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(Click title to go directly to the review)
Early review: INFESTATION #1
BATMAN BEYOND #1
In stores today: INFINITE VACATION #1
THE THANOS IMPERATIVE: DEVASTATION One-Shot #1
WHO IS JAKE ELLIS? #1
AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #4
RYDER ON THE STORM #2
ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA #1
THE WALKING DEAD #80
Big Eyes For the Cape Guy presents KUROSAKURO Volume 1
INFESTATION #1In stores on the 26th!
Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: David Messina & Gaetano Carlucci
Prologue Art: Elena Casagrande & Claudia Balboni
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
“Hmmmmm…this could work.”
That’s what I said when I browsed through the preview pages in the back of this mega-crossover kickoff issue from IDW. It’s a pretty bold move to try to cross all of your top money making properties into one big story, but IDW is doing it. But not the way you think. It’s not going to be Peter Venkman fighting Major Bludd or Megatron teaming up with a Klingon. They’re doing something different in INFESTATION and I am pretty sure I like it.
This initial issue stars no one from GI JOE, TRANSFORMERS, GHOSTBUSTERS, or STAR TREK. It simply sets the stage for a story which ties them all together. Instead of trying to bring all of these unique universes together the old fashioned way (with a confusing overcrowded mash-up…remember GI JOE VS TRANSFORMERS… Personally, I try to forget it), INFESTATION utilizes story elements from ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS and brings it’s biggest properties together in an imaginative manner which looks to be preserving each of the properties and avoid the usual hang ups a crossover of this magnitude often possess. Zombies and robots will infest each of IDW’s properties in their own two issue series and though they all sprout from the same storyline, it doesn’t look like the properties will meet each other.
I kind of like that idea. The thing that’s going to make each of these two-parters special will be highlighted by having them take on this common threat in their own special manner. This threat has aspects that will definitely pose a challenge for each party involved. This first issue establishes a supernatural, military, dimensional, and mechanical threat; challenges that would be dealt with differently when faced by Dinobots or Ghostbusters or Crimson Guardsmen or Red Shirt Trekkies.
This issue pays attention to the threat for the most part, which appears in the world of the CVO (Covert Vampire Operations) which protects their earth through supernatural means with supernatural soldiers (think HELLBOY except most of them are vampires or vamp offshoots). The issue pays a lot of attention to sci fi tech details; the same type of details one might find in a STAR TREK episode, specifically a zombie hive mind virus not unlike Trek villains the Borg. The CVO is a military unit filled with soldiers with varying personalities, not unlike the GI JOE team. There’s definitely a supernatural element with the carriers of this virus being zombies, which is right up the GHOSTBUSTERS alley. And finally, the robots, which are somehow infected with the same virus/hive mind thingamajiggie are somewhat sentient, reminiscent of the Autobots and Decepticons of TRANSFORMERS. So the elements of this story are all there as this threat could pose a challenge for each of these properties.
There are a lot of balls being juggled in this first issue and it would take some masters of comic book fu to pull it off. Fortunately, INFESTATION has got the best writing pair in comics at the wheel. Oh yeah, did I fail to mention Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett are writing this one? The appearance of those two names alone on this cover sealed the deal for me. Lanning and Abnett do a fantastic job of laying the groundwork and making it all fit. They fill this issue with enough action and exposition to catch up anyone who isn’t familiar with the CVO or ZOMBIES & ROBOTS universes without bogging it down (ok, maybe the first few pages are exposition heavy, but soon it moves like quicksilver after that. Not the mutant…the Kevin Bacon movie…what, I liked that movie…but I digress).
Who knows, INFESTATION could crumble under its own weight and not work at all. But leafing through the final pages of this issue which features previews from each of the four two-part series got me intrigued. I’ll be following this crossover very closely. Crossovers between the Big Two are commonplace these days. But more times than not, I’m looking outside of Marvel and DC for comic booking done right. Maybe IDW will show the big guys how to do it with this INFESTATION. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted. But it’s off to a good start.
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!).
BATMAN BEYOND #1Writer: Adam Beechen
Artist: Ryan Benjamin
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Beware, my faithful Ain’t It Coolies (yes, I’m taking it back), do not judge a book by its cover. Despite its generous use of the same cover white space that adorned all DC titles this week (nice product differentiation BTW), indicating that the events of BATMAN #700 were not a lark and BATMAN BEYOND is now “in-continuity,” I was extremely hard pressed to see any maturation of this title beyond its cartoon roots. This is still a book for those that are fans of the BATMAN BEYOND niche; from art to the storytelling this is still very much a book aimed at fans of the animated DC Universe - not simply fans of Batman.
Yes, Bruce Wayne appears as Terry McGinnis’ own little Oracle, but the only reason I slid into this staple of the comic was because I used to watch BATMAN BEYOND between classes in college. If I had walked into this number one issue without the luxury of having forgiving parents that let me fret away the 90s stoned in literal higher education, I would be downright pissed at the BATMAN BEYOND #1 experience. There is no introduction; there are no little pop-up blurbs like we have in BRIGHTEST DAY telling us who these people are. You need the foreknowledge that Terry McGinnis is the new Batman, his mentor is Bruce Wayne and that Terry has nowhere near the maniacal obsession of the actual Batman. Terry is a kid trying to balance family and vigilantism. Honestly, since I was baked watching most of the early episodes I have no freaking idea why this kid is Batman in the first place. He seems to hate and resent the role. To me, that’s not a #1 issue. A #1 issue takes the time to acclimate new and old readers alike. I think DOOM PATROL is a perfect example of a #1 done right; it introduced the characters for new readers, but still remembered to keep the action moving so old readers weren’t bored with the exposition. BATMAN BEYOND just throws you headfirst into the action without setting any context for what the world is like and who the characters are that inhabit that world.
The story isn’t bad, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. When a police specialist finds out he’s dying from exposure to rogues’ gallery weapons he decides to steal one of those weapons and seek vengeance on…well, I’m not exactly sure who he wants vengeance on, but we know the guy is seeking vengeance. The device our baddy is seeking is a wand with the ability to transmute inorganic material into other materials. An accident occurs during the break-in and our baddy can now perform the tricks of the wand sans the wand itself. Then through comic serendipity the baddy ends up at the same mall as Terry’s mother and little brother. End issue…
And as I said, this is all well and good if, A) you have been engrossed in the BATMAN BEYOND mythos and B) you’re OK with your futurism being catered to children. When Mrs. McGinnis actually takes out her ear/phone so Terry could talk to his brother I could hear Moore’s Law implode. Hell, even in the archaic days of 2011, I transfer a call over to someone, I don’t hand them my phone. This title, hell any future title, should be able to imagine a better tomorrow for telecommunications than a 3G enabled Miracle Ear. “Can you hear me now?” aside, I will say the one part of future prognosticating the team got right was the generous use of Asian facial features and skin tones. From Terry to the new Justice League…there are more Asians in this future than “Blade Runner.” I know most reviewers are completely assed-up over this fact, but I think it makes perfect sense. America is about homogenizing gene pools, and if you believe Darwin it’s the only way to ensure the health and vitality of the human race. I’m OK with being one of the last generations of natural blondes if it ensures a better and brighter tomorrow for the human race.
BATMAN BEYOND truly left me with more questions than answers: where’s Damian Wayne; why does the future look, feel, and sound very much like today with the exception of booty-jets; where’s an Ellis type welcoming the audience that grew up with this title into adulthood; why did we even have BATMAN 700 if we’re back to the Bruce and Terry status quo?
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.
INFINITE VACATION #1In stores next week!
Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Christian Ward
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty
INFINITE VACATION numero uno is big, bright and loud. Its complicated subject matter is dressed in a peculiar palette of colorful pastels that on the surface had me nostalgic for fat laces and those neon bracelets you could get in the red and glass quarter-eaters next to the jawbreakers in the movie theater lobby circa 1985. I referred to the subject matter as “complicated”, but that’s not necessarily a knock; more like a yellow road sign for rag shop page-thumbers or those looking for a quick fix while their lady friend tries on shoes.
Writer Nick Spencer and his comrade Christian Ward developed the INFINITE VACATION as another twist on the 1-800-GOTOMARS mindfuck we’ve all come to know and love. I’m of course referring to buyer’s remorse in the grandest sense. Whether it’s that car you bought that turned out to be a lemon or that girl you sodomized that gave you the clap, life is full of decisions that often turn out to be the wrong ones. Well, no matter, because here you can buy an alternate version of your life and find out what happened if you made the other (call it “right”) decision. Think of the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE books when as a kid you would always keep a few pages dog-eared in case you ended up tilling a plantation on the wrong end of a whip. So, ready for the big do-over? Of course you are, but it’s not going to come cheap.
It’s also not going to get rid of the lives you abandoned for greener pastures. That means that at any given time there are an infinite number of “yous” running around in all the different realities created and destroyed by your good judgment (or lack thereof). You can pay a few bucks to bang that chick that smiled at you in the coffee shop or you can pay two months salary to change jobs and become a Hollywood action hero. But just remember what they told you during grammar schools testing: You should probably stick with your first choice when answering.
Trying to dream up the many ways this kind of reality jumping can fuck with you is what makes INFINITE VACATION such a fun read. I was reminded of Desmond Hume in the final season of LOST, as he struggled with the events in separate realities that despite all their differences were still bound by their symbioses. Mark, the protagonist in IV, differs from Hume in that he’s got the ability to choose his realities (or more accurately purchase them) as he sees fit. He appears to have a pretty good grip on the whole experience until he learns that the other Marks in his alternate realities are turning up dead at an alarming rate. Could he be next? And if he is, would it be by his own design?
Spencer does a nice job of getting our palates wet without bogging us down in geek speak or endless loopholes. I especially appreciated the Recall-esque commercial in the beginning that gave me an expositional roadmap without having two characters engaging in conversation simply because they know I’m listening. Oh, how I despise that. “Hey, let’s talk in great detail about stuff we already know about just in case an invisible onlooker wants to know what our motivations are.” INFINITE VACATION reads cleanly and is wonderful to look at, thanks to Ward’s meticulously layered frames that sometimes bleed into one another like Mark’s realities do. I haven’t quite figured out if he’s dreaming of electric sheep, but you can bet I’ll be sticking around for the next few issues to find out.
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.
THE THANOS IMPERATIVE: DEVASTATION One-Shot #1Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Miguel Sepulveda
Published by: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by: BottleImp
I’ve got a confession: I was looking forward to the end of THE THANOS IMPERATIVE miniseries.
Sure, THANOS IMPERATIVE was good, and yes, it featured all those characters that I loved from GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and NOVA, but even so, I felt that the miniseries missed some qualities that made the ongoing titles so fun to read. NOVA had that sense of classic Marvel adventure, where the reader would be entertained with a mixture of new concepts and (sometimes) familiar faces month after month. GOTG gave a more off-kilter, kooky vibe by virtue of its team’s roster of second, third and fourth-stringer characters, many of whom I never thought I’d see back in regular publication (Rocket Raccoon, anyone?). This title mixed that aforementioned Marvel feel with the humor of the Giffen/DeMatteis late 1980s JUSTICE LEAGUE, another series that featured B-listers rather than the flagship, iconic characters. And though THE THANOS IMPERATIVE managed to retain a bit of the adventure of NOVA and a touch of the humor of GOTG, I was looking forward to the end of the miniseries so that the characters would return to their respective series.
Well, obviously, that didn’t happen.
So now with the DEVASTATION one-shot Abnett and Lanning (along with THANOS IMPERATIVE artist Sepulveda) lay the groundwork for their new upcoming series, THE ANNIHILATORS. This means that this comic is essentially your standard “gathering the team” montage that tends to make up the first issue of any team book. However, Abnett & Lanning are too good to fall into cliché, even while employing such a hoary plot structure (but you knew that already, didn’t you?). The reason for this new team is shown as growing out of the events of the previous miniseries; essentially, Bad Shit very nearly went down, and it’s fair to say that Bad Shit will again come down in the future. Since the Guardians of the Galaxy are no more, a new group—a more powerful group—needs to be at the ready to handle any such crisis. This new team, dubbed “The Annihilators” by the recently departed Star-Lord, is comprised of some of Marvel’s heavy-hitting cosmic characters who have been regular supporting cast members in Abnett & Lanning’s various titles.
Here’s the thing: I looooove third-string superheroes. There’s something so appealing about the Not-Spider-Man or the Not-Batman or the Not-Wolverine (although Wolverine started out as a second-string character… so hard to believe now that he’s in at least a dozen titles a month); these lesser-known and lesser explored heroes and villains offer so much more potential, and in the hands of a good writer, they can become more fully-realized than their better-selling counterparts. So for me, discovering GOTG was like finding an original ACTION COMICS #1 nestled in between the dozen copies of YOUNGBLOOD in the Quarter Bin. Rocket Raccoon? Mantis? THE MICRONAUTS’ Bug? Hell, yes, please. But now with this loveable cast of misfits gone and replaced with Marvel’s certified ass-kickers, that means A-Listers, right? Well, not exactly.
Even though this new team may be the best of the best of Marvel’s cosmic characters, they’re still definitely not Spider-Man or Wolverine. Happily, this new group is still a bunch of third-stringers (well, maybe with one second-stringer)—Gladiator, Ronan the Accuser, Beta Ray Bill for chrissakes! And the group is rounded out by Quasar and the Silver Surfer. I know what you’re saying: “The Surfer is NOT a second-stringer!” Yeahhhh, maybe not, but admit it—the Silver Surfer is one of those characters who works better as a plot device rather than in a starring role (although I’d be willing to bet that Abnett & Lanning will be able to make Norrin Radd interesting).
Oh, and the whole crew is assembled and led by Cosmo, the telepathic Russian space-dog… possibly the MOST AWESOME CHARACTER EVER CREATED IN CANINE HISTORY.
Yes, it’s a “gathering the team” first-issue kind of comic, but DEVASTATION is also a fun, snazzy-looking read that promises great things for the upcoming ANNIHILATORS series… especially with the last page reveal that promises the return of a long-ignored corner of the late 1970s/early ‘80s Marvel Universe. If anyone out there still hasn’t gotten into the Abnett & Lanning Cosmic stories and want to see what all the fuss is about, this one-shot is a great jumping-on point for what looks to be a fantastic new ride.
When released from his Bottle, the Imp takes the form of Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from the Northeast. You can see some of his artwork here. He’s given up comics more times than he can remember. But every time he thinks he's out, they pull him back in.
FLASH #8Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Scott Kolins
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Taffeta Darling & Professor Challenger
“This is my story. My name is Eobard Thawne. I'm the fastest man alive. And from this day forward, I'm The Flash of the 25th Century!”
-- Prof. Zoom, The Reverse-Flash
TAFFETA DARLING (TD): The Reverse Flash's origin is again explained while the OCD'd Professor Zoom fuels his growing hatred for the Flash, and people in general. Zoom's been a pretty big threat in The Flash's world and another retelling of his origin seems unnecessary to me. Nothing unknown or new is revealed. Yet it's not without it's charm.
PROF CHALLENGER (PROF): I agree that the issue has much charm about it. Particularly the link it makes between itself and the recent FLASH: REBIRTH mini-series. This one is even billed on the cover as THE REVERSE FLASH: REBIRTH. I disagree, however, that it was an unnecessary retelling of his origin. For me, this retelling was much like the FLASH: REBIRTH origin changes. There were strategic changes made to Barry's history and now to Eobard himself by the seriously crazy Prof. Zoom. He has now monkeyed around with both his and Barry's timelines and as a prelude to the upcoming “Flashpoint” event, I have a feeling this was very necessary.
TD: Looking at the story itself, there's a wonderfully crude element in the quality of the storytelling in this issue. Geoff Johns brilliantly writes this dark story with a near perfect theme about the dangers of rashness, as we see Thawne's mentality progressively warp in this future's unyeilding agenda.
PROF: Absolutely. It shows the corruption of absolute power. If you can really pop back and forth through history and actually change things...it positions Zoom to feel like he's essentially...God.
TD: As you read along you feel Zoom's aggression and hate worsen with every spiteful change he makes to his own timeline.
PROF: Yes! It reminded me a little of David Gerrold's THE MAN WHO FOLDED HIMSELF in that sense. Every change he makes to his own past leads to another change to fix a new problem. It gets out of control very quickly. The only real complaint I have is with the art. I am simply not a fan of Scott Kolins and I don't mean the new change he has made to his work. In fact, I think the “changes” he has made actually make his work slightly more palatable to me than it used to. I don't mean this as an outright criticism of Kolins and his art in general. I know too many people who really love his work, and he keeps getting prime jobs like this and the JSA, so I realize it's merely my problem and not his.
TD: Well, I'm really not into that new digital coloring approach for Kolins' line work. It's awkward and dismal. It could've benefited from a cleaner ink job. Yeah, the artwork pretty much left me unfulfilled too.
PROF: I don't even think he has an inker on this. It looked to me like it was reproduced from his pencils and colored. That can work for some artists, but I don't think it works for him. I wish we would've had this coloring process 30 years ago for artists like Gene Colan, though. I think that would've rocked.
Overall, I thought this was a really good stand-alone issue. It was interesting and thought-provoking. It doesn't require me to have already been buying this FLASH series to understand it, and even though it is a prologue to “Flashpoint,” I don't have to read that event to enjoy this issue. I recommend it for fans of The Flash who aren't buying this series for whatever reason.
TD: Well, I've thought that Prof. Zoom was pointless and a tame foe in the DCU. Yet Johns totally finds a way to tie all the thread's of Zoom's life together in a way that brings new life and re-purposes an old character without contradicting anything that's come before. And it's a good stand-alone villain depiction building up to this epic conclusion, but then it cuts out and I'm all WTH?
PROF: Even though it just “cut out” at the end, I was primed by that point to not care. To me, it was a complete story with a cliffhanger-style end in that I am interested in seeing what happens next with Prof. Zoom...and ultimately I think that's the sign of a good (not great, but solidly good) comic.
Prof. Challenger is Texas cartoonist and writer, Keith Howell. He has trained his body to be a registered deadly weapon and mastered various martial artists under the tutelage of Sensei Joe Jitsu. His romantic skills were honed through years of understudy work with the great modern Don Juan best known as Go-Go Gomez. Challenger's status as World's Most Mediocre Detective was achieved through formative years spent absorbing the key aspects of detective-ing taught to him by the incomparable Hemlock Holmes. Check out his website at profchallenger.com for more info, art galleries, and links to his Twitter feed and blog, Intelligent Designs.
The Taffeta Darling is a geek, a stunning model, and a cos-player's dream girl. Her knowledge of the geek culture is unmatched and her sparkling smile melts hearts across Texas and abroad. Plus, she loves fart jokes...especially the ones she makes herself. Check her out at thetaffetadarling.com and throw some well-deserved love her directions.
WHO IS JAKE ELLIS? #1Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Art: Tonci Zonjic
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo
Is this the next SLEEPER? The next LOSERS? I'd love to be able to tell you, but there simply isn't enough here to get a bead on. This issue is as follows: Run, Sex, Run, Hide. And most of it reads exactly like the scene from THE MATRIX wherein Morpheus is guiding the newbie Neo away from the Agents. A seemingly almost omnipotent voice telling our hero where exactly to run, which of the random doors will be unlocked, when to duck in order to dodge a bullet. There are a ton of questions in this issue, not the least of which is the title itself. Even that isn't answered here.
This series has all the earmarks of a great mystery. However, the inherent problem with a mystery that piles questions on top of questions is that everything hinges on the answers. The resolution automatically needs to be greater than whatever it is the reader is expecting in order for it to be a success. A great theatrical beginning with a very effective rewind gets this series off to a great start, and the pace is break-neck.
Zonjic's art is perfect for this type of book, if not a tiny bit static. For a book that showcases a lot of chases, the action needs to be felt a lot more, I think. That is my only complaint, and it's minuscule. This guy could have a career working on noir books. His inks are so strong, actually, that I'd almost like this book to be entirely black and white.
We are off to a great start--Edmondson just needs to see it through, with answers that are as intriguing as the questions.
JD can be found hosting the PopTards Podcast, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating for a living, and Booking his Face off over here.
AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #4 (of 9)Writer: Allan Heinberg
Artists: Jim Cheung (pencils/inks) & Mark Morales (inks)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo
I was expecting a throw away series. Instead, we’re getting something that could actually impact continuity, something that has some heft. And I like it.
Not that I believe for a minute Dr. Doom is going to marry Wanda Maximoff. But when Wonder Man makes an appearance, and the writer immediately references Wonder Man’s recent, and kinda crazy, animosity toward the Avengers (see the barely drawn J.R. Jr. AVENGERS), then color me impressed. And when Wolverine shows up with one single-minded agenda – the same one he’s had for years, and that’s to kill the Scarlet Witch – then color me intrigued. That’s not going to make plot resolutions easy for anyone.
And with Cheung on pencils, you can color me anyway you want. The art is beautiful, as you would expect. This would be a good book to pick up for that alone, but there is much more. So many times, a writer will take the easy way out of plot issues by pretending certain characters don’t have the histories they actually have. Heinberg doesn’t do that. In fact, he seems to relish the dynamics of having Wolverine, Magneto, Quicksilver, and the Avengers at large all in one book. And oh yeah, the Young Avengers, who surprisingly do not get lost in the shuffle.
This doesn’t (yet) have the world-shattering consequences of the other Avengers books. I think it could. But AVENGERS PRIME is over; it was pretty self contained anyway. The regular AVENGERS book has a huge scale, but that scale is in inverse proportion to the quality of artwork. SECRET AVENGERS is just the opposite – excellent artwork and a mind-numbing yawn of a plotline. And the NEW AVENGERS…honestly, except for Iron Fist’s costume going white and the spectacular introduction of Squirrel Girl to the series, I honestly can’t remember a thing that’s going on with that book.
Sort of a shame that the best Avengers books are this one and the over-too-soon ANT-MAN & WASP, but we’ll take what we can get.
Rock-Me Amodeo is a daytime computer guy and nighttime all kinds of things. He’s also probably the only guy ever to write a book and a movie still hoping he might someday break into comics.
STEEL #1Writer: Steve Lyons
Art: Ed Benes
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Majin Fu
Considering it’s a new decade, it seems like a reasonable idea to bring back Steel, whose genesis came about nearly two decades ago following the “Death of Superman” storyline. It’s been years since the character had his own solo series, and the character was due for a new debut, right? This issue is an old-school slugfest, true to the origins of the character, but ultimately too lacking for me to call it a very good comic. It was just too boring.
“The Death of Superman” was a very straightforward story, with an adversary to match. Doomsday is an incredibly dull baddie, only capable of punching and grunting. His additional ability to “adapt” merely furthers his status as a one-note pain in the @$$ to DC’s heroes. The decision to have another event revolve around such an ill-conceived character is questionable to say the least, but the creators of this debut issue make a respectable effort, even if its success is debatable.
DOCTOR WHO scribe Steve Lyons had originally stated in interviews that he intended Steel’s nemesis to be Mentallo, but it was then switched to Doomsday. Furthermore, artist Sean Chen had already begun drawing this issue, when DC interceded and the entire product was of course changed when Lyons’ story was used as the first installment of the “Reign of Doomsday” event. As a result, your level of excitement for this story may depend largely on your memories of the “Death of Superman” story. I personally have only read parts, didn’t care for it, and promptly forgot most of it until reading this issue.
Lyons does his best to lend some credibility to the story, using John Henry Irons as the narrator to lend the tale some humanity. Steel’s desperate calculations and contemplations of his fate almost make Doomsday’s rampage readable. The hero facing insurmountable odds is a trope that work’s for Irons’ character. However, the presence of Steel’s passive niece Natasha doesn’t serve the story very well. Really, she could be replaced by a number of other characters and they would still serve the same purpose, and her lack of faith in her uncle just makes it worse. Also, while the story is appropriately paced, the leap in time periods confused the plot more than informing it. It’s not made very clear where Doomsday came from, how he got there, or why anything is happening. The lack of details cements the old-school feel of the issue, but the presence of details would have made for a stronger story.
Ed Benes’ art is one of the best parts of this issue. His figures are suitably iconic, and the action is presented clearly, and paced nicely. The clashing of the two figures is gritty and you get a sense of the power displayed by both Steel and Doomsday. If I had any criticism, I thought a lot of the panels lacking backgrounds added to the hollow feeling that pervades the whole issue.
For being a debut issue for an event, none of this comic felt particularly important. Everything just looks like it could have used more attention. Steel is a character I have always appreciated, but he never seems to be in any particularly good stories. DC’s disturbing trend of treating its non-white heroes like plot points to illustrate the powers of a villain (i.e. Ryan Choi) continues here. Although it says on the cover that this is a first issue for Steel, the conclusion tells readers that “Reign of Doomsday” will continue in OUTSIDERS #37, where I’m sure they will also be clobbered for an entire issue. Ultimately, I think this story suffered not from its creators, but the changes in story dictated by the editorial staff. Doomsday is a terrible character, and having him march around pounding on DC’s less popular characters is in poor taste, and rings very hollow to me as a fan. I doubt there will be a STEEL #2 but if the editorial staff is going to continue to treat the character so poorly, there might as well not be.
RYDER ON THE STORM #2Writer: David Hine
Artist: Wayne Nichols
Publisher: Radical Comics
A few days after writing my last review for RYDER ON THE STORM, I heard The Door’s “Riders on the Storm.” Though the lyrics do not correlate to the comic, it has a dark tone that I think fits well with the book. In my interview with writer David Hine, he never mentioned whether or not Jim Morrison’s last song was an influence for the title, but I feel that both contain foreboding feelings.
When I finished reading issue #2 of RYDER ON THE STORM, I returned to my old review to see if my feelings for the comic had changed any. In some ways they did. I found the story much stronger than the first issue, but was not as enthusiastically taken by the art as much as I was in issue #1.
RYDER ON THE STORM #2 picks up after the enigmatic Charles Monk has cut off our anti-hero’s hand. But when Ryder wakes up, he finds his hand re-grown. It turns out that he is a Daemon, an ancient race that once ruled the world, and the very villains he is after. After pages filled with exposition from Charles Monk, Ryder and he go off to find out what the Dantons are hiding in the sewer system. But can they handle the truth?
I complained about the last issue being unoriginal. This issue has originality, but too much exposition. There are about ten pages of the comic filled with Charles Monk explaining who he and the Daemons are. There are tons of cool ideas within these pages, but it is right in the middle of the book and puts the story on hold. While many questions are answered from the last book, it felt like a massive info dump.
The voiceover, which is so crucial to the hard-boiled pulp detective novels that influenced RYDER ON THE STORM, is inconsistent. It comes in and out and is absent for the last third of the book.
As for the artwork, I was not as shocked by the violence and gore as I was last time. Maybe I’ve been reading so much material like it, that I’ve become conditioned to such images. Anyhow, nothing jumped out at me. The character design, settings, colorization are all fine, probably better than fine, but this time nothing was pressing my buttons. I guess it is because I had seen it all before.
There is only one more issue of RYDER ON THE STORM. I wish that Radical Comics had released the comic in a series of six books. It would slow down the reveals and build more tension from issue to issue. But it is too late now. I am interested in seeing how they’ll tie up all the loose ends. Though RYDER ON THE STORM #2 answered numerous questions, it left some unanswered and raised even more. The books are pretty long, but I wish the story would go on longer. I want to see more of this world and learn more about the characters histories. Even though there are only three issues for RYDER ON THE STORM, depending on how they conclude this arc, I hope for more stories from this world.
Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a film student at Chapman University. Lyz’s love for comics stems from an internship at Dark Horse Entertainment as a freshman, which may explain why some of her favorite comic book writers are Gerard Way and Steve Niles. You can find her on Facebook, but only if you follow her band: Castle Town Convicts (possibly a Zelda reference?).
ULTIMATE COMICS CAPTAIN AMERICA #1Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Ron Garney
Publisher: Ultimate Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo
Of all the Ultimate characters that were a surprise for me, UltCap was top-tier. I have never cared about the classic Captain America as a character, besides the occasional passing interest. When Millar brought us THE ULTIMATES, however, I loved Cap! That's not to say that he's likable. 616 Steve Rogers is what America should IDEALLY be, while UltCap is what the rest of the world views America to be. Tough, pushy and a bit of a douche-nozzle. And that makes it more interesting for me as a reader.
Pulling a parallel between current headlines and the U.N. restrictions of Super Soldier Serum development for North Korea adds a hint of real-world relevancy, which is a nice touch. Steve's arrogance about wearing his bright American flag costume while aiding a British covert mission is another. Seriously, what a dick-hole! I was almost excited to watch him get his headstrong ass kicked. I loved the reveal at the end, though, and the implications that come with it.
Ron Garney: I love your work, but please pick up an inking brush! Digitally upping the contrast on your pencils isn't cutting it. Well, that's not entirely true, obviously it IS cutting it, but I just think it would be that much better with some inks on those pages (especially in the backgrounds). The colors really pick up the slack here though. Nice color work by Jason Keith for the most part. It's a dark book thematically, so the dark colors are appropriate, and when the brightness comes in, it's a welcome change. His subtle textures also add to Garney's work. Also, maybe it's because I'm used to seeing Garney's 616 Cap that this book doesn't feel enough like an Ultimate book, if that makes sense to anyone but...myself.
Jason Aaron has a pretty awesome success rate as far as I'm concerned, and this is another potentially awesome piece of work, provided he ups the ante. The attraction of the Ultimate Universe for me is the possibility that anything can happen. Now, let's see that anything.
THE WALKING DEAD #80Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
Yeah, that about sells it. We knew it was coming, the scenario that could doom the latest safe zone for the survivors, and holy shit does Kirkman know how to write a zombie comic book. While it's not the best single issue of the series, it does have some excellent moments (including arguably the greatest single scene in the series, no lie), and just further goes to remind me why this is arguably the best comic currently being printed.
Writing: (5/5) The comic shifts back and forth effortlessly between hurried control and utter panic and juggles the two with capably. When the situation calls for chaos, the characters reflect that perfectly, such as the initial attack. ***SPOILER*** The death of Bruce sells the moment as things begin to break down, or is in the process of breaking down. ***END SPOILER*** The quick-paced attempt at control is also well done, striking a very realistic chord; while there is structure and leadership, one or two simple things going wrong could destroy everything that's been built. It sets up well for the rest of the arc and gives Rick a small sense of well deserved worry. Kirkman's writing lets you know despite whatever control Rick has at the moment, he's aware something could easily break through, and he tries to account for that. The question is whether it'll be a repercussion of a personal act taken at the end of this comic, or if it'll be a something more zombie related. Leading into that moment however may be one of the most insane things I've read in recent memory. If you've picked up the comic already, the words "Carl" "Ron" "Daddy" "Kill" should clue you in. The scene itself, the atmosphere, the dialogue, the twist of expectations, the implications, just...fuuuuuuck. The comic is worth buying if only for that. The fact that such a scene can play out so unexpectedly and yet feel perfectly suited for the tone is a testament to Kirkman's' writing.
Art: (5/5) Charlie Adlard somehow finds a way to match the writing, and provides a hell of a comic. The initial zombie assault at the beginning of the book looks and feels like a kind of danger they haven't faced before, and given that our heroes have in fact dealt with this kind of situation, it becomes all the more impressive. But it's not just the big moments that sell the issue. The faces and reactions of the characters sell everything perfectly. Bruce's pain, Holly's grief, and best of all, the silent resolve of Abraham. It's absolutely marvelous, and feels more real then some live action television I've seen recently. And the aforementioned Carl scene benefits from a subtle direction and darkness that revels in the atmosphere. The comic just looks brilliant.
Best Moment: Carl’s scenes. Go read this comic, if only for that.
Worst Moment: None really. If anything, the subplot revolving around Jessie takes an expected turn, but also opens a lot of possibilities.
Overall: (5/5) Absolutely fantastic!
by Yoshinori Natsume
Released by Viz Media
Reviewer: Scott Green
Before KUROSAKURO, artist Yoshinori Natsume (maybe known for his Batman manga DEATH MASK) created TOGARI (2000), about the young Edo period orphan turned outlaw, executed, then 300 years later, released from torment in hell to collect 108 Toga sin fragments. The hero contends with his violent approach to the world and chance at redemption over the course of eight volumes, before wrapping up without a solid resolution.
Natsume returned to SHONEN SUNDAY (home of Rumiko Takahashi shounen works and DETECTIVE CONAN) with KUROSAKURO, and it ran seven volumes before it closed shop (Natsume went back to do more Togari in MONTHLY COMIC FLAPPER)
Again, Natsume proves able to construct circumstances by which violent young men become sympatric. There's the dark DEATH NOTE thrill of retribution, only more viscerally, because Natsume works with a more physical take on the temptation, with characters able to rip tormenters' throats out.
In place of Togari's historic orgin, Kurozakuro has a super heroic one.
The manga opens with talk of a food chain before presenting bespectacled Mikito Sakurai as its bottom rung. He's getting beaten up by school bullies, who kick him as they take the money from his wallet. A childhood friend steps in, and when the bullies react to her chiding, Mikito finally puts up some resistance, only to get stomped on again.
While feeding a stray cat, Mikito picks up a strange orb that provokes a dream/vision. A small, oddly dressed, sharked toothed figure offers Mikito the object of his desire in return for serving as a host. The next day, when someone tries to hassle Mikito, he beats the kid bloody.
Turns out that Mikito has become infected with an ogre seed, and that his new powers have dark consequences. If the threat of corruption wasn't bad enough, Mikito also finds himself in danger when the new girl who transfers to his school proves to be from a clan of ogre hunters.
KUROSAKURO fits into manga's long history of horror super heroes. Go Nagai's 1972 DEVILMAN had wimpy Akira Fudo turn the tables on his tormentors after becoming possessed by a devil, and because it was a GO NAGAI manga and a bit warped, his girlfriend immediately thrills that her chum gone a step beyond growing a back bone to tear into toughs.... of course, things don't end up well for the pair.
The parameters here are pretty obvious and a bit squarer than Nagai's. Mikito had moral strength before being swayed by the temptation of physical strength. Though not the most outrageous manga you'll read, Natsume can certainly draw a panel of a person getting whacked, effectively conveying how both attractive and disturbing Mikito's ogre strength can be.
This fine first volume successfully sets up a shonen level hard look at power fantasy. However, there are two problems. First is that it’s a bit violent, earning the manga an "older teen rating." And, that position the manga into something of a non-person's land. Despite the monsters and super-strength, the fights aren't fantastic. They're mostly people who look like regular people beating each other bloody. So, content-selectors might have some issue giving the manga to younger readers. At the same time, older readers are likely to be more attracted to the harder stuff, more graphically violent manga like GANTZ.
The other problem is that his track record casts doubt on Yoshinori Natsume's ability to develop the dynamic step up in KUROZAKURO's solid introduction. If KUROSAKURO is like his previous work and like what its publication history suggests, it's going to wind around the same loop until its audience and/or writer have been worn out. Not that a DRAGON BALL or ONE PIECE are always going in new directions, but they at least possess give the impression of momentum. Togari on the other hand, felt stuck.
Scott Green has been writing for AICN ANIME for over nine years. If you like what you see here and love anime & manga, be sure to check out his latest AICN ANIME column every week on AICN.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G