Another week, another mega-ton of #1’s and turning points, anniversary issues and new beginnings. It’s our Fistful of Comics: live edition. Once again we will be adding reviews as they come, so be sure to keep this link bookmarked and check back time after time.
But make haste, Gothametropolis is waiting…
October 18 – Spider-Man 2099 #1, A Train Called Love #1, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Cobra World Order Prelude, Guardians of the Galaxy #1, Book of Death: The Fall of X-O Manowar #1
October 16 – Captain America: Sam Wilson #1, Goon in Theatre Bizarre #1, Spider-Gwen #1, New Avengers #1
October 15 – Batman/Superman #25, TMNT #50, The Twilight Children #1, Dead Vengeance #1
Okay, so Peter David‘s (All-New X-Factor, Secret Wars 2099) latest volume of Spiderman 2099 is off to a really, really…slow start. Post Secret Wars, Miguel O’Hara finds himself in the modern day Marvel Universe. Along with Miles, Peter, Silk, and Spider-Woman–that’s a whole lot of arachnids in the city. The first issue deals with O’Hara, an executive at Parker Industries, adapting to modern day life (at least modern for us) and romances and all that spider-tingling stuff. But ultimately, it’s hard to care about what’s really going on. I mean, yeah, there’s some interesting set up going on, along with a surprising cliffhanger, but nothing resonates. The art by Will Sliney (Farscape, Astonishing Ant-Man) doesn’t help too much. While drawn beautifully, it all feels a little too artificial, with too many “action figure” poses at the expense of what would be better for the story. Overall, this intro is a bit too uninspiring for my tastes, but with any luck issue #2 can liven up this cult-favorite spider series. 2/5 Future Bibles.
Garth Ennis. Rom-Com. Those words go together in your head like a cheese grater and an intimate embrace. Do we quickly forget that Preacher was filled with romance? Jessie & Tulip drove that book and kept it on course. So with this kept in mind — I give you a Romantic Comedy by Garth. Part 1 of 10. Mark Dos Santos (Imperial, Red City) on art has an animated cartoon style that helps sell the humor without it feeling “all ages”. Because this book isn’t. Sex, violence and nudity! All three at once! We’re introduced to a colorful cast of characters that all seem to be connected to one another somehow. A singer in a band who hates the play list; a group of friends whose black friend has an interesting afternoon with the parents of the WASPY girl he’s tutoring; and the woman who’s ignoring her mother’s calls, while at the same time tracking down the skeevy pervert leaving messages on her answering machine. Did I leave anyone out? Oh– there’s an assassin and some crazy German hitmen as well. It’s pure Garth Ennis. It’s the unhinged and uninhibited Rom-Com you wish your girlfriend guilted you into taking her to see on her birthday. Thanks, Dynamite. 3/5 Bibles.
The Guardians of the Galaxy are back for their first post-not-quite-post-Secret Wars romp and fortunately for readers, Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man, Powers) is back. However, thanks to Secret Wars, things are a bit messy this time around.
The gang is up to the same type of space adventures we’ve come to expect, but looks a bit different. The Thing (yes, that big orange rock from Fantastic Four!) is now flying around with Rocket, Groot, Drax and…Kitty Pryde, who is moonlighting as Star Lord, because he is moonlighting as his own dad. Like I said, messy. Oh, and Gamora shows up later because there’s a big bad guy who wants something that the Guardians found (stole) in their travels. A fine issue, sure. But would no doubt be confusing for anyone not keeping up with continuity. 3.5/5 Stolen Bibles.
GI Joe: A Real American Hero – Cobra World Order Prelude — long enough title for ya? — is the latest Joe story written by legendary GI Joe scribe Larry Hama, who has been writing the series on and off since 1982, and art by S.L. Gallant. I’ve read plenty of Hama’s Joe books in the past, and he’s always had a great way of telling the story due to the fact that he was always allowed to tell the story that he wants to tell. Cobra World Order, however, gives the feeling that he was both rushed and told “you need to explain all of Cobra and the history and the various Joes and all in one issue”. This book seems like it should have been a one off or more of a “history of” issue instead of a #1. It just doesn’t hook me like previous Joe books have, especially those from Hama. On the flip side of the story telling is Gallant’s artwork, which, while very good at his storytelling aspect, left me feeling kind of “eh” about it. A lot of the panels looked like the back panel of GI Joe action figure packages. With the price of comic books these days, I’m going to have to recommend a hard pass on this book unless you had any questions about the GI Joe universe, because this book answers almost everything. COOBBRRAAAA!!! 1/5 Hisstanks.
First off, let me start by saying the only thing I know about X-O Manowar is that it used to be a cartoon back when in the 90’s when I was a kid–and even then I didn’t watch it. So when I opened the book and saw that the book gives you a one page “set up” to the whole X-O Manowar story, I was pleasantly surprised. Now onto the work by Robert Venditti (Green Lantern) and Clayton Henry (Archer and Armstrong), which was fantastic. Vendetti brings forth a story that could have been both very clumsy and messy; but instead weaves the story, both past and present, in such a way that it’s compelling and straightforward. His story is made that much more fluid thanks to Henry’s artwork, which has reminded me of a cross between John Cassaday and Salvador Larroca in his story telling, crispness and realism. There were only a few “hiccups” with the dialogue but they were so minor that they are easily forgiven. With a title Book of Death: The Fall of X-O Manowar you can only assume that there is going to be some epic fight and death scenes coming our way. This humble reviewer is going to tell you that, yes, go pick this book up. Valiant seems to be making a strong resurgence this year and while Marvel and DC are trying to revamp their lineups what seems like every other month, Valiant seems to be going back to the basics. 4.25/5 Bibles.
This is not your father’s Captain America, and that’s a good thing. Sam Wilson, famous for years for being the second-rate best friend of the Star-Spangled Avenger, is the new Cap thanks to writer Nick Spencer (Secret Avengers, Ant-Man) and artist Daniel Acuña (Uncanny Avengers, Black Widow). The team delivers a bright, contemporary take on the new Cap, full of clever jokes about our political world, the perils of super-heroes flying coach, and — oh yeah — the nefarious plans of a new generation of Sons of the Serpent. This first issue is a little bit wordy (one page has so much text you’d swear it was transported from a 1960s issue of Tales of Suspense) but there are enough easter eggs for longtime fans (D-Man’s new costume is awesome and Misty Knight still looks hawt in her old-school ‘fro) to keep us involved. For those who don’t salute the history of the old-school Steve Rogers Captain America, there’s plenty here to cheer on, with solid character moments and bad guys who seem like they stepped off a Fox News chat show. The shield is in the right hands with these creators. 4/5 Stars.
Aye… This Halcion Hell, called All Hallow’s Eve, is nigh upon us once more… And what say ye, to a wee bit o’ the jackal lanterned? And what say ye, to a song of cackling crow?? And what say ye, to a taste of the cauldron’s black-hearted of brew??? The Horror House of Comics saddled in Dark House, has delivered unto us all, a Treat of Trickery shackled in Rumpelstiltskinian chicanery… And only Zombo the Death Clown knows, if The Goon can escape the Theatre Bizarre!!! The Goon in Theatre Bizarre #1, is a fiendish collaboration; carved from black cat carcass skinned bare, by Goon creator Eric Powell (Marvel Monsters: Devil Dinosaur), and creator of the Grand Guignolian Theatre Bizarre (held every October in Detroit since 1999), John Dunivant. Powell loads the Lingo, and crafts the Cover; while Dunivant doubles up with him, to lay the Lines and create the Chromatics.
There is a method to the mayhem that this Jekyll-and-Hydian Duo delivers. The Goon and Co. find themselves forgotten in fog, only to be aborted unto a netherworld of nymphs & imps, and goblins & ghouls, and other miscreants malformed. Holding court over these goddamned souls, is the dropkick-deadly gorgeous and real-life burlesque-fatale, Roxi D’Lite, and her captor/lover/confidant(?) – a demon made-manifest as, Zombo the Death Clown… Again…only Zombo knows what will unfold within his Rabelaisian realm. And so might ye get a glimpse, if ye pick up this ish. And so shall ye, if ye happen to journey to Detroit, to John Dunivant’s Theatre Bizarre, on Day 17 of October, in Year 15 of 2000… 3.75/5 Smashed Billy Corgans.
A smart, young, daughter of a police officer dons a superhero costume to keep her big metropolitan city safe, in this indie style, brightly colored, mainstream comic book, and it is FANTASTIC! 5 outta 5!! But enough about DC’s Batgirl, because this week I’m reviewing Spider-Gwen #1 (actually, our “El Sacerdote” gave the initial Spider-Gwen #1 5 outta 5…). Firstly, I’ve gotta give it to writer Jason Latour (Southern Bastards) , the story is great! The whole “Peter Parker is dead” thing, and the hints dropped about Osborne being “The Green Goblin,” plus the actual plot with the lizards rampaging through the city, all of this makes me want to buy issue 2. Seriously, take the compliment, because this is about where I jump off the Gwen-hype-train.
A little lower on the praise-totem-pole is artist Robbi Rodriguez (F.B.P.), who — although nails the fluidity of a spider-character book — seems to have a personal vendetta against backgrounds. The whole comic seems to take place on a stage at a high school theater production. A majority of the panels just use a blank, bright color as the background, making the characters feel like they exist in nothingness. Does Rodriguez even know what grass is supposed to look like? Not to mention the most exciting element of the book: Rico Renzi‘s colors. Unfortunately, my only guess is the editors over at Marvel limited Renzi’s pallet to “nausea-inducing hues you will only see while tripping the fuck out on acid.” Look, I get that’s the feel you were going for, but come on, can we at least get some variation? The comic frankly looks… unfinished, and lazy. There are hardly any highlights and shadows on any scene except the final one in the subway tunnels. Basically, the last five pages of the comic are the only ones that resemble a finished product. But to end on a positive, um, strong story, Latour! 2/5 Vertigo Pills.
What’s the haps, my beautiful followers. Looking for a pick me up? Your friendly neighborhood Belser (gimmick infringement, I know) is here to take out what ails thee. Today’s selection is the latest entry in the Avengers canon after the continuity-crossing events of Secret Wars, the aptly-for-once-titled New Avengers #1. The story: After Secret Wars, a new team of young Avengers has been forged and sent forth to safeguard the world. They refer to themselves as the new A.I.M. (Avengers Idea Mechanics) and are led by Roberto DeCosta aka Sunspot. This roster consists of relative rookies like White Tiger, Wiccan, the Victor Alvarez Power Man, Hulkling, and Squirrel Girl, with former Thunderbolt Songbird as the field leader. Their initial mission seems pretty off: Stop a group with literal diamonds for heads from taking over Paris, France. While this is going down, Sunspot gets a visit from Dum Dum Dugan of SHIELD and is forced to take on a surprise veteran Avenger to his New team. For a premiere issue, this was pretty OK. The script by Al Ewing (Loki: Agent of Asgard) does a decent job of setting up the relationships between the team members and how they view what they do. Artist Gerardo Sandoval (Guardians 3000, Age of Apocalypse) presents a consistent style and plays up the features of each team member (example: Squirrel Girl looks almost rodent-like in certain panels). My favorite panel is the reveal of the new roster in the cockpit of the Avengers jet. Otherwise… 2.5/5 Belser Bibles.
In line with Man of Steel’s darker tone in the DCCU, DC comics is continuing the “Batman-ifying” trend with Supes in this jumping-on point for Batman/Superman, and it might just be working. At this point, Clark’s gone rogue and is still learning to deal with being superpower-less. Bat-Gordon takes a backseat to the action for most of the book, but this issue is still colored Black as the Knight. Clark’s learned to compensate for his lack of abilities in the same way that Bruce did, and it kinda works for him — until we meet the reason why this little arc is going to be called “The Savage Wars”. Once our favorite, future Legends of Tomorrow big bad shows up we see Clark’s special Kryptonian brand of cockiness bite him in the ass. Luckily, Clark finds out Batman’s secret: he never did it alone.
Writer Greg Pak (Incredible Hercules, World War Hulk) does a good enough job at showing that Superman’s biggest flaw isn’t necessarily just his lack of power. His idealism and pride, the traits that always weighed down a lot of people’s interest in Superman’s character, are now interesting character flaws. Pak also makes Vandal Savage’s intro, and first act of villainy, menacing enough but the McGuffin he’s set up teeters on the edge of tired and uninteresting. The uneven art style of Cliff Richards (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) doesn’t help much. While the illustrations lean more towards interesting and detailed when the panel frames a wider shot, some of the coloring done by Beth Sotelo (Switchblade) bring out the flatness in the character’s designs when we pull in for closer looks. It’s almost the opposite of the concept of this storyline as a whole – in broad strokes the narrative is intriguing and kind of new, but the specific details filling everything in leaves much more to be desired. 3.25/5 Batmen.
The Turtles have been building up to an epic climax in this series and for the most part this extra-long issue doesn’t disappoint. While the focus has always been on Shredder, this issue has a bit of a deeper and more gloomy look into his past and how it affects the villain he is today. I really enjoyed the contrast between Mateus (Dial H, 2 Guns) Santolouco’s visceral, colorful, and dynamic action scenes and Cory (Magnus Robot Fighter) Smith’s misty, sepia-toned flashback sequences. It’s a great way to break up the story and the action into digestible sequences. The actual story fares a little worse due to the inability to stick with the ramifications of a certain character’s demise, but this has been going on since the invention of comics so it wasn’t entirely unexpected. However, it would have been interesting to see the writers take it down a more emotional route instead of a safe one. That’s not to say this isn’t a brutal comic, because it is quite exciting and action-packed. Perhaps I am expecting too much out of a TMNT comic which has always been a little snarky and edgy. Overall, it’s an interesting end to an intriguing story arc. 4/5 Pizzas.
When Vertigo announced their new slate of this year’s titles, I was most intrigued by the pairing of A-list talents Gilbert (Beto) Hernandez and Darwyn Cooke. The presence of either creator guarantees that whatever project it is will be a master class in sequential storytelling, but a first-time collaboration such as this is particularly intriguing. And that doesn’t even count having Dave Stewart, one of the industry’s best, on colors. I should disclose here that Beto is my favorite Hernandez brother and his Palomar cycle of stories is one of my favorite all-time runs, so I’m already totally predisposed to be all-in on this one after like a single scene, though I feel like that might be the case even if that opening two-page pan from the coast to the street didn’t evoke the sleepy Latin American village that Luba and Ofelia and Heraclio and Carmen call home.
There are no overt signs right out of the gate, but the reader can already detect a tinge of magical realism in the salty air. Beto provides pinpoint characterization on the group of kids as they discuss Bundo, the town drunk. The sleepy-eyed look that Cooke puts on Grover’s face when he tells Jael that their parents are English teachers is an immediate classic and one of dozens of examples to be found in these pages that distinguish Cooke once again as a first-rate cartoonist. And then a damn Rover from The Prisoner’s Village shows up, which is always a surprise. What an arresting visual.
The return of these ominous white balls leads to other fantastic events unfolding, confirming the initial impression that the Gabriel Garcia Marquez DNA woven into Hernandez’s other work is still very much in evidence here–and Cooke remains one of the most talented visual stylists working today. Any time that he deigns to work on interior pages is a cause for celebration. His soft line and economical detail here do a tremendous amount of work making these characters come alive and relatable to the reader. And Stewart’s colors enhance every single image, always popping without calling attention to themselves. The work these creators do on this series is a symphony, every element complementing the others and serving to enhance the whole at the highest level of craft. And they make it look easy. It is only just beginning, but it is already very apparent that this series is something very special, and we are so lucky to get it. 5/5 Impromptu Magical Hurricanes.
Dead Vengeance #1…talk about the classics coming alive, blast from the past style. My hats off to everyman Bill Morrison — who both writes and sketches here — for his brilliant incorporation and omage to several amazing mob references. The style sets a bit of L.A. Noir with a lil’ bit of Dick Tracy. And–I mean–who doesn’t like either? More than just nods to yesteryear, the Bongo Comics creator also provides pages that are numerously fluid, vibrant, and pleasing to the eyes. It’s safe to say that Keith Champagne (JSA) also does his homework, and collaborates with flawless inks that tie in uniformity with the storyline. The bold characters and environments should draw you while leaving distractions at the door.
I cracked up immediately when reading of a character that was in a state of carnival coma resting…in a massive pickle jar. Jonathan Paul Dover aka “John Doe” is awaken by kids horsing around on a dare to have the daylights scared out of them. We follow John as he tracks down his best friend Joe Preston to help him regain his memory, he’s been dead and missing for 10-years. Scratching the surface right there we get a flashback oh how things went down. Dover is a radio host as well as a cadaver? Some scary “Bishop Zom life similarities” are at work in this one. Dover is not a average radio host; he’s hellbent at bringing down the mob that killed his wife. The pages keep turning and more of this mystery novel keeps you fresh with suspense. If you love Stubbs the Zombie, the art for the next issue is right up your alley! 4/5 Pickled Cadaver Jars.