THE GODDAMNED / ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS / ILLUMINATI / LAST SONS of AMERICA [Reviews]: Hell Hath No Fury.
Every now and again a publisher will announce a series that falls so far into a creator’s wheelhouse that the level of anticipation for that series rises to heights that are difficult to live up to. Saga and Sex Criminals, both published by Image, are the two most recent examples that come to mind.
The Goddamned #1, also published by Image and written by the Scalped team of writer Jason Aaron (Thor: God of Thunder) and artists R.M. Guera (Scalped) and Giulia Brusco, didn’t quite hit that level of anticipation for as many people as the prior books — but it did for many and it certainly did for me. While, to my great shame, I’ve never read an issue of Scalped (Do that NOW – Editor Moody), I’m a huge fan of Aaron’s Marvel work and Southern Bastards, so the idea of Aaron writing “biblical noir” was immensely exciting.
Unlike the previously mentioned, highly anticipated books, however, The Goddamned does fall short of those expectations. The problem isn’t really the issue itself, as it’s an enjoyable read full of brutal, intense action in classic Aaron fashion. Guera’s artwork is the perfect match for that as the fight scenes feel so full of energy. The main fight in the book, in particular, is a highly impressive, dialogue-less fight that spans a quarter of the issue. This moment feels like masterful visual storytelling. The real issue with this, ahem, issue lies in the decision to tell a story about a character whose stories have already been told countless times, especially considering the deep well of biblical stories that the creators had to pull from.
The Goddamned doesn’t really do much to separate itself from other stories of this character, ultimately making this feel like just a well-crafted version of a story we’ve already seen countless times before. The hook at the end seems to imply the story will head in a fresh direction going forward, and I’m certainly interested enough to continue reading this series, but that wasn’t enough to quell the feeling of disappointment. 3.5/5 First Blades.
Fistful of Comics II (Update: 11/18) – The Goddamned #1, All-New, All-Different Avengers #1, Illuminati #1, Last Sons of America #1
Sunday Stash (Update: 11/16) – All-New Wolverine #1, Slash & Burn #1
Fistful of Comics (Update: 11/12) – Drax #1, Superman: American Alien #1, Citizen Jack #1, All-New Hawkeye #1, Monstress #1
This first issue cuts right to the chase, offering absolutely no frills, and establishing the primary threat (the Chitauri plotting yet another full invasion), and at least three of the new Avengers. The repartee between Captain America and Tony Stark was a light, fun opener, and Spider-Man showing up — and teaming up at the end — was fun. But the art by Adam Kubert (Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows) and Mahmud Asrar (Uncanny X-Men #600) is workmanlike, not too much to expound upon, and the script by Mark Waid (Daredevil) is too lean and expository to be too memorable.
More memorable is the B story at the back half of the issue, with Ms. Marvel and Nova teaming up and sizing each other up. Waid’s writing is lean and full of great character moments, and it was fun watching these two characters bounce off one another, and it’ll be great seeing them in later issues. Of the two, Waid’s second story is much more memorable and fun, and worth the purchase on its own. 3.75/5 Rampaging Microverse Monsters.
This review for Illuminati #1 will yield an overabundance of suck in its relative brevity, as this relatively disingenuous branding of an All-New, All-Different Marvel, is largely perceived by Yours Truly, to be yet another weak-assed attempt by StanLeeCo to rebrand what they’ve rebranded numerous times already… How many times do you wrap the same, sludge-filled pair of Huggies around your own baby? Until your little one is deeply stained a babyshit green of Hulkian proportion, down to his precious little marrow? Reboot Deez Nutz, Bitchez!!! Fucking Marful Com-Icks. I’d rather they drop a hot new title about a pair of Hairy Siamese Testicle Superheroes, who fight grime with their distended rectal sidekick named, Prolapsis..
Seeing that this fistful of compressed wood pulp is pretty much an ass-wiper, allow me to wedge it up between my tar-slathered reek-a-cheeks for you! I’ve heard better stories told around a Cub Scout campfire than the weak drivel Joshua Williamson (Captain Midnight, Nailbiter) tries to kindle into a flame here. Although Shawn Crystal’s (Deadpool, Fantomex MAX) linear stylings are a welcomed reprieve from the stereotypical cookie-cut characters we see from Marvel artists, his so-called supervillains look too Sunday comic strip to pack any real punch. John Rauch (Invincible, Batman: Arkham Knight) diaphragms a dookie-filled palette that relies too heavily on pastel-tinged hues and Photoshop gradient-induced environments, and it fails to really rage the retina. Joe Caramagna (Amazing Spiderman, Uncanny X-Men) scrawls his letters clean and legible, yet he does so in seemingly the same Marvel font we’ve seen for decades now.
Marvel should have printed IlLAMEinati #1 on a roll of perforated squares, and included a Full Money Back Refund Coupon as a centerfold. Uninspiring. Clichéd. Predictable. Boring. You’re going to give a title to a group of so-called supervillains, whose “leader” claims they’ll conquer the globe, when most of them largely have a history of having their asses handed to them over and over??? Fucking weak! The only thing I found interesting, was that The Hood looked like Charles Schultz had drawn Bruce Campbell dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, and one of his henchman was a Peter Dinklage doppelgänger. Buy this one, if you need to line the cat’s turd box. 2.5/5 Illuminothing Worth Reading.
Holy fuck, this is grim. Last Sons of America #1 is the darkest and most sombre fiction I’ve read all year. Set in some Children of Men-like dystopian future where no new births have occurred in the continental United States, we meet the brother Jack and Julian Carver, working as “adoption agents” in Nicaragua. Most of the time their job is above board, with parents willingly signing over their children to have new lives in the USA; but with quotas to meet, abducting children is on the cards for our pair, and when the wrong child gets nabbed…. see, that ominous dot-dot-dot is there to imbue the review with tension and suspense commensurate with that found in this book, but without giving away any more of the plot. I think it turned out pretty well.
And so has this latest book from BOOM! Studios. Last Sons is a mature and gritty tale, driven by tense, terse dialogue and roughly-hewn scenes of foreboding gloom. Written by a man perhaps best known for his webcomic MUSICOMIC.COM, Phillip Kennedy Johnson here demonstrates a fine talent for story; ably and inkily assisted by the artwork of Matthew Dow Smith (Day of Judgment), filling every panel with noirish visuals to match the grim, grim storyline. BOOM! Present yet another tale that wouldn’t be out of place in Vertigo or Image’s oeuvre, and this stark narrative would make neat addition to anyone’s post-apocalyptic or dystopian-future book collections. 3.75/5 Sacrificial Lambs.
You ever notice how right around Valentine’s Day or the start of Spring, every light-hearted movie that comes out is called “The feel-good move of the year”?
Well, that’s how I feel about All-New Wolverine #1.
It’s not a light hearted comic — Wolverine gets shot in the head in the first few pages. However, Tom (Injustice: Gods Among Us) Taylor‘s cinematic feel of the story and the slight behavioral contrast to the original Wolverine, left me feeling cheerful and oddly motivated. It’s set in Paris, a city known for romance (and, now unfortunately, something else). The dialog between Angel and Wolverine make them seem to be the kind of couple that are also best friends. This new Wolverine is also more empathetic than the original wolverine and is praised for it. Essentially, the new Wolverine is like when your little sister steals your army toys and paints hearts all over them, and then replaces a few guns with flowers. ANW is everything you’ve grown to love about the original Wolverine, just in a different package, with a few of the roughest edges smoothed out. Because women have curves, not edges.
Even the artwork feels smoother. David (Captain Marvel) Lopez‘ sketches reminds me of a high-tech, gritty version of the style used in X-Men: Evolution cartoon. But I’m no artologist, so don’t quote me on that. With a gentler feel to it than what I’m used to, I can’t pretend it’s still not awesome; the story kept me engaged and flowed very well. The changes made to accomodate the female character seem natural for the most part, and where they do get cliche’, it’s not enough to ruin the vibe. 3.5/5 Bibles.
Rosheen Hayes is a firefighter in North Dakota. Sounds like a boring comic book alread. But as things always go, there is a little more to her than that: she’s also a pyromaniac.
Umm. OK! I see such a large supply of “peanut butter & jelly” possibilities already with this character. While not revealed as to why Rosheen would want to become the one thing that fights against her inner demons, it is such a love of being around fire that, perhaps, made Miss Hayes to choose such career (Although, I would think that watching her routinely putting out those sweet flames everyday.. would actually bring a lot of misery to her inner firebug). There is a brief flashback to an orphanage where Rosheen apparently grew up. She’s introduced to a group of four other kids around her age and shows them her cherished Zippo which is her only personal possession. Oh, I smell some good origin story cooking up! Is that too intentional of a pun?
Slash & Burn #1 has a very cinematic feel to it. I don’t know if it’s just because that’s how my brain works (or fails me), but writer Si Spencer (Bodies) sets a great tone with this story. His colorful dialog has a really nice natural feel to it that gives these people a good dose of spice, humor, and sarcasm. The art by Max Dunbar (The Mocking Dead) and Ande Parks (Green Arrow) is just as much of reason to envision this book as a TV series. Their drawings have a great depiction of the shape and build that make the characters very lifelike all the while the expressions they paint on their faces are equal parts cartoony and humane. I’m feelin’ the heat already. 4.25/5 Bibles.
FISTFUL OF COMICS
Every now and again we can be surprised. The Cubs nearly make it to the World Series, the Raiders win games they should actually win, Microsoft comes out with good platform exclusives for the XBone– wait, that still hasn’t happened (PS4 for Life!), and a former wrestler/MMA Fighter (see the XBone burn also)/comic writer pens a pretty decent story.
The author of Drax #1, of course, is CM Punk (Thor Annual), sharing the duties with Big 2 stalwart Cullen Bunn (Sinestro, Magneto, hell…everything). Love Punk or hate Punk, I feel like the guy is talented enough to do this sort of thing for a living if he writes to the characters themselves, and not to some weird notion he has of them.
His take on Drax is good, a little more on the verbose side of things; but in this case it works. Unless the tone of the comic is super dark and serious, we can’t have the dark and brooding Drax that is a destroyer of worlds. Punk takes a more light-hearted turn, and while Drax is no less fearsome, the former WWE Champ tries to bring out some of the awkward humor that his good buddy Dave Bautista brought to life in the Guardians of the Galaxy film. The long and short without going into too many details, the Guardians all go their separate ways for various reasons, and no one wants to kick it with Drax, and as Drax would, he decides he’s going to go kill shit. Shit named Thanos, cuz, why not right? It’s a good start to what could end up being a worthy series. 4.25/5 Bibles.
Something interesting happens when a writer you really like tackles a property that you are less than fond of. They make you like it. Such is the case with myself and Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra scripts), who wrote Superman: American Alien for DC Comics. And quite frankly, I don’t see any reason why anyone who loves comics shouldn’t read this book.
In short, Landis is doing a seven issue mini series tackling seven different points in Clark Kent’s development on his way to becoming Superman. This is not a Superman story though. This is very much a story about Clark Kent, which is what makes it well worth the read. This first issue tackles the seemingly simple milestone of Clark learning how to fly, and it is excellent. Landis manages to hit the emotional core of everything in this first issue and as a lifelong fan, he clearly didn’t squander his opportunity to tackle DC’s golden boy.
Nick Dragotta (East of West) handled the art for this issue and absolutely nailed the spirit of it. This book’s biggest issue is that it has to handle the weight of the legacy of Superman, because if this book weren’t being weighed against more than 75 years of material and got to stand on its own, it would easily be one of the most compelling and touching new books to come out in a long time. Read this. 5/5 Bibles.
You think we have some far-out candidates running for president right now? You haven’t met Jack Noseworthy, the rather unloveable protagonist from writer Sam Humphries (The Legendary Star-Lord) and artist Tommy Patterson (A Game of Thrones). A liquor swilling, obscenity spewing former hockey player and current snowplow salesman, Jack is haunted by two things: his unsuccessful run as mayor of his town in Minnesota, and the red eyed demon that talks to him. The former makes him somewhat of a laughingstock — the latter may have something to do with Jack’s new desire to run for president of the United States.
Citizen Jack has, at its center, a ridiculously unlovable character, and the reader will have to decide if his/her interest in the story is greater than their dislike of Jack. The art is different. The scattered remains of Jack’s character when we meet him are reflected in the loose and wavy lines that Patterson uses to draw him. It’s a sharp departure from the strong bold lines used in traditional comics, and it has visual appeal. Overall, for this reader, I’ll be following Jack’s campaign the same way I follow the current US election news…with a shake of the head. 3/5 ‘Merican Flags.
We have an all-new Hawkeye(s) series and it’s moving in a more recognized direction. Jeff Lemire (Bloodshot: Reborn) has tried to make this series his own but it still seems it he trying to find his own voice while still in the shadow of Matt Fraction’s astonishing run. His last Hawkeye series seemed like it was trying to be different by going into Hawkeye’s past while having it correlate to the events in Clint Barton’s present; and, as much as I wanted to like it, it just continued to never really be one of those books that made me excited for comic book day.
This go-round he’s throwing Barton and Katie Bishop 15-years into the future — which looks about the same time as Old Man Logan and Iron Man #500 took place in — and “Team Hawkeye” seems to have broken up and Katie Bishop has run with the title. (SPOILER ALERT: It seems that Sue Storm will survive after the Secret War). Ramón (Wolverines) Pérez’s artwork is split 50/50 for me–half with his present timeline and the other half with the future storyline. His artwork on present “Team Hawkeye” looks like he is trying to hard to imitate David Aja and, in your Cardinal’s humble opinion, he needs to develop his own style for the series. Aja had an amazing style all his own. That being said, it feels like his style works better with the future “Team Hawkeye.” I’m very curious to see how this book plays out and I think that Lemire and Pérez can rebound. The book is worth picking up, but it might be better suited as a TPB. 3.75/5 Arrows.
Right off the jump, this comic has does visuals right. Artist Sana Takeda (X-23, Soulfire: Shadow Magic) shows vast range of style and influence. I totally saw a Castlevania, Icco (PS2), Shadows of Colossus (PS2), Game of Thrones and Final Fantasy art motif going on–and it was spot-on amazing. We’re talking a visual presence so good, I didn’t even need storyline. Flowing in tow with the art is Rus Wooton‘s lettering, tying everything all together with an elegant touch of Bioshock (Xbox 360) meets The Adventures of Batman & Robin crispness. Best-selling author Marjorie Liu (Astonishing X-Men, Dark Wolverine) slaps that all together with Greek god/viking folklore, witchcraft and a religious play on a Supernatural level; gear up for monstrous battles thick in a beautiful demonic world. If nothing else, dig out the biblical library, and set the DVR — we’re going heading to the finest, modern day Salem witch trial. 5/5 Pentagrams.