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AICN COMICS' has a little bit of everything this week; news, previews, and oh yeah...REVIEWS!

#41 2/18/09 #7

Hey folks, Ambush Bug here. Since this week’s SHOOT THE MESSENGER spot was handed over to Wolverine and Schleppy for THE AICN COMICS 5th ANNUAL @$$IE AWARDS COLUMN, we decide to merge both SHOOT THE MESSENGER and AICN COMICS REVIEWS together for one week. So after you click back to read or reread Monday’s ginormous column, check out this mix-up of reviews, news, and previews. Fear not, we’ll be back next week with our normal Monday and Wednesday columns, but for now, enjoy this mixed bag of @$$ie goodness.

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) SHOOT THE MESSENGER NEWS: The Lunas battle Leukemia Spinner Rack to the Future previews NOVA, GREEN LANTERN, IMPALER, SKAAR: SON OF HULK, AMERICAN MCGEE’S GRIMM, CAPTAIN AMERICA, & SARAH PALIN AICN Comics Reviews INVINCIBLE #59 PUNISHER #1-2 TANGENT: SUPERMAN’S REIGN #12 THE HELM TPB & THE SCREAM TPB Big Eyes for the Cape Guy presents BLACK LAGOON VOL 4 Indie Jones presents THE DARKNESS FROM WARSAW OGN CHEAP SHOTS!

Hey folks, A. Bug again with the beginning of an unconventional AICN Comics column. We wanted to start this week off with some cool comic book news from the comic book sensation the Luna Brothers (no relation to the Jonas Brothers, I hope). I’ll hand it over to this long time AICN Comics reader who passed this info along to me.

Hey there. I'm a regular reader at AICN, and I wanted to run something past you for the AICN Comics section.
I'm sure you're familiar with The Luna Brothers, creators of ULTRA, GIRLS, and their current book THE SWORD. They also did the artwork for SPIDER-WOMAN: ORIGIN. Anyhow, the Lunas are good friends of mine, and they've offered to help me with a fundraiser I'm doing for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I will be running the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon on May 31st, and as a part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training, part of the run is to help raise money.
As a fundraiser, the Lunas and I are holding a drawing for some personalized and signed trade paperbacks of their work, with the grand prize being the hardcover, oversized GIRLS Complete Collection ($100 value, not to mention just being darn cool). Included with it will be a sketch by the Lunas of the winner's choosing. Entry for the drawing is only $10, with no limit to how many times you can enter. The site, which includes more info about the cause, can be found here.
Now, I get nothing out of this financially. All the proceeds from the drawing entries go directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to help them fight various blood cancers and to help find a cure. Even the cost of the comic books came out of my pocket.
If you would be so kind as to post a short blurb about it on AICN Comics, and maybe even on AICN's homepage, it would be greatly appreciated!
Long Time Reader, Rommel S. Calderon

Thanks for reading and giving us the heads up, Rommel! I know times are tight for everyone these days, but this seems like a really good cause. Best of luck Rommel & the Lunas on this worthwhile endeavor.

A. Bug back again with a handful of previews for you to enjoy on this fine Wednesday. Cool thing about these previews is that after previewing them, you can run out and find most of them on the racks TODAY! Let’s check out what the Spinner Rack holds for us this week…
First up, we have one of my favorite Marvel books, NOVA. From the very first issue, this book has been a hidden gem at Marvel, enjoyed by those with taste and lauded many times in this very column here at AICN. In issue #22, looks like that hipster planet, Ego, is busy making Nova Corpsmen. Check out the recruitment drive.

You can find NOVA on the racks today. Go get it…
Ok, finish reading this column, then go get it.

From one cosmic avenger to another, Geoff Johns continues his forward creep towards the most anticipated comic book event of the year, “The Blackest Night”. But first he must deal with the Blue and Red Lanterns. Check issue #38 out.

GREEN LANTERN #38 is in stores this very minute.

I loved the concept of the original IMPALER series. Here’s a preview of the second issue of the follow-up from William Harms and Matt Timson. Check out this preview to see the vampy coolness in this new ongoing series from Top Cow.

I really love the art here. IMPALER #2 is out of the crypt and on the shelves today.

I’ve been reading SKAAR: SON OF HULK and waiting for it to pick up steam. And with the appearance of the Silver Surfer in last issue, it did just that. This issue is somewhat of a landmark because it heralds the return of Ron Lim to penciling the Silver Surfer. Check out the barbarian goodness that is SKAAR!

The balls on that guy to spit on the son of the Hulk. I’m sure he’ll be coughing them up sometime next week. But you can see this issue of SKAAR: SON OF HULK today. If you head out to the comic store, that is.

I’m not familiar with this property, but I have to comment on the fun art that IDW is offering up with AMERICAN MCGEE’S GRIMM, a miniseries from the creator of AMERICAN MCGEE’S ALICE, set to debut in April. Check it out.

You can’t get this in stores today, but look for it in April from IDW Publishing.

Consistently one of the best reads Marvel is offering these days. I go back and forth between which Bru comic I like better, CAPTAIN AMERICA or DAREDEVIL. Check out the phenomenal art in issue #47 of CAP.

Now that’s some nitty gritty art from Butch Guice. And you can find it in stores today.

I saved the most interesting preview for last. Blue Water Comics have been churning out some interesting books these days. And despite my choice in who I voted for in the last election, the way they are presenting this SARAH PALIN comic is downright interesting. Unlike the other political biography comics out there, this one actually tries to be creative and fun. Check out what I’m talking about in this preview.

See what I mean? I can’t help but be curious about this book and the preview sealed it for me. Check out FEMALE FORCE: SARAH PALIN coming to finer comic shops soon from Blue Water Comics.

And now that the previews are over with, let’s get on with the AICN Comics Reviews!


Writer: Robert Kirkman Artist: Ottley Publisher: Image Comics Reviewer: Optimous Douche

Over the past few issues, some will say INVINCIBLE has been in a holding pattern. Some are waiting for the return of Invincible’s father, the rogue Viltrumite, that was setting up earth for domination and is now trying to find his salvation; assuming he can break free from capture. Most have become entirely fed up with Invincible’s relationship with Atom Eve and the perpetual pages of lovey-dovey eyes and cooing that comes with young love. And finally there are fans like me that don’t want to see the story move forward too quickly, because frankly that usually signifies an end, especially with indie titles. As long as the dialogue is sharp and the interludes are interesting, I’ll support infinite holding patterns of the “main” story because it simply gives me more time with the characters in a universe I have grown to love. In the case of this issue though, I will roshambo anyone that wants to say this was an interlude or a holding pattern, despite its one-off feel.
Up until this point most of the villains in INVINCIBLE have served merely as one note, single issue pummel bags. With Cecil Steadman’s turn in issue 50 from friend and government handler to douche bag extraordinaire we saw a brief glimpse of Kirkman’s ability to write a villain who believes he is fighting on the side of angels. Now we see the shades of moral gray come into full view with the introduction of PowerPlex, a baddie with a chip on his shoulder for Invincible and, some might argue, a justifiable thirst for vengeance.
Borrowing from Busiek’s “how do the actions of heroes affect the everyman,” PowerPlex blames Invincible for the death of his sister, who was an innocent bystander killed in the wake of one of Invincible’s first battles. What’s different from the Busiek take is that awe and amazement for costumed heroes are replaced by rage and distrust. There’s no doubt that PowerPlex is unbalanced, but you can’t help but feel for the crazy bastard since Kirkman opens the book with PowerPlex rehearsing his battle cry for his wife and child to critique. If you take out the super hero stuff, the tenderness between Mr. and Mrs. PowerPlex and his undying love to protect his son could be ripped out of any family man’s living room.
I was not only surprised by the outcome of the final battle in this issue, but outright shocked. Naturally, I’m not going to give it away here, because I want you to buy the damn book. Let’s just say Invincible has a new nemesis that has risen from charred remains.
When Optimous Douche isn’t reading comics and misspelling the names of 80’s icons, he “transforms” into a corporate communications guru. "What if the whole world had superpowers? Find out in the pages of Optimous’ original book AVERAGE JOE. Read the first full issue on Optimous’ New Blog and see original sketches by fellow @$$hole Bottleimp. If you are a publisher or can help these guys get AVERAGE JOE up, up, and on the shelves in any way, drop Optimous a line."


Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Jerome Opena Publisher: Marvel Comics Guest Reviewer: William

Punisher, Sentry, Norman Osborn, all in one comic book? You can count this series in when it came to my usual comic book shopping this week.
First off, I love me some Punisher. I think he's really a great character, one that has continued to successfully exist over several decades because of his simplistic nature. "Keep it simple stupid" is the best way to chronicle him. Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Wolverine, etc, they've all had changes as frequent as the next clothing fad, but with the Punisher he's still the same bad-ass, no-nonsense vigilante as he was over 30 years ago. (Just don't get me started on the whole Punisher-avenging-ghost-thingie from a few years back. We'll just ignore that for continuity’s sake, as many others within the comic book medium have thankfully done so as well).
To be honest, I haven't read a comic featuring the Sentry. What I knew about him was based on stuff written in Wizard magazine and the internet, how this whole theory that he was some locked-away character created by Stan Lee decades ago all turned out to be a neat little hoax. I guess he's kind of like Marvel's version of Superman (except with the Michael Bolton type 80's hair), complete with the unbelievably high superpowers that probably give most writers a headache trying to write around with.
So basically this storyline has to do with the Punisher attempting to assassinate Norman Osborn during a political rally, only he didn't count on the Sentry being there as Norman's personal bodyguard. If you ever wanted to see what a fight between the Punisher and Superman would be like, this is as close as you're going to get here. Punisher pulls out all the stops, going from a high-powered Skrull rifle to handguns to explosives to acid. It's definitely vintage Punisher action, something us Punisher freaks can't get enough of. What's interesting to note is how believable the fight is. As glaringly one-sided as one would think it'd be, the Punisher shows his tactical side by finding innovative ways to not defeat but rather stall the Sentry from capturing him. Writer Rick Remender obviously knows that any fight between a man and a presumably invincible god can't be written in many ways except one, and I thought he did an excellent job of keeping the action fast and real, enough to make me wonder how interesting a Punisher vs. Superman fight would actually be. Too bad there haven't been any more Marvel/DC crossovers for a while now.
What must be highlighted too is the great artwork by Jerome Opena. I loved the gritty, dirty take that he took with his art here. Imagine watching a 70's documentary about urban New York and you'll get the approach that Jerome was going for. Colorist Dan Brown should especially be noted for his work too. I thought he did an excellent job here of utilizing color saturation. You know how sometimes you see certain movie scenes where the colors are oversaturated? Well, he did that here throughout the comic and it looks beautiful. It almost has a pastel kind of look going for it too, something that works really well towards the gritty approach mentioned earlier.
About the only complaint I had was that Marvel decided to do another one of their $3.99 price hikes by adding the "value" of a book-ended Punisher timeline here. I guess it works if someone wants to see a condensed version of the Punisher's 30+ year history within some pages, but come on Marvel, you know and I know it's just a cheap excuse for adding another dollar to the book. I would much rather have paid that extra dollar for a few more pages of the interesting storyline rather than this recycled stuff, but oh well.


Writer: Dan Jurgens Pencils: Carlos Magno Published by: DC Comics Reviewed by: BottleImp

There’s been a lot of discussion on the Talkbacks lately (mostly revolving around last week’s review of Neil Gaiman’s “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?” story) about “big event” storytelling versus “standalone” comics. The argument was made that characters needed to grow and change over long periods of time, or as a result of those previously mentioned comic book “events,” in order to keep their stories from stagnating and growing repetitive. However, it was pointed out that in some cases, particularly in the case of Batman, this motivation to shake things up can result in a seemingly endless parade of writers and artists looking to put their mark on the character and create “the most shocking/unbelievable/overhyped ________ (insert character’s name here) story you’ll ever read!” When a comic book character is subjected to such continuous re-imagining, the very act of change can itself become repetitive. Personally, I agree with the comic book creator (I can’t remember who it was, so if anyone wants to enlighten me feel free) who said something along the lines of “Comic book readers don’t want change… they want the illusion of change.” When the costume changes, deaths, resurrections, inexplicable powers, weddings and brief switches to villainy are said and done, the characters remain, more or less, as they began.
Which brings me (in a rather roundabout way) to the TANGENT miniseries.
If you want an epic story that will forever change the DC Universe, look elsewhere. If you want a straightforward world-crossing action/adventure comic starring those mainstays of DC Comics, a story that hearkens as far back as the first meeting of the Justice League and the Justice Society, a title that is proud to wear its love for DC’s Silver Age on its sleeve, then this miniseries is for you. Dan Jurgens has crafted the anti-event book—a series that told its story well, gave the reader excitement and intrigue, and made sure that anyone who picked up this comic would be able to read and enjoy it without prior reading required. The final issue wraps up the series in a neat package, and best of all, leaves the door open for future stories of the Tangent characters. There’s no mess for another writer to clean up; Jurgens didn’t feel the need to kill off a major character or anything to tell a good story.
Earth-shattering events have their place in the comic book realm, but sometimes we need to remember that an engaging story doesn’t need to scream at us when a soft-spoken word will do. If you need a break from all the noise, sit back and remember what superhero comics were like when you first started reading them with SUPERMAN’S REIGN.
When released from his Bottle, the Imp takes the form of Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from the Northeast. You can see some of his artwork athere. He’s given up comics more times than he can remember. But every time he thinks he's out, they pull him back in.


Writer: Jim Hardison


Writer: Peter David Art for both: Bart Sears (breakdowns & covers), Randy Elliott (finishes) Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Reviewer: Ambush Bug

So I got my hands on a pair of trades from Dark Horse. Both are stories of unlikely heroes destined for greatness. Both were highly imaginative in concept, sporting creative and original characters. And both were drawn by Bart Sears.
Let me back up a few paces before I proceed. If you look at your typical review here at AICN and other comic book reviews around the net, reviews focusing on art are few and far between. It's easy to gripe about character, pacing, and continuity, but it’s a bit more difficult to talk about the finer points of art and give the art of a comic a more in depth look-see. Unless it's a rip-roaring beat-down tearing apart the artist for particulars like the inability to draw feet, usually a reviewer describes the art in a short paragraph towards the end of the review--an obligatory mention, really. Usually that next to last paragraph has flowery descriptors using terms like eye feasting and mouthwatering (I guess if an orifice and a fluid are mentioned, it's got to be good).
I'm going to try to go into why I like a specific artist, Bart Sears, in this review because I think the guys deserves a bit of credit. He's gotten a bad rap lately and it's not totally undeserving. I'm not saying that Sears' distinctive puffy people at times aren't off-putting and occasionally ludicrous, but I've always found his art to be appealing.
I first encountered Bart Sears' work in Keith Giffen's JLI spin-off, JLE. Like many of you, I marveled at the insane musculature of his heroes, the dynamic poses and facial expressions, and of course, the awesomeness that was Power Girl's cans. Back when I used to read WIZARD (yeah, I admit it. I read it back in the day--who didn't?), one of the cooler articles was Sears' artist workshops where he taught readers the basics of dynamic visual storytelling. Loved his work on X-O MANOWAR. Loved him on TUROK. I was a big fan for quite a while.
Then Priest's CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON came about (whatever happened to Priest, by the way?) and like many of you, my adoration for Sears' art waned when he began splashing out his panels to the nth degree and inking his own work. Even the already insane musculature was amped to a ridiculous level and their lips went from full to not unlike the bastard child of Angelina Jolie and a suckerfish. The art was so distracting to the reader that wondering how the characters were ever able to do simple functions like wiping their asses became more important than following the story. By the time WARLORD hit, Sears’ work looked like he inked it with a dull Sharpie and I feared the once dynamic and crisp panels of the Sears of old were never to be seen again.
So seeing Sears' name on the covers of these two trades filled me with a bit of hesitation. But ever the optimist, I peeled back the covers and took a look and was surprised to find that these two collected series contain some of the best artwork by Sears in ages. Gone are the heavy inks and muddy composition. Present are Sears' sense of vivid panels and distinct facial expressions and poses. Sure Sears likes his splash pages, but when filled with such exciting characters and action, I can forgive that. Upon further inspection, I found that Sears did the breakdowns for these miniseries, leaving the finishes to Randy Elliott. This was a wise decision. Elliott brings out the best of Sears' artwork, maintaining the strong points while adding clarity and crispness. There's no shame in that. Artist collaboration is an age-old concept and the results are often fantastic, as with these two trades.
The stories themselves are pretty keen too.
THE HELM is a nice little yarn about a slacker who finds a magic talking helmet, filled with high moments like the talking helmet getting all Burgess Meredith on the pudgy hero's @$$. The story (an underdog story) is somewhat predictable and suffers from a couple of structural flaws, mainly the delayed introduction of the big bad halfway through the story and the scattershot love/hate relationship the talking helmet has with the hero (he comes to respect him by the end of issue one, but is back to hating him in issue two). But writer Jim Hardison makes our hero a lovable loser and it ended up being a fun read.
THE SCREAM really surprised me. But of course, it's by Peter David, so I should have expected something cool. Reminiscent of both THE HULK and SHADE THE CHANGING MAN, yet standing on its own structurally and creatively, the story follows a poor sap who gains the power to channel his "fight or flight” reflex into the form of a muscular hero or a hideous monster. David once again shows he's one of the most gifted writers we have today, even though the final issue seemed to be a bit rushed.
The main reason you should check these trades out is to see Bart Sears back in top form again. With a little help by Randy Elliot, he's turned out some beautiful work here and deserves a chance on some more high profile projects soon. Sure, the pouty lips and puffy muscles may not be photo-realistic, but Sears has a style that lends itself to the fantastic tales we all read and not everything should be rooted in such reality. For someone who missed Sears' dynamic style, these two trades were a treat to read.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, reviewer and co-editor of AICN Comics for over seven years. Check out previews to his short comic book fiction here and here published in MUSCLES & FIGHTS 3 and MUSCLES & FRIGHTS on his ComicSpace page. Bug was interviewed here and here at Cream City Comics. Look for more comics from Bug in 2009 from Bluewater Productions, including the just-announced sequel to THE TINGLER for their VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS ongoing series.


By Rei Hiroe Released by VIZ Media Reviewer: Scott Green

The fourth volume of BLACK LAGOON caps off the "Goat, Jihad, Rock 'n' Roll" plotline with its final chapter, then launches into the "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" story and wraps things up with a silly gender swap gag called "Boys and Girls."
"Goat, Jihad, Rock 'n' Roll," featured "Two Gun" Revy, a Chinese American heroic bloodshed hottie in Daisy Dukes and sleeveless top and Rokuro "Rock" Okajima, the white collar salaryman turned Lagoon Company smuggler working as unlikely proxies for an intel deal between the Roanapur, Thailand Triads and the CIA. So, Revy and Rock are set up with a blade slinging Taiwanese assassin and a stoned Irish driver with the goal of navigating/blazing a trail through territory control by an operation run by the partnered vitriol of Muslim radical and a former Japanese student protester who never abandoned the movement. The conclusion to this adventure features some kinetic scenes of screeching cars and bullets flying, as well as a few panels of raw nerve drama. However, not having read Volume 3, I really can't comment on whether the manga's "Goat, Jihad, Rock 'n' Roll" incorporated the tense moments of characters reflecting on their actions and course of their lives that were woven into the story by Madhouse's lauded anime adaptation.
"Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" is the rare (single?) BLACK LAGOON story to take its characters away from Roanapur and its neighboring seas and environs. Rock is loaned out as translator to Balalaika, the badly burned commander of a squad that evolved from a paratrooper team in the Soviet war against Afghanistan into the Russian mafia operation known as Hotel Moscow. Rock, along with non-Japanese speaking Revy, accompany Hotel Moscow to his native country in a mission to expand Russian criminal influence by exploiting a rivalry between yakuza organizations. Happenstance puts Rock and Revy in contact with prominent representatives from one of these yakuza organizations: the orphaned intellectual teenage heiress of the Washimine Group, Yukio Washimine and the similarly serious minded and traditional family retainer, uncanny swordsman "Manslayer" Ginji. Between the lack of a strong central authority, an insubordinate, degenerate contingent of young foot soldiers and the alien scorched earth tactics of Hotel Moscow, the Washimine find themselves in an untenable position. Transitively, Rock and Revy find themselves in a dangerous spot between the increasingly desperate yakuza and a school of Russian sharks that have tasted blood.
Volume 4 caused me to reevaluate Rei Hiroe's work and his contributions to BLACK LAGOON. Hiroe is the creator of the BLACK LAGOON manga, and as such, he is the seminal force behind the premise, the magnetic characters and their exotic world. Fictional Roanapur, Thailand as a sort of criminal Galapagos, populated by miscreants, exiles, and expeditionary forces washed up on the shores of a pirate bay is a brilliant platform for an action serial. Similarly its bite the bullet, gleeful appropriation of the best from the globe's violent cinema is sure to raise the heart rate of any action fan.
My read on Rei Hiroe was that he was a sometimes ero doujinshi author (under the pseudonym Tex-Mex) with a keen interest in specific details about guns and military accoutrements... a (possibly obsessive) connoisseur of the female form and of firearms. Given that a banner for BLACK LAGOON is bound to showcase Revy's short shorts and her hands clenching pistols, Hiroe deserved the credit for the marketable features of BLACK LAGOON.
My idea was that Hiroe created the sizzle for BLACK LAGOON's manga and Sunao Katabuchi brought in the substance for his anime adaptation. This impression may have been formed by hitting the BLACK LAGOON anime before the manga that spawned it. After reading the early parts of the manga, I felt that the anime had a stronger command of the elements that intrigued me most about BLACK LAGOON: the character of Roanapur, and more importantly, BLACK LAGOON discomfort's with its own appeal. In an early scene, like us, Rock is entranced by watching Revy go rabid dog on her adversaries. She makes a team of armed men in a speeding boat look entirely ineffectual as she performs her Olympic run and gun routine. Rock's rejoinder, which clinched my appreciation of the anime, was missing from the manga. Maybe speaking for us, he comments "I don't know what broke to make her like this, but I must be broken too if I'm standing here praising her destructiveness."
While I have no qualms against condemning a story that rails against excesses in which that story indulges, I was fascinated by how the BLACK LAGOON anime expressed discomfort with the exploitation that it exalted. Its characters are addicted to a violent life, but also traumatized by that existence. In sharing this with the viewer, the anime indicts the voyeur for their interest. There's a tete-a-tete going on that develops almost sadomasochistically. It encourages you to get excited about the infliction of pain and grievous injury, then it slaps you for that excitement.
After reading the manga's "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" I was persuaded that Katabuchi emphasized rather than invented this component of BLACK LAGOON.
It's noteworthy that Katabuchi's anime shifted the placement of several of BLACK LAGOON's stories to develop friction between Revy and Rock concerning whether Rock was an outsider judging the Roanapur/Lagoon Company life, or whether he'd become part of it. And, it's noteworthy that the anime closed shop at "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise."
"Greenback Jane," a story that rioted with the bizarre personalities attracted to Roanapur, preceded "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" in the anime, but followed it in the manga. The manga's later place Jane was collected with the opening chapters of the possibly-to-be-animated "el Baile de la muerte." While a third anime series has now been announced, there were four months between the original BLACK LAGOON anime and BLACK LAGOON: SECOND BARRAGE, then 3+ years between Barrage and what's next. So, I'm assuming that Katabuchi and Madhouse assumed they were ending the anime with Fujiyama.
This story is the Sartre evoking existential crux of BLACK LAGOON. In the manga incarnation, it does seem to romanticize the yakuza doomed by the incursion of globalization and generational schisms. Still, its hard look at the consequences of the outlaw life, goes a lone way to stripping the gunslingers of their mystique. These people aren't friends and aren't even friends with each other. Tenuous, self serving allies are recast as REALLY tenuous REALLY self serving allies, as we're reminded that the wolves who we've become attached to are liable to devour anyone not in their own particular pack.
We've seen before, in the Hansel and Gretel child assassin case "Bloodsport Fairy Tale" that Rock is not able to emotionally disassociate himself from Lagoon Company's activities. In that case, he was a minor catalyst in the action. "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" forces viewer and subject to recognize how he's alienated himself from his past as a Japanese business man, and instead, become party to the bloody Roanapur life. I didn't expect to find that many of the profound moments in this story came from Hiroe. I simply didn't think that quiet moments or introspection were in his repertoire. I was proven wrong. Revy commandeering a group of kids BB gun game, then pantomiming it really looks like to get shot is a brilliantly dark moment. It captures sorrowful self destruction among the gleeful violence, and proves that the manga shares the anime's fascinatingly dark soul.
Scott Green has been writing for AICN ANIME for over seven years. If you like what you see here and love anime & manga, be sure to check out his latest AICN ANIME column here.


Written by: Bram Meehan Art by: Jamie Chase Published by: Panel Press Reviewed by: Ryan McLelland

Panel Press's RAISED BY SQUIRRELS is truly one of the best kept secrets in the indie comic book world today. I fell in love instantly with the book when I first found it five or so years ago at SPX and continue to wait with bated breath for each subsequent release. RBS blends espionage, backstabbing, and beautiful secret agents together into a world with those who have superpowers and the agency set up to monitor them. It's a comic book world that sets a very high bar which most comics never even come close to reaching, though RBS surpasses with each and every release.
The latest Squirrel adventure is THE DARKNESS FROM WARSAW which continues a look back at the early days of the S.Q.R.L. (Special Qualities Research Laboratory) Agency. A continuation of sorts from another Squirrel's miniseries DEATH, COLD AS STEEL - the series follows Estelle (who we met in STEEL), a former agent of S.Q.R.L., as she relays a story from her golden days just after World War II.
Estelle is keeping tabs on a man named Petrie who seems to have these strange occurrences happening to him. Estelle monitors these 'possessions' until one leads her to uncover a secret possession of Petrie's - a supernatural tablet with some extreme power entwined in it. As Estelle looks into this mysterious tablet it seems that it having being removed from its resting place in Warsaw during the war has caused these events to transpire and that Estelle needs to head there to investigate just what is going on.
THE DARKNESS FROM WARSAW isn't a long graphic novel and gladly the price tag is just right for its length. It's really great to read these 'early adventures' of the S.Q.R.L. and get a great back story of where this superhero monitoring agency came from. It's also a great starting point for those who have never read RAISED BY SQUIRRELS and can lead you straight to the amazing spy series for more death and intrigue. While I certainly do miss new adventures of Tyler and Rose over in RBS, I'm more than happy to proclaim that Bram Meehan, joined by artist Jamie Chase and his captivating, haunting art, has produced another amazing chapter of the S.Q.R.L. world that will thrill up to its very end.
Ryan McLelland has worked in movies and comics journalism for the past several years before joining the @$$holes here at AICN. Ryan’s comic work has already graced comic shelves with Arcana’s PHILLY, WISE INTELLIGENCE, UPTOWN GIRL, and THE SENTINELS ANTHOLOGY. He rarely updates his blog but when he does it can be read at


Last week, I reviewed BATMAN & THE OUTSIDERS SPECIAL #1 where the new/old Outsiders were gathered together by Alfred per Batman’s Last Will & Testament. I liked it because it was a good “gatherin’ the troops” issue.
This issue we have…the Outsiders…coming together…gathered together by Alfred…per Dead Batman’s instructions…
That’s about it.
Still excited about this series with the addition of Peter Tomasi and the new line-up/direction, but here’s hoping we get a bit more forward progression in the next issue. - Bug

X-FACTOR #40 Marvel Comics

Once again, Peter David has asked readers to not reveal the ending of X-FACTOR, and I will heed his wish. All I can say is that while the final pages of this issue lack the punch-to-the-gut impact of #39, they do send out a signal to all disgruntled fans of this series that David is definitely getting back on track and up to his top speed. Aside from the secret ending, we get a heartbreaking glimpse Jamie Madrox’s state of mind following the events of the previous issue as he confronts John Maddox, one of Multiple Man’s duplicates who left Jamie to live his own life, rendered beautifully by Valentine DeLandro. Like Bug and I said last month—X-FACTOR is good again! Come on back to the best-written mutant book on the shelves. - Imp

R.E.B.E.L.S. #1 DC Comics

Simply amazing art. That’s the standout with this issue. I forgot to review this book last week and actually missed it on the shelves, but I picked it up and the art had its way with my eye sockets and I am now forever enamored with Andy Clarke’s pepper-shaded and finely detailed art. Pick this one up to enjoy the eye feast (see? I warned you earlier about orifices and fluids in an art review!) and you’ll get a pretty fun story starring Vril Dox (this era’s Brainiac), Supergirl, and a whole new modern Legion! - Bug

MOON KNIGHT #27 Marvel Comics

This book has been a lot better since Mike Benson replaced the indecipherable Charlie Huston in the writing seat, but someone needs to talk to Benson about pacing. There’s a whole lot of fillin’ going on here. Plus Benson and Marvel seem to be taking the Matt Murdock sans DD route that Bendis often took here by focusing on Marc Spector’s alternate personality Jake Lockley with nary a panel starring Moon Knight. Thing is, Jake Lockley is no Matt Murdock. What flew for that established character doesn’t fly with Moonie’s alter-alter ego. But that pair of gripes isn’t the main problem with this title. It’s the covers. The covers more than cross far beyond the border of false advertising. They downright lie to you. In the last arc, I believe three covers worth of falsehoods depicting the Thunderbolts in various scenes were printed and in actuality the Tbolts showed up for maybe one or two panels and sometimes not at all. Now the last two months’ worth of covers feature the Punisher, but actually ol’ Frank gets about a page or two in each issue. If you’re looking for that Moonie/P-Shiddy team-up that you see on the cover over there, you’ll be sorely disappointed this time around. I know the writer doesn’t really have control over what shows up on his covers in the biz, but someone should wake up and make the covers coordinate a bit more. These covers that fail to live up to the expectations they advertise leave a bad taste in the mouths of readers--a taste bad enough to make one not buy the next issue. - Bug

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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