After missing my order last month, February 2024 independent comics exist again only in the Spawn Extended Comic Universe (SECU – tm, me?). By the looks of it, TMNT 150 got pushed back by a month and I just put it on my list for next month. Therefore, prepare for my journey through the SECU for this month.
Script/Plot: John Layman (with Uncle Todd on “Additional Script”, Artist: Stephen Segovia. A few issues ago, this one was my favorite of all the titles in the SECU. Yep, I’m gonna overuse that until it’s dead by the end of the article. Sorry, I miss TMNT. In regards to this issue, it serves its purpose as a bridge to show the new dynamics of the team and introduce a new character, The Viscerator. My verdict: Decent.
King Spawn #28/#30
Script/Plot: Uncle Todd, Art: Javi Fernandez. Not sure why they sent two nonsequential issues of King Spawn, but here we are. The first shows Al traveling through hell with the corpse of a demon that he killed. A few conflicts that are easily resolved and apparently the journey continues in the missing issue. Because, then, Al faces off with Wanda as his companion on the journey. I enjoyed this part of the story and Uncle Todd promises a big payoff in number 350. Also, I enjoy Javi Fernandez’s art. My verdict: Good.
Story/Plot: Rory McConville with Todd McFarlane on additional script, Art: Carlo Barberi. All of these issues feel slightly underwhelming. It took until this issue and the connection to King Spawn that I understood. They’re setting us up for the big conclusion in a couple of issues. I suppose I made the initial connection in Scorched when I called it a bridge article. Well, the whole of it right now feels like a bridge. But, again, great art. My verdict: Good.
So, the SECU (okay, I used it less than anticipated) brought mostly just a bridge (I used that more than anticipated, though, trying to avoid “filler”) between the previous story and a promised payoff in Spawn 350. February 2024 independent comics was missing something. Yes, that’s just another reason for me to write that TMNT never showed this month.
The comics arrived in the mail as they always do. I wrote the plans in my book for this week. Independent on Monday. DC on Wednesday. Marvel on Friday. Then, this week came and went with no comic reviews posted to the page. Recognizing my oversight, I gave you a bonus article yesterday about the Marvel SNAP new season. Then, I reworked the plan to post all of the reviews this weekend starting with today and December 2023 Independent Comics.
In addition to the Spawniverse and TMNT that usually populate this article, DCBS sent me two copies of a new book entitled Unnatural Order. So, I tossed it into the pile and you get another bonus of an additional book reviewed in this article. With no further delay, let’s get into the books.
Unnatural Order #1
Writer: Christopher Yost, Artist: Val Rodrigues. From the back cover: After the fall of the Britons and the Roman invasion of Hibernia, the captive known only as the druid is released, sending a darkness across the world. An age of horrors, of fire and entrails, as the innocdnt burn in the wicker fields, those who would resist learn of the existence of a man who even the druid fears. for it is this prisoner, a soldier from a different time, who alone knows that druid’s secret. This is not how the world is supposed to be. They deliver on that and more in this first issue. I’ll give them that. Wild story that caught my attention. But, I’m not sure if I’ll read it or not. Might have to give it another shot to see if it’s my style of book. My verdict: Decent.
Gunslinger Spawn #26
Writer: Uncle Todd. Artist: Dexter Soy. The book got away from what makes it fun/interesting. Okay, that’s not entirely true. They just got sloppy. Rushed story and art. Repeated typos. The last two issues have been much cleaner. My verdict: Not as good a follow up to the great last issue, but still very good.
King Spawn #27
Writer: Uncle Todd. Artist: Javi Fernandez. Goes on a deep dive into Al’s past and explores how that past set him on his path to become Spawn. My verdict: It wants to be great. But, it feels either too cliche or hits too close to home for me. Almost great.
Writer: John Layman. Artist: Stephen Segovia. Spawn faces off against Gaia for the soul of She-Spawn. He wins, but at what cost? Another one where I like the idea and execution, but minor flaws. My verdict: My favorite of the three and just a hair from being great.
Writer: Rory McConville with additional plot from Uncle Todd. Artist: Carlo Barberi. Continues the story of the previous issues. Solid issue that advances the story and keeps things moving. Also starts to tie in the supporting issues. Solid book, but lags behind the supporting titles right now. My verdict: Good.
Writer: Sophie Campbell. Artist: Vincenzo Federici. My favorite book not named She-Hulk right now. This issue is fun and funny and it fills some of the blanks at the end. Plus, a shout out to prehistoric Northampton, Massachusetts. My verdict: Great
Independent comics December 2023 brings some great stories. The Spawniverse is rounding into shape again. The Turtles are great as they always have been since I started reading the title during Armageddon Game. The jury remains out on Unnatural Order, but I have faith that it will be a good story if I keep reading it.
Spawn images taken from the mothership. TMNT book snapped from IDW. Unnatural Order courtesy of Vault.
I neglected my articles last week. Grades were due for the first quarter at school. I stayed home on Wednesday with a migraine. So, I focused on keeping the podcasts and videos going instead of the articles. But, I’m back this week with the comics reviews as promised. I start with October 2023 independent comics. Last month brought some uneven quality with the Spawn titles, but Ninja Turtles redeemed the month.
Writer: Uncle Todd, Artist: Brett Booth. They dial up the ultraviolence and the naughty words in this one. As far as I can tell, this is a one shot (or maybe part of another ongoing) because only Gunslinger stars in this one. Typical revenge family. My verdict: Decent.
King Spawn 26
Writer: Sean Lewis, Artist: Javi Fernandez. Also a trail of bodies left in his wake. But, we are spared most of the gore in this one. He searches after an entity known as “The Visage”. Asks her for help in preventing Cog from ascending to the throne. I like this approach much more than the Gunslinger in your face. My verdict: Good.
Writer: Sean Lewis, Artist: Stephen Segovia. She-Spawn is back and she’s different. Or, is she just all that she was ever meant to be? In any case, she’s pissed at just about everyone, especially her team that she blames for her death. This isn’t over. My verdict: Great
Writer: Rory McConville (with Uncle Todd on additional script), Artist: Carlo Barberi. They keep building this story. I just noticed that it’s the big 350 in 4 months. So, that makes sense. While a bit of a slower issue this time around which mostly focuses on the machinations of each faction, it does give Spawn a reason to care with a slaughter of several of his allies. My verdict: Good.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 144
Writer: Sophie Campbell (with Kevin Eastman as story consultant), Artist: Gavin Smith. I wrote several times during this story that I worried about a drop off in quality from the Armageddon Game. Obviously, that happened (you can’t keep up that pace forever), but not as much as I feared. Campbell built this story with a compelling narrative and sympathetic characters. She finishes it off with a thrilling conclusion. She also expertly sets up the next story. I, for one, hope she writes this book forever. My verdict: Great
October 2023 independent comics brings us a more consistent Spawniverse (good thing because I heard they want to add books to the line up?!) and the consistent awesomeness of the turtles. I need to expand this section and I’ll take some of Chris’s suggestions from the Spooktober discussion in 2 Guys Gaming. See you next month!
Spawn images taken from the mothership. TMNT from IDW.
I scheduled this article for yesterday. Then, yesterday required me to pick up Aiden from soccer, make dinner (I thought for two days), and record Episode 1 of the reboot of the reboot of 2 Guys Gaming podcast. Then, Quinn and I planned to camp tonight and tomorrow night. But, I screwed that up and apparently never booked the site. So, we are home and I am writing the August 2023 independent comics article.
I mean, this week already went through a few iterations. The end of the summer always messes with me and my timing. Finally, I settled on making it the comics week and moving some other things around. With DC Comics on a “Knight Terrors” break, I luckily received a DC Manga Sampler and that gave me plenty to discuss. This article continues the trend of Spawn Universe and TMNT.
Gunslinger Spawn #23
Writer: Uncle Todd. Artist: Brett Booth. A coupel of issues ago when I picked this book up and started reading it, I infered (or outright said), “Violator fighting a T-Rex? What more do you want?” Well, a couple of issues later, I can’t exactly answer that question other than with, well, “More.” This story thudded back to the ground in this issue. The pacing felt off, I noticed at least one typo, and the writing just comes off as rushed. My Verdict: Decent
King Spawn #25
Writer: Uncle Todd. Artist: Javi Fernandez. Up until now, this one topped my list of the Spawniverse titles. Granted, it still does, but with Scorched oddly not showing up in my box this month, that list reads as much shorter. And, this one suffers from the same rushed feeling as Gunslinger this month. I noticed a typo in this one, too, and the Spawn/Clown routine leaves me wondering what the heck is happening right now. Perhaps they bit off more than they can chew. I’ll chalk it up to growing pains right now. My verdict: Decent.
Writer: Rory McConville. Artist: Carlo Barberi. This one actually anchored the Spawniverse this month. I think it’s been quite a while since we could say that. Sure, it insists on dragging the Heaven/Hell war out. Some people might be into that. I am not. Other than that, though, it explains Spawn’s actions in King Spawn and sets up for his intervention to hopefully end Heaven’s and Hell’s machination for the forseeable future. Maybe Scorched fills in some of the details, too, and that’s what I’m missing this month. My verdict: Good.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #142
Writer: Sophie Campbell (with Story Consulting by Kevin Eastman. Artist: Gavin Smith. I wrote that the book took a bit of a dip after Armageddon Game. It was to be expected. That story ramped things up to 11 (or maybe even 12 or 13) and anything after, by comparison, seems tame. Well, it didn’t take long for them to start ratcheting things up again. I blew through this book because the pacing felt so urgent. The turtles deal with the after effects of Armageddon Game and feel the family fracturing a bit as a result. Sophie Campbell just knows how to write this book. I can’t wait for next month. My verdict: Good, bordering on Great.
August 2023 Independent Comics fell off a bit from previous months. The Spawn books, other than the main title, felt rushed and up against a deadline. But, TMNT more than made up for the drop in quality. That book alone makes me excited for what’s coming in September.
Usually, we lead off comics week every month with independent comics. Then, we move on to DC and finish the week with Marvel. Sometimes, we set aside an article for a landmark issue. This week, things look very different for two reasons. First, DC released their Knight Terrors event. Therefore, I received about 50 DC books this month. I also forgot to order most of the number 2 issues from next month. So, I still start this week with July 2023 independent comics.
However, because of the ordering SNAFU, Marvel Comics comes on Tuesday. Then, we travel to Cape Cod for our annual trip on Wednesday and come back next week. So, because of both of these reasons, DC Comics this month and next will probably be reviewed in two parts next month after I go to the local comic store to pick up the second issues.
Gunslinger Spawn #22
Script/Plot: Uncle Todd, Art: Brett Booth. In my introduction to the book last month, Gunslinger brought dinosaurs vs. demons. What do Uncle Todd and company do to top that this month? They give us the epic battles between Gunslinger and Clown and T-Rex and Violator. Worth the price of admission and left me off on a cliffhanger. My Verdict: Great.
King Spawn #24
Script/Plot: Sean Lewis (with Uncle Todd on additional script, Art: Javi Fernandez. I picked the right time to pick up these books. This one continues the “Dark Horror” story from the main title. As one of my favorite stories from the last decade of comics, I welcome the additional content. Plus, clown makes an appearance. My Verdict: Great.
Script/Plot: Sean Lewis (with Uncle Todd on additional script. Art: Stephen Segovia. This story interests me less than the other ones in the ongoing. I thought it was interesting that I joined the comic right after they buried the cover hero for the story, She-Spawn. She resurrected at the end of the last book and they introduced her new for at the end of this one, so maybe I’ll like it better with that angle. My verdict: Good.
Script/Plot: Rory McConville (with Uncle Todd on additional script. Art: Carlo Barberi. They started this one by laying off the Heaven/Hell war a bit, which I appreciate. Of all the storylines in the Spawniverse, I think that one’s the weakest. So, when they come back to it at the end, the issue lost some appeal for me. But, they seem to maybe be setting up a crossover with Gunslinger, so that could be fun. My verdict: Good.
Story: Sophie Campbell (with Kevin Eastman as story consultant), Art: Gavin Smith. As you all know, I joined the Turtles during the Armageddon Game story. I’m glad I did. I often avoided the comic because they sold it as a “grittier” version of the team that I remember from my youth. That may be true, but I still recognize these guys. I thought there might be a drop off from the event books, but not by much. This story is fun and engaging and quick moving so far. Can’t wait to see where it goes. My verdict: Good, bordering on great.
July 2023 independent comics brings a good to great slate of books for the second month in a row. Even if I don’t like all of the Spawn storylines, I still enjoy the writing and art. I stayed away from the extended Spawniverse because I didn’t want to fan boy too hard and thought they might just be more of the same. I should have known better. And, I already talked about my mistake of not reading TMNT. Join us again next month to see where the books take us!
Note: All Spawn images taken from the main Image site.
As mentioned several times in articles and podcast episodes, my wife, Liam, and I went to Germany for Liam’s high school graduation. I got the idea from talking to a student who went to Disney for theirs. I thought, why not give our kids a chance at a trip of their choice when they graduate. Well, he immediately knew that he wanted to go to Germany. In spite of the length of the trip, I kept the page going with the “From the Vault” series in which I reposted a few articles from our past. And, now, I return live with June 2023 independent comics I love.
But, before that, I enjoyed the trip very much. We traveled to three countries, saw countless historical and natural wonders, and already started to plan the next trip. We either intend to travel to other countries in central Europe or finally cross the UK off our list. I think it will be the UK and then the other countries in five or so years. We plan to go domestic and then overseas for about 5-9 years until we can work for the Department of Defense and live over there for a bit. But, none of that has to do with comics. So, on with the reviews.
These indpendent articles usually only contain Spawn and, on occasion, a random independent comic that accidentally got sent to me or one that I ordered on a whim. Every now and then, I remember one of Chris’s recommendations and order that. Well, this (and future) articles are only different in that I put all four of the Spawn’s Universe comics on my pull list. I also added TMNT after Armageddon game. Hey, I’m branching out!
I think when I mentioned to Chris that after I learned about the new Spawn related titles, he said something about enjoying Gunslinger. If so, then I 100% agree. I broke my X-Men rule for these books and just dove right in without any backstory. This issue captured me from the first page. Gunslinger and his accomplice ride dinosaurs into battle against Maelbolgia and Vindicator. Hell yes. The rest of the book tells the story of how they arrived at that battle. I’m looking forward to this one next month. My verdict: Great.
King Spawn #23
Writer: Sean Lewis with Uncle Todd as additional script, Artist: Kevin Keane
I recognized immediately that this book’s story follwed the “Dark Horror” arc from the main title. That’s my favorite Spawn arc of the last decade and is in my top 10 for comics arcs since I started collecting again. I might even say top 5. Quick analysis and I can’t think of many more that I enjoyed as much as that one. While this arc only peripherally contains story elements from that arc, it still gave me enough of that story to push it into the top tier for these books. My verdict: Great.
Writer: Sean Lewis with Uncle Todd as additional script, Artist: Stephen Segovia
She-Spawn is dead. What the hell? We’re only 19 issues into this thing and one of the cover characters is already dead? Well, okay, let’s see what it’s about anyway. The book is fine. I like the characters on the team and look forward to seeing how they interact when they’re not stressed out because one of them is “dead”. I figured that out pretty quickly. Also, the story felt kind of lukewarm and a bit to obvious for me. Overall, a decent introduction and I’ll read the other issues to see how we got here and if it changes my mind at all. My verdict: Good.
Writer: Rory McConville with Uncle Todd as additional script, Artist: Carlo Barberi
I think I mentioned in a previous article that the new focus on the war between Heaven and Hell leaves me underwhelmed. I get that’s the main theme behind the book. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’ll admit that this issue added a wrinkle that made it more interesting. Having bought nearly an entire run of the book 3 times, I intend to keep collecting and reading. I just hope they give us a different arc soon. My verdict: Good.
TMNT #140 (After Armageddon)
Writer: Sophia Campbell with Kevin Eastman as story consultant, Artist: Gavin Smith, Image from Previews World.
I thought the book might suffer from a bit of a let down after such a long an ambitious even. While there is some of that, the book sets us up nicely for the next arc. I can’t think of a reason I never collected the Turtles before this, but I think it had to do with the book being called “gritty” or some such nonsense. I do remember Chris wanting to go off on the podcast when they teased “killing” one of the turtles several years ago. But, I’m glad they hooked me with the event and I plan to keep collecting and fill in the back issues that I can. My verdict: Good.
Those are the June 2023 independent comics I love. Overall, the future of all of these series looks bright to me and I look forward to filling in some of the back stories. When I said earlier that I fell into a Spawn rabbit hole, that means that I tried to track down all of the back issues of those books. I succeeded in finding all but maybe 3 or 4 of them. Now, as I say, my focus becomes The Turtles. Tell me about some of the June 2023 independent comics you love in th ecomments.
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