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Hey folks, Ambush Bug here. Well, we’re still doing some tweaks to adjust to the new format at AICN, but I didn’t want to hold back the @$$y goodness any longer, so even though we may be lacking some of the old logos, we still have some reviews from your favorite @$$Holes. Things will be back to normal soon, but in the meantime, enjoy the reviews…
(Click title to go directly to the review)
WHAT I DID HC GN
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD HOLIDAY SPECIAL 2010
BLACK HOLE VOL.1
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #39
PLANETARY: LOST WORLDS #1
THE WALKING DEAD #79
WOLVERINE: THE BEST THERE IS #1
SWEET TOOTH #16 & VOLUME 2 TPB
WE WILL BURY YOU TPB
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS #2
Indie Jones presents…
FABLES #100Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Mark Buckingham and more…
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
FABLES 100 is more than a landmark issue for Willingham’s modern take on the Grimm character classics; rather it is a commemorative celebration embodying the same imagination, dedication and surprise that has allowed this series to flourish to the centennial mark. Sandwiched between the hard stocked covers is more than the culmination of the Mister Dark drama that has sent our fabled FABLES into retreat, there is a level of interactivity to this book that brings the fans closer together and will release the inner child in even the most jaded of comic readers. I honestly can’t praise the supplemental material in this book enough; instead of relying on the old standard of pin up galleries and long flowery prose from other comic luminaries, Willingham threw convention to the north wind and allowed surprise to prevail. Buckle up kids, you’re about to enter spoiler country.
You won’t be traversing this territory alone, with the Three Blind Mice acting as the bumbling Greek chorus. Willingham breaks the fourth wall, but far from shatters it. Woody Allen has tried this approach before, but Willingham pulls it off with far more subtlety and dare I say humor. Once inside the main story, the game-changing battle between Frau Totenkinder and Mister Dark plays out exactly as one would expect and at the same time not at all. Willingham deftly manages this battle weighing the fantastic with the necessary counter-balance of rules and structure. Too often magic is used as a crutch or an easy escape route within comics. FABLES 100 always remembers the two mantras that have allowed the series to become one of the best-selling books ever: there is nothing easy about magic and “Happily ever after” is for fairytales not for FABLES. Everyone is a winner and a loser in this story and only time will tell who will ultimately prevail. Buckingham continues to own every single page, making one believe that his creativity is divined from some magical force. And the page margins, oh the glorious page margins, continue to encapsulate the tonality of each page they hold so tightly together. This margin flourish is a surprise in most books, but to continue this motif for 100 issues is a true dedication to the comic craft. Without giving too much away, I will say that the Mundy world is no longer the refuge the FABLES once believed and while a return is inevitable it will not be coming soon. For the uninitiated FABLES 100 is not a jumping on point. If you are so inclined to join the FABLES community, but lack the necessary scratch to buy the trades for the entire series, the recently released WITCHES graphic novel will give you the requisite background to understand the gist of this issue. Make no mistake, though; you will only be sampling a morsel of what has made FABLES such a delicious reading experience.
As I mentioned earlier the supplemental material in this book is spectacular. Instead of pin ups Buckingham works his homage magic by giving you a complete cut-by-numbers puppet theater so you can start producing your own FABLES Theater.
I fell in love with the art of Chrissie Zullo when she was crafting covers for the CINDERELLA miniseries, the whole time wishing I could get more of her dream-inspired dewy penciling. Well when you wish upon a star, even in Jersey, sometimes wishes come true. A cute if not weighty exploration of the tiny thumb people moving to the kingdom of Haven gave me exactly what I was looking for.
Rounding out the supplementals, celebrity questions are answered inside their own self-contained mini stories. The final surprise, though, answered a question that has burned inside my cerebellum since the reveal of The Adversary and the end of the Great War: “how long will FABLES continue?” Not to say I believe everything I read, but since this creative team hasn’t lied to me yet I will take their final congratulatory walk-off as fact over fiction. Allow me to spread the good mojo by joining in your chorus of “Here’s to 100 more issues.”
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.
WHAT I DID HC GNWriter / Artist: Jason
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
I was a huge Jason fan before this year, but after this year’s excellent WEREWOLVES OF MONTPELLIER and now this hardcover collection of the artist’s most early works, he has officially become my favorite creator making comics today. I don’t say so because Jason can draw ultra detailed fight scenes or lifelike photorealism. I admire this artist because his style is completely unique and even in this book, which houses three of Jason’s works from his earliest days as an artist, his work is leaps and bounds better than most artists today. Reading through this collected edition, you can actually see Jason developing his trademark style. His anthromorphic figures wearing apathetic faces are ever present, but as one turns the pages, you see a young artist become an expert storyteller.
The first story, titled HEY, WAIT… is a truly gut-wrenching story about childhood guilt and how it can follow a person long after innocence is lost. This story is the first of Jason’s books ever to be translated into English. It follows two children as they grow close to one another and then slowly, as adolescence grows, apart until a tragic turn of events cuts the relationship short. With his simple images and very little text, Jason tells a complex story of friendship and how events in one’s childhood can haunt a person for the rest of their life. I felt my heart sink as I read this story. Though Jason’s imagery suggests a more jovial story, it never fails to surprise me how he can tell the most emotionally complex tales using these cartoony characters are set pieces. Of the three stories in this collection, HEY, WAIT… is the one that will stick with me the longest.
Story two is titled SSHHHH! and follows another one of Jason’s cartoonish characters from birth to death in a silent tale. This is a surreal journey as a bird-headed man tempts fate, cheats death, and ultimately ends an adventurous life. There’s surreality to this one that at times had me scratching my head, but not for a panel left me uninterested.
The final story in this collection is an adaptation of THE IRON WAGON by early 20th Century Norwegian novelist, Stein Riverton. This murder mystery is a surprising detour from Jason’s typical work, but no less entertaining. There’s an uncharacteristic amount of dialog in this one (maybe making up for the silent SSHHHH! story), as an investigator searches for answers to a recent death in a village. The mystery’s solution may be a bit out of the blue, but it is undeniably Jason, meaning that it is both resonant and kooky at the same time. Jason proves himself an engaging writer in this story and after a while you are so engrossed into the story you forget it stars blank-eyed cat and dog-headed characters.
I know starting off this week’s column with an independent voice such as Jason is not going to gain any fanfare from the mainstream crowd who want to know what Bendis and Johns wrote this week, but I guarantee if you take a chance on Jason’s work, you will never forget it. WHAT I DID is beautifully bound and could be a perfect gift for someone who needs to get in touch with their independent spirit this holiday season. Though I’ll always be a fan of the mainstream, it’s artists like Jason that really get me excited about comics these days.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the titles for purchasing info)!MUSCLES & FIGHTS VOL.3 & MUSCLES & FRIGHTS VOL.1.VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS: THE TINGLER #1 and #2 (interview, interview, preview, & review).VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS #20 WITCHFINDER GENERAL (preview, review).NANNY & HANK miniseries #1, #2, #3, and #4(interview, interview, interview, preview, & review, NANNY & HANK Facebook Page!).Zenescope’s upcoming WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010.THE DEATHSPORT GAMES miniseries #1, #2, #3, and #4 (In stores in November 2010! THE DEATHSPORT GAMES Facebook Page!).
Writer / Artist: Mike Wolfer
Publisher: Avatar Press
I like the idea of these books, mostly because I believe there are lots of stories you can tell from the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD world. I’m pretty damn sure that there are some interesting stories that could be told during the 60’s in general much less during a zombie apocalypse. I’ve enjoyed the other issues of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD that have come out as of late and figured this one would be no different…plus it’s an Avatar book so there’s going to be blood, gore and possibly boobies.
First things first: yes, this book had all those things so all you necrophiliac perverts will enjoy this. The story takes place in a cabin type house in the woods during a bad snow storm (Omen #1). A family has decided to get together at their rich sister’s house (Omen #2) in hopes of enjoying the holidays with their spouses and loved ones (Omen #3) and enjoy a winter filled yuletide jeer complete with dirty family secrets, an underlying hate for other family members…oh yeah, and zombies may or may not show up to open presents a day early. This issue read more like an episode of “Tales from the Crypt” than anything like the previous chapters of these NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD offshoots. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I love that show, but it didn’t have the feel of a random zombie attack--things were just too neatly packaged. I won’t go too deep into it but basically someone stuffed some skeletons in the closet near the Christmas decorations and now those skeletons have made their way out of the closet and are making a play for Santa’s cookies. I like these stories because much like the horror movies I watch, I know what’s going to happen but I like the anticipation of waiting to see how it’s going to happen. In this case when the first couple zombies showed up I was a little disappointed, there could have been a little more suspense built as to what the hell was going on. The zombie just kind of showed up in a way that I’ve seen quite a few times and there wasn’t anything tense about the situation; it was just happening and then they were dead.
Also what the hell is with zombie attacks, that the zombie some how rips off a woman’s shirt exposing her breasts? It just seems silly; I mean yes, if you have a blanket or towel on, chances are any physical confrontation will leave you exposed, but fully suited in winter gear a zombie gets a lucky grab on a woman’s shirt and BAM! the breasts are out and dancing around. Not that I have a problem with breasts, but I’m starting to think these zombies aren’t as brain dead as they would have you think. It’s like that “gay” guy that hangs out with all those hot girls and gets to see them nude…when in reality he’s just a creeper with an agenda and a mini-cam.
The art in this book is alright…but the focus seemed to be more on the gore than on the other parts of the art. It looked alright--sometimes the faces looked a little odd but overall it was pretty, pretty, pretty good. The alternate cover to this book was heartwarming. It was a beautifully drawn Nativity scene…complete with baby Jesus, horse, the Wisemen (and lady?) but there are just a few differences. The Wisemen’s hats are slightly larger than I remember, I don’t remember there being a woman there (I could be wrong) and I think the horse was actually a different breed in the original scene. One other tiny tiny thing that was a little different too…was that the Wisemen…and woman…ARE EATING THE BABY JESUS ALIVE!!!!! Not just eating the baby Jesus but tearing him limb from limb, intestine from intestine much to the horse’s (and baby’s) chagrin. I know this makes me a terrible person but when I saw this cover I laughed my ass off because it was so ridiculous and the horse’s expression just made me laugh more. If you are twisted like Ol’ Kletus you need to find this cover and buy it.
I enjoyed this book in the second stop of my self appointed gore tour and while this one wasn’t as good as the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD issue where the girl was trying to reach her dad at the TV station (I think her dad may have been the guy who did the final broadcast towards the end of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD movie) only to find out the station had been overrun and her dad was…well, I won’t spoil it. I like these comics because why not, there are plenty of stories to be told in the original zombie apocalypse world of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD that could yield some fun comic book reading, so I’m all for it.
This issue had a very TALES FROM THE CRYPT feel to it which added in some ways but took away from this just being part of a larger zombie attack. Avatar comics are pushing the envelope really far with some of the stuff they do but aside from a few breasts, the Nativity cover, and a few gory parts, this book is pretty tame for their company. If you like TALES FROM THE CRYPT this book will be right up your alley and if you also like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, then you’ll probably be in hog heaven, Also if you want a random comic book and wouldn’t mind seeing zombies and/or a breast or two than you will definitely like this book. It’s a fun Christmas themed tale with zombies and boobs…you already know if you want it or not.
BLACK HOLE VOL.1Writer & Artist: Charles Burns
Publisher: Kitchen Sink Press & Pantheon
Reviewer: Molly McIsaac
Awkwardness. Angst. End of the world emotional distress over the tiniest occurrences. Loves so fierce they would fill you up until you could feel it in the tips of your fingers - so desperate and alive. Social interactions with forced-ness so poignant it made one's teeth hurt. Bursts of silliness. Longing for the years prior, when everything was just so much more SIMPLE.
These are the things most of us feel on the cusp of adulthood, in that long limbed, pimple faced stage where we are only just beginning to explore our sense of self, our sexual needs, our futures. We asked ourselves why we existed; we experienced loves intense enough to knock an ox out. We experimented with a million different things - alcohol, drugs, pleasures of the flesh, involvement in pop culture. But as we grow older, we seem to forget how ridiculous we were in our teenage years. We look back upon ourselves as some sort of stranger, merely perplexed as to why we were the way we were. It fades, and we don't think of it that often.
What I am trying to say is that the feeling of being a teenager is extremely difficult to capture. We all know it because we were all there once, but if we were to share it with people who didn't know what it was like it would be a nearly impossible task. But with the comic book BLACK HOLE by Charles Burns, the desperation, triumphs, and downfalls are all splayed across the page with uncanny relatability.
For despite the disturbing story content of BLACK HOLE, the one thing that glares through on every page is that FEELING - that unspeakable teenage stage. And the beauty of this book is that we have all been there, so it makes it all the more beautiful and haunting.
BLACK HOLE is an expansive work that took place over a ten year period, finally resulting in its massive graphic novel. Charles Burns' art style is so precise; the way he draws expressions are chillingly accurate. There is a cardboard sort of stiffness to his art style that completely works for him, with flat shades of black and white that make the entire story that much more chilling.
Set in Seattle in the mid Seventies, it is based around two main characters: an awkward nerdy boy with neuroses about lots of things, and a pretty popular girl who finds herself battling for her sense of self. The central theme of the story is "The Bug", a sexually transmitted disease that causes grotesque mutations of varying degrees to the people who have it. There are miniature mouths growing on people's throats, tails growing from beautiful girl's behinds, and skin splitting open like zippers to be shed in ways akin to reptiles.
This disease is a massive factor in increasing the already fragile teenage well being, causing intense emotions and confusing revelations. Kids who visibly have "The Bug" are ridiculed by their terrified peers. Most of them run away from home and live in a forest outside of the city, amidst disturbing art works of body parts and doll heads that keep appearing on trees.
BLACK HOLE deals with a myriad of emotions and scenarios: first love and intense loss, the things that outcast and abused people are capable of, drug use and the terror of becoming an adult with no idea where to turn. It is completely centralized around young people, with little to no adult involvement in the main storyline. You become so attached to the two main characters that you ache for them and the things they go through; there is a relatability to their heartache and confusion that you just want to reach into the comic and tell them it will all be ok.
This comic is definitely much more than I expected when I picked it up in a comic shop in Paris, France. It kept me entirely riveted through its expansive pages, and the moment I finished I turned it over and began again. It is one of those books with intense meaning, the kind that can stir things within you that have lain dormant for years. It is truly a work of art, a triumph of a career.
Molly McIsaac builds forts out of longboxes and has a pet unicorn. She battles evil Japanese robots who are trying to steal American girls, and updates her twitter in between round kicks to metal heads.
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #39Writer: Joss Whedon
Art: Georges Jeanty
Publisher: Dark HorseReviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
The BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER continuation has been...interesting, to say the least. While some of its concepts have been amazing, others have fallen flat. With the current "season finale" arc, the series (which hasn't been afraid to subvert the ideas of the series and take a hard left turn) heads into a completely new direction.
Writing: (3/5) Whedon does a solid issue here and the problems with it are with the story beats, not the small stuff. There are some very annoying plot points here and there (How does Xander find this place? The Master showing up is just anticlimactic, and the big bad really isn't all that cool), and they do detract from the overall issue. It knocks out some of the excitement that works so well in other places of the issue. Willow's fight with the thing from WATCHMEN is fantastic looking. And credit to Whedon (and I always give Whedon credit), the dialog is still fantastic. Little jokes and little bits remind us that the heroes are still our heroes. The ending, which is a pretty big change for the Buffy-verse, could lead to some interesting directions. I can't remember if there will be a season nine, but if there is, it'll be...different. There are some parts of this change that are fantastic, but others are going to be hard to explain.
Art: (4/5) The art, by Jeanty, is good as always. It can be muddled at times, and difficult to tell what's going on. The fight scene between Buffy and Angel looks amazing, but the Giles (or maybe the General? No clue) is very confusing. But when the art MEANS to be muddled, it's fantastic. Case in point: Faith and a number of Slayers being attacked by the blue bugger. It's not exactly obvious what's happening to them, but it's clearly not exciting. It's creepy, and well done. Which sums up the whole issue’s art, really.
Best Moment: Someone goes down fighting.
Worst Moment: The Master, and everything about him.
WILDSTORM PRESENTS #1: LOST WORLDSWriter: Warren Ellis
Artists: Phil Jimenez, Jerry Ordway & Andy Lanning
Publisher: DC WildStorm
Well damn…I had no idea this had been previously released. Yeah, I know, I could of read the solicits or some shit but I didn’t….so sue me. If you haven’t read PLANETARY, you should…it’s pretty much a love letter to dorks of all kinds. I’m talking about comic book dorks, science dorks, literary dorks, giant monster dorks, etc. Planeteary is basically a secret group that investigates strange happenings throughout the world as well as throughout time…I’m pretty sure they time travel…if not then there’s definitely some jumping around from past to present. The things they investigate are awesome because they examine phenomenon from different realms of entertainment. What I mean by that is in one issue they’re examining Monster Island (yes the Godzilla one, even though it’s not stated explicitly), another issue they’re looking into all those strange radiation-based horror movies of the 50’s such as “Them” (giant ants) or Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman”; they even investigate a ghost cop bent on revenge (which I’m pretty sure it was from a old Japanese movie but I’m not sure) that I didn’t understand but still thought was cool. PLANETARY is good fun, and since it was a slow week I had an extra $8 to throw down, plus two of my favorite artists were on, so I’m game.
First I’d like to say that if you don’t have knowledge of PLANETARY or AUTHORITY, you’re probably going to be lost as hell reading this comic. I had read a good amount of PLANETARY and there were still parts where I was like, “huzzuhwhat?!?” but sometimes that doesn’t bother me in a comic and there was enough action for me to stay entertained. There are actually 2, count ‘em 2, stories in this book, both of which involve PLANETARY interacting with the world of both THE AUTHORITY and the big three of the DC universe. The first story involves some wild biorganic attack (Ellis seems to love these…see ASTONISHING X-MEN) and THE AUTHORITY & PLANETARY are trying to deal with it, except PLANETARY has bigger plans. This story was the more confusing one for me but the action was pretty great so I have no real complaints. Like I said I don’t know shit about THE AUTHORITY, so I was kind of lost as to what their deal was. The art was great and the story was good, so I wasn’t disappointed, I just knew there was shit I’d enjoy more if I was more familiar with those involved.
The second story was the better one to me because I knew the players a lot more. This story read like an ELSEWORLDS tale involving Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in their civilian identities finding out some important information about their lives and why they are the way they are…that’s all I’m giving you because I don’t want to steal Batman’s thunder when he breaks it all down for ya. Warren Ellis always satisfies me when I read his stuff, there’s just a different feel to it and the dialog is always sharp with some very well timed jokes. His science jargon is a little much at times but it’s not so wild that you’re gonna get a headache thinking about it. The art in both stories is awesome but I’m biased cause I love both these guys’ work. If I had to say which story had better art I’d say the first one with Jimenez but some of that is because the artwork in that one just looks a little clearer as if the transfer was done better. If you like Jimenez and Ordway, I don’t see you having a problem with either because both artists do a great job.
I know 8 dollars IS a lot but there are 100 pages of comic book goodness to soak up. Warren Ellis writes two really fun stories here even though I was lost at times. The second story was a lot cooler to me but that’s mostly because I love seeing Bruce Wayne in his civilian gear still being a badass and there are some great Bat-moments (tee-hee) in the second story. For all you Superman haters you’ll probably appreciate how he’s handled in that story and Wonder Woman says “wonder” like 80 times just so we know who she is. The first story is more action packed and the second is a little more suspense driven, so it really just depends on what you’re in to. I think DC should have put somewhere on the cover that this is a reprint because I was about halfway though when I had an epiphany and looked at the inner cover which revealed the 2000/ 2001 copyright…but whatevs, I’d really only be mad if I had already bought this a decade ago and forgot I had it. Overall, this comic was a fun read and definitely worth the cover price.
THE WALKING DEAD #79Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Funny that it took me sitting through the entire THE WALKING DEAD television series to write a full review for the comic book series, but it wasn’t until I watched the final episodes and then read this issue that I felt I had something to say other than, “It’s good. Buy it.”
Can I say that I love the development each of these surviving characters have gone through since the beginning of this series? I believe I just did. Not only Rick, but all of the survivors have become such fleshed out beings, arguably some of the most three-dimensional in comics. Seeing Rick and Andrea interact in this issue had so many layers as they were able to let down their guards and talk like survivors instead of acting like the rest of the normal people of the Alexandria Safe Zone Community. The uncomfortable interaction between Michonne and Morgan was both sweet and honest. The caring interaction between Maggie and one of the little girls of the community about riding horses. There’s a bit of sorrow and hope behind each of the words Kirkman writes for these characters. Even newer characters like Douglas who just lost his wife have moments to shine.
But this issue isn’t all about talky talk. It’s got plenty of head bashing and zombie herd thinning. In fact, the cliffhanger involves more zombies than most of the survivors have seen in a long while which leads into the “No Way Out” storyline that starts next issue that looks to be a doozy.
But I mentioned the TV series because, while that adaptation has its differences, there are little things that remain. Seeing Andrea sporting Dale’s hat was something I didn’t pick up on earlier in the series, but having seen the first episodes of the TV series and then reading this issue makes something as simple as wearing a hat resonate. If THE WALKING DEAD were just a zombie comic, none of the above stuff I mentioned would matter. It’d be all about the brains and the kills and the gore. That’s what makes the comic one of the most special reads on the shelves. We’ve come to know these characters. We’ve seen them go through hell and survive. We feel their pain and loss and scars. It’s all due to the amazing writing of Robert Kirkman who has imbued this series with the stuff that classics are made of. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here. You know this is an amazing book. I just figured it was time to ramble a bit about it.
WOLVERINE: THE BEST THERE IS #1Writer: Charlie Huston
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I long for the glory days of Wolverine. I’m talking about the cigar smoking, motorcycle riding, leather jacket wearing, ass-kicking, tough-talking, no-nonsense, sans child, loner Wolverine. I haven’t seen that guy in a while, he’s been overexposed, put in a shitty movie and I feel like my old buddy Logan is kind of been marginalized. Those 500 one shots they put out didn’t help either and they were aimed mostly to capitalize on Hugh Jack…I mean Wolverine’s newfound (again) fame and the quality of those issues showed it. There were some good ones in there but there was a time when there were damn near 4 Wolverine books coming out a month…and nobody was buying them, at least at the store I worked at. I really like the stories where Wolverine is just roaming around, shit happens to him and he gets out of it with style and a whole lotta cuttin’…the end. I feel as though Wolverine is like The Ramones where you know exactly what to expect and while they may repeat the same formula, loyal fans love their music because they know what they’re getting into every album and love them because of the familiarity of their music even if it is a slight variation on songs they’ve already heard. I don’t care if Wolverine is by the books; I want him being a badass 24/7. Snikt, wash, repeat.
I wanted this book to be awesome as hell but I wouldn’t go that far to describe this comic. It was MANIAC COP style fun; while there are definitely some eye rolling moments and things that seemed really out of character for Wolverine, I had fun. The story is about Wolverine getting caught in a sticky situation, the fallout from that situation and Wolverine’s possible chance meeting with the proprietor of said situation. The thing I liked about this book was the back to basics approach with Wolverine where one minute he’s drinking in a bar and he next he’s butt naked fighting a ***man with a *** collar around his neck…then he’s chopping people’s heads off…I can dig it. The art is good and I know some of my esteemed colleagues feel otherwise but I really like this guy’s art. He comes from the Avatar school of drawing the most disgusting things in a comic book and that got me excited that he was on WOLVERINE because I knew it was going to be gory and it sure as hell was. There was literally blood dripping from the pages and me likely. I will say that there were few times that the faces were kind of off, like when the lady Wolverine was riding with mysteriously turned into a man in drag (not that there’s any thing wrong with that) then back in to a woman.
This brings me to things I didn’t like about this issue. Any time any Marvel superhero is in a club…it’s usually bad news. Peter Parker in “Spider-Man 3”, Mr. Fantastic in “Fantastic Four 2”, the beginning of “Blade”…actually that was pretty cool but DAMMIT WOLVERINE WHY?!?!? I’ll just say that the club scene…wow…there’s just something that happens that almost made my eyes roll out of my fucking head, impale themselves on toothpicks then hop back in facing the wrong way so they didn’t have to see any more of that atrocity…when you get to it…you’ll know. The dialog is actually weird at times too, which doesn’t bother me that much but we all know the “voices” of these characters because we’ve been reading them for years, so it’s easy to pick up when something’s off. There weren’t many instances of this but there a few times everyone’s dialog was just weird. Let me present exhibit A: Wolverine says, “Hey! I love this song. I have to dance to this song.” File that under things that will never happen along with the Palin/Obama sex tape, drinking 4 Four Lokos and not going into berserker mode, and Kletus taking his socks off during sex.
This issue is fun and gory but I doubt that many people are going to be crazy about this title and it may have to do with the million Wolverine one-shots that came before it. If this book came out and none of that other bullshit existed, people might actually feel like spending 4 bucks and taking a chance on a random Wolverine comic with out remembering how they bought WOLVERINE: FLIES TO A SPIDER and got shafted. There’s nothing particularly attractive about this book to me besides the art. The story is ok but at this point I can’t really comment too much until I see where this is all going. There are a few head scratching moments in this book but if you’re like me you can still have fun with something even though it isn’t a masterpiece (DEATHWISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN & any Van Damme movie). The art is great and I think the uncolored pencils for some panels would be better if they remained that way but the gore factor is what’s pulling me towards this book. I also love the warning on the cover; it reminds me of those B horror movies with the voice over and warning screen for those faint of heart. I like this book because it at least wants to be a tough Wolverine book…but I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s actually true…BUB!!!!
SWEET TOOTH #16 & VOLUME 2 TPBWriter / Artist: Jeff Lemire
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
SWEET TOOTH continues to raise the bar on creativity…creepiness…and pulling at every calcified string inside the pea sized organ I call my heart. Since issue one Lemire has captivated my imagination with this post-apocalyptic story of a little boy with antlers, Gus, and his stalwart juxtaposed savior, Jepperd. Lemire is simply a master of this trade, never mixing originality with incoherency, nor forgetting that “weird” can still adhere to a tight narrative. I shunned this book for several months when it first hit the shelves and I consider that move to be one of my gravest missteps in comic collecting. Before I get into the obligatory plot details, I would like to expand on my quote that adorns the back cover of the Volume 2 trade: Jeff Lemire not only respects and embraces this medium, he has unsnapped his skullcap to ooze a level of originality and surprise that will bitchslap even the greatest comic cynic back into the hobby. Yes, SWEET TOOTH is that friggin’ good.
Before I get into SWEET TOOTH’s current doings, I want to take a quick trip backwards to try and sway some new readers into this title. Normally, I could care less what people choose to read and as such I never try to directly “sell” a book. But between SWEET TOOTH and the ESSEX COUNTY TRILOGY, Lemire is a force I want to see continue and ensure that our wallets keep him well fed and happy so he can keep churning out the goods. I’ll try to make this recap as painless as possible with some nice clear headers for those that are already in the SWEET TOOTH know.
During the first story arc of SWEET TOOTH we are introduced to the eerie silence of a world without people. Struck by some plague, which we still don’t know the cause of 16 issues later, Gus and his Father live alone in wooded solitude. Yes, Gus has antlers and yes, like most ten year olds he does indeed have a “sweet tooth,” but all of these trappings are mere conveyances to drive home the innocence in Gus’ heart. As a child that was once called “soulful” and “sensitive” in my younger years, this character immediately resonated with my own youth, minus the bullying since I unfortunately grew up in New Jersey instead of solitude. Gus is simply a child that has no malice or thoughts of harming anything in the precious gift we call Earth. And this is what really stuck with me, as Gus’ Father lies dying and ultimately shuffles off his mortal coil; every panel conveyed the fear of solitude and the bravery Gus had to ultimately leave the womb of this farm. The catalyst for his leaving was a mysterious tough as nails man named Jepperd. Promising sanctity at some place called “The Preserve,” Gus and Jepperd begin one of the most unique “buddy” journeys I have ever read. A few months ago when I was fortunate enough to interview Lemire, one of my first questions was why call this book SWEET TOOTH? There had to be a deeper meaning than just a kid that likes candy. As Lemire put it, “I like the juxtaposition of the two words, Sweet being Gus, Tooth being Jepperd.” And therein lies the chemistry beauty of the book, the juxtaposition of the soulful forced to travel (not travel by force – an important distinction) with the apparent soulless until… VOLUME 2 “SWEET TOOTH: IN CAPTIVITY”.
In VOLUME 2 we learn that “The Preserve” is a ruse and there are other mammal/human hybrids that live in this world. In fact, post-plague, the only children born are these hybrids. And “The Preserve” is just a glorified science lab trying to uncover why these mutations are taking place. Where Volume 1 was our introduction to Gus, Volume 2 is all about the man behind Jepperd. After his dick move in turning over Gus to the mad scientists of “The Preserve,” it’s easy to discount Jepperd as a mere mercenary out collecting animal-humans for cash. Again though, Lemire’s creativity shines through by giving us the reason behind Jepperd’s salty ways with a connection that I never could have guessed. And again, words do little justice to the world of whispers and quiet moments that Lemire is able to convey solely with imagery throughout this gut-wrenching arc. Told mostly through flashback, we learn that surviving this plague was a far worse fate than dying with the rest of the world.
SWEET TOOTH 16 still has yet to reunite Jepperd and Gus, but it does finally begin to meld their stories back together again. Jepperd has finally gathered his allies to storm “The Preserve” in a last ditch effort to save Gus and his own soul. Gus also makes his way back to this Auschwitz like hell-hole, but sadly in captivity. Once again Lemire crafts such sorrowful eyes on Gus you just want to hug the little bugger and tell him everything will be all right. Most interesting, though, is each drip and drab of clue goodness on the nature of the plague and why kids are being born half animal and half human. I have to say though, while I care about the answers, the ride is so damn entrancing I often forget about the final destination.
WE WILL BURY YOU TPBWriters: Brea Grant & Zane Grant
Art: Kyle Strahm
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Sure it’s pretty easy to find a zombie story when perusing the shelves these days, but finding one worth a damn is a bit of a challenge. Most of these books lack inspiration and creativity or are knockoffs trying to be the next WALKING DEAD, but if you look hard for them, there are a few gems out there. WE WILL BURY YOU is one of those gems.
While most zombie stories are set in the present, WE WILL BURY YOU is set in the late 1920’s, the flapper era, an area virtually untouched by the decaying digits of the undead and ripe for the Grant siblings (Brea, who starred as the spunky speedster in TV’s HEROES, and her brother Zane) to set a pretty engaging story about a pair of flapper gals who go against the grain and end up in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Little is said about why the dead are rising (a detail included in most of my favorite zombie stories). The zombies play as more of a backdrop for an unconventional romance between these two opinionated ladies. If you’re looking at the story metaphorically, the zombies represent the intolerant masses that don’t accept this romance between these two women and want to destroy them. The fact that the other survivors are circus freaks who prove to be noble heroes fighting to the finish against the horde of undead further supports that metaphor. Reading this story and recognizing the depth of it makes me appreciate WE WILL BURY YOU even more. It plays as a thinking man’s (or maybe thinking woman’s) zombie story.
Kyle Strahm has a lot of potential and has a lot to be proud of in this book when it comes to art. His shaky, hurky-jerky style conveys the perfect amount of kineticism for a “flapper lesbians on the run from zombies” story. The story, for the most part, is an extended chase scene, and Strahm’s unconventional perspectives and figures add to the constant momentum the story requires. Strahm has a Crumb feel, especially when drawing the lecherous male zombies, then his pen steadies as he confidently draws the beautiful women of the story.
There’s a lot to like in WE WILL BURY YOU. I missed the rest of this series after I picked up the first issue a while back. Now it’s collected and it proved to be a pretty quick and exciting read. Included in the trade is a sketchbook and cover gallery, as well as some creator bios. Strahm’s art throughout is a perfect fit and WE WILL BURY YOU’s story is multi-leveled and never lets the reader take a breath. From the unconventional story elements to the unique setting, WE WILL BURY YOU is a zombie story that stands out and above the hordes of living dead comics out there.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS #2Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Cafu & ChrisCross
Publisher: DC Comics
Man, “Battlefield Earth” is a horrendous movie…I mean really fucking bad…you should check it out. Anywho, this was a really small week for comics and one of the few times in the last 7 or so years that DC has put out more books than Marvel. I really only had two books that I wanted to buy and not many more I was interested in. I’ve been seeing Nick Spencer’s name on like…every comic book website for the last few weeks and decided to see what the hype was about and picked up THUNDER AGENTS. First I’d like to say that I hate hype; it rarely lives up to the…well…hype. It ruined “Fight Club” for me which I think sucks anyway but it’s partially due to everyone in the world telling me how great it was then being largely underwhelmed after seeing it. I don’t know if all the talk about Spencer is worth it but this issue is fucking awesome despite the hype.
I read the first series of EXISTENCE and it was pretty good, nothing crazy great but it was a cool idea executed pretty well. This however is a pretty big step up from that. The most important thing a team comic can do is make you connect and really care about at least one of the characters to the point where you want to know their story and follow them even if you don’t give a damn about the rest of the team. I now feel this way about Henry Cosgei (main character in this issue) and based solely on how he was treated and portrayed in this book, I want more of him.
The characterization is so rich that I feel like I fucking know the guy. The characterization reminds of THE TWELVE, Geoff John’s JSA or Brad Meltzer’s JLA run. I say this because those books at times would do the team book thing from one person’s perspective and we essentially get to see things through their eyes and experience that world with that character as a conduit. JSA was great in that sense because after reading about each particular character, I was pulled into each one of their lives making the overall experience of that team better because now I know where all these folks are coming from thus I am more invested in everything that happens to them. I haven’t read the first issue of THUNDER AGENTS but I imagine the approach is similar where each character has an issue that ties into the over all story and culminates once all the stories are told. I like this approach; it just makes everything richer and gives a team book a more rounded feel than a group of people who are just there fighting crime. The difference between this approach and let’s just say the…um…other team is that it just feels like just a bunch of heroes put together and while I love those heroes, there’s little to no characterization other than the things we’ve come to expect from these characters. For example, the…uhh…guy who makes a lot of jokes and sticks to things…makes jokes and is depicted sticking to things…I get it but what else? It’s like that relationship you stay in because the sex is good and you’re still attracted to that person but every vertical moment you spend with them is grueling. You remain with them just because it’s familiar but in reality you’re just too lazy to find someone you actually like, that’s my relationship with the Aven…I mean…other team. It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen a speedster and what it means to run that fast handled this well; the sequence when he first runs super speed is…it’s just…fucking great and heartbreaking at the same time but makes total sense. A speedster is essentially bending time and space around him so why wouldn’t he see…well. I’m not gonna tell you that but god damn that’s cool.
I really like the art for both sequences; to me flashbacks always work better with either a different style of art or a different artist. At times the art looks like Mike Allred (face wise) with a little Clay Mann but a little tighter. Cafu handles the flashback sequences and the artwork looks like a more fluid Lenil Yu but smoother (sometime his shit looks sooo stiff, SECRET INVASION looked like those characters had never moved in their livee). The art is great but for once that’s not what thrilled me about this book; its Henry’s story.
This is why I read comics. I want to get an issue like this that tugs at my heart strings and makes me want more of this one character even though he’s on a team with 4 or 5 other people. The opening sequence is one of the best I’ve seen I a while and at first I was like, “Where’s this going…too many words…is this Endisbay under another name?!?!” Man was I wrong--everything that’s in this issue deserves to be in this issue…there’s no filler. This issue also does a great job of giving the reader enough to understand the story but leaves enough mystery for you to want more…and I do. The artwork serves the story well and fades into this issue like butter and honey on toast. The art is really good but the story is what’s golden here and I rarely care more about the story than the art. I can’t speak to all the other Nick Spencer endeavors but if this is any indication, you may wanna keep an eye on this fellow’s work. I want more comics like this that take an individual’s experience and throws it in the reader’s face with enough gravitas to make you care beyond the issue. I was thinking about Henry all night and how all he wanted to do was run…simple concept…great execution.
RAISE THE DEAD 2 #1
I seem to recall liking the original RAISE THE DEAD series and remember likening it to a LOST version of a zombie film as each character gets its own flashback sequence that somehow ties into the main storyline. This is carried on in this sequel. I liked it, but it doesn’t seem like an original enough concept to make this book stand out from the rest of the zombie comics shambling around the shelves. There’s nothing particularly bad about the book, it’s just that there’s nothing so outstanding in it either and as with the first miniseries, which I kind of liked, I see myself forgetting it after reading it. Sure that may be a diss, but don’t get me wrong, I love pretty much all zombie stories. This one has all the proper elements. I guess the introduction of zombie birds is something new and something that adds a bit of a punch to the final panels of this issue. I’ll be buying the rest of this series to see if it picks up.LADY MECHANIKA #1
I don’t want to lie and say I know anything about the Steampunk movement. I do know that there are a lot of them at every Comic Convention I go to, so if Steampunkin’ is your bag, LADY MECHANIKA is probably right up your alley. I do know good looking comics and this is one of them. Joe Benetiz offers some of the most sumptuous merging of flesh and steel you’ll probably ever see. His use of panels varies and the artist has a wide range of mechanical beauty to present in this book. This schmelding of Victorian era prudishness and coal-fueled mechanics is a lot of fun and the Lady of the title built the right way, if you know what I mean. Just a fantastic looking book from panel to panel. As an added bonus, you get recipes for apple pies and jeweled buttons on the back page! How’s that for extras!?!FAME: JUSTIN BIEBER #1
I now know entirely too much about Justin Bieber. Thanks to Bluewater, I can’t unknow this. Now, I may not be the audience for this book. But I know there are a lot of folks out there who love the guy (ahem…Sleazy G…cough), so this one is for you guys. Find out all of the trails and tribulations J Beeb has faced in his 16 years on this planet. Ooo and ahh at his first experiences recording music and performing in front of a crowd. Thrill as he meets Usher for the first time and appears on Ellen’s TV Show. I know you want to read about this. OK, maybe you don’t. But I’m sure your kid sister does. So again, don’t hate. This one’s not for everyone, but there are folks who definitely will want to check out this giant sized 44-pager.BRING THE THUNDER #1
This is a really well done first issue by Jai Nitz and Alex Ross. Nitz and Ross have created an iconic character, though he doesn’t really know it yet in the narrative. This first issue had me asking the right questions and sealing the deal of a next issue lookee-loo. An American soldier finds an alien artifact in Afghanistan and finds himself transported one year into the future. Somehow this ties into a titanic struggle between two powerful beings in the desert. The writers of this book really know how to reel a reader in with a multi page slug-fest set to a person reminiscing about his discovery of David Bowie music. The quirkiness of this initial story makes for a cool juxtaposition with the balls to the wall action in the background. BRING THE THUNDER looks to be an exciting new book and one to watch.
What can I say that hasn’t been said already? Simone writes the hell out of these characters and makes them so fascinating that they could be reading instructions on how to load a stapler and it could be intriguing. This was a sort of new status quo issue. I’m glad Black Alice is moving on and the inclusion of the fun-loving Killer Shark will definitely mix things up. As always the best lines are left for Deadshot, though anything with Catman is always badass. And Simone has done the impossible and made Bane and Scandal’s pseudo-relationship one of the cooler relationships in comics. Waller’s involvement looks to be intriguing as well. Just another solid, solid issue of one of the most solid series on the shelves today. - Bug
SHADOWLAND: AFTER THE FALL #1
Well, SHADOWLAND is over and aside from being yet another bloated crossover, it had its moments. Seeing Ghost Rider, Moon Knight, Cage, Iron Fist, Elektra, and the Punisher all working together was probably the highlight and Diggle wrote the team up well. Though I don’t like seeing Daredevil fall so far, I do think that the potential for some good stories. The proof is here as we see who will be watching over Hell’s Kitchen while DD is away (Black Panther), what the new status quo is as Kingpin swoops in and picks up the pieces, and Matt takes a bus to nowhere and begins walking the Earth like Sam Jackson in a Jheri curl wig. Though there was a point in this issue when Elektra visits Ben Urich that I thought it would have been awesome to see her take on the mantle of Lady Daredevil and watch over the Kitchen for her former beau, but alas that ain’t happening. I’m interested. And if the overblown crossover did anything, it made me curious to see what’s next. - Bug
BATMAN: ORPHANS #1