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AICN COMICS REVIEWS: SINESTRO! THE AUTEUR! FLASH GORDON! GHOST RIDER! & More!

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

Advance Review: SINESTRO #1
THE AUTEUR #2
IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON #1
THE MERCENARY SEA #3
Indie Jones presents TWISTED DARK VOL. 4
ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER #2
FLASH GORDON #1
SHUTTER #1
DEADPOOL VS CARNAGE #1


Advance Review: In stores today!

SINESTRO #1

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Your enjoyment of SINESTRO #1 will correlate directly to how you read comics. If you’re an inch deep, mile wide reader of DC this issue will raise many questions, like “Wasn’t Sinestro just pummeling the anti-League from Earth 3 over in FOREVER EVIL, so how did he end up in self-imposed exile so quickly?” If you just focus on the GREEN LANTERN sub-verse of DC you might ask, “When did Sinestro’s daughter Soranik get captured by the Yellow Lanterns, and why the hell haven’t her teammates in emerald come to save her?”

If you can walk away from these burning questions or are simply a Sinesto fanboy, this is a fine and admirable first issue. At the highest level, Bunn captures Sinestro’s patented arrogance without forgetting the emotional wringer Sinestro has been through over the past few years with his flip-flop of sides and strained relationship with his daughter.

As I said, Sinestro is in exile. He uses this jungle landscape to lament his time with the Green Lanterns, the loss of Yellow Lantern leadership and even his grave decision to let Parallax take over his being during the First Lantern conflict. The one thing he doesn’t seemed concerned with is whether his ring will ever charge again--that is, until the Yellow Lantern lorekeeper Lyssa Drak shows up.

Probably my favorite character in this issue, Lyssa is no longer just a lorekeeper; she has become lore herself. Like the One Ring, Lyssa’s skin now burns with searing hot white words (including an ultra-creepy panel where they dance across her tongue). Upset at Arkillo’s mismanagement of the Yellow Corps, especially his penchant for passing out rings more willy-nilly than an Amway “manager” hires new “employees.”

Unfortunately, Sinestro won’t budge, with his care for the Yellow Corps as forgotten as his allegiance to the Green Lanterns. Then Lyssa pulls her trump card; apparently there are still denizens of Korugar alive in the universe. With this burning genetic imperative, Sinestro uses Lyssa to juice up on fear, and he is off to save his people…all five of them. Well, make that six, once Sinestro ends up in the new Yellow Lantern home base and finds Arkillo has taken Soranik hostage.

There’s not a lot more to say about this starting issue. Eaglesham does a bang-up job on art, and Bunn is certainly the right writer for the job. Again, as someone who reads a lot of DC titles I would have liked to have seen this book shelved until after the close of FOREVER EVIL, or at least seen a flashback on why Sinestro went from savior of Earth to recluse, but that’s my baggage. The days of waterfall storytelling seem to be behind us, and we can either accept that or bitch about it. Personally, I’ll reward good stories and let the larger questions fall by the wayside.

Optimous Douche has successfully blackmailed BottleImp to draw purty pictures for his graphic novel AVERAGE JOE coming out in 2013 from COM.X. When not on Ain’t It Cool, Optimous can be found talking comics and marketing on robpatey.com and just marketing on MaaS360.com.


THE AUTEUR #2

Writer: Rick Spears
Artist: James Callahan
Publisher: Oni Press
Reviewer: Lyzard


If you randomly picked up a copy of THE AUTEUR #2 at your local comic book shop, what would you expect? Well, if you knew what auteur meant you’d know the comic would probably have something to do with film, but the only filmic reference on the cover is a Godzilla-esque monster storming a city…dressed as Lady Justice. Re-read that last part again: a Godzilla-esque monster storming a city dressed as Lady Justice. If the first thought that came to your mind was WTF, be prepared to re-think that a lot.

It isn’t til about 10 pages in that you finally understand the whole Lady Justice get-up. As for the costume being on a giant lizard, my guess is that illustrator James Callahan was given free rein to do whatever the hell he wanted. I think that about summarizes THE AUTEUR as a whole. Oni Press, for some reason unbeknownst to me, trusted in the illustrator and writer, Rick Spears. Don’t get me wrong, what they turn out is great, but THE AUTEUR easily could have been over-garnished garbage.

Last we saw Nathan T. Rex from Hollywood, he was in the middle of a creative crisis. His attempts to produce a raw, balls to the walls, horror film was lacking in inspiration. His solution? Get a real serial killer as a consultant. So who does he find in issue #2? Darwin, a serial killer who left eighty bodies in his wake over a five year period. Currently incarcerated in Santa Carla Correctional Facility, it is up to Rex to free this maniac. But Rex is about as good at being a lawyer as he is a producer, and seems oblivious to the fact that Darwin is incapable of leaving his past behavior behind.

The issue is parts “Law & Order: SVU”, TMZ, and torture porn, tossed in a blender and forced down your throat like some messed up fraternity initiation. Just when you think things can’t get worse, can’t get more gruesome, can’t get more outrageous, out of the sicko creators’ minds (I am sure they are really nice people in real life) come some new level of absurdity.

And this is all great. The comic may not be cautionary enough, saying that “the shocking scenes you are about to see are not suggested for the weak or immature.” I’d probably add another page in with a warning that says “seriously, if you would deem yourself a well-balanced person, do not read on”. THE AUTEUR appeals to the disturbed individual hiding within some of us.

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."


IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON #1

Writer: Kaare Kyle Andrews
Artist: Kaare Kyle Andrews
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: The Kid Marvel


Danny Rand is back in his own Iron Fist title within the Marvel NOW! brand in IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON #1. As the book begins, Danny is being interviewed by a journalist named Brenda, with the book right away shedding some light on Danny’s past and origins, for those who may lack the knowledge on Iron Fist’s beginnings.

As Danny revisits his past, writer and book artist Kaare Kyle Andrews switches between a style that resembles that of 70s comics for the flashbacks to the present, which displays a highly free flowing and dynamic design, switching back and forth regularly between the two styles and story of past and present seamlessly throughout the book.

During the interview, Danny’s facial expression does not change for essentially half the comic. Danny remains emotionless, while everyone around him is changing and is displayed in over the top emotions, with Andrews really trying to emphasize the loneliness of Danny. Throughout the comic Danny is shown as being unattached, deep in thought and overall showing very little interest in anything other than his mental struggles, even forgetting Brenda’s name the entire issue. This detachment is highlighted extensively by Andrews, using Brenda interviewing Danny as constantly being bubbly, talkative, drunk and a very in your face personality, in order to really emphasize this struggle.

After moving through flashbacks and Danny’s internal dialogue on what seems essentially like an existential crisis, Iron Fist is then attacked by a large horde of ninja and summoned back to K’un Lun by a small girl, setting up the rest of the “Rage” arc.

Overall, I thought this book was amazing, from writing and story to the art in every fashion. However, I know fellow AICN @$$hole Humphrey Lee disagrees with me on the book, and from what I gather hates it. I will say this may seem like a hit or miss book depending on your tastes.

I will agree that some may be turned off by the slightly emo vibe IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON 1 gives, but I found it to be a good piece of yin and yang to the other characters, in the way I thought Andrews was trying to portray. I felt like the book was trying to capture the mind of a warrior and the somewhat tedious aspects that someone of his high skill level typically deals with. I think most people don’t realize the amount of almost factory-like work being a high level athlete, combat sports participant, or martial artist actually does, having to endure routine after routine to fine tune ones’ skills to near perfection.

I also liked the that Andrews tried to portray Danny being this lone warrior or wandering soldier, reminding himself of what makes him who he is and trying to find meaning within this. The same for Danny’s origins as Iron Fist, at least in this issue, really tried to display what forged this human weapon and what drives him.

As for the art, I thought it was spectacular and worked with the story perfectly. The old school 70’s design in the flashbacks were such a great touch, and the in-your-face art for the present worked beautifully as a gritty martial arts story. The action was excellent, really capturing a kung fu genre movie into comic form. I was honestly impressed with how neatly and aesthetically well this book was drawn and colored. The cover for the book is also pretty fricking boss, too.

Again, as I stated early, I know some may not like the book while I loved it, so this could be hit or miss depending on who you are. It seems you’ll either love it or hate it, but my pooling statistics are only two people, so that may not be the best way to assume results on the quality of the book for others. My only complaint is I hope the future issues won’t focus on the dark, emo-like aspects and mix it up later on. I guess that isn’t really as much of a complaint as it’s a preference for the book’s direction.

Overall, I am super excited for what is in the future for IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON and what the book will entail. I highly recommend checking this book out, and see it being a great book in the Marvel NOW catalog, with a lot of potential and already starting off extremely strong.


THE MERCENARY SEA #3

Writers: Kel Symons
Artists: Mathew Reynolds
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: MajinFu


Have you seen the original version of KING KONG? It’s the BEST!

First released in 1933, the film is an exercise in perfect pacing to produce maximum cinematic impact. Everybody remembers the iconic scene of Kong battling the airplanes from the top of the Empire State Building as he clutches little Ann Darrow, but that only occurs in the last few minutes of the movie. Segmented into three acts, King Kong was unafraid to spend the first third of the movie totally apart from Skull Island, so by the time the crew arrives, you’ve already built up this ominous idea about how gruesome the place is going to be.

THE MERCENARY SEA (TMS) shares a lot of sentiment with such classic cinema. Instead of hurling the reader headlong from one big action set piece into another, it takes its time teasing out future yarns like “Koji Ra Island”, prolonging any sort of bombast in favor of quieter character-building moments that not only help to ground the narrative, but get the reader more involved. Sharing such restraint with such a splendid time for cinema helps to distinguish TMS from the rest and just makes it a better read in general.

This issue picks up with the crew of the Venture submarine en route to rendezvous with an undercover agent codenamed Top Hat who is now trapped behind enemy lines. They are accompanied by a British Intelligence agent, Commander Graham, posing as a Royal Navy officer who actually has hardly any maritime knowledge to seem believable. You would think an undercover agent could have done some research to help blend in, but he sticks out like a sore thumb, failing even to refer to their submarine as a “boat” instead of a “ship.” So he’s clearly a fake, and the narrative goes as far as outright telling you on the first page. It would have been nice to give Mr. Graham more benefit of the doubt, but I get a feeling this reveal is made clear to make room for less obvious avenues for tension building later in the narrative.

The most prominent criticism I can offer to the creators of TMS is that it draws so clearly from familiar tropes that some of the suspense may be lost on readers who have seen this type of story before. Cary Grant look-alike Skipper Jack subscribes so strictly to the typical pulpy protagonist blueprint, right down to the square jaw and predisposition towards the next paid job, I can only hope we see this character evolve a great deal further as the journey continues. He of course hides his heart of gold behind a profit-seeking demeanor, but this again is not new. Still, there’s a lot to be said for telling a familiar story well, and fortunately the rest of the crew benefits from a variety of tragic origins, but they are still relegated to the background of this issue. It’s too bad we hardly get to see or hear much from them outside of a few quiet character moments in the beginning ( like the panel with islander “Kevin” reading a copy of “The Black Mask”) but I’m sure many fans would love seeing more stuff like the quips from Jarreau in the first issue. Perhaps all in due time...

While the plot is somewhat formulaic, the art is highly serviceable to the story, with an evocative color scheme and virtually cinematic layouts. At first Mathew Reynolds’ work reminded me of a very clean Frazer Irving, but now it very much sits in a unique place in my mind. I love how many of the backgrounds are layered with different levels of opacity to give the imagery depth, a quality that is more than welcome in such a seafaring comic. I’ve said this before, but the fact that this reads like a motion comic (only without the stilted animation) is really a testament to the quality and flow of the visuals. TMS really looks better than some B-movies I’ve enjoyed, and believe me that’s a huge compliment.

In today’s hustle and bustle world of immediate gratification, a book that’s unafraid to take its time is always welcome. At first I was reading TMS with the express promise of seeing Jack and friends step onto Koji Ra Island, but now I’m simply happy to see what the crew of the Venture is doing next. I like this book because I like the stuff that inspired its story, but what I’d really love to see is THE MERCENARY SEA take bold steps into a more creative direction. Anything that makes you want to seek out and watch ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS can’t be all that bad, but while being content to sit in comfortable familiarity is fine for a bit I’m really looking forward to seeing the Venture crew explore uncharted territory.


Indie Jones Presents!

TWISTED DARK VOL. 4

Writer: Neil Gibson
Artists: Jake Elphick, Leonardo Gonzalez, Caspar Wijngaard, Atula Siriwardane, Jim Terry, Seb Antoniou, Erol Debris, Novian Rivai
Publisher: Tpub
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


Each time I dip back into Neil Gibson’s deep dark well of morose vignettes I feel like a piece of my soul dies with every turn of the page. That’s OK; this is horror, after all. If you feel good about life afterwards the creators did something wrong. However, I’ve noticed an evolution in the TWISTED DARK series over time. What started in VOLUME 1 as clever stories of madness and mayhem with definitive “Twilight Zone” twists at the end have evolved volume over volume into far more “dark” instead of “twisted.”

I don’t fault Gibson; it’s not easy to turn expectations in ten pages or less. I was flabbergasted when he was able to surprise me with every twist and turn in each dark vignette in the first three volumes without dipping into other writers’ creations to do so. TWISTED DARK VOLUME 4 keeps that same originality, but I can’t tell a lie--something has been lost in this volume. As I read through the stories of Catholic retribution, slaughterhouse fun time and a few other dastardly tales I saw the ending coming each time.

What Gibson has not lost is his stark examination of humanity’s underbelly. Gibson still takes exact facts at the opening of each tale, like schooling us on the babysitter movement as we moved out of cities and started to hand our children over to other children in the “dream’” called suburbia, or his examination of the pack mentality in animals and ourselves, or how karma is a fallacy.

Gibson allows us to know each of his characters before he puts them through the proverbial wringer. It’s a feat some writers can’t accomplish in multiple issues, much less just a few pages. When a young man seeks retribution against his abusers in the Catholic Church, I knew how the story was going to end, but I was still fascinated by the journey. Likewise when power shifts in a drug cartel, I knew who would end up on top, yet I was still fascinated how Gibson got us there. Even a tale about a young woman plagued by nightmares kept me riveted in the dynamic between her psychosis and her bitchy roommates’ reactions.

Another part of the TWISTED DARK allure is the pragmatic publishing model. As someone who has been trying to get a graphic novel published for the past two years because I heaped a shit ton of work on one artist, Neil’s choice to pick different artists for each vignette is tonally appropriate and pretty fucking expedient. Some of the art moved me more than others, but not one piece was rushed or bad in any way. Also, Gibson authors each beat so that three panels of a simmering cup of coffee is beautiful and fascinating.

In the end analysis, I believe new readers will be surprised by the end of each story. I’ve learned the TWISTED DARK shtick at this point, so I’m no longer just a passive reader, but a story sleuth. I’m also tainted by Neil’s narrative serial work in his book TABATHA. This 4 issue story of a pornographic Pinocchio gave me more time with villains and heroes alike, making the end of the series the same kick in the nads I got when I read TWISTED DARK VOLUME 1.

I want more long form stories from Gibson, perhaps even an ongoing series, but I will always gladly dip back into TWISTED DARK even if the twist is simply the fact humanity is rife with dark corners.


GHOST RIDER #2

Writer: Felipe Smith
Art: Tradd Moore
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


One of the best books to come out of this whole new ALL NEW phase of Marvel Comics recently is Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore’s GHOST RIDER. Ghost Rider is a property that has always been more of a cool look than a good read. Sure, there are some nice classic stories here and there with Johnny Blaze, and I dug quite a bit of the early 90’s Danny Ketch era stories. But for the most part, Ghost Rider’s best asset is the fact that he looks so damn cool. Since a cool look only satisfies attention spans for so long, I believe that’s the main reason why the character can’t really sustain a lengthy series and desires so many reboots as well as why his two previous attempts at movies have been so abysmally bad. Sure, the CG effects look great as do the pinups in the comics, but storywise, it’s been the same old dance with the devil routine that gathered dust long ago.

That’s why I’m so impressed with this ALL NEW GHOST RIDER series, as it not only looks amazing, but it also introduces us to a character in Robbie Reyes who is instantly likable and downright heroic even before his head gets emblazoned and his wheels follow suit. In issue one, we see Robbie is in a dire situation—a good kid in a bad side of town, surrounded by crime and gangs, and responsible for the caring of his developmentally delayed younger brother. Robbie doesn’t need to be bitten by a radioactive spider or have his family killed or even nobly save a slacker from a gamma bomb testing field. He already shows heroism in not only striving for something good in his life for him and his brother, but also acting on it, as he does in issue one when he leaps without hesitancy into an unwinnable situation when bullies attack his little bro. So right off the bad, we know Robbie is a good egg. But he’s also a smart one as he leaps at an opportunity to take part in a street race for big money and by happenstance lifts the wrong hot rod from the garage where he works to race in it. By the end of issue one, we realize that this is no ordinary hot rod, it’s one possessed by some kind of Spirit of Vengeance and though he might not know it yet, Robbie Reyes has become the next Ghost Rider.

Having successfully made Robbie a likable character, writer Felipe Smith has already won me over on this book. Now, it’s not just an eyeball-less flaming skull that we are dealing with, but a character with likable traits and responsibilities. So even though he’s barreling down the highway, performing car-fu and breaking legs and taking names outside of his car, this Ghost Rider is someone we can root for. Sure, there’s a nostalgic sense of commitment we all have to Johnny Blaze and even Dan Ketch for that matter, but we didn’t really get to know them before their burden of the flaming skull. Writer Felipe Smith has done the impossible by allowing the reader to get to know Robbie Reyes before he becomes the skull. In very few pages, I understood and felt for the character, all due to Smith’s strong character writing.

In issue two, Robbie wakes up from the events of the previous night foggy and unclear. Though everything seems unchanged around him, Robbie is seeing things as if for the first time. Trying to get to the bottom of it, Robbie makes his way back to the garage and goes on another flaming spirited ride in the car, giving us another memorable bit of action and smoking justice. Is this the same Spirit of Vengeance that haunts Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch? Why does the Spirit inhabit a car this time instead of a horse or a motorcycle as it has in the past? How is Robbie going to keep being Ghost Rider if the possessed car doesn’t even belong to him? None of these answers are in this issue, but I’m hooked on this book to find out.

I left my acknowledgement of the art until the last because while it is phenomenal, it seems like GHOST RIDER has always been a place to go for cool imagery. Texiera and Saltares’ GR in Tradd Moore is allowed to let loose with a full-on kinetic assault of bold motion lines and spectacular panels. When the Rider is racing, the panel practically grabs a hold of your eyes and yanks you into the passenger seat. Moore does a fantastic job with the static details of the non-Ghost Rider scenes, but once the action starts moving, this book takes you places few comics dare to drive. The swirls of the flames, sparks from the engine, smoke from the tires, and simple blur of the images make this one of the most visually bombastic comics on the shelves today.

While I’m used to a GHOST RIDER comic being visually pleasing, I’m not used to it being such a satisfying read. This book is the full package. Felipe Smith writes a likable character, but knows enough to not block out too much of the panel so Tradd Moore can dazzle us with panels you will swear are moving right in front of your eyes. While MOON KNIGHT is definitely a book that will have legs as long as Ellis lends them, GHOST RIDER is the best new comic on Marvel’s new slate in terms of images and text. Check it out now while everyone else is clamoring for the other unneeded ALL NEW titles.

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 13 years & AICN HORROR for 4. Mark’s written THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, DEATHSPORT GAMES, NANNY & HANK (soon to be an Uptown 6 Films feature film), Zenescope’s GRIMM FAIRY TALES Vol.13, UNLEASHED: WEREWOLVES, and the critically acclaimed THE JUNGLE BOOK and its follow up THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES. FAMOUS MONSTERS’ LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (co-written with Martin Fisher) will be available soon in trade. Mark wrote/provided art for a chapter in Black Mask Studios’ OCCUPY COMICS. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.


FLASH GORDON #1

Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Evan Shaner
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man


Well, it was nearly two years ago when Dynamite decided to put their first Flash Gordon series to bed. FLASH GORDON: ZEITGEIST was a 1930's period piece powered by Alex Ross in plot, covers and designs. This time around Dynamite doesn't have quite the star power with Jeff Parker and Evan Shaner, and they are updating the story to the present.

First off, let me say as a long time Flash Gordon fan I can't believe once again we are going to sit through the set-up of Flash, Dale and Zarkov landing on Mongo and meeting its ruler, Ming the Merciless. Kind of like a Marvel movie reboot--do you really have to tell the origin story again?! While I'm sure there are people out there who have no idea who Flash Gordon is, chances are they aren't going to be buying this comic. I imagine most buyers are fans, or at least have passing knowledge of the character; if not that, at least access to Wikipedia.org. Seriously, if I was ever lucky enough to write a Flash Gordon series, I would have started out with the laser, 8 o'clock day one!-zap- (Sorry, TIME BANDITS joke, couldn't stop myself), or rather I would just start with another adventure of Flash and the gang. Save the origin story for an annual or something if the series is successful and people want it. To be fair, though, Parker is changing up the story a bit.

One, Parker is somewhat aware of the well-worn Flash Gordon set-up, so he's employing flashbacks and a jump into the middle of the action set piece to keep the issue inventive. Two, he's changed the geography of Mongo so that the other kingdoms are now actually planets (Prince Barin rules the forest planet, Vultan the hawk planet, etc, etc). This is to beef up the whole concept of Ming the Merciless, Emperor of the Universe--not a bad idea. Finally, three: Parker has moved the story into modern day. Yet unlike that SyFy TV series, it's not amazingly cheap and dull. Still, Parker can't help but fall into typical set-up issue traps--brief pages defining characters in the simplest of forms: Dale Arden, spunky jaded reporter; Flash Gordon, daredevil with responsible issues; Hans Zarkov, the hardy mad scientist; Ming the Merciless, merciless bad guy. Why can't characters just reveal themselves in a story, as opposed to having cute two page scenes defining who they are first?

Again, in kind of a reversal of FLASH GORDON: ZEITGEIST, artist Evan Shaner goes for a simpler look than Daniel Indro (guided by Alex Ross)'s hyper detail and rendering. Shaner’s storytelling is well done, but I do find his style a bit boring, as he is from the school of Frank Robbins and Milton Caniff. They illustrate really well, but they don't make interesting drawings (like, say, Matt Wagner or Steve Rude). But that of course is more my personal opinion, so feel free to disregard it. But as a reductionist, I hope Parker doesn't give Shaner too many more double page beauty shots like the one of an Arboria forest in this issue. It's just not Shaner's strength, like character fill moments--see page two, with Zarkov at the bar (nice page).

In the end, despite some good work by Parker and Shaner, I'm inclined to skip this first story arc. Even with the updates it doesn't really seem to offer a long-time reader like myself much. But I am interested to check back with FLASH GORDON once the set-up is complete to see where Parker plans to take the book.









SHUTTER #1

Writer: Joe Keatinge
Artist: Leila Del Duca
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee


One thing I absolutely hate, both as a seller of and as a person who wants to be sold on a piece of media/art, is when something is boiled down to a like comparison. “It’s like ‘Godzilla’ meets ‘My Little Pony’.” “It’s ‘Sid and Nancy’ but if they were hipsters.” “It’s this generation’s ‘Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People’!” and so on. It’s an easy out and it puts things into boxes, usually either too neatly or unfairly. And I especially dislike this tendency when it comes to comic books because, as I’ve stated many a time before, I feel like comics more than any medium are capable of being anything they want to be. So the solicit to SHUTTER tells me it’s “Indiana Jones for the 21st Century” and, what the hell, I bite because sometimes I’m a hypocrite, but most times I just like to try a solid chunk of the Image number ones these day because I feel like they have a high hit rate. Now that I’ve finally read this SHUTTER debut, I’m back to that frustration that comes with seeing a piece of work limit itself to such an eye catching, pop cultural line, and that ends up being compounded and mitigated by this book being highly representative of that whole “comics being anything they want to be” spiel.

The comparison is highly apt, sure, that of referencing Harrison Ford’s most recognizable non-scoundrel role. Long and short, the premise of SHUTTER revolves around Kate Kristopher, an adventurous young lady from what looks to be a long line of adventurous people. Like the iconic fedora wearer, Kate had a relationship with her father that was very influential on her life, though as we see in flashbacks throughout this issue hers was a much more vigorous time with her father than Indy’s brazenness shown to try and impress his oddly accented gene donor. Also, we’re a little beyond Indy’s trinkets and ancient lore when it comes to the prizes being played for with Kate and her father and, I assume, a good bit of the rest of the lineage. We’re talking gallivanting on the moon, unicorns, krakens, and on and on. It’s all very endearing and lively and taps into that all encompassing vibe that I very much would like to see continually be pushed both in the medium and now this particular comic.

Outside of these flashbacks the story centers on Kate’s adult life, which appears to be somewhat more subdued as it’s inferred she’s now an author more interested in writing about adventurous tales than living them out--except in this case “ordinary” still involves being surrounded with much of the fantastical, including sentient cat clocks, a population fully integrated with some of the standard fantastical affair (minotaurs, lizardy folk, etc.) and lord knows what else. SHUTTER loves its whimsy, and I have to admit, though the issue itself flies by very briefly, I was somewhat enamored with its indulgence in the extraordinary. I love seeing a book letting you know right off the bat that anything you imagine is fair game, and that we’re going to go exploring together--especially when you get an ending such as this issue’s, with weird, ethereal ninja dudes and what looks like a steampunk version of the Monopoly man, and yeah. Even though it’s not so much a part of her life now, apparently craziness is drawn to Kate and her bloodline, and who would want it any other way, right?

There’s a case of missing time that’s in play here as well as the high fantasy hijinks, and that is also very welcome as a means to keep the story grounded. Half the issue is spent reiterating to us that the Kristophers are an actioneering lot, so what happened to her father between her seventh and twenty-seventh birthdays that pulled her out of a game she was born and bred to play? It builds a good bit of anticipation toward an overarching storyline – which I always like to see tie around the grand adventures – but it’s also filled with some dread, as obviously whatever happened took Kate’s father away from her. So mystery, intrigue, swashbuckling adventure, and exotic locales are the snapshots SHUTTER are capturing for us so far, and I have to admit I’m definitely digging on this hunk of scrapbook.

Oh yeah--it looks really great, too. When you have a book that looks to be high on energy you need to pack an expressive art style, and I think that’s the best one word descriptor I could pick for what Ms. Leila Del Duca turns in here. It’s got that sweet spot of vibrant detail mixed in with a little bit of Saturday morning cartoon embellishment to bring that inner child’s exuberance bubbling up to the surface. It’s perfect because it winds around that innocence where we wanted to be anything and everything - to bring this back around to the lead - and that sets the adventurous tone that I really feel SHUTTER is going to try pretty damn hard to bring to life every month. And I’m hoping that this team continues to pull it off, because this kind of material is always welcome on the shelves and in my pull box as far as I’m concerned. Hopefully it doesn’t decide to confine itself to any other boxes besides that.

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.


DEADPOOL VS CARNAGE #1

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Salva Espin
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: The Kid Marvel


I feel like I’ve become the resident Ain’t It Cool Deadpool expert or reviewer, having almost a third of my reviews in my first year with AICN all being Deadpool related, which should probably earn me title of @$$hole in it of itself. So in the first issue of yet another Deadpool mini-series, Marvel has been pumping this theme out extensively, DEADPOOL VS. CARNAGE is exactly what you’d expect from the title. As soon as you hit page two, Carnage has already viciously killed someone, and by page three alluded to massacring an entire restaurant. The aftermath is being broadcast all over the news, which Deadpool happens to be watching. Wade is quick to change the station to look for more Kat Dennings. However, while flipping through the channels Deadpool believes that the TV is trying to tell him something, with every channel briefly giving a piece of a whole message, in which Wade believes he’s being told to kill Carnage and is the only person crazy enough to actually do it, setting up the rest of the book perfectly.

Overall, I was completely satisfied with the entire book (that’s what she said?). From the very beginning, Bunn lays out exactly what the book is going to be: violence between two insane individuals and comedic characters, with Carnage clearly being the darker of the two. Wade’s lack of mental togetherness is highlighted extensively by Bunn, using his entire method of tracking Carnage literally using his insanity to do so. Deadpool for the majority of the book is tracking Carnage using metaphors or signs from the universe to track his fellow madmen. Cletus doesn’t get a lot of time in DEADPOOL VS. CARNAGE; most of the focus is on Deadpool and his adventure finding him, with the two finally fighting towards the end of the book, courtesy of Deadpool launching an RPG at an unsuspecting Carnage. Another nice touch I liked was the use of tropes hidden throughout the book, with a lot of fourth wall breaking in both the writing and the art.

Which will lead me into Salva Espin’s artwork, and it is phenomenal, utilizing a great mix of cartoony designs and scenarios without downgrading the action. Everything going on is brightly colored and designed to be comedic while still providing a lot of wholesome violence. Colorist Veronica Gandini got to use a lot of red, besides the costumes of our two protagonists, doing an overall excellent job throughout the book.

I don’t have a lot to say about the book, because it has a pretty simple premise, nothing to complain about and was just an overall fun read. I was very happy with what Bunn produced. If you’re a Deadpool fan, this book is worth your time. If you like Cullen Bunn’s writing or Salva Espin’s art, both do an excellent job and it’s worth the 3.99. And if you just like a good book or an entertaining story premise and what looks to be a great miniseries, check this book out--it’s definitely recommended.


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

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