Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reinventing The Man of Steel

Writer: George Perez
Pencils: Nicola Scott
Ink: Trevor Scott

Arguably the most significant and iconic comic book hero ever created is Superman. Action Comics number one (first appearance of Superman) is the most recognizable, valuable, and collectible comic in history. The words "faster than a speeding bullet" are well know to even the lowliest pop culture Philistines. The Superman logo is even more popular than the comic itself, and has found it's way to almost every corner of the world. Merchandise ranging anywhere from stickers, hats, and tattoos generate millions of dollars in sales each year; and the majority of these transactions are conducted by people who have not ever read a single issue of the comic book. It is the idea of Superman that people really love. Superman has become a symbol of strength, invincibility, and uncompromising morality in an immoral world, the embodiment of our ideal selves.

Rebranding an icon of this magnitude is the biggest thing to happen to the world of comics in years, maybe ever. Before the reboot, Superman had become so stagnant that the book itself was almost unreadable. Grounded as a storyline had immense potential in my opinion. Contemplating the idea of a world without Superman is not a new concept, but an introspective Superman searching for his adopted nation's identity on a walk across America could have been a great read. In the end, it might have been the worst Superman story arc ever. Kingdom Come did a much better job. Red Son, while not exactly in the same vein, gave the reader a glimpse of a world where Superman was now a citizen of communist Russia, and in my opinion is hands down the greatest "what if" series ever written. There were some big shoes to fill in the Superman mythos, but the man tapped to do the job had already penned another fan favorite: Crisis on Infinite Earths.

It would take an almost Herculean effort to erase Grounded from memory. There was so much backlash from the fans, but it could be argued now that the bar was set so low last year that almost anything would be an improvement. The reality is somewhere in-between. I probably read issue one five or six times. At first, I did not like anything about the book. The style was wrong. The story was wrong, but I did take into account that no one would be harder to please then myself, a lifelong fan with a chip on my shoulder. Action Comics set the bar very high; Superman did not have the immediate appeal of Action, but I believe it is a lasting and relevant title. What I expected was the same present with different wrapping paper, but George Perez had a much more ambitious view. Thematically the book is very strong. An improving and growing Metropolis is evolving but being built on the backs of the poor. The presence of Superman is helping develop Metropolis and keeping the city safe, but at what point is the price of progress too high? With every battle, human life is lost. Some citizens are starting to think that Superman is more of a magnet for trouble then a deterrent, and at this point in the current arc they would all be correct.

Superman is a solid book. Action Comics has been a more compelling read to date, but seeing an adolescent superhero developing his powers has a lot of appeal. Action has more cheap thrills and guilty pleasures for fanboys, but Superman is a great book for completely different reasons. It is a dense, detail filled, well drawn, and well written superhero tale that is actually thought provoking. George Perez took a struggling title and made it socially relevant again after over a year of futility. The reboot has been kind to both Superman franchises, and both books have taken their rightful place as some of the best DC titles out right now. After a year of throwing rocks at the throne the man of steel is back and better than ever. All is right with the world.

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tales from the Dumpster: Sifting Through the Unwanted Comics of Yesterday.

Alf: Issues 34-36

I’ve been trying to get kids hooked on my various vices (comics, board games, and Zagnut bars) in order to keep the demand up for these products through the next generation or two, so whenever I see some kiddee comics (at least when I see them for cheap, I’m not going to plunk down no 3.99 for an Archie Digest anytime soon) I pick ‘em up and distribute them (usually by mail because every kid likes to get a package in the mail and this way I don’t actually have to see the kids).

What I usually find are one of the umpteen Archie titles, but this time (besides some slightly valuable old Charlton Popeye comics), I found this three issue run of ALF from 1990. I had been holding on to the comics, so I can send them out in lieu of Christmas presents to the offspring of my breeder friends.

This morning, the trailer was cold and I knew I had a leaky faucet to take care of in the bathroom, so I dipped in to the stack of comics and hurried back under the blankets. I had never really taken a shine to the TV show, and had actually taken to punching my friend Mike in the arm every time he followed up a bad joke with ALF’s tagline “Hah, I kill me.” However, I was afraid of plumbing new depths of geekdom by utilizing pictures of Betty and Veronica to take care of my morning wood (or heaven forbid, Olive Oil) so I opted for the ALF.

These being kiddie-comics I just grabbed the top issue and started reading the issue on top, #36, which had a not too promising cover depicting ALF slopping around scoops of ice cream while saying “I’m keeping this issue in chocolate chip MINT condition for you!”

This was the level of humor that I remembered from the TV show. And Mike.

The first thing I noticed is that unlike most kiddie comics, the author Michael Gallagher (no relation, I hope, to the watermelon smasher) was using the editor-sub box to actually try for some series continuity refer back to previous events in the comic run, which I found kinda cool. The first story about a hypothetical past where two ALFs roamed the cosmos was pretty mediocre, but I found myself enjoying some of the extremely forced puns and word play, e.g. as ALF #2 is threatened by the tyrant into action he quips, “I fear and obey.”

The second story was the real surprise. It had ALF back on Melmac working as a police officer and featured a trio of characters who had escaped from “the underground.” The silhouetted figures were none other than the Fabulous Freak Brothers (complete with dubie) whom ALF greeted with the exclamation “Great Caesar’s Tokes!” ALF then went underground to figure out how they escaped and encountered Zippy the Pinhead and Mr. Natural who help him “dam” up (ALF had a censorship gun but he let that one slide by) the rivulet that lead to the mainstream.

The other two issues were good too. The puns referenced figures as obscure as Elia Kazan, had mock comic strips as good as those in DORK, and the sendups of Judge Dread (#35) and Gone With the Wind (#34) were almost as high caliber as some of the better Mad Magazine parodies.

So these might not make it to the mail. For one thing, I’m not sure the kids will like them due to the obscure references, and for another, ALF’s house mom is one smokin’ hot, red-headed MILF.

By: Frank McGirk

Cosmic Peeping Tom

Point One:

So this was one giant sized issue broken down into short stories. The stories were memories taken from the Watchers archives. Seeing as time has no meaning to the Watcher, they are glimpses into the past, present, and even possibilities that could be or that will never be. Each story has different writers and artists making this book an oddity worth looking into, but I will try and break it down a little bit.

Nova Harbinger
Jeph Loeb- writer
Ed McGuinness- penciler

The art in the first story is average at best. I found myself just pushing through these first pages to get to the next. Nova comes to warn the planet Birj and Terrax about something called the phoenix and the impending doom it’s bringing. Of course Terrax ignores Nova and he and the planet are wiped out. Is this foreshadowing for some new great apocalypse in the MU. No clue. I don’t really care.

The Myth of Man
David Lapham- writer
Roberto De La Torre- artist

So this story line is set in the future. Weapon X and his mutant minions have pushed the human race to the edge of extinction. The only thing standing in Weapon X’s way are the heroes of the X-force. Deadeye, Goodnight, Friend, Horror Show and the leader Prophet (William Stryker). Prophet is the only one who actually does anything in the story. He murders a mutant named Krakken and his wife, and that’s about it. The art is above average. I really enjoy darker art with deep shadows and De La Torre must agree. The story really accomplishes a lot with only a few pages. The uncanny X-Force 19.1 prelude to the Apocalypse #1 comes out in January. I’ll at least check out the first couple of issues.

The Scarlet Thread
Chris Yost- writer
Ryan Stegman- penciler

This was my favorite story in the whole book. The artwork was decent and the writing was pretty good. I am sure you all remember the infamous Spider-Man clone saga. Kaine has returned. At the beginning he’s on the run from the Avengers. He comes across a bank robbery and battles with the idea of ignoring or stopping it. He stops the Robbery and instead of his old ways he decides to capture and not kill the bad guys. It seems after being given a second chance at life he chooses the path of the hero and tries to leave his darker ways behind him. Most people would just as soon forget about Kaine and Ben Riley but I have always been a fan of Kaine the first failed clone of Peter Parker that the Jackle created way back when. He has a totally new costume that I really like a lot. In January, Marvel releases Scarlet Spider #1. Ben Riley’s out and Kaine is in. It doesn’t come out for another month, but this little glimpse into Kaines world has it on my pull list. It’s strange, I am a life long Spidey fan but Ultimate Spider-Man and now Scarlet Spider are on my pull list but none of the 616 titles are, except Avenging Spider-Man. Times are strange.

Yin & Yang
Fred Van Lente- writer
Salvador Larroca- artist

This story is about two twins with super powers who were separated at birth. The boy named Dragonfire, as his name suggests, has the power to create and manipulate fire. The girl named Coldmoon has ice powers. They were separated at birth and held captive by Taiji Corp. They both escape and reunite. They join forces with the Avengers against Sed Taiji Corp. The art is not all that memorable, but I really like the story. So are Dragonfire and Coldmoon getting their own book? I have no idea and if Larroca’s doing the art, I don’t care.

The Shaman of Greenwich Village
Matt Fraction- writer
Terry Dodson-penciler
Rachel Dodson- inker

I couldn’t really get into this one. I have never really been a fan of Dr. Strange. I only read the first couple pages and gave up. I got bored and skipped past his story. I am sure this is a lead into the new Defenders book. Blah blah blah….no thanks.

Age of Ultron
Brian Bendis- writer
Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary- artists

I know right? How many Avengers story lines do we need? This one’s different. The march towards Ultron starts in Avengers #19. In this short glimpse Hawkeye and Spider-Man are on the run from Ultrons robot warrior looking guys. The art is really eye catching. There are some really great backgrounds and the hero’s look more like real people then cartons and that is always a plus. Overall, a real Avengers fan is going to love this story. Spidey or not, I am going to stay away from the Avenger titles. I am a Bendis fan and I really liked the art, so I don’t know maybe there is something with this Ultron run.

By: Cody Miller

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hawken: The Perrysburg Address

Story: Benjamin Truman and Timothy Truman
Script: Benjamin Truman
Art: Timothy Truman
Editor: Denton Tipton

Hawken Part One: La Paloma Blanca Del Desierto -

“Once there was an old man, he rode a blind mule on a trail called “El Camino de Muerte,” which means “the road of death.” During the course of his long life, the man had done many bad things. Many, many bad things. His name was Hawken.
The father and son duo of Benjamin and Timothy Truman really came up with something special with this series. The writing and Timothy Truman’s art are spot on. Somewhere between the cover and the instant he shoots a priest in the face, I fell in love with Hawken.
Hawken is an old gunslinger with a score to settle and by a score, I mean people to shoot in the face. Scalped, tortured, and left for dead, Kitchell Hawken is back for vengeance and the John Lee Gallis boys are about to have a very bad day.
Forget the horse with no name; how about a mule with no eyes? Why the Trumans have Hawken riding on a blind mule, I can’t quite say, but it’s a great element to throw in. The other unexpected story element is the fact that the ghosts of everyone Hawken has killed, literally follow him around. How interesting and unique is that?
I can’t get over how well these guys did in creating and developing a truly amazing character, with little more than a colt peacemaker and some well placed one-liners that would make Clint Eastwood envious. Buy Hawken, read Hawken, and he just might not shoot you in the face, but chances are he’d do it anyway!

By: Cody Miller

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Occultist: Championing Mediocrity

Writers: Mike Richardson and Tim Seeley
Script: Tim Seeley
Artist: Victor Drujiniu

The Occultist is a great example of a mundane, re-hashed plot accompanied by average art. Issue one of this three part series is a shining example of why some people hate reading comic books. This wasn't a horrible book, and it wasn't great. Beyond a compelling opening sequence, there's just not a lot to love. If you are a huge Dr. Strange, Supernatural, or occult fan, this sub-par contribution to arcane themed tales could have some appeal. But if you are looking to read something new or innovative, put this one back on the shelf.

The Occultist is centered around a forgettable main character, so forgettable I cannot remember his name. The only thing about him that I do remember, is that in one panel he had a Dog Day Afternoon poster hanging above his bed. That only got him a few pity points in the end. Most of the time my attention was drawn more towards the co-cast of extremely attractive cartoon women peppered throughout the pages. Basically, the only thing that I can say for sure after reading issue one is that "The Occultist" is fucking dimes. Sex appeal has never been something that I have found to be important or even necessary in a comic book. You will not find any foil covered books starring women in bikinis holding chainsaws in my collection. Give me a great story and great art, not some escapist spank bank bullshit.

Issue one even has a letters page (you got me). One of the letters written by "The Comic Vault" sums up the above pretty perfectly: "Your main character Robert is all right, but nothing happened to build his character; the only thing I know is that he is upset that he has this mystic glove and he is having sex with a hot chick. He is doing pretty good for a hero so far." Be careful of the company you keep comic fans. Why anyone would want to print this specific letter is beyond comprehension. In all fairness, I'm sure there is a limited amount of fan mail coming in about a book that hasn't even been released yet. Sigh. These idiots will take us all down in end. Buy three issues of this crap and you will find yourself sitting front row at a midnight premiere of the new Michael Bay film The Occultist, starring Pamela Anderson, Carmen Elektra, and Paul Walker. They will probably even find a way to premiere the trailer during an intermission at a monster truck rally. I wouldn't wish any of that on my worst enemy, but hey, the world needs ditch diggers too.

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Baby June and her Newsboys

Avenging Spider-Man #1:
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Joe Madureira

I’ve been collecting Spider-Man comics for more than half my life. Spider-Man is the reason why I read comic books. So naturally, when Marvel announced this new title, I was already on board. After reading through it a few times, I have come to the conclusion that this could prove to be a very exciting book. Just as the title implies, the content will be short story arcs with the Web Head and his newly acquired teammates from the Avengers. (And by the way, have you seen Spidey’s new white and black digs in the Avengers?) It’s the Web Head and the Red Hulk raising hell in the first issue, although, all of the Avengers make a brief appearance on the first couple pages. As a fan of the new Incredible Hulk, I’m in kind of a Hulk phase right now anyway. And I know next to nothing about the Red Hulk, except he’s General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. He made some kind of deal with the evil Intelegencia and now has super-strength, energy absorption, and of course gamma radiation. Not to mention he’s F’in Huge and Red. He stayed true to Spider-Man and his playful personality. That’s a must for any true believer. I really like the art and color too. The Red Hulk really jumps off the pages with his contrasting red hue.

Look at it this way; you get Marvels most important character ever, equal parts Avengers and a dash of new villains. What’s not to love (except Bette Middler; I really can’t stand that lady, not that she has anything to do with this comic, just thought I’d throw that out there) A team up type of story line in the Spidey folder is just what it needed. With all the chaos in the DC and Marvel empires, the timing is perfect. Besides, I’ve already decided the only Avengers book that I am going to buy are the Avengers Asanction. There are just way too many to be able to afford and follow. Asanction heralds the return of the great and powerful OZ. Oh wait, I mean Cable. That’s right, Cable has returned to the land of the living, and sans X-men too I might add. Cable comes back or is sent back for one mission. He has exactly one day to destroy the Avengers. One mission. One day. It’s like that TV. show 24 it seems. Very interesting if you ask me. It’s sure to have some action packed pages. Also, in December, Marvel releases its new title, Villains, for hire. The bad win in this series. Sure to be something bright and shining in the sea of new titles. Cause sometimes, it’s just fun to be wicked.

By Cody Miller

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spaceman: One Giant Leap for Comickind

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso

Virtual prostitution, psychedelic drug induced hallucinations, and a main character with a case of acute schizophrenia, all are within issue one of Spaceman, the new nine issue limited series by the creators of the acclaimed title 100 Bullets. And this is only issue one, excited yet? Generally I would wait until the series was concluded to write a review, but think of this more as an endorsement because Spaceman is a must read. Vertigo consistently continues to be the testicles of the DC family, and this book is as ballsy as they come.

Nothing out there reads like Spaceman, Azzarello even develops his own English dialect to break even more ground in terms of content. The new language can be a distraction at times, but it's addition does a great job of creating a setting vastly different from the Earth of today. The story takes place almost undoubtedly in the future, but the exact time and place are hard to determine among many other things. After reading issue one four times, I am left with more questions than I am answers. The setting, antagonist, protagonist, and plot are all up for interpretation and can take a completely different direction in the future. Orson, an ape-like lower class junk ship captain, lives in a lower class slum. He has drug induced dreams of being an astronaut, and these dream sequences appear to be a form of escapism because he deals with a lot of the same problems that most people deal with in life, essentially these hallucinations exist to him as another completely separate reality. He's alone, broke, and addicted to a lime green LSD like substance that transports him to a world where his actions matter; instead of being trapped in a reality where his existence is essentially moot. On Mars he is a man of substance, heroic, and skilled enough to stop an imminent greenhouse explosion on a "suicide mission". The two realities are intertwined throughout, and Orson genuinely believes that he was genetically created in a lab by human beings in order to withstand the rigors of space travel, most notably life on the planet Mars.

Issue one was focused more on developing a very complex character and creating a world that is unique in many ways. In some aspects though, the setting mirrors our own reality. The subplot in issue one is centered around a Hollywood power couple and their missing daughter. If it is possible, the popular media seems even more pervasive in Spaceman.
A short exchange between the police, publicist, and lawyer of the parents intimates that there may be some sort of cover up amiss, and issues 2-9 are sure to include Orson trying to unravel the mystery to the best of his drug addled ability. Issue one is the price of a shitty cheeseburger, one dollar. No excuses, buy Spaceman today.

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

His Name is Robert Paulson

Savage Hawkman #2:

Maybe I'm just getting burnt-out on the “hero” books. Maybe I'm just being too critical, or maybe this issue just sucks. I don't want to keep bashing most of these titles, but come on, I wasn't even remotely entertained. The cover art is misleading. Great, but misleading. It just screams “these pages are filled with mayhem and foolishness.” But no, it's a giant terd wrapped in velvet. The rest of the artwork bored the hell out of me. It made me think of Saturday morning cartoons. The whole storyline was muttled and confusing, and frankly, it wasn't even the least bit engaging. I mean, the best name they could come up with, for the evil black alien, was “Morphicius.”

I bought the first issue just to give a hero I have never read much about a chance. I thought maybe Hawkman wasn't just a “B” lister. The first book was okay, not great but good enough that I (after seeing the cover) bought the second issue. Then, it fell flat. I now, once again, laugh in the face of this lame ass character. Magic alien metal, my ass! Fog Horn Leghorn was more machismo than this guy. I am so turned off; I am not even going to acknowledge the artist and writer. They got my $2.99. Thanks plenty!

On the bright side, there was a preview of the new Batman graphic novel “Noel.” That comes out soon and it looks fantastic. Avenging Spider Man #1 comes out next week. I'm definitely excited about that! This Spider Island rubbish will be a thing of the past soon. I think I just threw up in my mouth thinking about it. After I check out this new Spidey book, I think I am going to shy away from hero books for awhile. Don't get me wrong, there is some great stuff out, but it's few and far between. Besides, I have a lot of catching up to do on the “Walking Dead” and I've been eyeing this western title as well. I've never done western before, but it can't get any worse than “Chicken Man.”

By: Cody Miller

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Super Sweet

Creator and Writer: Jeff Lemire
Cover: Jeff Lemire
Illustrated and Colored by Matt Kindt
Lettered by Carlos M. Mangual
Edited by Mark Doyle

Jeff Lemire remains one of the most innovative creators in comics today. Sweet Tooth is his masterpiece. The art is haunting, a glimpse into a fractured post-apocalyptic world. Each panel is as distorted as the setting itself, the world of Sweet Tooth is filled with survivalists, vigilantes, extreme violence, and the first steps of a new form of humanity. The children in this new world are all born an animal/human hybrid, and Gus the main character is their messiah. The plot is to some extent dense and complicated, Lemire shows remarkable restraint in terms of disclosing the origins of this evolution. The current arc is a flashback, and appears to be a window into Gus's pilgrimage to Alaska among other important plot points.
Some issues of Sweet Tooth can be read in less than 5 minutes, and this is a conservative figure unfortunately. Issues 27 and 26 do not fall into this category. The text developing the back story is written in the form of journal entries, and the art is drawn in some panels as old family photographs. The exciting part is that next issue promises to deliver all of the answers we have been so eagerly anticipating. The tribalistic spiritual overtones are the icing on the comic cake coming in the month of December. Although a lot of books these days seem to deal with mutants and an apocalypse caused by a plague, Sweet Tooth manages to keep me engaged every single moment. Lemire mentioned somewhere (I can't remember) that the series would be wrapping up around issue ninety, and the thought of this wonderful contribution to comicdom ending fills me with an indescribable sadness. I can only hope that all of the loose ends are neatly (not cheaply) tied up when issue ninety hits the shelves. Each issue that is sparse in terms of text finds me annoyed to slightly angry considering this book already has an expiration date. The art is always great. I never feel it is a waste of money and I own every single issue. Pick up this book today if you appreciate creativity. We all know that it is something that is in short supply these days.

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Poop and Taters

The Incredible Hulk #1

I freaking love this guy! I mean, what’s not to love about a gamma-powered rage monster? It’s been a long time since I’ve read an actual Hulk title. I have seen him misrepresented as a grey, bald, disappointment in Ultimate Hawk Eye. So when I saw Hulk standing defiantly on this great cover, I put the Flash that I was holding in my hand back, and forked over the $3.99 for this.

The artwork is amazing. Marc Silvestri should be knighted. Silvertri’s Hulk is how the Hulk should always be drawn; with a beard. Everyone knows a beard just ups your rankings on the bad-ass scale. Just ask Chuck Norris. Hulk with a beard > Chuck Norris.

We find Hulk living deep underground with a tribe of Martian midget looking things. They love him and the Hulk loves them; in a total non-creepy kind of way. The Hulk’s underworld bliss is shattered when the U.S. government comes to get the Hulks help in dealing with one Dr. Bruce Banner (that’s right, the Hulk and Banner are no longer one). Banner is now some kind of Dr. Monroe mad scientist. He is now creating half human/half animal, beings. His aim is to create another Hulk. For a character that has been adulterated as much as the Hulk has, writer Jason Aaron has breathed new life into a tired and worn out character. The mood and personality Aaron and Silvestri lend to the title promise to take this book boldly into the “don’t miss” category. It is now a new fixture on my pull list and as your attorney, I highly recommend you read this one. If you don’t, your balls will shrivel up and fall off. Really, they will. Don’t say I didn’t warn you flapjack!

By: Cody Miller

Daredevil: Portraying Disability in the World of Comics

It's time for another Marvel review. This time I have picked Daredevil. The world of literary criticism has written volumes on the way that disability is depicted in the media. In comics, there is not a better example of this than Daredevil. Let's get down to business.

In the reality of this comic, Daredevil's lack of sight has enhanced his other senses to the point that he is able to fight crime as a superhero. This stereotype of disability has been perpetuated in many forms, but the truth is that the blind's lack of sight does not sharpen their other senses. This is a fact. But although there are those who take great offense to the idea of "supercrips", I for one do not see anything wrong with Daredevil as a character or a comic book. Comics are a sensationalized form of entertainment...period. The other common complaint is the argument that books like these give people the idea that disabilities can be overcome through perseverance and hard work. This claim is preposterous. Trust me when I tell you, most academics think comics and comic fans are stupid. I have a bachelors degree in English Literature and I know from experience. I had a non-fiction professor once refer to comics as, "a lower form of art than the tabloids". I honestly wanted to jump over three desks and strangle the motherfucker. The funny part of it is that after I graduated I convinced my friend Harvey Pekar (RIP) to speak at the University where I earned my degree for a few bucks. I can almost guarantee that academic piece of shit who berated comic books was sitting front row clapping politely at all of the right moments. Fuck that guy.

Daredevil issue number five as a book was great. The standout part of the new Daredevil is the art. Marcos Martin does a great job of creating something that is stylistically unique. No other book out there looks like Daredevil. But the story is average. Mark Waid threw in a nice later season Simpsons reference, but as far as writing goes it really doesn't break any new ground at all. I found myself excited over this book regardless. Before writing one of these reviews I always read a book three times minimum. I remember laying there before bed thinking about what superhero book on my pull list I was going to cancel in order to have the funds to follow Daredevil. When I thought about it hard enough, I realized that I really didn't care about what most of these superheroes were doing on a monthly basis. Swamp Thing and Batman have been regrettably forgettable. So it was then that I decided to cancel them both along with Aquaman. Aquaman is not a bad book, but to be honest I just really do not care about him that much at the end of the day. I decided not to add Daredevil for the same reason. As far as superhero books go, Daredevil is top shelf all of the way. If Marvel books are your thing, pick it up for sure. You won't be disappointed. I on the other hand am now using my new-found financial flexibility to pick up and try new titles. At the end of the day, I don't want to buy a monthly floppy solely based on the fact that I have been collecting it since I was ten years old. Life is way too short to not be passionate about the things that you read. I have an extensive pull list, but my superhero selections are now limited to: Justice League, Superman, Action Comics, and Detective Comics. That is alright with me until the major companies, creators, writers, and artists decide to step up their game.

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Tim Tebow Debacle

As I sat on Sunday in my apartment recovering from a great weekend, many hours were spent racking my brain about what to write about this week. Having a site that reviews comics is a fun and positive thing, but at the end of the day we are fans with opinions and limited bankrolls. I read a lot of the same books from the same writers this week, and I thought that the last thing this website needed was another review of work by Johns, Snyder, or Ennis, the only books that were on my pull list. One part about this whole process that is difficult, is the lack of resources that I have available to purchase new and different books. A part of me wanted to do a piece about why I like comics, an overview of why I love a medium of entertainment that is met with much scorn by the majority of Americans. This may be coming in the future, but at this particular moment there just isn't enough time to do it right. During my daily commute to Chicago it dawned on me that this is our website, that Cody and I can write whatever we want, and a fairly large part of my weekend revolved around something much different than comics. It revolved around an almost equally misunderstood past time, the world of fantasy football; particularly one trade, and more specifically a controversial trade veto that probably cost me a victory this week. So there is your spoiler alert, this week my post has nothing to do with comics at all. Caveat Emptor. Since a lot of comic fans are into gaming, I would like to share my first experience with America's hottest new hobby.

Tim Tebow is one of the most controversial quarterbacks in the NFL, and much of this controversy surrounding the young Heisman winner from Florida stems from his religious beliefs. Tebow is an Evangelical Christian, a sect of the Christian faith whose members have the obligation of spreading Christianity, a responsibility that can be viewed by the non-religious or non-Christian with emotions ranging anywhere from annoying to offensive. He was a star of a much discussed Super Bowl commercial advocating his Pro-Life beliefs. A defensive player of the Denver Broncos famously told him to "go fuck himself" after he asked to lead the team in prayer, and he has publicly stated that he is going to remain celibate until marriage. In a society that seems to become more agnostic and atheist every single year, these are controversial views, especially for a figure in the spotlight. But regardless of his faith, he has done amazing things on the field that no one can dispute.

In college he led Florida to two National Championships and won the Heisman his sophomore year. No one can argue that these are College Hall of Fame statistics, and many of these games were won in dramatic fashion by a player that loved to win, and he in turn inspired his fans by consistently winning. There is no doubt, Tim Tebow found ways to win and won football games. Big games. But regardless of his proven track record, the majority of NFL fans believe that Tim Tebow will never be a great quarterback in the NFL. There are also a minority of fans that believe Tebow is a great quarterback, and that his determination, track record, and work ethic will eventually propel him into the elite quarterback conversation. I am one of those people. I am not pro-life, sure as hell not celibate, but my difference in beliefs from Tebow does not change the fact that I think he is simply a great football player. And I also believe that he will find a way to win in the NFL despite the consistent doubt by almost everyone ranging from the majority of NFL fans to the majority of NFL commentators. At the end of the day, I believe in Tim Tebow.

The last two years I lived in South Korea and worked as an English teacher. The experience changed my life profoundly, but there were drawbacks including the time difference. South Korea is 14 hours in the future from America. This means that most sporting events need to be recorded in advance or not watched at all. Barely any comics either, you can buy trades in Seoul that are marked up. When I returned home and was invited to join a Fantasy Football league, I accepted the invitation with enthusiasm. There was a $20 fee, but a chance to win some money so I decided to do some research. Through sports radio and internet news articles I developed a strategy. Michael Vick came up a lot, and one particular article convinced me that if I drafted him and he played exactly like he did last year I could win the league championship in almost one move. There were risks involved. Vick is injury prone, and we all know about his stint in federal prison for dog fighting. Forgiveness is a virtue, and Vick won over the hearts of many fans and his organization through his inspired play in his first year as an Eagle. Not me specifically, but this was my pick and I drafted him anyway despite my issues with his character.

The draft came and went. My team was not horrible and not great. Also, I am extremely busy so I dropped one game because I forgot to add a couple players and lost a lot of points due to my own neglect. Two other games were lost due to Vick leaving the game injured. This next game was a must win for my team and my season. Both Eli Manning and Vick were on a bye this week. ESPN was abuzz with Tim Tebow's starting status and I wanted him for my team. The manager of his team did not initially want to trade Tebow. After four rejected trade proposals I suggested a trade of Vick for Tebow straight up. I needed this game, my quarterbacks were on a bye, and Manning and Vick had almost identical statistics. The price was a little steep, but I drank the Tim Tebow Kool-Aid months ago so I decided that my season would rest on his shoulders.

Then the emails started. The majority of people in my league were irate about the proposal. I was even accused of trying to "blow up" the league with the trade, and these were guys that I have known for years that were now suddenly questioning my integrity over Fantasy Football.

I stated my case for Tebow logically and passionately. This was my team anyway. There were people arguing both sides. Their arguments started to become heated and escalated. The message boards were littered with insults, personal shit too. The trade was voted down by the majority of the league. And when I realized Sunday that Tebow had the fourth most points of any quarterback, that with him on my team I was three points away from my opponent who had no Monday night games and I had Maurice Jones-Drew playing on Monday night, I became angry as well. The selfishness and arrogance of the majority of my league probably cost me the game this week. I started this whole endeavor to have fun with my friends, and this "fun" spiraled into mudslinging and insults over almost nothing. Now I have two more months of Fantasy Football left. There is no way I can win at 2-5. Almost all of people that "vetoed" my trade would have lost in points to me this week if I had Tebow on my team. I was right in the end (at least this week anyway), but now it was too late.

The lessons and impressions that I take from my first Fantasy Football experience are that people can and do get emotional about this game. It is just as much about winning money as it is about fun sometimes, and I was screwed out of my money by the money driven managers in my league. Fantasy Football has more mainstream acceptance than comics or gaming, but it is strikingly similar to gaming in every way, the subject is simply different. The all around shadiness and negativity surrounding the Tim Tebow debacle has left me with a bad taste in my mouth regarding playing Fantasy Football in the future. While I am writing this post, I just received an email that if the trade was proposed now it would not be vetoed by the league. Thanks assholes, one week too late guys.

Finally, Tim Tebow remains one of the most controversial figures in NFL history both on and off the field. This will not be the last conversation about the work in progress up in Denver. The Broncos will probably play better teams, Tebow will have growing pains and bad games, and he will probably lead his team to victory again like he did last week in Miami. But to paraphrase and distort the famous words of Dennis Green, the Bears were not who we thought they were when it comes to Tim Tebow. The man who has always found a way to win led the Broncos to a stunning overtime victory against the Dolphins last week, and I have a feeling that this will not be the last overtime victory in Tebow's soon to be storied career.

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Laying Eggs: A Glimpse into Hawkeye

"A serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl."
Ernest Hemingway

Ultimate Hawkeye #3:

I think the life of Hawkeye suits him better as Nick Fury’s lackey, versus being a member of the Avengers. Hawkeye’s new threads are so much better than his old purple costume with that dumbass pointy mask deal. I really hated the way these jack-wagons drew the Hulk. He shouldn’t be bald! He shouldn’t be gray! He is the Hulk!!! He should ALWAYS be green. The Hulk being anything other than green is like Superman without the “S,” Wolverine without the claws, and the Silver Surfer without the damn surfboard. Green or die. Green or die.

The art was drab and dreary, but it made the freak with the glowing skull stand out as he man-handled the pathetic gray excuse for the Hulk. But don’t worry. The Incredible Hulk #1 is out this month. In all it’s “greenness” I might add. I think I’ll pass on this book in the future. I like the new Hawkeye character, but not enough to really care.

By: Cody Miller

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Hills and valleys of the Marvel Universe

Ultimate Spider-man #3:

Of the three books this is the worst cover. Spider-man is in an ass first action scene, as he swings in front of a full moon. We’ll call this the double moon cover. The other two covers are great; this one is an epic fail in my eyes.

I am starting to really get into this series. The new guy is beginning to really take shape. I was worried that they would just do the same Peter Parker storyline except for the fact that now he is a young black kid. Other then getting bitten by a spider, Miles and Peter really have nothing more in common. Miles even has some unique spider abilities. Sara Pichellis’ artwork is really starting to grow on me as well. I have been a Brian Bendis fan for a long time; I really like his Warhammer and Ultimate Spider-man books. I know it’s only the Ultimate World, but hey it’s good and I am going to keep reading it.


I lost interest when I learned that the Werewolf chick went into labor and hacked the baby out of her mouth. No Thanks! I’ll pass. In truth it had no more than two things I liked about it. #1 the cover, I am digging the toe tag. #2 there was a zombie thrown in and I am a sucker for a good Zombie.

Side note:

I picked up the direct addition for Avenging Spider-man today. This is going to be a fantastic book. The art is amazing. The writing captured Spider-man’s quick wit perfectly. The Avengers make an appearance and the Red Hulk is a major player. I love that guy. Joe Madureira is a crazy bad artist and Zeb Wells captures Spidey as I want Spidey to be. Trash talking, sarcastic, and one bad mother.

Jennifer Blood: A little Ennis in us is Never a Bad Thing

Garth Ennis has created some great books over the years. I have to rank The Boys and Preacher as two of my favorites. Preacher was a pioneer in adult themed comics, and there were things within those pages that were beyond shocking for the time period. Later, The Boys and Chronicles of Wormwood raised the bar again, and despite the obligatory blood and gore found in almost every Ennis book, Chronicles of Wormwood dealt with subject matter that can be deemed by the average reader as blasphemous or deliciously irreverent dependent on your religious leanings. Ennis portrayed Jesus as a black man with dreads that was mentally challenged due to getting his brains bashed in during an LA race riot; the main character of the book is a likeable antichrist trying to postpone an impending apocalypse, you be the judge. As much as you may hate that depiction of Jesus, one must admit that the concept is extremely creative and inventive, and I'm Catholic (one that thinks God probably has a sense of humor). But that's just my opinion.

The Boys explores the theme of absolute power corrupting absolutely. And in the reality of this book, that is the case completely. The Boys are a government funded secret agency devoted to policing superheroes that are made and controlled by corporations, kill at will and without remorse, and publish comic books as propaganda intent on keeping "supes" in a positive light with the general public. It's one of my favorite books out there right now. When I heard that Ennis came out with Jennifer Blood, I had to see what it was all about.
Crossed set the bar for blood, gore, and general profanity in all forms, completely pushing the limits of what was deemed acceptable . I knew that there was no way Jennifer Blood could compete in any of those categories. But Jennifer Blood is Ennis in every way; a dark and twisted blood bath focusing on revenge and retribution, a tale of a woman focused on nothing more than killing her estranged family members one by one and making them pay for their crimes.

The book came out intermittently for awhile, after issue three there was quite a long delay. This was a bit rough considering it was the best one yet. Admittedly, the plot is a little contrived, sort of a darker version of True Lies meets The Long Kiss Goodnight. Issues four and five came out weeks within one another. Four was weak. Five was better. Five explored the back story of Jennifer Blood, gave the history of her (little less twisted than Preacher but similar) family. There are a few shocking panels artistically, Kewber Ball was probably flipping between anatomy books and pictures of roadkill in order to make everything seem as realistic as possible. And it worked. There is some graphic and shocking stuff in Jennifer Blood. The story is slow at times, but if you are an Ennis fan it is worth the cover price. Ennis is still setting the trend when it comes to breaking new ground concerning content in comics. Just when you think there is no place left to go, Jennifer Blood is tying some poor bastard's intestines to the bumper of a car and then driving off into the sunset. This book is not the best that Ennis has to offer, but it is still a fun read and one of less serious books he has out there right now, a bloody romp in the park and a total page turner (most of the time).

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Animal Man is Fucking Awesome

The best book of the new 52 is Animal Man, and also proof that superhero books can be smart. The art and story both give me a personal broner. Jeff Lemire writes some of the best stuff out right now, and Animal Man deals with a lot of dynamics that are rare in superhero books these days. He's a family man with no secret identity, a hero on hiatus that is now back in action. His daughter has creepy new powers that bring dead animals back to life.

Travel Foreman samesies. This dude can draw, and I liked the books so much I bought the first and second printing even though I'm a baller on a budget. So go out and buy Animal Man. It's worth every penny and actually draws the line at $2.99. Although to be honest, I would pay an extra dollar or two for more content. My only problem with LeMire a lot of the times is the lack of density in his books. There was a Sweet Tooth issue where Gus got shot, total cliffhanger, and the next issue was some coma dream sequence. Don't do that in your books, or films, or television programs. Nobody gives a fuck. I always knew it was going to be a shitty episode of The Sopranos when it was a full 40 minutes of dream sequences "exploring" Tony's inner thoughts trying to get on some Twin Peaks shit. It's lazy writing, but that particular issue of Sweet Tooth had some great art that resonated with me for awhile. I always know that something is good when I find myself thinking about it the next day, but this was supposed to be about Animal Man. We talkin' about practice right? Practice? I'm supposed to be the franchise player and we in here talking about practice? How the hell can I make my teammates better by practice?

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Name is Dirty Cody

Savage Hawkman:

I’ve never really been into Hawkman. I always thought the character just looked like a dumb ass. So when I saw the cover of this book, with Hawkman’s new look, I had to check it out. The story is surprisingly very dark. A new villain, Morphicius, is set loose upon the world. He seems like a real bad dude. I have a hunch that the next issue will be the one to pickup. This one just builds up to it. I must say though that the way Carter Hall is transformed into the “savage” Hawkman is kind of lame.

Moriarty: The Dark Chamber #1:

Bad guys in top hats, need I say more. From cover to cover, the art is an orgy for the eye. I really like the shading and use of shadow play. I’ve never thought that about a comic book, so it has to count for something. The writing is really good as well. Moriarty is a bad ass. So bad ass that even though he’d cut your heart out just for kicks, you are left hoping that he calls tonight so you can hang out. Bad guys in top hats.

By: Cody Miller

Friday, September 30, 2011

A DC Fan's Lament: With Our Deepest Apologies

Green Arrow Industries (Flashpoint):

This was incredibly disappointing. I thought I had just picked up a copy of the new Green Arrow book. Instead, I grabbed this “Flashpoint” bull. I just don’t get it. Instead of the bad ass arrow flinger, I was given some Tony Stark weapon manufacturing rip-off. Let me look again. Yep, the cover says DC and right there on the cover is the green stud himself. Beyond that, it is a huge disappointment. Truthfully, I can only really blame myself. You see, I am not a real follower of DC. I think the last DC comic that I read was actually a Green Arrow book and that was almost ten years ago. Other than that, the only connection that I have with DC is that fact that one of my best buds, Saint Swantner, is a collector of all things Batman. I read his collection whenever I could. Truthfully, I like Batman. Always have. I still think to this day that the villains in the Batman books are the greatest evil-doers of all time. The Joker tops the list. I mean what’s not to like about a psychotic murderous clown?

In all honesty though, I am a Marvel guy. Until this ridiculous “Spider Island” story line crawled out of the gutter, I thought I always would be. Heavy Rick D on the other hand is the DC aficionado. In one of our many conversations about Marvel vs. DC, he managed to convince me to “broaden my horizons” and “dip my big toe” into the world of Gothem and Metropolis. Enthusiastically, I jumped in head first. THIS is how I’m repaid; FLASHPOINT??? The good news is having been left with a lingering case of “green balls,” I dug out my old Green Arrow books and basked in their excellence. Maybe for a die-hard Green Arrow fan this book would make for an exciting and joyous read. For me? Not so much. Why didn’t anyone warn me about Flashpoint?

Resurrection Man #1:

I knew right away when I mentioned to “his holiness” Rick D, that I had blindly picked up a copy of DC’s Resurrection Man to review, that I was on to something. I knew this because Rick D’s reply was, “Who the hell is Resurrection Man?” After only one book, I can now say, with a clear conscience, that this character has found a secure home at #2 on my all time favorites list (second to only spider man).

It was the bad ass cover that initially drew me in. I’ve been on this zombie kick as of late. It’s truthfully becoming some kind of obsession; so how could I resist the ragged man clawing his way out of his own grave surrounded by scattered skulls, femurs, and rib cages? I couldn’t.

This character is one of the most original and unique creations that I have ever been privileged enough to wrap my brain around. I don’t want to spoil this book for anyone, but at the same time I want to tell all. It’s like the secret you just have to tell someone…..everyone.

It works like this: First Mitch dies. Then a half an hour later he is resurrected with all new powers. That’s right. Every time he dies (he only dies once in this book, but what a gruesome death it is….he gets sucked into a jumbo jet engine) he comes back with a different and unique super power. Damn it man! Think of the limitless possibilities with an ever-changing character.

Mitch’s soul has a wanted sign stapled on his back. Both heaven and hell mean to claim it. It seems he has become quite the prize. But riddle me this true believers; how do you claim the soul of a man who can’t truly die? I don’t know, but I want to find out.

By: Cody Miller

Breathing Life Into Aquaman

Despite it's cancellation as a regular monthly series over four years ago, there has been substantial buzz surrounding the release of Aquaman #1. This is mostly due to Geoff Johns taking up the mantle, but as a fan of Aquaman I would have read the title regardless of who wrote the script or did the illustrations. After finishing and rereading the book, I am relieved and excited. It was extremely well done on all fronts. My only issue with the book itself is that the title page would have made a way better cover, but you got a sweet title page so there's nothing to complain about there. The covers have not been that great on the new 52 with the exception of Swamp Thing. That has been disappointing.

There has consistently been a lot of criticism directed towards Aquaman in the past, and I have never understood this because in my opinion, the parallels between him and Thor are almost too numerous to mention. Thor is a successful book, why not Aquaman? And Aquaman had the advantage of being one of the most human superhero books around. The man created The Justice League, Aqualad died, and his death nearly caused Mera and Arhtur to divorce. What's not to love? You don't see that kind of stuff often in mainstream books. It took a mind like Geoff Johns to realize that there was a story to be told, and although it appears that the setting is going to change, it may be for the best. After all, the old Aquaman didn't have much mass appeal in the past, that could change for DC fans now that the series has been rebooted.

Johns humorously delves into his checkered past and lukewarm acceptance. Throughout the book, it becomes evident that barely anyone respects Aquaman. The police, the average American, and the criminal all view him as a second tier superhero. He is not even taken at his word by a "blogger" about the existence of Atlantis. The man won't even let him eat lunch in peace, he even has the nerve to ask: "How does it feel to be no one's favorite superhero?". Hilarious, pointed commentary and a good mix between fact and fiction.

A lot of number ones set up the story poorly, Aquaman #1 was not one of them. When reading Swamp Thing, I knew that the book was going to be good later, but besides some of the dialogue it was pretty uneventful. Johns did a great job of setting up an ongoing story arc while managing to keep things interesting at the same time. I even thought that Ivan Reis created some great stuff stylistically in terms of the art. Those creepy bottom dwelling fish at the end of the book looked like something straight out of a National Geographic documentary. Specifically, one of those shows about fish that live at the bottom of the ocean in areas so deep that they are not penetrated by light. I am ready for issue two, but hopefully the story itself doesn't become predictable and stays sharp. I will definitely be picking up every issue to see were Johns is going to take Aquaman in the future.

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reaching Across the Aisle: My Review of Ultimate X-Men #1

I have never been much of a Marvel fan. In my youth, before the bars and the women, I read everything I could in comics. Therefore, I do have maybe five hundred Marvel books stashed away that I don't read very often, if ever. I do like X Force (the later issues anyway); I have maybe the first ten issues of one of the newer series. I can remember vaguely that it deals with the genocide of mutantkind, and the characters are the survivors of this ethnic cleansing. So, when I asked the man playing hero clix at the comic store yesterday to find me a marvel book to review, it seemed apropos that he picked Ultimate X-Men #1.

This review is all about my attempt to keep an open mind. Cody Miller writes for this site. I respect him, so I figured that maybe I could try and leave the prejudices behind and discover something new in comics that suited my tastes. Honestly, I wasn't holding out too much hope. I'm barely hanging on to my own DC titles, and in a lot of ways those books are more of a homage to my misguided youth than anything else. But in fairness, the adult comic world has been missing a little something lately, and while that genre is on the decline, DC comics is coming out with new, interesting, and innovative stuff almost every month. And although I personally feel that Sweet Tooth, The Walking Dead, and The Unwritten are the best books out right now, it is unfortunate that the rest of the adult themed field is regrettably concerned with fitting in as many "fucks" in per issue as possible, pages of inanely topless women, and people exploding or being torn to shreds in every other panel.

Back to the matter at hand. The things that I have always hated about Marvel were the stupid jokes that were crammed in to every page, the poorly developed characters, and a certain book about a patriotic super hero decked out in red, white, and blue whose McCarthyesque existence seemed to revolve around felating the people at The Comics Code. The same people who set the medium back about thirty years.

There was an adaptation of The Stand Marvel produced that I had to purchase because of my love for all things The Stand. The lettering in that book looked like Times New Roman font and the thing was slapped together, truly a piece of shit on so many levels. So let's get into Ultimate X-Men #1, and see if the artists and writers at Marvel were able to change my mind.

The book starts with a great opening scene. Nick Spencer develops the setting well, and a father killing his mutant daughter in her sleep merely for being a mutant was a great way to set up the fear and the desperation gripping the majority of Americans in the reality of this book. Now I accept the fact that superhero comics recycle a lot of the same plots. I know that at one point Stan Lee famously said something about how he wanted the appearance of change in Marvel books without actually making major changes. Admittedly, some changes in mainstream comics are bad. Dick Grayson as Batman sucked, and I had to read letters pages month after month that were nothing but a futile ego exercise. It honestly seemed like the editors went through and handpicked letters from every kiss ass idiot talking about how great these new Batman books were when the majority of fans knew this simply wasn't true. The applesauce you tried to feed us did not cover up the taste of the medicine DC. We’re smarter than that.

Back to Ultimate X-Men. I quickly realized that this plot was almost the same as the X-Force plot that I liked back in the day, and it was a huge coincidence considering that the one Marvel title I actually picked up happened to be almost the same book that I was reading now. If you love something, you do not mind the same repeated incantation of the object of your affection. People get married every day. I have seen a lot of the same plots recycled again and again in the DC universe. But at the end of the day, I like a handful of the characters in DC books way better than anything Marvel could ever produce. To me, Marvel characters were always like a Chinese buffet of luke warm food. DC only has six or seven characters that I really like, but they are steak and potatoes, not chewy nasty pieces of General Tso's chicken that are barely edible. I don't want to eat something just because there is a lot of it; quality over quantity.

There was a new twist (new to me anyway). The United States Government initially created mutantkind through Weapon X, and mutants were not a product of evolution; they were not a more evolved version of humanity. I sensed that this aspect of the story may change over time, but I wasn't necessarily happy about that plot change anyway.

At the end of the day, you really have to love superhero books to get excited about them, and most of the time I am reading actual books as opposed to comics because most of the stuff out there just isn't done that well. There are hundreds of titles at my local comic shop and I maybe read eight regularly. I didn't think that Ultimate X-Men #1 was a bad book. The story was recycled. The art was average. In the end, I am going to go with my DC titles for now, but this is not the last Marvel review this fanboy will have written. I am still trying to keep an open mind, and hopefully find something entertaining and new to read in the process.

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Comments on The Madman Presents

“…I will miss Peter….By that I mean it’s not everyday that one of the greatest characters of all time is killed off.”

Spiderman is dead. I don’t follow Marvel. That’s pretty ballsy stuff. Be careful what you wish for, Dick Grayson as Batman was no bueno.

“Lots of Blood-n-Guts as it should be with the Punisher.”

I have no problems with The Punisher. I actually picked up a bunch of the really early issues for dirt cheap at this place in Muncie. I think I have like 5-30 in really good condition that I got for like a buck a pop. Also, I own this Punisher t-shirt that might be the softest shirt in the world.

Amazing Spiderman 669: Spider Island part 3

This story sounds extraordinarily stupid in every way.

By: William R. Davis Jr.

A Love Letter to The Unwritten

With all of this talk surrounding the "new 52" this last month, I thought I would take this opportunity to revisit an old favorite of mine, and one that should be yours as well. The Unwritten is the best book out right now. In terms of creativity and execution Carey and Gross stand above all other writers and artists. It consistently has the best covers and the best writing in the business. And in the land of adult themed comics, it doesn't get by on shock value as is the standard by most adult comic writers these days. The Unwritten explores the world of literature wrapped in a theme of shared consciousness that defines it’s reality. The Kantesque leanings themselves are great on their own, but when you get to read stories involving characters in classic literature, the possibilities and the amazing things that happen within the pages are endless.
Tom Taylor is a fun character as well. His pseudo celebrity persona is well written, and although the exact details behind his true identity have still yet to be revealed, the consistent jabs at the absurdity of obsessive Harry Potter fanboys are welcomed; I think it’s hilarious.
The current story arc is even more interesting because Mike Carey explores the world of comics as literature and tackles the issue of a woman's place in the publishing world at the turn of the 20th century, and Gross has been cranking out beautiful throwback golden age comic covers for the last two months. The last two issues honestly make me feel ashamed that they are bagged, boarded, and cataloged away anonymously in long white comic book boxes. They are in themselves, a form of high art, and I should probably frame them both in order to give them the respect that they truly deserve. The Unwritten is one of the best and most entertaining reads in any medium. I personally own every single issue (and multiples of some of my favorites). Go out and buy the trades. Do it. Worth every penny.

By: William R. Davis Jr.

The Madman Presents

Ultimate Comics Spider Man #1

As a life-long diehard Spidey fan, I’ve been looking forward to this issue. I had to know what having someone other then Peter Parker under the red and blue was like. That’s right, in case you’ve been living on another planet you already know that Peter’s a thing of the past. Although, I will miss Peter, I think the idea of someone else taking the mantle of web head is thought provoking. By that I mean it’s not everyday that one of the greatest characters of all time is killed off.
The new kid on the block is just that; a little black boy named Miles Morales. The plot of this book is mostly just a background and set up for the following comics in the series. I was extremely disappointed that Miles and Peters’ stories almost mirror each other at this point. Why kill off Peter to just replace him with another character with the same powers, same costume, and the same villains? I am anxious to read issue #2 for this reason. I want to see where Bendis is taking this story line before I buy in or judge it too harshly.
The cover was more of the same. I bet I have 100 spidey comics with almost the same cover. Hopefully they’re just saving the best for later.

The Punisher #3

I loved the cover of this book; in fact, all of the artwork was outstanding. It reminded me of Frank Miller’s work, very dark and dreary. There wasn’t much of a plot as the whole book was one long fight scene. I also liked the fact that Castle didn’t say a word the entire book. He didn’t have to. I missed the first two issues so I’ve no idea why the Vulture and Punisher are fighting, but I’m glad they are. I think Rucka’s writing and Marco Hollingsworth’s artwork are going to take this title to wonderful and exciting places, at least I hope so. Lots of Blood-n-Guts as it should be with the Punisher. I will for sure be picking up the next issue.

Random wife comic #1

I had my wife pick me up a random book thinking it would make for an interesting read/review.

Amazing Spiderman 669: Spider Island part 3

I must first say that I’ve been avoiding this series ever since the first spider island was released. I wanted nothing to do with this ridiculous story line and I still don’t. The plot is too fragmented and poorly executed. Pretty much everyone on the island of Manhattan has been bitten by infected bed bugs giving them all spider powers. I’m not kidding. This story line is reminiscent of the clone saga of the 90’s, and we all know how that all came out. Trash. Truthfully I couldn’t even finish half the book I was so pissed. The art is so so. I really liked the cover with the shocker having six arms but that’s the only thing I liked about this book. If you want it you can dig it out of my garbage and make it your own. I actually felt like the more I read of it the dumber I got. The worst part is that it won’t be over until November, but I guess that gives me time and money to explore new titles.

Cody Miller

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Harvey Pekar: How One Man Changed My Life

I have always taken comics seriously. No one that I knew growing up took them seriously, but even as a boy I could remember thinking of the potential that could exist within the pages of a comic book. When I read my first page of American Splendor I realized I was not alone in the world in many ways. His life is full of issues and revelations just like anyone else. Dealing with loneliness, depression, sickness, arguments at work, a trip to the grocery store, American Splendor covered many aspects of everyday life. But he was also a much different man than most, and his uniqueness made the book even more appealing. Harvey was an engineer of truth. This guy could not be anything less than completely genuine, and it was dark, and a wonderful mess, and none of it had ever been done before. Every story about unrequited love, the endless string of shitty jobs, and this broken planet that we are all struggling to navigate in a peaceful way made my life a little bit easier. I felt that after reading his work, meeting this man was now my only priority. I've never wanted anything more than the ability to create something real in an ugly and fake world, and this desire to manifest itself developed only after I read the work of Harvey Pekar.

Finding people that didn't want to be found on the internet was a field that I had some experience in from a previous job. I decided to put my skip tracing abilities to use and search for the man who meant so much to me. What I was shocked to learn was that his number was in the phone book. There it was: "Harvey Pekar, Cleveland Heights Ohio". So naturally I had to call. My girlfriend and I sat together at the cheap sterile lunch table in the break room and I made the call that would forever change my life. To my surprise, he was polite as hell and I was worried about this because of the way his comics read. I had been working on my opus to comicdom "The Death of God" for some time, and he listened patiently to the plot synopsis and told me that it all sounded good.
This was a guy who sold his entire record collection to self-publish his own comic storyboards that were stick figures crudely drawn on notebook paper, they were full of stories about a guy who wanted to get laid but couldn't and worked as a file clerk at a VA hospital, and I respected him immensely as an artist so it meant a lot when he said he thought I had a good idea. Give the masses Ed Hardy T-Shirts and spinning rims on a bouncing car and they will be happy, I wanted to write a more real story that reflected an authentic kind of existence but in the realm of fantasy, and my inspiration to think differently about the way comics can be written came from Harvey. He did it against all odds. And to those who loved American Splendor, these books meant everything. Spiegelman and Eisner wrote serious comics and had inflated egos, but Harvey wrote the same kind of comic with almost no ego at all. In that way the book was completely different than anything that had ever come before.

In Korea, I might not have made it if not for Harvey. Getting started there was the toughest thing in the world. A two year relationship had just ended, and I was sixty pounds overweight and miserable. I would come home at 2 in the morning and talk to Harvey about everything. He was the most humble guy in the world, and this cat had an honorary PHD in depression. No matter how hard I tried to convey the impact that his work was having on people everywhere, he just never understood. He was one of the great writers of our time, and we had entire conversations about orange soda and jazz and easy money. He had more integrity than thirty men. He would listen to me talk about my shitty life for hours and never complained once.

One day in a small Korean office I shed tears for the man who changed everything for me. No other single human being had more of an impact on my life than Harvey. Rest in peace my friend. I hope that you have now found real happiness, and I hope that somehow you are able to see how many lives that were affected by your writing.

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Flashpoint: The Last Major Story Arc in the Old DC Universe

Flashpoint in itself and as a concept intrigued my interest right away. Johns has always written well, so I was sold on Flashpoint from the beginning. I put the order in at the comic shop. I wanted all of it, every single issue. I can't remember of exact amount of number one's, but I was floored by the final price tag. I had to pick through every single issue and pick only the best of the best in order to make the series fit my budget, so here are the meat and potatoes.

Did not Continue:

Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown: This one I was on the fence about. The writing was pretty good. Sweet Tooth is one of my favorite books. I really liked the cover, but in the end, it didn't blow me away. It was really close to surviving until issue two. If I had a little more money to spend, I would have bought them all.

Lois Lane and the Resistance: The imagery in this book was ridiculous. Lois Lane was half-naked in every panel. For that reason alone, I didn't continue the book. There was no explanation or any particular reason to draw her that way, and I'm not going to read a Lois Lane comic because of sex appeal. The fact that it was being forced down my throat made me hate it almost immediately. A little part of me felt like it was insulting my intelligence. No more book.

Secret Seven: I don't even remember what it was about, and never thought about it until I flipped through my books to write this review and saw the cover. I can't speak intelligently on the book, but I honestly didn't remember that it even existed until this moment if that tells you anything.

Kid Flash Lost: Same.

Deadman and the Flying Graysons:
Cool cover, but at the end it didn't leave a lasting impression.

World of Flashpoint: Couldn't afford this one.

Reverse Flash: My mom always told me, well, you know what she said.

Legion of Doom: Generic.

Abin Sur: I liked the Alan Moore reference at the end of the book. Honestly, I was pretty pissed while reading it that it never came up. I think that the death origin of the once great Green Lantern is one of my favorite Moore stories. I was on the fence about this one. Maybe I should’ve picked up the next two issues, but in the end I didn’t buy the sizzle.

Booster Gold: Moot.

Citizen Cold:
Interesting book. I like the angle of the hero manipulating the public for his own benefit. It truly mirrors the society we live in today. The fact that you get more years in prison for stealing a TV than you do for creating a national recession and causing people to lose their homes, is completely ridiculous. Are we in Flashpoint? If Citizen Cold would have been wearing a suit, a tie, and had a corporate jet I would have continued the book.

Batman Knight of Vengeance: I love Batman and Detective Comics, but I didn’t care much for Thomas Wayne. Way to turn Gotham into Reno DC. Maybe if I was listening to the Taxi Driver soundtrack while reading I would have continued the book. Travis Bickle Knight of Vengeance? That would have been a better comic book.


Grodd of War (One shot) : I loved this book. The ending alone is proof that mainstream comics can be written well. Grodd has a moment of peace in an extremely violent world. The final page is him looking off serenely in the distance, and then marching his armies into an unwinnable battle for the continent of Europe. Great suicidal ape tales are hard to find, there are maybe a handful, and this one ranks up there with the best. I personally felt like Sean Ryan also respected the one shot. It was perfect only as a one shot and because of that it was beautiful. It wasn't a series, it was a well executed, thought provoking one shot worth every penny of my $2.99. There is no way I will ever give away or sell my copy of Grodd of War. It is not for sale.

Project Superman:
What is not to love? I was getting so bored with Grounded that this book came exactly at the right time, and I do love Snyder’s work on Detective Comics except for the final issue. It is so disappointing to read a great story arc and then have it end in a lame and contrived way. Seriously, Detective Comics 881 ruined my day. I wanted to go out and find a twelve pack of the cheapest and most disgusting beer in Hammond (Old Style, yeah Old Style), drink it all, and piss all over that book. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, something positive. Sorry. Snyder is a great writer (Almost all of the time. Regardless, I paid my $2.99, it’s still a free country. Wait. What? It cost $3.99. Who drew the line where? I need to find the nearest liquor store. ). Project Superman as a story was perfect for the world of Flashpoint, not Superman as a savior to the human race, but as a state manipulated weapon. And more than that, seeing the most powerful being in the world of comics reduced to a cowering little boy, skinny, cowering in a corner, nothing but a science experiment, great idea, great book. I loved every minute of this one. The characters were great, most notably young Lois Lane. It was really a tender moment when they met for the first time, the character development was really outstanding for a comic book. I could talk about it all day, but no spoilers. Go out and buy the floppies or the trades. You won’t be disappointed.

Emperor Aquaman:
Wow, what a great concept, nature vs. nurture at its finest. I loved seeing Aquaman, one of the greatest heroes in the DC Universe, slowly turn into a genocidal maniac. Help me God, how can I possibly review this book without giving away any spoilers? Well, it was extremely creative and well written. It takes a great writer to make the reader feel sympathy for someone who is trying to wipe out their entire race, even on a fictional level. And it was such a sad story with a great Dr. Strangelove moment at the ending. Beautiful read. Great book all around. Not for sale. Ever. Loved it.

Wonder Woman and the Furies:
You get to find out what the world would look like if Wonder Woman and the Amazonians controlled England and was engaged in a war with another superpower. You get to see a world without Superman there to keep the balance (besides Kingdom Come). There is no Justice League, only a tale about a lost love, a woman manipulated into destroying continents and killing millions. Now tell me that you don’t want to read this book. I mean seriously, the quest for world domination is not a boring subject. I mean, they’ve created board game about it and everything.

Geoff Johns had a great idea. There was a lot to love about Flashpoint, but in the end it lacked focus. What normal human being can afford so many comic books? The story itself was hills and valleys all of the way. There were some really engaging moments, but at the end I had to shrug my shoulders, stick it in a box, and never read the series again. In addition, I thought that the Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Superman series all suffered in the end because they were building up towards this big climax in issue five of Flashpoint. There was just a lot of banality in the whole story. I wish it was a taut and thrilling tale, but it was full of distractions. And it could have been great, it just wasn’t. No one was more disappointed than this guy. I do like what Johns did with Green Lantern, and I’m anxious to see what he does with both Justice League and Aquaman, but this story just didn’t deliver at the end of the day. The ending was predictable and contrived. Even the monologue at the end by Reverse Flash had been done so many times before, and the saddest part was that it had even been done better by other writers in the past. It had the potential to be a great story, but in the end it came off as nothing more than a marketing tool.

Grodd of War
Honorable Mention: Emperor Aquaman
Worst: Lois Lane and the Resistance

By: William R. Davis Jr.