(Click title to go directly to the review)
CIVIL WAR #2
FEAR AGENT #1-5
SQUADRON SUPREME # 4
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA #0
MARVEL WESTERNS: THE TWO-GUN KID #1
Big Eyes for the Cape Guy presents BOOGIEPOP DOESN'T LAUGH V.1
Big Eyes for the Cape Guy presents ANNE FREAKS V.2
Indie Jones presents FRAGILE PROPHET
Indie Jones presents IN MY LIFETIME #1
Indie Jones presents BRODIE’S LAW #7
Indie Jones presents X ISLE #1
CIVIL WAR # 2
Written by: Mark Millar
Let's get the obvious out of the way: it looks beautiful...with what they're doing, they're doing a good job. I've often said that Mark Millar is one of the best writers in comics when he tries...but a lot of the time he doesn't seem to be trying. Here, he's trying.
Art by :Steve McNiven
Published by Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Buzz Maverik
And the other obvious thing: if this is news to you, then you probably won't care anyway so screw the spoiler warning: this is the issue where Spidey unmasks himself on television.
What's good about it: it's tight, like a good TV drama. I know Millar and Co. would want me to say feature film, but they aren't giving me the rush and impact that a good movie does.
Mr. Millar writes excellent dialogue here. Everyone is perfectly in the moment, focused, and true to his vision of them. Mr. McNiven provides us with some great sets and action (the super-paddy wagon scene reminded me of the superlative Russian film NIGHT WATCH).
On to the bad...Have Mark Millar and his bosses ever read any Marvel comics? Has the fact that "creator" has become the term for people who do what they do gone to their heads and convinced them they've actually originated any of these characters? This isn't a movie, guys. We're not walking in here for the first time, or seeing it in another medium. We know these characters. We've read their stories, good and bad.
Oh, the long time fan doesn't want change?
Wrong. We want change. We want to see the change happen. But major steps have been left out because everyone telling the stories is pretending they're doing movies (although it comes out like TV). And a few foreshadowing issues aren't enough. Reed Richards, for example, was not created by Grant Morrison in FANTASTIC FOUR 1-2-3-4, even though it was a great book and an interesting point of view. Suddenly, the character is reestablished as an almost autistic-savant. But Morrison wrote a good series portraying Richards this way and it’s now the default portrayal. How'd he get like that? He was never like that before.
We're supposed to accept a realistic reaction to a tragedy, but the characters behave like all-new people, which is hardly realistic at all. Tony Stark talking about the kids, the amateurs and the sociopaths getting weeded out? How exactly do you become a professional superhero? Is a sociopath a worse superhero than a drunk? Or has it been decided that Stark was no longer ever a drunk?
Spider-Man. Haven't read the ASM issue leading up to the unmasking decision, but I doubt like hell that it contained anything that didn't read like a contrived justification for something made inevitable by an editorial mandate. Cool your jets, I probably will read it but the LCS was sold out and, no, Hannibal, I won't give you my home address so you can send it to me.
The panel showing Aunt May and Mary Jane watching the unmasking on TV was in many ways the most troubling. Pete has a reckless streak, but I could not buy people who love him wanting this for him. It lacks credibility, and that's the key. We know this is fantasy. It's fiction. It's story telling (in some cases it's what passes for storytelling, anyway). But what's the key to good fantasy? It's more than just being published in comic book form and having the pretentious "a Marvel Comics event in seven parts" tagged on it. It's gotta be credible. I've gotta buy it. I could buy it if these were new characters and this was another universe, but Mr. Quesada, Mr. Millar, whomever have inherited these characters…just because they don't have an understanding of them doesn't mean we don't. (And remember, when they start bitching about long time fans or old fans, these guys have been doing this a long time. They are the old guard themselves now and want to keep doing what they've been doing for the last several years. Ya really want new and edgy? Get somebody new to do it!).
Dig this. Anybody can do the Bizzaro plotting. "We're taking the SIMPSONS in a whole new direction and doing what you don't expect!" Well, we all know what we don't expect. A smart Homer, an honor student Bart, a slutty Lisa, a party animal Flanders, a nice Burns, a Patty & Selma who love Homer, whatever. See, they did a sober Barney because they showed Barney getting sober.
Do it with any long running characters. It's the easiest thing in the world. Dagwood and Blondie get divorced. Everybody in DOONESBURY votes Republican. The fat dude on THE KING OF QUEENS becomes a model husband. Charlie Sheen hates hookers. Batman gets hit on the head and decides that dressing up like a rodent is kind of dumb after all.
FEAR AGENT #1-5
Writer: Rick Remender
I came for the Tony Moore art, I stayed for the kick ass storytelling.
Penciler(s): Tony Moore & Jerome Opena
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee
Rick Remender's FEAR AGENT is a rare treat in comics these days. With each of these issues before me Remender has done an amazing job of keeping a high level of good old-fashioned science fiction adventure, created an interesting and genuinely badass lead character, and come up with all sorts of cool and unusual space beings, alien races, and dangerous environments to place him in. FEAR AGENT has been a wild ride since its inception, and I'm here to give you the rundown on what you've missed so far.
Heath Huston is a man with a tortured past and a diminished will to live. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't still push on and kick some alien ass while doing so. The first issue of FEAR AGENT gives us an action packed introduction into Heath's life as he's in a fight for his life against a pack of primitive humanoids on a botched mission for some stolen technology. If anything, this is more a showcase for Tony Moore's highly dynamic and detailed pencils, but it also gives us a quick scope of Heath's mindset: he's not exactly a genius, but he's quick on his feet and knows how to survive. From there things just get worse as Heath is taken on an adventure that pushes him to his physical and mental limits as he finds himself at conflict with giant tentacled monsters, sentient brains in robot shells, and giant jellyfish like creatures. There's some heartbreak and hope as Heath is put in direct conflict with the past horrors of his life that made him who he is, befriends a sexy space-scientist (is there any other kind?) named Mara, and there's even some time travel too. All the elements you know and love about science fiction and fantasy are present, and are unraveled at a breakneck pace with an uncanny sense of humor.
And like I mentioned at the beginning the art is astounding. Tony Moore has definitely been making a name for himself recently what with his bit of a take off in being the kick off artist on THE WALKING DEAD, and then taking on the art chores of the first three and a half issues of this title, as well as currently penciling the new Vertigo series THE EXTERMINATORS. His art here is very crisp, with some great renderings of all these alien species, and a great design for our protagonist as well. The action is top notch and moves with great pacing and detail. And while it's a shame he's no longer with the book, current penciler Jerome Opena has been doing a great job carrying the torch by keeping all the aforementioned standards of the book but with his own unique look added to the mix.
FEAR AGENT is not just great science fiction in a form of media that has seemed to have lost touch with the concept of it, but it's also just fun comics. Tons of action and genuine moments of utter badassery, the occasional flare for the dramatic, and a nice use of black humor. This is definitely a highly underappreciated comic book. The first four issues will be available in trade in the very near future (this week if I'm not mistaken) and it’s worth a buy even if it's just the equivalent of buying the issues at regular price. FEAR AGENT is a must for anyone who ever found themselves wishing Han Solo had his own movie series.
SQUADRON SUPREME # 4
Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
Ok, so, yeah, is it alright for me to say I’m bored with this title yet?
Pencilled by: Gary Frank
Published by: Marvel Comics
Because I am. I’m bored. Bored, bored, bored, BORED!
Hear me out (or read me out as the case may be). I’ve read one SUPREME POWER MAX Marvel series, a god awful DOCTOR SPECTRUM mini-series, and now four issues of this more “mainstream-ized” SQUADRON SUPREME series and what am I getting? Well, pretty much nothin’.
OK, ok, I’d be lying if I’d say that there’s nothing really good to tout with this series. I mean Straczynski’s great with dialogue and character development but there is NOTHING HAPPENING IN THIS BOOK! I mean, really, this is a superhero book isn’t it? For the past four issues we’ve had little bits of character sprinkled here and there and an anti-climactic invasion of a foreign country but not much else. Where is the action? Where is all the asswhuppin’? Where are all the giant, widescreen, jaw dropping superheroic scenes?
There aren’t any?
Well, it sure seems like there ought to be by now, doesn’t it? I mean for a long time now this comic (if you include the SUPREME POWER series) has been stuck on setting up characters left and right but nothing really seems to be moving forward. I say enough already! Seriously, I don’t need this book to become the comic book equivalent of a LOST flashback. Can we get to the good stuff that the book’s been hinting at for so long?
Despite Straczynski’s complete misunderstanding of Spider-Man as a character, I still think he’s an excellent writer. MIDNIGHT NATION is one of my favorite comic book stories ever. But this book is becoming seriously tedious. And it’s not because all of the naughty parts have been cut out since this series has been removed from the MAX line. C’mon! It’s time to get things moving! Stop dragging this series out. I know that setting up all the pieces takes time but this is getting ridiculous! It’s time for SUPREME POWER to become the kickass comic everyone’s expecting it to be!
Look, I appreciate some realism in my superhero stories but at this point the book really needs to step into the fantastic. It needs to give me something really incredible to sink my teeth into or else it’s just in danger of becoming another talking head superhero book with little to no “oomph” to it. I appreciate some subtlety to be sure but sometimes subtlety can be a detriment if it’s dragged out for too long. Then it just becomes tedium and that’s what’s starting to happen to SQUADRON SUPREME.
I liked this book when it was SUPREME POWER but it was testing my patience even then. I actually feel like the momentum of the whole book was picking up toward the end of the POWER run and then screeched to a complete halt with this relaunch. It almost seems to me like maybe Straczynski had a set direction he wanted this book to go in but when the book was re-imagined for a general audience maybe some of that planning had to be completely re-thought. So now, with starting again at another first issue maybe all the steam that had been built up in its previous run has just fizzled away.
Or maybe that’s not it at all. Maybe it’s just the simple fact that the story’s too drawn out to begin with. I mean, after all, the 1985 SQUADRON SUPREME miniseries had the main characters taking over the world and fighting each other in a super-powered civil war all within the span of twelve issues. And that series was entertaining as all get out. How many issues does the current incarnation of the Squadron have behind it including all of the mini-series? Almost thirty? Maybe it’s just that J. Michael Straczynski needs to start taking comic book writing lessons from Mark Gruenwald, the writer of that excellent yet long-gone miniseries. I’m almost positive he’d learn something if he did at this point.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA #0
Writer: Greg Pak
Sci-Fi TV is a gateway drug. You do a little innocent television watching and get hooked on a series. Then they make some novels based on the characters, action figures and vehicles, a spin-off series, a collectable card game, a role-playing game, viral websites and, of course, comic books. More often than not, these tertiary items don't turn out so well. They aren't considered canon, they don't follow the storyline, they add complicated details that you just know aren't going to work out in the long run. They have a distinct odor of fanfic.
Artist: Nigel Raynor
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Enter BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: the comic book.
As everyone reading this review already knows, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (aka BSG), is a complete revision / rewrite / redo of the similarly-named Star Wars-bandwagon-jumping sci-fi series of late 1970's. While the original series can cure insomnia, the new BSG has incredible visuals, compelling storylines, and excellent acting, all done on a Sci-Fi Channel budget. The show has garnered a huge following of devoted fans, probably calling themselves by some ridiculous name akin to "Browncoats" or "Trekkers" or "Trekkies" or "Star Wars Fans". "Frakkers?" Whatever they're called, you can count me among them. I'm a fellow Frakker (or is it "Frakhole"?), and that's the primary reason why I picked up BATTLESTAR GALACTICA #0.
The other reason is because it only cost $.25 for the issue. So I bought the alternate cover too. With disposable income being sucked up by wars and crisis and later years, Dynamite Entertainment made a smart move by releasing a 13-page #0 issue for a quarter. It's an even better move because it's one damn fine issue.
Frakholes rejoice because Greg Pak, currently handling the non-Civil War "Planet Hulk" saga for Marvel, has got the BSG atmosphere well in hand. Pak is channeling the TV series into comic form, from President Roslyn's cat-and-mouse relationship game with Adama, to the nuances of the bridge crew, everything feels familiar. The story could have been pulled straight from an unaired episode. It's also an easy read for new readers, but this book is definitely designed for the television audience.
According to this interview at Newsarama , Universal has approved Pak's entire storyline, which takes place sometime in season two after Kobol and before Pegasus. Occasionally a lot of time passes between BSG episodes. Relationships are built and destroyed in the off-screen downtime. This story deals with a couple of throwaway threads from the series, interesting avenues that, after last seasons finale, can no longer be explored without flashbacks. I won't spoil the ending, but an introduction is made that cannot possibly establish a permanent hold without causing a serious divergence form the source material. Philosophically-speaking, if the story is canon, but has no ramifications in the overall tale, is it worth reading? There are plenty of BSG episodes in that vein, and I've watched them all. This is no different, but with this cliffhanger Pak has painted himself into an interesting corner and he's made it intriguing enough that I'm going to stick around to see how he gets out.
That's not to say the issue isn't without it's oddities. Somehow in the rapid flee from civilization, Colonial One acquired a secret historical research center run by the Men in Black, and Starbuck has the amazing ability to single-handedly take down multiple Cylon centurions armed with only her sidearm. Of course, this latter discrepancy could be attributed to a possible Cylon setup. These issues aside, I'll be there for the rest of the tale.
I value story over art, so I'll summarize by saying that everything looks great here. All of the characters are instantly recognizable and distinctly displayed. Adama is drawn with every single crack in Edward James Olmos' face. There's nothing not to like about the art.
Any fellow Frakhole should plunk down their hard-earned two bits for this issue, and it's safe for new readers too. You might just get hooked like I did. If nothing else, go pick up a stack of them ($.25 each) and pass them out come Halloween. The neighborhood kids will appreciate it.
MARVEL WESTERNS: THE TWO-GUN KID #1
Writers: Dan "The Top-Hat Kid" Slott, Keith "Cowpoke" Giffen, Robert Loren "Buffalo Chips" Fleming & Stan "The Lipshitz Kid" Lee
Yee-haw! This here pamphlet tickled this old cowpoke. Goldarn! I was surprised last week when I rode into town from a hard day's work herdin' dogies. Must'a been too busy ta hear 'bout this title afore last Wednesday. So, I was jest taken by surprise when ah seen muh fav'rite masked gunslinger, the Two-Gun Kid, on the shelves of muh local pamphlet store.
Artists: Eduardo "Double-Barrel" Barreto, Mike "Hornswoggle" Allred, & Jack "King o' the Cowboys" Kirby
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Kid Challenger: Outlaw
Writ by "The Top-Hat Kid" and drawed by ol' "Double-Barrel" hisself, I was thrilled by a story 'bout Two-Gun back in Tombstone right around our great Union's centennial celebration. Biggest surprise was gittin' ta see the Lone Ranger and Tonto in a Marvel pamphlet. Well, Top-Hat calls 'em "Kid Clayton" and "Nantan" but he ain't foolin' nobody. Thet baby-blue shirt and silver bullets is a dead giveaway.
Shee-oot! Sumtimes I'm as ign'rant as a duck in a goose fact'ry though. I didn't even realize Two-Gun'd made it back to the future and I shore as hellzapoppin' didn't realize Miss Jenny Walters had done gone and got married to the son of that ol' sumbitch J. Jonah Jameson. But thet's alright, cuz Top-Hat got me up ta speed immed'jitly and let me know whut was goin' on here. See, thet Jameson boy has a bit of a problem whenever thet moon gets full, what with turnin' into a wolf and all. Two-Gun's hankerin' to take thet wolf-boy down 'cause he's had experience with them shape-shifters afore. And thet's where them silver bullets come in. Betch y'all never did know that's why the Ranger carried them silver bullets. Read this pamphlet if'n y'all wanna know. I'm tellin' ya one thing. This here Two-Gun story ends with such a shockin' cliffhanger that I'ma gonna have to finally start buying thet SHE-HULK pamphlet to find out what happens next. Dang, but Top-Hat knows how to hook me in with his writin'. Real nice to see "Double-Barrel" doin' the drawring. He wuz jest born to draw westerns if'n ya ask me.
But that ain't all thet's in this pamphlet. They's also got a short li'l story called "Tall Tale" about the biggest li'l midgit gunslinger you've ever seen. Hugo's a thievin' cowboy who usedtacould pass fer a ventriliquist dummy…and did. You know that with "Cowpoke" and "Buffalo Chips" writin' that it's gotta be twisted. Reads more like it might'a been a light-hearted contribution to a TALES FROM THE CRYPT or sumthin. But it works jest fine here too. "Hornswoggle" gives the drawrings a real ol' fashioned look thet suits this story perfectly.
Finally, Marvel done gone and threw in a blast from the past with a classic Rawhide Kid adventure. Hoo-boy! Nice to see li'l Rawhide in his prime afore he up and decided he preferred slappin' leather with the sissy-boys. This here story pits Rawhide and his rolled-up white hat aginst an evil Indian totem pole come ta life. Ah kept expectin' some sorta "Scooby Doo" endin' out of this thing, but I wuz thinkin' too post-mahdrin or somethin'. Nope. Jest an evil walkin' totem pole all done without irony or campiness. Shore may've been a goofy-as-all-get-out story, but it's still a lotta fun and brought back memories of the days when I wuz a 10 year-old fan of my fav'rite Marvel western outlaws. Namely: Two-Gun Kid, Kid Colt: Outlaw, and The Rawhide Kid. Them Marvel pamphlets wuz quite dif'rent from the DC pamplets. Cain't quite put mah finger on exactly why, but I hankered more for the Marvel outlaws than the others.
Anyhoo. This cowboy enjoyed the hell outta this pamphlet and…JUMPIN' JEHOSAPHET! It turns out that this summer's gonna see a whole mess a' these MIGHTY MARVEL WESTERN comics. I'm gonna be ridin' inta town ev'ry week to pick up the next one. This here's one sales gimmick ah can git behind and support. Now what in Sam Hill are ya waitin' fer?!?! Git out there and buy this pamphlet ya ornery cusses!!!
BOOGIEPOP DOESN'T LAUGH V.1
Writer: Kouhei Kadono
"Do you people think to do nothing when you see a fellow human crying?"
Artist: Kouji Ogata
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Reviewer: Dan Grendell
I'm a newcomer to the BOOGIEPOP world. I know there is an anime series that was quite popular, but I've never seen it. BOOGIEPOP DOESN'T LAUGH is touted as the prelude to that anime, however, so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal. So what if I don't know anything about BOOGIEPOP? This should fill in the blanks, right? Well, yes and no. Turns out this is essentially a manga remake of the very first BOOGIEPOP novel, BOOGIEPOP AND OTHERS, that kicked off the whole franchise, and I'm wondering if it lost a little something in the translation from novel to manga. That novel was written through the eyes of five different students at a school, which makes for a disjointed read I'm sure but can be dealt with pretty smoothly in prose. In manga form, it's a bit tougher to do, and it makes for a somewhat confusing read.
In effect, what comes out of this first volume of a two-volume series is two short stories and some interstitial material that just seems to make no sense. The first story, about a student whose girlfriend starts standing him up because she's starting to express another personality called the Boogiepop due to some strange danger going on, stands alone just fine and is actually fairly touching. The second tale, a muddled bit about the dangerous girl in school tracking down users of a mysterious drug and beating them up until they agree to stop taking it, is only tangentially tied to the first story, and in that one Boogiepop is believed to be some ghostly murderer killing girls who are going missing from the school. The idea that nobody really knows anything about Boogiepop or what is happening at the school comes across okay, but in a disjointed and incoherent manner that leaves me wondering what the point of the second story is. And, of course, the bits in between the stories deal with a schoolgirl having sex with dead women, so god only knows what the hell that's about. Showing the killer, maybe? No idea.
Ogata makes a valiant attempt to make all of this confusion more readable by giving it a bunch of very pretty pictures (sample pages). His portrayal of Boogiepop especially caught my eye - it was obvious that it was in fact the student's girlfriend dressed up, because the face was the same, but very minor changes to her expressions and such succeeded admirably in giving Boogiepop a completely different character, even a male persona. It takes skill to know how to make the little changes, and Ogata has it.
This is a great try to translate what sounds like an interesting novel into a manga - but either it wasn't done well, or the creators assumed that readers would already know the BOOGIEPOP story when they read it. I got one good story and a bit of confusion from it.
ANNE FREAKS V.2
Creator: Yua Kotegawa
"The giant waves that swallow me up... I've always cursed them."
Reviewer: Dan Grendell
Damn, this manga is good. It's like a crazy drama where the heroes are murdering teenagers out to get revenge and maybe learn how to love again. There's plenty of action - can't have murdering teenagers without a killing spree, mostly from Anna - but the heart of the story is the relationships between the characters and the mysteries of their pasts (and futures - you never know what these kids will do next). We're just two volumes in and already my heart is breaking for Anna, Yuri and Mitsuba. All three have clearly had their lives torn apart by the actions of the terrorist Kakusei Group, and in a brilliant move, Kotegawa introduces a character with that same viewpoint in this volume - Sergeant Shono, who cares more about the kids than about bringing the Kakusei down.
More new characters enter here, all sure to be vital. Inspector Nishikawa, of the Public Safety Commission, willing to use the kids against Kakusei so long as the killing is kept to a minimum. Moe, Anna's doctor friend with his own haunting past and ties to Kakusei, on the run from the yakuza after Anna's murderous "help” gets him in deep trouble. Reverend Kunita, another ex-Kakusei who wants to help the kids but wants revenge as well. With this many new people added to the mix, secrets are revealed, the past starts to come to light, and Yuri and Mitsuba start to wonder if maybe Anna's killing ways aren't the best methods. Does this mean the dream team is splitting up?
Kotegawa is equally proficient at showing a touching smile on Anna's face and a cold-blooded grin as she knifes some poor schmoe. That's what makes her so damn disturbing, and so intriguing. It takes careful attention to detail to be sure that that smile never reaches her eyes except when she is at her most vulnerable, with Yuri, but Kotegawa does it and it makes the character seem so much more real and damaged. Anna's eyes are the key to her character, and they reveal more about her than her facial expressions or actions, even subconsciously. Commendations to Kotegawa for a spectacular job on all of the art, but especially on that one facet of it.
If you aren't reading ANNE FREAKS, you should be. If you are, you deserve a cookie.
Writer: Jeff Davidson
Books like FRAGILE PROPHET are the reason why I restarted up this Indie Jones column here at AICN Comics. Amidst the clutter of crossovers and hype you may miss a book that, although it may not be in the mainstream, turns out to be something truly special. Just by reading the introduction to this Original Graphic Novel, I knew I was in for something original and unique. Writer Jeff Davidson goes into detail about the inspiration for this series in a way that sucks you into this world by providing factual instances where the type of phenomenon that occurs in this book has happened in the past. After reading the intro I felt as if I was either being set up for the biggest letdown ever or in store for one of the coolest comic book reading experiences I’ve had all year.
Artist: Stephen R. Buell
Publisher: Lost in the Dark Press
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Turns out, it was the latter.
FRAGILE PROPHET is the story of a young child (Jake) who was born with a mental disability called Fragile-X Syndrome and his brother (Esau) who has dedicated his life to taking care of him. This disability can be likened to autism, where the child lives in a world of his own, only occasionally interacting with the real world. Jake is prone to muttering nonsensities, or that’s what Esau believes until one fateful day in a department store where Jake gets lost and his gibberish turns out to be predictions of the future. The story ping-pongs around trying to find when this phenomenon began. Locales change from a circus sideshow where Jake was the main act to a TV talk show where Jake’s abilities are put into question. Broken into three acts, this story builds in intensity as Jake prophesizes his own death. Esau then dedicates his whole life to making sure this prophesy does not come true. What transpires is both emotionally heartwarming and heart wrenching at the same time.
And that’s what made this such a great read. There really is a lot of heart that went into this book. The scenes where Jake interacts with his brother and the rest of the world aren’t done as cutesy filler. These scenes function to develop emotional depth, so you don’t want anything bad to happen to any of these characters. These scenes help flesh out the loss, the happiness, the concern, and the dedication that Esau feels towards his brother. Writer Jeff Davidson does this in a way that is not tacked on or preachy. On top of that, he handles a truly trippy dream sequence and a completely David Lynchian climax with ease. There is some truly trippy shit going on towards the end of this story. Davidson incorporates the more sensitive scenes in with these outrageous happenings very well to make a truly original reading experience.
Part Manga, part AEON FLUX-ish, part cartoony. That’s the only way I can describe Stephen R. Buell’s art. And that would be doing it a disservice. I love the way Buell makes his faces as these vast clear tablets where smaller facial features float around to create truly expressionistic faces. Making features like the eyes smaller, the artist is allowed more to work with by way of positioning them to embrace specific emotions. This being a very emotional tale, Buell’s artwork compliments the story nicely. Too often, though, an artist is able to capture the subtle nuances of facial expression, but unable to use that same understanding to their depictions of the human form. That’s not a problem here as Buell seems to have a confident grasp of all of the imagery around him. When the story goes into the realm of the surreal, Buell skillfully uses imagery to heighten the experience.
I can’t recommend FRAGILE PROPHET enough. I plan on sending my copy to some of my fellow @$$holes to enjoy. It truly is one of those special finds that pops out of nowhere and ends up staying with you for a long time. The story is resonant and the art is just as good. Do yourself a favor and give this one a look see. It is unlike any book I’ve read this year and will definitely be one I will be thinking about for a long time. Look for it in August. You won’t be disappointed.
IN MY LIFTIME #1
Writer/Artist: Tony Fleecs
"Slice of life" comics are very hit or miss with me. The main thing about them is that for the most part I could give a damn what is going on in my own damn life, let alone what some guy with too much time on his hands and an artists' desk in his basement has going on in his. So it takes a bit to grab me when I do happen to sit down and read one. There just has to be a certain level of entertainment or a touch of just the right emotion to draw me in and make me care about what the guy whose name is on the book has gone through that was so relevant that they went through the effort to produce it. Even the
non-autobiographical stuff has to hit me on a certain level of sympathy, some sort of "Yea, I've been there" kind of moment or two to make me at least identify with what the writer is trying to say. Craig Thompson's BLANKETS made me a weepy little bitch over incidents of lost love and childhood innocence. Stuff like BOX OFFICE POISON or TRICKED by Alex Robinson created characters that I felt like I've known for years and remember getting into whatever kind of nonsense with back home, or am getting into right now.
Publisher: Silent Devil Inc.
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee
So what did IN MY LIFETIME do that made me stand up and pay attention?
It made me laugh my balls off for a start.
There's just and inherent level of sympathetic humor and awkwardness to the quick tales told within this little black and white binding. From a fear-inducing trip to the doctor for a cancer screening, to some atypical workplace nonsense, to a recital of a comic shop geek legend (aka, the girl who buys comics) there's a lot of same kinds of doubt, loathing, and genuine light-heartedness we experience daily. Everything is laid out for us in nice little snippets. Just quick cuts to entertain and enlighten. It's that matter-of-factness combined with the nice portrayals of genuine emotion of these little daily activities that make the book so energetic. There's no drawing out of the dramatic moments to make the book angsty, no over-exaggeration in the humor to make the jokes over-the-top funny, just "watercooler hangout" funny. It's just 30+ pages of entertaining material.
IN MY LIFETIME was not just a pleasant surprise, but it's also one of the more enjoyable experiences I've had in my comic book reading so far this year. If you're a fan of CLERKS-like humor and diatribes, then this book is for you. Then again, if you just like plain old fun comics that give you a little bit of insight on your own life, then this should be a required purchase.
BRODIE'S LAW #7
Writers: David Bircham and Daley Osiyemi
When body-switching goes wrong...
Artist: David Bircham
Reviewer: Dan Grendell
BRODIE'S LAW has a fairly interesting premise. The protagonist, Jack Brodie, is a thief who steals a secret formula that allows you to take on the DNA, appearance, and persona of people you touch. When his wife is killed and his son kidnapped, he uses it (with the help of researcher Tomokai Yoshida) to rescue his son. Unfortunately, it seems that spending too long in another person's form will overwhelm your mind with theirs, and so Jack has begun believing he's a man named Harry Wade, and is under police protection in a hospital after delivering his son to safety. Enter Tomokai, intent on rescuing him and fixing his mind before it's too late. Unfortunately, nobody told Tomokai's gangster family that she is helping Jack willingly, and when they find her, they aren't going to wait for explanations.
Considering that I jumped into a fairly complicated plot this issue, it was pretty easy to pick up on what was happening. A big part of that is due to the unusually helpful "what has gone before"-type blurb on the inside cover, but the writing and interweaving of the story elements was such that jumping right in was fairly painless, something I honestly didn't expect. Kudos to Bircham and Osiyemi for that. The action of the book also kept my interest all the way through quite well, keeping me wondering if Jack was in fact going to make it to wherever Tomokai was taking him or if it was all going to go to hell. I never got the feeling that it was a given that Jack would be cured, and I'm still not sure. That's a mark of good suspense.
Bircham's art is an interesting style for this kind of book, as he uses very fat lines and the colors are very bold and often overstated. The end result is artwork that reaches off the page and grabs at your eyes, and though that works in some instances, in others different panels fight each other for attention on the page. The layouts end up just looking over-busy on a lot of pages, though when Bircham gives himself 3/4 page panels or splash pages, the impact is intense.
BRODIE'S LAW is a smart book with a different premise, and I'll be curious to see where it goes. I'll be keeping an eye on it.
X ISLE #1
A really promising first issue. Filled with mystery and drama. A boatload of scientists are investigating the appearance of a new form of marine life that washed up on a crowded beach when they boat straight into an electrical storm. Soon they find themselves stranded on an island like no other they’ve seen before. Sounds familiar, I know, but this issue is paced very well and holds enough mystery to make me come back for a second helping. This book is moody and the slow build to the island is definitely effective. The art is phenomenal as well. Kind of a mixture of Adam Pollina and Charlie Adlard if you can conceptualize that, with very simplistic lines creating vertically angular people. Sure, one could write this off as a GILLIGAN’S LOST IN JURASSIC PARK, but it would be doing a great disservice to this book. It’s slickly put together and the story is filled with promise. And I can’t say enough about the art, especially the breathtaking panels of the lightning storm which is like nothing I’ve seen in a comic book. And there’s something to be said about the inclusion of toothy lamprey-like monsters writhing towards our survivors on the beach. Really creepy. - Ambush Bug
Writers: Andrew Cosby & Michael A. Nelson
Art: Greg Scott
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Remember, if you have an Indie book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.