AICN COMICS REVIEWS: DC’s FLASHPOINT! ALPHA FLIGHT! GODZILLA! HELLRAISER! & MORE!
|Issue #8||Release Date: 6/15/11||Vol.#10|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: DAMAGED #1
FLASHPOINT @$$essment: Week 3 & 4!
AVENGERS ACADEMY #15
ROBERT BLOCH’S THAT HELLBOUND TRAIN #1
FLASHPOINT–DEADMAN & THE FLYING GRAYSONS #1
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #505
GODZILLA: GANGSTERS & GOLIATHS #1
FLASHPOINT—LOIS LANE & THE RESISTANCE #1 / FLASHPOINT-WONDER WOMAN & THE FURIES #1
ALPHA FLIGHT #1
Advance Review: In stores in August!
DAMAGED #1Creators: Michael Schwarz, John Schwarz, & Sam Worthington
Writer: David Lapham
Art: Leonard Manco
Publisher: Radical Comics / Full Clip
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
DAMAGED starts out with an amazing action sequence that immediately tells you that this is a comic that goes for the gut. A man decked in ammo breaks into a bar and accuses some of the patrons of raping and killing some girls. The carnage he wreaks afterwards is a clear indication that this man is not to be effed with and this comic is the kind of balls out action I love to see.
DAMAGED tells the story of two very different brothers; one, Frank, a decorated police task force leader who knows and follows the law to the letter. The other, Henry, operates outside of the law, sees how corrupt the system is, and has decided to be a one man wrecking ball to organized crime. Though in this issue, it appears that they haven’t seen each other in years, Frank knows Henry’s handiwork even before he sees his brother. This seems to be a story of brothers at odds. Not a story that is completely out of the ordinary. My own brother and I are vastly different from one another. But set to the backdrop of a corrupt, mafia ridden city, and the tension between two brothers on opposite sides of the law (one a cop, the other a vigilante) is taken to a Shakespearian level. Writer David Lapham is usually skilled with dialog, but recently has been making waves coming up with some of the sickest shit ever to be paneled on a page with his runs on CROSSED and CALIULA at Avatar. Here, he reigns in the shock and makes this a more realistic take on justice as seen through two vastly different lenses.
Leonard Manco was always an artist I watched out for, but he seems to have fallen off the earth recently. His work here and in BOOM!’s HELLRAISER (reviewed below), shows that he still is one of the most talented artists in the biz. His handling of both the grit of action and gore and the delicate detailings of his faces shows a range few artists can match. Even in smaller panels, there’s a texture and detail to the faces that one rarely sees. Manco has always been good, but lately he’s become a finely tuned artistic machine.
DAMAGED plays out like a movie and I’m sure, given Radical’s track record and the production studio, Full Clip, backing and providing story ideas for this miniseries, that it will go for a cinematic adaptation. If it looks anything like the comic I just read, I’d love to see a film version. As is, DAMAGED is a gritty police noir with gripping drama and visuals that gouge their way into your mind so you won’t forget them. I highly recommend you check out DAMAGED when it hits stores in August.
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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FLASHPOINT @$$essmentPublisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
As we climb the first leg of Freytag’s coveted pyramid in FLASHPOINT, there’s still little word on the exact moment in history Reverse Flash altered to bring about this different world (hmmm…perhaps he snuffed out Lisa Bonet), but I’m loving the hell out of the differences being delivered. I’m sorry, I’m an Elseworlds whore and I wouldn’t ask for any other way to snuff out the old as we get ready for the new. Some entries stand out while some falter. Overall, though, this is DC’s best crossover batting average on quality and originality in a long time. All right, let’s hit the books.
GRODD OF WAR #1
Writer: Sean Ryan/Artist: Ig Guara
GRODD is good. Damn good! Actually, GRODD is the most interesting “person” in this week’s offerings. Most writers have no idea what to do with the famed telepathic gorilla, generally relegating him to the punch line of same lame fucking monkey joke. In the FLASHPOINT-verse, GRODD gets a promotion from B-list villain to global bad-ass as a world conqueror along with despots Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Despite ruling the African continent, GRODD is bored and Ryan makes this lament damn interesting. Guara’s art helps cement what happens when brutality gets bored. I’m in this one for all three, less because of its importance to FLASHPOINT, and more because it was just a lot of disturbing fun.
WONDER WOMAN AND THE FURIES #1
Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Art: Scott Clark
Well, I thought this was going to be a tale where the Wonder Woman costume debate was finally ended: she dresses as a teddy bear that fucks other teddy bears. However, a quick Google search showed me that Furries are different from Furies. Once I got my pants back on and started reading though, this was a fine tale, and the first time I’ve actually given a shit about Wonder Woman. FURIES is actually a pivotal piece in the entire FLASHPOINT hullabaloo. Starting with Wonder Woman’s first trip off her Amazonian island, instead of coming directly to America she ends up running into Emperor Aquaman and a wee baby kraken. Aquaman saves her and takes her back to Atlantis for some healing…some sexual healing. Wait, still fantasizing. Actually, there’s nothing sexual between the two of them. The wedding that led to the ultimate war where the Amazons take over England and the Atlanteans flood the rest of Europe was a marriage of politics, and as always with politics there is discord. Certain parties on both sides are not happy about this joyous union or exposing their cultures to the outside world. The destruction part of FLASHPOINT starts with an assassination. The rest is alternate reality history…or future. I don’t know, temporal anomalies confuse me. Just read the book.
LEGION OF DOOM #1
Writer: Adam Glass/Artist: Rodney Buchemi
This one needs help. As much fun as it was to see the ol’ Darth Vader-shaped Legion headquarters rise out of a North Carolina swamp, it took a long time getting there and its existence in the FLASHPOINT-verse is slightly ridiculous. My first problem with the book was the internal thought narrative by Heatwave. Clichéd to the extreme. My second problem lies in the fact that in the FLASHPOINT-verse, the Legion hall was built by Green Arrow to serve as a prison for meta-villains. So why does it hide in a swamp? Fuck if I know. For the same reason that all real prisons are painted in camouflage so they blend into their environment. Oh wait, I’m sorry that’s the TARD-verse. That doesn’t ever happen. The core of the story is a prison break with a surprise guest at the end. That’s all I got on this one. Sorry.
KID FLASH LOST #1
Writer: Sterling Gates/Artist: Oliver Nome
Gates has testicles the size of the Daily Planet globe. If you’re going to riff off of two existing geek properties, it takes a big man, a big balled man, to acknowledge it right in the book. Bart Allen will forever be the Horseshack of the DC Universe. This kid gets shit on more than a German porn star. Not only does Bart wake up in the FLASHPOINT-verse, but he wakes up in the future of the FLASHPOINT-verse, the 30th century to be specific. Wait, I’m not done. Bart’s tether to the speed force hasn’t transformed his memories like everyone else in the DC universe. Like Barry, Bart remembers what the world should be. This issue also sheds some light on why Patty Spivot was resurrected by Johns during the closing issues of THE FLASH. She’s helpful. As for the two prior geek properties leveraged to create this issue, all I’m going to say is “Whoa” and “1.21 gigawatts”. Nome draws a damn pretty book, especially the splash page of the Brainiac-controlled future. Bart’s a good kid; it’s nice to see someone other than Barry get some page time. Oh, and for all the Barry haters out there, you’ll love, love, love the opening pages.
THE OUTSIDER #1
Writer: James Robinson/Artist: Javi Fenandez
Pick up this book for the first three pages alone. Never has a super birth been so powerfully portrayed and destructive. I was intrigued by the holographic outline of The Outsider in the opening FLASHPOINT book and now I think I’m falling into brolove with this guy. The Outsider is what Lex Luthor used to be before people tried to humanize him by making his nefarious deeds for the betterment of humanity. The Outsider is like honey badger, he just doesn’t give a shit about anything but his suit and mo money.
LOIS LANE & THE RESISTANCE #1
Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Artist: Eddie Nunez
This thing was phenomenal. With no Superman in the world, Lois can stand on her own and stand she does. Starting just minutes before Aquaman floods Paris, this piece moved with the same briskness and force of that fateful fictional tsunami. Lois is able to escape the flood, but a certain cub reporter is not so lucky. It’s a shame actually because as Lois learns from Jimmy’s camera he was actually working with Cyborg on a mission to infiltrate the Amazon-controlled United Kingdom. It’s nice to see Lois doing some stuff, but it also would have been nice to see Jimmy do something other than need saving…although the darker side of me also admires the chutzpah in making his last words glub, glub, glub. I really think this one has legs other than the long limber limbs of the Amazonians and Lois.
REVERSE FLASH #1
Writer: Scott Kolins/Artist: Joel Gomez
This one left me slightly confused, perhaps because I was looking for more than it was ready to deliver. Kolins does a wonderful job of getting inside the craw of the Reverse Flash to see what makes him tick; we also get a nice rundown of Reverse Flash’s past attempts to derail the existence and/or happiness of Barry Allen. I loved the part where Reverse Flash moves around Barry at super-speed during his formative years, giving a logical explanation for Barry’s time as an absolute putz before he became The Flash. The issue ends with Reverse Flash paying a visit to Barry’s mom after Barry leaves for school one day. I guess I was hoping this would reveal the inciting moment of FLASHPOINT, but I just can’t believe that doing something to Barry’s mom would negate the existence of Batman, Superman and twenty-five years of continuity. I’m sure there are surprises in store, but I just can’t see The Flash as the fulcrum for the entire DC Universe.
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.
HELLRAISER #1-2Writer: Clive Barker & Christopher Monfette
Art: Leonardo Manco
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Reviewer: The Taffeta Darling
So I must start off by admitting that I have no real history with Barker's HELLRAISER series. I do know that he wrote only the first flick of the franchise, which I have seen a handful of times. Before reading this comic I couldn't tell you what the little square box was for, or who and what the name of those dudes with the skin pulled back exposing their gnarly teeth are [I am now aware of the Cenobites, BTW].
After reading BOOM’s HELLRAISER #1, I feel much more adequate along with the rest of you gore and guts fans. With “The Pursuit of the Flesh” back in the hands of its original creator, Clive Barker revisits his characters with a chilling new chapter in the franchise’s lore. The chronicles told and imagery will transfix readers from the first flip of the page.
The story begins with an adolescent runaway girl ensnared in a white padded room, screaming to get out, yet no one is coming to liberate her. The room is dark when suddenly a light turns on to reveal a small box. Without real reasoning she is bound to this puzzle until she solves it and opens the inlet to Hell. Once solved, Pinhead and his gruesome Cenobites come forth on command. Obviously the girl screams and begs for mercy; however, Pinhead’s the OG of Master/Slave BDSM, and watches callously as the chains fillet the young runaway, tearing her flesh apart while painting the cell with her innards.
There is a pugnacious air sweeping the outside world. A group led by the Meddler are out to destroy these deadly music boxes while sending the Cenobites into an empty chasm. Pinhead most definitely welcomes this malevolent chess game and major players are coming into play. I am more excited to read the second issue than I previously thought. The writing duo of Barker and Christopher Monfette gives way for a new genesis of fans to leap into the storyline without disappointing long-time devotees.
Leonardo Manco’s imagination is something to revel about. His church organ made from the dead bodies totally reminds me of the Chapel of All Saints homed in the Czech Republic. Manco’s macabre and ghoulish visions exude a gory style that had me quivering for more. Presented with such coarse inventiveness, HELLRAISER #1 is packed with enough horror imagery to keep both old and new fans craving for more.
HELLRAISER #2 is another excellent issue. I’ve found before that when a series comes out of the gates ready for action, as HELLRAISER #1 did, the second issue will have some sort of downfall while it illuminates more of the story. Issue #2 maintains an esoteric cloak of darkness, but gives enough light on the key elements so that the readers are not lost during obscure peaks.
In this issue Kristy Cotton [mean and rotten, gone to hell, but not forgotten], rallies her crew of survivors to decide whether or not if they should break into the house containing the artifact, the music box that holds their curiosity. After much discussion, they mount up Regulators style and go after the box. Though they break into the house and tie up the family, they’re not out to kill or hurt this family in particular; more so to save them from opening the gates of hell unbeknownst. Kristy and her survivors then pray and intentionally perform the ritual to open the gates. What creatures do come out of the portal are destroyed while the entrance is closed for good.
The story maintains my interest and seems to switch POVs. It takes on Kristy’s side of the lore and introduces a priest who has lost his faith and an expensive hooker. The collaboration between Barker and Monfette submits the dialogue in a round table sort of way, giving each character a chance to speak from their own POV. We don’t have much of the Pinhead in this issue, but what we do get is awfully powerful.
Again, artist Leonardo Manco, does his thing to bring the eerie and gore-tastic to each scene and character while they have their chance to talk. There’s plenty of angle change-ups and close ups, bringing personality and creepiness to each page. Horror can be hard to get across, meaning rarely do I get goose bumps when looking at a comic with gore.
The Cenobites come across in perfect ghoulish form. The art alone is enough to keep me intrigued with this series, but the fact that the writing is impeccable separates this from any horror comic I have read.
Be sure to check out The Taffeta Darling’s comics blog “Curves & Comics”!
AVENGERS ACADEMY #15Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Tom Raney
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee
I know I’m not the first @$$hole to gush about this book and I’m hoping I’m not the last, but yeah, the praise machine is getting fired up. And it is all for good reason as – and I know this is a bit on the hyperbolic side – but this title is why I still buy superhero comics, despite the frustrations that tend to come with them. Especially being a superhero book inside of a larger corporate machine, as decisions to make these books more marketable, as we have all seen firsthand in recent weeks with the big DC revamp. Being that this particular issue of AA is a part of another company “dictate” (which as a good a word as I can think of for an “event” given how pervasive they are these days) it’s a slippery slope on how these circumstances can be handled. In this case, Christos Gage and company use this opportunity to exemplify why this title is so good.
AVENGERS ACADEMY has lived and thankfully not yet died on its desire to tell (shock) a character story. A character story about kids with powers who got them in a terrible manner (forced/brought out of them by Norman Osborn) and who have to come with grips of the reality and future they bring with them. In a very RUNAWAYS style these kids have had to face these things and have done so with the influence and contact of the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe. They’ve learned some things about how great and shitty having powers can be, they’ve learned some things about great and shitty other super powered can be, and they’ve learned, most importantly, about themselves. Watching growth, I would think, is why we enjoy our stories (and yes, I just used a soap opera term for comics, sad but true)--to see where these characters are going next and hoping they are built up accordingly. An event tie-in like FEAR ITSELF could easily be a money grab for a fledgling title thanks to the temporary banner or it could be what I alluded to earlier, an opportunity for the creative team to step up its stakes a little bit while using the tapestry an universe like Marvel’s brings.
The calamity of FEAR ITSELF here ends up being the prime chance for Gage to put his batch of kids through yet another wringer. But while the first real “facing one’s mortality” moment these kids faced was when coming into conflict with Korvac, this scenario is more a “facing true evil” moment for the team. War, basically--the kids are going to war. Not only is this a harrowing experience for these kids as they get a real fine glimpse as to why superheroes exist but it’s just as harsh for their teachers as they have to send their students off to their possible deaths. That’s also been another high point of this series, is seeing well established characters such as Hank Pym and Tigra et al getting a chance to show off their years but learn a few new things about themselves in the ridiculous world they live in. A father figure role seems absolutely perfect now for Hank Pym now that I’ve watched him written into it for fifteen issues now. And the give and take relationship all these dumb teens with their powers have had with their administers has really helped this tried and true story or kids growing into their lives and abilities play at a bit of a different and better level.
The one downside to using this approach to raise profile as well as raise stakes is that, honestly, too much has already gone on in AA that this really may not be the fitting jumping on point this book could use to get better readership. The emphasis on this issue being more about Pym’s protectiveness of the characters is a great place to start for familiarity purposes, but there’s a lot of personalities at play to really just “jump in.” But they will be treated to a story of fear and loathing and heroics and great art that really helps emphasize all the emotion and chaos going on, so in the end I guess you really can’t go wrong with hoping someone picks this up and is intrigued enough to go back and get the TPBs. I know I can’t emphasize that enough as a lump reading is how I got into this series about a month ago and that was a half-afternoon well spent, as is the $2.99 (they still exist!) I’ve started putting down on this each month. When you can weave an issue like this, that takes your “traditional” event and uses it as a means to grow everyone in your cast instead of just being a cash in, you deserve all the cash that follows. And for once I’m rooting for the event because I really hope this worked, as I want to continue to see these characters (or hell, maybe even a new set of them) grow up while getting more issues like this. 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.
ROBERT BLOCH’S THAT HELLBOUND TRAIN #1Writer: Robert Bloch
Adapted by Joe R. Lansdale & John L. Lansdale
Art: Dave Watcher
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
IDW has always been one of the leaders in comic book horror and they prove it once again with this adaptation of Robert Bloch’s tale THAT HELLBOUND TRAIN. Having never read the story, it was all new to me, but I found myself riveted to this story from page one to last. The Lansdales (Joe R. and John L.) adapt this moody tale about a young man whose father was hit by a mythical Hellbound Train--a demon transit made of wrought iron and skeletons, breathing brimstone into the night sky and carrying tortured souls.
Living a life full of adventure and tragedy, Martin was scarred deeply the night his father was taken away by the train, yet seems to be drawn to railroads all his life. When he encounters the evil train and its gaunt conductor, Martin makes a deal. We all know how those deals work out, don’t we?
Dave Watcher offers up a sketchy pen to this issue, which is defined enough to let us see some cool details, but sketchy enough to inspire some chills when he’s drawing something out of the ordinary. There’s an especially gruesome scene where Watcher draws a body literally exploding from impact with a train that’s as gruesome as panels come. And I loved every bit of it. Not a lot of flair comes from Watcher’s art, but one isn’t needed with this story.
The Lansdales construct a nice gothic tale from Bloch’s story, telling a straight forward tale of horror and tragedy. Though I’m not sure how long this miniseries is, I was definitely intrigued with what’s going to happen to the young boy now that a deal has been struck. Having grown up in a town where I could hear the train passing through town every night, I related to Martin as his imagination gets the best of him every time the train goes by. THAT HELLBOUND TRAIN is one of those stories that you can read late at night and get yourself good and spooked. Can’t wait to see what happens next!
FLASHPOINT—DEADMAN AND THE FLYING GRAYSONS #1 (of 3)Writer: J.T. Krul
Artist: Mikel Janin
Publisher: DC Comics
I’ve gotten so burned out by the seemingly endless slew of event books published by the Big Two over the past few years that I automatically avoided FLASHPOINT. But then I was looking at the comics on the stands last week, and this fantastic, fun cover by Cliff Chiang and Jared Fletcher practically jumped off the rack and begged me to take it home with me. Once I got a gander at the pages beneath that cover and saw that the interior art was just as incredible as the cover, I eagerly forked over three bucks to find out what kind of story had been graced with such beautiful artwork.
And, god help me, I think that I’m back on the event book bandwagon. Well, at least the FLASHPOINT bandwagon.
This comic focuses on the alternate-universe Haley Circus as it tours what remains of Europe after the Amazonian/Atlantian War has decimated the western half of the continent. The stars of the circus are (as you may have guessed from the series’ none-too-subtle title) The Flying Graysons—a full-grown Dick Grayson and his very-much-alive parents—and Boston Brand, the death-defying (and also very-much-alive) Deadman. Along with the acrobats, the circus also features a trio of familiar faces in its sideshow: DCU proper villains King Shark and the Ragdoll play roles in the freakshow while Kent Nelson uses the helmet of Fate to tell circus patrons their fortunes. Deadman and Dick Grayson may get the top billing on this miniseries, but it becomes clear fairly early on in this issue that Nelson—or, more accurately, Dr. Fate—is the linchpin of the story. With the helmet, Nelson is able to see (though it seems only vaguely) that his universe is not what it should be, while the Amazons destroy everything in their path in their search for the Helm of Nabu.
Now, I love me a good alternate reality plot, be it something as well done as any one of the exceptional Elseworlds stories DC has done over the years (before the reintroduction of the Multiverse rendered the Elseworlds format moot) right down to the cheesy “Imaginary Stories” of the 1950s and ‘60s—you know, the ones where Superman marries Lori Lemaris, or Batman and Batwoman have kids who grow up to be the new Batman and Robin. In this case, J.T. Krul has done an excellent job in making this new FLASHPOINT universe accessible to readers such as myself who may have felt the event book burn-out. I knew next to nothing about this crossover before picking up this title, yet I never felt like I was floundering around in a tangle of incomprehensible plot. Krul gives the reader all that he or she needs in order to understand the story within a few quick pages, and for a company that’s looking to entice new readers, this is of utmost importance. The phrase “jumping-on point” gets tossed around a lot these days; for a sterling example of how to craft this desired quality, just have a look at this comic.
And speaking of looking…how ‘bout that artwork? The team of Janin and colorist Ulises Arreola is a near-perfect match of black-and-white art and color, as Arreola’s delicate, painterly modeling of form melds seamlessly with Janin’s naturalistic yet dynamic drawings. Over the past few months I’ve voiced my opinion on over-rendering colors in comic books, specifically in the case of DC’s JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA. The problem is when the colorist seeks to imitate the three-dimensional forms of reality, yet the penciler works in a much more stylized, two-dimensional manner. This was the case in JSA, and 99% of the time, it looked clunky, smudgy and flat-out awful. But THIS comic, my friends…when there is a harmonious balance between the line art and the modeled coloring, and each stage of the artistic process only serves to improve the final product…this is how painted color is meant to be used. And it’s frickin’ gorgeous.
Alternate realities, amazing artwork and a plot that grabs the reader right off the bat and keeps on running…my only complaint is that it took a company-wide crossover event to bring back this kind of classic comic book goodness. If only these qualities had been utilized each month in every one of DC’s ongoing series, maybe the company wouldn’t have felt the need to go down the upcoming, much-debated reboot/revamp road. Well, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. If like me, you have been wary of any title branded across the top of the cover with a crossover’s moniker, DEADMAN AND THE FLYING GRAYSONS is a very pleasant way to dispel that apprehension.
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.
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #505Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Salvatore Larrocca
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
Wherein Tony Gets The Fuck Hit Out Of Him...Again!
Tony's been kind of useless at this whole super hero thing lately, hasn't he? What with the constant times he's getting trounced by enemies he usually would have just walked past. First Doc Ock, now Grey Gargoyle. I expect Wisp O' Willow to rear his head in a brooding, dark and edgy way soon. But to be fair, Grey Gargoyle is turned into one hell of a villain in this issue, and Fraction turns in easily one of the best IRON MAN issues in recent memory.
Writing: (5/5) Maybe it's that he's writing the main series as well, but Iron Man's FEAR ITSELF tie ins have been easily the most enjoyable reads from the tie ins. Fraction conveys a perfect sense of dread in this issue, selling the world wide horror of the story. It also inadvertently ruins more then a few other tie ins. It's hard to read and sympathize with heroes dealing with a riot in New York (this is Marvel, there's a riot every other week) as the huge threat, when almost all of Paris is just so devastated here. And it wouldn't be such a distinction if Fraction wasn't so good at selling it. Both this and the previous issue have an atmosphere you can actually feel as you turn the pages, not something you can say for most superhero comics these days.
Tony's monologue is fantastic, as it tries to comprehend and deal with the events happening around him, while still very clearly processing "Most of Paris is dead, and I was just flung at their corpses". This is a fight that Tony isn't forgetting, and I'd be very surprised if the things he sees and deals with in this issue aren't brought up again after FEAR ITSELF. His declaration of Grey Gargoyle as a miracle is one of the most surprisingly effective moments of the issue. Tony recognizes what's happened as a sheer miracle, an unprecedented event. And being Tony, he admits it's a miracle, while still having a little bit of vomit in his mouth. The scene conveys so much about Tony in so little.
The return of Detroit Steel and the ensuing fight is well played, and does an incredible amount towards showing off the powered Grey Gargoyle; yes, they are wound-able. He could also very easily kill Tony if he’s not paying attention. Fraction plays up the ease which with it could happen, while also showing hammer-powered figures can be hurt, and hurt severely. It's gearing up one hell of a play later for Tony.
The brief scenes with Cabe and Pepper are the book’s weakest, and still incredibly written. They both stand out as major roles and routinely play off one another in a very interesting way. Faction knows how to write Tony’s supporting gallery well. On the writing side of things, there's nothing wrong with this issue.
Art: (4/5) Larroca continues to delight with the art, though his usual weakness prevails again. The fights in this issue are brilliant, fast paced, and very entertaining. They maintain the Iron Man huge defiant fight trope, but manage to still hold a certain level of dread. Even when the cavalry comes, you're fully aware of how it'll play out. The pacing of the fights, the look of them, they stand out in a very distinct way. They simply look great. The small scenes suffer though, with odd looking faces and very weird little poses (Cabe especially, during Pepper’s break down. She looks like two entirely different people throughout). The opening scenes especially just don't mesh with the rest of the book. They’re supposed to look distinctly different, yes. But young Tony especially simply looks strange. Tony in the suit makes up for that though. His reactions are solid and convincing.
Best Moment: The atmosphere is just such a force in this issue. It's incredible.
Worst Moment: Some of the art here and there.
Overall: (4/5) A very good tie in, a sentence I don't say often.
GODZILLA: GANGSTERS & GOLIATHS #1Writer: John Layman
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
Publisher: IDW Publishing
My first thought about this comic was, “how the fuck are they going to mix the mob with giant Godzilla monsters?” I have to admit for about two days I walked around contemplating how this could be possible, and then I got email from Ambush Bug that stated ‘shut the hell up and review this comic!’ so I did. I do have to admit my reservations going into this comic, which were basically that I didn’t see how my excitement for the GODZILLA movies could be duplicated in comic form. Some things just work better on screen and GODZILLA to me, is one of those things (Transformers too…cartoons not the movies). I know this is just my personal bias but I thought I’d be honest with you folks. Well let’s have look…
The story follows a cop who is supposed to be knocked off by the Japanese mob but escapes certain death only to wind up on….MONSTER ISLAND, home of GODZILLA and pretty much every monster he’s fought in the movies except for maybe Jet Jaguar and the mecha-monsters. This comic wasn’t bad; it didn’t blow my mind but it was a fun read. However, I do have a few problems with decisions made throughout the comic. The first is when the cop escapes, the gangsters debate going after him as he’s on his way to Monster Island and a couple of them figure he won’t live long on the island plus they don’t want to run into the gigantic monsters on the island…reasonable thought, right? Well one guy says, “would you rather deal with Takahashi-San and tell him you THINK he’s dead,” (something like that) and they come to their senses and go after him. As they follow the cop the next scene is a splash page (pretty good looking one too) of the island with Ghidorah and a few other monsters very prominent in the background ready to wreck shit. So they’d rather take their chances on an island infested with GIGANTIC FUCKING MONSTERS that smash cities as a leisure activity than deal with a human mobster? I would have said, “You can have my fucking pinky finger, Fuck that island!” Seriously though how can you look at a three headed monster that spits fire and opt to face that rather than a mob boss?!?
I won’t go into the details of the other problem as I have probably spoiled half the book and I don’t wanna ruin the entire thing for those of you interested BUT I’m going to anyway. Basically someone steals something to aid them in their quest and in the movies I watch, when you steal a deity (or deities) to use for your own good (noble or not) you will get an unpleasant comeuppance, so we’ll see if that’s the case but it should be. Honestly though, this comic is fun and I sure someone who must have all things Godzilla will probably enjoy this. If you’re not into Godzilla (you probably worship the devil and kick dogs) than I can’t see this book appealing to you but I can’t image you’d pick it up if that’s the case. The artwork isn’t bad it kind of reminds me of the artist for DAKEN: DARK WOLVERINE, Giuseppe Camuncoli (who I didn’t like at first but now I kinda like…sometimes) but not quite as tight as his work.
If you like GODZILLA, I’m guessing you’d like this as well. The writing isn’t bad although I do question some of the decisions the characters make. I will credit them with making a story about the mob, cops, and Godzilla monsters work without using some wild unbelievable event to tether them together. This comics wasn’t bad but it didn’t move me in any special way…if anything it made me want to go watch the movies I own (personal fave is “King Ghidorah”). The art isn’t bad but again I wasn’t moved with that either. I know you look to ol’ Kletus for guidance but I was just kind of ‘meh’ about this one but I know it has to do with my preference for the movies as opposed to any print version of Godzilla (unless it’s that wonderful book Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters). Definitely worth a read for those who are into Godzilla but I can’t imagine too many other people being into this, not because of bad writing or art but this comic seems to be for niche group of folks that love any iteration of GODZILLA.
FLASHPOINT—WONDER WOMAN & THE FURIES #1Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art: Scott Clark and Dave Beaty
FLASHPOINT—LOIS LANE & THE RESISTANCE #1Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art: Eddie Nunez and Don Ho
Published by: DC Comics
Reviewed by: Irish Rican
I'm of the opinion that this FLASHPOINT crossover is horribly boring and pretentious. Sure there will be many who think this TWILIGHT ZONE-esque crossover is the best thing since sliced bread but I'm bored to tears with it already. That being said I will continue to mine each and every book looking for something that I find redeeming until this whole universe reboots itself anyway.
At least we have Abnett and Lanning - the best writing duo in comics and usually the most consistent. The first book I tackled of theirs was LOIS LANE & THE RESISTANCE #1. The book features the title character being rescued by an Amazonian after their cataclysmic attack on Paris, France. Now the Amazons spend their time recruiting and training the newest Amazonian soldiers and process new rescues for indoctrination. Luckily Lois has been able to keep in contact with Cyborg and report from the inside. On the eve of her conversion Lois finds herself needing to do the impossible and escape her captors
Over in WONDER WOMAN & THE FURIES #1 we are treated to the lovely back stories of how Wonder Woman and Aquaman fell in love--or at least got set up for marriage—which is weird because, well, Amazons don't like dudes. As we've seen in Flashpoint that marriage never happens and we get to see what exactly caused the death of Hippolyta and the wedding to be cancelled.
Both of these books are very quick reads which can be made longer if you take the time to read the Michael Strahan/Justice League/Subway sandwich commercial comic smack dab in the middle of the book. And that book is awesome! Here's Aquaman running throughout FLASHPOINT being this badass mofo but in this mini comic he's being saved by NFL football players who have nothing better to do than eat Subway on the beach during the lockout! This is the guy who is at war with the world? Aquaman? The guy from NFL Fox with the gap in his teeth is stronger!
Look - all of these FLASHPOINT crossovers certainly aren't up to the usual DC standard. They are, as stated, quick reads meant to tell this whole story of this alternate universe. Abnett and Lanning are able to transcend the usual mediocrity of this crossover to tell some interesting stories. The WONDER WOMAN book really helps tell some of the story of this FLASHPOINT universe and artist Scott Clark really packs a punch with his artwork.
On the opposite side there are many pages filled with just one or two panels - sometimes devoid of dialogue. It's just that all of these Flashpoint books are very light and even Abnett and Lanning fall victim to this. And not to once again point this out but the Strahan comic was beaming with text and panels. One page had SEVEN panels! If the guys who did the Subway comic did the entire Flashpoint crossover we'd not only have a more full crossover but Aquaman would still be the cheesy punk he deserves to be.
Ryan 'Irish Rican' McLelland has worked in movies and comics journalism for the past several years before joining the @$$holes here at AICN. Ryan’s comic work has already graced comic shelves with GRUNTS: WAR STORIES, Arcana’s PHILLY, and THE SENTINELS ANTHOLOGY. He rarely updates his blog but when he does it can be read at www.eyewannabe.com. CLICK HERE to help make ThanksKilling 2 a reality!.
ALPHA FLIGHT #1Writer: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Art: Dale Eaglesham (pencils), Andrew Hennessy (inks)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Though I have complete faith in the writing team of Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, I have to say I wasn’t impressed with the 0.1 issue lead in that was released last month. The issue was utterly sub par and forgettable, lacking in artistic flair and character (the latter being of the utmost importance when writing an ALPHA FLIGHT comic). I have every issue of the original series, most of their first appearances from UNCANNY X-MEN, and have followed the team from up North from incarnation to the next over the years. After Bendis killed off the Alphans as an afterthought in his original NEW AVENGERS series, I was pleased as punch to find out the team would make a return in last year’s CHAOS WAR mini epic. Thought the issue dedicated to Alpha Flight and the aforementioned 0.1 issue were both less than entertaining, when I saw ALPHA FLIGHT #1 on the shelf last week, I had to pick it up.
I guess Pak and Van Lente were saving the best stuff for this series because in one issue all of the issues (from art to characterization) have been fixed. Hell, they’re even making bland character and always in line to be killed Guardian kind of interesting as a flawed scientist with more sense in the lab than on the battlefield. Sasquatch is plucky and fun. Snowbird and Shaman play off of each other like the silent elders of the group, while Northstar and Aurora bicker. Alpha Flight is back, mofos!!! All we need is Puck and it looks like he just might be showing up in future issues as well.
Though I’m not a fan of bringing characters back from the dead, given the shittily written way they were rubbed out, I am totally happy to make an exception. That said, I feel that even though Marrina’s evolution from innocent waif to attitudinal punk is somewhat interesting, I honestly think that her death in Roger Stern’s AVENGERS run as Namor’s bride was a fine arc. I’m willing to hold out to see what Pak and Van Lente have in store for Marrina, but personally I’d have preferred her to keep sleeping with the fishes.
The drama-meter is on high here, just as an ALPHA FLIGHT comics should be. Northstar is debating about rejoining the team. Aurora’s always questionable sanity is beginning to fray at the ends. Sasquatch still seems to be holding a torch for Aurora. Marrinna has developed an annoying cry of “DIE HUMAN SCUM!” which just makes her look bad. And Heather and James MacDonald, the Guardian and the Vindicator, are trying to settle returning from the dead and reclaiming their child. The writers juggle all these balls with ease, weaving all this drama and an appearance by a Serpent-hammer powered Attuma AND a foreboding announcement from the new Prime Minister together in an issue that reads fast and never gets convoluted.
Dale Eaglesham does his usual fantastic job. The man is at home with team books and shows as much skill at rendering the Alpha Flight as he did with the JSA not long ago. The scenes of the Alphans making short work of Attuma and his Atlantean army is awe-inspiring. Just a fantastic looking issue.
I’m excited for the first time in years that we have a new/old Alpha Flight. No new annoying members. Some fun new drama. And some cool characters for the coolest team in comics to show why they are what they are. Can’t wait for the rest of this miniseries and I hope it’s popular enough to warrant an ongoing with Pak and Van Lente at the helm.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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June 22, 2011, 9:04 a.m. CST
by Gene Cowan
Haven't been following most of the Marvel U lately, but trying to catch up on a few of the main titles. What's the general consensus on the Fear Itself tie-ins, overall? Good? Bad? Skippable?
June 22, 2011, 9:26 a.m. CST
Given that the beginning of the Silver Age in comics is generally accepted as the arrival of the Barry Allen Flash, I think having him be the fulcrum of the DC universe is rather appropriate.
June 22, 2011, 9:30 a.m. CST
June 22, 2011, 9:32 a.m. CST
...from the plot synopsis in the review, it looks like they're mucking around with Bloch's story much in the same way they screwed with Bloch's "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper." "That Hellbound Train" is a great award-winning short story that works fine without the Lansdales' typical blood & gore horror trappings strewn on it, and it's disappointing to me that they (and IDW) choose to poorly adapt another author's work rather than come up with original material.
June 22, 2011, 9:38 a.m. CST
I just can't believe changing Barry Allen's past would actually affect the origins of Batman and Superman, even in a butterfly effect. I need to stop over thinking things.
June 22, 2011, 9:43 a.m. CST
It's not a three-issue series, which is too bad, because it was incredibly interesting (and really, really dark). Best of the Flashpoint series so far. Also, Barry Allen sucks. Fuck you, Uncle Barry.
June 22, 2011, 10:42 a.m. CST
by hank henshaw
Mr. Johns has a raging hard-on for that character. Basically, the same reason Hal Jordan has been the center of the universe these past 6 years. While you can debate which Green Lantern is the best, there is no contest between Barry Allen and Wally West.
June 22, 2011, 11:04 a.m. CST
That's all down to Zoom. He had to change everything. If main canon Batman/Supes existed in Flashpoint, they'd help out Barry within seconds of him asking.
June 22, 2011, 11:21 a.m. CST
Is if it'll be a moment we've seen in comics before or if this is gonna be something that Johns has thought of himself. That's gonnna potentially determine how the rest of this plays out. If Johns noticed one moment in DC history involving Flash that really could, if altered, change the entire continuity, I'd have some pretty intense respect for him. If he's made the moment up and written in how it will alter everything....eh.
June 22, 2011, 11:34 a.m. CST
by Cletus Van Damme
...Superman. He's the reason the entire universe even exists today, although I could also see a good argument made for Batman. Superman ushered in the superhero genre, Flash ushered in an age within the genre. Hell, had Superman (and Batman a year later) not met with such success, I doubt there'd even be a MARVEL universe today, let alone a DCU.
June 22, 2011, 11:45 a.m. CST
Which is why I'm curious to see what this moment is...
June 22, 2011, noon CST
there can only be one...
June 22, 2011, 12:25 p.m. CST
the corner of town where some old guy in a trenchcoat exposes himself all day?
June 22, 2011, 1:10 p.m. CST
Why can't publishers who decides to do a Godzilla comic and go through all the trouble to get licensing from Toho get an artist who can actually *draw* Godzilla? The current series interior art is just horribly simple and unappealing. And there's artists who *can* draw Godzilla - Art Adams, Bob Eggleton, Steve Bissette, about 2/3rds of the art contributors to the G-Fan magazine..... What's more frustrating is using cover artists who at times actually do a much better job on the character than the interior artist is even more annoying.
June 22, 2011, 1:20 p.m. CST
A neat idea can only take you so far, but you still kinda, you know, have to write character dialogue that sounds a bit better than 12 year old kids playing pretend in the backyard.
June 22, 2011, 1:22 p.m. CST
... I think Johns is wayyyy overrated, and I can't for the life of me understand why he somehow keeps getting assigned these epic, DCU-wide stories. It's as if he was GOOD at writing them, or something...
June 22, 2011, 1:36 p.m. CST
Enjoyed reading it this week. Well done to all involved.
June 22, 2011, 1:55 p.m. CST
Falshpoint is really just ok thus far but the tie ins are really good. The reason Geoff John's is assigned to these is because DC really doesn't have anyone else (at least someone that they trust anyway) that can handle a story of this scale and still make it accessible to even the least informed comic reader. they tried to use Morrison and Final Crisis required peyote to fully grasp what was going on. John's stuff is a good read but i agree lately there hasn't been anything exciting about his stories. Maybe they should try a collaboration of DC writers like they did for 52 for their next big event (which will be in about 8 months)...
June 22, 2011, 1:57 p.m. CST
yeah it's always a let down when the cover art is better than the interior...Eric Powell & Art Adams would be a dream team on Godzilla...
June 22, 2011, 2:40 p.m. CST
Agreed on Morrison's FInal Crisis, and also on your point about 52. Funny, I've always thought that 52 was the best thing DC managed to put out this decade (in terms of company-wide epics, anyways...) I just wish People would stop heaping so much praise on Johns. Infinite Crisis was terrible, Blackest night was pretty much all action with fake emotional moments thrown in to make you feel like it was serious business, and I gotta say, the first two issues of Flashpoint were a waste of my money. My two cents!
June 22, 2011, 3:30 p.m. CST
Yeah both Infinite Crisis & Blackest Night started out good but fell flat about half way through...Sinestro Corps War is good though... I think Marvel has about 5 Geoff Johns while DC only has one that's why so much praise is given to him because while DC does have talented writers they just have way less than Marvel, thus making John's their golden boy... That's really what DC should have done is go after some big name writers instead of rebooting the entire damn universe.
June 22, 2011, 3:55 p.m. CST
I was going to resist, but I'll give the Grodd and Deadman books a try.
June 22, 2011, 4:15 p.m. CST
Flashpoint-- seems like a lot of talking between people I don't care about, describing situations I don't care about. Fear Itself-- what's the threat again? A serpent? Hammers? Oh, Bucky died. Yawn. On the subject, anybody else notice how terrible Buck performed as Captain America? I have all his issues, and his role as Cap seems to be: jump into a fight, get ass kicked, wait for Falcon and Black Widow to rescue you.
June 22, 2011, 4:54 p.m. CST
and apparently was pleased with how it came out. The next 6 movies, though, he wanted nothing to do with. (Personally I thought Hellraiser IV wasn't bad, for an "Alan Smithee" film...)
June 22, 2011, 4:58 p.m. CST
didn't know that about 3 until I checked just now
June 22, 2011, 6:25 p.m. CST
by Tom Fremgen
really worth it? I wasn't on board with the whole messed up history from the being, but now that we now things are getting rebooted once it's over, why buy all these mini's or even the main story, it's all just a pointless prelude the main event come September. With Fear Itself, it's been decent enough, but I'm still missing the point- why is it called Fear Itself??? Should have been retitled Hammer Time :)
June 22, 2011, 10:20 p.m. CST
Can someone sum up the structure? Will it be like AoA, 2 book ends and a half dozen 4 issue series? Or are they pretending that it is forever still?
June 22, 2011, 10:22 p.m. CST
Bucky hasn't been very successful as Cap... because there's only ONE Cap and he'll be back soon... And we don't know he's dead. And I have no idea why it's called Fear Itself. Also, can we take a moment here to shit on Howard Chaykin's art in New Avengers? He's worse than JRJR.
June 22, 2011, 10:50 p.m. CST
June 23, 2011, 1:04 a.m. CST
June 23, 2011, 1:15 a.m. CST
The Serpent brings fear with it, but... I think they're mostly just using the old FDR quote and there ya' go.
June 23, 2011, 3:49 a.m. CST
June 23, 2011, 6:08 a.m. CST
by The StarWolf
Easy choice, really. Think about it, those kaiju generally move in more or less straight lines between points 'A' and 'C'. To be safe, just be at point 'B', being a point not immediately between 'A' and 'C'. A mob boss, on the other paw, can make it his life's work to find you and your family (if any) to get revenge wherever you may be.
June 23, 2011, 6:37 a.m. CST
It ain't forever and even creators are being kept in the dark on the final outcome and what will come over into the new DCU. I talked with a bunch of DC guys at Wizard World this past weekend and it's a mystery to all...
June 23, 2011, 7:46 a.m. CST
June 23, 2011, 9:19 a.m. CST
I think Sinestro Corps War was the last really good thing Johns wrote. He's more of a continuity-draftsman than anything else, and it's too bad DC doesn't have any other writers. The ONLY thing DC needed to do to revive their line was INVEST IN GREAT NEW ARTISTS AND WRITERS. Instead... Jim Lee and Scott Lobdell. I walk. Fear Itself is really dull and bad. The enemy... is... FEAR! These guys, they pick up hammers, and they become SCARY!... Sorry, Fraction's batting average is somewhere in the .300 range, with his work on Thor and Punisher being lows that no decent writer should ever reach.
June 23, 2011, 10:06 p.m. CST
You're right. I just read that.
June 23, 2011, 10:11 p.m. CST
They kill. Most of Paris is dead. Thing knocked down Avenger's Tower and (thankfully) got rid of Red Hulk, not to mention flattening Brooklyn. They're wrecking shop. I found Sinestro Corp to be flat, nothing but action and bad dialogue. Maybe we should agree to disagree. Or I could agree to keep having good taste and you can go on with the bad...
June 23, 2011, 10:42 p.m. CST
Despite the 3 very obvious movie rip-offs in this one, I actually quite enjoyed it. As for Gates having Sterling balls for calling it out, it's probably always better to make fun of oneself before others get a chance to. On the other hand, calling out the fact that you're ripping off movies doesn't forgive the fact that you're ripping them off. Still, maybe it was just nice to read a Flash book that didn't star bone-dry Barry, but I did enjoy this first issue.. It made me go back and read the first Geoff Johns Teen Titans trade "A Kid's Game" I think it was called, where Impulse made the jump to Kid Flash..god that was a great start to that series. Shame it derailed after Johns left. -Johnny Destructo
June 23, 2011, 10:46 p.m. CST
I guess I like Kolins' writing better than his art, because I dug this issue as well as the Kid Flash bit. HOWEVER. Why did they get a Kolins ripoff to "draw" this issue? Gah. This was a mess, artistically. I don't like Kolins as an artist to begin with, but to then get someone to ape his style, but poorly makes it worse! Where is Karl Kershl?? Why is he not drawing the FLASH always and forever? The problem with this issue, while I did enjoy it, was that this just felt like a Reverse Flash story that went along more with FLASH REBIRTH than this FLASHPOINT crossover..
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