Friday, July 24, 2015

REVIEW: Big Man Plans #1-4

Writers: Eric Powell and Tim Wiesch
Art: Eric Powell
Review: Art Bee

When it comes to miniseries I start more than I finish. There is a real talent in producing a quality miniseries, and many are not up for the task. Numerous series have a great start only to fizzle out halfway through and end up with a finale that has nothing to do with the beginning. It’s as I have stated before: a creator has a great idea for a scene or a character and that becomes the focus. They bend the story around it and they end up with a sub par product.

When Big Man Plans #1 looked at me from the shelf of my LBCS, I thought I would give it a chance. What a great decision! This was truly a good series to read. Four issues and not a bit wasted.

The story starts with the main character, a man who has dwarfism and only referred to as Big Man in an interior monologue.

“When you don’t care about losing your own life, when you lose the fear of losing everything, you can do anything. And the moment I read that letter, my number of fucks to give had reached zero.”

This really had my curiosity piqued as to the letters contents and who sent the letter. Big Man is setting in a bar dealing with drunkards poking fun at him and pretty harshly I may add. They get theirs; don’t worry. The entire story reminds me of a Charles Bronson Death Wish movie if Bronson was about three and a half feet high.

The story is well planned and executed. The first issue is a perfect set up with the story hook, background, and character designs. The pace of each issue is the same and the story develops naturally. I really want to share some of the highlights, but I am trying to support the sales of the story not hand it out.

Now I save the best for last: the artwork. Eric Powell’s pencils are phenomenal. Much of the story is focused on the situations occurring and his art reflects with little background and sharp contrasting lines for the characters. Colors are used perfectly to enhance emotion rather than the scenes. My favorite feature of his art is the exaggerated emotions on character faces. It adds intensity to the story that many others lack.

As the last issue came out two weeks ago, please pick this up in a trade or get the back issues. By the look of my LCBS they had issues left over, so you may be about to find them in dollar boxes. This series is really worth the read. You will truly enjoy it, although it is recommended for mature audiences.

REVIEW: Red Skull #1

Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Luca Pizzari
Color Artist: Rainier Beredo
Review: Cody "Madman" Miller

I decided way before Secret Wars: The Threequal started that I wasn’t going to make eye contact and maybe it’d just go away.

I was wrong . . . so, so wrong.

I passed on the two prior mega-events that Marvel shat out as well. I can’t even think what they were called off of the top of my head at the moment, that’s how much I actually cared. Marvel and DC are both suffering from diarrhea of the mega-event, saturation bombing their relevance right outta comicdom. Unless you’ve been living on some distant planet you have to know that Marvel has burnt their Multiverse to the ground and have launched all kinds of new series that I refuse to care about . . . I mean, chances are good that in about a year Marvel will just reset the MU back to how it was before Joe Q and the rest of the Marvel high ups started getting high and coming up with this “great idea” called Battleworld. I don’t like it. To be fair I haven’t read enough of the titles to say that they’re all horrible, not entertaining books and few that I have been reading such as Masters of Kung Fu, Old Man Logan, and 1872, and M.O.D.O.K: Assassins have all been entertaining reads. It’s the main title and its core tie-ins that give me the Mehs. It’s just seems like they (Marvel) just want to see what they can get away with. How long were the Marvel Executives sitting around the in the think tank in complete silence before some hero blurts out “Battleworld?” Even the name is generic and uninspired. I don’t like it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

REVIEW: Archie #1

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Fiona Staples
Review: William R. Davis Jr.

America is a country founded on unwavering faith in an abstract idea. The American Dream drives the nation forward even in today’s overly pessimistic times. To most Americans this core belief still holds true: anyone can become anything with a strong work ethic or one great idea. Stories like Archie are rooted in this same brand of national optimism.

Before there was Dawson, there was Archie. There are hundreds of examples of this in every medium of American storytelling. All of our most greatly admired protagonists are Beaver Cleavers, Kevin Arnolds, and Rudy Ruettigers. Archie is just another example of the angels of our better nature finding their way onto the page. I sat searching for answers as to why we need these morality tales (and we do), but the answer is either inherently and subconsciously American or something that I am not willing to admit to myself out of some deep seated shame. Let me come clean, I have indulged in my fair share of Full House and The Brady Bunch episodes.

Monday, July 6, 2015

REVIEW: Marvel Zombies #1

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Kev Walker
Review: Will Dubbeld

Oh boy, you guys, where to start?
Secret Wars is upon us, and dearly departed Marvel 616 rapidly becomes a distant memory. I'll not delve into the minutiae of Secret Wars, but between Beyonders destroying worlds, Namor and Thanos destroying other worlds, Dr. Doom remaking the world with godlike powers and Captain America tooling around with Devil Dinosaur, it's crazy. Whack, some might say.
I'd even go so far as to call it cray cray.

Dr. Dooms remanufactured world, (called Battleworld) is a composite of several chunks if alternate earths, making the backdrop for Secret Wars like a bunch of What If? back issues tossed into a cauldron and poured onto the page.


The setting for Marvel Zombies is a realm besieged by (surprise, surprise...) zombies and defended by heroes manning a Great Wall (zing!) called The Shield. Our protagonist comes to us in the form of Elsa Bloodstone and I'm pretty happy about that.

A little moment to rap about Elsa Bloodstone, if I may. Elsa is a rough and tumble monster hunter possessing a fragment of a meteor that grants her some degree of superpowers. She also has the distinction of being the daughter of Ulysses Bloodstone, monster hunter par excellence and bearer of the Bloodstone proper. The Bloodstone is a super-power grantin' meteorite that was encountered by a Hyborian barbarian who bombed around doing superhuman business for the next 10,000 years.
Because someone at Marvel was like, "Vandal Savage what?"

Anyhow, I love Ulysses Bloodstone despite the character being dead for longer than I've been alive and via the transitive property I also love his daughter Elsa.
Don't worry. It's a pure kind of love.
I enjoyed her miniseries, but the character really came into her own in Nextwave, a Warren Ellis series that arguably deconstructed the super hero archetype better than Watchmen.

This particular incarnation of Elsa finds her defending The Shield against endless hordes of zombies, and through zombie teleporting happenstance ends up stranded in the zombie-controlled wasteland beyond.
After disposing of a zombie Doctor Octopus she finds herself in the company of an amnesiac boy, dubbed 'Shuttup' by our erstwhile heroine, and attempting to safely make it back to The Shield.

'Shuttup' provides comedy relief, and the interplay between he and Elsa is entertaining, but I don't trust this kid. He suggests heading away from The Shield, toward parts unknown, instead of towards safety. Elsa eventually relents after seeing the horde of zombies barring their path. Kev Walker's art shines here. Elsa crests a ridge only to find the horizon and everything else in her field of vision a roiling swarm of undead. It's almost as great as his rendition of Zombie Juggernaut.
I'm just gonna let that image tumble around your grey matter for a bit.
Zombie. Juggernaut.

So, Elsa and her youthful charge head off into the post-apocalyptic zombie infested wasteland. It's no surprise that they're not alone, and I'm certain plenty of monster hunter-on-zombie action will ensue in the remainder if the series.

There are waaayyyy too many tie-in books to Secret Wars, and this dutiful Marvel Zombie is buying his share of obscurae for the event. I'm staying away from the Civil Wars and House of M and other well-known properties and picking up your basic Weirdworlds and your Where Monsters Dwell and what have you. Most of the good stories deal with minor characters from little, forgotten corners of the Marvel Universe and Marvel Zombies is no exception.

Spurrier crafts a witty character in Elsa and the PTSD flashbacks of the borderline abusive training at the hands of her father are chilling, yet darkly comedic.
How twisted is that? 1-10...
Kev Walker nails it in the art department with the assistance of Frank D'Armata on colors. Crisp, detailed figures and backgrounds coupled with colors that juggle dreary and bright from page to page really make the art in this book pop.

I'm not quite inundated with Secret Wars books yet, but the bucket it rapidly filling. After giving quite a few the first issue treatment I'm now at the point where I see who makes the cut. As weary as I am of the zombie pop-culture phenomena I'm keeping this particular zombie book on my pull list for the foreseeable future.

Marvel Zombie must buy product, after all.