Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS: X-TREME X-MEN! TECHWATCH! THE GOON! NEW DEADWARDIANS! BIONIC MAN! & MORE!

Published at: Aug. 1, 2012, 10:06 a.m. CST by ambush bug

Issue #13 Release Date: 7/25/12 Vol.#11
The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
X-TREME X-MEN #1
THE GOON #40
AQUAMAN #11
TECHWATCH #1
NEW DEADWARDIANS #5
THE BIONIC MAN #11
Raiders of the Longbox presents Avengers vs. the Masters of Evil!


X-TREME X-MEN #1

Writer: Greg Pak
Art: Stephen Segovia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy


New New Exiles...

I’ve always had a soft spot for the early 2000s title EXILES. It was completely fan-servicy in nature(It’s a new WHAT IF? pitch every month!), but still managed to have a consistent cast and continuing plot. It gave me an outlet for my love of Blink post-“Age Of Apocalypse”, threw around a lot of fun characters, and turned Mimic into one of my all time favorite C-list superhero characters. The title eventually started to slide in quality, and finally ended up canceled and forgotten. Even an attempt to bring the title back to its old stylings failed, and was canceled within a year. I’ve never actually read the ASTONISHING title where this cast of characters was introduced. But since it was announced as a new title, I’ve actually been fairly excited. A new attempt at the premise could possibly reintegrate a series theme I quite like. Greg Pak and Stephen Segovia succeeded, managing to introduce a fun cast without ever getting bogged down, while also introducing a very engaging running threat.

Writing: (4/5) Like Blink before her, Dazzler seems to be the de facto lead character, being the one the audience is most familiar with. Dazzler’s little moment towards the top of the book is very enjoyable. It gives Allison a sense of character, beyond the tired pop star persona most writers just stop at. Instead, we see a very confident, at peace woman. It contrasts well with the very serious, very by the books direction most of the X-Men have been taken. It serves as a good introduction to the character for those unfamiliar to her, making her a credible figure on the team considering how she handles the monster while retaining her audience P.O.V. status. The rest of the team is also well written. The pacing is never shot by having the characters stop to introduce themselves and their worlds, and their personalities are established instead by their actions; Howlett is the team leader and an old fashioned hero, Emmelie is the spoiled and haughty lancer, and Kurt is the wide-eyed sidekick role. They’re very predictable roles to fill, but given the premise, it’s almost to be expected. There needs to be something familiar happening around the insanity, after all. If the characters remain static it could become stale extremely quickly, but for the time being it’s a relief.

The recurring threat itself is a fun one, with the team being tasked to eliminate a number of evil Xaviers across the multiverse. It’s a palpable concept, but like with the characters themselves, a fairly predictable one. It all depends on how it’s done, but I have the upmost faith in Pak. You don’t just help write INCREDIBLE HERCULES and not get free reign to do whatever the hell you want. He and Segovia should have a fun time with this title.

Art: (3/5) The art is consistently good throughout the issue. The broad moments are especially well done, having a good sense of when to restrain themselves and when to go all out. The characters themselves can be a little sloppy at times, sometimes not resembling themselves from the previous page. It’s aided somewhat by Jessica Kholinne on coloring duties, who gives every scene a certain palette. It goes a long way in setting the various moods, and she could easily help this series along down the line.

Best Moment: Xavier as an eldritch abomination.

Don’t you want to read this comic now?

Worst Moment: Some of the clichés present here are tired as all hell.

Overall: (4/5) A solid beginning. It all depends on where the title goes from here, and I have high hopes.


THE GOON #40

Writer: Eric Powell
Artist: Eric Powell
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewer: KletusCassidy


I was thinking of how I could describe THE GOON to someone that’s never heard of it and give them an accurate sense of the kind of comic it is and this is what I came up with. Please keep in mind that I am nursing a hangover that included everything from mimosas to High Lifes and am now eating breakfast at 4pm complete with bacon that may or may not be expired…so my description barometer may be a little wacky. Imagine yourself in a room with no windows or doors. In the room there’s a TV and DVD player with nothing but Cannon, Troma, and a few dozen scattered monster movies; two separate stereos playing at the same time, one with Motorhead in it, the other with Gwar; you’ve got a bottle of whiskey, a bottle of Tennessee moonshine, a couple blunts, some speed and a bottle of valium (I don’t condone drinking and taking pills but I’m trying to illustrate a point, dammit!) and for 72 hours, provided you acted somewhat responsibly and didn’t kill yourself, that’s all you did…imagine the crazy dreams you’d have, then throw in a badass dude with an ascot, a twisted best friend and that’s THE GOON to me. Now I understand some folks may say “That is not something I want to experience…” but for those folks whose ears rose up like a dog when addressed and simply said “Duuuude,” please continue reading.

This issue is about Prohibition or, as it’s described in the book, ‘The End of Sexy Times’. It deals with The Goon’s involvement in bootlegging, a wild family of rival bootleggers, drag racing and a Skunk Ape that…well, I don’t want to tell you too much but there’s also a narrator that is very Hank Williams Jr.-esque who says things like “Yep, those were the good ol’ days. Before you had all your newfangled brainphones and ibots…” The great thing about this issue, and this comic in general, is that it is completely unpredictable…Dionne Warwick couldn’t tell you how things will play out in this book, not even when she was in her psychic prime. This comic is also funny as hell; I don’t think there’s ever been another comic that consistently makes me laugh out loud as much as this one (which annoyed the shit out of Lady Kletus, who was trying to enjoy her TRUE BLOOD marathon) and this issue in particular has to be one of the funniest yet. The humor is definitely somewhat dark and something that may make your granny say “Well, I never!” but for us younger bucks it’s dead on and quite hilarious; for example, when The Goon is describing a woman’s bosom he says, “Don’t worry, I’ve seen ‘em. Them things is pointin’ north by southeast, if you know what I mean.” This issue is a great ride (pun intended) and really showcases the best of what this comic has to offer, which is wild as hell stories with a healthy dose of humor.

The art is very expressive; the characters all look kind of weird but in a good way and seem to be designed perfectly in order to get across the archetype of that particular person. What I mean is that these characters in this comic seem familiar because you’ve seen these types of people before, and Eric Powell renders them perfectly to give you that sense of familiarity as well as twisting them into strange beings that fit perfectly into this comic. The art in this issue is great, and damn near every panel would make a great poster. The coloring, a lot of times done by the awesome Dave Stewart (not in this issue though), looks very much like it’s been expertly painted and looks great every issue; I can’t think of another comic where the coloring jumps off of the pages the way it does in this book. I could go on for days about how good the art is.

I feel like I’m not even scratching the surface of how awesome this book is. When I was deciding what comics to cut out of my pull list, this book was never even considered. This is one of the most unique and fun books on the stands and has never disappointed me since I started reading it. If you like wild ass unpredictable stories that will make you laugh, even sometimes when you think you shouldn’t…this book is definitely for you. The art is always good and Eric Powell is one of the best artists out there with facial expressions (look at the goat on page 3!). I mean, this issue references Sir Mix-A-Lot, Dukes of Hazzard, snake healers AND it has the Skunk Ape…how could you not love it!


AQUAMAN #11

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


After we all bashed another issue of Johns’ JUSTICE LEAGUE, I thought it was only fair to check in with his AQUAMAN. This issue brings us to chapter five of “The Others”, who are a team of ‘heroes’ Aquaman was involved with before the Justice League formed. This issue introduces us to the final member, Vostok, though we still know relatively little about the group. We know they came together (no idea why), acquired six magical artifacts from Atlantis (no idea why), and have a beef with Black Manta (no idea why). Johns is often the king of not telling the readers anything. Thankfully, he is telling us something about these characters in each issue as well as moving the plot forward.

You can really see Geoff Johns’ movie writing background (working for Richard Donner) in these current comic books, as they all feel like blockbuster movies: high concept epic tales moving at breakneck speeds with lots of vista shots. This issue gets to the part of the movie where we find out what the villain is after: Black Manta wants an Atlantean artifact that the Others missed six years back. Meanwhile Aquaman bumps heads with his former allies, because he wants to take Black Manta down alone. Makes one wonder why the Others put up with Aquaman (maybe one day Johns will tells us).

Despite its flaws, the story still works, because Aquaman and Black Manta are engaging characters under Johns’ pen (or computer) - unlike his handling of Wonder Woman, Cyborg or the other members of the Justice League. Being the New 52 it’s cool that Johns is actually exploring its history here as well. With what is Atlantis now, how does it affect Aquaman’s life, and what are these artifacts?(Sidebar – Johns calls them relics, but as everyone knows relics are body parts of dead people, and these objects are clearly not body parts).

So there are many reasons to read and enjoy this title beyond the talented names on the cover.

Speaking of talent, how about Ivan Reis? Again he has turned in a stellar issue. His Atlantean Tomb is something straight out of a Final Fantasy game--just awesome looking. Mera’s fight with Black Manta is equally cool. This issue does have three splash pages and a two page splash as well. I feel Julius Schwartz and Stan Lee would have killed Johns if he did something like that while working under them, because that can often hamper a story by slowing it down, devoting too much space to something not that important or even wasting space by showing us something we’ve already seen. On the other hand, if you have an amazing artist like Ivan Reis working the pages, it’s pretty forgivable.

So while not flawless, “The Others” story arc continues to impress.


TECHWATCH #1

Writer: Radi Lewis
Illustrator: Ernesto Vicente
Publisher: Chameleon Creations
Reviewer: superhero


Imagine a world where instead of just being able to steal data from a person’s hard drive you could just steal information directly from their brain. Now imagine that this technology was being used by a corporate scumbag who was using said technology to slip into the skulls of the world’s greatest minds and make their brilliance his own. This is the scenario that TECHWATCH offers up, and it does it in a pretty intriguing way.

TECHWATCH opens up the first issue with a confrontation between the aforementioned scumbag and his latest target. At first appearance it seems that the prey is going to be able to turn the tables on his predator with a well placed technological gambit. Unfortunately, the scientist whose brain is about to be sucked out of his skull finds himself outmatched due to the ruthlessness of his attacker and pays for his underestimation with his life…but not without causing the “brain pirate’s” operation some major damage.

Skip ahead several months and we find that something has gone seriously wrong with one of the big bad’s technological strongholds. All of the staff has been eliminated and operations have gone silent. The arch villain takes his troops to the remote location to discover what’s happened and, well, I don’t want to ruin it for you.

The truth is that I can’t really ruin anything because, well, this is a first issue without a real resolution. As much as I liked the story and the art, the whole thing leads up to a climax that doesn’t really occur. The only reason I know what’s going to happen, the only reason I really like the idea behind TECHWATCH, is because the creators kind of spoiled it for me. Without the major information that was dropped on me at their booth at Comic-Con I feel that I might have been seriously left hanging at the end of this first issue. There’s a big part of me that feels that maybe that the first part of the book could have been broken down a bit better so as to pick up the pace so that the storytellers would have had time to live up to the promise of their big idea.

This isn’t to say that I didn’t like TECHWATCH. I liked it very much. I think it’s a very professionally done book. The writing is good, the art is solid, and the idea behind it all is very strong indeed. This first issue is mostly setup, but the cliffhanger has enough tension that I hope it will pave the way for a hopefully powerful opening to the next issue. So while I think that this first issue left me with a case of comic book blue balls I will say that this debut left me intrigued enough to want to read the next chapter whenever I get a chance.

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.


THE NEW DEADWARDIANS #5

Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: I.N.J. Culbard
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


I normally don’t tease you, my dear readers, heralding the virtues of a miniseries that is smack dab in the middle of its run. But even though DEADWARDIANS is reaching the climax of its 8 issue run gently touching the summit of Freytag’s pyramid in this issue, my comic conscience can’t let another week pass without professing my undying love for this undead look at early 20th century England.

The hook for DEADWARDIANS is imaginative and fun, but it’s the human moments—or, to speak more clearly, the loss of humanity--that makes this series worth reading. For the uninitiated, DEADWARDIANS presents a parallel universe where a zombie plague struck the world in the middle of the 19th century. A great war ensued to try and contain the spread with the end result being the almost complete loss of the human race. Flash forward thirty or forty years and the world is left with three distinct populations: zombies are the predominant species, mindlessly seeking to feed on the living; vampires are the protected few that hold no interest for the zombies (since they too are undead), and finally the last whispers of true humanity, or, as the vampires brilliantly call them, “The Bright.” It’s through these three classes that Abnett draws a clear indictment of past and current class struggles by literally cordoning off London into distinct zones where each class may (or may not) traverse.

To become a vampire is to be connected; it is for the elite few who are deemed worthy and can afford what is laughingly called the “cure” for the zombie plague. But it’s like curing cancer in your pinky by cutting off your arm. Yes, while becoming a vampire makes you invisible to the zombies’ appetites, there is a hefty price to pay in imbibing this cure. As we learn through the travels of vampire and Scotland Yard Inspector George Suttle, to be a vampire may offer an eternal existence, but one certainly cannot call it eternal life.

This is NOT AMERICAN VAMPIRE with tea and crumpets, or THE WALKING DEAD sans rednecks. Yes, the serfdom in NEW DEADWARDIANS are zombies and the aristocracy are vampires, but Abnett has woven in something long missing from both these mythos – suffering.

I love AMERICAN VAMPIRE, but like “Twilight” and “True Blood”, or hell any vampire story since “Interview with a Vampire”, it portrays being a vampire as a pretty cool prospect. You get immortality at the price of simply craving blood. Everything else is still the same. Hell, in AMERICAN VAMPIRE the one traditional vampire Achilles’ heel of sunlight is even replaced with an allergic reaction to gold. I don’t know about you, but if you told me I could live forever, possess super human abilities, but simply couldn’t wear jewelry, I would rip my shirt in half to offer a clear shot at my jugular. In welcome contrast, DEADWARDIANS makes it eminently clear that once you become a vampire you are a husk of humanity. Yes, you can still walk, talk and, if you choose, partake in the base and carnal pleasures of humanity, but you won’t enjoy them. You won’t not enjoy them either. In the DEADWARDIANS world, the only time a vampire feels anything is for the brief moments they are killing their prey, and even that is a fleeting excitement never akin to the true feeling of being alive. This gives consequence to becoming a vampire versus the prevailing trend in other fiction of it feeling like you won the lottery.

Over the past five issues, it is not the irony of Suttle being a homicide investigator in a world where few people die that has kept me coming back for more. While I had a brief giggle and titter at the fact George is investigating the murder of vampire who was not killed (again) by conventional means, it’s the people he met during this investigation that have been the most engaging elements of the title.

DEADWARDIANS is not an action packed book like AMERICAN VAMPIRE. Just like our British, DEADWARDIANS is a quiet and reserved reflection of life and undeath. It’s a talky book that truly tries to examine how these three classes would live together within the context of a controlled society.

Humans (or The Brights) believe that being a vampire is the pinnacle of existence in this new world. As Suttle tries to point out, though, when you have no more desire in life immortality is a sentence versus a gift. This point is clearly driven home in this issue when Suttle visits the estate of the murder victim and his widow (also a vampire) has drawn on streaming tears with makeup to indicate she’s in mourning. DEADWARDIANS is filled with tons of these little undead practicalities of existence and heady conversations on the nature of life through the eyes of the living dead.

While I await the mystery of the dead undead to be solved in the next three issues, I don’t expect the destination to be as thrilling as the journey. I have no doubt that Suttle will solve the mystery of the dead vampire, but as I’ve watched each suspect get unearthed in this tale, I truly found myself pining for Suttle to have a normal conversation with another housemaid or some other Bright on why being a vampire literally and figuratively sucks.

Culbard is the perfect artist for this book; it takes a true master to make a book primarily comprised of conversations visually interesting. The trick, in my opinion, is never lingering too long on one point of view, and Culbard uses them all as Suttle’s journey takes him across London and its outlying estates. Also, the attention to detail in DEADWARDIANS is spot-on. This may be an alternate reality, but it’s infused with enough historical accuracy on the style and décor of the time to make one think they are watching the world’s best episode of Masterpiece Theater.

Again, if you want a different take on the undead, DEADWARDIANS is like no other book on the shelves. I reiterate, it’s talky in nature, but I firmly believe the insight into the true nature of life relayed with this juxtaposed focus couldn’t have been done with anything less.

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.


THE BIONIC MAN #11

Writer: Phil Hester
Artist: Ed Tadeo
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man


Well, Kevin Smith has moved on to greener pastures and Phil Hester has stepped in as the new writer (though he was helping Kevin break his script down into comic book form). Now when I was a kid, “The Six Million Dollar Man” was the coolest thing on TV. So while the comic has yet to live up to the show’s excitement, I’m willing to hang around a while more.

This issue is a time-out issue and it’s the time-out of time-out issues! Hester has put together a standalone issue where Steve Austin goes back home to the family ranch to kinda reconnect with his roots. His father is apparently dying of cancer, his mother is trying to make do with it all and his sister Karen comes to visit as they all thought Steve was dead from his crash. Well as you can imagine, family drama ensues. Now, this would be OK if we knew these characters. But trying to get deep and personal with characters you are just meeting for the first time, that doesn’t work very often. And it does work here, especially since it seems we won’t be seeing any of them again anytime soon. It makes you wonder why they spent a whole issue devoted this uninteresting and aimless scenario.

Hester also teases that the Bionic Man’s most popular adversary, Big Foot, will be appearing soon--if not next issue! You see, Big Foot was a big (sorry) fad in the 70’s. He appeared in many TV shows at the time (Isis was probably the worst). Everyone had a different take on the man-monster, and he was probably most successful as a character in “The Six Million Dollar Man” (until “Harry and the Hendersons” came along, I’m sure). So I confess I’m curious to see how Hester pulls him off.

THE BIONIC MAN also gets a new artist with this issue--Ed Tadeo. I believe this may be his first penciling gig, as I’ve seen him listed as a colorist and inker before. Unfortunately, he may not be ready for his own book. His figure work is quite clunky: limbs are often too short and stocky, faces flatten out in the ¾ shots, and for as much work as he’s clearly putting into these pages, they just aren’t convincing enough. His horses aren’t much better. Given time I feel he can get it right, as he does have nice faces, basic storytelling skill and he shows a real effort to build his environments, but for now he’s just not there.

Here’s hoping things improve when Big Foot shows up, as this story scores a 1 out of 4.


Every comic shop has them…battered long boxes jam-packed with dog-eared titles ranging from forgotten heroes of the 1970s to multiple copies of chromium-covered “collector’s item” comics from the Big Bust of the 1990s. But if you are patient, and dig deep enough, you just may find something special…

AVENGERS VOL. 1 #273-277. 1986-1987

Writer: Roger Stern
Breakdowns: John Buscema
Finishes: Tom Palmer
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer:
BottleImp

To this somewhat jaded and cynical comic book reader, sometimes it seems as if comics can’t tell a decent superhero story anymore without it turning into a full-blown “event.” Both of the Big Two are guilty to some degree, but Marvel is slightly in the lead with their inability to let a year go by without having some sort of pointless crossover-type, overhyped and underwritten plot that ultimately falls flat with the readers—see this year’s “Avengers Vs. X-Men” for an example. Every time I see this sort of comic on the stands, it makes me yearn for the time when a superhero series was able to give the reader an epic adventure story within the confines of its own monthly publication. The crowning example of what I’m talking about has to be, for me and I’m sure many other comic fans born in the late ‘70s, the defeat of the Avengers by Baron Zemo and his Masters of Evil, from AVENGERS #273-277. This one had action, suspense, drama-—all the Mighty Marvel stuff that made their comics so unique for their time. Having traded away my Marvels back in the early ‘90s (a decision I still regret), I was pleasantly surprised to see this run of issues cheaply available in the bargain box at my local comic shop, where I was able to buy back a little piece of my childhood for the princely sum of five bucks. Let’s dive in, shall we?

A regular reader of the AVENGERS title would have seen the various villain cameos and foreshadowing several issues leading up to the actual reveal of Zemo’s plans, but the real meat of the story begins with issue #273. As the Avengers members are occupied with various individual activities-—Captain Marvel (the female African-American character with light-based powers) is honing her abilities out in space, the Black Knight and the Wasp are attending a charity fundraiser, and Hercules is simply out drinking—-Baron Zemo and his Masters of Evil initiate their plan. The strategy is a fairly simple one: divide and conquer. Due to Zemo’s machinations, the only person left at the Avengers Mansion when the Masters of Evil attack is the team’s butler, Jarvis. The next issue begins with the Black Knight returning to the Mansion and being captured by Zemo’s men. A phony distress signal brings Captain Marvel to the team’s headquarters, where the villain Blackout uses his power to exile her to a dark matter dimension. The remaining heroes attempt to retake the Mansion, but Hercules (groggy from the drugged beer he’d been imbibing, courtesy of one of Zemo’s confederates) is overwhelmed and beaten nearly to death by Zemo’s heavy hitters. Captain America is felled by the Mansion’s own defensive systems, leaving the Wasp alone to try to rescue her teammates.

Issues #275-276 split the action between the Avengers captured inside the Mansion and the slowly gathering group of heroes that ultimately fight to retake the Avengers headquarters from the Masters of Evil. The Wasp eventually finds allies in Ant-Man (Scott Lang, not the original Hank Pym), Thor and Doctor Druid. While these heroes attempt to break through the impenetrable force field of dark energy surrounding the Mansion (courtesy once again of Blackout, who winds up being a major linchpin in this story arc), the Masters of Evil live up to their name. While most of the villains loot the headquarters, Jarvis is beaten nearly to death by the brutish Mr. Hyde, and Baron Zemo attempts to break Captain America’s spirit. All these characters finally clash in the climax of the storyline in issue #277 (with the appropriate cover blurb “In Final Battle…”).

Now, I’m going to be honest here—-a good deal of nostalgia comes into play while I’m writing this review. This story is inextricably tied in with my memories of buying the comics off the rack of the local variety store; this series of issues is a part of the beginning of my love of comic books. So no matter the faults (and there are a few), to me, this run of AVENGERS comics will always be one of the best things ever to grace the medium. But looking at it from a distance, with that jaded and cynical eye, there are some aspects that have not aged as well as others. For one thing, there’s the soap-opera aspect of the story.

Melodrama was a key factor in what set Marvel apart from DC—-the characters’ personal lives were just as fraught with drama as their costumed identities were. So what was par for the course in the mid-‘80s—-the Black Knight moons over the Wasp and worries that she’s not interested in him, leading to failed attempts at alpha-male posturing; Hercules chafes at being ordered around by a female and resents the Wasp’s role as Avengers Chairman—-might seem a little corny for the modern reader. Today’s comic book readers (depending on how young they are) might also be taken aback by the sheer amount of thought balloons present in these pages—all-but absent in modern publications, but an integral past of the medium for decades prior. And artistically, there isn’t a lot of flash going on with the visuals. The page layouts are simple and somewhat utilitarian; Buscema seldom varies from using a simple three row, six-panel page design. But therein lies the beauty of these comics—-and the reason why they are so effective when read today.

By utilizing these elements to their full advantage, Stern, Buscema and Palmer were able to fit an incredible amount of information into each 22-page issue. Yes, the notion of using thought balloons is deemed archaic by most modern comic book writers. And yes, artists these days are generally more creative with panel layouts and dynamic page composition. But I can’t remember the last time I bought a new superhero comic and took longer than two minutes to read it. These ‘80s AVENGERS comic books are DENSE with story—-I had to go back and count the pages of #277, just to make sure that there actually just 22 pages, ‘cause it sure felt like it was a lot longer. These days, the kind of action and storytelling that they compressed into that single issue would have been spread out over a span of two, maybe three issues-—and the overall impact of the story would be diluted.

This is the major difference I see in the comic book landscape of today versus that of yesteryear: back then, the focus of the comic book makers was do deliver a great story, which would generate interest in the comic, which would generate profits. These days it seems like the focus has shifted to generating interest—-or, more accurately, hype-—to generate profits, while the attention to the actual story at hand seems almost secondary. Everything has been an “event,” with special mini-series, tie-in issues and crossovers that don’t really have any lasting impact on the reader, since everything changes with the next big “event” to come down the revenue-generating pipe.

Sometimes I miss the days when comic books just had great stories because that’s what comic books were supposed to have. Luckily, there are always great stories buried in the long boxes, as long as you’re prepared to dig long enough before striking a little nugget of gold like this excellent, epic AVENGERS run.

When released from his bottle, the Imp transforms into Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from New England. He's currently hard at work interpreting fellow @$$Hole Optimous Douche's brainwaves and transforming them into pretty pictures on AVERAGE JOE, an original graphic novel to be published by Com.x. You can see some of his artwork here.


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Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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Readers Talkback

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  • Aug. 1, 2012, 10:09 a.m. CST

    Glad you reviewed The Goon. Funniest issue in years

    by rev_skarekroe

    I was sold as soon as the Hank Williams Jr./Charlie Daniels right-wing country parody guy appeared. Good stuff.

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 10:10 a.m. CST

    BottleImp, your piece on Stern's Avengers just made my day.

    by Harlock999

    You and I appear to be on the exact same page when it comes to todays' comics climate. Nice to find I'm not all alone out here in the wilderness.

  • Nostalgia plays a HUGE part in looking back on old comics. I'm older and view the mid/late 70s comics this way. I loved that a story could be told in 1, 2 or 3 issues. I really think today's required 6-issue arc needs to be broken up every now and then. And before anyone complains, I'm not saying all comics were better in the old days, just different. (You'll say the same thing years from now, trust me.) I HATED when Marvel started running story lines over various Summer annuals. (A pre-cursor to today's 'Event' stories.) Also, if you think 80s comics take long to read, check out the ones from the 60s. Thought balloons and captions galore!

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 10:51 a.m. CST

    BottleImp: you are so right about diluted stories

    by GiggityGoo

    I just spent a couple of days re-reading the storyline that got me back into comics in 1987: Captain America #332 through 350, where Cap is stripped of his superhero identity and the Super-Patriot takes over. (It's been collected in a handy trade called "The Captain"... go pick it up!) As I was reading it, it struck me how much STORY was in each issue/chapter. And you mention how no one uses thought balloons anymore... the same thing hit me as I read page after page of Cap and the other characters running through their doubts and ideas and realizations, all internally. And after finishing the storyline, it hit me how decompressed today's comic storytelling is. Something that the masters used to get across in 22 pages now takes 5 separate issues in order to reach that magic number of pages for the inevitable trade paperback. I suppose there's a level of melancholy nostalgia in all this, but... I'd love for a single-issue complete story again.

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 11:04 a.m. CST

    I want Ivan Reis to illustrate almost everything

    by Laserhead

    A real bad decision on 'Aquaman' was when they had the Mera solo issue, and it was illustrated by a guest artist. Dummies--

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 11:05 a.m. CST

    Just what was so 'disturbing' about Batman Inc #3

    by Laserhead

    A brief panel of kids being taught to use guns? I don't get how anything in the issue resonated with Aurora. Speaking of, saw DKR again, in hopes that my first impressions were flawed by uninvited expectations. Nope. Much worse the second time.

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 11:13 a.m. CST

    DOOM Hails The Imp!

    by V. von Doom

    That was one of the best AVENGERS storylines ever, and even the follow-up was fun (tossing down with the Greek gods when they thought it was the Avengers' fault for Herc's injuries). Keep digging in that long box and pulling the gems out to educate the young whippersnappers.

  • It didn't stick. I blame Frank Miller and Alan Moore.

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 11:16 a.m. CST

    laserhead, DOOM Loved Mera's Solo Issue!

    by V. von Doom

    The guest artist was just fine. As long as the guest artists are similar to the main artists, no big thing. Remember during Morrison's X-MEN run when the artist flipped from Frank Quitely to ... DOOM doesn't remember any more, but it must have been a grade-schooler.

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 11:17 a.m. CST

    Despite its name

    by Joenathan

    I'm going to have to pick up X-treme X-men. It sounds interesting, plus I always loved the idea of the Exiles, but was never a fan of the execution, so fingers crossed this time. Did any of you read the first Massive. I missed the first issue. I bought 2 and I have 1 on re-order, so I hope it turns out good. Speaking of Brian Wood, did you see that he is going to be writing a Star Wars comic that starts off right after New Hope and goes where ever it wants to from there?

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 11:19 a.m. CST

    Laserhead

    by Joenathan

    You went twice?

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 11:21 a.m. CST

    Oops

    by Joenathan

    posted too soon. As I was going to say... I don't think the Batman Inc "resonated" with Aurora, they just didn't want any particular panels plastered all over the news out of context. The movie has already taken a huge financial hit, they didn't want that to bleed over into comics too

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 12:43 p.m. CST

    Exiles, AvsX, Avengers and Batman

    by Homer Sexual

    I loved the old Exiles. I think Chuck Austen actually did some good stories there, the only time he ever did... I believe he wrote the "King Hyperion" storyline which was outstanding. It also brought us Mike McKone. It was ruined by Tony Bedard. I didn't like his writing at all and that started the downslide. The Masters of Evil story is also in a trade, yes it is awesome, and those are the characters who became the Thunderbolts. Check out Moonstone, for example... her whole persona is laid out in this storyline. Avengers was awesome from the late seventies till the late eighties, around 88 or 89 it started to suck... Batman "took a financial hit"? Come on you know that isn't true. Very few people have stayed home due to the shooting. Many people have stayed home due to the terrible word of mouth. I haven't seen it because pretty much everyone I talk to, and most of what I read, says it is boring and underwhelming. Finally, I must complain about the unbelievable terribleness of the AvsX thing. I don't read the main book, but last week's X-books were so terrible. Are the Phoenix 5 all-powerful or not? Because they are taken down awfully easily in both books. And they act more out of character than I've seen in Marvel since Civil War. Terrible looking, heavy handed, nonsensical. It is so bad I think I am skipping any more AvsX tie ins even though it will mean skipping books I normally buy every month.

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 1:01 p.m. CST

    True

    by Joenathan

    I think there's a whole ball of issues why it has under-performed (and by that, I mean: expectations, I realize it's still made millions) and bad word of mouth is definitely one of them as well. I only mention it, because I think they just pulled that latest issue of Batman, Inc., because it would have been too easy to run a "news" story about Batman inspiring the shooting and including a 4 second out-of-context blurb saying something like: "as in this most recent issue where we see an army of children with guns" or something as equally nonsense, so they just pulled back a little to avoid that happening. I think it was smart to do. Also, I didn't go opning weekend, because of the shooting, not because I was worried it would happen again or anything, but because it was on my mind and I didn't want to associate the two together. It was too sad. So I didn't go. Of course, I still haven't gone because the movie sounds terrible and I'm not that interested, but whatever... As for AvsX, I just don't get the X-men at all in this. I mean, I still don't understand what Scott was thinking in the first place or why, but whatever, it happened because if it didn't, the story doesn't start. But once I accept that, the thing that bothers me is: Let's say the Phoenix is now controlling the Phoenix Five. It's not their wills we're seeing, it's the Phoenix's, right? Sure. Fine. I'll accept that. It seems reasonable that a cosmic entity could subvert their wills for its own purposes... but what's the rest of the X-men's excuse? Why are they acting like the gestapo?

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 1:14 p.m. CST

    Mera story in Aquaman....

    by Tom

    The penciler on that issue was Joe Prado, Ivan's inker. So while yes, he's not as structurally strong as Ivan, I thought he did a good job :)

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 1:31 p.m. CST

    Nude Edwardians

    by Squashua

    New Directions

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 1:51 p.m. CST

    X-TREME X-MEN = XTREMELY CONTRIVED

    by optimous_douche

    I hate to disagree with my man HHH, but this is as far a cry from EXILES as one can get. Yes, they jump realities, but there is nowhere near the personality, heart and danger presented in EXILES. EXILES was bleed off of AoA, we got to know the characters really really well before they were given their own series. Dazzler worked in the disco age, she simply doesn't have a place in the x-verse anymore. They try to make her a street musician that looks like Jewl, but Jewl and other folksy 90s folks would not "dazzle" the stage. The entire concept is more contrived than the beginning quests in World of Warcraft. Jump to dimension X and complete task, now jump to Y. There's no real mystery to this book, which was what made the dimension hopping in EXILES more than a gimmick.

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 2:57 p.m. CST

    One of the best Avengers stories ever told

    by gooseud

    You really cant exaggerate how hardcore that story was for its time. Cap tied to a chair with Jarvis literally having his limbs smashed one by one by Mr Hyde with his bare hands, screaming in agony as Cap looks on. They werent even asking Jarvis any questions, just torturing him because they felt like it. Them going through Cap's old irreplaceable keepsakes and items, destroying them right in front of him. This was really the storyline that, for me, showed why Cap is Cap, the biggest badass in the MArvel U. No big speeches, no promises of retribution, just Cap staring a hole through each of them as they torture him, refusing to break. And then, of course, he breaks free and proceeds to whip unholy amounts of ass. The stakes seemed unbelievably high to Young Goose.......and actually, they WERE high, several people didnt make it out of the storyline unscathed. Also, I was never a Wasp fan, but clearly her finest hour.

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 3:14 p.m. CST

    Morrison's X-MEN

    by Paul

    The artist who took over for Quitely was Silvestri who was a million times better, Morrison's stuff actually became somewhat readable after Silvestri took over. (in my opinion).

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 4:13 p.m. CST

    Joenathan

    by Laserhead

    I didn't want the terrorists to win.

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 4:16 p.m. CST

    That's how good Ivan Reis is--

    by Laserhead

    A guy in his style just isn't him, not nearly-- And this is juvenile, but so what: I think that when you have an issue centering around a redhead in skin-tight green, that's really the issue you do not want Reis sitting out.

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 4:17 p.m. CST

    No-- the guy who took over from Quietly in X-Men

    by Laserhead

    Was Igor Kordy. That's who everybody's talking about when they say, 'One minute I was reading the greatest X-Men ever; the next the art became something you find wadded up on a public restroom floor.'

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 4:25 p.m. CST

    Classic Avengers!

    by faelon

    Thank you BottleImp you made my day bringing this classic Avengers story to mind. One of the things that really helps is how much this story arc still resonates in the more modern era. The story stands alongside the classic Kree Skrull War and the FF's Galactus intro as something that not only stuck with the readers, but literally grew the Marvel Universe for decades to come. For those that forget. THIS, these 5 issues are not just one of the truly great Avengers stories, they are also the foundation and frequently referenced backstory for one of Marvels more successful modern titles. Thunderbolts.

  • So he had to scribble the thing out in record time. And while your Jack Kirbys of the world could handle that kind of pressure, Kordi most certainly could not.

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 4:46 p.m. CST

    Everybody Shhh!!

    by GrabtharsHammerPants

    ..I'm re-reading the story where the Masters of Evil invade the Avenger's Mansion....and it's fucking awesome.

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 5:06 p.m. CST

    The Goon and IDW'S TMNT Line are the only comics I'm buying

    by Jobacca

    And I used to spend $100 or more a month on DC and Marvel....now I can honestly say I havent bought a book from either in years. Might pick up that new Star Wars book in Jan. that's going to feature Pre-Empire versions of Luke,Han,Leia and the gang.

  • Aug. 1, 2012, 8:34 p.m. CST

    Classic Avengers....

    by BangoSkank

    I need to pick up that trade pronto. I started comics with Captain Carrot, moved on to The New Defenders, then started reading the Avengers in the aftermath of the Masters of Evil attack... 282 maybe? I know they were in Asgard at the time. That was the beginning of my comics addiction... Good memories and great comics.

  • And I guarantee he's never read it, either

  • Aug. 2, 2012, 3:19 p.m. CST

    BottleImp Scores!

    by Grinning White Skull

    This is the major difference I see in the comic book landscape of today versus that of yesteryear: back then, the focus of the comic book makers was do deliver a great story, which would generate interest in the comic, which would generate profits. These days it seems like the focus has shifted to generating interest—-or, more accurately, hype-—to generate profits, while the attention to the actual story at hand seems almost secondary. Everything has been an “event,” with special mini-series, tie-in issues and crossovers that don’t really have any lasting impact on the reader, since everything changes with the next big “event” to come down the revenue-generating pipe.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 12:18 a.m. CST

    Good Lord

    by Joenathan

    You know what would be cool? A review of a kick ass old run of a good comic MINUS the "get off my lawn" old man-isms. Jesus Christ, see this is what people talk about... some of you aren't fans of comics, you're more pissed that things have changed. Get over it. And you can't get a new hobby. Seriously. Ask yourself. Seriously ask yourself. Take a personal inventory and ask yourself: "Do I even like comics anymore?" I guarantee for at least half of you, the honest answer is no. And I'm telling you, if this is how it works out for you, you will be so much happier if you just walk away and find a new hobby. Imagine... a world of your own where you aren't constantly angry at Bendis or Millar or Quesada or Didio or whatever the fuck his name is. Just imagine it. Set yourself free, little doves, spread your sour-ass wings and fly...

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1 a.m. CST

    Opinion vs. ranting

    by Jeff Van Duyne

    Sorry Joe, BottleImp is entitled to his opinion, especially with a run that he's nostalgic about. And with nostalgia, comes history, and with history comes the inevitable comparison to modern pop culture. In fact, I don't see him naming names, just a comparative critique of current vs. older styles. I find it funny that you ask for serious introspection about tastes in comics. I think BottleImp did a good job with that, i.e. the older melodrama corning up some otherwise excellent stories vs. today's more spectacle and action-oriented fare of today. The only ranting I see here is your own comment. Oh... right... internet.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:41 a.m. CST

    Of course you see that

    by Joenathan

    You're one of them.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 1:48 a.m. CST

    RE: Avengers vs Masters of Evil

    by Baragon

    I agree with you about Cap in this story. The villains do everything they can to make him snap but he just keeps his composure. Even when Zemo has Mr. Hyde crush his original shield Cap's response is: "You'll pay for that." That leads to Zemo turning Hyde loose on Jarvis. The most humanizing Cap moment is at the end of the story when he's going through all the momentos that have been destroyed and finds his mothers picture has been torn in half. He states that the picture is only one he has because his mother hated having her picture taken. The last panel is Cap crying.

  • Aug. 3, 2012, 9:20 a.m. CST

    Roger Stern

    by Hedgehog000

    Glad to see him getting some cred. His arc on ASM is now out in Essentials and it was perhaps my favorite. I thought he really did a great job evolving beyond Green Goblin with the Hobgoblin (or course later writers totally wrecked it). How come he's not writing? Is he still around?

  • but I've heard so much about it that I definitely want to read it. We did a show about AVENGERS FOREVER and holy jeez, even though I loved it when it first came out, that book is a CHORE to get through, despite the amazing art.