Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS: JUSTICE LEAGUE! MORBIUS THE LIVING VAMPIRE! PUNK ROCK JESUS! DEAD MEAT! More on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700!

Published at: Jan. 3, 2013, 3:01 a.m. CST

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

Advance Review: NEW AVENGERS #1
JUSTICE LEAGUE #15 / AQUAMAN #15
Indie Jones presents DEAD MEAT V.1
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700
Advance Review: PUNK ROCK JESUS #6
DEATHMATCH #1
Advance Review: MORBIUS: THE LIVING VAMPIRE #1


Advance Review: In stores this week!

NEW AVENGERS #1

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Steve Epting
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Did you notice the attribution? See what I did with the name of the publisher? I’m not being a smart-ass, not trying to stand on my usual soap-box decrying branding shenanigans. This is respect: respect for a soft restart versus an abrupt reboot, respect for not only renumbering, but also reinventing the very nature of the books and respect for the NOW moniker making me finally care about THE AVENGERS.

But pay heed, this is truly a NEW AVENGERS. Opa Bendis Style, love it or hate it, is unique. It’s the lighter side of life. Hickman is more BATTLESTAR than BUFFY, he pulls Sci-Fi from a dark place and slathers it all over NEW AVENGERS. Well at least one AVENGER.

This is Black Panther’s issue start to finish. The book opens with a perfectly timed short exposition of Black Panther turning his back on the Illuminati of your. It had some cool sepia black and white work going as well, very aged. The next time we see BP it is years later conducting a field trip that is the equivalent of the Wakandan’ SAT’s , the next generation gets slaughtered by a gang of inter-reality thugs who threaten to destroy everything…and they do. Sorta. I think. OK, that part isn’t too clear, but that’s why this is called a serial. The question is whether there’s sufficient mystery…and I think the end of everything fits the bill.

I’ve heard a few rumblings the book is talky, but I’ll make the counter argument that the “talky’ is the detail to make me care when children were slaughtered by Gods from a new reality. It made me appreciate the ominous words of Reed Richards on page one of today lamenting how all things die, and honestly it was necessary to acclimate Sci-Fi noobs for when the book didn’t open with Jarvis serving cereal.

Epting was also a huge contributor to my glee. When I say powered beings from a new reality kill Wakandan nerds, I greatly diminish the splendor of a Red Planet a hundred fold the size of earth, dwarfing the already drenched Wakandan disaster magnet.

I’ve never been an A, always an X, even before Marvel made us choose. I thought my love of UNCANNY AVENGERS was merely a fluke because the team is half muties. But here I am presented with a team (sorta) consisting of The Black Panther, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Mister Fantastic, Namor and Beast, and I care, greatly.

I say “sorta” presented because I was a little surprised how quickly introductions were handled at the very end of the book. Even though Fraction handled it in fine montage style, listing off each member’s darkest virtues, I would have appreciated a bit of foreplay before being bitch slapped with the roll call.

And I do have one other question, more for editorial than Mr. Hickman, “If Beast is on this team, does that mean he lives through ALL NEW X-MEN?” Ahhh, the trappings of continuity. Although to be fair, he hasn’t really been introduced yet, so he could just show up and say, “I’d like to help, but I’m really sick from this third mutation, thanks forunderstanding.”

Fanboyisms aside, I’m thrilled to see the author of RED WING and MANHATTAN PROJECTS infuse a little ghost of Asimov into NEW AVENGERS.

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.


JUSTICE LEAGE #15 / AQUAMAN #15

Writers: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis (AQUAMAN #15)
Artist: Paul Pelletier (JUSTICE LEAGUE #15)
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


So yeah, two issues at one time. Kinda hard to separate them, coming out on the same day and being part of the same story: “Throne of Atlantis”. So you get two for the price of one here.

Like a lot of comic book reviewers, I find the JUSTICE LEAGUE and AQUAMAN to be the polar opposites. AQUAMAN has been one of the best books on the shelf and JUSTICE LEAGUE has been one of the worst. AQUAMAN has pretty much continued Johns’ great work on Aquaman, started before the New 52, and the JUSTICE LEAGUE has been a nearly pointless reinvention of the wheel since the New 52. So I was curious what would happen when these two worlds would collide. In an interview I read, Johns said something interesting. He, originally, intended “Throne of Atlantis” to be his first JUSTICE LEAGUE story arc with Jim Lee. Then when the New 52 came into being, he felt he needed to work on recreating the team first. This might, in a way, explain the sub-par reviews JUSTICE LEAGUE has been getting: With everything else going on with New 52, the first 14 issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE might not have gotten Johns’ full attention.

So what’s going down in these two issues: Atlantis Attacks (sorry, Marvel flash back there)! It seems a lot of Johns’ carefully landed plans in the last 14 issues of AQUAMAN are coming home in this storyline. Including Aquaman’s past with Atlantis, his brother (soon to be christened Ocean Master), and the Reach. Unfortunately, the only thing Johns is building on in the JUSTICE LEAGUE is them all being untrusting boobs. There was a nice moment when Clark Kent shows Wonder Woman the value of eye glasses and Aquaman shows his respect for Batman- but as I’ve mentioned before: For a team that has been together over five years, they has less trust and chemistry than a rookie football team after one season. Here Johns tries to create team tension by having them argue whether or not Atlantis is justified in attacking the USA, after the USA attacked them. Seems like that is less important than the fact that war is starting- but then superhero team in-fight is so popular. Johns’ also has characters flip flopping on the start of the trouble: the missiles fired at Atlantis. First Vulko says it was an accident, then on purpose, and then they are a mistake. Again, no one seems concerned with anything aside from pointing blame. I also find it interesting that Cyborg, the guy who took the Martian Manhunter’s founders status, is doing what the Manhunter used to do so well: Sit in the watchtower coordinate things.

Now while I’m still not impressed with the Justice League’s character interaction, the main plot has been pretty cool. Again, I feel this is mainly because of the work Johns has built up in AQUAMAN. I just hope this doesn’t go the way many crossovers do- the single hero (this time Aquaman) is hampered more by the team of heroes (usually always the Justice League) then they are help, because they refuse to understand the issues at hand and think they know better (see the Avengers in AvsX).

Let’s talk about the artwork now, Ivan Reis has finally moved over to the JUSTICE LEAGUE, so let’s face it the book is flawless looking! Mind you, I enjoyed Jim Lee’s issues as well- sure Lee might not be as good as he was in the 90’s, but I still feel his work is at the top of the field. Ivan Reis though is one of the top three superhero artist working today. I’ve been impressed with Reis’ work ever since his days on ACTION COMICS and I think this issue is proving that he can go toe-to-toe with Bryan Hitch when it comes to city wide destruction. Over on AQUAMAN, things are a bit more interesting, because let’s face it, one of the reason AQUAMAN was selling so well was Reis’ work. So it will be interesting to see how AQUAMAN fares without Reis’ talent. This issue has Paul Pelletier, and I’m sorry Paul, but I don’t see you helming a best seller anytime soon. Pelletier is one of those artist who can get the job done, but can seem to muster anything beyond that. He reminds me of Graham Nolan or even Don Heck- just uninspired.

Before I go, I should mention Captain- er, Shazam (sorry that never gets old to me)! First off Gary Frank is drawing the hell out of these 12 pages. I really think this is some of his finest work; his environments, characters, action, storytelling, and emotions, all great stuff. And even with all the current goodness in the main JUSTICE LEAGUE story, SHAZAM is still the best read in the book- again, I’d say it’s because Johns is building on all the good things he’s laid down in previous installments. This installment is nice collection comedy of errors as Billy, with Freddie in tow, try to reap some of the benefits of now being a superpowered adult. Things should get pretty exciting next time, as the time honored Captain- er Shazam vs Black Atom bout is about to begin.

So despite my bitching, “Throne of Atlantis” is starting well. This is Johns big chance to win back all us critics with the JUSTICE LEAGUE- here’s hoping.


DEAD MEAT V.1

Writer: Clayton McCormack
Artist: Clayton McCormack
Publisher: Self Published
Reviewer: Lyzard


I’m not a fan of zombies. Anyone who has read my reviews can tell ya that I prefer my undead with intelligence and fangs. I don’t follow THE WALKING DEAD, neither comic nor TV show. So I’m not necessarily the best to judge DEAD MEAT’s originally in regards to this particular horror sub-genre. I do know that the world and plot aren’t anything groundbreaking. But it is the multi-platform aspect of the project, showing off McCormack’s sense of humor that piqued my interest.

DEAD MEAT features multiple interweaving storylines. There are the recently orphaned brother and sister Ashley and Georgie, too young to fend for themselves. Jim Walker, the hog-riding mustachio fiend with trouble close behind, rescues them. Besides all the numerous henchmen and hitmen scattered about Stiltsville, Greg stands apart from this rugged and rowdy crowd. Adorned in a trim suit and 80s visor sunglasses; Greg would have made a killing in yuppie-era Wall Street. Now he just kills, human and zombies alike.

But don’t get too attached to any of the aforementioned characters. McCormack kills off anyone and everyone as if he was George R. R. Martin. Just when you think you’ve been introduced to someone of importance, they’ve got a bullet to the head. Luckily McCormack has filled his world with many (possibly too many for coherency’s sake) persons of interest.

What makes these characters so interesting? The same thing that makes the comic worth reading: the dialogue. It seems McCormack is aware that most of the scenarios his characters are placed in have been done before. He writes the scenes not as self-referential meta, but plays into audience satisfaction. By this I mean those lines you wish the writer added or the deaths you think characters too often escape. But McCormack does more than that. The dialogue is witty and ironic without pretention. However, though a majority of the characters feature strong dialogue, they all feature the same dialogue. The problem with creating and following so many characters is that without distinct voices and unique character design, it becomes hard to tell them all apart.
This is the weakest aspect of DEAD MEAT. There is so much follow, story and character-wise, that you can easily get lost. Everyone betrays each other, wants to murder one another, it is nearly impossible to keep track on who has a bounty on whom. Beyond sounding all the same, you’ve got every other gunman sportin’ sunglasses. Not sure why this style is in vogue, but so far those in shades have a much better track record of staying alive.

Even the ginger in the video shorts has got a pair of sunglasses on. These minisodes are not directly related to the comic, only sharing a world filled with zombies and McCormack’s snarky dark humor. Think one, two minute Funny or Die videos. Better than most low-budget shorts found on YouTube, the DEAD MEAT videos feature respectable acting, effects, and (most importantly) well-written stories. For those zombie fans that prefer a bit of tongue in cheek, then start with the videos. Those that want a serialized story of blood, betrayal, and bad-assery will find the comic more up their alley. Either way, featuring both the comic and videos on the same site allows readers and viewers to easily crossover from one to the other.

I hope in the future than McCormack is able to produce hard copies of DEAD MEAT or add more color eventually, as his drawings can lose contrast and blend together, an issue I find too often with web-based comics. In the meantime, new pages and videos are updated weekly at www.eatdeadmeat.com. The graphic novel can also be found for Kindle Fire and iBooks.

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.


Two more @$$holes chime in on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700

Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Humberto Ramos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth


After reading AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700 my feelings can only be described as a raw intermingling of abhorrence and adoration.

First I’ll lament on the hate. It’s obvious that Joe Quesada has had it in for Spider-Man for some time. With such abysmal stories like "Brand New Day", and "One Moment in Time", it’s safe to say only unadulterated hatred for Peter Parker could concoct such terrible ideas. Under Slott’ direction AMAZING SPIDER-MAN was actually improving. Even with all the leftover inadequacy’s from Brand New Day, Slott managed to make Spidey fun again. So, why would he go and perpetrate such a detestable thing to one of the most treasured characters in fiction? Killing-off Peter Parker and replacing him with a megalomaniac is quite possibly the worst idea since the clone saga. Did Quesada and Slott really think this was a good idea? Probably not, but they knew it would sell. Rat-Bastards!

Now on the other hand, I applaud Dan Slott for the brass cojones it takes to allow oneself to attempt such a tired device, and consequently become one of the most hated people in comics. Notwithstanding how I feel about issue #700’s outcome, the story as a whole was actually handled fairly well and hit on some very emotional levels. I may not be pleased with the circumstances around Peter’s apparent demise, but I am hardly new to comics, therefore I can take comfort in his inevitable return. C’mon, Superman kicked the bucket, Captain America cashed in his chips and Batman took a dirt-nap for a while. All of these heroes ultimately found their way back to land of the living and so will Spidey. Maybe, just maybe it’s possible that Dan Slott isn’t a total douchebag. Perhaps when this is all said and done it could turn out to be a very interesting and different chronicle for Spider-Man. With comic books death is seldom permanent; in fact it’s as cliché as you can get. Still, it can afford an opportunity to tell a different kind of tale, one that further strengthens why no one can ever replace heroic characters such as Clark Kent, Steve Rogers, Bruce Wayne and especially Peter Parker.

So let’s all take a breath, stop with the death threats and see where this thing goes.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700

Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Humberto Ramos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: KletusCassidy


So here I sit in the theater, waiting for the previews to start before Django Unchained, reading Amazing Spider-Man #700 via the flashlight on Lady Kletus’ phone…no I couldn’t wait till I got home. I have to tell you, I wasn’t really happy hearing that ASM was ending. After ‘the story that shall not be named’ happened, all the talk at Marvel claimed Peter Parker would now be ripe for endless amounts of new stories unburdened by his ever so restrictive marriage to Mary Jane. The hope was that even if the world ended on December 21rst, alien races would visit earth, find a ASM comic and would be able to easily continue writing the story of Peter Parker for the alien comic buying community simply because he wasn’t married thus leaving him open to an infinite number of story possibilities. Even a race of gaseous beings with no limbs or eyes they could continue the story into infinity (and beyond) if need be. I’m paraphrasing but that was basically why they did the Infinite Spidey Crisis…cut to a few years later and here we are with ASM ending and a new Superior Spider-Man entering the picture…Too bad alien gaseous beings, Parker is done! That said I really tried to review this issue without all the baggage that I’ve been carrying since that story…it’s only fair, so here goes.

SPOILER: If you haven’t been reading the last few issues of ASM, then uh…why are you reading this?!?! Oh because you don’t care and want to get the gist of the issue without spending 8 bucks…fair enough. Doctor Otto Octavious and one Peter Parker have switch bodies ala Freaky Friday (mmmm Lindsay Lohan…) and now Pete is trapped in Octavious’ dying body and this issue is about him attempting to reverse the process before Otto sullies his good name and bangs Mary Jane. Despite my trepidations going in, this issue was pretty fast paced, suspenseful, funny and probably one of the better issues Slott has written since he started ASM. My problem with it is that the story doesn’t feel worthy of being the final issue of ASM, I feel like Otto masquerading as Spider-man is an interesting premise but also could have easily been continued within the pages of ASM but I realize Marvel loves new #1s and doing things this way gives them two new #1 issues, even though they will eventually just go back to the original numbering within a few years. Dan Slott’s run on Spidey hasn’t been completely terrible to me nor has it been that…uh…amazing either. I actually enjoyed his run on She-Hulk more than I’ve enjoyed his ASM and I think most of his stories prior to being the sole writer of ASM were better than when he had full reign on Spidey. I always go back and forth on Humberto Ramos, sometimes I like his art and sometimes I don’t. In this issue, I think he’s done some of the best art he’s ever done on this book but I still have a hard time figuring out what is going on in his action scenes (kind of like Bachalo). This is a really great issue with good art but I think Slott and Marvel could have done a little better in crafting a final issue for Peter Parker (yes I know he’ll be back) rather than jump at the opportunity to start an unnecessary new series. Farewell Parker… {sniff}…I love you maaaaaaan.

To sum it up, I’m bummed ASM is ending and don’t think I’ll be following the story of the newly reformed Doc Ock as Spider-man (I have a hard time believing Doctor Octopus would turn over a new leaf that quick). However, this is a good issue from Dan Slott and kept me interested until the last page but to me this isn’t a series ending story, ‘the story that shall not be named’ was a series ender and I believe this story doesn’t warrant a brand new comic book either but that’s just Ol’ Kletus’ ever so humble opinion. Humberto Ramos’ art is the best it’s ever looked but to me his action scenes lack a clear vision of what’s going on, everything else looks great but when the action starts it takes me a second to figure out what’s happening. Also Marvel, 8 bucks really?!?! I for one could care less about the backups, give me a story that fills the entire book not a bunch of bs I don’t give a shit about. Put ASM #1 reprinted in the back for god’s sakes! (See Fantastic Four 600 for a comic worth every penny). Why not make one version with just the story and a deluxe version for all those poor saps that HAVE TO have all that extraneous junk. Any who, this is Ol’ Kletus Cassidy saying Happy New Year and can we please get new blood in the Amazing Spider-Man division of Marvel (no offense to Dan Slott)….hell contact me if you need to, I have a couple stories up my dirty, whiskey stained flannel sleeve!


Advance Review: In stores this week!

PUNK ROCK JESUS #6

Writer: Sean Murphy
Art: Sean Murphy
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


“The power of faith.”

I read PUNK ROCK JESUS 1-6 a few hours after Christmas Eve mass. As I traversed Murphy’s indictment of religion, reality TV and irresponsible science, the priest’s words prior to transubstantiation kept echoing in the back of mind. Murphy does a very clear job of reaffirming my belief in life as an agnostic, but he also made me finally understand the solace Mrs. Douche finds in the rituals laid forth by catholic dogma. Faith is not something seen, quantified or touched, it simply is. PUNK ROCK JESUS will test faith, but it also shows that perhaps faith is the road to salvation; it simply takes you on a myriad of blind paths before reaching your final destination.

A holy communion of characterization fuels this look at the day after tomorrow. The blood of the story that keeps the plot flowing over 19+ years is found in the clone that will never be king, Chris. Funded by corporate masters, the Ophis Channel, Chris is cloned from the Shroud of Turin and subsequently exploited for the masses in a Truman Story show called J2. The difference – at least Truman was allowed to believe he wasn’t being televised. Chris has no such luxury. The Eucharist, the substantive body of PUNK ROCK JESUS comes from Thomas McKael, the ex-IRA agent who serves as Chris’ protector and hired gun of the island on which J2 is filmed. Even though the title is called PUNK ROCK JESUS, I would say this title is more Thomas’ journey versus the unexpected life of Mohawk Christ.

The overarching indictment on current society is a shot at my least favorite phenomenon in America today, reality-show induced celebrity. Chris’ mother is selected in an American Idol style audition tour-de-force. Once she is appropriately anorexic, bleached and teeth veneered, she is ready to be inseminated with DNA scraped off the most famous dinner napkin stain in history. Chris’ mother has no strong religious beliefs and no true qualifications for anything, other than a young fertile womb – you know, the same reason the Kardashian’s are famous. Murphy’s distrust of the corporate brain trust is self-evident from page one as we meet the anti-Christ, Rick Slate, an Ophis channel executive who is ready to exploit and manipulate the life of new Christ even before he’s born. Is the DNA from the shroud or not? The answer ultimately doesn’t matter, but in the early stages of J2 it’s essential to believe this for advertising revenue and the ratings that come from believes and non-believer vitriol. There are many other indictments from cloning to global warming, but in the end all evil stems from our need to believe in is flase idols simply so we can believe in anything.

The new Jesus has no disciples in the traditional sense, but the cast of characters that raise and support him seem far more functional than the original Christ’s entourage. Sarah Epstein, the geneticist who wants to use her 30 pieces of silver from cloning Chris to create algae that saves the world is one and the ultimate heroin of the story if you need such black and white delineations. She also serves as a Mother figure to Chris after celebrity ultimately consumes his Mother’s soul. The aforementioned Thomas McKael is a Judas without the betrayal, he follows and protects Chris in search for redemption and the belief that Christ will one day return even if it’s not Chris. McKael’s story is fascinating as he atones for crimes committed during his time with the IRA by killing anyone and anything that could harm Chris, even if it’s Chris himself.

In PUNK ROCK JESUS nothing ends as it will seem. McKael’s “guilt” he’s been trying to absolve was never his to carry, but that ultimately doesn’t change what he’s done and who he is. The twin girl that was birthed the same time as Chris serves a much larger purpose than her initial implied fate. Even the name PUNK ROCK JESUS is indicative of the surprises in this story when ultimately Punk Rock is the only thing Chris is ever able to resurrect.

All of the above are merely the surface points of a story with more layers than Dante’s vision of hell. Each character is more than a purpose, they come alive in the pages of PUNK ROCK JESUS and as a reader you will be affected by their sweet, sad and appropriate journeys.

There is no loss of faith in PUNK ROCK JESUS, even though the “miracle” is often debunked in its pages. Murphy clearly lands on the side of agnostic/atheist, but has enough respect for us as readers to leave the door of a second coming wide open. The only surety is that divinity doesn’t dwell in the deep recesses of DNA; it is and always will be a matter of faith.


DEATHMATCH #1

Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Carlos Magno
Published by: BOOM! Studios
Reviewed by: BottleImp
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If, as it has been argued, the superpowered heroes of the comic book landscape are the gods and goddesses of our own American mythology, then there can be no stronger proof of this than the fact that we looooove to see these noble beings beating the shit out of each other. Just like the deities of Greek, Roman and Norse legends our American gods have been created in Man’s image, possessing all the facets, flaws and imperfections that mankind has to offer (at least, the superheroes did once Stan, Jack and Steve broke the mold in the 1960s, setting the new standard for new levels of realism in a medium devoted to the fantastic). Like those divine beings of myth that couldn’t go two weeks without trying to kill one another, our so-called heroes seemingly spend more time engaged in squabbles that are less about Good vs. Evil and more about Ego vs. Ego (as an example, look at the recent—and pointless—“Avengers vs. X-Men” crossover). With that in mind, let’s look at Paul Jenkins’ and Carlos Magno’s take on the subject, DEATHMATCH.

The premise is a familiar one: superheroes and supervillains are transported to some unknown place, forced to fight against one another by an unknown power, with no recollection of how they got there. It’s a story that has been a mainstay of both Marvel and DC comics since the ‘70s, with one slight twist: as the title of the series indicates, this is a fight to the death, and the reader is confronted with the first fatality right at the start of this issue.

The characters in DEATHMATCH are seemingly cut from the same molds as their comic book antecedents, with a collection of beings similar to the iconic Superman, Wonder Woman, Thor and the rest of the vast pantheon. The names are crappier—Meridian, Warrior Woman, and Sol Invictus—but seeing as how the well for superhero names has pretty much been drained dry, there aren’t many monikers that haven’t been copyrighted already. The events of this issue (and I’m going to assume the entire series) are seen through the mind of Dragonfly, a hero who is an amalgam of youthful and moralistic heroes such as Spider-Man and the original Captain Marvel. Out of all the heroes assembled in this arena, Dragonfly is the one, the readers are told, who would never kill an opponent, no matter what the cost… and it is Dragonfly who has somehow been made to kill the first of what promises to be many.

It seems as if Jenkins is setting this series up as an allegory for the current state of comic book superheroes. The mysterious captors can be seen as the writers, pitting their characters against each other without rhyme or reason. Or perhaps they are meant to represent the comic book readership—after all, the fans are the ones for whom comic book heroes are written, and what fan among us hasn’t engaged in debate about whether or not Iron Man could beat up Batman in a fight? The fact that these characters are ostensibly on the same side and wouldn’t engage in said fight doesn’t matter; the moralities of the four-color heroes are no match for the idle whims of the comic book fan. Nowhere is this more indicated than in this issue’s fight between the monstrous Nephilm and his beloved Electronika. As opposed to other versions of the hero versus hero scenario where the superheroes are mind-controlled or made unaware of the true nature of their actions, Jenkins clearly shows that his characters know that they are killing each other, don’t want to do it… and are powerless to do otherwise.

Jenkins does a good job of introducing the reader to this array of familiar-yet-new heroes and villains, wisely choosing to focus on Dragonfly rather than attempting internal dialogue for multiple characters. I also have to give him credit for conveying the majority of information about these superheroes within the plot and dialogue, rather than falling back on the crutch of using captions to name each character for the reader. Magno’s art evokes the traditional superhero elements, but also gives the comic a grittier, slightly sci-fi spin with his textural hatched inking style. The final product is a hybrid of Gil Kane and Richard Corbin, and is well-suited for the dark take on the classic comics characters.

For the cover price of a dollar, picking up this first issue was a no-brainer. I’ll be interested to see how this series progresses and if Jenkins really is making a statement about the depressing moral climate of modern superhero comics, or if he just likes writing a good slugfest.

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.


Advance Review: In stores this week!

MORBIUS: THE LIVING VAMPIRE #1

Writer: Joseph Keatinge
Art: Gabriele Dell'Otto
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


I don’t want to say that MORBIUS: THE LIVING VAMPIRE #1 is a bad issue.

But I will say that MORBIUS: THE LIVING VAMPIRE #1 was a disappointing issue.

Written by Joseph Keatinge, the issue is informative and I can see where that would be useful for those who might not know anything about Dr. Michael Morbius and what a “Living Vampire” exactly is. Keatinge comes right out and explains it, point for point, the pros and cons of being a scientifically created creature of the night. We get the explanation that things like garlic, crosses, and religion don’t really work on him. We get a basic rundown of what his powers are; low gliding flight, strength, healing powers, mild hypnosis. And why is sucks to be him; light of all kinds does seem to weaken him, as well as deficiency in blood on a regular basis. These are all things we need to know in the first issue and Keatinge maps it all out throughout the story.

The problem is, apart from telling us what Morbius is, there’s not much story at all in this first issue. We are told that Morbius is leaving the Big Apple for a suburb on the outskirts of the city where no super heroes go. He goes there and hangs out for a few days as a homeless person, running afoul of the local gang that rules the territory. But all of the action is told in past tense, making it somewhat anti-climactic and making the danger feel all the more toothless.

The issue is just not that exciting in the passive way the story plays out and the way Morbius reads us a list of his powers and weaknesses as if he’s reciting instructions on side of a microwavable popcorn bag. And who reads those instructions anyway? I mean, it’s popcorn. There’s a button on the microwave that makes the instructions redundant. And just as those instructions are redundant, so is this issue since Dan Slott told us pretty much the same details in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #699.1 which came out just a few weeks ago.

MORBIUS: THE LIVING VAMPIRE #1 just felt useless to me. It certainly didn’t have any scares—which maybe I’m in the minority here, but I feel a book about a pseudo-vampire should have. All it serves as is an info dump on a character we were just re-introduced to twice in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN over the past year. Setting Morby up in the ‘burbs fighting a heavily pierced gang lord simply isn’t the triumphant first issue I was hoping for. And ending the issue with the title character being shot in the chest doesn’t really qualify as a cliffhanger to me, since I’m pretty sure the title character won’t die in the second issue.

Morbius is a character with potential and this book might have some too. The issue has solid art, but not flashy. He’s got a cool costume, a pretty rich history, and all the fixins for a solid super hero horror book. But you wouldn’t know it from this anemic first issue.

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over eleven years & AICN HORROR for two. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be available on iTunes and soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK last year from Zenescope Entertainment & look for his exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81 released August-December 2012. Mark will be writing GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES to be released in February-June 2013. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.


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

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