Thursday, May 30, 2013

REVIEW: Green Lantern #20

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke (and a smattering of guests)
Review: Will Dubbeld

Well, here it is, kiddies. After writing Green Lantern for nigh on a decade, Geoff Johns is finally passing the torch on.

I purposefully did not say, "passing the lantern on"...

Johns run started back in 2004, I believe, with Green Lantern: Rebirth, a miniseries touting the return of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern.

I. Was. Excited.

For whatever reason, Green Lantern was a favorite of mine, probably due to the power set mixed with Hal Jordan's ability to be a giant-sized man jerk. I'd only amassed a small collection of GL comics, but amongst them was part of the arc detailing Hal Jordan's descent into super-villainy and transformation into Parallax. I know a lot of fellow nerds despised this storyline, but I thought it was great.

In no small part due to a cover detailing Hal wearing like ten power rings and sneering with a batshit crazy look on his face.

After DCs flirtations with Evil Hal, they killed him off for a spell and eventually recast him as The Specter, which was another win for me. The Specter was always another favorite of mine, and now he got to run around wearing Green Lantern's domino mask! Superb!

As with all things, however, DC decided to bring back the dead, and the next thing you know, Green Lantern: Rebirth.

I was excited to see Hal back, but right away had some gripes about Geoff Johns' storytelling; the retcon explaining away Hal's villainy being the major one. Apparently being possessed by a yellow space-weevil was a better storytelling device than a hero snapping, turning evil, languishing in purgatory, being turned into God's Spirit of Vengeance, and finally returning to the fold.

Nope, get that Campbellian Hero Journey crap outta here!

Yellow space-weevil possessed him and made him do bad stuff!

But, such is comics. At least I was getting Hal Jordan back. And Killowog, and Sinestro, and some other long gone but oft-remembered characters.

Then the mega-events came.

We had some self contained 6-parters, but all too quickly Geoff Johns (or possibly editorial mandate) flooded the hallowed halls of Distinguished Competitors' comics with 19-part crossovers that spilled out across four different books.

This always displeases me.

It's not that I mind spending ludicrous amounts of money on books, I just hate when a storyline tries to force me to buy books I normally wouldn't.
Which is why I have every third or fourth part of Johns' Green Lantern stories.

So after weathering Sinestro Corps Wars and Wrath of the Red Lanterns and Blackest Nights and Brightest Days and Lanterns of every color of the spectrum (no shit, ROYGBIV Lanterns), Geoff Johns brings his Green Lantern epic to a close with Wrath of the First Lantern.

I was more than ready.

What was at first an exiting new direction for the Green Lantern book rapidly degraded into sprawling, bloated storytelling that had diminishing returns in the entertainment department.
Now I know there's many amongst fandom that swear by the Church of Johns and would burn me at the nerd-stake for my heresy, but I have been less than impressed. Either fine ideas went out of control (Yellow Lanterns and Red Lanterns? Sweet! But I still don't really know what the deal with the Indigo Tribe is, and I've been reading this book for ten years!), or the storylines lasted waaaayyyy too long (did Brightest Day really need THAT many issues to tell the story? Signs point to no).

Unfortunately Wrath of the First Lantern was no exception. I had all but clocked out when a giant Green Lantern hand at the beginning of the universe opened the arc.

Issue 20, however, was pretty damn good. Granted it was rife with cliches and played out storytelling tropes from the "tell me the story of when..." to encountering your dad's ghost and him telling you he's proud of you, to that old chestnut "the enemy will be vanquished when we all join forces and defeat him in an Orgy of Teamwork!"

I'm pretty sure they even borrowed a page from Uncle Al's Watchmen playbook towards the end.

Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I mentally cheered for the Good Guys and reveled in every (and there were quite a few) two-page spread. All my favorites were there (Kilowog! Mogo! G'nort! That Red Lantern cat!) and at the end of the day, Hal Jordan was the hero.

I'll avoid being to spoiler-y, but Sinestro absolutely stole the damn show here. In sheer four-color nerd moments and actual points of fine storytelling, he absolutely stole the show.

The art is tight and well detailed, which is something I can say for all the Green Lantern books under Geoff Johns' purview, as was the inking and coloring. Similarly styled artists have been used throughout the series, which is much appreciated as comics tend to switch creative teams every three issues it seems.

The book itself is an oversized, squarebound affair that is steeply priced ($7.99), but I felt like I got my money's worth out of it. Most giant-sized issues from the House of Ideas are letdowns and leave me feeling ripped off (80 page extravaganza! 30 pages of content followed by crappy reprints of old comics!).

Not so here. Cover-to-cover story with the exception of a few pages of recommended reading at the end and every few pages is testimonial bj's from Johns' peers about how supercrazyawesome he is.
But what the hell, it's his swan-song, let 'em stroke the 'ol ego a bit.
As an aside, the book features a wraparound cover that you can't actually enjoy to the fullest due to the squarebound format. It didn't bother me in the least, but I did notice it as a bit of an engineering foible.

At the end of the day, you're not going to pick this book up if you hadn't previously been following Green Lantern, but it's totally worth it if you have been. I'm curious to see what Geoff Johns' successor comes up with, but he or she needn't feel like they have to jump off with an epic 12-part follow up.

Maybe Hal can just fight a space pirate, call it good, and be home by suppertime.

That would be a welcome change of pace.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

REVIEW: Superior Spider-Man #10

Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Review: William R. Davis Jr.

"I hate you. I hate you. I don't even know you and I hate your guts. I hope all of the bad things in life happen to you and nobody else but you." -Silky Johnson

This used to be my opinion of Spider-Man. Madman and I have had many back and forths regarding the web crawler in our time together on this website. He told me to read Scarlet Spider #1 and it made me want to cut myself. On Wednesdays I used to have this ritual where I would pick up my comics and head to the bar straight away for some microbrews. After reading my copy of Scarlet Spider #1 I immediately gave it to resident barfly and comic fan Cool Uncle Stu Balls. A week later he tried to give it back. I'm pretty sure it ended up going into the trash.

Peter Parker Spidey was almost as bad. I found the endless one liners and puns cliche' and exhausting. While Spider-Man does boast one of the best rogues galleries in comics, this book had nothing else to offer me. I put it down when I was eleven years old. These days I don't get into supe books much. As a young fanboy I was always surrounded by stacks of DC comics, but now read a couple of books from every new title that comes out just to keep current and have a valid, informed opinion. The worst comic is still better than the best episode of Ashton Kutcher Two and a Half Men anyway, right?

I was as surprised as anyone to discover that at the moment, three of the books that I really look forward to each month are supe books. Two of those books are Marvel Now titles. FF is incredible. There is not enough room here to polish that gem, so it's going to have to wait until next month for a proper review. The other book that I absolutely love from Marvel is Superior Spider-Man.

This was a book that I really wanted to hate. Dan Slott wins the "All-Time Biggest Douche on Twitter Ever" award. This guy is a huge dick, bashing Kickstarter and just being an all around arrogant taint on the interwebs. But I must give credit where credit is due. He took everything that I hated about Spider-Man, tore it out, and placed the mind of Doctor Octopus in Peter Parker's body. The results are brilliant. My only lingering issue with the title was Peter Parker's ghost inhabiting his own subconscious. As of issue nine Jiminy Cricket is now gone for good and an already great book is even better. Everything about this new Spidey title is superior. And while Spider-Man purists bash this book in comic forums on the daily, it is top shelf all of the way.

Ryan Stegman has done an incredible job with the art in every issue, and the clarity that his work brings to Superior Spider-Man is truly impressive. Some of the panels are mind blowingly dense, and his art elevates this title into the upper echelon. SpOck is my favorite superhero out right now (stands and claps) and this is a a great read even for people who prefer indie comics. Keep it up gentlemen.

This issue is a perfect place to start if you're not current with Superior Spider-Man. A new arc has begun in #10, and Spidey villains everywhere are trying to find new ways to adapt to a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man that will punch you in the throat or shoot you in the head at point blank range. We all know Peter Parker will back back at some point, but SpOck needs to stay around as long as possible. To quote Silky Johnson a final time, Peter Parker Spider-Man is a woman who wears underwear "with dick holes in 'em".

Friday, May 10, 2013

REVIEW Death to Dinksville: Chapter Four

Created, Written, and Illustrated by: J. Tungol
Colored by: Z. Tungol
Lettered by: Jaime Tungol
Review: Cody "Madman" Miller

In case you haven’t read the first three chapters: Lamar, Ellen, and the Cheney Corporation. Let’s recap to bring you up to speed:

Lamar is a tough little bastard, that’s basically all you need to know, but I guess I’ll elaborate a wee bit more. Lamar has been dealt a pretty shitty hand. His mama is a whore, who apparently is attracted to the worst kind of guys. The current jackass kicks Lamar’s ass and he bails for the safety of his best friend Shogo’s house. Lamar spends the night there and his life is good…until breakfast. A zombie comes through the front door and bites Shogo’s mother. Shogo does not freak out at the sight of the walking undead tearing his mother’s throat out.

Not Shogo…not today.

Shogo goes all Chucky and destroys the zombie with a few dozen well-placed pokes with a rather large butcher knife. But, as it may be, the joke is on poor Shogo. His newly reanimated zombie mom takes a large nibble out of his neck. As if a zombie uprising wasn’t enough for Dinksville, we learn that Dylan Haddenfield, a murdering psychopath, has escaped prison.
In chapter two, Tungol gives us Ellen. Ellen is another grade school bad ass. Ellen’s bike may still have training wheels, but she is a beast with her Glock 9mm. Pow ! Right between the dead, lifeless eyes every time. Ellen meets up with Lamar and Shogo. Haddenfield’s unholy crusade continues and the zombies do what zombies do. Enter the evil Cheney Corporation.

Chapter three introduces us to a second cloaked psychopath looking for the secret of Virus Z (the zombie maker virus), and in a great few pages Lamar is forced to put his freshly turned mother down.

In the newly released chapter four, we get a flashback that explains Haddenfield’s not so humble beginnings as a serial killer.

It’s also revealed that Shogo’s DNA may be humanities only hope.

Each of these books entertained me from cover to cover. I know! More zombies. But even though it has the current trend of the “zombie virus” within its folds, Death to Dinksville is so much more than just another biter tale.

I read all four chapters back to back in no time. The books are a quick read with a maximum fun rating.

The art is really fun as well. Imagine Charlie Brown crossed with the Walking Dead and a hint of one of those Scream movies thrown in with a Chucky kind of feel to it (for no other reason than the little kids with butcher knives and axes).

One thing I don’t get is the fact that everyone in the comic only has four fingers and it really freaks me the hell out.

After each chapter, I couldn’t stop reading and just had to read the next issue. Take my word on this and head over to and order all four issues as soon as possible.He has my wallet for all 13 issues...fact.

PS Thank You to Mr. Tungol for shipping the first four issues directly to my door. You truly have a comic worth supporting.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

REVIEW: The Colonized #1

Writer: Chris Ryall
Artist: Drew Moss
Review: Will Dubbeld

Aliens and Zombies?

I haven't decided if I'm a fan of genre cross breeding or not, and I'm not exactly waiting with bated breath for the next zombie pop-culture phenomenon, buuuuuut...

Little green men versus zombies kinda piqued the ol' curiosity. Also curious was the fact that this book was published by IDW and wasn't a licensed property, but I digress...

Colonized: A Tale of Zombies vs. Aliens is a fairly fun read, kids. In the wide open Montana country we find a flying saucer on a mission to snatch up indigenous Earth-life, probably with the intent of probing it. After zooming over a cemetery, the saucer tractor-beams up a zombie and we're off to the races.

Taking a page from the Alien vs. Predator playbook we have a crop of hapless humans caught in the middle, which is good, because you need relatable fodder in any genre piece like this. This particular fodder comes from a commune/militia headquarters in the Montana wilds that seems to be torn betwixt those who want to go green and live off the grid and those paranoiacs who want to stockpile arms in case The Man comes to take away their rights.

There's some disputes amongst the human fodder about leadership policies and an attempt to develop some endearing characters, but let's not church this up too much, folks.

Aliens vs. Zombies.

If I want a comic about endearing human drama and the triumph of will over insurmountable odds, I'll read Strangers In Paradise.

In any case, a loose zombie aboard a flying saucer soon leads to a crashing saucer and alien, zombie and human meet at last.

A hint of detente between aliens and humans against a common foe in later issues is given, probably with the gun-nut faction opposing a team up with aliens.
Which may or may not be an immigration metaphor.
I'm guessing the redneck in charge of the militant faction does something foolish and gets some folks killed...

Speculation aside, Colonized was a decent book. Some familiar tropes bound through the book, and plot points seem to be telegraphed if you're any sort of well-read man or woman, but what the hell. I feel like I got my money's worth and will stick it out at least long enough to see if my predictions are correct.

The writing had some pretty good substance to it, giving some character to the aliens but relegating the human protagonists to fairly 2-dimensional archetypes.
But, if they're going to get eaten by zombies anyway, who cares?
They don't all have to be as in-depth as The Walking Dead, guys...

Ryall is treading familiar water with this book, having scribed Zombies vs. Robots... Vs Amazons, so zombies vs. aliens vs. hippies vs. rednecks should flow easily from his pen.
As long as I get alien zombies in this book I'll be happy.
And maybe a death ray or 2...

Drew Moss' art may be the shining point in the book. The designs are great, and he's not afraid to embrace the familiar. The alien saucer is just that, an archetypical flying saucer, and the aliens are little green men with jumpsuits and big lumpy heads. They even have bubble helmets.

The humans, undead or not, are well drawn and he has a good eye for background and environment.

The Colonized doesn't come out of the gate swinging hard, but I trust Chris Ryall is taking his time to build the story and gather some steam for an alien/zombie/militiaman throwdown. I don't know if The Colonized will have the staying power of some other contemporary zombie comics, but I'll stick it out for the duration.
It does dawn on me that Robert Kirkman once said that if Walking Dead ever made it to issue 75 (if memory serves) the book would be in color and he'd throw aliens into the comic...

The Colonized is a full color zombie/alien book available from IDW for the price of $3.99 with a cover by Dave Sim of Cerebus fame.