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AICN COMICS REVIEWS PART TWO: SUPERMAN/BATMAN! ARCHIE / JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS! GRIMM FAIRY TALES MYTHS & LEGENDS! MEMOIR! & MUCH MORE!

 

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Issue #35 Release Date: 1/19/11 Vol.#9

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
SUPERMAN/BATMAN #79 - #80
GRIMM FAIRY TALES: MYTHS & LEGENDS #1
THE ARCHIES & JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS #1
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #56
LUCID #3
MEMOIR #1
IDES OF BLOOD #6
Indie Jones presents…


SUPERMAN/BATMAN #79 & #80

Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Jesus Merino
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Professor Challenger

"It's all down to quantum fluctuations and the uncertainty principle. All around us, all the time, virtual particles are spontaneously generated out of the vacuum--always in particle and anti-particle pairs that destroy each other immediately." -- Superman

Wow. Read that quote again. Usually, Grant Morrison is the only writer who seems to remember that Superman is super-smart as well as super-strong. But that only makes sense here since this 2-part story written by Chris Roberson is a bit of a doe-eyed love song to Grant Morrison. And, if this story is any indication of how Roberson plans to approach the character in his new run on the main SUPERMAN title, then I say the faster he can pull himself away from the misguided "Superman Walking" storyline and go his own way the better.

I can't rave enough about this 2-parter. If you haven't picked it up yet, go buy both issues and sit back and enjoy.

What's to love, you ask? First of all, it really is a story that doesn't require knowing anything but the basics of who Superman and Batman are. Second, there are teases and glimpses of the vast, wonderful mythology that Grant Morrison introduced to Superman within the DC ONE MILLION event back in 1999 and expanded upon with the classic ALL-STAR SUPERMAN series.

What Roberson does with these two issues is utilize Morrison's Superman work almost like his own personal Philosopher's Stone and with that magical stone he can now transform all the dead elements weighing down Superman into reenergized wonder and fun.

The plot tool he uses to accomplish this feat is that time-traveling tool known as "Epoch, The Lord of Time." He's a throwback villain from the waning days of the Silver Age villains. Ridiculous costume, uninspired characterization, and yet...Roberson and his magic stone breathe new life into him. Our time-traveling villain is captured by the Justice Legion A's Batman and Superman of the 853rd century and promptly traps them inside some sort of temporal loop while he jumps back to the past to defeat the silver age Superman and Batman (with Robin, the Teen Wonder). He does so, because in his time-travelling he has seen a reference to The Lord of Time ruling the world at some point in the early part of the 2000s.

I loved the interaction between Epoch and the Superman/Batman team at this point of their careers. This is Batman in full blue, gray, and yellow oval super-hero-ness and Robin is wearing his elf shoes and riding a cool red motorcycle. Robin is especially enjoyable in this comic book where he is in full "Burt Ward" mode smacking his fist in his hand as exclamation. Watching Superman and Batman intellectually working out a solution to escape an inescapable trap was one of those moments that made me wonder why we can't get comics like this anymore. There were moments of joy when the story took me into the future Batcave, Fortress of Solitude, and JLA Trophy Room. I got a thrill at the glimpses of those in the Phantom Zone and the Unknown Superman, the Superman of the 5th Dimension, and the Second Superman foretold in ALL-STAR SUPERMAN.

This is super-hero comics at their best. Smart, funny, imaginative, and most of all...fun. Jesus Merino is a fantastic artist and he brings his A-game to this story. Every character looks great. His layouts and storytelling never detract and only further my enjoyment of the story. Roberson and Merino set a high bar in this story on how to write within DCU continuity without being crushed by it and embrace all the wonder of what a world with a Superman...and Batman...really could be.

I can't wait to see what Roberson does with his run on SUPERMAN. If this story is an indication, then I have the highest of expectations. This is a writer who understands what makes Superman great and how to challenge him.

“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.


GRIMM FAIRY TALES: MYTHS & LEGENDS #1

Writer: Raven Gregory
Artist: David Miller
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Reviewer: KletusCasady

You’ve seen the covers. You know, the ones you were tempted to buy based solely on the well-drawn yet scantily clad female Fairy Tale characters that you may or may not have secretly had a crush on since you were a whippersnapper. Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve opened one of these titles hoping to catch a glimpse of Alice’s cleavage whilst she runs from the Queen of Hearts because many a person has probably done the same. I have a customer that claims to be buying these for her “husband” but I feel as though she’s just another one of those people that are willing to give anything a chance when there’s the prospect of seeing a slice of nudity, especially when it’s a situation where the nudity is somewhat unexpected. Well I’d like to let all you folks out there know…there’s no nudity in these books…I know I know the covers are misleading but Zenescope kind of reminds me of the USA Up All Night movies (I love you Rhonda Sheer!), where we all knew we weren’t going to see any nudity but damn if my 13 year old self didn’t still tune in hoping some idiot in editing left a breast exposed in “Bikini Carwash 3”. Zenescope plays to that place inside me that likes horror movies and the promise of provocative encounters. If this interests you, then I suggest you pick up…well….pretty much anything they put out.

I’ve read a few various issues of Zenescope titles and the glaring difference that sticks out to me is that no matter how good the covers are…the interiors don’t really match up. The covers are always great, they look good and they are always intriguing but most of the interiors I’ve encountered aren’t nearly as good as the covers. With that said, this issue had some of the best interior art I’ve seen in a Zenescope book and it was definitely a welcome change from the stuff I saw before and this isn’t to say that other art was terrible, there was just a stark contrast as to what I was expecting and what I actually saw. Could be more my fault than the fault of the artists but Kletus is never wrong so I’ll scrap that idea. If you’re unfamiliar with Zenescope, they take fairy tale stories (at least the issues I’ve read, I know they have multiple titles out) and turn them into horror tales using the details from said story. For example, I read a story that was loosely based on the Three Blind Mice, and these three guys manipulated and stole from this weird old lady…and she burned all their eyes out…now you got a feel of what they do. This story is about a female councilor working in a clinic dealing with addiction, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses that may require talking to a professional about when an unexpected visitor drops by a wreaks havoc. I’m not sure why the schizophrenic guy is in the same group as people addicted to sex, food and alcohol, it kind of seems like a guy who has trouble with reality (could be an important part of the story) would be with other people with the same problem but the last time I counseled someone they stabbed me, so what do I know? I like the set up with a bunch of misfit people being tossed together only to be killed off but I was a little thrown off at the appearance of superhero in this book.

I don’t want to spoil it but it took what was seemingly a straight forward horror comic and turned into something I wasn’t really that interested in and I realize that may be my personal taste but the scene felt kind of forced and at this point had nothing to do with what was going on in the story…at least not yet. I really feel kind of impartial to this comic. I didn’t hate it, but because of the superhero cameo I was thrown out of the story and the atmosphere that was created up until that point was pretty much shattered once I saw that page.

That isn’t to say this series isn’t going to be good but I think my interest in it hath waned. I think the one of the best features of Zenescope’s line up, particularly the GRIMM FAIRY TALES comic, is that they are straight forward single issue horror/ fairy tales that take what you’ve known about a particular children’s story, add a twist (and T&A) to it then its over, no commitment, no regrets and no hoping that the $12 or $15 dollars you spent on 4 or 5 issues actually pan out. It seems what there are trying to do here is tie in all the myths they’ve been flubbing around with and maybe doing some sort of crossover event. I suppose this is cool for folks that have been into this company since it came to be but that doesn’t include me so I can’t say I’m too excited about what’s next. I am slightly curious as to how a super heroine fits with the story but honestly I would have been more into this if it was a single issue comic and stuck to the Little Red Riding Hood theme that seemed to permeate this story.

This issue wasn’t bad but the superhero shit kind of threw me off, I think it would have worked better had that element been introduced in more of a surprising fashion (maybe even a cliffhanger) than for it to just be stuck in the middle of the book with nothing to really anchor it to this story. I am slightly intrigued to see what happens next but if I had purchased this issue, only being slightly interested in the next issue wouldn’t cause me to plop down another $2.99. I’d maybe just thumb through it at the shop to see if anything grabbed me. Out of the Zenescope titles I’ve seen, this one definitely has the best art. There are definitely parts that are not as good as others but overall I’d say it’s pretty good. So I say this to you, if you like the stuff Zenescope puts out, I don’t think you’d be let down but the inclusion of Superheroes may throw off the horror enthusiast like myself . If this is the first thing you’ve read by Zenescope, I can’t say there’s enough here to turn you into a full-fledged fan especially if your expecting Twisted Fairy Tales with a little T & A. I will say if you’re that guy in his mom’s basement collecting every issue hoping that one of these fairy tale vixens show up to whisk you away to a far away land…DON’T DO IT! These stories rarely end well for horny people with ulterior motives.


THE ARCHIES & JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS #1

Writer: Dan Parent
Artist: Bill Galvan
Publisher: Archie Comics
Reviewer: Lyzard

I love Archie Comics, but I don’t love Archie. Why? Because he is the biggest commitment-phobe, girl-chasing Casanova, not just in Riverdale but probably the entire Archie universe. So to pick up a compilation of THE ARCHIES & JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS and see that Archie has yet again fallen for another girl, that just boils my blood. You have Betty and Veronica waiting in the wings for you (though we all know he should go with Betty). He’s previously flirted with Josie and the biggest threat to the usual triangle before Valerie was Cheryl Blossom. There are probably numerous other girls that Archie has dated, so long a list it makes me sick. But ignoring my disdain for this character, the question remains, how is THE ARCHIES & JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS issue? It was…different.

The compilation is a grouping of four issues: STARTS WITH A KISS, MORE THAN WORDS, LOVE SMACKDOWN PART ONE, and LOVE SMACKDOWN PART TWO. Over this quartet of comics we see the trials and tribulations of Archie Andrews’ new conquest. But this time is Archie really in love and not in lust?

My connection to Josie and the Pussycats is not through the comics, but through watching the TV show on Cartoon Network’s Boomerang. Like the DARKWING DUCK comics I’ve been reviewing, my memory of such shows is hazy so I cannot always get the references made in each issue. But unlike DARKWING DUCK, a great knowledge of the Pussycats is not needed; heck, it may even help not having seen the bomb of a film.

The love story is innocent enough, but Betty’s reactions are the killer. This girl will not let Archie go. Clingy much? No matter how many times he has double-booked nights between her and Veronica, shunned her for another girl, Betty continues to return to Archie. In this issue, she even helps Valerie and Archie’s relationship because she feels that they are truly in love. What?! Do you think your pining was false? Why? I agree with Veronica this one time and Betty should “fight the urge” to help.

There’s not much to say about the artwork because Archie Comics attempt consistency. There are some problems, mainly in character design, that I cannot blame on artist Bill Galvan. Reggie and manager of the Pussycats, Alex Cabot, look too much alike except for Cabot constantly wearing sunglasses. Same with Veronica and Alexandra Cabot, where the only difference is Cabot’s skunk hair.

The plot was pretty basic, the writing bland. The only strong comedic moments involved Pussycat drummer Melody. The dumb blonde is as ditzy as they come. Oddly enough there are musical notes, as if she was constantly singing, in every speech bubble of hers. I do not remember that from the TV show, but I could be wrong. Another weird element was the numerous pop culture references. What I use to enjoy about reading Archie Comics was the timelessness of them. If I picked up an issue from the 1970s there were no allusions to set it in that particular time. The choice of including such elements as Lady Gaga and an homage to Twilight just seems to limit the appeal of the comic in future years.

Dan Parent, in the back, talks about how this won’t be the end of Archie and Valerie. The Archies and the Pussycats will meet up again. I, personally, do not look forward to this. It is bad enough that Archie has juggled two girls for ages, now they’ve replaced Cheryl Blossom with Valerie. I may not be a feminist, but I am enraged by the throw-away quality of women in these comics. Maybe that’s why I prefer Jughead. His true love is food and when he has had a girlfriend, he has always stayed true to her.

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?).


GREEN LANTERN CORPS #56

Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Tyler Kirkham
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

A few months ago I interviewed Pete Tomasi about his impending departure from GREEN LANTERN CORPS, and I’ll be honest, I had concerns. In most cases, the days of dogmatically collecting every number of a book are well…numbered. Since the valuation of back-issue comics have plummeted faster than Lindsay Lohan’s career, today’s devotion rests upon following creative teams, who unlike twenty years ago are marrying books for shorter and shorter periods of time.

But despite the departure of my beloved Tom-Tom, I still couldn’t forsake the GREEN LANTERN CORPS. One reason was the fact that the titles within the Emerald universe have a cross continuity tighter than Margot Kidder’s collapsed coke nostril. Even in the post-BLACKEST NIGHT universe, GREEN LANTERN, GUY GARDNER and GLC have been transcending to epic storytelling for those that have the financial fortitude to partake in all titles. The other reason I stuck with the title was my absolute adoration of the forbidden love between Lanterns Kyle Rayner and Sinestro’s daughter, Soranik Natu. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for turncoats, but the progeny of turncoats actually trying to redeem their family name, that’s some Bible level goodness there.

I like nothing better than when my decisions turn against me; it gives me the chance to live up to the expectations set by my nom de plume. Sadly I can’t rage against the comic in this instance because I have been more than pleasantly surprised at the continued forward momentum Bedard has brought to Corps and its unique perspective on the grand Green Lantern space opera.

The first few post-BLACKEST NIGHT issues were an exercise in stage setting, decent stuff for long-time fans, but nothing that I would have recommended rushing out to get. However, “The Weaponer,” which reaches its climax this month, embodies the exact reason I’ve been a life-long fan of GREEN LANTERN, space based ass-kickery.

For the uninitiated, The Weaponer is the man that forged Sinestro’s fear-fueled yellow ring in the fiery bowels of the planet Qward. The Weaponer also has a raging hard-on for retribution against the Magenta One for treating the inhabitants of Qward like fear-harvesting plantation workers. When the Weaponer discovers a way to harness this new “white light” energy source that everyone from Deadman to Ed Begley Jr. have been talking about, he converts it into a weapon and hatches a plan to entice Sinestro to pay a visit to the Qward home-world by holding Soranik hostage.

What’s made this storyline transcend from ho-hum to ho-no-they-didn’t was the perpetual question of whether Sinestro would even care if his daughter lived or died. The relationship between the two has always been tenuous at best. Sinestro was never the type of Dad to go to a father/daughter dance and only seems to care about Soranik when there’s something in it for him. When Rayner confronts Sinestro in past issues trying to muster his help, Sinestro’s icy arrogance and laissez-faire attitude towards his daughter’s predicament truly made me wonder whether the story would have the legs to make it to the finish line. When he outright shunned Rayner, I thought for certain any follow-up issues would simply be a lame break out attempt by Soranik’s fellow Green Lanterns.

How wrong I was…

Bedard brings Sinestro to the rescue in this issue, but for all of the wrong reasons. The rationale behind Sinestro’s change of heart was so character perfect that I slapped myself for not seeing it sooner. Of course Sinestro doesn’t truly care about Soranik; however, he does care about pride and the reputation the Sinestro name carries throughout the universe. Like a petulant child that truly doesn’t care about their toys, merely the fact they are theirs, Sinestro unleashes the full force of the Yellow Corps to retrieve Soranik, simply because no one fucks with Sinestro.

The ensuing battle is fantastic. For those that hate the “giant green boxing gloves” traditionally associated with the Green Lantern battle strategy, fear not, the constructs make sense in this issue and are expertly delivered by Kirkham’s pencil work. Also, Bedard gets another cleverness merit badge for the response the Green Lanterns have to the Yellow Lanterns attacking denizens of Qward. Can you say zero constructs, kids?

While, I’ll admit my Brightest Day tolerance level is starting to wear thin, I’m okay with these tangential touches in the overarching story. Crossovers are fine as long as they don’t suffocate the progression of the title. For now, GREEN LANTERN CORPS is breathing easy.

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.


LUCID #3 (of 4)

Written & Created by: Michael McMillian
Illustrated by: Anna Wieszczyk
Published by: Archaia/Before The Door
Reviewed by: BottleImp

Normally, the viewing of a comic book “written by” a celebrity (most often a Hollywood actor, but the occasional rock ‘n’ roller has snuck in there once or twice) inspires in me a knee-jerk reaction made up of equal parts loathing, resentment and (believe it or not) glee. Loathing, because celebrity-“created” comics tend to be actually created by person or persons who are NOT the actor or musician whose name is plastered on the cover, and said celebrity simply shat out an idea—“what if blah blah blah…”—and left it up to more talented folk to express and explore that idea, while the celebrity gets all the publicity. Resentment, because not only does this mean that the hard work of these writers and artists who actually make the comics goes unrecognized, but other comic books made by struggling creators may be passed up by publishers and comic shops in favor of carrying these pieces of star-powered shit instead. Which leads me to glee—or perhaps a better term would be schadenfreude, black joy—because ultimately, these Hollywood comics usually end up coming across as transparent attempts to jumpstart a film or television project, and in most cases these blatant quests for more money fall flat… maybe because the focus on the commercial rather than the artistic results in 100% calculated shit.

Therefore, when I read a press release for LUCID and learned of the involvement of Zachary “Skylar/NewSpock” Quinto and that the series was written by a cast member of “True Blood,” I got ready to feel that old familiar trifecta of celebrity comic emotional response. However, that prejudice was dampened considerably when I realized that writer Michael McMillian played evangelical anti-vampire preacher Steve Newlin on the show—hardly a big starring role, and one that certainly didn’t give him the name recognition that would sell a comic book…unlike, say, Samuel L. Jackson, Gene Simmons or Jennifer Love Hewitt. Could it be? Could a comic written by an actor and “executive edited” (whatever THAT means) by another actor actually exist for its own purpose of graphic storytelling? Would this series turn me from my hatred of the Hollywood-hijacked comic book landscape?

Well, no. But I will say that LUCID is actually a pretty fun read.

The series follows the missions of mage Matthew Dee (descendant of historical 16th Century wizard John Dee) in his role as an agent of Majestic Intelligence, a super-secret branch of the U.S. Government. Dee uses his magic to protect the country (and the world) from evil wizards, extradimensional spirits, and magically-enhanced assassins, one of whom attempts to kill the President of the United States with a “magic bullet” not unlike the kind used to kill Kennedy. Against this larger backdrop of magic and political intrigue, Dee must discover the identity of the new Pendragon, the one whose power will bring about a new Camelot where all of mankind will be given magical powers.

I’ll freely admit that the premise of the series is nothing new; magic mashed up with James Bond-style secret agent action has been done before in both professionally-produced media and in the fan-fiction of basement-dwelling D&D nerds (and before anyone cries foul, rest assured that I count myself among the ranks of those basement-dwelling D&D nerds), but as a niche genre, wizarding spies is a fertile area for a writer to plant their seeds that can yield some very fun results. McMillian does a good job of keeping the dialogue snappy without descending into Diablo Cody-esque contrived artificiality, and lends a down-to-earth humanity that keeps the story from getting too bogged-down in the technicalities of spell-casting and heady mysticism. Part of the appeal of this comic also comes from McMillian’s blending of fact and fiction, as with Kennedy’s “magic bullet,” the real-life mystic John Dee, and this issue’s toss-away joke about the origins of Great Britain’s famous crop circles. Again, this mixture of genres is nothing new, but I can recognize when it is being done well, and LUCID is one of those cases.

On the visual side of this series, I find myself torn between exasperated annoyance and grudging admiration. Anna Wieszczyk is clearly influenced by the style of Japanese anime and manga—her characters, especially the female ones, are marked by that signature “big eye, small nose” look—and I’ve never been a big fan of that style. But Wieszczyk also incorporates a dynamic lankiness in her designs that reminds me of the character work done by “Aeon Flux” creator Peter Chung’s work, and this quality gives the drawings a grace and liveliness that makes the Manga-styling palpable. But annoyance with the artwork is primarily due to the backgrounds…or in this case, the general LACK of backgrounds. Wieszczyk relies on vaguely-defined shapes and heavily-Photoshopped photographs for her settings, and so while reading I was left frustrated by the lack of detail or overuse of “blur” filters. At times, the lack of a concrete establishing shot also leaves the characters meandering in some unknown limbo, as with the interior shot of the House of Gaunt, where Matthew Dee’s British counterpart Agent Wren keeps shop. But despite these drawbacks, Wieszcyk’s coloring is superb, and at times even serves to nullify my arguments against the background treatments. One sequence in particular, where the American and British mages fight against a fiery demon in the shadow of Big Ben, is so masterfully hued that it bursts off the pages in a blaze of color that needs no background to enhance it. So while I’m not 100% a fan of the artwork, I do think the coloring goes a long way towards making the most of the drawings.

So did LUCID change my way of thinking about celebrity-helmed comics? Well, no. I still maintain the opinion that the Hollywood invasion of the comic book genre is an obstruction to the work done by the real comic creators. In this case, however, I will gladly count McMillian as one of those real creators. Props to Archaia for not plastering Quinto’s name on the cover of this series and realizing that an entertaining story with plenty of geek-cred sensibilities doesn’t need to suckle at the celebrity teat to be a genuinely fun comic, well worth checking out.

That being said, I would gladly ignore my disdain for JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT’S MUSIC BOX to suckle at those teats.
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.


MEMOIR #1

Writer: Ben McCool
Artist: Nikki Cook
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: KletusCasady

I was intrigued by this comic solely based on the really awesome cover by John Cassaday. So I decided to flip through it, but nothing really grabbed me and the artwork was ok but nothing to write home to momma Kletus about. There was just something about that cover that whispered “r e a d m e…” It was either that or the fact that I’m tired as shit from being up until 3:45am and having to get up at 8am that was causing me to basically trip out at work via voices and all…is that weird….y’know what I don’t care…I’m weird and I’m beautiful….fuuuuck I am tired. So I listened to that voice and even though it also whispered for me to sleep under my desk, I ignored that part and decided to give this comic a try. I read the first page and I was immediately hooked; anytime you have a scene of a dad terrified, tearing up and telling his kids “…keep quiet…they found us!”…color me intrigued. I know this could immediately deteriorate into some cliché alien/monster attack plot but I feel like this one involves something a little more sinister and since I’m hungover, tired and have about 3 more hours of “work” left, let’s review the damned thing!

The story starts off with the scene I described above then quickly cuts to a journalist being interviewed about doing a story on a town where a strange occurrence has happened….no I’m not gonna tell you what that strange occurrence is but I will tell you that it was pretty interesting. It actually reminded me of the beginning of an M. Night Shamalan movie…one of the good ones (there were a couple), where the opening scene or scenes are so strong you’re just like, “fuck…I need to know more…NOW!” This is one of those issues that I feel will probably be one of the best issues in the series. The reason I say that is that the strength of these kinds of scenarios is the mystery, and unless you have a really really strong way to make that mystery deepen, the issues will only get less and less interesting once you are fully aware of what’s going on…unless what’s going on is something so wild that not even in your deepest nightmares you could fathom this event happening.

I’m not saying Ben McCool (real name? doubt it…sounds like he’s the really “awesome” guy in an 80’s movie that has the hot girl and picks on all the nerds…if I ever see him in person I’m giving him the squinty eyes) doesn’t have something unique up his sleeve but I have about 10 different ways this book can go in my head and I’ll be impressed if it doesn’t turn out to be one of them. Our protagonist seems to be a youngish journalist with a very optimistic outlook on things who makes Peter Parker-esque jokes but I imagine he’s going to be in over his head pretty soon. So far I like where this story is going and I’m definitely planning to read the next issue but I feel like that next issue is going to make or break this series for me…but we’ll see.
,br>The artwork was good, although some places the faces looked like Harvey Tolibao’s art (most recent X-MEN LEGACY) where the people kind of look like that dude Hoggle from “Labyrinth” but other than that the artwork didn’t really bother me that much. The book is in black and white just so you know but I feel like this is the best for this art style, if it was colored it just wouldn’t look as good plus I feel like black and white art can set a certain tone and this book definitely benefits from that.

I like this issue. I wasn’t moved beyond belief but I was curious and really that’s the best you can hope for in a comic. I really hope the reveal is something unique that I haven’t somewhat predicted in my head…cause that would be a let down. But if McCool lives up to his name, he’ll probably flip my lunch tray on my shirt, push me into the girls locker room, shut the door and then call the principal…fuckin’ jerk. What I really meant is, I’m hoping Mr. McCool (sounds worse huh?) can outsmart my finely tuned machine of a mind and deliver something that blindsides me like a whiffle ball bat to the back of the neck, making me want to drop the comic book and run to my hiding spot in to the woods and scream as loud as I can, “HOOOOOOOLLLLLYYYYY SHIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTT!” or at least something that makes me say, “Hmmmmmm” and lose my self in thought for the rest of the day. I hope that’s not asking too much.

The art is alright but as we’ve seen in the past, the artwork may not even matter if the story is really engaging like in WALKING DEAD….don’t get your undies in a bunch….I like the artwork but there where times where I didn’t even remember looking at the artwork because I was so engulfed by the story. So Mr. McCool you have my undivided (provided I take my medicine) attention for now, but the minute you show up to the dance with your hot girlfriend Francesca um…McHotti…I’m gonna steal her away, become prom king and be the real McCool in school…so there…put that in your Walkman and play it…bitch!


IDES OF BLOOD #6

Writer: Stuart Paul
Artist: Christian Duce
Publisher: DC Wildstorm
Reviewer: Lyzard

I believe that the conclusion of the story is the most important element in its lasting legacy. A satisfactory ending, not to say that it needs to be a happy one, can help a reader overlook the weaknesses leading up to it. Though I disliked a majority of NANCY IN HELL, the ending was a perfect fit and made me feel like I didn’t waste three months following the series. As for IDES OF BLOOD, I actually do not know what to feel. IDES OF BLOOD #6 did not have a great conclusion, but it was not poor either. It was merely meh, like the whole series.

Spoilers for those that have not been following the series: IDES OF BLOOD #6 starts off with Valens aboard Caesar’s ship. From there, through numerous pages of expositional dialogue, we learn that Caesar was a vampire in the latter days of his “life”. He has turned Valen’s ex, Octavia, into a demon of the night as well. Caesar plans a glorious return, but Brutus too has plans. With his secret weapon, Brutus plans to massacre the vampires. Which side will Valens choose, that of the power-hungry Caesar or the bloodthirsty Brutus?

I’ve complained about it before and I’ll complain about it again, crude humor just seems out of place with the type of story Stuart Paul is attempting to tell. The first page feels like something I’d hear on my college campus, not in ancient Rome or even Shakespeare’s ancient Rome. Now I will admit, Shakespeare did have some crude humor, but it was not direct and was usually hidden through his use of the English language. It was also well integrated into his plots. In IDES OF BLOOD, the moments where characters are pontificating with grandeur and then another character speaks like a frat boy just creates an odd dichotomy and takes me out of the story.

As for the story, I was hopeful in how Stuart Paul would conclude the story. But there are still many questions left at the end of the book. Some of them are purposeful, but others are plot holes, and I’m talking holes as big as the Grand Canyon.

There was plenty of blood in this issue as the vampires and the Romans went at it. There are stakings and decapitations, but nothing too unsettling for the stomach. Usually I blame the artist for not being able to tell the characters apart, but this time I find problems with the colorist. I swear some characters’ hair color changed. Others, who have the exact same hair color, are not distinctive enough to tell apart.

The conclusion of IDES OF BLOOD only partially satisfied me. I won’t spoil it for the readers of the series, but I felt that too many things went unexplained and certain elements were thrown in to set up for an unnecessary sequel. I do feel like I wasted time with this comic, but I spent much longer on this series than any other one I have followed since I started this gig. I am not saying the comic needed to be shorter, that would have been terrible, but what I am implying is that no matter how great your lead up, it is the conclusion that seals the deal.


Hey folks, Ambush Bug here. A few weeks back when the site was all wonky, my Indie Jones section was cut short in the confusion. So I’m going to repost the reviews from that section this week for those of you who might have missed it. And if you got all scrolly and darted past it last time because you fear books outside of the Big Two publishers, here’s a chance to make up for it and soak in the indie goodness. Enjoy!

CYCLOPS: THE RECRUIT #1
Archaia

My favorite type of sci fi is the kind that is somewhat believable. The not so distant future where things are very recognizable and society is just one or two major inventions ahead of the one we live in. This is the future represented in CYCLOPS: THE RECRUIT and it’s a pretty believable one. There are no jetpacks or alien cantinas, but the advancements are believable in that they represent two of our culture’s fascinations: war and entertainment. Most of this issue is set up as a recruit is brought into a war program. He is suited up with cutting edge technology and set loose with a battalion on the Iraqi border. The difference with this scenario is that the soldier is wearing a helmet called a Cyclops which broadcasts his wartime activities on national television. A reality show set on a battlefield is not such an alien concept. Some could argue that news channels like CNN and FOX NEWS are nothing more than this now, but this story is set to an obvious extreme. The fact that I remember the first Gulf War starting as I ate my dinner as a kid shows that a wartime reality show is not such an insane concept. Writer Matz, who also knocks socks off on a consistent basis with Archaia’s THE KILLER series, writes a compelling comment on our own world while fleshing out the world of CYCLOPS: THE RECRUIT. THE KILLER artist Luc Jacamon brings in an AEON FLUX feel to his characters while paying attention to authentic backgrounds and smaller details. CYCLOPS: THE RECRUIT is the start of something good.


MS. JOHNNI #1-2
Jericho Projects

What starts out as a story about an abducted child and a mourning middle-aged mother soon becomes a superhero fantasy in this genre twisting indie-licious book. The art by Rebecca Fedun is crude, but there’s a nice style that, given some time, could be something special. Adrian Petty writes an interesting tale of empowerment and determination as a mother stops at nothing to recover her daughter. I like the way the main character, Ms. Johnni herself, wills herself into becoming a superhero in order to save her missing daughter. Though fantastical elements are littered throughout the story, this is a very down to earth and soulful journey. Petty offers a surprising story of inner power and strong will coming from a surprising lead character.


ICARUS #1
Super 75 Comics

Wow. This first issue blew me away. I was really, really surprised with this one. Written, drawn, inked and created all by Ryan Cody, ICARUS #1 is an intriguing first issue that zigs when you think it’ll zag and continues to leave you spinning right up until the last page. ICARUS is filled with all kinds of fun, with a super hero killer for hire, a girl who dreams of the end of the world every night she goes to sleep, a secret organization bent on eradicating super villains, and a twist at the end that pulled the rug right out from under me. Thing is…I didn’t even know I was standing on a rug! But seriously, this is top notch stuff. Cody’s art is as good as his writing. Reminiscent of Ty Templeton and Darwyn Cooke, Cody has a gift for simplistic design and vivid, iconic panels that make for a quick, yet thrilling read. I can’t wait to see more of ICARUS and you should definitely seek this indie treat out. Fans of Dini’s BATMAN ADVENTURES, Bendis’ POWERS, Brubaker’s SLEEPER, and Eisner & Cooke’s THE SPIRIT (books I hold in very high regard) will definitely find ICARUS as much of a surprise as I did.


PARANORMALS #1
Action Studio Works

This mix of noir and religion has hints of 80’s X-rated comic FAUST, not only because of the themes, but also of the Whilce Portacio-esque art which is also reminiscent of Tim Vigil. The story follows a hard luck detective questioning fate while facing demons, angels, and folks in between. There are plenty of religious references, as well as nods to Dante’s Inferno and Shakespeare. This is a multi-textured tale that occasionally can be too wordy for it’s own good, but nevertheless, the art by Russell Fox helps elevate writer A. Diallo Jackson’s story. Fox’s sophisticated panels and angles make each page pop and help punch up the story even when bogged down by exposition. A promising series that may interest fans of HELLBLAZER.


WARRIORS OF THE DHARUK #1
Creator's Edge

Pretty fantastic, that’s what this issue is. Issue one starts with a bang. Not a lot of exposition. Not a lot of talky. Just a koala and an armadillo kicking some flying squirrel @$$. Fans of MOUSE GUARD and SECRETS OF NIMH will want to take notice of these anthropomorphic warriors. I love the battle planning that goes on here with the wise armored armadillo instructing the wide-eyed novice koala in the art of war. To top it off the art by Dave Myers alternates between cute and absolutely kick ass. Check out the rendition of the koala’s toad-steed on the cover. Simply gorgeous. This is yet another winning concept from a new publishing house that seems to be brimming with cool and fresh ideas. Creator’s Edge is a company to watch!


BRING THE THUNDER #2
Dynamite Entertainment

After last issue’s slugfest in the desert, our hero Wayne ends up transported through time and across the globe to my hometown of Chicago Illinois where he runs afoul of some gangbangers. This issue continues to develop Wayne’s origin as he copes with his newfound sound power and tries to regain his footing into his old life. There’s a lot of potential here with a likable hero with original powers. Writer Jai Nitz does a great job of making Wayne’s masked debut a heroic one and gives him a couple of enemies: one from the street and the other looks like military. The art is somewhat rough at times, but the action scenes really pop here. Can’t wait to read more of this exciting new heroic adventure!



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, 9:31 a.m. CST

    Agree about Chris Robertson...

    by kisskissbangbang

    He's great. I've read some of his sf books, so it wasn't a complete surprise, but I was still impressed by just how much he packed into these issues. Can't wait for him to have a free hand on Superman.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 9:41 a.m. CST

    "Super-smart" Superman

    by NinjaRap

    ...is super-boring and super-irritating. The character is way more human and relatable when he doesn't sound like a fucking robot.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 11:06 a.m. CST

    Archie has ALWAYS been pop-culture-oriented

    by FeralAngel

    My big sis has an old copy of Archie that she bought, I guess, around the late '60's or '70's. And in it Archie and Reg are wearing bellbottoms, and spouting Carnaby Street lingo: "I reckon it might set you back a few pounds, mate" and so on. It's a hoot to read. And not at all jarring, if you understand that the fictional teens in Archie, like real-life teens, are fad-prone, and act accordingly. What bugs me about the current Archie is junk like the new gay character and the who-will-he-marry deal. Yeah, the marriage gimmick got a lot of ink, but to my mind, if the publisher wants to build sales, then why not hire GOOD artists and writers? The books look like crap now. Archie used to be filled with crisp, lively art and genuinely funny, authentic dialogue, but no more. As for the gay character, it came off like indoctrination to me; just another headline-grabbing gimmick that did nothing to overcome the aforementioned crappy art and writing. Lame.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 11:11 a.m. CST

    Giving him Supersmarts too

    by David Cloverfield

    makes the whole Lex VS Supes and Bats Vs. Supes thing pretty redundant. (The brain Vs. brawl thing) Hell it makes Superman redundant. If he is Super Smart and incredibly powerful, there's really no reason he can't solve the Earth's problems. He should be a fairly bright guy. Maybe even a potential member of Mensa. But not an ultra mega supergenius with an alien mind. He's already a difficult character to write well. Why make it impossible?

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 11:38 a.m. CST

    If you think the Lex vs. Supes dynamic is brains vs brawn...

    by Prof

    ...then you don't get it.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 11:45 a.m. CST

    feralangel

    by Lyzard

    I guess in my Jughead Double Digest Issues, I came across more parody than direct references to pop culture. I remember one comic that was clearing spoofing Emeril Lagase, but didn't use his name. Then there was there was their recent Twilight spoof. Yes, Archie has always used pop culture references, but I feel that some of the older issues have picked to homage things that readers in the future will get, fads that have staying power or are recycled later on.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:08 p.m. CST

    Wow, an interracial kiss on the cover of an Archie comic.

    by njscribe44

    Cool by middle-aged me, but I doubt that would have flown with most publishers and major news vendors back in the '60s and '70s.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:32 p.m. CST

    For the record...

    by Joenathan

    I don't hate the big stupid green boxing gloves. I like making fun of them because it's funny, but I don't have a problem with them. I do wonder why though. Why make constructs at all? Why do you have to imagine a sniper rifle to shot a beam a light really far? Why not just shoot the beam of light really far? Why not cut out the middleman of having to create the sniper rifle? And I don't mean the real life reason of "it's a visual medium", I mean in the comic book reality... Why do the various Lantern corps use constructs? Do all of the Rainbow Corps use constructs or do some of them not? I don't read the book, so I'm curious.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 1:17 p.m. CST

    How come no talkback on the death of The Human Torch?

    by Royston Lodge

    I mean, it's kinda a big event in comic book land, isn't it?

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 1:41 p.m. CST

    It totally is

    by Joenathan

    because this time he's dead forever, I bet. For sure, this time.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 1:41 p.m. CST

    I'm convinced Johnny's death is Chris Evans' fault...

    by thecomedian

    In some twisted logic the Disney suits running Marvel think comic fans are just as easily confused as mainstream movie audiences are going to be 5 months from now. So they bumped Johnny off. Which is asinine but I wouldn't put it past them.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 1:46 p.m. CST

    prof

    by David Cloverfield

    I get the Lex Vs. Supes thing. Hell, I included it in some papers in collage, (thank god I outgrew stuff like that) . I'm just saying, giving Supes an alien supermind fucks up the balance of power in his stories, so writers will behave like it doesn't exist. Then why have it?

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 1:51 p.m. CST

    I always knew Superman was a Genius...

    by Atkinson

    I mean really, his enemies are: Brainiac, Lex Luthor, Morgan Edge, Darkseid, and Mister Mxyzptlk - villains that aren't typically defeated by a mere punch.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 1:55 p.m. CST

    Top, top reviews ....

    by fpuk99

    .... best thing to read on here by far.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 4:11 p.m. CST

    Torch is the natural choice to kill off, because...

    by Royston Lodge

    ...Reid Richards can always replace him with the original, robot version of the Human Torch. ... or transfer Johnny Storm's mind to the robot Torch's body. ... or just make She Hulk a member again. ... or whatever.

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 12:48 a.m. CST

    To those complaining about Superman being too intelligent...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...you do remember that he's the son of Krypton's greatest scientific genius, right?

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 4:40 a.m. CST

    "Krypton's greatest scientific genius"

    by buggerbugger

    I always thought the people of Krypton meant for that accolade to be pronounced with a great deal of sarcasm, considering how much they believed him about Krypton's impending destruction. "Apparently the world is going to end, according to Jor-El, Nimrod of Krypton."

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 9:17 a.m. CST

    Archie Comics are a guilty pleasure

    by Trazadone

    I think it's awesome that you review Archie stuff here. the comics have been around for 70 years and rarely get any recognition.

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 10:15 a.m. CST

    But scratchmonkey...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...he was right, wasn't he? Reputation aside, Jor-El did predict Krypton's demise and did create a spacecraft that successfully brought his son across the light-years to Earth. Maybe he wasn't Reed Richards, but I think you'd still have to call him a brilliant scientist, and suspect his son is probably smarter than the average Kryptonian.

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 10:15 a.m. CST

    Trazadone

    by Lyzard

    Thanks for the comment. Archie is one of the most stable characters in comic history. He's rarely re-invented, whether that be good or bad. Sure he changes a bit with the time, but only until recently he never aged and married either Betty or Veronica.

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Come to think of it, Jor-El

    by kisskissbangbang

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Come to think of it, Jor-El's rep...

    by kisskissbangbang

    reminds me of Einstein's, whom many physicists complained was great back in the relativistic day, but couldn't accept quantum mechanics and wasted his last years on the Unified Field Theory. If Jor-El hadn't been considered a great scientist at some point, how would he have ever gotten to speak before the Council in the first place? (I assume the Council didn't have a regular Crank Hour each week, where Krypton's greatest crackpots delivered rants for their amusement.)

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 9:22 p.m. CST

    That Archie Cover is Hot

    by MST3KPIMP

  • Jan. 28, 2011, 7:54 a.m. CST

    Bright Lights Big Joen

    by optimous_douche

    If Darkest Night taught us anything it's that you are absolutely correct sir. No, they don't all make constructs.

  • Jan. 30, 2011, 12:35 a.m. CST

    David Cloverfield is right

    by jsarnold513

    Supersmarts is the worst power to possibly give Superman. It makes sense to make him capable of processing info at superspeeds because he moves that fast, and he can't be an idiot and hold a job as a top writer at a major newspaper, but supersmarts makes everything else in the DCU redundant--especially all the Superman/Batman teamups--what does Batman offer in that equation if not the superior intellect? You can always tell a Superman writer is getting lazy when he falls back onto supersmarts as the power, therefore turning him into Deuxexmachinaman. That's one power that needs to be dropped and just totally ignored, just like some of his sillier powers that he sometimes manifested during the Golden and Silver Age. The one chance his opponents have of beating him is by outsmarting him somehow, which is why all of his top villains are supergeniuses. If he's their equal intellectually, then they lose any possible advantage.

  • Jan. 30, 2011, 12:37 a.m. CST

    Reading what I just wrote...

    by jsarnold513

    Wow... so garbled, unfocused, and just plain badly written. Sleep deprivation is not pretty, kids.

  • Feb. 2, 2011, 7:11 a.m. CST

    Reed WILL replace Johnny with a robot...

    by schfooge

    H.E.R.B.I.E.