Showcase Presents Strange Adventures Volume 2 Review

It’s time for a Showcase that I just finished! This is basically the DC equivalent to the Marvel Essential series. Surprisingly enough, this collection doesn’t have any “real” comic book characters as it is really a collection of short stories that tend to revolve around aliens. It’s an interesting change of pace and naturally I tend to prefer action stories, but these issues hold up pretty well.

The collection brings around 20 comics and each issue brings about 3-5 stories within it. The stories tend to only be a few pages long so the climax ends up occuring near the beginning. It’s pretty fun at times since the main characters are extremely clever. They can solve just about any problem in an instant…I miss those good days. New Yorkers really seem to know their stuff in these comics.

One instant change that you’ll notice in this comic is the Government. By “change” I mean that they look a whole lot different here than they do in the modern comics. A lot of the situations force the main character to run to the government and warn them that the planet was about to be blown up. In a modern comic, they’d either A. Not believe him or B. Kidnap him because they already know about the aliens. In these comics, the government takes it in stride and they usually believe him without reservations.

There are essentially no criminals on the planet in this continuity so everyone on Earth is basically trusted completely. If someone tells the cops that they need to spray a new gas over the planet to save the world…they’ll drop everything and get right too it. The whole collection has a lot of friendship themes scattered around and teamwork is typically essential to success. It makes for pretty good reading.

The one problem with having so many stories (or the main problem anyway) is that a lot of them start looking pretty similar. The Earth is tricked into by evil aliens into lowering their guard at least 2-3 times. Aliens invade Earth and are only driven away by trickery a few more times. A heroic alien arrives on Earth to help the humans avert disaster a number of times as well. A handful of the intros are identical as we start with the main character explaining that he’s a science fiction writer, but he never could have written something as fantastic as the adventure that he experienced.

Now, the stories may be pretty similar sometimes, but maybe it’s for the best. After all, the alien stories are typically the best ones. The one subject that tends to really compete with the Alien comics are the time travel ones. One comic sees a man get to look at the future through a machine and he keeps avoiding death by plotting how he’ll escape while also getting rich. There’s a pretty big twist at the end and it’s basically a tragic ending, but the main character wasn’t a hero so it’s supposed to balance out. That was easily one of my favorite stories. After all, I would certainly dodge my death if I knew that it was coming. (I’d skip on the get rich part or do it in a harmless way…)

There aren’t a lot of fist fights in this collection, but I do remember one of them. A Martian invades the main character’s base and attacks another Martian. The main character gallantly jumps into the fray stating that he’ll hold him off, but he’s defeated in less than a panel. It’s sad for the human race, but I suppose that aliens are supposed to be pretty powerful. They tend to outfight the humans physically.

That being said…it’s a different story when you count the American’s Atomic Weapons. It differs from comic to comic on that angle. Some of the enemies do not fear our weapons because they can easily block our attacks or they have something even better. Others are completely defenseless against these powerful objects and that is why they attempt to win through trickery. The government was definitely pretty trigger happy in this era as we discuss the option of nuking the aliens in just about every comic. We actually use the nukes quite often, but they typically don’t work or we chase the aliens off with them.

It would be interesting if all of these stories took place in the same continuity. The Earth would have been invaded by Aliens every week. We even gave up in one comic and ended up selling the Earth for a little sand. Obviously, it was a trick on our part, but it was definitely a risky gambit. We can’t forget the issue from the cover. Those Snowmen aliens definitely meant business! The way that they were defeated was definitely a bit of a stretch for me, but it would be tough to stop them. They were invulnerable after all so we really can’t underestimate them. Get this….The Snowmen actually survived getting nukes by the government! That was easily one of the best moments in the entire collection because the stakes definitely increased at that moment. No more fun and games….things had just gotten deadly.

They were probably my favorite aliens if I had to pick a best villain. They were the best fighters and they nearly came through on their big threats. We had a few giant villains, but they weren’t typically fighters as they came in peace to help us misguided humans. Most of the aliens had a lot more tech than the humans, but we consistently proved throughout the comics that are intellect is second to none. We don’t have telepathy, but we can typically outsmart the villains by faking our thoughts and using witty puns. The Aliens never stood a chance!

The art for the collection is pretty good. All of the characters look pretty solid, but that’s one of my issues with the art. The main characters from the various stories tend to look similar. At least 10 or more comics had identical main characters. One of them even had a Clark Kent lookalike as the main lead. It’s not really the art’s fault per say since thinking up over 40-60 main characters would be difficult, but the designs are definitely reused a whole lot. It’s one of the few ways that modern comics have improved from the older ones. That being said, the art is still pretty good and all of the comics can clearly be understood even though they are in black and white. It also helps the giant insect stories to feel like retro kaiju films.

Finally, one issue also had a homage to Transformers. (Assuming this came out after Transformers…it may have preceded the immensely popular franchise!) Two of the aliens were able to transform into cars and then back into their humanoid forms. They kidnap the main character, but they didn’t count on his car toll expertise and he was able to get the police to stop them. The aliens weren’t very confrontational so they fled, but it was a pretty humorous comic since they looked just like Transformers.

Overall, This is a pretty fun collection of comics. It definitely has a lot of human empowerment messages as we overcome every obstacle from natural disasters to alien invasions. I don’t mind in this case because it works well. Each comic will leave you feeling pretty good about the human race and it was definitely a simpler time back then. I can’t imagine a world where everyone was a genius and there were no criminals. It definitely sounds like an intriguing place, but there isn’t a lot of individuality. The stories can be a little similar so you may not want to read it all in one shot. It is over 500 pages after all so even I had to take a few days to finish it. Some comics are simply better in batches than in one shot and why rush right? This collection should last you for a while and it’s a lot of content for such a great price. Plus, the tried and true formula of the alien invasion never gets old. It’s no Justice League or Avengers, but the stories are fun and that’s what counts. I would definitely recommend it to any comic reader looking for a little danger mixed with supernatural elements in a very lighthearted atmosphere. You’ll also get to see a lot of interesting designs for the various alien species present throughout the issues.

Overall 7/10

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Transformers Classics Volume 5 Review

transformers-comics-classics-volume-5-cover_1377711789 (1)
The final of my retro, retro reviews is the 5th volume of the Transformers Classics series. The original Transformers series was definitely a lot of fun and I’ll miss it. There are still a few more volumes to go before the series is concluded, but it could be a long time until I read volume 6. As always, the Autobots are in a pretty bad spot in this volume. Their numbers have diminished while there always seem to be more Decepticons on the loose. It’s a pretty fun collection with some solid stories.

There are many stories featured in this collection and while Transformers has always done pretty well with keeping a strict continuity in place, we also get some issues that don’t really add to the plot. They’re still entertaining though so it’s not a huge loss. Most of the others do have reprucussions that directly affect future comics as well so you really want to stay sharp as you read through them. I shall briefly give a synopsis for several of the comics included.

The first comic follows good ole Spike as he hikes up a mountain. He doesn’t want to be a Transformer anymore and he’s rejected that way of life to be a normal person once more. Unfortunately, Decepticons show up and Spike’s friend is put in danger. Can Spike really risk their lives just because he doesn’t feel up to the task at the moment? It’s time for Spike to make a choice! I can’t say that I cared for Spike in this issue since he should always be ready for a fight and heroes have no time to worry about being normal. It’s a tough world out there and they need to stay alert. The next comic was a pretty big change in tone as a few Autobots head into an amazonian lair. They were using their humanoid mirages so the Amazons thought that they were not human. Men are not allowed of course, but the Autobot passes the test to prove that he is worthy. Unfortunately, he then lets them know that he’s not human and he basically loses his head during the discussion. Is this really a safe refuge for the heroes? The concept of that comic was pretty intriguing, but it didn’t really have a lot of action so it wasn’t one of the best ones.

The next issue was probably the best one in the collection or it definitely ranks up there at the very least. A few of the Autobots quit the group and decide to strike out on their own. Roadhandler is challenged to a wrestling match and he obliges. He doesn’t want to throw the fight so he wins and then he proceeds to keep on winning the matches. He gets a pretty large following, but then the Decepticons come over to town. They kidnap the fans so that Roadhandler will have to throw the fight against one of them. It’s a diabolical plan, but it;s definitely an effective one. I know that Wrestling fans won’t like the fact that Wrestling is supposed to be fake in this comic, but the battles are still fun and I’m glad that Roadhandler didn’t throw the fight. All’s well that ends well and we even get a moral at the end of the comic. Not bad!

The next story is the meat of the collection as it’s a 4 parter. (Debatably, it could be said to be 5 parts since the issue afterwards deals with the aftermath) Ratchet is feeling guilty about the deaths of his comrades and he has not been able to fix them. A group of new Autobots tell Ratchet that they may have an idea on how to help so Ratchet follows them. He doesn’t contact any of the other Autobots to let them know where he was going and that turns out to be a pretty deadly mistake as the Autobots lead him to Megatron! It was a trap and Megatron intends to revive Starscream among others. Ratchet’s mistake may have ended the war.

Meanwhile, The fake Autobots lead the Autobots into a battle with Scorponok’s forces. Neither side is really in the mood, but it’s hard to exit such a battle once it has started. Both sides clash and Optimus Prime’s group definitely has the edge. Nontheless, Prime realizes that Megatron is up to something so both groups are forced to join forces. Prime is pretty upset about the whole thing and he’s not holding back any longer. The climatic battle against Megatron will resume once again!

One comic gives us the “true” origin of the Transformers. Primus and Unicron had an epic battle and Primus tricked Unicron into merging with a planet so that he wouldn’t be a threat anymore. The problem is that the plan worked a little too well and he also got trapped. Primus built some normal Transformers and that’s how things started. An energy blast hits him in the modern day and he wakes up…this could be tricky for the Transformers. There are a few stand alone issues after that where Autobots travel to various planets to try and find the Matrix, but it’s all for naught. Maybe it just cannot be found anymore.

Aside from the issues, one reason that I really like the Classics series is the fact that the volume does a good job of giving the reader a lot of extra info. Before each comic, we get a fun foreward by the author explaining details about the comic like what they were thinking when it was written or scenes that were cut out. Likewise, there is a lot of writing after each issue where each panel is discussed. It’s a very fun way to read the comics since you really get the maximum amount of enjoyment since you can safely say that you’ve seen the comic from every angle.

The art for the issues is pretty good. The Transformers Wiki typically has an error relating to the art in most of the issues, but it is easy to miss them so it’s all good. A few mixed up colors definitely won’t stop the rest of the collection from looking good and I really miss some of these designs. Bumblebee’s has changed for the better, but the rest of the fighters have never really looked as good as the G1 designs.

One thing that I did find interesting was the use of the “Fake Autobots.” I believe that they called these Decepticons “Pretenders” and it’s an apt description. It’s really a brilliant move on their part and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been tried before. Switching emblems is likely difficult, but I’m sure that it would be easy for Shockwave to invent something to make it possible. The plan worked and the only oversight was that the Decepticons should have expected Prime to quickly take down Scorponok and then put a wrench in the plans. If there were more Decepticons then it would have definitely been a pretty crushing win. I would like to see more robots use this tactic in the future since it could make for a pretty great plot. Especially in the newer comics since there are so many fighters on either

Just about all of the characters were pretty solid. Ratchet was a lot better than usual and Megatron/Optimus Prime are always great characters. The rest of the Autobots and Decepticons were decent and they played their roles well. I can’t say that I really cared for Spike since he really didn’t make the right calls as quickly as he should have. Trying to leave the Transformers just isn’t that responsible when you are the leader of a team.

Overall, This was a solid addition to the Transformers Classics series. We got to Megatron return to fight the good fight and the 4 part epic with Ratchet was pretty exciting. The wrestling issue is an example of a great story that may not work quite as well in the modern comics. It was played seriously and yet it felt like a parody from the start. I highly recommend checking out this comic if you’re a Transformers fan or if you just want some action. It will be a little tougher to really get into the volume if you’ve never read Transformers before, but you have to start somewhere right? We are definitely reaching the climax and it appears that Unicron will definitely be joining the action in the next volume. That definitely sounds fun!

Overall 7/10

Robin (Fire Emblem) vs Captain Falcon

Cap Falcon Robin
Robin is skilled at using magic, but his swordplay isn’t as great as it could be. Captain Falcon was able to take down Lucina and I’m confident that he would be able to defeat Robin as well. Captain Falcon’s physical abilities would just be too much for Robin and the legendary Falcon Punch would instantly break through any shields that he could muster up. Captain Falcon wins.

Anti Man vs Bass

The Anti Man has a lot of power at his disposal and he was able to overpower the mighty Sentry. That in itself is a pretty good feat, but he still won’t be a match for Bass’ immeasurable abilities. Bass has Beast Out mode as well as his Hubstyle so I can’t really see him losing this round. Anti Man wouldn’t even be able to catch him. Bass wins.

Presence vs Rainbow Dash

The Presence may be a being who is more skilled than we all thought, but Rainbow Dash would make quick work out of him. All she needs is one of her quick zoom charges to take him out of the fight. The Presence doesn’t have enough durability to shield himself from such an attack. Rainbow Dash wins.

Stegron vs Spiderman

Stegron joins the blog in this round and he’s up against everyone’s favorite neighborhood Spiderman! I’m sure that many Spiderman fans are not even aware of this villain and I can’t say that I’m familiar with him either. Nontheless, he has some decent strength and speed so he shouldn’t be underestimated. Spiderman wins.

Link vs Captain Falcon

Link Cap Falcon
Captain Falcon looked very impressive in his trailer and we can see that he’s retained his physical power and speed. There aren’t many drivers who can match up to the Captain in a fight. Link’s Light Arrows give him a critical advantage in this round since Captain Falcon excels in close range fighting. It will be difficult for him to dodge the Light Arrows for long and he’ll eventually have to take a loss. Link wins.

Essential Avengers Volume 9 Review

It’s time for another Esssential review and this time we’re taking a look at the 9th volume of Avengers! Their new film is coming up soon so it’s always good to revisit the classics and the stories were pretty solid. The Avenger comics were typically my favorite ones from back in the day as far as Marvel is concerned. This collection does bring an infamous Ms Marvel comic with it as well, which I shall definitely discuss. Even without Comicvine to back me up on this retro review, I definitely wouldn’t forget that one.

There are many comics and plots contained in this Essential. As with the previous reviews, I shall not mention all of them, but I’ll make sure to give as many plots as possible. The first adventure that I shall mention was a mini Vision story in the Tales to Astonish series. The Vision has to help the passengers of a plane, but then he learns of a murder that is about to take place. He has to decide whether to stay in the plane and help an old man prevent a heart attack or he could go and stop the murder. The Vision may have to make the toughest call of his life. Is he more machine than man? That’s the question that we have to think about.

The Avengers Annual featured a story with Arsenal. Arsenal is definitely a powerful Marvel villain and he made for a really good villain. The Avengers find out that this unstoppable beast is in their mansion and now they will have to stop it. The only problem is that this villain’s power is almost immeasurable and Iron Man only barely managed to stop it last time. Luckily, he’s brought along Captain America and Thor (among others) so they are ready this time. It made for an interesting comic and Arsenal was cool. I guess he’s more of a one shot villain than most, but the world’s never too small for an extra powerhouse.

An interesting comic saw the Avengers head to Russia to combat a supervillain threat. The enemies were a group of elemental villains who didn’t seem natural. The Avengers would have to find out how they were created and react accordingly. The villains aren’t what made the comic interesting, but the Avengers’ attitudes about it were. Captain America initially did not want to help because Russia was being attacked. After all, he’s Captain America and he believes that the Avengers are country based. The Beast (considering that he’s typically an Xman and not an Avengers makes things interesting as well) defies Captain America and he says that it’s the Avengers duty to help out anyone in trouble. Captain America grudgingly agrees in the end and then the group goes off to help. (They’re ultimately chased off, but only after they’ve solved the problem) This could have been the first comic where Captain America didn’t act as heroic as we are used too. (Pre AVX days)

The next comic arc proves once again why the Avengers can be a little annoying. Wasp ventures to an asylum after hearing a story from one of the guys who escaped and his tale turns out to be true so she is quickly kidnapped. The Avengers head there, but decide that they can’t bust in because of legal issues. I can’t help but wince whenever I see one of the Superheroes saying that. They should worry about the consequences after they bust in and save the day. Instead, they send in Antman and Yellow Jacket to secretly check what’s happening. They’re quickly defeated soooo….time for Plan C! Who could defeat three Avengers anyway?

After that, the Avengers get locked in their elevator, which makes for an amusing story. This was the calm before the storm as the infamous Ms Marvel comic occurred shortly after. Uh oh….herrrrre we go! Well, as you may already be aware, Ms Marvel quickly has a baby and the process only took a few hours when it should have taken months as in the real world. The Baby immediately begins to grow up and boss the Avengers around as he tells them to gather some tools. The Baby then builds a dimension or time machine. (I forgot, but it doesn’t matter all that much) The baby grows into an adult and he tells the Avengers about how he basically turned his essence into a baby and put himself in Ms Marvel and he’s the one who originally had the baby with her. Now that he is an adult again, he wants to go away with her to his realm. Ms Marvel doesn’t really object to this and she leaves with him, but we have to remember that the guy seems to have some form of telepathy so the whole thing was very suspicious. He did make Ms Marvel forget about their affair after all.

Naturally, the worst part about this is the fact that the Avengers didn’t really do anything about it. They just wished the two of them well and forgot about the whole affair entirely. I can definitely see why fans can’t stand this comic and I have to agree that it was poorly written. I’m not sure what the writing staff was thinking when they wrote it. Nobody is in character and the Avengers should have at least gone with them through the portal or quickly begin preparations to find them. They just forgot the entire matter and it didn’t seem very heroic. This was definitely one of the largest errors that the Avengers have made.

Next, we got to see the iconic Jarvis comic. A bully enters his old neighborhood and it’s up to Jarvis to put him down for the count. What’s a regular teenager going to do to a man who’s helped the Avengers take out guys who could destroy planets? Jarvis is going to show him that you never mess with an Avenger! We also get a comic where Ultron returns to plague the world with his greatness, but it was surprisingly uneventful. Just a typical day with the Avengers.

The final comic was interesting because the Human Torch got to make an appearance. Unfortunately, his flames were not potent enough to put out the chemical flame inside of a warehouse and it was actually draining his abilities. The Avengers are forced to go in, but is this place really safe? One thing’s for sure…this was not a natural disaster!

The art is pretty good and it’s classic. All of the character designs are clear and easily understood. The comics are all in black and white of course since this is the Essential series. I definitely wouldn’t say that there was anything wrong with the drawings and sometimes I miss the good ole days. The facial expressions were definitely a little more life like at times back then.

One thing that always made these Avenger comics fun was the amount of suspense and drama that was added. The characters would always be at the limits of their abilities. The headlines would be startling and the heroes weren’t afraid to panic or say their thoughts aloud. It was a different era and the heroes were typically pretty cheerful. The Vision was not, but he had his own subplot with the Scarlet Witch that was present the whole time and they were at odds for a bit. The Falcon also had a subplot where he felt like the team was excluding him. I can’t say that I sympathized every time. There may have been a few times where I felt bad for him, but the Falcon did overdo it on several occasions. He was mad that they didn’t ask his opinion before going on a dangerous mission, but the Avengers typically don’t ask for opinions. Guys like Hawkeye and Iron Man just volunteer their thoughts whenever possible since they love to be at the head of the group. Falcon just needed to be more proactive in his attempts to let the team know what he thought they should do. Ironically enough, the Avengers asked his opinion next time, but the Falcon gave a mean retort like “What does it matter what the new Avenger thinks!” since he needed to let more missed opportunities go as he flew off… can probably tell that I’m not a huge Falcon fan either. He can be all right, but usually he’s just not very likable for me.

Overall, This collection was pretty good and all of the comics were basically enjoyable except for the controversial Ms Marvel one. The Beast and Wonderman team up wasn’t that interesting either, but it was all right. I would definitely recommend the collection to comic fans and it would be interesting to see what you thought of the Ms Marvel issue. The art is solid and you get to see a lot of the classic Avenger villains test their mettle against the heroes. I would say that Thor’s role is a bit smaller than usual since he is not always around in these issues, but he did turn up for the big battle against Arsenal so that was good. Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor are definitely three Avengers who should always be around. (Of course, Steve Rogers will be passing on the mantle in the current comics and Thor is no longer Thor…but that’s another story of how the current comics like to change the status quo for a few months to draw in fan rage and sales) We are drawing to the end of the retro reviews that I’ve had on the backburner for quite a while. Only one left and then the other reviews will be back to being a lot more thorough and point by point since I can evaluate them better. Nevertheless, this is one collection that you should obtain!

Overall 7/10

Lau Wong vs Bass

bass pwns
Lau Wong may be able to dance from planet to planet and trade blows with foes who can slice moons in half, but he’s no match against Bass. Bass has his Earthbreaker technique and one hit would pulverize the planet. His combat speed is also massively FTL so Lau Wong would not be able to land a hit in. Bass is just too powerful at this point. Bass wins.

Wii Fit Trainer vs Chunk

The Chunk may have a gun at the ready, but it won’t be enough to take on the Wii Fit Trainer! The Wii Fit Trainer is pretty athletic and her hand to hand skills should not be underestimated. The Chunk can fire off as many bullets as he wants, but the Wii Fit Trainer’s final smash will be too deadly for him. The Chunk takes a loss with this round. Wii Fit Trainer wins.