|Issue #122||Release Date: 9/12/12||Vol.#11|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
GRIMM FAIRY TALES: THE JUNGLE BOOK #1-5
THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS #6
UNCANNY X-MEN #18
HE-MAN & THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #2
Michael Avon Oeming’s THE VICTORIES #2
CAPTAIN AMERICA #17
AVX #11Writer: Everyone
Scripter: Brian Bendis
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Ok, who’s excited? Are you excited? We are only one issue away from the grand finale of A VS X! First off, let me say I’m really glad to see Coipel back on this book. Not to dog Romita Jr. or Kubert Jr. (It’s a joke! I’m sorry), but Coipel is one of the best in the business these days, and artists of his caliber should always be working on these high profile books. I really like the two page spread Coipel did on pages five & six. It’s a great job of jamming in lots of character, especially for a guy who seems to excel at open spaces. Laura Martin does a great job coloring his work, too, really bringing his vistas to life. Her work shines in the open spaces he gives her to color. I haven’t checked the advanced notices, so I hope he stays with us for the finale.
Storywise it’s just more of the same, unfortunately: reasonably predictable action that doesn’t seem to make sense in the context of the Marvel U. I did like the line early on by Captain America saying they have been at war with Scott Summers the whole time, instead of the X-Men. That a good way of looking at the story. Now why Scott thought the Phoenix Force was going to save all mutantkind is still a mystery. Here are some other things that don’t make much sense to me (lots of spoilers ahead!): The big reveal of Captain America asking the Hulk for help. Thor and Red Hulk have been pretty useless against the Phoenix Force, so I don’t understand how the Hulk is supposed to be a big help--and he wasn’t. And why didn’t they tap the Hulk sooner, when a Hulk team-up (green and red) might have stopped one of the Phoenix Five? I also don’t understand why Cap needed one whole page to plead for the Hulk’s help--is there still bad feelings about the “Planet Hulk” thing or what? Next, I don’t understand why Cyclops didn’t attack Emma Frost for her half of the Phoenix Force. The last issue ended with him wanting to do just that. But now when Emma even suggests it to him, he says he’s not interested.
Another thing I didn’t understand is the final showdown against Cyclops and Emma. Captain America, surrounded by heroes and mutants, claims he wants everyone to pound on Cyclops so Prof. X can shut down his mind. Well, nobody does anything until a few pages later when Scarlet Witch takes action. I also don’t get why the Scarlet Witch got so upset when Cyclops took out Magneto. I don’t recall them ever having a good relationship, even though he is her father. I also didn’t understand how Cyclops was under attack by Iceman in one panel, and in the next panel all the ice and Iceman are gone, with no explanation. Next comes the big OMG moment that fandom is supposed to talk about for years. Cyclops kills Prof. X--after he spent half the issue saying that he basically didn’t want to kill Prof. X. Add to that that he has half of the Phoenix Force and apparently the only way he had to defeat Prof. X was to kill him. So if I understood that correctly, he didn’t want to kill Prof. X, and he had ample power to subdue Prof. X without killing him, yet he killed him anyway. Well it’s a head scratcher (feel free to answer any of my questions in the talkback).
With one issue left I think it’s foolish to think Marvel is going to be able to make sense of this. They haven’t been interested in explaining the context of nearly anyone’s action in this story so far. Maybe it’s because they had so many writers working on this, and they couldn’t get the perfect mind-meld. Either way I’m sure we are going to get a hum-dinger of a final battle in the last issue, where Norman Osborn will just show up out of nowhere and shoot the Phoenix Force in the head. No, wait…I mean…Hope will do something at the last minute to save the world. Then Marvel Now! will start and we can all pray for a better future.
GRIMM FAIRY TALES THE JUNGLE BOOK #1-5Writer: Mark L. Miller
Art: Carlos Granda
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
The first rule one learns in creative writing classes from the college classroom to even the sad huckster programs that pilfer money from the talentless is READ. Read anything, read everything, know not only your subject matter inside and out, but also the structure of whatever medium you choose to work in.
I started writing for Ain’t It Cool 5 years ago, but between the vast digital time chasm of 2000 when I discovered the site at a business seminar of all places to 2007 when I became a contributor -- I watched. Every post from authors, every Talkback retort, I watched the editors of the great Ain’t It Cool collective absorb geekdom to readily regurgitate it back into our collective mouths in their own more digestible form.
Mark L. Miller was one of those dudes I watched. I was a fan of Mark’s persona Ambush Bug before I called him colleague and, I hope, friend. I didn’t start to write here, though, until I was sure I had watched enough. The lesson here, kids, is don’t trust any material where the creator is not a fan--and this is especially true of comic writers. I’m sure someone can cite a case where my Golden Rule is turned into an asparagus Golden Shower, and someone writes a fantastic first book without ever really being a fan. But I can point to many cases where those people are usually some Hollywood dickbag simply trying to get a chief storyboard created to sell the IP at Comicon.
You should trust in JUNGLE BOOK because it’s written by a man who has toiled for years to profess and evangelize his love of the comic medium. Even if Miller just copied a bunch of shit (which he didn’t), he would be pulling from hundreds upon thousands of source pages that span the Alpha of Comics through to the present day Omega. Originality would happen simply by mathematical probability. But again, he didn’t do this. Instead he took what had become a pretty stale 100 something year old property and presented a spin that fit the expectations and tonality of his publisher’s fan base, but also somewhat tempered those expectations to present a book the mass market could easily revel and rejoice in.
So why should you listen to someone who so clearly is ready to polish the authoring nob of the material he’s about to review? Because I speak truths…because that is a tenet of The Ain’t It Cool @$$hole Clubhouse, because Mark L. Miller expects that of us at all times…even when it comes to his own work. He asked one of the most acidic tongues on this site to review his latest brainchild, because he knows I won’t pull one goddamn punch. I blatantly stated that his last title with Blowwater, a clever concept of septuagenarian vampires, was being suffocated David Carradinestyle by art that made the characters look like heroin-addicted Muppets that just got back from an expedition on the sun. And I cast another dispersion on that book that I am now going to cast upon JUNGLE BOOK. Here we go, I want it heard well.
YOUR SERIES ARE TOO FUCKING SHORT, BUG!
Perpetually, sir, you develop deep beautiful characterization that is cut short just as I am beginning to truly care.
In JUNGLE BOOK you truly have six characters and I don’t feel like I got enough time with any of them.
First, there is the Jungle itself. Perhaps you didn’t mean for this to be a character, but guess what. pal, Carlos is an amazing fucking artist who made the island setting come alive in every panel. It drives me nuts that people talk incessantly about Zenescope cheesecake and ignore all of the beautiful background and ambient scenes that take up the other 80% of the panel.
And before I continue my countdown, for all of you who usually blush when you look at a Zenescope cover, the boys dialed down the Cheesecake-O-Meter to a respectable 5% for this title. But keep in mind JUNGLE BOOK does take place in a jungle, so clothing is not that essential. There’s nothing more schoolgirl titter-worthy in JUNGLE BOOK than you would find in a trip to the X-Men’s Savage Land.
Where was I? Ah yes, characters. So, the island needs to be explored more. Plain and simple.
The second character is the cavalcade of anthropomorphized animals that occupy the island. Each beastly clan was voiced to expectations. The panther that acted like Switzerland between species – slow and deliberate. The tigers were proud, but shifty. The wolves, loyal and true. The monkeys, bat shit crazy. The lemurs, meek and fidgety. And kudos to this interpretation of Baloo. I never liked the fact he sounded like a guy who works at Waffle House from the Disney version. When I read the book originally, he was definitely a proud and fatherly figure to Mowglii. I wanted more time with the animals. The story of Mowglii’s mother and her blood feud with the tigers was engaging, but there is so much history with the animal tribes to explore, I wanted to see more of it. When the ship with the children (our last four characters we’ll get to in a second) landed on the isle to break the Great War, I truly wished we had arrived earlier. It was well paced for the space afforded in five issues, but would have been so much more impactful if we could have seen more of how the hate began amongst the tribes.
Our final four (no, not Cylons) are the children who are shipwrecked on this magical isle. Each of these kids, through their upbringing, are truly goddamn fascinating. Again, I understand Mowglii is the chief protagonist, but I wanted to see more of the relationship she had with the other three castaways. I wanted as much time given to monkey boy and lemur girl as there was devoted to Mowglii and the boy raised by tigers.
Again, Miller did an amazing job with this series, with the fifth issue really driving home the overarching point that the laws of the jungle make for a more civilized society than the laws of man--also, the point that diversity working together is much stronger than tackling a problem apart. However, I am going to remain steadfast in my belief that eight or ten issues would have given this series a level of power and weight that could have taken it from excellent to award winning.
If Zenescope goes back to the JUNGLE BOOK well (which they should, and quickly – there’s too many series out these days and our collective attention span is far too short), I hope you heed my words. Island, animals, the humans – each can sustain their own follow-up.
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 MANHATTAN PROJECTS #6Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Nick Pitarra
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
This is going to be a very short review. It’s not that I don’t have much to say about THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS. The opposite, actually. I’m afraid that, much like WALKING DEAD and FABLES before it, this is quickly going to become my go to title to talk about. I’ll talk about the humour and intrigue and sheer insanity and pure, unadulterated creativity in this series, and I don’t want to do too much of it too early. So instead, I’ll try to keep this brief. Read THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS. It is the definition of comics. It effortlessly combines wonderful visual storytelling, tight scripting, and an inspired and creative ideas.
Writing: (5/5) If you haven’t read the title, this is a solid choice to start up the series. The latest issue, instead of following the more established characters and plot, instead centers around Helmutt--a second survivor of the Nazi rocket science dream team. However, instead of being recruited into the American super science division, he is recovered by the Russian forces. His story contrasts well against the American division that has been on display for the past five issues, and it’s a nice little change of pace. Col. Korolev especially stands out amongst an always rising cast of fantastic characters. The issue ups the general pace of the title as well, Hickman moving along at breakneck speeds. Each scene is short but well crafted and fleshed out, and these short vignettes about Helmutt continue to build on top of one another expertly.
Hell, everything Hickman does within this issue is impressive. His dialogue flows well, never striking a false chord or sounding fake. His set ups and elaborations are well written, and it all flows together incredibly well. He’s economical, covering a great deal of information in just a few panels, which leaves his art team open to explore the rest of the book. Hickman has taken what could, in lesser hands, quickly become a convoluted mess and has turned it into one of the most exciting comic books being released today.
Art: (5/5) Nick Pitarra provides an extremely well-crafted issue on art duties this month. His close attention to the characters gives the issue a clear and defined look, and helps distinguish the expansive cast. Each character not only has their own unique look, but they all have personality and their own way of movement. The framing is likewise inventive, using repetition to emphasize the characters and how they change. But Pitarra isn’t afraid to depart for grander shots (the launch of Yuri especially), and has the ability to make both look simply fantastic.
Jordie Bellaire, who has provided colouring for the title, maintains a beautifully designed look to the series. The divide between red and blue is wonderfully composed, especially during the opening moments. The escape of Helmutt from the castle looks amazing, with the blue and red divide slowly joining together well. The conflicting look of the various characters is fantastic, and Bellaire is a terrific choice for this title.
Best Moment: Oh my god I love the coluring in this title.
Worst Moment: It ended.
Overall: (5/5) Pick up this title. Support it with all your might. This comic is awesome, and if you’re not reading it, then you’re a bad person.
UNCANNY X-MEN #18Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Ron Garney
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
This is the first crossover where I should have been reading two books at once, because quite frankly, Gillen is one seamless mofo. UNCANNY X-MEN 18 reads like pages within the pages of the “final” battle and Rise of Dark Scott Summers over in AVX.
Ingeniously, Gillen melds the two events by using UNCANNY to show us a lovely dinner party between Scott and Emma on the psychic plane, while their bodies get iced, electrocuted, and star shield bitchslapped in the real world. This is truly crossovering done right. I never once felt lost in AVX before I read this issue, but for those of us who wear Team X-Men branded Underoos this was a deliciously sadistic deep dive into the psyches of living gods.
I’ve read and owned every single issue of UNCANNY X-MEN, and have box upon box of runs in all the other X-permutations that have trickled down Marvel’s leg over the years. At this point I’m like an abused wife; even when the X-MEN are bad to me, and I know from the writing or art they don’t love me anymore, I still hang in there because I know with a nerd’s love they can be good again. There have been some horrific issues in recent years, some clusterfuckery with a capital C. Not everyone can write X-MEN, but thankfully the Gillen rises above the pencil wielding troglodytes. X-MEN is all about differentiation of voice. Well, Gillen’s more schizophrenic than Sally Field and Margot Kidder combined because he perfectly captures the gazillion characters living on cloud city Utopia and has since day one of the renumbering earlier this year.
There’s nothing wrong with the X-MEN under Gillen’s charge; I honestly think he’s one of the best to tackle the series. Yet people still have been rallying against AVX. Frankly, I just can’t understand the hate. Have we been here before? Absolutely we have. The Phoenix Force has been a staple in X-Men for forty years or so. But this isn’t a valid argument. Comics should be a recycling of past canon placed into a modern context. These easter eggs from the past used to be something we lived for. So what changed? The deluge of creator-owned titles out there might have something to do with it. New ideas are always more enticing than the comforts of home, but what these new titles lack is history. And in many cases they are a mere pastiche of these original Children of the Atom. Personally, I’ll take the personalities I know versus learning about characters who will most likely be around for only seven issues until the author sells his IP to Hollywood or moves on to a scriptwriting gig somewhere else in tinsel town. There’s a history here, and I want to see that history come back again in a new way. That mission was accomplished, in my opinion.
The other side of the hate debate centers on some poor decisionmaking on the part of both the X-Men and the Avengers. This was most prevalent in the beginning of the series, when it was a battle of ideologies versus a battle against former heroes possessed by a cosmic force. I’ll give the haters some wiggle room here. Aaron architected himself into a corner, and didn’t provide the best rationale from the side of the X-MEN for why they did not want set a Hope Trap on the other side of the universe. I understood it because I had been with the X-Men since Scarlett Witch uttered, “No more mutants.” Essentially, the X-Men will do anything within their power to reignite their race and right now Hope is the only light at the end of that tunnel. Also, if you think about the endgame, what if they did give Hope to the Phoenix Force, she got gobbled up and the fucker still headed for the big blue marble in the sky? Put that in your star spangled pipe and smoke it, Captain American’t.
I won’t deny the fact I’m biased. I have always been far more X than A, but part of that is by Marvel design. MARVEL NOW promises to close this great editorial chasm with the mash-ups of UNCANNY AVENGERS and so forth, so we’ll see. For now, though, the dividing lines are clear and that’s truly the point of AVX and the subsequent teeth gnashing between Scott and Cap. At certain points, you can shoot holes in both of their arguments, showing no one, absolutely NO ONE, has an answer in the face of imminent destruction. Grasping at straws was all anyone could do until the Phoenix Force consumed the now defunct Phoenix Five.
The X-MEN felt better to me than when the Phoenix Five was outside the fray of the AVX battle like the last Sinister World storyline; however, I knew this time would be short-lived. The X-Men in charge of the entire world will never work in the long run, even if they make it a better place. Like the Phoenix, you can only raze for so long before you are left with nothing, and the Marvel universe could never sustain such destruction. Consequences aside, this was a great issue. To see the last vestiges of Scott and Emma’s humanity stripped away was a great conclusion for what was, and a strong catalyst for tomorrow.
HE-MAN & THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #2Writers: James Robinson & Keith Giffen
Art: Phillip Tan & Howard Porter
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler
I must say, there are some interesting things going on in Eternia right now. Earlier this summer I read and reviewed here a digital exclusive release of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #1, which told the tale of a hero from Eternia’s past called Sir Laser-Lot, who had been created by DC head Geoff Johns for what it seemed was the sole purpose of selling figures at the San Diego Comic Con in July. I wasn’t a huge fan of that first book, but its followup and the start of the regular DC miniseries called HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (written by James Robinson and then abruptly replaced by Keith Giffen) was much more interesting as it caught up with He-Man’s alter ego, Prince Adam, living in a version of Eternia where apparently Skeletor has won and altered the minds of every heroic character so they have no idea who they really are.
Fast forward a little over 2 months and we finally have HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #2. Going into this book I did not have my hopes high, despite liking the first issue. I found it very odd that a 6 issue miniseries would switch writers (I’ve read this issue was all Keith Giffen, but the book does credit Robinson as well) after only one issue and assumed this book would be a delayed mess that could not be fixed. Happily, I can report I was completely wrong and the story seamlessly picks up where we left off telling the story of Prince Adam trying to find his way through a desolate, Skeletor-run Eternia. The story sucks you in immediately as you see Adam and other favorite characters have flashes reminding them of their true identities, only to leave them further searching for answers. The characters are written well and I particularly love how Skeletor is portrayed as a vicious, looming presence over all of Eternia.
The artwork in this issue is an excellent complement to the story. You really get to see how run down Eternia looks under Skeletor’s rule. Phillip Tan handles the majority of the pages, while Howard Porter takes over whenever Skeletor is present. The change does not hurt the story in any way, but you can definitely see the difference when they switch off. Porter seems to emphasize and bring out the despair that Skeletor’s reign has had on Eternia, while Tan just keeps Adam’s story moving along. It’s a minor nitpick, but it’s definitely there.
When it comes down to it, I’m just happy to see something positive being done with the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE property. For years I’ve always hated hearing rumors of the characters finally being given a proper platform other than some great figures being made by Mattel only to never see it happen. This Miniseries is a great read and gives hope to any MOTU fan that maybe the franchise’s best moments are still ahead of us.
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THE VICTORIES #2Writer: Michael Avon Oeming
Art: Michael Avon Oeming
Publisher: Dark Horse ComicsReviewer: BottleImp
The artist and co-creator of POWERS is taking a new…well, actually fairly familiar…stab at the superhero genre with this new miniseries. Michael Avon Oeming has so far set the stage for his comic with trappings and dressings that will be instantly recognizable for any comic book reader worth his or her salt. We have the setting: a crime-ridden, corrupt city. We have our hero and narrator: the grim vigilante Faustus. We have a team of superheroes that Faustus is a member of: the titular Victories. And we have a demented, vicious villain who sees himself as a mirror of his nemesis Faustus: the Jackal. Anyone who’s ever been a comic book reader will inevitably draw the same comparisons that I did, ticking off the checklist: Gotham City, the Batman, the Justice League, the Joker. So yeah, THE VICTORIES is thus far little more than Oeming playing around with classic comic book tropes. Once a rarity in the mainstream comic book landscape (early examples that come to mind include Mark Gruenwald’s take on the JLA with SQUADRON SUPREME and, of course, WATCHMEN), it seems like this sort of amalgamation of respectful homage and shameless rip-off has become a comic book trope all its own. So what sets THE VICTORIES apart from all the other Justice League/Avengers/X-Men reimaginings that have littered the comic racks?
Mainly, it’s Oeming’s art. Though I was initially jarred by his cartoony style when I saw it in the pages of POWERS (given the premise of that series, I had anticipated a more realistic style—-though I’m glad that I was wrong), Oeming’s bold, dynamic line and darker, edgier style gives his work an energy and vibrancy that makes his comics visually exciting, no matter how familiar the story may be. THE VICTORIES is no exception to this rule-—there is a dark richness to the pages in this book (aided by deceptively simple and complementary colors by Nick Filardi) that a more “realistic” comic art team would be hard-pressed to achieve. Simply put, Oeming’s greatest strength is in his graphic sensibilities, and these skills are on full display in this issue. There is a sequence where Faustus tackles a criminal, his momentum carrying them both off the edge of a skyscraper roof, that has such an amazing sense of animation that I’d swear that the picture was moving.
I may have given the impression that there is nothing to the writing of this comic beyond a pale imitation of DC’s established universe; that’s not altogether the case. Though there is a sort of JLA doppelganger herein (complete with an as-yet unseen Superman stand-in who is currently on a mission in space), the membership seen here bears little resemblance to any Justice League incarnation that I can remember. Okay, D.D. Mau’s egotism and annoying-as-shit dialogue about busting asses and hitting dance floors is a little bit like the painful dialogue from JLA Detroit’s breakdancing Vibe…but I’m pretty sure that Oeming MEANS for D.D. to be annoying as shit, unlike poor Vibe. Then there’s the interesting plot point of “Float,” the designer drug that was mentioned in the first issue and expanded upon here. Aside from the ability of the drug to make people float—-literally-—side effects of the drug are severe deformity, abnormal growth of the head and limbs that bring to mind the misshapen form of John Merrick. And Oeming’s Batman surrogate Faustus may be a dark vigilante in the manner of Bruce Wayne, but as the reader sees more about Faustus’ state of mind (he’s the narrator, remember), it becomes clear that The Victories’ avenger of the night’s mental status is a far cry from the relative sanity of the Dark Knight…even by extreme Frank Miller standards.
Not altogether original, but enough originality in place to make it interesting. Terrific artwork. Not enough to make THE VICTORIES a groundbreaker or game-changer, but together Oeming’s writing and art make this series worth checking out for those comic book readers who are just looking for something good to read, if not wholly new.
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.
WAVEFORM #1Writer & Artist: Edward Laroche
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Several years ago when I was anointed into the elite ranks of middle management, my company hired a consultant to help all of us rising stars meet our full potential. Our first unit of study was the exploration of self; the first chapter in this first unit was a discussion on the “Lizard Brain.” In short, this is our primordial self, the last vestige of caveman instinct that drives us to bash someone in the face when they ask about ROI or paradigm shifts instead of rationally asking the moron to speak English and say something substantive.
WAVEFORM is the comic extrapolation of this Lizard Brain concept. But instead of the gentle coaxing voice of a consultant willing us to consciously ignore these banal desires, WAVEFORM creator Laroche has devised a world where this is handled pharmaceutically.
What if there was a drug, an anti-viagra if you will, that channels our testosterone away from our junk towards other parts — mainly our strength and the ability to inflict pain on others?
This neo-castrati movement is the foundation for WAVEFORM, but far from the whole story. Laroche weaves in a slew of other themes like the great gender divide, the fundamental relationship blunder of not finding yourself before you try to be with others, and the time-tested truism that the world exists on planes we never often see until we look.
I find it intriguing when male writers choose female protagonists to drive their ideas, and I always heap on an extra level of scrutiny to see if the voice is a guy writing like they believe a woman speaks or if the voice is honest and authentic. I think Laroche found many truisms with Appylonia, or Apple O as she becomes known by the end of this tale.
She starts the book flittering away her days in a dead end job and her nights in dead end relationships. Then, in one fateful girl’s night out, everything changes: she is attacked by the neo-castrati and taken under the wing of the Dyonik Faction, a group hellbent on keeping the natural order of the world in line despite humanity’s perpetual insistence in doing otherwise.
From her conversations with friends to her training montage with her handler from the Dyonik Faction, Laroche successfully makes Apple O a 3-D character with no red and blue glasses required. She is lovelorn, relationship minded, strong, sarcastic and by the end of the tale ready to sacrifice it all for the betterment of mankind.
Of course, things are not all perfect; I think at times the book was rushed. Apple O seemed a little too accommodating to such drastic life changes in such a short period of time. I would have liked to see a few more pages in the book exploring doubt on Apple’s part about joining the faction. She seemed to believe her handler a little too quickly and conveniently for the sake of moving the story forward. Also, she was a pretty cool chick when she was Appylonia versus Apple O; I want to know more about the woman instead of the killing machine.
The book goes blue in certain places and I really couldn’t see why. I’m far from a prude, and always believed sexuality should be celebrated not cloistered, but when two full pages are dedicated to lady diddling I need to have true purpose. I didn’t get that and it’s still shocking enough in this medium to leave a mark as I remember the book’s events.
Laroche does an amazing job with the art in this book; even though it’s in black and white the shading and depth are spot-on; likewise with his mastery of facial expressions. The only part where I think Laroche needs to go back to the drawing board are some of the full body shots. There were times when legs and other body parts seem to be too minimalistic given the exceptional detail of other facets in the panel.
WAVEFORM is an intriguing concept that begs to be discussed as more and more men are made neo-castrati each year through political correctness and human resources. Modern men are expected to turn our lizard brains on and off depending on our partner’s mood these days. WAVEFORM truly made me ask the question, when can we stop living a façade and simply just live?
CAPTAIN AMERICA #17Writers: Ed Brubaker & Cullen Bunn
Artist: Scott Eaton
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Just two more issues to go in Brubaker’s iconic run on CAPTAIN AMERICA, though overall I feel it is ending weaker than it started. It’s amusing to me that when Brubaker launched the new CAPTAIN AMERICA series, I was longing for a Jack Kirby-like smash-up book. Instead I got a superspy adventure story. And now that it’s ending, instead of a superspy adventure story, it’s closer to a Jack Kirby smash-up book (mad bombs and all). I assume Brubaker is just trying to keep us fans on our toes! Unfortunately, I think it’s no surprise that Brubaker is better at superspy adventures than smash-up books.
If you haven’t been following Cap lately, here’s what’s been going down. Queen Hydra has joined forces with Bravo and Baron Zemo. Through a series of short story arcs, they have been setting the stage for a full on revenge match against Captain America. So while Brubaker has been keeping the superspy world alive with a complex villain plan, the short story arcs have been action heavy. This final story arc, “New World Orders”, is the climax of that plan, which is to rip the country apart, causing Captain America’s spirit to weaken so they can finally crush him. To a degree I’m reminded of John Ostrander’s LEGENDS mini-series for DC back in the 80’s, where (again) a charismatic speaker, aided by mind control, turns the country against its superhero population so they can take over. I’d say Ostrander did it better, simply because of the scale. It always seems odd when the world or a whole country is endangered in a solo hero book. That’s more of an AVENGERS plot, because how is this all going on without their notice? Granted, Brubaker does show that the Avengers are busy, and Cap does have his Shield buddies with him, but compared to LEGENDS, which had all the superheroes being affected, not just a single one, it made for a more complete read.
Where it works well are the villains. Brubaker has done a good job of setting them and their master plan up. Where it doesn’t work so well is Cap losing his spirit. As the Falcon himself had said, it’s not like Cap hasn’t dealt with attacks like this before--a villain trying to crush his spirit. So I wish Brubaker had something more believable or gave this more time to develop to understand why it could affect Captain America like this. A nice touch to the story is the dueling girlfriends. Things have cooled off between Cap and Sharon, so Diamondback is trying to get his attention again. This leads to a lot of awkward conversations with each girl as Cap is a little unsure of himself in general these days.
As the artist’s chair has been changing out with every arc, Scott Eaton has become the new penciler. This is his third issue and he’s doing a decent job on the book. He has nice figure work and good action scenes, but I’m not won over by his storytelling. It’s not bad, just not as effective as it could be. Each panel should flow from one to another and show us something different to progress the story. Scott’s panels don’t always do that very well. He’s also drawn a classic tangent ‘no-no’ on page four. Now, I’m not a guy who freaks out over tangents in artwork, but this one is pretty bad: the hand gun in the foreground turns into a shotgun in the background and it’s just weird looking and confusing. Overall, his work is nice.
So two more issues for Brubaker to say goodbye to Cap and company--and Steve Epting will be returning to draw those final issues! It should be a good time.
WINTER SOLDIER #10
I know it comes with the territory given the recently developed past of the title character, but I’m kind of burnt out on brainwashing already reading this book. It’s not so much circumstances around why this story is happening and so on – I’m fine with this arc being about old ghosts from the program that produced the Winter Soldier coming back to haunt Bucky – but when you get to multiple layers of programming I’m more inclined to believe you’re going to try more patiences than rivet your audience. That said, at the least I appreciated the lengths Brubaker and Guice went to with this issue to impress upon us just how much the Black Widow means to the One-Armed One. It’s rare enough that you get a burgeoning relationship between two well-established characters such as these instead of one that is basically boiled down to two well-toned people in the same occupation boning. Well, they bone a lot too. Duh. But if there is any takeaway in a story that is based on ground somewhat well trod since the re-emergence of the character it is a very heart-warming depiction of what he feels about Natasha and the peril that she is now in. If there are any stakes on the line that are believably investment worthy, it is that relationship that has been front-and-center for quite a few years now. - Humphrey Lee
STUMPTOWN: THE CASE OF THE BABY IN THE VELVET CASE #1
It really feels like there should be more of this book around but there just isn’t. Obviously not everyone is a Greg Rucka (or an Ed Brubaker, Brian Michael Bendis, etc.) and able to drop out a detective story like it’s a lose penny out of pocket, but you would just figure modern day private detective comics would be a little more plentiful. Not that I’m complaining; too much of a good thing can be bad, and STUMPTOWN is definitely a very good thing. It’s the proper mix of what I want in a private dick (hah!) tale: a shit-talking lead that does not back down but always gets in over her head, rather seemingly straightforward cases that end up being vicious little excursions, and a locale that itself feels like a character. In this episode it’s our lead Dex taking a case to find a missing guitar and, like any good P.I. story, ends with a gun in her face. Obviously this is a pretty big leap in events and I can’t wait to see the details unfold as to why shit hit the fan so fast and how Dex and her attitude handle it. Basically, I just can’t wait to read more Greg Rucka detective stories. - Humphrey Lee
BATMAN & ROBIN #0
I honestly believe that this issue right here solidifies Peter Tomasi as the person to make me most care about Damien as character, more so than even his creator Grant Morrison ever has. While Morrison and a handful of other writers have done well to establish the son of the Bat and Talia Al Ghul as a vicious little shit, but it’s Tomasi and his depiction of his rigorous past that make me buy the character as the sadist he is, and this is a good issue for driving it all home. The day-in-and-out training that Talia put the child through for his first ten years on the planet is enough to show how much of a miracle it is that Batman has been able to rein him in as much as he has. The annual birthday beatings that she and the child engaged in push things to a whole other level to make one wonder what Talia was selling to get the Bat to put his dick in that much crazy. But the underlying point remains: Damien is his son and his loves him and he is also one of the biggest time bombs waiting to go off in the Batverse since Adam West carried that damn prop down the pier and Tomasi and Gleason are selling the hell out of the tension this awkward father/son relationship brings to this part of the DCU. - Humphrey Lee
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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