|Issue # 28||Release Date: 10/5/11||Vol.#10|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: FAMOUS MONSTERS PRESENTS: LUNA #1
RED LANTERNS #2
Advance Review: MONOCYTE #1
FEAR ITSELF: X-FORCE #3
Advance Review: THE CAPE #2
DREAM REAVERS #1
Advance Review: LEGION OF MONSTERS #1
SONS OF LIBERTY BOOK 1/SONS OF LIBERTY: DEATH & TAXES BOOK 2
Advance Review: CRAWL TO ME #4
TAXIDERMIED: THE ART OF ROMAN DIRGE
x-MEN: SCHISM #5
Advance Review: MARZI: A MEMOIR OGN
Advance Review: In stores October 26th!
FAMOUS MONSTERS PRESENTS LUNA: ORDER OF THE WOLF #1Writers: Mark L. Miller & Martin Fisher
Art: Tim Rees
Publisher: Famous Monsters
Available for pre-order here!
Reviewed by: BottleImp
Ah, werewolves…somehow they always seem to play second fiddle to their more exploited supernatural cousins the vampires. In cinematic incarnations, books, television shows, and comics, the curse (or blessing, depending on the story) of changing into a beast at the full moon just never seems to equal the appeal of pasty-faced, sharp-toothed, and sometimes (god help us) twinkling bloodsuckers. There are a few notable exceptions—“The Howling” is a pretty solid film, along with “An American Werewolf In London” and (surprisingly) “Ginger Snaps.” When it comes to comics, I’m hard-pressed to find any werewolf story of note. Obviously, the lycanthrope made appearances in EC’s horror titles of the 1950s and popped up in the later CREEPY and EERIE Warren magazines, but the only others to come to mind in recent history are all monstrous Marvel superheroes, like Wolfsbane or Jack Russell, the “Werewolf By Night.” Well, now Mark Miller and Martin Fisher are balancing the scales a bit with their new miniseries LUNA: ORDER OF THE WOLF.
Like “The Howling,” Miller and Fisher’s werewolves are attempting to adapt to survive their condition by forming a tight-knit wolfen community, away from the dangers and temptations of the outside world. However, unlike the aforementioned film’s wilderness commune (which I always thought was a 1980s satirical poke at the tree-hugging counterculture), LUNA places its lycanthropes in a cloistered, religious setting. Andres Sangre, founder of the Order of the Wolf, shepherds his fellow werewolves as they live the simple lives of monks, peacefully worshipping God, maintaining their mountain retreat, and even eschewing meat in favor of a vegetarian diet. Of course, it goes without saying that this placid lifestyle won’t last—it would be a really dull comic if all the werewolves did was gardening and Gregorian chants—as an uninvited visit from the outside world in the form of a group of mountaineers is en route to throw a cog into the works. Though this first issue is mostly set-up, it does manage to include one blood-curdling spatter of gore, and I’m taking this as a promise for a little less of the talky-talky and a little more of the snarly-snarly-bitey-bleedy in the next installment.
Though I’m on board with Miller and Fisher’s premise and their story thus far, I’m still not 100% sold on this comic. It comes down to the marriage of the words and the art. With the setting of the book being a remote and rustic area, I would have liked to see the visuals match that aesthetic with a little more textured, weathered look. Though in general Rees’ figures and background elements are well-drawn, his inking gives such a smooth, polished finish to the drawings that the overall effect feels a little too clean and almost too modern for the script. Even more distracting is the color palette used by Javi Laparra. Full disclosure: I read LUNA via PDF, so the final colors on the printed page may differ from what I saw. But on the computer screen bright, saturated hues are slapped on figures (both human and werewolf) and backgrounds alike. The werewolves in particular are distracting in their color schemes; they range from raw umbers to burnt siennas to shades of blue that would put the X-Men’s Beast to shame. I realize that it must be a challenge to color a lineup of hairy monsters in a way that they can be distinguished from one another, but Rees did an excellent job of giving unique, specific characteristics to his werewolves (snout shape, ear length, eyebrow grooming) so that they wouldn’t blend into one giant furball—a rainbow array of wolf hair was by no means necessary. A limited color palette would have given the entire comic a more unified feeling, and also could have been utilized to add more moodiness and depth to the horror aspects of the story. Instead the atmosphere is like that of a Saturday morning cartoon—bright, garish, and just a little cheap-looking.
Even though the artwork doesn’t quite push all the proper horror buttons, LUNA’s premise is intriguing, and this first issue builds up the tension to a degree that holds a lot of promise for the rest of the series. If bloodsucking is beginning to be a bore, you just might take a break from your relationship with the undead and snuggle up with the werewolves in ORDER OF THE WOLF.
When released from his bottle, the Imp transforms into Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from New England. He's currently hard at work interpreting fellow @$$Hole Optimous Douche's brainwaves and transforming them into pretty pictures on AVERAGE JOE, an original graphic novel to be published by Com.x. You can see some of his artwork here.
RED LANTERNS #2Writer: Peter Milligan
Art: Ed Benes
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler
Oh RED LANTERNS, why do I love you so? I hoped that after a first issue which received mediocre at best reviews (not me personally, as I love all things involving Atrocitus and his band of lava-vomit spewing miscreants) RED LANTERNS #2 would pick up the pace and get into the meat of what this series will be focused on. I was more than happy with the results of this second issue, though readers looking for red rage-filled action may be sorely disappointed with what is more development toward Atrocitus’ overall goals for the Red Lantern Corps than anything else.
Shaping an entire series and making characters your own is hard enough, and Peter Milligan is doing a fantastic job on this series so far. When the RED LANTERN CORPS were first introduced in 2007 they were just another clone of the original Green Lantern Corps with a few different overall traits (you know, that whole fueled by rage and murder by lava-vomit thing I mentioned before). Milligan has clearly set out to develop that persona into something more than just a different color scheme. He has taken his time with these first two issues showing Atrocitus’ growth from a creature out to blindly seek revenge for the genocide of his people to a character who questions his purpose in the universe now that Krona is dead. There are times in the issue where Atrocitus comes off as a philosopher despite his violent ways, a far cry from the rest of the Red Lantern Corps, who remain on the planet of Ysmault acting, as Atrocitus says, like “wild, unthinking creatures”. His internal conflict is on display in this issue as Atrocitus narrates (to Krona’s corpse) a story of an unjust war he intervenes in, which causes the questions of his own rage to become clearer.
That art in this issue is handled very well again by Ed Benes as he translates Atrocitus’ own internal struggle onto each panel. The way he draws Atrocitus also gives him more of a human face compared to his original more monstrous ways of being drawn in the past. It’s a perfect complement to the more rational being that he is becoming with each new issue of this series.
I really love what is happening so far with this series as its providing readers with something actually “new” in this New 52. This book is taking its time building the groundwork for this series and I applaud them for it. I felt other books in the New 52 should have done this instead of just throwing possible new readers into the middle of a story (I’m thinking STATIC SHOCK #1). I know there are plenty of people who have written this book off already as just another GREEN LANTERN release every month but clearly its creators are doing their best to set it apart from the pack. The more insight I get into where this book is headed, the more I get excited for its overall success. I hope this book has a long run and is given the time to establish itself as much more than an accompanying book to whatever GREEN LANTERN event is happening at any given time. Definitely worth checking out.
You can follow The Writing Rambler on his blog here and follow on Twitter @Writing_Rambler !
Advance Review: In stores October 19th!
MONOCYTE #1Writers: Menton3 & Kasra Ghanbari
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Remember reading Grant Morrison’s stuff in DOOM PATROL or ANIMAL MAN and just being kind of blown back into your easy reading chair at the sheer amount of ideas and poeticism going on in each and every page? That’s kind of how I feel right now as I set down the first issue of Menton3 and Kasra Ghanbari’s MONOCYTE. The only story I feel equals the epic scope of this story might be DUNE. Menton and Ghanbari should be proud parents because they have birthed a fully realized and fascinating world of good vs. evil and all the varied shades in between.
Though I’m not completely clear about the story just yet, what I’ve pieced together in this first issue is enough to guarantee more issues in my pull box. The story starts smack dab in the middle of an ages-long war between two armies, the Olignostics and the Antedeluvians. Both are the stuff of nightmares--immortals taking humans as slaves, with true death not an option on the battlefield, just morose chessboard moves--that is, until Monocyte arrives. Soon both human and immortal are given the gift of death at Monocyte’s hands, causing alarm to both parties. Though this confrontation takes up most of this issue, the issue is far from sparse.
In fact, it’s safe to say the book is so chock filled with story from cover to cover it is a commitment to sit and read this one--not a putdown in the least. In this day and age of trade pacing and page padding, it’s refreshing to be able to dive into a book that requires more time to read than it takes for a solid shit. The creators take their time doling out information, go off on tangents, and even provide pages of text helping the reader along and expanding on the story.
Am I allowed to say I feel smarter reading this issue? I guess I just did. The writers have quite a vocabulary and though I was able to follow, those of limited tongue may find themselves diving into their Websters in order to catch everything. The fact that Menton and Ghanbari refuse to dumb down their story for the mouth-breathing masses is yet another indication of how awesome it is.
Finally, a word about the art of this book. There may be some who think it too dark, but I found Menton3’s pages to be amazing throughout. Everything from the exquisite design of the different characters to the elaborate textures and hues of the dour landscape the action takes place upon shows Menton’s genius with the pen and brush. This isn’t just graphic art, it’s simply art. Some of the scenes in this book are haunting, reminiscent of Clive Barker’s HELLRAISER crossed with Frank Herbert’s DUNE with a bit of Barrow’s GUIDE TO ALIENS tossed in for warped, yet scientifically believable form.
There are books you read and toss into a pile. Then there are books you experience and return to again and again finding new things every time. MONOCYTE is one of them. Get on board with this bleak and beautiful book from the get go when it hits the stands next week.
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) You can pre-order it here! Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!
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FEAR ITSELF: UNCANNY X-FORCE #3Writer: Rob Williams
Art: Simone Bianchi
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
As with most FEAR ITSELF tie ins (seriously, Marvel, well done), the X-Force take on the events is well crafted and intriguing. The book justifies X-Force’s role and presence, while tie-ining well within the overall story of FEAR ITSELF. The general paranoia and sense of dread that is present throughout the series proper is well devised and executed. The art plays off the pacing and the story well, and reinforces the entire book.
The villain, while a slightly tired concept (a religious extremist seeing heroes as devils), is still menacing and interesting in his own way. His actions raise questions about heroes in general, but also the actions of X-Force, their responsibility and role within the general definition of "heroes".
UNCANNY X-FORCE continues to shine amongst Marvels recent outings, and even a tie in with the team is well worth a read.
SNARKED! #1Writer/Art: Roger Langridge
Publisher: Kaboom! (BOOM! Studios)
Are you familiar with “The Walrus and the Carpenter”? It began as a narrative poem by Lewis Carroll that originally appeared in his book Through the Looking Glass, where it was recited by Tweedledee and Tweedledum. They are also the titular characters in Roger Langridge’s new comic, forced by circumstance to escort a young princess and her infant brother through Wonderland in search of their father the king, who is lost at sea. Fans of Lewis Carroll will doubtless enjoy the many allusions to his work and Wonderland. The world is teaming with lively characters, including the mysterious Cheshire Cat. It’s a familiar universe that still feels altogether very fresh and new, a world yet to be discovered.
This is the single best first issue of a new series I have had the pleasure to read since I don’t know when. It’s irresistibly charming and clearly illustrated, with an eye for emotive characters… and it’s just getting started. There’s a map of the town on the second and third page. It’s not necessary, but it makes the universe feel that much more real for the reader. Langridge is setting up for an epic adventure, and I can’t wait to see where this goes next, what ridiculous characters from Carroll’s work will pop up, and what the hell that Cheshire cat is up to. Even better, this is something I can share with my younger cousins and future readers--a feature which is, unfortunately, notably lacking from a majority of the big two’s new releases.
The art in general is great and perfectly serviceable to the all-ages story. You never notice a good colorist, so mentioning Rachelle Rosenburg might seem counter-productive, but her work is essential to the enjoyment of this book. She brings many of the characters to vibrant life, from Wilburforce J. Walrus to the king’s nefarious court, in a way that you immediately know if they’re a reluctant hero or a bunch of assholes.
As I often do with comics I have an insurmountable love for, I got a second opinion. I brought this to a bar and showed this to my friend, and he called it “wonderful” which makes sense for a place that takes place in Wonderland. You can tell from the letters in the back that this is impacting the kids as well, which I love to see. It’s also packed with content, totally justifying the higher price tag. So pick this up, have some laughs, and then share it with friends. We all deserve more comics like this.
Advance Review: In stores today!
THE CAPE #2Writers: Jason Ciaramella (Inspired by short story by Joe Hill)
Art: Zach Howard
Published by IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo
If you're not reading this series, you deserve to have an angry bear dropped on your face. From the very first last page of the one-shot that came out far too long ago, I knew this was a book that would interest me, and it hasn't let me down so far. It just keeps getting better and better. If you haven't read any of THE CAPE (and NO, it has nothing to do with that terrible TV show from last season), stop reading this review and go buy the one-shot and the two issues that are on shelves now.
Now that the noobs are gone, I can feel good about spoiling this series, if not this exact issue. I love what a completely sociopathic ass this character is. Eric is entirely apathetic, devoid of a sense of right or wrong and absolutely terrifying. Which is strange to say, because up until the cape, he was a totally useless, underachieving slacker. Chances are, we all know this guy. But the thing is, he's played enough video games that he's creative with how he will mess you up...until you die from it. So far, he has taken his girlfriend on a romantic flight over town...and dropped her from a very great height onto a concrete fountain. He's gone to the zoo and dropped a friggin' BEAR into a convertible, killing some detectives. Ok, granted, when I type it all out like this...he does a lot of dropping things from the sky. But in issue 2, he gets even more creative, and it's do deliciously entertaining to watch. I won't spoil it here, because the surprise is half the fun, but believe me, it's a great read.
The art by Zach Howard works brilliantly despite it being slightly cartoony in nature. My only minor complaint is the he goes a little overboard with the size of his zip-a-toning. It remains the same size no matter the panel. So someone drawn really small still has giant-sized zip-a-tone covering them. It muddies up the book a little and is slightly jarring to the eye. Otherwise, though, Howard does a really great job bringing a dark and creepy look to a story that deserves it. This talented sumbitch is quickly becoming one of my favorites.
Do yourself a favor and pick this book up....but a word to the wise: be careful when you tell your lazy friend to get off his ass and find something he's good at. He just may. And you might be first on his list.
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.
DREAM REAVERS #1Writer: Raphael Moran
Artist: Marc Borstel
Publisher: Ape Entertainment
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
DREAM REAVERS is about mind reading…I think. Wait that’s not right, DREAM REAVERS is about tapping into the collective consciousness…no, that’s not quite right either. DREAM REAVERS is about mind control…shit, that also doesn’t work. OK, one last try: DREAM REAVERS is about mind control…well, at least I finally found a theme with two of the characters…I think.
Honest to God, I read DREAM WEAVERS twice and each time it felt more like a collection of themes about what one can do with the mind versus an actual cohesive plot.
The story opens with a teenage boy in an insane asylum. His father discusses with the doctors the fact the boy’s mother just died and something about a suicide attempt. After a brief scene where the boy tells a nurse to stop stealing meds to sell on the street he goes into the bathroom and collapses from what looks like an aneurysm.
OK, he’s gone.
Next we follow a saint in Peru looking for a missing girl. Is she a saint? Is she a psychic? I don’t know; as soon as she finds the girl some American reporters show up, then some guerillas show up and take everyone hostage.
OK, the saint is now gone.
Next…a spoiled brat’s birthday party. She can control minds; that’s how she got this lavish birthday party. But also her parents know that she can control minds and her father gets the “head CEO” (you know, because companies have so many CEOs) to relinquish the company to him. She then climbs up on a diving board, which her parents keep claiming is too high and she jumps in the pool and stops moving. I guess this town doesn’t have any building standards…or the diving board should have been higher…or she’s got brittle bone disease. I…I…just don’t know.
Then the scene turns to a classroom, the first panel in the book thus far crackling with Kirby Krackles. The teacher is hot--real hot. Then she has a student stay after class for a lap dance, then she transforms into an old lady, then the kid becomes a super hero, then he’s transported to purgatory where he meets a hot mind reading angel.
The book ends in the same insane asylum it began in.
I can usually get behind a less than cohesive plot, if there is good art and sharp dialog to pick up the slack. Sadly in DREAM REAVERS, the “head CEO” line I mentioned earlier is not the only fault in dialog and when the art isn’t switching styles, it’s more wooden than Pinocchio’s cock inside an oak condom. Characters don’t move, they pose, and there’s such sameness in form that the saint’s bodyguards have the exact same torso…exactly.
Sorry, I think the dream is over for DREAM REAVERS.
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.
Advance Review: In stores today!
LEGION OF MONSTERS #1Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Juan Doe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Johnny Destructo
I'll be honest: I didn't expect to give a rat's, or for that matter, any other creature's ass about this book. But hey, Scottie Young cover. Oh, waitaminnit. That's not Scottie. That's Juan Doe. Whups...but...oh hey! Isn't that Elsa Bloodstone, from NEXTWAVE? Sweet sassy molassy, yes it is. And thus, my decision was made. You may be tempted to skip over this book, as I almost did, but don't. This was an extremely funny and engaging romp! Think “Ghost Busters” meets the underground mutant city of Old New York from “Futurama” combined with the intelligence of the crew from “It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia” and you have LEGION OF MONSTERS, basically the "Monster Police" of Monster Metropolis. Yes. Monster Metropolis. Why NOT? If you can't get over a setting like Monster Metropolis, than this series probably isn't for you. It doesn't take itself too seriously and is all the better for it. Even Morbius, who is usually supposed to be a serious character, has a humorous edge here. Dennis Hopeless sure does make with the funny. It's not as ridiculous as Warren Ellis' NEXTWAVE, but it's a fine follow-up for dear Elsa and her neck-crushing mop of ponytailed hair.
The art by Juan Doe is absolutely perfect for this title, with its loose and stylistic brushwork and splatter. It's creepy yet cartoony and does a great service to the story. He does make one grievous mistake, though, that I cannot abide. The man-shaped puddle of other-dimensional goo known as The Dimensional Man is seen eating from a box of Monsta' Flakes, but the cereal itself is obviously Monsta' O's. Juan needs to do more thorough research on his Monsta'-branded breakfast cereals. The colorist Will Quintana does a great job here as well, lovingly laying layers of textures over his flats.
This is a really great start to what looks to be a fun 4 issue mini-series. Perfect for monster-lovin' lovers of monsters!
STORMWATCH #2Writer: Paul Cornell
Art: Miguel Sepulveda & Al Barrionuevo
Publisher: DC Comics
The first issue of STORMWATCH honestly left me cold. It was too focused on establishing the team, and the Midnighter’s new look is ri-goddamn-diculous. I’m a big fan of Warren Ellis’ original series, and the AUTHORITY that followed, so I figured my nostalgic love was enough to merit giving the book a second chance. I’m glad I did, too, ‘cause the second issue is a massive improvement over the first. The story has more momentum now, as the team scrambles to deal with a rogue moon. Earth’s moon has suddenly decided it’s in its best interest to destroy the planet, and StormWatch is the only thing standing between the two.
This is the kind of mindbending story I expect from StormWatch, on a scope that is almost unfathomable. It’s good to finally see the team working in unison against a greater threat, and what a team! Martian Manhunter works best in team books, and this is no exception. His first interaction with Midnighter and Apollo is a great moment that shows a lot of potential for the team. I’m not familiar with the Swordsman, but he has an intriguing method of dealing with aggressive threats, even if it doesn’t seem to be working. It’s sort of thrilling to see a book do such a horrible job of protecting the world in the second issue. The stakes are raised, and I can honestly say I’m looking forward to seeing how they handle this debacle in the next issue, although I do miss Jack Hawksmoor.
Alex Sinclair does an excellent job coloring over the ornate art by the two primary artists. Kudos to whoever is responsible for the separation of the two artist’s sequences. The whole book has a seamless look, even jumping from the moon back to Earth. It has its flaws. The first page is completely wasted on ambiguous darkness, and some of the expressions are downright goofy. Still, it’s a good-looking book that effectively captures the celestial danger that occurs. Despite the cover probably belonging in the next issue (the tentacle doesn’t show up until the last page!) I enjoyed the book.
THE SONS OF LIBERTY BOOK 1 & THE SONS OF LIBERTY: DEATH & TAXES BOOK 2Writers: Alexander & Joseph Lagos
Artist: Steve Walker
Publisher: Random House
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
“Get your powder, get your gun, and report to General Washington!”
When I think Revolutionary War, the first thing that comes to mind is this one line from the late 1970’s educational tool, “School House Rock”. More than any lesson I learned in school, more than my visits to Washington’s grave…hell, more than my daily lunchtime summer excursions to Valley Forge Park, 10 minutes away from my office.
Out of all the experiences and education I’ve had bestowed upon me, that seemingly trite little ditty by music standards always jumps to the forefront of my mind. Why?
Because it turned history into a story. It wasn’t just a rote memorization of abstract dates, figures and faceless names. That ditty encapsulated the emotion and fear of early Americans; it humanized the facts and figures to expose the true soul of the time period.
THE SONS OF LIBERTY is the comic version of that Revolutionary War “School House Rock”. SONS OF LIBERTY takes everything that’s great about comic books--great storytelling, lush art and vibrant colors--and packages it into a lesson that brings alive the places, events and people that birthed America.
Does SONS OF LIBERTY take liberties with the some of the hard core facts? Hells yes. No, there were never super hero slaves that used their powers to help ignite the growing dissent in the colonies. But fiction melded with fact simply makes the facts stick better. “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, in 1493 Columbus stopped to take a pee.” Even when my Dad taught me this clever ditty back when I was a wee Douche, I knew full well Columbus pissed prior to 1493, but by adding a fun element to the fact it stayed with me. Any history teacher worth their salt should pick up the SONS OF LIBERTY series; the kids will read it because of the fiction, action and fun -- and will be rewarded with the dividends of remembering the people and events that formed America.
What initially excited me though about of SONS OF LIBERTY and the follow-up book DEATH & TAXES was less the concept and more the fact that Random House, a major book publisher, was taking its first foray into publishing graphic novels. It’s a legitimization of the medium to mainstream America, bringing our cloistered geek culture another step closer to the masses. However, once I dove into the first book the business side of me subsided into the ether and was replaced by the comic fan, because these are great comics.
While the real “Sons of Liberty” were formed as an anti-agent to the oppression of unfair taxation, THE SONS OF LIBERTY comics collides fiduciary oppression with the very tangible oppression of slavery. If you look at most fiction surrounding slavery, one would think slaves were pretty damn content until the mid-1800’s. But that’s just surface history, the brief paragraphs inside children’s text books. While many of the Founding Fathers could give a spit about the freedom of anyone but white men, there were others like Benjamin Franklin, who saw the humanity in all.
Our heroes are Graham and Brody, two slaves working for a very, very bad man named Mathew Sorenson. The two eventually escape Sorenson’s tyrannical rule to collide with the first historical figure to make an appearance in the book; unfortunately for them it is not wise and enlightened Benjamin Franklin, but rather his son William. History notes that William did not share his father’s love for American independence, but did have Papa’s curiosity and proclivity towards science. Here the Lagos brothers give us our first bit of fiction overriding fact to use William as the chief villain of this tale and to infuse some good old comic booking into our tale. William, like Dad, is fascinated by electricity--specifically how electrical charges enhance the abilities of frogs, eels, etc. Using the boys as guinea pigs he super charges them with 1.21 jiggawatts (not really, I just don’t know squat about science) and the boys become something more. They become the enhanced SONS OF LIBERTY, heroes able to jump wide rivers in a single bound, faster than…well, just really fast and also really strong. Plus, thanks to the nature of their powers, they can also shock the shit out of anyone that touched them. Unlike Superman, though, they are vulnerable and are not Gods among men. They are just really really fast and really really strong. Also, like any electrical current, their power does dissipate and has a short shelf life until they need to recharge their internal batteries.
The boys use these abilities to escape young Franklin’s lab and run into historical figure number two, Benjamin Lay. Being a Philly native, I drive daily through Lay’s home town of Abington; he is a name well known in these parts. For those that live in the other 99% of the country and never heard Lay’s tale, he was basically an abolitionist before there were really abolitionists. He was also viewed as a complete crackpot that lived in a cave. Lay takes the boys in and teaches them to hone their abilities using an African-based art of war called Dambe. Once the boys are well, Lay leverages his friendship with Benjamin Franklin to give the boys a new start in life at one of his newspapers in Philadelphia. Franklin is astounded by the boys’ abilities, but begs them to no longer use them lest they be hunted and killed for being demons. Elder Franklin can also see his son’s handiwork in transforming the boys, which sets a stage for a father/son conflict that carries seamlessly through both tales, especially after William becomes the last King appointed governor of New Jersey in book 2.
And so the story goes: book one ends seeing Graham and Brody’s former masters get their just desserts and also establishes the path of conflict between the two of them for book 2. Both dream of being free men, but by different means. Graham wants to take his life-long love Isabelle back to Africa, while Brody wants to see all men be free in the country that will one day become America.
DEATH & TAXES jumps the story ahead a few years and here is where I can state emphatically this is a comic book simply by the serial nature of events carried over from the last book. Graham continues to search for Isabelle after he and Brody set the Sorenson estate ablaze and Isabelle is sold to another master. Here is where you get a true feeling for the time period. Miles in ancient America feel like light years. In an age where we can connect across the globe and information is at our fingertips, the thought of needing to hunt someone down who’s only a few miles away doesn’t seem like too hard a task to accomplish, but again this proves how starkly the world has changed in not that long of a time period. As you can guess, the true source of consternation in DEATH & TAXES is the infamous stamp tax that got the colonists all assed up. Also, there’s a guest appearance by a new historical figure, the one and only Crispus Attucks. What’s Crispus doing in Philadelphia, you might ask? For that you will have to read the book; don’t worry, though, the Brothers Lagos set history on the right path by getting him to Boston in time to be the first man to spill blood for American independence.
THE SONS OF LIBERTY and DEATH & TAXES were not only good books, but a damn important learning tool. I think Random House recognized this as well (or maybe it was the writers), because there is also a comprehensive teachers’ guide that can be accessed on the inertubes, parsing fact from fiction and even going so far as to present the literary and historical questions teachers should ask students throughout the course of reading the material.
It’s being able to bring exposure to books like SONS OF LIBERTY that truly make this review gig a source of pride.
Advance Review: In stores Oct 19th!
CRAWL TO ME #4Writer/Artist: Alan Robert
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
I’ve been enjoying the hell out of Alan Robert’s new CRAWL TO ME miniseries which wraps up next week with issue #4. Artistically, it’s filled with images both beautiful and terrifying. Storywise, it’s a descent into madness like few others. Having read the entire series, I don’t want to give away the gut-punching ending, but it’s a winner.
Issue four picks up with our hero, Ryan, searching a labyrinthine house to find his wife, who, like him, seems to be going insane. The couple have faced rats, pedophiles, twisted repair men, and all sorts of mind bending shifts in reality throughout this series and it all comes to a head here. Knowing that there’s a shockeroo of an ending is warning enough. I expected some kind of explanation to all of this, but not the resolution that occurred. Needless to say, it all makes sense in the end and for an Alan Robert comic, it actually has somewhat of a happy ending.
A twisted ending, but a happy one too.
Robert is a very gifted artist, using mixed media to layer each page, which is both reminiscent of a Ben Templesmith and Ashley Wood, yet unique unto itself by incorporating actual photographs and pictures graphically tweaked in the slightest. In the end, the book gives off a twisted sense of reality once removed. Even the calm and peaceful panels look nightmarish as if to say even when things seem safe, nothing is safe.
If you missed CRAWL TO ME in single issues, seek it out in comic book form. Now that I know how it ends, I want to go back and reread this one from the beginning, which I think is the ultimate compliment I can give it.
TAXIDERMIED: THE ART OF ROMAN DIRGEArt by: Roman Dirge
Published by: Titan Books
Reviewed by: superhero
Mysterious and spooky,
It’s all together ooky,
The Art of Roman Dirge!
I've never read an issue of Roman Dirge's comic book series LENORE. It just never seemed to be something that was really up my alley. So when I was asked to review this particular art book I didn't know if I'd be the correct person to write it up, but I'm always interested in checking out something new and I think of myself as being a pretty open-minded guy. So I figured I'd give it a shot. While it turns out that I was right, I'm not the particular audience for this book, it also turns out that this Roman Dirge fellow is one hell of a talented artist. When it comes to goth-crazed imagery Roman Dirge gives Tim Burton a run for his money.
In the pages of TAXEDERMIED you find the creations of a mind a bit outside of the norm. Much of the artwork in this book isn't exactly what you'd find above the fireplace in your average run of the mill American home. A lot of it is downright creepy and even disturbing. At the same time there's a couple of works that are actually kind of adorable. Dirge really displays some terrifically offbeat stuff in the pages of TAXIDERMIED and if you're someone who's predisposed to liking this sort of thing (I.e.-you wear all black and listen to Dead Can Dance a lot) you'll be in heaven, um, er, hell, or, em, purgatory as soon as you open this book. TAXIDERMIED is the art book for you. It's dark, it's twisted, it's a tad bit gory, and it's…well, it's really well executed.
Even as someone who's not the target demographic for this book I have to admit that Dirge's artwork is effective and shows off some majorly impressive artistic talent. Dirge has some really fascinating paintings in TAXIDERMIED and I found myself just looking over the pages in the book for minutes at a time. The talent behind the work in this book is obvious and while the art may not be completely my cup of tea, there is a crowd that will probably just go nuts for the contents of this book. Dirge's work is eerily beautiful and will draw you in from the first few images you’ll see. As bizzare as I found some of the stuff it did capture my attention from the get-go. TAXIDERMIED is a terrific collection of strange yet compelling imagery that would make the perfect Halloween gift for the goth or even the goth-at–heart in your life.
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.
X-MEN: SCHISM #5 (of 5)Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Adam Kubert
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Another X-event is over.
Costumes have been ripped to shreds (to no doubt be replaced by shiny new redesigns), shit gets blown up, and a new status quo is set up for the new series (coming soon)! This is a by-the-numbers conclusion to an event that could have easily been compressed, but hey, this is a business, right?
As is, the story is stretched out and padded with extra fight scenes, but I can’t help feeling underwhelmed, since this reads more like a commercial for another comic coming out next month. Jason Aaron’s deft characterizations of Scott and Logan are the best part of this issue, as their conflict over the ethics of child warriors comes to a peak.
Andy Kubert’s art is bursting at the seams with energy, loosely illustrated in a way that is at times perplexing, but I appreciate the challenge. Kubert has a confidence in his line few artists can match, and he’s a good storyteller.
This is a solid comic that ultimately suffers from a inhabiting such a liminal point in the overall series.
Advance Review: In stores October 19th!
MARZI: A MEMOIR OGNWriter: Marzeena Sowa
Artist: Sylvain Savoia
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
MARZI is a narrative on the harshness and cruelty of this world, blanketed by the sugar-coated innocence and unbridled imagination of childhood. This is not a graphic novel to be read, it is an experience that draws on such emotion and power that I am still awe struck.
Serious praise for a very serious book, and it is beyond well deserved for both writer and artist. When I originally received this 230 page telephone book of short stories about a young girl growing up in early-80’s Poland, I dreaded cracking it open. I have nothing against life memoirs, but I just don’t find other people’s lives all that interesting unless they are performing fantastic feats of fancy, usually clad in spandex. Plus, what could I learn from childhood reminiscences of such a forgotten period? Communism (for white people) is all but forgotten; its specter of red fear has long since subsided from our Western culture.
Well MARZI isn’t about Poland, communism or even being a little girl – it transcends geography, time and gender. MARZI is a reminder of the wonderment of childhood, that endless amazement that makes the mundane magical. Sowa’s prose as told through her childhood self is simplistically sage. This truly read as though you are talking to a child, but MARZI is the most endearing and soulful child you have ever met.
MARZI also heaps on a healthy dose of American guilt. It’s nothing the book overtly says or does, but while MARZI explains the joys of living in a three bedroom flat with her entire family, I think back to my own childhood where I had three bedrooms in my own wing of the house. As MARZI desperately wished for nothing more than the ecstasy of tasting an orange in a land of food rations, my deepest trouble at the time was whether I could find the last Constructicon so Devastator would no longer be armless. As each vignette unfolded it’s almost impossible to not compare just how easy our lives are. Even today as we face what could be our decline we would still be viewed as living like Kings and Queens through the eyes of MARZI.
Allowing myself to remain wrought with guilt, though, would spit in the face of MARZI’s true message. MARZI’s message is Mary Poppins, but it’s so much more effective than ditties about spoons full of sugar. Life is good--the only thing that’s shit is our attitudes. Every time MARZI imbibed beams of sunlight through the holey drapes in her apartment, she didn’t focus on the shitty drapes, but rather the glorious warm sunlight shining through. There’s no doubt that whimsy of childhood was made even more engaging by the juxtaposition of a cold gray communist state embroiled in the harshest of times, but this book is something more. Sowa’s channeling of childhood, artist Savoia’s simplistic panels that are so apropos yet always surprising and fun--there was not one thing about MARZI that anyone who professes to having a soul will not fall in love with.
Confession time: MARZI is the first book I’ve ever reviewed without finishing it. And I’m not sorry for this fact, because I don’t want MARZI to end. Each day since I received this book two weeks ago, when I am feeling so despondent because the cappuccino maker at work is out of my favorite flavor, I eagerly dive into a MARZI vignette. As I watch her struggles, real struggles like not having enough food, or dealing with a best friend who is more selfish than selfish itself, my problems about my next caffeine fix seem to vanish. As I said in the beginning MARZI is a book to be experienced, not to be consumed in the same gulps we devour our 22 page action based comics. Each vignette demands reflection simply because each vignette is just that good. I plan to keep using MARZI as my little therapist until I reach the very last page--a fate I fear, because we all know too well that with the end of childhood comes the inevitable fall into the cynical and jaded abyss of adulthood.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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