THE BEST OF SIMON AND KIRBY HC TPB
Foreword by Joe Simon; commentary by Mark Evanier Stories and art by Simon and Jack Kirby Published by Titan Books Review: The Best of Stones ThrowI had the pleasure of spending some time at the New York Comic-Con earlier this year. It was the first comic book convention I’d ever been to and something of a freakish experience. The highlight had to be when Neal Adams pushed his way past me in the gents’ near the entrance. Dave Gibbons told a funny story about WATCHMEN and his wife at the WATCHMEN panel too. Yep, it was pretty damn rib-tickling. I don’t recall the punch line, but, rest assured, I was laughing.
I was also able to pick up some classic ‘70s Jack Kirby # 1s from one of the weirder-looking booths at the back of the hall for five American bucks each. 2001, OMAC, KAMANDI, THE ETERNALS…whatever your personal opinion of those books, no one’s ever made comics like them before or since. You can see what our friend Prof. Challenger means when he talks about “Kirby as a genre.” There’s something about getting such a pure, unadulterated expression of one artist’s vision that’s irresistible in any medium.
The last panel I dropped in on on the Saturday was Joe Simon’s. Along with Jerry Robinson, one of Bob Kane’s ghosts who designed the Joker and was also there, Joe must be one of the last remaining links to the origins of the American comic book in the late 1930s. He’s 90 plus now, but he still tells a good anecdote. Everyone was asking him about his partnership with Jack Kirby, of course. They were calling him “Jack” but Simon just called him “Kirby”. I had to laugh when one fan got up and asked “What did you and Jack do in your spare time in the ‘40s?” Joe replied, “In the ‘40s we were married.”
The first thing about this book is that the comics it collects come from a completely different era. The most recent one reprinted is SICK from 1960. The superhero stories that are most famous today are all from the early forties. It’s almost anachronistic to put them in the prestige, difficult-to-hold-sized, hardcover format. Today’s comics are made by fans, for fans, with incredibly high production values and prices that amount to a small fortune. They’re a dwindling industry designed to be put in mylar bags in an air-conditioned room. These comics got made by kids for younger kids. They were dirt cheap and sold by the millions, got swapped, read and reread, and eventually thrown out or simply fell apart. Compared to today’s comic book industry, the ‘30s and ‘40s was the Wild West. It’s on the nerd set-text list but the essential book has to be Michael Chabon’s THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY if you’re gonna understand the time and the men who made the comics.
Kirby’s art in the early tales is rough and unschooled. Sometimes it might not look that different from the hundreds of other kids who couldn’t draw who were trying to make it in the business back then, but even in MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS from 1940 (when he was twenty-three) you can see the energy and invention of his art and what he’s going to go on to do. To stick with the Kavalier and Klay analogy, Kirby (Jacob Kurtzman) is definitely the Josef Kavalier of the story, the artistic genius who finds some kind of self-expression in comic books. Joe Simon is like Stan Lee when Stan Lee was still wearing short pants, more of a Sam Clay type, a master editor who’s able to fill in on inking, pencils, or a last-minute script whenever it’s necessary.
If you only read about these guys – and other masters like Will Eisner, of course – you can get hung up on how they “changed the way comic books were drawn”—the composition of the panels, the way the characters move, the way the page looks. You have to look at the comics themselves to see it in action. The Captain America of “The Riddle of the Red Skull” strides over the page like the red-white-and-blue colossus he is, leaping from panel to panel, bursting out of windows and into the next frame. In the best part of the story, he lays a swinging Sunday best on a never more-scary Red Skull, sending him flying across the page, into the next panel…where he cracks his head on a picture frame! Yee-owch.
(By the way, immediately after he thinks he’s killed Captain America, the Red Skull gets out a notebook and crosses Cap’s name off the list. That was a great touch.)
Talk about the Marvel universe. Read any classic Golden Age comic and you’ll see it’s really all one big universe of the imaginations of the teenagers and early twenty-something sons of Jewish tailors (Schneiders). In Simon and Kirby’s revamp of the Wesley Dodds Sandman, Thor sails his Viking ship into New York and harbor, opposed only by the Sandman and his faithful sidekick Sandy. Kirby would later draw destruction on an NYC-wide scale in THE FANTASTIC FOUR and THOR, but this matches the later artistic masterpieces for sheer frenzied scale.
As well as the Stuntman, a never before seen Simon and Kirby series that got hit by the distribution problems that occurred when the US government lifted paper rationing, probably the best superhero story here is the Fighting American’s. Alan Moore said he got his FIRST AMERICAN bit in TOMORROW STORIES from this comic. It’s superheroes as self parody at a time when superheroes were on the way out. In the story printed here, the Fighting American and Speedboy come up against Doubleheader, a villain who reminds me of Batman’s Scarface and the Hulk’s Bi-Beast. The opening panels, framed in the back of a cab where Doubleheader’s two heads argue between each other like quarrelling brothers, is genuinely surprising and hilarious.
As any comic book historian knows, Simon and Kirby’s years at DC got interrupted by the Second World War. Joe Simon worked for the Combat Art Corps, producing comic strips based on stories of the US armed forces at war to be read by the troops. Kirby got sent to Europe and fought in the Battle of the Bulge, where he ended up in an army hospital and got enlisted painting clinical watercolors of soldiers’ frostbitten feet. In his introduction Joe Simon says that Kirby brought the paintings with him to a family reunion dinner in New York: “the meal was not a huge success.”
This book collects a few of their war comics, too. A fairly standard story of the Boy Commandos (“Satan Wears a Swastika”), which outsold SUPERMAN and BATMAN in its day, from before Kirby’s service is followed by a story from 1947 about New York being destroyed by an atom bomb. You pan out from the destruction to see the same comic is being read by a caveman sitting in the wreckage of a “real” New York that’s been hit by the bomb. And this was a comic read primarily by kids! Ever seen Kirby’s cover for FOXHOLE #1? These were war comics by guys who knew what war was like, as seen in the absolutely brutal “Booby Trap” from FOXHOLE #2, in which a survivor recounts the story of how his combat patrol was massacred by Chinese “Reds” on an expedition in Korea.
There’s also romance comics, which the duo invented to incredible success when the readership of comics was beginning to decline significantly for the first time after the 1940s boom, westerns, horror, science fiction and a take-off of MAD magazine called SICK. Reading this book makes it clear how everything that’s come since in comics is really just a hangover from those initial years of invention. What about the Vision, who appears in a story about a werewolf that’s creepier and more bizarre than anything Roy Thomas would do in his makeover of the character?
After the stuff collected in this book, and once Kirby had left Marvel for what I think was the second time, he and Joe Simon would reunite for their second take on the Sandman name, which went on to inspire Neil Gaiman’s series. Once the forthcoming SIMON AND KIRBY SUPERHEROES (volumes one and two), WESTERNS, CRIME, and ROMANCE books are all out I want to see Kirby’s Marvel work get the same treatment. The Essentials, or, worse, the trades with glossy, white, recolored pages often don’t emphasize the power of comics’ classic artists enough. Imagine seeing that collage when Galactus’ spaceship appears for the first time in a book the size of your upper body.
Meantime, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. There’s too much good stuff to fit into one review. Titan Books, Mark Evanier, and Harry Mendryk, who apparently restored all the pages for printing, deserve the highest possible plaudits for putting this stuff out there to be read. MAD, CREEPY, EERIE, and the works of Will Eisner already have plush anthologies available of their back catalogue. THE BEST OF SIMON AND KIRBY now has a place on the shelf marked “American comics greats” next to them.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #50
Writer: Ed Brubaker Artist: Luke Ross Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: steverodgersFirst off, I just want to congratulate Brubaker and company for giving us 50 fine issues of one of the most compelling comic books on the market, CAPTAIN AMERICA. To these guys: thanks for turning what could have been just another gimmicky death of a hero into a tragedy that has some real depth, resulting in the best “new” Marvel character in years, BuckyCap. Long may he punch out HYDRA agents with his amazing metal arm.
Let me join the chorus of folks who have let Brubaker et al. take their sweet time bringing back old Cap (Cap prime? SteveCap? OriginalCap? Steve? Cap!). BuckyCap is everything Cap was and more. He is a man out of time; he is trying to live up to the legacy of his pal and hero; he is trying to deal with sins he committed while brain washed by the Commies; he is trying to look badass even though he wears little red gloves that some people might call “cute” or even a little girly. There are just so many stories that haven’t been written about Bucky yet—so much so that I would hate for the return of Steve to prematurely squash them. In fact, my biggest fear is that Brubaker leaves the book to some other writer; and that they are just not up to the task and completely drop the ball, not allowing Cap and Bucky the epic return they deserve.
On to some nitpicking, CAPTAIN AMERICA #50 is the second issue in a row where it just doesn’t seem like much is going on. In the previous issue, we had Sharon Carter moping about down South somewhere and not much else. This time around, we have another Bucky character study, with our hero inner-monologue-ing, fighting techno goons in the present and getting a look into his past during World War II. I generally love the World War II flash backs; however, this is just another vignette of Bucky and Toro being pals (those guys really loved each other) which Brubaker already covered in the far-superior one-shot, WINTER SOLDIER: WINTER KILLS (get it, it’s great). The difference here is that it’s a birthday, not Christmas, and not a dance. Although we do get to see more of Bucky’s past—what brought him from base brat to the envy of American boys everywhere, kicking the crap out of fascists across Europe, side-by-side with Captain America, Human Torch, Namor and the brave men of our fighting forces.
My other concern is that this is the 4th issue in a row without Steve Epting. Reading a Brubaker issue without him is just not the same. Luke Ross is fine, but this run on Cap is like the All-Star game; I don’t want any mid-season call ups, I want the real deal. Ross’s faces are a little too cartoony and sometimes their facial expressions don’t match their actions, which is really distracting. Luckily for Ross, Brubaker is able to make up for this when he brings it home in the last third of #50, and ties it all together in a nice combination of nostalgia, friendship, pathos, action and friendship that has made this comic such a joy to read over the last 50 issues. It even has some Marvel hokeyness that I, as a long-time Marvel Zombie, can’t help but eat up. I just wish Epting had drawn it.
Finally, and I know this is getting boring, like someone bitching about airline travel, but $3.99 for a monthly? Come on… What would Cap do, I wonder? Would he drive his awesome Captain America motorcycle to the Marvel offices and demand a refund? Would he give a really awesome speech? Would people listen? Would he call up Rick Jones and chat? Would he stand by saying nothing, while evil is being done (I doubt it!), or would he stop buying the comic in protest? Maybe, he would just keep on buying, because in the end, even though you can stare down Thanos without blinking, you just can’t change the price of comics. Or can you, Cap? Cap, come back!
Story by: Garth Ennis Art by: John McCrea with Keith Burns Published by: Dynamite Entertainment Reviewed by: BaytorGarth Ennis would probably be a much more respected writer if he stayed away from super-heroes. There’s no one in the business right now that does war comics better than he does and he ain’t too shabby at westerns, horror, and action romps and his dialogue is some of the best in the biz.
That said, I haven’t laughed this hard since Ennis & McCrea transformed DICKS 2 into full-on gay porn, complete with Irish Godzilla & King Kong clones 69ing each other on panel, while the rest of Ireland did likewise. When Garth Ennis plumbs the depth of depravity, he doesn’t kid around; and the reader either throws the book away in disgust or marvels at the mind that doesn’t know the meaning of “taking the joke too far”.
There is absolutely no defense of this comic that can be offered. It’s filth on top of filth, with a hint of a larger plot toward the end. What it promises and what it delivers is a decadent super-hero retreat, where they shag themselves rotten while the rest of the world thinks they’re dealing with the Annual Cosmic Super-Hero Event. This book not only doesn’t take the concept of super-heroes seriously; it gives it a Dirty Sanchez after it’s had its wicked way with them.
Reviewer’s Note: there are no actual Dirty Sanchez’s in this book, but there probably ought to be.
X-MEN FOREVER ALPHA #1
By Chris Claremont and Jim Lee Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: JinxoI really don't quite get this. So, back in the day if you were talking X-Men you were talking Chris Claremont. He wrote UNCANNY X-MEN for forever. Then Marvel launched the book X-MEN and Claremont went to that book. I remember that book very well because, due to no fault of Chris Claremont, that first issue was one of the things that pushed me into dropping comics for quite awhile. That was one of the comics where they really tried to abuse collectors by publishing 8 jillion variant covers. I picked up a couple of them and then just thought, wow, they are just playing me for a rube, milking me for every cent they can. There are now TWO X-MEN titles to buy (heheh... I was annoyed by TWO) and they also want me to buy multiple copies of the SAME issue??? Ugh. A few months later I dropped almost all my hero books.
Back to the point, though. Claremont did three issues of X-MEN before leaving the book sooner than planned. Cut to today. Claremont is returning to The X-MEN in a funky way. The new X-MEN FOREVER title is going to pick up where Claremont left off with X-MEN #3, presenting, apparently, an alternate story reality depicting what Claremont had actually intended to do back in the early 90s. The stories might turn out to be great. Who knows? But, for me, the premise is a bit silly. How much past issue #3 did Claremont have mapped out? I'll give you that he surely had a stretch of it planned out. Fine. But only to a point. So, really, what we'll be getting is 2009 Claremont fleshing out what 1990's Claremont sketched out until those old ideas are used up and then... sigh... is this really worth creating a whole separate reality for? It just seems a bit goofy to me. Again, the stories might be great but the conceit seems silly.
Anyway, since the new book will pick up from those three older issues, Marvel has published those three issues in collected form as X-MEN FOREVER ALPHA #1. On the one hand, I do kind of enjoy the old school flashback of reading these issues again. On the other...I can't believe they got me to buy yet another copy of X-MEN #1!!! Damn you Marvel Comics!!!!
Jinxo is Thom Holbrook, lifelong comic book reader, and the evil genius behind poobala.com. He may appear cute and cuddly but if encountered avoid eye contact and DO NOT attempt to feed.
BATMAN: BATTLE FOR THE COWL #3
Writer and Artist: Tony Daniel Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Liam ‘The Kid’Note: ‘The Kid’ is 8 years old and has been doing reviews on his own site since August of 2008. And you can now follow the kid’s daily ‘adventures’ on Twitter.
I really like all of the crazy stuff that’s been going on in the Batman comics lately. First he went crazy and put on a weird purple and yellow costume and started really beating up criminals with a bat then he got burned up by another super villain and probably died (but I doubt it) and now all these people that he knows are trying to figure out who is going to be the new Batman. Usually bad guys come up with a plan to do something and the good guys have to stop them or they fight. I like that this story has a bunch of good guys replacing one of the best heroes there ever was.
My favorite thing about the story so far is that all of Batman’s friends are teaming up to try and stop all of the bad guys in Gotham City. Even different Batman and Robins from different countries are coming to help because they know the bad guys are getting worse because they think Batman is dead. Everyone sort of thinks that Dick Grayson should be Batman now but he doesn’t want to do it so the new Robin, Tim, puts on the costume and goes out to fight. But then there is another Robin who died named Jason who is wearing a new Batman costume with armor and he’s going around killing bad guys. I didn’t know there were three Robins and it’s cool that all of them are pretty much fighting over who gets to become Batman since Batman is the boss of the team and they all want to stop being the side kick.
There is a lot of fighting between different heroes and villains and the biggest battle is between Nightwing and Jason. I don’t know how Jason was a Robin because he is acting really rotten here. He isn’t just trying to be the new Batman or even just killing bad guys. He’s trying to kill Tim and Nightwing and I don’t know why he’s doing that if he wants to be a good guy. He is really out of his mind and I like that the artist is drawing him to look crazy, too, especially when his mask is off and he wears another mask underneath that.
Tim might be a good Robin but he’s a really bad Batman. He’s just a kid, too so I don’t know why he thought he could be Batman. It’s just a comic so it can be drawn however but I bet in real life the Batman costume would look so big on him it wouldn’t fit right. He gets his butt kicked by Jason and probably would have been killed and when it’s time to help Nightwing out in the battle he just falls over. There was really only one person who could probably be the new Batman and it shouldn’t have taken him so long to figure that out. The thing I didn’t like about the comic was that you don’t get a good look at the new Batman at all. They show the new Robin a lot but Batman is just a small part at the end. They should have had the new Batman and Robin standing on a roof together or something to make it worth the wait.
It was an interesting story and I think the idea of all the old Robins fighting each other to be the new Batman is a great idea. The Black Mask part was a little confusing and I don’t know what Jason’s problem is but I do like the choice for the new Batman. It makes the most sense and I think the new stories with Batman and Robin should be pretty good.
Rating: 8 out of 10
PROJECT H OGN
By Branden Carstens Won Jool Aai Studios Reviewer: Ambush BugWhen I first received a letter from the makers of this book stating that they had a comic to send me from South Africa, I thought it was one of those internet email scams. But after further inspection, I found out that this was one of those opportunities that a reviewer doesn't often get: a chance to review an authentic comic that most people don't know about and a chance to let people know how special it really is.
I couldn't help but feel the authenticity of this original graphic novel as I read it. From the use of common South African slang to the culture that oozes from every page, aside from the story, it is an amazing slideshow of African society and how the culture is both so much like my own American one, yet altogether different. Not only did I feel entertained by the story (which I'll get to in a second), but once I put the book down, I felt educated by the glimpse into another culture and inspired by the uplifting message within.
The story follows a troubled man, Sam Hart, who lacks purpose. We follow Sam as he grows up, loses his mother to a violent crime, and decides to never let a crime like that happen again by becoming a police officer. Even after he becomes a top cop in Cape Town, South Africa, he still doesn't find peace in his life until he meets a beautiful woman, Cindy. The couple fall in love and plan on spending their lives together, but this is cut short when Cindy is brutally murdered. The rest of the story follows Sam as he attempts to track down Cindy's killer and find peace for his troubled spirit.
In the meantime, there is a subplot that of course has a lot to do with the main theme of redemption regarding a New Age motivational speaker who develops a product "Project H" that is the automatic cure-all for all of society's woes. The philosophy of Project H spreads like wildfire and soon it takes credit for curing AIDS, famine, and economic woes. Project H becomes the newer, more effective religion for the masses, overshadowing the importance of church and faith in God.
This is a heavily spiritual read, but I never felt as if I were being preached to. Usually religious stories rub me the wrong way because I feel as if the writer is trying to convert me in some way or another. Not the case here. Here the writer simply tells a story about characters who believe and don't believe and often have those beliefs or non-beliefs challenged. There's a humble quality to the storytelling that you won't find many places, but it is prevalent here and automatically makes me appreciate the message the wrier is trying to convey all the more.
The art of PROJECT H is pretty damn fantastic. Simplistic and expressionistic. Not a lot of details are used, but the artist is able to convey complex emotions with simple lines. He's able to communicate intricate actions seamlessly from panel to panel. The pages of this almost 200 page read fly by, mostly due to the gripping story, but also the effortless transitions from one panel to the next.
If you look over this review, you'll see I mentioned no names of the creators behind this book. This is because the makers of this book chose to leave their names from anywhere on this book (only knew who did it by following the website). They don't want recognition. They just want the message they are trying to communicate to come across. In an age of greed and corruption, there is something ultimately admirable about that selfless gesture.
Reading PROJECT H was a true pleasure. As a cultural piece it stands out as something unique. But as a story it carries with it a message of hope, of perseverance, and of humble gestures of a desire for a better world. It may take some work, but if you're looking for an intricate story about the beautiful simplicities of life filled with action, drama, and utmost care, PROJECT H is worth seeing out. A phenomenal achievement.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, reviewer and co-editor of AICN Comics for over eight years. Check out his short comic book fiction here and here published in MUSCLES & FIGHTS 3 and MUSCLES & FRIGHTS on his ComicSpace page. Bug was interviewed here and here at Cream City Comics. Look for more comics from Bug in 2009 from Bluewater Productions, including the just-announced sequel to THE TINGLER for their VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS ongoing series in stores October 2009.
Writer: Jeph Loeb Art: Ed McGuinness Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Mr. PastyIn HULK #12: “Winner Takes All,” the Red Hulk (Rulk) picks up right where he left off from last issue, as a member of the super villain group known as “Offenders,” continuing his convoluted quest to rid the universe of the superhero group known as “Defenders.”
Now I’m not suggesting that every comic book be interwoven with multiple layers of intelligent subtext, but this is a collection of the world’s mightiest versus the world’s most heinous — not the Seniors vs. the Juniors in a game of intramural lacrosse.
I’m sure Loeb could have done better than “Offenders vs. Defenders.” Things get off to a promising start, as Big Red throws leather with the Silver Surfer and Namor the Sub-Mariner. Unfortunately the narrative abruptly collapses into a series of disjointed segues featuring pin-ups of Rulk in compromising poses, reciting a number of tired and off-color clichés.
And I think in the end, that’s my biggest gripe.
This book was intended to be enjoyed at face value, yet I don’t find an underlying respect for the source material and, ultimately, the readers. Any exposition remains vaulted in favor of mindless action sequences. There’s always room for wanton violence, but violence as a form of storytelling is a slippery slope. WHAT IF? #45, also featuring a murderous, rampaging Hulk, presented its share of calamity but rewarded readers with a crisp and unitary story arc.
Loeb’s idea of resolution is a cosmic do-over. Deus ex machina notwithstanding, Rulk’s potential for greatness continues to fascinate me. So does Loeb’s failure to realize him, which makes this incarnation more of a homicidal Mr. Fixit than a standalone character.
In a three dimensional world, Rulk is as flat as a 2D sprite. And Dexter Vines’ and Mark Farmer’s bold and colorful inks are loud — even by Prince Jurgen von Anhalt’s standards.
To its credit, the story does move at a brisk pace. And a conversation between two of the central characters in the last stanza (which sounds like an argument between Charlie and Raymond Babbitt) may get some unintentional laughs. “Winner Takes All” is wall-to-wall action. However with no setup and no payoff, the only thing I really feel the winner took was the $3.99 + tax I shelled out for this book.
My rating: 2 puny humans out of 5.
DOCTOR WHO: THE TIME MACHINATION One-Shot
Tony Lee: Writer Paul Grist: Artist IDW: Publisher Vroom Socko: Time LordI wonder just how this book will play with people who don’t know WHO. Even New-WHO fans might not be able to follow the various references built into this story.
Excluding the nods to episodes from the current run, there are nods to An Unearthly Child, Shada, Ghost Light, and a reference either to the Doctor Who Museum or David Tennant’s previous TV show BLACKPOOL. There’s also a minor plot point involving
Assuming they can, it’s a great tale being told. The Doctor, his TARDIS damaged, seeks help from his old friend HG Wells. Unfortunately, his arrival attracts the attention of the recently formed Torchwood Institute, and the Doctor is soon caught in a game of cat and mouse, while Wells turns out to be not entirely what he appears. That’s when everything goes all timey-wimey.
To be fair, Tony Lee has spun a great story here, and I doubt that anyone who’s going out of his way to buy a DOCTOR WHO comic won’t have heard of Tom Baker. Still, after the balancing act between over 45 years of continuity and new-fan friendliness of Lee’s prior comic storyline THE FORGOTTEN, the massive dependence on continuity to this story is a bit jarring. It’s not a bad story by any stretch of the imagination, and The Doctor’s voice has the same cadence and style as Tennant, but like I said, Timelash and The Talons of Weng-Chiang are required viewing before buying.
As for the art from Paul Grist, do I honestly need to say anything other than “artwork by Paul Grist” to you people? The man has narrative ability AND style coming out the wazoo. His David Tennant is splendid, as is his…well, that would be telling. (wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey…) I’d compliment his use of blacks and characters in silhouette, but saying Grist handles those sorts of things fantastically is like pointing out Stan Lee uses alliteration when naming characters.
If you’re a DOCTOR WHO fan, I’m talking a lifelong, dyed in the wool scarf fan, then this is definitely a comic that’s worth buying. If you’re not that familiar with The Doctor, then perhaps you might start with the TPB for THE FORGOTTEN. As for me, I’m looking forward to the next DOCTOR WHO comic that Tony Lee writes, and the next anything that Paul Grist works on.
Vroom Socko, (Also know as Aaron Button,) is such a massive DOCTOR WHO fan, he not only has a Doctor themed sketchbook, he also knits his own Tom Baker-length scarves in his spare time. And yes, he loves Timelash, in all its goofy glory.
SIMPSONS COMICS #154
Writer: Len Wein Artist: Phil Ortiz Publisher: Bongo Comics Reviewer: Liam ‘The Kid’Note: ‘The Kid’ is 8 years old and has been doing reviews on his own site since August of 2008. And you can now follow the kid’s daily ‘adventures’ on Twitter.
The Simpsons is one of my favorite television shows and the comic is pretty good, too. I usually like the Bart Simpson comic better because that one has a bunch of shorter stories in it and those are funnier than one long story. It’s like how on the show the Halloween episodes are better than the regular episodes.
This one looked really funny right from the cover where Homer is being attacked by hundreds of bees that have Mr. Burns’ face on them. Homer is sleeping outside on his hammock and a bee gets sucked into his mouth when he’s snoring and he gets all nuts because he thinks he’s going to die. When Marge tells him that he’s not allergic, Homer swallows the bee and goes, ‘Mmm fuzzy’. Homer figures out that there are a lot more bees around his house and he tracks them to a beehive under his house. He’s mad because he thinks the bees shouldn’t be allowed to build on his house and wants to go to war with them. When he’s fighting the bees he gets some fresh honey poured in his mouth and then the angry bees sting him a few hundred times. Homer with all the bee stings over his body looked really funny.
The rest of the comic is about Homer creating his own honey company and Mr. Burns is jealous that he’s making all that money and tries to create his own honey. The story in the comic was really funny. It was kind of like the cartoon where Homer starts stealing and selling all the sugar and has to protect his sugar from everyone else. There are a lot of really funny parts in the book with Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders and some other people from the town. All of the characters in the comic act just like they’re supposed to and most of the time is spent on Homer which is good because he is the funniest one on the show. The ending was really good, too. I didn’t think they were going to finish the story like that and it’s a bit strange but funny at the same time.
I really like the comic because the artwork looks just like the cartoon. The person drawing it does a really good job to make all the characters and the houses and things look just like the show. I’ve read comics before that are about movies or television shows and the characters don’t look at all like the shows so it’s cool when someone does it really well. This was probably one of the best Simpson comics that I’ve read and I hope that they keep on being this good.
Rating: 10 out of 10
THE GREAT FABLES CROSSOVER – FABLES #84 & JACK OF FABLES #34
Writer: Bill Willingham Artist: Mark Buckingham/ Matthew Sturges Publisher: DC Vertigo Reviewer: Optimous DoucheThe end is nigh. The end is nigh! The end is nigh? I’ve found myself blurting out this phrase in all three fashions over the past few years with Willingham’s twisted tale of our favorite bedtime stories. When the adversary was revealed, I expected a short close, not the beginning rum-pum-pum of war drums. Once Geppetto had his evil ass handed to him, I thought for sure there would be a mass exodus back to the Homeworlds and a nice happily ever after for the citizens of Fable Town; instead Willingham mired the FABLES in the practicalities of trying to occupy these lands and in the process drew some tidy parallels to America’s own occupation in the Middle East. Yes, my spoiler free lifestyle of shunning Previews and Wizard has transcended me from douche to dunce with each new issue that churns off the presses. I should quit my piss poor prognostications now, but I can’t help myself. As much as I don’t want to know what is going to happen until I actually read it, I just can’t stop myself from imagining what the future will hold. Now that we are past the halfway mark with The Great Fables Crossover I will say emphatically (remember my past batting average here), that the end of this book, at least as we know it, is indeed nigh – many many exclamation points!!!
So why fall on the sword again? What makes the calamity currently cascading through FABLES, JACK OF FABLES and THE LITERALS so different than the seeming Armageddons of the past? With every past cataclysm there was always a way out, whether the escape was through mystical forces or sheer brute force. With the introduction of THE LITERALS I can see little room for escape since they are completely undoing not just the Fable characters, but fiction (or reality if you’re a Fable) it self.
Despite my unending love of FABLES proper, I never felt the urge to follow Jack Horner when he received his own title. At the time of his departure from the main FABLES continuity he was simply just a smarmy asshole with as much depth and dimension as Lindsey Lohan turned sideways. Well, what a difference a few years makes. At some point during Jack’s adventures he discovered he’s not just a Fable, nor is he a mundy (the Fables term for us normal folks). Instead he is a half-breed (please no American-Indian hate-mail for this term), part Fable and part Literal. The Literals it seems can transcend the story world and the mundy world to create actual living breathing planes of existence. If you’re a storybook character, a Literal is your God. At first I had little idea what was happening; out of nowhere during this crossover Jack was suddenly breaking the fourth wall and addressing the readers. Not only was this slightly disconcerting, it also felt like a typical cheap Jack gimmick to get girls in the sack. Once the whole concept of the “Literals” started to unfold as the cross over continued, all began to make more sense and placed the same lamenting lump in my throat that I had when the ending of Y: THE LAST MAN was announced.
Even when all of Fable Town in the heart of New York was obliterated at the start of this series, I simply shrugged it off. I assumed the FABLES would band together and thwart their undead controlling nemesis. With the introduction of THE LITERALS though, whose pens can simply whisk away the Fables’ reality; even if Bigby, Snow and their Jack tagalongs find the man undoing their reality, how can they stop him, and wouldn’t he know they are coming?
Finally I have to not just applaud, but thank with my last dying breath this production team for delivering new chapters of this book with the rapid-fire delivery of a 1930’s newspaper boy. Not a week has gone by that I haven’t walked into my LCS to find a new copy of FABLES, JACK OF FABLES or THE LITERALS looking back at me. You can’t discount the sweaty palm factor that comes from having questions answered a week after the fact as opposed to 3 to 4 months later. Also, by the fact that this crossover doesn’t transcend into twenty different one-shot barely tangential upsell books, the story is more seamless than the inside of a Fleshlight--so much so that I barely blinked when Jack was the focus of FABLES and the traditional Fable characters squatted in Jack’s book this month.
Does the story have weak points? Absolutely it does. I haven’t come across the nine part story yet that doesn’t take a detour into filler content or in this case absurdity. Did I need an entire issue of Bigby being rewritten as different animals? Were this just a one off issue, I would be pissed, but in the grander scheme of the over arching crossover I found this diversion to be somewhat charming in its silliness. All in all this has been a fun, fast and exciting read. It also accomplished the task of getting this reviewer to pony up the cash for the half-off JACK OF FABLES trades at this year’s Wizard World Philly.
When Optimous Douche isn’t reading comics and misspelling the names of 80’s icons, he “transforms” into a corporate communications guru. "What if the whole world had superpowers? Find out in the pages of Optimous’ original book AVERAGE JOE. Read the first full issue on Optimous’ New Blog and see original sketches by fellow @$$hole Bottleimp. If you are a publisher or can help these guys get AVERAGE JOE up, up, and on the shelves in any way, drop Optimous a line."
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: TIME OF YOUR LIFE TPB
Written by: Joss Whedon & Jeph Loeb Art by: Karl Moline & Georges Jeanty Published by: Dark Horse Comics Review by: BaytorI’ve mentioned before my recent obsession with licensed comics, so it should be no surprise that I’m following the canonical continuation of Buffy, and mostly I’ve been enjoying it, even though I often feel I need Cliff Notes in the middle of stories to keep track of all the returning characters and everybody’s back story. A “Story So Far” page and a roll-call would not be amiss at the start of these collections.
This is very likely my favorite of all the Season Eight stories, even though I spent the first couple of issues trying to remember the events of books I read several months and several years ago. To anyone who hasn’t read this volume yet, I strongly recommend you acquaint or re-acquaint yourself with the excellent FRAY, Josh Whedon’s future slayer story released some years ago. “Time Of Your Life” does eventually tell you everything you need to know, but there’s a lot of characters and a lot of stuff going on and it would have made things a whole lot more simple if I was coming to this story with those events fresh in my mind.
What sets this adventure apart from the three previous installments are two really powerful ideas in this story. The first is that Fray’s future world, where the Slayers completely disappeared for generations, calls Buffy’s Team Slayer plan into doubt. The other comes much later on in the story, involving the resolution of the Dark Willow plot. One of my lingering problems with Season Eight is the sheer scope of the stories, which I think takes away from the character-based moments that were the primary appeal of the series. Removing Buffy from the present to fight Fray for the future take a lot of the emphasis off of Team Slayer and allows this story to be a lot more personal.
There’s still some Team Slayer action as they defend the castle from a mystical attack launched by Amy The Witch and Skinless Warren, which involves quite a bit of humor surrounding the second transformation of Dawn from a giant into a centaur. There’s not a lot to this rather inconsequential b-story, but luckily its primarily focus is on Xander & Dawn, so there’s never a sense that I should know who that second Slayer from the right is supposed to be.
Also of note is the gentle mocking of Buffy’s faux-lez encounter last time out, which takes the edge off a development that got knocked for its exploitation value. It still feel a bit out of place, but at least other characters (notably Willow love-interest Kennedy) seem to have tons of fun busting Buffy’s balls over it.
Of no particular note is the Jeph Loeb one-shot story, in which Buffy has a dream in the style of the aborted Buffy cartoon. It’s just one continuity mention after another, as Buffy sees her dead mother one more time, and resists the advances of Angel because she knows where that leads, and makes jokes about Cordelia’s eventual death after Willow gets mocked by her.
Of no particular interest to anyone but me, it wasn’t until I wrote this review that I realized that Joss Whedon had actually written the lead story. I feel like such a Whedon Whore right now and feel this strange compulsion to call DOLLHOUSE the best show on TV right now just to piss off the talkbackers.
Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Jerome Opena Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: JinxoEveryone else can crap on Dark Reign and say it's just a rehash of what has already been done in THUNDERBOLTS but I like it better than most of the recent "events" Marvel has done. I think taking the concept of the bad guys being in charge to the extreme level lends itself to a number of interesting plots for various books. The new PUNISHER book is running with the idea of Frank Castle being bound and determined to take down and expose Norman Osborn's operation for what it is. Norman is claiming crime has been knocked down to zero. As Frank moves up the foodchain to Osborn himself, his first step is exposing Norman's lie and showing the public that crime is rampant, taking on his Secretary Of Crime, the magically powered The Hood.
Issue #5 is basically all about Frank ruining The Hood's day--just a good old fashioned game of bloody chess between Frank and The Hood. Frank has a new tech guy backing him up, but past issues have revealed that working for The Hood is Frank’s former partner Microchip. Thing is, Microchip was dead, so you can see the kind of magical mojo The Hood has going on right there. That's an ability with big potential implications and possibilities.
In fact, my favorite part of this issue deals with those possibilities as Frank is offered quite a deal with the devil. The sort of deal another major hero (okay, Spider-Man) was offered. Actually, Frank is offered an even sweeter deal. But while Spider-*&%$ hemmed and hawed and made the douche choice, Frank handles it without batting an eye. He makes the hero choice explaining his choice succinctly in a way that Web head should have!!! Spoiling in spite of myself but...I can't help it. It was just a very weird moment, seeing The Punisher of all people displaying superior morality to Marvel's flagship hero and, by extension, the folks at Marvel crafting his stories. It amused me to no end and...riled up my annoyance with “Brand New Day” all over again. Keep yer Spider-Man. I'm going with THE PUNISHER.
POTTER'S FIELD HC TPB
Writer: Mark Waid Artist: Paul Azaceta Publisher: BOOM! Studios Reviewer: Ambush BugI wrote a review for the first issue of POTTER'S FIELD quite a while ago, but somehow I lost touch with the miniseries and never took a look at any of the subsequent issues released from BOOM! One of the things I have noticed at BOOM! Studios is that for a while there, a whole lot of number one issues were released, but the delay between these first issues and the rest of the miniseries that was promised was so long, I would completely forget about the series after a while and wouldn't return. That may be the reason some folks stay away from books outside of the Big Two. Now, I know Marvel and DC have their fair share of delays, but at least they have a rich history and the seepage into the public consciousness to ensure folks will stick around when delays occur. But when an indie book has a considerable delay in between issue, the death knell has already rung.
And that's too bad, because out of all of the publishers out there, BOOM! has some of the most original ideas going for it. You can almost hear the writer pitch the high concept miniseries that often come out from that particular company. For a while, I'd see a ton of new number ones from BOOM!, but #2's were harder to come by. And I think by the time POTTER'S FIELD came along, despite the fact that I loved the idea and execution of the book, I was fed up with wondering if and when the series would be finishing up.
Now, I don't know for certain if POTTER'S FIELD was one of those delayed books or if the book came out on time. Since Waid is somewhat of a pro, I imagine POTTER'S FIELD was one of the more reliable BOOM! books. By the time the miniseries was released, though, I kind of directed my interests elsewhere and haven't paid much attention to whether or not BOOM! was able to follow up and tie up those dangling miniseries since. With the acquisition of Mark Waid as EIC, I imagined the crusty pro would whip the company into shape. And with the release of the trade collection of the first POTTER'S FIELD the company is showing that it certainly has the chops to put out a high quality product.
Like many of BOOM!'s titles, the concept of this miniseries is pretty high and imaginative. There's an actual cemetery in New York where John and Jane Does are laid to rest. One man has set out to identify the hundreds of bodies resting in this cemetery, one mystery at a time. His reasons for doing this? Unclear. His name? Well, he just goes by John Doe. Is this one of the coolest noir mystery books out there? Hellz yes.
Waid modernizes this noir-ish tale, placing it in a world where iPods, computers, and forensics exist. Waid's John Doe is a relentless great white shark of a man, focused on solving these crimes and determined to give these bodies a proper name on their gravestone. With hundreds of unmarked graves in the cemetery, the potential for many, many mysteries is great. And if the first three mysteries presented in this trade are any indication, I'm extremely interested in following John Doe as he solves each and every one of them. Waid shows an eye for mood and detail that he often doesn't get to show off in the broad-strokes way super-hero storytelling tends to be. Here he's meticulously mapping out subtleties about John Doe's identity and mysteries that keep you guessing and throw you for a loop over and over again.
Paul Azaceta is another reason this book is top tier. Heavy on darks as a noir tale should be, Azaceta knows how to make the almost featureless John Doe distinct, yet fade into the background. The world of POTTER'S FIELD is gloomy, filled with heavy shadows hiding dark secrets. Waid sets the ball into motion with a solid premise and strong mystery, but Azaceta spikes the ball home by painting a dark world for those mysteries to inhabit.
If I wasn't so interested in what BOOM! Studios has to offer, I wouldn't be so hard on them. The sheer number of #1 issues from the company often overwhelms me and occasionally puts me off. But on the occasions that I have found one of their high concept premises interesting enough to check out, I've always loved what I was reading and admired the imagination and talent put into each and every issue. The slick production of this POTTER'S FIELD hardcover collection is a sure indication that I need to pay closer attention to what BOOM! has to offer. Out of all of the smaller companies, BOOM! is the one with the most potential and POTTER'S FIELD is by far one of the best things they have every published.
MPD-PSYCHO VOL 7
Writen by Eiji Otsuka Artist by Sho-u Tajima Released by Dark Horse Manga Reviewer: Scott GreenIt's Michael Bay meets Dario Argento meets Takashi Murakami at 30,000 feet - part unsparing action blockbuster - part pencil to the jugular, eye ball on the floor grotesque - part rabid pastiche. Even if the TV series' MO was remarkably more contained than the manga's, it's little wonder that it was Takashi Miike who helmed the live action adaptation of MPD-PSYCHO.
Volume seven follows the tenants previously laid out by the manga to construct a new marvel of violence. What if one dangerous, mentally unhinged person sprung a trap on another dangerous, mentally unhinged person? What if an action movie set piece was arranged by a spectacularly cracked mind? This outing packs a number of these super predators on a plane like they were “Lost” survivors, then, starting with a Kazuo Umezu “gwashi”, the flight gets turbulent. Weapons come out, and the situation evolves into something of a Leone standoff with Anthony Perkins and Philippe Nahons rather than Clint Eastwoods and Lee Van Cleefs.
Eiji Otsuka is the kind of creator whose work serves to critique its own genre allegiances. In the case of the MPD-PSYCHO, he's hyper-extending conventions. The de facto hero of the manga is a police detective whose personality gave way to a split between a coldly effective criminal profiler and a sadistic serial killer. Initially, MPD-PSYCHO was a procedural that was held overhead and spiked onto the pavement. Otsuku wasn't just playing the out of control cop as judge, jury and executioner. He affronted the reader with spectacularly grotesque crime scenes and presented a character whose complicity was unknown even to the character himself. From the tenuous position of trying to intellectualize the mystery, the manga proceeded to fuel itself with conspiracy theories and Bayian machinery.
This is a manga writer who has a degree in social anthropology. He was an editor of Manga Burikko. He's applied scholastic research to manga and its devoted fans. I have faith that Otsuka knows what he's doing, and that MPD-PSYCHO is subject to the well constructed illusion of being wildly out of control. If it weren't Otsaka at the wheel, that would not be my impression. MPD-PSYCHO often seems consumed by its convolutions, as if it had a sequence of shocking revelations mapped out, but was driven far afield by its own craziness on route.
By Volume 7, some rules have been laid out. Some details concerning the sci-fi mechanism behind the bar coded eyeballs on our hero and other killers have been formalized. Yet knowing more about MPD-PSYCHO's prime movers hasn't been much of a psychotropic remedy for its careening trajectory. I'm pretty sure that I'm following the plot, but other than constructing a dance macabre set to the tune of antisocial behavior, I'm still struggling to figure out what exactly Otsuka is getting at. It's fascinating, but it's also manga looking to agitate, whether through grisly images, illusive plot mysteries or hard to pin down significance. Ultimately, trying to keep up and absorb the barrage is a large part of the masochistic fun of reading MPD-PSYCHO.
Scott Green has been writing for AICN ANIME for over seven years. If you like what you see here and love anime & manga, be sure to check out his latest AICN ANIME column here.