@@@ AICN COMICS REVIEWS! @@@
|Issue #52||Release Date: 5/4/11||Vol.# 9|
Hey folks, it’s your old pal, Ambush Bug here. Before we get going with our final edition of our ninth year of AICN COMICS and as we move into our tenth anniversary next week, I wanted to toss out this little FLASHPOINT teaser for the upcoming crossover that you all might find veddy, veddy interestink!
We’ll be Roundtabling FLASHPOINT soon, so stay tuned for that. This week, we’ve got too much stuff for one column, so I split it up between the mainstream and indies again. But be sure to swing by the AICN COMICS Indie Roundup after finishing this one. And now on with the reviews!
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: GI JOE #1 / SNAKE-EYES #1/COBRA #1
MARIJUANAMAN HC GN
Advance Review: FLASHPOINT #1
@$$hole 3 in 1: MOON KNIGHT #1
Advance Review: BATMAN & ROBIN: BATMAN MUST DIE HC GN
SECRET SIX #33
Advance Review: FLASH #12
PLANET OF THE APES #1
An Advance Triple Review of COBRA CIVIL WAR!
GI JOE #1In stores today!
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Art: Javier Saltares
SNAKE-EYES #1In stores May 18th!
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Art: Robert Adkins & Agustin Padilla
COBRA #1In stores May 25th!
Writer: Mike Costa
Art: Antonio Fuso
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Every GI JOE series since Larry Hama retired the first Marvel series has ridden the waves of nostalgia first and foremost. Most of the interested readers picked up the book because they bought the toys, watched the cartoons, and read the comics as a kid. So picking up the comic when it was released and rereleased through the years was mainly because of a fondness for the property—it was a way to journey back to simpler, happier times, when getting the sand out of your GI JOE figures’ joints from playing all day in the sandbox was the most stressful thing in your day. Having picked up pretty much every incarnation of GI JOE through the years, I know a lot of it wasn’t up to snuff, but I still bought it because of nostalgia. I also held out for some hope that someday the title would live up to the awesomeness I held it up to as a youth, knowing though that what is awesome in youth sometimes loses that glisten and glimmer as we grow older. When IDW got the GI JOE property, I was again hopeful and yes, nostalgic, so I swiped up the books. What I’ve noticed about IDW’s treatment of the JOE property is that not only do the comics strum those heartstrings of nostalgia, they’re also pretty damn well written too.
I can catch everyone up to speed in four words: Cobra Commander is dead. Though GI Joe isn’t completely aware that COBRA is flailing without a head, they know something’s up because now more than ever, the secret terrorist organization is popping up all over the place. What they don’t know is that the secret council behind COBRA has begun a tournament: the Cobra who kills the most Joes and does the most damage to their organization gets to be the next Cobra Commander. Of course, the opportunistic snakes are at each others’ throat trying to outsmart each other and tally up a lot of Joe lives on their scorecards. And that’s the premise for this new relaunch for all three of IDW’s Joe titles. It’s a fun premise, pitting all of the snakes against each other and against the Joes, but one that in the right hands could be classic.
GI JOE #1 focuses on The Baroness and her team as she plucks off a few Joes with her sniper team. The issue is full of the military jargon that made the GI JOE concept so fun to read as a kid, but the consequences are dire. Sure, some no-name Joes bite the dust and no one big really gets killed, but at least there are serious consequences in this issue. As a lead-in to this big COBRA CIVIL WAR event, it serves its purpose of establishing the status quo, introducing the players, and has enough time for some high action and a lot of intrigue with an infiltration into the Pit that hangs off a good cliff by panel last. Chuck Dixon has been with this series for a while now. He knows the characters and knows how to construct a damn good action sequence. With Javier (GHOST RIDER) Saltares drawing the panels, the story chugs along nicely, with all kind of fun action beats and nods to long time Joe fans without alienating new ones. All in all this was a smart book to lead off the crossover because it shows an intimate battle between a handful of Joes and Cobras that is representational of the battle as a whole.
Next up is SNAKE-EYES #1, where our silent but deadly ninja commando gets his first ever ongoing solo book. Sure, the character is a bit overplayed, but c’mon, Snake is a character rich enough to have his own series if the right writer is behind it. And as evidenced in this issue, SNAKE-EYES does have the right writer in Chuck Dixon. It takes a pretty talented guy to write a comic about someone who doesn’t talk. How does Dixon do this? He surrounds him with chatterboxes. Though this first issue is riddled with crossover fever, there is an awful lot of set up for future plotlines. Someone from Snake-Eyes’ past is vying for top seat at Cobra. A handful of Snake’s students were killed, all left with the same sign marked on them in blood. Snake’s relationship with Scarlett continues to be strained and he’s beginning to team up more with the plucky new Joe hottie, Helix. All of these fun elements in an action packed issue as Snake-Eyes, Helix, Alpine, and Iceberg try to infiltrate an arctic fortress. Again, Dixon shows his knack for action and character, giving Snake-Eyes enough fun characters to bounce off of in order to bring out his own. Plus the action is of the baddest of assedness. Seeing Snake pin a Cobra to the ground with his sword in order to save Helix was so cool. And again, this first issue ends on a high note cliffhanger, literally. I’m really looking forward to Dixon’s take on Snake-Eyes and hope he is cast with some great sub-Joes to work with. And maybe, fingers crossed, we’ll see Kwinn the Eskimo…ooohh, a Bug can dream, can’t he?
Finally we have COBRA #1, a continuation of sorts of the two GI JOE: COBRA series which I found to be the most intriguing and entertaining GI JOE stories in the history of the franchise. GI JOE: COBRA was the Vertigo title of the Joe books, if you will, taking things in a more adult manner and updating even the goofiest of characters in a cool and realistic manner. COBRA #1 is written by Mike Costa from the previous series and GO JOE: COBRA artist Antonio Fuso is along for the ride as well. I think I may be most excited about this new series because of how it has evolved naturally. It essentially is still a book about COBRA and the interworkings of that organization, but it is also is about blurring the lines, mistrust and deceit--all of the cool themes from the best spy stories. COBRA #1 flips the script and without giving away much, it does so in a manner that fits right along with the themes of the first two COBRA series and gives it a new twist that has me itching for the next issue. Of course, this would be the second issue I’m going to have to wait longest for. Just my luck…Costa and Fuso still have that spark that made the first two series so enjoyable and mature. This issue focuses on The Baroness as well, but unlike Dixon’s GI JOE issue, it offers some insight into her character in a way that has become the trend in these COBRA books. With Serpentor, Major Bludd, Tomax, and the Baroness slithering around these pages, you can be sure this is a book I’m going to be feinding for.
So yes, this comic does give me the fix for my nostalgic jones for GI JOE, but it is doing what few other GI JOE comics have done since those early Hama comics—it tells a damn fine and exciting story. Nostalgia and good writing…whodathunk it? Yo Joe!
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 covers to purchase)!
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MARIJUANAMAN HC GNCreator: Ziggy Marley
Writer: Joe Casey
Art: Jim Mahfood
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Taffeta Darling
Social activist Ziggy Marley rolled out his creation, Marjiuanaman, on 4-20-11. The character is based on Ziggy's idea, and represents "Hope of the future". The story was written by Joe Casey and inked by Jim Mahfood; however, it is stressed that Marley was involved in every experience of this over-sized Rasta-influenced graphic novella.
This action-packed hardcover broke the boundaries of my expectations with its illustrious extraterrestrial victor who presents himself to Earth to deliver an important message of hope. “Marijuanaman represents the hope of the future... the hope that we will utilize all of the power that the universe has given us to save our planet," Marley explains.
I geeked out hard to the non-conforming eccentrics of the art, particularly the use of the sound effects paired with the weird gestures and overly expressive facial designs.The designation of blues, greens and black colors splattered with the hot pinks and bright golds make it oh so memorable, so vivid.
This is a story that reggae fanatics who may not indulge deep into the comics realm will enjoy. I'm versed in the musical styling of Bob Marley and it's endearing to see many reminiscences to Bob's music and the Rasta culture in general. It reads and feels like a battle hymn for the legalization of the sweetleaf, but I recommend reading this special blend of reggae culture meets uber comic fun sans reefer if for the first time [only]. Marijuanaman hails from the planet Yelram (an anagram of “Marley”). Yelram‘s people are an advanced, progressive people. Instead of DNA, they have THC. When their supply of Ganja gets diminished, they send Marijuanaman to Earth. Marijuanaman‘s alter ego Sedona is welcomed by a community of progressive, some may say hippie-like people that grow ganja. Greedy extortionists prefer to sell an artificial substitute called Ganjarex instead of allowing the use of natural herb, pitting the peaceful community of Exodus against a violent corporation named Pharma-Con. He is easily my new favorite superhero.
It has a good balance of off-the wall campiness while still relaying Ziggy's implicit message of hope and positivity. I totally suggest this read to anyone looking for something unique and atypical from the muscle -induced uber macho comic that is usually birthed into the mainstream.
Advance Review: In stores today!
FLASHPOINT #1Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inker: Sandra Hope
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewed by Johnny Destructo
So, if you've been reading Geoff Johns' THE FLASH, you already know the cause of FLASHPOINT. I mistakenly assumed that FP #1 would clue in all the new readers who are only picking up the main title, and didn't bother with The Road To FP, so if you're reading these reviews before heading out to your LCS, you may want to remember to pick up FLASH #12 as well since it leads directly into this book.
Johns just jumps right into the story here, with the bookends dealing with Barry and his reaction to the new status quo, and the meat of the story showing us just how different things are with a good portion of the meta community, including Batman, Cyborg, and a cadre of altered yet familiar faces. I would like to say that this book lives up to the scarlet speedster's name and goes at a breakneck pace, but I'll be honest, it kind of grinds to a halt in the middle for an 8 page debate session.
It doesn't feel useless, however, since it serves to introduce us to some of the bigger changes that have been made in this Reverse-Flash reality. Not having a PhD in DC continuity, I do find myself curious as to whether or not some of these changes involve brand new elements or if they come from something I'm already supposed to have heard of. Case-in-point: the "Meta-Vest". What the boogens is that? I'm sure that I'll find out in the upcoming three issue miniseries FLASHPOINT: META-VEST, followed by FLASHPOINT: BUTTERED RYE TOAST. Have I mentioned that there are too many mini-series coming out for this friggin’ thing? But enough about that. What about the art, you ask?
Andy Kubert, part of a long talented family history within comics, has produced here one of his best looking books to date, and with no small thanks due to superstar ink-slinger Sandra Hope and the beautiful colors from Alex Sinclair. This is definitely a top-tier art team and the talent bursts off the page. A quick shout-out to Sinclair specifically for making even the credits on the splash page be effected by the sunlight in the image. It's the little things.
I don't want to say too much here, but if you love AGE OF APOKOLIPS, JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NAIL, EXILES or hell...even SLIDERS, then you'll want to check this one out!
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.
MOON KNIGHT #1Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Alex Maleev
Publisher: Marvel Comics
An @$$Hole 3 in 1 with Johnny Destructo, Irish Rican, and Ambush Bug
IRISH RICAN (IR): Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev are doing MOON KNIGHT. I think this is the first time I've truly been excited to read MOON KNIGHT since Stephen Platt was on the title. Of course I've truly come to trust the duo of Bendis and Maleev so much so that when they announce that 'Bendis and Maleev have joined up to do a monthly CARE BEARS book' I'd be right there every month seeing what kind of garbage the duo would be getting Sunshine Bear into each issue. But I digress: the duo are on MOON KNIGHT, which sees Marc Spector exec producing a television show titled 'Legend of the Khonshu.' Spector is in L.A., a success thanks to the show, and far from Bendis 'Fortune & Glory' territory.
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): See, hearing Bendis and Maleev joining MOON KNIGHT gave me the opposite reaction. I wasn't the biggest fan of DAREDEVIL and I absolutely love MOON KNIGHT as a character (probably my favorite in the Marvel U), so when I heard this team would be tackling Moon Knight, I had a mixed reaction. Yes, it would give one of my favorite characters a chance to get some much-needed spotlight time since Bendis & Maleev have a built in audience, but would the team create something from scratch, ignoring years of continuity or worse yet contradicting the character in order to tell the story they want (which Bendis has been known to do from time to time)?
JOHNNY DESTRUCTO (JD): As for me, I never cared about MK very much at all, I'm not a fan of Maleev's traced photograph style ARTWORK, but I love Bendis as a writer. Very rarely has he let me down. I loved his DAREDEVIL, and his ULT SPIDEY book has consistently been one of the best books on the shelves since its inception. The only thing I find remotely interesting about Moon Knight are his mental problems. They've basically taken Batman and upped his psychosis even more. I don't know much about MK's character history, so I'm ALMOST coming into this series blind. I knew he was Batman-in-white, and that he has a multiple personality disorder or something of the kind. Now that we've all had our Moon Knight audience origin stories, what did you guys think of this first issue? I, for one, closed this book with a feeling of disappointment.
BUG: Having followed the character and knowing quite a bit about psychology itself, having Moon Knight all of a suddenly gain three entirely new personalities and forgetting about Jake Lockley, Marc Spector, and Steven Grant is a bit of a cop out and not really plausible. Had Bendis worked hard to establish the triad of already present personalities and established Moon Knight as a character, I'd be more excited. As it is, the way Bendis is writing it, Moon Knight isn't really present and this is just another Avengers book with Spector's Cap, Spidey, and Wolverine bouncing around in his head. Spector's sort of a non character here.
JD: Ah! Maybe that was the problem I was having. As I was reading it, I remember thinking: isn't this guy supposed to be a little nuts and isn't he supposed to be dealing with an already established set of personalities? But then, I thought that maybe since I tuned out of what was going on with him recently that I might have missed something where maybe all those personalities were merged, a la Peter David's Hulk. For me, another problem was that there was nothing about this character to latch onto. I can't really think of any character traits MK possesses to differentiate him from other characters...besides his psychosis. Other than the "hook", there isn't any reason for me to feel something for him as a character.
IR: I loved the ending of the book. For me it was very much a GOTCHA. The ending plays into Spector's psychosis but I had pushed that to the back of my mind throughout reading MK#1. Moon Knight had a job to do and I was so enthralled with the action/adventure end of it that I totally didn't see the ending coming. It's not a Keyser Soze ending by any means, but it was a great A-HA moment that reminds me why I like Moon Knight so much. Sure he's a Batman knockoff, but the dude is crazy. I mean CRAZY. Thank God he doesn't take his meds.
BUG: Bendis needs this to be a big hit because it's his big return to a solo Marvel hero book and since SPIDER-WOMAN wasn't a big hit, he had to try to catch that lightning in a bottle he had with DAREDEVIL that resonated with the fans. The ending had to have a KA-BLAMMO effect, but I agree, this ending has been done before in FIGHT CLUB. To me, when Bendis writes as an "homage" to material, it kind of falls apart (to put it kindly) and is a complete rip off (to put it bluntly). I honestly liked Bendis' work on the AVENGERS titles because it seemed like he was writing straight up comics using the characters to guide the way and not using another author's work as inspiration to guide him and then he shoehorns the characters in later. The perfect example of the latter was "Decalogue" in DAREDEVIL which Bendis tries way to hard too "homage" a previous material he's seen and found interesting, and then really trying way too hard to make it fit into the character's universe.
JD: I agree that it was a bit of a "gotcha" but it still wasn't enough for me. The journey didn't fully bring me to the destination. I think I was expecting MORE at the ending. There was one thing in particular that made me suspect that something was up. When the Avengers show up and say, "Hey crazy dude, keep an eye on this coast for us", and Moon Knight asks why...and the response is "I don't know, just, you know...keep an eye out". That seemed a bit out of left field. And for me the big reveal was that Spector was crazy was kind of lame. We KNOW he's crazy! Why is this supposed to be a surprise? Shenanigans. I also didn't find the action/adventure end of it as enthralling as you did, and kept waiting for the interesting parts to happen. So when the interesting part came along, and wasn't so interesting, I was kind of bummed.
BUG: But isn't it kind of inaccurate to call Moon Knight a crazier version of Batman, a character best known for being the powerless badass of the DCU, when two of these three new personalities Moon Knight is taking on have powers themselves? I'd think a more believable cadre of personalities would have consisted of Cap, Daredevil, and Punisher. But then again, that would call for Bendis not to write Spidey and Wolverine into every one of his books. I'm expecting a Luke Cage personality to show up soon...
JD: Waaitaminnit. Moon Knight is supposed to have the actual POWERS of these characters in his head? I didn't get that at all. Are you sure? How did I miss THAT?
BUG: No I didn't mean the powers. I meant that the characters the personalities are tied to. Their powers are indicative of their personalities. Spidey, the bouncy and agile jokester. Wolverine the grumpy pantsed berserker. Spidey is animated, bouncy, agile, light-hearted because his Spider Sense and agility allow him to be. Wolverine is a killer and tough, but without his healing factor his reckless temper would have made him long since perished. I'm saying since Moon Knight is powerless, it would be more believable to have him split into powerless personalities. The cover if the series suggests he's aping Taskmaster. I know it's splitting hairs but Punisher, Daredevil, & Cap seem more fitting and might highlight some of Moon Knight's skills, thus highlighting some of his own character, which I agree, we didn't see much of in this issue.
JD: Oh, I see what you're saying. But keep in mind that maybe Spidey, Wolvy and Cap aren't the only ones he'll be "interacting" with. Maybe this is just the tip of the psycho iceberg.
BUG: If I wanted to read that, I'd read the AVENGERS. I want Moon Knight in MOON KNIGHT. Bendis has been guilty of having all of his characters sound the same. Now he's built a scenario where that is valid since they are all residing in Herman's...I mean, Moon Knight's head. What'd you guys think of the art?
JD: WOW. A HERMAN'S HEAD reference?? Bravo, sir. I wonder how many of our talkbackers are old enough to get that? Ok, I mentioned that I don't usually go for Maleev's traced photograph, Photoshop filter style art. But mine eye tells me that sir is actually drawing the stuff differently here, and I like it much better! It feels MUCH, much looser and a bit more dynamic. It still struggles with being a touch static at times--that is, stiff--but for the most part, it's definitely a step up.
BUG: I agree. I don't know if folks are going to flock over for the art, but I have to give it to Alex Maleev since it looks like he is drawing these images himself--or at least using the photo references a little less. For that, I commend him, though his style is pretty loose. A bit like Klaus Jansen.
IR: I guess call me the odd man out but I'm the guy who really dug every moment of the book. It was a great read with great art. I like Maleev's art overall and, yes, here it looks more traditionally drawn rather than his 'traced photograph, Photoshop filter style art'. It moves well. I liked Bendis story a lot. Moon Knight is kick ass and totally nuts. 3 personalities? I think we are about to get a Marc Spector that is getting worse in old age. And again - I fell for everything in this book hook, line, and sinker - I was so absorbed by Moon Knight that every page brought something fresh right up until that last panel. Yes I dig Bendis and Maleev together, but this book floats on its own merits. A thoroughly perfect read.
BUG: Despite my criticisms, I am looking forward to the story. There was some nice action, though it seemed second on Bendis’ list next to the back and forth between two no name crooks. If anything, it will up the spotlight on one of my favorite characters and get folks who have never followed the character before interested in him. I hope Bendis can focus on Marc Spector a bit and less on the Avenger ghosts. It’s always fun seeing Moon Knight go off the deep end, but he’s never needed the help of the Avengers in his books to do that.
Advance Review: In stores this week!
BATMAN & ROBIN: BATMAN & ROBIN MUST DIE DELUXE EDITION HC GNWriter: Grant Morrison
Artists: Frazer Irving and David Finch
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Grant Morrison’s recent run on BATMAN polarized the comic community into equal camps of loving and loathing. Some feel that BATMAN should never be affected by the mystical, which left those people with a sour taste in their mouth for the grand reveal of Dr. Hurt, Thomas Wayne and the mystical Barbatos. Personally, I’ve never had issues with Morrison’s special brand of breaking the status quo with existing titles, but on the other hand I certainly don’t fault purists for their feelings.
Whatever your feelings on the end results, there are certain undeniable truths from this time period that are embodied perfectly in this hardcover collection of Bruce Wayne’s return and subsequent formation of BATMAN INC.
1) Damian Wayne is the greatest new character of the decade and if he keeps his momentum could be the best Robin ever.
2) Frazer Irving’s talent deserves an eternity of blowjobs and ice cream while watching his favorite TV shows.
3) Professor Pyg is more than kosher.
4) Frank Quitely needs to do more comics, damn it, not just covers.
5) Grant Morrison is a master of the single moment and drops more historical easter eggs into each story than the fucking Easter Bunny.
I would have added a sixth undeniable truth above, but the backlash of hate mail I received from Bruephiles across the globe as I was reviewing this series as a monthly says that my truth leaves a sour taste for some. I love Dick as Batman. Even though we’ve seen Dick step into the cowl before, two essential elements were missing. Dick always took the cowl half-heartedly, and honestly who could blame him? Running around with the Titans and banging a hot alien sounds way more appealing than soloing around the filth of Gotham. Also, what was missing in the past was the wonderfully prickish Damian as Robin. The dichotomy between these two is the crux of this series’ success: Damian, the petulant but more than capable pupil, and Dick the forever optimist. Even in the glory days of Bruce and Dick, there was always a clear pecking order. BATMAN AND ROBIN has thrown those rules out the window as both Dick and Damian become accustomed to their new roles in life. Damian is the child neither Dick nor Bruce ever wanted, but he has enriched the Batcave beyond compare and revitalized the series comparable to Tim Drake’s starting issues twenty years ago.
Comprising the last few issues of Morrison’s run on BATMAN AND ROBIN, this is not a book for new readers. Well, let me clarify that. If you are on an old fan of BATMAN and don’t mind being lost on the over arching plot, you will be treated to one of the single greatest confrontations in comics from last year. That is the infamous throw down between the Joker and Robin. Robin brings a crow bar to the fight for poetic justice, but the real poetic justice comes when the Joker once again turns the tables on the boy blunder. A review simply can’t do these pages justice. Each panel is homage to that fateful “Death in the Family” storyline, while still being something new and fresh. This is also one of the first few times the Joker has truly unsnapped his skullcap since THE KILLING JOKE. Frazer Irving also not only paints beautiful solitary moments, he paces this confrontation like he had written the panels himself. An artist’s work is a tough venture on any book, but to bring this level of clarity to Morrison’s insanity is a birthright I once only thought bestowed to Frank Quitely.
The rest of the series is entrenched in equal amounts of lunacy as Batman and Robin attempt to thwart the air-bound addiction virus created by Hurt and disseminated by the second best character to come out of this series, Professor Pyg. Any character that carves people up to the tune of “crazy, sexy, disco” will always have a place in my heart. I can’t wait until he makes a return.
Sadly we lose Irving’s full attention as Bruce comes closer to reaching present day, leaving the final entrance of the BATMAN AND ROBIN issues in this collected edition as a bit of an artistic hodgepodge. I’m never a fan of artist cornucopias, but it becomes especially jarring when each artist is so different in style and tonality. I can let it go with the exception of one page. My big bugaboo is when Bruce appears from the Batcave to confront Hurt in the mansion on the first page of the last issue. It was a big scene from a story perspective and I always let it go because the return was happening across multiple titles. Sadly though, what should have been an epic two-page spread felt lifeless and stilted. The first mistake was choosing to frame this as a mid-shot; you simply don’t get epic feelings from two torsos. Secondly was Bruce’s posturing; he looks like he’s posing to pull out Hurt’s throat instead of just doing it. It’s a small nit, but one I have been waiting months to therapeutically discharge.
The deluxe edition ends with the BATMAN: THE RETURN one shot. This is the true inception of the now infamous BATMAN INC. Bruce gets reacquainted with everyone and says join the INC train or get off. Personally I’m still on the fence about this public decree. Let’s be honest, we’ve all greatly suspended disbelief over the years as far as Batman’s and Superman’s identities were concerned. While Superman will forever be mocked for his glasses disguise, there was always a small part of me that believed in Bruce’s ruse to the outside world. With BATMAN INC, though, I think the kimono has been opened a little too wide. It wasn’t really a problem in this book, but as I read recent issues I watch Gordon have these in-depth conversations about crime forensics with Dick in the new state-of-the-art crime lab donated to the GCPD and I can’t help but wonder how Gordon can’t piece together Dick is Batman, especially as this book does point out, Gordon knows full well that Dick is not Bruce under the cowl.
The bonus material is nice, but nothing earth shattering. What I did appreciate was Morrison and company’s insights into the importance of covers and how each was meticulously planned to coincide with the mood or feel of the book. It’s craftsmanship like this that allows books to transcend from good to great.
In the end, any nits I had with these books are just that--nits. I probably wouldn’t have even revisited these topics if it wasn’t for the fact that I have read these in single issue format three or four times already. As I look at my quote on the back of this collection, ‘the best Bat-book on the shelves,” I still feel this quote holds, especially when looked at in the historical context. One year ago this was far and away the best Bat-book going. Today, I think Scott Snyder’s turn on DETECTIVE is giving Tomasi a run for his money on BATMAN & ROBIN, but in both cases…it’s all about Dick.
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.
JUGHEAD #206Writer: Craig Boldman
Artist: Rex Lindsey
Publisher: Archie Comics
For those who have read any of my past rants…I mean reviews of Archie Comics, you will know that Jughead is my favorite character. Through high school I collected JUGHEAD DOUBLE DIGESTS. So of course when the opportunity to review ARCHIE’S PAL JUGHEAD COMICS #206 presented itself, how could I turn it down? I will admit to having a bit of a bias when it comes to Jughead stories. As I have developed more disdain for the rest of the cast, I currently only ask for the writers to get Jughead’s nature correct to appease me. But do they?
JUGHEAD #206 features three stories: “Information Please”, “ A Breath of Fresh Air” and “Snug as a Jug in a Rug.” The first story follows Ms. Beazley the cafeteria lady as she, after being plunked on the head by a can of pickled chutney, struggles to remember the last secret ingredient to her Fiesta-A-La-Beazley. Sadly, Jughead is the only other living soul who knows the recipe and he views the interrogation as a test of Beazley’s faith in him. “A Breath of Fresh Air” is about Jughead and Mr. Weatherbee as they take extreme measures to escape the stench of Veronica’s new perfume. Finally, “Snug as a Jug in a Rug” deals with Jughead and his newest obsession, the “Snuggly-Wuggly.”
All of the stories are pretty basic and predictable (though the last one based on my description goes off in a completely random direction). My big expectation when it comes to Archie Comics is do they get Jughead correct? By this I mean does the writer understand that he must, above all else, love food and hate work? In this way, two out of the three stories are successful. “Information Please” does exhibit Jughead’s enamored devotion to food and “Snug as a Jug in a Rug” displays his hatred towards physical labor in any form.
However, “A Breath of Fresh Air” is unsuccessful by this definition. Food or work is never mentioned. This story is really about Principal Weatherbee, not Jughead. Our hungry hero merely introduces the problem, but is hardly an active character within the scheme of things.
In the past, especially in the ARCHIE AND FRIENDS #146-147 (the Twilight parodies) , I complained about the artists’ ability to carry their work through to the background characters, leaving some residents of Riverdale without pupils and such. Rex Lindsay finds a way around this, either by having the background characters facing backward or merely having their eyes closed. This may seem like a small change, but when you have read Archie Comics for years like I have, subtle differences are noticeable. I wish Craig Boldman’s writing could have been as good as Rex Lindsay’s artwork, but that is not to say Boldman’s work is bad. There are a few moments and lines that work in context, but most of these come into play in the first story and are not get carried through to the latter.
Out of all the characters in the Archie universe, I find Jughead to be the strongest. When he has dated (yes, for those that haven’t read a Jughead comic in awhile, the crowned clown has dabbled in romance a time or two) he does not cheat like some other titular characters. He does not backstab and rarely is ruled by his emotions, unless you would call hunger an emotion. This is why I believe that the more Archie Comics put Jughead in focus, the more they shall succeed… but that is a fan talking so take it as you will.
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?).
SECRET SIX #33Writer: Gail Simone
Art: J. Califiore
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
Simone, still on her streak with this series, does deliver the inevitable "character introspective" issue. Those issues can be hell at times, and it's nice to see the characters in a familiar situation. SECRET SIX here has problems, but the solo vignettes are extremely good, and make up for a lot.
Writing: (4/5) This storyline has become very intriguing, after not having the best start in the world. The setting itself is a nice change of pace for the team, not just being some deranged fucker again. Seeing the Six put into perspective is refreshing, as they've become this almost unbeatable force. Them against Wonder Woman was a nice time when the Six were reminded of their weaknesses, and this is another good instance.
The debate for power in Hell is a nice touch. Never really commented on these situations or scenes; it's nice to see the more villainous members of the team be tempted heavily to take the devil’s offer. It plays on the animosity and debate growing between the teammates. Deadshot again being the deciding voice is among my favorite touches of Simone's.
The punishment of Catman's father is a mixed bag. While on the one hand it gives closure to Catman and concludes the arc he started a while ago, it raises some problems. It presents the question of whether the whole team will receive closure like this, and that can be distracting. The darkness it gives Blake is good, but as before, it makes him maybe come off as too dark. Yes, his father was a murdering bastard. And being satisfied by his punishment is relatable. But it pushes Blake into a darker area than the gray Catman has comfortably been in.
The small interludes range from great vignettes into the characters, to weak bits. King Shark is comic, but needless at the conclusion of the great Deadshot, Bane, and Jeanette interludes. The scene isn't that relevant, and locks King Shark into the "funny" character, a role that has been done amazingly and with substance by Ragdoll. The psycho holding Scandal's girlfriend hostage only has a page in the book, but it's still not good. It's a low threat compared to the armies of Hell, and while it may have a great conclusion, as it stands, it isn't as interesting.
Art: (5/5) Goddamnit, Calafiore is good. The pacing, the designs, the small character moments. The designs for the demonized Six are just fucking badass. Jeanette and Deadshot just look fucking amazing, and the rest of the team all have dynamic redesigns. But smaller things here and there just look brilliant. The cat doll for Blake’s father, the designs, the mother cat (which looks absolutely ridiculous, but I think it meant to be), everything. No weak points. The action sequences are great looking, fast paced but not overwhelming. Just nothing wrong with this issue on art.
Best Moment: The demonic Six.
Worst Moment: King Shark's Hell. I'm going to dislike this character, I can tell. And I thought he was a good addition a few issues ago.
Overall: (4/5) A solid issue, excels sometimes. But others, falls flat. Anyone not reading this series really needs to, but don't start with this issue.
HERC #2Writers: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Artists: Neil Edwards & Scott Hanna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The last HERCULES series was pretty great. The dynamic between Amadeus Cho and Hercules was awesome (still one of the best duos in the Marvel Universe), the stories were fun and amusing, plus the art was damn good too. I read damn near every issue and only bought a handful (cause I’m dumb). Hercules’ personality is one if the best parts of his comics because, for the most part, he’s a completely ridiculous buffoon with super human powers (until recently) but there’s a sort of charm to him that appeals to me on a juvenile level (and I’m not talking about the Hot Boys). Hercules is like the kid in the back of the class that’s annoying as hell BUT you couldn’t help laugh at everything they do. If you doubt the mighty Hercules’ comic strength, read the crossover with She-Hulk…shit is hilarious. Greg Pak HAS a great angle on Hercules that makes you feel bad for him at times, hate him at others but you always find yourself rooting for him.
After CHAOS WAR, Hercules was depowered and now roams the streets of Brooklyn as a mere mortal BUT he’s got some badass god-given weapons. This was one of the coolest parts of the first issue; each time Herc went to pull out a new weapon there would be a brief cut scene with Ancient Greek art depicting the weapon in action with a description of its abilities. The second issue didn’t have as much of this as I would have liked but hopefully future issues will include it. This book is fun because it’s lighthearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously which in my opinion makes a comic easier to enjoy. This isn’t to say serious books aren’t enjoyable but I feel like sometimes its easier get on board when the subject matter isn’t super heavy handed.
Also the appearance of a certain….aw fuck it he’s on the cover….the new Hobgoblin shows up to wreak havoc and it reminded me of a lot of 80s comics where pretty much any villain could show at any time in any comic and they weren’t necessarily tethered to one specific superhero. I know it still happens to some degree but not as much as it used to. I actually think it helps unite the Marvel Universe better than have having some shoehorned hero team-up. Plus it’s cool to see a hero (especially one like Hercules) deal with a villain they’ve never met before. The fight in this issue is pretty solid and does a great job in capturing the strength of both of these opponents and Hercules shows that while depowered he can still throw down (p.s. I think the new Hobgoblin is badass…he does talk too much though).
I will say the set up for this new HERC series is very similar to the set up in BLACK PANTHER. Depowered hero, new lease on life, job at a local establishment where one of the ladies who works there is into some shady business…that’s where the likeness ends though, it’s a good set up but I couldn’t help noticing the similarities.
The art from Edwards & Hanna is really freakin’ great and the colorist Jesus Aburtov does a fantastic job and should be recognized as such. The art actually looks a lot like Bryan Hitch with the long lean bodies and detailed action sequences. I’m a big fan of the art in these first two issues and I hope this art team stays together on this book, I only say that because it seems like as soon as I’m into an art team somebody else is brought in to do pencils.
Anywho… here are some memorable quotes from this issue that may entice you to open it up, “Hobgoblin. You are a wannabe monster. I’ve spent my entire life slaying real ones,” and “Who is thy daddy now,” As well as “People of Brooklyn, lend me your ears!” I love it!
If you are looking for a comic that makes you smile, slap your head and (at the moment) isn’t super bogged down with crossovers, heavy handed messages and whatever else you complain about in talkbacks (I kid, I kid…kinda), this may be the book for you. The art is really good…I’d even say better than in INCREDIBLE HERCULES. The story is fun and now with Hercules sort of working for &^%*$#^ (in a round about way), things may get interesting pretty quick. This book is fun as hell and looks great.
Advance Review: In stores today!
FLASH #12Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Scott Kolins & Francis Manapul
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo
Well, it's here! The end of an era. Wait…no. That's not right. The end of a ..hiccup? Yeah, that's more appropriate. Geoff John's new FLASH title is already over, after 12 issues (resisting urge to make Flash In The Pan joke) and anyone who has read my reviews can tell you that I constantly call into question the marketing and business decisions of the Big Two. This is another one of those instances. This FLASH on-going series was just a 12 issue maxi-series. It's just so dissappointing...not to mention that it plays havoc on my personal comic collection numbering system! I'm tired of series starting and ending just so they can go back to selling a NEW! ACTION-PACKED! SENSES SHATTERING #1 ISSUE! Only to have it go back to the old numbering system once they decide that it can be a ACTION-PACKED! SENSES SHATTERING #600 ISSUE! or whatever. Disgraceful.
This issue felt kind of cobbled together, art-wise, with the Flash bits drawn by the Sharpie-handed Scott Kolins, and the Barry Allen bits by the subtle and elegant watercolors of Francis Manapul. It's jarring and off-putting. Having several artists work on a single story is usually only effective when there are different points of view for said story, and the art needs to reflect that. Here it just takes me out of the story.
All this isn't to say that the issue is terrible...far from it. It wraps up the “Hot Pursuit” storyline well, if not far too quickly, and sets up FLASHPOINT, which I'm looking forward to. I'm curious to see where this Patty Spivot sub-plot is going, since it can't really be a love triangle, as such, since Barry is far too straight-laced for that, but Johns clearly put her here just in time for FLASHPOINT for a reason. There are great action bits in this issue, and are nicely balanced with the introspective, emotional segments. Geoff Johns is writing the hell out of this book, and I'm trying to stay focused on that, but the damn money-grab aspects of this FLASHPOINT event make it difficult.
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.
PLANET OF THE APES #1Writer: Daryl Gregory
Art: Carlos Magno
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Reviewer: Taffeta Darling
First off, I adore the PLANET OF THE APES movies, all of them and their screwy timelines. I can watch these movies as a marathon in any order and still get a “first time watching” feeling. Naturally I was uber excited when I found out BOOM! Studios released these comics to coincide with the upcoming RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.
Written by Daryl Gregory, this issue takes place before the BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. Gregory does an amazing job relaying the threatening balance between the humans and their coexistence with the Apes, as seen in the final movie. Carlos Magno creates this magnificent opening scene, full paged, with the Lawgiver being gunned down by an unknown bushwhacker. Instantly, I fell in love [I even got goosepimples!] and had the same feeling that the movies bring me.
Being that this is a first issue, and some readers may not be familiar with the movies or characters, the rest of the comic sets the tone with the discrimination between the ape City/State of Mak, and the humans area “Skintown”, while investigating the murder of the Lawgiver. The writing builds this tension by introducing the main characters as childhood pals from the opposite side of the tracks, so to speak. Both Alaya, the ape leader and the human mayor Sullivan, were raised by the now deceased Lawgiver. Gregory wrote this unyielding script that doesn’t end up in text and bubble form all over the pages. I can’t stand when fabulous art gets covered by text.
Magno’s meticulous labor can be seen in his creation of the cities’ blocks, buildings and this sort of polluted economy, the class difference between the two is immediately noticeable. I think his crosshatch work is perfect for this series.
It’s a favorable start to a new series regarding the PLANET OF THE APES world. There’s still some social interpretations inherited from the movies, but the real story here is a good old fashioned murder mystery that threatens the delicate peace between the apes and humans. PLANET OF THE APES #1 is potent writing paired with even more powerful art.
TOTAL RECALL #1
“Robocop”. “The Terminator”. “Total Recall”. These were perhaps the coolest sci-fi action movies my 12-year old brain had ever seen. My DVD of “Total Recall” still sits on my shelves, in it's metal, Mars-shaped tin, just begging me to watch it again. This comic just does an ok job of continuing the story of Quaid/Hauser, his dream woman, vagina-face (the comic doesn't do the favor of reminding us of the character's actual name) and the awesome bag of freak rebels they helped to free. But what comes next? More importantly, 21 years later (sweet jeebus...really that long?) do we even CARE? Well, as it turns out, I guess I don't give a crap. I thought this book would be fun to read and fun to review, but it just made me want to go back and rewatch the original (and to pray to the gods that the remake doesn't happen) than to go forward and read issue #2 when it hits the stands. None of the terrible charm of Ahnold's acting or hilariously quotable one-liners are here and without those things, this comic just doesn't work, sadly. After 21 years, you don't really still need to "getcher ass to mars". - Johnny Destructo
TRON: ORIGINAL MOVIE ADAPTATION TPB
From “Star Trek” to “Photon”, Peter David's no stranger to working with various intellectual properties. His adaptation of the 1982 “Tron” film is pretty cut and dry. If you've seen the film there's nothing really expanded on. If you, like me, are a big Trondork then this collection of the two issue miniseries is for you regardless. Throw on the Greg Land cover, the entire script to issue 1, and a few pages of pencil/inks from Mirco Pierfederici into this graphic novel (released in a smaller size like the TRON: BETRAYAL TPB) and it is well worth it for all you TRON fans out there. And it is always to see Yori back in action. - Irish Rican
THE TATTERED MAN #1
Halloween is the best holiday, and after the scares are over and the department stores start selling pilgrim and turkey decorations, I immediately get sad that the Great Pumpkin's season to reign has ended. I often wish that the creepy Halloween atmosphere would last, and The Tattered Man made it happen! Take the best “Tales From the Crypt” episode you've seen, mix it with DC's RagMan and The Spectre and you get The Tattered Man, and excellent campfire tale that you'll want to read under your covers with only a flashlight to show you the way. - Johnny Destructo
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G