New reviews post on Sunday's.
All posts by Paul D Houston - Contact: email@example.com
|Posted on March 3, 2014 at 2:20 PM||comments (0)|
Anne Bonnie #1
By Tim Yates, Lelan Estes & Tony Vassallo
Published by Blue Juice Comics 2014
Anne Bonnie is a years dead Pirate Queen, yet her memory haunts the land and all seagoers still. This is a tale of a young orphan girl accidentally finding out she's related to this Pirate Queen and fulfilling her magical purpose. Something like that. It's quite a fun little all ages read. Ariana, the main character is a mischievious little girl who grows up to be a thrill seeking teen, thwarting and causing trouble for her caregivers. When she finds a magic pirate ship she sets off a chain reaction of trouble which she was definitely not prepared for.
I like this a lot because it's a silly and fun read. The characters are well thought out, the plot is straightforward and there's an uncanny sense of intrigue that I find very catchy. Tim Yates is both the writer and artist here, but where he really shines is in his coloring ability. While his art is manga-ish and rough in spots, his deft touch at coloring really shines. The cover alone is extraordinary, look at the subtle textures and tones on the main figure. Beautiful stuff.
I like how we have a lot of indy comics taking the plunge with female lead characters and making great stories almost with ease. As a long time comic reader, I've never had problems reading comics with female leads, I don't know why the big two of Marvel and DC struggle with the concept? Anne Bonnie is the type of comic that has appeal for male and female audiences (and everything between and beyond) and for all ages. It's a comic worthy of more attention. I hope it gets it.
Amelia Cole and the Enemy Unleashed #'s 1 & 2
By Adam P. Knave, DJ Kirkbride, Nick Brokenshire and others
Published by Monkeybrain Comics 2014
Damn, this is a good mystery adventure story. This is an exemplary example of everything comic books have ever been about. Mystery, adventure, heroics, intrigue and imminent doom! The plot as it is pertains to our heroine Amelia Cole who is quite the adept mage. In this world, magic is everywhere from the low to the profound. And the authorities are those who are the most wise and experienced of magic users. Amelia Cole is young, but powerful and serves as her hometown's superhero protector type.
Unfortunately, as there always is in a comic book story, there are bad guys who plot to take control of the world. In our story there's a council of old wicked mages who want all the magic to themselves and are secretly stealing away all the magic they can. But Amelia Cole has been on their tracks for awhile now and by the end of issue two she comes face to face with them. But it seems despite her great powers, against these dark mages, she's far overmatched.
Many comic readers complain about the lack of female leads or heroines. Others complain that some of the female leads we do have are placeholders, cardboard, merely there to be politically correct. Well, for those people I present Amelia Cole. 'Nuff said.
Alex + Ada #'s 1-5
By Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
Published by Image Comics 2014
Near future, wireless internet implants, flying cars and nearly sentient robot companions. Our main character Alex is a frustrated lonely guy who gets a gift from his grandma. A female robot companion. Lifelike in all ways and utterly obedient. This is still a new technology in this story, so theres a bit of ambivalence to owning or sharing one's life with a lifelike subservient robot. Many are purely sex toys, others are slave labor, but for Alex his ambivalence believes they should be something more. His robot, named Ada is a gorgeous perfect looking specimen. All she wants is Alex's happiness. So why isn't Alex exploiting her for what she was made for?
Artificial intelligence is nothing new to science fiction stories. So why tell another one? What's to be told that hasn't already? Well writers Luna and Vaughn's take proves there's still more to be told. They bring us in on the ground floor of awakening robotic intelligence. This is both the humans and robots story. Imagine a softer Blade Runner, crossed with Twilight with robots instead of vampires and if the Matrix took it's time and Neo wasn't a part of the plot. That's kinda the feel here. Sappy, but enlightening.
Honestly after reading the first issue, I was sure this was just a silly sex with robots story and didn't feel like picking up another issue. But I did, because the Luna bros. do good stuff and I wanted at least one more issue before making a final judgement. Issue two while the plot still hovered around the cheesy and silly, me wondering when Alex was just going to fuck the hot bot and get it over with, felt a little more intrigued by the overall arcing storyline. So when I finished issue 3, it was apparent I was hooked. This suddenly became immensely fascinating. It was no longer a cheesy angsty emo story about poor little robots and a sexually frustrated young dude. This was way more than that, this is heady shit.
Issue 4 gave us Ada's awakening with the help of another sentient robot. Alex, still meanwhile seems like a clingy emo bitch, but Ada seems to like him. While I'm still waiting for them to have sex as I'm sure they will now, I'm super eager to find out more about this A.I. underground going on and how there are hundreds of secret awake robots in the world and what happens next.
Afterlife with Archie #'s 1-4
By Roberto Aquirre Sarcasa and Frederico Francavilla
Published by Archie Comics 2014
The surprise of the year! Archie comics plus zombies plus a more realistic take equals pure gold. I've not read an Archie comic since I was a teen, but I'm more than familiar with most of the characters and relationships and seeing them within this harsher more real setting is just so damn good. Archie is no longer a goofball, he's the courageous hero. Jughead, king goof is now king zombie and threatening all of Riverdale with his growing zombie horde.
Having just read issue 4 and it being so damn strong, it seems this series is just getting better and better with each issue. While the cause of the zombie plague running through Riverdale is as vague as any zombie story, what is most interesting is seeing all the familiar Archie universe characters deal with this scenario without the cheeseball mirth that is usually prevelant in all of Archie's comics. I'm honestly surprised the publishers allowed this series to be written like this. There's homosexual relationships, incestual relationships that were only slightly hinted at in the normal Archie comics in full bloom in this series. Violence inflicted upon recognizable characters is so off from normal Archie comics, it's stunning. Even Archie, Betty and Veronica's menage a trois relationship gets a very adult look to it.
I know this is just comic books and this is a 60 plus year old comic franchise, but this series is so damn fresh and welcome. I'm not sure exactly what kind of response in general this is getting from comic fans, but this particular fan is loving this series to death!
AAMA: The Smell of Warm Dust vol. 1
By Frederick Peeters
Published by Self Made Hero 2011
Here's the prime reason why I don't like reading foreign comics. This book is an amazing read. Spellbinding in it's own pedantic way, but it ends on a cliffhanger and as of yet there is no volume two in English available! Argh! If only I could read French, then I could find out how main character Verloc, his brother and their Robot Ape ended up on a far away planet under attack by a mysterious robotic menace.
At first, largely because of the art, which isn't flashy in any way, I assumed this wouldn't be all that good. But as I kept turning the pages, the story kept sucking me in more and more. There's a sense of mystery to this story that keeps the plot just outside our reach, beckoning us to keep reading. What I like most about this story is that the main character is not a likeable person. He's a drunk, a fuck-up, a bad parent and a horrible sibling. With nothing else to do he goes with his brother, who's an intergalactic security agent for a big futuristic mega-corporation, to investigate a lost colony on a faraway planet. What they find there is trouble. Super robot ape Churchill is by far the most interesting of the three main characters. This cigar chomping, talking, battle beast is charmingly weird.
But the cliffhanger, leaving us on the edge of our seat as Verlock and Churchill try to figure out what happened to Verloc's brother, who's piloting the enigmatic spaceship that's coming their way and what happened to the space colony they originally came to investigate is a bit too much for this obsessive reader to handle!?
By Trevor Talbott, Scott Meier, Peter Raymond & Jessica Jimerson
Published by S&T Comics 2014
A troubled superhero tries to find a nasty villian, but in the meantime reminisces about his past and how he came to be. While that's the basic plot to this story, the heart of it is how this superhero, Eclipse became who he is. I liked the heart of this story. I did not like the superhero framing aspect of this. It's silly, amateurish and boring. But the heart of this story about a young boy being raised by a single father, a single father who is not well and a bit mentally handicapped is a beautiful story. It's engrossing, tragic and intense. Why did writers, Trevor Talbott & Scott Meier fit this story into a superhero comic? There's no need, superheroes outside the big two are a losing bet. The comics industry is mature enough now to where you can tell a story about a young boy raised by a mentally handicapped single father. That's a story this reviewer would want to read. It's a fascinating story, it's not everyday you can read about something so amazing as that.
Artist Peter Raymond has a long way to go as an artist, many times his art could not adequately display the right poignancy of the story. In the end it does what could be a powerful story a disservice. Colorist Jessica Jimerson does her best to improve the art and she does, she knows what she's doing.
Overall this is an ok comic book. My advice to these newcomers is forget about the superhero aspect of this concept and tell this young boy's story. Get an artist who can do delicate and intricate. Someone who can display emotion, matching the script to bring out the best in it. You can find out more about this comic here.
By Kevin Rubio, Lucas Marangon, Nick Schley and Andrew Dalhouse
Published by Red 5 Comics 2008
Nowadays there's a fine line between success and failure when it comes to doing original superhero characters outside of Marvel and DC comics. For all the Invincible's and Hellboy's, there's 100 times that many that fail. "ABYSS" isn't necessarily the tale of a superhero per se, but it's about how a supervillians son reluctantly takes on his dad's mantle and becomes a hero. This spoiled, indifferent rich kid with a reluctantly good nature decides not to follow in the wicked footsteps of his father. And when the kid is able to even spoil his father's grandest scheme against his arch-rival, better things are sure to follow, right?
Writer Kevin Rubio gives us a good story. He's able to add just the right amount of nerd humor to a grandiose superhero adventure story, hitting all the right buttons when it comes to irreconcilable superhero logic and geeky enjoyment. Artists Lucas Marangon and Nick Schley are talented guys with a style made for superhero comics. They're excellent at portraying bombastic action scenes and rippling musculatures, pre-requisites for illustrating mainstream superhero comics.
While this is nowhere near award winning material, what it is though, is a good, fun, enjoyable tale of superheroes outside the Big Two of Marvel and DC. It's definitely worth picking up if you are a fan of superhero comics.
Abe Sapien: The Shape of Things to Come #'s 1 & 2
By Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, Max and Sebastian Fiumara
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2013
I've been reading the multitude of Abe Sapien comics for years now and progress to this characters story is slow coming. Major things happen every now and again, but overall this is a very slow moving storyline. Fortunately the stories are all fascinating in their unique ways. Plus with the brothers Fiumara illustrating these series, we are treated to some of the best looking monster comics out there today.
Literally nothing new is learned from this two issue series, except an education in Mexican gods and goddesses. Abe battles a few more monsters, makes some new friends, loses them in a bloody ordeal yet again and moves on. That's been the plot for the past few mini series starring Abe Sapien. It's a bit pointless, I think, but the Fiumara brothers keep wowing me with their fucking glorious artwork. I mean this art is so fucking good, look at the sample page above. Brilliant. I will continue to pick up these comics as long as the Fiumara brothers are doing the artwork.
Tuki # (1)
By Jeff Smith
Webcomic/Cartoon Books 2014
Tuki's first webisode is available for free at the Boneville.com website and what an episode it is. For as interesting as RASL was, it just didn't have the same charge as BONE. TUKI meanwhile has a great energetic, free wheeling feel to it which reminds me of the fun Jeff Smith gave us with Bone. TUKI is a mythical yarn about one of the first Homo Sapiens to move north outta Africa. In his travels, he meets another guy who's on the same genetical branch as he, but a little furrier and the two of them begin what seems to be a great adventure of myth, magic and mayhem.
I fully expect Tuki, judging from just this first issue alone, to have a greater impact than RASL. Jeff Smith's style fits perfectly in this all ages kind of category. Like BONE was. TUKI, obviously has a deep message, but the whimsical narrative style and overall flow plays well to kids and adults alike. I think Jeff Smith has another huge hit on his hands. RASL was Smith's attempt at an adult comic, and while it was good, I enjoyed it a great deal, it just wasn't as delectable as BONE was. After one episode of TUKI, I'm definitely hungry for more.
I'm looking forward to the next chapter of TUKI, this is the good shit!
Absolution: Rubicon #'s 1-5
By Christos Gage & Daniel Gete
Published by Avatar Comics 2013
John Dusk is a murdering paranoic superhero. He's a wholesome mesh of the Punisher and Daredevil with some weird matter/energy power which manifests into projectiles and forcefields and the like. He'll kill, but only those who deserve it. He's wanted by the police because he keeps killing and resisting arrest. He's actually one of the few very interesting newer superheroes that have been invented. The plot to this mini is a corrupt city mayor releases the most deadly supervillian in the whole world because he wants John Dusk dead and out of his hair. Unfortunately once the villian is freed, he predictably does more than just go after John Dusk. After he's killed a few dozen people and caused trauma and tragedy befitting his reputation, only then does he go after John Dusk.
John Dusk enters the fray and gets his ass kicked. With the help of some other superheroes, he's able to temporarily scare off the villian. But in time he comes back and Dusk has to figure out how to beat this unbeatable villian, plus stay out of the clutches of the police force who want him dead or in jail.
I was not expecting much from this series, but in actuality this was surprisingly good. Great even by superhero comic standards. Christos Gage made a brand new fan in me with this story. I did read that solo Absolution: Happy Kitty story and loved it, but I figured Christos Gage had achieved the best he could with that one shot. Now I know, this guy is good.
The artwork on this series, by Daniel Gete, wasn't very good. It was satisfactory, it got the job done, but that's it. Avatar has a reputation of having very weird, almost awful artists, I'm not sure why that is and Daniel Gete seems just like their sort of guy. But even this subpar art couldn't dull the enjoyment that I had in reading this very excellent superhero comic story.
Abandon the Old in Tokyo
By Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Published by Drawn & Quarterly 2012
Drawn & Quarterly is doing the American comic book audience a great service in bringing this master of the comics form here. I read "A Drifting Life" also by Tatsumi a few years back, also published by Drawn & Quarterly, and consider it one of the most amazing comic book stories I've ever read. It's one of my all time favorites. That book was auto-biographical detailing Tatsumi's life over a period of decades. It's a truly fascinating read about one of Japan's greatest comic artists finding his way through the crowded and sometimes troubled manga industry. This book though is entirely fictional. It's made up of 8 short stories ranging in a variety of temperaments. From the dark and chilling "The Hole" where a man is trapped in a hole and kept there by a young woman who blames her disfigurments on all men. To the strange and deviant nature of "Unpaid" where a man finds fulfillment and satisfaction in the company of dogs. To the anxious and David Lynchian like "Beloved Monkey". Tatsumi proves once again that he is a master storyteller and quite flexible when it comes to subject and genre.
After saying all that, these stories are not perfect and Tatsumi himself admits in the back of the book in an interview with Adrian Tomine, that many of these stories were done under the editorial dictates of the various companies he sold these stories too. But even with the flaws, they are still unique and wonderful exactly as they are.
Tatsumi's style is pedantic, his art is not flashy, it's very earthen, but the subtlety, the cleverness and the depth of emotion contained in his work is what I find so appealing and masterful. Obviously I'm not alone in my admiration for this artists work. I find it sad that we North Americans are only now finding out about Tatsumi's work, considering his prime was the 1970's and 80's, Tatsumi being a very old man now and generally retired from producing copious amounts of work as he seemed prone to be a few decades ago. But no matter, his work is here now and available to all conniseurs of great comic book work. Don't be a fool and miss out on this.
365 Samurai and a Few Bowls of Rice
By JP Kalonji
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2009
Whew, what a book! Each page was it's own illustration. One panel, one image per page. This technique gave the book an almost animated feel with all 394 pages flying by in a flurry of beautifully rendered samurai battles. Main character Ningen is on a quest to find the meaning to life. He has made a vow to the sword and the cryptic words of an undefeatable opponent propel him to kill 365 samurai on a year long quest. Supposedly when he finishes his blood soaked journey he will find the answer to his question. Or will he? The twist at the end is awesome and completely unexpected. It's a fitting end to a story of brutal death and tragedy.
Kalonji's art is a thing of cartoony lushness. The huge black strokes and refined details make this a truly outstanding and unique looking book.
A1 Annual Volume 1
By Dave Elliot, Gary Leach and many others
Published by Atomeka Press 2013
This was a very well done and enjoyable melange of comic stories. The Atomeka Press guys included a bunch of new stuff with some old stuff from the previous Atomeka Press line of publications and produced a surprisingly good fat 178 page comic. This featured the works of many tried and true vets like Alan Moore, Sandy Plunkett, Scott Hampton, Michael T. Gilbert, Simon Bisley with less familiar names like Emily Hu, Toby Cypress, Bambos Georgiu, Alex Sheikman and others.
Sure there were a few duds to this package, but the good ones carried the weaker ones easily and handily. Toby Cypress' on "Odyssey" about an immortal American contracted superhero was possibly the biggest standout of the issue. I've never seen Cypress' work so together as on this issue. Cypress works in a sloppy loose and exaggerated style which I like, but on this story his style is compact and deftly detailed like I've not seen from him before.
Sandy Plunkett's work on "Tales of Fennario" was splendid too. While the story rambled a bit, the art was so tight and gorgeous in it's black and white rendering. Meanwhile Bambos Georgiou maybe delivered the most perfunctory superhero story I've ever read considering he's referencing two gods of superhero comics, Batman and Superman. He asks this basic question, "Why is Batman the brooding one, when he leads a life of leisure, luxury and respectability, while Superman lost everything. His planet, his people and his history?" It's a curious story which makes me think about those two godly characters differently.
All in all this was a great comic book, well worth your bucks.
A God Somewhere
By John Arcudi and Peter Snejberg
Published 2010 by DC Comics
The plot to this is super simple - A young blonde good looking California boy suddenly and mysteriously gets amazing superpowers. His once simple and directionless life becomes something extraordinary. His faith in God convinces him that God himself chose him to do great wonders in life. Except this man, possessed of a simple mind, quickly becomes corrupted and turns into the worse thing ever put on this Earth.
It's the details in this story that makes it so powerful. I've enjoyed 95% of John Arcudi's work, especially his BPRD work, yet this has got to be one of his best ever. Sure there are flaws to this, but taken in all it's a gripping tragedy that I enjoyed immensely. At the center of this story is the concept - What if this happened to any one of us? We are such fragile, corruptable creatures. Even the most spiritual or noble of us can take a wrong turn and do horrible things.
Our main character, Eric is a simple directionless youth whom now burdened with supreme power, basically loses his humanity. Yes, he believes in God, Jesus and that whole bit, but isn't all belief essentially subjective? Eric even to the end believes he is doing something maybe only God understands. Killing hundreds of people brutally is all part of the plan? Why else make someone with these kinds of powers? Eric believes he is operating on a level us normal humans no longer understand. It's a central conceit that only ever marginally makes it into the standard superhero comic. And never explored to this kind of depth and detail.
In the real world we live in, if a Superman or a Batman really existed in it, they would end up doing some very questionable and possibly horrific things. Accidentally or intentionally, but it would happen. The world is a dirty and cruel place, it would corrupt even the most pure of intention. Guys like Superman and Batman could only ever exist in fiction. There is too much to the real world to tempt and taint us, we would never stay pure, especially with godlike powers.
The art by Peter Snejberg, meanwhile is fucking outstanding. I get that his style isn't mainstream enough. It's got this roundy, almost mushy quality to it, but you can't deny the depth and breadth of this guys talent. The work he does on this book is possibly the best I've ever seen him do. I hope that he never suffers for work, his is a talent to good to waste.
Marie and Jeanne #1
By Shing Yin Khor & James Neish
Published by Sawdust Press 2014
Certain subjects, periods of history, celebrities old and new, come with stigma's or already pre-decided points of view and opinions, it's just natural. For instance, the Old West, I don't care if the latest movie about the Old West has my favorite director featuring my favorite actors in an Academy Award winning screenplay, I won't be in a rush to see it. That's just how I am, I don't care for that period of time. Now this comic, "Marie and Jeanne" has this tagline, "A tale of two extraordinary girls in 15th century France". What it avoids to explicitly say is this is a tale of Joan of Arc. I imagine they don't mention this on the cover because they're trying to be clever and turn more people onto their tale of a historical figure whom many either care about deeply or not at all.
But so what, this is an extraordinary comic book. I really liked this. I honestly could care less about the Joan of Arc story, but what we're given here is quite a good read. Jeanne of course is Joan's original French name and Marie is her best pal whom accompanies her on her legendary journey. This is a tale from the very beginning of Joan's historical quest to save the French from their bitter rivals, the English. Writer Shing Yin Khor obviously has a deep love for the source material, and while he's taking artistic license in the depiction of Joan and her time as a youth, he's written a simple, flowing, catchy story which I can't wait to read more of.
Artist James Neish, meanwhile is a very talented artist. His skills are strongest in his depictions of emotion. These characters come alive extraordinarily under James pen and ink. Some artists struggle to depict the proper emotion when illustrating a comic book story. It's not easy. James doesn't have this problem. His digital gray toning also adds tremendously to the art. The fact that this was only black, white and gray seemed irrelevant with the lush gray tones.
This is the good stuff!
Transformers: Dark Cybertron
Published by IDW 2013/14
This was a crossover event which ran for about 6 months or so and ended this past month, between both ongoing Transformer comics, "More Than Meets the Eye" and "Robots in Disguise".
The Transformers have been fighting universe shattering battles for 4 million years (29 of our Earth years). The ability to do new cataclysmic type event stories involving these characters is at this point almost impossible. Everything's been done with these guys, world conquering, galaxy destroying, universe altering, it's all passe for these guys. So what was "Dark Cybertron" about? It's about an ancient prophecy that could lead to the end of all Transformers. Or more succinctly it's all about some 4 million year plan Shockwave hatches to make Cybertron his. To make the universe bow to Cybertron, with him at the heart of it all.
This was so dumb, so stupid, so pitiful of a storyline, that I am giving up reading these comics after this. I was a huge fan of these new(ish) Transformer comics. They were fun, action packed, intrigue heavy and actually quite smart. But this crossover event ruined it for me. Here's what we got out of this mini... Shockwave and Bumblee are killed. Optimus Prime is back to being, Optimus Prime. Megatron has a change of heart and is now an Autobot. Galvatron takes over the leadership of the Decepticons. I guess, looking at em simply like that there's some good nuggets for continuity sake, but to get to that point, we had to endure a super boring contrived universe take over story that went way too long. Plus to ruin Shockwave's 4 million year plan all Optimus Prime had to do was repeatedly remind him of their former friendship. This was too much for Shockwave's, I guess, fragile psyche to handle causing him to lose focus and then Megatron and Optimus blast him with their weapons at the same time and the end. Gaah, seriously people, this is not a good ending.
Ghost Rider #1
By Felipe Smith, Tradd Moore and others
Published by Marvel Comics 2014
I love Tradd Moore's art, love it. His work on the "Luthor Strode" series of comics for Image was so astounding, that I will forever follow his work. I'm not a Ghost Rider fan, nor a Marvel Comics fan, but Tradd Moore was doing this latest incarnation of the character, so I had to check it out despite my expectations of this being a dud. And... yeah, this is a dud. A terribly contrived one at that. It reeks of temporary, placation and worst of all... future bargain bin status.
The plot is simple, terribly simple, like childrens book simple. Young Robbie Reyes, takes care of his crippled younger brother alone, gets into a street race with his hot rod, gets ambushed by some paramilitary group who kill him, then unexpectedly he turns into Ghost Rider.
Seriously, that is exactly what happens. This is the new Ghost Rider.
As to Tradd Moore's work on this, it's great, but seems so out of place, like that issue of "Zero" from Image Comics he did. Moore is good for grandiose action and dramatics. His exaggerated style doesn't seem to play well here on this Marvel Comic. I don't know, I'm happy he's making some money and getting mainstream recognition, but damn it's not going to be hard to pass on the second issue of this comic.
Class War #'s 1-6
By Rob Williams, Trevor Hairsine and Travel Foreman
Published by Com.x 2002-04
This is just a travesty of a comic book story. A travesty that I see way too often. A series that starts off so strong, hitting all the buttons, upping the ante on what a certain genre can do, then to only fall on it's ass and die like a sick dog.
Class War is about what can really happen if superheroes existed on Earth. A group of Superheroes is bankrolled and tasked by the American government for years. Eventually one of them wises up, not able to deal with the hypocrisy and double dealing in his assignments from a corrupt empire like the American Empire. He calls them out, the president, the army, all of em. With the help of a government mole he starts to expose them, to bring out the truth, to showcase the criminals who are our authorities and our leaders.
Three issues of just slam bang revelations, action and intrigue fell victim to what seemed like to me, the writer just didn't know where else to go with the story. Rob Williams, the writer pulls a Chuck Austen on this series. An infuriatingly interesting concept that just dies on the vine without any sort of climax. It's all set up here. Literally the last issue provides no conclusion whatsoever. There was even some foreshadowing to some sort of climax in issues 4 and 5 and yet it never occurs! So many unanswered questions? What happened here? How is it possible to write a brilliant half of a story and a complete turd for the other half?
When Trevor Hairsine disappeared after the first page of issue 4 and Travel Foreman came on, the unravelling begun. It was like Hairsine's gravely oppressive artwork was what really held this all together. Once he popped off, artist Travel Foreman couldn't keep up. Everything had a different, poorer feel to it with Travel Foreman's art. Not that Hairsine's work is anything astonishing, but it felt right with this story. Maybe when he left, writer Rob Williams, just said, "Fuck it."? Seems like.
3 Guns #'s 1-6
By Steven Grant and Emilio Laiso
Published by Boom Studios 2013
I did not read the previous series, "2 Guns" nor it's movie adaptation, I came in on this cold, actually reading issue 3 randomly and finding that interesting enough to go back and read the whole series. "3 Guns" is about our two main characters, Bobby and Sailor joining forces with a Joey Dodge character all whom might or might not work for a government agency. They're all somehow involved with a gun smuggling and terrorist establishing operation run by some US Government spook gone bad. Somehow our main characters have to figure out how to make things right and get out with their lives.
Issues 1-4 are intense maze like drama's. They're really gripping stories that I enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would. By issue 5 though, all the little intricate plots and run arounds started to add up to a bit of a mush, causing this particular audience to get a little bored. But the story had so far been good up to that point, I figured I owed it to myself to find out how our characters get out of this with their lives. Issue 6 does wrap all the plots up, nothing is left hanging, but it's all a little too contrived for my liking. I get it, that in the real world, the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security do run a lot of tricky situations, double dealing with criminals and good guys alike, and many times the bad guys end up being "good guys" and etc. So I appreciate writer Steven Grant coming up with a story so full of intrigue and double crossing that it sure does resemble the real deal. It's just his conclusion seems a little too neat, a little too easy. It reads like fiction. Which is fine, it is fiction, but a story running this tight with actual reality to then fall off the rails a bit becoming more like fiction than the reality it was trying to emulate, leaves me a bit cold.
This was a good series, no doubt, a very enjoyable read, but it is what it is, simply fiction. And there's nothing wrong with that. Artist Emilio Laiso meanwhile turned in probably the best he could do, but too many times his work came off uninspired. He's good at depicting action, but his "quiet" scenes without action were very dull and his somewhat shoddy anatomy and composition really showed in these moments.
The Eighth Seal #'s 1-6
By James Tynion IV and Jeremy Rock
Published by Thrillbent Comics 2014
"The Victor Holds the Seven Seals and Breaks the Eighth", that's the tagline that's been running through these first six episodes. I'm slightly familiar with enough Christian Doomsday scenario's to recognize somewhat the whole dealio with the Seven Seals and all that. I don't remember exactly why these seven seal's are important, so I will take this story just as it is, a doomsday story. I'm getting tired of doomsday stories, but I just have to accept I will never see an end to these kinds of fictions as long as society continues to carry on and humans remain paranoid. But if I'm going to read six chapters of such a story, it better be good, and surprise it was. The plot is basically simple - A super secret, very connected government organization is planning the end of all things. They've got the biblical seven seals and are now working on breaking the eighth. The eighth seems to be the American President's wife. As far as I can tell either she is some sort of demon or possessed by some demon, as she constantly daydreams about mass murder on an abnormal scale and transforming into some super gross eight armed brown demon thing who destroy's the entire world. Everyone close to her is on it except her husband who has remained blissfully unaware. Go figure.
All in all this is a darkly interesting read, my only problem with this is, that it's so fucking drawn out. Let's go already, let's bust this thing open! Give me some action already. Break that fucking eighth seal! Writer Tynion and artist Jeremy Rock are both super talented and give us a solid and good looking read. I'm looking forward to seeing how this pans out.
The Unknown Vol.'s 1 and 2
By Mark Waid and Minck Oosterveer
Published by Boom Studio's 2010/11
Catherine Allingham is the world's greatest detective, James Doyle is her beefy partner, both attempt to solve the weirdest cases in the world, largely supernatural oddities. In volume one the larger plot revolves around our main characters finding a doorway to the afterlife. You see Catherine has a brain tumor which is slowly eating her brain, causing hallucinations and such. She wants to do as much work as she can before her time is up. So when a doorway to the afterlife comes into their path, Catherine is very interested. Being a pragmatist and cynic, she does her best to disprove the supernatural, but in this case, the evidence contrary is too much and she and partner Doyle get all wrapped up in a super strange case about an immortal guardian doing his best to eliminate supernatural objects and clues that lead to his charge as guard to the doorway to the afterlife.
Volume One is a great story, fast paced, exciting, strong hooks, weirdness, it's all good, I enjoyed this volume immensely. Mark Waid as a writer is a known commodity, if you've read his stuff, you know it's temperament. It's always the same. It's always solid and enjoyable and easily consumed. He's clever, makes you think, and resolves every story like a charm. He's a talented fellow. Artist Minck Oosterveer, is also a talented person. He/she has no noticeable flaws. Every page was easy to read and follow. His style is warm and his brush strokes are thick and flowing. It's a strong mainstream style.
Volume Two, dubbed "The Devil Made Flesh" is nowhere near as strong as Volume One. Right away one of the lead characters is killed off (he comes back later in a different form, but...), what happened in Volume One is brainwashed out of our main character, Catherine Allingham and the general plot, the discovery of yet another portal to the afterlife, be it one more fraught with danger than the one in Volume one, seems tired at this point.
It seems Catherine was roped into investigating a murder case in a small mountain town, just so some otherworldy baddies can kill her. There's some hoop to do about souls and reincarnation, Catherine is revealed to be immortal, due to her owning the key to the afterlife from the doorway in volume one. Eventually Catherine figures out she was duped, figures out a way to kill the bad guys and voila, story over.
This second volume gets a big meh from me. I was eager to read volume two after the enjoyment received from volume one, so the fact that volume two was so weak, makes this a huge disappointment. It seems I'm not the only one who thinks the same way. While critical praise can be found online easily enough for volume one, very little can be found for volume two. I guess that's how it goes in this business.
The Witcher #1
By Paul Tobin & Joe Querio
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2014
Ok, this is some sort of video game tie-in, but not being too hip to current trends in gaming, I've never heard of this before. So I came to this story fresh and... good devil this was a creepy thing. Even though we got no resolution in this too short comic, every page dripped with suspense and a looming sense of dread. Goddamn, Paul Tobin, good fucking job on this. Anyone needs a primer on how to tell a good horror story that essentially leads nowhere, pay attention to this one. The plot is about a guy called The Witcher and how he saves a lonely hunter from a freaky water monster. Two lonely guys team up to find adventure, but get lost in the Black Forest falling prey to all sorts of creepy forest monsters. Our Hunter character meanwhile has a vampire wife who loves him and protects him, but keeps her distance. The Hunter while desirous of leaving her proximity never seems able to. It's a burden and a blessing of an odd kind for sure.
The Witcher, fortunately has many special supernatural abilities which help he and his companion through a deep horrifying forest, but it's obvious something dreadful is about to happen to one of them. I guess we'll find out next issue who is the unlucky one. The art by Joe Querio, while nothing extravagantly awesome is grittily fitting. His style projects a sense of darkness onto every page. His hasty linework and rough edges are appealing and I look forward to more of his work on the following issues.
By Alyssa Milano, Jackson Lanzig, Collin Kelly, Marcus To and others
Published by Archaia Comics 2014
Imagine this, the guys who created Facebook are in actuallity some of the worlds most adept hackers in the world all in secret. While they're accruing billions of dollars on their super popular social network, they're also secretly breaking into super secure government databases all in the name of rebellion. But then, the American government reveals they've known their secret all along and offer them the chance to do some work for Uncle Sam for a chance to stay out of jail and for a handsome payday.
That's the plot for this comic book. It's clever, current and attractive, but it's too coy for my tastes. I get why you do a comic like this now, with all the hacktivism going on these days, but for my reading enjoyment I need something a little more harder edged than this when it comes to topics like these. This should play well to a certain crowd and I imagine by the end of this series, this will be an interesting read, but again for me if you do something in this vein, don't pull any punches. This is playing too soft and safe for me to stay interested.
It's technically a very well done comic book. Besides the solid writing, the art by Marcus To is top notch. His skill for facial expressions serves him well and is something way too many comic artists struggle with. While I may pick up the second issue of this, more than likely I won't, but I won't say it's for lack of entertainment value, rather it's for a lack of edge.
Guilty Pleasures #4
By Arthur DePins & Maia Mauzerette
Published by Fluide Glacial 2010
Originally published 2009 in France, the English version released in 2010, Guilty Pleasures is an ongoing series of sexually comedic and perverse scenario's starring one guy, Arthur and his friends and lovers. Volume 4 is about Arthur's friend getting married and the whole debate about being single as compared to being married to one's true love. So Arthur takes a bet with an ex-girlfriend to see whom meets their true love first and follows their friends down the aisle. While the ending is predictable, it's the ride to that point that is such a blast to read. Arthur is beset by one temptation after another, even accidentally ending up in a Hungarian porno. While in reality no man in existence was ever in the position to refuse or accept this amount of sex from this many attractive women, it's DePins penchant for clever sexual humor that makes it readable despite the rolling of one's eyes.
This isn't an erotic comic per se, but there is plenty of boob, ass, vagina and dick to be titillated by. This is really an absurd totally unrealistic, yet highly clever adult comedy. It's the kind of story where you have a smile on your face from page one to page last. Arthur DePins sense of humor is debasively perverted, but his ability to tell a forward and enticingly involving story is what really makes this romp of boobs and vagina so great.
Plus DePins art is super unique. Super cartoony and exaggerated, but so well rounded. This guy is a true professional. A great great book that was super fun to read. I will have to find more comics by Arthur DePins.
Evil Empire #1
By Max Bemis & Ransom Getty
Published by Boom Studios 2014
It's near the end of a presidential election year in America. Only two candidates left, one schmoozes with 2nd tier rock stars (our main character) and plays to the MTV crowd. The other murders his wife and admits to it on live TV. That, in a nutshell, is what we got with this issue. It's the kind of first issue that if you are at all intrigued by the borderline interesting story you have to pick up the second issue because this first issue didn't give you enough to make a full judgement on. I, personally kinda liked what we are given in this first, but at the same time, it's super cliche, super implausable and a little bit too self-righteous for me. But a presidential candidate admitting to murder near the end of the campaign trail has me intrigued slightly. I do want to see what happens and how the title "Evil Empire" works into the story.
The art by Ransom Getty is scratchy and rigid, but there's something to it which I liked. It's a mainstream style, but it wasn't too annoying to put me off too much. So while I'm expecting to be let down by the next issue, I have just enough hope that this story is about to leap off the edge into the bizarre to keep me around that I will definitely pick it up when it's released.
By Sally Jane Thompson
Published by Markosia Comics 2013
A young girl goes to a preppy exclusive college and meets a lot of nice people and has a cute fun time. Seriously, that's all that happens here. There's no drama, no coming of age tales, no tension whatsoever. This is a soft and fuzzy all ages story that will offend no one. I don't mean to say this was bad, sure I didn't like it, but if everyone's college experience went like this, I think the world would be a much better place. Its kinda hard to relate to people who have it good like this. People with no problems whatsoever. Good parents, a good upbringing, solid friendships, boring, but safe environs, nothing that could make a good life go bad. I wish this upon everyone, but for a story, this is just fucking boring.
Besides the simplistic story and dull plot, the artwork was pretty decent. Done in a peach colored tone, the artwork is appealing. Especially with the artists tendencies for nice thick brushy strokes. But with a cool title like, Atomic Sheep, I was hoping for something a little more engaging.
Deadly Class #'s 1 & 2
By Rick Remender & Wes Craig
Published by Image Comics 2014
A secret, underground Assassins Guild recruits our main character because he burnt down a boys home killing everyone inside. Something about this kind of psychotic behaviour is exactly what they need. But there's more, somebody somewhere says this boy is special and is destined for evil greatness. Kinda like the anti-Luke Skywalker or something. It's 1987, not that you could tell by the artwork, mind you, and our main character is a troubled youth who was raised by American operatives in Nicaragua during the Iran/Contra/Sandinista affair. Upon moving to America on the government dime, our boy and his parents just start to live a normal happy American life when a woman jumping from a tall building trying to commit suicide lands on our boy's parents killing them instantly. (Yes, go ahead and groan, I did). Our boy is then sent to a boys home, is abused and manipulated while there. At the age of 14 he goes crazy and burns the place down. While on the run and homeless, this secretive Assassin's Guild recruits him. It's revealed that this boy holds a desperate grudge against the man responsible for ruining his life. That man is Ronald Reagan.
Yep, seriously, that's the concept behind this latest of Rick Remender's projects. How does he do it? How does he get a publisher excited enough to back something so ridiculously hand-jobbed like this? Is Rick Remender really Chuck Austen under a new alias? Did they switch bodies during a mind meld?
For all the hackishness of this concept, it reads well The tempo is fierce and flowing. I could see how it might hook someone with half a brain. Shit, it got me to pick up the first two issues. So call me stupid. I will not pick up the next issue nor any future issues, and I have to really consider continuing to pick up Rick Remender's books. Despite the taglines, despite the quality of the artists he's teamed up with, I have to resist, because I know what I will get is just another Remender style hackfest-hamboned story. I just have to say no.
Meanwhile, artist Wes Craig is a talented guy. His penchant for tiny detail and small line work is appealing to me. It's an edgy smudgy style which has a hard time placing this story in the 80's, but has no problem seeming part of today's comic book art world.
The End of the Fucking World
by Charles Forsman
Published by Fantagraphics Books 2013
Here's a book to give you shivers. This reads like an auto-biographical comic, yet it isn't, which is possibly the creepiest thing about this book. This is the kinda book that would work very well as a movie even though the artist had no intention to do so, in my opinion. It's an excellent comic book, but I could see this working as a movie too. Two young troubled kids, James and Alyssa, stuck in some podunk town in America, want to get out and see the world. Except they get into some seriously heavy shit along the way. It's sort of the classic road trip story, except this one goes so wrong very quickly. Maybe it's because James is really an unemotional freak and possible psycho and Alyssa is a kid raised by shitty parents. In a nutshell trouble comes to them like a magnet and shit ain't right ever again. An encounter with secret Satanists, one of whom is a fucking cop, quickly makes these kids fugitives. From there they meet Alyssa's absent father who is a drug addict and complete fuck-up, who turns the kids in and well the title, "The End of the Fucking World" is so right.
There's so many more little details to this story than my quick plot summary above that makes this baby tick. Another creepy aspect about this book is Forsman's tendencies to turn his art into a pseudo Charles Schulz (Charlie Brown) style at the most critical moments. The scenes are super heavy weird and then Forsman draws the characters like characters from the Peanuts. It's freaking weird, but it adds to the overall amazing impact this story has. It reads rather quick, wasting no time switching from scene to scene and one weighty moment to the other, despite the 150 some pages.
This is a super solid, powerfully written, punctually drawn, comic book story and for all it's darkly creepiness, it's one of the most enjoyable comics I've read in the past few years. I would rank this besides "Pay For It" by Chester Brown and "Asterios Polyp" by David Mazzuchelli as one of the best graphic novels of the past handful of years. I would expect this to be revered as a classic comic book soon enough and a perennial seller for Fantagraphics and Charles Forsman.
|Posted on February 1, 2014 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
Swamp Thing #'s 26 & 27
By Charles Soule & Jesus Saiz
Published by DC Comics 2014
Damn Jesus Saiz is amazing! Holy hell, this is some gorgeous artwork! And writer Charles Soule isn't doing too bad a job on the story front either. But without this stunning work by Saiz, this probably wouldn't deserve much attention. The work being done here by Saiz is some of the most gorgeous mainstream comic art I'm seeing today. It's fitting considering that the Swamp Thing comic has largely featured only top notch comic artists. The guy who started this new series when DC rebooted was great too, I forget his name right now, but he was as excellent as Saiz. The artists between that guy and Saiz, though were mediocre, acceptable, but didn't grab my attention at all.
I don't know where the story is going, and honestly I'm not really caring, but I think I have to pick up every issue Saiz continues to illustrate, it's just that good looking of a book. Plus the colorist, Mathew Wilson is complimenting Saiz' art expertly. I'm not a big fan of modern digital over-coloring, but Wilson is adding just the right touches here to the art, that's its subtle, modern and brings out just the right moods in the art. Right now, it's as perfect looking a comic book can be in my opinion.
The plot about Swamp Thing being deposed as the Green's avatar on Earth, by a new evil guy, is marginally interesting. There's some intrigue, the new Jason Woodrue is wickedly evil in a new way compared to the old Floronic Man he was in the previous DC continuity. I will keep reading, but not for the story.
Superior Spider-Man #'s 16, 17 & 26, 27
By Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos & others
Published by Marvel Comics 2013 and 2014
Ok, there's a lot of buzz about Doctor Octopus taking over Peter Parker's mind and becoming Spider-Man. I read about it, thought it was silly and figured it would pass in a few issues. It didn't, Doc Ock is still Spider-Man and fans are raving about the book. So I figured I better take a peak to see what everyone is talking about.
Four issues later, yeah, ok, it's pretty cool. In a way. We all know Peter Parker is coming back, but I have to hand it to writer Dan Slott, he's working really well within the framework of Marvel Comics status quo style of watered down mainstream comics. He's built a really interesting new character comprised of bits and pieces of the old Doc Ock and Spider-Man and made it work. We all know it's going to come crumbling down, but the fun is seeing how it will happen. What's so great to me about this story is all the new ways Dan Slott has been able to use Spider-Man. From gadgets, to settings, to how he fights crime. Why did we never see the old Spidey do similar things? It's fresh, or as fresh as you can get on a 60 year old comic character. I do like it. I don't love it, because it's still got issues of typical hero vs. villian stuff. The dialogue at times is as cheesy as ever. Every villian talks the same way and the pacing is just too slow for this ADD patient. I realize they have to sell books month in and month out, so I will give them a break, but goddamn I just can't read comics like this anymore. The most interesting part to me is Spider-Man's interactions with the Avengers. They know something's up, but can't pinpoint it. Spidey Ock is staying one step ahead of them, but eventually it's going to come to a head. What I wonder is how they deal with the fallout? Another reboot to wipe away everything Spider Ock has accomplished?
And Humberto Ramos is doing a really nice job on this series. I'm not a fan of his artwork and never will be, but he's got an energy to his work which a Spider-Man comic needs. Plus I like his redesign on the Spider-man costume a lot. It blends old and new in a great way and I kinda hope they would keep this costume around after Doc Ock splits.
Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand #'s 1-5
By Brian M. Bendis, Mark Bagley and others
Published by Marvel Comics 2014
I loved the first two issues of this series. It was exciting, kinda fresh, bold and Mark Bagley was firing on all cylinders with the art. His two page spreads were in your face and featured just absolutely gorgeous superhero artwork. Galactus was here and he was hungry! The Marvel heroes of this universe were just inadequately prepared for such a huge cosmic threat like this. It looked really bad for the Ultimate Universe. I'm not going to get into the why's and how's of the making of this series, as I'm sure everyone knows the background, so whatever, look up the plot if you feel like somewhere else.
So while I really liked the first two issues, issue three and four seemed to just tread water, kinding holding everything in place, putting a hero plot together. All the excitement sorta draining away down some plot hole of don't give a fuck really. So while it looked bad for the Ultimate Universe in the beginning it now looked like, yep, Galactus was going down again. Seriously, what is this guy's win/loss record these days? How do we keep taking him so seriously if he keeps getting beat?
Anyway so issue five wraps up yet another Galactus goes down scenario, good guys win the day and the status quo remains. Hurray! This is the kind of stuff I expect from Bendis and Marvel comics these days. Every beginning of a story promises bold things, then the middle act waters it all down and by the end, bleh, same old shit we've always known. It was the same with the recent "Infinity" crossover Marvel did last year. That's why I can only read so many Marvel or DC Comics before I just get sick of em.
Furious #'s 1 & 2
By Bryan J. Glass & Victor Santos
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2014
So Furious is a superhero comic about a celebrity in disguise. She's a rich and troubled celebrity in one part of her life and an out of control superhero in the other. Bryan is doing his damndest to do something different with superheroes, but he's missing the most important part of doing something like this. The making it interesting part.
That's possibly a little too harsh, as there are moments of ingenuity to be found in these two issues, but these brief bright moments are surrounded and smothered under layers of boring-ness and cheeseball writing. I mean, I guess there's possibility here, Dark Horse Comics sure is banking on that possibility, but I'm just not sure you've got anything permanently good here.
But that's not entirely true though either. What is good here is Victor Santos' artwork. Good goddamn, this dude can draw! Santos style is a blend of Darwyn Cooke, Bruce Timm and Michael Avon Oeming, three artists I call favorites of mine. While at times the influences are obvious, he does display enough unique talent that he can add me to his fan club from here on out. The covers on these two issues are eye catchers, and the interior pages are all knockouts. This is some gorgeous comic art here.
For me though, I have a really hard time just picking up comics for the art alone, I need a story that's appealing to me. I'm not finding it here. While I would have no problem continuing to drop money into Victor Santos' pocket for his dynamite work, I just can't force myself to continue reading this shlocky story.
The Double Life of Miranda Turner #'s 1 & 2
By Jamie S. Rich & George Kambadais
Published by Monkeybrain Comics 2013
Here's a simple and light-hearted all ages kind of comic that's very pretty to look at. This won't move the medium forward in any manner, it won't challenge you in any way, but it's a worthwhile comic in the sense that it's trying it's best to be a little different. Not too different, it's not trying to make your brain hurt or anything. Its about a young girl who's trying to be a super hero in a hero and villain filled world. The first issue involved our star character taking down a couple guys whose power was to create lego's. Yeah, totally vanilla stuff here. The second issue was about some friends of hers getting some creepy virus and she doing her best to stay alive.
Look, I don't necessarily recommend this comic, I have no interest in reading this any further, but I like that it exists. For all the shit that's out there, for all the ugly, overly violent, sexist material that we as readers have to wade through, there needs to be a place for a comic like this. Just because personally I don't really like it doesn't mean there aren't other people who will like it. If anything the artist George Kambadais is quite the artist. He has a simple cartoony, clean style, which is very appealing.
Dead Run #'s 1-4
By Andrew Crosby, Michael Alan Nelson & Francesco Biagini
Published by Boom Studios! 2009
i don't know if anything of significance was accomplished with this particular 4 issue comic series, but damn this was a fun read. Why have I not heard of artist Francesco Biagini before this? This guy is amazing. Despite the simplicity of this story, Biagini brought this to amazing gritty life.
The plot is Mad Max-ian, in that it's a post nuclear war world. The cities that are still around are walled off and the only way to get goods and packages between these cities is through courier. Between the big walled off cities is wasteland filled with goons and mutants of all varieties. Couriers are big game for these hunters. Our main character is a courier and must deliver a package from Los Angeles to San Francisco in two days or shit goes crazy. Things happen, our courier is a bad ass hero, etc, lalala and we get a happy ending. Like I said the story is nothing extraordinary, but it was a fun, fast thrillride that was a joy to read because artist Francesco Biagini is so freaking good.
If all you want is a fun good looking read, then you can't do much better than this right here.
Carbon Grey Vol. 3
By Paul Gardner, Hoang Nguyen, Kinsun Loh & others
Published by Image Comics 2013
Holy shit, what a beautiful mess this was. I did not read volume two, I did read a few issues of volume one, and now that I've finished volume three, I am still not impressed by the storyline about a group of sisters linked to some sort of power stone, their destiny's to rule the world and yadda yadda yadda. Volume three I guess wraps up the mess from the previous volume because right away we're in the middle of some war, plot lines dangling everywhere and characters thrown at us left and right. I had a really hard time making heads or tails of what exactly the deal was and why everything is so serious. I guess in the end it doesn't matter, because goddamn this was a good looking piece of mess. Artists Hoang Nguyen and Kinsun Loh did an amazing job on this combining tried and true manga techniques with top of the line digital coloring. Every panel was gorgeousness personified, but the intricately confusing storyline was just too much to handle.
The ending where one of the supporting characters just says, hey this is the end and reality crumbles and starts over is not the most confusing thing either. But that is how it ends. What?! Ah, fuck it.
City: Mind in the Machine #1
By Eric Garcia & Javier Fernandez
Published by IDW Comics 2014
This is one ingenius modern comic book idea. Take one part Homeland Security, one part Big Brother/Eye in the Sky/Camera on every street corner kinda thing and add a dash of crazy Phillip K. Dick-ian style fantasy/sci-fi and you get this melange of a story. There's these two guys, contracted by the US Government to help the fight against terrorism for the city of San Francisco, they create a computer program which taps into all the electronic surveillance systems in the whole city. The computer program is supposed to make a judgement call immediately when there's a situation. Except as we all know, computers get glitches and screw everything up.
So one of the main characters gets his eyes burned out in a terrorist situation, his buddy and business partner inserts new electronically linked sensor diodes in his eye sockets which connects to their surveillance program allowing this guy to make judgement calls on how, where and when to react to a given emergency situation. And la la la, etc. etc. Good stuff.
Artist Javier Fernandez does a solid job on this, nothing extraordinary, but he's got a good feel for the nature of the story, kind of how Darick Robertson was on Transmetropolitan. You were never impressed by Robertson's skills, but for sure he seemed to tell the story superbly. That's Javier Fernandez here on this story. Not great, but good. And that's sometimes all we need.
Too Fast: The Story of Blood Billin
By Michael Lariccia
Published by One Time Press 2011
Imagine someone taking LSD and making a Conan the Barbarian comic story about Conan on LSD and this is what you get. Awesomeness. Blood Billin is a psychotic barbarian warrior who after a life of killing and pain gets captured and thrown violently ashore the coast of Africa. After battling African demons he goes through some sort of soul searching tirade rendering him a shell of what he once was.
This is one hell of a fun read. Michael Lariccia as an artist is super dynamic and puts a tremendous amount of energy into almost every page. His style is loose and raw, intricate and unique. His color work in particular is phenomenal. I highly recommend this. A very fun comic to read and look at.
World War Mob #1
By Vito Delsante, Giancarlo Caracuzzo & others
Published by New Paradigm Studios 2014
During WWII 5 ex-mafia guys now US army soldiers are drafted into offing Mussolini when the war begins to come to a close. I like this plot in a way because there's some reality to it. There actually were plenty of gang members drafted into service for the US army during WWII and there were things the major American mobsters did for the US during the war. It's an interesting footnote to the war and this comic "World War Mob" is taking that footnote and running with it.
Artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo did an amazing job on this book. His watercolor washes were superb. When an artist can still use old school techniques in this modern world of comics dominated by digital tools, I have to applaud them. Especially when an artist like Caracuzzo turns in as excellent of a job as this. His work is the star of this book. Why he didn't do the cover is a mystery to me. An artist of his caliber couldn't do a better cover than the quite boring one that was used?
Overall this first issue reads well, it's a nice enough intro and sparked this WWII enthusiast's interest. The only thing I wonder about is the fact that we all know what happened to Mussolini in the end, so how will this story play out when we know the central plot to this story has no pay off? I imagine one of the other plots is what will end up being more important, but at this point I think it's a negative to the overall story. There's no urgent excitement to this story, because we know this group of guys already won't finish the objective of the central plot and we are given no other reason to be excited about this story.
Day Men #'s 1 & 2
By Matt Gagnon, Michael Alan Nelson & Brian Stelfreeze
Published by Boom Studios 2014
Good goddamn. This shit is good! Now it comes to me as no surprise why this was almost immediately optioned to Hollywood after it's initial release. I keep thinking there's no way to do new stuff with the whole vampire lore, but these guys just did.
Day Men refers to humans who do "protection" work for vampires while they sleep it all off during the day. 50 families of vampire are at an uneven state of truce throughout the world and have need of Day Men to do their dirty work during the day. This story follows one such Day Man who works for the #2 biggest vampire family in the world, the Virgo's. David, is a newbie, slowly learning the ropes and doing his best to keep his neck. What he quickly learns is that a vampire war is coming and he's on the frontlines.
That's a rough summary of the goings on in this story, but the suspenseful way in which this story is told kept me on the edge of my seat from page one to page last. Plus, Brian Stelfreeze's art on these two issues is masterful. Every single panel is a thing of beauty. The guy is doing the best work of his career on this story.
I can't wait till the next issue, this is soooo good.
Black is the Color
By Julia Gfrorer
Published by Fantagraphics Books 2013
Is there a word even more extreme than haunting? Because that's what this book is. This is a creepy, dark, but beautiful story about a sailor adrift at sea and a bunch of mermaids waxing darkly about sailors and general life as a mermaid. At 74 pages I was expecting this to take longer to read, but I finished it in roughly 5 or so minutes. Which would be a travesty at this price tag if the story were not of this quality. As a story it's haphazard, but it has such brilliant moments, that collectively it's something so good and enjoyable that I hated that it all ended so quickly.
Julia's art is not your standard "good", but what it is, is lyrical and of a style so unique, that it's dark scratchy roughness is hard to describe. It's fitting for stories of this fantastical darkness. I like it. A lot.
By Nate Cosby & Evan Shaner
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2013
Ugh! I hate myself for taking this long to finally read this. What a fucking awesome book! Goddamn, I can not adequately describe the sheer amazing-ness that Nate Cosby and Evan Shaner have created here. Rather I will post the two greatest pages from this book which adequately sum it all up. If you do not find these two pages interesting then you suck and will not like the rest of this book. And I don't like you. So stop reading my blog.
By Jee Chang
Published by Lucha Comics
Despite the terrible ending/no ending and the way Lucha Comics handled the translation/lettering, this still ranks as one of the most awesome comics I've ever read! Lucha Comics in it's translation of the original Korean material left the original Korean dialogue on the page and lettered the english translation around the word balloons. At first this move seemed almost innovative. Until it got annoying. Despite these two qualms I have regarding this comic, It has just the right balance when it comes to telling a story and being wonderfully experimental. This simple story about an ugly old man being rejected by a much younger beautiful woman and then taking out his frustration on a dude in the street is simple, yet creatively outrageous!
If you are a lover of comics as a medium, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't find a way to read this. This is the kind of once in a lifetime comic that you hardly ever see. It's not going to win any awards, it's not going to be universally recognized for it's uniqueness and most definitely it won't make a lot of money for it's creator or publisher. But none of these things matter in the realm this kind of comic book habitates. This is the kind of comic that spurts out bringing bafflement and joy to the few that can get ahold of it and then quickly dies away because it's so different.
And the saddest part of this tale is that the creator is in semi-retirement mode, having to serve time in his countries military. Who knows when or if we will ever see another comic book from this supremely talented individual.
Black Science #'s 1-3
By Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera and Dean White
Published by Image Comics 2014
These 3 issues have to rank as some of the most beautiful books I've seen from Image Comics in the past couple years. The awe inspiring artwork Matteo Scalera and Dean White are producing here is mind-numbing. Page after page of absolute gorgeousness. How did Rick Remender hook these two guys into working for him on this really lackluster story?
Remender to me has always been great at concepts, it's his technical storytelling skill that always and repeatedly disappoints me. I mean he'll pop out a complete well done story every now and then and I imagine that's what keeps him employed, but his hit rate is very low, in my opinion. Issue one was one of these swing and miss type stories, but the concept introduced was just so insane, I had to try issue 2. And then Remender goes and hits it out of the park with that issue, a complete well told story, enticing us to continue reading. Then issue 3 turns out to be a complete dud and I'm back to wondering why I should continue reading this?
Black Science at it's heart is a wacky inspired concept blending sci-fi nonsense with metaphysical pot head fantasies. The kind of stuff I tend to like, and I do like this concept, but I need something more than just an idea. I need execution, I need to be drawn in. "Black Science" is about a bunch of people on a reluctant ride through the "Eververse" on one traumatic adventure after the other, really just wanting to return home, but unable to find the way back. It's cool, but without Scalera and White's art, this would be a very dull book.
Black Dynamite #1
By Brian Ash, Ron Wimberly & Sal Buscema
Published by IDW 2013
I was never too into the blax-ploitation stuff in the 70's and 80's nor it's retro-comeback in the late 90's. But for some reason I had to give this a try and powbambiff this was some crazy jive that really powdered my keg! (Sorry) This was so cheesily good, every silly pun was spot on and even the retro-throwback art and coloring was just right. For some reason I didn't know that Black Dynamite has been around for a few years. It having now only come onto my radar makes that a sad thing for me. I will be hunting down the previous comics for sure after reading this.
Writer Brian Ash uses the medium and genre style so well balancing his story between the funny and straight-forward storytelling expertly. Artists Ron Wimberly and Sal Buscema make a good team. While the art isn't anything too extraordinary, it's clear, frenetic and fitting. The coloring in particular was nice, especially when the color was off frame reminiscent of the old printing errors you had to deal with from comics of yesteryear.
For a silly good 10 minutes, this is worth your time jive-turkey!
Bad Dreams #'s 1 & 2
By Gary Winnick
Published by Red 5 Comics 2014
This comic does not come out till April of 2014, but Red 5 Comics was kind enough to send me a couple of advance review copies to get my opinions before it's release.
"Bad Dreams" is a very cute comic. It's decidedly adolescent, not in a bad way, but in the way that it's obviously intended for kids. Not being a kid maybe I shouldn't be reviewing this comic, but since Red 5 made the effort to send this along, I feel obligated to do my best review for them. So, from this adults point of view, the first two issues were very cute. It's a fun little adventure story reminding me very much of "Abadazad" by JM DeMatties and Mike Ploog or something like a Jim Henson "Dark Crystal" type of story. It's simple and straightforward with a little bit of dark mystery to it.
Here's the plot directly from the Red 5 press release...
Bad Dreams chronicles the adventures of an odd group of Dreamworld characters: Mary, Nimrod, Sir Spanks (a Night Mouse Knight), Spide, and Shroom. Mary wakes to discover both her memory and Night have gone missing from the land. Mother Night’s absence is causing havoc as everyone slowly goes insane from lack of sleep. The friends must pool their resources, working together to uncover the strange secret of their past and exactly who’s behind it all.
It's decently illustrated by author Gary Winnick. His work isn't awesome, but it's clever in ways that make it very nice to look at, especially his colors. He really does his best work on the covers (check out issue two's cover above!). With covers like these, I imagine these books will get a lot of second looks. And while we definitely need more comics for kids as somehow we've got to get kids reading again, I have to imagine if I were a kid, I would definitely be interested in finishing this 5 issue series out. But as an adult, this kind of comic doesn't work for me, to tell the truth.
I do love to see publishers trying to make comics for kids and I'm all for checking them out, as I have a 9 year old boy who loves science fiction and adventure stories. But comic books are a hard sell for him outside of James Kochalka's work and a Star Wars comic here or there. But I keep trying to introduce him to comics, and I will probably show him "Bad Dreams" too. I actually believe Red 5 Comics produced a great all ages comic in, "Bodie the Troll". That was the kind of crossover comic which I think will have a long shelf life. My 9 year old read the first issue and thought it was all right. If my goofy 9 year old boy thought it was just all right, I gotta imagine there's other adolescent and tweens out there who would think it was totally awesome.
"Bad Dreams #1" can be pre-ordered at your local comic shop now!
Bad Blood #1
By Jonathan Maberry and Tyler Crook
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2014
So this turned out to be a vampire comic. I didn't realize that upon originally picking it up. I guess all the clues were there, but, er... well I missed em. Anyway I'm really not interested in the vampire genre so much anymore, but this story really wasn't that bad. It's actually pretty damn entertaining. Artist Tyler Crook is a good artist. He's a terrible B.P.R.D. artist, but on everything else he's pretty good. His work on this book, is watercolor and ink and it's full of sloppy colorful goodness. The story meanwhile does a pretty good and somewhat original take on the vampire milieu, except for the thing where when the vampire guy bites the main character who has cancer and starts burning from it. Umm, that little plot point stretches the logic of things a bit too much for me. I mean, by now vampires would be aware of cancer and how do cancer cells affect the undead considering in large part vampires are not functioning "living" organisms like regular humans. And since when did cancer feed on dead cells and tissue? Isn't that cancer's whole point, feeding only on living cells and tissue...? That's kinda the only way they survive...oh, heh, now I see the analog. Vampires feed on the living... Cancer feeds on the living... der...
Ah well, whatever, this is a good comic and I'm definitely going to read the second issue when it's available as the end of issue one was a good enough hook to keep my interest high.
By Michael Moreci, Tim Daniel, Riley Rossmo & Colin Lorimer
Published by Boom Studios 2014
I do like good looking comic books and this book is darkly gorgeous. Riley Rossmo and Colin Lorimer do an amazing job here on the art depicting a subtly mysterious Werewolf story unlike most werewolf stories. Of all the creepy creatures of folklore, werewolves are my least favorite. But I couldn't turn away from this well done book despite my personal curiousities.
The plot is clever in that werewolves are haunting and hunting a small rural american town and no one as yet can stop the slaughter until a local man, haunted by his past and his son's struggle with disease, captures the werewolf and begins taking out his pain on the werewolf. Or something like that, the story is still a bit hazy on why this guy is keeping a werewolf trapped in his basement, but I'm sure they will get to that point next issue. The thing is that I like being surprised by good comics. And this one took ahold of me at page one with the gorgeous artwork. Then flipping to the next to see this werewolf dude strung up ready for torture is gonna keep me reading this story probably till the end, whenever that is.
By Robert M. Ball & Warwick Caldwell-Johnson
Published by Great Beast Comics 2013
Gorgeousness! Wotta super fun book this was! Super silly, totally goofy and off the wall! But damn, it was a good looking thing and a helluva blast to read! Robert M. Ball & Warwick Caldwell-Johnson bring the goods on this collaborative comic. These guys trade pages and panels back and forth to complete this story about Derek Danger getting in the way of a group of crazy ninjas at the local gas station. There really is no atypical story or plot here, just one disco-ginger bad ass fighting off a bunch of ghastly ninjas (and rescuing the pretty girl!). Story doesn't matter here, as it's all about bringing the fun. Each artist has his own style and it's vastly different from his co-collaborator, but for whatever reason they meshed. Musta been fun as a creator to make this.
At the end of this book they hint at a follow up issue, and if there is one, I am going to be all over it. Please guys make another one! The publisher of this, Great Beast Comics is a U.K. publisher and so far only one of their books has been a disappointment, in my opinion. Otherwise these guys are top notch and bring the quality goods when it comes to comic book material. Praise the Great Beast!
So in conclusion, pick this shit up if you call yourself a comic book fan, it doesn't get much better than this right here!
Cryptozoic Man #1
By Bryan Johnson & Walter Flanagan
Published by Dynamite Comics 2013
I'm surprised it's taken me this long to get around to reading this as I'm a huge fan of the show "Comic Book Men" starring the creative duo of this comic. Unfortunately while I love the show, I didn't love this comic. It was parts wretched, parts poorly executed (especially the lettering) and parts confusing and just boring. The concept as a separate thing is decent. A man is afflicted with a strange monster body, a body made up of various monster-like appendages. It's gross, but cool. The villian is a mysterious pig man/demon and the whole setup really is kinda mysteriously interesting. But a good concept alone does not sell a book. The execution is important if you want people to actually read your book. And because of the poor execution on this, I'm just not interested in reading anymore of this story.
Walter Flanagan, the artist on this effort, comes off as a complete dork on TV, but as part of the group on the show he's indispensable. His work here is not great, but not terrible either. He's definitely good enough to be published and his love of the horror genre is obvious and he seems made to draw that type of stuff.
In conclusion, no I will not read anymore of this comic, but yes I will continue watching the TV show despite these guys' lack of goodness as comic book creators.
25 to Life #'s 1-3
By Eriq LaSalle, Doug Wagner & Tony Shasteen
Published by 12 Gauge Comics 2010
This was an intense read. As good as any crime story I've ever read. The only problem I had was the ending, which was wrapped up a little too quickly and a little too neatly. Real life crime stories hardly ever wrap up so easily. But despite that, this was a hell of a read and I was hooked from page one of issue one.
The plot goes like this, someone is killing black cops in a racially charged area. The local police call in the feds when they've drawn a dead end. The group of Feds who get assigned this case are hardcases with a bad reputation. They need to solve this case as their careers are on the line. As the case goes along, our main characters have to use extraordinary means to get to their objective, one method is by enlisting a known criminal who is doing time in jail, to help them out. While the hook was somewhat predictable, as the clues laid out in this story were a bit too obvious, it was still a thrill to get to the resolution.
Artist Tony Shasteen does a hell of a job here too. 12 Gauge comics are known for their line-up of very talented artists. Yes, their "house style" can be annoying after awhile, but you can't dismis their ability to enlist quality artists.
This book comes with my highest recommendations.
Bad Ass #1
By Herik Hanna & Bruno Bessadi
Published by Dynamite Comics 2014
I honestly didn't know that Dynamite Comics made good comics. Everything I've ever read from them before has been mediocre to just awful. I honestly don't know why I keep trying their books, but I'm glad I did as this was quite a surprise. I mean, this was fucking good. Real good. The set-up is typical, I've seen this idea about a dozen times, from Deadpool at Marvel to Deathstroke at DC, etc. The story of the "Bad Guy". Not entirely original, but writer Herik Hanna delivers the goods with this first issue.
Main character, Dead End is a freak in a ski mask, who wants to only do bad. From causing the deaths of a family for no particular reason except to put him in a good mood to killing some nasty super-villian for the shiny gems he has in his possession. This is the kind of bad guy that Deadpool wishes he could be. The only problem I had with this story and I don't believe it's the fault of the writers, rather it's the publisher, is that this story is clearly written for a larger volume. The first issue ends literally in the middle of a sequence. It's amateur and it's obvious.
The art by Bruno Bessadi while nothing terribly awesome, is fitting in that it's ridiculously comic bookish, yet heavily detailed when needed. Honestly it's what got me to give this book a try. Herik Hanna's excellent writing on this was the real surprise. Dynamite Comics needs to publish more books like this.
After the Cape volumes 1 and 2
By Howard Wong, Jim Valentino & Sergio Carrera
Published by Image Comics 2007-2008
Here's another one of those realistic takes on superheroes kind of tales. It's about a former great superhero who becomes a drunk. The heavy drinking ruins his life as a man and as a superhero. To make ends meet he begins robbing to make money. He eventually graduates to full on super villain status, but this only makes things worse. His drinking and lies suck the rest of the good things from his life, leaving him a pitiful husk of the man he once was. More things happen and it doesn't get better for him.
This was really pretty good. Sure it had its weak spots, particularly the poor ending of volume one. The little leaps of logic where his identity is quite well known, but he's able to walk around town getting drunk without hassle. Other things, but all in all this was a decent book.
Sergio Carrerra's art got better as the book continued. It too was strong in some places, weak in others. The drastic high contrast black and white style was a refreshing break from the overcolored comics we see on most superhero books. But there were times, when a dash of color could've played better than some of the simple and stark stylings made by Carerra.
All Star Western #27
By Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray & Moritat
Published by DC Comics 2014
I've been reading this comic for the past handful of issues and I'm constantly impressed more and more with every issue. I was reading the previous incarnation of this book when it was called "Jonah Hex" and loved it for the most part too. When DC had it's most recent mid-life crisis and restarted all their comics, I wasn't too interested in picking up a Jonah Hex comic where he was placed rather firmly amongst the rest of DC continuity characters. But the good reviews for All Star Western kept coming in and I finally gave it a try. At first it was a little odd seeing him dealing with guys like Booster Gold or Batman and Gotham City and such, but when writers Palmiotti and Gray kept infusing the storylines with the same wonder and suspense they had in the previous volume, I kept reading.
This latest issue has Hex meeting Superman. While I enjoyed their encounter, Hex's penchant for harsh realism makes him Superman's direct opposite in a lot of ways. But we've seen that before when it comes to writers trying to add some grit to the legend of Superman, doesn't mean it wasn't thought provoking this time either, but what really adds enjoyment to this story is just the way the writers have a hold of Hex's surly character. Especially when his current girlfriend takes him to a Jonah Hex historical exhibit and he comes face to face with his destiny.
Moritat while not the most delicate of artists, brings such a flair to this book, that I hope he stays a good long time on this. So while I realize this book is not lighting up the sales charts, creatively and quality wise it's off the scale on the charts that really matter. Read this book!
|Posted on January 16, 2014 at 12:15 AM||comments (0)|
While I mightily enjoy reading comic books, I'm really quite fond of the act of collecting them too. I'm also a bargain hunter and most times refuse to pay full price for a comic book or graphic novel. I don't care about release dates or staying current with what's happening this week, so many times I will buy a comic strictly because it's priced down, even though my interest in it is little. Even when I'm filing through quarter bins I will pick up awful looking stuff purely because it's a quarter. Therefore, I've currently got a pile of comics about 14 inches high and a hard drive with nearly 4 gigs of comic books that have yet to be read (love comixology and their $.99 price thresholds!). My piles of joy as I call them. Collecting comics is much easier than reading and just about as fun.
Onto the reviews!
By Mike Kennedy and many others
Published by Archaia Comics 2011
Not till the end did I know this was really one of those graphic novels intended to add story background to a video game. I hate those kinds of comics. Bleedout though, is an interesting comic in that the artists involved are all top notch quality guys. Illustrating segments of this graphic novel are artistic luminaries such as Glenn Fabry, Gary Erskine, Zach Howard, Trevor Hairsine and Ben Templesmith. And these guys brought their A-game to this project, making this a truly handsome book.
Storywise this book starts out really strong. The concept is a future world where the oil has run out. The whole world, dependent on this black muck goes into chaos when it's gone. Writer Mike Kennedy then begins to introduce us to some of the nefarious characters who control things. But about 75% of the way through another odd plot point drives the storyline somewhere completely different. From a world without oil, we are suddenly reading a story about super soldiers and immortals. Mike Kennedy does his best to keep the plot points together, but the veer into normal comic book territory with superhumans and the like derails the story so much, that the ending is so unimportant, I actually regretted wasting time reading this. The way this is written you can tell, Kennedy had his hands tied as to it's actual outcome. Some editor or editors decided the story wasn't to their liking halfway through and fucked the whole thing up.
By Xavier Morell & Sergi San Julian
Published by Amigo Comics 2013
Sometimes and for some people just publishing good looking comics is enough. Lunita #1 is illustrated by Sergi San Julian and I really enjoyed his artwork. He's an accomplished guy with a cartoony and expressively detailed style. He does a great job on this comic from page 1 till the end and I heap my praise on him. But a comic does not survive on good art alone. Lunita #1 is a convoluted comic book. Full of plots, light on story. I imagine if I were to read the first 5 issues of this series it might read better, but I have to make a judgement on this one issue I have read.
Lunita is a witch in the employ of the special services. I guess she hunts down supernatural threats of one kind or another. Going by the dialogue in this issue, I have to assume she's had other comic series, because this is no introductory or origin story. What we get is a pile full of plots about some new drug derived from Mermaid tears, a lesbian friend of Lunita who's itching to score with whomever she comes across, Lunita losing her job and some other stuff which will be more fleshed out in further stories, I guess.
I don't like this kind of comic. Give me a story, you have 18-22 pages to do so. Sure you can have it be part of a longer story, no problem, but I don't want to feel bad for wasting my money and time on an something so vacant as this.
By Victor Kalvachev, Patrick Baggata & Jim Sink
Published by Image Comics 2011
I don't know if this was a big deal in 2011 or not, but I believe it ought to have been. This book was gorgeous! Artist and main story guy behind this book, Victor Kalvachev produced one of the best looking graphic novels of all time here, in my opinion. Sure the story was a bit thin, particularly towards the end and sure Victors heavy use of black made some panels look awfully confusing. And, yes many pages were absent of background detail, but from an illustrative perspective what Victor achieved overall with this book ranks high in my books. Just look at these sample pages I've included in this review. Victors playful coloring technique, switching between full color/black and white/muted palettes was ingenious and played to the mood of the story so well.
The plot is about a secret agent in United States employ, who's given a super-soldier/memory blocker formula against her will and unleashed first against enemies of the state and then against the personal enemies of her corrupt boss. The story builds quite nicely, suspenseful, fast-moving and impactful. When the origins or details behind our main character and side characters are unveiled the story boggs down a bit and leaves more questions than answers. Nonetheless, a book this good looking only needs a decent story to get good grades from me.
Anyone who has an eye for fresh comic art styles needs to take a look at this book. Victor Kalvachev's work is a keen blend of Eduardo Risso and Mike Mignola formulating into something new and outstanding. His coloring work alone is out of this world. I believe, if Victor Kalvachev did more comics he'd be an international superstar. I realize though, the money is in the illustration field, video games and animation and a man needs to pay his bills and fill his belly, so while I wish I could see more comic work from Mr. Kalvachev, I understand I probably won't.
Anonymous Nancy #1
By Brendan Hykes & Roy D Stiffy jr.
The story here is simple, straight forward and flows like a charm. Main character Nancy has a dark and mysterious past, judging by her attitude and bodily scars. She seems to have moved past that time and is trying to live a normal life. A sense of darkness protrudes this story and I imagine nothing good will happen to this character despite her best efforts. Even though this comic only gives us a partial chunk of a story, something about the main character intrigued me. I don't know how many comics Brendan Hykes has written, but for an introductory story he nails it. I like this. My only advice for Brendan Hykes and I strongly advise this, get a better artist to finish this story. While I don't necessarily like to be mean, I have to be honest and many times honesty can hurt the most. Artist Roy D Stiffy jr's work on this is wretched. It's not good. But what happens is that Hykes skill as a writer is so good it is able to transcend his partners work on this book. I'm curious to see where this story goes.
Nova Phase #'s 1 & 2
By Mathew Ritter & Adam Elbahtimy
Published by Slave Labor Graphics 2013
These were great! The artwork is done in a pseudo-8 bit style, reminiscent of those old Nintendo/Sega videos you got with Metroid or Super Mario bros. games etc. I honestly wasn't sure this style of art would work for me after the first few pages, but when the story kept me involved the art seemed much less of an impasse than I originally thought. As it turns out these two comics are actually a really fun book.
The story involves main character, Veronica Darkwater, bounty hunter on the prowl catching criminals to pay her bills. She gets involved with an even more rascally character than herself, which sets off the main intrigue of the story. A really bad inter-galactic villian wants this dude dead, and Veronica has volunteered to help this guy despite not knowing all the details. The second issue ends as Veronica and her new pal meet his gang and rocket into space for further adventures. That's a simplified plot synopsis, sorry, but all in all this was some good fresh new stuff. I hope this book succeeds. Order it here!
By Jimmy Palmiotti & Artiz Eigueren
Published by Image Comics 2012
I will check out just about anything Jimmy Palmiotti does. 90% of his stuff is quality, if not top notch stuff. I did not hear about this 2012 release until just recently, so it was quite a joy to find and peruse this oddball graphic novel. "Queen Crab" is about a young woman from Brooklyn who's new husband tries to murder her by throwing her overboard on a cruise ship, except instead of dying she gets her arms mysteriously turned into crab claws by some mysterious occurence under the sea. Of course her life is changed completely from that point on. It's an interesting read, if anything Palmiotti knows how to bring characters to life. The main character is a regular NYC girl, someone I've probably met a few times in my life. The point is she's relateable. Good characterization is essential, especially for such an oddball concept like this. The only problem I had with this book, and it's a big one, is it's never explained how she got crab claws or why. The story ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, as some mysterious light approaches our main character, it possibly being the reason behind her claws. But we never find out. So while I enjoyed this story, it felt entirely incomplete. Which is definitely a negative. If I were to grade this book, I give it a B+. But for an enjoyable, weird read, I do recommend this one.
Moth City: Season 1
By Tim Gibson
Published by Thrillbent Comics 2013
Holy Shit! This is good, real good. This is strictly a digital comic. You can find it at Comixology, probably some other places, maybe someday in print. But don't wait for the print comic, find it in digital as the "native-view" technology available for this works so well, it's a step above your normal printed comic.
In a fictional city, post WWII, the Cold War rages. China is a battleground between Communist forces and American interests. Moth City is run by an American who wants the best armaments for his side of this underground war and will do anything to get them. The citizens of Moth City are near to breaking, treachery and intrigue abound. The little lives of the people of Moth City are being overrun by the greater battle between oppression and pseudo-freedom.
That synopsis kinda sucks, as there's so much more to this story, the characterization is extremely well done, the pace is breakneck and flourishing and the little plot points that add to the greater story are so important that I don't think I can adequately describe this comic.
Tim Gibson's art is also a major plus. It's sloppy, but technically well done. It's sketchy, but detailed. His sense of mood and ability to set the tone with his coloring is a real draw.
Night of a Thousand Wolves
By Bobby Curnow & Dave Wachter
Published by IDW Comics 2012
In some fabled medieval-esque past when pagan dieties and spirits roamed the lands unhindered, a small family builds a home on sacred ground. Sacred to a Wolf Goddess, an angry goddess at that. The Wolf Goddess returns after some 30 odd years since she last set foot on this world to settle a deal made decades past with mischeivous humans. Preceding her arrival on this earthly plane, she sets loose her wolf children on all those in the valley. A small family, our main characters, have to fend off the onslaught of wolves in search of freedom and the continuation of their lives. It turns out one of our main characters descendants had made a deal with the Wolf Goddess for favor and a few decades of prosperity in this lush valley. Now the time has come for the Wolf Goddess to get her returns.
This story is suspenseful as all hell and moves at a fast clip. The art by Dave Wachter is surprisingly awesome. At each page the art sucks you in more and more. A beautifully done book from an artistic standpoint. The story by Bobby Curnow is so well done and captivating, that the ending while fitting was vastly underwhelming. I understand you have to end it somehow, a darker ending seemed more appropriate to me, but oh well, this is what we got. But a great 99% of a story is still mightily satisfying especially accompanied by fantastic painted art by Dave Wachter.
The Doorman #1
By J.M.C. & Lucas Dumstra
Published by Smoking Monkey Comics 2014
The one thing I liked about this comic, the only thing I liked about this comic is the idea that only a crazy person would dress up in a costume and pretend to be a crimefighter or superhero. If writer Jeremy Castiel spent more time on that idea, I might've liked this comic more. Especially when a super dimensional cigar smoking monkey comes into the story out of nowhere to tell the main character he's the chosen one. That little nugget made the story crazier and almost entertaining. Unfortunately, this comic lacked a lot of things. Execution, flow, appealing artwork, and most importantly... a point. The plot as far as I could tell is this - a crazy guy who likes comic books dresses up in a superhero costume, somehow finds a kidnapper, beats him to death, sees his therapist, meets a super dimensional talking cigar chomping monkey, meets an old girlfriend and thats about it. Plus what is the Doorman? No mention at all about doors or door men at all in the entire story.
I could give these guys a break because obviously they're young/new comic book creators, but I've seen other young/new comic creators bring it better than this. So get to work boys, this is not good enough.
The ILL #1
By Maurice Watkins
This comic is a good example of the future of super small press comics. Available only on the web, and probably put up there for free ( http://theill.webcomic.ws/ ). About 10 years ago this kinda comic would be printed up as a mini-comic at the local Kinko's and distributed for free or for super cheap. Nowadays creators like Maurice Watkins can put it online for anyone and everyone in the world to take a look at.
Right off the bat it's obvious Maurice Watkins knows how to write. He's done his work in this regard. His art meanwhile is god-awful. He needs to do a lot more work in that area. Maybe he's not interested in drawing per se, and I would suggest he follow his strengths, because awful art like this does not leave a good impression on someone wanting to read his comic. But, you won't win over any new fans forcing them to view images of this rate just to get a good story. No one has that kind of temarity. But being a reviewer, I forced myself to barrel through the awful artwork and lo and behold I found a decent storyteller. Maurice Watkins is hung up on superhero tropes, which is a negative for me, but if he were to ever get past them, I could see him being quite successful.
The ILL is a story about a group of superheroes trying to save the world. Once upon a time the world was overrun by heroes and villians, so the most powerful of them all, mindwiped the entire world. Erasing the memories of these heroes and villians. Fast forward, the mind wipe is coming undone and theres confusion all over the place. A new group of heroes must step up to counter the oncoming crisis before the bad guys take control. Or something like that. I can't recommend this comic at this point, because the art is so atrocious, but if Maurice Watkins could find an accomplished artist to team with, I could see some really good work coming out of that brain of his.
Noah: Because of the Wickedness of Men #1
By Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel
Published by Le Lombard 2012
Aronofsky is a venerated movie director, think Black Swan, Fountain, etc, but has also written some comic books before and is a self-proclaimed comic fan. I've always found his movies challenging and entertaining. He's a fave of mine. So of course upon hearing he's done another comic (soon to be a major motion picture starring Russel Crowe), albeit two years ago, published in Belgium, now translated into English, I would be on it. And I wasn't disappointed. Putting aside Ari Handel's really fine painterly artwork, this story is Aronofsky weird and tragic. What is clever about this story is, Aronofsky takes the classic Noah and the ark story and combines it with a sci-fi setting on a post apocalyptic earth like world. He adds his own twists and darkly weird moments as only he can which heightens our enjoyment of this fine ass book. European publishers publish serialized hardback volumes of 50-80 some page books as their standard model and while I like that it's a huge fulfilling chunk of story, it's knowing that not only do I have to wait for the next European volume to be published, I have to wait yet more time for the English translation to come out, if it ever does. Sure it's a shorter time, than trying to teach myself how to read French, but for a book this good, it's frustrating. Ah, the life of a fan...poor me.
By Johanna Stokes, Andrew Cosby and Axel Medellin
Published by Boom! Studios 2008
Dr. Wong hides a super secret, super powerful artificial intelligence program in the back of an animatronic teddy bear toy as he escapes from a cabal of evil men. The A.I. program takes control of the bear toy and turns it into the most lethal super soldier that ever existed. It's first priority is to protect his kid owner from all harm. The kid and toy get into some silly hijinks with parents, at school and etc. before evil cabal get wind of where the A.I. program is and descend on the kid and bear toy. All hell breaks loose. Toy and bear eventually win the day and voila, happy ending.
A cute, entertaining story with decent art by Axel Medellin. The plot is full of holes, it doesn't know if it wants to go Toy Story ridiculous or stay in a James Bond sort of pseudo-realism. What bothered me the most was, the teddy bear punching through glass and reinforced plastic, plus knocking jokers out with one punch. Every teddy bear I've ever come across has soft paws. There were other comic book logic moments, which you've just got to roll with to enjoy the story, but the paws thing was one of those that just bothered me throughout. As I read this I also wondered, would Boom Studios publish this now considering how successful they are? In 2008 they were still small and just throwing stuff out there. Much of their back catalog is very weak. Just a thought.
Oily Comix Pack
Published by Oily Comix 2013
I've heard nothing but good things about the almost DIY alternative comics publisher Oily Comix. From the artists being published by them all the way to their price point. Well I finally took the plunge and ordered a bunch of books by them. This is what I got, "Missy" by Daryl Seitchik - "Noise" by Billy Burkert - "Dumpling King" by Alex Kim - "Cut-Away-Comics" by Dan Zettwock - "Training" by Josh Simmons - "Blood Visions" by Zach Worton - "Teen Creeps" by Chuck Forsman. When ordering I did not know they would be mini-comix. Literally 4.25 inches by 5.5 inches. I guess I didn't pay enough attention to the website when ordering. Now, the comics are well done for what they are, all the artists are superb. Excellent looking little books. But...I feel like I wasted my money on them. These are all 12 page comics. Plenty of room to provide some sort of story. But only one of these comics actually produces anything consumable or enjoyable as a good read. "Missy" by Daryl Seitchik is this. Each page is really a super short story and enjoyable at that. Good job Daryl Seitchik. I really liked this comic. The rest were a complete waste of time, paper and money. These are bits of story, they are not stories of themselves.
Super lame. I will not be buying anymore Oily Comix.
By Nicholas Jarry & Erwan Seure-Le-Bihan
Published by Ehape 2011
I will admit I have a passion and a great love for good looking European published comics. I just love the publishing models European publishers use. I think the 50-100 page books they regularly publish is the ideal format for serialized comic stories. Plus I think Euro artists take the medium much more seriously and value the craft a lot higher than most American artists. That's my opinion.
This book, ODIN, by writer N. Jarry and artist E. Seure-Le-Bihan is not the best European comic I've ever read, but what it is, a highly intelligent and fantastical take on the Norse myths starring the oft overlooked King of the Gods is pretty good in it's own right. In America we love Thor and Loki and Odin is often times an afterthought. In the Norse myths, the real bad ass, wasn't Thor necessarily, but Odin. Odin slayed beasts, created worlds and bedded the hottest chicks in the universe. This story is all that plus many a clever fantastical take on those stories and characters. Writer Nicholas Jarry immediately sets up Ragnarok in this story, Odin and his army vs. Loki and his at the end of time and the universe at stake. Odin is tired of battle, Loki wants his glory and the armies of warriors want to fight.
It's pretty good stuff, if I can get ahold of the next volume, I will be very happy.
By Paul Pope
First Second 2013
Praise and acclaim has already been effused from everywhere on the internet for this and now I understand why. This book was awesome! I won't bother with a long review on this as I'm sure you've heard enough about it, but real quick, I'm not the biggest Paul Pope fan, but this book was so much bad ass, that I can not deny it's impact on the industry. It combines the best of comic books, nostalgia, superheroes, adventure stories and weird alternative comic books.
I can't wait for the follow up volume!
By Sabrina Childress - Miller & Alfred Miller
As young comic creators we have to push forward through many artistic obstacles, most of all our own innate obstacle of learning the trade. Some people flip the switch almost immediately and come roaring out of the gates doing outstanding work. Many more of us though have to work hard on our craft for a long time. Which means we have to do a lot of crappy looking work before we can achieve anything that looks generally acceptable. As a kid I began printing self-published comics at my local copy shop and handing them out for free wherever I could. At the time I was proud of them as I put a lot of work into them. Looking back I realize how shitty they really were. They were awful looking things, and I'm embarrased now that I took the time to make them and even give them out. Eventually though I started producing comics that actually started to look like professional looking comics, but it took years to get to that point. I still suck, but at least now I can trick somebody into paying me actual money from time to time to do a couple of pages of comic book art.
I relate this story now as this comic "Katana" by S. Childress-Miller and A. Miller is obviously a beginners book. A lot of hard work was put into this I'm sure, but it's nowhere near a good comic book. The story is much too simple, two men in ancient times, one Japanese, the other Greek fight over a woman who's a bit of both. There's no hook, no characterization, very little background, etc. It seems like it was written by a 12 year old, and it may have been, I don't know. Alfred Miller's artwork is done completely in a computer modeling program and done not very well at that. The cover to this is atrocious, the interior pages are almost painful to look at, the fakeness of computer modelling for comic books is overwhelmingly a bad choice, especially if done to this poor of a degree. Al needs to work on his skill with this computer program or pick up a pencil and learn to draw. Making a comic book doesn't necessarily mean you have to be a super skilled artist or an amazing writer, but you have to give us something to like somewhere.
So in conclusion, Sabrina Childress-Miller and Alfred Miller, work on yo shit, this is not acceptable.
A Sickness in the Family
By Denise Mina & Antonio Fuso
DC Comics 2010
Look straight up this plot has some holes in it, but it's such an entertaining story that it's easy to look past them, in my opinion. Denise Mina has done some novels, had a run on the Wonder Woman comic book and knows what she's doing. This graphic novel is about a dysfunctional family in England. Dad runs a business, has made some money, wife is cheating on him, two of his kids are spoiled brats and the third is adopted. The grandma is sick and moves in with them. The story is narrated in large part by the adopted kid, the outcast as it plays out. Nobody in the family really wanted him, but he does his best to be part of the family, even taking care of sick old grandma when no one else will.
They start to remodel their home, when problems arise. First they think it's haunted when accidents start to happen. But as it turns out one of the family members is twisted and is out to kill the others. The twist at the end is both predicatable and unexpected. While the twist relies on the holes in the plot, there's a suspense there that really hammers the story home.
I genuinely enjoyed this story. It had a great rythm and tempo and featured outstanding artwork by Antonio Fuso. My personal tastes do bend towards odd or alternative style of artists and Fuso is definitely that. His art reminds me of a blend of Kent Williams, Sean Phillips and Mike Mignola. It's weird and definitely fits this story.
Absolution: Happy Kitty #1
By Christos Gage & Paul Duffield
By Avatar Press 2013
It looks like Absolution is some sort of series of semi-superpowered people stories, not sure, don't care, but I did pick this one up 'cause I like Paul Duffield's work. I was quite surprised at how good this comic was. It's nothing spectacular or award winning, but it's really fucking good and Duffield does the best work of his career here.
Happy Kitty is a girl with some kind of ninja super powers. She's autistic or something like that and hardly ever talks. She's taken from her scumbag parents and trained by scumbag gangsters into an enforcer extraordinare. She's given the name Happy Kitty because no one knows what her real name is. So she kills and kills and kills till until she's forced to kill kids. She doesn't and retaliates on her bosses. Bam, end of story. See, nothing spectacular, but a really fun read nonetheless.
Body Count #'s 1-4
By Barry Blair & Dave Cooper
Published by Aircel 1990
Me love some Dave Cooper art! And to not know this existed and to find it at a bargain price in some quarter bins, holy shit! Treasure! And to top it all off this was a decently entertaining silly monster humor story. The writer of this epic is Barry Blair, most famously known for some sort of Elf book in the 1980's or '90's, which I can't remember the title of right now, but he delivers a decent story here all the way up to the end where it just stops to a dead halt. But so what, for me the story was a far second compared to the art by Dave Cooper. His work here in his early days is so fucking good. While I do enjoy his recent painterly work, his pen and ink work I've always loved the most. His work here is so fluid, bubbly, grotesque and beautiful all at the same time. While this book was published in 1990, Dave's work here stands the test of time and looks as fresh now as it did then.
This is one of those lost alternative comic gems that has slipped into the folds of time, but I really wish some modern publisher would get the rights to this and republish it in a nice new collected version. This is the good shit people.
Burn the Orphanage: Born to Lose #'s 1 & 2
By Sina Grace and Daniel Freedman
Published by Image Comics 2013
I avoided the first issue when it came out because of the stupid title and weak ass cover, but I took the time to peruse the second issue upon publication and was impressed by Sina Grace's interior artwork. So I gave it a read and... wow what a book! I went back and got the first issue and bam! Again an impressive comic. Main character Rock is an orphan, a rebel, a street urchin lost in the 1980's, but not so secretly he's also an inter-dimensional bad ass fighter. No one on Earth and in many a dimension can beat him. He's recruited into a fighting tournament by a sexy evil queen and forced to fight for his life. Rock proves to be the baddest dude there, but instead of fighting for the overall championship, he turns the tide against the wicked queen and her mate and causes a rebellion in this kingdom.
Yeah, the story isn't anything too groundbreaking necessarily, but the charm is in the delivery. Plus the fantatically appealing artwork by Sina Grace really hooked me. Grace's style is expressive, rough and packed with energy. Having never seen his work before, I'm impressed. Can't wait for the next issue!
Catalyst Comix #'s 1-7
By Joe Casey and others
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2013
I love the idea behind this series. I don't know who's it was, maybe it was a collective idea, don't know, but it's a cool one and I like it. The bad thing is the uneven art. The artists involved (Dan McDaid, Paul Mayberry & Ulysess Farinas) are not awesome. But they're good. I enjoy them in that they're not your typical superhero style of artists, which is the point here. This is not your typical superhero comic book even though it's all about people in tights and colorful costumes duking it out with the world at stake.
I was 18 when the original World's Greatest Superheroes line, of which this comic is based upon, came out. It was a bit of fresh air for '90's era superhero comics. A lot of quality writers and artists worked on that line of books. In the end though they grew stagnant and ugly, but for about a year there, these were pretty awesome books. Now with Catalyst Comix, Joe Casey has brought the best characters from that line of books (except for Barb Wire!) forward and done something pretty cool with them. Unfortunately the at times ugly art makes this comic not the most exciting, even though Casey with his effusive and overly abundant use of flashy dialogue tries his best to keep it pow and in your face.
But despite the drawbacks of this comic, I'm hanging in there, because I really dig the Amazing Grace and Ballad of Frank Wells stories. This is a superhero comic book for old eccentric stoners. And yep that's me.
By Dan Berry
Published by Great Beast Comics 2013
I like Dan Berry's skritchy scratchy, sketchy flowy art. This silent story meanwhile was odd in a good way. Something about a dad and his daughter getting beat up by some rabid dog/werebeast while walking in the woods, ageing and death and possibly something else metaphorically over my head. For $.99 this was satisfying.
Curse of the Vessel #1
By Michael's Leel, Wilson & McElveen
Published by Danger Entertainment 2013
Three different dudes all named Michael contribute to this comic. I wonder how that happened? Anyway this comic is about a gangster who gets caught up with some evil wizard who takes over his body to get revenge and do other half crazy shit. The story is rough to read in places, very dry in others, somewhat interesting in the rest. The art is so-so, nothing spectacular, so all together this comic was not interesting enough to keep my interest. A for effort, D- for final product.
The Grove Nymph #'s 1 & 2
Gotta love the accessibility of Comixology. I don't know if I woulda ever heard about this comic otherwise. Writer/artist Jecaro is superb. His work is simple, subtle, but very persuasive. At times you might think he was an amateur, but then he gives you a page of sheer gorgeousness and wonder. The colors work very well here too. They're simple, bright when they need to be and dark when called for. There's something magical about this comic. The Grove Nymph is literally some odd magical female palling around with her fairy plant creature friend. Adventures happen and the Grove Nymph has to get herself and her friend out of trouble. That's a simplified recap, but there's actually a lot more depth to this story when you peel the layers.
I like this kind of comic, a lot, while I would ideally like to read only this quality kind of comic, I know it's better when they're few and far between making the enjoyment in finding a book like this all the more wonderful.
|Posted on January 13, 2014 at 2:15 PM||comments (0)|
Why is it, when I've stopped updating this column consistently I get the most email?
I will have new reviews soon though, I was dealing with some serious personal health problems and a big move, which hit me big time in the wallet, plus taking away most of my spare time.
Thanks for emailing and sending me those pdf review copies everyone, I'll do my best to praise or bash your hard work very soon!
|Posted on November 10, 2013 at 7:35 AM||comments (0)|
Out With the Old... In With the Even Older
Hinterkind #'s 1 & 2
By Ian Edginton, Francesco Trifogli & others
The human world lays destroyed and overcome by Mother Nature. The Sidhe (or Fairy kind) have popped back up along with a bunch of other nasty, once mythical creatures and human kind is nearly extinct. Our two main characters are teenagers and some of the last humans alive and they've gone away from their sanctuary of an overgrown Manhattan island to see what else is out there in the big bad world. It's an interesting concept, full of doom, gloom and fantasy.
As a concept, these two issues are executed pretty damn good too. Characterization is great, the slow roll out of this scary new world and all it's terribly and fantastic creatures is involving and captivating. And most terrifying is that in this new world humans are a culinary delicacy which really sends shivers up this readers spine. Because if you think about it, as humans we eat the carcass of almost every other living thing that we are superior too, if there were creatures superior to us and running the world, it's a fact of life we would enter the food chain.
So the story is plenty interesting enough and the art by Francesco Trifogli is pretty good too. It's nothing terribly outstanding, but it's a style quite adept at displaying these kinds of fantastic scenario's. The only thing that bothers me is the coloring. The colorist keeps experimenting with some sort of lighting effect, where really it looks like he or she is scratching lines of light onto the figures for no apparent reason. It's distracting.
Otherwise, this is an interesting new series, which I will definitely be reading more of.
Some Kind of Weird
Amazing Forest #1
Published by Monkeybrain Comics
This is an anthology of 4 tales. The title is an odd one considering it is not a unifying theme title or anything of the sort. The only unifying thing about this comic is that all 4 tales are written by Erick Frietas & Ulises Farinas. I enjoyed this comic book because all 4 tales were of a high quality weirdness. The first tale about alien slime monsters come to earth enslaving and destroying humans with art by Julien DuFour has a nice hook to it and DuFour's art is really well done. Story two about werewolves also has a nice hook to it and borders on the creepy. The art by Matt Rota is expressive and beautiful. The third story about a future world of humans and robots intermingling in creepy robot suits and the longing of one of these "soldiers" wife is catchy. The art by Melody Often is colorful and nice. The final story about a birdwatcher and the very odd owl he spots is pyschologically twisted and very well done and features the odd art of Yumi Sakugawa.
I don't know how well an odd book like this will do in the marketplace, but it's worth a read.
This Should Be Big
Amelia Cole and the Hidden War #5
By Adam P. Knave, DJ Kirkbride, Nick Brokenshire & others
I've been reading a lot of Monkeybrain published comics of late. I guess because they're cheap (99 cents most of the time), digital and plentiful. This particular comic "Amelia Cole and the Hidden War" was a pleasant surpise. It's a short little all-ages comic, nothing too simple though, but still done in that all-ages safe zone way. Amelia Cole is a protector mage who tackles, crime, demons and evil that run rampant in her city. She's a cross between a cop and a superhero. The world of Amelia Cole is modern America, just with magic and myth in control. It's actually a very easy, fun concept and makes me wonder why this particular series hasn't caught on any bigger than it has. It has a wide ranging appeal and is a quality done book.
The story in this particular issue is actually quite deep. Amelia Cole has been assigned to track down "criminals" by her boss for unknown reasons. This has caused her a bit of frustration, as taking people in for no good reason, except by the command of her superiors causes her great concern. As it turns out the people she's been assigned to round up are dissidents. People who are simply working against the establishment. In the world Amelia Cole lives in, magic is supreme, but theres a dissident movement that promotes science over magic and it seems that's not allowed. We'll have to wait till next issue to come to a conclusion for this particular tale, but I know I will definitely be reading.
Everyone Starts Somewhere
Ghost Cop #1
By VJ and Justin Boyd, Christian DiBari and others
The creators behind this book are unknown to me, but everyone has to start somewhere. The story about a ghost cop who haunts a certain part of the city trying to solve a crime that's gone unsolved for 50 years with the help of a modern age policewoman who can see him is nothing extravagantly compelling. It actually reads very confusing at first, but I'm not sure if that's the writers fault or the artist. Eventually it evens out into a more straightforward comprehensive plot, but by that time I'd already decided I was bored by the whole thing.
The artist Christian DiBari though is a fantastic artist and it was his work that kept me reading until the last page. His style is well outside the mainstream and while it's not terribly polished, I really liked it. His ability to render light and dark, his penchant for the sloppy in an effective way really appealed to me. He's got a ways to go, but there's a lot of potential with this guy.
I don't think I could sit through another issue of this story, but I wouldn't mind glancing through it for the chance to see more of Christian DiBari's work.
|Posted on November 3, 2013 at 6:20 AM||comments (0)|
Interesting in a Disappointing Way
Sandman: Overture #1
By Neil Gaiman & JH Williams III
I wasn't sure how they would approach this story, but now we know. It's a story intended for book form broken into the typical single issue format. I don't like when publishers do this. Just publish a damn graphic novel and get it over with. Neil Gaiman tries his best thought to provide some kind of hook for just the first 16 pages of this story. Fortunately for him he has JH Williams III doing the artwork, so something as short as this is still a thing of beauty to look at.
Overall it reads very whimsical, very in tone with Gaiman's recent work. All I can tell from this first issue is that there is some great ordeal our main character has to undergo, which involves his own death and hundreds of ititerations of himself from a myriad of dimensions or universes. It's not terribly involving, this first issue, but knowing Gaiman's work as I do, it is sure to get better. And as mentioned with JH Williams III doing the art, it's certainly going to be a thing of beauty.
A Little Wonky, But A Damn Good Read
Swamp Thing Annual #2
By Charles Soule, Javier Pina and others
First off the art by Javier Pina is beautiful. He draws foliage and our resident swamp monster in an attractive moldy, maleable way that I find super appealing. I've never heard of Pina before, but he may have made a fan for life with this issue. Another person I've never heard of before, Charles Soule, provides a compelling story. It's a bit goofy in ways with the heavy over the top explanations for why Swamp Thing, the Parliament of Trees and how the Green came into being, but it's an introspective tale that weaves a bunch of plotlines together and by the last page it ends up as a really intersting story.
I've read the first few issues of the new Swamp Thing series, and they were pretty good, but after awhile the issues got really wonky and I lost interest. Now after reading this comic, I'm wondering if the series has gotten good again or not? The idea that there are two Green Avatars at play against each other, one of them being the old villian Jason Woodrue in his new nomenclature of The Seeder, is a good way to introduce tension into the storyline and keep us wanting to know more.
This whole issue was about Swamp Thing exploring himself, through past Avatars of the Green, and why he exists and what he's supposed to do and be doing. It's a little hokey in some respects, sentient vegetables at war with humans and animals and the reasons why, but it's a comic book, so I expect some bits of hokeyness. But with Javier Pina providing outstanding artwork to this story, there's room for error in the story, as what you get in the end is beautiful page after beautiful page and a solid read. That's all I expect from my choice in comic books.
Astounding Villian House #1
By Shannon Wheeler
Dark Horse Comics
Shannon Wheeler always cracks me up. Even though Astounding Villian House is not his best work, it's still pretty funny in a completely disposable way. This short little one-shot comic collects four little short stories from the recent Dark Horse Presents title and I imagine there will probably be more as the nature and tone of these stories could run on and on.
My favorite story is the second one which feature two people on a first date, who after imbibing much alcohol try to steal a super villians cape and get sent to hell. The last story which is a riff on The Mole Man and the Fantastic Four will probably be the most popular, as it pokes fun at not only one of the most popular comic books of all time, but also current world affairs.
This is the kind of comic you quickly read, enjoy it for it's silliness, toss it aside and then never think about again. Sometimes comics like these are exactly what a long time comic reader like myself needs. If there's anything bad about this comic, it's the awful coloring. Obviously Shannon's not done much with computer coloring and it shows. Some places it's terribly amateurish and distracting, but if you're a fan of Shannon Wheeler like me, you can accept shoddy art because the joke or the tale is always the real hook to Wheeler's work.
You Can't Get This at the Movies or on Television
The Great Pacific #'s 9-11
by Joe Harris, Martin Morazzo and others
I've reviewed a few previous issues of this comic before, but I feel the need to keep telling people about this comic because it's so good. It's a heady political intrigue type of story with a twist only possible in comic books. This is the kinda of thing that won't ever make it to TV or movies, because it's so odd. Yet it's so solidly told that a venue like sequential art is more than capable and actually seems perfect for it.
What we have in this overall series is a tale of a very rich boy who's made a few poor decisions, on a whim decides to take his last bit of fortune and build a new nation on that very real island of garbage and plastic in the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately nation building isn't an easy thing and all the hurdles and hassles, the espionage and danger is what makes this story so appealing to me.
In issues 9-11, New Texas leader Chas Worthington is trying to legitimately establish his nation in the eyes of the world. The thing is most of the world views New Texas as a bit of a joke. Yet behind the curtain, there are jealous foes and many organizations who hope to see New Texas fail. So Chas Worthington takes up an unlikely ally and tries to present his case to the United Nations back in NYC. Yet Chas soon finds making allies with dangerous folk to further your own agenda, never pays off.
The only problem I have with this book is the awful garish coloring by Tiza Studio. It's as if someone's watercolor set got dumped into the computers circuit boards and is making a mess of things. The coloring is just ugly and distracting. The art by Martin Morazzo is interesting in a very alternative, yet mainstream acceptable way. At times, his figures can look very Rick Geary like, but then he wowes you with the next panel with art in a style I've never seen before. He's good and probably will only get better with time.
In a nutshell, I dig this comic a lot!
Pretty Deadly #1
By Kelly Sue De Connick & Emma Rios
Overall I liked this comic and where it's headed, but I'm weary of the single issue comic that is really only a slight part of the real story. The idea that a real story needs to be 5 or 6 issues long so it can fit in a trade paperback for bookstore display has me irritated. Pretty Deadly #1 is only a glimpse at the longer story. If it were a preview issue, free or half price, it would have done it's job. As the first issue of an ongoing series, it felt slight, it felt like a preview issue that I paid full price for. I didn't like that.
The concept/plot was introduced well enough, the characters in this issue were appealing, but the absence of the cover star, made sure that this issue felt incomplete. Wouldn't you want an appearance by the person and probable main character featured in your introductory story? There's allusions to the main character, but that's it. As to the overall story, what we're given is that back in the Old West, a blind man with an uncanny special sight is travelling with an odd young girl. At one point they're travelling showmen, at another they're feared travelling gunmen, and by the end of the issue they're on the run from another odd feared gunman. There's spooky allusions to other aspects to the characters and their story, but beyond what I've just written, there's not a whole lot to be taken from this first issue.
But still, I liked this. I liked the precarious spooky tone. I liked Emma Rios' art. It's not spectacular, but it's really well done and she has an interesting style. I will pick up the next issue, but if the single issues continue to be this slight of story I will not continue to read this.
This Fox is Dull
The Fox #1
By Dean Haspiel, Mark Waid and others
Red Circle Comics
I thought I liked Dean Haspiel's work. At least once upon a time I did, but the work in this comic is so dull and cheesy, that I am rethinking my idea's on Dean's work. The first few pages of this comic were some of the dullest, most generic comics work I've ever seen. The story got a touch better when The Fox starting fighting some costumed villians, but overall this is the type of comic that had me regretting spending the time I did reading this.
I guess if this was aimed at unsophisticated pre-teens, maybe you've got something, otherwise this was just a terrible comic book. Dull, derivative, cheesy and not very attractive. The plot was a simple thing, our main character, a journalist is interviewing some celebrity who turns out to be a super-villian named Madame Satan. A battle in a photo developing room sends the villian jumping out of a window in defeat. The rest of the issue is about our Fox character getting caught again in some villians schemes (another woman villian) and ending on a to be continued...
The two or three double page splash pages by Haspiel were about the only interesting thing in this comic. Other than that this was an entirely forgettable comic book.
|Posted on October 27, 2013 at 7:25 AM||comments (0)|
I Like Surprises
Afterlife With Archie #1
By Robert Aguirre-Sacasa & Francesco Francavilla
The only reason I picked this up is because of the odd combination of Archie Comics featuring artist Francesco Francavilla. Usually Archie Comics has a "house style" when it comes to their books. A cheesy, cartoony, rather dull "house style". So the thought of Francavilla on an Archie comic immediately caught my attention. That being said, I'm not a huge fan of Francavilla's, but the idea of him doing an Archie comic was too much to pass up. And lo and behold, this comic actually rocked. It's a somewhat mature take on the world of Archie, thanks to writer Aguirre-Sacassa's script. Even though it's largely just a big dark joke featuring the ever prevalant zombie milieu that's taken over our comics and tv, there's some actual tangible story depth. Not being a regular Archie comic reader, but just the little bit that I do know of these comics, actual story depth seems to be a foreign element to them. So while I'm actually beyond tired of zombies, this adult oriented theme (however soft core that it is) worked for me.
The plot is simple, but combines all the elements and characters of the Archie universe in a somewhat serious tone. Reggie runs over Jugheads dog. Jughead takes the dead dog to Sabrina the witch who uses necromancy on the dog and turns it into an undead thing. The dog bites Jughead, turning him into a zombie and now he threatens all of Riverdale.
It's a weird thought for me, but I can't wait to read the next issue!
Ugh, How Does This Even Happen?
Batman: The Dark Knight #24
By Gregg Hurwitz, Alex Maleev and others
I'm an unabashed fan of artist Alex Maleev. I've read just about everything he's ever had published. Yeah, he's a bit of a polarizing artist as his use of photos, sometimes largely just photoshoped over can be quite off-putting, but to me he's got this kind of cool low key, gritty style that I enjoy a lot. So to see his name on a Batman comic, a character known to wallow in dirt and grime, I figured this was a must buy.
Unfotunately for me, this comic isn't about Batman at all. It's really just an origin issue for the villian Clayface. Which I don't get. How do you hire an artist like Alex Maleev on a Batman comic book and not put Batman in the story? Instead you task him to do a supremely boring origin story about Clayface. I don't know who Gregg Hurwitz is, but his story (which I'm sure is plenty muddied by the editors at DC comics) is so drab and boring, each page I turned I was shocked that it wasn't getting any better. This is Alex Maleev illustrating this book, how do you not utilize him properly? You make him draw Clayface?! For real!?
Now the only possible saving grace is that this story is a to be continued... So maybe next issue I will get my Alex Maleev drawing Batman reward I thought I was getting in picking up this issue. But knowing Alex Maleev like I do, him doing mulitple issues in a row on a work for hire gig in a timely fashion, are not odds I like.
Strong and Unexpected
Boo! Halloween Stories #2
This was solid. It's an anthology of 3 horror and creepy stories by a variety of unknown but quality art and writing teams. Framing artist Jon Morris is superb with his cartoony, sharp and fun style. The first story by Matt Smiegel is awesome. It's a take on the whole zombie scenario I've never seen before. It's both silly and dark. The second story by Ken Lowry, Shawn McGuan and Rachel Deering is the weakest of the book with a story about a bunch of demons masquerading as a rock band, touring the country and wreaking havoc. While the third story by Kyle Starks is both the most disturbing and powerful of the three stories. It's about two psychic investigators taking on their next mission where a little girl supposedly sees ghosts. Instead they find out, that this girl can actually open a portal to hell and what the investigators find there is what makes this little story so powerful. I don't want to spoil it, as the hook is what makes this story.
So in conclusion, this is an awesome, fun comic book and I'm going to do my best to pick up the previous issue and the next one too!
Someone Has a Problem
By Donny Cates & Geoff Shaw
Dark Horse Comics
So the main character gets his superpowers from taking drugs. All right, there's your base concept, there's no scientific or even comic book science reason given for how this happens, but again it's a comic book, so you take it as it is. Now you've got your concept, what kind of story can you tell? Well, writer Donny Cates gives us a tragedy on a couple different levels. There's the reluctant hero angle, the hero because of his super life loses his loved ones angle, but the most useful one is the fact that this main character dude takes a lot of fucking drugs to be a superhero. And taking a lot of drugs will do a number on your psyche no matter how superheroic one may be. So what we have behind it all is an anti-drug story cleverly mixed with modern superheroic storytelling devices. It's almost clever.
BUZZKILL's goofy, but ultra serious/depressing tone is pretty involving and it's told well enough that you get really familiar with the character and the background without any problems. The artwork by Geoff Shaw is pretty decent too. He's obviously a Sean Murphy fan, aping many of Murphy's trademark techniques, but he's good enough in his own way when he wants to be.
I do believe this series will read better when all four issues of this mini are collected as this issue was really just a little nugget of a story and demands that the rest of the story be read to "get it" all. While I think I would read this all once it's collected, I know I will have a hard time picking up the other single issues.
|Posted on October 20, 2013 at 9:10 AM||comments (0)|
This is the best graphic novel I've read in a few years, hands down. Not since "The Nao of Brown" by Glyn Dillon, have I been so impressed by a comic book. This was released in May of this year, it can actually be read for free in webcomic form here (http://bikinicowboy.tumblr.com/), but I recently picked it up in digital form sheerly on the absurdity of the title and the gorgeous preview pages.
I found Bikini Cowboy to be a breath of absurd fresh air that the staid comics industry needs. I've grown tired of the tried and true formula of many of our popular modern comics, so when a self-published book like this comes along, my faith in the medium of comics is restored. I hope this gets enough attention, because it deserves it.
I don't know who Fresherluke is, what his background is or whatnot, but he's an amazing artist and a compelling storyteller. His work on this is a gorgeous blend of pencil, wash, and computer laden toning all in black, white and gray. The style is reminiscent of Pixar animation and maybe that's where Fresherluke comes from. He's not done too many other comics from what I can tell, so I'm assuming he makes his living with animation, somehow, someway. It's too bad though, because this is the kinda talent the comics medium needs so desperately.
Bikini Cowboy is definitely a ridiculous book. Ridiculous in a good way! You've got a self-proclaimed Hawaiin witch dressed in nothing but a bikini, boots and hat, carrying around a surfboard, causing trouble and chasing after adventure. This ridiculous character isn't given a lot of background at all in the book. My main question of if she's Hawaiin, how'd she get to the desert where this entire story takes place, goes unanswered. There are quite a few unanswered questions in this book, but it's easy to get past those questions because the story is so exciting. Our heroine Jill, the Hawaiin witch rescues a little slave boy, who has magic powers, and the both of them go on the run from an evil preacher dude, until they can run no longer and have to face the music. The climax of the book is a great battle between Jill and this wicked preacher dude and while it turns out rosy for our heroine, the journey and the drama the characters endure is what this story is all about.
I loved this book plain and simple. Recommended reading for sure.
I'm Probably Jealous
The 120 Days of Simon
By Simon Gardenfors
Top Shelf Comics
Released in 2010, this graphic novel was recently acquired by me through Top Shelf's recent annual deep discount online only sale. They do these sales once a year, but this year, there were some particular awesome titles available, like "The 120 Days of Simon". I got this for $3! What a deal!
I really enjoyed this fat digest sized travel diary/auto-bio tale where artist Simon Gardenfors roams his native Sweden, travelling from city to city, never staying in one place for more than two nights. Many of us dream of doing the whole vagabond/tramp/travel thing, but few of us ever go through with it. Even fewer actually document their travels in comic book form! Almost immediately upon reading you realize Simon is not one for lack of confidence or charm. Half of this book is about how much Simon gets laid on his journey's. His way with women, even if exaggerated, is uncanny. I'm assuming Simon is a bit of a notoriety in Norway's sub-culture, but the amount of pussy that throws itself at him is astounding. Most American comic book creators are very homely looking to say the least, so to see this European comics artist getting so much action has made me very jealous.
The style in which Simon works is particularly catchy too. His simplified, cartoony, almost old-school video game style is really fun to look at. Each page of this book was no more than two panels and so the book read fast and loose. Almost too fast, as the book was such a fun read, you were dreading the end.
So while many auto-bio comics can be rather dry, this one was not. Not in the least and I am for sure going to be getting my jealous little hands on any and all Simon Gardenfors comics from here on out.
Why Am I Such a Procrastinator When it Comes to the Good Shit?!
By Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido
Dark Horse Comics Edition 2010
I heard about this title way back when it was winning awards in Europe circa 2000-2004. When news arrived that there would be english translations I got excited. Then when the books were published a few years back here in the states, I ignored it, telling myself that I would pick it up eventually when I had the money. Finally my bargain hunting self saw a deeply discounted copy of the 2010 Dark Horse collected edition and I knew I could pass it up no longer. And I damn myself for taking so long to read some amazing... no stunningly good comics.
The captivating quality of Juanjo Guarnido artwork is out of this world. You might be able to give it a pass in a quick glance over kind of way, but if you sit down to read this, you quickly realize that this dude knows what he's doing. All the artwork was done with pen, ink and watercolor paint. Very little computer effects to the art at all and it's absolutely beautiful. A comic book artist with a gift of painting detail like this is rarely seen. The detail in the characters, the backgrounds and the shades of color are gorgeous. Combine that with compelling, emotionally involving stories from Juan Díaz Canales and it's no surprise why this book won so many awards.
Blacksad is set in the early 1950's America about a private investigator who gets involved in thrilling and deeply disturbing adventures. The unique thing about this whole world is it's done with anthropomorphic characters. In the Dark Horse edition, you get three separate tales, that were originally published individually in Europe and I believe in small translated print runs in America. The first story about our main characters past true love rising to stardom and then being killed is a thrilling and beautifully strange story. But I wondered why it needed to be told with anthropomorphic characters? The second story about white racism in America in the 40's and 50's showed me that the power of using such cypher's for humanity was a brilliant move. This second story is where this graphic novel makes it's money. It's a powerful look at how awful racism is, and how powerful it was in America even just 60 some years ago. The third story about ex-Nazi scientists turned American scientists after WWII and hiding out trying to make a life in America, with a dash of Communist hunting was a great read too. There are no flaws in the book. None that my feeble mind could find at least. This is as good as comics gets. Blacksad is the kind of comic you give to aspiring writers and artists who are still learning the trade. This is the good shit.
|Posted on October 13, 2013 at 8:10 AM||comments (0)|
And I Thought Only Grant Morrison "Got" This Character
Fantomex: Max #1
By Andrew Hope and Shawn Crystal
Well, this was a surprise to say the least. Fantomex, to me has always been one of those characters that only worked when written by it's creator. I gave this series a shot merely because I liked the preview I saw online with the art by Shawn Crystal. Shawn is a really good artist. His style is cartoony, exaggerated, but technically sound in all the right ways. He can do moody, silly, dark and bombastic from one panel to the other. I'm wondering where he came from and I am down with seeing more of his work.
Andrew Hope's script (assisted by the heavy hands of Marvel Comics, I'm sure) delivers a punchy, fun and catchy plot. In the grand scheme of things it's nothing terribly unique (damsel in distress, hero to the rescue stuff), but it's a solid read, and captures the real feel to Fantomex that Grant Morrison established in the creation of the character. At least in my opinion. I'm not sure if the story would be as good if handled by another artist, but I'm curious to see what happens next issue and that's a good thing, even though I'm dead tired of emphemeral throwaway comic books that Marvel and DC have become famous for in recent years.
Dark, Mysterious and Beautiful, but Really Kinda Silly
Savage Wolverine #9
By Jock and others
Jock is writing and drawing this book and I don't know if he has been since #1, but I feel like an idiot for not noticing that. I'm a huge fan of Jock's art and I will always remember the quote years ago when he said he was done doing interior work on comic books. Obviously he's changed his mind a few different times since then. And while his work on this particular issue is outstanding (despite the nice colors, Jock's work is by far better in black and white), his story is typical modern superhero comic book stuff. It's padded, slightly mysterious, slight on the explanations and it's made for the trade paperback. I'm not sure if this is Jock's first true gig as lead writer or not, but he's going to have to do better than this to keep me interested. Yeah, I love his art and have no problem spending money on just books of his art, but this is a Wolverine superhero comic and he's got to do better than this for me to waste more money on characters like this.
Wolverine trapped on some far away planet full of giant weird bugs is cool and all, but with no explanations in all 21 pages why Wolverine is here leaves this story seeming very empty.
Somehow This Slipped By the Quality Control Inspectors
Reality Check #2
By Glen Brunswick, Victor Bogdanovic and others
I could start and end this review with just one word - Stupid - but I should probably explain why this is a downright awful comic book. I'm actually disgusted with myself having read this past page 10. It's that kind of awful.
The premise - A guy creates a superhero comic book for some company, the main character comes to life magically and hijinks ensue.
The story is painful to read. Glen Brunswick has had comics published before, none that I've personally liked, but he's been published. So how does such a painfully awful, basically amateurish, concept like this get published at Image Comics? If the art were good, I might give it some leeway, but it's not. The art is about as painful as the story.
If this can be accepted at Image Comics, I have to hope I can have my next submission accepted too.
Bits of Sense Lost in a Timestream
By Curt Pires & Dalton Rose
There's something interesting here lost amongst the nonsense. This is yet another comic book playing around with time travel and like usual everything falls apart, not making a lick of sense. Some weird guy with a metal face mask is the boss of some kind of group of time travelling secret agents. Something fucked up happens and people start killing each other. One character has a love affair with another, she goes away, people get lost inbetween times and there's lots of pretty colors all around.
As confusing and nonsensical as this story was, I think it woulda been better with an artist that could pull off weird looking shit. Artist Dalton Rose is not a very good artist and his images of surrealistic imagery is lacking to say the least. I know its hard to do weird shit if you're not a fucking weirdo in your own right, but I just think I would have liked this more with a better style of artist.
Not that I understood what was going on, what has happened before or generated any interest in what is to come. But through all the bullshit, I think there's something slightly interesting to all this. I could be wrong.
Oh My God
God is Dead #'s 1 & 2
By Jonathan Hickman, Di Amorom & others
Jonathan Hickman can get anything published these days. And it's a matter of taste which work of his you prefer. Maybe you like all of it, maybe none of it, but you at least have to admire his tenacity, motivation and determination at being the next great comic book writer. "God is Dead" is a completely silly conceptual comic book. The premise being what if all the gods of myth came back to life and back to Earth bent on conquest and revelation? Well predictably everything goes to shit. For all it's goofiness, there's something appealing about it all. While we've seen Zeus and Odin and Shiva and all the other famous gods of yore, the ones we haven't yet seen, the ones of particular interest of North American and Western European fans are our Hebrew gods, Yahweh and Jesus. Hickman has thrown out a few feelers that eventually the story will get there, but I'm wondering to myself is that the only reason I want to continue reading this? To see Jesus and Yahweh lay the smack down on Odin and Zeus and the others?
The art meanwhile is typical Avatar Press style. Not very good, nearly amateurish. It does the job though, so whatever.
|Posted on October 6, 2013 at 7:25 AM||comments (0)|
A Failed Movie Script?
Avengers: Endless Wartime
By Warren Ellis, Mike McKone and others
This read like a script for a proposed Avengers movie. It's a culmination of all the basics of the first Avengers movie (characters, attitudes, station, etc.), plus a bunch of new continuity ticks marginally comic book continuity related, but which doesn't deviate greatly from the new Avengers movie continuity and blended into what might be mistaken for a screenplay transformed into a graphic novel. It's a solid story all told. It's a fast read and honestly I could see it being the basis of some future Avengers movie. It pushes some buttons, but maintains a staid status quo.
But, being a huge Warren Ellis fan, for a Warren Ellis project, this was pretty bland. This was possibly the most mediocre, straight forward thing of his that I've ever read. It's not a bad story, but it's not exciting at all. It's done at a very tepid, expected crawl. Maybe that's partly artist Mike McKone's fault as his art while solid and pretty at times seemed very static. His work has a gloss to it that unnerves me. Where's the grit and grime of monsters battling? It's not this pretty when blood is spewed and bones are broken, so why does McKone make everything look so nice and shiny?
The plot being that a long time ago an ancient Norse monster was released upon Earth and after a battle with Thor, it hibernated until it was subdued and transformed by Nazi technology. Now in modern times, SHIELD has bred hundreds of copies of this monster in efforts to counter modern day superhumans. When plans get out that these things are going crazy and threaten NYC, the Avengers decide to take matters into hand and kill some monsters.
There's other more subtle things to the story, but that above is the basic plot. I would expect something more interesting from Warren Ellis, but I never was the biggest fan of his superhero stories and maybe he had to do some comprimising to get paid for this thing. Whatever the case, this book should recieve a pass from all but the most rabid of fanboys/girls.
How Many Boring Captain America War Stories Can They Tell?
Captain America: Living Legend #1
By Andy Diggle, Adi Granov and others
I only picked this up because of artist Adi Granov's contribution. I've yet to like a single Andy Diggle story and this story here only contributes to that awful cause. Diggle crafts another anonymous story about Captain America having to face down a compatriot from the past. This particular story centers around how Captain America came to the aid of a Russian squad in WWII and how one soldier he befriended is now a superhuman threat in the present time. Ho-hum. Even Adi Granov's inventive artwork can't keep this story from boring the shit out of me.
This book reads like filler material. Something to put on the stands, something to keep the property thrumming. A trade paperback book they can showcase when the new movie comes out, to keep the IP rolling. I guess as a corporation this is what you do.
You Gotta Try
Rat Queens #1
By Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch
Fairy tales with cussing! It's not entirely unique, but it still works here. Largely because of the characters and the somewhat unexpected manner and scenarios. Rat Queens #1 overall is a pretty good intro effort. I'm all for trying new things in comics and Kurtis Wiebe and Roc Upchurch take a couple common concepts (fairy tales and bad girls) and combines them in a mostly unique take. The only problem I have with this issue is the weak plot. The characterization of our 4 main characters is off the charts and each of them is likeable in their own way, but plot wise this story better get a whole lot more outstanding or this isn't going to go anywhere. Right now these "Rat Queens" are a bunch of mercenaries in a town that can't stand them. They're given a trek by the authorities to hunt out some goblins, but it turns out it's a trick and they were sent on a fool's errand to be assassinated.
I will definitely pick up issue two, but if the plot stays as weak as it is, I'm going to jump off even if I find the characters totally interesting and the potty mouth dialogue funny as fuck.
|Posted on September 29, 2013 at 7:35 AM||comments (0)|
I Wish I Had Orgasms This Colorful
Sex Criminals #1
By Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky
This is a beautiful book. Chip Zdarsky creates a wonderful looking comic book...but the plot... Cheesy as fuck. Two people, a man and a woman have time stopping powers after achieving orgasm. It's not until the last page do we find out the twist of the story. And it ties in to the whole criminal part in the title. Yeah, so despite the very pretty artwork, this story lost me with the "twist". Stupid.
I'll Wait for the Movie
Kick-Ass 3 #'s 1-3
By Mark Millar, John Romita and others
I liked issue one of volume 3 a lot. Hit Girl getting captured and taken to prison was kinda intense. But issues two and three which focus more on the title character and his other costumed compatriots didn't do much for me. I only want Hit-Girl. She's the most interesting character of this comic, possibly the ONLY interesting charcter in this comic and I would like more of her ordeals in prison than reading about the love life of Kick-Ass and how his superhero group is doing.
I did not read volume two of this series, because I wasn't all that impressed with volume one. I actually enjoyed the first Kick-Ass movie far more than I did the comic it was based on. I have not seen Kick-Ass 2, but I know I will eventually. The comics by Mark Millar and John Romita jr. are just not that interesting to me. There are moments of excitement, but then followed by an ungodly amount of dumbness. That is Mark Millar to me. 10% interesting, 90% dumb.
Down Pat Repetoir
Red Team #5
By Garth Ennis & Craig Cermak
Jumping mid way into a Garth Ennis story is not the best thing to do. It took me just about the whole comic to get caught up on the general story, but I got it at the end and it's ugly. Garth Ennis works in a certain genre and does it good, so you know what to expect from a Garth Ennis story. RED TEAM #5 is no different from the past handful of Ennis comics I've checked out genre wise. It's a cop procedural drama with some extreme ugliness and hardcore violence. This story resonates around a special crimes unit dubbed Red Team as they have to deal with the worse the world has to offer and internal corruption.
Jumping in on issue 5 is not the ideal thing to do, but I did it and this was a solid read. I'm sure reading this from issue one would be more satisfying, but I didn't do that. This type of book will further endear Garth Ennis fans to their beloved creator, but if anyone who's not read an Ennis comic and is looking for a hardcore brutal police drama, this is a good book to pick up.
Ghosts Can Kill!
The Last Lonely Saturday
By Jordan Crane
This was first published in the year 2000, but I just picked up it up for a nice little bargain and gave it a read. Jordan Crane is by now a household name in the indy comics field with a dozen or more well known comics published by a variety of publishers. The Last Lonely Saturday is one of Crane's first long form works and is a cute easy breezy read about an old man reminiscing about his now deceased wife whom he seems to have loved a lot. So on one final visit to her grave, he's visited by her ghost and she fucking kills him so they can spend eternity together as otherworldy spirits.
This was a weird little story, but Crane's cute simple art style is awesome, so I enjoyed this little nugget of a book very much.
|Posted on September 22, 2013 at 7:00 AM||comments (0)|
Messing With Our Minds
The Bounce #5
By Joe Casey & David Messina
I don't like time travel stories. I wasn't sure what to expect from this comic, but it definitely wasn't a time travel story. Time travel stories are always a fucking mess and this comic is exactly that. It's kinda interesting, I will give it that, but it's such a clusterfuck of stuff, that I'm lost on who is who, what is what and do I even care?
There's a few superheroes in here, dimension hopping, evil army guys, sexy psychic chicks and a few other colorful plot devices, but it's either too much to comprehend for my puerile mind or it's all just a bunch of muck that doesn't really take hold.
I've read plenty of Joe Casey books and they've all bordered on the thin line of interesting stuff and pure drivel and this comic is smack dab right on that edge. It's almost interesting enough to read more, but I'm wary because of the idea I might have to drive my mind through even more nonsensicle stuff to get to a real point.
Just Throw Something Together They Said!
Justice League #23.3/Dial E #1
By China Mielville & a variety of artists
This mash-up of comic book artists taking turns each drawing just one page is pretty, but completely devoid of actual story. Plus with no relation to the actual Justice League, I really don't get the point of this book? I enjoyed all the artistic talent brought in on this issue, but what was the point? To create a pretty, but pointless story? Is it so abstract I just don't get it? If given the chance to have all these awesome artists contribute to one story, I would think you'd want to use them on a better story than this?
I didn't purchase this thankfully and I hope no one actually does. What a waste of time.
Playing it Safe and Pitching Softballs
Brain Boy #1
By Fred Van Lente, RB Silva and others
Dark Horse Comics
Fred Van Lente first came to my attention doing the awesome self-published "Action Philosophers", which was basically a history lesson in comics form. It was an excellent series. On the strength of that book he got some work at Marvel comics and ever since then I've not cared a damn about his work.
This being a slow week for me comics collecting wise I decided to give his work another shot with "Brain Boy". I realized it's a stupid title and kinda had a feeling this was going to be dumb and lo and behold, I was right. This is a dumb book. It's the kinda book that does nothing for the form, but just put another book on the stands. There's nothing clever or exciting about it. It essentially reads like a Marvel comic. That soft pitch, bland, caressing the mediocrity in the common fanboy that we find in most of the books Marvel produces.
The plot is basically about a dude who's both psychic and telekinetic, works for the government, has a mysterious past and runs into an evil dictator while on assignment, who it turns out is also a psychic and telekinetic. Despite the mediocre plot, the art bothered me more. It wasn't bad, but what it was, a weak Stuart Immonen imitation, really bugged me. I really enjoy Stuart Immonen's work, especially when he's doing non-traditional comic books. Those kinds of books where he can get exaggerated and freaky (Nextwave for example). He's a world class comic book artist, but I never thought we'd ever see an imitator. Brain Boy artist RB Silva does do a great imitation for most of the book, but there are plenty of times where he can't pull it off and it just looks goddamn awful. I will never understood why artists imitate other artists? I can understand picking up tips and a few trademark moves, but a wholesale imitation is just not good form.
So in a nutshell, this book was weak on a lot of levels, enjoy at your own risk.
Brian Wood and His Consistent Bleakness
The Massive #'s 13 & 14
by Brian Wood, Gary Brown and Jordie Bellaire
This is the second disaster epic that Brian Wood has done that I know of and I find this one more appealing. DMZ from DC comics started off pretty solid, with it's end of NYC scenario, but then rambled on and got boring. The Massive is a little more ambitious, not only is NYC destroyed, so is the whole eastern seaboard of America. Except these two issues take place in the sunken, flooded ruins of NYC, an area Brian Wood seems obsessed with.
Most of Wood's work, I've found boring, inspired and interesting in concept, just dull in it's execution. The Massive, for these two issues at least, have my full attention. Even so, there's minute dullness already seeping into the details. His characters, the characters in this book are not exciting. At all, but it's the concept that has me intrigued. America is destroyed, our main characters are stuck on a boat and want to make things right, except a rogue member of their group has a nuclear submarine in his hands and intends to make destruction. In comes the remnants of the American Navy and drama ensues.
I'm going to pick up the next issue for sure, but will I continue to pick this series up afterwards, I have a feeling not. Brian Wood's work will eventually either bore me to death or annoy me enough to write his work off again.
The Best Intelligent Horror/Monster Stuff on the Stands
Abe Sapien: The Dark and Terrible #'s 1-3
By John Arcudi, Mike Mignola, Max Fiumura & Dave Stewart
Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse is already on the follow up to this mini-series with Abe Sapien: The Salton Sea, but I needed to finish this mini up before moving on to the next. I enjoy the plethora of Mike Mignola universe titles that are available for reading, but sometimes it's too much. It's one mini-series after the other and while I would love to read everything from this Mignola universe, I can't.
But this Dark and Terrible was an excellent series. Although technically it resolves nothing in regards to the overall story of the current Mignola universe, what it does is give artist Max Fiumura the chance to draw some awesome monsters and monsters fighting. His Abe Sapien is the best he's ever looked. Better than Guy Davis' version by far. He's truly horrific looking now.
What's going on in the current Mignola universe is just pure chaos end of the world stuff and there doesn't appear to be a silver lining. Even the great Hellboy is "dead". I just don't see how things get better, but if Max Fiumura is drawing the end of the world, I'm reading.
|Posted on September 15, 2013 at 8:55 AM||comments (0)|
We Like Strange, Yes We Do!
By Brandon Graham, James Stokoe, Simon Roy and others
I never ever read a copy of Youngblood that comic by Rob Liefeld, but I do know the names of some of it's characters due to the fact I read way too much about comics in general. So I was surprised to see that this excellent issue was basically a far future reunion of some of Youngblood's most popular characters. I guess reunion is not the right term, as this issue is basically all about the character Diehard and how he's lived for thousands and thousands of years meeting and re-meeting members of the group he once belonged to. Through the thousands of years Diehard goes through a myriad of permutations to his character. Fighting, building families, pondering, meeting old friends in new forms, that's the life of this semi-robotic character. Eventually by the end of the issue, thousands and thousands of years in the future, the star of this comic appears, but in yet another confusing and future form.The only constants I've noticed from the issues I've read is that Prophet can be regenerated over and over again and is in constant battle with some evil empire. I don't really understand the concept yet or the relation to this character Diehard or why we are focusing this entire issue on him, but it was a cool ride nonetheless!
Fortunately the strangeness of this comic, it's balls to the wall bizareness is so freaking enjoyable and helped by strange and beautiful artwork, that I can't stop loving this comic.
The First American Produced Judge Dredd Comic I've Ever Enjoyed
Mars Attacks Judge Dredd #1
By Al Ewing, Simon McCrea and others
Technically the writer and artist are British and have produced a couple dozen Dredd stories amongst themselves in the past so their familiarity with the character is established. And while I've enjoyed plenty of 2000 A.D. Dredd stories, never has an American publisher been able to produce an original Dredd story that has interested me till now. While this is nothing near groundbreaking or award winning, it's an easy to read, throwaway cheesy fun adventure horror story starring Judge Dredd taking on those pesky Martians from Mars Attacks.
Ideally this comic wouldn't have costed me $3.99, because it's the kind of comic in yore's past that you would read then toss somewhere in your house never to be seen again. It's never going to be a valuable collector's item, but for what it was, it did it's job.
Way Too Much
By Adam Egypt Mortimer & Darick Robertson
Black Mask Studios
I've never been a big fan of Darick Robertson's art, but I've noticed how he's constantly involved with cool comics projects. From, "The Boys" with Garth Ennis most recently, and all the way back to "Transmetropolitan" with Warren Ellis. This Ballistic, his latest project, is another odd and somehow interesting project. The basis of it, set in some distant Earth future where the world's gone to fuck. Technology has warped everything, from food, to porn, to houses and more. Our main character is a crook with a good heart and he's involved in all kinds of weird shit, and has as a companion a weird living gun that a lot of nefarious sorts want for an as yet unknown reason.
Basically it's a buddy story between a man and his gun, except the setting is completely bizarre and honestly nearly impenetrable. The writer is pummelling us with information and story background that it's dizzying in it's comprehension. There's multiple layers here and figuring out what is what and how the story and our main character relates is confusing, to say the least. Yet despite all this detritus of story, it's somehow cooly interesting. I don't know if I can stand to read all 5 issues of this mini-series before being frustrated at all the little warblings of story and technology caveats introduced by the writer, but I have a feeling that any book called "My Favorite Book of 2013" by Grant Morrison will require a full re-read by me in time.
Herobear and the Kid #1
by Mike Kunkle
I realize this comic is not aimed at adults like myself, but after repeatedly seeing other adults rave about this comic, I figured it would be at least worthwhile to familiarize myself with it. So upon reading, I realize yeah, this is definitely aimed at that tweener audience as the story matter about a boy dealing with a new school and bully's is not for the average adult. But looking over the story in general I do notice that this is not original story matter. How many childrens stories involve new school and bully's? Way too many.
The art is nice in it's simplicity, but isn't too appealing to me. I imagine Kunkel does well in the animation field, as the art here is decidely quick sketch animation style. Having the book done in largely a black and white style is odd considering it's aimed at kids.
So while I appreciate the effort in making comics for kids, I personally don't think this comic is all that unique or appealing. I've seen better.
Clean Cut Bad Ass?
Justice League 23.2/Lobo #1
By Margurite Bennet, Ben Oliver and others
I'm largely giving up on reading DC comics for the near future, but I knew I had to check out this remake of the classic DC character of Lobo. I was once upon a time a big fan of the Simon Bisley designed Lobo when he originally appeared 20 some years ago. Upon hearing about the controversy around the new redesign of Lobo in this new DC universe, I knew I had to give it a read. So what we get is a lean, clean cut, glowing face tattoo's distilled down version of Lobo. His dialogue is not as obtuse or adverse or delivered in as macho or gutteral style as we've come to know Lobo. Obviously this is something different.
This story wasn't terrible, it wasn't great either. This new Lobo isn't any different though from your average anti-hero either. He's not unique at all. If this is what we have to look forward to for this character, he's quickly going to be forgettable. What this story does set up is that there are two Lobo's in the universe, this new one and the old one, whom is supposedly an imposter. Knowing comic books as I do, the story is about to get ridiculous and I could give a shit really what happens. The classic Lobo just has the stayng power and the more unique look. This new guy is just a story plot to get fans interested again.
|Posted on September 8, 2013 at 7:25 AM||comments (0)|
Why Do I Torture Myself!?
Forever Evil #1
By Geoff Johns, David Finch & others
Did I read this because I'm a comic book addict? Do I subconsciously intend to torture myself? Why do I continue to pick up these kinds of comics? I must be stupid, that's the only logical reason.
First of all didn't DC do something like this just a few years ago, where the bad guys took over? Maybe that was a Marvel thing? Now I know with reading comics, suspension of disbelief has to be high, especially with superhero comics, but sometimes comics like Forever Evil #1 are so ridiculous, that they seem like they were created by a group of brain damaged individuals. After reading this, I have to assume writer Geoff Johns, the editors and the publisher of this comic are exactly that. Maybe they became brain damaged because they've read too many of their own awful books?
You know what? If I was 8 years old and not yet familiar with the pecularities of the real world I might dig this. Except it's obvious this was not written exclusively for kids. It's mood is way too serious and melodramatic for an adolescent to care for. So the fact this was intentionally written for 30-40 some dudes like myself, is pathetic.
What this comic is about is some alternate world evil duplicates of DC's most popular superheroes (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, etc) have come to the DC main universe and are going to take over the world or destroy it. That's the whole fucking plot. It's a plot for simpletons. If anyone who reads this review and then buys issue 2 is a complete fucking simple idiot. This is the lowest of comic book garbage, everyone involved with it's creation should be absolutely embarrassed.
This is How You Make A Once Cool Character Stupid
Justice League 23.1/Darkseid #1
by Grek Pak and others
We get a new origin for legendary villian Darkseid in this Forever Evil takeover of the Justice League comic and it's really comic booky stupid. Let me explain, Darkseid sneaks into the city of the old gods and while these gods sleep he whispers into their ears nasty lies which somehow incites a god war. Uh...ok, yeah that would work. Then when all the gods are almost dead, Darkseid with his spear stabs the gods as they die and absorbs their power somehow. The key being somehow, as he was just a regular ornery dude up to this point. So now we have our all familiar evil Darkseid.
Anyway, then the rest of the issue is just a recap of Darkseid's experiences in this new rebooted DC continuity, how he was beaten by the Justice League, how Superman is now his greatest foe and etc. I wasn't really paying attention to who the writer is, but when I noticed is was the same guy who gave us all those boringly tepid Hulk comics over at Marvel comics for so many years, it made sense. Greg Pak is the king of mediocre. I guess the heavy handed editors at DC comics probably had their hands all over this script, so I shouldn't be too harsh on Greg Pak, but this story reeked.
The art, meanwhile was just ok. The artists, were newcomers who did the best they could, but the style was still very firmly standard comic book stuff, nothing very exciting. I did for some reason really want to read this, as Darkseid I believe was one of the more interesting Jack Kirby creations, so my curiosity got the best of me and I gave this a read. Now I see that Kirby is probably rolling in his grave at the current state of being of one of his better creations. But getting worked up about fictional characters of pen and ink on paper is a waste of time. So onto the next review....
Back in Black & White Again
Batman: Black & White vol. 2 #1
Here's another round of short stories of the Batman and such illustrated entirely in black and white (and some gray) by some of the comic book industries best and brightest. I enjoyed the first volume released back in the 90's and I'm sure I will enjoy this newest volume even though issue 1 was a rough go at it.
There was really only one story that grabbed me in this issue and that was the one written by Chip Kidd and illustrated by Michael Cho. This little tale of Superman and Robin coming to Batman's rescue was a beautiful looking story. Michael Cho is an amazingly brilliant artist. Every single page in this short story was sheer comic book gorgeousness. Cho is mostly known for his illustrations seen on magazine and book covers, even though he has done a handful of indy comics. If only there was a world where superhero comics were this consistently gorgeous...
Sean Murphy provides a short little boring story basically an excuse for him to draw an ugly looking rectangle Batmobile. I love Sean's art and a chance for him to do Batman in black and white seemed like a no-brainer, but this story was super lackluster and spoiled the art for me.
The other stories by Neal Adams (just a reproduction of his pencils), Chris Samnee, Joe Quinones and whoever else did mostly nothing for me. But that first Michael Cho story was enough to carry this issue and make me eager for more.
Longer Ago and Farther Away
The Star Wars #1
By JW Rinzler, Mike Mayhew and others
Dark Horse Comics
Even though I've no use for Star Wars in these my older age days, I will always have a soft spot for Star Wars in my childlike heart. I loved Star Wars as a youth and while I've been mightily turned off by what is available Star Wars wise these days, I knew I had to check out this reworked story made from George Lucas' first screenplay for Star Wars. What I noticed first is how awesome the artwork is. I've known of Mike Mayhew, but I never knew he was this good. His art is fantastic on this! Was he always this good and I never noticed? Or did he just get so much better for this project? The reworked designs from the familiar Star Wars stuff is very cool and very well done by Mayhew. This guy is bringing it on this issue.
The story, meanwhile, is enchanting in the way that all those Elseworlds books DC used to publish were. Legendary mythos reworked in a different manner, with clever new twists, turns and such. In this Star Wars story, Luke Skywalker is still the hero of the whole thing, but is an old Jedi who looks a lot like a slimmer, buffer George Lucas. Luke is the General of the Rebel army and is trying to prepare his forces to take on the seemingly overpowering New Empire governed by a much less creepy Emperor. And like the familiar story, Jedi's are nearly extinct and in this story Luke has to rally his troops with or without Jedi help.
Of all the new takes on characters and settings, the one I like the most is Darth Vader. Upon looking at the cover for this, we all assumed that the evil masked dude with the red lightsaber was going to be Darth Vader. But, no, he gets cut in two within the first 7 pages by another Jedi. So while there's a lot of stuff different about this new/old Star Wars story, there's still plenty to recognize. The thing I wonder about the most is the rest of the story. There's a reason George Lucas abandoned this draft of the story and created the one we know and love. I've a feeling the finality of this story is going to be largely lacking, but nonetheless I will be reading.
|Posted on September 1, 2013 at 8:10 AM||comments (0)|
A Diamond in the Rough
All Star Western #23
by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Moritat
Finding a good comic out of the current stable of DC Comics is a hard thing to do week to week, but I'll be gol-darned if this comic wasn't a pleasant surprise (written with a cheesy southern drawl in mind)! I feel like an idiot for missing out on the previous 22 issues, because this issue #23 was one fine ass comic. I did read the Jonah Hex comic Palmiotti and Gray did under the previous DC hierarchy and while it was often times great, I gave this, basically, fresher version a pass, because I assumed it would be awful like everything else DC was publishing.
What we got in this issue, and I guess, has been going on for the past handful of issues is that Booster Gold travelled back in time and nabbed Jonah Hex, bringing him forward in time to our 21st century. The dichotomy of such an awkward old school bad ass like Jonah Hex caught in the webs and intrigue of our confusing modern world works like a charm. While to me, at first that seemed like an awful idea, but hell if Palmiotti and Gray haven't made it into something really interesting. The concept being what it is has given a chance to the writers to make some serious commentary on common occurences of our modern world as seen through the eyes of a man from long ago. To Jonah Hex, the polarizing nature of gay marriage, women's rights and gun control, show us just how far we've progressed and regressed at the same time.
The only problem I have with the concept is that they have Jonah Hex operating in Gotham City and Batman is slowly becoming heavily involved in the plot. I get why you would do something like this from a sales point of view and the idea of old school Jonah Hex meeting folks in pervert suits does seem like an interesting phenomenon, I would think Jonah Hex on his own without the involvement of the DC's favorite heroes and villians would be best. I could be wrong and I am willing to let Palmiotti and Gray show me how wrong I am, because these guys know how to write a comic book story.
The art by Moritat was a bit of a letdown though. I enjoyed his work on Elephantmen, but in this issue, he's obviously in a hurry and just throwing lines down on the paper either because he's behind deadline or just not into the story. I was expecting better from an artist whom I once regarded as very talented. Maybe he'll make up for it on a future issue, I'm not sure, but I will be picking up the next issue and probably the one after that if this series stays as good as this particular issue #23.
Bad Guys vs. Bad Guys
Thief of Thieves #16
By Andy Diggle, Shawn Martinbrough and others
I've been reading a lot of good things about this comic, but was wary of picking it up because the overall concept didn't excite me much, but this was a slow week collecting comics, so I weakened and grabbed this issue off the stands. And what do you know? Yeah, it's not my thing. The lead character of this comic is a criminal with a crew. A crew that likes to be bold and bad and steal what's thought to be unstealable. This issue, they want to steal a bunch of drugs right from under the noses of the biggest crime family in Italy.
I don't know, for me there's nothing to get invested in character wise. Maybe to see how these guys fail or succeed? Either way, they're not likeable characters. I guess for the same reason I'm not into the uber hip, uber popular show "Breaking Bad", I'm not into this comic. I can't root for bad guys being bad guys. Even if it is bold and brash and the writing and art is good. The writing on this by Andy Diggle is solid and I'm sure he has a lot of fans because of it. Well good for him. The art by Shawn Martinbrough is completely awesome. Many times I wish this was black and white, because Martinbrough is that kind of artist that is excellent with using shadows and heavy blacks in his work. At times the coloring was distracting and made the art worse for it's sake.
So while this was a well done comic, it's not my thing.
A Pretty and Ruthless Adventure
Amala's Blade #'s 1-4
By Steve Horton and Michael Dialynas
Dark Horse Comics
This was a mini that finished up a month or so ago and while it's never going to win awards for breakthrough comic or whatnot, it was a really gorgeous comic from a couple of gents I've never heard of. Michael Dialynas' artwork in particular is fucking gorgeous. From the sketchy, raw, flush and expressive line work, to the expert and moody coloring. This story really came to life with Michael Dialynas' work. If handled by someone less talented, I don't think Dark Horse would ever have published this.
The story involves a confused young woman who's become an assassin through some hard turns in life. But as the story plays out, she's aided by the ghosts of all the people whom she's killed for reasons unknown at first. The mystery as it turns out is that Amala is destined to stop all the war in the land and bring about peace. So the ghosts aid Amala in having this happen, even though it means she has to confront and kill her own mother.
So while the story is nothing entirely special, it was a fun read, especially with the gorgeous art from Michael Dialynas. Supposedly there will be more adventures of Amala soon enough, and as long as Michael Dialynas is on board with the art, I'll be picking it up.
|Posted on August 25, 2013 at 6:00 AM||comments (0)|
Topical, Pretty, Edgey, but it's Just a Thing
Brother Lono #3
By Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso
Spinning off from the 100 Bullets comic series which Azzarello and Risso (in the states at least) made their names, Brother Lono the comic stars one of the worst characters from that aforementioned comic series. I did not read all of 100 Bullets, but I read plenty to know that I did not like the Brother Lono character. He was an evil schmuck and I was surprised he did not come to an awful end when 100 Bullets finished. Well, maybe the reason he didn't come to an awful end is because Azzarello had this story in mind for him. I don't know, but supposedly according to this new solo comic series, Brother Lono is trying to change his ways. Unfortunately it's not going so well. Lono has established himself in a lonely town in Mexico and fashions himself the protector of a local church. Unfortunately local gang activity has found it's way to Brother Lono's footsteps and it's about to drag him face first into a bunch of hell. Like always.
So yeah, I have not read the previous two issues of this series, but I still got a good story in issue 3. I bet all six issues of this series read together will be even better. That gritty edge that Azzarello infuses into his 100 Bullets universe is very likeable. Plus Eduardo Risso's always consistently gorgeous mind-blowing artwork is a deep draw too. While I may not pick up the rest of this series in single issue format, I'm pretty damn sure I will end up reading the whole thing in collected form when that's available.
Self-Righteousness at a Snail's Pace
Thor #'s 1-11
By Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic
So the new Thor series started with an eleven issue story called "God Bomb". It was about a wicked alien dude who found a deadly weapon and out of twisted logic and spite went on a bend with the intention to kill all the gods in the universe. Thor's from 3 separate time periods ended up banding together to stop the evil dude and push home the point that Thor is a bad-ass.
That's the entire plot in a simple minded nutshell. It took eleven issues to tell that story. It really is basically a simple minded story. It's a rah-rah story too, effusing how cool Thor is, was and always will be. Which is fine and judging by these two threads which I am one of the few dissenters (Here and Here) many of the current Thor fans loved these past 11 issues. I did read all 11 issues, I did get hooked by the fact that I wanted to see how it ended. Now Esad Ribic's art is astounding, and that interminable wait through 11 issues was worth it for the gorgeous art alone. But to call this one of the great Thor stories of all time, is plain ridiculous.
I'm a Sucker For a Good Looking Cover
Doc Unknown #2
by Fabian Rangel jr., Ryan Cody and others
Beyond the appealing image on the cover we are given one of the most generic comic stories of all time. This story coulda been published in the 40's, the 70's, but nope it was published this week, this month of this year. The plot...a white dude gets lost in the Himalayan mountains, finds a super secret hidden temple, is taught the ways of the mystical monks inside, gains awesome knowledge, becomes a superhero named Doctor Unknown and battles Nazi's during WW2. Whoa! How original!
I bought this comic, I can't believe I did so. It was only a dollar, but still, what a waste of money, ugh. The art by Ryan Cody is solid, it's in that ever popular digital comic only psuedo Bruce Timm style, but beyond that, this comic does nothing for anyone, except masturbate the fantasies of it's creators. C'mon people, you gotta do better than this.
A Touch of Cool Smothered by a Whole Lot of Lame
The Mysterious Strangers #'s 1 & 2
By Chris Roberson, Mike Kowalchuk & others
I'm wondering if writer Chris Roberson is a huge fan of the old Doom Patrol and this is a heady be-bop homage to that old superhero group, or he's unaware and this just reads like a poor man's retread? This is an attractive comic with Mike Kowalchuk's art and Dan Jackson's colors, but as an entire book it's weak and the fact that this reads like such a Doom Patrol channeling, I can't give it a good review. The one thing I require most in comics is originality and this comic has very little. Plus the over the top Austin Powers-esque be-bop go-go settings are annoying. This is that type of comic that is trying so hard to be hip that instead it just ends up being dumb.
I mean the art, again is nice to look at. It's not great art by any fashion, but it's simplicity and plainess are attractive, especially with the appropriate simple coloring. So far Chris Roberson has scored a complete zero on my scorecard. I've now read 5 different series he's the captain on and not liked a single one. It's about time I stop reading his books, I think.
|Posted on August 21, 2013 at 10:15 AM||comments (0)|
There's a good debate going on over at the ever-awesome The Comics Beat blog about Avatar Press' use of "Torture" variants on their CROSSED comic series.
The covers in question are quite repulsive each in their own way. What say you?
In my opinion they're quite disgusting and I would never own one, but I understand that censoring this kind of shit is not the way to go either.
I mean if you own one or more of these, would you show them to anyone? Your mother, girlfriend/wife, kids or neighbors? No. Because outside your "boys" anyone near their right mind would think you're a fucking sicko and to be avoided. So this is something you keep to yourself and whip out every now and again to get a sick thrill. Sure you might never replicate the things depicted in these images, but there is a definite disconnect in your mind when it comes to your relationship with other people. This opinion comes from knowing some dudes who love this kind of thing. There's a little something wrong with them and deep down they probably know it too. I don't know them well enough to know what happened to them to have this sort of disconnect and in a way I don't want to know.
End of rant.
|Posted on August 19, 2013 at 10:05 AM||comments (0)|
Acclaimed Illustrator/Artist James Jean is now basically broke. After years of battling through a divorce, Jean is basically as poor as me. Check out this interview for full info.
James Jean came to prominence illustrating the covers for the comic "FABLES" from DC comics. The thought that a magnificent artist like this was drained financially is heartbreaking. Fortunately being as talented as he is, there's hope that his work will one day re-generate his finances.
|Posted on August 18, 2013 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
I'm Getting Tired of End of the World Scenario's
By Jonathan Hickman, Jim Cheung & others
Infinity: Against the Tide Infinite #1
By Jason LaTour, Agustun Alesso & Others
So the next great Marvel Comics event rolls out with two very interesting debuts. Infinity #1 is the flagship, while Against the Tide Infinite #1, starring the Silver Surfur is a digital only release. The main story is about Thanos attacking Earth yet again, while the Avengers go to space to battle The Builders who were introduced in Hickman's Avengers run. These Builders it seems are razing planet after planet mysteriously and eventually plan on coming to Earth. So the Avengers form a pre-emptive strike to stop the Builders before they come anywhere close to Earth. The main twist is that Thanos will attack Earth while it's greatest defenders are out in space far off planet.
Plus you've got some intrigue with the Inhumans which is only hinted at. Supposedly Black Bolt, king of the Inhumans holds deep in his head the secret thing which Thanos really wants. Whatever that thing is, Thanos is willing to once again battle all of Earth for it.
And possibly the most important thing to happen in this issue brings sad news to any fans who ever hoped for a return of Rom the Spaceknight. These evil Builder characters the Avengers want to fight, completely destroyed the remaining Spaceknights and their entire planet of Galador. We got to see a handful of familiar Spaceknights, even one Spaceknight who had the box shape torso reminiscent of Rom himself. Rom the Spaceknight was one of my first comics I ever bought, so while I realize now what a lame character he was, I still have a fondness for him and his Spaceknight continuity. So to see it all go down in flames in this issue made me kinda sad.
As for Against the Tide Infinite #1 starring the Silver Surfer, I knew I would pick it up as soon as I saw Jason LaTour's name attached to it. While he doesn't do any art on this issue, his story is solid. The Silver Surfer battles these evil Builder robots on a Skrull outpost planet and does some serious damage. There wasn't much else to the story, but I will pick up the next to see what happens.
So all in all this was a good beginning to yet another major Marvel crossover event. While I'm sure it's gonna get stupid soon enough, I liked how it began and can see myself picking up the next few issues for the hell of it.
What is the Target Audience for This?
The Reason For Dragons
By Chris Northrop & Jeff Stokely
This is one of those very pretty, but very shallow stories. Jeff Stokely's art is a mash-up of Mark Crilley and Sean Murphy in my opinion. He's good, very good and this is a good looking book, but the story is nothing. I mean it tries to be deep with a kid and his step-father angle, but it's so inconsequential to the story it blows right over.
The plot is silly also. A boy meets a crazy guy who thinks he's a real knight after some brain trauma. They end up battling a real weird ass dragon who comes from some other realm. No explanation on how or why that happens, it just does. When the crazy knight guy and little kid destroy the dragon it opens a portal into a dimension from medieval times. The knight passes through and end of story.
I mean if this was squarely aimed at the 5-8 year old crowd, I can kinda understand. But this is an Archaia Comics, handsomely bound graphic novel. Maybe it's aimed at teens...maybe? I don't know, nonetheless, beyond the pretty art, it did nothing for me. Maybe because I'm a jaded near 40 year old man who's read way too many comics?
A Long Journey Inside Creativity
The Long Journey
This has been making the rounds of late, but I took my time getting to it as the previews didn't catch my interest in any particular way. But it's a free webcomic of the down scroll variety, which in my mind is the best way to read a webcomic, and I knew I was going to read it eventually since it's been recommended and hyped so highly all over the internet.
And well, it's not bad. I liked it. Not as much as many out there who hyped it up. It's definitely creative and a fun read. It's a silly rambling state of conscious type of comic where literally the artist is falling through a myriad of realms, worlds and states of unconscious. It's illustrated in that currently trendy retro-pixelated style made popular by games like Minecraft, which is fun. There's no deep plot or moral to the story, it's more rather whatever popped into the artists head at the time of creation. So while it starts with Nazi's living below the Earth, we end up visiting a variety of realms with mermaids, aliens, dinosaurs, glowing mushrooms and even the Devil himself.
I've seen other work by Boulet which I've liked much more, but I have to give it up to him on this webcomic idea. It's heads and above more creative than a vast majority of other webcomics. I would recommend this comic for sure, especially on a lazy day when you have a few minutes to waste sitting in front of a computer.
|Posted on August 13, 2013 at 12:10 AM||comments (0)|
The Original script for Star Wars by George Lucas is being turned into a comic book. At first glance it looks pretty good. It's decidedly different from the Star Wars we all know and love/hate.