Comics

AICN COMICS Reviews: GRAYSON! ORIGINAL SIN! Chaos’ CHASITIY! SOUTHERN BASTARDS! & More!

Published at: July 9, 2014, 9:04 a.m. CST by ambush bug

Logo by Kristian Horn
The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)

Advance Review: GRAYSON #1
SOUTHERN BASTARDS #2
Indie Jones presents FATHER ROBOT #1
BATMAN ‘66/THE GREEN HORNET #2
Indie Jones presents THE WILL OF CAPTAIN CROWN BOOK 1
Advance Review: WARLORD OF MARS #0
ORIGINAL SIN #5
Advance Review: CHASTITY #1
MOON KNIGHT #5
Advance Review: NEW SUICIDE SQUAD #1

Raiders of the Long Box presents JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #195 (1981)


In stores today!

GRAYSON #1

Writers: Tim Seeley & Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


(Writer’s note to editor: If DC can play the, “You don’t know Dick” line in their ads I am allowed the following cathartic release. XOXO Optimous Douche)

The last time we saw Dick he was fully exposed to the world thanks to the Crime Syndicate, flapping about across the media waves. Dick was impotent against the wave of secrets this reveal could unleash. Knowing he needed to hide, Dick severed himself from the body of Batman and Nightwing he once knew to now become, uhhh, Grayson. You don’t know Dick indeed. You don’t know Dick, I don’t know Dick, frankly I’m not sure if anyone knows dick about Dick anywhere, because I think I just read “Jason Bourne: The Early Years”.

To be somewhat fair in the following indictment, Tim Seeley crafts a well done old-fashioned European train action sequence, replete with tight corridors, buxom blondes and the obligatory drunk Russian. Tom King renders a beautiful Southern Russian landscape and a damn fine buxom blonde. On the surface, all is smooth and dandy. The only gaping holes are who is this guy brandishing a gun, using very dangerous hypnotic powers and working for an organization that is more shady than an apple orchard at high noon.

Seriously, Tim’s new boss literally doesn’t have a face. The name of the organization is Spyral, and Tim’s job is to literally bring burgeoning metahumans back to them for “safe-keeping” and “study.” I think the crew in the Mystery Machine would catch on to all this bad mojo quicker than…Grayson!!!!!!

At one point Dick does some acrobatics, which was very Robin/Nightwingy. Then he went back to using the mind powers again in a random fight with Midnighter from STORMWATCH, and I figured it best to just power through to the end before I had a rage stroke.

Look, if you read my reviews, you know I am not a guy who is trapped in amber. Change is good; I fully embrace characters evolving, because frankly, I don’t want to read the same shit over and over again. I’ll even concede when change does not meet my ideal, but at least is a logical path forward for the character.

Do I wish this were a world where Dick was chasing after Starfire babies? You bet your ass I do, but I know that galactic cruiser sailed a long time ago. I just can’t make sense of where this book is needed or wanted. It’s like DC cracked into a focus group comprised of housewives from rural communities between the ages of 37-64. There is no fan alive that I can think of that will condone this direction.

Dick can let Nightwing go, and of course I never want to see him as Robin again. I’m also fine with him never becoming the Bat. I would even condone this new black ops path, were it steeped in some kind of DC history.

GRAYSON #1 will be sure to confuse anyone who hasn’t been reading NIGHTWING, possibly everyone who has been reading NIGHTWING and I believe ret-conned out of existence with a global mind-wipe after the first arc is complete.

Since I rail endlessly against people who complain and offer no solution, I humbly offer the following: “Following the events of FOREVER EVIL, Dick Grayson must now find a world that doesn’t know his name. Watch in suspense as Dick joins the multiverse trying to find a new place he can call home.”

When Optimous isn't reviewing comics he is making the IT words chortle and groan with marketing for MaaS360, enterprise mobility management (link these three words to www.maas360.com). He also has a comic coming out sometime soon; for updates head to robpatey.com.


SOUTHERN BASTARDS #3

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


This, THIS, my friends, is how you write the comic book equivalent of WALKING TALL!

Earl Tubb, son of a sheriff, Vietnam vet and man who hasn’t been home since fucking Gerald Ford was President, has had goddamn enough of what he has seen his hometown become. The corruption and the trumped-up thugs who think they can brutalize and get away with it, plus the ghost and legacy of his father bearing down on him, have led him to no longer give any fucks and throw down the gauntlet (in this case the large chunk of downed tree his father used to keep the miscreants in line in his day) and challenge Coach Boss and his football-loving punks for the soul of the town.

Right here is just the perfect “fuck yeah, shit is no longer going to be taken!” moment that I think at every point someone wants to either write, or live, or both. The ramifications - as we get a hint of at the end of this issue – are going to run deep, but for now the anticipation of where this challenge is going to lead and what Coach Boss’s thugs and Earl are going to do to each other in the next step of their dance is absolutely palpable.

This savage little piece of American pie has become my new favorite dessert on the comic book buffet line.

Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.


FATHER ROBOT #1

Writer: Kristopher White
Artist: Sam Garland
Published by: 215 Ink
Reviewed by: BottleImp


Take the science fiction concepts of ROBOTECH and AVATAR and add a dash of the emotional soul-searching quality of Paul Chadwick’s seminal CONCRETE, and you’ve got the basic idea behind FATHER ROBOT. Reggie Bloom is a soldier in a future army where the battles are fought by mechs—giant robots, for the layman—which are controlled remotely via the soldiers’ thoughts. Like I said, like AVATAR (only without the huge plot holes and overblown hype). During one such conflict, Reggie’s mech squadron is ambushed and cut off from the rest of the troops just as Reggie receives a distress call from his wife and daughter back at the city. Making the choice to save his family rather than stay on the front lines of combat, Reggie breaks ranks, causing his superiors to disconnect Reggie’s physical body from the machinery that allows him to pilot his mech. But somehow, part of his consciousness remains with the robot—and is still set upon rescuing his family.

Kristopher White has blended these borrowed sci fi elements into an intriguing idea that reminds me (aside from the works mentioned above) of the type of science fiction stories that began to emerge in the New Wave fiction of the 1960s. The science of the remote-control robots isn’t really important here; this isn’t “hard” sci fi, and the reader doesn’t need to know the minutia of how the connection between the pilots and the mechs is accomplished. This is merely the McGuffin that sets the story in motion. FATHER ROBOT is about the more intangible concepts of consciousness and the mysteries of the soul, and the power of a father’s love to do the impossible.

Unfortunately, the artwork doesn’t quite to justice to the series’ concept. Sam Garland works in a cartoony style that doesn’t fully gel with the tone of the story. On the one hand, I do really like his designs for the mechs—each one is different and each has its own distinct face, with the “Father Robot” of the title being especially expressive with large, round eyes, wide “eyebrows” and a jutting jaw with a slight underbite. Where Garland falls short, however, is in his depictions of the human characters. Even simplified, cartoony designs need a sense of structure to them, and Garland’s figures lack that sensibility. Many of them seem either like their bones have been broken and set improperly, or like their bones have been surgically removed altogether. The faces also lack that sense of consistency that makes animation-inspired artwork effective; the features often look squashed and off-model. Jenny Gosk’s coloring regrettably hurts rather than helps Garland’s linework; Gosk over-relies on softly modeled airbrushed tones to describe the figures that add to the feeling of bonelessness. I would have liked to see Gosk use the coloring to shore up the linework, as it were, by adding some hard edges (especially on the robotic mechs) and more dramatic color and tonal contrasts. The problems with the black and white artwork would have remained, but they might have been lessened somewhat by a more decisive application of color.

Despite the flaws on the visual end of the book, my interest has been piqued by the core concept. FATHER ROBOT may not be the best looking comic on the stands, but its thought-provoking science fiction sensibilities are engaging enough to make me want to see what comes next for this robot who thinks it’s a man.

When released from his bottle, the Imp transforms into Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from New England. He's currently hard at work interpreting fellow @$$Hole Optimous Douche's brainwaves and transforming them into pretty pictures on AVERAGE JOE, an original graphic novel to be published by Com.x. You can see some of his artwork here.


BATMAN '66/THE GREEN HORNET #2

Writers: Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman
Artist: Ty Templeton
Publisher: DC/Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man


I'm not sure about you, but I'm one of those full circle fans of Adam West's infamous BATMAN TV show. As a kid I frick'n loved it, as kids love POWER RANGERS today. It also laid the ground work for me to become a life-long Batman fan. As I got older, I just didn't get it. Why was it so hokey and silly? This show is just dumb. Then I got a little older and became a fan again. This show is hilarious; it's just so subtly bug-nutz crazy, and one of the few really good uses of camp (slightly skewed drama for humorous effect). As for Van William's GREEN HORNET? Not that much of a fan. It had the pop art style of BATMAN, but none of the humor; it was just an action show. So whenever I watch it, I keep waiting for jokes that never come. But again, as kid I frick'n loved the crossover!

Clearly, so did Ralph Garman. For those of you not living in Los Angeles or not regular listeners to Kevin Smith's podcast HOLLYWOOD BABBLE-ON, Mr. Garman is the reason this comic exists. As he professed many times on his radio show (KEVIN AND BEAN) and HOLLYWOOD BABLE-ON (which he co-hosts with Kevin), he is the biggest Adam West BATMAN fan around. Not to say Kevin Smith isn't a fan, but he's chump change compared to Garman's 24k gold bar balls. I imagine you could kill Garman right now and he would die a happy man knowing he got a gig to play with his beloved BATMAN show. Of course, Kevin Smith was the powerhouse that got DC and Dynamite to make this deal and publish the book (since Dynamite currently owns the keys to the Black Beauty and Alex Ross, and you may recall Dynamite first got into the Green Hornet business by adapting Kevin Smith's Green Hornet movie script).

Now I haven't read any of the regular BATMAN '66 issues, so I can't speak to that. But having watched the shows most of my life, Smith and Garman have captured the tone of the show very well. I can easily hear (most of the time) all the actors’ voices in my head as I read the word balloons. And, for better or worse they are doing this as a straight BATMAN TV show, meaning they are writing it as if they were actually writing for the show back in 1966--no nod that it's actually being written in 2014. And they are doing a good job of it.

Getting into the plot (beware of spoilers), Colonel Gumm (the villain from the original TV show team-up) has been re-christened as General Gumm (with a glue-covered face), and has stolen some fossils. Batman and Robin, of course, are out to uphold the law, while the Green Hornet and Kato are out to uphold the law as well--it's just that they pretend to be crooks and are mad that Gumm didn't cut them in on the action (must I still mention the Green Hornet only pretends to be a crook to catch crooks?). Now, even as a kid I thought Gumm was a lame villain, so I was so very glad when Smith and Garman dropped the Clown Prince of Crime in on this issue. It gives me hope that there are more fun surprises ahead, too. Oh, and for you continuity buffs, it's been mentioned that the events here are taking place after the movie.

As for the artwork, holy Rembrandt, Batman (hey, I had to do it once) this that not just an awesome cover by Alex Ross. Fans of the TV shows should be buying this for the covers alone. As for the interior work, Ty Templeton does a decent job. The storytelling is good, and the actor likenesses are reasonable. Overall, though, I'm a bit disappointed. I used to be a big fan of Templeton's work. It was so sharp, clean, and dynamic, but now it's rather mundane. While it doesn't hurt the comic, it doesn't help it much either.

I'm not sure if this will win over any new fans, but current fans of '66 BATMAN and GREEN HORNET are going to really enjoy this. I'm sure William Dozier is looking down from the afterlife with a big smile.









THE WILL OF CAPTAIN CROWN BOOK 1

Writer: Tristan Roulot
Artist: Patrick Henaff
Publisher: Tristan Roulot & Patrick Henaff
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


When Tristan Roulot wrote me last week about reviewing his foreign mega-success THE WILL OF CAPTAIN CROWN BOOK 1 and giving some lip service to the ongoing BOOK 2 Kickstarter, I had immediate reservations.

One: I have issues with the French. My exposure was one haughty teacher for 6 years who made the country sound like a bunch of people staring at paintings all day while eating bread. The only phrases I remember are “Robert shut up,” “Robert close your mouth,” “please pass the butter,” and “eat my pubes.”

Two: Kickstarters are always 50/50 on quality. Even those that meet goal are suspect between book quality, and simply a group of creators who have family and friends with deep pockets.

Three: Pirate stories leave me more drained than Blind Scurvy Steve, that guy who keeps sucking on squashes instead of oranges. It’s not that I hate pirates; I just usually hate pirate stories. It took me two readings of WATCHMEN before I finally broke down and read BLACK FREIGHTER. I felt “Pirates of the Caribbean” the ride was unending even at 5, and the movie was only redeemed by Michael Bolton and Lonely Island. There’s just something about stories on the water that I find unfulfilling without special appearances by Charo and Telly Savalas.

So why did I relent to THE WILL OF CAPTAIN CROWN?

One: I opened the book because my lovely wife reminded me that to avoid hypocrisy in my life, I had to abandon all French comic predispositions after my glowing review of SNOWPIERCER. I can abide almost any flaws; never hypocrisy.

Two: One look at Roulot’s pedigree and Henaff’s art and you’ll quickly realize these guys are going solo by choice. This is Kickstarter in its truest form, giving amazing talent a chance to shape their destiny without having to walk the plank of exorbitant publisher percentages.

Also, Roulot has done a ton of books in his native Frenchlandia and now Canadaland. In fact, one of the main reasons the first Kickstarter took place was so that stupid North Americans could get the book in a palatable format. The foreign books are larger and thus give the page more room to breathe; to Mike TV miniaturize the books requires a long and arduous process of panel reshuffling. Keep dreaming of world peace, you dumb hippies, when we can’t even agree on a common paper size for printing books.

Three: This is quite simply like no other pirate story I have ever read. Deceptive twists and turns on every page helped steer this book away from the rocky shores of pirate tropes and general stupidity we’ve become accustomed to. The pageantry of piratedom exists, without the pomp. There’s whores a’ plenty, but these bed downs have grave consequences. There’s a ship, the Astarte, but this tale is more about her passengers. Finally, there’s a Captain Crown, but he’s dead before the story begins.

THE WILL OF CAPTAIN CROWN is not about the indeterminable mettle of a sea captain against gargantuan gales and octopuses. Nope, it’s a legal document…parchment…native skin, whatever they used back then to write on. It’s also a cautionary tale about reaping what you sow. Specifically, don’t knock 4 women up if you give them your real name, because twentysome-odd years later you are going to have a tsunami of daddy issues aimed at your booty (both literal and figurative). Another mistake the old Captain and his bed partners make is inventing the act of fisting with his leprosy-laden hand. This is one trope I’ll definitely concede to the creative team. If one was going to update the hook and peg leg, I can’t think of a better impediment than a hand that induces vomiting and mars future generations.

Don’t think for a second, though, this book is all CW and RedTube combined, because the high seas action and the great heroes’ quest are most certainly on deck. Henaff beautifully recreates the majesty of the late 1800s Caribbean immediately following Ole’ Rotty Fist’s last yo-ho…

The Captain’s first mate, Red, is charged with rounding up the five heirs and then unveiling where the booty beyond the Astarte truly lies. It’s better served to let the book introduce the character’s personalities and interdependencies, because that is also the heart of CAPTAIN CROWN’s unfolding mystery. Let’s just say the Captain remained sexually active his whole life giving the kids a wiiiiidde age gap, he wasn’t racist and he would gladly bed ladies as well as street urchins. This left children who ranged from crazy to cunning, and all of them with just a bit more psychological damage because of their touch of skin rot.

As we learn more about the children, we learn more about the Captain and his ultimate heist. Again, to say too much here would give away many of the graphic novel’s surprises. Just know that this team delivers engaging and beautiful exposition by casting panel constraints to the wind letting the sea awash the double page.

No one is truly what they seem in THE WILL OF CAPTAIN CROWN, but their false faces are just as interesting as their ultimate deceptions. Again, we’re talking about pirate folk here, so it’s not like angels falling from their lofty cloud; more like the worst of the world becoming wholly deplorable. If you love pirate stories this book is for you; the boats are beautiful and there is enough high sea haughtiness to remember the pageantry of these pirates versus today’s simple Somalia boatjackers. If you are averse to pirate stories, this book is for you, because the sea only serves as a receptacle for family blood.

Book two Kickstarter is rolling now, folks, and almost funded; chuck a couple galleons at the boys so you don’t have to pay retail and probably Value Added Tax, since the book is coming from exotic foreign lands.


In stores today!

WARLORD OF MARS #0

Writer: Matt Brady
Illustrated: Jack Jadson
Ink: Marcello Mueller
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: The Kid Marvel


So Dynamite’s WARLORDS OF MARS seems to be a rough re-telling of “John Carter of Mars”, or that Disney movie that nobody saw. While WARLORDS OF MARS doesn’t reveal how the main character John Carter arrived on Mars, it’s safe to assume he was transported there somehow or someway in the desert, as revealed in this story and similar to the original mythos.

WARLORDS OF MARS #0 begins with John Carter in an insane asylum, with some orderlies narrating how he ended up there and possibly giving some insight to his origins arriving on Mars, as I stated earlier. After escaping the asylum, John Carter sets out to find his way back to Mars. This is when the story switches to the past, with John Carter exploring some ruins with both species of Martians, which are red and green. This includes the Martian princess Dejah Thoris, who is also clearly John Carter’s lover at this point. Once they enter this cave and begin its exploration things go to sh!%, and they run into some alien beast that slightly resembles Koh, the face stealer on “Avatar: The Last Airbender”.

Overall, I thought WARLORDS OF MARS was a pretty entertaining book and the series could be worth a look. It has a nice sci fi feel, mixed with Conan the Barbarian while on Mars, plus the added elements of a Western from the time spent on Earth. I would like to see more from WARLORDS OF MARS to build a more solid opinion on the series, because I never like making a decision on one issue, unless it’s a one shot and meant to be only that storyline.

As for WARLORDS OF MARS’ artwork, it’s pretty solid and definitely a plus to the book. The lighter colors are bright and vivid, while the darker elements contrast nicely with the lighter ones. Next to tone, the art definitely reminds me of a Conan the Barbarian title in the way that the characters are designed and the environments are presented. John Carter and the other male Martians have a He-Man thing going on with their outfits, while Dejah has almost next to nothing. Essentially, floss and a hand towel are the only things covering her Martian lady bits. If this isn’t meant to be a homage to the Conan style, it definitely comes off as one more than once throughout the title. The only negatives for WARLORDS OF MARS in the art department would be some of the emotionally loaded panels looking a little weird. The emotions that are trying to be conveyed just don’t work the way they should at certain points, but overall the art is very good.

I honestly don’t have much to say about the title, simply because it’s only been one issue and could go to crap very quickly, even though issue zero was solid with no real glaring negatives. I think WARLORDS OF MARS has a lot of potential and could really expand or explore both John Carter’s past and his adventures on Mars while differentiating the comic from the previous incarnations. This does lead to my only suggestion in creating something new and unique, instead of rebooting and revisiting what’s already been done with the character. I do look forward to seeing if the title holds up or falls off over time, so as for issue zero of WARLORDS OF MARS, I’d recommend giving it a look see and read through.


ORIGINAL SIN #5

Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Mike Deodato
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy


GODDAMNIT, I WOULD HAVE BOUGHT THIS AS A TIE IN, GUYS.

And I hate tie-ins. But for this event? I really like ORIGINAL SIN. I’m on board with the story. I really am. It’s professional work, done at just a real impressive level. It’s creative, it’s inventive, it’s funny and exciting and engaging and it is good. The art is majestic, with just pure genius framing and coloring.

What I’m getting at is, as a one shot, or tie in? This is best of the year quality.

But it’s not.

It’s part five of a major event.

That is annoying as hell.

This is a crossover, a particularly bonkers crossover that is thriving off its momentum and creativity. And this issue kills one of those dead. In terms of tone, this book has thrived on exploiting our expectations, throwing The Punisher and Dr. Strange at a dead god and watching them bicker. It’s been fun and exciting and unexpected. But it all still advanced the plot. Every character beat felt like it was moving the narrative forward. But this issue is nothing but a fun, exciting, great issue of nothing. It’s a great little aside inside the Marvel Universe, but it kills the momentum of the event dead. And that’s a problem.

ORIGINAL SIN is maybe my favorite Marvel event in recent memory. It’s creative, and gonzo, and great. But each issue has been good about advancing the plot. And as good as this random chapter into the life of Nick Fury is, as wonderful and fun it is? It does absolutely nothing for the event it’s in. And for a story like this, that’s poison.

The writing is good. The art is good. The everything is good. But goddamnit, you’ll be able to learn everything important by the issue recap in two weeks. And that’s what kills event books.

I love Brian Michael Bendis, but I bitch about him wasting three issues developing cool ideas instead of the actual plot. And while Aaron and assorted made a great, GREAT bullshit issue, it’s just that. Bullshit. It’s the first time I’ve disliked this title. And I’m going to bitch about it.


In stores today!

CHASTITY #1

Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artist: Dave Acosta
Publisher: Chaos! Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Lyzard


Writer Marc Andreyko makes a note at the end of the book speaking of his initial unease with doing yet another vampire story, not just because the market has plenty of those, but because Andreyko has covered the topic extensively in the past. His writings have been both successful (BLADE) and disappointing (LET ME IN: CROSSROADS).

To some degree, CHASTITY isn't yet another vampire story, but instead a reboot of an ol' Chaos Comic series which in fact featured its own retelling prior to this one. Just as with the original CHASTITY(s), the comic is set in the 1980s. In many ways, this time period was similar to our own. There was a flood of vampire films, starting with Herzog's “Nosferatu”, “Dracula” starring Frank Langella, “Love at First Bite”, and the television adaptation of “Salem's Lot” all appearing in 1979. Then you had the teen vamp sub-genre popping up with the likes of “Lost Boys”, “Near Dark”, and “Fright Night”. So why not? Why not try to take a property that had some success twice prior and was set in a time where vampires didn't sparkle?

Well, the first issue with this is that the time period isn't taken advantage of. I guess the shoulder pads and other poor fashion and hairstyle choices should have been a clue, but the comic just didn't scream 80s to me. The narration even features a reference to HARRY POTTER, but I guess I can forgive that for the quick jab at TWILIGHT.

Chastity Marks herself would you remind many readers of a Twi-hard, but she is much more into vampires of the Rice variety. After a gymnastic injury dashes her hopes and dreams of Olympic gold, the disappointment put upon herself by her mom leads Chastity to find solace in literature, particularly the Blood Rose series. A die-hard groupie, Chastity jumps at the opportunity to attend a book signing where she bites off more than she can chew.

Yes, that is a horrible pun, but it is apropos to the writing style featured in the comic. Chastity, as the narrator, even calls herself out on her own ridiculous humor. It is meta upon meta and wholly unnecessary. Vampires in the media are already rather self-reflexive; it does little good to draw attention to it.

All that being said, while I think Andreyko would have been better off sticking with either one of Chastity's original origin stories, there is a spark of hope. The end of the comic, which fans of the earlier series will see coming, finally captures the essence of those ridiculous 80s vamp flicks. Think “Once Bitten” but with much, much more gore.

And illustrator Dave Acosta really brings a visceral touch to the carnage. If I wasn't so distracted by the modern references, I would have been able to enjoy how Acosta captures the 1980s with his character design.

Earlier series featuring Chastity had staying power, but that was back when Buffy and Angel were loved more than despised like current bloodsuckers and their lovers. Maybe now is the right time for a meta-esque blast to the past...or this will just be another vampire comic that bites the dust. It is too early in the run to tell.

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."


MOON KNIGHT #5

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Declan Shalvey
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee


Okay, so after a debut issue by this creative tandem that really seemed to be poised to revamp and restyle the character of Moon Knight, instead this run has become…something else.

Really, from what I can tell, it’s become an experiment on the part of Warren Ellis to try new pacing techniques with his scripts and an exhibition for Declan Shalvey to make a name for himself with his sublime and visceral pencil work. And for the past few issues it has been a success in that regard, though at the sake of being a huge disappointment given what the brand new number one put in front of us and got lots of people – myself included – highly excited for with its potential with its new take on Marc Spector’s pretty unique circumstances and fucked up headspace. There have been moments of stylized brilliance, and this particular issue is twenty pages of glorious, “Raid”-esque action bonanza as Moonie battles through five floors of assholes to get to a kidnapped girl, but for those of us hoping it would be a great new psychological (and occasionally bloody physical) journey for the Man in White, well, I guess we’re going to have to wait to see if Brian Wood is the man to realize that potential starting with issue seven.

This latest issue is pretty goddamn badass, though, I have to admit. Ellis and Shalvey take the concept of Moonie being “the one you see coming” to a whole new level as he just mows through over a dozen hired goons with maximum efficacy and brutality. I definitely wanted material like this as a part of this run because Warren Ellis is definitely someone you expect to deliver this and with an artist like Shalvey, well, yeah you want this to happen time to time. I was just hoping there would be more in the veins between the adrenaline-fueled surges.

Like I said before, I guess we’ll have to see if that gets realized in two months when we have a new and hopefully more long-lived creative crew take the reins with this new foundation to build upon.


In stores today!

NEW SUICIDE SQUAD #1

Writer: Sean Ryan
Art: Jeremy Roberts
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


In the simplest of terms, old fans of SUICIDE SQUAD should not fret; the number one is simply on the cover because number ones sell to new fans. Pretty much every Marvel book is doing it these days and I have simply learned to accept this phoenix formula of comic sales.

The question is no longer why a new number one, but did the book actually work in luring in new readers, reinvigorating those that recently murdered OLD SUICIDE SQUAD from their pull list, and keeping a thread of story continuity for those of us buying the book until it reached a ripe old age of 30 and had to be put down.

Yes, yes, yes, Ryan and Roberts reconstruct the team from their jigsaw dismantling in FOREVER EVIL to, if not a stronger organization, certainly a scarier one. New fans can meet SUICIDE SQUAD for the first time with only a few dangling questions on the importance of these events. New team members like Deathstroke, Black Manta and a new Puppetmaster who reports into official government channels will acclimate newbies to how dysfunctional this wetworks team of criminal “heroes” were before the Crime Syndicate’s rampage.

For those that dropped the book, give this new team of loons a chance. If returning crazies like Deadshot and Harley Quinn don’t feel welcoming enough, enjoy watching Amanda Waller become just as much a slave to SUICIDE SQUAD as the team she originally put into servitude.

Old fans who haven’t missed an issue will read NEW SUICIDE SQUAD with a bit of an extra spark--at least, I had one. The power shift from the top is interesting, and the power shift amongst the button pushers is funny, uncomfortable and utterly unfathomable if you try to plot on paper how these loons will work together. Within their tsunami of crazy, though, is a quiet eye that keeps the whirling debris that is SUICIDE SQUAD in some semblance of order.

I can only hope that the tradition of SUICIDE SQUAD members meeting an untimely demise holds true, because there’s one other member I haven’t mentioned it yet. I didn’t leave her off the list because the creators mishandled her, but merely because I utterly loathe Joker’s Daughter.

Ryan and Roberts did the best with her they could by making her a Harley antagonist, but I simply can’t abide the existence of this character no matter how well she comes across. You can put lipstick on a pig, but in the end it still tastes like shit when you make sweet human-pig love. Joker’s Daughter was an abysmal contrivance that I can only assume was meant to draw sullen emo chicks between the ages of 12-27 into comics. Joker’s Daughter’s only qualification is crazy, and her only power appears to be a completely deadened olfactory network. That’s the only way I can see her being able to constantly huff in the decay from her “father’s” rotting detachable face 24/7. Superman came from a dying planet and Batman was born from the blood of his parents, while Joker’s Daughter, who is not even his daughter, simply found Mistah J’s face in a sewer. Just say it a few times and I guarantee you too will be wishing for the demise of this pastrami-faced poser. SUICIDE SQUAD doesn’t suffer because of these maskapades, because JD is just as useless in practice as she is in form.

Before signing off I want to congratulate the team on meeting a tough assignment by simply telling the timely story of Russia Gone Wild, and bonus points for bringing in Rocket Reds to clean up the Belle Reve travelling team.


JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #195

Date of Publication: July 9th, 1981
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: George Perez
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


Well the summer is in full swing now (I envy all you students) and as an old DC reader, summertime used to mean the annual Justice League of America/Justice Society of America crossover which started back in 1963 with “Crisis on Earth-One” and ended in 1985 with FINAL CRISIS. With that in mind, I thought we'd wind the clock back 33 years, when the crossovers were still in full swing within the pages of the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA.

July 1981: the hostages from Iran had been released, the Oakland Raiders won the Superbowl, the stainless steel DeLorean had been released, President Ronald Reagan survived a gunshot to the chest (the Pope as well), the Space Shuttle Columbia was launched, AIDS reared its ugly head, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK ruled the box office, Christopher Cross ruled the Grammys with “Sailing” and DONKEY KONG was unleashed on the world. In the world of comic books, females and kids had all but left the building. Nearly all smaller publishers were gone, with just Gold Key and Harvey limping along. Superheroes by Marvel and DC now owned the industry like never before. The era of independent publishers and mature content was still years away. And on a more personal note, while on summer vacation, a young Masked Man discovered an issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA at the supermarket (Eagles). It looked amazing, and reminded him of THE CHALLENGE OF THE SUPERFRIENDS show he loved so much. So he bought it, his first real comic book--he now has thousands of them! So here is that comic book, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #195.

In the summertime, when the weather is warm, you can count on DC doin’ a JLA/JSA crossover, when the weather is warm we got comics, we got comics on our mind. Yes, it's that time of year again—heck, even Gerry Conway points it out himself on page one. In fact, it's Conway's fourth such crossover. And to be honest, it's going to be hard to top his last one, “Darkseid Rising”, or as we fans have been calling it, “Crisis on Apokolips”. Luckily, the awesome George Perez has joined him again.

To get into the plot and a few spoilers, nothing too major, Conway has decided to bring back (or rather reinvent) the Secret Society of Super-Villains after the JLA bashed them out of existence in issue #168 (the storyline which Brad Meltzer would later use as a jumping off point to his IDENTITY CRISIS miniseries in 2004). This time an old timey Superman Earth-2 villain (think big white gorilla) has recruited villains from Earth-1 and 2 to create the new Society. The bad news is this kinda makes this issue a set-up issue, as each villain is showcased as they are recruited. But Conway has chosen a very motley crew, so having a few pages of them showing off who they are isn't a bad idea or without solid entertainment. The real weak point of the story is the mumbo jumbo Conway throws at us to explain balance between parallel Earths and how removing a few heroes from two Earths will remove all of them from one Earth--huh?!? Well, the important thing to know is the Society has created a hit list of superheroes (JLA and JSA members), and three of the hits go down in this issue, thus preventing this from being a complete set-up issue.

Now I gotta say, feeble logic aside, this is a pretty damn cool issue. Most of the villains have been underused in the past (obviously I'm not talking about the girls, Killer Frost and Cheetah), so it's cool to see them get moments to shine. The big bad leader is very cool, and the supervillain/superhero matchups are very cool (though I'm a little confused by what happened to Black Canary--did something explode?). We even get to spend some time at the annual JLA/JSA cocktail party, which is always fun to watch. I believe continuity buffs will be happy with Conway as well, as it seems he has done his homework. And did I mention George Perez is drawing this baby?

Marvel really let an amazing talent go in Mr. Perez, but we are mighty happy to see him on the DC side of the street. Not only are he and Marv Wolfman making the best Teen Titans comic ever, he's knocking out the best-looking JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA issues ever (sorry, Sekowsky and Dillin). Everything is just great: figures, backgrounds, action, storytelling--just great, great, great. And least I forget, you must see the amazingly awesome JLA/JSA pin-up by Perez. This double page spread is worth the cost of the comic alone. Reminds me of the JSA pin-up Murphy Anderson drew way back in issue #76.

Gerry Conway and George Perez really seem to have another winner on their hands here. If you like superhero action, you'd be crazy not to get this.

At about this same time, the great George Perez was working on the infamous JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VS. THE AVENGERS crossover. As we all know, it never came to be (though you can still find a few penciled pages online) and it wasn't until 2003 that Perez, with Kurt Busiek, were able to unleash a JLA/AVENGERS story. After all, Perez is the king of crossovers drawing CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and most of the INFINITY GAUNTLET, and you can barely talk about Wonder Woman without mentioning his iconic run. To this day, depending on his health, Perez is one of the most sought-after artists in the industry, and one of the most well liked, so when any company forces him to leave, they clearly have no idea what they are doing.

Now current fandom many not know Gerry Conway right off the bat, but the man has made a huge mark on the comic book industry. Not only did he create Firestorm, not only did he kill off Gwen Stacy (yup, he wrote that), not only did he write the SUPERMAN VS. SPIDERMAN comic (almost wrote the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VS. THE AVENGERS too), not only did he create Killer Croc, not only did he create The Punisher, but he also wrote 101 issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA--more than anyone else, including its creator Gardner Fox. In the early 90s Conway left comic books for TV, writing for FATHER DOWLING MYSTERIES, DIAGNOSIS MURDER, and LAW AND ORDER. And lest I forget, he co-wrote CONAN THE DESTROYER with his good buddy Roy Thomas and the screenplay for Ralph Bakshi's FIRE AND ICE.


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

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