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Issue #10 Release Date: 6/29/11 Vol.#10

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: CRAWL TO ME #1
dot.comics presents TALES OF A CHECKERED MAN Webcomic

Advance Review: In stores July 13th!


Writer / Artist: Alan Robert
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

I haven’t read Alan Robert’s WIRE HANGERS series, but after reading this first demented issue of his latest miniseries CRAWL TO ME, I definitely think it’s something I should check out. Much like Joshua Hale Fialkov’s sinfully overlooked miniseries ECHOES from a few months ago, CRAWL TO ME plays with reality as seen though what might be a very sick mind.

Though this is definitely an issue guilty of set-up-itis, the story that does occur hooked me. Ryan is walking his dog along a snowy countryside when he notices the police advancing toward a neighboring home. An altercation between the police and the elderly creepy pedophile neighbor takes place and Ryan finds himself caught in the middle of it. Turns out Ryan and the pedophile have somewhat of a history.

Or maybe they don’t.

Soon we find out that Ryan is a sick individual, in need of medication and the reality we just witnessed may or may not have happened. Whether it happened or not doesn’t really matter because Robert’s writing grabbed me by both ears and pulled me in.

For the most part, my enthrallment is due to the fantastic art—done by Alan Robert as well. Robert combines sketchy, yet haunting imagery reminiscent of Sam Keith, then Photoshops it to add more grim layers to each panel which makes it closer to looking like a Ben Templesmith joint. That’s some pretty impressive company to be compared too, and each and every moody page is both gorgeous and terrifying as even the most mundane images take on a horrifying tone.

This trip through dementia seems to be just beginning and I’m hooked from the get go. Alan Robert definitely has a gift for making each panel a step closer to the abyss. So while I wait for issue two of CRAWL TO ME to drop, I’m seeking out WIRE HANGERS to whet my thirst for more of Robert’s twisted words and works. All this and another mesmerizing variant cover by SILENT HILL artist Menton J. Matthews III (see right) that is both iconic and seems to have a life of its own and morphs every time you look at it. I highly recommend CRAWL TO ME for those who like spine-tingling trips down the rabbit hole.

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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WITCH DOCTOR #1 (of 4)

Writer: Brandon Seifert
Artist: Lukas Ketner
Color Artist: Sunny Gho
Published by: Image Comics / Skybound
Reviewed by: BottleImp

Though my first love of the comic book genres has always been and will always be the exploits of the spandex-clad superheroic, horror comics place a close second. So whenever I see a new horror-slanted series on the racks, I have to pick up the first issue and see if the material is able to satisfy that lingering hunger for the strange and unusual. For a comic book of this nature to be successful in my eyes, it needs to either be: A) so far over the top in its depiction of carnage and mayhem as to be blazingly shocking, B) able to instill a genuine sense of dread and fear in the reader, or C) bringing some new twist to the genre that makes the book stand out from the other horror titles in publication. Well, WITCH DOCTOR doesn’t meet my first two criteria too well, but it definitely satisfies the third.

The comic’s protagonist is Doctor Vincent Morrow, a medical practitioner who specializes in the supernatural. Assisted by his assistants Eric Gast (a former paramedic who serves as the “everyman” character and reader’s surrogate, as most of the magical occurrences are as new to Gast as they are to the reader) and “Penny Dreadful” (in appearance a young girl, but in reality some sort of demonic creature herself), Dr. Morrow diagnoses demonic possessions as well as everyday trauma, using a blend of magic and pseudoscientific devices. The familiar medical jargon and hardware that we’ve all seen used ad nauseum on various primetime television hospital dramas is mixed with fantastic gobbledegook in a way that comes across fresh and fun. Seifert expertly balances humor and horror in this issue as we see Dr. Morrow’s somewhat jaded, blasé attitude towards the demonic elements that send other men screaming for the hills. EC Comics pioneered this sort of tongue-in-cheek mixture with their classic TALES FROM THE CRYPT stories, and it’s great to see that same tone on display in this series.

Another characteristic that sets this comic apart from most of the current horror-themed books is Ketner’s drawing style. Most artists today either tend towards minimal line work and smoothly rendered forms (mostly on the superhero side of the medium) or else more distorted or abstracted forms with heavier hatchings and inking (as seen more in the horror genre). Ketner’s work, however, is a throwback to the late 1960s and early ‘70s, with bold inked lines hatched to delineate and model naturalistic forms. The inking is reminiscent of the work of Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, of Gray Morrow, even of Frank Frazetta’s inked work (both his own and over Al Williamson) from those decades. This style gives a unique look to the comic that makes WITCH DOCTOR feel more like a reprint of a story from EERIE or CREEPY than a brand new publication—and I mean that in a good way, seeing as how those magazines set such high standards from black & white comic art. In fact, I almost wish that this series WERE in black & white. I’m not bad-mouthing the colors; Gho’s palette of earthy greens and brown (with the occasional fleshy pinks and reds thrown in for contrast) are a fitting match for the plot and give an appropriate air of dinginess and decay to the Doctor’s creepy clinic. But Ketner’s linework is so evocative of those classic monster mags that I would love to see that connection made even stronger.

The one potential drawback that I see this early on in the series is that so far, characterization is minimal at best, and plot is all. Obviously, a good plot is key to successful storytelling, but if WITCH DOCTOR is going to continue beyond this initial miniseries, more work will need to be done to give more dimensionality to the Doctor and his assistants. Otherwise, this concept could fall into the trap that has snared some television dramas (even a certain medical drama on FOX that Seifer notes was an influence on his writing); namely, that the stories devolve into a “strange-case-of-the-week” pattern in which the protagonists become mere puppets going through the motions of the story without adding anything to the drama by way of their own individual personalities.

Yes, I know that this is just the first issue of the series and that’s a snap judgment on my part, but what can I say? I always tend to look on the downside, and when I see a series like WITCH DOCTOR that has the potential to be something really, really good, there’s a part of me that expects to be let down. But since this first issue does NOT disappoint, I’m interested to see what happens next. Fellow fans of those aforementioned classic horror mags and the EC comics that birthed the genre should not miss this promising new miniseries.

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.


Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art: Ibraim Roberson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy

Logan's Hope.

With Schism coming soon, the X-Men books have entered a small lull as of late. UNCANNY, for example, takes this time to look at Hope and her relationship with Wolverine. But that's not the part of the issue that I enjoyed thoroughly. It also provides a surprisingly good look into Hope herself, and how the world around her sees her.

Writing: (4/5) I typically like Gillen, especially his work on S.W.O.R.D. and his Ares one shot during “Dark Reign”. I have mixed feelings about “Generation Hope”, but I think he does a good job of writing the title character. He makes her an interesting character, and surprisingly relatable. One of my favorite parts about “Second Coming” was her characterization (the angry young woman who spent her life at war), and Gillen has maintained an interesting arc with that. She maintains the hardened characteristics, but is clearly trying to be normal with the other girls. But it doesn't feel right. When Hope is fighting off soldiers later and taunting her captors as her nose is cut off, that's when Hope feels natural. And that's a very cool idea for the "messiah". It's not one usually taken, but the idea that the Messiah is more at home in violence than peace interests me. And it'd be nice if Gillen continued on that route. Hope is unsure of herself with the other girls, but seems at home next to Wolverine. It's a nice touch that I appreciated a great deal.

Wolverine also adds a nice, if expected, touch to the story. He's avoiding Hope because, if she goes mental, he'll be the one to put her down. It's another use of the "Wolverine is the hero who will kill" tact, one I'm growing tired of. But here it's played well. It almost reads like the stories of soldiers with new recruits. He doesn't make friends with them because he doesn't expect them to survive long. Wolverine having that attitude is a nice point, if expected.

The story proper is predictable above all else, but enjoyable. It's nice to see someone reference the Crimson Commando, a character I remember reading about as a kid, but he proves uninteresting during the story, not really offering much in terms of threat or suspense. The book only really hits those two beats when he begins to disfigure Hope, but of course she'll be fine. The story isn't bad, just predictable.

Art: (4/5) Roberson delivers some good art this issue, especially during the few action beats of the issue. The shots and angles are well done, and they give the story a real sense of urgency. Nothing feels out of place here--faces, poses, or angles. It's a very solid book art wise.

The only real problem with it I think is consistency. I did like the touch of Hope's beatings healing when she's around Wolverine without ever pronouncing it, but other things struck me as odd. Time of day, the Crimson Commando's look, the small things that always bother me. But it's not enough to really ruin anything for me.

Best Moment: The characterization of Hope.

Worst Moment: A VERY predictable story.

Overall: (4/5) I do rather hope Gillian and Roberson stay on X-Men. I enjoyed this issue, and would like to read more from them.

Advance Review: In stores this week!


Writer: Mark Andrew Smith
Artist: Armand Villavert
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

Smith is like the Pixar of comics. His first outing, THE NEW BRIGHTON ARCHEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, and now GLADSTONE’S use children as the protagonists, but make no mistake Smith is not a children’s writer.

I had some concerns about GLADSTONE’S; would Smith be able to ride the hook of a school for child villains beyond the expected tropes? The answer is yes. While the expected is firmly imbedded, like classes about evil alchemy and phys ed exercises that involve pummeling super hero dummies instead of pull ups, Smith has also created a complex universe for the school to reside in.

In Smith’s world villains and heroes have come to an arrangement, an armistice that recognized neither side could exist without the other. Both sides also understand that everyone loses if the pendulum of power swings too far to one side. It’s an interesting concept, especially when you throw in the fact there are parties on both sides that disagree with this arrangement and will do anything to dissolve these unions. It becomes even more interesting when you add in the fact that the children of the world don’t learn about this truce until they come of age. It puts the reader in an interesting place. On one hand you want the battles to be real because the kids of Gladstone’s (who despite being villains to be, you do kind fall in love with) believe with a demented childlike innocence in the villainous virtues of the world. On the other hand you know that the hero and villains are contractual bedfellows more than enemies, and Smith makes these pre-fight meetings downright hilarious, especially if you’ve been reading comics forever. The best way to describe the experience is like seeing Santa Claus at a strip club; he doesn’t belong, but the juxtaposed symbolism can’t help but make one laugh.

Smith also uses this issue to further develop the relationships of GLADSTONE’s cool clique (all right maybe not cool, but at least our central characters). The relationships range from Disney afternoon crushes, too some pretty heavy baggage of parent’s in prison and children adrift without any moral compass, hell even one that points south is better than nothing. This is one of those two-level cases where the book works best.

Kids will see peers, while the wisdom of age lets adults enjoy the book with a sense of nostalgia for the happy times and a pity for the less than happy moments.

With only three issues Smith has created a cast of original characters, a world that is complex and original yet familiar to anyone who has ever read a comic, and started a journey that has more than enough interesting tangents to carry the book for arcs to come.

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.


Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Bernard Chang
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler

I wasn’t sure what to expect this week when I picked up GREEN LANTERN EMERALD WARRIORS # 11. My nervous system is still somewhat reeling from the one-two punch of having three issues of WAR OF THE GREEN LANTERNS released on the same day about a month ago and then a few weeks later being mentally abused by the GREEN LANTERN film. After hearing of release delays for the WAR OF THE GREEN LANTERNS finale I wasn’t sure what we would actually be getting in the issue. Originally advertised as the beginning of WAR OF THE GREEN LANTERNS: AFTERMATH storyline, this book is actually nothing more than a “one shot” Guy Gardner adventure, which in no way is a bad thing.

The story is pretty basic. Guy is headed for some well-deserved R&R but gets called in on a mission to help a dignitary’s ship, he reluctantly accepts and from there trouble ensues. It’s as simple as that. The story is quick and even wraps itself up nicely by the end of the issue. There’s no start of a 10 part arc or a cliffhanger ending to keep you coming back next issue. It’s classic comic book storytelling. For a fan of GREEN LANTERN and Guy Gardner in particular this is exactly the reason you read comics. Guy’s attitude and cocky swagger is on full display and it really reminds you of why this hot-tempered honor guardsman is such a fan favorite.

The art in the book is much like the story in general--simple and to the point. Bernard Chang does a good job telling the story through the visuals. It’s nothing groundbreaking or something that goes against the grain; it’s just quality artwork that serves its purpose. There is also some solid artwork on the variant cover (which seems to be what they would have gone with had this actually been a WAR OF THE GREEN LANTERNS tie in).

While I can fully understand someone feeling duped into buying this book because they were expecting some info/closure on a storyline they’ve already invested themselves in, it still doesn’t justify saying this is a bad issue. The fact is that larger storylines get delayed and sometimes there needs to be filler. That’s exactly what we have here. There’s no denying that this issue was either an old story that was sitting around waiting to be used or something that was quickly put together to fill a gap, but that in no way means it lacks quality. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for GREEN LANTERN in general and I can’t wait to see how WAR OF THE GREEN LANTERNS ends, but for now I happily enjoyed this story, as I always think there’s room to see Guy Gardner’s personality on display.

You can follow The Writing Rambler on his blog here!


Writer / Art: Eric Powell
Publisher: Dark Horse
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

From issue one and even before that, I’ve been a die hard GOON fan. I’ve seen somber Goon, goofy Goon, ongoing story Goon and done-in-one Goon. All of them have been damn fine entertainment through the years, but a while back (I think it was when the last issue of THE GOON was released, maybe) I made the observation that I felt that the Goon character had sadly run its course. It seemed that the Goon is one of those stuck in amber sort of fellas. Not changing much and only limited by the amount of crazy shit Eric Powell can throw at him. Although some of the more serious works featuring the Goon proved to be impressive as hell, seeing Powell return to the done-in-one, gross-out serial style seemed kind of a let down after the CHINATOWN & THE MYSTERY OF MR. WICKER Hardcover. But as much as I love the more serious-toned Goon, I have to admit, after being away for a while, it’s good to see Goon doing what he does best in this issue; kicking ass and taking names.

Just cracking open this issue made me smile and though it may be cheap, easy, and even a little late humor, the Goon taking on sparkly vampires was the kind of fun I’ve come to expect from Powel and his Goon. Powell himself (through his alter ego, the Goon) is first to admit that this issue couldn’t be all about kicking the dicks in of multiple twinkling vampire boy-toys. There’s got to be more than that. And there is. The Goon and his orphan supporting cast take on a possessed tween girl in this one as well. Seeing the ornery orphans convince the Goon into prying himself from a football game at the bar to help them out with the soul-sucking tween is a lot of fun and by the time the Goon shows up to take on the creepy teenie bopper, he’s goot and lit, which adds another layer of fun to this mile-high hogie of goodness in comic book form.

Powell’s art continues to be the strong point in this issue. Whereas his stories seem to be a bit lacking in depth and he may be digging toward the bottom of his bag of tricks when it comes to laughs, Powell’s art continues to improve with rich shades and gorgeous shapes of the macabre kind. It would be interesting to see Powell team up with a twisted writer to see if they could add some depth to the character and the mythos. Someone like David Lapham let loose on the Goon-iverse would be too cool to imagine and open the character up to potential no one knew it had. THE GOON #34 is strong in that absence makes the heart grow fonder, I guess. Goofy, one-and-done Goon is better than no Goon at all.


Writers: Christos Gage (first story), Rob Williams (second story)
Art: Lee Weeks (first story), Ben Oliver (second story)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: KletusCasady

My buddy Ken came into the shop and we usually chat about comics, mostly about artists (this guy knows every book a particular artist has ever worked on--it’s pretty amazing, really) and he asked me if I had noticed the weird alternate future that has been popping up in different books. I said no. He went on to explain that in CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN, Steve Rogers had seen an alternate future where weird robots seemingly had taken over the world (I probably missed that detail cause I wasn’t that into the story); I looked through the comic and sure enough there it was. Next, he mentioned that in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN right before SEIGE, Tony Stark whilst he was in his coma-like state was having vivid dreams about these weird robots repeatedly attacking an excavation site that Stark Senior and Stark Junior had been working on (that I remembered). Then in the AVENGERS when they went into the future there was a time line that had STEVE’S VISION then ULTRON WAR soon after…hmmmm curious indeed (I’m not sure if all this is related, but it might be). I think this series is meant to kick start those events but it’s kind of weird because it seems way under the radar; maybe MARVEL is trying to sneak a mini event under our noses…but don’t fret, Kletus is on the case!

So we start off with the current Tony Stark approaching the lovable drunk Tony Stark in the past…wait, what?!?! This IS issue number one right…let’s make sure I’m not missing any pages…nope….I’m not drunk either sooo….WTF?!?! I rarely ever read the synopsis in the front of Marvel books, I feel like during the course of the comic if I can’t figure out what got us in the situation I’m reading about, then the writer isn’t doing their job to the best of his or her ability. I don’t read the lead up one-shots either (i.e. IRON AGE OMEGA, or whatever it was called) for the same reasons--I shouldn’t HAVE to. The Avengers have been in the time stream so much that I should be used to it but I can’t help but think of Doc Brown (or Time Cop) and his very specific instructions on the past…basically don’t fuck with shit in the past or bad things will happen, simple enough BUT apparently that concept doesn’t really apply to some comics unless it serves the story somehow. Anyway, we pick up in the past with our current Tony Stark attempting to get help from the Avengers (circa mid 80s?) in collecting pieces of Dr. Doom’s time machine in hopes of stopping a plot from a guy in a comic I didn’t read.

What really makes this comic for me is Lee Weeks. He’s one of my favorite artists at Marvel and anytime he pops up I buy. There’s so much emotion in his pages between the great use of shading and the variance of panel layout, there’s a lot to love about his art. Christos Gage does a good job with the story here but I just wish he hadn’t assumed that everyone already read the prequel to this comic. There are definitely some things to like about this issue besides the art, though. Tony arguing with himself about being a drunk while trying to resist the temptation to drink is pretty good. The Avengers fighting Hank Pym’s greatest/worst achievement looks and plays out fuckin’ great. This story has a really good old school feel to it and Gage does a great job of taking us to that time period with the internal/external dialog from the Avengers. The first half of this book is pretty damn fun and looks great.

The second half doesn’t really have the sense of urgency of the first half or Lee Weeks or Christos Gage. I think what’s going on is that Iron Man is going through the past but hitting specific points that operate around a particular storyline. In this case, He’s in England with Captain Britain and I get the feeling something outside of IRON AGE is going on but I’m not that familiar with CAPTAIN BRITAIN’S past so I didn’t get the references. This story suffers from having to come after a stellar team like Gage & Weeks. It’s like a local band having to play after Metallica or The Misfits in the early 80s, no matter how good American Ritual’s cover of House of the Rising Sun is…they probably won’t be holding a candle to those bands. This story does have some good points such as Tony trying to charm the uhh…Dominatrix (did I read that right?!?!) and the art isn’t bad either it’s similar to Adi Granov but not nearly as smooth. Ben Oliver also did the artwork for FLASHPOINT: HAL JORDAN but his art looks a lot better there.

This issue suffers because it assumes you’ve read the prequel, which I hadn’t. Yeah I know there’s a recap but if there’s one thing I agree with Dan Didio about, is that a comic should inform you every issue as to what the hell is going on with out a lengthy recap. This issue did fill you in to some degree but this “issue #1” is so far into the story, you can’t help think that you missed multiple important pieces of information that are crucial to this story. The first story is leaps and bounds better than the second and being as such, there’s really no reason the first story couldn’t have come after the second story…make sense?!? Y’know, a ‘save the best for last’ type of deal.

Honestly I would have preferred Gage & Weeks (I love me some Lee Weeks!) to be the sole team on this book and if that was the case I’d say emphatically “BUY THIS NOW!” but since that isn’t the case I’d say if you have some extra dough you might want to take a gander at this book mostly for the first story (which IS the bulk of the book). I’m not sure the purpose of it, is it setting up next summer status quo altering, earth shattering, everything will be different (then the same again) event? Or is this just a li’l mini jam to keep the event gremlins happy? Either way there’s some fun stuff in this book but I’m not sure I can convince ya’ll to spend $5 for an issue that while it says #1 on it, obviously isn’t the beginning of this story.


Written and Illustrated by Brahm Revel
Published by Oni Press
Reviewed by superhero

Every once in a while you come across a book that makes you think “holy cow, that’s a fantastic idea.” Then you read the book and it is a story that is so well beyond what your expectations of the book were that you are absolutely blown away it. GUERRILAS is such a book.

When I saw this book in a rare trip to a comic shop I couldn’t resist that cover. I mean, c’mon, chimpanzees fighting in the Vietnam War? That’s an idea that’s just golden. But I’ll admit, I saw a primate with a machinegun and I thought I was going to get something that was a lot more, um, funny book-like. I honestly didn’t expect to get a comic that is as thoughtfully and intelligently done as this book is. This is not a funny animal book by any means. It is a seriously told and deeply affecting story of one particular soldier in the Vietnam War and a military experiment gone wrong. I really don’t want to say much more than that regarding the plot because I don’t want to spoil this book for anyone. This is a book worth going into cold, without any knowledge of it whatsoever, so that you can get as much out of it as possible. I will say this about the book: once I picked it up I could not put it down. COULD. NOT.PUT. IT. DOWN.

Since I don’t want to particularly talk about the story what I will talk about is the art. There’s an introduction to this book by Jackson Publick (one of the co-reators of the severely awesome Venture Bros. TV show) in which he goes on and on about the fantastic artistic talent of the creator of GUERILLAS, Brahm Revel. I can only say here that I 100% agree with everything Mr. Publick states in his introduction. Revel is amazing. His brushwork is…I don’t even know if I can find a positive enough adjective for it. His storytelling is perfection. Each page is like a little prize each and of itself and I just loved Revel’s work to pieces. As an artist who’s never fully become comfortable with a brush I have to say that my envy was off the charts. Revel is amazing and I will state here publicly that I will absolutely pick up any other comic book work Revel ever does. I have become a super-fan. I’m watching you, Revel.

So yeah, GUERRILAS is absolutely fantastic from beginning to end. But the surprising thing is that it’s made me re-discover Oni Press in a big way. If GUERILLAZ is the type of quality I can expect from Oni Press then I’m going to get up off of my ass and start getting some more Oni books. Oni should be commended for putting GUERILLAS into the world and I’m thankful to them for putting a book like this out into the universe. Bra-freaking-vo!

Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. He's been an @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at and check out his blog at


Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

It’s been a few months since I’ve personally checked in on Bruce Wayne’s global gallivanting, so what better time to get back in the saddle than with this tribal one-off that brings Bruce to an Indian Reservation in America’s beautifully depressed southwest?

As much as I love this title and have enjoyed every adventure as Bruce has travelled to the Far East and Europe to keep filling out his org chart for his vigilante LLC, I still can’t sever that one thread of disbelief that has been lingering since Bruce announced this venture at the end of RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE.

Batman always walked the razor’s edge between savior and vigilante. He’s always been able to sidestep due process and other constitutional niceties because Gotham was a unique city and Gordon was a unique police commissioner. It made Batman and his relationship to both Gotham and Jim Gordon special. The deeper and deeper we get into BATMAN INC. though, it seems that every law professional in the world would be pleased as punch to have their very own Batman. It hasn’t really been discussed in past issues because all of Bruce’s past recruits hid behind secret identities. If you don’t know who the guy is, it’s kind of tough to stop him. However, Bruce’s newest recruit in his ever expanding diversity quota to appease Batman Inc. Human Resources, is out in the open. Man-of-Bats and his sidekick son Raven wear masks, but everyone knows who they are under the mask. And everyone, including Johnny Law, is A-O.K. with this. It offends my willing suspension of disbelief, but this issue is so damn spectacular in design and execution I would not forsake one page because of my hyper-literal views.

The cover alone is worth the price of admission to this book. I can see wafts of Frazer Irving’s influences, but this truly was a collaborative effort as the credits indicate. I love Frazer Irving, but I also appreciate how his cohorts solidified his dewy dream-like style. I wanted to buy, ride…then probably eat a buffalo after viewing this piece. This is one of those rare spectacular covers you wish came with a dangle to blow into to make it poster size.

Once inside the book, the art bonanza continues. I never heard of Burnham before, but he is a name I will not soon forget. Dare I say, there are slight whispers of a Quitely style to his work, minus the ugly heads. And his attention to detail is spot fucking on. There ain’t a panel in this book that takes place in the Matrix Ready-Room void of white space. Thank you Chris.

The story can be best described as SCALPED, the PG-13 version. The Native American experience is an unenviable one. Since being moved to reservations, their story has been one of a dwindling pride with each passing generation. This victimization has led the majority to simply stop trying in life, except Man-of-Bats that is. A doctor by day and crime fighter/good Samaritan by night, Man-of-bats is my favorite bat-copy to date. Morrison damned effectively conveyed the frustration Man-of-Bats has for his own people’s malaise and his rage towards his people that would try to profit from that sense of non-being. If any of the bat-clones to date should have their own series, Man-of-Bats is the man.

Another reason I find this bat-tale so damn interesting is Man-of-Bats’ sidekick, Raven. I would have to check my mental rolodex, but the only other Robin knock-off I can think of with any prominence is Squire and she’s just friggin annoying. Raven may have a bit of whiney kid to him, but his whining is such a stark ideological contrast to Man-of-Bats you know this kid would have been kicked to the curb if he wasn’t Man-of-Bats’ son. Man-of-Bats is a doctor during the day who likes to help everyone. Rave, only cares about helping those that help themselves. Man-of-Bats cherishes his ethnic pride, Raven wants nothing more than to escape the reservation and join the Titans. It made for some great banter and gave an extra level of tension to the book beyond the gang that’s pushing dope on the reservation.

It looks like the impending reboot will be the final death toll for BATMAN INC. While part of me is sad to see the title go since Morrison has been writing the hell out of it, another part of me knew the party would end eventually because as soon as a vigilante is legitimized by society at large - they become a cop.


dot.comics presents…


Writer: Denver Brubaker
Artist: Denver Brubaker
Reviewer: Lyzard

With newspapers seemingly on their way out, like so many things, it is up to the Internet to keep up tradition. Without the funnies in the Sunday newspaper, comic strip readers can now turn to their favorite web comic for respite. TALES OF A CHECKERED MAN is a fun ode to the strip form of comic telling.

Started April 5, 2010, with an update every Tuesday and Thursday, TALES OF A CHECKERED MAN follows a hero sans superpower. Think Batman…just not as awesome. Our hero has acrophobia and is more likely having a mid-life crisis than a deep need to serve justice. But he’s all Exotic City’s got.

TALES OF A CHECKERED MAN must be read from the beginning. The strip is a continuous storyline, unlike other web comic strips like PENNY ARCADE or PHD that allow readers to jump in and out for the most part. TALES OF A CHECKERED MAN is broken up into sections (such as “Dark Prelude” and “Weird Tales”). By going to the Archive section of the website, readers can find where one section begins and another ends. However, despite the breakup, events in a previous section affect the plot and characters in latter sections. But with most of the strips being three to four panels long, it won’t take you long to catch up on the adventures of our checkered caped vigilante.

Though it is a comic strip you have to keep up with, the ease of catching up and the simple nature of the strip makes up for it. This isn’t as if J.J. Abrams did a comic. What I liked most about TALES OF A CHECKERED MAN was the tone. The panels for the most part fit the same structure of serious to serious to funny. Simple, yet well done. The nice little twist at the end is what adds humor to the comic, as well as the artwork.

As for the drawings, Checkered Man and the Clerk are the best designed characters. For some reason, Joey, Penelope, and Sgt. Mulveny all seem to be drawn poorly in comparison, with the roommate Dougy in the middle. Poorly may be the wrong word here, because it is not that they lack artistic merit. They merely seem to be drawn by a completely different artist. That being said, if you do come across a strip that looks completely different, there are several guest author/artist strips.

You can tell creator Denver Brubaker knows his comics and that this is his “love letter to masked mystery men, caped-crusaders, classic adventure pulps and traditional newspaper strips.” The strip may have its weaknesses, such as drawing out singular ideas for too many strips. But as the comic advances, these mistakes adjust themselves. TALES OF A CHECKERED MAN has been around for over a year now and Brubaker has made real progress with his work. So give it a shot and give TALES OF A CHECKERED MAN Webcomic the time that it deserves to win you over.

Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a film student at Chapman University. Lyz’s love for comics stems from an internship at Dark Horse Entertainment as a freshman, which may explain why some of her favorite comic book writers are Gerard Way and Steve Niles. You can find her on Facebook, but only if you follow her band: Castle Town Convicts (possibly a Zelda reference?).

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

Remember, if you have a comic book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.

Readers Talkback
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  • July 6, 2011, 9:12 a.m. CST

    So, is Batman - The Dark Knight comic defunct

    by Snookeroo

    or just taking a very long time to come out with the next issue?

  • July 6, 2011, 9:19 a.m. CST

    Stray Bullets?

    by Bodacious_Crumb

    Does anybody have any idea if Dave Lapham will continue Stray Bullets?

  • July 6, 2011, 9:28 a.m. CST

    Batman Inc. Isn't Going To Be Wiped Away By The Reboot

    by NeonFrisbee

    Last I read, it was going on hiatus until early 2012. Morrison's Batbooks are gonna be left largely unsullied by the desperate tidal wave, apparently.

  • July 6, 2011, 9:38 a.m. CST

    Wasn't able to get to the store this week...

    by rev_skarekroe

    ...but I'm very much looking forward to the return of The Goon. It's one of the very few floppy comics I still buy.

  • July 6, 2011, 9:50 a.m. CST

    Yeah, we're stuck with more Batman, Inc. after the reboot

    by NinjaRap

    ...unfortunately. SUCH a dumb idea. But the public eats up their shit sandwiches anyway, just like shitty Michael Bay Transformers movies.

  • July 6, 2011, 10:06 a.m. CST

    BATMAN INC. - We'll See

    by optimous_douche

    I've seen many a plan get changed based on market dynamic and reactions. I don't think we can count on or guarantee the life of any book post-reboot. My feelings in case it wasn't clear in the review is that the book is doomed to implode. It is exceptional in form, but the concept simply can't survive in a world that is supposed to be shrouded in secret identities.

  • July 6, 2011, 10:13 a.m. CST

    I Love Batman Inc. And Pretty Much All Things Morrison

    by NeonFrisbee

    I'm not sure how you could say it (or any of Morrison's stuff) is even remotely analogous to a Michael Bay movie, but whatevs. I think the whole Batman Inc. thing skews more towards darkly humorous, surrealist camp then maybe some readers can deal with. I mean, I can see not liking it or not getting it or whatever, but it's certainly not an ADD addled mess. If anything, it's the opposite -- Morrison makes you work for it with oblique references and ideas that infuriate some readers, but thrill others. Almost like a David Lynch film. For me, the working for it is intellectually stimulating and rewarding AND fetishistic / psychedelic / surreal / exciting / hilarious / crazy / awesome / etc.

  • July 6, 2011, 10:16 a.m. CST


    by NeonFrisbee

    Ah, okay, I see what you're saying. I hope it doesn't implode, 'cause I really like it.

  • July 6, 2011, 10:25 a.m. CST

    We're both right neon

    by optimous_douche

    I love Morrison for all of the reasons you lifted up. He's not for everyone, but he's crazy sexy disco totally for me. It's the concept of Batman Inc. The komono has been opened a little too wide with Bruce's public funding of Batman. Form a bunch of Batman teams around the world, but don't hold a press conference for God's sake. Is this enough to kill the book? No. The reaction to the reboot will decide the ultimate fate.

  • July 6, 2011, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Batman Inc = STUPID!

    by CeejayNightwing

    It suspending belief enough for one man's crusade keeping a night's watch eye over every nook and cranny in his own city. To have him supervision a whole bunch of guys in other cities to make sure they're doing the same thing he's barely got time for and retain his secret identity at the same time is simply stretching the Batman mythos beyond idealism of its conception and into total superhero foolishness! Bring Back Denny O'Neil quick, Morrison and the rest of these guys don't have a clue!

  • July 6, 2011, 10:51 a.m. CST

    Witch Doctor is awesome

    by v1cious

    Robert Kirkman sure know how to pick'em. I'm very much looking forward to seeing where this miniseries goes.

  • July 6, 2011, 11:22 a.m. CST

    I gave up on Batman Inc

    by Righteous Brother

    but there again, I only really like Batman tales set in Gotham, with the odd exception. Who's the team on the Batman reboot?

  • July 6, 2011, 11:29 a.m. CST

    The Bat books will be fairly unchanged

    by Laserhead

    And Batman Inc. is brilliant. The most purely enjoyable super-hero book since All-Star Supes and the natural culmination of Morrison's epic five-year story. But don't worry, it'll be over in another year. And Denny O'Neill should never write another comic again.

  • July 6, 2011, 11:39 a.m. CST

    Good column again guys

    by fpuk99

    Batman Inc always struck me as an odd concept. I fear that it's days are numbered.

  • July 6, 2011, 1:29 p.m. CST

    Wire Hangers was great so looking 4ward 2 Crawl To Me

    by lostboytexas

    LOA all day long, beatches!

  • July 6, 2011, 1:37 p.m. CST

    Good job Bottle Imp

    by Olsen Twins_Fan

    Great review of Witch Doctor! Seriously, just a well done review. I read the preview of this in back of an issue of TWD and it looked worth checking out. Cool premise, at least.

  • July 6, 2011, 1:49 p.m. CST

    Morrison is the Michael Bay of comics

    by Mattman

    He writes for A.D.D. starved mouth frothers. His stories make absolutely no sense and are overly complicated. He's utterly ruined Batman. I hope he's not involved too much after the reboot.

  • July 6, 2011, 2:08 p.m. CST

    Morrisson is NOT the Michael Bay of comics...

    by Righteous Brother

    terrible analogy. Rob Liefield mid 90's would be more akin to Michael Bay - hugely successful works yet completely hollow. At least Morrison is trying to do something a bit challenging for the readers of Batman, it can't all be the Penquin running for Mayor, or inmates escaping from Arkham Asylum month in month out. To be honest though, I think the monthly Batman comic along with Detective has been pretty crappy for decades, the last run I really liked was when Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle were on it, and that was in the early 90's.

  • July 6, 2011, 2:10 p.m. CST

    No, Morrison is the Morrison of comics

    by Laserhead

    As in the greatest comics writer ever. Nobody's done it longer or better. Zenith. Animal Man. Doom Patrol. The Invisibles. JLA. Marvel Boy. X-Men. All-Star Superman. Superman Beyond. Batman. I think that's most of the majors. He also has a 400 page prose explication of superheroes coming out from a highly esteemed literary publisher, Speigel and Grau, called 'Supergods'. Mark Millar and Brian Bendis are who you want for the mouth-breathing, ADD video game set. But of course this is all self-evident.

  • July 6, 2011, 2:35 p.m. CST

    Batman inc seems like

    by Cruizer Dave

    nothing more than a cynical cash grab. A way to get more Batman out there without further watering down the other bat titles. And it seems lame.

  • July 6, 2011, 2:41 p.m. CST

    The notion of Batman as a vigilante is tired; the character is

    by Dennis_Moore

    better served being primarily thought of as or officially a detective. Just one who gets to keep his anonymity.

  • July 6, 2011, 2:48 p.m. CST

    Fear ITself is god awful

    by gooseud

    This may be the worst crossover I've ever read in my life. Absolutely freakin terrible.

  • July 6, 2011, 3:24 p.m. CST

    Marvel and Fear Itself.....

    by BangoSkank

    I gave up on Fear Itself after two issues, and this comes from a guy that was able to sit back and enjoy the likes of Secret War (3?), Civil War, and Secret Invasion. I'll wait till FI is over, but Avengers and New Avengers are both on thin ice. I hope the new X-Crossover pays off, or I'll start cutting even more titles. Hate to say it, but Uncanny X-Force might be my fav right now. I didn't care all that much for that last X-Event... And I was hoping for it to hit the reset button, but they just seem to be treading water 'till Schism. Thought the New Mutants might be off in the right direction, cleaning up unresolved issues... But Nate Grey and the Sugar Man? Fuck. I was enjoying that Young Avengers mini, but I haven't seen an issue in months....

  • July 6, 2011, 3:33 p.m. CST

    Fear Itself

    by gooseud

    So some McGuffin villain that no one has ever heard of before (something that, with the exception of the Anti Monitor, has never worked in the history of comics) shows up and starts wrecking shit, with his army of 7 minions, all of whom are completely void of personality and are completely invincible, thus rendering moot any tension from the battles, since apparently they cant even be scratched. The minions then proceed to endlessly bludgeon the heroes for issue after issue in dreary fashion, including killing off Bucky-Cap so as not to confuse the youngsters when the Cap movie hits the big screens.......sounds AWESOME!

  • July 6, 2011, 3:34 p.m. CST

    Stark's sacrifice in Fear Itself not news?

    by DrFever

    I logged in & figured it would be major news. Maybe it's not a big a deal as I (and I assume Marvel) thought.

  • July 6, 2011, 3:35 p.m. CST

    DC Relaunch - who's in?

    by DrFever

    Count me in for about 15 titles a month.

  • July 6, 2011, 3:45 p.m. CST

    Batman Inc./Fear Itself

    by Joenathan

    I agree with Laserhead, Batman Inc is good. In fact, it's the only good Batman book out there right now. I'm not sure what is so hard to believe about "the concept", especially in a world of big green stupid boxing gloves. I think it's just that the uber-dark vigilante is the haven of all those weird little comic fans who are too weak in real life and want revenge on the world. It's comforting for them to imagine the fist justice of a hyper cool, somewhat homo-erotic super fascist. Why can't there be multiple versions of Bruce Wayne's Batman? Why can't there be multiple Batmans? Batman can still be cool in the light of day. Besides, if the people of Gotham City haven't figured out that Bruce Wayne is Batman by now... they NEVER will. Batman protects a city of idiots, just accept it. Also, Goose... as always... is wrong-a-dong-a-dong-dong. Fear Itself is pretty fun so far, and not just because Fraction and Immomen is awesome. They've wiped out Paris! How will this affect the Marvel U? Maybe not all, but a guy can hope. Hey, you people need to be reading Mystery Men. Do it. NOW! Also, I know you guys hate it, but FF is great.

  • July 6, 2011, 4:17 p.m. CST

    batman spiderman claymation

    by crazy4dragons13

  • July 6, 2011, 4:59 p.m. CST

    Morrison was the worst thing to happen to the X-Men

    by room23storeblogspotcom

    His All Star Superman was boring also.

  • July 6, 2011, 6:01 p.m. CST

    Everything Morrison has done is horrible...

    by Jobacca

    This is why comics need editors. Guys like Morrison and Geoff Johns are running the asylum without anyone to tell them NO. I liked Morrisons work at DC in the 80's and 90's but as soon as they gave him complete and total control of Batman it all turned to shit. I dont need to read a 12 part maxi series that explains how Bat-Mite is the manifestation of Bruce Waynes repressed id.....bring back Denny O'Neil indeed. Or how about making Greg Rucka editor of the Bat-books? I could see him doing a DAMN fine job(plus the lesbian quotient in the DCU would rise by at least 69%)

  • July 6, 2011, 6:16 p.m. CST

    FF is great

    by Laserhead

    Who's hating on FF? Big things happening. Beautiful last issue. Hope Kitson stays with it awhile. Human Torch isn't dead. He's being used to power the next Annihilation wave.

  • July 6, 2011, 8:02 p.m. CST

    Marvel Crossovers vs DC Crossovers

    by gooseud

    The problem is, DC crossovers always have amazing concepts but lackluster execution. Flashpoint, Blackest Night, Final Crisis......they would all sound fantastic being pitched in a boardroom, but they always seem to lose something when it hits the page. Marvel, on the other hand, has excellent execution on concepts that no one really gives a shit about to begin with, Siege being a perfect example. Tight continuity, excellent leadup, got it out on time.....but totally forgettable. Fear Itself? Same thing. Tight continuity across the Marvel U, shocking moments, the books are coming out on the service of telling a story about some dude named The Serpent that absolutely no one cares about and never will. The one where it really all came together was Civil War, but unfortunately Marvel kind of collectively realized a year later what a pain in the ass that concept was in actual practice and just kind of jointly decided to pretend it never happened.

  • July 6, 2011, 8:07 p.m. CST

    Have to laugh at the person who said Morrison is the greatest.

    by BurnedNotice_Dude

    My favorite part was when he/she posted that: <p>"Zenith. Animal Man. Doom Patrol. The Invisibles. JLA. Marvel Boy. X-Men. All-Star Superman. Superman Beyond. Batman. I think that's most of the majors." <p>Seriously? Most of the majors?

  • July 6, 2011, 8:37 p.m. CST

    Seven Soldiers of Victory, The Filth, We3

    by Autodidact

    That's the good Morrison stuff from the past decade. There's more I'm sure. But looking back, I'm realizing I don't like Morrison on any mainstream characters.

  • July 6, 2011, 9:19 p.m. CST

    I Really Like FF Too

    by NeonFrisbee

    I think Hickman's whole run has been great on that book. I dug SHIELD too.

  • July 6, 2011, 9:39 p.m. CST

    DC Relaunch - I'm in

    by Larry G.

    Dr Fever... Im looking forward to it...I have my fears but overall I dont mind it...its main goal is to get people talking and spark interest and its doing just that....I havent invested in a tablet as of yet but with this impending day and date digital release I may just have to...

  • July 6, 2011, 10:04 p.m. CST

    Goose-Marvel Crossovers

    by Joenathan

    I think you're expecting too large a to-do. Things like Seige and Fear Itself are just larger adventures. It's a cross-over because it crosses teams not because-like DC does- it over-reaches on concept. If they weren't "special issues" you'd think the story was great.

  • July 6, 2011, 10:05 p.m. CST

    Great Morrison

    by Joenathan

    JLA Invisibles Marvel Boy Seven Soldiers (granted, it stumbled at the end, but...) We3 X-men All Star Superman When he's on, the guy's one of the greats. Hands down

  • July 6, 2011, 10:06 p.m. CST

    DC relaunch

    by Joenathan

    I haven't checked any of it out. Has it started? Thoughts? Predictions?

  • July 7, 2011, 12:57 a.m. CST


    by 8footTallGopher

    I've come to the conclusion that batman rip is the work of pure genius. Ive read it three times now, and admittedly you have to as it is so layered it takes multiple readings to pick up all the nuances. The texture morrison brings to the world of comics is like nothing ever seen in the industry before. He can be related to David lynch both by the complexity and sometimes bizzarity of concepts that he pulls together (and more often than not pulls off), but also in the layering. And as far as the dc relaunch goes. I couldnt be more excited! It will be so refreshing to see what talented artists can do with these amazing characters now unencumbered with decades of grime and shifty backstory.

  • July 7, 2011, 4:26 a.m. CST

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  • July 7, 2011, 4:27 a.m. CST

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  • July 7, 2011, 4:29 a.m. CST

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  • July 7, 2011, 7:16 a.m. CST

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  • July 7, 2011, 12:10 p.m. CST

    Knight and Squire...

    by satansteve

    Okay, so everyone has differing opinions on Morrison, and mine is definitely mixed. I'm enjoying Batman Inc. but found R.I.P. to be an incredibly convoluted brain-vomit which, if all the weird stuff is cut out, is a totally run of the mill batman story with a weak ending. Sometimes he knocks it out of the park, with All Star Supes, but then Final Crisis comes along and I have absolutely no idea what the hell is supposed to be going on. I don't think it's a good idea to exclude readers, which he absolutely does. Sure, reward your long time readers but don't make the ones who don't read your stuff every month pay. I also harbour a grudge against this guy because of Knight and Squire. I know he didn't create them, and I know the Scots are supposed to harbour all kinds of hatred for us English but honestly, every time I turn a page and see them going "Ere! Blummin 'eck Guv'na! That chap's gone down the apples n' pears!" I want to have the super power of reaching into the page, emerging in the past whilst Morrisons writing it and punch him in the face. It's racist and it's insulting. If he wrote every American character like "Yee Haw, partner!" people would shit on it. Nobody in England talks like, and it just shows Morrison up to be some mildly-racist, uncultured douchbag. Who is also mildy deranged.

  • July 7, 2011, 2:45 p.m. CST

    Hey, cool, I made the guy who likes Burn Notice laugh

    by Laserhead

    Mark Millar?

  • July 7, 2011, 11:11 p.m. CST

    Why dc sucks...

    by Homer Sexual

    Im not reading Fear Itself, but the cross overs are good, especially Youth in Revolt, which shows how comics can stay fresh. I am reading Flashpoint but issue 3 blew... Johns weakness is he cant stop sucking yhe dick of lame, lame characters such as Hal Jordan and Barry Allen.. And weak sauce like " Supermna would be a good person no matter whAt environment he was raised in" which makes no sense at all. I feel the DC reboot is actually more reactionarynthan progressive, anfd thats why Im against it... But it will save me some money.

  • July 8, 2011, 7:28 a.m. CST

    Lee Weeks Versus Ben Oliver

    by ComicGuru

    Personally I think you missed the whole point in this review. Issue One of the series was in fact Iron Age Alpha so you really should go back and read it. Or you'll have missed out on a truly brilliant concept. As for Lee Weeks and Ben Olivers work I don't think you can compare either. Both were emulating the art style featuring in the comics at the time these titles were being published. Lee's work obviously accesses and emulates the times that he is portraying but its strictly workmanlike. Ben Olivers work however takes the art style from those Eagle Award winning Captain Britain strips and really runs with it. Breathtakingly elegant command of form with some solid storytelling. If anything I think the writing in that segment doesn't quite have the right voice but yes British Captain Britain really was that perverse back then (Dominatrix etc). The events of the CB strip take place during the Jaspers Warp storyline which was epic and brilliant to say the least. Check out the Alan Moore/Alan Davis Omnibus if you want to see where this story went and how it became a thing of transcendent beauty. In fact check out Captain Britain and MI 13 for some of the best storytelling in recent years. As for Lee Weeks... Are you blowing him? LOL

  • July 8, 2011, 1:17 p.m. CST



    This issue says, issue 1 of 3 on the cover...if Iron Age Alpha was the first issue why is it called Alpha and not #1? and how does that constitute me missing the point? was the point that Alpha is issue#1 and this issue is#1 also?...i don get it. didn't say the concept wasn't cool. but in this #1 the concept wasn't explained that well (if at all) As far as artwork goes in my opinion Lee Weeks's art is far more appealing to me . His art just looks better to me. Ben Oliver's art was muddy and most panels had no backgrounds. the pencils probably look great but the finished product left much to be desired. again my opinion but i'm stickin' with it... as far as blowing Lee Weeks, it could be a case of mistaken identity but i think that was your mom or sister...could be wrong though, i just saw the bald spot and neck that sucka! : ) p.s. with quotes like *a truly brilliant concept.* *Breathtakingly elegant* *transcendent beauty (this one's the best).* maybe you should write hallmark cards...

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