Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS: X-FACTOR! BATMAN! GI JOE! TOOTH & NAIL! WITCH DOCTOR! & MORE!

Published at: Jan. 23, 2013, 8:24 a.m. CST

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

X-FACTOR #250
BATMAN #16
Advance Review: WITCH DOCTOR: MAL PRACTICE #3
BATGIRL #16
DAREDEVIL #22
Indie Jones presents TOOTH & NAIL #1
NEW AVENGERS #2
DEATHSTROKE #16
GI JOE #21
SAVAGE WOLVERINE #1
Advance Review: GREEN LANTERN #16/GREEN LANTERN CORPS #16


X-FACTOR #250

Writer: Peter David
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


There are days I’m ashamed of my fangeezer status. We are a cantankerous lot who find a visceral thrill in bitching about comics and then bitch about the fact we always have to bitch about comics. X-FACTOR 250 is the body of proof on which I lay my claim.

We bemoan crossovers, foil covers, polybags and price hikes for a few extra pages of content: basically, any tactic the publishers use to give landmark issues that extra special feeling of what can only be described as gravitas. X-FACTOR 250, a number of importance to some, for some reason came with none of these trappings. While David has not had the power to keep every issue of X-FACTOR immune to “epic” feel or events from editorial mandates, he has done a very good job of doing it in a “just the tip” approach to keep this wonderful book insulated from the usual shenanigans that seem to prey upon mutant books like Sentinels of upsell.

Yesterday, I stood in my local comic shop with X-FACTOR in hand and uttered what I thought to be the innocuous statement “Isn’t this awesome, here’s issue 250 and it’s just like any other month.” Slowly the nerd heads turned, mouths white with foam from rabid fanmandom. Suddenly a lone voice was brave enough to direct towards my 6’ 5” frame, “Really? Really? It’s issue 250. They should have done something special.”

Listen, you mealy-mouthed fucker…

The fact that there even is a number 250 in this world of reboots, resets and reNows is special. The fact that one man has essentially married every issue of this title since the early 90’s is special. The fact that the series has stopped and started several times, but always felt like it’s been around, is special. And the character progression of Jamie, Monet, Rhane – hell, the whole gang – is so damn special, I can’t think of another comic that’s even come close to this true progression of life being reflected on the page. Tired of trapped in amber? You’re not reading X-FACTOR.

True fans of X-FACTOR will realize the specialness of this issue from the cover. The Hell on Earth War hath begun. Why is this special? Well, it all boils down to David’s unique and, some will say, arrogant ability to plant plot seeds years before they are ready to sprout. I say “arrogance” as an absolute compliment. If for some reason David had to leave this book, I pity the writer who takes over. With the way David germinates seemingly throw-away details, only he can truly know what the future does and should hold.

This month’s seed turned to sprout is the return of Tier, the wolf-baby Rhane Sinclair shunned shortly after birth and the afterbirth attack from hellfire-born demons.

A few months ago, Davidites will remember, Rhane Sinclair gave birth to her wolf/demon child, Tier, after much ado about everything. Now, Tier has returned as a fully functioning 12 year old. He’s still being hunted by the mighty morphin’ Darwin, and X-Factor is finally joining the fray.

This issue is rife with David’s panache for cultural references and witty dialog, even in light of the almost non-stop action that starts with Darwin hunting Tier and climaxes with the demons that plagued his birth coming forth to take on X-Factor so Tier can help usher in the end of all things (that’s why Darwin is so assed up the kid is still alive).

This issue also throws in a nice twist with the return of Guido “I have the worst yet best name in comics” Strong Guy returning. Longtime fans will remember Guido’s recent return from the dead via the newfound resurrection powers of Layla Miller. Some say these resurrected folks come back soulless, although this is the first time someone has switched from the side of angels. Guido storms X-Factor in an epic brouhaha with fists swinging. We’re not sure why yet, but that’s the allure of comics: the unfolding mystery as the story continues.

PSA – HELP PETER

I don’t normally do this, but I’ve read and enjoyed Mr. David’s work for years and as I mentioned, I feel he is the ONLY one who can keep the X-FACTOR gang together in a way I want to read. Peter suffered a stroke before the holidays and while he has insurance, the scumbags that run the system still gouge you on co-pays. Therapy and rehab are especially costly since some bean counter (not a doctor) determines rehabilitation an ancillary activity to true recovery.

If you want to help Peter, buying this wonderful jumping on point will help, but royalties are slow coming in. Same goes for buying any Marvel trades. Below is a list of was to help in order of the most immediate way to get the money to Peter and his family. This comes direct from the lovely Mrs. David:

Donate direct via PayPal

Buy some of Peter’s beautiful prose e-books from Crazy 8 Press.

Buy anything off of Amazon from this link.

God speed Peter!

Optimous Douche has successfully blackmailed BottleImp to draw purty pictures for his graphic novel AVERAGE JOE coming out in 2013 from COM.X. When not on Ain’t It Cool, Optimous can be found talking comics and marketing on robpatey.com and just marketing on MaaS360.com.


BATMAN #16

Writer: Scott Snyder
Art: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy


In This Comic, Batman Punches A Horse And Then They Become Friends.

So, it’s pretty well worth the four dollar price of admission for that alone. Unfortunately, the rest of the comic doesn’t always live up to that incredible story beat. While Snyder’s “Death Of The Family” has been strong, this issue starts to feel the weight of the arc.

The “royal court” approach to Batman and his rogues’ gallery is interesting and engaging, but lacking at times. The strongest aspect of the concept is, of course, The Joker. His fawning affection for Batman is wonderfully twisted, always hinting at a deep hatred. Snyder’s Joker is well constructed, being consistently insane while still being a consistent villain with a plan. However, it’s the other hints to this theme that lack consistency.

As Batman makes his way through Arkham, he finds himself quickly dealing with major villains. Each villain goes down efficiently (a little too quickly, if we’re being honest--not a single one is able to hold his own), all leading into the throne room. The story hints at deeper roles for each villain, but it ultimately becomes window dressing for the Joker. The Riddler receives a little designation of his role in The Joker’s worldview, but it never expands beyond a title and brief idea before The Joker knocks him out. The issue rarely focuses on the in-danger Batman family, instead relishing in Batman’s journey through his rogues’ gallery.

The art is wonderful throughout the issue, especially during Batman’s initial trek through Arkham. The framing is well done, hiding Batman in the shadows until a flaming horse rushes past. It soon leads to Batman versus an army of reinforced inmates, armed to the teeth and ready to swarm Batman. The fights are all well choreographed and executed, leading into The Joker’s close ups. And, to be frank, holy jesus fuck, Capullo is able to take a design choice I abhor for The Joker and make it terrifying. It makes no sense to have your face cut off just so you can staple it back on, but that doesn’t matter when you see the flies buzzing around his mutilated face or his exposed muscles underneath the loose fitting skin. The reader can practically smell the rotten flesh, and it’s insane and weird and incredibly effective. The colouring by Plascencia is good in both the darker moments of Batman’s movements through Arkham and during the brightly lit Joker scene.

The story is interesting and offers some very cool ideas behind the Batman mythos, but the execution, too many ideas with too little time, is a little lacking. The issue is good, but not following up on the potential the story hints at.

Just remember, though...br>
This is the issue where Batman punches out a horse, and then becomes friends with the horse.

Scott Snyder, that’s incredible.


Advance Review: In stores today!

WITCH DOCTOR: MAL PRACTICE #3

Writer: Brandon Seifert
Art: Lukas Ketner
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


Another wickedly fun issue of WITCH DOCTOR, this third issue is. The good doctor Morrow and his band of medical lackeys try to do battle with what looks to be Morrow’s first arch-nemesis. Once again, the team of Brandon Seifert and artist Lukas Ketner dispense medical horror with a twist of wry wit as if they themselves were expert practitioners.

What always gets me with WITCH DOCTOR is Seifert’s clever mixing of medicine and the arcane. In this miniseries, Morrow has come down with a mystical form of a sexual transmitted disease and must use mystic medicines to take care of it. But all of this is a part of a much more diabolical plot from a nemesis from the shadows that we are only just learning about. Turns out, in this series, Seifert is pulling the camera back a bit more for all to see what kind of world a practitioner of medical mysticism lives in, showing a hierarchy of power in the world he lives in from low level black market flea markets (as we saw in last issue) to higher courts of law and order. I love the way Seifert started small in the first series, establishing Morrow and his medical team, and waited until this mini to pull the camera back. It shows patience and maturity as a writer to do so. Also a lot of confidence that the series will go that far.

I can’t say enough good things about Lukas Ketner’s art. Wholly original, while still evoking names like Wrightson, Powell, and Ploog while reading, Ketner owns each and every imaginative redesign of classic beasties in this series. And not only are his monsters fantastic, but the world around them filled with fear are equally realized.

WITCH DOCTOR: MAL PRACTICE is shaping up to be one of the better miniseries of the year. With just enough tongue and cheekiness to make the horror digestible for the masses, the story of Dr. Morrow are filled with all sorts of legendary and modern horror riffs.

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.


BATGIRL #16

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Ed Benes/Daniel Sampere
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler


Tie in books often have the unfortunate distinction of being the redheaded stepchild of the comic book world (as a ginger-bearded man myself, I hold full right to make this claim). They're usually unwanted and lack any actual benefit to the family of books that they are related to; often a cheap attempt by the publisher at cashing in on a popular event, they usually lack any real connection to the main story at all. I am more than happy to report that BATGIRL 16 and the entire run of BATGIRL tie ins for the much larger “Death Of The Family” event have been nothing like the typical tie in book and, in fact, have been just as good as the main story itself.

Gail Simone over these three issues and especially here in BATGIRL 16 crafts an extremely personal tale for Barbara Gordon. While the entire Bat Family is on high alert due to The Joker's current reign of terror, Barbara is dealing with years of pent up rage and frustration for what Joker did to her as a teen. Her cruel paralyzation at his hands years ago has been one of the contributing factors to who she is today as Batgirl. It has made her stronger, smarter and more prepared for the horrors that Gotham can often unleash, but as Simone so masterfully shows us it has also left her extremely fragile and full of unanswered rage (there were times when I wondered in this issue if a certain red ring was going to show up and recruit her for having great rage in her heart). What we get here is not only a story that serves the larger event as a whole very well, but also a continuation of something that has been brewing for years in Barbara Gordon's very soul as a character.

The artwork in the book reflects the personal nature of the story as both Ed Benes and Daniel Sampere do a good job sharing the duties of showing us Barbara's journey through Joker's current schemes. I generally thought they did a good job blending styles as Benes handles the first half of the book and Sampere the last, though there is a clear distinction to the way they both interpret Joker's mangled face and at times it can be a little distracting.

Nitpicking about the artwork aside, BATGIRL 16 is a prime example of what a tie in book done right should be. Barbara's pain is so perfectly written on each page and shows that even the most disciplined an individual can falter when faced with dealing with someone who deserves the harshest form of punishment for their crimes. The entire “Death Of The Family” event has been one of the high points of comic books in recent memory and BATGIRL is no exception. It should be looked at and applauded just as much as its larger story, as Gail Simone has brought Barbara Gordon to a new level that will help build her character for years to come.

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


DAREDEVIL #22

Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Chris Samnee
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Mad Mercutio


When I first heard that Mark Waid was taking over the DAREDEVIL book as writer, I was excited. I love Mark Waid’s writing. He made me interested in Wally West as The Flash years ago. He redefined Captain America after an embarrassing run of stories. He wrote Kingdom Come. However, it had been years since I read his writing. I was hoping he had not lost his touch.

He has not. He has taken DAREDEVIL and made it a must read. What I love about what he does is that he has lifted him from the quagmire of hopelessness, despair, and depression that has been the hallmark of DAREDEVIL these past several years. His DAREDEVIL is fun. Really fun. Great characterization, storytelling, and twists have pushed this book to my pile of books to be read first. The combination of his writing and the art has produced a book that tells classic superheroes stories without sounding dated or childish. There have not been any massive crossovers that feature ramifications that will “Change Daredevil forever!” It is simply great storytelling and great art about an interesting character. This is the Daredevil I love: high flying adventure, interesting, and simply fun. This issue is no different

It is fitting Dardevil is one of, if not the first, major Marvel heroes to meet this new superior Spider-Man in this issue. The two have a long history of clashes, team ups, and wisecracks together. Both are street-level heroes who fancy the acrobatics to deal with the ne'er do wells. With this meeting comes a fair amount of suspicion on DD’s part. One of Daredevil’s friends has sent this new Spidey after DD when she thinks he may be mentally unstable. The thing that breaks them out of the classic Marvel trope of a tussle between superheroes is the appearance of Stilt-Man. Stilt-Man! How awesome is that? It’s a new Stilt-Man with upgrades with which the heroes must contend. The fight is brief and mainly is to show this new Spidey inserting himself in his new role. The following rooftop dialogue resolves the conflict and lays DD’s suspicions to rest for now. The storytelling is crisp and classic. The story ends with a resolving of a conflict between Matt and Foggy that almost feels too rushed, but then again, considering what all these guys have been through over the years, it kinda seems fitting. I mean, really, is there a conflict that a bacon and limburger cheesecake can’t fix?

The art in this issue blows me away. Chris Samnee has a great style that combines retro with a cool, modern, minimalist look. There are two full-page panels that I want as posters. One is an upshot of DD and Spidey looking on at the Stilt-Man makes his appearance for this issue. The other full pager is the moment when DD defeats Stilt-Man. It is pure pop art perfection. Also, here is another little skill that Samnee has refined: his use of onomatopoeia in a panel. I’ll admit that it is an odd thing to make note of, but his use and placement really gives it that great pop art look.

Is it a perfect DAREDEVIL comic book? Basically…yeah. You have Matt Murdock and Foggy characterized perfectly; you have DD being DD, and you have the awkwardness that is Spider-Man/Doc Ock (Spidey-Ock? Spock? No, wait…definitely Spidey-Ock) interacting with our hero. What more could you want from a DAREDEVIL comic?


TOOTH & NAIL #1

Writer: Nikola Jajic
Artist: Gabo Peralta
Publisher: Alterna Comics
Reviewer: BottleImp


Available to download this week is this first collected edition of TOOTH & NAIL, a webcomic that takes a perverse joy in skewering comics, movies and pop culture in general.

Writer Nikola Jajic runs the gamut from the more obvious jabs (such as the ever-popular “Luke made out with his sister…ewwww” trope of STAR WARS nerds everywhere) to genre mash-ups (putting the Predator from the film of the same name up against his most ruthless enemy: Dateline’s Chris Hansen—though I still wish that this strip ended with ol’ pincer-face blowing himself up in a thermonuclear explosion).

Some of the funniest strips are the ones that say exactly what everyone is thinking, like the “Missing Scene in the Avengers Trailer” comic that firmly puts the only two non-powered members of a team full of monsters, super-soldiers, walking tanks and demigods in their place. But my absolute favorite for sheer absurdity has to be “What If Dr. Doom Was From Boston?” For some reason, a beer-swilling, Red Sox jersey-wearing Doom disintegrating Yankees fans whilst spouting homophobic slurs in a heavy townie accent tickles my New England-born funny bone just right.

TOOTH & NAIL will be available to download from Comixology on January 23rd.

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.


NEW AVENGERS #2

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Steve Epting
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: KletusCassidy


"The scale of this...is infinite, and the stakes..." -Dr. Strange

Forgive me, comic father...for I, Kletus Oppenheimer Cassidy, hath sinned...and vow to never do so again. Allow me to confess to you: about two years ago I started reading the beginning of Hickman's FANTASTIC FOUR (and FF) and I decided to stop reading those books because I didn't like the artist at the time. Now, this was about halfway through his run and I decided “well, I'll just read it when the artist comes back that I like.” This decision is usually a valid one for me, but....we're talking about Hickman here, and by the time I got back on I had missed a lot of cool shit. Luckily I caught enough to be blown away at the end of his run (the Franklin Richards/Galactus thing--holy shit!), and have now decided that any run that Hickman is on, I’m staying till the end. I don't care if Liefeld is on pencils, I am sticking around...and this, comic father...I pledge to you.

This issue picks up after some strange beings, possibly from an alternate Earth, show up in Wakanda, kill three of their best and brightest, then threaten the fate of our Earth thus causing Black Panther, much to his chagrin, to reassemble the Marvel Illuminati (if you don't know who is in it...look it up bro!) to deal with a “...multiversal apocalyptic death scenario,” as Iron Man put it. Even though this issue doesn’t involve much action, Hickman does a great job making this an intense, exciting set up for what is about to come. The dialog is sharp and filled with great quotable character moments that make this comic fun as hell. There’s a great balance of foreboding doom as well a wealth of interpersonal problems within the Illuminati (Black Panther and Namor) that not only have to do with the obvious trust issues but the hard choices these self-appointed decision makers of the Marvel Universe must make when faced with the destruction of our universe vs. the destruction of someone else’s. Hickman is building something great with his Avengers books, and I'm pretty excited about it. This issue shows that Hickman can write a smart book that can be ultra-fun at the same time. Again, there isn’t much action in this issue, but seeing The Illuminati batting around ideas of how to tackle this threat with such great characterization is damn fun to read.

Steve Epting is one of my favorite artists; it seems like he does everything right from proper framing of action scenes to facial expressions and using heavy shading to add an extra layer of emotion to those faces and more. I've said it before, but he is one of the best artists in creating mood, which adds greatly to the tense feeling Hickman is going for in his script. Epting is in my top three for Marvel artists working right now and he fucking delivers in this book!

This book is awesome and already better than the last three years of Marvel events--Hickman’s issues of AVENGERS VS X-MEN were by far the best but I still felt the whole storyline was a little forced. Between FANTASTIC FOUR and what is going on in both AVENGERS books, Hickman has crafted some great event material on his own and I'm glad he was able to keep it within his books and not have Marvel ruin those stories by forcing it to be an 'event'. There are so many cool little moments in this book: Black Bolt’s response to Namor when he asks who would destroy another world to save their own, Black Panther and Namor's friendly conversation at the beginning of the issue and the decision to reassem...well, I can't tell you everything, but good god Hickman is crafting something great here and I'm not going to miss a minute of it.


DEATHSTROKE #16

Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Edgar Salazar
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth


Riddle Me This: How Do You Kill the Unkillable Man?

DEATHSTROKE #16 completes the first two-part story with Justin Jordan in the driver’s seat. Last issue DC’s deadliest assassin took on a more challenging contract when he agreed to terminate Koschei, a merciless ruler that is purportedly unkillable. A sniper shot to the head and a few well-placed explosions later, it becomes abundantly clear that Koschei is harder to kill than a cockroach on steroids, thanks to a healing factor that would make Wolverine envious.

Over the past 14 issues DEATHSTROKE has been anything but a spectacular read. The previous creative teams didn’t seem to understand what makes Slade Wilson tick, or why he is such a popular character. Issues #15-16 may not be the greatest stories to feature DEATHSTROKE, but they are an improvement for this series for sure. Jordan seems to at least understand Slade’s character better than any of his predecessors on this title. Slade is supposed to live by his own distorted code of honor and be more than just a badass gun for hire. In the past he has even turned down jobs that he deemed too unscrupulous; Jordan even references Slade’s catchphrase form his 90’s series--“My word is my bond”.

I often wondered why the previous writers on this title forgot to make use of Slade’s greatest asset. It’s not his weapons, or body armor, nor his willingness to exterminate with extreme prejudice that makes DEATHSTROKE so lethal: it’s his enhanced intelligence. Slade’s first attempt to end this dreadful dictator wasn’t so much a failure as it was an opportunity for him to gain the intel he needed to figure out a solution to this perplexing puzzle. Again, Jordan gets it.

Like Jordan, Edgar Salazar is a welcome improvement over some of the previous artists to have worked on this comic. Salazar’s storytelling is clear and makes following the story simple enough, without being so clean that it feels misplaced. Like the story, the art isn’t the most striking I’ve ever seen, but it is certainly better than some other artists working in the medium today.

As a comic title DEATHSTROKE still has a way to go before I would classify the book as must read material. Still, if this creative team can continue to present Deathstroke as more than simply a bloodthirsty gun for hire, they may yet turn this ship around.

Fingers crossed.


G.I.JOE #21

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Art: Will Rosado
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


I’ve written quite a few reviews about how IDW’s current treatment of the Real American Heroes strums all the right chords on my nostalgic heartstrings, taking me back to living room furniture battles involving each and every figure I possessed and (at least to me at the time) an elaborate and serious plot about the end of the world. Back then I took my Joes seriously and so does IDW--specifically Chuck Dixon, who many may feel is an old school writer, and I agree. I also think there’s nothing wrong with that.

I say old school because Dixon is not heavy with clever dialog or even conversational stories. Dixon’s work relies on action. Straight up action you’d find in a Walter Hill film or some 70’s flick with Lee Marvin or Charles Bronson. In this particular issue of GI JOE, the Bronson is a retired General Hawk, who we find fishing and relaxing with Snake-Eyes’ trained wolf Timber in the great outdoors of middle America. Being top dog at GI JOE for so long, Hawk is a valuable source of information and COBRA knows this, so this issue is your typical one man against an army in the wilderness story. It’s a man outnumbered but with a home field advantage. It’s FIRST BLOOD. It’s DEATH HUNT. It’s awesome.

And Dixon excels at this type of hardcore action story. Hawk whittles away at the COBRA troops sent to capture him ending in a standoff which ends predictably, but still entertains.

I remember first seeing Will Rosado when he drew GREEN ARROW many moons ago during Chuck Dixon’s run. Back then, I appreciated his straightforward style which expertly illustrated the sometimes complex and cinematic angles and panels required for an action-centric story. Rosado did a fantastic job then and does one now with this issue with some truly stunning and clean shots of Hawk unleashing hell on some unfortunate Vipers.

IDW is rebooting GI JOE once again with a new first issue and new direction in a couple of months, but if you’re looking for a fantastic standalone GI JOE issue, this one is it.


SAVAGE WOLVERINE #1

Writers: Frank Cho
Artist: Frank Cho
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


So did you notice Frank Cho was drawing this book? Seriously, that alone is pretty much worth the cost of the book. Without a doubt, Cho is one of the best draftsmen working in comics today. I had the pleasure of meeting him years ago, before his comic book work. He was at Comic Con, showing off some Tarzan work while working on LIBERTY MEADOWS. LIBERTY MEADOWS looked great, of course, but his Tarzan work was amazing. It’s a shame (for us) that his syndicated work was keeping him out of comic books so long. But I knew he’d eventually be a big deal in comic books, though I’m still curious as to when he’ll finally get a chance to rock Tarzan for real.

Anyway, to the book at hand: it seems like a marriage made in heaven for Cho and Marvel. Marvel gets another Wolverine book--they can’t get enough of those--and Cho gets to draw jungles, dinosaurs, and the scantily clad Shanna: nearly everything he likes to draw. So everyone on that side of the comic is very happy--what about us readers? Well, as I said above, it’s Frank frick’n Cho. Like George Perez, Steve Rude or Ivan Reis, his books look great every single time. Seriously, have those guys ever turned in mediocre work? Well this issue is no exception, so don’t be too surprised that all I’m gonna do is gush about it. SAVAGE WOLVERINE (shouldn’t there be a ‘the’ there?) is like a Frank Frazetta painting turned into a comic book. Giant lizards that all look awesome from the raptor on page eight to the pterodactyl on page 21. The tough look’n neanderthals getting their butts kicked on pages 10 and 11. The feral goddess in leopard skin bikini Shanna (does she ever feel underdressed?) herself, looking as good as ever on pages 14 and 17. Then there’s a Cthulhu-looking mountain on page three and, of course, Wolverine himself doing what he does best all over the place. It’s just an all-around old-fashioned fantasy adventure yarn starring the runt. To be critical, though, I’m not a fan of Cho’s big panel with many little panels per page layout. While of course the big panels look great, I feel the smaller panels get cheated and the impact of the story is lessened a bit. This is minor, of course, but remember, it’s not a picture book: great comics are blend of story and illustration.

Speaking of the story, that’s the area I’m not too impressed with. To be fair, Cho was trying his darndest not to write a set-up issue, but ultimately that’s what he did, getting the Shield agents and Shanna marooned in the Savage Lands, showing off all the crazy dangers of the Savage Land, and then dropping in Wolverine. So all the pieces are in place and the basic premises has been established--‘we need to get out of here!’ All pretty basic, and, dare I say, boring. Yes, I just talked about how great everything looks, but I don’t feel anything too special going on or that there is anything at stake yet--I don’t see Shanna or Wolverine having too much trouble killing anything that gets in their way to freedom here. The good thing, though, is that the story moves at a brisk pace, yet Cho still manages to fill us in on all those pesky little details that other so-called ‘seasoned’ writers often leave out. The issue is also action-packed, with fighting happening on nearly every page. But overall it can’t escape the fact that it’s all just set-up, and if survival is all there is to the plot, I’m going to get bored pretty soon.

So while Frank Cho doesn’t quite have a masterpiece here, it’s still a damn fine start, and you’d be crazy not to give this book a chance.

Learn more about the Masked Man and feel free to critic his own comicbook endeavors at www.Toonocity.com


Advance Review: IN stores today!

GREEN LANTERN #16 & GREEN LANTERN CORPS #16

Writers: Geoff Johns & Peter Tomasi
Artists: Doug Mahnke & Pasarin
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


This week’s offerings of emerald might simply can’t be read apart. Well, fine…I guess technically they can, but it’s like Donny without Marie (“Soldier of Love”, anyone?),Corey Feldman without Corey Haim (MEATBALLS XII vs LOST BOYS) and Prince Charles without Lady Di (Camilla Parker Bowles is like fucking a lazy tranny – bowls indeed). Solitary existences are fine, but when the sum is greater than the parts and they both sit side by side on the shelf, why deny yourself the full pleasure?

“Rise of the Third Army” was bemoaned for its “eventiness” at the outset, especially in light of the fact the light brigade has been part of one “event” after another since the days of REBIRTH. If we take away the marketing hype and the PR spin, though, what the Green Lantern universe delivers are simply great cohesive stories that just so happen to intertwine through three books. Personally, I’ve become immune to the 42 point font marketing clarion calls on covers, no longer considering these “events”--rather simply the universal cohesion that makes the comics medium a unique experience impossible to emulate elsewhere from cost efficiency and speed-to-delivery.

GREEN LANTERN 16 finally answers (in part) the perplexing fan question of “Why Baz?” I’m not saying the curmudgeonly answer of meeting a diversity quota is wrong; I’m sure that was part of the decision to give this Michigan native the Sinestro/Hal Jordan hybrid ring. However, the measure of a man goes far beyond the color of his skin or whether he looks up, East, or West to find Mecca/God/Shaka Ri.

After last month’s tussle with the Guardians’ new prodigal sons, “The Third Army”, this issue kicks off with Baz somewhat exonerated for the van bomb that obliterated the abandoned automotive factory. This was of course only after his, and appropriately named FBI agent Feds’, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS -style hunt and chase with the true culprit. Now with the government off his ass, he can focus on learning more about the emerald power bestowed upon him and hopefully start protecting Earth. Given the fact the Guardians’ training program is on official hiatus, the universe’s favorite chipmunk B’dg takes the place of Kilowog in schooling Baz on all things Lantern. Of course, B’dg was coming to Earth to get the man Hal Jordan to assist in thwarting “The Third Army”, but few have yet to realize Hal and Sinestro shuffled off their mortal coils a few issues ago. Thanks to the Ring’s 8-track, though, both Baz and B’dg learn the final fates of Sinestro and Hal and now have another mission to add to their queue.

Chipmunk jokes, a rational explanation on why Baz is still wielding a sidearm along with the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, and a tender moment with family are all part of Johns’ recipe of goodness that fans love. It’s these character moments inside the wrapper of universal implosion that have reinvigorated GREEN LANTERN under his charge. It’s a recipe, in my opinion, all comics should follow. Without the dance between the microscopic moments feeding the macroscopic plot, a story will seem hollow or boring. GREEN LANTERN remembers that the entropy facing the universe only matters when you care about the people heading for the abyss.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS 16 is another wonderful exploration of this zoom-in and zoom-out effect I just mentioned. Tomasi wonderfully takes the baton from Johns and starts CORPS a whisper after the events in GREEN LANTERN 16. As has been the case with the past issues of CORPS since the New 52 explosion, the book centers on the doings of Guy Gardner and John Stewart in their battles against The Third Army.

John’s story is the easiest to encapsulate so we’ll start there. He’s basically trying to remain under the Guardian’s radar as they strip Green Lanterns of their wonderful toys. John is also trying to learn what happened to the remains of the Green Lantern planet Mogo, as he’s presently being used to power a world destroying device (and, in an interesting twist, regain sentience). John’s mission is trying to save the universe, but also find a little self-redemption for enacting the final solution against Mogo so many months ago. I never get tired of Stewart; he carries as much emotional weight as Hal Jordan, yet gets half the air time. I’m glad to see CORPS rectifying that.

If we look at the book chronologically and sheer presence of page count, Guy Gardner ends up the focal point of issue 16. Stewart’s interlude keeps the main plot moving, but Guy’s moments are the most memorable. Stripped of his power ring and held in detention for being mouthy without a ring to back it up last issue, we kick off with Guy in the pokey. His alliterated siblings pay a visit to their jumpsuited brother only to be interrupted by the Third Army, Baz and B’dg. Again, the movement between books was seamless, but if you’re too cheap there is exposition that will get you up to speed on why Baz and B’dg have come looking for a ringless lantern. Basically, any port in a storm. The issue ends with Baz, Guy and B’dg moving off to overturn the guardians, thwart The Third Army, and somehow pull Hal and Sinestro back from the great beyond.

I’m all for sub-universe cross-overs. Again, I won’t even call them cross-overs; it reeks too much of an “event.” All titles within a specific “family” should play “just the tip” with the happenings of other books. “The Rise of the Third Army” does go deeper than normal cross-pollination, but each book is rewarded for this, not hindered. “The Rise of the Third Army” is GREEN LANTERN at its best, which says a lot given the delicious biscuit wheels on this gravy train have been moving non-stop now for almost half a decade.

Ahh yes, I should also mention Mahnke and Pasarin did their usual amazing jobs on art duties with cinematic angles and truer angst on characters’ faces as doom descends upon them. Of special note, though, is the same seamlessness of art between books that we had with story. Their work apart can be close, but usually not this close. Which makes me beg the question “Isn’t it tough to draw while spooning?”


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

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