|Issue #20||Release Date: 9/7/11||Vol.#10|
Hey folks, Ambush Bug here! This week we have enough content for two full columns! Enjoy two, Two, TWO times the @$$y goodness!
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: GREEN LANTERN #1
NEW AVENGERS ANNUAL #1
GREEN ARROW #1
GODZILLA: KINGDOM OF MONSTERS #6/GODZILLA: GANGSTERS & GOLIATHS #4
Advance Review: PHERONE Vol.1 TPB
STATIC SHOCK #1
WOLVERINE: DEBT OF DEATH One Shot
Advance Review: BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 9 #1
ANIMAL MAN #1
Indie Jones presents…
Advance review: In stores today!
GREEN LANTERN #1Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
For the next person that says “DC has forgotten about long time fans”, I am going to paper-cut their taint with the launch issue of GREEN LANTERN.
I’ll admit I still have a nice chunk of books to get through, but from the 70% or so I have read thus far of the New DCU 52 I’ll say with the utmost confidence that their new holy trinity of capturing new readers, recapturing lost readers and soothing the ire of zealot fan-geezers is paying off.
That is, if you know what books to read.
ACTION and JUSTICE LEAGUE are clearly for those that have yet to take the Wednesday trip to Mecca. Not saying us long-timers didn’t dig them, but they both live firmly in the fertile grounds of universal genesis simply by their chronological placement five years or more before when the brunt of the books are taking place.
DETECTIVE is one I clearly put in the camp of welcoming home old friends. Hey, you liked comics as a kid. Hey, did you see those Nolan movies? You’ll love DETECTIVE. As my comrade in arms Johnny Destructo said last week, it was like the universe only slightly hiccupped during FLASHPOINT. Omega Beams, Schmomega Beams! This is Bruce Wayne. Hell, even Gordon has lost his gray locks to look a little more Gary Oldmanish.
Now, GREEN LANTERN is clearly one of the titles remembering the post-FINAL CRISIS years. If DETECTIVE was a hiccup, this wasn’t even a whisper of change, but the load certainly feels lightened. BLACKEST NIGHT came with a lot of baggage by its close--a steamer trunk full. It also cast a dark shroud on the spirit of the Corps. The following WAR OF THE GREEN LANTERNS constricted that shroud to completely snuff out any hope of optimism or future. Really, when last we left the GREEN LANTERNS they had about as much chance of survival as Michele Bachmann.
Geoff Johns carefully condensed the steamer trunk of history a la Wonkavision into a tiny little carry-on tote. Do you need to know what happened over the past three years? Not really…although anyone that stumbles blindly from the movie this summer on to a comic shelf will wonder why Sinestro and Hal meet one another with a sneer. Let’s just say the experience would not be as a rich for those that don’t know that Mogo is now an asteroid belt.
Yes, Sinestro is wielding the ring, but for all of us still carrying our personal steamer trunks of pink-skinned prejudices this is far from Sinestro’s book. It’s also eminently clear by the end of this issue the main plot of this first arc will be to get Hal back in the green saddle.
Johns gives a fair and balanced approach to GREEN LANTERN #1 balancing in almost even keel with Sinestro’s lament of being a GREEN LANTERN again and Hal struggling with civilian life now that he’s been shunned from the big green party in the sky. Again, this is why I will say noobs will be very confused. So, why is Sinestro spying on this planet of Korugar and getting pissed at the complete cluster-fuck these yellow ring guys have turned it into? Why is Hal Jordan worrying about his rent and how he’s going to get a loan for a car when he has that super cool orange Challenger? Hey, where’s his ring? Returning fans will wonder: how the hell did Sinestro get back in the Corps? Why is Ganthet a GREEN LANTERN? Sinestro and Hal are teaming up? Of course, these are questions those of us with mountains of long-boxes from the past few years can recall the answer to faster than we can remember our wife’s birthday. GREEN LANTERN is clearly a thank you for those of us that care about the serial nature of comics in the long-term, not just the arc-to-arc cohesion of trade pacing continuity.
Continuity is not a bad word and GREEN LANTERN #1 proves it. I’ll admit that the mythos was getting too dense for even me towards the end, but I did not want to see it disappear altogether. Johns thankfully was able to distill the core of the book, the characters, and allow the effects of BLACKEST NIGHT to carry on through them without shrouding the emerald dawn they have ahead of them.
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.
NEW AVENGERS ANNUAL #1Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Gabriele Dell’Otto
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Despite the fact that I have never been the biggest Bendis fan, I do admit that occasionally I find his work on AVENGERS to be pretty well done. I believe BMB peaked pre-SIEGE (especially in NEW and DARK AVENGERS) with that mini-event being the final act in a play that had been going on for years. Post-SIEGE, though, all of the AVENGERS books have been a meandering mess suffering from crossoveritis and rolling in its own mess of titles that bear the name AVENGERS. Now, it seems, anyone can be an Avenger, which to me takes a bit of the elite-ness out of Marvel’s Greatest Champions. Call this title NEW AVENGERS all you want, but NEW AVENGERS is THE DEFENDERS. But since previous DEFENDERS series haven’t sold well, Marvel doesn’t have the balls to call it such. A true remedy to the stink on the entire Avengers line would be to do another redux of sorts--cutting away the fat and coming out the other end with possibly three titles—THE MIGHTY AVENGERS, THE DEFENDERS, and saving Brubaker’s SECRET AVENGERS, dubbing them CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE SUPER SOLDIERS or SECRET AGENTS OF SHIELD or something. While I’m at it with the dream-casting, I’d give the whole damn thing to Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning to do the magic they did with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and NOVA to THE AVENGERS.
But hell, that’s just me. Let’s talk about this issue, which is a highlight of some of Bendis’ worst traits.
NEW AVENGERS ANNUAL #1 starts out with a whole lot of the talkity. I’ve come to accept this in a Bendis comic. I’m come to accept the repeated panels and the repeated phrases. I’ve come to accept the repeated panels and the repeated phrases. I’ve come to accept the repeated panels and the repeated phrases…
Sorry, got stuck in a Bendis Conversation Loop there…
One of the things I find unforgivable, though, is lack of research done in writing this issue. Here, Bendis writes these characters as if he made them up himself and their first appearance is in this very issue. As if Goliath, Atlas, Century, Captain Ultra, Wonder Man, Anti-Venom, Devil Slayer, and D-Man have never had any interactions with any of the New Avengers ever before.
When Spidey sees Anti-Venom for the first time, he acts as if he’s never seen him before. “Please tell me chubby-me is a Skrull?” No, Spidey, that’s Eddie Brock in an anti-symbiote costume. You know, one of your arch nemeses? You showed up in his miniseries and he’s shown up in your own over the last year…for the sake of a not-very-funny line, Bendis scrubs continuity clean, like a shorter, less muscular yet equally bald Mr. Clean.
More continuity cleanliness ensues as Atlas, who once fought Luke Cage for the name Power Man, does so again, and they share nothing but one line, “Not my first rodeo, bud”, which is hardly an indication that the two know each other.
In flashback, Simon Williams aka Wonder Man reflects on how Scarlett Witch is a major threat caused by the Avengers. This is the same Simon Williams who had a love triangle with Wanda and the Vision, yet none of that history between the characters is even acknowledged.
Even smaller connections between characters such as the fact that Captain Ultra and Ms. Marvel were both part of the 50 State Initiative or that Mockingbird and Century were both a part of the Avengers West Coast branch. Or that Ms. Marvel and many other Avengers mourned at Goliath’s funeral when he was unnecessarily killed in CIVIL WAR. Or that D-Man has been a running joke for Bendis since the beginning, but has been a steadfast ally of Cap and a reserve member of the team for over a decade. Hell, Devil Slayer was a Defender and Doc Strange doesn’t even bat a salt and pepper eyelash at his appearance!
If Bendis would have done an ounce of research, he could have made this battle so much more than the hollow slugfest it actually turned out to be. Why cast a group with so much history with these Avengers if you’re not going to use it for the sake of story? In the end, after wiping the floor with the New Avengers, this team of Revengers led by Wonder Man are amazed at their victory like the rank amateurs they aren’t.
Gabriele Dell’Otto delivers a capable issue, but one showing no growth in the years since I last saw his (her?) work in SECRET WAR. Nothing spectacular here other than the fact that the scenes with giants were done well. Unremarkable, but capable--which doesn’t really seem like a compliment to me.
I like the fact that Marvel is making these annuals matter. Lately, the annuals have been filler I wouldn’t line my cat’s litter box with. But aside from one line where Jessica Jones comments that the team they are fighting has not one but two giants (one would think they would more likely be wondering why long-time ally Black Goliath is fighting against them), this issue is a clear indication that Bendis needs to realize that the Marvel Universe he is writing is much bigger than himself. Do the research. I rattled off those facts above from memory. There’s got to be a Handbook of the Marvel Universe laying around Marvel’s offices. Or maybe an editor could step in and, I don’t know, let the bald one know who should know what and where the connections lie. Bendis is even scrubbing his own continuity just to deliver some vaguely entertaining lines and a cool lineup. In the hands of Van Lente, Slott, Parker, Pak, Lanning, Abnett, Gage, or Hickman, I’d be stoked to see the Revengers roster battling the Avengers with a proactive vs. reactionary moral battle. Under Bendis, he might as well have come up with new lame characters.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Mark is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and will be releasing FAMOUS MONSTERS first ever comic book miniseries LUNA in October (co-written by Martin Fisher with art by Tim Rees) Order Code: AUG111067! Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!
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GREEN ARROW #1Writer: J.T. Krul
Art: Dan Jurgens
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler
Whether you like it or not, GREEN ARROW #1 is a perfect example of what THE NEW 52 promised to be. It has taken the classic character of Oliver Queen and tried its best to reinvent him for a new generation of readers. While it is definitely not even close to my favorite DC release this week, it does enough to make readers curious about what the future holds for this new version of GREEN ARROW.
J.T. Krul gets to continue his writing of GREEN ARROW but now gets to sink his teeth into the actual reinvention of the character. What we’re given is a much younger version of Oliver than we’re used to, who comes off as kind of a cross between Steve Jobs (including a mention of Oliver’s Q-phone and Q-pad creations) and Tony Stark. The story is a solid blend of action and background, showing any new readers Oliver’s “entrepreneur by day, hero by night” personality, while not being too much for a new reader to take in. There are some hints to past occurrences that have led him on his path as a hero but only enough to keep you wanting to pick up the next issue to find out more. While there is no real threat in the book other than some international wannabe villains who Oliver disposes of quickly enough, there is the promise of further conflict by another gang of villains (who I believe includes a Wookie, an angry version of Wonder Woman and Marvel Comics’ Puck with a gold helmet on…yeah, it’s a bizarre final page), which has me wanting to pick up the second issue despite me not being totally crazy for this new version of GREEN ARROW.
Dan Jurgens handles the recreation of GREEN ARROW on the art side and I liked his work here. Everything flows well and I generally enjoyed all parts of the art from the SMALLVILLE-influenced costume to the stubble on Oliver’s face, reminding us that his classic goatee will probably be on its way as the character and the book develops. The one sore point for me has to be the cover art by Dave Wilkins. As good as his work is here I despise the look of GREEN ARROW on this cover. It looks like Wolverine and Cyclops had an illegitimate lovechild who stole GREEN ARROW’s costume. I dare anyone to look at this cover and not see Wolverine (he even has mutton chops, for God’s sake!).
While definitely not the best entry in the slew of DC’s relaunch books, GREEN ARROW is still interesting enough to warrant me picking up the next issue.
You can follow The Writing Rambler on his blog here and follow on Twitter @Writing_Rambler !
GODZILLA: KINGDOM OF MONSTERS #6Writer: Eric Powell & Tracy Marsh
Art: Victor Santos
GODZILLA: GANGSTERS & GOLIATHS #4Writer: John Layman
Art: Alberto Ponticelli/Jay Fotos
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Note: The first comic discussed below was originally released on August 24th SPOILERS AHEAD
In case you didn’t know, Godzilla’s origins lie with the atomic bomb, making a monster into the anti-nuclear poster child. Over time, this role has shifted, but Godzilla remains the personification (or is it monsterfication?) of destructive human behavior. Eric Powell has constructed a kaiju story true to the roots of everybody’s favorite monster while pushing the subject to explore new territory, some of it silly and other parts eerily relevant. This issue finds the American people pleading for a solution to their giant monster infestation, with Barack Obama electing to build a Mechagodzilla…in Detroit. It’s not exactly a novel idea to once again place an industrial burden on Michigan’s Motor City, but it works incredibly well in the story, while the payoff is both ludicrously funny and incredibly sad at the same time. Victor Santos fills in for Phil Hester on art duties this issue, and does a commendable job of maintaining a visual continuity while not holding back on the large-scale battles that occur. There’s a human element to this book as well, serving as a potent point of entry for the reader. In fact, the book has at least three pages of human insight that proved to be as memorable as the bigger monster moments, even when working in unison. While I sometimes wish I had trade waited on this series, there hasn’t been a weak issue yet. This is a highly enjoyable read which scrutinizes the numerous ways Americans deal with trauma and the limitations of a destructive world. It raises the question of why people think they have to blow shit up to make a point, yet it’s not afraid to have a sense of humor in the face of total annihilation, and that’s an admirable quality that really sets this book apart. The next issue comes out September 28th.
GODZILLA: GANGSTERS AND GOLIATHS #4 is a much different beast. This time the destruction is limited to Tokyo, and the plot is focused on a retired gangster’s rivalry with his old boss. Since the focus is more on the fate of a few people than an entire nation, the scale of the monsters is enhanced, even though they function mostly as background to the central plot. Alberto Ponticelli, who I first noticed during his excellent run on UNKNOWN SOLDIER, delivers some prime visuals for the book. I actually prefer his version of Godzilla to Phil Hester’s. Unfortunately, this is mostly a filler issue until the big showdown in the next issue, but I’ll be interested in seeing what happens next. While the story is not as strong as KINGDOM OF MONSTERS, the art is extremely well done, with emotive characters and great color work by Jay Fotos. Thanks to him, Mothra is a marvel and Godzilla looks like he’ll singe your eyebrows!
Advance Review: In stores today!
PHERONE Vol.1 TPBWriters: Patrick Baggatta, Jim Sink and Viktor Kalvachev
Artist: Viktor Kalvachev
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
PHERONE can best be described as a dance: a dance with time, a dance between the fragility of memory and true events, and most importantly the deadliest dance of all…between men and women.
I firmly believe that if women (in general – not all) had an ounce of the malice of man they would have started ruling the earth a looooonnnggg time ago. Men (again, in general) are slaves to our cocks from day one. Our junk is like a divining rod: at first it’s a plaything before our sexuality explodes; after that point in time it guides so many of our decisions that multi-tasking simply becomes a way of life. “Pay the bills, think of sex – go to work, think of sex – walk the dog, fuck how can I be thinking of sex while picking up dog shit?” Yet, there we are. The Greeks understood the power women hold over (most) men a few thousand years ago with plays like “Lysistrata”, and despite all of our modern sensibilities I truly believe if women kept their knees locked today we would see men work with fervor to end war, cure cancer and actually put the laundry in the fucking basket. Sex is power…and PHERONE relishes in this simple yet often overlooked fact of life.
The femme fatale is far from a new concept, yet it’s a concept that continues to enthrall me with each new iteration. I would like to say the allure is grounded in my deep love of espionage, but it’s not. I don’t get the same charge from James Bond as I did shows like “Alias” and “Nikita.” No, the allure in these tales comes from my own preferences of the chase being so much more satisfying than the kill and my love of the softer versus harder core of porn. “Alias,” Nikita,” and now PHERONE remember that the lacy top of a stocking can be far more tantalizing than a close-up gynecologist exam.
Unlike shows like “Alias,” PHERONE doesn’t have an ounce of JJ Abrams’ unique ability to stuff in as much shit as possible and then forgetting about it a few episodes later. How much better would we all have been in “Alias” without all of the unpaid mythology about boxes and secret cabals? I seriously just wanted to see what new outfits Jennifer Garner would don each week and watch her squirm out of real life obligations so she could go off and kick some more ass!
PHERONE is sexy, smart and told in such a way that it demands your complete attention. Remember “Memento” (better than the protagonist did, par-um-pum)? PHERONE is told in the same backwards sense, starting with today then slowly and sensuously unveiling the past with each turn of the page. Eve, the femme fatale in question, can’t remember her parlays into seduction and murder. Even though we as the reader get to see every hot, steamy and gory hit on unsuspecting men, Eve awakes after each hit with little to no recollection. She merely has walk of shame clothes on and DNA in the form of blood instead of the usual white blotches generally found on slutware. As the story unfolds we learn that Eve is being manipulated as she makes mincemeat of handlers until she comes to her senses.
To tell the “why” behind Eve’s memory loss would give away too much of the story. Suffice to say she is under the control of a drug, but what that drug is and why it was initially developed are the types of clever turns that make this soft cover worth the price of admission.
Something else that makes title worth its weight in pulp is the artwork. PHERONE’s art will immediately remind you of a little title we all once adored called SIN CITY. Told in mostly black and white, Kalvachev’s panels and frames are just as kinetic and fourth wall breaking as Frank Miller in his heyday. Kalvachev also has a strong eye for the cinematic, making a static conversation alive by following the places a man’s eyes would naturally rest when next to a women hungering for passion and dressed to the nines. It also doesn’t hurt that Kalvachev uses the SIN CITY staple of accentuating pivotal panel pieces in one emblazoned color. What sets PHERONE apart is that Kalvachev uses more than the color red; also, all the flashbacks as Eve unravels her true predicament are in full emblazoned color. I found the flashbacks jarring at first, but it became clear as I reached the end that the present for Eve is black and white, a time that is not her own, while the past before she became a killer for hire was the last Technicolor and intact part of her life.
If you’re like me and enjoy your women hot, cold, calculating and kicking much ass, PHERONE is for you. And even if the lady bits and subsequent ultra-violence aren’t to your liking, the sci-fi twist to Eve’s predicament will keep you hungry for more Eve. Right now this is a one and done trade, but sales willing perhaps we will see more Eve in the future…or past…depending on perspective.
STATIC SHOCK #1Writers: Scott McDaniel & John Rozum
Art: Jonathan Glapion & Le Beau Underwood
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler
In a week that saw 13 new #1’s released as part of DC’s NEW 52 relaunch, STATIC SHOCK may be one of the most underpromoted of all the books and I had hoped it might be a hidden gem amongst all of the new titles. Fast-paced and sometimes overwritten, the first issue struggles to be an actual jumping on point for new readers. STATIC SHOCK has a lot of potential going for it but if it’s going to survive in THE NEW 52 it has got to properly reintroduce this character to new audiences.
The story is a bit frantic at times, starting smack in the middle of the action and never really letting up to give new readers a chance to understand what’s going on. There are some changes mentioned from old STATIC SHOCK stories, most significantly the relocation of the character from Dakota to New York City, but overall the vibe of the book feels like you’ve walked into the middle of a movie you weren’t sure you wanted to see. The pace isn’t really what bothered me the most about the story; instead it was the writing of this issue. This book suffers from constant detailed scientific explanation of exactly what STATIC is doing at any given moment during battle, and pairing this with the fast-paced nature of what’s happening in each panel just takes the reader out of the book. There was actually a point where I felt like I was reading a science textbook summary on kinetic energy, which is all well and good if I’m interested in researching the character’s powers but just completely out of place in the first issue of a series. As the action from the first half of the book slows down, we’re quickly introduced to STATIC’s family and given a little more info on him working at S.T.A.R. Labs, but again, not enough to really let you know what’s going on. There’s some quick villain setup as well but overall any questions a reader has will have to be addressed in future issues.
The art in the book looks fine but it’s the cover (also handled by issue writer Scott McDaniel) that may turn potential adult readers off as it seems to be catering to a much younger crowd. There’s just something about it that makes you feel like it’s a giveaway book from Free Comic Book day rather than a first issue of one of the NEW 52 titles. It doesn’t properly reflect the actual issue, which while still definitely is “safe” for all ages has a little more mature vibe than the cover would have one believe.
Overall, STATIC SHOCK has a ton of potential and if handled right could attempt to make the character somewhat of a Spider-Man of the DCU (I have a feeling this may be the plan already as The NYC location and the overall feel of the book has a definite SPIDEY feel to it). It has a long way to go and after this first issue I hope the writing team will step back and give new readers some time to get onboard. When it comes down to it, though, with all of the other new DC releases I just can’t see picking up this book on a monthly basis as there are some much better DC releases I’ve read so far (ANIMAL MAN, I’m looking at you).
WOLVERINE: DEBT OF DEATH One ShotWriter: David Lapham
Artist: David Aja
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Remember a couple years back, when there were about a million WOLERINE comics coming out a month? I do, because after being burnt on quite a few of those I made a pact with myself to overlook damn near all of the WOLVERINE one shots that came out after that. Oh I flipped through a few, but it seemed like at the time Marvel didn’t even care what was inside those books as long as it had Wolverine on the cover. I know he’s popular and it was around the time that let down of a movie was coming out but damn, enough is enough. Wolverine was way oversaturated and in my opinion started to lose what I thought was cool about him, so Wolverine and I kind of parted ways. I know—sad, right? I kept up with WOLVERINE: ORIGINS (aka I read it in the store) and X-FORCE, which in my opinion was the only book where the Wolverine was how I liked him…unleashed & relentless.
The new WOLVERINE series is badass and any skepticism I had about that series has pretty much been erased, but still to this day when I see a WOLVERINE one shot I start getting vertigo and go into some movie sequence-Vietnam style flashback and all of a sudden I’m being attacked and chased by shitty one shots and they’re all floating around my head and forcing me to read and pay for all of them at once. So to say the least, my skepto-meter was buzzing when I saw this comic on the shelves but my tension was eased when I saw two things: one, the art work by David Aja and two, Nick Fury and Shield set in the 60s (?)…they had me at Aja.
This story is about Wolverine being called to Japan by a friend who fears his life may be in danger. Wolverine arrives to find out his friend has been slain and his children are on the run from the…uh…slayers. This story itself is great and could have been told on its own (I could see this on an episode of LAW & ORDER) with no superheroics or giant Japanese kamikaze robots and still been an interesting tale with something to say, but the robots, ninjas, Wolverine, SHIELD and Nick Fury make this story a really fun read. Wolverine has such a wealth of stories to tell, even more so with his memories intact, and I would love to see this team get a run on Wolverine where they just tell one shot stories like this. I always say this, but the one shot story is far too overlooked these days; I think it’s a great tool to get new readers involved, there’s usually less continuity issues and also a reader can be satisfied at the end of an issue that they got a complete story with no further reading necessary. Even within an ongoing series, I think one shots can be very beneficial, especially at showcasing what makes a hero (or villain) interesting without all the extra baggage, and that’s what makes this issue so good.
Anywho, the story here is super tight and the addition of SHIELD and Nick Fury didn’t bog down the story at all; in fact, it enhanced the story and gave it some depth and weight knowing that this was important enough for SHIELD to be involved, not to mention it was really cool to see SHIELD in the 60s (I’m guessing the time period mostly based on the clothing and the hair--could have been earlier, I suppose).
The art is really great and I’d lump David Aja in the company of Michael Lark, Sean Phillips, and Steve Epting that do a great job of creating a mood with their art work. I’d also say that Aja as well as the other artists mentioned don’t seem like their artwork is that detailed at first glance but once you really start looking at the pages you realize there is actually a great attention to detail: when the SHIELD agent (I love how they just have normal suits on) pulls out his weapon, instead of having some high tech gun he has like a .45 with an old school silencer that looks like a damn trumpet mute. The page with Fury sitting in the little SHIELD pod surrounded by surveillance-style cameras of the rest of his crew is a great example of how Aja’s art shines all the way through this issue. This book should be shown in comic art classes to showcase how to effectively use a multitude of panel layouts and still have an issue that’s easy to follow. There are artists now that use basic panel layouts and still make it difficult to follow and Aja is doing some pretty off the wall shit here and it flows great. Bettie Brietweiser also does a great job here and compliments Aja’s work damn near perfectly; they should work together more often (maybe they do and I just don’t know about it).
This comic is great and with Lapham & Aja at the helm I really want to spend more time with Nick Fury, SHIELD, and Wolverine in this time period …like NOW! Seriously though, this comic is a lot of fun and a breath of fresh air after the WOLVERINE one shot craze that went on for a while. I actually didn’t see that Lapham was writing this until I was about halfway through, which may have been for the better, seeing as though his work on CROSSED: PSYCHOPATH may have led me to run from this book and hide in a corner, shivering and scared that Wolverine’s claws were going to extend and be horse penises or some wild shit like that.
Lapham does a great job of keeping the story really grounded even though there are some rather fantastic elements mixed in for fun. I also love a detective-style story where I actually had no idea what the outcome would be; if you think you know what the result of this story will be, trust me--you don’t (maybe you do;I just like to tease people like that). The art is stellar and is really what convinced me to pick this issue up. That and seeing Nick Fury with a SHIELD agent with a poop brown suit on and bushy hair also helped grab my attention. This comic is great; I just wish there were more one shots like this coming out on a regular basis.
IRREDEEMABLE # 29Written by: Mark Waid
Illustrated by: Eduardo and Diego Barreto
Published by: BOOM! Studios
Reviewed by: superhero
From the beginning I’ve pretty much been a fan of IREDEEMABLE. The concept of a Superman-type character going absolutely batshit crazy was a concept I’d never really seen done before. We’ve seen twisted/villain mustache versions of Superman (See “Superman III”) but I can’t really remember when I’ve seen a genocidal maniac Superman. So the concept of IRREDEEMABLE has had me from the get go.
The concept itself began to wear thin for me a bit as the book went on, however. I kept thinking to myself that without The Plutonian there is no IRREDEEMABLE. I mean, The Plutonian is the center of the book’s focus and he is also the big bad. At some point the big bad has to meet his eventual demise…especially if it’s a character as powerful and sick as The Plutonian. As issues went by I kept wondering how long it would be before the members of The Paradigm would take The Plutonian out, and if they didn’t take him out, how long would it be before I got a little tired of reading the exploits of…well…a genocidal maniac who can destroy countries with a little more than a sneeze.
But because of Mark Waid’s impressive writing as well as the fantastic team of artists he assembled to create IRREDEEMABLE I kept finding myself engaged with the story. The concept was a bit tired after a while but Waid and co. did such a great job of filling the book with interesting characters that I just found IRREDEEMABLE fascinating. Waid really is fantastic at keeping his story moving. IRREDEEMABLE, for the most part, is a terrific lesson in keeping a story tight. During most of the series I’ve found myself wrapped up in what was happening and really just wondering where the hell this was all going.
Which is why I was a bit disappointed when the book hit a bit of a slump for me after The Plutonian was whisked away to an interplanetary insane asylum by a horde of powerful alien invaders. Most of the series had been involved in dealing with the threat of The Plutonian himself. When that shifted to The Plutonian trying to escape his prison planet I felt that the story lost a bit of its focus. It was still a great comic book, it just wasn’t as interesting to me as it had been before.
Which is why I enjoyed issue twenty-nine (as well as the issue or two before it) so much. Now that The Plutonian is back on Earth and wreaking havoc again, the book seems to be back on track. I guess I just feel like so much of the book’s energy comes from the threat of The Plutonian himself. I know that seems a bit contradictory considering what I wrote in the second paragraph of this review, but I did also state that the big P is the focus of the book. So, to me, now that The Plutonian is the major threat again the book seems to be moving forward once more. Moving forward toward what is the question, as I feel that the longer The Plutonian’s antics continue the more I just want to see The Paradigm inevitably defeat him. Which may or may not be in Waid’s grand plan. So I don’t really know what to expect from IRREDEEMABLE, which I suppose is a good thing.
In any case, as I said, this issue seems to have gotten the engine back into high gear. Apparently the governments of Earth are seeking out a severely dire final solution to The Plutonian and there is a big revelation coming as to the source of The Survivor’s powers. Issue twenty nine moves along at a fast pace and I could feel the tension mounting as the pieces were being moved into place for what seems to be another series of literally Earthshattering developments. The biggest strength of IRREDEEMABLE has always been the fact that it doesn’t mess around with small ideas. Just about every climax to a story arc has paid off in a big way and it looks like there’s going to be some more of that type of thing to come. Personally, I just want to see The Plutonian finally get his ass handed to him. I’m dying for someone to take him out. It looks like a couple of groups are making the move to do just that and if the history of this series is any indication the $#!& is about to hit the fan big time within the next couple of issues. I actually can’t wait to see what’s coming, so I guess this issue did what it was supposed to do for this IRREDEEMABLE reader.
Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. He's been an @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at www.kristianhorn.com and check out his blog at www.parttimefanboy.com.
Advance Review: In stores this week!
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 9 #1Writer: Joss Whedon
Art: Georges Jeanty (pencils), Dexter Vines (inks)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewed by Johnny Destructo
There are people who, for some reason or another, think that Joss Whedon is God's gift to geekdom. That he's funny and clever and not at all annoying. There are some of these people that love “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and are sad-face-boo-hoo that her show is over. I am these people.
Apparently, there were enough people that were unhappy with the Season 8 comic that they decided to change some stuff up in time for Season 9. I am NOT these people. I agreed with the Buffy crew's excitement about doing S8 as a comic, allowing them to really open up the storytelling to a limitless budget. Super-hero flying. Mid-air universe-creating sexin's. Giant Dawn. This is a fantastical world filled with magic and creatures, why not go big? But, alas..the Whed-o-philes demanded change. I'm coining that phrase now, Joss, nevermind that it rhymes with pedo...anyway, you're welcome. But hey, I got a solid run of comics that dealt with those big ideas, and now, it's time for a return to what made Buffy great to begin with, and for me, a great deal of what makes Buffy so much fun is the humor. In case you don't know, like the show, the first issue or two are written by Joss, then it's handed over to his trusted stable of writers to pick up the reigns, with Joss stepping in every once in a while to have his fun. These are generally my favorite bits of Buffy, which, I imagine, would have been the title of a diary entry by Zander not too long ago. It's the humor and the relationships that really propel this series, and it's here in spades.
We left off last season with things turning out a bit...different. The Seed is destroyed, magic is gone from the world, and we are back to having only one Slayer. Oh, waitaminnut. Faith has a book with Angel. How is SHE still a Slayer? Oh, and Giles is dead. Post-Spoiler Spoiler alert. So yeah, Buffy is now living in San Fransisco and working as a waitress.
This issue opens in a way I'm sure is familiar to some of you: a black-out-I-forget-far-too-many-things-about-last-night-hangover. If you find yourself unfamiliar with this experience see also: the movie appropriately titled “The Hangover”. Through flash-backs, we get to see Buff's new apartment, her new roomies Anaheed and ahem...Tumble (who is being played, in my head, by Mark Webber, as Stephen Stills, from “Scott Pilgrim”), and how things are going with the Scooby Gang now that things are slowing down. There is a LOT of humor in these pages, as well as some hints that things may not be entirely hunky-dory. Splattered between these bits are scenes involving dead ex-slayers, shady dealings involving debts that must be paid...in full, and a demon that wields yellow glow-y things that look not unlike something from Tron.
Also, a quick bit about the art. The Steve Morris cover (the one with the pillow and the floating and the Buffy, duh) is breathtaking. It's absolutely beautiful, and if there was a poster of this panting, I'd buy it. There is a serene chaos happening that grabs my head-space in some kinda way. The art by Jeanty and Vines is really strong throughout most of the book, but I'll be honest. There's a scene where a character shows up that I'm clearly supposed to recognize....but I don't. I *think* it's Andrew with long hair, but I just can't tell from the rendering by the artists. Other than that, though, the art is all pretty strong. To see how it should be done though, go to last week's ANGEL AND FAITH #1, drawn by Rebekah Isaacs. She REALLY captures the essences of not only the characters, but the actors that portray them, without looking too technical. If I could, I have Rebekah pencil BOTH books.
I appreciate Joss' word-work and love that he's still devoting his time to this series, even while directing a huge movie like Avengers. I'm a man who loves a man who loves words. Well put-together and creative writing is rare these days. I wish MORE people appreciated the intricacies of the English language.
To quote myself before I even say it: This comic is more fun than...something that is really...fun.
ANIMAL MAN #1Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Travel Foreman
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee
A favorite well to draw on of mine when kicking off these reviews is to lead in with an anecdote involving “what got me back into comics was…” I do this because, well, I do think it is a nice common bond arena to start in (we’ve all been there) and I like to think context for my opinions on a book I read/review should be given. Also, because I assume no one really pays attention to us individually as reviewers so I can keep getting away with it each time (insert winky emoticon). But ANIMAL MAN has a special place in my heart from a time when I was down on comics, especially superhero comics, and I got shown the way as DC did us a good by putting Grant Morrison’s take on the character in convenient, bookcase-ready binding. It was such a great exercise in how you could take a lower tier character, pump them up with a twist or gimmick or unique central plot thread, and basically just take them for a ride because they aren’t considered “untouchable” by a hulking corporate giant hoping to license the bejesus out of them. Basically, he indied the fuck out the character and I loved the result as it opened my eyes on how comics could be a bit.
The challenge then, I would assume for someone like Jeff Lemire, is to find that next level for the character. That was my assumption going into this book and that was why this creative team of Lemire and Foreman made this arguably my most anticipated title of the New 52 when they were officially announced (and fuck me that’s the first time I’ve kind of realized how catchy that branding can be typing it there). If there was any known commodity currently in the industry that could capture that indie feel and work some magic with that aspect that has become ingrained in the character (and that wasn’t already under contract with the other half of the Big Two) it’s Jeff Lemire. And, like I hoped, it was a perfect fit.
Kicking off this issue is an article piece that interviews Buddy Baker about his Animal Man persona and the life he lives with it and immediately I knew this was going to be where this title should be. In several Q’s and A’s Buddy was summed up as the super hero that lives in the real world. He’s got powers and responsibility and the former does not necessarily dominate the latter of the two. His wife and kids, a life as an activist - which is the natural fit for the character – etc. is what makes the character what he is. I know he’s been around for a while, but given that the Morrison/Vertigo run and some of the action he was around the time of the first 52 (and some JLI material) is the bulk of the relevant material for him, Buddy is way more fleshed out as a “real person” than some of these iconic guys that have had decades of dedicated material.
The rest of the issue follows a path that I was hoping to as well, from playing off the opening page and the “husband and father who happens to be a superhero” angle to, well, getting weird. And then things get downright horrific. It’s all wrapped up and emphasized by those things that makes up the character too. A casual run at superheroing as he goes on a routine patrol that ends in a situation where Lemire shows off how cool Animal Man’s goofy-on-paper powers can be… and that leaves him bleeding from the eyes for some reason. A return home and a nightmare later and then his daughter is bringing animals back from the dead. That’s the ANIMAL MAN book I know and love.
I also loved the art, which I think is a perfect compliment given the nature of the title. Travel Foreman draws a great square-jawed hero for sure, but he’s also had a knack for the surreal I’ve noted in some of his work, like his ARES material or some of the IRON FIST pages he did here and there. It’s a great artistic fit for scripting that is a great fit for the book, which, despite overall tempered expectations for this relaunch, exceeded my hopes on this particular title. In fact, almost on the strength of this issue and SWAMP THING alone I’m overall positive on it all because the Vertigo Homecomers have sold me on its worthwhileness, though I’m ridiculously biased to that part of DC. This book stands on its own merits though, from setting up and selling Buddy and what his life is like to easing even the unfamiliar reader into the kind of horrors that tend to inhabit it. Either way it’s just a good and interesting comic that shows, like the Morrison revival to the character did, what happens when you let creative people be creative with these more malleable characters within the genre. And I encourage those who are in the spirited mood created by the relaunch and lured in by all these shiny new #1’s to not pass this one up for lack of familiarity. Bring an open mind and you won’t regret it. Cheers…
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.
THE LIVES OF SACCO & VANZETTI HC OGN
NBM Comics Lit
Another fantastic historical journey through crime and court history. Rick Geary offers up a highly detailed account of the controversial and worldly influential crime and following trial of Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, two anarchists who in 1920 were accused of killing a number of people after a robbery. Were these two men scapegoats? Are they guilty? In the usual Rick Geary manner, the case is portrayed pretty objectively for and against the pair’s innocence. In the end, Geary doesn’t provide any easy answers, but illustrates the case in a fascinating manner. Fans of the History Channel and “Unsolved Mysteries” will have to check out Geary’s latest masterpiece in historical crime. Geary channels Edward Gorey in his heavy linework and simplistic yet caricatured faces, but adds details which are as to the point as it gets. Geary’s storytelling abilities are pitch perfect, unfolding the mystery and detail after detail in a manner that builds suspense and interest. If you’ve never read a Rick Geary book, do yourself a favor and seek out this master storyteller. Geary told me that this was one of his favorite tales when he was working on it at SDCC last year. It shows in every painstakingly rendered page. THE LIVES OF SACCO & VANETTI is a fantastic achievement and a worthy addition to lovers of history, crime fiction, and superbly crafted graphic storytelling. – Ambush Bug
FRIEND OF DOROTHY #2
File this in the “not for everyone” category, but if you’re comfortable with your sexuality and interested in creative twists on old stories, you might want to check out this clever take on the Oz mythos. Gay culture and THE WIZARD OF OZ seem to go hand in hand anyway. Here it literally mixes as a gay man and his boyfriend find a grumpy talking dog and go on an adventure that involved Scrows (evil versions of the Scarecrow) and Mankeys (flying monkey men). All the while, there’s a lot of attention paid to the accessories and weaponry our heroes have been gifted in order to go on this adventure. Though this second issue kind of stalls in the middle to go into recap mode and a discourse of the various weapons the boys are using, the story continues to be a fun and light story that smartly incorporates and updates OZ motifs. This type of fringe book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s great to see this book focusing on story rather than being so in your face with homosexuality. It’s still a major part of the story, but there’s a narrative that’s going on here with characters worth following. – Ambush Bug
MAN V LIVER Paperback
Written by Neil Hinson and Paul Friedrich
Illustrated by Paul Friedrich
You can pick up MAN VS LIVER here!
Advance Review: DON’T TRUST EVIL KNIEVEL Paperback
Illustrated by Paul Friedrich
There is real wisdom to be learned from Paul Friedrich and his co-writer Neil Hinson. In both MAN V LIVER and the new release DON’T TRUST EVIL KNIEVEL, one can learn important life lessons if the pages within are paid attention to. MAN V LIVER is written by alcoholics for alcoholics and if you’ve ever found yourself drunk before, there will most definitely be a comment that you can either relate to or want to relate to within this book. Fiendishly clever and told with a forked tongue firmly planted in cheek, MAN V LIVER provides sayings and fortune cookie messages worth remembering and repeating. Every entry is hilarious and true. DON’T TRUST EVIL KNIEVEL is much more of a high concept book where we are repeatedly reminded that the master stuntsman is not to be trusted. Though repetition is often the key to comedy, this joke sometimes wears thin, but the persistence of the saying “Don’t Trust Evil Knievel” will surely bring a smile to your face and is a great chaser after you vomit your guts up laughing at MAN V LIVER. Below is a snippet from MAN V LIVER. So poignant. So true…– Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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