Archive for the ‘Capsule Reviews’ Category

Rating System:
**** : Excellent
*** : Good
** : Fair
* : Poor
Zero : Horse Shit

Doomwar #6 (of 6)
By Jonathan Maberry and Scot Eaton

The conclusion of Jonathan Maberry’s excellent mini-series arrived this week and my LCS actually had a copy of it sitting on the shelf when I showed up this time, way to wait until the last issue to get your shit straight guys! Doomwar up to this point had been the best thing Marvel has put out this year, not that most people seemed to have noticed. Even Marvel seemed to have lost interest in this series after a few issues, their loss I guess. My biggest worry for this series is that the conclusion to the story would not live up to the setup. I mean, Doom is a major bad guy for any hero to handle and this time around old Doc Doom seemed to finally have the Black Panther and Wakanda’s number, it wasn’t looking good for T’Challa and the small band of heroes committed to stopping Doom.

Maberry does something interesting here to bring this series to an end. Early in this issue Doom’s final plan for taking over the world has finally come to fruition and he becomes more powerful than he has ever been before. Now, I was expecting either some sort of ‘Deus Ex Machina’ to arrive that would stop Doom this time around, all of Earth’s heroes show up to kick his ass or Mr. ‘Deus Ex Machina’ himself, Reed Richards, to invent some sort of secret weapon that would take him out. To my surprise Maberry has T’Challa make a very tough decision that will stop Doom’s plans for world conquest, but at the same time forever change the economic and political future of Wakanda.

At first I was like… “WTF is Mayberry doing here? He’s screwing Wakanda big time.” But after I thought about it I can see where Maberry is coming from here. Vibranium has always been a double edged sword for Wakanda and T’Challa, it did bring the country a measure of world power and prosperity, but it also attracted guys like Doctor Doom and other threats. I look forward to seeing how Wakanda finds it way in the world as a country without most of it’s Vibranium.

All in all, Jonathan Maberry brings this series to a surprising and satisfying end here, and I look forward to his future stories.

IronMuskrat’s Rating: ****

J.’s Two Cents Worth:

Just like last month and the month before I can not for the life of me figure out why other review sites are so down on this book. Since I can’t figure out where they are coming from I guess I should just take solace in the fact that we here at the CCW are not as ignorant as most.

What was it that turned other reviewers off about this book? Was it that it centers around the Black Panther and his sister Shuri? That Maberry uses boring ol’ politics and diplomacy to help end a villain’s tyranny? That it has superheroes acting like god damn HEROES for a change? That it has a large cast of strong, assertive, intelligent, ass kicking female characters?

This book has all of that and more. One other thing that this book has in spades is very well written and very strong dialog. The final speech that T’Challa gives to Doom right before metaphorically calling “checkmate” is something that a lot of comics as of late have been missing. It’s filled with what T’Challa has learned about himself, his friends and his own country over the course of this series and he is not ashamed to tell Doom that is was Doom himself who taught him these things.

Two more reasons reviewers may not have liked Doomwar’s conclusion was because
1. There is a perceived “Deus Ex Machina” used and 2. Nobody fucking died.

As for #1: well, it could been seen that way except that Maberry went into detail about what Shadow Physics is during the series. The plot device used to defeat Doom is not something that just appeared out of nowhere. It is something the theoretically had been discussed and is it really that hard to believe that T’Challa was ALWAYS one step ahead of Doom? That may be something that most fanboys just can not accept.

And #2: I guess now a days EVERY event has to have some sort of major, tragic death for the sake of tragedy, huh? Never mind that T’Challa DOES make a huge sacrifice but since it is one that is sort of intangible I guess it doesn’t count to most people.

I would normally ask “What more can I say about this book?” but I am sure I will think of more to say next week when we review this on CCW TV.

J.‘s Rating: ***½

Marvel Universe vs. The Punisher #1 (of 4)
By Jonathan Maberry and Goran Parlov

As the Doomwar mini-series ends, Jonathan Maberry brings us the first issue of his new Marvel limited series dealing with an end of the world scenario, staring everyone favorite vigilante, Frank Castle. As much as I enjoyed Mayberry’s Doomwar, I found myself a bit disinterested in this new series, it sounded a little too much like a cross between Marvel Zombies and 28 Days Later and I just didn’t see myself getting into another ‘Zombie’ story. Well, I was right and wrong.. I was right about this book being another story in the same vein of ’28 Days Later’ or ‘I am Legend’, Mayberry even try’s to preempt people from pointing out these obvious similarities by having Reed Richards explain in the comic why the events in that are occurring are not at all like ’28 Days Later’ Nice try Jonathan! =)

This really a case of style over substance, there is nothing really new story wise. It’s a pretty standard last man standing against hordes of zombies/infected people plot. The thing here is, Mayberry does a hell of a job writing this story, I still found myself getting drawn into this comic. The Punisher is the ultimate survivalist and it makes complete sense that he is still alive and kicking despite all of the super-powered crazies running around, and the plot twist about the origin of the plague is a nice touch that should lead to some awkward moments later on for the Punisher.

Goran Parlov’s art fits nicely with the story. I like his take on Frank Castle and his version of Marvel heroes gone crazy.

I really enjoyed this first issue despite my initially misgivings, this should be a fun little mini-series and it’s only four issues. Jonathan Mayberry is quickly moving up as one of my favorite writers at Marvel right now.

IM’s Rating: ***

J.’s Two Cents Worth:

Just Like Doomwar #1, MU vs. The Punisher #1 succeeds in doing what every first issue of a mini should do and that is give the reader all the important information they need to enjoy the rest of the series from here on out. That’s not to say that this first issue was not enjoyable but I think it’s main purpose is to let the reader in on what this “alternate Marvel U” is all about. The issue gives you a lot of expository dialog in the form of the Punisher’s “War Journal” but it never seems boring like most other book’s uses of “info dumps”.

Yes, this book is violent and yes, it does involve cannibalism but all of it was handled in a very mature and somewhat restrained way. It never felt gratuitous. Example: remember in Ultimatum when the Blob ate the Wasp? It was a full splash page and was one of the most unnecessary and vile things I had seen in a comic last year. In the first issue of MU vs. the Punisher, the Blob eats all of the patrons in a restaurant. That took up all of one panel and was drawn wonderfully subtle (as subtle a panel like that can be) by Goran Parlov. Showing the end result and leaving the actual carnage to the reader’s imagination is almost always the best way to go.

The twist toward the end of the issue as to who was actually responsible for the release of the plague was interesting and adds an intriguing dimension to this story overall. This sort of personal character tragedy is done very well while not being, again, gratuitous or exploitative at all.

Elliott and I will also be taking a closer look at this book next week.

J’s Rating: ***½

SHIELD #3
By Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver

This is supposed to be a capsule review, so I won’t even attempt to explain the overall plot of Jonathan Hickman’s incredibly imaginative new series here. Just take my word for it that if your not reading this book right now, get off your ass and check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

One of things I love the most about Hickman’s writing here is the way he weaves real historical figures into his story of the origins of SHIELD. Issue number three switches from following Leonid and Leonardo da Vinci to focusing on the past and current leadership of SHIELD, especially Sir Isaac Newton’s rise to become leader of SHIELD. Newton is a pretty determined guy in his quest for power in this book and Hickman does a great job of showing Newton doing anything he can gather knowledge, and I do mean anything, even banging a hideous troglodyte woman, to get what he wants. Needless to say, after spending a couple hundred years acquiring all type of knowledge, both scientific and magical, Newton is more than a little bit unbalanced and it’s obvious that he is the reason that Night Machine and da Vinci have returned to destroy SHIELD.

I was worried that Hickman’s story would suffer when he got more specific with plot details and got away from the grand visions of wonder he was presenting in the first two books, but Issac Newton is a fascinating and formidable bad guy here and I look forward to seeing a throw-down between Sir Isaac Newton and Leonardo di Vinci! Now how many times can to say you saw that in a comic book.. good stuff!

IM’s Rating: ***

J.’s Two Cents:

I loved how on the variant cover for this issue Isaac Newton’s name was spelled “Issac.” Marvel editorial seriously needs to pulling their fucking heads out of their damn asses. It is just inexcusable and quite sad at this point.

J.’s Rating: ***

REBELS #19
By Tony Bedard and Claude St. Aubin

I know a lot of folks on the CCW site are starting to give up on this book and I can’t say I blame them. After the Starro invasion concluded the book seemed to drift around a bit trying to find a purpose. There was a lot of soap opera filler with people shacking up and generally a lot of bitching and complaining and not a lot of action. The book has righted itself in the last two issues and I think is heading back to what attracted people to this book in the first place, Brainiac! The last two issue have focused on this dysfunctional (murderous) family. Vril Dox is always at his best when he is running for his life and he gets that chance big time in this issue trying to keep both his father, Brainiac and his son, Lyrl, from killing him and enslaving Colu. The book ends with Vril making a deal with someone to save his ass that I think he will regret, but hey that never stopped Brainiac 2 before, has it.

I am still enjoying this book despite some rough patches in the past few months, but I do see the low sales figure for this title and I have to wonder how long this book will be around for.

IM’s Rating: ***

Rating System:
**** : Excellent
*** : Good
** : Fair
* : Poor
Zero : Horse Shit

Daytripper #7
By Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon

This book was my biggest disappointment of the week, you know I have been loving this series since it first hit the shelves last year. Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba have been doing outstanding work on the series up this point. So why my disappointment with this issue? Well, for the first time the story felt forced and contrived to me. One of the joys of Daytripper up to now is how ‘real’ the stories have felt, everything about Bras and the people around him play out just like they would in the real world with you and me, Bras is just an average guy living a completely normal life. Yet, there is a magical quality about the things that happen to Bras, and not only because he dies at the end of every issue, but everything up to point where he dies has such a familiar and natural flow to it. One of the strongest elements of Daytripper is that Bras is a nice guy that everyone can relate too, the stuff that happens to him could happen to any one of us and many of the situations that Moon and Ba create in the series have occurred in my life. The excitement of falling for a beautiful women on vacation, stressing about work, living in the shadow of your more talented parents, or your first kiss as a kid while away on a family trip. When I am reading Daytripper it feels like I am staring into a mirror and reflecting on past memories of situations I have found myself in during my life. There is something about the character of Bras that is both fascinating and familiar to me at the same time.

This issue is really the second half of a story that started in the last issue. In issue #6 a major plane crash in Sao Paulo, Brazil, turns Bras life upside down and changes him forever. The crash affects him in two ways, Bras believes his friend and coworker, Jorge, was on the ill fated flight and is most likely dead, and to make matters worse Bras job as the obituary writer at the local newspaper places him in the position of having to write dozens of obituaries for people on the flight. It’s almost too much for him to handle, but he finds the courage to honor the dead from the crash by writing beautiful obits while still struggling with the pain of not knowing what has happened to his friend Jorge. The last issue ended with Bras finally getting a call from Jorge, letting him know he is still alive, but not coming back to his job or his former life. Bras attempts to drive to Rio to see his friend, but dies in a car crash on the way there.

The events in this issue take place five years after the plane crash and Jorge’s disappearance. The strength Bras found after the crash has finally allowed him to finish writing the novel he had been working on for years. The novel is well received and Bras has become famous as a result, but he is still troubled by not knowing what has happen to Jorge. Bras finally gets a clue to his friends whereabouts when a postcard arrives from a hotel halfway across Brazil. Despite the protests of his wife who feels Bras should just leave Jorge alone, Bras still feels he owes it to Jorge to find him and at least speak to him about why he has abandoned everything in his life. It doesn’t take long for Bras to find Jorge, living like a hermit on the beach. Unfortunately for Bras, Jorge has completely broken with reality and the meeting Bras after all of these years sends him into a psychotic rage, killing Bras with a knife and then killing himself.

I guess my disappointment with this issue is Bras just isn’t the nice guy that I remember from other issues, he’s famous now, but has become distant and cynical because of it. He is dismissive of his wife’s concerns and seems rather selfish in his pursuit of Jorge. I found myself agreeing with Bras wife that he should just let the matter drop and let Jorge go. There are flashbacks in this issue showing the first time Bras and Jorge meet and those scenes show the fun loving younger days of chasing women and big dreams for the future. Contrasting those flashbacks with the finally meeting between the two just seems forced to me. Jorge’s actions at the end of the story just doesn’t make any sense to me, nothing that I have seen in previous issues would lead me to believe that Jorge would act the way he did.

I don’t mind that Bras was murdered, he was killed rather brutally in the first issue and I don’t even mind that his dead was senseless, most of his deaths have been. I guess it was just the fact that it was his best friend that killed him this time around, and it bothered the shit out of me. For the first time in the series I actually felt manipulated by Moon and Ba. There was none of the subtlety and natural flow of events from other issues, it was heavy handed and in the end Bras death at the end of an issue didn’t fill me with a sense of wonder, it just pissed me off.

Rating: **½

Chew #11
By John Layman and Rob Guillory

John Layman and Rob Guillory kick off the ‘Just Desserts’ story arc in fine fashion. Tony and John have to investigate the murder of man who is found with a Grey-Tailed Pygmy stuffed down his throat and it just gets crazier from there. What I like most about this issue is for once Tony has a good day. Tony’s boss isn’t giving him a hard time anymore (thanks to a little timely ‘intervention’ from John), he solves the crime and gets the girl! I’m sure John Layman has some nasty stuff in store for Tony in the future, but for now it’s cool to see Tony having his day in the sun.

Rating: ***½

The Invincible Iron Man #27
By Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca

Well it looks like Tony Stark is finally going to stop pissing and moaning and start kicking some ass. The Hammer girls finally put their plan in motion to take Stark Industries place as the primary weapons supplier to the US government, although the plan is a little silly since Stark Industries is kind of broke right now and Tony doesn’t seem very interested in selling weapons anymore. As cool as it is to see Tony finally fart out his armor to do something other than open crates and fly to business meetings, it’s Pepper Potts that really shines in this issue. She makes it clear to Tony that she is not interested in just being his helper, but she wants her armor back! It’s nice seeing Tony squirm around under Pepper’s unrelenting pressure and finally giving in. Oh and War Machine is back to help Tony out, I think. Hopefully, Iron Man and War Machine will put ‘Detroit Steel’ out of it’s misery in the next issue.

Rating: ***

SHIELD #2
By Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver

This issue makes me sad, not because it is bad (it’s actually quite good), but it just shows how badly Hickman’s Fantastic Four is spinning out of control right now. I wish Hickman would show some of the focus he is showing here in this book on the Fantastic Four. So what is the story in this issue? Beats the hell out of me, I’m still not sure what we are suppose to be seeing here, but finding out is going to be pretty damn cool. My vote for best new hero of the year has to go to Leonardo Da Vinci, the guy is a complete bad ass, sporting mechanical wings and a groovy Jesus beard. How could you not love this guy? This is just one of those stories where the plot takes a back seat to the shear coolness of the characters and the world they exist in. More please!

Rating: ***½

Avengers Academy #1
By Christos Gage and Mike McKone

I decided to pick this book up and wasn’t disappointed. In case you have no idea what this book is about, think New Mutants only the kids are mostly dysfunctional assholes. I like that Christos Gage didn’t go the pussy route and make them a bunch of cute kids. Gage is creating that season of Real World, where not only does everyone hate each other, but they have superpowers to do something about it. Any bets on how soon before Hazmat irradiates someone for leaving the toilet seat up? This looks like a book that has the potential to be a lot of fun, and the twist at the end made me laugh. I thought the upcoming cross-over with the Thunderbolts was a strange choice, but after the reveal at the end of this issue they may have more in common than I had at first thought.

Rating: ***

Rating System:
**** : Excellent
*** : Good
** : Fair
* : Poor
Zero : Horse Shit

BRAVE AND THE BOLD #34
By J. Michael Straczynski and Jesus Saiz

This month’s offering by J. Michael Straczynski and Jesus Saiz is a pretty ambitious two issue story staring members of the Doom Patrol and the Legion of Super-Heroes. JMS hits the ground running, putting Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl on the run from a Black Hole that destroys the Earth before our heroes can formulate a plan to stop it. With no time to escape from the Black Hole our trio is forced to use their Time Bubble to travel back in time to the Earth’s past to find help preventing the destruction of the planet in their future. So, who do you go to for help preventing the Earth from being sucked into a giant Black Hole? The Doom Patrol of course! Sure it might seem like a rather odd choice in this case, but after a short meeting between the two teams the plan is worked out and our heroes are off to save the day. If you guessed that something terribly wrong happens with the plan, leaving our heroes in a cliffhanger ending to be resolved in the second part…well… you would be wrong about that. The plan works and the Black Hole is dissipated with our heroes return back to Earth triumphant!

So what’s the deal with this being a two issue story?

It looks like JMS is doing something a little different here with his story structure. Even though the story is two issues long, there is no cliff hanger in this first issue, the book has a totally self contained story complete with an ending. However, there are things that happen in the course of the story leading the reader to suspect that there is more going on here than meets the eye. Objects disappear and then reappear in different locations, our heroes also find a mysterious object hidden in the Time Bubble and the Doom Patrol find that Dr. Niles Caulder has had ‘The worse day of his life’ while they were off saving the Earth in the future. It appears that some unknown force was trying to either help or hinder our heroes in their mission. Did they succeed or fail in what they were trying to do? I guess we will find out in the next issue.

JMS is taking what would be a pretty straight forward story in the hands of another author and having a little fun with the readers here. Obviously there is more going on in the story and since we are talking about a time travel story, anything could be happening here. Time travel stories love a good paradox or two, and a parallel storyline running along side this story is not out of the question. You can tell that JMS was having a good time writing this comic, there is a lot of humor contained in this book, and while the subject of the Earth being ripped apart by a Black Hole might not seem like a backdrop to find laughs, Straczynski writes more a few humorous one-liners and creates some nice awkward situations (Robot Man and Saturn Girl in the Time bubble being my favorite one) here to bring a smile to my face.

Jesus Saiz does his usual excellent work here on pencils, I have been impressed with how consistent he is with his artwork, the man has been very solid for this entire run on the Brave and the Bold up to this point. But for the life of me, I can’t seem to find any bio information on the guy, I would like to learn more about him, but he seems to be the rare comic artist online with little information out there.

Once again J. Michael Straczynski shows why he is one of the best in the business, just when I think I have him figure out, he goes and does something that surprises me again. I certainly hope that he will stick around on the Brave and the Bold for some time to come.

Raing: ***½

DOOMWAR #4
By Jonathan Maberry and Scot Eaton

I was surprised to see this book was getting less than stellar reviews this month. I find that to be a bit baffling, since this issue was just as strong as the first three issues. If you liked the first three books in this mini, there is really no reason not to like this one. The story continues with the forces of Wakanda, lead by Shuri, Storm and members of the Fantastic Four heading to Easter Island to retrieve the stolen Vibranium. Of course Doctor Doom isn’t going to let that happen without a fight, and he has his new and improved Doombots (augmented with the stolen Vibranium) there to fight for him.

While this issue seems like one long fight, there is a little more going on here in terms of the story. For the first time you can really see Doom’s overall plan coming together, everything he has done up to this point finally starts to make sense and you can see for the first time that his careful planning and detailed knowledge of Wakanda, T’Challa and Shuri will lead him to victory. Even T’Challa seems to realize that Doom has his number and in a moment of desperation calls in a wild card to try and throw a money wrench into Doom’s plan. Of course the money wrench is Deadpool, the one guy in the Marvel universe who’s actions no one can predict. I was a bit nervous about Deadpool showing up in this book, so far Doomwar has been a dead serious book with no room for humor in it. Deadpool has become the clown prince of Marvel over the years and I wasn’t sure how he would fit into the story. But not to worry, Jonathan Maberry reminds us all that good old Deadpool can be a very effective hero if written correctly.

My only complaints would be with the art, the JRJR cover once again is uninspired and dull, it wouldn’t surprise me if people where passing on getting this book based of the artwork alone. Scot Eaton artwork still looks terribly dark, I don’t know who to blame for that, the inkers I guess. And there is a couple of double sized splash pages that are pretty poorly done and just seem like filler.

This is still the best mini Marvel is putting out this year so far, and with two issue left I am not sure why people would be bailing on it at this point.

Rating: ***½

THUNDERBOLTS #144
By Jeff Parker and Kev Walker

Jeff Parker is off to a good start with this latest issue of Thunderbolts, he gets the chance to put his new team together under the leadership of Luke Cage. I wasn’t too sure about the lineup for the new team when it was announced, but after reading this book I was a lot happier about the new team.

Jeff Parker took a page from one of my favorite movies, The Dirty Dozen, when writing the introduction for his new team. Much like that movie the pool of new members are all convicts, former criminals captured and being held in the Raft. Cage comes to each potential new member of the T-Bolts and has a little chat with them, trying to see what they are about and what it will take to get them to work along side him.

Some of the convicts are easier to recruit than others, former T-Bolts members Ghost and Moonstone seems more than happy to rejoin their old team with little convincing needed. Juggernaut just wants to get out of his cell and may or may not be a team player. Crossbones is just fucking nuts and I am still not sure why Cage would invite him on the team. Crossbones reminds me of ‘Maggot’ from the Dirty Dozen, you know he’s crazy, Cage knows he’s crazy, everyone knows he is going to have a meltdown at some point, but yet there he is on the team.

The most interesting new member is Man-Thing, Not really a criminal, but no one is really sure what to do with it. The government wants to destroy it, Hank Pym wants to save it, and Luke Cage is kind of stuck with it. Seeing how Parker writes Man-Thing’s interactions with it’s new teammates is something I am looking forward to.

To top everything off, Jeff Parker throws in a surprise ending that was a real shock to me, I didn’t see it coming, but I am not sure if I really liked it. After everything that Parker did setting up Cage and his new team, to have it end the way it did, kind of sucked to me. I don’t want the T-Bolts back under the leadership of Baron Zemo dammit. For now, I am going to call shenanigans on his return. I am hoping that this is just some sort of test .

Thunderbolt has the potential to become my favorite Marvel book this year, but we will see where Parker takes this story after this month’s cliffhanger.

Rating: ***½

Rating System:
**** : Excellent
*** : Good
** : Fair
* : Poor
Zero : Horse Shit

Zatanna #1

I was really looking forward to this book, I’ve always been a fan of Zatanna, not just that she is sexy as hell in a top hat and fishnet stockings, I like her personality and powerset. With Dr. Strange seemingly reduced to guest-star status in the Marvel universe I was looking to Zatanna to fill my magic superhero fix for the time being.

After reading the first issue of Paul Dini and Stephane Roux comic I might just wait for Dr. Strange’s return to a mainstream book. The first issue finds Zatanna performing in her nightly magic show, after the show she is contacted by a local police detective to help in the investigation of some occult murders and by the end of the comic is taking a hot bubble bath. And that’s pretty much it story wise…OK, I am not being very fair, Zatanna agrees to help and pretty quickly figures out who is behind the murders and goes to confront the bad guy involved. The comic was a pretty quick read and there just wasn’t a whole lot of meat to the story. I don’t know if years of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ has left me jaded to the whole demons in suits running a criminal enterprise storyline, but the whole story DID feel like an episode of Buffy, minus the sharp dialog and likable characters. Dini tries hard to make Zatanna a wisecracking bad-ass, but his efforts mostly fall flat. Only the scene with Zatanna crashing the bad guy party has some life to it, but it was to little, too late to help the story. Dini seems to spend too much time trying to write one-liners and not enough time on plot, which seems to move too haphazardly at times.

The art by Stephane Roux was fine, if uneven at times, unfortunately, J.H. Williams III doing the art here would not have saved this very average story. However, this was the first issue, so I will give Zatanna at least one more issue before I bail.

Rating: **

Atlas #1

Ok, first off I actually did enjoy this issue, let me just get that out of the way before I make a few complaints here. Jeff Parker is the ‘Man” as far as writing super group books are concerned, I think he is the best in the biz right now at writing funny, exciting dialog and smart, well structured battles. It this group dynamic that I enjoy so much in a Jeff Parker book that left me wanting in this first issue of the Atlas relaunch.

The majority of this first comic focus mostly on one character, 3-D Man. Is there anything wrong with 3-D Man? No, not really, Parker does a fine job of writing the back-story to fill in the history of Delroy Garret. I don’t know if I find him a very compelling character just yet, I am sure in the future I will enjoy this new member of Atlas (well, not yet, but he will be). I guess my question is why even add 3-D Man to the team, does Atlas even need another member right now? I think Atlas was perfectly balanced as it was, and I do think the spending so much time bring Delroy into the fold took a bit of wind out of the sails of this relaunch. I really wanted a full book with the whole team involved in some action on the behalf of the Atlas Foundation, that is where the Atlas really shines, the whole group working together to get themselves out of a jam or working to do good, while seeming so bad. Atlas does show up at the end of the book as a team, but it is only for a few pages and it served to remind me just how much I wanted to see them throughout the whole book. I wish that Jeff Parker would have switched the page count on the stories, giving 3-D man the backup story and keep our group on heroes active in the main story. The book ends with some filler that wasn’t much to look at, a written history of 3-D that wasn’t really needed.

Gabriel Hardman’s art is starting to grow on me, I really like his rough style, but I do wish they would lighten up on colors, the pages get very dark at times, making it hard to see what is going on.

I really did like this book a lot, and I enjoyed 3-D Man’s story, I just think that 3-D man could have waited a couple of issues at make his appearance. I wanted to see my Agents back in action, not relegated to the back up story in their own book.

Rating: ***

The Invincible Iron Man #26

Tony Stark continues to perform rehab on himself and his company in this latest issue. Thankfully there is only a brief appearance by the Hammer Girls and their somewhat tired story in this issue and it concentrates on Tony trying to make right with some of the people he screwed over back in the day. It is interesting that Fraction isn’t giving Tony the easy way out on this deal, so far Tony hasn’t had much luck getting forgiveness from his former friends and allies. In some cases Tony actually makes things worse for himself by being a little too honest about being such an arrogant asshole in the past. Tony Stark actually talks himself out of some of the good will he was getting from Maria Hill as he tries to explain why he still may need someone there to make sure he doesn’t spin out of control again. In another case Tony goes back to an old employee that he humiliated and fired some time back, Fraction does a great job here writing Carson Wyche, the wronged employee, he doesn’t scream or rage at his old boss, hell he doesn’t even seem that mad anymore, but he is a broken man, resigned to his fate. Watching Tony try at makes amends to a man that really couldn’t give a shit one way or another anymore was painful to watch.

Another gem in this book was the return of one of my favorite Iron Man villains, Spymaster. It’s nice to see him back, but what is up with that costume? I know he is an asshole, but do you really have to put two giant pink sphincters on either side of his head? I wonder if Tony has any idea so many of his old enemies are piling up, getting in line for a chance to take a shot at him.

One thing about this book that did bug me was the art, or the reusing of some of the panels from the last issue and some of the panels that are recycled from within the same issue. I know it isn’t uncommon for artist to reuse some of their work to save time, but it was done a lot in this issue and enough that it started to bug me after awhile. Almost two full pages of the Detroit Steel panels from last issue where reused here in issue #26. The Tony/Hill conversation reuses many of the same panels from different angles and zooms.

Artwork nitpicks aside, this was an enjoyable issue that left me wondering just how long Fraction is going to let Tony twist in the wind before he lets him have his redemption. I just hope it doesn’t happen too fast, I am taking a bit of pleasure in Tony pain right now. Sometimes heroes are at their best when they are taking their lumps.

Rating: ***½

American Vampire #3

My favorite book of the week. I really like how Scott Snyder and Stephen King are shaping up their vampire mythology here. The European Vampires vs. The American Vampires is turning into a far more enjoyable story that I would have thought at first. Even though there are only two American Vampires they have the advantage in this battle due to the fact they are very different from their European cousins. My favorite scene in the book was the Euro Vamp’s attempting to figure out just what hell they can do to take down Skinner Sweet. I also liked the fact that there are no good guys or bad guys in this story so far. It’s tempting to make Sweet the good guy here, but Stephen King makes it very clear that he is a vicious killing machine that is more than willing to kill everyone in his path, whether it be for revenge, hunger or just because he is a total asshole. Even Pearl, the innocent victim in the first two book takes to killing rather quickly and makes you wonder if she was all that innocent to begin with.

I know some people don’t like Rafael Albuquerque’s art, but I think it fits the mood of the book very well, and anyone who can take Kid Rock and make him scary looking gets two thumbs up from me.

I never thought I would be putting a vampire book back into my top five list, but it is starting to look that way. I will reserve judgment on this title until after King leaves the book and see if still maintains it’s level of quality.

Rating: ***½

Rating System:
**** : Excellent
*** : Good
** : Fair
* : Poor
Zero : Horseshit

Brightest Day #1
By: Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark, Joe Prado

This was the ultimate impulse buy of the week for me. I had already picked up three other books and was still wandering around, I really wanted a fourth book to round out the week. “Finding everything you are looking for?” asked the guy running the store for the third time. He was a young kid who I don’t see often on Thursdays. I guess he wasn’t use to seeing me wander around aimlessly like Jen, the nice lady who usually works the store on Thursday. “Just looking for something new and exciting.” was my response. “What about Brightest Day, you get a free white ring when you buy the issue.” To be honest, the whole ring thing set sail for me a long time ago, and I told myself no more ‘events’ this year. But I didn’t want to be rude to the guy, so I looked over at the display set up next the register and picked up a copy, it was a nice looking book, took a quick look at the back and noticed no filler, all for $2.99. So I say, “What the Hell.” I paid for my comics and went on my way.

So how was it? The first thing that stood out was the artwork, Ivan Reis, Pat Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark, Joe Prado (Christ, that’s a lot of artists!) turned out a beautifully drawn book here. But beyond the art I honestly didn’t feel any love for this comic. I mean all the elements are there for this to be an awesome book. I just feel like I have been here before with Geoff Johns, he is writing a mystery dealing with 12 characters, heroes and villains, that were resurrected at the end of Blackest Night. By the end of the issue I found myself thinking “ I don’t give a shit.” I just spent the last year following the Blackest Night event, a story that was nothing but characters being brought back to life (or unlife), sure they were evil and what not, but after seeing just about every major and minor hero and villain in DC universe coming back to cause trouble, I was just having a hard time caring as to why this bunch is running around again. After reading this book, it feels like Blackest Night all over again, not in the sense that it was the same story, but the storytelling and the structure of the book felt very familiar to me. Johns was creating a lot of cool individual moments here that were not adding much to the overall story in the long run. Black Manta shows up for the big reveal at the end of the issue left me cold, I knew this was a cool geek moment by Johns that was suppose to get me all hot and bothered for the next issue. Instead I was left thinking what did this have to do with anything related to the ‘Big Mystery’, I guess it’s a case of once bitten, twice shy, Johns jerked me around so much in Blackest Night that I have become automatically suspicious of anything he does story-wise.

I can’t quite put my finger on why it is this book felt so lifeless for me. Perhaps it was seeing Hal Jordan and Sinestro still hanging around bickering like kids, long after they should have parted ways. Maybe it was the fact I have just never been a fan of many of the characters the Johns has chosen to focus on here, Aquaman, Deadman, Firestorm, J’onn J’onzz and the Hawks have never been big draws for me as a comic reader. Or it could be that there is too many characters being dealt with here, some of the characters get as little as two pages of face time in this book, certain scenes feel rushed or incomplete, perhaps fewer characters would have allowed Johns to focus more on the core story. I have a bad feeling that unlike Blackest Night the readers will be forced to buy the crossovers to get the complete story here and if that is the case I will be taking a pass on this one. I am really feeling “event” fatigue at this point and I am more than happy to spend my money on ‘smaller’ stories was focused plots, good characters that I care about and writer that just want to create a likable story and not the next big, world shattering event.

Rating: **

Doomwar #3 (of 6)
By Jonathan Maberry and Scot Eaton

I know this book is two weeks old, but I was surprised to see it on the shelf this week during my visit to my LCS. I am loving this series so far and I know this is a tough story to following along with if you miss a issue, so picking this one up was a no brainer.

First thing I noticed was the cover by JRJR was his best effort so far, and by that I mean the least sucky and the easiest on the eyes. Sorry Romita Jr. fans, but this a far from his best artwork. Opening the comic up finds T’Challa and his forces back in tentative control of Wakanda. Unfortunately, Dr. Doom was able to defeat the final lock on the vault containing Wakanda’s supply of Vibranium and has made off will every last bit of the valuable metal. After two fast paced issues filled with action, writer Jonathan Maberry slows things down quite a bit in this issue. The story breaks down into two parts, T’Challa enlisting the help of the Fantastic Four to help him find the stolen Vibranium and the second part being a flashback revealing how Dr. Doom managed to delete the final lock on the vault that was suppose to keep guys like Doom out. The storyline with T’Challa and the Fantastic Four is pretty standard stuff, I never realized what a crutch Mr. Fantastic has become in the Marvel U, this was the second book this week I read with a hero calling on Reed to help solve a problem for them. I think Reed Richards needs to start screening his calls or he will never get any quality time with the wife and kids. The second part of the story dealing with Doom is by far the meatier part of the book. Maberry expands Doom from a evil super-villain who wants to conquer the world for selfish reasons, to a true believer, who really believes what he is doing is the best thing for the Earth in the long run. This mini-series is still the best thing Marvel is putting out this year and if you are not reading this series yet… well, I would tell you start reading it, but you really need to start it from the beginning to understand and get the full impact of the story. So for you late comers, wait for the trade.

Rating: ***½

Fantastic Four #578
By Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham

This is part four of of the ‘Prime Elements’ storyline from Jonathan Hickman and he is still piling it on in terms of creating a epic storyline with no mercy for the casual reader. I couldn’t even begin to summarize the story so far, there is no way to put what’s happening here in a nutshell. I would venture to say a person just picking up this issue to give it a look through would be scratching their head as to what is going on, and I would not blame them in the least if they put this book back on the shelf and moved on to something else. But for those of us who have been following along from the start you could call this a Johnny Storm issue. Poor Johnny has a “Looking for Mr. Goodbar’ moment with a woman he meets in a bar that leads him to make a rather rash decision that could spell disaster for him and everyone in the Baxter building. Oh, and for those keeping track, the fourth civilization is revealed and the war of the four cities begins. I liked this issue overall and it was nice to see The Human Torch get the spotlight for change. I am starting to worry a bit that Hickman might start losing people if he introduces any more plot elements into the story.

Rating: ***

Invincible Iron Man #25
By Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca

An over-sized issue to kick off the post ‘Siege’ era for Matt Fraction’s Iron Man book. I am happy to say the extra pages contain no filler, just a whole bunch of story dealing with Tony Stark attempting to rebuild his life, rebuild his company and repair a lot of burned bridges. There is a whole bunch of stuff happening here in this book, so don’t be surprised if you have to read this one a few times to absorb everything that happens in this comic. At times it feels like there might be too much ground being covered here. Tony has a lot of stuff on his plate and at times the story seems to rush through certain scenes leaving me unsatisfied. I wanted less of the Hammer girls, a story that quite frankly feels a bit rehashed and not very original, and more of Tony mending relationships with Pepper Potts and Thor. Tony has a scene with Mr. Fantastic (to the rescue again!) where they talk about everything that is happening with Stark’s body and the aftereffects of the Extremis armor, but the one thing they don’t talk about is what happened during the ‘Civil War’. Tony starts to head down that road and Mr. Fantastic, instead of talking with Tony about what happened, simply says, “Well what’s done is done and what’s now is now.” Really? That’s all Reed has to say on the subject? He should have just handed Tony one of those picture’s of the kitten dangling from a string, with the caption “Hang in there!” on it. I liked most of what Fraction was doing here, but I just wanted more of the personal stuff with Tony and less of the Hammer girls and Detroit Steel.

Rating ***

Thunderbolts #143
By Jeff Parker and Miguel Sepulveda

This issue marks the end of Norman Osborn’s version of the Thunderbolts. A lot of action and not to much talking, the whole issue is one long pitch battle. The Mighty Avengers taking on Scourge, Mr. X, and Grizzly for control of the Spear of Odin. Ghost, Paladin and Ant-Man also do what they can, pitching in to help make sure Osborn never gets his hands on the Spear. Nothing earth shattering or really surprising happens here. Everyone that should get their asses kicked get them kicked pretty good, villains that should get a second chance get one and Norman doesn’t get his spear. There are a couple of good moments, Ant-Man gets the chance to rub the yellow off his belly and Mr. X gets the beat down of a lifetime from Quicksilver. The book ends with Luke Cage taking over the Thunderbolts and talking about bringing villains up, instead of bringing them down, at least I think it was Luke Cage. Did I mention the art was pretty bad in this issue? I wonder if the editors at Marvel looked at that last splash page and told Miguel Sepulveda, ”Hum, why don’t you put a name tag on his jacket, just to make sure.” I am looking forward to Jeff Parker’s continuing run on Thunderbolts and this was a pretty satisfying end to this current incarnation of the Thunderbolts.

Rating: ***

-IM

Welcome back to my semi-regular column about the stuff that caught my interest in the last week or two.

RANTS

I’ve been known to rant a bit and today is no exception. There are a number of things that irk me about blogs and message boards and one of the things that bugs me to no end is when a new writer is announced for a book how people start fretting about what he (or she) is going to do the character(s) in that book.

And this is months and months before a book is even printed mind you. Reams and reams of idle speculation is launched with all kinds of irrational ideas that they heard from someone or that a so-called “inside source” has leaked or whatever. Now I do realise that this is something that happens all the time but it does not mean that it is right. When I want to speculate I prefer to do so with at least some concrete factual information.

Take for example the speculation over what JMS would do with the Wonder Woman and Superman books, people worrying and getting inflamed with very little basis.  A whole thread on Bleeding Cool wandered about like a spastic dinosaur until JMS had to come on and quash stupid ideas like Superman wandering across America like Jack Kerouac or Kaine in the series Kung Fu. I’m going to reprint what JMS said on that thread just in case anyone didn’t get it.

“I wish to make several points very very clear.

It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that I have at any time had any conversations at all with DC about Marc Guggenheim.

It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that I insisted “that Superman only appear in the Superman book he’s writing.”

I have made every indication to DC that as and when Superman is needed during the time I am writing him, he will definitely be made available. You simply can’t keep a character as major as Superman out of every title for the length of my initial run. It’s impossible, and the idea that we could or would try is absurd.

It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that Superman is “going to drop his Superman identity.”

It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that he “not use his powers.”

So to those who have reacted (properly) to say that these are stupid ideas, you are absolutely right.

They are stupid.

Which is why we are not, have not been, and will not be doing any of them.

The only stupidity greater than those lay in the suggestion that we ever would.”

So there you go, from the horses mouth as it were. Speculation is fun, but please, it is better to do it where its based on facts.

…Except of course when it comes to Bendis, Loeb and Millar where its better to think the worst. The worst will probably happen but at least you’ll be prepared for it!

JMS on the other hand is a writer with more hits than misses so I think he’s worth the benefit of the doubt.

The DC Implosion

Back in the late 70’s DC canceled a couple of dozen of their poorer selling titles due to the bad economy of the time and other factors. This became known as the DC Implosion as it drastically reduced the amount of content that they were publishing.

Just in the last month DC have canceled the Red Circle titles, The Web and The Shield, they’ve canceled one of my favourite titles, The Warlord, and they’ve canceled The Great Ten (as of issue 9, so they are canceling a 10 issue series with one issue to go, great planning eh?)

It seems like its no coincidence that a new management and editorial team have come in and not long after a bunch of titles get canceled. So who’s going to be next then?

Based on the sales charts, titles like Magog, Wildcats, Authority, REBELS (keep spreading the word on this title!), Doom Patrol and Batman Confidential have cause to be worried. Johnny DC titles will be ok as they mainly sell at supermarkets and newsstands and most Vertigo titles should be ok as they do big business in the Trade Paperback market.

The DC Explosion

Another story that came out recently was that DC were looking to expand their range of output in order to compete equally with Marvel on the comics racks and to take market share off of Marvel. Word was put out that it was a good time for freelancers to approach DC for work as a rapid growth was foreseen.

So, considering my previous rant about the current DC mini-implosion, what exactly are DC going to publish in order to ramp up their market share. It looks as if anything they publish that’s quirky (Warlord, Doom Patrol) or non DCU-centric (Red Circle characters, possibly the First Wave characters) have weak sales potential.

What are your bets on what DC is going to do, will it be extra Batman (and surely there’s more than enough already!), more Superman, more Flash and we know that there is at least 1 more Green Lantern title on the way. Just what franchises can DC mine to increase their production? Personally I can’t see where long term growth is going to come from.

The Amazing Spectacular Amazing Spider-Man Price Increase

You didn’t think I was gonna go a whole column without laying into Marvel over something right? One thing I noticed from last months Marvel Previews magazine is that Amazing Spider-Man comic has gone up in price to $3.99.  They are gone up to 40 pages though with a 2 page Spidey Sunday story and a Kraven back up story but still, if you want to follow the main Spidey comic now you need to shell out 12 clams a month whereas just a couple of years ago you only needed to buy 1 issue of Amazing for $2.99 a month. Marvel seems to be out to exploit every segment of their fan base these days.

It used to be great back when you could buy 1 Avengers Comic, 1 X-Men comic, 1 Spidey comic and you didn’t need to buy 4 or 5 of each a month. No wonder smaller titles can’t get an audience now…

How does your nose get so brown?

Well if you shove it this far up Jeph Loeb’s arse your nose would be brown too, just take a look at this video (oh and keep the sick bucket near by in case you upchuck).

COMICS CAPSULE REVIEWS

Milestone Forever #2

I’d love to say that this comic got better with the second issue but I just can’t. As with the first issue the cover is horrible and the packaging and design is terrible, I can’t believe that Rian Hughes designed this thing. I did figure out what made me uneasy about the first issue though and it was that these two books felt more like shout-outs to old Milestone fans rather than something that could bring new readers into the fold.

After 2 expensive prestige format issues, I still don’t really know who Icon, Hardware, Static and the rest are, what their powers are or anything about their personalities. That’s a pretty bad indictment for any book. Regarding the art, Jean Paul Leon doing the framing sequence was good again and Denys Cowan and ChrisCross both did decent jobs on their sequences.

Brave and the Bold #32

After sledging a comic I like to follow up with a book I like, it freshens the soul or something, I dunno. Anyhoo, B&B 32 features Aquaman and The Demon teaming up against some underwater demons from hell…or thereabouts. After a Joker/Atom team-up that rather misfired this comic was satisfying on a number of notes. JMS had a handle on both characters, so much so that I’d like to seem him do solo books for either character….or at least backup features in either of his new books. Aquaman does much of the work carrying this issue with the Demon mostly standing around spouting rhyming couplets until the ending where he KABLAMMO’S the invading demon.

Jesus Saiz does another beautiful job on this issue, he’s rapidly becoming one of my favourite artists, he has sort of a Ryan Sook mixed with John Buscema quality, there’s a lovely sequence of Aquaman fighting a shark/demon on page 9 that works so well in its power and movement. Also the splash page of Aquaman backed up by thousands of whales, sharks and every other type of sea creature took my breath away. One of the best books of the month easily.

JLA #43

This is the tie in to the Rise and Fall of Arsenal that documents the post Cry for Justice JLA continuity. It was ok, certainly an improvement on the direness of the Blackest Night issues. Mark Bagley’s art is certainly better, especially pages that seem to be inked by Norm Rapmund. The main problem with this is too-many-character-itis , I count at least 14 members which means that no-one gets any face time, except for Ollie who we learn likes curry, no not Arthur Curry, the Indian chicken tikka sort of curry.

One thing that does really annoy me about DC though… and this sounds like a contradiction of the last point I made….but DC editors obviously tell writers they can use characters and then 2 issues they take the fucking characters away because they’re in another book. This completely ruined McDuffie’s run and its affecting Robinsons already. This issue Starfire zoomed off to join the REBELS, why couldn’t she just be in the 2 books, who the fuck cares much about continuity that a character can‘t be in 2 fucking books?

ZVR Aventure #1 and #2

Another Zombie book? Well yes it is but it’s the continuation of Ashley Wood’s Zombies versus Robots world, this time in the form of a 4 issue anthology book.  Each issue has 3 eight page stories which continue from one issue to the next. Ashley Wood does the (amazing) covers and Chris Ryall writes all the stories.

The first adventure has Sgt Davis organising resistance to the zombie horde in a New York-esque city, the art is by Menton Matthews III and is a strange heavily photoshopped type of art. The second story is about a remote testing facility where the cook is the only person left alive and pilots an early Iron Man type costume/robot while trying to survive another horde, the art by Paul McCaffrey which is reminiscent of Juan Gimenez’s style. The last story has art by Gabriel Hernandez which shows voodoo Zombies fighting normal zombies in Haiti. This is a great book for horror/aventure fans and considering the card cover and heavy quality paper its probably worth the $3.99

Echo #20

I never hear this book mentioned anywhere but it’s a consistently enjoyable tale by Terry Moore. The main story is about a young woman called Julie who unexpectedly encounters a disastrous military test and gets part of her body covered by a strange living metal. She is forced to go on the run from the government and the company behind the making of the living metal who send various assassins and maniacs after her. The black and white art by Moore is detailed yet simple and elegant and the characterisation as one would expect is top notch. What I didn’t expect is the constant tension because you feel none of these characters is safe.

Superman: Last Stand on New Krypton #1

The New Krypton arc that’s dominated the Superman books for over a year is coming to an end, but this is a bit of a confusing mess. Brainiac invades New Krypton in a stupid looking gigantic robot head, cue thousands of killer robots invading New Krypton and we get page after page of Kryptonians fighting robots….yada yada yada. The art from Pete Woods looks rushed, some of the writing just makes no sense like Zod arresting the Legion of Superheroes who are trying to help, perhaps this is a double bluff by Zod but it just seems like brain-numbingly stupid writing to me. This book isn’t terrible but I wouldn’t heartily recommend it either.

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Unleashed #1

Lets end the reviews on a high note,  the Pet Avengers was one of the best unexpected surprise hits of last year and I’m happy to say that this first issue of the new mini series carries on the charm of last years series. The Hairball/Ms. Lion duo is hilarious again and the art by Ig Guara and the colours by Sotomayor and Roberts is beautiful, really great work. This issue sets up the series when the rest of the Pet Avengers discover that Frog Thor is missing from Central Park.

BACK ISSUE BIN

Vlad the Impaler #1-3 (Topps comics, 1993)

This is a 3 issue mini-series from Topps short-lived foray into comics. Topps were more known for baseball cards but decided to get in on the act during the comics boom of the early 90’s. Unfortunately for them they got their strategy wrong, they decided to put out well written and drawn comics when what the market was looking for was badly written and appallingly drawn crap like Youngblood.  Vlad the Impaler was an excellent little 3 issue mini-series detailing the savage life of Prince Vlad Tepes of Transylvania and his eventual turning into Vlad Dracula.

Roy Thomas wrote it and did a great job worthy of his best Savage Sword of Conan work, and the art by Esteban Maroto is truly stunning. Even after 17 years this is a comic that I still cherish, it just reeks of quality.  The lettering by John Costanza adds greatly to the atmosphere and the colouring by Paul Mounts is sumptuous adding to the sense of baroque horror. I’ve checked online and these issues can be found for $2 each, an incredible bargain and certainly better than most comics out now.

BLOG RECOMMENDATIONS

Dark Roasted Blend
http://www.darkroastedblend.com/

This is a blog that I’ve been visiting for years, there is always something there to occupy the mind or the eyes whether it is hallucinatory architecture or sperm-racing. It also feeds my love for retro-futurism.

PostRock Xchange
http://www.postrockxchange.com/

This is another blog I visit heavily. Post Rock is a form of instrumental rock music that generally doesn’t conform to the normal rock music song structures. In general its more mellow but it can’t be incredibly intense also. This blog has LOTS of great music, some of my current favourites are Mooncake and 65daysofstatic.

TV

It was Christina Hendricks’ birthday this week so what better way to celebrate than with a video in honour of her!

Ironmuskrat does most of the heavy lifting in this Capsule Reviews post while I just pretty much throw in a quick two cents worth in an attempt to get back on the review wagon.

Rating System:
**** : Excellent
*** : Good
** : Fair
* : Poor
Zero : Horseshit

Avengers vs. Atlas #4 (of 4)

I have been really enjoying this mini from Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman. Nonstop action and lots of clever dialog from Parker, It was just a good old fashion, fun comic. However, I hate to say it, but the last issue was by far the weakest for me, not to say it wasn’t good, it just wasn’t as fun as the previous books. The big problem was Parker reached the end of the mini series and found himself having to explain just what the hell was going on in last four books. That lead to a lot of talking and not much action, with the brains of the Avengers and Atlas (Giant-Man, Marvel Boy) talking about the nature of the Temporal Virus and how to stop it, with everyone else just standing around looking on. It doesn’t help that our heroes are dealing with alternate time-lines and time travel, all things that don’t lend themselves to quick or easy explanations. I almost wish Parker had not made such an effort to tie the plot lines up and just left things to our imagination. Still, I enjoyed the series overall and I am looking forward the Atlas relaunch next month.

Rating: ** for this issue, **** for the series overall – IM

REBELS #15

This issue deals with the aftermath of the Staro invasion and finds Despero being hailed as a hero who stopped Staro. On the other, hand Vril Dox is vilified as the cause of the invasion in the first place. A pretty good issue that is mostly set up for future story lines. Dox has to find a new place to call home due to the fact everyone in that part of the galaxy wants to kill him, Staro finds that he still has allies loyal to him without being mind controlled and Starfire shows up to visit the Vega system and ends up making an amazing discovery. Tony Bedard writes some good moments here. One being where Dox is almost speechless that he isn’t being recognized as the hero he feels he is. And another where we see Starfire’s sadness at what happened to her home world and how much things have changed in Vega system. I guess the only part of the book I didn’t like was Staro’s fate, I sort of had to roll my eyes at that one, but I guess you can’t let a good villain go to waste. Oh! and I know how much you like redheads Jose and there is a very nice cheesecake shot of Starfire in this one from St. Aubin.

Rating: ** – IM

Brave and the Bold #33

I know I criticized JMS on the last issue of B & B for moving away from examining the inner thinking and personal conflicts of the heroes and sticking to a more impersonal storyline. I wanted to see into the minds of our heroes as they struggled to make tough choices about fighting crime and even about their own mortality. Well, all I can say is J. Michael Straczynski hits this one out of the park, he creates a powerful story about fate, love and trying to do the best thing you can to help someone even though you are helpless to really help them in the ways you wish you could. The story seems like a simple one, Zatanna convinces Wonder Woman and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) to head out on the town for a girls night out. Zatanna has a secret motive for this night on the town however that will affect the life of one of our heroes forever. I won’t spoil the story if you haven’t read it yet, but JMS writes a story that is funny, sexy and terribly sad at the same time. This is by far my favorite Brave and the Bold story by JMS so far. Straczynski does in this issue what he has been excelling so far on his run on the Brave and the Bold, taking heroes and putting them in tough spots and letting the readers follow along as our heroes agonize over life changing decisions. No Jesus Saiz this week, but Cliff Chiang has a somewhat similar style and does a good job bringing this story to life. I don’t know what else to say about this book, it really knocked my socks off.

Rating: **** -IM

Joe the Barbarian #4

Well, we are at the halfway point here on Grant Morrison mini and I can honestly say I am still not sure what is going on… well, that is not entirely true. This issue actually explains pretty much everything that is going on with Joe and the two worlds he finds himself bouncing between. I guess I should say I don’t care about the overall plot right now because I am so fascinated by the world that Morrison has created here and the very cool characters that inhabit it. Sean Murphy does such an amazing job on the art I find myself getting lost in the beauty of his artwork. I think this a case where the fantasy world Joe finds himself swallows the storyline whole and makes it take a backseat to the visuals. I don’t want to sell Morrison short on his storytelling, but right now I find myself appreciating the artwork more than what is going on with Joe’s personal life or the whole forces of good battling a rising evil that threatens the land storyline. I know I will go back and reread the whole series after all eight issues come out and pay more attention to the story. For now I will be content with visions of aerial battles with flying stingrays and a Leonardo Di Vinici flying machine.

Rating: *** – IM

American Vampire #2

I told myself ‘No more vampires!’ I am so tired of them and all the Emo crap that seems to be attached to them these days. Pop culture in the past 20 years have cut the nuts off of the once proud creatures of darkness and turned them into fodder for silly teenager dramas. But I can admit that American Vampire comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders. I like the way Scott Snyder and Stephen King are taking a genre that I thought was played out and breathing new life into it. Vampires are back to being brutal killing machines that not only want to drink your blood, but they want to take your money too while they’re at it. Most of the vampires so far appear to be of European origin and want to forge a business empire in the United States. The star of this book so far is Skinner Sweet, he appears to be the first American born vampire created by accident and is very different from his European counterparts. For one thing they hate each other with a passion and Skinner appears to working against their interests in America. That is not to say he is a hero, Sweet is a murdering, amoral outlaw at heart and his motives for his actions are not clear at this time, but I doubt he is acting out of any kindness in his heart.

Once again the book is split into two parts, that take place about 40 years apart. The first story is written by Scott Snyder. Snyder’s story once again deals with a young actress named Pearl, who finds herself surviving (or not surviving) a feeding frenzy from our European Vamps. She is helped by Skinner Sweet, for reasons that are unknown at this time. The second story is by Stephen King and deals with the early days of Skinner Sweet life as a new created vampire. Scott Snyder again has the better of the two stories this time around, but in King’s defense he is left with mostly the background story of Skinner to write and I get the feeling King’s half of the story will start to get better as he fills in more details of Sweet’s life. Rafael Albuquerque does a very job as the artist on this book, bring the story to life and making the vampires (especially Skinner) savage creatures that jump out at you from the page. I will be certainly be picking this book in the future to see just what that evil little shit Skinner is up to.

Rating: *** -IM

Brightest Day #0

Not a very good start. The Hawkman and Hawkgirl dialogue alone almost killed this issue for me. Maxwell Lord making (almost) everyone on the planet forget about him and what he did? Really? Didn’t DC already do a mind wipe story this decade? And Hawk is now DC’s version of Wolverine?

I did like the Martian Manhunter scene as well as the Jade/Kyle Rayner bit. I am really interested in knowing who wrote what in this issue between Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi. The art was decent enough.

Rating: ** -J.

Doc Savage #1

How this comic got the “OK” to be published mystifies me. This is the first issue to a new series for a character that most new readers aren’t familiar with so it should be solid right from the get go. At times it felt that the dialog presented on certain pages didn’t really correspond with anything that was going on and it really was just a jumbled, unreadable mess. And what the hell happened to Howard Porter’s art? He is much better than this. I think I’ll just stick with the main First Wave book for now.

Rating: ½* – J.

Flash #1

Now this was a surprise. After not being very impressed with the cliché ridden Flash: Rebirth and not being a very big fan of Francis Manpul’s art I was expecting to completely dislike this book. That did not happen. This issue was a fun read and Manapul’s art suited it very well. Johns does a good job of (re)introducing the supporting characters for this title as well as keeping a good pace to the story. And the 25th century’s version of the Rogues? Did not see that coming and I thought it was pretty cool.

How can this be? I enjoyed a Geoff Johns book? I thought I was supposed to hate him (according to some CCW viewers)?

Rating: *** – J.

Ultimate Comics Avengers #6

For fuck’s sake. After five and half issues of nonstop killing, implied sexual assault and a baby getting thrown out a window Mark Millar expects readers to sympathize with the Red Skull? Yes, apparently the Red Skull just wanted the Cosmic Cube so he could use it to go back into time and make sure Steve Rogers (his daddy) came back home from World War II so he could have a family and a happy childhood.

This has got to be the most ridiculous, lazy ass storytelling I have seen in quite some time. At no point in the entire series did the Skull come off as being conflicted about what he was doing. At no point did the reader want to feel sympathy for this character. But on his death bed he lays out what his true intention was all along and the reader is supposed to just fucking buy it? And then if the reader does sympathize with the Skull and believes “Gee, I guess me wasn’t a bad guy after all” Millar has the Red Wasp shoot him in the head, killing him. “But he just misunderstood this whole time! You didn’t have to kill him, you bitch!“ might think said reader. WTF.

Again, tragedy is being forced into a story to get the reader to empathize (right before smacking them in the face mind you) without any substance or context. The decent (if not at times just painfully boring) art of Carlos Pacheco helps this comic gain a half star.

Rating: 1/2* – J.

From: IM
To: J.
Subject: Tripping Balls

I’m tripping out this week Jose!

Just kidding, sort of… I picked up several books this week and all of them seem to have something in common. They all do their best to blow my mind with some seriously twisted takes on comic book reality. Sure comics in general make you suspend your disbelief, but many of the comics I read this time around take it to another level =)

*Old News, But Good News!

Chew #1 – I am a huge fan of Chew and what John Layman and Rob Guillory have been doing on this series but I never got the chance to pick up the first issue after all of this time. Now that I think about it, if I was as big a fan of the series as I say I am, I would have made the effort to pick up the first issue or buy the trade by now. Man, I am full of shit sometimes =) Well, Image saved me from being exposed as a Chew fan poser by offering the first issue this week for a dollar!

I was surprised at how strong the first issue was, I was also surprised at how serious John Layman plays the first book, a lot of humor that shows up in later issue is absent here. That is not necessarily a bad thing, the strange thing about the way Layman writes Chew is he can play it both ways, serious or silly. Despite the rather silly premise of the book, the writing seems to work on several different levels. This allows Layman to flip the switch anytime he wants to fuck with the heads of the readers. I really like the level of controlled chaos that Chew brings to the table.

Tripping Balls Meter ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ bong hits out of five!

*The New Stuff!

Turf #1 (of Five) – A new mini series by Johnathan Ross and Tommy Lee Edwards. Probably the densest book I bought this week. More word balloons and information boxes than you can shake a Thai Stick at. But when you have a story that includes rival mob gangs, vampires and outlaw aliens from another solar system fighting it out in 1920′s New York City, you have a lot of explaining to do! Jonathan Ross is writing an ambitious, epic story here and he only has five issues to do it. Unfortunately this isn’t a story to read while chemically imbalanced, so while I enjoyed this story and the art by Tommy Lee Edwards I cannot recommend this story to my more “enlighten” friends out there.

Tripping Balls Meter ~ bong hits out of five!

SHIELD #1 – Hey! Did you know that Shield been around since ancient Egypt, when Imhotep was bashing in the face of a Brood queen with his super duper golden shield or when some Chinese guy builds a giant Pagoda so he can talk turkey with a Celestial. I won’t even bring up Galileo and his tricked out telescope that is used to take out Galactus(I think). Jonathan Hickman is doing what he does best, writing a shit load of techo-babble while weaving it into a compelling story. He is creating a wildly inventive story of the history of SHIELD that appears to take place outside of the 616 world. Dustin Weaver’s art is perfect for this story and he really brings to life the story Hickman is writing. About the time when Leonardo Da Vinci fly’s in from outer space hold a glowing orb of hope you will be begging for another hit or hot boxing in confusion.

Tripping Balls Meter ~ ~ ~ ~ bong hits of of five!

Spider-Man: Fever #1 (of Three) -

Marvel: So what have got for us Brendan?

Brendan McCarthy: OK, man, check this out! It a story about Spider-Man, Dr. Strange and demon spiders from another dimension that want to eat Spider-Man’s soul!

Marvel: Sounds good, can you elaborate?

Brendan: Hum, that’s it..did I mention the Vulture is in it?

Marvel: So he plays a part in the story?

Brendan: Yeah, he totally sprays Spider-Man with bug spray!

Marvel: What?

Brendan: Huh?

Marvel: So how is Dr. Strange involved in the story?

Brendan: Well, it’s sort of all his fault, he reading this book and then the book does all this crazy shit. Anyway, Spider-Man ends up in Dr. Strange’s bath tub.

Marvel: What?

Brendan: Huh?

Marvel: Never mind, so who do you have in mind to do the art?

Brendan: Dude, it’s already done.. drew it all myself, check it out!

Marvel: Is that demon spider wearing a top hat?

Brendan: Yup! ((giggle))

Marvel: Wait, is that two talking dogs eating a happy meal?

Brendan: Hell yeah!

Marvel: How long is this suppose to be?

Brendan: Three issues is what the spider in my tub told me…

Marvel: Fuck it, send us what you got!

Brendan: Groovy!

Tripping Balls Meter ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ bong hits out of five!

Electric Ant #1 (of 5) – This mini is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick… who, in case you didn’t know, is the terrific Sci-Fi author who wrote the stories that the movies Blade Runner and A Scanner Darkly are based on, so the guy know his mind bending science fiction. Mr. Garson Poole is a successful businessman who finds himself in an accident that leaves him in the hospital. There he finds that he is actually an Electricants or ‘Electric Ant’, an artificial being that looks and acts just like a normal human. Garon’s problem is he has no idea what his purpose is or who made him. Like many of Dick’s stories he is exploring the meaning and purpose of life using artificial life as a blank slate to explore his ideas. I never got the chance to read this story before hand, so I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Tripping Balls Meter ~ ~ ~ ~ bong hits out of five!

Bonus Movie Review!

Kikareta onna no mirareta yoru or Man, Woman & The Wall

A very odd movie from Japan. A young man moves into a new apartment and find that the walls are very thin, he can hear everything that is going on in the apartment next door that is occupied by a lovey young lady. He does what any horny, young man would do in his position and begins to stalk her. If that isn’t strange enough, he quickly realizes that she is being stalked by another man, so it so becomes battle of the stalkers! Who will come out on top, and will the poor woman in the middle of all this craziness care? This movie treads a fine line between dark comedy and some really disturbing shit. In the end I found it pretty entertaining and worth a look. Be warned, there is a few explicit sex scenes and more male masturbation than I think I have ever witnessed in any American movie. The final shot of the movie made me laugh, only because it shows the Japanese fascination with pubes =)

You can see this movie on Netflix instant view if you want.

Until next time,

IM

Rating System:
**** : Excellent
*** : Good
** : Fair
* : Poor
Zero : Horseshit

Title: Power Girl #10
By: Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner

Comics do not get more fun or much better than Power Girl. Lots of action, lots of humor and lots of great character moments. This book has not faltered once. But if it’s one thing that I learned from the last episode of Star Trek: TNG it’s that all good things…something, something. Really, just go buy this damn book already if you haven’t. The current creative team who have been with the book from the beginning will be leaving after issue #12 so enjoy it why it lasts. Can Power Girl haz an Eizner Pleez?

Rating: ****

Title: Secret Warriors #14
By: Jonathan Hickman and Sefano Caselli

I have been having some problems with this title as of late. For one, since Caselli’s return to art chores on this book he has changed up his style a bit and not for the better imo. The coloring isn’t helping any either. My biggest problem though comes in the form of the story. Hickman can usually do no wrong in my eyes but this last storyline has been taking forever to get anywhere. There have been too many flashbacks as of late that are focusing on way too many characters. Having it be SHIELD vs. HYDRA is one thing but when you also throw in LEVIATHAN it almost becomes too much for this title to handle. I’ll give credit to Hickman though. His Overall story is very ambitious but having this book only come out once a month is not going to cut it. If there was a way for this comic to come out biweekly during the summer (like Marvel Comics used to do with some titles) to help quicken up the pace of the story I think that would help out tremendously. Unfortunately that probably won’t happen. I’ll give this title a couple more issues to get something going before I decide whether or not to drop it.

Rating: **½

Title: Green Lantern #52
By: Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke

This issue is basically Blackest Night #7.5. Lot of stuff thrown into this issue: The origins of Ion and Parallax are revealed, the rainbow lantern corps try to defend Coast City while attempting to take the planet Xanshi off the playing board and then you have the “rebirth” of Thaal Sinestro. One thing that hasn’t been doing it for me in these last few stories of Blackest Night is that Nekron is really turning out to be nothing special. He is the equivalent of Nero (from the latest Star Trek film) and I think we can all agree that that is not a good thing. Doug Mahnke continues to kill on art in this book and helps it gain an extra star rating.

Rating: ***

Title: Uncanny X-Men #522
By: Matt Fraction and Whilce Portacio

I haven’t read an issue of Uncanny since the whole Utopia storyline and I really have no idea what had been going on in this book lately (so I was kinda lost). All I DO know is that this issue marked the return of Kitty Pryde so I figured I would give it a go. Blerg…how can Matt Fraction write Iron Man so right while his writing on Uncanny is almost unbearable. This was a pretty tough book to get through and I didn’t even bother with the Phil Jimenez back up story since the combination of shitty art with craptastic writing would have surely done me in. But everyone rejoice! Magneto has brought back our precious Kitty Pryde and all is good…except for the writing…and the characterizations…and the art. This book gets one star alone for it NOT being drawn by Greg Land.

Rating: *½

Title: Thunderbolts #142
By: Jeff Parker and Wellinton Alves

Ah, time to cleanse the palette with a Jeff Parker comic. I must say that out of all of the Siege tie-ins I am enjoying this one the most. You have the T-Bolts breaking into the Asgardian’s weapon vault trying to get their hands on the Spear of Odin for Osborn. You then have the Mighty Avengers showing up to stop them. And then you have Amadeus Cho taking out Mr. X in brilliant fashion while you have the U.S. Agent kicking some major buttocks and out Captain America-ing Captain America. On top of all that the T-Bolts start getting their shit together and come off quite bad ass. This was every bit an awesome issue of Mighty Avengers as it was the Thunderbolts. What’s it going to take to get Jeff Parker on an Avengers book already? Get Bendis out of there. Oh and speaking of which…

Rating: ***

Title: New Avengers #63
By: Brian Bendis and Mike McKone

THE ONLY saving grace of this title has been Stuart Immonen’s art. You take that away and replace him with the boring, static art of Mike McKone and there is no longer a reason to torture yourself reading it. This issue’s “cool and witty” dialog is suicide inducing. Bendis is the master of writing pages upon pages of dialogue with little to no substance all the while not moving the story forward. This issue is a perfect example of “sideways” storytelling (much like Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk). The only thing worse than reading this comic would be reading CBR’s review for it (and other Bendis titles). Praising mediocrity seems to be their specialty.

Rating: ½*

Title: Nemesis #1
By: Mark Millar and Steve McNiven

What do you get when you mix an uninspiring idea with passable art while adding a story that seems to be written by a 15 year old sociopath? Well, you get a comic that makes Kick-Ass look like shit. Spoiler: Kick-Ass didn’t really need any help to look like shit…and neither did this comic.

Rating: Zero