HEROES V.1 HC Graphic Novel
Writers & Artists: Various Publisher: DC Wildstorm Reviewer: Ambush BugI wouldn’t call myself the biggest HEROES fan, but I do watch the series on a regular basis. I find the TV show to be entertaining although I do think that there’s nothing new going on there. It’s just mainstream WATCHMEN/RISING STARS stuff. Any avid comic fan will recognize the cliches. I can appreciate the fact that comic/geek culture is now part of the mainstream, but I won’t jump up and down about a series that exploits all of the best aspects of the medium as if it were brand new. It’s fun to watch, though. I find it funny to see people treating this subject matter as if it were revolutionary entertainment when us comic readers have been enjoying these types of stories for ages.
The first HEROES HC graphic novel collects the online comics that are advertised at the end of each HEROES broadcast during its first season. I never checked out these webcomics, so all of this is new material to me. It’s a collection of short 5 to 6 page snippet stories, each highlighted by a cover/splash page by the uber-cool Tim Sale. Each of these images by Sale is memorable and iconic, reflective of scenes from the TV series. This is a well-put together piece of fiction, presented on the best paper. Cover to cover, you aren’t going to find a better looking graphic novel.
The stories themselves are pretty fine reads as well. Most of the names inside are foreign to me, but that doesn’t stop them from making some really great short fiction. Sure, a lot of the stories seem like throw away tales (the best of which was a short about Hiro’s collection of comics and what he does with ACTION COMICS #1) and there may be a little too much attention paid to Wireless (a character who can read emails and texts out of thin air). But it’s evident that the writers obviously know the characters from the series and utilize them to their fullest potential here. Everyone from Sylar to the Horned Rimmed Glasses Man to fan favorite Hiro are present with at least one or more stories dedicated to them.
In the interview in the back of the book with the series’ creators, the question was raised if the TV show can be enjoyed without reading these tales. Of course, the answer was yes and that the stories serve to enrich the experience. But I’m fairly certain after reading this book that you have to be a fan of the television series in order to enjoy this hardcover to its fullest potential. The book doesn’t do a great job of introducing or distinguishing characters. If you know the characters, you won’t have a problem. But if you’ve never watched an episode of HEROES, you’re shit out of luck, my friend. Sadly, I don’t think the non-fan was taken into consideration when this book was made.
It’s a shame, because this could have been rectified so easily. I don’t want to venture too far into “here’s what I would have done” territory, but I think it would have been a great idea to place a brief synopsis of each episode that aired before the webcomic was published in order to keep the reader up to date as to the sequence of events. This would have clued the new readers in as to what’s going on and given us readers who have seen the series an idea when the comic was published and what was going on with the show at the time. Some of the stories were easy to place; others functioned out of continuity. I saw the entire series, yet even I found myself wondering about the timeline as I read the book. Plot synopsis and air dates would have helped this and made it more inviting to those new to HEROES.
I don’t want to rip into this book too much. Like I said, it looks great. The stories are fun and often extremely well written and the art is pretty damn keen too. There are a lot of bells and whistles that will satisfy any HEROES fan. And really, that’s who this book is for. This book will have no problem satisfying the appetites of the hungry HEROES fans, but it may be a hard meal for non-fans to swallow.
ANNIHILATION CONQUEST: STARLORD #4 (of 4)
Writer: Keith Giffen Penciller: Timothy Green II Inker: Victor Olazaba Publisher: Marvel Comics
ANNIHILATION CONQUEST #1
Writer: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning Penciller: Tom Raney Inker: Scott Hanna Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me AmodeoAll three of the ANNIHILATION series began with great promise, but two ended with the mark a bit lower than expected. WRAITH never cashed in on its promise of mystery and terror in the hearts of the Phalanx. What began as a trippy story about a dangerous Kree-with-no-name ended with a blue guy named Zak-Del who still thinks of himself as a Kree with no name. Sure, he’s still dangerous, but now he’s like that guy you meet at a party that always refers to himself in the third person. Ittle-lay it-bay ierd-way.
QUASAR came closer to sustaining itself, but Puff the Moony-Dragon left me kinda cold, and knowing that we had spent four issues setting the stage for “HIM!” left me feeling a little cold AND a little gypped. It was like when a reunited Led Zeppelin took the stage and launched into Kashmir at the end of Atlantic Records 3-hour 50th Anniversary celebration. Sure, I was happy to see them on the stage, but think of all those previous acts, fine in their own right, realizing they had suddenly been reduced to Zeppelin’s opening act. I think Quasar deserved better than just opening for Adam Warlock.
Only STARLORD seemed to have a good idea where it was going and actually got there with style to spare. We began with pain-in-the-ass for hire Peter Quill being forced to bear the mantle of Starlord once more, and handed the reins of a ragtag suicide squad. After the deaths of two teammates (one fortunately permanent, one fortunately not) the team continued to swashbuckle its way through the remaining issues to a satisfying conclusion here.
After reading this issue twice (the middle moved almost TOO fast) I have to say I can’t believe no one ever thought of using Mantis as a comic foil. And who would have known that the Uni-force could also double as a passable straight man? Yet with the stakes clearly mapped out in previous issue, the comedy never felt forced or cheap.
Green’s pencils also lent class and gravitas to the entire series. The lack of pratfalls and funny faces made the funny lines funnier and the tension…uhn, tenser. I REALLY hope to see him again.
The first issue of the longer CONQUEST series began with a bang. More specifically a blast. That’s one cool thing about this little corner of the 616: you never know who you’re going to run into. In this issue, we catch up with Blastaar (one of my all time favorites, since I read his original terrifying appearance in the FF, back when Kirby was the man and Perez was in diapers). We also catch up with Korath, Ronan, Super Skrull, Wraith (if you care), Xemnu, our favorite hot interstellar lesbians (hey, I didn’t coin the phrase!), Warlock (no surprise from the end of QUASAR) and a few other folks.
It’s a veritable “who’s who” of “who cares” and “holy cows!” Somethin’ fer everyone.
The art is fun. I can’t remember the last time I saw Raney’s pencils, but I’ll remember this issue. There were some particularly neat angles and wide lens shots that had me looking past the main action and admiring the details.
But I think what I will remember most is that this is the day Warlock stole Mary Marvel’s costume (no skirt, though, thank the High Evolutionary.) Also, here’s a game you can play at home – how many characters actually have eyes, and how many just have glowing holes where their pupils ought to be? I suppose having eyes that glow (or at least one, like Quasar) is like “jacks or better to open” in the cosmic soap opera business, but what do I know? My eyes don’t glow.
And don’t turn to the last page until you’re sure you are absolutely ready. This was a surprise I really appreciated, especially in light of how this may impact another version of the same character being highlighted in another Marvel book. How do the two characters co-exist? Will the different teams of protagonists cross paths? I would be ecstatic if they did, but they don’t really need to. This outpost of the Marvel universe is self sufficient, and somewhat insulated from non-Phalanx agents of contamination.
After all, they might be in danger of annihilation, but at least they escaped the civil war.
DYNAMO 5 V 1: POST-NUCLEAR FAMILY tpb
Writer: Jay Faerber Penciler: Mahmud A. Asrar Publisher: Image Comics Reviewed by Humphrey LeeA book that has had a good bit of positive rumblings as of late, the first TPB of Jay Faerber's DYNAMO 5 has hit the shelves at a price that should snag the attention of even the most discerning of readers. I don't know why it took until now for me to try this book out; I can only assume that it was one of those cases of that even though I've heard typically praiseful things about Faerber's other most notable work, NOBLE CAUSES, I hadn't read any of it so I for some reason I just ended up ignoring this. But thanks to some positive reinforcement on the behalf of some of my more trusted comic related sites and such (thank you primarily to Ron from iFanboy) I took the plunge with this first volume and it was definitely a great endeavor on my part.
Now, what really worked for me in this book was the way it indulged itself in its premise. That premise, for those of you that don't know, is that one of the world's most powerful and popular superheroes, Captain Dynamo, had more than several affairs during his illustrious career, some even producing children. Upon his death his lawfully wedded wife finds some records of his extramarital affairs and takes it upon herself to recruit these offspring (now all young adults) and unleashes their latent powers (each being a segment of Captain Dynamo's full capabilities) thus birthing the Dynamo 5. Now, as for my lead in comment about indulgence, what I mean about that is I like how Faerber takes that pretty high-concept twist to your typical super book and hits the ground running with it. There's no five issue build up to the team's first outing, there's no taking an issue each to show Captain Dynamo's widow (one Maddie Warner for the record) recruiting each member individually: the book starts with the team kicking some ass and taking some names (and of course, making some mistakes) and fills in a little of their pasts and recruitment gradually through the pilot issue.
Besides the natural thrills that come with a book about super powered people and the collateral damage that follows them, what is really great about this book is that the hits keep on coming too. Just as the pilot issue is done giving you the low down on who's who, bam! the first issue gives you a twist that changes the dynamic in a way you didn't expect. And just like how I dug how Faerber was already playing on some old plot archetypes and giving it a new shine, I like how he mixes up some of the character ones too for the team dynamic. One of the characters here is a cute, pale little waif of a goth type chick, who you automatically assume is probably the "chick with the mind powers" but instead ends up being the team's tank. And on the other hand you've got the big football jock with the telepathy and whatnot, which is a great little twist and also very practical from an action standpoint because instead of having a person who's typically as useful as a sign post in a fight where their mental powers don't work, instead this guy is already capable of causing some pain the old fashioned way if need be. Sometimes the littlest of things can mean so much...
As for the characters and their personalities, those I admit are a little typical. You've got your standard Joking Jock, your Loveable Loser, your somewhat self-loathing Gothette and so on, but there are layers here to explore and it’s made apparent we'll see more of that depth coming in the future. This first arc does such a good job of keeping the twists going, that you don't mind the wait and gladly take what little fleshettes you get here and there about these characters, whether it come from dialogue between groupings of them, or glimpses of their lives outside the spandex and spirit gum masks.
Going over to art chores, I'll say that Mr. Asrar here is quite the talented find. He's got a really great eye for the superhero form but does a nice job of mixing figures up so there's a good enough differentiation between them: simple things like variations in musculature or even accentuation of the hips on the female figures and so on. And the physical conflicts throughout this book are quite the treat. Everything is very kinetic and impactful when the fists and debris start flying, and it just goes a long way towards giving the book that extra rush. Though I have to say, there could be a bit more consistency when it comes to the non-smashy moments. What I mean is that, while Asrar has a really great range of facial expressions and features at his disposal, some of his close up shots don't come out so well. Sometimes it's a set of eyebrows set up way too high above the eyes, or eyes set too wide, or simply just a completely bland blank stare that's really not supposed to be so. When everything is detailed right, it's absolutely great, but when things are off it's really noticeable and actually kind of distracting. But this is another case of the good far outweighing the bad here and the art overall is definitely another win for this book.
This really is a title worth checking out, especially given the bargain of seven reprinted issues for ten measly bucks. I hate to compare this to another Image superhero title INVINCIBLE (because it's the obvious one to make) but this book has all the makings of being Image's next big hit in that vein. Both books have a similar tone and style and even some themes, but DYNAMO 5 is definitely its own book. It emphasizes more the family gathering aspect and the gelling of the characters more than INVINCIBLE's more "great power and responsibility" roots and Mark Grayson's growing into his abilities of that book. But, really, if you want to compare similarities between these two books, you really just need to focus on the fact that like its predecessor, DYNAMO 5 is as well-written, action packed, and full of surprises as any pure superhero book on the market. The fact that it's doing it all on its own merit is just icing on the cake.
THE UN-MEN # 1-3
Written by: John Whalen Illustrated by: Mike Hawthorne Published by: Vertigo Comics Reviewed by: superheroIt's pretty much a given that the idea of human aberrations has been a popular one throughout the history of comic books and popular culture in general. Many would argue that the Batman comics are as compelling as they are not because of the protagonist but more because of his freakish rogues gallery. At the same time, what made the X-Men books so popular for so many years was the idea of being a genetic abnormality, separate and isolated from all of the so-called "normal" humans. It's also no coincidence that Tod Browning's FREAKS, considered one of the creepiest horror movies in the history of cinema, mines the utter fascination so many have had with people who are outside of the norm. Even going past that classic1932 film, circus attractions and sideshow carnivals have always played upon the everyday morbid curiosity that so many of us have always had with those who are physically different than the rest of us.
But imagine a place, much like the TWILIGHT ZONE episode “Eye of the Beholder”, where to be outside the norm is the norm. A place where Illustrated Men walk alongside one armed angels with wings. A place where gumshoe albinos investigate the wrongdoings of disembodied mad scientists. This is the type of place where the events in the Vertigo series THE UN-MEN unfold and it's a uniquely entertaining place indeed.
THE UN-MEN offers a glimpse into a society that is seemingly familiar to the pages of comic books and yet wholly original. This series takes place in the obviously fictional city of Aberrance and it's a city unlike any other in comicdom. In Aberrance the Batman's roster of misfits would probably be right at home and probably find themselves feeling somewhat normal. Writer John Whalen has created a fantastically dark world within the pages of THE UN-MEN and I was sucked into it from the moment I opened the cover of the first issue. The idea of Aberrance and its inhabitants is a fantastic one and Whalen and his artist breathe gothic life into the pages of THE UN-MEN that Tim Burton himself couldn't help but be impressed by.
But while the city itself is a unique construction its inhabitants are disturbingly fantastic as well. Whalen and Hawthorne do such a great job with both characterization and character design that each player in the pages of THE UN-MEN comes across as a fully fleshed out creation of its own. And boy do they make THE UN-MEN worth reading. Each character in THE UN-MEN is unique in its own way and it was really great in my opinion to see such an amount of original character ideas in the pages of this book. The creators of this book seem to have worked very hard to make their world something new and intriguing and it really pays off.
As far as story goes, THE UN-MEN is pretty much your average sort of noir-ish detective tale. There's nothing really new in a story about a government investigator looking into the corrupt dealings of large corporations and city government. But when the individuals being investigated are a man with a small, foul mouthed dwarf sticking out of his back and a mad scientist who happens to be a disembodied head with a German accent…well, you can see that THE UN-MEN is a book that's a bit different than your run of the mill detective story.
In recent months I've become a comic collector who's become accustomed to waiting for the trade. I know it's pretty much sacrilege among die hard comic fans but these days I'm finding myself with less time to get to my favorite comic shop as well as balking at the continuing rising cost of the pamphlets. When THE UN-MEN came out I had noticed it on the stands and decided I would wait for the trade. But since I got my hands on these first three issues I may have to pick up these books on a regular basis. I enjoyed THE UN-MEN that much and the story was interesting enough for me to want to follow up on finishing at least the first story arc. In a comics market where I'm finding myself less and less interested in reading weekly books I think that's the best kind of positive praise I could ever give this book.
THE NEW AVENGERS ILLUMINATI #5
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis & Brian Reed Art: Jim Cheung Inker: Mark Morales Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me AmodeoAnd thus ends the series, with an issue that many people (myself included) have been breathlessly awaiting. Just so you know up front, one of them is a Skrull (at least one, in my opinion) and no, I’m not going to spoil it here, so you can keep reading.
The art is an easy place to start. I love Chueng’s style and have loved it since YOUNG AVENGERS. Not too showy or full of itself; the art is in service of the story. I can’t wait to see what he’s drawing next. His characters, while retaining their iconic heroism, still radiate humanity. Even ol’ Shellhead seemed like just another guy in a very powerful tin suit.
The story, too, was excellent, both a well-executed ending and a tantalizing beginning. Great, and I mean GREAT, dialogue in this issue, and not just cutesy stuff about how hot Cleo is in Stark’s eyes. This was solid, clever stuff.
But some were troubling, so I have a few items in the “please tell me” department: First off, please tell me that WW HULK was not completely moot, since it looks like everyone survived! Wait, you mean the ending of WW HULK we’ve been waiting for is not going to change everything forever? Say it ain’t so! (This is called sarcasm, boys and girls. Another example would be: “Next thing you’re gonna tell me is that Peter Parker never married Mary Jane!”)
Please tell me that Stark has not mastered wireless nuclear energy. Please tell me that he brought Skrulectra to this location because it’s got a power grid built into the ground, and he radioed for power to be diverted there. Whew! Thought so. But even Mr. Fantastic was scratching his head.
Please tell me that Namor is not a Skrull since he references his lost kingdom (therefore this book happens after his miniseries) but flies in with wings on each of his ankles. Maybe I’m misinformed as to the timing of it all. And of course, Black Bolt shows up simply black instead of black-and-blue (at the hands of the Hulk) so maybe everyone is just a fast healer. (And hey, weren’t we at SILENT WAR with the Inhumans just a while ago? Ah, fugetaboutit…)
And please tell me that Xavier is not a Skrull (and I STILL think he is) since he managed to somehow survive a huge blast that knocked the collective wind out of every other non-Skrull there. And then there was this exchange:
“Monster!” says Xavier. “Monster?” says the Skrull. “I am you!” Could Xavier not know he’s a Skrull? Hmmm…
Continuity gaffes aside, however, it was an overall great mix of action, Bendialogue and plot advancement. I’m looking forward to the next chapters, though I know I’m going to be sick of the “who do you trust” phase before it’s even begun.
WHY I DIDN’T BUY COUNTDOWN PRESENTS THE SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER: RED RAIN #1
A rant about all things COUNTDOWN by Ambush Bug
ENOUGH!!!If I could print it in bigger letters, I would.
I’ve been patient with DC Comics for the first half of COUNTDOWN. I know following up the pretty tightly packed yet mildly flawed maxiseries 52 was a tough order, and I have to accredit the guys for putting out a weekly comic and still staying on schedule. And blah, de blah, de blah…
I’m sick of giving DC credit for putting a product out on time like they should and better yet, I’m done giving them a pass for having to do it too. Guess what folks? I shit on a regular schedule and I don’t see any accolades for it. And that’s what COUNTDOWN has been so far…
Utter, glorified, fly-ridden, camel shit.
I’m a big fan of the DCU. I’m invested in the characters and admire the new DCU that Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Keith Giffen, and Co. have whipped up over the last few years. For a while there, they had me. One might categorize me as a DC Zombie, for lack of a better term. They had me with the expansive storyline, the interesting characters and character developments, and the “oh shit” moments peppered throughout. But since the inception of the COUNTDOWN series, my interest has been decreasing exponentially.
There are many problems with COUNTDOWN proper. Most notably, it’s the inconsistent art. Occasionally, you’ll get your Olliffe’s or your Califiore’s. But in order to make the weekly schedule, DC has enlisted no names and artists who may in the future be someone of note, but are definitely not the caliber of what is to be expected in what has been touted as “the spine of the DCU.” The art, for the most part, has been amateurish and is an immediate distractor to me when trying to read the story. You may try to get all highbrow on me and say “But it’s the story I care about, not the art.” Then I say to you, “Fuck right off and go read a book.” If I see a comic, I take both story and art into consideration. If one lacks in quality, the whole thing suffers.
Art aside, there are still problems with COUNTDOWN. The fact that each of the multiple storylines gets about three pages per issue to advance the plot is maddening in that it slows plot-advancement to an inch-crawl. Weeks pass and literally nothing happens. There’s an inkling of an idea there for each of the main characters, but really, has there been any advancement from issue #52?
Jimmy Olsen is investigating the Death of the New Gods and is experiencing weird powers. Mary Marvel has succumbed to the Dark Side after receiving new powers from Black Adam and being tempted by Eclipso. Trickster and Piper are on the run and chained together. Donna Troy, a rogue Monitor, and Douche Robin have been popping around the Multiverse in search of Ray Palmer (the only development there is that Kyle Rayner has joined them). Karate Kid (filling the infinitely dying and sick hero role, played much better in 52 by The Question) is sick and dying.
Now looking back on that paragraph, you may say, “Hey, those are some pretty good ideas.” And I would agree with you. Problem is that that’s all they are. These plots haven’t evolved or advanced or changed in any real way since the first issue and we’re halfway through the damn series!?!?!?! Ray Palmer’s still missing. Karate Kid’s still sick. Mary Marvel’s still dark. Piper and Trickster are still on the lam. And Jimmy Olsen’s still experiencing power fluctuations.
Have you ever been out drinking all night and found yourself famished at the end of the night? So you get the bright idea of buying a huge burrito and stuffing it into your drunken mouth at 4:30 AM only to wake up around noon the next day and find yourself parked, legs asleep, toilet paper in hand, dropping logs for the entirety of the next day?
Well, folks, that’s what this is.
COUNTDOWN is a long, drawn-out, late-night burrito morning shit.
The idea of it all sounds good at the beginning. But after that, the outcome takes way too long to play out and quite frankly, it smells.
Two poop references in one review. Hrmph…
So we have a series where we can’t provide consistently good art and the plot doesn’t advance an inch. I have a great idea! Let’s toss out some unnecessary spin-offs to suck more money out of the pockets of these idiots! They’ll buy anything!!! Mwoo-ha. Mwoo-ha. Mwoo-ha-ha-ha!!! Now, where’s my chowder made from the souls of the penniless!?!?! - a blurb swiped directly from a board meeting at DCU (not really, except for the part about the chowder)
Last week, was the showstopper for me. I looked at the comics on the shelves and counted seven books spinning off of both COUNTDOWN and 52. Don’t believe me? Well, here you go.
COUNTDOWN #26 COUNTDOWN PRESENTS LORD HAVOK & THE EXTREMISTS #1 COUNTDOWN TO ADVENTURE #3 COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY #2 52 AFTERMATH: THE FOUR HORSEMEN #3 52 AFTERMATH: THE CRIME BIBLE #1 DEATH OF THE NEW GODS #2
This week, I counted four titles.
COUNTDOWN #25 COUNTDOWN PRESENTS THE SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER: RED RAIN #1 52 AFTERMATH: INFINITY INC. #3 COUNTDOWN: JIMMY OLSEN (a reprint)
Ok, that’s just effin’ insane. There isn’t even a big event or anything going on in COUNTDOWN. This is just a big bunch of spin-offs piss-poorly made to swipe my money. Sure there are some quality reads in there. I’m loving Starlin’s DEATH OF THE NEW GODS. Liked Rucka’s CRIME BIBLE and even find myself somewhat interested in Giffen’s THE FOUR HORSEMEN. But to hit a DC reader with this much crap all at once is too much punishment.
I guess the sensible person would say, “Well, you don’t have to buy it all, moron.” And to that, I say, “You’re right, but being the completist that I am, I want to buy it all to experience the entire scope of the story. When I see a spin-off and I’m invested in the story, I want to read it. But reality dictates that I just don’t have the cash to fork over the money to read the whole thing. So you know what I find myself thinking? I would rather check out from the whole damn thing than read only part of the story.” That’s what I find myself thinking.
And unfortunately, that’s what I’ve done.
The worst of the spread-thin plot offenders is the SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER series of books. Basically, Ray Palmer has the Golden Ticket or something like it that holds the answers to all of the recent problems the DCU has been having with the Multiverse. What this solution is hasn’t been made clear and why it’s Ray Palmer with the answer isn’t really clear either. This plot exists simply to take the reader on a tour of the Multiverse. A rogue Monitor has gathered three cosmic anomalies--Donna Troy, Jason Todd (Douche Robin) and now Kyle Rayner--to look in every nook and cranny of the Multiverse for Ray Palmer. Along the way, Jason Todd and Kyle Rayner beat their chests over Donna Troy and many different versions of the DCU are explored. So far, we’ve got two SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER one shots: THE CRIME SYNDICATE (focusing on the Jokester who was subsequently killed soon after) and WILDSTORM (wandering through the WildStorm Universe that features characters from WETWORKS, STORMWATCH, GEN13, and THE AUTHORITY). I understand what DC is doing with this series of one-shots. Basically, they are trying to guide us through the Multiverse with the so-called Challengers of the Beyond acting as tour guides. Hopefully, we’ll see some characters we like and maybe there’ll be another spin-off to be sold or the WildStorm Universe will get a few more readers. And that would be ok, if this were taking place in COUNTDOWN. And it is taking place in COUNTDOWN too. So why should I buy these spin-offs if basically the same story is being told in Cliff’s Notes version in COUNTDOWN?
I don’t know the answer to that one either.
Sure, characters are given more screen time and a chance to develop, but if you’re going to assign no name talent to these books, I’d rather not partake in it, thankyouverymuch. Tossing out these throw-away one shots (in which the Jokester was introduced, fleshed out, then quickly killed and forgotten, for example) with no real function but to have another number one issue on the rack reeks of X-MEN/90’s Marvel oversaturation.
So why didn’t I buy COUNTDOWN PRESENTS THE SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER: RED RAIN #1? Well, aside from the above reasons, I also have a strong disliking towards Elseworlds books. I learned early on that, like WHAT IF?, all Elsewords books basically tell one story. Something different happens or some new element like time or place or person is introduced, but basically the same things occur in Elseworlds stories over and over again. The different elements from the mainstream story prove to be moot and the same old origin story plays out (Batman as a caveman, his parents are killed by a sabretooth tiger, so he dons the hide of a tiger to avenge their deaths, only to be tormented by a crazy tiger with a scary smile).In the end, the story always ultimately unravels into a horrible scenario and everyone dies. This telling and retelling became so ponderous that I quickly realized that the little Elseworlds symbol on the cover was a clear indication that I wouldn’t be buying it no matter how crazy-revolutionary the concept was. In the end, I was after the now cliched stories that matter and Elseworlds stories just weren’t it.
RED RAIN is such a concept, albeit a concept conceived by some pretty creative people. I can admire the work of the talented Kelley Jones. I just can’t get into another story that matters that ultimately doesn’t matter to anyone but the guys at DC who count all of the money we waste on their thinly-spread product.
My advice to DC: Tighten your shit up. You’ve got a fanbase. You’ve got a great cast of characters. You’ve got our attention somewhat with this weekly comic thingeroo you’ve got going. But quit spreading yourselves so thin and pay attention to the products you are hocking. Lately that product looks and reads like crap. Fans will put up with a lot of shit, but sooner or later, they’re going to realize that the shit sandwich you are serving us with the COUNTDOWN logo on it is nothing but a shit sandwich no matter how you slice it (three poop references, I’ve got to seek help).
So that’s it. I’m done. From now on, when I see the words COUNTDOWN on the cover, I’m staying away. These days, to me, the COUNTDOWN logo might as well read: I FUCKED YOUR MOTHER IN A MEN’S ROOM STALL LAST NIGHT. And although it may be written by top names, have characters I hold near and dear to my heart and sometimes (but not all the time) have some pretty pictures, I would rather turn my head and pretend it just didn’t happen than witness it.
RUNAWAYS Graphic Novel #1: PRIDE AND JOY
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan Pencils: Adrian Alphona Publisher: Marvel Comcis Reviewer: JinxoOkay, most of you are going, “What the hell? Did I miss something? Is there a new Runaways graphic novel out? Didn’t this come out quite awhile ago?” Yes, this is an old release with seemingly no good reason for a review today. But stick with me anyway.
Actually, if you’re a long time RUNAWAYS fan, you can actually excuse yourself and just move right along to the next review. There are two groups of people I’m really wanting to talk to: the new Runaways readers who came in when Joss Whedon took over – i.e. the rabid Whedon fans – and the fine folks at Marvel Comics.
Let me address the Whedon freaks first. I know loads of you started reading RUNAWAYS because of Joss Whedon’s involvement. I did. I had heard about the book but never found a good reason to add it to my pull. Whedon taking over seemed like a good reason. Get on board at a big moment, at the start of a new story instead of in the middle… perfect. And jumping in right then the book reads fine. It’s a lot of fun. But, folks, you’re actually really really missing out. Having just started ripping through the early issues of the book, getting the backstory, it only makes reading the Whedon stuff more enjoyable.
Let me put it this way. All Whedon fans here: have any of you had a friend who got into watching “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” way late? They fell into watching it on cable and, that being the case, didn’t come in at the start. Maybe they came in somewhere in Season 5 with Glory. And they love it. But you just sit there laughing going, “dude (or dudette), that’s nothing! You’re coming in so late! You missed tons of good stuff! Stuff that, if you watched it first, would make Season 5 more fun to watch.” You have to pity the poor fool for what they’re missing out on. Well, if you came in late on RUNAWAYS, that pitiable fool is you. For instance, I knew part of the back story on the characters was that they were all the children of supervillains who fled from their evil folks. But that description of the story is like summing up Buffy and Angel by saying, “Yeah, Buffy had a boyfriend who sorta turned into a jerk.” It’s so much more involved and so much more entertaining. For instance, the kid’s parents formed a band of criminals called The Pride. Initially I assumed they were just some new random group of bads. But the conceit is they’re an old group of bads and they’re so good at being bad that, unlike your Kingpins or Doctor Dooms, they’ve managed to actually stay off the heroes’ collective radar. Instantly explains why you’ve never heard of them and gives them some creepy badass credibility. Sweet.
So don’t be a schmuck, grab the back issues in graphic novel form and get your ass caught up. The collections aren’t in the comic book sized graphic novels but instead in the more digest sized books, just so you know what you’re looking for.
Now here is the real bitch of this thing. The fly in the ointment, really. When I went out to start buying the books, I actually had to buy a used, slightly dog eared copy of Volume 2. The girl at the counter explained to me that, actually, the RUNAWAYS books were out of print. So, yes, I’m extra crazy because I’m telling you folks to search out out of print books. But do it. Marvel may not be currently cranking out new copies but you should still be able to find copies out there without too much trouble.br> The fact though that these books currently ARE out of print though is why I would also like to address the folks at Marvel. Could you…could you come over here where we can talk quietly? Don’t worry. I just want to talk, quietly and civilly. Okay, you listening? Good. SMACK!!!! What the HELL is wrong with you?!?!? Are you IDIOTS!!! Having these books out of print at this particular time is one of the biggest bonehead moves I’ve ever heard of. I mean, you’re Marvel Comics. I may fault you for a lot of things but the one thing you have always had a flair for is marketing and exploiting your characters to make as much money as possible. I just sat through a summer’s worth of Spider-Man “Back In Black” nonsense in the name of you promoting the latest Spider-Man movie. I’ve watched Peter Parker unmask, Captain America get killed, an annoying Civil War…all of it done in the name of raising the media profile of the comics and hopefully moving more issues. Now pimping isn’t something I’d normally give kudos for but, hey, you guys do seem to enjoy it. And yet, here is a case where you could use your pimpy powers for good and you…you utterly drop the ball! I mean, you have Joss Whedon, a guy with a devoted fan following, take over RUNAWAYS. Clearly the hope is he’d do a good job and bring more eyes to the title. But at the same time, his issues of RUNAWAYS haven’t been coming out on a regular monthly basis. There can be quite a wait between issues.
So, you have a brand new audience for the book sitting and waiting extended periods of time for new issues of the book. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to have back issues of the series available for the book’s brand new readers who are getting restless waiting for new issues? At the minimum you could have the graphic novels available and promote them. If you really want to go crazy you could republish the old issues as RUNAWAYS CLASSIC or some such nonsense. If there’s no new issue for them to pick up this week, give them a reprint they can walk out of the store with. You make extra sales, the readers get to get caught up on the book, appreciate it more, get more devoted to it…it’s win win. So, why would you not take advantage of this situation?
Writer: Kelley Puckett Artist: Drew Johnson Inker: Ray Snyder Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me AmodeoFolks, we may finally have us a SUPERGIRL book.
I’m not going to dig through my back issues, but if memory serves, we first began with the all new, all naked Supergirl (though that may have been SUPERMAN/BATMAN, actually. All I remember is that the book began in a flourish of cheesecake).
Then we had the dreamworld, “kill Kal-el” Supergirl, and the angst-ridden, boy-crazy Supergirl. Don’t forget the don’t-know-who-I-should-be Supergirl. And finally, we had the pawn-of-the-DC-editors Supergirl who has been an uber-loser instead of an uber-mädchen regarding her involvement with the Amazon war. And don’t get me started about the artwork over the past year.
But this issue, we get a Supergirl who has a puzzle. Is shown somewhat twisted affection by someone close and reacts appropriately. Is called to assist and reacts instantly. I absolutely loved those pages.
Then Supergirl gets a quick sit-rep and dives into the action. This part was so abrupt and moved so quickly that I was half-wondering if it wasn’t the kind of cheap dream sequence, the kind that seems to worm its way into this title about every third month. But the action was legit. So okay, I’m buying it.
Then there were the ten pages of nothing but art. And as beautiful as Johnson draws, I was really digging it for the first few pages, and then I wasn’t. And then I thought “I’m going to finish the book before I get off the toilet!” And lo, I did. Standard rule, folks – the average comic should take longer to read than the average trip to the john. I know you female readers are absolutely shocked to learn that men use the bathroom as a reading room, but it’s true. No, we never forget which hand to use for toilet paper, and yes, we’ve heard that line a thousand times and no, you didn’t manage to make it funny, either.
Still, as disappointed as I was in the last half of the book (and why did the tesseract generator thingy not melt in her hand? Is it an adamantium/M&M hybrid?), I’m absolutely encouraged by the first half of the book. Great dialogue. Quick to the action. Neat plot. And all we need is for Supergirl to carry this book on her own without cameos from her more famous cousin and more famous “uncle.” Check out this issue, and don’t be afraid to pick up the next one either if it has “Puckett/Johnson/Snyder” in the upper left corner.