AICN COMICS REVIEWS: BATGIRL! UNCANNY X-MEN! WARLORD OF MARS! FIENDS! & MORE!
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE #19
UNCANNY X-MEN #4
WARLORD OF MARS #23
Indie Jones presents GIANT ROBOT WARRIOR MAINTENANCE CREW #1-3
BATMAN & RED ROBIN #19
Indie Jones presents FIENDS #1
UNCANNY AVENGERS #6
Advance Review: In stores this week!
JUSTICE LEAGUE #19Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis & Gary Frank
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
As I expected, after last month’s recruitment session, this JUSTICE LEAGUE serves to utter the quiet murmurs that will crescendo into a cacophony of chaos in coming months.
Longtime fans won’t experience much shock or awe at the Gatefold WTF moment of Batman taking down Superman with a hunk of homegrown Kryponite; what is shocking is that once you get inside the opening pages Batman isn’t the one wielding the green death. We don’t know who it is, actually; all we know is a clandestine figure with open access to all Bat-Cave systems knew exactly where to find Batman’s cache of Justice League-busting weaponry. If I was Batman I probably would have mislabeled the suitcases in such an event (i.e. put the Kryponite inside the case labeled for the Flash), but I also understand that page counts are sparse these days and a page of the nefarious burglar opening suitcases doesn’t make for the most exciting moments in comics.
Now, what was truly WTF worthy is the second story in this book, where Superman and Wonder Woman enter the global political theater. In a moment sure to enrage FOXians and other right wingers, Supes and Wondie decide to enter the sovereign nation of Kahndaq to end a hostage situation after the US was specifically told to stay out. That’s not the part that will piss off disciples of Limbaugh, though--it’s the duo’s rationale for this raid.
Khandaq has stood as “that” ethereal Arab nation for a longtime at DC – sometimes it’s been Iraq, other times Afghanistan – not geographically, but politically. After the raid, Supes and WW have a moment of introspection where they justify events by saying all of the unwanted occupations and bombing of innocents haven’t changed a damn thing over the years. That’s a pretty bold statement by Johns, and even bolder is how this changes the tide of comics. The last time Superman thumbed his nose at the American way in ACTION 900 there was a comic outcry. Now with the two biggest heavy-hitters singing a similar tune, someone will need to step as the antagonist to this choice. Dangerous ground, as quipped by Batman who was spying on the couple: this is how villains get started.
What’s interesting is that Bats approaches the two with a velvet glove instead of the aforementioned hunk of Kryponite and whatever the hell he has tucked away to subdue Wonder Woman. He also brings up the fact that their hidden relationship is anything but. This was a great character moment, as Bats shows genuine concern for their well-being versus simply being an information stream control freak. Despite the pleasantries, I’m sure I’m not the only one who will hear the Trinity Wars’ battle drums off in the distance. Months ago we all thought this upcoming schism would be caused simply by forbidden love; this moment just upped the stakes to a battle of ideologies for all comic characters.
The rest of the issue follows a similar set-up cadence, but with less gravitas and more fun. With some league members investigating the bat-cave to find out who walked away with the Kryptonite, Firestorm and Lady Atom are left alone in the watch tower. That is, of course, after Atomette finishes her dungeon raid in World of Warcraft. Great little character moment made greater for those of us who truly wish we could shrink ourselves and actually step inside Azeroth. As an MMO player, though, I will wish her ill will for blinking out halfway through the raid – unacceptable whether late for an appointment or not. She gets payback, though, as Despero crashes down the doors of the satellite on the last page.
Reis delivers great pencil work, especially during the rising tension behind the trinity. Pain and anger adorn Wonder Woman’s face in every panel. Reis also does a great job of portraying Superman with a hanged lasso-whipped expression on his face. Don’t judge--we’ve all been there.
The SHAZAM back-up continues to deliver on all fronts. Again, I truly hope there’s a plan here to meld the JUSTICE LEAGUE and SHAZAM threads; I would hate to think this gold has festered at the back of the bus for so many months with no good reason.
JUSTICE LEAGUE has had an awakening creatively since “Throne of Atlantis,” and while the past issues have been a respite action wise, it’s clear this is simply the walk before some great running in the near future.
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.
UNCANNY X-MEN #4Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Chris Bachalo
Publisher: DC Comics
Revewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
Following last issue’s confrontation with the Avengers, this time around sees Cyclops and his group return to the Jean Grey Institute. The conflict between the two sides (more on display in Bendis’s ALL NEW X-MEN) is more focused, giving Emma time with the Cuckoos or with the new batch of students. Bendis does a good job of exploring the ramifications of AVX, and for each flaw there’s strengths to be found.
During his AVENGERS run(s), Bendis was accused of forgetting character development or past actions, changing he characters to tell the story he wants to tell. It’s a trait he’s carried over with him to X-Men, and I have mixed feelings, leaning towards accepting the changes for the sake of the comic. It can be annoying at times (the Cuckoos seem…different, with Bendis at the pen), lacking some of the cohesion and continuity of the titles. But the characters still make sense, they still are these characters, and it contributes to the story Bendis is telling. Emma and the Cuckoos read slightly off, but they still do ultimately feel like Emma and the Cuckoos, and the story Bendis tells with them still feels real. And Bendis is still one of the premier superhero storytellers today, able to make debates between man-with-claws and dude-with-laser-eyes engrossing. Bendis is a good writer, so what small problems we run into are worth it for the greater while. They don’t negatively affect the story (maybe just its cohesion with other stories), and rather let Bendis play to his strengths.
My adoration of Chris Bachalo’s art is well documented, but it’s worth reasserting for his work on this title. Bachalo knows what he’s doing with the art in this issue, whether it be the obvious symbolism of a white wall of silence in Emma’s head or little moments like the colouring of a clearly troubled Magik. It’s relentlessly creative and very inspired, communicating the story with just little touches here and there. His control of the characters and the world around them is very good, providing the book with life. The little moments of acting for the characters are interesting and well done, imbuing every character with real personality. At the same time, it’s full of Bachalo’s personal style and skill, cartoony in the best possible way.
A large portion of the issue focuses on the new recruits of the Xavier Institute, and seeing how they play off one another. Already this cast is able to create believable relationships and interesting connections, and Bendis just spends more time elaborating on his new cast. Just as one of WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN’s greatest strengths lies in Jason Aaron’s ability to create new characters, Bendis has made his own Jr. X-Men squad, each one with some real personality. They’re not just cut out models of characters we’ve seen before, but instead real characters with real personalities.
,br> A solid issue of a solid series, and I didn’t even get a chance to address Bendis’ handling of Cyclops (actually pretty cool).
WARLORD OF MARS #23Writer: Arvid Nelson
Artist: Leandro Oliveira
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man
There seems to be trouble on Mars these days, as it’s been nearly three months since we've seen an issue of Dynamite's WARLORD OF MARS. To get my copy I had to shake down my local comic book store, which is a shame, because I still feel this is a quality book.
In this issue Nelson has hit the halfway point of adapting Edgar Rice Burrough's third book of John Carter, entitled WARLORD OF MARS (PRINCESS OF MARS and THE GODS OF MARS were the first two). It continues the chase across the Martian landscape as John Carter seeks to rescue his wife (the famous) Dejah Thoris from the last Therns (Mars' religious cult) leader. In this extended chase scene, John battles some crazy polar creatures, gets his first look at yellow martians, paints his skin to go undercover and perhaps dooms the air fleet he has called in for support. Since I haven't read the original book, I can only assume that the whole story is all Burroughs, which is a great planetary romance-filled action and sci-fi fantasy. I give Nelson the credit for figuring out how to cram this all into a comic book which moves at neck break speed, so if you hate decompressed stories, this one is for you. In the first story arc Nelson did a great job. The second story arc started strong but got rushed at the end. Even though this story arc is set to be one issue shorter, Nelson is controlling the pacing quite well.
One of the things I like about John Carter is his combination of determination and physical might. He's the toughest guy in the room, and he is going to get what he wants (thankfully he's a good fellow). To a degree I feel that this was what DC wanted to do with Superman in the New 52. He's not here to play nice. You step out of line, like threatening his friends or family, and it doesn't matter how rich or powerful you are--John Carter is taking you down. In the last story John busted up the Therns, the religious rulers of Mars. In doing so John has caused a radical change in Martian culture. The Therns, and their allies, are now trying to restore the status quo and take revenge on John through his wife. Not a smooth move as the determined John Carter has tracked them all the way to the arctic regions, and you know there will be a whole lot more limb chopping off when he catches them.
The artist for this story arc is Leandro Oliveira, a much more seasoned artist than the last one, though not quite on the level of Stephen Sadowski and Lui Antonio, who both illustrated the first story arc. Oliveira has good figure work and handles the Martian creatures and technology very well. I hope he can continue to improve his work, because you can tell he's not quite prime time ready. Still, he's a lot closer than a truck load of other artists who have seen print.
Lastly, you really can't go wrong with Joe Jusko's covers. Yes, I can nit-pick that he's no Alex Ross or that I wish the covers reflected the inside stories better. They still give each issue a nice classic adventure feel that the books are--not old school or modern hip, just classic.
So I hope Dynamite can get this book back on a tighter schedule because it is delivering some good Barsoomain action, before and after the ill-fated movie.
Learn more about the Masked Man and feel free check out his comic book CINDY LI: THREE OF A KIND at www.Toonocity.com
GIANT ROBOT WARRIOR MAINTENANCE CREW #1-3Writer/Co-Creator: Nathan Hill
Artist/Co-Creator: Mervyn McKoy
Publisher: Cosmic Times & Paperlab Press
There’s a sub-genre—well, maybe it’s a sub-sub-genre—that pops up every so often on the comic book stands, one that takes a swipe at the overblown grandeur of the average four-color hero and ever so gently reminds the reader of the ridiculousness of the overall concept. It’s the “behind the scenes” comic book, the comic that adds a touch of grounded humanity to unbelievable events. This semi-satirical glimpse behind the curtain has always been one of my favorite themes, whether it be a day in the life of the Avengers’ beleaguered butler, the daily grind of the construction crews doomed to repair the catastrophic property damage caused by superhero slugfests… or in the case of GIANT ROBOT WARRIOR MAINTENANCE CREW, the poor saps who live in the bowels (some literally) of a Voltron-like space-robot and make sure that the damn thing remains in one piece.
Nathan Hill gives the reader a glimpse inside the inner workings of the colossal Herotron robot through the eyes of Erica, a young recruit just beginning her career as one of the crew on the Herotron’s maintenance team. Erica quickly sheds her naïve hero-worship of the megalithic mechanical man once she sees that the real heroes aren’t the space pilots flying Herotron, but the rag-tag group of poor slobs who work desperately to keep the tin can from falling apart. Aside from substandard equipment and innards that are constantly breaking down, Herotron suffers from space parasites (in the crotch region, of course), a mentally unstable accountant roaming the darkened corridors inside it and a team of arrogant, narcissistic and, in one case, possibly mentally deficient space pilots determined to ignore every safety precaution the maintenance crew advises.
This miniseries was a hoot to read, and it certainly made me look back on the favorite Japanese cartoon of my childhood in a different light. Hill crafts a fast-paced, comedic action story that gleefully thumbs its nose at the giant robot genre while giving his protagonists an engaging story, making sure that the comic stands on its own rather than becoming 100% satire. Though there aren’t any obvious pop culture references within (other than the Herotron team’s spot-on costumes and absurd call-and-response every time they gear up for a fight), I can see influences of other similarly-themed works sprinkled throughout. The zeal of the space pilots (especially their leader Tristan) in chasing down and destroying weak and unassuming “enemies” echoes the grandiose “heroics” of “Futurama”s Zap Brannigan. The pilots’ control room is guarded by a robotic sentry that brings to mind the personality-infused automatons of Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”, and the space parasites are distant cousins to H.R. Giger’s Alien, though much easier to kill.
Mervyn McKoy’s artwork is a great match for the subject matter. Usually I’m not a huge fan of the manga look in comics, but in this case the Japanese influence is a no-brainer considering the source material for this giant robot. McKoy gives each member of the crew his or her own distinct visual character, making sure that they remain individuals rather than blending into a mass of jumpsuit-clad carbon copies. His page layouts work well both for action scenes and in the very rare sedate moments. There are times when his anatomy gets a little soft, but all in all the art in GRWMC is just as effective as the writing.
One last little detail about this miniseries that I loved: the reader never, ever sees Herotron from the outside. The closest we get is a silhouette on a schematic. And why should we? After all, this isn’t a story about the glitz and glamour of a thirty-story flying robot—it’s all about the poor bastards making sure the damn thing works. And trying to cure a case of galactic crotch-crickets.
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.
BATMAN & RED ROBIN #19Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Tomasi is a tits writer, Gleason’s magic stick is his pencil; whatever I say from here forward is ABSOLUTELY no reflection on the creators of this book. That is, of course, unless it was their idea to give us “just the tip” of “jazz hands” Carrie Kelly. In case you’re reading this review for the advertised WTF moment, I’ll tell you right now: Carrie’s not Robin; she’s not even close to becoming Robin. Harper Rowe was more in the running a few months ago. Sadly, the real WTF moment was nary a whisper on anyone’s list as Bruce looks to resurrect Damian sans a Lazarus Pit.
First, I feel the need to educate the young bucks and buckettes of comicdom. Carrie Kelly was a young high school student from the future--the future as Frank Miller saw it in 1986 when he looked 25 years ahead to create his masterpiece the DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. While I find his modern work to be shit incarnate, back then Miller was a forward-looking genius, and in hindsight a sage prophet. I can’t even begin to, so I won’t even try, to set the mood of DKR. If we just focus on Carrie, though, she’s a girl who idolized the then-retired Bats. She comes from a home of not abusive parents, but certainly anesthetized by pot, pills, and the electric allure of 24 hour television. They bitch about the state of the world and how to fix it, but never put plan into action. Remember, gang--in 1986 no one knew what Gen X and Y would be like as parents 25 years later. I think Miller hit the nail on the fucking head, even though he missed the part about posting inactive action on message boards. Carrie, not content to just be a passive observer in life, dons a Robin costume (most likely purchased online) and helps to fix the problems her bleary-eyed parents simply bitch about.
I was really excited to see this sage satire reflected once again on the pages of BATMAN & RED ROBIN, given we are actually in the timeframe that DKR took place. After all, the rewrites would be minimal since Miller did all the heavy lifting. Nope…this Carrie Kelly is a musical theater major that Damian was taking acting classes with. I’ll let that sink in a minute…
These book-end moments would have been fantastic, because again Tomasi is tits in my opinion, if it was anyone but Carrie Kelly. These sections especially resonated with me because I am in the 1% of straight men in America with an MFA in theater, and choose to watch PBS broadcasts of Les Mis on Sundays as opposed to Footballs. Carrie is a saucy and fun young adult--she really is. She also has a caring heart for Damian, which leads her to Wayne Manor to find out why this young talent stopped taking lessons…and to get payment, of course. She is a good character, just not THE Carrie Kelly.
As for the rest of the issue, I have nary a bad word for it. Batman is becoming unhinged; his grief over the loss of Damian (and the rest of the family) is wearing his soul incredibly thin. In a desperate effort to right Talia’s wrongs, Bruce actually finds a way to abduct Frankenstein to learn what made the monster come back to life. Frankenstein and his S.H.A.D.E. team are DC’s answer to the HELLBOY crew, and sits as one of the most underrated titles of the New 52. Every issue has been amazing in weirdness and a touching exploration that the human soul does in fact exists within monsters. Sorry--back to BATMAN & RED ROBIN. So once Bruce deciphers where Frankenstein’s lab is located, he flies a bound Frank to his Daddy’s lab and starts the dissecting.
RED ROBIN comes into the fray because of a desperate plea from Alfred. Great continuity here as Tim laments any contact with Bruce based on the events of “Death of the Family”, and even better follow-through once the two finally come face-to-face-to-Frank’s dismembered head.
I loved this issue--I really did. I’m OK with an unhinged Bruce. It shows a level of humanity I wish we saw more of twenty-five years ago when Jason bit the big one. Gleason does amazing work playing the lighter fare of Carrie’s adventure, juxtaposed against the dark moments as Bruce tries to find the spark of immortality. I just have a lot of wishes after reading this. I wish this was old Carrie, not a New 52 Carrie. I wish I had seen moments with Damian taking acting lessons instead of it being a ret-con allude. I guess I wish I was in an editorial position at DC, which will never happen. So, if we take solely what is, this was a damn fine issue, just not the issue I would have written.
SEX #2Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
I’ll start off this review by saying that you should all thank me now that I’m not the kind of guy that would embed the 90’s “classic” music video “Let’s Talk About Sex Baby” by Salt-n-Pepa here for a cheap laugh and move on. Nope, not that type of guy at all….
…. Bah. So tempting. Anyway. The kind of guy I am (besides being one that giggles like teenager in Anatomy class when it comes to naked parts) is one that is super-analytical when it comes to a book like this that is absolutely begging to be overanalyzed. It’s why I’m on this site and do what I do on its pages. This combination, I will admit, is making it really hard for me to properly dissect Joe Casey’s latest poke and prod at the superhero genre, as I cannot tell if I’m trying to find more layers to this book than I am in hope that it isn’t as superficially tongue-in-cheek as it has mostly shown thus far or if my tittering like a schoolgirl is causing me to miss some deeper themes to which Casey and Kowalski are striving.
From the get go I kind of feel that the way SEX has been presented with its sensationalized title, the scintillating and seamy covers, etc. are so overdone that they’re perfectly done. Honestly, if you’re going to go for it, go for it, and knowing Joe Casey and his body of work, he’s never seemed like anything but the shameless sort, to his credit. I appreciate the boldness of it, if nothing else. The problem is, after two issues of this comic title now, I’m not entirely convinced there is much else beyond the sensationalism, try as I might, because it has not yet reared its head.
What we know with SEX is that Simon Cooke is your Batman kind of sort: rich, Anglo, obviously has issues to the point that he trained himself into a weapon and waged war on the criminal element. He retired at some point, for whatever reasons, but is now back in his stomping grounds of Saturn City to at least be the billionaire philanthropist side of life. He also, since returning, spent several pages of his comic watching two girls get intimate with each other, walked through an orgy in a brothel now run by the Catwoman analog to his Batman, and turned down a blonde “all you can eat buffet” hired to be in his estate. He also has ridiculous chin hairs, but it’s obvious the main thrust (yeah, I apologize in advance for these) for this book is to cock-tease its lead, who obviously has repression issues. That’s where the real problem lays so far, I believe; the idea of sexual repression when it comes to these individuals who essentially dress up in fetish gear and then exert raw physicality on “evildoers” has been one batted around with superhero comics for ages and I, for one, am glad to see someone tackle that subject head on. The matter that lies underneath the playful cover is that the material has all the subtlety of a hammer to the head--or, in the case of this issue, a bullet to the head of a girl getting railed doggy style.
Other things are happening in SEX, but it feels the tawdrier bits of the book overshadow them all. Dishwasher Keenan Wade is being chased by armed men around the city and launches his dirt bike at them and detonates it with an explosive device. I have no idea why. We also meet a gangster known as “The Old Man”, apparently filled with stress (presumably from the return of Cooke) and responsible for the deadly load I mentioned last paragraph. That’s a thing that happened. But the brunt of this issue is still more teasing and prodding for our lead, and I’m still not quite sure where that’s going. There feels like there has to be more beyond just a whisper of the fetish theme the book (and one would assume Casey as writer, given his pedigree) is begging to explore, but there is nothing in this issue that I feel I am missing to point me in the direction that it is coming.
When it all comes down to it, that’s what SEX is so far; all tease, no climax. There are absolutely bits in here that I think work: the overlaying premise in general, the depravity of “The Old Man” considering that we’re supposed to buy into how much of a cesspit Saturn City was before Cooke donned his vigilante garb works out despite its odd nature, and I begrudgingly like how there’s a play on the Catwoman/Batman relationship between Cooke and Annabelle Lagravenese and it is sordidly appropriate given what the book is supposed to be and what the city it takes place in represents. Also, I think Kowalski’s pencil work does very well to bring that playfulness to light, though I don’t think the coloring tends to go way too hot or cold with its tones and tends to overwhelm the lines. I get the “neon” effect it’s going for in some the tawdrier bits, but when the scant amount of action this book has so far hits, it’s kind of blinding, as well as being too subdued for the slower bits. And, actually, that right there is really my overall feelings on this book so far: when it’s hot it feels like it is trying too hard and burns too bright; when it’s cool it’s so subdued I really do not get any build off of it, I just get a guy who looks impotent. I think SEX could actually achieve something great if it wasn’t so willing to go more for the cheap thrill than tackle the fetishy, psychological undertones of the superhero genre (or, hell, the comic book industry in generalized form), but until it transfixes itself more on the latter than the former it is relegating itself to just being that: a cheap thrill.
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.
FIENDS #1Writer: Timothy Tyler
Art: Timothy Tyler
Publisher: Self Published (find out how to get this book by emailing the creator here)
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
For those who don’t know, Timothy Tyler was the inker behind some of the coolest horror and indie comics of the 80’s (FAUST, RAZOR, DREADSTAR, BLOOD REIGN, HADES & ENGINE). The creator has gone the self publishing route, and as I myself have been looking across the vast comic book landscape for which to publish some of my own creator-owned stuff, I admire Tyler for bucking the system and doing the whole damn thing himself. This is true indie comic booking and an art in itself, as it means he must do everything from drawing and writing to making sure the staples are aligned. His first effort is a reboot of a concept he began in the early nineties called FIENDS.
Meant to be an old school horror anthology series, FIENDS is an artistic achievement on every page. The first story centers on a troop of rogue WWII gunmen who, after surviving a bloody battle, take out their aggressions on their German POWs. As they dump the bodies into a nearby lake, it awakens an age old Nazi experiment--Hitler’s Cthulhu Army! This story is vividly told with pulpy shots of gore and violence coupled with dynamic angles and panels. Though this is the first part of the story, this looks to be a pretty fantastic romp, not taking things too seriously and addressing that war is not all about honor. Sure, it’s a bit cynical, but it does seem much more realistic given the motivations of the troop who are filled with pent-up rage. It looks as if all of that rage will be able to be released in the next chapter as the EVIL DEAD-like zombie Nazis emerge from the waters with vengeance and maybe some tentacles in their rotted eyes.
The second installment features “Super Frankenstein” and is more of a lead in again to a longer tale set again during WWII as the stronghold of a mad scientist is infiltrated only to uncover that Frankenstein lives--and this time he’s super! Again, Tyler’s artwork is hyper-real, highlighting all of the mad science and gore to gruesomely cartoonish levels.
Both stories seem to capture that EC Comics feel made modern a while back by TALES FROM THE CRYPT. There’s a gallows humor and a flavor which reminded me of the old PLOP series DC ran ages ago that comes out on the expressionistic and creative artwork. The whole thing is printed on old school newsprint and as I was reading it, I felt as if I had unearthed some treasure in an old abandoned attic or a county flea market. You just can’t get that feel with digital these days, and comics are lesser because of it.
If you’re interested in supporting indie comics, do yourself a favor and zip Timothy Tyler an email and check out this gorgeous book!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 3. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s 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 from Zenescope Entertainment & GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81. Look for GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES available in February-July 2013 and the new UNLEASHED crossover miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS WEREWOLVES: THE HUNGER #1-3 available in May-July 2013! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.
UNCANNY AVENGERS #6Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Daniel Acuna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
I'm sure glad Marvel is printing this book, because THE AVENGERS series itself just bores me. So without UNCANNY AVENGERS, I wouldn't be dropping any coins in Marvel's Avengers cash box, which I believe is the point for having multiple titles of a character or team. Don't like that one? Try this one. Unfortunately, companies often treat them like a cash grab by forcing the titles to crossover.
I suppose you've now figured out that this is going to be a positive review. Well, here's why: Plot, character and execution. Remender is building a very interesting plot here, first with Rogue killing the Grim Reaper (the super villain, not the concept) in the last issue and now with Kang doing, well, what Kang does in this issue. Suffice to say he's all about pushing dominos here. Second, Remender has a good grip on Thor (it's basically a Thor comic!),and the other characters as well. Third, because Remender understands how to let a story reveal itself to you, opposed to simply withholding information to cause interest. It's also his use of the characters that builds the plot, as opposed to forcing the characters into the plot. This is a well done book.
Now let's talk about all that cool plot stuff. Right off the bat you got a pre-Mjolnir Thor throwing down with Apocalypse (shades of the current story in THOR: GOD OF THUNDER). Just a great fight scene really well drawn by Acuna: the shot of Thor in the mud and the rain--nice! Follow that up with some good head butting between Thor and Odin (and Loki makes three). Perhaps typical fare for a Thor story, but it's all building to something. Next Thor mixes it up with Apocalypse's horsemen--not a pretty sight. Although the art work is a pretty sight--anyone need a used bear’s head? Follow it up with some more good character moments and the final payoff, plus a promise of some really good $h!t to hit the fan later. Bring it, Remender!
As I mentioned, Daniel Acuna plays fill-in artist this month giving John Cassaday the issue off (Olivier Coipel gave Cassaday last issue off). Seems that Cassaday, like Kevin Maguire (clearly his favorite artist), is quite slow in knocking out a regular book. I'm often curious how these artist make ends meet when they only pick up six or eight pay checks a year, but I digress. As Coipel before him, Acuna does a really good job bringing this story to light. Dare I say some of his best work yet, as he handles the moody tone really well.
Lastly, I'll open my mouth about the so called controversy of the last issue (since I missed it--the controversy, that is). So Alex Summers doesn't want people using the word mutant anymore, and some how this equals a straight white protestant man not wanting to be called a heterosexual caucasian christian male anymore--or worse ,rejecting that he's a straight white protestant man and so should everyone else (mind you, you can replace any of my descriptive terms with any others that you prefer). If that's what you believe after reading that page--reading it, not hearing what someone thought about it--then you are part of the problem, my friend. You are more interested in starting a fight than finding a solution.
Ok, back to issue #6. UNCANNY AVENGERS is the best Avengers book being published right now; it almost makes up for the whole AVSX we had to go through to get to it!
BATGIRL #19Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Daniel Sampere
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
I don’t say this often, but no Taiwanese lady-boys were needed to get this guy salivating over BATGIRL 19. I refer of course to lame stream media’s fervor of activity over the reveal that Babs’ roommate tucks before he/she slips on his/her panties/boxers. And before anyone asks, this was not the intended WTF moment from the gatefold cover – you don’t slide it open to see Babs’ kicking in the teeth of the TO WONG FOO cast. Before I praise this book, I just had to lament that the mores in states sans coastlines are about as progressive as an episode of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, and that 99% of the world still simply does not get the comic medium.
Don’t let my rampant immaturity give you the wrong impression; Simone used her usual grace and eloquence to broach the issue of Babs’ double-life and her roommate’s as well. It was a sweet and endearing moment between two friends. Babs opened the kimono half-way to tell her BFF what The Joker had done to her in the past without giving away the whole store, if you get my drift. Likewise, her friend shared the fact that her clitoris isn’t some engorged appendage mutated like in a bad Ed Wood movie. This was about one and a half pages of the book. So next time you meet someone from the Associated Press, please spit in their face and punch them directly in their transgender, please.
This was one of the few WTF gate-fold books that provided an honest to God wallop of WTF. Of course, nothing is really WTF these days thanks to the spoiler likes of…well…people like me, but still, the execution can still deliver a gut punch even when the concept leaks months ahead of time. How do I know? Because Simone did it in spades for this book.
I’m a sucker for James Gordon Jr. I have been since Snyder was crafting this little “freak on no leash” way back in pre-52 DETECTIVE. He’s not just creepy, he’s a level of insanity that I would say puts him on Joker-level creepy. This guy relishes in the pain of others, but does it without an ounce of joy. He’s a new level of calculated killer that would have never enticed a Silver Age audience, but resonates fine and dandy in this new dark world we all live in. Simone does a great job reintroducing James’ particular brand of nutty by having Babs reflect on a moment in childhood when they would watch horror movies together. James doesn’t look away from the screen out of fear, but out of shame for the killer’s slasher sloppiness….brilliant! Since then James was nuthin’ but trouble for the Gordon clan, culminating in his now outright vendetta against the family Gordon.
The true WTF moment asks whether Barbara will unleash the ultimate solution to stop JJ’s reign of dy-no-mite terror. She doesn’t do the deed, but someone else does, and it TRULY was a WTF moment. I’ll also say it wasn’t Commissioner Gordon, either. Of course, the door is left somewhat open as to whether James is actually dead, but at the very least this Oedipal wound is sure to sting for a bit. Palpable danger is set in place for next issue, as Gotham PD witnesses this righteous murder from afar and makes the assumption that Babs is the culprit.
Simone is meant for this book, and I hope any future scuttlebutt about her leaving or jumping ship remains simply in the land of conjecture instead of sour grapes.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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