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#28 11/19/08 #7

Happy Turkey Day, Faithful Talkbackers. It’s your holiday host Ambush Bug here. Normally we don’t announce comic shop events since it’s a bit too local for the interweb, but since this one is for a good cause, it’s worth a holler. Looks like Alan Moore has decided to enter the world of the living and do a book signing at his local comic shop (Close Encounters) in Northhampton. Alan will be joined by Melinda Gebbie this Saturday beginning at 1pm. The event is to help funding for a Romanian orphanage, so it’s a worthwhile cause and worth the trip. Click here for more information or email here.
Now, on with the reviews!

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) AVENGERS/INVADERS #6 KINGDOM COME SPECIAL: MAGOG #1 THE GOON #30 THUNDERBOLTS #126 HACK/SLASH #15-17 BEYOND WONDERLAND #1-3 Big Eyes for the Cape Guy presents PRINCESS RESURRECTION V4 Big Eyes for the Cape Guy presents BLEACH V1 COLLECTOR’S EDITION Indie Jones presents WOLVES OF ODIN OGN Indie Jones presents MR SCOOTLES TPB Indie Jones presents… CHEAP SHOTS!


Plot: Alex Ross & Jim Krueger (script) Art: Steve Sadowski & Patrick Berkenkotter Publisher: Marvel Comics/Dynamite Entertainment Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

First off, when this series came out, I was dubious as to how good it could be. After all, super-team crossovers are tricky things, and rarely do they satisfy. The ones I always liked were the ones where you would spend time with two folks from each team as they went off and fought two or three folks from the team of bad guys (and the Grandmaster always seem to be involved, at least in the Marvel 616.)
So I’ve been pleasantly surprised from the first issue. The dialogue has been entertaining, with at least one or two good zingers each issue (I’m still chuckling over “chronundrum” from last month.) The artwork has been pretty good as well, maybe a little stiff here or there, but with a great sense of portent, of happenings larger than life. And the plot has delivered over the past few months. But this month, things unravel just a bit.
Not overall. The overall plot is fine, and a great way to bring the two teams together, even if a little disbelief must be suspended here and there. Yes, Cap and the rest of the Invaders had to be a little muddle headed to make things work. Yes, the Avengers seem to be unusually uncompromising. That’s the thing about these crossovers—there has to be a fight, at least at first. I get that.
But the fight this issue…ouch. One of my pet peeves is when heroes or villains are deliberately depowered for the sake of the plot. You know, where the main plot might be about minor character who has to step up when no one else can, and an explosion goes off that takes out Wasp, and Hawkeye…and Thor. Yeah, right. But that was what the plot called for.
In this case, instead of an explosion, we have one hero wielding the one power that no one can seem to resist: absolute moral authority. He’s mad, he’s been wronged, and he’s unstoppable. Hey, it worked for WORLD WAR HULK, right? Except in that case, we were dealing with the freaking Hulk. Not a human matchstick.
So when someone like the original Human Torch says something like “You’ve never dealt with anyone like me before”…I just have to laugh. Because I’m thinking that they have: flame guy, blue uniform, hangs out with his sister and Stretcho and, well, you know…I don’t buy it. So why do the Avengers? Because the plot demanded it. But shouldn’t there be at least one fire extinguisher on a carrier that size?
This is the Avengers, and the mighty ones at that. And when the Avengers fight the Torch, let us not forget that we have not one, not two, but THREE Thor-level folks. Wonder Man can’t take a little heat? Ares can’t take the heat? Hey, you’ve got the guy that so strong that he actually DID take out the Hulk at the end of WWH, the Sentry, and he can’t take the heat? I just had to laugh.
And the team somehow SO anemic that they’re having problems with a bunch of LMD’s? Heck, we can see the Wasp taking out one by herself, Black Widow is handling three, and I’m supposed to believe those heavy hitters AND Ms. Marvel can’t handle some robots?
Oh yes. I called them robots. I know the 616 has some unique life forms that are artificial in origin but human through circumstance. Personally, I’m still rooting for the original Vision to come back, grab the Scarlet Witch by her neck and yell “No more skipping your lithium!” So I have nothing against Android-Americans. But did I miss the part of the standard LMD assembly process that imbues them with a soul? We can’t decide as a society whether or not unborn children have a soul, and I’m supposed to feel empathy for a legion of gearboxes with eyeballs? But that’s not even the most presumptuous assumption: I appreciate the subtle nuance of a good metaphor, but did I really just read a comic that compares the plight of human-looking machines to the Holocaust?
Look, I’ll give the creative team, artists and writers all, their props. They almost sold me. The numbers on the arm of the LMD was a particularly powerful image, I’ll give them that, and a lot more. But with all the other artistic licenses already pulled, this issue just collapsed under its own pretension, for me at least.
That doesn’t mean I won’t pick up the next issue. It just means that something that was supposed to be dramatic and powerful wound up being a little silly.


Writer: Peter Tomasi Art: Fernando Pasarin (pencils), Mick Gray (inks) Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Optimous Douche

I was truly agog when I saw MAGOG #1 it sitting on the shelf at my local LCS. Tomasi’s work on GREEN LENTERN CORPS has made him a scribe I will gladly follow into books I have previously dropped (GREEN LANTERN CORPS) or titles I never considered before (AQUAMAN). I’m also a zealot for KINGDOM COME and one of the few fans OK with the fact that this once Elseworlds future is now relegated to one of the 52 alternate universes in this brave new world of what I can only call After CRISIS (sort of like after M*A*S*H* without Jamie Farr).
While Tomasi did an admirable job with this issue, there were two glaring flaws.
First off this is the comic that didn’t need to be made. Like the Alex Ross Superman special from a week prior that gave us deeper insight into Grecian formula Superman, this book was supposed to peel back the skullcap of the new Magog and justify why he dispenses justice in the form of murder. Now, before he was Magog, he was Lance Corporal David Reid, grandson of FDR and career military man. And there’s the justification. Military men kill bad guys. Well, that’s all well and good, but let’s also remember that before Reid was reincarnated as Magog he was a member of the JSA, a group that never kills no matter how nefarious the bad guys might be. I’m not quite sure how his transformation absolves him of the Golden Age tenet “thou shalt not kill,” but in his mind it does. I guess being transformed into the son of Gog made him forget his JSA training.
I’ll be the first to admit evil-doers are far more interesting when they have underlying motives as opposed to just simply being evil, but this is Magog for Gog’s sake. Fans of KINGDOM COME will buy into him being the foil in the upcoming JSA special because we all remember what an epic cock he was twelve years ago. JSA fans will buy into him being evil, because his creator Gog has been offing bad guys with a laissez-faire attitude during his endless walk of goodness for the past umpteen issues of JSA.
And there’s the second problem: here is another very special issue of JSA, with Gog doing what he does best…walking and smiling. When the story isn’t traversing Reid’s past in flashback, we see the JSA trying to change the course of a river that was poisoned by jungle guerillas and enlist the help of Forrest Gog. When Gog finally does decide to stop walking for a few minutes, he kills the guerillas by turning them into a purifying water elixir and fixes the river’s course by stomping his foot. Once again this Godly douche has taken life, and while the JSA gets very perturbed they still let this guy keep walking. And the foot stomping just felt lazy. This scene was either not written very well or interpreted poorly. One foot stomp, some rumble of rock and voila, all is right again in the third world.
As I said Tomasi weaves a fine tale, but this one just felt like an editorial mandate to siphon an extra $3.99 out of this seemingly never-ending story. Even with a damn interesting Starman back-up story by Johns I still felt cheated at the end of the day for some reason. Perhaps I’m jaded, or perhaps this simply should have been woven into the main JSA title. You be the judge.
When Optimous Douche isn’t reading comics and misspelling the names of 80’s icons, he “transforms” into a corporate communications guru. Optimous is looking for artistry help, critical feedback and a little industry insight to get his original book AVERAGE JOE up, up and on the shelves. What if the entire world had super powers? Find out in the blog section of Optimous’ MySpace page to see some preview pages and leave comments.


Writer/Artist: Eric Powell Colors: Dave Stewart Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Guest @$$Hole Reviewer: steverodgers

When you read THE GOON you enter a Depression-era American city, where the hobos have been swapped with slackjaw zombies and Woody Guthrie has been replaced with a 6 foot 5, newsboy-capped gangster thug and his Orphan Annie-eyed, psychopathic, midget pal Franky and society has broken down into a never-ending series of cartoon violence. The retro-art by Eric Powell with colorist Dave Stewart adds to the time-out-of-mind experience with painterly sequential storytelling that reminds the reader of something and somewhere that you can never quite place but you’re pretty sure you’ve read about— maybe the Yellow Kid is there, maybe Dick Tracy or maybe a hungry band of undead Little Rascals. But luckily, it’s only the Goon.
THE GOON’s world is dark, might is right, and magical paranormal hullabaloo rubs elbows with orphans and their werewolf dog. It’s a horrible place that you want to visit each month because of the sophisticated juvenile humor that comes packed into each issue. THE GOON is funny. When you pay money for this comic you know that you are going to laugh, that things and people are going to be brutalized (then brutalized again) in some fantastic way, and if you’re lucky there might be a man whoring out his reluctant horse. Somehow it all adds up to a pretty sunny yarn that’s a solid diversion from whatever it is you need to be diverted from. It’s an elementary school Field Day sprint down into hell.
Recently, however, THE GOON has taken on a more somber feel. Powell has expressed his desire to bring more “depth” to THE GOON and that has meant a little less humor, more melodrama and a lot more killing, as the Goon jockeys with his nemesis Labrazio and his Lonely Street hordes for control of the town. Goon’s gang, whom we have grown to love over 30 issues, is being whittled down by the murderous Labrazio. This includes the Bog Lurk creature, Bill Mudd, one of the loveable Mudd Brothers who was sold out by the treacherous Merle the werewolf; the Goon in retribution tortures Merle through the night and finally a darker Goon than we are used too offs him with a silver bullet. Something about this change of tone had rattled me a bit, especially in this issue. Maybe it is the heartwarming scene between a pal of the Goon’s and the orphans that is prematurely broken up by Labrazio; maybe it is the dire warning of Taliba the Gypsy to the Goon to not let darkness touch his heart (it’s starting to touch mine); or Franky adding heretofore unseen emotional weight by accepting the Goon’s bond with his ex-girlfriend (she wronged him) even while he reminds her of his past threat to murder her. The serious turn of the comic makes all the exuberant throttling and “floppy neck syndrome” that has happened in the past seem a little bit more real.
All of this is getting me to see a new Goon. Maybe the Goon isn’t a loveable thug operating in a cartoon world; maybe he’s just an opportunistic bully, the type of guy who will kill a dude over some ripe sauerkraut. Maybe a knife to the eye isn’t that funny—maybe it’s actually a knife to the eye. By adding “depth,” Powell has taken away the two-dimensionality that lets us laugh at all the torture and mayhem and makes me wonder if we are to take these characters seriously, then aren’t their actions serious, and doesn’t that make me seriously disturbed for laughing?
Maybe I am reading too much into it and a knife to the eye is always funny. In the end the art alone will have me happily following Powell into whatever zombie ridden hobo-jungle kill zone he has planned for the Goon and his pals. It does however change the way I read the comic; I am really not sure what the next issue of THE GOON will bring and I am unsure of what my expectations should be.
With this issue, Powell really seems to be trying to stretch the world and characters he created and although currently for me it’s not as good as what came before, I’m betting each month with my comic book dollar it might end up being that much better in the end.


Writer: Andy Diggle Artist: Roberto De La Torre Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Rock-Me Amodeo

There seems to be a tendency in my favorite team books where the writer builds all his characterization into the surrounding players, and merely uses the title characters as foils and props. I can’t remember the last time I read two consecutive issues of AVENGERS that actually featured Avengers. THUNDERBOLTS has been doing this for a while, too, (during Gage’s mandated SECRET INVASION crossover, and before with Ellis) but Ellis did such a great job, no one cared. His run was like an all-you-can-eat buffet of beer and funnel cakes at the county fair. And we all indulged with gusto, myself included, happily. Only recently did I wake up with a literary hangover, smelling of grease and confectionery sugar, and wondering forlornly, “Whatever happened to The Thunderbolts?”
You remember them. Melissa, Karla, Abe, Hallie, know…PEOPLE. Actual characters. Not props.
Well, this issue, I think, marks the return of the Thunderbolts in a way I remember. Where we get to see what these people are thinking, what they’re planning, and not just reacting to the crisis de jour. Where we see the sometimes fine line between pragmatic, brutal “heroes” and villains that operate barely this side of the law. These were the things that made this book great, and they are here again.
Though most of the focus is on Osborn (maybe a little too long), much focus was on Songbird, and I would love to see her return to center stage. She is the heart of the Thunderbolts, much as Captain America has always been the heart of the Avengers, at least until she BECOMES an Avenger. And she’s never going to fulfill her destiny of becoming an Avenger at this rate (or maybe she needs to be pushed OFF this stage and onto a bigger one?) I would love to see Robbie do more than sulk or burn, and I think we’re on our way with this issue. I think Chen deserved some face time, but it looks like he’s not going to get much more; if he doesn’t, then everyone missed their chance to flesh out a fascinating character.
The fact that Osborn and Bullseye are feature prominently makes me feel that one of them may well be on their way out, which would make me quite happy. And at least one of them NEEDS to go.
As much fun as these characters are, they’re like twice as much curry in a good recipe: once you add that much, it tends to overpower everything else. No one can be nuanced with two pit-bulls in the ranks. My guess is Bullseye is bye-bye, while Osborn sets up for an even larger stage that reflects his place in the new, post SI status quo. We’ll see.
At any rate, instead of caring for the bit players (American Eagle, five-armed Spider-Guy, Doc Samson) and watching the main characters from a distance, Diggle is allowing us to watch two of the characters (Karla and Melissa) that made this book…at least until he shakes everything up in another issue or two. Still, I’ll take it. And De La Torre’s artwork is nothing short of outstanding.
This book continues to impress, and Diggle’s first issue at Marvel (since his PUNISHER one-shot) is an excellent benchmark of things to come. He will hopefully make the book his own, and I think we’re seeing the beginning of that. And I don’t think Diggle is rearranging the “pieces” so much as he is working with his characters (there IS a difference.)


Story: Tim Seeley (script) & Barry Keating Art: Emily Stone Publisher: Devil’s Due Reviewer: Ambush Bug

HACK/SLASH is a love note to 80’s horror--specifically, a love note to slasher horror that was prominent in the 80’s. Having been weaned on the teat that was 80’s horror, I often find myself enjoying HACK/SLASH. Sure, horror from that time gets a bad rap. It is often called misogynistic, unimaginative, and downright cheesy, but there’s nothing like a good old 80’s slash n’ dash film to make me smile. Writer/series creator Tim Seeley must share my passion for horror from that time because from cover to cover, HACK/SLASH homages the hell out of it.
This latest HACK/SLASH arc raised some controversy when the legal department representing the RE-ANIMATOR movies tussled with Devil’s Due over the rights to use the Herbert West character. I can understand protecting the rights of your property, but in reality, HACK/SLASH is only guilty of writing a pretty fine story and making me want to rewatch those old RE-ANIMATOR movies.
As with the last crossover involving the stars of HACK/SLASH’s meeting with killer doll Chucky from CHILD’S PLAY, writer Seeley, with some help from writer Barry Keating, doesn’t just hamfist mad doctor Herbert West into the story. They give Herbert West an important role to play in the origin of Cassie Hack, the star of this series. Seems he worked with Cassie’s father for a time. Not only that, but West brings Cassie’s serial killer mother back from the grave to torment her even more. The fact that Dr. West is tied so closely to our star really makes the story more than just a throw-away crossover.
The crossover isn’t the only cool thing about this series. HACK/SLASH delves into the mythology of the 80’s serial killer and tries to make connections and explanations that never really have been dealt with before. What gives all of these killers their motivation? Why do they seem to all be impervious to pain? And why do they never seem to die? Sure, the real reason for this is because in the 80’s there are knock-offs after knock-offs of groundbreaking horror films such as BLACK CHRISTMAS, HALLOWEEN, and FRIDAY THE 13th, but when set in the comic book world of HACK/SLASH, explanations more interesting than mere hackery are delved into. The result is a respectful and smart tribute to a genre of horror that more often than not is scoffed at by the general public.
For quite some time, I have been waiting for someone with talent to come along and highlight that which was special in those 80’s chillers. HACK/SLASH does this in spades and is worth a look to horror movie fans. This crossover with the RE-ANIMATOR is yet another great arc in a series that continues to be a winner.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, reviewer and co-editor at AICN Comics for over seven years. Check out a five page preview of his short story published in MUSCLES & FIGHTS 3 (AVAILABLE NOW at Muscles & on his ComicSpace page. There you can also see a five page preview of his short story in MUSCLES & FRIGHTS! Bug was recently interviewed here and here at Cream City Comics.


Written by: Raven Gregory (with Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco) Illustrated by: Dan Leister Published by: Zenescope Entertainment Reviewed by: Ryan McLelland

I’m a relative newbie to Zenescope’s line of what I like to call “totally screwing with classic fairy tales.” I AM a big fan of the genre (even working on a book like that myself) so it is a big sigh of relief to get a killer book like BEYOND WONDERLAND in my grubby little hands.
While the book is a continuation of the Wonderland saga already presented in other Zenescope titles like RETURN TO WONDERLAND, readers luckily don’t need the early books to get what the hell is going on. What is going on? Well it is not about some ten-year-old named Alice running amok in some strange land.
Rather the book follows a busty brunette named Lacy who has since fled Wonderland for the safe streets of New York City. That’s right…safe streets, as Wonderland is a far-off place full of horrible creatures and constant danger. Lacy has changed her name, gotten a job, and is trying to get on with her life though she is consistently haunted by the horrible Wonderland memories.
Though the girl can escape Wonderland, it seems there are those in Wonderland, like the twisted Mad Hatter, who will never let Calie (Lacy’s old moniker) go – doing whatever they can to screw over her life in this world. That’s right – the horrendous fairy tale has brought horror straight to Lacy’s doorstep as her life quickly falls apart.
This series is wonderful, brought to life by the phenomenal artwork of Dan Leister. This guy is a full-on kung-fu master of the ‘good girl’ art. Never have I been more thankful to an artist for bringing the New York City streets to life and filling it with beautiful women like Lacy. I sort of feel like a perv from that statement, but I am reading a modern day fairy-tale nightmare starring a totally hot chick so I don’t feel too bad. Raven Gregory unwinds this nightmare with finesse and I’m just pissed because I don’t have the next issue…something I need to pick up NOW. For those looking for a haunting experience starring characters you’ve loved in the past that will scare the hell out of you now, BEYOND WONDERLAND is the book for you.
Ryan 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 Arcana’s PHILLY, WISE INTELLIGENCE, UPTOWN GIRL, and THE SENTINELS ANTHOLOGY. He rarely updates his blog but when he does it can be read at


By Yasunori Mitsunaga Released by Del Rey Reviewer: Scott Green

There are a number of phrases that I attempt to avoid whenever possible. "Slice of life." "Like X on mind altering substance Y." And, relevant to PRINCESS RESURRECTION, "guilty pleasure." Not only is this latter one overused, I don't find it to be particularly accurate. It's not as if by watching trashy anime or reading offensive manga you're wasting time that you otherwise would have spent deriving a solution to the global financial meltdown. Yet, given the kind of anime and manga of which I've been critical, defending PRINCESS RESURRECTION as a favorite is a bit tricky.
Hiro Hiyorimi is an unembellished instance of the nobody who gets the girl(s) character archetype. Starting out as an entirely nondescript school boy, he's brought back from his accidental death to become the champion of Hime (literally "princess"), the second daughter in the royal line of monsters. This unlikely prominence is compounded as the female members of Hime's fractious yet growing monster cadre develop affections for the undead loser. The classmates who can spit blood in jealousy that the clueless Hiro gets to spend time with the local vampire student queen bee or the hot blooded werewolf girl tend to be a bit cretinous, and Hiro seems like an okay guy, but if PRINCESS RESURRECTION weren't otherwise interesting, this agency-free blank slate would make for an aggravating protagonist.
This sort of wish fulfillment relationship comedy can be given to more pandering than cleverness. However, personally, PRINCESS RESURRECTION overcame my antipathy for that part of the premise. I'm not going to say that PRINCESS RESURRECTION is one of the more inspired manga that you can find, but Mitsunaga's appealing design mixed with an affection for horror tropes does it for me.
In PRINCESS RESURRECTION, you get what the cover advertises: the manga version of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER - avenging last girl. Each volume features an image of Hime in a goth gown hefting some extravagant weapon, such as the giant pair of scissors on volume four. Hime in her scream queen regalia and Hiro in his shirt and slacks wander into a ghost town and find something a bit like one of the European interpretations of a slasher movie. From a farm house, she grabs an imposing scythe, he grabs a hoe, and the death match against the local bag headed stalker is on. Volume four also offers the bickering, hand-cuffed vampire and werewolf in a showdown against a Harryhausen cyclops, an ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 / Alamo situation against a horde of lesser vampires, and a cross between THE FLY and MIMIC in a sub-mansion system of catacombs.
As PRINCESS RESURRECTION is read, you're watching someone who is evidentially a genre fan construct homages to a wide range of favorites, then execute those familiar set pieces with manga vitality. Mitsunaga gets into a fluid rhythm with the manga's illustration. The sexy young women of anime/manga are cast with an eye towards fashion and black (the shade, not the mood) aesthetic. These character don't lose their attractive distinctiveness as Mitsunaga fits them into intricately rendered horror context shots. Panels of a stubby Franken-maid at the shore of a murky lake or wolf and vampire looking into a stone, medieval European street are beautiful examples of cross genre/cross cultural mash-ups. Working off this, Mitsunaga goes in a couple of intertwined directions. There's action/violence, which is often people getting stabbed, bludgeoned or otherwise grievously injured, often with storms of speed lines, gushers of inky blood and infernos of flame; PRINCESS RESURRECTION is manga that does love its arterial sprays and dismemberments. And, there's slapstick with comic strip style cartooned expressiveness.
The accumulation of these elements is shamelessly fun, even if it isn't genre defining brilliance. Its faults are actually a testament to the extent of its accomplishments. Though there is a progressing continuity at work in PRINCESS RESURRECTION, it is very situation based. A premise is introduced, and while there might be ongoing implications, matters are resolved over the course of a 40 page chapter. Maybe as a function of fitting the development and resolution of the story into that page count, the manga ends up doing a lot of teasing. Both small and grand elements that are introduced never see action. A given story promises the deployment of an army in violation of Hime's game of king making. This will probably be brought to bear later, but in that story, it was a disappointment. In another case, the cast gears up, with Hime grabbing a chainsaw, Hiro a battle axe, and the Franken-maid a sledge hammer. Turn the page, and the action is resolved, the characters are drinking tea, and the story is ending.
Beyond that, and despite the frequency of characters getting shanked in the ribs, it is often more about the impression than actual, graphic violence. For example, a character promises to torture Hiro, then comically slaps him around, followed by a later panel with a bloody knife getting licked. This difference between expectation and actuality might be partially the result of unfamiliarity with the manga's background. PRINCESS RESURRECTION ran in SHONEN SIRIUS. That's an anthology dominated by moe or bishojo manga, with cute girls integrated into various genres from sci-fi/fantasy to horror like PRINCESS RESURRECTION. As opposed to an anthology like SHONEN ACE (home to MPD PSYCHO and THE KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE), you're really not likely to get stomach turning expressions of grisly scenes.
PRINCESS RESURRECTION’s a cute enough and fun enough date that it's possible to forgive plenty of it's teasing. Early on, the manga seemed to be limiting itself to the Universal Monsters. When that was the scope, the manga looked like it might have been in danger of wearing out its premise. In that respect, volume four turns the corner. As Mitsunaga's set the sights wider for the manga's inspirations, concerns about tiring of seeing Hime swat monsters with chainsaws have been allayed. Especially as a horror fan, the manga's been evocative enough that it's created anticipation for what's coming next. It isn't often that the untranslated, out of context previews pages that Del Rey appends to their manga releases excite me, but a glimpse of the cast in a DAY OF THE DEAD scenario earns PRINCESS RESURRECTION VOLUME FIVE a spot on my looking-forward-to calendar.
Scott Green has been writing for AICN ANIME for close to seven years. If you like what you see here and love anime & manga, be sure to check out his latest AICN ANIME column here.


Written and Illustrated by: Tite Kubo Publisher: VIZ Media Reviewer: Ryan McLelland

I was totally unfamiliar with BLEACH, which you can take as I’ve been truly out of the loop on some books or series. BLEACH is popular the world over and for good reason – it is a fairly unique and fun story by Tite Kubo. Viz Media has put together a great BLEACH COLLECTOR’S EDITION HC which is perfect for those looking for a better copy for your bookshelf.
The plot is not so simple: Bleach is a 15-year-old student from a, as usual, not so normal family. Bleach himself can see ghosts, which doesn’t really bother him much until he starts seeing big ol’ angry ghosts. Through circumstances beyond his control, Bleach becomes a Soul Reaper whose job is to kill the angry ghosts thusly releasing them from Earth for the after-afterlife.
There’s nothing truly new here. While called a ‘Collector’s Edition’ there isn’t any extras, pin-ups, sketches, or thought processes by Kubo. Rather if you’ve read BLEACH before basically what you are paying for is just the hardcover. The hardcover is pretty damn sweet so if it is your thing and you don’t already own BLEACH it is well worth the pickup. However if you have BLEACH in your collection already and wondering what this offers beyond a snazzy dust cover then you are better off not even putting too much thought into it.


By Grant Gould Publisher: Super Real Graphics Reviewer: superhero

Throughout history there have been certain perfect combinations: peanut butter and chocolate, sex and leather, super-heroes and secret identities. Well, now it looks like another pairing can be added to that list: Vikings and werewolves. Or, I should say, Vikings versus werewolves. That's the basic concept for WOLVES OF ODIN, the new one shot from SuperReal Graphics.
The story here is pretty straightforward. In ancient Norse lands a band of werewolves have been roaming the countryside, decimating village after village, leaving almost no survivors in their wake. No one can stand against them except for a small group of Viking warriors, and even they are facing what seem to be impossible odds. At first read the story seems every bit as bit simplistic as the basic concept, but as the book continues certain elements are revealed that add a layer of creepy mysticism to the tale. WOLVES OF ODIN takes great advantage of the trappings of its genre and plays not only on the combat aspect of Viking history and fiction but draws much from the religious folklore of the period as well. Thor, Odin, and even a certain trickster half-brother all play a major role in the book even if they themselves are not actually physically present. As a result WOLVES is elevated beyond just being a hack and slash horror tale with a twist.
Creator Grant Gould does a great job of delivering an impressive package with WOLVES OF ODIN. The art in the book is very well done and Gould has an obvious talent for setting up the perfect atmosphere in a particular scene with his use of color. While I thought some of the actual figure drawing looked a bit rushed in places, Gould more than makes up for that with his coloring skill and his direct storytelling ability. ODIN is a book that has a unique and gloomy look to it--a look that is perfectly suited for the story being told.
With this latest publication, SuperReal Graphics puts out another winning book. Much like their previous comic, GNOME, this book takes me back to days gone by. This time, though, WOLVES OF ODIN reminds me of the hours upon hours of time spent at a tabletop rolling dice with my D & D friends. Those were good times and any comic book that can give me the same old feeling I had when I was rolling a twenty sided die to fend off a marauding gang of orcs is a great comic book indeed.
Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. He's been an @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at


Written and Illustrated by: H.C. Noel Published by Alterna Comics Reviewed by: Ryan McLelland

Someone should seriously give Alterna Comics an award, because in collecting the amazing MR SCOOTLES saga in one massive trade paperback they have published their finest book. I have a true kinship for MR SCOOTLES; it was one of the first indie books I found when I got into comic journalism. My quote, from another site I once worked for, proudly graces the back cover shouting, "It's Damn Good!" I was lucky enough to sit at the same table with Noel at one great SPX where we drank excessively and tried hard to sell each other's books. I also covered a story where MR SCOOTLES was being put out by another publisher without Noel's control.
So what the hell is the hubbub all about? The story follows two art students who find a film can that contains a long forgotten cartoon of MR SCOOTLES. Watching this cartoon sets off a chain of events that could literally bring Hell to Earth's doorstep. Mr. Scootles himself is born and lands in hell, trying to make his way through a world that doesn't make sense while, back on Earth, the art students find themselves embroiled in what could be the most important mistake of all time.
MR SCOOTLES is unique, the plot phenomenal, the pacing amazing, the artwork superb...I really think there aren't enough adjectives in the world to do this book justice. How good is it? It's damn good...too damn good...and I'm so glad that this collection is out so those out there who never had a chance to read it can finally do so. For fans who love the series there is also reason to buy the trade, as the latest "issue" was never put to print as an individual comic and saved for this collection, wrapping up the first arc of this series.
MR SCOOTLES is just a book that won't disappoint, especially for those out there looking to get away from the same old crap you read month after month. With this wide release we can only hope that the book gets a wider audience and thusly causes new issues to come more often then they have. Head to toe and start to finish Noel has created a book that is truly timeless. There is, without a doubt, no other indie book on the market today that I could recommend higher.

Hey folks, Ambush Bug here. We’ve got a heaping helping of Indie goodness for just in time for Turkey Day! We’ve got a pair of biographical works (one for a dancer, the other a master of the macabre), an adaptation of one of the most important documents in US history, a pair of highly original zombie prose, and a book done in 24 hours. So say Grace, and dig in to some comics with an independent flavor.


Teachers be aware! This was the most interesting and entertaining mode of education about the United States Constitution I have ever read. I remember my Social Studies class. Sure, I got a lot out of Mr. Worthington’s long-winded lectures, but I’m sure even he was bored with some of the stuff he was teaching my fresh young mind. If only Mr. Worthington had this book, I think I may have retained even more of one of the building blocks of our country. I’ve read some biographical and educational comic books in my time and the one thing that all of them had in common was that they were boring as hell. Just because the material is not the most exciting in the world, that doesn’t mean the comic has to be visually stagnant. Hill & Wang’s US Constitution adaptation is the exact opposite. It offers a variety of cool imagery and vivid storytelling. There’s not a dry or boring page in this book. Sure, it’s filled with crucial facts behind both the making of the Constitution and the article itself, but writer Jonathan Hennessey and artist Aaron Mitchell give it their all to make the story fresh and alive. I’m serious when I recommend this to teachers all around. Instead of that stale old Social Studies book you’ve been reading since I LOVE LUCY dominated the airwaves, order THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION: A GRAPHIC ADAPTATION. You will be educating the kids and entertaining them too. If you’re looking to get your students engaged or if you’re just interested in a refresher course on US History, check this book out.


First they make the US Constitution cool again, now Hill & Wang do what big time comic book publishers like IDW (with their Barbiturate-laced PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL biographies of Obama & McCain) fail to do: make an interesting biography. This book succeeds for the same reason THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION: A GRAPHIC ADAPTATION does: it presents the story and art in a genuinely creative manner. In this case, writer/artist Sabrina Jones’ fascination with the influential dancer is evident from the very first page. Jones shows great artistic range by transcribing the ups and downs of Ms. Duncan, a true free spirit who lived in a time when it wasn’t accepted to do so. Although poo-pooed by the elite for her barefoot and robed dances reflecting inner thoughts and feelings rather than classical ballet techniques, Isador managed to raise children, marry, develop her own schools of dance, and influence modern dance to this very day. Sure, the spandex and ‘splosions crowd may scoff at this type of book, but it serves as a true testament to the versatility of comic books and a gateway drug to a whole new population that may have never stepped into a comic shop. Who said learning has to be boring? Reading these books by Hill & Wang really taught me something--something I can’t say for the latest (or any) issue of ASBAR. In the end, ISADORA DUNCAN: A GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY is a book done with care and oozing with affirmation for and inspiration to those bold enough to dance and dream.


This is an impressive first issue of a magazine that looks like it will be focusing on a different aspect of horror in each issue. Issue one focuses on Edgar Allen Poe. The magazine offers a new Poe origin tale of sorts. Being the enigmatic and mysterious figure that he was, Poe’s life lends itself to a lot of artistic interpretation. This historical jaunt interweaves highlights of Poe’s more famous stories with actual facts. The inclusion of the actual inscription on Poe’s tombstone was pretty indicative that the man only achieved fame after he was in the grave, yet the tragedy of his life is presented in fine form here. The book also highlights some very talented gothic artists and a few stabs at short fiction. I found this magazine to be a pretty thorough and engrossing look at one of horror’s most famous authors and a nice showcase for gothic talent in the ways of both the printed word and the drawn/painted line.


Although I can’t qualify this pair of short novels printed on paper with a graphic illustration on the cover as traditional comic books, I can qualify them as some damn fine reading. Both books were offered for sale at this year’s Monroeville, Pennsyvania 2008 Zombie Fest and both stories are of the highest quality. THIN THEM OUT is a parallel tale of one zombie’s journey and a group of survivors who are on a collision course. Written by Kim Paffenroth, R.J. Sevin, and Julia Sevin, this story does what so few zombie comics fail to do: offer something new to the zombie genre. Here not only do we go into the mind of a zombie, but the survivors are faced with such moral dilemmas as which children to bring with them while fleeing zombies. This is a surprisingly personal tale about one zombie who has a fleeting grasp on what it was like to be a human and a group of humans who are forced to release that grasp in order to survive. It is a harrowing tale with a pulse that quickens right up to the last word.
The second chapbook entitled FLESH IS FLEETING…ART IS FOREVER (or, SOME BULLSHIT WILL CONTINUE EVEN AFTER THE DEAD WIPE US OUT) is probably the best zombie story I’ve read this year. This is true mainly because it tells a zombie story from a perspective that is completely fresh and told in a way that has never been done before in the zombie genre. A type of zombie fiction that is becoming more and more fascinating to me is a story that moves past the initial outbreak type tale and tells a story set in a society that has already accepted that the dead rise. Sure it’s still unsettling, but telling a story of what happens after the first shock is something that is more interesting to me. And that’s what you get with this book, which focuses on a famous conductor’s effort to bring back Art to a post-apocalyptic society. Written as if it were to be submitted to the high society section of a newspaper or finer magazine, this story focuses on every minute detail from the quality of the programs to the decorations in the auditorium…everything except the fact that the orchestra is made of zombies. The story makes the mundane interesting by satirizing pish-posh reviewers and those who spell art with a capital A and crescendos with a grand finale that elevates this story from amusing to something quite profound and imaginative. It’s a story that must be read to get the entire message. And don’t worry, those of you who avoid prose like vampires to crosses--these chapbooks are quick reads, but within those short prose pages is some of the coolest zombie action you’ll read this year.

MASSIVE HEADACHE: A 24 Hour Comic by Dale Wallain

In this day and age where primadonna artists take months upon years to finish a 22 page comic, I think some words of praise should be offered to those professional artists out there with enough dedication to finish their drawing in a timely manner. Artist Dale Wallain draws with indie flair, so you folks who want polished photo-realism are sure to be disappointed, but nevertheless, Wallain’s command of the pencil is impressive. This story tells a simple tale of one man’s personal struggle with migraines. I don’t know if the artist himself suffers from this malady, but the story is heartfelt enough for me to believe in this pain on the page. If the speedy hands of Mr. Wallain can craft this type of terrific yarn in a mere 24 hours, the work he takes his time on should be fantastic. Pampered artisans look out, there’s a whole crop of artists out there more than willing to step into those shoes your manicured toes reside in. If you don’t put down the X-Box and start working in a professional manner, you may find your job filled by such talented and worthy artisans as Dale Wallain. You can read Wallain’s full 24 hour story on his MySpace page.

Well, that should be enough to fill you up until next time. If you have an indie book you want one of the @$$Holes to look at for review, click on the name of your favorite @$$Hole and let them know.

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, reviewer and co-editor of AICN Comics for over seven years. Check out a five page preview of his short story published in MUSCLES & FIGHTS 3 (AVAILABLE NOW at Muscles & on his ComicSpace page. There you can also see a five page preview of his short story in MUSCLES & FRIGHTS! Bug was recently interviewed here and here at Cream City Comics.

FANTASTIC FOUR #561 Marvel Comics

YAAAAAAWWWWWWNNNN! Gah. Well, damn. Is this story arc still going on? Looks like the big finale finally came about and it turned out to be quite the dud. Now, if this story had some balls, they’d have ****SPOILER**** killed off young Sue instead of offing the old one****END SPOILER****, instead we’re back to Status Quo’sville, hep cats. This really has been an underwhelming run for Millar, proving that even he doesn’t have the Midas Touch for everything. Even with the talented pencils of Bryan Hitch, this book still lacks the luster to even be mildly entertaining. My only hope is that Millar will move on to his next project and a creative team understanding of the concept of family and fun will be assigned to this book. Right now, it’s about as boring as you can get. - Bug

X-FACTOR #37 Marvel Comics

What a difference the right artist can make! Larry Stroman’s grotesque and near-abstract pages just didn’t mesh with the down-to-earth attitude of Madrox’s team of mutants (well, down-to-earth compared to the other X-books, anyway), but with the more realistic pencils of Valentine DeLandro on this issue, everything fell into place. Jamie Madrox looks human again rather than looking like some sort of hamster; ditto for Monet and Siryn, and DeLandro actually manages to update Longshot’s uber-mullet into a hairstyle that, while still keeping business in the front and party in the back, manages to look hip. And the plot and subplots that had been faltering over the past few issues are now cooking nicely. This book just jumped from my “one-more-issue-then-I’m-dropping-it” list to the “can’t-wait-to-see-what-happens-next” list. - BottleImp


I’ve gotta give Frank Tieri some credit for stocking this new lineup of Outsiders with some offbeat choices. I like the idea of Batgirl trying to replace the “mysteriously missing” Batman with a set of heroes that don’t measure up to the Caped Crusader by themselves, but represent all of the Batman’s talents and abilities when put together. Tieri’s got balls dropping the previous cast of the book in favor of a completely new crew. But a shake up is needed for this title which has been losing steam from the beginning. Vigilante, Spoiler, Man Bat, Batgirl, and possibly the Riddler--sounds like a fun mix. Now if only Tieri would toss in other Gotham oddities like Ragman, Richard Dragon, and maybe even Jason Blood, this would be a comic to stand up and cheer for. The art is decent from Fernando Dagnino, but he could work on making Man Bat look a bit more monstrous and a bit less goofy. I’m going to be trailing close behind this book to see if the stories match the cool cast being set up. It’s not the comic itself, but the potential coolness of this comic that will have me back for another issue. - Bug

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #578 Marvel Comics

Well, BND is long behind us, and the days of hip, happening Peter Parker and his groovy friends are hopefully long gone, too. And, as always, I miss Mary Jane, I do. Any issue I pick up, I pick it up wanting to hate it. But I can’t deny this was a good story. With Mark Waid at the helm, and pencils by Marcos Martin, I think the weakest page of the whole book was probably the first page. I possibly should have made this a full review, but it would have been just me saying over and over again “I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this issue.” Great, eye-catching artwork and a classic villain. Also, as a true-blue comic geek, I truly appreciated the homage to several classic Ditko-era Spiderman poses. One was, of course, the classic “Spidey holds something heavy over his head,” but the last page was also very cool, with the introduction of a character that completely took me by surprise. Recommended. - Rock-Me

THE HELM #4 (of 4) Dark Horse Comics

Well, it’s over and everything is more or less wrapped up in a nice little package (there are still little details that remain somewhat nebulous, but perhaps I’m nitpicking). Writer Jim Hardison mentions in the letters page that he has more HELM stories in mind, so even though the majority of this miniseries never again reached the level of entertainment that was contained in the first issue, there’s hope that the comic potential of a fat fanboy and his talking hat will be explored more fully down the road. - BottleImp


Another damn fine issue from writer Gregg Hurwitz, who continues to write some gritty action upholding the quality of this book after Ennis’ departure. My only complaint is with the fucktards in editorial who decided to put a gigantic spoiler on the cover which ruins the big reveal of the issue. Now, I understand they wanted to cash in on the tie-in with the upcoming film, and I probably should have seen it coming in this story, but I was honestly let down when I saw the cover to this issue. Despite the cover, though, this is still a great comic. But the cover really does a disservice to the excellent story. - Bug

If you missed Monday’s Shoot the Messenger Column, you missed a huge interview with THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY writer and MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE frontman Gerard Way where he talked about the new UA miniseries, the upcoming UA movie, and a ton of other stuff. You also missed out on previews for SHEENA and UNKNOWN SOLDIER (in stores now) and SUPER HUMAN RESOURCES (available to order in December and in stores in February). Plus the winners to our JOHN HOWE: FORGING DRAGONS/HOBBIT Casting Call Contest were announced. Check it out here and look for SHOOT THE MESSENGER every Monday with news, interviews, previews, and all other types of ews!

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