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#40 2/22/06 #4

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)

Indie Jones presents SUPERMARKET #1
Indie Jones presents…


Written by Doug Moench, Bill Mantlo, Steven Grant
Art by Don Perlin, Bill Sienkiewicz, Gene Colan, Jim Mooney, Jim Craig
Published by Marvel
Reviewed by Buzz Maverik

Know, O Talkbacker, between the time when the dudes drank kegs of beer and the rise of the sons of Shooter lay an Age of Bronze. Unto this: Buzz, bong in hand, destined to wear the ridiculous name of @$$hole with a sarcastic smirk. It is I, his Kronic-dealer, who alone has enough brain cells left to tell thee of his saga. Come, let me tell you of the days of getting high while reading comic books...

Last year's ESSENTIAL WEREWOLF BY NIGHT VOL. 1 contained a number of disappointments for me, mostly because of the unlikelihood of an ESSENTIAL WEREWOLF BY NIGHT VOL. 2. We missed Jack Russell's sister, Lissa, falling victim to the Darkhold Curse. We missed Jack almost murdering his best friend. We missed Moench and Perlin's brilliant riff on Richard Matheson's HELL HOUSE.

Most of all, we missed Werewolf vs. Moon Knight.

We missed it so much that the good hearted Merry Marvel Madmen furnished it for us here in ESSENTIAL MOON KNIGHT VOL. 1. The book opens with black and white reprintings of WEREWOLF BY NIGHT # 32-33. As with the first outings of Marc Spector as a superhero in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT # 28-29, I was surprised at how well Don Perlin's art has held up. To be honest, I didn't like it too much at the time. Maybe the black and white helps; maybe it's clear that Mr. Perlin did werewolves and vigilantes better than he did regular folks; maybe I'm not as much of a stuck up little @$$hole bastard.

Moon Knight's first adventure? A criminal organization known as the Committee hires mercenary Marc Spector to capture a werewolf for them. They want the perfect, mindless, remorseless assassin to turn loose on their enemies on nights of the full moon. They outfit Spector with a silver suit, knowing that he has the extreme skills to do the job for them.

If Moon Knight would have never appeared again, we would have still got a great story. He was the perfect foe for a werewolf because he talked up a storm and was funny as hell. This works when your protagonist can only growl. One of these days, I'm going to review the overpriced trade OMEGA THE UNKNOWN. Best story: a mute Omega is captured by the most loquacious Electro seen to date, given inspired dialogue by writer Steve Gerber.

The writer on Moon Knight was Doug Moench. You'll still see him occasionally writing a LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT, if they still publish that (don't tell me if they don't because I don't want to know and it'll make you look like a geek -- I know because I am a geek and that's something I'd do). He did an incredible run on BATMAN / DETECTIVE COMICS partnered with artist Gene Colan, just before Frank Miller ruined everything.

Mr. Moench, of course, has Spector feel compassion for the freak he's captured. He collects his dough, frees Lissa Russell and Jack's love interest Topaz, and turns wolfie loose on the Committee. Coolness personified!

Moon Knight next turned up in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT, battling a villain out to control the mayoral race in The City. It was a Batman story for Marvel zombies, and a great omen for Mr. Moench's work on the Bruce Wayne books. After that, Moonie teamed up with Spider-Man, and then the Thing, before becoming a regular back up feature in Marvel's black and white HULK magazine. Somewhere in there, I think Moon Knight was a Defender (written by David Anthony Kraft: the Defenders attempt to rescue Nick Fury from his brother Jake, known as Scorpio. Moon Knight is locked in an escape-proof tank, which is being flooded. Jake Fury, fond of what I like to call "beer", tosses a can to Moon Knight as the top slides on. Next morning, the tank is drained and opened. Moon Knight is gone. Fury notes, "He even finished his beer.").

In the HULK back-ups, we first see MK drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz. Evidently, Mr. Sienkiewicz somehow slighted St. Alan on a book called BIG NUMBERS, so one of you will talkback as to his great Satanhood, but I'm sure my fellow @$$hole Dave will be able to present a more balanced viewpoint. Mr. Sienkiewicz is the artist most people associate with Moon Knight, with good reason. Much has been written about how both his magazine and comic work here resembles Neal Adams' BATMAN, which may be one of the greatest compliments a graphic storyteller can receive. I would call Mr. Adams "St. Neal" but by many accounts he is a bit of devil, which makes me admire him even more.

Bill Sienkiewicz came into his own on THE NEW MUTANTS, an odd choice for a breakout vehicle. Suddenly, we went from Sal Buscema artwork to the most visually stylish book of the time. Also, check out his collaborations with Frank Miller on ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN and a DAREDEVIL graphic novel.

The fact that Moench and Sienkiewicz produced the majority of the stories in this volume, and did them extremely well, makes MOON KNIGHT one of the rare work-for-hire (even though Moench co-created the character) comics with a cohesion of vision, at least at that time. The stories were ahead of their time, as well as giving Marvel what I consider its only true riff on Batman (counter-Earth doppelgangers, punishers and daredevils being unique creations in their own rights and draws).


Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Bart Sears
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

One of the toughest things to do when you’re reviewing comics is to remain objective. It’s almost impossible to look at comics with a truly objective eye. Personal quirks and preferences always come into play. Some would say that this is the best way to look at something like comics and yes, that is what has become known around these here parts as “The @$$hole Way.” Myself, I have my preferences and I’ve stated them loud and clear in most of my reviews, but occasionally, I like to challenge myself. I like to take a peek at stuff that, normally, I probably wouldn’t. It’s the Dr. Jekyll in me that throws me into experimental situations that I probably won’t like, but am interested in seeing what the outcome would be anyway. And maybe…just maybe…a nice little review will come out of the whole thing.

Take WARLORD #1 for instance. For me, this book had a whole lot going against it, but I took a peek at it anyway.

First and foremost, WARLORD #1 is written by ex-HULK scribe Bruce Jones. Over the last few years, I’ve made my dislike for Jones’ run on the HULK pretty clear. The meandering or non-existent plots. The complete omission of the title character in the storyline. The fact that Jones seemingly had never read a HULK comic book in his life and didn’t even want to look up past appearances of characters like Betty Ross, Doc Sampson, Absorbing Man, Abomination, the Leader, and even Bruce Banner in order to tell a story where they act like those characters should. All of these things were evident in his run on the HULK. On top of that list was the fact that it was pretty evident that Jones didn’t want to tell a story about the Hulk. It looked as if he wanted to tell a story about espionage, conspiracy, and deceit and shoehorned it into the Hulk Universe. He did that, to a certain degree. It was convoluted and drawn out, but he did do that. Although the simple fact is that, at the end of the day, when I pick up a Hulk book, I’d like to see the Hulk somewhere in it. And that wasn’t the case with Jones’ run on the Hulk. After Jones finished his run on the Hulk, I tried to avoid his writing like the plague, having been burned once by it.

Secondly, I really have no interest in the Warlord. I know nothing about the character. He looked cool with the silver goatee and fin helmet, but aside from an appearance in GREEN ARROW back when Chuck Dixon was writing the title, I never picked up a WARLORD comic.

Thirdly, I was completely turned off of Bart Sears’ artwork after his abysmal run on Priest’s most recent CAPTAIN AMERICA/FALCON series. At first, I kind of liked the puffy bubble muscles that decorated Sears’ panels, but after a while, his movement consistency from panel to panel lost me. There seemed to be entire sequences garbled by pin-up shots and some sequences seemed to be missing a panel or two. Reading CAPTAIN AMERICA/FALCON was work; the kind of work I don’t want to have to do when I pick up a comic.

So to recap, I had a dislike for the writer and artist, and complete disinterest in the title character. I probably hated this first issue of WARLORD, right?

Wrong. I kind of liked it, actually. This story of a hotshot test pilot, Travis Morgan, who goes missing and winds up on the fantastic world of Skartaris wasn’t half bad. I liked the sword and sorcery vibe. The set-up was pretty well done as Jones cuts between the events leading to Morgan’s fateful fight and the tumultuous state of Skartaris’ city Shamballah. The two plots collide as Morgan finds himself floating off the shores of the barbaric city just as the monstrous Brovis has taken control of the kingdom. This issue is well paced and versed. It flows nicely and leaves you with a cool cliffhanger that’ll have me back for more. Maybe it’s the fact that DC editorial saw the potential in Jones’ writing, but told him to pick up the pace. The writing is always better in this way at DC than at Marvel. Shit happens and issues move at DC. WARLORD is no exception.

My one complaint about the story? Well, it has to do with the fact that this issue doesn’t really take us into the head of Travis Morgan. We get a lot of dialog from Alexa, Morgan’s lover from Earth showing concern for her daredevil pilot beau. We get a lot of grief from Princess Tara, heir to the Shamballah throne which is being challenged by the powerful Brovis. We even get into the head of Regine, a sultry Shamballan citizen who finds Morgan in the waters off the beach. But we really don’t get anything from Morgan himself. Normally, this wouldn’t concern me since this is basically a set-up issue, but since this omission of the title character’s POV was my main concern about Jones’ run on HULK, it makes me raise my eyebrows and be a bit wary.

Bart Sears’ art has equally improved. The bubble muscles have been toned down to a more reasonable level and the people look less like they have a helium tube shoved up their asses. Sears’ consistency from panel to panel is better although there were a few times when the actions were obscured by the size and shape of the panel. It’s almost as if Sears sometimes tries to shove in too much movement on the page and at times, this doesn’t help clarify what’s going on. But the character’s costume designs are awesome. The cities are fantastic. There are a lot of really great visuals in this book.

But criticism aside, this was an entertaining first issue that made me give a fig about Warlord, a character I have had zero interest in. If the book centers in a little bit more on the title character and Sears keeps his bubble muscles and panel to panel transitions in check, this could be a promising title. At the very least, WARLORD is better than its’ creative teams previous books. It looks as if, sometimes, experimenting and challenging oneself isn’t that bad at all. At least this time it turned out that way.


Written by: Drew Melbourne
Pencilled by: Yvel Guichet
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewed by: superhero

Roommates suck.

Let’s face it. There’s nothing worse than not having your own living space. It sucks to have to plan your whole life around someone else whom you’re not particularly close friends with. When I finally got to the point where I could afford to live on my own it was one of the happiest days of my life. No one to have to deal with when you just wanted to be home alone by yourself. No one’s friends coming over whom you have to be polite to because you want to respect their space and hopefully have them respect yours. If you didn’t want to take out the garbage, you didn’t have to. If you didn’t want to wash the dishes you didn’t have to deal with anyone nagging you to do your share. Heck, I could even walk around all day in my underwear if I wanted to now that I had my own place. Of course, marriage changed all that. But that’s a story for another day.

ARCHENEMIES deals with the premise of two super-powered foes actually sharing an apartment together. It’s a really good concept that you’d think wouldn’t initially work but writer Drew Melbourne cleverly uses the idea of secret identities to make it believable. See, in ARCHENEMIES the superhero and the super villain share an apartment because of the fact that the two of them actually don’t know who the other one is. So during the day they mostly bug the hell out of each other because, well, they’re roommates and then at night they try and beat the hell out of each other because they’re, well, archenemies. Think of it as the Odd Couple but with superpowers. That’s pretty much the whole concept right there. Of course the two protagonists aren’t two middle-aged men who’ve been kicked out of their apartments by their frustrated wives but you get the idea.

The thing that impressed me the most about the book, besides the initial concept, was the art. Guichet’s art is great here as are Joe Rubenstein’s inks. Both of the artists working on the book really create a unique look for ARCHENEMIES that seems both familiar and yet incredibly original. It’s stylistic without being overbearing or confusing. The storytelling is solid and the art is just the right mixture of cartoonish style blended with straight on draftsmanship that it comes off as a pretty impressive looking comic. I did have some issues with the dark palette of the coloring in the book but that may have just been because of the sample pages I was provided with. The coloring came across a little too dark in places for my particular tastes and in some spots it took a bit of the life out of the visuals for me. It’s not badly colored but it just doesn’t seem to really fit the tone of the book.

As far as the actual story goes…it’s actually pretty amusing. My problem with the first issue is that it’s mostly telling the story from the perspective of the super-villain in the book. While this is actually good for the humorous side of the story it pretty much left me with almost not caring for the actual super-hero in the piece. It’s almost like the super-hero doesn’t actually even need to be in the book. As a matter of fact, I actually ended up finding the hero’s girlfriend more interesting than the hero himself! I’m hoping that by the second issue the writer’s able to flesh out the superhero’s personality a bit because as it is I actually found myself hoping that the super villain would be able to take him out somewhere in the course of the story. It’s almost like when I was a little kid watching Tom & Jerry cartoons and I found myself actually starting to feel bad for Tom because he’d just get the crap kicked out of him every time by that damned mouse. That’s sort of the feeling I started having reading this book. I didn’t actually sympathize with the hero because I didn’t really get to know him all that well. With the villain getting most of the screen time I actually ended up caring for him more.

Either way, this is pretty much a minor complaint for a book that’s got a solid debut issue. As I said before it is funny but I’d definitely like to see the characters fleshed out a bit more in subsequent issues. As it is, though, ARCHENEMIES is entertaining enough so that I’ll be checking out the next issue just to see where the writer is able to take this unique concept.


Writer: John Ridley
Penciler: Georges Jeanty
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

We've seen it all time and time again: Alien Invasions of Earth. Evil geniuses with machinations of global domination. Other-dimensional Conquerors.

And as many times as we've seen such events in comics we've also seen their superhero counterparts swoop in to save the day.

Gods and goddesses. Genius inventors. Last sons of dying planets. And the occasional Martian with a heart of gold.

The costumes are lavish. The fighting is tense. The battles are chaotic. Awe-inspiring. Epic...

...and staged?

The year is 1961. John Kennedy is in the White House. The Cold War is in full swing. America is trying to keep up with the Russians in the space race. And automobile designer Wesley Catham has just lost his job and gained the opportunity of a lifetime. At the unveiling of his new car there is a disruption that has apparently become a common sight in this version of 1960's America, and that's of a crash landing of alien invaders in the heart of New York. But never fear! Your typical assortment of costume heroes are on the scene! Known as the Civil Defense Corps they are America's pride and joy. Bright, bold, and patriotic to the core. They even have a member of the team known as Old Glory for cripes sake! But they, as Wes finds out, aren't exactly what they seem to be.

The book's narration is through Wes' eyes. This gives the book a very "man of the street" feel that seemed to me to be very reminiscent of Kurt Busiek's ASTRO CITY. Between this writing approach and some wonderfully rendered art from Georges Jeanty (a man I'm ashamed to say whose work I've never seen before this), THE AMERICAN WAY is built up as a very dynamic, if not atypical, superhero book. The narration gives the superheroes in question the awe and respect that they're due, because, honestly, that's what superheroes should be. Bold. Powerful. Awe-inspiring. As Wes takes us through the super-powered throw down that has a very profound effect on his life (and not just because it was a bit of a near death experience for him) his voice over does a great job of luring us into thinking this is just another superhero book. But it turns out to be anything but...

Due to the battle I mentioned earlier at the unveiling of the Icon, Wes' latest design, the production of the car is stopped before it's even started. With that "invasion" still fresh in the minds of Americans, there's a bit of an unfair correlation between the car and the little concept of Global Extinction. So Wes is out of a job and has a wife with child on the way. Thankfully, fate in the guise of an old friend of Wes' steps in. A man by the name of Robert Kennedy has heard of Wes' plight and has the opportunity of a lifetime for him and the shock of one as well. The Civil Defense Corps are phonies, as are any and all supernatural activity that the country has been exposed to over the past couple decades. Yes, some of the costumed "heroes" have some strange natural abilities, but most of them are just men in power suits or that have gone through extensive genetic manipulation from government funds. All the battles are predetermined. Just shows for the American population in order keep them talking and to raise morale in a country that is in the midst of some very trying times. And now Wes has the job of keeping the shows lively and making sure the show keeps going. From shilling cars to shilling men and women in skin tight costumes. Too bad for him his first day on the job results in the tragic death of the most popular member of the CDC...

I have to say, I was very impressed with how this book developed. John Ridley has already got my full intention with his interesting twist on the atypical superhero team. While the book (much like this review) was very verbose, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was just a method of sleight of hand to lead us to one of the more intriguing plotlines I've encountered in a while. Again, Jeanty's art is a great supplement to the writing as it comes through tremendously in making all the books’ heroes and their actions seem larger than life. It has just the right amount of emotion to make us feel more for Wesley Catham's plight when Ridley uses him and the events in his personal life to snap this book into the proper "everyman" perspective from time to time. It just adds that extra bit of "oomph" to the action going on alongside it. After walking into this book with exactly no expectations thrust upon it, I can delightfully say this was one of the top books I've read this year.


Head Writer: Jeff Christiansen
Writers: Sean McQuaid, Eric J. Moreels, Michael Hoskin, Ronald Byrd, Mark O’English, Anthony Flamini, Barry Reese, Mike Fichera, Stuart Vandal, Bill Lentz, Madison Carter, & Chris Briggs
Artists: Various
Publisher: Marvel
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Marvel has been a continuity-free zone for quite some time now. Anything that’s been published before the last ten years is pretty much long forgotten at the House of Ideas, or so it seems. I believed this wholeheartedly up until recently. You see, I’m one of those long time readers. I’ve bought and devoured those old stories. I’ve read them over and over. I appreciate them and think of them as part of a vast tapestry that makes up a cohesive linear universe. So sue me, I’m a continuity freak. That doesn’t mean that every panel a character has been in needs to be addressed every time the character appears. But it does mean that if you are writing an established character in a Marvel story, it’s the duty of the writer to do some research. That doesn’t mean read STORY front and backwards and watch a lot of Mamet plays. It doesn’t mean you have to ride shotgun in an Avengers Quinjet to “get the feel” of the experience. It means you go back and read the issues that character has been in and understand what that character is all about. You see, I believe a lot of people at Marvel just assume that because the character hasn’t been around in 20 or 30 years, no one would care if all that has happened before is scrapped. And truthfully, if you’re trying to get new readers, they wouldn’t know these characters exist, so what’s the point, right? But what about the long-time reader? The ones who do remember those characters? To cater to the newbie audience is okay, but if you want to have those newbies become long time readers, you might want to rethink your strategy about respecting us old fellers. Cruise through most of Marvel’s most popular books and very little is referenced from the past (Dan Slott books aside). After wading through reinterpretations and reimaginings and reduxes galore, I was just about to wash my hands completely with the whole line of books that essentially says “Fuck you” to the long-time Marvel Zombie. It just wasn’t for me. Or so I thought.

Last week, while browsing the new comics selection at my local comic book store, I caught an image on a cover that brought back pleasant memories. It was THE ALL NEW OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE, issue one, and the image was of a robotic Wolverine with tears in his flesh to reveal circuitry. The image stopped me in my tracks and I was filled with the feeling one often gets when running into a distant friend that you haven’t seen in ages on the street.

“Albert?” I said to myself. “Is that you?”

This was internal monologue, mind you. I don’t go around talking to comic book covers…

…at least not in public.

But it was Albert. The cybernetic creation of the Reavers who plagued Wolverine for quite a few issues about fifteen years ago in the pages of the first WOLVERINE series. It was a character that reminded me of a time when I loved nothing but Marvel comics. A time when the stories mattered and tied together. It was that nod to continuity that I didn’t think was present in the current Marvel Universe.

So I picked up the first issue of the OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE and leafed through it. And I found not only entries that centered upon recent characters of the Marvel U, but ones from the distant past. Immediately, I picked up this issue and issue two. The entries were coherent; they summed up issues of continuity, and tried to address issues of discontinuity to boot. These two issues renewed my faith in Marvel and those who choose to run it. It gives this fanboy hope that maybe someday it will become a cohesive universe once again.

The listings are pretty standard fare. The new versions haven’t strayed far from the original standards of the old MARVEL UNIVERSE HANDBOOKS. All of the entries have detailed histories and origins, nice summations of powers and abilities, and a calculated detailing of ranking among other characters in the Marvel U. Cool details like height, weight, eye and hair color, real name, occupation, and the like are listed in every entry. I was impressed at the attention to detail that has been ignored by Marvel for quite a long time.

Issues one and two cover letters A through C in the Marvel stable of random characters. Major entries have already been summated by HANDBOOKS specifying certain Marvel niches like X-MEN and AVENGERS and now that I’ve had a chance to see the quality of these books, I may pick them up too. These HANDBOOKS focus on the other guys; the obscurios who don’t fit into any of the other categories. And that’s kind of why I like them. These two issues are great guidelines for future Marvel writers. You want to resurrect someone from obscurity? Reference these books for the history to do it right.

I loved leafing through these two issues and reading the histories of these obscure and forgotten characters. The HANDBOOK is extremely comprehensive, covering forty years of history. The guys putting this thing together have done their homework. Hopefully, this series will set a new standard at Marvel. New writers will have a new form of reference to base the characters in their stories upon. Maybe this marks a new age for Marvel comics. An age where miscontinuities such as an Absorbing Man who absorbs souls and not the properties of inanimate objects won’t happen. Maybe we won’t be subject to fifty-two versions of Nick Fury. Maybe the rich and imaginative past at Marvel will be recognized as a vast ocean to branch off from and recognize as a well of imagination and creativity. Maybe this sparks a new age where continuity at Marvel isn’t such a four letter word.

This OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE is a good indication that things are pointing towards a better place for a more cohesive and long-time fan-friendly Marvel Universe.


Writer: Brian Wood
Penciler: Kristian
IDW Publishing
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

SUPERMARKET is some typical Brian Wood goodness. I'll just get right to the point with that. If you're a fan of Wood's work (like I am) then you know what you're getting into with this book, and you know that typical Brian Wood goodness is just that; goodness. If you aren't then I'll let you in on the dealie. The main character of SUPERMARKET is Pella Suzuki and the attitude she exudes is a bit punkish. She finds the way of the world outside very dismal and repetitive, especially the people that populate it. Pella is also a bit of a hypocrite. While she tries to come of as living an alternative lifestyle, hers is really anything but. Her family is set up in a very lavish household. She doesn't need money. She only holds her job at the supermarket because she's intrigued by the habits of the people who shop there, and it gives her a bit of moral superiority to her yuppie parents. Despite being called SUPERMARKET, though, the book doesn't focus on just that aspect of her life. The true story lies in just how exactly did the Suzukis come to live the kind of lifestyle they did and what about it results in Pella finding them murdered one day after coming home from her unnecessary day job.

The writing has, again, the same kind of quirkiness, humor, and a bit of sarcasm that you'd expect from a Brian Wood comic. There's a very proper amount of emotional shift, though, when Pella discovers the bodies of her parents. From a bit of a "holier than thou" attitude to the emotional gamut you'd expect from that kind of situation: horror, panic, confusion, and a feeling of despair towards the end. All in all, the writing is a nice rollercoaster ride of emotion with an intriguing story, some nice funny bits, and some nice biting satire on a couple aspects of society as we know it. And as if that weren't good enough the most pleasant of surprises from this book is the art. I don't really know if this is the first work that Kristian, as he is called, has done, but even if it weren't it would be highly impressive. Everything about the art feels lush. The settings and backgrounds are highly detailed and look absolutely gorgeous. Also, I really like that as the book's settings go from "Upper-class Yuppiesville" all the way down to random run-down Suburb, everyone in the backgrounds is appropriately attired in the kind of clothing you'd expect them to be. It's those kinds of touches that give this book a lot more energy behind it. The art alone is worth the IDW standard $4 for this issue, if not for the fact that the story is interesting enough.

This is a very nice start to this mini-series. I'm very pleased that even with the higher than average price tag I didn't feel like I was getting shafted. In fact, quite the opposite. I'm definitely looking forward to the next issue, and am glad to see that with books like this, DMZ, and LOCAL that Mr. Wood is keeping a very high standard of writing quality. And the sooner I get to see some more of this Kristian's pencils the better. Keep it up.


This was my fist plunge into the vast creative world of 2000AD, but it most definitely isn’t the last. 2000AD has been publishing stories of fantasy and sci fi since 1977, so it looks like I have a lot of catching up to do. This serialized comic took some of the biggest and best artists and writers and has made a consistently stellar name for themselves for years. FAMILY is one of those concepts that can’t miss. It’s basically THE GODFATHER with super-powers. There’s the deception, under-handedness, honor among thieves, and all out crime galore. Your typical mob family crime story that we’re all used to by now, but writer Rob Williams adds the little detail that the members of the top mob family of Odysseus City each have their own super power. From super strength to energy blasts. From turning to stone to the ability to explode. This family isn’t one to be trifled with. Williams proves to be fully capable at writing both genres highlighting the cooler aspects of super hero fare and cleverly mixing them with details you see in most mob films. The artist, Simon Fraser, does a great job of giving each of the characters their own look without giving them costumes. His use of darks is especially impressive. This comic may be in black and white, but Williams and Fraser bring these characters to four color life and highlight the grey areas inside all of them. This impressive oversized hardcover is strongly recommended for those who love mixed genres, great art, and good stories. - Ambush Bug

BOOM! Studios

I gave this book an advance look a while back in this Indie Jones section and this week you guys will be able to see it. Basically, this issue tells the tale of last summer’s Stephen Spielberg/Tom Cruise action vehicle/remake from a different perspective. It sets the groundwork for some especially interesting directions for this series to go. Things don’t end as happily for Miles and Gina and the events that unfold in this issue plant a burning desire in one of them to see these aliens destroyed. The artwork by a man named Chee is especially top notch too, highlighting these massive tripods and all of those creepy tentacles. The blurb on the cover from Mark Waid compares this to THE WALKING DEAD and I see the similar themes of survival in a post-apocalyptic world against unbeatable odds which bring to surface some of our most primal fears. WAR OF THE WORLDS: SECOND WAVE is a great issue of storytelling and begins and ends on some frightening notes. Recommended. - Ambush Bug

Remember, if you have an Indie book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.

Marvel Comics

Meh. I don’t know if it’s because my interest in all things X-MEN aside from Peter David’s X-FACTOR is at an all time low, or if it’s been so long since I last read an issue of ASTONISHING X-MEN,or if the intensity of Whedon’s writing has lessened in the last few issues, but after a laborious few issues with the X-Men facing against a sentient Danger Room, I was hoping for something fresh and different in this new storyline. But I didn’t really get it in this issue. The Hellfire Club is lurking around again with some new and mysterious members. Cassandra Xavier and Emma Frost have some interesting moments at the beginning, as do Colossus and Kitty. I don’t know what it is, though. I’m just not feeling astonished anymore by this series. The big thrills and the episodic storytelling that made me feel as if I were visiting a good television show every time I picked up this book has waned because of the spotty release schedule of this series. That cliffhanger that had everyone gasping in the last issue with the all new Hellfire Club is barely addressed in this issue and I don’t know who half of the characters are even when they are given lines to speak. All in all, this new story arc may have potential if it is released consistently. If not, there are plenty of other comics out there that come out on time that I can have an equal if not more investment in. - Bug

DC Vertigo

In the first two issues of this series, Douglas Rushkoff was simply telling parallel stories set in both Biblical times and the near future. In this issue, though, something happened I expected to be a long time off yet: the ancient gods who have been observing our cast of subcultural insurgents begin to directly interfere in events, to startling affect. We also get a retelling of one of the creepier stories in the Book of Genesis (let’s just say I’ve always wondered how Job and his daughters passed the exit exam from Sodom and Gomorrah) along with jackbooted thugs, an oddly well-informed wino, and some kinda giant robotic cricket. The book continues to move along at a steady clip, throwing out lots of interesting concepts that work on multiple levels but without being too arcane. This is one of the strongest Vertigo launches I’ve seen in a long time, and perhaps the most literate since THE INVISIBLES. Sleazy G

Dark Horse

This is another great issue of one of the best ongoing series out there today. Series creator Eric Powell seems to have hit his stride both artistically and writing-wise. This is one of the first multi-issue storylines in this GOON series. In the past, it was basically issue after issue of one-shots, but with this issue and the few issues before it, Powell has developed a storyline that puts the Goon in a new place of power and throws him into a whole new monstrously funny predicament. The usual humor of the blackest kind appears throughout. And one of the coolest characters to appear in comics in years, the Goon’s sidekick, Frankie, still steals the show in every panel he occupies. This issue also features a short GOON story by Michael Avon Oeming and Thomas Sniegoski. While I found this short entertaining, I was a bit put off by the harshness of the ending. The Goon and Frankie can be mean and cruel summ-bitches at times, but in the past, they’ve always seemed to be on the side of the good guys. The ending of this one, while shocking and slightly humorous, really left me feeling kind of bad. Powell’s Goon walks that fine line between offbeat slapstick and wickedly clever humor. Oeming’s Goon story was just kind of cruel and one-note. I guess it just goes to show you that only one man can write the Goon and that man is Eric Powell. - Bug

Ultimate Marvel

LET'S GET READ TO RUMBLEEEE!!!!!........ oh... wait...not yet, it seems. Okay, while I was hoping at the end at the last issue that that was the end of the talky-talk, it seems that Mr. Damon Lindelof (co-writer of the TV show LOST) has other plans in mind. Last issue gave us the setup of how and why Wolverine was brought into to take down an AWOL and still somewhat rampaging Hulk, and now this issue is here to setup just exactly where and what the Hulk has been up to since we last saw him in THE ULTIMATES. And as much as I wanted to see some brutal smashing here, I was actually very pleased with Lindelof's exhibition in dissecting the character of Bruce Banner. I was amazed in the last issue how well he was able to depict the highlights of Wolverine's character (and yes, Wolverine has character) and remind me so much of the character that I used to think was very cool back in the late 80's and early 90's when I first started comics. And just as I feel that Lindelof "gets" Wolvie, I feel he has the same understanding of the Hulk. Feeling hurt and betrayed, and on the lam, Bruce Banner is a plethora of emotions. And yes, angry is definitely a part of that scheme. And despite all his attempts to, he can't get over the one thing that brings about those emotions, his beloved Betty. Any time he thinks of Betty he's calmed by the good times they had, but then the bad times resurface. And I think you can figure out where that leads. Something to do with "HULK ____" and so on. Eventually Banner makes his way his way to the Tibetan Mountains, and to the monastery we saw him in at the end of last issue. There's some humor, there's some smashing, and you can't help but feel a little sorry for Banner as he struggles to come to grips with his other personality and his relationship issues. This was another fun issue and now the stage is completely set. Now, as the end of this issue properly puts it, "Let's Get to the Damn Fight!!!" - Humphrey

DC Comics

When I heard that this issue marked the return of the Tattooed Man, I nearly filled my Fruit of the Looms. But now that I’ve read the issue, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed. Gone is the sailor capped swabby that terrorized Hal all those years ago. He’s mentioned in this issue, which was nice, but this is an all-new, all-different Tattooed Man, a serial killing Marine who murdered his squad in combat and now kills and tattoos their sins across their chests. Johns did a great job of reviving the Flash’s Rogues Gallery during his run on that title, but every now and then he misses the boat. I’m reminded of how Johns lost the cowboy hat and regalia when he re-“booted” Terra-Man over in SUPERMAN a few years ago. There’s something about the fun and goofiness of these iconic heroes fighting villains dressed as a sailor or a cowboy that DC is missing these days. - Bug


Not everyone will be pleased with the direction Richard K. Morgan has taken Natasha Romanoff over the course of a few miniseries. They may have a point—I liked her venom blast bracelets too, and dumping them in favor of guns seemed like an attempt to ditch comic booky fun. Morgan’s written the hell out of his stories, though, and in the end, if we’re supposed to buy that Natasha’s a bad-assed KGB-trained killer, we might as well see her acting like it. Besides, we’ve got the Wasp to run around zapping people with her hands, right? I figure the Marvel Universe could always stand to grow a little, and this is a perfectly good way to add an espionage thriller to their lineup. Morgan always keeps the tension up, introducing us to characters we come to like—but can’t count on the survival of. Sean Phillips’ layouts work rather well with Bill Sienkiewicz’ finishes: Phillips’ work reigns in Sienkiewicz’ just enough to make it easier to follow and give us some cleaner backgrounds and facial expressions, while Sienkiewicz manages to give Phillips a little more grit and his hallmark sounds lettered right into the art. Worth a look from the ALIAS and BOURNE crowd. Sleazy G


I hate to admit this, but this wasn’t a bad issue of SPIDER-MAN. As long as JMS stays away from the heady Spider-Totem shit, he does a decent job of writing stories that center on the everyday life of Peter Parker. He even nestles in some nice character moments as Spidey gets used to his new costume. That’s right. This is the issue of the grand unveiling of the new Tony Stark version of the Spider-Costume. Artist Ron Garney does a good job of making the character look cool despite the awful colors of Spidey’s new attire. This issue even marks the return of the armpit-webs that used to be a staple of the old costume. This time the pit-webs have a function; they allow Spidey to glide along wind currents which give off the illusion that he is flying. The stand-out scene in this book happens early as Tony and Pete attain their own no-prize for coming up with a feasible explanation for MJ’s miraculous recovery from an arm fracture between issues of the awful THE OTHER: EVOLVE OR DIE crossover. This knowing nod to the reader had me laughing out loud. Low point of the book was the callous misrepresentation of Stark as a grand manipulator just to tie it all in with this ILLUMINATI/CIVIL WAR pap that’s coming up as the next big event at Marvel. Casting Tony Stark in the role of the morally ambiguous flawed hero who would throw money at his problems is one thing, but casting him as a scheming, untrustworthy bad guy is something else. Basically, Pete signs a contract with the devil in this issue, which would be intriguing if it weren’t one of the greatest heroes Marvel has to offer cast as the devil. This and the tidbit in last week’s FANTASTIC FOUR that it was Reed’s idea to shoot the Hulk off into space are clear indications that the heroes of the Marvel Universe aren’t the good guys we think they are and if that’s the case, they’re not the heroes I really care to read about. - Bug

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