(Click title to go directly to the review)
WONDER WOMAN Motion Picture (2017)
SECRET EMPIRE #3
JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS Vol.1 & THE ARCHIES (One-Shot) Double Shot Review
DARTH VADER #1
I AM GROOT #1
MOON KNIGHT #14
WONDER WOMAN Motion Picture (2017)Directed by Patty Jenkins
Screenplay by Allan Heinberg
Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee
Well, this is awkward. Having reviewed the past two Warner Brothers/DC Comics universe films here, SUICIDE SQUAD and BATMAN V. SUPERMAN, I have almost slipped into disclaimer mode to these movie productions. Not that I remember going light on either of those movies and the reasons why they really didn’t work (BvS very much, SUICIDE SQUAD not so much), but when you have two movies in the row that at the least you could say failed to live up to any sort of potential and at the most you can, well, imagine the worst things the Internet and movie-going public could say about a thing, even as just a guy trying to analyze something and be entertaining about it for a couple thousand words, you start to slip into the defensive. Or at least I do, because at the end of the day, while I may get some pithy words in during a piece like this or bullshitting at my Comic Shop for some of these disasters, I want these movies to be good and successful as these characters have been a part of my life and upbringing for literal decades now.
I will also admit right here, and do somewhat of a disclaimer, I wanted a win for Wonder Woman here pretty badly for a multitude of reasons including the stature of the character and what she means for the half of our species that has a different chromosome set than myself. No, I’m not going to rattle off some sort of Feminist diatribe here that I simply don’t have the space, viewpoint, or experience to even begin to stand firm on, but when you combine the rather shitty record this new wave of WB/DC property films have had with the record of what little female-led superhero flicks (the ELEKTRA’s and CATWOMAN’s of the world) we have gotten, you could see the makings of a disaster. While it is simultaneously unfair (and somewhat hyperbolic) for the expectations and an entire distribution house and a gender to fall one pop cultural experience, it’s really not hard to imagine a reality where this movie does mediocre at best, Warner Brothers really starts to consider this wave of their superhero movies a wash, and other big film houses start citing its failure as another reason to not throw hundred of millions at a blockbuster with a female in the lead spot. When you have the goddamn head of the actual Marvel publishing line saying female superhero movies can’t work because we’ve essentially had two ever featuring characters from Marvel or DC and they were terrible by any standard, it’s not hard to imagine an even slightly underperforming Wonder Woman movie being the death kneel for more of these features for at least a decade.
Thankfully, we do not live in that world. Instead we reside on a plane where, from my opinion, WONDER WOMAN was a the best of these WB productions and a beacon of hope the lineup can improve its so far dismal outputs, was a great interpretation of the character of Princess Diana of Themyscira, and was a global smash hit. Gal Gadot, who before her casting I only knew as the cute but slender and somewhat unassuming eighth member of the FAST FIVE protagonists (when I only watched that for one named “The Rock”) embodied all the traits you want in the character: Grace, ferocity, poise, power, and just a smidge of naïveté. Patty Jenkins from behind the camera and Allan Heinberg from his script put together a nice little adventure for Diana that encompassed humanity at one of its darkest points as a backdrop for the light Diana is to represent as a good way of telling the “origin story” of the character. Oh, and she and it kicked some ass while everyone was at it.
Obviously, I had a lot of enthusiasm and good will going into the movie, but it was hard not to be immediately entranced as the movie kicked up. And as I finally gear into the movie itself, I’m going to say “spoilers beware” simply because I think just talking about some of the themes themselves even without dissecting specific moments could be enough for people who haven’t seen this yet to piece things together. Anyway, the movie starts off absolutely beautifully, with the rendering of Themyscira, finally on the big screen, is every bit of the “Paradise Island” it had been billed as in all my experiences with it on the comic book page. The Amazons, constantly training as the pint-sized and impressionable Diana plays in the midst, are every bit as graceful yet intimidating and regal as they were played to be in those same pages (and the mythology tales I’ve consumed here and there over the years), as well as the mythology that Jenkins unwinds through us in this flashback opening with Queen Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, as sits down to tell Diana the tale of her people.
Presentation, like with this opening in Themyscira, like with Gal’s presence on the screen and so on is exactly why this movie ends up as great and dynamic as it enrapturing as it does. Take the sequence I just ended that last paragraph with. What could have just been a simple interaction over a storybook between Hippolyta and her daughter to give a crash course of the history of the Amazons, the battle of the Gods, Diana’s being made from clay and given life by Zeus, etc, actually ends up being this beautifully rendered, animated sequence like out of a painting showing the god war, the Amazons in their role during the war and in its fallout, and its effect on mankind. Its even leaning just into a “simple” two minute segment like this shows a dedicated effort by Jenkins and company to really sell into everything the material commands, from the magical to the (lets be honest) somewhat ridiculous to the deathly serious. WONDER WOMAN the movie and Wonder Woman as depicted by Gal Gadot and presented by Jenkins is the quality film it is because it’s willing to run a gamut of tone and emotion.
That spectrum runs a full marathon even before Diana leaves the island for the first time. A curious but determined child Diana grows up to be an even more eager and undaunted woman, especially when Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor crosses the magical barrier that keeps Themyscira hidden from the world and unleashes hell on an island untouched by man for millennia. Diana sees the full horror of what her mother warned her about when the gods fell and humankind grew into their own dark ways without them and that eagerness and curiosity turns into resolve to save mankind from what she can only assume is the influence of Ares, the god of War, creeping his influence back into the world in the absence of the other gods. She also sees Steve Trevor’s man thing and kicks off some fish out of water material combined with some great chemistry between the two that then carries the movie forward another act.
Basically, what happens from there is everything that the WB/DC movies have strived to accomplish thus far but failed to do, and that is to achieve a tonal balance. Steve Trevor takes Diana from Paradise into the gapping maw of the lowest point of humanity at that juncture but the movie still manages to not collapse under its own gravitas. The little spark that kicks off almost immediately between Trevor and Diana alone helps fight back the darkness creeping in as we get flashes of the War and the faces the movies puts on it in the forms of General Ludendorff and Dr. Maru, aka Dr. Poison (played by Danny Huston and Elena Anaya, respectively); the mass murderers trying to prolong the war that Trevor was running away from in the first place. While they plot to destroy the growing chance at a treatise to end the war, Trevor takes Diana back to Jolly ol’ England to convince superiors of this threat, but also to do some light-hearted affair involving Diana’s trying to absorb this new world around her for all its delights and foibles. Sure, it’s only about ten minutes, but between that stretch and little bits and moments inserted almost always at the perfect time throughout, WONDER WOMAN provides more cheerfulness than all the other WB/DC products combined so far, and it does it against the backdrop of goddamn mustard gas and the “War to End All Wars.”
And from there the movie ramps up exactly like you would expect into the big climax you would expect, but with a bit of a twist involving some of the side characters down the line, which is appreciated but does underline a couple of the nitpick critiques I do have of the movie. Much as I think this is a truly great superhero movie with all this praise I’ve been heaping and one of the top out there period, not just the top of the WB/DC heap, it does have some bits that stood out as being awkward or underdeveloped. WONDER WOMAN clocks at in a hefty 140 minutes and despite it the pacing does get pushed in that middle bit. The movie goes from a fish out of water routine to the warfront and digging in the trenches, to digging deeper behind enemy lines to find Ludendorff and Poison, to its grand finale in a little bit of a hurried clip. This causes some of the weight the movie is pushing for in moments to not completely set in before moving onto the next sequence. Such as the enjoyable side characters, like the always delightful Lucy Davis as Etta Candy or the ragtag, Captain Americaesque band of infiltrators that Trevor puts together to aid the cause. They add to some of the levity of the movie but they also feel like they weren’t quite there long enough to add to whatever theme they’re there to emphasize and their appearances may have sucked up time spent more fully developing some other facets of the film.
Also, WONDER WOMAN suffers from some pretty shaky (to say the least) Green Screen work as it hits its most climatic of battles once she finally gets to the confrontation she was destined for. It’s not just a case of it not being quite up to snuff because of the stakes of the big fight, but it just looking very out of place and technically unsound. The shame of it is that up until the last fifteen minutes or so, the movie has had some gorgeous, amazingly choreographed fight scenes. If you’ve seen the previews, you’ve seen the shots of Amazons on a beach fighting the Germans and shooting arrows while swinging from ropes or leaping from horses swords drawn, or Diana taking out a full squadron of German soldiers hand-to-hand in full, slow motion glory; and those full sequences are all amazing to behold from all aspects. When we finally get to the big knock down drag out where Diana is finally coming into her full power, you will have your belief in her power shaken by very awkward shots of her fighting against debris that may as well be the tennis balls they put in front of Gal Gadot or you’ll not buy at all the effort at which she is lifting tanks. I don’t know if the production budget hit a wall or we found the one weakness in Patty Jenkins’ game, but a little bit of the “oomph” that should have been had as thunderous fists were exchanged lost a bit of their impact because the impact just looked shoddy.
When “pacing could have been a little better in the middle” and “last fight didn’t quite look right” are the biggest critiques you can level at a movie, I think you have a pretty good movie. And as I lead into this piece with, I admit that there was a part of me going into this movie that was going to be tempted to play things a little “easy” with the production because I, as a fan, want to see a “win” for the characters and the universe. And I know that even admitting I wanted a bit of an extra win for all the women who supposedly can’t helm these things makes me “King Cuck of Matriarchy Mountain” or whatever bullshit inferiority complexes around the world have to tell themselves to sleep better at night, but I like seeing groups that get underrepresented get their time in the limelight as well. But all of that sentimentality dissolved within minutes of this production when I knew everything finally went right for once because creative people were allowed to be creative and talented people got to show off their talents.
Patty Jenkins directed a hell of a film. It’s obvious she went through great pains to properly represent one of the biggest icons of the past century with the proper stature and humanity the character represents and deserves. Likewise, Gal Gadot channeled every bit of those characteristics with a gracefulness that cemented her as being just as intertwined with the character she is playing as her peers in Robert Downy Jr. or Chris Evans are with theirs. Honestly, maybe even moreso given how much more multifaceted the character is in her emotional depth plus her ferocity and what it took to represent her and how well she nailed it all. Chris Pine is charming and a great realistic foil as Steve Trevor to Diana’s wide-eyed optimism. Through them, their budding relationship, and the World War I backdrop, the movie is every bit as uplifting as it is a staggering reminder of low we can stoop before we see the light again and aspire to the better Diana represents. The action is great; the cinematography is great and at times breathtaking. Some aspects of the overall, like a couple of the side characters, got a little shafted for time and/or development and man I wish that last battle was a little tighter, but those are minor quibbles in the overall. This is the WONDER WOMAN movie that the character and her fans deserve and the much needed momentum shift that the DC Extended Universe really needed and has to take advantage of going forward. But even if this is an aberration, it’s a hell of a good one that I think will stand at the front of the superhero film pack for quite some time.
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.
SECRET EMPIRE #3Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Marvel: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Marvel's controversial crossover-event rolls along with the good, the bad and the ugly, here in issue number three. As I continue to read this mini-series, I get the sense that it's more “Else World” than a story set in the Marvel Universe we all know and love. As Spencer is breaking so many dishes, it seems even Kazaam couldn't put 'em all back together (so who got that one?).
So what's the Good? The introduction to the (for lack of a better term) “Dream World” Steve Rogers. It's the only piece of the story so far that is actually interesting to me. As we already saw the Marvel U whipped into submission in AGE OF ULTRON (the comic), and we still haven't gotten that bad taste out of our mouths. But what is the deal with the second Steve Rogers? I'd actually like to know, Mr. Spencer. I also give credit to Spencer for this whole thing. While it's hardly bullet proof, it's a ton of work and he's covering as many bases as he can, to pull it off.
The Bad? Just about everything else: Not one alien race will come to Earth's aid!? Just over a year ago they all owed us big time for the Avengers defeating the Builders (read INFINITY). With no rhyme or reason, the Chitauri's are just an endless horde- seriously, endless. It's a wonder they ever lose since they apparently have infinity resources and manpower. Maria Hill is lecturing Black Widow about working with children!? The children in question are the Champions. Unless Spencer's point is that Maria Hill is an unrepentant, delusional, A-hole- it all makes no sense to me. Then there's the Champions' training exercise, meant to teach them how to make hard choices. But from a life time of reading comics, I know pushing a human bomb away from people, so they can blow-up alone is not a hard choice. It's superheroing 101. Next the former Falcon / former Captain America gives a pseudo Obama speech that the country choose Trump- er Captain Hydra America over him. Yeahhhhhh. Oh, and he has to help people who can fly, sneak out of the country (Hydra only controls the U.S.A.), ala underground railroad. How does that make sense? Henry Pym has gone full crazy and merged himself with Ultron (sure, why not). And now you can add the Punisher to the list of heroes working for Hydra for no reason. Again, how is this not an Elseworld?
The Ugly? Well it might be just me, but Andrea Sorrentino has about the ugliest, least appealing styles in comic books today. I'd take Rob Liefeld over him any day. I can't even tell what he actually drew. And by that I don't mean the images, I mean everything looks like a bad tracing / bad PhotoShop filter over a photo. So did he draw anything, or is it all a tracing. His gray, under-saturated colors (except when it's all red), just adds to the ugliness of everything. Rod Reis' pages on the other hand, look just fine.
I've been accused of not understand a book before. Though I never really felt that to be the case, until this series. Because this is either one of the biggest messes I've ever seen from the big two, or I simply don't get it. I'm happy with either conclusion.
JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS Vol.1 & THE ARCHIES (one-Shot) Double Shot ReviewPublisher: Archie Comics
JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS VOL. 1Writer: Marguerite Bennett and Cameron Deordio
Artist: Audrey Mok
Time for AICN’s first-ever Battle of the Bands!
Up first we have the far from purr-fect JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS. I reviewed issue three of the series back in December, where I found the incessant referencing (to both pop culture and self) exasperating. So much effort was put into trying to appear clever, but it came off as inauthentic. Too bad, as the characters deserved better. Not just Josie and the Pussycats as canonical Archie figures, but this particular iteration of the girls. Even in those earlier issues, but more pronounced in this volume, our heroines have character arcs and complexity that deserved to be fleshed out naturally and not with hokey, unoriginal dialogue. The character-based conflicts felt personal and interesting, but it is hard to overcome conflicts created by absurdist plots. The current series reminds me of the television show from the 1970s, which was wacky and zany but consistent in tone. The show worked alongside other animated programming of the time, but is incongruous with the rest of the modern Archie universe.
It is, however, a better manga than it is a comic. Have at me if you want in the comment section, but I believe there are enough tropic differences between the two multimodal genres to separate the two. Audrey Mok’s drawings struck a chord with me. Combined with the outrageous antics, Melody’s over-the-top reactions to… everything, and it begins to make some sense that the series should have been marketed as an American-style manga. I truly believe that if Archie Comics had pulled off all the stops, taken it all the way to re-arranging the paneling forcing American audiences to go right to left, that comic would feel less hokey and more authentic.
JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS continue to tour, with issue #7 coming out this week. For a double-header of Riverdale musicians, the publisher also released last week a one-shot of THE ARCHIES.
THE ARCHIES (One-Shot)Writer: Alex Segura and Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Joe Eisma
Poor Archie Andrews. Performing as a solo artist just can’t get him no satisfaction. He thinks his cool songs are put to better use when played with a band. But he is just too busy to socialize and find bandmates. Luckily, his best friend Jughead just happens to have an uncle that runs a club… and a cousin who books bands… who just happens to need an act… and did I mention this ex-machina best buddy of Archie’s is also a drummer?
The issue is double-sized so there are plenty of foreseeable conflicts and twists that arise, but it is hard to care with a character so fraught with privileged internal conflict. Maybe my review was doomed from the start. The musical Archie storyline was the worst part of the RIVERDALE TV series. The Pussycats were clearly the better band in the show and better characters. So how do the two pair up in the comic world?
Despite all my caterwauling over Bennett and Deordio’s writing, I still gotta declare JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS the victors. THE ARCHIES, despite artist Joe Eisma’s hip aesthetic, is just too square. At least Bennett and Deordio’s jokes were timely, even if cheesy. THE ARCHIES’s plot contrivances are archaic, best left to a nostalgic 1950s dream.
The best thing about Archie Comics nowadays is… everything but Archie. The characterization of Betty and Veronica has advanced beyond cliché. The distinct artist style of each of the major titles provides something for everyone’s tastes. Not all the writing is on par, but I consistently care more about the supporting cast than the publisher’s namesake.
Lyzard is Lyz Reblin, a graduate student at Michigan Tech pursuing a doctorate in Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture... 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."
DARTH VADER #1Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Justin Burkhardt and @justinburkhardt on Twitter
Marvel’s last DARTH VADER series just wrapped up at the end of October 2016, and they’re already back at it again with the relaunch of the DARTH VADER series. The first series was one of the best things Marvel has done in years, and for my money, the best Star Wars comic ever. Needless to say, that first Marvel Vader series, written by Kieron Gillen, would be a tough act to follow.
Charles Soule (DAREDEVIL, SHE-HULK) was tapped as writer for this new series, and he’s extremely familiar with the Marvel Star Wars comic universe. Soule previously wrote the LANDO and the OBI WAN AND ANAKIN mini series. He also is the writer on the current POE DAMERON series. His familiarity with the Star Wars universe shows, as this new Vader series really hasn’t missed a beat. While the first DARTH VADER series took place immediately after the events of A NEW HOPE, this new series takes place immediately after REVENGE OF THE SITH. This book literally starts right after Vader awakes in his new armor and finds that Padme is dead. This series is clearly going to focus a lot on The Emperor and Vader’s early relationship as master and pupil.
The book also touches on a mystery that Star Wars fans have wondered about for years. Why is Darth Vader’s lightsaber crimson red? I won’t ruin it here for you, but the first issue does tell us why his lightsaber differs from most of the others. It’s nice to see this new little piece of cannon included in this first issue. Could this piece of cannon be used in the movies in the future, say with Kylo Ren and Luke? I do hope so, because this is an awesome, dark piece of cannon that would work well in the movies. I’m also really, really excited to find out whose lightsaber Vader will be taking to replace the one he lost on Mustafar in his battle with Obi Wan? Will he run into an old character from the Star Wars universe, or a new Jedi that survived Order 66?
The art is by Giuseppe Camuncoli (THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN, HELLBLAZER) is impressive. Camuncoli is the only thing I like about the current THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN series, and his artwork here is top-notch. It looks different from the first Vader series, but that’s not a bad thing. This art has more of a comic book feel to it, as opposed to the more “realistic” looking first series.
The book also includes a more lighthearted mini-story called “No Good Deed” written by Chris Eliopoulos (SAVAGE DRAGON, X-FORCE). It’s about Vader and one of his mouse droids. It’s funny, but it works because it’s still able to show Vader as a threat while being humorous. I don’t expect these mini-stories every issue, but it would be nice if they continue to pop up every once and awhile in this series.
I was worried that this series was coming out too close to the last Vader series, but my fears have been put to rest after this first issue. The Star Wars comics are the one thing that Marvel continues to get right (who would have thought?) I give this book 5 out of 5 Death Stars. If you’re a Star Wars fan, jump on this book now!
REBORN #6Writer: Mark Miller
Artist: Greg Capullo
Marvel: Image Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Mark Millar's probably soon to be a TV series, fantasy mini-series of the after-life comes to a close. Joined by recent Batman fan-fav artist Greg Capullo. Oddly enough, the best and worst I can say about this series is, it's a typical Mark Millar story.
It's kinda queer just how alike all of (or at least) most of Millar's writing is. Of course, cranking out nothing but six issue mini-series probably doesn't help. Everything feels like a movie script and there is always one big twist, to got with the high concept. It's so repetitive in Millar's work, it's almost trite. But that's mean spirited. To be more flattering, Millar is also constantly busting with popular ideas, like R. L. Stine. People can bag on it for not being Shakespeare (or the WATCHMEN), but the sheer force of inventiveness with decent writing, can't be ignored.
Spoiler time. Ok, so the set-up for REBORN goes: The after-life is a near LORD OF THE RINGS fantasy world. Good people become heroes and bad people become villains. The main character is a woman named Bonnie, prophesized to be the Queen and slay the Black Messiah. The Black Messiah is trying to rack-up enough good people deaths, collect their blood, and open up a portal back to Earth, a.k.a. - the world of the living. Using Bonnie's husband as bait, the Black Messiah lures Bonnie to the bad lands. After a decent battle with a few twist and turns. Bonnie fulfills the prophesy. And Millar promises more to come.
Unfortunately, I feel the book works best when Millar deals with the dichotomy between this fantasy after-life and the world of the living. I say unfortunately, as the book focus mostly on the fantasy story. Which is pretty dam formula- fun, but formula. The lack of attention also leaves me with a ton of questions on how this (world) all works. As far as I can tell, Hitler should have been the Black Messiah. Not some random guy on a shooting spree.
Capullo work, as always is well above average comic work. It reminds me a lot of Scott Campbell early work. Each page is clean and impressive. He handles both action pages and quieter pages with equal skill.
Any Mark Millar or especially a Greg Capullo fan should eat this up with a spoon. For everyone else, you could do a lot worst. With that in mind, I'll be a bit stingy, and on the Masked Man's scale of Crap, Poor, Decent, Good and Greeat; REBORN scores a DECENT.
I AM GROOT #1Writer: Chris Hastings
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Justin Burkhardt and @justinburkhardt on Twitter
Until recently, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 was my favorite Marvel Studios movie. What replaced it? Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, which I felt from the villain to the soundtrack, did everything the first one did but better (My top 5 Marvel Studios films btw: 1.GOTG2, 2. GOTG1, 3. Winter Solider, 4. Civil War, 5. Iron Man). Writer/Director James Gunn deserves all the credit in the world for these two films, and I’m more excited for his third (and likely final film with his group) GOTG movie than I am the infinity war to be quite honest.
One of the highlights of GOTG 2 is baby Groot, who as a character captivates the audience from the very beginning in an incredible intro credits scene. For those who’ve never seen GOTG vol. 1, adult Groot turns into a baby at the end of the movie when he helps save his fellow team members. At the end of volume 1, you get your first glance at dancing baby Groot, and the character has taken over American pop culture ever since.
It’s been nearly three years since volume one came out, and baby Groot is still incredibly popular, and rightfully so. The character of Groot has been around since the 1960’s, but his reinvention is proof why changes to a character can be a good thing. James Gunn deserves even more credit for improving on a character/ source material because this Groot we all know and love was essentially created for the Guardians movie. Before this, Groot had always been a really different monster, but Gunn’s version has made him a star. Groot is the loveable, pure, good character in a universe full of craziness and there is no shame in saying you’re a fan.
From toys to t-shirts, baby Groot is everywhere. This includes “I AM GROOT” #1, a new comic by Marvel. The comic is written by Chris Hastings (ADVENTURE TIME, GWENPOOL) with art by Flaviano (POWER MAN & IRON FIST, HARLEY QUINN/POWER GIRL). Personally, it’s nice to have a comic book version of baby Groot to follow now since *Spoiler Alert* Groot will no longer be a baby in future MCU movies.
In this book Groot is still stuck in his baby form, and Rocket even comments that Groot usually grows back faster than this. Groot eventually gets separated from the other Guardians and finds himself trapped on a distant planet in another dimension. This planet is new to the Marvel universe and features a strange pug-like creature who befriends Groot. The story could have just been a quick/cheap movie-tie in but it’s not. It’s a lot of fun and has a lot of potential to be a easy to read, good, lighthearted comic series.
The art work in this book really is gorgeous, including the cover. Flaviano does a fantastic job of creating a stylish and strange universe. He also maintains a familiar look to baby Groot, while also making him his own a bit. I think a lot of people who enjoyed Skottie Young’s baby Groot, will also really like this as well.
This book will likely be the easiest (and one of the most fun) reads in your pull list. My only worry is that that Marvel will pull the plug on it too soon like they have with my other favorite recent books (KINGPIN, BLACK PANTHER AND THE CREW). I’m tired of wondering if Marvel is going to cancel another comic too soon, but for more baby Groot, I’ll take the risk. The ride may not last forever, or people may grow tired of baby Groot, but until then it looks like it will be an entertaining one. If you’re a fan of baby Groot from the movies, this comic is perfect for you. This comic is also great for that fan of the Guardians movie who “doesn’t really read comics”. I give I AM GROOT #1 four out of five I am Groots!
REDNECK #2Writer: Donny Cates
Art: Lisandro Estherren
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Justin Burkhardt and @justinburkhardt on Twitter
I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of REDNECK #2 from Image comics. Last month, I gave issue #1 a 5/5 score and was excited to see where this crazy Texas vampire story would take us.
REDNECK is written by Donny Cates (GOD COUNTRY, THE PAYBACKS) with art by Lisandro Estherren (THE LAST CONTRACT, SPOOK) and it follows the Bowmans, a “family” of vampires in Texas. It feels a little bit like the movie FROM DUSK TILL DAWN and the comic SOUTHERN BASTARDS had a baby. It isn’t just another vampire story and is a refreshing take on a tired genre, written by one of the hottest writers. Two issues in now and it truly feels like I’m reading something very special and like I hopped on the next great comic series. One day, when it becomes a hit TV show, early readers are going to say “I read REDNECK from the very beginning”. It’s that good!
In this second issue, we see the fallout from the Bowmans dealing with the murder of one of their own. JV, the head of the family, just wants a peaceful life for his boys and his strange daughter named Perry. After one of theirs is murdered, JV could easily send his clan out and murder most of the town. Instead, JV locks two of his boys in the basement so they can do no harm, and wants to find answers before they decide their next move. He knows war will not be good for their way of life. Issue #2 ends on a cliffhanger, but it looks like war has come to the Bowmans front door.
This story has heart and depth. In many ways the Bowmans feel like a typical family, but they are anything but. The story also has a lot of mystery. We are starting to learn more, but there’s still a lot of story to flush out. I can’t wait to find out more about the history of the family. We know that JV and his brother Bartlett have been in Texas before it was a state and that the family’s mother was murdered as well. We also know that Perry can read minds, but it still feels like there is so much more we don’t know in terms of the character’s and family’s history. It’s one of those books that I wish I could just binge read all the issues right now!
Esterren’s artwork is gritty and unique. There are even times where his lines aren’t crisp fall outside of the printed panels, but it’s done with a purpose. His art fits the story so very well. Cate’s dialogue and story writing is like some of the best ice cream you’ve ever eaten, but Esterren’s artwork is the cherry on top.
2017 is clearly Donny Cates year. Sooner rather than later, Marvel or DC will scoop him up and give him a major character to write. Until then, his comics remain one of the safest to add to any pull-list. REDNECK #2 gets a score of 5 out 5 vampire bats, and I don’t know what else to say besides subscribe to this comic ASAP!
MOON KNIGHT #14Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Greg Smallwood
Marvel: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Just a few weeks ago my current favorite comic book came to an end, POWER MAN AND IRON FIST. Now my second current favorite comic book has come to an end, MOON KNIGHT. Lemire and Smallwood have put together the most inventive and surprising comic I've read in a long while. Warren Ellis' run was amazing for it's re-imaging and simplicity of Moon Knight. Lemire went basically the opposite way. Diving deep into just who Moon Knight is and pulling it apart like an onion.
I know some people were turned off by Lemire going over the whole, Moon Knight's multiple personalities and battling it out his Egyptian benefactor god, Khonshu, again. But he wrote it in a way where you had no idea where the story would go next. He played well with, what is reality and is this really happening, but not in a way to trick the reader. It was about Moon Knight coming to grips with who he is (not in the sense to cure himself) and fighting Khonshu over his identity (no matter how many he has). Lemire's Moon Knight is a bit of a lovable loser, like John McClane. He just keeps getting up, and pushing until victory is the only option. Overall it's how Lemire told this story, which is what made it so great. Each issue didn't go in a typical comic book direction. There weren't any story arcs, just a weaving odyssey of different realities all taking place in Moon Knight's mind and the ether. All of it really well written.
Having Greg Smallwood draw (almost) everything, just added to MOON KNIGHT's unique elegance and beautifully understated story. In a less artist's hands, this series would not fly. Smallwood's own inventiveness with page and panel design (I'm not sure how much say Lemire had with it all) just really helped to nail all story moments. It's all just classic illustrate too. In the vain of Albert Dorne and Andrew Loomis. Topped with some of Jordie Bellaire's best coloring to boot. So at any point you may think Lemire's script is starting to weaken, Smallwood and Bellaire's pages will still seduce you.
Of course the sad thing is, after Lemire and company have finished rebuilding Moon Knight (as if they loaded him like a bullet in a gun), they walk away. On some level these past 14 issues have been like a prologue, and damn, I'd just love to see where Lemire would have taken Moon Knight next. Ah well. On the Masked Man's scale of Crap, Poor, Decent, Good and Great; Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood's MOON KNIGHT run scores a GREAT.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G