Rogers Comic Ramblings: Review Grab Bag!

Roger Ash

Roger Ash


by Roger Ash

This time, let’s take a look at some fairly recent releases. They don’t have much in common aside from the fact that I read them, though three of them come from Image. The Image titles are Paper Girls #1, Bitch Planet Book 1: Extraordinary Machine, and Codename Baboushka: The Conclave of Death #1. I’ll also take a gander at IDW/The Library of American Comics’ Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: The Complete Daily Newspaper Comics Vol. 1 and Marvel’s Doctor Strange #1. Here we go!

Paper Girls #1

Paper Girls #1


Paper Girls #1

This new series from writer Brian K. Vaughn and artist Cliff Chiang begins in 1988 on the morning after Halloween and stars four teenage (and slightly younger) women who deliver newspapers, hence the title. This issue is seen mostly through the eyes of Erin, a Catholic school girl. She is accosted by three teenage boys still out celebrating Halloween. She is rescued by three girls – Mac, Tiffany, and KJ – who are delivering together as there is often trouble on All Saint’s morning. But they have no idea how much trouble as they’re soon involved in a mystery involving hooded figures and possible alien technology.

This is a fantastic first issue. The first thing you notice is Chiang’s art which is wonderful and perfectly captures the look and feel of this 1980s suburb and its inhabitants. Vaughn’s story is strong, though not much is revealed in the first issue, but there’s enough to make me want to know more. The four girls are interesting characters and I can’t wait to see where the adventure takes them. Maybe the fact that my first job was as a paperboy colors my opinion of the first issue, but I doubt it. It’s just damn good storytelling. There’s also a fun fake letter column at the end of the issue. There is some swearing, so if that bothers you, you might want to give it a pass. But for me, I loved it and highly recommend it.

Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: The Complete Daily Newspaper Comics Vol. 1

Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: The Complete Daily Newspaper Comics Vol. 1


Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: The Complete Daily Newspaper Comics Vol. 1

Al Taliaferro’s Donald Duck comic strips have long been a favorite of mine. I have read many of them in comics over the years (I’ve probably seen the most in Comics and Stories) and have hoped for a long time to see a collection of his work. That almost happened years ago when Gladstone wanted to publish collections of them but there were strips that Disney didn’t want them to publish. Since they couldn’t print them all, the project went away. Fast forward to now. The folks at Disney have obviously changed their minds about withholding strips and we get IDW/The Library of American Comics’ Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: The Complete Daily Newspaper Comics Vol. 1 which collects over 800 consecutive daily comics from the strips beginning in 1938-1940! Was it worth the wait? Heck yeah!

The humor in the strips by Taliaferro and writer Bob Karp mostly holds up and Taliaferro’s art is a treat. There were some strips that had me laughing out loud. There are a couple interesting things in the collection that people not familiar with Taliaferro’s work may not know. First, while these are the first Donald Duck strips, they are not the first time Donald appeared in comic strips. Donald Duck was featured in the Silly Symphonies comic strip for a year or so as a tryout before breaking away into his self titled strip. This collection begins with the first of the self titled strips and his run in Silly Symphonies will be collected in upcoming Silly Symphonies volumes. Second, unlike Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse comic strip or Carl Barks’ Duck tales, these are gag-a day strips. Yes, there are runs that feature gags around the same topic such as Donald’s pet ostrich, but there is no storyline. As with other strips from this era, there are unfortunately occasional ethnic stereotypes that were common at the time.

As with other collections from the Library of American Comics, the reproduction of the strips is quite nice. There’s also an excellent introduction by Disney historian David Gerstein that gives some background of Taliaferro and the strip itself. This is an excellent package and something that Disney fans and comic strip fans alike will enjoy. A second volume is on the way soon and the first color Sunday collection is available for pre-order now, which means there’s lots more Donald Duck comic strip goodness coming. That makes me very happy.

Codename Baboushka: The Conclave of Death

Codename Baboushka: The Conclave of Death


Codename Baboushka: The Conclave of Death #1

Codename Baboushka: The Conclave of Death by Antony Johnston and Shari Chankhamma is the story of Russian Contessa Annika Malikova and her friend Gyorgy. They came to the US three years before the start of the story. In addition to being a countess, she is also a mafiya boss and left Russia because her rivals were moving against her. A representative of a secret division of the US Government uses this against her to get her to do an undercover job. I enjoy a good spy story and this is quite fun. Baboushka and Gyorgy are engaging characters and their interaction is engaging.

I want to like this more than I do. The story is good and I enjoy the characters, but the art does nothing for me. Chankhamma does a good job with the storytelling. The action sequences, for example, are very well done and quite exciting. However, her style, which looks to be manga influenced, didn’t grab me. I’m also uncertain how the main action piece fits into the overall story. Hopefully that will be explained soon. This issue was a mixed bag for me.

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange


Doctor Strange #1

Doctor Strange has always been one of my favorite characters. I’ve also been told that he’s a favorite of many creators. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to have a big enough fan base to keep a series around for too long. Hopefully that will change with Doctor Strange #1 by Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo because it’s very good.

While this is not quite the version of Doctor Strange that I grew up with in the ‘80s, the core of the character is still there. It’s a fresh take on the character with a respect for his past. This is easily shown on the first page as his origin is told over a background of images of Strange by Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, Tom Palmer, and others.

The basic story in the first issue (as spoiler free as possible) is that something called “The Coming Slaughter” is on the way. With a name like that, you know it’s bad. Doc has to figure out exactly what this is and find a way to stop it. While there are dark elements to the story, Aaron balances that with clever dialog and some lighter moments. He’s given Doc a magical support group of sorts in Doctor Voodoo, the Scarlet Witch, and Shaman and the scene with them is really quite fun. I also like that Doctor Strange seems to enjoy what he does. Chris Bachalo’s art is wonderful and sets a suitably wonky tone for Doctor Strange’s adventures.

As is that weren’t enough, there’s also a backup story written by Aaron and drawn by the always amazing Kevin Nowlan. While Doctor Strange isn’t in the story, it does provide some background on “The Coming Slaughter.” This was a fantastic first issue and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Bitch Planet Book 1: Extraordinary Machine

Bitch Planet Book 1: Extraordinary Machine


Bitch Planet Book 1: Extraordinary Machine

I’d heard lots of good things about Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine De Landro’s Bitch Planet so when the first collection was released, I decided to give it a try. After reading it, I can understand why it’s praised (and deservedly so), but it’s not an easy read as the topics covered are challenging and it includes all the violence you’d expect from a prison drama. This book can be downright unsettling at times.

In the future, men run the world, ruled by a group known as the Fathers. Women who are judged to be non-compliant can be sent to an “Auxiliary Compliance Outpost” known colloquially as Bitch Planet, from which there is no return. One of the new prisoners is Kamau Kogo who is approached by those in charge to form a Megaton (also known as Duemila) team. This is the sport of the future. She knows it’s a set up, but also sees it as an opportunity to further her own ends. While that’s the basic concept, it allows DeConnick and De Landro to tell a story that goes much deeper.

My favorite character so far, a prisoner named Penny Rolle, is featured in a tale with guest art by Robert Wilson IV. Aside from adding depth to Penny’s character, the story shows you how she ended up on Bitch Planet and gives you a look at what this future society is like. It’s unsettling stuff, and if you think men are the only bad guys in the story, think again. This book is definitely for mature readers as there is nudity, violence, and swearing.

If you’re looking for a challenging read that will make you think, Bitch Planet may be for you. It’s definitely a good read.

That’s it for this time. What have you read recently that you’ve enjoyed? Share in the comments below and let me know.

Now, go read a comic!

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