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#8 6/13/07 #6
Logo by Ambush Bug

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) POTTER’S FIELD #1 with 5-page Preview NEW AVENGERS #31 FIRST BORN: FIRST LOOK SUB-MARINER #1 FABLES #62 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #541 BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #6 STORMWATCH: POST HUMAN DIVISION #8 NOVA #3 Indie Jones presents STRANGERS IN PARADISE #90 Indie Jones presents…

POTTER’S FIELD #1 Plus 5-page preview

Writer: Mark Waid Artist: Paul Azaceta Publisher: BOOM! Studios Reviewer: Ambush Bug

A mysterious detective solving unsolvable cases with identity-less victims. That’s the premise for POTTER’S FIELD, formerly solicited as JOHN DOE from BOOM! Studios. BOOM! has put out quite a few books in their short life as a comic book publication company, but few of their books are as good as this one is. From the first five pages (previewed throughout this review), I was hooked.
I guess what got me was the fact that this is a book filled with mystery from cover to cover. The motivation of enigmatic detective John Doe is as much of a mystery as the cases he solves. He doesn’t leave fingerprints. His stone cold exterior never cracks. And even the associates he utilizes to solve these cases know next to nothing about him. Writer Mark Waid has created a complete cipher--a character that at times can be a bore in normal stories, but in this one heaped with mysteries, it only adds to the fun. Waid shows his mastery of pacing a good suspense story by following John Doe every step of the way in uncovering a case of an unidentified victim. Even though the crime itself turns out to be pretty damn gruesome, it was fun to follow Doe as he pieces together the puzzle of how a young unidentified girl died.
And the coolest thing of all is that it’s all there in one single issue. This is one nicely-paced, perfectly-packaged, one and done mystery in one single issue. In a day and age when crossovers and interconnectedness are the norm, this was a refreshing thing to see. Waid even adds a nice little cliff-hangy hook in the very last panel to tease us until issue 2.
Paul Azaceta handles the art chores and he does a great job of heaping on the mood. His shadowy panels never fail to keep the action rolling and convey a dark and mysterious tone. His work reminds me a lot of Charlie Adlard’s atmospheric drawings, which is a compliment indeed. Azaceta does a great job of bringing John Doe to enigmatic life.
With POTTER’S FIELD, BOOM! has another hit. Waid has created a memorable (albeit mysterious) detective with an equally memorable motivation. The cliffhanger ending has John Doe heading into another unsolved case. Since the intro of this issue states that Potter’s Field is full of unsolved crimes, I can only hope that there are many more issues of this series to solve them.
If there are, I’ll be sure to read them.
Highly recommended.

NEW AVENGERS #31 and various Skrullated issues

Writer: some Bendis guy Artist: Leinil Yu Publisher: Marcel Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

I have to say that, up until now, I have been very underwhelmed by the current storyline. I’m used to the classic Avengers, where they take on threats like Kang, Ultron, the Squadron Supreme…not ninjas. Last issue, I couldn’t believe the mundanity of the cliffhanger: “Dr. Strange has been stabbed!” Holy crap, it’s fricking ARMAGEDDON! Not.
But with this issue, we are seeing the tip of an iceberg that goes all the way back to issue #1. More on that in a minute. For now, I liked that banter-war between Spidey and “Ronin”; I liked the action; I liked this issue’s cliffhanger. I don’t like the fact that there seems to be no clear field leader – de facto, it’s Wolverine’s position, but that’s really not something you want to leave up to a mid-battle referendum.
It also seems that Yu’s artwork has become increasingly sketchy and confusing. I would blame the inker, but that’s Yu, too. And it’s not just the hashmarks on everyone and everything. Some of these characters have feet so big, Yu seems like the second coming of Gene Colan (who always drew some monster feet). Check out Spiderwoman’s gunboats on page 14 – makes me think she’s a Skrull, too. When Yu first began on this series, his art was crisp and stylish. Now, it seems rushed. It’s still nice, but harder to follow. Just my opinion – “but am it art?” is a question I can’t answer for anyone but me.
As for the ending: so how long was Electra actually Skrullectra? And what is the deal with Jessica and the baby? I don’t think I’ve ever seen the word “breastfeeding” even as a throwaway line in Avengers, so clearly there is some issue about Skrulls and lactating. We know they can, but I won’t even hazard a guess as to which one of them is a Skrull.
But I will offer a full spectral analysis for frequent (and casual) readers on the significance of this reveal, and why I’m excited about it. For me, this answers a lot of questions.
Possible SPOILERS Ahead!
1) We never did find out who was the mysterious party that hired Electro to bust Lykos out of prison in the very first issue. Oh sure, it was the Savage Land Mutates, who somehow gained the expertise to come over to the US and negotiate backroom deals. And SHIELD put them up to it? Or they put SHIELD up to it? I don’t believe either. There is a mysterious party pulling the strings. I’m guessing it’s the Skrulls (but this DOES beget the question of why Lykos was SO important that his return to the Savage Land was necessary. I mean, that one action drives the first six issues).
2.) In issue #6, more evidence of this with the screwy “splinter cell” business, where Yelena Belova issues the odd line throwaway line “this is not a world of men.” In the same issue, “Saaron” survives a headshot due to picking up Wolverine’s powers (which is not how Lykos’ powers work), even though Wolverine stays conscious after his power feeds Sauron (which IS how Lykos’ powers are supposed to work, but do not) and then fries Belova (before she can talk) with a flame blast from his mouth (which he has never done before, to my knowledge.). Both Skrulls? I dunno.
3.) In issue 12, we learn that whatever has corrupted SHIELD has also taken over Hydra. Guess who?
4.) Now we see that there is a good possibility that the Hand has also been taken over, or infiltrated at the very least. Since Ms. Marvel has Kree origins and a presence in the Avengers, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that her recent troubles with AIM are Skrull related, or “skrullated” to coin a word.
It all seems to point to a massive Skrull takeover, and somehow they are no longer susceptible to detection by smell, psionics, or even magic (perhaps due to Prof. X’s and Dr. Strange’s brief capture by the Skrulls?). This would explain why Nick Fury is so far underground – he may have suspected this as far back as his Secret War. It explains why Maria Hill was appointed director of SHIELD, even though there were 75 other more qualified candidates – someone hoped she would be too inept to see what was going on. It explains why Tony Stark signed on so quickly to the Registration Act – as we saw in the Illuminati series, he saw a need to create a way to quickly mobilize a huge fighting force. Not only has the Act done that, and provided training as well, but it also gave him a way to keep tabs on all the capes. So maybe he isn’t the world’s biggest jerk – or he’s a jerk trying to save the planet, and guided events (that were already in motion) to help move the need for a global meta-militia forward.
It also explains why we keep seeing references to Skrull activity in other places. Hulkling of the Young Avengers was recently dealing with Skrull throne issues. Heroes for Hire recently busted a Skrull organ harvesting ring. Where were all those Skrull organs coming from? It also explains why Bendis has had so many “Kree/Skrull war” references and odd lines in this book, i.e., Dr. Doom hasn’t washed his cape since the Kree/Skrull war, etc. He’s got Skrulls on the brain.
So, who is a Skrull and when were they replaced? Well, Skrullectra obviously. Since the Hand was infiltrated, she was probably replaced just before or just after that nasty “Enemy of the State” business when the Hand resurrected her. Bendis has said to look for people who are out of character or have shaky resurrections. Mar-Vell immediately comes to mind (shaky). Hawkeye, too, but he seems like the real deal to me. But (out of character) Tigra? Skrull. And Orka, who seemed to die too ignominious a death for a 40 year old property, if the Skrulls have learned of some special way to occasionally avoid changing back into Skrulls upon death. If that is true, then maybe Bill Foster isn’t dead either (though that would raise the ugly, but not insurmountable, specter of why Skrullectra DID revert back upon her death).
I haven’t reread the whole CIVIL WAR, but I would look for anyone who seemed uninterested in the fact that lots of heroes could die by their actions, or perhaps manipulated loved ones into combat (cough*Shroud*cough).
And one more person that I can think of – Professor X. In the ILLUMINATI issue where they were captured by the Skrulls, they said that the Prof’s DNA would be the easiest to analyze. Then an ailing Tony Stark takes on half-a-dozen warrior shapeshifters and beats them up? Really? No – they were deliberately allowed to escape. And if you look carefully when the Prof is rescued, there is another Skrull on his knees saying “stop…no…”. My guess is that this was the Professor, on his knees, left behind.
So it will be interesting to see where this goes. In my opinion, this is not a retcon of the past two years of plots. Not at all. It’s an overreaching arc, and one that I can appreciate. In my own fiction, I want people to pick up stuff on the second and third reading and see the clues that were dropped along the way. Bendis has said that this is exactly what he is doing, and so I totally dig it. Some stuff was planned from the beginning. Other events, he has woven into the overall scheme of things. I know some people can’t stand Bendis, but I really appreciate what he is trying to do, and the fact that he has been working toward this for so long from so many angles is nothing short of impressive.
So let’s see how this all plays out. I, for one, am hooked.


Writer: Ron Marz Artists: Stjepan Sejic Publisher: Top Cow Comics Reviewer: Prof. Challenger

The Witchblade was, in fact, the male offspring of the universe's primal forces . . . the Angelus and the Darkness. The Witchblade was conceived as a balance, meant to keep the fragile peace between the eternally struggling light and dark.
I have a confession to make. How do I put this? Think, think, think: Oh yeh. Until this weekend, I had only read one issue of WITCHBLADE in my life.
Until this weekend, that wouldn't have been a "confession" but more of a "badge of honor." See, I was under the impression that WITCHBLADE was a trashy little T&A low-rent Buffy rip-off comic whose deepest considerations revolved around how quickly the gravity-defying boob-ridden heroine could get all her clothes ripped off while strategically hiding nipples and other *ahem* dirty parts. Call me a snob, but while I have the utmost appreciation for the idealized female form, I don't need or desire to get off on a crappy little comic book filled with pictures of almost-nekkid girls.
But I confess that I was wrong about WITCHBLADE (at least since it fell under the guiding hand of writer, Ron Marz). TOP COW hit me up with a chance to check out the "First Look" at this WITCHBLADE summer mini-series they're calling FIRST BORN. Yes, the same "First Look" available at your local comic store this week for only 99¢. So, for me to provide you, the reading and buying public, an honest and informed write-up about that "First Look," I have spent the last three days reading Ron Marz’ entire run on WITCHBLADE. Why? Because it all leads right up to the FIRST BORN mini-series.
Now, not only was I just completely wrong in my preconception about WITCHBLADE, but--oh, this hurts my self-righteous pomposity to admit, but I am actually a fan now. Owch! That hurt!!! WITCHBLADE goes on my list of must-buys for the foreseeable future. Kicking the ass of most DC and Marvel corporate/licensing nonsense, WITCHBLADE is smart, clever, mature and completely engrossing. Yes, there's some skin and sex, but the story and the characters are the appeal. The hot pin-ups are just added bonus from my perspective.
Over the course of, oh, I guess 2-3 years now, Marz has developed the character of Sara Pezzini, the wielder of the Witchblade, into a character with classical heroine written all over her. She's tough and smart, yet also vulnerable and sexual. Marz also has taken to moving her story forward rather than just spinning wheels in the mud. Her life experiences real change. Characters die and stay dead. New characters come in and spark a whole new round of story and development. At Marvel and DC, because of the corporate/licensing mindset, everything is grounded in the "illusion" of change. Which is why it is so rare that jaded comic fans are ever really surprised by anything that comes out of the former House of Ideas or the Disturbed Competition. Marz seems to have been given a free hand to take this character and change and evolve her as necessary to tell her story.
Marz has hinted at a millennia's worth of backstory and history for the Witchblade that basically sets this title up as one that can logically go on forever and even franchise out. He incorporates other Top Cow continuity, such as The Darkness (basically the mirror-image of the Witchblade) in such a way that it enhances the scope of the WITCHBLADE comic book while not getting mired into continuity quicksand. In Marz's most recent story arc, Sara finally passed the Witchblade on to its newest bearer, college girl Danielle Baptiste. The motivation for Sara giving up the Witchblade is her inexplicable pregnancy - the driving force behind the FIRST BORN mini-series. But more than just Marz improving his writing from issue to issue, the new era of Danielle as Witchblade is artistically marked by a pointed transition from traditional comic book line art, as used with Sara, to fully painted art now.
In the "First Look," you will get just the smallest of glimpses of the artistic power of Croatian artist Stjepan Sejic. When I study his art, I see glimmers of Alex Ross inspiration in some of his technique. However, he exceeds Ross in certain areas of fine detail and sheer luminosity of color. With Ross, who excels at texturing and lighting, he often just hints at the finer details in his panel work whereby the reader subconsciously fills in those details - a traditional trained illustration painter's technique. Sejic brings the detail and he seamlessly transitions back and forth between the mundane, the sexual, and the horror. How he can put that much effort into each page and get these books out fairly quickly is incomprehensible to me. I can't wait to see the full FIRST BORN book just to see Sejic's art.
The only criticism I have of this "First Look" is that, while the sketchbook stuff is great, the preview pages focus entirely on a character other than Sara or Danielle. To me, they are the draw of the WITCHBLADE comic and I would have expected them to be spotlighted in the "First Look" more than a pin-up or two. And can I just ask something that's been bugging me for years (triggered by his pin-up in the "First Look")? Does the very talented Marc Silvestri, creator of Witchblade, know how to draw feet? Just wondering because I don't think I've ever seen a pin-up by Silvestri that includes the character's feet. The legs either fade down off the page or the shins disappear into rubble or smoke or something. But I digress.
It would be so easy for Marz to slip into a post-modern self-referential Buffy-style for WITCHBLADE with the characters quipping back and forth with obscure and esoteric pop-culture references (which works fine for Buffy). Instead, Marz takes a more mature route in his story-telling and hits a bullseye each issue. Maybe Marz should be our new go to guy for strong female leads. How about WONDER WOMAN? As popular as Gail Simone (upcoming WW writer) is, compared to her BIRDS OF PREY stuff Marz is writing rings around her on this title. I respect Marz for what he's accomplishing here and if any longtime super-hero comic fans want to be reminded of why they fell in love with comics in the first place, WITCHBLADE is a must-read series. And FIRST BORN is required summer reading. It's now on my own list. Thanks, Top Cow, for a great summer surprise.


Writers: Matt Cherniss & Peter Johnson Art: Phil Briones Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

Is it a part of the MMC (Massive Marvel Continuity)?
Does it have one of those front page recaps that some love, some hate, and either way, still won’t do much for a new reader?
Is this a beautifully drawn and well-told story with a few genuine “Golly, that was cool” moments?
The style of art is a little Byrne, a little Willingham, consistent and detailed. Maybe one too many splash pages, but hey, it’s a comic book – some people actually LIKE pictures more than plot. Fortunately, there’s plenty of both. And I like the fact that Namor is not all bluster and indignation, traits that I find endearing in no one. For instance, Tony Stark catches him off guard, and the strained relationship of their Illuminati years shows it was an actual relationship. I liked that.
So who is the shadowy figure with whom Namor confers? My guess is another monarch, and since Black Bolt isn’t the greatest conversationalist outside a game of Charades (“Okay. Three words. Rhymes with ‘Beth to America…’”) then that leaves one other monarchy guy, but who knows?
Bottom line: this is a good read.


Writer: Bill Willingham Penciller: Mark Buckingham Inker: Andrew Pepoy Publisher: DC Vertigo Reviewer: Jinxo

How is this book not getting more attention here? Seriously, doing a search on AICN, this book has only been mentioned a couple of times and it’s a damn shame because it’s a hell of a book. Coming in late I’ve been buying the trade paperbacks and time and time again those trades would be the best part of my pull. I’d save my latest trade to read last; often, as I’d be reading through some “meh” title, I’d be chomping at the bit to get to those FABLES. Now that I’m caught up it’s a two edged sword. On the one hand, I’m up to date; I can read the newest stuff. On the other hand I’ve been spoiled. I’ve been getting to read 6 or 7 issues at a pop, only limited by how fast I wanted to buy the trades. Now? One frickin’ issue a month! Come on!!!
So what’s so good about FABLES? It’s an adult spin on classic fairy tale characters. And by “adult spin” I don’t mean smutted up and whored out. I mean smart and cleverly plotted for ADULTS. For anyone who hasn’t ever checked out the book, the premise is that all the lands from every fairy tale, fable or fantasy book exist. All the fairy tales happened. Then, long ago, a mysterious evil force began to invade and overrun all those lands. All the fable characters that could escaped and many of them are now living secretly in New York among us mundanes (mundys), either in a complex in New York City or, in the case of the animal characters, on a farm upstate. Amnesty for past misdeeds has been granted to all Fables willing to live by the rules. While living in exile the Fables continue to try and figure out how they can retake their homelands.
And as goofy as the idea of “Snow White and friends” living in New York might sound, it totally works. The idea is that quite a lot of time has passed since the old stories were told. Those characters have changed and evolved. The Big Bad Wolf is still big and bad but reformed. Hansel of witch killing fame? Turns out that early adventure became a calling for him.
Even in the book itself the will to keep things evolving is key. At the start of the series things were set up in a way that it could have stayed very static and worked. Bigby Wolf (Aka The Big Bad Wolf in human form) is the Fables “cop”, Snow White helps run Fabletown, Jack (of Jack and The Beanstalk, Jack and Jill, etc) was the troublemaker...all the characters had set roles they could have been left in that the comic could have kept running with. But instead the characters’ roles constantly change. Bigby, the apparent “star” at the start, leaves the book entirely for a time. Snow changes jobs, others step in to fill their void for better or worse. Things change. The fact that I would ever in my life say something as crazy as, “Man, Little Boy Blue is a badass,” and mean it ought to tell you something.
The current arc centers on Flycatcher. Fly was the Frog Prince but since reaching Fabletown has acted as janitor. Up until now he’s been sort of a nice, dopey nerd. Nice enough guy but with looks that say, hey, this guy used to be a frog. But, again, this book evolves. After 60 issues as a cute background character, Fly suddenly is stepping to the fore. It seems he has been blocking the memories of what happened to his loved ones back in the homelands. We still don’t know what happened to them but it clearly ain’t good. Likewise, in the Fabletown city offices there has been forever hanging (and I do mean hanging) the armor of the “Foresworn Knight”. Up until now the knight has just been a plot element, occasionally groaning out mystic warnings of bad things coming in the future. As with Fly, The Foresworn Knight becomes more than expected. We get to discover who he was. And it all kicks ass. I am really enjoying the transformation of these characters.
I would say though to newcomers, start with the back issues in trade paperback. Not that you have to know the past issues to jump on board but, more than with any other comic I can think of, to miss the start of the story? What a waste. I mean even though the identity of The Adversary who took over the fable lands has long been revealed, I can’t bring myself to mention his identity so as not to spoil it for new readers. But he is a sick twisted bastard though who, up until FABLES, you knew and loved.
Seriously, check out this book. It’s one of the most enjoyable comic book universes out there right now.


Writer: Joe Michael Straczynski Artist: Ron Garney Publisher: Marvel Comics Guest Cog Reviewer: Loodabagel

To my surprise, I did not hate this comic. Spidey’s still a d-bag, but he never attempts eye gouging or ball kicking. He’s still not a passable tough guy, but now he’s got a lot of stubble, so he’s getting there. Maybe he’ll buy a leather jacket next issue. Garney’s art seems to have gotten better too. There’re a few moments where it looks a bit like Michael Lark. Mary Jane’s not in it enough to appear annoying and bitchy, Aunt May’s unconscious, so she can’t dispense nuggets of advice we’ve already heard, and Spidey almost looks tougher than Mr. Fantastic. Was this my expectations dropping? Or was I just trying to be optimistic? Goddamnit, I believe this issue was an actual improvement on the last two. A big improvement for sure. I can’t recommend it, since if you took my advice, you wouldn’t have read the last two. Plus, you could always be spending money on SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE, or maybe GI JOE, like that one guy’s always saying. I don’t know why Kingpin would want to leave prison. This guy’s got it made. He gets a fern, a portrait of himself, furniture stuffed with money, and a Lobot phone. Shit man, I don’t have a Lobot phone or money furniture. What a bitch. He even got to pack his goofy diamond tipped cane into prison. Don’t they know that thing shoots lasers and poisonous gas?
Spidey has one more hella lame speech to make this issue, but it’s not as awful as they’ve been the last two times. It even makes sense. Spida-Man takes a thug down into the sewers and has some rats crawl on him. In my professional opinion though, I bet those rats would have ran at the site of Spidey. Rats are a lot more timid than they’re made out to be. Clearly, JMS has never been to a real sewer. What a flake. He should try to learn his goddamn sewer animal science. Very unprofessional. But in his defense, he shouldn’t have to deal with that bullshit. Rats suck.
The best part of this comic? Aunt May’s a Skrull. The real one died in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 400. But then she came back to life because Thanos had to resurrect her so he could get her piece of the Omega Stone. Then she became the intergalactic warrior Silver Surfer. But a Skrull killed her and took her place since she was so jealous of Aunt May’s good looks. Don’t worry about the details. This will all be cleared up later this year in Marvel comic’s mega-event “Aunt May: Intergalactic Warrior.” This crossover will hopefully span more titles than ever before, including DAREDEVIL, RUNAWAYS, and PUNISHER MAX.
Next issue of Spider-Man look like it’ll be a big fight between Spider-Man and Kingpin. So if you like to see fat guys get beat up (Yes, he really is fat. It’s not 90% muscle like he said in the cartoon.) I’d advise you to flip though it. And if your shop is likely to sell out quickly, hide it behind an issue of NEW EXCALIBUR or AQUAMAN. They aren’t going anywhere.


Writer: Andy Diggle Artist: Whilce Portacio Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

I wanted to like it. Really. I loved Portacio’s pencils the first time I saw them, waaaay back in STRIKEFORCE: MORITURI (a series I adored up through the third generation of Morituri.) And Portacio is coming back. But it’s not happening quite yet.
Back when Portacio helped form Image, he was the bomb. But after a diabetic coma in 2000, he is still struggling to return to form. So I can appreciate WHY there are no backgrounds to almost any of the characters, why there are so many large head shots. This is still hard work, and done during a year where he has personally struggled with diabetic-related health issues. I’ve seen some of his advance pencils on upcoming WETWORKS projects, and they’re great! So don’t let this issue fool you. Portacio is a talented artist and a hard worker.
As far as the story goes, Andy Diggle certainly has the chops to tell a good story. But I’m not sure I buy the ability of Batman to sneak into the main facility using a robot as a Trojan horse – I mean, really, would YOU leave a man-sized hole inside every robot of YOUR evil lair? Of course you wouldn’t.
I get what they are trying to do, and it’s what many fans have asked for: stories that are not steeped in several decades of multi-versed continuity. But just because they are made for new readers doesn’t mean they should be set to the level of non-readers. There should be a happy medium, right? Somewhere between massive continuity and sophomoric, there could be…I dunno. Sophistication?
Let’s see what the next arc brings.


Writer: Christos Gage Penciler: Andy Smith Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

Every time an issue of this series comes out, it feels a bit more like coming home.
As recent events have played out (see CAPTAIN ATOM: ARMAGEDDON) and as you can tell by the cover, some of the more beloved and, uh, "deaded" characters from STORMWATCH past are back and kicking again. And that's what this particular issue is about; a little revisiting of the past, an idea of where the team is heading in the future, and, oh yeah, one hell of an unexpected cliffhanger.
I'll have to admit, I'm actually really excited to see most of the old crew alive and kicking again, though a large part of me wants to see them remain as tertiary characters. Christos Gage has put a good lot of effort into this new batch of misfits he's created, and this issue along with the past couple have also done a lot towards getting much more warmed up to them. Now that we're getting more insights into their personalities and watching them mesh a bit (though still keeping their petty grievances or instances of grandstanding) they've become a lot more entertaining to watch in action.
I also like how Gage is keeping the StormWatch organization grounded as well. It doesn't really make sense to have a team on the street if you have an orbital station monitoring the planet. Keeping the team more Earthbound is a good call overall methinks. I'm not terribly sure how I feel about the new Weatherman though. One part of me can't help but think it's way too obvious and coincidental and just a cheap trick, but a part of me thinks this will make a great "train wreck in waiting" as we all wait and wait (and hopefully wait) for him to flip out just like his predecessor did, if he ever does (wherein lies the rub of it all). I'm enjoying watching John integrate himself into the roll of leader with each passing issue too, setting himself up almost as a Golden Boy with how unbelievably well he's adapting to his situation and how well things have fallen for him and his team despite the odds. I can't help but feel/assume there's going to be a big fall in his future though, and it'll be interesting to see how things play out for him, especially in the wake of those last couple pages (though I have to wonder, uh, why is the one medic apparently administering CPR on a head shot victim? Is that really going to do anything? Ah well).
Joining the creative crew this issue (and for how long, I don't know) is artist Andy Smith, and considering the more "retro" look this book is taking he fits in very well. What I'm saying is that since this book is kind of taking on the same feel and even cast it had back in its glory days with Warren Ellis on writing task, this art style fits in very well with guys like Tom Raney and even Bryan Hitch. It's a much softer look, one definitely suited to a high action, tights and spandex book. Oh, don't get me wrong, I love Doug Mahnke and will welcome him with open arms if/when he returns to this book, but this art job of Smith's definitely captures what they're going for. It might not be perfect--sometimes the facial expressions of his characters are a little too exaggerated at times or too minimalized at others--but I'm sure that's just growing pains while getting acclimated to this book and characters. I'm excited for when the time comes where he'll get to cut loose on some full blown action sequences on this book and how those turn out.
This book is coming along much better than I could have expected. It's not the best book I read each month, but it consistently provides a high level of entertainment and helps fill my "colorful characters" quotient when it does arrive. Like I said earlier, I like how this book is establishing itself more like the taskforce of old it was, just as long as it doesn't come at the expense of this new batch of characters. I want to see Fuji and Winter kick ass as much as the next STORMWATCH fan, but they had their day in the sun (sadly that can be taken literally too). I honestly don't know what to expect with this next issue after how this one ended, hopefully Gage is just taking us for a ride since I assume the new Weatherman is going to be the prime suspect, but I expect more from him. I'm in a genuine state of anticipation mixed with uncertainty for this next issue, and that's a welcome combination of feelings right now at a time where I typically feel nothing but apathy towards the majority of books I look over at on the shelves.


Writers: Abnett and Lanning Artist: Sean Chen Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

This book is just a solid hit. Rich runs into the New T-bolts and pretty much hands them their heads. The way he and Worldmind worked together, the give and take…loved it. I’m sure there is a faster way to communicate in battle, and this does beg the question of how Nova accesses his powers if Worldmind is offline (or is it ever?) but for now, I liked the effect.
Did I mention that the art is still top notch? It is. Sean Chen doesn’t do “sultry” females like some of the more well-known artists, nor is he big on manly iconic poses. To me, that’s great. I think his style works very well for this book, simply BECAUSE it’s really not an eye-candy book. Don’t get me wrong, the art is beautiful, and Chen has a great range of facial emotions. The artwork is so well done that it’s not always reminding you that it’s a comic book. And that is hard to do.
Back to the story: after the T-bolts deal, Nova almost gets into a pissing match with Tony Stark (again) and is able to take and stay on the higher ground (again.) Loved it. I really would have liked to see Nova wipe the floor with Iron Man, at least for a few panels, but I suppose Tony’s surprise at seeing how powerful he is in combat is good enough.
I also wish the alone time with the former Speedball were a bit longer, but I think Nova’s response is appropriate. Bottom line is, Nova has gone from a self-absorbed kid with the power of…uhn, a human rocket…to a full-on combat veteran of immense capabilities, and it shows. (Isn’t it a nice feeling to be PROUD of our heroes for a change? Gosh, I’ve missed that.) He’s a man (not that he can’t be occasionally petulant, but not too much, I hope) and a pretty confident one, at that. He wants to make a difference, and there’s just no way he’ll make much of a difference in the mire of the current socio/political climate of Earth.
So he leaves. And the first thing he does? Looks for something important to do, a place where he can make a difference.
The MAN called Nova. I freakin’ love it.


Writer: Terry Moore Artist: Terry Moore Publisher: Abstract Studio Reviewer: Jinxo

Really? It’s over? Well… okay I guess it is time. Only so many times around the love triangle you can go I guess. But I will surely miss STRANGERS IN PARADISE.
Just after the comic book crash, this was one of the titles that helped keep me actually reading comics. Just after Marvel launched its umpteenth X-Men book with the first issue having 75 different collectible covers, I just gave up on the heroes books. To read all the X-Men books alone each month was getting too costly. I was so annoyed I stopped buying all my standard “hero” books. I ended up with just a couple books left to buy. It came down to just THE MAXX and some comic books titles that were tie-ins to TV shows. The thing is, I wanted to buy comics ,but nixing the hero books I had to find something new to read.
Every time I would go into the comic shops I would see STRANGERS IN PARADISE with these girls on the cover drawn…differently. They weren’t comic super-vixens. They were cute but flawed. The one was kinda chubby, the other was short (nobody in comics is short!) and with a glint of trouble in her eyes. And it sure looked like they were more than friends, but not in some out and out porno way. Next thing I know the SIP trade paperbacks were part of my regular buys. That was it. I was hooked. Relationship stuff bouncing off of mafia madness, comedy crosscut with almost girl on girl…relationship stuff. And all of it done in Terry Moore’s unique art style. It helped keep me reading.
But now it’s the end of the road. After years of Katchoo trying to get out of the tangle of the mafia, of trying to sort out her romantic relationships with her would-be girlfriend Francine and her would-be boyfriend David, for better or worse, all the pieces finally fall into place. Given the book’s balancing act between crime drama and personal drama, it is kind of odd that the book should end the same month as “The Sopranos”. Not that they are the same by any means. Unlike Tony Soprano, Katchoo never wanted that sort of life, had no illusions it was an okay way of life. Still, odd. The final issue is also similar but utterly different. The Sopranos resolved some plot points, left others dangling and then left many viewers feeling emotionally/dramatically ripped off at the end by shockingly slamming the door shut. No more. Get out. F*** off!!! STRANGERS IN PARADISE ends by resolving most everything you would want resolved. Katchoo, Francine and, in a way, David, find a way to come together. Like “The Sopranos” it isn’t an ultimate, final ending. These characters will go on. The potential is there we could follow them further. But, again, like “The Sopranos” that door to their future is closed to us. But not slammed closed rudely. Closed in a way that says, “Thanks for visiting but it’s time for you to go.”
Dammit! Probably just when all the hot sexiness was gonna happen too. DAMMIT!!!
Seriously, I will miss this book and look forward to Terry Moore’s coming work on SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE.

THE ZOMBIE PROJECT #1 Jam Packed Productions

Man, we’ve got a crypt-full of zombie books this week. This little ditty centering on the zombie apocalypse takes place in a school filled with ne’er-do-wells and little punks. Some zombie books are fun for the clever writing. Some have a different hook that separates them from the herd. Although this book follows some well tread territory, it’s the way the zombies are drawn that makes this book stand out to me. Artist Matthew Petz turns in some amazingly fun and gruesomely detailed zombies for this serving of horror. There is much flesh-chewing and zombie grue to be had in this gorefest of a comic. It’s enough to satiate the appetite of any zombie gorehound. The danger the children of the school are in is all the more palpable with the frightening faces of Petz’s zombies after them. This was a blast to read as authority figures galore are chomped on and converted into the zombie masses. Within this book lies zombie nuns, school principals, and a whole lotta fun. – Ambush Bug


It pains me to say this, but while I was really looking forward to it, this first issue of THE BLACK DIAMOND really didn't do much for me. Now, I'm sold on the premise, that being the unusual but intriguing idea of a transcontinental roadway designed to keep all the miscreants, misfits, ne'er-do-wells, and other unseemly types separated from your everyday Joe. Sounds fun, sounds like it could make for some damn fine explosions and adrenaline tapping sequences right? Yeah, but none of those are present here because this particular issue is pretty much just set up. Somewhat uninspired set up too. And the worst part of it is that, while I fully expect next issue to ramp everything up and put the lacking energy levels of this issue behind, I absolutely cannot stand most of the art on this book. I don't know how this was created, it's a process unknown to me to make it come out the way it was, but it's downright laughable at times. The lifeless eyes on the characters, and these weird cheeklines and mouths that make every character look like they've had a botched collagen job, the faces on the characters in this book are just ugly. There is a silver lining, though: the vehicles and highway shots we actually do see in this look pretty fantastic, and since I expect/hope most of following issues of this mini to be nothing but balls-to-the-wall car chases and action sequences I might not have to be exposed to faces that look like they belong to Sloth from “The Goonies”. I hope so, because I had very high hopes for this series when I first saw it solicited, and I've come to trust AIT/Planet Lar very much as a publisher. – Humphrey Lee


I didn’t know what to expect when I delved into the world of XOMBIE. In the foreword, the author gives a brief explanation as to how this idea came to be. Pieced together from late night ghost stories from his childhood, this story written by James Farr is a sweet and gruesome tale about a little girl who wakes up during the zombie holocaust and is rescued by a zombie with a soul. What I loved the most about this book was that this wasn’t your typical zombie story. This wasn’t just a tale of the initial outbreak and the human struggle to stay alive. This story focuses on what comes after we realize that the dead walk. The nations unite to fight an army that grows as their own number dwindles. DEAD ON ARRIVAL is a novella with pics scattered throughout and goes into great detail on not only what it’s like to be a zombie, but what it’s like to survive in a world that has long gotten used to the fact that the dead walk. REANIMATED is its sequel in comic book form for the first time. Apparently this property has been around for a while in one form or another (websites, cartoons, etc.), but this is my first time hearing about it. Now that I know about it, though, this is definitely a zombie comic that is different from the rest and worth reading. – Ambush Bug


This comic gets better and better in quality as the issues progress. Reading this series has been a pleasure to see the people attached to this book grow and mature into better artists and writers. Steve Earnhart has created a world where detective noir meets sci fi meets super-hero kickassery. This issue starts out with two exciting chase sequences that collide into one another. The cast comes together for a pretty brutal brawl and the whole mystery comes to some form of resolution. Rudolf Montemayor has improved as an artist as well. His lines are more distinct and characters more loose and dynamic. This issue also has a great moment where one lucky reader of the book gets to be decapitated on panel. There aren’t too many books that can promise that to its fans. HARD-BULLIED COMICS is at times exposition heavy, but so were the noir films it’s emulating. It’d be worth your while to check this book out. – Ambush Bug

RISERS #1 Alternacomics

Wow, this was a depressing read. Good, but depressing as hell. Yes, it’s another zombie book, but don’t look for a group of people hiding in a warehouse boarding up windows and fighting amongst themselves in this one. This is a much more personal tale about death and how it disrupts life and affects those you leave behind. There is a lot of personal turmoil in this first issue. Annette Thomas died in a car accident; shortly after her burial, she rose from the grave and returned to her family. Turns out this is somewhat of a regular occurrence in the world this comic resides in. When a person is killed before their time and has unresolved issues, sometimes they are given a chance to come back and rectify some past mistake before passing on. It’s a nice concept, one that I’m sure many of us who have survived loved ones wish would be a reality from time to time. And although it’s not the most chipper of material, writer Martin Fisher does a great job of handling the material in a thoughtful and mature manner. To top it off, there’s some really moody pencils and inks from the art team of Kurt Belcher and Steve Farfan, making this a spooky read as well as a thoughtful one. Too many zombie books out there treat the zombies as lifeless husks and forget that at one time they were human beings with families and lives. This book remembers that. It’s a different, more soulful and caring take on the zombie genre and I’m looking forward to finding out just what business brought Annette back from the dead in future issues. – Ambush Bug

THE SUPER NATURALS #1 & 2 Jam Packed Productions

This offering from Jam Packed Productions was a quick read, but a fun one. The action moves at a rapid rate as the narrator explains that the earth as we know it no longer exists. Extraterrestrials have populated to earth and captured or killed most of the humans AKA Norms. Jay is one of the Norms being hidden by his alien mother, a pink, four-armed fish lady. When the “New Mankind” authorities find Jay in the secret bunker under his house the action starts and does not stop until the very last panel of issue one. In very few panels, this book had me interested in the story and invested in the characters’ outcome. There are some pretty inventive alien designs at work here by artist Jamie Briggs but it’s writer Tony Tapia’s rapid-fire pacing that makes this book stand out. Diego Candia picks up the art reigns for issue two, but the momentum doesn’t stop rolling along. A few Norms are hand picked by the New Mankind authorities for some mysterious reason and are being transported to an equally mysterious location. This is a fun and exciting yarn where humans are the outcasts in a world of monsters. Worthwhile reading, for sure. – Ambush Bug


One of the things that I have admired about AIT/Planet Lar is the fact that not one book published by them resembles another, and yet the one thing that ties them all together is that they are all spectacular reads. THE HOMELESS CHANNEL is the perfect example of this. This book sets its sights on an up and coming television producer whose idea to form a channel that revolves around the homeless sounds crazy, but it may just be crazy enough to work. With fully realized characters, this slice-of-life book shows that you don’t have to have capes and eye-beams to make a good comic. But it isn’t the plot or the characters that make this book stand out as one of the most impressive reads I have peeped on in a while; it’s the way writer/artist Matt Silady puts his panels together and utilizes the space within the panel in imaginative ways that are rarely seen in modern comics. Silady takes control of your eyes and guides you in the direction that he sees fit. With subtle paneling, he communicates even the most minute of movements and details (such as a wonderful scene where one character, who unscrews the lid of a sugar shaker only to have the shaker pour its contents into another character’s coffee a few panels later). These are visual subtleties that the average artist wouldn’t be able to pull off, but Silady does it with ease. Although the art is heavily photo referenced, it doesn’t look staged or posed like many photo referencers do. These shots seem natural. The characters are comfortable and Silady captures a broad range of feeling and emotion with very few lines. Although visually pleasing, this book also has a huge heart. It’s genuinely funny and has a very real sense of good about it. The characters are trying to help the homeless, but make mistakes along the way. I found myself rooting for the characters to succeed as this one played out. Check this book out. It’s not your typical comic book and not your typical subject matter, but I liked it just the same. – Ambush Bug

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