Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bitrot Reviews - R.I.P. Ghostbusters

Welcome back to another edition of Bitrot Reviews. There are ten new releases that I’m reviewing this week including the series finale of Ghostbusters. This makes me very sad as I’ve generally given this series positive reviews. Much of this had to do with the artwork but plenty had to do with the writing which was very good. There was an ease to the humor that was just about perfect. Even if this is the end of the road for this project, I look forward to what the creative team does next. As always, titles are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the very best.

Ghostbusters - Issue 20

(IDW Publishing)

One last time … who you gonna call?

It is with heavy heart that I say this is my final review of this fine series by IDW Publishing. I remember when it first came on my radar doing weekly reviews, I didn’t pay much attention to it. Truth be told, my expectations weren’t all that great. There was one awesome movie and one average movie. And two animated series that were of mixed quality (and title and characters.) Plus, I remember reading a series by NOW Comics with The Real Ghostbusters title. There was lots of weird ness about Ghostbusters vs. The Real Ghostbusters. The Real ones were the better version, in my opinion. So, I eventually gave it a chance and was duly impressed. Not just because of the overall quality but that each issue was very good. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bitrot Reviews - Futures End Week 3

Welcome back to another edition of Bitrot Reviews supplemental Futures End reviews. This is week three and there’s one more ahead. Weeks one and two can be found if you click the links. Which is good because this is a real pain in the ass to have to do both columns. I guess I don’t HAVE to do it but I started this so I’m going to see this through. I think the biggest issue is that they’re so miserable on tone, it’s just not much fun. Well, maybe this week will be better. Seven titles reviewed. Titles are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the very best.

Superman / Wonder Woman : Futures End – Issue 1

Couples counseling?
So, I’m guessing things don’t work out between Superman and Wonder Woman. There was big deal made about them kissing and it got main-stream attention and that wasn’t surprising. It kind of makes sense in a way. They’re both so powerful and regal it is odd that it never happened before. So, going with the idea that corporations are lazy, creatively weak, and utterly unwilling to stick by any creative decision this should come as no surprise. As I haven’t been paying much attention to the big two, this may have already happened. It kind of makes me sad. This issue very much so.

The nickle-explanation of what goes like this. Future Superman, who came from the past in the future (it’s true, just hang in there) to save Wonder Woman from an eternity in hell, wants Diana to replace another god and bring hope and peace to the world. Honestly, this is probably the best of all of these Futures End comics as it was the least bleak of them all. True heroes doing heroic things. We’ve been missing this thus far. There was positivity in this story and actual growth for the characters. The art was solid. The cover alright.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Deadpool's Art of War? Peter David!

This normally wouldn’t interest me but Peter David is pretty awesome and the cover is awesomer!

DEADPOOL’S ART OF WAR #1 Rewrites the Book on Combat This October!

Lovely and terrible!

Lovely and terrible!It’s been called the definitive work on military strategy and tactics. Sun Tzu’s seminal Art of War has influenced warfare for hundreds of years. From battlefields to Boardrooms and beyond, there has never been a work more important when it comes to strategy and preparation. Until now! Today, Marvel is proud to present your first look at DEADPOOL’S ART OF WAR #1 – the first chapter in a new 4-issue limited series adapting its classic and iconic namesake! from New York Times Bestselling writer Peter David (All-New X-Factor, The Incredible Hulk) and fan-favorite artist Scott Koblish (Deadpool)!

The Merc With a Mouth knows a thing or two about combat and tactics, and he’s gearing up to write his own version of Art of War. It’s in the public domain so it’s totally ripe for being ripped off. Times change, and today we have heat seeking missiles and automatic machine guns so how accurate can the original book really be?

Only it’ll take more than a great book if Deadpool wants to outsell the original. His plan? Cause enough war and chaos around the globe so that they’ll have to buy his book! Though he’ll get more than he bargained for when the Asgardians, Avengers, X-Men and more get involved. Be there when military strategy takes a gigantic leap forward in DEADPOOL’S ART OF WAR #1 this October!


Written by PETER DAVID

Art & Cover by SCOTT KOBLISH

Variant Cover by CHRIS BURNHAM (AUG140883)

FOC – 09/22/14, On-Sale 10/15/14

Friday, September 19, 2014

Bitrot Reviews - Armor Hunters Is Almost Done

Welcome back to another edition of Bitrot Reviews. I have to say I’m starting to regret the Futures End supplemental review as I feel I’ve taken too big a bite of this process. These columns take forever to write but they sure are fun. I’m seeing some amazing comics of late. And some crappy ones. The crappy ones are easier to review, generally. Yeesh. I did a quick count and there are seventeen titles this week. As always, titles are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the very best possible.

Annihilator – Issue 1

(Legendary Entertainment)

photoThis is some wild stuff by Grant Morrison. And, for the record, I don’t think he’s insane. I think his brain works on a level most of ours don’t. Perhaps that is a hallmark of madness but I choose to think he’s a power harnessed for the greater good. Or something. What shocks me is he has time for this as well as all the stuff he’s doing for DC Comics. Writing any comic book is time-consuming. To do it the way he does is impressive. Layer upon layer of themes and ideas crashing into one another at high speeds from weird angles. And his work is dense. I get the feeling he writes about 100 pages for a 22 page comic and then condenses. Inspiring. 

As for Annihilator, it’s a mixed blessing. He’s created quite the tone of slimy and ickiness. Yes, somehow, has made something utterly compelling. There is a story within this story but it’s not clear which is the anchor. Is it the prisoner on the planet orbiting the black hole? Or is it the thing inside the writer’s head which is the black hole? The characters aren’t quite sympathetic but you forgive him because it’s so audacious. Plus the artwork is frigging amazing. It’s odd but beautiful at the same time. And the cover is great.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bitrot Reviews - Futures End Week 2

Welcome back to Bitrot Review’s second week of reviews of Futures End’s launch for DC Comics. Last week we looked at seven titles that kicked all this off. Action Comics and Detective Comics were the best of that batch while Aquaman and Grayson were very disappointing. I finally figured out why I’ve not been enjoying the New 52 thus far. Mainly it just isn’t very fun. So what do we have this week? Six new releases of mixed quality. As always titles are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the very best.

Birds Of Prey : Futures End – Issue 1

It pretty much tells you what you need to know. If you have an encyclopedic knowledge of the DC universe.

photo 3 300x466 Bitrot Reviews Futures End Week 2At its heart, I think I liked what was driving this issue/concept. I’ve been a fan of Black Canary for a long time. It was pretty easy because I was a huge Green Arrow fan growing up (I’m not sure what to make of the current version but that is an unrelated matter.) I want to be careful not to lump her in as something that only works in regards to Green Arrow but their relationship was a big component in their stories. When Mike Grell was writing them, their relationship felt real. And their dynamic was great. She was tougher than him and didn’t put up with his crap. His crap was his super-power.

My only problem with the Grell run was what happened to her in The Longbow Hunters story. Mostly it changed the tone and a lot of this tied into the Woman-In-The-Fridge concept I never cared for. Besides being sexist, it smacked of lazy writing. There have to be other ways to create motivation without a significant other becoming a casualty. I’ll come back to this in the Batgirl review, below.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hulk Smash ... Thanos?

Originally published here.

This seems like a bad idea. Though, I do like Jim Starlin’s artwork even if he made Hulk’s right arm look kind of weird. Or maybe it’s me. Hulk Smash Thanos!

THANOS VS. HULK #1 Matches Mad Titan Against Green Goliath This December!New Limited Series From Comic Legend Jim Starlin Coming Later This Year!

Can’t we all just get along?

Thanos vs. Hulk 1 Cover 300x460 Hulk Smash ... Thanos?This December, legendary fan-favorite Jim Starlin returns for an action-packed, smash-filled limited series spanning the cosmos in THANOS VS. HULK #1! That’s right True Believer, time to find out if Hulk is truly the strongest there is as he throws down with Thanos across the far reaches of the Marvel Universe!

Abducted by Pip the Troll, Bruce Banner has been dragged halfway across the galaxy, set to be ransomed to one of the most vile beings in the galaxy – Annihilus! Annihilus has something Pip wants, and he’s willing to go to any lengths to get it, even kidnapping the Incredible Hulk! Annihilus plans to use the Jade Giant for his own destructive ends. Ones that will put the Hulk directly in the path of Thanos, the Mad Titan!

“For this story, Jim Starlin does what Jim Starlin does best — tell a thrilling, cosmic tale,” says Editor Wil Moss. “And everyone from Iron Man and Pip the Troll to Blastaar and Annihilus is involved. But the main event, of course, is the Thanos/Hulk showdown, and Jim delivers a confrontation that’s going to be every bit as mind-blowing as you’d expect!”

Guest starring Iron Man, Blastarr, S.H.I.E.L.D. and more, be there when two of the Marvel Universe’s heaviest hitters come to planet-shaking blows! Who will emerge victorious? And when the dust settles, will anything be left standing? Find out when Jim Starlin returns for the cosmos for the explosive THANOS VS. HULK #1, on sale in December!

THANOS VS. HULK #1 (of 4)

Written by JIM STARLIN

Art & Cover by JIM STARLIN

Variant Cover by RON LIM

On Sale in December!

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Originally published on
VWars is not a vampire story. Its not Victoriana, its not Twi-hard. Instead, you know what this really is? This is Swarm Horror, an evolution of the Zombie Armageddon trope. It is very similar to Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain, minus the nihilism.
The concept is that a vampire plague has spread across the world. Some of us are infected, some of us aren’t. But the kicker is, the infected still retain their humanity. They might look like ugly, bloodied vampires, if they choose,  or they might look as normal as anyone else. Because they still feel human, these new vampires don’t want to be  treated as monsters. Instead, they’re after legitimacy and civil rights. Freedom from persecution, and the right to co-exist alongside “normal” humanity.
As garish as the covers may be, don’t be fooled. There’s some intelligence lurking in these pages. What you first have to know is that there’s a prose novel available to accompany the comic series. I have not read that book, so I can’t comment on what bearing it has on the series storyline. But the series takes several interesting narrative persepectives. There’s our hero, Professor Luther Swann, who seems to be the voice of reason for humanity, arguing that we should put aside our differences and come together. There’s a Vampire militia, doing their best to terrorize humans because they don’t want to co-exist. There’s Yuki Nitobe, a naive reporter who embedded herself in the new vampire community in the hopes of presenting their side of the story. And then there’s our government, looking for ways to search and destroy because a vampire terrorist sniper blew away General Conrad Holly during a public speech, inciting riots and the V-War.
One snippet I particularly liked was when one of the “better” vampires told Yuki Nitobe that she needed journalistic integrity. That despite the need to sell newspapers or get tv ratings for advertisers using sensationalism, sometimes the truth needs to be told. And the truth is always gray.
VWars05 cvrSUB 620x940 IDWs VWars, by Jonathan Maberry   The first 5 issues...Issue #03 was a nice piece of the tapestry by way of introducing Corporal Taurus Harper. The story highlighted his background while introducing the dynamic of the paramilitary team that Luther Swann is now a part of. Luther Swann is experiencing the uncomfortable truths of war, and at the same time, unknowingly fighting with a friendly vampire, Taurus, on his side. Something writer Johnathan Maberry excels at is showcasing the pride and loyalty of our military, and Issue #03 is a staunch example of that kind of writing.
Issue #05 came out recently, and another element that intrigues me is the Red Queen. Some of the more extremist vampires have pledged allegiance to the Red Queen, and now Luther Swann is tasked with meeting her and finding out what her goals are. This was a decent pot-boiler story, naturally with a twist at the end. When I read this one, I could now see that Maberry is taking more of a television approach – every episode has to be a game changer, always learning something new.
Kevin Eastman’s rendition of The Red Queen

So far, I can say that it did take me a little bit to get into the swing of VWars, but once started, I’m curious to see how far the team will take it. I suspect there are no easy resolutions, and there will be tragedy in droves by the end. For Zach’s sake, I like it, provided Maberry ties up all the loose ends when its over

Friday, June 27, 2014

New Release Reviews for 27 June, 2014

Welcome back to another edition of New Release Reviews. World Cup madness is still going strong and props to the US team for backing into the knock-out round. Sure, beating Germany would have been better but just getting in was a big deal. U-S-A!  I was talking with The Girlfriend after last week's marathon review and I said I need to cover less titles. So how many am I reviewing this week? Only eleven titles. Only. Well, there is a few interesting things this week. As always … titles are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the very best possible. We take the time to read these books so your time isn't wasted.

Serenity Leaves On The Wind - Issue 6 (of 6)
Dark Horse Comics

This issue was paced weird. First off, what I didn't grasp when reading the first five issues was that this was a mini-series and not Season 2. I guess that's my bad because this series was perfect for that. Even with the film Serenity, there was endless things the characters could do. I can't really tell if there is going to be more mini-series or a real Season. For now, we're left with the taste this issue left in our mouth. But is that a good thing? Here's The Girlfriend to expand on that:
Well, this was a pretty crappy ending to the mini-series I felt.  Again, it seems they dropped story lines from prior issues so things were left hanging. I guess they will be taken up in another miniseries?  Who knows?

And the artist confused me with the looks of the female characters.  I just couldn't tell them apart.  Even so, except for the Zoe thread, the women were of no importance.  And the River-esque female made a rather quick and unbelievable recovery.

I was greatly disappointed. The writers and artists and everyone did not live up to the greatest if the Firefly television series or Serenity the movie. 
Woof! That's some pretty tough talk, there. The thing is, she's right. I like this art team but since issue one, it's clear that work has been needed to improve faces. I mean, you notice it more with the female characters than the male characters. Honestly, if you're not a fan of the show, you'll have a hard time telling people apart. It's that simple. And as far as story goes, unless you're a fan, you're not going to understand what's happening. Still, if you do connect you should like all the of the family moments. The characters are very much a family and that's an important theme in this series.

Unfortunately, this series felt like it was building up to something awesome and it fell short. That would be Mal leading a new revolution against the government but that backs down at the end. Even with all the Browncoats showing up and now traveling with the crew, it still didn't go there. This would have been a much better way to end this mini-series. I, also, don't like how things are left unresolved with The Operative. You know he's not dead, even if you're left to assume that. He's too great to throw away. And what's up with the River-Heavy (River is actually River-Lite compared to the new one.) The cover is pretty great so that helps.

Score: 6 out of 10

X-O Manowar - Issue 26
Valiant Entertainment

This was, possibly, the best issue of this series so far. Mostly this is because it wasn't about the title character who is kind of boring in his simplicity. This is a flash-back issue that deals with how some of the Armor Hunters became Armor Hunters. Though tiny in action, it's a massive story with huge implications. The wonderful thing here is that it shows the villains aren't really the villains. They've just got a handle on the biggest threat in the universe. The recap is simple yet helpful. The cover is solid and the coloring excellent. The wrap-around cover is fantastic.

Score: 8 out of 10

Manhattan Projects - Issue 21
Image Comics

I can't be the only one who wonder if the whole point of this story was to make things very unusual given how much Yuri Gagarin misses her. I'm guessing things will change. Otherwise, this is smart sci-fi full of danger and wonder. The artwork is different but it works well for the series. The cover has solid design, just like the interior.

Score: 8 out of 10

The Goon : One For The Road - One-Shot
Dark Horse Comics

I was very happy to see this new one-shot for this truly bizarre seties. It starts with a fantastic cover by Jack Davis and things just get beter. The outcome of the mayhem is predictable. And the mayhem is never ending. Crazy. Creator Eric Powell tells a wonderful tale with his series in general. This one seemed a little less focused than prior ones but it was still pretty great. The country songs were a hoot. The art is fantastic. The cover is even more fantastic with great coloring.

Score: 8.5 out of 10

Harbinger - Issue 24
Valiant Entertainment

This issue had such and odd feel to it. It was very somber which makes sense given the events that happened and happen here. I still haven't been able to view Pete as a hero, even if he took a noble path in this issue. Still seems just a bit too passive to be a leader of heroes. Certainly not the way he chooses to end things. But I think the series is still going. Maybe. I'm not sure. It's vague and kind of open-ended. The best part was The Bleeding Monk stepping up. But it really kind of kills story momentum so maybe it was the worst thing. I guess, at the end, everyone was honest so that means something. The art is fine and the coloring excellent as always. The recap was helpful.

Score: 5 out of 10

Clive Barker’s Next Testament - Issue 10 (of 12)
Boom! Studios

This is a classic example of committing the cardinal sin of not showing, but telling. Much of this issue is spent in a library researching stuff. People are looking in books and talking about not finding what they're looking for. And then, right before everything ends, they find what they were looking for and reinforcements show up. But is that a good thing? The art isn't that great though I like Wick's look and his word balloons. The cover is OK.

Score: 4.5 out of 10

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Issue 35
IDW Publishing

The turtles were in the news this week as the the trailer for the new movie was released. I'll confess that my only real connection to them is the comic books. First was the original series in the 80s when Eastman and Laird created it. It was so fresh and interesting, only to be ruined by speculators. I missed all the movies and cartoons and games and comics about the movies and cartoons and games. So IDW's release of a rebooted Turtles series has been a revelation. They've done some nice things to update the franchise but the heart of it is still there. And the characters have become as complex as their adversaries have become. Plus there has been an expansion of characters which allows for more drama.

For this issue there seemed to be two main things going on. The first involved Hob and Slash as a well as a kidnapped scientist. Some of the Turtles discovered this odd situation that had very odd conflict but had a humanized moment with Slash. He may have been my favorite character in the series, though where he goes after the events of this issue, we'll have to wait and see. But it was a big deal. The other bulk of the story involved Casey and his father. That whole situation struck me as odd and a bit too coincidental but there is drama there. The art is decent. At moments it's fantastic and other times it drifts into cartoon and looses you. The cover is fun and the alt covers are solid.

Score: 7 out of 10

Skullkickers - Issue 28
Image Comics

This series is funny and clever, even if the characters are weird and violent. The story strays from the past and the present and across dimensions. It's borderline crazy and difficult for new readers. The art is fun and cover is solid.

Score: 6.5 out of 10

Ghostbusters - Issue 17
IDW Publishing

I have mixed feelings about this issue. I like it for all the things I've liked thus far. The art is great. The characters are spot on. There is humor but it works around the characters's humanity. It has an extremely helpful recap and roll-call. That being said, this was a strange issue and I had trouble following it at points. I guess that makes sense as the villain creates confusion and doubt. Still, it didn't flow like other issues. And, there is the little matter that this series is ending after the arc. No new volume. Just done. Maybe the license is gone, as well. Disappointing. Covers are a mixed bag.

Score: 8 out of 10

MPH - Issue 2
Image Comics

I think this would mean more to me if there were any good guys in this. At best, there's a woman in the story who doesn't want her brother being a gang member. Otherwise, it's just criminals and more criminals. I liked the power presentation in issue one but it was a little to cavalier in this issue. It's breezy as we're shown bad people doing bad things. Nothing connects emotionally. At least the art is outstanding.

Score: 5.5 out of 10

Transformers : More Than Meets The Eye - Issue 30
IDW Publishing

If the whole issue were as good as the recap, this might be the best comic ever. It's funny and informative and actually helps explain things that happened in the prior issue. It's not a knock as you will but these stories are dense and there a lot of characters and some things aren't always clear. The trial seems to be concluding and it's not quite as fun as last issue where Starscream spoke. His speech was fantastic. Really, this issue will get a better score just because the last issue's speech was so great. This issue had an aborted prison break, I think. The Depecticons were doing something but Megatron's rejection of them was odd. I like how Optimus got all up in Megatron's grille about his manipulations as it gave Megatron a reprieve of sorts.

Weirdly, my favorite part of this issue was Ultra Magnus. Usually, he's just kind of annoying. He's physically bigger than most other Transformers so most of the other robots are weary of him. Plus he's a great warrior and leader blah blah blah. Usually, though, he's rigid and uptight and kind of boring. We see another side of him in this issue. He's focused and he gives every task the same level of effort. In this case, he's defending Megatron and he does just as good a job there as any other task. Of particular note is the argument with Prowl which was outstanding. Everything else is just OK. There are all sorts of political things happening. And the Rodimus time travel thing is just weird. Still, the issue moves fast so you don't get too hung up on the things that screw up the pacing. The covers are excellent. I love the Lincoln Memorial riff and the MLP cross-over was a hoot.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Well, that was an interesting week. The Goon special was the best of the week even if it wasn't quite as good as prior issues. Everything else was OK to solid but nothing must have. Clive Barker's Next Testament was the weak link. Stop on back, next week for more New Release Reviews. Keep in mind that that edition will come out after the US's first Knockout Round game so good luck America!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chicacabra - A New Graphic Novel by Tom Beland

Zach says to me, read this graphic novel. So, I do, intrigued that his girlfriend is going to comment on the book as well. Chicacabra is a fairly mellow book, not at all like I was expecting. I like these kind of comics, which are more grounded in realistic people than about superheroes or fantasy. Chicacabra clearly owes a lot to the 90's B/W indie movement, and it is not only homage, but a naturally voiced evolution. It is also a feminine book, by which I mean men are welcome, but it seems to be speaking to a different audience than your normal fanboy.

The book begins by introducing Isabella. Our heroine is a high-school age girl, living with her uncle on Puerto Rico. Isabella has not had a happy childhood. Her father was killed by petty criminals, and her mother has turned catatonic in her grief. Isabella lives with her uncle Tony, a hard working man trying to run a restaurant and raise his niece and take care of his invalid sister. Isabella has turned her grief inwards and is happiest when studying bugs and beetles. So, the story begin with tragedy, and it is important to know that tragedy pervades the entire book.

However, despite the lingering aura of tragedy, there is a lot of life and laughter in the book as well, and I think in that regard, the art design aids the book. Even when the story is at its darkest, the way it's illustrated makes the trauma seem less serious than I think the author would have you believe. The simplistic art is both a strength and weakness of Chicacabra, because I can tell the author wants this book to have impact.

I'm explaining this out of order, but primarily, Chicacabra is about Isabella meeting the elusive and near-mythical creature called the Chupacabra, and like a werewolf, she becomes merged with it while doing something stupid. She finds it imprisoned in a hidden cave, and frees it, but at first, she doesn't realize it has possessed her body. The chupacabra saves Isabella from some would-be rapists on the way home, killing the men, and leaving her naked. This establishes the chupacabra as a seriously deadly entity - and unfortunately this mortal fact is diminished by the art style.

Eventually, Uncle Tony finds out the truth, by way of a local scientist who has studied the chupacabra for decades. The two men work with Isabella to control the beast within her, who seems to lash out protectively, or whenever Isabella's temper gets the better of her. Because her life is tragic, there are many opportunities for Isabella to lose her cool. For example, she's misunderstood at school, known as the bug girl. Because of her reputation, a misanthropic boy crushes here favorite beetle, which she was giving a science report on. She's a hot-tempered girl, and hauls off on the boy, forcing

Uncle Tony to stop everything at the restaurant and pick her up from the school. This moment in the story resonates through the other chapters, because the boy eventually wants to get a job at Tony's restaurant, but Tony won't hire him until he fixes his relationship with Isabella.

I dig the little truths. I think Beland uses the character of Uncle Tony to ground everyone else. When Tony, the rock in all their lives, loses it, you know Isabella's crossed the line by being too selfish. Selfishness is also another theme to this story, and it may not be P.C. to say this, but it extends to the author as well as the story being told. Beland is an excellent, but indulgent talent. He is clearly gifted at a design-oriented look, but he spends too much time hinting at concepts instead of actually fleshing them out. The mechabug, the Tarantino, the nanites, the Vejigante - so many cool ideas but they're ultimately just paintings on the wall of Isabella's house, because Beland places us squarely in her head 90% of the time.

The indulgences of the author is the main flaw I have with Chicacabra. Chapter 7 is a prime example ; I like the concepts, but the scenario between Isabella and the Tarantino is way too drawn out. As a reader, I don't dig being inside Isabella's head all the time. Her thoughts are basically about how she's passively 'dealing',  but she never actively changes anything. The cardinal rule of being a character is characters do things, and while Isabella floats at the center of everything happening in the story, she's the pretty centerpiece while the other characters do things to please her, to keep her calm so the chupacabra doesn't come out and slaughter everyone. As we listen in on Isabella's thoughts, we realize that she's so unhappy with her life, that she questions why God would allow their lives to continue this way. I read this, and I realize, being angry at God is an immature, teenage reaction, for a middle-aged man to be expressing.

Don't get me wrong. I think Chicacabra is a unique story, with an interesting setting and culture. It is well-designed and the story flows nicely. However, after reading it, I know I'm not meant to be the primary audience. This is a comic geared squarely at other girls who are 'dealing' with every hardship in their lives, perceived or not. What I regret is that Beland did not offer up a more positive solution, or teach girls how to be strong and respectful of their inner power. Instead, we end up with Isabella cohabiting in her body with what was once a gloriously noble prehistoric creature, and that creature becomes a mute teddy bear instead of a wise queen who can teach the next generation how to live with confidence and passion.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New Release Reviews for 19 June, 2014

Welcome back to another World Cup spectacular edition of New Release Reviews. My day-job team and I watched the "thrilling" Mexico/Brazil game. The quotes were because of the 0-0 ending. I know some people feel the same way about hockey but to heck with them. Go Kings Go! Half of the saves the Mexican goaltenders made were because the ball was kicked right at him. Feh. Enough about that. We've got ... twelve new releases this week. As always … titles are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the very best possible. We take the time to read these books so your time isn't wasted.

The Wicked + The Divine - Issue 1
Image Comics

Writer Kieron Gillen's new series The Wicked + The Divine is easily the most memorable of titles reviewed this week. It's certainly not my top pick this week but it comes close. I'll confess I'm a bit indifferent to his work in the past. I didn't like Three which Image has been publishing. And I really thought I would enjoy Phonogram more than I did given the subject and the truly amazing covers it had. The short of things is that it kind of feels like Phonogram even if it's not quite like that. I'll get back to that but first let's hear from The Girlfriend who will pop up three more times in this column:
I'm not sure what's going on yet but I want to read the next one. I love the mystery of it. Who are these teenagers/goddesses?  Well, actually, the goddesses is clear--they are based on various cultural gods...Japanese, Egyptian...brought into the modern day.  But are these teens really them incarnate?  Or is there something else going on?

I liked the storytelling.  It doesn't give you everything at once but just snippets of scenes and characters.  And the art was fun.  Colorful.  So, hopefully they can keep this going.
I think one of the things that people find appealing in Gillen's work is the attention to feelings or emotions. They is an emotional story. Not because the characters are female but because the drama comes from how they are instead of what they do. This is a dynamic group of characters even if we're not really sure what exactly is going on. It seems that there are human manifestations of gods running around that have a short shelf life and are constantly being rebooted. A lot of this delves into things like the cult of celebrity and what makes a god divine. There is spiritualism and art all kind of smashed together. It's kind of sexy in that way but other things keep it from rising too much. There's all kinds of mystery and this issue is mostly about presenting the riddles and introducing the players.

And all of it is good but there are answers being withheld because of the serialized nature of the story. The problem with stories like these is unless the characters end up being awesome, the reveals rarely meet expectations. Additionally, a quirk of Gillen's writing is an overwhelming sense of hipness that can get somewhat tedious. The celebrity/god aspects of the characters are fine small doses. Lucifer is definitely the most entertaining. There was strange violence and an unusual amount of menace in a court scene that had a predictable outcome. The human character is probably the protagonist but it's not clear and the time-line stuff was cool and unclear. The artwork excellent with fantastic faces, even though everyone is beautiful. Bright vivid coloring. The covers are so great I've included three of them including one from Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley

Score: 8.5 out of 10

Unity - Issue 8
Valiant Entertainment

The best thing about this series is how it suddenly shifted gears when aliens attacked the planet. Poor Mexico City. This really pushed the Silk story-line into the background which is good because I was finding it boring. However, things still aren't perfect. There is a lot of unneeded drama like jumping out of planes and everything revolving around Bloodshot being convinced to join. The alien battle was strange as it felt like the aliens were talking more than fighting. There was a helpful recap to start things. The art is decent even if perspective is off in parts. The cover was cool. And big!

Score: 6 out of 10

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 - Issue 4
Dark Horse Comics

It feels like this arc has been going on for a while. This whole Dracula and the book of magic thing. I think this is issue three in that story-line but it kind of feels like it's been dragging. I think this story could be over, even if the book of magic is still being dealt with. To make matters worse, Nicholas Brendon is still contributing to the story which makes sense given how Xander-centric it is. But what does The Girlfriend think?
Again, I saw the big reveal coming and wanted to get the Buffy gang to realize it quicker. But, on the whole, the story seemed stronger, more cohesive than the last issue. 

Spike had some funny lines in this one that made me smirk.  And there was a nice moment between the Summer sisters.  

I still enjoy this series.  It's fun and lively.  And the cliffhanger was great!
There is a lot of humor which benefits this series. Some of it is based upon the volume of history of the property and that can work against it. It's insular and that isn't conducive to gaining new fans. At least there is a recap but even this won't help new readers. There is a nice moment with Buffy and Dawn that is kind of sad. To say the issue, in general, was exposition heavy would be an understatement. I chalk this up to Xander writing his own story. The art is excellent and the cover is outstanding.

Score: 7 out of 10

Winterworld - Issue 1
IDW Publishing

This story starts to resemble The Road by Cormac McCarthy until the lead characters seem to enjoy themselves. Even if just for a moment. Everything else is doom and gloom. Things are awful and they get worse. Even if the leads are traveling with a badger! I found the sequence with the ship strange. No one else ever encountered it? And I would assume it's been stranded for decades yet it starts up? The leads have a strange relationship but I guess it's something. The art is excellent with a great look and solid coloring. The main cover is fantastic and the alternate covers are good.

Score: 8 out of 10

Alex + Ada - Issue 7
Image Comics

So two issues back, Alex did something bad but it was something that needed to happen in order to move things forward in this series. He flipped Ada's switch allowing her programmed full personality to emerge. Which is ... frowned upon. The potential seems to be upsetting people and this is creating a lot of tension. But is it leading to a story worth recommending to others? Let's see what The Girlfriend thinks:
Yep, still loving it.  This issue starts with an interesting play of what's better: the real world or the virtual world.  And, interestingly, Ada, an artificial intelligence, actually preferred the real world because where as no wind, no smells existed in the virtual one.   (Though the Boyfriend showed me an article where soon we will be texting smells.)

Also the sense if dread increased in this issue with the neighborhood prejudice escalating and the governmental announcement towards the end of the issue.  There won't be an easy way out, which there shouldn't be.  It is wrestling and struggling with the issues and ramifications of ones actions that make this story compelling. 
I found this to be a very interesting issue for a couple of reasons. One was a conversation Alex was having with his friend/co-worker that was surprisingly emotional. Also, The Girlfriend was right about the reaction from Alex's neighbors; neither were very nuanced. The parts with Alex's grandmother were hopeful given that someone human learned the truth and responded well to it. And the leads' "date" was sweet, even if one didn't like the VR aspects. The artwork is simple but it captures emotion in the characters' faces quite well. The coloring is simple yet attractive. The cover excellent with a wonderful design. Arty, almost. It pops.

Score: 9.5 out of 10

The Walking Dead - Issue 128
Image Comics

This was more of a transition issue than the last issue. A lot of conversation including the continuation of Carl and Negan's discussion and some strategy being deployed by a new group. As well as an interrogation. Perhaps the best thing was bread figuratively becoming bread (currency.) There was a bit of action but it was mostly boring. The art is as good as normal. The cover was kind of creepy.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth - Issue 120
Dark Horse

All sorts of things happened in this issue but it barely felt like anything. Some of that was because of what was happening and some was effortlessness that Mike Mignola displays in his writing. There is massive drama going on in the world with the apocalypse upon us. The heroes are given a quiet moment that suddenly turns not quiet. And drama from the past seems to be intruding on the present. What's truly interesting is that there are foundations being put down that suggest that Hellboy's return is approaching. We all know it's coming. We know it needs to happen. It just feels like he's been gone forever. The art is alright. Faces are kind of soft but the design is good. The colors are kind of flat. And the cover is solid, always reminding us of there being hell on earth and now 20 years of Hellboy.

Score: 8 out of 10

Sex Criminals - Issue 6
Image Comics

Typically, The Girlfriend and I are fairly in sync with our reviews but on occasion we're seeing things a bit differently. This issue of Sex Criminals is an example of that. I don't think we're hugely off of things but I'm getting an "alright" vibe from her where as I'm in more of a "disappointing" mood when it comes to this series. Let's start with her thoughts:

Overall, this issue was better than the last few issues for me. Still not my favorite series.  But towards the end it seems like a real purpose has evolved.

I liked that this story was told from Jon's perspective and that he actually grew in character and had a more defined role.  Amazing what happens when you take the penis out of first it seemed literally out of play.

At the beginning, I wasn't sure which direction the issue would take.  Was it going to explore the aftermath of a whirlwind romance?  Add another supernatural element?  Or what?  I did, in fact, enjoy the path the writer chose and would like to find out what will happen next.

There is an interesting pace to the story where it deals with a settling of the relationship between the leads. The initial excitement of the relationship has waned and now life is creeping in. I'm not sure Jon is growing, as it were. I think he just can't hide the thing he's been hanging on to. I suppose it;s healthy but that is the only thing. It feels like the pacing of the story matched his issues. This made it choppy for me and it didn't click. Nor did the threat really make much sense to me. And the big villain reveal at the end felt flat as there wasn't any build-up to it. The art is still nice and I love the coloring. I just don't always get writer Matt Fraction's work. He's very clever but sometimes it's just clever and nothing more and I feel that's what has happened here. 

Score: 6 out of 10

Sir Edward Grey Witchfinder - Issue 1 (of 5)
Dark Horse Comics

Though this is a Mike Mignola creation, Mignola wasn't involved with this issue. Which is good because he needs to stay focused on the Hellboy world. This series, still, is enjoyable up until a point. Up until a point in that it is dark and violent and almost humorless. So, essentially, it's just about a perfect replica of his work. The art is decent. The cover is kind of awesome. There is a very helpful recap at the start.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Star Trek Harlan Ellisons’s The City On The Edge Of Forever Teleplay - Issue 1 
IDW Publishing

Full disclosure, Harlan Ellison is my favorite writer of all time. I first read his work in the pages of Omni Magazine which was a science/science-fiction publication by the same guy who published Penthouse Magazine, Bob Guccione. It was this amazing story called Mephisto In Onyx and it hooked me and I searched far and wide for his works. It all pales in comparison to encountering the man in person for which I've had the pleasure of doing twice in my life. Smart and funny and acidic are all accurate desrciptions of the Tasmanian Devil in human form. One of his most memorable tales involved William Shatner getting into a motorcycle accident on Ellison's front-lawn when he was writing the screenplay for this Star Trek story. Potential SPOILER ALERT for this series, Bones originally was the character that falls in love with Edith Keeler but Shatner influences things to make him the one. It's still (probably) the greatest Star Trek story of all even with the change.

So, IDW is publishing a (I'm guessing) mini-series adaptation of Ellison's teleplay. I'm not sure if it's the original, ORIGINAL one. This is about Bones or Kirk. Because this story doesn't have Sulu being the cause of the all the chaos. It's some other crew-members and it involves this music-drug which is interesting but totally ignored in the show. The drug subplot is actually very appropriate but I can see why network censors at the time might have had problems. This is a heady adaptation and it will probably play better when finished and collected. For those of you who aren't familiar with the original, prepare to have your mind blown. I just wish the art was different. It's good but a terrible choice for sequential storytelling. The cover is brilliant in it's faded-paperback design.

Score: 9 out of 10

The Empty Man - Issue 1
Boom! Studios

This new series seems to have dropped us in the middle of a story about some mysterious infectious virus that is randomly screwing people up. It's big and scary and somewhat vague. Religion dominates much of this issue, as does some government investigation. The investigation is the most interesting part even if the characters are kind of odd. The art is kind of a negative as it impacts the reader's ability to comprehend what's occurring. Interesting to look at but not the best for sequential storytelling. The cover is fairly disturbing with the red triangles. There might be some upside, here. 

Score: 5.5 out of 10

Thomas Aslop - Issue 1 (of 8)
Boom! Studios

This new mini-series from caught my attention some weeks back. The title was kind of odd. Alsop doesn't really roll off the tongue but the cover had a great look to it. I found that image to be rather appealing. The characters as quasi mirror-images but the color is what really connected. It's monochromatic and it works for some reason. The color choices are subtle and rather uncommon in comics. This should pop off shelves. My only complaint is the title treatment. I wish it would have been designed to read upside-down as well. The structure of the issue makes me think that there is going to be a lot of flash-back. So how is the inside of this issue?

Pretty solid. The story is sort of a split between a mystical defender of Manhattan/reality super-star and his ancestor who was the first European-born mystical defender of Manhattan. Thomas, the modern lead, is the narrator of the current story and sort of the narrator of the historical story. Honestly, the book is more enjoyable in the past as Thomas is kind of a tool. He's very blase about the things going on and seems to revel in his role. Honestly, he's rather annoying and it's hard to grasp what purpose he serves. Now, his ancestor is pretty cool. No nonsense and efficient. Plus good manners. The present day stuff seems like a mash-up of Hellblazer and Transmetropolitan but maybe with not as much skill. Still, the insides look as good as the cover (but not the alt cover.) 

Score: 8 out of 10

OK, so yeah! Or, as the football announcers would says ... GOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL! This was a pretty great week. In the must haves section you had Alex + Ada, Harlan's Ellison's Star Trek book, and The Wicked + The Divine. Everything is "pluses" here this week. Nothing is a flat out stinker so truly great news. Stop on back, next week, for more New Release Reviews!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

New Release Reviews for 12 June, 2014

Welcome back to another edition of New Release Reviews. It's the start of the World Cup and I'm all excited. My day job is with a company that distributes films into Latin America so football is a fairly big deal. I think we're sneaking out early to watch the opening ceremony and Brazil's first game. Of course, I'm an American so I'm rooting for the good ole U.S. of A. Either way, assuming there is no violence outside the games, it should be fun. For the column, we've got ten new releases (sorry, nothing from Dark Horse. Probably next week) including two comments from The Girlfriend. As always … titles are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the very best possible. We take the time to read these books so your time isn't wasted.

Chicacabra - Original Graphic Novel
IDW Publishing

This was a bit of an anomaly this week. Usually we focus on single issues where as this is, sort of, a collected edition but of issues I don't think were originally released monthly. I might be wrong on that but that is the vibe I get. I think Derek may do a separate review for this as he's moving more toward collections. We, also, get some feedback from The Girlfriend:
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this graphic novel.  It had a lot of heartfelt moments; one even brought me to tears.  But...I felt that certain story lines were dropped such as the moment between the Scientist and the Mom.  (I expected something to happen there.)  Other stories were missed being explored such as the chupacabra's tale for her perspective.

And the thing that most upset me was that none of the female characters wanted to further educate themselves. They saw no need.  Maybe college wasn't for any of them but it didn't seem they had any other ambitions, motivations, or an internal drive.  Literally, the protagonist had to merge with a mythological creature to get some umph.  Quite different from LumberJanes--how those scouts thirst for knowledge and adventures (with less profanity).

I think I agree, structurally, with The Girlfriend. This book felt like something that was meant to be read over a period of time instead of bunched up like it was. Some things in the story happened so quickly like people's reaction to the situation. Other things felt unresolved, including the above mentioned Scientist and his scanning of the mother. You get the feeling that it was a direction the creative team were planning on going in but changed direction. I suppose there is something to be said for the malleable nature of a story. The creator, Tom Beland, wasn't afraid to make choices which is an indication of skill and confidence

Tone was something else that shifted. The Girlfriend and I both felt like the second ... chapter? Issue? The tone of it was way different than the first. It got really violent, and it was sudden. And the story never quite got back to that, which made it all the more startling. Still, there was a fair amount of trauma being dealt with by Isabel, the lead character. Growing up. School. Family. Friends. It's rough and Isabel might have it worse. But she's trying to grow and evolve. She's trying to take responsibility for her actions. It's a positive character, in the long run. No matter how much she curses and it's a lot. Probably not for younger readers but teens will probably like it. There are a number of themes being explored including war, commercialism, and conservationism. The art is solid in a more cartoonish way, and something aspects are a tad too abstract. The cover is enjoyable.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Manifest Destiny - Issue 7
Image Comics

This is a hard comic for me. It's very well written and the artwork is fantastic. It's just the characters are repugnant. Even the leads are not very nice. William Clark is a bad-ass and isn't sympathetic in the slightest. So far, he's fairly one-dimensional. Merriweather Lewis is the heart of the story and his motives are suspect. He, at least, seems to have some humanity in him but it's overwhelmed by his scientific curiosity. Everything else is just mayhem. This is more of a horror story than an adventure. I think had we known these things were out there, America wouldn't be as big as it is. As mentioned, the artwork is excellent and the cover is perfect.

Score: 8.5 out of 10

Transformers Robots In Disguise - Issue 30
IDW Publishing

This is my least favorite in the current crop of Transformers comics. This Earth story-line is boring me to tears. The Galvatron stuff is the most interesting part and even that is not that engaging. I did like the part about Prowl and what happens when he joins Devastator. The art is OK. The cover is solid and the alternate covers are quite enjoyable.

Score: 5 out of 10

The Woods - Issue 2
Boom! Studios

Sometimes in horror stories, things don't always make sense. Sure, there is the normal things that we all throw our hands up about. Don't go by yourself. Don't answer the phone. Don't say "I'll be right back." Those tropes just are part of the process. In the case of The Woods, it's expected behaviors being thrown on their ears that don't quite make sense. Ignore the school being picked up and moved to a dangerous new planet. Instead, focus on the faculty and how the leaders of this school are borderline incompetent. One of them appears to be psychotic. And then on the flip side the students seem to be the people that have their poop together, if you will. Though, the bunch that have gone off on some sort of quest may be deserving of some questions. I guess, at the end, the target of this series is a younger reader and they have to make something for the teens to connect with.

The issue opens with the faculty recapping events of issue one. I found this to be an extremely clever and positive decision by the creators. I often complain about dense narratives that are not friendly to new readers, and why don't publishers use them all the time. I just don't think this trick will work again. There are threats in this issue that aren't quite as lethal as the monster in issue one but they're still scary including the big mosquito thing. The creepy gym teacher seems to be the biggest threat, though. He's a weirdo. The interior art is fine. It's clean and clear and the coloring is nice. The cover is pretty cool. Though, it's kind of disturbing as well.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Dream Police - Issue 2
Image Comics

No Cheap Trick reference, here. This is the new issue if J. Michael Straczynski's latest series, from Image. In my opinion, this is the best of the current crop of titles he's been publishing. I think part of it has to do with the artwork. The other series (minus Ten Grand) have rather uninspired art and it pulls the story down. The art in Dream Police is solid. Maybe not spectacular but it doesn't detract from the story. The other recent series are fairly derivative of other stories. I suppose you could see a number of similarities with Dream Police and Sandman but I consider that a plus. It's very much a hard-boiled story but the characters have personality and the reader is slowly starting to care about them. It's dialogue heavy but there are lots of dramatic parts including a rather sad sequence with a Supervisor. There's an excellent recap to star things off. And the cover is big.

Score: 8 out of 10

Lumberjanes - Issue 3
Boom! Studios

It's a double-shot of feedback from The Girlfriend this week. You may see a theme in the titles she covered. On the surface there are a lot of similarities but when you dig down, they're quite different. Let's start with her thoughts on the issue:
The story continues to move fast.  An easy, enjoyable read.

I still love how each scout brings something different to the table and it's teamwork that gets them out of trouble (or, at least, to the other side of trouble).

I do wish they have a character recap at the beginning because other than Ripley, I keep on forgetting names.  Other than that, no complaints here!

I found this issue (like the prior two) to be charming. The characters are spirited and positive which seems to be a rarity in modern comics. I, also, enjoyed how they kind paid homage to Indiana Jones. Overall things are exciting but there is plenty of humor to counter-balance. The cover is enjoyable and manages to quietly convey emotion. The interior art is similar. One quibble is that April's elbow came off the table during her arm-wrestling. It was versus a giant statue so it's a tiny quibble. 

Just in case you're wondering, here are the five members of this Lumberjane troop:

April - Red head with the pythons.
Jo - Tall and thin, dark hair over face.
Molly - Blonde hair and coonskin cap.
Mal - Shaved side of head; I think she may be Jo's sister.
Ripley - The hellion of the bunch; think Wolverine but tougher.

Score: 8 out of 10

Angry Birds Comics - Issue 1
IDW Publishing

I have to assume that my reaction upon seeing this title was the same as everyone else. Who the hell thought people were clamoring for an Angry Birds comic book? Do people even still play it? I'm thinking maybe two years ago there might have been interest but ... sheesh. The best I can think of it that this book is so silly and cute that parents shopping at a comic store might think a young child would be interested. Maybe they're right but I don't see it. The art is fine. The story fun and straight-forward. The covers may have been the best parts including the KISS version and the IDW Universe one.

Score: 3 out of 10

That’s Because You’re A Robot - One-Shot
Image Comics

This one-shot is sort of strange and funny. But mostly strange. There is a low-fi quality here that feels very much like Image's Bulletproof Coffin. Bright and simple and weird. There is a fair amount of 80s cop movie undertones but it doesn't seem to go anywhere. I wonder what the motivation was by the creative team to tell this story? The art is OK; maybe too many double-page spreads. Cover tells you exactly what you're about to get.

Score: 5 out of 10

Armor Hunters  - Issue 1
Valiant Entertainment

It feels only like a little while ago that there was some big cross-over at Valiant. I think the last big one was Harbinger Wars but that was ages ago (a little more than a year.) So Valiant has this new one going called the  Armor Hunters, for which this is the main title in the cross-over. It will effect X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Bloodshot (and maybe the H.A.R.D. Corps) and Unity. This seems to be the rare instance of this being a good thing. Normally I'm against crossovers but given the scope of this story, it should impact everyone. The threat is cosmic in size and everyone is in danger. Essentially, there are these aliens tracking down all the X-O armor throughout the universe and Earth is the last stop. They seem to think the armor is bad for everyone and aren't afraid to wipe a planet out.

The build-up to this story-line has been gradual in a way. It's been happening in X-O Manowar and I think we all wondered what was going on with the armor. They certainly aren't Green Lantern rings. The aliens are clearly a major threat to Earth so the stakes are pretty high. And it's nice that the antagonists aren't quite evil. They're motives seem noble, but their methods are pretty crappy. Unfortunately, there is no real hero in the story. I guess Aric is the closest but even he's not very sympathetic. All the sympathy is with Mexico City but that's not a character. The covers are excellent. The interior art is excellent. The coloring is great.

Score: 8 out of 10

Real Heroes - Issue 3
Image Comics

It's unlikely that writer/artist Bryan Hitch made changes to this issue based upon my last two reviews which were kind of negative. I mean who am I tell him anything about his drawing which is great. It was the writing that was weak. Well, he sure (didn't) listen to me and corrected some things that made this a better issue. It's still not as good as many of the titles reviewed this week. But it got better. Whether it continues to improve remains to be seen. A lot happens in a little time as the actor are realizing their suits are special and the villain doesn't seem to be the villain. The characters still aren't endearing. The art is great, though. Coloring in particular is quite good. Great cover.

Score: 6 out of 10

Four titles this week with covers displayed and only one was from IDW. The rest were Boom! and Valiant. Interesting week, indeed. So, overall, this was a solid week. No true home-runs to speak of. Manifest Destiny would be an in-the-park home-run. And Angry Birds is the weak link but it's no dog, either. Stop on back next week for more New Release Reviews.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Psi-Judge Anderson gets her own story!

Now this is something I'm excited about. She's always been my favorite character in that universe. Dredd is entertaining in small doses but she's cool.

Plus Brian Bolland is doing the art! WIN!

 Judge Anderson Takes Center Stage In New Series!
Get Inside The Mind Of ‘Psi-Division’
San Diego, CA (June 11, 2014) – This August, IDW Publishing will add a brand-new series to its growing line of critically-acclaimed Judge Dredd titles—Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi-Division, spotlighting the eponymous judge and her early days with the unique branch of the law.
Created by legendary writer John Wagner and artist extraordinaire Brian Bolland, the telepathic and precognitive Judge Cassandra Anderson is well-known to Dredd fans, and her popularity has demanded she get her own series. With events taking place prior to IDW’s ongoing Judge Dredd series, “King of the Six Sectors” kicks off with Judge Anderson having a haunting vision of an attack on the Megapolitan Museum. Shaken to the core, she sets out to prevent the unthinkable.

“Following up his exploration of Judge Dredd’s early career in Year OneMatt Smith turns his keen eye toward defining Judge Anderson for a new generation of readers,” says series editor Denton J. Tipton. “From the halls of the Justice Department, to the galleries of the Megapolitan Museum and swamplands outside Texas City, Anderson will face a trial by fire, forging her into the authoritative Judge we know today.”

2000 AD editor Matt Smith brings his extensive knowledge of the character and lore to the new series as writer. The distinct and eye-catching artwork of Carl Critchlow will be on full display as he handles all of the interior art duties for the series. Matt Haley will provide covers for the series, with issue #1 featuring variant covers by Chris Weston and Mimi Yoon.

'Psi-Judge Cassandra Anderson is one the great, iconic characters from 2000 AD – an irreverent foil to Dredd, her wit and warmth made her an instant favourite with the fans the moment she was first introduced way back in 1980, and she's been a mainstay of the comic ever since,' says Smith. 'Her position as one of the signature figures in Dredd's world was cemented by her appearance in the 2012 DREDD movie. So I had a lot of fun writing a new case for her for IDW – and Carl has done a phenomenal job, capturing both Cass and the Big Meg beautifully.'

Exploring a whole new corner of Mega-City One, Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi-Division is the next essential adventure for Dredd-heads! Judge Anderson also can be found regularly alongside Dredd in the ongoing IDW title Judge Dredd.

I think the cover is pretty cool ...

It's got a good look. Feels like Manhattan Projects and East Of West.

The writing will be the variable. I like Moreci's ideas but his execution always seems a bit off. Also, I've not cared for the artists on his other projects so that might be affecting it.

An all-new ongoing hardboiled crime mystery set in a science-fiction world
Michael Moreci (HACK/SLASH: SON OF SAMHAIN, HOAX HUNTERS) teams up with Vic Malhotra (X-Files: Year ZeroThumbprint) to bring readers an all-new science-fiction crime mystery series. Blending 2001: A Space Odyssey with Blade Runner, ROCHE LIMIT is slated for release in September by Image Comics.

Billionaire Langford Skaargard’s dream of cosmic exploration is no more and Roche Limit, a colony situated on the cusp of a mysterious energy anomaly, has become a melting pot of crime and terrible secrets. When Bekkah Hudson goes missing, the search to find her will plunge her sister and a cadre of the colony’s underworld figures into an odyssey that reveals a grim future for mankind.

"This is a book I feel like I was meant to write,” said Moreci. “If you like great sci-fi, and if you love a good mystery, you cannot miss Roche Limit."

A mix of hardboiled noir crime and hard science fiction, ROCHE LIMIT is the beginning of a gritty and bold new science fiction noir series that has something for every reader. The first issue of ROCHE LIMIT arrives in stores this September and will be available for $3.50. It can be pre-ordered using  Diamond Code JUL140435. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Boom Studios - Clive Barker's The Next Testament Volume One

Clive Barker's Next Testament - Volume One

Clive Barker seems to have a formula when plotting his longer efforts. For starters, he has a preoccupation with godlike beings who shine. I'm not entirely sure what symbolic meaning 'shiny" has to Barker. Shiny is what I associate with of the interior jacket lining in Weaveworld, the parallel worlds of The Great and Secret Show, Mamoulian from The Damnation Game, glorious Abarat, Baphomet from under Midian in Nightbreed. There is something seductive about all of Barker's pantheon of dark gods. And, in fact, Victor LaValle does a good job of describing further sinister
threads in the introduction to Volume One. You should read this to set the mood before diving into the graphic novel.

In the Next Testament, another piece of Barker's formula features an obscenely rich white dude, bored with what the world offers. Having achieved financial success beyond anyone's dreams, Julian Demond goes in search of a forgotten obelisk in the desert, the tomb of Wick, the inspiration for Old Testament God. Wick is the epitome of a truculent God. He's shiny, of course, covered in psychedelica and names himself the Father of Colors.

It is revealed that Wick guided us poor little apes during early pre-Christian history thru some wicked parties, Sodom and Gomorrah a prime example. Until Wick's brethren revolted against him and banished him to a colorless realm. Hell for a God, it seems, is infinitely more precisely attuned to It's nature.

Do not forget that every character must bear some kind of torment. Julian Demond's torment, or perhaps sadomasochistic reward for freeing Wick, is to be utterly in love with Wick's beauty but never to have the love returned, for Julian is an insect in Wick's view. Compare this to all the fools who have summoned Cenobites and taken ultimate pleasure in their own self-immolation. The drug destroys from within, returning the user to a blank slate.

Another facet of Barker's works are the heroes who rise up to oppose these Gods. Many times, our heroes turn out to be family members, who are also betraying their blood and heritage. The Next Testament is no different. Our hero is Tristam Demond, Julian's estranged son who apparently has had some kind of psychic vision that his father is in trouble or has unleashed something unholy into the world. This vision is so powerful that he halts his entire life and becomes obsessed with figuring out what his father was working on. He drags along his girlfriend, Elspeth, to his father's sanctum which is a library of esoteric religious lore. If I know anything about Barker, I expect Elspeth to experience her own temptations and betrayals in later volumes, because none of Barker's heroes remain unmolested.

I have no desire to spoil the events of this story. Suffice to say beyond the theatrical introductions of all characters, much of Volume One concerns Wick's introduction to the 21st Century. He is still attracted to dens of sin, thus he visits a feast of other obscenely wealthy white people  as well as Hollywood. What I find very interesting about the book is the artist chosen, Haemi Jang, who renders this book with a keen manga edge.

Clive Barker does Manga! - very weird juxtaposition, people. But perhaps not too surprising either. The Japanese have dominated modern horror films for the past decade, a time when Barker's fiction has been relatively sparse. If I understand his timeline correctly, based off a behind-the-scenes feature on The Midnight Meat Train DVD, Clive Barker has spent recent years painting hundreds of huge illustrations instead of writing prodigous output like Stephen King. It seems like Barker's eager to come back to prominence, and if that's the case, I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.  I recommend this if you're a fan of his work, but if you're more comfortable with capes, stay away and let the dark children play.