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The Last Days of Black Hammer by Jeff Lemire and Stefano Simeone

The Last Days of Black Hammer by Jeff Lemire and Stefano Simeone

A cynical reader, such as me, could look at that title and think “oh, good, they’re finally ending this repetitive superhero waffling that never actually goes anywhere.” But that reader would be wrong.

This is not “last” in the sense of anything actually ending. This is a superhero “last,” meaning it’s about something in the past, and retelling a story already at least half-told multiple times before – but now telling it in greater detail. Even more so, what we have here pretends to be the actual issues of the 1986-era comic in which the original Black Hammer snuffed it, with covers that have fake high numbers and everything.

So The Last Days of Black Hammer  is actually a prequel to nearly all of the Black Hammer stories we’ve already seen. (Black Hammer ’45  takes place almost entirely before this, as does Barbalien: Red Planet , but I think those are the only ones – OK, maybe Doctor Andromeda , too.)

The whole premise of the entire vast Black Hammer-i-verse was that there was a big superhero fight (cough Crisis! cough) against the “Anti-God,” who looks nothing like Darkseid, in the sky over Spiral City, which apparently also turned the skies of the rest of the world red, because that’s the thing comics geeks still latch onto from Crisis even thirty years later, and that the Greatest Hero of All Time, Black Hammer, whacked said Anti-God with his big, um, Black Hammer, and that made the Anti-God go all “ouchie!” and run away forever and forever but also alas! killed Black Hammer in the same way that every superhero dies at least once.

For the dull ones in back: Black Hammer is the Silver Age Flash. He died so worlds can live. Got it? (Character-wise, he’s actually more like the Black Racer crossed with Thor, but that’s a different kind of derivative-ness.)

This pretends to be the 1986-era issues 234-237 issues of the Black Hammer comic book, including both a “hero no more!” and an “all-new! all-different!” cover, plus the double-sized epic conclusion. There’s also a coda or epilogue at the end, outside that “old comics” schema, to show how Sad it all was, how Important was The Sacrifice of Black Hammer To Save Us All, and that His Daughter had to Grow Up Without a Father, Alas! 

Otherwise, though, this is exactly what we already know and what we expect. Black Hammer is conflicted, and wants to give up hitting things with a big hammer to Spend More Time With His Family Before It Is Too Late. But, alas! He Is Needed, because The Bad Guys Will Destroy The World And Only Black Hammer Can Stop Them. The superhero group that still doesn’t have a name – the Spiral City Sluggers? the Saviors? the Bad Guy Whompers? the Fabulous Dudes? – more or less breaks up after the events of the first “issue” here, having stopped what was believed to be Their Greatest Threat, and several of them need to be brought back out of retirement – quickly, perfunctorily – for the big ending.

Reader, there is nothing here you will not predict, nothing that gives a true moment of surprise or wonder, nothing that isn’t entirely derivative and utterly pre-determined. This is a piece of product, an engineered jigsaw puzzle piece that slots in exactly in the middle of all of the other pieces to make a bland picture of people punching each other.

I usually praise creator Jeff Lemire’s writing when I talk about these books, though I know it feels like faint praise. (He can, and does, do a lot better than this. But the Black Hammer books are professional, and the characters are as dimensional as anything in generic superhero-dom can be.) This time, the art is from Stefano Simone, who has a looser, sketchier line that might not quite say “1986 Big Event Comics” to me, but it’s energetic and fun and doesn’t look like fifty years of superhero comics, so I count that as a plus.

But, as always, I question the whole point of the exercise. We know everything here already. Last Days adds nothing.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

REVIEW: The Boys Season 3

REVIEW: The Boys Season 3

With every passing season, Amazon Prime’s adaptation of Garth Ennis and Darrick Robertson’s The Boys seems to be playing “can you top this?” in terms of going where no other heroic series has not dared to go.

The third season, out on disc just months before the fourth season drops, mainly focuses on the increasingly callous Homelander (Antony Star) fighting Starlight (Erin Moriarty) for the heart and soul of The Seven. When Vought named her co-leader, he was far from thrilled and let everyone know. The group of underground heroes – led by Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) trying to take down Homelander and expose their sponsor’s corruption almost seems sidelined this season.

There were interesting twists and turns across the eight episodes, such as Butcher’s protégé Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) working with Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) at the FBSA (Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs).  His romance with Starlight remains rocky, especially as he gets jealous of her ex, Supersonic (Miles Gaston Villanueva).

The season’s new wrinkle is the discovery of Compound V24, which can give someone temporary Supe powers that last 24 hours, and Butcher uses it to go toe-to-toe with Homelander, hoping to rescue Ryan (Cameron Crovetti), Homelander’s son, from his evil influence.

The plotting and scripting is tight, although it has recently been eclipsed by the first season of the Gen V spinoff. Eric Kripke and company are doing a fine job juggling multiple threads and making sure everyone gets their moment or two to shine.

Sony Home Entertainment has released the series on only Blu-ray, which looks fine in fantastic AVC encoded 1080p transfer in its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. However, the Ultra HD broadcast on streaming is a tad sharper. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio audio track is up to the challenge and delivers just fine.

Just a few Special Features are included: The Making Of A Giant Urethra (1:58) and Gag Reel #1 (2:37), Gag Reel #2 (3:00); and Deleted & Extended Scenes (seven totaling eight minutes).

REVIEW: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

REVIEW: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

With all the talk of super-hero fatigue, it’s interesting to note that we never talk about espionage fatigue despite the steady stream of spies from a variety of franchises. One of the oldest and long-running series is, of course, Mission: Impossible. Once a lauded television series, it transitioned to film in 1996 and somehow, 27 years later, it’s still chugging along, in some ways invigorated with new life.

Led by the once-ageless Tom Cruise, he remains the fittest sixty-something actor in the world, continuing to do his own stunts and working with his personal guru Christopher McQuarrie, who returned for the newest offering, Dead-Reckoning Part One, out now from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The filming was originally intended to shoot back-to-back with the film’s released a year apart. Then came Covid-19 and now the SGA strike so those plans got scuttled. That said, their threat, Artificial Intelligence, has proven increasingly timely with every passing month. As you may be aware, even President Biden found himself somewhat influenced by the movie as he prepared his recently-released executive order on AI.

The IMF team continues to shrink and remain stagnant, with no real lip service given to the program since the third installment. So, when the shit hits the fan this time, in the form of a key to the world’s most powerful AI, dubbed Entity, Ethan Hunt (Cruise), Benji (Simon Pegg), and Luther (Ving Rhames) are all that’s left to save the world. Matters begin with tracking Gabriel (Esai Morales), the Entity’s human avatar, who has a personal vendetta against Hunt. Along the way, they cross paths with the pickpocket Grace (Hayley Atwell) and we’re off.

It is good to see Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) and Alanna Mitsopolis (Vanessa Kirby) back, but Atwell gives the franchise a fresh spark as does Gabriel’s aide Paris (Pom Klentieff), a poorly chosen character name given its M:I connotations. Interesting all the energy comes from the women. Which is not to say Cruise is slacking since he continues to run with recklessness and his showstopping motorcycle/parachute scene is incredible.

The movie brings back other familiar faces so the absence of Julia Meade (Michelle Monaghan), who doesn’t even get name-checked, feels wrong.

Its wonderful adventure and sumptuously shot. The ending is satisfying enough with still a threat to resolve in Part Two currently scheduled for May 23, 2025.

Paramount Home Entertainment has released the film in the usual assorted formats including the 4K Ultra HD,/Blu-ray/Digital Code combo. The 4K 2160p transfer is extremely crisp with strong visuals and plays wonderfully at home. As usual, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack is excellent as it needs to be, given the sound effects and score from Lorne Balfe.

The Audio Commentary: Director Christopher McQuarrie and Editor Eddie Hamilton is found on the 4K disc as is the Isolated Score Track presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

The Blu-ray offers the usual assortment of Special Features Abu Dhabi (3:55); Rome (4:12); Venice (4:12); Freefall (9:05); Speed Flying (4:17); and Train (5:32).

Tin Man by Justin Madison

Tin Man by Justin Madison

First up, I have to answer the question I had when I picked up this book: yes, that tin man. Well, one of those tin men, to be clearer.

Justin Madison’s debut graphic novel Tin Man  is set in a version of L. Frank Baum’s Oz, and his tin man, Campbell, has the familiar shape and form Americans expect from their tin men since 1939. But that’s not particularly clear at the beginning of the story, and it’s never important. It’s something bigger than an Easter egg, I guess, since there are plenty of references to Baum here, but it’s all background.

We’re in a recognizably modern world: suburbia, TV news, two-paycheck families, junkyards, high school students who play video games and hang out to do mischief. The land is called Oz, which is mentioned but not emphasized. It looks mostly like our world, with a few tweaks.

There’s a major space industry, and people can build space-capable ships in their backyards, in best Tom Swift fashion. Kids can aspire to get out of their dead-end towns by getting into the very selective VASTE Institute, something like a STEM magnet high school with much more emphasis on spaceships and big wrenches.

But they’re still kids, and that’s what Tin Man is about. Three young people who each want something – though they don’t all exactly know what they want, when the book begins – who meet, and who each find something like what they want (or need) by the end.

One of them is Campbell, the tin man. He grew up with his people, in the forest, chopping down trees. But he heard of a wizard, in a far-off city, who makes mechanical hearts for tin men that allows them to feel, and Campbell wanted that for himself. His father didn’t understand why; they fought; Campbell ran away. There’s a bit more to the story, but that comes out in the course of the book.

Campbell meets Fenn in a junkyard. Campbell is there: living or hanging out or just existing. Fenn is a local kid, maybe ten or so. He’s obsessed with space; his hero is Jed Astro, a famous explorer. And Fenn is picking through junkyards as he tries to build a spaceship himself – he finds a mechanical heart, he befriends Campbell, he’s the glue that pulls this story together.

The third character is Fenn’s older sister, Solar. She used to be an academic whiz, head of the class at her high school, recruited for VASTE. But she’s hanging with the stoners and bullies now, dating the worst of them: slacking off, skipping school, avoiding work and responsibility, looking to get a job at a local garage and give up on all expectations.

Fenn wants his old sister back: the one who cared about space and science and the future. The one that worked with him and was good at the same things he cares about.

Solar wants… Well, she used to want to go to VASTE, to go to space, to get out of this town and make something of herself. Now, she doesn’t seem to want anything.

Campbell wants that mechanical heart, we think – but we learn that he’d already gotten it, and how that went.

Meanwhile, Terrible Twisters are running through Oz, getting closer. And Solar’s new friends – especially her boyfriend, Merrick, their leader – are mean and destructive and getting worse. And we learn why Solar changed, what happened in her life (and Fenn’s) recently that soured her on life.

And they all get what they want, or maybe need, at the end, as the twisters hit and Merrick continues to be a horrible human being and Fenn’s homemade spaceship turns out to be unexpectedly useful.

Madison has a somewhat indy-comics style, a little grungy, with dot eyes: it reminds me a little of Jeff Lemire, though not that grungy. His places are real, his people expressive, his colors crisp and bright. And he’s just sneaky enough, with his Oz references and unobtrusive storytelling, for a reader like me who eats that stuff up. Tin Man is another one of the flood of recent graphic stories aimed at teens, but, like the best of that flood, it’s not limited to them.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

CLERKS Premium Box Set Out Today

CLERKS Premium Box Set Out Today


Return to the Quick Stop for this hilarity-filled collection of Kevin Smith’s beloved Clerks movies. This specially designed Premium Box Collection includes a set of Clerks-themed clings that fans can use to customize their set. Clerks will be available for the suggested retail price of $129.99.


They are the overworked, underpaid, and hardly working…they are clerks! For the first time ever, all three of Kevin Smith’s Clerks films are included on Blu-rayTM + Digital in one limited-edition Premium Box Set, available exclusively on Amazon. This one-of-a-kind package is a slacker’s dream come true, featuring a 3D miniature of the iconic Quick Stop and RST Video storefronts and a working VHS slot, for safe storage of the discs without running up pesky late fees. Also, be sure to vandalize the rental-return “wall” with the cling stickers included in the box, featuring in-world business logos and jokes from the franchise. Finally, a certificate of authenticity will give diehard fans full bragging rights. Let Randal, Dante, Jay, and Silent Bob take you back to those glorious days when rooftop hockey was all the rage, customer service was a four-letter word, and slackers ruled the world with the Amazon-exclusive Clerks Premium Box Set!


Brian O’ Halloran: Clerks, Mallrats

Jeff Anderson: Clerks, Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Kevin Smith: Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma

Jason Mewes: Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Dogma


Year of Production: 2023

Title Copyright: 

CLERKS © 2023 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved. 

CLERKS II © 2006 The Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved.

CLERKS III © 2022 Redo Askew LLC. All Rights Reserved. Artwork & Supplementary Materials ®, ™ & © 2022 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Type: Catalog Re-Release

Rating: R 

Genre: Comedy

Closed-Captioned: N/A

Feature Run Time: 289

Blu-ray Audio: 

CLERKS Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio



Blu-Ray Subtitles: Various

Blu-ray Format: Various

REVIEW: Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part Two

REVIEW: Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part Two

The Justice League and the Huntsmen are back in Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part Two, to conclude the underwhelming story from April’s part one. Other than commercial considerations, there is no real reason for the two teams to be paired together; no real character and dramatic opportunities are present, which may be why the story doesn’t really work.

We force the JL heroes to be transformed into teen versions of themselves and brought to the Huntsmen’s world, working across Remnant’s four kingdoms of Vale, Mistral, Atlas, and Vacuo to fight the good fight. Superman, Wonder Woman (Laura Bailey), Batman (Troy Barker), and The Flash (David Dastmalchian) are teamed with Ruby (Lindsay Jones), Weiss (Kara Eberle), Blake (Arryn Zech), and Yang (Barbara Dunkelman) to fight the Grimms and save the world. As part two opens, we continue with the cliffhanger, the revelation that Flash foe Kilg%re (Tru Valentino) trapped the heroes in a computer simulation. Now, the adult and more familiar Justice Leaguers are working with the altered Huntsmen, complete with freshened uniforms.

There’s plenty of action to amuse the core audience, but it comes at the expense of letting the revised RWBY heroes explore their new forms. Characterization is always sacrificed for action; storytelling be damned. The overall conclusion works, but overall, you are left wondering why did they bother with this.

Warner Home Entertainment has released this in all the usual formats, including the 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray/Digital Code combo pack. Rooster Teeth’s attempt to animate their 3D look works for the most part and the 2160p and 1080p high-definition transfers work for the most part, maintaining a smooth look. The colors are well-preserved and the action is clear. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is actually somewhat better, and an improvement over Part One.

The Special Features are fine with a perfunctory feel to them. These include I’ve Got Your Back: The Bond Between Justice League and RWBY (6:45) and You Look… Different: RWBY on Earth (7:12).

Overall, if you are a RWBY fan, this is must-see viewing, while JL fans can use this to pass the time until 2024’s more substantial offerings.

In Waves by A.J. Dungo

In Waves by A.J. Dungo

A.J. Dungo obscures the central theme of his first graphic novel for a long time. The cover copy only hints at it. I have to assume that’s all on purpose. And, to be a fair reviewer, I feel like I should do the same.

But know that In Waves  is a true story, that it’s about something major and important in Dungo’s life – I hate to say “that happened to him,” for reasons that would only be clear to people who’ve read the book – and that is related to but very distinct from what In Waves says it is about. I might say a little more, at the very end here, if I can do it without spoiling.

In Waves says it’s about surfing. And it is: it’s a four-hundred page graphic novel that largely traces the history of the sport, from pre-contact Hawaii through the greats of the early twentieth century.  It’s informed and interesting, a cultural history rather than the story of a sport’s winners and rules and contests. But that’s just one-half of the book; as the minimal back-cover copy puts it, the other half of In Waves consists of Dungo’s “personal narrative of love, loss, and the solace of surfing.”

Dungo came late to surfing, personally, despite – as far as I can see – growing up in Sothern California, somewhere near the beach. His girlfriend, Kristen, loved to surf, as did many other members of her family, so that’s how Dungo got into it. That half of the book is the personal part, the part I’m going to avoid talking in detail about. It is a narrative of loss, in the end – Dungo constructs the story so the loss happens about mid-way through the book, but it’s clear from early on that this will not be an entirely happy story.

Dungo tells those two stories on crisp light pages – the present-day storyline in a green-blue, a couple of shades lighter than the cover, and the past in a similarly light amber. He gives them both lots of pages, plenty of room to tell the story, to have small moments in both timeframes. The modern story is more personal, more immediate than the historical one, as of course it has to be. The historical story is mostly background or explanation: what this all means, the deeper history or significance, and maybe what Dungo researched and learned about to process that loss. But the core of In Waves is his story, as it should be.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

54-disc Star Trek: The Picard Legacy Collection is now Available

54-disc Star Trek: The Picard Legacy Collection is now Available

Star Trek: The Picard Legacy Collection is now available from Paramount Home Entertainment!
The limited edition individually numbered 54-disc
Blu-ray collection features one-of-a-kind packaging that houses every series and film featuring Jean-Luc Picard. Along with over 35 hours of special features, films and series include “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Seasons 1-7,” “Star Trek: Picard – Seasons 1-3,” Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Nemesis, and Star Trek: Insurrection.  This limited set also includes an exclusive edition of The Wisdom of Picard featuring brand new artwork and quotes, a one-of-a-kind deck of playing cards, a magnet sheet featuring all of Captain Picard’s badges, and four custom Chateau Picard drink coasters.

Check out behind-the-scenes clips, gag reel, and deleted scenes below from the latest season of “Star Trek: Picard!”

Krakoa Saga Begins Wind-Up with Two Miniseries

Krakoa Saga Begins Wind-Up with Two Miniseries

New York, NY— November 7, 2023 — It’s the beginning of the end of the X-Men’s revolutionary Krakoan Age! Just like Jonathan Hickman boldly kicked it off in 2019 in twin series, HOUSE OF X and POWERS OF X, the finale of the Krakoan Age will be told across two intertwined series this January in Gerry Duggan and Lucas Werneck’s FALL OF THE HOUSE OF X and Kieron Gillen and R.B. Silva’s RISE OF THE POWERS OF X! It’s a who’s who of current mutant mastermind storytellers, and together, they’re bringing Krakoa down in epic style!

The two five-issue limited series will deliver a breathtaking saga across mutant history and future as the X-Men of today and tomorrow wage the final war against extinction across their entire existence! Today, fans can peek ahead at the covers for FALL OF THE HOUSE OF X #2 and RISE OF THE POWERS OF X #2, arriving in February.

In FALL OF THE HOUSE OF X #2, the X-Men may be at their lowest spot, and they may be on the brink of complete eradication…but they are not going down without a fight! Polaris returns to guide the X-Men home, bringing a wicked surprise for Orchis! This epic tale, split in two, continues as the Krakoan Age nears its conclusion!

Outside time and space comes mutantdom’s last hope in RISE OF THE POWERS OF X #2! Floating between dimensions, hiding from a Dominion who wishes to crush them. Can Xavier and his crew survive? And when we find out their plan, will we want them to? The end of the Krakoan Age continues in this epic tale split in two!

“The two series that are one has been where this story has been leading since the Dawn of Krakoa,” Duggan said. “Polaris is coming from Knowhere, and we hope you’ll join us as well…”





On Sale 2/14



Art and Cover by R.B. SILVA

On Sale 2/21

Maids by Katie Skelly

Maids by Katie Skelly

The most interesting creators are the ones you have to learn how to read. They tell stories their way, making their choices but not going out of their way to explain. And it can take reading a few books to figure that out: not all readers will want to spend that much effort.

I think I’m beginning to understand how to read Katie Skelly’s comics. I’m getting more excited, more interested, with each new book I read, which is a good sign: creators should be engrossing, should be exciting, as you learn what they care about and how to see things through their angles. So I may not have quite clicked with My Pretty Vampire , but there was something unique there, which brought me back for The Agency .

And now I’m back again for Maids , Skelly’s 2020 book. I think this is her most important book to date; it’s also her most recent major graphic novel, which might be saying the same thing in a different way.

This is a true story, at its core – a true crime story. As I think is her standard, Skelly works in a cinematic fashion, connecting scenes through images and having a clear “camera” that views the action on her pages. Also as usual, she doesn’t go out of her way to explain things: she’s not one for captions, and her people talk to each other in the ways real people do; they’re not going to explain themselves for your benefit.

It is 1933 France. Christine and Lea Papin are sisters, who grew up poor – dumped in a convent school by their mother. Christine has been a maid for the wealthy Lancelin family for some time; she’s just gotten them to hire Lea as well.

The hours are long, the work both endless and tedious and never enough. The Lancelins – mother and daughter – are not actively oppressive or cruel out of proportion to their station and time, but that still leaves a lot of ground for oppression and cruelty. It is a horrible life for the young Papin sisters. They see no other options, no ways to get any better life. And Lea has visions or breaks; if she was living in the modern world she would probably get medical treatment, but a poor woman in 1933 just has to muddle through.

Skelly’s work is about women, always. The murderers and victims here are all women; all the violence, in both directions, physical and emotional and economic, is from women to women. The anger and scorn and fear and disgust are all between women.

And I think Maids is the purest, most extreme expression of that so far from Skelly, the book where her cinematic eye and genre-fiction influences click together to tell one crisp story of death and revenge and oppression and horror. I don’t know that I’d recommend this book for people who haven’t read Skelly before, but I do recommend it.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.