AICN COMICS REVIEWS: SCOTT PILGRIM! AVENGERS! GI JOE: COBRA! AND MUCH MORE!
SCOTT PILGRIM’S FINEST HOUR Vol. 6
Writer/Artist: Brian Lee O’Malley Publisher: Oni Press Guest reviewer: CreepyThinManI just finished reading SCOTT PILGRIM'S FINEST HOUR and I confess I find myself.....disappointed. Here be SPOILERS. Maybe.......
I started reading SCOTT PILGRIM earlier this year, due to the movie being made by Edgar Wright, who directed SPACED. SPACED Series 1 is, FYI, a masterpiece. SHAUN OF THE DEAD was very good while HOT FUZZ was OK. Well, I absolutely LOVED the SPACED series and couldn't wait for the movie and, most especially, the last book from author/artist Brian Lee O'Malley.
What a disappointment this book was. I literally burned through it in 30 minutes and it felt just soooo weak in comparison to the previous five books, which had sooooo much nuance and detail, while not only providing satisfying stories about Scott Pilgrim but also making sure to give the other characters their moments to shine. The thing that made the other books great was those little moments of identifiable human emotion that grounded the whole thing when there weren’t battles with ninjas, robots and evil exes. You could look at not only Scott, but all of the characters who were going through things in their lives that you recognized in your own. Then there was the way that O'Malley would subvert your expectations and twist the story in satisfying ways. None of that here. There are no great revelations and the “mysteries” that were set up in the previous books have no pay off apart from “oh yeah, you know that thing, well, this is what that was…” and each lands with a thud. Ramona mentions watching the X-FILES, which felt the exact same way. All set up with no satisfactory climax.
This book just feels like a piece of business designed to get the whole thing out of the way. Characters and events feel completely perfunctory. All the peripheral characters just sort of stand around and don't provide SP with any real sort of emotional or intellectual support except for a pat on the back. Speaking of the supporting characters, you could have taken them out of this book and I don’t think it would have made a bit of difference. I just didn’t feel this book at all.
The worst part is that we don’t get any sense of these people moving forward in their lives apart from some half-assed left turns in place of any real development. With each book, you felt that, at the end, all the characters (at least Scott) had some sort of breakthrough or realization. They learned something that allowed them to *ahem* get to the next level. VOL. 6 is basically and literally “Must defeat Gideon and get back with Ramona….” And that’s all there is to it. Sure, some obstacles are in the way but the predictable “Happy Ending” was never in doubt and you could feel O’Malley adding as much shoe leather as possible to make it seem as though the story was more epic then it was. Oh and what was the point of having Envy Adams return? I thought her story was given sufficient closure even if Scott didn’t get a hug. She’s a perfect example of what I mean when I say that the characters have no forward momentum and learn nothing. At the end of VOL. 3, you really felt that she had discovered some things about the world and herself and had changed -- maybe for the better.
Also, Gideon Gordon Graves was a pathetic character and a piss poor villain. The previous books gave him such a vibe of underlying menace and you felt that he was a part of some real darkness in Ramona’s life. Based on her reactions to what Envy said to her in VOL. 3, and the vision of her that Scott saw in her head in VOL. 4, I expected to find out that she had been involved in some sordid, lurid and sleazy activities related to her employment by Gideon. I guess O’Malley didn’t have the balls to go all dark on us and decided to pussy out with that half-assed “masterplan” GGG had going on. I had hoped that O’Malley would go very dark as it would give Scott the challenge of learning to love Ramona despite the things she had done in her past while also providing a counterpoint to all the video game, anime and manga references which suggests a severe case of arrested development in Scott that I wanted to see him confront and conquer in VOL. 6. That Ramona was a runner because of the things she had done, was ashamed of, and left because she wanted to tell her exes, but couldn’t, for fear that they would reject her, so, she rejected them first. I know these are just graphic novels but I was really hoping for a bit more emotional complexity, especially given the excellent character work presented in the first 5 volumes. I’m less interested in the fight scenes then I am the catharsis and/or reconciliation that the characters earn through their trails and tribulations. I felt none of this in Vol 6.
Ultimately, I think it was less important that Scott and Ramona get back together than they both obtain a greater knowledge of themselves, gain some peace of mind and are both able to move forward with or even without each other. It’s not about living “Happily ever after…”, it’s about making the best of things and enjoying your time together while knowing when to let go and move on. That's what being in a relationship is about and, for me, Scott Pilgrim didn't make that leap. Game Over.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Art: John Romita Jr. Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Henry Higgins Is My Homeboy"Other world Apocalypse gets demon Hulk. Our Apocalypse gets Gambit, with death gas. Damnit Marvel, just...just damnit. "
I realize that a lot of people dislike...okay, burn effigies of Bendis for his AVENGERS runs. But, recently especially, his take on the teams have been fairly good. NEW AVENGERS has a fun roster, and this take on the big names of the Marvel universe gives it an epic feeling the series has been missing. I really enjoyed the first two issues of this series, but I'm not quite behind this one. Maybe it's Romita's art not comparing to the last two issues, maybe it's the anticlimatic air of it all, I don't know. Maybe I'm still holding onto all my rage from reading AMAZING, and it's making me want to have a go at anyone I can get at. But this one, while it does have its moments, isn't as good at the last two.
Writing: This issue follows up with the brawl began last issue, between the Avengers and a future version of Apocalypse and his horsemen, among them members of the Avengers. And what should be an insane fight that I want to make love to instead becomes instead becomes bland at times, and even worse, occasionally melodramatic.
"Die a thousand deaths, God of thunder."
Looks like Apocalypse is bringing his A game, Thor. Be prepared for when he starts using the mother jokes. I'm not to fond of Bendis's take on Thor or Apocalypse in this issue. Bendis doing epic usually ends up sounding more like bad role playing game lines. On the other hand, stuff like Spider-Man, like always with Bendis, come off brilliantly. I really do consider Bendis one of the better Spidey writers in ages, and even in team books he gets some chance to shine. Essentially, the plot line about the children of the Avengers taking over the future takes a back seat to the almost issue long fight sequence. It feels like filler at times. Though, some attention is paid to a trope I'm not too fond of in time travel stories, which I like. The entire team is ready to go before Hill points out how utterly idiotic that is to send all of the Avengers into the time stream and leave the city unprotected from time spitting out another big bad. It loses some of its appeal when you remember that there are two other teams of Avengers to help the city, but at least it gets addressed. Hill proves to be right, and the issue ends with half the team facing down the next time immigrant. I'm not excited about Killraven showing up, but that stems from the fact that I don't want to read more Thor inspired dialogue. The other flaw in this part’s writing has come from the very anticlimatic feel of it. Between the Horsemen just....disapparating I guess, and the time machine being rebuilt in literally minutes, nothing has the resonance to really be effective.
Art: Romita's art(and I'm usually a fan of Romita) is muddled, with scenes looking off and some of the characters just looking weird. Maria Hill looks like a man more than once, and Spider-Man makes some...odd body movements. This should be the kind of thing Romita excels at, but it just doesn't hold up to some of his other fight scenes. That's not to say there aren't any good moments. Spider-Man's save of Iron Man is fantastic, and is well done. And the designs of the Horsemen is just fantastic. Sells the threat immediately, and unlike other Horsemen in the past (I'm looking at you, EmoGambit), it's going to take a few more shots to even slow them down.
Best Moment: Spider-Woman spelling out to Spider-Man that one of the Horsemen was a future version of him, before Captain Marvel or whatever the hell he's calling himself, shows up to attempt a joke. A nice scene, with some fun interaction between all the "Spider-People" members of the team.
Worst Moment: Almost any time Apocalypse speaks. It sounds like a Larper trying to be intimidating. I'm sure it works in your head, but in the real world it makes you look like an idiot.
Writing - 2/5 - Though it does have its strong moments, the overall feeling of "meh" sets in here.
Art - 2/5 - Too many odd faces, weird positions, inconsistent shots, and bland looks can distract you from the marvelous looks some of the characters get.
Overall: 2/5 - Disappointing, but mostly because the last two were fairly good. Hopefully next issue, with half of the team going into the future and the other half fighting dinosaurs in New York, it should get back to its higher standards.
FRACTURED FABLES Vol.1
Written By: The best in comics today Illustrated By: Likewise Publisher: Shadowline/ Image Comics Reviewer: Optimous DoucheSorry to be flip with the credits, but there are simply too many damn people that contributed to the tsunami size amount of stories in FRACTURED FABLES and frankly I’m just too damn lazy to type credits for forty minutes. If you want to know who contributed to this graphic package of goodness, pick up a comic book, find the credits, and there is a 75% chance one of the people listed contributed to this entertaining, yet shockingly still suitable for kids fairytale remaking.
Fangeezers that remember the uproarious “Rocky & Bullwinkle” vignettes “Fractured Fairytales,” will immediately get the gist of FRACTURED FABLES. Just like those cartoons of yore FRACTURED FABLES retells our favorite childhood stories (practically all of them –seriously, this thing is huge) for the modern age. But that is right where the similarities end, because in no way shape or form could someone from the late 60s have imagined the twisted shit today’s comic creators can conjure when let loose on childhood story fodder . Keeping right in step with the Silverline corporate motto, this book does introduce rugrats to sequential panel-based storytelling and ensures each story walks away with a nice little nugget of morality. Make no mistake though; this is a kid’s book you will be trying to wrestle from their grubby little hands.
I loved every story in FRACTURED FABLES, but there’s no freaking way I’m covering all of them. If I miss one of your personal favorites from back when you were a wee one, rest assured that Silverline is more ambitious than I am. Like Prego, “Don’t worry. It’s in there.”
So here are a few of my favorites, but the list is far from complete.
The Cover: While not technically a story, Team Allred’s art style that blends 60’s kitsch with modern cynicism immediately let me know that this book was created by comic people to shepherd the next generation into comics. And this served as morality lesson one, “Sometimes kids, you can judge a book by its cover…I’m just saying.”
Little Red Riding Hood: Take everything you knew about the old tale, including an art style akin to the Little Golden books and reset all expectations on what a granny truly is in this day and age. Instead of some doddering infirmed old woman, granny is on her second career as a kid’s karate instructor. Yeah, you guessed it. This wolf is in for a grrrrl powah ass kicking.
Mary Had a Little Spam: Pretty self-explanatory with some delicious artwork provided by longtime Image penciler (and Silverline editor) Jim Valentino.
The Secret Princess Society: One of the few prose style stories peppered throughout the book. “Princess” is a great tale on the annoyances and the bonds between siblings. What truly astounded me though is how Whilce Portacio’s art can enhance a story even sans panels.
Trouble at the North Pole: Simply hilarious...artist and writer, Shane White, takes the 24x7 news cycle to the North Pole to show the effects of global warming on everyone’s favorite fat man and his child slave labor ring (call them elves if you want, but which scenario is more plausible?). White deftly infuses modern woes into the Santa mythos without giving away the granddaddy of childhood disillusionment (spoiler alert), that Santa only exists at the mall.
On Top of Spaghetti: Children’s songs are fucking ridiculous when viewed through the lens of reality and spaghetti is one of the big ones on the absurdity scale. Morrison does a wonderful job preying on the fear adults would have towards this dangerous amount of spaghetti and counterbalancing that fear with the child’s reckless glee that his favorite food is taking over his house and yard. Little Miss Muffet: This reminded me of a Comcast commercial from a few years back where they were trying to hock the wonders of high-speed internet by showing how it fueled a little girl’s interest in researching bugs. Lepp did a great job not only ensuring this narrative rhymed, but also by breaking down a few thousand years of fable misogyny. Muffet is a bug collector and the ultimate fate of the spider is hilarious.
The Real Princess: Unfortunately I was not able to read the FRACTURED FABLES finished product; instead I am relegated to a grainy PDF (not a slight against Shadowline, this is how I review 99% of my freebs). So as much as I would love to talk about the story in this piece, I just could not make out the flourished font. The art, however, Christian Ward paints a water colored and insanely trippy landscape. Very cool stuff.
The People vs. Hansel & Gretel: Take the endless number of “Judge” shows that currently clog the afternoon television airwaves and transform the witch from Hansel and Gretel into a put out plaintiff after some greedy children decide to eat her abode. Scott’s “South Park” style of artwork is merely the icing on the cake of this delicious 180 degree turn.
Snoring Beauty: On the surface this merely seems like “Sleeping Beauty” with a deviated septum. However, do not pass lightly over this tale young men, the lesson is invaluable. Women lie to us before we get married. They take their dumps in the Burger King bathroom before coming over, they don’t sleep in hopes that you won’t notice they snore, they even go so far as to apply make-up before you wake up in the morning. Take heed little boys before you pick your mate; all women, even princesses, are human.
The Little Mermaid: I did this list chronologically how they appear in the book, but if I had to pick a “best-of-the-best” this would be it. Art and story combine fantastically to reinvent the babe aquatic’s tale. While the “be careful what you wish for” message is still firmly intact, Peter David’s traditional humor and wit shines through in every panel. Juan Ferreyra paints some damn pretty seascapes and has a great time on dry land as well making all of our favorite Mermaid’s wishes and horrors come to life.
Cinderella: Again I have to take a bogey stroke on not getting the story in this one. Sadly this story leveraged some fancy flourish text, that while utterly appropriate for a fairytale simply comes across unreadable in PDF format. The art though takes the top Optimous Douche honor. I haven’t seen a hell of a lot from Rodin Esquejo and that is a pure comic travesty. Not only is the imagery gorgeous, but I didn’t really need to read any text to understand what was happening. This is a man that knows how to use lines and provide detail without muddying the page with extraneous hashes and slashes of the pen. Rodin, please let me know of your future work.
Despite the length of this review, I have merely scratched the surface on the wealth of stories contained in FRACTURED FABLES. If you love comics and have kids, this is the perfect way to get your wee ones to imbibe the sequential panel based storytelling you have grown to love. If you don’t love comics, but are sick to death of the same fucking stories our great-great-great-great grandparents grew up with, FRACTURED FABLES is a fresh, at times acerbic and always wholly original take on the fables of yesteryear.
Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2011 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.
SCOURGE #0: ZERO TO SIXTY
Writer: Scott Lobdell Art: Eric Battle Publisher: Aspen Comics Reviewer: Mr. PastyVolunteering to read another “man vs. zombie” comic is like going in for an episiotomy when you’re not pregnant. And believe me I really wanted to soil this book with a Diceman-esque rant of all the reasons why Aspen Comics should be blown off the face of the map like that muddy village during the first few minutes of OUTBREAK. Then Scott Lobdell had to go and do a crazy thing like make this book good. Check that, make it great.
SCOURGE #0 is basically the beginning stages of I AM LEGEND – the masterpiece by Richard Matheson, not that urinal cake with the Fresh Prince that was flushed out of the box office via collective indifference. You can tell right from the cover that Lobdell isn’t fucking around. I appreciate a terse introduction to my heroes. Believe it or not, I’m capable of connecting the animated dots. It aggravates me when writers feel the need to explain everything in their protagonist’s life from DNA up until the opening frame. It’s usually handled by some interlude where a bunch of supporting characters talk out loud and reveal major plot points – just in case they conveniently end up inside a comic book.
In SCOURGE, Lobdell doesn’t waste anytime setting you up. It’s page one, and it’s a fucking shitstorm. Our hero, former Marine and NYPD SWAT member John Griffin, is knee deep in colleagues and passer-bys who just so happened to have mutated into killer gargoyles who want to recruit other humans into their bloodthirsty horde by biting or stabbing them. If the humans resist or can’t be turned, they get killed. It’s basically the formula for Christianity – just not as violent. Well ol’ Griff doesn’t want to convert so he has to run-and-gun his way to the other side of Manhattan to pick up his son from the theatre before the gargoyles do. And in the process he must also confront an evil so unspeakably horrifying it makes the gargoyles look like something from a Bob Ross painting. Is it the antichrist himself? No, it’s his ex-wife, and she wants to know why he can’t be a better father to his kid. I’m telling you, folks, this is a white-knuckle tale of survival.
The artwork ain’t too shabby either. Colorful but still gritty, I got a kick out of the two dozen or so ways Eric Battle was able to draw Griffin in peril. He’s kind of a gentleman’s version of Frank Castle. Just as mean, just as dangerous, but carries himself with a little more class and doesn’t have to schlep that whole “waaah, my kids are dead” baggage. Yet.
I really enjoyed SCOURGE #0 and I think the title ZERO TO SIXTY is a fitting way to describe this. You hit the ground running on page one and you don’t stop until there’s nothing left to read. What’s causing this pandemic? Will Griffin make it across town before the gargoyles do? Is it already too late? Will his ex-wife get what’s coming to her? These are some of the questions that are bound to be answered (amidst the nonstop carnage) in issue # 1. I can’t wait to buy it.
Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at MMaMania.com here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.
Writer: Brain Michael Bendis Artist: John Romita Jr.
NEW AVENGERS #2
Writer: Brian Bendis Artist: Stuart Immonen Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: JncndacI don’t know what drugs Big Bad Brian Bendis is on but I am glad he’s a junky cause this Heroic Age Avenger Action is Crazy Comic Crack. That’s right True Believers, face front, drink the Kool Aid and enjoy it for what it is: old fashioned comic goodness. I’m talking about NEW AVENGERS #2 & AVENGERS #3.
Now I know a lot of you kiddies out there love to hate for the sake of hate; let’s call you our disarmingly demented, contrary cousin Kevin. Everyone’s got one nowadays. That’s those peculiar people or persons who want to go all critical on whatever the latest greatest goodie is, be it movies, music, musings or Metamucil if everybody likes it, Cousin Kevin’s gonna hate it. Well keep this in mind IT’S A COMIC. It’s FICTION for four (ty) year olds, frighteningly fascinating far out fiction, but its just meant to give you a merry moment of magic to fend off the dingy dull drudgery of daily life.
That being said I am not going to go all complaining Kevin on you and point out that it is so infuriating that Wolverine & Spiderman are in 27,000 titles at once. That 17,000 Avengers Titles is mental. That I don’t really care about AVENGERS ACADEMY, AVENGERS ASSOCIATION, AFFILIATION or ACCLIMATION. All I care about are cool stories with my favorite heroes doing, well heroic stuff and this AVENGERS #3 & NEW AVENGERS 2 is, so far, giving me just that.
Let me ‘splain, no, is too much, let me sum up.
AVENGERS #3: Really Cool Kang Cover! I hate comics with covers that don’t have anything to do with the story…spoiler alert…Kang is not in this story…end spoiler alert.
Yes, I know Kevin, but other that, what a great read. We gots Thor being belted thru peoples apartments, Spiderman cracking wise, Tony showing some heart (pun intended) and being disturbed by the Four Horsemen being twisted versions of Avengers, Wolverine smelling something’s up & Hawkeye bucking the leader & Thor says “Have at Thee!” Those are moments true to those characters & that’s what I am digging, that’s what works, Bendis gets it, digs these crazy line ups & doesn’t want to wait 10 years of single linear story telling in one Avengers title to tell it. Or he is just a power mad Marvel Moron making mucho moola, either way we win! This run is starting to feel a lot like the run of Perez & Busiek that began in ‘98 when Marvel last went retro. The same feel with a little more humor. But I for one will enjoy the ride as long as the stories have sound, not contrived emotional resonating; rock me to my core conclusions. Expectations, Uh….yeah.
I have also heard Cute Kevin hating on JRJR’s artwork, I unapologetically protest! Here is a dark secret….growing up, I Hated Jack Kirby’s Art! There I said it, I thought it sucked. Now I was reading comics in the 70’s Kirby had departed Marvel & had his day & the only time I saw he’s stuff was in reprints of regular issues when deadlines weren’t met and then his godawful run on Captain America when he came back to Marvel AND which in comparison to Steve Englehart & Sal Buscema’s run, as far as I was concerned was the beginning of the end of comic book reading for me for years. Yet all I heard, all the time was: King Kirby, Kirby Krackle, Kirby, Kirby Kirby! It wasn’t until years later (2009) when I completed my Thor collection that I finally began to appreciate the greatness of his Kirbiness on that oh so glorious run (some of Stan’s best stuff too). So what does it mean? I don’t know, Wait! I do know! It’s like when you’re a kid and you hate hamburgers then you grow up and you love hamburgers and you eat so many you become grossly obese & look like Jabba the Hut or Harry Knowles, no wait that’s not it. It grows on you, yeah, like a fungus, that’s it, give it a chance, you may like it…Romita’s artwork, not the hamburgers. Oh, and was that Devil Dinosaur on the last panel? Coooool, but I digress.
NEW AVENGERS #2: Now I am getting a definitely definitively Defenders direction in this so called NEW AVENGERS. I am also relieved to tell you that the cover, somewhat uninspired as it was, has everything to do with the story. See sometimes watch what you wish for, Kevin. But other than that, wait for it, here it comes, another great read! Holy Moley, two good comics in the same review! Who would a thunk it?
This has got to be the most twisted Avengers line up since Reed & Sue joined! No, wait, that sucked, this is the opposite, it blows, no wait I mean its good. Spidey & Wolverine (I know get over it Kevin we covered this, take another sip of kool-aid) Ben Grimm, Ms. Marvel, Iron Fist, Mocking Bird, Hawkeye, I know your saying, dude, I don’t see a Defenders connection. Well I say dude, I say, give me a second:. DOCTOR STRANGE!...What? Ok so he is only one Defender but he is really really Defendery and Hawkeye was a Defender for awhile, so there! Anyway Bendis does a very interesting thing with all the spells being cast by the good doctor; he spells them out at the bottom of the panels like a bizarre Beelzebubian bibliography. This book would be worth the purchase if the only thing in it was the exchange between Peter & Logan after the latter stabbed the good doctor. If only Mr. Voodoo head would stop crying, there is NO CRYING in baseball & when you’re the Sorcerer Supreme, for the love of Pete! I smell Stephen Strange reclamation & redemption coming or is it gumbo? Anyway, I also loved the artwork (big surprise).
Speaking of the artwork, another big secret, y’know why I hated Kirby so much? I think it was because I so loved, nay, I adored Big John Buscema’s art, especially when it was embellished by Jolting Joe Sinnott. I have a lovely autographed copy of my very first Avengers comic, issue 104, the one with my wife, I mean the Scarlet Witch on the cover, signed by the Jolting one himself, another story for the therapist I mean another day. Sorry digressing again. The artwork: nice clean lines and Stuart Immonen has some of the very same clean lines that I like. Lots of great splash pages too, something Big John was great at and what a great cliff hanging final page, So at this point you’re wondering how does this laughable little loser who grew up liking clean lines & hated Kirby end up liking JRJR? I don’t know, hamburgers?
Nuff said, C’mon Kevin, Drink the Kool-Aid and Assemble! The Avengers are defending! Now where did I put that Eye of Agamotto?
G.I. JOE: COBRA Vol. 2 #6
Writers: Mike Costa & Christos Gage Artists: Sergio Carrera & J.K. Woodward Publisher: IDW Publishing Reviewer: KletusCasadyI think G.I. JOE: COBRA #1 is the first G.I. Joe comic I’ve ever read. I’ve flipped though issues but nothing ever grabbed me. Most of the comics I looked at appeared to just continue the cartoon feeling without much at stake. Even as a kid seeing all those blue and red lasers fly around and not hit anyone seemed kind of weird, not that I’m expecting a Garth Ennis/ Jacen Burrows G.I. JOE comic (I’d read it though!) but I want something with some weight. I know there’s probably some good stuff out there (any ideas?) but up until G.I. JOE: COBRA #1, I had yet to find it. The first series was excellent and dealt with one of my favorite Joes in Chuckles. Basically he is sent to infiltrate Cobra in deep cover and report any and all wrongdoings they are a part of back to Duke (?). Now it seems like a pretty straightforward storyline but some serious shit happens during this series that had the high stakes I always thought G.I. JOE comics were capable of. I was a little bummed that Chuckles’ story ended because he was spiraling into a black hole of regret, revenge and reckoning and it was getting better every issue (his story will continue later in the series). I will say that I don’t think this new story arc is as good as the Chuckles story but its pretty fun.
This story line deals with Scoop…no…you don’t know who he is…that’s because he was one of the lamer G.I. Joes; I think he came with a video camera and a lame gun. I think I ditched the camera and outfitted him with some better guns when I had his toy as a kid (as I did with most of my G.I. Joes that I thought needed a better arsenal to roll in my squad). I’m not sure if all of the G.I. JOE: COBRA stories are going to deal with undercover work but it makes Cobra seem more like an unstoppable terrorist force that has its teeth in most aspects of crime from white collar to Serpentor running a cult possibly to “recruit” more Vipers. Between this story line and the last, we can see that Cobra operates on so many levels that it seems like the Joes are really fighting uphill when it comes to most battles. Serpentor has created somewhat of a criminal anomaly that is both invisible and visible at the same time. It’s invisible in the sense that there’s no doubt something more devious is going on under the surface but at the same time there is a surface level that people are aware of but probably regard Serpentor as some sort of life wellness coach out to make a quick buck. I like this comic because Cobra is smart as hell in this series and honestly I don’t think they’ve actually shown them do anything wrong but you know it’s going on….cause…well…its Cobra.
This issue was kind of weird because every other page had the Serpentor version of the bible and after a while it started to freak me out and I like the idea of what they were doing there but I wanted more story and less freaky Serpentor bible verses. Carrera & Woodward’s artwork isn’t spectacular but it works. It reminds me of the kind of art found in Ed Brubaker’s books (like CRIMINAL, CAPTAIN AMERICA or DAREDEVIL), where the artists create a mood with their art that serves the story better than a flashy artist would. What I mean by this is that while the artwork isn’t going to blow your mind, the art creates a very distinct mood that mostly focuses on the main character (or characters) and things that they are directly interacting with. It’s no way as good as Sean Phillips, Luke Ross or Michael Lark but the way they create an over all feeling with their art is very similar.
I think at this point (if it hasn’t already been done) G.I. JOE should just go balls out on a series because why the hell not, kids aren’t playing with G.I. Joes anymore and the only people who have stake in these characters are old guys like us that played with them as a kid but now have no real reason to revisit our love for G.I. Joes except in comics (GI JOE movie?!?! Nope…Never heard of it…actually it wasn’t THAT bad…pretty bad though). This series is the G.I. JOE comic I’ve been waiting for and the only thing better than this would be if there was a comic with the entire team that held as much weight as this series. I was shocked at the end of the first G.I. JOE: COBRA and while I don’t think this story arc will deliver like that one did, I’m sure this series will continue to be a fun read.
CHI’S SWEET HOME Vol. 1 - 2
By Kanata Konami Released by Vertical Reviewer: Scott GreenOne of the manga tradition's remarkable qualities is its ability to fascinate readers who are not pre-disposed to be interested in the subject it addresses. In fact, it's famously the inverse. Japanese interest in basketball grew because of SLAM DUNK. HIKARU NO GO spawned a resurgence of the classic game, GO. However, in that I didn't come away from CHI’S SWEET HOME wanting to adopt a cat, I'm not sure that the generalization applies to this manga.
CHI’S SWEET HOME concerns a kitten separated from its mother who is taken in by a couple and their young son. In the early goings, Chi's sniffing around and wrestling with sneakers are interrupted by sudden memories of her mother, and the family's apartment complex has a rule against keeping pet. That's what passes for drama here. So, the ten page stories follow Chi as the kitten is trained to urinate on a box of shredded paper or discovers the joy of chasing after bouncing balls. The cat is minimally anthropomorphized. Her thoughts are verbalized, and even given mannerisms such as childish mispronunciation, but there's an evident intension to keep her thinking like a cat.
Prior to the release of the manga, Chi's had some anime/manga fan awareness in North America due in part to a run of episodes on CRUNCHYROLL. These were three minute shorts, with descriptive titles like "Chi, smell things" "Chi, frets" or "Chi, goes into the yard," but due to its attention commanding cuteness, Chi garnered some talk. There was a lot of breathless anticipation expressed when Vertical announced the licensing and oo-ing and ah-ing when people saw a bit.
Following some of the vocal proponents on Twitter, it certainly seems like Chi's is adored by cat, or at least pet loving audiences.
As someone who is neither bothered by or drawn to critters, I have to say that Chi's didn't exactly melt my frozen heart.
I found Chi's to be a low key pleasure and appreciated its precise truthfulness to cattishness. However, I wasn't left agape by its darling cuteness. The joy of watching a cat play is well translated into manga, but for someone who isn't a cat lover, it didn't have the mood/perception altering power of more human manga, like Yotsuba&! Maybe deeper recognition of cat behavior gives the manga the needed extra juice to be as adorable as some have said to find it.
CHI’S fits into a tradition of pet manga, and when a work like that makes it over to North America, it raises the question as to how appropriate is it for all ages/audiences.
I've second guessed YOTSUBA's appropriateness, and like YOTSUBA!, CHI’S runs in a seinen anthology for older male audiences. Yet, there's a distinction here. YOTSUBA! runs in DENGEKI DAIOH, an anthology that specializes in showcasing cute girls for that audience. CHI’S runs in MORNING, an anthology that's as eclectic as any. It's run Makoto Kobayashi's cat based WHAT’S MICHAEL?, published in North America by Dark Horse, that mixed CHI’S style pet stories, with more anthropomorphic ones, with more bizarre or pop-culture parody comedy sequences. And, it's the anthology that house perennial kids' recommendation GON, Masashi Tanaka's wordless, painstakingly rendered nature studies, humorously intruded upon by a micro t-shirt. However, it's also home to soccer title GIANT KILLER, the anime of which is streaming in North America, MONSTER/20th CENTURY BOYS creator Naoki Urasawa's look at the significance of symbols, BILLY CAT, Youji Fukuyama's manga version of Don Giovanni, Kaiji Kawaguchi's provocative look at World War II ZIPANG, Go Nagai's older audience revisitation of a classic DEVILMAN LADY, Takehiko Inoue's much praised look at the life of "Sword Saint" Miyamoto Musashi, VAGABOND, Moebius and Jiro Taniguchi's ICARO, Moyoko Anno's look at the life of a career woman, HATARAKI MAN, and many other notables.
As such, this will be one case in which I don't read much extra out of the manga's context.
CHI’S is in color, its pages are flipped to left to right orientation, and it generally features large panels. It seems that its page layouts could be easily read by young audiences and those who have trouble with the manga/comic medium. Where they to come into the manga with little affection for the subject, as I did, they'd probably find it a pleasure read. If they actually had some affection for felines, it's going to be adorable all the way.
Scott Green has been writing for AICN ANIME for over nine years. If you like what you see here and love anime & manga, be sure to check out his latest AICN ANIME column every week on AICN.
Hey folks, Ambush Bug here with another trio of Indie goodies I picked up from this year’s San Diego Comic Con. I picked up a ton of good stuff this year from outside of the mainstream and these three books were at the top of my reading pile. Find out why below…
PRISON PIT Vol.1 By Johnny Ryan Fantagraphics BooksSometimes a comic book comes along and kicks your dick in. This is that comic. Writer/artist Johnny Ryan is my kind of freak. The raunchy and over the top violen-terrific action and splatter-tastic gore that take place in PRISON PIT must be seen to be believed. Ryan tosses an unnamed alien barbarian into a hostile landscape with little or no back story other than he was once a prisoner on a ship and was tossed out to this world to his death. But our hero is too tough to die. One gory battle after another occurs. This story is too tough for sissy things like plot. It’s just one awesome fight after another. And though Ryan’s pencils may seem somewhat rudimentary at first, on further inspection one has to marvel at the artist’s talent to create and recreate such simplistic panels. Be it the unique character design or the range the artist shows while mapping out a fight scene, Ryan is downright masterful. Ryan’s choreography of fight scenes from panel to panel is confident and sophisticated. But don’t get me wrong, this is some crude shit. If an alien masturbating and wearing his own semen as a battle suit of armor offends you, then look elsewhere. If it makes you giggle until stuff jiggles (which was my reaction) then this is the book for you. Fans of MTV’s old LIQUID TELEVISION series and Adult Swim’s SUPER JAIL should definitely put PRISON PIT on their must have list.
A TREASURY OF VICTORIAN MURDER: THE BEAST OF CHICAGO OGN By Rick Geary NBM Comics LitI picked this book up at San Diego at writer/artist Rick Geary’s booth after I interviewed him. Being a resident in Chicago for ten years, I leapt at the chance to find out more about one of Chicago’s most notorious killers. The story plays out in true Geary fashion as he pulls the reader in by painting a vivid portrait of a city on the verge of becoming a metropolis and then once the reader is sucked in, he pulls off the mask to reveal a resident of the city who is more monster than man. Very little by way of judgment occurs in this historical narrative which describes what seems like a successful businessman in H.H. Holmes, on the outside, but once the layers are pulled back and the monster is revealed in latter chapters, you will find it hard to put this down until it’s finished. Holmes constructed a house of horrors on the south side of Chicago. Geary goes into painstaking detail of the terrifying rooms and devices Holmes used to torture and cover up his murders. The distance Geary takes from these horrific acts is misleading. Geary’s captioned narrative doesn’t place the reader in the scene, but does pull the reader in with their vivid descriptions. Soon, you don’t realize how close you are to the story and the characters until Geary starts revealing what Holmes really did. That final chapter in this book where the horrors are revealed…it doesn’t get more disturbing than that. I had a chance to interview Geary at this year’s con. His interview will be up on the site soon. In the meantime, seek out Geary’s work at NBM. If you like true crime, you will kick yourself for not discovering Geary’s work sooner and race out to get more after finishing this hell of a read.
OBLIVION (SDCC Preview Book) Radical ComicsThough the content of this preview book only offers a mere glimpse of TRON director Joseph Kosinski and REX MUNDI writer Arvid Nelson’s story of one of the last men on earth trying to protect what little is left of civilization from underground dwelling Scavenger aliens, what little this book does offer is a feast for the eyes. This is not really a comic per se, but an image and text book. This gives each and every page sing with Andree Wallin’s luscious landscape paintings filled with alien warcraft and desolate soldiers fighting the elements. There’s an overwhelming sense of equal parts dread and wonder in these solemn images and the story reflects that isolation in the sampling that I was able to read. OBLIVION won’t be out until next year and I can’t wait to soak up what looks to be an extremely gorgeous experiment in graphic illustration.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Check out his ComicSpace page for his entries in Cream City Comics’ MUSCLES & FIGHTS VOL.3 and MUSCLES & FRIGHTS VOL.1 anthologies. Bug was interviewed here & here (about AICN Comics) and here & here (on his VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS: THE TINGLER comics). Bug’s latest comic is VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS #21: WITCHFINDER GENERAL (available in May’s Previews Order # MAY100828) on sale in July. Fanboy Radio recently interviewed Bug about it here. Bug was also interviewed here & here about his upcoming original vampire miniseries NANNY & HANK (available in June's Previews Order #JUN100824) due out in August.