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Archive for the ‘Random Comics of the Week’ Category

Random Comics of the Week #100: The Last Random

Posted by Comics On May - 8 - 2009

arc-random2

First let me say how proud I am of Random Comics of the Week and of every contributor who worked on it along the way.

The writers Owen Craig, Tom Kerr, James O’Connor, Sandra Yao, and, of course, Isaac Mills: to each of them thank you very much for going along with this crazy premise I had two years ago. And thanks to Adam Bourret, former comics editor, who looked at those early reviews and asked us to keep going.

This will be the last Random Comics of the Week. This column was designed because I wanted to have comic reviews on the site, but I knew that my own pull list would not be able to sustain anyone’s interest but my own. Now, we have a team of four people with varied tastes and the time seems right to jump to a more comprehensive review site.

So we’ve decided to do something special for our last issue, but looking back at the last 99 weeks of Random Comics of the Week. So here it is, the Best of Random Comics of the Week.

—Miles Baker

Owen’s Random Comics

Worst Random Comic: Ghost Rider #19

I really hated this issue. I hated how bland and uninteresting all the supporting characters were, I hated the dialogue, and I hated the character of Ghost Rider for having been in such a terrible comic. I don’t know what surprised me more, though, the fact that a little over a year later Jason Aaron would turn Ghost Rider into my book of the month or that Daniel Way is now doing amazing work on Deadpool. The second one.

pvpBest Random Comic: Daredevil #117

I may not be a regular Daredevil reader, but this was a great book.

Most Random Random Comic: PVP #34

I still can’t believe I had to get this. What’s the point? *glances over at my Perry Bible Fellowship collection* Shut up, it’s not the same thing.

Series I Started Buying After Randomly Getting One: Hack/Slash

I loved that random issue I read. It was great (and made a run at the title of Best Random Comic). Unfortunately I didn’t love future issues as much as that first one, but I had fun reading some more issues before they brought in the Suicide Girls and I stopped buying it.

Favourite Random Review: Omega the Unknown #4

I enjoyed my review of Omega simply because of how confused I was. I gather the book is actually quite good (you know…what with the Eisner nomination and all), but man…I had no idea what I had just read.

thespiritMiles’ Random Comics

Series I started Buying After Randomly Getting One: The Spirit #8

I fell in love with this series immediately. Re-reading this review, it’s not as glowing as it should be. After reading this comic, I bought the rest of the series in issue form, followed by buying both hardcover collections the day they came out. It really is a great series and I miss it a lot.

Most Random Random Comic: Tie: Ubu BuBu #2 and Beanworld

I haven’t thought about these books a lot since I read them because it’s impossible to think about them in any serious capacity.

Worst Random Comic: All-Star Batman and Robin # 10

When the subject of bad comics comes up in a conversation, I pull this book out of my crappy comics cupboard (yeah, that is a really thing I have) and get angry all over again. This comic was pure garbage. I remember my hands were shaking with anger as I wrote the review.

Best Random Comic: Hawaiian Dick #4

This was really hard to pick. A lot of great comics stand out: Transhuman, Unknown Soldier, Hellboy, Jack of Fables, Hellblazer, and I know there were many more. This book has stuck with me since I wrote the review. I haven’t made good on my promises to fill in the rest of the series, but I will one day.

Best Random Review: The New Avengers: Illuminati #5

Looking back on these reviews was a large task. I wrote on approximately 95 of the 99 random reviews we did. I’m really proud of that, but I still cringe at some very awkward sentences that plague my writing to this day. I picked this one because I remember being really proud of my fake Skrull titles (“Marvin, Skrull Ruler” and “Skrull Man: Enslaver of Humans”)  and I still think they’re really funny. I also think it’s funny to threaten Bendis and that I look like a complete whack job in this review. So there you have it: INSANITY FOR THE WIN!

literalsOwen’s Book

The Literals #1
Written by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges
Art by Mark Buckingham
Vertigo Comics, 2009

If you like the Fables universe this will be a lot of fun for you, but despite the large “#1” on the cover this comic is not a good entry point for a new reader. Nor do I think it was intended to be. I think that in planning their Fables/Jack of Fables crossover event Willingham and Sturges decided that they needed a little more room to tell their story, and so here we are.

The main question I have is why a whole new book to do it in? Why not just more issues of Fables and Jack? My first theory was that The Literals would spend more time focusing on the characters referred to in the title, the newcomers who were created (mostly) in the Jack of Fables series. However, they aren’t the focus of this first issue, at least not any more so than in certain Jack issues. Oh, sure, we open with one of them, and we get a few greats scenes with him, but I don’t know that it’s enough to name the miniseries The Literals. Instead time is pretty equally divided between that character (who I’m not referring to by name, by the way, in case someone hasn’t read Jack of Fables, where there is a reveal about this in volume 4) and the Bigby/Snow/Gary/Revise quest.

This leads me to my current theory about why this story is in its own mini. The series serves as a way to build momentum for the crossover. Rather than have all nine issues in the main series, which would mean that the crossover would run over approximately five months, we introduce a new mini which cuts down the time to three. To this I say “Hell, yes.” This crossover is now practically a weekly series, and I approve of this wholeheartedly. At this point in my review it occurs to me that I haven’t really been making sense, and that this review is fairly stream-of-consciousness…y.  So I’m going to wrap it up.

My confusion about the series’ purpose aside, this is a fun comic (provided you’re already a Fables fan, and if you’re not then run out and buy volume 1 right now). “The Great Fables Crossover” is shaping up nicely, tying Jack’s weirdness into the main series, lightening up Fables for a while after 20 or so rather dour issues, and answering some questions we were asking. It’s neat to see Mark Buckingham try his hand at the Jack of Fables cast (he kicks ass, by the way) and our beloved writers do some fun work analyzing and dramatizing the act of storytelling. So, I give this issue a big thumbs-up, provided you’re up to date on all that is going on in the Fables-verse.

spawn_cov191Miles’ Book

Spawn #191
Written by Todd McFarlane
Art by Greg Capullo, Whilce Portacio, and Todd McFarlane
Image Comics, 2009

My first thought when opening this comic was, “That’s a lot of of blood-covered underboob.” Then my heart sank because it was clear that I was going to spend even more time with this comic and then even more time reviewing it. Angel torture porn, people, that’s what we get with Spawn #191. We start with some porny torture, move on to some confusing ass shit that’s mostly a recap with no movement in plot, and then we close out the issue with a little more torture porn.

Todd McFarlane should stick to making collectable toys.

I like the toys. I look at them on the shelf in the Silver Snail, they look really cool, and I have no interest in buying them — they just sit there not offending anybody. The same is true of Spawn: it sits there on the shelf, there’s an awesome cape on most covers, and I have no interest in buying it. The difference, now, is that I’ve read the comic and it offends me with its terrible writing, art, and extremely questionable treatment of women.

To be clear, I don’t know anything about the Spawn mythos. I know it used to sell more comics than all the comics on the shelves today combined and now sells a tiny fraction of that. I know there was a movie that no one liked and a cartoon series that a lot of people did. But I don’t know what he’s about, what he does, why he’s in a comic, why any of these things are happening in this comic, and this comic isn’t helping me to understand any of it.

Which can be fine, if any of these things didn’t seem like boring, well-trodden plots: there’s a war in heaven, a reporter getting to the bottom of a case too big for him, female characters who just want attention/serve as motivation for character decisions/are doormats.

And maybe the worst offender of them all: the exclamation point. McFarlane seems to think a sentence isn’t complete if there isn’t an exclamation mark at the end of it. It’s like McFarlane knew the dialogue was stilted and saddled with mountains of exposition or obtuse hints to future mysteries so he tried to spice it up with punctuation. And, boy, it does not work.

Seriously, Todd, stick to the toys. The toys don’t talk.

greenIsaac’s Book

Green Lantern #40
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencilled by Philip Tan
DC Comics, 2009

This is kind of a crazy issue of Green Lantern; for the most part of the issue, they’re trying to explain what this “Agent Orange” character can do and really show us why we should be scared of him. But they fail at this.

Oh, I’m totally scared of him (in as far as I’m scared of almost any fictional characters), don’t get me wrong, but they failed to explain the how of what he does. It’s one guy, but he’s absorbed these other people to do his bidding, but he can absorb them using the people he’s absorbed and doesn’t have to be anywhere near the place? I guess? [Editor's note: I'm confused too.]

I wouldn’t have any problem with being unclear on what this guy can do, because normally I’d be sure I’d find out eventually… except this was the explanation. I am sure this was their big effort to explain the guy, and now we’ll move off to some other colour-coded corps introduction leading up to the “Blackest Night” story line.

The art is dark and sketchy, as if Tan here went to the Kubert School of Art. It’s not really my cup of tea, a little too consciously “cool” for my tastes, especially since it is a style that can’t do humour. There’s a scene where Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern, is flying erratically with a blue ring stuck on his finger and he needs to hope for something in order to get the thing off — but what to hope for?

“World peace. I hope for world peace!”

Insincerity Registered — then Hal crashes. It’s pretty funny, but could you imagine that scene as done by Kevin Maguire of Justice League International fame?

There’s a backup story by Johns with Rafael Albuquerque on art, and that’s a guy who can do humour and action. Not only is his last name great, but he had an extended run on the recent Blue Beetle series. This backup piece was a story featuring a Flintstones-esque garbage disposal creature as the protagonist, so no, it’s not going to be an all-time favourite story — there was a definite Green Lantern deficit — but it was cool.

This is not an issue for newcomers to jump on with, but it wasn’t bad. We’ll see what the next issue brings.

kick_ass_6Sandra’s Book

Kick-Ass #6
Written by Mark Millar
Art by John Romita Jr.
Icon, 2009

It was very hard to say, “No,” to a picture of a smiling girl covered in blood that was clearly not her own. In her hands were two swords still dripping fresh blood from the severed bodies that lay at her feet. As I finished the last page, there was a sudden fury of questions that flooded to mind, such as “Why have I not read this before? What hole have I been in? Why is Hit-Girl’s head so big?”

This latest issue of Mark Millar’s Kick-Assfocuses on a duo comprised of a Punisher-esque father and his daughter, Hit-Girl. In the issue, Hit-Girl tells the story of the their “secret origin,” which essentially is about a good cop who refused to be bought by the bad guys, and one day, in order to teach him a lesson, the bad guys went after his family, murdering his wife. He’s left running away with his baby girl in arms, swearing to one day avenge the death of his wife. Ever since then, Big Daddy and Hit-Girl have been killing every bad man in town, living up to the promise he made. I mean, I thought about it, and if Frank Castle had a daughter, I could see him taking her along on his missions, shooting her in the chest as part of her training, and, as a reward, going out for an ice cream sundae. I know, I know -before you cry and throw your hands up and cause a big kerfuffle, she was wearing a bullet-proof vest. Come on, the safety of children is still the number one priority around here. Why else would you ever teach your daughter to shank a junkie in the nuts if he pulls a gun on you? It’s to keep her safe, of course.

I can’t really say anything about the series in general, since the main character David Lizewski barely even shows up in this issue. However, from what I know of it, it seems like an interesting concept. What if one day we decide that superheroes shouldn’t be contained to only the fictional pages of a comic book and instead be part of reality? What if, with superpowers or not, we decide to don a clearly unflattering body suit and create our own justice? That’s what David Lizewski did, or at least, that’s what I get the sense of. However, being that the main focus was on the story behind Big Daddy and Hit-Girl, I felt that it was well-written, and I was touched by their relationship. I mean, he’s a dad trying to do what he feels is best to protect his daughter, and that’s by teaching her how to kick ass. Yes, it’s very violent, and yes, she’s only ten, and yes, maybe this is taking it too far, but for her, this is the only life she knows, and as far as I’m concerned, she loves her father and he loves her. That’s good enough for me.

John Romita Jr.’s cartoony style helps to subdue the violent and graphic nature of the comic; it would be a very different story if someone like Steven Dillon got ahold of this.  Overall, this was a great story, and I want to see what happens next. I want to see how they get out of the mess they’re in. Makes me feel nostalgic for the days when Dad used to take me people-hunting. Maybe I should give him a call…

buckrogersMiles’ Book

Buck Rogers #0
Written by Scott Beatty
Art by Carlos Rafael
Coloured by Carlos Lopez
Dynamite Entertainment, 2009

I fear that with only twelve pages of story that it will take longer to read this review than to actually read Buck Rogers #0. Priced at 25 cents, this issue is designed to whet your appetite for the further adventures of Buck Rogers that will start in June.  And when judged by that criterion, this book succeeds, but doesn’t accomplish much else.

Scott Beatty does a good job getting us into Rogers’ head. He’s a likable and resourceful guy that you want to know better.  However, reading some of the captions and dialogue was like riding a seesaw of quality: sometimes they were really good, and sometimes really bad. The best of example of how quickly the book can turn from bad to good is this scene where Rogers is fighting large, gelatinous creature:

Ganymedian alien: INGESTION
Buck Rogers: Would you settle for — INDIGESTION! [Shoots his gun three times into the alien to no effect]
Caption: That’s what you get for bringing a gun to a slime fight, Buck.

What a bad action hero comeback, and what a great thought. You see why I waffle.

The new costume looks really cool, although it looks a lot like Havok from Uncanny X-Men.  I don’t really have a problem with that, but I do have a problem with the cheek pieces.  From a lot of angles, the shape of Rogers’ skullcap betrays Rafael’s art because it looks like he has drawn his characters with massive cheekbones. I think it looks awesome on the cover, but it’s not a practical choice.

I think it was a smart decision not to release this as a free comic at Free Comic Book Day, because it might have got lost in the shuffle, and this book does deserve a look through.

mightyavengersIsaac’s Book

Mighty Avengers #24
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Rafa Sandoval
Marvel Comics, 2009

I was down on this new Avengers team because there are tons of Avengers teams right now. This isn’t news.  But you know what I found when I cracked open this tome? The JLA.

Okay, let me clarify that statement: when Grant Morrison started up the Justice League as the book JLA, maybe you didn’t like the characters, maybe some of the plots were hard to follow, but you have to (have to) admit those were epic adventures. Suddenly you could see why you’d need a gathering of Earth’s mightiest heroes when you’ve got things like thought-beasts from the googleplex dimension threatening to erase reality through their own breathing showing up every week. Or you know, something else suitably grandiose.

Now for me, the Avengers have never been able to measure up to that standard, which is understandable. The current Justice Leaguebook also fails to reach those heights, so it’s not a DC versus Marvel thing that I’m talking about. But the New Avengers just hang out in an apartment and watch TV while having stilted conversations among themselves. Obviously the Dark Avengers are bad guys, so they lose points with me there (though the time travelling villainess from their first story arc was pretty good, if temporally problematic. Not as problematic as some say, however.) And then there’s the Mighty Avengers.

The Mighty Avengers! These guys spend the whole issue fighting giants monsters, first a larger-tha- life Swarm (the Nazi whose body is made of millions of bees), and then some big old C’thulu-like looking guy, with some other stops along the way. A reporter says “by our count, this is the tenth superhuman crisis you’ve averted today.”

“That sounds about right.”

See, I’m sorry, but if this kind of thing happens, there shouldn’t be time for a superhero civil war. It’s a fun story, don’t get me wrong, but there’s other stuff to be doing out there.

For a story titled “Chasing Ghosts” you know Quicksilver is going to feature prominently. He’s got a sweet new outfit that is a clever redesign of his original, but I guess that’s not important. I like it though. Anyways, Quicksilver spends most of the issue chasing after the Mighty Avengers based off whatever news he has handy, so he can join up and chill out with his sister again, but the main group always ditches him and teleports to the next disaster. It’s pretty hilarious, but don’t worry: he eventually gets accepted. Speaking of hilarious, Quicksilver goes on TV and says that all the jerk stuff he’d done recently was the work of a Skrull and not him at all. Jarvis and Hank Pym know that’s untrue, but figure second chances are a good thing.

Well, Pym says second chances are a good thing; Jarvis, on the other hand, thought this Quicksilver claim was important enough to interrupt Jocasta, who was about to let Pym know that their secret base had its tether to reality cut, and that, given enough time, they’d be stranded outside of space and time forever. Priorities, Jarvis!

overlookMiles’ Book

Overlook #1 (of 3)
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Alejandro Aragon
Shadowline/Image Comics, 2009

The cover of my random comic had furry anime girls wearing bikinis in a hot tub. I couldn’t bring myself to bring it up to the counter: “It’s for a review.” “Right.” So I went looking for something with a cool cover that could use exposure, and here is that review.

Overlook has an amazing first page. It’s a splash page on a guy getting punched in the face: “This is my ‘getting my ass kicked’ face. The name’s Mickey ‘the Nickel’ Nicholson… And I’ll do just about anything for a buck.” That’s the kind of page that makes me say “sold” and want to turn to the next page.

Soon Mickey, a former crooked cop and now small-time prize fighter, gets involved with Mr.  Corletti, a former mob boss that has claims to have gone legit. Well, kinda legit. Corletti reaches out to Mickey to kill his unfaithful wife in exchange for the murder of anyone Mickey wishes.

There are a few scenes that aren’t needed and show Williamson to be a new writer.  Most of them are pretty forgivable, even the final page where the mob boss is like, “hopefully Mickey won’t notice that not everything is as it seems.” Duh, come on Williamson, the mob boss lied? That’s not a cliffhanger. I already knew he lied because I have seen a gangster movie before.

But, other than a few scenes like that, the book is smartly self-aware. Williamson acknowledges his plot is lifted from Strangers on a Train and makes a nice, in-character joke with it.

The art is generally excellent, with a couple of funny looking panels here and there. Aragon works well in the genre and renders shadows well.

In all, it’s a great book and you should pick it up if you’re a fan of crime stories.

Isaac’s Book

Oracle: The Cure #2 (of 3)Oracle: The Cure #2 (of 3)
Written by Kevin VanHook
Pencilled by Julian Lopez and Fernando Pasarin
Inked by Bit and Norm Rapmund
Cover by Guillem March
DC Comics, 2009

For whatever reason, I don’t often list the inker of these books I review, or the cover artist, for that matter. Sometimes it’s because that information is redundant (with the regular penciller or even the writer pulling double- or triple-duty), or because I don’t have anything I want to say about those creators, and don’t want to give up my precious, precious word-count to include them in the credits.

I have to mention these guys today, however, because March’s cover is gorgeous (if oddly provocative) and Norm Rapmund is the guy who inks all of Dan Jurgens stuff over in Booster Gold, which makes that book look amazing — and who doesn’t want me to give a shout out to Booster Gold in every random review?

It’s very odd to see Barbara Gordon going around outside of her clock tower or other sequestered high-tech location; it’s like we’ve gone back in time ten plus years to when she couldn’t just click a button to get all the information required. This isn’t just change for the sake of change either, and it seems to incorporate current DC comics’ events: specifically Final Crisis laying waste the world’s internet. At least I think that’s what’s happened, but then again Darksied doesn’t seem like he’d care to destroy the internet.

Regardless of the why, Barbara Gordon is hitting the town, doing some investigating and fighting and whatnot. It’s impressive the strength and vulnerability portrayed simultaneously within Gordon. I’m not really surprised, she’s a great character, but I never get to see her be a great character. Usually she’s utilized as a deus ex machina to help out other characters. True, I could go buy Birds of Prey trades to see her doing well. Fine, I will.

It’s cool that they have a section of the story take place in an online videogame world and an ambiguously virtual reality cyber-world. It’s like they travel to World of Warcraft and take a side trip to the Neuromancer world. The incorporation of both those ideas in one place is something I’ve never really seen before, but it’s interesting because of how much more “true to life” the story becomes as a result.

Titled as a “Battle for the Cowl” tie-in, the story really doesn’t have much to do with that at all. I mentioned already how it utilizes the fallout from Final Crisis, but it also talks about Wendy, the Calculator’s daughter, who is in a coma after an attack over in the Teen Titans’ book. It helps that I keep up with the Titans (for now) but it may be a bit of a surprise for other readers.

A cool comic, but it’s all building up to the showdown in Issue Three, so now I’m stuck picking up that issue. And I guess I have to go back to get issue one as well. I’m trapped!

marvelsuperheroesOwen’s Book

Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #10
Written by Todd Dezago
Art by Derec Donovan, Scott Koblish & Vicente Cifventes
Marvel Comics, 2009

I’ve been hearing about the wonders of the Marvel Adventures line for quite some time now. Many people have been raving about how the all-ages stories featured in these books are great for, well, all ages including adults. I’ve heard that these kid-friendly stories are filled with more creativity, fun, and awesomeness than many of the more “adult” Marvel comics. Luck must not have been on my side, because I wasn’t all that impressed with the one I got.

That’s not to say it’s bad. By no stretch of the imagination was it a bad comic, I just think that the comic I read was strictly for the kiddies. It’s a cute little story about Ant-man taking on Sandman. Get it? Ants dig in sand? It’s totally the kind of thing I would have been into as a wee lad. But now? Not so much. Now it gets more of a light smirk and a nod and then it’s forgotten a couple of minutes later. So yeah, the art is fine, the writing is fine, just don’t buy it unless you have a kid to give it to.

Oh, but that cover is awesome.

761402-marvel_zombies_4__1_001_superMiles’ Book

Marvel Zombies 4 #1 (of 4)
Written by Fred Van Lente
Art by Kev Walker
Coloured by Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Marvel Comics, 2009

As much as I liked the original Marvel Zombies series, I haven’t bothered to follow it since then. I feel like it was pretty complete on its own and offered me exactly what I wanted: zombie versions of all my favourite Marvel characters.

Now, two complete series later, it’s offering me a story about Morbius, Werewolf by Night (odd how I read two things about him back-to-back and nothing before that), Jennifer Kale of Witches, and Hellstorm. Who the fuck are these people? I know Morbius through the 90s Spider-man cartoon and a couple random issues where X-Man and Spider-man crossed over in the 90s, but that’s it. You’re also tempting me with a zombie version of The Hood? Dude’s only been in, like, 30 issues of the regular Marvel universe.

That said, this issue actually wasn’t that bad. It delivers carnage, zombie fish-people, and a bodiless version of Deadpool (“the merc with only a mouth!”).

Van Lente is a funny writer. I mean ha-ha funny. While the characters in this book aren’t that funny, there is a humour to the writing. There’s a great scene where Morbius describes his new bullets that blow up zombies as “cinematic.” It’s a moment that makes you laugh silently and go “nice,” as the caption and the exploding zombie collide.

And Walker draws a satisfying exploding corpse to match. If you can get $3.99 of value from those things, then you’re a good candidate to buy this book.

ignition-cityOwen’s Book

Ignition City #1
Written by Warren Ellis
Illustrated by Gianluca Pagliarani
Inked by Chris Drier
Avatar Press, 2009

Warren Ellis is a crazy, crazy man. Between rumours of him requesting vodka and Redbull in his hotel room at conventions and him writing some of the most messed-up stuff on the racks, there’s no doubt that I’d be intimidated to meet him. Especially because I’m not a huge fan of his work. That is not to say that I don’t think his work is good, it certainly is, I just find that it doesn’t usually click with me personally. There are exceptions, of course, I loved his short Thunderbolts run and Fell is fan-bloody-tastic, and of course, there’s Planetary. But more times than not, I feel like Ellis cares more about developing his brilliant (and they are usually brilliant) ideas than developing his characters.

Which brings us to Ignition City, his newest book (at least until another one comes out next week, I’m sure, how does he have time to write all these books?) for his Avatar imprint. And you know what? I don’t know what to make of it. I found the first few pages of mind-numbingly-boring exposition grueling to get through. Sure, he had a character filling the reader in, but it was so bland he might as well have made it a Star Wars-esque paragraph of text. After that, though, things start moving and we get to learn about our (probable) main character’s strained relationship with her mother. This I like, this is interesting. Her bizarre, midriff-revealing take on an Amelia Earhart costume aside, she becomes a character I connected with and her quest to learn more about her father is one I can get into. But then the book is sidelined by a multi-page tangent about some characters’ bowel movements. This would have been right at home in Transmetropolitan, but here…huh?

So, I guess after reading the first issue I don’t know if I can recommend this comic, because I don’t really know what the comic is. It seems to want to give us an alternate take on society adapting to space travel, but the style of the book shifts so dramatically several times throughout the first issue that I don’t even know if I liked it. Maybe you will?

Gen 13 Vol. 4 #29Isaac’s Book

Gen 13 Vol. 4 #29
Written by Scott Beatty
Art by Mike Huddleston
WildStorm Productions, 2009

This was an awesome comic! I may just start picking up this series I liked it so much.

First off, the cover is okay, it’s a pretty drawing and I’m sure it’s referencing some famous painting that I’m unaware of, but since I didn’t know the characters are supposed to have short arms (the two characters on the cover are adults trapped in toddler bodies) it looked like the cover artist was way off on his proportions.

The first sentence of the book? “My name is Percival Edward Chang and I am picoseconds away from becoming a hot lunch for a park full of post-apocalyptic cannibal skatepunks.” The whole of the book is in the same style, a kind of Tank Girl-Madman-Mike Allred (yes I know Mike Allred is the guy who does Madman, I still don’t think it’s redundant to say his name) fusion.

The toddler girl (from the cover) refers to Gen 13 as “those meddling teenagers”.

This is part nine of the story “Teenage Wasteland” (“No Country For Old Gens;” it just wouldn’t be a Gen 13 comic without a reference that dates it) so no, I don’t necessarily know what is going on, not with the Gen 13 guys, not with WildStorm in general. It looks like a post-apocalyptic future. At least, that’s how Grunge (Percival Edward Chang) described it in that first line, but was time travel involved? Are they just in a nasty part of a desert? New Jersey? (I apologize, that’s such a cheap old joke, and I’ve probably only been to Jersey once). Or did the artist just skimp out on appropriate backgrounds? It doesn’t really matter, because this issue isn’t specifically about that, it’s about humour and action! Granted it’s the kind of humour that takes a second glance to get because it’s all jammed in there. Here’s an example:

This girl Holly Denton from Gen 14 leaps into Meltdown’s arms instead of standing in the boiling spillage of the human soup. Meltdown, a sort of Human Torch, is ALSO hot, so Holly yells “HOT HOT HOT!”

Meltdown responds “Don’t you think I’m the lesser of two evils here?”

This exchange, all on one panel without showing Holly physically jump into Meltdown’s arms, takes a second to understand by the context of the dialogue. Holly could have just been saying that the soup was hot, and with that perspective, Meltdown’s line is just odd. But because we CAN figure out what is going on with just a second’s consideration, it’s a great style. It’s very much like Tank Girl with its high image to joke ratio, but interestingly enough, the quick shifts between the different bits of action which require dialogue to fully understand how we got from one panel to another is very reminiscent of old school comics, particularly Stan Lee’s work with the “Marvel Method”.

It’s almost like comics progressed from Stan Lee down to Grant Morrison in one continuity, and in an alternate, split timeline it progressed to the frenetic craziness shown here. Which I guess is kind of what happened, but without the alternate worlds to separate them. Which obviously makes it less fun to talk about.

Though I don’t think you need a recap for this kind of thing — it’s fun to piece together the past story on your own from what happens — for a team book you do NEED to have all the names of the characters listed somewhere. I’m happy to say they do have just such a list here, which includes powers and code names/real names, but it’s at the very back of the comic, which was kind of weird for me. At least it was there.

This comic was a lot of fun, check it out.

deadMiles’ Book

Dead of Night Featuring Werewolf by Night #4 (of 4)
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Mico Suaya
Marvel MAX, 2009

Behind this pretty cover is an ugly comic, but it’s an ugly I like. Holding true to its “adults only publishing group,” Werewolf by Night is a bloody, fucked up tale.

Before this issue begins, Jack Russell (like the terrier), our wolf, has been hiding his transformations his whole life. However, he’s just learned that he wasn’t so good at that and a secret organization has been following him. Perhaps it’s because some other wolf killed his wife and stole their unborn, but somehow alive at the beginning of this issue, baby.

Revelations galore then spew out in a couple exposition scenes, followed by a three-way werewolf/vampire/Frankenstein’s Monster fight where blood spews out, and then a chilling conclusion that sets up for a follow up miniseries — that also has some spewing blood.

The writing, while it offers some neat twists on werewolf mythology, isn’t that great. The characterization and dialogue are pretty flat. Everyone holds onto their “I’m super evil” or “I’m super trying to be not evil” personas throughout and no one really changes.

The art, however, works well with the genre and the story. Suaya is not trying to wow you with his amazing jaggy panels or oblong compositions, he’s focusing on strong story telling with good blocking. His still images are highly detailed and he’s an artist who knows how to draw more than one face. Plus, he does a good job with the gore.

This book really isn’t my bag. Honestly, I don’t find werewolves very interesting as a concept, which would probably be the big missing piece to me loving this story. But overall I say it’s well executed and would probably please most fans of the genre. You just can’t please everyone.

Owen’s BookDark Reign: Fantastic 4 #2

Dark Reign: Fantastic 4 #2
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Pencils by Sean Chen
Inks by Lorenzo Ruggiero
Marvel Comics, 2009

For fun I’m writing part of my review before I’ve read the comic and the rest after. Why not?

I’m not much of a Fantastic 4 guy. I feel like I’ve been saying that (basic) phrase a lot lately (I’m not a Ghost Rider fan, I don’t have much experience with Daredevil, etc), but I guess by coincidence I seem to keep ending up with these books in my hands and I think it’s important to let you guys know where I’m coming from with these reviews. I had a roommate who was a big Fantastic 4 fan, so I read his comics for a while and they never gelled with me. I’ve tried Ultimate Fantastic 4, the Fantastic 4 movie and Millar and Hitch’s Fantastic 4 with mediocre to terrible results (the latter being the movie). I heard that my much-loved Dale Eaglesham is going to be drawing an upcoming run, so maybe if I like the writer who’ll be working on it with him then maybe I’ll finally be a fan of the 4. In the meantime, let’s crack open Dark Reign: Fantastic 4 and see how this baby goes over.

After having read it…I liked it? Kinda? But…what’s the point? Why is this a “Dark Reign” tie-in? Shouldn’t this have been a Civil War epilogue? So, granted, I missed the first issue and maybe it would make more sense to me after having read more issues, but as far as I understand most of this issue is taken up by Reed Richards trying to figure out how the events of Civil War could have been avoided. There is a charming intro scene of Reed and Sue’s kids (they have two?) mouthing off to some H.A.M.M.E.R. agents and some awesome drawings of Thing with a monocle but overall I didn’t quite see why this comic is worth my time. This is a tremendous shame as Jonathan Hickman is a fantastic writer and deserves better than this book. But hey, I guess you’ve got to pay your dues before you get the big assignments.

So, no, this comic did not make me fall in love with the Fantastic 4. In fact, I would say this comic is for hardcore 4 fans only. It’s not bad, it just reads like something that was cooked up to cash in on an event. If you want to see what Hickman can really do then check out Secret Warriors.

capIsaac’s Book

Captain America Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1
Written by James Robinson
Art by Marcos Martin
Marvel Comics, 2009

Of course, I’m a sucker for stories that examine what makes a particular character heroic. So when Bucky circa 1942 looks at the soldiers about to take part in a mission with Captain America he can’t help but muse over what those soldiers see, which part of Captain America inspires them so. “Is it the costume? His physical strength? His fighting abilities? It’s all of them sure, but there’s one more thing.”

We flash back to 1940 as frail Steve Rogers is deemed unfit for active military duty — and with good cause! Rogers is little more than skin and bones, and it’s not just the anatomy that shows this, Martin makes sure to have him swimming in his clothing, with suspenders that dangle off his frame.

Speaking of Marcos Martin: we all know his stuff is amazing, but it’s incredible the amount of detail present here walking down the street; it’s a bustling new world of kids playing baseball in the street, cigar stores and ten cent haircuts. And don’t think I didn’t notice the golden age Human Torch flying across the sky in the background.

It isn’t long before Rogers is stuck trying to deliver a piece of jewelery to the Timely building while three sinister looking guys chase after him. This chase takes up most of the story, where we get to see Rogers be incredibly resourceful in evading his pursuers- borrowing a kid’s bat to spook a horse and jumping between trains, it looks like in Steve Rogers we’ve got a regular Marty McFly. Of course the reader gets a good thrill out of Rogers picking up a garbage can lid to shield himself from gunfire, before hurling it at those murderous thugs behind him.

Finally on top of the moving train they’ve got Rogers cornered, where they make the fatal mistake of calling him a coward and basically dissing America. The look Rogers gets in his eyes then, you’d think he’s about to Hulk out on us; he gives a flying tackle to the big guy that sends the two of them flying off the train for a thirty foot drop towards the street. The kid’s got guts, and Rogers lucks into landing in a chicken truck and living while the other guy finds that street lights aren’t so soft.

Ultimately, Bucky says that the thing which makes Captain America great is Steve Rogers, and it’s pretty hard to disagree with him here.

So right there, we have an awesome issue, but it doesn’t end there! No sir, because we get an old school comic reprinted in the back titled “Captain America: Death Loads the Bases” which was first printed in 1941.

Even as much as I love comics in all its forms, quite often those older issues can be too text heavy, not to mention the fact that the art was sometimes so obtuse that you needed a bit of dialogue to understand what was happening. It was a very different flavour of comic back then, but I’m pleased to say how surprised I was at this story, it was a lot of fun, a tight little mystery for Private Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes to solve using their fantastic alter egos Captain America and Bucky (Bucky must’ve missed the class on secret identities).

It’s goofy to see a totally baseball-centric adventure, with baseball puns flying to the beat of the right hooks thrown, while also having a very non-baseball villain running around in his generic cloak and cowl — the Toad. You might expect a more representative story for this Anniversary issue, with Cap punching Hitler of something, but really this is a kind of “averaging out” of Captain America’s old comic adventures, representative of what the fans would have read month to month, and great for this special issue.

ddOwen’s Book

Daredevil #117
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano
Marvel Comics, 2009

Daredevil is probably one of the best superhero comics I haven’t read. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have read snippets of the Ed Brubaker run, but I have never read any of Frank Miller’s or Brian Michael Bendis’ runs. It’s not due to any dislike for the character, I’ve just never gotten around to it. Still, I’ve liked what I’ve read of Brubaker’s, so I was looking forward to my random book this week.

But before we get into the story, I’ve just got to say, “What the hell?” Why does the cover advertise this story as Return of the King — part 2, while inside the book is called The Return of the King — part 1? Huh? Did I get in on this story at a good time or not? The last time I saw such ridiculous inconsistency was in Judd Winick’s Titans #1 (part 2 of a story…yikes). Having said that, Marvel graciously provides a recap page, and I felt quite at home getting into the story. Not only that, but I found it to be a pretty good one.

As I gather is usually the case, it sucks to know Daredevil almost as much as it sucks to be Daredevil. Bad stuff is happening to him and everyone around him:  people are quitting their jobs, going catatonic, and getting attacked by poison-gas (?) ninjas all over the place. The parts of the story that didn’t involve Kingpin coming back to New York were only moderately interesting to a newcomer, but I still enjoyed the issue. I could tell that this was an early chapter, and things would ramp up soon. After all, not every issue can be a climax.

The big thing I loved about this comic was the art. Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano drew the crap out of this issue. This is especially true of the sequence in the snowfall at the end, which was so awesome I had to turn to my fiancé, who was reading a book about the Group of Seven, and say, “look at this art, this is awesome.” And you know what? I didn’t even feel like an idiot for doing so.

xanaduMiles’ Book

Madame Xanadu #9
Written by Matt Wagner
Pencilled by Amy Reeder Hadley
Inked by Richard Friend
Vertigo, 2009

The best part of Madame Xanadu is its title character: a smart and resourceful magical being. While she spends most of the issue sitting around and predicting the future, she carries herself confidently while being introspective.

The real standout scene for me is Xanadu’s sexual encounter with another magically inclined fellow. It’s nice to see a sex scene where an empowered female accepts her sexual relationship as “sweet, but it’s destined to be only fleeting.” What’s even better is that the man she shares it with doesn’t judge her harshly for it. They handle it like responsible adults. Afterwards, they respect each other and help each other out. It’s a character-defining scene, and that’s why it works so well. Or maybe if you’re a couple hundred years old, sex isn’t a big a deal.

The art ranges from competent to innovative. Hadley handles the magic scenes the best — there’s a great scene where Xanadu does a card reading, and all the panels have curved edges to match the cards, and another one where the spell is broken down into fluid steps as if to show you exactly how to do the spell. Meanwhile, scenes without magic are normal and composed with pretty standard layouts. It’s a smart choice I just wish that the non-magical scenes had something more going on in them.

As far as random issues go, you pretty much can’t beat Madame Xanadu. Definitely worth checking out.

darkness76-cvrIsaac’s Book

The Darkness #76
Written by Phil Hester
Penciled by Michael Broussard
Top Cow Productions, 2009

I really don’t like decompression in comics, and it’s nice to see Ron Marz is in agreement with me. He writes a short letter against decompression that is printed on the last page of this issue it’s got his face and everything. Such a letter probably shouldn’t have appeared in this particular comic, however.

After the intro page which sets up the status quo for new readers, the classic “hero is heavily disempowered and has to earn his full powers back performing various tasks,” there are four pages without text. That’s a lot of pages if you ask me.

Jackie Estacado (The Darkness) is pretty unhappy with doing the dirty work of some demon, that is, whenever it involves killing a ten-year-old. I don’t know why he’s surprised that this kind of thing happens in his current line of work. When Estacado is told that the boy had the soul of a murderous Canadian frontiersman reincarnated in him, it doesn’t really help his attitude.

Okay three more pages without text… Ah, I apologize; there is a “ding” sound effect from an elevator.

This issue really should have started with these pages; it would be a little disorienting to just jump into this part with the red-ribbon wearing woman enticing Estacado to follow him down the street. We could have had a cool little stand alone issue with a Usagi Yojimbo flavour. Instead, this will probably be dragged out to a three issue story arc that doesn’t deserve the space.

So much is trying to be communicated by facial expressions in this comic; it’s too bad they all look the same. Wistful? Angry? Surprised? Yes, all these thoughts and more can be expressed by the same stony face.

There’s a cool part about the history of the Darkness power one that is passed down to new wielders through the years. Estacado acts like this is a surprise, but it’s a pretty standard feature of mysterious sources of dark magical power. The appearance of the villain for the next issue is also pretty cool; I would have liked to see some more with that guy.

Random Comics of the Week: Amazing Spider-Man

Posted by Comics On March - 20 - 2009

"Character Assassination" - get it?Isaac’s Book

Amazing Spider-Man #588
Written by Marc Guggenheim
Pencilled by John Romita Jr.
Marvel Comics, 2009

It’s all Spider-Man, all the time this week — sorry, DC. So now it’s just a matter of deciding which Spider-Man adventure to chat about. The Amazing Spider-Man gets the vote for a number of reasons, but mostly for a “cheesy lesson” moment, which I’m always a fan of. But I’ll talk about that later.

We pick up with Spider-Man about to dive into a fight with a prison full of convicts who wanted to take a pound of flesh from Peter Parker’s roommate, Vin Gonzales. After some fisticuffs and webbing, there’s this great moment where Spider-Man asks if Vin has voted yet (there’s a mayoral race going on in the Spider-verse), and Vin just asks, “Are you kidding?” as he gets pulled up in the air, his face all mangled from getting beaten. Trust me, it’s really hilarious.

I’ve heard several complaints about how the “New Ways to Die” story arc left so many plot lines dangling. Though I really disagreed with that (comics are serial in format; if you want all the plot threads wrapped up neatly, then you should stick to reading self-contained trades like Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns), I can’t imagine that the same charge could be levelled here. This storyline has revealed the truth behind Menace and his motivations, as well as who was behind the Spider-tracer killings — secrets we readers have been wondering about since the beginning of the Brand New Day era of Amazing Spider-Man.

One thing that has happened with increasing frequency are call-backs to past adventures; in this case, Spidey mentions that he hasn’t been “hurt like this since Morlun.” I’m a big fan of the little asterisks that direct us to boxes telling how such and such a thing certainly DID happen, in issue number whatever, but it’s pretty telling that this reference to Morlun does not have such an asterisk. These kinds of throw-away lines show that the writers are trying to convince us that the past Spider-Man stories totally did happen, and we don’t have to be mad about the magic wand of One More Day. If you’re trying that hard to make everything okay with us readers, then maybe you should just apologize and move on, you know? Either admit you made a mistake, or don’t allude to any such thing.

Okay, the “cheesy lesson” moment. I’d actually run into this little lesson in a potent, quotable type of thing a couple months ago — it kind of hit me in the head and really helped me out, so to see it again, especially coming from Spider-Man, was really cool. Harry asks Peter if he thinks the Osborns are cursed. Peter answers yes, but “we all have our cross to bear. All of us. It may seem like it’s heavier for some than others, but it’s not. Everybody’s got something.”

It’s really gratifying to see old Peter Parker take this stance, because he’s a guy that can get really self-involved and self-pitying; it’s great to be reminded that he can rise above that, and be a hero for more than lifting heavy things.

Though I do like when heavy things are lifted.

Miles’ Take733402-jan090180d_super

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1 (of 3)
Written and Pencilled by Tony Daniel
Inked by Sandu Florea
Coloured by Ian Hannin
DC Comics, 2009

With Batman considered dead Gotham is in shambles. This happens every time he leaves. He leaves for 30 seconds and the criminal underworld is like “SHIT. YEAH. TIME TO PARTY.”

And so they do with lots of looting and gang wars.

And nothing can stop them. Not even half of the Justice League can keep Gotham in order, which goes to show you that they are pretty bad at their jobs. In their defense, Gotham is “in the worst shape ever” but Gotham is always in the worst shape ever.

Meanwhile, Dick Grayson won’t listen to his closest friends and confidants as they’re like “Hey, Dick, you should be Batman.” And Dick responds, “I already told you no, and I’m not going to give any more reason than that because this has to be a three issue miniseries even though it’s pretty obvious I’m going to be Batman. That, or Bruce will be back in issue three. I’m calling it now. Who wants to bet?”

It’s really meta. (And didn’t really happen the way I just described.)

So, anyway, this is a really bad comic. On every level. The best thing I can say about it is that I didn’t notice any typos.

As a cartoonist, Daniel is a complete failure on this issue. His dialogue and panel composition are fighting each other. This was the best/worst example of that: the Black Mask has freed a busload of criminals and lined them up, tellin’ ‘em how it’s going to be when:

Panel one: prisoner about four feet away from Black Mask lunges at him.
Prisoner: Hey, didn’t you hear the lady? We’re not anyone’s followers!
Black Mask: Watch and learn, friends. M-32 Activate.
Panel two: Prisoner on knees in pain.
Prisoner: Rahh! Rahh! Garagh! Gaurhh!

Black Mask was able to get out two sentences during that lunge. There’s even a comma. The lunge must have been in slow motion or that was the unknown (and previously uncreated) Molasses Man, the slow and sticky terror.

That whole page is an asymmetrical mess, as is a lot of the book. He’s an artist who’s trying a lot of different techniques out, but he’s not applying them well. So I applaud his effort in trying to use the medium, I just wish he were more careful about it.

battle-for-the-cowl-batman-4134303-1000-690

Isaac’s Take

We’ve been inundated for so long with the “Epic” Batman stories, that it’s really nice to get what feels like a more simple, down to earth Bat-tale. Of course it’s interesting that a “simple Bat-tale” is one without Bruce Wayne. But that lack of the original Batman is already part of the strength of this book — I often find that the “big” characters have become too steeped in their own legend, that they don’t even stay human anymore. This is especially true for Bruce Wayne, who it’s become impossible to write an inner monologue for. Other than thinking about clues and strategies, if you have Batman thinking about his personal life or anything that really reflects on him as a person, it suddenly feels wrong. It’s a shame, since it’s those inner conflicts that often show the true character of someone; just check out some Batman and Detective Comics from the 70s and 80s for an example of a great guy who didn’t freak out his Robins.

It’s because of that void between the audience and the modern Batman that Robin has become even more valuable, as someone relatable to the reader and who can really draw you into the story. In that sense Robin is serving the very same function which he was originally created for. I shouldn’t be surprised then that Robin (Tim Drake) serves as the narrator for this comic with Nightwing (Dick Grayson) playing the silent brooding figure in place of Batman. It totally plays to the classic Batman and Robin conventions, though you’d think if there was ever a time to explore something outside of that dynamic, it would be now.

I don’t like the references to the Gotham Underground and the network of heroes, references to comics I didn’t read or didn’t like. I don’t need to be told the story about the bad guys being connected to each other, or the good guys calling in help when it’s rough outside; that’s neither a strange occurrence nor a stroke of brilliance. Team-ups happen, let’s move on.

batmans-death-and-the-battle-for-the-cowl-20090127042845520_640wThe detective work done by Tim towards figuring out who the guy is that’s pretending to be Batman is pretty cool, and it calls back the classic Tim Drake that was detective first, crime buster second. In fact, the act of putting on a Batman costume to fill the void when Nightwing won’t do it is also an iteration of a classic Tim Drake move, when Tim first started out it was in response to Batman’s freaking out over Jason Todd’s death (Robin II), and he went to become Robin because he felt it was needed. Not only that, but the Batman costume Tim is wearing is the same yellow circled, capsule belted, blue and grey Bat-suit that Bruce had back when Tim was starting out, and that’s awesome.

Little Damian Wayne appears here, it’s good that he’s not forgotten, and he’s portrayed as a real kid would be i.e. scared out of his mind of Killer Croc. I know I was irked about how super skilled this annoying kid was supposed to be (though not to the degree most people were I’m sure, but I’m a laid back kind of guy), and it looks like Tony Daniel is going to treat the kid as a character, and not just an idea that he’s in love with. There is of course the problem of how old he’s supposed to be. It’s a classic comic conundrum: Damian is looking and acting like he’s ten or so, but he was also joy riding in the batmobile with some girl he met up with. I don’t know, it’s always a weird situation when kids come into the story, and a lot of writers just don’t know what to do. I’m not sure having that random girl get eaten by Killer Croc was the answer.

I really hate when a story is decompressed to last for six issues with the purpose of becoming a lacklustre trade (my major point of contention with most of Marvel, Spidey excluded of course) and I know it’s technically just as bad when an issue is super crammed full of stuff… but I tend to love it. Maybe it’s the Scrooge McDuck in me, but I like getting my money’s worth in a comic. Yes, things can go too fast, and you don’t know what’s going on. Yes, a crazy hologram of Oracle shows up out of nowhere to get the story moving along and I’m wondering “was that projected out of a rock? Has rock technology progressed that far?” Maybe an additional panel of Nightwing walking to a batcomputer is something they should have found time for, or even better, spent time explaining how all those crazy criminals were able to track down Nightwing and Damian to lead up to an epic battle, but I don’t really care that much. They should explain that, but that can happen next issue (I know they probably won’t explain it, but it isn’t something to hold against the first issue of three); right now I’m just enjoying how cool that classic Tim Drake is.

Random Book of the Week pt 2: The Boys

Posted by Comics On March - 10 - 2009

729277-tb_028_01_superIsaac’s Book

The Boys #28
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by John Higgins
Dynamite Entertainment, 2009

I’ve read the first few issues of The Boys, and it’s a pretty straightforward premise — group of people set to slap down superheroes when they get out of line. In those beginning issues the Boys recruit Hughie even though he has no discernible skills to bring to the team. Yes, Hughie acts as a narrative frame for the stories, but that can’t be the only reason he’s around. It’s 28 issues later, and Hughie is still an unbelievable liability. Were there a couple issues where he had Rick Jones or Franklin Richards’ mega-powers, but they just went away? Why is he still here?

It’s things like this that throw me out of the world of this book. I’m normally pretty good with suspension of disbelief, but with a book like this that has an amount of hyper-graphic violence that I am just not interested in, it has to keep my attention by making sense. I’ll forgive a crazily-difficult-to-explain web-parachute, because I like Spider-Man. I don’t like these characters, so they can’t be making web-parachutes! (They don’t actually make web-parachutes, that’s just an example, and I like saying “web-parachutes.”)

There are a lot of people wearing costumes in this comic; the creators need a world filled to the brim with powerful super-guys for the premise, but these costumes look pretty lazy to me. I’d rather have a few really cool-looking characters than legions of whatever this is. That said, I do know that some of these are intentionally bad, like the team of “in-training” heroes (think original X-Men, or New Mutants), but still I don’t have to like it.

There’s a part where said in-training heroes are about to kill Hughie, when two other members of the Boys show up, the Frenchman and the Female. Turn the page and fight scene over, every one of those in-training guys are dead, excepting the last man needed for interrogation.

I just have to ask again,  if two members of the Boys could beat a six-man team of superheroes in-training without breaking a sweat, why is Hughie with them?

The Boys aren’t really the underdogs in this comic, all the super heroes are despicable (hence the need for the Boys). So who am I rooting for here? The answer is technically Hughie, but I just don’t see any reason for him to be around. He probably doesn’t even have a tenth-level intelligence.

That was a Legion of Superheroes joke. Feel free to laugh.

Random Comics of the Week: Chucky

Posted by Comics On March - 6 - 2009

Ew.Miles’ Book

Chucky #1
Written by Jason Burns
Art by Christopher Provencher
Colours by Nick Deschenes
Devils Due Publishing, 2009

If there is one thing that’s less interesting than watching reality television, it’s reading a parody of one. I’ve spent more time reading send ups of reality television than I’ve spent watching them on television. I’m sick of making fun of reality television. There’s nothing funny about it except the title (Bro)mance. That’s just so funny on so many levels.

I’ve never seen any of the Child’s Play movies, so I can’t really judge if this is a faithful adaptation. I do, however, know that Chucky is from Child’s Play without looking on Wikipedia, so that’s something.

Anyway, yeah, I hate this comic. It’s terrible in every way.

The art is especially bad. This guy has no idea how to ink a comic, and neither he nor the colourist can seem to pick an angle for light to come from. And, like, why  have a an establishing shot that sets the placement of the characters if you’re going to ignore it on the same page. I had to go back and check the colours of their shirts because I thought I’d made a mistake; but, no, it was the artist.

The dick joke to page ratio in this comic is astounding. Like, two to one.  I’m not sure anyone over the age of 15 thinks that these are funny. Even marginally funny. They’re not even clever dick jokes. It’s just gross. Especially — even though it’s not a dick joke — a line where Chucky calls an aroused woman a fresh wound.

Just.

God.

Really?

This is your title character? Do people hope he’ll say stuff like this? Do people cheer for Chucky?

Off topic, one thing I just will never get, is why is it okay to show Chucky stabbing a man through the neck with a large needle and it’s not okay to show breasts. If you’re going to have gratuitous violence, why not just have gratuitous boobs. It’s not like a no-nudity clause is written into her contract.

To sum it up, don’t buy this comic.

Random Comics of the Week: Unknown Soldier and Hack/Slash

Posted by Comics On February - 27 - 2009

Unknown Soldier #5Miles’ Book

Unknown Soldier #5
Written by Joshua Dysart
Art by Alberto Ponticelli
Colour by Oscar Celestini
Vertigo, 2009

This is why I love “Random Comics of the Week”: for those weeks where you find a gem. A gem you have never even heard of. A gem soaked in blood and anguish. A gem called Unknown Soldier.

In a church in Acholiland, Northern Uganda, circa 2002, Moses Lwanga beats the walls just to feel the adrenaline. I don’t know what happened to make the man covered in bandages mad, but it seems to be something big. He’s approached by an old CIA agent, and that’s where this story of civil war and personal horror begins.

What I find most impressive is how much character I was able to get from everyone in such a short period of time. Especially from the main character, Moses. His flashbacks are short, comprising maybe four pages of the issue in total, but their economy of character is impressive. You get an amazing sense of who this man was, a shocking contrast with who he is now.

What happened in between, I’m not exactly sure, but I’m going to buy the trade to find out.

The CIA agent also comes across as a fully-realized character and he only has about 10 lines. That’s good writing. I love his exit line (to a small boy asking him if he made Moses leave) of, “Look, I figure he’s going back to the IDP camp on the road to Gulu Town. If the army asks, tell ‘em that. Just don’t mention me if you can help it.” I love how ambivalent that is. It makes me want to know more about him.

Ponticelli’s art can be a little uneven at times, but he makes up for it with incredible expression, and his shocking violence. He doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war but he also doesn’t glorify it. It’s terrifying and rips people apart.

To make the violence even more real, the issue includes Part 3 of a history of Uganda, written by the author.

Apparently, Unknown Soldier will wrap up with the next issue, so I urge you to please, pick up the trade. Pick up all the issues. Something. I’ll be there with you. This small taste has me convinced the meal will be worth it.

Hack/Slash: The Series #20Isaac’s Book

Hack/Slash: The Series #20
Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Dexter Soy
Devil’s Due Publishing, 2009

I’d heard about Hack/Slash before, and knew the premise well enough: girl survivor of basic slasher movie plot goes off to hunt the Jasons and Freddies of the world. It’s a really good idea — especially to someone who hates how inept people are in those movies — to have a character running around exploiting the “rules” of the slasher movie.

It’s unfortunate for me then that this is very much an in-between issue; the characters are all making references to how awesome/traumatic their last adventure was, while the bad guys are setting their nefarious plans in motion for the future.

We open up with our heroine Cassie Hack sitting in jail, before immediately flashing back a couple hours to when she walked into a police department without being aware of the federal warrant out for her arrest. The dialogue is pretty funny here, but then it’s ruined a page later when this other woman in jail says, “You went to go talk to the police, but ya didn’t even bother to see if there might be a warrant out for your arrest? That is stupid.”

Really? Is it really that stupid? I think it depends on the circles you run in. Maybe for you, who’s comfortably sitting in a jail cell, that would be stupid. Do most people have warrants out for their arrest?

Okay, I have to talk about something else, because the more I think about that line, the angrier I get about it.

There’s the other main character: Vlad is a hulking, scary-looking sweetheart of a guy, talking to Cassie’s girlfriend (maybe) whose name I’m never given — which is a problem — about how she’s Yoko Ono-ing the team dynamic.

There’s some pretty emotional dialogue here, but the art just doesn’t match it up. There’s not enough expression in the character’s faces — which would be fine in the understated reality we all live in, but for a comic book, particularly a comic set in the hyper-reality of a slasher movie, I just expect a little emoting here.

Speaking of the art, the cover for this book is amazing. It’s sold with two different covers, A by Erik Jones, and B by Shane White. I got the B cover, but they’re both great.

Cassie is assigned a public defender who looks like he’d be terrible, but who actually sounds pretty competent. I guess it’s cool that they’re subverting the convention of having a terrible public defender? Otherwise,  it’s just a mixed message that I totally don’t get the reason for.

By the end, Cassie has been abducted by some nefarious characters, and we get an okay action scene, but it seems kind of half-hearted.

I can’t really recommend this issue, but I think it’s just a fluke. Once things get rolling it’ll probably shape up. They keep mentioning how this series is being made into a movie, and that seems like the ideal medium for this story — I’ll keep my eyes open.

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