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AICN COMICS REVIEWS SECRET INVASION! INVINCIBLE! CAPTAIN BLASTO! AND MUCH MORE!

#6 6/11/08 #7

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) SECRET INVASION: WHO DO YOU TRUST? ONE-SHOT BEARDS OF OUR FOREFATHERS HC THE ETERNALS #1 INVINCIBLE #50 THE TWELVE #6 dot.comics presents CAPTAIN BLASTO Web Series Big Eyes For the Cape Guy presents COWA! Indie Jones presents… CHEAP SHOTS!

SECRET INVASION: WHO DO YOU TRUST? ONE-SHOT

Writer/Artist: a bunch Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

A one-shot with five small stories, each weaving into the overall invasion. Frankly, I thought this issue rocked. Maybe not rock and rolled, but at least rocked.
"Captain Marvel: Farewell" Writer/Artist: Brian Reed/Lee Weeks The first story gave some insight as to why Captain Mar-vell showed up on Thunderbolt Mountain with fists a-blastin.’ But not much insight. He’s definitely trying to be a hero. But he’s posing as a part of the invading force? Even though almost no one knows he’s a Skrull? And why, out of all the other problems he could tackle, is he taking on the Thunderbolts? I mean, the motivation would be the same: pose as part of the problem to help effect a solution from within. It could also be that he’s about to join the team, and this is how he gets written in. I dunno. So I guess we’ll see have to wait and see.
"Agent Brand: In Plain Sight" Writer/Artist: Mike Carey/Timothy Green III Agent’s Brand’s story was well done, and Timothy Green’s pencils (remember him from the STARLORD mini?) are most definitely welcome. As green-haired femme fatales go, she’s a lot more interesting than Lady Hydra. Or Polaris. Or Doc Samson (who’s basically a green-haired woman when anyone but Ellis is writing him.) Combined. I vote that she gets her own book (Brand, not Samson), but it doesn’t seem like that’s quite on the horizon. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
"Wonder Man & The Beast: Seems Like Old Times" Writer/Artist: Christos Gage/Mike Perkins The Wonder Man/Beast team-up was nice. It reminded me of the mini (which I liked) and Wonder Man’s OWN book, so long ago (which I also liked) and the Bagley mini-series, which…well, I also liked. Yep, I’m a Wonder Man fan, and a fan of the old Beast, as well. The new Beast is too depressing, especially in light of the seventeen part angst-fest in which he was recently featured. I miss the old “stars-and-garters” Beast, even if he is a Skrull. So imagine my surprise at the ending when…well, we still don’t know anything, not really. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
"Marvel Boy: Master of the Cube" Writer/Artist: Zeb Wells/Steve Kurth The Marvel Boy story was unusual. He’s been working to make the prison, where we last saw him, into his own personal army. After a twist or two, the army is done for and so are his plans. The last time we saw him, he was on his own. Now he is again. I would say we have to wait and see, but in this case, I mean we will have to wait and see if any sort of real plot develops around him. Right now, I don’t know who he is as a character. I know that HE doesn’t know either, but the reader should have some clue by now.
"Agents of Atlas: The Resistance" Writer/Artist: Jeff Parker/Leonard Kirk The final story brings the Agents of Atlas back to the forefront of our collective minds. Considering how well received their miniseries was, I can’t believe someone at Marvel hasn’t decided to capitalize on that and give them their own book. We get re-introduced to the various players, and even seen through the eyes of the enemy, they seem a lot more interesting than some characters who have their own books. This is your old-school covert-ops group, a DOOM PATROL for people who don’t have crippling emotional problems. Like I said, I’m hoping this might dovetail into a regular monthly, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. It was certainly nice to see Parker and Kirk handling this story as well as anything they did in the mini.
In summation, I suppose you’re sensing a theme here. Nothing in this book was (as far as we can see currently) critical to the overall SECRET INVASION storyline. Yet several of the stories were compelling and left me wanting to see what happened next. While I was a little annoyed that none of the stories were “done in one,” that doesn’t take away from the fact that the book was (at least 3/5ths and possibly 4/5ths) well-written, well-drawn and entertaining. That is never to be taken for granted.
Dante “Rock-Me” Amodeo has been reading comics for thirty-five years. If it’s Wednesday, he’s probably at the hospital right now watching the birth of his third daughter (another “Rockette!”), so he’ll be taking a break from reviews for a bit. After he makes sure his family is okay, and things stabilize on the home front, he’ll be back. Peace.

BEARDS OF OUR FOREFATHERS: A Collection of WONDERMARK Comic Strips HC

By David Malki! Publisher: Dark Horse Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Usually, I find myself neck deep in superheroes. Some may be surprised to find out that, despite being the Indie Jones and dot.comics guy here at AICN Comics, I still read mostly superhero fare. That’s why when a book comes along that pushes the medium to the brink in an original, smart, and well presented manner, I have to stand up and give praise.
And BEARDS OF OUR FOREFATHERS deserves our praise and then some.
This collection of online comic strips bound and distributed by Dark Horse is filled with hilarity from the moment you crack open the cover to the very last second it takes for you to finish the last page. David Malki not only fills the book with funny comic strips (more on that later), but layers the humor by tossing a little in each corner, a little at the bottom of the page, coming up with gag ads for products that are hinted at in the comic strips. There’s a diagram of different beards. Two copies of an ironic facial hair citation certificate given to people breaking beard laws. A made-up list of previous books by the author, which I would love to see actual print some day (such as CATALOGUE OF SEEPAGES, MOLES I HAVE SEEN, and WARTS OF YOUR MOM). An 8-pg story. A prose piece. And hidden, backwards affirmations and tips from the author telling you that “You can clean a computer keyboard in the dishwasher.” and “Remember how fun it is to imagine stuff.”
So much work has been put into this book to make it entertaining from inch first to inch last that it almost makes one forget the hilarious comic strips inside.
I laughed so hard at some of strips (especially the ones I chose to highlight in this review – click on them to see why). It’s that irreverent type of Adult Swim looniness that either you get and laugh your dick off at, or you don’t and you automatically dismiss it. The latter are people beyond reason and probably aren’t here reading AICN Comics anyway. The rest of you will most likely enjoy seeing David Malki go nuts as he dusts off age-old drawings and puts modern hilarity to them.
Sure, like all humor, there are a few misses here and there, but I’d say 80% of the laughs hit hard in this book, which is a pretty good percentage. This hardback edition rings in at $14.95 American. Those of you who are easily offendable might want to wait outside. The rest of us are going to be enjoying the shit out of this belly-laugh of a book. Check out the author’s website for more mad-cappery.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, reviewer and co-editor of AICN Comics for close to seven years. Look for his first published work in MUSCLES & FIGHTS 3 (AVAILABLE NOW!) from Cream City Comics. The Bug’s Review Fu is better than your Review Fu.

ETERNALS #1

Writers: Charles & Daniel Knauf Artist: Daniel Acuna Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

I honestly don't know what I expected out of this comic. I really, really don't. Well, okay, I knew what to expect plot-wise; we were handed the setup on a silver platter by Misters Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. with their somewhat...eclectic take on these Kirby creations. Hell, the final issue of that mini-series is about the only one I remember of it, it was sadly so middle-of-the-road overall, from a story aspect at least, because the JRJR art was pretty much lights out. But here I am again, sucked in by the lure of Kirby re-imaginings and a creative team I have a respectful appreciation for (I still maintain “Carnivale” would have gone down as one of the best things HBO's ever done had it got a full run). Sadly, though, it looks like we're still stranded on the side of that same road as before.
The setup that I mentioned before has potential, but is a little, I don't want to say cliché, but it rings of "been there, done that". Basically, it's the end of world as we know it, as the devastating cosmic race known as The Horde are on their way to devour the Earth, unless the current batch of Eternals can find and awaken their brethren to stop it. But the problem with this new series debut is the same problem that I had with the previous mini - despite the impending doom, these characters aren't terribly active. Which, I guess you'll have that with characters of such a powerful and godlike nature and the kind of quest they're on, but that goes for any number of superheroes out there and it's just an intrinsic part you have to deal with. Some interesting personality needs to be invested into them, and there's really only some glimpses of that here and there. Gaiman played up the "man finds out he's a god" angle that he's built a career on, now something needs to switch that up again and make them more identifiable.
As for the actual plot progress of the book, I really didn't see much happening here either. Makkari and Sersi have a fight. Another untapped Eternal is introduced in a rather lecherous way, and dissenting Eternal Druig gets in a tussle with Ikaris and Thena as both sides vie to unlock him and bring him to their side. That's about it. And I guess once you consider the overlaying plot of the book, I guess there kind of has to be a lot of that, and that isn't a very appealing prospect, especially since oddly enough there's already another Marvel book in THOR dealing with a variation of that concept. And if there's a reason that book succeeds where ETERNALS is already failing it would be - you guessed it - the personality JMS has instilled in all the Asgardians, and the character of Donald Blake, etc, etc. Not to say that this book can't and won't get there, but it's definitely going to have an uphill battle, especially with an established house book already doing what it does and better. I'll probably give this series a couple more issues to change my mind (and it's not all for, uh, naught as except for a couple facial expression gaffs Acuna's art in this is actually rather gorgeous) but I don't see ETERNALS having much of a lifespan on my pull list.

INVINCIBLE #50

Writer: Robert Kirkman Artist: Ryan Ottley Publisher: Image Reviewer: Optimous Douche

Each time I open the pages of a comic I can expect one of two things: Either the title is so packed with intense action that it feels like the panels will start bleeding on my living room floor, or the book is wrought with touchy feely character introspection by people sporting spandex. Generally speaking, you have to wait until the next issue for the pendulum to swing back one way or the other. That is of course unless you’re reading INVINCIBLE.
For the past fifty issues, Kirkman has fluidly wed enough action and heart so you’re not only riveted to the page, but you can’t help genuinely caring about each character that occupies the mans’ deconstruction of the Superman mythology. It can be done in 22 pages folks, I swear; INVINCIBLE is the proof. For every minute the eponymous hero spends thwarting a cosmic threat, you can expect equal time to be given to exposing that fact that his heart is about an invincible as Kleenex.
As much as I love this series and this issue, I would not recommend it as a jumping on point for new readers. Each panel is dedicated to those of us that have been along for the whole ride. Take for instance Ottley’s cover. Any comic fan can appreciate the goopy blobs of crimson blood dripping from the heroes’ fists as he pummels what looks like the Crypt Keeper; it’s a damn striking scene on the all white background. For true fans though, this cover is more than a game of Depends Piñata or a pretty picture; before I even opened the book I knew an era was about to end.
In the first of this issues’ three stories, we see Invincible’s trust once again shattered. This time it comes from his surrogate father figure Cecil Stedman, the head of the U.S. clandestine peace-keeping organization. Kirkman manipulates shades of gray throughout this story like a kitten with a ball of string, making salient arguments for both Cecil and Invincible’s points of view. As a reader you end up siding with Invincible, but as an American taxpaying adult, you kind of understand the lines Cecil crossed to ensure that peace is kept at all times.
Not that it was necessary, but the second story chronicling the origin of Cecil Stedman helped to keep Cecil on the side of Angels and was a damn fun read. By peering under Cecil’s hood we find out the life events that made the old bastard so mistrusting and so steadfast in his mission for global peace. You also find out that he and Invincible are not that far apart in their respective codes of honor. Also there’s a great INVINCIBLE prequel moment at the end of this story between Cecil and Invincible’s Father the first day he landed on earth. Again, if you’re a fan you’ll get it.
I’ll admit the whole vignette dedicated to Science Dog left me somewhat unfulfilled. I’m sure it will be redeemed in a later issue, but after the first two spectacular stories, Science Dog felt a bit silly and misplaced.
Congratulations to the team from Image for making this one of my first read titles on the weeks it comes out. I can only hope INVINCIBLE continues to gain momentum as it makes its way to the centennial mark. And I also would like to applaud you for your self-deprecation and modesty with your tag line, “Probably the best superhero comic book in the universe.” I would say that even on a bad day this book is ten times better than a certain title that came out recently claiming to be the best damn comic book ever in 35 point font type. I’ll give you a hint--the title rhymes with scmick-scmass and the writer’s name rhymes with Babar.
When Optimous Douche isn’t reading comics and misspelling the names of 80’s icons, he “transforms” into a corporate communications guru. Optimous is looking for artistry help, critical feedback and a little industry insight to get his original book AVERAGE JOE up, up and on the shelves. What if the entire world had super powers? Find out in the blog section of Optimous’ MySpace page to see some preview pages and leave comments.

THE TWELVE #6 (of 12)

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski Artist: Chris Weston Publisher: Marvel Reviewed by: BottleImp

THE TWELVE is not a Marvel comic.
Sure, it’s published by Marvel, set in the same world as other Marvel books, and features characters created by Marvel (back when the company was still called Timely), but it’s not REALLY a Marvel book.
THE TWELVE is set in New York City, home to Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and countless other heroes and villains. In a typical Marvel comic, Spidey or some other do-gooder would inevitably cross paths with the title character(s) of a new series (sometimes as early as the first issue), and more often than not, they would team up to fight some already-established super villain such as Doctor Doom or Hobgoblin.
THE TWELVE has no such crossovers. There have been no guest spots from Spiderman, Captain America, or Tony Stark (thank god). Wolverine is right out. The villains that have been faced by the heroes tend to be either mundane purse-snatchers, gang members, or the occasional giant robot-thing. This is not a Marvel comic.
What this series is, is the best superhero deconstruction to come along since Alan Moore invented the idea more than 15 years ago with a little book called WATCHMEN.
Straczynski has taken the “hero out of time” theme that is closest associated with Captain America and applied it to twelve different people, giving them different backgrounds, motivations, and reactions to the world of the 21st century. When Cap was revived in the 1960s, I believe the extent of his culture shock was something along the lines of, “Wow—clothing sure has gotten strange since I’ve been frozen!” JMS has done a masterful job of applying real-world issues to these previously one-dimensional comic book heroes. Mister E was forced to face the consequences of both his absence and his hiding his Jewish heritage; the Laughing Mask is in prison for his killing a gangster sixty years ago, when justice was simply black and white; the Blue Blade dreamed of stardom only to discover that he’s waaaayyy too out of touch to be a part of today’s entertainment; Captain Wonder, grieving for his lost family, forces himself to be a superhero and fight crime without ever stopping, just to keep himself from coming back to dwell on his loss. And Dynamic Man’s bigotry (which is probably on par for most Americans back in the pre-civil rights years of the ‘40s) and his dissatisfaction with the America of today are starting to push him over the edge. Some pretty tough adjustments to be made—a lot more than getting used to Beatle boots and miniskirts.
Another reason this isn’t a typical Marvel comic? Rockman’s origin, previously given as a typically goofy Golden Age romp through mysterious underground cities, is truly revealed, and it’s as human and heartbreaking as the death of Ben Parker from Amazing Fantasy #15… wait, maybe THE TWELVE IS a Marvel comic… just a better one.
The writing is amazing, Weston’s artwork (particularly his facial expressions) is fantastic, and the story just keeps on building an almost fearful sense of excitement and suspense. I said it before and I’ll say it again: don’t miss out on what will surely be remembered as the best comic of 2008.

CAPTAIN BLASTO Web Series

First two episodes found here. Writer/director/editor/starring: Christopher Preksta Story by Christopher Preksta, Aaron Kleiber, & Ben Shull New episodes weekly. Reviewer: Ambush Bug

One of the coolest things about reviewing for this here dot.comics section of AICN Comics (other than the fact that you get to read comics free online) is that you never know what you’re going to get when you click that link. I get emails all of the time to check out this webcomic or that webcomic. Last week, I saw an especially peculiar email with a link to what I thought was a webcomic called CAPTAIN BLASTO. It was to my surprise that after following the link, I found out that this was an online comic/live action series and not a simple comic. After watching a few of the episodes, I couldn’t wait to pass the word on to the rest of you to enjoy this mind-numbingly fun story.
CAPTAIN BLASTO is the childhood hero of Colin Carter, who lives a dull, and predictable life. One day, he gets sick of the hum-drum-ity of it all and concocts a plan. Donning a homemade costume and enlisting the aid of the janitor from his school to aid him in this scheme, an all-new, all-different Captain Blasto is born. The plan is simple: the janitor acts like a criminal, does a criminal thing, and then Captain Blasto swoops in and saves the day. In the end, life isn’t so tedious and our hero gets to bathe in the fame and fortune of hero-dom.
While watching this web series, I was surprised by the quality of the story and the direction. This is no fan-fic film you see as you wander through YouTube or a Convention room floor. There are really impressive production values at work. The story wallows in fun. Its characters are having a blast. The humor is smart and crisp, like an extremely intelligent head of lettuce. Camera angles are skewed and exciting. The screen sections itself off into panels (a helluva lot more effectively than Ang Lee’s HULK) and fits the fun mood laid out. I love the mixture of comic book drawings with the live action looniness. If I were to pitch this to a big time Hollywood exec, I’d say it’s CLERKS meets FIGHT CLUB; a light-hearted romp about the drudgery of human existence and the lengths man will go to crawl out from that drudge. It’s also pretty funny when Blasto pounds the would-be criminal with a trash can over and over.
This live action comic strip is going to be updated weekly. Two episodes are already available and I had a chance to preview two more episodes. Each episode is better than the next.
I laughed out loud tons of times as Blasto beats the shit out of his opponents and stages his capers. The story is just beginning. It looks as if Blasto has a lot more story to it and as of issue four, our fake hero and villains are just getting started. With enough episodes put together, this would make one damn fine movie. Get in on the ground floor and see what I’m talking about. It’s got laughs that made me chuckle even after multiple viewings. Don’t miss this one. New episodes are going to drop every week. It’s freakin’ free and worth so much more. Check out the first episode. I guarantee you’ll be hooked.

COWA!

By Akira Toriyama To be released by VIZ Media July 1, 2008 Reveiwer: Scott Green

While COWA! is far from meritless, its moment might have passed. In 1997, it was the first of Akira Toriyama's manga to run a complete volume since concluding GRAGON BALL (DRAGON BALL Z was called DRAGON BALL in its Japanese manga run.) When DRAGON BALL had heat and the nature of post DBZ Toriyama works were not overly familiar, COWA! represented a prospect that was quite intriguing. In 2008 even if North American readers haven't had access to many of Toriyama's short, goofy post-DRAGON BALL works, they've received a representative sample in Sand Land. Between the diminishment of the name "Akira Toriyama" as DRAGON BALL's popularity has at least in part receded, and a prior representative sample on the book shelf, COWA! is not as attractive as it might have once been.
Toyiama's volume length works from his post DRAGON BALL period, including SAND LAND, COWA! and KAJIKA seem to try to recapture the magic of early DRAGON BALL, in which a young hero quested through a wondrous world, unbound by the long form tournament structure of serial fight manga. COWA! in particular grafts DRAGON BALL's notion of an odd, fearless young hero with Dr. Slump's premise of a strange community. Its lead Paifu is a cherubic little monster, who is half vampire, half were-koala. The vampire half is the side that usually manifests, with Paifu appearing as a rosy cheeked, shirtless mini Lugosi. Like Goku's transformation in DRAGON BALL, when Paifu is confronted with a cross, the little guy turns into a raging, not quite hulking, fanged koala person.
The earlier part of the manga is weighed more towards the Dr. Slump side of the formula; with Paifu and his ghost buddy Jose Rodriguez literally farting around. A representative of the shaggy dog jokes consists of Paifu's shapely Morticia Adams mother sending her son to pick up a watermelon, Paifu pocketing the money, stealing a watermelon, giving the stolen water melon to a sad sack human kid, convincing Jose to disguise himself as a melon, until finally, Jose's farting gives away the ruse.
The majority of COWA! is structured around Paifu, Jose, Paifu's "rival" Arpon and renegade Sumo/presumed murderer Maru-Yama's quest across the land to retrieve medicine manufacted by the Witch of Horned-Owl Mountain as a cure for the village's outbreak of Monster Flu. In Toriyama tradition, the journey is punctuated by just about anything that the author and/or the audience might find interesting. Even if the story is structured around a goal, it is paced for chapters in which it can unapologetically indulge in its juvenile fascinations: stopping for beetles, beating on aggressive low lives, helping a Bruce Lee doppelganger.
When creators like NARUTO's Masashi Kishimoto or ONE PIECE's Eiichiro Oda credit Toriyama as an influence, they are generally referring to the wonder of seeing DRAGON BALL's Goku act out the famous “Journey to the West” epic, fighting dinosaurs one chapter, mummies the next, martial arts assassins and Native Americans in the next. In theory, COWA!'s sort of short, condensed work should have been perfect for this king of strange adventure. The off beat, but iconic look of Toriyama's monsters and miscreants has a contagiously fun charm. However, Toyimama does not seem to be over his DRAGON BALL exhaustion. The ridiculousness is more forced than the natural ease demonstrated in Dr. Slump or the pre-Z part of DRAGON BALL, as if he was pressuring himself to recapture his pre-wary youth. The convolutions of these stories do not need to make sense, but they do need proper comedic pacing. Instead, COWA! latches DRAGON BALL-lite action onto meandering jokes. The results might interest the Toriyama faithful, but otherwise, Dr. Slump or maybe the VIZBig re-compilations of DRAGON BALL are more satisfying choices.
Scott Green has been writing for AICN ANIME for close to seven years. If you like what you see here and love anime & manga, be sure to check out his latest AICN ANIME column here.

RISERS #5 Alterna Comics

This is the final issue of one of the finest zombie comics of the year. While other comics focus on the chaos and horror you’ve seen a million times in Romero’s outbreak films and his copycats, this one switches the perspective and tells the story from the point of view of the dead. And it’s a sad and dread-filled tale at that. I guess that describes the feeling I got from this story: dread. The moody art by Kurt Belcher really sets a somber mood for writer/creator Martin Fischer to let loose the scares and thrills. There’s a really effective scene in this book where a zombie pleads from an operating table to a doctor to let her live. It’s a heart-breaking scene which speaks a lot about the human condition and the callousness one can have when blinded by stereotypes. This book casts the zombies as a group of people persecuted against. It really is a nice flip-side to all of the shambling mounds chasing groups of people comics that litter the shelves. If you’re looking for a zombie tale with a little more heft to it, this is definitely one to seek out. - Ambush Bug

NIGHT AND FOG #1 Studio 407

Even though this issue is mainly dedicated to setting up all of the players in order for the plot to actually occur, the scenario is pretty damn sweet. A secret government facility is dedicated to building a better super-soldier. An ex-military man leaves shore with a crew on a fishing boat. A storm is a brewin’ and there’s some unnatural science going on. Sounds like the right ingredients for a pretty kick @$$ story…and it is. Writers Alex Leung and Matthew Bradford take their time in describing the experiments the military has been conducting in this lab, which sets a nice foreboding mood for the book. This book is touting itself as a “Hammer film meets ALIENS” which is a high standard to live up to, but the set-up looks very promising and the gritty art by Roberto Castro definitely delivers in tension and thrills. I’m going to keep my eye on this one to see if it lives up its hype. So far so good, though. - Ambush Bug

THE MONOCLE & JIMMY SPECS #1 R&D Comics

A superhero version of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN? Only in Indie Jones will you find a tale like this, folks. It’s actually a pretty poignant tale of a pair of superheroes; one a master detective, the other his faithful ward. But this isn’t some kind of over-the-top AMBIGUOUSLY GAY DUO type tale. It’s more of a mature tale of regret and sorrow. The issue switches between the past and present as the Monocle looks back to a simpler time as he and Jimmy Specs thwart a crime in the past. The Monocle seems to be living a quiet solitary life; one filled with sadness communicated capably with silent panels by artist Rikki Niehaus and writer Denis Faye. The pale and dark color palette helps intensify the morose feelings that hang above every panel. I was impressed with this well crafted and heart wrenching tale. This isn’t the type of story you’d normally find in comics and it’s definitely not presented in the stereotypical way Garth Ennis likes to portray his gay characters. This is a quiet and deftly written/drawn story that resonates well after you pick up the book. If you’re feeling adventurous and open-minded, give this one a try. - Ambush Bug

PILOT SEASON: GENIUS #1 Top Cow

There are some that may be intimidated by the content in this, one of Top Cow’s first issue “Pilot Season” issues. A brilliant military and strategic mind, much like the brainchild of Napoleon, Hannibal, Patton, is born and raised in South Central Los Angeles and starts an uprising against a corrupt system. It’s one of those scenarios that’ll be sure to make suburban white American readers cringe a bit. But this first issue seems to handle this heavy concept with a serious tone and never hams it up for shock value or preachy reasons. I like the imagery as our star genius, Destiny Ajaye, is able to see what’s going to happen three or four moves ahead of her opponents. The art by Afua Richardson is extremely strong here with Cully Hamner/Tony Harris-esque mixes of exaggerated body posturings coupled with minimalistic lines suggesting dynamic shapes and movements. The writing is crisp too, from the guys who brought you MONSTER ATTACK NETWORK; Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman. I haven’t read many of these “Pilot Season” books, and it’s up to the readers to decide which one moves on to become an actual series next year. All I know is that this is a strong candidate. We previewed the book in last Monday’s SHOOT THE MESSENGER Column. Check it out. - Bug

SALVATION RUN #7 GOTHAM UNDERGROUND #9 DC Comics

That’s the problem with the limited-series format and large, unwieldy casts: in the end, most every piece is put back pretty much where it started, no character has really grown or changed, and the whole thing leaves you wondering why you spent so much money. With SALVATION RUN, you had a few neat conversations and a few villains died (we’re told) but one of them is Solomon Grundy, and that never works out. Obviously the Martian Manhunter makes it safely off the planet (too bad he’s dead somewhere else.) With GOTHAM UNDERGROUND, we saw a turf war that gave us an endless body count of nobodies. The only good thing to come out of it was an added flair that few people see in the Penguin, and like the extra depth given to the Riddler, I hope that flair is not soon forgotten. In the end, RUN was moot but madcap, while UNDERGROUND was semi-moot and at least had one in-depth character examination. But that was mostly at the end, in this issue, and probably not worth the eight issue run-up. (Well, at least it wasn’t a 51 issue run-up.) Overall, the writing itself was good, and the art saved both issues, it’s just the resolutions (or lack thereof) that stuck in my craw. - Rock-Me

SKAAR: SON OF HULK #1 Marvel Comics

I had a lot of fun reading SKAAR. Sure, there’s not much of a personality yet for our young gamma-fueled powerhouse, but as far as an intergalactic barbarian tale goes, it delivers with brutality, gore, action, and power. Greg Pak already mapped out a pretty detailed world when the Hulk took over this alien planet, now he’s got a new character to wander around in it. The true star of this book is Ron Garney, who’s art has never looked better. If you like CONAN or HULK or TOR any other book where actions speak louder than words, this is the book for you. Don’t look for much intellectualism, but this book delivers the alien barbarism in spades. - Bug

MADMAN ATOMIC COMICS #9 Image Comics

This time last year I was going nuts over this book because of an absolutely epic art job in issue number three depicting Mike Allred mimicking homage-style over a hundred creators past and present. Now this issue has me going giddy over yet another artistic endeavor as Allred shows a fondness for two-page splashes here. All eleven of them take place in sequence as it shows a flow down one solitary street as the Madman and pals fight some rather odd looking creatures. And then there's the flow inside the flow, as Allred uses multiple imaging to show Madman in action as he interacts with the environment and the flying enemies making this honestly probably the most kinetic individual comic book I think I've ever experienced, at least from an art standpoint. And it's not exactly a light read either, as Allred pumps more of the introspection and occasional existentialism this series is known for in between all the fancy acrobatics. This series never ceases to amaze me. It's that simple. – Humphrey

Ambush Bug & Sleazy G are heading to WIZARDWORLD CHICAGO at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on June 26-29…are you?
Check out who else is going to be there…


Guest of Honor: Warren Ellis Special Appearance by Todd McFarlane Actress Missy Peregrym from REAPER & HEROES The Original Image founders reunite. Also in attendance: Alex Ross, Brian Michael Bendis, Geoff Johns, Joe Quesada, Alex Maleev, Tony Daniel, Adi Granov, Jim Calafiore, @$$Hole Patron Saint Gail Simone, Ethan Van Sciver, Dan Didio, Peter David, Bob Layton, Greg Rucka, Sean McKeever, Lou Ferigno, George “The Animal” Steele & other Classic Wrestling Superstars, Boba Fett, American Gladiators, and even the dude who played Cousin It in the ADDAMS FAMILY. And don’t forget the ever popular many, many more.

Be sure to click here for more information.


”Hey, where’s the Secret Tournament of Infinite @$$-Kickery?!?!?!”
Well, we announced the winner on Monday, where were you? Click here to find out the winner of our first ever tournament and thanks to all of the participants. It was a lot of fun and we’re working on another tournament real soon.


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Readers Talkback
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  • June 18, 2008, 1:13 a.m. CST

    I am so buying Beards of Our Forefathers- Awesome!

    by krushjudgement

    And Mike Allred is my hero.

  • June 18, 2008, 3:25 a.m. CST

    Last week was hella light. So is this week...

    by DuncanHines

    But, man oh man, Skaar: Son Of Hulk kicked some ass. This book is what I've been waiting for since Busiek and Nord left Conan.

  • June 18, 2008, 6:06 a.m. CST

    Mcpoops

    by DuncanHines

    yeah, they still publish Wizard. My pal Toney still gets it sometimes and I read his copy on downtime at work. It's alright, when it's someone else's copy. Or if you subscribe (it's like 6 bucks an issue now, vs like 30 or something for a year's subscription.) It's definitely not worth that cover price though.

  • June 18, 2008, 6:39 a.m. CST

    Captain Blasto!

    by MorpheusTheSandman

    Rules!!!!!! It's like Kick-Ass for kids!

  • June 18, 2008, 7:20 a.m. CST

    Recent Batman releases

    by mothandrust

    Is anyone reading the latest Batman titles? Where is Batman R.I.P. going? I mean, what on earth are they doing with the Bat continuity in this, the year of the bat? Am I getting the vibe that there's some big changes for Bruce, or will everything trickle back to the default setting? <p> Bruce Wayne has more girlfriends than I can keep up with and seems to be letting the batseed flow freely. <p> And you gotta check out Confidential. Batgirl and Catwoman are nude and bumping into nude swingers at a hedonists club party. Man, I love Gotham.

  • June 18, 2008, 7:24 a.m. CST

    Wizard's great

    by mothandrust

    The recent 200th edition was a must have mag. What do you want from Wizard? A fold out bikini pin-up superheroine or sealed section? Ummm, not a bad idea actually.

  • June 18, 2008, 7:41 a.m. CST

    Now I feel bad for Grant Morrison

    by Laserhead

    This isn't exactly new, but I finally read his Newsarama interview for Final Crisis #1. Holy shit. Q: "So, this is like the third time in a few months that Orion's died, and these two big event series were all about the New Gods and them dying, including Darkseid. Why does Superman act like it's a huge thing to find a dead New God, when he's been watching them all die for the last eight months?" A: "Um... what?" So the story he had planned (confusing as it is) has basically been spoiled before it could even really begin, because the editors failed to maintain the slightest continuity between projects, and even allowed other projects to steal the thunder of Morrison's idea. I'm not a continuity stickler, but when a story happened LAST MONTH, it should probably take a little while before its entirely negated. Plus, after talking up how ahead they were on the work, we learn that with FC#4, Carlos Pacheco will be sharing art duties. I've been much, much happier with the way DC handles its characters, and only read Brubaker at Marvel, so it's pretty disappointing that the hugest-event-ever at DC is already feeling like an anti-climax. If I was Morrison, I'd be furious with editorial. Shouldn't editorial heads be rolling at DC?

  • June 18, 2008, 7:46 a.m. CST

    God Damn

    by Series7

    I loved Captain Blasto for the PS. Even if it sucked.

  • June 18, 2008, 8:09 a.m. CST

    Man, those Beards comics sucked.

    by rev_skarekroe

    Like Red Meat, but they forgot to make it funny.

  • June 18, 2008, 8:31 a.m. CST

    that Quicksilver statue

    by Gatsbys West Egg Omlet

    is pretty bad ass.

  • June 18, 2008, 8:59 a.m. CST

    THE TWELVE KICKS FUCKING ASS!!!!!

    by kingben

    THE TWELVE is bar none the best series of '08. Final Crisis still has alot to do, and secret invasion i'am still on the fence about. But THE TWELVE has shown me time, and time again that it still fucking kinks ass

  • June 18, 2008, 9:06 a.m. CST

    DC Editorial is suffering from trade-itis

    by RealDoubleJ

    It's true! It started off with Infinite Crisis having 4-5 spin-off graphic novels leading up to Infinite Crisis & then they posted a couple of "Crisis Aftermath" books but the main draw were the 4 volumes of 52 (which sold a lot). Now someone at DC had the bright idea that not only could they do another 4 volume series (Countdown to the Final Crap) with it's own spin-off trades (Adventure, Mystery, Havok, New Gods, Specials, Salvation Run, Underground, the search for Ray Palmer where they didn't actually find him in their own book) but that'll lead into a Crisis so large that it's going to affect all the major books (again) & have even more tales to flesh out the universe (again) & an already planned retrospective series (...kind of again). If they really want people to get caught up in this fever they gotta start spelling things out along the spines (House of M) or giving us a multicolour rainbow (Civil War) to pimp out are bookshelves. If they're gonna treat fans of COMICS like money-grubby children they can at least have the decency to paint it up a bit prettier.

  • June 18, 2008, 9:06 a.m. CST

    FC Laserhead

    by optimous_douche

    Couldn't agree more, it was actually one of the reasons I roasted the title in my review last week.<p> http://www.aintitcool.com/node/36963#1

  • June 18, 2008, 9:08 a.m. CST

    Final Crisis 4 onwards= pathetic

    by messi

    fill in artist. how pathetic. this is supposed to be a mega event. Like someone else said, it's the new rolling stones record with half the songs being covers by eric clapton. lame. you fail dc. marvel wins again.

  • June 18, 2008, 9:30 a.m. CST

    Eternals

    by optimous_douche

    Hated it despite liking the mini-series.<p> I think I made teh mistake of reading this right after New Universal, which in my opinion was vastly superior.<p> Granted, two different books, but they are both trying to set up a new stable of "heroes".

  • June 18, 2008, 9:39 a.m. CST

    Captain Blasto

    by Tardispilot

    This is actually an independent movie that played in film festivals about 2 years ago.

  • June 18, 2008, 10:36 a.m. CST

    Invincible 50 was disappointing

    by v1cious

    seriously, we all pretty much saw what was coming after 49. it didn't offer any real surprising developments. also, was it necessary to have a damn 10 page autobiography of Cecil Steadman? I can't believe this is what we were handed after months of delays.

  • June 18, 2008, 10:38 a.m. CST

    DC editors

    by Laserhead

    The actual size of the editorial incompetence with FC just boggles my mind, the more I think about it. Think about if this situation occurred in association with 'Secret Invasion': it'd be the equivalent of someone doing a high-profile 'Death of the Skrulls' mini-series immediately prior, wherein all the Skrulls are killed, while also having a year-long, weekly miniseries called, I don't know, 'Deadline to Secret Invasion', which also features the death of the Skrulls, but in a completely different way, and ends with all Skrulls everywhere wiped from existence. THEN-- 'Secret Invasion' shows up a few weeks later, with absolutely no knowledge of the contents of the two previous series, nor much awareness of the fact that Skrulls don't seem like such a novel story-device anymore, since they've been overexposed and pushed down readers throats for the past year, leaving Bendis to say, "They did what--? Why the fuck didn't an editor tell me?"

  • June 18, 2008, 10:42 a.m. CST

    Alright: I need to start letting things go

    by Laserhead

    but to start me on my process of healing, somebody needs to be fired at DC. Somebody named Didio.

  • June 18, 2008, 10:44 a.m. CST

    Twelve is much better than Superpowers

    by Squashua

    I still read Twelve. I dropped Superpowers. That's about all there is to it.

  • June 18, 2008, 10:46 a.m. CST

    ...

    by blackthought

    egg white omelette. cup of soy chocolate milk. slice of whole wheat with apricot preserves. cup of green tea. i feel full. you?

  • June 18, 2008, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Yay!

    by saddael

    The manga bit was really truncuated!

  • June 18, 2008, 10:57 a.m. CST

    laserhead

    by saddael

    You wanna be healed? then repeat after me "i must let the buckets go, buckets are a good way for superheroes to fight a fire..."

  • June 18, 2008, 11:18 a.m. CST

    Invincible

    by optimous_douche

    I really didn't expect him to completely sever ties with Stedman.<p> I still satnd by my review, I liked the middle story and was luke warm to the third.

  • June 18, 2008, 11:44 a.m. CST

    Twelve

    by kungfuhustler84

    is definitely one of my favorite comics out right now, along with Iron Fist, Cap, and Omega the Unknown. It definitely has the Watchmen vibe. I am ignoring all of Marvel's crossovers, in the hopes that they will stop trying to get as much money as they can, and start making stories as good as that one.

  • June 18, 2008, 12:05 p.m. CST

    BottleImp

    by Jonas Grumpy

    Spider-Man. SpiderHYPHENMan. Come on!<BR><BR> Also, WATCHMEN was over 20 years ago, not merely 15. You're technically accurate, but I'm detail-oriented. Who edits this stuff?

  • June 18, 2008, 12:27 p.m. CST

    Whens the new

    by Series7

    Deadpool series come out damnit!

  • June 18, 2008, 12:40 p.m. CST

    Series7

    by WarpedElements

    Deadpool's new series comes out in September. I've spoken to a lot of people pissed off that he's not the random "CHIMICHUNGA" Deadpool he was in Cable & Deadpool. But I think it was Fabian who messed it up and brought us a random "Hur hur i did or thought something outraaaaaaaageous" type of Deadpool. Way is going to focus on that Wade isn't crazy, he's just dealing with the hand he's dealt, through cynical somewhat twisted eyes.

  • June 18, 2008, 12:59 p.m. CST

    Mr. Mcpoops

    by krushjudgement

    Yeah, they still publish Wizard. My problem with it is they are way too ass-kissy. They don't act like real journalists. I don't even think they review anything anymore.

  • June 18, 2008, 1:21 p.m. CST

    Wizard way too ass-kissy?

    by MrSensitive

    Was the @$$hole interview with Joe Q. where he was let off the hook for the "One More Day/Brand New Day" stories just ass-kissy enough?

  • June 18, 2008, 1:48 p.m. CST

    Jonas Grumpy...

    by bottleimp

    Correct on WATCHMEN, sir-- I had a brain fart while I was writing that review and flashed back ten years or so. And to me, he will ALWAYS be "Spiderman... Murray Spiderman, from Brooklyn."

  • June 18, 2008, 1:53 p.m. CST

    Dan DiDio is killing DC...

    by bottleimp

    Did anyone else read the back page of this week's DC comics? Apparently Adam Hughes was to draw DC's most famous female characters in evening gowns to be used as a poster, and DiDio did not want to include Catwoman. Harley Quinn is in there, for chrissakes, along with some redheaded bimbo (who I have NO clue as to her identity) with her crotch splayed open! And he didn't want Catwoman because he felt that readers were tired of her! Luckily Hughes went ahead and drew her anyways, but this really backs up Chuck Dixon's statement about the editorial idiocy at DC right now.

  • June 18, 2008, 3:17 p.m. CST

    bottleimp

    by Jonas Grumpy

    Oh, THAT Spiderman! I thought you meant the one from Queens.<BR><BR> I accept your apology.

  • June 18, 2008, 3:34 p.m. CST

    MrSensitive

    by krushjudgement

    Sorry, I should've been more specific. The entire comic book press is ass-kissy, not just Wizard. CBR, aintitcool, etc.. all guilty of being too fanboy-ish.

  • June 18, 2008, 9 p.m. CST

    Fanboys in the comic industry????

    by BangoSkank

    WHAT! <p> Next you'll tell me there's cheating in professional sports! <p> Say it ain't fuckin' so, Joe.

  • June 19, 2008, 2:44 a.m. CST

    Final Crisis

    by DuncanHines

    Y'know... I just realized an hour ago or so that I think I am a little pissed that J.G. Jones isn't drawing the whole thing and Pacheco is handling some of the art chores. At first I didn't mind. I figured, have Jones handle certain characters and plot aspects, say, the cosmic shit, and have Pacheco handle the earthbound elements. Their page drafting skills are similar enough that this could work, and still kick a little ass. BUT!- It came to me that Morrison keeps stressing how much Kirby inspired this. Hell, he pretty much says that everyone reading this should read those awesome Fourth World Omnibus books first (which I have, and man, they're great. And it definitely clarifies elements of Final Crisis... I'm getting off topic...) ...Spirit of Kirby. Hey! J.G. Jones! Jack Kirby wrote, drew and edited about 60 pages a month! AND he was being paid a HELL of a lot less than you are for your work! Tighten up, man and handle this shit! Don't throw around words like "Tribute to Jack Kirby" without paying tribute to the man's work ethic as well. Come on, man!

  • June 19, 2008, 8:20 a.m. CST

    Define Fanboy

    by optimous_douche

    I think we’re pretty damn objective here.<p> Case in point; I have amazing respect for Chris Claremont, but I have hated his recent work to the point I avoided his signing table at WW Philly.<p> Now if I was pandering or being school girlish I would have walked right up, regardless of my feelings on his work. Plus, I would have offered a much more favorable review of GENEXT.<p> Don’t confuse respect with kowtowing to creators in interviews. If you’re a d-bag in an interview you’ll never get the chance to sit down with anyone again.<p> Want to know why book reviews are a week after the fact, because we write real reviews, where other sites’ reviews are essentially press releases and synopses.

  • June 19, 2008, 11:25 a.m. CST

    Respect vs. kowtowing

    by MrSensitive

    Acting like a jackass to a interviewee and calling someone on bad art/storylines are two different things...especially if you have no problem ripping someone's work before they take the time to grant you an interview. Harry just ripped Mike Myers and Paramount new assholes in his review of "Love Guru", you think the studio or the actor won't give Knowles the day of time again? Come on...

  • June 19, 2008, 1:40 p.m. CST

    Not Quite Sure

    by optimous_douche

    That even Harry will be getting a ton of calls after that anal reaming.<p> I thought that movie looked stupid from even the previews.

  • June 19, 2008, 1:42 p.m. CST

    Comics aren't movies, Mr.Sensitive.

    by SleazyG.

    They have a lot less money for comps, and a lot less time for interviews and stuff. So yeah, if we rip into somebody too hard in an interview, they (or their publisher) won't come back.<p> Don't assume that means we didn't *ask* hard questions, though; what tends to happen is we send out a big batch of questions to a creator or an EIC or whatever, and they pick and choose which they respond to, then we run the responses. Do I wish Quesada had confronted some of our tougher questions head on instead of ignoring them? You bet. But we ran with what he did respond to because it seemed silly to hold back on all of it because he skipped a few things here and there.<p> And I should point out, in light of what I just said, that I've never backed down in a review and said any less than I meant out of fear it would somehow put comps or reviews or advance preview pages in jeopardy, nor would I want any of our other reviewers to do so. We're still straightforward, honest, and sincere in our reviews. If we think it sucks, we tell you why, and if we like it, ditto.

  • June 19, 2008, 2:06 p.m. CST

    DuncanHines

    by steverodgers

    Agreed. If you are going to pay tribute to the king, then do it by drawing your ass off - it means more when we see it in the panels.

  • June 19, 2008, 5:16 p.m. CST

    True Dat Sleaze

    by optimous_douche

  • June 20, 2008, 8:50 a.m. CST

    Comics aren't movies, but an interview is same for both

    by MrSensitive

    You guys let your subjects pick and choose the questions? I had no idea, I thought y'all had your set of questions and did the interviews over the phone after setting up a time and day through e-mail or something. Might as well go with what they give you, I guess.

  • June 20, 2008, 9:57 a.m. CST

    Wait a minute Sleaze

    by optimous_douche

    You get comps? What the hell am I doing wrong? :-)

  • June 20, 2008, 12:06 p.m. CST

    Depends on the sitch, Mr. Sensitive.

    by SleazyG.

    Sometimes we're lucky enough to get a phone interview or face to face, but honestly, 98% are done via email. It's how everybody gets their work done--you can do it when you have the free time, even if that's at 2 AM, instead of having to schedule and buy equipment and etc. etc. So we send a whole bunch of questions, and creators often fail to answer all of them. At that point, though, saying "well, we won't run the interview if you don't answer these three questions you skipped" is really just shooting ourselves in the foot. They're not gonna answer 'em, and we're not gonna get any more offers for interviews, either.

  • June 20, 2008, 11:17 p.m. CST

    Buzz Maverik Ask Comic Pros Hard Questions

    by Buzz Maverik

    "Hey, Alan Moore..."<p>"Yeah, what is it, you Yank git?"<p>"Why is it impossible to tickle yourself?"<p>"Yer bloody right. It is impossible, wif yer own fingers. Maybe if you used a feather or something..."

  • June 21, 2008, 4:58 p.m. CST

    More Tough Questions For Comic Pros

    by Buzz Maverik

    "Excuse me, Garth Ennis!"<p>"What is it now, Maverik?"<p>"I forget which has which, but why doesn't the number of hotdog buns in a bag correspond with the number of weiners in a pack?"

  • June 21, 2008, 5 p.m. CST

    Still More Tough Questions For Comic Pros

    by Buzz Maverik

    "Alex! Alex Ross?"<p>"Uh, yeah?"<p>"What was the name of that horrible product that Hormel put out that was like Spam, only it was made of chicken instead of pork?"

  • June 21, 2008, 5:08 p.m. CST

    Good Call Duncan Hines!

    by Buzz Maverik

    Jack Kirby grew up poor. These newguys have the same number of hours per day that he did. Plus they are working from a full script, whereas most of the time, the very most Jack had to work with was, "How about a villain who travels through time this month?" And that was okay because it worked. You got a lot of comic for your allowance (although Kirby's heyday was even before my time). And none of this modern day, apologist crap that the pace is slow because of the high quality art. These guys are surfing the net when Kirby would have been working. Also, decompressed writing started when the top 21st century Marvel writers were given more assignments. Stan might have dialogued up to 35 books a month but he probably never wrote a full script in his life. The new writers were understandably unable to script a greater number of books in detail. This combined with the Barnes and Noble trade length cop out and...

  • June 22, 2008, 2:59 a.m. CST

    Just calling it like I see it, Buzz

    by DuncanHines

    I love comics, man. I'm heavily addicted to the artform. I'll read comics before watching movies, playing video games, at work on break, damn near as much as possible. I've always wanted to read Kirby's Fourth World epic, but I was waiting for a nice edition to be released. (Those black-and-white TPBs DC has had out forever weren't cutting it) I'm midway through the third HC, and man, I'm glad I'm reading it now because of the ridiculous ways it ties to Final Crisis. Hell, that Final Crisis Sketchbook pretty much tells you outright that you should be reading Kirby's Fourth World to get the most out of FC. But, again, I'm rambling... As for your well-worded way of putting, "modern day, apologist crap that the pace is slow because of the high quality art..." Yeah, that shit is a cop-out from these dudes. I remember a couple years back, meeting Frank Quitely at WizardWorld Philly; when his New X-Men issues were always late, and few and far between... I didn't even want his damn autograph; I asked him why he was here in Philly instead of home drawing the book. He replied, "Ach! Anything to not be home drawing..." Really, dude? Then don't take on an assignment you know you can't live up to. Same to Mr. Jones. He knew what he was getting into, and he knew the lead time. Handle that shit, or stick to drawing pretty covers. Back to those Fourth World Omnibus books, Mark Evanier wrote lengthy afterwords for all of them. He was Kirby's assistant during that period of time. He said Jack would be at the drawing board until the sun came up. Roz Kirby would be pissed because the dude would never stop drawing. He'd do about 15 pages a week. And Mike Royer had to keep up on the friggin inks! The only modern artists I see with anything even a little close to that kind of work ethic are Mark Bagley, John Romita Jr, Stuart Immonen, and Igor Kordey, who got the short end of the stick when his most high-profile work looked like crap because he drew and inked his own work on 22-page issues at a rate of about an issue a week (New X-Men. Back to that again...) Alright. I'm done ranting about this for today.