Comics

AICN COMICS REVIEWS: Millar/Quitely’s JUPITER’S LEGACY! BATMAN INC! KILL SHAKESPEARE! DAREDEVIL! & MORE!

Published at: April 24, 2013, 8:55 a.m. CST by ambush bug

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

Advance Review: JUPITER’S LEGACY #1
AGE OF ULTRON #6
KILL SHAKESPEARE: TIDE OF BLOOD #3
Advance Review: WITCH DOCTOR: MAL PRACTICE #6
DAREDEVIL #25
THE SHADE TPB
SAVAGE WOLVERINE #4
FIVE GHOSTS #2
Advance Review: BATMAN INC. #10


Advance Review: In stores today!

JUPITER’S LEGACY #1

Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Frank Quitely
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


@RobPatey: Finished @mrmarkmillar‬'s JUPITER'S LEGACY #1. "comics, world, selves. LOOK at yourselves and sigh defeat." #SoulEntropy‬ @ImageComics‬

Twitter truly is the reporter’s friend in crafting the most concise inverted pyramids. It’s also a wonderful way to harness that final visceral reaction an instant after finishing a book.

Like 1985, Millar once again peels back the first layer of our reality’s onion to expose the pungent truth underneath. Except this time, righteousness and belief in a shiny tomorrow don’t prevail. No, JUPITER’S LEGACY is a mirror darkly reflecting the truths we all feel, but blissfully choose to ignore. We are exhausted in imagination, spirit and morality…and we kind of like it that way. JUPITER’S LEGACY forces us to face the truths of America’s decline from the Greatest Generation to today’s Generation Inert.

We start in the early 1930’s, when America was a nation on the brink of collapse. As bread lines and shanty towns replace the decadent fervor of the Roaring Twenties, a young industrialist by the name of Sheldon Sampson who lost everything in the stock market crash follows a dream—actually, a prophecy, to find a lost island that will change the world.

We’ve seen alternate takes on the birth of heroes before, especially Superman. But where Millar zigs against others’ zags is that humanity is the catalyst for the dawn of heroes instead of some damn dirty aliens (Hey, get off my keyboard, Lex).

It’s in these initial scenes we see a maturation of Quitely’s style. We’ve been waiting awhile for his return, and I’ll tell you now the wait was worth it. As Sheldon traverses the streets of our fallen nation, Quitely paints the urchin experience in vivid detail and splendor. The traditional Quitely complaint of “ugly” is here, but it’s no longer the character’s faces; it’s now an authenticity of the time period’s scenescape.

Back to the plot: Sheldon dreams of an island that will somehow save the world. So he, his love Grace, his brother Walter, and a reluctant yet blinded by Sheldon’s belief ship crew set sail for tomorrow to become the most powerful heroes the world has ever known.

Before we see what happened to Sheldon and the crew, we are whisked forward 70 years to meet their children. They gather at a star-studded gala event at a club with music that’s too loud, paparazzi who are too hungry, and superheroes who are anything but.

This isn’t the KINGDOM COME portrayal of superhero evolution; they were bloodthirsty, yet still were looking to “save the day” even if it crossed all lines of morality. JUPITER’S LEGACY is far more grounded in reality. Sheldon and all of the original heroes’ progeny are worried about their Q and Klout scores versus saving or changing the world. They imbibe copious amounts of drugs, bitch incessantly that the world offers nothing, and focus more on how their visages appear on Instagram versus elevating humanity to new heights of greatness. If this isn’t an indictment of our celebrity culture I don’t know what is. I could take any of the Golden Age’s kids and instantly transpose them with a bunch of fat-ass alliterated K sisters who are famous because their daddy helped release a criminal versus having any real merit of their own.

About halfway through the book, one of the next generation laments “There is just no one cool to fight anymore.” If that isn’t the perfect embodiment of our current propensity to passively protest 140 characters at a time from the safety of our homes, I don’t know what is. Despite infinite resources at the progenies’ and our disposal, we create excuses versus something tangibly fantastic. Meanwhile, the original heroes are out actually fighting whether it’s glorious or not, just as my grandmother riddled with Alzheimer’s disease still tried to make a difference in the world through volunteering until her body literally crumpled.

It’s during this fight that the original heroes realize they are the last of their kind – only one of their children comes to help them, as another cowers off in the distance and tries to pretend he was fighting all along. This is the breaking point for Sheldon, the Superman of the group. In a moment of AUTHORITY-level arrogance, Sheldon decides that perhaps it’s time this original team decides to fix their children and all of humanity in the process. This is also the point of schism between the team. Sheldon’s brother, Walter, is OK with letting time pass, and if sloth is the direction of choice so be it. The kids were born into this world, they didn’t volunteer for it.

It all ends as most catalysts for change begin: death. Well, I think death. One of the kids decides to imbibe one too many lines of designer drugs and takes a nosedive through a glass coffee table akin to the Draino-drinking moment in HEATHERS.

The cynical will attribute the underlying message of this book to a middle-aged curmudgeonly state of mind that happens to each generation. I disagree; I think this societal malaise on American soil is unique to this time period. Never before have we felt such a collective state of helplessness, which is truly bred in large part from our own cowardice in losing the spoils of consumerism. This isn’t just a theory; it’s an idea that has slipped into the zeitgeist and grown daily. I have a graphic novel coming out soon called AVERAGE JOE. While greatly different in plot and tonality, an underlying thread is this degradation of ambition from the Great Generation to its predecessors. Millar and I are far from the only two who feel this way, and with that I can’t believe this many authors independently create work so on theme without it carrying a collective truth.

And with that comes my obligatory critique of JUPITER’S LEGACY. As Sheldon and Walter squabble, I had to question why with all of their wonderful powers, now is only the first time they think they should do something. Basically, I felt almost too much of the book is close to our own reality. I have to believe if humans were truly imbued with superpowers two generations ago, Obama would not be in the White House today, the world economy would not be collapsing, and our advances in space and science would be light years ahead of our reality. Again, my graphic novel is different. In AVERAGE JOE all of humanity gets some form of Superman’s powers, where in JUPITER’S LEGACY it’s only the team and their children. Also, each has powers that range from super punches to Professor X-level reality warping, instead of my constraints of the basic five power set. However, even if it was only a small number of people gifted with powers, I believe the butterfly effect would have been greater and its shockwaves felt much sooner than in 2013.

This is a nit, though, that is easily overlooked given the rest of the book’s splendor. I already mentioned Quitely’s maturation of style, leaving the wrinkles on the clothes instead of every face in the book. Millar has also matured. He has crafted a tale where the characterization is as original as the plot. Where there is more message than sensationalism and shock value. Where the book haunts you for hours after reading it, instead of merely stroking your fanboy boner during the initial read. I pray from the depths of my soul JUPITER’S LEGACY is more than a mini-series. There is so much to explore here, so much character depth to uncover, so much societal reflection to take place, I don’t want to see one moment of it rushed because of page count.

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.


AGE OF ULTRON #6

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Carlos Pacheco and Brandon Peterson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


The carnage continues as we past the halfway point of BMB's Ultron opus. Bryan Hitch has stopped drawing the book, for a variety of reasons I'm sure--he did say it was boring. This covers two time periods: Pre-Ultron drawn by Carlos Pacheco and Post-Humans by Brandon Peterson. Each of them does a decent job putting the story to panels. Though I felt some of the layouts were inelegant--like, did Wolverine really pop out his claws one at a time and even say a line between them? Odd. Also, I'm curious if this was a bit of a rush job. Pacheco is one of the best artists in the business, but you wouldn't know it from this issue. Still, unlike previous issues, this one wasn't loaded with pointless panels showing the same thing over and over again. I like that.

Overall, though, the series still comes across poorly executed. While scenes by themselves can be great, like Hawkeye saving Spiderman in issue one, in the context of the whole story they are clunky, spending so much time and effort on a scene that did little to tell the plot. In fact, Spiderman and Hawkeye haven't really done anything since, and this issue is no exception when it comes to questionable story choices:

A team of heroes have time traveled to the future, where Ultron is, to stop him. Nick Fury, calling the shots, sends Quicksilver ahead to scout while the rest of the team will fly around out in the open, suspended by Storm (not sure why Fury thought that was a good idea). So what did Quicksilver scout? Nothing, I guess, as he was soon flying around with the rest of them with no explanation. Soon they were all attacked by zapping Ultron heads--zaps that vary in effect, as it took about ten to slow down Storm and one to blow Captain America's head clean off (hey, I told you there was carnage in this issue). I'm also unclear on the time travel laws BMB is using here. It's stated that Ultron is attacking the present from the future, so the heroes of the present travel to the future to stop him. But in the future, Ultron already rules the world--but if he ruled the world before he attacked the world, why would he attack? Now if history changed because he attacked the present, then why would he attack in the future? Did you get that? I know I didn't.

The one good section was Wolverine and the Invisible Woman traveling to the past to kill Henry (Ant/Giant Man) Pym, the inventor of Ultron. Being a time travel story, there was actually drama on whether or not Sue would allow Wolverine to kill him. The story could go both ways very effectively. I assume this is the concept that got BMB the green light to make this series. On some level it reminds me of Scarlet Witch in HOUSE OF M (something BMB wrote as well): one moment in time that changes the Marvel U forever (or until the status quo returns).

Now, I get what BMB has been doing these past five issues: making things so bad that issue six would be believable. I get that, and it's a good idea; I just wish it was better constructed. But as with the Phoenix Five showing up in AVSX, AGE OF ULTRON finally has something interesting to say. Question is, can BMB gets this series back to the level of craftsmanship we expect from him?

Learn more about the Masked Man and feel free check out his comic book CINDY LI: THREE OF A KIND at www.Toonocity.com


KILL SHAKESPEARE: THE TIDE OF BLOOD #3

Writers: Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col
Artist: Andy Belanger
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Lyzard


Yesterday was the anniversary for both the Bard’s birthday and death. Only a playwright of his abilities could have brought such symmetry and irony to his own life. It is also apropos that the third issue of KILL SHAKESPEARE: THE TIDE OF BLOOD is released today and features the return of our dear Shakespeare.

We find him playing the fool at a local tavern, referring to himself as Free Will. But his good times are short-lived, as Will comes across one of the most classic fools from his own work: that of Twelfth Night’s Feste. This jester brings word of Hamlet and his companions’ venture to Prospero’s cursed island. Will is terrified by the news, and so should he be, as Hamlet is being tortured by Caliban and the ex-lovers Romeo and Juliet are left to fight against the island’s magic and unrequited passions.

It is this last storyline that I found to be the weakest of the past two issues, but Juliet is no pushover. TIDE OF BLOOD #3 is a rarity for a Shakespeare adaptation, as it features multiple portrayals of strong women. Yes, Miranda is cuckoo and Lady Macbeth a psychopath, but that does not take away from their strength of conviction and ingenuity. The two villainesses depend on each other more than men, and Juliet is not some lovesick puppy as per her usual depiction. Would I like to see another female heroine amongst the bunch? Of course, but I’ll take three strong, independent women (deviant moral natures aside) over the usual damsels in distress any day.

Straying away from Shakespearean tradition is when KILL SHAKESPEARE is at its best. The last half of the prior run was stronger than the first few issues because it deviated from the typical interpretations of these well-known characters. THE TIDE OF BLOOD has the advantage of already taking place in a world far from the original settings, with the fourth wall between players and creators having been torn down. But when the heroes journey to Prospero’s island, the depiction of the setting was at first rather traditional. One can hardly say whether Andy Belanger’s style of Caliban is original, as he is probably the most adjusted Shakespearean character in regards to visualization. But what Belanger chooses to do with Prospero’s “study” works as both an homage to the source material and a giant leap from anything put to paper, canvas, stage, or film.

If only Del Col and McCreery went in the same direction. Some scholars have complained that there were not enough adherences to the language of the source materials. While it is fun to have lines from various plays pop up out of context or in the mouths of new characters, this sort of wit borders the line between playful and pretentious. In juxtaposition to Belanger’s fresh take on the material, the near-Elizabethan speak struggles to be accessible while also faithful.

That being said, though the dialogue has lost its freshness and I grow weary of numerous characters, some innovation does remain, especially in the hands of Belanger. What I worry for now is that the final two issues fall back not on the original works of Shakespeare, but that Will’s rescue lends itself too much to the creators’ own past material.

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.


Advance Review: In stores this week!

WITCH DOCTOR: MAL PRACTICE #6

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


WITCH DOCTOR: MAL PRACTICE #10 wraps up the second series from Kirkman's Skybound Entertainment. As most second series do, this one expands on the world mapped out in the first series where medicine and the macabre combine in the cleverest of ways. Schmelding these two subjects together is writer Brandon Seifert, who coninues to amaze me with the new medi-occult terminology he comes up with in every issue, while artist Lukas Ketner continues to communicate the right amount of horror and humor in his ultra detailed panels.

This miniseries had Doctor Morrow being infected with a magical STD after sleeping with a random monster disguised as a beautiful woman. It's all an evil scheme hatched from Morrow's opposite number, a magician named Nostrum and this issue has the two mages clash big time while the rest of the medical team is left to clean up the mess. The monster girl named Penny continues to be creepy as hell and though this series has her laying low most of the time, this issue gives her one whopper of a moment showing how monstrous she really is. Seifert even gets a bit meta here as he brings in the Surgeons, the Cenobites of this medical influenced world (those who don't know it, Seifert also writes the HELLRAISER comic for BOOM!). Though the plot is rather complex, it never feels that way, as Seifert provides characters you both identify with and some you may never understand.

The art continues to be both lose in the action scenes and ultra detailed in the ones involving gore. There are some amazing creature designs at play in this book, expecially when it comes to Penny. Ketner improves with every issue to be one of the best horror artists at work today.

Anyone looking for an entertaining way to do magic in comics should look no further than WITCH DOCTOR. If you missed this series, I'm sure it'll be out in trade soon, so be sure to pick it up then to enjoy the adventures of the good doctor Morrow and all of the fantastic medical/magical terminology to be found in this 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.


DAREDEVIL #25

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


I love this series. I don’t think there has been a single disappointing issue since it rebooted. Oh sure, the quality may have waxed and waned a little, but the issues remain at the top of my reading pile every month.

Let’s take a look at the art. To me, it has been a small miracle that DAREDEVIL has been able to remain consistent on its art for two years. Whether it has been Paulo Rivera or Chris Samnee, the book has had great art the whole way. The lines are clean and the colors clear. Some of the covers have been suitable for framing. In this issue Samnee does not fail to deliver. Check out the first panel on page 3 for a great example of perspective. It is amazing to me that what appears to be a more simplified art style can deliver such a sense of vertigo.

I have not kept it a secret that I am a huge fan of Mark Waid. He is still delivering on this book. It’s the kind of run that feels so right that you never want him to leave. There are some spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution: Matt has met an adversary in this issue that is a perfect counterpoint to him. This person, Ikari, has been given the same powers that Matt has and apparently has been trained to use them. He does not have the lifetime of training that Matt has, and Matt assumes this is to his advantage. He’s wrong. This issue ends with DD being let go by this new foe and Ikari promising DD that he will soon meet his end--he just doesn’t know when or where. Great stuff.

Plus, I love this foe. I’ve always loved the fights that pit the hero against someone similar to the hero. Spidey vs. Venom, Daredevil vs. Bullseye, Hulk vs. Red Hulk , etc. Not since Bullseye have we seen a villain who fits this role for Daredevil.

I have loved the character of Daredevil for a very long time. It all stems from a short story in a book called MEET THE MARVEL SUPERHEROES. It was a great find for a little kid, and I did not really know much about DD up until this point. The blindness of the character intrigued me. His will and determination caught my interest as well. After researching the character and buying back issues for years, I now have a pretty good picture in my mind of who DD is and what type of story works well for him. I can point to the last two years of Waid’s run if anyone is ever interested in exploring the character and say that this is it. Great characterization, interesting stories, humor, mystery, and swashbuckling action all rolled into one story.

I’m excited to see the big reveal and see who the boss is behind the scenes pulling the strings. Here’s hoping to Mark Waid staying on this book for a long time to come. If you have ever been interested in the character, pick up this run in trades and then start getting the single issues. It is totally worth it to see an old school Marvel character written so well.


THE SHADE TPB

Writer: James Robinson
Artists: Cully Hamner, Javier Pulido, Frazer Irving, Darwyn Cooke, Jill Thompson, Gene Ha
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


I often transcend to platitudes because I simply love comics. I find deeper meaning than what most will see because I have an overactive imagination, which leads to tainting of the facts at hand from the extrapolation of my own mind.

Even still, there are very few books I will extend the adoring descriptors of perfect, meticulous in design and execution, and a heroes’ journey in spirit, space and time. THE SHADE, however, deserves all of these medals of honor and so much more that I can't even begin to convey it with the constraints of human language.

I avoided THE SHADE during its original run, despite the glowing reviews given by people whose taste I find impeccable. Having never visited Opal City in Robinson’s acclaimed STARMAN run, I felt a book about his nemesis required too much homework to fully enjoy. These fears became even more apparent as the story opened with The Shade and Starman sharing a spot of tea on the veranda.

However, with one line, “October brings melancholy”, I knew I wasn’t about to read a story of capes and fists alone. I was about to read poetry in motion.

After a few more word bubbles my fears began to quell as Robinson used this conversation to put Starman to bed and bring The Shade out of the shadows.

The Shade is an immortal--a relatively new immortal, having only been bestowed his dark powers in the 19th century. A relative infant of immortality, if you will, when placed against long-in-tooth characters like Vandal Savage and Madame Xanadu. This is important: much of this story (honestly, the whole crux) is steeped in the last remnants of his pre-immortality family trying to steal The Shade’s genetic death repellant. I also learned that The Shade is in love--with a cop no less. Not the traditional anti-hero or vigilante relationship. I also learned The Shade was longing to once again feel a connection to humanity that seems to plague all immortals at one time or another during their long long sojourn. When The Shade’s love, the aptly named Hope, called the mysterious Richard Swift “Dickie”, Robinson placed the final icing on the cake of endearment.

All of these humanizing moments were wisely put into play by Robinson well before we learn one lick about The Shade’s actual powers. Good thing, too--I usually deplore magic. It’s an often easy escape route that makes me shut down at the mere mention of the word. With The Shade, though, I was fully vested in this man of eloquence and deep soul-searching before one dark shadow was cast, so I could have cared less if his powers came from magic or were imbued by rubbing the taint of God himself. With his poetic way of speaking, his undeniable charm and unflappable demeanor, I was salivating for his journey ahead.

And what a journey awaited me. I’m almost glad I shunned THE SHADE on the first go round; reading all 12 issues in this compiled collection was a comic feast I wouldn’t have wanted to be doled out to me in small morsels over the course of a year. Once the drama began I simply couldn’t stop reading. Here’s a good time to mention how SHADE skirts continuity while embracing it. It’s a rare feat, to be sure, but somehow Robinson pulled it off. Basically, by the end of the first issue THE SHADE is believed to be felled at the hands of none other than Deathstroke the Terminator. You don’t need to know who Deathstroke is to get this moment--another testament to Robinson’s exquisite writing. However, knowing who he is gives you an extra special tingle that all your years of reading comics have paid off. It’s a delicate balancing act more writers and comic universes should imbibe.

Once this assassination attempt fails (I mean, we all knew it would), Robinson kicks the action and plot into high gear as Shade travels the world and his own memories to uncover the killer.

The Shade never travels through time, but we as readers sure do. Each clue in the now requires Shade to search back in time for the answer. Since his progeny is out to get him, he must travel through the ages to uncover his past trespass. The artistry that is used to make these transitions is where the book transcended from good to a classic.

Generally, artist hand offs mid series are the result of scheduling gaffes and sloppier than the Elephant Man eating soup. With THE SHADE, though, it’s a flawless handoff of tonality. Cully Hamner handles the here and now. Darwyn does his Silver Age best as Shade reflects back to the 1950’s, focused on a very ambitious ancestor that could be the result of his current problems. Javier Paulido brings Spain to life with vivid detail as we whisk between today and yesteryear to meet La Sangre, Spain’s Dark bloodthirsty Knight. Jill Thompson delivers her usual lush beauty to bring alive the lace and ornateness of 1901 Paris, where Shade’s clues make him go back to the time of his foppish progeny’s panache for opium, men and magic. Irving brings his dark dark pencils to the most harrowing moments of the book, where death and magics more arcane than Shade’s lay waste to old London town. Ha closes it all with a quiet but appropriate whisper that it is now time to move on.

I’m left with so many questions….where is Shade in the New 52? Have I missed him? Why didn’t Vertigo take in The Shade? Why was XOMBI cancelled? God, that book was good. These are all good exclamations of regret; I loved THE SHADE, hence my bitter longing now for more.


SAVAGE WOLVERINE #4

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


Uber-star Frank Cho continues his Wolverine pet project, drawing the two things he loves most: chicks and dinosaurs. Dare I say he's the modern Frank Frazetta, or at least this could totally be one of Frank Frazetta's pet projects as well. Either way, the book looks great, and since Cho interjects so much humor and charm into the story it's much more than an excuse to see his drawings.

First off, Frank has done great job writing a Shanna the She-Devil and Wolverine team-up, which this story basically is. Each of them has a different sensibility, while both are major bad@$$es. Watching them get in and out of trouble is a hoot, like any classic buddy picture. I hope we see more of this pairing and maybe even couple in the future. Then there's Amadeus Cho, no relation (oh, that was a stupid joke!), one of the smartest men on the planet--is he still supposed to be a boy? Well, Frank handles him really well as the charming know-it-all. Amadeus' 'partner' here is his computer A.I., Calvin. They come off like Batman talking to Alfred. So even with all the carnage, these are just fun characters to watch do their thing.

In the last issue, Cho set up a counterpoint to Shanna and Wolverine's master plan (set up in issue #2), which is blow up a mystic barrier. With opposing goals the three clash, leading to Shanna being killed. This issue she gets better, and then it's a race to prevent Wolverine from destroying the barrier on his own. Before the issue wraps, another Marvel heavy hitter pops up for no reason (as did Wolverine and Amadeus Cho), causing one to speculate about what's really going on here. Whatever it is, it does guarantee Wolverine a really crappy time next issue. All this is written, as I said earlier, with such charm and wit it's hard not to enjoy it.

As for the artwork, it's Frank frik'n Cho! The guy is a master draftsman. As his charming dialogue gets you through pages of talking heads, his beautiful illustrations get you through pages of action. Pages 15 and 16 are perhaps the best looking two page spread I've seen in a long while. And unlike the one in a recent JUSTICE LEAGUE (which was a pointless eye candy shot of a video game that had no story impact), these pages actually fueled the scene and the story, making you go 'holy crap' as Wolverine says “Aw cripes.” No doubt about it, this is a damn good looking book.

So this series has improved by leaps and bounds since the first issue, which was a bit tame. Since then, SAVAGE WOLVERINE has become a very entertaining book to read as well as to look at. Makes me curious how the book will fare once Wells and Madureira take over in issue #6.


FIVE GHOSTS #2

Writer: Frank Barbiere
Art: Chris Mooneyham
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


Rarely these days do I find myself getting into new comics. Either I read books for review or the AICN COMICS podcast, or I pick up my usual pull of comics I’ve been reading for ages. Usually I skim through new number ones, and even though they may seem intriguing, I am not inclined to follow the book after that first initial taste of the first issue. Sure, money is a factor. It is for all of us, but also, I find more than often to just not want to get into a new story and a new universe. That’s just me. I’m a curmudgeon.

The exception to the rule is FIVE GHOSTS. Having been able to check out an advance copy of the book last year at SDCC, I was thrilled to find out that Frank Barbiere was able to get his book published by Image and I could read more about the amazing adventures of Fabian Gray, a man possessed by the spirits of five literary ghosts. Though there is plenty of plot to unfold, issue 2 proves to be just as satisfying as the first issue if not more so, in knowing that there will be more issues and more hauntings to come in this series.

Barbiere’s action leaps off the page and kicks you in the taint in this issue as Gray becomes possessed by the barbaric vampire soul within him. Though we can’t name names in this book, one can tell it’s Dracula haunting our hero. Barbiere gets around using names by allowing the art to do the talking, and it does so amazingly.

The book sports a fantastic, artistic blend of Klaus Jansen and Sal Buscema with Chris Mooneyham’s work here which dazzles in every page. Every panel is more vivid and action-packed than the last. His renditions of how Gray uses his powers is fantastic, communicating volumes without a word having to be spoken. Mooneyham also draws a mean spider…or spiders, as this comic is full of giant scary ones! And every page is spotlighted in gorgeous singular colors by S.M. Vidaurri and Lauren Affe. This is a gorgeous book.

FIVE GHOSTS is one of my favorite new books to come from Image in a while, and I hope for a long life for it. Fans of books like THE UNWRITTEN, KILL SHAKESPEARE, and LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN will be intrigued by the premise, but surprised that while slightly similar to those books, it is wholly original. This book is highly recommended.


Advance Review: In stores today!

BATMAN INC. #10

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


All right, comic fans: here’s one where the WTF pays off. How fandom will feel about Bruce’s self-inflicted transformation into literal bat will no doubt resonate from loathing to loving, but nonetheless you will be surprised.

Honestly, the cover only portrays 1/3 WTF. Bruce doesn’t just gear up for his final battle with Talia by visiting Dr. Langstrom. There are a few other stops that happen in between, filled with end-game dialog as Morrison once again implodes the Bat-Universe.

This issue actually opens with Bruce visiting his old friend Azrael. We don’t quite know the end-game yet, but this moment resonated for the simple reason Morrison finally calls to light the corporate and logical fallacies of Bruce Wayne officially funding BATMAN. Azrael mentions being part of BATMAN INC. as Bruce explains the liquidation of this kimono-opening entity. I don’t know if this was the end game all along for the concept, or an acknowledgement of fan-boy decrying. Either way, I wasn’t expecting it and I applaud either Morrison or DC for hearing our voices and not playing ostrich. Just so you don’t feel bad for Azrael, he does get deputized.

Next stop: Lucius Fox. Here we see Lucius poorly handle the public embarrassment of Batman Inc.’s slush fund-like corporate provisioning and then equip Bruce with some battle tech with so much aggressive torque it has injured every other operator.

Then finally Bruce gets a spot o’ Langstrom’s gene-splicing juice. I wondered months ago why Langstrom was the Batman second stringer anointed for resurrection, and here’s the answer. A final panel of Bat-Bat-Azrael-Mechadroid swooping straight at the mouth of Leviathan. Uhhh…I should mention Burnham’s visual is far more enticing than my description.

Before we get to that scene the rest of the book is all Talia all the time. Talia tormenting her son, her imprisoned father and herself as Ra’s raises a possible chink in her grand plans’ armor.

Morrison is never afraid to crank things to 11; sometimes it’s wonderful like BATMAN INC. and sometimes it’s not. No matter what, though, he takes it to the limit. You can’t sustain a supernova forever, of course, so while I’m sad to see his star go dark, Bruce has already earned a break and we still have a few issues to go.


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

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