Thursday, March 27, 2014

REVIEW: Silver Surfer #1

Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Mike Allred
Colors: Laura Allred
Review: William R. Davis Jr. 

Silver Surfer is a pretty minor character in the Marvel Universe today, but he is without a doubt my favorite superhero of all time. People often ask me why. The reason lies more behind the mythology than the character. The introduction of Silver Surfer and Galactus completely changed the scope of modern comics. Fantastic Four #48 may be the most important comic ever released. The possibilities after this release were now endless, and it took the superhero genre into a completely new Universe metaphorically speaking (pun intended).

Galactus is an intergalactical devourer of worlds. To save his planet, Zenn-La, Norrin Radd, an astronomer agrees to become his herald. Upon meeting The Fantastic Four and changing his murdering ways, he is banished to Earth, but he still retains a large portion of his powers given to him by Galactus after his conversion. The silver surf board is a whimsical touch, and his saga is one of great longing, suffering, and sacrifice.

Regrettably, Dan Slott and I are not on good terms, and he has even blocked my own personal account on Twitter. I only regret this because he changed Spider-Man through his Superior run and made me actually read Spider-Man books. Spider-Man may be my least favorite character of all-time.

What I do not regret are my words. He bashed Kickstarter, and I will not tolerate any creator from the big two talking shit about creator owned comics, especially ones that are funded by the comic community instead of a traditional company. Kickstarter is a total game changer, and many great books have been published through the site that would have otherwise never existed. Shit, it saved Fantagraphics! I don't even want to live in a world that doesn't have The Comics Journal.

So hey, Dan, you're talented, but eat a dick. That being said, I thought he was the perfect writer to bring The Silver Surfer back to life when I heard the announcement. Putting a Doctor Octopus brain into a Peter Parker body and making Spider-Man an anti-hero in the process was a stroke of absolute genius.

I had nothing but nice things to say about Mike Allred. His art was/is rich, unique, and beautiful in every way. FF has been a staple in my pull list since he started drawing the Future Foundation. It is rare when every page of a comic is a work of art. He may be the best in the game right now. That is the greatest compliment I can give to an artist. His avaunt garde, pop art style fits perfectly with The Silver Surfer. Space is limitless and the possibilities are endless. I thought it was a good thing that Marvel chose the most unique artist in comics for a release of this weight.

(This review is not yet finished. Please temper your expectations.)

Now let's get into Silver Surfer, the reboot. While the first two pages feature some great use of literary device, the book completely fails on almost every other level. Never in my life have I criticized the work of Mike Allred, but the pencils are sloppy and uninspired. The grand reveal on page 12 looks like an Everlasting Gobstopper from OG Willy Wonka, with Norrin Radd underneath lacking any detail at all, the exact opposite of what Mike Allred art usually represents. What a disappointing first issue artistically. A little piece of me died after seeing the visuals in this one, a sad case of eye candy turning into arsenic laced eye NyQuil.

The writing is even more disappointing. I know what you're thinking: "Say it ain't, so?", but it truly is the worse than I ever could have possibly imagined. While I did not want a carbon copy of Stan Lee's Surfer, Dan Slott's rendition of The Silver Surfer lacks almost everything about the character that makes him iconic in the superhero genre. The back story was glossed over, which is fine, but the initial point of Silver Surfer becoming a herald for Galactus was to save his one true love and his entire planet. He is a character filled with yearning, who waxes philosophically about the cruel nature of the Universe after taking a large part in repeated mass genocide. His isolation, guilt, and endless search for meaning in the Universe are what make him appealing to lifelong fans and new readers alike.

Dan Slott has completely re-written history with this book, and in a terrible; almost sacrilegious, Before Watchmenlike way. The dialogue is shameful. There are one or two bright moments (sentences), but it is pointless and lacks any substance whatsoever. On top of this, he is saddling us with an almost Whovian earth woman that is completely out of place in the mythos, and she is crammed into the final page of an already life-shatteringly disappointing book. It reeks of laziness, not homage; an audible groan was had.

No doubt about it, this book fucking sucked on every level (I don't use that language in reviews very often anymore if that gives you an idea). Is Dan Slott the next victim of being anointed by Marvel as one of their flagship writers? I don't know, ask Brian Bendis. What I do know is that I might fly across the world, storm the Marvel office, and burn that motherfucker to the ground for their offenses to the medium both past and present.

No Superior Spider-Man can make up for the permanent damage you have done, Mr. Slott. Silver Surfer #1 is another shining example of everything that is wrong with Marvel today. After reading this book, you will want to Oedipus yourself if you are a lifelong fan. Reading this book did mild psychological damage to me, and may have possibly ruined one of my fondest childhood memories. If you ever unblock me from Twitter, know that I am blocking you immediately. Don't waste your money on this book. Buy something else.      

Friday, March 21, 2014

REVIEW: Sovereign #1

Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Paul Maybury
Color: Paul Maybury and Jordon Gibson
Letterer:  John J. Hill
Review: Cody "Madman" Miller

I have been on the fence about this book since I finished reading it.  I’m a fan of the fantasy genre as a whole, so there is no problem there.  This book just felt off balance.  I don’t know if that even makes sense, but I’m 99% sure I absolutely didn't like the artwork at all.  Not even a tiny little bit.  The pencils were weak and maybe in an effort to make up for this weakness, the inks decided to take over each and every page pretty much.  

Major turn off.  The characters were all just bland and didn't jump out at you.  Major turn off.  That’s nowhere near the worst of it.  It is the coloring that makes me want too, as the HCB’s founder and feature writer Mr. Davis Jr. once said about some bullshit Scott Snyder tried to pass off as a comic book (paraphrasing), “I’d like to buy a case of the shittiest beer I can find and piss all over it.”  The art was so bad, it was distracting.  I read this as fast as I could just so I could not be looking at it anymore.

That’s when I discovered I really didn't like the writing either.  It’s one of those books I hate where the book is divided into thirds and each third has its own characters, own story, and in this case, own misery.  A day later I can barely remember what the hell it’s about and I’m fairly certain I’m never touching this one ever again.  I don’t think I've disliked a book this mush since Death Moth.  I don’t care what anyone says, Image went wrong here...way wrong.  As long as they keep printing Saga, Manifest Destiny, and Rat Queens, I’m willing to forgive and forget this one.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go wash my eye holes.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

REVIEW: The Returning #1 and Monster & Madman #1

The Returning #1
Writer: Jason Starr
Artist: Andrea Matti
Cover: Frazer Irving
Publisher: Boom!
Review: Art Bee

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” Edgar Allen Poe

I have known for over a month The Returning was coming out, and I wanted to review it instantly. The cover on this book is so attractive and mysterious. For over a month I did not read the synopsis on Comixology, because I wanted the thrill of diving in with only the title and cover in my mind. My gut was not wrong on this one (for once). This was an amazing book.

The major theme of this book is fear, and it runs rampant throughout the story from the father, who is afraid to lose his daughter to the people afraid of “changers”,people with near death experiences. For the reader the suspense is incredible. Obviously Jason Starr has put forth the effort to plan out the story plot well, because the delivery of the first book of this four part mini-series is absolutely incredible.

The story is centered around Beth Turner, a regular teenager, whom has lost her mother tragically during a knife attack at the mall resulting in five dead. The person responsible for the attack was a woman, whom had a near death experience about a month prior. The changer had no idea why she had done the stabbing and was placed in a mental institution. The tragedy has left Beth's father in a very protective state.

People in Beth's world are coming out of near death experiences changed and acting bizarre or killing others, and this has lead to the development of a strong public prejudice to “changers”. Unfortunately Beth gets into a car accident on prom night and ends up in a coma after being clinically dead for five minutes. Once she wakes up from the coma in the hospital, we follow her and witness her experience the prejudice first hand.

I would really like to say more, but I do not want to deliver any spoilers. This is a strong start to what looks to be a great little tale. Starr has brought us a really unique story, and I am eager to read more.

Andrea Matti's artistic style is good. Her artwork shows Beth Turner is the focus of the story and truly projects Beth's emotions throughout the comic. My only reservation with saying all of this is that Matti does get sloppy in some of the panels, and Beth's plastic surgeon is working overtime on her lips. They keep getting thicker and thinner repeatedly during the comic. Also on page four Beth's father makes a spontaneous wardrobe change between panels. He goes from a checkered shirt to a plain one then back again without skipping a beat. Truly amazing (sarcastic)!

Major credit has to go to Frazer Irving for the cover of the comic. It is attractive and conveys the story. I admit it alone made me want to pick this book up, read it, and review it. That is why I made sure not to read anything about it prior to it coming out.

The Returning looks like it is going to be a great series that is full of suspense. Jump on board with me and lets see where Jason Starr takes us. 

Monster & Madman #1
The Secret History of Jack the Ripper and Frankenstein's Monster
Writer:  Steve Niles
Artist:   Damian Worm
Review:  Art Bee

When I went to pick up my comics at my local comic store this week, Monster & Madman from IDW was looking at me from the top of the stack.  This was not on my pull list, but Shawn, the store owner, had put it in our folders for Madman and me to check out.  The cover promised creepiness with the subtitle: “the secret history of Jack the Ripper and Frankenstein's Monster”.  As a horror fan, the classic monster tales hold a special place in my heart. 

Upon opening the comic, Frankenstein's Monster is shown walking in the snow, and Damien Worm has done a great job bringing it to life.  Unfortunately this is where I stop complementing Worm's artistic work.  On the next page, Frankenstein's Monster goes from wearing a white shirt to wearing a black one when he picks up a polar bear cub.  Consistency is something that is very important for the artwork of a comic book, otherwise the confusion detracts greatly from the story, making concentration on the title itself almost impossible.

The rest of the book's artwork had the feel of an old Nine Inch Nails music video, distorted and fuzzy.  Some of the panels look scribbled in frustration, and the use of shadow is completely abused to the point that therapy will be needed once the three issue mini-series is finished.

On top of the artwork being decrepit, the story is almost nonexistent.  Steve Niles provides us a narration with about as much depth as a sheet of paper.  As a writer, if you want to use an established character, you need to BUILD on the character and provide your own creativity to push the story.  In Monster & Madman, Niles is depending on the existing Frankenstein story knowledge to push his work forward.  Is it possible to fuck someone, whom has been dead for almost two centuries?  Niles has proven the answer to this question is: “Yes”.  I hope the ghost of Mary Shelley is following Steve Niles around trying to bag tag him constantly.   

This first issue only includes Jack the Ripper at the very end of the comic, but I am left wondering whether or not Frankenstein's Monster and Jack the Ripper have any business in the same story.  This idea just screams high and drunk creativity at its worst.   

I would like to wipe my ass with the pages of this comic book, but out of respect for Mary Shelley, it will be buried.  May she haunt these boys for their desecration of her art.


Friday, March 7, 2014

REVIEW: Batman and Two-Face no. 28

Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason

I stand by my statement that Batman is the love child of Bruce Lee and Sherlock Holmes. A man able to best any 6 opponents in simultaneous hand-to-hand combat and solve The Adventure of the Five Orange Pips before brunch. He's one if my favorite heroes for his mix of brain and brawn and DC is making it damn hard to like his comics lately.
Pretty well across the board, DCs Nu52 reboot has done nothing to inspire confidence in the brand. There's some decent books in the lot, don't misunderstand me. Swamp Thing is generally good, Suicide Squad still has the same chemistry it's always had, All-Star Western is great, and a handful of other titles walk the line between mediocre and periodically interesting.

When they aren't mired in horrid mega-events like Trinity of Sin or Forever Evil.

With great trepidation, I can't report any if those periodically interesting books feature Batman.
With the exception of Justice League.


I used to roll my eyes at a Grant Morrison Batman story, but in these grim days I yearn for the time when Wacky Grant was penning the Dark Knight.
The chief culprit amongst the Rogues Gallery of pedestrian Batman writers is Scott Snyder. From the Court of Owls, which started out interestingly enough only to peter out with an uninspiring end, to Death of the Family, which started out interestingly enough only to peter out with a horribly uninspiring end, to his attempt to out-Frank Miller, Frank Miller's Year One with his own Year Zero, Snyder consistently fails to deliver.

Which is unfortunate, considering I (begrudgingly) enjoy his Vertigo book, The Wake. Pick it up, it's worth it.
 But we're not talking about Lovecraftian merfolk taking over the surface world here.
We're talking about the Goddamn Batman.
Batman and Two-Face #28 is the conclusion of a multi-part story arc retelling, in true Nu52 fashion, the origin of Two-Face by stripping down the the pre-established canon to its core and leaving naught but the fact that Harvey was a lawyer as now he's a bad guy with a scarred mug and a coin.

Gone is the dramatic courtroom acid-bath. Gone is any Gilda Dent (spoiler alert: like so much Ma & Pa Kent she's already dead in the Nu52). Gone is...most of the interesting facets of the character, truth be told.
The issue picks up with Two-Face captured and about to be executed on live television, with Batman en-route to the rescue. Riding shotgun with The Batman is one of the Mckillen Sisters, a fiery redheaded set of twin Irish lasses who have been shoehorned into Batman and Two-Face's shared origin in a hackneyed attempt to rewrite comic history. The McKillen Sisters are Irish Mobsters, redheaded and hot-tempered as previously mentioned, and suren ye wouldnae be surprised tae find twa more stereotypical characters from Erin's Isle in all if comicdom, short of X-Men's Banshee from the 1960s.
Faith and Begorrah.

...okay, they don't actually talk like that but they may as well. They probably drink Bushmills and say up late singing Pogues songs and telling sad stories about The Troubles.
 The sisters are also responsible for Gilda's death and Harvey's scarring and subsequent descent into villainy.
If anyone was curious...

A majority of the issue was composed of Batman and Two-Face fighting goons whilst pausing mid-combat for an obligatory, "Harvey, there's still good in you, I can feel it!", "No way, man! I'm totes evil!" exchange.
There are a few great spots in the book. Batman tosses Harvey his trademark coin after he'd lost it in a previous issue, Batman wielding a 'Liberty and Justice' courtroom seal like a shield, and Two-Face flipping the coin for Jim Gordon's fate only for it to land on edge in the mud. The resulting panels are great, illustrating the dichotomy and turmoil between Harvey's two sides.
The issue wraps up with a classic Batman/Gordon chummy rooftop 'fighting the good fight' routine, the remaining McKillan Sister giving a rousing speech in a prison yard that includes that old chestnut, "every man has two wolves fighting inside him yadda yadda".

I've not done the research to confirm the veracity of this proverb an an ancient Native American cliche, but regardless...
Oh, and our closer involves what may or may not be a red herring, or may or may not be Two-Face shooting himself in the head.

Hard to say, it was off-panel, but if he shows up as Three-Face next time we'll know what happened.
All in all, these new Batman stories are boiling with mediocrity. If Nu52 writers aren't deconstructing and rewriting origins, they're attempting to write the new, definitive epic story. It's an admirable goal, but the focus needs to be on good storytelling with the hopes that it incidentally becomes a classic. You can't set out to write the new Year One, or Longbow Hunters, Watchmen or Emerald Dawn. It has to happen naturally, organically.
I'm not going to stop reading Batman. Fans of M.A.S.H. didn't stop watching because of angsty, preachy Alan Alda directed episodes, so I'll stick it out, hoping that this stretch of Tepid Tales of the Caped Crusader will be over sooner than later.

Here's to hoping...