Welcome back to another edition of Fistful of Comics, I’m your host Travis Moody. Actually, fuck that– you don’t need me to guide you through all of our clergygeeks’ coolness!
Providence, the new jam by Alan Moore (umm, Watchmen? You may have heard of it) and Jacen Burrows (Crossed, God is Dead), is one of those impossible first issues to review. It’s full of portent and foreshadowing, interesting character introductions and scene settings, but everything is yet unrevealed. That’s as it should be, of course, since this comic is as much about the twelve-issue TPB as about this issue. It also fits because, as one mysterious character tells another, “this truth, it is a land sunken behind many fathoms.” We’re on the shallow end of that land now; by the end of this run, we may be deep into those fathoms, experiencing gothic horror in a Lovecraftian Providence. As it should be. Make sure to read the backmatter for some much-needed context. 3.5/5 Cthulus for now, but it could end up being something special…
So… “Monsignor” Moody asked me to do a guest review for GHC. For some reason, after reading Airboy #1— he thought of me. Problem is: The book does nothing for me. James Robinson goes on an “Inside Baseball”-style meta story about how he was tapped by Eric Stephenson at Image to reboot Airboy. Hijinks ensue. Now, I always loved James Robinson, from Starman (which gets name-checked in this very book) to JSA: The Golden Age, etc. One thing I can’t stand is “autobiographical comics”. Airboy #1 feels like the kind of book people in high school pretend to like to seem “deep”, mixed with the kind of awkward indie movie no one ever sees that wins all the awards no one remembers the names of, but sounds very impressive when listed on an IMDB profile. (Another thing I can’t stand) While I understand the gimmick he’s going for here, it went over like a lead balloon for me. It’s not my cup of tea, but if you like those odd books for the sake of being odd like Tony Millionaire’s Sock Monkey and the like, perhaps it’ll be up yours. I will say this for James! If booze isn’t solving your problem (in reference to a scene within the book)… then you’re doing it wrong. Drink up and try again. 1/5 Bibles.
P.S. Nice seeing Jann Jones again, even if it was just in comic form. She’s a sweetheart.
Image Comics’ Airboy releases next Wednesday, June 3rd.
The only reason people are now accepting the name GodHatesGeeks into their nerd community is due to the plethora of (sac)religious comics releasing these days. Before, we only really ever had Todd MacFarlane’s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ Preacher, of course; and now we’ve got Matt Hawkins’ The Tithe, Rob Liefield’s The Convenant, James Robinson’s Heaven, and, now, Brian Buccellato‘s Sons of the Devil.
Naturally, GHG would review it.
And, naturally Travis Moody would review the moody footsteps of Travis Crowe. I say footsteps, because there is no set-up. There is no exposition. There’s no introductory piece. There is only tortuous guilt. Something is happening to this young man, and it’s bad. But so bad we can only see it in layers, shredded from his soul until the last page snatches us from satan’s grasp. Crowe is a normal guy with problems. So to speak, he’s the guy yelling at people in front of 711. The guy who robs Wal-Marts. The type of guy who lives in a shopping cart. The guy who used to get laid a lot being the star forward in high school, until one day he found his parents drowning in a sea of smack. But in this comic, it’s his adoptive family that has it bad. Travis saves children. He headbutts bosses. We like him.
But what I do love about this debut from Buccellato (The Flash, Detective Comics), in addition to using my lovely first name of course, is not tell us anything, but show us everything in Toni (Sons of Anarchy) Infante‘s sharp, terrifying sketches. (Can we get this guy on Ghost Rider, please?) Really, it’s best for me to not tell you anything about the plot or point of the whole story; just trust that if you enjoy Constantine, are a wee bit curious about David Duchovny’s new Aquarius series, and plain-out just love you some ferocious artwork, Sons of the Devil will wind up on your pull-list and haunt the other comics besides it.
Writer Ales Kot (ZERO), artist Will Tempest (Deep Roots), designer Tom Muller (The Surface) and letterer Clayton Cowles (Journey into Mystery) have created a gritty serial drama in Material #1, packed with heady psychological commentary on current events, that reads like the story board of a True Detective episode. The artistry is raw and sketchy and the colours contrast without gradient, but somehow this crude style works. We are introduced to four main characters in this first issue and it feels quite possible that their lives may never intersect in this series; though the point is likely to find the commonalities within these differing stories and connect the dots ourselves.. Kot sheds some light on this below:
“It’s a story that begins in America and spreads everywhere. It defies easy categorization. Our chief aim is to be truthful about life as it is now through a vast variety of explored human experience. Material also marks the return of 9-panel grid as a standard tool in a comic series. Expect backmatter files by excellent artists, writers, journalists and other beings. Expect new readers coming to comic book stores asking for it. Ideally, Material will be our ‘Cerebus’—in that we intend to keep this one going for a long, long time.” 4/5 Bible Materials.
I’m a sucker for fun comics. Comics that don’t take themselves too seriously. Comics that are just a good, original story, and some great art; and Oh, Killstrike is exactly that. It’s a tale as old as time itself: Guy sees his old terrible comic is worth a ton of money, guy goes to retrieve said comic, and — wouldn’t ya know it — the main character of said comic — from Say Anything frontman and Evil Empire scribe Max Bemis — comes to life and turns guy’s life upside down! It happens to the best of us. Logan (Adventure Time) Faerber‘s cartoony art style helps keep the story whimsical and is a good pairing with the book’s ridiculous premise. The book’s main downfall is a lack of development on the Killstrike character. He’s set up like a one-dimensional shoot-first-questions-later muscle machine, but moves the plot forward with almost zero conflict. He sets up a completely arbitrary goal for the protagonist to complete, which he assumes will get him back to his own world (having no real evidence for this theory), which the protagonist quickly agrees to, (convinced pretty easily, I may add), and we close with the two of them out hunting the protagonist’s estranged father. Hunting with a vengeance! And potentially out for blood! It all seems a bit excessive– but like I said, the comic is simply fun, and as with anything, overthinking it can quickly ruin.. that fun. 3.5/5 Bibles.
***BONUS SECRET WARS REVIEW***
Fists of fury, feet -lying, booze-bubbling, and Battleworld blazing!!!!! That’s what we get in Master of Kung Fu #1, brilliantly pieced together by writer W. Haden Blackman (Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron, Batwoman), Dalibor Talajic (Empire of the Dead, Dexter) on the pencils, and Goran Sudzuka (Y: The Last Man, Hellblazer) as the tracer– er– inker (Chasing Amy anyone?!? Anyone?!? No? I’ll show myself out…).
With the multiverse out of commission, we are now getting the UltimateVerse that should-have-been, brilliant and fresh re-imaginings of characters we thought we knew. Kung Fu #1 follows the Battleworld’s version of Shang-Chi, drunken, foolhardy, and a whole lot of fun. I like what Blackman has done here, made a lesser known protagonist come off like a big star. Full of charisma and charm, his Shang-Chi is someone we can root for: Not a technological genius; not a god with a mystical hammer; and not an idealistic soldier hopped up on some type of serum– no, he’s just a man. A man with his feet and his fists, on a path to redemption. Where that path will lead him is anyone’s guess. Also of note, Battleworld’s Kun-Lun, is very reminiscent of Mortal Kombat‘s Outworld, and the parallels to the video game juggernaut do not end there- as the ruler of Kun-Lun is decided every thirteen years through tournaments where champions from all the realms compete to see who should rule. As a massive MK fan, I aint mad at this at all. While nothing about this story is all that original, it’s fun, entertaining, and presented in such a way that readers unfamiliar with the source material can jive with.
One can also feel a certain Tarantino vibe here, with the first issue feeling like a classic Kung Fu story of the 70’s and 80’s, which is full of a beautiful blend of just the right amount of action, camp, and witty dialogue. The plot here is easy to follow and presented coherently, a must when taking on a task of reintroducing characters or locales in a manner unfamiliar with the reader, and I for one am chomping at the bit to see how this adventure unfolds. 4/5 Broken Blocks of Wooden Bibles.