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AICN COMICS REVIEWS: AVENGERS: X-SANCTION! HELLRAISER! BATWOMAN! Plus another AICN COMICS PODCAST!

Issue #39 Release Date: 12/14/11 Vol.#10
The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: THE LAST BATTLE #1 One-Shot
AVENGERS: X-SANCTION #1
BATWOMAN #4
HELLRAISER #8
UNCANNY X-FORCE #18
ELDRITCH! #4
CARNAGE U.S.A. #1
CHARLEY’S WAR VOL. 8: HITLER’S YOUTH
DEMON KNIGHTS #4
’68 JUNGLE JIM #1 One-shot
THE GUILD: ZABOO #1
AICN COMICS PODCAST #8!


Advance Review: In stores today!

LAST BATTLE #1 One-Shot

Writer: Tito Faraci
Art: Dan Brereton
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: MajinFu


This is going to be another one of those gushing reviews so if you’re looking for the long and short of it I’ll put it this way: if you liked the first ten minutes of the movie Gladiator, you will love this comic. It’s the classic story of the rejected few against the established many; one you almost always know will not end well for the protagonists. It is deliberately paced quite slowly, with a narrative framing device that works well to enhance the eventual drama near the end of the story, a technique that both enhances the non-political message of the story and teases out the promised battle.

It’s about a man named Caius Rodius, a man whose past with Caesar isn’t quite clear, and whose relations with the Gaul people has become even murkier as the years of war roll on. Once a great Roman general, he quit battle only to find upon his return to Rome that battle is all he was good for. There is a particularly effective scene in a coliseum that illustrates this superbly without using any words at all, a highlight of the book. After being approached by Caesar himself, who serves as a framing device for the story, Rodius recruits a small team of specialized killers to assist him in one last mission to end the campaign in the north by assassinating a key enemy general. As comics go, this one doesn’t let historical accuracy get in the way of the story’s kinetic power. It’s got a few twists and turns, but nothing you haven’t seen before. The strength really comes from its presentation.

Folks who read good Marvel books may recall seeing Dan Brereton’s painterly style in the likes of IMMORTAL IRON FIST and PUNISHER, back when he was a lumbering monster (Frank Castle I mean, not Brereton). His work sets an incredible mood and piles on the atmosphere so thick you’ll think you’re reading a dusty pulp novel come to life. I knew from the moment I saw his name in the credits that the book was going to look good, and indeed it does. Every page is, in a word, lush.

A lot of attention is paid to historical accuracy in the imagery as well, from the costumes of the various characters, to their living quarters. The supplemental materials in back, including dozens of sketches by Brereton illuminate just how well-researched the project had become prior to publication. You can see it in the numerous little details in the book, like the detailed hilt of a sword or the way a northern warrior weaves his hair, which really brings the comic to life.

The tragedy of the story arises from its political intrigue, as the Roman Republic gradually shifts to Julius Caesar’s empire, and the pawns have no choice but to line up in preparation for a final assault. Tito Faraci gets special recognition for introducing these characters and giving the reader a sense of familiarity with many of them, particularly Caius Rodius and his crew, before dropping the bomb that is the big finale. It’s not hard to sympathize with these characters, even as we are shown their ugliest sides in the face of war.

The previously mentioned supplemental material is excellent, giving this 80+ page story that extra punch. I have always loved seeing how artists flesh out their creative process, and seeing Brereton’s various early designs and watching them evolve is an illuminating experience for any aspiring creator. The book is expensive, nearly twice the price of most other publications on the stand, but for the quality of work, and the precision and elegance of the storytelling techniques used to tell the story, this is really quite the fair price. So swords and sandals fans take notice; this just might be your favorite comic of the year.


AVENGERS: X-SANCTION #1

Writer: Jepf Loeb
Art: Ed McGuinness
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: The Dean


Wouldn’t it be amazing if Cable pulled this off and was actually able to stop Avengers VS X-Men from happening?

I would love to tell you that Cable and Captain America slug it out for the entirety of this issue, ending with a dramatic monologue from Cable which laments a tragic future where talented writers are forced to juggle too many characters across too many series, before he kills Captain America (who doesn’t deserve it, Wolverine should probably die for that), and starts a new era in comics where writers write stories, not events. This, of course, does not happen. AVENGERS: X-SANCTION does give you a Cap/Cable brawl, but it ends promising that we’ll be quickly rolling into a new event, that will most likely drag on and force you to buy too many comics for no reason at all.

There are plenty of Loeb and Cable haters out there, but I’ve never been one of them. I really thought I was coming into this event prologue with a fresh, optimistic point of view, but what I found was that despite a mediocre issue, the “event fatigue” I suffer from (a term that’s becoming as cliché as the events themselves – we all feel it, we still buy ‘em), needed something much more potent, more drastic, which this just doesn’t provide or suggest. Loeb accomplishes little outside of providing a very fast read, and even manages to make Cap seem like an idiot in the worst kind of way– he turns his back, struggling to free his shield from a wall, on an angry, powerful mutant who’s looking to kill him. I’m all for Captain America saying stupid things (“The trouble with girls is—they all act like females!” Tales of Suspense, no. 59), but making a mistake that ANYONE fighting for their lives would probably never make is hard to overlook for Marvel’s top soldier.

On top of that, the final “BLAM!” panel had zero suspense attached to it, as there’s no way in hell Captain America is dead again, especially since he’s touted as a main character in the upcoming event. More plausible is that AVANGERS: X-SANCTION number two opens with a pulled out shot of this final scene, where Cable’s gun has a flag hanging from it with “BLAM!” printed on it, and both he and Captain America are laughing boisterously. I said that Loeb gives us a fast read, and he certainly does. This may waste your time, but at least not that much of it. What keeps this issue from being totally worthless is that I like the ideas presented. I like Cap and Cable interacting and exploring their commonalities: they’re both soldiers out of time who are most at home on the battlefield, and that’s cool. I like Cable’s desperation: Hope is really all he has outside of living one battle to the next, and seeing him struggling through his pain to prevent any harm to her is touching. Loeb is at his best when he’s pulling at your heart strings in my opinion (SPIDER-MAN: BLUE, SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS), and there’s definitely opportunity for that here. The timeslides into the future are the story’s strengths, and help establish why Cable needs to be doing this, as well as how far he’ll go for Hope. Maybe a better layout, or more between Blaquesmith and Cable could have elevated this from “whatever” to “good,” but we don’t get it, so…whatever.

Also keeping AVENGERS: X-SANCTION from being anything great is the art of Ed McGuinness, who has always been a bit over the top for my tastes. Depending on the colorist he’s paired with he can be alright, but the vibrant colors here from Morry Hollowell only emphasize that McGuiness thinks strong people are made of shiny balloons. The art does seem consistent for the most part from beginning to end, so if you’re a McGuinness fan this might be a nice selling point for you, but if not, there’s little to sell you on his abilities beyond your current opinion of him. This really isn’t a very promising start for the upcoming AVEGNERS vs X-MEN.

With the somewhat disappointing FEAR ITSELF event having just ended, the bar needed to be raised pretty high from the get go for Marvel to prove this event, let alone ANY event is worth your time right now, and AVENGERS: X-SANCTION achieves mediocrity at best. If you love Cable and want to see him take down Captain America with relative ease, you should buy this, but that’s really the only demographic being satisfied here. The overall idea presented is an interesting one that could be a lot of fun, so there is potential for AVENGERS: X-SANCTION to turn around, but issue one alone doesn’t leave me expecting much. This may be Loeb with a great idea that he just wasn’t sure how to start, so I’ll be giving the next issue a chance, but if you haven’t already purchased it and were on the fence about it, I wouldn’t recommend you do the same.


BATWOMAN #4

Writer(s): J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman
Artist: JHW3
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee


Maybe I’m a sucker for a red-headed, gothic lesbian but the character of Kate Kane I feel is one of the more underappreciated characters that DC has going right now. In one run via DETECTIVE COMICS, Greg Rucka took a character that started out really as almost nothing but a “lipstick lesbian” she was pigeonholed as post-52 into a tortured, lonely, reckless soul, with a foot in some modern political commentary to boot. That run alone should be enough for any writer to build off of when it comes to shaping the future of character, which is why I was willing to give BATWOMAN a shot even with a co-writing crew of an artist I do not recall having written before, and a writer I was not familiar with at all. That willingness has so far mostly paid off I would say now that we are four issues in, though I am not finding the entire package of plot threads going on in this book as riveting as I still do Kate herself.

There’s roughly four threads going on in the pages of Batwoman’s own book here: The main case that she is working, that of the “Weeping Woman,” a recent fallout with her “sidekick” Flamebird, the pursuit of Batwoman by the DEO, and Kate’s relationship with Gotham PD’s Maggie Sawyer. All that sounds like a lot to the point where I think maybe it really is and that maybe the overall suffers for it. More to my criticism, the Weeping Woman aspect of this story, which is basically being used to guide and setup the other three, is not terribly interesting. Hell, reading this issue, I kind of forgot it was going on and what was the point of it outside of remembering some really great JHW3 art pieces back in issue two. There’s a bigger piece revealed here that gives it some tragic notes as well but, so far (to me at least), it has seemed more like a MacGuffin than something interesting enough to drive a story.

Now, as for those other three points, those are all great for the most part. While I did not exactly see much “chemistry” going on over the first 58 pages or so in this run between Batwoman and Flamebird, the events that transpired at the end of last issue were nice and dramatic. That drama then goes full blown abject horror with this issue given the events that come tumbling down on Flamebird’s head (or more aptly, slice through her midsection) and will have many a ramification, short-term and long. The shortest of terms of it all I think may be the best thing that has happened in this series, as Cameron Chase and Mr. Bones of the DEO take a pretty morbid opportunity to pursue their agenda off of Flamebird’s misfortune. How that angle played out was some pretty messed up and devious stuff and some great writing.

The last plot point, the relationship between Kate and Maggie, has been worth it alone for how JHW3 played it out in the art of this issue via some rather sultry and passionate panels intertwined with Flamebird’s brutal outing. The contrast between these two events and what they represent between a burgeoning relationship and one that may be cut short, plus the artistic flare the use of black and white brought to the sexy-time scenes was absolutely fantastic, as have all of the art chores on this book. Let’s be real here, as I begin to wrap this up, if the tables were turned and I was 75% on the downside of this book instead of being three-quarters positive toward it, I’d still be buying because I am J.H. Williams’ bitch. What he does with a comic book page almost physically hurts me because I know I will probably never be that good at anything in my life.

So, in summation, I think BATWOMAN equals mostly good. I am not exactly down with all of the events occurring per se – and really it is just one plot thread that I’m not down with and that could still turn out to be interesting – but the main two grabs of the book, Kate and her messed up life and ungodly good art, are intact. I am also highly interested in the developing story with Chase and the DEO as I have always thought that was a corner of the DCU highly underused and can see how an organization like that could have huge ramifications on a character like this Batwoman. The two plots of the Maggie Sawyer relationship and DEO have been enough to bring this book from iffy status to me (from a writing standpoint) to very interested, and the implications of Flamebird’s predicament look pretty juicy as well. All I really ask of this title now is that the Weeping Woman story either ramp up or go away and that it continue to look gorgeous however any of this plays out. Either way, in twenty pages this book has jumped quite a few spots up my New 52 priority list and all signs are trending positive for that to continue.

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.


HELLRAISER #8

Writers: Clive Barker & Chris Monifette
Art: Stephen Thompson & Janusz Ordon
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


This official continuance from where HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II seemed to leave off (any HELLRAISER film after that does not exist in this dojo) has been a treat to read. Just as BOOM’s 28 DAYS LATER series borrowed heavily from the original film and continued that story with the surviving characters in the comic, so does HELLRAISER here.

For the first eight issues of this book, we’ve followed HELLRAISER final girl Kirsty Cotton, trying to live a normal life but once again being pulled into an intricate chess game with life, death, pleasure and pain all at play here. Also reintroduced in this series is Tiffany, the mute teenage inmate of the Channard Institute with a knack for solving puzzles. Tiffany now travels around the world killing folks who seem to be on the path of solving the puzzle box before they actually do so. The third character at play in this series is Pinhead, of course, who is sick of being the high priest of Hell and wants to live as a human again. The premise and conflict here is strong, taking these characters in directions that seem like sensible evolutions of the ones we know from the films.

I had a chance to read the last four issues of HELLRAISER for this review and while the premise and conflict between the characters are solid, the pace is a bit slow here. I do love the beats achieved at the end of each issue as Kirsty inches closer toward Hell again while Pinhead seems to be pulling the noose tighter around her neck. Issue #8 brings things to an operatic level as Kirsty and Pinhead’s fates become more intertwined than ever resulting in a major change in the status quo by the end of this issue that gives an ending that is much more poetic and satisfying than even the ending of HELLBOUND.

The art here is strong as well depicting both the gritty, grimy, guttural depths of hell, as well as contrasting with scenes of sinful beauty; as any good HELLRAISER comic should. Chris Monifette is leaving HELLRAISER with this issue, but I believe the story goes on. I’ll be sticking with it since I’ve found the series to have that same flavor of sickness permeating the first two HELLRAISER films, yet missing in latter films. If you’re a fan of the series, I imagine you’d agree with me.

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 has just released FAMOUS MONSTERS first ever comic book miniseries LUNA (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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UNCANNY X-FORCE #18

Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opena
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


UNCANNY X-FORCE has always played over the top, which is exactly how I like my black ops wet works teams. But with this latest seven-part the latest uber arc, “The Dark Angel Saga,” Remender and team have delivered the biggest, most bombastic X-Men epic for any X-title in recent memory. What struck me the hardest in this arc wasn’t the blood and mayhem we’ve come to expect from a team that counts psychos Deadpool and Fantomex amongst its members, no, it was the heart. This wasn’t just a battle against extinction, it was a battle for the team’s (dare I say) humanity. I’m an admitted dirty mutie lover…I’m also an unabashed fan of the Age of Apocalypse from which this story germinated, so keep in mind during this review that I speak from a tainted pulpit.

If you’ve had no exposure to X-FORCE (the current version – not the Cable years) this issue is not a jumping on point. Hell, even if you have had exposure to the first ten issues of this current incarnation, coming into this final issue cold would be like reading the last issue of the Dark Phoenix saga. What Remender created over the past seven issues of UNCANNY X-FORCE have redefined not only this series, but also forever changed the course of long-time players in the X-verse like Psylocke, Angel, Fantomex and Wolverine. Well all right, not so much Wolverine, but his part in this gives me a nice segue into the obligatory recap of the series to date. Spoilers ahoy, you have been warned.

For as much as I’ve always enjoyed the action in the X-titles, what keeps me coming back year-after- year, issue-after- issue, are the relationships that bind these merry mutants together. The one thing Marvel has always done right is to allow relationships to mature, evolve and ultimately stick to those consequences with very few comic contrivances to reset those decisions. So, when it was discovered that Angel was the new embodiment of Apocalypse and the only way to save him and our reality was to traverse back to the Age of Apocalypse, I knew we would be in for some true emotional turmoil as X-FORCE came face-to-face with the doppelgangers of X-men past. Remender did not disappoint. While the main drama of X-Force trying to gather the “Life Seed,” the one item that can destroy Apocalypse was enjoyable, what truly gave this inter dimensional jaunt metal-poison-tipped wings to fly was the coming home of once again seeing fallen comrades like Nightcrawler and Jean Gray alive and well. Seemingly abandoned in this universe of hell by the Dark Beast, for the first time I felt the true love Wolverine had for Jean, even if she wasn’t his Jean. Our endorphins and pheromones apparently don’t change in alternate dimensions, and that goes for the embodiment of the Phoenix Force. Watching and listening to Wolverine struggle with his animalistic side versus his rationale side were some of the finest pages in comics this year. I applaud these pages not just as a fan of the X-men, but as simply a fan of comics.

The team obviously escapes to follow Dark Beast, and again Remender didn’t fuck with past consequences when he easily could have. I was truly ready for Nightcrawler and Jean’s AoA selves to join the 616 universe. Thank you for letting fallen comrades remain that way. It was also during this return trip as Archangel continued his plans for resetting human evolution that another relationship, which had been on a slow burn, finally came to a boiling point. I’m talking about the simmering lust between Psylocke and Fantomex. Given the fact that Psylocke was able to free Archangel from his prison of becoming the next Apocalypse and he is no longer Archangel and he no longer has any memories, I have no idea whether the relationship between Psylocke and Fantomex will have legs, but it certainly gave this final issue a deliciously bloody love triangle that added to the books overall emotional resonance.

I’m being purposely elusive on some of the book’s finer points, because I truly believe this will make for a stellar trade. Hell, I’ve probably already said too much, but with writing this good, crisp and fun it’s hard to keep cloistered all of the things that made this book so damn good. If you enjoy, action, reckless killing and some good old sci-fi type story telling you should have been reading UNCANNY X-FORCE since the outset. If you are looking for an X-men tale with consequence that stands on its own as a stellar piece of work, run now to get back issues of “The Dark Angel Saga” before they leave the shelves.

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-2012 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.


ELDRITCH! #4

Writer: Aaron Alexovich
Artist: Drew Rausch
Publisher: ComiXology
Reviewer: Lyzard


In my last review I said that Anya was “truly one of my favorite comic book characters.” So I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed an issue of ELDRITCH! that lacked her presence completely. ELDRITCH! #4, entitled “The Dream Quest of Ted Newbarn” follows the off kilter father of a monstrous babe that makes Damien from THE OMEN look like the Gerber baby. Before issue number four, Ted Newbarn had barely been developed. Not only do we get a much more well rounded character in this book, but also a better look at the relationship between him and his wife.

“The Dream Quest of Ted Newbarn” is all about the epiphany Ted has concerning his dark nature. Even after Owen blatantly tells him that “I am a monster, Mr. Newbarn. Your wife is a monster. Your baby is a monster. You are a monster, Mr. Newbarn,” Ted remains in denial. He attempts to appear normal, but after a trip to Willoughby and a run in with Chaston (last seen as the crazed leader of Owen’s cult in ELDRITCH! #2) Mr. Newbarn can no longer deny that normality is not possible for him or his family.

My last review predicted that ELDRTICH! #4 would “feature a major climax.” Rarely do I like to be wrong, but in this case I am quite overjoyed by it. The tension continues to build, which will only help in making the pinnacle of this story that much more epic.

Other issues I touched upon previously were the lengthy bits of dialogue. Chaston is long-winded, but it fits with his character. His grandiose speeches are akin to super villians who go on and on with their planned monologues, only to then be thwarted by the superhero. Outside of the character of Chaston, the long conversational pieces have grown on me. When scenes are lacking in monstrous activity, the dialogue provides the energy and impetus to continue the flow of the story.

Without these seemingly random bits of conversation (that permit me to say, remind me of Tarantino’s wordy work such as his famous Royale with Cheese exchange) this gem of homage would never have existed. When Mr. Newbarn converses with Anya’s dad, he begins to sing a Bobby Brown song from the GHOSTBUSTERS 2 soundtrack. Though the first GHOSTBUSTERS has a closer plotline to ELDRITCH! with the use of nefarious and other worldly gods, I guess the baby in the sequel ties in to Mr. Newbarn’s kid, though loosely.

It is this sort of humor that keeps on bringing me back to ELDRITCH! While working on a feature film for the past few weeks, I decided to take a sabbatical. However, when the opportunity to review ELDRITCH! #4 came up; I had to make an exception. I haven’t come across a comic where I continuously anticipate the upcoming issue as much as ELDRTICH! since KILL SHAKESPEARE. My feelings towards the series have grown from unconvinced of its potential with issue #1, to hopeful after reading issue #2, then becoming a true fan following issue #3, and at last I am now a strong believer in Alexovich and Rausch’s genius!

Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a senior screenwriting major with an English minor at Chapman University. Along with writing for AICN, she has been published twice on the subject of vampire films.


CARNAGE U.S.A. #1

Writer: Zeb Wells
Art: Clayton Crain
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy


The American Dream…

Amongst the Spider-Ma rogues gallery, none one villain stands out as a cautionary tale quite like Carnage. Created as an attempt to give Venom a dark counterpart, Carnage was an example of the flaws within the system of the nineties. With the look of editorial apathy and with the character of a poor man’s Joker, Carnage is the epitome of mindless creations, a soulless cash grab. I have rarely found myself wishing for Carnage's continual existence, and usually count the days before he can disappear into the ether. Which is what makes CARNAGE U.S.A. so unique; an enjoyable Carnage story is a rather different feeling for me.

Writing: (4/5) Zeb Well's Carnage is front and center in this issue, and the usual flaws with the character are still present; he feels like a madman with a handicap, a character who doesn't have enough depth to really be explored. Zeb Wells doesn't do much to aid the character. But Wells instead focuses on brief interludes within the community of Dover, before and after the attack by Carnage begins. It juxtaposes the opening scenes of peace against the sheer brutality of Carnage's rampage. By creating this interesting a vivid stage for Carnage to play in, Wells makes an engaging story.In the background, the brief interludes between the heroes aren't quite as enjoyable. While Hawkeye is a laugh and Spider-Man is clearly himself, the rest of the small Avengers team present is very bland. They simply serve to help reinforce "Uh oh, Carnage is trouble", which is unnecessary with Carnage's actions within the comic. And, despite Well's good dialogue, Carnage still feels like a bit of a flat character.

Art: (5/5) Clayton Crain is simply marvelous in this issue. The art is consistent, bold, and engaging. The art seamlessly flutters in between the horrors perpetrated by Carnage during his rampage, and quieter scenes of the heroes preparing for combat. Crain doesn't allow one to overshadow the other; Emotions are palpable as Eric tries to save his family, and it looks just as detailed as later shots within the Avengers Quinjet. Every wrinkle seems predetermined completely. The coloring, the pacing, the framing, it all is great. This comic really looks good.

Best Moment: The symbiote spreading across Doverton.

Worst Moment: I really don't like Carnage.

Overall: (4/5) A better score then I ever expected to give an issue with Carnage on the cover. Kudos.


CHARLEY’S WAR (VOL 8): HITLER’S YOUTH

Writer: Pat Mills
Illustrator: Joe Colquhoun
Publisher: Titan Books
Reviewer: superhero


If there’s one thing I’m not incredibly familiar with its war comics. As much as I hate to say it, most of the focus of my comic collecting days was focused on superhero books. As I’ve grown older I’ve become interested in war comics but I can’t say they’ve been the kind of books that I actively seek out. I do have an old slipcase collection of the EC Frontline Combat comics that I pretty much considered some of the best comics out there so I felt like I had been exposed to some of the best that the genre had to offer.

Turns out I have a lot more to learn about war comics because much like the DARKIE’S MOB collection that Titan Books released earlier this year, this edition of CHARLEY’S WAR has exposed met to some more of the best wartime combat sequential storytelling I’ve ever laid eyes on.

For those not in the know (like myself) CHARLEY’S WAR is a comic that details the exploits of Charley Bourne, a young man who enlists in the British Army during World War I. Many of you out there may not have heard of CHARLEY’S WAR because it was a comic that was originally collected in a UK magazine called BATTLE PICTURE WEEKLY in the late ‘70’s to the early ‘80’s. It apparently has somewhat of a stellar reputation among British comic book creators and after reading this volume I can see why.

Writer Pat Mills and artist Joe Colquhoun do an amazing job of capturing the absolute misery that enlisted men experienced during the unfortunate mess that was WWI. While I read through this book I actually felt as if I was in the trenches with these soldiers. The writing and art in CHARLEY’S WAR are that absorbing. As a work of art, this edition of CHARLEY’S WAR is just astounding. It grabs you from the first panel and does not let you go. The only thing I can compare this reading experience to is the first time I saw Stanley Kubrick’s PATHS OF GLORY. Much like that somewhat forgotten Kirk Douglas film, CHARLEY’S WAR just transports you back to the hellish experience that the trenches of “The War to end all Wars” must’ve been.

I do have to warn some of you out there that the title of this volume, HITLER’S YOUTH, is a bit misleading. While it’s true that a section of this book does deal with Charley Bourne’s battalion facing off against a young Adolf Hitler’s platoon in the trenches, much of the book’s focus is actually on the adventures of Charley’s cousin who is a gunner in a bi-plane squadron. So while the book is called CHARLEY’S WAR: HITLER’S YOUTH in my opinion it should have been called CHARLEY’S WAR: CHARLEY’S COUSIN, BI-PLANE GUNNER. But that doesn’t really matter to me because it was the bi-plane combat stuff that I actually found to be the most fascinating material in the book. Sure, it’s kind of interesting to imagine what Adolf Hitler’s early years were like in WWI but, in all honesty, I saw the Hitler character as somewhat of a caricature in the trench segments. Any sequence that involved Hitler could just as easily have taken place with some generic replacement character. Hitler’s presence isn’t exactly integral to the story sequences he takes part in. It’s my opinion that inserting Hitler into the strip was a bit of stunt casting. It doesn’t add anything to the book but it doesn’t serve as too much of a distraction either. But if you are buying this edition of CHARLEY’S WAR for some sort of insight into Hitler’s WWI years you won’t get it in the comic itself. There is a well written opening essay by Steve White that sheds some light on Hitler’s WWI service but I wouldn’t say that anything in the comic is going to be eye opening to anyone interested in Hitler’s early years in the army.

The title HITLER’S YOUTH is a bit deceptive (Deceptive may too strong a word, I mean Hitler is in the book.), it’s true, but the presence of a historical figure wouldn’t be the reason I’d recommend a book like this anyway. The writing and art here are fantastic and the storytelling is solid. This is the craft of comics at its best and that alone should be reason for picking up CHARLEY’S WAR. I’m so impressed by this book that it looks like I’m going to have to go out and track down the previous seven volumes. If you love war comics then CHARLEY’S WAR is a must own for you.

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. Some of his work can be seen at www.kristianhorn.com and check out his blog at www.parttimefanboy.com. You can check also out his webcomics at www.babybadass.com and thediplomatics.com, which is currently in development.


DEMON KNIGHTS #4

Writer: Paul Cornell
Art: Michael Choi and Diogenes Neves
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Dean


There are a couple of ways to go with this issue of DEMON KNIGHTS, but neither should be putting readers off buying issue number five next month. For those eager to get this winged horse off the ground, DEMON KNIGHTS #4 will leave you disappointed; not at all because it’s a bad issue, but instead because writer Paul Cornell sheds light on the endgame, rather than the next step or battle in the siege on Little Spring. If on the other hand you’ve thoroughly enjoyed the pacing, and are simply happy being able to sojourn into medieval DC once a month, then you may find this issue to be one of, if not the best of the four. With my first read through, I felt this review would surely be pandering to those in the disappointed category, but on my second, this became a very fun character issue exploring Shining Knight’s past, present, and future, with Merlin as our guide.

Opening right where issue three left off, Cornell brings us two panels toward what looks like will be a raged fueled ass kicking from Shining Knight before Merlin interrupts with a vision. I don’t know about you, but I get a kick out of my comics talking to me, and Cornell’s mysterious, bastard of a Merlin leaps right off the page and down your throat in this one! By escalating conversations to heated arguments before they even start, and screaming the answers to questions we didn’t ask, Merlin comes off as someone so insane he must be omnipotent. “Everything I do, I do for a reason! The reasons aren’t obvious to such as you, so BOW your head!” Every speech teacher will tell you this is a poor opening to a persuasion piece, but what they don’t tell you in high school is that making no sense and yelling is often the best way to bend others to your will - something I learned on my own from the Ultimate Warrior. The Ultimate Merlin goes on to tell us/Shining Knight what “puts weight” in her steps, how to get silly ideas by watching lighting, why lava is a poor place to store your valuables, as well as insight into the name of our comic, DEMON KNIGHTS.
All of this plus another cliffhanger ending and a funny Vandal Savage moment make this one of the most fun issues Cornell has given us yet. What’s most surprising to me is how much I enjoyed this issue despite the total lack of any Etrigan, who was the sole reason I gave this series a shot in the first place!
While the writing of course is a key element in the surreal sense of involvement I felt in this story, guest artists Michael Choi and Diogenes Neves deserve a large amount of credit for this one. There’s a good chance I wouldn’t have felt the same sense of interaction if Merlin’s old, ugly fingers weren’t pointing right at me, or his eyes drilling into me while yelling, “I live backwards!” I haven’t felt this intimidated by a strange old man since some homeless guy called me an asshole for smiling while having my picture taken.

Choi and Neves do an excellent job in matching dialogue to expressions here, as every word spoken in this issue comes from a face that appears to genuinely believe what its saying. The muted colors from Marcelo Maiolo during Shining Knight’s vision give a deafening effect to the action, lending to the idea that we haven’t just gone back in time, but have been taken out of time all together by Merlin. Both story and art are wonderfully blended here to convey this time outside of time sense that the story is happening now, 1,000 years ago, in my living room, and at Little Spring all at once - pure, fun, comic book fantasy.

A lot of your opinion of DEMON KNIGHTS #4 is going to come down to preference, but I’m grateful this issue came when it did. While still enjoying the run as a whole, I pretty much considered this an Etrigan title, with other characters occasionally interrupting my Etrigan time. Cornell now has me excited for issues devoted to characters I had only a passing interest in at best before, with Vandal Savage, Merlin, and Shining Knight. Can he get me to care about Horsewoman? That last page screams, “maybe!” But with its four issues, Demon Knights has me convinced I’ve invested wisely thus far, and the next issue can’t come soon enough. I just hope I can find the money I stored in that lava pit before it comes out.


THE GUILD: ZABOO #1

Writers: Felicia Day & Sandeep Parikh
Artist: Becky Cloonan
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Stereotypes propagate because they are true, in part. The politically correct stranglehold currently asphyxiating our ability to see things like logic, reason and what’s in front of our fucking faces wants us to believe stereotypes are wrong, that they are untrue. Bullshit--this defies logic and is merely in place to make people feel better about their shortcomings. What makes more sense? A statement about a race, creed, lifestyle or whatever is completely unfounded and spreads like wildfire, or that a majority of a certain population did exhibit a collective behavior in multiple instances and that’s what made it spread like wildfire? I’m raising everyone’s collective ire because the web series THE GUILD from which this comic sprung is a cavalcade of stereotypes on geek culture centered around six players that devote way too much time and emotional energy to “The Game” – or as we call it in real life, World of Warcraft.

Specifically, this comic focuses on THE GUILD’s lead wizard and Cleric lust bunny Zaboo, a new breed of stereotype fodder I affectionately have dubbed the stunted man-child. We’ve all seen the stunted man-child before; they are the heroes in Judd Apatow movies, they are forty year olds wearing Ed Hardy t-shirts where the E and the Y wrap around their paunch, and there are a large majority of these almost-men playing video games and reading comic books. And yes, I count myself among this legion.

Now, stereotypes become dangerous when you label ALL people with a certain attribute. It would be untrue to say that ALL people that play games like World of Warcraft do so from their parent’s basement while getting yelled at by their mother to come to dinner. I’ll have everyone know that I played Warcraft for almost six years from my own basement and was yelled at by my wife to stop raiding and come to dinner. See, the stereotype is that most gamers couldn’t get a wife or a home. It’s not true for all…but it sure as shit is for most. Hence why the THE GUILD and its cutting satire on all things nerd is one of the few monetized web series out there with millions upon millions of downloads. If this shit wasn’t true, in part, it simply wouldn’t be this popular.

I think I’m so focused on stereotypes because they are especially potent when THE GUILD moves from live-action to comic form. Also, the potency becomes…potenter… because this is a prequel to THE GUILD season one. Zaboo, more than any other character in The Guild, has grown in spades emotionally over the past five seasons. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a man-child that should be out working instead of dealing critical hits all day, but he’s nowhere near the shellshocked freak he was the first time The Guild decided to meet face-to-face oh so many years ago.

THE GUILD has always held a wide straddle with feet firmly planted in the camps of reality and farce. Generally speaking the reality comes from our guide to The Guild, Felicia Day, or Codex as she is called in game. Codex lets us know how insane the Guild’s devotion is to the game mainly with her self-shot webcam openers that seem to almost lament the geektastic events that have or will transpire in the coming episode. The farce and absurdity comes from every other character in The Guild, including Zaboo. So when you focus a comic book on a character that is a stereotypical farce and remove the first-person voice of sanity what ensues is madness.

You must read this issue with your tongue stretching your cheek farther than a porn star with a sword fight in her mouth. I chose to not take any of the events as reality, but more as Zaboo’s perception of reality. Day and Parikh led me to this by opening the book with a pre-pubescent Zaboo using some school computer-lab time to find solace in a precursor to The Game from school bullies. Instead of some pixilated shots of Everquest, though, we see The Game as gamers see all games in our minds as we become more than pixels to transcend into honest-to-God heroes. Try as we might, though, real life always intercedes in game life. Zaboo’s bullies pull him from his state of bliss and almost electrocute him by making him French kiss an electrical outlet. Zaboo’s mother, a hilarious overbearing Mother of Indian decent (stereotype alert), takes him out of public school and we flash forward to Zaboo now 26 years old, in the 20th grade, and completely hooked on The Game.

There are two parts to Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game addiction: the grind or the treadmill of leveling your character and the social element. Personally, I was addicted to the grind and annoyed by the social element, which is why I was able to walk away from Warcraft with ease and find solace in games like the Elder Scroll series. Want to know why there are so many women playing MMORPGs? It’s the social element. Want to know the number of marriages, relationships and stalking that have resulted from this outreach by the XX chromosome? More than is humanly possible to count or track. Social desperation of gamers is a stereotype that does not fit all, but I have emphatic proof it fits most--Zaboo included.

Zaboo’s crush on Day’s character has evolved from online friendship, to real friendship, to almost romantic interest and finally back to friends throughout the course of THE GUILD series, but in these beginning days his love or online lust could not be squelched. So when Zaboo learns of Codex’s emotional turmoil during a private chat session he decides to take the brunt of this issue to escape his mother and finally meet his pixilated love in real life.

Zaboo plans his escape from his house in true nerd fashion and here is where one of the most inventive parts of this comic comes to life. As readers we are asked to partake in hilarious mini-games that help Zaboo with everything from selecting the best items for his trip to the best escape route past his Mother to the best lie to tell the bus terminal agent to get a ticket since Zaboo has never held a job and so on. Yes, it’s meant as a blatant breaking of the fourth wall, but I chose to view it as we’re seeing things from Zaboo’s point of view. As a gamer I have viewed real life tasks at times as bonus and power up opportunities. A few years ago my team at work had a really good year. I got them all a 20 sided die where every side was a 20. Since my team consists of all normal human beings, my reference was lost. But had I one gamer on the team, they would have gotten the joke and I would have given them emotional XP for it.

You can’t take anything in THE GUILD or THE GUILD: ZABOO seriously, yet thematically everything is serious and real, which is part of the series’ allure. No, I don’t believe Zaboo’s mother has secret tracking devices on him, but I believe that Zaboo believes his Mother has tracking devices on him. Even the most mundane moments in life seem extraordinary when told or viewed through the lens of someone with a hyper active imagination.

THE GUILD: ZABOO is not for everyone. Obviously if you like THE GUILD and don’t mind an absence of Codex, this comic is for you. If you love RPG games (not just MMOs), you will appreciate how this book is delivered and find quite a few chuckles seeing your own mind at work on the pages in front of you. If you’re solely a fan of comics and never played an MMO or an RPG, well for starters I can’t believe you read this far, but more importantly THE GUILD comics are not for you. Again, this is a peek into a world you might understand from the stunted man-child standpoint, but how this man-child thinks is in XP and critical hits, not in spandex and heavy dialogue.


’68 JUNGLE JIM #1 One-shot

Writer: Mark Kidwell
Artists: Nate Van Dyke & Jay Fotos
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: MajinFu


Zombie stories work best as social commentary that allows us to examine human behavior through a gore-covered lens. By placing characters in a place of horror, we can reflect on our own trauma, and if we’re lucky, come out on the other side with a slightly better understanding of the human condition. So why does combining zombies and war feel so exploitive to me? In a way, it was inevitable. The combination of zombies and a wartime scenario make perfect sense as duel reflections of trauma, especially in the realm of pop culture, which seems continually happy to retread old subjects.

The story’s introduction is played as straight grindhouse-type war movie, complete with curse-ridden dialog and murky colors, making the ultimate appearance of the zombies a little more shocking. I still found their inclusion on the story acted more as an afterthought than any kind of detail that drove the plot. Most of the horrific imagery in this comic pertains to the consequences of war rather than ghouls, making the eventual zombie presence less impressive. The bottom of page one is festooned with a row of heads lined along the branch of a tree, a man’s throat spills blood in gruesome detail, and several people are riddled with bullets, including a child. All of these things communicate the horrors of war without requiring the presence of zombies, but combined with the ghouls it feels like overkill.

The visuals by Jay Fotos and Nate Van Dyke are suitably gritty, usually closing in on the gorier moments while pulling back for the character bits. The color palette of the comic is notably bleak, with sudden splashes of red across the page. It suits the material well.

As the story progresses, the titular character’s evolution becomes the most compelling part of the comic. There is a very humanist slant to his origin story and while the “passing of the torch” moments felt a bit ham-fisted they were still reasonably executed. I think the biggest problem with the writing is none of the characters get much characterization at all, and many of them are reduced to caricatures before having their faces eaten off or getting shot to pieces. Maybe this is a problem that will be settled in future ’68 issues to come but if this one-shot is any indication of the characterizations to come, I wouldn’t hold my breath.


AICN COMICS PODCAST #8

Ambush Bug here. The below hour-long conversation took place between myself, Matt Adler, Optimous Douche, KletusCasady, and our host Johnny Destructo of PoptardsGo.com as we talked about SUICIDE SQUAD #4, AVENGERS ACADEMY #23, THE BOYS #47, DEMON KNIGHTS #4, BETTY & VERONICA #257, BATMAN & ROBIN #4, and other bits of general jack@$$$ery!


Looks for more of the Holes rambling about comics on Poptards in future AICN COMICS columns!


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

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

Check out AICN COMICS on Facebook and Comixpedia.org!

 
Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 21, 2011, 9:17 a.m. CST

    Spider-Ma

    by Iowa Snot Client

    Does Aunt May have a costume now too?

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 9:22 a.m. CST

    Give a kick in the pants ...

    by Hedgehog000

    to whoever runs the main page of this site. They never put the review link under the comics heading until about a week late. If I don't catch it on the main scroll, I usually don't see it for quite a while.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 9:47 a.m. CST

    Bought all the re-issues of Charley's War a couple months back

    by Laserhead

    Based on Garth Ennis and Alan Moore both calling it the greatest comic strip ever. Then read some essays and bought the first hc. Now I have them all. Gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and mordantly funny. For comics as art, it beats the shit out of something like Maus.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 9:48 a.m. CST

    Dark Angel Saga was pretty perfect

    by Laserhead

    Remender for EIC.

  • Oops. I wrote them and forgot to send them in apparently. I'm a dummy. I reviewed The Activity #1 by Image Comics: http://www.poptardsgo.com/?p=2992 and Savage Dragon #177 featuring the resurrected corpse of Osama Bin Laden??: http://www.poptardsgo.com/?p=2998

  • ".. is often the best way to bend others to your will - something I learned on my own from the Ultimate Warrior."<p> Fucking Awesome.<P> And Demon Knights is a great read.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 1:32 p.m. CST

    Auto play audio?

    by infallible

    I'm using Chrome, and when I opened this post (and this happened in a previous post), some annoying podcast started automatically playing, and I was unable to pause it. So instead, I just don't read the article. Can you guys find another way to imbed your podcast or make it a separate post or something?

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 1:36 p.m. CST

    Chrome

    by MattAdler

    We've had people who use Chrome telling us it doesn't autoplay for them, so it's possible you just have your settings set to autoplay by default.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 1:37 p.m. CST

    Also

    by MattAdler

    Why can't you pause/stop it? Are you saying it doesn't show any controls on the page in your browser?

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 1:41 p.m. CST

    Cyclops x-men

    by gooseud

    I might be alone on this.....but that book is unreadable levels of terrible. Just randomly finished reading #2 in a bookstore and ....good god that's terrible

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 1:43 p.m. CST

    Walking dead tv show

    by gooseud

    So I'm late to the party here again but I guess people thought that was terrible? That's the impression I'm getting, which is puzzling, because I didn't find it terrible at all. What did people not like about it?

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 2:22 p.m. CST

    @laserhead

    by Hemi23

    Charlies War is brilliant i totally agree with you n that but Maus is something different in itself and is also brilliant as well. So really i'm just saying in a nice way'Don't be dissing the Maus' ha. Also @ errrr 'Iowa Snot Client' (love to know the meaning of that) thank f**k that somepeople don't fo that jerko off 'first' thing. that pisses me off so much that I often dont bother reading the comments. That and the nonsensical arguments that turn into hate filled diatribes.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 2:57 p.m. CST

    Auto play voice in my head...

    by BangoSkank

    When I open this Talkback a voice in my head keeps telling me to start fires. I hit pause but it does nothing. I blame Harry, for the Assholes can do no wrong in my mind.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 3:08 p.m. CST

    gooseud

    by BangoSkank

    Yeah, X-men is not exactly killing it. What hurts, in my opinion, is that Cyclops NEEDS someone like Wolverine to make him seem even mildly interesting. No conflict = paint drying. And the "new" Sinister is not the big-bad they needed to start the series out with a bang. Or, they're just doing a reeeeally bad job with him. I'm looking forward to the second arc with the Tabula Rasa... But if you're going to restart a long running series like Uncanny, you should have it explode out of the gate.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 3:53 p.m. CST

    Marvel Event Fatigue...

    by BangoSkank

    Having, thankfully, skipped both Fear Itself and Siege, my Event Fatigue level has gone from "critical" down to "moderate"... However, a Loeb/McGuinness crossover featuring Cable is not going put this ass inthat seat... My only hope is that I'm not *too* lost when reading Avengers Vs. X-Men, having skipped the pre-mini-series mini-series.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 4:47 p.m. CST

    Is Avengers Vs. X-Men really considered an Event?

    by art123guy

    I've always considered an 'Event' a story that is featured in just about every comic book, plus some made up one-shots and limited series. Will this spill into Spider-Man, Deadpool, Daredevil, etc. or just be confined to certain Avengers and X-Men titles? For the Spider Island 'Event', I just bought what I normally buy. No extra comics. But I do agree that Marvel has got to stop with the Events. Fear Itself was just bad and pointless.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 5:42 p.m. CST

    Goose-Walking Dead show

    by Joenathan

    In a nutshell, (although I'm sure we'll dive in deeper and at greater length) I thought it was terrible. The characters, if developed at all, were inconsistant. I'm convinced the "writers" made Shane cool on accident and don't understand why peoplke like him, as they treat everything he does as if it's so horrifying, when in actuality, he's just taking the correct action. I thought the season's "arc" was ridiculously over-long and a big waste, especially since Sophia is practically non-existant as a character. Basically the few cool moments the show had did not make up for the hours of wheel spinning and go nowhere bullshit. I'm not even going to watch when it comes back on, that's how bad I thought it was.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 5:44 p.m. CST

    Also

    by Joenathan

    forced drama. Lowering Glenn into the well? Why would you do that? "We have to get it out of there before it contaminates the well." ...? IT'S ALREADY CONTAMINATED! THERE'S A ZOMBIE IN THERE! Not to mention, they have four other wells... So stupid. But no, they lower Glenn down there for fake tension. So lame. So hacky. So terrible.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 5:46 p.m. CST

    Didn't they kill Pinhead in part 2?

    by Mugato5150

    If you're going to ignore all the films after part 2, then you'd have to ignore the half assed explanation they gave for Pinhead not being dead.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 6:15 p.m. CST

    Lame. Hackey. Terrible.

    by 3774

    That's how I describe this need to turn every comic talkback into a Walking Dead bash-fest. I'm on chrome, and the podcast doesn't autoplay. It works just fine.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 6:31 p.m. CST

    People's reaction to TWD TV show fascinate me

    by gooseud

    First, lets operate under a premise: that the comic is worthy of all the praise heaped upon it over the years. If you think TWD sucks in and of itself as a work of comic fiction......first of all, there are like 3 of you in the world, but regardless, thats a different viewpoint. BUT if you are one of the zillions who think the comic kicks ass, I find your reaction fascinating. I n theory, the show should be universally beloved. First of all, Kirkman himself has said, if there is one thing he would change, it would be have created Daryl Dixon in the comic first. He, and pretty much the entire planet, love Daryl Dixon, and deservedly so. Plus, Shane is absolutely fascinating as a character and a litmus test for one's morality and the types of choices one would make in that situation. Plus, for those saying the show is show....the comic was EXACTLY the same. EXACTLY. Go read the letters columns for the "prison" arc, people werre making the exact same complaints about the comic as they are currently making about the show.......and yet, if you asked those people now if the comic is good, 99.8% would answer "FUCK YEAH! The comic is the shit!". So, you get the same storytelling style as the comics, PLUS two awesome characters in Shane and Daryl.......yet most people seems completely dissatisfied? Is the argument that the show, in and of itself, is terrible? Or is the argument that it simply didnt translate to the screen? I can get behind the latter, but the former, I would answer that you loved it when it was printed on the page, what makes you hate it now? One caveat: I have heard an argument made that I agree with, which is that Shane is so badass and so alpha (and incidently, 100% right in everything he is doing) that he makes Rick look weak in comparison. Rick Grimes is the ultimate badass in the comics, literally no one has ever been more completely badass.......but now that Shane is still around, Rick isnt in position to make the "hard choices" like in the comic. Thats a valid argument.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 6:32 p.m. CST

    X-Force

    by KCViking

    Does the Dark Angel saga conclude in #18? I noticed an ad for #20 today and it sure looked like AOA Nightcrawler is in it.Not complaining cause he was always my favorite mutant and I'm still pissed they offed him. pink-I caught the Green Arrow video you mentioned a few weeks back.Thanks for the heads up.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 7:21 p.m. CST

    Pinhead was transformed back into Captain Elliot Spencer.

    by 3774

    I don't have the slightest idea which comics they were, but I read through a couple of Hellraisers years ago and was not impressed. As far as background goes, Hellraiser and Hellbound scarred me for life before puberty (I had an enthusiastic Uncle that had no common sense whatsoever....remind anyone here of someone?). As a result though, they became one of a few yardsticks of true horror measurements for me. Part 3 through 100 are pure crap, and ignored accordingly. I've never heard of this series before, but if it does pick up where Hellbound left of, I have to give it a look. Thanks for the head's up. When that Cenobite was pinned to death and turned into the little boy, and Elliot Spencer reverted, I cried. True, dorky story.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 8:12 p.m. CST

    To be clear

    by Joenathan

    The best things I think the show did were the things that diverged from the comic. I think Shane's the best character, but he does take Rick out at the knees as a result, because Rick is a weinie who only does stupid stuff and then Shane tells him not to and Rick ignores him and then it all goes bad. No, Shane is great. So is Daryl, although I feel like they don't know what to do with him. He's just their pet redneck. Also, I thought the pilot was brilliant, but every episode after that got progressively worse through the first season. The 2nd season showed major improvement, apparently firing Darabont was the right idea, but even with the improvement the show is a wash. At least half the season did nothing to further the plot and the other half took twice as long to get to it when it did. Look, the comic and the show are different mediums and the pace reads differently because of that. Slow in comics? That's GLACIAL in TV. So forget the comic, the comic isn't even a consideration, fuck the comic. They're two different things and that's fine. Like I said: the best things the show did were never in the comic. What the "writers" needed to do (and most definitely did not) is sit down and say: We have SEVEN FUCKING HOURS of TV... What story are we going to tell?" They didn't do that and that's why the show sucks. Hanging seven hours on "sofia is missing and the group learns the world has changed" did not cut it. Especially since that was the haggard theme from last season and the fact that all the character work that should have been taking place during all the down time was lacking. And lets talk about the world. Rick is the new guy. He's only been here for... lets say a week. Everyone else has been there a month or so longer. So how come everyone acts like it's all brand new? This show had nothing but holes and lags. Be honest. If it wasn't the only zombie show on TV, you wouldn't watch it.

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 8:15 p.m. CST

    Also

    by Joenathan

    This is only the second time we've discussed the show, so claiming it happens in "every" talkback is just more of the same ol' internet hyperbole, that's what's lame. Hacky. And terrible...

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 8:51 p.m. CST

    I will say this....

    by gooseud

    Who knew Maggie was that hawt? Rawr!

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 8:52 p.m. CST

    Joe, the consensus seems to be

    by gooseud

    That Ricks wife is the problem . Shes so utterly annoying and bitchy in every scene that she sucks the life right out of whatever she touches

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 9 p.m. CST

    Maggie and Lori

    by Joenathan

    Maggie is pretty attractive, but I wish she had more to offer than just giving Glenn something to do. And the problem with Lori isn't that she's a bitch. A "bitch" character is fine when well-written (i.ei. Skylar in Breaking Bad), Lori isn't a bitch, she's just nonsense. Whenever they need someone to be contrary for no reason, it's always Lori. Remember when she yelled at Hershel for being a vet and then the scene just sort of ended? Remember when they found the traffic jam and were going to gather supplies, after living among the dead for weeks, and she was like: "I don't like this. This place is a graveyard." It's just nonsense. None of the other characters even acknowledged that she said anything because it was a nonsense throw away line. She's the most inconsistant character in a wildly inconsistant bunch. It's so disappointingly terrible and I really wanted to like it too

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 9:02 p.m. CST

    Infallible...

    by Poptard_JD

    That annoying podcast is the reviewers u come to read talking about the comics that came out that week. Am I the only one with volume control on my computers?

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 9:05 p.m. CST

    I just don't understand..

    by Poptard_JD

    The people who think the entirety of the Internet should cater to them and their specific needs

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 9:08 p.m. CST

    Quiet down, JD!

    by Joenathan

    Do what I say!

  • Dec. 21, 2011, 11:04 p.m. CST

    ooOOOooo awright. *shuffles off to do joenathan's bidding*

    by Poptard_JD

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 5:34 a.m. CST

    Avengers X-Sanction

    by Poptard_JD

    My thoughts exactly Dean. Well said.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 7:24 a.m. CST

    Walking Dead

    by optimous_douche

    I didn't hate Season 2, but I can see some of Joen's points on the pacing. I think Season 2.5 will rectify all of that. There's going to be come major ass conflict for control of the farm.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 8:04 a.m. CST

    WD

    by Hedgehog000

    I agree with a lot of the criticisms, especially how long the search for Sophie dragged out, but I still really like the show. Yeah, Lori's annoying and the old coot who stands on top of the RV and acts like everyone's conscience needs to get whomped upside the head, but so what? People are like that. They're annoying and they do stupid stuff, and in a zombie verse, let's face it, there wouldn't be much of a show if they didn't. Zombies just aren't that much of a threat if the humans were really tough. What do you think the show would be like if the main characters were a bunch of Navy Seals (bam bam, Zombies dead, take out the next bunch)? I've never read Walking Dead even though Invincible is one of my favorite comics, because I've never been interested in zombies, even as a metaphor for whatever people say they're a metaphor of. However, TV's free so I started watching the show and it's very enjoyable. If you want to watch a show about brilliant people behaving brilliantly, watch CSI or dig up McGyver on DVD. Bet he would already have cured them zombies.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 9:37 a.m. CST

    SEveral points on Walking Dead

    by gooseud

    Granted, Entertainment Weekly is basically a wasteland, but they DO have a weekly online column postmortem with Kirkman where he drops tons of good nuggets. He freely admits some of the actions of the characters are totally dumb (the well and the zombie, Dale hiding the guns in the swamp) and that is completely intentional. #1, because he hates shows where normal people suddenly turn into these perfect, impeccable ninjas (basically in real life, people would in fact do stupid shit), and 2, because alot of the TV viewers would in fact do those same things. Hes trying to create a contrast between Rick, and by extension the viewer, and Shane. Alot of us wouldnt give up on Sophia. Alot of us might try to take the guns away too. And we would be wrong. Thats the point, hes showing you what survival would actually look like: it looks like Shane, which is supposed to make people uncomfortable.......however, Joe is absolutely right in that the writers (NOT KIRKMAN, I'm sure he saw this possibility coming and is delighted with it) have been totally caught off guard by the audience embracing Shane. They are sitting there saying "Wait wait! This guy is evil, dont you see that?" while Kirkman sits in the corner giggling at their cluelessness and counting his cash.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 9:44 a.m. CST

    Having said that

    by gooseud

    If you were to sit and ask people honestly, I believe most would answer this way: Do you like Glenn? Yep, he seems to be growing as a character, nothing too offensive there. MAggie? Shit yeah! T Dawg and Carol? Forgettable, nothing too terrible there, they dont really play a role. Dale? Annoying, but already more fleshed out then he ever was in the comic and plays a specific, definable role. Andrea? WAY more annoying then in the comic, but gradually getting better and kinda dirty-hot, so gets a bit of a pass. Shane? Fuckin awesome. Daryl? Fuckin awesome and should be used even more then he is. Herschel? Exactly like the comic. Carl? Not bad for a kid actor. So, basically, 90% of the cast, taken INDIVIDUALLY, range from perfectly non offensive and fine, to freakin awesome. Yet, the show has all these naysayers. Clearly, the parts arent adding up to a sum total that people love. Why? 2 reasons: Rick is being painted as weak, and without a strong Rick, you have no show, and Lori is unbearable (which I believe has a strong effect on reason 1). Without Rick, the whole thing suffers. However, adding a certain samurai sword carrying bad ass ex-lawyer at the end of the next episode will certainly up the coolness quota by a factor of about 372.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 10:06 a.m. CST

    Look

    by Joenathan

    Here's what the show-lovers don't seem to understand. I don't want bad ass Navy seals. I'm fine with normal people who sometimes do dumb stuff. I don't want constant zombies, in fact I prefer the slow tense burn of the group that the zombies have forced to hang out together. Here's my issue: Yes, some people wouldn't give up on Sofia. Yes, some people would go fucking crazy and keep zombies in their barn. Yes, they are legitmate possible reactions... But that doesn't mean they make good TV. The viewers KNEW Sofia was dead. We knew it. Three episodes? Maybe, but by seven? She HAS to be dead. If she had turned up alive, it would have been lame, so we knew she was dead and yet... we had to watch the search go on and on. It's like we were forced to wait around while the characters caught up. That's bad TV. And yes, I know Hershel keeps the zombies in the barn in the book, but it's just as stupid there as it was on TV. Why? Because his belief that the zombies may be cured is... fucking dumb. And everyone knows. All the viewers, hell, most of the characters know. It's stupid. It's so stupid that the viewers can't empathize with him. It just because boring nonsense. You can see what's going to happen from a mile away, so you spend episode after episode just waiting for it to be done. Which is why it's too bad they fumbled the sofia reveal by never making her a real character, as that was the only surprise they were able to come up with. If they had made her an actual character, the audience might have actually felt something beyond just a general "awww.. it's sad to see kids shot". Of course, even that was deluded though, since they had alright shot a little girl in the head in the very first episode, so... effect diluted... As for things like Dale hiding the guns... You know what? That would have been a great "oh shit" plot point where things went south... IF ANYTHING HAD HAPPENED BECAUSE OF HIS ACTIONS! Which nothing did. Oooooh, Shane made a mean face at him... so tense. Fuck off. Things like a character suddenly doing something stupid are great, if the action has consquence. Which is why this show sucks. I think Glenn and Maggie are only interesting because they fuck. T-Dawg, Carol, Carl, Rick, Lori, Dale, Hershel and the other Red Shirts... They could all be eaten tomorrow and the show would only benefit, if the audience noticed at all. Andrea...? She stands at the edge of being a real character, but she isn't yet. Daryl would be better if they let him be an asshole more, instead of a "nice" meanie. He's like Venom turned vigilante, it's so boring. Give the guy his edge back. Shane is good. And it's because he's complex. He's the only character that is. You know what would have been a gret moment? Carl should have shot Sofia. That would have been a kick to the ass. As for adding Michone? Who cares. This show doesn't need "cool", it needs writers who can create organic tension between two people sitting in a room. It needs writers who can create relationships and don't have to resort to forcing fake drama like the well zombie. Seriously, even if they had pulled it out, would anyone drink from it? There's a line between characters making stupid decisions and characters doing things that make no sense from any point of view. As it is, this show is light weight, poorly written pap. Apparently AMC's logo "story matters" is ironic. Who knew?

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 10:34 a.m. CST

    Nice analysis

    by Laserhead

    Stopped watching WD early in season one. Don't think Darabount is anybody to write home about, but AMC doesn't know how to make good TV on its own, either. BB and MM have showrunners who worked on a ton of great television previously and don't have to take shit from the network. Every other show they've done is awful.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 11:03 a.m. CST

    So you're not going to watch anymore - right?

    by Hedgehog000

    From the length of Joenathan's negative analysis, I assume this will be his last commentary because clearly he won't continue to watch a show he dislikes so much. I'll only say two things in response. I actually like Hershel because he's trying to hang on to an old fashioned level of morality that's kind of passe even now much less in the post apocalypse. I almost assume he's a Quaker. For awhile, I thought it would turn out he's really the head of some kind of cult. Also, having not read the comics, I'm not bothered by Rick's portrayal. The idea that he would be the Uber leader just because he's a cop and the main character is kind of silly. I see him more as someone trying to do the right thing but no longer certain what it is so he bumbles a lot. This is in contrast to Shane who's absolutely certain what the right thing to do is. I think everyone can agree that the Sophie thing was dragged out too long but it didn't ruin my enjoyment of the show.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 11:05 a.m. CST

    Morning Glories

    by Hedgehog000

    Anybody reading this BTW. I happened to pick up the first two TPBs at the library and to my shock they were excellent. Normally, I'm not much into non-superhero comics but this one really drew me in. Someone ought to make that into a series.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 11:29 a.m. CST

    Nope

    by Joenathan

    Much like Heroes, Terranova, V, this was a show I was looking forward to, that I wanted to be good. And after the pilot, I thought it might turn out to be great. But no... much like Heroes, Terranova, and V, it's a great premise that is hands down just ridiculously terribly executed. Just bad. Bad like poop. And stupid. It's so bad, the writing so heavyhanded and amatuerish that I can not believe people not only like it, but are wowed by it. I can only shake my head at them in slow, mystified disbelief. But then, people fucking love Avatard and the Transformers movies, so whattayagonnado? Yeah, so I'm done. It's too terrible. Unless they hire some REALLY good people and Lennie James returns, but otherwise: I'm out. The show is so bad, it's affecting my love of the comic...

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Morning Glories

    by Joenathan

    Ha. Actually, way back when, this book got lots of pre-hype and buzz and so a bunch of us... Douche, I think, myself, a couple of others maybe, picked it up... And lasted about three issues. I'm interested in what you think was excellant, because it came off as rushed and jumbled to me.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 11:35 a.m. CST

    The Walking Dead TV show

    by Joenathan

    I'd classify it as: Birds of Prey TV show bad.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 11:46 a.m. CST

    MG

    by Hedgehog000

    Usually, when I read or see shows involving evil shadow conspiracies, the logic rapidly starts to collapse under its own weight, this one though seems to be holding up and expanding very nicely. The later issues have been doing some skipping from the past to 20 years into the future to broaden the scope of the MG's sinister plans. If you liked the first season of Heroes, you'd probably like this. Someone compared it to the Prisoner (the original series) but I think it has more depth and seems to have a better long term plan than the Prisoner's non-ending ending. I also like the characters. They're somewhat stereotypical but they're all well thought out and sympathetic, even the obnoxious guy. (There's one great line where the snooty hot brunette says to him, "At least everyone wants to fuck Veronica, but Reggie's just an asshole." ) I do think this would read better as a trade since individual issues probably leave you hanging way too much without enough plot advancement. And the free at the library part certainly helped too.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 12:01 p.m. CST

    Walking Dead TV show-COMIC SPOILERS..BEWARE

    by KLETUS_CASSIDY

    i agree Lori is completely unlikable...and Shane is out Ricking Rick, hell i'd follow Shane before Rick at this point in the show... SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER... if Lori does end up dying i don't know that i'd care that much...also Shane should have died at the end of the first season and Carl should have shot him...THAT'S a hell of a cliffhanger especially for people that have no idea about the comic... i don't think the show is terrible but i wish it was better. the pilot and the next two episodes were the best in my opinion.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 1:06 p.m. CST

    Alright, I'll point it out.

    by 3774

    I think you missed the whole intentional part of my exaggeration. Because jumping on it to label it hyperbole makes me suspect that, by labeling the obvious the obvious, you don't fully understand what the word hyperbole means. But your defensiveness has dovetailed nicely into a legitimate point in this thread - WD gets aggressively trashed on this site, whenever the opportunity arises (you read the tv talkbacks, don't you?). And in case you aren't fully aware of the obvious, *that* particular statement isn't tongue-in-cheek hyperbole, nor opinion. It's fact. Since you acknowledge that you will not be watching the show ever again, we can all simply ignore any and all relentlessly negative posts from you against the show in the future, knowing that they are pointless attempts to antagonize and nothing more. Correct? Our opinions of Avatar and Transformers are the same. I think you've just become so overly-fixated on elements of the WD that you wouldn't have done, that they've warped your ability to simply enjoy it.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 1:29 p.m. CST

    You are incorrect, o'bastion of bad taste!

    by Joenathan

    I am not fixated on what I would have done differently. That's an argument employed by people who know I'm right and are trying to deflect. I'm not upset because Shane is still alive or whatever else deviated from the book or because so and so made a stupid decision that I would have done differently. That only happens with shows that are well written enough for an intelligent person to become emotionally invested in. This is not that case. The show is bad. That's my problem. What would I have done differently? I would have traveled back in time and discouraged everyone who worked on this show into choosing to be accountants or something instead and thus, fixing the show... or overrunning the world with monkey-lizards. Either way, the viewing audience is better off. Also, the only TBs I read are these ones (the League of assholes), so to claim it always happens HERE--as in the League--is hyperbole, because it doesn't. The rest of the site does not exist to me and therefore can not be considered. As far as future posts on the show go, you can ignore them all you want, but I'll still be right. But don't worry, I'll only comment on what I've seen. Besides, anyone going forward with the show from this point on is beneath me, so why bother antagonizing? What's the point? It'd be like beating up Preschoolers, sure it's fun, but it's not like it's a challenge...

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 1:39 p.m. CST

    Wait, wut?

    by 3774

    You jumped on me for 'hyperbole', and then proceed to give a perfect example? Hmm. I thought you were serious this entire time, but it turns out you were just giving me a row. Well played. I have no problem arguing with you in the future. I can always use a good work-out bag!

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 1:51 p.m. CST

    I am serious about one thing

    by Joenathan

    The Walking Dead is a bad show.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 2:02 p.m. CST

    Morning Glories

    by optimous_douche

    Yes, I picked up three issues and was bored to tears. I would like to know as well what the hook was that made it compelling.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 2:40 p.m. CST

    MG

    by Hedgehog000

    Yeah, I guess if I look at half the first trade, I can see it would be a bit slow. I think the evil school stuff gets much more exciting as it goes along and the character development gets deeper. The conspiracy's complexity also builds.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 3:52 p.m. CST

    MG

    by Joenathan

    I'm glad it turned out alright for you, but I still can't figure out why it had such crazy pre-hype.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 4:13 p.m. CST

    I must visit the wrong websites

    by Hedgehog000

    Where was the hype for this? I almost never hear about non-Marvel/DC books unless it's from this site or I happen upon them at the library or bookstore.

  • Dec. 22, 2011, 4:30 p.m. CST

    Avengers Academy

    by lead_sharp

    As someone pointed out RATED TEEN fer fucks sake, it's not for 'little' kids so what the fuck is that guy carrying on about?

  • Dec. 23, 2011, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Avengers Academy

    by MattAdler

    As I said in the podcast, I think it *should* be the kind of book you could give to an 8 year old. It's a great comic, and those are the kinds of comics I was reading when I was 8 years old. 8 year olds deserve great comics set right in the heart of the Marvel Universe, not just watered down "alternate" versions. There was a time, as recently as the '80s, when almost all Marvel comics were open to all-ages, and if you want the largest possible audience, that's the way it should be. I think Gage is a great writer, and I think overall they've been doing a great job with the book; this is the one quibble I had in this one issue, and like I said in the podcast, I can easily see (and empathize with) the counter argument, which is that it was necessary to have this level of detail because it enables young people who are going through a conflicted time to really connect with this story. I personally would have left out the bits where they debate about whether someone is bi-sexual or gay but just not completely out of the closet... as they ultimately conclude, the labels are really irrelevant, it's really just about accepting people for who they are. That's a message that kids of any age are capable of learning.

  • Dec. 23, 2011, 12:29 p.m. CST

    @ Matt.

    by 3774

    I agree with everything you just said. To the letter. It seems like a bizarre marketing practice to shut out the demographic that comics have historically been built upon. I got back into comics by cleaning out boxes of old stuff, and finding my old collection. I didn't know what to do with it, so after some thought my boyfriend and I gave almost all of them all to a young boy (10 yo) that lives next door. We barely know him, but we know he's got some serious geek interests, has never touched a comic before, and lives in a pretty poor home. His mom has said he's become obsessed with reading them all (the entire Byrne Superman relaunch and run was among them, as an example). My boyfriend and I have decided to hand off each issue of Justice League as we buy them, to see if any particularly character 'takes' with him. It seems absurd to shut a kid like that out with something like the Avengers title. I'm pretty sure nobody here had to deal with restrictions like that.

  • Jan. 5, 2012, 3:28 p.m. CST

    Cyclops

    by NightArrows

    I have a feeling THOR is missing from the Avengers tussle with the X-Men... As for Cyclops, I hope he dies during this whole episode simply for his comment: "Who needs the Avengers" oh and "We stared down gods" or whatever the fuck it was in Uncanny. Scott is a fucking douche and I really want someone to remove his heart and shove it up his delusional ass.