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AICN COMICS REVIEWS: WOLVERINE! THE TRUE LIVES OF THE FABULOUS KILLJOYS! SPACE 1999! LIBERATOR! & MORE!



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

Advance Review: LIBERATOR #1
WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #31
THE TRUE LIVES OF THE FABULOUS KILLJOYS #1
Indie Jones presents SPACE: 1999 AFTERSHOCK & AWE OGN
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #22
Advance Review: OCCUPY COMICS #2
THE SHADOW #14
WOLVERINE #4
Indie Jones presents THUNDERPUSSY #1
THOR: GOD OF THUNDER #9
Advance Review: GREEN LANTERN NEW GUARDIANS #21


Advance Review: In stores today!

LIBERATOR #1

Writer: Matt Miner
Art: Javier Sanchez Aranda
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


Being an animal lover myself, I can’t help but get behind a book like LIBERATOR. Black Mask’s newest book continues the trend of publishing books on the precipice of the moment, covering issues other companies are too afraid to cover or more accurately, say they cover, but only touch on the topics as safely as possible so as not to alienate their corporate sponsors. LIBERATOR pulls none of these punches, focusing on the issue of animal abuse, neglect, and exploitation head on.

What I like most about this book, which follows a young and idealistic animal rights vigilante named Guerrero who sabotages locales such as animal testing facilities and dog fighting rings, is that he is portrayed in an imperfect light. There’s a seemingly throwaway moment in this issue where Guerrero, seeing a man talking with a child on the street, immediately jumps to the conclusion that the man is trying to accost the child. Guerrero starts cussing out the guy but soon finds out that he is the boy’s uncle. This showed a moment of humanity and really fleshed out the character that could have so easily been made into a perfect and infallible symbol for the cause. Here it shows that the writer Matt Miner has enough insight to show that there can be mistakes made by those who are looking to help but are not totally informed about what it is they are fighting.

Without being too preachy, Miner lets the characters’ actions define the message passed in this issue. One of the problems some might find in books with a cause like this is that it becomes an infomercial and story takes a backseat to the spouting of facts, but Miner does a good job of focusing on story, letting the story give the message, a much more entertaining mode for me to learn. It also helps that Miner makes Guerrero a likable yet unlikely hero who lacks confidence and experience, but has a good heart.

Though most comic book vigilantes focus mainly on gangsters and supervillains, it’s interesting to see these real life vigilantes take on a cause more seeded in the here and now. How can one not support a book which sticks up for abused dogs and cats? With 30% of the proceeds going towards animal charities, you can also feel like you did your part by picking up this interesting new series and giving it a chance.

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.


WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #31

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


With all the hoopla surrounding Bendis’ jump into the X-verse, people seem to have forgotten about the elder statesmen of NOW, WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN. Before the original fab five were thrust forward from the 60’s…I mean 80’s, Jason Aaron was already bringing the X-verse back to its plain and simple roots as a school for mutants. Alive with the frivolity of youth, but also forever juxtaposed by Wolverine’s surliness, WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN above all other X-titles remembers that comics should be fun…damn it…harrumph!

While an integral part of the X-verse adventures, especially with the original team now under the roof at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, the book has never been mired in events. It’s lived as a wonderful bastion of hope despite the cataclysmic events of the past year. Even now, as the original team is split down ideological lines, Aaron alludes to events without ever miring the title in them. The students come first in this book, with their training to be tomorrow’s X-Men always a priority.

I know many who tried this title and jetted because of a distaste for Chris Bachalo’s art. If so, come back. Bradshow is nowhere near as stylized, but still offers a unique and fresh feel. Then there are some who simply didn’t like the “jokey” air of this title (including this reviewer in the first issue). Fear not; the jokes have been tempered greatly without suffocating the fun. And there are finally those that simply hate the oversaturation of Wolverine. Well, to those folks I will say this is a very different Wolverine than any other book. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Wolverine as a guiding mentor instead of a killing machine. Also, he’s only a small part of the title – again, the book is about the students with a smidge of the happenings in the various professors’ lives.

Issue 31 is a great jumping on point for the newbies and those that have strayed from the flock. As we begin “The Hellfire Saga,” new threats loom, old relationships are tested and now there is yet another splintering of the race to control all of the new mutants cropping up across the globe.

If you think Scott Summers School is “evil,” this issue will make you think again. Personally I don’t think Scott’s mission is evil; I call it self-preservation, but that’s an ideological debate we can save for another time. The Hellfire Club has always been evil incarnate, but it feels especially icky now that the Chess-based leaders are all disciples of Bieber. Kade and crew’s adolescent visage is a stark juxtaposition to the dark cynicism of their souls. I laughed at the concept at first, but as time passed it became more of a bold decision than a mistake. After all, how many more times do we want to watch Sebastian Shaw rise and fall?

The kiddie leadership remains fairly behind-the-scenes for this issue, instead letting professors like Mystique, Dog Logan and Sauron bestow the next generation with evilocity. Teaching classes like Public Relations for Psychopaths, Better Living through Superior Firepower and Getting the Most for Your Soul When Dealing with the Devi,l the act of villainy has been legitimized in a way we never saw back when Emma Frost was running her crew of bad guys. It’s not as subtle, but WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN has never been the subdued type of book. With adventures that ranged from intergalactic casinos to following Doop around for a day, you must be willing to plant your tongue firmly in cheek to enjoy this title…sorta.

For as much camp Aaron infuses into the book, there are genuine moments of emotion as a respite. Quentin Quire has truly grown as a character throughout the series, and never more so than in this issue. As much as he and Wolverine have had a hate-hate relationship, there’s definitive respect between the two--so much so, that even though Quentin joined the Hellfire Academy as an F.U. to his headmaster nemesis, he’s remembered some lessons on right, wrong and teamwork. Sensing something rotten in Denmark when students never return from detention, he throws himself headfirst into the Black King’s clamping maw.

I know I tend to be an X-apologist because of my love for this side of the Marvel Universe, but on the same token, I’m not a babe in the comic woods. Basically, I know when I’m blowing smoke up your ass and I do try desperately to temper my fervor in those moments. With WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN, though, this is no bullshit or hyperbole. It’s one of my first reads in my weekly big pile o’ comics, and with how many books I get it says something about title quality and consistency to rise above all others month after month.

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.


THE TRUE LIVES OF THE FABULOUS KILLJOYS #1

Writers: Gerard Way with Shaun Simon
Artist: Becky Cloonan
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee


Let’s start off this comic review with a music review, shall we? My Chemical Romance – Gerard Way’s black garb-wearing musical ensemble – always held a space in my heart for my downer moments, despite a upbringing full of “burn it down” punk rock. Honestly, I never saw them in that generically used “emo” light because I never saw the band and their music as depressing and brooding for the sake of being those things, but more as a band just willing to tackle subject matter that is on the sad side of what we live. This became more apparent as the records kept coming out and the songs more operatic and the outfits more garish, culminating in the record “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys” which, to get the point of doing this intro this way, I felt had its heart and energy in the right place, but lacked some of the punch and focus of the band’s previous efforts. And now do you see where I’m going with this?

THE TRUE LIVES OF THE FABULOUS KILLJOYS very much feels like that (sadly) ultimate album by Gerard Way and crew: garish, energetic, full of heart, but not as much of that focused emotional body blow the previous material had. I’ve used the f-word a couple times now (“focus” this time, not “fuck” for once in my fuckin life) and really that is the faltering, if anything, of KILLJOYS, both the album and the comic book. It’s not that I’m knocking the album compared to material like “The Black Parade” and the comic to Gerard Way’s previous comic endeavor THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY because I wanted them to be the same tonally, but because I wanted them to be comparable on a consistency basis. It’s the schizophrenia of the works that holds them back I honestly feel, not any sort of unwavering predisposition I had of an opinion of what My Chemical Romance the band or Gerard Way the comic book writer were to me.

Here is what KILLJOYS the comic book does well: it has panache. There’s swagger here in that what the book is creating is cool because it has style. It’s Tarantino on those days when he’s letting the style flow instead of editing more “fucks” into his dialogue. It’s a book full of audacious clothing, laser blasters designed after Duck Hunt light guns, pornobots, and super pasty, look-alike vampires in white suits. It has enough excess and flair to make Liberace rise from his (I assume) jewel-encrusted grave and give it two snaps and a “fabulous!” and you can thank the lovely Becky Cloonan for bringing it to life so vibrantly. Alongside all the pretty pictures, though, is a fragmented story that makes me scratch my head as much as it makes me appreciate the creativity at hand.

Essentially, the story is about a young girl who when even younger was under the protection of the Killjoys, a blaster-toting group of rebels who died with her under their protective wing. She goes to a bartering joint looking for food and happens to find the mask of the former leader of the Killjoys, Poison (because why not), has an altercation with a new group of flamboyant fighters called the Ultra V’s and ends up in an altercation with the aforementioned suit-wearing vampire guys trying to put weird feral homicide-inducing masks on a couple they have tied up and are tormenting. Yup. In the midst of all this the also aforementioned pornobots have some sensitive moments and one is seen to sleep with some mask-wearing baddies from Better Living Industries who is called off to go after the V’s, whose headquarters they finally tracked down. Now, I know four paragraphs in is kind of a weird place to do the synopsis of a book but if there was anything to drive home my overlaying point of “this time the style definitely came before the substance” this mess of a paragraph is definitely the deal sealer.

Now, all that said, the style here may not be what I fully wanted, but it is exciting in its own way. The attitude of the V’s carries some of the middle and end sequences of the book. The reverence being paid to the Killjoys via radio broadcast helps build a solid mythos in their world and a classic “Us versus Them” story of the rebellious forces of good versus the eeeeevil forces of conformist bad known as the BLI. But my god did I really fail to find whatever deeper meaning I was meant to absorb, if there even was any outside the standard “loss and regret” angle of the girl the Killjoys died protecting and the “it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees” motto the Killjoys and V’s are representing. I’m willing to continue with this series in the hopes something more resonant hits, or that further issues show me why I was supposed to care more about things that went down in this debut one, or even just to watch Ms. Cloonan go even more all-out with her designs, but out of the gate I’m more inclined to believe this book seems weightier than it really is. As it stands, though, these visual KILLJOYS are much like the audio “Killjoys” I experienced three years ago: There’s some great strands in here that really make me bob my head in approval but there’s also a lot of disjointedness in between. Maybe it’s my fault for expecting a little more structure in a dystopia, but even the wastes of society usually have some meaning behind them.

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.


SPACE: 1999 — AFTERSHOCK AND AWE OGN

Writer: Andrew E.C. Gaska
Artists: Gray Morrow, Miki, & David Hueso
Publisher: Archaia Black Label
Reviewer: Professor Challenger


So, in our neverending quest to take even the most obscure forgotten nostalgic television franchises and milk them for the modern day, Archaia brings to your local comic shops a massive graphic novel: SPACE: 1999—AFTERSHOCK AND AWE.

Now, I realize that I am literally the only person reading this who even remembers SPACE: 1999, and a lot of my interest in the show was my budding puberty and the presence of the sexy Barbara Bain (of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE) fame in the cast. However, that being said, the early-to-mid-70s was not particularly notable for high-end sci-fi TV shows. Sure, we had the SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN/BIONIC WOMAN shows going. We had a quickly cancelled, and pretty lame, PLANET OF THE APES TV show. There was the also the quickly cancelled GEMINI MAN (about a secret agent who could turn invisible). In general, sci fi was not the popular thing it is today. It’s amazing what the appearance of STAR WARS could do in terms of completely shifting the entire paradigm of what the masses crave in popular entertainment. I cannot emphasize enough how difficult it was for the few closet geeks like me out there who were stuck watching chopped-up reruns of STAR TREK and LOST IN SPACE every day to find a fix of something space-related that was actually new!

SPACE: 1999 was from the same guys who brought us a show I used to watch as a wee child called UFO. In fact, it’s almost a kinda sorta sequel to that show. In 1970, they set UFO in 1980. And in the mindset of those days where we had just recently walked on the moon for the first time, I am sure the expectation was that surely we would be regularly jetting in and out of space and battling space aliens right and left by 1980. By 1999, surely we would have moonbases established with humans living and working on the moon as easily as, say, living in Arkansas or something.

And that was the premise of SPACE: 1999. In 1975, it was set 24 years in the future in the year 1999 and Moonbase Alpha is where our intrepid team of scientists, headed by Doctor Helena Russell (Barbara Bain) and Command John Koenig (Martin Landau), live and perform futuristic experiments. When an unexpected thermonuclear explosion propels the moon out of Earth’s orbit, Moonbase Alpha is hurled along with the runaway moon into deep space. While hurtling through space, they encountered all kinds of bizarre 70’s-style aliens and monstrous threats. They had cool vehicles like the moon buggy and the Eagle space shuttle. For the times, pre-STAR WARS, they were pretty well done. I actually remember drawing the Eagle once, copying it from the SPACE: 1999 comic put out by Charlton Comics at the time.

Which brings us to this 172-page graphic novel from Archaia. This is a very well done book, and it is unique. One of the things about SPACE: 1999, the TV series, was that we never really had a peek at Earth. It all took place on Moonbase Alpha. And since, in the pilot episode, the moon was tossed out of orbit there really was no reasonable way for them to explore Earth in terms of stories because for all intents and purposes the relationship between Moonbase Alpha and Earth was forever severed, sSo, we never really got to see how that futuristic society had evolved or what the politics of the time were. We had some hints given, and the show itself did much of what STAR TREK had done in the prior decade and presented morality tales that touched on issues current at the time of the series. And what writer Andrew Gaska does in SPACE: 1999—AFTERSHOCK AND AWE is a three-fold stroke of brilliance. First of all, he tweaks the premise slightly to explain how we can have the events of SPACE: 1999 happen when we still have a moon and no moonbase in 2013. Gaska posits that the world of the series was set in an alternate reality where JFK was never assassinated and the space program progressed much faster and farther than it did in our reality. Secondly, he takes the original Charlton Comics adaptation of the pilot episode, in a story titled “Awe” with remastered art by the late, great Gray Morrow, and reprints that story. And thirdly, he then picks up after that with a story called “Aftershock” that picks up the story on Earth so that the reader can see the aftermath. What happens to the Earth and the people in the days, months, and even years after the moon is torn from its orbit and hurled into deep space?

So is it any good?

Well, yeah. I think so. I honestly think the adaptation by Gray Morrow is the superior story, but I’m biased since I’m an old-school comics guy with a nostalgic bent. That being said, the new stuff illustrated by Miki and Hueso is also pretty solid storytelling in a more current style. The two styles are not particularly compatible, but they work within this context because of how it is presented. That visual jump in styles from a classic old-school 70’s style of comic art to the more modern digitally enhanced stylings of 2013 comics art adds to my enjoyment.

I like how the “Aftermath” story breaks it up into focusing on separate characters for each chapter so that the reader gets different perspectives as to the impact of such a cataclysmic effect. This book is solid sci-fi entertainment with a nice tinge of nostalgia. It took me awhile to read, mainly because of the density of the writing in the reprinted adaptation of the TV-series pilot. It’s good, strong sci-fi with enough to satisfy the old-school readers and younger readers if they can get past the 1999 in the title. Give it a try. I think you’ll like it.

Prof. Challenger is Texas artist and writer, Keith Howell. You can read his stuff here and over at profchallenger.com. You can also get in on the ground floor of his new endeavor, "Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from Comic Books" here.


AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #22

Writer: Christopher Yost
Artist: David Lopez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth


The end is the beginning is the end...oh, the hell with it.

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN concludes with Issue #22, and in order to go out with a bang, it appropriately features the first encounter between the Superior Spider-Man and the Punisher.

It seems that a new Mysterio is lurking about, and Spider-Otto does not take kindly to those who rip off his former associates’ labels. As fate would have it, the Punisher has also taken notice of the antics of the new Mysterio; this of course brings the Superior Spider-Man sharply into Frank Castle’s crosshairs.

By now it’s no secret that even though AVENGING SPIDER-MAN ends with this issue, Spider-Otto’s pairing with other costumed characters will continue in the pages of SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN TEAM UP. AVENGING #22 actually feels like it has a lot more going on in its pages than it should for a book that is closing up shop. In fact, it hardly feels like an ending and functions more as a channel for what’s to come.

Ideally, I would have preferred for this issue to have focused more on this first get-together between the Punisher and pseudo-Spidey. Be that as it may, it unquestionably conveys Frank Castle’s opinion on the radical direction Spider-Man’s crime fighting appears to be going. Let’s just say Frank is not opposed, but has his doubts about the wall-crawler’s ability to handle the path he has chosen. Otto-Parker also makes his feelings clear about the Punisher’s meddling in his affairs, and promises him that further interference will not be tolerated.

The original Hobgoblin shows his ugly mug for a few panels, as it turns out he has a linking to this all new Mysterio. Oh, and as for Mysterio? Well, he spends most of this issue second guessing his decision to accessorize in the ever fashionable-fishbowl and running like hell from the two vigilantes. The final pages leave us with an image of the near complete collection Otto has been accumulating since Spider-Man went from amazing to superior.

I would like to think I’m going to miss this title. I rather enjoy the tightly weaved one or two issue format. I’m also pleased with the solid collaboration by Yost and Lopez on this title. Alas, the changing of the guard in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN shattered the status quo, so I guess Marvel figured they could tell more diverse tales by ditching the limitation of teaming Spider-Man exclusively with other Avengers. It’s a bit odd canceling AVENGING just to do basically the same thing with the new title, especially given that Spidey’s already teamed up with the non-Avengers like Devil Dinosaur and the Future Foundations brats in previous issues of this very @#%ing title. Luckily, Yost and Lopez AREN’T going anywhere either; they are the creative team that will be bringing us SUPERIOR TEAM-UP.

So for what it’s worth, a door closes without leaving a void. In a few short weeks there will be an all new superior spider-book hitting the shops. So save your tears. It’s not an ending at all, but more of an uncalled-for strategy intended to give fans of the superior a new jumping on point and, no doubt, increase sales in the process.

Oh well, thank goodness; for a minute there, I didn’t know what I was going to do with the extra $2.99 per month.


Advance Review: In stores today!

OCCUPY COMICS #2

Creators: Alan Moore, Mark Sable, Molly Crabapple, Si Spurrier, David Mack, Joshua Dysart, Shannon Wheeler, Riley Rossimo, Anna Wieszczyk, Megan Hutchison, Bill Ayers, Zoetica, Smudge, Matthew Rosenberg, Patrick Kindlon, Joe Ruff, Matt Miner, Sean Von Gorman, Kelly Bruce, Allen Gladfelter, Salgood Sam, Matt Bors, Ryan Alexander-Tanner
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


If you’re like me, you look at today’s politics and can’t find anyone worth rooting for or believing in. For me, being old enough to see one regime replaced with the next over and over with close to no changes when it comes to my life and the world around me besides things getting tougher for all, makes me damn cynical when we talk about the government. So though I have reservations, I am very interested in the Occupy movement and what it’s all about. Being personally involved in the making of this comic, you can scream PLANT! as loud as you can if you want to, but since my story isn’t going to be showing up until the third issue, I feel it’s ok for me to at least try to look at things as objectively as possible. Now, I am going to encourage you to give it a shot as I did and I will admit, that while there’s a lot of the Occupy movement I do support, I feel the need for more info on the subject before throwing all my belief into it. So while I have a story in the book, let’s say that I’m still making my mind up about the whole darn thing.

That said, there’s a lot I like about this issue of OCCUPY COMICS, which features some extremely talented artists and storytellers. First, the pinups: from David Mack to Riley Rossimo, this book has some very iconic and powerful imagery backing it. These single page attempts to capture moments of the movements or exact feelings behind it are definitely worth checking out and proof that a picture truly is worth a thousand words.

And speaking of a thousand or so words, another installment of Alan Moore’s “Buster Brown at the Barricades” continues the prolific writer’s stance on protest through the years from the first issue. Though this is some dense reading, I definitely found that I came out the other end of it knowing a whole lot more about nonviolent protest than I did before reading it.

Other chapters incorporate story and art in a more traditional sense. Some of my favorites exemplify standards and methods of making one’s voice heard in a less violent manner, as with Si Spurrier’s “New Thumbs”, which impressed me in likening the discovery of fire to the action of non-violent protest when most everyone else would use it for a symbol of violence. I also loved the way LIBERATOR writer Matt Miner’s “Light” brings light to the plight of those who suffered from New York’s Hurricane Sandy and the lack of aid provided, save for the Occupy Sandy Movement who showed up with helpful hands. 12 REASONS TO DIE writer Matthew Rosenberg’s “Single Family Home” tells a more personal tale of the financial crisis that proved to be a heartbreaking read. And Mark Sable details his aspirations to work in finance and his awakening once seeing what it was all about while pointing out how comics publishers are just as guilty of taking advantage of its creators.

All in all, this issue of OCCUPY COMICS once again opened my eyes to new ideas, old problems, and hopeful solutions. OCCUPY COMICS has the unique opportunity to give light to problems from a standpoint not guided by politics and gives voice to real and timely issues. I’m honored to have my installment in the next issue of this series and look forward to the other voices, attitudes, and viewpoints expressed in every issue of OCCUPY COMICS. Have an open mind and give this extremely intelligent and surprisingly hopeful issue of OCCUPY COMICS a try.


THE SHADOW #14

Writers: Chris Roberson
Artist: Giovanni Timpano
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man


For better or worse, we are in the third creative team on THE SHADOW. It's a bit of a shame Dynamite can't seem to hang on to a team. Luckily, each team has been pretty good. With his good work on MASKS, Chris Roberson has moved over to THE SHADOW and has given him a pretty good adversity in the Light.

For those not keeping up, THE SHADOW is still a period book, taking place in the 1930's. A new vigilante has come to New York City, The Light, and she's killing off sinners, much like in the movie SEVEN (though not as gruesome). The Shadow views her as any other murderer and seeks to put an end to her. This is the second issue so far, and while Roberson has barely touched on the concept, I hope he digs deeper into the rationale that it's acceptable for The Shadow to kill, but not The Light. There are interesting things to debate about that topic. The Light herself, for better or worse (again), is another Asian woman wielding katanas. It all makes sense, but it's a way over-used character type.

Along with the killing, the main threads of the story are The Shadow's growing obsession with catching The Light and what could be the origin of The Light. I say could be because there is an Asian nun in the story who could very well be The Light or she could also be a red herring. I'm hoping she is a red herring, because Roberson has yet to reveal who the Light is, so I assume it's a mystery. So then to reveal her in such an obvious way on the first page is really weak. The Light also appears to have a degree of superpowers, like The Shadow, which adds to his frustration and obsession of bring her down.

Timpano has yet to really impress me as an artist. While his work is head and shoulders above Roberson's partner on MASKS, his work is still a little clumsy at times. Figures are awkward, especially those in the background, and environments are not convincingly composed. That said, he shows effort. I hope to see him continue to improve and really become prime-time.

Despite its flaws, Dynamite and company are continuing to put together a really good Shadow comic book here. If they can keep a creative team, and help them grow with the character, this book might make it into the great range, something I'd so like to see happen with one of their titles.

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


WOLVERINE #4

Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Alan Davis
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Chris Massari


WOLVERINE is probably one of Marvel’s weaker titles out now and, in my opinion, the weakest book with Wolverine in general. The series so far has been a letdown from the start and has in no way been any competition in story, artwork or writing against SAVAGE WOLVERINE. I’m not usually very picky or “Comic Book Guy”-like critical when it comes to the comics I read, but this series has been a huge disappointment for me thus far.

The story has been entitled HUNTING SEASON, supposedly capturing the animal part of Wolverine. It’s been focused around Wolverine hunting down some kind of ray gun from space (or something like that) that takes over the minds of whoever touches it. Wolverine runs into Nick Fury after one of the ray gun’s victims goes on a killing spree. The ray gun keeps falling into various innocent hands, which keeps Wolverine constantly hunting. Apparently, the gun does something to the victim’s body that Wolverine can smell, helping him track them. The Watcher shows up observing the action, but only appears to Wolverine, creating the illusion of this story being of great galactic importance, or at least Cornell wants you to think that.

Issue four deals with more Wolverine tracking and more subpar story elements. We do find out Wolverine can increase his speed when going berserk and burning leg muscles against his adamantium skeleton. Then probably 50% of the rest of the story follows Wolverine tracking down various clues and fighting on different aircraft. HUNTING SEASON 4 concludes with another appearance of The Watcher and adding Dr. Doom into the mix.

I don’t want to sound like I’m completely bashing this series with my sarcasm, but in a lot of ways I have to. I just can’t get into the story because it has been dry and unsatisfying. WOLVERINE gives me no sense of a wow factor to continue reading or stands out in nature of writing. Logan is Weapon X, the bad ass and vicious animal with adamantium bones and claws who basically cannot be killed because of his healing factor, creating a nonstop freight train of pain. However, I get no feeling of that from the series at all. I want to feel manly after reading a Wolverine comic. I should want to drink a beer and go find a bear to kill with a knife and stick, yet I feel none of that. I want to like the book because I like the character of Wolverine, but I just can’t get behind it.

The story seems stretched and corny with the space gun premise, which is not uncommon with comics obviously, but the stretching and corniness of story needs to be entertaining, which I haven’t found to be true with WOLVERINE. The Watcher element is supposed to show some great importance to the story but is a selling point I just can’t buy. It’s also entitled HUNTING SEASON to give the direction of the tracker Wolverine and the reader a sense of Logan’s mutant senses, but again, the story isn’t presenting a good sales pitch that I can buy. There are just certain story elements that I’m told through the writing and storyline I should accept, but they just aren’t hitting home.

I’m also not feeling both Alan Davis’s penciling and Matt Hollingsworth’s coloring, either. The character details don’t seem very aesthetically appealing. The shading seems plain and takes away from the details. And finally I feel the colors themselves don’t scream anything more than bland.

I feel like WOLVERINE has potential, as all stories always do, but the execution has just not been there so far. I’m really enjoying everything about SAVAGE WOLVERINE from artwork to story writing; it’s just been awesome from cover to cover. However, WOLVERINE seems like the ugly fallback sister of a really hot girl. I’m not sure if anyone else has been as disappointed as me. No matter how much I tried WOLVERINE, it just has not been able to do it for me as a series. I would not recommend checking out the MARVEL NOW revamp of Wolverine as of now. This is only my opinion, of course, and maybe you have or will have a different one. I would recommend waiting to see if Marvel re-revamps the series into something more entertaining and interesting.


THUNDERPUSSY Novel

Writer: Davis Barbee
Illustrator: Jim Agpalza (Cover)
Publisher: Eraserhead Press
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty


Somehow, I always end up with the weird shit.

Reviewing a bizarre work of fiction is like feeding a stray cat. You do it once or twice and one morning you awake to find the town's entire feline population pawing at your door. Part of the blame lies with me, since I don't ever seem to find a bad word to say about some of these offerings, like BLACK HOLE BLUES or A TOWN CALLED SUCKHOLE. But that's not because I like doing free PR for unbalanced authors, but rather because I haven't been burdened with a piece of crap yet. I'm still hopeful, mind you, as it's much easier to hit your word count when most of your sentences are “fuck this” and “shit on that.” This isn't one of those times, however, and I reckon David Barbee will be grateful for small breaks like this one. He's the evil genius behind SUCKHOLE, which was kind of like REDNECK RAMPAGE without the ripsaw. Since you can't keep a good man down, it was no surprise to see his quick turnaround for THUNDERPUSSY, an offbeat look at the secret agent genre that gave us James Bond.

The easiest comparison for THUNDERPUSSY is, of course, AUSTIN POWERS, and to a lesser extent, MR. BEAN. But the former is like a drawn out SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skit while the latter is just a compilation of douchey British slapstick that I may never understand. I'd say Barbee leans closer to the real McCoy, which means Declan Magpie Bruce, Agent 00X, is actually someone you would believe could get laid as often as Bond. The story is as equally silly as anything that's preceded it, but Barbee's strength is in his storytelling. He could probably write a book about the time he plowed through my fence and ran over my dog and I'd read it with unbridled enthusiasm, just because he's so damn good at making his characters interesting. A lesser talent would have allowed the absence of pretense to let drollery flow unfiltered, but I admired Barbee's discipline and restraint. I know that might sound unusual in a pop culture blender like this one, but it's not written as an experiment in wackiness.

THUNDERPUSSY is a fully realized novel, with a smart and direct narrative that will make you both laugh and squirm, often at the same time. Committing to a real “book” is asking a lot these days, when time is limited and distractions are many, but this one is easy to get in and out of. I actually read the whole thing! Highly recommended.

Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at MMaMania.com here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.


THOR: GOD OF THUNDER #9

Writers: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Ribic
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


So we are finally getting closer to the conclusion of the first story arc of Jason Aaron's run. I know the cover says part three, but seriously, it's part nine. Usually this would be a bad thing, and the story is probably being dragged out a bit too far, but damn it is good.

As always, it's easy to review bad comics, because everyone can see the flaws except the person in charge (I know this from firsthand knowledge of working in animation, it's all very weird). With a good comic (or story), just like a good meal, it’s harder to be more articulate than “boy that was good”, but let's try...

So what goes down in this issue? One of the most epic battles in Marvel's history. Seriously, you got three Thors (young, current, and old) all battling Gor, the god butcher who has pretty much killed every god in existence. As planets shatter, Aaron ties the panels together with epic prose like “Then Thor struck. With the fury of a billion storms.” Any way you slice it, this issue was go time!

One thing that's really great about the story is Gor himself. While I'm not so sure he'll go down in history like Dr. Doom or Magneto, he's a great villain for this story. Aaron manages to humanize this monster by making his questions of the universe and his psychoanalysis of Thor pretty spot on. And while I don't agree with Gor's solutions to these problems, or if they are even problems needing to be fixed, I love that I can understand his reasons. Villains are always much stronger if you can get in their head and sympathize with them. Plus, with all the atrocious things he's done, you can't wait for the moment when the Thors will bash his brains in! I'm also glad to see Aaron talk about Gor's powers, which are amazing. I hope he continues give us a clearer understanding of why Gor is so damn powerful, and not just because.

Watching the juxtaposition of the Thors is really interesting, too. You can see their differences and still see them as the same person as they hammer on Gor (bad pun!). Seeing the current Thor take time out for a little superheroing is nice too. You can see how the current Thor is a superhero, where the other two are not (like Superman in MAN OF STEEL).

Ribic’s line work is pretty frickin’ amazing this issue, too. Each panel is loaded with power, and the choreography is well put together--I never got lost in the battle. And where Gor's design isn't impressive, Ribic always draws his face so expressive. Really nice work and greatly improved upon by Ive Svorcina's coloring. Svorcina's coloring really turns Ribic's figures into mythical three dimensional beings that don't feel overly rendered. I've seen a lot of comic coloring that's all about color gradations and Photoshop tricks. Instead of serving the story it comes off like bad CGI in a live action film. So Svorcina's both light and strong touches look great and work well with the tale Aaron and Ribic are telling.

With just two issues to go (plenty of time to screw it all up, Aaron--I kid), Jason Aaron and Essad Ribic are really putting together a soon to be classic Thor tale, and perhaps even a classic run.


GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #21

Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Brad Walker
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


For 21 issues I have enjoyed the hell out of this book. I don’t have a fucking clue why it was called NEW GUARDIANS for the past twenty issues, but it was enjoyable. KYLE’S KWEST, SKITTLES LEAGUE or hell even RISE OF THE WHITE LANTERN would have been wonderful names to describe the journey we took with Mr. Bedard at the helm. The word “Guardians”, though, has a very specific connotation in the DC Universe. The word either implies alopecia-struck smurfs or beings that control the universe. What Kyle and crew went through were grand space-sweeping adventures, but most certainly not “guardians.”

I wondered if this title would survive when the original emotionless ones lost their collective shit last year or if the Skittles League would take the galactic helm finally living up to their named self-prophecy. Well, Johns surprised us all with his last piece of architecture to the GL universe with the introduction of the hidden Guardians. Those scared li’l Blue Guys left behind at the beginning of time to keep watch over the First Lantern? Appropriately, this is now their story. So far I’m in it to win it. It’s a good story with a set of characters that are familiar from the old universe, but truly New 52 with their eternal wisdom slathered in raw emotion. I’m also thrilled to see Jordan get some good traction in the big leagues after the fine work he’s done in his Image bloodbath LUTHOR STRODE and his Valiant book SHADOWMAN. We could also smell the rigor mortis on TEAM SEVEN when it was announced in Previews. Jordan did a fine job; it was simply an unneeded concept. With NEW GUARDIANS he has a big task in the GL continuity, certainly the biggest in sheer power since the Guardians and White Lantern Kyle Raynor could collapse the universe with a thought.

Jordan (not Hal) will be taking us on a definitive heroes’ journey through this book. Essentially, we’re getting a galactic cruise with the Guardians finally seeing the universe after a few millennia and Kyle gets to serve as their begrudging guide during this omnipotent Rumspringa.

So that’s the arc. This issue gives specific focus to trying to talk Kyle into the job. Naturally, that falls to the new GL leader Jordan (not Justin, although I think there’s good comedy there). Some fun constructs abounded thanks to Walker’s art and there was a pretty endearing scene between Kyle and Carol in a final send-off to the old rainbow coalition. The rest of the issue serves as set-up for the issue 2 danger. Essentially, the boys go to the most guarded place in the universe where sits an entity that’s been around since before time: all hail the Galactawatcher.

Despite the drastic hand-off in creative talent since last issue, the GL universe feels more cohesive than ever. I’m sure it helps that all the new writers have had practice with beautifully woven connectivity over in Valiant. You know, with all the shit DC editorial gets, we should all remember this set of books. Continuity has always been tighter than the swaddling Kim Kardashian’s baby will need to keep warm since she decided it was too much of a bother to keep incubated, and there has never been a creator throwing up their arms in disgust and Tweeting #disgruntled. So to all the GL writers including Jordan (not Knight), to the editors who have let creators create yet still talk to each other and to the New Guardians and all the GL titles, I salute you.


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

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