which spanned issues #55 – #60. The story’s art was done by Goran Parlov, with covers by Tim Bradstreet, and has been collected in a TPB as Punisher MAX Vol. 10 by Marvel.

Valley Forge, Valley Forge features two stories in one which parallel each other throughout the book. On one hand, and foremost, there is the story of Frank Castle who, with the help of Nick Fury, discovers that the source of the recent attempts on his life are eight senior Army and Air Force officers that have been trying to recover some damning evidence which Frank has come to possess. On the other, there’s a story told through a book from which this story’s name is derived, “Valley Forge, Valley Forge: The Slaughter of a U.S. Marine Garrison and the Birth of The Punisher”. Therein, author Michael Goodwin tells a Vietnam story as the brother of a soldier who served in a platoon under the leadership of Captain Frank Castle.

Though it was difficult to choose which Punisher story to feature, I was sure it would end up being one of Garth Ennis’. This may well be my favorite Punisher arc that he’s written, rivaling even those done with Steve Dillion. Valley Forge, Valley Forge marks the end of a sixty issue run on Punisher MAX, so although it ties up much of what Ennis laid the groundwork for over the years, there aren’t many references made that will go over your head. It’s a story that can stand alone, and it’s a must-read if you’re at all a fan of The Punisher.

April 2nd, 2009

Transhuman Vol. 1Transhuman is a four-issue science fiction comic book mini-series written by Jonathan Hickman, with art by J.M. Ringuet, published by Image Comics. It was collected into a trade paperback in January 2009.

Transhuman is a story about genetic engineering in humans told in the style of a mockumentary. Think This Is Spinal Tap, but not hilarious. Although a certain dark humor is apparent throughout, Transhuman takes a more serious tone as narrator Heinrich Dowidat guides readers through the story of two corporations racing to upgrade Humans to Posthumans. Along the way Heinrich gets first-hand accounts from the scientists, the suits, and test subjects that were involved in the genetic enhancement projects. Ultimately, Transhuman is a story about people, their ambitions, their hidden agendas, their politics, their spite, and their greed. It’s about capitalism.

Transhuman, just as Jonathan Hickman’s other works, blew my mind. Though beautifully illustrated by J.M. Ringuet, the book also features several of the signature layouts that Hickman’s books are famous for. Just as is the case with The Nightly News and the unfortunately scheduled A Red Mass For Mars, I can’t recommend Transhuman highly enough.

June 9th, 2008