(Click title to go directly to the review)
DARK DAYS: THE CASTING #1
ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #6
HARBINGER RENEGADE #5
MAGE: THE HERO DENIED #0
Opinions Are Like @$$Holes: The New Doctor Who!
DARK DAYS: THE CASTING #1Writers: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Artists: Jim Lee, Andy Kubert & John Romita JR.
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Well here we are, part two of the “Prelude to Metal”! Let's start by making fun of DC's marketing department. So yup, this is part two, yet it still has a #1 on the cover (part one was DARK DAYS: THE FORGE #1). I predict, one day every comic book will be a #1, making everyone's dreams come true. Next, you see that Jim Lee gets top billing on this issue, even though Kubert and Romita each drew more pages than him. Lee drew just six pages in this 30 page book. Again, I predict, one day Jim Lee (or insert any hot artist) will draw at least one page in every comic book. That way all of them can be solicited as being drawn by him. And yes, all our dreams will have come true. Ahhhh marketing!
Ok, let's talk about all the actual hard work of this book. Jim Lee's pages look great, Kubert and Romita's pages are all serviceable. All three of them have a fairly sketch style, so the pages flow well enough. As for the story, this is all set-up (a pseudo #0 issue if you will) for DC's next big event cross-over: METAL. So with that in mind, Snyder made sure that nothing, in these passed 60 pages (THE FORGE and THE CASTING), would spoil METAL.
Spoiler time: Apparently METAL is going to be a recasting (ya get it) of FOREVER EVIL (universe of evil heroes) or even Marvel's THANOS IMPERATIVE (Cancerverse of villain heroes). As we see a Dark Multiverse with evil versions of Batman's. Yes Batman's, because what's cooler than Batman? More than one Batman. Yet to be revealed is what is all this talk about metal: 8th Metal, 9th Metal, all metal is connected, Joker is soaking in it, Green Lantern can't use his ring around it and Duke is apparently made of it. You can just hear a teenage from the 80's saying, “That's 'metal' man!” (I kid). Anyway, that's the end result of these 30 pages (I didn't want to bury the lead). Now let's take a look at these 30 pages:
It starts by pretty much saying, since the dawn of time there has been a battle between the primordial symbols of birds and bats. Hawkman has been looking into it, because apparently it has terrifying ramification (your guess is as good as mine). Seeking the wisdom of (DC's) immortal (character)s, he learned something came into our world, and is some how related to the riddle of steel- er metal. Whatever “it” is, seeks to drag the world into the dark. Hawkman then discovers a massive Cthulhu like monster (which is just waiting), something or someone is killing his spies (Hawkman has spies!?), and he finds (?) a portal to the dark, and goes into it. That way no one else has too (yeah, what?).
Meanwhile, Batman is looking for Hephaestus, instead he meets Wonder Woman. She tells him the gods have all left, as they are afraid about what is about it happen. It seems Batman is in tune with what the gods are sensing so, through Wonder Woman, Hephaestus gives Batman Apollo's sun-sword (lords of light!). Then for reasons unknown, Batman seeks out a recently destroyed Cadmus base. Cadmus leader, Dubbilex, tells Batman to turn back before he becomes corrupted (by who knows). He then runs into Talia, who trades him the sun-sword (8th metal) for her Shazam-dagger (9th metal) (none of it makes a lick of sense), plus he wants her support later. Returning to the Batcave, he discovers Green Lantern and Duke have accidentally freed the Joker. We learn that both Batman and the Joker have survived their double homicide, thanks to the metal. Where Batman has seeming become a pawn of it, like Pandora drawn to the box. Joker figures this really bad juju, even for him. So he tries to destroy Batman's dark portal machine. GL and Duke stop him. Then Duke, having the metal in him uses Green Lantern's power ring (which supposedly couldn't function around the metal), to complete Batman's dark portal. Batman uses it and sees nothing! But that's because a bunch of bat cult guys, 3,000 miles bellow Gotham, diverted his signal, so they could peer into the dark (instead of him). Looking into the Dark Universe (I assume), they see a bunch of evil Batman's.
So just like DARK DAYS: THE FORGE #1 before it, DARK DAYS: THE CASTING #1, has a ton of words, but doesn't really say anything. Mainly, because it would spoil the METAL mini-series- but thank you for spending $10 on them. Seriously, there is page after page after page of people saying, “This is worse than you could ever imagine”, “You don't get it”, “What does it all mean”, over and over again. The only thing we know for sure, as I mentioned above: Metal is all connected (okay?); Batman is a pawn of an ancient bat vs. bird mythology (oh?); the world is about to be invaded by evil Batman's (and that's worse than I could ever imagine?). Overall, I imagine when METAL comes to a close and everything is explained, these two issue will become pointless to the story. Like the marketing department just fooled us, with a ton of DC lore Easter Eggs, into funding their own marketing campaign for METAL. Ah, marketing!
ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #6Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Aaron Kuder
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
Alright, so I’ve been absent from this place for like a month plus because life as we know it is a device designed to suck the majority of us dry and leave us husks of our former selves without any remorse, so I kind of want to diatribe a bit. Marvel Comics, in the general sense, hasn’t been doing much of anything for me for a few years now, for a multitude of reasons that I like to think are reasonable on my end and not just that I’m a walking sack of constantly popping joints and am full of a jaded hatred everything now. Now, there’s many facets of the company that have been getting some shade thrown at them, mostly for good reasons, like their tone deafness on the “diversity issue” or the constant barrage of events or how their current one is a year long dive down the longest Super Mario pipe into “Cynicism World” with Captain fucking America being a motherfucking Nazi. But from my end of things, it’s on the end of “Holy shit, can you guys just leave some books relatively up to their own devices give me or a creative team a solid couple years with a title before starting a new volume and slapping a new “#1” on the cover?” I know they’re not a completely extinct animal – hell, I’m now convinced Dan Slott will only stop writing Spider-Man by taking bolt cutters to his fingers – but I honestly think 90% or so of every Marvel title I’ve picked up in the past five years have lasted between twelve and eighteen issues before the creative team tapped out to make way to a new volume or an event came crashing through and broken up the flow or just ended the creative run. As I find my capacity to chase down what volume ends where or if a crossover is worth enduring or keeping tabs on if the creative team is even going to stay together for more than an arc, my Marvel end of pulls has diminished to a level of being somewhere between “non-existent” and “fractional.”
What’s really frustrating about this is it leaves you (or at least me) wary about hopping onto a book because you’re always suspicious that as soon as you get comfortable in the book a movie or TV show or a new event will get announced and everything going on will get jettisoned for something more in line with that vision. You start ignoring titles you’d normally be eager to try, especially as they go deeper down the Adjective rabbit hole. Which is why for five of the first six issues of this ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY run, I walked on by it like I do practically all of Marvel’s books these days and I have all the books featuring this band of cosmic misfits since the Abnett/Lanning run that rejuvenated the team made way to a multitude of volumes since to accommodate crossovers, incorporate other big name characters that were slammed into the team dynamic to accommodate any crossover fans from the movies, and generally fill the pages with galactic yiddisms. But eventually a desire to get some more of these characters, to get that taste of Marvel cosmic shenanigans on my palate, and seeing that sweet goddamn Aaron Kuder art adorning most of the covers dragged me back in, with an underlying hope that may, just maybe, this would be one of those fabled books where the team just does what the team set out to do. And six issues in those hopes have yet to be dashed, giving my fanboy pants just a little bit of tightness to them.
My nerdy half-chub also stems from my enjoyment of and belief that this is just a damn good book. In ALL-NEW GUARDIANS, Gerry Duggan and main art cohort Aaron Kuder have encapsulated everything that made this band of star-hopping oddballs a pop culture hit via the Box Offic but are reveling in everything that makes comic books comics. Every issue of this run so far – with this one being possibly the most exemplary – is just a UFC match of personalities punching each other to ridiculous or even emotional effect as the gang pulls their heists for hire across the galaxy and just keep finding themselves in bigger and bigger piles of celestial feces. But, there’s a greater picture you can tell the creative is working on, and this issue exemplifies this as it naturally pushes a couple aspects this run has already been developing while also throwing a few more curve balls at the team and us the reader. Given the overabundance of cosmic porn this story has been gorging itself on and how much more it keeps heaping you have to assume this means Duggan and company plan on playing in this sandbox for a good, long while.
That treasure trove of Marvel space revelry also adds a couple beats to the pitter-patter of my nerd heart when I read this book. The main arc of this run already has the team involved in finding the Soul Gem for galactic hoarder, The Collector, but there’s a further desire for that shiny bauble by Gamora tied into her time spent inside the gem and the bit of her left behind in it, but it just keeps adding element after element. While this is a nice little nod to times past while this team is just living in the moment, Duggan and Kuder and just keep wading through the cosmos and pulling out more toys. In the first issue it was a Galactus shaped spaceship to pull a job, now it’s goddamn Raptors (y’know, the way Abnett and Lanning made Darkhawk justifiably cool about seven years ago) and their discovery of Nega-Bands in a fight with those space badasses. And while all this is being brandied about, there’s a field of Groots being grown to inevitably make life miserable for all involved. Everything is just exciting as hell with what these guys are pulling out but while insisting the characters and their (usually clashing) personalities come first even with all these beings or items of boundless power somehow keep pushing into their lives.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, this run is a spoil of riches from the art perspective so far. Aaron Kuder is the absolute perfect choice for a book with such an eclectic feel and the energy level it commands. His stuff is just so vibrant and detailed but also has this wide-eyed exaggeration to it that makes it feel like a Saturday morning cartoon. With the lives and dynamic these characters have taken on since their breaking into the mainstream, or just back into the limelight of the comic book market near a decade ago, “Saturday morning funnies” is a perfect style to take with this book. Stylistically, everything is right with the universe and with these ALL-NEW GUARDIANS inhabiting it. The humor is great, the art is gorgeous, Duggan is crafting a plot that has more moving parts than I ever would have expected to it but it’s all still pretty breezy affairs in how the adventure is popping and moving the gang around. If Marvel really is being honest with us and themselves about needing to change how they approach their properties and the creative empowerment behind them with whatever this “Legacy” approach ends up taking, how Duggan and Kuder are representing these characters and plumbing the depths of the universe for fun shit to throw on the page should be the gold standard for how the entire line is handled. And even if for some mind-boggling reason it is now, I’ll at least clutch onto this book for dear life as one of the last remnants of my Marvel pulls hoping no extraneous forces fuck it up for me.
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.
HARBINGER RENEGADE #5Writer: Rafer Roberts
Artist: Darick Robertson
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man
The latest issue of HARBINGER RENEGADE, kicks off the big “Massacre” storyline and oddly enough, Harbinger is not in it. And as the warning on the covers states major characters will die. Rafer Roberts, creator of PLASTIC FARM pens the bloody adventure and Darick Robertson, known for TRANSMETROPOLITAN and THE BOYS drew it.
To set you up, Generation Zero, the kid heroes, have been on the run from everyone. Feeling pressed into a corner, they took over a small town. To bring them back into “government” control, H.A.R.D. Corps has been called in to 'free' the city and capture the kids, by any means necessary.
Getting into the spoilers, this issue is just one big fight between Generation Zero and H.A.R.D. Corps. And there are a whole lot of deaths as Major Charlie Palmer leads the attack. When the dust cleared, three H.A.R.D. Corps members were killed, and two Generation Zero heroes were killed: Cronus and Telic. Not to mention a bunch of bystanders. Among the living, the Zygos Twins were captured, while Cloud and Animalia escaped, but were separated. H.A.R.D. Corps' top brass, Omen, considered the whole thing a huge success. Even Trump Tweeted glowingly about it. As they look forward to a profitable future, they set their eyes on their next target, Alexander Solomon! The powerful psiot (someone with esp superpowers) whose at the center of all these psiot vs. government vs. evil corporation blow-ups.
First, I'll mention Robertson's artwork. I've been a fan of his work since the JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE days (something he hates me mentioning). While he's done nothing but improve since then, I felt his work had plateaued on THE BOYS. So I was surprised to see how much better he got on this issue. This is the best work I've ever seen from him. Just fine comic book work, top to bottom.
As for the story, as much as there is of it, it's a pretty surprising kick off. Reminds me of the old X-Men days of THE MUTANT MASSACRE. Everything gets blown to pieces and lots of people get killed. This issue sure gets you attention, and makes you very curious to what happens next, especially when the Harbingers themselves get involved. But the main question, story wise is: Will the rest of the story live-up to this opening. Will it be worth the loss of all those characters? 'Cause let's face, ALPHA FLIGHT never really recovered from the death of Guardian. But, I'm pretty hopeful Roberts will pull it off. So if you want a superhero comic that pulls no punches, “Massacre” seem to be it!
CENTIPEDE #1Writer: Max Bemis
Artist: Eoin Marron
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Justin Burkhardt and @justinburkhardt on Twitter
Dynamite Entertainment has another Atari-themed book out, and this one is based on the game Centipede. CENTIPEDE #1 is written by Max Beamis (WORST X-MEN EVER, FOOLKILLER) with art by Eoin Marron (SONS OF ANARCHY: REDWOOD ORIGINAL). I didn’t expect this book to be great, but I definitely had some optimism especially since I really enjoyed Dynamite’s other recent Atari book SWORDQUEST #1. There seemed like there could be endless opportunities for this book to have been a lot of fun, but it just never works out that.
Centipede itself was an insanely popular video game back in the day. So how do you turn that into a fun comic? Well do almost exactly the opposite of what writer Max Bemis has done here. I’ve personally never been a fan of Bemis as a writer. If he was never the lead singer of a crappy pop-punk band, he would never have this writing platform to begin with. At this point, Bemis should really just give up his comic book writing “career” to those more deserving and talented.
In this story, there’s some guy named Dale who’s the last man alive on an earth-like planet called Sty-Rek. Dale previously collected “myths” for his government and was very found of Earth’s story about a giant centipede that invaded the planet. Oh, I also forgot to add that you the reader are Dale’s “imaginary friend”, and really this first issue is just Dale telling his “imaginary friend” his story.
The story is boring, and Dale just keeps going on and on. I think at some point he actually fired a gun, but honestly it’s just a lot of boring dialogue that doesn’t even tell much of a story. I’m actually blown away by how much was written here, but how little of a story is actually told. A Centipede-based story could have been a lot fun, but instead you get a book that doesn’t have a single entertaining page in it. Bemis also thinks he can write humor, but again all the “jokes” fall flat.
The art by Eoin Marron is the “highlight” of the book. His art is good, but it really never gives me a retro or nostalgic feeling at all, and that’s a problem. At some point while looking this book you should feel some a strong connection to the game, but I just never did. The closest I ever got to that feeling was when I looked at the cover, since I picked up the video game variant.
I give CENTIPEDE #1 a score of 0 out of 5 pixels, and I say stay far away from this book unless you’re a Max Beamis fanboy (or girl). I do hope Dynamite continues to gives other Atari games a chance down the road (For ex: I think that a Pitfall comic could be really cool). Never in my life did I think I would say this, but honestly I wish Adam Sandler wrote this book. Why? Because even though PIXELS was a pretty terrible movie, it was still 100x better of a Centipede story than this nonsense.
MAGE: THE HERO DENIED #0Writer / Artist: Matt Wagner
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Well damn, I guess it's been 33 years now. Back in my golden age of comics, the 1980's, indie publisher Comico discovered Matt Wagner and his creation Mage (Grendel too). MAGE (The Hero Discovered) was the story of Kevin Matchstick, who is an avatar of King Arthur, going by the name Pendragon. With his baseball bat Excalibur, he protected the world from the evil Umbra Sprite. When the 15 issue miniseries came to an end, Comico went out of business. Ten years later, now at Image, a 15 issue sequel (The Hero Defined”), came out. Now, 17 years later, the final act of MAGE (another 15 issues) kicks off. I can't tell you how many flashbacks I'm getting right now: Comico Comics, ye old comic book shop, the Crisis, the Secret Wars, Robotech... I'm sure some of you are right there with me. And the first thing I noticed, like Matt Wagner and myself, Kevin Matchstick has lost his hair.
Now, I've been a fan of Wagner, pretty much since day one. Though, once he started drawing Batman, f#ck, he became one of my favorite top ten artists. His simple, bold, and detailed when it needs to be artwork is just awesome in my eyes. But I can understand if he is not everybody's cup of tea. His work is not typical stuff. But you can understand that I'm just seduced by the mere existent of this book.
Let's get into the spoilers. First off, it's a zero issue and to be fair to everyone, is kind of a weak uses of the zero issue concept (as always). Because instead of building context to the story to come, Wagner uses it to reintroduce us to Kevin Matchstick, the Pendragon. Who is hanging out in the middle of the night, near a crappy warehouse. A younger avatar shows up, The Steeze, who is cocky and hip as all hell. Who then shows off his mad skills to Kevin, battling a group of border-goblins. Kevin merely smiles, giving a little help when needed. With the monsters destroyed, The Steeze marches off into the night, pleased at his victory. Missing the main event, as Kevin faces off against the real threat, a stone-orge.
So very short (12 pages for $1.99), very sweet and loaded with charm. Wagner slips us back into MAGE as if we are meeting an old college chum again. And for you newbie's, Wagner simply lays out what MAGE is all about. I laughed out loud at, “The Steeze is limping... just a little.” So yeah, I loved this. MAGE and Matt Wagner fans should be lining up around the block for this. Any of you newbies, do not be put off by this. MAGE is not some complex world of mythology and continuity. Once you get the basic of who Pendragon is, you are good to go! Enjoy!
By Masked Man
It's time to celebrate, as the BBC scores a victory for women and transgender people around the world! The Doctor (as in Who) is now a female! But seriously who cares? In the greater scheme of life, it's just a TV show (British at that!) and Trump is still President, right? And for that matter, is this really a good thing? By this casting, isn't the BBC saying gender does not matter. Now sure, many activists have been arguing that gender doesn't matter for years. And while I'd completely agree gender doesn't matter when it comes to the law, when it comes to life and even fiction, I'm not so sure doesn't. I mean, just ask Caitlyn Jenner if gender matters.
But just what does this mean for the Doctor? Do Gallifreyans (the Doctor's race/specie) and /or Time Lords have a gender at all? To paraphrase THE BIG LEWBLOSKI, what makes a man? A pair of balls? What if those balls can be swapped for ovaries at any moment? This it still a man? Of course, gender change does happen in real life. Certain fish, gastropoda (yes, I looked it up), and plants, can perform sequential hermaphroditism. But in the case of the Doctor, it's not sequential hermaphroditism.
Just to put us all on the same page, whenever a Time Lord becomes so wounded that they are near death, their bodies will regenerate with a different look (i.e. - now we can cast a new actor!). And the Time Lords have no control over their new look. Typically speaking, the insides all remain the same (two hearts, two lungs, etc) as it is regeneration, the replacement of lost tissue. So we should make the distinction that this regeneration is not a transgender issue. Typically, transgenders feel their bodies are not in harmony with their minds. A situation that neither the Time Lords nor the Doctor have ever expressed. And, as eluded to, the Doctor's gender change wasn't base on a need to change gender. So anyone identifying with the Doctor's gender change, probably identifies with the gender change in Antonio Banderas' movie OUTRAGE (extreme, but in each situation the change is forced upon them).
Getting back to the point of genderless; the Time Lords appear to be gernderless, since their specific gender is just a temporally state. Assuming that to be the case, it's probably no big deal for a Time Lord's spouse to change gender. And even though the Doctor has spent countless millennia in a man's body (four billion in “Heaven Sent” alone), I doubt very much the new season will spend anything time on him/her suffering identity issues about becoming a woman. They wouldn't want to construe that being a woman is a 'bad' thing. Therefore, the Time Lords are genderless beings (as one is as the same as the other).
Now let's step back, because I'm sure the BBC doesn't want to claim the Doctor is genderless. This casting was clearly meant to be a celebration for women. But is it really? For 54 years (real time) the Doctor has been a man, now he's a woman. He wasn't born a woman, he doesn't know what it's like to be a woman. Are we to believe that boobs really make a woman? And by making this change, aren't they really saying, that the gender is unimportant to the character? I mean if they can change the character's gender like they change his/her hair style & color, or nose shape and accent, how important can it really be to the character? Clearly, the character being a man was unimportant, or else they wouldn't change it. Likewise, now that the character is a woman, the fact is immaterial as well. So can you really celebrate womanhood by claiming gender is unimportant? Also, on some level, the Doctor has become one of the main criticisms women have had about female action heroes, they are written like men with boobs. The Doctor, almost literally has become a man with boobs. Assuming you don't buy into the whole genderless argument.
Ok, let's flip that, gender is important. Then what about Romana? Romana was a female Time Lord and the Doctors' equal for many years in the 1970's. Clearly, a huge feminine icon. Yet we haven't seen her since. If gender and gender equality was important to the BBC, you'd think they bring Romana back, or create another character like her. Instead, they've created one underage woman (they are all underage to the Doctor) after another to fawn all over the Doctor. And mind you, when Romana regenerated, she remain a woman (hear me roar fools!). So does this gender swapping in regeneration even make sense!?
As I mentioned before, regeneration doesn't mean regrowing tissue you never had. It means regrowing what you lost, arm, face, etc. And for 51 years we've seen various Time Lords regenerate, and this is the first time, the gender has been switched. Que fan rage: What about Missy! True, relatively speaking, when the Doctors' main adversary the Master (a renegade Time Lord) transformed into a female body (renaming himself the Mistress, Missy for short), it was the first time a Time Lord's gender swapped. But, if you know the Master's history, regenerating by the rules was never his strong suit. Last time we saw him, before her, he was shot dead with no hint of regeneration. For all we know the Master has just stolen another body (something he does often), so who knows how he became a woman. But yes, it is possible that Missy was the first 'regeneration' gender swap. Even though it's never been mention that the biology, not just the appearance, of a Time Lord could change.
This leads us to the next question: Are there any rules to regeneration? Could the wheel spin and the Doctor ends up in the body of a child? Or a body that doesn't look like an Gallifreyian? Could the body be Asian, Indian, African (Gallifreyian style of course)? Mind you, just as the Doctor is not “really” a woman (see above) he wouldn't really be Asian, Indian or African (Earth style) either. He would look like one, but he wouldn't have the shared experiences of us Earthlings.
Finally, this brings up my overall pet peeve with the current DOCTOR WHO show: There are no rules. As with any good science fiction (or fantasy) story, DOCTOR WHO has usually tried too established rules of the world and of the tech. Without these rules a story becomes nearly pointless magic and people stop caring about it (unless it claims social relevance of course). And that's the best way to describe DOCTOR WHO these days, illogical magic. More often than not, problems are solved with emotion and any sort of B.S. the writer can come up with to service the intent of the story, opposed to working with the logic of the story to solve problems. Case in point, the sonic screw driver; it can create chain-link fencing, but can't unlock old locks, wtf! Every lock is old to the Doctor, and it's a “sonic” “screwdriver” as in it works like a screwdriver, but manipulates objects with sonic waves). So having the Doctor regenerate into a woman's body, again seems to be servicing intent, opposed to story logic.
Too be clear, gender swapping in fiction isn't a bad idea. The cartoon SHEZOW and the manga/anime RANMA ½ all dealt with gender swapping. And in both cases it works, because it's a built-in part of the story. In the case with DOCTOR WHO, it just appears tacked on.
In conclusion, this latest DOCTOR WHO regeneration is just more deus ex machina, in a show that has become increasingly deus ex machina over the years. But what can you do? Donald Trump IS the President of the United States and Jodie Whittaker IS the Doctor.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G