@@@ AICN COMICS REVIEWS! @@@
|Issue #37||Release Date: 2/2/11||Vol.#9|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
An @$$Hole 2 in 1 review of FLASH: THE DEATH OF THE DASTARDLY ROGUES tpb
Double shot of DEADPOOL & CABLE #26
FATHOM: BLUE DESCENT #2
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #153
JACK HAMMER: POLITICAL SCIENCE #2
DC UNIVERSE ONLINE LEGENDS #1
THE ANTHOLOGY PROJECT OGN
Indie Jones presents…
THE FLASH:: THE DEATH OF THE DASTARDLY ROGUES TPBWriter: Geoff Johns
Artist: Francis Manapaul & Scott Kolins
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewers: Optimous Douche & Johnny Destructo
OPTIMOUS DOUCHE (OD): Few people can deny Johns' ability to infuse modern day storytelling into the hokey tropes of the Silver Age. The man made Wally West's FLASH relevant again a few years ago by not focusing on THE FLASH himself, but rather turning the lens on the hokiest of hokey...THE ROGUES.
Well the Rogues have returned, but this time they battle not Gen X's favorite FLASH, but the baby-boomer poster boy Barry Allen. It's a grand outing rife with time travel paradoxes, good old fashioned detectivey sleuthing and a man racing to save not only those he loves, but also the wrongly accused. I want to love this book, but I find myself stuck in a middle-aged man quagmire. Like the fat bald bastards a generation ago that bemoaned the loss of their beloved Barry after CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, I find myself lamenting the loss of Wally and perpetually nagged by the fact Iris Allen has somehow become the same age or younger than her nephew Wally. Comics acceptance allows me to roll with the fact the mystical speed force kept Barry freezer fresh, but Iris???? Talk me off the ledge Johnny, you're my only hope...
JOHNNY DESTRUCTO (JD): Well, if you're going to off yourself, I can't think of a better reason than confusing comic book continuity. And as much as I've love to watch your silly ass plummet to its doom, apparently there is an answer. Professor Zoom has implied that Iris is looking a bit younger due to hanging out with Barry and his attachment to the Speed Force. Take a look at Jay Garrick and Joan! They should be dust by now, but due to the speed force, they're still only slightly above middle age (Zero Hour didn't hurt any either). It IS a touch unnerving to have Barry and Iris illustrated to look around the same age as Wally and Linda, though. I think de-aging them this drastically is a little much and doesn't provide new readers the same amount of context for the reverence and respect that heroes like Wally have for Barry. What I love most about DC is the different generations of heroes co-existing and learning from each other, but that gets lost when the older generation looks the same as the current one.
I'm with you on Wally, though. He was my Flash growing up and Geoff Johns is doing a great job of making Barry a vital part of the DCU again, but it just seems a bit backward. Wally, the younger of the two, is raising two children while Barry is living the newlywed life with Iris. Speaking of which, what about Barry's actual children? Flash continuity is muddled at best, but what ever happened with Don and Dawn? Are we supposed to forget they exist for the sake of keeping Barry young and hip to new readers, a la May "MayDay" Parker, Spider-Man's alive, but seemingly forgotten kidnapped daughter?
At any rate, good Sir Douche, she's young because of A.) Her proximity to the living generator of the Speed Force, Barry Allen, and B.) Because it's COMICS! Now what do you think of the story itself? As a Wally fan, how do you feel about Barry being back and his place back amongst the DC heroes, now having returned from "Witness Protection"?
OD: It's one of the best set-ups for an event I have seen, the event of course being the upcoming Flashpoint. Johns simply has the uncanny ability to poke holes at the ridiculousness of the universe while still showing the utmost reverence. When the Rogues go face-to-face with their 25th century doppelgangers, little zingers about originality and lack of imagination truly give the silly little silver-age creations their due. While done before, I also enjoyed the sci-fi conundrum Johns plays with. Should Barry be under arrest for a crime he will commit? Destiny versus free will has been the foundation for philosophical debate since the Enlightenment. One of the reasons I love comics is how easily they come to answers, allowing the moral debate to be based in the soundest of made-up comic book fiction fact.
As for Barry's return I'm middle of the road. I always admired the chutzpah of leaving him down and out for twenty years, but he is a fond remembrance of a time gone by. I loved the interchanges between him and his contemporaries like Hal Jordan. Yet, a part of me pines for the fact my age-equivalents like Raynor and West simply don't have the staying power of the generation prior.
JD: Staying Power, Smaying Shmower. Wally West had TONS more serious stories told about him then Barry, wouldn't you say? Barry was a product of silly Silver Age story-telling. He has returned because of nostalgia, plain and simple. He was uptight and square back then and bringing him back doesn't really serve any purpose, other than shaking things up. Think about it. This story, The Death of the Dastardly Rogues, is just as easily a Wally West story. Instead of Barry digging through a cold case, TV reporter Linda Park goes digging through a cold case. The rest stays the same and we have a Wally West Flash story.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this story a good deal, and I'm really into watching Barry get back to his life, and can't wait to see where this is all headed, but I don't believe that Barry has more staying power than Wally. Sadly, they wrote him into a corner by giving him annoying children, and now he feels almost as old as his much older uncle Barry.
As for the story, it smacks of the Tom Cruise film Minority Report, in that criminals are caught and sentenced before they have even committed said crime. It makes for a fantastic story line for a time-travel peppered book like The Flash, and works even better, as you've said, being that it paves the way for the upcoming wallet-raper FlashPoint. There was a great deal of continuity at work here, not only dealing with the Flash's return, but also tying into the events of Brightest Day and the return of the previously dead Captain Boomerang. Johns has to juggle quite a bit of stuff here and does so beautifully. Some of it is a little heavy-handed, though. Yes, we get it: Iris likes coffee. A lot. She's basically drinking liquid speed all the time to keep up with her fleet-footed hubby. By the way, are there jobs in the DC Universe for female love interests that DON'T involve reporting on the news in some fashion or another? Just sayin'.
OD: Sorry, I'm going to play counter-douche to your Barry argument. It seems a little bit more than smoke and Mirror Masters at play here. Cool cynicism has become the new male voice in comics; Barry represents something pure. I believe when all of this White Light hullabaloo reaches the end of the tunnel, we're going to see an overarching message that maybe hope isn't just for the painfully delusional (see...cynicism).
OK artsy one, what were your thoughts on the two picture painters contributing to this collected tome? My unlearned eye loved Manapaul's use of panels; very clever moment when Flash walks on the blades of the falling helicopter, the man truly made each page...move. Also, special props on colors, the whole book glowed a deetheed...very moody and trippy. Now, my only gripe. I wish Kolins would stop drawing rain...things don't look wet...they look like they need a shave.
JD: I love what you're saying about Barry's purity and now that you've mentioned it, I totally agree, and I really dug what Johns did with Barry becoming a Blue Lantern temporarily. I just have one last point to make about Wally. I think what made Wally so special to me as a character was reading about him starting off as a selfish, wealthy Flash, and watching him grow into a responsible adult that inspires people in his own way. It was a great character arch to see him struggle with living in Barry's shadow, to eventually filling his boots and becoming his own man. Is it possible for such a character arc to exist for Barry, now that he's back? He's always been a one-note character with nowhere to go. I want to see Geoff Johns do something more 3-dimensional with Barry moving forward, but he's already so perfect, how is he supposed to grow? That's a question I hope Johns will answer with his stories moving forward.
OD: Man out of place and time I imagine. Almost a Steve Rogers effect. How does someone so good and pure exist out of Utah and the Church of Latter Day Saints? We shall see...
JD: As for the art, I was VERY skeptical about Francis Manapul working on The Flash. I wasn't convinced that his style would bring the right kinetic frenzy that a book about speed would need, but after pouring over his first 6 issues, I am sold. His watercolor-esque ink washes are beautiful and his compositions are energetic without being confusing. I was very disappointed to see Scott Kolins take over with the last two issues, and I'm glad that Manapul will be back starting next issue, with The Road To Flashpoint. Kolins is talented but he just isn't for me. He has such a heavy hand, some of his work looks like it's drawn with a Sharpie. Even issues 7 and 8, which were maybe adjusted to match Manapul's style was very dark and heavy with a lot of pencil-grain to fill in for Manapul's ink-washes. I'll be very glad to see him return in issue 9.
OD: Also a special shout out to Darwyn Cooke's work in the cover gallery back-up. Where have you been sir, please let me buy more of your work.
JD: Darwyn Cooke is absolutely one of my top 5 comic artists currently working. His alternate cover for issue 7 would have made my cover of the year if it wasn't a remake of a silver age cover.
Are you going to continue with this series now that you've read the hardcover? Are you looking forward to Flashpoint?
OD: I owe this book a lot actually...I abhor Previews, so I had no idea when Flashpoint was hitting and from the extended trailer in the back of this book it looks like Johns is about to go Blackest Night on all the Flash's asses. Or dare I say...Sinestro Corps war.
JD: Well considering what Johns has done for the GL-iverse, and my love of both those story-lines, I'd say that's something to look forward to!
Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2011 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.
JD can be found hosting the PopTards Podcast, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating for a living, and Booking his Face off over here.
A Double Shot of
CABLE & DEADPOOL #26
DEADPOOL & CABLE #26Writer: Duayne Swierczynski
Art: Leonardo Fernandez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
A letter to Deadpool by KletusCasady
You’re getting pretty popular these days huh? You have what, about 4ish ongoing series right now, a slew of one shots and specials, you’re on X-Force…you’d think Marvel was trying to get you well known, as if they have some sort of media (possibly a movie) in the works for you. I really haven’t seen this kind of push since well…umm….X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE WEAPON X THE BEST THERE IS, IS LOGAN AND HE IS AN X-MAN CHAPTER 1 movie that came out. Oh shit you were in that?!?! Really wait you weren’t the guy with the blade arms and laser eyes with your mouth shown shut were you?!? Didn’t know you could…umm…do all that…but nonetheless, you’re big star now guy! I was one of the first reviewers (probably not true) to praise your triumphant return helmed by Daniel Way and he really wrote you great, it was funny, the art was good, I was into it. Now though, I think I need a little more from you…NO, not a new comic series…God no. I just need…well…I know you’re funny, I know you don’t operate just within the pages of the comic and yeah I know that’s why folks like you…but I just need a little more out of you. I hate to sound like Megan Fox’s acting coach but you’re just not giving me enough…dimension (or life). While I do love the quirkiness you display really I do, I’m just starting to think there might be more to you than off the wall pop culture references and hallucinations….or is there?!?
Ok that was harsh buddy, I apologize I just want to find a writer out there that not only gets the funny right but also peels back the layers of your melted Mr. Potato head face and shows us something more. And I think I found one: Duane Swierczynski. He not only knows how to feed your rabid fans with jokes that make even Kletus laugh out loud (not an easy thing to do with printed jokes) but by the end of an issue, we learn that while you are crazy as fuck, there’s a heart somewhere in that finely tuned mutilated body of yours that has feelings like the rest of us…you fricken pansy! Take for instance your newest comic: a buddy of yours Nate Summers died while fighting Bastion and his evil cohorts and even though you guys fought, he borderline hated you, this issue shows us something interesting…the fact that you actually care. This issue starts off with you giving a eulogy at your old pal Cable’s “funeral” and the plans you have to honor his life. This issue is good for folks that really didn’t know about much you and Cable’s relationship (like me). It takes readers though the life and times of Cable & Deadpool and shows the reader where all these wild ideas for a memorial party are coming from and how they make sense in your twisted mind. My personal favorite was the amusement park with the Apocalypse rollercoaster or the shooting gallery equipped with the gigantic Marvel vs Capcom 90s style Liefeld sized weapons Cable is used to carrying around. The jokes were on point and the art is great. Leonardo Fernandez is really really good with facial expressions to the point where even your in-mask emotions come through just as well as everyone else’s in the book. Then I got to the end and wondered…did any of this actually happen or was it just some wild hallucination…didn’t matter, it was good either way.
What I’m saying is that while I love the stuff in your main DEADPOOL title, I may just need a little more than what’s being given to me right now and I think this Swieczynski guy may be the right fit. He’s funny, his stories about you have heart, and there’s a slightly different angle that he seems to be approaching writing you from and I gotta tell you Wade, I like it. I like the art too, it’s a little less detailed than Barberi or Medina but like I said earlier the expressions are good (funny too) and the action scenes ain’t half bad either. So really what I’m saying is I like you man but if you keep getting over saturated, then you will become stagnant and your movie will suck…well…I can’t say that but really let’s get it down to one title and let’s get some new blood writing you for God sakes. My vote is the creative team on this issue. Both of them know how to handle you in ways that I never knew you could be handled. With this team there’s emotion, comedy, great art and not your run of the mill silly Deadpool comic…although it is silly and has you in it. Ok Dammit, I loved Daniel Way’s run on Deadpool but I think its time to freshen up, and come back out wearing something a little more comfortable and different but familiar and funny with good art and guns too…and stuff and god and the bible.
THANK YOU, GOODNIGHT!
DEADPOOL & CABLE #26Writer: Duayne Swierczynski
Art: Leonardo Fernandez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
DEADPOOL & CABLE, despite some flaws, was a hugely entertaining series. Nicieza really got the characters, and was able to go a lot of interesting places with them. With Cable's death last year, there really hasn't been any reference to it by Deadpool regarding the demise of his former costar. This issue serves as a sort of epilogue to their relationship and looks to continue on with one of the bigger subplots from the series. While it does an amazing job with that, the take on Deadpool and the look of him is surprisingly well done and, despite a lot of typical Deadpool jokes, at times somber.
Writing: (3/5) Swierczynski's take on Deadpool falls fairly in line with most other versions of the character, holding true to the over the top violence and references. But when it moves to quiet Deadpool, the writer does it well. Deadpool standing at Cables's grave was surprisingly touching, as he refuses to leave the funeral. He tries to tell a joke, but instead just continues to drink whiskey. It's a quiet moment, but a good one. The story kicks in proper after that though, and it's here where it doesn't work so well. Returning to Rumekistan, a nation freed and ruled by Cable, is a good idea. But they play with it too much. A twist that makes no sense is here and that it to make no sense throughout the issue. Why the ruler of a nation that split off with Rumekistan doesn't have the faintest idea who Cable is…it’s a bit confusing. And the way it conflicts with continuity is a bit annoying, referring to Cable and Deadpool as being years and years ago. While it may not be recent events, it's still of the post NEW X-MEN canon, and less than five years old. But for all the problems there, the characterization of Deadpool is able to make up for it. The moment where Deadpool honors Cable is worth a laugh, but it's also a very sweet moment. And the final page reminds me why I miss that comic; it did an amazing job of looking at Wade Wilson in a new way.
Art: (3/5) Uneventful art wise, the issue doesn't really have any huge flaws. It just feels like something is missing. Fernandez does a good job and there are some shots (such as the opening page) that really work. But others, such as the Rumekistan president, don't convey well. It is a fun issue though. It's just that he's not up to snuff with the other artists that have worked on DEADPOOL & CABLE.
Best Moment: The first page, and even admittedly as silly as Deadpool’s way of remembering Cable is, it's still a very sweet gesture.
Worst Moment: Rumekistan, and everything about it. A return to it is a great idea, but this one is just too bait and switch.
Overall: (3/5) A solid issue, but some flaws and successes.
CYCLOPS #3Writer: Matz
Artist: Luc Jacamon
What is the best way to spend Super Bowl Sunday? By reading comics, of course! I spent the day before and after the game making my way through the first three issues of Archaia’s CYCLOPS. Now even though I think it is failed marketing to name your comic after another famous comic character that had their own series, CYCLOPS has no similarities to the X-Man. The comic was originally published in French, but one could only really tell that it is a foreign book by seeing on the title page that the work was translated. The only way to find out it is from France is by going on to Archaia’s website. Other than that, the book does not have a distinctly European feel to it.
Since neither the first two issues of CYCLOPS were extensively covered for the site, let me give you a synopsis of these books. Part one of CYCLOPS, THE RECRUIT, tells the tale of Doug Pistoia. He is a man that has succeeded at all that he has tried, but is currently struggling to find work in the year 2054. Finally he is hired by Multicorps Security, Inc. and thanks to a new law passed by the UN, Pistoia is sent into tumultuous global regions for “peacekeeping” missions. Pistoia is what some call a Cyclop, due to the video camera in his and other “mercenaries” helmets that transmit the battles directly to news feeds around the world.
Come issue #3, THE HERO, Pistoia begins to question the motives of his employers and the use of the media in his missions. He has become more celebrity than hero, a reality star in his own Truman Show if you will. For Pistoia does not know how deeply the conspiracies run through the UN, private security companies, and news outlets. Now, he’s about to find out.
CYCLOPS reminds (slightly) of the graphic novel, THE RECONCILERS, where corporate physical battles take place and are watched by viewers. Both also have big blocks of dialogue, but CYCLOPS less so.
Concept-wise, CYCLOPS brings up some interesting points about the direction we are heading. War clips are huge fodder for the news and in the CYCLOPS world they come in real-time. In my government class, we have been discussing the power of corporations in lobbying and affecting political policies. This comic runs with that idea. But sometimes I do feel like I’m being hit over the head with it. The corruption seems to have gone too far and the public does not seem to be embroiled in enough unrest. If there had been a big war that had changed the state of the globe, then I could understand fear allowing companies to take over, but there seems to be no mention of one massive event that would do so.
All of the issues start off with a little synopsis of what is to come. After feeling that issues #1 & #2 contained too much information, bordering on being spoilers, I did not read the summary at the beginning of issue #3. I read it afterwards and found it not to be as bad as the others, but personally would prefer a summary of past issues instead of foreshadowing.
The artwork reminds me of another Archaia comic, LUCID. I feel that it more closely resembles the work of artist Anna Wiezczyk than the classic look of most DC or Marvel books. This, however, may be the European influence at play but as I have not read any foreign comics besides some mangas, I cannot say for sure.
My favorite part of the series so far is how much is packed into each issue. Running about thirty pages, there is plenty of action and intrigue scattered throughout. But the pacing between the books seems a little slow. I expected Pistoia to start questioning his purpose a whole lot sooner, but I’m glad to see him finally on that path. Story and character-wise there are many predictable elements. Consequently, by having a slower pace and drawing things out only to eventually reach the inevitable, just seems like a waste of time. The dialogue can be a bit overdone, especially when the suits are talking. I found myself scanning more than intently reading and still able to get the gist of what was being said. As for the words themselves, nothing stood out in either a great or bad way.
I am interested in seeing how and when Pistoia uncovers his employer’s dirty secrets and what trouble it gets him in. Even more intriguing is what part the character of Anderson, a rogue soldier but buddy of Pistoia, will play in this whole scenario. He’s probably my favorite character and I hope to see him used in an integral role in bringing down the corruption in our future world.
Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a film student at Chapman University. Lyz’s love for comics stems from an internship at Dark Horse Entertainment as a freshman, which may explain why some of her favorite comic book writers are Gerard Way and Steve Niles. You can find her on Facebook, but only if you follow her band: Castle Town Convicts (possibly a Zelda reference?).
FATHOM: BLUE DESCENT #2Writer: David Schwartz
Art: Alex Sanchez
Publisher: Aspen Comics
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty
The FATHOM series is back with BLUE DESCENT, another chapter in the ongoing saga of Aspen Mathews. Aspen is a member of the BLUE, a race of underwater beings who struggle to co-exist with the BLACK, their mysterious deep sea counterparts. Yes, BLACK and BLUE, which right now pretty much has me craving a pint of half-Guinness/half-Blue Moon. Since I’m not allowed to drink after that last incident (I really thought “he” was a “she”), I’m instead going to salivate over the artwork of Alex Sanchez because it really is something to behold.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise to ASPEN fans as they’ve been killing it for the past couple of years with books that are consistently fresh and inspiring. What impresses me the most about BLUE DESCENT is that issue #2 takes place entirely underwater. That begs the question, “Well how fantastic can art be if it’s all taking place within the context of one palette?” Well, see for yourself, and be prepared to get an introduction to shades of blue you probably didn’t even know existed. In fact, I had to go back a re-read the entire issue because I spent the first run just walking around with my jaw agape.
I know it sounds like I’m hemorrhaging praise but let’s face it: There’s a lot of dreck in our industry so when the all-stars come out and put on a show we should be lining up to applaud them. Thanks Alex! The good news is he doesn’t leave David Schwartz in the dust, which so often happens with gifted artists. I’ve seen books that were nothing more than a clothesline to hang pin-ups from so the “hot artist” at that particular studio had a place to show off. New readers may want to execute due diligence coming in dry because there’s a lot to absorb underwater. Schwartz does a good job in the first-person of keeping you in the loop without slowing down the action but the twists and turns will probably pack more punch if the reader goes in with a general understanding of who the major players are. If you don’t care and just want to window shop some of the hawtness, well, that works too. Sanchez seems to have all the bases covered.
I can’t get too worked up over the storyline because it’s not exactly breaking new ground. BLUE DESCENT #2 has the BLUE exacting revenge on the BLACK, who at one time were worshipped as Gods but recently have been doing some not-so-nice things to their minions. That sends one BLUE man group on the hunt and well, you pretty much have the 2010 CLASH OF THE TITANS remake -- only in this case it’s competently written and produced. The bottom line is that BLUE DESCENT delivers. Good writing, sensational artwork and high production values make this another must-buy for even the most selective reader. Do yourself a favor and check this one out.
Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at MMaMania.com here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #153Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Sara Pichelli, David Lafuente, Lan Medina & Ed Tadeo
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo
When I first caught wind of the upcoming "Death of Spider-Man", I grimaced. The event from a couple years ago "The Other" popped into my brainmeat, which isn't a Spider-Man story I like to recall all that often. Then I realized it was the death of Ultimate Spidey and I was pretty sure it wasn't going to actually involve any real deaths. I figured it would be a "Peter Parker would hang up his Spider-duds and give up being a super-hero for a couple issues until he realized how much he's needed" type of story. Or maybe the opposite. It's difficult to think of characters in the Ultimate Marvel U who DON'T know that Spidey is Peter Parker, and maybe killing off the Peter Parker persona would spray a healthy coating of Fabreze on the character. But then the Ed McGuinness cover threw me for a loop. You know, the one that shows Spider-Man slumped over in front of a grave that reads "Parker". That got me to thinking: wouldn't that be something? ACTUALLY killing off Peter Parker?
There is one thing that I love about the Ultimate Universe, and that's the idea of change. Things started off well enough, back in 2000, when the Ult. U was birthed into existence, but then things got kind of quiet. However, since the Ultimatum storyline, it's been looking like change is par for the course again! This baby universe has been keeping me on my toes, and it's a great feeling. Over in Ultimate Doom, Ben Grimm is different, and even Reed Richards is different. Is it possible that the untouchable Peter Parker is on the chopping block as well? As much as I love Bendis' take on ole Puny Parker, I would much rather read something new and exciting than rehashing the same old stories, and I'm sure Bendis feels the same way.
With this issue, I'm starting to wonder if death is indeed on the horizon for our young hero. There is something very dangerous and unpredictable possibly making its way into the hands of bad, bad people. Believe it or not, we might have been better off when Wilson Fisk was the Kingpin. At least he respected and feared that which is now out in the open. This thing seems to have Cosmic Cube or Infinity Gauntlet power levels and I wouldn't be surprised if Pete doesn't make it to the end of this storyline intact. I almost hope he doesn't. Let's keep the kid dead if that's in the cards for him. Why not just have a series based on Pete's female clone? That would be the tits, I say. But, of course, it IS Spider-Man, Marvels top-tier character and money maker, so the odds are in the favor of those who fear change.
This issue is more of the same from Bendis and Co., and that's a compliment. Witty back-n-forths, great art, great writing, suspense, etc. This book is consistently awesome. Sara Pichelli is really someone to keep an eye on, her work is amazing, and I look forward to seeing more of it soon! This is a great place to get back into the Ultimate Universe if you've been away. And Bender from Futurama makes an appearance. What else do you need?
JACK HAMMER: POLITICAL SCIENCE #2 (of 4)Writer: Brandon Barrows
Published by: Reasonably Priced Comics
Reviewed by: BottleImp
You know how every once in a while a comic book premieres that is so different from everything else on the stands, so fresh and original, it brings a level of joy and excitement to the reading of it that can only be described as a pinnacle of graphic entertainment… and then every subsequent issue of the series fails miserably in its quest to live up to that glorious promise of that wonderful first-encounter experience? And you continue buying issue after issue in ever-shrinking hope that somehow, someday, the comic will fulfill that promise? But when all is said and done, the pleasure that you got from that first issue was merely the cheap thrill of seeing something new, and when that sheen wears off, all that’s left is another rapidly-staling comic to join the ranks of the same-old, same-old that already clutter the shelves? Oh, I’ve suffered this bitter experience many, many times, my friends.
Happily, this is NOT the case with the second issue of JACK HAMMER.
Both writer Barrows and artist Ionic ably avoid the pitfalls of mediocrity and deliver a continuation of their private eye/superhero mashup that not only equals the excellence of issue #1, but also surpasses it. Barrows evokes the noir moodiness of Mickey Spillane as his hero finds his way through all of the classic elements of the genre—the tough-as-nails private dick, the mysterious death of the wealthy man, the wormy gangland squealer, the brainless hired muscle, the trusty cabbie, the damsel in distress, and above all, the faceless mastermind who’s pulling all the strings. Incorporating all of these elements in one story could easily lead to cliché, and from there it’s a slippery slope that results in the storyline denigrating into parody, but Barrows never falls into that trap. While his characters and situations certainly fit the mold of the Dashiel Hammett detective yarn, Barrows injects a vibrancy into the dialogue and action that adds liveliness and dimension to what could have easily been cookie-cutter mannequins. Action and intrigue are effortlessly balanced with characterization and humor, giving JACK HAMMER a sense of fresh spontaneity that’s seemingly harder and harder to find these days.
The visuals are perfectly in tune with the script’s energy, with Ionic’s dynamic page compositions and bold, angular drawing style complementing the action of the story. I was impressed with the artwork on the first issue, but the pages are even more successful here—a slight nitpick that I had with the colors on #1 was that they tended to be bright to the point of garishness, working well for some pages, but becoming overkill for others. In this issue Ionic has toned down his palette to a slightly more naturalistic range of hues, and by doing so has added a grounded sense of reality to the story, while enhancing the mood of the settings through his uses of the limited color designs. It’s always a pleasure to see an artist improve in his craft, and extraordinary to see such a leap over the span of a single issue.
If I have one nitpick (and because I’m a picky, picky bastard, there’s always going to be at least one) it’s that while JACK HAMMER is a blend of the detective story and the comic book superhero, the balance is an uneven one that clearly favors the private eye elements. Jack’s world is peopled with beings with super powers, that much has been established. But so far we’ve seen very little of them aside from some super-powered flunkies and Jack himself. I’d like to see a little more of the traditional comic elements side-by-side with the mystery and detective themes; not only would this even out the balance between the two, it also would help to add more layers and depth to the series’ world and make it that much more engrossing for the reader.
Minor quibble aside, JACK HAMMER is still a fantastic comic, a series which is right at the top of my “must-read” list along with books by veteran comic creators from the big publishing companies. If you haven’t checked out this series yet, I urge you to do so—if for no other reason than to see amazing work by a creative team that has accomplished what is increasingly rare in this business: exceeding this jaded reader’s expectations.
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 here. He’s given up comics more times than he can remember. But every time he thinks he's out, they pull him back in.
DC UNIVERSE ONLINE LEGENDS #1Writers: Marv Wolfman & Tony Bedard
Artists: Howard Porter, Livesay, Adriana Melo & Norman Lee
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
The only thing I hated about DC UNIVERSE ONLINE LEGENDS was that I had to stop playing “DC Universe Online” to read and review it.
After the launch of the game, I was thoroughly assed up over the fact every review was focusing on the mechanics of the game and completely ignoring the content. So a few weeks ago I wrote a review as both a fan of MMORPGS, but more importantly comics.
Because the stories are what set this game apart. Yes, Team Sony did some very nice things with the mechanics to exponentially liven up the playing experience since the days of “Everquest” and “Star Wars Galaxies.” Some bemoan they made it too twitchy and consoley and to them I say World of Warcraft is still up and running. Sorry I digress…
What makes DC Universe Online so different from all past MMO’s is the chromosome Team Lee contributed to this Frankenstein Monster of time sucking. I’m no longer leveling for the sake of leveling, I’m leveling to unleash more stories and deepen my relationship with this fantasticly Elseworldish rabbit hole. I’ll be honest, my future with MMO’s is forever tainted, I simply can’t go back to yet another Tolkein rip-off when I can choose the world my imagination has been bringing to life since my childhood.
Well for those of you that are too poor, too proud, or too busy to invest time into the MMO, DC UNIVERSE ONLINE LEGENDS is a way to join the adventure for the “Hold the Line at $2.99” price (cool, when you announced it in the PR release guys, but branding it on the cover…might be gloating).
And this is a story that should not be ignored. It’s a great Sci-Fi premise that has a feeling of earth in a true Crisis…
shit…crisis. Perhaps I was more invested in the pages because of the multitude of hours I’ve now spent jacked into the matrix (Ding, level 25), but I truly believe the game blossomed from a fan-fucking-tastic seed.Open with Lex Luthor lunging a Kryponite lance into Superman’s heart amidst the backdrop of a decimated Metropolis. Before anyone bemoans “Spoiler Douche” in the talkbacks, you all have seen the game’s opening sequence on YouTube right? If not, it’s a crime against your soul. Go watch it now…OK back?
So the book basically runs like the cinematic. Lex sells out the world to get Brainiac to help him pine-box Superman…Brainiac double-crosses Lex…ooops, that’s where we end the similarities between the book and the game. What I loved about the comic is that it took a step back to answer a question that has perplexed me since I first logged-on:How could Lex be so fuck all stupid to trust Brainiac in the first place?
And the answer is actually quite pitch-perfect given both Luthor and Brainiac’s enormous egos…the enemy of my enemy and what not.
The comic also veers sharply from the game set-up to continue the battle for Earth with existing DC characters as opposed to empowering asshats like Optimous Doosh on the New Frontier server (Ding 26). Although I will say, a renaissance of new heroes might be a fun diversion for the DC universe. And could provide a nice little contest leveraging the Intertubal social facebooks to help boost comic revenue from the new MMO fanbase…just sayin.
The interior art runs from exceptional (opening pages) to sadly marginal (hey kids, did you know Power Girl and Black Canary were identical twin sisters). I will say though the cover was audibly crackling at me…a damn fine poster it would make.
Again, game aside this is a fun Elseworlds story and I’m in for the long haul. Frankly, I miss the living hell out of some warped fucked-up parallel dimensional goodness (Oh, Warren Ellis, won’t you please do something with Green Lantern). A world where Superman is truly dead and Lex Luthor is our champion…yippee…no, seriously. So if you want action from panel 1 and some sharp dialogue (it’s a precious moment indeed when Brainiac hands Luthor his arrogance in a bionic shit sandwhich), then you all should “get behind this $2.99.” See…too much.
THE ANTHOLOGY PROJECT OGNThe Talent: Lots o’ Folks
The Editors of the Talent: Joy Ang & Nick Thornborrow
Publisher: The Anthology Project
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee
As much as I love anthologies, especially good ones like THE ANTHOLOGY PROJECT here is, I always find them kind of hard give a lot content for because there’s just so many stories to cover if you try and break them down and so many art styles and on and on and on. There just is not enough room to give everyone their own individual attention, but that’s why the Internet exists. Go, research, and sample to go with this review. So, that kind of rambly lead in aside, this will be a review about brass tacks. And the brassiest of tacks about this book is that it is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous from inside and out, with great quality within and a stunning design on the outside.
What I dig on anthologies is just the burst of creativity you get in them; how for a handful or a dozen pages you just get a creator or two telling a story they want to, something emotional or comical or anything in between, and having a blast with it. I tend to steer clear of the thematic ones for that reason, I think they tend to defeat the purpose and limit the ideas of those involved. So what I really like about this book is that it does run a gamut of genres and themes and so on. There’s an adventure story or two, some Sci-Fi tales with or without comical twists, a goddamned Unicorn, a couple tales that are in the vein of children’s tales and it keeps going for a pretty decent heft of pages.
Most of the material within is of the uplifting sort, which is preferred for myself because I kind of like mostly highs with the occasional somber hit in these types of books. And the gamut of art styles and themes played with them is as varied as can be going from story to story. THE ANTHOLOGY PROJECT really is just a great compilation, and I have read a bunch of them from FLIGHT to COMIC BOOK TATTOO to POPGUN and on, and it hangs with any of them, and I would even say has a one up on most (and this is one of the things I always liked about FLIGHT) is that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. I like to get a nice blitz of creative talent, sure, but one can only take 400 pages of anything, which is what some of these things tend to weigh in. TAP gets in, gives you 15 stories over 236 pages. I like to get my content and look forward to another volume of it than see one big tome punch itself out.
Speaking of that other tome, well, that’s kind of the rub of this review. I really wanted to give this project some attention for its quality and the task it was to undertake as it was brought to my notice as it made its way to my hands. Consider this a ringing endorsement of volumes to come between the talent assembled, the creativity within, and the gorgeous package it is for when that next compilation makes itself known. If you like seeing what creative people can do when they are given an outlet, well, here’s a fine place to start.
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a Blogger Account where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.
Hey indie fiends, Ambush Bug here with another trio of comic books from the fringe. If you’re bored from the same old mainstream hype and repetition, here’s the place to look for something fresh and new from some of tomorrow’s stars in comics. Enjoy!
MISERY CITY #1
MISERY CITY is a gritty noir tale of a down on his luck gumshoe in a city full of monsters, ghosts, and demons. Although sometimes the inner monologue captions could be a bit thick and wordy, I liked the voice creators Vassilis Gogtzilas and K.I. Zachopoulos give Max (our detective). Like many dicks in the past, this one leads with his gun and his fists, yet appears to have a soft spot for the local bartender who just wants him to find her missing boyfriend. Sure the story’s been told before, but I’m pretty sure this type of tale didn’t have an evil clown demon and a giant skeleton in it until now. MISERY CITY has fun with a lot of detective fiction clichés and fills the pages with shadowy sketches doing even shadowier and sketchier things.
OMEGA COMICS PRESENTS #3
Pop! Goes the Icon
OMEGA COMICS PRESENTS continues to be a powerful anthology featuring some surprisingly talented folks you’ve more than likely never heard of…yet. “One of Us” by Russell Lissau & John Bivens is a gritty cop drama that you may have found in Rucka & Brubakers GOTHAM CENTRAL back in the day about a murdered cop and the lengths his fellow officers would go to find his killer. “OMEGA” continues the story of a secret super-powered government squad formed to take on terrorists after 9-11 that’s as exciting as any mainstream comic. That one’s by PJ Perez. Finally, my favorite of the issue is “The Hero’s Journey” which is a well crafted shot as a driver and a hitchhiker talk about heroes and villains. Alex De-Gruchy, Michael Montenat & Juan Agustin Grassi are all top notch in this little ditty that reads as powerful as some four part arcs in just a few pages. All in all, OMEGA COMICS PRESENTS continues to impress with each issue.<--INSERT TEXT ABOVE-->
LA BRUJERIA #1
Geek In the City
Not sure if I understand Le Brujeria’s powers, but I think I like it. This is the story of a down and out girl looking for a job and finding out she has the power to channel an ancient warrior god. I think. There are gnomes and banshees and werewolves galore in this mash-up of misunderstood heroes and bizarre mythical threats. You jump right into the action with this one, which is somewhat jarring given that this is a new character and a number one issue. I can appreciate that creator Aaron Duran doesn’t feel the need to explain everything in issue number one. The issue definitely left me asking questions and wanting more. Plus artist James Sinclair who started out providing the coloring for Dark Horse and DC comics, really shows talent here as the lead artist. All in all, LA BRUJERIA is definitely something I want to read more of.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the names to buy)!
MUSCLES & FIGHTS VOL.3 & MUSCLES & FRIGHTS VOL.1.
VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS: THE TINGLER #1 and #2(interview, interview, preview, & review).
VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS #20 WITCHFINDER GENERAL(preview, review)
NANNY & HANK miniseries: #1, #2, #3, and #4 (interview, interview, interview, preview, & review, review, in stores now!)
Zenescope’s WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010
THE DEATHSPORT GAMES miniseries: #1, #2, #3, and #4 (review, in stores now!)
WEIRD WORLDS #1-2
This miniseries is turning out to be surprisingly good. Usually writers these days don’t know how to do the 10 page short format, but then again this is an exceptional bunch of talent gathered for this miniseries. I for one have never been a fan of Lobo’s solo adventures (though I love his interactions with Vril Dox and the rest of LEGION), but writer Kevin Van Hook and artist Jerry Ordway are doing him justice in the first two issues by focusing on a slugfest (something Lobo does well), but not forgetting that not only is the Main Man one mean bastich, he’s also a crafty one as well. Aaron Lopresti’s Garbageman may be a bit too reminiscent of Swamp Thing/Man-Thing, but I like the character design and the creative ways his powers have been used here. This middle story tends to get too wordy too often, but other than that, it’s an interesting (albeit not too original) and well drawn story. Finally, Kevin Macguire does some of the best work I’ve read from him in years with his plucky space girl with an attitude Tanga. I like her “been there done that” attitude. When a giant busts into a bar she’s frequenting and says “I’m lookin’ for someone.”, she automatically assumes it’s her (but it isn’t, how embarrassing). Macguire injects intergalactic awesomeness into a humorous tale, reminiscent of the JLI’s heyday. Macguire’s art is fantastic here as well ending each issue of WEIRD WORLDS on a gold note. Great miniseries so far! - Bug
CROSSED: FAMILY VALUES #7
David Lapham’s version of Garth Ennis’ end of the world saga out grossed the first CROSSED miniseries by leaps and bounds. Just when you thought it couldn’t get more depraved, it did. This issue is equally depraved, but I fear Lapham has hit a wall with this last issue trying to out do himself. The gross-out feeling that wafted through this whole series kind of cleared away in this last issue. Maybe Lapham has reached the pinnacle of gross. I don’t know. But this series feels as if it ran out of steam an issue too early. It was great to see how low Lapham would go, but I think he bottomed out early here. Nice unexpected upbeat ending and a great series, but it feels like all of the shocks were used by the end of issue 6 and issue 7 was running on fumes. - Bug
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #653
“Big Time” is impressing the hell out of me. By far, it’s the best AMAZING SPIDER-MAN I’ve read since the “One More Day / Brand New Day” thing all started. The new status quo is definitely something fresh and exciting and full of story potential for years. Please, please, please, Joey Q. Just stay away from Spider-Man and let Dan Slott do his thing. For the first time in ages, I give a shit about Peter Parker again. Don’t square-peg/round-hole your way into the story again and let this new status quo evolve and grow for a while. I could get used to Pete’s new job as a scientist, his new supporting cast…hell, even his new girlfriend (who I still think is a bore), is kind of growing on me. Stefano Caselli does a great job with the Spider-Slayer, the Scorpion, and the rest of the Slayers here, making them teched out beef-heads. I love it that Slott isn’t writing the Scorpion as a dumbass too. All-around on target web-slinging is going lately with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN! - Bug
KATO: ORIGINS #6
Those of you who dug THE GREEN HORNET film might want to check out the comic book exploits of the film’s coolest character Kato. This is a sort of LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT type series as Kato looks back on past adventures that helped shape him into the martial artist partner to the Green Hornet. This issue, titled “All That Jazz” is especially good in that it twists when you think its going to turn, bobs instead of weaves, and flips the script numerous times in one single issue. Delving into Kato’s appreciation of jazz and using it as a metaphor to the fluidity of martial arts, writer Jai Nitz does a really great job making this a full and well structured single issue story. The art by Colton Worley is equally fantastic, reminiscent of Cully Hamner in that his characters have a solidity to them and a dynamic sense of action. This is a fun-filled issue with lots of action, kung fu, and good writing. - Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G