|Issue #57||Release Date: 4/25/12||Vol.#10|
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: EARTH 2 #1
AVENGERS VS X-MEN: VERSUS #1
Advance Review: X-O MANOWAR #1
FUBAR: THE DEVIL’S DANCE FLOOR FCBD
Advance Review: MIND THE GAP #1
TRANSFORMERS: AUTOCRACY #1-6
Advance Review: DIAL H #1
Advance Review: WORLD’S FINEST #1
GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK #2
Advance Review: In stores today!
EARTH 2 #1Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Nicola Scott
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Bold, new, inventive and yet rife with reverence for all that has come before. For my money the TRUE New 52 starts here.
Where JUSTICE LEAGUE felt like a long yawn, a surprise beginning that was a slow decrescendo to the finish line, EARTH 2 is a surprise scream--it demands attention from beginning to end and doesn’t let go even after the last page. I love a book that is so engaging, surprising and beautiful that I’m really really excited to see what’s next. It’s rare these days.
All right, so what’s the deal? Basically, it’s a bait and switch. Think back to the last arc in JUSTICE LEAGUE, ratchet up the peril and consequence to 11, subtract the cutesy quips, and revel in the holy trinity fighting their last battle ever against Darkseid’s forces. That’s right, kids--don’t get too used to Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman on Earth 2: they make the ultimate sacrifice so a new legion of heroes can rise up…starting with the familiar faces of Alan Scott and Jay Garrick.
Alan Scott is a multibillionaire media mogul and Jay a lovelorn kid that just got dumped by his college girlfriend. I don’t know why, but I love the golden-silver flip-flop. But make no mistake, this ain’t your granddad’s JUSTICE SOCIETY: these guys are in present day, and with that all of the mores and values of the time. Scott doesn’t have his powers yet, and I won’t exactly spoil how Jay gets his; suffice to say, though, it has nothing to do with science and all to do with a far more Golden Age take on super hero origins.
To add the delicious icing to this perfect cake, we get the origin of Power Girl and Huntress in this issue before they make their boom tube jump to Earth One’s WORLD’S FINEST.
Nicola Scott (no relation) should get an Eisner for this issue. Every moment of action is kinetic; you feel like the Earth is really ending. The moments before Jay Garrick got his powers were made all the more poignant because of Scott’s flair for expression, and the splash pages are crisp and awe inspiring.
Kudos to Robinson, Scott and DC: I am now a permanent resident of EARTH 2.
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.
AVENGERS VS X-MEN: VERSUS #1Writer: Jason Aaron/Kathryn Immonen
Art: Adam Kubert/Stuart Immonen
Publiher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler
So last week I was talking about how much I’m enjoying Batman’s “Court of Owls” event and I started by saying I felt it was better overall than what Marvel is doing with their much larger AVENGERS VS X-MEN (AVX) series. Apparently Marvel decided to bait my anger further this week by throwing the dvd extra of a comic AVX VERSUS #1 in my face as if to say “you think our main event doesn’t have enough substance? Well, get a load of this”. Ohh man did this book bother me.
See, here’s the thing: a lot of people like this book for the idea of “it is what it says it is”. Nowhere does Marvel claim this is some masterpiece of storytelling; in fact, they spend pretty much the entire inside cover/title page having a Q&A session with the reader addressing just how much of a crappy book this limited series is set out to be. Many may see this as honest advertising and a breath of fresh air, but to me it’s just the biggest dog in the yard gloating that they’r e taking its fans’ money (and yes, in my eyes dogs can gloat). This book is all punching and no substance and it’s more than happy about being that. Normally I’d have no problem with that type of entertainment. I often find myself enjoying brainless punchfests the likes of a Michael Bay movie, but there’s something about this book that just bothers me.
The first thing that I absolutely loathe here is the deceit issue. Now like I said, it clearly explains its “brainless punching” intent on the first page (which again is fine with me) but it’s the title alone that really seems like a cheap move to me. You’ve got the main book, AVENGERS VS X-MEN, and then you have this book AVENGERS VS X-MEN VERSUS. Who in their right mind uses the word “versus” more than once in the title of their book? I’ll tell you who: a company who knows no matter how crappy the product is, they’ll be able to cash in on name recognition alone. Marvel’s not stupid--it’s a big time for them. The “Avengers” film is already dominating overseas, and come this Friday every kid in America will be looking for something with the word Avengers on it to lay claim to. The AVX event is a success for them, so why not just repeat the name and maybe drum up some extra sales from people who may not know the difference between this and the main book (clearly idiots, but idiots spending their money nonetheless)? Marvel, in all its dominance of popular culture over the past several years, has continuously forgotten about its longtime fans when it comes to big events. It seems like its only goals are to make big numbers and get mainstream headlines. I can admire this from a business standpoint and hope and dream I’ll be in such a position someday to make a similar douchey move (which I fully hope someone would call me out on as well) to further my success, but nonetheless, a douchey move.
My second and bigger issue here is the cost of this book. $3.99 for less than 20 pages (I counted 16 actual pages of action, but I’m reading digitally so I’m not sure if print had a page or 2 more) of no story at all. That’s a premium price for a book that openly admits that it’s nothing more than expanded fight scenes from the actual AVX event. There’s just no excuse for that price tag. Recently, with the first issue of the actual AVX event, Marvel had the idea to release its new attempt at digital production, Marvel infinite, alongside issue one. You could purchase this short story about Nova’s place in AVX #1 for 99 cents as a solo book digitally or it was included with the first issue of AVX for free. I thought this was a cool way to introduce their new technology as well as expanding the story and at a fair price. What they’ve done here with this VERSUS series is the complete opposite. This is a plain and simple cash grab and no one should waste $3.99 on it.
Since I don’t want it to seem like I just wrote this in a bad mood or something I will say one nice thing about this terribly stupid book. The art, which is handled by Adam Kubert (Iron Man vs Magneto) & Stuart Immonen (Thing vs Namor) is far better than the first 2 issues of the actual event itself, which I have now invested $12 plus tax in with just 3 books. Excuse me now as I must retire to go bang my head against a wall upon this realization.
You can follow The Writing Rambler on his blog here and follow on Twitter @Writing_Rambler !
POPEYE #1Writer: Roger Langridge
Artist: Bruce Ozella
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Question: Do you like sailing, spinach, punching, laughing, or maybe all of those things but not necessarily in that order? Then you need to read Popeye #1 from IDW.
Really, this comic is that easy to review, and if you’re not a fan of any of those things then there’s probably nothing I can say that will convince you to read this book. Move along landlubbers! Fans of E.C. Segar’s original comics (available now from Fantagraphics) may have already checked this out, but if you’re new to the character and have never joined Popeye, his gal Olive Oyl, and his freeloading acquaintance Wimpy on their adventures then you’re in for a treat. Even if you’re totally unfamiliar with the story, the book does a great job of bringing you into the fold and laying out all the familiar favorites while booting you right into their latest adventure, this time as Popeye is pulled into Castor Oyl’s latest schemes to get rich quick. Olive and Wimpy tag along, and of course Bluto makes a memorable appearance with grimace, lug and shark-device in tow.
The cover, based on Superman’s first appearance in Action Comics #1 and signed “Ozella after Shuster” should immediately inform any savvy comic reader that what they’re looking at harkens back to a simpler time, specifically the Great Depression. Coincidentally, my first exposure to Popeye was from the cartoons by Fleischer studios, the same company that made those great Superman cartoons back in the day. Illustrator Bruce Ozella does a great job of capturing the kinetic energy and humor of those early cartoons, with a nice clean line and intense but simple coloring. Everyone is fully realized from Popeye launching through the air to Bluto giving someone the stink eye.
Roger Langridge is the ideal writer to revitalize Popeye’s comic tenure. Already the author of his own all-ages adventure story, “SNARKED!” is a romp on the high-seas overflowing with comedy, with a wit few other graphic works possess today thanks to its colorful cast. In SNARKED, Wilberforce J. Walrus resembles Popeye’s own friend J. Wellington Wimpy. Both share their affection for free meals and an affectation among their peers that provides simple comedic relief. For example, near the end of POPEYE #1(SPOILER ALERT) Wimpy’s optimistically poetic tangent as he drifts freely on the 9th sea leads into a fairly funny rendezvous with one of the book’s villains, and what began as a surprisingly astute meditation veers immediately into shameless marketing.
This book really benefits from a simple a structure and approach that makes it easily digestible for readers young and old. The transition from comic strip to comic page is a smooth one, as the book has a gag-a-page structure that wraps wonderfully around the yolk of the story, moving the plot along while littering the way with jokes all the time. The greatest strength of this comic is its simple execution, which creates such a seamless reading experience and opens the doors for all kinds of new readers to discover the fun on their own.
I distinctly remember watching Popeye’s version of Sinbad the Sailor as a kid and being completely engrossed in the sailor’s riveting journey deep into mysterious new lands where danger lurked around every corner. While this comic is less on the action and heavier on the laughs, it tells a simple story with a natural comedic flair and tremendous use of retro style. I’ve never read the original Segar strips but if they’re anything like this they must be worth reading.
Advance Review: In stores today!
X-O MANOWAR #1Writer: Robert Vendicci
Art: Cary Nord and Stefano Gaudiano
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Irish Rican
X-O MANOWAR #1 is the comic that relaunches the entire Valiant Comics universe. After years of waiting and months of teasing the book has finally arrived. Unlike the Mark Waid/Brian Augustyn X-O relaunch of the late nineties, this X-O MANOWAR #1 is back to basics.
In the year 402 AD Aric of Dacia and his fellow Visigoths are at war with The Romans. The latest battle in the war has just seen Aric's own father die at the Romans' hands and the fight isn't over just yet, as soldiers are spotted close to the Visigoth encampment.
What isn't known is that these soldiers aren't Romans at all but a group of aliens. Aric and his men attack but are quickly slaughtered, the survivors taken prisoner and flown into space. Aric is one of the prisoners and only cares about one thing: escape. To do so means to fight off these aliens, possibly with one of their own weapons - an alien suit of armor that picks its wearer and not vice-versa.
This relaunch of X-O pulls everything together perfectly. It brings back a character we all know and love from the nineties but does so in a way where you never had to read one previous Valiant book to get it. It brings the tone back from the original series but reimagines the universe in an 'Ultimate' way. The result is a kick ass Rob Vendicci story, phenomenal Cary Nord art, and a book where I read to the end not believing that the issue was already over.
Forget nineties nostalgia. The reason X-O succeeds is because, just like a great novel, it sucks you right in. In a world where “Game of Thrones” reigns supreme on television and a man in a suit of armor will dominate the box office next week, X-O MANOWAR brings both concepts together and does it, dare I say it, even better. It's the best book I've read in a decade and stands far above the relaunch of another company from last year. A complete knockout. Welcome back, X-O - the comic world and the real world have never needed you more.
Ryan 'Irish Rican' McLelland has worked in movies and comics journalism for the past several years before joining the @$$holes here at AICN. Ryan’s comic work has already graced comic shelves with GRUNTS: WAR STORIES, Arcana’s PHILLY, and THE SENTINELS ANTHOLOGY. He rarely updates his blog but when he does it can be read at www.eyewannabe.com..
FUBAR: THE DEVIL’S DANCE FLOOR FCBDWriter: Jeff McComsey
Artist: Jeff McComsey
Publisher: Fubar Press
In this year’s @$$ies I listed FUBAR: EMPIRE OF THE RISING DEAD in four different categories. It was mainly praised for its art, but this time FUBAR: THE DEVIL’S DANCE FLOOR stands out for its writing.
This comic is set in North Africa, May 5th, 1943. The African Theater is rarely explored, especially in pop culture. Erwin Rommel, also known as the Desert Fox, was not known for being as sadistic as his German commanding counterparts, but turn him and his Afrika Korps into zombies and…well…you can figure out the rest.
But if you have no knowledge of soor particular interest in this area World War II, that is quite irrelevant. FUBAR: THE DEVIL’S DANCE FLOOR is fun either way. The stories featured in the Asian Theater version were for the most part darker and more dramatic than this tale. However, I’m not holding that against writer and artist Jeff McComsey. Personally, I find zombie stories excessive in nature and better fit for comedies. It is hard to take an undead work seriously when intestines are being pulled out feet by feet.
The British 6th Army fighting against the horde are low on supplies and ammunition, but not good spirits. All soldiers, high-ranking or not, still throw quips around even when in the face of danger. They know they will not survive this attack and have accepted this fact. Instead of being cowards, they will fight to the end with a smirk on their face.
It is the dialogue that drove the comic for me. It is witty and smart. One of the first bits of snarkiness that clearly presents the tone for the rest of the comic is when Captain Stannis’ comrade observes that he “liked them better when they had tanks, guns, and bloody hand grenades.” No one makes such a joke in the middle of war--not unless zombies are involved.
The artwork isn’t drawn to be realistic, just like the dialogue. Even the lettering is over the top, filling the panels with onomatopoeia at every turn. The book is gory, but since the comic is in black and white, it is hardly horrific.
If this review doesn’t convince you to give the issue a try, maybe this will: with Free Comic Book Day on the 5th, Fubar Press is including a free PDF download of the short. Just go here to Fubar Press. Then, after you fall in love with Fubar, pick up FUBAR: EUROPEAN THEATER OF THE DAMNED and FUBAR: EMPIRE OF THE RISING DEAD.
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.
Advance Review: In stores today!
MIND THE GAP #1Writer: Jim McCann
Art: Rodin Esquejo & Sonia Oback
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
MIND THE GAP is a surprisingly deft little mystery about a woman put into a coma after being attacked. The mystery is who did it and why. And this issue maps out a list of suspects as long as your arm. Oh, and also, we get to see what’s going on inside the head of the coma person which prove to be some of the most intriguing pages of this issue.
Jim McCann dazzled us with THE RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN and is still holding on to his super hero roots with HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD which he took over after leaving Marvel’s PR Department a while back. He’s proven to be a solid voice in comics and I’ve learned to listen to it whenever something new comes out from the writer. Though he has never delved into the genre of mystery, McCann proves he can do so with skill in this double sized first issue by meticulously plotting out a mystery which, according to the author and like all good mysteries, can be solved with clues peppered throughout the very first issue. Always loving a challenge and admittedly addicted to shows like TWIN PEAKS and THE KILLING, I’m plan to dig into this mystery and try to solve it before the characters do.
McCann fills the story with comfortable conversation between folks whose ties run deep. Though we are meeting this cast for the first time, I can see where some might have difficulty because unlike a lot of comics which talk down to a reader, this one assumes you will be invested in the story long enough to allow yourself to get to know the cast, their motivations, and why or why not they would choose to kill as the story proceeds. McCann’s trippy use of pop culture references and song lyrics during the dream sequence are equally textural and as telling about our main character Elle, who is trapped somewhere in a dream world outside of her comatose body and serves as our eyes and ears, trying to solve this mystery of how she got there.
Artist Rodin Esquejo provides simple, yet sumptuous characters that have a solid grounding, yet feel somewhat fantastical in the more ephemeral sequences. Esquejo does a fantastic job of distinguishing between different people; something harder than one imagine and a persistent problem in books that don’t have colorful costumes to help distinguish characters. Esquejo’s art is complimented to the highest degree with the deep colors and shades of Sonia Oback whose palette runeth deep and elevates these pages to another level of craftsmanship.
With terrific art and a story that grabs you by both ears and pulls your face in, MIND THE GAP is a smart mystery thriller that turns tospy on a dime without losing the reader or talking down to him/her either. Fans of multitextural mystery and strorytelling should take notice of this new series.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in October 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released in March 2012.
TRANSFORMERS: AUTOCRACY #1-6Writers: Flint Dille, Chris Metzen
Artist: Livio Ramondelli
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
I’ve tried to like TRANSFORMERS comics in the past, I really have. My nom de plume is a clear indicator that I had few friends growing up in the 80’s except for Bumblee, Optimous Prime and Megatron. After that magical time, though, they lost something from me. On the boob tube they went from manga to CGI, becoming more about the visual sizzle than the meatier steak of characterization and story. In comics the stories were always so convoluted and, quite frankly, boring a second issue was never purchased. Plus, they never fucking TRANSFORMED. A robot that doesn’t transform is an Isaac Asimov novel in my humble opinion.
Thank God there’s salvation for this time tested concept with TRANSFORMERS: AUTOCRACY.
In this prequel, before our favorite anthropomorphized cars came to earth, Cybertron is a dying empire. On the surface the world seems great, but that’s from the view of the 1% of superstars favored by the government. The other 99% live under a government regime that is plotting the final nail in the coffin of the masses. Comics work best when the plot is a veiled reflection of real world circumstances. TRANSFORMERS: AUTOCRACY is more than a clever play on words (“auto”, get it?). If all of this sounds familiar, congratulations, you proved you’re a concerned world citizen.
TRANSFORMERS: AUTOCRACY plays on many story levels, each providing its own heft in making this the best damn thing to happen to Transformers since the 1980s. Sure, there’s the overarching plot of the government trying to steal away what remaining energy it can from Cybertron’s depleting resources (cough oil cough), and yes there’s a megalomaniac in charge of it all in the form of Zeta Prime (cough Bush cough), but what really makes this story sing are the character moments. Believe it or not, the feud between Megatron and Optimus began with them on the same side of this battle to save Cybertron. They’re not frenemies, so get that trite buzz word out of your head now. Megatron is bad to the core of his carburetor, and Optimus (or Orion Pax as he was called in those days) fights on the side of angels. AUTOCRACY plays off the truism “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Megatron doesn’t like Zeta’s dastardly deeds because it takes away from his profiteering; Optimus simply can’t accept that the government he fights for as a protector of the law is corrupt to its cybernetic core.
TRANSFORMERS: AUTOCRACY is “only” being released digitally right now as twelve page vignettes in twelve parts. I put only in quotes before because digital releases still have the stigma of not being as great as their pulp brethren, to which I say poppycock. When digital is done right (i.e. not a PDF or just dumping the book in a Flash player) I’ll argue that it’s a better experience. Artist Romendelli is accomplished and great, but his work comes alive on the iPad. With each panel or half panel tap forward the frame is perfectly fitted to see the wear and tear he gave to these cybernetic warriors. Even my nostalgia for the old cartoon could not negate the fact that this art is a million times better than anything that has come before. What your eye might miss on the page is programmed into Comixology as the focal point. This is a hybrid of art and science that simply warms every cockle in my geek heart. You also can’t beat the price point. .99 for each 12 episode vignette clocks in at about two bucks a comic — sans advertisements. Show me a cheaper book and I’ll show you a title where the production quality isn’t even close to what’s been achieved in TRANSFORMERS AUTOCRACY.
Advance Review: In stores today!
DIAL H #1Writer: China Mieville
Art: Mateus Santolouco
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Though I didn’t read DIAL H FOR HERO in its original incarnation when it debuted in HOUSE OF MYSTERY #156, I was reading comics when the concept made it to ADVENTURE COMICS in the early eighties. In that incarnation, readers could write in with names, powers, and designs of heroic characters for the heroes of the book to turn into when the letters H-E-R-O are dialed. It was fun to see these creative and goofy concepts come to life under the literary pen of Marv Wolfman and the artistic renderings of Carmine Infantino. DIAL H FOR HERO has been through several incarnations since then, though most of the time short lived. Last time, we saw the letters dialed it was just called H.E.R.O. and again I bought it and enjoyed a modern retelling of Robby Reed (who was the original owner of the dial in HOM) and a sophisticated dissection of the word hero by Will Pfeifer. With the New 52 at DC we have a brand new Hero dial with China Mieville’s DIAL H and this version seems to embrace both the goofy characters of that 80’s series while taking the notion of what it means to be a hero in the same manner of seriousness as the last time we visited the series.
The story opens on Nelse, a slacker many comic book readers can identify with who refuses to exercise and would rather fill his face with bad food and cigarettes and sleep on the couch all day than be proactive as his equally out of shape friend Darren suggests. After an argument, Darren leaves Nelse to stew in his own man juices on the couch and gets jumped in an alley. Feeling a bit bad about the argument, Nelse goes after his friend and when he sees the trouble his friend is in, he attempts to dial 9-11 in a phone booth and unknowingly triggers a transformation into a hero who saves the day.
There’s nothing really atypical in the setup for this issue. Slacker hero who’s flawed but likable becomes a hero and maybe learns a little lesson about life. What makes this story stand out is the comfortable and clever dialog from Mieville. It’s not overly cool or overly conversational. It just feels real, which makes the book all the more identifiable. Though this modern comic market will swear up and down that it’s trying to get the kiddies to read, this book unapologetically addresses the fanboys. And while everyone might not be a fat, chain-smoking, slacker (I don’t really fit the category), it is a much more identifiable hero than most.
Though it appears a life lesson will be occurring here, I don’t know if its enough to sustain an ongoing series. At best, it can highlight a few cool characters as this issue does in Boy Chimney (who has powers over smoke) and Captain Lachrymose (whose emo powers are contagious). Mieville seems to have Nelse’s HERO powers match the mood or state he’s in before dialing, which adds a bit of depth to the random mode the transformations have had in past incarnations. This at least shows that Mieville is putting some thought into this series and may lead to some more interesting transformations in the future.
Though I’m not sure how far this story can be stretched, it does seem to have a somewhat darker tone and seems more fitting in the ANIMAL MAN/SWAMP THING corner of the DCU than anywhere else. If the sophisticated take on heroics and snappy dialog continue, I’m in on this one for the long run, but I’m skeptical to get too attached because of the short life previous DIAL H FOR HERO series have had. My hopes are high though and with an amazing cover by Brian Bolland and interiors by the truly capable and Phil Winslade-esque Mateus Santolouco, this turned out to be a pretty strong entry in DC’s Second Wave.
FF #17Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Nick Dragotta
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy
Friends, No Benefits...
It’s always nice, seeing friendships in comics. I don’t mean the passing friendship that exist between some characters, or the times when we meet “a best friend from years ago” who will inevitably die/turn out to be the villain. It’s rare, but a sincere-feeling friendship in superhero comics is one of my favourite things. It’s then no surprise at all that I absolutely loved Dan Slott’s Spider-Man/Human Torch mini from a few years ago. The story examines the camaraderie that exists between the two, with the added bonus of having the Dan Slott style (aka, fantastic). Now it’s Hickman’s go at the duo, and as with Slott, the story is great.
Writing: (4/5) The strength of the issue falls completely on Hickman, who has to make Johnny both enough of an idiot that Peter would want him out of the flat, and enough of a laugh that Peter would live with him in the first place. Hickman preforms extremely well, hitting all the right beats with the duo. The relationship between the two is light and fun, and for a story that involves portals to the Negative Zone jammed into a closet, very real. The friendship between the two is palpable, as is every strain on it. As much as Peter wants to kill Johnny sometimes, Johnny manages to bring out the fun side of Peter, giving him someone he can snark back and forth with. It’s a pleasure to read, and incredibly enjoyable. It never feels forced, and it’s nice to see someone who understands Peter enough to be able to effectively push all his buttons in the way only a best friend can.
If anything is a little south, it’s that the issue only focuses on Peter. There’s never any real indication about Johnny’s thoughts on the situation, or how he feels about living with Peter. It feels a little like a wasted opportunity, but it would have felt rushed otherwise.
Art: (4/5) Dragotta is a solid choice for this. His style reflects Romita Sr. at times, and manages to mix it with his own fresh look at it all. Specifically, the expressive faces and lavish motions of the characters are well defined. The night out especially is a treat, showing a montage of a completely demolished Peter as he indulges in the Johnny Storm life. There’s not much to do here (it is, after all, a comic about flatmates in their home), but when he has the chance to leave it, he does so with flourish. His only problem is really some of the facial consistency. Sometimes it’s very evocative, but at others it seems a little muddled and uneven. In particular the opening pages of Peter can look odd, panel to panel.
I’d be remiss if I left out Sotomayor’s colour for this issue. Bright when it needs to be and realistically dull as well, he effortlessly juggles between the stark, boring layout of their flat and the intense look of the Negative Zone.
Best Moment: The night out.
Worst Moment: Some consistency issues in the art.
Overall: (4/5) A very fun, very good look into one of the principal friendships of the Marvel universe.
DRAGONSTORM # 1Writer: Jaydee Rosario
Illustrator: Joel Coltejar and Craig Shepard
Publisher: Unstoppable Comics
As a reviewer you don’t get a lot of follow up review requests from creators you’ve given bad reviews to. That’s why I was surprised when the creator of this comic contacted me and said that I’d written a bad review of his previous comic and he wanted me to review this one. Upon initially reading his e-mail I felt badly that I’d written a negative review of his previous attempt at comic creating. It’s not like I set out to trash people’s work. I really feel absolutely miserable when I get review requests and I dislike the book. I try to be as constructive as I can with my criticism, but I could tell that whatever I wrote in my earlier review must have stuck with this person because they really wanted a chance to prove themselves again, if not to me, at least to our readership.
Well, I have to say that I’m glad that Jaydee Rosario stuck with comic making. From what I can remember of the previous issue of this comic (of which I honestly can’t remember much) this issue of DRAGONSTORM is a very marked improvement. DRAGONSTORM # 1 is actually a very nicely executed little story. It starts off with a bit of a bang with a supervillain executing his own estranged son and his family in a coldhearted but very classically supervillainous way. From there the story gets even more interesting, with the villain imposing a member of his own family on the hero of the book demanding that he…well, I don’t want to ruin the book, but let’s just say it’s something that I wasn’t expecting and it was a twist that was very well executed. With this issue of DRAGONSTORM Rosario shows that he’s got some very interesting ideas when it comes to what he’s going to do with this book. Is everything perfect in this issue? No, not really, but the setup in DRAGONSTORM is good enough and has enough potential that I have to say that if I were still the type of comic fan that picked up monthly books I’d be very inclined to give the next issue a shot. As it is, I’d be happy to check out a trade collection of DRAGONSTORM as long as I hear that the quality of the book continues along the path established by this first issue.
The art in the book is very well done as well. While I believe that the first half of the book by Joel Coltejar is superior to the second half of the book by Craig Shepard, altogether the art is capable and straightforward. I would have loved to see the whole book illustrated by either one or the other artist because the change in style midway through the book is a bit jarring. It’s a shift that doesn’t ruin the story, but you can tell that it’s a different artist in the last half of the comic and it’s just a bit distracting. Once I got past the first couple of pages after the change in art I was able to get back into the story without a problem.
While DRAGONSTORM isn’t necessarily a brave new take on the superhero story it has enough interesting stuff happening in it that I’d recommend it. It’s got enough of a unique take on standard super power tropes that I’d be interested to see how it develops in the future. Congratulations to the creators of DRAGONSTORM, and I hope that they keep up the good work.
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 www.kristianhorn.com and check out his blog at www.parttimefanboy.com. You can check also out his webcomics at www.babybadass.com and thediplomatics.com, which is currently in development.
Advance Review: In stores today!
WORLD’S FINEST #1Writer: Paul Levitz
Art: George Perez
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
What has two double DD’s, works best in tight dark places, and brings infinite pleasure? Why WORLDS’S FINEST of course, what were you thinking?
Between this book and EARTH 2 being launched this week, DC has brought back the multiverse in spectacular fashion. Never has quantum string theory been this engaging, action packed, fun, and dare I say charming.
I am in love with Huntress and Power Girl and none of it has to do with their comely appearances.
Yes, Karen “Power Girl’s” DD’s have transfixed fanboys for ages, but Levitz and DC editorial have brought a new dimension to the last female Kryptonian beyond the cleavage. Quite honestly, it’s nice to the see her porthole stitched up in the new uniform. Don’t get me wrong, I love me the boobies, but it’s a joke that has worn woefully thin in our society of fake breasts and little modesty.
I know little about the Huntress and her nighttime activities thumping bad guys in close quarters. I can only blame myself I guess…or can I? I’ve spent my life buying a ton of DC book, but my time with Huntress was always at a minimum, only seeing her occasionally in the heavy hitting books. Shame. She has a depth and richness of soul that can only come from being the daughter of the great Bruce Wayne.
WORLD’S FINEST fixes these characters’ lack of purpose by establishing a friendship on par with Batman and Superman and giving these two ladies not only a mission to keep the world safe on Earth 1, but also an overarching mission that promises to bring us two great world’s of super heroes instead of just one.
I guess it’s best to start at the beginning, but to do that we have to jump to some other books. Late last year both ladies hit the scene shrouded in mystery. Since all was truly new in the New 52, DC played a game of three-card Monty making us guess that both ladies were now simply part of Earth One canon. As time went on, the editorial column dropped hints that EARTH 2 might come into play as Power Girl Power Girl made brief appearances in MR. TERRIFIC and Huntress went about her business in her own miniseries. We also get a morsel of these two characters in this week’s first issue of EARTH 2 to see how they ended up on Earth 1. It’s recapped briefly in WORLD’S FINEST, but EARTH 2 is where you feel the true impact of their transport through realities. Just as with the new JUSTICE LEAGUE, EARTH 2 takes place five years prior to present day. And also like JUSTICE LEAGUE Darkseid’s parademons wreck havoc on EARTH 2. Now, unlike JUSTICE LEAGUE these pages were emotional, intense and you can feel every sacrifice that is made to the marrow of your bones. I’ll simply say the parademons ensure the demise of that earth’s greatest heroes, and Huntress and Power Girl decide to take the fight directly to Darkseid’s doorstep in a last ditch Hail Mary delivered via Boom Tube.
Obviously, they don’t find Darkseid.
Instead they find a new life on Earth 1. Flash forward five years and Huntress uses her knowledge of Earth 2’s ATM code to help Power Girl amass a fortune to become the CEO of Starr labs. Why Karen chose this route I will leave as a surprise for the book, but I will say it builds a future destination for these characters. That’s truly rare tehse days as writers simply think of the arc in front of them; it’s a story element that is rarely seen outside of a Kirkman or David title, and it is much appreciated. I like being vested beyond the current mystery.
Now, the current “mystery” is good and this is where Huntress will truly shine. Someone is trying to thwart Power Girl’s mission with Starr labs and I think we’ll see some awesome sleuthing in future issues to unravel the mystery.
Perez hits it home with the ladies, both in and out of costume and in and out of the fantastical. My only gripe is the rendition of Power Girl on the cover. She’s kind of proportioned like Warwick Davis.
I’m a self-admitted alternate reality whore, so this review might be tainted as might this closing declarative, but WORLD’S FINEST and EARTH 2 are my true New 52. These books gave me an excitement for what’s to come that I haven’t felt since I was a 10 year old picking up CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTH’S each month off the spinner rack. Welcome back Multiverse, I missed you.
GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK #2Writer: Mark L. Miller
Artist: Carlos Granda
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Mostly everyone knows some version of THE JUNGLE BOOK. Since most Americans have shunned reading since Ed Sullivan, a majority of this knowledge comes from a singing bear teaching a feral boy about the “Bear Necessities.” Those that are more literary minded will have no doubt traversed the source material of Rudyard Kipling’s societal statement leveraging anthropomorphism. Finally, the smallest subset, comic fans, will remember permutations of the theme in FABLES and SUPERMAN ELSEWORLDS. After all of these iterations, the question we as readers should ask first and foremost is, “What’s so different about this Zenescope version?”
Well…a lot, actually, and it has nothing to do with Zenescope’s flair for tits and hips.
Yes, Mowglii has transformed from a boy to a girl, and she is…fit, but there’s something much larger at play here than what’s between Mowglii’s legs. Miller has successfully broadened the scope of this book to include a larger cast of humans— ratcheting up not only the conflict between beasts, but also giving the story a far more human element than any past interpretations.
In the beginning of the series Mogwlii and the other two legged castaways are divvied up amongst the lions and tigers and other “oh my’s” as almost mystic totems dropped from the Gods. While the wolves that adopted Mowglii treat her as just one of their own, issue 2 shows us that the tigers have treated their pink-fleshed find, Bomani the beefcake, as an almost savior. Well, that’s if he can learn to hunt...
While there’s bad blood amongst all of the animals, the conflict between the wolves and tigers has festered the longest since the end of the Great War, mainly because it was made personal when the wolves slayed the tiger queen as the battle’s closing blow. This issue is the tiger lord Khan’s (KHHHAAAANNN) time for vengeance when he breaks the truce and slays the matriarch of the wolves. Only problem this time is these damn pink fleshers. Wolf mother was Mowglii’s adopted Mother, and Mowglii is angry – very angry.
I might be reading too much into subtleties, but I could have sworn there was a glimmer of lust in Mowglii’s eyes as she held her slain Mother and Bomani came into her field of vision. If I’m right then artist Granda should be proud. I mean, he should be proud anyway for his deft ability to give animals humanistic expressions, but if there is a Romeo and Juliette romance in the JUNGLE BOOK’S future, then the team reached the zenith of comic craftsmanship with this silent foreshadowing.
And while on the art, I would be remiss if I didn’t close with a Feminazi PSA for Zenescope. Yes, the covers to Zenescope books rely on heavy doses of cheesecake, but this is truly a case where you can’t judge a book by its cover. Take this book, for example: once inside Mowglii’s breasts shrink two cup sizes, her clothes gain an extra 6 to 10 inches of fabric, her hair is as wild as her spirit, and she has nary an ounce of make-up on her face. Honestly, Feminazis should thank Zenescope. Yes, they bring in the drooling fanboys with pretty ladies, but what these boys are treated to inside are women that fight great cosmic and mystical forces with nary the help of a man. Hell, most of the time the women are saving the men.
JUNGLE BOOK is grrrrrreeeeaaattt and a worthy addition to Zenescope’s proud tradition of resurrecting American literature for the short attention span generation.
MAN OF GOD #1
MAN OF GOD is just one messed up book. Take a preacher who dies in a church fire, bring his charred body back with a look that would make Freddy Krueger gag, give him no memories but the ability to read the memories of others, and you have the very premise of MAN OF GOD #1. Part superhero, part supernatural, with a dab of horror thrown in, the life of preacher John Morris certainly seems to be an interesting one and this first issue breezes through the events of what makes this man into the monster he becomes. It'll be interesting to see where the character goes in the next issue. The setup is an incredible one; hopefully this great indie gem continues to deliver. - Irish Rican
AQUAMAN #8DC Comics
There’s a “wooshing” noise I’ve been hearing with this and the last issue of this book, and I think it has more to do with receding momentum than waves. That sounds harsher than I really mean it to but I can not help but feel that, while this arc obviously has a point and drive in showing the difference between a current, more accepting Aquaman than his more brash take of six years ago, it has also kind of dulled instead of sharpened some of the plot points it was developing. And I do appreciate the overall take that Johns and company are taking with this title and character - I really do - as I always thought there was coolness to be had with the right vision and time commitment, which I have full faith that Geoff Johns has. It’s just that this issue in particular felt kind of, eh, grisly. There’s some meat in this fish book for sure, but a lot of the goings on are younger Arthur being angsty and angry and interacting with a team that after two issues of learning about, all we really know of them is that one of them didn’t wear much clothing then and still doesn’t now and that Black Manta put one of them down hard. I’m sure there’s more to all of this--in fact, I’m counting on it because I really do see big things for the book and character, but so far this arc has not really led to anything for me but ebbing excitement. - Humphrey Lee
WAR OF THE INDEPENDENTS #3
Red Anvil Comics
The indie scene's answer to the ultimate crossover continues with WAR OF THE INDEPENDENTS’ 3rd issue, which sees a group of heroes trying to retrieve Thor's hammer and gloves from the villain Maldestrak. That's the issue. Did I mention that included in the group of heroes is E-Man, The Tick, and Shaloman? SHALOMAN!!! I don't know how Shaloman was able to get out of the indie comics vault of moth balls. To see Al Wiesner's ultra-powerful Kosher Crusader show up and fight alongside these indie heroes made me smile from ear-to-ear. Having Tick and E-Man team up is just icing on the cake. Wait...is there a cherry atop a cake? Because this issue also has the evil Blockheads from Gumby ready to do some evil damage. If all of the characters plus an actual great story doesn't make you want to read this book you have no soul. Another great chapter to this incredible series. - Irish Rican
I guess you could boil down my thoughts on THE OMEGA EFFECT arc between DAREDEVIL, PUNISHER, and AVENGING SPIDER-MAN to a more mixed perspective, except that they really are not. I liked the three-parter as it happened: the premise it worked with getting these three characters to interact like they did, the attitudes they presented to each other given their past involvements, and I really liked how it all culminates in a big push of them to kick the crap out of organized crime for a night. As a long time reader of all three characters, it gave me a kick to say the least. What brings my overall opinion of the story arc to a more middling perspective is really just one word, and that word is “Why?” I hate to sound like I’m complaining about a good story, but I’m not sure why this story happened, or at least the way it did. From its outlier it’s a Daredevil story because it centralizes around the Omega Drive he acquired in his book, but the resolution and more than half the building tension throughout is about Frank’s new “sidekick”, Cole, with a Spider-Man issue along the way because, well, it’s a Spider-Man appearance. Basically it just seems to me like a weird cross-promotional effort, as those reading DD and not already reading PUNISHER probably had no interest in Frank and Cole’s relationship, those that were reading PUNISHER and not DD had no idea of the Omega Drive and the almost year’s worth of story being built upon it, and those buying AVENGING SPIDER-MAN were probably left to wonder why they were being drawn into this story and paying an extra six bucks in a month to see it kind of come to fruition. It was good, real good to be honest, but at the same time I think it’s a little microcosm of why sometimes these big company decisions, even with very solid intentions, can needlessly bite some readers in the ass and/or wallet. - Humphrey Lee
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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