Monthly Archives: December 2011
The Guild: Zaboo(one-shot)
The last The Guild one-shot is the best. Simply put, Felica Day’s latest (and final) installment of one-shots focusing on different members of the Knights Of Good is one of the most fun comics of the year, and I regret already writing my “Top Comics of 2011” before reading this. Focusing on Zaboo, this issue serves as a prequel to the entire series, and chronicles Zaboo trying to get to Codex, the event that kicks off the phenomenal Guild series.
Co-written by Day and Sandeep Parikh, the actor who plays Zaboo, the issue contains numerous hilarious asides that tie into different RPG style games and other video games. Many of these jokes had me laughing uncontrollably, and it makes this book extremely unique when compared with other books on the shelf. Hell, it even separates this issue from the other one-shots in this series. We also get some great backstory about Zaboo’s time in grade school (it doesn’t end well), and the depiction of his mother’s Terminator-like ability to come to her son’s aid is hilarious.
This book is only made sweeter with the inclusion of Becky Cloonan’s art. The artist for the new upcoming Conan book for Dark Horse, Cloonan’s art is so amazingly awesome in this issue that it’s hard to describe. Her panel layouts add to the jokes peppered throughout the book, and her splash page of Zaboo escaping his house is one of the greatest pages I’ve seen all year. There is more action and energy in that splash page then in some runs from the big two this past year. In fact, the big two could probably stand to take notice of Cloonan’s art in this book and take notes.
The Guild: Zaboo is an incredible, awesome, hilarious, and beautiful book. I can’t throw more positive comments at this book. This is the last of the Guild one-shots, but I hope this isn’t the last we see from Felicia Day in comic books. This book (and this series) has shown how great the comic medium can work with already established properties, and I hope to god we get more. Buy this. Watch The Guild, buy the books, and enjoy the fact that your life is better for it.
Joe Hill’s The Cape #3 (of 4)
Ho. Lee. Shit. The latest issue of The Cape has one of the most bugnuts things I’ve ever seen in a comic book. Adapted from Joe Hill’s short story, the third issue finds Eric going after his mother, and the things he’s done so far pale in comparison to what happens in this issue. Jason Ciaramella script goes places that even I was surprised with, and Zach Howard’s art is insane. I can’t wait for the next issue. If you like seeing bad people do bad things, then you can’t go wrong with The Cape.
The year is winding down, and with it comes a time to do one of my favorite things: rattling off a list of some of the greatest (and worst) things of the year. Since this column is associated with the mighty Jetpack Comics, let’s take a look at some of the best comics that came out this past year. Of course, these are just my opinion; so feel free to yell at me if you disagree next time you’re in the store.
Let’s get this right out of the way: this is best thing Marvel is publishing. Period. It may even be the best thing being published by ANY company. Rick Remender has taken characters that are way too over exposed (Wolverine, Deadpool) and characters that need more time in the spotlight, (Fantomex) and created a compelling team that operates outside of the current X-goings on. From the opening “Apocalypse Suite” arc to the just recently wrapped “Dark Angel Saga”, Uncanny X-Force has been firing on all cylinders, and from the sounds of it, it’s only just beginning.
When the DC relaunch was first announced, there was a lot of speculation about the creative teams for the 52 new series. Many fears were alleviated once Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo were announced for the (once again Bruce Wayne) Dark Knight’s book. Branching off his other Bat-tales from last year, while also being completely new reader friendly, Snyder’s ongoing tale has introduced fans to The Court Of Owls, a mysterious society that has been working in secret in Gotham for centuries. Bruce’s refusal to believe that they even exist is quickly starting to be his downfall. Snyder’s excellent portrayal of Bruce Wayne’s personality coupled with Capullo’s jaw-dropping visuals makes this one of the best titles to come out of the DC relaunch.
I love The Rocketeer. It was one of the first movies that my parents had bought a replacement copy because I watched it so much. So naturally, when I learned that IDW was planning on doing an anthology series with some of the best creators in the business, I was extremely excited, and the series exceeded my expectations. From John Cassady’s gorgeous story in the opening issue to the amazing pin ups that were spaced out throughout the four issue run, every issue of Rocketeer Adventures filled me with joy and made me feel like I was five years old again, watching Cliff Secord soar over the skies and punching out Nazis.
This book came out of nowhere, and is probably still on the fringe of the DC “new 52”. Focusing on Etrigan The Demon and his random band of medieval heroes, Demon Knights gives writer Paul Cornell freedom to go crazy with the medieval DC universe, and his knack for solid character work is in full force here. This is a book that I look forward to every time it’s released, and wish that each issue was twice as long as it really is.
The Strange Talent Of Luther Strode
A mix between Kick-Ass and the Hulk, Image Comics’ The Strange Talent of Luther Strode is extremely bloody, but also extremely entertaining. Creators Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore came out of nowhere, and deserve every accolade they get with this series. The book tells the tale of Luther Strode, a nerdy comic fan who mails away for a Charles Atlas type workout plan and gains extreme level super strength. This is a book FOR the dweeby comic nerd who was picked on his high school (so, a majority of us), and secretly wished that they could gain superpowers. As of right now it’s a six-issue mini, but hopefully this will give it the push it needs to become an ongoing.
These five aren’t the only books worth your time though. IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles relaunch rules, Action Comics got Grant Morrison back after Final Crisis, Wonder Woman is surprisingly good, Amazing Spider-man has been rock solid this year, and yes, I still like Mark Waid’s Daredevil. Even the impossible, a great Aquaman comic book, happened in 2011. But not everything that happened in comics was great this year. So stay tuned for next week’s column, where I’ll look at the flip side of things, and give you my opinion on what I thought were the WORST books of the year…
Batman: Leviathan Strikes! (One-shot)
When DC launched the “New 52” a lot of people were wondering what would happen with Grant Morrison’s Batman epic Batman, Inc., the controversial new series that saw Bruce Wayne “franchising” out Batman, creating a literal army for the entire world. Despite some of my criticisms of to how “in character” this move was, Batman, Inc. was for the most part enjoyable, and with this one-shot we finally get some closure on the first part of the bigger “Leviathan” story.
Leviathan Strikes is essentially the final two issues of Morrison’s Batman, Inc. storyline, which is apparent from the fact that both stories included in this beefy one-shot aren’t connected much at all. The first story, which feature art from the great Cameron Stewart, features the Stephanie Brown Batgirl’s investigation of a British all-girl prep school. If you haven’t guessed already, the events in these two stories take place pre-“New 52”, and while we don’t get any details about what’s happened to Stephanie, the story is still very entertaining, and presented the character in a great way. This was my first time reading anything featuring Stephanie, and I was really impressed with her as a character. Stewart’s art is phenomenal in this story. It has just enough detail, but still has a cartoon-like quality to it. To say I’m a fan of his art is an understatement to be honest. Morrison’s script is pretty straight forward as well. I like Morrison, but I hate when he gets too “out there”, as I feel like he’s someone who comes up with great ideas, but sometimes has trouble reigning them in for the average comic book reader. Thankfully this first story if easily digestable.
The second part of the one shot hones in on the “Leviathan” storyline more directly, and is a great example of Morrison working with grand ideas and accessibility for the reader. Batman’s fight against Leviathan is mind-bending, and you’ll probably have to read it at least twice to get it. Thankfully this isn’t a bad thing (strange, I know), because you’ll get to see more of Chris Burnham’s artwork, which is great in it’s own right. Like a mix of Eric Powell and Paul Pope, Burnham’s art is great during the rugged fight scenes, and Morrison’s script fires on all cylinders, especially when we get the big reveal as to who is really behind Leviathan. Hint: it’s not who you think.
Batman: Leviathan Strikes! was well worth the wait, and while I may have had some problems with Morrison’s Batman, Inc. in the past, I’m actually looking forward to it in the upcoming year. I wish we had some more explanations as to how this ties into the “New 52” universe, but I’m sure someone will fill us in at some point.
Holy crap. Rick Remender is a sick, sick man. With Flash Thompson on the run and working for Crime Master, he’s forced to team up with the one person he hates the most: Jack O’Lantern. Remender reveals plenty about this new incarnation of the Spider-man C-level villain, and holy shit, is it dark. This is not for the faint of heart, and Lan Medina’s final page will haunt me for a while now. If you’re looking for a superhero book with a very sinister dark side, Venom is the one for you.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (2011)
Starring: Robert Downy, Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace
Directed By: Guy Ritchie
The holiday season is quickly becoming the new blockbuster are for studios, and this season is no exception. With the releases of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and newest Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movie, entitled A Game of Shadows. If the latest Holmes adventure is any indication, we’ve going to have a lot of fun this month at the multiplex.
The newest adventure for Holmes and Watson (Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law, respectively) involves the duo matching wits with the infamous Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris), all while Holmes deals with the fact that his brother from another mother Watson is a newlywed. Holmes, in the midst of trying to solve the evil Professor’s latest scheme, is also at a loss dealing with the fact that his BFF Watson is moving on with his life. He’s no longer rooming with him on Baker Street, and is not an active participant in his cases. Thankfully though, the two still have great chemistry together on screen, and in many ways, the scenes between RDJ and Jude Law are the highlights of the film, which is saying a lot since there are some spectacular action sequences in this film.
|Harris as Moriarty|
In many ways, this is a sequel that improves on the original. The action is better, the characters are stronger since we know them already, and the villain is a lot stronger. I had no problem with Mark Strong in the previous film, but Jared Harris’ Moriarty is awesome. I always pictured Moriarty as a lot bigger than Holmes (probably cause I watched The Great Mouse Detective a lot as a kid), but within minutes I was sold on Harris. Moriarty is extremely intelligent (like Holmes), but also has a very imposing and intimidating look, all without really doing much. Guy Ritchie really nailed home the fact the Moriarty is a dark mirror of Holmes, a fact that I really appreciate as a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories. There are also some great nods to the original story that Moriarty appears in, “The Final Problem”, and Holmes even refers to him as “The Napoleon Of Crime”, just like in said story.
Rounding out the cast is Noomi Rapace as Simza Heron, a gypsy who’s brother has ties to Moriarty, and Stephen Fry as Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft. Both are great additions to the cast, and I was really impressed by Rapace, as this was my first exposure to her work (I know, I know, I still haven’t seen the Swedish Dragon Tattoo films). She may not have had a lot to do with the action scenes, but she was still a good macguffin to get Holmes and Watson to go after Moriarty.
There are a lot of people that cried foul when Sherlock Holmes came out over the fact that Sherlock Holmes was a “brawler”. This really bothered me, because Doyle states in many of his Holmes’ tales that he can fight, and even enjoys a good scrap or two. Needless to say, if you were one of those people who didn’t enjoy seeing Holmes take out some goons by analyzing their weak points in slow-mo, then you probably won’t like this one any better. I for one, enjoy it, mainly because Holmes SHOULD know how to defend himself when working on crimes, and the fighting style presented in these films (Holmes observing his enemies quickly and predicting their strikes) is EXACTLY how someone who thinks like him would fight, and I really enjoy watching him kick ass. The “fight” between Holmes and Moriarty towards the end of the film is awesome, and I love how it showed that they both can not only fight, but are also equals in terms of intelligence.
Robert Downey, Jr. is once again extremely entertaining as Holmes, and Jude Law’s Watson is the ultimate straight man to his antics. If you’re a fan of the original, you owe it to yourself to see this one, it blows the other out of the water.
3 1/2 pipes out of 4
|You think you know, but you have no idea|
Avengers: X-Sanction #1 (of 4)
The lead up to Marvel’s next event begins here with Avengers: X-Sanction. Under the helm of the creative team of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, the first installment of the four-issue mini finds the return of Cable to the Marvel universe, and he’s got the Avengers in his sites. Apparently he is under the assumption that The Avengers will bring about the death of his adoptive daughter Hope, whom he most recently “sacrificed” himself for.
This issue is technically fine, although we don’t get too many answers as to how Cable is back, or why he believes the Avengers are responsible for the “death” of Hope. All we get are some sequences in a strange time dimension with Blaquesmith, some sort of alien time dude (to be completely honest, I know next to nothing about Cable), who tells Cable that The Avengers are the reason for Hope’s death in the past. Cable, whose return is also a little questionable. The fact that his techno-virus is currently ravaging his body is pretty cool though.
Even if Loeb’s script is a little hard to follow, Ed McGuinness’ pencils are fantastic as always. I’m a big fan of his over-the-top style, and this issue is no exception. If you aren’t a fan of his art before, this probably won’t change your opinion on him, but if you are a fan, this is a treat. The opening battle sequence between the Avengers and a group of villains is very cool to see, and McGuinness’ depiction of Cable is pretty grizzled (so awesome).
If you’re looking for answers about the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men mega-event, you’re probably going to be disappointed with X-Sanction. It’s a tease for what’s to come, and even though I would’ve liked some more answers than I got, I’m still going to pick up the next issue.
Batman & Robin #4
Peter J. Thomasi and Patrick Gleason continue their intriguing look at the relationship between Bruce Wayne and his son Damien, and the cracks are starting to show. It’s really cool to see Bruce Wayne, who is known to be a character that is almost over-prepared be completely clueless when it comes to being a father to his son. Throw in the new villain Nobody, and you have a whole new dynamic to the Batman and Robin team. While it may not be at the level of Scott Snyder’s Batman series, it’s damn close, and well worth your $2.99.
I applaud Marvel for giving the fans of Scarlet Spider what they want, even if it’s not exactly what they want. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of the character, it will be cool to have a different flavor out there for the Spider-man line of books, and I’ll definitely be checking out at least the first issue. But the second there’s even a hint of a hoodie in the book, I’m out.
Oh Deadpool. I’ve been with you from the beginning, even though the rest of the comic-reading world gave up on you a long time ago. Yet, for some reason, I can drop you. Oh, I tried, and actually got a few issues away from you. Until the introduction of “Evil Deadpool”, that is, then I promptly picked up the issues I’d missed and here we are, on our way to the “DEAD” story-arc. I may hate most of the people who are fans of you, but for some reason, I can’t drop you Wade.
This issue continues Deadpool’s fight with his evil doppelganger, a bizzarro Deadpool constructed out of body parts that had been lopped off of the Merc With A Mouth. Since Deadpool can regenerate, there’s no need for him to hold onto these parts, so of course, someone took them and made themselves and evil Deadpool. Last issue ended with Captain America showing up to kick Deadpool’s ass, mistakingly believing that the REAL Deadpool was responsible for all of the chaos his evil twin as caused. Issue #47 picks up right where we left off, and opens with a pretty entertaining fight between Deadpool and Cap. I personally enjoy it more when Deadpool acts stupider than he is (as opposed to just throwing out one-liners), so this fight was a welcome addition to the issue. Deadpool escapes, and upon learning what his doppelganger has planned, he decides to do the same thing and steal his rival’s thunder, believing that in doing so, he’ll just do something else.
Deadpool’s plan is pretty surprising, and I’m impressed that writer Daniel Way decided to go in such a dark direction for the series. Of course, it’s Deadpool, and is presented in a very light-hearted way, but still, Deadpool kidnaps a kid. Not exactly Saturday morning cartoon stuff. Artist Salva Espin keeps the same art style that has become the standard “Deadpool look”. To be honest though, I’d really like to see someone new take over art duties. At the very least, it would shake up the series enough so that each issue doesn’t look exactly the same.
Detective Comics #4
Well, looks like it took Tony Daniel four issues to fall back into the same old traps that he fell into with his previous Batman run. This means that the writing is, well, not up to snuff. This issue wraps up the story of new villain Dollmaker, and it pretty much happens as you would expect it to: Batman fights Dollmaker’s goons, another bad-guy’s henchman shows up, Batman escapes the death trap, Gordon is rescued, and Dollmaker escapes. Blah, blah, blah. Oh, there’s also an ending with Bruce and his new girlfriend (seriously, how many does he have at this point?) that is kind of random. To be honest, I had completely forgotten about this girl. Even Batman diehards like me are having a hard time finding positives with this issue.
|Bernthal, pre-“murder haircut”|
|“You can park your RV right next to the zombie barn. I mean…”|
|“YOU IN THE BACK! STOP CRYING!”|
So far, a B+. It’s good, but we’ve got a little more to go to get that A.