Monday, October 28, 2013

REVIEW: Hinterkind #1

Writer: Ian Edginton
Artist: Francesco Trifogli
Cover: Greg Tocchini
Review: Arthur Black

Vertigo, would it be possible to have my $2.99 and sales tax back for this comic? I would also like to have the 20 minutes of my life back, which was spent reading this comic. The cover looks good and attractive, and it appears to have the right stuff in it. The closest comparison would be to grab a tobacco-chewers spit bottle (let’s say a Coke bottle) and take a drink unexpectedly. Once you get a taste, you want to ralph and look for someone to knock out. That is basically the feeling I had with the first issue of Hinterkind.

Greg Tocchini did a fabulous job on the cover of the comic. The tiger/ lion creature, called a ligon in the story, is very captivating standing above the title and other characters. Tocchini makes great use of earthy tones to set the mood of the story and setting before the cover is opened. This book is nicely wrapped crap.
The story starts with a pair of friends hunting a zebra. After the kill they hike it back to their home, which looks like a small village in the middle of a large plantation cut out of the wilderness. The friends are named Angus and P. Other than having grown a tail, Angus is not much of a character. We are not even given the privilege of knowing for which P is a nickname. Meanwhile P’s only position in the story seems to be following people around like a five year old whining “I want to go. I want to go.”

At a few various points in the comic, the writer is caught proudly quoting something called “The First Book of Monday”. Wondering what this was, I took to the net and found nothing concerning such a title other than another review of this comic. My reaction is what the fuck is wrong with the writer. Suspense is not created with stupidity. Use a prologue or a caption at the beginning or the end of the book to explain to what you are referring. No one likes to be strung along like that. Provide some information for your readers to have some understanding. Suspense is built on anticipation not ignorance.

Overall the story does not have a consistent flow. This coupled with poor character development has made this a horrible start to a series. There is no substance for readers to gain interest and is equal to starring at a sheet of paper toweling (the ones with pictures).

The artwork on the first page is fairly nice, but as you turn the pages you get the feeling of going downhill. Francesco Trifogli is not very consistent in his work, which leaves a random feel to the character’s features. My feelings resemble the scene from Men in Black II where K, Tommy Lee Jones, is working at the post office and holds up a package while stating, “Here is an example of go home and try again.” There are several panels where the color has faded stripes throughout the image. At first I thought this was a shadow effect, but after a couple of panels of this, I realized it was not. The stripes are not a problem with the printing as the stripes do not traverse the page or even the whole panel. These are either a hurried or careless coloring job by my estimation.

Vertigo should be ashamed of allowing such a low quality product leave their presses. Meanwhile the writer should be embarrassed of this shit. Even an amateur writer knows how to start a story to build an audience, and the biggest step is character development. Mr. Edginton tried to get too much into one issue and should have focused on central characters to allow a connection with the readers. Regardless of his reasons or intensions, the first issue of Hinterkind is crap and a waste of time.

Monday, October 7, 2013

REVIEW: Rat Queens #1

Writer: Kurtis J. Weibe
Artist: Roc Upchurch
Review: Arthur Black

THIS IS A PUBLIC GEEK ANNOUNCEMENT! For my fellow role playing game geeks in the world, a jewel of a comic has been bestowed upon us from the creative mind of Kurtis J. Weibe, writer of Grim Leaper and Intrepids (both from Image). Rat Queens #1 is just what we love to see, not only in a first comic of an ongoing series, but also in an adventuring group series. This book is already sold out of its first printing, so the first one will be hard to find, but if you missed the first, you will not want to miss the second. WARNING! Rat Queens is both addictive and funny.

Role playing games allow one to create a colorful, multidimensional character with a group of others, bringing the character to life through group interaction. Weibe does the same with the characters he introduces in Rat Queens, and does it very effectively.  Imbedded in the first book is a nice pointy hook that is now lodged in my stomach and will require surgery to remove.

In the comic, Rat Queens is the name of an adventuring group of four gals, who are working for the town of Palisade for pay and gain. Betty, Hannah, Dee, and Violet have also been found terrorizing said town with their drinking and hijinks. Each of the likeable girls has a very distinct personality that is brought out very skillfully, but I am sure that the vast majority of the role playing and comic geeks are going to just fall in love with Betty (pictured below). She is the hook of the book in my opinion. She is a smidgen (basically a halfling, kender, or hobbit depending on your choice of vernacular) rogue with a clever wit, open sexuality, and a craving for candy and drugs.

John ‘Roc’ Upchurch has done a great job on designing and drawing each of the Rat Queens. Although his style throughout the comic felt a little haphazard and rushed at times, he does do a decent job depicting the action and developing emotion throughout. There are certain panels that  show more detailed work in the comic, and they are exquisitely drawn. Roc is newer to the comic book scene and has done work on Vescell, also from Image. His artwork is great, and in my opinion, he has a remarkable talent in drawing the female figure. More of his work can be viewed on his blog site at I think we will see a lot more from Roc, and he and Weibe have a nice creation in Rat Queens.

Roc Upchurch also created the cover of the comic, and he did a fine job of it. In the lower right hand side of the cover, there is a pair of gloved glowing hands that are reaching up toward Betty. What the hell are those doing there? They do not seem to belong to anyone in the comic. Are they trying to feel Betty up? I am not sure why these hands seem to bother me so much, but they do. Maybe I missed something or there is another meaning. If anyone has any explanation to offer, I would love to hear it.

With rich, lovable characters, Rat Queens has the feel of a comic that is going to be with us for the long run. As I stated earlier, the hook is in my stomach and pulling me along. I love it when this happens.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

REVIEW: Sex Criminals #1

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Chip Zdarsky
Chip Zdarsky
Chip Zdarsky
Chip Zdarsky
Review: William R. Davis Jr.

Matt Fraction has arguably been one of the top three writers in comics for the past two years, and without a doubt he is the best writer at Marvel. I bet Mark Waid is peeing in his Cheerios right at this moment as you are reading these words.  While I was sad to hear of his departure from the Fantastic Four books, I was equally excited for the release of this new Image title. I still read my fair share of the superhero genre, but visionary writers tend to do their best work when they are uncensored and given free reign. However, I did find his latest independent release Satellite Sam to be almost unreadable and visually awkward, but this book has been a rare miss in an Eisner award winning career thus far. Although Sex Criminals received more hype than almost any title I can remember from other creators on Twitter, I had to temper my expectations a bit  because of my dislike for Satellite Sam.

We've seen it happen all over the comic world, as great writers slip into comfortable positions at their respective companies and become anointed by the industry, the quality of their work starts to quickly spiral into mediocrity. While I won't drop specific names, look to almost any of the flagship creators at the big two, or the creator of a certain zombie book that has grown quite popular over the last four years as prime examples of people who are just cashing checks at this point.  Almost all of Hickman's work at Image has been nothing short of legendary so far, and I only want what is best for comics, so I found myself hoping that this release by Fraction would give him the catalyst he needed to stay at the top of his creative game.

Sex Criminals cannot be easily labeled after only one issue. The first offering was well drawn with an interesting plot full of literary references, musings on sexual development in modern America, and the introduction of a female lead that could have been easily  ruined by giving it the Liefield treatment. Instead, the main character Suzie was given a clear and believable voice while remaining tasteful and not exploitative. Sex Criminals is a provocative title for a monthly series, and while the content can boast the same, it does not rely solely on the use of shock value in order to develop the narrative. The only worry  that I did have after reading  was whether the theme of "orgasms stopping time" in Sex Criminals was a workable continuing theme. A part of me has a hard time seeing this run go ninety issues after reading only just one.

Suzie, the main character stops time involuntarily after every orgasm. She is confused by this "superpower" until she meets Jon who shares it as well. The first issue deals mostly with the introduction of characters; with this being Fraction's strength it is extremely solid stuff and well worth your $3.50. Both Jon and Suzie have altruistic motives that directly conflict with different corporate agendas, leading them to "rob from the rich in order to give to the poor" while time is stopped. This big reveal takes place at the very end of issue one.

I can't help but wonder how an off-beat superhero book that requires the main characters to have orgasms before they are able to use their superpower is sustainable, and the "occupy" aspect  of the story struck me as a bit cliché as well. But if anyone can pull a rabbit out of a hat, it has to be Matt Fraction, so I will continue to read in the hope that Sex Criminals will be another classic by an already lauded and respected comic writer. Chip Zdarsky gives the title an almost psychedelic quality that makes it very stylistically unique and inviting. His art does not necessarily carry issue one, but it meshes well with the dialogue producing a very attractive book.

Sex Criminal or Disco Biscuit
Sex Criminals #1 is already sold out of it's first printing. It looks like Fraction and Zdarsky released the right book at the right time. After all of the hype fades and the Eisner glow is washed away, I am anxious to see if this book is able to meet or exceed all of the expectations placed on it by industry heavyweights. I do know one thing, comicdom is well served by Fraction's greatest efforts to date. Here's to hoping that Sex Criminals is able to continue that legacy. For the time being I will be front row for every orgasm, anxiously tuned in and waiting to see what happens with this new series.

Seven Questions: DeWayne Feenstra, creator of The Adventures of Aero-Girl

Several months ago, I threw down some money on a self published comic book called The Adventures of Aero-Girl. Said book arrived in the mail recently and I was very pleased with the results. I wrote the book a big, wet kiss, which can be read here:

Now, I've got the pleasure of interviewing creator DeWayne Feenstra in a little thing we like to call Seven Questions.


Will:  What inspired Aero-Girl's creation? Cliche opening question, but I gotta know where this came from.

Feenstra: Aero-Girl came about because of a random conversation my brother and I had while waiting in line for Hall H at San Diego comic-con a few years ago. We started discussing how you didn't see any more monkey sidekicks and decided to create a superhero with one.  The superhero was just a generic superman clone, but we decided it would be funny if his sidekick was called the monkey missile but was really a chimpanzee with a jetpack. The book was going to be from the chimpanzees perspective and be practically text-less because neither us knew how to letter lol. Jump ahead a few years and Shadowline is holding a "create a superheroine" contest and I flipped the idea of the superhero with a primate sidekick and went with a super gorilla with a jetpack wearing human sidekick. The idea of a teenager trying to control the super gorilla throws the typical hero/sidekick dynamic on it's head.

Will:  The cover of Aero-Girl says 1 of 4, which means I've got three more issues coming my way. Are you planning further Kickstarters, shopping the book around to publishers, or another avenue for the 3 remaining issues?

Feenstra:  Axur is working on issue 2 as we speak. The production is going to be a little slower because Axur's day job as a video game designer is taking more of his time. We've been talking with a publisher but also considering doing another Kickstarter. This Kickstarter, if we go that route, would be for the remaining 3 issues.

Will:  What is your personal favorite comic, past or present?

Feenstra:  My favorite comic series of all time is Kurt Busiek's and Brett Anderson's Astro City. The universe and characters they have built are amazing! If you haven't read any issues, stop right now and go find them!!

Will:  You offered a Spanish language version of the comic for backers of the Kickstarter. What prompted the inclusion of the Spanish version?

Feenstra:  The main reasons for the Spanish translation was that Axur has a fan base that enjoys his Spanish language webcomic ( and that I have in-laws that are Spanish speakers. A pleasant bonus is that we have had a few Spanish teachers reach out and ask about using our book to help their students work on their translating skills.

Will:  What are your biggest creative influences/inspirations?

Feenstra:  My two biggest influences on my writing are Kurt Busiek and Joss Whedon. The amazing way Mr. Busiek crafts the characters and the world of Astro City is something I'm trying to emulate in The Adventures of Aero-Girl. What I try draw from Mr. Whedon is his ability to blend light-hearted dialogue and dramatic scenes. Aero-Girl is a fun book that starts off on a pretty heavy topic.

Will:  I interpreted some if the prevalent themes in Aero-Girl as parent/child relationships, growing into adolescence, and hints of alienation. What prompted the inclusion of these themes?

Feenstra:  I want this book to be as much about Jacqueline Mackenzie as it is about Aero-Girl. I've always been a fan of books that show the "real lives" of the heroes. Seeing how Jacqueline deals with sorrow, failure and success can possibly help a reader connect with her and make her more real. If this book can help one person get through a difficult time, it will be worth all the effort we put into it.

Will: What are three things you wouldn't want to live without?

Feenstra:  Foregoing the obvious answer of my wife and son :-), I'll say I need a working tablet, a strong Wi-Fi connection so I can stream Netflix and download my comics (legally, of course)  and a Little Caesar's pizza nearby. You can't go wrong with 5 dollar pizza!!

 I'd like to thank DeWayne on behalf of the Hammond Comics Blog for his time and consideration, and we'll be sure to keep you updated on Aero-Girl and her future plans.
Copies of The Adventures of Aero-Girl can be purchased in English and Spanish, here: