Comics

AICN COMICS Reviews: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN! GODZILLA! DC’s FUTURE’S END! ANDRE THE GIANT! X-FILES Season 10! & More!

Published at: May 7, 2014, 12:18 a.m. CST by ambush bug

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

Advance Review: FUTURE’S END #1
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1
VWARS #1
Advance Review: GODZILLA – AWAKENING ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL
UNCANNY AVENGERS ANNUAL #1
SOUTHERN BASTARDS #1
Advance Review: ANDRE THE GIANT: LIFE AND LEGEND ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL
WHAT IF? AGE OF ULTRON #1-5
THE X-FILES: SEASON 10 #11
Advance Review: TODD: THE UGLIEST KID ON EARTH V.2


Advance Review: In stores today!

FUTURES END #1

Writers: Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens, Jeff Lemire
Artist: Patrick Zircher
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


FUTURES END is easily dissected into three parts: one part a good yarn, one part a bigger D-list gathering than Lindsey Lohan’s last birthday and one part exquisite schadenfreude.

The good yarn part comes simply from the premise, but it wasn’t hard to win me over since I’m an unabashed alternate anything whore. Picking up from the free comic book day #0 issue, Terry McGuiness--Batman Beyond--ends up 7 years after tomorrow. The only problem is that he was supposed to travel back to a time much earlier to thwart the creation of Brother Eye by Mister Terrific.

For any one who missed #0, a brief recap: see, way far in the future, Brother Eye has gone out of control…again…and assimilated all of the Earth’s heroes into his mecha spider-leg collective. To stop this, Bruce Wayne was supposed to send his elderly ass back to our present. The problem is that the man has had more joint replacements than the prop table in a Cheech and Chong flick and easily succumbs to Brother Eye’s invasion of the Bat-Cave. Terry, weighing less than Bruce, hops in the time machine, but his lack of ballast lands him in a time when Brother Eye has already won.

The D-list gathering is, essentially, the death, dismemberment and disenchantment of every hero festering on the bottom rung of the sales charts. No one is safe, as a neophyte in consciousness Eye begins to rip the DC universe asunder. StormWatch, which I faithfully stayed with much longer than I should have, is blown to smithereens. Green Arrow gets smashed and Firestorm is such a ball of self loathing it’s amazing he can fly without crying uncontrollably. One might think I’m not a fan of this book with this description, but here’s where the schadenfreude kicks in.

I have been pissed beyond belief at the mishandling of StormWatch and Green Arrow since their New 52 relaunch. I predicted way back then that a pastiche of the Justice League would never work in the same universe as Justice League. Also, the watering down of personalities to make the team family friendly would be a mistake of tragic proportions. Green Arrow is a different story; he simply was not my Oliver Queen. A wee bit too petulant, and frankly just another rich guy with too much time on his hands.

There’s another “who gives a shit” character in the form of Grifter, who is going around popping caps in the “infected.” Until we know what these people are infected with he simply comes across as a monster, as he shoots down an entire family. Since I’ve never cared about Grifter, this loss of “character” is really not a loss at all.

Terry McGuiness saves this for me, as does the time travel, but I fear DC might be painting themselves into the same corner as they did with the “five years before” or the worse sin of creating a toothless tiger. There’s only two scenarios that can play out from this:
1) These events are factual and seven years from now all of our heroes have completely given up on heroics. This doesn’t spell good tidings for the October Previews 2021 edition.

2) No timeline is written in stone, in which case the end of FUTURES END will simply be washed away, giving the series the universal resonance of a note sung by Helen Keller.

Now, we’ve been promised a changing of the DC universe forever from this event. But if we look at another FOREVER that has gone on forever, the same promises were made and we still haven’t seen a huge impact. Even though issue 7 of FOREVER EVIL has yet to drop, meticulous scheduling has already shown us the fallout from the Crime Syndicate’s rampage, and it left me, at least, with the overwhelming feeling of “meh”.

FUTURES END is giving me what I want issue by issue, so that is where I will leave my cognitive interest. If I think of the bigger picture, my mind simply strokes out on the endgame.

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.


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1

Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Humberto Ramos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: KletusCassidy


Am I wearing Spider-Man boxers? Yes. Am I also wearing a Spider-Man pocket tee? Yes. Have I had an intense two-day cold which resulted in me having a 102 degree fever? Also yes. What does this have to do with anything you say?

Well, I was excited enough about AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 to wear my spider-gear, and not even a cold sweat-inducing fever was going to keep me from getting this book on the day it came out. Spider-Man is and always will be my favorite superhero, and even through the rough times I’m sticking with him. Much like a Cleveland Browns fan who knows their team will never win the Superbowl but shows up hopeful every Sunday with those silly dog ears on, I’ll be right there every Wednesday hoping for the best Spidey I can get. That being said, I wasn’t a big fan of Ol’ Otto and Pete switching brains, but I also wasn’t pissed about it, either…I said to myself, “I ain’t happy, but I’ll peek in on SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN from time to time to see what’s going on”. For my money, SUPERIOR TEAM-UP was where it was at. I thought it not only did a better job of showcasing why Peter was a better hero, but it also gave us a look at what it means to be a hero, reflected through the prism of Marvel’s best characters (see the Thor issue). In my opinion, SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN had a pretty good ending, but I was ready to have my boy Peter back in the red and blues, thus bringing us to this review.

In this issue we find Peter post-Otto brain trying to get a grip on the wild aftermath his life was left in. If you’ve been following SUPERIOR, you know there’s a myriad of things in Peter’s life which need to be dealt with before Peter can just go back to living a…well…somewhat normal life for a man who dresses like a spider and fights crime. I like Slott writing Spidey—really, I do. I don’t think his run is as good as Straczynski’s, but it’s definitely entertaining and the stories are interesting enough to keep me coming back each month. Slott is great about juggling multiple plot threads, which makes for a very fast-paced comic with plenty of gears moving, and this issue is no different. This book feels as though it’s the next issue of SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN, which depending who you are could be a good or a bad thing.

If you love what Dan Slott has been doing then you’ll be just fine, but if you were hoping for a new direction with a new feeling than you probably won’t enjoy this book as much. Let me explain: a lot of the MARVEL NOW stuff has had a new direction than the comic was going in before, and in this book it’s really just a direct continuation from SUPERIOR. In DAREDEVIL the status quo was changed--he’s in a different city, he’s not working with Foggy, his secret identity is definitely out in the open now and accepted. It just feels fresh, while this book…well, doesn’t. I would have preferred a story that puts Peter Parker in a FUGITIVE-type scenario, where he has to go on the run and to try to prove that Doc Ock was actually responsible for the crappy things Spider-Man did over the past few months while the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. are hot on his heels--really just something different to mix it up a bit.

Humberto Ramos is a very talented artist, but his style just isn’t my cup of tea. Calling his art cartoony doesn’t seem like the right term, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind. After having Ramos on the book for so long, I again would have preferred a new look with the art as well. Ramos’ art looks as good as it did before, if not better, but once the action really starts going sometimes it can be hard to tell what’s going on. Since this book is dealing with the aftermath of a very traumatic experience in Peter’s life, I feel like the art should have been done by someone like Michael Lark or Steve Epting just to give the book a little more mood, but with Ramos’ art everything feels a little light for a guy who just got his life back only to find it in shambles.

I hope I haven’t come off as too harsh on this book ,because it really wasn’t bad at all. Slott has a great voice for Spidey, and you can tell he loves throwing the fans nods to classic Spider-Man stories. I just wish this book felt a little more fresh like the rest of the MARVEL NOW books. There’s a lot of aftermath to wade through, so I’m sure there will be stories a plenty to tell from this somewhat precarious new pickle Peter Parker is placed in. Humberto Ramos is a fine artist, but his style just doesn’t tickle my fancy, and if there’s one thing you know about Ol’ Kletus is that he likes his fancy tickled…especially after a warm bubble bath, and Lady Kletus is…ahem…where was I? I just would have preferred a new art style that better fit the feeling of the book. All the back up stories were good and did a great job of tying into the main story as well as fleshing out Spidey’s world. If you are looking for something new with Spider-Man you may not find it here, but if you like what Slott and Ramos have done with Spidey in the past, then you won’t be disappointed.


VWARS #1

Writer: Jonathan Maberry
Artist: Alan Robinson
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth


Adapted from the anthology book of the same name, VWARS is the account of a global outbreak that turns ordinary folk into bloodsuckers. A war for survival between the human race and this new species is inevitable--or is it?

Ever since I read the novel PATIENT ZERO I’ve been a fan of Jon Mayberry’s work. He continually impresses me with his talent for crafting innovative takes on familiar themes. Sure enough, big Jon brings his uniqueness to the table with VWARS, even if one can’t help but notice the similarities to concepts like THE WALKING DEAD and WORLD WAR Z.

VWARS #1 mercilessly throws you right into the center of the outbreak through the eyes of Professor Luther Swann. Swann’s the leading expert on bloodsuckers, with the strong conviction that vamps and humans can coexist (can’t we all just get along?). After the vampire nation takes credit for an assassination of a prominent politician, Swann is assigned as a liaison to a gung-ho strike team, chomping at the bit to flatline some vampire ass. Things soon get complex for the professor when a chance encounter reveals a high-level cover-up may be at the heart of this conflict.

Alan Robinson makes some interesting artistic choices, forgoing the dark tones one would expect considering the subject. Visually VWARS is unusually clean, colorful and easy to follow. The vamps have expressive qualities that suggest that, like humans, they are as much a divided society. Some gore is expected with a book like VWARS, but its use is appropriate and not too abrasive.

As far as first issues go, VWARS #1 does suffer a bit due to likenesses with other recent pandemic plots. I’m not suggesting that VWARS is a rip-off; it’s definitely not. Luckily, its narrative carries just enough novelty to make another issue worth a shot.


Advance Review: In stores this week!

GODZILLA – AWAKENING ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL

Writers: Max Borenstein & Greg Borenstein
Art: Eric Battle
Publisher: Legendary Entertainment
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


I’m really looking forward to the new GODZILLA movie coming out. Having been a fan of the giant monster films (ok, maybe not the last American version, but most of the other ones), I am eager to see what this new film has in store for us. But even though the film still has a few more days before release, I had my appetite satiated a bit with the new original graphic novel from Legendary called GODZILLA – AWAKENING, which ties directly into the film itself.

While the origin of the beast is held back, as well as plot points from the film itself, there are a few things I found interesting about this new graphic novel in terms of story. The film recounts the history of Godzilla, or Gojira as some like to call him, as somewhat of an unlikely protector. It interested me that the story went this route of the giant rampaging monster as more of a natural force for good, rather than just the monster on a mission for squishin’ we saw in the last American version. I like it that this Godzilla is more of a force of nature, created to defend the world from others like him, and if this concept is the same in the film (and I don’t know why it wouldn’t be, since this is the tie in), I think this version of GODZILLA is going to be a lot more special than we all are expecting. It’s more akin to the Japanese sequels to the film, as Gojira battles all of these beasts protecting the city rather than destroying it.

We only see hints of Godzilla through most of the story, but midway through, Godzilla is shown in all his (her?) glory and Eric Battle does a fantastic job of making every panel featuring the monster a monumental one. Forced perspective, worm’s eye views, eagle eye views; all are used extremely well to give this book a widescreen cinematic approach. Seeing glimpses of the amorphous flying monster battling Gojira make me all the more anticipatory of the film.

This book is enough of a glimpse into the world of the film for me. I don’t feel like the book ruined it or spoiled it for me. The writers Borenstein (Max and Greg) do a fantastic job of giving just enough info to make you feel like you’re reading a complete story, but don’t give so much away as to make you feel like you’ve seen something you shouldn’t have. And if you’re like me, who has avoided tons of spoilers and clips, that’s an aspect I fully appreciate. GODZILLA – AWAKENINGS is available in cooler comic shops near you, and is just enough to make me all the more excited for the film itself.

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 3. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment & GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81. Look for GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES available in February-July 2013 and the new UNLEASHED crossover miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS WEREWOLVES: THE HUNGER #1-3 available in May-July 2013! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.


UNCANNY AVENGERS ANNUAL #1

Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Raul Renaud
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


So when was the last time that the series writer also wrote the annual? I sure can't tell ya, and it's one of the reasons I never buy annuals. If they're not some lame crossover, it's just amateur hour (no offense to the amateurs--I'd gladly take the assignment myself). But here we are: Rick Remender, the guy writing his massive opus in the regular series has actually penned the annual as well.

To sidetrack for a moment, what happened to annuals? These used to be big balls of fun. Often the series regulars who we all loved worked on them, using them to tell stories more about fun and spectacle and filling them with cool pinups by top talent. Nowadays they come off like some kind of obligation publishers have to do. Like the typical college student who now has a mere 24 hours to write a paper they forgot about, in the end, the results are pretty forgettable. On the other hand, I suppose they can be just cash grabs, but the result is the same: sub-par quality. Now, if any of you publishers are actually reading this: annuals--make 'em fun! Give us one crazy story (a battle royale on the moon), lots of pin-ups (heroes, villains, supporting cast), character info (maps of the batcave, etc), maybe even an editorial page written by the creators, talking about how much fun they had this year working on the series. I'd buy something like that every year!

Getting back to this annual (OK, hands up, who thinks I'm about to trash it? Wrong…), it's almost what I want. Seeing that Remender actually wrote it really caught my eye. Renaud's artwork was very nice as well, as was Art Adams’ cover, so I bought it. And while it may lack some of the bells and whistles I mentioned earlier, it was at least one big, crazy, fun, story (I'll bet most of you didn't think Remender had it in him). And no, it's not connect to the massive story he's been telling in the monthly books (is that horse dead yet?).

So what goes down in this issue (spoiler time, folks)? Well Marvel's number one couch potato, Mojo, has decided to capture the Uncanny Avengers (Havok, Captain America, Thor, Scarlet Witch, Rogue, Wolverine, Wasp, Sunfire and Wonder Man) and make them star in some teen angst SAVED BY THE BELL knock-off. It's quite awful, but played for laughs. Their co-stars are the 'Avengers Dark' (Dr. Strange, Man-Thing, Manphibian, Blade, Satana, and Ghost Rider). Things go poorly for Mojo when he learns you can't play make-believe with the otherworldly power that is Ghost Rider. Being a Ghost Rider fan, it was pretty cool to see him just go medieval on Mojo-World.

Now it's been a while since I've seen Paul Renaud's interior work, but he seems to be aping Carlos Pacheco's style a bit. As always, I wish artists would be more themselves, but a good-looking book is a good-looking book, and that's what this is--a good-looking book. The story telling is good and everyone looks great.

Lastly, one cute thing Remender does with this book which is typical for a Mojo story is to critique media and storytelling and tv consumers. But Remender isn't doing this on some moral high ground, as the story folds back onto itself and characters basically review the comic they were just in! This annual is not the typical waste of time, and was a lot of fun. On the Masked Man's scale of CRAP, WEAK, DECENT, GOOD, GREAT- UNCANNY AVENGERS ANNUAL #1 scores a GOOD.









SOUTHERN BASTARDS #1

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Jason Latour
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee


I know what I’m about to put in type in front of you is going to sound vaguely (very, very vaguely I hope) like some sort of “Men’s Rights” manifesto, but I assure you it’s not because, well, fuck those self-important assholes. What I’ve come to really like about Jason Aaron’s writing, at least in his creator-owned jaunts, is that he writes – to boil it down to a term that kind-of-sort-of fits – a “thinking man’s man’s man” type of style. His works have everything a red-blooded male who wishes he could cut loose more than he does could want: stylish violence, moral dilemmas, emotional scarring and breakdowns, more stylish violence, etc. Yeah, in real life I’m just some pussified, godless, liberal pacifist blah blah blah, but I also acknowledge and feel like sometimes tapping a little aggression can be not only exhilarating but therapeutic. I love inspirational and reflective artistic works as much as the next media consumer, but I appreciate a body of work that understands that sometimes a man feels like all he has left before him in this world is to shoot some whiskey and snarl back in its face. And SOUTHERN BASTARDS is showing plenty of teeth.

What we have on our hands here is a tale of a man going home after never having had the intention of going back there. But family is family, and Earl Tubb is going back to take care of the affairs of some of his own. He’s back in a place where he saw his own fair share of shit and had enough of that to haunt him for a lifetime and never wanted to return, but here he stands in Craw County with a box full of his uncle’s stuff and a head full of bad memories. And of course, things haven’t gotten any better since he was last in the area.

Obviously, since this is a debut issue the name of the game is establishment, not only of what I summarized in the past paragraph but also in the tone of the book especially. There’s a lot of “down home” and “sleepy town” syndrome going on in Craw County. All you need to do is look into the backgrounds to figure out that God, Barbeque and Football are big here. Look a little deeper and you’ll see the word “Boss” a lot as well as a bunch of trumped-up little thugs who feel like they own everything, or figure they may as well since they work for the “Boss” who probably does. It’s all very deliberate and well engineered because, let’s be honest, we’ve seen this type of story about the crime-ridden hometown needing cleaned up before, and what needs to be done to sell you on this version of it is showing the reader this version of it knows what the fuck is up. What has this book standing out is the approach and the execution of the creative team, naturally. Writer Jason knows exactly when to keep the words terse and powerful – especially in the flashes of past times with Earl’s deceased father – and when to open up with a rush of information to fill in some town history and the players involved. But it’s the simple parsing of words when they come from Earl that really sets the stage of him being a man who wants to be left alone but you know will be drawn into something dark that also draws us all in as well. It’s in his blood, after all, as we find out in several scenes taking place in front his daddy’s grave that essentially scream “Tubb men don’t back down” and echo those sentiments I laid out in my opening here.

The rest of the walking tall is done by Artist Jason, and his stuff comes as loaded for bear in his line work as Aaron’s wordplay comes loaded by being “bare.” There’s just an inherent intensity in what Latour is laying out there that drives home everything Aaron is going for that I couldn’t be more glad these two gentlemen are teaming up in their respective love/hate relationships with growing up in the South and this tribute/”holy fuck get the fuck out!” warning about it. Latour’s very stark and scratchy work just swings line drives like Earl’s daddy did with his legendary hunk tree branch every time. Every somber line of remembrance on Earl’s face as he puts away a picture or lock-jawed bit of resolve speaks volumes to what is happening in these sequences, and there’s just an overlaying tense atmosphere that settles in on the book letting you know just how much Earl does not want to be home and how it feels like the whole town is walking on eggshells while a group of apparent sadists keep a little bit of fear in their hearts. This is some of the best gritty yet emotionally resonant artwork I’ve seen since, well, the last time Aaron went on telling one of these tales in the pages of SCALPED.

All of that said, I do want to see a bit more of this book before I immediately line it up for a prestigious @$$ie Award. I want to see more of the history of Craw County and what exactly happened with it and Earl’s daddy that things went the way they did. Obviously we’re going to get that, but I just want to see how far things extend beyond the surface of “man cleans up town.” SCALPED came up with a rich character history between all its “heroes” (if such a word could be used talking about that book) and villains and then wrapped them up in a painful bit of social commentary that made it hands down one of the best comic books we’ve seen this past decade. I have no doubt we’re going to get something similar yet different given this locale and the motivations surrounding Earl, but I want it settling in my hands and teeth (proverbially there, otherwise that’s just awkward) instead of just assuming it’s going to get that red-blooded male in me howling at the moon each month. Who am I kidding, though? These guys obviously have this shit down already, it’s just a matter of my ensuring I have plenty of Knob Creek to knock back as Earl knocks down the Bastards in question. I would highly advise anyone, regardless of gender or temperament, to have themselves a few pulls of SOUTHERN BASTARDS brand spirits as well, because while whiskey is delicious this book promises to have an even sweeter bite. 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.


Advance Review: In stores this week!

ANDRE THE GIANT: LIFE AND LEGEND ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL

Writer/Artist: Box Brown
Publisher: First Second Books
Reviewer: The Dean


You don’t really need to be a wrestling fan to be an Andre the Giant fan. Watching him stand impervious to blows from opponents who weren’t exactly average-sized either was how he became a household name, but with the life he led outside of the ring, be it in movies or in the tall tales we hear from those who spent any length of time with him, it’s hard not to be fascinated by “The Eighth Wonder of the World.” With ANDRE THE GIANT, Box Brown brings several of the stories and legends about Andre together to build a more complete picture of who Andre really was, and Brown doesn’t shy away from some of Andre’s less flattering tales in keeping his take an honest one.

Despite several villainous runs in pro wrestling, Andre tends to be remembered as a charming, avuncular sort of character who was difficult not to love (thanks in no small part to his role in “The Princess Bride”). It’s clear that Brown’s biographical tale is by and large meant as a celebration of Andre and the man he was, but there’s a palpable amount of research that went into this, and picking up an unappealing tale or two along the way was inevitable. Andre’s greatness has been touted by the WWE and longtime fans for years, so it was those less-told stories of Andre being a bit of a jerk that almost make him more endearing, given how well Brown captures just how difficult it was to be a man of his size. There are several scenes depicted here in which Brown captures the frustration and loneliness in Andre’s life in having to either be ostracized or an attraction because of his size and appearance. Think Ben Grimm without Reed, Sue, and Johnny, except Andre can’t shrink down to an average size on his birthday every year.

Brown balances this struggle as Andre did, however, with a great sense of humor. We get a number of pages devoted to his wrestling career, of course, but the selling point for me were the many stories of life outside the ring where we see Andre enjoy the many perks that come with being a man his size. Brown’s art is reminiscent of a slightly less stylized Art Baltazar, and this friendly, appealing look fits the playful and good-hearted man Brown portrays Andre as well, making those scenes such as him starting a raucous brawl for no reason or stubbornly refusing an officer’s request for him to leave a bar seem more cartoonish and mischievous than anything malevolent in nature. An incident in which Andre went too far in making a racist comment gives Andre a great deal of depth and somewhat of a mini character arc, though, as he eventually apologizes and accepts that he was wrong, rather than using his size or making excuses for his personality.

As great a job as Brown does in condensing the life and spirit of Andre into one 232-page graphic novel, there are a few missteps along the way. Brown opens the story using a sit-down interview with Hulk Hogan that puts an unnecessary pro wrestling skew on the book which makes it read, at least at first, as though we’re watching a WWE-produced documentary, which is a disservice to all of the care that went into capturing Andre through the rest of the story. Hogan’s words do encompass the story Brown will be telling well, but opening on the farm in France, which is the subsequent scene, may have been more effective in conveying that Andre was a man before he was a giant. Transitioning from one scene to the next felt somewhat abrupt at times as well, which made it read like more of a collection of shorts at times rather than a single narrative, but ultimately, these are minor complaints in what is otherwise a fantastic graphic novel.

There are plenty of books and documentaries about Andre out there, but Box Brown’s ANDRE THE GIANT: LIFE AND LEGEND might be the most heartfelt and enjoyable of them all. Even for the diehard fan who may have heard it all before, Brown makes excellent use of the comic medium in offering a uniquely drawn depiction of the stories you’ve heard told by the people who knew him, making this one an essential read for comics and wrestling fans.


WHAT IF?: AGE OF ULTRON #1-5

Writer: Joe Keatinge
Art: Various
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy


Robots, Robots Everywhere.

A little while ago I did a review of the WHAT IF AVENGERS VS. X-MEN miniseries, and… well, it wasn't great. Especially towards the end, it got confusing and convoluted and kind of stupid. But I'm a glutton for these kinds of stories, so when it was announced that a new miniseries was spinning out of the fairly lackluster AGE OF ULTRON event I got all excited again.

This time I waited until the entire mini was done to really get into it, and I think I probably made the right choice. The story actually has a solid grounding within the story it's looking at, and manages to be entertaining and unique with each issue, even if the ending is a little off-putting.

The premise behind the miniseries sees a handful of realities directly affected by Wolverine literally stabbing time in the face. Each one feels a sudden shift, and in each of these realities, an Avenger doesn't survive the experience. Joe Keatinge serves as the writer for the entire mini, and he actually makes a strong case for future work at the company, writing a surprisingly varied and deep mini. One issue is a dark, post-apocalyptic tale with the last man on earth walking the ruins, while another is a surprisingly optimistic recounting of what happens if Tony Stark recruits The Punisher as Captain America. The tone is strong throughout (until the final issue, which tries to unite the preceding realities and, for the most part, fails), and remains engaging even when exploring pretty odd character choices (apparently, there exists a reality where Microchip from PUNISHER outlasted the Hulk).

The art is consistently strong and tends to match the artwork in terms of tone. Raffaele Ienco provides dark and moody atmosphere to the post-apocalyptic world of #1 while Ramon Villalobos is just the right mix of lighthearted and worn down to give his reality of retired heroes an appreciated, sluggish movement.

It's actually a pretty strong WHAT IF?, even if you never read the preceding miniseries. It's fun, creative, and if you like WHAT IF, DEFINITELY worth the pick up. I mean, sure, the last issue is scatterbrained, but the rest of the mini is surprisingly good.


THE X-FILES: SEASON 10 #11

Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Matthew Dow Smith
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Masked Man


A funny thing happened on the way to season 10 of THE X-FILES. That's my general feelings towards this series now nearly a year old. After the first story arc (or episode) we got a handful of near fill-in issues. People coming back from the dead, a monster-man, some bugs, and some character history, but nothing that really felt like a full story, like you'd expect from a new season. These were more like short webisodes, to continue the simile. To make matters worse, we still have no idea what happened to Doggett and Reyes after they each ran into trouble about six issues ago. Now with issue eleven, Harris seems to be back to building a full story arc/episode.

Our heroes Mulder and Scully have been sent to Saudi Arabia of all places. They are Uncle Sam's liaison as the Saudi government investigates a terrorist attack on an oil field which has killed and injured Americans, as well as other nationalities. Sounds a little farfetched to me, but ok. Of course things are not as they seem, as the Saudi government spends all their time impeding our two FBI agents and it all seems to be a cover for some kind of fight over the infamous Black Oil. The ever popular Lone Gunmen make an appearance, as does another infamous X-FILES character in the big reveal on the last page. I won't mention who it is, but thankfully the editor Denton J. Tipton (I assume) put the character's name on the page (to tease the next issue) because neither Harris' script or Smith’s art helped me identify the character.

Overall, this is a nice issue and set-up. And while I can't quite buy the reason for the change of location, it is a nice break from the usual. It also gives the X-Files mythology a more global scale. Harris (who just to clarify was not a writer on the show), under the watchful eye of Chris Carter, does a good job of creating that X-FILES feel, just as he did with the first big story arc, though, I think he sometimes has them say things a little too adventure movie clichéd at times, and not in line with the low-key wit of the show. But like any good X-FILES episode, this story opens with a lot of questions about what the heck is going on, and with the hope that they will actually explain something.

Artist Matthew Dow Smith comes on for his first issue here. Overall, I'd say he's an improvement compared to the first artist Michael Walsh. Smith's work is more detailed, and his likenesses are far superior. But while both artists are fine and good storytellers, their minimal style doesn't quite fit the show, which was so visually rich. Colorist Jordie Bellaire doesn't help matters by using a very muted palette. It's all rather boring looking, and with every head wrap being a different shade of beige, I often had trouble telling one character from another.

THE X-FILES: SEASON 10 is a real bubble book for me. It's just good enough to keep me coming back, but I'm also looking for any excuse to drop it. Hopefully this new story arc, “Pilgrims”, will continue to grow the positive of the series.


Advance Review: In stores this week!

TODD THE UGLIEST KID ON EARTH VOL. 2

Writer: Ken Kristensen
Artist: M.K. Perker
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


This second volume of TODD goes on easier than a used condom for old and new readers alike. The lambasting of the horrific world around us will resonate immediately for any and all carbon-based life forms. However, if this is your first time with Todd, you should know a few things to avoid comic shock. I hope these warnings will also keep Kristensen out of jail or from being involuntarily committed for at least 24 hours after the book is placed on the shelves.

1) Todd the character isn’t the ugliest kid on earth; we don’t know what this 8-year-old embodiment of innocence actually looks like because he has worn a paper bag on his head since issue 1. Plus, I truly believe there is no child more heinous than Honey Boo Boo in aesthetic or aura.

2) TODD the book is an exercise in wrong. You will feel wrong for laughing at the misery subjected upon Todd from his image-obsessed mother, Bush II Fan Club President father, bastard half-sister, Charlie Rose (yes, that one) and pretty much every other being that crosses Todd’s path. You will also need a Silkwood shower of the soul for laughing at the perpetual misfortune Todd suffers for our enjoyment.

3) Remember the moral here--always remember the moral. Kristensen pushes every taboo hot button imaginable, but there is always the donkey punchline glorifying the stupidity of those around Todd. On the flip side, the few times things go well for Todd are always the result of his paper bag shielding him from becoming one of the horrible people. Todd always does right, and that’s the true point of this book.

80% of TODD could be called a slice-of-life book, which is a travesty given the moral repugnance of every character except Todd. However, I can not tell a lie, I meet a lot more people like the shitbags I mentioned earlier than purely innocent people like Todd. The other 20% is all comic book, and that’s not simply because the book takes us to Comic Con. This time around, Todd also traverses several planes of hell.

Why Comic Con? As John Belushi once said, “Burp…why not?” Actually it’s to solidify that Todd’s father is a moron. Because only a moron would pay an entrance admission and 300% mark-up for an item worn by some actor who was in a TV show that lasted for a season. I also believe we start at SDCC so Kristensen can perform a catharsisgasm all over famed comic book clusterfucks like Quesada announcing MARVEL OLD as the House of Mouse gives up on getting kids to read comic books. Turning the wheelchair of a certain uber geek, who runs a site that rhymes with…taint shits fool jews…into a mecha of massive destruction. And…well there’s more, but to avoid ending up on a TSA watch list I’ll leave you with just the tame examples. So blatant and hilariously cruel are Kristensen’s jabs, it’s certain he’ll never work for another comic company.

While Todd’s dad gets the jock strap he’s looking for from some Bruce Willis-like character, he also procures the table of Charlie Rose. As we all know Charlie, PBS and that fucking interview table are all byproducts of Satan. Kristensen is merely reporting the news, if you think about it. While we all know these truths, what is unbeknownst to us is that the table actually serves as a monorail between here and hell, presumably so PBS always has enough telephone operators for telethons.

Unfortunately for Todd, but fortunate for comedy, his half-sister is sucked inside the table and sent straight to the realm of the dark lord himself. To be specific, she ends up in Satan’s son’s bedroom, where Satan sends all virgins who enter hell in hopes the lad will give up his dreams of becoming a priest.

Things get worse from here, so I’ll end the official review part of this article by saying that Perker is the perfect pencil pusher to propagate the perpetual pummeling Todd receives from life. I generally find comedy books fall short on the art, but Perker has a way of bringing deadpan to life without ever making the page lifeless.

Since TODD finds a way to revel in the art of wrong across every panel, I can say without reservation or fear of pull-quote repurposing: I love TODD so much my dick is covered in paper cuts. If you don’t fear for the fate of your soul, go get your own Costco-size bottle of Neosporin and join the fun.


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

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