(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SECOND CYCLE #1
STRAY BULLETS: KILLERS #1
CAPTAIN MARVEL #1
QUANTUM & WOODY: THE GOAT #0
THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN: SEASON SIX #1
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #29
Indie Jones presents TABATHA #1-4
SECRET AVENGERS #1
MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER #1
Advance Review: In stores this week!
AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SECOND CYCLE #1Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
When I interviewed Scott Snyder last year at New York Comic Con, he confirmed my worst fears: AMERICAN VAMPIRE is and will be a finite series, so the news of Second Cycle’s release this week was bittersweet. I wanted AMERICAN VAMPIRE to return, but I really want Snyder to slow the hell down instead of hurtling 88 MPH towards today. This is why I always relished the issues going back to Skinner Sweet’s early days; it meant a brief respite before we bounded into another epoch of Americana.
Yes, the vampires are cool, with their different genuses and subspecies all possessing their own virtues and flaws, but it’s the slightly skewed view of the 20th century that has always intrigued me most. It’s seeing how vampires used immortality to gain money, money to gain power and finally power to cast a dark pall over humanity. From the 20s on forward we have watched the vampire race pull the puppet strings on great events from silent movie Hollywood to the Hoover Dam, and even going so far as to postulate how vampires could have helped us win WWII (or almost lose it, since the Japanese vampires were pretty damn formidable).
AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SECOND CYCLE catapults the series forward ten years, ditching the bobby socks for soldier jackets. The time is the 60s; the backdrop is the war in Vietnam. Though older, our eternal narrators, the opposing forces of Pearl and Skinner, have not let any moss grow on their fangs.
Skinner continues this decade in debauchery by robbing trucks and hauling the loot back to a luxury train car he buried in the Wild West days. It’s an odd choice to see a man who was responsible for building Las Vegas now burrowed underground like a rat, but I have faith that Snyder won’t let this decade close without bringing Skinner back to greatness. Honestly, I would give a pint of my own blood to see Skinner doling out coke to Mariel Hemingway at Studio 54 in ten years.
Pearl remains a perpetual source of light in the world. Gone are the clandestine organizations of vampire hunters and world builders. After losing her husband at the close of the last arc, Pearl ditched the West Coast for the comforts of home back in Kansas. Posing as her own daughter to quell small town chatter, she has established a refuge for young vampires of all subspecies. Their cherubic faces juxtaposed by Albuquerque’s patented over-fanging are comically terrifying compared to the simple grotesqueness of vamped-out adults. Her roster increased to four this issue, but I don’t know how much that number will grow since this small little addition raised a big ruckus in town on her way to sanctuary.
There are some clear paths this story will move in. I don’t foresee Pearl keeping this refuge for very long. As the Wizard of Oz taught us, Kansas’ tranquil plains are the equivalent of story death. I do, however, see a kinship with at least one of these kids. The beauty of Pearl is how willingly she gives herself to those she loves, and one of the tragedies of this tale is the reminder of how alone Pearl will always be in giving her heart to mortals.
As for Skinner, his path is less clear. I imagine these roadside heists are the building blocks to greater evils. Actually, I pray that’s the case. Skinner has been hiding in the shadows since the 1930s. Though he played a pivotal role in the WWII story, it was a clandestine operation. His time in the 50s was merely a Truman-era sigh of non-responsibility. The fast car adventure was fun, but I want to see Skinner dream big again. We’re a few years too late for the grassy knoll, but there’s nothing stopping Skinner from pulling strings in ‘Nam or inciting a few race riots just to watch America burn.
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.
STRAY BULLETS: KILLERS #1Writer/Artist: David Lapham
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
There was a time when I was hunting down anything indie in the comic book world because, well, partially I was just tired of the regular stuff on the shelves and partially I was just a touch too much on the pretentious side. Regardless of the intent, finding some of this DIY material was well worth the effort of following the word of mouth. David Lapham’s STRAY BULLETS was king of this DIY mountain, except for the unfortunate part where it kind of sort of couldn’t always make it out in any regular manner and went into a pretty extended absence until now. But when it was out, it was something; a mass of psychotic, psychedelic nihilism that tapped into adolescent fantasies and then made you feel unbelievably dirty for ever having them. Now it’s back, thanks to those lovable bastards at Image, and it’s just as wonderfully fucked as it ever was.
KILLERS is a prime example of what this book was in its heyday. We go from an opening of a gaggle of teenage boys falling over each other talking about lady breasts to an ending involving bad case of vehicular homicide. The issue plays out innocently enough, which is the first rule of STRAY BULLETS: nothing is innocent. But base impulses get the better of even the best of us, and the main impulse going on is for young Eli to hide in the back of his father’s car when he visits the local “All Nude Revue” because his dad is kind of a lecherous piece of shit. As things usually go with this title, everything goes downhill from there. A routine sneak-and-peek in his dad’s car leads to Eli being stranded at the flesh bin once his dad runs out after being offered a lapdance from the unsuspecting neighborhood babysitter. A hitched ride with reoccurring STRAY BULLETS character Spanish Scott later, and we have a body count as Scott lays a drive-by on some fellow lowlifes. From hormones to homicide--that’s the STRAY BULLETS way.
This is crime noire for the low level sociopath mixed in with love stories for the depraved. You can’t help but feel dirty as some of the events unfold in its pages, but it’s also kind of grounded, and you will find yourself identifying with the primal tone of it all. What started with young Eli and his friends being obsessed with lady parts turned into some creepy statutory affair and ends with Eli’s father bleeding out in the street. STRAY BULLETS doesn’t always escalate as fast as this issue did but it never, ever pulls any punches, and for the uninitiated this is a great introduction to how this book does its dirt. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if this fresh start is really a clean wipe – considering the return of Scott, I have to assume we’re going to get some more recurring items – but for a “this is what you’re in for” reintroduction it’s as good a barometer for your interest as it can get. If you like this, the UBER ALLES edition is ready and waiting at your beck and call and I suggest you lie, cheat, and/or steal your way to a copy in your grubby hands. If not, well, congratulations on having a moral compass there, boy scout, I’m sure you’re the life of the party. Oh, and, uh, I was just joshin’ about the cheating and stealing thing. I just wanted to be a tough guy for once =/ 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, 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.
CAPTAIN MARVEL #1Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art: David Lopez
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
I didn't read much of the last CAPTAIN MARVEL title, to be honest. Not because it was bad, by any means. Simply put, there were other books I was more engaged in, and when it comes down to grabbing the titles your budget allows, some fall by the wayside. CAPTAIN MARVEL has since relaunched with the same creative team and been given a new mission statement, one that might be able to hold onto the attention a little easier. Which is good, because the title is, if anything, even better than the previous incarnation of the book.
DeConnick is REALLY good at writing Carol Danvers. She infuses her with talent, confidence, and charisma, but gives her a resonant problem - Carol's getting bored. Not in a "when will something exciting happen" way, but with the very realistic feelings of feeling misplaced. She doesn't feel like she's home, or knows what she wants to do. She has the talents, but she doesn't know where to apply them. The issue is a slow build to the inevitable new status quo, so the book spends much of it's time setting Carol up for the reader. It's strong character building, and quickly establishes why we should like Carol. She's funny, but unsure of her current role in the world. She's strong willed, but lost adrift in the world.
It should also be brought up that this is a very funny title. The quips and situations are good, but the book excels when Carol is in some fun situation. She and Iron Man at one point team up to stop a mugging. It's exactly as one-sided as you would think, but it's also hysterical.
The art is solid throughout the issue, particularly in the character designs. The book opens on a distant world, and quickly introduces a squad of visually interesting characters alongside the statuesque (but believable) heroine. The acting is strong between characters, expressions clear and well defined. It's a set up issue, so the action is kept to a minimum, but the art team is already impressive in those regards; what short beats we do get are well-crafted and clear. The physical pratfalls are just as good as the spacefaring hero or the small relationship moments between Carol and Rhodey.
If you liked the previous series, and especially if you never read the past title, give CAPTAIN MARVEL a try. It's not the most exciting story this month, but it goes a long way towards setting up our hero and the mindset she inhabits. A solid first issue for what appears to be a strong series. Not much happens this issue, but that's not what they're trying to accomplish. DeConnick and crew want you to love Carol Danvers. This issue does a good job of making that a reality.
QUANTUM AND WOODY #0: THE GOATWriters: James Asmus & Tom Fowler
Artist: Tom Fowler
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
For those that believe ”The Goat” was simply a juvenile game of scrotum showmanship from the movie “Waiting,” think again. The Goat is also the best damn character to grace the juvenile pages of QUANTUM AND WOODY. And before we take juvenile as an insult, it’s not, unless of course you have a stick up your ass in some emo-fueled mission of self-discovery. If that’s the case, move on – QUANTUM AND WOODY relishes in too much frivolity for your endarkened tastes.
QUANTUM AND WOODY is most amazing because they live inside and outside the rest of the Valiant universe on a whim. They neither tether nor completely shun the events of other books--merely use them when it suits the heroes best, a selfishness that reflects the epitome of Woody, and a seriousness when needed, which is an exact reflection of Eric (aka Quantum). Yes, they are an odd couple, but they are an interracial odd couple of brothers (not the “Airplane” type,but actual brothers) who must be in proximity to use their reality-bending powers.
Now what about The Goat, you might ask? The Goat is simply hell incarnate, or so we thought until the last panel on the very last page of this issue. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this is still the same hellbeast that has plagued the duo since it followed them home from the super-secret lair of the science cadre that may or may not have “killed” their father, but there was a definitive tenderloin…I mean tenderness expressed by The Goat in this issue that makes animal-loving saps like myself melt like so much butter.
Basically, as the 0 implies, this is an origin issue. The Goat went through some crazy shit in his time before and after meeting the duo. Also, the most recent encounter that brought the three together was not their first. There was a time way back when the internet was dial-up, the new President was about to turn the Oval Office into the O-face Office, and people still went to actual trade conferences. It was in this time that a young Q&W went with their science Dad to a science trade fair and had The Goat ruin the demonstration of a very poorly constructed science machine. Why was The Goat there? Well, for the same reason most of us go to shows…the delusional belief that our favorite celebrities will actually give a flying fuck about meeting us. The Goat’s object of affection was a very famous sheep born unnaturally outside the grace of God.
In all honesty, I was always thought The Goat was a one-note joke. A funny joke, but still not good for much beyond the fact everyone is terrified of its always off panel-delivered acts of mayhem and destruction. Again, though, the last panel, which I refuse to spoil, has completely changed The Goat’s game and brought the book squarely to its inception point of Q&W trying to suss out what happened to Dad. If you missed the clue like 33% of most readers, look to the grass, my young ones.
I get a different charge from QUANTUM AND WOODY than I do other Valiant books. Most of the titles tickle my dark funny bone with the few comedic moments coming from the callous responses of Gods among us wreaking havoc. Q&W is the polar opposite by actually bringing about tender surprises amid a cacophony of dick jokes from Woody and woeful sighs from Eric. I’m very harsh with humor comic books; they have be amazingly funny. The only other one in recent memory that hit the mark as genuinely as QUANTUM & WOODY was TODD THE UGLIEST KID ON EARTH. However, Todd is a slice of life book, where Q&W have done the seemingly impossible feat of taking the most harrowing life situations and milking them for all of their comedic lactate.
If that’s still not enough to get you to take a sip of The Goat’s glistening teat of story goodness, look at that freaking cover. Valiant has once again dipped into the Gen X well of childhood nostalgia like they did with the 8-bit covers last year. For all the kids out there who have no idea what a Little Golden Book is, think of it as your favorite App from back in 2007. Sure, it sucks compared to modern ones, but damn it if you can ever delete the old favorites.
THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN: SEASON SIX #1Writer: Jim Kuhoric
Artist: Juan Antonio Ramirez
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man
The year is 1978: the Atari 2600 was barely a year old, Andy Gibb's “Shadow Dancing” was the biggest song of the year (his brothers, the Bee Gees, owned the rest of the chart), GREASE was the biggest movie until SUPERMAN came out in December and the power couple of the day was Farrah Fawcett and Lee Majors. Lee's hit TV show, though, was not renewed for a sixth season...until now, kinda.
Unlike like Dynamite's last Steve Austin (the Bionic Man/Six Million Dollar Man) comic, which was based on the unrealized reboot movie script by Kevin Smith, this new series goes back to the original TV show (which made Martin Caidin's novel CYBORG an immortal piece of pop culture). New seasons of TV shows as comic books are all the rage now, so it's understandable that Dynamite wants to join in on the fun. Being a child of the 70s myself, and the proud one time owner of a Steve Austin doll ('action figure' really wasn't a word back then), I had to give it a try. Topped with an awesome Alex Ross cover with Lee Major's likeness, and I think I have my choice for best cover of 2014 as well.
Now as I said, the year is 1978, so THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN: SEASON SIX is actually a period piece, which is kinda cool, though I'm curious how much work Kuhoric and Ramirez will actually put into the book to make it the 70s. So far they are making a fair attempt. Also, putting it in the 70s will allow you to believe his body only cost six million, as opposed to Kevin Smith's script which said he cost about six million to run a day. Now I have no memory of what the heck went on in season 5 of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, so I'm coming into this fairly fresh, though I've been watching some reruns on COZTV. That said, the first page worried me, as some modern looking sci-fi alien attacks a space probe. Alien beings from the show were more the advanced societies with glowing crystals type. But the rest of the issue gets in line with a typical episode, which is: Steve, working for the OSI (Office of Scientific Intelligence) as a pseudo secret agent, gets assigned to help with the recovery of said space probe. You see, after its alien encounter it has crashed into the sea and, just like a TV episode, Steve must deal with more mundane adversaries to get the job done (sharks here). But the issue also covers the return (or are they doing a reboot!?) of one of Steve's three major villains: Maskatron (I had that doll too)! Maskatron is an android with the ability, given masks, to impersonate other people. (FYI, the other two villains were Bigfoot and the Seven Million Dollar Man—corny, yes, but that was the bomb back then). So far Kuhoric has a good grip on the low key action adventure that is the Six Million Dollar Man, and prevents this from being a boring set-up issue, which is an all too common trap.
Juan Antonio Ramirez does a decent job drawing the book. His actor likenesses aren't spot on, but he does draw them in his own convincing personal style, which is good. I wasn't too thrilled about some of the storytelling, but the incredibly awkward splash page on page 16 was the worst. Again, decent enough start, but he needs to step up his game in order to get more sales and fans. And whoever came up with the idea to use the iconic sounds of the show as the sound effects deserves an 'attaboy'. Most of the time I don't care about clever sound effects, but here I appreciate the effort.
As always it's hard to judge a first issue, especially since it's usually part of a much bigger story arc. But this first issue has entertained me enough to come back next month. With any luck, this time out Steve Austin will have the charisma that was missing in the first series.
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
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #29Writer(s): Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth
Otto’s time as the Superior Spider-Man is nearing its end as the Goblin King wages a city wide war.
All that Otto Octavius has strived so hard to build these past months has been torn down before his very eyes. Even worse, his reputation as the Superior Spider-Man is being dragged through the mud, all of this thanks to none other than the Green Goblin, who seems determined to educate Otto on the defining characteristic of a hero: sacrifice.
We’ve all heard the expression “move along, nothing to see here.” Well, that’s kind of what we get with part three of the Goblin Nation. It’s not that the issue stinks out loud or is a tremendous letdown; it just fails to take the story any further than the previous chapters did.
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #29 spends much of its time covering banter between Otto and Octavius. I find it curious that the Goblin King figured out Octavius’s current deception, yet can’t discern the identity of the face under the mask. Be that as it may, Slott and Gage do manage to throw in a couple of interesting moments. The fate of a jerk character like Don Lamaze may not hit on an emotional chord with readers, but it demonstrate that Otto’s actions (as Spider-Man) have made an impact, and can stir courage in others. It’s also good to See Spidey 2099 get in on the action; I was hoping he would play some part in the finale, so points for that.
Camuncoli’s art is a mixed bag this time. While his characters can be a bit rigid and his Goblin feels a little too Jokeresque for my tastes, his storytelling keeps getting stronger. I really enjoy how he is starting to trade traditional panel design for more enterprising visuals, particularly in not one but two double-page spreads in this issue. I hope this trend continues.
I guess for me the problem is, parts one and two of this tale did such a good job setting the stage for the showdown between Spider-Otto and Goblin King that it just makes part three come off as superfluous. As I cited earlier, it’s not a bad issue; it’s just a bit to uninspiring for the story it’s telling.
Indie Jones Presents…
TABATHA #1-4Writer: Neil Gibson
Artist: Caspar Wijngaard
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
I “met” Neil Gibson about three or four years ago. By met, I mean Neil basically flooded my email box asking me to take a look at an anthology graphic novel he was working on called TWISTED DARK. I lost some of Neil’s emails, and then I ignored a few others since my indie plate was already full. What a fool I was. TWISTED DARK was the modern evolution of the “Twilight Zone” concept: great stories and characters with a twist at the end. Only unlike “Twilight Zone”, Neil had taken the concept of less than happy ending to hyperbole – kind of like going to an Asian massage parlor and getting the chick with two prosthetic claws. Neil doesn’t deal in sunshine and flowers; he doesn’t even deal in reality where sometimes things actually do work out for the best. Neil is a shit who will doom us all, and his first sequential four issue comic, TABATHA, is the epitome of his hatred for a brighter tomorrow.
TABATHA tells the tale of four twentysomethings living in Los Angeles. There’s Luke the mail carrier, his big brother and protector Fin, Fin’s girlfriend Baily and her Brother and Fin’s best friend Ty. It’s important to understand the intricate lattice of these relationships, because it is the driving force of the story. While the plot consists of these four being undone by their dirty deeds, Neil needed to establish the kinship of the four to understand why each would continually enter the gaping maw of insanity for one another.
The four start the story in a bit of a Robin Hood adventure to get money to pay for Baily and Ty’s terminally ill mother’s medical treatment. Luke basically cases empty houses while on his postal route, and later that night the four swoop in. A fine and dandy plan, until they one day stumble into the wrong house of an SFX maestro in the Hollywood Hills.
Luke is the first to fall once he discovers the SFX troll, Gustav, has coveted a plastic fuck doll named Tabatha who he is trying to imbue with the life essence of real (kidnapped) women.
Sound incredible, almost ridiculous? Of course it does, and in the hands of another writer I would have walked from the premise alone. However, in knowing Gibson, I also know he has a way of making the seemingly trite rife with depth and emotion. For every ounce of twist in Gibson’s writing soul live three greater parts of spotless and engaging character development. As each member of the gang falls, they are undone essentially by their own unique personality quirks. Luke falls because he is an asshat who goofs around on the job and does some unspeakable things to Tabatha as Gustav leeringly looks on. Fin’s Achilles heel is his natural predilection to protect Luke. Baily and Ty have different motivators, but their love for the other two certainly doesn’t help in avoiding Gustav’s evil machinations. Gustav is, naturally, insane; however, that’s not to say he is completely crazy. After much bloodshed and a surprisingly low body count, Gibson gives the appearance that for once, he might actually let his protagonists live in peace. I won’t ruin the end, but it is certainly an indictment on the general male predisposition to treat real ladies like fuck dolls and a stark warning of the old saying “be careful what you wish for.”
Wijngaard is a tougher nail for me to hammer with review insight. Some panels are splendid and glorious with detail. Others feel a little too loose, almost like he had to sacrifice some painstaking detail so the book could meet deadlines. I don’t fault Wingaard, because usually Gibson’s lofty ambitions are handled by several artists like in the TWISTED DARK short stories (now up to the sick and twisted Vol.4).
I usually wish all of my favorite creators the platitude of bigger characters with bigger houses so they don’t fester in indie obscurity. I won’t give that to Gibson, and it’s purely my own selfishness wanting to hold him back. Some guys are simply meant for indies, crafting originality instead of trying to infuse a sense of originality into tired brands and product placement tent poles. I guess I could wish him luck in universes like Image, Dark Horse or Vertigo, but that would be it. I want more TABATHA and TWISTED DARK from Neil versus a bat emblem or a mutant massacre.
SECRET AVENGERS #1Writer: Ales Kot
Artist: Michael Walsh
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
“Joe, you really like HAWKEYE right? You’re going to want to get a copy of SECRET AVENGERS then.” This is what greeted me as I walked into my LCS last week and I, firmly admitting that as a person who is supposed to be a go to person on recommending things (at least for 1,000+ words a week), I can’t read/buy it all and occasionally rely on people who know me (in this case my dealer of fifteen years) to get things in my hands that may have fallen through them otherwise. But yes, I really, really do like HAWKEYE, and when you buy upwards of sixty comics a month, sometimes you become wary of just adding a four dollar comic on top of all your other purchases. When there are so many comics and so many GOOD ASS comics out there at a buck cheaper, sometimes you just have to weigh opportunity costs. And I really do like HAWKEYE…
So why does this compare to that book with Hawkguy? Well, his prevalence in the book is a start, but Kot really channels the eccentric energy the character has in his solo book and broadcasts it across a team of C-tier characters. This first issue alone features Spider-Woman and Black Widow getting massages and firing off weaponry as big as they are to blow off steam, Hawkeye facing down hordes of AIM agents in the buff, and MODOK with robotic spider-legs screaming about the “Lair of Mad Science” as he covertly makes weaponry for Maria Hill. There’s lots of frantic action, oddball humor, and tendencies for almost slapstick comedy-like overreaction from characters that are supposed to be the best of the best. It’s one of those great change of pace items we occasionally get that contrast well against periods where flagship titles are getting a little heady and dour, which is a thing that occurs regularly now that we have to get big, yearly events where people die and EVERYTHING CHANGES!!! or we’re doing things like killing off those flagship characters for a couple years and letting their classic villains inhabit their bodies for the duration. Y’know, lighthearted affair…
Michael Walsh’s art is a really good compliment to this style of storytelling to complete the quirky circuit. This is going to sound weird, but I kind of liken it to a somewhat scratchy and grizzled version of what you’d consider to be a classic ARCHIE style. It’s cartoonish in what it does not for lack of detail or realism in the figures and backgrounds but in that it just embellishes actions and reactions to an almost zany degree--as zany as you can be when you’ve got weird science golems impaling SHIELD agents in space and some grim double agent slitting even more SHIELD agent throats terrestrially while all this off-kilter superheroing is going on anyway. Either way, I appreciate what the creative team is going for here and how the attitude they are taking shakes things up a bit. Plus, given my exposure to Ales Kot’s writing so far (i.e. the first ZERO volume from IMAGE) it looks like he’s a talent that can go from a comedic tone like this into something more serious and psychological and back again in no time. Pull that back and forth off with some of my favorite secondary characters month in and out and you’ve got something making me rethink those opportunity costs. In an industry completely oversaturated by AVENGERS titles, I have to admit this one really stands out. So, I have to ask, do you like you some HAWKEYE?
MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER #1Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Cory Smith
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
I came to the far away year 4,000 because of my early memories of Valiant from the 90s. I’ll stay because of Dynamite’s no holds barred reimagining of this man who karate chops robots to death.
The Gold Key characters, like Magnus, Solar and Turok, have been passed around by people in power more than an 18 year old girl from Oklahoma stepping off the bus on Sunset Boulevard. Through it all, though, they have always persevered with quality stories reborn each generation. The truly old remember the inception of these characters from the pulps of the 40s and 50s, while ol’ Gen Xers like yours truly will remember the gang as part of Jim Shooter’s experiment in perfect continuity and “unity” from Valiant 1.0. Y and milennials might have caught some of the action these characters had over at Dark Horse a few years ago, but I won’t bet on it considering the Solar series disappeared with a whisper and now the characters are with the gang at Dynamite.
Van Lente remembered one essential element with MAGNUS that seems to have eluded Pak when he was working on TUROK: if you’re going to have an antagonist in the title, make sure that thing gets its ass handed to it in the first issue. TUROK had no dinosaurs, making it simply a tale about American Indians before their land was pillaged by the white man. I don’t know about you, but I like my Indians “F-Troop” style. Communing with the land and growing crops is about as interesting as watching anything else Larry Storch starred in after “F-Troop”.
While I applaud Van Lente for adding some goddamn robots to this book, he actually took the story a step further to reset the expectations around Magnus the man for fans of yore. In the old days Magnus just was. He was a dude fighting bad robots while helping robots who wanted to achieve sentience. In the Valiant universe there were plenty of continuity and cross-pollination trappings to make this one-note song a symphony. In the Dynamite world we discover Magnus’ true purpose in lockstep with the man himself.
While the first page metaphor of a snow globe wasn’t lost on me, I truly believed Van Lente was going to affix Magnus with a flux capacitor. Probably a good three quarters of this book takes place in a nice and quiet Midwestern town circa the day after tomorrow. The kids that teacher Magnus instructs are globally aware and rudimentary robots assisting in agrarian activities and household chores. A very 2043 vibe, if you will. Magnus has a job, friends, a pillar-like status in the community and a smoking hot girlfriend.
Then he wakes up.
This idyllic life was merely a ruse, or a fugue state if you will. Magnus was in the downhome matrix - an intricate web of deceit meant to keep this man with metal thrashing hands and tough as nails skin complacent for…well, we’re not sure yet. What we do know is that the robots have become much more than simple taskmasters, and they are not very fond of meat bags.
There’s one final change that should not be ignored in this review – Dynamite in their infinite wisdom FINALLY covered Magnus’ nut sack. For years the man has walked around in a mini dress and white go-go boots that would make even Nancy Sinatra blush with their lack of modesty. Choosing the more practical and timely shirt and pants was not only a necessity for this age, but should have been added even twenty years ago.
Turok – meh. Magnus – awesome. We now have to wait on Solar and Doctor Spektor to see if Dynamite has a fresh new miniverse or merely a few good titles.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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