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Dave Robbins

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Dave Robbins grew up in the suburbs of New York looking south to the possibilities of The City, later finding potential throughout America. In addition to his contributions here, he is a fiction writer. His stories travel those nexuses where menace and wonder thrive in equal proportions and his pop culture interests live along those same paths. He is convinced that nights in the woods are scary, that little virtue is found saloons and that nothing good ever happens after midnight. These days he can be found wearing some of the same flannel shirts he wore in the pre-grunge era.

Destroyer #2 Review

One of the strengths of Destroyer is that it is not a reboot or reimagining of the classic tale of Frankenstein’s creature. Instead, we are given a different type of tale about obsession. This time with added grief and governmental conspiracies. The gothic despair and injustice still permeates but has a new and more articulate face.

In this second chapter, the original creature has found his way to America and government assassins have found their way to Dr. Baker’s lab. This where the story really starts. Alchemy is just another technology and to some, there is nothing more dangerous than knowledge that can’t be controlled.

This is a brilliant and modern approach to a familiar tale in a familiar place and time. LaValle is subtle and powerful and Smith blends the gothic and technological seamlessly. All in all, this is a marvelous and compelling story. It is a monster story all right, but those who need to be feared are not the creatures.

I can’t wait to see what happens when “the Bride” shows up.

9
Score
Destroyer #2
The Bottom Line
An alchemistic technographic gothic story of a mother’s love and what grief can drive someone to do.
Yes!
Despite the connection to the classic tale, Destroyer is entirely its own thing and masterfully rendered in comic form.
No...
Alchemy is not sufficiently explained.

Grrl Scouts: Magic Socks # 2 Review

So we get some back story on the Magic Socks, all ancient and alien and all that good stuff. And it turns out that both Daphne and Josie are crazy and evil and whoever gets the socks and unlocks the power will rule the world.

This second installment is just as loud and anarchic and wild as the first and even more fun. The violence is over the top, the language smart and snarky. The artworks bold and crazed like a hallucinogenic explosive sucker punch right between the eyes. You’ll never see it coming, but it is bound to knock you out.

Mahfood’s vision is fearless and shameless and a great deal of fun. This is the epitome of punk rock juvenile delinquency updated to the twenty-first century wrapped up in a nice neat packed smothered in gasoline and set on fire. It should come with the warning of “light fuse get away” that everyone will of course ignore, and rightly so.

Grrl Scouts jumps off the page and dazzles with its lack of restraint and is all the more enjoyable for that. It’s not trying to be anything but its own thing and that’s fantastic. I have no idea what will happen next, but it is sure to be outrageous.

8.5
Score
Grrl Scouts: Magic Socks # 2
The Bottom Line
Wild and weird, but with a solid story that’s only just beginning to open up. I’m on board for the ride.
Yes!
Crazy and stupid but in a good way.
No...
Try not to take it too seriously.

Crosswind #1 Review

Crosswind is dramatic and suspenseful in its telling of two distinctly different and very personal tales. On the surface, the narratives might seem predictable, but the story takes some nice turns and I was surprised where this one ended up. At first, I figured this for a typical gangster assassin actioner, but what it has is so much more. The story about either main character is good enough as a stand-alone, but combined, they are even better. We get the gun-toting hitman from hardscrabble beginnings, who has some second thoughts about who he is working for and how he is treated. Meanwhile, there is the harried suburban housewife who clearly needs to be away from her horrible husband.

A random encounter with a magical homeless person clues Bennet the gunman in on something, but before long the mysteriously connected soccer mom and he switch places. The setup is pretty basic. The art and dialogue are both gritty and intense. The suburban nightmare is more frightening than the murder stuff and that’s a compliment. Stagg’s art captures the gruesome, as well as the mundane and Simone’s words, elevate the tension in each world. A crafty start to a promising series.

8
Score
Crosswind #1
The Bottom Line
Nice twist at the end. Crosswind looks to be quite interesting and maybe have some humor in the odd encounters to come.
Yes!
I honestly didn’t see the twist, but I was glad it happened.
No...
The magical homeless guy is just lazy writing.

The Old Guard #5 Review

Fast moving and smart, this is one title that sustains the excitement from issue to issue. The Old Guard is constant and gripping on every page. Regardless of how or why they got to be the way they are I am with them every step of the way. Eternal warriors are nothing new, but these seem entirely believable. World-weary and philosophic, but deadly and unremorseful, except when it comes to family, as it should be. I want them to win. I cringe when they bleed and their treacheries are mine as well.

This badass actioner never slacks, never relents, and never gives up. The pain of living with the affliction of near immortality vies against the need to find something worth living for and after thousands of years, the conflict is crushing.

The life of violence and destruction is met with a betrayal from one of their own, but after retrieving the rest of the crew Andy does the worst thing possible the un-killable traitor: she exiles him. “Life means nothing if it isn’t worth living.” This is one comic worth reading.

9
Score
The Old Guard #5
The Bottom Line
A non-stop thrill ride with intelligence and heart.
Yes!
Firepower.
No...
No complaints here.

Royal City #4 Review

The ponderous reflections of a self-doubting writer return in the fourth issue, this time with some character growth. Pat seems to be able to leave the ghost of Tommy behind, though his mother is still incapable of doing so and his other brother is falling deeper into his self-inflicted chaos.

This soft and moody story maintains the unease of growing older and captures the heartbreak of family in crisis, but does anyone want to read about it? Is there a story there? Well, yes and no. Stories about real people and the ghosts of the past can be interesting and compelling, but this one borders on sentimental and self-indulgent.

Whether the intention is to tell a supernatural or psychological tale, some of the components are there, but they just don’t land with enough power. I’m not easily scared or sufficiently compassionate I guess.

The problem is that although the story appears to be moving it never seems to get anywhere. It doesn’t have to come to a massive climax, but it does have to come to a point.

6
Score
Royal City #4
The Bottom Line
Lemire tells a good story and these characters are recognizable, but I’m caring less the deeper he goes.
Yes!
Intelligent and thought provoking.
No...
A little self-absorbed. The bleakness of the art.

Spencer & Locke #3 Review

The thrilling tale of the hard-boiled detective trying to track down the killers of his childhood sweetheart continues with our hero captured and tortured, but somehow, our plucky gumshoe prevails. In a similar fashion Spencer & Locke triumphs against all odds. The seemingly unconquerable difficulties of the premise fall away with each issue. As unlikely as it may seem, and contrary to reasonable expectations as it truly is, this is an excellent story and exciting comic. The struggle is riveting and the protagonist is insane (probably).

Not only is Locke more fractured than we knew, there are reasons for his behaviors. The nonsensical and fantastical elements of Spencer & Locke are starting to make sense. The detective is damaged, and we are seeing the beginnings of his madness. Guilt and rage drive him and he really is delusional. How would he have survived otherwise?

Yet, despite the drugs and trauma, we get scenes from Spencer the stuffed animal’s point of view. He has agency and problem-solving skills and he is loyal and brave. How is that even possible? This high concept noir detective story inspired by the funny pages continues to surprise. There is depth and psychological complexity in a story about a boy and his stuffed animal and after three issues, beyond any reasonable expectation, the unreal pastiche has not fallen apart. It holds to its internal logic while still delivering on an action packed and thrilling story.

9
Score
Spencer & Locke #3
The Bottom Line
I keep expecting this unique story to fail under its own weirdness, but instead it gets better.
Yes!
The daring and originality is unparalleled. How can anything so dumb come off as so smart?
No...
Is it getting too dark?

Orphan Black Season 5 Episode 2 “Clutch of Greed” | Review

I have to admit I was disappointed that P.T. Westmoreland (Stephen McHattie) was revealed to be an actual person and not a head in a jar. I may still hold out hope as I am not convinced that the dapper man who claims to have known Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is who he claims to be. One thing we’ve learned from this episode is that no one can be trusted. Even the sestras are at odds with each other. They are all compromised and in peril in one way or another. Manipulation by the Neos threatens their solidarity as well.

The tension is palpable. Far more questions have been raised than answered. The most interesting is what is Ferdinand going to do next? He is a loose cannon now an enemy of everyone and clearly meant to be the embodiment of all that is evil. Any support he might have garnered with his charisma and charm are wiped away and can never be recovered. One thing we do know is that Helena’s bebes have the same healing properties as Kira (Skyler Wexler). (Which is a surprise to no one).

The team up of Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) and Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) looks promising. There has always been more to them than we have be allowed to see.

 

8
Score
The Bottom Line
The threads of this twisted tapestry have been knotted in such a way that the truth is more obscured than ever and I suspect that the body count has only just begun.
Yes!Kira has agency. In many ways it has all been about her from the beginning and it is nice to see the focus returned.
No...MK deserved much better.

Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 10 “The Eaters of Light” | Review

Bill claims to know more about the disappearance of the Ninth Roman Legion and almost proves herself right. If not for the inter-dimensional light eating monster, she might have been. Nevertheless, she gives the Doctor a run for his money in all things. She is intelligent and brave and charming and self-sacrificing. She’d make a good Time Lord herself.

The episode has great elements to it. We have Romans who are always welcome, Scotland which is awesome, a dimensional rift and a fairly terrifying monster. The Doctor, of course, walks into the maximum danger with the confidence that things will sort themselves out.

As Bill considers her experiences in the TARDIS and understanding of the Doctor we get a better understanding of him as well. Not just for Capaldi’s version, but rather with an overall sense of perspective on them all. It is easy to see how, to this nearly immortal and all-knowing god-like alien, everybody just sounds like children.

Bill’s assumption of the leadership of Legion survivors is compelling too. Her line “you won’t all die in a hole in the ground” is so Doctor-ish. She’s learned so much and mostly for good. I really hope she is around for next season.

8.5
Score
The Bottom Line
The episode is tense and spine tingling what at the same time another social commentary about communication and uniting in the face of a common and ruthless enemy.
Yes!Bill. Pearl Mackie just owns this character and has created one of the best companions ever.
No...Nardole is either goofy comic relief or a vehicle for scolding exposition. I was hoping that he would be a better balanced character.

American Gods Season 1 Episode 8 “Come To Jesus” |Season Finale Review

This season ending episode brings the series to more of a turning point than a conclusion. Instead of resolution, we get a meeting of the participants in the ultimate conflict before the war actually begins. It is a pause in a story that has already been about preliminaries and the audience is given more of a sense of theater than of battle. The stage is set and the performance is about deliberate posturing, where statements are made, bravado occurs and sides are drawn.

Mr. Wednesday has been a liar and manipulator throughout, and it was never about whether to trust him, but it was about believing in him. He comes to Easter’s celebration and collection of Jesuses to win an ally in Ostara (Kristin Chenoweth) and reveal himself as Odin.

The bigger reveal is that Wednesday put the hit on Laura and Mad Sweeney was the one to do it. Left with Shadow’s new belief, Odin’s hijacking of Spring, and Laura’s need to talk to her husband, there is a lot to sort through, but with nothing resolved, it feels like the season has come a long way, but hasn’t arrived yet.

So, in other words, the finale is a bit of a letdown, not for the episode itself (which is great), but for the season (which is too short). For example, Bilquis could have been more of a player in the game to come. We don’t know enough about where she stands and little about what the other gods think about her.

9
Score
The Bottom Line
Great episode and important reveals
Yes!Mad Sweeney had become a much more interesting and conflicted character than he originally appeared.
No...The Season should has ended with at least the arrival in Wisconsin.

Twin Peaks: The Return Part 7 | Review

Laura Dern in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

The wild eyed Jerry Horne begins this chapter of Twin Peaks: The Return as a spiritual surrogate for the audience. Literally lost in the woods, he is frightened and confused. He mirrors how many of us have felt over the first third of The Return. Things have changed, however. Part 7 reels back the crazy and lands us in more familiar territory among cherry pie and Douglas fir. This is the most conventional part of the show so far stretched to the point of absurdity. We are spoon fed the explanation of the pages in such a way as to make sure the audience is grounded in the reality and in the continuity of the narrative from the original series.

We also have full disclosure on Major Briggs, Yankton Prison and Diane. We even get Good Coop acting like an FBI agent, his muscle memory of his Quantico training taking over when the spike-less Ike tries to kill him by running at him with a gun.

The Great Northern Hotel is revisited as is the Sherriff’s Office (complete with log activated computer monitor). We even get to see Deputy Andy (sporting a Rolex) act like a Deputy. I expect he’ll stumble on important clues in as is his practice. Lynch hasn’t abandoned his out-there style, but has thrown a lifeline to those who feel at sea.

9.5
Score
The Bottom Line
The connections to Coop are drawn. Act two of the story has begun. It is only a matter of time where everything converges at the Great Northern. I am amazed and delighted with each installment.
Yes!Diane exceeds every expectation. Our “interesting cross between a saint and a cabaret singer” has arrived and does not disappoint.
No...Don’t mind me, I’m totally hooked.
General-DC Comics

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I honestly don't even know where to begin. Comics like Superman #23 are the reason I love doing what I do. I've never had a job where the work itself was a reward. My biggest reward has to be this series. I jumped in just after "Superman Reborn" and every issue since has pulled me in deeper. Each time adding a new type of creepiness. This time it's of the A Clockwork Orange variety.