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Issue # 35 Release Date: 11/16/11 Vol.#10
The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
X-23 #17
AICN COMICS Podcast #4


Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler

I’ve mentioned before that over the past few years I found myself straying away from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Pretty much since the insanity of “Brand New Day” started I just lost interest and it wasn’t until the recent “Spider Island” storyline that I started to enjoy reading it again. With the newest entry of issue #674 we have the events of “Spider Island” finally at a close and a new arc beginning that looks even more promising than the last.

Dan Slott has really earned his role as AMAZING SPIDER-MAN’s sole writer, and for good reason. The man just gets how to write a good Spidey story. “Spider Island” was a fun return to seeing Peter Parker’s heroics put on display in a situation where his powers were not an advantage, but instead the norm. The story forced the reader to see that Peter has always been the hero behind the mask and it’s his personality that is what has made SPIDER-MAN one of Marvel’s greatest heroes of all time. Slott also used “Spider Island” to “clean up the mess” that AMAZING SPIDER-MAN had found itself in over the past few years. Slott seemed to use the story as a metaphor for the whole series itself. A mess of stuff happening, characters all over the place, but once the dust settled we seem to be getting back to basics. I think it was best represented last issue when Peter said (upon learning from Dr. Strange his identity can be figured out by people again as there’s no more ridiculous magic spells protecting this from happening) “ So I’m back to square one”. I think it was Slott’s nod to the fans saying “don’t worry, The SPIDER-MAN you know and love is back and he’s not going anywhere as long as I’m writing it”. That subtle hidden promise was made good with issue #674, as in just one issue removed from “Spider Island” all seems to be back to normal in the SPIDER-MAN world.

One thing Slott does add to Spidey’s NYC in this issue is a little darkness to the new arc. Not in a “desperately trying to be like Batman darkness” way, but instead he shows NYC can be a very dangerous place and preps us for a new story where one of Spidey’s oldest (quite literally) foes will be bringing him grief in the near future. He manages it well as he paints the city and villains a little darker yet keeping SPIDER-MAN as witty and fun as ever.

As far as the artwork goes, it’s nothing bad but at times can be a little bland in comparison to Slott’s great work with the story. After a successful run on “Spider Island” for Humberto Ramos (and Stefano Caselli for the epilogue) on the art, Giuseppe Camuncoli takes over and although I wasn’t 100% crazy for Ramos’ sometimes over-the-top manga style, I would have much preferred Caselli to stay on as he did a great job with the last issue. Camuncoli draws Spidey very well but other moments (like a brief appearance by Kingpin) left me wishing Caselli stayed on even more.

What we have right now with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is a serious return to form. I’m thrilled to say that the book that originally got me into reading comics as a kid is back to delivering solid, fun stories of one of the most likeable characters ever created. I can’t wait to see how this storyline fleshes out and between this book and the fantastic work being done on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, I think it’s safe to say that the SPIDER-MAN legacy is in good hands and we’re all in for some great stories to come.

You can follow The Writing Rambler on his blog here and follow on Twitter @Writing_Rambler !


Writer: Mark Kidwell
Art: Jeff Zornow and Jay Fotos
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewed by: superhero

I love zombies. I don’t care what anyone says. I never get tired of ‘em. I love them to death. I know people out there keep complaining that there are too many zombie projects out there but to them I say, “screw off!” I love zombies, dammit!

Now just because I love zombies doesn’t mean I love every zombie project out there. Truth to tell, I’ve been a little bit bored of late with everyone’s favorite zombie comic/TV show WALKING DEAD. Yeah, I think Robert Kirkman is a great comic writer, but jeez louise there’s just not enough zombie goodness in that book to sustain my craving for good ol’ fashioned zombie madness.

This is why I’m always on the lookout for new zombie movies, comics, or books. Truth to tell, eight times out of ten anything I find zombie related tends to just suck. Most of ‘em are just excuses for badly done gore without any real juice to the story or the characters within. A lot of the zombie stuff out there just tends to lack, um, bite for lack of a better word.

’68 HARDSHIP is not one of those zombie projects. ’68 HARDSHIP has got plenty of bite--plenty of bite indeed.

While it’s true that ’68 HARDSHIP isn’t the most deeply moving zombie tale I’ve ever read it does deliver the goods when it come to plain ol’ crazed f#@ked up-edness. This story doesn’t really offer any overly sympathetic heroes. It’s not about one good man or group of men fighting the undead hordes. It’s more about one young man coming back from a war and dealing with the horrors in his own head while the dead begin to rise out of their graves. It’s a terrifically over the top horror tale filled with beautifully illustrated gore. It’s got rednecks and zombies and blood and…well, let’s just say it’s a zombie tale the way a short zombie tale should be told. It’s a beautifully crafted nugget of horror, a morsel of dreadfulness, a snack of shock. It went beyond my expectations and while I can’t say I actually liked any of the characters in this book I can say I loved the book itself. According to the Image Comics site there have been a bit more of these ’68 books and I’m going to have to hunt them down like a zombie hunts down braaaaiiiiins.

Thanks to the creators of ’68 HARDSHIP for showing us all that comic books about the WALKING DEAD don’t all have to end up as TALKING DEAD.

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. Some of his work can be seen at and check out his blog at You can check also out his webcomics at and, which is currently in development.


Writer: Judd Winnick
Artist: Gullem March
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

This kitty has claws, and no I don’t just mean the ones that she’s been using to rend flesh from the Russian mob types she’s been stealing from over the past few issues of CATWOMAN. She also has a set that has torn into the emotional fabric of the character and issue 3 is a sterling example that CATWOMAN is far more than cheesecake or fetish porn for the S&M set.

Don’t get me wrong, artist March has drawn some spectacular leather clad T&A throughout this series, but for all of those that have bemoaned this spectacle, I have to ask if you truly understand the nature of CATWOMAN. CATWOMAN is sex brought to life. Through every incarnation she has been a poster child for the fantasies that men have about women. Sure, past versions were more demure, but that’s looking at the character through the lens of nostalgia. In the 40’s it was a flash of ankle, because that’s what was bawdy for the time period. Today, it’s more than ankle because the societal boundaries of what’s sexy and what the media will allow to be displayed have evolved. It’s wonderful you ladies like to believe that men have heightened sensibilities or want to decry bunk at the countless studies that say we think about sex more often than we think about breathing, but make no mistake--from puberty to the grave we think about sex…A LOT!

And sex for men is a visual experience. Every time you ride us for not being more like Fabio or Edward Cullen we are looking at you in your sweats ready to buy you a bouquet of flowers and a fine French meal if you would only throw on something from Victoria’s Secret. Even in the opening of this issue, as Catwoman’s eyes are welling with tears at her murdered friend/fence, I couldn’t help but let my eyes drift downward from her eyes to her cleavage. However, I’m evolved enough to admit that while I’ll come for the cheesecake there does need to be a substantive layer to a title to keep me at the table.

This issue was the true five course meal that fans, both men and women alike, have been thirsting for since the new 52 launched. Personally, while I found the first few issues “short” (a criticism I will gladly bestow on most modern day fare, not just CATWOMAN), I still found huge nuggets of charm and soul between the more base moments of seduction and cat fights. And a huge amount of that charm came when Selina shed the cat suit and was simply talking about life with her now-worm food friend. She is a young woman with ample assets and not an ounce of fear. Show me a hot twenty-something in the real world that doesn’t take the same liberties and I’ll show you someone who has no clue that youth and beauty are assets that will one day leave us all.

However, even the most bold have days when their uppance shall come, and this is that issue. Selina quickly leaves the physical constraints of this mobster bad guy named Bone, but as we all know emotional scars are the ones that leave the most indelible impressions. Also, Winnick does a wonderful of job of showing the lines of delineation between Batman and Catwoman. As Selina looks to extract justice by bludgeoning Bone to death when he is mid-lapdance, Batman of course arrives to save the day. Even Catwoman’s passion for Batman, though, does not sway her cavalier attitude towards ensuring that justice is delivered Hammurabi style. In mid embrace with a flick of her wrist she tries to bullwhip Bone off of the ledge of the building where she was bludgeoning him.

The last moments of the book were my favorite. Yes, I got my base kumbayayas from her kicking ass while scantily clad and a heaping dose of mammary during the strip club scene, but even pigs aspire for a deeper meaning. This deeper meaning came as Selina starts shedding any proof of her existence from her friend’s apartment before Johnny Law arrives. It was during this time you see the burden of the life she has chosen. When most of us have friends that pass, we at least have the proof of their existence to hold on to in the form of photographs and other such worldly baubles and trinkets. Not Catwoman; everything in her life must be transitory because of the path she has chosen.

I don’t believe in any sacred cows when it comes to comics. Times change, mores change, comics change. I find the debate on the virtues of Starfire laughable, but I can understand the outrage from a logical standpoint--especially for those unwashed masses that consider the Cartoon Network as canon. However, when these same people want to place the same morality on Catwoman I have to wonder if they have ever read a comic book, or at least one that was written after my grandparents got married. The dance between Catwoman and Batman has always been a fiery tango, not a prim and proper waltz. For this dance to work she must be the ultimate femme fatale, a woman who oozes as much sexuality as she does competence. I say mission accomplished, DC.

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-2012 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.


Writers: Erik Larsen, Alan Weiss, Chris Burnham, Paul Maybury, Terry Austin, Adam McGovern, Herb Trimpe, Joe Keatinge, B. Clay Moore
Artists: Erik Larsen, Alan Weiss, Chris Burnham, Paul Maybury, Terry Austin, Paolo Leandri, Herb Trimpe, Joe Keatinge, Frank Fosco
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewed by Matt Adler

The Next Issue Project, for those unfamiliar, is an idea conceived by Image Comics co-founder Erik Larsen to take series from long-departed publishers and continue them from their final issues as though this were the next issue. Comics from that era often didn’t focus on one character, instead having several different features in one issue. Enough time has elapsed that these properties, which have sat in limbo all these years, are now public domain, so they don’t need to worry about obtaining rights. What results is Larsen (who, besides working on a few of the stories, also edits the book) and a passel of creators he recruited offering their own takes on these forgotten characters. At a minimum, it’s refreshingly experimental to see creators able to work with characters who aren’t set in stone as the major publishers’ characters are. There’s also the added advantage that if you don’t like one story, well, another’s right around the corner.

This issue continues the CRACK COMICS series (one of those titles that’s unintentionally hilarious in modern times) which ran for 62 issues from 1940 to 1949, and was originally published by Quality (best known for Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters characters, which DC later bought). As explained in the introductory page, they’ve chosen to cull the best of the characters and features from over its 10-year run.

The first story features Captain Triumph, and is written and drawn by Alan Weiss (known for his Marvel work throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s). This is pretty much a straight-up homage to the square-jawed Golden Age heroes of years gone by, complete with an evil villain with a funny accent. The artwork is well-rendered, and fits the tone of the story, which can be enjoyed on a tongue-in-cheek level.

The second story stars the Space Legion, written and drawn by Chris Burnham (OFFICER DOWNE, BATMAN INC.). The Space Legion seems to be sort of a quick response military unit who fly spaceships and defend the planet against threats, but that’s almost beside the point here. The story doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense, but it’s probably not supposed to; just read it as an adventure serial in an “all your base belong to us” style, and it sort of works.

The next tale, featuring The Clock, written and drawn by Paul Maybury (Popgun), makes even less sense. I presume, given that The Clock is a time-themed character, the story is meant to be jumbled out of chronological order, but to be honest, it isn’t intriguing enough to make the effort to piece it together. If you’re going to make your story hard to read, you need to give the reader a reason to go to the trouble. The art is nice enough to look at though, in a style reminiscent of Paul Grist.

Famed inker Terry Austin stretches his creative muscles by both writing and pencilling a Molly The Model one-pager. Molly, as you might expect, is very much in the tradition of Marvel’s better known Millie The Model, or even the girls of Archie Comics. It’s a silent gag strip, and it’s well-played; Austin sets up the gag and executes it efficiently all in the space of one page. Based on what we see here, I’d definitely like to see more of him writing and drawing his own humor comic.Indie creators Adam McGovern and Paolo Leandri, known for their DOCTOR ID series, get a crack at Alias The Spider, a hero who could be a prototypical dark and mysterious urban avenger if it weren’t for the fact that he chases criminals around in yellow shorts with a bow and arrow. Still, McGovern and Leandri make the most of what they have here, setting up an intriguing tale of loss of identity and questioning of reality. They even manage to work in some sly references to their own Doctor Id.

Herb Trimpe (INCREDIBLE HULK) takes on Spitfire, a strip about a team of WW2-era pilots who take on secret and dangerous missions. My one gripe about this tale is that it takes a little too much time setting up the team before the mission gets underway, but other than that, it’s an exciting and believable war tale, with a promising set-up should Trimpe, a military veteran and pilot himself, ever want to do more with these characters.

Joe Keatinge (POPGUN) provides a two-page short starring Slap Happy Pappy. Like Molly The Model, it’s meant to be a gag strip, but Keatinge opts to forgo the straight humorous wrote, and instead this strip is a little sad, taking what appears to be a folksy, good-natured character and using him to comment on the empty lures of Hollywood, something many comic creators have a familiarity with.

Erik Larsen writes and draws Hack O’Hara, the adventures of a big city cabbie with a knack for finding himself in bizarre forms of trouble. This story is sort of a gag in and of itself, as Hack finds himself attacked by a monster from the future before being rescued by a member of the aforementioned Space Legion. The punchline is that Hack has saved the world, but his cab is wrecked, and nobody can help him with that. It’s cute, but I honestly have a hard time imagining this working as an ongoing feature. Maybe a comic book version of “Taxicab Confessions”?

The final tale, The Red Torpedo, is written by B. Clay Moore (HAWIIAN DICK) and drawn by Frank Fosco (TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES) and Erik Larsen. It’s a silent story, but you can pick up the narrative easily enough; The Red Torpedo is now an old man, floating in the middle of the ocean on his high-tech watercraft, apparently enjoying retirement until he gets a distress call which launches him into action. There’s not much more to it than that, but it’s cute, with an explicit nod to its “Old Man And The Sea” riff.

Not every story in this book was a winner, but some piqued my appetite for more, and it’s nice to get such an eclectic sampling. I don’t know if the current marketplace would support it, but I am definitely in favor of more anthology books that give creators the freedom to try out new approaches and new concepts.

Matt Adler is a writer/journalist, currently writing for AICN among other outlets. He’s been reading comics for 20 years, writing about them for 7, and spends way, way, too much time thinking about them, which means he really has no choice but to figure out how to make a living out of them. He welcomes all feedback.

X-23 #17

Writer: Marjorie Liu
Art: Sana Takeda
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy

Babysitting Is Awesome.

Or doing it for the Fantastic Four is. Dealing with dinosaurs really does add something to the general mood. Liu and Takeda's take on the atypical "babysitter misadventure" is entertaining throughout, being clever while still managing to progress the characters. While there are some problems, it's definitely a strong issue of a now-doomed series, begging the question: why was X-23 on the chopping board?

Writing: (4/5) Something has to be said for a script that is both entertaining beyond all belief and still manages to keep its consistency from before. Laura manages to leave fantastic impressions with very little dialogue, but it's because what she does say sounds realistic and deliberate. It hints towards her inner ideals, which are always apparent. The settings and scenes between Reed, Sue, and the Franklin children are great. Liu can write the interplay between the family well, and knows the perfect balance between the fantastic and mundane that makes a good Fantastic Four civilian scene. The dialogue never falters here; neither does the characterization. I do have one problem with all that: Hellion. He's the one weak link. Now, to be fair, I am not a fan of Hellion. At all. And his scene, while one of the better scenes with him, further launches him into "Ineffective Angsty Teen" mode, a mode I hate even more. Liu doesn't make him any more interesting, which is its only real misstep.

Art: (4/5) Takeda, throughout the issue, manages to impress on a regular basis. He styles everything well, making everyone stand out easily. There is a certain distinction between the designs of Laura, Wolverine, Gambit, Hellion, etc. etc., that helps. Everyone looks well and like themselves. The opening conversation is well done and expressive when it needs to be. Large set pieces (such as the conclusion) are well done, but not very expansive. There's not terribly much in terms of what's shown, and it leaves too little behind. The fight scene just feels like a tease - we get the set up and the conclusion, with no real ideas of what happened. It feels a little empty.

Best Moment: I love when writers remember the Richards children are just that: children. Liu is great here.

Worst Moment: And not so much during Hellion's bit.

Overall: (4/5) I gave this book a go, thanks to the positive response I've seen it get. Just off of this, I wish this series wasn't being cancelled. This is a good team for the series, and I wish it would stay.


Writer: Brandon M. Easton
Art: Scott Kester/Ryo Kawakami
Publisher: Arcana Studios
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler

Mechs (check), vampires (check), futuristic setting (check),corrupt government ( check), church conspiracies (check and double check)...the themes explored in Arcana’s new graphic novel SHADOWLAW are like a grocery list for all things loved and embraced by different parts of geek culture. Normally I’d roll my eyes at a story that encompasses so many different ideas because I’d assume it was just something presented at a board meeting to mash a ton of stuff that people like into one story to cash in on our loyalty to these themes. Happily, though, in SHADOWLAW these ideas are used out of love for the subject and it makes for a unique and fun adventure unlike anything I’ve read in a while.

Writer Brandon M. Easton (currently working as a writer on the Cartoon Network’s THUNDERCATS series) crafts a truly unique story here that takes place roughly around the year 2300. It’s a future where a one world government known as the New Earth Alliance rules with an Iron fist and a theocracy led by the Catholic Church is the main player behind the scenes. The book follows a loyal soldier named Rictor Caesaro and the fall from grace he must deal with as one decision on the battlefield gets him to a life sentence in a swamp prison. What he experiences while imprisoned brings him to question all that he has ever known. Questions of loyalty and blind faith are presented for the reader to explore in a setting that embraces many classic story elements while putting a truly unique spin on them. I had a lot of fun reading this and despite all of the different aspects included, Easton lovingly creates a world where they all exist and work well. You can see his passion for the medium on display and his ability to easily combine the world of mechs and vampires is just one example of how promising this series’ future can be.

The artwork is handled by Scott Kester and Ryo Kawakami and they create a perfect backdrop for the story being told. Watching the action when the mechs are fighting is really well done and I love the design of the vampire tech that is used as well. There is also a great Borg-like quality to the inner sanctum of the church’s highest members where the protagonist’s fate is first decided early in the book that I’d love to see more of in future installments.

I can’t recommend SHADOWLAW enough as it’s a true love letter to so many different genres that I can never get enough of. There are several twists and turns that carry you through the book and as it ends you’re left looking very forward to what’s ahead for Caesaro’s journey. With each page turn you can just see through the world he creates that Easton really does care about the content he is presenting and has a desire to grow this universe much more in the future. After years of working on this to bring this book to life, I hope he gets the chance as I am very curious to see what fate holds for Rictor Caesaro and the rest of the SHADOWLAW universe.

You can find out more about SHADOWLAW on Easton’s Podcast and the Diamond order code for this book is SEP110748!


Writers: Matt Frank and Jeff Prezenkowski
Art: Matt Frank
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: superhero

It’s a bit rare these days when you read a modern comic that reminds you of your childhood. When I was a kid I would wait in crazed anticipation for Saturday afternoons. On Saturday afternoons one of the local New York stations (WPIX I think) would air GODZILLA movies every once in a while. They weren’t always on, but if you were lucky enough you’d be home that one time when the station would be playing a classic Godzilla flick and you’d be able to just zone out in front of the TV and bask in all the glorious giant monster destruction.

Years went by and I lived with those fond memories of Godzilla and his kaiju counterparts. It wasn’t until I was an adult and a friend gave me a GODZILLA DVD boxed set as a birthday present that I really got a chance to sit down and check out those GODZILLA flicks I loved as a boy, and holy cow was I disappointed. There must be something about a child’s mind that just edits what it wants out of certain experiences because I could not believe how boring I found them. I seemed to remember a whole lot more monster smackdowns happening in those movies and I just couldn’t believe how much more the movies focused on the people trying to stop the monsters than I recalled. I think as a child I just took anything that was sci-fi so seriously that I didn’t enjoy the kitsch factor of the movies as much as I should have. Of course now, as an adult, I enjoy those giant kaiju flicks on a whole other level whenever I actually get a chance to see them, but it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that twinge of nostalgia I felt for the Godzilla features I’d watch as a kid.

Now I’m not going to say that GODZILLA LEGENDS actually lives up to the excitement I had for the big G when I was little--nothing can do that. But it is a fun read and reminded me what it was about those old movies that made me enjoy them so much. Sure, much of the book does deal with those silly humans trying to stop a rampaging monster. Sure, the story takes itself somewhat seriously from the get-go. But there’s something about this first issue of GODZILLA LEGENDS that’s just…entertaining. And fun.

It’s not a perfect book. I thought the coloring was a bit muddled at first, but as I read the book it actually grew on me. The art was a bit too manga-esque for me in the beginning but, again, I actually grew to like it as I continued to read it. So I guess, despite any misgivings I had about it as I started to read it, GODZILLA LEGENDS actually won me over. As a matter of fact, it’s got me interested in possibly seeking out other Godzilla comic books. Heck, I think I’ll go fire up MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA on Netflix as soon as I get the chance.


Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Eddie Barrows
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

As with many a comic book-related site, we here in the @$$hole cadre have done a lot of discussion on the ramifications, necessity, call it what you will of the whole DC New 52 sweep. And in these extensive talks I have been somewhat repetitious in my opinion that while I do not necessarily agree a “reboot” was in order, I felt that someone needed to hit some sort of refresh button on mainstream comics. I also fully felt that way about the Batman aspect of the DC Universe as, if there is any way you could label me a fanboy when it comes to comics, it is that I love me some Batman family titles. So far, say what you will about this reboot in its superfluousness or excessiveness or what have you, but the Bat family has seen a boon from it.

This brings me to Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing, whom I also thought could use a bit of a refresh. Not that he exactly had anything terrible happen to him or that he was being misused or anything, at least compared to some of the shenanigans that have gone down in the Batman titles the past few years. But I think the essence of Dick Grayson’s character is that of one trying to live out of the Bat’s shadow (though can never seem to avoid it) and that of being his own man. Sure, it’s nice to see him take on the mantle of the Bat every so often so as to show how badass he can be and how he can play with the big boys, but I think Dick works best when he’s showing his independence and living his life as much as he can when you’re the first of Batman’s line of protégés, a la the classic Chuck Dixon run that really defined this role. Cue Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows.

Higgins picks up on all of what I just laid out there and, more specifically, that Dixon and even the Tomasi runs of this book set for the character. You have a twenty-something guy trained by the biggest masochist of them all, he’s got exuberance and confidence on his side, and he’s trying to live out his own thirst for justice without letting it dominate him. Having a “real” life is the best way to handle that last part, and Higgins has done well to choose the first “home” he ever really had – the circus he grew up and performed in - and bring it back in a big way into his life. It’s a good anchor for him in some regards, an emotional dagger in others given the memory of his folks and a love interest from the past that Higgins has thrown into the mix. This will especially be fun given the latest issue of BATGIRL and her reinvigorated involvement in that aspect of Dick’s life now that she’s active again. I know it’s a little “will-they-won’t-they” drama-ish, but at least it’s not actively brooding.

While I love what Higgins is doing here with grounding Dick more back into a real life and one that has deep roots with him, I will admit I’m not exactly buying into new deadly opponent, Saiko, and the setup for why he’s being hunted and why it even involves the circus and Mr. Haley, who ran the group. Right now the end justifies the means as far as how it has Dick involved in that world again and has, at least for the time being, a new nemesis to hound him (which he really hasn’t had since facing down Blockbuster in his Bludhaven days) but the circumstances feel…eh, we’ll go with “contrived.” Still, we’re getting some good emotional bits and some interesting character relationships and interactions at play here and the book really moves between the punchy bits for it all.

And to close up, as I like to do, let’s talk art--more specifically, how great a job Eddie Barrows is doing on this book. I always liked his style and it works especially well here. There’s a lot of movement in his figures and panel spreads, and given the more acrobatic flair that Dick has (and add more praise to Mr. Barrows for giving Dick a more lithe, gymnast build than your standard superhero beefiness) it’s a perfect fit. And he has a good command on his expressions and emotional range, which I also think is a necessity for a NIGHTWING title, as his life tends to have its upward and downward swings. So far, honestly, that has summed up these first three issues pretty well, given the history at play and the attitude Dick mostly tries to uphold for himself. Hopefully my relatively minor quibble pans out, but from what I’ve seen here, everything that makes Nightwing a good character and a readable title is in play here. Chalk this one up as another feather in the hat of the New 52 and, particularly, the Batman family titles, of which there are already quite a few noteworthy plumes.

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 blog 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.


Writer: Eric Grissom
Artist: Phil Sloan
Publisher: Self-published
Reviewer: Lyzard

Is it sad that any time I hear or read BLANK Horse, I think of Bad Horse from DR. HORRIBLE? I was afraid when I started DEAD HORSE #1.1 that I wouldn’t be able to get that catchy little ditty out of my head. But seeing as there are no horses, dead or alive, in the comic, that wasn’t a problem. You find out that Dead Horse is a town in Alaska (a real location for those interested) and the mystery surrounding this location sounds as dark as the town’s name.

Our story begins in another Alaskan location: Denali set 1877. A search party led by a Mr. Gadsworth. In an abandoned camp, they find a box labeled “DAMU ABI LU” in the hands of Mr. Gadsworth’s father. After prying the box from his dad’s cold, dead hands (a scene that reminded me greatly of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN’s intro), the camp is burned down. Flash forward to present day Anchorage, Alaska. Mr. Pike receives an odd letter from his dad--odd because his father has been dead for forty years. Along with the letter came a key, and it is this key that turns Mr. Pike into a target.

I’ve spent some time in Alaska myself, mainly in Anchorage, but I have been to Denali before. However, I have never traveled as far north as Dead Horse, nearly the northernmost part of the largest state in the USA. It is months of darkness and biting cold winds. You’ve gotta toughen up to live there. Mr. Pike hasn’t. He is introduced debating about how to handle a tiny cockroach problem. As he talks with the bug, Mr. Pike is unsure how to handle his predicament. Either way he sees it, freeing it or crushing it, involves touching it. Not gonna happen. When you have a reluctant hero, you need events to push him further. Unsettling mail and freaky neighbors should do it.

I knew the artwork looked familiar but I never expected this. The latest work of Phil Sloan I had seen was his version of Spaceman Spiff ala CALVIN AND HOBBES. The drawings are as different as Eric Grissom’s writing. Dark with a wit, Grissom’s words combined with Sloan’s depictions are a perfect pair like Alaskan King Crab and melted butter.

I’m not sure exactly what is to come, but if the preview for the next issue is significant, then the series will only get weirder. I mean, what else could humans with crows’ heads mean?

Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a senior screenwriting major with an English minor at Chapman University. Along with writing for AICN, she has been published twice on the subject of vampire films.


Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Geraldo Borges
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #3 is basically one giant 20 page fight between the Corps and a new enemy that is being slowly (and I mean very slowly) revealed over these first 3 issues, with a few brief stops for some story movement. I don’t dislike the issue as it’s clearly just the action-packed center of a larger story, but I did feel there was so much action that it really took away from any chance this issue had of progressing the story further. Overall still a fun read, but in reality this issue just leaves you wanting much more as it didn’t fill in much from the last.

Peter J. Tomasi is great on GREEN LANTERN CORPS and I’ve always appreciated this book because it’s the one GREEN LANTERN title where we get to see the GL universe in all its sci-fi glory. With GL CORPS you get all of the weird and cool side characters you don’t get to enjoy in the main title, and there’s always exploration of far out worlds instead of just Hal Jordan’s numerous stories on Earth. I’m a sucker for the GREEN LANTERN CORPS extended cast of characters and in that sense this issue definitely doesn’t disappoint. You get to see many Lanterns I don’t ever recall having seen before answering a distress call from Guy Gardner and John Stewart, who have been battling a new group of enemies who seemingly have an immunity to the power of will. There is a ton of interest piqued in me to see exactly who this army of will power-fueled robot monsters are, but my main problem is that I had already had this interest since the last issue. Sure we have a great battle issue, but having to wait a month for it didn’t really seem worth it. That coupled with a formerly unknown Lantern just happening to have an extremely useful power made me feel like even though I still enjoyed it, Tomasi kind of phoned this issue in (though to Tomasi’s credit, in this one issue he made me both like and care for the fate of this one Lantern despite how his unique ability was just way too convenient). It was almost as though he knew this was going to be just a battle issue so he didn’t feel the need to really push the story forward through the battle, instead just waiting till the next issue to progress. The art in the issue (handled this go round by Geraldo Borges) is good as well and I especially enjoyed the fun he had creating a splash page of Lanterns coming in as the Calvary to save the day.

As I said earlier, this issue is wall to wall action and you can’t really blame it for being so. The overall story needed a big action sequence, it’s just despite everything in the issue that happens we’re pretty much left in the same place as when it starts, with the exception of some of the characters having been moved around geographically. Even at its worst, though, it’s still a ton of fun and I think when read in a collected volume at some point down the road, this issue will sit a lot better with me. For now, though, I’ll be sitting around waiting till next issue when hopefully the story will progress and we’re given some real info as to what is going on with this new threat the GREEN LANTERN CORPS are facing.


Writer & Artist: Jonathan Case
Publisher: TOR
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

DEAR CREATURE is the smartest, most heart-wrenching and just plain fun indie I have read all year. Actually, strike those words. Case has actually created an indelible piece of work that deserves more than mere “indie” status. This story of a mutant sea creature with a physical appetite for flesh and a soul that reaps its sustenance from the words of the immortal bard surpasses even those books with scads of production dollars supporting them.

DEAR CREATURE is one part 1950’s B-monster movie, like “Plan 9” or “50-Foot Woman,” then infused with language that is only revered by college professors and guys (or gals) that want to bang college theater or poetry majors, and finally all stirred together with a modern sensibility that shows just how ridiculous this combination would be if it wasn’t all so damn good together.

Case achieves this seemingly impossible feat of glory by remembering that if the characters believe the story the audience will gladly come along for the ride. The setting is a seaside town mirrored after the time period when America was waking up from its innocence of the Ike era. It’s a time when America was beginning to recognize its sexuality, without ever becoming too graphic. The “Beach Blanket Bingo” period, when we were all fucking, but the scene always faded to black before penetration. Each character in this town is the living embodiment of that time: the crazy kid who really thinks a kid can hunt down a monster, the salty cop ready to retire, the dumb rookie, the town crazy woman and her ”floozy” sister and of course the couples that serve as the creature’s feast.

Then there’s the Creature. Here is where a fun homage to a forgotten time that by itself would be derivation skyrockets to originality. Our Creature in question does have an insatiable appetite for the flesh of young lovers, but his monstrous desire is starkly juxtaposed with a soul that is leagues deeper than his culinary desires. Alone at the bottom of the sea, our Creature imbibes messages in a bottle that are pages torn from the words of the immortal bard. It’s through these pages that the Creature finds his connections to the world above and forms the iambic patterns of speech that made the works of Shakespeare so indelible that he is the only writer most people can remember from ye olden times. And to Case’s credit, not once does he waver in the Creature’s speech pattern; each bubble of utterance from the Creature’s mouth stays true to iambic pentameter no matter what the situation.

Now for those of us that hypothetically spent most of the 90s as a theater major and found the words of the bard an exercise in Machiavellian torture by our professors, there is a Greek chorus of crustaceans that serve as the creature’s shoulder angels and devils and as the reader’s escape hatch away from this flowery form of thought. They speak like jive hep cats, but also bring an air of cynicism to the proceedings that’s as modern as iPads and blogging. They are simply hilarious and help ground the Creature every time it looks like his romantic soul will deny them the scraps of a sun tanned beach beauty.

There’s one scene in particular where I laughed out loud, something I haven’t done in a long time with a graphic novel. In one dream sequence a jellyfish Maitre D’ goes through the menu items of people for Creature’s eating pleasure. From chess club to cheerleader to the special ed kids that come already shelled of their helmets, there isn’t one bastion of beach archetype that isn’t blended with a Julia Childs recipe. All the while the crustaceans egg on the salivary glands of our Creature. As he tries to fight desire they guide him in an altruistic tone that is more thinly veiled than the film of flesh covering our Creature’s exposed brain.

I generally abhor spoilers, but with DEAR CREATURE the joy of the piece is not found in the plot. It’s the moments inside each plot point that will make you laugh, cry and sit on the edge of your seat. You see, DEAR CREATURE is really a love story. Even the object of Creature’s affections is named Giulietta. Like Romeo and Juliet these star crossed lovers come from different worlds. But instead of beings separated by name they are separated by species. Giulietta is a shut in, an agoraphobic of the highest order living with her sister on a dry docked boat for the past thirty years. Her only connection to the outside world is the bottled messages she sends and receives from Creature. On a late night hunt Creature discovers the source of his bottled messages and sends an entire town into uproar as he tries to woo his love…oh, and as he continues to devour his particular flavor of sun tan oil seafood. The townspeople are as delightful as the primary players in this story, each embodying an “Innocence in America” stereotype that are shown just long enough to move the plot forward, but never linger or belabor the proceedings.

My words can’t do DEAR CREATURE justice; this book simply must be experienced to be believed. I am truly pained that I let DEAR CREATURE fester in my inbox for as long as I did. Case’s writing is top notch and that same juxtaposition that makes the writing wonderful also transcends to the art. Despite Creature’s blood thirsty ways, Case draws Creature with a youthful almost child-like exuberance. Ever see the sheer joy of a three year old on Christmas morning chow down on a prom Queen? Well, you will in DEAR CREATURE.

If you or someone in your life loves comics, Shakespeare, schlocky movies or nostalgia for a forgotten era of cinema, DEAR CREATURE is calling you into the murky depths of its greatness.


Hey folks, Ambush Bug here. The below hour-long conversation took place between myself, Matt Adler, and our host Johnny Destructo of as we talked about JUSTICE LEAGUE #3, X-FACTOR #227, WONDER WOMAN #3, AVENGERS #19, RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #3, and other bits of general jack@$$$ery!

Looks for more of the Holes rambling about comics on Poptards in future AICN COMICS columns!


Happy Thanksgiving to all…
and to all a good turkey!

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

Remember, if you have a comic book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.

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