SPIDER-GWEN / SPARKS NEVADA / THOR ANNUAL [Reviews]: Not even a ‘Punk’ could slow this Hottie!

Greetings, fellow church-goers: It’s time to discuss this week’s comics releases, and — as always at GHG — we’ve got some of the best of the best about which to write.

We’re going to dive right in, opening our “squared circle” to a former WWE Superstar-turned-UFC-wannabe (eek!), exploring the works featuring an Office Space meets I, Robot (yay!) , a — completely new feature for you guys — an extended look at a trip to Mars (Holy Congregation, Batman!) — and next, we “revisit” everyone’s newest, favorite neighborhood web-slinger (smmmmmmokin’!)…

The FISTFUL of COMICS is back, baby.

“El Sacerdote” J.L. Caraballo Twitter @captzaff007
“El Sacerdote” J.L. Caraballo Twitter @captzaff007
Spider-Gwen #1 --- Marvel
SPIDER-GWEN #1 – Marvel

Spider-Gwen #1. I have been looking forward to this foray into the Spider-Verse since her initial introduction a few months ago, an following the Spider-Verse saga. Writer Jason Latour (Wolverine, B.P.R.D.), and illustrator Robbi Rodriguez (F.B.P., Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jensen) bring together a great first “official” adventure on her own, and it’s great read.

I’ve been interested in this iteration of the Spider-Man mythos, and it was interesting seeing familiar characters in unfamiliar roles. While some characters remain relatively unchanged (Capt. Stacy is still a cop; this week’s villain, The Vulture, is still gliding around like a jerk), it was fun seeing some other Marvel characters changing it up (Ben Grimm as a beat cop; a bearded Frank Castle — my favorite Marvel character, won’t cha know? — as the new police captain).

The universe is easy to dive right into, and, having followed up most of the Spider-Verse saga, it was a relief to see the repercussions of that adventure coming to catch up with Gwen. Latour packs a lot of exposition and future conflicts, while Rodriguez’s art is not too flashy, but with a great sense of energy and motion. Spider-Man has always been a bright, fun character, and together these characters keep at least that aspect of the spider alive here in this reality.

Marvel Cinematic U: Take note.
Marvel Cinematic U: Take note.

I look forward to following Spider-Gwen; it is a fun twist, a very energetic read (packing in two encounters with Vulture), and ending with one of the serial-type endings that are much more low-key than the Spider-Verse saga (I, for one, enjoy comics like this, where the stakes are high for a character, but not necessarily world-shaking).

5/5 Bodega Bandits Thwarted.

For many nerds cut from a particular type of cloth, The Thrilling Adventure Hour has been a terrific source for entertainment over the past several years. Although the long-running stage show in the form of old time radio is ending soon, the writers of TAH, Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, are now taking Sparks Nevada: Marshal of Mars over to Image Comics for his own ongoing series. A few of us geeks have varying degrees of familiarity with TAH and naturally wanted to weigh in on the new book.

Ryan “Salvation” Scott: I will have a long standing regret that I never got to actually see a live Thrilling Adventure Hour during its run as a stage show. I am, however, a long-time listener of the podcast version that is on the Nerdist podcast network. The idea of a modern old time radio show was irresistible to me, and remained irresistible as I continued to consume the podcast. So, of course I’m curious to see how Sparks Nevada, one of the show’s recurring characters, translates to the world of comic books.

Dana “Dynast” Keels: This is gonna sound terrible — especially after Ryan talked about his love for the show — but I had never even heard of it before too long ago. Derek was actually the one who turned me on to it. Playing on my love for all things classic, a modern old-time radio show instantly peeked my interest. I was fortunate enough (sorry Ryan) to catch one of their live shows before they ended their run. From beginning to end it was fantastic. While being a radio show/podcast, a good deal of the humor is in the visual presentation (facial expressions, held looks, and all that fun stuff). Thankfully, some of the show will live on through Sparks Nevada and I’m excited to see where they go with it. Fingers crossed that that same brand of humor will translate well to the hollowed pages of comicdom.

“Brother” Myke Ladiona: I’ve been fortunate enough to have caught the live show at Largo at the Coronet a couple of times before its end in April and it’s definitely a comedy geek’s dream come true. I’ve been a fan of a number of the resident Workjuice Players through numerous podcast appearances and supporting character roles in some of my favorite sitcoms and movies. “Sparks Nevada” in particular is great because it gives the very underrated Marc Evan Jackson (Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn 9-9, 22 Jump Street) a chance at a leading role. “Sparks” also introduced me to the very talented Mark Gagliardi, as Croach the Tracker, who might be the funniest of the Workjuice Players.

Scott: In the modern age of endless media, there are two things I love above all other things (not counting music) and they are podcasts and comic books. So, the idea of taking one of my favorite podcasts and turning it into a comic book was a big ol’ “fuck yeah” for me. Acker and Blacker wrote a geniusly hilarious character in Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars, but it worked so well as a radio character that it was hard to imagine how that would translate to comics. Well, it translates something like a wonderfully cheesy but very layered Saturday morning cartoon in comic book form, thanks to the well-executed artwork. The show must go on, and it will live on in the form of a very fun comic book.


Keels: I agree with Ry. The comic feels as Saturday-morning cartoonish as it possibly could, in a good way. It helps having experienced the show and being able to hear these voices in my head – I’m not crazy – and apply them to the text bubbles. The dialogue is what you would expect from the characters, layered with tons of witty humor and the artwork is perfect for this type of story. Rest assured, Thrilling Adventure Hour lives on through this comic.

Ladiona: I definitely agree with Salvation about the artwork of the comic. Acker and Blacker also do a great job with capturing the witty spirit of the dialogue intaction in the new medium. It helps to hear the voices of Jackson and Gagliardi when reading Sparks and Croach, but even in the form of speech bubbles the rhythm of their banter remains intact. Overall, the silly spirit of The Thrilling Adventure Hour is well-captured in the comic book medium and we all have an onus, once again, to the Bens who have made sure that their one-of-a-kind show lives on.

(From l-r): Dana, Myke, Ryan; 4/5 Bibles.
(From l-r): Dana, Myke, Ryan; 4/5 Bibles.

Stray #1 --- Action Lab Entertainment
STRAY#1 — Action Lab Entertainment
JaDarrel “The Belser” @TheBelser

Hola GHG Fans! This is your homie “ The Belser” with a quick  review of Stray #1.

With story by Vito Delsante (Superman, Scooby-Doo), this comic follows a Batman-like superhero named The Doberman as he recruits a young  kid named Rodney as his own sidekick, The Rottweiler. Shortly after this joyous development, Doberman is [[[SPOILERALERT]]] killed by a masked opponent. The rest of the comic focuses on the circumstances of Doberman’s death and the search for the killer’s identity.

Now. I enjoyed the story for what it was. The situation between Doberman and Rottweiler reminded me a lot of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl in Kickass. Definitely enjoyed the artwork from  Khary Randolph (Tech Jacket, Justice League Beyond 2.0), Sean Izaakse, and all the others. Hey! I was initially skeptical because of the dog motif, but the storyline has potential. 3/5 Belser Bibles.

Jason "Pope" Sacks @jasonsacks
Jason “Pope” Sacks
D4ve #1 --- IDW Publishing
D4VE #1 – IDW Publishing

Poor D4VE. His job sucks. His wife is sick of him. His adopted son doesn’t care about him. Nothing will ever compare to the time he spent in the War, fighting for everything that feels right and important in the world.

Oh, and did I mention that D4VE is a robot? And that this comic is clever and hilarious and gorgeously drawn, too?

Written by Ryan Ferrier (Sons of Anarchy) and illustrated by relative newcomer Valentin Ramon, this former Monkeybrain online-only comic has come to BOOM! Studios.

If you read this comic in its online serialization, you know how much fun it is and how wild this story gets. If you haven’t, you have a great treat in front of you, as the wonderful art and delightful story combine to deliver a great mix of humor, ennui and action that will alternately thrill you and make you laugh. 4/5 Robot Heads.

THOR ANNUAL #1 - Marvel
THOR ANNUAL #1 – Marvel
Danny "Dangerous Disciple" IG @danielw_w
Danny “Dangerous Disciple”
IG @danielw_w

“Whyyyyyyyy!?!?”I found myself asking that very same question after reading through the three parts of this issue.

The first, a magnificent piece by the always impeccable Jason Aaron (Scalped, Southern Bastards) and illustrated by Timothy Truman (Jonah Hex, Turok), kicked this Annual off with an impressive start, dealing with an ancient-yet-still-incredibly-badass King Thor at the end of time. Very well told in the brief space it was allotted…

And then the issue takes a sharp turn to drizzling shitsville from there.

The second chapter by Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes) essentially dealt with the new female Thor and her struggles with acceptance in her role by the male populace of Asgard with the Warriors Three constantly reassuring her… Hasn’t she dealt with this already? Numerous times? Isn’t this old hat by now? **yawn**.

Best [Comic Book Writer] in the World!!! NOT.
Best [Comic Book Writer] in the World!!! NOT.
The final — and perhaps most cringeworthy — chapter of this annual was written by wrestler-turned-mma “fighter”-turned comic book “writer” Phil “CM Punk” Brooks. To keep it brief, it was garbage. A story dealing with what we would picture frat boy college dorm Thor pre-Mjolnir acquisition spending his nights… In a tavern. Drinking his eyes out. It wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that it was meant as a comedy/spoof that you might see on Adult Swim, where the punchline of all the characters would be them passing out and saying “Whyyyyyy!?!?” Yeah. Whyyyyyyy did I read this?

Right– because I’m a devout Thor fan and Jason Aaron’s chapter is worth the price of admission alone.

2 (out of 5) Shoddy Bibles.
2 (out of 5) Shoddy Bibles.

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