Archive for Reviews

Four with Phil – Episode 9: The Man Who Tolerated Powerglide

In this episode, Phil talks about the new Humble Bundle with up to 86 Transformers comics (updated total as of press time: about $16 to unlock them all). And he rants about Combiner Wars Powerglide.
Download the MP3 (5 MB)

Four With Phil – Episode 7: Clone Club Comics

In this episode, Phil reviews the premiere issue of IDW Publishing’s new comic – Orphan Black
Download the MP3 (5 MB)

Toy Review: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” Leader Optimus Prime


TF4_Optimus_Robot_HeadNAME: Optimus Prime
ALTERNATE MODE: Western Star truck cab
CLASS: Leader
SERIES: M4: #001
CO-SELLS: Grimlock
COMES WITH: Sword of Judgment, Vector Shield

OPTIMUS PRIME has long believed that freedom is the right of all sentient beings. He has never wavered from his belief, no matter what has befallen him in battle. Once again ready to defend the people of his adopted planet, the unyielding AUTOBOT Commander prepares for the battle that will allow the AUTOBOTS to reclaim their role as Earth’s honored protectors.

It wouldn’t be a Transformers movie without Optimus Prime leading the Autobots. Optimus gets another makeover in this movie; his Western Star cab mode is bigger and more massive than his previous longnose cabs. The familiar blue and red flame deco, though, is still there. If you don’t like that, well, go get the Voyager Evasion Mode toy.

Let’s dive in and take a look at this updated Optimus.

Optimus in Package Gallery:

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Toy Review: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” Voyager Grimlock


TF4_Grimlock_Robot_HeadNAME: Grimlock
CLASS: Voyager
SERIES: M4: #002
CO-SELLS: Optimus Prime (Evasion Mode)

GRIMLOCK is the ultimate wildcard.  The DINOBOT leader has the power to decide the fate of Earth almost singlehandedley. His ferocious strength makes him a devasating force in battle.  If that strength can be focused and harnessed for good, it could be enough to turn the tide. If not, it could be what seals Earth’s doom.

Fans have been calling for his inclusion ever since the first movie was announced. “We want Grimlock!” they shouted, loudly and repeatedly. Supposedly those same fans were told that robotic dinosaurs didn’t make sense within the movie universe.

Well, either they do make sense now or Michael Bay has thrown sense out the window.

…. yes, I realize what I just wrote.

So, we have Grimlock but he doesn’t look much like his Generation 1 namesake. How good of a toy is he? Let’s find out.

Grimlock in Package Gallery:

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Toy Review: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” Dinobot Slug


TF4_Slug_Robot_HeadNAME: Dinobot Slug
CLASS: Deluxe
SERIES: M4: #003
CO-SELLS: Bumblebee, Crosshairs, Scorn

This fiery warrior hates taking orders, unless it means he gets to destroy something. He’ll level anything in his path with a fit of white-hot dino rage.

Ah, poor Slag — got caught in the vortex of Trademark Loss. But since this isn’t the Generation 1 character, having a new name isn’t such a bad thing. (Never mind the fact we’re getting a G1-decoed minicon Slug at some point….)

The Dinobots in the new film are unlike the Dinobots of old. No longer grey and yellow, Slug now sports a deep purple and a shade of red, with rubbery grey plastic pieces. Let’s find out what he’s like, shall we?

Slug in Package Gallery:

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Toy Review: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” Deluxe Drift


TF4_Drift_Robot_HeadNAME: Autobot Drift
ALTERNATE MODE: Bugatti Veyron Grand Vitesse
CLASS: Deluxe
SERIES: M4: #006
CO-SELLS: Strafe, Dinobot Slash

AUTOBOT DRIFT used to fight for the DECEPTICONS. Now, he wields his swords against them, alongside the heroic AUTOBOTS!

When I first saw Drift at Toy Fair 2014, I was unimpressed. Part of it was my lack of affinity for the Generation 1 new character that was introduced a few years ago. Part of it was his goofy head design.

After getting the toy and playing around with it for a while, I admit it – my opinion’s changed. This is a solid toy. It’s not exceptional, but it’s more fun than I though it would be (and thought it had any right to be).  Let’s dive in.

Drift in Package Gallery:

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Comic Review: “Transformers: Windblade” #1

TF_Windblade_01-pr-1In the world of comics, something new is always heralded as a big thing.  It could be a new story, a new writer, a new art team, a new mini-series, a new #1 issue of a long running series — or even a combination of several of the above.  Publishers will do their best to say that New Stuff makes for a comic Worth Reading.  (Sometimes they all but scream it in your ear.)  The problem with this is that bringing New Stuff has been done so often that there’s a big potential for a letdown.

Looking at The Transformers: Windblade #1, we see we have near every single new thing I listed above, and we also have a darn-near brand new character as the comic’s focus (said character being the product of an unprecedented fan-poll).  Put those all together and you’ve got the makings for either a book that’s worth all the attention or the biggest over-hyped story of the year.

Well, guess what. The Transformers: Windblade #1 is just that awesome.

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Advance Review: “Liberator: Earth Crisis” #1

LiberatorEarthCrisis-cover-001a_RComic Capsule
Comic: Liberator: Earth Crisis
Issue #: 1 (of 2)
Story: Salvation of Innocents
Price: $3.99/$3 digital (click to purchase)
Release Date: March 12, 2014
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Written by: Matt Miner & Earth Crisis
Art by: Javier Sanchez Aranda
Colors by: Joaquin Pereyra
Letters by: Crank!
Cover A by: Menton3
Cover B by: Rod Reis
Cover C by: Amancay Nahuelpan
Cover D by: Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, colors by Doug Garbark
Note: Graphic images, profanity – not for young kids.

Mild Spoilers Below

I first heard of Matt Miner and Black Mask Comics when I saw his booth at C2E2 2013.  After reading up on him, I found out that in his spare time, he rescues pit bulls.  Sometimes he succeeds; sometimes, he doesn’t.  It’s that passion to help the helpless animals that he put into the debut series of Liberator, which was a successful Kickstarter project and has since become a second series entitled Liberator: Earth Crisis.  It’s so named because the band Earth Crisis had a hand in this story, which takes place parallel to the original mini-series.

The original comic doesn’t pull punches — the art is graphic, the dialogue is laced with profanity — and it doesn’t feel untruthful.  That means, though, that when you read it, you’re faced with some very weighty issues to think about.  The original mini-series dealt with a variety of animal cruelty issues — dog fighting, animal testing — but it also dealt with other philosophical issues as well.  When do the ends justify the means?  When do you give up?  Are human rights and animal rights equal?

Matt obviously had his own answers to those questions, and he laid them out for everyone to see.  Liberator: Earth Crisis continues to present a case for animal testing with a new character, Sarah, who needs a job.  The only one she can find is the role of janitor at an animal testing laboratory. She tells herself, “It’s only a job, I don’t condone what they do, I’m just here for the money.”  But is that truly the case?  She befriends some of the animals, but is that enough?

Outside, the laboratory sees protests every day, and one of the participants is Jeanette, who we met in the first mini-series.  Jeanette befriends Sarah and tells her that if Sarah ever needs to talk, she’ll listen.  And that chance meeting may have changed Sarah.  Can she truly stand by, or can she be a person of change?

Once again, Matt makes you think.  He makes you question what you believe, and he does it without being cute about it.  There are many layers to this issue; humans benefit from testing, so is it completely amoral?  Are illegal acts done for good reasons morally right?  What can one person do by herself?

These are questions that can’t be easily — or even fully — answered within the pages of a comic book. But they are questions that can make you think.  And even if you come away disagreeing with Matt and Earth Crisis present, having a comic that makes you think isn’t such a bad thing, is it?

(If you are in the Long Island, NY area tomorrow, March 8, Matt and Earth Crisis will be signing autographs at Fourth World Comics from 12:00pm – 2:00pm. Check out the Facebook event.)

Toy Review Advent Calendar: The Bot Bringing Presents to All Good Little Children

ToyReviewAdventCalendarWell, this review is part of the Toy Review Advent Calendar, and I love Transformers, so of course I would pick a Transformer with a holiday theme. No, I didn’t choose a robot from any of the Marvel UK comics Christmas issues — I speak of course, of the bot that brings gifts to all girls and boys — Wreck-Gar!

TFA_WG_HeadYou don’t believe me? Oh, do you not remember “Transformers: Animated”? Wreck-Gar decided to play the part of Santa Claus and deliver garbage to all the kids in the episode “Human Error

Well, his spark is in the right place, at least…. Read more

Comic Review: “Code Monkey Save World” #1

CMSW001_CoverI’ll be honest; I remember hearing about Code Monkey Save World months ago, and then it fell off my radar.  It wasn’t until this morning that writer Greg Pak tweeted about it that my neurons reassembled themselves and made me think, “… oh, yeah, based on one of my favorite Jonathan Coulton songs.”  Greg was kind enough to provide a review copy for me.

Folks, don’t fall into the same trap I did and forget about this comic.  This comic is fun.  No, wait, let me bold and allcaps that — it’s FUN.  If you’re a Jonathan Coulton fan, you’ll undoubtedly understand where plot points were drawn from, but even if you’re not, this comic is unabashedly absurd, and you’ll enjoy every single panel of it.  I mean, come on, it’s called Code Monkey Save World.  If you expected grim and gritty in this comic, you need to rethink your expectations.

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