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Issue #26 Release Date: 10/3/12 Vol.#11
The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: BATMAN #13
AVSX #12
Advance Review: EVIL ERNIE #1

Advance Review: In stores today!


Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo, Jock (backup)
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

I don’t envy Scott Snyder. Admire, yes; envy, no. BATMAN until now has been Snyder’s own personal playground, keeping in line with the mantra that New 52 will be just that: new. Instead of rehashing old villains with modernized hoodies and emo tendencies, he was given the freedom to do what he does best--rewrite history to create something entirely new. Different than the Johnsian approach of finding an insignificant Silver Age sliver, Snyder completely rebuilt the Gotham mythos from the ground up by instilling the new ruling elite – The Court of Owls -- during Year One of the Bat titles.

Now Snyder is faced with not only building on and beating the success of the last year, but doing so with a full-set of Samsonite nostalgia around his neck. In addition to juggling a set of Robins a little too close in age for the comfort of most fans, he must now make one of the most iconic and terrifying villains in comics iconicer and terrifyinger. He must also do all of this without hanging himself in the noose of Nineties nostalgia that permeates this epic “Death of the Family” Bat bonanza crossover of titles.

Everyone, including this reviewer, assumed The Joker was out for the count after last year’s skinning of the clown prince’s face in the pages of DETECTIVE. Of course, I was never naïve enough to think Joker would be gone for all time, but I certainly didn’t expect an appearance until there was some event where the Flash went really fast so they could retcon the Dollmaker’s handiwork into oblivion, or at the very least pull a switcheroo and show us that it was not the Joker’s skin mask sitting in the GCPD evidence locker, but just some poor inmate Mr. J put in pancake makeup.

Shame on me for doubting, because the Joker is still a sans skin psychopath and the big joke that keeps him laughing has taken on a new “face” of evil that seems to terrify even fervent followers like Harley Quinn. In fact, the whole beginning of the book is an edge of the seat hide-and-seek inside the powered down police headquarters where Jokesy has come to finally steal that which was once his. As he makes his way through the station, we only have Gordon’s flashlight to illuminate the trail of carnage as The Joker narrates through the PA system. From darkness to light all we have to comfort us is the every other panel of illumination. One by one, officers’ necks are snapped liked brittle twigs as The Joker begins to relay information that hits a little too close to home for Gordon – and I mean that in the most literal sense possible. Babs, anyone?

We actually never see the real Joker until the end of the main story. And sorry, I’m not going to tell you who his first actual intended victim is. Instead, we’re treated to a series of charlatans in clown makeup. Each fake prince sends Batman and the GCPD on a goose chase of protection that involves a brilliant scene locking down Gotham’s mayor and ultimately leads to the chemical factory where the Red Hood fell into a vat of skin bleaching chemicals oh so many years ago…wait…I mean five years ago.

Now, I will spoil who was under that hood because without the spoil I can’t lead into my unequivocally favorite part of the book – the back-up story. Joker recruits his girl Friday, Harley Quinn, to don the Hood as he goes after his real prey. This part of the main story ends with Harley showing fear for the first time towards the once adored Mr. J and the back-up story shows us why. In a scene that made me feel so dirty I needed a shower afterwards, we see only Harley, scared and under an interrogation light. Snyder and Jock perfectly deliver fear with the respectful balance of art and words having Harley literally strip off her clothes as the Joker strips away any ounces of self-respect she might have gained during her time on SUICIDE SQUAD. Once she’s inside the famous Red Hood tux, Joker leads her to believe that step two to becoming part of the gang again will involve a little slice dice for her pretty little pudum so it can be reapplied poorly with band aids and bubble gum. Snyder has the Joker explain in meticulous detail the agony he went through during his skinning and the minutia of trying to remain human minus the thing that defines our humanity most. Just as you think the cutting will begin…BAM…she’s standing with a Red Hood on as the Joker cackles away into the night.

It’s hard to outdo the insanity of past Joker scribes like Moore, Azzarello and Miller, but Snyder is well on his way. Best of all, it’s all in continuity, which infinitely ups the ante on repercussions from this portrayal. This event looks on track to deliver on the nostalgia leverage, unlike other recent dips into memory lane like CRISIS. I see the events of this story being just as impactful as its 90s ancestor “A Death in the Family,” and I’m all for a die-cut cover as long as it doesn’t up the price and has a purpose.

BATMAN 13 is the true face of terror in mainstream comics, being sufficiently creepy without ever crossing the line into copious amounts of inappropriate gore. It’s not the bloodletting that’s scary, kids--it’s the moments leading up, and I can’t wait for more terrifying moments to come.

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.


Writer: Everyone
Scripter: Jason Aaron
Artist: Adam Kubert
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man

Overall, I feel it’s safe to say most people were not impressed with this recent Marvel crossover. The last one that really impressed me was the original ANNIHILATION by Keith Giffen, so I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised. I’m not really sure what it is that makes these so hard to write, but the fact remains most crossovers stink. Still, the faithful--myself included--enjoy seeing the whole comic universe combine together in one big story, praying it will be like the SECRET WAR (again the original) or the CRISIS ON THE INFINITE EARTHS: the two great crossovers that started the whole concept.

The finale was definitely a mixed bag. It started with some lame redefining of the Phoenix Force (reminds me of how Geoff Johns likes to redefine everything ever written in the DCU), how it likes mutants just because it’s shown up in X-Men comic books or something like that. Then Tony Stark finds faith- yeah, I’m getting really tired of the way science keeps failing Tony Stark, so he has to use magic or spiritualism that often seems to be the key to victory. Shouldn’t Dr. Strange just have been the point man here? As the mammoth battle for creation wages on, Nova makes an appearance. You remember Nova, right? The guy who showed up in the first issue (doing his best impression of the Silver Surfer in THE INFINITY GAUNTLET) then never to been seen again? Yeah, he shows up.

Then Hope and the Scarlet Witch show up and defeat Dark Phoenix Cyclops--fair enough. But am I the only one who remembers the Scarlet Witch is a mutant? Did I miss the issue where Bendis took away her mutant card? Why does every mutant say they are turning against ‘their people’ for siding with Wanda? She’s your people too! And it wasn’t a human that removed mutants from the world in “House of M”, it was a mutant! Anyway, it seems chaos magic is the yen to Phoenix Force’s why not. So how does Hope save the world? Well, after the Phoenix Force chooses her, she lets it go. Now if you assume the Phoenix Force, which travelled the galaxy and caused all these problems just to possess her, would simply re-possess her again--you’d be wrong! Instead the Phoenix Force, helped by chaos magic in some fashion, increases the mutant population all over the world and disappears. Boy, I bet the losers on the planet the Phoenix Force wiped out in the first issue are feeling gypped.

In the end, Captain America gives a stern talking to to Cyclops, now in jail. One might think this is all Captain America’s fault since he wouldn’t let Hope merge with the Phoenix Force, which caused all the problems, then fixed all the problems by allowing Hope to merge with the Phoenix Force, which is what Cyclops wanted from the beginning. But you would be wrong, my friend, because Captain America is the hero here. You see, he saved the day by allowing the Phoenix Force to merge with Hope after he and the Avengers caused it to splinter into the Phoenix Five in the first place, after he said no way in hell should we allow the Phoenix Force to merge with Hope. Wait, I just confused myself.

Well, the one cool thing about the ending was the reason behind the merging of the two teams. Captain America feels he has let the world treat the X-Men and mutants in general like crap, so in an effort to improve their public opinion the two teams are getting integrated. I wish the story dealt with that concept more!

Adam Kubert did a fine job putting this all on page. The double splash on pages two and three was nice, and Nova’s reintroduction was pretty boss too.

Having digested all 12 issues now, and seeing how it all ended--wow, was there a lot of padding! Originally, I liked the Phoenix Five concept, but when Cyclops’ plan to merge Hope with the Phoenix Force in issue #1 turns out to be the answer to everything in issue #12, well, the Phoenix Five just becomes a delaying tactic to get 12 issues. You would have thought with two teams of such different personalities and goals a conflict between them wouldn’t have to be so contrived. I do, however, look forward to seeing how things work out with a united Avengers and X-Men front, but AVSX itself scores a 1 out 4.

Advance Review: In stores today!


Writer: Jesse Blaze Snider
Art: Jason Craig
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Having been a fan of the original EVIL ERNIE series waaaaaaaay back when (I have the first issue packed in mothballs somewheres), I was extremely curious when I heard Dynamite was going to be resurrecting the devious bastard for the new millennium. Without Ernie’s creator Brian Pulido, I was wondering if the character would still have its sharp teeth after all these years, but knowing that it was under the careful hands of Jesse Blaze Snider who convinced me of his versatility after writing the DEAD ROMEO vampire miniseries for DC, TOY STORY for BOOM! and an especially cool story about the Hulk’s pants for Marvel a while back, I was looking forward to this new take.

What struck me is how little I remember of Evil Ernie prior to his attachment to the phenomenally popular Lady Death character. Since Lady Death is still owned by Pulido, she won’t be appearing in this series, but Smiley the Button (Ernie’s twisted Jiminy Cricket) is here and he seems evil as ever. What Snider gets is that there are a whole lot of folks who don’t know who the hell this Evil Ernie character is, so he takes his time in telling his story. While the Ernie that we all know and loathe only makes an appearance in the last page, the story is filled with crucial and entertaining backstory leading up to his resurrection. It’s a necessary step for Snider to have to do this. Ernie has been out of the spotlight for a while and honestly, having not read EVIL ERNIE in years, I needed the catch up.

It seems Snider has a long journey for Ernie and Smiley. Ernie has killed 665 people as this issue opens and is working toward some kind of goal to hit when he reaches 666, but is cut just short of his goal. With one death separating him from the magic number, I look forward to seeing what hell is unleashed when it happens. What does happen is a solid story, clueing us in just enough to tempt us to come back for more--especially with some solid art by Jason Craig, who has a slightly different take on Ernie involving his distinctive look than the original Steven Hughes design, but carrying over enough of what made the character cool and iconic to recognize him.

In the end, this old school EVIL ERNIE fan is pleased and looking forward to this new, dark beginning with the character. Dynamite continues to be releasing a lot of exciting comics these days and EVIL ERNIE is a welcome addition to their lineup.

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 late 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 March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.


Writer: Mark McKenna
Artist: Jason Baroody
Publisher: Banana Tale Press
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

Outside of giving women free reign to dress whorey, I hate Halloween. I abhor being scared and freeloaders – which really only leaves drinking pumpkin ale, but I can do that without a costume. However, based on the billions of dollars this day brings in, and the national fervor that stops me from being able to call a meeting at work past 1:30, I know how alone I am in my feelings.

Comics homages to this day riddle the shelves, and in most cases 99% of them make me moan like a ghost that gets thrown in the dryer. This has nothing to do with my specific feelings on Halloween; my vitriol spews forth because it gives great creators a free pass to dial in pun filled, wafer thin one shots that have no consequence and usually end with some ultra cheesy breaking of the fourth wall. But my job is to review comics, and just because the theme of October makes me quake with anger being a douche does not make me irresponsible.

Thank God for COMBAT JACKS.

While the rest of the comics world conjures the same old tropes, COMBAT JACKS provides one of the most unique and dare I say downright gorgeous homages to All Hallow’s Eve I have ever come across.

Part sci fi, part horror, and again insanely gorgeous, COMBAT JACKS is a welcome respite for those that could care less about things that go bump in the night. Now, when I say part sci fi, that’s a bit of a misnomer; I think my high tolerance for COMBAT JACKS is the fact it’s 99% sci fi and 1% steeped in the theme of the month.

Two hundred years in the future we have trashed the shit out of Mother Gaia. Fortunately, as Earth gasps its last breath, Big Daddy Sol was able to capture in its gravitational pull a new planet, Maia. Maia isn’t only ready for life; it came ripe and ready with a breathable atmosphere and soil ready for cultivation.

In pure science fiction form, McKenna makes insanely more sense than any current politician. Instead of giving prisoners cable TV and bleeding the national tax dollars, McKenna puts these miscreants to work on Maia rebuilding a habitable landscape for humans. Everything seems to be going fine and dandy, until the workers stop shooting communique signals to Earth.

Enter the space marines, a rag-tag group of guys and gals sent to ascertain exactly what the fuck is going down on Maia.

To say more would ruin the rest of this book, the surprise ending and, yes, the very clever tie-in to the holiday I hate so much. I will say, though, the tie-in is anything but cheesy and I applaud Baroody once again for bringing some real life comics players to life within the ending pages of COMBAT JACKS.

McKenna is a long tanding force in comics; his inking skills are bar none as exhibited by his pantheon of work at DC over the past two decades. The Banana Tale brand started as his homage to a story he once told his children, I’m glad to see it expand beyond kiddie fare and can’t wait for the next book that speaks to a theme I actually enjoy, because even though I hate Halloween, I really enjoyed COMBAT JACKS.


Writer: John Layman
Art: Jason Fabok
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Mighty Mouth

DETECTIVE COMICS started strong out of the New 52 gate. Yet, after the conclusion of the first story arc, the book’s quality has steadily receded compared to some of the other Bat-titles. Issue #13 marks the debut of an all new creative team for this title. The question is, will the new team raise the book to a new level of splendor, or drag it kicking and screaming to the bottom of the stack of need to read comics?

Layman’s approach is a little light on the exhilaration. He seems to have favored a less grandiose stage for his first tale. That doesn’t mean the story sucks. In fact, Layman seems to be endeavoring on some elements a bit foreign to DETECTIVE COMICS recently: solid characterization and fun.

With DETECTIVE COMICS #13 Layman accomplishes what few comic writers have been able to achieve: giving the Penguin some much needed complexity. As a villain, Penguin usually bores the ever-loving crap out of me. I just never found him a worthy adversary to the Dark Knight. Yet, Layman succeeds at utilizing the Penguin in a way that is dissimilar and effective at once. I’m actually curious to see where this tale ends up.

Now, the art in this book is another matter. Jason Fabok is no stranger to Batman; you may recognize his art form another Batman title, THE DARK KNIGHT. To put it bluntly, Fabock gets Batman. Not only does he render Batman with near perfection, he delivers a wonderful interpretation of Gotham City. His storytelling is crisp, clear and moves you effortlessly from panel to panel with the utmost consistency. I really can’t say any more about his work without sounding like I’m suffering from a man-crush.

Layman also wrote the back-up feature highlighting the Penguin’s right-hand goon from the main story, Ogilvy. The tale provides a bit of insight into Ogilvy’s antiquity within the Penguin’s organization. It does not hold any real consequence, but it’s cleverly written all the same.

The new crew is off to a promising start, and seems to have the right ingredients that DETECTIVE COMICS needed so badly. I can respect Layman’s choice to start small and build; after all, that is the hallmark of good drama. I just hope he turns it up a notch next issue.


Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Mark Buckingham
Publisher: IDW Publishing

Reviewer: Masked Man

Now, I’m a big Dr. Who fan--not so big that I own every episode on DVD or anything like that, but I’m big enough to know who Fet A Sigma is (there’s a trivia question for ya). So while I haven’t seen every episode, I have seen all the Doctors in action and love all of them for their own personal charisma (yes, the first one I saw was my favorite: Peter Davidson). Among the three new Doctors, no one can tell me Chris Eccleston wasn’t the best one. That was a Doctor who knew his sh!t, could take out the trash and was just goofy enough to be fun. He left way too soon! That said, current Doctor Matt Smith is brilliant in the role as well, although this newest season is a bit boring--Steven Moffat seems to have a habit of repeating himself. How often must he beat us over the head with the same melodrama? At any rate, I’m curious to see another take on Matt’s Doctor. Enter IDW.

Wouldn’t you know it--IDW would hire two Brits to create their new Dr. Who series. The first thing that strikes me about this issue is the art and its water painting quality. I’m curious to know how much of it is Buckingham and how much of it is Charlie Kirchoff. Buckingham clearly knows his way around a comic book page, and page 12 has a very cool layout. On the flip side, the faces of The Doctor, Amy and Rory have a pseudo-likeness to them that makes me wonder if he was tracing photos and still frames of the actors. I’d prefer to see an artist capture the quality of the actors, instead of having dead on likenesses, and especially not by tracing, because that often sucks the life out of the figure drawing. Just like the fun seeing different artists draw Spider-Man, a perfect copy of Steve Ditko’s work is not the point. Lastly, I wonder if Buckingham is the best choice for The Doctor. While being a very talented artist, I’m not so sure his matter-of-fact style fits the manic action and sci fi wizardry Dr. Who can be. Just like great actors, not every role is suited for them. Still, this first issue is a fine looking book.

Diggle, who I’ll always remember as the guy who wrote that awesome ADAM STRANGE book with Pascal Ferry, is a good choice for a writer of DR. WHO. He handles sci fi quite well and is good with characters--two of the biggest issues in a Dr. Who stories. Here he starts right off with a character moment with Rory and Amy. I did wish he covered the basics with these characters. If you’re not a viewer of the show, this comic will not help you figure things out. I assume like so many comic book creators they are trying to mimic motion pictures: no text boxes, no thought bubbles, no speed lines--it’s like they fear the medium they are working in. They did feel the need to have one note from the editor, showing off their Dr. Who trivia knowledge (go fig). So while this first issue isn’t much of a first issue (almost no set-up), it is a nice start to the story at hand (there’s almost a pun there if you check out the book!). Diggle also captures the voices of the actors well. So while not explaining who they are for newbies, based on the TV show, he executes their relationships well.

Therefore “Hypothetical Gentlemen” is a fine start to a Dr. Who adventure that most Whovians should be happy with.


Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Russ Braun
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

With the penultimate issue of a long-running comic book series such as THE BOYS there usually comes a cavalcade of emotions. The empty feeling of knowing what you get next will be the last you will ever get. The dread of not having characters you’ve become attached to around anymore (given that they even made it this far in the first place). A reminiscing of the bad, good, and great times the book brought you and how they may have changed you based on your investment. The acknowledgement that you have not actually felt that invested in the comic for about twenty issues now and really only stuck it out because of completionist tendencies…oh, uh, that one may be a problem…

Sadly, that last statement is true for myself considering how this book has felt to me for quite a while. Admittedly, it has been somewhat better with the most recent arcs, but I noticed pretty much at the milestone that was issue fifty that I was wavering on this title big time. There were several reasons for this, of course, but the biggest involved an overarching plot that I felt was just dragging. The deep, dark history of Vought American and how that entity came to bring superpowers to the forefront was somewhat uninspired to me outside of the historical pieces Ennis and Company told with them. There are only so many “evil bastard corporation” stories one can take, and this one planted such deep roots with them that it just became tedious to become entangled with them time and time again. That’s why when one of the bigger plot points of this issue occurs – a double cross between the evil, handsome guy at the head of Vought and his plucky advisor chick (I literally don’t remember what either of them actually do or what their names were I’ve so checked out on anything Vought related) – I pretty much shrugged and moved on. Not only was it something I’ve lost interest in, it’s something I lost interest in and would assume is a given to happen considering the kinds of characters in play.

Now, moving on to the (remaining) characters that are the actual stars of THE BOYS: the final confrontation between Wee Hughie and Butcher did give me that little tingle of loss that usually happens as a book winds down, as they were the reason I did enjoy this title when I did during its lifespan. This interaction between the two, with Butcher’s soothing-yet-antagonizing nature over Hughie and Hughie’s, well, penchant of whining and putting his foot in his mouth, is kind of heartbreaking given how matters have exploded this past arc. If anything, Ennis and Company built a relationship between the two that was definitely at or on the verge of being brotherly and then tore it asunder in pretty vicious fashion as Butcher went all Ozymandias on everyone’s asses, willing to kill allies and mass amounts of enemies alike to meet his desired endgame. The difference between those two heroes turned genocidal idealists is that Butcher was able to see the dark path he was on and leave it open to go down. And considering he let himself be taken down by a “twat of epic proportions” such as Hughie, it’s obvious that he knew himself to be the villain that he had become, which is a nice character complication--that he knew he was the villain but was still willing to take the risk he succeeded in his self-imposed mission in the name of avenging his wife.

Sadly, though, these characters are going away soon (and, yes, most didn’t even make it this far) and that is a shame. It’s also a shame that some pretty overwrought fleshing out of Vought’s torrid history has marred this title and dragged me out of the flow of the book entire arcs at a time. While the past two arcs have been particularly exciting given their climatic nature, this is what my overall feelings of the book kept settling on. But that is the one last positive side of these long-running yet finite tales--that being the eventual reread and getting reacquainted with the characters. Personally, I’m looking forward to mine in order to see if the characters that I did genuinely attach to overwhelm the sense of detachment I’ve felt towards the book on the overall for quite a while now and turn my lackluster feelings into more favorable ones. In that light I guess it’s somewhat unfair of me (not to mention a waste of everyone’s time so far …sorry about that) to render an overall judgment on THE BOYS, but at the least I feel like I can say the wide swath of this book got pretty bloated in the middle and undid a lot of the good it presented. Either way, Mr. Ennis, Robertson, Braun, et al tried their best and did light things up with some genuinely enjoyable times over the span of seventy-two issue and several mini-series. So, here’s to THE BOYS! It presented me with the first time I’ve ever seen someone earn his red wings in a comic book, and for that it will never be forgotten! Cheers…

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 & Artist: Howie Noel
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

I’ll admit I hate a lot of things: Our current two party system of politics, able-bodied workers suckling from the public teat of unemployment, Honey-Fucking-Redneck-Trailer-Trash-Boo-Boo. But something I despise above all of these things is the goddamned ghost hunter shows that relegate quality Sci fi to the dark hours of the evening past prime time. OK, I take that back; I probably hate the people that watch and perpetuate the success of these shows more than the shows themselves, but that’s a chicken and egg I simply am not ready to crack in this review.

It’s with this hate-fueled rage I was able to revel in the retribution exacted on these spectral charlatans within the pages of TARA NORMAL. It’s not a perfect book--we’ll get into some of the quick fixes I would like to see rectified in issue 2--but it’s a strong enough premise that I think creator Howie Noel will see strong interest in the IP when he debuts the book at NY Comic Con.

TARA NORMAL tells the tale of the first woman who can see ghosts, a woman we would clearly place in the category of Goth were that still a thang. TARA essentially exposes the fact ghosts are in fact real and she is the sole living being in the world to be able to bust their ghostly asses. During the opening scene we see a woman held at gunpoint by her husband. Tara busts in to save the day and eradicates the ghost, only after reminding him “6th Sense”-style that he’s actually a ghost and not living. This was an imaginative and interesting scene that had me compelled to move further.

Unfortunately, we don’t see Tara again until the last page of the book. I don’t why, but this really bothers me from a story structure standpoint. When your title is derived from your protagonist’s name, we need to see more than three pages of her. I fear there just wasn’t enough Tara in this issue.

This is not the say to rest of the book wasn’t enjoyable, but it left me with questions on inconsistency. The brunt of the book focuses on a team of television ghost hunters looking for spectres in an abandoned asylum. Great! The team is comprised of assholes and cowards, which makes their untimely demise being gruesomely eviscerated by a spectre with a grudge amazingly satisfying. Now, the problem I had with this is that thanks to Tara’s existence everyone knows ghosts are real. There’s even an eerie rendition of Anderson Cooper heralding this human enlightenment of life after death. I’ve got to believe that once people know there’s life after death and there is a famous real ghost hunter out there, shows like ghost charlatans would go the way of the dinosaur.

It’s a willing suspension of disbelief, to be sure, and pure conjecture on my part, but it did pull me out of the story.

Noel has a unique art style that at first was shocking in its cartoon nature, but I found after time it grew on me. It’s a stark departure from what you would expect in this type of title, but that juxtaposition between light hearted visages in such a dark motif was what made this title truly unique.

Again, Noel is on to something; I just think he needs to slow down the pacing a bit to accommodate for some world building and time to understand who Tara is, not just what she does.


Writer: Brian Anderson
Art: Celina Hernandez
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

SO SUPER DUPER, a series by Brian Anderson, focuses quite a bit on the interpersonal relationships of a young man who happens to get super powers. As Psyche, he rights wrongs and helps those in need with a team of other heroes who populate Anderson’s world of heroes. This is a world where the tone is light, but that doesn’t mean real issues are dodged or glossed over. It’s a world of complex issues and a world where its main character, Psyche, happens to be gay.

Now, sure, this is a comic that will most likely have a very specific audience. The overly macho mentality of many comic book readers might scoff at a gay comic or expect some kind of porn-filled cliché fest. But Anderson does a fantastic job of fleshing out the characters in his universe, especially Psyche and his mentor/love interest Captain Idol. Idolhas a myriad of powers, while Psycheis a fledgling super hero learning the ropes. Now, I haven’t read this series since its first issues, but in the interim it seems like it’s been quite a ride, with Psyche getting all sorts of powers as well as developing his psychic powers. Some of the dialog is clichéd almost Valley Girl talk, but it feels accurate in this book. And while some of the humor might come off as lame at times, there are quite a few chortle-worthy moments in this double sized final issue. This issue wraps up the current storyline nicely with some really good final silent panels telling how the events and revelations of the first few pages play out, and does so eloquently.

The thing that impressed me the most is the characterization of it all. Psyche has complex feelings just understanding his sexual leanings and trying to deal with them in various ways. He’s got to tell important people in his life about his homosexuality. He’s got to understand what his feelings mean. And he’s got to be comfortable with being gay. All of this seems to have occurred in this series, somewhere enmeshed in with some fun super hero action.

While I’m not gay myself, I enjoyed this book and would recommend this book to gay friends and/or those who are questioning their sexuality. While it is a straight up superhero yarn and never forgets to have a whole lot of fun, it also tackles real issues a gay man might have in the real world and offers a positive future to look forward to. SO SUPER DUPER is one of those rare indie gems which oozes optimism and positivity. And with angst ridden grim and gritty littering up the shelves, SO SUPER DUPER feels like a breath of fresh air.


Writer: Brian M. Bendis & David Mack
Art: Klaus Johnson & Bill Seinkiewicz
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy


I’m not a big fan of Daredevil. I just don’t find his cast or most of his stories all that riveting. That doesn’t mean I always hate him. I’ve read my copy of BORN AGAIN hundreds of times, and the Bendis run on DAREDEVIL is one of the strongest Marvel titles of the 2000s. So, when I read a few years ago that Bendis was returning to Daredevil to write “The Dark Knight Returns” for the character, I got incredibly excited. And then it didn’t come out. And it continued to not come out.

And finally, FINALLY, Bendis is back on Daredevil. The results are a little mixed, but well worth a read, especially if Bendis on Daredevil attracts your attention.

Writing: (4/5) END OF DAYS begins with a literal end of days, as Daredevil is dead by the fourth page. Bendis makes it feel like a real death--the culmination of Daredevil’s final great battle. Those first few pages are great, setting up the mystery of Matt Murdock exceptionally well.

The story doesn’t follow Daredevil, but instead Ben Urich as he tries to report on the incident. What follows is the mystery of Daredevil’s final word, and Urich recounting the events that led to the fateful day. Urich is wonderfully written, on the precipice of obscurity trying to prove that Daredevil shouldn’t share the same fate. When his son sadly notes that most of his classmates don’t even know who Daredevil is, Ben finally moves past the title and begins the story proper. Ben’s inner monologue as he writes the story is equally well done, forcing Ben to recount and try to summarize the life of not only a hero, but a friend he’d been estranged from. A great dynamic, and it produces one of the most engaging portraits of Urich since BORN AGAIN.

The only real problem is that Bendis tries to cram too much into this first issue. It features the final conflicts with both Bullseye and Kingpin, which might be a little too much. The mystery of what drove that conflict has yet to play out, but there’s nothing here to signify a change in Murdock that would allow for him to be so brazen and confrontational. Bendis just shows too much of his hand too early.

Art: (4/5) The art side of things compliments the gritty angle of the story well. During the two fight scenes, it’s positively brutal. Johnson and Hollingsworth combine brilliantly, producing one of the most painful fight scenes in recent memory. It’s the little details of the fight that make it so great. The crowds watching and recording the brawl, the manic smile on Bullseye’s face, the beautifully done gore of Daredevil’s death. Likewise, the Kingpin fight scene looks hard won and hard fought, and the reader can spot when the tide of the fight turns. It’s incredibly well staged and paced, and looks great.

A small nitpick, but the art doesn’t look quite as good when it focuses on the smaller moments. Ben and his son at the kitchen table is full of emotion, but many of the wide shots and even some of the close ups of Phil look odd and muddled.

Best Moment: The dinner scene between Phil and his son. It’s wonderfully well done.

Worst Moment: A little too much too soon.

Overall: (4/5) A solid start to what should hopefully be Bendis’s great finale for Daredevil.


Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Doug Mahnke
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Writing Rambler

You really have to give it to Geoff Johns and company. Almost 10 years after taking over the main GREEN LANTERN title they are still producing great storylines and have kept the characters fresh and at the top of the DCU. Other than a few misfires (I didn’t particularly care for BRIGHTEST DAY, as I’ve said in the past) the GREEN LANTERN events have been the comic book versions of summer blockbusters and it seems like the current “Rise of the Third Army” story is on track to be yet another classic. With that said, I have no idea why this current issue, GREEN LANTERN #13, is listed as the official start of the “Rise of The Third Army” tie ins. That blockbuster event that we saw teased in the excellent 0 issue has almost nothing to do with GREEN LANTERN #13. There’s one quick scene which seems just thrown in to remind us that the “Third Army” event is still happening, but otherwise this is a continuation of the new Earth Lantern Simon Baz’s background story.

Baz’s introduction is completely fluid with the universe around it and should be embraced by any true GL fan. Look at the history of the Earth Lanterns (I’m going to skip Alan Scott due to him not being an actual member of the Corps): you have Hal Jordan in 1959, Guy Gardner in 1968, John Stewart in 1972 and then Kyle Rayner in 1994. It’s been almost 20 years since the addition of a new Earth Lantern, and the time seems right. Each new addition reflected some of the current happenings in society, so to see Simon Baz (An American muslim who has been branded a terrorist due to the poor decision to steal a car that had a bomb in it) join the GL Corps works absolutely fine for today’s day and age. It doesn’t come across forced like some additions to books and may even work better than Kyle first did in the mid 90’s. Baz is a likeable character and both he and his family, particularly his sister in this issue, make the reader care about where his story is headed.

Johns weaves together a great story to move Baz’s character forward including showing just how our nation’s leadership views and plans to handle his “threat level”. I enjoyed this aspect to his character, as it started to shed some light on the hints we were given back in May’s Free Comic Book Day DC New 52 issue where we saw the Justice League and a then-unknown Baz at war with each other. I almost wish this whole Third Army story would have just waited a month or more so Baz’s introduction could have been its own event, but clearly he’ll be flying straight into the fire of this universe-changing story over the next few issues.

Doug Mahnke and crew are at their best as usual in this issue and really deliver a visually emotional story. The way he captures Simon’s sister’s expressions as she must deal with a community that has turned on her and her family after her brother is accused of being a terrorist paints the emotion right on the page. Mahnke produces fantastic work on GREEN LANTERN, and it is consistently one of the best-looking DC books out there.I make no claims that I’m not a complete GREEN LANTERN fanboy. I absolutely love it and would keep reading the book no matter what route it took, but with that said I’m also (at least in my mind) a fair person and I am willing to admit if something I love is just crap (I’m looking your way current RED LANTERN storylines and GREEN LANTERN film, which I will never get over). I say this only to stress that what’s happening currently within the pages of GREEN LANTERN is a great story that any comic book fan should love. Baz is a welcome addition to the GL Corps in my eyes and I hope he lasts throughout this “Third Army” event and going forward with whatever is next for GREEN LANTERN.

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


Writer: Glen Brunswick
Artist: Whilce Portacio
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

I should be writing my BATMAN 13 review right now or finishing the rest of the books for the SPOILER ART webcast tonight (brought to you every Tuesday – end plug), but when one’s brain is electrocuted from the mire of comic malaise there is an imperative to share the spark with geekdom.

Sci fi has been sucking wind for the past few years. It’s like when “Battlestar Galactica” ended, Anders took the zeitgeist of gut-rendering sci fi with him into the sun. Even though the Mayans predicted 2012 would be the end of all things, their funny little headdresses failed to see a resurgence of new interest in fantastic sci fi and sci fa material.

Image is really to thank for this second coming. With books like SAGA and now NON-HUMANS I would say they dominate the Philip K. Dick corner of comicdom with nary a rival in sight.

I don’t know if I 100% get NON-HUMANS, but this is one of the rare books that I appreciate for the confusion. I know the year is 2041. I know Oliver Aimes is a member of the LAPD who was raised on Bruce Springsteen. I know Oliver’s ex-wife hates him and his 14 year old son pretty much thinks he’s a dick.

What I also know, but am still left wondering how it could be possible, is that Aimes’ informant within the hood of Plastic Town is a foul-mouthed, dope peddling Teddy Ruxpin. I also know Aimes' son is banging a Victoria’s Secret mannequin and they have a “kid” together.

Don’t worry, you nor I had a stroke in that last paragraph. The NON-HUMANS are plastic come to life. I think. The spark of creation was a disease that allowed anyone’s imagination to create new life. Hence, in the year 2041, children are forced to take imagination suppression drugs to stem the birth rate of the continually burgeoning NON-HUMAN population.

The parallels to other sci fi properties are an easy way out to describe the realer than life characters and beyond our life imagination Brunswick and Portacio have captured here. I am truly in awe of this book and hunger to understand this world more through the Aimes family. They are us, in a world that I would have never conceived possible.

Image has been pumping out a ton of books this year and they have all been pretty goddamn good. Sadly, most of the books I simply couldn't recommend as "must continues" for any recession-affected comics fan. But Brunswick and Portacio have created more than an IP here, more than a concept; they created a great fucking comic book with legs longer than a Kenyan long jumper to succeed and flourish.


Writers: Pat Shand (script), Raven Gregory, Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Pat Shand (story)
Art: Dan Glasl (pencils), Tom Mullin & Jason Embury (colors)
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Reviewer: The Alter Egon

Zenescope has another book coming out this week, and as with THE JUNGLE BOOK earlier this year, they have reshaped a popular fable into the comely form of a very fit woman. And just how they made Mowgli a chick both to look up to and be very afraid of, they've done the same here with ROBYN HOOD.

The story starts out with a lot of action, and it's a well done scene. I just wasn't sure who the characters were. Maybe if I had read some of the other GRIMM FAIRY TALES stories I'd know, but really it's just an exciting way to start a book. I might have cared a bit more had I known these people fighting each other, but I got the gist that they are powerful and angry and the whole thing ends with a bald guy swiping a baby and leaving it on a doorstep.

Then we jump to present day, where Robyn is the new girl in school. She's been in and out of foster homes and schools all her life and this is another one. A lot of cliches happen in the school up until Robyn gives in to her urges to steal. In this case, it's the car of a schoolyard bully. When he wrecks into it with a friend's car, it leaves Robyn wounded dearly. At the same time, a peasant in the fantastical land called Myst sacrifices himself to a sorceress in exchange to pull the peasant's homeland's savior back into the realm to do her duty. Waiting in a prison cell, Robyn is pulled through a portal and finds herself in Myst, dubbed its new savior.

And that's the story we get so far. It's a good one. The action keeps things going at a fun rate. The highlight of the issue is the characterization of Robyn, who is a lost soul, a woman who won’t be caged, and not one to be messed with. I also like how she is a kleptomaniac, trying to steal in order to fill some hole in herself that is hurt. The issue is more reliant on magic than I think it should be since this is a Robin Hood comic, but this looks to be a nice and gritty action series featuring another strong female character from Zenescope, who highlight the beauty of women on their covers and their strengths in the stories inside. ROBYN HOOD is a strong start to this series and I'm hoping to see Little John and the rest pop up in future issues.


Writer: Frank J. Barbiere
Art: Chris Mooneyham
Publisher: Atlas Incognita
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Finishing out the column this week is an awesome indie gem called FIVE GHOSTS. Frank Barbiere has created a winner of a first issue introducing us mid-adventure to Fabian Gray, a man haunted by ghosts—five of them, to be exact. Though they most likely are not named for copyright reasons, the unnamed ghosts look a whole lot like Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Merlin the Magician, Robin Hood, and…a samurai, which I don’t know the name of. Sue me--I’m not up on my samurai literature.

These five literary characters can be harnessed in times of need. Gray needs some skills at thievery, channel Robin Hood. If magic is the only way out of a predicament, channel Merlin. But Barbiere is smart enough to plum the backlash of having these five characters in his soul by incorporating their weaknesses, too. In this first issue, Gray falls victim to a bloodlust he attempts to control, but can’t. I’m sure future issues will focus on the faults of the other ghosts which make them such timeless characters in the first place.

The issue does a fantastic job of introducing Fabian Gray, the world he lives in, the people he fights for, and the rules of the story. With Sebastian, his trusted best friend, Fabian Gray sets out to cure his ailing sister as well as deal with the ghosts that haunt him. The series opens many possibilities and questions. How did Gray become possessed by these spirits? Did he fall asleep on a few books in the library and absorb them into his mind via osmosis? Why these five literary characters? Are others possessed by other characters from favorite stories? Who knows? I don’t, but I wanna!

Chris Mooneyham provides the art, and it is absolutely stellar. With just enough detail to suggest movement and emotion, but not too much, his art brings to life Gray’s abilities and hauntings extremely well. Think Klaus Jansen with a better gift for natural human form and movement, or Howard Chaykin with less attention to blocky design, but the same sparcity of line that makes it all feel clean and non-cluttered, and you’ll have a good idea of what Mooneyham’s work looks like.

I’ve seen a lot of indie books come and go, but FIVE GHOSTS is quality through and through. I can’t wait for the second issue, as issue one is filled with action and the imagination that makes reading comics so much fun to read in the first place.

FIVE GHOSTS #1 will be premiering at this weekend’s New York Comic Con and is available through Atlas Incognita. Seek it out if you’re looking for the next big thing in indie comics.

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

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