Comics

AICN COMICS Reviews: ALICE COOPER! GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY! STUMPTOWN! BOB’S BURGERS! & More!

Published at: Sept. 3, 2014, 1:55 a.m. CST by ambush bug

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

Advance Review: ALICE COOPER #1
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #18
BOB’S BURGERS #1
Advance Review: STUMPTOWN #1
POP #1
ORIGINAL SIN: THOR & LOKI – THE TENTH REALM #5.4
WAYWARD #1
Indie Jones presents AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE #2
BOB’S BURGERS #1
SECRET ORIGINS #5
Advance Review: GONERS #1


In stores today!

ALICE COOPER #1

Writer: Joe Casey
Art: Eman Casallos
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Ambush Bug


“Rock and roll is the devil’s music and it will steal your soul and rot your brain.”

Living through the 80’s and being an avid fan of rock music, I heard phrase or something like it from bible-toting relatives, priests at church, and teachers at school; and all it did was make me more curious to seek out this rock music and what was so evil about it. Modern critics accused playing a record backwards, going to concerts, reading song lyrics, staring at an album cover too long, or simply listening to music of being the temptation-laced gateway to infernal hell and of course, the more those parties tried, the more interesting it was to me. Something tells me that writer Joe Casey, who probably lived through the same age, felt the same way as his new book ALICE COOPER #1 which paints the shock rocker as having many roles, embraces all of those myths about rock and roll.

The story begins ambiguously as Cooper sits morose and catatonic in a chair with a talking boa constrictor (an Alice Cooper standby) urging him to wake up. Fans of Brian De Palma’s classic rock opera PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE will recognize the Swan-esque character named Lucius Black, who plays a mini-sized devil in a bad suit being cradled by babes in bathing suits and teasing Cooper with a contract he signed long ago granting Black his soul. In this issue we follow Cooper as he tempts a pop star and then we split the time following a young boy who acquires an Alice Cooper record from a garage sale.

Every rock and roll cautionary tale is represented here and while some might feel it’s a little cliché in incorporating so many myths, I really liked the way Casey embraces these little details and throws them all together to make one big story. In the past, we’ve had other comic book incarnations of Alice Cooper; some of them playing a SANDMAN Dream-esque character in Marvel’s SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES-esque ALICE COOPER series from the 90’s and some of them just depicting the rocker as a performer. In all incarnations, Cooper is depicted with some kind of devilish power of temptation and while he does so here, this version feels a bit less metaphoric and a bit more in your face, using all of those rock and roll warnings we used to hear from old folks who just don’t get it as a sort of mythology to build a pretty fun world to visit.

While pretty straight forward, artist Eman Casallos work is rock solid, depicting Alice Cooper as a lanky specter we can sympathize with as he himself is trapped in a nightmare. The demons and otherworldly realms are represented well, though I think if this issue were a bit heavier on the inks, there would be a darker mood. The clean lines make things less scary and more of a typical super hero book, but Casallos does a fantastic job of making Alice look like Alice.

All in all, if you like rock and roll and are old enough to remember Alice Cooper, ALICE COOPER #1 is going to be essential reading. And for those of you too young to remember him, look him up. Marilyn Manson pretty much owes his career to him and while there are tons of rockers out there from GWAR to DISTURBED who often go the shock rock route, Cooper was the first and best and this comic pays homage and exemplifies why he was such a compelling entertainer.

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. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.

Be sure to tell your comic shop to order his new comic PIROUETTE from July’s Diamond Previews (item code JUL14 0937) today and the new issue #2 available to order in August Previews (item code AUG14 1131) from Black Mask Studios!!




GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #18

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ed McGuinness
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


There decompression writing and then there's D-E-C-O-M-P-R-E-S-S-I-O-N writing. And that, in a nut shell, is all you can say about GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #18. Now let's move on to the rest of the bag. For the record, I'll state I haven't been reading GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, no ill will, just not my bag. But Rich Rider, the man called Nova, has always been my bag. So, I had to pick up this ORIGINAL SIN crossover issue, which promised to tell us why he's 'still dead'. Of course, we readers really know why he's still dead- because Jeph Loeb (or just Joe Quesada) wanted a new kid, minority character they could spin. And new minority kid Thanos or StarLord just didn't make as much sense.

That said, the new boy, Sam, is a decent enough character, but Rider fans- such as myself, wanted to know how Thanos and Starlord survived the Cancerverse but not Nova? Now after two years, Marvel has finally given in to our demands, and we hopefully learn what happened, just not in this issue.

That's because fan fav Brian Michael Bendis decided to give us a master class in decompression writing. Oh, and I can't imagine how anything in this issue could be considered a spoiler- except the very beginning where Gamora has all but kidnapped Starlord and tied him to a chair, demanding he finally tell her what happened to Nova (Curious, if this is how Bendis feels about the situation too). Now I didn't read the last issue, but either way, shouldn't there be some explanation of how Gamora got her fellow Guardian teammate all trussed up like this? I mean, it's been 18 issues, what was the straw that broke the camels back? Oh well, moving along, the next 20 pages pretty much cover as much ground as two pages from a comic in the 70's or 80's! Page one: Gamora demands to know what happened! Starlord, finally relents and tell her. Page two: He and Nova were fighting Thanos, waiting to die. Thanos said he had a plan to save them all. They said no, but... to be continued! Obviously there's nothing wrong with stretching out a story, for dramatic effect or even more issue sales, but the writer should at least come up with more to say when they do. Not just give up on editing.

On the plus side Ed Mcguinness draws the issue (though he usually doesn't stay around very long, so there's no telling if he'll be able to finish this crossover- zinger!). Now Ed can get boring with dialogue heavy scenes, like all his staging and acting skills drain out of his head and he's left with- a series of head shots. His action scenes on the other hand, are all pretty awesome. And since the issue is pretty much a long extended, stretched out fight scene, it's a great looking book.

I almost didn't pick up this issue, figuring I could just read about it on Wikipedia or something- but I figured, what the heck. I'll be a sport and buy the issue, see what old BMB has going on. I'll be quite surprised if I decide to hangout after the tale of, what happened to Rich Rider is over.









BOB’S BURGERS #1

Writers: Mike Olsen, Jeff Drake, Rachel Hastings, Justin Hook
Artists: Brad Rader, Tony Gennaro, Frank Forte, Bernard Derriman
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: BottleImp


The cartoon BOB’S BURGERS has shot up in popularity over the past year, culminating in the one-two punch of perpetually awkward teenager Tina Belcher’s win as Entertainment Weekly’s “Favorite Television Character” and the show’s Emmy win for Best Animated Program. And for good cause—if you’ve never seen the show, I highly recommend tuning in. The cartoon is consistently funnier than anything THE SIMPSONS has done over the past decade-and-a-half, and let’s not even bother bringing FAMILY GUY into the mix. So it was inevitable in the wake of this new wave of popularity that BOB’S BURGERS would expand its brand, beginning with this comic book. While Dynamite’s BOB’S BURGERS won’t ever take the place of the show, this first issue does prove to be a nice addition to the series.

The comic is written and drawn by some of the television show’s creators, who seem to be using this opportunity to tell some of the more outlandish stories that may have popped up in the writers’ room. For all their oddness, the Belcher clan of the show tends to deal with situations that are firmly planted in the real world. The stories of this anthology format comic book have no such restraint, and show the Belcher kids as they imagine themselves—so of course, the leadoff story is one of Tina’s infamous “erotic friend fictions.” This is the highlight of the comic, as Tina inserts a horsey version of herself into the world of the Equestranauts.

Yeah, you have to watch the show to get the jokes. If you’ve never heard Tina’s signature moan, this comic will most likely leave you flat. But if you’re like me and have seen every episode far too many times, you’ll be happy to have the characters’ voices in your head reading BOB’S BURGERS right along with you.

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.


STUMPTOWN #1

Greg Rucka: Writer
Justin Greenwood: Artist
Oni Press: Publisher
Vroom Socko: Rose City ‘Til I Die


Stumptown is back, and it’s now an ongoing. If you’ve read the previous two miniseries before, then that’s all you need to know. For the uninitiated, the series features Dex Parios, a Portland private investigator in the vein of Jim Rockford. You know the sort, always in over their head, always doing the right thing, never dirty, but not quite clean… As for her investigation this time out, well… the story arc is called “The Case of the King of Clubs.” No, it’s not about an underground casino or a card sharp. What it is about involves a confession.

I enjoyed the hell out of this issue, but I’m incapable of being objective about its quality.

I admit it, I’m biased. That’s because this issue, and most likely this whole arc, is about the greatest sports rivalry in the Pacific Northwest, possibly even in North America: the almost 40 year long rivalry between the Portland Timbers and the Seattle Flounders. Sorry, I mean Sounders. (I’m really not sorry.) Yes, I’m a long time member of the Timbers Army, as is Greg Rucka. And the bulk of this issue takes place in the North End of Providence Park during a Cascadia Cup match. In other words, this issue depicts my home. It depicts my team. It depicts the match day atmosphere associated with me and some of the finest friends I’ve ever known in my life. So yeah, I’m biased. It’s a comic about a culture that I love, of course I’m going to enjoy it, as long as it does that culture justice.

So how good a job does this book do of recreating the atmosphere of a Timbers match? Pretty damn good, I’d say. Justin Greenwood, he of WASTELAND fame, does a great job of capturing the manic action in the stands. I look at these pages, and I can hear the drums, smell the smoke, feel the crowd moving as one, see people I know. That’s right, Dex stands and talks with a friend of hers who calls himself Mercury. I know who he is in real life, and Greenwood has his look and personality down to a tee. (In fact, I’m pretty sure I spotted myself on one page. There’s only one person in the TA who wears a black fedora like that.)

The best thing thought is the ever present chanting of the Timbers Army, both on match day and in this issue. Every page showing the North End has the chants of the Army running through them. The chant of PT-FC at the end is all encompassing, as it often is on an actual match day. I’ve been at matches where that chant has shaken the walls of the press box at Providence Park. That’s either a strong statement about the passion in the stands, or a condemnation of the structural integrity of the press box. I say it’s the former, but as I said, I’m biased. So biased, in fact, that there’s a multitude of moments I’m not entirely sure anyone who isn’t TA is going to get.

True, this first issue does an excellent job of depicting the typical game day operations, but it doesn’t necessarily explain the meaning behind them. But that’s okay. The mystery that is set up here doesn’t require that you know WHY we sing Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling In Love at the end of a match, or why we chant for Khalif Alhassan to raise his hands during warm-ups at the beginning. You don’t need to know why we shun scalpers, or who Dan Zusman or Darlington Nagbe are. You don’t need to understand the offside rule, or even follow Major League Soccer. What you need to know, what this comic illustrates so well, is the passion and love the Timbers Army has for their club, how important the rivalry with Seattle is to both teams, and the sort of friendships that hold sway in the North End. As Mercury quotes from the legendary Timber Jim herein, it’s all about spreading the love.

I love the Timbers. I loved this issue. And I recommend you give the both of them a try.

(You will note that I didn’t say much about the actual mystery that begins in this issue. That’s because it only kicks into high gear in the final pages, and I’m not spoiling what happens there for anything. I will only say that shit is going to get personal, and the next issue can‘t get here soon enough.)

Vroom Socko, aka Aaron Button, can be found at every Timbers home match standing in section 103, wearing a ridiculous hand knit scarf. He has met and occasionally chatted with this issue’s writer Greg Rucka at various Timbers events, mainly about the World Cup, old movies, and why the hell the Timbers back line has been such a mess this season.


POP #1

Writer: Curt Pires
Art: Jason Cospland
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewer: Frida Gurewitz


I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I picked up POP. I can say that when looking at the shelves it did, for lack of better words, “POP”. The neon yellow screamed out from the racks. I was curious though. Looking back I can say the coolness of the cover really only reflects itself in the art of POP and not in the story.

This is the first issue of POP Titled “Eyes Without a Face” , POP exists in this richly colored reality where pop-stars aren’t discovered but made. Curt Pires writes a world where our favorite pop stars are bio-engineered. Brittany, Mariah, Dustin Beaver (a thinly veiled impression of Justin Bieber) were all created and are controlled by a mysterious unnamed organization. Their next creation has escaped and is roaming the streets. Curt Pines has written a world a fun alternate world that blends science fiction subtly with celebrity culture. Though to be completely honest, the plot does remind me of the 2005 movie THE ISLAND. It might just be the growing of humans that feels similar. It is definitely not the most original concept. Though I do like the incorporation of the pop star. It did make it feel more original. More modern. There is a guy character that I think is supposed to act as the hero as well as the narrator. Though during the whole issue I didn’t grow attached to him at all. In fact I wasn’t particularly attached to any of the characters. They’re all sort of one-dimensional. They didn’t have the same amount of intensity as the colors in the art.

Jason Cospland and Pete Tom’s combination of art and unique colors is what made this comic for me. Pinks, yellows, blues, bright oranges. The colors make it feel like you’re a dance show. They’re so bright they border on being harsh. They “pop”. And yes, I realize I’m making that joke again, but it’s true. The way the art and the colors are seamlessly integrated together is well done. In my opinion the art is the only thing that really made this comic worthwhile. The art is dynamic while the story feels a little flat.

The way this comic operates and its voice is incredibly pretensions. POP doesn’t drag me in and make want to continue reading it. It feels, in my opinion, like it lords itself above the reader. It might be better suited to be in graphic novel form, than in singular issues. I wouldn’t say it was a complete waste of time because it was enjoyable. But it’s not something I’d go back to with burning curiosity and interest. Honestly, one of the only reasons I’d pick POP up would be because its cover would catch my eye again.


ORIGINAL SIN: THOR & LOKI – THE TENTH REALM #4

Story: Jason Aaron & Al Ewing
Script: Al Ewing
Pencils: Simone Bianchi & Lee Garbett
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: The Kid Marvel


Sometimes when you get multiple artists and writers on one project, as a reader you can definitely tell because of the clusterfudge of different styles, tones, and ideas. Luckily, THOR & LOKI: THE TENTH REALM does not have that problem, unlike BATMAN ETERNAL, but I digress and that’s a rant for different day.

THOR & LOKI picks up with Thor still a prisoner of the angels of Heven in the 10th realm. Angelica has yet to be revealed as the lost daughter of Odin and plays a much smaller role in this issue. While young Loki has done some gender bending and is now female Loki. Not to be confused with Old Loki, who doesn’t make a cameo in this book.

I say don’t be confused sarcastically, because I know it’s confusing for some, after reading the talkbacks in THOR & LOKI: THE TENTH REALM 1. So let me attempt to elaborate and hopefully clear things up.

First, currently there are two Loki’s, young and old. Young Loki is a reincarnated version himself, after he was killed SIEGE and is now attempting to change his image, by doing “good” and changing who he was. Old Loki is the old Loki or better yet, an old “spirit” of his former Loki-self. This is the character of “Loki” most are familiar with as the trickster god, holding no moral qualms and who’s really just a giant douche. Old Loki is who Young Loki doesn’t want to become, while Old Loki is confident in Young Loki returning to his old nature. Hopefully, that cleared something up and if not maybe Google will.

Back to THOR & LOKI, Young Loki has changed himself into a female version of himself, making a deal with the Angels of the 10th realm to betray Asgard. Thor who seems down and out, does something slightly un-Thor like by playing possum in his capture. As he’s is tied to a giant pillar, Samson-esque, Thor has convinced the Angels in believing he’s actually been captured, that his hammer is secured and he has no chance of escape. Funny thing about that, being a god of thunder and the 10th realm having no knowledge of this, Thor conjures a masses storm that destroys his restraints and summons Mjolnir back to his side.

On Loki’s side, he or well she for this issue, has gained a giant armada of space warships to attack what’s left of the floating Asgard and old Asgardia, which Odin had previously sealed off, with army of 10th realm angels. Loki just like Thor, lives up to his namesake as the trickster god, double crossing the angels by using the armada to kamikaze Odin’s seal on Asgardia, breaking it. After destroying the armada and killing the last angel, Loki kills the last angel and seeks out a familiar face still left inside Asgardia and requesting his aid.

In THOR & LOKI’s art department, it’s another solid issue of awesome colors, beautiful landscapes, vivid imagery, along with excellent battle sequences. I’ve really enjoyed the almost water coloring in the series artwork, with a lot of the artistic details being almost water washed in color.

This is another example of how a team, rather than single artists, really come together and mesh perfectly to come up with a great finished product. THOR & LOKI has a great team working on this story in both artwork and writing.

Overall, the mini-series has been awesome so far and really entertaining. Thor and Loki going back and forth is spot on, with both of their personalities and character dynamics playing off of one another beautifully. Although I would like to see more Angelica in the mix, simply because the Thor and Loki as distinct personalities and their history as siblings is so good, a third party who is a long lost sister, has so much potential. I would highly recommend checking this mini-series out either at its conclusion or when you get a chance.


WAYWARD #1

Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Steve Cummings
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee


A long, long time ago, before the Earth cooled (and then warmed up, and then cooled again, and then did whatever it is it keeps doing these days) I was a college lad with more hobbies than a man continually trying to replace his blood with beer should have been able to afford. These giant money sinks included everything you would expect an early 21st Century geek proper to fill a dorm room up with; Magic cards, comic books (duh), video games, and (getting relevant to this review) anime and Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD sets. I was one of those people shelling out almost $200 for the full “Neon Genesis Evangelion” sets just as readily as I was tuning in on Tuesdays in lieu of studying to watch the Scoobies get into their highly dramatized, supernatural hijinks. I just absorbed both mediums and genres because, as the rest of my fellow “get of my lawn!”ers will attest to, there was just a style you did not get here stateside that most anime channeled and there was a whole-hearted referential attitude to geeky things within the Buffyverse that you just did not find anywhere outside those pieces of fiction at the time. It’s safe to say that now we are full blown in an era where such media are no longer outliers of our culture but are now the eye of a multi-billion dollar a year entertainment hurricane that has enveloped us all. Which, this is why I’m kind of shocked we do not see more comics like this, Image’s WAYWARD, that unabashedly slam these nerd stalwarts together. Regardless, here we are and, well, it looks like what happens when you swan dive some Buffy into a big old pool of Japanime.

The “problem” here is – and this is going to turn into one of “those” reviews I’m afraid – is that this is just a first issue and it’s really hard to say where this book is going to go besides being a mash up of some of your favorite things, unless they are not, in which case you probably left by the cover. To show what I mean, let’s do the rundown shall we? We start with a plane landing and fiery-haired lass named Rori Lane fresh off the sky bus into Japan. Her parents separated, Rori is here to live with her mother and attend school and begin assimilating into the culture, which she already seems to be quite fangirlish about herself. Then, HOLY SHIT!, monsters, a girl named Ayane who seems to be part cat and fights the monsters, and newly triggered superhuman abilities for Rori happen, the end… FOR NOW!

All of this is sold pretty well, especially visually, but for those who wanted something beyond the Buffy meets your Japan fetish pitch from the solicit, they didn’t get much here. And there may not be much beyond that honestly. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes your comic where a teenage girl discovers she’s got superhuman abilities while fighting turtle monsters that look roided out to the shells is a book about just that. Obviously this is my kind of swag since I wrote an entire opening paragraph rife with anecdote to say so, but I admit I do want to see a little more before I officially slide WAYWARD into my already Image loaded pull list. Since this is an amalgamation of two things I grew up heavily invested in I want to see what a writer like Zub – who already has shown an excellent talent for genre bending with his SKULLKICKERS – will do to differentiate WAYWARD’s take on them. Buffy Summers, over the span of several TV seasons and now comic book volumes, was a great lead because of how she grew from stuffy cheerleader into a hero of the downtrodden with a penchant for forbidden love. I’m really hoping that Rori has her own uber-personalized arc as well, beyond the typical “chosen one” mythos. The separation of her parents and how her relationship with her father seems to be a sticking point given some monologue material and I wonder where that will lead, if anywhere. And then there’s the freaky looking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Meth; there’s got to be something badass or demented going on there, right?

While the scripting part of WAYWARD is more on the potential energy side of the reaction, Steve Cummings’ art is kinetic all the way. If anything sells this premier issue it is definitely his pencil work. The character designs are perfect for that anime feel but without over exaggerating anything until you get to the freak turtles and the very hyperactive action. In fact I applaud how thinks seem to change on a dime from very colorful yet grounded design work to almost overly stylized as soon as the switch “flips” on Rori and her abilities and as Ayane gets involved. I’m probably over inflating it in my own head but it just feels like movements and facial expressions (like the big, wide “anime eyes”) and the like just become that much more overstated as soon as the book goes into “action mode” and it feels just a weekday afternoon fifteen years ago watching some “Dragonball Z.” While I’m hoping the characters and plotlines do themselves some favors as the book progresses and differentiate from their drawn from genres a bit, I hope Cummings’ art just keeps on trucking like in this debut. It’s absolutely perfect.

Proving to myself that I’m not maybe being overly picky about this first shot of WAYWARD, I handed this issue over to my wife since the subject matter is also very much ingrained in her upbringing - if not even more noteworthy to her due to gender lines – and she handed it back to me with a simple “Cute, but needs plot.” I’ve gone a very verbose route to get to that simple statement but I think it is pretty good in summation. I just need more. From and art standpoint I just need more in that it’s great to look at and I’d like to continue to feast upon it, but from the writing end this is just too little, too “typical” even given this day and age, of a start. I haven’t seen these exact circumstances of “Irish-background girl now in Japan fighting turtle monsters” before, which is a huge plus, but I’ve seen ample amounts of the “unassuming girl finds herself in conflict and discovers HIDDEN POWERS!!!” groundwork plenty o’ times by now in a post-Buffy world. It’s where Zub goes with all that former stuff to enhance the latter material that will dictate if this title ends up as a “must read” or an “also ran.” But I feel like that was the case with SKULLKICKERS as well, as we also have plenty of Fantasy Spoof comics out there in the ether – especially the Internet domain part of it – and that title during its run has done everything possible to both toe the line of genre convention for familiarity and homage sake while turning them on their ears in defiance of expectations. I have no doubt that WAYWARD will follow in those footsteps, but until it walks that walk, I have to have my reservations and thereby pass them along to you, our dear readers.

If “Anime Buffy” is all you needed to see and hear in a vacuum, well then by George you have your book and I don’t know how you cannot throw $3.50 at this every month. But if you want “Anime Buffy” in a more expanded sense than what that word tandem basely stipulates, I firmly believe you’re going to get it, but you’re just going to have to throw a couple more handfuls of money at it (or a trade paperback) to confirm yours and my suspicions. And which will make me look like an idiot for also expressing about 1,000 words worth of unfounded reservations here, but hey, it happens. Sometimes you have to be wrong to be right when doing these pieces, and I’m always happy to be if it means more quality, convention-twisting books on the shelves. I remember a little book called THE WALKING DEAD about a decade back where I thought through the first couple issues we were getting “just another zombie book.” All it took was the finishing of the first TPB to know that, oopsie, I was about as way off as all those who said “Guardians of the Galaxy” would be a huge box office flop this summer. And just the fact that I’m invoking such quality pieces of material when finding a comparison point for WAYWARD should undoubtedly show that what we really have here is significantly more likely to land in that “next big thing” basket than the “also ran” one for Misters Zub and Cummings. I look forward to eating those reservations. Cheers…

Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The 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.


AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE #2

Writer: John Lees
Artist: Iain Laurie
Publisher: Comix Tribe
Reviewer: BottleImp


Horror comics have an uphill battle when it comes to delivering a true sense of terror to the reader. In novels, the writer has the luxury of language and length to build up a tone of the macabre. In films and television, words are combined with imagery and (so important when establishing mood) sound effects and music. With horror comic books, the writer must choose his or her words carefully; lengthy descriptions or inner monologues that may be used to great effect in novels must be pared-down and chopped to better fit the constraints of the panel design. The artist must convey the mood without the aid of editing—the pace is determined by how long the reader chooses to linger on each page, not predetermined as in film editing—or sound design. In short, for a horror comic to be truly effective, the writer and artist must DELIVER.

AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE is a horror comic that delivers.

I’m not going to short-change writer John Lees with my praise of this comic. The central plotline is certainly the stuff that solid thrillers are made of. Retired Detective Hellinger and Fiona begin their investigation into the disappearance of Fiona’s friend Emily from the small Scottish island of Merksay, talking with a handful of the odd locals and looking into the strange old ruins that provide the island with much of its folklore. More in the horror vein are the two subplots of the series; in this issue we see that the psychopathic Vin Eckland’s savage killing within issue #1 was not some random act of violence, but an assignment from an agency that might not be entirely of this world. The reader also gets to see what the titular Emily’s father had hidden in the ornate wooden box, and more disturbingly, where it came from. No doubt, the writing is solid.

But it’s the artwork by Iain Laurie that really puts this comic over the top. The genius of having an artist with such an unconventional, “indie” style drawing a book like this is that his artwork lends the entire comic a disturbing feeling of unreality. If this series had chosen to go with a more realistic approach to the visuals, there’s the chance that the artist might have achieved a feeling of horror in some of the panels depicting the odder elements of the story. But I don’t think that a naturalistic approach to the story would have achieved the sheer sense of unease and dread that is conveyed by Laurie’s grotesque and off-kilter drawings. In my review of the first issue I mentioned David Lynch; in reading this second chapter I was reminded once again of Lynch’s films, especially the way that the best of them create a world that combines the solid “real world” we live in with a nightmarish, surreal vision of the unearthly. It is this same quality that Laurie (aided by the beautifully subtle coloring by Megan Wilson) brings to AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE.

I can’t wait to see what’s coming next, even as I’m afraid to see what is going to happen. Whatever the medium may be, this is the ultimate goal of the horror story. And this is what AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE is bringing to readers. Horror fans should put this title on their must-read lists… then sit back and let yourself become enveloped in the comic’s cold sense of dread.


BOB’S BURGERS #1

Writers: Mike Olsen, Jeff Drake, Rachel Hastings, Justin Hook
Artists: Brad Rader, Tony Gennaro, Frank Forte, Bernard Derriman
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Frida Gurewitz


Initially when BOB'S BURGERS hit TV, I could tell it wasn’t really sure of its identity. Was it more similar to FAMILY GUY? Or was it more of a FUTURAMA? In reality, it’s neither of those. BOB'S BURGERS has grown into a show that is heartwarming, hilarious, and nothing else on T.V. It’s almost iconic. I maybe using that word a bit over dramatically but it gets the point across. Like a lot of other cartoons, be they meant for adult or children, BOB'S BURGERS has transferred into the world of comics.

When I bought the issue at my local comic shop, the attendant informed me that this had been their second batch of comics. They’d sold out their first the previous day. As far I can tell the comics just as funny and popular as the show is. The way each issue seems to be set up is as so: five stories for each of the five family members. We’ve got “ Tina’s Erotic Friend Fiction Presents”, Bob’s “ Burger of day ideas”, “Louise’s Unsolved Mysteries and Curious Curiosities”, “ Letters from Linda”, and “Gene Belcher Presents”. This style is most well suited for the type of writing and humor that BOB'S BURGERS is known for. It functions similarly to the television show, with an A, B, and C story. Except there is a D story and an E story as well. Each character is different. Overall the thing is riddled with jokes and references to the show.

I don’t think you could read this and get it if you didn’t watch the show. I’m not sure if you would read it if you didn’t watch the show. I think personally my favorite is the erotic friend fiction. This issue is titled “My So-Called Life as Horse”. I think it’s especially funny and clever to make an allusion to another famous moody teenage girl. The kids’ sections are all longer than Bobs and Linda’s sections. This maybe because the humor of Lois, Gene, and Tina is more transferable to print then Linda and Bob’s “funny” is. The humor does lack something without the voice acting. It lacks a certain “oomph” and body without voices. It feels a little more child-like than the show does. The shows a little more adult. A little more tongue in cheek.

Each section has a different writer and different artist. They each function singularly on their own and together as a whole thing. None of the art is particularly mind blowing or revolutionary but it’s good. It reflects the style of art in the show. Which also isn’t particularly mind blowing or revolutionary but it’s fun. It’s absurd and funny. It suits the humor. The comic in comparison to the show isn’t as sparkling. It doesn’t make me laugh as much. But in comparison to other comics it does make me laugh. BOB'S BURGERS still has the same heart warming honest humor as the show.


SECRET ORIGINS #5

Writer: Various
Artist: Various
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man


I don't know about you but I love me some Secret Origins. DC's old series after the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, oversee by Roy Thomas, was excellent. Now that we are in the NEW 52, it makes sense that DC is doing a series again. Off the bat though, cramming three origins in one issue is a bit tight and often doesn't let a writer do much more than bullet point about a characters life. In this issue, we get Cyborg, Red Hood, and Mera.

Taking them out of order, I'll chat about Red Hood first, by Scott Lobdell and Jack Herbert. For you old schoolers out there, DC has decided to hang on to Jason Todd's post-Crisis origin by Max Collins: punk kid off the streets (opposed to the Dick Grayson 'clone' by Doug Moench). Lobdell does a decent enough job telling us about Jason in the space he is given- but since Jason comes into this with 20 some years of history (becoming Robin, getting killed, coming back to life, becoming Red Hood), it's hard to do any else but a bullet point presentation on Jason. But that's what DC wants to do in-order to attract new readers, so what ya gotta do?

Next Cyborg, written by- holy crap does that say Marv Wolfman!? Kind of weird to have Marv Wolfman retell a tale retold by Geoff Johns of a Marv Wolfman story, but that's comics. Thankfully, in the New 52 Cyborg doesn't have 20 some years of history anymore, so Wolfman can actually build a little more of a story here (On a side note, I was never crazy about cyborg being a perfect being- awesome athlete and awesome academic. The guy had no flaws, until his accident- but now he's superpowered! Bummer, huh). What makes this origin, drawn by Edgar Salazar, stand out is Wolfman's insight on the final page. Really powerful. Though I feel Wolfman could have built up to it better. On some level it just seems like Cyborg's father never changed and the only reason they have a better relationship today is because Cyborg was forced to give up sports.

Lastly there's Mera, wife of Aquaman. Again , without 20 some years of history, in the New 52, writer Jeff Parker (current AQUAMAN scribe) has space to tell a story. Which is Mera meeting Aquaman. Seeing how Mera was raised and then getting the biggest curve ball in her life, meeting Aquaman. It's a nice balance between all Geoff John's new mythology, and Aquaman just being Aquaman (the angry hook guy from the 90's wouldn't have worked here). Mind you, the whole, your mission is to free business is way too heavy handed- and what's up with Mera's father always wearing a 'motorcycle helmet'? Still a nice tale, draw by Daniel Hdr.

So despite its format trouble, SECRET ORIGINS does manage to entertain at times. And even for people skipping out on the New 52, SECRET ORIGINS is a great way to checkout what's going on with everyone, and see who might be worth reading again.


In stores in October!

GONERS #1

Writer: Jacob Semahn
Artist: Jorge Corona
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche


GONERS is to the ghouls and ghosts side of comics, that INVINCIBLE is to the superhero set. Just like Kirkman and Ottley took a personal look at a world where capes walk among us before showing what kind of world that fashioned, Sehman and Corona cast the same lens at a world where the lines between life and death are crossed daily and sometimes televised for all the world to see.

GONERS are everywhere, as commonplace as car thieves or the Moms trying to hock crappy jewelry or Tupperware on Facebook. Unlike our own protectors from the evils of this world, those who battle against death incarnate hold a status of enormous celebrity. The most famous of this hunting breed are the Latimers, a husband and wife duo that run headfirst into danger at the first sign of dark snarling shadows. Don’t get too attached tough since they are about to die; leaving their kids, teen Zoe and younger brother Josiah, to fight the undead legions ripping the state of Massachusetts asunder.

Mystery wrapped in puzzle is the best way to describe the plot of this issue. While there are amazing first moments delivered by Corona’s cartoony yet gruesome pencils (hence the strong INVINVIBLE vibe), the frantic paced plot never lets you linger too long before more clues come at you about the grander picture.

Zoe and Josiah are the central players, but a grizzled detective along with the Latimer’s version of house-man (think Alfred but less waifish), stand at the ready to protect the teens when the same creatures that killed their parents come a courting for the kids.

GONERS will confuse you and if it doesn’t please share with me your secret to soothsaying. Each moment and scene in this issue as allude, just as when Mark went to toss garbage in a dumpster in INVINCIBLE before we learn his super parentage. GONERS is playing the same long-tail game in a world where unfortunately most series only get one arc to show their stuff. Confusing isn’t a bad state for a comic book, the best of mysteries are often shrouded with infinite layers of misdirection. However, I have seen this type of enticement hurt books as readily as help them. There is no rhyme or reason to this phenomenon, since terrible books have soared and wonderful books festered. While no creators ever want to spoon feed a story, I will encourage GONERS to leave the myopic moment for some panels in issue 2 to show the grander scope of how the whole land lives in fear of things that go bump in the night.

The GONERS team stands on the cusp of comic greatness. I merely offer the suggestion for some kind of preamble or roadmap to guide those who need GPS for the journey as opposed to those of us who want the road to unfold before them.

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


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

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