@@@ AICN COMICS REVIEWS! @@@
(Click title to go directly to the review)
DAREDEVIL: REBORN #1
DAYS MISSING: KESTUS #1
JOHN BYRNE’S NEXT MEN #2
HEROES FOR HIRE #2
NANNY & HANK #3
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #651
Another look at SPAWN #200
LET ME IN: CROSSROADS #2
*Note* The anniversary event of the year, otherwise known as SPAWN #200, seemed to many here at the @$$hole Hall of Indecision to deserve more than one review. And since Prof. Challenger was on monitor duty and KletusCasady was on mop-up duty after Sleazy's latest bender (we’ll hear from him later in the column), they got the task assigned to them. First up? The Prof.
SPAWN #200Writer: Todd McFarlane
Artists: Todd McFarlane (pencils/inks) & Michael Golden (pencils)
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Professor Challenger
“I'm getting sick and tired of anyone having power of some kind knowing more about me then [sic] I do!”
-- Spawn (Jim Downing)
baaarrrrrrrfffffffff....*cough*...*hack*....*sniff....*cough* geeeezzz....*groan*....is Todd McFarlane even remotely relevant to comics anymore?
I think I actually lost brain cells reading this comic book.
What a ridiculous and gloriously bad comic book. (HEY IMAGE! THERE'S A PULL-QUOTE FOR YA!) You know, I have a minimal pedigree with the SPAWN comic book. I think I once owned the first 8 or 9 issues or so. I basically stopped after whatever the Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, and Dave Sim-written issues were. I got that SPAWN VS. BATMAN cross-over comic written by Frank Miller. And that's about it. I can recall kind of digging the character design at the time, when McFarlane was at the top of the food chain of comic book artists. Very quickly, his shockingly bad writing and insipid attempts at creating a demonic mythology of some imagined degree of substance put me off and his art lost its luster for me and I moved on. However, I do remember the Gaiman, Moore, and Sim issues being pretty interesting. What a difference a writer makes who can string together grammatical sentences, spell words correctly, and structure a coherent plot with character development.
I honestly didn't even know SPAWN was still being published. I have no idea what the creative teams have been on it, so I don't know if Todd has been or has not been writing the series recently. However, he does list himself as writer on this issue, so he gets the blame for the dialogue that is painful to read and, God forgive him, even includes a “Don't call me 'Shirley'” joke.
Excuse me again....baaaaarrrrrffffff......*cough*...*sniff*
As best I can figure out here, at some point in the series, the SPAWN costume turned out to be another !@#$%^&*-ing SYMBIOTE!!!!! Gawd, I wish that word did not even exist. So, Spawn is essentially just freaking Venom, but instead of being an alien, it's demonic. Ugh. When the series began, Spawn was Al Simmons. Now, after some 200 issues, Spawn is a new guy named Jim Downing and Al Simmons is stuck in black panels sometimes looking like he's falling and sometimes standing around glowing like Obi Wan Kenobi and talking to Jim in the dark. Yeah, I'm not entirely clear on all that either. That Clown character is still around. Easily one of the stupidest looking characters in comic book history...whether in his “Clown” form or in his “Violator” form. Oh, and now there's something called “The Omegas” that delivers the awesomeness of the powerful “Omega Spawn!” In another example of McFarlane's terrible combination of bad dialogue and grammatical ignorance, we get this brain-fart of a declaration: “He's protecting him? Why? The Omega always act on their own!” Something's missing in there somewhere. Am I right? And the big “reveal” concerning The Freak's true identity? Good grief! I haven't read this series for 190 issues or so and I could see that one coming from a mile away. It's like anytime in a Batman comic where the identity of a villain is a secret: IT'S ALWAYS THE JOKER!!!! Some real suspense would have been nice.
The credits list both McFarlane and Michael Golden as providing “layouts” and “pencils.” McFarlane is the only one listed on “inks.” There is no breakdown in the credits as to how both artists provided layouts and pencils for this book, but I could not see anything in the art that struck me as anyone other than McFarlane. The storytelling, the panel placements, the interior art all just looks like McFarlane...and it all looks exactly the same as what I walked away from 190 issues ago. I saw no evidence of any improvement or growth in his work and every damn panel is chock full of hundreds of wasted ink strokes that provide nothing in terms of art other than just visual noise. In other words, McFarlane is stagnant as an artist. In the back of this comic, there is a preview of some of the page work of SPAWN's new artist starting in #201. The wide gulf between the stuck-in-1991 style of art that McFarlane provided and the terrifically dramatic work on those previews was striking.
At this point in my writing this review, I decide to pass this comic around the break room and get some feedback and hopefully validate myself a little. BottleImp takes 3 minutes and reads the thing and says “Sweet zombie Jesus... I can't believe that Michael Golden's artwork is buried somewhere in that mess. It's nice to see that McFarlane is keeping the Image tradition of "lots of scratchy lines and speed lines with very little indication as to where the character is or what is actually happening" alive and well. And his writing is... well, it's just terrible. Especially the "don't call me Shirley" joke. Remember when every single Image comic looked exactly like this?”
Squashua grabs the comic out of Imp's hand and sticks it under his arm and disappears into the bathroom. Exactly 38 minutes later, the toilet flushes and he walks out declaring for all to hear, “It's like DEMON ATTACK DEMON ATTACK DEMON ATTACK two guys DEMON ATTACK DEMON ATTACK DEMON ATTACK two guys Guy in Suit!!!! The pretension factor overwhelms the senses.” Superhero stops eating and sputters “Are you reviewing Godzilla...???” I show him the cover and he goes all “gimme gimme gimme.” So, I give it to him to read. A few minutes later he tosses it back to me with a snicker and mutters something along the lines of: “The most EXTREEAME comic I've read since the '90s.” I can't tell if he was joking or not. All I know at this point is I need to get the comic to Kletus because he's already written half his review and hasn't even read the damn thing yet!
So, to conclude my review, I'm not prepared to say this issue was as badly written as Neal Adams' BATMAN: ODYSSEY series, but it definitely made me feel stupid just for reading it. If you're a lapsed SPAWN fan looking to possibly rejoin the fray, I would suggest skipping this issue (just read the summary on Wikipedia) and trying it out with the next issue. I don't know if it will be less stupid, but at least it will look better.
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.
DAREDEVIL: REBORN #1 (of 4)Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Davide Gianfelice
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Man, I looove me some Bar-B-Q; problem is you eat so much that afterwards you regret eating so much and you can barely think about anything but laying down. DAREDEVIL has a similar effect on me. I love to read his stories but man is it depressing and afterwards all I want to do is lie down and forget about becoming a superhero. For the past few years DAREDEVIL has been pretty interesting and aside from him being Marvel’s whipping boy, he’s also one of the most well rounded characters Marvel has and seems to be one of the most realistic depictions of superhero life and all the shitty things that come with it. In DAREDEVIL’s stories we rarely see any good side to him being a superhero. He does usually end up doing good in some way shape or form but at the end of the day rarely is Matt Murdock in a better place than he was before said conflict started; hell, his wife is still in a loony bin thanks to Dr. Fear’s…uh…fear gas. My point is that DAREDEVIL comics as of late aren’t really fun; definitely an entertaining read but don’t expect to be ready to jump for joy at the resolution of a storyline. With that said, his stories always appeal to me because I want to see how much a character can take before he reaches the tipping point and the repercussions of his stories seem to have a very realistic and long lasting effect on his life…not like some characters whose past get erased because of some bullshit nostalgia for 1973 that keeps a certain character trapped doing the same shit they were doing 30 years ago…sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Long story short, Daredevil’s life got turned upside down when it was revealed that he was also Matt Murdock, the enemies came out of the woodwork trying to fuck him up, wife got driven crazy, the pressure to protect Hell’s Kitchen overwhelmed him, he joined The Hand as their leader, built a mega-Dojo called Shadowland in the middle of NYC, shit got heavy… he was possessed…got taken down…now he’s wandering the land Kung Fu style, and this is where we find our hero today. My problem with SHADOWLAND is that Matt shouldn’t and didn’t need to be possessed in order to make that story resonate. I think it would have had a lot more impact if he had just gone too far (which would have made sense given the shit he had been through) sans demon and had to deal with the consequences of his actions, which he ended up having to do anyway. I feel like the demonic possession just gave DD an easy way out as opposed to the really tuff things he had to deal with before. I mean the guy had to actually talk to and deal with his parents in law after his wife was driven crazy which I’m sorry to say WAS kind of his fault, basically because he’s a superhero thus making anyone he’s ever loved and will love forever targets. That’s some fucking tough shit to deal with. Being possessed by a demon and doing bad things is not, “Luke, come on man I was possessed by a demon…get off my fucking back already!” I mean he’s already feeling guilty for what he did, so what difference does it makes if a demon did it or not? What separates Matt Murdock from a lot of other superheroes is that he doesn’t have an out and all these things rest solely on his shoulders. Taking that away from him, in my opinion, makes him a little less unique.
But we’re at a new beginning now and Daredevil is wishing for Calgon to take him away. He’s pretty much walking because he can’t think of anything else to do with himself in hopes of finding a new lease on life. This comic was pretty good and if you’ve been following DD, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Taking Matt Murdock out of his usual setting (much like Black Panther) has the potential for some really interesting takes on who DD is and what he’s about. For some reason I find it a lot more fun to see DD out of costume using his powers than in his costume, especially since now he’s trying to conceal any resemblance to The Man Without Fear. Speaking of which, half of the damn country is looking for Matt Murdock aka Daredevil…why the fuck did this man not dye his fucking hair and get some contacts? I mean really, he couldn’t have guessed anyone with a cell phone could snap his photo and get a healthy reward? Hell, I’m sure The Hand and the Kingpin both would LOVE to find out where he’s at. The artwork isn’t too bad but it’s not as good as Checchetto (the last artist on DD), Gianfelice kind of reminds me of Paul Azaceta (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) but I like this art slightly better. There’s a more realistic feel to it and it doesn’t seem as claustrophobic as Azaceta’s work. The faces are a little weird and scrunched up at times, but for the most part its ok.
The problems I have with this issue are mainly due to Matt Murdock’s ignorance to his situation. Why didn’t he create a disguise for himself if he’s on the lam? Why in god’s name would he allow those rednecks to bring attention to him by sitting around while they wanted to fight him? Yeah, yeah, Man Without Fear, I get it…but by the end of this issue DD is doing the same shit he was trying to run away from and I would have liked to see a few issues with him dealing with the aftermath rather than literally jumping back into the spotlight. I know there might be a rhyme or reason, so these aren’t really bad things about this issue, just things I don’t understand. I liked this issue but if I had a say so (which I’m about the farthest place from having any sort of say so), I’d have done things differently and made Matt a little smarter --ut who knows maybe he’s still out of it from a demon having sex with his soul…hell, I know I am. Anyway Diggle’s run has not been as good as Brubaker’s but that a hard act to follow and I’ll credit Diggle because he’s at least keeping things interesting and even though I thought some parts of SHADOWLAND were kind of weak, I’m still really curious as to what’s next in Matt Murdock’s life. The art is not the best artwork seen in a DD comic over the past few years but it’s also only 4 issues so I can deal with it. That isn’t to say it’s bad but the past few artists on DD have been pretty good and this is just…ok. If you didn’t like SHADOWLAND, I’d still give this book a try because I think some cool things may happen in this series and I really like DAREDEVIL being in a new environment…even though he seems to be making some bad decisions to start out with.
DAYS MISSING: KESTUS #1Writer: Phil Hester
Artist: David Marquez
Publisher: Archaia/Roddenberry Productions
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
DAYS MISSING is the panacea of great sci-fi storytelling. For anyone that missed my review of the hard cover compiling the first five issues of this series, the basic premise is that all of our flights of fancy and conjurations of imagination are actually true events: Frankenstein really happened--man was able to reanimate the dead way back in the 1800s; the pandemics that were supposed to kill millions over the past few years have actually killed millions; sentient machines, been there, done that. So what has stopped these events from becoming true reality? What cosmic force relegates these true happenings into the ether realm that can only be tapped into by science-fiction luminaries? Well, that would be The Steward, a man who lives beyond time and space shepherding the progress of humanity by jigging events to his liking and then collapsing these landmark days in human achievement until we are truly ready for these monumental leaps in our evolution.
I welcome all of you to get assed-up over The Steward's gall, that's part of the point of this book. Like all science fiction that came from the mind of Roddenberry and now his estate, DAYS MISSING begs you to question the age-old mystery of whether humanity's course is pre-determined or simply a random set of circumstances. To hate The Steward for his meddling is akin to hating God for all of the woes this world suffers. If this fundamental question could spark a million wars over the course of our history, it's our fundamental responsibility as human beings to be on one side of the fence or the other over The Steward's meddling. Personally, I like this explanation for unrealized potential over any of the other choices out there whether dogmatic or scientific.
The first volume of DAYS MISSING was a veritable who's who of history and set the premise for this universe with a quasi-scientific explanation of God. The scenarios I mentioned before (along with a few others) were each a chapter in that heady, highly recommended tome. Throughout the tale we could feel the gravity of The Steward's mission; though far from whiney, the Steward would lament at times this grand charge that has been bestowed upon him. At the end of that book, things started to go wrong. The Steward wasn't the only one playing with time; in fact, there was someone else behind the scenes thwarting his every step in the final vignette. Volume two finally shows the form of The Steward's foil in the form of Kestus, a goddess in shape and form, drawn from the greed of the Greek gods. I won't call her the villain, even though she is using her omnipotence for her own personal gain, because at the end of the day I find myself caught in the moral quandary of whether The Steward's meddling is ultimately good. Simply because you believe you are on the side of angels doesn't automatically grant you wings and a halo.
Once The Steward begins to have vague recollections of this entity that is fucking with his time-folding mojo, the rest of the story is a flashback of their first meeting. Set in the early days of history, somewhere in Asia, The Steward is attempting to save a village that is about to be overrun by Kestus' forces. I don't want to give way why The Steward is trying to save this village, but let's just say years of enlightened thought would have been robbed from humanity had Kestus' plans come to fruition.
DAYS MISSING also provides an interesting, if too short, back-up story that shows The Steward in his first days on the job. I'm not sure how I feel about this at the moment; there was something comforting and warm about The Steward just "being." I'm willing to wait for the next few pages of this back-up vignette, though, before I pass final judgment. This is simply a great series. The dialogue sings the same high notes as the overall concept and the art is bar none. Throw in a guest cover appearance by my all time favorite, Mr. Alex Ross, and I can say with certainty that even though Gene Roddenberry is no longer with us his legend will continue to live on.
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.
Writer: Mary McCullough
Producer: Matt McCullough
Publisher: Rock Point Pictures
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty
DESCENDENCY is a comic book based on the graphic novel DESCENDENCY: THE UNEARTHED, which is going to be the basis for the upcoming DESCENDENCY movie from Rock Point Pictures. So we have graphic novel to comic book and comic book to movie. That’s three different outlets for the DESCENDENCY universe which means they’ve either got something great going on or they just want to ram it down your throat to help promote the upcoming movie. Well, after reading the DESCENDENCY comic book I can assure you the film will need all the help it can get. In fact, if this abomination ever made it to newsstands in its current state, it would be the perfect counter-argument in the “no such thing as bad publicity” debate.
I understand that every medium is subject to recycling, which is why I didn’t roll my eyes when I learned that DESCENDENCY was about vampires. Sure, I was feverishly grabbing clichés off the Rock Point assemble line (a la Lucy and Ethel) as it kicked into high gear and started feeding me Nazis and viruses and immortals, but it’s all good. No really, it is. You see, as a moderately hardened reviewer I can still find an appreciation for a team of hungry young artists, hunched over their desks and art tables as they try and mold their dreams into reality. What I don’t appreciate is contempt for the reader or a big F-you to all the struggling artists who want to find a home for their books but can’t. That’s kind of how I felt after reading DESCENDENCY, the comic book equivalent of a street corner pamphlet shoved in your face by a bumptious illegal alien.
The writing credit for DESCENDENCY goes to Mary McCullough, who according to Rock Point’s clunky and disjointed website is “a former journalist with a degree from NYU.” She must have had one hell of an editor. You see, I’m not a journalist and I don’t have my degree from NYU, but I still know the difference between LOOSE and LOSE. Forgivable? Sure. After all, everyone is entitled to a mulligan. Things happen and sometimes stuff just flies under the radar. Maybe Mary was too busy working on her screenplay for LOVE MISSISSIPPI to catch it. I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt until I crashed head-on into her dreadful THEN and THAN mix-ups. I stopped counting at four. Probably because I started counting the ITS vs. IT’S blunders. There’s more but I’ll leave the rest as Easter eggs for anyone with enough self-hatred to subject themselves to it.
These kinds of grammatical errors may not sound like a big deal to some and will often get missed (or is it mist?) by others, but for me, it’s like getting a dead-leg from a sneaky friend while you’re standing at attention. I’m cruising along, trying to get interested when BAM my attention span is suddenly on the floor cursing the now-fleeing prankster. It’s hard for me to believe that anyone can be this ignorant which means the only other option is that Rock Point considers us, as fanboys, desperate enough to greedily devour anything thrown our way. Even something as poorly assembled as DESCENDENCY. I’m reminded of that classic scene in NATIONAL LAMPOON’S EUROPEAN VACATION when Clark tries to order a fancy drink and the waiter responds in French: “I’ll bring you some dishwater, you won’t know the difference.” It’s lazy and unacceptable and I don’t remember seeing comic books on my life’s syllabus, so as far as I know I still retain the right to decide if and when I buy them. I know the big question from a review standpoint is how good the story was and whether or not the artwork measures up but to be frank, who cares? I certainly don’t, and why should I? The creators of DESCENDENCY didn’t even care enough to proof read this grammatical landfill. Someone needs to take this vampire comic book and put a stake (or is it steak?) through its heart.
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.
JOHN BYRNE’S NEXT MEN #2Created, Written and Drawn by: John Byrne
Published by: IDW Publishing
Reviewed by: BottleImp
Seeing as how we @$$holes rambled on nigh-endlessly debating the first issue of this new volume of NEXT MEN, I’m going to be brief here and give you the skinny on issue #2. First off, rest easy—the flashback is done. Byrne got it all out in that first issue, and the plot is moving forward without as much as a “last thing I remember…” exposition by any of the characters. So we can all quit bitching about the lack of new material.
And the material is new not just because it doesn’t re-hash, but because Byrne is taking his Next Men in a new direction from the previous volumes of the series. The majority of the original comic centered around the mutated protagonists as they left their virtual reality existence and adapted to the real world; nearly every issue was a variation on the theme of the Stranger In A Strange Land as the Next Men almost constantly evaded the government agency that spawned them. Now Byrne has taken that same theme and put a new spin on it so that the Next Men are scattered through various points in history for an as-yet unknown purpose…though all evidence points to the Next Men being used to alter history, as the reader is told that one of them was instrumental in preventing the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It seems as if this time travel jaunt will be tied in with the greater mythology of the Next Men’s creation, as the optically-enhanced Nathan meets a familiar face whilst trapped in a Nazi concentration camp. Of course, time travel was an integral part of the original series, so it’s even possible that this current plot will mesh with the whole Sathanas paradox thing, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
I still have problems with Byrne’s artwork—the sketchiness of his linework when he does his own inking, the sometimes awkward proportions—but in terms of visual narrative, the man is still at the top of his game. It may not be the best-looking comic on the stands, but the artwork in NEXT MEN always serves to tell the story. And now that there’s an actual story being told rather than just an extended flashback sequence, I can safely recommend NEXT MEN for those fans of the original series who wanted to see what happened next.
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.
HEROES FOR HIRE #2Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art: Brad Walker
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
Y’know, it is a really rare thing for me to “fanboy out” I guess would be the term for getting all wound up about certain characters getting having a huge moment – Spider-Man taking down Morlun, Batman taking down a handful of White Martians with some gas and a match, etc. I would wager it stems back to honestly being more or less jaded at this point; I’ve simply read too many comics and seen most my favorite characters have countless moments. Taking that into consideration, what happens for me anymore these days in my superhero reading is I find myself getting my jollies when I see second or third tier characters getting their time in the spotlight. It’s why I have adored what Abnett & Lanning have been pulling off in the cosmic sector of the Marvel Universe and now that they are working with the Marvel Knights section of it as well, I could not be happier.
Well, okay, I lied. There are some places I would like this book to go. But for now I am highly entertained. I like the build up that is going on here involving, for those who have not tried this yet, a rotating cast of anyone Misty Knight can call upon for a little butt kicking, which there has been a plethora of. There’s a pretty interesting and disturbing master plot going on to, where Misty has been calling on these heroes while in the thrall of the Puppet Master, a twist that was very unexpected at the end of the first issue but is an intriguing hook. At the least it is a means to a hopeful end, which I will get to now.
While I do dig on this rotating crew thing for now, especially in the early going, I do hope this turns into something a little more stable. I know it is not right to judge a book on what it might be until it happens, but I think a rotisserie of a couple characters a month will get old fast, given that I felt a little momentum lost already with just one more issue. So I’m hoping this turns into at least a semblance of a team book, like a GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, with several characters you can count on to be mostly there but a nice drop-in/drop-out esthetic with a couple new MK-based faces every so often. But who am I to argue with these two gents given their handling of the Marvel Cosmic material?
I guess “fun” is an easy word to throw around when it comes to any well produced superhero book, but HFH is excelling at it so far and with some rather dark overtones to boot. Lots of stylish action with a creepy missing persons arc to get things rolling. Digging Brad Walker’s work on this as well, in the wake of his material in the aforementioned cosmic books. It has the hyperkinetic tendencies this book needs and looks fantastic all the while shit is being blow up oh so good (even if Puppet Master looks like a pedophile caught in a wind tunnel). This book has it going on from both ends and is helping me channel that inner fanboy that I usually keep locked away, not unlike Ms. Knight in her current peril…okay, too far. Just buy it already. Cheers…
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a Blogger Account where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.
SEEDS OGNWriter: Ross MackIntosh
Art: Ross McIntosh
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
When I was contacted by the makers of SEEDS to take a look at it for AICN COMICS, I wasn’t sure about reviewing it. Sometimes, material just hits too close to home. We all have hot buttons. And with me, reading a story about a person coming to terms with the death of his father due to cancer hits me about as close to home as one can get. Having lost my own father to cancer at the age of 12, stories about the loss of one’s father have always been tough for me to read. But read stories like this, I do. And though some of the cancer stories I’ve read haven’t been the most insightful or most poignant, SEEDS, I’m happy to say, is all of that and more.
Unlike myself, who lost his father as a child, Ross, the main character of this biographical tale, was an adult when his father became diagnosed with cancer. MackIntosh does a fantastic job of illustrating how one comes to terms with the end of his father’s life as an adult, an aspect of this story I myself am not familiar with. In that I found SEEDS to be fascinating. MackIntosh’s graphic novel is a quick read, but the details he shares are enough to fully acquaint the reader with the emotions and thoughts that race through one’s head when a loved one’s time is coming to an end. This book seems to have been a cathartic experience for MackIntosh, though it never meanders or loses focus. From beginning to end, MackIntosh celebrates the time spent between father and son from hearing that first diagnosis to his funeral. Each step of the way is heartbreaking yet heartwarming all at once as McIntosh seems to have been able to make peace with his father, spend special moments with him, and accept his fate in a manner that is mature, simple, and resonant all at once.
MackIntosh (admittedly not an artist, but a graphic designer) uses simple lines to communicate this story. MackIntosh’s eye for design shines through the simplistic forms and lack of detail in the panels. Each panel communicates just enough to pull you in. Every six paneled page sets the stage for these tragic events to occur perfectly. For someone who doesn’t call himself an artist, MackIntosh has made a fantastic looking comic.
SEEDS is a brave and personal story about one man’s way of coping with the loss of the most significant man in his life. Though we all cope with loss differently and that loss comes in different forms and at different times in our lives, at its core there’s a commonality of loss SEEDS relates to with perfection. The writer/artist was successful in harnessing that commonality of loss. The final pages of SEEDS are ageless. Ross’ final goodbye to his father echoes with poignancy that could have come from someone who lost someone in their middle age, their twenties, or from a 12 year old boy.
SEEDS is a fantastic achievement and will be released in April from COM.X. Seek it out.
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!).
NANNY AND HANK #3Writer: Mark L. Miller
Artist: Steven Babb
Publisher: Bluewater Comics
For anyone following my IDES OF BLOOD reviews, it is clear that I adore vampires. No, I’m not a Twi-hard or one of those freaks that think they exist, but I do enjoy the various mythoi surrounding the creatures of the night. So when Mark Miller introduced me to his comic, NANNY AND HANK, I was a little dubious. I’ve seen every major vampire television series, watched over two dozen vampire flicks, and read many books on the bloodsucking demons. Originality is not what I’ve come to expect from the genre. But I was proven wrong by the first issue of NANNY AND HANK. The idea of having an old couple as vampires is a concept I cannot remember coming across before. But any idea can be ruined by execution. So how did writer Mark Miller and artist Steven Babb fair in the third issue of the comic?
In NANNY AND HANK #3, Ann and Hank have started their trek to Ohio to see Ann’s daughter and grandchildren. Along the way they have to deal with their hunger. Meanwhile, the vampire who turned them is brought forth to a vampire council. He is ordered to rectify his mistake of turning the senior citizens. While most vampires have time on their hands, Nanny and Hank are no longer so lucky.
NANNY AND HANK struggles tonally. At times it is quite dramatic, while other moments are rather humorous. The artwork is cartoony, dimming the intensity of the dramatic moments. It is unclear what the prevailing mood of the comic is supposed to be. Do they want it to be funny with a bit of heart, or deep with some laughs to lighten the mood?
As the previous reviewer, superhero, pointed out, the artwork is (like the concept) original. The style is full of sharp diagonals. These vampires are more like the ones from 30 DAYS OF NIGHT rather than the beautiful people of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES OR TRUE BLOOD. I prefer scary vampires, ones that humans fear rather than desire, and I think the artwork helps in creating such creatures of horror. However, there is one character design that does not quite fit. Ann’s daughter does not appear to belong to the same universe as the other characters. She is drawn with smoother curves, fewer lines across the face. If put into a lineup with all the other characters, she’d be easy to pick out.
All that being said, the humorous pieces of the comic work really well. Ann’s grandchildren are funny, not annoying like kids can be most of the time. There are also some nice plants and payoffs within each book and carried throughout the series. Structurally the comics are well written. There is enough time spent on all the storylines, nice choices of where to intercut, and always a sense of suspense in the air.
There is a lot packed into each issue, so I feel that with only one book left, Mark Miller will be able to tie up all of the loose ends without feeling rushed. I still feel that the concept is not being executed to its full potential and I blame that on the lack of a clear genre. The character reactions are all there and seem motivated and appropriate, but I’m not always sure if I’m supposed to laugh at certain situations. Overall, despite its flaws, NANNY AND HANK is far superior to most of the vampire fare out there and a better read than most of the mainstream comics available.
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?).
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #651Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Humberto Ramos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
Let's try this again…
"Big Time" seems to be Marvel’s take two at the basic concept of "Brand New Day", giving Peter a new direction, supporting cast, and updating various baddies of the Spider-Man rogues gallery. With the first story act closing, we can get a clearer view of whether that goal has been reached. While it does have some very well done moments and factors, too much comes up against it for it to really be considered a solid start.
Writing: (3/5) Now officially the writer for AMAZING, Slott adds a bit of his flavor to the book. Sadly, this means we get more of the new Hobgoblin. Whereas Kingsley was an interesting villain (possessing all the skill of Norman with none of the madness, making him a very cunning, unique problem), the new one is a terrible Joker/Deadpool biter. His punch lines aren't charming or intriguing, but annoying. When Spider-Man cuts his audio feed, it's a relief. Maybe that was the purpose to the character--for us to hate him as much as Spider-Man does--but it could be so much better. The death of a second established villain in this issue also proves annoying, as it feels cheap that such a long standing rogue goes down so easily. Most of the humor also falls flat; from Black Cat's Tron reference (which wasn't funny a month ago) to Hobgoblin’s little glib lines, you don't have much to smile about.
But there's a reason Slott was picked for the spot, and it shows at times. Peter sounds more like Peter then he does most of the time, and it's a nice welcome change. Him using his brilliance to beat more enemies is a welcome change to how Peter's utilized in a lot of comics. It's a welcome shift. Peter's dinner at the climax is a nice little scene, and it's good to see Slott knows that every once in a while, Peter's life doesn't need to completely be shit. The writing overall works and it's nice to see “Shadowland” utilized elsewhere, with Fisk being a more dangerous force. The set up for the next storyline is also well done, and Smythe and Scorpion make for a fun return to the Spider-Man verse. Overall, while Slott does do most of the comic well, there's just no real remedy for the parts it fails at.
Art: (4/5) I know many people disagree, but I think of Ramos as one of the best current Spider-Man artists. He provides such rich shots, and no one does Spider-Man in motion quite like he does. Faces are very mixed, with some like the Hobgoblin being very distinctive and memorable, while others look basic and forgettable such as Kingpin. When Black Cat moves about it works almost as well, though some poses don't work as well thanks to the basic superhero anatomy for women. The effects throughout the issue also look well done, especially the destruction of the Hobgoblin’s sword. Ramos only has some off faces and poses here and there. Otherwise, it's a fantastic book on the art side. The only other detraction is the Smythe short story at the end of the book. It may have something to do with their designs, but I'm not a fan of the art here. Scorpion and Smythe look too much like they're attempting to be "AWESOME” and it stops you from really giving the characters real threat.
Best Moment: Peter beating Hobgoblin with an admiringly deus ex machina. But it's nice to see Peter using intelligence to utilize that.
Worst Moment: Hobgoblin’s jokes. Goddamnit this sucks.
Overall: (3/5) It's close, but the issue just isn't as good as you would hope for it to be. It is the opening storyline, so there's only room to improve. But it would have been nice for the story to be more impressive.
Another look at SPAWN #200Writer: Todd McFarlane
Artist: Todd McFarlane & Michael Golden
Publisher: Image Comics
My take on SPAWN having not read one word of SPAWN #200 is as follows: Aesthetically, I think Spawn looks pretty badass and I like the origin story plus anything having to do with hell always has a good number of possibilities for weird fucked up shit to happen and I’m all about that kind of stuff (Lady Kletus…not so much). I have to be honest though, I’ve probably read a total of 10 or less Spawn comics in my entire life and beyond the initial fascination I had with him as a kid when he originally came out (and the excellent HBO show), I really have had no interest in SPAWN. This isn’t for any particular reason--I just never got into him. A guy I worked with for a while always had a bitter attitude toward the newer iterations of SPAWN; he’d say “Spawn USED to be awesome, but now he’s reduced to cheap parlor tricks!” I couldn’t argue with him because I hadn’t read a SPAWN comic since I was knee high to a demon seed and jealous of my cousin for getting issue #1.
My next brush with SPAWN was when they made a big hoopla about changing direction and becoming more of a horror comic, so I picked up an issue to see what the dealy-yo was and the art was cool but I really didn’t understand what the hell was going on. A guy got turned into a bunch of roaches and a girl was picking pieces of her face off…I don’t know…and SPAWN said some cryptic thing at the end and that was that. There it is, all of my SPAWN knowledge in a nutshell….oh yeah the movie sucked really badly.
Well…that…was…confusing. I wonder if I read more SPAWN if I would have understood #200 better. From what I gather there’s a new SPAWN (I did know that going in) and this issue mostly dealt with the fight between Omega SPAWN (didn’t really seem as powerful as they made him out to be) and the newbie SPAWN (kind of a pussy with bad jokes), Violator telling the new SPAWN about his suit and why he shouldn’t fight or some shit and it also had Al Simmons (old SPAWN) giving Jim Downing (new SPAWN) the lowdown on being the new SPAWN and the things that go along with being basically one of the Devil’s henchmen. This is one of things I never understood about SPAWN…ok, he works for the devil, right? So how the fuck is he a good guy? Couldn’t the Devil just say “You are not doing my bidding…thus…you’re going to hell permanently to burn for all eternity, peace out suckkkkaaaa!” I suppose this was probably explained at some point within the first few issues but I honestly don’t feel like pulling out those issues or going to Wikipedia to find out. That’s mostly my problem with SPAWN is just…I don’t care. The artwork usually suits my taste and all the stuff about hell usually piques my interest but for some damn reason, SPAWN has never done it for me. If you feel the way I do about SPAWN, then this book isn’t going to change that. About half way through the book my ADD started to kick in and I found myself eating breakfast, making an army of paperclip men, then having said paperclip army help me clean the evil Lord of Wax out of my ears. After that I did some work around the store only to realize about an hour later that I was about halfway through this comic and that I should probably finish it if I planned to write a (somewhat) comprehensive review it.
SPAWN #200 wasn’t terrible but there wasn’t that much here to tether my interest. I imagine, much like the women that marry serial killers, that there is a huge unknown sect of people that will read and love SPAWN unconditionally regardless of how many peoples’ interests this title has buried in its basement and this issue (and probably all the subsequent ones) is for them…specifically. This issue was really chock full of exposition and didn’t do much to bring in newish SPAWN readers like myself. Trying to keep up with 47 dialog balloons with two people who speak nearly identically was somewhat unnerving but not the worst thing in the world.
I guess if I had to throw some positivity into this review I’d say just that: it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. The artwork I thought was pretty damn good, the colors mostly were the one of the best aspects of it but I do remember that from the earlier SPAWN comics that he artwork always was good and seemed to jump off the page at you. The colors are vibrant as hell, but some of the art suffered from the Rob Liefeld effect where you had no clue where anyone was in the fight because of the lack of background. There was also a splash page that I had to squint, close one eye and hold it about 2 feet from my face and I still had no idea what the hell I was looking at but I still think the art was pretty good overall.
If you are expecting this issue to revitalize your love of SPAWN...you may be let down. BUT if you already love SPAWN, know all things regarding SPAWN and plan to stab Prof because he didn’t like SPAWN #200…then you probably already have sacrificed a hermit crab in honor of this book and don’t give a fuck what anyone says. You probably don’t even want to read a review of this issue because it will only turn you into Omega SPAWN Prime 3.0 leaving you hungry for blood, yearning for your next kill to satisfy your undying urge to…wait…what was I talking about again?!?! Oh yeah….actually that was a good example of how I reacted to this comic, there has been many a time where I was like “What are they talking about again?!?!” Everyone had some really complicated story to tell about SPAWN’s suit and I guess Megabologna is back for whatever that means.
Basically this is not a jumping on point for new readers and it should have been. People buy issue #200, #100, and #500 of whatever because they think it’ll be worth something and because of that, these should be the most new reader friendly issues out there because more people buy them, which if played right could be a gateway for new readers but this issue was not. The art is about the same as it’s always been (ha! out of the ten issues I’ve read over the years) very 90s, very Image and that’s not a bad thing but if it’s not your cup of tea you aren’t going to be converted. To sum it all up this issue was written to long term SPAWN fans that have a lot invested in the SPAWN character and not for too many other people, which is fine but they’re definitely not going to gain too many new fans based on this issue.
BATGIRL #16Writer: Bryan Miller
Artist: Pere Perez
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Charming…funny…and a glowing reminder that even the darkest legacies work towards the hope of a brighter future. This is my first time reading a BATGIRL story and I have to say I’m enchanted. Big thanks to Ain’t It Coolie, Sully, who forwarded along the message, “Douche you old bastard, I know you love the vestiges of your forgotten JLI. Check out BATGIRL for that good old Giffen/DeMatteis feel.” While not a full member of the bwahahaha verse, BATGIRL’S romp around Gotham with the douchetastic Damian Wayne in this issue certainly could be considered a tiny constellation of snark.
But there’s also an equal amount of heart to balance the humor and that was what truly charmed me about not only BATGIRL number six, Stephanie Brown, but also the writing of Bryan Miller.
This was a very nice little self-contained vignette, perfect for fans like myself, who love Batman, but have side-stepped for whatever reason Batman’s legion of do-gooders. It’s the rare occasion when a writer can stay true to their title’s fan-base, while bleeding in elements of the larger universe.
The opening scene between Damian and Alfred was priceless. This is one of the first times we get to see what a truly fucked up existence Damian has been exposed to. It’s the rare ten-year old that keeps a daily journal of thoughts; it’s even rarer when those memoirs contain critiques of their servant’s uhmmm…servitude. But as we know Damian Wayne is not the ordinary ten year old. For anyone that is a follower of BATGIRL and ignores every other title on the shelf, fear not, a lack of Damian knowledge will not inhibit your enjoyment. You learn everything you need to know about the little son-of-a-Bruce as he and Stephanie work to track down a ring of kidnappers that love to nab kids from middle-class homes. Why the middle-class, you ask? Because they actually care about their children. Kudos again to Miller for a new twist on what could have easily been a trope.
The dialogue is crisp and rife with “Batman loves me better” jabs from Stephanie and Damian. The two eventually work through their Daddy issues to band together on the case and that’s where Stephanie truly endeared herself to me, so much so that I’ll be coming back for at least issue #17. When they track the kidnappers to a museum, Damian is forced to go undercover as a member of the targeted fifth grade class, while Stephanie monitors from the security room. Despite Damian’s many skills apparently the one thing he could never learn from his father, mother, grandfather or an entire league of assassins, was how to be a child or simply have fun. When you set yourself on a track to become the next defender of the night, dodgeball and video games simply don’t factor into the equation.
This write-up does not do this issue justice, as always the devil or in this case angels are in the details. Miller simply does an amazing job making my poor descriptions above come to life on the page. The closing scene of this book was so endearing I gave an audible “awww at the end.”
Fantastic issue…and I will definitely return to see if BATGIRL can wrap me inside a longer story-arc in the future.
LET ME IN: CROSSROADS #2Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artist: Patric Reynolds
Publisher: Dark Horse
I was disappointed in the first issue of LET ME IN: CROSSROADS and probably should not have picked up the second book. But curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to see if it would get any more horrific. It didn’t. Instead, the second issue continued the lackluster writing that plagued the first issue.
LET ME IN: CROSSROADS #2 does not pick up directly after the first issue. Instead it cuts out the killing of the social worker and goes to the disposal of her body. I do not know why they decided to cut what they had built up to. There is gore in the book, so obviously that is not the reason for the lack of Abby’s kill being drawn. I felt cheated once I started the book and wanted to stop reading at that point. But I continued on. As the book proceeds, the young neighbor Jon tries to grow closer to Abby. Meanwhile, we find out just how much damage Abby has done while in this town. Also real estate entrepreneur Jamison, who needs to buy the land Abby and her protector live on to save his job, is struggling with his family life.
Not much really happens in this issue--nothing that is truly interesting. We have seen Abby’s relationship with a young boy in the films. Even though this is a prequel, I have to assume that most readers are at least aware of the movies. How the social worker is taken care of, is an interesting, well-executed idea. But it is the only moment I found myself surprised by.
What the book lacks is creepiness. We learn that many of the victims of Abby are hitchhikers, those that the town will not miss. Of course this is done to not bring too much attention onto Abby and her protector. However, without even seeing the kills, it is difficult to find any element that would bring fear to the reader in either book.
The artwork does not change from the last issue, so there is very little I can talk about without repeating myself. I will say that the three pages of flashbacks to previous victims, done completely without words, is a great bit of visual storytelling. However, that is the only strong moment I can think of where the art stands out. It is all realistic and well done; it just does not add anything.
Like the artwork, nothing in the writing is memorable. Some of the strongest pieces of dialogue are lines that reference the film. Structurally the intercutting works, but the addition of Jamison’s scenes is not adding the suspense that is necessary.
When I start a series, I intend to finish it. This will not be the case with LET ME IN: CROSSROADS. I do not care what happens or how it ends. I’ve already seen the film so I know what happens to our main characters and I haven’t become attached to any of the new characters. Last time I came into the comic with high expectations; this time I came in with none, yet I was still disappointed.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G