(Click title to go directly to the review)
MARVEL PREMIERE CLASSIC: KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1
HEROES FOR HIRE #1
52 - WEEK SIXTEEN
WONDER WOMAN #2
Indie Jones presents THE SADHU #1-2
Indie Jones presents…
MARVEL PREMIERE CLASSIC: KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT
Writer: J. M. DeMatteis
"Hear the bellow of the elephant; the roar of the lion -- the triumph of Kraven."
Artists: Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod
Reviewer: Dan Grendell
J. M. DeMatteis is a name that is familiar to many comics readers - the guy's been around for around thirty years - but most seem to know him for his team up with Keith Giffen on the humorous JUSTICE LEAGUE titles and spin-offs. He's just as talented a writer of deeper stuff, though, as evidenced by work like MOONSHADOW, ABADAZAD, his SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN run from the early 90s, and my favorite piece of his, KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT.
More of a Kraven story than a Spidey story, though Spidey does play a major role, KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT does what I thought was impossible and makes Kraven, one of Spider-Man's lamest villains, cool as hell. It's an act Gail Simone would follow later with Catman and the Calculator and Geoff Johns, too, with Captain Cold. DeMatteis does this by giving you insight into why Kraven does what he does, what would make a man put on a lion-head vest with gas-dispensing nipples and try to catch the deadliest beasts in the world. KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT reminds me of BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM in some ways - it's a psychological look at a hero and a villain, what makes them who they are, how they are the same and how they differ.
The story is an interesting one. Kraven wants to end his career, but he knows that you gotta go out when you’re at the top of your game. To prove that he is, he must defeat the only foe that has ever escaped him - Spider-Man. And not just defeat him, but prove to himself that he is completely superior. And he does. I'm not going to give away any of the various plot points here, but I will say that Kraven wins, and how and why he does it is fascinating reading. Much more than his actions, what goes through Kraven's mind is the centerpiece of the story and it's some very interesting stuff. Peter's mind gets a nice look-see too, and his thoughts are just as interesting.
Mike Zeck's art, with Bob McLeod's inks, looks fantastic throughout the story, and really gets across the tragedies and triumphs of the tale well. Zeck and DeMatteis had collaborated before on a run of CAPTAIN AMERICA, and their ability to work well together shows. Zeck's portrayal of Vermin is both creepy and sad, making you feel sorry for the little cannibal, and panels like Spidey emerging from the ground and Kraven's end are iconic. Really, just brilliant work.
A classic story that no Spidey fan should miss, this new hardcover release is only twenty bucks for a nice package that will hold up well. Go grab it - you won't regret it.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1
Writer: Brad Meltzer
Well, it’s 2006. Time for our once-a-decade-new-first-issue of a JUSTICE
Artist: Ed Benes
Inker: Sandra Hope
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Prof. Challenger
The last time around, we were treated to a grand, almost mythical, new Justice League as a metaphorical pantheon of gods. Character development took a backseat to plot complications and action. This time around, character development takes the forefront.
Fellow reviewer Baytor recently criticized this first issue of the latest incarnation of the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA for its overemphasis on character development and lack of action. Usually, I’d agree with that assessment in that I believe that super-hero comics began with ACTION COMICS and “action” should usually be an integral element to the genre. Imagine a HARDY BOYS novel without a mystery or an Agatha Christie mystery without a murder.
However, the thing is that I had not noticed the lack of action in JLA #1 until Baytor brought it to my attention. Usually, that sort of thing jumps up and kicks me in the face because, bottom-line, I get bored when muscular guys and gals in tights, masks, and capes sit around talking to each other. Conflict can substitute for action. Glib panel after glib panel of oh-so-clever dialogue just dulls the senses. Writer Brad Meltzer does not disguise a nominal writing talent behind a gift for long-winded dialogue. He understands that conflict drives a story and he commits to it in this comic wholeheartedly. Meltzer performed a little psychic surgery on these characters and pulled a fast one on me, front-loading this comic with character work filled with tons of emotional conflicts, and through slight-of-hand made me miss the fact that there was no action to speak of.
I can respect his writing skill for that. Sneaky jerk.
Meltzer focuses most of this issue on Red Tornado. Now, unless you’re in your 30s or up, your familiarity with Red Tornado is probably limited to his appearances in YOUNG JUSTICE. But in the 70s, Reddy was the character that JLA writers glommed onto as the heart and soul of the League. Reddy really had no identity outside of the title. Prior to Reddy, Green Arrow was the guy, but then he became a co-star in the GREEN LANTERN title and that meant his character development shifted from JLA to GL/GA, and later, his solo-feature backups in ACTION COMICS. So all the other full-time members of the League either headlined their own titles or at least appeared in regular back-up features, and those were the repositories for individual character development. But Reddy’s appearances were almost entirely within the JLA comic. And because of this, he was the one character that the JLA writers could actually do something with – because he was not under the editorial control of another editor. Reddy was your basic Pinocchio metaphor; a robot with a soul striving to become human – searching for purpose and meaning in his life. And Meltzer brings that aspect back with this story where Reddy gets his wish, with Boston Brand/Deadman serving as his very own “Blue Fairy.” I expect that Prof. T.O. Morrow, as Reddy’s “Gepetto,” will be making an appearance here very soon.
Meltzer obviously has a fondness for the 70s era League and brings in Black Lightning, who had his own series in the 70s but never joined the JLA, and utilizes Deadman, who appeared regularly in the 70s ADVENTURE COMICS. He also takes advantage of the old stand-by, Doc Magnus, to “fix” Red Tornado’s robot body – similar to how Doc was used to “fix” Robotman’s body for the SHOWCASE revival of THE DOOM PATROL also in the 70s. And let’s not forget Vixen – famed victim of the 70s DC Implosion where she was all set to have her own series and join the JLA. After the implosion, the character just coasted around in non-existent limbo until the infamous Detroit-era JLA where she was dusted off and finally brought into the League just in time to see the title cough its last dying breath. Never has she looked as good as she looks in this newest incarnation and never have her powers been this well-defined (essentially a female version of JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE member Animal Man) and never has she had a defined personality. In just a few pages, she jumped off the page and became my favorite of the new group.
Now, even though Meltzer is emphasizing the second-stringers for character development, he does not ignore the big three. There’s certain arrogance to the manner in which the “Super-Trinity” (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman) just assume that every hero out there is dying to bend their knee and be asked to join this modern Round Table of heroes. But it worked for me. Saying things like “I think we can get him” when the name of Mr. Terrific (chairman of the JSA) came up – that perfectly illustrates the arrogance that I’m talking about. What I want to see is that scene where the Trinity go and “invite” Terrific to join their League and he tells them where to shove that invite. They have good intentions but they also need to be reminded that they are not gods and do not control everyone and everything. I appreciate the efforts made here, though, to establish a bond of friendship among the Trinity – evocative of their relationship in KINGDOM COME. Surely not an incidental or accidental comparison.
Other than Red Tornado’s story arc, the other major character development focuses on Roy Harper/Arsenal. In the past, Roy has struggled with identity issues. As Speedy, his personal insecurities drove him to drugs. As Arsenal, he has spent most of his time attempting to distinguish himself from Ollie/Green Arrow – almost as if he could not see his point and purpose as a redundant and Lesser version of Green Arrow. Here, newly rejuvenated Hal Jordan/Green Lantern takes the time to strike up a peer friendship with Roy rather than the “Uncle/Nephew” sort of relationship that Roy has continued to perceive it as. Hal helps Roy accept the fact that he’s grown up now and has carved out his own path. And now, with Ollie serving as mayor of Star City, the League needs Roy just as the previous League needed Wally to replace Barry as The Flash. Flattered and energized, Roy is on his way into the big time. At this point in the story, he’s still going by the name and costume of “Arsenal.” Based on the cover, however, where he’s decked out in a crimson duplicate of Green Arrow’s 70s costume replete with a big “R” on his belt, I expect we’re about to watch his transformation into the “Red Arrow” identity (once again, a nod to KINGDOM COME). This is where Speedy was always supposed to wind up. He just was unwilling to embrace his own destiny.
The villain-story involves an insidious theft of Red Tornado’s robot body and it features the lame Felix Faust, the new and intriguingly silly Dr. Impossible, and an unrevealed scary guy in charge. If it’s Darkseid I will vomit and then send the vomit-covered comic book right back to DC. As for Dr. Impossible – he claims to be Mr. Miracle’s brother and is kind of like a reverse-version of Miracle in that he uses a “Hush Tube” instead of a “Boom Tube” and a “Father Box” instead of a “Mother Box.” Oh yeah, and his costume is the same as Miracle’s except that it is purple and black rather than garish red and yellow. On the one hand, the 10 year-old in me goes “Dr. Impossible is so cool!” and on the other hand, the unfortunate 39 year-old in me goes “Ugh.” And to make matters worse, the anal-retentive uber-geek in me mutters “If he’s the reverse of Mr. Miracle shouldn’t his costume be purple and green since they are the opposite colors to red and green on the color wheel?” Then he goes mouth-breathing and knuckle-dragging down into the cellar to check the tape on all his TV GUIDE mylar bags. Thankfully, I can suppress the uber-geek when I need to. Instead, I’ll just settle on Dr. Impossible as a silly character who may turn out to be cool depending on how this story plays out.
The art by Ed Benes is the best I’ve ever seen from him. He toned down some of his Jim Lee-neckless-wonders-style on the guys and focused on telling the story. I think Sandra Hope’s inks brought out and enhanced the best of Benes. Lots of wide-screen panels in the graphic narrative but not obsessively so. This guy really knows how to draw women. His Vixen was particularly attractive. Really nice to look at from cover to cover (my choice was the Green Lantern cover btw).
I thought this was a great kick-off to a potentially great run. I love the emphasis on the 70s era characters because those are the characters I started reading JLA with. Best thing about this comic is that it seems clear that there is an effort being made to tell modern and mature stories but with enough restraint to make the comic appropriate for younger readers as well. Not only would I not hesitate, I would encourage those long-time readers out there to get this comic into the hands of junior high kids who may not already be comics readers. I suspect this series could be a good “gateway drug” for a new generation of super-hero comic fans.
HEROES FOR HIRE #1
Writer(s): Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Okay, okay, okay. Breathe deep here. You can do it Humphrey, just.... oh, who
am I kidding?! I WANT IRON FIST!!! IRON FIST IRON FIST IRON FIST DAMMIT!!! IT'S
NOT HEROES FOR HIRE WITHOUT LUKE CAGE AND IRON FIST!!!!
Penciler: Billy Tucci
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee
....... okay, better.
I mean, it's not all bad. We've got some other great third-tierers in here. Look! There's Shang-Chi! And Paladin! In the purple body suit even! And of course there's the starlettes of the show Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. They hang out with Iron Fist all the time. Everything's going to be okay... right?
And I guess it is just that. "Okay". Flowing out of the DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON miniseries and, like anything from Marvel these days, the "creatively tardy" CIVIL WAR event, the first issue of HEROES FOR HIRE is a pretty entertaining read. I had fun with it, but it also had some glaring faults that didn't really make me excited for the next issue but didn't come out badly enough that I'm not willing to give it a couple more issues. The main problem at hand here is that this is waaaayyyy too busy, even for a 'pilot' issue. In 22 pages we have a giant street brawl with Misty and Company against some of Mandarin's former lackeys, we have the mandatory "Which side are you on?" speech between the girls and the pro-registration capes from CIVIL WAR, we've got down time and dinner between the HFH misfits, and then we've got yet another brawl. The length of my run-on there speaks for itself.
But there's a lot of good here. The book is brimming with great action, team banter, and just overall fun, kung fuey goodness. I love lower tier characters, and I love ensemble books, so this was going to probably get a couple issues from me to begin with as I watched how the overall chemistry between the characters and the creative team itself settled into what this book will (hopefully) be. I just need to see more. More motives behind the members of this rather off-color group. Why they joined, who they are (mainly for the new Tarantula), and yes, even why they stand where they do on the whole registration act. If this book is going to be born out of this giant "Marvel Comic's Event in Seven Sporadic Parts!" then I'm going to hold them to it. I just need some more meat is all... and Iron Fist.
Okay, enough with the Iron Fist. But let's talk about the art before we wrap this up shall we? It's a pretty big deal that we have here one Mr. Bill Tucci (creator of SHI) on this book. And he is a great part of why this book worked where it did, but also why it failed where it did too. Obviously a big selling point of this title is all the femme fatales running around kicking ass, and when it comes to those no one beats The Tucc. And the action doth flow forth from his pencil like a mighty river, but it's also terribly busy. Overcrowded panels, overflowing action sequences, and a little too much pose striking for my tastes, overall it just perpetuates what I said about the writing: it's too much at once. But also like the story unfolding here I think it will have a chance to "let out its breath" so to speak and hopefully, hopefully, hopefully find the right balance.
Final verdict? If you enjoy seeing all these lower end characters in one spot, or you've seen over a hundred Jackie Chan and Jet Li flicks like I have, buy this comic and see if you can find the potential in it I've glimpsed somewhat from it. Otherwise this really isn't going to be your schtick, and honestly would just serve as a testament towards your being a CIVIL WAR bitch and buying anything with the logo on it. We all know it's true, but that doesn't mean you have to perpetuate it. Cheers...
52 - WEEK SIXTEEN
Written by: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
This issue of 52 was the most effective issue for me so far. While I’ve been a bit lukewarm on this series since its beginning there are some aspects of it which I find intriguing, one of which being Black Adam and his designs on creating a foreign superpower of his own. Let’s face it, Black Adam has been one of the most interesting characters in the DCU for the past several years and when an issue of 52 centers on him I have to say that I find myself wanting to read it. Unlike the Steel arcs or the adventures of the Space Heroes on planet Ecstasy Fruit, Black Adam gets my attention every time.
Illustrated by: Keith Giffen and Joe Bennett
Published by: DC Comics
Reviewed by: superhero
I always love it when obscure comic characters get the dust brushed off of them to be given new life with an interesting twist years later and Isis is no exception. Heck, if you’re going to revive an almost completely forgotten TV character you could do a lot worse than what they’ve done with her. I actually have a couple of copies of the old crappy DC TV Comics adaptations of ISIS and I can tell you right now that there wasn’t really a lot to live up to. If anything, she’s a welcome addition to the modern age DCU and it’s too bad that she’ll probably be dead meat before 52 is all over but, hey, at least for now she’s helping provide some good reading material. I actually think that Black Adam is going to do something reprehensible in front of her (like, oh, maybe tear a living person in half) and that’s where the rift will develop but horrified ex-spouse or murdered lover, either way we all know Black Adams gonna get his heart shredded and that’s part of what makes this comic a great read.
That’s because this issue focuses on the wedding of Black Adam and Isis and for once it seems like Adam’s actually found true happiness. Not only that but the whole Marvel Family is just getting along just like peaches and cream. This was a great series of events for me as it was just terrific to see the whole kinder, gentler Marvel Family dynamic playing itself out. It was fun to read and really put a smile on my face. Sure, we all know that Adam’s and the Marvels’ happiness is more than likely short lived but it’s the sour stuff that makes the sweet stuff so sweet.
Speaking of sour stuff, unfortunately there’s plenty of that going on during the wedding ceremony as well. This is where Renee Montoya and The Question’s arc finally intersects with Adam’s and this sequence of the story played out beautifully. While the Montoya segments have been boring me a bit as well this issue almost makes up for the silly Batwoman stuff with Kathy Keane I’ve had to sit through for the past several weeks. Almost.
Montoya and the Question end up uncovering a suicide bomb plot which is set to disrupt the aforementioned wedding of Black Adam and Lady Isis. This segment filled out the book with the right amount of tension to play off of all the joyous goings on with the Marvel Family. The end result was a sad but necessary conclusion that showed that sometimes heroes have to make crushing choices in order to save lives.
A lot of people have been giving the artists on this book a hard time but I have to say that I actually liked Joe Bennett’s work here. He’s a solid craftsman who’s able to effectively deliver the necessary goods. Much of the credit for the flow of the storytelling should go to Keith Giffen, undoubtedly, but Bennett carries the ball and runs with it here. Sure, I still have some problems with the fact that since the beginning of 52 Renee Montoya suddenly looks like Miss Fitness USA with breast implants but I can let that go.
So while 52 has been a hit or miss proposition for me this issue delivered the goods. I was getting ready to drop this book but this week has kept me on board for the next couple of weeks at least.
Writer: Ed Brubaker
One of my most favorite comics in recent years was CAPTAIN AMERICA #7, the last days of Jack Monroe AKA Nomad story that Ed Brubaker wrote a while back. This story seemed to occur at just the right time, shed light on someone from the main character’s supporting cast, and added to the main storyline by providing the story from a different angle. DAREDEVIL #88 is a similar type of issue, but whereas the CAP issue provided depth to an already great storyline, this issue fell flat for me.
Art: David Aja
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Sure, I’m happy as the next guy that Foggy didn’t really get shanked in prison a few issues back. Foggy’s always been an integral part of the DD/Matt Murdock persona. He’s the human element—the part that kept Daredevil grounded, his confidant, his advisor, his lil’ buddy. Even when Matt Murdock heard Foggy’s heartbeat stop in those final tense panels of that issue, there was a part of me that knew Bru wouldn’t kill off such an important character.
So after the bombshell dropped last issue revealing that Foggy was alive, I knew a “Jack Monroe-type” issue was coming. And knowing how cool that issue was, I have to say I was looking forward to another interesting sidebar to this ongoing classic run Bru has been mapping out since he took over the writing reigns.
But after reading DAREDEVIL #88, I have to say I put it down with a feeling of dissatisfaction. The revelation that Foggy is in the witness protection program was the punchline, and it was a hell of a good one, but that was revealed in the last panel of last issue. This issue sort of functions as a 22 page explanation of the joke and you know what happens when you have to explain a joke.
Going through the motions, this issue cites clichÃ©d witness protection procedures that we’ve seen before many times. Foggy tries to remember his new name and life the feds have set up for him. He’s trying to get a hold of Matt Murdock and Ben Urich, but fails every time. Even his escape attempt was pretty uneventful resulting with yet another ninja attack leading to a not-so-shocking revelation that it isn’t just the feds who are looking out for Foggy’s well being. Sure there are some great monologues by Daredevil’s best bud featuring some relevant insight into the character (how Foggy values his relationship with Matt, and how much value he thinks Matt places on him, for example). But these insights come early on and are soon nudged out of the way in favor of more clichÃ©s. The whole issue just feels unnecessary. Whereas I found the Jack Monroe/Nomad story to be a welcome vacation from the story in CAP, I found myself longing to return to the forefront of the story with this issue. The CAP tale added an interesting new perspective to a tale, adding weight to a death of an important character in Cap’s life. This story didn’t really do any of that and lacked the emotion or heft to matter.
DAREDEVIL written by Brubaker is on its own level. We’re in the middle of a great run; one that will probably be looked back upon as a classic. A ho-hum issue of Bru’s DAREDEVIL is better than most comics on their best day. So maybe I’m holding this book up to higher expectations, but compared to the rest of Bru’s run on this title and compared to the similarly structured Jack Monroe issue, this book doesn’t even compare.
Writer: Brian Wood
We're at the end of the second full arc of one of the latest batch of Vertigo
titles and there's two conclusions that can be drawn at this point: One is that
Riccardo Burchielli is a superstar artist and a very talented man, and Two is that this book is at the top of the Vertigo class, thereby making it one of the best comics being published today.
Penciler: Riccardo Burchielli
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee
Matthew Roth has a bit of a problem on his hands. The United States army is getting ready to stamp right on into the heart of Manhattan and is responsible for the death of a highly touted journalist (one Viktor Ferguson) whose misreported demise is actually the justification for the full scale attack. Matty is also reported as being dead behind "enemy" lines, but he's alive and well and has the evidence that can prove the death of Viktor wasn't caused by the Free States and blow this whole invasion apart.
The key word here is "tension". Tension created through some brilliantly detailed art as we watch Manhattan Island being carpet bombed to pieces. Tension building as we see Matty and his NY gal pal Zee hunkered down with tons of other Manhattan denizens as the city above them is blown apart. Tension as we see US Forces marching across the George Washington Bridge. And Matthew is in the middle of it all and it's his footage that can bring it all down. If there's one complaint I can and will make about this title, it's that the lone journalist with the power to throw a wrench in the plans of "the man", makes this book a bit too much of a comparison to another highly-acclaimed Vertigo title, TRANSMETROPOLITAN. Matty Roth is in no way shape or form Spider Jerusalem characteristically, but the point they both serve does induce a bit of the old deja vu. But if you're going to riff something, you might as well riff the best I say. In a way DMZ is working on a much broader scale as its focus is on the subject of war and insurgency, while TRANSMET was more a pure political piece (that had tons of gleefully sadistic violence instead). Either way, both are very important works in their own right, it's just a matter that this one has a little bit of a more "been there, done that" feel since it comes in the wake of Warren Ellis' masterpiece.
And speaking of masterpieces, let's get a bit deeper into Burchielli's art, shall we? Besides his ability to draw wonderfully desolate landscapes, he also brings a lot of personality to the characters that thrive in the Demilitarized Zone, both in the foreground and the back. This issue shows that skill off a lot, as we see Matty and Zee down in their hideout as the populous around them does what they can to pass the time. The people of the war zone thrive, and the whole situation feels that much more real because of how Riccardo depicts them. I love everything about his art from the details of the ruined buildings above the streets to the character designs of the citizens roaming on and below them. Any acclaim this title gets would do well to acknowledge his contribution to the whole of the experience that is DMZ.
If you haven't tried this title by now it's obviously not too late. We're only ten issues in, and you can read the first five in trade form for only a measly ten spot. Vertigo has long been the home to some of the biggest and the best titles comics have known, and is still going strong with the likes of titles like FABLES, Y: THE LAST MAN, and 100 BULLETS. DMZ shows there's always room for one more.
Writer: Frank Tieri
This comic is pretty stupid.
Artists: Tyler Kirkham and Stjepan Sejic
Publisher: Top Cow productions and Marvel Comics
Guest Cog Reviewer: El Vale
But the thing is, even though DARKNESS/WOLVERINE #1 is not what you and I would refer to as "good", it is what I would call pretty entertaining (like one of those car crashes you keep hearing about), and often pretty irritating for clearly unintentional reasons (like that guy who keeps kicking your seat at the movies, but not on purpose). But you all knew that already because it's a team up between Darkness and Wolverine (duh) and right off the bat it doesn't sound like it's gonna be intellectually stimulating.
Anyway, this is a told-in-one story about Jackie Estacado and Wolverine becoming best buds even though Logan slashed Jackie's "grandpappy" up during World War II. It's really touching because we can all identify with that sort of thing. I mean...not Wolverine slashing your grandpa up during WWII, I mean the themes of forgiveness and redemption and having drinks with guys who were never really your friends. So this is like, if you feel like reading PREACHER but you think that would take too long, you can just read this one instead. It's got a bar and everything.
And since this is a told-in-one story and at the end it says "The End", I’m left wondering whether or not there's gonna be an ongoing series of told-in-ones in which Darkness and Wolverine go to tittie bars, kill vampires, and run into Witchblade while she's taking a shower, because right there on the cover it states this is issue number one and wouldn't it be sad if this were all we ever got? Anyway, those are the kind of questions this comic leaves you asking yourself, because it's not one of those comics you read and forget about in two seconds, like that comic I just forgot about. No, this one stays with you hopefully until you finish writing your review.
Anyway, the actual story takes place in the past (1942), where Logan meets Roberto Estacado, and the present (2006 I guess) where Logan meets Jackie Estacado. One thing that really bugged me, Roberto Estacado looks exactly like Jackie Estacado except with a beard. So it's nice to know the Estacado genes have passed unpolluted throughout the generations, just like mine. I mean you should see a painting of my awesome ancestor, Spanish Conquistador El Valeriano; guy looks exactly like me except he has a beard and his clothes are pretty funny/puffy.
Both Estacados try to kill Logan using different methods, like Darkness bullets [TM] and critters of varying sizes, but the difference is Roberto's a bastard and Jackie is not (?) so Logan only kills ol' Rob, but not before Rob can spit in his face. And you should see Logan's face, man; I swear to you, he's smiling like a Swedish girl picking flowers on a prairie. It's pretty awesome. At first I thought maybe that was a quick and uneventful death for Roberto Estacado, that magnificent bastard, but then I realized this guy wasn't so much a character as he was a Spanish stereotype. And not a good one at that, because he can't even speak proper Spanish, a point that is made evident during that sequence in which something happens and he says "Madre Dios", or "Mother God" for the Spanish-impaired. Who does he think he's fooling? All he does is walk around speaking English even when he doesn't need to and calling people "SeÃ±or." What an asshole. And I’m not even gonna bother telling you about the French stereotypes you'll find in this here comic. One thing writers need to understand is having your foreign character speak perfect English all the while throwing stupid, over used, clichÃ©d lines like "Mi amigo" and "Mon dieu" in there every chance they get doesn't make for compelling characterization.
Jackie, though, Jackie's a nice guy so he decides to put on his magical Darkness costume just so he can take it off immediately and tell Logan he's nothing like his grandfather and he doesn't want to do battle (true story). So basically they wanted to give artists Kirkham (pencils) and Sejic (color) a chance to show Estacado in full Darkness gear, because everyone knows how kewl that is (not very), which is a prime example of how shallow comics can be, but what the fuck did you expect, Vale? Then they sit and have a drink and talk about how long it takes for Wolverine's ear to grow back. ha ha. The end.
Sejic, by the way, is the unquestionable star of the book. Even though the art is not perfect (and I want to blame Kirkham for that), Sejic makes it look painterly and rich and much much better than you'd expect from this kind of comic. Bravo dude, I know it wasn't easy.
And as for Frank Tieri and the rest? Well at least you tried, guys--at least you tried.
WONDER WOMAN #2
Writer: Allan Heinberg
How long has it been since WONDER WOMAN #1 came out?
Artists: Terry Dodson (pencils) & Rachel Dodson (inks)
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Prof. Challenger
Sure doesn’t seem like only last month, or maybe it’s just me. Regardless, my enthusiasm for the title has slightly waned since then. I’m guessing that I loved the first issue more because of how much it exceeded my sewer-level expectations. This time, I was maybe expecting too much, so it came in under the radar a bit.
The art was still exceptional--smooth and sensual. The structure of the story was a little disjointed beginning with a flashback of Donna as Wonder Woman with Diana and Batman observing her from a distance. The point? To backtrack for the reader and show how Diana wound up working with Nemesis at the Department of Meta-Human Affairs.
As I said in my earlier WW review, I have nostalgic monkey-love for that psychedelic white jumpsuit 70s era of Wonder Woman. It was so bizarre and surreal with her running around with that Chinese mystic calling himself I-Ching (of which I’m guessing that the writer back then didn’t have a clue what the I-Ching actually is). As far as I know, this is the first time in 30 plus years that I-Ching has been referenced in a WONDER WOMAN comic. Heinberg seems to have embraced that era and moved it into post-Crisis continuity by having those non-costumed adventures of Diana occur during the past untold year. Quite a clever way of bringing that in.
One cool praise and one minor quibble. I guess I’ll go with the quibble first. This has to do with Nemesis. I am a fan of the old Nemesis backup series that ran in the 70s. But, I gotta say that the personality of Nemesis in this issue of WONDER WOMAN is simply not the same. Nemesis in this comic came off like a petty knucklehead rather than the incredibly smart and efficient super-agent--almost like Heinberg is writing Nemesis as Lyle Waggoner’s Steve Trevor from the WONDER WOMAN TV series. My praise is also related to the TV series. It has to do with the choice of incorporating that awesome sensual costume-changing scenario that Lynda Carter’s Diana Prince would go through in every episode. You know what I mean: Taking off those glass, letting her hair down, twirling in a circle with outstretched arms as magical lights surround her and then BOOM she’s in costume. She starts to do that in this issue and I was jazzed to see it. Although our “surprise” guest-star had to go an intrude on the change in the last page...
It was still a good issue. Not as good as the first issue, but to quote Larry David, it’s Preeeetttyyyy pretty PRETTY good!
THE SADHU #1-2
Writer: Gotham Chopra
"The truth is that sometimes you need to go so far and leave those you love the most to find out who you really are."
Artists: Jeevan Kang and R. Manikandan
Reviewer: Dan Grendell
A number of new comics companies have come and gone over the years, failing for various reasons, so when I heard about the launch of Virgin Comics I was interested but apprehensive. "Is there a point to trying new books from a company that may just disappear?" I asked myself. Then I said, "Self, that may be the dumbest thing you've ever said, aside from that one time you confused lesbians and Libyans. A good story is a good story, and if people don't check it out, that will ensure that Virgin doesn't hang around. Stop being an idiot." Myself gave me the finger, but admitted I was right, and so I picked up THE SADHU. And I'm glad I did.
THE SADHU is the story of James Jensen, a lower-class Englishman who leaves his job as a dockworker in London in 1858 to take his wife and baby to India, where Her Majesty's army needs more soldiers to keep peace among the natives. For Jensen it's a chance to start a new life, and it goes relatively well, despite an asshole commander determined to break his spirit. Then a time comes when the native soldiers serving in the army are ordered to load their muskets - but the paper cartridge the gunpowder is kept in has been soaked in cow grease, sacred to the native Indians. Their commander refuses, and Jensen is ordered to kill him. He will not, and his military life goes downhill from there. Things take a horrible turn, and Jensen finds himself on the run, with only the native people to help him.
Interestingly enough, the historical native soldiers serving in the Bengal Army of the British East India Company in India were actually forced to use paper soaked in cow grease and their refusal to do so sparked the War of Independence of 1857. I love to see historically accurate little bits like this in comics.
THE SADHU is well-written, recreating very well the world of 19th century India in the hands of the British. By using an Englishman as the protagonist, Chopra allows the Western reader to see the exotic land of India through (pardon the pun) virgin eyes, revealing it bit by bit and not overwhelming you with too much that would seem overly strange. By the same token, enough is different and mysterious about the culture and land that you are drawn in to both the story and the background, anxious to see both what happens next and the environment it happens in. There's plenty to hold a reader's interest here.
Kang and (with issue 2) Manikandan have done their homework well, their art giving a very legitimately 19th century look and feel. They are particularly adept at wringing emotions from faces, something I always appreciate, but action scenes and anatomy are also quite well done. A special mention should be given to the colors of S. Sundarakannan, whose palette really brings the art to life. Those colors complement the artwork so well in THE SADHU that I can't really see the book working without them.
Overall, this is a great breath of fresh air and an intriguing story. I'm looking forward to reading it for, I hope, a long time.
I could go on about how well textured James Callahan's characters are, or how astonishing his layouts look. I could talk about the excellent buildup in the first half, and the balls to the wall insanity of the second half. But in all honesty, all you need to know is that the first and last sentence of the book is "This was the day the giant robot zombies came." If that doesn't grab you, don't bother. Everyone else, you're going to love this sucker. - Vroom Socko
ROTTING IN DIRTVILLE
Gigantic Graphic Novels
Gigantic Graphic Novels
TRANSFORMERS: EVOLUTIONS – HEARTS OF STEEL #1 & 2
I don’t know what exactly I was expecting from this book. This was actually my first taste of TRANSFORMERS comics. And let me tell you that after reading these two issues, this miniseries is definitely…MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE!
Bwah! Buh-haw! Ah-heh…ahem…hmmm…
I was impressed not only by the backstory of these battling robots who can turn into vehicles, but by the inventive way in which historical American figures were incorporated in this Times Past tale of the Transformers. Jules Verne, Mark Twain, and John Henry are all featured prominently in this series. And featured pretty smartly, I might add. This book read a bit like THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN as these historical figures interacted and inadvertently took part in the ageless battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons. The art is pretty spot on as well, featuring the highly detailed lines necessary to illustrate these robots effectively. These first two issues were a hoot to read through and I am eagerly awaiting the rest of the series. - Ambush Bug
WEREWOLVES: CALL OF THE WILD #1
It’s a lonely life, being a werewolf. No one understands the pleasure one has being able to lick one’s balls with a wolfy tongue and all. This book is a nice road tale featuring a werewolf in search of his lost brother. There’s some really good characterization with an R. Lee Ermey type police chief who may or may not be a werewolf himself. There’s a mystery, but only a hint of werewolfing about. Hopefully, the werewolfing will be upped in the next few issues because when the fur flies, this book is pretty darn entertaining. - Ambush Bug
X ISLE #2
Not so much LOST as it is a more serious version of LAND OF THE LOST where a group of scientists and two surly sailors find themselves on an uncharted island where none of the vegetation or animal life has been documented and all of them pose a definite threat to our survivors. At times, the art teeter totters between amusement and annoyance, given the fact that one character is obviously based on Samuel L. Jackson (isn’t he running SHIELD or something?), while another looks like actor Josh Lucas, and yet another bears a striking resemblance to our own Harry Knowles. It’s fun to see a comic book already cast for Hollywood, but annoying due to the baggage each character carries with them for resembling such recognizable faces. The story, though, has been filled with twists and turns. Like LOST, the deeper the survivors go into the jungle and the longer they stay on this isle, the more mysterious it becomes. This one’s got me hooked. - Ambush Bug
Writer Elizabeth Genco has a unique voice. It’s evident in the way she ping-pongs her word balloons and the way she writes her forwards and afterwards in these two ashcan sized books from Street Fables. RED is a nice little urban tale with a classic twist ending about predator and prey and how, in an instant, those roles can be switched. This is an elegant and precautionary tale told in a confident and simplistic way. The art by Kevin Colden is very gesture-like, highlighted by splatterings of the color red throughout this attractive black and white comic. WEIRD SISTER is a compilation of shorts featuring a woman named Daleth who channels Earth Goddesses such as Artemis and Hecate to protect her and her friends from harm. She’s also got a pretty cool shadow dog named Shock. These three tales help introduce this character, her powers, and the horrors of the world (both real and fantastical) that she has to face. These tales are breezy and short, but carry a heft and heart that makes each panel count. Genco enlists some talented B&W artists to illustrate her words. Both WEIRD SITER and RED show the emergence of a talented new voice in indie comics. I look forward to reading more from her. - Ambush Bug
ZOMBIES: FEAST #3
I really enjoyed the herky-jerky art stylings from artist Enrique Lopez Lorenzana in this book. While the physiques and posturings of the characters may not look too real and sometimes appear to be contorted and squished into the panel, it is interesting to see an artist not so distracted with following the rules of reality when drawing the human figure. Some arms and legs are longer and shorter than others. People assume poses that a high-priced double-jointed Belgian hooker couldn’t contort into, but the artist keeps this story entertaining and there’s an energy in the lines that makes all of these anatomical inconsistencies OK by me. The story is moving along at kind of a slow pace. Basically, in three issues, the chain gang has moved from the prison vehicle to a farm and now to an department store in a town; all the while they’re pursued by zombies and fighting amongst themselves and the unlucky police officers bound to keep this group of prisoners together and out of trouble. But the art and the fact that this is one of those zombie stories where every character is one you wouldn’t mind having their innards devoured by a pack of zombies makes this book a guilty pleasure. - Ambush Bug
Remember, if you have an Indie book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.
Remember, if you have an Indie book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.