|Issue #45||Release Date: 1/25/12||Vol.#10|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: VENOM #13
AMERICAN VAMPIRE #23
FANTASTIC FOUR #602
NAUGHTY & NICE: THE GOOD GIRL ART OF BRUCE TIMM
JUSTICE LEAGUE #5
Advance Review: In stores this week!
VENOM #13Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Tony Moore (pencils/inks), Val Staples (colors)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo
FINALLY! The team-up nobody asked for! Our militarized symbiote meets the Hulk that's red meets the female Rider of Ghosts meets the lady Wolverine! No, I don't think anyone requested this particular grouping, but if this story stays as wonky as this issue all the way through, I'll be clamoring for more of it in the future.
It's been several issues since I've checked in on Flash Thompson and his oozey-bits, and it would seem that things have taken a turn for the worse. Like any forbidden love that mom and dad doesn't approve of, he and the symbiote have run off together to Vegas to engage in what I can only assume will be some sort of tentacle porn. That, of course, gets interrupted by the Red Hulk, who has been ordered (by whom? He's an Avenger and gets to run around with them, but also still answers to someone in the military? Who is his higher-up? These are answers that may or may not be in his solo book, but I haven't been able to make myself read it yet) to smash Thompson into submission and bring his A.W.O.L. ass back in. Meanwhile, X-23 is looking for a vial of her blood which has been stolen, which leads her to Vegas, and Alejandra the new Ghost Rider is lured there for evil purposes by the big bad, Mr. Degli. It's weird, but it works. Remender has given every character an actual reason to be in this book, which is nice. Too often, characters show up to these team-ups willy-nilly and for no story-driven reason. "Oh…um…Doctor Strange just summoned us all here. The end." I was surprised to find that it all works within the confines of the story, and the story is a hell of a lot of FUN.
So much fun that I forget to ask questions like…how does an amulet hung on the sign of Las Vegas keep Hell from spreading out past Vegas? Hell can't figure out how to go in any of the other millions of directions to get out? It has to follow that one road? It can't…say…go out the OTHER way?
Why is it that even though the female Ghost Rider, whose flesh is entirely burned off during transformation and is just a bundle of bones in a leather outfit ...still has breasts? As far as I knew, they aren't made of bones.
"Shhhh", my brain says. "Don't worry about pesky logic. This is candy, you're having fun!" And it's true.
Anyone else notice that this team-up is a strangely askew version of the New Fantastic Four team-up that happened back in 1990, which featured the grey "Mr. Fixit" Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine and the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider? Pretty cool, though I am surprised that they didn't mimic the original cover for that.
Also, thank the gods that they finally let Tony Moore ink his own work. I was so excited to see Moore was going to be working on VENOM #1 and was extremely disappointed in the finished product. The inks by Crimelad! Studios were just awful and really devolved the pencils by Tony. Thankfully, though, the art by Moore in this issue is the complete package and looks great! I wish this level of art was maintained throughout the last 12 issues of this series, but alas.
This was a mad-cap romp, dammit. I don't care if you don't like Ghost Rider being a girl, or Hulks that are red. If you like romps that are mad-cappy, then by all means, get on this book.
AMERICAN VAMPIRE #23Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
The older I get, the more time’s theory of relative cruelty becomes more stark and ever-present; this theory is even more true when it comes to reading the amazingly original and thoroughly engaging AMERICAN VAMPIRE. First off, despite its dense prose and lush art, it seems I’m done reading each issue almost seconds after I started. No, DC isn’t short-changing the page count, and Snyder is far from dialing this shit in, but as the saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” The fact that I read each issue of AMERICAN VAMPIRE twice in an effort to tide me over to the next issue is a testament to this book being more fun than eating bacon while getting a blowjob during a Skyrim dragon battle.
Time’s insistence on progressing and not slowing down also concerns the series as a whole, because I see it careening towards the present and as such fear a close to a book I’m not even close to being ready to let go of. For the unwashed masses that still haven’t bought the best comic on the shelves, AMERICAN VAMPIRE is about a new breed of vampire (an American one, for the particularly obtuse), but what’s most engaging about this series is how Snyder bites into each epoch of American history with each new arc. I’ll tell you “bite” is even a trite word, which should be used solely for pull quotes. Snyder rewrites history with a fictional horrific flourish while still maintaining the tonality of the time. There’s simply trueness to this book that makes the concept of vampires living among us more palpable than any of the other tales focusing on these anemic horrors. In the past almost two years, we have seen the evolution of VAMPIRE’s main antagonist (or protagonist, depending on the shade of your soul) Skinner Sweet from Civil War fighter to Old West outlaw to purveyor of sin and capitalism during the building of the Hoover Dam (that’s The Great Depression, for anyone that left school in the third grade) to WWII mercenary to, finally, the latest outing set firmly in the Happy Days of the 1950’s.
Now, I have a confession to make. I missed issue 22 of AMERICAN VAMPIRE. Somehow it just completely escaped my radar as I was scanning the comic shelf. I truly had no idea that this was ‘Death Race” Part II until I reached the last page. Did I worry that Skinner’s reluctant protégé Pearl and her mortal man-love weren’t around? Not really; even though she’s been a staple of the series to date, there have been plenty of solitary issues sans Pearl. More and most importantly, was I lost? Not for one damn second, proving the old Stan Lee adage that each comic should be (and, more importantly, can be) a reader’s first without being completely lost within a clusterfuck of continuity.
Snyder gave me everything I needed to know during the opening monologue, as new vampire hunter and appropriately dressed greaser Travis Kidd partakes in a death race across the desserts of then-vacant California. Of course, his prey is the one and only Skinner Sweet, but again the beauty of a Snyder book lies more in the people and the setting than the overarching plot. I learned that Kidd is no kid when it comes to his mental acuity and ability to remain singularly focused on his mission to kill vampires. I also learned that Kidd’s mission will not be swayed by any romantic feelings he might have for Sweet’s captive, Piper, a bobby-socked beauty that merely wants to break through Kidd’s tough leather-clad veneer. And finally, for those that actually read the last issue, I found out why Kidd is so damn adamant about giving Sweet a dirt nap. Apparently, this Kidd isn’t crazy; his family was murdered by vamps, and all the stories mental health professionals of the time tried to electroshock away were in fact real.
It’s great to see Albuquerque back on art chores, and more importantly imbibing this new time period in a way I’ve never seen before. My kudos mainly extend to the covers; I already knew Albuquerque had his own unique style for interior art, but these covers are simply gorgeous, and time period appropriate this time around. From imagery to font, one would think the cover is a poster ripped directly from the drive-in marquee.
Great book and a great read. Now, I need to see who I need to hunt down and kill for skipping my pull of AMERICAN VAMPIRE #22.
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.
FANTASTIC FOUR #602Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Barry Kitson, Paul Mounts
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
Weapons Of Everything Destruction.
Hickman's run with the Fantastic Four has stood out considerably to me, mostly because I usually can't stand the Fantastic Four. I've always found it to be an interesting concept that eventually gets bogged down by the typical "the family yells at one another, then they team up to fight the same monster again" system. But Hickman has ignored that for the most part, giving the family a strong sense of unity while simultaneously fulfilling every sci-fi nerdgasm dream I could muster. It's been one of Marvel's strongest titles since Hickman took over, and this issue continues the trend.
Writing: (5/5) Continuing the assault on Earth by the Kree, Hickman crafts what is in essence a twenty-two page long fight scene. And while weaker series would be slowed incredibly by such a story, FANTASTIC FOUR continues at a solid pace for the entire issue. The initial reprieve caused by Johnny's return has shifted back into the Kree's favour, and now the team is scrambling to simply survive against the onslaught. It's fast paced and appropriately exciting, if over a bit too quickly. It does give Susan some time to shine, which I appreciate greatly; She's always been my favorite of the bunch, and seeing her handle a squad of equal strength to the one confronting Human Torch, Thing, Spider-Man, and Annihilus Jr. is rewarding, and shows her off well. It then leads to a fantastic appearance by Galactus, who, actually, I fucking adore. The concept of a giant purple planet-eating god of death is so very comic booky and ridiculous that you could only see it in a super hero comic. But given a strong enough writer, he can still come off appropriately epic and terrifying. Hickman shows restraint towards him, giving him room to really show off just how miraculous and scary he can be. It also sets the board for next issue’s no doubt fantastic fight by giving Galactus a solid threat to beat down.
There's not much of the Fantastic Four rapport on stage here, but there are some nice little moments between Ben and Johnny, and then Reed and Sue. It's well written, but doesn't slow the action in the slightest.
If anything, the book only loses some speed when it briefly heads to Earth to show the Avengers desperately trying to protect the plane...New York. It's not really that important of a plot, and I'd have much rather just had that time diverted to giving the fights more room to breathe.
Art: (4/5) There are times when I think Kitson and Mounts have succeeded spectacularly with this issue, and then there are moments I feel are lacking. The set pieces in particular look phenomenal. Kree soldiers flying through space, the quick fight sequences, and especially the appearance of Galactus are remarkable done, being loud and dynamic without feeling too showy. It fits within the context of the story and conveys the scene well. Other times, notably many of the small faces and character moments, look broad and undefined. There's not a lot of attention paid to how people look in group scenes, but when you have ships exploding in great detail outside the window, it's not too much of a hindrance.
Best Moment: Galactus arriving on the scene.
Worst Moment: Honestly, I could have done without the few shots of Captain America hoping they all get saved.
Overall: (4/5) A strong issue in a strong series, which manages to elevate the conflict and not lose sight of the attack.
NAUGHTY AND NICE: THE GOOD GIRL ART OF BRUCE TIMMIllustrator: Bruce Timm
Publisher: Flesk Publications
Hey, hey, HEY!
Y’know, when the name Bruce Timm comes to mind…well, let’s just say that portraits of nude cartoon ladies don’t immediately spring up in my head. When I ordered NAUGHTY AND NICE: THE GOOD GIRL ART OF BRUCE TIMM off of Amazon I pretty much expected to get a book of superheroine pin-up art. I thought it’d be full of salaciously posed superpowered nymphettes rendered in Bruce Timm’s classic cartoon style. I don’t know why I expected that. Maybe it’s just that I’m mostly used to seeing that type of stuff whenever I’d do a Bruce Timm search on Google every once in a while. Maybe it’s just because as a fan of Timm and his general style of art, I thought that I’d seen a lot of the stuff he’d done at conventions and on the internet. What that stuff had exposed me to, for the most part, was mostly G-rated fare. Oh, sure, I’d seen some of Timm’s nudes on some art appreciation sites but, I dunno, I guess I wasn’t expecting so much of it when I bought this book.
And let me tell you…there’s a whole lotta naked in NAUGHTY AND NICE: THE GOOD GIRL ART OF BRUCE TIMM. A-whole-lot-of-naked.
Which is fine. Hey, I like the ladies. I’m not a prude. And Timm’s artwork is spectacular. What you’ve got here is pages and pages of fantastic Bruce Timm artwork laid out on terrific paper stock in a large sized-volume! What more could any comics/animation fan ask? Each page is a separate and distinct Timm illustration uncluttered by text or design aspects. This is not like many art books that cover a particular artist, where the art is obscured or surrounded by clinical text or interviews. This is all about the art. With the exception of an introduction by comics mega-god Steranko, there is barely any copy covering any aspect of Timm’s art--not that writing is needed in this case, because Timm’s artwork speaks for itself. While NAUGHTY AND NICE: THE GOOD GIRL ART OF BRUCE TIMM may not be the kind of book you’d want to leave laying around for the kids to find, it is a book that is for the mature comic fan: one who can get past the surface of the subject matter and just marvel at the technique behind what’s on the page. While the female forms Timm illustrates here may titillate many people who buy this book, it’s his artistic talent here that was drool-worthy to me. I was fortunate enough to sit in on an interview with Timm a couple of years ago, and I got the chance to ask him what tools he used to illustrate his color pieces. When he responded Prismacolor markers I practically fell out of my chair. If there’s anyone out there who can teach me how to do what Timm does with Prismacolors, please contact me because I am just astounded by what he’s able to do with them. Timm is a fantastic artist, and this book is a great showcase of his ability even if the subject matter might be a bit risqué for some people.
Now if a publishing company would release a collection of Timm’s superhero art I’d appreciate it. That way I can look at Timm’s art and have my daughter in the room at the same time.
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.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #5Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jim Lee
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
What do you do when you find yourself trying to enjoy a comic book more than you really do? Apparently you get on your internet soapbox (if you have one) to talk about the situation, though obviously I need to get critical here while breaking down my feelings on the matter. I personally don’t feel like I am much of a person that buys into hype. In fact, I’m probably one to let my cynical nature take over when the hype machine goes into effect. So it’s not the need to feel “involved” in this book that keeps me coming back; it more or less boils down to admiration for those involved, and that sensation is why it’s easy to forgive and be hopeful, but also for disappointment to ring a little louder than normal.
While there has not been an issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE thus far that has really punched my socks off my feet, I’ve typically found something about each to be enjoyable. But that is where the slippery slope begins, methinks. You go through twenty pages and think “well, I know the plot didn’t really go anywhere, but that Superman moment was badass” and you hope for more to come. And so far they kind of have, particularly last issue where I particularly enjoyed Cyborg’s coming-out party and felt there was some pretty good emotional weight in that. Combined with the emergence of Darkseid, of which I don’t mind the new digs at all and who looked pretty badass and iconic, you start to believe the tide is turning and the real story is beginning. And then you get this issue.
This is where my disconnect with this title has really reared up, as I feel it somewhat epitomizes the disconnect the series as a whole has had so far. Outside of that aforementioned Cyborg moment, no one has really shown anything but one-dimensional personality traits, and no one has done anything but posture, really. Sure, you can chalk this up to theses heroes going into “Alpha mode” around each other, but most of them are acting completely lopsided, each to a trait that seems to be the focus of this first arc. Green Lantern is a hothead, Batman is always under control and not to be underestimated, Superman is brash, etc. Even in the vacuum that is this first team up there is no reason to assume that these beings haven’t bothered to develop their own personalities before now, but apparently that is the case.
The real dagger in this issue is its non-eventuality. Oh, things happen; there’s some Omega Beams and Superman and Batman take a trip to a fiery hellhole of a planet. Besides that, five issues in, we’ve almost got a team and Darkseid is pretty intimidating still. Take the first d-word I’ve thrown around a lot here – disconnect – and add another to the mix – that being “decompressed” – and this issue really has me in doubt (oh my, I did it again). There should be a lot of epicness going on here; I mean, it’s fucking Geoff Johns and Jim Lee for fuck’s sake, but it mostly feels like people standing around outside of a few Lantern constructs and instances of super speed being bandied about.
One last point to make and I think I’m done (and for this, I’m going to put a milk crate on top of my soap box). You have a story that has not really moved much in five issues. Those five issues have been higher priced than usual without any more new content than a $2.99 issue--just some sketches and whatnot for books that aren’t even this. Plus you have a “drawing the line” campaign on price point and are failing to keep it up with your premiere title. At some point this is all going to add up to not buying a title that should be a no brainer given the talent involved. Until then, the internal debate of hypocrite (when is enough enough?) versus hopefulness (this has to be awesome at some point, right?) continues to rage.
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.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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