GREEN LANTERN/HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SPECIAL #1/ Written by MARK RUSSELL & J.M. DEMATTEIS/ Pencils by RICK LEONARDI & TOM MANDRAKE/ Inks by DAN GREEN, ANDRE PARKS & TOM MANDRAKE/ Colors by STEVE BUCCELLATO & HI-FI/ Letters by WES ABBOTT & TRAVIS LANHAM/ Published by DC COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
Mark Russell returns to the hybrid world of DC Comics and Hanna Barbera to do for The Watergate Era what he did for The McCarthy Era with The Snagglepuss Chronicles. In this case, he teams newly enlisted Green Lantern and recently unlisted US Army Soldier John Stewart with falling star Huckleberry Hound, as the two share a drink and ponder the social situation in America before finding themselves in the middle of a race riot.
Russell and Rick Leonardi evoke the spirit of the old O’Neil/Adams Green Lantern comics and do a fair job of mimicking that feeling. You wouldn’t think a story as steeped in a specific era as this one is would prove to be so timely, yet Russell’s script draws parallels between the backlash against the Civil Rights movement in the 1970s and the recent rash of white people calling the cops on black people just trying to live their lives. Unfortunately, having two inkers work on the comic robs the story of a uniform look throughout.
The Secret Squirrel back-up story is similarly conflicted. The writing is enjoyable (J.M. DeMatteis’ scripts usually are) but the artwork by Tom Mandrake is all over the place. One wishes that it had seen its own issue rather than being split into four parts in a bid to force readers to buy all of the DC/Hanna Barbera crossover books this time around. Still, the first story makes Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound worth picking up, if you enjoy the old Hard-Traveling Heroes style of topical commentary.
HALLOWEEN MAN: HALLOWTIDE #2/ Written by DREW EDWARDS/ Art by LUCHO INZUNZA/ Colors & Letters by APRIL GUADIANA/ Cover by CHANDRA FREE/ Published by SUGAR SKULL MEDIA/
Review by MATT MORRISON
Solomon Hitch has pulled himself together, but Spring-Heeled Jack is still on the loose and out to eat a few more souls before Hallowtide ends. But before Solomon can save the day, he must learn the truth behind his origins and how his transformation into Halloween Man was born of a tradition spanning thousands of years.
Drew Edwards alters the background of his hero here somewhat, but it doesn’t really change things beyond giving a mythological basis to the idea of an undead, monster-slaying superhero who has the “power of the horror movie sequel.” If you’re a Neil Gaiman fan, you’ll eat this up like the titular hero devours monsters.
Unfortunately, the art problems from the first issue of Hollowtide continue into this concluding chapter. This time, however, I wonder how much of it is the inks of Lucho Inzunza being uneven and how much of it is colorist April Guadiana seeming to color over some of the pencils at some points. It’s not a large enough problem to distract from the story, but it does lead to some panels that just look odd. Still, if you’re looking for a solid independent horror hero title this Halloween, this book will fit the bill. Just be sure to pick up Part One first.
HEX WIVES #1/ Written by BEN BLACKER/ Art by MIRKA ANDOLFO/ Colors by MARISSA LOUISE/ Letters by JOSH REED/ Published by VERTIGO COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
For generations, a war has been waged between two groups – an eternally reborn coven of witches and The Architects, who seek to put all women in their proper place in their grand design. After hundreds of years of seeing their leaders slaughtered with witch hunts, one Architect suggests a bold plan based on a prophecy and a spell that suggests a way to trap the witches in lives of dull drudgery. For now, his plan seems to be working, but how long will the power of the witches remain dormant in the women The Architects have claimed as brides?
Mix Pat Robertson’s views on feminism with a bit of magic and the plot of The Stepford Wives and you might wind up with something very much like Hex Wives. It does this series a disservice to compare it to that classic film, however, much as it does Border Town a disservice to compare it to Stranger Things. The base concepts and themes may be similar, but the execution is something else. Ben Blacker does a masterful job of introducing the players and establishing the world in this first issue. The artwork by Mirka Andolfo and Marissa Louise is wonderful, with memorable character designs, smoothly flowing action and an aesthetic that reminds me of Tony Akin’s work on Jack of Fables. All in all, Hex-Wives is a fine continuation of the Vertigo Comics revival and one heck of a good read.
ICE CREAM MAN #8/ Story by W. MAXWELL PRINCE/ Art by MARTIN MORAZZO/ Colors by CHRIS O’HALLORAN/ Letters by GOOD OLD NEON/ Published by IMAGE COMICS
Review by ROY BUCKINGHAM
With every passing issue, as we go deeper into the world of Ice Cream Man (which is purely inhabited by what appears to be tortured souls around every corner) theories keep springing to mind as to what the actual nature and purpose of Ice Cream Man is. At first, it appeared to be an anthology in the same vein of The Twilight Zone and it still kind of is. However, the theme of chaos has become a main focus of the stories as well and it is a chaos that those not directly involved with it ever notice.
This issue follows two drug-addicted medical supply thieves as they get philosophical regarding their actions. We see unexplained emergencies with no resolution. It now makes me wonder if the events of this comic book are not just happening in the same time and place, but that the Ice Cream Man himself is actually Satan and that we are actually in Hell. Whatever the actual explanation is, this fascinating book will keep me reading what is easily the biggest new horror hit of 2018.
JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH SPECIAL #1/ Written by JAMES TYNION IV/ Art by HOWARD PORTER/ Colors by HI-FI/ Letters by TOM NAPOLITANO/ Published by DC COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
The cover of this issue asks “Who Are The Ocean Lords?” Sadly, this is a question readers will likely be asking even after the issue ends. James Tynion IV has written many fine comics that do a fantastic job of introducing new characters but this isn’t one of them. The plot of this issue is a glorious mess, that features various Justice League members trying to save people only to get their butts handed to them by the alien sea gods known as The Ocean Lords. That’s pretty much all that happens, beyond a few things in the final pages that raise the stakes and remind us of something we already knew – Wonder Woman is awesome.
The artwork by Howard Porter and Hi-Fi is another example of professional artists who have done better delivering work that should have been done better. Porter’s work here is so rushed as to be unrecognizable, resembling the work of Freddie Williams II far more than even Porter’s more animated recent work on The Flash. The coloration by Hi-Fi leaves everything looking so bright that the finished artwork seems more appropriate to a children’s manga than the dark story Tynion spins.
Overall, this issue seems rushed and ill-conceived, presumably meant to put Aquaman front and center in the world of comics just in time for his solo movie. One wishes they had taken the time to plan out something better.