Writer: Paul Tobin
Artist: Juan Ferrevra
I don’t know what it is with my luck, but I never seem to discover the good horror comics when they begin. Colder #1 is no exception. Despite other creators heaping huge doses of praise on this comic in the letters section, the only other creepy thing about this book is the cover. And I never got to find out how the guy can do that thing he does on the front of the comic with his fingers. (That’s really the only thing I wanted to know going into the book.)
Strangely, Colder’s story only revolves around supporting characters. We never get to see this Mister Freeze knockoff do anything until the last page. The first half is about the being that turns our protagonist, Declan, into a meatsicle. (This is apparently supposed to be the creepy part.) But if anyone reading this comic truly finds this nimble-jack creepy, I must urge you to please go read any decent comic with The Joker… Because he’s tons more creepy than this soul eater. I swear if I saw the word “hungry” one more time in this book, I was gonna toss it.
The comic’s second half is literally taken up by an improbable conversation between a Boston Police Officer and a woman after an attempted purse snatching. I can’t think of a single person I know that would have this kind of long, personal conversation with a complete stranger (who is also a police officer)– like this woman does. Doubly so in Boston. I mean, the officer actually asks a question about the woman’s sex life– and she is casual about it. Really?
I will say the art and color work both look pretty cool, but it was definitely one of those comics that make you realize not everyone is cut out to be a comic book letterer. I actually thought it was near-impossible to poorly letter a comic in this digital age… But AXE Body Spray and American Ninja Warrior advertisements have better lettering. I’m more than kinda surprised Dark Horse didn’t insist on fixing the overly large fonts in some places and the overly large white spaces in other word balloons.
If you are looking for a new horror comic (which Dark Horse claims this is)– then skip Colder. It’s really a fantasy book (with a psychotic Puck for an antagonist), that is more gimmicky than creepy. – W.D. Prescott
Detective Comics #14
Seeds & Dirt (Back-up)
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Jason Fabok, Andy Clarke
Holy Friggin’ Crap on a Cannoli! An actual IMJ Capsule Review™ that will actually be a “capsule” review! I would never normally do this, mainly because it seems lazy (and mainly because it is lazy) but I will now refer you to my review of John Layman’s Detective Comics #13.
Everything I praised there? Double It.
Layman must be having so much fun with this comic. Safe to say, he looks like he is. I also think it’s safe to say I have never seen a new writer take over a Bat Book and seem to get so comfortable, so quick. Sure Layman’s written plenty of comics (many mainstream) away from his Indie-darling Chew, but it’s not like he’s been banging around on different DC Comics titles for the past few years– waiting for his big break on Detective.
It’s like he bided his time, got the opportunity after making some substantial bones in the industry, was handed the keys to the Batmobile and asked, “Has anybody ever really tried to see how fast this damn thing will go?”
Like the previous issue, Batman is a DETECTIVE here. Even though this story is also filled with lots of action, you can literally see his internal wheels turning all the time. What’s Poison Ivy’s real agenda? How much is the Penguin involved? Who’s right and who’s wrong? It’s so nice to actually see a comic book character ponder that question seriously again. What used to be the driving force of all great comics featuring great heroes is brought to the forefront again.
I will also re-emphasize something I said about the previous issue. DC should COMBINE the main story and the back-up. This need/want is especially evident here… As the back-up leads into the main story… So it’s quite jarring to have the main tale end a certain way and then have the back-up explain how we just got to where we just were. FUSE THE TWO DAMN STORIES TOGETHER! If you want to keep both artists on the different stories working (FINE), if Main Story artist Jason Fabok can only draw 20 great pages a month (FINE), if you still feel the need to divide the two stories into different chapters (FINE) and if you have to put the Back-Up in the front of the book– because that story occurs BEFORE the main story (FINE).
I doubt Fabok’s ego can be so big he couldn’t possibly follow Andy Clarke’s shorter story. You may think it DC– but comic fans are not stupid. The man/woman who draws the LONGER of the two stories in a comic book is considered to be the MAIN artist.
I’m afraid if DC is going to give John Layman 30 pages of Detective Comics to write every month, I’m not going to rest until they allow Layman to structure the book this way. I can easily live with two different artists telling different chapters of the same story. Hell, in a world where Marvel uses 3 inkers on one 10-page script, this kind of artistic continuity would be welcome. Come on, DC… I know you’re reading this review and I also know you know I’m right. If you put a blurb on the cover that reads, “30 Pages for $3.99!”, there’s no way in bloody hell you won’t sell more books.
Not really a “capsule” review after all, huh? You didn’t really think I was going to cheat you, did you? – Ian MacMillan
Writers: Ian Brill, Matt Gagnon
Artists: Joshua Covey, Felipe Smith
There’s one way to get me to try out a new series– charge one dollar for it. Every time any publisher does, I pick up their comic. It’s worth a shot at least. I can usually make a dollar out of the change I find in the cup holder of my car… So why not?
Boom! Studios publishes Freelancers– and I’m always interested in their creator owned series. But I do have to say, after a first glance at one of the covers (and a preview I saw on IMJ), I thought the girls looked generic and over-sexualized. So my expectations for the series were pretty low. (But like I said– it’s only a buck.) I figured best case scenario would be some fun action sequences or maybe even a decent plot. I never expected there to be much more than fluff and fan service in the comic. However, Freelancers was pretty good.
Cassie and Val are the bounty hunters who take dangerous jobs for rich clients who prefer to remain anonymous. Sometimes they are looking for a person. Sometimes they are recovering stolen property. And sometimes, they might actually get paid. The comic does a good job setting up the characters and the tone. Besides a couple of flaws in the coloring, I was engaged through the whole story. I actually like the characters quite a bit– and that’s not easy to do in only one issue.
Writers Ian Brill and Matt Gagnon each write a story, fleshing out the bond between the women– while also giving a little info on stuff that I’m sure will come later in the series (like a “kung-fu orphanage”). The overall tone of the book has a kind of 70s “B-Movie” feel and there’s a nice blend of action and plot.
The art is very clean (maybe too clean– obviously done on a computer), and I do wish they would’ve paid more attention to better coloring. Most everything’s really bright colors and no shadows. The comic looked like it was colored really fast. There were a couple of times something like a car would be a different color from one page to the next, which is sloppy. Then again, I looked to see who colored the book and it was 3 different people… Usually not something that happens.
Freelancers may not be terribly groundbreaking in plot, but it is a fun action romp with a couple of female leads with enough attitude and skills to get them into– and out of– just about any kind of trouble they run across. It’s a welcome surprise and well worth the $1 price of admission. I will continue to buy this book– happy to add it to my pull list.
Job well done by the creators (minus the inattentive colorists)– and Boom!’s $1.00 marketing scheme. – Tom Devine
Iron Man #1
Believe Part 1 of 5: Demons and Genies
Writer: Kieron Gillen
“Artist”: Greg Land
Is everybody digging on all these NEW and improved Marvel NOW! comics? I don’t know about you, but with the exception of Punisher War Zone, everything I’ve read so far has been a steaming pile of horseshit. BUT I take my “job” of Comic Book Critic very seriously. That’s why I will continue to put myself in the terrible position of letting you, the reader, know if all the ballyhoo and hype being secreted from every orifice of The Mighty Marvel
Shit Spewing PR Machine is to be believed… Or if, in fact, you are being sold a batch of stale, unoriginal, recycled and/or repackaged goods.
There are so many NEW #1s coming out in Marvel’s NOW! line that I almost have no other choice BUT to review them. These NEW #1s are the perfect jumping on point for NEW readers– but more importantly, they are also the perfect jumping off point for current readers. See, most of these NEW #1s aren’t really NEW at all. They are continuations from series that ended just a month or so ago. Punisher War Zone is just The Punisher, Uncanny Avengers is just The Avengers, Secret Avengers is just, um… Secret Avengers (Man, they didn’t even try with that one, huh?) and Iron Man is just Invincible Iron Man… Which I think is kinda funny, primarily because a lot of Marvel’s Not Original Whatsoever Line are really just examples of the publisher adding or changing the adjectives in the name of whichever title they are replacing. Iron Man just drops the adjective Invincible— So, hey, still not really all that NEW.
All Marvel NOW! really represents is the rejiggering of creative teams on the different comics… Something that already happens at Marvel every few months. So why are these moves so special? You got it, they aren’t special… They’re just more motherfucking cash grabs. It’s that time of the year (which, at Marvel, actually lasts all year long) where the company’s got to artificially inflate their sales figures… Since DC’s very own cash grab– The New 52– has been handing Marvel their asses. At least the name for DC’s cash grab makes sense. The New 52… As in, “Hey y’all, we gots us 52 NEW comics with new #1s. EVERYTHING is starting over so get in on the ground floor!”
I bring that up because I have no idea what Marvel NOW! is truly supposed to signify. When you think about it, every new comic week for Marvel (and all other companies) is NOW!
Is it supposed to be like, “Hey y’all, all them there comics that came out before, that was then. These NEW comics? This is NOW!”? Or is it just Marvel’s not-so-clever way of saying, “Hey y’all, all those comics that came out before, we’re just going to tell y’all the same goddamn stories… But by putting the NOW! label on them, we suspect you dumb asses will think they’re NEW and fall in love with Marvel all over again!”? Or is it, “Guess what! These NEW books will be so utterly dumbed down, don’t be surprised if you feel fucking embarrassed simply by reading them!”?
On top of that, not every series is getting a new #1– yet they are still labeled as Marvel NOW! comics. That’s confusing. And if that wasn’t ridiculous enough, all of these NOW! comics have the motto “Join the ReEVOLUTION!” on the covers. I get what they’re TRYING to convey, but the message is just dumb as fuck. Not only couldn’t Marvel come up with a decent name for their not really a relaunch line, but they also couldn’t come up with motto that is not completely idiotic. This is the reason why it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Jeph Loeb and Brian Michael Bendis still have some sweet paying gigs at the company. Marvel no longer has any idea what is good, what is clever, what is original or what will ACTUALLY get them new readers.
Annnnnd, I just remembered I am supposed to be reviewing Iron Man #1. So, ok let’s do that kinda quick like.
Kieron Gillen is/was a good writer but this issue was boring. Even more boring than the issue of Aquaman I reviewed last week– and you know what I thought of that. I hate to keep beating this dead horse (I’m kidding, I really secretly love it) but there is nothing NEW here. Not a damn thing. It is like almost every Marvel NOW! book I have read so far. Oh noes, someone stole some tech that Tony Stark once used AND they are now using it for EEEEEVVVVVIIILLLLLLLL! Namely The Extremis. Hey, isn’t there a new Iron Man Movie coming out that deals with THE EXTREMIS too? Funny.
To be fair, Gillen is saddled with the worst “artist” the comics industry currently employs– Greg Land. I’m thinking that Gillen is being forced to script the comic according to Land’s complete lack of talent. That is some awfully difficult constraints to work under. And let me tell you, as boring as this script is to read– the art is so much more coma inducing. By now, we ALL know how truly repugnant and insulting the “art” of Greg Land is to every master of sequential art who has come before him. And since you ALL know this, you won’t be surprised when I tell you the following:
– Tony Stark’s look (i.e. His face) changes no less than 5 times.
– Pepper Pott’s face only changes 3 times, but it takes you out of the story every time it does. Just awful.
– If it weren’t for photoshop being used on the backgrounds, they would be on par with Rob Liefeld’s.
– Full body poses are duplicated IN THE SAME PANEL!
– So much porny face tracing.
– You can tell when Land had no reference to trace. The art is that hideous.
– The last half of the book is– without a doubt– the most boring and static fight scene I have ever seen.
To call this book a hot mess would be a complaint– so I’ll just say that it is the perfect representation of what Marvel NOW! is all about. – Jose Melendez
Iron Man #1
Believe Part 1 of 5: Demons and Genies
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Greg Land, Jay Leisten
I don’t know if I’m being easy or harsh with the following review.
Iron Man is the latest Marvel NOW! comic– meaning my expectations were kinda low going in. I’m not the biggest Iron Man fan… But Tony Stark’s had moments I’ve liked.
Overall, Iron Man didn’t seem as overtly terrible as Uncanny Avengers. For one, this book actually possessed some semblance of a story and writer Kieron Gillen was actually able to tie it up by the end. Still, it wasn’t the greatest story. There were even a couple of plot points that seemed weird… Like the moment where Tony thinks his repulsor technology is more valuable to the military then his high-tech armor made of liquid smart metal. Or when an apparently highly intelligent woman has to purposefully act like a ditz to be interesting to Tony. Other than that, we see Marvel trying to tie the comic into their movie universe– with a last panel like all those close up inside armor shots we get in the films. (Tony apparently missed that black was so 2000.)
I wasn’t that upset reading the book… But I still don’t think there’s anything new to draw in lapsed fans and nothing similar enough to the movies to draw in new fans. I also don’t see that much of a change in Tony or what he does or what he thinks to warrant this title’s inclusion in the Marvel NOW! group of comics.
I’m getting a definite feeling of DC New 52 deja vu here… – W.D. Prescott
New Avengers #32
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Carlos Pacheco, Roger Martinez, Cam Smith, Scott Hanna
I mentioned last week that I edit this column. Do you type a lot? If so, do you ever notice that no matter how much you try, you just cannot spell certain words correctly… That no matter how many times your brain self-corrects, you always type a word wrong? I’ve never met a person who writes (a lot) on a computer that doesn’t have this problem. And it’s not really a “problem”– especially when it’s funny.
Take, for example, Jose Melendez. Almost every single time he reviews or writes about a particular Marvel Architect, he misspells his first name. He also seems to have a mental block in typing this guy’s middle name too– as if he thinks the guy and his work aren’t worth the time and trouble to type out all three of his names. The particular creator in question? Brian Michael Bendis.
Jose types his name Brain Bendis 99.9% of the time… Which is particularly funny when you realize just how little Jose cares for the guy’s comics. So yeah, I’m the person responsible for turning “Brain Bendis” into “Brian Michael Bendis”. You’re welcome. Bet you can’t wait to become an editor someday.
I was thinking about Brain Bendis while I was reading this shitty Avengers comic today. I actually giggled as I watched him moronically script a comic and turn Dr. Strange— one of the smartest Marvel characters ever created– into a completely bland idiot. On top of that, every time Dr. Strange casts a spell in the comic, Bendis FILLS these panel with the NAME of the Spell, the NAME of the Book the Spell appears in– including the Chapter or Appendix number. These footnotes don’t even have the decency to appear in an actual box. They are just LAID OVER the art, obscuring whatever might be interesting in the panel.
Do you give a hairy rat’s ass about ANY of this? I know I didn’t.
Brain is a hack. He passed his Creator Expiration Date years ago. Brain apparently wouldn’t know how to write a decent comic if you hit him upside the head with a Daredevil Omnibus filled with examples of when he used to write decent comics. New Avengers #32 is sub-titled “End Times” on the cover. You’d think after writing 200 Avengers comics (the different titles of which are legion: Avengers, New Avengers, Dark Avengers…), Brain might want to step it up and go out with a flourish.
Instead he’s collecting big checks, marking time and shedding his Avengers responsibilities… Slowly. I’m not quite sure what’s taking him so long to leave (Marvel would no doubt claim scheduling of the new MarvelNOW! titles) but in the meantime, Bendis seemingly couldn’t care less. Sadly, Marvel doesn’t seem to care all that much about his replacements on these comics either. Kelly Sue DeConnick is apparently taking over the Avengers Assemble title from Bendis next month. Given my feelings for Matt Fraction’s wife’s work on the new Captain Marvel book, succeeding Bendis on an Avengers title seems right up her alley. She has just the right amount of the non-sensical, lack-of-depth storytelling quality that seems de rigueur for most Avengers titles nowadays.
Carlos Pacheco’s art is fine– if you don’t mind an almost total lack of detail. He seems to exist here primarily to draw busty women– and to figure out how many ways he can make it look like Victoria Hand is going to bust out of her flimsy white blouse as she convulses under Strange’s various (aforementioned) spells. The idea that Hand– Norman Osborn’s right hand woman at the wholly corrupt H.A.M.M.E.R.– was ever picked as the official liaison to the Avengers shows just how vacuous this comic really is.
Oh yeah, Brain KILLS both Victoria and Damon Hellstrom in this issue. BFD. I doubt either are really dead (this is a Marvel comic after all).
And double oh yeah, there are THREE inkers on this Marvel comic too. The credits list them this way: “Roger Martinez with Cam Smith and Scott Hanna“. I don’t know if there needed to be 3 inkers because a) Martinez couldn’t be bothered to ink what few backgrounds Pacheco attempted to pencil, or b) This comic went through several of Marvel’s legendary editorial changes after the book was completed.
If it’s the latter, it’s really astonishing that this comic could be “fixed” only to still suck so much. How bad was the original version? – Ian MacMillan
In Wade We Trust
Writers: Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn
Artist: Tony Moore
Deadpool’s longevity as a character is amazing. He was created by an insanely terrible comic book artist, but somehow has had some incredible writers and artists keep his various comics going. Daniel Way and a team of artists did a decent job on Deadpool for quite some time… Even if the run’s quality tapered off long ago (after, I think, Way just ran out of ideas). As we all know, this happens a lot with monthly comics. Many creators overstay their welcome. So it’s time to get new wordsmiths on the book… And I can’t think of anyone better than a Stand Up Comedian to take over part of the writing duties on a title like Deadpool… It just fits.
We actually have two new scripters and one hell of a great artist (Tony Moore) on this comic. If you haven’t enjoyed Deadpool lately, then this first issue might be more to your liking. Since there are no narration boxes at all, I think it’s safe to say Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn have some major changes in store– and I like that. They clearly want to go back to the early 2000s and gives us Deadpool the way he used to be— when the book was really, really good (i.e., the Joe Kelly years).
This issue is full of one-liners, and they usually hit. Since most of the jokes are funny, the comic succeeded in keeping me in a good mood while reading it. This new premise should work just fine too– if the jokes continue to land. What we get plot-wise: All DEAD American Presidents are alive again— and they are wreaking havoc. This, of course, is the kind of story that would only work well in a book like Deadpool. There’s a great fight with FDR in this issue– and hopefully that scene is an indication of the absurdity to come.
It’s also funny that a man with no artistic talent whatsoever created this character– yet great artists almost always draw Deadpool comics. You know Tony Moore will be a HUGE reason a lot of people buy this book. He brings his cartoony yet stylistic look to this comic– and it’s phenomenal. The super detailed page of Godzilla attacking New York can be appreciated for a long time all on its own. Still, it’s nothing compared to the double-page spread Moore draws toward the end of the story– featuring some truly bizarre stuff. I also like his take on how horribly disfigured Deadpool really is. Moore makes him look really gross.
The only real downside of the comic is that it’s a Deadpool book… And he isn’t my favorite character.
That said, this is a great first issue for a new Deadpool run. Duggan and Posehn seem to be the right dudes for the job– bringing a ridiculous premise and giving readers some good laughs. Hell, just having Moore on art and Val Staples on colors is more than enough reason to buy this issue. (I hope they stick around for a while.)
I wouldn’t usually say this, but I think you should buy Deadpool. – Tom Devine
Storm Dogs #1
Writer: David Hine
Artists: Doug Braithwaite
I’ll be blunt: Storm Dogs is just a shitty rip-off the Avatar film with red aliens. If you’ve ever watched James Cameron’s movie– or even know what it’s about– then you’ve already read this comic. Writer David Hine also commits another cardinal sin with this sci-fi story: He gives us a completely different world from our own– but does nothing to set it up for his readers.
I’m actually struggling to find more to say about Storm Dogs— since there was nothing in this comic that didn’t remind me of something in Avatar.
The Characters: Pointless, generic, futuristic, hoity-toity humans and pointless, generic, gruff, low-class humans.
The Setting: The Avatar world set in the Firefly universe.
The Theme: Don’t play in the rain or the weird aliens will possess your acid-eaten corpse.
Is there any redeemable aspect to this comic? No. For $3.50, I expect a quality 22 pages… Especially since Image can give me hefty issues of Mind The Gap and Bedlam for $2.99– both of which are on an entirely different quality tier than this book. – W.D. Prescott
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Willow #1
Wonderland Part 1
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Brian Ching
Thank the maker for good comics.
I am quite glad I chose to read Willow #1 AFTER Iron Man #1. It helped me gain back some of my faith in the comic industry– so soon after Iron Man thoroughly molested and had its way with said faith. The fact that Willow is a good comic also means this review should be a hell of a lot shorter than my Iron Man review… I hope.
I dropped the Buffy comic a few months back, but I’m still am enjoying the hell out of Angel & Faith. (I’m not reading the current Spike series.) The reason I chose to read Willow #1: Mostly because it picks up right after her appearance in the last Angel & Faith story arc. Well, that– and I think the character of Willow Rosenberg is pretty damn awesome.
I suppose one other reason I wanted to read this series is because Jeff Parker is writing it. Like A&F writer Christos Gage, Parker writes primarily for Marvel. Also like Gage, I have not enjoyed Parker’s recent Marvel comics. I hoped Parker’s return to writing a somewhat indie book would also bring back some of what I loved from his earlier work.
The result is kind of a mixed bag– surely more positive than negative.
The issue opens with a really great page where Willow explains to the reader what has happened to her world since magic can no longer be used there. This is something that the Buffy comic has touched on– so it’s really not all that new. BUT if you haven’t read the Buffy comic, Willow’s explanation does an excellent job of giving you the information you will need to know while reading this book. Willow is on a mission to bring magic back and she needs to travel through multiple dimensions (where magic still exists) in order to figure out how to do just that.
I seriously believe this first page is one of the best pages Parker has written in a long while. It is pitch perfect and the reasons given why Willow feels the need to bring back magic resonate as she describes things which exist in our “real” world. Without magic, rainbows only consist of two colors, no singer can hit a note without the help of auto tune, Coke doesn’t taste right anymore and suicide rates are rising. I know this may seem kinda corny but I really think the explanation works. It references things that the reader knows about and lets them imagine how these things could be different.
The one problem I did have with Parker’s writing: He doesn’t seem to have the Buffyverse Speak down. Willow just doesn’t sound like Willow. The comic reads more like an outsider’s adaptation of the Buffy TV Series. For readers who are not familiar with the show, this probably won’t be a problem… But for those of us who have watched every season (sometimes repeatedly) and read most of the comics– the tone of the dialogue is off.
Another reason why I think the book works is Brian Ching’s art. His style reminds me a bit of Gabriel Ba— which is a really good thing. I really like Ching’s interpretation of Willow, as well as the otherworldly characters and monsters she meets.
Though I felt that Parker’s writing was a bit off, the last page was definitely more in tone with the TV series and leaves us with the type of joke that readers/watchers of Buffy are more accustomed to. As long as Parker works on the dialog, I can’t see why I won’t enjoy this Willow series as much as I do Angel & Faith. And if there is a writer out there who I think can remedy this situation quickly, it’s Jeff Parker. – Jose Melendez
The Nightmares Never Stop
Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Marcus To, Ryann Winn,
Richard Zajac, Le Beau Underwood
This comic book sucks on so many levels, I almost didn’t review it… Primarily because I was worried I’d run out of ways to describe something– whether it be the script, the art, the coloring or the lettering– as sucky or sucking. Then I realized that “suck” is just slang for “bad”… And “bad” has lots of synonyms, like:
abominable, amiss, atrocious, awful, beastly, blah, bummer, careless, cheap, cheesy, crappy, cruddy, crummy, defective, deficient, dissatisfactory, downer, dreadful, erroneous, fallacious, faulty, garbage, godawful, grody, gross, grungy, icky, imperfect, inadequate, incorrect, inferior, junky, lousy, not good, off, poor, rough, sad, slipshod, stinking, substandard, synthetic, the pits, unacceptable and unsatisfactory (just to name a few).
Read ’em and apply them all to this book… Because that’s what Batwing #14 is. Sorry, but DC has already published this comic. There’s no way writer Judd Winick or penciler Marcus To or the THREE inkers (there’s that syndrome again) can take it back.
Believe me, I wish they could.
I won’t get into the bland story, the even blander art, the poor lettering or the basic coloring (that could have been done just as well using the archaic 4-color process). I’ll just leave it be.
I will say this: I don’t know what in the hell has happened to Judd Winick… But I have one piece of advice: Get out of DC’s New 52 while you still have a career. Get out, now! – Ian MacMillan