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AICN COMICS REVIEWS: GRIM GHOST! GODZILLA! WALKING DEAD! XOMBI! Marvel's FEAR ITSELF Prologue! & MORE!!!

 

@@@ AICN COMICS REVIEWS! @@@

Issue #42 Release Date: 3/9/11 Vol.#9

Hey folks, Ambush Bug here with another AICN COMICS. This weekend, I’ve got a troup of @$$Holes charging Chicago’s C2E2 Convention Event at the McCormick Place this Friday through Sunday. If you are there, drop us a line and we’ll try to catch up with you. Hope to see you all there for the comics event of the year (in Chicago, that is!)!!!

And now, on with the reviews!


The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: THE GRIM GHOST #1
THE WALKING DEAD #82
Advance Review: FEAR ITSELF PROLOGUE: BOOK OF THE SKULL #1
Advance Review: XOMBI #1
THE NORTHERN GUARD #2
Advance Review: GODZILLA: KINGDOM OF MONSTERS #1
iZOMBIE: DEAD TO THE WORLD (Vol.1)
Advance Review: PHOENIX #1
Indie Jones presents NINJAS VS ZOMBIES #1


Advance Review! In stores soon!

THE GRIM GHOST #1

Writers: Stephen Susco & Tony Isabella
Artists: Kelley Jones (pencils) & Eric Layton (inks)
Publisher: Atlas Comics
Reviewer: Professor Challenger


“It pleased me to know that the last thing you would see before I hanged you would be your lover dangling from her own hangman's noose!” – Braddock

The second book in the big Atlas Comics relaunch is THE GRIM GHOST. My familiarity with the original 70s version of the character is limited to the house ads that ran in other Atlas comic books. I never came across a copy of the actual series. So, as opposed to WULF and PHOENIX, I approached this relaunch without any prior knowledge of what came before. I vaguely remember an image of a hooded man on a horse. That's about it. I can't address at what points this new series is similar to or veers away from the original concept.

When I first got my hands on the comic, I didn't have time to really read it, so I flipped through it to check out the art. I was pleased to see Kelley Jones listed as the artist. If I want a comic book to evoke a dark mood of mystery and horror, and Bernie Wrightson isn't available, Kelley Jones is the guy I would go to. A skilled artist at utilizing shadow and cinematic angles, but also expressive distortion to great effect. His run on BATMAN with writer, Dough Moench, continues to be one of my favorite runs. This series set in an other-dimensional purgatory, co-existent with ours, called "The Fringe" where lost souls continue their existence after death before moving on to heaven or hell is a perfect match for Jones. The Grim Ghost (Matthew Dunsinane) haunts The Fringe attempting to save those lost souls from coming under the control of the evil Braddock and finding themselves sentenced to eternal torment. The Grim Ghost also appears to be quite mad himself after some 200+ years trapped in The Fringe.

The Grim Ghost and Braddock have a yin-yang conflict that stretches back to their former lives. The Grim Ghost himself was a rogue-ish Highwayman from the Colonial days of America who fell in love with Braddock's wife and she gave her heart to him. Braddock murdered the both of them. Now the brutish Braddock and his band of evil demonic thugs haunt the shadows and alleyways of The Fringe looking for souls to grab. The Grim Ghost is locked in an eternal battle to gain souls for his side first...and apparently to put the beat-down on the taunting Braddock whenever he gets the chance.

This was a well-written first issue and a good set-up for the series. I found this to be a good concept for a character that really isn't just another super-hero, but something a bit more interesting.

Once again, a thoroughly enjoyable issue from the all-new Atlas Comics. Well worth your time and money.

Prof. Challenger was beloved by many, despised by a few, but always lived his life to the fullest. Never did he miss an opportunity to pet a puppy, kiss a pretty girl, or ignore a hobo. He is survived by a long-suffering spouse, 2 confused children, a ridiculously silly dog, and a pompous fat old cat. The things that brought him happiness in this life were his comics, his books, his movies, and string cheese. Had he passed from this plane of existence, he would expect the loss to the world to be severe. As it is, however, he has not passed and has no plans to pass for quite awhile. So visit his website at profchallenger.com and read his ramblings and rantings and offer to pay him for his drawrings. He will show his appreciation with a winning smile and breath that smells like the beauty of angels.


THE WALKING DEAD #82

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy


The More Things Change, the More They Go To Shit…

Kirkman, can you do any wrong? Between INVINCIBLE and THE WALKING DEAD, Kirkman hasn't turned in a bad issue in ages. This month continues the streak with Kirkman offering another intense chapter in the life of Rick. Though that might not be the best description. This issue brings Rick farther then he's ever been, pushing him closer to the line he keeps tip towing.

Writing: (5/5) The desperation is starting to get to the cast and it shows beautifully here. No one is spared, not even the usual center of morality and sanity, Glenn. A fantastic scene early on, Glenn admits to his fear that he's not going to make it out of this one. In other hands it could feel heavy handed and over the top, but Kirkman's dialogue makes it feel real. Glenn is sincerely worried he's going to be among the dead soon, and the sequence is the perfect level of quiet yet panicked tone, as his calm is slowly lost. Juxtaposed is the utter desperation of Morgan, after he was bitten last issue. The question of whether he'll survive his wound hangs heavy and it starts to warp his perception, making him almost eerily calm. The scene also benefits the always beautifully written Carl. His scene with Morgan is heartbreaking, and it's one of the more quiet moments I've read in this series. Carl has quickly become my favorite character, and look no further than the conversation about birthdays. It's one of the most monumentally saddening scenes in recent memory. Followed closely by Morgan’s speech to his son, confusing Carl for him. The issue doesn't advance the walker attack much, but it does push many of the characters into difficult situations and decisions. Most notable among them is Rick, who makes the statement, "They're not our kids", in defense of his plan to abandon most of the cast. It's a departure for the character, but a reasonable evolution for him. Kirkman just turns out another amazing look into to the mind of our cast, and what desperation can do them.

Art: (5/5) Adlard....really, is there anything to say? The faraway shots of our heroes are differing and beautiful. The close ups are brilliant in their realism. The action sequences are breathtaking and tense, and the quiet moments are some of the more moving things I've seen in a while. There's nothing to complain about, no compliments I can give that aren't repeating myself. The art here is just incredible.

Best Moment: Carl. Just...just any moment with Carl.

Worst Moment: Maybe the arc for Spencer taking a surprising turn.

Overall: (5/5) Just splendid.


Advance Review! In stores today!

FEAR ITSELF PROLOGUE: BOOK OF THE SKULL #1

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Scott Eaton (pencils), Mark Morales (inks)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo


I'll be honest, this prologue wasn't written for me. This is written for the people who like the Invaders, Cap, Namor, and the played out storyline of Nazi's delving into the occult. All that stuff is just the shenanigans I slog through in order to get to the current day results, and as far as I'm concerned, this issue could have been summed up in one or two pages at the beginning of the actual Fear Itself storyline. The Red Skull's daughter (Sin) gets the little blue Guardian's Book Of The Black or something and reads about how her daddy summoned something otherworldly that's about to cause the Marvel Universe some ugly. Now on to the story! I would have been just as entertained by that as I was by this issue.

NOW: that's just me. I'm sure there are a squijillion of you out there that are going to eat this up! To you I say get your Om Nom on! There's Baron Zemo! Nazi robots! Basically the beginning scene from the movie HellBoy! Namor being mad at stuff and junk! There is comicy goodness in here for you to enjoy, of that there is no doubt. Sin is a lot of fun to read, with her disgustingly sexy, demented self, running around and shooting at shit. So on and so forth. I just personally don't care.

That being said, I also hope that the mystery behind this isn't as obvious as it seems to me. Here there be spoilers, so whatever you do, if you have eyes, do NOT read ahead.

SPOILERS:
Is it me, or is the thing that was summoned a Frost Giant? Defending what might appear to be a hammer not unlike Thor's Mjolnir, but for, I can only assume, his brother Loki? Makes sense that if Thor has a hammer, his brother might have one as well? I'm not amazingly well-versed in the Thor storylines, so maybe Loki having a hammer isn't supposed to be news to anyone?

SPOILERS OVER.

Well, that's that. I'm just not into this prologue. However, I'm still mildly curious to see where this Fear Itself crossover is heading. Looks like it will be the exact opposite of House Of M. In HoM, all the heroes got exactly what they wanted in a sort of fantasy land. Seems like in Fear Itself, everyone is getting their worst nightmares! And that could be a really interesting story, once it gets going!

Yes, I expect to see this pull quote on the first issue of Fear Itself:
"Could be really interesting!"
- Ainitcoolnews.com.

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.


Advance Review! In stores today!

XOMBI #1

Writer: John Rozum
Artist: Fraser Irving
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


It’s a sad state of affairs when I discover a new writer who isn’t new at all. Being one that finds horror comics a wee bit icky, Rozum’s decade plus of work has slid under my radar.

Shame on me.

Since I haven’t read any of Rozum’s past stuff, I can’t say if his past work is on par with the reality-bending, mind-fuck that is XOMBIE. If it is though, Optimous is going to man-up and get him some Rozum, because I haven’t read a book this intriguingly and engagingly weird since I first dropped into Grant Morrison’s THE INVISIBLES. For those that have read THE INVISIBLES, and will soon have the pleasure of reading XOMBI, you’ll know that “dropped” is a more than appropriate turn of phrase for the experience.

For one of the few times in my life I’m at a loss for words, the last being over ten years ago when Mrs. Douche said she would be my bride (I was really shocked the roofies lasted that long). After reading XOMBI and then rereading XOMBI, I truly have no idea where to start this review. First, I guess we should make clear that this book has nothing to do with Zombies. Those of you that followed this title back when it was a Milestone imprint, already knew that, thank you for your patience as the rest of us get up-to-speed. As of issue one, XOMBI is merely the team moniker of our plucky nanotech wielding protagonist.

It’s difficult to not write this review as a play-by-play of the book…an @$$hole cardinal sin with a penance that involves light bulbs and Bug’s taint, but if a book ever deserved the third grade book report treatment it’s this one. Each page is a whole new door opening on how good comics can be when crafted with unfettered imagination. The events on the opening pages can only be described as hauntingly close-to-home.

Famous works of art (both movies and the shitty boring kind that doesn’t move) suddenly start taking on new forms, mass births of chickens and talking coins are your valets into the Rabbit Hole. Until BAM…you are literally snapped back to reality inside the apartment of comics Harold & Kumar. This off-kilter pacing continues throughout the entire book. And I don’t mean off-kilter as in “Fuck, my axle is coming apart and my car is off-kilter!” No, it’s that off-kilter you get as a kid when you first ride one of those centrifugal forces of death on the Boardwalk or at the state fair. This book induces that same strange pulling sensation in your stomach, like you could fall into it at any moment. Even though it’s rife with concepts like battling nuns, the aforementioned nanotech wielding protagonist and a doll house community that serves as a mystical prison, the moments where we snap back to Xombi’s point-of-view truly make you believe that this is all happening in our world. There’s a wit and charm to Xombi that makes him instantaneously likeable, he’s the “wink and the nod” guy that lets you know he finds this journey just as fucked as we do, but he’s in it so he goes with the psychotropic flow. I won’t ruin the rest of the team’s identity since that’s just one of the many joys of the book is discovering how all of these paranormal feats and paranormal people fit together, but I see a long and deep mythology building for this book already.

Before the TalkBacks explode off of my Morrison reference, know that while Rozum veers into the lunacy of all that comics should be his structure is spot on. There is no half narrative to be continued later in the series, nor any overly flowing streams of word play or references that only an encyclopedic knowledge of comics could understand. Also, even though the book globe trots, this is written as American as apple pie and porn (c’mon what else do we export these days). Just imagine this not as Morrison light, but Morrison Americana…wholly weird and wholly accessible.

Art wise, this is the playground Fraser Irving was meant to build sand castles in. Fucking stupendous…I haven’t been this creeped-out by art since ARKHAM ASYLUM. And unlike AA, in this book I could actually see what everything was…so bonus.

For the life of me I honestly can’t figure out how this didn’t end up on the Vertigo side of Warner’s comic factory. As a Brand Man it leads to me to deduce there’s a chance of Xombi crossing over into some of our favorite spandex titles in the near future. At least I hope the decision was this purposeful, because the DC universe could use this transfusion of homey strangeness to come down from the endorphins of cosmic collapse surging through their publishing veins over the past few years.

I could be huffing delusions of grandeur, but if this book and a few others like it are infused into DC canon, we might be looking at the mark of something totally new for the DC universe. Well at least something slightly new, but certainly wholly different than the now.

While I end this review in futurist conjecture (which could all fall apart with issue 2, I was never certified by Dione Warwick), I think this hackneyed prognosticating speaks volumes about the impact of XOMBI. To move a reader to not only love what’s in front of them, but also makes them ponder all of the possibilities for the future…well that’s the kind of series that turns fans into…zombies.

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.


THE NORTHERN GUARD #2

Writer: Ty Templeton with Sam Agro
Art: David J. Cutler
Publisher: Moonstone Books
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty


Russian villains versus Canadian heroes? Unfortunately that leaves me no one to root for. But that doesn’t mean I’m not shaking my pom-poms for the boys at Moonstone, who once again deliver comic book excellence with the incredibly fluid NORTHERN GUARD #2 (NG2). Jumping in cold is not recommended, even at issue number two, because NG2 unapologetically picks up right where it left off in its debut and there’s a lot to keep track of. Historically I’ve been known to frown on books with such a steep learning cure this early on, but I’m giving Moonstone a pass here because they do a nice job of summarizing what’s already been covered right at the book’s onset. Still, if you have the means, get your hands on issue number one because it dramatically enhances the experience of its successor.

One of the reasons NG2 is getting the Pasty seal of approval is because the gang at Moonstone proves, like they did with the exceptional ROTTEN, that making a great comic book is impossible if you don’t understand what makes comic books great. Sounds simple, no? No. There’s a reason we loved TRANSFORMERS and flushed GO BOTS. NORTHERN GUARD is just what it sounds like, a northern guard who must defend the Canadian border against a hostile takeover from Russian baddies. Think of it as GI JOE, eh, fighting the OKTOBER GUARD, eh, with lots and lots of superpowers. Apparently a naughty Russkie scientist went and tried to wipe out the world’s nukes with a Tesla beam and whoops! – he went and killed off electricity instead. All of it. Well, mostly all of it, as a little strip of land that runs 3,000 miles from Siberia to Long Island still has some juice. Wouldn’t you know it, the people without power can’t just take one for the team, oh no, they want a piece of that electric pie for themselves. And did I mention the Tesla beams also went a mutated a bunch of people real good? Oh yeah, real good.

Of course none of this transcends the comic book genre because as far as this industry is concerned, the story is pretty standard fare. But the real skill here lies not in the creation, but the execution, which is further enhanced by a deep respect for the source material. One thing that always irks me is when I get the impression writers or illustrators are winking at me behind the scenes or even worse, showboating. It’s clear the creative team behind NG2 takes this project very seriously and that gives the entire presentation a old school feel. Not that it’s old fashioned (the story takes place in 2029), but that heroes talk boldly, have square jaws and puff their chests out. Villains are deliciously grotesque, barking evil commands and clenching their fists. Ever notice that? Evil people do a lot of fist-clenching? The scientist (who should have that title revoked after such an epic fail) did not escape the mutations and now operates as the RED ROGUE under a blood-red Haz/Mat suit. Love it.

When all is said and done you have a grade A comic book. Strong writing, high-level illustrations and characters you care about. Sure, it’s a little busy at times, but you can fill my panels up with everything and the kitchen sink as long as it’s coherent and the action is easily discernible. NORTHERN GUARD is that plus a whole lot more. If you ever forgot what it was like to love comic books, pick this one up and get your memory back. An absolute must-read.

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! In stores this week!

GODZILLA: KINGDOM OF MONSTERS #1

Writers: Eric Powell & Tracy Marsh
Art: Phil Hester
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


In light of the recent tragedy in Japan, it may be a bit inappropo to feature the devastation of Tokyo by a rampaging nuclear powered monster, but I couldn’t help but get a bit of a sick feeling in my gut seeing one of my favorite movie monsters skrawking, toppling buildings, and blasting nuclear energy from its face in multiple panels. The echoes of the real life disaster plastered on every TV screen for the last few days really put this story into context and I couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty for enjoying the comic so much, with the real life decimation right in my face.

But we can’t fault IDW or the makers of this book for bad timing. This book was planned months ago and I remembering being psyched when I heard the announcement that Eric THE GOON Powell would be helming this rampaging beast yarn. The story in itself starts out in pretty typical GODZILLA-fashion with the monster rising from the ocean. The government reacts with nuclear warheads when conventional air attacks don’t work, which only powers the beast up more. There’s a bit of humor lobbed in involving some somewhat clever/somewhat hokey wordplay from our President, but for the most part, this issue handled all of the necessaries in order for Powell (and his co-writer Tracy Marsh) to really have fun with the monster with the rest of the series. I trust now that all of the required stuff happened in this issue, Powell will deliver in issue two, given the fun he conveyed in his semi-monthly book THE GOON.

The real reason to buy this book is the fantastic art by Phil Hester. He draws a powerful beast that looks more natural than a guy in a rubber suit, but still more recognizable as the beast of old than the 1998 Emmerich flop. Hester is a master at what he does and it’s evident here. Even in panels where the monster doesn’t have anything in the panel to convey his massive size, Hester’s Godzilla is monumental. Hester also does a nice Wrightson multi-character bleed panel on page 13 that conveys action in a new and exciting manner. Top notch stuff from page one to done.

Bad timing aside, this is a fantastic first issue and I can’t wait to see the fun areas IDW plans to take this character and the rest of the giant monsters in future miniseries. So far it’s off to a great start, although it’s tough not to think of recent events while reading it.

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 buy)!
MUSCLES & FIGHTS VOL.3 & MUSCLES & FRIGHTS VOL.1.
VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS: THE TINGLER #1 and #2(interview, interview, preview, & review).
VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS #20 WITCHFINDER GENERAL(preview, review)
NANNY & HANK miniseries: #1, #2, #3, and #4 (interview, interview, interview, preview, & review, review, in stores now!)
Zenescope’s WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010
THE DEATHSPORT GAMES miniseries: #1, #2, #3, and #4 (review, in stores now!)



iZOMBIE: DEAD TO THE WORLD (Vol.1)

Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Mike Allred
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Despite brains being the primary form of sustenance for the shuffling undead known as zombies, it amazes me how most writers in this genre are lacking that which their subject matter desires most. Since this voodoo myth was Americanized, the genre has shuffled along in sameness and bitter unoriginality. Zombies in the traditional sense are really fucking stupid as villains. How hard is to run away from a decaying corpse that moves slower than a mall-cop on a Segway? Not very, which is why until iZOMBIE came along, I ignored this genre more than MMO players ignore their children.

Of course when people say “zombie” these days the first thing that pops to mind is Robert Kirkman’s apocalyptic WALKING DEAD. WALKING DEAD is a fantastic book, but let’s be perfectly honest with one another. The joy of WALKING DEAD is the human element. Zombies are merely a vehicle to explore how humans would behave once all of our societal boundaries were obliterated.

Now in issue 11, iZOMBIE has spent the past year transforming the zombie myth into a package yet unseen in movies, comics or well…anywhere. It’s a zombie tale with brains, but more importantly one with heart. And it offers a stark examination of just how damn precious our ultimately cursed mortal existence truly is.

iZOMBIE tells the tale of Gwen, an Oregon grave digger that only took the job because it gives her direct access to the sustenance she needs to survive in her undead form…and that would be the aforementioned bbbbrrraaaiiinnssss. Thankfully Gwen never transcends into this slurring trope, since each time she eats a delectable cerebellum she staves off true zombiehood. She’s basically a normal chick that would also be a really cheap date, just give her a tic-tac and you’re good to go. Naturally there’s more to this tale then just Gwen’s palette, because each time she fuels up on a freshly buried body she also absorbs the memories of those she’s eaten, sort of like a psychic hooker without the happy ending.

This first arc of the story starts off with Gwen eating a brain, she discovers in the wisps of memory that come to her that the person she’s eating was in fact…murdered. By the end of the arc she unravels the murder, but the mystery is merely the special sauce on why this book was so good. The meat and potatoes come through the exploration of Gwen’s world that consists of ghosts from the 60s, were-terriers (just roll with it) and smoking hot vampires. The setting of the story is also important. Time and time again the Pacific Northwest is portrayed as a land that wafts the balls-to-the-wall crazy vapors of California and transforms them into its own softer brand of eclectic kookiness. I won’t say iZOMBIE is “Twin Peaks” as I did in my first review of the series, because it honestly never transcends into the pretention of backwards talking midgets filmed with a Vaseline covered lens. But there’s still a vibe that is unique to those states that are kissing Western Canada. It’s a vibe that makes what would be considered absurd in any other place feel right at home in this shrouded yet lush landscape. I’m also a huge fan of how Robinson uses this story to provide a “why” behind this world. There’s a reason for all of these undead creatures, it’s a simplistic enough answer that transcends beyond “it just is,” but never tries to reinvent our known understanding of the universe.

Roberson continues to amaze me as a writer in this book and over in the FABLES universe. His ability to capture the modern female voice made me once believe that Chris was short for Christine. Writers (especially male writers) tend to go two ways with female characters: on one hand they believe this is still the 1970s and that feminine strength can only be found in a woman that acts, thinks, talks and dresses like a man…think Margot Kidder in Superman. On the other hand, most writers (especially in comics) equate femininity with being slutty or ditzy. I don’t blame them as it’s an easy escape hatch. Roberson though, writes the woman of today. A woman not afraid to say I have lady bits and yes they make me a little more emotional than cave men sharing this world, but do not believe for a second this is a sign of weakness.

iZOMBIE will not be for everyone. If balls to the wall action and gore are your cup of tea, I suggest sticking with your old chestnuts. However, if you want a smart character driven piece that explores the precarious nature of life, death and the after-life you need to look no further.


Advance Review! In stores soon!

PHOENIX #1

Writer: Jim Krueger & Brendan Deneen
Artist: Dean Zachary
Publisher: Atlas Comics
Reviewer: Professor Challenger


“What are you doing?! Kill him again!” – Malevolent Alien Captor

It's been like a 1-2-3-Punch! From Atlas Comics the past couple of weeks. Starting with WULF, then THE GRIM GHOST, and now PHOENIX, Atlas is on a solid roll with quality comic books. There's definitely a good retro-feel to the books but with the ramped up pacing, story-arc structure and quality production expected of comics and graphic novels today (including stronger language, graphic violence, and intense storytelling).

I liked WULF and thought it was a good set-up for a first issue. I liked THE GRIM GHOST a little more than WULF and now, I am on board to say PHOENIX is the best of the bunch. WULF is a blend of sword and sorcery with police action, THE GRIM GHOST is a blend of horror and masked-adventurer, but PHOENIX is full-on sci-fi super-hero action.

The original PHOENIX series back in the 70s was very much a product of the times. In a sense, it reminded me of THE SIX MILLION-DOLLAR MAN with aliens. That series centered on an astronaut from Skylab kidnapped by space aliens, who were evil observers of human evolution, and winds up incorporating some of their technology into his flight suit which gives him access to great power. So, of course, the first thing he does is use the power escape from the aliens and save the capital city of Iceland. Yep. Iceland. It was a nice effort of a comic book but while it looked nice, it was dreadfully dull to read. I like the covers though.

This new PHOENIX series is absolutely the opposite of dull though. It is an exciting, fast-paced adventure that is only frustrating in that it ends on a cliffhanger...and that means we have to wait to see what happens next.

Ed Tyler is not an astronaut (at least I don't think so at this point) in this version. He appears to just be a normal guy thrust into an awful situation. While visiting his home town, the entire population was kidnapped by aliens and brought on board their spaceship and killed one-by-one. They are obviously sifting through the people to discover the one-in-a-million human being who can wield the power of these “Phoenix” suits. So, the comic begins with them repeatedly killing Tyler and the suit bringing him back to life. Rather than eventually becoming unable to resurrect, like nearly everyone else in town, apparently, Tyler just seems to get stronger with each resurrection until he finds himself wielding dramatic cosmic power and breaks free from his alien torturers.

We don't know who these aliens are yet, so there's a mystery both as to who they are and what their ultimate purpose is in brutally and dispassionately murdering thousands of people in an attempt to find their “candidate.” Candidate for what is part of the mystery to unfold in the course of the series.

Tyler's reaction to the situation feels real. He is going to be a hero not because of the powers he wields but because he has the character and determination to do what's right and face-down a threat as daunting as these malevolent and much more advanced aliens and their technological superiority.

The artist, Dean Zachary, is a new name to me and a very impressive debut. I really enjoyed his art from start to finish. The art looks like it is reproduced from his expressive and detailed pencil illustrations then painted over it which gives the art a look very similar to the style Eric Powell uses now on THE GOON.

The design of the alien suit that Tyler is bonded to is good. Simplicity in design and believable. It reminds me of some of those 70s Marvel costumes like Capt. Marvel and Capt. Universe. Slick, sleek, and stylish.

The original Atlas Comics attempted to “out-Marvel” Marvel Comics and failed. I think the new Atlas Comics is just trying to make really good, old-fashioned fun, and exciting comic books...and PHOENIX is a great example that proves they are succeeding.


Advance review: Order in previews now!

NINJAS VS ZOMBIES #1

Writer: Thomas Chillemi
Art: Jamie Mertinez & Ruben Rodriguez
Publisher: Azure Press
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


I reviewed NINJAS VS ZOMBIES the movie in a past AICN HORROR column, and I found it to be a low budget, yet highly entertaining independent film. The folks behind the film also have a comic out that features characters from NINJAS VS ZOMBIES and had to give it a mention here in Indie Jones.

Though this comic recreates a lot of the scenes from the film, because the film is a low budgeteer, the action and drama seem to work a lot better on the page. It’s much more dynamic and really highlights the benefits of the unlimited potential of comics over film. Both the comic and the film are a lot of fun, but in the comic, there’re no limitations and it makes the already fun concept a more developed one. Here the action scenes seem all the more effective. The campy dialog is fitting, the tone is fun, and the delivery is good.

I know the makers of this comic really want to make films, and I hope they continue to do so, but from what I’m seeing here, they do a damn fine comic and it would be good to see more of that as well. This issue focuses on Kyle, a down on his luck actor who delivers pizzas and stumbles into a world where he is suddenly given the powers of the ninja and must fight a horde of zombies in order to survive. Writer Thomas Chillemi keeps the dialog crisp and fresh and artists Jamie Martinez and Ruben Rodriguez offer some dynamic panels and art inside of them.

Both the film and the comic are fun, but personally, being a comic guy at heart, I prefer the unlimited potential these guys took full advantage of in NINJAS VS ZOMBIES comic version. Nice stuff.


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

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Readers Talkback
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  • March 16, 2011, 9:21 a.m. CST

    Forever First -- Forever DOOM!

    by V. von Doom

    Greetings peasants!

  • March 16, 2011, 9:25 a.m. CST

    Just started the Walking Dead show on DVD the other day...

    by rev_skarekroe

    ...I must say, so far it falls in the category of "Screen adaptations that are better than the printed version."

  • March 16, 2011, 9:28 a.m. CST

    Douche - Xombi

    by hst666

    was a Milestone book originally. It lasted 17 issues and was all by Rozum then. I liked it because of the similarities to Morrison's Doom Patrol. I was very happy to hear this comic would be returning a few months ago. Glad it sounds like I remember it.

  • March 16, 2011, 9:29 a.m. CST

    walking dead spencer arc

    by bunnyoku

    Is it really any different than rick's? Spencer just isn't sugar coating it

  • March 16, 2011, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Fear Itself

    by Kikstad

    Shows how out of the loop I am. I thought Fear Itself was a comic adaptation of the short lived TV horror anthology! My bad.

  • March 16, 2011, 10:20 a.m. CST

    I'm impressed by all the early reviews

    by kungfuhustler84

    Very much looking forward to the Godzilla comic, although now that the destruction in Japan is real, I too will probably feel guilty while reveling in the King of Monsters' destruction.

  • March 16, 2011, 10:20 a.m. CST

    Actually Xombi ran 21 issues

    by hst666

  • March 16, 2011, 10:59 a.m. CST

    THE WALKING DEAD..

    by MainMan2001

    was a great series for the first 6 books or so but the last few books are completely boring to me. The show is great though.

  • March 16, 2011, 4:01 p.m. CST

    Not sure if I'm a victim of my own skimming

    by hst666

    or whether you updated your article, but I see the Milestone reference now.

  • March 16, 2011, 4:56 p.m. CST

    You Skimmed hst

    by optimous_douche

    We update nothing after posting. But you added extra knowledge, so that's a value-add in my humble opinion. Carry on the good work.

  • March 16, 2011, 9:12 p.m. CST

    Batman Inc

    by Joenathan

    Anybody want to bet how long it'll be before we see Issue 4? Also, Rev... let us know what you think of the Walking Dead show AFTER episode 6... As for Fear Itself. I believe it centers on a Norse God of Fear, not Loki or Frost Giants

  • March 16, 2011, 11:46 p.m. CST

    The Walking Dead TV Show

    by MrMajestic

    I had such high expectations for that show... And at first after the first couple of episodes I thought it might have a shot at being a worthy adaptation of this seminal comic series. I must say especially after Lennie Henry's moving work as that father that Rick meets in his hometown. Then the show started to take a few liberties from the original work, but hey that's cool, I'm not some anal prig. But then the show went all the way to Retard City, and hey he wasn't there to visit he wanted to be mayor or at least an alderman.

  • March 17, 2011, 7:55 a.m. CST

    Aren't there ONLY 6 episodes of Walking Dead?

    by rev_skarekroe

    Season 2 hasn't started yet, right?

  • March 17, 2011, 8:40 a.m. CST

    Zombi...

    by MakNeil

    was an interesting Milestone comic, though what in my view was its downfall (other that DC swallowing Milestone, that is) was that, while John Rozum had some interesting ideas, that the art by Denys Cowan had this 'chicken-scratch' quality to it that, while I cannot call 'bad', was a bit too stylized. Denys Cowan is an artist that requires a really strong colorist, or his work appears too 'sketchy,' which unfortunately was often the case during his run on Question. I don't ask that all artists draw like John Byrne (who I like, but has limitations of his own, like the way all his female characters seems drawn from the same mold, literally. Though in his defense, he does great machine.) but their work has to feel at least complete, which Denys Cowan's doesn't.

  • March 17, 2011, 8:42 a.m. CST

    makneil

    by optimous_douche

    It looks like DC agrees with you. I've loved Irving's stuff over the past year in Batman and the main reason it worked was because the stories were the "trippier" side of Bats. He is truly at home in Xombi. This seems like a marriage made in heaven.

  • March 17, 2011, 9:08 a.m. CST

    Fear Itself

    by irongeezer

    I swore I posted yesterday but it's not here... Oh well. I am one of those squijillions who will be buying this. I love the Invaders and have ever since the mid-70s. Was Invaders Now! # 5 ever released? I can't find it anywhere.

  • March 17, 2011, 1:04 p.m. CST

    Yep, only six

    by Joenathan

    Season 2 starts next Halloween, so they still have time to address and fix the horrid writing of the first season (except for the first 1 and 1/2 episodes)

  • March 17, 2011, 1:13 p.m. CST

    Love Invaders

    by Eddie Hobbs

    Have not visited Marval since Avengers/Invaders. So I gave Book of Skull a shot. Missed the Human Torch and Toro too. But was so happy Nick Fury was not there. I liked the story and I will slowly check on the story "Fear Itself." For the life of me I could not figure out why sea dwellers would want to burn thier bodies.

  • March 18, 2011, 12:33 a.m. CST

    mrmajestic and Lenny Henry.

    by blackflowerX

    mrmajestic I think you ment the amazing Lenny James .... I fucking hate Lenny Henry LOL.

  • March 19, 2011, 5:19 p.m. CST

    ehhh, picked up Grim Ghost

    by deelzbub

    as per your recommendation. Wish I had opened it first to see the artwork. Some of the laziest artwork I have seen in a long time. Lots of talking heads, virtually no interesting page layout. Sad, really, had high hopes i was going to get turned onto a new title. Hadn't even read it yet, but not happy w/ my purchase already. Was told Godzilla not released yet.

  • March 20, 2011, 10:39 a.m. CST

    I Dug XOMBI, Gonna Put It On My Pull-List

    by NeonFrisbee

    Picked it up 'cause I love Irving's artwork, and was happy to find the writing was odd, fun, and cool -- some awesome Morrison-y surreal occult weirdness and psychedelic horror going on there. Never heard of Rozum before, now I'ma seek more of his stuff out. And i'm definitely putting Xombi on my pull list.

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