Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS Part One: TRANSFORMERS – DARK OF THE MOON! SUICIDE GIRLS! MYSTERY MEN! Raven Gregory’s THE THEATER! & MORE!!!

Published at: June 15, 2011, 8:50 a.m. CST

Issue #7 Release Date: 6/8/11 Vol.#10

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: TRANSFORMERS – DARK OF THE MOON #1 Movie Adaptation
ANNIHILATORS #4
DYNAMO 5: SINS OF THE FATHER Vol.5 TPB
SUICIDE GIRLS #1-2
HOWARD STERN #1
MYSTERY MEN #1
Advance Review: THE THEATER #1
CHEAP SHOTS!


Advance Review: In stores this week!

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON MOVIE ADAPTATION #1

Writers: John Barber & Ehren Kruger
Illustrator: Romulo Fajardo
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty


TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON #1 is your official graphic movie adaptation of the upcoming summer blockbuster (of the same name) scheduled to hit theaters on June 29, 2011. I’m not going to waste any time explaining what a TRANSFORMER is because A) you should already know by now and B) if I happen to overlook some miniscule detail Optimous Douche will transform into Optimous Kruger and haunt my childrens’ dreams for years to come. What I can ascertain (having not yet downloaded, I mean uh, gone to see the movie) is the comic mirrors the celluloid based on what we’ve seen in the trailers over the past few weeks. It seems the space race and first manned trip to the moon was in response to an “event” that took place on the “dark side.” Specifically, a TRANSFORMER air vessel (the “Ark”) crash landed and was ripe for the picking.

(SPOILER WARNING) Optimus Prime finds out the humans have kept that information from him and well, that was a “grave mistake” because Sentinel Prime was on board and that’s his boy. Or the other way around. The point is they like each other and Optimus has to get to him before the Decepticons do. Yes, the bad guys are still up to no good and sharing some of their secrets with humans. The kinds of humans that would like to do bad things. Really bad things. Lucky for earth, Sam Witwicky is here to save the day with his girlfriend in tow. No, it’s not Megan Fox, but who really cares at this point? The role demands her to run around, look hot and scream when prompted to and as far as I’m concerned any piece of eye candy will do.

The big question is whether or not DARK OF THE MOON delivers as a comic book. Well, that’s hard to say. For me it doesn’t, because my fascination with the TRANSFORMERS universe centers on their ability to transform from one cool piece of machinery to another. That’s a hard thing to pull off in a comic book without burning up several panels for each transformation. And if they aren’t transforming, then what have they become? I guess the answer is standard action heroes and villains. I don’t know if that’s enough for me but then again it probably isn’t meant to be. I don’t want to be overly cynical and just accuse this of being one of a zillion tie-ins to promote the movie because even though it’s a promotional tool, it’s an entertaining one.

IDW could have easily mailed this one in but they didn’t. The presentation is well-executed and not without polish. If you’re one of those TRANSFORMERS fans that can’t get enough of all things Cybertron, you won’t be disappointed. I was, but part of that has to do with the limitations of the medium, not the delivery. It also doesn’t help that I still have wet dreams over Jae Lee’s GI JOE/TRANSFORMERS crossover way back when. When all is said and done, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON is exactly what you’d expect it to be: an adaptation of the movie in comic book form. It’s sure to please the casual fans but the nitpickers are unlikely to feel satiated.

Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at MMaMania.com here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.


ANNIHILATORS #4 (of 4)

Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artists: Tan Eng Huat, Timothy Green II (Rocket Raccoon backup)
Published by: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by: BottleImp


After finishing this limited series starring some of Marvel’s most powerful cosmic characters battling across galaxies for the fate of two worlds, one thought occurred to me:

“What a let-down.”

Frankly, I think Abnett and Lanning would have done better to walk away from the pantheon of Marvel’s space-based superheroes after completing last year’s epic THANOS IMPERATIVE miniseries. Talk about going out with a bang—not only did this storyline breathe new life into its titular villain (before giving him a big ol’ balls-to-the-wall spectacular death), it also served as the swan song for DnA’s amazingly rejuvenated and updated Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy (both the characters and their respective titles, as a matter of fact). It was a tough act to follow, even with the participation of Marvel heavy hitters such as the Silver Surfer and Gladiator. Actually, it was with the use of these types of über-powerful warriors that the ANNIHILATORS series failed to live up to its predecessors.

The great thing about NOVA and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY was that both books were brimming with colorful casts of quirky characters. Each had a clearly defined personality to go along with their individual powers and abilities; therefore, each character had its own particular role within the storyline that couldn’t be played by another character without breaking the integrity of the comic’s believability. With the ANNIHILATORS, however, there is no such depth to the characterization. The closest thing we get to a personality is Quasar’s endless whining (through narrative captions) about how he doesn’t feel like he can possibly measure up to his cosmically-powered teammates. Gladiator, the Surfer, Beta Ray Bill and Ronan the Accuser come across as flat and two-dimensional as the paper they’re printed upon. Sure, the plot is a good one—a disgraced Skrull seeking to rebuild his people’s empire through magically transforming the monstrous Dire Wraiths into a new race of Skrulls—and manages in best DnA fashion to incorporate tidbits of Marvel history such as the Secret Invasion and Rom and the Spaceknights in its details. But without protagonists that the reader actually cares about, what could have been an edge-of–your-seat thrill ride becomes a mildly interesting diversion.

It doesn’t help much that Tan Eng Huat’s art is the visual equivalent of the lackluster characterization of the script. I’m not saying that the art is bad; in fact, had the script been better, I doubt I would have the same reaction to the drawings. The artwork is serviceable, but strangely sterile. Huat tends to favor certain extreme-perspective viewpoints for his panels, most often looking down on the characters from above, but his figures never quite gel with these angles and more often than not end up looking thin and stretched-out rather than forshortened. Like I said, it’s not bad art per se, but neither the artwork nor the script do anything to help elevate the level of the other and make the comic more enjoyable to read.

In fact, the most enjoyable part of this miniseries has been the Rocket Raccoon and Groot backup feature. The blend of action, mystery, humor, and well-crafted personality that I loved so much in NOVA and GOTG is in full display here, ably assisted by the idiosyncratic drawing style and dynamic page compositions of Timothy Green II. I’m not going to say that this backup story was worth the price of admission ($4.99 an issue is pretty steep for even the best quality comics these days), but it did take away some of the sour taste left by this series’ title storyline.

The Annihilators will apparently be returning this fall in a new series dubbed ANNIHILATORS: EARTHFALL (no idea yet if it’s going to be another mini or an ongoing series), but unless Abnett and Lanning invest some of their time making this team of two-dimensional supermen into fully realized characters, I can’t justify spending my money on such bland entertainment…not even if a talking raccoon and an anthropomorphic shrub are tacked on as a concession.

When released from his bottle, the Imp transforms into Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from New England. He's currently hard at work interpreting fellow @$$Hole Optimous Douche's brainwaves and transforming them into pretty pictures on AVERAGE JOE, an original graphic novel to be published by Com.x. You can see some of his artwork here.


DYNAMO 5 Vol. 5: SINS OF THE FATHER

Writer: Jay Faerber
Artist(s): Julio Brilha and Marcio Takara
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee


I know right now the popular thing to do right now with the world of (superhero) comics is to wail and gnash teeth at a particular revamping of an entire line of them. Lord knows we’ve done enough of it here in our @$$hole space…wait, that piece isn’t up yet? Fuck, how long did we ramble on about that? (Sorry folks, Inside Joke. You’ll see…). So let me bring a proposition to you all not particularly happy with these goings on, a proposal that involves some great, classic superheroing combined with some family drama and multiple characters showing a propensity for growth given both those particular circumstances. And, AND! It all takes place in a universe that has some establishment and gladly acknowledges it while continuing to do its own thing, with no corporate gerrymandering in sight. Sounds wonderful, right? Isn’t it ever…

DYNAMO 5 for five volumes (30 issues-ish) has been a pleasant example of superhero storytelling that puts the characters first and plays to its own tune, with the occasional background note thrown is as seen fit. This particular volume, I think, raises some really quality drama in the lives of these five heroes - each with a power divested from their legendary father Captain Dynamo – and sees the powers they each contained swapped. It’s a simple trick that really anyone could/should have seen coming from the get go (I didn’t because I’m hopelessly oblivious from time to time) but it does so much. Like taking Hector, the geeky member who originally had eye beam based powers and switching him up to be the bruiser of the team, with a bit of an attitude adjustment to match, for better or worse. Ditto Spencer, the half-alien son of Cap Dynamo losing the shape-changing abilities that let him appear human. And if there’s anything this particular volume is about, it’s playing up all these new role changes, which really keep the events fresh and let these characters grow.

Just like its INVINCIBLE brethren, I think DYNAMO 5 is doing well to reclaim the breadth of what a superhero slugfest should be. Anymore it seems like the really high-powered books let some big event be the bringer of collateral damage while relegating the “real” action to a few panels here and there for dramatic tension. DYNAMO 5 says “eff that” and throws people through buildings left and right. The thrust of this collection is the spawn of Captain Dynamo going head to head with the spawn of Dominex, a big bad that took Captain D, Omniman of INVINCIBLE fame, and even Supreme to take down. Four issues of nonstop slugfestery and you’ve got some defining character moments going down – primarily for Hector – and the property damage these power levels command.

An “aftermath” issue and a Christmas Special later and you have another quality outing by one of my favorite capes and tights books out there. To toy with the pun the title of this book commands, it really is the family dynamic that makes this book work, but it never forgets what makes a superhero comic a superhero comic. The art holds up well in transition from co-creator Mahmud Asrar’s stuff to Brilha’s here. They are pretty reminiscent styles, too, with more traditional superhero figures and heavy on the background details (and just enough emoting to make the character stuff hit home of course). I have to admit, though, I’m a big fan of Marcio Takara’s take on the cast and crew from the X-Mas Special. Such a unique flavor that one is.

So, yeah, character development: Good! High-powered action: Good! DYNAMO 5… good is underselling it quite a bit. Here’s to hoping that five volumes in this book is just getting rolling. Judging by the cast being built and some of the decisions being made, I think that’s a safe assumption, and I’ll be making more bookcase space in anticipation. Obviously, I recommend those of you who feel they need a steady dose of a book like this give a volume a try and see if it’s worth a couple inches on your shelf as well. Cheers…

Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a Blogger Account where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.


SUICIDE GIRLS #1-2

Plot: Steve Niles, Missy Suicide, & Brea Grant
Script: Brea Grant
Art: David Hahn (pencils) & Cameron Stewart (inks)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


Having seen a few of the Suicide Girls Burlesque shows then they’ve come through Chicago, I have to say my antennae twitched when I saw a SUICIDE GIRLS comic book on the racks. Seeing Steve Niles name also piqued my interest since usually, when it comes to the uncanny, Niles has a good handle on it. Seeing HEROES speedster Brea Grant’s name on the cover made me wonder if the frantic fun she conveyed in the zombie flapper miniseries WE WILL BURY YOU last year was just a fluke. Turns out I was right in picking the first two issues of SUICIDE GIRLS up since both story (done by Niles and Grant) and the script (by Grant) are a whole lotta sexy and a whole lotta fun.

Those unfamiliar with the Suicide Girls should know they are an organization of free-wheelin’ fully tattooed punk girlz living to express their selves and especially their sexuality to life’s fullest. The burlesque shows are always a great time to listen to some awesome music, down some beers, and watch ultra-hot goth and punk ladies dance and sway on stage.

Making a comic book around the concept of the Suicide Girls might be a difficult thing to do. That is, if you’re not Steve Niles and Brea Grant. In this comic (set in the near future), society has been overcome by conformity. Anything unique and abnormal is scrubbed away in favor of a bland and predictable existence. These are the concepts that are kryptonite to a Suicide Girl. Staging a rebellion from these tyrants of the bland are the Suicide Girls, a much cooler version of CHARLIE’S ANGELS with tattoos and a tendency to make out with one another and show their nubblies.

Niles and Grant have constructed a nice strict world for these deviant girls to wreak havoc in. Breaking out our heroine Frank from prison, the Suicide Girls realize that their newest addition is harder to handle than they first perceived. All Frank wanted to do is find her girlfriend Xenia. Unbeknownst to her, that’s the mission of the Suicide Girls too, for different reasons. It all plays out with a fun women’s prison/action movie vibe with sharp dialog provided by Grant. Her handling of the quips these girls utter is spot on and natural.

Enough with the story, you might be shouting at your computer. How do the girls look? Well, David Hahn’s art is gorgeous. His depiction of these sassy lasses highlights the curve of the woman’s form excellently, yet still gives them a raw edge to make them just grungy enough to be dangerous. The little details such as each girl’s tattoos and especially the laced piercings on Frank’s back which act as a sheath for her sword are nice little touches that celebrate the underground lifestyle that the Suicide Girls embrace.

Grant and Niles are doing a fantastic job of taking a bunch of pinup girls and making them characters in an adventure straight out of the grindhouse. Each issue also features a backup by Missy Suicide (one of the Suicide Girls’ founders) depicting the secret organization of the Suicide Girls through the ages. There’s also scores of pinup pictures and drawings of actual Suicide Girls in the back of each book. I’s loves me some goth girls and if you’re like me, you’re going to love this SUICIDE GIRLS miniseries. Be sure to check it out!

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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HOWARD STERN #1

Writer: CW Cooke
Artist: Kent Hurlburt
Publisher: Bluewater Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


“Don’t tell you Mother!” Whenever my father would start a sentence with that infamous family phrase, I knew he was about to introduce me to some new rite of passage for the men of the Patey family, or just something really naughty. Such was the case during an afternoon in 1982 when we were on our way to the Woodbridge mall. My Dad reached over, flipped on the radio and promptly headed to the AM bandwidth, a feat I had never seen in the entirety of my seven years on planet earth. AM is talk. Talk sucks. What came through the speakers of my Dad’s Honda Prelude, though, was a voice that would stay on my radio for the next 30 years. I love Howard Stern; the man was my induction into the sardonic attitude that seems a birth right for anyone from New York or the sixth borough of New Jersey. I’ve bought all the books, back in the day all the pay-per-view events, and each month I continue to happily pay my XM bonus subscription for the old Sirius content. I also love comic books – I only missed one Wednesday for reviews over the past four years a few weeks ago and that was only because all the blood in my body was streaming out of my ass. I would say my love of comics and Howard are on a pretty even keel.

So, with all this I give Bluewater a high and hearty congratulations for being able to not only take a steaming dump on one of my fondest childhood memories, but also raping my wallet and shattering my faith in the comic industry all with one comic book. HOWARD STERN (the comic) is a mess on so many levels, I might need to invent a new language to convey the combination of hurt, anger and general sense of soul molestation I am feeling right now.

First off, this is a kid friendly book. Way to know your demographic, Bluewater--a Howard Stern book without anything bawdy inside is called the Story of Imus. And Imus, as any Howard Stern fan knows, is a crypt keeper awaiting that final dirt nap once someone finally stakes him through the heart with a wooden dildo. Seriously, it’s mentioned a few times in this greatly condensed autobiography that “we can’t say more because this is for all ages.” I often wondered who bought any of Bluewater’s autobiographical line, and the answer after I plucked this one off the shelf is obviously fans of that particular celebrity or politician (best of luck selling any copies of the Kathy Griffin book that also came out last week). If the Bluewater demographic Gods agree with me, then wouldn’t logic dictate that possible buyers of this comic have listened to one of the million monologues Howard has performed over the years about his upbringing and career? Wouldn’t someone think that we had bought a copy of “Private Parts” and seen the movie? Wouldn’t someone…anyone…have the foresight to think that a book about Howard Stern should shift in tonality from, say, a book about Obama or Clinton, which a kid could reasonably pick up to do a book report? That answer is a big fat fucking no. I imagine the upcoming Kristen Stewart train wreck has a better chance of scintillating and salacious content than this ass reaming, because there’s no way a book could be more sanitized.

All of the key moments are in place from a plot perspective. We see Howard’s upbringing in Roosevelt, New York. Here’s the first part where I knew we would be in trouble. How do you tell a story of Howard’s relationship with his father without the phrase “sit down, shut up”? No, Bluewater presents a Ben Stern who is loving and caring in these opening panels, introducing Howard to a cast of voice actors that would ignite his love of radio. Anyone that listens to the show though knows Howard was inundated with lessons on how green tubes delivered a radio signal through modulation and some other fakey science bullshit or told ad nauseam to shut his mouth. Hey, I’m sure Ben loves his son, but in all the tapes I’ve heard over the years, Ben was never a teat of kindness; Ben’s lactation was betterment through berating. Then one panel later the book talks about how Howard was bullied as a kid. In this panel he’s being pushed around by a white guy. Again, anyone that knows Howard knows that the bullying didn’t occur from the one other white kid he went to school with. I don’t know if Bluewater has some insistence on being overly politically correct or our two creators have NEVER LISTENED TO ONE DAMN SHOW. If it’s the first part, if I was a person of color and a Howard stern fan, I would actually be offended by this change. We want to profess that political correctness is about leveling the playing field so we’re all equal. Well, if Howard was bullied by black kids, wouldn’t it be more all encompassing to tell the story how it happened? If the reason is for the latter, then shame on Bluewater for hiring Cook and Hurlburt. There’s a guy writing this article right now, who is a huge Howard Stern fan and also a comic writer. And even if I end up being “teh suck” as the kids say, there are a few million other people that could articulate the Howard story ten times better than this pulp autopsy. To be fair to Cook though, he very well may know the Howard story; this blumpkin reeks of an editorial mandate.

The rest of the book continues to offer pages upon pages of truncated and sanitized moments in Howard’s history. There’s simply not one moment in this hot mess that hasn’t been told better by Howard himself in a multitude of mediums.

I don’t like Hurlburt’s square style; there’s a reason the human form doesn’t have 90 degree angles. It’s heinous. This was the first time in my life I was actually turned off by porn stars. I fully understand, though, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so some folks might like this overly cartoonish approach. So let me explain why this sucks ass outside of style. It’s lazy as shit. Do you like your characters to have things on their face like a mouth, eyes and other things that should be on a face? Yeah, me too. Well, not Hurlburton. Want to see a women who look like women, with all of those goodly womanly parts that God gave them? Not Hurlburton. Do you…never mind…I can’t bring myself to waste more precious moments of life on this.

I imagine Howard is getting a cut of this book, and I have to say this disheartens me to no end. I have gladly given the man a great deal of my hard earned cash over the years because he created a brand of quality that I knew I could trust. His content is not for everybody, but it certainly has always been my proverbial cup of tea. I might…note the might…forgive Howard if he knew nothing of comics, and was simply trusting the guidance of others to transcend his brand into the comics medium. However, I know matter of factly Howard is a huge comic fan; he even has a family member in the business (or used to). I’ve known for a long-time now that Bluewater has no shame in plundering nostalgia or riding a news trend to make a buck, but if Howard approved this travesty, a little piece of me just died. I would rather read a comic written by Gary the Retard, drawn by Beetlejuice and distributed on used toilet paper by Hank the Dwarf's corpse.

Fafaflunkie…indeed!

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.


MYSTERY MEN #1

Writer: David Liss
Artist: Patrick Zircher
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: KletusCasady


NO this is not the comic that the Ben Stiller movie was based on, which I still have yet to see. NO this comic is not a comic book adaptation of that movie. Yes this is a new comic by David Liss that has nothing to do with those two properties. Yes there is some controversy surrounding the name. The original MYSTERY MEN was done by Bob Burden, including such characters as Flaming Carrot, Casanova Frankenstein & The Bowler and was put out by DC comics in 1999 (?). Apparently there is no trademark for the DC property MYSTERY MEN but allegedly MARVEL does have a trademark for MYSTERY MEN they took out in 2009 (according to an article I read on the interwebs…so take it as you will). Mystery Men was also the name given to costumed superheroes in the 30s and 40s (thanks wiki) and I think the title of this comic is more based on that than the DC comic. Now that I’ve got that out of the way…what the hell does all this have to do with the quality of this comic? Absolutely nothing but I thought it was worth mentioning. Anywho…this comic is pretty fucking good and Davis Liss is becoming one of my ‘must follow’ writers and this comic is a prime example of why.

The story behind this reads almost like a classic detective noir: beautiful lady, a framed anti-hero, corrupt cops, dead private detectives, Broadway shows, a demon lady who sinks into blood, sacrificial murders, a perverted general with power over minds, lost artifacts, an African American superhero that can catch {blank} with his {blank}…well maybe its not exactly like those stories but it is wrapped in that sort of setting. This issue does a great job of grabbing you from the opening sentence—“Maybe I’m not the most law abiding citizen around”—and from there the story pulls you in and takes the reader on a ride that almost seems like one you’ve been on before but feels new at the same time. The reason I say this is we’ve seen this particular setting before with a murder starting off a series of events that include police corruption, dead informants and a good looking but dangerous woman BUT Liss turns all that on its head here with the addition of a Robin Hood type protagonist, a mysterious hero named the Revenant and a sprinkle of the supernatural. I’ve mentioned this before but internal dialog can take a comic a really long way and this comic provides this in spades. Within a few panels we learn a great deal about our protagonist as well as the world in which he operates in a short amount of time. EVERY word in this comic is relevant and every illustration is the same; there is no wasted space here. This issue gives you all the info you need plus a little comedy and intrigue for good measure.

This comic has a feel like Straczynski’s THE TWELVE in that the characterizations are really great and the more one delves into the story, the more questions one has without leaving the reader lost and confused. Everything is presented in a way to give you just the tiniest sliver of information but it’s enough to wet your palate and leave you wanting to find out more. Even though the big picture is way out of reach, the smaller elements of this story are done well enough to leave you wanting to explore these characters and find out more. The dialog is smooth and almost reads like the great dialog of movies from this time period: I’ts quick witted, deft and full of information that opens doors to the mysteries of this story. One of Liss’s qualities as a comic book writer is that his issues feel complete; they leave you wanting more but after reading an issue, I feel content that my $3 was spent on a complete story rather than part of a story that I have to wait months to complete. I feel a lot of writers miss out on the opportunity to make a single issue a complete story while still tying it to a larger tapestry.

In the back of the issue, Liss praises Patrick Zircher for his work and he deserves it. Everything about this book is smooth, including the art--everything about it just felt right. For instance the scene where our protagonist and his lady first see each other at the party…you know they’re in love, there’s no dialog but the way the faces are rendered is fantastic and leaves no emotion to be guessed at. The art is great and captures the time period wonderfully. Every damn panel looks good and every page is a really great scene. Dare I say this is a perfect comic…no…no…must…maintain some objectivity…gush levels must be lowered…deep breathes must be taken.

In a time where DC and MARVEL (mostly DC) are looking for new readers, Liss provides a reason for them ignite a passion for comics. These are good stories, and that, my friends, is what gets new people into comics: not gimmicks, not starting every comic at #1 or giving characters flashy new costumes or changing the gender of an existing character. Just give readers something they want to share with their friends. In my opinion Liss is 2/2 in his MARVEL debut and I’m excited to see what he does next. I’ll be passing this comic around to my friends (and Lady Kletus) like a blunt at Snoop’s house because I know most of them will dig it. Hell, I even considered picking up one of David Liss’s novels because I like his comics this much…but we’ll...uh…see about that. Also, if you haven’t read the latest BLACK PANTHER MAN WITHOUT FEAR…PICK IT UP NOW…Black Panther vs. Kraven the Hunter….man oh man…shit is killer!!! David Liss has my undivided attention and my $3 anytime he’s on a book! This is highly recommended for anyone that wants to read something new, with a familiar feel without all that baggage that comes with a lot of superhero comics.


Advance Review: In stores in September!

THE THEATER #1

Writer: Raven Gregory
Art: Martin Monteil
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment


Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Though Zenescope is best known for its cheesecake covers which often attract the eye and the nether regions, it also is a great place to find horror. Take the new miniseries by Zenescope’s Raven Gregory, the twisted mind behind THE GIFT, FLY, GRIMM FAIRY TALES, THE WAKING, and the WONDERLAND Trilogy. Gregory’s latest horror epic is THE THEATER; a different type of horror comic with an ingenious twist.

Set in one of those old theaters, you know the kind—the kind that shows old horror films and second run features—the kind without the fancy seats or corporate sponsors—the kind of theater that I love! THE THEATER #1 tells the tale of a pair of lovebirds enjoying a horror film, but in the tradition of such movie-within-a-movie classics as POPCORN and maybe the more recent MIDNIGHT MOVIE, the horror is closer than they think. This theater seems to be run by someone with murder in mind and it looks like our couple is next on the marquee.

The coolest thing about THE THEATER is that not only does it tell the story of a theater run by serial killers, it also tells the story of the movie playing on the screen. So each issue features two terrors, one on the screen and one in the theater itself—an ultra-fun concept with loads of potential.

This issue’s creature feature is called THE CHANGE, also written by Gregory, focusing on the last days of the zombie plague. Though one might roll their eyes at yet another zombie story, this is a z-tale unlike the kind we’re used to. One of the things I am most sick of when it comes to zombie stories is the tale of the outbreak. It’s been done to death and Raven Gregory knows this. By focusing on the zombie plague’s final days and how the survivors are now rebuilding from the decimation, Gregory breathes new life in a corpse-like genre. This heartfelt tale of a father and son rebuilding their home after the plague is over is one of the best zombie short stories I’ve read in a while.

On top of the winner of a premise, this issue has some fantastic art by Martin Monteil. His gritty design has a Bernie Wrightson quality that oozes creep and darkness, though some of the human forms seem similar to Whilce Portacio’s pencils. No matter what Monteil’s art looks similar to, it’s good and I’m definitely going to take a mental note of his name and look for more work from him in the future. The washed out colors by Michael P. Garcia add to the creep factor.

Though this series doesn’t drop until September, be sure to be on the look out for Zenescopes next hot horror comic. It’s real deal horror reeling the reader in with characters with real emotion, then biting them for getting too close. Both the terrors on the screen and in the theater could carry their own issue—put together and this is a winner of a first issue. I can’t wait to check out the rest of this series when it hits the stands in September.


SCREAMLAND #1
Image Comics

Probably one of my favorite comics I read this week. SCREAMLAND dares to ask the question; what if the stars of all of those classic monsters of yesteryear were real? Then follows up with; with the demand for classic monsters on the decline, what would happen to those monsters after their glory days are over? This horror farce follows the washed up careers of the Wolf Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man, and a few other classic monster archtypes as they try to make ends meet on the sad existence that is the convention circuit. If you’ve ever been at conventions and seen the lonely aisles of z-list actors pawning their glossy photos and autographs for bucks, you’ll recognize these characters. But writers Harold Sipe and Christopher Sebela don’t just make fun on conventions and their participants, they actually set up a compelling story with likable characters and a pretty intriguing mystery. When a sex tape featuring some of the classic monsters is threatened to be shown at the convention, the ghouls band together to try to stop it; but who is picking off these monsters one by one? The answers aren’t in this issue, but the setup, a whole lotta laughs, some fantastically cartoony art by Lee Leslie, and a helluva cliffhanger are. SCREAMLAND is my new favorite miniseries. I can’t help but root for these washed up monsters to have a second chance and save both the day and their careers. It’s classic monsters meet ENTORAGE and it’s all fun! - Ambush Bug


DEATHSTROKE: THE CURSE OF THE RAVAGER #1DC Comics

Why is this comic good? For one, it finally gives Deathstroke something to do. I’ve really liked this character ever since I read “The Judas Contract” (his fight scene in IDENTITY CRISIS is stellar) but lately it seems that, while being one of the more badass villains in the DCU, he hasn’t really had that much to drive him. Deathstroke’s story in the midst of the chaos that is FLASHPOINT has provided that drive. In case you are wondering what the hell I’m talking about, Deathstroke (in the FLASHPOINT universe) is modern day pirate searching for his daughter Rose (aka Ravager) among the…umm…ravaged seas patrolled by no other than Emperor Aquaman (ooooohh, scary huh…not really…I don’t care if you call him Rapist Aquaman, the dude is not scary). Deathstroke is one of those characters that if done right could work in any setting; he could be a little league baseball coach with a side job of assassinations, he could be a plumber with his ass hanging out killing his customers, he could be in a double-dutch match with Oprah and…ok I’m done. This story works because Deathstroke while being a villain shows somewhat of a soft side here even though he’s ripping through other pirate ships like the Deathstroke we know and love. From the recruitment of his crew, to Slade’s internal dialog leading us through the Flashpoint landscape, to the great use of underused villains (poor Sonar), Palmiotti does a great job of keeping things interesting and making this story is worth checking out. The art by Joe Bennett is pretty damn good, and gritty too, which fits this story well but I was surprised they didn’t give Jim Califiore any credit for finishing up the last few pages of the book. Maybe they thought they could pull a fast one on old Kletus but naaaw. Also the cover is great! - KletusCasady


KA-ZAR #1
Marvel Comics


I’m loving Ka-Zar’s guest appearance in the current SKAAR miniseries and I’m glad Marvel’s Tarzan is getting such spotlight these days. With Paul Jenkins at the writing helm, this proves to be another fun jaunt through the Savage Land with Ka-Zar and Shanna attempting to unite the warring tribes of the time-forgotten land peacefully. Of course, there are tribes who aren’t following suit. At times, I found artist Pascal Alixe’s panels to be a feast for the eyes (Jesus Aburto and Jorge Maese have a lot to do with this with their delicious coloring), but Alixe’s pencils are often light and sketchy, leaving some of the forms ungrounded in the panel. On top of that, I hate the way he draws Ka-Zar’s hair which looks more like a drag queen wig than an unkempt mane of gold locks. Aside from those nitpicks, this is another fun series focusing on lesser known areas of Marvel (aka the miniseries that I tend to love). - Ambush Bug



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

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Readers Talkback

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  • June 15, 2011, 8:51 a.m. CST

    Eternally FIRST -- Eternally DOOM!

    by V. von Doom

    Beat you again, minions!

  • June 15, 2011, 8:58 a.m. CST

    Optimous, Hear DOOM: Stern's In It For The MONEY!

    by V. von Doom

    A sad day, indeed, when our heroes are revealed to be capitalists! DOOM nevertheless predicts a special issue of Stern's bio will appear with all the good bits left in, available only in San Diego and featuring a triple-metallic ink alternate fold-out homage to the cover of Fantastic Four #1 ...

  • June 15, 2011, 9:05 a.m. CST

    Ambush Bug: DOOM Demands Debate On The New DC IMPLOSION!

    by V. von Doom

    To preserve the policy of reviews-only-in-this-column, you must start another talkback on the Big DC Reset Button of 2011 ... Soon ... very soon ... very, VERY soon ... DOOM's righteous anger is making his armor seethe ...! It must find release in talkbacks!

  • June 15, 2011, 9:14 a.m. CST

    Suicide Girls was cooler ten years ago.

    by rev_skarekroe

    Well, it was!

  • June 15, 2011, 9:26 a.m. CST

    DC REBOOT DISCUSSION SOON DOOM

    by optimous_douche

  • June 15, 2011, 9:31 a.m. CST

    I hope Bob Burden sues the shit out of Marvel for Mystery Men

    by deelzbub

    That is screwed up (screwier than Screwball). I don't think Mystery Men was a DC imprint. I know Burden has changed publishers at least three times, but he is still publishing Mystery Men and Flaming Carrot and All-Villain Comics.

  • June 15, 2011, 9:35 a.m. CST

    DOOM Thanks You, Optimous, And The Other @ssholes!

    by V. von Doom

    Keep flying the flag for the rest of us!

  • June 15, 2011, 9:38 a.m. CST

    Can't handle Zenescope's interior art anymore

    by Laserhead

    Man, those Zenescope stories have great concepts and terrific cheesecake-covers... then you open the book and the thing looks like it was drawn by an epileptic badger. Ugh. I got burnt on the Wonderland series and Neverland. Something like thirty comics waiting for just ONE decent interior artist... nada. Spend some money on artists for things besides covers, Zenescope. Let's get that DCU discussion talkback going. I have a few pronouncements to make.

  • June 15, 2011, 9:39 a.m. CST

    Think Suicide Girls is kind of sad now

    by Laserhead

    The way people crying 'look at me, look at me' are kind of sad.

  • June 15, 2011, 9:41 a.m. CST

    Didn't we already DO a DC reboot discussion?

    by rev_skarekroe

    A week ago? 99% of fans agree it's a stupid idea. What more do you want to discuss?

  • Amirite? Some of the models are cute, though. The comic was beyond stupid, but the actual models (some of them, anyway) are kinda cute in a "we're attention starved / overcompensating / getting revenge on daddy" way. Oh, and none of them are as cute as my girlfriend who, rightfully so, thinks piercings and too-many-tattoos are both kinda gross and sad. Can you imagine what these girls will look like in 10, 20 years? When the ink has faded to a greenish blur and the nose rings are a reminder of bad decisions and eternal embarrassment? *Shudders*

  • June 15, 2011, 10:11 a.m. CST

    Always hated tattoos on ladies

    by Laserhead

    Why vandalize nature's highest aesthetic achievement?

  • June 15, 2011, 10:52 a.m. CST

    the reason I'm attracted to Suicide Girls

    by Eddie_Dane

    They all look like they would be really easy to have sex with.

  • June 15, 2011, 12:09 p.m. CST

    rev_skarekroe

    by V. von Doom

    Last week's threads were not a thoroughgoing discussion. Ambush Bug was letting the DC folks off easy in return for information/propaganda. This needs to be a discussion with all the @ssholes. Especially including all the old guard fanboys -- DOOM imagines Professor Challenger is crapping a brick, for example. (DOOM is crapping entire Latverian-style brick houses!) Just the thought of renumbering Action and Detective ... that, alone, is nigh to comics blasphemy.

  • June 15, 2011, 2:01 p.m. CST

    Annihilators

    by irongeezer

    Thanks, Imp, you took the words right out of my mouth. It had to be doubly tough for DnA to follow what was, in my opinion, the best space saga Marvel's ever done and write a story for near-omnipotent characters that still contains suspense, and frankly the 4 issues show that. When I heard this was planned I was very excited; then disappointed when I learned it was only a mini, given they had shelved the fantastic Nova monthly; then finally relieved it was only a mini as it was just not worth it. I actually had the same reaction to Pak's Surfer mini given what he did with Hulk - the Surfer story was just flat, and wasting 3 & 1/2 issues on him as Norrin Radd instead of the Surfer seemed like so much indulgence. PS Kletus - definitely watch Mystery Men. It was on cable this past weekend and i forgot just how funny it was.

  • June 15, 2011, 2:21 p.m. CST

    Predictable Failure of Annihilators

    by Homer Sexual

    I am apparently one of the few who didn't love Thanos Imperative. It was the lamest of the many minis and ongoing Guardians, IMHO. I admit I am not a huge DnA fan, but I don't have a problem with them either, but Thanos Imperative killed off most of the more interesting characters. There were exactly zero characters of interest in Annihilators. At best, a couple of them are ok when interacting with far more intriguing characters. For example, Ronan blows but his interaction with Crystal gave him a minor level of interest. I expected Annihilators to be a snoozer, the first issue confirmed, I didn't buy the rest. But IIRC, it wasn't origanlly a 4 issue mini, so there you go.

  • June 15, 2011, 2:25 p.m. CST

    Annihilators was not a good idea.

    by Homer Sexual

    am apparently one of the few who didn't love Thanos Imperative. It was the lamest of the many minis and ongoing Guardians, IMHO. I admit I am not a huge DnA fan, but I don't have a problem with them either, but Thanos Imperative killed off most of the more interesting characters. There were exactly zero characters of interest in Annihilators. At best, a couple of them are ok when interacting with far more intriguing characters. For example, Ronan blows but his interaction with Crystal gave him a minor level of interest. I expected Annihilators to be a snoozer, the first issue confirmed, I didn't buy the rest. But IIRC, it wasn't origanlly a 4 issue mini, so there you go.

  • June 15, 2011, 5:02 p.m. CST

    OMG I am so sorry....

    by Homer Sexual

    My computer kept saying that it needed to open a file and I kept clicking cancel, Ithought my comment wasnt posting... so sorry! BTW, a DC reboot thread would be great so we can be specific about what we don't (and occasionally DO) like about the reboot, as opposed to just giving our overall impressions.

  • June 15, 2011, 5:50 p.m. CST

    Nobody tell the "Suicides Girls" that its still just stripping

    by JackieJokeman

    It doesnt become art just because you call it burlesque

  • Seriously, I'm surprised it took them this long. And as somebody here mentioned, they were way cooler 10 years ago when it was just about Bad Girl Tatoo Porn. I didn't even know they were doing the lame overdone Burlesque Show bit till I read this review.

  • June 16, 2011, 9:51 a.m. CST

    God, Marvel

    by deelzbub

    Fear Itself Fearsome Four managed to mishandle all if its principal characters. And with shitty art. And you thought DC was dropping the ball. Marvel is doing the same whilst slipping on a banana peel.

  • June 16, 2011, 10:25 a.m. CST

    deelzbub

    by Homer Sexual

    No! Say it isn't so, I just bought that comic last night based on the AICN review. Haven't read it yet. Did read the first two issues of Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt and they rocked. I'm not reading Fear Itself but Youth in Revolt has a lot of interesting characters.

  • June 16, 2011, 11:32 a.m. CST

    sorry homer

    by deelzbub

    hope I didnt spoil it for you. Got a big bag o' comics last nite, and it was the first one I read this morning. Man-Thing and Howard being two of my fav's. Hope it isn't an omen for the rest of my purchases. Let me know how you like it.

  • June 16, 2011, 12:05 p.m. CST

    Interested to hear what you thought of FEARSOME 4 Homer.

    by Ambush Bug

    I liked it.

  • June 16, 2011, 12:33 p.m. CST

    by Bob Wire

    Man- Thing was awesome!

  • June 16, 2011, 2:39 p.m. CST

    Bug, kinda surprised you liked it

    by deelzbub

    esp the way the artist drew Howard. Looked like the movie version.

  • June 18, 2011, 11:27 a.m. CST

    Agree w/ you Bug on Ka-Zar

    by deelzbub

    I really don't care for that type of artwork in the comics I purchase. Yes, some of the scenery is drawn very nicely. But on the whole, it appears that you're viewing it all through a diffuser or something. Like a haze over all the pages with no hard lines anywhere. I love Ka-Zar, Shanna, and the Savage Land, but I probably won't pick this up again until they change the artist. I sound like a hater, but when comics are $4 and up, I gotta be picky.