Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Plane! The Plane!

Batman Incorporated
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Color: Nathan Fairbairn
Lettering: Patrick Brosseav

Really? What the hell? There are just way too many turn offs between the covers. I try to be a well-rounded fan boy with a little bit of this and a little bit of that…..and this is how you repay me DC? Shame on you. Robin looks more like Herve Villechaixe from Fantasy Island then a boy wonder. If not Herve, then a dark-haired Chucky. The assassins name is Goat Boy. The main villain is this Crypt Keeper looking chump named Leviathan. Leviathan’s body guards are bat men. Burnham’s bat mobile is the lamest I have ever seen…..bat-cow.
There were a few things that tickled my fancy. There was a brief Silence of the Lambs moment (I love that movie) when Leviathan makes this jerk eat his own brother. That’s just freaky. No one wants to eat his own brother. I also liked the part when Goat Boy with rocket rifle in hand and X’s in his eyes shoots the “Boy Wonder” in the brains (at least he didn’t dress up like a goat for nothing). The best page in this comic is the full page advertisement for the season premiere of Falling Skies on June 17 ( I also love this show). I’ll be there sans the Boy Wonder. It just goes to show that if you walk around barefoot sooner or later, you’ll step in dog shit.

The Savage Hawkman #9
Writers: Rob Liefeld and Mark Poulton
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Art Thibest
Colors: Jason Wright

I know, I know. I reviewed a few issues of Hawkman a while back. I hated it. I even said I’d never buy another issue. Well, I lied ( about the buying not the sucking). I never stopped reading. I couldn’t. I had to see just how bad it was going to get….and it got real bad. Unbearable at times. The story lines sucked. The art was lame. That was then and this is now. Issue nine heralds a new beginning. Daniel and Bonny are out. Rob Liefeld and Mark Poulton are here to save the day. The art is fantastic and the writing is engaging. Someone at DC must have read my previous posts and took them to heart, and decided to make a change…’re welcome world….you’re welcome.
I only have two DC titles on my pull list The Savage Hawkman and Resurrection Man. I plan on catching up on Aquaman and Green Arrow in the trades, other then that unless Frank Miller comes back to Gotham, DC can kiss me in the Goat Man.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Marvel Premiere #41

Writer: Doug Moench
Art: Tom Sutton
Cover: Dave Cockrum & Joe Sinnott

Every year for Free Comic Book Day, the shop I frequent (Books, Comics, and Things in Fort Wayne Indiana plugplug) has additional sales and promos which will unfailingly draw me in. This year BCT had 4-5 longboxes set out that you could paw through hoping to find some hidden gem. I found some decent freebies after sifting through an inordinate amount of Image and Valiant detritus such as a few issues of Marvel's 70s Red Sonja series, Marvel Fanfare, some DC books reprinting Ra's al Ghul stories from Batman, and this lonely issue of Marvel Premiere. Marvel Premiere was one of the many spotlight books the company had in the 70s & 80s that was intended as a pilot of sorts for stories and characters that didn't merit their own solo books, but might someday if enough fans supported the story. Adam Warlock had a feature, as did Dr. Strange and Iron Fist. So did characters like Paladin, Woodgod, and the Legion of Monsters, so it's kind of a crapshoot. The kind I will always roll the dice on.

So, when the lonely issue of Marvel Premiere batted it's orphaned eyes at me on that fateful day I couldn't resist. Okay, I thought this might be a turd when I picked it up. The cover seduced me. A 70s sci fi starscape with what appears to be two starship Enterprises crammed together to make one giant starship Enterprise was the first thing I saw. Second, the title reading 'Marvel Comics Group Marvel Premiere featuring Seeker 3000! (exclamation theirs) Third, the cover was credited to Dave Cockrum and Joe Sinnott.

Upon reading, I was not surprised to find this comic did not become a mega-hit. Or any hit. Our premise is fairly formulaic science fiction fare, telling us the tale of a far flung future where our sun is going to go supernova and destroy mankind. The Seeker 3000! (exclamation mine) is a ship that The Six, who are Earth's autocratic rulers, have constructed to carry cell samples of all their minions and sycophants to a new solar system, settle a new habitable world, and clone the selected populace of Earth. The crew of the Seeker 3000! (I'll stop now...) is introduced and they too are fairly archetypical of the genre. We've twins of African descent, one male, one female, who serve as "solar engineer, physicist, and second in command...terraformist, life-scientist, cryonics and cloning engineer", a host of nameless, faceless background crewmen, and a "behavioral scientist, medic and stress-psychologist" who I can only assume is native American due to the fact that he is inked with a reddish hue and is named John Bear. Our captain is, of course, a square jawed blond white boy.

Captain Jordan Shaw, our aforementioned Aryan captain, reveals The Six's sinister plan to repopulate mankind's new home with puppets of their own choosing and offers instead to rebel and repopulate mankind's new home with people he has chosen instead. From a random sampling of scientists, philosophers, humanitarians, Playboy bunnies and heavy metal rock musicians*.The crew agrees with a resounding "Go!" and we're off to rescue a telepathic, precognitive telekinetic mutant that will serve to power the Seeker 3000s warp drive. Unfortunately our heroes are dogged at every turn by The Six's Prime Servant, Jason.
That's right, the primary antagonist of the story is just some fella named Jason. Tremble, mortals, tremble...
Unsurprisingly, our heroes rescue the mutant (who turns out to be a hot chick), power up the Seeker 3000, escape the clutches of the evil Jason, and blast off!

Jason gets the last laugh, as he programmed the ships computer to have his personality. It won't rebel or anything, we're assured, it'll just have the personality of a priggish dead villain.
Way to stick it to 'em, Jason.

So, we warp off to find new life, new civilizations, and boldly never be seen in a comic book again. This whole book seemed like a filler story from an anthology series. Moench has done MUCH better work on things like Master of Kung Fu and Deathlok, and Sutton does good work, but check out some of his other horror or sci fi art. It was free, a hokey, fun read, and I've paid real money for garbage Jeph Loeb has written, so I can't really bitch too much.

But I wouldn't recommend you buy this unless your a collector of the writer or artists. Or you really like bad science fiction. Honesty, they all but admit that this is a Star Trek rip off in one of the editorials in the book which states that they've always been disappointed that the comic book right for Star Trek have been held by another company, so they made Seeker 3000.
As an interesting postscript, Seeker 3000 was apparently revived in a late 90s miniseries as part of an attempt by Marvel to introduce a science fiction line of comics. I'm morbidly curious as to how this miniseries is, but I don't believe I'll be paying any money for it.
I'm hoping it'll be in a longbox, next year on Free Comic Book Day.

By: Will Dubbeld

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Seven Questions with Keeper writer Geoffrey Wessel

This week I get a chance to interview Keeper writer Geoffrey Wessel. Keeper is a crime/mystery comic, that's as bloody as it is brilliant (cockney pun intended). One of England's most notable keepers happens to get a little stabby at night, chippy proprietors better be on the lookout because killing is Scott Winslow's business and business is good. Geoffrey Wessel was kind enough to answer some questions about his awesome new read, and at The Hammond Comics Blog we couldn't be happier.

William: Is Keeper going to be a limited or ongoing series? How many issues of the book do you plan on publishing?

Geoffrey: As of right now, I have KEEPER planned as 6-8 issues. I'm of the opinion that stories should have a definitive beginning, middle and end, so no, I can't see myself milking fifty issues out of KEEPER. And it's diminishing returns, isn't it, when you have characters like Scott, the longer it goes on, the more ridiculous and far-fetched it becomes for him to keep getting away with it, isn't it? So, yeah, there will be an ending; there will be a reckoning.

William: Soccer is not the most well received sport in America. Are there any worries about the popularity of the sport becoming a detriment to the book?

Geoffrey: Luckily, thanks to the magic of the internet, America doesn't have to be the sole market for KEEPER. That being said, yeah, it's a hindrance, but mostly when it comes to convincing publishers to go for it. Thankfully there's always new alternatives cropping up for how to sell comics in 2012. It really is a new frontier. But we already knew KEEPER would be a tough sell all over going into it. It's not a soccer comic, per se, it really is a crime story, taking place within the world of soccer.

William: There is a symbol on the cover of Issue One that Scott Winslow has been leaving on his victims. As of yet there is not explanation of the origin. Are you able to explain the meaning of that symbol here, or are you planning on revealing that in future issues?

Geoffrey: It's part of the mystery, but it will be explained.

William: Scott Winslow seems to be a pretty level headed character despite his homicidal tendencies. He also seems to be harboring delusions of grandeur about wanting to be remembered as a historic figure. What are his psychological motives for adopting his alter ego?

Geoffrey: It's good you've picked up on that, I think you might be the first one to have said so! But again, wait and see, you'll find out his motives.

William: After only two issues the police seem to be hot on the trial of Scott Winslow. How is he going to be able to stay one step ahead of the police in future issues of Keeper?

Geoffrey: If I told you, there wouldn't be any reason to read KEEPER now would there? Still, yes, you'll see what happens. Scott may NOT be one step ahead after a certain point. Maybe.

William: Who are your influences as a writer?

Geoffrey: Too many to list with any coherence. Comics wise, y'know, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, 2000AD, the usual suspects. I learned a lot about constructing decent crime stories from Brian Azzarello and Jason Aaron in particular. Irvine Welsh, Chuck Palahniuk, William Gibson, Douglas Adams, Bret Easton Ellis... but I read a lot, so everything is an influence one way or another. I just hope none of them are TOO obvious!

William: When can we expect issue 2 of Keeper to hit comic store shelves?

Geoffrey: Well, unfortunately since neither (artist) Jeff Simpson nor myself are getting paid to make KEEPER at the moment, we really only can release one page per week. We're in the final 5 pages of Issue 2 however, so I'd say it'll be probably Fall earliest when we have a print version of Issue 2 ready to go. But we might have something else ready beforehand. Stay tuned.

We want to thank Geoffrey Wessel for agreeing to answer some questions about his heady new comic. Keeper is into it's second issue and new pages are released weekly. You can pick up issues zero and one here: They are also available to read online. I'll talk to you guys next week. Have a great holiday, and stay classy dickheads.

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Human City

Creator, writer, and illustrator: Gavin Smith
Pages 15-22 writer: Orion Zangara

I believe it was a random trip to my local comic emporium when there was a happening, well, not so much of a happening, more like Gavin Smith with a table set up selling copies of his brain-child Human City. After looking through his sketchbook and some friendly banter, I learned that he was from “Clown Town” also……small world. I eagerly handed over the four bucks for a signed copy. I would gladly hand over four bucks for an unsigned copy of issue two…right now. I’m a believer.
The story is about Mitch Williams and a baby. Mitch, once a member of E.L.E.M.E.N.T. (emergency law enforcement meta-enemy neutralization team) is the last remaining super hero. He has inherited the baby who happens to be mankind’s last hope for survival. Mitch’s mission is to get said baby from NYC to LA.
Oh yeah, I guess I forgot to mention that a real bastard, Dr. Neil Stalker, had unleashed his “mutant virus” on the world. Yeah afraid so, everyone’s been turned into blood thirsty deformed mutants. I’m not talking about X-Men mutants. I’m talking about grossly deformed lump headed mutants. Picture that freaky hunch back from 300 crossed with Sloth from The Goonies and add a dash of elongated fingers, pusy cancerous growths, and if you’re lucky, a tentacle tongue straight out of Species……follow?
There could actually not be any story or words for that matter and I’d still love this book. The artwork is freaking awesome. The details are mind-blowing. Every time I look at a page, I am finding things I missed before. Orion Zangara’s pin-up is worth the four bucks if nothing else. Remember, it’s a keeper. You heard it here first.

By Cody "Madman" Miller

Monday, May 21, 2012

2000 AD prog 1775

All in all, in my experience, the Brits do a pretty good job at crafting memorable and entertaining Science Fiction. From franchises like Dr. Who, The Prisoner, Red Dwarf, Quatermass, and Dan Dare to prolific comic writers/authors like Neil Gaiman, Alans Grant, Moore, and Davis, Grant Morrison, the British have a continued tradition of innovative and noteworthy storytelling within the genre.
One of the launching points for many of Britain's comic artists and writers is a magazine called 2000 AD. Launched in 1977 and having over 1,800 issues, it's fair to say that 2000 AD has contributed a great deal to the comic world in both volume and in the caliber of its contributors. Dave Gibbons, Mark Millar, Carlos Ezquerra, and a host of others have contributed and creations of the magazine include Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog, and Sláine the Berserker.
Anyone who immediately thought of a curly-lipped Judge Dredd fighting Armand Assante deserves to burn in blackest Rob Schneider hell, by the way.
I used to pick up American reprints of old 2000 AD stories that Eagle Comics and Quality Comics had produced and seemingly placed directly in the Quarter Bin of my comic shop. Having been originally been 4-5 page serials in an anthology book, these stories dispensed with the foreplay and were nearly cover to cover action. Later in life, having learned the origin of these sci-fi adventures and having been convinced to start ordering out of Previews, I started getting 2000 AD and revisiting my old friends Judge Dredd and Johnny Alpha.

First story:
Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos, pt. 11
Script: John Wagner
Art: Henry Flint

To those unfamiliar with Judge Dredd, it's essentially a cop story. That takes place in a totalitarian society in a dystopian future. With a tough as nails street judge who never takes his helmet off. Ever.
This tale finds our titular hero embroiled in a citywide battle with an anarchic terrorist group intent on releasing a virulent bioweapon in Dredd's Mega-City One.
Having followed the story for most of its' 11 parts and counting, author Wagner is doing a solid job balancing action and episodic storytelling, no surprise considering he co-created the character in 1977 and has been writing it ever since. The art is fairly good, slightly reminiscent of Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns and well suited to the dystopian, almost Neo-noir atmosphere of Judge Dredd's world.

Second story:
The Zaucer of Zilk, pt. 1
Script: Brendan McCarthy & Al Ewing
Art: Brendan McCarthy

This is an interesting piece. It opens with a mildly psychedelic street setting depicting a dispossessed youth wandering through a rainy cityscape. A prose narration invites us to follow the youth through his drudging existence. He meets a surreal Luciferian fellow in a dilapidated sweet shop who invites him to eat some apple candy. The youth, much to the chagrin of the proprietor of the shop, grabs another confection and runs back into the street. He eats the candy and finds himself transported to another realm , wearing a garish costume and accompanied by a woman in a fur coat with what appears to be a propellor on her head and another fellow that I could only describe as a bald, blue, midget version of McGruff the Crime Dog. Wearing a purple suit.
Wacky Brits...
There's an obvious Alice in Wonderland nod in the opening chapter (or a Matrix nod if you wanted to lowbrow it), and hopefully this serial will continue to spiral maddeningly.

Third story:
Flesh: Midnight Cowboys, pt. 2
Script: Pat Mills
Art: James McKay

This is one of the best ideas in comics. The premise of Flesh is thus: In the 23rd Century, livestock are extinct and man is tired of eating synthetic foodstuffs. The solution?Send the cattlemen of the future back in time to the Cretaceous Period, round up dinosaurs, butcher them and sent the meat to the future.
I could stop reviewing now and be satisfied.
But it gets better.
Evidently the villain of the series is a jet black tyrannosaurus Rex with a '666' brand/scale pattern and is named Gorehead.
If this wasn't enough, when Gorehead attacks the herd of dinosaurs being driven by our time traveling cowboys they attempt to drive him off by putting smaller dinosaurs through a meat grinder/gun and firing chum at the offending T-rex. The intent is that other predators will be attracted to Gorehead and kill him in a feeding frenzy.
This is too ludicrous not to like. I look forward to future installments.

Fourth story:
Age of the Wolf II: She is Legend, pt. 4
Script: Alec Worley
Art: Jon Davis-Hunt

In 2016, the Earth finds itself under a permanent full moon and scores of werewolves begin to appear. The resulting comic reads a bit like a survival horror story with werewolves replacing zombies in the apocalypse. A group of rag-tag heroes struggles to...well, you know the drill. I do like the fact that our archetypical tough as nails leader of the group is a younger woman with a red hood.
Aside from the initial premise being a new one, this storyline has yet to really engage me. The art and colors are very crisp and the pacing is fine, I just haven't warmed up to the script.

Fifth story:
Nikolai Dante: The Dante Gambit, pt. 2
Story: Robbie Morrison
Art: John Burns

From what I've been able to gather about the Nikolai Dante universe it takes place in the 27th century where a bastard heir to the crown raises a rebel army to topple an evil tsar and his tyrannical empire. Fairly cliche and formulaic, but certainly entertaining and the character design is outstanding. It draws on Russian imagery and iconography and does a great job of blending archaic design with futuristic technology. I think my favorite example of this has to be the imperial palace, which is a giant floating Faberge egg with laser turrets.
This particular installment of the Dante saga takes place after his successful coup as he sets his mother's funeral pyre ablaze, followed by his paramour discussing with Nikolai how best to rebuild the empire. The story ends with the reveal that Dante's evil brother has survived the coup and has designs on the throne...
This hasn't been a bad installment, mostly due to the costume and background design, and the character of Dante himself. He's your archetypical ne'er do well rogue in the vein of Errol Flynn and Han Solo. The guy that every guy wants to be and every girl wants to sleep with. The story is even peppered with excerpts from his biography which is titled, 'Nikolai Dante: Too Cool To Kill'.

For having 4-5 serial per weekly issue, 2000 AD is chock full of ludicrous, usually over the top sci fi action and still manages to convey some relatively good storytelling. All in all, this book is definitely worth my £2.35 a week. I'm really not sure how much money that is in 'Merican monies, but I think it equates to about six bucks give or take. The big selling point for me is the book is ad-free with the exception of a plug for a Judge Dredd vs. Zombies phone app game.
Which is free, and pretty fun actually. 2000 AD will remain on my pull list, providing some much needed juvenile sci-fi escapism that guarantees to be event and crossover free.

By: Will "Money for Nothing and Chicks for Free" Dubbeld

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Seven Questions with God Hates Astronauts Creator Ryan Browne

This week I get a chance to interview God Hates Astronauts creator Ryan Browne. God Hates Astronauts might be the funniest book out right now. Hell, I even drove all the way to Mokena on Free Comic Book day and stood in a 30 minute long line just to meet this guy. This cat isn't a ride at Great America, but he might be the funniest and most innovate comic creator on the planet right now. To prove it I have the God Hates Astronauts shot glasses, the shirt, multiple copies of issues one and two, and an awesome sketch of The Anti-Mugger that I had framed. File your restraining order now sir. Honestly, I cannot verbally felate the man enough. Mr Browne also created another hilarious read: Blast Furnace, and is currently doing some great artwork for the IDW series Smoke and Mirrors.

William: Who influences you both as a writer and artistically?

Ryan Browne: The creators that inspire me the most through their art are Geof Darrow, Rob Schrab, Mike Allred, John Paul Leon, Fiona Staples and James Jean. Personally I find a lot of inspiration from the writers and artists that I know and work with. Seeing the creative process of others makes me excited to contribute my own work to the group.

William: Carl Winslow and Montel Williams both make appearances in God Hates Astronauts. Are you going to grace us with any vintage TV actor cameos in the future?

Ryan Browne: Not really planning on it at this point. Both Carl and Montel have special places in my heart. I was a guest on the Montel Williams show (long story) and Carl Winslow finds his way into every single book I make. He is currently appearing as a security guard in Smoke and Mirrors issue 1.

William: Blast Furnace is a book that you worked on for a period of six months, drawing one page a day. What gave you the idea to create Blast Furnace using this format?

Ryan Browne: That was inspired by a couple of frustrations. First, I was starting to get regular paid work so pages of God Hates Astronauts were few and far in between. Due to the growing frustration of fans wanting regular updates, I thought it would be a good idea to have some sort of quicker and more frequent out pour of silly throw away jokes- thus Blast Furnace was born. Second, I realized that working on GHA and spending so so so much time on the art, I wasn't telling as much story as I wanted to tell. Doing it in a more immediate fashion, since that's how I prefer to write, seemed like a good solution to me.

William: The Power Persons 5 is a supergroup funded by NASA whose main purpose is to stop private astronauts from attempting space travel. We have not seen much of this in the plot thus far. Is this a storyline that you're going to explore more in the future?

Ryan Browne: That's the idea. When the trade paperback of the first three issues comes out I am toying with the idea of inserting more scenes that kind of bring that concept to the fore-front. Since issue one is three pages shorter than issues two and three, I wouldn't be surprised if you see me George Lucas in a few pages for the trade.

William: The Anti-Mugger is hands down my favorite character. In the issue three teaser released online he quits and leaves The Power Persons Five. Is this the end of The Anti-Mugger in God Hates Astronauts?

Ryan Browne: No. The Anti-Mugger is here to stay! I'm not sure what his role will be, or what comes of the mutated baby arm on his chest, but I'm sure it will be sweet.

William: Tell us more about your work on Smoke and Mirrors. Also, are there any other projects with IDW in the works?

Ryan Browne: Smoke and Mirrors is a good exercise for me working out of my comfort zone. It's much more story and character driven than anything I have ever worked on before. It is the first book (as far as we know) that actually does magic for the reader which has been a fun challenge for me as an artist and as a person who knows nothing about magic. Thankfully I'm not working alone on this book. It is written by long time friend and amazing writer Mike Costa and features magic tricks that are engineered by the world famous slight of hand magician, Jon Armstrong. At this point the mini-series will end at issue 5, but depending on the success of the trade paperback, there is a possibility for more stories in the world of Smoke and Mirrors.

William: When can we expect God Hates Astronauts issue 3 to hit comic store shelves?

Ryan Browne: I will be finishing GHA issue three as soon as Smoke and Mirrors wraps up (probably in July) and then I have some great plans to make an amazingly fun trade paper back collection with tons and tons of extras and guest artists- all of which will hopefully be funded via kickstarter.

We want to thank Ryan Browne for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk about his work. Check out the link below. You can read God Hates Astronauts online for free, but I highly encourage you to pick up both issues through the site and reward Ryan Browne for his amazing contribution to the world of comics. Blast Furnace is a must read and is also for sale as well. Smoke and Mirrors issues one and two can be purchased at your local comic shop right now. Go get you some today. As an added bonus, I'm going to dip into my personal stash and kick down issues one and two to the first person to write "God Hates Astronauts" on our Facebook wall. If you do not "like" us on the book, the link is below. Take it easy losers. I'll get at you again next week. And a special thanks once again to Chicago's finest, Ryan Browne.

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Full Moon Under Jupiter…..?

Truthfully, I can’t think straight right now. For the past five long days I have been, under no fault of my own, been chained to the misery that we all lovingly refer to as “acute viral nasopharyingtis”.
There is a cocktail of man-made miracles burning through my system:
Sore Throat: Acetaminophen (Check)

Coughing: Dextromethorphan HBR (Check) I love this one…..Dextro-Meth-Orphan. It sounds like a good name for a death metal pop band.

Nasal Congestion: Phenylephrine HCI (Check)

Sneezing, Runny Nose: Doxylamine Succinate (Check)

Mucus: Guaifenesin (Check)

At least there isn’t a waterfall ragging out of my ass anymore. The point of all this really is to simply explain why I’m just staring blankly at this stack of comics on the coffee table. I had a couple of cool new books that I wanted to write about too. And now there is a raping granny on America’s Got Talent. This is hopeless. I surrender.
Okay jerks you want to hear some reviews, here you go:

Frankenstein Alive, Alive! Written by Steve Niles and Illustrated by Bernie Wrightson (good ole’ Bernie) was a solid book.

The new Ennis book Fury was really good. Garth and Goran Parlov worked on the Punisher Max book and look how that turned out.

Night of 1,000 Wolves. Written by Bobby Curnow and arted by Dave Wachter. The story is about exactly what they advertise. The artwork is off the hook. Best book of the week.

Now leave me alone (until I feel better at least).


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rocketeer Adventures 2, #2

Stories: Tom Taylor, Paul Dini, Walter Simonson
Art: Colin Wilson, Bill Morrison, John Paul Leon
Pinup by J. Scott Campbell

Created in 1982 by writer/artist Dave Stevens, The Rocketeer was Stevens' love letter to the Pulp genre and film serials of yesteryear. Indeed, The Rocketeer reads like a Saturday matinee from the '40s was torn from the silver screen and folded into a comic book. Reluctant hero and titular character Cliff Secord is an amateur pilot and barnstormer who finds a top secret rocket pack and straps it to his back with the intent of fighting gangsters and Nazis. Coupled with G-Men, "gee whiz" supporting characters, and a girlfriend modeled after Betty Page, The Rocketeer enjoyed moderate, if sporadic success including a campy (albeit enjoyable) big screen adaptation and a crappy Nintendo game.
Sadly Dave Stevens died in 2008, a victim of leukemia, but not before seeing his work enjoy widespread recognition.
Thankfully, in the years since his passing, IDW Publishing has not let the property stagnate and has continued to produce original works and reprints of Stevens' legacy. Rocketeer Adventures is something of an all-star jam book, drawing writers and artists to create a compilation book of stories, and is now on it's second miniseries.
This issue brings us three self contained stories, the first of which is something of a morality tale and finds our hero in a muddy WWII battlefield, facing a Third Reich steampunk contraption bristling with guns and anti-American sentiment.
The second short is more of a humor piece, focusing on Cliff's paranoia and jealousy about his actress/nude model girlfriend and what happens when she's away on shoots. I suppose if I were some hapless shlub from the 1930s with an inexplicably hot pinup girl for a main squeeze, I might have some insecurities as well. Especially if Nazis were always trying to steal my rocket pack. So, Cliff decides to don his art deco helmet and take to the skies, flying to his girlfriend Betty's movie shoot in order to spy on her. Zaniness ensues and, suffice to say, our hero ends up with a large soda dumped on his head courtesy of his indignant ladylove.
Pulp dames...
The third and final story sees The Rocketeer involved in foiling the kidnapping of a Hollywood star. I'd noticed a trend in these books that Cliff seems to get embroiled in altercations frequently due to the deus ex machina of our hero being in the wrong place at the right time. This is no exception as Cliff is awaiting a Hollywood premier and the kidnapping attempt unfolds RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM! A few high flying pages of our hero punching out kidnappers later and the kidnappee is rescued and revealed to be none other than golden age film star...
Hey, go buy the book sucker.
The final feature is a pinup from artist J. Scott Campbell featuring The Rocketeer flying over the horizon with the lovely Betty in his arms.
This is a pretty solid book, and I would recommend it to anyone enamored with the Pulp genre. This is an entirely biased opinion, as I myself am enamored with the Pulp genre. And giant vegetable monsters, but I digress...
The writing is brought to us by Tom Taylor (The Authority, Dark Horse's Star Wars books), Paul Dini (DC Animated universe, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City video games) and legendary Walt Simonson (what, you don't know who Walt Simonson is? Clean your desk out, you're fuckin' fired).
Art is courtesy of Colin Wilson (Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Losers), Bill Morrison (co-founder of Bongo Comics), J. Scott Campbell (Danger Girl, Gen13) and John Paul Leon (Earth X).
As far as I'm concerned, that's a helluva pedigree for a book, and they all do Dave Stevens justice here.

By: Will Dubbeld

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Free Comic Book Day Run Down

This is the first free comic book day that I have been able to celebrate since 2009. For the past couple years I taught English in South Korea, and while comic books are plentiful in the land of the morning calm, none of them are in English, and none of them are free. 2009 brought the Blackest Night sereis debut book, and I was hoping for something of that caliber this year. I ended up hitting two different shops, and picked up nine free books. This week I decided to give you the run down on every book that I was able to grab from the hands of the 40 something mom crowd that gorge themselves on every free tidbit they are thrown. It's funny that the majority of the people that you see in the shops on FCBD do not really read comics, but they do like free shit. I suppose that the point is to attract new readers and sell a bunch of books, but the sad reality is that the day after I always see the same crowd back in the shops again. I'm sure many of these free books were glanced at and then tossed in the trash a week later, but I did happen to see a ton of young kids grabbing as many back issue supe books as their little hands could hold. In that aspect, I'm sure that FCBD is a retailer's dream come true. Here we go, I will give you a few quick hits, rate the book, and at the end pick a best and worst from my stack of freebies.

The Hypernaturals- The Hypernaturals is a sci-team team up book featuring a group of heroes that protect society. This is obviously not a new concept, but Dan Abnett was writing so I figured that it could take the team book to some place a little different. The finished product was a pretty sub-par effort. Nothing new or exciting within the pages of this one. There was one little part that I enjoyed where an ex Hypernatural ordered a gin and milk. This one isn't going anywhere near my pull list. 4/10

Ultimate Spider-Man- I'm not a spider-man fan, at all. The lame jokes and pussiness of Spidey (Madman is going to ream me for this) have always made me hate his books. Ultimate Spider-man seemed to be geared towards the younger fisher price my first comic crowd. It was a rehashing of the Spider-Man origin story with even lamer jokes because it was being marketed to children. It probably accomplishes exactly what it was trying to do, but I'm not six and Spider-Man sucks ass so I couldn't get through this one any quicker. 0/10

Valiant 2012- Never really read any Valiant books. Both stories were short but very entertaining. X-O Man of War had some good looking art, and since I was not all that familiar with the old series it left me wanting more. Harbinger was a little less enjoyable but still a pretty good read. It didn't make my pull list, but this was the first book that I enjoyed so far on any level. 7/10

Bad Medicine- A mystery book with some great art and characterization, this one made the cut. Bad Medicine has the distinction of being the first book that made my pull list. The story was a little confusing and took some rereading but it had an awesome cliffhanger ending. Very entertaining read, appropriately funny, great effort by Oni Press. 9/10

Graphic Elvis- This one was a graphic tribute to the King of Rock and Roll. There were a lot of great quotes and art in this book. Bob Dylan, Sinatra, Keith Richards, and Stan Lee all in one comic. Not bad. This is not a ongoing series, merely a preview, but I would buy this book if I liked Elvis more. Really innovative and interesting. 8/10

Moomin Valley Turns Jungle- This one is a kids book, but if I had a kid they would be reading this hopefully and not that shitty Spider-Man comic. Light and funny with great art. This one definitely made me chuckle more than once. I found it visually pleasing and very entertaining. Great for ages 5-12. 7/10

Bongo Comic- Most notably, Bongo Comics produces The Simpsons comic. You will not find a bigger Simpsons fan out there. My friend The Gooch and I can have entire conversations constructed completely from Simpsons quotes. However, I have never read the comic. The truth is that it's really hard to turn a show like The Simpsons into an interesting comic book. They generally dumb it down and stick it in drug stores marketed to kids as an impulse buy. Surprisingly enough, the book was really funny . This contribution was right up there with the show. There was another short called My First Peso, an autobiographical piece that I absolutely loved. This one was a lot of fun to read. There was a Sponge Bob short as well, but I fucking hate Sponge Bob so it went unread. 8/10

Anti- Awesome story about a coming apocalypse and demon hunting. The plot seemed a little on the Supernatural rip-off side, but it was really well executed. The art was great. I would definitely put this one on my pull list. The short named Ride was absolutely amazing. Ride was a dark little tale about a guy that picked up this girl at a key party, and then when she wouldn't put out he killed her and drowned her in the car. Really creepy and sociopath laden awesomeness. I want both of these books. Well done 12-Gauge. 9.5/10

Wtichblade- I've never been a fan of Witchblade, and I did not like the reboot. Average, average, average. The art was good, but I rushed through this one and will never give it a second thought again. Why did I pick up this book? Greed. Shame on me. 4/10

Best Free Book- Anti/Ride

Worst Free Book- Witchblade

Honorable Mention- Bad Medicine

By: William R. Davis Jr.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Shadow #1

Writer: Garth Ennis
Art: Aaron Campbell

The past few years I've noticed that the comic world has been releasing more books from the classic Pulp genre into the market. Green Hornet has made his return to the comic world, as have The Rocketeer, Doc Savage, and a myriad of lesser known properties from Moonstone Books (Domino Lady, The Bat, The Spider, The Avenger, et al). Marvel got in on it with their Marvel Noir series and The Twelve, and of course Dark Horse's Hellboy has been doing battle against Lovecraftian Horrors with super-science for years. DC took a crack at it with the First Wave title, and they've arguably had the most prolific Pulp character consistently published, The Batman.
I am a big fan of the Pulp genre, probably stemming from repeated childhood viewings of Raiders of the Lost Ark, so the return of The Shadow to comics pleased me to no end. The Shadow is one of the oldest Pulp characters, first appearing in print in 1931 and since appearing pulps, comic strips, radio and television serials but had not had a solo title since the mid-nineties. Thankfully, Dynamite Entertainment saw fit to remedy that and premiered a brand new Shadow book penned by none other than Garth Ennis. Those familiar with Ennis' work may only be familiar with his more over the top books with gratuitous sex and violence, such as The Pro, his Nick Fury and Punisher Marvel MAX books, The Boys, and what is probably his magnum opus, Preacher. Ennis is also known for his fairly well-researched historical pieces like Battlefields, Enemy Ace, and, to a lesser degree, Adventures in the Rifle Brigade and Phantom Eagle. After reading the first issue of The Shadow, it just may prove to be a melange of Ennis' trademark violence and a period piece.
The book opens with an account of atrocities visited upon Chinese citizens by the Japanese during their occupation of mainland China from 1931 and 1945, and then turns to our titular character engaging in that tried and true Pulp adage: fighting goons against the nighttime backdrop of the dock district. I had high hopes for this book, and they were not dashed. Page seven shows us the first full reveal of The Shadow with cape and trenchcoat, wide-brimmed fedora, flowing red scarf, and twin .45s.
Enter gratuitous violence.
The remainder of the book shows us snippets of The Shadow's alter ego, Lamont Cranston, having lunch with some government officials regarding The Shadow's waterfront massacre and the bodies of Japanese intelligence agents found at the scene. We're finally shown another nighttime scene at Cranston's penthouse balcony with his female companion, Margo Lane. The exchange between the two shows us that Lane is entirely subordinate, submissive and potentially a feckless damsel in distress. Granted, this too is a tried and true Pulp adage, but I'd rather see a bit more chutzpah in our female lead. if nothing else their exchange provides us some insight into The Shadow's idiosyncrasies and shows us the potential he has to be a cackling madman, pouncing from the darkness with guns blazing.
The only flaw with this book (other than Margo Lane's poor introduction) is it seems entirely too short. It clocks in at around 22 pages, which is sadly about par for comics these days, but the pacing of the book makes it seem much shorter. It's essentially three acts of roughly seven pages each that pass so quickly you wonder where the book went. Aaron Campbell's art is very well suited here and ,combined with Carlos Lopez's colors, gives the reader a dark and murky landscape perfectly crafted for a Pulp/Noir story. I'll definitely keep this book on my pull list.
As a side note, the last four pages of the book are a preview of the 6th issue of Kirby: Genesis.
I hate hate hate this.
Evidently the Jack Kirby estate licensed some of his unpublished works, sketches and plot outlines, to Dynamite Entertainment and have let Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross run wild with them. I like the work of both Ross and Busiek, but I absolutely despise the practice of unearthing hidden works from artists and exploiting them under the pretense of letting the world see, for the first time anywhere, these forgotten gems.
Garbage. It's akin to Rick Ruben humping Johnny Cash's corpse in order to squeeze out a few more posthumous albums or shoehorning Bruce Lee into the last 20 minutes of Game of Death. Had this been Kirby's magnum opus, and had he tragically died mid-production, I could understand this book. However, the character designs look like rehashed Fourth World material and Alex Ross' artistry does not evoke Jack Kirby's dynamic Four Color style. It seems like a cheap pretense to cash in on King Kirby's legacy.
I'll be in my room, reading Destroyer Duck and old issues of Mister Miracle if you need me.

By: Will Dubbeld

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Battle Royale with Cheese

AvX Vs #1

Marvel has taken the fights out of Avengers vs. X-Men and expanded on them here. No plot just non-stop face pounding action.
Match #1 The Invincible Iron Man vs. Magneto
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Adam Kubert
Color: Morry Hollowell
Letters: Joe Caramagna

When I first heard about this fight I was interested. Not because I’m a huge fan of Iron Man or Magneto, but because it is Iron Man vs. Magneto. Like most people, the first thought was…..How in the hell is this even a fight? I knew Stark would bring the tech but would it be enough? As it turns out, Iron Man should really be named Carbon Nanotube Man. That’s too bad. Part of me wanted to see Magneto crush Iron Man like a tin can. As long as it’s well done I wouldn’t mind at all. Sadly, all fate handed me was Magneto dropping a utopia tower on him. Iron Man countered with a neodymium super magnet swarm. Epic fail.
The fight moves into space. Stark uses his satellites to blast Magneto. The two bash it out a few more times than it seemed Magneto realized that their battle was really nothing when compared to the bigger battle to come….. He just kind of gave up. Avengers 1 X-Men 0

Match #2 Thing vs. Namor
Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Art: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: Jim Charalampidis

I was a little less excited for this one. Again, the only reason I even cared at all was because of the fact that I really hate Namor. I’ve never been nor will I ever be on the Namor band wagon. I can’t say the same about the Thing. I own quite a few books with the Thing in it; my favorite being the old Marvel two-in-ones I have.
This time I got my way. Thing thrashes Namor so bad that Aquaman felt it. The best Namor could come up with was a giant fish. Fail.
Kathryn Immonen did a great job with the dialogue. The Thing made me laugh out loud a few times. No “Its clobberin’ time” however. What gives? Avengers 2 X-Men 0
If you’ve bought in to the entity that is AvX then this mini is a must have. If you just like to see A-listers bloody each others noses, then this is also a must have for you. If I were you I’d buy it to read Thing trash talk to Namor.
On a different note, don’t forget Saturday is National Free Comic Day. Stop in at your local shop to pick one up. Save Friday for the Avengers movie.