@@@ AICN COMICS REVIEWS! @@@
|Issue #41||Release Date: 3/2/11||Vol.#9|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #155
Advance Review: DELERIUM’S PARTY: A LITTLE ENDLESS STORYBOOK OGN
Advance Review: VENOM #1
NEXT MEN #4
POWERS V3 #7
SECRET SIX #31
ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA #3
KILL SHAKESPEARE #9
Indie Jones presents MORAL GEOMETRY #1 & 2
Advance Review! In stores today!
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #155 (DEATH OF SPIDER-MAN PRELUDE)Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Samnee
Publisher: Ultimate Marvel
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo
VERY MILD SPOILERS:
If I wasn't worried for Peter's safety BEFORE, I certainly am after reading THIS issue! There are events within stories that make you nervous for any particular character, like obvious evil, certain impending doom, the usual. And then there are things that seasoned readers get nervous about from outside of the story. I would be nervous for Spider-Man if this issue ended with the entire villain-set of the Ultimate Marvel Universe showing up at the end, ready to take out poor Peter. But, seriously, how many times has he overcome ridiculous odds to come out a winner? No, this ending is far more sinister in its complete lack of sinis...ter...ness? In fact, things have never been as good for Peter as they are in this issue. This issue is pure fantasy fulfillment through and through. I'm not sure if people would get mad at me for revealing the complete joy that is this issue, hence the spoiler-warning.
I've always been a big fan of the Ultimate Universe (see my Thank You to the Ultimate U, if you don't believe me: http://www.poptardsgo.com/?p=1792), but the short of it is that lately this particular universe is starting to feel fresh and dangerous again. Anything can and will happen! I've been quietly (or not-so-quietly) hoping for the actual DEATH of Spider-Man. It's not that I don't LOVE him, god knows he's my favorite character ever, but it's my love for lasting change that really drives this death-wish. I don't really expect Marvel to permanently murder their top character, but wouldn't it be exciting if Peter's female clone was the new main character? For GOOD? I realize the Marvel Universe proper tried it over a decade ago, but they didn't have the stones to stick with it (also the story was just awful), but I think if anyone is able to make it stick, it's Bendis. And it's his writing here that makes me wonder if that is indeed where this is heading! No one writes an issue like this unless they really wanna see a character get what's earned before his big send-off. And THAT is really has me worried/excited to see what's coming next, and what makes this one of the best books on the shelves!
Speaking of which, I check http://www.chrissamnee.com/ on a weekly basis to see what he's up to with his fantastic work, so it was an absolute pleasure to see his stuff splortched all over the interiors of this book. I do have a negative though, in that Chris' work is beautiful in color, but absolutely shines in black and white. He has a knack for mostly drawing only in shadows when he's doing black and white work, and it's far more dynamic to my eye than the stuff that gets colored. Also, he made an interesting choice to draw Ultimate MJ to look more like young 616 MJ, with the hair and the body language and the what-nots. All-in-all, though…just perfect work.
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.
Advance Review! In stores May 4th!
DELERIUM’S PARTY: A LITTLE ENDLESS STORYBOOK OGNWritten and water colored by Jill Thompson
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
I wasn’t planning on reviewing anything this week, but I happened to come across an advance copy of Jill Thompson’s latest original graphic novel featuring Neil Gaiman’s the Endless and felt compelled to tap out a few words of high praise. The entire gothic family is present for this outing which focuses on the chipper Delirium who sets her mind to making her dour-faced sister Despair smile by having a party for her.
If the plot sounds child-like, it is. It’s also one of those ageless stories that works if you’re an adult in need of a SANDMAN fix or if you’re a child in need of a bedtime story. Though I don’t have any kids, if I did, I’d much rather read this cute little tale to them rather than the usual brainless stuff that’s out there.
Jill Thompson does a great job of giving each of the Endless something meaningful to contribute to this story as each tries to garner a smile from their ever-so-sad sis with a present that is characteristic of each of them. The ending is poetic and fun, keeping the tone light, but significant.
Thompson’s talents with water colors are gorgeous here as well. Each page has delicious tones and contains a large amount of detail. This is an image and text book, and if there is only one complaint, it’s that sometimes the text pages are a little bland compared to the coolly painted imagery on the opposite page of the book. Other times, the painting’s images bleed over into the text page which makes for a much more rewarding read.
If you’re looking for a cool story to read to your child at bedtime or if you’re just a big kid yourself, you won’t be able to stop yourself from smiling at this one. I wish I had cool stories like this to be read to me at bedtime as a kid. DELERIUM’S PARTY proves that, though Gaiman’s SANDMAN is long gone, there’s still plenty of life for the rest of the Endless.
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!)
Advance Review! In stores today!
VENOM #1Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Tony Moore
Inker: Crimelab! Studios w/Sandu Florea and Karl Kesel
Reviewed by Johnny Destructo
Hey, remember how I gave a glowing recommendation for the new Venom after reading AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 654.1? (If not, it's here: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/48516#9). I was stoked about Flash being the new Venom and all the possibilities that opened up and how different it was! Yeah. Welllp...yhat should have just been called VENOM #1, because THIS VENOM #1 was basically the same. Just switch out for a new villain, the insanely awesome and insanely..well..insane... JACK O' LANTERN! Sadly, I'd say he is the only real reason to pick this issue up. I really enjoyed reading Remender's version of him and all his halloween-y shananigans. This J. O'L still has a laughable set of powers and costume, except you wouldn't laugh, because he'd murder your face. He's awesome. Sadly, the rest of the comic just isn't. Again, it's just that the story is a retread of Venom's last appearance, and I really think they should have pushed the envelope much more than they did, especially for a 1st issue that is supposed to hook new readers. I will say that the symbiote is used to do some pretty rad stuff during battle, though! Particularly a bit involving a grenade.
Luckily, Tony Moore's usual superb art is THERE in all its glory! Unluckily, it's just buried under overly-thick inking and muddy coloring. It's such a shame, really. I was so excited to read this issue, and I was left disappointed. It felt like reading a re-run. I still have faith that the inking, coloring and story will be better with issue 2, so I'm not giving up hope on the book, I just think there were some unfortunate missteps here this time around.
NEXT MEN #4Written and Illustrated by: John Byrne
Published by: IDW Publishing
Reviewed by: superhero
OK, now this issue is a little bit more like it. With this issue of the NEXT MEN we get back to a semblance of normalcy--at least normalcy for what was once JOHN BYRNE’S NEXT MEN of the ‘90’s. The new NEXT MEN has, for me, had a bit of trouble stumbling out of the gate. While I was one of the @$$hole reviewers that was willing to give Byrne a pass for his re-cap debut issue I found the next two issues to be a bit, I dunno, sort of skeevy. Obviously a large part of this has to do with Byrne being a controversial figure himself. I mean, the guy has stuck his foot in his mouth so many times over the past several years that it becomes a bit hard not to ascribe a bit of my own assumptions of him into his current work. But beyond that it was more of Byrne’s choice to sort of put some of his main characters through some torturous situations that left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. While the NEXT MEN was never a straight up superhero actioner, and was certainly never a happy go lucky book, it was a comic that had more of an interesting plotline than having characters put into awful situations all the time.
In NEXT MEN issues two and three I was really getting a bit worried as to where this book was going. I kept reading mostly because of my affection for the old series and partly because, despite everything, there is still something about Byrne’s artwork that I still love. By the end of issue three I was starting to get depressed. NEXT MEN was just starting to seem like an exercise in sadism.
With this issue NEXT MEN steps away from that and seems to be more interested in moving the story forward than getting stuck in treating its characters like crap. Issue number four shows us a bit of what has happened to the NEXT MEN after the end of the original run of the series as well as what’s sort of going on with the characters that starred in what was the back- up feature in the NEXT MEN books, M IV. I think this is a bit more of what fans like me wanted to see with the re-launch of the NEXT MEN. So I was pretty happy to see the direction this book was going. I was even more surprised to see that much of the story took place at a particle accelerator lab as just days before I’d read this book I’d watched the documentary The Atom Smashers on Netflix. Regardless, much of the story that we’ve been wondering about for the past three issues evolves in this book and the adventure at the super collider pretty much reveals a lot of what’s been going on in general.
This however, leaves me to ask the question, “What were the past two issues all about anyway?” I mean, I honestly think that issues two and three could have been cut down into one issue without dragging all the sordid details of what was happening during the NEXT MEN’s torture time tour. I’ll go even further and say that the past two issues may not even have been necessary at all. Issue two of NEXT MEN could have easily just started with the beginning of issue four. By the time we got to issue five the revelations about what happened to Antonia, Jazz, and Nathan could have been explained in maybe a page or two. We didn’t need to have two issues of the NEXT MEN being beaten, tortured and, I guess, diseased. Obviously Byrne was trying to mess with reader’s minds but I think he just played into a lot of his critics’ hands with issues two and three of the NEXT MEN. Byrne could have just given us a straightforward story by starting from the point that issue four begins but he had to play around and try and mess with our heads and maybe gross us out…which kind of turned me off. I will say that issue four has pulled me back into being interested again but what issue four made me realize was that issues two and three were a bigger waste of story than the much debated “flashback” issue that number one was.
But what I think about the last two issues doesn’t matter at this point. What matters is that issue four is enough of a return to basics that it’s restored a little bit of confidence in Byrne’s ability to actually pull this out of the nosedive I was afraid it was turning into. Maybe it’s because I’m so nostalgic about the old series, maybe it’s the Mulder in me wanting to believe in the mythic John Byrne that I loved as a youngster, or maybe I’m just the abused spouse returning home because I’ll just take whatever I can get at this point. Whatever the reason, I think that this issue of NEXT MEN got things moving for me again…but at four bucks a book I don’t know how much more I can hold out if this comic doesn’t keep the momentum going.
Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. He's been an @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at www.kristianhorn.com and check out his blog at www.parttimefanboy.com.
POWERS (Volume 3) #7Writer: Brian Bendis
Artist: Michael Oeming
Publisher: Marvel Icon
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
I’m going to break two of my cardinal douche-review laws: One, I never recommend starting a book mid-arc. But when the goodness of the theme supersedes the minutia of the plot, as is the case with this latest issue of POWERS, I feel almost obligated to get new readers on board. Two, I generally consider any book that’s not part of the long pantheon of super hero experiences pretty much inaccessible to most new readers despite whatever catchy marketing expletives the publisher chooses to emblazon on the front cover.
POWERS is different, though; with each new volume comes the chance for new readers to start fresh in this universe where super powers are outlawed and regular cops are trying to tangle with Gods among men. Sure you will miss the subtle nuances of the relationship between long-time detective partners Deena Pilgrim and Christian Walker, but that’s the soap opera stuff. Not to discount those moments, it’s actually one of the chief reasons I read comics, but I know not all comic fans are created equally or share the same reasons for loving this hobby. What new readers can enjoy is how Bendis continually deconstructs everything we know about all of the other comics that wallet-rape our bank accounts every Wednesday.
Case in point: can anyone truly claim to be a God no matter how powerful they are? Whether you believe in Him or capital H-I-M outside of the comic world will definitely factor into the conversation. Would the God or even a God don a cape, mask and tights? Comic fans would be led to believe “yes” especially those of us that have followed the work of Byrne or hell, even Thor. But if art is any indicator of a creator’s personal beliefs the answer Mr. Bendis would provide is most likely an emphatic “no.”
Even though powers have been outlawed in the POWERS universe, there are still a shit load of folks walking around greater than mortal men. This time around in POWERS we get to peek into the world of the best-of-the-best, those that actually do believe themselves to be Gods. There’s only one problem with this belief: they keep getting murdered. Can one kill a God? Unless you’re Morrison and you’re trying to make 80 years of fiction have a practical application in today’s world, the answer should probably be no, si’nce death sort of defeats the purpose of omnipotence. And that’s the real question being asked behind the mystery of the unfolding plot and Bendis’ snappy dialogue.
Walker and his new partner (who’s also doing double duty for Internal Affairs to see if Walker has regained some of his past powers-based mojo), are hot on the trail of someone killing off the POWERS universe’s version of the Justice League. Those that are above man’s laws and use their powers as living Gods should, mainly whenever they want.
Bendis does a wonderful job of encapsulating the debate over whether true Gods would care about the lives of mortals without ever belaboring the point. His new partner, Sunrise, continues to absorb her front-facing assignment with the same awe and bewilderment that Walker’s old partner, Deena Pilgrim, had in her initial days on the force. As for Sunrise’s IA mission, well that seems to be taking a hiatus and I have to admit I’m glad. When Walker was anointed the protector of Earth, by what I will simply call the POWERS’ Green Lanterns, I will admit I gave a bit of a groan (the comparison just felt too heavy-handed for a series that has flourished because of its originality). Like a wounded condor, part of Walker’s appeal is that he once flew on high, but can never return to that life by his own fallacies and the laws of man. As we learned way back during the POWERS “monkey-fucking” arc, Walker is damn near immortal. When he was granted his power ring, I thought for certain I was hearing the death bells for the series toll off in the distance. This issue, though, put it all in perspective for me. Walker may be the only true God in this universe and just like that shitty movie “Hancock” a few years ago, perhaps the entire POWERS series is merely a brief hiatus from the burdens of immortality. I hope I’m right and this newfound space power is merely a brief step on a much longer journey.
Long time fans of the series will be delighted to see the full return of Deena Pilgrim, who is now a Federal Agent in not only Walker’s city, but also the chief liason between Powers PD and this case. The fact that Walker now has to answer to his once protégé is the tastiest shit sandwich I’ve ever seen eaten.
My only complaint with POWERS (c’mon, you knew there had to be one) is that the delivery schedule seems to have synched up with Halley’s Comet’s cycle. I could be wrong, because there is simply so much other Bendis stuff on the shelf, but it feels like there are still some long delays on this title.
As far as complaints are concerned though, Bendis and Oeming should consider this the grandest compliment. It’s very rare when the only gripe you receive is fanboy fervor for more issues.
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.
SECRET SIX #31Writer: Gail Simone
Art: Jim Calfiore
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
Hell is other people.
One of the better aspects of SECRET SIX comes from the interactions and relationships between the characters. These are vile individuals, and to watch them play off one another is always an entertaining read. But this issue takes it to a whole new level and draws back on everything that's been established so far within the series. It’s one of the better issues the series I've ever read and one hell of a way to start off a new arc.
Writing: (4/5) Simone, to the eternal credit to her intelligence, may not in fact know what the words "status quo" mean. The series has never remained in one direction for very long, reflecting the high death/event ratio of these events. With a return to the series opening, a sense of connectivity and history occurs by bringing back the Get Out Of Hell Free card. While it does return to an earlier arc, this isn’t a mere repeat at all. It takes one premise and goes 160 degrees with it. The Six are always best when in over their heads and it's rare they'll be this far in. It's interesting to see how the Six will do under a mystic threat.
The Six's interpersonal relationships end up on main display here and we get some new looks at familiar characters. The role Ragdoll plays in the team dynamic and his own sense of loyalty is explored effectively. The fact that he's stolen the card from Scandal says he's been prepared to forsake the others for a while and it adds a bit more malice to him. Scandal's reaction to her dream and the ensuing fight is one of the more brutal brawls in the series in a while. Even in terms of violence and all, it wasn't nearly as bad as the last story, but it feels grimmer, more serious. All characters come off well, as always.
If there's anything wrong, it's that too much time is spent on the subplot revolving around Scandal's girlfriend being kidnapped. It's weaker than the majority of the issue and detracts from the A plot.
Art: (5/5) Calfiore is utterly brilliant in this issue. The little things like the faces, Ragdoll’s freak out on Scandal, everything. Conversations between the heroes flow realistically and fast, just as fluidly as do the fights. Every scene is beautiful or bold. The final shot in the book is utterly fantastic, whereas smaller, hidden moments are conveyed just as well. The monkeys that appear in the course of the fight between Ragdoll and Scandal are just as good, solely there for a quick laugh. There's nothing wrong with the art in this issue, not one thing.
Best Moment: The monkeys. Or the final scene. Or anything.
Worst Moment: Well, the serial killer bit was a bit off.
Overall: (4/5) The next arc will be brilliant, if the first issue is any indication.
IRREDEEMABLE #23Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Peter Krause and Diego Barreto
Published by: BOOM! Studios
Reviewed by: BottleImp
I can’t think of any other comic book that has vacillated in quality so drastically in such a short span of time. I’m not going to belabor the point—lord knows I’ve beaten it to death in past reviews—but suffice to say, IRREDEEMABLE started off great, got kind of crappy, then REALLY crappy, then awesome, then back down to okay, and now is hovering on that dreaded plateau of “good, not great.” The initial spark of energy generated by dropping the reader square into the life-or-death situation of a demigod gone mad has long evaporated, and Waid’s effectiveness in engaging the reader now hinges on his characters and plot. And while both are not failures, neither of these elements can be counted as wholly successful. Spoilers lie ahead—you have been warned.
At the center of it all, of course, is Waid’s Superman stand-in The Plutonian. I’ve read the various examples of The Plutonian’s evil over the past two years and debated the exact nature of his turn from hero to villain. There were several instances in the series where The Plutonian seemed to make a deliberate decision to stop helping humanity, pushed to this extreme by the unrelenting pressure of being an unappreciated savior. Yet later on this switch appeared to be less of a conscious act than the instinctive, animal reaction of a man whose sanity has snapped, leading me to question, “Is madness the same as evil? Is The Plutonian truly irredeemable if he is not in control of his actions by reason of insanity?” It seems to me that Waid is deliberately nudging his audience towards this line of thinking, seeing as how in this issue it’s revealed that the “prison” holding the near-catatonic Plutonian is actually an intergalactic insane asylum. And since The Plutonian’s internal fantasies whilst in said catatonic state have all revolved around his once again being a beloved hero, this just adds credence to the notion that mental instability rather than willful malice is to blame. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone.
Throughout the evolution of this series a central theme has taken shape—namely, that there is no absolute Good and Evil--the world is made up of shades of gray rather than black and white. The Plutonian’s mental state is just one example of this; the twisted love/hate relationship between the fallen hero and his arch-nemesis Modeus, the deal struck with the alien invaders in order to safeguard the Earth, and perhaps most interestingly, the dramatic shift in character of the hero self-dubbed Survivor. For those who haven’t been keeping up with the series, Survivor was one half of the twin heroes Scylla and Charybdis, the former apparently killed at the hands of The Plutonian, giving the latter, surviving brother (get it?) the entirety of his powers (as far as I can tell, these powers roughly approximate those of Green Lantern or Quasar—Survivor is able to create energy constructs and fire blasts of power). As the series has progressed, Survivor has gone from being a two-dimensional good guy to a power-drunk quasi-tyrant with an arrogance bordering on megalomania. His character becomes another facet of this theme of Good and Evil intertwined, and hints are dropped in this issue that suggest that Survivor’s true nature may be an larger threat than The Plutonian himself. After reading the final pages, I was left wondering if the title of this comic might not refer to The Plutonian after all.
I like the direction that this series is taking, but as I mentioned above, I still don’t feel as if it’s 100% successful. Part of the reason is the pacing—this particular issue has a good mix of action, plot advancement and character development, but I’ve been noticing that every few months Waid drops an issue that winds up feeling like filler. Salient plot points that could have been taken care of in a matter of a few pages are instead stretched out from cover to cover, making for both a boring read and an unpleasant feeling that you’ve been ripped off. Let’s face it, for four bucks an issue there’s a certain level of expectation that needs to be met, otherwise it’s not worth the money—especially not in this economy. I’d also like to see Waid delve a little more into the characters of his universe. Reading IRREDEEMABLE now isn’t nearly as maddening as reading it a year ago, when the majority of people walking around on the pages were little more than dialogue-spouting robots, but there are still a lot of aspects of this fictional world that could use a little more face time, as it were. And speaking of faces…
The last thing that makes this series less effective for me is the artwork. No matter how good the words on the page are, the visuals have the power to elevate the quality or drag it down, and while this is by no means the worst art on the stands, IRREDEEMABLE could always stand for some improvement. I actually enjoy Barreto’s art; he’s got certain slickness to his drawing style and good page compositions. But Krause’s work always feels lacking—there’s a slight awkwardness to his figures that makes them feel more like mannequins rather than living, breathing people, and his compositions and facial expressions are such that it sometimes becomes difficult to read the action and emotion of certain scenes. Like I said, it’s not horrible—it’s not like he’s aping Liefeld, or anything—but it could be better.
Little things, little things… it’s the little things that can make a big difference, and it’s the little things that keep IRREDEEMABLE from being the mind-blowing entertainment that a lot of us expected after those first few issues. But at least with this series you know that the writer has something to say and that (unlike Superman) there’s no guarantee that everything will work out for the best—and it’s these important little things that keep me coming back to this comic.
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.
ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA #3Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Ron Garney
Publisher: Ultimate Marvel
The thing that originally turned me off of Captain America is that he seemed like a joke. Here’s a guy who runs around in an American flag costume fighting blindly, propaganda style for America…not that appealing to me? Yeah, the shield was cool but beyond that…why would I care about a superhero who is basically a stooge for the American government. It wasn’t until Ed Brubaker’s run that Cap really started to resonate with me (never really read any Cap before that). The idea that this guy who stands up for the core values of the American system would be at odds with they way the American Government does things, basically a sort of James Bond type character who had all these conflicting feelings about their place in the world and their loyalty to a government that he may not believe in anymore…that, my friends, is interesting. I want a unflinching look at the underbelly of America and how Steve Rogers fits into this new world where a lot of black and white have turned to areas of gray and how those gray areas effect this super soldier’s psyche. If there’s one thing you can say about Jason Aaron is that he’s loves the grit, lives in the grit…his mudder was a mudder…wait where was I? Oh yeah Jason Aaron…his SCALPED series (of which I’ve read about 2 or 3 issues), his GHOST RIDER: HEAVEN’S ON FIRE and even his PUNISHER MAX are full of that gritty realism and Ultimate Captain America delivers in the same way.
I think I like Ultimate Cap better than 616 Cap. He just seems more real. He’s kind of a dick…kicks ass with little to no remorse and he’s just…more fun. This series deals with Cap going on a mission, getting his ass handed to him…leaving him to wonder, “who was that masked man…that gave me a two piece and biscuit style beating?!?” Who this man is, is really the meat of this story and plays into how our government does things behind the scenes in hopes that these skeletons never make their way out of the closet and this is a big, muscular, fucked in the head skeleton. I like this comic because Cap, while he probably already is aware of atrocities his government may have committed, is now being forced to confront a lot of these things in a disturbing manner…like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE disturbing.
The villain in this story is pretty interesting as well and is a good opposite to Captain America; I won’t reveal too much about who he is and why he is but he’s basically what Cap could become if he were batshit crazy and ultra resentful of the government and how they deal with certain “problems.” I actually remember this guy from when I was a kid in a Captain America comic I had called ‘The Ugly American’ (yes I know he was kind of in WOLVERINE: ORIGINS) and I remember instantly knowing what this guy was about based on his appearance. The parallel between Cap and this guy is awesome and it shows that Steve Rodgers is more than just a normal soldier with amazing attributes, he’s a man with a strong moral code and a propensity for actual justice despite what his government does, rather than a maniac whose skewed sense of justice leads them doing despicable acts. This comic actually resonates a lot of what’s happened recently in our country where certain people have reasonable ideas about short comings in our political system but they have a messed up sense of justice and no moral code and end up doing fucked up shit to innocent people just to prove their point.
Much like Garth Ennis’s run on PUNISHER where a lot of the crimes in that book were things that were actually happening in current news stories, I think Aaron has also weaved current political discussions into this book ever so subtly which makes this comic a lot more interesting to me than Cap running around beating up terrorists (but I do like that too). I was skeptical of an Ultimate Captain America series because his stories can be so much more than the formulaic shit 80% of comics follow but used correctly a writer can make interesting political statements disguised as a funny book. The art here is pretty good, there are some pages that I’m in awe of what I’m seeing and then there are a few times where I’m like “is this the same guy?” I’m not sure what it is, some panels just seem rushed but overall I like it.
This comic surprised me because basically its been 3 issues of Cap getting his shit handed to him coupled with some crazy guy @#$%#^@ing him over and over and over again and the sad thing is, this shit has probably happened to someone before thus making this comic a little different than your run of the mill superhero story…hell I’d say this is more of a psychologically driven comic than anything else and like I said earlier I think Captain America lends himself very well to these types of moral conflict stories. I mean I wanna see Cap kick ass too, don’t get me wrong, BUT I like a good comic that opens up the floodgates to a deeper understanding of character as well as the world around us. Jason Aaron has tapped into something any Political Science teacher could assign as reading and get some damn good class discussions out of it.
Ron Garney’s art always has really good colors--they always seem to jump off the page and all of his action looks great, it’s just some of the more quiet moments that need touch ups…but I can barely draw a blade of grass, so what do I know. Don’t fret, though; this art is really good, I’m just feeling nit picky today. ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA is gritty, poignant, and relevant to America’s political landscape and the ideas presented go far beyond comic books and have a place at ANY political discussion about the negative aspects of war and the downside to doing the dirty work needed to end international conflicts.
KILL SHAKESPEARE #9Writer: Conor McCreery, Anothony Del Col
Artist: Andy Belanger
Publisher: IDW Publishing
In this year’s @$$ie Awards, I named IDW Publishing the “Best Publisher.” I have not read many of their comics recently, though I am familiar with their older products, but they have the most titles on my wish list, one of those series being KILL SHAKESPEARE. I was lucky enough to be able to catch up on the series and read the most recent foray into the Bard’s world. KILL SHAKESPEARE #9 did not disappoint. It may be early in the year, but I sense KILL SHAKESPEARE or at least IDW, getting another @$$ie award from me.
KILL SHAKESPEARE #9 starts off with Romeo joining Hamlet, the Shadow King, and a group of other Shakespearean characters as they search for Shakespeare. In this collective are Richard III, Iago, and Falstaff. But when Hamlet alone finds the famous playwright he is unaware of plans set in motion between Iago and Lady Macbeth, plans not only meant to destroy the Bard but the Shadow King as well.
Now KILL SHAKESPEARE, for all its wonderful qualities, is not something you can just jump into. I’m not saying you need knowledge of the plays that the characters and partially plot lines are based on, but you do need to have read the previous books. Do whatever you can to get your hands on these because this is probably one of the strongest series out there, for many reasons.
First of all, there is Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col’s writing style. They have the flourish of Shakespeare’s language, without being too flowery or making it necessary for the reader to grab a dictionary every other line. They have gotten the essence of the wording without the fuss. Take for instance Hamlet’s insult to his maker: “For this ale-soaked form deserves not my pity, nor even my scorn.”
But what takes KILL SHAKESPEARE over the moon is Andy Belanger’s art. What Belanger is able to do is something truly missing from Shakespeare--visuals. If you read the plays they are very sparse in description. William did this purposefully as to create an unfixed reality due to production limitations. Through the comic medium, Belanger is able to fill the gaps. Instead of a character describing a scene, now those descriptive words can become reality.
If I were to voice a complaint it would be with the information overload. There is so much strong dialogue and beautiful artwork that it becomes hard to know what to focus on. Some comics you can pick up on the story without the speech bubbles; not so in the case of the book. That is not a fault of KILL SHAKESPEARE for if you are to include something at least make it necessary. I’m just saying that the KILL SHAKESPEARE series is not a quick read because there is so much to take in.
As for how KILL SHAKESPEARE #9 compares to its predecessors, the story is getting further away from the plots of the plays as the series progresses. Now you have familiar characters in unfamiliar situations. But I feel that this will only lead to more originality and creativity out of the team.
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?).
MORAL GEOMETRY #1 & 2Written (?) and Illustrated by: Sean AndressPublished by: 1777 Publishing, Inc.
Reviewed by: superhero
I don’t know…sometimes you just have to throw up your hands and just say…”Huh?” Honestly, I have to just say this book wasn’t for me. Look, I love getting requests from indie creators asking me to read their stuff. When I get the opportunity to discover something new I’m all for checking it out. I want to discover something different, something outside of the norm. But this book…this book is just…bizarre.
I can’t even call MORAL GEOMETRY a comic book per se. It’s got no real narrative, there’s no storytelling…at least none that I could coherently identify. It’s a book that’s just all over the place. There’s hardly any dialogue of any kind and the artwork is so out there that it’s almost impossible to identify what’s going on.
But I think it may be unfair of me to judge MORAL GEOMETRY by a normal comic book standard as it’s obviously not trying to achieve that benchmark. It’s trying to be something else. Maybe it’s just trying to be a work of art on its own and just wrapping itself up in the appearance of a comic book. Maybe it’s just an experiment or it could just be a showcase for the creator’s own artistic endeavors. I have no idea what to make of it. Maybe it’s just beyond me. I do know, however, that I don’t think I could recommend it to someone who’s looking for something coherent. I would recommend it to anyone who wants something out there. Waaaaayyyy out there. I can’t view MORAL GEOMETRY other than as the freakish curiosity that it seems to me. That could be my own shortcoming as a reviewer but I can’t see anyone seeing it as anything else.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G