BATMAN AND ROBIN #1
Writer: Grant Morrison Art: Frank Quitely Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Prof. Challenger“This was my worst, worst nightmare when I was a kid. This is what kept me awake at 3:30 a.m. As long as I was Nightwing I could pretend I’d never have to take over as Batman. I could act as if he’d always be around.” --Dick Grayson to Alfred
For someone like me who loathed Gaiman’s “Goodnight Gotham” blech-fest WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER and had zero interest in any BATTLE FOR THE COWL, I am shocked by how much I enjoyed this comic. In concept, my old fogey self was dead set against the idea of Dick Grayson finally taking on the role of Batman in continuity, but once I experienced it…it felt just right. It felt like something that maybe should’ve been done a long time ago. It feels like the natural progression. It is moving the story of Batman forward and yet preserves the past 70-some years of Bruce Wayne as Batman to forever be able to tell stories set during those times. But for now, a fresh, yet still iconic, take on the character is shining forth in Gotham and on the comic shelves and I for one hope this is the status quo for the foreseeable future. Although, cynic that I am, I am sure this is ultimately a short term “illusion of change,” but I will take it for as long as I can get it. Seventy years of stories does not mean that all possible stories have been exhausted, but it does perhaps mean that the character of Bruce Wayne has become used up and may function better as a shadow cast over this new generation of Batman and Robin.
Grant Morrison is almost always able to mine a concept for some new gem of a perspective that nobody else could conceive of. Look at his utterly brilliant SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY series or what he did with ALL STAR SUPERMAN. Even when he fails in the execution, the underlying concept that drove the project is at least an interesting one (I’m thinking primarily of FINAL CRISIS). BATMAN AND ROBIN falls squarely in the arena of brilliant for me in both concept and the initial execution.
Ask yourself, if you decide it really is time to seriously replace Bruce Wayne as Batman, do you go through an elaborate scenario where Bruce gets his back broken by a steroid-pumped wrestler and then replace him with a religious zealot in gold and blue armor? Or, do you have Bruce “die” saving the world and then elevate Dick Grayson, the original Robin into the role he has been prepped for since he was 10 years old and assume the role of father/mentor to Bruce’s morally challenged bastard son?
Well, the former option smacks of stupidity and marketing as plot. The latter fits within the natural framework of the characters themselves and fulfills a dangling carrot of a possibility that has been out there for decades and DC has been afraid to tackle it. And when I see how perfectly this issue plays out this scenario, I’m more confounded than ever by DC’s reluctance to do this before now. In the world of copyrighted and trademarked characters, there’s no reason to feel like you must keep a licensed character stagnant. We have various versions of the character on film and television along with a multitude of versions throughout the Elseworlds comics and others. Bruce as Batman is well-served in comics, books, and all other forms of media. If the ongoing comics decide to age and move these characters forward, it finally gives the characters some serious literary weight and value beyond just a costume and a cape. If you want to compare this situation, look to Edgar Rice Burroughs and his TARZAN series of novels as opposed to the various “classic” versions of the character that have appeared in films, TV, and comics. The character in the novels grew and changed and had a kid and adopted a kid and then there were adventures of the grown son and adventures with the two together, etc. In other words, the primary source of the licensed character continued to grow and evolve even when the films with the monosyllabic alternate version of the character continued to thrive.
DC should fully embrace Dick Grayson as Batman and move forward here on out, because this new status is, as I said, brilliant in its simplicity. Here’s the concept: Batman is Dick Grayson (former Robin and former Nightwing) and his Robin is Damian Wayne??? (lovechild of Bruce and Talia but raised until recently by R’as Al Ghul). They fly around in a cool-looking flying Batmobile taking down the bad guys. Damian, who has never really experienced fraternal or parental love, resents everyone around him and believes himself to be quite smarter and better than everyone else. Dick, who has known both the love of his natural parents and the love of his adopted father, sees a double duty that he owes to the man who raised him. First and foremost, he has a duty to perpetuate his role as defender of Gotham, but secondly he recognizes a duty to step in as a substitute father and mentor for Damian who desperately needs this. Different than Dick’s relationship with Tim Drake, in which their relationship is more like brothers, Dick is now as close to a parent as Damian will probably have from now on. These are serious burdens to carry, and on top of that Dick has the heavy shadow of the legend of the original Batman to just feast on any insecurities he has about his ability to fulfill his duties. And yet, with all of this, Dick is able to be a bit more playful and less intense as Batman. He smiles occasionally, cracks a joke here and there, and does not carry himself with that obnoxious air of arrogant pomposity that every writer for the last 20 years has infused the Bruce Wayne Batman with. That was the most refreshing aspect of Dick Grayson as Batman – the positive attitude rather than the asshole we’ve been subjected to for so long now.
They still have the support system of Alfred Pennyworth, the faithful butler, and in a nod to the 70s; Dick and Damian live in the penthouse atop the Wayne Foundation building and operate out of the Batcave located secretly underneath rather than basing their operations out of Wayne Manor. Plus, this issue had a single visual that completely sold me on what Morrison is attempting with this series. All you who read this issue have to know what it is…page 10 first panel where Batman and Robin throw a double-punch together taking down Mr. Toad. It’s a view from behind, but it is utterly classic in execution. Frank Quitely must be Morrison’s muse, because when the two of them get together, the result is consistently excellent. It is like the mere presence of Quitely on the ticket reigns in Morrison’s extremes and he channels the story to meet Quitely’s strengths and the result just sings and resonates. Beautiful stuff.
There’s a new villain called Pyg, and he is a typical creepy Morrison villain which means as creepy as he is in this brief intro, I’m sure he’s going to go way over the top next issue. Which is ok with me. If I have a new Batman on the scene, I would love to see him develop his own new twisted and grotesque rogues’ gallery for the 21st century. It’s time to stop rehashing Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Catwoman, et. al. and develop some new and iconic villains for this new generation of Batman and Robin.
My hat is off to the creative team on this comic and I really would hope that this level of quality in concept and implementation could be seen throughout the entire DC line. So please, Messrs Morrison and Quitely, whatever you do, do not allow editorial to overly intervene and start trying to micromanage the series. And please, DC Editorial leadership, whatever you do, allow Morrison and Quitely to succeed or fail on their own. I have a feeling they will succeed at least as well as they did with ALL STAR SUPERMAN, and that’s a high bar to hit.
BATMAN AND ROBIN #1 is my favorite comic so far this year.
Prof. Challenger is really Texas artist/writer/editor/researcher/teacher Keith Howell, who recently successfully battled the evil airline industry as he struggled to trek across the great mid-west to Peoria, Illinois where he received the 2009 Farmerphile Award for Best Artwork at FarmerCon IV: The Philip Jose’ Farmer Memorial Gathering. Check out his website which is badly in need of updating at profchallenger.com. and check out all things Farmer at pjfarmer.com. Yes, it’s true, there really are some people who actually like the Prof.
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #133
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Stuart Immonen Publisher: Ultimate Marvel Reviewer: Optimous Douche“I want my two dollars!!!!!!”
No, this isn’t 1985 and I’m not stalking John Cusack; my fiduciary fury is firing double-barreled at the big M. Why $2.00 you ask? Well, I paid the brand new price standard of $3.99 (plus sales tax) for ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN 133 and in return received not only a half-hearted effort, but also half of a fucking book. For anyone that hasn’t picked up this muted chapter of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, don’t bother. Not only does this issue not contain one single balloon of dialogue, this is probably the worst series finale since BATTLESTAR GALACTICA anally frakked fans sans lube a few months ago.
Part of me is willing to forgive the fact that to fully understand the happenings in this issue you need to buy the latest issue of ULTIMATUM; after all, that is the nature of crossover events. However, what I can not condone, validate or even mildly stomach is an issue that adds nothing to its ongoing continuity or the over-arching event. Truly, everything that transpired in this issue was better delivered in ULTIMATUM 4. Look, I feel like I have a moral imperative here. Generally, I try desperately in my reviews to not give away the entire plot, because I simply want to whet readers’ appetites instead of serving up a ten course meal so the book can be enjoyed with a fresh perspective. In this case though, if I can save just one person the $4.00, and more importantly the heartache of having to traverse this lackluster end to such an amazing series, then by God I will.
Here we go. Building goes boom. Hulk angry, Hulk smash, Hulk leave. Spider-Tits and Kitty Pride save some folks. Spider-Tits finds Spider-Man’s mask under rock. Spider-Tits gives the mask to Kitty Pride. Kitty brings the mask to Mary-Jane. Aunt May cries.
There you go folks, after 132 phenomenal issues, almost a decade of fantastic story telling, this is what we’re left with. I’ve heard some say they respect the choice to do this issue without dialogue and allow the scenes to speak for themselves. To that I say, a Brian Bendis story without dialogue is like a quadriplegic mime. Every craftsman has their tool, and Bendis’ is his dialogue. Is his particular brand of banter for everyone and does it work in every book? Absolutely not! As I learned with NEW AVENGERS, snark and sarcasm don’t fit nicely into all characterization. Honestly, it’s slightly annoying when a character that has been stoic for their entire continuity starts cracking wise, but for Spider-Man, a character that has been a smart ass since inception, yeah it fucking worked beautifully. I always considered Bendis to be a Whedon that respected deadlines. That’s a compliment, really.
I’ve never reviewed an ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN book before because quite frankly I thought I would annoy our venerated readers by saying “this was yet another great chapter of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN” month after month. If this book had degraded in quality even in the slightest, I would have welcomed the finale instead of it feeling like a pointy toed kick to the nuts, but that simply wasn’t the case. Right up until this ULTIMATUM mess, you could tell Bendis loved this book. This issue, though, was dialed in.
Even Immonen couldn’t be bothered with giving this book the old college try. Every panel was so confined there was no room for the scenery to breathe; I don’t know about you, but I can only stomach so many close-ups of angst ridden faces. Also, the sterility of the ULTIMATUM cataclysm was almost laughable given the world we live in today. We saw first hand the carnage that was wrought from two planes crashing in New York during 9/11. Were the entire city to succumb to a tidal wave as we are led to believe, the body count would be staggering, almost beyond our comprehension. Not only do we never see Peter Parker’s corpse in this issue, but there is nary a body strewn on the street or being used as a floatation device. Now this next point is nitpicking, but since I did pay the price of admission I feel justified: at one point a building just gushes water. Swear to God, it was like the building was ready to go into labor…WTF???
At its outset I was definitely a fan of the Ultimate Universe. The promise of the Marvel universe updated with modern sensibilities and unfettered by strangling continuity was almost a comic nirvana. Over time many of the titles fell by the wayside, lived outside of the ultimate continuity so much so they became nothing more than inconsequential one shots, or ebbed and flowed so much in quality you simply stopped caring. ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, though, was the one with staying power. Even in the “bad” months, it remained a notch above the majority of my other pulls. This iss,ue though, made me realize that not only have the fans stopped caring about the Ultimate universe, but every creator and suit at Marvel feels the same. R.I.P. ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN! I wish the end of your life was as spectacular as the beginning.
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."
Writer: John Layman Art: Rob Guillory Publisher: Image Comics Reviewer: Humphrey LeeI don't know why, but I seem to be a sucker for the occasional "home run pitch". Y'know, the kind of plot summary that you can honestly just say is so out there that you have to give it a shot. Now, not to say that CHEW is presenting something completely original, but on the whole it definitely is unique. That master premise, for those of you that aren't hip to this, is one that centers around one Tony Chu, a Philadelphia cop with the ability to "see" into the life of whatever he eats. He can get an idea of the orchard his fruit comes from, experience the mutilation of the cow his burger meat came from, or, what will be the central conceit of this book, get visions into the lives of anybody that, for whatever reason, might have a piece of them make a way into his food. As you might imagine, this would be the prime suspect for some shenanigans ensuing...
Now while the ends might feel a little similar to some other forms of media I've enjoyed more recently (the obvious being TV's PUSHING DAISIES with it's "posthumous" investigating) the means is something I've never encountered and, I have to admit, it seems to have a lot of interesting potential for storytelling outlets, besides being a kind of fun and curious oddity. Obviously, the visuals behind some of his memory absorptions can lend a lot of atmosphere to the book as well, and they most definitely do in this debut. There's also another little twist to Tony Chu's world, in that his reality is one involving an all out ban by the government on chicken products. Now, I don't exactly know what kind of overall role this thing is going to play in where this book is going, though this issue in particular seems to use it a lot as Tony's job in this one involves his and his partner's staking out of a "Chicken Speakeasy", and there's other elements at play with it throughout so I have to assume it's going to be an at least somewhat prominent storyline for the book, and that's fine by me since it means it won't be completely focusing on just Tony's unusual ability.
Overall, honestly, this first issue was just a lot of fun. I really dig the main plot device and the overall feel of the book is just right y'know? There's good bits of humor and plenty of playful elements to be explored. If there is one aspect I think that needs to happen, or continue really, is that I do think that Tony needs to have the quote/unquote quirky sidekick by his side. In this issue his partner, John Colby, is an adequate fit, mostly because he's very loud and somewhat abrasive to Tony's more subdued nature (though he shows a bit of a more aggressive nature for a split second near the end), but as events unfold he becomes pretty well, uhm, "incapacitated" if not just plain dead. That's still up in the air it seems. And honestly, given the nature of Tony's ability, having that side character to make the little comments or play the comedic relief off of it seems almost like a requisite when it comes to something like this. Hopefully a new cohort will step up in John's place, or maybe John will get back in the picture himself; he seemed like an adequate mark for the role.
And speaking of accomplices, and to wrap this thing up, Rob Guillory seems like the perfect accompaniment to this book from the art aspect. Something like this demands a more "cartoony" style (because I still can't think of a damn better word for quantifying art styles like this) I think, and this is a great match. The combination of a great attention to detail mixed with the somewhat exaggerated figures is a good hodgepodge to capture the essence of this book in its humorous, and kind of horrific, element. And like I've been saying all along, this is a book that doesn't seem to be too shy with elements to play upon, and I'm really looking forward to watching them and it develop. This has all the makings of one of those not-so-guilty pleasure titles that always gives you that little boost of excitement when it makes its way to your pull slot. I can't wait to see it hit its stride and how Layman and Company flesh out all those facets that can make this book that kind of read, and hopefully they don't bite off...any cliches like the one I could have used there. The start is strong and fresh; hopefully everything after it can keep the same constitution.
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a Blogger Account where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.
TINY TITANS #16
Writers: Art Baltazar & Franco Art: Art Baltazar Publisher: DC Kids Reviewer: Liam ‘The Kid’ and his younger brother Ethan (6 years old)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.
Liam: My brother Ethan likes reading comics, too. Well he usually just listens while someone else reads them but he still likes them. He did a couple or reviews on my site for the WIZARD OF OZ book from Marvel Comics. He really likes that book a lot. TINY TITANS is a book that we both really like so he wanted to review some of it too. He also wanted to review BATMAN & ROBIN so if you want to read our review of that book go to our site for that one. We loved BATMAN & ROBIN.
TINY TITANS is a fun comic book that’s made for little kids. There isn’t really any fighting or stuff like that but they do a lot of funny stuff in the comic. They’re all little kid versions of superhero sidekicks like Robin and Supergirl and Kid Flash and the only grown ups who are in the book are the teachers like Principal Deathstroke and Lobo the gym teacher. When people like Batman or Superman show up only their feet and legs are drawn and it’s like they’re the parents yelling at their kids.
Ethan: I think there should be a little kid version of Green Lantern. Everybody else has a little kid version except him.
Liam: I don’t think Green Lantern has a sidekick but it would be cool if he did. I think he’s one of the only DC people who doesn’t have a kid sidekick. They should change that.
I like how Lobo is the gym coach and he’s really mean to all of the kids and makes them do all of these hard exercises until they’re too tired to do anything. Robin and Beast Boy are so tired that they just fall over and they get yelled at by Lobo for taking a break.
Ethan: I like when Lobo asks the kids how they think he got those big muscles and they say stupid stuff back to him.
Liam: Yeah, all of the kids had different answers like the ‘Green Lantern Corps’ or ‘reading comics’ or ‘hot wing sauce’ and he’s pretty much ignoring them. Then Lobo lines up all of the kids and tells them that they have to race around the world and the first person to cross the finish line will get an A in gym class.
Ethan: I liked when Raven quit and said she’s just going to read in the library instead.
Liam: And it was funny when they had to stop because they reached water and Robin said he’ll swim but he needed to take shark spray to protect himself. It was just like how Batman and Robin used shark spray in the movie.
Ethan: I thought it was funny when Beast Boy turned into a fish so he could race better in the water and that Lobo was taking a break and reading the SHAZAM comic book.
Liam: Another good part was how Batgirl had a secret helicopter and used it to fly over everyone for the race.
Ethan: My favorite part was when they met the Spanish superheroes and didn’t understand what they were saying.
Liam: I think Kid Flash understood them but it was still funny.
Ethan: I liked that they held hands when they ran together and their costumes had a plus and minus on them.
Liam: It was sort of weird how the story ended. I was surprised by who won the race because it wasn’t very fair the way it happened but I think Lobo was just confused. There is another short comic story at the end of the book which is only a couple pages long.
Ethan: It’s a story about the Atom family. It’s Atom, Mrs. Atom, the baby Smidgen and their friend Molecule. All of them can shrink really small.
Liam: They have a contest on who can shrink down the most.
Ethan: And Smidgen wins because he is the baby and no matter what anyone does he will always be the smallest.
Liam: There is even a fun little game at the last page of the book where you can have a race between Kid Flash and Supergirl.
Ethan: I lost.
Liam: I like that TINY TITANS has bigger words to make it easier to read. On most comic books the words are very small and you have to look at the pages pretty close but they draw the words much bigger in this book. I also like that the characters are drawn in a cartoony way.
Ethan: There should be a TINY TITANS cartoon.
Liam: There really should. TINY TITANS is a really fun comic book. It’s one comic book that is supposed to be for kids but isn’t totally boring and dumb like some other ones.
Our Rating: 10 out of 10
PLANET OF BEER: A SMELL OF STEVE TREASURY TPB
By Brian Sendelbach Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Rviewer: Ambush BugDark Horse has been collecting and distributing a lot of serialized comics for a while now and it's about time I thanked them for it. It's a good thing that Dark Horse is around to bring cool online comics and published comic strips to my attention (so I can bring that to you guys too). I have to admit, A SMELL OF STEVE is somewhat familiar to me in that I recognize the writer/artist's art style, but I have not read the comic strip before. But after reading PLANET OF BEER, I definitely will be seeking out Sendelback's humorous strip for future guffaws and belly rolls.
You never know what you're going to get with A SMELL OF STEVE. This collection predominantly highlights the "Planet of Beer" storyline where a space captain logically comes to the conclusion that with the infinite number of planets out there in the universe, there simply HAS to be a planet made of beer and the captain and his crew are bound and determined to find it. The hilarious quest to find this mythic planet takes the crew on adventures, but that's kind of secondary to the simple humor of the premise of a bunch of guys looking for a place made of beer and the day to day shenanigans that follow.
But A SMELL OF STEVE is much more than just a quest for beer planets. Sendelbach flits from one subject to the next, following the adventures of a good hearted Bigfoot who can snap at any moment and become a rampaging beast, bouncing along with his own version of Captain America who inexplicably has a huge moustache and an even bigger rack, making fun of a streaking Henry Kissinger with an ornery President Carter and his pal Kenny (an imp from the 6th Dimension) or sidling up next to the socially retarded Nubs Hackman: Son of Gene. My absolute favorite strip of them all is Black Aquaman who is basically just like the real Aquaman, only cooler and has no reservation to use firearms underwater. Best Black Aquaman strip is when the Loch Ness Monster's Mother falls in love with him and baby Nessie calls him "Daddy!"
I found that even the outtake reel at the end of the book highlighting some strips Sendelbach is not too proud of were classic. Sometimes the random-ness of these "not so proud" moments in A SMELL OF STEVE History made these strips funnier than the bulk of the book. A strip about a lost shirt! Gandalf loses his shit over his girlfriend when he finds out she slept with Sauron! Win a bath with Nick Nolte! Michael Keaton farting through roles until he finds one he takes all too seriously--that of a Math Textbook! Phil-Collins Man! Some folks’ trash is another's treasure, I guess.
Part of what makes A SMELL OF STEVE fun is the incredible distinct and consistent artwork. The characters look nothing like the people they are trying to be and it doesn't look like Sendelbach is even going for that, which only adds to how funny it is. Plus the humor isn't gross out or trying to be cool or edgy. It's just funny on an innocent, just plain hilarious level.
PLANET OF BEER: A SMELL OF STEVE TREASURY is one of those books you can leave on your coffee table or in a basket in the bathroom. You can pick it up and pass the time by laughing heartily at how ludicrously genius Sendelbach's view of the world really is.
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 series in stores October 2009, aptly titled TINGLERS.
Writer: Mark Rahner/Robert Horton Art: Dan Dougherty Publisher: Moonstone Books Reviewer: Mr. PastyROTTEN #1 is a comic book that combines the Wild West (booze, gunslingers and whores) with bloodthirsty zombies. Add a government conspiracy in a town with a dirty little secret and you have what we call in these parts “a must-buy.”
The $5.99 price tag left me with a slight case of sticker-shock, but ROTTEN is a whopping 52 pages of flesh-eating goodness without a single advertisement found in the entire book. They also don’t stiff you like some of the more mainstream titles that give ten pages of story followed by a three page preview of upcoming titles finished by a two page advertisement. You know, I’m starting to feel like the six bucks I paid for ROTTEN was a downright bargain.
Despite the seemingly foolproof premise, Moonstone could have easily screwed this up. Fortunately Rahner and Horton take the time to create a world full of distinct and believable characters that exhibit real emotions with convincing dialogue. The zombies are there in earnest, but their presence compliments the narrative instead of hijacking it. Lesser works seem to employ zombies as a plot device in which the undead are marched in to serve as a bridge between acts. ROTTEN uses them as something other than cardboard cutouts that lumber about in the background and moan unintelligibly. Zombies by nature must first start out as humans and those identities are explored inside ROTTEN with fantastic results.
Dan Dougherty’s artwork is a triumph. His pencils are simple but effective and his ability to use lighting and shadows to tell “the story beneath the story” should be required reading for any fanboy studying Comics 101.
ROTTEN’s narrative moves at a brisk pace (sometimes too brisk) but Rahner and Horton manage to squeeze every last drop out of the many characters they introduce. Despite its length, ROTTEN feels like a quick read, thanks largely in part to the anxious tone and accelerated pacing in act two. When I first bought ROTTEN, I was surprised it was priced so high. After reading it cover-to-cover, I’m surprised it was priced so low.
My Rating: 5 George Romeros out of 5
NEW MUTANTS #2
Writer: Zeb Wells Pencils: Diogenes Neves Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: JinxoI know, as far as mutants go, the cool school has always been to like The X-Men. And I do. But, to be honest, back in the day, I always enjoyed the New Mutants just a bit more. Maybe just because they WEREN'T X-Men. Or have an X in their name at all. It set them apart. I also really liked that they weren't really so much a "hero group" in the classic sense of the word. Yes, they had powers. Yes, they got into adventures. Yes, they had "foes". But they weren't the group trying to save the world. Mostly they were kids in school who kept falling into crap. They were kids first, heroes second. Going back to my affection for the group and their not being X-Men, a few years back when they restarted the book with a new group of new New Mutants, I was right there. Liked it okay, too. Then they changed the group into another X-Men group (I believe they were called the Superfluous Prepubescent X-Menzzzz) and I was out. Just annoyed me that they went from unique to one of a zillion X titles.
Well, now we have the new...new...old...New Mutants. The original gang is getting back together and I'm a happy camper. It's fun to see the kids reunited as young adults. They are using one of the group’s old enemies, Legion, as the central threat to bring several of the original New Mutants back together. Gives it a nice reunion feeling--old and yet new. And Legion is a solid big time threat to start with. With his reveal in issue #1, I thought, oh $%!#. I also like some of the implications this story puts in place. Seems Legion is a bit upset with a lot of the old gang, including at least one who hasn't yet returned. Just implying the potential return of one character gets me excited for maybe even more past characters popping up. Then you have Illyana who everyone thinks is only a wee bit evil who might, it seems, be bad to the bone.
Beyond the writing, the art is good too. I like the cover showing Legion's fractured personality via an actually fractured cover. I think it’s one of the more striking hero comic covers I've seen in awhile. The art inside is solid as well. It isn't dangerous and crazy edgy or anything but...I didn't really want that. It's solid. And the book is saying, okay, here's a group you remember from way back. So you really want it to feel like these ARE those same characters. The art and writing I think do that trick. I really felt like I had stepped right back in with the same gang of kids I new back in the day, just a little older.
Now, if Sunspot gets in a situation where he starts wondering what his favorite TV hero Magnum PI would do...well okay, then they've gone a step too far.
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.
TALES OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #59
Writer: Tristan Jones Artist: Paul Harmon Publisher: Mirage Publishing/TNMT 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.
My brother and I used to love the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. We got a lot of the toys and saw all the movies and cartoons. The best movie was probably the cartoony one that came out a couple years ago. I even loved the video game. I used to play it all the time and was really happy when dad helped me finish the game. I read a couple of the comics before but they didn’t seem as cool as the cartoons or movies. A lot of the people were different and it was easier to just follow the shows instead of the comics but I was able to try this comic out.
I really liked the art in the book. Even the parts where it was just regular people talking was good and the artist did a nice job on drawing all the offices and buildings and people. There was a lot of details in the comic that were good to find. And I really like the way the Turtles are drawn. The art isn’t in color so you have to recognize the Turtles by their weapons but the gray art looks cool in this comic. The best parts of the comic book were the two parts where the Turtles come to the rescue to save this news reporter who is looking for the Foot clan. The Turtles are really tough and take out the bad guys real easy. I think the Turtles are tougher in this comic than they were in the games or shows. I liked all of their ninja action and how they saved the reporter but took all her film so she couldn’t prove they were real. It was cool to see Hun in the comic, too. He was one of our favorite bad guys and was really hard to beat in the game. I like how him and King Cobra looked in the comic.
The part I didn’t like is that the Turtles are only in it for a couple of pages. The reporter is okay and the parts with the bad guys are good but the comic isn’t about the reporter. It’s supposed to be about the Turtles and they should be in it more. It probably would have been my favorite book of the week if the Turtles did a lot more than what happened in the book. It ended up being just okay with good art and some great fights with the Turtles but mostly just talking. It needs a lot more action.
PLANET SKAAR: SKAAR - SON OF HULK #11
Writer: Greg Pak Art: Ron Lim & Dan Panosian Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Mr. PastySKAAR: SON OF HULK, which clearly in no shape or form resembles Conan from Dark Horse, is back with a hulked-up look at teen angst and child abandonment.
The increasingly convoluted history of Hulk and his son Skaar has left me yearning for the simpler days when he ran from the Army and beat up on B-level villains. Now we have to deal with an episode of Maury Povich because Hulk decided to paint the town green on some rocky planet with a bald chick who tattoos her face. I can easily sum up the plot of SKAAR using Hulkish vernacular: Hulk smash Skaar’s feelings. Skaar mad. Skaar want to smash back.
Issue #11 builds up to the inevitable clash between Hulk and Skaar in issue #12 and features everything you would expect in a Hulk-inspired book including flying police cars, dead wolves, desert locations and “innocent” children. Unfortunately it also includes the group “Warbound” which might as well be called “Cliché-bound” since it’s comprised of an assortment of cookie-cutter warriors. Among them is Elloe, a girl with tight buns, Brood, a menacing Alien who is of course fluent in English and a token strong-guy named Korg, who resembles The Thing but dresses like Captain Freedom. Warbound is a poor man’s Hulkbusters. And did I mention they drive a Hummer? Sigh.
What I did like about the book was the strong but subtle use of frames that added both depth and complexity at key junctures. To his credit, Greg Pak is able to save this book in the final four pages by redirecting the anger that consumes Skaar and turning it outward. The last act did what any good comic does: It had me clamoring for the next issue.
The art presented here is proficient but unexceptional. Galactus is the lone bright spot, as he clomps around eating worlds like only he can. The rest of the panels are mired in baby-shit green, with a brush so heavy and drab that Skaar’s childhood problems pale in comparison to the depressing tone that envelops this book.
I started this story not caring about Skaar’s human form (think Atreyu sans charm) and I still don’t. SKAAR succeeds when he’s turned loose and no longer bogged down in self-pity. Just as many fans find the Hulk’s best years to be the time when he was a rampaging simpleton, Skaar is more appealing the less he speaks. When I want to be depressed I’ll listen to Morrissey. Stop moping around and start kicking some ass.
It’s what Daddy would have wanted.
My rating: 3 Mighty Joe Youngs out of 5.
STAR TREK: CREW #4
Written by: John Byrne Art by: John Byrne Published by: IDW Publishing Review by: BaytorIt didn’t suck.
Oh, for the love of Bod, it didn’t suck.
So far, the series has been plagued by Plot Delivery Systems instead of characters, wonky science (screaming in space), major plot contrivances (an enemy war ship getting deep into Federation space without being detected), and some serious issues with plot telegraphing. So it was with no real hope that I read the fourth installment of the Heroine With No Name.
And I actually kind of liked it. It’s a really simple plot by Trek standards, but Byrne continues to capture the look and feel of the era and for once, his skill (or lack thereof) in writing dialogue doesn’t get in the way of the fun. Plot telegraphing is less of a problem here because, despite Byrne never leaving any doubt as to what the particular clues of the mystery are (underline, underline, exclamation mark), the story ties in with a lesser known story. I was aware of said story but have never read it, so the ending here was a pleasant surprise. And, yes, the reveal is cheesier than hell, but here the tone of 60s television works to Byrne’s advantage, because you can almost imagine these characters smiling in a half-joke as they go to credits.
Number One wasn’t exactly a compelling character in the original STAR TREK pilot and Byrne’s been slowly (far too slowly) developing her into something a bit more interesting and that has finally started to take root here. Factor in a couple of other toys from the Trek Universe (future-Captain Pike and Captain April) and you can almost see Byrne’s eyes light up with delight. This is by no means a great story, but it’s the first time this series has managed to capture more than a fraction of the set-up’s potential.
THE MIGHTY #5
Writer: Peter Tomasi & Keith Champagne Art: Chris Samnee Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: BottleImpHere I was all set to begin this review by praising Peter Snejbjerg’s incredible artwork on this series. I was going to point out how his dramatic use of solid black ink and high contrast lighting gave the pages a moodiness and richness that is lacking in so many other comics these days. I was ready to write about how his simplified, slightly blocky character designs made for easy reads of emotion in both facial expressions and body language.
Then THE MIGHTY had to go and screw me by having someone else on art duties this month.
I’ve got no serious complaints, though—Chris Samnee doesn’t have quite the same film noir sensibilities coming through his inks as Snejbjerg, but his work is certainly good, and his drawing style and design sense are similar enough to blend nicely with the visual world that Snejbjerg has set up. And speaking of setting things up…
I know that some people (fellow reviewers included) dropped this title after the first couple of issues due to its seeming lack of plot advancement. And maybe it’s a valid criticism, especially given the average price of a comic book these days. At three bucks a pop (at least!) it becomes hard for the reader to justify continued purchasing on a product that gives little enjoyment in return. I myself have quit cold turkey on many a title for that very reason—most recently DC’s BOOSTER GOLD joined that list. But I also believe that each story has its own way of unfolding, and THE MIGHTY just wouldn’t work if the reader were thrust into non-stop action sequences.
To those readers who gave up on this comic: I urge you to give this series another look. Because after a slow burn of setting up Alpha One, Captain Cole and their slightly familiar, slightly clichéd dynamic, Tomasi and Champagne are cranking up the story. The readers are beginning to see the real Alpha One, and even though we don’t know exactly what that entails, we know that he sure as shit is not the Superman to Cole’s Jimmy Olsen. And this slow reveal of the superhero’s true nature just wouldn’t have the same impact were it not for the methodical way in which the creators have drawn out the story.
I’ve also gotta give kudos for DC—it’s great that a company which has been so anal-retentive about its fictional continuity (to the point where so-called “imaginary stories” are being woven into the tapestry of the “real” DC Universe) can still publish a series under the DC banner that stands alone and apart from Superman, Batman and the rest. THE MIGHTY just wouldn’t work if it had to labor under the baggage of that history. Of course, give Geoff Johns a few months and he’ll probably not only figure out a way to bring Alpha One into the mainstream universe, but ret-con him as a founding member of the Justice League of America as well.
In any case, THE MIGHTY is shaping up to be a top-notch mystery/superhero/science fiction series, and I’m certainly going to be sticking with it. This is one comic that returns my $2.99 investment with heaps of interest.
When released from his Bottle, the Imp takes the form of Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from the Northeast. You can see some of his artwork athere. He’s given up comics more times than he can remember. But every time he thinks he's out, they pull him back in.
Writer: Jeph Loeb Art: David Finch Publisher: Ultimate Marvel 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.
Magneto went crazy and started destroying the planet. He created this huge tidal wave that wiped out most of New York and his army of evil mutants has been going around attacking people and killing superheroes at the same time. Magneto knows that the heroes are going to try and stop him so while he’s hiding out he has his mutant followers going on the attack for him. I’m really surprised by how many main people got killed off in the story. Daredevil, Wasp, Thor and Professor X were all killed and so were a lot of X-Men.
The story starts with Spider-Man and the Hulk still fighting. This is one of the longest battles I’ve read. They were fighting in this book and they’ve been fighting in the Spider-Man book. I read the Spider-Man book before this one and didn’t really like it that much. It focuses on the Spider-Woman character and there are no words in the entire book. It’s just a lot of people running around doing nothing but looking for Spider-Man and then it just ends. It wasn’t really exciting like the other issues but at least it’s over. I do like how the Hulk is really huge in this comic. He looks like he is twice the size of the building. The battle ends real quick though. Hulk does one big smash and then that part of the story is over and it goes to Dr Strange fighting an evil demon.
Dr. Strange is in a lot of books now. He’s fighting the same type of creatures in the NEW AVENGERS comic but he doesn’t have all of his powers. Actually I think that the magic stuff in the comics is pretty boring so I’m glad that it ends fast here. The evil spirit wraps Dr. Strange up in his own cape and strangles him till his head pops. It was pretty gory but I bet the spirit was just annoyed with how lame Dr. Strange is in the AVENGERS comic and wanted to kill him for it. That’s a joke but Dr. Strange is still pretty lame. He and Wasp can go start their own team.
The rest of the comic is about different heroes going around and trying to build up their own army to go fight Magneto and his team. Mr. Fantastic and Dr. Doom team up to go find Nick Fury. Wolverine is trying to get the Hulk on their team. I think it’s a good idea for all the other humans to try and make a team together because it’s the only way they’re going to beat Magneto but I thought it was dumb when Nick Fury called the people ‘bungholes’. If he’s going to curse they should do those little symbols. Bunghole is a dumb thing to say. The only other thing I really didn’t like is that Hulk disappears. He gets found in the middle of the book and they try and convince him to join the team but he isn’t in the battle at the end and no one says what happened to him, unless he’s the secret weapon or something.
There is a lot of action at the end of the book with all of the heroes going in to attack Magneto. Sabretooth is a really violent mutant and he starts to try and eat the Angel but Hawkeye takes him out. I’m surprised that the book is so bloody but Hawkeye is a very cool character and I like how he used his arrow to take Sabretooth out. Another cool part is when Magneto is holding Thor’s hammer and the girl with the magic sword goes after him and cuts Magneto’s arm off. I couldn’t believe that happened. The best part is near the end with Captain America smashing through the window. I like the way he’s drawn with his shield out and attacking Magneto.
I like how the whole team of heroes surrounded Magneto at the end. I don’t care how strong Magneto is. With all of those heroes Magneto is going to get his butt kicked. This book is a lot of fun because it’s filled with a lot of characters and there is always a lot of action where everyone is using their powers and stuff. And because it’s in its own universe characters can get killed so it’s more serious. I think the battle in the next issue is going to be crazy!
Rating: 9 out of 10