THE WALKING DEAD / STRAYER / GHOSTBUSTERS / CRY HAVOC [Reviews]: Monster Mash.
This is it: the 150th issue of The Walking Dead has finally arrived (or at least did two weeks ago!), The little zombie train that could.. has.
Indeed, if you are going into this expecting shockers like a season finale cliffhanger — or a repeat of Issue #100 — you will be either disappointed or elated that no one died. YAY! But we can proudly say that there was a loss…. a virgin loss at that!! Besides the bedroom activities of a one-eyed certain someone, we were graced with more political Machiavellian moves by Rick on dealing with the Whisperers backlash, that even makes Negan proud.
The art (by series mainstays Stefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn) is exceptional as always, and really is masterfully paced thanks to a team (led by creator/writer Robert Kirkman) that has been working together for 150-months. That’s a milestone in itself. 4.5/5 Bibles.
The Sunday Stash (1/31): The Walking Dead #150, Strayer #1, Ghostbusters: International #1, Cry Havoc #1, Bloodshot: Reborn #10.
Fistful of Comics (1/29): Faith #1, American Monster #1.
The Saturday Night Stash (1/23): Silver Surfer #1, Secret Wars #9, Poison Ivy: The Cycle of Life & Death #1, Devolution #1.
In a world of folklore and alchemy, we get treated to a tale when time is at a rebirth. The odometer is reset as civilization starts on a new slate.
Writer Justin Jordan (The Strange Talent of Luther Strode) concocts a story when life is fragile, mythology is at the whims of humanity, and titans of magic walk the plains. The rugged art style of Juan Gedeon (Ghost Racers, Tomb Raider) captures the time period and story with a chaotic crispness that blends well with the coloring from colorist Tamra Bonvillain.
As you read on in clear focus (thanks to letterer Rachel Deering), you see Strayer much like a mercenary for hire: helps out people for profit, as well as to give himself something to do. Saving people is his idea of a fun night out. He’s a classic act type that borrows a clashing style of a cooler, more rebellious Harry Potter-inspired world that meets the villainous bounty hunter Lobo. Wands up and crack open the spell book: magic just got interesting AGAIN. 3/5 Bibles.
It’s amazing that so many years after the movies have been released, that this franchise still lives on in comics and cartoons. Goes to show you that if you get some likable enough characters, people will keep wanting more.
Continuing after the events of Ghostbusters Annual 2015, the guys are still out busting some ghosts at the United Nations, of all places. I’m sure they’ve had to go back there more than once! But as with any business their customer in this last job is not satisfied and refuses to pay the bill. In steps businessman Erland Vinter, who offers to pay the bill and also wants a meeting with the ‘Busters for further business. He gives them a blank check for the gang to fill out on their own, with which Venkman, of course, is OK! But what is this meeting, and what is this guy up to?
The action between the guys taking down a ghost at the UN building is pure nostalgic fun. There is some bickering and sarcastic comments like only this group can do. The way that all the guys are written (by Erik Burnham, of Scarlet Spider fame) still is spot on to how I remember them in the films– especially Venkman and his smart-ass humor being a big source of laughs. Plus, even with the tragic loss of Harold Ramis in real life, his character Egon Spengler can still live on in these books.
The only small gripe is with the art by Dan Schoening (Back To The Future). It comes off a little overly cartoony for my taste, with character faces and heads sometimes so abstractly shaped and a tad overly silly distorted. But also on that note, the colors in this book had a massive pop on every page. As long as these guys keep bringing the jokes and hijinks, there will always be every reason to keep picking up that phone to give them a call! 3.5/5 Bibles.
So far, the plot of Cry Havoc seems pretty simple: a twist on the werewolf tales of yore, and, judging by tiny hints throughout, will also involve other “nightmare creatures.” Simon Spurrier (2000 AD) does a great job of pushing the story along with his writing. He gives you a good feel for the world and characters in it. It was pleasantly surprising to find that there was no hinting at our heroine, Lou, being a lesbian, and instead, it was put right out on the table on page three. This type of progressive movement in comics is always welcome and reassuring.
The story follows Lou as she joins a military operation to hunt down a rogue leader. By helping them, she is promised that they will help cure her of her affliction. I feel there are going to be quite a few twists along the way. The art by Ryan Kelly (Lucifer, American Virgin) is pretty great, as well, as there is a great feel for each step in the story. Colorists Nick Filardi, Lee Loughride, and Matt Wilson all use very distinct color pallets in their portion of the story, too, which helps keep the fluidity as we bounce around from end, to beginning, to middle, and all back again. Cry Havoc is an enjoyable mix of horror and superpowers of sorts, and I am really looking forward to keeping up on this comic. 4/5 Howls.
As someone who loves what little Valiant he has read and has never even touched a Bloodshot comic before, I can tell you this about Bloodshot Reborn #10, it gets you hooked and it gets you hooked FAST! There is literally no point at which I feel like I am losing out by not having read the other issues in this series; and at the same time, I feel that this is a rich world to mine from.
That rich world, like all great sci-fi based nerd stuff, borrows from all of the greats. One part Terminator, one part Mad Max, and maybe even a little Blade Runner. Basically, this mysterious superhuman is trying to help his little settlement procure (steal) some water from just outside of super crazy overlord mysterious future Los Angeles in a post apocalyptic nightmare world in order to survive. However, some Mad Max-style goons ensure that it isn’t such a lovely day for our protagonist, and it leaves the reader wanting more. This is a highly recommended read for any fan of sci-fi, comics and generally great things. Jeff Lemire (Animal Man, Sweet Tooth) and Lewis Larosa (Punisher MAX, Bad Planet) hit this “jumping-on point” out of the park. 5/5 Bibles.
***FISTFUL OF COMICS*** – 1/29
This is pretty cool. With this much-anticipated release, Faith Herbert — the plus-sized but lighter-than-air breakout character of Valiant’s Harbinger “Renegades” series’ — (finally) gets her own series, and it’s great. Building on Valiant’s nascent, diverse, and crazily imaginative universe, we see Faith strike out on her own in LA, away from her former team-mates and their new lives. Being the massive superhero and comics geek she is, Faith takes a job as part of her secret identity in order to both blend in and keep her ear to the ground (no prizes for guessing what her job is), whilst negotiating the pitfalls of adult life and saving puppies. Yeah. It’s pretty special; it’s just missing the telephone booths for quick changes and Perry or JJ making her life difficult.
Jody Hauser (Cupcake POW!, Avengers: No More Bullying) ably invades and conquers territory one might have thought Ms. Marvel and TV’s Supergirl had completely locked down; aided in this incursion by the bold clean lines and action-filled panels of Marguerite Sauvage (DC Comics’ Bombshells, Ninjak). Irrepressibly post-modern and filled with self-referential humor, pop-culture lambasting, and delightful cliches, Faith #1 is probably one of the most fun comics on the stands this month. As usual, make mine Valiant. 5/5 Something Biblical.
American Monster, a new title from indie publisher Aftershock Comics, has some promise due in part to writer Brian Azzarello (Wonder Woman, 100 Bullets). While the art by Juan Doe (Solar: Man of the Atom, Wolverines) is nothing too special, the writing is what sells the concept. In short, this first issue introduces us to a mysterious, stoic, monosyllabic veteran who comes to a small town in Americana to do…something. The opening pages are a thrilling scene of a domestic attack, as some assaults a couple in their home in the dead of night. From there, though, the comic’s story reads a bit vague, bouncing around from character to character (there are about a dozen characters introduced; and even after two readings, I can’t remember any of the character’s names, nor if they were even mentioned), as well as a flashback to a desert raid where our burnt protagonist gets his charred current look. Again, despite two complete readings, the meandering story is hard to remember, in regards to which events occur when, or to whom, nor what the actual plot might be.
However, despite that shortcoming, the next issue might actually be much more interesting, enough for me to come back. In the last four or five pages, Azzarello sets up what one can assume is the main antagonist, and he does so in a very tense Mexican-standoff style situation. It is in this scene…in which there is one central conflict, very distinct characters, and a clear, obvious location…that is this issue’s strongest. Once the story is able to settle down and focus on something other than introducing characters (which, yes, is important; but which could be done while in the process of actually telling a story, thus feeling organic rather than expository), this title had immediate potential and grabbed my interest. I was going to write this off until the last scene, and now I’m eager to see where this goes. It was a bumpy, meandering start, but I’m looking forward to following onward. 3/5 Bibles.
***THE SUNDAY STASH – 1/23***
The newest Silver Surfer #1 is definitely a good starting point for anyone wanting to jump back into the Surfer’s story line. Love it or hate it, there’s a lot to be said about the direction they are taking Norrin Radd.
As far as “lovin’ it” goes, the artwork by Mike Allred (Miracle Man, Doop, Wolverine and the X-men) is amazing this issue. In the real world we may be dealing with a lack of color (for example #OscarsSoWhite) but Silver Surfer #1 was definitely #SurferSoBright. Each page was BURSTING with so many beautiful colors that weren’t distracting. The way Mike Allred depicts the Surfer is pretty cool, since he considers reflection into his work; you would think that because he is silver, many artists would create moments when he is reflecting an image but you don’t. There was a moment when the Earth is seen as a reflection on the surfer and I literally said “Ooohhhh.. Ahhhh.”
Since hate is such a strong word, I’ll just let you know what I disliked: Dan Slott (She-Hulk, Silver Surfer, The Superior Spider-Man, and Ren & Stimpy). The story is just not poppin’ off to me. I don’t like the direction the Silver Surfer is going. It is almost beginning to read like a children’s storybook. I GREW UP with the Surfer. I know what he is capable of. He is literally a planet buster who is capable of rearranging matter, creating black holes, and even going toe-to-toe with some of the Marvel Universe’s biggest threats. Why is it that he couldn’t just easily one-shot the “foe” in this story line. Has love made him soft?
Regardless, Silver Surfer is an interesting read that doesn’t drag. It will come down to whether Mr.Slott will pick up the pace and show what a bad-ass Mr. Radd can be.
“Cardinal Brooks” here with my review of the highly anticipated, and very overdue final issue of Marvel’s epic reality bending mini-series event Secret Wars. In this issue we witness the final battle between God Emperor Doom, the ruler and creator of Battleworld, and the Surviving Heroes of the final incursion.
In all, this is just one big excuse for Marvel to reboot their universe and bring back long dead characters, and I’m totally fine with that.
Jonathan Hickman (The Nightly News, Fantastic Four) pens an invigorating script, having the audience as to whether Dr. Doom is justified in his use of power, or should he be stopped and things be set back the way they should be–or rather how they used to be.
This issue has a strong emotional core that centers around the exhaustingly long feud between Reed Richards and Dr. Doom and really does a great job of wrapping up the ground work laid in the first issues of Avengers and New Avengers. Esad Ribic is easily one of my favorite artists today and arguably one of the most talented, dynamic artists of all time. He has penciled everything from X-Men to Sub-Mariner and continues to dazzle us with his beautiful line work. This Event series may well go down as one of Marvel’s finest works and it’s all thanks to Hickman and Ribic’s absolute love of these characters which comes across in every word bubble and every gorgeously drawn panel. Epic work, gentlemen!
I’ll admit that when it comes to Poison Ivy, she’s probably one of the characters I have read least about, nor can I really pin point an actual story line (besides Kevin Smith’s Widening Gyre) that focuses on her. I know the general background of Dr. Pamela Isley, her abilities, and her incredible intelligence. Aside from the interactions with the Dark Knight, my knowledge of Poison Ivy is limited.
What I do know is the generic background story of a beautiful scientist who is a Gotham Goddess in the form of a Batman villain that’s trying to do good these days. So when I read on Previews.com that Ms. Isley was getting her own mini-series I was very much intrigued. In issue #1, readers are given a whodunit main plot when Dr. Pamela Isley joins the prestigious plant sciences department at Gotham Botanical Gardens, but things quickly escalate when a fellow scientist — whom she admires — is murdered and, of course, it looks like the work of Poison Ivy.
What I enjoyed about the writing is that although Poison Ivy is incredibly intelligent and sexy, writer Amy Chu (Alpha Girl Comics, Wonder Woman) doesn’t portray her as a one-dimensional femme fatale. We get into Ivy’s head as she becomes a detached scientist who is continually focused and more comfortable with her plants and latest experiment than dealing with people. This complicates her relationship with Harley as they have debates about having fun and who’s smarter and how little time Pamela has to invest in their friendship.
The downfall of this story line is that although it tried hard to give us a different POV, it’s highly predictable and didn’t really leave me wanting more. Another frustrating aspect is that this is supposed to be a Poison Ivy mini series, yet it’s flooded with Harley Quinn and familiar references (Gotham Academy students). It almost feels like Chu wasn’t sure if Pamela could carry this on her own.
Artist Clay Mann (Heroes for Hire, X-Men: Legacy) makes sure to remind us that Harley and Pamela both have incredible bodies and shows off their assets throughout the book. The inks of Seth Mann (Gambit, Magneto) and fine coloring from Ulises Arreola‘s (Superman/Batman, Green Lantern Corps) are detailed and fine. I would say that this is definitely for the hardcore Poison Ivy fans but even casual curious readers could enjoy it since the title is a mini-series and not a long commitment.
The Pop Culture saboteurs assembled as the brain trust over at Dynamite Entertainment go fistful of nitroglycerin stick-deep into the curmudgeonly-caverned, Neolithic brain-pan with their original comic Devolution #1. Consider this fatally feminized formulation of Planet-Of-The-Apes-Meets-
The marrow-cutting brilliance of Rick Remender’s (Captain Dingleberry, Black Heart Billy, Dead Space) ruminations, on a corpwhorate-engineered and bio-weaponized devolution of the human species doesn’t pull any punches as it skullfucks your teeth into calcified gravel, impacting it into the back of your throat for you to choke on like a Kung-Fu David Carradine. He stacks the human slagheap heavy, right before he blows your fucking balls off with a profoundly profane nuclear death-blast.
Jonathan Wayshak (Ferryman, Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs, Deadly Class) hieroglyphic-izes the bare-caved walls with dexterous jouissance, laying lascivious lines that depict a Smother Earth, who has returned to reclaim Her bountiful bosom from a pathological progeny that had been hellbent on warfaring her womb into warheaded obsolescence. Jordan Boyd (Umbral, Invisible Republic, Knuckleheads) smashes the berries, burns the wood, and pulverizes the limestone with prodigious coloration; as he stains and patinates this devolutionary world with a spectral palette of fury that both directly references our bodies’ corporeality, and seduces us into its bodacious bountitude.
Devolution #1 is a madly infectious dose of Faustian-infused pharma-dope. Projectile-regurgitating asunder. From a vertigo-inducing centrifuge. That was stolen from The Island of Dr. Moreau after Mel Gibson went all Sugar Tits and had his prolapsed asshole handed to him on a pike by Wendy O. Williams. I truly believe Dynamite wants to go full-on Amazon with this one, but that will NOT happen UNLESS they pledge obedience to the Goddess and the Mistress; and they bring in some WOMEN to RULE this title. THAT!!! And the fact that they failed, by naming Devolution’s heroine, Raja – which means “king” in Hindu and Sanskrit. Rani, is the Queen we’re looking for here. Onward MATRIARCHY! Let Your Fury guide us towards our last chance at Salvation!