|Issue #11||Release Date: 7/6/11||Vol.#10|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA #1
FEAR ITSELF #4
FLASHPOINT: BATMAN KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE #2
RED SKULL: INCARNATE #1
SECRET SIX #35
FLASHPOINT: ABIN SUR THE GREEN LANTERN # 2
dot.comics presents THE WEBCOMIC FACTORY
Advance Review: In stores today!
CAPTAIN AMERICA #1Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Steve McNiven (pencils), Mark Morales (inks)
Reviewed by Johnny Destructo
There are just so many reasons I don't have a long-running history with Captain America and why I have always had trouble getting into him as a character. For starters, his name is CAPTAIN AMERICA. It just sounds ridiculous. He has a giant Arial "A", in BOLD, on his forehead. He dresses in a giant flag. He has pirate booties, and wings on his god-damned head. Think about it. If good ole Joe Simon and Jack Kirby didn't come up with him waaay back in 1941, and someone introduced this character for the first time, today....we would all laugh and assume it was either a prank or something created by Rob Liefeld. And if I had to conjure up a Captain America from the state of the country as it is today, Cap would be swathed in corporate logos, he'd be a good 267 lbs overweight, and would sling Happy Meal boxes instead of his iconic shield. Also..for someone who was created to fight the Nazi's, I've always found it interesting that Cap was, for all intents and purposes, a 6-and-a-half-foot member of the Aryan race.
That being said: this issue was fun! I would have preferred for Bucky to remain as Cap, but what the hey. The status needs to be quo'd all to hell, lest we see lasting change in the comic industry, and really...who besides me actually wants that? Also, let's be honest: Cap Movie. The boy scout who does everything right is back in the suit and it feels good. This issue reads like the best bits of the Bourne and Bond films all mixed into one. (Also, throw in the what we've seen of the upcoming film THE DEBT for good measure.) There's intrigue, mystery, action out the whazoo, and old timey spy shit! This is a great place to jump on, or to give to someone who is interested in the Cap movie. It's not bogged down in Marvel continuity, there's no mention of his death at the hands of Sharon...though you'd think there would be SOME tension there. Even Bucky is noticeably missing. This is a very clear attempt to cash in on the movie, and I think it works!
Also, let's not forget that this book is drawn by Steve Motherlovin' McNiven! This guy could draw my penis and somehow make it look impressive. He's clearly having some fun with his page layouts and his panel placement, and that fun comes across. I am a little surprised to see that even though he's given some thought to his panels, that he didn't do anything with his borders, design-wise, to distinguish the difference between the story that takes place "in the now" and the bits in the past. Just something I noticed, but nothing that detracts from his story-telling in the slightest. This book wouldn't look any better if Jesus himself came down and penciled it.
As far as I'm concerned, Steve Rogers is basically the writer's equivalent of Chicken. Chicken for dinner is ok, but really ...it's what it's cooked with that makes it so good. And these om noms are tasty!
JD can be found hosting the PopTards Podcast, drawing a weekly webcomic, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating for a living, and Booking his Face off over here. Follow his twitter @poptardsgo. His talkback name is PopTard_JD.
FLASHPOINT #3Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Andy Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Now FLASHPOINT is hitting its speed-force powered stride. Up until now FLASHPOINT has been a smorgasbord of butterfly-effect goodness for long-time DC fans, but the story itself has been more splintered than Voldemort’s soul in a torrent of one-offs that were only held together by the war between the Atlanteans and the Amazonians. FLASHPOINT 3, though, establishes itself as the cohesive glue that binds the deluge of one-offs together. Exposition is a necessary evil and I feel it was handled well given the tsunami of change rained down on the DC universe. But it is so damn refreshing to finally see some deep micro-level character interaction to compliment the macro-level decimation. Up until now I would give CANTERBURY CRICKET the top marks for making me actually give a shit about the people instead of, say, the depth of the European continent. FLASHPOINT #3 makes you care and then some. Oh, and we finally learn where the hell Superman has been hiding this whole time.
Johns leverages his panache for solitary moments on every page of this book. I was one of the Barry naysayers upon his return to continuity at the end of FINAL CRISIS. While I had some fun with the interchange between Hal and Barry in FLASH REBIRTH, I shortly missed Wally and have had a very hard time getting past the fact Iris West seems to have become younger than her nephew. This issue, though, redeemed all misgivings I’ve ever had about Barry. Barry is more bad-ass than honey badger.
Each act of the book is a pleasure unto itself. The issue opens right where two left off: Barry was truly fried to a crisp after his attempt to reignite the speed-force. Going back to Johns’ gift for solitary panel splendor, the interchange between Barry and Dr. Wayne was top-notch when Barry makes Wayne carry him back to the top of Wayne manor for one more attempt at getting 1.21 jiggawatts into his bloodstream. Wayne scoffs with a hmmmm and Barry, still trying to make this world believe that this world is not the right one, pulls at Wayne’s heartstrings to say that he and his dead son had the same expressions of doubt. It’s truly a wonderful touch. Second time’s the charm and again Johns takes the moment for a harrowing rescue that made me sweat a little thanks to Kubert’s top-notch action pacing. The rest of the issue, as promised on the cover, delivers Wayne and Barry to New Metropolis in an attempt to find this mystical Superman being that Barry keeps mentioning. Cyborg is used amazingly well in this issue. Being the government’s go-to superhero, Wayne agrees to join in the fight against the Atlanteans and the Amazonians (the offer he scoffed at in issue one) in exchange for Cyborg getting them into the Project Superman bunker.
What happens in the bunker is pure comic gold. I defy any long-time DC fan that isn’t a sociopath to not get welled up when Batman, Flash and Cyborg get a peek into Project 2. I also commend Johns and Kubert for their treatment of Kal-El; this is a Superman we have never seen before – so much less than Super and more akin to a veal.
FLASHPOINT continues to capture my imagination and DC has been pulling off this event exceptionally well. If you want to simply traverse the surface, FLASHPOINT proper is a wonderfully tight narrative that truly requires no other investment than just that book. The side stories, while at times thin, are also wonderfully imaginative and can be digested a la carte as readers see fit. This is the true meaning of supplemental – they enhance without belaboring the main story or being a requirement to understand what the hell is going on.
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.
ELDRITCH! #1Writer: Aaron Alexovich
Artist: Drew Rausch
Back in April 2010, ELDRITCH! won DC’s Zuma competition, a monthly contest for webcomics. Having not seen the previews for the competing comics. I cannot say whether I think ELDRITCH! deserves to win. But I have a hard time believing that it was the best option, though maybe the most popular.
Anya Sobczek notices something odd with her brother Owen, which it has to be quite odd to disturb the tattooed, wild Anya. After chopping at his arm doing a magic trick, a black ooze comes out and tries to kill his sister. Though the police don’t believe anything is up, Anya knows that there is something otherworldly (hence the title Eldritch) going on here.
ELDRITCH! tries to be controlled chaos, but sometimes lets things get out of hand. The dialogue is overbearing, just too much at once. But the art, though black and white, jumps off the page. It supports the craziness of the story in a coherent way, not being too outlandish but being creative and original enough like the comic itself. Though the little details in the artwork make it work, the story needed to be more straightforward and broad in its writing. Given all that, if you love Lovecraft, the images and coherent parts of the storyline may be enough to pull you in.
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?).
FEAR ITSELF #4Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Publisher: Marvel Comics
It pains me to say this (well, not that much) but I’m completely bored with FEAR ITSELF. I’m a big fan of Matt Fraction’s other books, i.e. INVICIBLE IRON MAN, THE MIGHTY THOR, CASANOVA…but this series isn’t doing it for me. The problem I have with this book is there’s no sense of dread, no real feeling that the heroes are completely outmatched. This series to me has been a paint-by numbers event. An unknown force rises, wreaks havoc, heroes seem outmatched, big fight, hero dies (or is resurrected or both), last ditch effort, heroes win...the end.
I know a lot of events follow this sequence of events but there’s usually something there to keep me invested in these stories--but not this time. FLASHPOINT to me is a better event. Why, you ask? Well in FLASHPOINT, the bad guy has already won and changed the world as we know it, leaving a depowered hero to try to change everything back. I at least have to ask myself: how’s he gonna beat that? He can’t just beat up the bad guy and win, which is very likely going to happen in FEAR ITSELF. The FLASHPOINT world is darker and because of such, has resulted in some tragic stories. Now I’m not going to say the FLASHPOINT series is the best DC event ever (especially since each issue is a super slow baby step to the next) but at least it’s produced some pretty good side stories and I actually am at a loss as to how Barry, the most boring man alive, is going to fix this (if at all, seeing as the reboot is right around the corner).
I’m sorry to say but FLASHPOINT > FEAR ITSELF. Let’s discuss.
Last issue had NO emotional impact on me at all and I’ve been following CAPTAIN AMERICA since Brubaker’s run started. Nick Fury says it best in this issue: “You deserved better, kid.” You’re damn right he did. These deaths happen so often in these events that I know, at least half way through any big Marvel event, someone is going to die, but why? Is it absolutely necessary (and essential) to this story that a hero die? I mean, I know the reasoning behind it is to show that this is a “real threat”, but is that the only way to display this? At this point most hero deaths are a gimmick to gain attention or an editorial mandate to get things moving in a particular direction and that stinks (I wonder what reason they would have to kill off Bucky Cap, only to replace him with OG Cap? July 22nd maybe?) I can’t just blame Fraction because I’m sure there’s more than one hand stirring the FEAR ITSELF pot but they have to realize that readers see these trends and they become desensitized.
If you don’t know the story the brief version of it is that an evil ancient Asgardian deity was released by Sin (Red Skull’s daughter) and with that released nine hammers that have fallen randomly on earth. Each one can only be lifted by the worthy BUT when they are lifted each one of the worthy turn evil and only serve the one called the Serpent, whose wish is to spread fear on Earth, something like that. My major beef is that there’s not much here to keep me invested and none of the tie-ins I’ve read seem that inspired or interesting. The FLASHPOINT tie-ins at least seem like the writers had interesting ideas for exploring these characters living in a radically different world and at the same time showing us how and why the original characters vary from their FLASHPOINT counterparts. I feel like CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS had a great sense of dread; people were dying everywhere and the heroes still on earth had to overcome the fear that ‘this may be the end’ to help people, even though the world could come to an end any second. FEAR ITSELF is going to be over and besides the seemingly editorial-driven status quo changes, things in the Marvel U will be surprisingly the same after this event is over.
On a positive note, the art is great and Stuart Immonen has upped his game and the series looks awesome, no complaints there. This is the best artwork I’ve seen from him…really really good art.
I guess why I’m so bummed about this comic is I think Matt Fraction is a really great writer and I expected some great things from this series and I was particularly happy to see someone other than Bendis handling the big event duties. My problems with this series are: A. It’s too formulaic. B. Cool idea, not that exciting of an execution and there’s nothing here that makes me feel like I HAVE to read the next issue. C. No sense of dread amongst the heroes or ‘civilians’ D. The tie-ins aren’t there to enhance the world this series has created, they are there (in my opinion) to make sales. Say what you will about the million FLASHPOINT tie-ins but at least there’s something interesting about each one of them and they work seamlessly in tandem with the main event (much like the SIEGE tie-ins) and I think reading them without reading the main series makes no difference to the quality of those tie-ins.
I really hate being negative in a review but I think events in general deserve more scrutiny than a monthly book because of the gigantic amount of hype that’s behind them. This is the first Marvel ‘event’ over the past five or so years that I have stopped buying midway through; I just can’t afford to buy shit that I’m not really happy with.
TRAILBLAZEER V.1Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art: Jim Daly
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
A Western comic written by the folks who bring me JONAH HEX every month? Sign me up! I’ve come to trust the writers of this book; Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. Every book I’ve read from them is filled with character and action and TRAILBLAZER fits that bill as well. Though it’s not your typical Western, it possesses all of the elements; a hired gun on the run out for vengeance with a group of bad men on his tail. It just so happens that this is a time travel story as well.
TRAILBLAZER is part TIME COP, part TOMBSTONE and all good. It’s not one of those time travel stories full of complexities and reality pretzels. The premise is simple enough that it doesn’t require a lot of thought. This isn’t one of those heady time travel stories. The focus here is on action. Time travel is just the backdrop, which is a refreshing take on the genre.
Jacob is forced to go into witness protection after a gun for hire job goes bad. The only person he cares about, a nun who brought him up, is gunned down by hitmen. Forced to turn states evidence, Jacob fingers a mob boss and it put into witness protection. But in this story, witness protection is not set in another place, but another time. Jacob is sent back to the Old West and soon becomes accustomed to the surroundings, ironically becoming a sheriff. But back in the present, the mob boss uncovers Jacob’s wherabouts and comes looking for him with 21 Century weapons. A security team bent on cleansing all compromised time-shifted tech and folks arrive in the Old West town, all hell breaks loose. The mob, the government secutrity, and Jacob all converge in a shootout in the Old West. And it’s just plain fun to see play out.
Master craftsmen Palmiotti and Gray are known for their high on concept and action storytelling. Here the sci fi is slick and quick, while the Western setting is fully realized as well. It’s a complete genre mishmash flawlessly constructed. Jim Daly supplies the art that is reminiscent of the classic style we’ve come to expect from P&G’s JONAH HEX series. Daly doesn’t go for showy panels. He knows story is king in this one and capably lays the foundation for it to unfold. This is an all around fun comic; a one shot Western with a twist. It’s the kind of thing you should see more of in comics, but don’t.
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: BATMAN KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE #2Writer: Brian Azzarello
Art: Eduardo Risso
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler
As we reach what’s around the halfway mark of FLASHPOINT I’m realizing more and more just how much I’m enjoying this “event” and most of its tie ins. This week we’re given what is becoming arguably the most talked about moment of the whole storyline so far. Funny enough it doesn’t happen in the main FLASHOINT story, but instead, within the pages of the second installment of BATMAN KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE. This book is dark, gritty and contains a memorable twist that will keep the comic world talking for some time(I contemplated whether or not I would share spoilers for this as it’s such a great story/twist, but there really is no way to not talk about it, so be warned).
Brian Azzarello does an excellent job continuing the story of Thomas Wayne’s Batman and the darker more violent version of the caped crusader that he represents. In only two issues (five if you count the main FLASHPOINT books which feature Batman as well) you really get to see the kind of Batman that Thomas is and subsequently why Bruce is so unique a character in the “normal”, non-FLASHPOINT world. You get into the psyche of how this isn’t someone who grew up training to bring evil to justice but instead how this world’s Batman, at his core, is simply a parent angrily out to avenge the murder of his child.
The story itself shines in that it doesn’t try to be overly complex (AGAIN, Some big spoilers lie ahead so be forewarned). This world’s Joker has kidnapped Harvey Dent’s children while Batman and Jim Gordon are frantically trying to find them before it’s too late. Its classic Batman vs. Joker and it’s done very well. The story is dark and we get one of the more menacing versions of Joker we’ve seen in a while. The scenes that play out between Joker and Dent’s children are especially creepy and it makes you realize early on that this can’t end well. With that said, it doesn’t. In a span of the last few pages you have Joker tricking Chief Gordon into shooting Dent’s daughter while his son is forced to watch and then Joker slicing Gordon’s throat while Dent’s young son yet again watches horrified. I honestly was floored at this point seeing how much had just happened, which is exactly when the book hits you with its strongest sucker punch. While you’re still trying to digest what just happened to Chief Gordon and Dent’s daughter, you flip to the last page where it’s revealed that Batman indeed already knows Joker’s true identity and it is none other than his wife, Martha Wayne. In a way, as twisted as she is, this Joker has the most grounded origin as the murder of one’s child could clearly drive someone mad. All in all, a great story with a great twist.
Though it’s hard to transition from that story twist to anything else, there have to be some words commending Eduardo Risso for his artwork. The art in the book is a perfect complement to Azzarello’s story. It’s dark and helps covey the brooding nature of the story being told. I especially love the use of shadows as they are almost a character on their own.
With one issue left of BATMAN KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE to go, I honestly have no idea where this story is headed after the events told here. There was a reveal earlier in the story that this world’s Oracle is Selina Kyle instead of Barbara Gordon so maybe we’ll get a little more explanation on that but I think it was more of a cameo to show how the FLASHPOINT world is different than anything else. I know many people are writing off the entire FLASHPOINT “event” as just another ELSEWORLDS story but I think that’s an unfair assessment. The events taking place in this story and other FLASHPOINT titles are leading to the entire re-launch of the DCU, so while more than likely these stories will no longer “exist” come September, they are still the events that will bring about that change (i.e. the horrors of this issue causing Batman to help Flash fix and reset the DCU in the main FLASHPOINT storyline). I for one am enjoying this series and think it’s great to watch a writer and artist tell a fantastic story when they have the freedom of creating their own continuity as they go. To put it simply, this is definitely worth your $2.99.
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CONTINUUM #1Writer: Stephen Snyder & Sean O’Reilly
Illustrator: B.C. Hailes
Publisher: Arcana Studios
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty
Time travel is a messy business not only from a historical standpoint, but also when trying to assemble a coherent narrative while telling a time travel story. CONTINUUM, despite its sensitive subject matter and principal location, delivers the goods without insulting the reader (or their intelligence). In 2010, Israel’s Prime Minister is assassinated. They retaliate, a bunch of other countries get involved and the planet eventually turns into a game of SCORCHED EARTH. Humans survive, but the planet is slowly dying as a result of the fallout. A space race ensues and while scouting for other worlds that could potentially support life, a “singularity” is discovered. The powers that be decide to use this gate to go back in time and prevent the assassination, thus preventing World War Three.
The story kicks off as the special ops team from the year 2068, assigned to stop the assassination, arrives in the Middle East. Like every military unit in pop culture, they like to wave their guns around and bicker with one another. They reminded me of the squad from ALIENS and taking the place of Ripley is historian Davis Marcus, who has studied “The Longest Day” (as it’s referred to) and is intimately familiar with all the major players. They have two days to find the assassin and dispose of him, so it should be a piece of cake, right? Well, like Ludwig Beck said in VALKYRIE, “This is a military operation; nothing ever goes according to plan.” And that pretty much sums up what CONTINUUM is all about. A small team of soldiers (plus one bookworm) is on a suicide mission to stop nukes from dropping and killing the planet.
Co-written by Stephen Snyder & Sean O’Reilly, CONTINUUM does a nice job of getting the pacing right. While the story, at its most basic, has been done ad nauseam, Snyder and O’Reilly elevate the material by adding a few unsuspecting twists and turns to keep it fresh. At the same time, they don’t use them as a gimmick nor do they swerve too far from the narrative, saving the reader the anguish of trying to keep track of a half-dozen sub-plots. I particularly appreciated the end, more specifically the last panel, as it leaves you with several different interpretations. Someone accomplishes their mission, but I’m still not sure who. The fact that I’m still thinking about it is a good sign as I’ve read my share of similar stories whose message was expunged as soon as the back cover made contact with the coffee table. I also think it was smart to encapsulate the story.
Let’s face it, not only do you have to sidestep the paradoxes of time travel, but also the sensitivity landmines of the unrest in the Middle East. Jews, Muslims, politics and time travel – how Snyder and O’Reilly got in and out without stepping on a butterfly is beyond me, but they pulled it off. And the emotional brush by B.C. Hailes has a subtle but transforming effect on the narrative. I could have done without the character layouts in between chapters rather than as a gallery at the end (slows the pulse), but overall this was a well crafted, well executed book that should satisfy readers of multiple genres.
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RED SKULL: INCARNATE #1Writer: Greg Pak
Art: Mirko Colak
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
I broke my rule of not buying new miniseries this week for three reasons. One, the cover of this book by David Aja is absolutely iconic and gorgeously devilish. The simple image of the Red Skull grimacing over a scene of war is all forms of cool. Second, I read the simple word P-A-K on the cover and I’ve come to trust writer Greg Pak who churns out more hits than misses with HULK and HERCULES. Third and most importantly, I’d never seen the Red Skull in his own series; one that promises to tell his untold origin. As long as I remember, the Skull’s origins are hazy and I honestly don’t think I’ve read a story about his past. So with a cool cover, the promise of the Red Skull’s origin within its pages, and a trusted writer at the wheel, this comic ended up on my pile and turned out to be the first one I read this week.
Now, it’s kind of hard to sift through the crap when it comes to CAPTAIN AMERICA books these days. Taking full advantage of the upcoming movie, Marvel has unleashed a slew of Cap comics; most of them pretty lackluster and redundant. But this comic, focusing on Cap’s arch foe is the cream of the crop.
Pak plays with the readers sense of morality here, making us feel for a character we know will grow up to be a monster. He imbues Johann Schmidt with enough humanity here as a young boy for us to actually root for him to take a left instead of heading down that path we all know he’s destined to tread. He does this by giving the young Skull some noble qualities, you wouldn’t expect.
Plus Pak doesn’t play fair by putting a puppy into the mix. No fair, Pak, for using a puppy, damn you. Pulled me right into the story and soon I forgot that this was an origin story of one of the most notorious fictional Nazis ever to grace the printed page. All I cared was if this little kid would actually save his friend’s puppy. For that, Pak deserves special praise for manipulating me so.
The story takes a very dark turn toward the end, as Pak injects bits of the Weimar Revolution into the narrative and we’re reminded just who this book is about. Pak seems to have done his research, placing Schmidt’s story in the middle of the Nazi party in its infant stage. This eye for detail is not often seen in comics these days.
Newcomer artist (at least to me) Mirko Colak supplies some capable and crisp panels to this issue. His style reminds me of Mike McKone’s, focusing on differentiation of faces and expressions while conveying energy as well with the rest of the body.
This untold tale of the young Red Skull is just a fully enjoyable issue. It is relentless in that Pak doesn’t play it fair or nice. He knows this is the story of a villain and doesn’t pull an Anikin Skywalker by steering you otherwise. Here, we see the seeds of the evil that fills the Red Skull growing. The rest of INCARNATE is going to be a hell of a ride.
SECRET SIX #35Writer: Gail Somone
Art: J. Califiore
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
Goddamn, I'm going to miss this lot!
Well, I am. A lot! It doesn't matter to me what writers they reveal in reports, or what interviews give about the upcoming reboot of DC. All that matters is SECRET SIX will not be among the surviving series. Yes, there is SUICIDE SQUAD, but look at that cover, and just try to convince yourself they're anything alike. The preview bothers me on a number of levels. And one of the biggest is that nothing DC produces can be anything near as entertaining as this series, or this issue.
Writing: (5/5) I do rather adore Gail Simone. This series has if nothing else been a brilliant showcase of her talents as a writer. The tense nature of Catman and Bane's conversation in the woods seems to come from a completely different series than King Shark's assault on the Penguin's fortress. I take back the things I said about him when he was introduced. Simone has committed to his lunacy, and it's lent itself to a very entertaining character. His one charge (despite being obviously meant as a suicide run) is so full of glee and excitement, it's impossible not to be pleased that he survives. And against that runs the rehabilitation of Knockout after her rescue from hell. It takes her most of the issue to remember anything past the hellish nature she was forced to deal with, but it's a heartwarming moment to see her truly remember Scandal. I'd rather have the development be built upon, but with the series’ looming end, it's quite excusable. On the contrary, Simone takes a number of running subplots and B story lines (Deadshot/Jeanette, the question of Catman's morality, Bane's current mindset), and at least begins to resolve them. While these beats would have undoubtedly been settled later and even better with more time, time is not something Simone has. But rather than ignore them, she sets about finishing them. The book flows quickly and with flourish (if a little too fast), never meeting a dull slide. The conclusion of the book (which includes maybe one of the most intimidating Penguins in recent memory, but still clearly a Simone-written one) elevates the story and pushes the team closer to its final conclusion.
The sad part is, the series doesn't have time to really explore Bane's plan. This is a Bane who has ceased any attempts to be "heroic" or even "honorable". His plan will deafeningly thrust the team into full out villainy, and quite anger one of the principal heroes of the DC universe. But it makes perfect sense, and if the series had time to build on this premise, I'd gladly read an event book about the war that breaks out between the two factions. That's really the only flaw with the issue; it leaves me wanting more. And really, that's not a flaw. Just a very big reason why this reboot is bothering me so much.
Art: (5/5) Really, there's only so many times I can call the art to something fantastic. And I've done enough SECRET SIX reviews (really, it was partly because this book always stood out to me the most every time I read it, and partly because I gave into my ego and hoped people might take up my suggestions and give the book a try--there aren't enough people reading this series, because not everyone is reading it) that you should know how much I love the art in this series. But, for nostalgia’s sake, let's go again. Framing is perfect, engaging without being confusing. The shadows and colors (save a few errors here and there) are magnificent; credit to Kalisz. The characters are as distinct and just cool as ever. Calafiore is one of my favorite artists working in comics today, and he's never steered me wrong. And this issue, between the action beats and smaller moments, just looks brilliant.
Best Moment: King Shark's song. Oh fuck, I haven't laughed that hard at a super hero comic in a while.
Worst Moment: Knowing there won't be a big event book about this story.
Overall: (5/5) I really love this book. If you don't, you're wrong. Not an opinion, just a brief statement of fact.
JUGHEAD #208Writer: Craig Boldman
Artist: Rex Lindsey
Publisher: Archie Comics
Last we left Jughead he was without a home after a fight with his dad and ruining the Andrews’ house.
Now, the boys have heard that he is living with all girls and wants the dirty secrets. But it ain’t what they think. JUGHEAD #208 finds Jughead staying with his long time admirer, Ethel, along with her mother, grandmother, and niece. Though he has been hounded by Ethel for years, this setup isn’t that bad. All four women are wonderful cooks and bakers, filling Jughead with tremendous amounts of goodies. But Ethel is behaving odder…than usual. She continually is hiding objects from Jughead.
This may not be a good comic, when compared to what else is available, but it is a good JUGHEAD comic. It gets the characterizations right, features a few good twists and jokes along with some flops in both departments, and even throws a nice jab at Archie.
It does what has come to be expected from the series, nothing more and nothing less.
FLASHPOINT: ABIN SUR THE GREEN LANTERN # 2Writer: Adam Schlagman
Art: Felipe Massafera, Robson Rocha and Joe Prado
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler
So, I’ll just start out with some honesty here. I can’t fully review FLASHPOINT: ABIN SUR THE GREEN LANTERN # 2 without admitting that I am a little biased. See, the thing is, I love all things Sinestro. I love that despite all of his evil deeds I still want to root for him and still consider him the greatest of the Green Lanterns. So when I saw him on the cover of this issue looking like he’s preparing to put Abin Sur out of his misery (Old Yeller style), it was a no brainer that I was buying this. That said, I’ll do the best I can reviewing (WITH SPOILERS) the issue.
The book starts off much like the first issue did with a flashback scene, except instead of Abin as a child we now see him training Sinestro on Ungara “many years ago”. From there we’re rocketed forward to the well-known scene of Abin’s crashed ship being found by Hal Jordan, except in the FLASHPOINT universe Abin doesn’t die and pass the ring to Hal, but instead Cyborg, working on behalf of the U.S. Government shows up, shoos Hal away and takes Abin in for questioning/experimentation. As Abin heals, after some coaxing from Cyborg (who seems to be the FLASHPOINT world’s own mixture of Iron Man and Captain America), he joins what is apparently President Obama’s own superhero squad and flies off to check Europe for survivors of the Atlantean/Amazonian war that is taking place. While doing all this he is warned again by the Guardians that he is not following orders (given to him in the first issue) to retrieve the white entity from Earth before it is destroyed. They also warn him he’s dangerously close to having his ring stripped from him for disobedience, though he ignores them completely upon hearing this. This all leads up to Sinestro arriving to inform Abin that he knows what’s happening in this world (due to an imprisoned Atrocitus informing him…though how he knows is never explained) and is aware of the prior nonFLASHPOINT timeline. Abin doesn’t want to hear what Sinestro’s selling and a huge fight breaks out between the two ending in Sinestro amputating Abin’s ring slinging hand with one of his blade constructs.
One of the things that I don’t quite get about this book is why we’re being given so much backstory about Abin when it seems like he’s about to be murdered by Sinestro at the end of this issue. It feels like Adam Schlagman is trying to explain everything about Abin’s personality to new readers (I assume they were hoping maybe the GREEN LANTERN movie would have some new people picking up comics…though I highly doubt that is the case after seeing the GREEN LANTERN film) as quickly as possible while also trying to balance Sinestro’s role in what’s actually happening to the universe in the main FLASHPOINT storyline. With that in mind, the second thing I don’t get is why this book is even about Abin Sur. I mean, I like Abin and I’m pretty much fine with any GREEN LANTERN story personally, but it seems to me like the most important parts of these first two issues (here goes my bias in full swing) revolve around Sinestro gaining knowledge of the FLASHPOINT prophecy. I just think this book would serve a better purpose if it were more about Sinestro and the FLASHPOINT event as a whole (though, in the writer’s defense, I also think breakfast, lunch and dinner should involve more Sinestro as well, so what do I know).
As far as the artwork in the issue goes, it is drawn very well, though I think it does suffer a little from having three different artists handling the job. There are a few times that I turned the page and the artwork style completely changed, so much so that it took me out of the story. The other thing I have to mention is the Lantern’s costume designs as well as the design of the Guardians both clearly seem to be taken straight from the movie. I don’t have a problem with it; I just thought it was interesting that in the FLASHPOINT universe some designs follow the DC movie style exactly (side note: the FLASHPOINT Joker also suspiciously looks like Heath Ledger’s take from THE DARK KNIGHT).
Overall I still enjoyed the issue, but like I already said, it’s very hard for me to not like a GREEN LANTERN story that involves Sinestro. I’m looking forward to seeing how the final third issue of this pans out and if Sinestro actually has a bigger role to play in the FLASHPOINT finale as a whole. All in all it’s a good read but if you only have one or two DCU books you’re looking to pick up, you may want to skip this in lieu of the third issue of the main FLASHPOINT title or the fantastic FLASHPOINT: BATMAN KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE #2.
VENGEANCE #1Writer: Joe Casey
Art: Nick Dragotta
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Joe Casey is my kind of writer. He doesn’t care about product placing Spider-Man or Wolverine or Iron Man into the story. Joe’s story lingers on the fringes of the Marvel U, that area filled with imaginative characters and concepts, otherwise gathering dust while Marvel focuses on a select few.
You don’t have to have an extensive knowledge of the Marvel U to enjoy VENGEANCE, but it does help. Casey is telling a complex and fun tale with mostly new or reduxed characters; a perfect Miss America, a brash new humanoid version of the Ultimate Nullifier, a trippy young In-Betweener, and Angel and BirdBrain from Morrison’s NEW X-MEN run. Oh yeah, and Nighthawk fits in this somehow.
Issue one is filled with a lot of twists and questions and with most of this cast relatively new, I wasn’t sure which way was up for portions of it. For the most part, everyone is doing their own thing until Ultimate Nullifier calls a team meeting toward the end. I can’t say I fully understand it, but I really dig the cast of oddities. Reminds me of those old DEFENDERS comics, where it’s just a group of heroes who happen together and fight evil, with hardly a stable roster. I’m not sure why Marvel doesn’t have a DEFENDERS book out there. Sure the last few series have been a bit lackluster and maybe the Powers That Be feel the name isn’t marketable.
Who knows? All I know is that, barring the return of a DEFENDERS book returning to the shelves, this comic will fit the bill nicely with it’s offbeat cast and half-hazard organization. Casey seems to be writing about the old vs young generation. I got that much from the cover and the battle between the elder Magneto and the Ultimate Nullifier. But this concept is just beginning to being touched on here. With some fantastic art by Nick Dragotta who seems to be channeling his inner Mike Allred throughout this issue with some compelling character designs and gripping panels of action, VENGEANCE is the oddball team book I’m most looking forward to reading at Marvel for the moment.
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
While the Intertubes are rife with time wasters for desk drones and support mechanisms for lonely shut-ins, very few sites are worth the energy it takes to point and click. This becomes especially true for webcomics. We get forwarded thousands of these sites each year in the @$$hole clubhouse. 99% of these forwards consist of some guy with an idea (not a full comic) who slaps together one page and webifies it. Generally this webifying is a hard to read .pdf, sometimes just a lazy-ass .jpg, and then the worst of the worst, leveraging fucking FLASH that induces vertigo over actual enjoyment. And the rest of the site is usually worse than the comic. I’m not just a comic Douche, I also run corporate websites. While I don’t expect comic guys to have the same limitless coffers I work with on a daily basis, following basic usability principles, taxonomy best practices and simplified content doesn’t cost a dime. Yet still these messes exist.
Given this maelstrom of comic shit that exists when a site does do things right like provide a great site structure, clear navigation, content presented appropriately for the medium, AND the content is enjoyable, well, I have to give these pioneers of the digital age a shout out. Actually, THE WEBCOMIC FACTORY gets more than a shout out; I give to it a barbaric yawp.
Rife with strips and panel pages, creators Tony DiGerolamo and Christian Beranek also put themselves in Optimous’ good graces by ensuring the site had a steady stream of materials before seeking some review love. Again, a big no-no is saying you have a site with material and the site consists of one page that is updated about as often.
I would say the boys almost have too much content, or perhaps I just have too little time. There are over ten different microsites to this behemoth ranging from the newspaper style three panel quips to actual honest-to-god comic pages. Also, each of these separate pieces are already packed with pages upon pages of material unto themselves. DiGerolamo says the WEBCOMIC FACTORY has been open for only a year. With this much content these guys are either ultra dedicated or there was a fair amount of pre-work going down before the site was launched.
Another area where I give the guys top marks is that this site is open for submissions, living true to its name and ostensibly turning the site into a mini-publishing house.
All right, enough preamble you all know what a website is. Let’s look at some of the comics.
PIN JUNKIES: This one was near and dear to my heart. When I was a young Optimous looking to get into college, I was not very well rounded. However, I could hurl a round ball at pins and knock them over most of the time. Yes, I lettered in bowling. As anyone who watched the movie “Kingpin” will attest to, you can learn a lot about life from bowling. Digerolamo must agree with me, this whimsical three panel approach to each strip looks at the tragedy and triumph of not just bowling, but the lives of the bowlers as well.
GENTLEMEN’S CLUB: Anyone who has ever visited one of these houses of low self-esteem and daddy issues knows that there’s comedy gold in them thar hills. Everything is covered from auditions to those “oh-so clever” stage names the girls introduce themselves with when they force conversation on you. I challenge writer Ivan Cortez to conjure up some strip where one of the strippers inevitably talks about their kids. We’ve all been there. Haven’t we?
OLD TYME GAMER: Another DiGerolamo creation and another that hits dangerously close to home. I may not be part of the first generation of gamers, but I did get an Atari 2600 in kindergarten at the suggestion of my Phys Ed teacher to, as he put it, “help my lack of hand-eye coordination.” OLD TYME GAMER explores the ever increasing complexity of gaming as the first generation gets snow on the rooftop or loses their shingles all together. If you’ve ever been fragged by BIEBERFAN-BAYBBAYB897, you’ll dig OLD TYME GAMER.
There’s plenty more to be found, including a multitude of reasons to hate kids of all ages and reasons to hate comedians, but the prior were my definite favorites. There’s also a couple comics I was less than enamored with, mainly because you can tell there was less time and craftsmanship put into them. Call it a relative distaste if you will.
Kill some time on THE WEBCOMIC FACTORY ; I guarantee it’s time better spent on the internet than hashtagging your latest #colonoscopy.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G