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Issue #46 Release Date: 4/6/11 Vol.#9

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: GI JOE: COBRA CIVIL WAR #0
@$$Hole 2 in 1 Review of AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #5
Advance Review: THE FLASH #10
Advance Review: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #658
Indie Jones presents…

Advance Review: In stores today!


Writers: Chuck Dixon & Mike Costa
Art: Javier Saltares, Antonio Fuso, & Augustin Padilla
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

So in order to do somewhat of a reboot to their GI JOE properties, IDW has planned a pretty cool crossover. I’ve always been a huge fan of GI JOE and have followed it through its many comic book permutations throughout the years. Most were entertaining, though not all of them were great; they did seem to embrace the same level of nostalgia and somewhat hokeyness of the original cartoon, which is a double edge sword. Sure it draws in for those who remember the toys and cartoon from their youth, but how many times can you watch toy soldiers shoot lasers from machine guns and watch troops crawl from fiery crashes but always survive before you get sick of it? Larry Hama’s Marvel series was the most complex and seemed to take the material seriously for a while, but through time, it seemed either the readers grew up or the stories waned in quality (more likely both). Since then, JOE bopped around a bit and finally landed at IDW. At first, I liked the three new IDW GI JOE titles. There hadn’t been a GI JOE comic in a while and it seemed to fit the bill, but soon, the core GI JOE title and the ORIGINS book seemed to lose steam for me. Only GI JOE COBRA, which seemed to add a new level of storytelling sophistication to the mythos, sustained my interest. GI JOE COBRA looked at the foes of GI JOE through a mature lens, crafting stories of high action and intrigue and making the somewhat outlandish and outright goofy COBRA characters more believable and thus, fresh to read. After reading the first book in IDW’s new reboot of the series, it looks like all of the GI JOE books are shifting in tone closer to the mature take on the characters found in GI JOE COBRA. And that’s a good thing.

For those of you who don’t know, GI JOE COBRA ended with Chuckles (douchey action figure in Hawaiian shirt turned badass undercover agent and star of Mike Costa and Christos Gage’s series GI JOE COBRA) assassinating Cobra Commander then blowing up Cobra Island with a nuke, sacrificing himself and Xamot (more unstable twin brother of Tomax…you remember them don’t you?) with it. GI JOE: COBRA CIVIL WAR#0 starts with everyone picking up the pieces from that fiasco. GI JOE doesn’t know all of the details, but they know a major blow has been dealt. COBRA is scrambling to retaliate and the first of the three stories features a team of Joes showing up in the seemingly harmless city of Springfield. Chuck Dixon writes this segment well, which is full of military lingo and stars one of the cooler, more obscure Joes, Barbecue, among others. This story actually highlights a mysterious new COBRA character Krake and sets him up to be a deadly threat. Artist Javier (GHOST RIDER) Saltares balances the tightrope of stylish art vs. technical knowhow that is required for this type of military story.

Mike Costa’s second story shows the story from COBRA’s eyes as the remaining leaders of the evil empire meet to reorganize and find a new Commander. The council decides that a contest of sorts will be held. Whoever deals the more damaging blow to GI JOE will be elected the new Cobra Commander. Costa fills this story with distrust showing that even though COBRA seems well organized, its treachery is its biggest flaw. Now nine candidates are vying for leadership of COBRA: The Baroness, Destro, Baron Bludd, Storm Shadow, Serpentor, Tomax, and newcomers Krake, Vargas, and Khalikahn. Costa sets the stage for this competition and characterizes the candidates well here. Costa’s COBRA artist remains Antonio Fuso who’s stylishly noir-laden panels ooze evil and are the perfect fit for this type of story.

The final story focuses on GI JOE’s star character Snake-Eyes. The silent warrior will be getting his own solo book in the reboot. Here he stumbles upon his trainees slaughtered. With Scarlett acting as his mouthpiece, Snake proves to be a pretty interesting character, despite his lack of dialog. This is one of those books that hinders on the art communicating action clearly because the main character does not. Newcomer Augustin Padilla does so with Dixon’s story pretty well, but the verdict’s still out whether or not he can do it for an entire issue.

All in all, this book is a nice indication that GI JOE is heading in a more sophisticated direction more like the GI JOE COBRA series by Gage and Costa. For that, I’m stoked. This COBRA CIVIL WAR looks to be off to a great start.

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 covers to purchase)!

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An @$$Hole 2 in 1 Review!


Writer: Allen Heinberg
Artist: Jimmy Cheung
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: KletusCasady

The main draw (heh) for me to this book is Jimmy Cheung. His art is fantastic and I think he’s one of the top three artists working at Marvel today. I’d pretty much buy anything he draws and I think I have over the past few years. The other reason I’m reading this book is because of how surprised I was with the first YOUNG AVENGERS trade. I scoffed at the idea of AVENGERS Jr., but I quickly had my mind changed after a few pages of beautiful art and a pretty tight & engaging story. What really stuck with me was how Heinberg addressed all the misgivings I had about this team and the book in general, about how their just a low rent AVENGERS, how they’ll never be the ‘real’ AVENGERS, how they just seem like a bunch of fan boys playing dress up…all of this stuff was discussed and dissected in this book which made me like it even more. Instead of trying to avoid all these issues people may have with this comic, all those problems were worked into the story, which to me is a great way of dealing with possible shortcomings in a story. Anywho let’s review shall we…

This book’s purpose is to basically tie up a loose end that’s been hanging around since HOUSE OF M (which reminds me I need to return Josh’s book); that loose end also happens to be possibly one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe and that loose end’s name…Squirrel Girl! wait…oh yeah… it’s The Scarlet Witch. Oh yeah, you say…what’s that chick been up to? Well she’s been hanging with d%. d@@^^ and they plan on gett…well you gotta read the series for those juicy tidbits. Basically Scarlet Witch disappeared after HOUSE OF M with no memory of her past, and since two of the YOUNG AVENGERS may be related to the lady responsible for eliminating half (or more) of the mutant population, the YOUNG AVENGERS go against their better judgment and seek her out.

This book may cause readers to hesitate to buy this series if they’re not familiar with the entire YOUNG AVENGERS saga but I think this can still be an enjoyable read without absorbing all the YOUAVENGERS trades. I did have trouble remembering some of the relationships between characters especially when *&^% ^@$ showed up. This was actually one of the best parts of this issue where {blank} & Cassie (Stature--Stephen Lang’s {Giant Man} daughter, same powers) are catching up and Vision is obviously jealous (keep in mind he’s an android) and the dialog and the facial expressions are spot on and became a running joke though out the issue like how our visitor says that technically Vision is still married to Scarlet Witch and how Vision really isn’t too keen on said visitor. While all of this was a funny way to lighten the moment, it also showed that there’s a lot more going on in this book than just the main story and those strong character moments that made the original series so good are still intact.

There is a good amount of humor in this issue but there are also some really serious moments to balance everything out, like when they ‘safely’ go back in time and run in to Jac….uhhh…better not spoil that either. Doom is actually a badass again in this series; he looks cool as hell and actually shows some heart in this book. I’m really sick of Doom being forgotten about as one of the great villains; I know I’ve mentioned it before but man, he’s been lame for awhile (DOOMWAR included) and I just want to see him fuck shit up again and while here he isn’t coming across as a bad guy necessarily, he does come across as a well rounded character that’s not to be fucked with who probably has some ulterior motive or maybe he just genuinely wanted to ^@$$% Scarlet Witch (yes, you can make up your own interpretation).

My only problem with this book and miniseries like this in general, is that it takes so long for these series to be done that by the time I get to the end I’m like ‘why were they fighting again?!?! I know artists and writers work hard to get their stuff out on time but why not do 2 issues a month? That way your miniseries doesn’t loose steam, doesn’t take forever to finish and keeps thing fresh in the reader’s mind. Reading the issues one month at a time over a 9 month period just breaks that hold a comic book has over you, especially in a miniseries where you know there’s an end in sight it just won’t be here until 2013, then when you have to reacquaint yourself with the story there’s just a lot of pacing that gets lost…I guess that’s why a lot of folks prefer trades…I guess that’s more of a personal gripe than anything substantial.

I really like the YOUNG AVENGERS and I really don’t want any other creative team handling them (maybe Parker & Hardman); Heinberg knows these characters inside and out and the way they interact seems very natural and at times hilarious. The art is stellar and the only real issue to me (which is me being nitpicky) is the lack of background when the fights are happening. To me, I just like to see, spatially, where a character is in relation to objects in their environment but I guess there are a few artists I really like that do that, so whatevs. Other than that, Cheung is hands down one of the best artists Marvel has, I just wish he did more interiors but I’ll live with just getting this series for now. Even though this series ties in to a lot of past series (AVENGERS: DISSASEMBLED, HOUSE OF M & YOUNG AVENGERS), it doesn’t seem too cluttered with elements of other stories (meaning it’s not that hard to follow along). This could be because I’m familiar with all those other series and I’m not saying you have to be to enjoy this book but being aware of what happened in those books will definitely increase our enjoyment of this issue. I like this series a lot I just wish it shipped more frequently so I could keep my head in the story. 70% of my like for this series is Jimmy Cheung but that other 30% of like for Heinberg is pretty damn strong. This book is a lot of fun and looks fantastic!


Writer: Allan Heinberg
Art: Jim Cheung
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy

That's a lot of dead people.

YOUNG AVENGERS just so happens to be one of the most frustrating series in recent Marvel memory. For a story and team with so much potential, they've been almost completely unexplored. INITIATIVE, AVENGERS ACADEMY, YOUNG ALLIES; so many series have utilized the "Next generation" motif recently. YOUNG AVENGERS had the most promise, and it's been so disappointing to see so little of them. CHILDREN’S CRUSADE has been a decent if mixed return for the team and Scarlet Witch, someone whose presence has been missed in the AVENGERS books. This one pushes the plot a fair amount forward, but leaves so much out that it could have explored.

Writing: (3/5) Heinberg returns his own creations with gusto here, and the scenes featuring the Young Avengers themselves work extremely well. The dialogue is fast and fluid, and never feels out of place. None of the characters have changed (thank you underuse). They still are recognizably the same characters from the original series. Small moments like Iron Lad and Cassie reuniting and the small Billy/Teddy moments are always appreciated, especially when they're as fun and solid as they are here.Most of the action beats, though a bit repetitive, are good. The opening fight has some well done moments, and the retread of the Jack of Hearts event is well done. Jack (a character I always found just...just bad) manages to win over some sympathy, and the scene itself is good.

But the issue in particular has as many problems as it does strengths. It is odd so quickly on the heels of DOOMWAR that another story feature heavily an "Attack Latvaria" subplot, and it doesn't sit right. Doom himself switches gears a fair amount here, revealing possible altruistic motives for marrying Wanda. But it's a little late in the story to reveal noble intentions for Doctor Doom.

The return of Scott Lang. Well...huh. I....hmm. It's not done well. The explanation for his return not messing with the time stream is one of those typical idiotic "but we've created a sort of parallel history!" ideas, and it isn't sold well. To be honest, yes, Scott had one hell of bad death. But does the Marvel Universe really need three heroes fulfilling the Ant-Man role? Between Pym and O'Grady, I felt the shrinking Avenger quota had been filled. Scott's revival, though providing some interesting ideas for Cassie, at least seems to me as being an unnecessary action that just adds more problems of this story than it benefits.

Art: (4/5) Cheung has always been an impressive artist, and he's a perfect fit for this series and team. A nice juxtaposition between small moments (Cassie's two reuniting scenes) and big scene stealers (the return of Iron Lad) are all fantastic. If anything, this issue lacks artistically in that it fails to capitalize on so many awesome ideas. Magneto vs. Doom, the torture of Wiccan, the Jack of Hearts explosion, so many mental moments that could have been conveyed amazingly, and briefly are, could have sold an issue on their own. But the moments that remain, while good, can't live up. Scarlet Witch’s return is fantastic looking, but can't compare to the glimpses we see of Magneto vs. Doom. It's not the most critical part of the story, but it plays a part in the issue being almost disappointing at times.

Best Moment: The last page does admittedly look AWESOME.

Worst Moment: Fucking Scott Lang.

Overall: (3/5) The story, the art, the basic stuff—it all works. But the issue feels just so lackluster compared to what it could be.


Written, drawn and published by: Misael Armendariz, Gene Blakefield, Lynn Hogan, Jordan Kotzebue, Noah Maas, Dev Madan, Karin Madan, Rob McDaniel, Monte Michaelis, Stephen Notley, David Ryan Paul
Available for purchase here!
Reviewed by: BottleImp

Anthologies and monsters—two of this ol’ Imp’s favorite things. So when I saw this project created by some of the artists and designers from PopCap Games (creators of such popular time wasters as “Plants vs. Zombies”), it was like finding my own little Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. But not so sticky or fattening. And instead of peanut butter and chocolate, imaginary creatures and short stories. And you can’t eat this book like you can the Peanut Butter Cup. Well, you could, but it would be difficult. Okay, it’s a crappy metaphor, I know—so let’s just dive right into the MONSTERPEDIA, shall we?

The majority of the tales within share the same sensibilities as the aforementioned “Plants vs. Zombies” game, namely in that the monsters are more a source of amusement rather than horror, and the end result is entertaining in an innocuous (if not strictly G-rated) way. My favorite of this sort of stories is Karin Madan’s “Lil’ Dusa,” which depicts the trouble a young Medusa has in finding playmates that she won’t end up turning to stone. Madan’s character designs are cute without being “cutesy,” if you know what I mean, and the entire story has an appealing retro quality to the artwork that really sells this dialogue-less tale. Other fun chapters include Lynn Hogan’s “The Night Shift,” featuring a put-upon Night-Mare trying to scare a seemingly un-scareable child, the detective/monster mashup of Frankenstein’s Monster taking Little Red Riding Hood’s case in Dev Madan’s “A Red Hot Mess,” and Noah Maas’ frenetic meeting of monster and boy in “Toothbrush.”

The mix is kept from being too sweet with a scattering of features that skew slightly more mature. Amongst these are Gene Blakefield’s Ragnar-esque “Monster Pinups”—pretty much exactly what it sounds like—and Monte Michaelis’ hilarious “A Queasy Street Public Service Announcement,” which manages to roast some of the hoariest monster movie clichés in the brief span of four pages. Then there’s Rob McDaniel’s “The Monsterbrot Set,” which scores major points from me for its use of photographed clay monster sculptures that make me wish that this were a motion comic. Ah, for the days when Claymation reigned supreme…

As with any anthology, there bound to be one or two stories that just don’t work for the reader. In this case, I was left cold by Jordan Kotzebue’s “Hominids.” The funny thing is, Kotzebue probably has the slickest art in the whole book; his caveman characters remind me of Frank Cho with a dash of manga influence. But the writing is a little stilted, and the story itself feels more like an excerpt from a larger work rather than a stand-alone tale. The other entry that didn’t work for me was Stephen Notley’s “The Shell.” I just didn’t like the drawing style, which is a sort of scribbly cartoonish, and the story itself felt vague and unclear. Sorry, Stephen.

But the two biggest breaks from the overall tone of the book end up being two of the most successful. First is Misael Armendariz’ “I Screem!” This story opens up the anthology with an ice cream shop owner possessed by some sort of tentacled demon? Alien? Well, definitely some sort of monster. And this monster seems to have a sweet tooth for children. Armendariz’ artwork is deceptively childish, and at first glance I was a little disappointed in the cartoony characters and scribbly coloring. But there is a definite proficiency in the way Armendariz handles page composition and color design, and in the in the simplicity and childishness of the figures only enhances the mood of real horror that this story brings. The second story to share this sensation is the book’s closer, David Ryan Paul’s “Daddy’s Girl.” It’s a giant monster story with a neat little twist at the end (though the title does spoil the surprise just a little bit), but the real draw here is the artwork. Paul’s black & white tale is bursting with energy in both page layout and drawing style. His inking is at once scratchy and controlled, making his characters both well-defined and crackling with a dynamic energy. These two stories bookend a light-hearted anthology with shots of good old-fashioned fear, and it makes for a delicious mix.

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.

Advance Review: In stores today!


Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Francis Manapul
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo

I wish I had a cosmic treadmill to go back in time and stop the future Flashpoint storyline from mugging all of us. There are no less than FOURTEEN 3 issue mini-series on our crimson and golden horizon, and it makes me want to take cover. Don't take this as my review of this issue, however. It's more a statement about major comic companies and their lack of self-respect when it comes to these events. It just comes across as blatantly begging the comic-reading audience for money. It's like DC is walking into a bar and shamelessly giving its phone number to every single female in the place, speed-dating style, instead of focusing on impressing one woman. 42 issues of mini-series. Good god. But that's just me. Maybe I'm a broke bitter man and I'm all by my ownsies on this.

That being said: I'm still excited to see what's coming. Johns' and Manapul's lightning has been striking on-point every month with THE FLASH and this issue is no exception. The identity of Hot Pursuit was revealed last issue, but I won't spoil it here, since it's still a mystery on this month's cover. However, I will say that the update to the Cosmic Treadmill is long overdue (despite my love for its Silver Aged cheesiness) and works well here. One of my nit-picky problems with this Flash series thus far has been Barry's conspicuously missing fellow speedsters. Here we get a glimpse as to why this is the case when Bart straight-up confronts Barry, and it's a lovely piece of comicbooking. We also get the return of a long lost Barry Allen supporting character, which is kind of rad.

Francis Manapul's art is getting more solid with every issue. His characters' emotions are plain as day and one of the highest compliments a sequential artist can receive is that you could enjoy this issue and understand the events even without the word bubbles.

This is another excellent FLASH issue, and definitely worth your $2.99, especially if you're curious about what all the hub-bub of Flashpoint is about. Just beware liking it TOO much, ‘cause this cross-over will punch you in the taint and steal your wallet.

JD can be found hosting the PopTards Podcast, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at, graphically designing/illustrating for a living, and Booking his Face off over here.


Writer: Mark Rahner and Robert Horton
Art: Dan Dougherty
Publisher: Moonstone Books
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty

Argh! Gurgh! Poor zombies. They never have much to do after they’re re-animated besides lumber around and feed on the living. Of course you get the occasional blood thirsty growl and faint moan, but as far as antagonists go, they’re fairly one-dimensional. Fortunately Mark Rahner and his co-writer Robert Horton recognize their limitations and while they use them to drive the ROTTEN series, zombies are the plow that pushes its way through the narrative to make way for the rest of the vehicle. At the wheel, as they have been since issue numero uno, are Agent Wade and Agent Flynn. Like most law-enforcement buddy types, one guy is walking the beat and one guy is running for his life.

One of the things I find most fascinating about this series is the ability of Rahner and Horton to effectively layer the subtext of evolution and Darwinism without breaking out the soap box or flaming the religious right. It’s a sensitive topic that requires a delicate touch and I know it’s hard to apply the word “delicate” to a comic book that features disemboweled slaves, kindling through the eye socket and greasy bratwurst that may or may not be your next door neighbor, but that’s just it. This is a great comic because you get the action, you get the suspense and yes, you get zombie warfare. But you also get a character driven story about the obsession of two men in their different pursuits (of the same goal) and how their discoveries mirror our own.

Dan Dougherty’s artwork is more than just the framework that Rahner and Horton hang their narrative on; it’s a separate story in and of itself. It’s difficult to capture a time period (past or future) without making a parody of it, as the urge to exaggerate certain attributes to identify an era or locale is often a tough one to resist. In ROTTEN, the artwork reflects the times but also respects it, and Dougherty steers clear of the spaghetti western cliché’s that permeate so many competing books. It looks good, it reads good and dammit, it is good. We’re nine issues in and ROTTEN has yet to lose any of its luster.

When I was a kid I read superhero comics about men who could do extraordinary things with extraordinary abilities. Now that I’m older, I enjoy comics about men who can do extraordinary things with ordinary abilities. Mark Rahner, Robert Horton and Dan Dougherty are some of those men.

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.

Advance Review: In stores today!


Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Javier Pulido
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Johnny Destructo

This book is so much fun, I wanna take it down to the malt shop and bring it with me to go necking at look-out point.

No offense to Hickman but I think Slott should take over FF when Hickman's done, as it's clear that sonnyjim loves him some Fantastic Four. That is to say, ONLY if he stays on as ASM writer until I die. His Peter Parker is the best I've read in years, and dear lord, can I say that I LOVE his budding relationship with CSI Carlie Cooper. Don't get me wrong, I loved MJ just as much as the other guy, unless of course, said other guy happens to be Joey Q...but this pairing just makes sense from a writing standpoint. Nothing against supermodels, well ok, mostly against supermodels, but putting Petey in a relationship with a woman who makes a living putting together clues? Brilliant.

Of course, that being said, I think they could sexy her up just a touch. As the issue opens in Peter's bedroom, Parker and Carlie are preparing to get. it. ON. And their super sexy, totally not awkward attempt consists of starting off sitting on opposite sides of the bed in their pajamas, Carlie carefully taking off her glasses and gently setting them on the nightstand and them slowing inching towards each other. Bown Chica Wown Wown. I know, I just dropped a teaspoon in my pants too and I need to change. Seriously though, this fire needs some kindling, kiddies.

There is so much gold in this issue. Spidey's attempt at a new FF costume, his troubles at work, dinosaur wrasslin', and the mime. Good god, the mime. I feel like Slott HAD to set that whole scene in Paris, just so he could do the mime bit. This issue is also packed to the gills with so much good-timey silver agey shenanigans, it's ri-goddamn-diculous. And for the most part I HATE THE SILVER AGE. But this one takes everything fun about the S.A. and makes it modern.

Also, Javier Pulido's art is so good I wanna slap it. The line quality, the compositions, the excellent black-spotting, it's all just so damn good.

I absolutely cannot recommend this issue enough. There are no words to do it justice, but that's mostly because I have a terrible vocabulary. Buy it.


Writer: Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen
Art: Cliff Richards
Publisher: Dark Horse
Reviewer: Stanley Jimbrowski

DOLLHOUSE: EPITAPHS mostly resolves around the back story of some of the main characters in the two DOLLHOUSE “Epitaph” episodes, the first of which was never aired, in a Los Angeles where doll technology has gone viral. We get to see some of how the hellscape that dominates the “Epitaph” episodes was created and the very personal experiences of Maggie (Mag in the show) and Zone when the technology of the Dollhouse struck their lives and how they have survived so far.

The book serves as a good jumping off point for the DOLLHOUSE universe with some explanation of the technology but certainly is geared more toward someone who has at least seen some of the series. The book serves as more of a setup for the miniseries and lays the groundwork for longer plotlines.

Having been a fan of the series myself, I was glad that Mag and Zone were given more depth within the book because their appearance in “Epitaph One” on the show was certainly a bit startling and without a ton of context. Certainly, I understand that “Epitaph One” was more of a framing of the story of the Dollhouse and would have really added to the show had it ever been aired. I was sorry “Epitaphs” was not aired, as the first season lacked a context with the characters that jumped around from one engagement to another and gave us little reason to care about them. I think that airing of “Epitaphs One” would have certainly changed that, but Fox once again decided that it would get better ratings and not bother with that whole storyline thing, a la FIREFLY. This book certainly expands upon the story and even has a mainline character making an appearance.

Hey folks, Ambush Bug here with another pair of indie goodies for you to satiate your taste for something outside of the mainstream. Enjoy!,/i>

Markosia Enterprises

Part HOSTEL, part EASTERN PROMISES, SLAUGHTERMAN’S CREED is a fantastic miniseries which follows a torturer for the mob who suddenly develops a conscience and decides to save one of his pregnant victims. On his tail is a bizarre green man who is looking to replace the slaughterman and more gun toting mooks than you can shake a meathook at. This miniseries is filled with smart and quick dialog by Cy Dethan reminiscent of a Guy Richie film with tough guy talk amped to the nth degree. The story is very cinematic and unfolds patiently leading to a powerful confrontation between an evil man who is trying to redeem himself for his life of horrible acts of violence against others. The heavy drama and action is drawn wonderfully by Stephen Downey, who has an eye for cinematic angles and nice panel compositions. This is a very strong and engrossing miniseries and worth seeing out.

Ape Entertainment

Writers David Server and Jackson Lanzig introduce an eccentric group of monsters who are humanity’s last hope as the sole beautiful hero of this world of tomorrow dies in battle. In his place, a team of misfit monsters decide to play hero even though their appearance may cause more screams than heroic sighs of relief. I love the cast of characters, from the bounding Critter to the hulking Stronghold to the decaying Rot to the ghost-like Fog and the insanity of Psychosis. All of these characters are iconically designed with superpowers just as unique. Some of my favorite characters as a kid were the monstrous Morlocks from the UNCANNY X-MEN. FREAKSHOW definitely has that same vibe as the ugly heroes come out to play when the pretty things weren’t able to cut the mustard. Writers Server and Lanzig take their time revealing who’s who and what’s what here, preferring to leap right into the action and let the reader catch up later. This is an interesting route to go with a big cast of characters to get to know in the first issue, but by the end of the issue, I was able to catch up to speed on the names and powers of the cast. Issue two does a great job of delving deeper into each of the character’s personalities and seeing how they work off of one another. The humanity brought to Critter is nicely done and gives the reader a good character to latch onto as the new eyes to this world and this story. Art by Joe Suitor is yet another nice element to this series. His vivid panels are rich with depth, action, and nice angles, plus again, the character design of these freaks are fantastic. Highly recommended.

Marvel Comics

Is it me, or has Quasar become a whiny bitch? Man, the guy needs to get laid or something because his lack of confidence is in the basement. I understand there needs to be a voice of modesty in this cast of powerhouses, but Lanning and Abnett should look back a bit on Gruenwald’s excellent QUASAR series to see that by the end of the series, Wendell Vaughan became a pretty confident, albeit modest, hero. That aside, so far, this series has been fun seeing these Alpha Level heroes ram into one another. The story is fun in that it acknowledges that the team has a few too many powerhouses in its roster and that’s a hard thing to coordinate (on a tactical sense and I imagine it’d be hard to do as a writer as well). It seems the writers are acknowledging their own challenges of writing about a team of this power level too. In this issue in particular, Tan Eng Huat’s art wasn’t my cup o’ joe in that the facial features are often too angular. That said, the Rocket Raccoon & Groot backup feature is the true reason to pick up this book. Every panel (drawn by the incredible Timothy Green II) oozes fun and kineticism. I still love me just about everything DNA offers, but this miniseries isn’t the best, raccoons and talking trees aside. -

Dark Horse

I find this comic to be an interesting phenomenon and am curious how the AICN crowd would perceive it given the fervor behind The Kid’s reviews we ran last year. Personally, I found the Kid’s views to be a fresh voice in a sea of jaded professionals, but other less open minded folks were unable to accept the views of a youngster to be anything valid. That kind of applies here with AXE COP, written by a six year old and with a six year old’s reasoning and sensibilities on full display in every panel. That means some things don’t make sense, random shit occurs, not everything is explained, and there’s enthusiasm in each and every panel. To me, reading AXE COP reminds me why I love comics in the first place and I’m both in awe of the concept and the phenomenon behind it. Now, will AICNers feel the same? I’d love to hear what you think below…anyone loving AXE COP yet hating on the Kid’s reviews needs to check themselves for hypocrisy. - Bug

DC Comics

So the one who is to become the White Lantern of Life is revealed in this issue. Kind of a big surprise. I like this series, but at times it felt somewhat drawn out, as if twelve issues monthly might have made for a more concise read. Now that the shit’s hitting the fan, it all feels somewhat rushed as splash pages showing multiple heroes battling a worldly menace are littered throughout this issue to imply a worldwide chaos that isn’t really happening much in other DC comics. I’ve seen these panels of multi-heroism too many times to be impressed by it and Ivan Reis, while a strong artist, doesn’t pack the punch a George Perez might have delivered had he drawn them. Even the core characters of this book (Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, the Hawks) get very little to do other than appear as the new symbolic elementals and charge into battle. I liked specific issues of this series, but as it comes to a close, it feels more like a necessary story for returning folks like the mystery White Lanetern, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, the Hawks, Capt. Boomerang, etc. to a status quo rather than an entertaining one. I’m looking more forward to what this series will mean for the future of these characters than the book itself. That said, Johns shows where his true interest lies in the too few scenes of awesomeness with Captain Boomerang. Those were the highlight of the issue. - Bug

Marvel Comics

I didn’t really get into SKAAR’s last series. After the Hulk left Sakaar, I had very little interest in the alien world. But plop the Son of Hulk into the middle of the Savage Land, rich with Marvel history, and you’ve got my attention. I haven’t read anything from Rob Williams before (or if I have, I don’t remember it), but here he delivers a really nice intro to the character along with a delectable cast of characters for Skaar’s gruff attitude to bounce off of. With this seeming to be Ka-Zar and Shanna’s book as much as Skaar’s, I was surprised at how entertained I was by this first issue. The challenges being set into place for Skaar to hulk out on are equally impressive as a certain red dinosaur and what looks to be a certain pterodactylian foe makes their return. Brian Ching & Rick Ketcham deliver a great looking book with crisp characters and colossal dino-action filled panels. I didn’t think I’d be saying this, but I can’t wait to read the next issue. - Bug

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

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