|Issue #4||Release Date: 5/26/11||Vol.#10|
Hey folks, Ambush Bug here. Let’s start off the column with a fresh little ditty called “Ring Capacity” from our pals Kirby Krackle.
And now on with the reviews!
(Click title to go directly to the review)
XOMBI #3 / DETECTIVE COMICS #877
X-MEN: LEGACY #249
FIGHTING AMERICAN Trade Paperback
A Block of Aarden Comics: FLASH GORDON #2 / COMEBACK KINGS #1 / MINX #1
GLADSTONE’S SCHOOL FOR WORLD CONQUERORS #1
IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA…AGAIN! Vol.1 TPBK
A Block of Atlas Comics: GRIM GHOST #2 / PHOENIX #2 / WULF #2
KILL SHAKESPEARE #11
dot.comics presents RATFIST
XOMBI #3Writer: John Rozum
Art: Frazer Irving
DETECTIVE COMICS #877Writer: Scott Snyder
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
One of the most disturbing things about hearing yesterday’s bombshell that DC will be restarting this fall with all new #1 issues is that little books, which no doubt were not considered (but to be fair, I’m sure the folks making the smaller DC books weren’t considering FLASHPOINT either, in their grand scheme of things) and be quickly swept away under big releases of the same old same old. Sure, DC starting anew is a good way to get new readers, but it’s also a good way for folks who have been looking for an excuse to quit buying so many books to drop an entire line. I wouldn’t want to encourage doing this, but if XOMBI isn’t in the list of #1’s come August when DC hits the reset button, I may seriously consider taking my toys and leaving. Not to say that DC is doing everything wrong right now. Johns is writing well on GREEN LANTERN and FLASH for the most part, while steering the rest of the DCU in an interesting direction. But there are pockets of DC that I wish wouldn’t be swept under the rug and I fear that with the status quo being shaken up and rejiggered for a new generation of youthful hipsters, it’s going to do more harm than good for books like XOMBI and DETECTIVE COMICS—both of which came out last week. Both of which are two of the absolute best books DC has to offer right now.
XOMBI tells the story of a supernatural weirdness magnet named David Kim, who can regenerate from any injury from any nearby organic matter—kind of a supernatural Wolverine with better social skills. Being a weirdness magnet, Kim gets into all sorts of troubles with walking shambling husks made of wasps’ nests, a group of nuns with super powers, and fiery lion monsters made of pure rage. John Rozum has garnered a lot of comparisons to Grant Morrison with this book, which may be accurate in the fact that he comes up with ideas that are pretty “out there” (much like Morrison), but while Morrison vomits out a truckload of crazy ideas mostly to fill word balloons and form some sense of history for new characters, Rozum actually uses those weird things to tell a story. Kooky concept, I know. But while Morrison will forever be a master idea-smith, Rozum is a storyteller with a stable of crazy creations of his own as exemplified by the first three issues of XOMBI. Rozum is establishing David Kim as an unlikely hero with a group of outcasts backing him up and a cadre of monsters poised to attack from all directions. In issue #3, Kim’s regenerative powers are pushed to the limit as insidious forces continue to gain power around him. Rozum has set the stage for a huge battle with a newly regenerated Kim leading the charge.
Over in DETECTIVE, the thot plickens. Writer Scott Snyder has been filling the comic with something we haven’t seen in DETECTIVE COMICS in a while—an actual mystery. Plots layer over subplots which naturally surface in a delicately orchestrated story of Gotham’s history with Gotham’s current protector Dick Grayson in the middle of it all. Scott Snyder’s Gotham City is rich with history. It’s a character in itself and given life by characters who we’ve taken for granted like Commissioner Gordon, who under Snyder’s pen has been the most fascinating take on the character ever. For the last year, Snyder has put Dick through the ringer with foes new and old popping up and attempting to take a bite out of Gotham. Though this issue is the second in Snyder’s second arc on the title, themes are carried throughout such as the GCPD’s reluctance to use the equipment the Wayne Foundation has provided for them, the mystery of Commissioner Gordon’s insane but now sane son, and Dick’s acceptance as the role of Gotham’s new Batman. Much like his AMERICAN VAMPIRE series, Snyder lays little eggs in his story to hatch later on in the narrative. Snyder seems to be the kind of writer who has a master plan and a clear vision of where he’s going…
That is, as long as something doesn’t come along to disrupt it, like say, an all encompassing event which plans to reboot entire series (even one of the longest comic book series ever put to print) back to number one.
Sidebar: I thought ACTION COMICS #900 was a pretty monumental issue and was looking forward to something similar for DETECTIVE when it reached 900. We were going to see the 1000th issue of these two titles in a few years. Now, are we to expect DC won’t take the opportunity to celebrate (i.e. cash in on) issue #1000 of ACTION and DETECTIVE? Not likely. But if we are to believe the DC hype machine, it looks like they have no interest in it.
On top of the fantastic stories in these two books, there are also a pair of artists that have few equal in comics today. Frazer Irving’s unique style and genius gift for color make every issue and every cover of XOMBI an optical adventure. Though his forms are often wispy and ephemeral, he seems to be able to draw just about everything and twist it just enough surreality to allow you to follow, but feel unease in doing so. Perfectly matched with a writer full of original and insane ideas, the pairing of Irving and Rozum is unequalled.
But the art on DETECTIVE COMICS ain’t too shabby either as Jock channels early Frank Miller and Klaus Jansen with a pinch of Bill Seinkiewicz to make a Gotham and a Batman grittier and more visually iconic than twelve Jim Lee’s. Jock takes every page and makes it worthy of a frame, with double page splashes that carry a whole book’s worth of info without feeling cluttered or spaced out. If you’re looking for the best art in comics, these two books have it.
Notice anything about the descriptions of these books. No FLASHPOINT. No crossovers. Just rock solid storytelling and even more adamantine art.
Which is why I fear for the end of these titles come summer’s end. Here’s hoping DETECTIVE COMICS and ZOMBI survive the latest desperate grab for new readership. They are two books that don’t deserve to be disrupted by what’s going on in the comics around them on the shelves. They don’t need to be concerned because they are the best of the best. Hopefully editorial mandate won’t disrupt DETECTIVE’s delicately constructed mystery or forget about fun but obscure characters like XOMBI in the upcoming reboot. At the very least, I hope the disruption only leads to new number ones for both.
Here’s hoping DC’s new decision doesn’t hurt the best books they put out today. Check out DETECTIVE COMICS and XOMBI so they survive the coming avalanche of #1 reboots.
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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X-MEN: LEGACY #249Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
For the first time in a looooonnnggg time, I audibly screamed at a book, and I believe any longtime X-fan that possesses a modicum of romance or even a soul will do likewise at the end of this book.
X-MEN: LEGACY may be subtitled with the “Age of X Aftermath” moniker, but in my opinion this is a clear beginning, the genesis of the next blood feud on the ironically named mutant island of Utopia.
Carey, doing what he does best, starts the book off by leveraging his big brain to once again infuse real-world happenings into the canon of comic lore. Specifically, we’re talking the Holocaust. Knowing this it’s easy to figure out who the issue focuses on, the master of magnetism and former Auschwitz resident himself, Magneto. But, what’s this? Why is Magneto carrying a Rogue-shaped backpack on the cover? Well, that’s why I ended up screaming from the depths of my man-cave. Read on, but be warned you are entering spoiler country.
All of the X-Men have been perpetually mind-fucked by Legion’s recent alternate reality war game simulation during “Age of X.” For those that bemoaned (including this reviewer), “this is an alternate reality, it didn’t change shit like the marketing promised,” now is the time when Marvel can truly say “in your face, fanboy naysayers”, because while nothing changed in the literal sense, the time spent in Age of X made all of the X-Men realize what they have been suppressing over the years. All of the hidden desires, passions and fury that remain controlled by their governing ids become much harder to ignore when fully manifested in flesh and blood.
“Am I bad or did Stan Lee just make me this way?” Magneto’s lament is as true today as it was when Claremont and others tried to find redemption in the soul of Magneto close to thirty years ago. Yet somehow, Carey makes this soul-searching feel new and fresh. The “new” Magneto wants to be good, but there is still this inexorable draw to crush anyone who stands against him. He takes Rogue to the Holocaust museum to show the work of a particular Auschwitz butcher, who Magneto made take his own life in a verbal tete-a-tete I won’t spoil here. Young Magneto was simply an evil little bastard. But the question becomes, why? Magneto takes the stance that our circumstances define who we are, not the other way around. It’s a philosophical debate he has had for years with Professor X, but without Chuck in the picture you actually find yourself sympathizing with the polarized one. None of this is surprising, but again Carey breaks Magneto down to his basic elements, and it has been a long time since we have seen Magneto question the nature of his “old” self.
The real surprise in this issue and the reason for my exclamations of “whore” when I got to the final page was Rogue. During the “Age of X” time, Rogue and Magneto were close…real close. Now that everyone has snapped back to reality, Rogue in particular must grapple with the fact that someone occupied a place in her heart other than Gambit. We’ve seen these brief wisps of a developing relationship in the past. Remember back when Magneto was able to control Rogue’s powers? Personally I saw a hint of a possible May/December romance budding, but the writers and editors never carried it to fruition. Carey must have seen the same thing, because no matter how repulsed Rogue is by Magneto, yes folks, they end up getting busy. Try not to think about the old balls, think instead to those times we have all had where we end up with someone we are as equally drawn to as repulsed by.
I said earlier that this issue is an indication of things to come and a possible blood feud on Utopia. Please understand this is mere speculation on my part. The way the X-books have been going, though, you can see clear moral boundaries being formed in this tiny mutant ecosystem. Legion, Rogue, Frenzy, Gambit…we’ll call them the damaged goods kids. They are all working through their problems on Utopia, itching to become something bigger than who they are today. Over in UNCANNY, the X-Men are still fighting their galactic battles and keeping global peace as best as they can. Then you have X-Force--I fear to utter their exploits lest I want a SNIKT to the back of the head. These three books are all playing on different levels, and as we have seen with the X-Men in the past, that can only be sustained for so long.
I was ready to bail on LEGACY after AGE OF X, since I wasn’t the biggest fan of the book beforehand. In the past, though, when X-MEN tagged itself LEGACY it was simply too detached from the rest of the X-verse for my liking. I want these books to stand alone, but at some point they must acknowledge the larger mutant and Marvel universe. LEGACY seems to have learned that lesson and is keeping me utterly enthralled with its unique differentiators and respect for its place in the grand scheme of things.
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.
FIGHTING AMERICAN Trade PaperbackWriter: Joe Simon
Illustrator: Jack Kirby
Publisher: Titan Books
Sometime in the fifties Timely Comics (now known as Marvel Comics) decided they were going to revive Captain America about a decade before the Avengers discovered him floating in a block of ice. In response the two creators of America’s forgotten Sentinel of Liberty decided, knowing that they weren’t going to be included in the planning of the re-launch, to try another go at it and create another soldier of freedom.
Hence we have the FIGHTING AMERICAN and this collection. It’s obvious that the FIGHTING AMERICAN never reached the heights that his predecessor did and by reading this trade I can see why. It’s not that the stories here are any worse than any of the Golden Age Cap stories I’ve read but there’s an obvious sort of copycat quality to the FIGHTING AMERICAN that I couldn’t escape while reading the book. So much of the feel of FIGHTING AMERICAN’s stories are an obvious response to what Captain America was that it’s hard not to think of Cap when reading the book. Plus, it doesn’t help that FA was born during the paranoid patriotism of the Red Scare instead of the justifiably patriotic World War Two era. It’s all of this stuff that, in my mind, makes the FIGHTING AMERICAN seem a bit less than the original he was based off of.
But all of these shortcomings don’t affect how terrifically entertaining a comic Simon and Kirby were able to put out despite the central character’s built in weaknesses. The FIGHTING AMERICAN is full of what you’d expect from a Jack Kirby co-creation--crazed action, wacked-out villains, and simple yet forthright superheroes. It’s all here and it’s a great read, especially if you’re as appreciative of Jack Kirby’s work as I am. It’s obvious that Kirby was a humongous talent and the stories here add credence to the theory that it was his genius that was responsible for a lot of the magic behind the early Marvel Universe. Kirby’s talent is evident on every page, as usual, and there’s nothing new that I can say here about Kirby that hasn’t been said before about the man.
I don’t want to leave out any praise for Joe Simon, however. While I’m sure that Kirby was a big influence on much of the stuff going on in this book it’s obvious that Simon was a mad genius himself. Some of the ideas and characters in here are so out of the loop even for comic books that only someone with a crazed intellect could come up with them. Just look at some of the villains and supporting characters in the book: The League of Handsome Devils, Doubleheader (a two headed mobster), Square Hair Malloy, Jiseppi the Jungle Boy, and the list goes on and on and on. The FIGHTING AMERICAN is full of harebrained and goofily crazed ideas that kept this reader on his toes and left a smile on his face for the duration of the book. It’s the kind of stuff superhero books were made for and every page is a joy to read.
Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. He's been an @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at www.kristianhorn.com and check out his blog at www.parttimefanboy.com.
Prof Challenger Reviews a Block of ARRDEN Comics!
FLASH GORDON: INVASION OF THE RED SWORD #2(PART 2: THE MISSION)Writer: Brendan Deneen
Artist: Eduardo Garcia
Publisher: Ardden Entertainment
Reviewer: Professor Challenger
“I guess I should be surprised that you're still alive, Ming, but I'm not.” – Flash Gordon
A good follow-up to the first issue in this newest miniseries. Artist Eduardo Garcia settles in quite nicely on the art chores as we pick up on the cliffhangers of the first issue. The plot complication that scrambled the translators on Mongo so that the various races and tribes could no longer communicate is quickly resolved and Ming moves to the forefront.
I continue to really enjoy the pacing and storytelling in Arrden's FLASH GORDON comics. Vultan is developing into a favorite and plot points to pick up on are well laid regarding his relationship with his daughter. Likewise, Dale is proving herself to be a strong, attractive character fully justifying the attentions of both Ming and Flash. That I'm inwardly rooting for Ming is a sign of a well-developed villain.
This issue adds more depth to Ming's background and makes the reader almost clamor for an unlikely partnership between Ming and Flash against a common enemy – the humans who are invading the planet Mongo.
I look forward to what comes next and recommend this series and the trades of Arrden's previous FLASH GORDON series.
THE COMEBACK KINGS #1Writers: Matt Sullivan & Gabe Guarente
Artist: Ethan Young
Publisher: Ardden Entertainment
Reviewer: Professor Challenger
“The fame justifies the means!” – Jean-Luc Lambert (before blowing himself up live on television)
Okay. Not so hip to this one. Billed as a “dark satire.” I get the “dark” part, but I'm not feeling the “satire” part. It seems right now like just a “gag” project--the type of thing that a couple of guys might come up with while sitting around a beer tower at a hotel bar after hours at Comicon.
Anybody else seen “Bubba Ho Tep”, where an aged Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy still live and have to team up to take down a resurrected evil Egyptian mummy? It's good stuff. Played straight, but a very dark comedy/horror flick that (I think) is growing in cult status. Well, this is sort of spiritually in the same ballpark but instead of Elvis and J.F.K, we have Elvis and Bruce Lee and Jim Morrison and Andy Kaufman and Tupac Shakur.
It's Project Resurrection and an older Bruce Lee has to come out of hiding, for some inexplicable reason, and “get the band back together.” In this case, the “band” is the above odd grouping of dead celebrities who, in this comic, faked their deaths.
I wanted to like it. The art is pretty good, though very inconsistent in the look of the characters. It was almost like the artist couldn't decide from page to page whether our “celebrities” were supposed to look the way they looked when they “died” or actually age them by the decades that they should be. Plus the appearance of Tupac seemed especially out of place and the interaction between him and Bruce Lee was just odd and implied some kind of a past relationship that didn't quite gel with the timeline as best as I could tell.
Now, if it had been played a bit broader with a go-for-broke style comedy (like, say, BLACK DYNAMITE) I could probably appreciate it more. However, I think I could tell when something was intended to be funny...but it wasn't working for me. And especially, I didn't see the “satire.” What exactly is being commented on here? I get that it's a funny thought that these (and the big “surprise” not-dead celebrity) are actually out there functioning like a super-secret A-Team of dead A-List Celebrities (though Kaufman would be the oddball there). But beyond that, I lost interest about halfway through.
I give it a “B” for effort, but a “C-” in the end.
MINX #1Writer/Artist: Andrea Grant
Publisher: Ardden Entertainment
Reviewer: Professor Challenger
“Where do humans go when they dream? Does the soul leave the body and wander in another dimension? There is an urban legend which claims if you die in DREAMTIME you'll not awaken in real life. THIS IS TRUE. It's the reason the gods never dare to slumber sound.” – Andrea Grant
This comic intrigues me. I find Andrea Grant's art very good; in fact, I am an instant fan! And I love that she is aspiring to touch something deeper, more primal, and archetypal than your average comic book. That intrigues me.
Apparently Grant is a member of a Native American tribe and she is building this comic book around a certain spiritual worldview that believes and accepts that there is a dream dimension that we live in during our sleep. In our waking hours, we lumber along through the world of the mundane, but when we sleep we enter a world of fantastic possibilities and adventure but also horrific dangers.
Minx is the story of a woman who seems able to blur the dimensional lines and is attacked by a creature from the dream dimension and nearly killed. Instead, she spends the next seven years in a coma. In the comic, she closes her eyes in one panel and opens them in the next and it is seven years later.
Her struggle to adjust to the world and her relationships when seven years have passed for everyone else but merely moments have passed for her make a good set-up for her story. I may be inferring too much, but I get the impression based on the way this issue wrapped up, that she has quite a lot of history built up in the dream dimension called “Dreamtime” from the last seven years asleep in a coma and it is not going to be an easy transition back to the world of the mundane.
Her story is one of two worlds and I want to read more of that story. Check it out and see if you agree.
DUCKTALES #1Writer: Warren Spector
Artist: Leonel Castellani, Jose Massaroli, & Magic Eye Studios
Publisher: BOOM! Studios’ Kaboom!
As much as I loved “Darkwing Duck” as a kid, I remember more fondly “DuckTales”. I must have watched “DuckTales: The Movie – Treasure of the Lost Lamp” over a dozen times. Even now I can remember the “DuckTales” episode “The Curse of Castle McDuck.” So when I heard that Boom Studios (or Kaboom! as printed on the comic) was following up their highly popular DARKWING DUCK series with a DUCKTALES comic, I felt like I had dived into a pool of gold coins. Sadly, it was a bunch of fool’s gold. DUCKTALES #1 did not capture my attention as DARKWING DUCK #5 (I started on the second story arc) did. However, because “Rightful Owners Part 1: Many Happy Returns” is not a complete story, there is time for those fowl birds to win me back.
DUCKTALES #1 starts off with Scrooge McDuck parachuting in on a new exhibit of his. John D. Rockerduck happens to be in attendance as well, as the museum puts on display many of the golden objects Scrooge has picked up on his many adventures. But Rockerduck has plans for Scrooge’s treasure trove. He induces McDuck to return all of the items to their rightful owners. But will McDuck survive his trip around the world or is Rockerduck’s plan even more malevolent?
I cannot put my finger on why DUCKTALES did not resemble the TV show’s artwork as much as the DARKWING DUCK series did. Maybe the colors were not bold enough or the drawings were not as exact. I lean towards the latter, but I would hate to say that the artwork is bad just on the basis of fidelity. The style is consistent and remains close enough to the character design of the late 80s television show to be satisfactory.
I felt like the first few issues of DARKWING DUCK I read were a bit wordy and had some flat jokes. These problems are found again in DUCKTALES #1, but even to a greater degree. I would say a majority of the jokes miss their mark and that the comic is overly wordy, filling the pages with numerous speech bubbles that take up quite a bit of space on the page.
There aren’t as many pop culture references as appeared in DARKWING DUCK, though there is a play on the Dungeons & Dragons game. This is entitled Ducks & Danger and is played by the four young ducklings. Speaking of Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webbigail, their voices are all spot on to their television counterparts. In fact, though they speak too much, all of the characters are consistent in how they speak in relation to the television show.
What was lacking from this issue was conflict. The complications of the story came in too late and even by the end there wasn’t a big enough cliffhanger to leave the reader on the edge of their seats. For those that have not seen the television show you may miss out a bit. All of the museum artifacts are references to episodes on the show. However, there are some new characters and it is nice to see that the writer is pulling in some originality along with referencing the source material. I’m not going to give up on DUCKTALES just yet, because hopefully it will soon reach the par of the DARKWING DUCK comics.
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?).
GLADSTONE’S SCHOOL FOR WORLD CONQUERORS #1Writer: Mark Andrew Smith
Art: Armand Villavert
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
B+ Really Doesn't Do It Justice, I agree…
Every once in a while, I indulge in the non Marvel/DC comic. All too rarely, I know. And I really do lose a lot of "self-respecting-comic-nerd" points for it. But it's mostly just because I can never truly justify it. For every good non-big company title I read, I end up buying three that I feel waste perfectly great potential (and on occasion, just spend my day reading shit). But picking up GLADSTONE’S SCHOOL FOR WORLD CONQUERORS, a new Image title, might be one of the best choices I've made in a while. Fun, funny, inventive, and memorable, it's one of my favorite reads in ages.
Writing: (5/5) While this concept has been done before, I've never seen a more interesting and broad take on it. Smith is simply brilliant with this issue, writing a great "all ages" book. When you see those words, fear usually follows of a simplified, basic story. But it never panders-or oversteps, for that matter. This is the kind of writing you want to read when you're a kid--creative and accessible enough to get, but still having some honest substance. This book would have been my favorite read as a kid, but it holds up under an adult reading of it. The language and dialogue flows fast, but with purpose. There's never a wasted line, or something that feels off. Each character has a distinct voice and personality, none of them really stealing the show (well...maybe the Skull Brothers).
The origin of the school is actually one of the most inventive origin stories I've read in a long time. Focusing on the shite life of some random C-list bastard, and his epiphany of "those who can't do, teach" is a great idea. His fate is one of the coolest things I've read in a long time, and it's been a rather good year.
Kid Nefarious and Martian Jones fulfill the typical lead roles, but they don't take center stage. They're used just enough that they're probably the two big characters, but never once overcrowd or distract from the supporting cast. Mummy Girl is a fun character to read, as is her friend Ghost Girl. All four fulfill atypical "student" story roles, but they have enough charm to them to carry the clichés. But the book is at its best when it ventures away from the typical. Like the Skull Brothers. God the Skull Brothers are cool. Their dialogue, their actions, they are just two of the most interesting characters I've seen in a while. Even the adults (or what little we see of them) are a good indicator. Gladstone is a great little look at a C-list mook, and Ironside is a very cool design and intimidating figure, with some nicely added humour in there. It makes the baddie of other stories a relatable figure and teacher here.
Mr. Greensleeves takes a traditional power set and cliché character and breathes some new life into it. He stands out as an entertaining character, a happily retired villain. It's fresh, and it's great.
Also, this is a silly little comic that features a William Blake poem. I love this thing.
Art: (5/5) Villavert and Carrasco are perfect choices for this story, both being simply incredible on their respective art duties.
Remember when I said the Skull Brothers were cool? FUCK, they are cool. The design of them is silly in an endearing way, while also remaining absolutely terrifying. They go from adorable to scary in a heartbeat, something that should be harder for to convey. But it works so well here. The entire fight scene on the school grounds is engaging, each part of being better than the last. It's paced and fought at a great speed, and is neither too long or too short. It gives you a real idea of what these characters can do without going too overboard.
The art has a distinctive, colorful look to it, which sets it apart from the pack. Each page practically jumps up at you, brilliantly colored and paced. The layout of each page is fantastic, distinctive and all. Carrasco makes this issue with an always entertaining art scheme, helping sell the already great visuals of Villavert.
Best Moment: The school brawl!
Worst Moment: Maybe the narrator. It'd be better with a bit more explanation of him.
Overall: (5/5) This is a fantastic read, and you'd do well to pick up a copy yourself!
IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA…AGAIN! Vol.1 TBBKWriter: Clay & Susan Griffith
Art: Chris Noeth & Todd Tennant
Publisher: Bluewater Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Known mainly for their line of bio comics, its a little known fact that Bluewater also does horror. It’s a littler known fact that the company has produced some hidden gems in horror in recent years including the book we’re looking at today; IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA…AGAIN! As the title would suggest, this is a tongue in cheek sequel to the 50’s film about a giant octopus created by the late great stop motion genius Ray Harryhausen. If you’re a fan of the original film, this sequel is going to be something worth seeking out.
Being a huge fan of all things horror, I have a special place in my black heart for the American giant monster films of the 50’s which was a reaction to the Atomic Bomb scares the public was facing at the time. The films are simple; don’t fuck with mother nature, she bites back. Here a giant octopus, much like the one from the original film, surfaces and destroys everything in its path. It’s up to a dorky scientist, a drunken fishing boat captain, and a hard as nails Marine chick to save the day. Everything about this story screams old school and if you’re a fan of the way movies used to be, then you have to pick up this homage to the classics. The Griffiths Clay and Susan do a great ob of capturing the tone of those old films where science was wonky and quips were lobbed back and forth like hand grenades. Here even though the feel is classic, the writers Griffiths do a great job of keeping the story punchy with some unexpected twists and turns including an invasion of baby man sized octopus that seemingly can crawl on land.
The art is pretty damn good too. Unfortunately, the duties are split between two artists. Though I read this in trade and am not sure who did what issue, there’s a pretty jarring shift in art style halfway through. Chapters One and Two are done with distinct lifework and crisp colors. The scene of the giant octopus wrapping itself around an ocean liner is truly monumental. Though the shift to soft tones and muted colors in the Third and Fourth Chapters are definitely different in comparison to the first chapters, the artist does do a good job of making the characters consistent throughout. I hate to see an artist switch midstream like that. It’s noticeable, but both are pretty competent artists, despite the fact that they have completely different styles.
IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA…AGAIN! is a fun adventure throwback to an age of cinema that screams fun. There are plenty of laughs and chills to be had in these pages and the scenes of octopi wreaking carnage with tentacly glee were both terrifying and fun. Though films such as IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA are often remade in a disappointing manner these days, it’s apparent with the creators behind this comic book sequel that there is a love and respect for the original that can’t be duplicated in today’s Hollywood. Another reason why comics will always be cooler.
Prof Challenger Reviews a Block of ATLAS Comics!
GRIM GHOST #2Writers: Tony Isabella & Steven Susco
Artist: Kelley Jones
Publisher: Atlas Comics
Reviewer: Professor Challenger
“The Fringe. It's a world wrapped around and within the living world, a place where lost souls seek their ultimate fates.” – Michael
Better and better and better. The first issue of GRIM GHOST was good. This second issue is better. The pacing picks up. The art gets more expressively dark and moody.
Michael, the man who has passed from this world into “The Fringe” but can't remember his past, begins to...remember. At the same time, we get the backstory that was missing from the first issue as to the earthly relationship between Dunsinane (Grim Ghost) and the evil, demonic Braddock.
And the thing is, neither of the three come out smelling like roses. They are all flawed yet powerful, and morally nebulous. Braddock is the most outright cruel and evil, but both Grim Ghost and Michael show aspects that reveal that they are willing to be less than holy themselves in order to accomplish their purposes.
I'm hooked. Really enjoyed it. There's something about the look and feel of this series that evokes the nostalgia inside of me but is as modern as anything else out there.
GRIM GHOST, like the other Atlas Comics titles, is solid, good comics and well worth taking a look and committing your time and energy.
PHOENIX #2Writers: Jim Krueger & Brendan Deneen
Artist: Dean Zachary
Publisher: Atlas Comics
Reviewer: Professor Challenger
“You should have killed me when you had the chance!” – Max
I don't have much more to say on this title other than, if the first issue intrigued you, then this issue does not disappoint.
The art is gorgeous. The storyline a bit harrowing when putting yourself, as the reader, into the footsteps of Ed Tyler and his resurrection nightmare. He's on the run from the aliens who were killing him repeatedly and just trying to stay alive and sometimes failing at that.
This is a comic that hits the ground running and never stops running. It is over before you realize it and leaves you on another great cliffhanger moment. The mystery is not only unfolding but deepening with the appearance, almost Constantine-like, of a mysterious “detective” who seems out of place but also knows much more about what is happening to Tyler than he should.
I continue to be impressed by the way the characters react to this situation and I noted the first inclusion of a reference to Detective Lomax from the WULF comic to tease the reader with knowledge that these Atlas characters do indeed co-exist within the same world.
WULF #2Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Nat Jones
Publisher: Atlas Comics
Reviewer: Professor Challenger
“I let you down. Ever steady, ever strong, always by my side. Rest well, my friend. Rest well.” – Wulf (saying goodbye to his dead horse.)
Saving the best for last, WULF ran away with the Atlas prize this month. Simply put, the synthesis between writing and art was complete once this team had their footing after a somewhat lighter-paced first issue.
This one really does have it all. A sword-wielding barbarian with an honor code, a hard-boiled New York police detective, terrifying bloodthirsty other-dimensional monsters, and a horribly disfigured powerful evil wizard.
With a radical twist on the “buddy cop” formula, I really dig how Niles is developing the relationship between Lomax and Wulf. There is a real sense of sadness in Wulf, the Barbarian, who has lost everything (seemingly) and Lomax picks up on this and reaches out to him. He can see the good heart within. However, in a shocking scene, Wulf demonstrates violently how he still is a barbarian raised in a world where brutality rules the day and is the first choice when confronted by evil.
The desperation and depravity of the villain in this story is dark and tortured--perfect for the tone of this violent but entertaining comic book. Not for the faint of heart though.
The writing rocks this comic and the art is just slightly primitive enough to give it a look and feel of something other-worldly.
I recommend WULF highly. This was my favorite comic of the past week.
KILL SHAKESPEARE #11Writer: Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col
Artist: Andy Belanger
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Why must the end be nigh? The twelve issue series of KILL SHAKESPEARE is nearing its end and I for one will miss it. McCreery and Del Col have captured the voice of the Bard, with Belanger providing visuals worthy of Will himself. Even more important is the fact that they have taken advantage of the serial format the comic was printed in. Just like old Superman radio shows or the Batman television show of the 1960s, each book ends on a cliffhanger that leaves the reader wanting more. KILL SHAKESPEARE #11 is no exception.
Juliet and Othello’s army is being demolished by that of Lady Macbeth and Richard III’s troops. But after some wise dying words from Falstaff, Hamlet has chosen to step up. He places Romeo in charge of Juliet’s safety, despite his own tender feelings for her. Then Hamlet returns to the Globe, in an effort to once again bring Will or his quill back to the Prodigals. On the side of villainy, Lady Macbeth and Richard III are no longer seeing eye to eye. Is this the change in the tide needed for good to triumph over evil?
When I reviewed KILL SHAKESPEARE #9 I felt that there was information overload and possibly a bit too much dialogue. Now, in KILL SHAKESPEARE #11, McCreery and Del Col have found a perfect balance of maintaining Shakespeare’s voice and skill with language, while keeping a grasp on readability for the modern day audience. You don’t need a side by side translation for KILL SHAKESPARE, unlike the plays that inspired the comic.
As for artist Belanger, I will have to admit that the artwork is not highly kinetic. But when flourishes such as fire are added, there is some movement perceived within the panels. Also, kudos for his drawings of the fairies. Dangerous and monstrous creatures they may be and Belanger captures this portrayal properly. Despite the violence, and really what is a Shakespearean tale without numerous deaths, Belanger keeps the gore in good taste. Another element I enjoyed, though there usage was minimal in the comic, were the backgrounds that showed through the guttering. Instead of simple black space in between panels, at times larger drawings filled the page.
In my earlier review, I stated that knowledge of Shakespeare was not needed but that one did have to read the earlier comics. I stand by this and add on: Shakespeare is not the end all and be all. Though the characterization of these famous figures is mostly accurate compared to their theatrical counterparts, sticklers may be angered by, for instance, Juliet’s strength. Just keep in mind that Shakespeare was not original, he built upon older tales and adjusted those. So, in a way, KILL SHAKESPEARE is following in the footsteps of the Bard, advancing the characters once again.
There is only one more issue of KILL SHAKESPEARE left, but I do hope that IDW finds a way to keep this property going. Word is that KILL SHAKESPEARE has started making movie deals and I for one will be first in line at the box office. KILL SHAKESPEARE is a shining example of how comics can be literary masterpieces as well.
Reviewed by: superhero
The first thing I have to say about RATFIST is that it’s wacky. Really wacky. I mean, it’s wacky.
I’ve been a fan of Doug Tennapel’s work for a long time. Ever since I picked up “Creature Tech” I’ve absolutely loved his stuff. So I know to expect something different from his stuff than what the average comic book has to offer. Tennapel’s work is usually unique and irreverent in its own way. His cartooning style always boasts an energetically brilliant brushwork that delivers impactful storytelling on every page. His writing usually presents a different type of narrative that frequently delivers a world that differs from the norm. As far as I’ve always been concerned Tennapel is treasure among our modern cartoonists.
Which is why I was more than psyched to check out RATFIST when the opportunity presented itself. I was expecting something unusual with RATFIST but I guess I just didn’t expect it to be this unusual. It seems that with RATFIST Tennapel has decided to use the fact that he’s no longer constrained by a set number of pages to just go in any direction he wants with the story. And that’s great. That’s what webcomics are for. But with RATFIST the story is a bit…all over the place. I have to say, as the comic started out I had no idea what was going on. Hell, as I continued to read, I still had no idea what was going on. But it’s a testament to Tennapel’s skill that I continued to read. I stayed interested. Even though the story was weirder than what I was used to, even though the comic’s structure didn’t seem to have any structure, I was enthralled. RATFIST, to me, came across as some sort of brilliantly weird hybrid of a Looney Toons cartoon and a Fellini film. And it kept me reading for the whole run of its ninety-some pages.
And it wasn’t just because I was fan of Tennapel’s previous work. Trust me, when it comes to comics, I’m about as loyal as a whore in a Vegas brothel. If you’re not giving me something engaging to read, especially on the web, I’ll drop you like a hot potato. So Tennapel’s RATFIST definitely delivers the goods. Yes, they are stranger goods than usual but they are the goods nonetheless.
But the best part of RATFIST is the fact that it’s one of the few times that I’ve actually been able to see Tennapel’s comic art colored instead of in black and white. Colorist Katherine Garner does a fantastic job of adding an extra dimension to Tennapel’s work. It’s a real pleasure to see Tennapel’s work rendered in these beautiful colors. There’s a warmth to RATFIST that you don’t get in a lot of Tennapel’s graphic novels because they are usually in stark black and white. RATFIST offers up a slightly different feel than what Tennapel usually is able to give us just based on the fact that it’s in color.
So is RATFIST worth reading? I’d say the answer is a definite “Yes!” Check it out for something different. Besides, it’s on the web and it’s free so what better incentive is there than that?
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Nick Harris