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AICN COMICS REVIEWS: DJANGO UNCHAINED! HAWKEYE! HOAX HUNTERS! BIONIC WOMAN! DARK CRYSTAL! & MORE!

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)

Advance Review: DJANGO UNCHAINED #1
AVENGERS ARENA #1
Indie Jones Presents DARK CRYSTAL Vol.II
30 DAYS OF NIGHT/CRIMINAL MACABRE: FINAL NIGHT #1
Indie Jones presents SANTA VS NAZIZS Vol.1
CHANGE #1
Advance Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE #15
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #10
Indie Jones presents IRON OR, THE WAR AFTER Vol.1
SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE LIVERPOOL DEMON #1
TEAM 7 #3
Advance Review: HAWKEYE #6
HOAX HUNTERS VOL. 1
Indie Jones presents GALAXY MAN #4
AVENGERS ARENA #1
Indie Jones presents PARIAH, MO #1
BIONIC WOMAN #6
Advance Review: AQUAMAN #15


Advance Review: In stores today!

DJANGO UNCHAINED #1

Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Artist: R.M Guera
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


I usually shun comic adaptations of movies, TV shows, and video games. Frankly, I don’t have the level of undying fandom to ANY of those three properties that makes me want to relive them in non-moving or non-playable format. I like new, shiny and original, hence why comics have remained my favorite medium for thirty plus years. Comics have always been the most cost-effective way to unleash unbridled imagination. It’s why comic cons are now filled with producers and directors looking to boost material for delivery to the illiterate and spoon-fed masses. But when we regress properties back to comics, it’s usually a sad hollow version of the original source.

Of course, my job as a reviewer sometimes necessitates breaking this cardinal shunning, and it usually ends as an exercise in frustration that makes me second-guess my fervor for the original property and the existence of a benevolent God.

When DJANGO UNCHAINED 1 dropped on my doorstep I was wary. One, I haven’t seen the movie yet, and I will cut the throat of any man, woman or comic company that ruins a Tarantino movie for me. Two, there was nary a creator mentioned on the cover. It certainly gave the cover a beautiful cinematic feel (since it borrowed directly from the movie poster), but I buy half my books these days based on creators versus a zeal’s devotion to a set of characters (except X-Men) or story. Three, could someone honestly be so arrogant to think they can capture the essence of Tarantino’s unique poetry in dialog for an adaptation? Wary…vewy vewy wary.

It was actually Mrs. Douche who, after hearing my ridiculous theory, said if I wasn’t going to open it, she would. Being the gentleman I am, I agreed to take the bullet for my beloved. She also whispered into my ear an epiphany I had known long ago, but since buried. “Didn’t you say when we first started dating PULP FICTION dialog was written in comic styling and KILL BILL was comic violence come to life?”

Shit…why is she always right?

So I opened page 1 to be greeted by a message from Quentin himself. He talked about how DJANGO was inspired by his love of Western comic books as a kid. He also talked about how this comic series would deliver his complete vision for DJANGO UNCHAINED, the vision that doesn’t get watered down by Hollywood suits, marketing morons and flaccid focus groups.

Page 2 delivers the scene that’s burned in our brains since the first preview trailer: the fateful meeting between Django shackled in a chain gang and his savior, thedDentist turned bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Page 2 also revealed what would squash my last lingering reservation about this adaptation: artist R.M. Guera. Guera is the master of bringing the desert to life, as he exhibited in Jason Aaron’s SCALPED. His use of shadows to convey scenes is bar none and I knew immediately he would rescue panels from pacing sluggishness that could easily come with Tarantino’s propensity for weighty monologues.

We’ve seen most of Issue 1 in the trailers. Certainly not the deep dives of dialog, but the scenes were all there-– the rescue, the set-up to find Django’s wife, the killing of the first men that took his wife and that beautifully blue dandy suit Django sports and why is all revealed.

High violence, characters that live 1,000 leagues beyond the page and expert pacing (I assume delivered by Guera) are what await you inside DJANGO’s meaty first 40 pages.

If you love Tarantino, and you love comics, unchain your prejudices against adaptations and grab this book.

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.


AVENGERS ARENA #1

Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Kev Walker
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee


Usually, I come into these reviews with a “plan” – a word I use in the absolute loosest sense of it – as far as how I intend to go at the piece. Usually it’s just a hit list of details to address – brief synopsis of plot, character or artistic moments I liked, a breakdown of pacing beats and whatnot I liked – and wrap them all up in a bow, maybe figure out some anecdotal lead-in paragraph to set it all up (ta-da!). Most times, most, this implies I know exactly what my feelings are on the book and that it’s time to present it to you kindly readers who tune in most weeks to read through my lead-in full of dribble to get to the vivisection/opinion bits. Sad to say, this week I’m not sure what the hell the opinion bits are because I still haven’t made my bloody mind up on this book. Bad @$$hole, no cookie, I know.

Okay, here’s the hang up I have: I’m not sure I’m all on board with the premise of the book. Of course, I knew what I was getting into (for the most part) when I initially saw the cover: Like most geeks I’ve seen “Battle Royale”, and with the rise to prominence of that other “let’s pit teens together to murder each other” saga, I had a feeling it was just a matter of time before one of the comic companies (and I just knew it would be Marvel) would hop on this trend, as they are wont to do. The outlier was Dennis Hopeless, to be honest, as this was the first time (that I can recall) that I’ve read one of his comic books and was unsure how such a book would be handled. Surprisingly enough, after reading this issue I at the least felt reassured that the characters within, the majority of which are from two of the best handled groups of teenage superheroes we’ve seen pretty much ever inside of RUNAWAYS and the recently ended AVENGERS ACADEMY, were very respectful to the characters, considering the circumstances. The circumstances, unfortunately, I feel still rub me the wrong way.

Well-executed and managed exploitative death is still exploitative death as far as my brainwaves determine it to be, even if it is “just” C-list or worse characters. And I’m not just saying this because of the big death that happened this issue (and I’m going to avoid using names here to try and stay spoiler-free but, sorry, this is probably spoilers) considering it happened to a character I’ve grown to enjoy over the years they developed in the book they were in, as well as the relationship that character enjoyed within that title as it was a very lively and well-realized one and now it is gone. Just like that relationship was handled, the death hit all the right points and for that I give props to the team involved for how things were done. It’s when I think beyond this as just a series in and of itself and what the ramifications are of killing off these guys and gals, I’m not sure I see a better Marvel Universe for it, even if a bunch of so-called “chaff” gets their time in the sun before they (hopefully in a memorable fashion) croak and we reestablish Arcade as a badass and elevate him in the supervillain echelon a couple levels. It’s also really easy to take the skeptical route (I mean, I guess I’m basically halfway there) and to write it off as “it’s comics, death never stays” and acknowledge this as a way for Arcade to not only get a heel bump but for some of these characters to go out on a high (or shocking or unexpected) note before being brought back again with their own bumps, but I’m not sure that makes it any better, either.

It’s that line of reasoning, though, that leads me to say that if you don’t have this hang up, shit yeah, this book should probably be given a try. The limited character interactions any readers who are and are not initiated to these characters will either feel like they’ve done them justice or will more likely than not impress upon you the potential someone like me may be seeing possibly being squandered. Better yet, it may interest you in the stories a lot of these characters originated from and if books like RUNAWAYS and AVENGERS ACADEMY get a few more eyes on them, all the better. Despite my (admittedly biased) viewpoint on the events of this book it is definitely a good book from an execution standpoint, but it happens to be one I simply believe to have limited upside for the type of story it is telling, at least from a finality standpoint. Hell, despite all this text you would believe I’ve already talked myself out of future issues of AA, but the quality of this debut alone leads me to think it’s good enough to try a couple more times in the hopes I’ll be proven wrong. Maybe Murder World may be a place I can find myself interested in visiting each month, despite the anticipated grisly returns. At the least I owe that to an up-and-coming writer who has already shown me some goods and to the characters within I find myself being concerned for, given the stakes of this book; may the odds be ever in their favor. That’s that thing they say in that book. Cheers….

Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.


THE DARK CRYSTAL: CREATION MYTHS VOL. II

Writer: Joshua Dysart
Illustrators: Alex Sheikman and Lizzy John
Publisher: Archaia
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty


There really couldn’t have been a better weekend for me to review THE DARK CRYSTAL: CREATION MYTHS VOL. II, because it happened to go down on the same weekend that I saw THE HOBBIT. Yes, I watched the little dwarves in super-speedy 48 frames per second and as far as I’m concerned, the haters can suck it, because I thought it was magnificent. Anyway, just like my return to Middle Earth, going back to “the age of wonder” was just as glorious, because the DARK CRYSTAL movie was one of my favorites as a child and coincidentally marks the first time I ever pleasured myself to a puppet. Hey, it’s not creepy when you’re nine, and I know I’m not alone--just Google “Sexy Kira.” Now, aside from that catchy tune from The Crystal Method, the movie has continued to live on in my memories because I had such affection for the characters--even those big black bugs who froze in place at the sound of Benedictine monks disguised as giant rats.

So what does that have to do with the graphic novel from Archaia Entertainment? Quite a lot, actually, as it still has to withstand the scrutiny of being compared to the existing product. Well, the good news is, this is a prequel, and like Volume One takes place long before the events that transpired in the movie. That means it can pretty much say and do anything it wants because it’s not trying to regurgitate the cud we’ve already digested. But what gives Archaia the right to even re-visit this world in the first place? Brian Shroud, who is not only one of the talents responsible for the original movie, but also one of the driving forces behind its animated vanguard. The result is a book so thoroughly realized and so wonderfully fleshed out that I felt like I never left the theater. It’s a terrific extension of the world we already know, and readers will revel in the re-introduction of familiar faces – along with getting to meet a few new ones, too. The art is faithful to the muppetty look of the film and doesn’t try to clean it up, which was a big concern of mine, because movie producers have been known to sterilize characters who are cheaper to make with CGI the second time around, even at the expense of their on-screen soul. Oh, hello, Yoda.

Would fans unfamiliar with the DARK CRYSTAL enjoy this? Well, from my point of view, that’s hard to predict. I always like to think that good storytelling and fantastic artwork, something CREATION MYTHS achieves on both accounts, can win over any reader regardless of their familiarity with the brand. In this case I’m not so sure, primarily because it’s so rich and detailed. My advice would be to watch the movie first, which dammit you should have done already, then circle back and enjoy a terrific second act. This is an example of our industry at its finest.

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.

30 DAYS OF NIGHT/CRIMINAL MACABRE: FINAL NIGHT #1

Writer: Steve Niles
Art: Christopher Mitten
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics and IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo


My long time hetero life partner Kire Carlson over at Bibliodiscoteque introduced me to Cal McDonald years ago. He wasn’t the type of fella I expected to meet, this one. His stink wafted through me. He reeked of alcohol and afterlife and the sort of thoughts that regular folks just didn’t think. I came in mid-conversation, but feeling welcomed, I sat down and poured myself a drink.

“I was face-down in my apartment, experimenting with the adhesive properties of vomit to hardwood floors, when, of course, the phone rang. It sounded like a hammer against a steel barrel inside my skull. I groaned and peeled my head from the floorboards.”

I liked this guy already.

Cal isn’t the type to come around on a regular basis, like some other “heroes” I spend time with. He dips in and out of my life whenever he damn well pleases, but it’s always good to see his ragged carcass casting a shadow on my front door. He stumbles in, all grumbles and bandages, recounts his recent adventures in a throat cancer slur-a-thon as we drink and smoke ourselves into a haze and then he’s out again, doing what needs doing. What no one else has the stones for.

He swung by recently to recount his latest series of unfortunate events. He put on a good front, but having known him so long (as well as anyone CAN know a stained brick-wall like him), I couldn’t help but see that he was a touch nervous. Or maybe that was just the black, oil-spill vomitus speaking. Something was wrong, besides being newly dead. He had some things to say about a new pair o’stems he ran into by the name of Alice Blood. I thought he was joking, a name like that, but Cal just stared at me with that squint of his until I let him continue. Seems Alice knows a thing or two about Barrow, Alaska that most people chalked off as tabloid fodder. Bat-Boy, stuff like that. But it happened. I was there, and it was something to see. Vampires finally got smart, decided to enjoy a 30 day long moonlit stroll and all you can bite buffet. The survivors of that first attack, Eben and Stella, have been through the ringer ever since. Eben sacrificed himself to save the day (or night, actually) but was brought back by Stella. And they just recently traded places, and Eben’s none too tickled about his gal being face up in the ground. He’s set his sights on us, the humans.

Turns out, this “war” that Cal’s been hearing about might just be heading our way, like NOWSville. It’s already started. The no-good Barrow Boys are here and the casualties, they are a-risin’. The usually difficult to “kill” ghouls aren’t even safe. Without giving too much away, turns out the BarrowVamps are coming after everyone.

This might be Cal’s biggest challenge to date, but with his buds Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten by his side, I have no doubts that he can handle whatever rolls over him.

If you want to listen to some Criminal Macabre-inspired tunes while you down your whiskey.. slam this into your ears.

JD can be found hosting the PopTards Podcast, drawing a weekly webcomic, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating for a living, and Booking his Face off over here. Follow his twitter @poptardsgo. His talkback name is PopTard_JD. He is also now co-hosting another Comic Book discussion show on Party934.com alongside Bohdi Zen. They discuss comics and play music, check it out live every Saturday from 4-5pm.


SANTA CLAUS VS NAZIS Vol.1

Writer: Benjamin Dickson
Art: Gavin Mitchell & Miroslav Mrva
Publisher: Aces Weekly
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


Aces Weekly is an online anthology comic and a fantastic source for imaginative and well written webseries such as RETURN OF THE HUMAN, SHOOT FOR THE MOON, PARADISE MECHANISM, PROGENATOR, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, & COMBAT COLIN. In their second volume they have titles like LEGION ZERO, BLUE CAT, CATALYST ISLAND, THE KEPT WOMAN, THE CAT THAT CAME TO CALL, and the comic I am checking out today, SANTA CLAUS VS THE NAZIS.

While the title might seem trite, the story taking things pretty seriously as Winston Churchill stays up late to see Santa on a foggy Christmas Eve in 1940 and asks him to use his power against the Nazi Army which is spreading across Europe like a plague. Though Santa refuses to help, he can’t help but feel for the innocents that are perishing because of the Nazis. But events unfold making Santa realize that he may not have a choice but to intervene.

My favorite parts of this first volume involved a somber and reserved Santa who knows his place in the world and how his power would corrupt if his intervention went beyond that of rewarding good boys and girls. I loved the moral dilemma that Santa faces here, even though it’s pretty obvious by the title Santa will be kicking Nazi ass soon.

The art by Gavin Mitchell and Miroslav Mrva is one part old timey and another part modern cartoony giving this story an antique feel to it, never straying too much into cartoon but balancing out the humorous moments with the heavier ones well.

Benjamin Dickson proves to juggle the serious and humorous tones well also. If you’re looking for just the right mix of action, depth, and humor (and a little historical revisionism tossed in for good cheer) SANTA CLAUS VS THE NAZIS is worth taking a chance on—one of many fantastic stories highlighted in the ongoing Aces Weekly Webseries which updates with new stories and content every week!

Check out this trailer for SANTA CLAUS VS THE NAZIS below!





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.


CHANGE #1

Writer: Ales Kot
Art: Morgan Jeske
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler


CHANGE is a weird thing. No, that’s not me trying to make a point about some shifting theme in the comic book world, but instead it’s my literal view of the book I just read. CHANGE #1 from Image comics is a very weird book. Going into it, I didn’t know what to expect. The basic premise is there’s a spaceman, a rapper and a screenwriter and somehow they all have something to do with the universe’s fate. Yeah, that made about as much sense explaining it now as it did to me as I read it. I’m still scratching my head at it all wondering if I just read something to be talked about, or a book that is convoluted and all over the place simply just to be that way.

My gut, besides telling me it’s time to eat a sandwich, is telling me that CHANGE is just being weird for the attention being weird gets, and that alone makes this a hard book for me to recommend. Writer Ales Kot tells the story in an almost dreamlike state where nothing really makes sense. There’s some arguing, a screenwriting plot, a mention of Atlantis, some creepy guys watching surveillance video, a man in outer space and then an attack from a secret society for no particular reason. My brain is starting to hurt just thinking about it again. My hope is that a grand story will come together over this 4 issue miniseries, but I just don’t see it at all right now.

My favorite part of the book is the artwork. Morgan Jeske creates some beautiful images that play well with the constantly sporadic story. I really do enjoy the dark weird vibe that the story has at moments, but it’s so confusing that the artwork is just not enough to make the average reader want to pick this up.

I’m curious to see what comes of this story. I would love to be able to look back and feel like an idiot for questioning a well-told story that fell into place, but right now CHANGE is just too odd for me believe that.

You can follow The Writing Rambler on his blog here and follow on Twitter @Writing_Rambler !


Advance Review: In stores this week!

JUSTICE LEAGUE #15

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis & Gary Frank
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


No other title in the New 52 has polarized fandom like JUSTICE LEAGUE. From one side the popcorn eaters have said it’s a tantalizing thrill ride that thankfully hasn’t gone too deep into morose waters of heavy emotions from the team and global angst. I believe the word “fun” is the term they often use. Also, the K-5 set have gone absolutely gonzo for JUSTICE LEAGUE, making Johns and Lee comic books’ Phineas and Ferb.

Then there are the comic erudite, those who have read so many books that they expected JUSTICE LEAGUE to not only traverse new grounds, but to do so in a way that would bring forth an originality of content that would leave Grant Morrison agog. My complete objectiveness has allowed me to see both sides. I was forgiving of the first few issues mainly because of the excitement surrounding the New 52. I didn’t feel we could pass judgment until an antagonist surfaced.

Well, that villain came and went in one page. Literally! With one two-page splash decrying “I am Darkseid,” a Parademon Cocksicle sticking out of the ocean, and a one page trip to Apocalips, the world’s greatest heroes banded together and no one was really sure why, least of all our heroes. Again, I was forgiving, trying to look at the whole universe and DC’s mantra to offer books to fans of all ages. I figured if the kids dig it, groovy, I’ll simply go wade in more adult waters.

Then arc two turned the tide, but not in a good way. The five years before excuse went away, yet coming forward a half decade offered no maturation of this team, ad nothing jibed with each hero’s solo title. Barry and Hal were still the two Coreys. Azzarello has been portraying Wonder Woman as a dark godslayer and protector; in JUSTICE LEAGUE she liked ice cream. Superman is all over the map from title to title; in JUSTICE LEAGUE, though, he just moped and hit things while SUPERMAN and ACTION battled for “whose personality is it anyway?” And the second arc’s story was just meh. Not a ton of fun watching the world’s greatest heroes battle their psyches.

Then came the kiss that made the fans of Lois Lane spontaneously combust from blood boiling rage, but it also moved the needle ever closer to an intriguing team dynamic for JUSTICE LEAGUE. Couple this wanton super affection with Batman slapping a Bang Bros. secret camera on Superman’s back and we began to see wafts of the Johns we know and love.

Some will say this change was spurred by Lee hitting the happy trails. I don’t think any of us know how Lee and Johns developed the story, so this is true speculation. If Lee was plotting things, though, with the art coming first, this theory more than treads water. Johns needs smaller panels with faces to thrive. Big bodacious poses just ain’t where he’s comfortable. So with the right artist in place and some real personality for the remaining team members we enter the first big crossover for JUSTICE LEAGUE with “Throne of Atlantis.”

JUSTICE LEAGUE 15 delivers on its 42 Point Font cover exclamation – this is indeed A BOLD NEW ERA! And it succeeds for every reason the past 14 issues have faltered.

Epic destruction is the order of the day. After a missile test is sabotaged it sends a barrage of ballistics that give the denizens of Atlantis the Long Johns deep fryer treatment. However, not every mermaid and merman end up cooked; there’s still plenty left to initiate Phase I of the Atlantean Attack plan to…wait for it…drown the Eastern seaboard. After watching countless hours of the Japanese tsunami on YouTube I figured I would be pretty desensitized to comic destruction. Ivan Reis does wonderful work, though, trumping reality with epic size waves that send Metropolis and Gotham (sing it with me) uhnda da sea, uhnda da sea…Lois, it’s better down where it’s wetter just wait and seeeeeee. If you appreciate good art, there’s a two page spread that one could stare at for five minutes – you’ll know it when you see it.

One could argue that we’ve had big images in JUSTICE LEAGUE prior and that the Darkseid run had thousands of parademons. The problem though was every single page was a bombastic spectacle; with issue 15 the epic is juxtaposed with the closer views of real life. Arthur helping Batman catch a criminal. Superman and Wonder Woman finally going on a date in their civvies (with a very nice explanation on why glasses are such an effective disguise). And, of course, the grand reveal that Aquaman helped craft the plans that drowned several million people.

Another phenomenal aspect of this JUSTICE LEAGUE arc is the grand villain, the King of Atlantis and Aquaman’s half-brother, the fully Atlantean Orm. All right, I’ll admit I’m cheating here. All of the Orm build-up happened over in Aquaman’s title, but honestly, what fan of DC isn’t reading AQUAMAN right now? He’s the most interesting thing in scales since Daryl Hannah took a bath in Splash and he’s probably the most three dimensional character in the DCU right now. Also, JUSTICE LEAGUE should be an amalgam that brings books, titles and events together, instead of trying to be the fulcrum from which the universe expands.

For once SHAZAM wasn’t the best thing in JUSTICE LEAGUE, but make no mistake: the back-up that should be a full title continues to deliver. Billy lets adulthood get to his head and we leave with the first encounter between Billy and Black Adam.

Throne of Atlantis is to action what Death of the Family is to horror – together they show that the superhero genre has many places to go yet other than deconstruction.


AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #10

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


With the all Avengers books out there flying around, I always feel that AVENGERS ASSEMBLE is the ‘red headed step child’- no offense to real red headed step children, unless you’re Danny Bonaduce. Even when Bendis was writing it, it came off like a kid’s book that no one was really paying attention to. And seriously, with so many Avengers books, who could blame anyone? Now two issues in with DeConnick writing, the focus is this still on superhero adventuring over the melodrama that the other Avengers books get into.

In DeConnick’s first issue, she peppered the heck out of it with humor; not so much in this issue. The pretext of the challenge between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner is gone, though I’m sure one of them will claim victory at the end of the story arc. This issue is more a straightforward superhero adventure. Since I found most of the humor in the first book clumsy, I found this an improvement. DeConnick isn’t playing it completely straight, though, as character interaction still has a hint of flippant humor too it.

Plotwise, Deconnick has revealed the big bad of the story, Yun Guang Han, a villain very keen to make a name for himself. His threat level is definitely that of a James Bond villain, but he looks more like a standard Capcom STREET FIGHTER thug. Like the typical Bond villain, he’s secured the assistance of a morally suspect scientist, an army of faceless goons, plus some kind of world-killing virus. It’s all pretty interesting, though I’m curious how he will stand up to Thor. His face off with Captain America this issue was pretty good. Another interesting piece to the story is how the Hulk has been infected with the’ bacterial organisms’. I’d love to see some kind of alien life form try to spawn off the big green smashing machine.

Two things that rubbed me wrong in this issue were how the Avengers got the intel on the villain’s plane--seems massively convenient and totally out of nowhere. I’m also a little bored of the concept of the other Avengers fighting the Hulk. Heck, this just happened in Hickman’s AVENGERS #1 this month as well. So as cool as it is, it loses its impact if it happens every six months or so.

Caselli’s artwork has improved a lot with this issue as well. His great looking figures and faces didn’t have as many clunky panels as last issue. The panel of Captain America landing on the airplane was pretty awesome looking. In fact, the whole sequence of Captain America in this issue was well done.

If Deconnick and Caeslli can keep improving with each issue, this could become an amazing book, but that might be jumping ahead too much right now. As of now, it’s solid superhero yarn.


Advance Review: In stores today!

IRON OR, THE WAR AFTER Vol.1

Writer/Artist: S.M. Vidaurri
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment
Reviewer: MajinFu


In his debut graphic novel, released today from Archaia Entertainment, Shane-Michael Vidaurri weaves a tale of espionage and political intrigue following an unnamed war, relayed through a tranquil winter setting that belies some of the story’s unfortunate occurrences. IRON explores the natures of conflict and conviction, as both saturate one generation and then permeate into the next. The plot begins with James Hardin, a rogue who has run away with government files. What happens next is a string of misunderstandings and decisive actions as the characters engage a war they thought had already ended. Fans of movies like TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY or perhaps FARGO will enjoy the unhurried development of plot threads and realistically portrayed characters (animal heads excluded of course) as they strive to impede or propel the conflict that plagues their world.

The story is all well and good, but perhaps the greatest strength of Vidaurri’s work is his presentation. The imagery looks as if it’s mostly illustrated via watercolor and it looks beautiful and tranquil on every page. All players in the story are presented in anthropomorphic form, perfectly-suited to each character. It’s a very clever way of succinctly conveying character traits without amplifying IRON’s pleasing subtleties. If I had any criticism for this book, I think the calm nature of the visuals may sometimes dull the impact of some of the more violent scenes, but perhaps this was intended to maintain a steady tone throughout the story, as intimate embraces and violent strikes are presented on a similar plane.

The story has a bit of a leisurely pace but eventually escalates, as these neary-human beings drift across the snowy terrain chasing the ghosts of their pasts. The layouts are deliberately simple, with numerous full page spreads, sometimes with a single, large panel in the middle to emphasize a crucial moment of character or plot development. The book looks altogether unique, which sets it apart from a great deal of other work on the shelves, lulling you in with the serenity of the visuals instead of the conspiracy within the plot.


SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE LIVERPOOL DEMON #1

Writer: Leah Moore & John Reppion
Artist: Matt Triano
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Lyzard


It seems as if Sherlock Holmes is well on his way to going the path of vampires: immortal, omnipresent, and bled of originality. But I am not the type to judge a piece prior to reading or viewing it. In my mind, a true fan of Conan Doyle’s creation (who Doyle didn’t even like himself) would be excited for another opportunity to follow the world famous consulting detective on yet another adventure. By this point, Holmes has solved more mysteries by various authors besides Doyle. Much of the popularity of Sherlock is based on different fans’ takes on him. So whether SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE LIVERPOOL DEMON remains faithful to the original character matters little to me.

But for those who do care, he is. Writers Leah Moore & John Reppion keep Holmes snarky and arrogant, a side effect less of a demeaning nature but more the necessity for him to explain himself and his deductions to others. Artist Matt Triano also portrays Holmes classically: tall, thin, sharp nose--hardly the Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr., or Johnny Lee Miller seen today.

The titular demon is hardly part of this issue. We open with Holmes showing off his superior skills to the local constabulary, apprehending a criminal just as she is about to make her mistake. Then we are transferred to what I can only describe as a couple of late 1800s droogs, a la A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. We learn little more than just their charactesr before returning to Holmes and Watson. An old university buddy of Watson, Mr. Denby, and his friends come across the detecting duo prior to their train ride home to London, roping in Holmes for drinks. Cut to the police breaking up a riot that led to one of their own being battered. But what do all of these storylines have to do with the mysterious demon in the sky?

If the creators are going to remain true to the source material, as they seem to be doing, then I don’t expect any answers until the last issue. However, this means that the dialogue needs to be spot on and the artwork dynamic in order to maintain the reader’s attention.

The speech is accurate, though whenever phonetic Cockney is thrown there is bound to be some break in the flow. I was a fan of Triano’s drawings in regard to the character design, in particular his expressive facial work. But the structure, more than the gibberish of the droogs, threw me off. A traditional Holmes story does not delineate from Holmes and Watson. However, my complaint isn’t over fidelity, but of transition. In my summary I described the various storylines set up in the issue, but I could hardly tell you where or when they all took place. Upon returning to the main story, there was temporal distortion, gaps that felt almost as if pages were missing.

I would imagine that the main audience for a title such as this would be fans of Sherlock Holmes. In that case, SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE LIVERPOOL DEMON is a reverent portrayal. For those like me, who toss fidelity out the door when reading adaptations, then I’d say that the story and characters are fun, but don’t expect even in the next issue (THE SAVAGE) to get any real answers. Just enjoy the ride and hope that the story does not become convoluted or weighed down by its multiple sub-plots.

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.


TEAM 7 #3

Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist(s): Julian Gopez and Jimbo Salgado
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth


TEAM 7 #3 is an improvement, but still has some flaws holding it back.

So far the previous issues of TEAM 7 were pretty underwhelming. A shame when such a fun concept as uniting a bunch of badasses into the ultimate black ops team has so much trouble kicking things off. But fear not, TEAM 7 #3 offers a faint glint of hope for this group of bad-mannered combatants.

Following up on their findings from issue #2, the team has traveled to Sentinel Island in search of the enigmatic Black Diamond. Upon arrival the team discovers that another squad of unprincipled mercs also desires this shadowy jewel, and has no quarrels with slaying the local inhabitants as a bonus. Now the team is in a race to reach the diamond first with some surprising supernatural assistance from a character known as the Essence. The ending exposes a well-known DC villain and some early possibilities regarding Slade Wilson’s future alter ego.

I have to say that as a whole, this issue is a big improvement over the last two. That doesn’t make it a flaw-free book, but rather a step in the right direction. At the very least, it will get me to purchase the next issue to see where this is all going.

Jordan’s writing has improved some with issue #3; perhaps he is getting a better feel for the characters. Although he still employs a narrative approach with the storytelling (this time from Slade’s POV) it is utilized in a less heavy-handed way and does fit Slade’s method of lateral thinking. The only real problem I had with this story was the obligatory attempt to keep Higgins involved in this mission--Waller’s comment that she would prefer if Higgins was leading this mission in place of Slade, but can’t due to the injuries he sustained in the previous issue. Okay, so if he was so badly injured, why the hell is he even tagging along?! Further, he isn’t even utilized in this issue, so shouldn’t he have sit this one out? Absurdly, in the one or two panels he appears in, he seems to be doing just fine.

I’m sure some will complain about the artwork, though I felt it was a preferable and suitable change to issues 1 & 2. A book like TEAM 7’s art should carry a more tenacious and rough flavor, as opposed to panels that look clean and colorful. I’ve heard that Julian Gopez and Jimbo Salgado weren’t the original artists assigned to TEAM 7, so perhaps they are a little pressed for time. A couple of the establishing shots in this issue really stood out and set the right temperament for this tale. In some ways this issue felt comparable to an Indiana Jones movie or an H. Rider Haggard novel. On the down side, there are some pages that I had to do a double take to follow what was happening.

So while TEAM 7 may not be the greatest thing since THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, I think issue #3 shows some potential. In the same way an infant takes those first baby steps, TEAM 7 is starting to develop. Let’s just hope there are enough objects in the room for this baby to hold onto so it doesn’t take the inevitable first faceplant too soon.


Advance Review: In stores today!

HAWKEYE #6

Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: David Aja
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


HAWKEYE is one of Marvel’s best series. Period. Done. Fact.

While I will attest to loving DAREDEVIL and am digging what Rucka did with PUNISHER, HAWKEYE is the solo series with a powerless superhero to beat. I’ve always knew Hawkeye was a cool character. Sure he wears purple and used to have a Wolverine style mask (true story; when I first saw Hawkeye in a comic, I thought he was Wolverine), but don’t put that against him. Out of all of the heroes in the Marvel U, aside from Moon Knight, which I am waiting for them to get right, Hawkeye has been one of my faves.

I’m not the biggest Fraction fan. At his worst, he is Bendis-light—relying too much on the conversational/sitcom-like style and too little on action, but I have read some very strong stories from him. While I felt that he was getting stale on IRON MAN and very lackluster on THOR, it seems he really has found his niche in HAWKEYE. Here the story exemplifies Clint Barton’s character—slightly whimsical, snarky, and full of attitude. Sure at times, some of the clever plays with words can feel a bit too cute (Fraction substitutes mumbles and background chatter with clever wordisms like “neighbor murmuring” and “obscene gerund” for curse words), still he doesn’t go too overboard with it to be obnoxious about it.

In this issue, Hawkeye has a fun chat with Tony Stark about Christmas lights, takes on a neighborhood gang, has an intervention with lil’ Hawkeye Kate Bishop who I love in this series as the more mature Hawkeye often telling man-child Clint Barton to grow the hell up, and a fun conversation with his neighbor about the proper pronunciation of his super hero name. All in all, another fun issue with some of the most enjoyable dialog I’ve read in comics a long time on par with Peter David’s X-FACTOR in terms of fun sitcomy wordplay.

Illustrated with deft and precision by the uniquely simplistic David Aja, HAWKEYE is Marvel’s best series…I already said that, but it’s worth saying again ‘cause it’s simply true.


HOAX HUNTERS VOL. 1: MURDER, DEATH, AND THE DEVIL

Writers: Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley
Artists: JM Ringuet, Axel Medellin, and Emilio Laiso
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: The Dean


Sometimes I really hate the standard team-building storyline. The prolonged “will they or won’t they?” approach that everyone takes in getting the group together is one of my least favorite things in comic team storytelling. Thankfully, HOAX HUNTERS doesn't waste time with any of that. Steve Seeley and Michael Moreci cut right to the mystery and intrigue you want out of a title like this, supplementing the difficult introductory phase of a new series with some really interesting characters amidst a fairly unique premise that keeps things fresh, exciting, and delightfully bizarre.

The Hoax Hunters are a team of myth busting adventurers similar to what you might come across on Syfy or the Travel Channel, but the real intrigue here is with what happens behind the scenes. As they debunk local legends or monster tales in front of the camera, they’re simultaneously covering up the horrifying truth that these ghoulish tales are all too real while they keep the supernatural world in check. In this first volume of the series, we see the team and the dangers they face grow as they shoot new episodes in Russia, Louisiana and New Jersey, while Moreci and Seeley quickly move the story along from one issue to the next.

There are times where the story moves along almost too quickly, though. The idea of HOAX HUNTERS can be taken in any number of directions (straight up horror title, slow character driven sci-fi, “Ghostbusters”-like comedy), and there’s a bit of all of it tested out here in this first collection, but there are some really great characters and ideas here that I wish could have been fleshed out a little more. The creative team here deserves all the credit in the world for establishing these original characters and endearing them to us as quickly and as efficiently as they do, but sometimes the emotional impact of a development is lessened as we quickly move from one part to the next. Take the character Murder, for example: a very cool idea and a great way to kick off the series, but the cloud of mystery around him dissipated a bit too fast for my liking, and we never really get a chance to enjoy just how weird and awesome an idea he is.

We get a few different artists in this first collection whose styles highlight different aspects of the concept behind HOAX HUNTERS. Axel Medellin gives us four issues of consistently great stuff, but it was fun to have JM Ringuet and Emilio Laiso open and close this volume respectively, providing different feels to the story as we transition from an idea driven sci-fi mystery to a more character-centric look at the dynamics and history of some of the team.

I had a lot more fun with HOAX HUNTERS than I expected to, and I think the blend of genre and style had a lot to do with it. The macabre folklore aspect of it lured me in, but by this trade’s end I was more enamored by story of the Hoax Hunters themselves, as Moreci and Seeley have quickly established a team of very likable characters with some real potential for depth as the story continues. It isn’t often that I transition from trades to single issues (all in the name of consistency ), but book one of HOAX HUNTERS left me wanting more, and the sooner the better.


GALAXY MAN #4

Writers: Kyle Puttkammer and Ashton Adams
Artist: Allen Belk
Publisher: Galactic Press
Reviewer: Masked Man


Braving the pitfalls of web comics and tiny publishers comes another file from Indie Jones! This week I’m checking out the small press superhero GALAXY MAN. GALAXY MAN is a rather interesting throwback to old superhero cartoons like SPACE GHOST. He’s a lantern jawed hero who fights evil because that’s just what you do.

Now, at first look GALAXY MAN isn’t quite ready for prime time. The writing and the artwork aren’t at the level of DC or Marvel. But Adams does have an uncommon take on superheroes, and Belk does get the job done with some nice character designs.

In this issue space pirates attack the space shuttle--or some fantasy world version of it, because it doesn’t look like the space shuttle we all know. But again, like an old 60’s superhero cartoon, everything is labeled as Stellar City, home of our hero. Not NASA or USA, though the American flag on the cover proves they are in States. The space pirates are led by Silverbeard, who is looking to claim ownership of outer space--and Stella City astronauts are not allowed. This is a single issue story, as Galaxy Man and his sidekick (also his daughter) Cosmic Girl come to the rescue. In fact, all of GALAXY MAN’s issues have been self-contained so far--another throwback concept! There is a running sub-plot in all these issues of GALAXY MAN so far, which is what happened to his wife (Cosmic Girl’s mother), an astronaut who is now lost in space.

Like a 70’s superhero cartoon, Galaxy Man doesn’t just punch the crap out of everything. Adams tries to keep things fresh and family friendly with each issue, so conflicts can be solved with clever stunts or talking a villain down, in the same vein as the original SUPERFRIENDS. GALAXY MAN does pack more action than an episode of the SUPERFRIENDS, too.

So while GALAXY MAN is still a little green in its presentation, it does have a fresh voice, and as always that’s what Indie Jones is for! I hope the creative team continues to work at honing their craft so GALAXY MAN can become as clever and professional looking as any comic from the big leagues.


AVENGERS ARENA #1

Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Art: Kev Walker
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy


Because Nothing Says “Comics!” Like Watching Young Teens Murder One Another.

Okay. Okay. AVENGERS ARENA…Okay. Look. I’ve been sincerely enjoying the Marvel NOW imprint. My last few reviews have all been about comics from the initiative, and I’ve been reading more of them on my own. It honestly feels like the “New 52”, only done right.

So…AVENGERS ARENA. I…don’t know, I just don’t know how I feel about this book. Let me get the basics covered first (and I’m eschewing my typical grading scale for this issue, because A. I don’t think it really applies here, and B. using a rating scale like that is incredibly lazy of me).

The crew behind this book clearly have talent, and the issue itself is well constructed, even bordering on great at times. It does exactly what a first issue should: Hopeless quickly establishes the plot, the characters, and the threat extremely succulently and quickly. It doesn’t feel rushed, as he gives certain characters opportunity to shine. Most of the characters haven’t even spoken yet, but it doesn’t feel like Hopeless has forgotten them. The horror of the story is only really evidenced when the audience can connect to the characters, and Hopeless, instead of throwing fan favourites one or two lines, decides to hold onto his hand a little longer and focus primarily on Hazmat and Mettle. It’s a wise decision, as their interactions are what drive the first issue. Hopeless’ Arcade is devilously fun, incredibly cruel with a big grin on his face. Arcade is just having such a fun time doing this to the young super heroes that’s it’s hard not to like him a little bit, at least until he does something to remind you how evil he is.

Assisting Hopeless is Kev Walker and Frank Martin, two very good choices on Marvel’s part. Walker has a good handle on the story, making each teenaged hero stand out from the others: different heights, different faces and features--they all manage to look different than the other blonde short boy in the shot. The action sequences (with assistance from Martin) are bright, energetic, and extremely well put together.

But here’s the thing.

I didn’t really bring up the plot yet, because it’s the thing that really confounds me about this comic. Unless Marvel pulls a fast one and it turns into an extended camping trip after the Avengers find the island in issue #3, then this is going to be a book about fourteen year olds killing other fourteen year olds. HUNGER GAMES and BATTLE ROYALE, clearly providing inspiration for this series, are both enjoyable. But they’re self-contained.

These are (for the most part) established characters. And a lot of them are established characters I love, and know a lot of other people love as well. Killing a character prevents them growing and evolving, and many of these characters were made with the intention of growing. Imagine The Runaways becoming adults, having to find their place in the expansive Marvel world. Instead, two of them are probably going to die in this comic because Arcade stuck them on an island with X-23, who probably ends up killing people when she goes to pick up milk.

When I brought this up to a friend, he said that Marvel would just resurrect the ones they needed back after this title. That’s somehow even worse. Saying that Marvel will just resurrect them eventually is even worse; beyond the obvious problem of ruining any real suspense in your superhero story (the suspense is gone once you know there’s no real danger for the character), it kills a deep seated hope of mine. Young characters like these give me hope that resurrections don’t have to happen. That as the stories continue onwards, real progression can happen.

One of my biggest problems with DC in the last few years was removing Wally West from the FLASH titles and replacing him with Barry. Wally assuming the mantle of Flash gave those stories and that universe a real sense of progression and forward momentum, with the added benefit of suspense: if a big player like Barry could really be dead and gone, so could anyone else. But without it, the stories lose much of their urgency.

So either Marvel is going to depress me by killing a bunch of young characters I enjoy reading about, or they kill them and then resurrect them, robbing the universe of some of its last real suspense. And you know that once the Avengers or the X-Men find out about this, Wolverine is going to cut Arcade into eighty-four different pieces. There is no way Arcade gets to survive this series, and that also depresses me.

It’s an enjoyable first issue, and a very well constructed superhero comic. But I don’t know. I just don’t know if this comic is going to depress or infuriate me.

Probably both.

P.S. – To Dennis Hopeless –
Please don’t kill Cammi. Cammi is awesome. I don’t want X-23 or Chase or Nico or Darkhawk or Juston or Reptil to die, but please please please please don’t kill Cammi. Not for me, but for yourself. Because if you kill Cammi, then Drax is going to break free from the comic book world and rip out your heart and then punch you in the face with it.


PARIAH, MO. #1

Writer: Andres Salazar
Artists: Jose Pescador & Andres Salazar
Publisher: Andres Salazar – Kickstarter
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


I would like everyone to thank me now. The week I received PARIAH, MO it was one of fifty requests to look at Kickstarter brain children. In the past few months this has become the norm versus the exception. We have gotten so many telegrams in the @$$hole Clubhouse to cover these dreams in waiting, I had to come up with a few rules simply to manage them all.

I won’t cover incomplete books – if you’re looking for someone to pay you to write, that’s why God invented grandparents.

You must be building a series or hocking a graphic novel – I will never ask my readers to pay for someone’s pitch to a movie studio or TV network.

It must be original and on par with real comics produced by real publishers – when you’re asking someone to contribute $5 + dollars, you better be delivering and actual honest-to-God full comic.

I feel these rules are more than fair: since you’re basically asking the world to be your publisher you should have the same respect, reverence and presentation of pitch in hand that you would if you were going to DC or Marvel to look at your work.

There were several pieces that met my qualifiers last week, but PARIAH, MO. rose above the rest for its genuine voice, originality of concept and trueness to period.

Despite its name being the contrary, PARIAH is a bustling town in the mid-1800’s. As the last riverboat stop before Injun country, this dusty hamlet is where men seek fortune or to hide from fortunes lost. People are what make up a town, and PARIAH is no exception. Salazar uses this inaugural issue to introduce the denizens of this world as well as two mysterious visitors fresh off the boat from Boston.

In fact, what intrigued me most about PARIAH was Salazar’s dedication to character development over bludgeoning his sales slug line “’X-Files’ meets ‘Deadwood’.” In actuality, for most of the issue you will wonder where the X lies as we meet the standard Westerns tropes.

Hiram, is a dandy con man with an ace literally up his sleeve and a mysterious plan to be named later. We get inklings into this mission, which involves intelligence scouring at the deepest most undercover levels. Toro, the obligatory red man, is a quiet bounty hunter that everyone in town knows not to mess with (despite his girly french braids). Nellie is a tough as nails Western desert flower. We don’t learn much about Nellie aside from her father mismanaging his finances so much before dying that she is now an indentured servant to the new hotel owner in town. And last, but certainly not least, are two beautiful performers from Boston, who come to Pariah to entertain and, by the end of the book, feed on the locals (and there, folks, is your X-FILES connection).

Is PARIAH perfect? Well…no, but how many books are these days? The mistakes, though, are few and easily remedied in follow-up chapters. I encourage Salazar to slow the pace a bit. Much of what I learned about the character’s back-stories came from the descriptions in the beginning versus the page itself. Hiram is clearly a dandy, but his intelligence agency allude wasn’t quite clear until I married the blurb with the dialog. I’m still not sure on Nelly or Toro’s connections to the town; their introductions were simply far too brief. On the art side, the book starts high, but gets much looser to the end. I appreciate the stark juxtaposition of going from sepia to blue to show the transition from day to night, but as this happened the pencils seemed to get sleepy as well.

These misgivings, though, are things I’ve said about books from the very professional DC and Marvel right down to the train wrecks produced by hack publishing houses like Bluewater. No book is perfect, but given the limited resources Salazar had to pull this issue together, he rightfully gets far more leeway from me than books that make similar mistakes backed by leagues of creators and infinite coffers.

Show PARIAH, MO. some love on their Kickstarter page so we can see the full fruition of all four issues.


THE BIONIC WOMAN #6

Writer: Paul Tobin
Artist: Leno Carvalho
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth


If you were a fan of the original TV series or even the 2007 reboot, you’ll be excited to know that Jamie Sommers, Oscar Goldman and the O.S.I. gang are all back in the comic series THE BIONIC WOMAN.

The story opens quite dramatically, with a bionic baddie named Breaker tossing Jamie’s friend (or is it girlfriend? I’m not really sure these days) Nora off a rooftop. Obviously, this sort of thing puts Jamie in a pretty foul mood and the rest of the story is pretty much a face-off between these two bionic brawlers.

OK, admittedly I have not read any of the previous issues in this series, so I only have issue #6 to go on, so bear with me. Artistically speaking there is nothing wrong here. Leno Carvalho’s art is actually quite good overall. His storytelling shines predominantly well in the action sequences and I like the way he varies the POV in his panels. However, his characters’ facial expressions could use a little more emotion, particularly during highly dramatic moments.

Again, it’s not easy to critique Paul Tobin’s writing based on a single issue, especially one that is pretty much an action fest. I will say that my initial impression is one of averageness. I wasn’t overly wowed reading this issue, but then I didn’t find myself yearning to close up the book before finishing either. That being said, I confess: the hook presented at the end of this issue showcasing the return of a group of classic Bionic Woman antagonists straight from the original TV series was a nice touch.

I think the comic will be nostalgic for fans of the previous TV show(s). So, if you feel the thing your life has been missing is a quadriplegic hottie complete with cybernetic replacement parts, then by all means go ahead and give THE BIONIC WOMAN a whirl. It just may be the thing to scratch that sick itch you got there.


Advance Review: In stores today!

AQUAMAN #15

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Paul Pelletier
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Stop. Go read JUSTICE LEAGUE #15, or at least my review of it. Because while you can read the books independent of one another, you’ll get the steak, but completely miss the sizzle. This chapter of “Throne of Atlantis” chronicles the moments after disaster, when heroes shine and villains opportunely strike.

I haven’t been able to get enough of AQUAMAN since the New 52 started, and this comes from a man whose only prior exposure was “Superfriends” and Underoos. Johns successfully used self-deprecation to hold a mirror up to readers’ chides against the book, then threw in a love story and a life straddled between two worlds to make this Atlantean one of the most human characters in DC.

Now, Aquaman leaves his cocoon of success to collide with one of the divisive titles despite being the keystone of the New 52. I already went through the past issues with JUSTICE LEAGUE in my issue 15 review, but after writing that review then reading AQUAMAN I had another epiphany. JUSTICE LEAGUE needed the focus of a “Thrones of Atlantis”-type story to slow the hell down and focus on one character instead of trying to be all things to every character. The shallowness lied in the fact we never spent enough solitary time with each member. We needed to see heroes reach out for a helping hand from their…well…super friends. The best moments of JUSTICE LEAGUE have been the romance between Superman and Wonder Woman and now AQUAMAN’S turmoil; to me that seems like a pretty good amount of proof to keep with this cadence.

This issue was all about the one-liners. And I don’t mean that in a jokey sense. Where JUSTICE LEAGUE was the Michael Bay (but good) destruction of the Eastern seaboard, this issue focuses on the needed exposition for anyone who hasn’t read JUSTICE LEAGUE yet and a turning of the tables to keep us guessing until next month. By far the best moments were between Aquaman and Batman as Arthur lays out the rationale for the Atlantean attack and spells out their next move. When he rescued Harvey Bullock I almost bust a gut when Bullock had the audacity to make a fish joke. I was equally moved the other direction when Batman sternly disapproved of Aquaman’s revelation that he knows the next attack because he drew up the battle plans. Arthur comes face to face with his half-brother, the Mackerel of Genocide, Orm, and pulls a very surprising move when the League tries to help him with the apprehension. Orm also offered a compelling case for the attacks with a zinger on the drowning of Boston that exemplifies a good villain – he actually garners empathy for his cause.

I know right now, some are going to decry the use of water to reshape the world, a card that Johns has already played. I don’t care, though--there were many concepts in FLASHPOINT I liked, and the razing of the land by the sea was one of them. This is the crossover that DC truly needed a year into the New 52 experiment. I finally feel a gelling of tonality between books that I only expect to deepen…until FLASHPOINT 2 ELECTRIC BOOGALOO, when Wally comes back and boots Barry’s ass back to 1962…I’m sorry. that was my out loud voice…read AQUAMAN…he’s even more stupendous now that he has two books focused on him.


Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 19, 2012, 9:16 a.m. CST

    I Am ... DOOM! And DOOM Is FIRST!

    by V. von Doom

    Last AICN Comics before Nibiru strikes ... read quickly, peasants!

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 10:04 a.m. CST

    Avengers Arena

    by Joenathan

    The story type doesn't bother me at all. If all of the issues are as well done as the first one, they can kill the entire cast off, as far as I'm concerned. Sometimes a good death in a story is the best a character has to offer, that certainly holds true for the dead one at the end of issue #1.

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 10:10 a.m. CST

    Hawkeye

    by Joenathan

    I was really getting tired of Fraction. Bad Bendis-lite is a perfect example. He's a watered down Bendis when Bendis is phoning it in. Then Hawkeye came along. I don't know how he can write that one so well and write everything else so bland and lame-joke filled. It's so obvious he and Deconnick are together, because their humor has the same... unfunny awkward shoe-horning feel to it. But Hawkeye? Hawkeye is great. Also, I can't believe anyone over the age of 8 is still reading Justice League. Speaking of books you should be reading, is anyone checking out Multiple Warheads?

  • I mean, this whole comic is based on characters killing each other, how long will that last? BTW, the premise doesn't bother me, it just seems kinda pointless since no real established characters will die. When it was announced, I thought this was more of a limited series as opposed to an ongoing one. I read elsewhere that DC planned on running violence checks in their comics. Wouldn't Marvel be wise to follow suit?

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 11:32 a.m. CST

    What The???

    by optimous_douche

    I'm confused as to what a violence check entails exactly?

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 11:46 a.m. CST

    optimous_douche--not sure if posting this link is a no-no...

    by art123guy

    www.bleedingcool.com/2012/12/17/reacting-to-recent-events/

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 11:46 a.m. CST

    They won't do anything

    by Joenathan

    They might make some noises if anyone actually complains in any ACTUAL news feed, but no one will, because no one gives a shit about comics at the moment except us nerds.

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 11:49 a.m. CST

    Does Hawkeye still wear the pointy mask?

    by rev_skarekroe

    I thought they'd switched him to the Ultimates/movie mask.

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 11:49 a.m. CST

    Which is to say, no mask at all

    by rev_skarekroe

    Maybe shades.

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 12:02 p.m. CST

    Thx ArtGuy

    by optimous_douche

    I agree with Joen though ultimately this will mean nothing. Comics, movies, games - violence is part of our culture. What are they going to do, having BATMAN crochet

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Fear Agent Library Edition

    by Laserhead

    Maybe the most beautiful and enjoyable big omnibus since the Simonson Thor.

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 1:02 p.m. CST

    Hey All

    by Andres Salazar

    Thanks for checking out Pariah, MO. I'm in Final Draft now as I type working on issue #4

  • I still think it'll be a short lived series.

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 2:39 p.m. CST

    Avengers Arena

    by Joenathan

    But they're not drawn that way. Especially the female characters. Also, they're not intantly recognized as kids by people outside of comics, like if it were Robin and Wonder Girl fighting to the death or something.

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 7:06 p.m. CST

    whatever your viewpoint...

    by foree forehead

    ...on the ultimate causes of violence in america, i wouldn't think comics are providing any sort of helpful solution, would you? that's to say the least. continued desensitization of our youth will only increase the type of "white violence" seen in CT.

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 10:23 p.m. CST

    Joe is right

    by Homer Sexual

    Loved AA but losing beloved characters is tough. I will be heartbroken when Nico dies but loved the first issue

  • Dec. 19, 2012, 10:25 p.m. CST

    Self contained is better

    by Homer Sexual

    But it's contrary to the serial nature of comics. Marvel could kill off everyone except wolverine spider man and dead pool and not need to cancel more than a couple titles.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 9:43 a.m. CST

    Comic violence

    by Eric Schaen

    I know some will disagree, but…I hate it when comics, movies, videogames and the like are in anyway associated with what sick people choose to do. For every 1 person who commits a despicable act that happens to read, watch or play the aforementioned, there are thousands of folks who do not. To blame anything other than the monster who commits such acts is simply looking to avoid the real issues such as parenting, mental health and society. After all, violent acts have been perpetrated long before TV, video games and any other form of entertainment; sadly they will continue to happen as long as human beings exist. No getting around this one, sadly.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 10:18 a.m. CST

    Loving Avengers Arena

    by DurdenROH

    I think if the entire series is played out like the first two of the series then we have a great story on our hands

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 11:03 a.m. CST

    Mightymouth is right

    by Joenathan

    But ultimately, that's why when they do blame movies, comics, video games, rock 'n roll, whatever, nothing ever changes, because everyone knows it's just an outrage smokescreen.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 11:08 a.m. CST

    Also (Books I'm reading)

    by Joenathan

    I want to repeat how much I am enjoying: Thor Batman Prophet Hawkeye Avengers The Massive Locke & Key All New X-men Avengers Arena Wonder Woman Multiple Warheads Ultimate Spider-man Wolverine and the X-men And I'm looking forward to: New Avengers Young Avengers Brian Wood's Star Wars There's some good books out now

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 11:43 a.m. CST

    loada bollocks

    by foree forehead

    the fact is comics have gotten a lot darker and more violent since the 70s. ask yourself a serious question as a (potential, if need be) parent: does that help reduce violence in our society? of course not! the real smokescreen is pretending that this problem has "always been there". the mass murder of children in schools, or people in public places is a relatively new phenomenon. don't be silly and bring up hitler. good, loving parenting is paramount, naturally. but eventually, your adolescent will begin to become more influenced by his peers than he will by you. violence in comics/videogames/movies should therefore concern you because it concerns us all.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:09 p.m. CST

    See? Outrage smokescreen

    by Joenathan

    Foreskin here is not going to do or say anything to make the world a better place. He's not even going to stop buying comics or video games even though they are apparently the reason for all the death. Except for in Afghanistan and the Middle Ages and Darfur and the Crusades... no, he's just wants to toot-toot his butthorn, eating his cake while having it too. Yawn

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:22 p.m. CST

    want to compare charitable donations...

    by foree forehead

    ...to worthwhile causes? the hunger site's my homepage. although it's not enough, never enough. i know, that's what matters. you're rather immature if you think comics are somehow helping quell the kind of violence we saw in CT...

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:22 p.m. CST

    let's award COMICS the nobel price...

    by foree forehead

    ..for peace, of course.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:23 p.m. CST

    if only gandhi had written COMICS...

    by foree forehead

    ...instead of fostering non-violent resistance against colonialist british rule, eh joenathan?

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:25 p.m. CST

    we should've sent COMICS on the side of voyager...

    by foree forehead

    ...instead of that LP with all the music and instructions. so the aliens could yawn like joenathan

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:28 p.m. CST

    we should launch COMICS in the air...

    by foree forehead

    ...instead of doves at the olympics

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:29 p.m. CST

    imagine if muhammad ali had beaten up COMICS...

    by foree forehead

    ...instead of standing up against the viet nam war.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:30 p.m. CST

    MLK could've said "I have a COMICS"...

    by foree forehead

    ...but then everyone would yawn.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:30 p.m. CST

    I didn't read any of those

    by Joenathan

    because of all the smoke (cough)

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:31 p.m. CST

    COMICS...

    by foree forehead

    ...THE PANACEA.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:36 p.m. CST

    if only COMICS could cure jaded denial...

    by foree forehead

    ...

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:37 p.m. CST

    Avengers Arena

    by xsikal

    The going theory currently is that this is all a big VR setup, and none of the kids are actually going to die in the real world. Guess we'll see if that theory holds weight as the series continues... or someone will see anyway, since I am not buying the series. Hawkeye is great. I've given Deconnick two tries (Captain Marvel and Avengers Assemble) and think maybe she's just not my type of writer. Marvel Now in general has been far better than the new 52 though, in my opinion.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:45 p.m. CST

    VR?

    by Joenathan

    Hmmm... I think that would take away from the story too much. I hope it's not that

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:53 p.m. CST

    Yeah...

    by xsikal

    ..it may just be people hoping, because they don't want to see their favorite teens get killed (and frankly, I don't either, but to me an exploitative death is an exploitative death even if it's not for realies) off. We'll find out.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 1:56 p.m. CST

    I think

    by Joenathan

    it's more exploitive if it's VR. Then it's just a gimmick. At least if it's the real deal there can be consquences.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 4:11 p.m. CST

    Thanks!

    by Ashton Adams

    I really appreciate the honest review of Galaxy Man, Masked Man! We are really striving to do something that different generations can enjoy together. Good to know you feel we are on the right path!

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 5:39 p.m. CST

    Spider-Man #700

    by Laserhead

    That wasn't a shocking game-changer so much as one of the dumbest storylines I've ever heard of. Clone Saga, Stacy-Osborn twins, Spider-Ock.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 6:33 p.m. CST

    Indie comics... wha???

    by Andres Salazar

    Great to have all this talkback on the indie comics and Pariah, Missouri. I love comics and violence, or something like that. yeah, it's cool to like something that is new and different.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 8:52 p.m. CST

    @joenathan

    by xsikal

    Honestly, even if it's not VR, I don't see there really being any consequences. The kids will die, eventually the series will be canceled, and the characters will be forgotten until some writer decides to revive (and resurrect) them years down the line. Whether they actually die or don't actually die, it's still a series about teens killing teens that seems to want to sell based on shock factor.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 9:42 p.m. CST

    Well, that's the pessimist's view...

    by Joenathan

    Ideally, any surviving characters would carry the baggage of this event with them and it would inform what type of character they grow into. Ideally.

  • Dec. 20, 2012, 11:51 p.m. CST

    Hey, Xsikal....

    by 3774

    ..I'm kinda mixed over Captain Marvel, and totally indifferent to Avengers. But to see DeConnick really knocking it out of the park, maybe check out Ghost. It's *hands down* one of my favorite titles right now. Try to start from issue 0, though. It's only a few in.