(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: BATMAN: FUTURE’S END #1
ORIGINAL SIN #8
GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS #1
BATMAN BEYOND UNIVERSE #13
DEATH OF WOLVERINE #1
GRENDEL VS THE SHADOW #1
HAWKEYE VS DEADPOOL #0
GRAYSON: FUTURE’S END #1
HAWKEYE VS DEADPOOL #0
Advance Review: JOHN CARPENTER’S ASYLUM #1-6
In stores today!
FUTURE’S END: BATMAN #1Writer: Ray Fawkes
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Ahhh, September: as the world grows darker faster and my commute time increases 20% because fucking soccer moms feel the need reenact the bon voyage from Titanic each time their little bastards get on the school bus, I really only derive one joy from this time of year in my adult life: The Big 2 throwdown, baby.
• 2011, DC drops the mic with the New 52 launch
• 2012, DC fills in information gaps with zero issues, while Marvel soft boots with a Now imperative.
• 2013, DC delivers a month of villains and an insanely complex cover and retailer ordering process, while Marvel dials in more…Now. Not then, Now Now.
As we look at the 2014 event cycle, part of me feels that while Marvel may dominate the box office they may be sucking DC’s strategy wake with their upcoming gender transformations and demographic swaps in the name of progress. I’ll never dump on a project before fruition from a review perspective (cause at work I have to dump on ideation all the time, so it’s nice to take a break and just be for my hobbies), but I can’t help speculating while DC takes an opportunity to expand upon the surprise hit of FUTURES END with an entire month looking at DC 5 years from now.
That’s right: I said surprise hit. Quite frankly, I have been more engaged with the ancillary titles here than in any other big DC crossover as of late. This event feels more real because of its future spin and the fact other stories happening right now simply can’t contradict the events. “Forever Evil” simply garnered too much confusion as delays in delivery were revealing events in the main story that were already spoiled in character titles that had moved on (or at least moved according to schedule).
I was also not expecting much from FUTURES END besides a just the tip chronological copy of ARMAGEDDON 2001 (since 5 years is less than the decade jump that made Hawk a star). In the beginning this series seemed to simply be a story-based reason to say goodbye to failed titles and play some high level soothsaying into a tomorrow for a universe still establishing its today. However, as the tale progressed many of the characters I hated in their own books, like Grifter, actually became truly interesting chess pieces in this plot of Brother Eye domination.
There has also been redemption for characters who I feel were not given just desserts in the New 52 reflection of continuity. Mr. Terrific suffered from too many smart rich guys on one Earth. Also, Tim Drake has really needed a character since his ward wings were clipped and his Titans keep hitting the reset button looking for a winning tone and place. Then, of course, there is the bringing forward of Terry McGuiness from his Beyond continuity to main. While I love seeing Terry come face-to-face with characters who aren’t ready to wither to dust, I fear this change most since it will mean the creation of some new quantum strings in a few years if current continuity holds.
But that’s tomorrow; for now I am simply going to revel and this week I invite you to revel with me in this BATMAN offering.
I’m torn—really, really torn. Fawkes is no second banana; he’s been on his own and supporting the work of Snyder for awhile now, so it’s certainly strange to see him in what are traditionally AA ball events. He lives up to his mettle, but I feel is ultimately wasted in what needs to be a quick issue for plot movement versus real explorations of the themes implied here.
The inevitability of age, the passion of legacy and the inevitability of entropy are all themes that Fawkes could devour if he was given an entire arc to play with, because in 5 years’ time Bruce is a wreck: the war of the worlds that occurred seems to have aged him 10 years for every one that has passed.
This rapid aging is unsettling for me, even though it drives the awesome story in which Batman wants to steal some Lexcorp cloning tech because no member of the bat family can ever hope to be Bruce. Sure it’s arrogant, but Batman is a man, or bat, of logic and reason. If the kids suck, the kids suck, and I expect no less than even a maniacal approach to justice that is simply a Lazarus line away from megalomaniac if the means justify a better end.
Holy shit does he look old, though. The New 52 was supposed to be a Botox exercise for heroes of a certain age, but in this issue Bruce’s 40 or so years have him in a state where he could ask Clint Eastwood for his approach to smooth and healthy skin. I’m going to blame ACO here I guess, and hope my problems are rendering based versus a stupid story choice to make Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the Darkseid war a disease more akin to Progeria. 5 years, not 50, guys. Think Christian Bale in the last movie: broken, but physically not too weathered from messy insides.
I won’t say whether the cloning works or not, because it is ancillary to great moments like a Lex Luthor holosecurity system that chides as well as protects and more Alfred and Bruce end days magic. Now, I will say we should all keep a careful eye on the fact that Lex hasn’t been able to clone jackshit successfully and I think we all might be in for a wee bit of genetic breakdown as Batclone is embedded into the FUTURES END endgame. I have no confirmation here, just speculation.
I dig this crossover fully, and this issue like ACTION last week will be a plot lynchpin as the event heats up against Marvel’s attempt to Flame On the sales charts. I simply ask to please give these pieces care. ACO did an OK job, but I just don’t agree with how grizzled they, he, she, it…whatever have made Bruce, and how sloppy some of the action gets towards the end. There’s one scene where the Lex security emits gas and it looks like a Salvador Dali ray was used instead.
Like Whitesnake, I don’t know where FUTURES END is headed, but I sure know and like where it has been.
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.
ORIGINAL SIN #8Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Deodato
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Often times big event crossovers aren't bad, they are just poorly executed, especially at Marvel. SECRET INVASION, FEAR ITSELF, AGE OF ULTRON, INFINITY--all really cool ideas, just poorly pulled off. Sadly, ORIGINAL SIN falls into the same category.
First off, since I like to ask smart alec questions, why was this even called ORIGINAL SIN? It had nothing to do with “Original Sin”, or even one sin that caused a domino effect of sins. It did have everything to do with murder, which leads me to believe (as I had previously thought) that Aaron thinks murder is Original Sin. Now you can wikipedia it, or just take my word for it: it's not.
Moving more into the story, ORIGINAL SIN nearly goes down the same road as INFINITY did, telling two stories that barely connect at the same time, which results in neither story being told effectively. Even though Nick Fury's extracurricular activities and the murder of The Watcher are both very interesting ideas, presented as they were, they did nothing to make each other better, which should be the goal if you are going to tell two stories at the same time. So, as I said, poorly executed. Which is a shame, because Aaron is usually a great writer.
Now let's give some credit to ORIGINAL SIN. We all like to b!tch about an artist who can't finish one of these event crossovers. Well, hats off to Mike Deodato, because he managed to draw the whole thing with only a slight delay (two weeks, and it was bi-weekly). On top of that, it all looked great! Let's face it, when Deodato first hit the scene in the 90s he was a bad Image clone artist. Since then, he has become an amazing comic book artist. Each character, object, action, and panel in this book all looks great. I'll still say the pages themselves are a little too much like a miniature painting- everything is scaled too small and too well-detailed for such small pages (probably because Deodato drew all or part of it on a computer, where he could zoom in for super details). If an oversized version of ORIGINAL SIN ever gets released, it will be amazing.
Getting into the plot of this finale (spoilers, fool), I can't believe Aaron dragged out Nick Fury's confession of killing The Watcher this long! Didn't we all guess this by issue 4? At which point it's not so much a reveal, but annoying. Two, Fury finally, as teased earlier, went off to that big spy headquarters in the sky (As I mentioned during the fake out, I still totally believe this is a Disney move to get rid of the non-movie Nick Fury). I'd also say killing a character once--holy sh!t, killing him twice in the same story--really? But maybe I don't have enough fan love for Fury. The final slug-fest was fun enough, the defeat of Dr. Midas and all. Although I feel giving The Orb another eye where an eye doesn't belong is just redundant. What happens to the Winter Soldier makes sense, but again something we already guessed by issue five.
Now to go off the rails, I'm going to commit a cardinal sin of reviewing--rewriting the story. Purists may feel free to skip this paragraph. But one question, which I feel was important, was never answered in the story: who was bankrolling Nick Fury's extracurricular activities? I have a hard time believing it was just stuff he borrowed from S.H.I.E.L.D. Thinking about this, some four issues ago, I came up with this idea. The Watcher is behind all of Nick's intel and equipment. This would answer the question, and create a stronger bond between the two stories. Plus it would be interesting to learn that the Watcher had been breaking his oath for years (which would tie into the zero issue really well). Then toss in something about his subconscious guilt reaching out to The Orb- his secret sin (breaking his vow) causing all this sh!t to go down. The killer could be any villain, but it would be The Watcher's guilt that allowed him to be killed. But I'm not the writer, and it's not really fair for me to rewrite Aaron's playbook. To a degree, I write this down as an example of how to combine two stories into one.
Lastly, let's talk lasting ramifications of the book: who cares? And I don't mean that in a micro sense, as in 'I don't care about the impact of this story'. I mean it in a macro sense, as in all big event crossovers: who cares? Seriously, unless we are talking CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, the 'lasting ramifications' of event crossovers are usually lame and extremely temporary. At best we get a good spinoff comic book (like SUICIDE SQUAD or INFINITY WATCH). What's far more important, and what should be the determining factor in you purchasing and reading these event crossovers (just like with any comic book) is: their quality and entertainment value. In most cases, I'd even argue crossover events with the least amount of continuity changes are better books. The ones with the most (except COIE, yes, yes) are often the weakest, because they spend so much time setting up 'important changes' they forget to tell a good story. That said, with its great-looking art, cool story ideas and muddled storytelling, ORIGINAL SIN scores a DECENT on the Masked Man's scale of CRAP, POOR, DECENT, GOOD, and GREAT.
GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS #1Writer: Ryan Browne
Art: Ryan Browne
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Frida Gurewitz
There is perhaps only way to describe GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS. GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS is ridiculous. No, wait, I know a better word for it. GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS is REDONKILOUS. It is balls out, no apologies, weird. It goes there and then decides that “there” is too boring for it and goes 10 more miles. It’s like nothing I’ve seen on the market recently. I couldn’t love it more. It’s the most weird, fun, original thing I’ve read in any form of reading recently.
GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS was written and drawn by Ryan Browne or, as he’s called on the inside cover, Ryan “What do you mean it’s not butter” Browne. Browne dives head first into the pool of weirdness with characters like Admiral Tiger Eating A Cheeseburger and Lord Astro-Farmer who is in love with a chicken named Hennifer. It goes places my brain couldn’t even fathom going. The story focuses on two equally strange worlds that are on the brink of conflict with one another. One is ruled by King Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger, who rules over a legion of crabmen. The second is a galaxy that the Power Persons 5 and their leader Star Grass, a ghost cow head on a former superhero’s body, protect from crazy Astronaut Farmers trying to get to the moon. It’s ridiculous, yes. But there is a thread of continuity, story arc, and structure that is very well defined and put together. It is stronger than a lot of comics I’ve read. Though the story itself is weird and very nontraditional, the structure and the way the story progresses is very traditional. Browne knows what he’s doing when it comes to writing. The tone’s goal is weirdness, and he fulfills that goal with a solid foundation of a humorous and unique voice. Overall, the piece is very confident in itself, and it has the cojones to back it up.
Browne also does GHA’s art. The coloring is done by Jordan Boyd, or Jordan “Don’t call me Jordan” Boyd, as the inside cover calls him (each member of the creative team is given a ridiculous nickname. I dig it.) The art just helps to realize Browne’s absurd and wacky vision. Men with crab heads, over-sketched and over-lined explosions, lots of deep shadows and highlights. The sound effects are written out in large block letters. The effects are literal. Instead of the traditional “boom” and “pow”, they are words like “death toss” and “maul”. The colors are almost sunset-like with hints of pastels. People look fleshier and muscles are more pronounced. It’s a twist on a classic. It brings to the life the twisty kookiness of GHA. The art and the words interplay together to highlight and bring to life the weirdness. I think the fact that Browne is both the writer and the artist is the reason why it’s so seamless. He could only really properly execute the strange and funny vision he wanted without it seeming more uncomfortable and less charming. Less like the kook and more like the creep.
Image has hit gold with Browne’s GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS. Very very strange gold. Probably not even gold in the traditional sense. Probably the only sense of gold it would be golden fried chicken nuggets.
BATMAN BEYOND UNIVERSE #13Writers: Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel
Artists: Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur, Craig Rousseau & Thony Silas
Published by: DC Comics
Reviewed by: BottleImp
With DC’s “New 52” rebranding a few years ago, I lamented the fact that this company-wide kind-of-a-reboot jettisoned decades’ worth of continuity and characters (except in a few isolated cases where DC was apparently trying to keep a few creators happy) in favor of a pseudo-clean slate. Not that I’m against the idea of a clean start for characters that are more than half a century old—it’s just that in this case, the move seemed to come without rhyme or reason, leading to a jumbled mess of the new and the old without evidence of much forethought. Thankfully, some editor at DC had the sharp instincts to preserve a part of the old continuity—a part which, ironically, is one of the newer additions to this old continuity. BATMAN BEYOND UNIVERSE is one of the brighter titles of the New 52, and it is precisely because this comic is built on a wealth of continuity created by some of the people who did The Batman better than anyone else. Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and other talented writers and artists created a rich tapestry in their animated vision of a future Neo-Gotham protected by a new, young Batman, and now their vision is carried forward in this series.
I’ve picked up earlier issues of BATMAN BEYOND UNIVERSE before and enjoyed them, but when I saw the cover for this thirteenth issue, I knew I had to read it. Writers Higgins and Siegel are weaving the continuity of the BATMAN BEYOND cartoon even closer to its forbear, the groundbreaking BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, with an appearance by a character suggested by a throwaway scene in an episode of the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED series that served as a coda to BATMAN BEYOND. That character is The Phantasm, and if you don’t know who that is, I recommend you stop what you’re doing right now and go watch BATMAN: THE MASK OF THE PHANTASM—possibly the best theatrical Batman movie EVER.
That’s right--continuity is the name of this game, as Higgins and Siegel tie together dangling threads from the above-mentioned cartoons with threads that were laid earlier on in this comic book series. Terry McGinnis finally comes face-to-face with the man responsible for the death of his father, a man with ties of his own to McGinnis’ mentor Bruce Wayne and his tragic past. The new Batman is confronted with an ethical dilemma, however, as his father’s killer is a man who is trying to atone for his past sins. Into this quandary comes the mysterious figure from Wayne’s past, The Phantasm, making a mystery that has its roots both in the past and present (or for us, the future). But there’s even more at play here.
If BATMAN: THE MASK OF THE PHANTASM is one of the best theatrical iterations of the Batman mythos, then BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER is one of the best Batman stories created for the small screen. Plot points from this dark storyline, specifically ones pertaining to the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Barbara Gordon, are revisited and expanded upon in this issue. What do they have to do with The Phantasm? I don’t know, but I’m certainly eager to find out.
The art in this issue is a piecemeal, by-committee affair, with the comic split up into three distinct looks by four different artists. Usually this sort of thing would be distracting, but the art has been wisely divided according to the time periods in which the story is taking place. Flashbacks to the earlier, pre-BATMAN BEYOND timeline where Bruce still wore the cape and cowl are rendered in a style highly evocative of Bruce Timm’s superlative animation designs, whereas scenes set in the “present” time of Neo-Gotham have a less animated and more “comic-booky” feel to them. But even these pages (which I’m pretty sure are the work of Phil Hester, though the credits don’t list each artist’s specific page contributions) are drawn with an angular stylization that fits in well with the look of the cartoon series, giving the entire issue a nice sense of unity even with the myriad hands at work.
I’m all for fresh, new storytelling—but when the stories that have already been told make up such a rich universe for writers and artists to play in, I embrace the past as much as the creative team of BATMAN BEYOND UNIVERSE does. If you’re a fan of DC’s landmark animation spearheaded by Timm and Dini, this comic will definitely be for 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.
THE DEATH OF WOLVERINE #1Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Steve McNiven
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Well, I'm drunk again...dammit, maybe I shouldn't keep starting reviews this way. Two of my good buddies just moved to the Virgin Islands, one of which is named Logan, a big man that you wouldn't want to cross. He's the type of guy that will proclaim his opinion adamantly and back it up with cold hard facts--the dude is smart. One of his opinions (he doesn't read comics) was that Wolverine was the best there was, no matter what anyone said, and Ol’ Kletus couldn't argue with him and didn't want to...so upon hearing about this series he said in a very serious tone "HOW CAN WOLVERINE DIE?!?" This was my exact thought when I read about this comic, but I was wildly curious, plus Steve McNiven is on art, so how could I not check it out? Which leads us to my review of THE DEATH OF WOLVERINE #1.
First things first, it's Steve McNiven on art, so you know that you'll be looking at some fantastic pages. I've never seen a bad page from McNiven: from NEW AVENGERS to CIVIL WAR to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN to OLD MAN LOGAN, his art has always stood out to me. Marvel's art in general seems to be taking a very indie approach to some of its books like HAWKEYE, MOON KNIGHT, STORM, MAGNETO, SILVER SURFER, SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN and SHE-HULK, just to name a few, that have a more grounded style that I love and really works great for those books. A story like this, though, you have to pull out your Sunday finest and blast the reader’s face (heh) with images that are going make their eyes weep with awesomeness then yearn for more. Shit, I guess what I'm trying to say is the art is awesome so don't worry your pretty little head, true believers! The writer Charles Soule (SHE-HULK) is a wild man. I think he had about 8 books coming out in one month and is also currently working as a full-time lawyer in New York City...I guess that makes me lazy as sunbathing gator in the middle of June on the banks of Praines Prairie.
Anywho, this is a simple story that is a logical continuation of Wolverine's recent loss of his healing factor thus leaving him open to permanent injury, which as you could imagine may entice one or two people to take the opportunity to put down the old Canuck for good. I like this story because it's simple: Wolverine has a lot of enemies, they know he's vulnerable, and they are coming to get him. We all know that Wolverine probably won't die and if he does, then he'll most likely be back soon, so try not to lose your shit just yet, folks. My buddy Steven had prophesized that Magneto would be become the new Xavier, but my prediction is that Wolverine will be crippled by the end of this series and fulfill that role, seeing that he's already kind of on his way there as the headmaster of the Jean Grey School. That being said, I think the “Death” will really mean Logan won't be on every team and just be a little less exposed than what we've been used to since the first X-Men movie propelled the hairy Canadian to superstar status. This book has exactly what any Wolverine fan wants to see--Wolverine being a badass, bloody fights, and whiskey--so just buy the damn book bub! It may not change your life but it will definitely entertain you.
Charles Soule is becoming one of my new favorite writers, and I'm glad Marvel has given him a higher profile book. The premise is simple and doesn't require you to know any backstory, as it drops you directly into Wolverine's current problem which quickly escalates into more problems. The art is completely solid and once I knew it was McNiven, I was wholeheartedly onboard and not one panel let me down. Much like my friend Logan, Wolverine is a strong, loyal, honorable man that I'm going to miss seeing around as much I used to (until I go to the Virgin Islands to visit him). I'm sure Wolverine will still play a prominent role in the Marvel Universe somehow, but he will definitely be retired from being the best there is at what he does for a while. Who knows, maybe my buddy Logan can fill in for Mr. Howlett in the meantime.
GRENDEL VS THE SHADOW #1Writer / Artist: Matt Wagner
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man
If there's one thing the comic book world needs more of it's Matt Wagner art. This guy just doesn't draw enough, IMHO. As of late, it seems like all he does is write these days. I know it's much less laborious to write a comic book than draw it, but damn, Wagner, it's been too long. Funny thing is, I also find Wagner's writing superior on comics he's also drawing. Now, as you may have guessed, I enjoyed this comic book.
Like a lot of comic book companies, Dynamite's productions are very hit and miss, though when Dynamite misses, they usually miss pretty bad. Though now after years of having Wagner write some just average comic books for them, they've convinced him to draw one (using his own creation Grendel probably helped a lot). So far the result is far above average. To be fair, it's a bit of a set up issue, but Wagner really gets both of these characters (well, duh with Grendel) and immediately sets them on a collision course, which is what we've come to see! Too often, though, I find writers getting too clever with their crossovers. Instead of just giving us what we want, like KING KONG VS GODZILLA, they feel it's their duty to reinvent the wheel, going off on some tangent in hopes of making their story more original and deeper, though this usually just robs the story of its original appeal and creates dull and confusing sub-plots. This is not to say the writer can get lazy. They should still work hard at building a good framework for these battles, but doing any more than that is a very slippery slope.
Matt Wagner totally seems to get this (though he did make the awesome BATMAN VS GRENDEL mini-series too). Very quickly in this issue Wagner introduces Grendel (his long-running villain who is one part Kingpin, one part ninja) and his means of traveling to the 1930's so he can slug it out with The Shadow. Without overthinking any of this, Wagner creates a simple, comic book creditable way to get Grendel into the past. He even takes the time to show off 1930s New York to Grendel, which is all really nice. Next Wagner quickly moves into the plot. Seems a high level mob boss is dying and a gang war is brewing. The Shadow hopes to curb it by killing any mobsters getting uppity. The Grendel, with his 'carpe diem' attitude, accepts his new surroundingss and decides to take advantage of it all, so he plans to fill the void of the dying mobster, before anyone can. Each character is presented as a force of nature, so when the two finally square off on the last page, you just can't frick'n wait to get the next issue.
Now sure, it would be nice if Wagner digs deeper into how the Grendel got there, and what the greater ramifications of it all are, but this is not necessary, and in all likelihood it would derail the story into mumbo- jumbo that no one really cares about. It can be done, it's just not very easy, so why risk it?
Artwork-wise, this is all typical Matt Wagner goodness--bold figures in a bold world. His work has gotten more detailed over the years, but he has managed to keep the simple beauty of his figures and environments as well. He knows how to add just enough to make everything look impressive. With his history on characters like Batman, Zorro and The Sandman, Wagner is a natural at pulp heroes like The Shadow. This is a great-looking prestige format book (I didn't even know they did those anymore), and dare I suggest a GREEN HORNET VS GRENDEL follow up to this?
Dynamite clearly has got a big winner here. If you have any love of pulp heroes, or are just curious what the hubbub is all about, this is the book to get. A noir battle of titans by a comic book master.
HAWKEYE VS DEADPOOL #0Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Matteo Lolli
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
I am not a man who is above the simple beauty (or possible horror) of taking two great things and just kind of ramrodding them together and assuming (not always correctly) that what will result will be a triumph of mankind. This is why I have over the past few years become a bit of a craft beer enthusiast, as the current zeitgeist of that industry has very much been “you love beer, you love this other shit, let’s give it a whirl!” You want to give me a coffee chocolate stout? Pour it down my gullet please, yes. Porter made with pecans and aged in whisky barrels (thank you Wil Wheaton)? Do it to it. Maple bacon donut ale?...eh, okay, that’s the kind of terrible bullshit that tends to happen when you let things get out of hand. There is too much of a good thing sometimes, and the point is how far to take these combinations or if they were worthy to even match up in the first place. And if there’s any industry that has a penchant for taking a good thing, throwing it in the fermenter with some other good stuff malt, and then kind of filling the kiln with pureed shit to fill it out some more, it’s the comic book business. Two of the properties I definitely feel that Marvel comics are doing pretty right these days are Hawkeye and Deadpool given their current respective runs, though whether we need more books with those characters in them as focal points is another case of “more good stuff” versus diminishing returns. So where does that leave this particular brew?
Eh, tastes and goes down fine but nothing overly exciting (yet) is about where we land.
Now, to take this issue from the ground up, it indeed has a good handle on what makes the current individual series from these two characters so good at the moment. The overall plot – which involves some dude who has stolen SHIELD agent files and gets his ass murdered over them – comes together with these two quirk machine characters in the midst of some trick or treating. While we’re getting little shots of this identity thief getting himself in over his head between the information he’s hauling and the very bad murdering type people who want it, there are little gags a-plenty about how Hawkeye was the “full sized candy bar guy” last year but is now “fun sized guy” and bumming everyone out. Meanwhile, Deadpool is Deadpool. Here he’s not so much the “Merc With a Mouth” version but “Merc with Pointed Observational Humor,” as his comedic contribution to this issue is not so much the lines and lines (and lines!) of text that throw anything and everything at your funny bone in order to vibrate it right, but more a mix of pinpoint gags involving the current shenanigans with the occasional outburst of what the fuck.
Overall it does combine well, do not get me wrong. If you are a fan of what the individual books of these characters are currently achieving with them, this is a nice distillation of the two. But that’s also the thing: it’s kind of just the “lite” versions of the two mixed and put together in a wacky and cartoonishly violent happenstance. We get just a little bit of that dichotomy of highly-skilled ass kicker meets person who does not really quite understand how the real world works from this showing of Clint Barton that Matt Fraction used to make his home book one of the best of the past decade, and Duggan brings over a little bit of the weird familial material he and Brian Posehn have improbably brought to the ever-growing and consuming Deadpoolverse and that has created some shocking emotional depth in that title. But that’s not what this book is about, obviously. It’s mostly about bringing the two together to share some time kind of doing smaller scale performances of what they individually do in their own books and seeing if they can get a few more bucks for those who are willing to shell it out to see more of those characters, and in that regard this is indeed a very serviceable Team Up book.
Serviceable is also the best way to put the plot that binds the two together, I would say. Like I said earlier, in the midst of Candy Bar Gate and the jokes surrounding that situation, we get a tech nerd being chased down by violent-looking men dressed as the Punisher and Daredevil sent to get his laptop for secret goodies. Invariably DP and Hawkguy tussle with these gents, people get hit with bullets, arrowes, and even buses, and then more such violence is to be assumed to be coming as the series progresses. Matteo Lolli’s art plays it all along just dandy as well. Good panel flow for the action, nice exaggeration in movement and facial expressions to sell the cartoony action and the jokes, and it even incorporates some of the visual storytelling techniques that David Aja kind of blew us away with in his and Fraction’s HAWKEYE. It’s all enjoyable material for those who just want more enjoyable material including these characters; of that I will not try to dissuade anyone. I personally did (and still do sort of) want that experience when I decided to drop five bucks on this team up, until I polished it off it and realized it would be costing me that much money for a handful of months to continue.
As solid as this issue was, I think my eyes were bigger than my stomach when it came to downing this particular brew, to bring that analogy home. I guess maybe it’s a case of even my having “too much of a good thing” limits, and right now I think I just have enough with the solo jaunts of these off-kilter crime fighters to double down on this title. I definitely foresee myself having another one of these cravings in the future though (especially with HAWKEYE coming to a close soon) and I’m thinking the finished product of this miniseries in trade paperback form will make a nice afternoon indulgence. In the meantime, though, there are just too many indulgences out there for me to sample with my discretionary income. Plus it’s pumpkin ale season, and who doesn’t love combining delicious gourds with bad decision-making juice? Make your mistakes delicious is my philosophy. 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.
GRAYSON: FUTURES END #1Writers: Tom King, Tim Seeley
Artist: Stephen Mooney
Publisher: DC Comics
Optimous Douche and I usually see eye to eye when it comes to comics, and I agree that the GRAYSON series up to this point has been lacking in many departments, particularly in its character depiction.
But GRAYSON: FUTURES END doesn't feel like the rest of the run, and not just because this is a one shot. The character of Dick Grayson is much more of a natural progression from Boy Wonder, solo superhero, to special-ops/secret agent/spy/mercenary... okay, fine, things are still a bit confusing. Overall the comic is steeped in DC comic history and features a much more recognizable Grayson. The entire issue is meant to establish how Dick has ended up in such precarious situations, a major missing element from #1 and #2. Too bad the whole storyline told here takes place five years in the future. I would much prefer to follow these events than where issue #2 left off. I don't think I can wait five years to see Dick straighten up and fly right.
Besides an understanding that Grayson has left Gotham and costumed hero work behind, readers need not know anything from the prior GRAYSON comics to enjoy FUTURE’S END and that, frankly, is disappointing. Clearly Tom King and Tim Seeley can write Dick well, and it is just frustrating to see that their potential hasn't been reached until now and where the stakes are hardly that high in regards to retaining and gaining readership. This one-shot tells a, for a lack of a better reference, “Memento”-like story. By that I mean the chronology is told in reverse, with various gaps in the time line in between jumps. Back in film school Nolan’s film was a rather contentious subject. The narrative trick it featured was cool and all, but if you ever have had to suffer watching the film straight forward, you understand that the plot is incredibly weak and boring. GRAYSON: FUTURE’S END, on the other hand, has a strong narrative regardless of its style of storytelling and works if you read it either backwards or forwards or multiple times. That right there gives me some hope for the rest of the series once we jump back to "present day."
I'm a bit more forgiving than Optimous because of my preference towards Dick as a fan girl. I'll freely admit that anything including Dick Grayson is gonna grab my attention and I'll more likely overlook any weaknesses compared to if I was reviewing a Superman or Marvel comic. Simply put, if you aren't already a Dick Grayson fan or were far less than impressed with GRAYSON #1 and 2, then FUTURES END probably isn't worth your time.
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."
CLOAKS #1Writer: Caleb Monroe
Art: Mariano Navarro
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Reviewer: Frida Gurewitz
The well-intentioned rascal. The thief with a heart of gold. It’s a character we’ve come to know and love in multiple forms of media. Multiple Disney movies, STAR WARS, Broadway shows. Those are only naming a few. We love this trope. It’s the equivalent of the bad boy who can be reformed. We eat it up. Boom! Studios’ CLOAKS uses this trope along with a lot of other formulas I’ve seen in other stories. It’s not the most original, groundbreaking story ever but it’s certainly fun.
CLOAKS is written by Caleb Monroe and illustrated by Mariano Navarro. A street magician/thief with a mysterious and sad past is pulled in by a shady agency to help them. Adam D’Aquino is a charming, suave rapscallion. He steals from the public but pawns it off and gives the money to an orphanage—a sort of Robin Hood. He meets a girl. She seems like she’ll be significant though it’s so early, it is impossible to tell. This is definitely something I’ve seen before. Something like a scruffy street rat with a monkey who falls in love with a princess, cough cough. It’s not that it’s not enjoyable but it’s been done. Monroe relies upon archetypes that we’ve become accustomed to. This story pattern is something I’ve seen before: the thief with the heart of gold, the eager-eyed trusting girl, and the shadowy mentor. Monroe utilizes the popular combination. It’s something we know well and love. Adam is charismatic and he’s written rather well. He’s written to be rather three-dimensional despite the trope. A lot of the other elements in the story are underdeveloped. Though the combination is overdone, CLOAKS is not the not the most outlandish, creative piece ever but it’s not the worst. It simply uses a concept I’ve already seen before.
Navarro’s art isn’t particularly revolutionary either. It’s glossy and linear. I could almost describe it as simplistic. It wasn’t bad, but like the rest of CLOAKS my mind was not blown. I wasn’t drooling over the beauty of the art. Navarro’s art reminds me of Karl Moline’s art in Joss Whedon’s FRAY . It uses close ups and movement pretty seamlessly. The way it uses movement goes with Monroe’s use of magic. It focuses on the sleight of hand. It heightens the tension in an otherwise conventional story.
As far as continuing to read this series goes, I can say I probably won’t. I’m not interested enough in this first issue to continue, though if you’re a beginner in the comic world who wants to venture outside of the traditional superheroes and aren’t overly cynical and aware of these tropes and archetypes like myself, I’d suggest it. CLOAKS is basic but it’s fun. What it does, it does well.
HAWKEYE VS. DEADPOOL #0Writer: Gerry Duggan
Art: Matteo Lolli
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
It's like biting into a Reese’s peanut butter cup, but then you remember that you're allergic to peanut butter.
So can we all agree, as a people, that HAWKEYE is the best? I know it gets all the accolades and the Eisners and the everything, but, just, as a fandom of likeminded nerds, that HAWKEYE is really fucking good? In the same way, I think we can also agree that DEADPOOL, as written by Posehn and Gerry Duggan is an incredibly solid book, a clear love letter to the character. So, together, how do they fare? Well…it's not bad. It's definitely not bad. It's just that…it has moments of doing what the best crossovers ever do, which is successfully mimic the strengths of other characters and titles and forces them to interact with a completely different beast. It's just that the entire book can't pull it off.
The book does its level best to mix the two titles into a smooth new product, and, well…it tries. There are inspired moments, mostly when Gerry Duggan is able to use the inventive approaches of those other series to his advantage. With Hawkeye, he's able to do his own broader versions of the stylistic choices Fraction and Aja do over in their book, like the chase panel. It apes the style but does something new with it, and it does work rather well. Where Duggan falters is his attempts to ape Deadpool. While there are some light moments from the character here and there, his dialogue, actions, and generally everything falls flat. Dugan has a grasp on Hawkeye, and a good one at that. Trick 'r treaters come to his house not because he's an Avenger, but because he gives out full size candy bars. And EVERYONE is disappointed by that. That's a solid bit of character, easily getting across what Hawkeye is and how the world perceives him. Deadpool never gets a moment like that.
Matteo Lolli ends up in a similar spot. He's able to do great character acting and dynamic action well, and when he gets to just do extended references to HAWKEYE, the book shines. But when it shifts over to Deadpool, the book becomes a little starker, a little less personable. It's a noticeable shift, and, though I would never necessarily call it bad, it's still not up to snuff with what came before even in that issue alone.
It's the first issue of a crossover, so I'm willing to excuse the annoying amounts of exposition that populate the script; it's par for the course in a first issue. But the problem, the only really big problem with this title is that it doesn't pop. It's trying to juggle two very different styles at the same time, and catches one of them with surprising grace. But the other ball lands flat on his foot and breaks a few toes.
JOHN CARPENTER’S ASYLUM #1-6Issues 1-6 available now, OGN available in October)
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Leonardo Manco
Publisher: Storm King Productions
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Contemplation of good and evil, light and dark, kindness and Kardashian has fascinated our tiny brains since we first grasped at sentience. A few millennia later, John Carpenter helped shaped these concepts for my generation from the overt presentations of HALLOWEEN to the more subtle darkness of the soul in directorial efforts like STARMAN (a Douche favorite for a more mature E.T. experience).
If one thing impressed me the most about this first arc of ASYLUM, it can be summed up with the word “authenticity”. Also, please keep in mind this is one thing in a very long list of accolades that I’ll hit in a few minutes. Celebrity-shilled comics are a painful experience for us reviewer types; these projects are usually contrived by some vapid twit who had a sci fi brain fart after snorting their ADHD meds at a party. This then sends their agent scurrying across Hollywood and beyond to build a comic solely in an effort to sell their intellectual property into other more lucrative mediums. I will never begrudge a comic making it to big leagues in movie form, but never when that is an end to means situation. ASYLUM is an honest to God comic book and you can feel John Carpenter’s creative blood surging through every panel even though Jones and Manco are at the other end of the marionette strings. ASYLUM basks in the Carpenter staples while giving the creator a new playground in which to delight and horrify his legions of fans.
Not to rob from Peter to pay Paul here, but ASYLUM isn’t Carpenter’s only recent foray into comics. To avoid too much embarrassment, there is another big comic property of Carpenter’s that rhymes with “Swig Rubble from Betty’s Vagina,” about a truck driver in a little…vagina. There wasn’t an ounce of the Carpenter voice in this book, other than the literal rip from the movie in the opening panel. Joy, mystery and a true sense of kitsch that fans of the movie so loved are simply absent and void. My point is, if you want to spend more time with Carpenter don’t be too swayed by marketing budgets and your retailer who ordered too many books. ASYLUM is the Carpenter goods in comic form, so accept no substitutes.
The story is John’s take on the battle of good and evil through the collision of dual protagonists playing the opposites of faith and fact. Even the most jaded will admit to being touched by an angel or some inexplicable miracle even if the touching ended up feeling inappropriate. And even the most faithful will admit that the path does sometimes blur. We’ve all known LA is a cesspool of evil for years, but Carpenter, King, and company look beyond the surface evils of agents and starlets to expose the actual terror lurking in Tinseltown: Satan.
Beckett, a priest who has seemingly fallen from divinity yet is still the go-to guy for Xtreme exorcisms. Duran, a cop without faith who simply can’t make sense of the facts before him like angel killers and a growing militia of Satan’s minions ready to nom nom on the Hollywood sign. Together these two not only look to save innocents caught between the evils of man and The Beast, but also find a way to douse some of the darkest corners of their own souls with holy water.
I know on first blush this set-up might seem played out or trite; I’ll fully admit that was my thought as well during the exposition phase of the book. Thing is, though, as we get introduced to what each man will do inside the plot, we also learn who they are behind the role and here is where Jones transcends plot with actual human drama driven by dead-on dialog. We see the gray lines of morality as Beckett struggles with his defrocking and carnal wants, as we watch Duran struggle with a high pressure job, extramarital temptations and the obligations every man eventually faces when he is serving in love for others.
As the city burns, the two men discover themselves and the need for their unique duality to help shelter against the storms of destruction, which they quell temporarily, but simmer in the scenes waiting for issue 7.
Four other honorable mentions should also be extended:
The Hobo Oracle of LA is a definite keeper. His salty prognosticating offered some much needed humor.
Beckett’s Yoda--kind of glad he’s dead. While I get the ol’ wily priest’s mission, we don’t need any Charlies for these angels.
Manco’s art: sweet and tangy Jesus is this stuff beautiful. An Alex Ross darkly who has a better grasp of fluidity.
John Carpenter and Sandy King for making this a truly personalized experience with genuine feelings of gratitude towards the creative team for their hard work. Again, a clear sign that nothing was dialed in on the part of Carpenter for a cash grab. If this series keeps rolling forward as promised, my praise and admiration will only grow.
Love horror, love epic battles, and love John Carpenter? Go love the shit out of ASYLUM.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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