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AICN COMICS REVIEWS PART ONE: EARP SAINTS FOR SINNERS! DARKWING DUCK! JLA! BUFFY! FEEDING GROUND! & MORE!

 

@@@ AICN COMICS REVIEWS! @@@

Issue #34 Release Date: 1/19/11 Vol.#9

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
EARP: SAINTS FOR SINNERS #1
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #53
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: SEASON 8 #40
DARKWING DUCK #8
FEEDING GROUND #1-3
SO SUPER DUPER #11
CHEAP SHOTS!


EARP: SAINTS FOR SINNERS #1

Writers: M. Zachary Sherman & Matt Cirulnick
Art: Mack Chater, Martin Montiel, & Colin Lorimer
Publisher: Radical Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Being an avid Western fan, I couldn’t wait to check out this slightly sci fi yet more contemporary than we would care to admit version of the Wyatt Earp story. The makers of this book have gone to great lengths to make this one of those mash-up high concepts that comic book readers drool over. And there is a lot to drool about in this lengthy first issue as Wyatt, Morgan, and Virgil Earp (along with the ever-cool Doc Holiday) take on the Jesse James gang and an army of Pinkertons. EARP: SAINTS FOR SINNERS is a pretty meaty story with characters you recognize but thst shine like new in this modernized tale of outlaws and lawmen.

Where EARP is strongest is the seamless shift from Old West times to the world of the day after tomorrow. The characters fit and the setting of Las Vegas as a lawless town of corruption is a good one for the Earps to battle crime. So far in this issue, despite the setting, the story of the Earps goes pretty much hand in hand with how I remember the tales to be. A few Earps are shot down. Wyatt tries to retire. Doc is a swarthy bastard that you can’t help but love. There’s even a shoot out at the A-OK Casino which echoes the one at the OK Corral. I like that this story follows the narrative, but updates it and improves upon it by mashing in other Western outlaws such as Jesse James and his gang as a modern day Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are also present briefly, and the role of the Pinkertons as the Earps’ evil opposite is a great touch.

One of the things I have noticed in this day of modern comic book stories (aka non-superhero books) is that a lot of times the characters look very similar. Sure those older comics where none of the heroes took their costumes off were somewhat goofy, but there was never any confusion as to who was who. In a graphic medium, you can’t have a brown haired guy talking with another brown haired guy without things getting a bit complicated unless the artist goes to great lengths to differentiate the characters. I mention this because toward the beginning of the book, there were quite a few instances when I wasn’t sure who was who. As the book went on, there was more of a distinction between the characters, but as with the scenes where the Earps interact (all of whom have brown hair and wore the same nondescript clothing), I was pulled straight from the story as I had to reread panels in order to know who was speaking. I’m not saying the characters needed to wear nametags or costumes, but something graphically should be done to make the characters more distinct.

That qualm aside, EARP: SAINTS FOR SINNERS is a great read. It’d make a fantastic film (which I’m sure the makers of this were hoping for) and is set up in a world which I’d love to see more of. The ending of this first issue really grabs you with Earp filled with rage and revenge. With a lot of the legend of Wyatt Earp depicted in this first issue, the rest of this series seems to be going off into uncharted territory. It’ll be great to see this Old West lawman take on the twisted crimes of tomorrow in future issues.

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 names to purchase)!
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, & #4 (interview, interview, interview, preview, & review, review, in stores now!)
Zenescope’s WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010
THE DEATHSPORT GAMES miniseries: #1, #2, #3, & #4 (review, in stores now!)



JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #53

Writer: James Robinson
Artists: Mark Bagley (pencils) & Rob Hunter, Norm Rapmund & Don Ho (inks)
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Professor Challenger

"I'm young, hot and I have the powers of a god. I want out from here. I want some fun." -- Supergirl

Okay. I am just going to say this up front: I can read the forums and the bloggers. I KNOW that nobody else out there likes the current run of the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. But you know what? I don't care about everyone else. I frackin' love it! Get over yourselves.

Some 15 issues ago, when the team of James Robinson and Mark Bagley first took over the JLA, I was a little unsure at first. The writing was certainly different than what had come before and most of the big guns were unavailable for the team, so Robinson peppered it with second-stringers and wannabes. But when I recently started thinking back on the run, I realized that every single damn month I was throwing this series to the top of my list for reading. That's often a difficult choice, especially if, like me, you may only pick the comics up once a month so the order in which you read is very important. Not only do I like this series, I love it. I love everything about it. I like the way Robinson uses the multiple narrative balloons. I love the second generation line-up. I love Jade. I love Jesse Quick. I love Dick Grayson's Batman as the leader of the team. I love Congorilla. It shouldn't work, but it does.

And this issue concludes a multi-issue storyline with the current JLA in conflict with the Crime Syndicate of Earth 2 and the rooted in Fourth World tech Omega Man. Of course, the charm of a story like this is not wondering whether the JLA can defeat the villains, but HOW they will defeat them. I don't want to spoil it, but it really boils down to the fact that Owlman is a Bruce Wayne analogue and not a Dick Grayson analogue. Oh, I think this issue settled it for me in terms of how much I really love this incarnation of the JLA. If DC decides to force the big guns back into the JLA, my hope is that Robinson will be free to take this same team, give them a new name, and keep going in their own title.

Mark Bagley is one of those artists who, for whatever reason, seems more suited for Marvel comics. I can't explain it. It makes no sense. However...I was month-to-month-to-month pleased by every line he contributed during this all-too-brief run on JLA. He will be missed and I'm grateful he stayed long enough to finish this last story. I hear his replacement is Brett Booth. I dunno if that's just rumor or official. I'm not familiar with Booth as an artist, but he has some big shoes to fill here. Good luck.

“Prof. Challenger” is actually Texas graphic artist and lifelong reader of comics, Keith Howell. He really digs Green Lantern, most recently completed the cover art for the upcoming book THE WORLDS OF PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER, and has contributed award-winning art, design, and editing to a number of books and magazines. He occasionally updates his website at at profchallenger.com and welcomes feedback from readers, both pro and con, but if female please include an attached pic in a tasteful state of undress. Thanks for all the fish.


BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: SEASON 8 #40

Writer: Joss Whedon
Art: Georges Jeanty
Publihser: Dark Horse
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy

Once More, With Feeling…

With the final issue of the current season, BUFFY and the rest of the Scoobies take an interesting turn into a scenario unlike any the heroes have had to face before. No powers, support systems gone or changed, the heroes in a brave new world. For a series that started off with everything different, it's nice to see the story enter new directions, even if they're not all fantastic. Well done for the most part. The cast and the threats introduced are good. But it's not a sure bet that they'll all work.

Writing: (4/5) The writing for the main cast is consistent with Whedon's direction. Buffy is still obviously Buffy and she meets the situation as she always does. The characters have all evolved in this series (especially Dawn and Faith), and it's nice to see them stay in their characters, despite all the changes. The only noticeably off character is Willow, whose evolution towards Dark Willow is still a bit off. Even given her evolution, it's still off. Making her begin a path of darkness is a turn to the left a bit too sharp, and not consistent for me.

The new situations are at least interesting. Having Buffy be on the run from an army of vengeful of former slayers is a unique take, and it's definitely a welcome change. Unexpected and well done, it'll be very fun to read next year. The direction for Faith is unique and it'll set up some good ideas worth exploring. Faith has always been one of the best characters in the series and giving her some room to breathe should be a good read. The uncertainty regarding Angel and Spike is a good way to leave the series for a while, and let it grow. That feels like most of the issue. While some stuff doesn't work, a lot of the issue is effective and very promising heading into season nine.

Art: (3/5) The art here is very spotty and where it works, it works. And when it doesn't, IT DOESN'T!

The best shot in the book occurs towards the end, with Buffy's patrol. It all looks fantastic, especially the fight scene. Buffy seamlessly taking out the recruits is incredible to watch, and plays out better then most comic fights. The entire scene is effective and the most consistent with her actual show. Buffy looks like a drawn Sarah Michelle Gellar, which was the idea. And given how iffy that's been done effectively in this series, it's nice to see it done well. Dawn and what we see of Xander also works.

Other times, it doesn't pan out. Willow looks nothing like Hannigan. What we see of Spike isn't great, and some of the faraway shots look awful. Remarkably the scene where Willow and Buffy converse in the park is very blocky.

The art is pretty consistent with the rest of the series, in that it's very mixed. Not the perfect way to end, but better than it could be.

Best Moment: Buffy's patrol, brilliantly done and a fantastic way to set up the new status quo.

Worst Moment: Everything Willow does, save tossing Kennedy. About time.

Overall: (3/5) Alright, I'm back on. Though it's not perfect by any means, it is a satisfying conclusion, and has got me ready for Season Nine.


DARKWING DUCK #8

Writer: Ian Brill
Artist: James Silvani
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Reviewer: Lyzard

As a screenwriter, you might guess that I’d find plot as my number one priority in storytelling. This is true…up to a point. Though the plot of DARKWING DUCK #8 was not as strong as its preceding books, the art was able to distract me from this. I didn’t care that I couldn’t follow all of the references made back to the show. I was too busy identifying all of the Darkwing Ducks. As with most people when they saw “Avatar”, visuals prevented me from seeing the weak story.

DARKWING DUCK #8 jumps right into the action. The Robin Hood-esque Darkwing Duck (referred to as Quivering Quack), no longer under Magica’s evil spell, sets out to capture the other hypnotized Darkwings. Meanwhile, the real Darkwing Duck is busy fighting Negaduck until Paddywhack crashes the party. Double D now has three villains to fight off, the real terror being Paddywhack. Can Morgana and Gosmoduck/Gosalyn help Darkwing Duck save the day or is St. Canard doomed?

The first half of the book is understandable; it is the latter half that becomes messy. Megavolt, a villain from the TV series, and one of his special tools are brought in to help Darkwing. However, I’m not sure if it is because I missed episodes #1-4 or if I just can’t remember from the TV show how the tool works, but I was quite lost. Even the villain, Paddywhack, is one I do not remember from the series, though due to how other characters refer to him, he must have been on it at some point.

But I overlooked all of this mediocre storytelling because of the allusions drawn by James Silvani. There have to be at least thirty different Darkwing Ducks based on various characters from pop culture including the fourth Doctor Who, the Jonas Brothers, a Navi from Avatar, Iron Man, Lady Gaga, Rorschach, Optimus Prime, the Goon and Frankie, Charlie Chaplin and so many more that I could probably reach my word count just by trying to include them all in this review. Don’t you just love free use under situations of parody? The only reference within the comic that I thought was unnecessary was one to Hot Topic. Really? Hot Topic? Why would any character in this universe know of Hot Topic?

As for whether or not it was a successful conclusion to this particular storyline, I’d say for the most part yes. There were some threads that were not tied up, but they could be left hanging to make way for more stories later. I do hope they decide to continue this run of comics. Out of all the arcs I’ve been following, this one was probably the most fun. It did not need to be deep, but it was not shallow either. Instead this series tried to capture the tone of its source and recreate the mood of watching such a show. Though they rely too much on the TV series, to the point where one must have recently watched it to catch all of the references and some plot points, their attempt at continuing the legacy of Disney’s 1990s classic was successful.

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?).


FEEDING GROUND # 1-3

Written by: Swifty Lang
Art by: Michael Lapinsky
Published by: Archaia
Reviewed by: superhero

I’ve always though that werewolves were sort of hard to nail down. I mean once you’ve watched THE HOWLING, AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, and of course THE WOLFMAN, there’s not really all that much to say, is there? Look, I’ve never found werewolves all that compelling, OK? I mean, they’re kind of cool but in all honesty I’ve never found them to be as terrifying as, say, zombies or vampires. Not to be too dismissive but we’re essentially dealing with a creature that changes from a man to a wolf, right? Besides being about as scary as a, well, wolf there’s not really all that much that freaks me out about werewolves.

With all that said I do have to say that FEEDING GROUND is a really solid new entry into the werewolf horror genre. What makes FEEDING GROUND work as well as it does is not the creatures themselves but more of the setting they are placed in. This particular take on the lycnathrope is set in a Mexican border town. I know this sounds a lot like something Robert Rodriguez might put together. FEEDING GROUND, however, has a bit more depth to it than anything Rodriguez has ever put before the camera.

It’s hard for me to talk about FEEDING GROUND’S plot too much without spoiling it. I will say that what pulls this story together is the characters it most centrally focuses on: a Mexican family involved in sneaking people across the U.S. Mexican border. It’s the interaction of the family and what they’re going through that made this more than an average horror book. It’s a bit obvious to me that BG is hoping to be a sort of morality tale about the struggles of Mexican immigrants trying to get to the United States illegally. That’s fine because the story itself is well put together, the characters are decently fleshed out and, well, it’s got monsters in it which is always a major plus.

Another big plus this book has going for it is its artist. I have to say, I am very impressed with the look of this book. The artist’s style sets the tone perfectly for the story and punctuates the writing terrifically. I can’t imagine a more perfect artistic technique that would fit this story better. My only small quibble would have been with some of the storytelling. There were times where I had a hard time figuring out what exactly was going on or who the character speaking was. It only happened once or twice in the three issues of this that I read and it didn’t hurt the narrative overall but it was annoying enough for me to mention here. Regardless of that minor quibble I still have to say the marriage of draftsmanship and coloring is absolutely perfect for the book itself.

So even though I’m not that big on werewolves I am sold on FEEDING GROUND. It’s not your run of the mill werewolf tale and it’s got characters that you can latch on to. I’ll be interested to see how the whole thing plays out as there are some very interesting developments in these first three issues that I’m very curious about, the most shocking one being the last panel of the third issue. I’m not going to tell you what those developments are…after all you wouldn’t want me to spoil one of the most interesting werewolf yarns in years, would you? What I will say is that FEEDING GROUND is worth checking out even if you’re someone like me who isn’t so crazy about mangy ol’ werewolves.

Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. He's been an @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at www.kristianhorn.com and check out his blog at www.parttimefanboy.com.


SO SUPER DUPER #11

Writer: Brian Andersen
Art: Celina Hernandez
Publisher: sosuperduper.com
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty

Imagine my delight when the opportunity came for me to review a comic book about gay superheroes. I would, at long last, finally be in a position to tell someone that my review was “really gay” and (for once) not have it be in poor taste. Keep in mind this comes from a reviewer who named his home WiFi network THE HIP BONE so that when I log in from my laptop, which I named THE THIGH BONE, a little yellow bubble informs me that THE THIGH BONE IS CONNECTED TO THE HIP BONE. This is why my wife does not allow me to speak in public. But anyway, back to my gay review.

I don’t get the whole gay thing but that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to it. I guess I would classify myself as your average straight male. Women kissing women is hot. Men kissing men is not. I laugh at the hetero-friendly gay jokes on WILL AND GRACE and shake my fist at states that ban gay marriage. To that end, I tried to focus on whether or not SO SUPER DUPER was a good comic irrespective of its subject matter because quite frankly, I’m a bit under-qualified to be weighing in on how it measures up as gay entertainment.

SO SUPER DUPER focuses on the Amazin’Naughts, your average, every day Justice League-type of superhero group that fights crime and has all the interpersonal problems that you would expect from a unit that works so closely together on a daily basis. Camaraderie, romance, backtalk, jealousy, you name it, it’s all there. By the time we get to issue #11, one Amazin’Naught is forced out of the closet after being exposed as a homosexual by a character I won’t reveal because it’s such a great plot twist and also good for a few laughs. Now that I think about it, that pretty much sums up the experience of SO SUPER DUPER for me. It’s a lighthearted effort about the trials and tribulations of being a gay superhero and the struggle to co-exist not just among the straight population, but also among fellow gays.

The characters and artwork are simple and one dimensional but still more charming than they should be. It’s like SUPER PAPER MARIO in that a complex world has been rendered flat without losing any of its appeal. I know it’s impossible to say this without stepping on a few stereotypes but I found the entire presentation to be very neat and clean. Will it be winning any @$$ies? No, but truthfully I found it kind of refreshing to not have a comic weighted down with the usual overbearing shadows and jagged panels that often distract from the narrative rather than enhance it.

I don’t know how much the gay community will appreciate a book like SO SUPER DUPER, but as an avid reader of all thing animated, it wasn’t hard to become attached to the universal themes that transcend sexual orientation. Okay, maybe Andersen plays it a little too safe at times but his story is a familiar one and I had no trouble settling into it. I understand what it’s like to love, to be betrayed, to make difficult choices and to feel a sense of freedom after getting a monkey off my back. I also know what it’s like to enjoy a good comic book. SO SUPER DUPER happens to be one. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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.


X-FACTOR #214
Marvel Comics
Someone over at Marvel must like me, ‘cause this title has been hitting the stands on a far more frequent than monthly-basis lately. Readers of this column know that I’m a big fan of Peter David’s band of mutant misfits, and the main reason is that David can take the lamest, most nothing character and make him or her interesting. Case in point: this issue’s focus on the ultimate adapter Darwin. In shades of the “Beavis & Butthead” movie, Darwin mistakes peyote for a water-giving cactus and goes on a strange trip through a Wild West haze that drops hints of the future of both Darwin and the title itself. Darwin always seemed like more of a plot device than an actual character, so I’m glad to see that David is giving him something more to do than simply adapt to getting punched in the face every issue. –
Imp


GI JOE: COBRA II #12
IDW Publishing
This is the official fit hits the shan issue where all of the hard work our favorite Joe, Chuckles, has done since the beginning of COBRA Vol.1 pays off. I don’t want to ruin it for you, but if you read my interview with the makers of this comic in yesterday’s Q&@, you know this is an issue you don’t want to miss if you’re a Joe fan. Who knows if the death in this issue will stick, but the makers of the book said yesterday that it will have major effects on Joe comics for the foreseeable future. All I know is that this comic continues to kick all forms of glute. There are those that scoff at GI JOE as nostalgia comics to the extreme. Those folks clearly haven’t read this miniseries. The stuff going on in this comic is the best GI JOE has ever been! - Bug


SUPERIOR #4
Marvel Icon
Here’s the thing: I like this series. It’s a neat spin on Shazam and BIG, and the art is always impressive. But what the fuck is with the cover blurbs? Issue #2: “The most important comic book since 1938.” Issue #3: “It’s official: This book rocks.” Issue #4: “The best book on the stands!” These aren’t quotes from reviewers; these are just hyperbolic statements coming (I’m assuming) from Mark Millar himself. Well, here’s a quote from this reviewer: SUPERIOR is a good read with attractive art that, so far, fails to be anything other than a story we’ve all seen before, despite the minor twists to the old clichés. Even though I enjoy the series I’m tempted to drop it from my monthly list just based on my hatred for overblown big-headed chest-thumping. One of those cover blurbs alone might have been humorous; taken together they make SUPERIOR seem to be the product of an egocentric asshole. –Imp



Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

Remember, if you have a comic book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.


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Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 26, 2011, 10:09 a.m. CST

    DOOM IS FIRST!

    by V. von Doom

    Back again after the great password frak-up ...

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 10:20 a.m. CST

    And Prof, DOOM Finds JLA Rough Going!

    by V. von Doom

    DOOM understands where Robinson is trying to go -- show that the next generation of Kryptonians/Bat-People/Speed Forcers/Green Power Folk/Wonder Women is up to the task. And really, which other recent (big-gun) team has had an 80% super-heroine quota? But ... DOOM has never been a fan of pulling an unknown, ultimate super-villain out of nowhere, just to show how tough the heroes are when they hammer the villain, who is then destroyed/never seen again. DOOM would have appreciated more build-up with classic big-gun villains. Defeating them would impress DOOM more, you see. (Could they beat Vandal Savage? Could they beat Luthor?) DOOM grits his metallic teeth and waits for improvement on that score.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 10:36 a.m. CST

    Buffy

    by rben

    better artist, better artist, better artist. how many times do i have to say it. oh hell, just get Jim Lee.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:22 p.m. CST

    Really Imp?

    by Joenathan

    Are you that offended by those blurbs? Really? Come on, man. I think you need to start buying bigger panties, because yours are getting awfully bunched up...

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:35 p.m. CST

    Good stuff again guys

    by fpuk99

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 4:04 p.m. CST

    JLA #53 "review"

    by Cletus Van Damme

    Why give a "review" a title like that when the extent of the information given about this one issue consists of: "And this issue concludes a multi-issue storyline with the current JLA in conflict with the Crime Syndicate of Earth 2 and the rooted in Fourth World tech Omega Man. Of course, the charm of a story like this is not wondering whether the JLA can defeat the villains, but HOW they will defeat them. I don't want to spoil it, but it really boils down to the fact that Owlman is a Bruce Wayne analogue and not a Dick Grayson analogue." Only 3 sentences out of all those paragraphs contain information about the issue you're "reviewing." The rest is all about how much you love the run, art, writing, characters, etc. Reviewing your review: D-

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 4:09 p.m. CST

    I'll take that D-

    by Prof

    ...because I at least get my credits for this semester. Unfortunately, your review of my review gets an F. Sorry.

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 12:08 a.m. CST

    meow !

    by blackflowerX

    LOL

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 12:22 a.m. CST

    Oh ,and in relation to Buffy....

    by blackflowerX

    I gave up reading that shit ages ago , as "they" simply can't find an artist who can actually draw...<br>It just pulls you out of the story when you have to deal with random characters looking strangely disfigured and odd. <br>Which is fucking weird when you consider how amazing this comic should be...<br><br> Anyways...Isn't it time we had a real Faith comic/Show/Film ??! <br>She's always shat on buffy as a Slayer and a character...I always felt that Buffy was a bit of a twat (imo).