Friday, March 22, 2013

REVIEW: Comeback 1-5

Story: Ed Brisson
Art: Michael Walsh
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Ed Brisson
Cover: Michael Walsh
Publisher: Image Comics
Review: William R. Davis Jr.

"At the best of times this time travel nonsense is a mindfuck."

Ed Brisson nailed this entire series in one line of dialogue right there. This is another sad example of a promising story getting bogged down in too many realities and overall confusion. Comeback tells the tale of a company called Reconnect that will go back in time and save the ones that you love from imminent death for five million dollars. Time travel is akin to terrorism in this reality, and all of Reconnect's customers have to go off the grid in order to keep the operation functioning. When a Reconnect grunt discovers that instead of leading new lives, the clientele is being killed, he decides to drop a dime on his employer and leave the business for good.

Issues one and two started out promising. Michael Walsh does a nice job with the art. It's not some of the best noir stuff I've seen on a page, but the use of light and dark does give the book a unique style that works well for the series. The plot ran straight off the rails in issue three, and no artist could save this series from the fuckery within. The characters are completely throw away. Not only did I have a hard time remembering their names, they didn't add a single thing to the story whatsoever. They were pretty much the comic book equivalent of Jason Statham, generic action heroes going through the motions on every page. Reconnect was in one ear and out the other after the series wrapped up. The best part about it was the preview for the new Ted McKeever book, Miniature Jesus, that was at the end of issue five. That one definitely looks like the shizz and will be mine come April.

I haven't been too kind to Comeback, but if you like action films that are light on character development this one could have a home in your collection. When it comes to my action films, I always need a Popeye Doyle in there somewhere to keep me engaged. Suffice it to say, I am not the audience for this book at all. Action is my least favorite genre.

Walsh is pegged to do an upcoming X-Files book for IDW and I am definitely going to be checking that one out. My problems with this series were all in the writing. Time travel and zombies are dead. Someone send the memo to all of the comic companies out there because fifteen books a month alternating between time travel and zombies are killing the industry.

The rent is too damn high.

Image is definitely at the forefront of what is happening in the industry, but even the best of companies churn out mindless drivel from time to time. Reconnect was pedestrian, average, and completely troped out. Take the money that you were going to spend on these five books and buy Chew 32, Saga 11, Superior Spider-Man 6, Conan the Barbarian 14, and the new issue of Jennifer Blood instead.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

REVIEW: Helheim #1

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Illustrator: Joelle Jones
Color: Nick Filardi
Review: Cody "Madman" Miller

This issue quite literally opens up running: a group of men are actually running from some crazy looking bastards and their dogs. By men I mean Vikings and by crazy looking bastards I mean crazy looking bastards. Actually I don’t recall these “wild men” having been named but I do remember the Viking chaps slaughtering them and I remember not long after they had been dead, their skeletons rip right out of the bodies stand up and start hacking away at theVikings again. This time they are given a name…..Night Creatures.

This is when the unexpected happens…..Rikard our hero is killed about half way through this tasty gem of a book. I have never seen this done in comics. I wonder how that sales pitch went? … And then somewhere in the first issue I’ll separate the main characters head form his shoulders. I found Helheim’s first issue to be quite awesome. It wasn’t just another Viking or Conanesque story with a different twist. It wasn’t Beowolf. It wasn’t the 13th Warrior. It was quite gothic. It was a Viking era Frankenstein tale…..Did I forget to mention that? After Rikard is beheaded by the skeleton warrior his chicky brings him back as Frank on roids.


If you picked up this book because you’re a fan of Bunn’s the Damned or The Six Gun you won’t be disappointed. His writing is spot on as per usual. The dialogue is short and sweet, but also perfect. When one is dealing with the brutes of the North less talk more cleaving is optimal. I can’t complain about the writing I really can’t. The art however is where it’s at. In true Viking fashion the fight scenes are both beautiful and gory all at the same time. Joelle Jones; look and design of the characters are all well-crafted and Nick Flardis’ colors blow me away.

If you hate violence and badassery in your comics then you might want to skip this one but fanboys looking for a unique comic with bad ass artwork and Vikings then Hilheim is here to deliver heaping piles of awesome.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

REVIEW: Nemo: Heart of Ice

Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Kevin O'Neil
Review: Will Dubbeld

I was an ardent fan of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neil's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, at least for the first two volumes. It was essentially a Justice League or Avengers composed of mid- to late-19th century literary characters, so what wasn't to like? The third release, Black Dossier, meandered into the realm of the bizarre and by the time League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century was released I was a bit apprehensive. Deservedly so, as it was rife, lousy almost, with oblique references and re-imaginings of characters from film and literature.

While League has had it's share of misfires I was intrigued by the prospect of the newest installment, a spin-off concerning Captain Nemo's daughter Janni.

I also am guilty of greedily gobbling up nearly everything Alan Moore puts to paper.

Heart of Ice opens on the docks of New York City in 1925 with Janni Dakkar and her pirate retinue robbing a visiting African queen (as in a foreign sovereign, not a Humphrey Bogart movie) and escaping in the Nautilus. Taking exception to this, the queen and her industrialist companion send a team of adventurer-scientists after Janni with the intent of retrieving the booty.

Setting the backbone of the story is a scene with Janni recalling her fathers displeasure at having sired a daughter over a son, and her desire to follow the path of an ill-fated Antarctic expedition Nemo took in order to gain a sense of self and familial closure.

Then it hit me, my nerdy eyes narrowing with scrutiny.



There was something decidedly non-Euclidean about where this story was going, and my Lovecraft senses were tingling.
For those of you unfamiliar, horror writer H.P. Lovecraft penned an Interbellum story about an ill-fated Antarctic expedition and the nameless horrors encountered At the Mountains of Madness.

The remainder of Heart of Ice was a high speed chase through Antarctica, complete with time-dilation, superscience, Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, and giant penguins. The last act was superb.

Nemo: Heart of Ice was a step in the right direction for Moore, whom I've found a bit lackluster of late with the exception of Fashion Beast. Lost Girls was fairly odious at points, and I felt like I needed to take a shower after reading Neonomicon. Even the last installment of League had an overbearing psychosexual tone to it, a theme that's become omnipresent in the last few Alan Moore pieces I'd read.

More so than his usual fare, at any rate.
Heart of Ice, however, avoided any instances of rape, sexual congress with Mythos creatures, or incest.
Good job, Al!

While sex was always represented in Moore's work, the theme had taken an unnecessary forefront recently. As per the Leagues previous installments, Nemo was full of references and thinly veiled pastiches of archaic literary figures. This is a mixed blessing.I see it as a sort of "Where's Waldo?" game of wits to identify these and from whence they came, but I am admittedly not very good at it. Alan Moore's familiarity with 19th-early 20th century literature far surpasses mine, and you can all too often expect every character to have his or her origin in some other authors work. Sometimes this is clever, but it more often detracts from the story by bloating it with references. I mentally high five myself for catching backhanded allusions to Fritz Lang's Metropolis or H. Rider Haggard's She, but a thinly veiled Mary Poppins or a Harry Potter Antichrist that shoots lightning from his dick does nothing but conjure groans and eye-rolls.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century featured both Mary Poppins and the aforementioned lightning-phallused Harry Potter. Kevin O'Neil's art was top notch, as usual, blending retro-futurist designs and Victorian sensibilities featured in earlier volumes, melding Art Deco and science fiction. Like many of Moore's collaborators (namely Eddie Campbell) O'Neil's seemingly simplistic line art is deceptively detailed on closer scrutiny and accentuates the subtler nuances of the book. This latest installment in the League's history was excellent, and I'd gladly read further spin off tales as long as Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neil are at the helm.

Nemo: Heart of Glass is a hardcover available from Top Shelf Productions and retails for $14.95, USD.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

REVIEW: Star Trek:The Next Generation Hive 1-4

Writers: Brannon Braga, Terry Matalas, Travis Fickett
Artist: Joe Corroney
Review: William R. Davis Jr.

There are legions of loyal Star Trek: The Next Generation fans out there almost twenty years after the last episode of the show aired. And the ones that really drink their kool-aid, such as myself, will tell you that TNG was the greatest television franchise of them all, with the greatest ensemble cast. Despite Dixon Hill, Riker's trombone soloing, and Geordi's painful attempts to get laid on the holodeck, the show still defines classic Trek. However, the same cast that brought us All Good Things and The Best of Both Worlds, also starred in some of the worst movies of all time. As a huge fan of the show, this always filled me with bitter disappointment and resentment. The only movie that did the Star Trek universe any justice at all was the 2009 reboot by J.J. Abrams. Wrath of Khan fans, don't start flooding us with hate mail just yet, if you're into Trek, Wrath of Khan is a damn fine film. But to the average sci-fi fan it has little appeal. This was always a shame. I wanted people to see and experience Star Trek at it's best so they could get an idea of why I always held the show in such high esteem. All of this movie hating is especially relevant when talking about the TNG films, because they have no appeal to even the most die hard Trekkies out there. These films seriously suck. No one has ever wanted to see Picard salsa dance. And the Borg Queen is to Star Trek, as midichlorians are to Star Wars. The only thing worse than the TNG films has to be Voyager, or least the Enterprise theme song anyway.

Well...IDW decided to mash Seven of Nine and the Borg Queen together in a four issue comic series. Groooooan. Being a Star Trek fan has wasted countless hours of my life, but when it's good, it's really good. The Borg are the best Star Trek villains of all time, so there could be enough to pique my interest here despite being force fed all of the worst parts from Voyager and the movies. Brannon Braga is a Star Trek staple, another solid move adding him as a writer. However, he is not alone, and three writers on a comic has rarely ever worked. In terms of this series though, the writers knew their fan base. There were tons of references only TNG diehards were going to get, we got to see Riker on the Titan, and the plot involved tons of...time travel. Wait. That sucks...and it did. There is no way to make a plot convoluted quicker than adding multiple realities. Thor recently did it in comics and ruined a whole five issue arc. So, yeah, there are some nuggets in this one that make it well worth the read for really big fans of the series, but there is also a fuckload of time travel too. Proceed with caution.

I have never come to expect much from the art in a Star Trek comic, but the art in this one was better than "eh" (in a good way), and some of the covers were actually on point. The technology and space battles were...interesting. Who knew? It was like finding the treasure of the Sierra Madre in a Star Trek comic. The art is usually one area that makes turning these stories into comics almost always questionable. More often than not, the art will actually detract from the story. I see it in Star Wars and Star Trek comics constantly. With a better plot, IDW could actually start creating TNG comics that people will actually enjoy instead of just tolerate, but they have to give us at least serviceable art. They did it here. They can do it again. Some of the novels (Dark Mirror. Q Squared) were actually on par with some of the best television episodes and could be great comics. The novels are not stuff that I can justify reading these days, but I review comics from time to time and this gives me the perfect cover story to read every issue.

The initial idea of turning these successful television shows into movies, books, and comics was not without merit. But almost always the creative teams fail to execute. If Star Trek 2009 taught us anything, it's that these stories can be good. Hive is definitely not the comic series that will take TNG comics to the next level, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. I'm not saying that these books are bad, but parts of them certainly are. Even the most questionable moments in this four issue series are going to hold some appeal for TNG fans. I would love to put an awesome monthly TNG book on my pull list, but I can't at this point. We are nowhere at the moment, but with a little work anything's possible. Let's make this happen IDW.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

REVIEW: Justice League of America #1

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Colorist: Sonis Oback
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Review: Cody "Madman" Miller

I can’t remember the last time I actually bought a Superman book. If I had to take a guess, I’d say it was around “Funeral for a Friend” or “Reign of Superman.” When was that early to mid 90’s? I know for a fact this was the first JLA book I had ever bought.

So why did I buy I it? Simple……..Geoff Johns.

No…..I am in fact not a follower of Johns. Oddly enough, I’m not sure I could name five books Johns has written that I have read. I’ve heard good things about his work from friends who read his Lantern titles and love them, but, again, I am not a Green Lantern fan at all. Never will be. I don’t care what color. I’ll pass.

Anyways, I’d heard Geoff had called it quits on Green Lantern. Apparently this is a huge event. Something worth raising at least one eyebrow at? I have no clue. I feel as ill equipped as Jeph Loeb at a 3rd grade talent show. As if I’m standing in the middle of a highway naked, covered in cottage cheese, and holding a sign that says “free curds.” Yeah, clueless. Damn you Loeb!

So yeah, maybe I just had Geoff Johns on the brain or maybe it was malice towards Marvel or maybe, just maybe, I was drunk last Wednesday wandering the shelves of my LCS.

Whatever form of divine intervention caused me to buy this issue, I’m glad it did because JLA #! was pretty damn alright. To be honest, I had low expectations for a favorable ending to this odd happening. Was I entertained? Yes, yes I was. Johns can write. Yes, yes he can. I’ve experienced it firsthand now. My only real complaint with the book is the implied death of Green Arrow. I am an Ollie Queen fan.

The JLA was created to police the Justice League, which still just makes no sense at all to me. WRDJ and I had a nice little fan boy session on the HCB message feed about fifteen minutes after I read it. Of course that’s all classified and way above your pay grade but we talked about the good and evils of Superman. I actually learned some things about the DCU that have actually peaked my curiosity in a few DC titles that I’ve decided to buy at least a few issue of….just to satisfy my newly acquired morbid curiosity with a few characters and such.
I realize I’m kind of rambling about nothing here, but hell, what can I say. I’m way out of my element here. I’m sure most, if not all, of the people reading this probably know more about these characters than I do. So, I’ll give you the short version and we can both go about our business.

The book was above average. The story is and hopefully will continue to be something to look forward to each issue. As far as the art goes, it’s decent as well…..from what I can remember.

I’ve not a clue why, but I started reading all the “extras” on the last page where I learned Geoff Johns is actually chief creative officer at DC comics. Wow, I had no idea. Then I started thinking about how much this Before Watchman sucks ass and wondered how a good writer like Johns could let this train wreck actually get printed. So, I wikied Mr. Johns. The first sentence I read mentions that Johns shares a writing studio with none other than Jeph Loeb….suddenly it became clear. Damn you Jeph Loeb !! Before Watchman……It’s all your damn fault.