|Issue #47||Release Date: 2/8/12||Vol.#10|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
1000 WAYS TO DIE OGN
GREEN LANTERN #6
THE STARS #1
NEW MUTANTS #37
EVERY WAKING MOMENT #1
MURKY WORLD #1
CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1
POWERS #8Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Oeming
Publisher: Marvel Icon
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Let’s start off by calling out the white elephant in the room: POWERS is late more often than Michelle Duggar’s period. But, let’s all be honest with one another, if the book was shit we wouldn’t care. While the delays aren’t as egregious as, say, JMS on THE TWELVE, it’s hard to stay vested in a serial comic when trying to rack your brain for the events that transpired last issue when you’ve read a 100 or so comics in between (more in my case, but I’m going with the average). This is a book where I will never fault the trade waiters, because despite the delays…despite the impenetrable continuity at this point…POWERS is still one of the best reads on the shelf.
For the few folks that might have stumbled on this review looking for whispers about the TV show in pilot, POWERS is the story of two detectives, Walker and Pilgrim, in a world where superpowers are outlawed. While simple in premise, Bendis and Oeming have cultivated this concept into a living and breathing universe with a back story that is more lush than the foliage in “Jurassic Park”.
While Walker and Pilgrim started out as just detectives hunting down folks that use superpowers to do dirty deeds, the two have evolved into much more in the past ten or so years. We learned that Walker once had powers, but lost them. Oh, and he’s immortal (as illustrated in the now infamous money-man fucking arc). Walker regained powers quite recently (recently is relative here, I’m talking comic time not real time) when recruited into Bendis’ version of the Green Lantern Corps. Pilgrim, who was always normal, has also gained new powers and jumped sides to the FBI.
This issue focuses on someone killing l33t superheroes who are Bendis’ bend on the New New Gods. Pilgrim is trying to hunt this killer for the feds, while Walker and his new partner (a mole for Internal Affairs, trying to suss out whether Walker has powers again or not) work the case on the side of local law enforcement.
I’m a fan of Bendis. I like his dialogue. But I also know that there are those that hate his staccato naturalistic approach. I look at things this way: Bendis writes flawed characters, almost the modern day equivalent of a young Frank Miller. Should true heroes stammer for words? Probably not, but if you are going for the naturalistic feel, “uhs” and “uhmmms” are rife throughout all of our speech patterns at one point or another. I’ll concede to the purists when it comes to larger than life characters like Captain America or Tony Stark. Yes, they should probably be on a speech pattern above the mortal man, but in a book like POWERS, this simply makes the world feel even more real. So my point is, even if Bendis has turned you off in his BIG books, give POWERS a try, but for the love of God buy it in trade and start yourself off with the first volume, else you will be adrift in a sea of rich character history that will be nowhere near as impactful.
Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2012 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.
1000 WAYS TO DIE OGNWriters: Chuck Brown, Neo Edmund, Patrick Shand, Ralph Tedesco
Artists: Anthony Spay and others
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
For some, it’s a guilty pleasure. For others, it’s a show as off-putting as “Jersey Shore”. While I would advise those with a weak stomach to avoid Spike’s 1000 WAYS TO DIE, this show is a much better exercise in schadenfreude than laughing at a bunch of guidos on MTV.
1000 WAYS TO DIE is essentially the TV reproduction of the Darwin Awards. Each episode contains about 5 deaths, usually grotesque, and more often than not caused by the stupidity of the deceased. How sadistic is it that I was truly giddy to review a graphic novel based on such a sadistic premise? If it is wrong to enjoy seeing @$$holes die, then I don’t want to be right.
The comic follows the basic premise of the show. There are 20 stories of misfortunate accidental deaths, five to seven of which are from season 3 and are available on the Spike TV website. If you’ve seen the show, then you know the format. The date and location are given at the beginning and there is narration that runs through each story. Sometimes, though less often than compared to the show, “experts” are brought in for their opinion on the situation. The unique aspect brought to the graphic novel is the use of a medical examiner and investigator. These two appear near or at the end of each story, not only to explain the cause of death, but also to provide humor, even if it is dark and/or crass. It may seem redundant to re-tell tales already presented on the program, but the graphic novel actually works, especially with the addition of the medical examiner and investigator, whom bring freshness to the storytelling.
Each death features a new artist and colorist. Despite the change in style, there is not one particular tale that seems to be the black sheep of the bunch. They tend to have a similar base that they work off of. The only artwork that does remain overtly consistent is the big-breasted (especially in “Titty-Titty Bang Bang”) blondes. I guess all men have the same vision of what those look like.
If I were to pick on anything, it would be the rare but blatant inconsistencies. In the last two stories, the relationship and characterizations of the medical examiner and investigator completely change. Also, a couple of the stories have random epilogues inserted such as “Handi-crapped” and “Myth Busted”. Instead of ending the story on the medical examiner/investigator or the typical narrational pun, some of the writers chose to expand the tales beyond the set structure. Why fix what ain’t broken?
If you enjoy watching 1000 WAYS TO DIE, especially those of you that wait until everyone in the house has left so you can laugh incredibly loud when you see yet another bimbo meet her maker, then you need to pick this up. For those of you that think they can stomach stories that involve decapitation, appendages being ripped off, and arteries sliced open, then you may find that this comic makes you appreciate your life just that much more.
Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a film student at Chapman University. Lyz’s love for comics stems from an internship at Dark Horse Entertainment as a freshman, which may explain why some of her favorite comic book writers are Gerard Way and Steve Niles. You can find her on Facebook, but only if you follow her band: Castle Town Convicts (possibly a Zelda reference?).
GREEN LANTERN #6Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Mike Choi
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler
6 issues in and I really do feel that GREEN LANTERN may be the most consistent book coming out of the entire NEW 52 lineup (not counting HAWK AND DOVE, of course, which I’m told is very consistent in sucking…sorry, it was too easy). I’m sure there’s many an argument for other titles having consistency, but I can’t think of anything else that is keeping its stories moving forward and keeping its particular universe interesting and fresh without jumping all over the place (even though I still love you, I’m looking at you here, Batman). We get more of that forward progress in this issue, and from what it seems we’re but a few issues away from the first major GREEN LANTERN event in the New 52.
Geoff Johns is on his A game as usual with the title and he provides us with another great issue this month. We get two stories here, the first being Hal Jordan on Earth beginning to accept his life of no longer being a Green Lantern and second, we get to see how regardless of the color ring he is wearing Sinestro will do whatever it takes to get what he needs done. I love how this issue gets back to focusing on both character’s personalities at their core. Hal is brash and cocky at times but with or without a ring, he’s a hero and despite the first several issues really beating Hal down, this one reminds us that he’s still a good man at his core. On the flipside, we’ve seen over the first 5 issues a Sinestro who seems to be accepting some form of regret for his past choices, but as we see through his interactions with an old defeated foe from his past (who the reader is first being introduced to), Sinestro is still very cold and cunning when it comes to him getting what he needs done. This solid character development coupled with some nice teases for bigger things to come makes this yet another example of why GREEN LANTERN is one of the best (if not THE best) DC books out there today.
The only real low point of this issue for me is Doug Mahnke taking a break on art and having Mike Choi come in for the guest spot. Choi is a solid artist, but Mahnke and team have really defined the look of GREEN LANTERN for a while now so to see Choi’s more subtle take on the characters just made me miss Mahnke’s work. I look forward to (hopefully) having him back next issue.
GREEN LANTERN is on a roll since the DC relaunch (and even long before that) and every issue makes me yearn for the next. Hands down the best of all the GREEN LANTERN books (as it should be), the flagship title is presenting some great storylines, building up to what looks like a very cool first event involving the Guardians of the Universe and their “we’re getting more evil with each issue” plans. Some of the story presented in GREEN LANTERN CORPS is starting to play nicely into Hal and Sinestro’s exploits in this book and I can’t wait to read where it’s all headed.
THE STARS #1Writer: Kurt Belcher
Illustrator: Kurt Belcher, Stuart Berryhill and Lisa Sky
Publisher: Earthbound Comics
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty
THE STARS is not just the name of this indie comic, the brainchild of writer/illustrator Kurt Belcher, known for his work on WINTER WAR, but also the name of the superhero group it centers on. They are, quite frankly, stars, in a celebrity sort of way, as you would expect any modern superhero to be. Think about how many needless hits an online story about Blue Ivy gets. This thing is like, what, a few months removed from having a tail? Call me when you can wipe your own ass, kid--then we’ll have something to talk about. Anyway, the point is, a real life superhero would be the real king of all media, which is what John Century, leader of THE STARS, has become. And why not? He fits that old school celebrity look of tall, blonde, handsome and well-dressed. Think Optimous Douche with a square jaw and “Blue Steel” pose and you have your front man.
What I liked most about this latest offering from Earthbound is that it just feels like a comic. There’s none of that pretentious crap or morality tales that plague so many recent books. I understand that everyone has an agenda, but Belcher’s appears to be nothing more than telling a good story and having fun in the process. That kind of enthusiasm is infectious and it’s difficult to not get sucked into this tale of what is essentially superhero recruiting, kind of like AMERICAN IDOL in that some of the superpowers will leave you in awe while others will have you shaking your head in sympathy. The story, about getting the group back together (plus a few new members) to fight a new global threat, is primitive at best, but that’s okay, because it works here. THE STARS is a cohesive effort that fires on all cylinders, from the art to the writing, and a majority of that credit goes to Belcher. But I would be remiss in my duties as a reviewer to not to mention the incredible visuals from Stuart Berryhill and Lisa Sky, who present colors just a shade under blinding, giving every panel the ability to leap off the page with a frenetic vibrancy. It really is a sight to behold. I wonder if they tried to see just how far they could push the color palette without it becoming absurd, because this thing is damn near fluorescent. Again, it works, because it fits the overall tone of the book and that’s not an easy task.
I know a lot of today’s readers find themselves too sophisticated for indie comics and have to peruse every new offering at the local rag shop before making their selection, but let’s be real here for a minute. We’re talking about comic books. What do you need to be successful? A strong narrative, a steady pencil and a team of people who want to tell a good story for the purpose of telling a good story, not for the purposes of making a quick buck or converting a failed screenplay. THE STARS meets that criteria and reminded me of why comics, when presented for what they are, can be so damn entertaining: majestic heroes, dastardly villains, downtown super-brawls and slack-jawed onlookers. I gobbled up THE STARS in one sitting. More please.
Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at MMaMania.com here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.
NEW MUTANTS #37Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: David Lòpez & Val StaplesPublisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
Because I need To Not Write About Spider-Man or Punisher MAX (but seriously, Punisher MAX was fantastic this week)…
Sometimes, a cover will sell a comic for me. Maybe it’s Spider-man fighting a clock, maybe it’s Bufkin about to be hung. And sometimes, it’s Mephisto attempting to woo an X-Man. That’s just ridiculous enough to work. It’s always a huge relief to find the comic within worth reading. But with a nice departure from the typical portrayal of Mephitic, the New Mutant crew has produced an entertaining comic.
Writing: (4/5) The issue is quite enjoyable, thanks to some truly entertaining dialogue and entertaining set pieces. The chemistry between Amara and Mephisto is palpable, with the two playing off another well. It plays out as many first dates do, and it’s entertaining as all hell to read.
A great deal is helped by the refreshing take on Mephitic as the “charming idiot” of the modern day. No billowing cape or long-winded speeches; instead he’s this kind of charming young entrepreneur, snarky but easily taken aback. The sort of fellow you see playing opposite Zooey Deschanel in a typical ABC sitcom. It’s a nice take on the devil being the most charming person you’d meet, and fits well with the tone of the story.
Art: (3/5) What stands out most is the great faces done throughout. Every panel is filled to the brim with unique and memorable faces. Almost a week after first reading it, I still remember clearly the bright faces during the diner scene. On occasion they might be a little too broad or a little too anime-y (a trend I rather wish would just go away), but at their best, they’re cartoonish and expressive in all the right ways.
It also goes a number of places, each one being distinctive and new. While it may seem easy to really set a scene in Hell apart from a scene in the middle of a diner, it does say something that both settings are distinctive in the basic demeanor and patronage. Compare the rigid and expected appearances of the Hell restraint to the more lively and realistic diner. Both look notably different, and both are engaging.
Best Moment: The date itself, notably the conversation about Mephisto’s charity works. It shows they’re playing the charming sort of guy, while also remembering that it is, after all, Satan.
Worst Moment: Some of the faces just popped out at me in the wrong ways.
Overall: (4/5) It’s a light, enjoyable first date story, and if the tone of the whole series matches, then I’ll have another X-Men series to start reading regularly.
PLANETOID #1Writer & Artist: Ken Garing
Publisher: KGAR Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
When reviewing creator owned, self-published titles my reviews have more “buts” in them than a rap video, like “the art was good, but the price is not on par with the quality” or “the story was decent, but my cousin who has to wear a bicycle helmet off the bike could write better dialog.” I take this approach in part to not squash the ideals of young creators; just because this outing wasn’t good doesn’t mean that the next try won’t hit the mark. I also do it for followers of this column; you expect us to only endorse the items that are worth your $3.99.
PLANETOID is one of those rare creator finds where there are no “buts.” From start to finish this tale of a marooned interplanetary smuggler is on par with if not better than the quality churning out of the big houses. I can say emphatically that this digital presentation of the comic is well worth the $3.00 price of admission…assuming of course Garing takes us beyond this expository issue.
Where Garing gets first credit is finding an online medium to hock his wares. Most web comics are still an exercise in frustration; bloated PDFs or half baked Flash interfaces wouldn’t be so bad if the writer remembered they weren’t writing a hard copy piece. You don’t put a two page splash in a PDF--it’s like jerking off after only opening half of the Playboy centerfold. Graphicly and Garing go together better than blowjobs and bacon. With each click to the next panel the interface moves you forward as naturally as your eye would go to the next pane in a hard copy. Garing’s panache for cinematic movement flows effortlessly from this interface. From the opening space shot of the industrial wasteland that is our PLANETOID to the smaller quieter moments once our marooned space farer meets his first person on this planet, each panel had purpose and perpetually built tension and falling conflict when warranted.
Naturally I don’t want to give too much away so you give Garing the $3.00 he so justly deserves, but I want to get this kid out of nowhere a shot at the bigs because he is more than deserving. I could see PLANETOID with an Image label much easier than some of the current titles I see churning out from that label.
PLANETOID envisions a future where space is colonized. We are at war with some sentient squid-like bastards that get their kumbayayas from simply laying waste to humanoids and their settlements. It also seems like a war we human folks are losing. Perhaps part of my joy comes from the fact we are in a serious space opera drought right now outside of IDW’s licensed properties. PLANETOID gave me the same warm space squishies I received when watching my first episode of FIREFLY. This isn’t to say that Garing doesn’t have his own voice; he’s nowhere near as glib or cutesy as a Whedon book. But I liked the fact that space is dirty and unsettled; despite all of our technological advances we can easily be fallen and forced to survive the elements if a rogue electromagnetic pulse grabs hold of our ship.
Most of the issue is spent with our lone traveler introducing us to the tech of the time as he explores the richly and beautifully illustrated industrial wasteland of PLANETOID. The politics of what’s going down comes towards the end and is merely a whetting of the appetite for issue 2.
I hate guys like Garing--those that can make beautiful art and an engaging story all on their lonesome makes my skill of just being just a writer feel outdated and ready to be put out to pasture. The Big 2 and smaller indies should hate Garing as well; if he can do this level of work without infinite resources and a huge team, why the fuck can’t infinite dollars and time get us a new issue every four weeks? But as much as they should hate him for making them look bad, they should also hire him.
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Becky Cloonan
Publisher: Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
“No crime, but everyone fled and I was the fool for staying to finish my drink!”
Besides the movies (not the new one), I never really had any interest in CONAN. I like the character fine, but besides my WHAT IF? CONAN VS. WOLVERINE (one of my prized possessions), I haven’t really had any interest in reading the comics, the reason being, as short sighted as it is, that I kind of felt like I knew what was going to happen in most of his stories. CONAN gets into a conflict, chops of some heads, and leaves with the girl, the end…actually now that I say it out loud it sounds a lot cooler than my stubborn mind led to believe (damn you lizard brain!). The draw for me was Brian Wood (NORTHLANDERS scribe extraordinaire) and Becky Cloonan (DEMO, AMERICAN VIRGIN…really just an awesome artist with great style). I have various friends always telling me how good NORTHLANDERS is and I had a (cute) girl almost threaten to beat me up at a bar because, at the time, I was unfamiliar with Becky Cloonan…so here I am holding CONAN #1…let’s discuss.
You all know I’m an art dude…if you don’t, I’m an art dude as opposed to a story dude. Meaning that I care more about art in a comic than I do the story, I want both to be good but I find it hard to really get into a comic if I’m not feeling the art. With that said, the art in this comic is great, I had a feeling it would be, but damn...this is really good. Each page has a feeling like everything is alive and moving…it’s hard to explain but when CONAN is talking to Tito, Master of the Argus after their initial meeting, there’s a really kinetic feeling to the characters that really made me feel as though Becky Cloonan was on the ship, drawing these moments as they happened. This is another example of a book that could have little to no words and the same emotional effect could be achieved because of how strong the art is. Dave Stewart deserves some love, too, because the colors in this book pop off the page. Even just based on the art and the vivid coloring alone in this book I can’t see how any comic fan could thumb through this issue and opt to pass on it. I really could go on and on about how much I like the art, but…let’s move on. We quickly learn what kind of person CONAN is through the way that he speaks: he’s arrogant, honorable, strong, humble, and loyal as well as a man who enjoys women, drinks and chopping a mofo’s head off if the situation requires it. Brian Wood does a great job with CONAN’S dialog; I love the way he talks and it made it very easy to believe that even though CONAN had threatened the crew moments before, that they could grow to like and respect him after his explanation of why he was being perused by the Argos guardsmen. I’m not sure if this is how he has always spoken in the comics, but Brian Wood reveals everything you need to know about Conan during this account and it’s one of the best introductions to a character I’ve read in a while. Not to hype this movie up more, but it reminds me of the beginning of DRIVE, where within the first 15 minutes of the movie we learn pretty much everything we need to know about the driver simply based on how he handles the situation that’s been dealt to him.
I have to admit, I like and am more interested in CONAN then I was before I read this comic and if a creative team can do that in one issue, they’ll have my $3.50 every month. The great thing this comic does is not only give you a good idea of who CONAN is, what he believes in and is willing to fight for, but (at least for me) it also made me curious about past CONAN comics that my bullheadedness prevented me from reading. The art by Becky Cloonan in this comic is really good and does a great job of conveying emotion as well as setting the mood, not to mention CONAN looks young, brash, rugged and pretty damn cool. Dave Stewart deserves recognition as well and adds a lot to the art. Even if you have a fleeting interest in CONAN, you should pick this up…you won’t be disappointed.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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