With San Diego Comic-Con International just a few days away, the Sunday Stash sees your faithful Clergy of Cool TEAM-UP with the Almighty Comics Bulletin. And why? Because, in the coming week, we’re bound to do this a lot. We’re going to cover SDCC an entirely new way this year, and collaborating with CB for exclusive coverage (i.e. interviews, reports, etc.) is just the tip of it.
“Pope” Jason Sacks, thanks for joining us. It’s not often I have the pleasure of sharing the spotlight with the man who hired me to write comic book reviews in the first place.
Moody gone did it again. You know whenever I get the chance to review something of David Duchovny’s it sure is a treat. This is the man whose recent TV portrayal inspired your One and Present Monignor.
Now, despite the fact I love The X-Files as much as the next — having recently rewatched the first 7-seasons within the past year or so — I have never read one single X-Files comic. It’s nothing against licensed adaptations, because what’s the difference between that and reading Spider-Man for the 3,971st time?
Year Zero #1 marks the point of a very good “jumping-on” point for a couple of reasons. As you can tell by the title, it’s Year Zero. No, it’s no knock of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s fantastic Zero Year run on Batman, nor does it take Fox Mulder and Dana Scully back to any sort of spooky childhood experiences. No, Karl Kesel (Daredevil, Fantastic Four) actually provides origin to an entirely different time period of X-cases, an FBI that is more appropriated with post-WWII politeness than the fancy banter between our favorite e.t. crime-solving duo.
The best compliment I could probably give Mr. Kesel is that his dialogue feels like the television series. It’s pretty much on-point with how Mulder & Scully would interact– and even funnier to watch the agents receive text messages and reference Google. Sure, it may sound kind of forced, but this is The X-Files of the present day, with a bit of Tarantino-styled flip-back to the 40s. This five-issue miniseries can only do better to add more segues between the different eras. I also found it witty on Kesel’s behalf to parallel “Year Zero” with the name of the intended antagonist.
If it’s cheesy, it’s probably an X-File.
That brings me to the art. There were some panels where the team of Greg Scott (Case Files: Sam & Twitch) and Vic Malhotra (Thumbprint) capture the correct essence of the duo’s interaction, sort of akin to the inner-precinct style of Gotham Central. Then something Greg Landish happens: An off-kilter Fox smile appears before the dialogue response (remember how facetiousness Duchovny plays his characters). Further confusing matters, readers will witness a not-so-menacing panther that moves/lands in the strangest ways (maybe it’s alien?), and the grim color scheme often makes it difficult to tell which stories appear in 1946 and in 2014. And yet despite all these cool devices the FBI gets to use now, the panels still look mid-90s– not entirely giving us a nice contrast between the tech-forward and the old fashioned.
Despite a few nuisances, reading this comic is the next best way to continue The X-Files lore until Chris Carter convinces 20th Century Fox that the next movie will actually be good.
If there’s a great fantasy video game/comic book franchise named The Witcher, why not go with…The Squidder? Ahh, I can hear the porn jokes already. Luckily for readers of post apocalyptic sci-fi/adventure/horror/(which should be pretty much ALL of GHG), there’s few laughing matters when it comes to the terror of Ben Templesmith‘s The Squidder #1. The 30 Days of Night co-creator conveys much of the same harsh realities him and his oft-collaborator Steve Niles go for– you know, those conveyors of anti-corruption who have their own demons to deal with. Thankfully, Ben’s art is as satisfyingly glum as his story. His art style (yeah, Templesmith does it all in this issue, even the lettering) looks like hell straight out of a sketchbook. This is Jason Stratham stepping into Arnold territory, with cybernetic action blended in with subtle defiance; his Squidder comes off like a medieval Mad Max as well, gun by the hip, sword tied to his back. With foes that hold as many secrets as hostages in the Dark Father and Squid Queen, you best bet our buddy’s gonna need all the help he can get. Making matters worse, the ever-dismal atmosphere rains down on both the dystopian struggles and readers at hand. Lights come from flames; hell comes from within. If you’re sick of all the dark and dreary, too bad. This comic is on par with stellar sushi grade calamari. Enjoy the silence. 4/5 Haunted Tentacles. – Travis Moody
I probably have more to say about 2K’s forthcoming Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel video game than I do this comic, but you knew that. Comic books that adapt video games are usually not very good — with last week’s Splinter Cell: Echoes a seeming exception — and video games made into either TV or movies are typically even worse. Thankfully, IDW is holding down this market with an iron fist. Opening the book up with a Claptrap confrontation was a brilliant idea, seeing how he best captures the series’ not-so-clandestine sense of humor (“It’s possible you’ve embraced a sustenance-free lifestyle,” he chirps to a possible axe-wielding threat). Mikey Neumann, the creative director at Gearbox Software — yes, EVERYONE’s writing comics now — further spurts out the 80s b-movie humor as he introduces any possible Bordervirgins to the Vault Hunters. Lilith’s phasing powers look cool thanks to the detailed linework of Augustin Padilla (GI: Joe, Transformers). In fact, many of the sketches replicate the franchise pretty well. The only thing off about the visual look of this Borderlands comic in comparison to the game is the lack of contrast between the rustic settings and the hyper lo-fi characters and weaponry. Instead, Esther Sanz‘ coloring all seems to blend in. I’d highly recommend this comic to longtime ‘Lands-Fans such as I, but otherwise proceed to this Pandora with a tad bit of caution. 3.25/5. – Travis Moody
“L.A. is a junkyard. Meet the dog.”
Yeah, yeah, it’s a throwback ’80s nostalgiafest from writers Jack Lambert (not the legendary 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker), Scott Marder and Rob Rossell – three writers from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Unsupervised — and artist Bernard Chang (Green Lantern Corps, Demon Knights). With his long hair, sexy way with the ladies, cool car and kick-ass ways, Frank “Doberman” Doberano is the ultimate male wish fulfillment fantasy. But when his partner and him get involved in a drug deal gone bad, the partner is viciously killed by the bad guys.
Doberman drops out of society, wanders to Canada and finds himself breaking up white slavery rings. Yeah, it’s easy to see the fingerprints of a Hollywood action vehicle in this comic, some new Van Damme or Couture flick that’s short on the irony and long on the action.
It’s also easy to see why it never got made. This dog does a lot of growling but it never quite bites.
I love it when a comic seems like it’s going to go one way, then suddenly goes a completely different direction. This new comic by Frank J. Barbiere (Five Ghosts, New Avengers) and Victor Santos (Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Mice Templar), first seems like it’s going to be one of those introspective real-world super-hero tales full of long captions and deep, dull brooding. Then it seems on the verge of the “normal human in a world of super-powers” stories that seem like they’re all the rage, then it gains some heart and seems to be a bit of slice of life that has real heart and passion, before it turns all hardcore and crazy and completely unexpected. Yeah, he’s done it again. Just as he’s done with the awesome Five Ghosts, Barbiere takes familiar tropes and then zigs and zags all over the tropes in a way that makes ordinary comics seems a little too quiet after reading all the dense thrilling adventure of this tale. By squeezing all these ideas together in one story, he makes them all fresh and new, thereby showing us why we liked this stuff in the first place. Santos’ art doesn’t quite work for me in this story – some pages are confusing and the lack of background detail is frustrating – but Barbiere’s ideas come tumbling out at such a breakneck pace that the reader either has to hold on or get out of the way. 4/5 Mystery Ambulances. –Jason Sacks
What can be Holier than attending Church on Sunday? For “Bishop” Zom it would be reading Joshua Hale Fialkov (I, Vampire) and Matt (Sherlock Holmes) Triano‘s new Dynamite series, The Devilers. Yes, you heard that right, GHGers; the Bishop is going all occult on this certainly-not-so-holy Sunday Stash. The best part: Fialkov chooses a most interesting angle for this Hell Up in Vatican story. Despite the whole “wer’e doomed” mindset, there still lies a relaxed feel as to how it all unfolds. Instead of the usual single-player narration, readers will witness all the horror from their so-to-speak living rooms, as the initial — and quite dynamic — conversations are further broadcast into supernatural madness. You might just pick up a little of Hellblazer (now on NBC as Constantine), Supernatural, and even some Dead or Alive from the comic’s overall vibe. Triano’s artwork was a tougher sell. Despite the cool-as-fuck demon frog giving Padre the finger, the pages are almost TOO HOT– I don’t mean that in the best way. There’s almost too much color in every panel and not enough detail. Even one character appeared to resemble a Chewbacca-bleeding hair demon. Sorry, father; I was sort of done after that. Thankfully Fialkov’s premise is interesting enough to give these Devilers another few Hail Mary’s for next month. Hell, comics don’t get anymore GHG than this. 3.25/5 Pentagrams.