Ho ho ho and happy holidays, fellow congregants. This is the last week before Christmas, and we’ve got a lot coming your way in terms of gift ideas (whether they’re for others, or yourself is entirely up to you!). Marvel keeps rolling out some of their Number Ones, and we have a nice team-up of unusual proportions this time out as well.
Heat up some buttered rum, munch on some gingerbread cookies, and let’s take a look at what we’ve got coming up, shall we?
The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali. The Scream by Edvard Munch. That trippy pink elephant sequence from Dumbo. Combine all these inversely related styles into one comic and welcome to Weirdworld. Typically, your “Righteous Reverend Ryan” would take this time to inform the congregation of events past and present, but the artwork of Mike del Mundo is out of this world. It is very refreshing to see a piece of work that tells a story equally through both the visual and the narrative mediums. It is exceptional when no words are needed.
Mike del Mundo has succeeded in creating a completely messed up macrocosm of malevolent mayhem. His choice of imagery and colorization sends the reader on the same rollercoaster as the protagonist, taking everyone to dizzying highs, terrifying lows and creamy middles. Aside from the sheer beauty of his artwork, the stylization fits together flawlessly with the story like a puzzle piece coated in WD-40. To contrast, one of Mr. del Mundo’s other works — Elektra #1 — is done so well artistically, but the writing and story is so rote, it’s hard to remember what happened. That being said, let’s take a crack at the story.
Writer Sam Humphries can pat himself on the back for taking a concept like Weirdworld and making it palatable for the casual comic indulgent. One of the best examples of his prowess is in the personality traits exhibited by each distinct character. While each is unique in their own right, there is a sense of awareness and connectivity to a greater universe, despite all the WTF moments popping up like Catholic rabbits. And what is that greater universe of which I speak? Well, the Earth-616 universe of course! With Secret Wars, Battleworlds and the House of M all figuring prominently into the unspoken subtext, Mr. Humphries does well in crafting a stand-alone narrative tethered to the constraints of history. It’s not quite like John Milius turning Heart of Darkness into Apocalypse Now, but close enough yet to keep anticipation of what may be as we travel deeper into bosom of Weirdworld. 4.25/5 Bibles.
Ever wonder what would happen if Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had existed in the same universe? DC and IDW have teamed up to show us just that… sort of. The team of writer James Tynion IV and artist Freddie E Williams II have crafted this new series where the Turtles and Foot Clan—including Shredder—have been somehow crossed over into DC’s world, specifically Gotham city. No explanation is given yet for why this has happened, but they are both trying to find a way back. Problem is, Batman has taken notice of some stolen technology being used for their project, only they aren’t the enemy he was expecting.
The writing moves the story along nicely, and the dialogue fits pretty well, although its apparent that this is not the Batman to which we’re accustomed; distracted and arguing with Alfred, while denying help from Lucius Fox. The art is decently executed and fits what one would expect from a Batman and TMNT crossover… right up until the Batmobile appears. This is the ugliest Batmobile yet conceived, and the illustration of it leaves a lot to be desired. Sadly it detracts from the rest of the book, costing the book score a whole point on its own. Yes: it’s that bad. If you absolutely must know how the story plays out, give it a look. But this Saint is going to pass, with nightmares of an ugly Batmobile chasing me through the streets. 2.75/5 Shells.
Narcopolis: Continuum #1 – a compelling title for a comic book (published by Heavy Metal Magazine), and the film it’s derived from (Narcopolis, from 2015, written and directed by, Justin Trefgarne), for sure… But even if I greatly exceed the dosage, prescribed by the Ambro Corporation, beginning on Page 1 and up through Page 24, I barely register a buzz worth mentioning here…
Start twenty-nine years into the future, from right now, in 2015. Flash backward to the year, 2024 A.D., and forward again, to the year 2044 A.D.; and backward again, then forward again.. This is the questioned continuum considered here, in numbly Narcopolis, coming the Sheeple, by way of Jolly Ole London. The mad scientists who’ve been locked into the laboratory to deliver this comic yawn…uh, I mean, yarn, are: Word Doctor, Scott Duvall (Narcopolis: Continuum); Artonomist Ralf Singh (Heavy Metal -1977, Jazam!); and Panel Stainer Nic Chapuis (The Wheel of Time, Elephantmen, Marineman).
Welcome to a near-future dystopia, where all drugs are legalized; and the ones who still peddle and push the illegal ones on the streets, are detained and arrested by privatized law enforcement types! Un-fucking-believable!! What brilliance!!! You mean, you’re basically giving us a story that starts 10 years from now, that we’ve actually been living for many, many years already??? How fucking mindshatteringly ingenious of you Heavy Metallers!!!!! For how many decades have we lived in a world, where Big Pharma corporations have pushed the synthetic-dope envelope into our medicine cabinets and directly into our bloodstreams??? It’s legal NOW, to have your brats dosed up on cocktails of ADHD prescription amphetamines [(also called: Speed), like: Adderall, Dexedrine, and Ritalin]; along with legal, prescription narcotics [(see: Synthetic Heroin), like: Dilaudid, Hydrocodone, and Oxycontin]. YES!!! You can NOW legally have your own children (and the neighbors’ kids too!) doped-up and drooled-out on Big Pharma-quality Speedball, in the comfort of your own living room, bath tub, or bedroom!!!
Haven’t certain factions of FedGov, like the ATF, CIA, DEA, and FBI, been directly involved in the so-called Drug War, since at least the time of COINTELPRO??? Isn’t our Healthcare System, really a HealthScare Cystomb??? I find the fact that corporatized and legalized drug-dealing has long been our science reality, far more compelling to analyze, than any brand of so-called sci-fi comic that portends some near-future dystopia, culled from all-too-familiar terrain and watered-down platitudes, we’ve long overdosed on.
The writing: pseudo-science humdrum, predictable in its noirish sci-fi moorings, and lacking in the evocative. The artwork: somewhat technically accomplished, yet largely flat and devoid of lively expression and compelling compositions. The color palette: cool in temperature, metallic in tonality, and clinically-appropriate for the setting. The characters: seemingly cardboard automatons, quickly dipped into a flesh vat, giving them only a glimmer of depth or humanity. I’d rather ride Philip K. Dick’s electric sheep. The redeeming moment: (Spoiler!!!) when Ben Grieves – the protagonist – has his assistant, Eva, jam a syringe full of time travelling juice, into his eyeball. Too bad Visceral Games did it soooo much better, with the video game, Dead Space 2, from 2011! Jacob Clarke jammed the vitreous humor first!! Duhhh!!!
The takeaway: go watch Big Bucks, Big Pharma: Marketing Disease and Pushing Drugs (2014), A Scanner Darkly (2006), or Blade Runner (1982). Or go read Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients (2012), by Ben Goldacre; or Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007), by Naomi Klein; or Cointelpro: The FBI’s Secret War on Political Freedom (1988), by Nelson Blackstock. In Narcopolis: Continuum #1, Heavy Metal Magazine, has only rebooted certain tropes from our own 21st-Century Science Reality, into a thinly-forged alloy of flat-hammered entertainment that largely fails to quicken the pulse or get you off. It’s less human than human. Tyrell deez Replican’ts, pigz!!! 2.5/5 Pointless Needles Into the Eye Socket.
It’s only fitting that my journey with Dragon Age: Inquisition continues with one of my favorite comic authors, Greg Rucka (The Punisher). Magekiller #1 is a briskly-paced video game tie-in, which showcases two magekillers who grow from blades-for-hire to contracted sentimentalists. Funny, the first mage they take down nearly replicates the “Brisa” mage I created for the game.
Moreover, Rucka does a nice job with disparate narration for both Tessa and Marius that comes off both haunting and deeply psychological; yet, it’s the panels that showcase Tessa’s mocking her compatriot’s unappreciation for their teamwork that are especially rewarding. Carmen Carnero’s (Swamp Thing Annual) panel progression showcases the fast pace of its sister action-RPG, all the while filling the environments with highly detailed line-work. Magekiller #1‘s interiors are full of life. Considering its DLC did nothing for me, it’s a joy to see my favorite video game of 2014 live on in another medium. 4/5 Bibles.