Roger’s Comic Ramblings: Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

Roger Ash

Roger Ash


by Roger Ash

This week, we’ll take a look at some comics. Some are new; some aren’t. Some are single issues, others are collections. The only thing connecting them is that I’ve read them recently.

Frankenstein Mobster

Frankenstein Mobster


Frankenstein Mobster by Mark Wheatley

I read the single issues when they came out years ago, but I finally sat down and read the whole story in collected form. I happy to say that the story still holds up and it reads like it was written to be read as one big story. The story takes place in Monstros City (yes, it’s a pun), a town run by the mob. The Dead End area of the city is occupied by monsters who came from the old country to try and make their way in America. Shortly before the book begins, Terry Todd, one of the city’s clean cops, was killed while investigating a case involving missing monsters. Into this mix of mobs and monsters comes Terri Todd, daughter of Terry, as a new recruit for the Montros City Police Department. She’s soon neck deep in a mystery involving her father’s last case and her father himself who has been reborn as the Frankenstein Mobster. Frankie is a creature created from body parts of Terry Todd and three deceased mobsters who is built to be the mob’s ultimate enforcer. It doesn’t take you long to learn who the real monsters in the story are.

While this mash-up of mob, monster, and crimes genres may sound odd, it really works. Terri is a great character and serves as the reader’s eyes into this new world. Her partner, Janos (also her father’s former partner), provides the knowledge you need to see how the city works and has an important secret. The Frankenstein Mobster is a great tortured soul as Terry tries to do what is right while having the spirits of three mobsters trying to thwart his every move. And the head of the mob, who is also the mayor, is a very real threat both to Terri and the monsters alike. The city itself is an important character as well. Much as Gotham City is a part of Batman, Monstros City is a vital part of this story; from the mansions of the rich, to the Dead End slums, to the swamps outside of town.

I’m not sure when this story takes place. It looks and feels like classic movies of the ‘40s and ‘50s, but the fact that Terri’s gender is not an issue to her being a cop gives it a modern edge. Bottom line is that’s not really important. What is important is that this is a rip-roarin’ good story that’s fun to read with outstanding art and storytelling from Mark Wheatley. There are lots of great extras in the collection as well. I still hold out hope that Wheatley will return to Monstros City one day.

Howard the Duck #1

Howard the Duck #1


Howard the Duck #1 & 2 by Chip Zdarsky & Joe Quinones

I love Steve Gerber’s work on Howard the Duck. It’s the title that got me into collecting and remains one of my favorite runs on any comic. But I think Howard was such a part of Gerber that, aside from a couple people (Steven Grant and Ty Templeton), other writers aren’t quite sure what to do with him and he often doesn’t feel right to me. So I was a bit trepidatious going into this new series knowing that my standards were set incredibly high.

After reading the first two issues, I can say that this is a fun series. Howard is now a private detective, which seems as good a job as any for him, and can also serve as the jumping off point for stories. I like the new character of Tara. I think she could develop into an interesting character. The stories so far have been enjoyable and there have been guest appearances from Spider-Man, She-Hulk, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. I miss Beverly Switzler not being in the series and there have been hints that her relationship with Howard did not end well.

Howard the Duck #2

Howard the Duck #2


After all that good, I do have one complaint. This isn’t Howard; at least it’s not Howard as I think of him. He looks like Howard (sorta. At least as much as Disney will let him.), but his behavior seems off. For example, the anger is there, but his sense of pride is missing. In the past, Howard’s anger was based a lot on righteous indignation of the world around him; now he just seems cranky. However, I like the good parts of the book enough to stick around for a few more issues to see how Howard’s personality develops. However, if you don’t have the attachment to the character that I do, I think you’ll enjoy the book right out of the gate.

Bloom County: The Complete Library Vol. 4 1986-1987

Bloom County: The Complete Library Vol. 4 1986-1987


Bloom County: The Complete Library Vol. 4 1986-1987 by Berkeley Breathed

The penultimate volume in IDW’s collections of Breathed’s classic strip. The strips in this volume take place after Breathed returned to the strip after a hiatus due to breaking his back in an ultralight accident. He decides to inflict his pain on Steve Dallas by having his back broken by an enraged Sean Penn. Also in this volume you get Opus and Lola Granola’s wedding; Oliver Wendell Jones experiments with teleportation; the heavy metal band Death Tongue forms and later changes their name to Billy and the Boingers; we’re introduced to Rosebud, the last basselope; and much more.

Bloom County is one of my all-time favorite comics. I think part of that is due to where it fell in my life, with the majority of it published during my high school and college years. Breathed managed to speak to who I was at the time and how I felt about the world and did it with great humor. As much as Bill the Cat always cracked me up, both Opus and Binkley were much more impactful as they shared a lot in common with me. And that’s only scratching the surface of the wonderful characters involved in the series. As usual, IDW and the Library of American Comics put together a beautiful book. In addition to the comics, there is commentary from Breathed, explanations of 80s culture mentioned in the strips that may be lost on a modern audience, and a look at Bloom County merchandise. This is an outstanding collection as are all the other volumes in this series.

That’s it for this time. What comics have you read recently that you’ve enjoyed? Please share your thoughts below.

Now, go read a comic!

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