AICN COMICS Reviews UNCANNY AVENGERS! SLAINE – BOOK OF SCARS! DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN! BLACK SCIENCE!
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: ACTION COMICS #26
SLAINE: THE BOOK OF SCARS HC GN
DAMIAN: SON OF THE BATMAN #2
UNCANNY AVENGERS #14
BLACK SCIENCE #1
ALL NEW X-MEN #19
Advance Review: HINTERKIND #3
Advance Review: In stores today!
ACTION COMICS #26Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Aaron Kuder
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
I rarely review back-to-back issues. There’s simply so much on the shelves these days, and my time is always at a premium with my day job, so I don’t like to spend my words wad repeating the same platitudes. I want to make sure you all understand, though, the amazing course correction Greg Pak has given the big blue boy scout.
Superman has taken a lot of lumps in the New 52, much of it deserved. At the outset, there was simply no room for Clark Kent. We didn’t know a damn thing about him, and the events necessitated a Superman, not a mild-mannered reporter. This surface scratch is a disservice to character and fans alike. Storytellers from the beginning of time have known that every god needs to embody a slice of humanity for our monkey brains to give a shit about what we are hearing or seeing. Now that we are more than two years in, the universe has been able to take a breather to allow the secret identities of our heroes to shine. A lesser writer would do this sans Superman. Pak though, has discovered a way to highlight the Superman and the man of super character that lives under the cape. Lobdell and Rockafort were the first signs of a turn around, but even the LobRocster books have been mired in the larger universe and the ancillary character lives versus truly getting into what makes Clark tick.
ACTION COMICS #25’s “Zero Year” sojourn to a time before 5 years ago showed us that Superman can be heady and exciting; there’s no need for mutually exclusive storylines to achieve both. As Superman valiantly not only battled, but actually tried to overthrow the hurricane battering all of the “Zero Year” titles, Pak took the time to reflect on Supes’ motives for this herculean feat. It’s more than bravery, more than the desire to save lives; Pak’s Clark is also a man seeking redemption, as we all do, from our past. It’s the portrayal of a man who is desperately trying to be human without ever realizing he is embodying the flawlessly noble and sadly all too few. Lana Lang serves as our tour guide into the man, and she is rife with flaws to make her perfectly relatable. This isn’t a sidelines or homebody Lana as we’ve known in the past; she’s bold, brash and thirsts to change the world one electrical engineering super-project at a time. When in Kansas she served as the perfect confidant with her cheeky and no bullshit charm; when in the present, the time before five years ago, she is valiant in the face of danger.
ACTION COMICS #26 jumps to the now now, picking up a heartbeat after ACTION COMICS #25’s close. Lana is in mortal danger from a monster spawned deep below the ground. Superman dashes to the rescue. As Superman punches, Lana marvels, yet it is never in silent awe. Her wonder is at Clark finally living his dream beyond the sleepy boundaries of Smallville. Clark likewise remembers when as he fights this strange beast, transforming this creature’s motivation from invoking terror to merely lashing out in fear as he once did as a young boy when his powers set ablaze his father’s entire crop yield that year.
My description is schmaltzy--I realize that. Just know that Pak’s execution stays above my dewy internalizing of the events. This isn’t the most epic Superman story ever conceived; it is, however, one of the truest embodiments of the hero and age I grew up in. It’s honest, and I’ll take that over big explosions contained in even bigger panels any day.
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.
SLAINE: THE BOOK OF SCARS Hardcover GNWriter: Pat Mills
Art: Clint Langley, Mick McMahon, Glenn Fabry, Simon Bisley
Afterword: Graham Linehan
Publisher: 2000 AD
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
A few years ago for our annual @$$ie Awards, I gave the award for best artist to Clint Langley and everyone went “HUH?” Then Langley produced some fantastic covers for THUNDERBOLTS and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and people were like, “Hey, who is this guy?” and I was like “I told you he was good!” Then I waited and waited for Langley to get some kind of high profile Batman or Wolverine or Thor project, and it never really happened. I still wonder what the guy is doing, and I’m still waiting for him to break it big as his stuff is amazing.
Well, it looks like Langley is moving on to films and other projects, but I can still enjoy some of his best work in a new hardcover from 2000AD called SLAINE: THE BOOK OF SCARS. While Slaine has been around for 30 years, this hardcover graphic novel collects some of the most recent stories of the Celtic warrior known as Slaine. Sure, he may look a lot like Conan, but because of the way writer Pat Mills incorporates Celtic mysticism and history in his tales, there’s a world of difference between Slaine and our favorite Cimmerean.
THE BOOK OF SCARS collects the most recent of the 2000AD stories of Slaine as he battles all forms of demons, monsters, and wee beasties with his ginormous battle axe and a whole lot of attitude. Mills writes Slaine as a brooding berserker, a character driven by honor and tradition and one that seems to constantly be at war with both his own humanity as well as the armies he meets with the wrong end of his axe.
While the character of Slaine is fascinating and well-written, the real reason I first took notice to the character of Slaine is because of the brutal and animalistic depictions of the character created by Clint Langley. I say created because the artist seems to mix media of all sorts to bring his characters to life. Sure there’s some photo ref in here, but Langley builds off of those refs and gives an almost H.R. Giger level of nuance to his nightmarish creations. While some fantastic artists have drawn Slaine, he is very much Langley’s character as no one seems able to toss Slaine into the fray like Langley. His beautiful women, the muscular forms of his men, the monstrous spires, teeth and talons of his creatures--all are something to be in awe of.
The other artists involved in the adventures of Slaine aren’t anything to sneeze at. Simon Bisley offers up some fantastic tales of the warrior, as does Glenn Fabry. Both of these artists are distinct and amazing, utilizing their own unique capabilities and giving their all. Artist Mick McMahon offers up some fantastic images as well, though they are rather simplistic compared to the other artists in the book. McMahon does a fantastic job of offering up some fantastic mood despite the black and white pages.
For some reason, drawing Slaine brings out the best in artists, and if you’re the type of comic book reader who appreciates not only strong storytelling but rock solid artwork, there’s a lot to love in SLAINE: THE BOOK OF SCARS.
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.
INFINITY #6Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Jim Cheung with Dustin Weaver
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Last issue, the Builders storyline came to a conclusion; this time Marvel's latest Thanos romp comes to a thrilling conclusion. Now that the title has officially ended, I'm still scratching my head over why there were two storylines in this series which had almost nothing to do with each other, and why the Builders storyline, the story Hickman had been building up to for a year, was the weaker of the two stories. Seriously, who didn't think Hickman wanted to tell the Builders story and the marketing department made him add Thanos? Lastly, I'm curious why the series was called 'Infinity'. Don't recall it having anything to do with infinity or having anything called infinity in it--I suppose it was the marketing department again.
With just a few minor ticks, Hickman has pulled off a rather cool Thanos story here. Spinning out of the THANOS RISING series, Thanos was out to kill his last offspring; in his way were the Inhumans and the Avengers, leading to epic slugfests with Black Bolt and Thor (personally, I thought Hickman's Thanos was a bit too powerful, but still good stuff). I'm a little bummed that Thanos' Cull Obsidians didn't get more screen time to show off how awesome they are (too much time wasted on the Builders’ story, I'd argue). Most of them have great showings in this issue, but some more character building would have been nice, especially (spoiler time!!!!) for Ebony Maw. How does he just back-stab Thanos like that, when they all seemed uber-loyal to him?
Taking it back to the Builders storyline, the Avengers did return to Earth with their Alien Alliance buddies (Kree, Skrull, Shi'ar, etc). Originally Thanos was fearful of taking on just The Avengers (which is why he attacked Earth when they left), so when they returned tenfold you'd expect them to be more affective then they were. In the end it was Starbrand who (again) did most of the heavy lifting (apparently now that Sentry is gone, Marvel needed another godlike hero), which again makes me wonder why the two storylines were told in the same series.
Jim Cheung and company's art is pretty damn flawless in this issue (ok, I'm not sure what the heck happened on page 32--I'm guessing Supergiant was teleported into space with the bomb). For the most part, the issue is one giant smackdown, and he did a great job bringing it all to life. From all the action to the battle-worn figures, just a perfect-looking superhero book. As good as many of the artists were on this series, I wish Cheung could have handled all the pages. There's just something about one writer, one artist, one series that really makes a classic.
Looking towards the future, as these Marvel crossover events are meant to do, I don't really care about the 'new' Inhumans heading our way. Admittedly, I'm just a passing fan of the Inhumans, but creating a boatload more of them makes them less unique and less interesting as a concept, I feel. What's up next for the Builders or the Ex Nihili, I care even less! Hickman never really made them or their defeat interesting. As for Thanos and his boy Thane, that I'm more curious to see play out. We all know Thanos will be back, and I'm curious as to what will be on his mind when he does (revenge for one, I assume). As for Thane, he's at the start of his journey, and I'm curious if he can really cash those checks Hickman is writing about him.
In closing, this really was a tale of two cities. Hickman really delivered with Thanos and failed to deliver with the Builders. The artwork has been above average the whole time, and since more time was spent on the Thanos storyline, on the Masked Man's scale of CRAP, POOR, FAIR, GOOD, and GREAT INFINITY scores a GOOD.
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
DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN #2Writer & Artist: Andy Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Unlike most of my comic comrades in arms, I don’t hate this in book in theory. What I did hate was killing Damian off in the first place. I also love Elseworlds, so on the theoretical DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN is the perfect book for all of my sensibilities. Damian and his anipals gave the Batcave a much-needed child’s touch after some very dark times for the Bat. His petulant little “tt” in Morrison’s books and the softening of that hard water personality in Tomasi’s run built a Batfamily that was complete even without the presence of a hunchback. So when a resurrection was announced, even if it was an alternate reality, it was still something I was actually looking forward to.
Perhaps we would see Titus in his final days; perhaps we would see Damian trying to balance a personal life along with being Robin in a story akin to BATMAN BEYOND’s Terry McGuiness; perhaps we would see him as a ranch hand raising his own army of Bat-cows to protect a now-agrarian Gotham after the Joker decided his final joke would be to embody the spirit of Pa Ingalls and abolish all technology. I would have accepted any and all of these possible outcomes for Damian circa 2020.
As horrible as some of my story ideas are, sadly what we’ve actually gotten is worse….much worse. I won’t say DAMIAN is a complete waste of time; merely it’s a complete waste of time for anyone who gives a bat’s ass about the character’s legacy and the turmoil wrought from his far-too-early demise. You know what? I’m taking that back. Other than looking at some really cool poses that will sell gangbusters on the pin-up market, this book actually is a complete waste of time.
I’m sure the pitch sounded great: “Imagine this--a future where Bruce can retire in comfort knowing the legacy of the Bat is being carried on by Dick and Damian.” It’s honestly the thing every kid growing up eventually wanted to see. It’s a universal evolution that avoids the dreaded amber. It would have been a cool book if Damian wasn’t more akin to Jason Todd before that Robin died back in the 80s; if Dick wasn’t killed in the first three pages of issue one; if Damian didn’t then go visit Talia and Ra’s to deliver a forced recap of Damian’s origin; if the dialog didn’t read like it was developed by a community college creative writing class; if there was an ACTUAL writer on the series, this could have been cool. I honestly wish DC would run another 900 number contest offering a mercy kill for anyone who has had to wade through this garbage.
The plot moves at a snail’s pace in the moments that don’t matter and then rushes through the moments of consequence. I’m a huge fan of “Rocky”, so I love the training montage. A redemption montage, though, seems a little too much like an escape hatch to move the story forward. But that’s the pivotal moment of this book. Seriously--once the surprise that the Batman we saw killed last issue was Dick and not Bruce is revealed, the next big moment is Damian realizing he’s a douchebag inside a confessional. First of all, no character growth in the six or seven years between now and this future-that-never-will-be is as short-sighted as a writer can get. Secondly, the big moment of this book should have been when Damian mortally stabbed Bruce during their cave tussle. Instead it was a moment of rushed melodrama where the characters, and as a result the reader, feel nothing.
It’s a rare occasion when the artist/writer inhabits the same being. One of my favorite examples of this phenomenon is a cat like Jeff Lemire. Even in these rare instances, though, one side tends to falter. I know many artists who can’t stand Lemire’s sketches (especially the eyes), and even as a fan I have to admit he is far from a polished artist. There’s a reason there are comic teams: even in the old Marvel method where art dictated story, there were still wordsmiths on hand to at least polish the dialog. The best I can say for DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN is that Andy Kubert draws a very interesting grown-up Damian Wayne.
UNCANNY AVENGERS #14Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Steven McNiven
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth
Since its inception, UNCANNY AVENGERS has been dubbed the Unity team. The idea was to bring the Avengers and the X-Men together as a collaborative assemblage for the first time, but from the very beginning this team has operated more akin to a dysfunctional family than a group of respected colleagues.
One of the things I’m enjoying about this title is the constant dramatic tension each issue brings. Remender holds nothing back as he puts his characters through a roller-coaster ride that is both emotionally and physically taxing. The team is constantly pushed further and further into desolation, forced into making tough choices and dealing with unforgiving consequences. The proverbial shit hits the fan big time this issues as the Unity squad dukes it out with the Apocalypse twins and their newly resurrected Four Horsemen.
For comics fans, there’s nothing quite like picking up an issue and getting hit between the eyes with an unforeseen jaw-dropping moment. UNCANNY AVENGERS #14 drops not one but two such bombshells within its pages, and when I say bombshells, I’m talking Fat Man proportions. To say any more would be telling too much.
Another pleasure found in UNCANNY AVENGERS #14 is the debut of comic superstar Steven McNiven as the title’s new regular penciler. Steven is a fantastic and welcome addition to this title. Whether it’s packing a panel with high adrenalin-charged action or conveying robust emotional content, McNiven does not disappoint.
With all eyes on Marvel’s ambitious crossover event INFINITY, Remender and company have managed to sneak in under the radar with what may just be Marvel’s sleeper hit of 2013. If you missed this one, stop what you are doing, call your local comic shop and plead with them to put one aside for you. Trust me; this is the one comic this month you don’t want to miss.
BLACK SCIENCE #1Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Matteo Scalera
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
If anyone reading this actually keeps tabs on how I generally work my reviews, they know by now that usually I kick things off with some pithy anecdote that relates an experience or theme or whatever to whatever comic book it is I’ve decided to talk about. Well this time I don’t have one, because this comic in particular – BLACK SCIENCE – really feels like it harkens back to an era that I haven’t really ever done anything but dabble in when it comes to reading comics--that old school EC Comics period where science fiction and horror were big, grand new frontiers in the medium. It’s all dark and foreboding and yet grand and sweeping at the same time, like the story unfolding knows exactly what it’s playing at with every page turn--that each flip is a chance at more “dun dun dun!” dramatic effect or to ramp up tension. This is a comic that very much knows its roots, but your mileage may vary depending on how receptive you are to its sensibilities.
Coming at BLACK SCIENCE personally, while I have no real attachment to this style of storytelling (other than occasionally dabbling in some DC Showcases from this particular era) I was able to appreciate the homage Remender and Scalera were playing and, as always, the big, grandiose science fiction tropes that Remender loves to play with, ala FEAR AGENT. I also was pretty weary of the tone by the end of this first issue. For the majority of the goings-on here I was well and truly enjoying the scenery and kinetic energy of the action as Grant (a scientist who ends up being a bit too sure of himself and it costs him his wife, Jennifer, in the early pages) – evades lizardmen riding eel mounts and eventually combats frogs with electric whip tongues. All of that truly tickles my fancy and absolutely looks gorgeous between Scalera’s lush and detailed pencilwork and Dean White’s spectacular coloring job. But the internalized dialogue boxes, man, they really kind of bring you down.
I mean, the word “Black” is in the title so one would have to assume there’s some dark shit that’s going to happen. And it does. Like I mentioned earlier, we’re all of four pages into this vibrant debut and we’re with Grant and his wife on the back of a giant fucking tortoise island when Grant’s wife gets her fucking face taken off by a lizardman spear thing. Then it’s a race to save his kids and his science from getting ripped to atoms by a device called the pillar, the means by which they travel the universe, it seems. There’s enough hope and perseverance in Grant’s voice as he rushes to try and save his people from his own arrogance to pull through the action for sure, but man is there a lot of nihilistic tendencies written in there as well. And, again this is probably one of those “me” things, but it really tended to make the super-interesting, super-stylistic science fiction happenings alongside become a drag.
Now, this is only the first issue so I don’t want to imply that this is in any way indicative of things to come, but given the last page of this premiere, shit is only going to get worse before it gets better for Grant and his crew. And that’s all well and fine; I’m not some kid that needs sugarcoating or can’t handle constant dramatic tension--far from it if you look at what fills my bookcases. But I’m just hoping there’s a hook emerging that can occasionally pull back the bleak. I absolutely adored Remender’s FEAR AGENT and that book was far from a light-hearted affair, but while Heath Huston was an alcoholic mess of a man his scampish Han Solo-like misadventures carried some good humor with it to combat the dark. I’m just hoping BLACK SCIENCE finds that good humor, because I feel this has a great sci fi epic with a more high adventure “Lost in Space” premise at hand, and I can see it possibly drowning in too much despair. It could be like if the original “Star Wars” trilogy was done completely in the tone of the last ten minutes of “Empire” if it doesn’t find that way to vent the dark parts, though I know that implies Ewoks and now I am conflicted.
I could just be in the wrong here and maybe that is the book Remender and company want to produce and maybe that’s the audience trying to be harvested here. This could just end up being a book that is not for me despite the aesthetic screaming out as something I should be buying every month. I personally hope that is not the case, but even if it does occur my personal tastes do not in any way stop this from being the well-crafted comic that it is from the way it presents the fundamentals of what a good comic should contain. The pacing, the tension, the design, the backdrops and action sequences - all of that is top-notch work from top-notch creative talent. I just happen to hope the book ends up smiling more, and I may be the minority. Maybe I am more of a softy than I thought, and maybe the direness of Grant and his crew will win me over because it’s presented just so damn well. I’ve read “The Road” and I thought it was excellent despite the completely backbreaking sorrow and …
….sorry…for a second there it felt like someone kicked my cat a thousand times in front of me. Yeah, please, guys; don’t make a sci fi “The Road” here. For your souls and mine, I implore you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a fat cat to find and hug. Cheers…
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.
ALL NEW X-MEN #19Writer: Brian Bendis
Artist: Brandon Peterson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: The Kid Marvel
I think it’s safe to say that the amount of new teams Marvel introduces is about as regular as a new “Call of Duty” game, and trying to keep up with all the different variations of these teams is a daunting task. This is also very much the case with the X-Men franchise, which boasts a multitude of teams all varying from good to meh and total garbage stories. Honestly, it’s feels like Marvel is trying to get me to spend money or something on all these books.
Anyways, at first I liked the idea of the original X-Men coming face to face with their future counterparts, a reflection of former and present selves combined and intertwined with deeper themes of philosophy, while still making for good and entertaining storytelling. This has been the case for most of ALL NEW X-MEN’s run, with some bumps in quality here and there. But overall it has been a fairly good series and stands out among the rest of the titles in the cheerleader effect of X-Men related books.
In ALL NEW XMEN #19, the past X-Men and Kitty Pride have left the Logan-led X-Men team for the Cyclops-led X-Men team, having a bit of a falling out after the BATTLE OF THE ATOM arc. In Issue #19, Magik has taken the young X-Men to battle the usual X-foes of crazy anti-mutant human whack jobs who they obviously dispatch with relative ease, with past Cyclops also learning a valuable lesson about future Earth’s law enforcement towards mutants in the process. However, the core or important focus in #19 doesn’t seem to be the actual story, but the character being introduced into this series and making her way over from AVENGERS ARENA. I’ll leave that spoiler out for those looking to read the book and for those who don’t care, you can use the wondrous tool of Google to find out, cause who uses Bing?
Overall, I thought the book was alright. The past X-Men team is finally getting to see some action, but the whole techno anti-mutant religious thing is kind of old and way past being played out. I understand that the X-Men’s overarching theme is being outcastes and being hated by humans, but it’s just used way too often, especially when you can use the whole past angle for much better stories. Think about it: these are past X-Men who have no idea about villains like Carnage, Omega Red, Red Skull, or Mr. Sinister let alone about higher-level villains like Galactus, Loki, Ultron, or Apocalypse, plus the whole Marvel Cosmicverse of Skrull, Chitauri, and a multitude of alien races. Bendis could just toss these characters into the fire of the evolved Marvelverse by using that great mix of past into the present story base. The past X-Men would be out of their minds with the depth of the current universe and spectrum of villains, having never gotten the chance to evolve with the world as the stories have over the 50 plus years of X-Men writing. Instead they fight a bunch of regular human jabronis in robot suits. Don’t get me wrong--the stories aren’t awful or bad, they just have a lot of unutilized potential being wasted on the same old, same old.
With my little rant over, I’ll get to the book’s artwork, which I actually liked, but I can see other readers not feeling the same way. I thought Brandon Peterson did a beautiful job on pencil and ink duty, with Israel Silva doing a superb job in the colors department. ALL NEW X-MEN displayed a unique mix of bright, almost Tron-like colors, with a darker, night-based environment to make the art have a little personality to it. While the details lacked finer definitions in the characters designs, I felt the amount of detail used worked and helped the book flow, without taking away from the story.
For me, I like Bendis’s writing and his run with ALL NEW X-MEN, but I think a lot more can be done with the past/present angle and it should be. You don’t even have to have ever read an X-Men comic to know mutants are hated by humans for being different; everyone gets that, especially with the “First Class” X-Men team coming from an era where it was a heavy story element in the 60s. ALL NEW X-MEN #19 isn’t crap, it’s slightly above meh, but I would just like Bendis to start utilizing some better story structures, because the book started off strong and should continue in that direction.
Advance Review: In stores today!
HINTERKIND #3Writer: Ian Edginton
Artist: Francesco Trifogli
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
“A lot like FABLES, right?” Wrong; however, the confusion is perfectly understandable. When invoking Germanic folklore the first place I went before reading issue #1 was “what the hell is Vertigo thinking?” Then the heartbreaking news of FABLES’ saga ending at issue #150 was announced and my inklings of replacement grew even stronger. Then, I actually read the book.
Where Willingham gave a new modern life to characters we all once knew and loved, making many of them more endearing, HINTERKIND offers no such comforts. These are the goblins, fairies, elves and trolls of lore, but there is nothing kind or human about them. As a matter of fact, they hate us and that hatred drives them on a hunt to obliterate us from the face of the earth.
They’ve had some help in their endeavor; the plague we’ve all been waiting for finally hits the day after tomorrow, turning humans into one of the world’s most endangered species. The story starts in an unknown time, but it is far enough from now that New York has become a junglescape with an iron heart. Central Park serves as one of humanity’s last bastions, with a concentration of people that equals less than the population of Walnut Grove.
We’re well past the time when civilization was remembered, and a new text called the Book of Monday has served as the new religious scribe between the time we all know and the time that takes place in the book. Surprisingly, issue #3 is the first to skip this expository convention, and that’s a good thing. Edginton provided the names of our protagonists the past few issues, but gave little idea as to who they are as people. Issue #3 is the beginning of those holes forming substance.
The Doc is the elder of the Central Park village; in issue #1 he received a distress radio signal from upstate New York, so he began the three month journey north. This was a nice way to convey the loss of modern conveniences in the future. His granddaughter Prosper, not content to stay on the homestead, absconds with her friend Angus to go after her grandfather. Their motivation lies in curiosity and the fact Angus sprouted a rat-like tail that makes him far more akin to the Hinterkind.
Who are the Hinterkind? They are the legends of old, who went into hiding when the human population began to breed like vermin. They are from the First Kingdom who had built spires when we were still flinging our shit at one another…I mean, at times other than just Black Friday. After years of being beaten into the shadows, that is where they stayed for thousands of years, until the plague gave them their free pass at taking back the planet.
What leaves me most enamored with the book is the fact the humans have no idea what’s going on. We are witnessing the beginning of the Hinterkind’s culling of our species, not the end. First the Hinterkind built power, and then they decided to seek sources to feed that power. Prosper and all the human characters are meeting these strange characters for the first time like we are, which makes their pleas for explanation appropriate versus forced. Another big plus point lies in the fact that everyone speaks normally; no Tolkien-talk for our Hinterkind. Well, the aristocracy that wants to keep humans as pets are a bit haughty, but we all expect that from elves. The packs of hunters sent to find and capture humans (the ones they don’t eat) are base and as wilderness-like as our early pioneers.
Issue #3 introduces a new group, which feels like a little too much too soon. They’re very cool, dressed in hazmat suits as they work on their massive solar farm arrays, but I need Edginton to make this it for now. He needs to take time in issue #4 to tell us more about the humans, the Hinterkind leader introduced in issue #2 and now these ghosts that like to incinerate their captives with the same methodical coolness as Nazis.
HINTERKIND will not replace FABLES; nothing will, though Trifolgi bathes in the same realistic renditions as Buckingham. However, it is blazing a new and intriguing path for fable-like characters in the Vertigo universe.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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