|Issue #5||Release Date: 6/1/11||Vol.#10|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
FLASHPOINT Miniseries Part One
TALES OF NEVERLAND #1
THE TOOTH OGN
ABIN SUR: THE GREEN LANTERN #1
Advance Review: AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST #1
PLANET OF THE APES #2
FLASHPOINT Miniseries Part Two
VERONICA #207/KEVIN KELLER #1
DV8: GODS AND MONSTERS Tpbk
dot.comics presents BIRTH OF VENUS Webseries
Indie Jones presents…
FLASHPOINT FLESH OUT Part OnePublisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Here we go again: thanks to the wonders of the internet and too much free time, the comic world is already buzzing with the aftermath of FLASHPOINT before the event has even started to walk. I understand the joys of instant gratification, but there’s something to be said for the old cliché of enjoying the moment. This is why I like writing for Ain’t It Cool comics--we may spoil shit a little (and yes I will in this review), but our “no-news, all reviews” mantra allows us to play ostrich and actually imbibe the goodness of what we are reading right now. So whether FLASHPOINT ends in a reboot, retcon or stuffed into a cosmic blender and poured out as a new continuity smoothie -- I don’t care, because the ride is fan-fucking-tastic.
There hasn’t been this much cohesion to a summer event since the old annuals of the 90s. I always felt ARMAGEDDON 2001 stood at the top of that old summer smorgasbord, and FLASHPOINT gives me those same nostalgic goose pimples. Don’t get me wrong, the stories aren’t the same. The dread of FLASHPOINT makes ARMAGEDDON 2001 seem almost cheery and quaint. What I’m referring to is a sameness of spirit. FLASHPOINT is an event where you don’t have to read every book, but if you decide to go for broke (I know, for some that is a literal statement – my deepest condolences), the event becomes a rich tapestry of story-telling versus the flat speed through that you get from only reading the main event title.
If you need an example take last week’s FLASHPOINT 2. We are treated to a few scant pages of Deathstroke as a pirate that pillages the now submersed Europe. But just as soon as you can say “cool concept,” we are whisked away to Barry and Thomas Wayne trying to recreate the accident that gave Barry super-speed. Well fuck…as fun as it is watching Barry get charbroiled, I wanted more Deathstroke and the bad ass pirate ship. Thankfully Deathstroke has his own mini being released this week that gives you all the whys behind his transformation from assassin to booty hunter. And there’s the best way to describe how one should traverse FLASHPOINT. If you want the what, just read FLASHPOINT proper. If you want the why and all of the subtle nuances then pick up the bleed off titles. If you are on a limited budget, find your favorite scene in FLASHPOINT and simply follow the mini behind the character. See it’s just that easy.
All right, let’s see what’s what and why ‘s why.
ABIN SUR: THE GREEN LANTERN #1
Writer: Adam Schlagman
Art: Felipe Massaferaz
For anyone that felt FLASHPOINT was going to steal away the thunder of BRIGHTEST DAY/BLACKEST NIGHT or simply obliterate its importance altogether, think again. Without Earth’s greatest champions in this bleak FLASHPOINT world, the BLACKEST NIGHT threatens to consume the entire galaxy--actually Nekron’s posthumous blanket is already shrouding more sectors than less. Tired of the Guardians’ endless pontificating Sinestro decides to form his own militia to confront Nekron’s forces head-on. This gave some wonderful interchange between Abin and Sinestro as they both seek to achieve galactic peace by their own unique means. Ever the loyal soldier Abin says F-Sinestro and heads to war-struck Earth at the Guardians request to protect our juicy nuggety center known as the white power or the inception of all life in the universe. Sinestro, doing what he does best, takes a trip to see the imprisoned Atrocitus for answers on the FLASHPOINT prophecy. That’s right kids, FLASHPOINT was pre-ordained and the Green Lanterns now officially have more prophecies than all of the Mormon compounds combined.
BATMAN: KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE #1
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Art: Eduardo Risso
Hands down my favorite FLASHPOINT thus far. Seriously, my BATMAN fetish aside, Azzarello and Risso own this story with scant dialogue and methodically placed scene setting. For anyone without an Internet connection, Thomas Wayne is revealed in FLASHPOINT 1 as the Batman of this universe. Young Bruce and Mrs. Wayne were the ones gunned down that fateful night in Crime Alley. Thomas, either as Batman or the head of Gotham’s gambling empire (you know, his legitimate job) is a man of few to no words. But Azzarello finds a way to make half grunts and surly asides as intriguing as any over bloated word balloons. Gordon is still in the scene as the head of Gotham PD, which works in accordance with Gotham Securities, partially owned by Mr. Wayne himself. Chester Cobblepot serves as Wayne’s right hand man for the casino empire, which I thought was a fantastic choice since the Cobblepot and Wayne families were thick as thieves prior to the Superhero and Supervillain generation. Harvey Dent is simply Harvey Dent, the father of twins (get it) that were abducted by the Joker, who even though we only see in shadow on the last page, is still as batshit crazy as ever. This is a story for anyone that doesn’t mind seeing the essence of the Batman taken to the extreme. And like THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, Batman’s middle-age aches and saltiness make every fight that much more delicious when he finally wins.
CITIZEN COLD #1
Art & Writer Scott Kolins
“They killed Wally! You bastards!” Sure Wally has been about as useful to the DC universe as a penis on Themyscira since the return of Barry, but for those of us that grew up with Wally as our Flash, seeing his death (or was it) on the closing page of this story was about as painful as the day Kurt Cobain went all heroiney. I won’t say how Wally buys the big one, but it was never the end I expected for my favorite Flash.
What’s in a name? Ol’ Willy’s logic doesn’t simply apply to roses. Even though Captain…excuse me Citizen Cold is the new hero of Flash’s home burg, his altruism is only in place so he can still satiate that thirst to kill and cause mayhem. Citizen Cold simply legitimized his blood lust; he’s not a hero for the betterment of mankind, he’s a FLASHPOINT hero, which seems to be not a hero at all.
There’s some wonderful interchange in this story between Citizen Cold and Mr. Freeze highlighting how simply ridiculous it would be to even consider them in the same league from a powers stand-point. Kolins also proves he can not only draw The Rogues, but also capture the essence of each character in solid Johnsian fashion.
THE WORLD OF FLASHPOINT #1
Writer: Rex Ogle
Artist: Eduardo Francisco
I normally hate magic and I’m definitely a Ted Kord guy when it comes to my Blue Beetle’s, so I came into this title about the new Blue Beetle’s gal pal with the lowest amount of knowledge. Ultimately, it didn’t matter if I could tell a Traci 13 from a Traci 1 through 12; Ogle created enough tension on the macro and micro level to make this my second favorite of the week. Want to see the tidal wave that decimates Europe? Done! Want to see the secret cabal that is planning on saving the world by destroying large swaths of it? Done! Want to see a story about a girl who despises her gifts as much as she relishes them and is coming of age during the darkest time in history? Done and then some! I had little idea who Traci was before this, but make no mistake I will not be soon to forget her now that she seems to be playing one of the most pivotal roles in the unfolding mystery of FLASHPOINT.
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.
TALES OF NEVERLAND #1Writer: Joe Brusha, Linda Ly, Raven Gregory
Art: Judit Tondora, Antonio Bifulco
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Though I’m not the most proficient in PETER PAN lore, I know just enough about the characters to recognize these more sophisticated versions of the characters having adventures in Zenescope’s new TALES OF NEVERLAND series, a spinoff of the company’s hit NEVERLAND series which follows a more devious Pan and a curvy Tinkerbell, here referred to as Belle. I like how Zenescope has put their own stamp on characters from modern mythology and fable. Yes, that means most of the women are half clothed and in poses what would probably pop a muscle or two if really held for any length of time. But it also means that the stories are much more darker (or maybe more in tune with the original versions of the story rather than the saccharinated versions Disney has sold to the modern public).
This first issue focuses on some of [Tinker] Belle’s backstory and how she first came into contact with Pan. This is a rather melancholy story about manipulation and deceit that proves that despite her explosive temperament, Belle is actually one of the tamer fairies. This feature has art from Judit Tohondra, who supplies gorgeous forms and some really nicely angles panels which convey some of the terrors Belle experiences at the side of the pond. This tale of fairies vs. mermaids seems to be only beginning.
The second story is a more subdued one about a housewife frightened by her husband and her plans to escape his hold. While a lot of the story seemed to be truncated due to space (I would have liked to see more than just an image montage for the Titanic aspect of the story, though it is kind of nice that the focus was on the central character and her children rather than the oft told story of the sinking ship), it still was a fulfilling read and indicative that this series is much more than just T&A.
If you read PETER PAN as a kid, this is definitely a series you’re going to want to pick up to see what happens to these characters when they all grow up. Joe Brusha & Raven Gregory bring a lot of the same sophisticated and horrific tones found in GRIMM FAIRY TALES and the WONDERLAND Trilogy to Pan’s corner of lore.
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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THE TOOTH OGNWriters: Cullen Bunn & Shawn Lee
Artist: Matt Kindt
Publisher: Oni Press
Reviewer: Professor Challenger
“The awesome Toothman. Fights every man he can. He wins every time...at least 8 out of 9. He is never gonna lose. That's good news. There is no more to say. STAY OUT OF HIS WAY!!!!!!!!!!!”
Easily one of the weirdest things I've ever read. I also couldn't stop reading it until I finished this massive book of almost 200 pages. It's a huge B-movie-style sort-of horror/super-hero comic about a mythological monster molar and the poor schlep who winds up having to deal with it.
What starts off as a missing persons mystery that starts at the dentist's office evolves into an occultic nightmare replete with Greek mythology, dragons, vampires and...of course...lots and lots of teeth.
This story also has lots of death and dismemberment. It also has lots of humor about itself and its characters. In fact, the absurdity of this entire venture is part of the fun the reader has when jumping into the pool of weird that is THE TOOTH.
This is a book that would not ever translate effectively in a digital media environment. It is a retro-tactile experience to hold in your hands and enjoy. I'm not sure of the background on this project or the individuals involved in putting it together, so I don't know if any of this was legitimately an outgrowth of an idea that the creator had as a child. But it really doesn't matter. My favorite parts of THE TOOTH actually had nothing to do with the narrative itself. The introductory section of the book presents what, for all intents and purposes, appear to be the original precursor sketches and concepts for THE TOOTH that were done many years ago when the creator was a child. If they were done strictly for the book, then the apparent authenticity of these images and notes needs to be applauded here.
Also, interspersed throughout the book are absurd faux retro-comic book ads that made me laugh and the retro-style “reprinted” covers of past THE TOOTH comics, fake letters pages and “bulletins” all added a great deal of atmosphere and a sense of history to the reading of the book.
The artwork is childlike, but not childish. Artist Matt Kindt is obviously utilizing a primitive style here which gives the artwork more of an old-style children's book appearance. Much wizardry is then applied to “age” the artwork and make it appear to be authentic reprints of old comics, replete with paper browning, chipping, and water stains (although the characters themselves are clearly living in the “present” with cellphones and other modern bits like that). Although there's lots of violence, Kindt doesn't over-indulge in it graphically but presents just enough to get across the horror of the moment but not dwell on it anymore than necessary. He has a good sense of pacing and storytelling. The silliness of some of the subject matter and cartooniness sometimes went a little too far for my tastes, but not too bad.
“The Tooth” itself is a fine and entertaining addition to that large group of comic book monster-heroes that goes back to THE HEAP to THE THING to SWAMP THING and so on. I have to say that THE TOOTH is not my usual thing, and it wasn't perfect or world-changing, but it was a lot of fun and left me with a toothy grin at the end.
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.
FLASHPOINT - ABIN SUR THE GREEN LANTERN #1Writer: Adam Schlagman
Art: Felipe Massaferaz
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
A step in the right direction.
I'm not going to lie. Every preview I saw for FLASHPOINT seemed lackluster to me. I at no point found myself excited for this storyline, and my apathy turned to annoyance once the news of the DC universe reboot broke. But despite my annoyance, I committed. I caved, and bought the second issue, along with a number of the tie ins. You know what? I don't care what anyone says, I loved “Age Of Apocalypse” when I first read it at age 11, hunting down the individual issues(let's not talk about the sequel please), and from what I had heard, this is DC's AOA. So, I went out and bought what I could. And that apathy turned annoyance? Justified. The main title is hit or miss, with some moments doing well while others flounder. And the tie ins....well....no. Just no. Even the Batman one, the one with the most promise, just didn't live up to its potential. I feel the Abin Sur title does the same. It hits enough of its intended marks to make it an okay read, but it just can't do enough, and when it fails, it fails.
Writing: (2/5) This book offers something I've actually always been curious about, but rarely see: Abin Sur. There have been stories done with him before, but to be frank, I haven't read many of them. This issue puts him front and center, and it does prove interesting, if not wholly original. He reminds me strongly of Saint Walker actually, albeit with a bit more aggression behind him. The selfless martyr who secretly harbors great pain. It's an old story beat, and not a lot if played with it. He's the typical hero character, which just reads dully. The book's strongest moments are when Abin is forced to share the page with Sinestro. Still a Green Lantern and now something of a rogue Lantern, Sinestro begins to assemble a team to attack Nekron, freed after the murder of William Hand by Atrocitus. It's a nice play on the events of Green Lantern's "Secret Origin" story from a few years ago, and plays off some of those story beats.
Sinestro here, as always, reads in a very cool, intense way. Lantern Sinestro appearances are a very special treat. The confrontation sequence towards the end of the book manages to be painfully by the numbers, however, never branching forth from the stereotypical "Guardians are bastards!" approach. They row with Abin, and the whole scene could have easily been done with slightly different art to convey ANY Green Lantern. Abin just has no personality in these scenes, never standing out in any particular way. It's almost painful to read, as an Abin Sur story should be five kinds of fantastic.
Art: (3/5) Massafera's art is the book’s best factor, but even that isn't really enough. It doesn't stand out enough. It never feels dynamic or bold. It isn't bad, in any sense of the word. But it's very on point, which can at times almost be a bad thing. It's too...average. It never feels like Massafera is trying with these pages. They just feel typical and normal. This being a Green Lantern book, you should never describe the art as that.
The art does have the benefit of Rod Reis, who manages to do a fairly good job with the coloring.
Best Moment: Sinestro. His scenes, while they do read like Sinestro of the main world a little too much, are still well done here.
Worst Moment: How can Abin be so basic here?
Overall: (2/5) I don't even think this issue was bad. It just has so much potential that was squandered. Here's hoping the next one picks up the pace.
SWEETS Vol.1 TpbkWriter / Artist: Kody Chamberlain
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: LongBox Girl
It’s Sunday morning as I write this and it is far too hot to actually spend the day outside. While I am sure there are plenty of things I should be doing to get ready for the work week, inevitably I will fall into that scientific anomaly known simply as the “Law & Order Vortex”. Once you get sucked in you just can’t pull yourself out of it, no matter how hard you try. The couch is your prison and the endless barrage of back-to-back SVU episodes is your ever-watchful warden. A similar vortex came early for me this Sunday as I cracked open my laptop and began reading Kody Chamberlain’s New Orleans crime story SWEETS. I was sucked into the SWEETS vortex and was not going to escape until it released me at the last page of issue 5. SWEETS is a New Orleans crime story, set mere days before Katrina. It follows the tale of Detective Curt Delatte, who is on the trail of the SWEETS killer, a serial killer that earned his moniker by leaving pecan pralines at the scene of every crime. Curt is the super detective that picks up on things no one else would be able to piece together, but you also learn his home life is in disarray after the death of his teenage daughter. Of course, it isn’t Curt working alone. The cast that helps him throughout the story is comprised of very well fleshed out, colorful characters. The dialogue is handled quite splendidly, serving to not only submerge the reader in the New Orleans culture but also giving the reader the information he/she needs to be led through the tangled web of murder, psychics, crooked politicians, prostitution and sweet southern delicacies.
I think, before diving more into the story, I need to give praise to Kody Chamberlain for what I would consider a visual triumph. From beginning to end, every page is masterfully crafted by Chamberlain alone, and it is magnificent. It gave me the same chill I would get when reading old Frank Miller comics. There is just something to be said for a comic born from the blank page by one truly creative mind. The art was inventive and new, and perfect for the book’s gritty, N’awlins setting. My only complaint would be the flashbacks inserted throughout the book shifting to a cartoon style. Chamberlain’s talents obviously lie in his realistic/comic book styling and not so much in traditional cartoons. This is a minor gripe, but certainly not the first time I have seen the mistake made in comics. Several comic creators have attempted to cross genres within their own book and more often than not just highlight their shortcomings. As much as I admire Chamberlain’s work on the series and am in awe of what he created all on his own, a guest artist may have helped him actualize his vision a little better.
In regards to the story, I liked it. As I made clear, it was a gripping, suspenseful tale that drew me in almost immediately. Chamberlain does an exquisite job guiding the reader through SWEETS’ many twists and turns. He was obviously building up to a major end and unfortunately the end didn’t deliver the punch I was hoping for. This is not to say it ruined the entire experience for me, because it motivated me to go right back to #1 and read the entire series again. Without getting all spoilery, I will say the end came a little out of left field. Upon my second reading, I did see where a few breadcrumbs were dropped to lead us to the finale, but it still seemed a bit of a stretch. The end made an attempt to legitimize, if not make a hero of, the killer. However, throughout the book the twisted and gruesome murders definitely point to a troubled psychopath, not a misunderstood antihero. I hate that I can’t discuss it further here, but I truly do not want to ruin anything for anyone. The book is definitely worth a few reads and an amazing testament to Chamberlain’s potential. I have a feeling we will see some fascinating work from him in the future.
Oh, and Kody… I found your cameo without even knowing what you look like. Very Hitchcockian indeed. Nice job, sir.
Advance Review: In stores today!
AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST #1Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Sean Murphy
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Whenever you think the comic medium might be on its last legs, I ask you to look at AMERICAN VAMPIRE. Even sans-Skinner Sweet, as is the case with SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, Snyder’s confident use of deep characterization and macro level world changing constructs is enough to make you care about the now and salivate over the what’s next--which is exactly what any serialized medium is supposed to do.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST starts a whisper before the WWII arc currently running in AMERICAN VAMPIRE proper. While Skinner and Pearl get ready for a toe-to-toe on some god forsaken island in the South Pacific, SURVIVAL focuses on New York City where the Vassals of the Morning Star are trying to root out the vampire dark seed from some of America’s loftiest perches. Specifically we get to follow Chelsea Book, grand-daughter of Jim Book, one of Skinner Sweet’s first victims. Chelsea has grown up among the Vassals (who have a super cool base of operations deep within the Museum of Natural History). Chelsea also carries a dark curse: having been conceived when her Father was already infected with vampire blood, she is able to act as vampire radar, honing in on the stench of death and bloodlust that drives all vampires to evil deeds.
SURVIVAL also revisits the character Jim McCogan, the lawman that lost his family back at Hoover Dam and has now dedicated his life to ridding the world of Sweet. Well…lost part of his family I should say. What’s left of the McCogan clan is a nice little seed that I’m sure Snyder will reap in a later issue.
In what’s mainly a set-up issue, Jim and Chelsea are sent to Romania to search for a supposed vampire cure, though knowing Snyder’s knack for surprise, I’m sure they will find anything but.
There are enough bloody wooden bullets and crisp dialogue barbs to entertain new readers, but I would be lying if I said anyone jumping into this series with this book wouldn’t be missing the much bigger picture that Snyder is painting with this universe. There’s a stark difference between reading about Jim and Chelsea and truly understanding the pain and torment they have both endured in past volumes of AMERICAN VAMPIRE. Do yourself a favor and go in for the full ride. I guarantee once you buy AMERICAN VAMPIRE volumes I and II, you won’t be able to stay away from SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.
PLANET OF THE APES #2Writer: Darryl Gregory
Art: Carlos Magno
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Reviewer: The Taffeta Darling
So the deadline to find the Lawgiver’s killer is almost near. Our girl Alaya has decided to seek help from Nix, an infamous white gorilla, to assist her in catching her grandfather’s assassin. Although Nix questions Alaya’s choice, she reminds him that his actions are lesser in crime than those committed against the Lawgiver.
Meanwhile in Skin Town, the Mayor starts her own investigation, which leads her first to Laughing Jack. Possibly in a monkey suit disguise, Jack is a weapons master and smuggler for the humans. Jack informs the investigation committee that the weapon in question is not of his kind, and to seek out the church. Enter the Bomb! As The Mayor pays visit to the church, Nix drums up his entourage and prepares them for battle.
This is where the good goes great; Darryl Gregory takes the story’s velocity between the apes and humans and adds components conversant of what one would expect after being a big Planet of The Apes movie. I’m really into the addition of Nix; I can not wait to see this brute unleashed. With the first issue I was intrigued as a POTA lover, but now I want to know more about Nix; I want to see his posse find the assassin and bring the hurt down.
Carlos Magno again does much justice to the apes, humans and their respected cities. The art is elaborate and detailed; considering Magno is drawing two types of characters and their surroundings, the styles maintain their separation, but do not lack involvement.
FLASHPOINT Part TwoPublisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
While I have my reservations about FLASHPOINT in general, I have to admit, reading through these numbers ones impressed me. My first reservation was that this would be a loosely threaded, unplanned, cash grab by DC to make some extra duckets by lobbing a bunch of new number one issues at our faces. I’m not saying that it isn’t, but at least the stories are both entertained and the world of FLASHPOINT seems to be pretty well thought out. Optimous Douche and I split this week’s and last week’s new FLASHPOINT number ones between us. You’ve read his thoughts. Here’s mine on the other four.
FRANKENSTEIN & THE CREATURES OF THE UNKNOWN #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Ibriam Roberson
Ganking Jeff Lemire to write Morrison’s Frankenstein character helps. Looks like he’ll be tackling the new series in the new fall relaunch too. Here there’s a lot of info to be digested (maybe a bit too much for one issue), but the characters introduced and Lemire’s take on Frankenstein is fun. I like it that Frank appears to be somewhat empathetic (it’s a great spin on the original Mary Shelly story) and in tune with the other monsters in his squad. The vampire, werewolf, and creature of the Black Lagoon characters look like they could be interesting, but they’re not really given enough time here to be flashed out past the surly one, the loose cannon, & the innocent one. I’m looking forward to future issues of this miniseries though, especially with Ibriam Roberson’s art guiding the way.
SECRET 7 #1
Writer: Peter Milligan
Art: George Perez
I have to admit, the only reason I stuck with this story is because I love Shade the Changing Man. He’s such a cool visual character and Perez really channels the Ditko-ian awesomeness with Shade’s Meta Power manifesting over and around him. This is a somewhat intriguing / somewhat convoluted story of a team of supernatural heroes who I guess died and Shade is the only survivor. Many questions were left to be answered in this one and with three issues left, Peter Milligan has his hands full. With Shade leading the just-announced JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, though, I guess we have more than just this three issue miniseries to find out the answers.
DEATHSTROKE & THE CURSE OF THE RAVAGER #1
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti
Art: Joe Bennett
I wasn’t really looking forward to reading this one, mainly because I’m not really a follower of the Titans and it’s arch for Slade. But after reading this, I was surprised to find it to me one of my favorites of this week’s FLASHPOINT installments. Upon reading the credits, I knew why. With Palmiotti writing, this pirate story actually is a lot of fun. I love the way they incorporated Warlord into the story as Slade’s foe on the seven seas. With a dire mission (Slade is in search of his daughter Ravager, hence the title) and a cast of cool villains turned pirates, this book is as close to the SECRET SIX as it seems we’re going to get in this new wave of books. Joe Bennett continues to prove that he is a powerful force with the pencil with gorgeous details of action in the high seas. Best of the bunch this week.
EMPORER AQUAMAN #1
Writer: Tony Bedard
Art: Adrian Sayaf
Everyone’s talking about Aquaman and his flooding of Europe in the books. Though the story is strong, Bedard hits just shy of epic with his story of Aquaman dealing with the loss of his wife and the decisions he’s made as ruler of Atlantis. This is definitely a set-up issue and it ends on a pretty dire note, but I am not sure I like this Sub-Mariner version of Aquaman. I think there were other aspects of the character that could distinguish his from his Marvel compadre and making him attack the surface world just rings of Namor and not Arthur. Hopefully we’ll get more insight into Aquaman because he’s a hard character to read in this issue. That might be the intention, but it makes it hard to identify with the character.
VERONICA #207/KEVIN KELLER #1Writer / Artist: Dan Parent
Publisher: Archie Comics
Up to this point, I had enjoyed all that I had read about Kevin Keller. I understand that Archie Comics has a wholesome image to maintain, along with fans of a wide age range. However, I’m glad they have finally come around to the 21st century and seen that gay can be wholesome as well. That being said, maybe Riverdale is too much like Mayberry or whatever town Beaver Cleaver lived in, because apparently homophobia does not exist there. I don’t know if there was any conflict or racism when Chuck Clayton was introduced, but having Kevin Keller be accepted by Riverdale, though admirable, just lacks realism or strong writing.
VERONICA #207, also known as KEVIN KELLER #1, has Kevin Keller excited to start at Riverdale High in the fall, no longer moving around the world as an army brat. But for now, he is amped up for the 4th of July parade, featuring his father. Keller will be in the spotlight later when he goes toe to toe with Jughead in the pie eating contest (though I truly believe the writers of Archie should have Jughead compete in the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest). Throughout the comic, Keller’s origin story of sorts is given, and the reader is given more background info on Riverdale’s newest citizen.
That’s all fine and dandy, but where is the conflict? Nothing that important happens in the entire issue. I mean, I just saw a great origin story (X-MEN: ORIGINS), so I know that background info can be entertaining if done right. VERONICA #207/KEVIN KELLER #1 is supposed to be a part one, but I don’t see how it isn’t a standalone issue.
This is why I feel that Archie Comics needs to take a page from “Glee” and show that being gay is not always easy. Yes, in a perfect world, being gay or straight would not matter. But I don’t think of Riverdale as a perfect world no matter how much the publishers may wish for that. Not to be crass, but the ease with which Keller integrated into the Archie universe lacks entertainment. Not that homophobia is entertaining, but good writers could find something in Kevin’s character that makes his entrance into this world less than smooth.
The best moments in the comic for me were between Veronica and Jughead, not because good ol’ steel stomach is my favorite, but because there is conflict whenever those two are together. Yes, I will admit there are tiny conflicts within Keller’s back story, but nothing of great significance. There needed to be an overreaching problem that led the reader to part two.
Everyone adores Kevin Keller, and I was part of that fan club…at first. Now I just find him to be so perfect it is annoying. He’s good looking, can match Jughead’s appetite, is kind to all, and wants to be a patriot for his country by serving in the military. Really, what is wrong with this guy? Archie is a womanizer, Veronica is vain, Betty seems to need Archie to survive, and Jughead is lazy. All of the main characters have flaws; therefore Kevin Keller needs one too.
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?).
DV8: GODS AND MONSTERS TPBWriter: Brian Wood
Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
Publisher: DC Wildstorm
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
I walked into this trade collection of the teenagers that transcend to gods (or monsters) completely blind. Yes, I had seen DV8 GODS AND MONSTERS on the shelves when it was coming out monthly, but by the time I noticed it the WildStorm universe was being blown to kingdom come in anticipation of its ultimate discontinuation. I have an unending love of THE AUTHORITY and their “we always win” outcome, so it simply pained me to see them crippled and grasping at the last straws of life during the WildStorm implosion. I just couldn’t bear to read anything WildStorm outside of EX MACHINA. I was also one of those guys that bailed on comics in the mid-90s, so DV8’s first run wasn’t even a blip on the radar when I came back into the fold circa 1999.
Shame on me for my cowardice, because while THE AUTHORITY was a husk of its former self the DV8 team were out traversing the cosmos on their own Shiftship and tackling comics’ most stalwart tropes.
The fact that I knew nothing of DV8 and still enjoyed the hell out of it is a testament to Woods’ writing, and Isaacs’ lush visuals didn’t hurt either. Basically if you know comics, you can easily slip into the DV8 universe without missing many steps. If you agree that THE AUTHORITY is best surmised as a realistic interpretation of the Justice League, then you will also agree that DV8 transposes that same gritty realism on to the X-Men formula. It’s far from the direct pastiche of AUTHORITY. It’s more the essence of the fact that powers are scary, especially when they are forced upon you. What’s even scarier though is how certain people in this world will manipulate that power for their own selfish gain. That seems to be the true crux of DV8: these kids are in a constant game of being manipulated by larger powers with the events of GODS AND MONSTERS serving as the ultimate mind-fuck.
The DV8 team, whose powers consist of the standard fare like feral capabilities to highly imaginative abilities like absorbing emotion to increase in mass and rage are dropped on a planet very much like our own, except this planet is an evolutionary step behind with humans still living in hunter/gatherer tribes. One by one the team disappears; as the book progresses you learn that all of the tribes on this planet are at war and each has selected (in most cases abducted) a DV8 member as their own tribal deity. It makes sense; any technological advancement viewed through the right lens could appear godlike and mystical.
Eventually the team begins to reunite. In some cases, it’s the members of DV8 looking to reconnect the initial team. In other cases, the team members don’t want to be found, instead deciding to relish in their new found followers and status as new gods.
What’s most remarkable about GODS AND MONSTERS are the religious connotations Woods decides to play with. Each member of DV8 could easily be transformed into a historical who’s who of our own polytheistic deities. You have a woman who can control peoples’ pheromones, so naturally she keeps her people in a state of being perpetually horny. Other members of the team decide to act out in war games, while some merely focus on improving the lives of the people that idolize them. The book not only speaks to religion, but also the nature of man. I’ve always believed that we created our gods to serve as lessons for the extremes of our own nature. Woods hyper-extends this concept many times over during the course of GODS AND MONSTERS and ultimately teaches us that there is no such thing as blind benevolence. Even gods want a little something-something at the end of the day, whether it be love, blood or riches.
I don’t want to give away the ending because it is a surprise well worth waiting for. Ultimately, though, even gods must one day answer to a higher power.
DV8: GODS AND MONSTERS not only passes as a stand-alone title, it hooked me into wanting to trade dive at this year’s Wizard World for past issues so I can answer some of the dangling larger universe questions. Who was originally manipulating this team? How did they end up with their own AUTHORITY-like Shiftship, and why on Earth would anyone want to make some of the most powerful beings on our earth or any earth so maladjusted?
@@@ dot.comics presents @@@
Art: Matthew JLD Rice
Reviewed by: superhero
Every once in a while there’s a superhero idea that is so different that I can’t even say “why didn’t I think of that?” The idea behind BIRTH OF VENUS is something that I never thought I’d see in a comic as it seems to be something that would be impossible to pull off. The problem is that I can’t really talk about the basic premise of BIRTH OF VENUS without spoiling anything. Realistically, you’ll probably get what that premise is as soon as you visit the site. The banner isn’t exactly subtle as to what the comic is about but I’d rather not reveal anything here in a review and ruin the reading experience for anyone.
What I do want to say about VENUS, or at least the first twenty six pages that are online now, is that it’s a darn good webcomic. There’s a solid story there, well developed central characters, and some really great art and coloring. This is a webcomic that’s as close to a professional standard as I’ve seen a webcomic come. BIRTH OF VENUS is something I could easily see competing with anything in a comic shop today. I don’t know if that’s a compliment in the world of webcomics but I very much mean it to be just that.
The people behind BIRTH OF VENUS know what they’re doing. The writers have crafted a very interesting opening arc that provides the setup for something that could be very promising. This first bunch of pages is, again, just setup for the most part but there’s enough going on that it got me interested to see where the rest of the story will go. Plus there’s a giant robot attack and if there’s one think I like in my comics it’s giant robot mayhem.
I want to close out the review by saying that the art and coloring of VENUS is terrific. There’s a quirky quality to the art that reminds me very much of Doug Mahnke’s early work. It’s not as refined as Mahnke but there’s an obvious talent here that could break out to be a superstar talent someday. It’s not there yet but it’s exciting to see beginnings of an artist who I predict will be someone comic fans may see much more of in the next several years.
So, obviously, I’m recommending BIRTH OF VENUS. It’s up there with some of the better webcomics out there. It’s just starting out but I can only hope that as it progresses it lives up to the promise of these opening pages.
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 @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at www.kristianhorn.com and check out his blog at www.parttimefanboy.com.
ZERO HOUR: CRISIS IN TIME miniseries1994 (Issues #4-0)
Writer and Breakdowns: Dan Jurgens
Finished art: Jerry Ordway
Published by: DC Comics
Dusted off and reviewed by: BottleImp
Some of you might be saying to yourself, “Hey—didn’t I read about ZERO HOUR here on AICN’s great comic book column just a little while ago? Are they that lazy, that they’re just reprinting old reviews?” Well, yes… yes we are. But in this case, there’s a second reason for a look back at this miniseries. Like many comic book fans, we @$$holes have been talking back and forth around the office about DC’s recent announcement regarding their upcoming revamp/reboot of the entire DCU, and during this discourse certain past DC revamps have popped up in conversation—and the one most often invoked was ZERO HOUR. So let’s take a look back at this mid-nineties mini, shall we?
DC had one big tangled mess of continuity. They had tried to rectify this back in 1985 with the now-iconic CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS maxiseries, wherein all the multiple earths in the DC Universe, each one home to a different pantheon of heroes and villains (Earth-1, Earth-2, Earth-3, Earth-X, Earth-S… and so on and so forth), were squashed together onto one ultimate Earth. “There!” the editors at DC sighed, wiping the dust from their hands. “Now there’ll be no more confusion about what Earth the Justice League is on and what Earth the Justice Society comes from. Everybody all in one place—simple!” Unfortunately, rather than undoing the Gordian Knot that was DC’s 50 year publication history, CRISIS managed to twist the skeins even tighter together. The problem was no longer one of location—rather, it had become one of chronology. So the Justice Society had been active during World War II, and the Justice League was active at present—but weren’t Batman and Superman on both teams? And what about Wonder Woman? Was the Hawkman who was a JSA member the same one who was on the JLA, or was the latter still an alien from the planet Thanagar? No, wait…he couldn’t be the alien, because the Hawkman from Thanagar now wears funky orange armor and his wings don’t have feathers…and so on and so forth.
So DC decided to nip all these questions and inconsistencies in the bud with a miniseries that was meant to clean up the convoluted timeline once and for all, while at the same time setting the stage for a new era with new heroes and new titles to reinvigorate the DC Universe: ZERO HOUR.
For such a complex task, the plot of the series is surprisingly straightforward and simple. Anomalies in the timestream are increasingly occurring with no apparent cause. Cities from the future float above the land of the present, a young Batgirl protects the streets of Gotham City while Barbara Gordon remains wheelchair-bound, someone called Alpha Centurion claims that he was Metropolis’ chosen hero, and the immortal Vandal Savage is mystified as the Justice Society’s Hawkman multiplies into half-a-dozen different versions of himself. In the far distant future, the universe is collapsing, sending temporal shockwaves throughout the past. The time-traveling Waverider (whose origin can be found in a previous DCU miniseries, ARMAGEDDON 2001— look here for more info on that one) discovers that this destruction is the aftershock of the events of the original CRISIS, and just as the future is being erased, so too is the past. Soon the two will meet and all of existence will be destroyed. But this isn’t just because of the merged worlds of the CRISIS—there’s a puppet master pulling the strings, and his name is…Extant.
Nah, just kidding—Extant is just Monarch, who was just Hank Hall, aka Hawk of HAWK & DOVE (more ARMAGEDDON 2001…trust me, it’s complicated) with new duds, and he’s just the flunky. The real mastermind is Hal Jordan, aka Parallax. This was after the introduction of Kyle Rayner as the new Green Lantern, when Hal went nuts after Coast City was destroyed. In a logical extension of his desire to bring Coast City back from the dead, Jordan, now brimming with the power of the Green Lanterns’ central battery, decides to use the temporal schisms as a means to remake the universe in his image—a universe where Coast City still exists, where Batgirl was never crippled by the Joker, and where everyone can be happy. Naturally, that doesn’t happen, and long story short, Parallax is defeated and the universe is re-created without outside interference, creating DC’s one true timeline.
ZERO HOUR was followed by DC’s “Zero Month,” during which each title released an issue #0. In the case of already ongoing series, the Zero Issue would give the reader the essence of the comic book and its characters without becoming too bogged down in any ongoing plotlines, becoming an excellent “jumping-on” point for potential new readers. DC also introduced new titles to the stands with Zero Issues of PRIMAL FORCE, MANHUNTER, FATE and STARMAN (which one of these is not like the other?), meant to be the beginning of the new DC. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), this was not to be the case, and DC’s tomorrow turned out to be a lot like it is today.
ZERO HOUR can’t be counted as a success, but neither can it be cast aside as a total failure. On the negative side, the new solo titles that were launched—FATE and MANHUNTER—were almost painfully Image-esque in both visuals and storytelling. Just check out that cape and that ridiculously asymmetrical, pouch-laden outfit. The Big Boom that Image had ushered in was already beginning to bust, and DC was jumping onto that bandwagon far too late. Another “new” hero was the new Hawkman, explained in the miniseries as a stabilization of the multiple Hawkmen that had resulted from the chronological ripples from the CRISIS. But by ignoring the past incarnations of Carter Hall/Katar Hol that readers knew, DC only alienated the fans from this new version. Readers would have to wait another ten years for a Hawkman that both resolved the JSA/JLA issues and embraced the character’s publication history, courtesy of Geoff Johns. In short, all but one of DC’s new titles (James Robinson’s unique STARMAN) flopped, and it was back to Superman, Batman and the rest.
Some were also disappointed that several members of the Justice Society, including Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite, were ignobly dispatched by Extant, while most of the remaining members were advanced to their chronological ages and forced to retire. Comics scribe and Golden Age JSA fanatic Roy Thomas blasted the decision in his book THE ALL-STAR COMPANION, basically saying that DC had tossed their history out with the trash…although Thomas’ idea of how to honor his childhood heroes was to have them locked in a never-ending battle of Ragnarok, the Norse myth of the end of the world. Sooo…dying in battle trying to save the universe, finally retiring after over half a century of crimefighting, or getting crushed by giant serpents and frost giants for all eternity. Gotta say, I think ZERO HOUR was a lot kinder to the JSA than ol’ Roy was.
But here are some of the positives of the miniseries. One: the final issue of ZERO HOUR (#0) finished with a fold-out back cover depicting DC’s new timeline. Want to know which JSA member appeared first? Confused as to who was in the original JLA lineup? Who came first, Superman or Batman? Boom—every question answered by looking at the clear four-page guide. No more timeline problems. Two: accessibility. The “Zero Month” event was the perfect way to get new readers on board to DC’s numerous titles. They were deliberately written to be new-user-friendly, easing the reader into the comic book’s world rather than throwing him into a near-incomprehensible mess of plot and continuity baggage. Hell, ZERO HOUR is why I was and am a DC reader from the mid-‘90s through now. I started with PRIMAL FORCE and STARMAN, STARMAN led to JSA, which led to looking for old issues featuring the Justice Society, etc. Three: brevity. The entire miniseries consisted of five issues that were released weekly, supplemented (if one so desired) by the tie-in issues that were woven into DC’s regular ongoing series. That’s right, a major event book, and all it took was one month. In this day and age where it feels like BLACKEST NIGHT/BRIGHTEST DAY has been going on for an eternity, and over at Marvel the ads for SIEGE proudly proclaimed “an event seven years in the making!” the thought of a company-changing event needing so little commitment from its readers seems mind-boggling (and I’m not even going to bring up the clusterfucks that are 52, COUNTDOWN and FINAL CRISIS). Even given that ZERO HOUR’s end result was less than stellar, you’ve got to give DC credit for not getting mired down in the series and for focusing on the more important matter of going forward with their publications.
Now let’s take a moment and compare ZERO HOUR with DC’s stated post-FLASHPOINT direction. In both cases there is a certain amount of revision happening with the characters. Likewise, in both cases one of the stated goals is to attract new readers to the DCU. And in both cases the continuities have to be altered in order to make the comics more accessible and (theoretically) bring in those new readers. How ZERO HOUR and post-FLASHPOINT differ, however, is in the degree of chang