BATMAN: ODYSSEY #2
Writer: Neal Adams Art: Neal Adams Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Professor Challenger
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The ‘Holes Double Team THE BOYS #45
Writer: Garth Ennis Art: Russ Braun Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Reviewer: Optimous Douche (OD) & Henry Higgins is My Homeboy (HHH)HHH: Can we see Ennis' version of “Up” now? Please? With THE BOYS, Garth Ennis has created one of the most horrifying, crazed, perverted takes on super heroes ever dreamt up, and for that he has my eternal thanks. THE BOYS' entire run has been a demented hell ride, and it's just now hitting its stride by following up on some lingering plot threads and irrevocably changing up the status quo with this issue.
OD: Quite honestly, after reading this issue, I want to see Ennis on SUPERMAN. I know this series started as an indictment of superheroes, but what it has become is the modern day definition of heroes; people who are fighting for humanity, but like humanity are tragically flawed. I selected Wee Hughie as my Character Of The Year in 2009 for a reason, although it took this issue to truly cement what I was trying to articulate last year. Wee Hughie is the modern day Everyman, and this issue drove that point home for me like a nail gun through my temple. Clark Kent with all of his virtues and aww shuckedness can no longer serve Superman as his conduit to humanity. Clark Kent by his very nature sets him apart from 80% of the people out there. I’ve been to the Midwest; they sell anti-depressants there. Now Wee Hughie, however, is a wee ball of angst and this issue where his long-time gal pal finally fesses up to being part of the Douchetastic Seven brought all of Hughie’s humanity gushing forth.
HHH: I think there's an issue of HITMAN where Ennis actually tried Superman. I hate Superman, and even I liked it. Which is what tends to set Hugie above the other characters here. I don't know if I would go as far as "Best character", but he's certainly up there. That's he's seen all this death and pain and suffering, not just in the world but taken a fair share himself, and yet he can still have a laugh with his girlfriend or defend some thick want to be heroes, that's a fantastic character. The "Everyman" trope, showing the amount of good a person can have in them. Same reason I've liked Starlight's arc as well. This innocent girl next door is taking a lot of hits to her armor, but she still may be the best person out of the lot. Not saying much, no, but still quite impressive. Which leaves us with the other big point of this issue: Homelander.
OD: I never trust anyone that comes across as too good; everyone, and I mean everyone, has some little deviance welling beneath the surface. Learn from Jim Baker and the Catholic Church. The pimple that is Homelander has been swelling with evil on the back of this book since page one, and this issue drew the final line in the sand for Butcher to pop the fucker. The device of the Christian carnival was tops for Homelander's reveal, non?
HHH: That was fantastic. Having the basic cliche church gathering as the background to the Homelander's plan, and the simple fact he's so...fine with it. Not excited, not devious, almost bored. He knows what's going on, he knows he can win, he just wants to make sure he's not the only person still standing afterwards. It seems like Oh Father may be one of the big guns in this universe, and he's terrified by this, and by Homelander. The series is heading towards a major conflict, and it'll be interesting to see who comes out of it.
OD: I wonder if it can survive or if Ennis wants it to. So many long-strung plots are converging at once could the whole damn thing implode?
HHH: I remember reading somewhere Ennis laid out the series, and at its longest it would only hit seventy. We're getting dangerously close to the fifty line. I'm thinking this arc will set up the big conflict, and we've got a super civil war, a proper one. No holding back because of friends, both sides aiming to kill. Homelander's forces siding with Vought, while the other goes against him(probably led by the Sevens's Wonder Woman expy), and The Boys in the middle taking out whoever they can get their hands on. It shouldn't be a surprise if the series ends with no one left. I'm just hoping Butcher and Homelander get a brawl, even if the conclusion is obvious(safe money says that Butcher isn't walking out of this series, which will be a shame. Too many series try to do the anti hero, the black trenchcoat with a heart of gold. Almost universally, they end up "redeemed" or just weren't that dark to begin with. Butcher, you hate for what he's put Hughie into but love for his defense of Momma's Milk). I think Ennis has a plan for the series, and we're starting to head to the end game.
OD: Sad, because this one could have legs. The world is just as real as the characters we’ve been following. And finally the characters are people I’m truly starting to care about – even beyond Hughie. Oh, well…the end isn’t here yet. Great issue, great story and a damn far cry from the arc in Russia that almost made me drop this series. If you were like me, but actually pulled the trigger – come back, this book has matured into one of the most compelling serials going. And don’t worry, for every wee speck o’ heart there are heaping doses of cunt and cock right behind.
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.
MARVEL UNIVERSE VS THE PUNISHER #1
Writer: Harvey Klinger, Inc. Art: Goran Parlov Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: KletusCasadyI will pretty much give anything a chance that involves the Punisher, but I couldn’t help thinking to myself; “Didn’t this happen before?” After reading it I see that there’s a different approach but still very similar. Also didn’t Punisher already fight hordes of Zombie superheroes in the first MARVEL ZOMBIES? I’m not outright saying this book is a rip off of those series but you can kind of tell Mayberry had to dance around many of the obvious similarities to those earlier series, not that that is necessarily a bad thing but I can see a reader avoiding it and saving their $3.99 for something that is newer, seems less like something that already happened or anything written by Bendis (I kid…I kid). I liked this issue but I’m not sure what the point is when there were two previous series that seemed to be combined to make this series (got all that…good…lets continue) but I love Goran Parlov’s PUNISHER so I’ll be buying this entire series.
If any one was wondering, “what’s the deal with the CROSSED--why do they do foul things and beat people to death with animal naughty bits!?!?” well this comic pretty much explains what the crossed are and how they differ from zombies. Allow me to quote Dick Fantastic: “…He can think but his Higher reasoning functions have been disabled. He’s been reduced to a more primitive state. A kind of Cannibalistic predator...” See, not a zombie, a cannibalistic predator…I guess the difference is zombies aren’t predators they’re just…there.
See? All cleared up.
I think anyone with half a brain can figure out the premise of this story: The Punisher vs. cannibalistic predator Marvel heroes. It’s pretty basic but that’s the appeal of Punisher stories: no time travel, no cosmic cubes, no space travel, no Punisher being turned into Frankenstein’s monster…well…scratch that last one, but this is why we read Punisher: to watch him exact brutal vigilante justice with little to no questions asked and this time to see him kill all the heroes you hate. This comic delivers in that area but much like PUNISHER KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE, you begin to ask yourself, “is this possible?” What I mean by that is could Frank Castle actually survive a battle with an uninhibited Thing? I mean didn’t Dake…yeah I won’t bring it up.
Some of the fights hinted at in this issue seem like they’d be the fight of Punisher’s life and we don’t really get to see those battles. Punisher v Thing is a hell of a battle and we don’t get to see any of that. The artwork is awesome as usual and Parlov is one of my favorite Punisher artists. There are others who handle the gory stuff better (Leandro Fernandez) but something about Parlov’s artwork just really resonates with me and I can’t put my finger on it. I wish they would do a PUNISHER MAX cartoon and get him to do the art because I could see his style translated to a cartoon very easily not to mention it would look great without taking the grittiness out of the Punisher. I guess that’s what I like about him: his artwork is very cartoonish with the exaggerated faces and vibrant colors but it also can deliver the grittiness by way of heavy shadowing and lots of blood.
I always end my review and say “if you’re into ‘character x’ then you’ll like this book,” but I really think that’s the first criteria for most readers to even pick up a comic and consider buying it. This is a fun comic and even someone with a minimal interest in the Punisher should find this fun. I think people will be split with the artwork because its really different than the other Punisher artwork which is mostly dark colors with a more realistic feel to them where as this artwork looks more cartoony and exaggerated. It’s like the difference between Ed McGuinness and Mike Deodato with Pavlov being on the McGuinness side of things. Parlov actually puts a couple cool things in the background of a lot of the panels in this issue like a certain four woman morning TV show going CROSSED on the audience and it’s little things like this that add to my like for him as an artist.
This comic is a little talky at points but there’s a lot going on so it makes sense in a first issue to have to get all the ‘splaining out of the way to make room for more killing in later installments. This is a pretty good issue…and YOU, yes you, should check it out. Does anyone else want to see a PUNISHER VS CROSSED comic? Both of these stories kind of take place in same sort of world, both have Ennis somewhat attached to them, both are gory as hell…think about it, all the people that hate CROSSED would get to see the Punisher brutally exterminate the those twisted a-holes…I’m just saying it’d be cool…
GREEN HORNET: PARALLEL LIVES #2
Writer: Jai Nitz Art: Nigel Raynor Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Reviewer: Ambush BugAll I know of GREEN HORNET is from his crossover with Adam West’s BATMAN series I saw in reruns. I know Bruce Lee played Kato in that and a series that followed that appearance. I know Seth Rogan is playing GREEN HORNET in an upcoming movie. I also have a notion that the hero of GREEN HORNET was always Kato, tackling the tough work while the Green Hornet himself stood around and counted his money and looked cool, but I’m not sure. But that’s about it. The thing is, this miniseries by writer Jai (EL DIABLO) Nitz does a good job of clueing me in to what this Green Hornet guy is all about.
Issue two focuses mainly on Kato, with the diminutive fighter taking on four toughs while Green Hornet sits back and eats some popcorn. This dynamic between the two is played somewhat for comedic effect here, but Green Hornet is given enough to do here to not make the guy look like an @$$ by having him take out the big bad with his gas gun. The interaction between the two is fun and full of potential with Kato playing the unsung hero and Green Hornet getting all of the good press.
The bulk of this issue focuses on Kato’s origin. Nitz has reimagined Kato for the modern age, which may irk some die hard fans, but for this new reader, the decision to make Kato more like a grown up Data from THE GOONIES was both an inventive and entertaining one. Nitz justifies Kato’s innate skill at fighting not through kung fu training, but by having Kato studying everything from kung fu movies to video games. I especially liked the way Kato’s mentor instructs his young pupil by learning the lessons from the foes Segal, Chan, Van Damme, and other action heroes face in movies rather than from the heroes themselves. It makes it more interesting that Kato learned from the folks who are willing to cheat to survive. In the end, Kato’s fighting style is presented in a logical manner given the invention-oriented aspect of the character.
The art by Nigel Raynor is also quite good. Raynor has a fluid style that makes the fight scenes seem vibrant and not posed and stiff. His faces are somewhat cartoonish, but not so much that it becomes a distraction. Raynor’s panels are reminiscent of Joe Madura or Todd Nauck, two very fine artists to be compared to.
GREEN HORNET: PARALLEL LIVES is a fun comic. Nitz gives this book a light tone that achieves that balance between being entertaining enough for adults, but without being overly violent or crude, so kids could enjoy it as well. Reading this book makes me want to check out more GREEN HORNET books and maybe even search out the old TV series. It’s a smart and creative modernization of a property full of potential.
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 the MUSCLES & FIGHTS VOL.3 & MUSCLES & FRIGHTS VOL.1 anthologies. Bug was interviewed here & here (about AICN Comics) & here & here (on VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS: THE TINGLER #1-2). Bug’s latest comic is VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS #21: WITCHFINDER GENERAL (available in June’s Previews Order # JUN10 0825) on sale in late August. Bug was also interviewed here & here about his upcoming original vampire miniseries NANNY & HANK (available in June's Previews Order #JUN10 0824) due out in late August. Bug also has a 10 pg story in Zenescope’s upcoming WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 (in July Previews Order # JUL10 1200). Support a Bug by checking out his comics!
FLUORESCENT BLACK Vol.1
Written by: M.F. Wilson Ilulstrated by: Nathan Fox Colored by: Jeromy Cox Published by: Heavy Metal Reviewed by: superheroThe first thing I have to say about FLUORESCENT BLACK is that it is possibly the most beautifully produced graphic novel so far this year. The book itself is absolutely gorgeous. It’s an oversized, slickly produced volume whose beautiful cover is only outmatched by the fantastic coloring and illustration of its interiors. The edition that I purchased was apparently a limited edition only available at this year’s San Diego and New York Comic-Cons so I can’t speak to what will be available for the mass populace but if you can get your hands on one of the limited editions of this book I would say do so because you’re not going to find a better looking book than this anytime soon.
From what I understand FLUORESCENT BLACK is a story that’s been running through HEAVY METAL magazine in segments for the past several years. If so, then this story alone could give me a solid reason to subscribe to HEAVY METAL. If this is the quality of art and story that the producers of HM are putting out then they could possibly be publishing some of the best comic stuff I’ve seen in years.
FLUORESCENT BLACK tells the story of Singapore in the future. It’s a world that has been segregated into both the genetically pure and unpure and a world where corporate interests judge who will be spliced into what segment of society. It’s a future that I’d just as soon not see occur but one that seems not so far-fetched in our current economic climate. It’s a hard place to live for some and a heaven on earth for others.
Writer M.F. Fox and illustrator Nathan Fox create a world that pays homage to great sci-fi like “Gattaca” and “Blade Runner” but is horrifyingly and frighteningly its own distinct place. It’s a believable landscape of genetic refugees and the powerful elite who make their lives hell and the awful world they both have to share and fight to exist in. FLUORESCENT BLACK stands along with much of the best of what science fiction has to offer in that its world and all the people that exist in it are realistic and extremely bizarre alterations of our present. At the same time it speaks to a future that seems almost ready to engulf us at any minute and yet remains, so far, just a terrifying nightmare away.
While the story and settings themselves are impressive, what really makes FB work, what makes it stand out among the other graphic novels out there, is the stunning combination of Nathan Fox’s art and Jeromy Cox’s colors. Can I just say, “Holeee s#!t???” When I opened this book at Comic Con this year I instantly knew I had to have it. Not only that but I came back a day later and bought one for a friend. Seriously, this book is a visual masterpiece. Every page is just brimming with energy and color. Every panel is a unique and utterly fantastic experience. Every page of this book should be framed and put up in a museum. The art is that good. I do have to admit, though, that when I first saw the book I thought it was Paul Pope who had illustrated it. Fox’s style seems to be a direct descendant of Pope’s but it’s not so similar that you can’t notice a difference between the two upon closer examination. As a matter of fact, I found the art in FLUORESCENT BLACK to be superior to some of Pope’s work in that it’s in full color. In other ways it lacks the clarity of storytelling that Pope is able to manage. But I’m getting too wrapped up in this comparison here…what I mean to say is that if you are a fan of Paul Pope you will most assuredly be a fan of Nathan Fox’s art. Fox’s art is like a neutron bomb of unbridled brushwork and it will make your eyes explode with joy.
Honestly, anything that I say in this review will not do this book justice. It’s comic art and storytelling at its finest and I implore you to find any way you can to get your hands on this book. Beg, borrow, kill, or steal to find this thing. It’s worth the mayhem you’ll cause to get your hands on it because what’s waiting inside is beyond any kind of crazy you’ll be able to think up yourself.
Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. He's been an @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at www.kristianhorn.com and check out his blog at www.parttimefanboy.com.
Writer: Andy Diggle Art: Billy Tan (pencils), Victor Olazaba (inks) Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Humphrey LeeAnother year, another Sad Panda impersonation by the protector of Hell’s Kitchen, Daredevil, only this time complete with his Emo Jammies on. It’s not that I’m not enjoying this mini-event on the overall – any time the “street beat” players of the Marvel Universe get a time to shine I’m a happy camper – but it’s fabricated on the same old plot threads that cycle through every run of Daredevil’s own book. Daredevil is overwhelmed and brooding while his friends plead with him to come back to the light; all the while the Kingpin is scheming, and things are looking to get worse before they get better. Stop me if any of that sounds familiar…
But, thing is, there does seem to be at least some stakes being played for here. In the end I’m positive the status quo will prevail; that’s just how these things work. For now though, Bullseye is reported dead – a major event in its own right – and Daredevil is making a play that affects the biggest playground for the capes and tights crowd in the Marvel U, good old NYC. As I said before, the “Street Level” fanboy in me – the guy who gladly hunted down and paid $300 plus for the Claremont/Byrne IRON FIST run a couple years back – is glad to see some mojo working for all of these characters in their natural element, not shuffled into the background of a team book (with Cage’s new leading man role being an exception) and spouting yiddisms.
I guess I’m just a little wish-washy on this because, like any event, I’m not sure what here is going to stick and what is actually going to come of this. That and this issue was a bit more water-treading than I’d like to think would come out just 28 days after one of Marvel’s most notorious villains supposedly bites it. But at least with the Marvel Cosmic events I know that if something major happens, like the death of Thanos something like a half decade ago and just now reversed will stick for a while. And because I know those events set the stage for that particular part of the universe for a while and that leave threads to work with and change characters on a base level and so on and so forth. I’m not sure what ripples an event like this in this part of the Marvel Universe will put forth, if any.
Basically, on one hand, I fully expect Bullseye to be back and everything to be “normal” by the end of this as the “Matt Murdock as Hand leader” angle gets swept under the rug and this to have been a way to finagle $20 out of those who may care. On the other, I really hope the exact opposite happens. But that’s the breaks when you take a chance on these events. Maybe this will be the ANNIHILATION this section of the universe needs to become more relevant, or maybe this will be like, well, what 95% of all events turn out to be. If the next three issues of SHADOWLAND are more like issue one than issue number two here, then we will have ourselves a “winner” though I expect a lot more losing will have to befall these characters to get there.
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.
NANCY IN HELL #1 (of 4)
Writer: El Torres Art: Juan Jose Ryp & Fran Gamboa Publisher: Image Comics Reviewer: LyzardDante ain’t got nothing on El Torres and Juan Jose Ryp’s hell. After reading this comic, you might straighten up your ways, lest you land in the fiery pit full of demons, braindeads, and hellhounds. There are torture implements straight out of a HELLRAISER movie and no hope of getting out…or is there?
NANCY IN HELL follows Nancy Simmons, who (supposedly) unjustly lands in hell. I say supposedly because according to her she is the “big boobs girl” that survives the 80s horror movie. Problem is I felt that she was drawn and acted like the slut that dies early on in those films, so from the very beginning I’m asking why is Nancy in Hell. In the first page she says that the “bad guy got me instead,” but that does not really answer my question. I’m hoping El Torres will surprises us in the fourth and final issue with the truth of her demise and why she landed in hell and not heaven. Why, you may ask, do I care about Nancy’s life on Earth? Well, it’s hard for me to care about her plight when I think she deserves to be there. That was one of my problems with the comic; characters die without you caring about them. It’s something commonly seen in Hollywood films, where henchman and goons die needlessly, but what Torres does better than Hollywood is have Nancy mourn their deaths or at least notice them.
The first issue sets up the world quite well. A character, named the Philosopher, explains how hell works based on memories, which makes it logical and convenient for, say, a chainsaw to appear when needed. Numerous obstacles are introduced, from the demonic inhabitants of hell to Nancy’s questioning faith.
The writing is full of generic references to 80s horror films and heavy metal videos, bland enough that readers don’t need to know the subject well, but not detailed enough for those that do know the genres to enjoy the shout out. As a horror fan I like all of the scream queen clichés, but feel that they come in and out randomly. As mentioned earlier, our character of Nancy does not seem like the innocent, virginal heroine of an 80s slasher flick, so to have her following these rules seems a bit out of character.
As for Ryp’s artwork, you can get an idea of it from its wrap around cover. For me, it’s over drawn. I can handle the gruesomeness, but there just seems to be too much going on making it hard to know what to concentrate on. Even the cover is so active that the Image logo is hidden. Sure, it’s also misogynistic with plenty of female crotch shots, but this is Hell after all so I can let it go.
Issue One ends with a cliffhanger, of course, along with a break in the 4th wall, something I’d expect from a film not a comic book. Overall, I’m interested to see how, or if, Nancy does escape from hell, along with whether or not she deserves to be there.
Oh, and I have to point it out, because I am an English minor: don’t know if I should blame the letterer or editor, but misspelling stupid makes you, well, stupid.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #639
Writer: Stan Lee & Joe Quesada Art: Joe Quesada & Paolo Manuel Rivera, Marcos Martin, Danny Miki Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My HomeboyGOD FUCKING DAMNIT!
See the first sentence. That essentially sums up this issue. Three words, that's all I need to explain this issue. God fucking damnit. That's it. It's that bad. Oh, you want more? Fine. Just a heads up, I'm doing this one like I did last one, more summary then review. Sorry, but I need to vent.
Picking up where last issue left off, Peter continues telling the story of how he and MJ didn't marry. The art here isn't good, but it's better then some pages from last week. Peter resumes the story, with Spider-Man arriving too late to the wedding. Well, it can't have the demonic satan pigeon in it, so it won't be as bad as last week. Peter listens in on everyone compiling about him outside the church.
"Y'now what? I take it back. He's NOT a loser, He's a BLOW HOLE!"
Sorry, spoke too soon. It can be as bad as last week.
Peter tries calling MJ, and when she doesn't pick up, he speeds off to her flat. She has since moved everything to Peter's place. So, he thinks logically, figures she might have gone to their home, and speeds off to meet he-no, wait, sorry again. My apologies. See, that's what an intelligent person would have done. No, Peter spends the entire day swinging around New York, yelling her name. Because he's thick. I feel like opening up MARVEL ADVENTURES SPIDER-MAN.
"Why does everyone keep forgetting that I'm really smart?"
Spidey, exhausted, finally heads home and sees MJ waiting for him in her dress. Which she's obviously been doing all day. She thinks he bailed on her, but when he takes off his mask, she realizes he was hurt doing his usual Spider-Man duties. MJ asks him to give up being Spider-Man so they can be together, but he sadly refuses. She of course understands his pain, his responsibility, has defended his need to be Spidey in the past and...no, wait, sorry again. She calls him a bastard, tells him to never touch her again, and slams the door on him. I've been drinking a lot more then usual, and it's giving me these delusions of a not shit comic. Another present day moment, where the best art from this part of the story appears, in the form of three panels of the same position.
Cut back to the past, where MJ is being convinced to give Peter another chance by Aunt Anna.
I'll go ahead and repeat that. The woman who in the past has angrily ripped Peter to shreds for possibly cheating on MJ, is now saying "we all make mistakes" and "how special he is". Fuck you comic, fuck you so much. Credit has to be given to this page though for the art, again producing a MJ facial reaction that sums up my feelings on the comic. So, MJ goes to talk to Peter who, being Peter Parker, is a complete wreck. MJ explains what she's always wanted with Peter, a child. Which doesn't work with the history or motivation of MJ even before the marriage, but you know what? I'll let it pass. We see her dream child, who is an unholy abomination. I mean, I've heard of a fourhead and a fivehead, yeah. This child is a fourteenandahalfhead. The two agree to stay together, but not marry. It's the only way this'll work. Fine. It's annoying, but I'll deal.
Back to the present, where Peter and MJ agree it all went wrong when Peter unmasked during CIVIL WAR. And Aunt May got shot. And he punched Iron Man out, because even though the man built a small magnetized reactor in a cave, he can't stop a bullet wound. And Doctor Strange, master of the mystic arts and guardian of the entire universe, can't heal a small bullet wound. I refer you to my first sentence again, repeated a few hundred times.
Here's the point where Mephisto shows up, but in this timeline, he doesn't. Peter accepts it's time for Aunt May to go. She's lived a good life, and there's nothing he can do. Aunt May begins to flatline, and Peter and MJ rush to her bedside, but it's too late. Nothing. Peter reacts in grief, and starts giving Aunt May CPR. But nothing seems to--
"Oh my god Peter...you did it."
NO! NO NO NO NO NO! BAD COMIC! BAD! YOU TAKE A TIME OUT AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU JUST DID!
If Peter and MJ remember him unmasking, does everyone else? No one else remembers this, because of Mephisto, right? Then why did she get shot? She got shot because Peter was targeted. But if no one knows Peter is Spider-Man, he wouldn't be targeted. IT DOESN'T ADD UP. The Timey Wimey ball doesn't work that way, damnit.
And we needed a reminder of one of the stupidest moments in recent comic history. "Why Peter, I've managed in the past to heal a broken bone with gel, build a small reactor out of useless parts, constructed a suit of armor that defies the laws of physics, imprinted my friend’s mind and very soul into a robotic body, and saved countless lives with my scientific endeavors." "Fantastic to hear, Tony. Now see, my aunt has a gun shot wound to the stomach-" "Oh, wow. Ah. See, yeah, I can't do anything about that." "Maybe freeze her in time? Or that robotic body thing you mentioned? Or how about we go get that X-Men kid, the one who heals any wound?" "I'm sorry Peter, there's nothing we can do." "How about, when she flatlines, I give some quick compressions?" "That might just be crazy enough to work!"
Best Moment - MJ summing up my emotions with one panel.
Worst moment - The rest.
Writing 1/5 - I was sorely tempted to give it a 0. Terrible characterization, stupid heroes, off kilter decisions by characters, extra holes in continuity, just, just wrong. On a lot of levels here.
Art 2/5 - The past story has serviceable art, and the Quesada pencils apart from the HILLS HAVE EYES child are better then last weeks. But nothing magnificent, and nothing nearly good enough to make up for the writing.
Overall 1/5 - I'll say it again. God fucking damnit.
KILL SHAKESPEARE #4: SO WISE SO YOUNG NEVER DO LIVE LONG
Writer: Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col Art: Andy Belanger Publisher: IDW Publishing Reviewer: Mr. PastyWhen I tell people I’ve never read anything from William Shakespeare (in its entirety) they either think I’m full of shit or that I didn’t graduate high school. Well, I almost didn’t graduate high school, but that had nothing to do with the Bard. So imagine my trepidation when a copy of KILL SHAKESPEARE # 4 was delivered to the Pasty inbox with one of those smiley faces that is editor speak for “Review this or find another nipple to suck on.”
A quick Google search assured me that even a rudimentary knowledge of Shakespeare is enough to enjoy this latest offering from IDW. Out of respect for the material (and the review) I went back and started from issue numero uno since it’s a relatively new property. I can pick up a Hulk book no matter what timeline they’re in and hit the ground running but not only am I new to Shakespeare, I’m new to the movement to kill him as well. I’m not quite sure how theses Googlites define “rudimentary,” but I went from witty reviewer to Opie from the Pawtucket Brewery in just three pages. Yes, KILL SHAKESPEARE made me feel dumb(er).
My biggest fear in committing to this series was that I would be wading through shallow panels filled with murky Shakespeak about this family screwing around with that family and oh yonder this and pig latin that, etc. Fortunately writers Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col aren’t trying to prove how adept they are at aping the legendary playwright. Instead, they capture the tone of his work and taxidermy his themes around the mold of a fairly entertaining story. SO WISE SO YOUNG DO LIVE LONG is without a doubt the best issue to date and having started from the beginning and powered through all four issues at once I can see the creative team really begin to settle down, especially Andy Belanger. Aside from a more cohesive feel to the layouts, I think he’s starting to enjoy himself because there’s a bit of flair evident here and it elevates the finished product in issue #4, due largely in part to the heavy amount of action featured here.
McCreery and Del Col continue to walk the dialogue tightrope and not only have they kept their balance, they’ve busted out the unicycle. Dialect is faithful to the source material but trimmed down enough so that it compliments the dialogue when it could have very easily become a distraction to it. The bottom line is that KILL SHAKESPEARE finds its mark not because it succeeds on so many creative levels (it does), but because it understands that first and foremost it is a comic book, and comic books don’t work if they can’t stay true to themselves. I don’t want to have to hit the dictionary every two panels and I sure as heck don’t care about fourteen pages of gaudy pin-ups. What I do want is writers who know how to dream and artists who brush with their souls. To that end, KILL SHAKESPEARE is a smashing success.
By my own admission, I probably could have enjoyed this book more if I understood some of the history of the characters, who do that LAST ACTION HERO thing and pop up as the writers see fit, but KILL SHAKESPEARE did something that no English teacher ever could: It made me want to read the works of William Shakespeare.
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.
AVENGERS PRIME #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Alan Davis & Mark Farmer Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: JNCNDAC in the guise of Vague Man & channeling The QuibblerAVENGERS PRIME, where do I begin? Ok, let’s start with this: my lovely wife, who I have conveniently converted to comics, told me that if we were superheroes I would be Vague Man & she would be The Quibbler. I think those obvious alter egos speak for themselves, so I think I need to evoke our alter egos and review said title from two points of view, thus I give you AVENGERS PRIME, via the Quibbler & Vague Man. First up The Quibbler.
Y'know My husband is comic book crazy for the triune of triumph, the trinity of tragedy, the big boys of brouhaha, yes I am speaking of the BIG THREE: Captain America, Iron Man & Thor. He is so gaga for those Avengers that all I have heard the last few months is: Tomorrow is just the yesterday of two days from now, but now is all about what you’re doing tonight. Do you know what that means? I sure don't, but all he has been talking about since that Siege thingy is, ooooo the big three are gonna be in a mini! I can’t wait. Well keep waiting! The first issue was promising but after a great exchange between Steve & Tony, the three big boys get sucked thru some rift in space & end up on, what I assume is a different place(s?) on the nine worlds and this issue, which I know he is sooooo hot for is NOT about the Big Three ironing out their issues but about the three in 3 different places getting back to one another. AND don't even get me started with the continuity thing! The big splash page, nay I say, the main thrust of the next issue, revolves around Thor & an antagonist who is in a completely different role in an adventure that takes place, I assume, immediately after this one! Now I don't want to be a Debbie Downer but for the love of Stan, when do we get to the good stuff? When do Thor & Cap beat the crap out of Tony? Or at least rediscover what they like about Tony or I know at least be in the same stinking panel together for more than 2 pages, because it is y’know a comic about the three of them! The only thing that has merit is the Steve Roger section; we get some insight into how he feels about the whole Wanda thing, & his exchanges with the empathy are enjoyable BUT they last all of 2 pages and just when it gets good we cut back & forth & back & forth between the predicaments of Goldilocks & Shellhead. Thor’s section is somewhat tired; Enchantress, yes she hates Thor! Wow what a reveal! (That’s sarcasm kids) Granted there’s a little bit of exposition we do get regarding the big picture ramifications of what Thor’s putting Asgard on earth mean, but again just when it gets good we cut away again and don’t even get me started on Tony being knocked cold by Trolls or whatever they are! Give me a break, like he is going to be sitting around with his helmet off! Needless to say I was unequivocally underwhelmed!
And now a word from Vague Man…
I just love me some old school AVENGERS. I am talking The Big Three: Iron Man, Captain America & Thor. One of my most treasured comics is AVENGERS #93, “This Beachhead Earth”. Just looking at that firstst page; THAT, my friends, is Earth’s Mightiest of the Mighty. I scored this book at a discount store in Kingston NY on a hot summer day about 6 months after it came out, circa 1972. It had its cover cut off & was in the discount bin. I can almost smell the news print & ink & hear that huge ceiling fan whirring above my head. So when I heard about AVENGERS PRIME, the big three being back together since 2007. And in that issue they were still the 3 Amigos. 5 years later, Tony cloned Thor, ugh!, and was primarily responsible for Captain America’s death. Double Ugh! That is a far cry from the 3 mightiest of the mighty. So my hopes were high that this series would bring the boys back to that bygone era in some adventurous way! Aside from a few moments in issue 1, I am still waiting. What makes it even worse is Alan Davis! His art work is fantastic; if he ain’t channeling Neil Adams I don’t know who is. Knowing he was penciling this tome raised my expectations even higher! And you know what they say: Tomorrow is just the yesterday of two days from now, but now is all about what you’re doing tonight. And all I’m doing is wondering when is something cool gonna happen, I don’t know, maybe tomorrow?
TOY STORY #5
Writer: Jesse Blaze Snyder Art: Tanya Roberts Publisher: BOOM! Studios Reviewer: Ambush BugI know a lot of folks will pooh pooh this book because it is geared toward kids, but if you do you’re missing out. Just as the TOY STORY movies are so much more than just kiddie flicks, so is this comic. So before you scroll past, think about how you felt about seeing TOY STORY 1 -3 in the theaters and apply those same warm thoughts towards this comic because this book really does compliment the movie series superbly.
Writer Jesse Blaze Snyder does a fantastic job of “getting” each of the characters in the TOY STORY universe. One can almost hear the voices of the stars who portrayed them in the film as one’s eyes flit past the panels of this issue. Not only does Snyder fully represent these characters, he adds in a whole lot of funny to boot. There are genuinely funny moments that would be real guffaw-inducers in the theater if acted out. There’s an especially funny sequence as each of the toys take part in a Flying: Falling with Style competition where each toy in full character does the exact same thing. The variation of voice and the quality of humor truly impressed me in this sequence. Snyder really flexes his writing muscles here as each character comes alive with perfect representation and hilarity.
I don’t know if the artist on this book is the actual Tanya Roberts or someone who is lucky enough to have the 80’s B-movie beauty’s name, but whoever she is, she is very capable with the pen. Her drawings of the cast of TOY STORY are spot on. She even embellishes a bit to add a bit more emotion to these characters, something that should be a no no, but drawn by Roberts, it’s fine with me.
C’mon, you know you have a soft spot for the films. It’s ok to admit it here. We’re all friends here on AICN. If you liked the movies, you’ll love this comic. It’s the perfect compliment to the films and takes the expansive TOY STORY universe in creative and fun directions. Sure it may be kid oriented, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Give this book a look through in the story. I’m sure it’ll incite those same feelings the films did.
CROSSED: FAMILY VALUES #3
Writer: David Lapham Art: Javier Barreno Publisher: Avatar Press Reviewer: KletusCasadyWell…shit…I…uh…I can’t recommend this book.
The reason I can’t recommend this book has nothing to do with the writing or the art because both of those aren’t bad. I feel like if I recommend this book, particularly having just read the contents of this issue, I would soon be getting my Maniac Certification Card in the mail complete with 20 or so mini Ziploc bags to collect severed toes, a reservation to the nearest hospital for the criminally insane and I’d also get my registration form for Maniac of the Year not to mention Mama Kletus would disown me and burn my eyes with scalding Holy Water to cleanse the evil from my aura.
Recommending this book is like recommending CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST or I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE but worse. I do actually have at least two maniac friends that I could show this to and they’d be in to it (Dr. Karate Chop & J-Bizness I’m lookin’ at ya’ll). I know I praised the first CROSSED series by Ennis & Burrows but that is like Disneyland compared to the shit that happens in this issue. I wonder if Lapham and Ennis are having some sort of fucked up gross out contest because if so, Lapham has pushed the line so far with this one that Ennis will need a taxi made out of body parts with a trunk full of horse cocks to catch up to him.
Seriously though…look at the cover. If that image is not something that intrigues or entices you (don’t worry it’s not a bad thing) DO NOT even casually flip through this issue. And man do I feel bad for any comic shop owner that gets one of you whistle blower types who picks this issue up off the shelf and flips out at the content. That shop owner will have one a hell of a time defending their reasons for having this comic accessible to the general public.
All that said, I will continue reading this because Ol’ Kletus is far past saving at this point and you will be to if you read this. BEWARE!
Writer: Jonathan Maberry Art: Scott Eaton, Robert Canpanella, & Andy Lanning Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My HomeboyNot with a bang, but with an embarrassed yelp.
I don't understand why this miniseries didn't get nearly as much attention as it should have. And that applies to myself as well; I just sort of stopped caring. And looking back, I shouldn't have. DOOMWAR was well written, had good art, an always fun premise (Dr. Doom does what he does every night, try to take over the world). Why did it not send ripples down the spine of fans everywhere? Maybe it was the fact that while other events were changing the status quo, this one didn't seem to effect anyone. Maybe people reacted badly to Deadpool sort of just showing up in the previews, and as much as I love the character he is really getting overplayed. I don't know. I don't know. What I do know is this issue, while mostly an enjoyable event book, isn't fantastic.. It's full of great moments and build up, only for it to sort of...end. Just end. No real resolution, the moment has great speed, then just drops to nothing.
Writing - One of the finest points of this story has been from its writing. Maberry writes the two main players - Black Panther and Doctor Doom - perfectly. Black Panther is a good man and king, pushed to the limits by this conflict. Doom once walked out of hell. I know a lot of people who don't enjoy Doctor Doom, but to me, he's one of the principal villains of the medium. He should not work. He should be an overzealous git in a silly costume. But when the right writer comes along, he suddenly becomes the most intimidating player on the board. This is the right writer. Doom becomes the big bad that Marvel wanted us to think Osborn could be, forcing the heroes down roads they never thought they'd have to go. But where the last five issues he had it down to an art form, here Doom sort of loses his relevance. He goes from the calculating bastard to your standard villain, fighting Black Panther one on one. Panther has a similar change. Most of the story has shown him steadily accepting a grey morality to win, but halfway through, he becomes a paragon and talks about the power of love. It was an out of place moment; it just rips you out of the scene.
The supporting cast remains as good as ever (with most of the cast at least getting one solid moment), but underused. This was alright back when Panther and Doom were such stunning leads, but now, the lack starts to stand out. Well, apart from Shuri. The new Panther is a likeable hard ass, and how you do the Templar template correctly.
The other big complaint comes from the feeling lingering feeling of deus ex machina. The final fight goes on for a couple of pages before Panther uses his back up plan. This wouldn't be nearly as bad if it had been addressed maybe an issue or two ago, and suddenly, the fight ends. Big speech, roll credits. The ending disappoints, which is too bad. The story deserved more.
Art - As usual, the art remains strong. Eaton has been on a great on this arc, with fantastic shots, designs, everything. Doom comes off as the kind of character who could demolish an entire country. There are a few facial reactions that seem ...odd, to be put simply, but the issue keeps it's smooth fight sequences and moments.
Best Moment - Shuri, to keep the fight from becoming a full out war, uses an ally of Wakanda as a battleground.
Worst Moment - The ending. And the big "friendship" speech. I've heard it too many times before.
Writing 3/5 - All the great little moments in the world can't stop the ending from being shit.
Art 4/5 - The usual great fights and designs, but with a few missteps here and there.
Overall 3/5 - This series deserved better, in both attention and an ending. The finale has its moments, but lacks.
BLACK LAGOON Vols. 8-9
By Rei Hiroe Released by Viz Media Reviewer: Scott GreenI roll my eyes every time I catch someone do a tiresome "this should be an HBO mini-series" geek-out. That out of the way... got to say... the exotic, broadly exciting BLACK LAGOON would make for a great HBO series adaptation. What works especially well in this set of volumes' specific BLACK LAGOON story is not dissimilar to what's working in the latest season of TRUE BLOOD. Set in a distinctive location, it's offering a shark tank full of very attractive, very dangerous people, most of whom don't or shouldn't trust each other. Here, it's a criminal Galapagos on a Thai pirate port. The Triad, lead by a cop turned gangster Chow Yun Fat clone and the Russian Afghan vets/exiles turned organized criminals are in an uneasy détente. The loli-goth with the stitched up throat and a chainsaw, the Taiwanese knife specialist and the two gun wielding Chinese American in the black sleeveless and short shorts are managing to not kill each other and sort of work together. Yet, rarely have these inhabitants of a sun drenched sea side community been more ill at ease. And now, whispers and implied threats are brought into the arsenals of this collection of ichy trigger finger sufferers. They're all a little extra on edge because an American special forces unit and a FARC rebel turned guardian of a South American oligarch's family chose their turf to settle some differences. While these folks are generally quick to settle matters with sudden eruptions of violence, facing the prospects of American agencies leaning on their bloody escapades, there's substantially more tension than usual.
BLACK LAGOON's El Baile de la Muerte story commenced in the latter third of volume 6 and finally wraps up in volume 9. It'll be the basis for the third BLACK LAGOON anime series, and since there's more manga in this story than either of the previous 13 episode TV series, the transition to a direct to video series should be interesting. Sunao Katabuchi's anime adaptations were quicker to take BLACK LAGOON's characters and their violent lives seriously than the original manga. There's little room for doubt that Rei Hiroe cooked up BLACK LAGOON because he's a geek for guns and hard women. It wasn't that he ignored the implications of what he depicted, but he seemed more inclined to let his heroine "Two Gun" Revy charge into action without peering too closely at the psychology. It was the anime that added the line in which safetyman turned expatriate smuggling facilitator Rokuro Okajima aka Rock watched Revy jump on a speeding boat guns blazing and wondered to himself, what was broken in her being to allow her to act that heedlessly violent, what allowed him to appreciate the action, and by implication, what allowed the anime view to thrill at the spectacle. Eventually, Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise, the longest pre-Baile story - concerning a field trip/home coming to the streets of Japan, did take a hard look at the thinking of BLACK LAGOON's principle pair. In the couple years before the upcoming third series was announced, the story seemed like it was going to be the final send-off for BLACK LAGOON's anime adaptation, and it was kissing its characters off with an appropriately dark emotional gut shot. It was the first case in which the anime and manga matched thoughtfulness in their approach to the material. Hiroe took a breath with Greenback Jane, (moved to before Fujiyama in the anime) a frantic run and gun battle royale that was too blitzed to allow for much introspection. Then, he dove in again for more.
El Baile de la Muerte is by far BLACK LAGOON's most ambitious story. It's ambitious in terms of length, but also in plotting... it hosts a lot of factions with cross agendas and priorities; and it’s ambitious with its handling of characters; rather than simply mechanisms for moving and firing guns, their values and morality effect events. And, with the huge accumulation of by now well established warriors, the action itself is ambitious.
Hiroe has put together an array of striking characters. He's configured them all in an intriguingly combustible stack. He has encouraged the reader to do the "yeah, let's you and you start fighting, " imagining what might happen if various combinations of characters threw down. In prior ventures, the fireworks from smaller payloads have been solid in the manga and exceptional in the anime. How can this one be anything other than overwhelmingly spectacular?
Hiroe deserves heaps of credit for what he's created with these characters and what he's set up with the situation. In the scheme of manga, BLACK LAGOON still stands out, but criticism crops up fo in comparison to what it could have been. From that perspective, Hiroe's ambition outstrips his ability.
BLACK LAGOON mixes a stew of action influences. Hollywood, Hong Hong movies, video games, crime stories, horror flicks... it goes on and on. El Baile de la Muerte uses the ingredients of geo-politics and intrigue, but it comes out like heroic bloodshed. There's a lot of standing, exchanges of hard looks, and expressing philosophies. It's a hunt, but there's also a good about of people with dangerous intent looking each other in the eyes.
It's the curse of getting what you wish for... Hiroe delivers on establishing motivations for his characters. It's interesting. It's provocative in that it encourages consideration of the perspectives of these people and curiosity about how they'll react to the onrushing danger. Unfortunately, it's pacing is a problem. The Baile story went on for about three years in the monthly anthology SUNDAY GX, and there were complains that it was tiresome. Reading it in collected form isn't so patience trying. Instead, it appears crowded. There are too many people with too much personality. Even series star Revy is shoved into the wall. There's no elbow room, and time in this densely packed space is spent listing to people expound on those world views. Maybe Hiroe's approach to talky action would play better in another medium. Here, it's leaden. El Baile de la Muerte jostles and shoves and mean mugs rather than dances. Even when there's a change of scenery from Thailand to Vietnam, the story feels stuck.
It does occasionally explode into action, but that highlights another issue. Hiroe creates awesome characters. They have tremendously dangerous auras to them. Because it's not something that lends itself to the medium, there aren't many manga creators able to handle gun play well. Hiroe does explosive panels, marked by dramatic poses and storms of speed lines. It's coherent, you can always tell what happens, but, dropping heavy spectacles, it's the outline and not the full blue print. There isn't considered panel to panel logic. Attention to how the positions and moments really connect isn't there. As such, a sense of choreography suffers. Though still exciting, it makes for a better framework than it does dynamic fight scenes. While anime that adapts this should be vigorously fantastic, this only looks a bit impressive.
BLACK LAGOON still has the muscle and bite to maintain its position as a top dog among action manga. Though not an audience alienating misstep, El Baile de la Muerte didn't play to its author's strength. It deserves credit for its ambition; trying to do more with this considerable cast of characters. Unfortunately, the muscle bound effort is a bit duller than its composition suggests it should be. Rei Hiroe is evidently still building here. Hopefully next time when he gets around to stacking something with the i