With the likes of E3, EDC (yes, a pair of us raved our asses off at the world famous Electric Daisy Carnival), and SDCC on the horizon, we looked towards our very own friends, fans, and followers — our geek church-goers, if you will — to give us a lending hand.
Yes, we passed the collection basket around, and came up with a few winners. In this comic world version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”, who will be the next disciple to be blessed with holy water, take their first communion and join the hottest geek review webzine on our journey to the promised land?
You make the choice. It’s our Sunday Stash: Fan Edition. Ah-fucking-men.
The first issue of Mickey Mouse, from IDW, is a collection of stories.
The first and longest story is entitled “The Lost Explorers’ Tale”. This tale is rather robust, in that it has a pancake cook-off, world travel, adventure, plot twists and several tongue-in-cheek jokes. For what I’d imagine is aimed as a children’s book, Andrea Castellan packs in quite a vocabulary with several learning opportunities, in the nature of geographic and biological in nature. Being the “meat” of this book, I think this is a great story and while possibly rote, it still has a good collection of Disney “magic”.
The second story is the introduction of a magpie named Ellsworth. He becomes, to his dismay, a pet to Goofy and between wisecracks, feeds into a rather cute short story. This is followed by a Pluto love story and the trials he puts himself through to get the attention of Minnie’s new dog. Yup, cute is the theme of the day, though this does touch upon the intelligence of crows and gives some warning as to their inevitable rise to become Earth’s overlords.
Finally, there’s another story of Ellsworth. In this short, he has an adventure while trying to enjoy some time outside. Calamity and hilarity ensue. Overall the art of the book is standard Disney fare, yet there is plenty of fun to be had and it definitely starts out as an excellent subscription for the aspiring Mouseketeer in your household. 4/5 Mouse Ears.
Si Spurrier’s The Spire is an interesting blend of fantasy and science fiction. The story centers around a woman named Sha, the head of the police force for the strange and exotic desert city that makes up the Spire. Sha is “sculpted” which means she is a mutant of sorts (though she looks human) and is imbued with special powers and abilities. While this gives her quite an edge over the “unsculpted” or normal people, it adds even more difficulties and challenges to her job.
By far, the best part of The Spire is the absolutely gorgeous art done by Jeff Stokely (Translucid, Six-Gun Gorilla). It takes notes from such classics as The Incal or Heavy Metal—the colors are bright and saturated and the lines are bold and strong. There also seems to be a slight amount of manga influence in the character designs, though nothing over-the-top. The action flows well, and there is some interesting panel work as well. The few splash pages are excellent too and are poster worthy. However, the former X-Force scribe’s story gets off to a clunky start and jumps around too much, which doesn’t let us have time to get to know the characters. There are definitely some intriguing plot threads that have been started though, and the overall atmosphere is well-crafted and unique. Hopefully this comic finds it foothold in later issues because this world has a chance to bring a unique perspective to the comic book universe. 3/5 Bibles.
Welcome to Marvel’s Suicide Squad vs Marvel Zombies! Want Crossbones talking about Magneto like he’s a scrub? Then you’ll enjoy Red Skull #1. As with most things Battleworld, things are a bit odd. We have Red Skull achieving a Batman-like mythos where some swear by him, and others say he’s just a boogyman after he tried to oppose Doom. The book introduces us with Crossbones, whom is now tasked with assembling a team to send out and verify if Red is alive.
From a storyline perspective, Joshua Williamson (Secret Wars: Battleworld, Birthright) does a good enough job setting up the tone and group dynamic– but I find nothing terribly exciting. It also doesn’t help that the reveal at the end feels clichéd at best and as something that could’ve been saved for a later issue. As far as Luca (Secret Wars: Journal) Pizzari‘s artistry is concerned, it fits the world well, but as with the story, it isn’t all that gripping. Although Red Skull #1 doesn’t really do anything wrong, it doesn’t really do anything great either. 2.5/5 Pre-Doom Bibles.
Being a giant Brian K. Vaughan (Saga, Y: The Last Man) fan I obviously had to pick up We Stand on Guard #1. Teaming up with Steve Skroce (The Amazing Spider-Man), the book is beautifully illustrated and stuffed full of action. Some parts are incredibly graphic and some of the subtler parts are amazingly detailed. Mixed with Matt (Daredevil, basically everything else!) Hollingsworth’s coloring, this is one of the best books visually I have seen this year. While the facial expressions were superb, this “3:16” apostle absolutely fell in love with the designs of the US’ robots/drones. When searching for an analog or similarities, Skroce’s work here reminded me of Steve Dillon on Preacher.
As for the why, We Stand‘s story takes place 100-years in the future and focuses on a group of Canadian civilians defending their homeland from an invasion by the United States of America. Along with badass freedom fighters and giant freaking robots, the premise of the U.S. being the enemy is a fresh enough of an idea to cling onto–and that’s coming from a man who did two tours in Iraq. We Stand on Guard also jumps right into it with bombs exploding over Canadian territorial soil in retaliation to a terrorist attack on the U.S. While the issue plays out to appear a more conspiracy theorist’s daydream, the terrorist attack that spurred the States invasion of Canada turns out to be…something you need to run out to the comic book store and buy. 4/5 Bloody Bibles.
Onyx #1 is an absolutely fantastic read… providing you have never watched a single Science Fiction/Action Film or TV show from the 1980’s ever! However to be fair, could we expect anything less from IDW who have spent years capitalizing on 80’s properties? So, it is hardly surprising that an original comic book run from IDW would borrow so heavily from other sources.
With a fairly straight-forward story from Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall (Zombies vs Robots), you know the usual: alien species lands on Earth, rag-tag group of futuristic Marines go in to stop it, another alien arrives to stop the first alien and the Marines and the new alien team-up, have a whole bunch of trust issues and just need a time-out and group-hug before the oncoming onslaught. It is an admirable first issue with some halfway decent art from Gabriel Rodriguez (Locke & Key) however the influences weigh far too heavy on the issue sleeve. With heavy pinches of James Cameron’s Aliens and John McTiernan’s Predator, there is also some of John Carpenter’s The Thing wedged in there for good measure during the backstory of the new alien arrival.
On top of a series of generic looking Marine grunts, we have the lead protagonist Onyx who, by Ryall’s own admission, is a Frankenstein’s collection of Marvel’s Rom, Spaceknight and the 80’s version of the tin can Cylons from Battlestar Galactica. With all these heavy influences the first issue really struggles to find its own original footing; however if you’re young and didn’t live through the 80’s or you just love some good old fashioned Alien vs Predator fan-fiction with a bunch of characters that are neither Predators nor Aliens– then this is the comic for you. 2/5 John McTiernan Wet Dreams.
Allow me to confess, my knowledge of Barb Wire comes entirely from the so-bad-it’s-good film starring Pamela Anderson. It was such a horrendous film that after watching I had no desire to follow the further exploits of Barb in comic format. While I thought the concept of the character was cool everything else was dreadful. Having said that I was very hesitant of this assignment because that damn movie ruined the allure of Barb Wire. Much to my surprise I rather enjoyed this relaunching, as original scribe Chris Warner does a damn good job of introducing these characters in a manner that felt smooth and organic.
There was no need for previous knowledge on this particular property as Chris Warner laid basically everything you need to know on the table, which made this a title that a reader unfamiliar with Barb Wire can enter this world as a virgin and feel at ease with the story.
Barb is a kick-ass bounty hunter with a plethora of issues. She is a bounty hunter who runs a bar that is failing, employs knuckleheads, and has to contend with the fact that her whole world is crashing around her… yet she takes no crap from anyone. Make no mistake, Barb is a woman who is as quick to kick your ass as she is to helping you. The supporting cast here were fantastic and added some much needed levity to the book. Artist Patrick Olliffe (Spider-Girl, 52), and his supporting staff of inker Tom Nguyen (The Flash) and colorist Gabe Eltaeb (Green Lantern Corps), provided some great visuals with the exception being the title page where it appears that Barb’s arm was cut off. Overall, I found myself attached to this series and I will definitely add it to my pull list at least for the first arc. One last thing–if they decide to bring Barb Wire back to the screen I demand that they cast Ashley Benson in the titular role. 3.5/5 Bibles.