Jurassic League #1 (2022) Comic Review

Do you remember when comics were fun? I do. I enjoy most kinds of comics except for the ones that talk down to me or try to preach some unwanted message in my escapist entertainment. I’m not reading them for that. If I wanted that, I’d spend more time on Twitter or watch the mainstream news. I read comics because I grew up loving them. I read for the spectacular art and fantastic stories. I also read for the compelling characters and their heroes journeys. This might sound controversial but I read comics for fun. In my best Bill & Ted voice, “No Way!”

I appreciate fun, especially when its backed up by a compelling story. While I haven’t been exactly enamoured by the state of modern American comics, particularly the recent output from the so-called “Big Two,” I wanted to share my thoughts on a brand new mini-series from DC Comics. Jurassic League is exactly what you think it is: a Justice League of Dinosaurs. C’mon, what more do I need to say?

Daniel Warren Johnson’s Cover
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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

I’m a big fan of director Sam Raimi, especially his earlier movies. I love Darkman, Evil Dead II, The Quick and the Dead, Spider-Man and the brilliant Spider-Man 2. I’d heard this film was flawed but I still wanted to see it. I mean, I’m a huge comic book fan, too. I’m also an eternal (foolish) optimist who is a sucker for some fancy visuals.

Wakizashi’s Thoughts

Yes, this film is flawed. The basic plot premise is ridiculous. It shows obvious signs of its reported 50~80% of reshoots. But you know what? I enjoyed it. There, I’ve said it. Unleash your rotten tomatoes. I have been honing my ninja skills for the last twenty years, so I’ll probably dodge most of them in slo-mo Matrix style.

I went in with fairly low expectations and came out smiling. People seem to be forgetting what this is: a comic book movie. I went looking for magical battles between sorcerers and a mad-as-hell Scarlet Witch and that’s exactly what I got. There are some spectacular on-screen depictions of magical moments that could be ripped right off a comic book page. And I was happy with that. Easily pleased? Perhaps.

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Ice Cream Man (2018~) by W. Maxwell Prince & Martin Morazzo

Writing: W. Maxwell Prince; Art: Martin Morazzo; Colors: Chris O’Halloran

The best weird original creepy inventive comic book you’re not reading! Ice Cream Man is a kind of Twilight Zone meets The Outer Limits comic book series. Each story works as a one-and-done short story. There are almost no recurring characters outside of the titular Ice Cream Man. The series tackles such subjects as love, family, murder, madness, sex, drugs, music, ghosts, superheroes, sickness, cults, game shows, word puzzles, reality, identity, and on and on.

In an interview with Comic Book Herald, writer W. Maxwell Prince talks about how we tell our children not to accept food or other things from strangers, yet the ice cream man is trusted and accepted. Do children still flock to the ice cream van/truck in summer? Who is the ice cream man? He could be anyone, for example a serial killer, an alien, an escaped prisoner, a spy, an assassin, or even a kindly old man.

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Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country #1 (2022) by James Tynion IV, Lisandro Estherren & Yanick Paquette

As a huge fan of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic, I’m always curious to read any new titles set in the same universe. I bought a copy of Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country #1 which came out today, Tuesday April 12th 2022 priced $3.99. It’s written by James Tynion IV and has art by Lisandro Estherren & Yanick Paquette. Here’s my initial reaction/review of the comic. I will be making a video review for my YouTube channel after I finish work tonight.

*Some SPOILERS for the first issue.*

I’ve read the issue twice and would rate it 6 out of 10, mostly for the gorgeous art. I don’t know what to make of James Tynion anymore. I used to think he was a good writer capable of exciting and compelling comic book stories. Now I’m not so sure. The first three pages of this opening issue read like a creative writing exercise. Tynion uses an abundance of text bubbles to describe a couple of main character Flynn’s dreams in less-than-thrilling detail. From this we learn that Flynn was bullied in high school and she currently believes the world is turning to crap.

It gets much more interesting on page 4 where funnily enough there is no dialogue. Instead we get a purely visual piece of storytelling in which Flynn appears to glimpse something weird and horrific at the party she’s attending. On the dancefloor she sees an obese creature with tongues hanging out of its eyes. It’s a creepy image and acts as a taster of things to come. Incidentally, I’ve heard in interviews that the creative team are returning Sandman to its horror roots, a direction I am looking forward to. Let’s hope they really do it.

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Moon Knight TV Series Episodes 1 & 2: See the Bad Moon Rising?

A few years ago, I read the Jeff Lemire & Greg Smallwood run on Moon Knight (2016). I was already aware of the character who is often referred to as “Marvel’s Batman.” The Lemire run is a really good story by the way and I recommend it. In the comics, the main character is a man called Marc Spector, but we don’t really see him in the first episode. Instead, the focus is on Steven Grant, an alter ego of Marc Spector in the comics. Not forgetting that Moon Knight is also an alter ego of Marc Spector. Or is it the other way round? Yep, alter egos of alter egos. Anyone else confused yet?

In the comics, the Steven Grant alter ego is a kind of Bruce Wayne figure–a millionaire playboy (remember that trope?) who finances Moon Knight’s missions. In the Marvel TV series he is a simpering, whimpering museum worker who gets bullied and disrespected by pretty much everyone he works with. Oscar Isaac plays him as a kind of screwball comedy bumbling buffoon because I think that’s how he was written. It grated on me after a few minutes, as you can probably tell.


Episode 1

*This was my raw reaction straight after watching Episode 1. Please note that I come to this series as a fan of the comic book character.*

“I have a question. Why have they made Oscar Isaac’s character “Steven Grant” such a bumbling, mumbling idiot? He’s like a silly little soy-boy from start to finish, and displays zero masculinity, surprise surprise. He has a weird accent, too, speaking as a Brit. It’s not terrible, but it’s a bit erratic and the tone of his voice is strange. This episode was too long, too slow, remarkably dull and didn’t really tell us anything about his character. Oh, apart from him being a useless buffoon who pretty much everybody disrespects. There’s some very dodgy CGI and we only get a brief glimpse of the Moon Knight costume right at the end of this 42-minute episode. Disney Marvel strikes again! NOT a recommend.”

My Video Review of Moon Knight Episode 1 (5 min)

To offer some positives, both Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke give solid performances, even if Isaac’s interpretation is whacky and weird–whacky like Wakizashi? Possibly. It’s well-shot with some lovely scenery and there’s a clever use of mirrors and reflections. As a Brit, it was refreshing to see London as a main setting. There’s also a nice use of music and songs in the episode, even if the Wham song during the car chase scene takes away any tension or sense of threat. Can you guess the name of the song? It is just a silly comedy after all. I’d hate to see Disney Marvel take anything seriously.


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Kyoto 2022

My first trip in 2 years, it felt so refreshing to travel again. 🙂 You can see Osaka Castle in the distance. The cherry blossoms are blooming at their peak here. It’s been 20 years but they still blow my mind. After walking round the castle grounds, we ate some delicious Korean food in the city. Then we took a train to Kyoto for shopping and dinner in a craft beer bar. It’s wonderful to meet up with my daughter! ❤️

Thanks for reading!

Wakizashi- *Hey Mister Blue Sky, why did you have to hide away for so long?*

Jingo (1997) by Terry Pratchett

jingoism, an attitude of belligerent nationalism, or a blind adherence to the rightness or virtue of one’s own nation, society, or group, simply because it is one’s own. 

Encyclopedia Britannica

Discworld Novel No. 21

It has been a while since I read a Discworld story. Some years ago, I went through a Terry Pratchett reading phase. I started reading the Discworld series in order and got as far as Book 12 Witches Abroad. (I have reviews of Pyramids and Witches Abroad on this blog.) Being a big fan of Sam Vimes, I’ve also read the City Watch books Men At Arms (Book 15) and Feet of Clay (Book 19). Jingo is another City Watch book, and I’ve had it on my kindle for a while. After a rather “heavy” reading experience involving Neal Stephenson, I fancied something light and easy.

Josh Kirby’s brilliant cover art

Jingo tells the story of a recently discovered island halfway between Ankh-Morpork and Al Khali, the capital city of Klatch. The island is quickly “claimed” by each country due to its strategic importance. Following this, in Ankh-Morpork there is an assasination attempt on a visiting Klatchian prince. This worrying event causes the two countries to break off diplomatic relations and the Klatchian prince’s brother issues a declaration of war. It’s not looking good for Ankh-Morpork as they seem to be lacking both an army and a navy. Can Commander Vimes and the City Watch save the day?

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I Am Batman #7 (2022) by John Ridley & Christian Duce

This is the series which has Lucius Fox’s son Tim “Jace” Fox as a black Batman who took the mantle during the Future State story-event in 2021. Batman was missing presumed dead when Jace decided to become “The Next Batman.” The character made his debut last year in a four issue mini-series also written by John Ridley. I read the first issue but it didn’t draw me in. I guess it must have sold well enough to merit this new series. (You might have heard of Luke Fox, Jace’s older brother. He became the character Batwing back in 2013.)

I reviewed issue #1 of I Am Batman on my YouTube channel back in September last year. While the art by Olivier Coipel was very good, the story didn’t really interest me and I didn’t continue with the series. I found main character Jace Fox unlikeable and wondered whether writer John Ridley was purposely trying to court controversy with his character’s attitude towards original Batman Bruce Wayne. Yet here I am six months later writing a review of issue #7. What happened? I think it was watching the new Batman (2022) movie that got me all excited and tempted me to give this series another try. It was also the cover art, to be honest. It really stood out among the new releases. What do you think of it?

Art by Ken Lashley
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Chip Zdarsky Becomes the New Batman Writer

Art by Jorge Jimenez

After my recent rant about the terrible ComiXology Amazon update, here’s some good news from the world of American comics; well, for me anyway. Current Daredevil writer Chip Zdarsky will take over the writing duties of DC’s flagship Batman comic book from issue #125 due out in July. I like Zdarsky’s work, especially his run on Daredevil, so I’m pretty excited by this news. Joshua Williamson has been writing the comic after James Tynion’s 31-issue run ended with issue #117. Despite Williamson sharing his good wishes towards the new creative team on Twitter, you have to wonder if this was always the plan. He claims it was, despite only getting to write seven issues.

Here’s my video reaction to the news. It’s only 8 minutes long.
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Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976) by Kate Wilhelm

“I’m going to dissect your every thought, your every wish, every dream. I’m going to find out what happened to you, what made you separate yourself from your sisters, what made you decide to become an individual, and when I find out we’ll know how never to allow it to happen again.” 

-kate wilhelm

Cover Art by Ed Soyka

The story begins as civilization is on the verge of collapse. The causes, pollution, disease and climate change, are briefly touched on by the author but she keeps them in the background. Instead, her focus falls on one extended family, the Sumners, and their attempts to survive. They have wealth and education on their side. Their isolated setting near the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia shields them from the worst of the global meltdown until a problem develops with their livestock. They are found to be infertile. When this infertility spreads to the people, the end really does seem nigh. Facing extinction, some of the survivors begin experiments in cloning, first on animals then later on themselves.

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