Bagged and Boarded Comic Reviews: Willow, Animal Man, and More!


New comic book Wednesday has come and gone. The dust at your local comic shop has settled. An eerie silence descends as you finish reading your last superhero book of the week. Now it's time for something a little more sinister. Welcome to Bagged and Boarded: comic reviews of the sick, spooky, twisted and terrifying!

Willow No. 1

Another new entry into the series of comics creating a "9th Season" of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Willow focuses on the titular character as she quests to get magic back into the real world. Willow's been feeling the hurt as she lives without her powers in a world that constantly drains all imagination, flavor, and fun. With the help of a motley crew of adventurers, she's headed to another world where she believes magic may exist in abundance. The plan is to get in, tap some magic for Earth, and get out.

Bag it or board it up? Some of the Buffy comics really rely on the reader being fluent in the universe of the show. Willow is greatly aided by such knowledge but even without that background this is still a fun book full of adventure and magic. Putting a fantasy spin on Willow and her comrades, this series promises to have a lot of high adventure and a lot of snarky wit.

Animal Man No. 14

The forces of the rot are turning much of the world into a mutated nightmare. The troubled hero Animal Man has been split up from his monstrous buddy Swamp Thing and now he's got to find a way to stop the madness. All around him heroes have turned their backs on goodness and are mutated into fleshy, rotten monstrosities. Now it's Animal Man and a really rag-tag group of superheroes (Beast Boy, Steel, Constantine) trying to fend off the rot.

Bag it or board it up? I'm conflicted here. I love this story. I think the new Swamp Thing comics coming out are amazing. But reading it without knowing mountains of lore and backstory is… troubling. It's like being on an acid trip. Mutated heroes, talking animals, dogs with wings, it's all nuts. I'm all for experimental comics, and this is as close as we'll get to a truly avant comic from one of "The Big Two," but Animal Man really isn't for the uninitiated (I guess it never was, though…).

Nancy in Hell on Earth No. 4

Nancy was killed, cast into hell by a mad scientist/monster, and used her mental willpower to call forth a chainsaw. After hacking her way through hell, the girl comes back to earth, where angels, demons, and regular people all fight and die and freak out and get naked. It's all a mess, and Nancy tries to save the day and wrap up a billowing storyline.

Bag it or board it up? I guess if you like gratuitous nudity for no reason (the angels are all topless supermodels) you may like this comic. The story is weak. The artwork feels like a cross between Crossed (wildly violent, depraved, etc.) and the way Mike Judge draws women in Beavis and Butthead. Seriously. Not sexy. Whatever, move on. And the cover art, which was drawn to mimic an old grindhouse poster, looked so amazing. What a shame.

Colder No. 1

An evil sprite, or demon, or other-planar trickster, or… something, named Nimble Jack creeps and climbs around feeding on the madness of others. In the 1940s he delights in the destruction of a mental institution and tells a man named Declan that he'll feel "colder" - and we cut to present day. This magical creeper flits around Boston until he comes into contact with Declan again, who is in a frozen state at a cute nurse's house.

Bag it or board it up? This comic is very hard to summarize. It has a lot going on, and the art is very tricky and interesting. This may not be a cut-and-dry comic, but it was a lot of fun to read and it's a series I will definitely follow moving forward.