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#34 1/13/10 #8

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) Contest Winners review AVATAR: A CONFIDENTIAL REPORT ON THE BIOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL HISTORY OF PANDORA BOOSTER GOLD #28 ALIENS VS PREDATOR: THREE WORLD WAR #1 BATMAN: THE WIDENING GYRE #4 Big Eyes For the Cape Guy presents BIOMEGA Vol.1 Indie Jones presents… CHEAP SHOTS!


Hey all, Ambush Bug here. Below are the reviews of the winners of the AVATAR Contest we ran last month. Check out a few pages of this slick read here. Congrats again to the winners.

Contest Winner: 41Q

What follows is my review of the book AVATAR: AN ACTIVIST’S SURVIVAL GUIDE. Now, I'm a big James Cameron fan. I grew up in South Carolina in a nice little city. At some point, I grabbed a copy of 'The Abyss' and loved it. In fact, I discovered the set was up in Gaffney and checked it out. I was amazed. These days I'm a visual effects stereographer, so I've been looking forward to seeing just how this film was made for some time.
Having just come back from my second viewing of AVATAR(once in a Real-D theater and once in a faux IMAX screen in Canoga) I decided to sit down and share my feelings on the book. I know what you're thinking. What the hell has this got to do with the damn book? Well, at first glance, I was kind of pissed about the content. The book contains a lot of information about various plants and animals in the movie. As such, I was afraid the book would just reiterate crap I'd seen in the movie. So, after I read a few entries, I waited a bit and decided to check out the film!
Flash forward. The book is actually pretty cool. It has some information on creatures and stuff that I had gathered from Cameron's work, but it contained a lot of details that they'd added I had not noticed. For example, there is a cool entry on the drums the Na'vi (natives, for those that haven't seen the movie yet). They aren't just drums - they're drum tops suspended in water. The amount of water changes the tone. Cool, right? Bad-@$$!
So the book’s information is great. What I didn't like was the Activist part. I thought this might be a bigger part of the story, given the whole 'activist' thing in the title. But it's actually RDA files with scrawls of activist anti-information, refuting many of the claims made in the text.
There are three immutable laws of movies: 1:) Every group splits up. 2.) People only get sick and fall over if a table of food is nearby, and 3.) All activists write in crazy, whack-o chicken scratch.
And that's the part that didn't work for me. They didn't really do much with the whole activist thing. And that's the real downfall of it - it wasn't quite sure how to be fun and faux-informative. The book might have worked better as an in depth creature guide (like the cool Star Wars creature guide - the one with the faux lizard skin on the outside - the hardback one) or a cool file-like book, with lots of notes and observations from the scientists.
Ultimately, my interest in a fact-dictionary book depends on the source material. In this case, the source material was AVATAR. So, not surprisingly, my enjoyment of the book was not too far from my enjoyment of the book. AVATAR: AN ACTIVIST SURVIVAL GUIDE gets a solid B from me. I'd give the movie a fair B+ (or an A- in 3D, as I'd award extra points for technical achievement in immersion technology).
Secondary note to theater going public: If you see ‘Avatar’, see it in 3D. However, if you see it in 3D, make sure you get a good seat. Never, EVER sit too close watching 3D movies. You want to be at least 1/3 of the way back to really get a comfortable viewing. In fact, you can see a lot more cool stuff the further back you sit. Sitting in the back during a 3D movie is pretty cool! If someone said the 3D made them feel sick, check and see if they have crooked eyes. If they don't, ask them how far forward they sat in the theater.
James Cameron is great at 3D. He's not perfect.. for example, very early in the movie, during the zero G floating scenes, watch the neck of the technician/nurse/spaceman float forwards and backwards. Somebody did a poor conversion! However, watch the depth of the things Cameron filmed - perfect! Comfortable! Cool looking! Never distracting! My only real complaint is while Cameron has mastered the technical aspects of the 3D, he hasn't quite gotten the artistic to 100%; I'd say he's about 85% of the way there. But with 3D, it would have been more comfortable and cooler to simply follow critters and peoples a little longer...and to pull back a little farther. NOTE: EXTREME CLOSE UPS ARE NOT FUN. I tend not to look at things super closely. Ever. It hurts my eyes to concentrate on the super close. Please avoid.
Anyhow, that's my review, plus a 2 cent bonus!

Contest Winner: darfnader

As an artist and graphic designer, I have to say that I find the book rather cheap in appearance. Each and every page is the same simple repetition of crumpled paper, and every item that appears to be "clipped" to the book via faux paper clips has the same lifeless and unrealistic drop shadow. The visual corner-cutting even extends to the one of the coolest parts of the guide. The makers want it to appear as if someone has commandeered the guide and scribbled in information that the RDA doesn't want leaked to the general population of Earth, but unfortunately they chose to use a lame 'scribbly' computer font rather than paying someone to just write it out themselves and therefore add a much-needed touch of humanity and realism. Also, the majority of the images contained within the guide appear to be varying degrees of simple 3D model renders. However, the few full-quality, photo-realistic renders there are just incredible to see. Although I do find the guide's content wonderful, and it completely serves its purpose of further drawing me into the world of Pandora by adding layers upon layers of new information (especially on the state of things back on Earth, which was utterly nonexistent in the film), the guide's visuals come across as a series of mockup/pre-visual matte paintings for the film rather than a revelatory photographic exposé (that being the supposed reason for the guide's existence).
Favorite bits: The science behind the giant stone arches, the origin of the bola-like 'Banshee Catcher' used to subdue the Banshee, and the background of 'Unobtanium' and the origins of its somewhat silly name.

Contest Winner: Richard Chapman

My Thoughts About “A Confidential Report on the Biological and Social History of Pandora” Or Everything You Wanted to Know About EVIL SPACE FISH but Were Afraid to Ask
I have not seen “Avatar,” but I am a fan of James Cameron. I even enjoyed “Piranha 2.” However, I don’t enjoy talking for hours about the minutia of made-up worlds. That said, any book that employs the phrase “Evil Space Fish” has at least some entertainment value. Unfortunately, this book reads like Cameron’s notes for his design team. And why is there nothing remotely bad about Pandora? There’s no evil there. Yeah, there’s danger. But everything is just so much “more” than Earth. There must be something wrong on Pandora, some kind of evil, besides invading capitalists. Maybe I’m just a homer “Terran,” but surely Earth could be great at something. I guess the biggest issue I have with the book is that some of the mystery and magic of Pandora dissipated as I read it. As Dave Gibbons said, “Sometimes a glimpse is much more evocative.” That may be the real test. If you are one who is fascinated by the smallest biological deviations of fictional planets, this is definitely the book for you. For the rest of us, well…we can read about evil space fish, or we can just watch “Piranha 2.”

Thanks to those who sent in the reviews!


Writer: Dan Jurgens Artist: Norm Rapmund Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Optimous Douche

As soon as you shit-can the heavy exposition, this issue of BOOSTER GOLD finally starts to go places. It also didn’t hurt that the events of this issue ultimately send Booster to one of my favorite times in the DC universe — the days after the death of Superman and the days leading up to the destruction of Coast City.
For those that are unaware (and actually give a shit – which will be few), BOOSTER GOLD, was one half of the 1980s JLI version of the Two-Coreys. Along with Blue Beetle, Booster demonstrated that sarcasm and snark can work as delectable garnishes in portioned amounts to balance the bitter direness of comic book situations. These days this “Douche from Tomorrow” is a super-celebrity by day, never breaking a sweat thwarting the nefarious deeds of DC B-list villains, while keeping his true mission as savior of the time stream behind the scenes to avoid disrupting the space-time continuum.
Truly my only complaint about this issue and the series overall is all of the valuable real estate that keeps getting wasted to get new readers up-to-speed. At this point BOOSTER GOLD is about as accessible to new comic readers as the top of the Washington monument is to the paraplegic. Sure they CAN get to the top, but it’s going to be a damn tough row to hoe. Likewise, new readers CAN read BOOSTER GOLD, but even with the heavy-handed exposition, much of what makes this series great will be completely lost. It’s the contrast between a normal person visiting Pearl Harbor and an actual WWII veteran visiting that hallowed watery grave. There’s a stark difference between “getting it” and actually “living it.”
For months this series has been a delicate balance between an exploration of “Booster the man” and as an Elseworlds in waiting. With each mission to correct the time stream, one small misstep on Booster’s part could turn the main DC continuity into anything from RED SON to GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT. Fortunately Booster always saves the day, but these missions to remember when are for old as fuck fan-geezers like yours truly, not someone born during the Clinton or Bush eras.
Let’s take this story for example. Booster is sent to the days just after Superman died to stop a mysterious time traveler from sabotaging the mission that turned Hank Henshaw, destroyer of Coast City, into The Cyborg. Being a fan-geezer I remember these events when they first transpired, but it begs the question as to whether younger readers will care or should care about these events at all. With the multitude of ret-cons over the past few years and Blackest Night continuing the charge, even I’m left wondering if these events ever took place — and I actually read them.
While Booster tries to ensure that the events that led up to Coast City’s destruction happen as they should (remember, protecting the time stream does not always mean doing what’s right, merely ensuring that all events, even the atrocities, transpire as they should) we finally learn the fate of Booster’s resurrected sister Michelle.
It turns out that 2010 was not as appealing to Michelle as the days of the grunge. Feeling displaced (rightly so, since she was dead for almost twenty years), Michelle forgets her history lessons from the 25th century and ends up in Coast City face-to-face with Henshaw himself.
As I’ve repeatedly stated, the moments in this book are nuggets of pure comic goodness for those of us that remember when cover prices were a paltry $1.25. Before I get beat up in the Talkbacks for saying that the days after Superman’s death was one of my most favorite time periods, please look at this in context. Forget the multiple covers, forget what took place immediately following this time period; instead remember standing in line the day the death of Superman was released and the zealot fandom we all experienced until the dark days came a few years later.
In the end analysis, BOOSTER GOLD is a great book for the right type of comic fan. The right fan of course is someone with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things DC. Now if DC editorial could just realize they are not ensnaring new readers with this title and simply focus on the fan-geezers buying the book, this book could reach perfection for those of us that love nostalgia. Part of this realization will also make someone wake up to the fact that we don’t care about the new BLUE BEETLE back-up stories. I applaud DC for taking Blue Beetle in a new direction, but this kid ain’t Ted Kord. Remember DC write for your audience, the old bastards buying BOOSTER want the Blue & Gold, not some kid.
Optimous is lonely and needs friends. Even virtual ones will fill the gaping hole, join him on Facebook or he will cry like a newborn kitten.


Writer: Randy Stradley Art: Rick Leonardi Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Reviewer: Mr. Pasty

I’m a PREDATOR guy, let’s just get that out of the way. I had the good fortune to see the celluloid classic in theatres when I was in eighth grade and hastily scooped up the CONCRETE JUNGLE series when it debuted a short time later in 1989. It’s been an up-and-down ride since then but it’s a universe that can always bring forth an entertaining story when handled correctly. Such is the case with THREE WORLD WAR. I guess World War Three as a title seemed a bit too banal? Then again if the title is the only knock on your book then things must be going right between the covers and believe me, AVP:TWW is comics done right.
Right off the bat I can tell you to forget everything you know about Aliens vs. Predator. In fact, I’m not sure how accurate that title is to begin with because yes, you have Aliens and yes, you have Predators. You even have a few hapless humans stuck in the middle. So far, so good. So then why aren’t the Aliens attacking the Predators? (SPOILER ALERT) Well, in THREE WORLD WAR they have apparently come under the Predators control, led around on leashes like rabid Pitbulls trying to break free and feast on some human d’oeuvres. They have gone from enemy to weapon -- but why would the usually sport-minded Predators now begin killing for the sake of the kill and not the sport? That my friends, is one of the many storylines that will be explored going forward and I have a feeling the answer may surprise us.
What isn’t a surprise is the vibrant and fluid artwork by Rick Leonardi. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: Stories with grim subject matter don’t always have to be drawn to resemble the bottom of a Weber grill on July 5th. I like the clarity Leonardi brings to the story and his pencil (as usual) strikes just the right chord. In addition, I think he draws military-types as good as anybody in the business. Of course none of that would mean a whole heck of a lot if it wasn’t complimented by such a strong narrative. True, Randy Stradley is the quarterback of Dark Horse’s All Madden team but he proves he’s not resting on his laurels with a fantastic opening sequence followed by a slow build to issue #2. Ironically so many books do the opposite by starting with the build and ending on the climax but it works here and had me hooked from page one.
ALIENS VS. PREDATOR: THREE WORLD WAR is based on a premise that most of us are familiar with and perhaps even tired of but let me assure you that everything you know goes right out the window by page three and what lies ahead is a new and exciting story that I can’t wait to uncover. If there is any shred of interest in the ALIEN or PREDATOR franchises – or if you just like to see humans get their comeuppance – pick up this book. It doesn’t disappoint.
Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.


Writer: Kevin Smith Artist: Walter Flanagan Inker: Art Thibert Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: William

Kevin Smith has always had a love/hate relationship among his comic book fans. From his stint on Daredevil to Spiderman to the recent Batman: Cacophony, if there’s one thing that’s certain is that no one ever knows how his comics will be treated by the comic book fan base.
Enter his latest entry into our world, this time once again through the eyes of Batman. I’ve been giving this series a shot based on the last Batman work that Kevin did, Batman: Cacophony. Even though that series wasn’t fully satisfying, it did have its moments of grandeur here and there. Anytime someone can add a new angle to the Batman/Joker mythos, even after 60 or70 plus years and still make it seem fresh, is a testament to good writing.
This series however…I’ll flat out say it in one word, is DULL. Nothing about this series is exciting, and it’s doing the worst thing that any comic book publisher can do, which is to make me NOT want to buy any further issues of this comic. (C’mon DC Editors that’s what you’re paid to do, to ensure that writers give enough of an interesting angle to keep the fans coming). Sure there’s Cornelius Stirk getting his due end in this issue, and there’s some vigilante out there with a ridiculous looking goat mask (I kid you not) who’s trying to mimic Batman, but everything just seems so boring to me.
Then out of nowhere, like another one of those forced relationships that Hollywood is now insisting within their superhero movies, there’s this love-struck relationship that Bruce Wayne has with Silver St. Cloud. Imagine if we can go back to the Joel Schumacher world of Batman & Robin. Just for a moment, I promise. Remember how all of a sudden Batman had a FIANCE! And it was some supermodel that he seemed to adore and giggle about in every scene. That’s what this feels like here. All of a sudden Bruce Wayne, yes our Bruce Wayne and not some alternative universe clone, is suddenly in a whirlwind romance with someone named Silver St. Cloud, and most of this issue is spent with him frolicking in the sand with her like some love-sick puppy. I kept asking myself, where did this come from? Sure Bruce Wayne is the true mask of Batman, and he has to constantly keep up with the public façade of the billionaire playboy in order to hide his nightly work. And yes there’s even the remote chance that Batman truly wants some daily loving/grinding, because he is a man after all. But all this lovey-dovey stuff seemed straight out of today’s Twilight world, and I couldn’t keep thinking how forced and fake it all felt. I fully blame Kevin Smith on this, as it seems as if he’s writing from a phase in his life where his own marriage is enjoying the best success its ever had, so he feels he must impress it upon us readers through his writing. That’s great if it were Superman, but with Batman?
In any case, the ONLY thing that is keeping me going with these issues is to see how it plays out. If nothing else is good on the comic book racks the week I’m there, I’ll continue to add this series until something else catches my eye. (With everything negative that I’ve mentioned, I haven’t even covered the uninspired artwork by Walter Flanagan). But if anyone out there hasn’t read this series, I wouldn’t recommend it as you’re not really missing out on much. In fact, chance are that (in true Kevin Smith fashion) we will never know who the goat-headed vigilante is, or see a final resolution to his romance with Silver St. Cloud. Much like his Cacophony series, things started and ended without much resolution to anything, and I feel the same thing is going to happen here.


By Tsutomu Nihei Released by Viz Media Reviewer: Scott Green

To my mind, one of the mysteries of manga in North America is why Tsutomu Neihei (BLAME!) is not a more recognized figure. He renders armed men in immersive biomechanical labyrinths in a way that few others in the field and match. The visceral thrill that he taps into would seemingly find a receptive audience in the fans of first person shooting games of the DOOM/GEARS OF WAR/KILL ZONE lineage. This thought appears to have struck Marvel Comics too, because they've paired Neihei with properties such as WOLVERINE and HALO. As such, you can't really say Nihei is underexposed to North American readers. I can't name many other manga creators who've had that sort of bridge to build a reputation off. And yet, the demand for Nihei manga appears to be far from exceptional. I don't think "Nihei" on the cover moves copies of manga. The deduction does not hold up to logical scrutiny, but this makes we wonder if first person shooter fans are manga buyers.
My Twitter description of BIOMEGA was "Terminator/Kamen Rider enters a cyber-Lovecraftian zombie haunted town, meets talking sniper bear. Fearless guy in madness." That, and "Wouldn't want the job of the person who had to localize the art in BIOMEGA (Sam Elzway)." It's the kind work whose high concept accelerates the heart rate of a geek/fan, and one perfectly suited to Nihei's distinctive imagery. There isn't much more than that, but it does deliver the promised spectacle.
In 3005, humanity accomplishes its first manned flight to Mars in seven centuries. The crew, enchased in heavy exploration suits, feels their way through a girdered hall, until they come face to face with a pale woman with dark, dishevel hair, standing in the believed to be abandoned structure with no breathing apparatus.
Six months earlier, a black clad, black helmeted man rode his black motorcycle towards the towering perimeter of a locked down megalopolis. Warned of the danger inherit in going in alone, our man Zouichi brushes aside the advise with a "whatever." Surrounded on all sides by walls and overpasses, Zouichi tracks the rollercoaster like highways. With little space to avoid confrontation, he attempts to steer around a swipe from the bludgeoning arm of an shambling ex-human, and Akira-Tetsuo's into an out of place, normal-if a bit-pail young woman as she walks across the street. Zombified N5S infected drones swarm. Zouichi responds with a drawn pistol and hail of bullets. While the onrush doesn't challenge Zouichi's composure, he is taken a bit aback when the young woman's body begins to stitch itself back together, at least to the extent that a grizzly bear carry a sniper rifle is able to get the drop on him.
What works in a Nihei manga like BIOMEGA is the technology-retrofitted Lovecraftian sense of being entombed by something man-made, yet incalculably malignant. He is not a great action manga artist. The space and interaction between physical objects occasionally does not look right and generally don't hold up to scrutiny. The intension is clear, but the sense of speed and weight is lost. Similarly the logic behind panel to panel transition is certainly discernable in a way that can't be said of all manga, and yet, how the illustrations advance from one panel to the next is not as considered or effective as it could be.
What Nihei does excels at is design of sense of scale assaulting artificial landscapes and their ghastly inhabitants. Rather than aping Geiger, he offers his own nightmare vision of sanity consuming landscapes. With its spires stretching up a against a black sky and streets that are alternately empty and full of rampaging ghouls, Nihei's scope of astronomically misaligned architecture is projected onto a SILENT HILL/MIST damned settlement. His best known work, Blame! was set in a cyclopean labyrinth of endlessly stacked layers. Whereas BIOMEGA is still cyclopean and labyrinthian, BIOMEGA is set in a sort of Innsmouth, a town (well, large city) corrupted by something extremely dark, perhaps as the spearhead for something larger. Rather than GRAND CANYON meets METROPOLIS, meets ALIEN infestation, this one is HOUSE OF USHER meets SPACE MOUNTAIN meets METROPOLIS meets ALIEN infestation.
As in BLAME!, BIOMEGA is situated in a terrifying landscape. And, as in BLAME!, there is a disparity between the mind shattering immenseness of the threat that surrounds the hero, and that hero's cool, professional detachment. This is man with no name versus town of zombies Tull scene of Stephen King's GUNSLINGER magnified into MATRIX sci-fi proportions. You can accuse a character whose unaffected by that Lovecraftian menace of being underwritten. As with the sequential illustration, Nihei's writing talents are more workable than impressive. But, he does pull off the trick. Rather than thinking about a poorly defined trouble shooter, attention is turned to how hard/inhuman the guy who went in alone against the city of infected monster might be.
Based on past performance and the trajectory established by BIOMEGA's first volume, I don't imagine that one should expect much depth, insight or humanity from the manga. It's not BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL or VAGABOND, in which the author is working from some larger vision of how people think or interact. BIOMEGA is an effect. It's an effect that has become familiar from video games, but Nihei's mastery of it is so particular that it has to be seen.
Scott Green has been writing for AICN ANIME for over eight years. If you like what you see here and love anime & manga, be sure to check out his latest AICN ANIME column every week on AICN.

Hey folks, Ambush Bug here. Due to the holidays, I fell behind a bit on my Indie Jones duties, but I’m setting a goal for myself to catch up over the next few weeks. So if you’ve sent me your comics to review, thanks for your patience. Now, enjoy the indie goodness…

LOGAN’S RUN: LAST DAY #1 Bluewater Comics

I may lose some geek cred for admitting this, but I’ve never seen LOGAN’S RUN. I’ve always meant to check it out, but haven’t had the chance yet. Luckily, the fact that I haven’t seen the film wasn’t important since this new miniseries from Bluewater catches the reader up with the futuristic world and all that goes on with it quickly then moves into a pretty intriguing story thereafter. Writer Salamoff does a great job of tossing the reader into the action as Logan is in mid-chase of a runner, someone who decides to not go into the deep sleep once they reach adulthood. Logan’s job is to track and eliminate these runners. Of course, from the title, it’s pretty obvious that Logan will make a run of his own soon. The thing that elevates this book from good to great is the art which is reminiscent of Sean Chen’s exquisite linework. The artist does a great job of varying the panel size and shape, and conveys some pulse-pounding movement to the action sequences. All in all, I’m sure fans of the movie would love this book. It makes me want to seek out the classic film and it definitely will have me back to the stores for issue two.

GOD OF ROCK/GOD OF ROCK STRIKES BACK Space-Gun Studios Available for purchase here. By Paul T. Milligan

These comics were done in the span of 24 hours each, but you wouldn’t know it. With the way the comics industry works these days, it may do all of the so-called professionals good to pay attention to this guy. Milligan churns out two full stories that ooze fun. GOD OF ROCK never takes itself too seriously, but the book does kick serious @$$. Pan just wants to hang with his girlfriend and live the simple life, but his past as the God of Rock keeps pulling him into a life of danger and adventure. Part Tenacious D (when they were funny on HBO, not the movie), part Gods walk the earth story, and all indie, GOD OF ROCK and it’s sequel are pretty amazing reads. The fact that Milligan can come up with so much funny in a 24 hour span shows that this guy has real talent. The book will be collected in trade soon and was part of the Indie Comics Week (which can be found here).

GEEK GIRL #0 FanBabes More info found here.

Every hero has to have an origin story, this is Geek Girl’s. This book is every geek guy’s fantasy come true as a librarian-ish chickadee happens upon some glasses that grant her super powers. There’s a lot to like out this issue. Hot nerdy chicks. Pretty decent art by Sally J. Thompson. And a solid, though standard, origin story. The pacing is good here too and even though it’s hard to believe that a doll with curves like that can really be called nerdy, GEEK GIRL is a book that I’d like to see more of.


My biggest critique of the previous OGN by Josh Jenkins was that artist, Karl Slominski’s art was a bit dark for my tastes. Having read the second novel in the PLAN B series, I have to say I’m getting used to Slominski’s thick inking. In fact, it gives this story of science gone mad and the men behind it an ominous and dark feel. Jenkins seems to have an elaborate plan at play with this story; one that he’s only just begun shedding light to. This installment continues the tale of warring mad scientists. Jenkins imagination is truly admirable in his use of variations of the mad scientist archetype. This is a fun series and definitely one that is getting better with each installment in story and art.

OMNITARIUM #1 Ronin Studios

A damn fine and spooky read. I’m not sure if I know where this one is going but it’s got a man who can’t be hanged, a creepy executioner, and a turn of the century setting. J.C. Grande provides some amazing art here; very reminiscent of Tom Mandrake of SPECTRE and MARTIAN MANHUNTER fame. The moody panels of this one sets the stage for a very ominous read. Looking forward to reading more of this cool miniseries.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, reviewer and co-editor of AICN Comics for over eight years and one of the original @$$holes. Check out his comic book shorts from Cream City Comics’ MUSCLES & FIGHTS VOL.3 and MUSCLES & FRIGHTS VOL.1 on his ComicSpace page. Bug was interviewed here and here at Cream City Comics and here and here about his latest comic from Bluewater Comics, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS: THE TINGLER #1-2. Look for more comics from Bug in 2010 from Bluewater, including VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS WITCHFINDER GENERAL, ROGER CORMAN PRESENTS DEATHSPORT, and the just announced vampire miniseries NANNY & HANK (and check out Jazma Online’s new interview with Bug about NANNY & HANK here).

THE MARVELS PROJECT #5 (of 8) Marvel Comics

This series runs hot and cold for me, alternating between some damn fine reading and bland and forgettable. This issue falls into the latter category, mostly because half the issue is spent re-hashing Captain America's origin. Come on, people-- we all know the story; this should take up no more than a single page in the re-telling. Maybe that's the problem with the series in general-- the story is being spread too thin over too many chapters. It's a shame, because I'm still digging Epting's art. I'm just getting tired of spending four bucks for a sliver of narrative. -BottleImp


Just like I kind of suspected given the ending of the first issue of this wondrous series by brothers Moon and Ba, I simultaneously get what this book is trying to say and have no fucking clue what it is really trying to tell me. I hate to give away a part of this book, but since it is the central theme/plot device, we now have two deaths for Bras de Olive Domingos in just as many issues. The central theme is a little bit of a “standby” but a powerful one: Live life to its fullest. I am not exactly sure where the brothers are going with the Death Device, but the message it portrays each outing is beautifully executed in a playful and mysterious way. Execution aside, I would like to see maybe some hints towards what the bigger picture is, if there really even is one, to the way this is being told. But, even if there isn’t some grand plot point or overlaying machinations at play here, the presentation of this story alone is a joyous sight to behold. - Humphrey Lee

NATION X #2 Marvel Comics

Though I don’t really keep up with all things X outside of X-FACTOR and the occasional NEW MUTANTS issue, I couldn’t help but check this issue out mainly for the cool cover featuring Northstar, Jubilee, and Gambit. Out of the stories featured in this issue, my favorite was CB Cebulski and Jim McCann’s touching story centering on Jubilee. Though it isn’t high on action, there are some moments of tension and some real character development for our favorite little sparkler. I was unaware that Jubes was depowered in HOUSE OF M and the rift between mutants and used-to-be mutants is clearly mapped out here. Seeing some of the younger mutants discriminate against former mutants is a smart shift in the outsider theme that has been a part of the X-books since the beginning. This is a smartly written tale in a nifty book. - Ambush Bug


There's some good stuff here, as Chris Ryall spins his story of super-right-wing journalist Ed Anger and his relationship with an intelligent ape, a precognitive alien and of course, the famous Bat Boy. And Alan Robinson's art strikes a nice balance between cartoony and realistic. The sum of all the parts isn't quite gelling for me, though-- the balance of humor, drama and social satire (which can come off a little forced, as with the cameo by Brangelina) needs a little tweaking. Nevertheless, the concept of taking the NEWS stories and interweaving them is a good one, and I'm going to stick around to see where this series takes me. -BottleImp


I feel like a snail on the back of a turtle reading and liking this book. Though I dig the art by Salvadore Larroca and appreciate the direction Matt Fraction is taking this book, I can’t help but be frustrated at the snail’s pacing this book has been palsied with for what seems like months. Even a semi cool appearance by Depowered Doc Strange only serves to inch this book along towards Tony’s inevitable recovery. We all know what’s going to happen. Tony’s gonna wake up just in time for SEIGE. Just get there already…enough of this Tony walking through the dream-verse crap. - Ambush Bug

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #617 Marvel Comics

While on the overall I have actually been greatly enjoying this book since this tri-monthly incarnation, I especially enjoy it whenever one Joe Kelly gets his hand in the rotation. And this issue is the absolute most perfect example of why. There is just such a great handling of the characters here, especially the Rhino, who has been so one note pretty much every and anytime he has appeared in a Spidey comic for as long as I can remember (with his TANGLED WEB story being the only exception I can think of). Right here though, Kelly shows more depth for this character than I have ever seen. There’s a big heart in the big man that used to don the horn and Kelly draws every bit of sympathy one could to turn a “Lovable Loser” into an actual winner for once. Well, as much as you’d ever expect to see the Rhino “win” for once. This was just a great one off story that exemplifies why this book actually does warrant the multiple issues each month. There are just so many characters to work with in the world of Spider-Man, it doesn’t always have to be about the Webslinger himself, and this is a prime example of why. – Humphrey Lee

NEONOMICON Hornbook Avatar Press

Being the H.P. Lovecraft junkie that I am, I couldn't help but notice this comic on the stands. Add Alan Moore to the mix, and it was a no-brainer. I still don't know how it is that I missed Moore's THE COURTYARD when it came out, but he and artist Jacen Burrows return to that world for this sequel series. One problem: I didn't realize until I got home that this was just a preview for the NEONOMICON series, due out in... August? Fuck. I should have known that the $1.99 price tag was too good to be true. In any case, the slender nine pages of story made me mark my calendar for when the actual series debuts. And made me resolve to get my hands on a copy of THE COURTYARD. -BottleImp

BATMAN #695 DC Comics

This storyarc has surprised me. Artist Tony Daniel has always been a gifted penciler, but his current “Life After Death” storyarc running through this series has been exceptionally good. What impressed me the most is how Daniel juggles a massive cast of characters and has them bumping around and beating the snot out of each other in imaginative and new ways. This issue alone has Batman, Alfred, Robin, Catwoman, Dr. Arkham, Huntress, the new Reaper, the Falcone family, Riddler, Penguin, and the Mad Hatter. And never did the book feel crowded or a cameo unnecessary. Fun, solid action and a pretty fine mystery makes this the other Bat-book people should be talking about. - Ambush Bug


If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Garth Ennis must feel pretty goddamn flattered by how this run by Jason Aaron and Ennis’ usual cohort in crime Steve Dillon has turned out. Not that I’m meaning that as a dig or anything, far from it given this is the kind of storytelling that should be happening for Marvel’s Mob Mangler (sorry, I love alliteration), i.e. not Frankencastle. If I were to have any issue with this “mimicry” is that with this issue, Aaron somewhat devolves from his dirty and methodical approach that was more like Garth’s MAX take on the book, to the sophomoric, gross out joke for the sake of gross out joke take that made the tail end of his Marvel Knight’s run almost unreadable. While the first two issues were pitch perfect in making the arrival of the MAX Kingpin as brutal and systematic as you could ever hope, this went to far into juvenile humor and diminished what it’s accomplished so far just a tad. I still have high hopes for this run, obviously there’s two talented men who get this character involved, but if there’s going to be any further aping going on here, I hope it’s of what these guys put on page the first two issues of this series. – Humphrey Lee

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

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