(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: FF #1
FRANKENSTEIN ALIVE, ALIVE #2
INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #1
Advance Review: SUPERMAN #14
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #698
BLUE BEETLE #14
Advance Review: PLANETOID #4
CAPTAIN AMERICA #1
BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #20
Advance Review: WITCH DOCTOR: MAL PRACTICE #1
Advance Review: AQUAMAN #14
Advance Review: In stores this week!
FF #1Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Mike Allred
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
It’s a little known fact that without Mike Allred’s X-FORCE, there may very well be no AICN COMICS @$Holes. Our very first review by the ever-insightful former Original @$$Hole, The Comedian was of an issue of X-FORCE, before it became X-STATIX. In that review, The Comedian commented on Allred’s style, while helping develop what would become AICN COMICS’ motto; reviews off the cuff, with no punches pulled, and straight from our fanboy hearts.
I’m getting nostalgic here because after reading Matt Fraction and the aforementioned Mike Allred’s new FF series, I can’t help but get that tingly all over, fun feeling I had back during those first few issues of the artist’s run on X-FORCE/X-STATIX. Still present are the accurate yet simplistic facial expressions, the classic style imagery, and the overall sense of fun in every panel. I smiled more times while reading this comic than I have in a long time. The way Allred draws everyone from Reed to Ben to Ant Man to Leech and Artie, all of them are so uniquely Allred, yet respectful of renderings drawn before. Artistically, this is a rock solid book, one I definitely can get into.
The premise of this book though is a bit shaky. As established in FANTASTIC FOUR #1 two weeks ago, Reed has discovered that the cellular structure that gives the FF their powers is breaking down and misguides his family to believe they should take a vacation, while in reality he is searching for a cure for the mysterious ailment. In FF, Reed seeks out his Replacement Four to take care of the world in their absence. The thing is, because of some space/time mumbo jumbo that makes the Thing’s head hurt, Reed plans on only being gone four minutes on this trip, though it’ll feel more like a year to them. Still, I think the planet can get along without them for four whole minutes. So either Reed thinks so highly of his team that the world can’t live without them, despite the fact that the Avengers and X-Men have multiple teams, not to mention the Defenders, X-Factor, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Texas Rangers, SHIELD, the Legion of Monsters, Power Pack, and the Great Lakes Avengers, or something more is going on here than what Reed’s telling us.
Either way, I’m intrigued. Especially after seeing the new FF lineup, which makes for an interesting group even before you get to know the alien, mutant, and monster kids the new Four have to take care of. Fraction does a great job of not only staying quiet at times to let Allred’s panels do all of the talking, but when he does write words, they are tight and full of character. The interview segments in this book are pure comic book gold.
Sure there are bigger books out there with more flashier art and more icony characters, but this book isfull of that special kind of weirdness that I hope Marvel commits to because more people should be checking out this book. I highly recommend folks take a chance on the FF and though I wish no ill will on Reed and his family, I kind of hope they stick around for more than four minutes.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in late 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.
FRANKENSTEIN ALIVE, ALIVE #2Writer: Steve Niles
Art: Bernie Wrightson
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: The Dean
I’m pretty quick to recommend anything from artist Bernie Wrightson, and FRANKENSTEIN ALIVE, ALIVE is no exception. With some artists, high levels of detail just lead to clutter, but Wrightson in my opinion is one of the best at creating clean and engaging panels in which you can easily lose yourself for a while, encouraging a deliberately slow pace that only benefits a dark, moody read like this one.
Issue two has its fair share of gems in it as we see more of the Monster’s journey after the events of Mary Shelly’s original novel, touring various locales across the globe in an attempt to off himself and rid him of the ghost of his creator.
Steve Nile’s script is just similar enough to Shelley’s writing style, giving it sort of a “Mary Shelley Lite” feel, but still maintaining the distinct tone and voice of both the Monster and Shelley herself. I’m thrilled enough with the art that any semblance of a story worth telling is a bonus, but there are some truly great scenes here too, particularly the Elephant Man-like relationship between the Monster and a teacher he befriends in this issue.
For being a sequel to the novel (or more specifically the previous Wrightson interpretation of the novel), FRANKENSTEIN ALIVE, ALIVE has exceeded my expectations thus far in providing the incredible art from Wrightson I knew would be there and bringing an imaginative look at the continued journey of the Monster. So buy the issues or wait for the trade, but either way this one is worth a look.
INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #1Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Leinil Yu
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
S.H.I.E.L.D.’s New W.M.D…
Giving the Hulk something to do is always a step in the right direction. The Hulk’s M.O. tends to be the uncontrollable, unstoppable force of nature, walking the Earth and generally smashing stuff, and the usual attempts to counteract that tend to be forgettable (except for the occasional Planet Hulk or Maestro). But that doesn’t mean Hulk can’t do interesting things. A creative direction can always be applied to the “wandering lost soul” character the Hulk is, and leave it to Mark Waid to come up with a great idea.
Writing: (5/5) Waid is one of those few writers whose name can be used as a shorthand for creative, fun super hero comics. While he does have a few bad spots here and there, his resume is almost completely spotless. Getting him for Hulk was a good decision on Marvel’s part, and Waid immediately brings the character to a cool new direction within pages of the comic beginning. Bruce Banner, having finally come to terms with the fact that he’s always going to be the Hulk, decides to put the Hulk to good use and start working for S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s an idea so simple that it’s surprising that no one has thought of it before. Waid’s version of Banner is an incredibly interesting version of the character; Waid recognizes that Banner is, at his core, a very angry man. His conversation about legacies with Maria Hill show he’s bitter about the way things have gone in his life, and he wishes to address that. To utilize his potential and skills, both as Bruce and the Hulk, Banner offers his services to Hill in a tightly written diner scene. Banner and Hill bounce off one another well, with Hill constantly keeping a wary eye on him.
The confrontation with the Mad Tinkerer also gives Waid an opportunity to explore the potential use for The Hulk in battle, effectively using him as the cannon Banner described himself as. It’s a fast-paced issue that effortlessly sets up a new status quo, and Waid handled it all deftly. Nothing is left vague, with the biggest threat on the horizon being Hill’s watch, ticking away to the inevitable loss of control. But with Banner defiantly trying to control the Hulk, on top of all of S.H.I.E.L.D., that explosion is delayed and will have an intriguing effect.
Art: (5/5) I love Yu’s work. I know him only really through his super hero work, which has always impressed. He has a certain control over both quiet character-driven moments and the larger, more grandiose action beats. Both talents serve him well in this issue, with Yu getting to show off his talents in both areas. The early confrontation between Hill and Banner is full of little character beats, all clearly drawn. Hill consistently remains calm but ready, a certain lack of emotion that is hiding a furiously working mind. Across from her is Banner, trying to remain jovial despite his bitterness and anger. Yu conveys it all well, and it still doesn’t compare with the final action sequence.
Yu’s creative framing is inventive and exciting, keeping the action flowing and always adjusting to allow more to be shown. Gho’s bright colour palate helps the scene, keeping Hulk constantly recognizable as the Tinkerer tries to melt him. Hill stands above all the chaos, out of any real frame, and she gets to watch as the Hulk rips apart the machine and bring the lab all crashing down, in a Hulk green sound effect. It’s all incredibly effective and exciting, and keeps the readers’ attention at all times.
Best Moment: I love that the Mad Tinkerer, after calculating everything down to a T, still can’t expect how strong the Hulk really is.
Worst Moment: There’s nothing really bad that stands out in this issue.
Overall: (5/5) A great first issue that doesn’t try to overcomplicate a brilliantly simple premise.
And here’s another view on INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #1!
Artist: Leinil Yu
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee
Mark Waid, for as long as I’ve REALLY been a diehard comic book geek, has always felt to me like the quintessential superhero writer. I don’t mean that in a typecasting way or anything of the sort – his work on books such as RUSE and THE UNKNOWN attest to his range – but in that it always feels like his work within the genre really milks it for all it’s worth while basking in the heritage that comes with capes and tights, especially on the corporate properties. Geoff Johns usually gets the “Johnny Superhero” looks because of how prevalent he has been for a decade now – which is impressive in its own right since the man has averaged probably four titles a month during that span – but I don’t think anyone knocks it out of the park like Mark Waid does when he takes over a title. At the least, you know his material is going to be respectful to the essence of the character; at the most there’s a damn fine chance he’s going to take that character to a level you haven’t seen before, and when he’s really on you’re going to get both and have those “I can’t wait to see what happens next!” tingles in your little fanboy pants. Enter INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK…
The first issue of this “bold new direction!” TM is one of epiphany and latent fear. There is not so much a “next level” in this as much as there is Dr. Bruce Banner realizing the level he’s been at for years now has been wasteful. Essentially, the main conceit of this run, which has been billed as “Hulk, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is Banner coming to grips with his occasional “I turn into the most dangerous being on the planet sometimes” condition and taking himself directly to Maria Hill to cut a deal. S.H.I.E.L.D. sets him up with the highest of high tech scientific equipment so that when he is actually in control of himself he can use his big brain for the most good it is worth and when they need a gun he becomes a howitzer that shoots Fat Mans and Little Boys.
What I loved about this issue was its attitude. I love the Bruce Banner that shows up here, full of pep spiked with a little bit of piss and vinegar. Ninety percent of the time he’s got a little swagger like a man who just bagged the hottest girl at the bar; he knows his problem sucks but he has come to the conclusion that he’s smart enough to benefit mankind significantly more than he damages it if he uses his time and intelligence right to maximize what he does as Banner and minimize what he does as The Hulk. We get the glimpses of frustration seeping through, particularly in a bit where he’s running down the events of AVX and how it was Reed Richards and Tony Stark saving the day with their mind power while he was basically reduced to going green and punching, and it gets played up here very well. The abject horror that shows on Maria Hill’s face as little annoyances keep running into Banner and she becomes more and more terrified he’ll Hulk out is priceless. But, surely enough, he goes back into motor mouth mode as he tries to sell her (and possibly himself) on what an alliance between the two could mean. He almost reminds me of David Tennant’s Dr. Who; he knows he has the answers and that there’s a great burden on him but you can tell there’s a bit of trepidation in him and that’s why he’s going on and on and on as he’s justifying where things have to go.
Then there’s some smashing, of course, and while the smashing happens Leinil Yu excels at what he does while being what I figured was the perfect match for a Hulk book (and is). The energy and detail of the carnage wrought is massive, as is the property damage for what was a pretty low scale encounter to start this run. Lord knows what kind of shenanigans will go down once Yu and Waid really get into their groove. I’ll definitely be popping some extra quarters into that jukebox to keep the tune going. And if anyone pays attention to my reviews here with any regularity, they know that I’m very critical of the sixteen quarters for twenty pages comics we’re starting to see more of, if for anything from a “there’s lots of great stuff out there for a dollar less so you really better impress me” standpoint. Apparently Mr. Waid holds the secret to my heart (and my wallet) because, as with his currently, continually stellar DAREDEVIL run, I’m all in after just the first encounter. Here’s to more of them and all the glorious smashing they promise to hold.
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.
Advance Review: In stores today!
SUPERMAN #14Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
“You take the old, you take the new, you take them both and you have the glue for Supes’ facts of life, facts of life.”
No, it’s not just my lingering boyhood crush for Lisa Welchel that made this old Alan Thicke ditty pop into my head. After a year of utter confusion for the Man of Steel I think RocLobster has finally been able to find the secret sauce to make SUPERMAN work in the context of the NEW 52. H’EL on earth is not only a great read from a solitary story perspective, but it’s the first true signs of cohesion amongst all DC titles allowing for some true honest-to-God universe building.
I applaud Perez’s and Morrison’s early efforts on both ACTION and SUPERMAN, but they were working under some crazy editorial mandates for Big Blue. I think the plan was to have ACTION be the introduction to Superman the character, where SUPERMAN the title was supposed to establish the world of Metropolis and all of his Clark’s pals. But the “five years before” mandate and no consistent voice for Superman in any title made for decent solitary issues, but a messershit of confusion for Supes’ place in the DC Universe. I’m not even going to bring JUSTICE LEAGUE into this conversation because that was a whole other grab-bag of Super doldrums for Clark (me blue, me punch, me sulk).
Here’s the thing though—Superman’s world isn’t that interesting without Superman. Learning that media outlets are dying and Lois Lane will prostitute her integrity to the first media mogul that comes along will only carry a comic so far. I don’t care about Lois, Jimmy or Perry without Clark, no matter how many Lois Nazis write me about the importance of Lois Lane in the DC Universe (yes, they exist by thousands--I would be happy to share the hate mail from my SUPERMAN EARTH ONE review).
Now, I was able to follow these stories and confusions because I’m older than Moses’ balls. At 38 I have lived through several iterations of Superman and read thousands of books that let my feeble mind easily fill in gaping chasms of logic and feeling. New readers had my deepest sympathy, and anyone who asked me over the past year “what book should little Johnny or Sally read if they like Superman?” immediately received my endorsement for ACTION, and ironically not SUPERMAN--not because Morrison is a great child writer, but because that was closest to the essence of Supes.
H’EL on earth finally ends the confusion. With this first Supercrossover, RocLobster and the others have been able to bring clarity by not abandoning the past year, but consolidating it quickly and concisely. Yes, Lois is still an integrity whore to the whims of Morgan Edge, but there aren’t entire issues focused to the decline of print media and sacrificing real news for infotainment. Clark recently quit the Daily Planet because of this moral conundrum, and all you need to know about this is plain as day in the opening panels of SUPERMAN 14. Lois is trying to bring Clark back into the media fold until their visit is interrupted by the appearance of Supes’ cousin Kara-El. Now, I will say that Clark’s former red panties getting into a bunch about Lois shacking up with her boy toy seems out of place since he has shown no romantic interest in Lois up until now (NEW 52, not old continuity), but I’ll let it slide, again because I know this will be an inevitable pairing…perhaps. Also, since he’s smooshing face with Wonder Woman now, which is wonderfully alluded to in this interchange, I have to wonder why he truly does care. But the super heart wants what it wants, I guess. I’ll also say the moment when Kara entered left me conflicted. On one hand it was hilarious. On the other hand, I think Lois has lost her nose for news immediately assuming the woman standing before her is a cosplayer instead of the exact replica of the chick who’s been tossing tanks on the news. Consider this a fanboy nit though, and a bygone since it was executed so damn well.
I had an issue with the heavy BOX OUT bubbles in SUPERMAN 13. What has worked so well in RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS felt like lazy exposition to me in the context of SUPERMAN. That’s corrected as well this issue, with only a few scant thought bubbles to draw new readers into the crossover.
The rest of the issue plays out as a knockdown drag-out between this new third Kryptonian, H’EL, and Supes. Kara sits on the fence, still not loving Earth, but certainly not feeling the disdain H’EL does. In very Zodlike fashion, H’El, a former disciple of Jor-El and one of Krypton’s first astronauts (that’s how he got to Earth), thinks anyone from Krypton should be in charge of Earth and also has a real disdain for the hybrid clone Superboy. It was actually kind of fun to see Superboy tossed around like a ritalin baby’s Stretch Armstrong. Apparently, like in the Star Wars universe, clones only spell bad news and caused a lot of trouble in Krypton’s distant past.
The family dynamic between Kal and Kara is all New 52 while still holding on to ghosts of the past. It’s refreshing to see this commitment to what worked before and not abandoning it. Kara has to grapple with her younger cousin now being older and not remembering Krypton, while Kal must try to babysit a superbrat to ensure she doesn’t cause bad PR for Kryptonians everywhere.
No idea where this series is going to end up and frankly I don’t care. For one reason, I really like surprises. The other reason being I already have Tweeted confirmation from Scott Snyder that his run starting in January will take the series in a new direction. I will also give leeway to any book Rocafort draws. His abandonment of traditional panels and flair for cinematic moments are bar none. He makes the books move even if you don’t read one word bubble.
H’EL on Earth is exactly what the doctor ordered to redeem the Man of Steel, bind the DC universe together, and whet appetites for when the new DC Golden Boy takes the reigns next month.
Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2012 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #698Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Richard Elson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Professor Challenger
“My name is Peter Parker. I’m the Amazing Spider-Man. And today? I can just tell....today is going to be the best day ever!” -- Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Let’s get this out of the way first: Dan Slott spoke publicly in the lead-up to this already infamous comic book; in fact, he was all over the comics press haranguing retailers that no matter what they had pre-ordered, they had better up those orders. No, he wasn’t going to tell them why, just they better “trust” him. And then he was announcing how he would not talk to or cooperate with any of the press if they broke the embargo and revealed the ending of the comic.
Well, I don’t think anyone hates Dan Slott for what happens to Peter Parker in this comic book. But I’m thinking there’s quite a few who might want to pop him in the nose for overhyping this thing and being increasingly irritating as he did it. Not that this was his intent, I’m sure. I’m sure he was just thinking he was playing around like good ol’ Stan “The Man” Lee back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. But I dunno. I remember everyone pretty much getting the joke back then that Stan was playing a game in which everyone was an active participant. This came off a bit more superior seeming as if he, himself, truly had written the comic book equivalent of the discovery of a vaccine for polio.
Well, Dan Slott, I can tell you a couple of things about this issue. First of all, I made it into my shop well into the evening last week and bought my copy off the shelf. Secondly, over the Thanksgiving weekend, I went into a Barnes & Noble and they had copies on their shelves. So I don’t think they were underordered. And, I gotta say, the shocking event that occurs in this comic is not so shocking as to split the continents once again.
Now, that being said, I do have to say...this was a really good, old-fashioned Spidey comic and I dug it. In fact, I liked it enough to be interested in finishing the story out over the next couple of issues. Considering I walked away from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN so long ago that the Clone Saga had not even happened yet and never stuck with it more than a couple of months at a time since then, this is quite an achievement.
So, here’s my obligatory SPOILER WARNING because I’m about to spoil the heck out of it.
This comic is a very interesting read. This is because when you read it the first time, you think you’re reading a story narrated through Peter Parker’s words and thoughts. After you finish this comic, and discover that it has been Otto Octavius the entire time...a second reading is required. And the comic takes on an entirely different feeling the second time through.
Yep. It’s the mind-switcheroo story. You know, just like on that episode of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND where the mad scientist switched around all their brains, only this time it turns out that Doc Ock has switched their minds, thus putting Parker’s mind into Ock’s dying body and Ock’s mind in Parker’s youthful and spidery body. And Octavius still has access to Parker’s memories.
This is why the second reading is so much fun. The first time through, I was thinking Slott didn’t have a handle on the character. I couldn’t quite get his attitude about MJ or his overdoing it in hitting the lame fake villain, and other odd idiosyncracies in his behavior. It was Peter, but he just seemed off to me. By the time we get to the scene near the end where the big reveal happens at Ock’s deathbed and then Parker/Ock flatlines, it all becomes one of those SIXTH SENSE moments for the reader.
Sure, it will all turn around at some point (this is comics after all), but as far as I’m concerned this was classic Marvel cliffhanger stuff and that last page was fannntastic.
The art by Richard Elson was strong from start to finish. My only complaint would be that his version of Capt. America looks just like the one in the AVENGERS movie but not at all like the version appearing in his own book or the AVENGERS comics (i.e., either the wings are painted on or they stick out – pick one and stick with it, Marvel). A minor quibble.
If you like old-school Marvel pumped up a little for the 21st century, disbelieve all the hype and just pick up AMAZING SPIDER-MAN simply because it’s a cool comic.
I wasn’t necessarily prepared to, but I liked it.
Prof. Challenger is Texas artist and writer, Keith Howell. You can read his stuff here and over at profchallenger.com. You can also get in on the ground floor of his new endeavor, "Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from Comic Books" here.
BLUE BEETLE #14Writer: Tony Bedard
Art: Ig Guara & J.P. Mayer
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Dean
BLUE BEETLE may never be a bestseller no matter what creative team is working on it, but I really appreciate the work Bedard, Guara and Mayer have put into this. It’s been a lot of fun to read since the beginning, and I hate to see it go with issue sixteen in January, but luckily it looks like it’ll be going out as enjoyable as it’s been from the start.
BLUE BEETLE #14 continues the Reachworld storyline in which Jaime teams up with Khaji Kai, another scarab who is just a few shades less heroic than Jaime. As they try to survive the Reach, they encounter yet another threat in the form of Khaji Da’s previous host, who desperately wants the scarab’s power back. BLUE BEETLE #14 is full of action, weird creatures and environments, and really fun interactions between Jaime, Khaji Da, and the ruthless Khaji Kai.
If you’re interested in living out the last days of this run, I’d recommend jumping back to the zero issue and moving to issue twelve from there. It’s far from anything game-changing, but between the consistently fun character interactions and dynamic art, this has been some of the most dependable fun I’ve had on any series all year.
Advance Review: In stores today!
PLANETOID #4Writer & Artist: Ken Garing
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
I hate a lot of comic creators for their craptacular dialing in of content as their fame grows. Then there are creators like Ken Garing who breed a different hate, a hate spawned from envy at their immense talent and ability to take simple concepts we’ve seen before and create something wholly new from the pieces. But Garing smooshes our nose in his talent even further, since he’s able to not only come to the table with the great high level, but is a one-man house of talent in execution as well.
I’ve had a comic in the works now for the last three years. Sadly, all I can do is write and I had to source the rest of the resources that will visualize my words. This is the common mold for 99% of the books out there. There’s a reason for this compartmentalization in comics; writers usually can’t draw and artists usually can’t write--God’s class balancing, if you will. Then there are fuckers like Garing who do both to such an exceptional level their first book gets gobbled in seeming seconds when you look at the long roads others must take to getting published.
I reviewed the first issue of PLANETOID several months before Garing was signed on by Image. Also, it was when I thought PLANETOID was going to be a mere space survival tale. And it is, to a certain extent. The tale starts at the end of a great galactic war between humans and the Ono Mao empires, and every species unfortunate to get caught in the middle of their galactic land grab.
Silas Aden is a Bruce Willis type middle-aged pilot who is unfortunate enough to crash land on a manufacturing planetoid that has long been forgotten by both empires – at least on first glance.
Through the first few issues Aden was a victim of survivalist instinct, trying desperately to get any communication running that will get him off this barely inhabitable rock.
The more he comes to know this lifeless rock, though, the more he realizes there might be more, and a better life, here than back on the almost mythical mother Gaia.
This is one of those books where I don’t want to spoil a moment of its awesomeness. Through the simple theme of space and a stranger in a strange land, Garing explores the nature of man, our thirst for freedom and our even greater thirst for connection wherever we can find it. The concepts of sacrificing self for the greater good is Aden’s journey, but the detail to which Garing gives that journey through a careful balance of well-crafted art and words makes me hopeful for the fact that the soul of space exploration tales didn’t end with Gene Roddenberry. Aden redeems himself by creating a new and thriving culture on PLANETOID as he’s valiantly trying to escape that culture and leave.
Garing could easily turn PLANETOID into a complete and epic space opera if he so chooses. I know I would love to write a little fan fiction about the state of Mother Gaia in this post-post-industrialized future. The forgotten relics of manufacturing permeate this peace, and unlike derelict coal or steel towns Garing’s visuals are as epic in scope as they are haunting in spirit.
I love this book; it’s an infusion of space drama that hasn’t been satiated in awhile. SAGA is great, but it’s a fantasy compared to the stark reality of space. Space is cold, space is harsh, we are its slaves and we must find solace whenever it presents itself.
Read PLANETOID and if you don’t like them, I’ll buy them from you. Yes, that’s how much I believe in this work.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #1Writer: Rick Remender
Artists: John Romita Jr. /Klaus Janson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth
The Sentinel of Liberty finds New Adventures in Dimension Z.
The Marvel Now! movement brings changes to both the publishing format and the Marvel Universe in general including new creative teams, character designs and new storylines. CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 certainly succeeds in accomplishing the abovementioned task.
Captain America has always been characterized as a man out of time. With Marvel Now!’s CAPTAIN AMERICA #1, you could also say Cap’s a man out of place.
You see, an old foe with a new scheme up his robotic sleeve has taken the trouble to transport Cap to a whole new world called “Dimension Z” (sounds like something out of MST3000, right?). Anyways, after narrowly escaping the clutches of this malevolent foe and liberating a captive infant to boot, Steve Rogers finds himself once again in the role of stranger in a strange land.
As the new writer, Rick Remender has a challenging task following up the very successful and amazing run Ed Brubaker had on this title. Remender wastes no time assuring readers not to worry: he gets Captain America. The super soldier procedure may have transformed Steve Rogers into the physical pinnacle of human potential, but that’s not what makes him Captain America; it’s his heart and indomitable will that make this soldier super.
Even with this offbeat opening, Remender manages to retain all that is fundamental to Cap’s character while dragging him through some new mud. A flashback from Cap’s juvenile years reveals that life wasn’t always a bed of roses for Rogers and provides some insight into where his inner strength originates. Remender also hints to possible developments with Steve’s relationship with Sharon Carter, aka Agent 13 of Shield. The only real problem I have with Remender’s writing is his excessive use of narrative captions during the action sequences; sometimes it can be more effective to just let the panel tell the story.
Artistically the book has some problems. Usually, I consider myself a fan of John Romita Jr.’s art. Junior’s panel composition and his storytelling are some of the best in the industry; detail and anatomy are where he can tend to lack at times. However, I don’t think Johnnie deserves full blame here. I’ve noticed that he is often teamed with Klaus Janson to handle the inking duties. This is where I see the problem; Janson and Romita Junior just don’t mix well. It’s an interesting dilemma because both have delivered good work independently, but when brought together the result is often underwhelming.
Another thing that drove me freaking insane was the missing straps on Cap’s shield! How the hell is he attaching his shield to his arm and back without those straps? Still, I will say that Junior and Janson’s work on this issue produced some of the tightest work I have seen by this duo, not nearly as bad as some of their other pairings. I’ll give them that.
As far as openings go, CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 brings a lot of the right stuff: good characterization, intense action, intrigue and a cliffhanger ending. Unfortunately, the art drags the book down a bit, altering what could have been an outstanding start to a decent start.
LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #25Writer: Christos Gage
Art: Jheremy Raapack
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Dean
The best thing about this series to me is that if an issue doesn't really work for you, you've only got one or two more before a creative shakeup brings you something different.
For the most part, all 25 issues of this series have been pretty solid, as even when the execution isn't so great, the idea behind it is interesting enough to entertain for the few number of pages each issue has. LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #25 starts off a little shaky, but quickly takes a much more interesting turn as Bruce either wakes from a nightmare, or slips into a particularly bad Scarecrow hallucination.
It's tough to argue that Bruce isn't at least a little crazy, and Christos Gage gets readers to wonder how closely he toes the line of insanity, regardless of whether or not this whole scene is real. Gage does a good job parrying assumptions that this is Batman, so of course he'll come out on top, by having Bruce make several false starts in attempting to solve this one, only to have his anchor Alfred bring him back down to earth. Speaking of Alfred, why does he look so pissed?
At times the art from Jheremy Raapack is really impressive, but some of the expressions from Alfred are questionable for the situation, and can be a little distracting.
Nevertheless, this is a pretty cool issue that will conclude next week, so at only $0.99, how can you go wrong?
Advance Review: In stores today!
WITCH DOCTOR: MAL PRACTICE #1Writer: Brandon Seifert
Art: Lukas Ketner
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
The second series of Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner’s creation WITCH DOCTOR starts in the thick of things and gives us a dose of what made Dr. Vincent Morrow and his paranormal medical team so interesting in its first series. The issue opens with the doctor performing an exorcism/operation, mixing medical and paranormal terminology in a clever and fun way with terms like “diablosuction”, “maleficiogenic”, and “spellborne illness”. It’s little touches like that which make this book worth all the hype that so many fans and critics have heaped on it.
But beyond that, Dr. Morrow is a fascinating character. Seifert writes him as a little bit House, a little bit Doctor Strange, and a little bit Sherlock Homes, all wrapped up in a nicely drawn package care of artist Lukas Ketner. Also returning is Penny Dreadful, a monstrous goth girl who talks to her alternate personalities and Gast, the wide eyed orderly who in this issue experiences some kind of flashbacks which most likely will be dealt with in future issues. The gang’s all here.
On top of that, this issue in itself is fantastically packed with all kinds of character moments from our trio and acts as a nice launching pad for someone who looks to be a new big bad in the WITCH DOCTOR Universe.
Ketner’s art continues to dazzle as he is just Wrightson-esque to be familiar in fans of horror comics, but still unique enough to stand on its own. Ketner’s creature design is most likely one of the strongest in comics. His monsters are unique, yet grounded in reality and the gritty edges of his lines let us know that this isn’t your typical squeaky clean dark super hero comic.
Those looking for a truly unique take on horror will most likely already know about WITCH DOCTOR. This new miniseries, MAL PRACTICE looks to be another winner. And if you don’t know about this comic yet, now you do, so check it out.
DAREDEVIL #20Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Chris Samnee
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Well it’s not surprising to see that Marvel Now! is staying as far away from Daredevil as it can. Winning an Eisner will do that for ya. Now, on the one hand I’m fairly easy to please when it comes to the genres I love: superheroes, adventure, sci-fi, fantasy--I can easily enjoy B-grade stuff. On the other hand, I’m also a bit of a grumpy old fan: I don’t like change for change’s sake (cough-new52-cough). It also makes me hard to please beyond mild amusement. To a degree I’ve seen and read lots of comic books, and I am a little hard to impress. So when I hear DAREDEVIL won an Eisner, I think “Really? I mean it’s good and all, but really?” Jump to today, and this story arc, YES--REALLY! Mark Waid has written a story for the ages here: this is one clever, twisted, and now down right sick story!
First off, Waid’s has been screwing up Matt (Daredevil) Murdock’s life--big deal, we’ve all seen that. Then he shows us that what Daredevil is ‘seeing’ and experiencing might not really be happening. Waid is smart enough to give us this from Matt’s point of view, so instead of watching this, we are experiencing this--that’s pretty cool. Next he unveils what is actually going on--holy crap, that is clever! In this issue, with some standard supervillain monologuing, we get up to speed on the full scope of the villain’s plan, which is pretty damn sick. But Waid isn’t done yet; there are at least one or two more curtains to go in this ‘Coyote’ tale. You see, Daredevil has made some powerful enemies in the past year (Hydra, Secret Empire, A.I.M., Black Spectre, Agence Byzantine, and Dr. Doom), and his chickens may be coming home to roost now.
I now warn you, I’m getting into some spoiler territory here because there are a few things that don’t quite add up to me. So if you’re not reading DAREDEVIL (and you frick’n should be!) skip to the next paragraph. Now then: I’m still not convinced of how Milla got in Matt’s apartment. I know she’s crazy and all, but the way she just accepted that she was never put away, and managed to act like a normal person in front of Matt, makes me question if Coyote was really behind her showing up there. I also didn’t get the drug trafficking bit in this issue; with Coyote’s powers, you’d think he could have eliminated the human part of the equation--though it does make you hate him even more. So I feel there are some logistical problems with how Coyote uses his powers. But that is a fairly common writer’s trap with superpowers like this. And what about poor Spot himself? I don’t have a problem with it; I just want to know what the heck is going on! Who the hell is Coyote now, and who is he working for? Geoff Johns should be taking notes here; this is how you build up mystery in a story--twisting the plot, not hiding it.
Artwise, Chris Samnee has been improving with each issue. His Daredevil is a much more heroic looking figure and everything has a cleaner look to it than in his earlier issues. Pages eight and nine are really great, when you realize he’s not showing you everything in a ‘SIXTH SENSE’ kinda way. And when he reveals what’s in the closet on pages ten and eleven--yikes! Samnee is doing a great job with this book. And I should mention Paolo Rivera has another great cover on this issue as well.
Now Waid could always screw up the ending, but I seriously doubt that. So as it stands, this is the superhero story of the year. There’s no reason not to read this; it’s like Christopher Nolan/”Dark Knight” good.
Advance Review: In stores this week!
AQUAMAN #14Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Pete Woods
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Words are about to come out of my mouth I never imagined saying “Black Manta is a bad mother…shut yo mouth.”
I never expected to like AQUAMAN. I wasn’t a fan of the coveted grunge years, or pretty much every other time someone decried, “YOU MUST LOVE AQUAMAN.” No fault to the writers--there are some very critically heralded runs--it just never stuck for me personally.
Even though those stories had what the fancy folks call gravitas, Aquaman still didn’t matter to the universe and the denizens of Atlantis were about as fearsome as the sea monkeys I once ordered from a RICHIE RICH comic back in 1979.
I started to turn the other cheek during FLASHPOINT. While not a universe-shaking event, it was a good yarn, and Aquaman and Atlantis did their part in being a modern day Axis of Evil. But like all the great villain,s there was another level to this Aquaman, a man with national pride, a man who was able to use water as a weapon of mass destruction, and most importantly a man who coveted family.
It was with these tenets in mind that sent me head first into NEW 52 AQUAMAN. Yes, the first few issues were an exercise in calling out the great white dhark in the room--that of Aquaman’s supreme supposed lameness when matched against fellow team members like Superman and Wonder Woman. However, each guffaw was interlaced with a deepening of Aquaman’s sordid past.
Maybe the things like Aquaman’s shunning of Atlantis for the surface world, his marriage to Mera and his dalliances with a super assassin hit squad were explored in the past, but I doubt it was done in such a concise manner. This Aquaman is on a path to redemption running from the lives he’s taken and his home under the sea.
Or so I thought.
Issue 14 reveals yet another hidden layer to Arthur Curry as we kick off The Throne of Atlantis storyline that will traverse AQUAMAN and JUSTIC LEAGUE. He hasn’t forgotten about his motherland (literally); in fact, he and his brother discuss the artifacts of Atlantis and how they are going to bring them all home again. We also learn that the little black bad ass tadpoles Aquaman fought in the beginning of the series were far from defeated.
Black Manta, though, has been my biggest surprise and was truly my favorite part of this book. It’s best when villains have a motive and I can’t think of a better agent for revenge than Aquaman’s slaying of Papa Manta. The opening pages of AQUAMAN 14 were truly an exercise in badassery as BM tells Amanda Waller exactly where she can stick her contract to join SUICIDE SQUAD. It’s little nods to other books like this that make collecting an entire comic universe worth the 2.99 * X. Of course, all of this occurred only after BM laid waste to a few guards.
This issue is a mystery builder. Why was the face of Aquaman’s brother shrouded? Old fans might know, but it’s a mystery to newbies like myself. How will this clandestine meeting between Aquaman and his brother connect between the Justice League and the world at large? Trouble is afoot, and like any good first issue Johns only shows us an infinitesimal part of the grand plan.
Woods does a great job with both the life aquatic and shots on good old terra firma. The book moves at all times, even what could have been a very long talky scene between Arthur and his brother.
AQUAMAN has been an enchantment under the sea dance since issue 1. Issue 14 gives me hope that AQUAMAN will not only stay strong in year 2, but could also give the much needed structure and big consequences JUSTICE LEAGUE has so desperately been yearning for (or was that just me?).
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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