AICN COMICS REVIEWS: BEFORE WATCHMEN – RORSCHACH! GODZILLA! RED SONJA! ARCHER & ARMSTRONG! GAMBIT! & MORE!!!
|Issue #15||Release Date: 8/8/12||Vol.#11|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: BEFORE WATCHMEN: RORSCHACH #1
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #1
GUERILLAS VOL. 2
GODZILLA: THE HALF-CENTURY WAR #1
THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF MISS TILNEY Vol.1
DEADHORSE: VACANCIES #4
RED SONJA: ATLANTIS RISES #1
A TREASURY OF XXth CENTURY MURDER – LOVER’S LANE: THE HALL-MILLS MYSTERY HC GN
Advance Review: In stores today!
BEFORE WATCHMEN: RORSCHACH #1Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Lee Bermejo
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
I was very worried about the BEFORE WATCHMEN treatment of Rorschach. If we take the past lessons of this series to heart, people become Crimebusters primarily because of mommy and daddy issues. Outside of Comedian, there actually hasn’t been one member of the Silver Age Ceimwbusters that wasn’t a test case for Freud’s theories. And it’s been entertaining; we’ve received deeper insight into the insecurities and motivations of characters like Nite Owl and Ozymandias because of this inch wide mile deep dive into their childhoods.
Here’s the thing, though: Rorschach’s brain damage because of his mommy issues and revolving door of paying uncles was well documented in the original WATCHMEN. So yes, I seriously worried that RORSCHACH would follow suit with the other titles traversing already well-trodden ground.
My other concern for RORSCHACH was the fact we’ve received a “just the tip” prequel treatment already in NITE OWL. Honestly, I was unimpressed with Dan’s “Oh so Tim Drake” discovery of the original Nite Owl’s secret identity, and I was ready to abandon the book until Rorschach showed up in the later half. WATCHMEN has always been a pastiche of our favorite heroes, and to truly embody the storied history of the Batman mythos you need Nite Owl’s technology and camp to represent the Silver Age combined with Rorschach’s thumb-breaking and graveled voice to embody the Modern Age. Thankfully, DC agrees with me because what we receive in this prequel is a much darker time BEFORE WATCHMEN than any of the other books to date (including COMEDIAN).
Rorschach’s early years are explored in this issue, but it’s not spoon fed to us like in the other titles. Basically, Azzarello remembered that most of the people reading BEFORE WATCHMEN are fans of the source material and as I said earlier, Rorschach and Miss Jupiter’s pasts are fairly well covered there. So instead of starting in the 50’s or 60’s, we start with a full grown Rorschach pounding the streets in Times Square circa 1977. For those not from the tri-state area, Times Square was a very different place than the Disneyfied electric extravaganza you see today. Back then this area was like the underbelly of Vegas, a modern day Sodom where sodomy was one of the tamer activities one could partake in. The book accurately reflects this debauchery and weaves in the mystery of a killer called The Bard, who is taking ladies of the night and using their fresh corpses as psychotherapy tableaus one carved limb at a time.
Azzarello is completely at home with RORSCHACH – dare I say the two were meant for one another. Azzarello has a distinct…staccato…way of writing. It’s a word play that tends to rub some folks the wrong way and I can see why on certain titles. Rorschach’s journal, the narrative thread of WATCHMEN and now this prequel, is equally choppy. He starts a sentence…shifts focus…moves forward…yet dances backwards. I honestly couldn’t imagine anyone else writing this book.
The art hits your senses like a sledge hammer. I fell in love with Bermejo’s hyper realistic, darkened Alex Ross-like paintings in BATMAN: NOEL, hoping and waiting for his next project. RORSCHACH doesn’t disappoint. I grew up outside of New York and I spent a lot of time going to Times Square before Giuliani cleaned the streets. Bermejo perfectly captures the frantic strung-out nature of this place and time. It’s hard to imagine people strung out on heroin and johns getting blow jobs in back alleys as frantic, but when you multiply even the most lethargic of private activities by tens of thousands of people it will indeed overload the senses. The detail Bermejo put in this book is nothing short of spectacular. Every panel draws you into closer examination, whether it’s to see the infinite easter eggs in the wide shots or simply to be in awe of the meticulous lines and crevices in the close ups.
Prior to RORSCHACH I was starting my reviews by ranking my favorite books to date. It’s a silly activity in light of RORSCHACH. DC is clearly taking a strong open, light middle, and finally a killer close approach to this series. SILK SPECTRE and MINUTEMEN – fantastic (even though I was less than enamored with MINUTEMEN, I did like the art and really seem to be alone in my malaise towards it). NITE OWL, COMEDIAN and even OZYMANDIAS’ glorious art still left a collective “not bad – not great” amongst fans. RORSCHACH, though, is the real deal, a crime buster whose psychological baggage makes him possibly more dangerous than those he pursues. Then once you add Rorschach’s less than favorable feelings on the call girl profession, you can clearly see a moral conundrum in future stories where Rorschach will have to decide if the enemy of his enemy is truly his friend and where the lesser of two evils actually lie.
If my theory on the quality of the BEFORE WATCHMEN series is correct, the final entry of DR. MANHATTAN has me ready to go thermonuclear with antici…say it…pation.
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.
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #1Writer: Fred Van Lente
Art: Clayton Henry
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Irish Rican
ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG is the final book of Valiant Entertainment's Summer of Valiant and the latest resurrection of the company's beloved characters. Such a tagline is a massive proclamation for a company that is relaunching their books after so many years, but up until this point they've pulled it off swimmingly.
ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG has always been a favorite with fans, and this first issue does a great job of introducing our characters without having to stray too far from the formula that makes the book so unique.
Obadiah Archer is a young Harbinger who has the power to kick ass. Seriously kick ass. Archer is able to view any sort of combat and emulate that combat perfectly. Archer and a large number of adopted children have been raised in an amusement park named Promised Land owned by a Reverend and his lovely wife. It is here where you can learn such fun history as how the cavemen rode the dinosaurs and other such skewed facts of ultra-conservative church types. It is not as hateful as the Westboro Baptist Church's amusement park may be should they ever have one, but a peek inside where the Archers have trained their adoptive children to find who is ready to go into the world to kill Satan is truly sadistic enough.
Archer becomes that champion and goes forth into the world for the first time to track down the demon who shall not be named. That demon is a fat slob of a bouncer named Armstrong. Looking like he belongs panhandling on the street, Armstrong is just trying to do his job - which consists of trying to hit on drunk girls while avoiding doing actual bouncing work. When Archer comes to kill him it doesn't work because Armstrong is not what he seems, in that he's a 10,000 year old immortal who has seen his fair share of fighting. That, and you can't kill an immortal.
Throw in the One Percenters who become masked baddies in this book and you have one hell of a first issue. Archer and Armstrong still remain the best comic duo of all time. It's a label that's not easily given, and one that is well deserved. Van Lente and Clay Henry have brought together a page-turning introduction to these beloved characters and, to this reviewer, prove that the Summer of Valiant was far from a sham. This is an A+ book and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.
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.
GUERILLAS VOL. 2Writer and Illustrator: Brahm Revel
Publisher: Oni Press
I’ve read a decent amount of war comics in my time. But in all the time I’ve been reading comics of all kinds I don’t think I ever really came across a comic as unique as GUERRILLAS. It’s not because I think that the idea of a troop of simian soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War is particularly original (for the record, I do think it’s an inspired idea), but it’s because creator Brahm Revel has taken a concept that could easily have just been a funny book romp and made it into as deep a meditation on the nature of man during wartime as “Apocalypse Now”, “Platoon”, or “Full Metal Jacket”.
If you’re chuckling at the notion that a comic book full of gorillas with military ordnance in the jungles of Vietnam could reach the depths of the aforementioned films then I dare you, I DARE YOU, to pick up the first two volumes of GUERILLAS and tell me that I’m wrong. Because if you did say that GUERRILLAS wasn’t as powerful a work as Coppola’s, Stone’s, or Kubrick’s filmic depictions of the conflict in Vietnam I would have to laugh in your face and tell you how wrong you are.
GUERRILLAS is the perfect example of the heights that comic books can reach when done right. After reading the first volume of GUERRILLAS I said in a former review that I would follow creator Brahn Revel’s work no matter what he was going to be working on in the future. After reading this chapter, I will say without hesitation that Revel could be well poised to be one of the greatest voices in the next generation of comic book writer/artists. Revel is that good. GUERRILAS is that good.
This is a sequential story with depth and power. Not only is the writing nuanced, but the artwork is impeccable. Brevel is a master storyteller whose combined talents come together to make GUERILLAS a real tour de force. I am beyond impressed with Revel and I await any future chapters of GUERILLAS with the impatience of a child waiting for Christmas morning.
If GUERILLAS doesn’t win an Eisner next year then something is seriously wrong with the Eisners. This is award-worthy stuff and deserves to be recognized for the impressive work that it is.
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.
GODZILLA: THE HALF-CENTURY WAR #1Writers: James Stokoe
Art: James Stokoe
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Masked Man
One thing that always makes a good Godzilla comic book (to me anyways) is the art! Many times, licensed properties in comic books turn out just as bad as they do in video games--sub-par talent on something that was probably too expensive to acquire in the first place. This trend seems be changing, as many talented writers and artist now jump at the chance to work on the licensed properties they loved as a kid. That’s how we can get something like GODZILLA: THE HALF-CENTURY WAR, by James Stokoe. I’ve never read one of James’ comics before, but I know his art: most impressive. You can tell that IDW called up James and said ‘hey, want to do a Godzilla comic?’ And James said, ‘hell ya!’ Every page is so jam-packed with the details of Tokyo it put George Perez to shame! James’ work has a heavy manga influence, too. His work reminds me of Katsuihiro Otomo and Naoki Urasawa. Hence Godzilla is right up his alley. One thing that would have been nicer in his layouts is to get closer to the action. Many of the panels are full shots that always show the characters, tanks and background clearly. It’s all gorgeous, so you don’t mind, but some tighter shots with a good sense of scale would increase the drama. That’s really nit picking, though.
The story follows one man, Ota Murakami, a soldier in the Japanese Defense Force. Here, Ota recounts the tale of his first encounter with Godzilla back in 1954, when Godzilla first climbed out of Tokyo Bay. Stokoe basically fits Ota’s story in with the plot of the original Godzilla movie. The bulk of the book then shows Ota trying to do his duty and survive his encounter with the king of monsters. So it’s a ton of action and a lot of destruction- did I mention how Stokoe draws it all really well? After that we get the sense that Ota and Godzilla will be doing this dance for the next 50 years (HALF-CENTURY WAR, get it)?
For a first issue, this is pretty great; no boring set-up here, just right into the action. The storytelling is as tight as the artwork and moves along at a good pace. One thing that makes me worry about this miniseries (which will be five issues) for the long haul is the main character, Ota. We are seeing the action though his eyes, but Stokoe has yet to definite him for us. If Stokoe plans to definite Ota’s character throughout the course of the series then great--no problem. If not, then we’ll be stuck with a main character we don’t care about. That would undermine the entire tale, because (based on the first issue) Stokoe has made watching Godzilla impact this man’s life the point of this series. So I sure hope he has a life to impact!
This could be a really great book, assuming it will be more than just an overview of Godzilla’s 50 year reign.
THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF MISS TILNEY Vol.1Writer: David Doub
Illustrator: Sarah Elkins
Publisher: Dusk Comics
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty
THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF MISS TILNEY is an upcoming penny dreadful comic, which fans of the genre will recognize as “cheap sensational fiction” printed on inexpensive pulp paper that young chaps used to secure for a penny. My, how times have changed. These days, a penny can buy you nothing more than copper stains in the bottom of your car’s cup holder. Having said that, you now know what to expect from MISS TILNEY as she embarks on what is billed as a “deadly adventure across Victorian London.” But is it any good? Well, that depends on how much you like the aforementioned qualifiers, much in the same way some people are belly laughing during Monty Python while others are left scratching their heads. I’m usually the latter, so I tried to approach MISS TILNEY on its merits as a graphic novel and not whether or not I was apathetic towards any TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS that occurred across the pond.
With that in mind, I can say with some degree of certainty that MISS TILNEY is a finely-crafted comic, with enough quality storytelling to keep fans (and non-fans) of penny dreadful entertained. Since this story is told in Victorian London, you won’t be privy to any nipple slips or other gratuitous displays of nudity. I know it may sound like an inappropriate thing to mention in a comic book review, but believe me, this kind of stuff matters to some readers. What she lacks in skin, however, she makes up for in action. Her partner in crime (solving), Lord Harwood, also gets his hands dirty and that includes guns, wild animals, jailbreaks and more. Writer David Doub’s matter-of-fact dialog is probably a little too prim and proper for me, but it does fit the story so I guess that’s a minor grievance. Complimenting him is the talented Sarah Elkins, who does a fine job of storytelling in her illustrations, even if there’s very little risk-taking in her layout. It doesn’t hurt the overall presentation, but I definitely think MISS TILNEY could stand to be a little edgier, visually speaking.
In the end, THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF MISS TILNEY is a well-executed piece of fiction that boasts a solid pen and appealing art. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re a fan of comic books and good storytelling, there’s plenty to like in this latest offering from Dusk Comics.
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.
GAMBIT #1Writer: James Asmus
Aritst: Clay Mann
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: The Dean
There’s an audience for this type of Gambit story out there, and I’m sure they’ll enjoy GAMBIT #1. It’s a stylish, exciting, and just overall “cool” debut to the series, and I don’t think I see that changing anytime soon. James Asmus (X- MEN: MANIFEST DESTINY, GENERATION HOPE) takes a bit of an “Ocean’s 11” approach to the character that’ll likely appeal to a larger audience familiar with the sleek, swanky heist films, but he ultimately loses out on an opportunity to tell a unique tale that should have been a welcome respite from the rest of the Marvel lineup. It’s a first issue, so the series is far from being DOA, but I’d need to see a pretty a radical shift in plot and scenery for the next issue to make GAMBIT seem worthy of being an ongoing title.
One thing I loved about the 2004 series from John Layman was that it brought Gambit home to the Big Easy and showed us a more supernatural underworld that was gritty, dangerous, and profoundly different than what you’d find in Marvel New York or anywhere else at the time. GAMBIT #1 is a swift sojourn from the comfortable Jean Grey School to the posh private estate of Borya Cich, where our ragingly dapper Cajun mingles with nobles and flirts with short-skirted servers while figuring out how to rob the place. These classy thief elements create the suave feel of the “Ocean’s” movies, but it’s all very unabashedly James Bond as well, even going so far as to include the cliché “LeBeau. Remy LeBeau” line. It’s a very safe and nondescript tone to shoot for, which just makes the series seem unsure of itself and its titular hero, as any number of characters could have been dropped into the role and everything would have been pretty much the same, aside from a few Cajun colloquialisms peppered throughout. This is still an enjoyable story and a fun, quick read, but there’s nothing here that’s genuinely Gambit, or markedly different enough than anything else on the stands. As a WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN one shot this might have been more palatable, but as a series, there’s little here to whet my appetite for more of this particular Gambit’s adventures.
Penciller Clay Mann (MAGNETO: NOT A HERO, X-MEN: LEGACY) does a great job capturing the type of story Asmus has written here, providing a very polished and refined look that serves the story well. I’ll admit that this isn’t the type of look I typically like, as it’s a bit too cinematic for my taste, but it wouldn’t be fair to cite that as a fault of the artist when the script he’s drawing features some obvious Hollywood inspiration as well. It’s a straightforward story, but Mann still tells it well with a very readable layout that’s never confusing or distracting. While I think Asmus missed out on providing us a genuine Gambit story in this first issue, Mann injected a lot of charm and fun into his drawing of the character that made it a more charismatic read than it may have been otherwise.
GAMBIT #1 isn’t necessarily a dud, but it’s certainly not the success I was hoping for either. The issue accomplishes what I think it set out to do, which is tell a stylish, attractive story that might appeal to a broader audience. But, unfortunately, it fails where Fraction’s HAWKEYE succeeded just a couple of weeks ago in proving to readers that there’s a reason for this series to exist, and a story to tell with the character. I still have hope that Asmus can turn it around on GAMBIT with another issue or two, but for now, I’d suggest holding off on this one until he gives you a reason not to.
DEADHORSE: VACANCIES #4Writer: Eric Grissom
Artist: Phil Sloan
Publisher: 215 Ink
Though I enjoyed the first two issues of DEADHORSE, I was less than impressed with the third book. I complained about the lack of action and it was too muddled. Luckily, Grissom and Sloan have redeemed themselves with DEADHORSE #4 and seem to have the momentum to continue this level of excellence.
The fourth book, VACANCIES, begins with my favorite character, Sasquatch. Nothing like seeing a grown man in an ape costume drinking his pain away in a dive bar to start off a strong issue. Back at Trapper’s Keep, our hero William Pike and his two new friends (the runaway Elise and Edgar, whose uncle owns the motel) are on the search for a Dr. Andrew Conroy. The two guests of the Trapper Keep, a Lionel Richie-esque wash up and cat hoarder Casper, aren’t much help or reliable. But Pike has come too far to stop now and will stop at nothing, even if it does push Uncle Gus’ buttons.
For new readers, or those who haven’t read the earlier issues in awhile, the comic features a quick rundown. It’s not as necessary as for some other comics. The story within the issue reveals a lot of the backstory without being too expositional with its dialogue. Speaking of the wording, DEADHORE #4 is probably the best of Grissom’s writing yet. Plenty of one-liners such as “Now either follow me to your room or get yourself a raincoat…for the shitstorm that’s comin’ you keep poking your nose where it don’t belong” are featured throughout the issue. Not only are there plenty of moments like these, but also Grissom has a high accuracy of making them work.
The story has always remained in the mystery genre, but VACANCIES kicks the hunt for answers into high gear with a greater sense of urgency than before. Though we haven’t gotten any real answers, I’m pretty sure the comic won’t end up like LOST, setting up too many clues preventing a satisfying conclusion.
What is great about the hints dropped in DEADHORSE #4 is that they are hidden throughout the book visually, with a strong use of dramatic irony prompting multiple readings if you didn’t catch them the first time around. The artwork isn’t highly detailed, as I’ve said before, but Sloan designs the panels to include the clues I just mentioned in plain sight but without drawing obvious attention to them. I’d rather have well-planned out panel work than an unoriginal style, for Sloan’s art has a flair all its own even if it isn’t the most complicated sketches.
DEADHORSE #3 wasn’t up to par and therefore forgettable. I like being able to dive into the next issues of a series without having to review the previous books, a personal preference that some (or most) of you may not share. However, DEADHORSE #4 is easily the most memorable issue yet. I based this on the strength of the dialogue and pure fun the issue contains. The series does best when it keeps the focus on Pike, never straying too long or frequently away from our protagonist. This is just another reason why DEADHORSE #4 succeeded where the third issue faltered.
Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a senior screenwriting major with an English minor at Chapman University. Along with writing for AICN, she has been published twice on the subject of vampire films.
RED SONJA: ATLANTIS RISES #1Writer: Luke Lieberman
Art: Max Dunbar
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man
I don’t think Dynamite has published any character longer than the Red Sonja. Let’s face it, the ‘She-Devil with a Sword’ has legs. I’m a passing fan of Sonja, read a few comics and saw the movie. I’m a bigger fan of the genre in general—Yes, Joey, I like Gladiator movies. So a story with Red Sonja mixing it up with Atlantis? Call me interested.
The first issue, though, doesn’t have much more going for it other than its concept. It’s got Sonja doing her usual thing: killing men who attempt to victimize women. It’s got Atlantis risings from the ocean, looking to victimize the rest of the world. And it’s got Thulsa Doom doing his usual thing: trying to victimize the world and get revenge on Red Sonja. So as you would expect, Lieberman has all the right pieces in play. The bigger question is, how’s the execution? It’s ok. Everyone is defined and ready to go, but it could have been more interestingly done.
Two things that don’t feel right, though, are: one is the immediate sense that Sonja will save the day. Seriously, one warrior chick is going to defeat a whole continent of mystically powered warriors? Yes, I know Sonja’s name is on the cover, but I don’t think the people inside the comic should know that. Even with an army bearing down on her, there’s no sense of dread. The second thing that doesn’t feel right is how Atlantis rises from the ocean floor. It seemed rather easy; one wave of a magic wand and poof, up it goes. I hope Lieberman can spend some time in the coming issues to explain this more, because right now it seems way too deus ex machina. The one interesting point is that Thulsa Doom is considered an enemy of Atlantis as well as an enemy of Red Sonja. This opens the door for some cool writing, proving why Doom is such a bad @$$.
To be mean to the artist Max Dunbar, he’s a poor man’s Scott Campbell. To be fairer to him, he draws attractive panels with a nice eye to detail and decent storytelling skill. So his overall drawing is nice, but they lack moxie. I feel his copying of Campbell’s style is hampering his own ability to make his figures stand out more- especially Sonja herself. It was amusing to see the city keep of Shem given a Lord of Rings Minas look, though I’m curious why Red Sonja was surprised to be surrounded by water after climbing that mountain peak. Didn’t she have to swim through water to get to the peak?
So it’s a good premise, it’s set-up well and drawn well, but has yet to prove itself worth reading. I’d say your love of the premise will determine whether or not you want to stick around and read more.
A TREASURY OF XXth CENTURY MURDER – LOVER’S LANE: THE HALL-MILLS MYSTERY HC GNWriter: Rick Geary
Art: Rick Geary
Publisher: NBM Comics Lit
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
It’s always party-time in my head when a new Rick Geary book comes out. No it doesn’t have dudes in tights beating up other dudes in tights. It’s not ‘splosions and crossovers and whatnot. And there’s nary a mutant to be seen. Geary is true crime in graphic form. No one else can take a file cabinet full of research and facts and mold and form it into an entertaining story from page one to the last. I’ve never missed one of his XXth CENTURY MURDER TREATURIES and when I saw that he had a new one on the way this August, it was a Kid n’ Play movie up in my brain pan.
The mystery Geary focuses his fine tuned lens on in this edition is the Hall-Mills Mystery which occurred in New Brunswick, NJ in 1922. A highly popular reverend (Hall) and a member of his church choir (Mills) were found dead. Around the bodies were love letters the two had written to one another. Mills’ throat was cut and her voice box removed. Hall was shot. Both were married, though rumors swirled about the two’s relationship. Though suspects were tried and a court hearing was held, the mystery remains just that to this day.
Geary does what he usually does and dissects the mystery from every angle. Then puts it back together piece by piece, examining all options, coming up with hypothesis (multiple ones, usually), and most importantly delivering the cold hard facts of the case from every angle. Geary proves that there’s nothing quite like a true story to blow your socks off and does it again here with LOVER’S LANE. As the facts are laid out, Geary attempts to whittle away hearsay and rumor. In the end, you’ll find yourself so enrapt in the mystery that you’ll want to dust off your magnifying glass and go investigate it yourself.
Geary’s eye for detail is balanced with a somewhat cartoony style. There’s nothing funny about the events going on in his books, but in just a few lines, Geary is able to make forms that speak volumes. Everything from detailed maps of the surrounding area where the bodies were found, to the miniscule clues left on the scene are expertly crafted in black and white.
In most cases, I would give criticism to a writer who relies so much on 3rd person narrative captions and so little on word balloons, but Geary makes those few word balloons count and seems to shy away from writing his own scripts in favor of writing the quotes as they were recorded. That said, the testimonies during the court case were equally well done.
Anyone who can list facts, dispel rumors, and rely mainly on historical reenactment to tell a story and still keep it all interesting is a storytelling master in my book. Geary once again proves to be one of the greats with this compelling read about betrayal, deception, and murder. LOVER’S LANE will intrigue, it will fascinate, and many times throughout will chill you to the bone.
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 late 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 March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.
HARBINGER #3Writer: Joshua Dysart
Art: Khari Evans with Lewis Larosa
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Irish Rican
HARBINGER #3 continues the engrossing story of Peter Stanchek and his assimilation into the Harbinger Corporation. Having Stanchek join the fold has been the plan of the corporation's leader Toyo Harada from the start, but we finally see in this issue what is in store for Peter and why Harada has concocted such plans for the lad.
Writer Joshua Dysart has the ability to blow out my mind every couple pages. His Harbinger school is set up with Japanese ethics, including bows, titles (like sensei), and respect for those students ahead of you. Dysart brings the reader into the school and shows off its structure, something that was missing in the previous HARBINGER series. There the students seemed to have no discipline, here you can't live without it.
Harada becomes a three-dimensional character in these pages. He doesn't play the part of bad guy or antagonist. He is a man who wants to change the world, who wants to see the human species come together. Whether this vision is right or wrong remains to be seen, but the world's most powerful man (both in business and with his abilities) is going to make a better future whether you like it or not.
This future includes Peter Stanchek, who up to this point has been taking drugs to curb his powers and has a willingness to do whatever it takes to get by. Pete is a survivor, but being dropped head first into a school with such structure doesn't work well. His reaction is the reaction of any homeless kid being dropped into an elite private school full of cocky kids--except these cocky kids have powers.
HARBINGER continues to be the best book on the market. With each and every issue the story deepens, twists, and impacts to the point where you need to read through the comic a second time once you have finished to fully revel in its awesomeness. The fact that this is a team book and the rest of Stanchek's team hasn't even been introduced yet blows my mind. Why? Because some of the best characters haven't even been introduced yet.
Four words, ladies and gentlemen: Read this book NOW.
They don’t happen often, but issues like this – the “person on the street has an intimate encounter with The Bat” – it seems happen enough to feel like they are almost a sub-genre to Batman books in general. And this is definitely one of the better-executed ones I have read in my comic reading career. In this particular case, it’s because those street kids – a brother and sister combo involving Harper Lee, a character we’ve seen (briefly) previously in this run – are instantly endearing within their relationship and how they act toward and protect each other, especially coming from a social angle, whereas Harper’s brother is gay and getting perpetually bullied for it. The love Harper shows for her brother in the face of his adversity is really quite touching and leads to a pretty good “fuck yeah!” moment when his antagonizers run the two of them down in an alley and have a Batman encounter of their own. The rest of the issue is basically of that of another sub-genre variety, the “plucky citizen helps The Bat out of a jam” one, and is also pretty enjoyable, as well as featuring some stellar Andy Clarke art to contrast the stellar Becky Cloonan drawings that did up the more emotional, street-level aspect of this issue. Overall, yet another well crafted Scott Snyder Batman joint to span the transition from his Owls storyline to his Joker one, which is already giving me the anticipation shakes while waiting for it. – Humphrey Lee
THE MASSIVE #3
Dark Horse Comics
Wrapping up the first arc of this new Brian Wood joint I have to say, sadly, I’m not really invested. I appreciate the attempt being made here of trying to “actualize” the idea of global catastrophe on a realistic scale and in a domino-like ramification system – how a mass eruption here can affect this, how a financial meltdown here can affect that, and so on – but I’m really not feeling the main attachment of the book, that of Captain Callum Israel and his crew sailing the seas looking for their sister ship, the titular MASSIVE. It’s an interesting way to show off this almost post-apocalyptic world that Wood and artist Kristian Donaldson have created, but so far it seems more like a MacGuffin to show off that world than anything. Three issues in and I haven’t really seen anything from Callum or his main two associates on the ship to really become attached to the characters; honestly, I haven’t really seen anything from them at all yet except being characters that seem unusually well adapted to shit going down – even on a global meltdown scale – and being pretty resourceful in these hugely unusual and uncertain circumstances. I’m definitely not trying to imply THE MASSIVE is a bad book or anything, but more one that may need some time to gestate more and find itself with more of a draw than just the setting and how it approaches its worldview. – Humphrey Lee
PUNK ROCK JESUS #2
I have to give it to Sean Murphy: I buy a book because I expect Jesus in a mohawk, I get a book that’s essentially about a mega badass, ex-IRA member protecting the mother of the cloned Son of God from hordes upon hordes of people that watch the reality TV show this is all taking place on. Personally, I don’t know if I’m upset with myself that I wanted to see something so simple and literal or just that impressed that Murphy has cranked this up to a degree I was really not expecting. You can boil this book down to fanaticism if you want, though it’s not quite the take on religious zealotry you would think and more a castigating of our media and entertainment cycles and ADD, set to the mother of all manufactured events for public viewing consumption. PRJ is a great, high-concept take on the ideas of media, entertainment, and faith all seen through some very unique character eyes and sublimely lush but harsh artwork. It’s DIY comic making at its best. – Humphrey Lee
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Aug. 15, 2012, 9:35 a.m. CST
Really both a Westboro and One Percenter reference for this issue? Can some of these damn writers their political opinions to themselves and just give us a kick ass comic? This kind of crap is what sucked all the fun out of the Machete movie.
Aug. 15, 2012, 9:37 a.m. CST
There shoulda been a keep between writers and their.
Aug. 15, 2012, 9:44 a.m. CST
Reading that book, I got the same feeling I did with Xtreme X-men (or whatever it's called): Too fast, too loose. It felt like there was too much time going on between the panels and as a result, the panels themselves felt jumpy and it was sometimes hard to puzzle out their intent. Add that to the fact that the dialogue was way too specifically expository and it ended up a rushed and uninspired book. Too bad, it could have been neat.
Aug. 15, 2012, 9:45 a.m. CST
I think Harper is on track to being the next Robin or Batgirl or whatever.
Aug. 15, 2012, 9:47 a.m. CST
I may pick that one up. Sounds interesting, especially if they shit on Westboro. Only the worst people alive approve of those douchebags
Aug. 15, 2012, 9:49 a.m. CST
The hunt is definitely a MacGuffin, but I don't have an issue with that. Entire TV shows are based off that idea. Remember David Banner hitchhiking to sad music at the end of every show? It just gives them a reason to sail around and a Chekov's gun when they need it. I approve. I'm enjoying the book.
Aug. 15, 2012, 9:55 a.m. CST
by Greg Nielsen
is the Westburo church honestly a huge threat for a super child soldier and an immortal highlander guy? I don't like westburo baptist church or anything like that. I don't know how anyone could and I am a Christian and think they are doing nothing but serving themselves. I just think this comic will be dated quick and the references and themes lost. Westburo baptist is nothing but a cheap gimmick that serves the 24 hour new cycle well with shock value. Also, the 1 percent thing is silly too. Does this mean he's going after politicians? Cause those are the real 1 percent. It's not business men. It's the politicians that rob us all blind. Political and cultural comment done. I will still read the issue even though the review makes me worry a bit.
Aug. 15, 2012, 9:57 a.m. CST
Remember Rican is paraphrasing the issue. Yes, the baddies are 1% but never blatantly called so in the issue.
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:01 a.m. CST
by Greg Nielsen
I hate when stuff is to in the moment culturally. I was watching Comedy Central thinking are my kids going to get any of these jokes? Seriously, is my kid going to get an "I like turtles reference"? I doubt Westburo and 1% and any other of the talking points from now will survive either.
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:05 a.m. CST
And not the same as a meme. Of course it will survive. Relax. A story that doesn't use allegory and metaphor or cultural touchstones is usually a really crappy story.
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:07 a.m. CST
What about Captain America? Would you have wanted them to remove references to the Nazis?
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:10 a.m. CST
by Greg Nielsen
I honestly think if you just go out there and tell a story you want to tell that's all you need. I don't think the movie The Fall has any of that stuff but it's a wonderful movie I will always go back too. Princess Bride is another movie that has no social commentary and simply exists to make people happy. I'm not saying you can't have any of that. I just want my super child soldiers and highlanders to fight something big enough to give them a problem and not a bunch of crazies or fat old guys with too much money and crap PR.
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:20 a.m. CST
Princess Bride and The Fall are full of allegory and metaphor and social commentary. Subtlety doesn't lessen it's meaning.. Crazy old fat guys with lots of money have been the men behind the big threat since the beginning of stories.
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:20 a.m. CST
by Greg Nielsen
If only Ed Brubaker had let him fight something other than nazis for 50 plus issues. I'm pretty sure Osama Bin Laden, the human rights violating Communist Party of China, and a zombie Kim Jong Il needed his patriotic attention too. Of course he could've also fought a room full of robots or aliens that have nothing to do with anything and I'd still be happy. Just no more skrulls please.
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:27 a.m. CST
@joenathan...I have no clue what the social and political commentary in either of those movies are...
by Greg Nielsen
not everything in the world has an angle. If crazy old fat guys with money have always been the threat, I think that it's time to maybe branch out. They could be skinny. Please any wrinkle to this worn out plot.
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:32 a.m. CST
No need to get too involved, but The Fall is about living life on your own terms, it's an assisted suicide commentary, a "dying with dignity" film. And the very nature of the dialogue style in Princess Bride alone is a cultural touchstone and, funny as it is, Billy Crystal is just doing a Jewish stereotype. The old fat guys with money is not a plot or a plot point. It is a trope. There's a difference. There's also nothing new under the sun.
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:38 a.m. CST
by Marc Cerasini
Are athletes, rock and music stars, actors, directors, Hollywood types--the very assholes often celebrated on this site.
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:39 a.m. CST
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:40 a.m. CST
by Greg Nielsen
I know that everything has already been done. I just think there is nothing wrong with doing a little better. I just appreciate something well executed. I checked out Punk Rock Jesus and Sean Murphy can still rock out those pencils. Do I agree with everything he is saying, not sure yet I mean 2 issues in. I do know that ultimately at least he's trying to do something good, he's trying to entertain, he's trying express himself, and not just rehash the billionth Jesus kids plot from The Da Vinci Code or whatever. Same thing with The Massive. I like Brian Wood. Don't always agree with him completely or with his tendency to preach. The man writes a good book though. I'll give Archer and Armstrong a shot. I just don't see the value in choosing something so topical personally. It bothers me. It reeks of pandering. Even when I agree that Westburo is not good and that a ruling class stealing from me is not good, I don't want someone saying that stuff just to get my money. It's like that episode of Pinky and The Brain where Brain keeps yelling, "are you patronizing me?" Not that I want to take over the world.
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:51 a.m. CST
Somewhere along the line, this has become a dismissive faux-critical buzzword. If I had a time machine and knew who started the trend, I'd use it to go back in time and murder their parents before they gave birth to the son of a bitch. Pandering. Good fucking Lord. Look, it's okay to not like a story because it insults you or hits too close to home or whatever, but stop claiming stories are bad because they are "pandering" which apparently means, you're saying it sucks because it is trying to appeal to a certain audience which... again... is the dumbest complaint I have ever heard. WHAT ELSE DO YOU EXPECT A PERSON TO DO WHEN CREATING SOMETHING EXCEPT APPEAL TO CERTAIN GROUPS???? Pandering... ugh. Every sold story is just saying something to get your money. Every one of them. It's a product. If they didn't want your money, they'd give it away for free. And it's not a bad thing to want your money. Our society is kind of founded on the idea. Also, using familiar tropes and story quality are two completely unrelated subjects, neither one dependant upon the other. Also also, pander and patronize do not mean the same thing
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:52 a.m. CST
The issue is not rich people, but a Government that only represents rich people and corporations (the 1%) at the expense of everyone else (the 99%). You of all people should be able to see that since you probably hate the government.
Aug. 15, 2012, 10:57 a.m. CST
by Greg Nielsen
You don't have to make a comic to appeal to just certain people. I don't mind a comic that uses real life stuff. I don't mind a comic that goes full crazy. Just don't expect me to applaud someone for doing something along the lines of telling me something I want to hear just so I'll buy it. Pandering is a real term it's not faux-critical. It's just over used. I know pandering and patronizing are different. It was a similar thing in this case and I wanted to mention Pinky and The Brain. We should all love Pinky and The Brain.
Aug. 15, 2012, 11 a.m. CST
I think this thread should move away from the 1% and Westburo and to how we all agree Alan Moore wants more rape in comics...
by Greg Nielsen
Something we can all agree on. It crosses all nations and creeds.
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:05 a.m. CST
easily becoming one of the best cartoonists out there. the illustrations sold me immediately
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:18 a.m. CST
I think you're over-estimating the application of this intent: "telling me something I want to hear just so I'll buy it." I just don't think that happens very often. ESPECIALLY since it seems fair to say that the only examples of this are Left-leaning creators bagging on Rightwing douchebags. Why would they do that, why would they have to pander at all, it's not like it boost sales when Cap takes on the Michigan Militia, in fact, it has become obvious that the half the internet explodes with rightwing douchebag anger every time they do do something like that, so why would they alienate half their audience in order to cater to the other. I just don't believe the intent is there. I think they are JUST telling a story. Also, "pandering" IS faux-critical when used in it's current broad application on the internet to anything that touches on a subject some people may disapprove of. I mean, you never see the supposed subject of said pandering complaining do you? No, you only see the ones that could be considered to be the ones being skewered in the supposed pandering complaining. Like the oddly angry and somewhat suspect frat boy complaining at great length about all of the "gay shit in stuff lately." See? Then they call it liberal pandering, meaning that they think something is purposly and specifically trying to woo liberals into spending money or paying attention to whatever the thing is. But why? What are they complaining about? What do they care if some other groups' money gets spent on something? Do see what I'm saying? Why would they care? It's the childless woman complaining about the evil influence of TV on children. She's not concerned about specific children, certainly not her own, the idea of TV adversly affecting children doesn't enter her life. It's a nonsense complaint. What she's actually complaining about is how TV offends HER. She's more upset about the subject matter NOT the group who is supposedly being "pandered" to, but for some reason won't just come out and say it.
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:19 a.m. CST
Alan Moore IS a cartoon rapist
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:22 a.m. CST
by Greg Nielsen
like Alan Moore does for rapists.
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:24 a.m. CST
by Greg Nielsen
I just genuinely think that they do stuff to stroke whatever they think is culturally relevant. Sometimes, it even turns out well like Donald Glover Spiderman over in Ultimate Spiderman. Most of the time it feels like Mr. Burns from the Simpson is tapping fingers saying excellent. At least from where I am sitting. Opinions. Opinions. Btw, without generalization how would we live? One things for sure, everything would take much longer to say.
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:27 a.m. CST
by Greg Nielsen
mostly that stuff tends to really suck. Ever try sitting through American Carol. I will never forgive my friend for that one. Wow. Bad even by the standards of bad.
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:33 a.m. CST
There needs to be a certain amount of self-awareness to be funny and how can you be self-aware and NOT aknowledge that actively attempting to create 2nd class citizzens in both inhumane and unamerican?
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:34 a.m. CST
But that's because they live in society.
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:36 a.m. CST
by Greg Nielsen
I mean seriously so much preaching. I think the Right Wing stuff works worse cause it's like being locked in a room with your parents. Then again some people probably had fight the power parents but even then that can't feel as stereotype as people that think the 1950s were a thing.
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:37 a.m. CST
Will be socially relevant. A GREAT story will embody the timeless principles of humanity - birth, death, love, hate, war, peace, friendship Depending on the type of story being told the two can combine. PRINCESS BRIDE was a great story because it used modern sensibilities to tell a story of long ago - a time very romanticized by most people. What made it classic was that it touched on the very core themes of humanity.
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:37 a.m. CST
by Greg Nielsen
Seriously, funniest book on the stands. Last issue we found out Barak Obama was a freaking space alien demon and who knows where the real Barak is! All of this is done so overly over the top and hilariously self serious that you can't help but fall over laughing.
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:40 a.m. CST
Boom. (fist bump)
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:45 a.m. CST
I know I'm totally in the minority here, but I found Harper and Cullen to be unendearing cliches. Felt like I wasted my time with this issue. I also found the whole Batman electrical sub-systems to be rather silly as well.
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:46 a.m. CST
by Greg Nielsen
I guess I'm just the type that prefers the timeless principals of humanity to commentary. So Princess Bride is win cause of execution and those timeless principals. I could be missing how trying to get revenge on the 6 fingered man was a metaphor for the desperation of Regan in the waning days of the Cold War.
Aug. 15, 2012, 11:51 a.m. CST
Maybe they'll become twin Robins in green shortpants
Aug. 15, 2012, 2:43 p.m. CST
...it's not the word 'pandering', as much as how often it's misused. Political pandering means expressing views that you don't really believe, but want others to think you believe them, to gain their approval. The only way someone could accuse the Archer & Armstrong author of pandering is if the accuser could somehow prove Fred Lente was a religiously-militant, rich, hardcore conservative, and was crafting his A & A story to appeal to a generally progressive comic fanbase. Dubious at best. Social pandering means exploiting a known weakness, usually in the form of catering to base desires and sexual tastes. See every single commercial, magazine, movie, comic, and billboard featuring tits and ass. In the broadest of strokes you could theoretically accuse an author of 'exploiting a weakness' people might have for seeing a political group somehow demonized, but....that's not really how the definition works. Dubious at best.
Aug. 15, 2012, 2:54 p.m. CST
by Homer Sexual
MMmmmm. well that was a good review of Rorschach and I will read it tonight, for sure. But I am not convinced. Of all the BW books, this is the one character that I really felt had nothing more to say. He is super one-dimensional. Not that a good story can't be told with a one-dimensional character, so we shall see.... Gambit... terrible character... When people say a good writer can do any character, I really have to wonder. Cable? Someone could write a good Cable story? I don't believe it, and purposely refuse to buy any book Cable appears in. I don't hate Gambit that way, but he is just not very interesting. No one has been able to do much with him. They briefly explored his past with Bella Donna and that was... mildly interesting... but he's a pretty cheezy and dated character and I don't think much can be done with him. ps I won't be buying his book to see if I am right or not.
Aug. 15, 2012, 3:03 p.m. CST
Since it's doubtful we are going to get a Horshack Obit, what better place than here with a review of Rorschach. Horshack-Rorschach. Uma-Oprah?
Ok, enough with the bad Letterman joke. Ooo-ooo-ooo! R.I.P. Ron Palillo. You made my prepubescent self laugh many times.
Aug. 15, 2012, 3:45 p.m. CST
Thanks, Pink, that's exactly what I meant. It's the near constant misuse of the word that drives me nuts. "Oh, Spider-man is black. That's pandering." What?!? Homer - Gambit's problem is he's such a 90s character, what the fuck do you do with him? I think he could find success (dressed in normal clothes) if he was second fiddler in a more interesting character's book. Otherwise... so lame. A good Cable story? The X-men crossover where he and Hope return home, he was "not lame" in that story. Also, apropos to Spider-man, the Spider-men book is really good. The meeting beteen Miles and Ultimate Aunt May and Gwen and regular universe Peter? Great stuff.
Aug. 15, 2012, 4:41 p.m. CST
...is that the writers are making explicit aspects of the story that Moore and Gibbons wisely left open to interpretation.
Aug. 15, 2012, 6:46 p.m. CST
Let me share with you all my dib for Rorschach last Thursday to the @$$hole clubhouse (Yes, we dib like 12 year olds) "Hey @$$$$holes. I'm dibbing RORSCHACH 1 or HORSESHACK -100...haven't decided yet." Fucking eerie RIP Horse
Aug. 15, 2012, 9:18 p.m. CST
Is anybody else making an effort to read the Before Watchmen books in the order of the Crimson Corsair stories?
I mean, if you're reading them as released that is of course the way you'd get through them. But if you happen to pick up two or three issues at once (as I did last week) or are just holding back until there's more to read you'd actually have to make an effort to read them in that order. Not sure why it mattered to me (because I'm pretty sure it doesn't - matter, that is), but I made sure I stuck to it.
Aug. 15, 2012, 9:19 p.m. CST
"A TREASURY OF XXth CENTURY MURDER – LOVER’S LANE: THE HALL-MILLS MYSTERY" has succeeded on both counts.
Aug. 16, 2012, 12:41 a.m. CST
by Bedknobs and Boomsticks
They are rich, but not WEALTHY. Like, I own fleets of yachts and jets and strings of islands and government officials and multinational corporations sort of wealth, with hoards of money stashed in the Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein, San Marino, etc. A handful here and there are approaching that, but they aren't all in the true 1%. Fuck, most actors aren't rich. The 1%ers are like those rich kids on Instagram who don't blink an eye over spending € 107,524.00 /$ 132,077.14 for lunch.
Aug. 16, 2012, 8:06 a.m. CST
by Buzz Maverik
...is despite what media silently feeds us, it's never going to be us. Hold on to that. Sorry, I was the inspiration for Tyler Durden.
Aug. 16, 2012, 10:30 a.m. CST
by Homer Sexual
Many celebrities are in the 1%, its true. But the real wealthy are more like the .1% and they really control things. Like Zuckerberg, of course, but mostly anonymous folks. Anyhoo.... I read Rorschach last night and was, indeed, underwhelmed. It wasn't bad but it wasn't anything special. The art was good. Very good. But Rorschach is the book that the anti-BW crowd could use to say "look, see, the original story told us everything there is to tell about these characters". It didn't bring anything new and was the most boring. But the first issue of Nite Owl was also lame and then it got much better the second issue so maybe that will happen here as well.
Aug. 16, 2012, 2:20 p.m. CST
Harper Row. Harper Lee wrote TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
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