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AICN COMICS REVIEWS KEEPING THE WORLD STRANGE! IRON MAN! FLY! GREEN LANTERN! AN ELEGY FOR AMELIA JOHNSON! CROSSED! SOLAR! & MORE!

 

@@@ AICN COMICS REVIEWS! @@@

Issue #40 Release Date: 2/23/11 Vol.#9

Hey all, Bug here, with what I thought was going to be a short column, but turns out it’s a doozy. This week it looks like we have a boatload of advance reviews, so you folks who constantly complain that we’re reviewing week-old books should please shut your yapper-holes!

Tomorrow, we’ve got the last 7th Annual AICN COMICS @$$ie Awards Column with Optimous Douche & Henry Higgins is My Homeboy’s picks.

But before that, enjoy today’s reviews!


The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: KEEPING THE WORLD STRANGE: A PLANETARY GUIDE
An @$$hole 2 in 1: X—MEN LEGACY #245 &NEW MUTANTS #22
Advance Review: AN ELEGY FOR EMILIA JOHNSON OGN
Advance Review: GREEN LANTERN #63
LENORE #2.2
Advance Review: WULF #1
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #501
Advance Review: FLY #1-3
CROSSED: PSYCHOPATH #1
Advance Review: TAKIO HC GN
DOCTOR SOLAR: MAN OF THE ATOM #5
Advance Review: MISSING LINX #1


Advance Review! In stores in May 2011!

KEEPING THE WORLD STRANGE: A PLANETARY GUIDE Collection of Essays

Editor: Cody Walker
Essayists: Timothy Callahan, Julian Darius, A. David Lewis, Patrick Meaney, Chad Nevett, Ross Payton, Andy Richardson, Peter Sanderson, Caleb Stokes, Kevin Thurman, & Cody Walker
Publisher: Sequart Research & Literacy Organization
Reviewer: Professor Challenger


Planetary is a book that is at once both powerfully dense and wonderfully accessible. Everything is familiar yet new. It can be a gateway for new readers and a reward for old-timers, and this is largely due to the narrative hook: super-hero archaeologists search for meaning into the past.
-- From the Introduction by editor, Cody Walker

KEEPING THE WORLD STRANGE is an excursion into the world of the Warren Ellis and John Cassaday masterpiece PLANETARY. Within this book you will find twelve highly interesting essays dissecting and analyzing various aspects of PLANETARY. Have you ever wondered just exactly how many levels of symbolism are inherent in the “snowflake” imagery that runs thematically and visually through the entire series? How about the three one-shots (crossovers with THE AUTHORITY, BATMAN, and an Elseworlds story): Do they square up with the continuity of the series or not? Do you want to delve more deeply into the mystery of the Fourth Man or maybe you really want to know more about the various monsters that appeared in the comic? All this and more are presented in well-thought out essays that do more than just spew opinion. These essays all carry a scholarly weight, but an easy-going style that make them entertaining to read and, if you are a fan of PLANETARY, you will feel much smarter about the series when you are done with this book. If you never quite grasped what everyone else seemed to love about PLANETARY, then this book might just enlighten you, and pique your curiosity enough to give the series another try.

My reaction? These types of books that hyper-analyze the minutiae of the great science-fiction books or comics series are mental mother's milk for me. I'm the nerd who owned the first edition of the STAR TREK COMPENDIUM, THE DARK SHADOWS COMPENDIUM, THE PRISONER COMPANION, THE TWILIGHT ZONE COMPANION, and more and more. I was a voracious reader and contributor to FARMERPHILE magazine and its spin-off book anthology THE WORLDS OF PHILIP JOSE FARMER. Those, of course, are filled to the brim with scholarly examinations and expansions upon Farmer's “Wold Newton” shared universe concept (itself an inspiration for Ellis in conceptualizing PLANETARY). I've got sitting on my bookshelf here all three Monkeybrain companions for Alan Moore's LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. So, I admit to a predisposition towards liking a book like KEEPING THE WORLD STRANGE. The surprise for me was how well-written it was and how much better the content was than I expected.

The thing about the experience of reading PLANETARY is that it was one type of experience reading it as the individual issues came out. It was a different experience reading it all in one with the ABSOLUTE PLANETARY edition. And now, after reading KEEPING THE WORLD STRANGE, I look forward to re-reading PLANETARY with this book by my side.

Everyone who wrote for this book did an outstanding job at not only critiquing the work, but quite often brought to light aspects of the work that had not occurred to me yet and, therefore, deepened my appreciation for PLANETARY as a whole. The topic choices are diverse and each writer has his or her own voice which not only keeps the book moving along, it thoroughly covers what I consider the comic series of the decade and easily one of the greatest graphic novels ever.

I hope that this book is successful enough to justify a second volume. Highly recommended.

Prof. Challenger is Texas cartoonist and writer, Keith Howell. Check out his website at profchallenger.com for more info, art galleries, and links to his Twitter feed and blog, Intelligent Designs.


X-MEN LEGACY #245
NEW MUTANTS #22

Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: Clay Mann & Steve Kurth
Publisher: Marvel Comics
An @$$Hole 2 in One by Optimous Douche & KletusCasady


KletusCasady: Sooo...ummm...AGE OF X....how do you feel about it?

OPTIMOUS DOUCHE: Simmer down, buckaroo, let me soothe your @$$hole noob fever with a cool compress of structure. So there were two entries last week in Mr. Carey’s “Memento-style” in-continuity, yet out-of-continuity AGE OF X event. Confused? It’s O.K., kids, you’re not alone (simply writing that sentence just caused a black hole to form over my 7th grade English teacher – which I’m glad for since she was a bitch).

Because while we are clearly looking at an alternate universe, where was our “no more mutants” inciting event? Where was the time travel device? Why did humanity’s hatred of mutants swell from vehement disdain to Nazi level fervor overnight? This is a well crafted book with reverence for characters of yore while still setting them on an entirely unique and divergent path, but I still find myself corn-fuddled as all hell on how this fun romp into a Magneto-run universe is going to change the overarching mutant universe. There’s got to be a reason UNCANNY is being kept on the sidelines.

KLETUS: Man, that first sentence is a doozy! I'm not really too concerned whether it's going to change my view of mutants as long as the story is cool. We get some good action, some variance on characterization, and good art, which I think this comic has in spades. I know that's a minimalist view, but I like to keep my expectations low. What I liked about AGE OF X thus far is that it kind of just throws you in the mix and forces you to keep up, which really isn't that hard because the dialog brings you up to speed pretty quick. Also, it's 1/3 of the way over already! I didn't get your 'Memento' reference...I think everything happens in a pretty linear fashion...no?

DOUCHE: Ahhh, the plot might be unfolding in a linear fashion, but not the impetus. Carey has done a wonderful job of briskly yet entreatingly showing us a world where Magneto takes over NY and turns the city into an impenetrable fortress against humanity. He’s also brilliantly laid out the ensuing backlash from humans that comes from fucking with the city that has raped both Spider-Man and Broadway with one musical. But what we haven’t seen is the inciting event; the reasons for these changes are certainly unfolding in a backwards fashion. Why is Scott Summers now Basilisk, how did Rogue become a whisperer for the dead, what the fuck is Storm doing with Namor? All of these questions are being answered as the main plot…the last stand against the humans unfolds. Look, I don't take credit for these epiphanies; it's right there in black and white in Mr. Carey's letters to the readers at the end of each issue. There's a definite reason this series isn't encroaching into the pages of UNCANNY; I have to imagine the inciting event is what will ultimately generate the repercussions on the entire mutant universe (at least it better).

KLETUS: O.K. I see what you mean. I have a few questions of my own like, “What the hell was Kitty Pride trying to take a picture of and who sent her to do so?” “How powerful is Rogue in this story and what did she see to make her...?” “When do we get to see the Force Warriors in action?” “Why is Cyclops still a dick even in an alternate future?” Let's not spoil anything for these folks, but allthese questions are really intriguing to me. When a comic can produce that many interesting questions in two issues, I think it’s safe to say Carey is doing a pretty good job so far. I know there have been a million alternate X-Men futures and none of them seem good for the X-Men. Do you like that approach to the X-Men that their lives are just fucked no matter what? What'd you think of the art?

DOUCHE: The X-Men are forever fucked; it’s part of their charm. We keep going back to this well for the same reason we depress ourselves each year by watching Charlie Brown during the holidays. The kid’s life is a fucking mess with juvenile alopecia, a learning disability that doesn’t allow him to understand adults and he garners zero respect from his peers, yet this exercise in schadenfreude sucks us in every holiday. Humans love misery. I wonder less about the mutants and more of where Marvel’s head is at because I see this going one of two ways: long-time fans like us will stick to our guns because we love X-MEN. New fans, though, I would say this is more impenetrable than the fortress Magneto made out of New York City’s finest structures. Again though, I love Carey and I love the X-MEN. I just want to know the “why.”

The art was phenomenal and most importantly stylistically in-step. One expects the words to flow like hot butter off a Puerto Rican hooker’s ass because you have one man working the magic. Nothing burns me more though when Rogue looks one way in one issue and in the next issue looks like a post-mortem Gary Coleman. This is especially important when readers are imbibing the story in double chunks like last week or for the final trade. What do you got?

KLETUS: You gotta be patient my dear Optimous, the 'why' shall reveal itself in due time. I'm actually at a loss to guess which would like this series more, old fans or new. In a way it's refreshing to see a different take on these X-Men that we know and love, but I can see long time fans scoffing at another bleak future X-men story. New fans that aren't patient may disregard it because the more you know about the X-men, the more interesting the questions are about what's going on, but I think the story is pretty simple to follow. I think if you've been reading X-Men these past few years, you'll probably trust that this mini-event will be as good as the recent X-overs and even if it’s only close, it will still going to be a quality book. I love Clay Mann's art; it reminds me of Oliver Copiel, but a little more fluid and less detailed which probably means he draws a lot faster than Copiel. Both these books look great though...I'm pretty sure there are two different artists Mann (LEGACY) & Kurth (NEW MUTANTS) but I think they did a good job of keeping the art similar enough not to distract the reader. I like Kurth's artwork but Mann is...ummm...the man.


Advance Review! In stores today!

AN ELEGY FOR AMELIA JOHNSON OGN

Writer: Andrew Rostan
Art: Dave Valeza
Publisher: Archaia
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


Though I read about super powered heroes beating the odds against maniacal villains on a daily basis, it’s nice to take a break from all of that and read about a more down to earth problem from time to time. Cancer has affected almost everyone I’ve ever met in one way or another. I’ll bet every soul reading this review can say the same. Everyone knows someone who has either suffered and passed from the Big C, survived the disease, or they’ve had it themselves. I can name three very close relatives (my father included) who have perished from cancer and not a day goes by that the fear of one day being diagnosed is not on my mind. It’s one of those fears we all have, but not one anyone wants to think of. One would think that having had cancer effect me so closely in my life, a story about the disease would not be something I’d want to read, but for me, reading stories of survivors and memoirs of those who have passed have been therapeutic in understanding my own loss. AN ELEGY FOR AMELIA JOHNSON is a tale of forgiveness, relationships, survival, hope, and yes, of loss. It’s also one of the best stories I’ve read in quite some time. It’s one of those books you recommend to those who don’t read comics to show it can be a medium that deserves respect. It can handle tough topics in a mature manner. It can be a true work of fine fiction. That’s what AN ELEGY FOR AMELIA JOHNSON is.

Archaia has been known for publishing groundbreaking material with RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN, AWAKENING, SYNDROME, TUMOR, BERONA’S WAR, and MOUSE GUARD for a while now. AN ELEGY FOR AMELIA JOHNSON is nothing like these books in its subject matter, but everything like these books in the quality of the story, the talent in communicating this story in gorgeous ways, and the sheer power of the story itself.

Archaia has something unique on its hands here. AN ELEGY FOR AMELIA JOHNSON is a story about a young woman dying of cancer who sends two of her closest friends on a mission to send her final words to six people across the country. Writer Rostan takes the tried and true “quest” story and fills it with human heart and emotion. No, there are no dragons or evil masterminds; just two people on a mission for a dying woman and dealing with the loss of a close friend. It doesn’t get more human than that.

Artists Dave Valeza & Kate Kasenow, though cartoonish in style, are able to convey the complex emotions exuded by the story with a few simple lines and shades. It takes quite a talent to do that, but though the characters in AN ELEGY FOR AMELIA may look a bit like they stepped out of the Sunday comics, the emotions on their faces are fathoms deep. There’s something about these simple forms telling this tender story that makes it all the more powerful.

What’s even more impressive is the story behind this book. Writer Andrew Rostan is one of the all-time highest winners of JEOPARDY. Being a huge comics fan, he could have told any story he wanted, but instead of living out his fantasies, he told this selfless tale of forgiveness and honor to help others who may have lost someone they loved to cancer, and more than likely to help himself cope with his own loss. For that, Rostan should be applauded. The fact that this is a fantastic story…well, that’s just a bonus.

AN ELEGY FOR AMELIA JOHNSON will touch your heart and make even the darkest soul feel uplifted and enlightened by this tale of feelings that remind us that despite our love for comics with super powered gods, we are all too, too human. I give AN ELEGY FOR AMELIA JOHNSON my highest recommendation for the story of its making and message the story itself carries.

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!)



Advance Review! In stores today!

GREEN LANTERN #63

Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Ed Benes & Ardian Syaf
Inks: Ed Benes, Rob Hunter & Vicente Cifuentes
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewed by Johnny Destructo


I'm not ready for another Green Lantern crossover just yet. Several times Hal Jordan has been asked "When is the last time you took off that ring?" Even as a die-hard GL fan, this is a question I'm asking myself. I fear we're on the verge of hitting over-saturation levels of the emotional spectrum, but I hope that isn't the case. It's not like I'm angry or just willing myself to get through this. Not quite yet. I still love all that Geoff Johns is doing with the DCU, but if he has any compassion whatsoever for the readers, he'll give us a bit of a reprieve after this War is done. But maybe that's just me being selfish.

Some of my favorite moments in comics are what people dub "filler" issues. The X-Men on vacation, or playing baseball, or a date issue of Spider-Man. Sure, there is usually peril involved in some way, but it isn't a huge universe-threatening crossover event. I think GL could have used an issue or two of that. A breather, if you will. But again, this is something that Johns is obviously building towards otherwise he wouldn't mention it in his own writing. Things are building up for Hal, and it's weighing on him pretty heavily. And things are only getting worse for him in this issue! I won't spoil anything, but we do get a look at the origin of Kronos, the "bad Guardian" AND the beginnings of the Green Lantern rings! While I've never really cared about the Guardians as characters, and don't particularly give a green construct of a rat's ass about Krona, the beginnings of the Green Lantern energy as a weapon has always intrigued me, and we get to see it here in its earliest form. Very cool stuff. I hope Johns expounds on this in up-coming issues. Also finally answered is the WHY of the Lost Sector! WTF happened? We finally get to the bottom of it AND why the Manhunters malfunctioned.

The art gets the job done, but isn't quite what I prefer. It relies too heavily on cross-hatching, and not in a particularly effective way, but more as a crutch. It reminds me of the early Image stuff. It isn't bad by any means, just not what I'd expect for one of DC's biggest titles. I'm probably just sad and lashing out because I miss Ivan Reis' work!

There are a ton of answers in this book and the more I think about it, the more I have to recommend it. I know my first paragraph may have sounded a little harsh, (as well as annoying with the word play, I'm sure) but it's not the content that I'm tired of, it's the non-stop events. Hey Geoff, what say after this War, we let Hal have a bathroom break, eh?

JD can be found hosting the PopTards Podcast, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating for a living, and Booking his Face off over here.

LENORE #2.2

Writer: Roman Dirge
Art: Roman Dirge
Publisher: Titan Magazines
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty


Lenore Lynchfast, “the cute little dead girl” who escaped Heck, is back for her second run as a comic book headliner along with her trusty sidekick, a homicidal vampire named Ragamuffin who’s trapped inside the body of a child’s doll. What do dead kids and vampire dolls do in their spare time? Well in issue 2.2, they’re busy contending with Mr. Gosh, Lenore’s “long-suffering unrequited paramour.” I say contending because while he’s clearly infatuated/obsessed with her, she’s not too keen on him, probably because he has buttons for eyes and looks like an escapee from the ODDWORLD universe before the designers could finish rendering him for the screen. While Lenore initially rebukes Mr. Gosh for his unwelcome advances, she later reconsiders his offer after discovering he’s heir to a cupcake factory that produces, well, yummy cupcakes. And who can blame her for wanting to give it up and get in on the frosty fortune?

I’m not sure how to categorize a comic like LENORE, but then again I don’t know if you can categorize anything Roman Dirge (The Monsters In My Tummy, Something At The Window is Scratching) does because it’s just so bizarre. It’s also kind of charming in its presentation. LENORE really is cute, and the cartoony artwork and short, compact strokes can soften even the most pessimistic heart. Having said that, I’m not entirely sold on the writing. Dirge clearly has the talent and creativity to give readers a bouillabaisse of assorted characters, each more quirky and loveable than the next. Unfortunately, many of their endearing qualities are quickly vanquished by dialogue that’s both anachronistic and awkwardly placed.

For those of you keeping score at home, we have a walking corpse with a blood-sucking sidekick, an overzealous romantic with buttons for eyes and cupcakes for currency. There’s even midget hobos that live in people’s hair and subsist on lice. It all works in a Tim Burton/Willy Wonka-ish sort of way, until Lenore drops one-liners about eating at Sizzler or picking up men on E-Harmony. And FAMILY CIRCUS comic strips? I’m all for sloppy seconds but pop culture has been running a train on Bil Keane for the past ten years and that hole is so bloody and abused you just can’t get any feeling out of it at this point in time. In fact it’s kind of surprising that an artist of Dirge’s eccentricity would lock in such a tired reference.

I will say that it’s not a deal-breaker because LENORE is still a worthy addition to your collection if you enjoy work that transcends the standard cape-and-tights routine like this does. I know a lot of peers start out their review by warning readers that Dirge’s humor “isn’t for everyone,” but that to me sounds like a convenient way to either like it or loathe it without copping to an inability to comprehend it. I think I probably fall somewhere between the two. Would I recommend it? Certainly. LENORE colors outside the lines and provides an entertaining read with characters you won’t soon forget. And cupcakes, don’t forget about the cupcakes.

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.


Advance Review!

WULF #1

Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Nat Jones
Publisher: Atlas
Reviewer: Professor Challenger


“Maybe I should have waited for back up.”
-- Detective Lomax

WULF was an interesting experience for me. I'm old enough to remember the first time a WULF #1 hit the stands. Oddly enough, it was a similar experience to read this one.

I can't quite put it into words, but there was a similar feeling. I liked it. But, then again, I was a fan of the original Atlas Comics as well. So there may be a bit of nostalgia involved. I love Marvel and DC, but I also like seeing alternative approaches that are as professional and sharp as those comics produced by the Big Two. Atlas accomplished that for a short blip of time in the 70s and the new Atlas has kicked off their new line this week with an impressively well-done WULF #1.

WULF #1 is a solid 24 pages of story but contains very little in terms of dialogue. This is a comic in which the narrative is driven by the visual and not voluminous text bubbles overlaying every spare inch. For me, that was part of the charm when reading it. There's something about sword and sorcery topics in comics that lend themselves to large-scale illustration and WULF makes good use of it. There are a number of full-page images and wide-vista shots which give a grand sense of scale to the fantasy world of Wulf.

As a first issue, it does a clear job setting up the series. Wulf is a heroic barbarian from a magical time or dimension who chases the sorcerer villain Sanjon into our modern world where he crosses path with hard-boiled New York City police detective Sam Lomax.

Steve Niles knows how to write horror and he appears to be a good choice to weave this almost Cthulhu-like evil into the modern world with the warrior Wulf chasing it down fearless in the face of death. I liked the almost poetic flow of his words while in the fantasy realm and the shift to the more familiar vernacular when the scene shifts to New York. Artist Nat Jones does a good job with the gore (and there's a fair amount) and fantasy realm of Wulf's world. Jones also handles the more mundane world of Det. Lomax (to the small extent we see him) very well.

A flaw inherent in any first issue of a series is the limited space available to fully present the characters and the premise. WULF suffers from that common flaw. Moving the plot and premise along at such a quick pace means that we readers have barely caught a glimpse of the characters at this point, but what I've seen is intriguing enough to stick around and see where it goes from here.

This is a strange but unique combination of genres (sword & sorcery/police drama/super-hero) that pleased me to read it and has great potential.


INVINCIBLE IRON MAN#501

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Salvador Larroca
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy


Nerd Duel.

It's always interesting to see an established rogues gallery go after another hero. It presents a new dynamic. Sometimes, it works extremely well in bringing out something in the villain that wasn't there before. Other times, it just goes to show why Doctor Octopus never became a world threatening big bad. While the issue is a solid read, it lacks any feeling of sincere threat.

Writing: (3/5) After the big events of the previous story, Tony takes a step back from the usual huge crisis to focus instead on P.R., and eventually Doctor Octopus. Fraction knows how to write Tony Stark and his supporting cast well and each of them comes off strong. Tony in particular in his interview with "Shownight" presents a Tony that it'd be hard not to trust in real life. It's the characters from outside the Iron Man cast that Fraction has some trouble with. Doc Ock proves to be a bit less threatening here then he previously was in SPIDER-MAN. There's a great moment from Iron Man, pointing out how even his big threats don't really stand up to the Avengers. The dynamic between the two, while interesting, is muddled up pretty badly. The two disagreed on principle regarding science and its uses, which is a good motivation for the beginning of a conflict; Octopus (in some of his final days), seeking out one of the numerous people who has annoyed him…not so much. Octopus being petty is a great characterization for him, but there have been other heroes who have more reason for Octopus to go after, even in the scientific community. Doctor Octopus doesn't work on as big of a scale as he needs to be to be a proper threat, which he sadly discovered this issue. He's well written mostly (unlike the brief scene of Electro and Sandman), but he just doesn't come off as a big threat as he should. The issue, especially for taking place right after the insanity of the last few issues, has no real sense of suspense. Of course Pepper isn't going to be hurt seriously by Electro, just as Iron Man really isn't going to save Doctor Octopus. It's noticeable, and it's sad, because the rest of the issue is a solid script by Fraction.

Art: (4/5) Larroca is a solid artist, and again proves to be one of the best choices for IRON MAN. Doctor Octopus looks better here then he has in SPIDER-MAN since his recent change in status. His facial work, while 75% of the time spot on, used in the opening looks...just weird. The flashbacks are mostly well done, but the first one doesn't really make Tony look all too much like Tony. The quick snippets of conflict we see are all ok, but none of it really stands out. But nothing really stands out as bad either. For the most part, the art is rather impressive (the projection of new Asgard especially).

Best Moment: Tony's interview. One of the more natural sounding comic book character "interviews" in recent memory.

Worst Moment: The art in the opening scene.

Overall: (3/5) All of Fraction's quality and Larroca's art isn't enough to save the fact that the threat is almost nonexistent.


Advance Review!

FLY #1

Writer: Raven Gregory
Art: Eric J
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


Raven Gregory has been known to take things along a darker path with his THE GIFT and WONDERLAND stories; here he dabbles for the first time into heroism and of course, it’s a big darker than most four color adventures. FLY is not your typical super hero story in that it is told in a cinematic manner, with big powers, big stunts, and big ideas. Mixing super powers and drugs is always a fun topic to explore. Batman did it with the Venom storyline, Gruenwald did it with Captain America in the eighties, and who can forget the classic GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW story with Speedy and a needle full of narcotics? Here Gregory takes a stab at the theme with a story that reminded me a lot of RISING STARS and maybe MIDNIGHT NATION (two real world style super hero stories I hold to be some of the best).

Issue one starts out with a down on his luck dude named Eddie who finds his car wrapped around a street light…twenty feet off the ground! Though the issue starts out with real world problems, Gregory slowly pulls back the curtain that this is not your typical real world. Turns out Eddie has a super powered ex who is a tad off. Gregory constructs a nice action piece to start this series out with a bang. We then jaunt into the past to find out how Eddie got into this predicament and are introduced to a drug named after the title of the book, FLY.

I can see where this comic is going and I definitely like it. Super powers in a syringe isn’t that distanced from our own reality what with athletes juicing up and Stallone swearing up and down that the Male Growth Hormone he takes to keep his ungodly physique is au natural. With this singular idea of super powers being a drug, I am addicted to this new concept by Gregory.

The art by Eric J is pretty fantastic too. I like how he adjusts his pencil to be simplistic in the past storyline and almost Whilce Portacio-esque in the kinetic, present day fight scenes. The artist does a great job with amping up the dynamism of the panel with skewed angles and deft use of the length of the panel. Eric J seems to know his stuff around building tension and making it pay off with ball-bursting action. A good looking book, this one is.

Fans of Raven Gregory’s THE GIFT will definitely want to check out FLY. It’s got the same dark tone. If your fix on superheroes isn’t being whetted by the Big Two, take a taste of Raven Gregory’s FLY. One dose and you’ll be hooked.


CROSSED: PSYCHOPATH #1

Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Raulo Caceres
Publisher: Avatar Press
Reviewer: KletusCasady


I’m doing this for you. I’m the brave soul that will take on each iteration of CROSSED and report to you my findings…and holy fuck!

At first I was very playful about my feelings for this book and joked around about horse cocks and what not but now…shit…David Lapham has scared me straight. I really can’t even joke about the things in this book without being labeled a psychopath myself…but I don’t care what you think, so I may pepper a few throughout this short review.

Thanks to my best friend, I am very familiar with B-grade, low budget, exploitative, trashy, fucked up movies (SALO, the Ilsa movies, and MERMAID IN A MANHOLE immediately come to mind), so I’m somewhat immune to what the “normal” world considers disgusting and inappropriate. There are a lot of those movies I would defend as having some sort of redeeming value (not sure about SALO) but if someone came up to me and said that this comic was completely out of line, I’d have a hard time arguing…BUT that’s why I’m reading it…it’s completely out of line, its disgusting, it’s really fucked up and I feel bad for liking it…but that also adds to the appeal. Like when my Momma Kletus thought I was asleep and I’d sneak to the TV room to watch Skinemax or TALES FROM THE CRYPT…I knew it was wrong but damn if that didn’t make it more enjoyable.

This series might be on its way to being more fucked up than CROSSED: FAMILY VALUES and that is a feat in and of itself. The art is actually really good but a little different from the clean super detailed styles of the previous artists. This book is basically about a man who was crazy as shit to begin with and how he plans to manipulate a surviving group of people that were willing to help him, for his own devious purposes…oh yeah and the Crossed are still sodomizing people with animal parts.

At first I thought ‘Ennis is wild!’ but it was the fun wild like every one of my friends from Chattanooga, but Lapham is wild as hell…like…fucking crazy wild. If I was in a dark alley and Garth Ennis was one side and David Lapham was on the other…I’d jump into Ennis’s arms, bury my head in his chest, point at David Lapham and whine, “Take me from the bad man”…seriously, that guy scares the shit out of me….but I WILL be reading the rest of this series & CALIGULA when it comes out…


Advance Review! In stores today!

TAKIO HC OGN

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
Publisher: Marvel Icon
Reviewed by Johnny Destructo


You know that trend in recent movies wherein the younger sister is smarter than the adults? “500 Days of Summer”? Or...Hit-Girl from KICK-ASS? Ok, basically Chloe Moretz. She played both of those characters so...yeah. Basically the lead character here is her but a little more excitable. And she's awesome!

This is an all-ages book, which I don't THINK we've seen from Bendis before, but that fella sure is one to stretch his writing muscles and try different things, so I can't say I'm all that surprised. Trapped within are all his usual trademarks: breakneck dialog, realistic characterizations and fun. It just feels like Bendis is having a madcap ROMP with this one.

I like that the little sister is the ballsier one who figures everything out ahead of her older sister. She's the one who recognizes what their powers actually are and how to go about making them work because she doesn't have all the hang-ups and disbeliefs that older people weigh themselves down with. Her enthusiasm is endearing, adorable and totally believable. It's easy to see that Olivia Bendis had a hand in the creation of this.

Oeming's work is pretty perfect for this book, though sometimes the action is difficult to follow. Take the accident that gives them their powers...there's an explosion of electricity, ok. But then...is that blue trail supposed to indicate super speed, or gliding, or leaping to safety, or what? Other than that tiny bit of confusion, his work here is beautiful. He has a way of using a more simple style without losing the details. I also love that his work is so open and cuts down on all the heavy blacks that are commonplace in his Powers work, leaving a lot of play-space for colorist Nick Filardi. He sticks with a bright, airy color pallet that excites my eyebits.

You know that OTHER trend in recent movies wherein they make movies out of EVERYTHING? Well, while I don't think a movie of this would be appropriate, I'm already dying for this to be a cartoon. I would watch this and I would make my nieces and nephews watch this. And they will like it, or I will kill them. I have no regard for human life, so they better like this as-yet non-existent hypothetical cartoon that I'm proposing even though I have no pull anywhere, in anyway.

If you're like me in that you try to get everyone you know to appreciate this medium, and want to ensure the next generation of kids dig comics, putting this graphic novel in their hands is a great start.


DOCTOR SOLAR: MAN OF THE ATOM #5

Writer: Jim Shooter
Artist: Roger Robinson
Publisher: Dark Horse
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Hey, we all know the stories of Shooter…but I don’t give a shit. The guy could be giving my grandmother anal while pouring sugar in my gas tank and I will still ask him to autograph my copy of UNITY 1. 20 years ago Valiant was a saving grace from a market awash in big splash pages, but very little story. The continuity he created within that universe was tighter than the cap on Charlie Sheen’s Abilify prescription. SOLAR, TUROK, and X-O MANOWAR were just some of the titles that encapsulated a world where Shooter could work his megalomaniacal editorial genius without getting fired. These stories were real and reflected a frank honesty about the world around us. Hell, I would dare say these comic books transcended to pure art. Image’s (then, not now…mea culpa) tainted scythe sadly helped slit the throat of this universe with the crossover DEATHMATE, but the indelible impression that was caved into my cerebral cortex from Valiant allowed me to blindly follow Shooter over to Defiant. While not as great as Valiant (it actually tried a little too hard to be Valiant) and a launched in a scheme of buying playing cards to compose the first issues (which was the embodiment of everything wrong with comics at the time) the stories were solid and still better than everything else on the shelves.

Basically when I saw the first issue of Dark Horse’s SOLAR hit the shelves a few months ago, my favorite character from the old Valiant universe, I almost beheaded some geek standing next to me as my arm swung reflexively to grab it.

So was Shooter’s success a sign of the times? Are his best days behind him like so many of his contemporaries? If these first five issues are any indication, Shooter ain’t packing away his pencil any time soon.

Being a fangeezer I didn’t require an eye-dropper fed initiation, which is a good thing because we really didn’t get one until this issue. For all of you hatchlings out there here’s SOLAR in a nutshell—well, actually in a microuniverse. Thematically imagine the nerdiest one of your parent’s friends one day being transformed into a God that can manipulate the very fabric of the universe. Execution-wise imagine peering into every one of this man’s thoughts as he becomes the coolest motherfucker in the universe. Plotting wise, when trying to build a baby sun, things go awry and Solar being the valiant (hehe) dude he is goes in to shut down the manual override (note to scientists, try building manual overrides outside the danger zone for a change…just sayin’). Solar gets sucked into the black-hole created by this experiment and emerges a few days later after reconstructing his form as SOLAR.

The first four issues of this series gave a very cursory overview of these events instead focusing on the residual effects of SOLAR’S experiment gone wrong. Perhaps Shooter was trying to show the goodness of Solar’s soul by pitting him against another nerd infused with similar molecular abilities who was a also a walking Id. Solar seeks to uncover the whys of his predicament while battling a man who keeps fabricating all powerful gods and slutty chicks that will make him sammiches. It was a great four issues, but I truly felt for new readers getting the aftermath of SOLAR’S accident as opposed to seeing the actual accident itself.

Perhaps Shooter could feel my palpable confusion as it echoed through the “Whyohwhyasphere,” because issue five gives a double shot of story goodness, one of which is the first part into the accident that decimated a nuclear research facility, changed a man and the entire world.

But first the main story, with our foil from the first arc firmly planted back in the ordinary, issue five kicks off the other side of the conspiracy that caused SOLAR’S accident in the first place…the eeeevil side. Apparently there is corporate gain in the world of science (I know, shocking) and Lovejoy International wanted a piece of the eternal power promised by Dr. Solar’s baby sun experiment. CEO Tanek Nuro is a figure that oozes a contempt for anything but power out of every word balloon. When told that his tampering with Solar’s experiment could have caused a black hole that would have engulfed the planet, his only reply is “interesting”. When a guy asks his assistant for a new punching bag and it’s a Taiwanese hooker, well you just passed interesting and entered the darkest corner of the human soul. I am thirsting for the showdown that I know is building. Solar’s journey continues to find out just who caused the accident that spawned his rebirth as well as taking time to woo the lady love of his life, even if she doesn’t know it. The second story as promised delves into the moment-by-moment play of Solar’s accident. We see the seeds planted in the first story start to backwards flourish through this recounting. This type of “How I Met Your Mother” story unfolding never gets old for me.

Artist Robinson is a sight to behold for three reasons: one, he makes science look as sexy as Taiwanese hookers. Two, I could feel the heat off the page during the scenes in the reactor. Three he has found a way to capture the old unique Valiant style without outright aping it.

One can hope for a forgotten time; I mean I would love to see a melding of the other Gold Key characters Dark Horse has resurrected recently with SOLAR, but I also know that lightning doesn’t always strike twice. So since I can’t go home again, I will more than gladly settle for this little slice of nostalgia with a cutting edge voice that belongs squarely in the 21st century.

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.

Advance Review! In stores April 2011!

MISSING LINX #1

Writer: Dale Mettam
Art: Courtney Huddleston
Publisher: Viper Comics & 1821 Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


Shrewd readers of AICN HORROR already know I love me some Bigfoot stories.
MISSING LINX not only is a good Bigfoot story. It’s a good Sasquatch story, a good skunk ape story, and a good yeti story. In fact, MISSING LINX has all four types of the world’s missing links on one super team. Writer Dale Mettam and artist Courtney Huddleston have put together a fun American myth story for all ages.

A father and his two children are out for a man-cation in the wilderness. The kids, of course, would rather be anywhere else and are bored without video games and television--that is, until the Missing Linx show up battling beasts of mythology threatening the campers and the rest of the free world. The evil Dr. Bedfellow (who reminds me of the bad guy from AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE) has a half-assed plan to take over the world: he sends monsters of myth to take out a power plant causing a nuclear winter. The only folks standing in their way are the science-minded Skunk Ape, the roguish ice-powered Yeti, the brawl-happy Sasquatch, and the leader of the Missing Linx, Bigfoot. What transpires is the kind of story that I would have loved to have been read to as a kid and one, as a big kid, enjoyed reading too.

Courtney Huddleston does a great job of making the characters fun and the monsters menacing without being too scary. She has a nice cartoony style which makes this story something I’d have loved to see on Saturday morning (back when there used to be cartoons on Saturday mornings, that is).

The tone is light, but never talking down to adults or over kids’ heads. MISSING LINX hits that middle ground where both kids and their parents could enjoy it. MISSING LINX was a refreshing mix of mythology and modern super-heroism. I love the use of different species of Bigfoot and the cool nods to Harryhausen films in this one. If you’re looking for something for all ages, MISSING LINX is one to seek out when it hits stores in April.


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.


Readers Talkback
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  • March 2, 2011, 9:24 a.m. CST

    I love when they mix-n-match heroes and villains.

    by rev_skarekroe

    They just did a collection of Acts of Vengeance, but it's some sort of enormous hardcover collection way outside my price range.

  • March 2, 2011, 10:09 a.m. CST

    Somebody doesn't know what a novel is...

    by Medieval Guy

    Keeping the World Strange is a collection of essays, not a novel. A novel is a book-length work of fiction. (Sorry to be pedantic, but people thinking "novel" means "book" is one of my pet peeves.)

  • March 2, 2011, 10:18 a.m. CST

    An Elegy or a Euelgy?

    by Squashua

    Check the article title, Bugaroonie!

  • March 2, 2011, 10:31 a.m. CST

    Yup. It's not a "Novel"...

    by Prof

    ...and I never called it such in my original document. I blame the Newsarama gremlin that hacks in sometimes and does that kind of stuff to our column on the coding end. :)

  • March 2, 2011, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Ugh, picky, picky...

    by Ambush Bug

    I merely wanted to distinguish the fact that the Planetary book was not a comic book. The correction has been made, you persnickity sods.

  • March 2, 2011, 11:03 a.m. CST

    Age of X

    by maxwell's hammer

    The answer to at least one of the questions you have (what's the deal with Cyclops?) is dealt with in an 'Age of X' one-shot that came out a few weeks ago, which also give some background on the alternate status quo of Logan and the Guthries. It offered a bit of background without spoiling any of the big mysteries, and is worth a read. As to what Marvel is going for with a continuity heavy event that wouldn't appeal to new readers? Both titles in the crossover, 'Legacy' and 'New Mutants' have been pretty continuity heavy books since their inceptions. Their appeal, actually, has been the way they deal with long-forgotten characters and storyline in such interesting ways. I don't think Marvel is too overly concerned with courting new readers with these two books.

  • March 2, 2011, 11:20 a.m. CST

    "Persnickety Sods" is gonna be the new "Wanker"

    by Prof

    har! *you missed it up in the table of contents, btw* -- Persnickety Prof

  • March 2, 2011, 11:36 a.m. CST

    Maxwell

    by optimous_douche

    I get the quite whispers of change that led into this, I actually reviewed the AGE OF X one shot: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/48325#1 But what happened before all that is the true mystery. What stopped Charles Xavier from bringing them all together twenty-five years prior (comic years, not real ones). That I believe CArey is unraveling as the plot moves forward.

  • March 2, 2011, 1:02 p.m. CST

    is crossed one big book? or...

    by Wookie_1995

    do you have to buy issues? because I love messed up stuff

  • March 2, 2011, 1:30 p.m. CST

    I'm glad the Planetary book isn't a novel

    by rev_skarekroe

    Or a book of short stories. Those always suck. See the Hellboy ones.

  • March 2, 2011, 1:49 p.m. CST

    Wookie

    by KLETUS_CASSIDY

    No...it's different series. 2 that are already done (Crossed by Ennis & Crossed: Family Values by David Lapham) and the current one Crossed: Psychopath which is the current one. They should put them in one book but i think for now they'll probably be in separate trades. If you love messed up stuff than you'll probably like all of the above...

  • March 2, 2011, 1:50 p.m. CST

    shit!

    by KLETUS_CASSIDY

    too many typos....

  • March 2, 2011, 3:36 p.m. CST

    Krona

    by Parallaxmjm

    Krona is the renegade Guardian in Green Lantern, not Kronos btw.

  • March 2, 2011, 3:39 p.m. CST

    Kronos is, however,...

    by Prof

    ...the creepy first film by Guillermo del Toro. :)

  • March 2, 2011, 5:19 p.m. CST

    parallaxmjm

    by Poptard_JD

    it's TRUE! i'm a fool, and only realized that AFTER I submitted the review... i'mmmmmdumb. thanks for lookin' out!

  • March 2, 2011, 5:47 p.m. CST

    optimus

    by maxwell's hammer

    I think the thing I like so much about the 'Age of X' story so far is that you don't really need explanations of most of the alternate characterizations. There's no secret key to why Scott and Rogue are who they are in the alternate reality, other that the inciting mystery of why Charles isn't on the board. Scott's intensity is his driving trait in any reality, so throw in a bit of deranged torture, and he's still Scott, just a bit more unhinged than his counterpart. And Rogue hasn't changed at all. The situation just offered up a heretofore unexplored possible use for her power. I didn't need any backstory to immediately understand her role in this world. As soon as "X" called her 'Legacy', all the puzzle pieces fell into place and it seemed kind of obvious. I have no idea, on the other hand, why Namor and Ororo would hook up, other than her thing for royalty (expect when she's in love with cybernetic Native Americans). And none of this, by the way, is a rebuttal to anything you said or intended as explanations for questions I think you're begging to have answered. Just my thoughts on why I really enjoyed those first three issues (including the 1-shot).

  • March 2, 2011, 7:26 p.m. CST

    Max - AGE OF X

    by optimous_douche

    Yes, I totally agree that the characterization is spot on. I guess what I'm really trying to say is that yes, I'm burning to know the purpose behind these changes, and I think that answer is going to be called the conclusion of the story...all good in the hood. Frankly, Carey wouldn't be doing his job if he wasn't inciting these types of discussions.

  • March 2, 2011, 9:27 p.m. CST

    Archaia having a real run

    by nursey

    Their books are extremely well produced and they avoid superheros like the plague while working with top-level mainstream talent. Weird that nobody else is trying that strategy.

  • March 2, 2011, 10:01 p.m. CST

    Age of X - it's the Matrix, right?

    by SteadyUP

    Surely I'm not the only person who sees it. http://tinyurl.com/498spy9

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  • March 3, 2011, 5:27 a.m. CST

    Steadyup

    by optimous_douche

    Good theory --but I really really hope not.

  • March 3, 2011, 7:13 a.m. CST

    http://www.chic-goods.com/

    by chic

    input this URL: ( http://www.chic-goods.com/ ) you can find many cheap and high stuff (jor dan shoes) (NBA NFL NHL MLB jersey) ( lv handbag) (cha nel wallet) (D&G sunglasses) (ed har dy jacket) (UGG boot) WE ACCEPT PYAPAL PAYMENT YOU MUST NOT MISS IT!!! ===== http://www.chic-goods.com/ ===== ===== http://www.chic-goods.com/ =====

  • March 3, 2011, 9:23 a.m. CST

    not the Matrix

    by maxwell's hammer

    I think some hints have been dropped that this might be some Legion-related shenanigans. There's been much ado from Charles about how he's been treated in both "Legacy" and "New Mutants" (where he's become a pretty important supporting character) and those happen to be the two books in the crossover. Then there is the somewhat amusing portrayal of Legion as a hunky mutant rock-star that all the girls slobber over in the alternate universe. Just a theory.

  • March 3, 2011, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Doesn't have to literally be the Matrix

    by SteadyUP

    What I'm saying is, it's not really an alternate reality, just a mass simulation of some sort - technological, psionic, whatever.

  • March 8, 2011, 12:30 a.m. CST

    Courtney Huddleston

    by El Hombre Loco

    Ummm, Court's a guy. http://courtneyhuddleston.com -shrug-

  • March 21, 2011, 7:50 a.m. CST

    The Anti-Life Equation!

    by Arafel

    loneliness + alienation + fear + despair + self-worth ÷ mockery ÷ condemnation ÷ misunderstanding x guilt x shame x failure x judgment n=y where y=hope and n=folly, love=lies, life=death, self=dark side