Comic Review – The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson #5

The Further Adventures Of Nick Wilson #5 Cover

It’s the opening day of The Nick Wilson Experience – a museum devoted to Earth’s first (and so far only) superhero. All-American Nick Wilson lost his powers almost as quickly as he gained them, falling far from the heights of fame and fortune he once enjoyed. He had been squeaking out a shameful living as a Nick Wilson impersonator at children’s birthday parties. Now, he’s getting ready to start earning an even more shameful living working for his former arch-enemy – billionaire genius Clive Morganfield – who financed The Nick Wilson Experience as a tax dodge and a way to finally “win” their rivalry by putting Nick under his control.

At least, that was Clive’s plan. There’s just one problem. Nick is MIA!

Has Nick regained his powers? Or maybe his self-respect? No, he’s searching downtown Cleveland for the bookstore that employs some woman he met at a bar, whose contact info he forgot to get.

Will Nick find the woman of his dreams? Will he find a way to be a hero and strike a blow for good without superpowers? Will Clive succeed in his evil schemes? And most importantly, will we see Further Adventures of Nick Wilson after The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson #5?

The Further Adventures Of Nick Wilson #5 Variant Cover

Clearly, I’m not going to answer those first few questions, but the last question can be answered with a resounding “yes”! At least, if writer Marc Andreyko’s afterword about this being “the end of the first Nick Wilson mini-series” can be believed. I think it can, but it’s worth noting that Andreyko also notes that he doesn’t know “when I will visit with Nick and Jane and Xavier…”

Hopefully the wait between visits will not be a long one, because this little series was something magical. The characters created by Andreyko and Eddie Gorodetsky feel like real people despite inhabiting an unreal world. The odds are good you know a lovable shlub like Nick or a woman like Jane who was the girl everyone wanted to be or be with in high school only to have everything go south after graduation. If you’re unlucky you probably know someone like Clive Morganfield, who will use whatever power they can get their hands on to indulge their petty grudges and devote their lives to feuds that no one else cares about.

Another interesting note is the way the series turns the city of Cleveland itself into a character. Cities have character, of course – personalities all their own. Yet few comic book settings ever seem to establish their own unique aura, with the notable exceptions of Gotham City as envisioned by Tim Burton, Metropolis as written by Dan Jurgens or James Robinson’s Opal City in Starman.

Talking of Starman, former Starman artist Stephen Sadowski brings it home with his performance on this final issue. His work is always fantastic, but the work here sets a new high-water mark. The colors and lettering, by Hi-Fi and A Larger World respectively – are also fantastic.

I don’t know when we’ll meet Nick Wilson and company again. I just hope that we do. And if we do not, we still got one heck of a story with great artwork before it ended. If you haven’t been picking up this series, be sure to order the trade-paperback collection that will be coming out soon. I will be very surprised if this series doesn’t get nominated for at least one Eisner.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – The Further Adventures Of Nick Wilson

The Further Adventures Of Nick Wilson #1 Cover
Nick Wilson was once the most powerful superhero on Earth. In fact, he was the ONLY superhero on Earth. Fresh out of high-school, Nick somehow acquired the full complement of super powers. Flying. Super Strength. Bullet-Proof Skin?  The works! Though he donned the traditional cape and tights, Nick never bothered with a secret identity, a mask or a code name. He was always Nick Wilson and Nick Wilson became rich, famous and had his pick of all the beautiful women he wanted.

Then Nick lost his powers, as mysteriously as he gained them, The fame and fortune dried up. The women vanished. Now Nick is stuck eking out a living appearing at children’s birthday parties while pretending to be a Nick Wilson impersonator. It’s not much but it pays the bills on his one room apartment and his medical marijuana prescription. Or it would if Nick didn’t give away so many free appearances to needy kids.

Despite everything in his life going south and having become a national joke whose bad luck is tabloid fodder, Nick is still a hero at heart. But with his 30th birthday approaching, Nick is searching his life for meaning and a new direction even before he gets a phone call from his high-school sweetheart. And unbeknownst to Nick, there’s someone else from his past who wants to see him again too…

Deconstructions of the superhero genre are nothing new, whether they are played straight (as in Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns) or played for laughs. The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson is definitely played for laughs but unlike the vast majority of stories that make light of costumed crime-fighters, its humor hits the target more often than not.

This is entirely due to the skillful script-writing and storytelling of Eddie Gorodetsky and Marc Andreyko. Emmy-winner Gorodetsky, a former writer for Saturday Night Live and Batman The Animated Series, and Marc Andreyko (who won an Eisner for his work on Dr. Strange) clearly know comedy and superheroes. What makes this first issue work so well, however, is that the script is almost entirely devoted toward developing Nick as a character and making him into a sympathetic protagonist that the audience wants to root for. We are made to care about Nick because we see that he is a good man dealt a bad hand, rather than a figure of pity. That doesn’t stop us from laughing as he copes with indignity after indignity, of course, but it makes the story much stronger.

Steve Sadowski – perhaps best known for his work at DC Comics on Starman and JSA – proves the perfect artistic partner to Gorodetskyand Andreyko’s production. I’ll admit a bias as Starman is my favorite comic series of all time (it’s responsible for my nickname, for those who care), but Sadowski’s streamlined yet detail-driven style suits this story just fine. Sadowski is versatile enough to depict both superheroic and slice-of-life sequences.

A word of warning, however. Despite the light tone and cheerful artwork, this is definitely NOT a kid-friendly title. There’s a liberal amount of expletives, adult situations and one embarrassing pixelated picture of Nick Wilson and three ladies in a compromising position. Mature readers with a decidedly immature streak, however, will love the laughs this book delivers and anxiously await Niick’s further adventures.


The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson comes out January 17, 2018.

Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

TP Review – Happy

Happy TP Cover
Once upon a time, Nick Sax was an idealistic cop with a pretty young wife and a great future ahead of him.  That was before the realities of the job, a corrupt department and an affair with his partner cost him everything.

Now, Nick is a hitman and an alcoholic. He suffers from eczema and doesn’t suffer fools. He’s also very good at his job, but being good will only get you so far.

When Nick’s latest assignment goes wrong, he winds up strapped to a gurney in the back of an ambulance with a bullet in his side and the cops and the mob on his tail. Plenty of trouble to worry about without Nick starting to hallucinate due to the pain and his current bender. Unfortunately, that is when Nick sees the little blue pony…

This Christmas Eve, Nick Sax will become a hero again, however reluctantly. Because a deranged child-killer who dresses as Santa Claus is out there. A little girl named Hailey is in danger. The only one who knows how to find Hailey is her imaginary friend, Happy The Horse. And Nick Sax is the only other person who can see Happy…

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Most readers will come to Happy due to its recent adaptation into a television series for the Syfy network by Crank writer/director Brian Taylor. Others may come as fans of geek icon Patton Oswalt, who voices Happy The Horse in the new series. Still others will be drawn to the promise of dark humor in a holiday-themed setting.

Comic fans need no such excuses. They already know that Happy will be good because of the talent involved. The series was written by Grant Morrison – one of the most prolific and eclectic writers in Western graphic literature. The artwork is by the equally legendary Darick Robertson, best known for his work on the The Boys and Transmetropolitan – two other mature readers’ titles that, to borrow a tagline from the commercials for Happy the TV show, put the “graphic” in “graphic novel”.

The artwork in Happy is nothing if not graphic. There’s no outright nudity though there are a few mostly bare bottoms. There’s a lot of violence and Robertson lovingly depicts it in every gory bit of detail. He also does a fantastic job of capturing the Noir aesthetic of Morrison’s script. He also draws a mighty fine cute cartoon horsey.

To state the obvious, Happy is not appropriate reading for children. To be brutally honest, Happy is probably not appropriate reading for adults. While this is far from the oddest thing Grant Morrison has ever written, it is perhaps his darkest and least hopeful work to date.

The odd thing is how lifeless the script for Happy seems in spite of that. Morrison has written some great comics but there’s little evidence of the spark that usually infuses Morrison’s dialogue here. Wit is replaced with expletives and one almost feels like Morrison was purposely trying to write like frequent Robertson collaborator Garth Ennis. Whatever his intentions, Morrison’s dialogue here comes off as a half-hearted parody of Frank Miller’s work on Sin City.

Happy is a good read but fans of Morrison’s earlier works may find it disappointing outside of its concept. There’s little of the sense of wacky fun promised by the base idea and Morrison’s earlier work. Still, Darick Robertson’s artwork is as fantastic as ever and that alone should be reason enough to get Happy.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Witchblade (2017) #1

Alex Underwood had always wanted to make a difference – first as a reporter and then as a social worker. Merely wanting to make the world a better place is not enough, alas, and Alex Underwood died. She was gunned down by the husband of one of her clients while in the midst of searching for the hotel maid who could collaborate her client’s stories of abuse.

That should have been the end of Alex Underwood… but something brought her back.

Alex Underwood has become the latest host of The Witchblade – an ancient artifact which grants the women it bonds to amazing mystic powers. Unfortunately, Alex is convinced that the voice in her head speaking to her of the amazing power she now commands and warning her of the demons that now seek her destruction is only the latest in a series of PTSD-fueled delusions that plagued her for years following her being taken hostage.

Hallucination or not, Alex is not the sort of person who gives up without a fight. And with or without mystic powers, she still has a client who needs protection from a dangerous man. Unfortunately, as Alex hunts her client and the abusive husband who is trying to kill her, so too are the demonic enemies of The Witchblade hunting her while she is still weak and forming her bond with the weapon.

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Born of the “bad-girl” boom of the mid-1990s in the midst of what became known as The Dark Age of Comics, Witchblade was not originally friendly to female readers. The most famous “power” of The Witchblade was ripping off whatever clothes its host was wearing whenever it activated in order to sprout metal bikini armor that left little to the imagination and offered little protection! This “feature” was dropped in recent years but a Google image search for Witchblade still brings up pages upon pages of cheesecake-driven cover art.

Thankfully, such blatant fan-service is absent from the new Witchblade series. The artwork by Roberta Ingranata is free of gratuitous posing and idealized body types. The aesthetic is all about action, with even the static scenes of people in an office talking having a continual sense of motion as the point-of-view jumps from panel to panel. The colors by Bryan Valenza establish a cool, muted feeling which well-fits the winter setting and the idea of Alex returning from the dead.

In terms of writing, the focus in this first issue is on character, not concept. While a brief overview is given of The Witchblade’s history, Caitlin Kittredge’s script is primarily concerned with defining Alex Underwood as the sort of person who would live a hero’s life even without a magical bracelet. Giving Alex anxiety issues and a history of PTSD puts an interesting wrinkle on the classic hero’s journey, as Alex isn’t entirely sure that she can believe what is going on around her. It also makes her seem all the stronger as a character that she carries on doing the right thing despite her uncertainty.

If you haven’t read Witchblade before, you can jump into this issue without worry. If you have read Witchblade before, you’ll find this to be a welcome new spin on the classic concept. The only readers likely to walk away from this book unsatisfied are those who only read the original series for the pictures.


Witchblade #1 releases on December 6, 2017.

Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – The God Complex #1

Behold the futuristic city of Delphi. A marvel of technology, Delphi is controlled by The Rulers – an upper-class of those gifted with the power to navigate The Stream.

The Stream is the collective hive-mind of humanity, containing all the currents of human thought, imagination and information. Through The Stream, The Rulers control every aspect of the lives of their followers like the gods of old. Indeed, The Rulers – who hide their true faces behind ornate masks – take their names from the ancient gods.

Enter Seneca – a young digital forensics investigator in the Delphi Police Force. Raised in the traditions of The Trinity Church, Seneca left them after the death of his mother. Now nominally sworn to serve The Rulers of Delphi, Seneca doesn’t quite trust the Olympian-themed Rulers either.

Thankfully Seneca’s boss – The Ruler Hermes – doesn’t take offense at Seneca’s cynicism. Hermes is the sort to prefer honest criticism to faint praise hiding fear. He also enjoys Seneca’s tendency to question everything and not settle for easy answers.

Seneca’s dark nature hides a darker secret – one he hides from even his girlfriend, Jess. Occasionally he hears a voice. Not voices – just a singular voice. Seneca’s secret may be tied to his latest case – the mysterious murder of three Trinity clerics, their tongues count out in a ritualistic manner. But what is the connection? And why has Seneca attracted the attention of The Ruler known as Apollo?


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Born of the same cyberpunk roots that inspired the Blade Runner films and the Deus Ex video game series, God Complex #1 offers a disturbing view of a future not too far removed from our own. Self-made, digitally-savvy gods manipulate our perceptions from a virtual reality beyond our conception. This fact doesn’t bother most people, however, with the teeming masses content to move from moment to moment, throwing their energies into worship of their icons or unthinking hedonism.

Our protagonist, Seneca, is different. Cut from the same mold as Rick Deckard and Henry Case, Seneca is the classic cyberpunk anti-hero. He feels an uneasy emptiness inside but cannot give voice as to why. He sees himself as standing apart from the common clay, yet seeks connection with others. He sees the futility of his bleak existence but longs to lose that awareness rather than change his circumstances.

Writer Paul Jenkins (HellblazerWolverine: Origin,The Sentry) does a fantastic job of bringing Bryan Lie’s concept to life. While there’s not much in this first chapter’s story beyond the standard cyberpunk tropes, the concept of The Rulers is novel enough to encourage hope in this series’ future. Jenkins also has a great ear for dialogue and Seneca’s internal monologues perfectly suit the future noir aesthetic of the story.

The artwork by Hendry Prasetya and Jessica Kholinne proves equally inspiring, establishing a world that is full of bright lights and visible noise yet seems shrouded in darkness and decay. Their visualization of The Stream bears mentioning, seemingly inspired by William Gibson’s Neuromancer and the concept of ICE, with The Stream appearing as motes of light flowing through the air, forming a second world lain over the real one.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.