|Issue #4||Release Date: 5/30/12||Vol.#11|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: BEFORE WATCHMEN: MINUTEMEN #1
ROCKETEER ADVENTURES 2 #3
SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES #1
Advance Review: HARBINGER #1
INCREDIBLE HULK #8
BATMAN ANNUAL #1
THE BOOK OF ALIEN and ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES MANUAL
Advance Review: EARTH 2 #2
FAIRY TALES OF OSCAR WILDE: THE HAPPY PRINCE HC GN
SUPER KNOCKED-UP #1
Advance Review: HARBINGER #1
Advance Review: In stores this week!
BEFORE WATCHMEN: MINUTEMEN #1Written & Drawn: Darwyn Cooke
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
BWM can best be described as a milquetoast THE TWELVE. It fucking kills me to write this, but I can’t lie. The power and impact is just not there anymore when you learn that these Golden Age pastiches of the DC universe had flaws. Yeah, we kind of know that already.
Plus, let’s be honest, THE MINUTEMEN were a backdrop at best in the original WATCHMEN. They were Golden Age characters that served more to accentuate the shittiness of the silver age WATCHMEN versus being their own story. The only two we ever really cared about were Sally Jupiter and the Comedian because they made Laurie Juspeczyk’s story that much better.
Darwyn does his damndest with this thing, bringing forth his A-game retro style of art that we all loved back in NEW FRONTIER, but even the best of efforts can’t pull the ripcord for a bad editorial decision plummeting to the earth.
The premise sets us a few days after Hollis Mason’s retirement and before the impending publishing of his Supes tell-all-tale “Under the Hood.” While unpacking his things he reflects on…you guessed it, the team. I don’t want to go into the flaws of the team because that’s all that’s conveyed, their flaws.
As a reader of the original WATCHMEN, I will say the flaws of the characters we know were conveyed better in WATCHMEN. The Comedian seems functionally retarded versus sadistic; Sally Jupiter is more pathetic than sad and Hollis , I don’t even get what the hell he’s doing.
This review will feel rushed, because I think this book was rushed. It’s beyond out of place. Yes, I will continue to read the deluge of BEFORE WATCHMEN titles about to come out, but they will be the ones on the ACTUAL WATCHMEN.
Reading the prequel to the MINUTEMEN is about as interesting as reading the prequel of the newsstand guy in the original WATCHMEN.
Bring on Rorschach stat!
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.
ROCKETEER ADVENTURES 2 #3Writer: Various
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Masked Man
First off, what’s not to like about the Rocketeer? He's an everyman who became a superhero and has a smok’n hot girl who loves him as well. And if you enjoy old timey 1940’s cool (unlike the current powers that be at DC - ooh I bet they’ll sting from that one!), it’s got that too. Bottomline, if your bag is action/adventure, you should buy this comic book!
Getting into the issue itself, which is part of IDW’s second Rocketeer anthology mini-series, they again have pulled together some of the best talent in comic books today. Who are creating love letters to the late Dave Stevens’ iconic character, in comic form. From the great cover by Darwyn Cooke, to a sweet pin-up by the Goon’s creator Eric Powell, the comic also contains three stories. The first story is by David Lapham and Chris Sprouse, which is a nice piece about Cliff and Betty's relationship. Sprouse is such a natural fit for the Rocketeer, I’d love to see him do more. Kyle Baker handles the second story, with his usual sense of humor and chaos, dropping us into the middle of an adventure. Then Matt Wagner and Eric Canete finish up with the third story, which gives an overview of the Rocketeer's career with a twist. Canete has some really nice pages, but part of me really wishes Matt would start penciling again. Matt is a fine writer, but I believe his art is much stronger, and I miss it!
Unfortunately the book and the series in general suffer from one flaw. They all pretty much repeat the same story over and over again. Which is, giving us a quick look into the Rocketeer’s world - Cliff is a hapless everyman, who is over protective of his pin-up girlfriend Betty. Flying is his life and he hopes to use the rocket pack for fame and fortune, but often uses it to fight crime or Nazis, neither of which he is particularly good at. Still despite the rough ride, he always comes out on top in the end - Granted, they only have so many pages to tell their story, so I get that they can’t develop anything with real depth. But I do feel they should do something more than repeating the main tenants of the character. Comparing it to “Batman Black and White” by DC back in the 1990’s; I feel DC was more successful in getting interesting and unique takes on Batman and his world. I can’t say for certain why IDW is having this trouble- page limit, only passing knowledge of the character, or editor restrains- who knows. I just know they do and Rocketeer Adventures comes off a bit too much like fluff. So, I wish they could have really done something more interesting with this series, beyond showcasing the amazing talents of the creators. Mind you that talent saves the book from a 2 and so it scores a 3 out of 4.
SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES #1Writers : Art Baltazar and Franco
Artist: Art Baltazar
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Dean
SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES #1 is incredibly easy to fall in love with. It bears it’s all ages, “Rated E” mark with pride, keeping the whole family entertained with a balance of excitement and silliness that makes Superman feel fresh again, without the need of “realism,” “grit,” or any other buzzword confused with “quality.” Baltazar and Franco have produced, in one issue, a Superman who is easily recognizable as such, without any needless, circular exposition, who cuts right to the chase - righting wrongs, and delighting denizens wherever he goes (I’m no Stan Lee, I know, but I have to get my alliteration practice in somewhere)! I’m not against mature takes on the character in the slightest, but while both mainstream titles are busy defining a new Kal-El for a new generation, SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES jumps head first into action packed, Saturday morning storytelling that should easily capture the imaginations of the endangered grade school demographic.
The story kicks off with Superman doing something impressive, and the people of Metropolis acting impressed – with that, I was hooked! I was even able overlook the one guy commending Superman’s new v-neck collar, as it was just so great to see the city of tomorrow fully behind its man of tomorrow again! From there, we move to the office of a racially ambiguous Perry White, where we get a quick round of Fleischer-esque banter before robots befall the Big Apricot. Krypto, Superboy, and Supergirl help the Man of Steel deal with the robots, as he determines through a puzzle worthy of Blue’s Clues that the man behind this attack is a very pre-crisis Lex Luthor, complete with purple turtleneck, and a brand new mouse buddy with a dapper ‘do named Fuzzy (still a better partner than Otis)! On route to the Man of Steel eventually saving the day, we’re treated to an array of slapstick comedy that will no doubt keep the kids happy, while the glaring ignorance of Mr. Luthor lead to a few audible chuckles from myself. In a lot of way, this series is probably best described as a Superman adventure as told by the Marx Brothers (how awesome would Groucho have been as Mr. Mxyzptlk?!).
If you’re familiar with Baltazar’s work on TINY TITANS, you know what you’re going to see when you open SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES. If this will be your first time experiencing his work, his clean, simple designs and bold outlines are easy to admire, and standout considerably against the majority of other comics on the stands. Even though it’s an absolute joy to look at, this obviously isn’t the type of art you’re going to want to show off to your friends, but at least Baltazar gives back to kids here what Jim Lee tried to take away – a chance in hell to draw Superman’s costume! The traceability of this had the five year old in me chomping at the bit to find a pencil, a good light source, and gullible friends to convince I had drawn it freehand. Honestly though, outside of Lee, this is my favorite interpretation of the New 52 design. The clarity of Baltazar’s work does the new suit a lot of favors, as the streamlined look gets rid of a lot of the needless complications that Lee of course has no problem with, but other artists either struggle with, or simply hate drawing. I’m guessing the latter.
At another time, I may not have even considered picking this one up, let alone anticipated the next installments release the way I am now. But though it’s still early in the relaunch, the mainstream Superman titles have been a pretty mixed bag, and the team of Baltazar and Franco may wind up producing the most consistently fun Superman option we have. While ACTION and SUPERMAN work out the continuity and character rehauls, it’s nice to have a respite that concerns itself with fun and entertainment, and SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES delivers just that in every way, for every age.
Advance Review: In stores this week!
HARBINGER #1Writer: Joshua Dysart
Art: Khari Evans
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
For a brief time in the early 90s there was a magical universe called Valiant Comics. It was an oasis of hyper-reality adrift in a sea of egregiously disproportionate body parts, ethereal backgrounds, and stories that were less substantive than the Thinspo board on Pinterest.
Valiant showed us what Alan Moore and Frank Miller knew almost a decade prior — our collective infatuation with capes and spandex was dead. The heroes of the next millennium would be a stark representation of reality, whose battles for good and justice would be just as arduous as any of ours – they could simply do cool shit in the process.
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, SOLAR, MAGNUS and HARBINGER – Valiant wove together multiple millenniums of past and future history into a collective shared story where each title played a game of “just the tip” with every other story in the universe. You didn’t need to know where Rai’s blood came from, but once you found out in Bloodshot, it made you very glad you were reading every other book.
Sadly, Valiant imploded – call it hubris or call it out-of-time and out-of-place. I simply call it a downright travesty of comics that signaled the beginning of the end for the whole damn industry until the resurgence in the aught years of the new millennium.
When I heard tell of Valiant’s re-launch about a year ago, like any old fogey I was worried. Could this new universe capture the same glory and splendor of Valiant past?
Well, now that we are two books into the New 52, I mean new Valiant U (sans 52), I can say without reservation, YES! Valiant 2.0 is capturing the gritty realism that made me forsake the X-MEN for a time without aping what has come before.
I invoke Marvel’s merry mutants in this review, because that’s exactly what the HARBINGERS are. They are homo superior without a school or professor to shelter them. As we learn in this first issue, these next gen humans are truly hunted and feared and in some cases driven bat-shit crazy by these new unique abilities.
What struck me most about this new HARBINGER is that this Valiant is taking the story approach versus the ridiculous upsells we were subjected to a generation ago. You get a complete honest-to-God story in this issue without having to clip 12 coupons and mail them back in to receive a special issue that gives you the exposition that you kind of expect in a number 1.
Fans of Dark Horse will remember a cat named Toyo Harada that embodied pure evil inside the pages of DOCTOR SOLAR last year. Shooter made him evil with a capital E. Any guy that uses Taiwanese hookers as disposable punching bags is certainly not someone you pick as your kid’s godparent. Twenty years ago, Toyo was also the chief agent of evil inside the Valiant universe. As the first HARBINGER, a man of the baby boomer generation, he used his ability to read minds and control…well anything, to create the world’s largest company. While money is nice Toto clearly has other grander plans for leaving his indelible mark on humanity. The opening sequence of him seeking guidance in the early 1950’s from a monk that spouts fountains of blood was creepy and all together a great differentiation from every other #1 coming out right now.
Flash forward today and we meet Peter Stancheck, a young man that seems to have the same mental prowess as Toyo, just none of the control. Twenty years ago, when HARBINGER first hit the scene, Pete took his abilities in stride, they ostracized him from his peers, but that was about the extent of his torment. In once again reflecting the mores of the time, Dysart, Valiant, or both made Pete a Pharmababy, self-medicating away the voices of every mind around him one Ritalin at a time. Great choice!
Now again, twenty years ago (Jesus I sound my like Father), new HARBINGERS were thrown at us with reckless abandon. Part of this rushed approach to bringing together a team was because of the tight continuity and introduction of characters in other books (which was good), but also because of those fucking mail-away 0 issues (not so good) and finally Pete needed Harada to activate his powers in the last generation. This time around, Pete and his companion, a young man with unbeknownst powers at the close of the issue, are the only two HARBINGERS we meet out of the gate. Now, Toyo ends up finding Pete and his companion, but not in a way anyone would expect. This was probably my favorite scene in the book, during this dreamscape meeting, writer Dysart touches on a theme I have held close to my heart since the recession started: baby boomers raped this world. Toyo tells Pete about his special abilities, the fact there are other Harbingers and also the fact things are going to become a lot worse with the world before it things ever get better.
An interesting choice I’m not sure I agree with, but I’m certainly willing to roll with (for now), was how Pete uses his powers. Pete’s kind of a son-of-a-bitch, deciding to use his mind control to get his childhood sweetheart into bed while he and his buddy are squatting in an abandoned house outside of their home town. Again, if it’s addressed in a realistic manner, it pushes Pete into a moral quandary that will be nice to watch him try to twist his way out of. It will also be intriguing to see him redeem himself before he becomes the leader of an entire team. This is of course we get a team this time around. Who knows?
I’m more than sold on the HARBINGER, X-O MANOWAR and I can’t wait for the return of ARCHER & ARMSTRONG. They say you can never go home again, but that’s bullshit. My home of Valiant is still there; it simply got a great new modern coat of paint and was hooked up with WiFi.
INCREDIBLE HULK #8Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Steve Dillon
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo
“He’s either a … a dog who turned himself into a man or a man who turned into a dog, depends on who you ask.”
There is so much to love about this issue of INCREDIBLE HULK, but as I read and learned more and more about the unseen and mysterious Pit Bull, I wondered…”Why hasn’t anyone made a mutated dog villain until NOW? It’s such a simple but potentially creepy idea.” Annnnnnd then I SAW Pit Bull, the mysterious man-dog or dog-man, depending on who you ask, and realized that a man-dog dog-man looks RIDICULOUS, and isn’t at all scary. But I don’t *really* think he’s supposed to be scary, he’s a silly villain that hopefully will return for us to scoff at again in the future.
I had given the last issue, (7.1) a glowing review because of the fun-quotient and it’s just getting fun..ner? Listen, it’s great, is what I’m saying. The simultaneous inner monologues from both Banner and Hulk, the Punisher’s fantastic interrogation technique, the….heroin gun, the final three words of the issue. It’s all a raucous good time! I’ve never really been a huge Hulk fan in the past, I dip in and out occasionally, but never stick around for too long, but then again, I don’t ever remember reading the Hulk as a semi-humorous exploitation film before either. It all comes across very GrindHouse-y, and I’m loving it!
I AM a little confused as to how “Stay Angry” is different than the usual Hulk/Banner dynamic…The Hulk always hated turning back into Banner, but I suppose it’s the fact that now, we as readers are actually rooting for the Hulk to finally outsmart Banner, since ole four-eyes has become the villain of the piece. Ever since being forcefully separated from the Hulk, thanks to Dr. Doom, Banner has been the Marvel’s newest, craziest Mad Scientist. There hasn’t really been a change in the relationship between Jade Jaws and Chicken Legs, but now it seems that we as viewers have switched sides, and it’s making for really interesting reading.
When we showed you the First Look at this issue a little bit ago, I was a little concerned about Steve Dillon’s style and how effective it would be here. I wasn’t a big fan of his Nerd-Hulk from Mark Millar’s ULTIMATE AVENGERS series, and thought the same problem would play out here, but this is pretty good stuff. I’m more used to The Hulk looking more…I dunno, Hulking, but here he’s more of a very tall circus Muscle Man. His proportions aren’t that of a monster but of a big ole fella. Dillon’s Frank Castle, is, of course, perfect.
I’m ready for an ongoing Jason Aaron Hulk/Punisher team-up book, but I guess for now I’ll have to settle for this amazingly fun storyline.
JD can be found hosting the PopTards Podcast, drawing a weekly webcomic, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating for a living, and Booking his Face off over here. Follow his twitter @poptardsgo. His talkback name is PopTard_JD. He is also now co-hosting another Comic Book discussion show on Party934.com alongside Bohdi Zen. They discuss comics and play music, check it out live every Saturday from 4-5pm.
BATMAN: ANNUAL #1Writer: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Art: Jason Fabok
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler
The Comic book Annual and I have never had the best of relationships. Ever since I was a kid I remember them popping up and me not liking them because I just didn’t feel a connection to them. They were oversized, more expensive and often just made me want to skip ahead to the actual next issue in the series I had already invested in. For the life of me despite what I’m sure were many annuals I actually didn’t hate, the only issue I can remember from my childhood is the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #22 with Speedball and Daredevil on the cover (I have no idea why but I feel this asinine memory is somehow important for me to share) and I don’t even recall it being a good one at that. So with these thoughts I was pretty skeptical purchasing BATMAN: ANNUAL #1 (especially with a $4.99 pricetag) but to my delight it was actually a very good issue.
The book focuses on Mr. Freeze, who after reading both this book and the last issue of RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS, has had a pretty rough “Night of the Owls” himself. The story flows between wrapping up some of the Owl information while giving us Freeze’s backstory in this New 52 version of Gotham. As far as storytelling goes this is fantastic. The backstory is haunting at times and really gives the reader insight into Freeze’s head, though longtime fans may be upset at one particular change that will alter Freeze’s character at its core. Despite this though, the book is a must for any BATMAN fan and will be a fun topic of conversation and debate for years to come.
One particular thing I’ve come to realize after reading the above mentioned change to Freeze’s story is that as we head towards the close of our first year in the New 52 I’m starting to see how despite its familiarity having stayed intact, The BATMAN books may actually be the most changed place in the whole DCU. The changes aren’t drastic shifts of continuity but instead more subtle changes to characters’ (specifically Batman’s rouge gallery) personalities. Id argue that there’s really no question that Batman has the best set of villains in the DCU and because of this fact his character has always been one of the best in the comic book world. It’s almost as if in this new version of Gotham, DC has “upped the crazy” to a new level. There seems to be less sympathetic villains and instead more of an all-out war of good versus evil. In a way I love this because I think we’ve reached a point in storytelling where fans are tired of every comic book villain balancing the line of antihero. We need some good old fashioned “crazy” and BATMAN is the perfect place for it. With that said I’m a fan and as a fan I always get slightly riled up when changes are made.
Despite all of this debate, I’ll be the first person to come out in defense of Scott Snyder’s work on BATMAN. I love what he’s done so far and the “Court of Owls” story has added a fantastic layer to Gotham’s already rich history. Couple this great writing with a solid artwork job by Jason Fabok, who takes the careful time to make sure every panel conveys Mr. Freeze’s cold dark personality and you’ve got a great “1st” annual for this new BATMAN series. Whatever side you fall on in regard to the changes taking place currently to BATMAN and the DCU in general, we are getting good storytelling in the BATMAN world and for that I cannot complain.
Larry Gallagher is a freelance writer from Jersey City, NJ. He can often be found across the wide expanse of the interwebs writing under his alter ego “The Writing Rambler”. He is a simple man who believes we’d all be better off if we just read more comics and shared a burrito once in a while. You can follow The Writing Rambler on his blog here and here or follow on Twitter @Writing_Rambler !
THE BOOK OF ALIENWriter: Paul Scanlon and Michael Gross
ALIENS-COLONIAL MARINES TECHNICAL MANUALWriter: Lee Brimmcombe-Wood
Publisher: Titan Books
If you are looking forward to the new movie PROMETHEUS (And, honestly, who isn’t at this point?) Titan Books has a couple of re-issued volumes that are going to make you freak out with excitement. I know that when I got these for review I was as giddy as a schoolgirl as I perused through them with the excitement that I’d only had reserved for Christmas mornings when I was a tyke. Trust me when I say that if you are an ALIEN fan in any way, shape, or form you are going to loooovvve these two books and you will need, need to add them to your nerd collection as soon as you can.
The first book that I should address would be THE BOOK OF ALIEN. This really is a terrific look back into the making of the first ALIEN film directed by Ridley Scott. It’s filled with various designs and illustrations utilized during the development of this sci-fi/horror masterpiece. It also includes many behind the scenes photos of the production as well as prose that covers some of the thought processes that went on during the filming of the movie. The book even has a couple of pages with sketches from illustration genius Mobeius as well as an expectedly larger section devoted to the designs of H.R. Giger. Not to mention it’s packed with a ton of illustrations from famed designer Ron Cobb and illustrator Chris Foss. With the re-publication of this Titan Books has done a great service for those of us that have a special place in our alien-infected bosoms for the film that started it all. This book is a must have if you’re a fan of the ALIEN franchise.
But as good as THE BOOK OF ALIEN is, what really flipped my lid, what really made me go nuts was ALIENS-COLONIAL MARINES TECHNICAL MANUAL. Apparently this book was originally published in 1995 but if I had been given this book as a teen (which is when I originally saw ALIENS) I think I would have locked myself in my room and memorized every little bit of it. Even seeing it today as an adult I am just filled with geek glee at the idea that something like this actually exists. What you have between the pages of this book are the specs for much of the technology that was used by the Marine troops in the ALIENS film. It’s all in here: the dropships, the weaponry, hell, they even have a section devoted to the synthetic humanoids! And not only do you get the tech but you actually get insight on how a Colonial Marine is expected to interact with threats in the field. This is the book that I wished I’d had when I saw all of the futuristic armament being used in the ALIEN sequel. This is an ALIENS fan’s wet dream. If you ever wondered exactly what it was that the troops in ALIENS were using to try and keep from getting wiped out by those horrifying H.R. Giger creations then this is the book for you. I was absolutely overwhelmed by all of the detail that went into this book and I can’t imagine an ALIENS fan who wouldn’t just love to have this in their library. This is the Holy Grail for fans of the James Cameron classic sequel.
My only real sense of disappointment with these two books is the fact that they weren’t given the hardcover treatment. I suppose that’s because the original editions weren’t released in hardcover format. It is an added benefit, however, that with a soft cover edition the pricing on both volumes makes them affordable to any ALIEN fans out there who will want to get their hands on them. So I suppose that the lack of a hardcover edition can be forgiven. Especially since the content itself is what fans are going to be going ga-ga over once they get their hands on these books.
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.
Advance Review: In stores this week!
EARTH TWO #2Writer: James Robinson
Pencils: Nicola Scott
Inks: Trevor Scott
Publisher: DC ComicsReviewer: Johnny Destructo
"Nope, ok I guess that really IS Jay Garrick's new costume. Eesh."
When I first saw the Ivan Reis cover for this issue, as it was released on the internet, I stifled a simultaneous chuckle/gasp. A Chasp. And then later, someone came into my shop and dropped the news that it wasn't actually Jay Garrick, so I relaxed somewhat. Sadly though, for this issue, it IS his costume and it's...not great. Though I suppose it IS bestowed upon him by an ageless golden god that is nekkid except for a winged head-dish, so I guess my man shouldn't be blamed for not knowing the first thing about fashion or superhero costume design.
Other than that, the...ahem...Apokorats and some of the overly earnest dialogue (that reminds me of Kirkman's style in Invincible), this is a pretty fun book!
We tune in 5 years after the world's only heroes either died or disappeared, and there have been some interesting changes. A Parademon internment camp? Tylerchem bought out Waynetech? The Statue of Liberty is being replaced by a statue of Wonder Woman? Oh, and there's a boxing advertisement showcasing a familiar name to JSA fans: Grant.
I had a great time picking out all the little Easter Eggs, and I'm sure there are even more that I missed!Mr. Terrific fans (who, from what I hear, weren't pleased with his solo book) will be happy to see him stranded here on our favorite parallel Earth. Now I'm not sure who Terry Sloan is, but his introduction as MT's "Moriarty" is pretty bad-ass here and I'm excited to see Mr. Terrific getting used to this new world.
The character we spend the most time with here though is the boy in the silly windshield hat. I really like the fact that this new Jay Garrick didn't fall asleep and succumb to the apparently speed-giving properties of "Hard Water Fumes", like the original did, but instead got his powers the Green Lantern route: from a weird looking, glowing dying fella. This is truly a different Jay than we are used to. The scenes wherein a youngster first discovers his new abilities has always been one of my favorites. Watching him discover what it's like to run at super-speed, figure out if he can run up walls or vibrate though them...it's always a thrill when written correctly, and I had a smile on my face as Jay went about testing the limits of his new-found quickness. I hope there's more trial and error ahead.Another fan favorite shows up here, but I don't want to ruin the surprise. It's a beautifully illustrated back-lit splash page that I spent more than a couple minutes staring at. Nicola Scott did a bang up job on the sun peaking out behind and through the character. Solid stuff.
Alan Scott is here again, but except for the cliff-hanger ending, doesn't have much to do but be in love, really. I'm not entirely sure what makes him different than Ollie Queen, or any other billionaire for that matter. His origin is reminding me of Cyborg's from Justice League. He's just....there, so far.
I do have a question though, this is an alternate earth that supposedly has the same people as our DCnU earth, right? I'm curious to see if we are going to see any other familiar names like Hal Jordan or Barry Allen, so on and so forth. Will we see alternate versions of Lex? Kyle? Cassie or Rose? I'm a sucker for slideways characters (which is a phrase that I invented just now because I couldn't think of another way to say "alternate version" or "parallel dimension"), and I'm hoping we'll be seeing more and more familiar names.
Overall, another solid issue from Robinson and Scott. If you haven't jumped on yet, it's not too late!
FAIRY TALES OF OSCAR WILDE HC GNWriter: Oscar Wilde
Illustrator: P. Craig Russell
Publisher: NBM Comics Lit
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Though I tend to lean towards mainstream comics these days, I often try to look outside of the norm to find the most interesting stuff. Take this hardcover from NBM Comics Lit; one of the more reputable comics companies out there. Having always been an admirer of the wordplay found in Oscar Wilde’s stories, I’m always eager to read and re-read just about anything the man wrote. My favorite being THE PORTRAIT OF DORIAN GREY; but pretty much all of Wilde’s works exemplify his talent to turn a phrase and make it feel like a sugar cube sliding off of a forked tongue. In my eyes, the man can simply do no wrong and when this hardcover depicting one of Wilde’s most famous tales, THE HAPPY PRINCE crossed my path, I couldn’t help but dive in immediately.
This story of a relationship between a golden statue of a prince and a little swallow is eloquent in its simplicity, but also speaks volumes about the separation between the rich and the poor. In this time of economic crisis and class conflict, this story seems more important than ever, which exemplifies how resonant Wilde’s work really is. A statue of a Happy Prince is admired by all and one would think this would be a great existence, but from his perch high above the city, the Happy Prince is witness to the struggles of man and mourns for them. One day a little swallow on his way South to Egypt for the winter, rests at the statues feet. Soon the two become friends as the Happy Prince asks the swallow to take the jewels which decorate the statue and give them to the poor of the city. I couldn’t help but think of THE GIVING TREE (one of my favorite books) while reading this one as the statue chips away parts of himself for the poor of the city until little is left. The swallow, as well, sacrifices so much in the name of friendship. Though the ending is melancholy, one can’t help but smile at the heartwarming resolution Wilde provides for these two giving souls.
Artist extraordinaire P. Craig Russell, who many know from his work on Marvel’s KILLRAVEN and later Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN, continues his illustration of Wilde’s work here with style and grace. Each panel is filled with fairy tale whimsy yet simplistically rooted in the real world. Russell’s line work is the stuff folks should study and his use of language as part of the panel makes every panel feel alive. This is simply one of the best looking books you’re going to find, period.
Sure, this book doesn’t snarl and bare adamantium claws. It doesn’t crossover with a million and one books. And it isn’t filled with ‘splosions or tied to any big budget summer film. But it does contain rock solid storytelling from one of the masters of the written word and deserves a spot on anyone who calls themselves in love with the graphic storytelling medium’s books shelf.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in October 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released in March 2012.
SUPER KNOCKED UP #1Writer: Jeff Burns
Artist: Donny Gandakusuma
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
No, this is not the unofficial sequel to KNOCKED-UP. Thank God, after Seth Rogen’s last outing with a comic property, this can only be a good thing. No, SUPER KNOCKED UP is the tale of a one night stand gone wrong. What makes it comic worthy is that the coitus occurs between a female super-villain, Darkstar and a not so bright super hero, Amazing Man.
As the name implies, Amazing did not fasten the bottom of his Kryptonite condom securely and we are left with the unholy abomination of super hero/villain baby in utero (I think the two negate each other to make the kid normal, but we’ll see).
Burns tells the story in a “How I Met Your Mother” backwards fashion. The series actually opens with Darkstar battling a cadre of bank guards with baby firmly papoosed to her belly. It’s an endearing, if confusing opening, and sadly that seems to be par for the course in this tale. Don’t get me wrong, Burns has a fun concept here. There just seem to be too many leaps of illogicalities throughout the piece that while granting a guffaw leave longtime nerds going “why the fuck are they going that?”
Case in point, when we flashback to 9 months prior when Darkstar and Amazing Man meet up, Darkstar is attempting to break fellow villains out of a super prison guarded by Amazing Man and his team. She walks right into the prison, just walks right in. This again will work for the comic neophyte, but for those of us well steeped in geekdom, it’s a move that telegraphs bad choice from the first panel. Likewise when the two hook-up after the battle, we’ve all seen hatred turn to passion before, but without enough back story it becomes a trick rather than a surprise.
Again, there are really cute one-liners in SUPER KNOCKED Up that play directly to the humor of male/female and super hero super villain issues, it just all feels rushed.
The web series produced by Burns is further along than the comic and cures some of my issues with the book. It’s also damn well produced for a web series, but again it needs a few less jokes and a little more realism to make those jokes feel real instead of schtick.
I also would caution that Darkstar doesn’t really come across as evil, just kind of bitchy. Perhaps I’m just jaded, having traversed the darkest corners of the comic universe for the past thirty years. If Darkstar were truly evil, I think she would have found a way to get punched in the stomach by one of her cohorts and saved the miscarriage in a test tube to clone an army of evil Captain Amazings.
I applaud what Burns is going for here, his love of comedy and superhero tropes come across in shining fashion. He just needs a few slight tweaks of the copy if he hopes to engage the audience that would care most about this endeavor.
Advance Review: In stores this week!
HARBINGER #1Writer: Joshua Dysart
Art: Khari Evans
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Irish Rican
The relaunch of Valiant Comics sees the company's second title released this week with HARBINGER #1. As a child of the nineties I hung on every word of the original series, following the adventures of Peter Stanchek and his group of renegades fighting against the all-powerful Toyo Harada and his powerful Harbinger Corporation. I've never made a secret that HARBINGER is my favorite comic book of all time and a relaunch has never made me more excited. Or more scared.
It's because I care about the book and the characters. The characters were as flawed as the book itself at times and that,to me, was perfect. Kids make mistakes and don't feel the regrets that gnaw at you as an adult. That core concept can be easily lost. So it was with great hope that I opened up HARBINGER #1 to see if my favorite book can still pack a punch or completely suffer from rebootsuckitis.
It's clear from the page one that Peter Stanchek is in trouble. The eighteen year old and his friend Joe are on the run and are barely staying ahead of those hunting them. The duo return home to Pittsburgh where Peter continues to rob pharmacies of their goods, helping to dull the powers that have him hearing the minds of every single person around him. His return also has ulterior motives; he hopes to rekindle a relationship with his former next door neighbor Kris.
It is obvious that her friendship with him is nothing but childhood friendship. Peter only wants his life to be perfect and forces himself into the girl's life in the worst way - with his powers. During this interaction Joe finds himself arrested and in interrogated by a man known as Tull. It is Tull and his organization that are tracking Peter and it is clear that this encounter is not the first time Tull has come close to capturing Stanchek.
The story couples together Peter's story with that of Toyo Harada, a man that can be described as Lex Luthor with Superman's powers. In the original book Harada was the antagonist from page one but here his story comes together with both his past and present. He is a powerful man, one who has been watching Peter for a long time, and he is a man who can relate to the pains of what Peter is going through with his own powers. There can be a mentorship if the two can get together but a man with great power is usually one who wants what he wants and doesn't like being told he can't have that.
HARBINGER has always been an edgy book that brought together teenage angst, bad decisions, and character development smoothly. Joshua Dysart not only does that in the first issue but brings the book together so well that it is truly the way Harbinger should have been the first time around. In one single issue Dysart weaves such an intricate web that after the first reading my mind was almost dizzy in trying to comprehend the magnitude on the page. It's not just the best thing Dysart has ever written. It's not just the next newest issue of the relaunch of a comic company. It's not just another comic book. It's all of that woven together perfectly. And more.
HARBINGER #1 is the best first issue I've ever read in my entire life. That's with nearly thirty years of comic book reading under my belt. Sharing the fact that Harbinger is my favorite book might lead a reader to think that this would lead me to a bit of bias. I realize this fact but also know that as someone who has reviewed thousands of books over my long career I know good books, bad books, boring books, and books that I will rush to the comic book store each Wednesday to read. Fact of the matter is Harbinger is one of those amazing books that I will run to get each Wednesday afternoon. HARBINGER is simply astonishing. If there's a lone complaint it is I have to wait an entire month to read issue 2.
Ryan 'Irish Rican' McLelland has worked in movies and comics journalism for the past several years before joining the @$$holes here at AICN. Ryan’s comic work has already graced comic shelves with GRUNTS: WAR STORIES, Arcana’s PHILLY, and THE SENTINELS ANTHOLOGY. He rarely updates his blog but when he does it can be read at www.eyewannabe.com. CLICK HERE to help make ThanksKilling 2 a reality!.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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