Astonishing Comics and Games

The place to be for Comics and Games in Cincinnati! We strive to bring those hard to find issues right to your doorstep! We have an abundance of first appearances and other key issues. If we don't have something you're looking for, just ask -- we'll go above and beyond to find the comic you want, for the price you want, and in the condition you want. 

End of the Chapter

    We sadly announce that we are closing our physical location for Astonishing Comics and Games. We will be moving the business in the direction of an online presence, and attending comic conventions across the Midwest for the time being. This decision did not come lightly, but I personally wish to pursue my previous career more aggressively, and also return to school to become an instructor myself. Logistically speaking, this is impossible to accomplish while maintaining a small business as a sole owner. I have been personally in awe at the amount of support from the community we built together. This is not the end of Astonishing Comics and Games, but just the closing of this chapter. 
    I would like to personally apologize to any customers that felt broadsided by the store closing. That was never my intention, but due to legal matters, I was informed to not announce anything publicly. I did my best to notify customers as they visited the store over the last few weeks of us being open, but I was unable to notify all of our customers. Once again, I apologize to anyone who feels slighted by the lack of communication about our closing the store. 
    I know this has left some customers wondering where to go to continue to take part in the various things we offered at Astonishing Comics and Games. For those that don’t know, we tried our best to make a smooth transition to other stores for various gaming events that we hosted; Rockin Roosters, Arkham House Games, Epic Loot, and Gameswap. Likewise on the comic side of things, we suggested stores that shared similar practices to our own, including offering Pull List for New Comics; once again Rockin Roosters, and Nostalgia Ink.
    I personally know the Owners, or have taken the opinions of trusted individuals. We worked hard to build the community we had at Astonishing, and more credit goes to the customers than to me. I simply offered a venue, with a relaxed atmosphere, and positivity. So when I say that I trust these named stores to handle our community in the same manner that we did at Astonishing, you can believe it. I personally will be visiting all these stores myself to participate in various gaming events, and pick up my own pull lists. I’ll see all of you around. 
    Now sadly, not everyone in our local community is positive. There are some that would spread negativity with a smile, and play the victim. I implore everyone to form their own opinions, but also be aware, that not every store in Cincinnati carries themselves in the same manner as we all did at Astonishing. Those individuals will be weeded out in the years to come.
    As I said before, I will be around in the community as I was before opening Astonishing Comics and Games. This is not the end, so stay tuned for the future of Astonishing Comics and Games. 

 

Journey to Star Wars Force Awakens #1-3

Star Wars Force Awakens is right around the corner. To gear up for it, Marvel has released Journey to Star Wars Force Awakens; Shattered Empires. We're up to issue #3 so far, and with that release under our belt, it's time for a review of the series thus far. 

In issue #1, we pick up right where we left off at the end of Return of the Jedi. We follow a Lt Bey, who was apart of the Rebel Squadrons that took down the Death Star. Iconic characters make appearances, Han Solo and Princess Leia so far. The story jumps off with the premise that the War is not over, which seems to be in line with the first trailers we've seen from Star Wars Force Awakens. 

Emperor Palpatine is still giving commands from beyond grave to the Imperial Army, which could suggest a multitude of things. From the obvious, that he is really dead and has left instructions and messages for further actions to be carried out, to fan theories that pertain to him being as powerful as Obi-Wan and able to communicate from beyond. A certain character is teased for a re-appearance in the near future as well on the planet Naboo. From these scenes in issue #3, you could surmise a couple of different theories, one simply is that Leia is more in tune with the Force than she is currently aware, to there may be reincarnation or cloning going on in the near future for key characters that we previously thought were dead. 

Overall, Shatter Empires is a fantastic read by itself. It puts the action before the drama, which we are missing so much these days from various media. I hate reading a comic that has 25 pages of social drama, and then two pages of actual action. The characters introduced for the series thus far are well developed, and portray people who have been caught up in war for too long. We highly recommend picking up this series if you're not already! 

Battle For Zendikar Pre-Release

      Battle for Zendikar has come and gone, and with it, some very great experiences, and some fun deck ideas. Our Midnight Pre-Release saw a lot of G/B Eldrazi Decks, but there were three Expedition Lands pulled, and a few players got to try out the new Ob Nixilis, and Kiora Planeswalkers. Our Saturday events saw more of a mix of decks from rally, to ramp with Omnath, and even more Eldrazi fun. 

      The following is my own personal experience with one of the events, and the deck I chose to play from pre-release pack that I opened. My seeded card was Lantern Scout, which told me right away that I should probably play Ally's if I pulled enough of them. I had been telling my friends all day that I was probably going to force an Ally deck just because I wanted to try out the mechanics. Lantern Scout is 2W; Rally - Whenever Lantern Scout or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, creatures you control gain lifelink until end of turn. 

     Some other key allies I pulled that solidified the deck for me; Zulaport Cutthroat, Ruinous Path, Ondu Champion, Grip of Desolation, Reckless Cohorts, and Inspired Charge. Normally I try not to go three colors in a 40 card deck, but I was very fortunate to pull three Evolving Wilds. Some cards that went into the deck that I initially put in for fun, but ended up relying heavily on them; Retreat to Valakut, Akoum Firebird, and Breaker of Armies. Breaker of Armies was hard to play with only 16 land in the deck. When he did make it to the battlefield though, I won the match every time. 

     I played three of the four rounds. I faced a similar R/B ally deck, Green Ramp Eldrazi, and G/W Eldrazi. I lost only one round to the Green Ramp Eldrazi deck. I can see where allies will be a very formidable standard deck with the various ally triggers possible, some very great viable low cost creatures. Tajura Stalwart fits very nicely into Abzan Elves decks. I really enjoyed all the Eldrazi creatures with the BFZ version of 'Annihilator,' especially Breaker of Armies which I used a few times. "All creatures able to block Break of Armies do so," and he's a 10/8. The new Landfall enchantments are very nice, Retreat to Valakut helped me a few times get around chump blocks. Retreat to Kazandu is a viable replacement for Courser of Kruphix in the new standard; not ideal replacement, but viable. 

     Battle for Zendikar will be a great set, and we look forward to see some the great new deck ideas at our next Friday Night Magic. 

Justice League Gods and Monsters Batman #1

I regretfully admit, when I first heard of the alternate universe Vampire Batman that's not even Bruce Wayne, the elitist Batman Fan inside said, "No thanks." Then I realized Bruce Timm was on writing duties, "I'll give it a try." Now I regret that I ever had ill thoughts even of this comic. It was just that amazing. 

SPOILERS AHEAD

The cover alone is jarring in that it gives you that feeling 'this is NOT Batman.' No this just isn't Bruce Wayne. The premise is that Kirk Langstorm (Man-Bat in Main Universe), cured himself of cancer by changing his genetic makeup to that of a vampire. He needs to feed, but only feeds on the criminals in Gotham, including the crime families. 

The book plays with an old concept of Batman, who's really the monster? Since the debates of old with the release of Dark Knight Returns by Miller, this has been a topic of conversation. Is it Batman that fuels the monsters because he's the biggest monster of all, or is he really the dark hero he believes himself to be. Langstorm's Batman believes the opposite of Bruce Wayne, he is the monster. His inner turmoil with dealing with what he's become versus doing what he believes to be the right thing to do, is often greyed. This is made clear when he wrestles with not feeding, but has no problem changing direction and feeding when he feels someone has done harm to an innocent. 

There are homages to the original mythos of Batman with Joe Chill and the Crime Families, little easter eggs as you will. Over all, this book is an amazing read, and served it's purpose. It has completely amped up this Batman Fan for the release of Justice League Gods and Monsters. Now I can't wait to read Justice League Gods and Monsters Superman #1 this week!

Uncanny Inhumans #0

Black Bolt has been missing in action since the fall of Attilan  in Hickman's Infinity event. Uncanny Inhumans #0 marks his return. He will be heard, but he will say very little. Charles Soule takes charge of writing duties, and Steven McNiven brings his iconic artwork to the book. This is a book you don't want to miss out on.  Soule and McNiven hit it out of the park with their portrayal of Black Bolt, doing the character justice by showing his emotions through posture and mannerisms. When a single word carries immense power, you choose them carefully. 

SPOILERS AHEAD

The opening pages set the tone for book overall. Black Bolt stops some looters during a Terrigen Cloud. These looters are collecting Inhuman Cocoons. In these pages, we see the King protecting his people. He is the proud rogue King, that would do anything for his people. 

He continues his travels to find Medusa. Medusa refuses to acknowledge him as a king. Through very well done artwork, Black Bolt conveys to Medusa that the end is coming, and he merely wants to protect his family. This marks the story in sync with current events transpiring in Avengers and New Avengers, that will lead into Secret Wars. Black Bolt here is portrayed as the concerned Father, and the husband of a scorned lover. He is humble, and accepts Medusa's thoughts, but shows no concern to try and change them, marking the idea that he is concerned with time. 

Black Bolt travels through to Kang the Conqueror's Fortress, and we see, for a brief moment, the warrior beneath the mask. The end of the timeline for the Marvel Universe is reinforced here, as Kang is always observing the time stream, and he can see where it ends.  Black Bolt's son, Ahura, had been sent to Kang at the fall of Attilan in Infinity. Kang has taken him in as his own. We see Black Bolt expose his son to the Terrigen Mist, and save his son by asking Kang to take him back into the past. In these last few pages, we see all the parts of Black Bolt come together as one. The King, the Father, and Warrior. He saves his son by leaving him in the care of his nemesis, and accepts the fate of his own future with knowing there is no escaping the end for himself, and prepares for one last battle no matter how futile it may seem.

If you are at all interested in the big Summer Event from Marvel, Secret Wars, we recommend this book to you. If you are at all interested in Inhumans, we recommend this book to you. If you simply love a great story, you better not miss this one!  

Star Wars #1

Star Wars #1 under Marvel is set to release next week, 01/14/2015. We received a copy a week early for the Marvel's Launch Party for it. Now if someone stuck a copy of one of the most anticipated comics this year in front of you, what would you do? Well, read it of course. Aaron, Cassaday, and Martin hit it out of the park, and all the hype is deserving. The first three pages alone, will make any Star Wars fan get butterflies in their stomach, and revert back to a childhood excitement. 

What was on those first three pages? What's at the beginning of every Star Wars film? 'A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." That segment alone makes fans across the world rejoice and cheer when they see it, because we all know we are about to delve into a story about a galaxy that we all know very well, and love or hate every character in it. 

That also drives home my next point. The creative team behind Marvel Star Wars treated this comic with the respect it deserves, and did their proper homework of the original trilogy. They pay that respect in being fans themselves, which is obvious from the first page. There were parts of this comic, where I didn't feel like I was even reading a comic. I felt at times that I was watching a fluid transition that picks up after the events of A New Hope. The character development, and their interactions and relationships with each other are all spot on in the proper timeline. 

You're not going to want to miss this next week! There also bonus previews of Darth Vader #1, and Princess Lei #1 in the back of Star Wars #1. May the Force be with you! 

 

Robin Rises Alpha #1

Damian Wayne, either you love him or hate him. Since his creation/brought forward from the 80's, depending on how you look at it. Grant Morrison created the Damian Wayne we know today. Back in February of 2013, Damian Wayne met his end at the hands of Heretic, an adult clone of himself. His and Talia's body were stolen shortly after by Ra's with the intent to make an army of Damian's. 

SPOILERS AHEAD

For roughly the last year now, Batman has traveled down a path to recovering his son's body, and toying with the idea of attempting to bring Damian back to life along the way. We see Batman team up with various characters along the way, which transformed the Batman & Robin title into various incarnations to match the current character Batman was teamed up with. Hence Batman & Aquamana, and Batman & Wonder Woman. 

The titular event Robin Rises kicked off earlier this year with Robin Rises Omega. Last Wednesday, it finished with Robin Rises Alpha. Tomasi writes a beautiful story of a father's struggle to save his son. The fact that this is also Batman and Robin seems to be a backdrop. Over the course of the arc, Tomasi has explored in full, a father's will to protect their child, and also Batman's capabilities when he refuses to give up. 

Robin Rises Alpha shows the conclusion to the arc, but graciously gives us more questions that will have to be answered in future issues of Batman & Robin. Robin's return home has been anticipated highly by many fans, and the touching moments between Damian, Bruce, Pennyworth, and the 'other' robins were beautifully handled. Kubert's artwork and Glapion's inking does the story justice with the shifting of color palette's used from reds to blues.  

Damian is back and he has a long road ahead of him, but at least he's back with Batman. There's one more person back though, and this is part of the questions needs answering. No more spoilers from me though. Just make sure you pick this series up!

Birthright #1

Birthright is an amazing comic that goes from a crime suspense to suspenseful fantasy by the end. This comic sold out quickly with first printings, and is currently on it's second printing, which is why we're just now posting a review of it. We did not get to read through it on the first print. The artwork stands up to Image Comics standards, and Creators Joshua Williamson (Nailbiter) and Andrei Bressan (Green Lantern New Guardians and Batman) have created such a setup for this story in one issue that takes Marvel and DC five or six issues to achieve. 

SPOILERS AHEAD

Birthright opens with a father and son playing ball in the park, evidently it's the son's birthday as the mom calls from home whom is setting up said birthday party. As the Father, Aaron, is speaking with the mother, he tosses the ball towards the woods, and the son, Mikey, goes after it. This leads into Mikey disappearing in the woods, and the family to believing he's been kidnapped. 

What transpires over the next few pages, are beautifully handled, and show the stress and turmoil a family goes through from various stages during having a missing child. The family goes from desperately searching for the child, and assisting the police in any way they can, to the event itself destroying the dynamic of the family altogether. It even plays on the the statistic that 9/10 the father of said situations catches most of the blame whether or not he actually had something to do with it. 

We go forward in time one year through this events, the family is completely broken, and Mikey has still not been found. One of the investigators comes to retrieve Aaron and the other son, Brennan. There is history between Aaron and the Investigator that has been built over the last year, this is the same Investigator whom accused Aaron of having something to do with Mikey's disappearance. They are taken to the FBI building where they are informed they have a lead in Mikey's case. 

They are shown a man in an interrogation room, who looks like a more disheveled version of Aaron. This man tells his story of how he was taken from the woods to a land called Terranos. A large ogre looking creature tells him he is the 'chosen one,' and that he must help them defeat the God King Lore. The family in disbelief thinks this is a sick joke, but Aaron recognizes his son.

At this point in the comic, we were starting to feel like we had heard this store all too many times. A kid whisked away to a magical land to beat some unfathomable creature, comes back a grown man to a world he doesn't recognize anymore. Then the last two pages successfully stomped that feeling into the ground.  The store told to the interrogator is all a ruse, as the grown man is Mikey, and he's been possessed by the God Kind Lore. Lore wants Mikey to help him destroy everything on Earth, and in return will help him burn his parents house to the ground. Mikey was defeated in his battle in Terranos by Lore.

By the end, we were left with so many questions, that we will not be able to help ourselves in reading Issue #2. This comic beautifully used the innocence of child hood in some of the artwork, and there's a great 'map' of Terranos in the back of the comic that was done in crayon. Birthright has used many elements to tell this story, and all of it meshed together has taken the 'chosen one' concept, and made the 'chosen one' beatable. No one in this comic is the hero.  

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1952 #1

Hellboy is back in the spotlight with the B.P.R.D. How is this possible since Hellboy's departure from the B.P.R.D? Well, this story is set in 1952, hence the title. This story takes us back to Hellboy's 'teen' years, and Hellboy's first mission out with the B.P.R.D. This is not the seasoned Hellboy stories we're used to, but adds to the flavor to see a more reckless, but not as boastful Hellboy. It still gives us enough what we are used to with the stories of paranormal activities, but it doesn't feel repetitive at all. 

SPOILERS AHEAD

The story opens with the Professor having a nightmare, showing us that it was for the duration, not the later years of their relationship, that the Professor feared what Hellboy would become. What's most interesting is the girl in the nightmare with the Professor presents herself as his daughter. 

The crew are introduced in the following pages, with your some what normal setup for a mission in Brazil to investigate paranormal events involving missing or killed. All seems normal until Professor Bruttenholm announces they will take Hellboy with them. Some characters are not happy about the decision, but most seem eager to help Hellboy learn the ropes. 

Hellboy himself is presented as an eager teenager, readily wanting to prove to the Professor that he's more than capable of being in the field. When they land in Brazil, there are ominous signs everywhere which include a prison where everyone, including the guards, were stricken with sickness. There's a priest who claims it was God's punishment, and we get to meet the Priest when the crew make it to town. All is not right with the Priest, but Mignola only gives us hints at what that possibility is. 

All in all, Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1952 is a well written introductory to a new comic. We get familiar characters with Hellboy and Professor Bruttenholm, but no Abe Sapien. I really enjoyed the young Hellboy. He's more quiet and reserved than his older boastful self, but his reckless behavior perfectly demonstrates his inexperience in the field which is the premise of this new series. I would say any Hellboy fan could benefit from picking this series up. That includes those fans that have only seen the movies.

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