Mark J. Hayman's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: Comics Bulletin Reviews: 49
6.7Avg. Review Rating

8
Albion #4

Apr 27, 2006

All in all, a cracker of a tale, steeped in almost too much lore to handle. Go forth and seek out back issues! Then settle down and wait with me for Penny, Danny, Robot Archie, and Charlie Peace to launch their assault on Cursitor Doom's castle via the Black Sapper's Earthworm boring machine. Heaven help them when they reach Captain Hurricane's parlour...

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8
Albion #5

May 29, 2006

Albion is fun. Albion is joy. Go read Albion, have fun and enjoy.

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7
Astonishing X-Men #15

Jun 26, 2006

Fun, violent, silly, creepy, and drenched with foreshadowing. Gorgeously illustrated, 'natch. The first Astonishing issue (in, what, years? that has me actually looking forward to the next one.

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7
Avengers/Invaders #2

Jun 3, 2008

Sadowski turns in his standard work, which couldn't get much better. Panels featuring the Invaders are presented off-kilter, reinforcing (their) sense of disorientation. Careful attention is paid throughout to shadow and light, anatomy and perspective, with very few hiccups (except for Toro; whether Sadowski can't quite "get" him or just doesn't like him, much, the young flamethrower is consistently a little... off). His architecture is among the best around, and there's plenty of it, from bridge scenes to brownstones; the Brooklyn Bridge practically constitutes another character. It's not all beer and skittles, however; the page three tight close-up of Iron Man's anatomically correct codpiece will haunt my nightmares for years to come. Fortunately, my attention was distracted by further evidence that Sadowski's Namor is the new paradigm of an old character. I described him to a friend as "crazy and feral," definitely not someone you'd want to antagonize.

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8
Avengers/Invaders #5

Oct 7, 2008

Where does this leave us? Was the initial "Ordnung Zeitgeist" a red herring or a coincidence? Is there actually a Cosmic Cube in play that captured the Invaders to our time or is Strange being deceived? Why did his initial attempt to locate it produce a vision of the Golden Age Vision, and why didn't he recognize the WWII-era mystery man (noting only that he "looks like the Vision" - the synthezoid version)? If Strange is as powerful as we've always believed, and as grandly portrayed as he is here, why isn't the world up to its dingus in puppies and kittens? What's up with the LMD's? Is Paul Anselm's role more than incidental? All we can do is stay tuned. Same Avengers time, same Invaders channel!

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6
Black Panther (2005) #40

Aug 26, 2008

On the whole, this is pretty much what one would expect from what is, essentially, a war comic. The story is pushed forward incrementally and the extent of alien infiltration is revealed as greater than probably imagined. Certainly T'Challa and Ororo believed that they had a handle on the situation, to their chagrin. Pretty in places, bloody in others. Excitingly average!

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6
Dead of Night: Man-Thing #3

Apr 8, 2008

In the end I'm left with some curiosity as to where things are headed, which is a very good thing. Unfortunately, at no time did I feel my gorge rise, my skin crawl, or my childhood nightmares threatening to launch a comeback. Normally this would also be a "good thing", but not in the Dead of Night.

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6
Defenders (2005) #5

Feb 2, 2006

Right, Defenders. Uh, dig it! Buy it! If you missed an issue or two, go find them! Or buy the trade, it should be shipping any minute! And say your prayers every single night so that this never, ever happens again. Ever.

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9
Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1

Jun 10, 2008

You killed Kitty. You goddamn killed Kitty and you goddamn made me cry.

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8
Giant-Size Avengers/Invaders #1

Apr 29, 2008

* Since it's going to be next to impossible to review a Marvel book in the foreseeable future without mentioning green, puckered-chin aliens, wherever possible I'm going to substitute, as here, the phrase "SFZ" (Skrull-free Zone). Now you know.

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7
Guardians of the Galaxy (2008) #3

Jul 8, 2008

Incorporating Jim Starlin's Universal Church of Truth into the story creates a few problems, not least of which is, given their apparent power and scope of influence (over a trillion "faithful", according to Rocket), they should have long been one of Marvel's principal outer space antagonists, along with the Skrulls, the Shi'ar, and so forth. The idea of their Cardinals being able to not only utilize but accumulate and stockpile "prayer power" is one part clever, one part loopy, and one part insane-making. "Belief Batteries"? Really? So I take it that the Cardinals "keep going and going...". Rocket's observation that "Basically, that means they can do anything if they believe they can" only serves to reinforce my reticence. Abnett and Lanning might have reached a little too far with this one. On the other hand, the mysterious cocoon-like object in the final panel is sufficiently provocative to maintain my interest in the book. An alternate-reality Warlock? "Her"? The Magus?

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7
Incredible Hercules #117

May 20, 2008

In the end this issue will read better as a chapter in the trade volume, but still stands nicely on its own. Among my own biases, one is definitely served with the inclusion of Snowbird/Narya, who has been "temporarily released from the mystic ban against leaving the Northern Dominion" (sic), and included as part of the quest. If you think that Snowbird's just a (dead sexy) superhero who can transform into a seal or cuddly arctic hare, you don't know Snowbird. We're reminded of her power and divinity when she effortlessly blocks blow after blow, passively restraining Hercules as he hath at it with a couple of his new teammates. Once sufficiently ticked, she transforms into a polar bear and takes a not as passive paws-on approach to restoring order. So, leaving all else aside, an arc featuring Snowbird guarantees that my interest will remain, er, aroused.

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7
Invincible Iron Man #4

Aug 5, 2008

Anyway, as I said, there is deeper meaning to be had, but the motif is so light, and the narrative so... bright, the story seems fleeting. A light breeze flitting through a serious conversation. Not necessarily a welcome breeze, but a mildly pleasant one that makes one wonder if we aren't really in the eye of the hurricane.

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6
Iron Man: Legacy of Doom #2

May 13, 2008

So, yes, there are some issues, but the story is sufficiently compelling even if it boils down to a clash of armour. That's what we really came for, anyway. Iron Man versus Doom. Power against power. Super-genius vs. super-genius. Good vs. evil. It's a trip. The next chapter promises just that, so get yourself geeked early. Okay, it's over, you can exhale. Now, let's get ready to Rummmbaaa!!!

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7
Iron Man: The End #1

Nov 4, 2008

It took more than eight years and considerable negotiation for this story to see the light of day. It's a fitting denouement to one of Marvel's greatest characters, and not a bad comic. That it's not great is disappointing, but not unanticipated.

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7
Marvel Apes #2

Sep 16, 2008

Despite appearances, judge not this book by its cover. Kesel and company have me genuinely intrigued about those furry Not Avengers. And it's still definitely not for the kids; the main story is far too violent and the second too nasty. I'd kind of like to know why monkeys and apes have evolved in parallel while humans are portrayed as unseen brutes to be feared and reviled. Never mind, I'll just peel another pair of glasses and soak it all up.

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7
Marvel Apes #3

Sep 30, 2008

Oh, and there's another back-up feature written by Tom Peyer. Mike McKone takes up the pencils in Karl Kesel's absence and while it all looks alright, the story is even more pointless than the previous "Official History of the Marvel Apes Universe" installments. This one focusses on Iron Mandrill (...) and some of the events of Secret Wars II, which raises the question, "how do you parody self-parody?" It's pretty sad. It also prompts me to mention that, once again, the book's rating is not weighted but exclusive to the first (main) story. Except for the in-house Marvel parodies (the Insimians are Coming!) tacked on at the end, you're better off closing the book when you've finished the feature story. Then carefully open the back cover to see the latter funny bits. Careful, though.

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7
Marvel Illustrated: The Iliad #4

Mar 18, 2008

As with some adaptations, this edition concludes with a glossary. A few of the terms chosen might be generally helpful, though the majority appear aimed to assist younger readers. While much of the warfare of the Iliad, as with most wars, is siege, there are sufficient skirmishes and battles, realistically portrayed by Sepulveda & co., to warrant a caution to parents: this is not a children's storybook, childlike though many of the themes sometimes appear.

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6
Mighty Avengers #15

Jun 24, 2008

One day, hopefully not too long from today, I hope that Hank will be a hero again, even if no one will ever forget... well, you know. Presuming he's not already dead, which would really suck. For what it's worth, at least we know that it was really Hank who snapped that day and not an imposter. Meanwhile, routine also implies repetition; a repetitive, routine book earns a routine rating repetitively. Nothing to get into a lather or rinse about. Now go eat some bran.

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4
Mighty Avengers #18

Sep 16, 2008

This business of torturing children for the "greater good," however, leaves exactly the bad taste in my mouth that it should. I get it, I really do, but it makes one curious as to what goes on inside the the heart and mind of a person who seems to revel in writing a story about such a sick, demented character as Fury has become in his hands. You know, the illustration was pushing this book as high as four on the bullet-o-meter, but there has to be a major deduction for making my skin crawl and my soul itch. In fact, you can go on and keep those residuals, I'd prefer to not be associated.

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6
New Avengers #47

Dec 2, 2008

(Hey, you know what? When I was doing some digging on what work Michael Gaydos has done for Marvel, I naturally searched their website. It was a smack in the face all 'round that his name wasn't included in the book credits on their catalogue page, but there it is. Anyway, the search returns a bunch of hits, the top one being a link to Gaydos' creator page. I clicked and... got a flash-pop-up-redirect-hellspawn moment where, ultimately, I'm left at the subscription page for their digital comics service. It didn't even have the dubious manners to open itself in another tab. Nope, it just hijacked the whole search function and now I don't know what Marvel has to say about Gaydos, whom they don't bother to mention in the promotional credits for New Avengers #47. Nice, huh?)

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6
New Exiles #4

Apr 1, 2008

The greater story is fairly compelling and though this is far from a "decompressed" book, this particular issue represented a kind of pause. Despite the splash-page summary, failing some prior knowledge of the Exiles, this issue would be a tough jumping-on point. I'd suggest tracking down the previous couple of issues and jump from there.

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4
New Exiles #5

Apr 22, 2008

It's been many years since Claremont's well known (some might say "infamous") "Kitty's Fairytale". This story arc revisits it in an oblique way. While the reason behind Cat's ongoing transformations is the real story, we're left to wade through silliness up to our piratey thighboots to get there. Though vaguely charming (or "Prince... Charming"... nuh!), it would work better as a children's story, and this definitely ain't no children's story, notwithstanding the oft vicious allegory of the Brothers Grimm, what with the ultraviolence and implied naughty bits. Reading it won't damage you in a noticeable way, but the exercise is beside the point other than to finally reveal the whereabouts of the three missing New Exiles, who, without a Tallus to guide them back to the Panoptichron, remain missing. The good news is that if you're right keen on swashbuckling sci-fi, these times belong to you. The bad news? Everybody's a Skrull, or so I hear...

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6
Nextwave: Agents Of HATE #3

Mar 28, 2006

Gosh, that was a short review (being as I'm notoriously long-winded). Bummer. Should you read this book? Sure, why not? It's amusing, it looks nice, it blends some decent sci-fi with typical Brit humour. Tabby gets to blow stuff up. What else is there to say?

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8
Nextwave: Agents Of HATE #5

May 29, 2006

"Widdle cuddly bears... of death?" You bet, Tabby, it's a cruel, cruel world.

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6
Planetary #24

Jan 27, 2006

I do not know wherein the breakdown lies. Cassaday has implied that Ellis takes forever with his scripts; Ellis is a very busy guy and is no doubt being very careful with what is de facto his principal book, but this explanation doesn't sit well. Taking into account the lengthy delays of Astonishing X-Men, and the curious shipping schedule for the second "year," Cassaday's claim of having a quick pencil is suspect. I suppose we could blame it all on the letterer(s)... However you slice it, the delays and dragged-out endgame play a significant role in rating the book. At some point, the entire run will be collected in a lovely, hardbound edition and be fully deserving of every accolade. In the meantime, I'll continue to crunch antacids and whine to my less and less sympathetic comic dealer.

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5
Runaways (2008) #5

Dec 23, 2008

Yes, all in all a very nice comic book. Faster, prettier, more clever and more fun than most of what's on the shelves any given Wednesday. Yet a disappointment from an internal perspective for, as I said, it's basically twenty-odd pages of running around. Oh, some things are accomplished, but they feel almost like window dressing for the non-action action. If this is your first attempt at Runaways, for the love of dogs don't let it be your last. If nothing else, give it another couple of issues to lure you in. For regular readers, don't adjust your set, everything should be right as rain this time next month.

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6
Secret Invasion: Inhumans #1

Aug 12, 2008

I should also mention the pristine quality of the preview copy. Recently, many PDF transfers have suffered miserably, by accident or design, and been all but unreadable. My sincerest regards to Marvel's publicity office for reversing this trend and allowing the art to stand or fall on its own merit (a little of both in this case).

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9
Secret Invasion: Thor #3

Oct 28, 2008

Curious thing, though: what became of Loki? Ah well, another reason for Fraction to again take up the challenge.

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6
The Twelve 1/2 #1

Sep 2, 2008

If you absolutely adore rare Golden Age stories, this is your book. Similarly, if you've had little or no exposure to the foundation upon which modern comics are based, it's worth your while. You'll get some proto-typical Wolverton, some neat and clean Shores, several panels of glowing Carreno, and some not so special Simon. You'll also get rather more of Stan the Man's vintage dialogue than you might otherwise desire, but it's harmless. There are no great highs and no terribly deep lows to be found. It all manages to average out. Straczynski's book, on the other hand... definitely worth a look.

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8
Thor: The Truth of History #1

Oct 21, 2008

In the end we're given a clever, thoughtful tale of Thor and the Warriors Three attempting to impose a modicum of justice on a strange land, with considerable humour interjected to avoid it becoming too ponderous an exercise in pseudo-history (the fate of the pharaoh definitely elicited a good larf). Fans of Davis' pencils (and Farmer's inks) should be sated as this was clearly a labour of love. Rob Schwager's contribution was wholly effective, from the primary colours of the Norse heroes to the bleached desolation of Giza, from the frozen wastes of the mountains of Asgard to the firelit claustrophobia of the tomb where Volstagg was to be sacrificed. I'm uncertain as to whether I'd encourage much further "explanation" of ancient mysteries, but if they're this much fun then the odd bit of comic revisionism is just fine.

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8
True Believers #1

Jul 29, 2008

As with the opening quote, there's nothing markedly profound to be had, but overall this issue presents an interesting if somewhat vague introduction to the characters (and, less vaguely, the plot). It does manage to provoke considerable curiosity of the most prurient kind as to what's next, however. I think I need to take a shower after this, but can't decide whether to make it hot or cold...

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8
True Believers #2

Aug 19, 2008

Even with Marvel's preview blurbs for the third and fourth issues, it's difficult to imagine exactly where things are headed. Since this is a Cary Bates book, you'll be able to jump on at any point without feeling abysmally lost, but go ahead and pick up any issues you've missed, if only for Gulacy and Beredo. If you're at all curious as to why I'm not giving this chapter every available bullet, it's mostly due to a certain detachment from the principal character. In fact, I find her somewhat irritating. But that's me, perhaps you'll be smitten.

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8
True Believers #5

Nov 25, 2008

Despite the somewhat clich final panel, the concluding chapter earns another near spotless rating. With luck we won't have to wait overly long for Bates to write another series, master of the genre as he is. Gulacy's always busy, of course, though it wouldn't hurt to track down a copy of the 30th anniversary edition of Sabre, due for release at the end of November. Meanwhile, keep believing.

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5
Ultimate Extinction #2

Feb 24, 2006

There are four issues to go. Based on the story so far, this will entail three and a half-ish issues of nattering to inch the story ahead, and a handful of pages of action mixed with grandeur. You may want to start a pool to guess whether the latter will occur in the fifth issue, leaving a long, lamentable denouement for the conclusion. Still, the Misty Knight story, and how it ties in with Moondoggie and the Silver Something, is curious and worth further exploration.

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4
Ultimate Extinction #5

Jun 8, 2006

Hang on... since no limit was imposed on the number of Silver Surfers that Gah-Lak-Tus could produce - we can be certain of three - um, why wouldn't they have attacked the Triskelion en masse to foil Xavier? It's not like Big G needed to know the details, he already recognized the place as a threat, as evidence: launching a Surfer right at it. Sorry, had to get that off my chest, carry on.

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6
Ultimate Fantastic Four #26

Feb 3, 2006

Oh, right, this was another flip-book, the reverse being the concluding chapter of the Ultimate Vision story. Ultimate or not, that ain't my Vizh, and Romita the Younger hasn't impressed me since Bob Layton finished his pencils on Iron Man. Having read about half of the Vision micro-series, I'm giving it a solid .

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7
Ultimate Fantastic Four #28

Mar 28, 2006

If the story or the illustration don't grab you, at least you get some Doombots, and that ain't bad.

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5
Ultimate Fantastic Four #30

Jun 9, 2006

As Reed, Sue and Ben are guided toward their first audience with the newly minted emperor, Zombie Sue decides that enough is enough, time to start spreading the sickness. And that's that. Considering how much is going on, very little actually happens. Millar has a history of playing the big setup only to renege on the climax. If he manages to tie everything together in the little time remaining - in an exciting and thoughtful way - he'll have established himself (further or finally, you decide) as one of comics greatest writers. I honestly hope he does. For the moment, however, things are moving a liiiiittle slow.

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6
Ultimate Fantastic Four #58

Nov 18, 2008

Story by committee is a soul destroying prospect though one, perhaps, that Pokaski is suited for, professionally if not temperamentally, given his television experience (where everything is derived from a committee structure, including those programs advertised or perceived as the work of a "single" vision). That doesn't forgive him the clunky flashback sequences and clunkier science, however. Paired with an ever improving team of illustrators balances out the net result but only to the point of thoroughly average. With at least some of the Ultimatum baggage now out of the way, let's hope that Pokaski's own voice manages to poke through and that it's worth hearing.

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8
Ultimate Origins #5

Oct 14, 2008

There's nought left to do but wait to see what Jeph Loeb has planned for the not-quite-end of the Ultimate universe. Good luck with that.

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8
Ultimates 2 #10

Mar 7, 2006

The next issue will probably be more set-up with, among other things, the Ultimates coming together to plan their moves. So long as Millar can maintain this edge and Hitch phones in another near masterpiece, thats fine by me.

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8
Ultimates 2 #11

Jun 25, 2006

The frantic pacing and continuity problems knock a bullet off the rating, but Ill happily give it back for the illustration. Now get real comfy, keep chanting patience is a virtue, and get ready for the final chapter. It oughtta be a hoot.

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6
Uncanny X-Men #505

Dec 16, 2008

Yes, all very average. Not something one expects from Fraction (for whom "slightly above average" should be a slight), but his hands appear to be tied to some extent, what with all the "Dark Reign" business looming overhead. The book concluded with Emma on the phone accepting a meeting with whom we (now) know. On the one hand, for those of us who have been waiting impatiently for Emma to go all evil again, we're another step closer. On the other, I'm already Normaned out, and it's only the second week. Could be worse, though, I could be Matt Fraction trying to write stories around the latest "event". Chin up, lad, it can't last much more than forever.

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6
What If? (2008): Secret Wars #1

Dec 30, 2008

The windy synopsis explains the players and the program and provides sufficient information to have saved the story from being set to music (or pen and ink, as the case may be). What's served is wholly predictable: fight scene, fight scene, redemption, fight scene, young romance, fight scene, clich final (full) page. Spaziante's work is easy to follow, though evokes a style more suited to New Exiles than the Runaways. With the exception of having completely borked Molly Hayes, his characters are approximately what we should expect, and his panel construction often clever without being ga-ga. One and one half silver dinguses (the three bullets at the top are solely for the Doom story). 'nuff said!

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5
X-Men: Magneto Testament #1

Sep 9, 2008

Reading Pak's story caused me to vividly recall yet another event in my life. In the Spring of 1986, prior to returning to school, I worked as an editor for Statistics Canada. There was quite a bit of actual editing involved, but the main thrust of the position was the distribution of census forms. I had a large section of East Riverdale in Toronto, among the most culturally and ethnically diverse areas on the planet. The forms were to be mailed back to a depot, sorted, then eventually forwarded back to me, and I'd conduct follow-ups in the event of error, omission, or ambiguity. I was also responsible for contacting households who failed to return their forms, which forms the crux of my story. With a roughly 65% initial return rate, that meant a lot of houses to re-visit. The vast majority of cases were due to forgetfulness, laziness, or some degree of confusion as to the mandatory nature of their return. I met a lot of wing-nuts in the process, and had more than a few run-ins

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7
Y: The Last Man #41

Jan 30, 2006

Y is rarely capital "G" Great; it is, however, completely reliable. That wouldn't be enough if it wasn't also consistently clever, compelling and, on occasion, moving. This was in every respect a perfectly average issue, prompting me to (continue to) look forward to the next one.

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9
Zombie Tales #4

Aug 25, 2008

Though I'm not a fan of horror comics - films and novels tend to work better for me - "Zaambi" is something entirely different. Not quite a masterpiece but definitely worth your time and effort.

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6
Zombie Tales #8

Dec 18, 2008

While slightly uneven and possessing it's share of flaws, this issue of Zombie Tales should appeal to both genre enthusiasts and comic book readers.

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