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AICN COMICS Reviews: UNITY! SANDMAN OVERTURE! FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE! & More!

AICN COMICS Reviews: UNITY! SANDMAN OVERTURE! FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE! & More!

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

@$$Hole 2 in 1 Review: UNITY #1
SANDMAN OVERTURE #1
Indie Jones presents FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE #1
DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN #1
INFINITY #5
Advance Review: ACTION COMICS #25
Indie Jones SILVER #2
X-MEN: BATTLE OF THE ATOM #2
Advance Review: EARTH 2 #17


An @$$Hole 2 in 1 Review!

UNITY #1

Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Publisher: Valiant
Reviewers: Ambush Bug & Optimous Douche


OPTIMOUS DOUCHE (OD): With no Rai or Solar--basically anything future-focused in the new Valiant--I truly wondered how they would satiate the nostalgia this title invokes from the old while updating for a new age. The short answer is, simply, "fuck nostalgia." Where UNITY once meant a conjoining and intermingling of time periods that spanned 19 titles and 7,000 years of history, this new UNITY (at least based on the first issue) is solidarity in the here and now. A more teaming-up title than an esoteric exploration of time and continuity course corrections.

AMBUSH BUG (BUG): I love it how Valiant keeps on flipping expectation on its ear and how they're keeping their big events tight and well plotted. The fact that this basically is a crossover between Harada, Eternal Warrior, and Ninjak squaring off against what I think is Valiant's most iconic character in X-O Manowar makes me remember why I used to love crossovers so much and why I hate the bloated sales machines of the crossovers from the Big Two so much.

OD: Valiant definitely moves with a story versus sales purpose, but they couldn't work any other way. Even back during UNITY 1, though it was 19 titles they all served a purpose. Like a puzzle of the Mona Lisa, as opposed to the big two where two thirds of the puzzle is sky. I did love this story; I think having the name UNITY, though, was a mistake. Many need to leverage nostalgia to make sales. Valiant doesn't need that. The name, dare I say, might be a distraction for some. Or they could blow out to the whole time stream in issue 2; after all, Harada was nuzzling up to the Eternal Warrior, which was a shock.

BUG: Well, this is just the beginning of this crossover. It may tear open the timestream yet. But personally, I like that it is uniting a lot of forces, much like "The Harbinger Wars" crossover, and reminding us that there is a whole universe of characters out there. Even though the Valiant Universe is relatively small compared to the Big Two in characters, I'm looking forward to seeing what new iconic characters they can create and not just rehash some of the older ones. I'm digging the rehashes, but the crucial part now is when they've run out of characters to resurrect and they have to start making up new ones. But back to this issue--I think it was a solid jumping-on point for new readers. Everything you need to know is on that first interior page.

OD: Yeah, I've always loved them taking the infographic approach instead of straight text for the catch up. Those things can be wicked hard to create and require true collaboration with the writer - it's just another extra mile thing Valiant does for readers.

I still want some time shenanigans though, especially with the way they introduced the Lost Land over in ARCHER & ARMSTRONG during the last arc. This needs to be more than a team-up title if they are going to pull from the same well of gravitas that was the last UNITY.

BUG: Agreed, but at this point, I don't think the Valiant Universe is cohesive enough to do some kind of all-encompassing crossover. I'm sure it's coming, but these tight crossovers are my favorites and always the most successful, which goes back to the point that UNITY might not be the right title for this event. Maybe UNIFICATION or UNITE or something to tease us to something bigger.

Did you have a favorite part in this issue?


OD: Actually it was more than a favorite part, it was redemption. When Harada's elite decided to call themselves Unity complete with battle-cry I almost chucked the book. This is it? This is the big dick fucking Unity we've heard so much about? Then Aric kills them all like three seconds later in ways specific to their powers. Beautiful. How about you? I can't guess since there was no Bleeding Monk.

BUG: No Bleeding Monk...yet. But I think the ass-whuppin Ninjak gets was pretty awesome. As much as I like the character, seeing X-O open up a can of whup-ninja was pretty sweet, especially after the lead-up to the encounter which made Ninjak look so cool. That's the thing about this issue--it really does highlight how cool a lot of these characters are.

OD: Ninjak has the potential to be Valiant's Fantomex, except he can do all the cool things Fantomex can't because he's not in 17,000 freaking titles. I applaud Valiant for using restraint on this character. They rushed him into his own title back in the 90s and the title never had the same zing and cohesion as the others.

BUG: Agreed, but I'm sure he'll be getting his own title soon. In the meantime, I like it that he had his ass handed to him so easily here. It makes the character more interesting that he's got a couple of losses. I brought this up in the podcast, but Harada's weaknesses as highlighted in the recent issue of HARBINGER I think are coming into play here as well, as he is making some shit poor decisions as far as attacking X-0 in this issue.

OD: What was truly interesting were Harada's government ties. I always thought he was a rogue entity merely out for himself, especially after we learned the PRS connection to Uncle Sam during the HARBINGER WARS. These little intricacies are what make Valiant great: the fact that we can have these conversations without a renew or reNOW mucking up the works is what gives this universe true skin in the game of comics.

BUG: What's funny is that in ARCHER & ARMSTRONG they reference the fourth Harbinger War, so maybe our complaints about this being a little too small-scale are going to be trumped as these HARBINGER WAR and UNITY crossovers intensify with each one. If that happens, I'm on board. That's the most exciting thing about these books: the potential and so far the payoff has been completely satisfying.

What'd you think of the art?


OD: Most people know by now I'm art-tarded, so subtle analysis escapes me. The art was more than serviceable, and was outright fantastic during the scenes where the short-lived team Unity was given their comeuppance. Personally, I would like to see them go off the reservation a bit--get their version of Barry Windsor Smith.

BUG: Braithwaite is good. I especially like the scene where X-0 blows one of the guy's heads off and through the other guy's chest behind him. Improbable? Yes. Cool? HELLZ YES!

That said, for some reason, he draws Eternal Warrior too sketchily. Maybe he's trying to convey his age, but I think a good inker would have done this issue some justice. As is, it's Braithwaite's pencils and then the colors and everything seems too ghost-like.


OD: Sure, that's exactly what I was thinking. Here's the thing I hate about reviewing (outside of my editor): we have all these questions, and we now have to read other issues that take place before these events, plus we have to wait longer to get the goods on follow-up issues. Hopefully we'll get some clues in the lead-up issues, especially in ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, that will give hints of a wider scope beyond what we saw in UNITY #1. It's a great crossover; I still want a wider lens, though.

BUG: Agreed, but as far as this issue goes, it's a great start. I have a feeling this isn't going to be small scale for long.

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.

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 4. Mark’s written comics such as THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, DEATHSPORT GAMES, NANNY & HANK (soon to be a feature film from Uptown 6 Films), Zenescope’sGRIMM FAIRY TALES Vol.13 & UNLEASHED: WEREWOLVES – THE HUNGER and a chapter in Black Mask Studios’OCCUPY COMICS. FAMOUS MONSTERS’ LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (co-written with Martin Fisher) will be available soon in trade. Mark also wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK and its follow up THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.


SANDMAN OVERTURE #1

Writer: Neil Gaiman
Art: JH Williams
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reivewer: Anna Pederson


I haven’t read the original SANDMAN in quite some time, which is partially the reason I felt slightly disconnected from the idea of picking up a sequel to characters and plots that I didn’t remember all the details for. It’s an interesting apprehension to have, considering there’s still a fair amount people in the world who have never picked up a trade, or physically tried to pick up one of the ABSOLUTE SANDMAN hardcover editions. With a series that’s so vast (75 issues), and so long been put to rest (the last main issue ran almost 20 years ago), the challenge of the creative and editorial team was to make this book rewarding to fans who’ve read the original material and at least somewhat accessible to readers interested in picking these richly detailed characters for the first time.

Without being discouraging, new readers may feel like outsiders who are looking into a dream en medias res, but that’s not because this isn’t accessible, it’s because author Neil Gaiman has spent so much time with these characters that he knows them inside and out, and navigates them through their universe with such intelligence and intricacy it simply takes several readings to reap everything this textured story has to offer. The one moment that would give most new readers pause is when Dream is speaking to the first Corinthian (oh man, I just got that dual-layered biblical reference) about halfway through the issue, and they make an allusion to his serial killing ways and why Dream has to unmake him. Like much of SANDMAN, this issue begins several different story lines, which makes critiquing this first issue as a whole feel like a start and stop process, with opinions that won’t be fully actualized and developed until the rest of these stories are.

But one definitive piece of this issue is artist J.H. Williams’ syntactical and highly imaginative use of paneling to compliment and fortify Gaiman’s fantastical world. One of my favorite pieces is an exchange between Corinthian and a potential victim that is paneled onto teeth, which you discover in a few pages (or already knew from past issues) are actually where Corinthians’ eyeballs should be. Williams’ black and white pages also carry their own distinctive style separate from the dream-like Technicolor of the rest of the issue. The black and white pieces have turn of the century Windsor McCay elements that helps mimic the time period during which those pages take place. The art style is definitely a creative push from Williams that pays off greatly in transporting a reader to the world of the Endless.

The literary elements of this book make the English major in me want to do a close reading of all the subtle imagery. Alright, I’ll do a short thesis: Gaiman’s lack of human features in the characters that Morpheus has created--Corinthian, Mervyn Pumpkinhead, and “George Portcullis”--reflect that this early version of Morpheus lacks human empathy. That probably sounds too graduate school, and I could go to some length explaining my evidence. But the fact that the first issue of a comic book made me even concoct that theory shows how much depth and energy went into creating this world which makes this book stand on its own. Either that or Neil Gaiman just dives right in without a huge roadmap, and people like me just overanalyze.

But if all the pieces of this SANDMAN puzzle don’t quite fit during a first reading, I suggest picking it up again and again until a fuller story starts to form. For me, this issue really started to hit home about midway through the second read, but the rewards were definitely worth it.


FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE #1

Writers: Mike Isenberg & Oliver Mertz
Artist: Daniel Lapham
Publisher: Norean Labs
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


While I’m in possession of all four issues of this indie darling, alas review-time is not as bountiful for me. So, rather than waiting yet another few weeks past my discovery of FIRST LAW at New York Comic Con, I’m going to err on the side of expedience over volume.

FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE is hands-down my favorite true indie right now. When I say true indie let me be perfectly clear here; Image, Dark Horse, Boom, Dynamite are not indies. Indie isn’t (or shouldn’t) be judged on print run. Indie has no corporate structure, no barriers of creativity and trade marking to hamper it – it’s a passion play of love and devotion not knowing the monetary outcome from your endeavors.

When I met Oliver Mertz at NYCC, I truly thought I was walking into a hot mess. But I love train wrecks, and his carnival barker-like pulling of the herd to his table was far too energetic to ignore (and trust me, I ignored a lot of other tables pulling even zanier stunts). I was also unsure how the book would feel in execution based off of this paraphrased description: “In the future, cybernetic eyes have been developed that allow people to have greater vision akin to microscopes that can also perceive different waves of the light spectrum. Already a commodity inside the head of two thirds of the world, what happens when these eyes start to play horrible tricks on us?”

Mertz was correct on the plot, but what he forgot to mention was the true humanity that drives this sci fi story. He forgot to mention the amazing family dynamic he created for this science clan of mom, dad, son and robot sister R.A.C.H.E.L. He also forgot to mention how artist Daniel Lapham drew the living shit out of this book, making black and white some of the best renderings I viewed this week. Hell, I’ll go one better: it was black and white on par with the book SNAPSHOT by Jock. I couldn’t imagine this book in color because it would simply smother and ultimately suffocate all of the painstaking pencil and inking work. It’s not really a book about cyber eyes; from issue 1 and the bit I’ve gleaned out of issue 2, this is a modern day LOST IN SPACE. FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE is the story of a family with the DNA to change the world, and ultimately get pummeled by fate and perhaps their own hubris.

Dad, our erstwhile inventor, is distant. Mom, an archeologist with some paranormal abilities, is really distant--all the way in Antarctica, actually. The pre-teen son is trying to impress Dad by doing some of his own weird science, but it’s really “sister” R.A.C.H.E.L. that steals the show. She’s a sassy bot who is our true first step in android advancement. Personally, I think creating a robot with the personality of a teenage girl is the definition of insanity, but she was way more interesting than that annoying piece of shit Vicki from SMALL WONDER.

Now, all of this would be a pretty boring comic without some kind of threat. Like our parents taught us, if something is too good to be true, it probably is. Instead of crippling migraines or everyone seeing their grandmother naked, the downside with cyber eyes is they make little green monsters appear that like to mess with things, kill people--you know, all the usual green monster stuff. The trouble at the outset is no one can record the little bastards in the act using their cyber eye cameras, leaving many question and few answers…in issue one, at least.

To me, that’s the hallmark of a good comic: just enough understanding of the now, a little mystery set afoot for that issue and a grander mystery that no one can really suss out in just a few pages.

I don’t say this about many indies, but these guys need to get picked up. Yes, I have a few more issues of FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE awaiting me, but I know these guys are crowd funding each effort. Someone with some publishing muscle give this book a look so I can get issue 5 before the next comic apocalypse, please.


DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN #1

Writer: Andy Kubert
Artist: Andy Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Kid Marvel


Well, Damian Wayne is finally back, sort of. Damian has yet to return as a regular of The New 52 continuity, which I’m pretty positive he eventually will at some point, but he is back for a limited time in this four issue miniseries. Damian’s time to take the mantle of the Bat has finally come after the murder of his father. This series was something I think any Batman fan was slightly, if not greatly, excited for. Damian, while alive, had an entertaining arrogance about him, definitely had the upbringing to become more or less a Punisher type of hero if not for Bruce’s guidance, and of course it’s just an interesting story idea. However, it pains me to say that DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN was a complete bust--but before I get to that, let me summarize the issue.

DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN #1 begins with Batman and Robin exploring a shipyard which is full of dead bodies strewn everywhere, and the Dynamic Duo is searching for clues. While the two are searching, Batman lifts up one of these bodies noticing a joker-faced fish that also happens to trigger a bomb; however, before Bruce can react in time he is caught up in the blast. This is the cause of death for the Dark Knight in this series. After his father’s death, Damian seeks help out from his mother Talia and his grandfather Ra’s al Ghul to help avenge Bruce. However, the two shrug him off, telling Damian he’s been severed from the League of Assassins and must take up the throne of the Batman. However, Damian is very reluctant at first and completely dismisses this notion as he begins his vengeful pursuit of any villain claiming to have killed Batman, relentlessly showing no mercy to anyone in his way. DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN then continues on to further establish Damian’s emotional trials with his father’s death and leading to his ascension as the next Batman.

The only thing that saved this book was the art, which Andy Kubert did an excellent job on, because everything else in the writing was either overstretched, felt off, or was just plain stupid. In fact, my summary does DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN much better justice than the actual book.

Let me take my distain and annoyance at this waste of my five dollars piece by piece. First, the emotions are either overly exaggerated or don’t match the character. From the first couple pages, Damian is not Damian, showing no arrogance. He’s put off by death, which never seemed to bother him in any other incarnation of the character, and the dialogue seems forced or overexaggerated, just like the characters emotions.

Another huge issue I have with the book is the complete and utter nerfing of Batman’s death and how easily it happened. I think Kubert was going specifically for this weak death, showing even Batman can slip up and get caught off guard with something simple, but I just can’t get behind this, it was just too weak and too pathetic. I also have to ask why Kubert would write in villains using social media to brag about how they killed Batman. Almost on the same level as a teenage girl fishing for compliments on Instagram, Kubert writes serial-killing villains pandering to Facebook likes.

The final complaint about the book I’ll touch on is the lack of heroes involved in the story. I mean, at this point you have the entire Bat family, the hundreds of members of the Justice League, and plenty of other individuals aware of Bruce’s secret identity, but a total of only five people at his funeral. The total lack of anyone else in the comic just doesn’t line up with how many people play integral parts in the Batman mythos and the total lack of their presence in the book after his death.

I do have to give Kubert his credit for the incredible artwork, even if I didn’t like his writing at all. He really does an amazing job, from the detail and character designs to just the overall art product, is beautiful. I really liked the details Kubert added in Damian when he returned from killing various villains covered in blood, with spiked knuckles on his gloves, and the various tatters on his costume, but other than the artwork, the book is a huge disappointment.

I usually like to find some hope and optimism for future issues when I’m reading a story, hoping the quality picks up and giving them a chance, because I understand the creative process can be a tough one. However, I see no hope for this book. I just don’t like Kubert’s writing or the story structure he’s set up for DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN. It just lacks so much in the initial set-up, I don’t know if it can even recover. I think Kubert is an amazing artist and has written some good stories in the past, but this isn’t one of them, and it is something I think should be avoided for purchase.


INFINITY #5

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Jerome Opena, Dustin Weaver
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


First, I will apologize in advance if I'm neglecting anything covered in a crossover issue. You see as much as I love the concept of a giant crossover, they usually suck (you know that). So I almost never buy the crossover issues--just the main title. That way I don't lose a small fortune while being un-entertained. On the rare occasion I love the main title, then I might check out some of the crossover issues--something I haven't done since the first ANNIHILATION series--so I haven't been reading AVENGERS or NEW AVENGERS, just INFINITY.

As we reach the penultimate issue of INFINITY, I fear the cracks are really starting to show--oddly enough, mostly with The Builders' storyline, which I assume was Hickman's baby (more than the Thanos storyline). It's spoiler time, people. So in this issue the Builders are defeated. How did these universe-crushing, planet-destroying, threats to end all threats get defeated, you ask? The Avengers punched them out. Really, Hickman? That's the best you got? Couldn't The Avengers have learned something clever about The Builders, and used that to defeat them? I mean, they spent all that time with Ex Nihilo and Abyss in THE AVENGERS before INFINITY even started. Didn't that have any story impact? Well, I guess it helped set the stage that The Builders were ungodly powerful, and nothing would ever defeat them (how many pages were used to make that point in issue #1?), though it turns out all you need is a little spunk to defeat them (meaning courage and spirit, not what you're probably thinking).

On the Thanos side, it almost suffers from the same problem. Something is set up as a great mystery for the characters to solve (like Thanos finding his son), which will presumably requiring extraordinary means, but is solved rather easily and without much explanation (Ebony Maw just knows where he is). Again, in the first issue lots of time was spent showing off the abilities of Thanos' Cull Obsidian, none of which seemed to factor into the “*poof*--Ebony Maw just knows where he is” result. Now, as I said, the crossover issues may have explained these better, but I would still argue those explanations should be present in the main series as well.

There may be explanations in the final issue, but I seriously doubt it. The last issue will be focusing on tying the two storylines together—well, kind of. The first storyline is over and its characters are just moving over to the other; it's not like the two stories are becoming one. It's just liked I feared: we got two stories being told at the same time, instead of two plotlines being woven together to make one story. Now sure, The Builders’ actions led to Thanos' attack and the allies The Avengers made will help in Thanos' defeat, but that's pretty minimal contact (Thanos attacking Earth and being defeated by The Avengers is nothing new), and the Thanos story had no impact on The Builders' story at all. In the end, Hickman split the readers' attention and stole precious space from each story, causing them to be under-executed, so 'poof' stuff happens.

That all said, I am looking forward to the final blow-out issue with Thanos (the storyline I've enjoyed the most). It should be pretty cool when The Avengers show up with their friends. I just wish the overall story (not stories) was stronger.

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


Advance Review: In stores today!

ACTION COMICS #25

Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Aaron Kuder
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


ZERO YEAR is a necessity. I’ll fight this point to the pain. I felt we landed with a hard thud into the New 52. It was a slap instead of a gentle coaxing. I’ve heard the naysayers’ arguments to my feelings; we didn’t need a rehash of origins for characters so imbedded in the zeitgeist when the characters launched 75 years ago, they were able to go right into the action with no fluffy inception stories, and my absolute favorite of “look at the sales numbers”.

My refute in reverse order: marketing; this isn’t 75 years ago, storytelling and our tastes have evolved (or devolved if you count reality TV); and some of the best stories in the New 52 have been origin stories just like ACTION #25.

Pak perfectly embodies the ideals of Superman and the Clark Kent dichotomy in this story. This is an internalized dissection of spirit, which I think sits in perfect juxtaposition to Snyder’s examination of external forces defining the Bat in his ZERO YEAR. They are after the yin and yang of today’s modern myths.

Don’t worry--there’s action; Pak wisely ensures, though, it drives the ultimate point of Superman’s indomitable need to do right. There’s also a healthy heaping of humble pie, which again is a necessary driver for growth we just didn’t get 2 years ago at the “beginning.”

I’m not going to regurgitate the plot; it serves no one and the beauty of this book is the subtle nuances. We start in Kansas, drive to the mundane and finally see Superman test himself against a force of nature in which he fails, but learns the lesson of perseverance in what he can effect change on.

Now, I will say the time in Kansas (actually the whole book) uses Lana Lang as a modern day ingénue. She’s smart, ambitious, an electrical freaking engineer and, quite frankly, the only one who truly understands this being from Krypton. In both the main and back-up stories she is the reason for Clark’s epiphanies, whether he knows it or not.

While I clearly liked this issue, there is one fatal flaw: the mouths. Kuder gets scale aptly as Superman performs some herculean feats, his panel work is also impressive, especially on one page underwater, but the mouths are lipless monstrosities of gaping pieholedness. There was one point I thought Lana was freaking possessed, as her mouth practically reached to her ears. It turns out she was just terrified, but I really thought the book pulled a 180 for that panel. Contours define a mouth unless you’re shooting for anime.

That’s a nit, though, in a great and, I emphasize once again, necessary issue.


SILVER #2

Writer: Stephen Franck
Artist: Stephen Franck
Publisher: Dark Planet
Reviewer: Lyzard


When I reviewed the first issue of SILVER, I pardoned Franck for deftly lifting the material of others as he had done so just as skillfully as his sticky-fingered protagonist, James Finnigan. In SILVER #2, Franck begins to depend less on the works of past masters. It isn’t that his ideas are that much more original, but his unique pastiche, the genres he collides together, are a recipe all his own.

With SILVER #2 we finally get some of the Dracula action Franck only teased us with in issue #1. As I mentioned previously, SILVER has a twelve-issue run and it appears Franck is going to take his time in giving us what we (or maybe just I) want. Finnigan has managed one of his infamous escapes yet again--however, not flawlessly. While Finnigan may have failed in his primary mission, the Harker artifacts he came across prove to be a much more valuable treasure. Taking a leap of faith, Finnigan seeks out the last remaining descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, unsure of what he’ll find and nowhere near prepared for what he does discover.

So we are still left with the noir and pulp feel, but the overall tone of this issue is much more light-hearted. I had suspected that Finnigan would go from dashing ne’er-do-well to reluctant hero, but for now he is more the bumbling fool with luck on his side. Not that I’m complaining. Protagonists that are not in control can be entertaining to watch as they wind their way through chaos, but they have to have a helping hand by their side that is not deus ex machina.

Not to go into much detail about Finnigan’s find later on in the issue, but SILVER does feature a reluctant hero. Here is where Franck seems to pick up the pieces from other sources; in this case I’m seeing influences from KILL BILL and THE WALKING DEAD (I’m basing that opinion on the TV series talkbackers). However, you’ll have to read the comic for yourself to see whether or not I’m on the right track.

As for consistency, Franck’s strength is in his witty banter. It keeps the story moving along, especially as this issue features a lot less action than the first. But what no longer works for me is his heavy use of black. In a black-and-white film (and I only use a cinematic comparison as the noir style is so influential with this work) the use of grays and the not-so limited color scale can create some mind-bending illusions of depth. But in a comic, the levels of gradation from black to gray to white are even more limited, and the sense of depth suffers for it. Looking back at SILVER #1, there is just as much heavy use of black as with #2, so I can only suppose that it is Franck’s choice to use this technique with panels where the visuals are more condensed (close ups instead of wide shots) that create the problem.

SILVER #1 was merely the prologue to this 12-issue series, a teaser for what was to come. With SILVER #2 we finally get a sense of the direction (narratively, tonally, and artistically) that Franck plans on taking this tale. If you weren’t blown away by the premiere issue, you may want to give the second issue a chance. As for those, like me, that were fine with how things were, do not fret. The tone may have changed, but the quality (for the most part) hasn’t.

Lyzard is Lyz Reblin, a graduate student at the University of Texas pursuing a master's degree in Media Studies... which is just a fancy way of saying she plays a lot video games, watches far too many horror films, and then tries to pass it all off as "research."


X-MEN: BATTLE OF THE ATOM #2

Writers: Jason Aaron/Brian Wood/ Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Esad Ribic, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrew Currie and Tom Palmer and more!
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


So the “Battle of the Atom” storyline comes to a close. First off, I find it amusing that the cover promises an issue by Brian Michael Bendis, Frank Cho and Marte Gracia, but does not deliver at all! I'm guessing that that was the original plan, which changed, but no one double-checked the cover layout. Or should I suspect Marvel of trying to fake out the buying public?! I'll let someone else go down that rabbit hole if they want; I'm just gonna to stick to the story.

Ok, big surprise: this final issue--and so the series itself--has let me down. I feel the problem was too many writers, and not a clear enough plot or motivation for the plot. Meaning, either none of the writers really figured out the plot (because they all thought the other guy did) or they didn't explain it well enough in their issues (because, again, they thought the other guy did). What am I talking about? Well, why did this story happen? Let's break it down: the present X-Men thought it would be a good ideal to bring the original X-Men to the present. Then future X-Men (or The Brotherhood, if you prefer) appear and say they must go back, because it ruins the future. But then more of (or the) future X-Men appear and say the future is just fine and the other guys are bad guys. So original X-Men fight, present X-Men fight, future X-Men fight, other present and future X-men teams killing and maiming each other because…they...needed to know...humans will always hate mutants?? Is that really why future Jean Grey caused all this mess? Or was it that she just wanted to die in the past and somehow convinced the rest of the future Brotherhood that this was such an awesome idea that they had to kill for it? Seriously, what the hell was the Brotherhood of Future X-Men trying to do? With no clear goal or motivation, readers (like myself) tend to stop caring about the story, because it just becomes a bunch of random events.

Speaking of random events, once the Brotherhood of Future X-Men forced S.H.I.E.L.D. to fire upon everyone, including themselves, revealing S.H.I.E.L.D. had Sentinels (oh no they didn't!), why was everyone still fighting each other? The Brotherhood of Future X-Men made their point (assuming for the moment that was their point)--fight over. Everyone should have been more concerned about all the Sentinels and rockets and bombs at that point, but no, fighting each other was somehow still more important.

Part of me wonders if these X-Men writers were just messing with us, knowing that if they put enough characters, concepts and fights into a story without doing something difficult (like have it make sense) we'd buy it anyway. As if, crazy $h!t sells, so we just need to worry about pimping the next storylines of our five X-Men books. Which they did in spades in the four epilogues!

Ok, let's talk about the art (do I have to?). Can you say rush job? This looks like one of those weekend jams you hear about, where an artist slacks off on his issue until the last weekend, so he calls up all his friends to pitch in and save his butt. That's pretty much the look of this issue. It's a real shame, because up until this issue, the artwork was the best thing about “Battle of the Atom”.

Despite all its nice moments, cool concepts, and good looking art, “Battle of the Atom” stumbles across the finish line with less than prime-time art and fails to give the story a reason to be. On the Masked Man's Scale of Crap, Poor, Fair, Good, or Great it scores a POOR.


Advance Review: In stores today!

EARTH 2 #17

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Nicola Scott
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Let me just start with the fact I’m a fan of EARTH 2. Actually, I’ve always been a fan of all alternate realities, especially the ELSEWORLD titles that helped give us engaging stories when main continuity had entered the dark ages.

While I was initially a naysayer of the New 52 EARTH 2, basically because it was born to keep 52 titles on the shelves versus its original incarnation to provide a home for the aging Justice Society, I jumped in anyway. I was surprised to see it truly was a different world; far more advanced technologically, a world government (something that just makes sense in an age of heroes) and, most importantly, the Trinity was executed when Darkseid invaded it seems every Earth in the “5 years before.” Was it slow at times? Sure, but anytime you’re introducing a political and sociological infrastructure to new readers the action is going to take a back seat. Just look at the “Star Wars” prequels for indelible proof.

Now, the baton has been passed from Robinson to up and comer Tom Taylor. I’ve been singing Tom’s praises since I discovered him on the comic/video game tie-in INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US. I then discovered Tom did a great indie adventure book called THE DEEP, an underwater title akin to “Lost in Space”, which is now in negotiations to be made into a cartoon. On the DC side, Tom gets alternate realities. With INJUSTICE he’s told a riveting tale of a totalitarian Superman policing the world and has garnished it with clever character-appropriate dialog.

With EARTH 2 #17, Tom is thrown right into closing out Robinson’s last story arc--an odd choice when shifting writers; usually the newbie is allowed to start fresh from square one. However, Taylor picks up the attack on Steppenwolf (Darkseid’s leave-behind from the attack 5 years ago) as the World Army invades the nice little chunk of land he absconded. Tom does get two new characters to play wit,h and I’ll be honest, this was a big WTF for me. The reveal is that Superman and Batman are back. If you want to know a little bit more about these characters I highly recommend SUPERMAN/BATMAN, which chronicles an encounter with their Earth Prime counterparts in a time before the Darkseid invasion.

Well, at least we are led to believe it’s the original two, but I have my doubts. Maybe Batman is real, but as I watched Superman eye-laser Steppenwolf in half, I have serious doubts this guy is the real deal.

I hope Taylor can bring a little more notoriety to this title. It’s a well-built world that I think has festered at the feet of more easy press pushes. It’s also well done from a character standpoint. While our golden oldies have been updated for a new age, they hold many tenets of the Great Generation since their world is…well, a shitload greater and grander than ours. Finally, Nicola Scott deserves to get more eyeballs; the pictures in this title have always been grand and great where appropriate and perfectly subdued in quieter moments with the likes of Dr. Fate.

I normally don’t recommend new readers jump in mid-story like this, but if this really does signal the return of two thirds of the Trinity, I think these inception moments will resonate into the next arc and beyond.


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

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