The Extinction Parade #1
Writer: Max Brooks
Artist: Raulo Caceres
Colorist: Digikore Studios
Letterer: Kurt Hathaway
24 pages, $3.99
I was so excited to grab a copy of Extinction Parade! Max Brooks of World War Z! Zombies = fun! Woo hoo, right?
Not so much. 24 hours later, short version of my review: Meh. Who cares?
If you’ve read my reviews on IMJ, then you may have noticed I shy away from being too critical of other writers. I know how hard it is to craft a compelling comic script and how difficult it can be to stand up to editors for fear of your work not seeing the light of day. Is it like that for Max Brooks, zombie king du jour? I do not know. This comic is the only thing I’ve read by him. To be honest, I just don’t see the appeal. Having never read World War Z, the only thing I can guess is that it’s got to be far and away better than this comic. There isn’t a story arc here. It’s an “info dump” issue, and while almost all first issues are going to be chock full of scene-setting and exposition– they don’t *have* to be info dumps. They can still be stories. This issue really doesn’t live up to that expectation.
There were two good things about this comic: The premise isn’t wholly boring and the art is total eye candy on some pages. This issue establishes there is a hierarchy consisting of vampires above humans above zombies. If I’m wrong, I’ll eat my IU ball cap, but I’m guessing that eventually vampires are going to have to save humans before they go extinct– because if humans die off, vampires will die off (thus, the parade of extinction from the title). I would love to be wrong about this, for there to be some giant twist coming down the pike, but there is nothing in this issue that surprised me, soooo…
I hope I’m wrong! My hat looks delicious.
The art was detailed and vibrant in spots, to the point it was a bit like looking through a Where’s Waldo? of human goo and decay. Raulo Caceres’ style is very cartoony and those lines, baby… The gentleman doth love his inks. The art’s 2 of the 3 stars of this review.
I’d have given this book Four Stars if Brooks had backed off his name-dropping in issue one. Fictional place name here, another place name there… No one is going to remember any of that from Issue 1 to Issue 2. It’s just going to confuse people. Unfortunately, there’s so much verbiage they went a couple points too small with the letters, too. I have better than 20/20 vision and I kinda had to squint. It’s not microscopic, but paired with the fact I had to read a bunch of info dump apropos to nothing for my trouble… Meh. Ugh, there’s this one panel with this really cheesy sperm & egg thing going on, too. I don’t know what other comic they cut that out of before they pasted it into this one, but they really should put it back.
Like I said, I haven’t read World War Z, so maybe all these name drops and weird sperm art things harken back to Brooks’ hit novel. I hope they do, so WWZ fans will just relish the connections. I love stuff like that, myself… When it’s working.
I didn’t love this. – Red Tash
Age of Ultron #10
Writer: Brian Michael Shitbag
Artists: Bryan Splashpage and a Bunch of Random People
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Colorists: Paul Mounts, Richard Isanove
34 pages, $3.99
“What a heap of fucking shit!”
That was my reaction to the summary on the introduction page… I hadn’t even read any of the actual comic and I’d already nearly lost my lunch… So you can probably imagine how I felt about the rest of the issue. I’ll go ahead and do my best to give you my view of it anyway.
Back in February, I read Issue #1 of Age of Ultron– along with the other comics I had scheduled to review that particular week. Even though he wasn’t expecting it, I sent a super short, off-the-cuff snarky review to Ian— not expecting he’d actually include it in that week’s Capsule Reviews column. It consisted of this one thought, “Message to Brian Michael Bendis— this story was already done better back in 1981 by John Byrne and Chris Claremont… It was called Days of Future Past.”
So here we are, a few months and 9 issues further on– with Age of Ultron #10 being the finale to this ridiculous waste of paper… And my jokey little aside has turned out to be true. The main differences between this “new” comic and Days of Future Past? Age of Ultron took 10 issues to tell instead of 2, and unlike the tightness of Claremont’s story– the plotting on Age of Ultron is looser than a knackered whore’s vagina.
In the previous issues, Wolverine has apparently gone back in time to stop Ultron from taking over… But each time Logan makes the trip, it only makes things worse– rather like that episode of The Simpsons where Homer has a toaster that can go back and forth in time. It just goes to show how creatively bankrupt Bendis is that he’s now resorted to ripping off The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror for story ideas.
Quick Note: The rest of this review will contain spoilers… But unless you’ve been living under a fucking rock for the last couple of months, there will be absolutely no surprises. Still, I feel I have to give the warning in case there’s some freak out there who’s just discovered the internet and is fucking stupid enough to actually WANT to read this pile of utter bollocks.
Age of Ultron #10 starts off with Henry Pym moping around his laboratory. Then we shift to the Avengers beating up some random bad guys for a few pages, then they beat up on Ultron for a bit– when Pym suddenly appears and loads a computer virus into Ultron, causing the automaton to explode. So after 10 issues of this shite, the Big Bad loses because he didn’t update his AVG Free Antivirus software? What a fucking anticlimax. You’d think by now, Bendis would be finished punishing his readers– except Age of Ultron #10 has an even more boring epilogue than Lord of the fucking Rings— before, finally, we get to the last page where the “long-awaited” introduction of Angela* occurs in the Marvel Universe.
*If you just went “Who???” when you heard the name Angela– then join 99% of comicdom who couldn’t give a flying fuck that some Z-list character got shoe-horned into this farrago.
But just in case you might be the least bit interested, I’ll fill you in on the history here: Way back when, some intrepid, shitty artists went on a crusade for creator’s rights (their own rights, not anybody else’s of course) and they put out some glossy but vapid comics– one of these being a book called Spawn. In a brief flash of clarity, Sir Todd of McFarlane realised he could barely write his own signature on the back of a royalty check, let alone helm a comic book– so he hired some ace scripters like Alan Moore, Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman to helm his leaky ship… While he studied DIY book “Writing Fiction for Dummies.” Unlike the other well-known creators, the dastardly Gaiman decided to create some new characters– including Angela. A few years later, it all descended into a bitter lawsuit and Gaiman won the rights to Angela from Sir Todd and sold her to Marvel.
That make things any clearer? No? Well, I might have made some of that shit up— so you can decide for yourself which bits are true. The point being– nobody gives a shit about Angela (except Todd McFarlane) and including her in this story is basically just a gigantic “FUCK YOU!” from Marvel to McFarlane… Which is about the only thing in this pamphlet I can sympathise with, since I feel he’s almost as big a scum-sucking bastard as the powers that be at Marvel are.
The art in Age of Ultron #10 is also horrible. Bryan Hitch was obviously so far behind, the pages he contributed to this comic look like they were done in an extreme rush. His layouts do nothing to help convey what little story there is and the character poses are equally clueless. In the panel to the left, Ms. Marvel (Wait! isn’t she Captain Marvel now in an equally shitty book?) looks like her neck is made from rubber.
Towards the end of the pamphlet, Hitch seems to give up completely and the issue is finished off by a bunch of random artists who passed by the Marvel offices that week. We even get two whole pages filled with blur effects… Which made me feel even more nauseous than the rest of the issue.
If after reading this review you are insane enough to want to buy this flaming heap of shit, please go seek psychiatric help immediately! – Locusmortis
Absolute Corruption Part One
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Diego Bernard, Fred Benes, Allison Rodrigues
Colorists: Arif Prianto, Fahriza Kamaputra, Jessica Kholinne
19 pages, $2.99
You would think– with only 19 pages of art and story– that Witchblade #167 wouldn’t engage me or leave me feeling like I got my money’s worth. There just doesn’t seem to be enough space to do much of anything. But writer Tim Seeley proves this assumption wrong. This comic has more action and plot in its 19 pages than most $3.99 comics with 3 to 5 more. Icing on the cake? The story isn’t bad either.
Witchblade comes with a decent-sized cast– which can prove challenging for first time readers… But with Seeley around, things are never too complicated. The comic’s first page is a basic recap to assist new fans– leaving only 18 pages for the main story. (I’ll touch on that again in a bit.) Since I’m a new reader too, the recap helped me get up to speed. This is definitely one of the more reader friendly comics I’ve experienced recently.
The pacing was good and the transitions were easy to follow. Not an easy task when the story’s breakdown looks like this: Action, Character Building, Villain Stuff, MORE Action, MORE Villain Stuff, MORE Character Building AND a mystery Cliff Hanger– all in only those measly 18 pages. Even with all of the different things going on here, the story’s focus was still centered around building the characters and showcasing their relationships with others.
The ending seemed slightly abrupt– making me wonder if just one more page would have helped matters. The consumer in me is still a little miffed I only received 19 story pages for my $3, but the fan in me knows a good story that can be told in fewer pages should not be stretched out. (Like many comics do today.) To make up for the sparse story length, Witchblade #167 does offer some bonus content. It’s mostly shitty wiki-padding, but the reader is not really paying extra for it (something that was discussed during the latest and greatest IMJ Podcast), so no big deal. Digital comic readers get even more bonus content. It isn’t anything overly special, but it’s still a nice unexpected gesture.
Diego Bernard’s pencils are detailed while Fred Benes/Allison Rodgrigues’ inks do not muddle the line work. The colourists (not sure why a 19 page comic needed 3) do a serviceable job. But even with Bernard’s character designs showing a range of diversity, the artistic contributions all seemed a little too generic. Not once did anything truly grab me and shout “Look at me! I’m something special in an already beautiful-looking comic!” I was also a bit worried when I saw the first page– as it was mostly boobs. I like my women, but the art on this splash is exactly why some people question how women are depicted in comics. Luckily, the first page didn’t portend how I would be looking at the women for the remainder of the issue.
This was my first experience with Witchblade, and to be blunt– I was a bit worried. I don’t know why, but I didn’t think this comic would contain a compelling story… And I am so glad I was wrong. I did wish I knew more about the Witchblade relic and the world these characters live in– but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying the interactions between characters. (If the creators can just make me care about the characters, there’s a good chance I will like a comic.)
Cool, unique, complex concepts are good, but if the characters feel flat (like they are going through the motions)… I simply will not stick around. (See my Thief of Thieves review for a great example of this feeling.) Witchblade #167 made me aware there are compelling stories that can be told with this character– even in such a long running comic book. – Nick Furi
Birds of Prey #21
Talon vs. Talon
Writer: Christy Marx
Artists: Romano Molenaar,
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
20 pages, $2.99
Trust me… Unconsciously or not, many people long for an ordinary life. Coffee and pancakes in the morning, a 9-to-5 work schedule, a lazy evening watching telly. For some of us, that is the dream. Which is undoubtedly fine– but a writer should most definitely strive to have a taste for uncommon things, and yearn for a crazy, passionate life.
Thing is, when I was reading Birds of Prey #21 I never felt this was the case for scribe Christy Marx. I suspect all she really wanted when typing her script was to finish it as quickly as possible, cash her check and head back home to rewatch her favorite episodes of Jersey Shore. And there’s the rub– this comic’s biggest problem is its obvious, painful lack of passion… Which made for one of the most boring reading experiences I’ve ever had the displeasure to endure.
The book features the start of a two-part crossover with Talon. The story has the Birds infiltrating a Court of Owls lab– where they get attacked by Calvin Rose (The Talon). In order to protect some friends of his, Calvin needs to kill Strix– another Talon working with Batgirl & Co.
Thanks to this masterful plot, you get– Praise the Lord, my brethren!– the awesome delight of watching the two undead assassins pound the heck out of each other. If you didn’t just catch my sarcasm, allow me to ask you this: “Who wouldn’t puke rainbows out his goddamn mouth when being served 14 (out of 20) pages of asinine, boring fighting?” Readers get fourteen pages that always feature the same rhythm– one punch from Rose, then one kick from Strix, followed by many yawns from me. Flip the page and repeat. If this wasn’t bad enough, we’re served really original lines like, “Don’t make this any harder than it has to be.” This is ground-breaking comic book writing if I’ve ever witnessed it!
“But what about the 6 remaining pages?” I hear you ask. Well, don’t get your underwear in a bunch– as those last pages are probably the most annoying of all. Black Canary and a guy called Condor just sit there and watch out for trouble, not giving a fuck if Strix might be killed any minute. After a quick chitchat, they suddenly decide to kiss out of the blue– because there is no better time to make out than during a dangerous mission. Even worse, when I first saw Condor in this issue I remember thinking, “In a team of women, there’s a dude now? Hmpf. He’s probably only there for the writer to use him as a love interest.” I didn’t know back then it would only take a few more pages to watch my prediction turn into a jejune reality.
One slightly redeeming quality for this comic? The art. Even though the colors are pretty bland and don’t impress, I have to praise penciler Romano Molenaar for his evident and welcomed efforts at backgrounds– for a vast majority of panels have detailed ones. Alas, his layouts and the characters’ postures aren’t even remotely as dynamic– which make the fighting sequences even less impressive– failing to immerse the reader in the action.
To sum it all up, this book is badly paced, absolutely anticlimactic and profoundly boring. Prior to this issue, I hadn’t read Birds of Prey for a while, and I swear I really wanted to like this title. (Especially since this is my first review as part of the IMJ Capsule Review Crew™.) But it was just way too stupid. The “kiss out of nowhere” scene was despicable and scornful– basically begging readers to go seek some well-thought characterisations elsewhere.
To add further insult, this whole Talon bullshit is sincerely trying my patience. They were created by Scott Snyder as cold deadly killers for fuck’s sake… Not as gentle and caring Teletubbies who protect their friends. DC, once again, has milked a cash-cow dry and what we’re left with now is a husk of a concept– an empty idea. But still, the real shame about this comic isn’t all the silliness (which you’ll find aplenty), but its absolute lack of entertainment value.
Last word: Is anyone (other than me) reading this 52 Channel stuff at the end of DC’s comics? Is it supposed to be edgy or clever? Because this is one bloody piece of shit promotion. For the lucky ones who aren’t aware of this crap, these 52 Channel bits are composed of a couple of pages where some blonde woman and the Calendar Man talk nonsense– acting as news anchors for a TV channel watched by people inhabiting DC’s New 52 Universe. This week they presented “The Top Five Theories About What Bruce Wayne Was Up To Before Returning To Gotham.” Am I supposed to care?
One word of advice, DC… Stop trying to be too cool for school and start studying for your exams. You obviously need to, since your New 52 has failed most tests for almost two years running now. – Simon J. O’Connor
Captain Marvel #13
The Enemy Within Part 3
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artists: Scott Hepburn,
Colorists: Jordie Bellaire, Andy Troy
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
20 pages, $2.99
Are the Avengers in everything now? Yes, I understand Captain Marvel is a member of the team, but is it not just possible for her to fly solo in her own book? Keeping her separate from her overused teammates would go a long way in creating an interesting and compelling story– and Captain Marvel #13 does have some of that hidden inside. Somewhere in this comic is the book I want to read.
The story opens with Carol recapping the previous plot threads to friends– trying to make sense of recent events. The group is attempting to piece together how some random heists/attacks relate to a mystery person. Sadly, this is basically all that seems to matter in this comic– as half the book felt like Avengers filler. To make matters worse, it takes Carol the entire issue to figure out who the mystery baddie is– but the reader still does not know!
Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick uses the Avengers to showcase the latest villainous attack as a global event. Now here’s the problem with writers always inventing “giant-sized” problems: If Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are constantly needed to fix stuff, the threats become standard. Big threats are now commonplace in many Marvel comics– and they don’t carry the same sense of urgency anymore. Instead of showcasing Marvel’s “Super Friends,” a quick reference to the team would have sufficed… Allowing Captain Marvel to be the “star” of her own title.
With all this mumbo-jumbo going on, all I yearned for was more Captain Marvel… To find out about her, her problems and how her life has been affected by becoming a superhero. In between the bombast and fluff, we discover Carol’s powers are killing her and the neighbor next door wants her evicted. This is way more exciting than having the Avengers appear just so we can see Thor, Captain America, Spider-Woman and the Hulk standing around– occasionally “adding” to the conversation.
Scott Hepburn’s art seems slightly better than Gerardo Sandoval’s assists. I had a couple of problems with their character designs. (I couldn’t tell one character was Bruce Banner without the help of prompts.) The artistic standouts for this issue are the colour team of Jordie Bellaire and Andy Troy. The palette of colours the two use create an interesting look– reminding me of random pastel artworks I’ve seen.
With all the things wrong with Captain Marvel #13, I still had fun reading it. It isn’t the best thing ever, but I did enjoy the elements dealing with Carol and her friends. Whether it is DC or Marvel, I enjoy reading about the smaller characters. I don’t need the “A-Team” to enjoy my comics. Forget the damn Avengers– who needs them anyways? – Nick Furi
Superior Spider-Man #12
No Escape Part 2 – Lockdown
Writers: Dan Slott, Christos Gage
Artists: Giusuppe Camuncoli, John Dell, Terry Pallot
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
20 pages, $3.99
The most surprising thing about Superior Spider-Man #12? I didn’t absolutely hate it. It did have the benefit of having pretty low expectations, given I’d reviewed Age of Ultron #10 just before it. Compared to that Bendis comic, cat faeces smeared on paper would make for a more satisfying and entertaining read.
Some six months ago, my first review for this column was Superior Spider-Man #1 — so it seemed appropriate I revisit the title. Looking back at that initial review, I’m slightly amazed I gave Issue #1 a whole star out of five… I guess I was feeling pretty generous that day. Now were half a year on and the title is already up to Issue #12. I haven’t read the intervening issues but that doesn’t really matter too much, given the amount of decompression going on in current Marvel comics.
I did balk somewhat when I saw this was the second part of a three-part story– which is usually the worst place to jump in and try to figure things out. But the turmoil in my mind was eased a little when I saw that Dan Slott only provided the plot for this tale, and it was actually Christos Gage providing the script. What a relief to have a good writer back on board the main Spider-Man comic at last.
The difference between Dan Slott providing the full script and him only providing the initial plot (with Gage doing the donkey work) really showed– Superior Spider-Man #12 lacked the cynical, snide feeling that Superior #1 and the latter Amazing Spider-Man stories were infested with. This comic felt like a solid Spider-Man adventure– nothing overly brilliant or spectacular but, for the most part, moderately satisfying and readable. One thing I’m extremely thankful for: Ghost-Peter Parker seems to have disappeared (that was one of Slott’s more risible ideas.)
Here’s the plot: Spider-man is on The Raft to witness the Spider-Slayer’s execution– when things go wrong and the Slayer escapes and wreaks his revenge. Spidey and Jonah Jameson battle the Slayer, Boomerang, Vulture and Scorpion in a bid to survive and save the remaining civilians at the prison. Gage manages to sufficiently infuse Spider-Man with Doc Ock’s clumsy, awkward (yet scientifically brilliant) character– without turning him into a blustering buffoon like Slott does. Even though I want Peter Parker back, I could probably just about live with Doc Ock if Gage were to continue as scripter– even more so if he took over the plotting too.
Another thing that was a big improvement over Superior Spider-Man #1: Giuseppe Camuncoli on pencils, with John Dell and Terry Pallot on inks. The art has a solidity Ryan Stegman’s work lacks– the character designs and likenesses were all excellent. The panel layouts were pretty decent too. They weren’t as dynamic in the action sequences as they could have been, but at least I could figure out what was happening and who was who. The colors by Antonio Fabela were excellent– the use of contrasting bright colors for the foreground characters and background shadows was intelligent and attractive at the same time.
So, there’s the big surprise for this week– a Superior Spider-Man issue that is reasonably tolerable. Please Marvel, don’t give sole control back to Slott… Please. – Locusmortis
The Sixth Gun #32
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Brian Hurtt
Colorist: Bill Crabtree
Letterer: Ed Brisson
22 pages, $3.99
There’s a lot to like in The Sixth Gun #32: The story is great, old creators I haven’t seen in a while make a welcome return– and I have found a new artist I greatly enjoy. The praise certain titles or creators get here at IMJ is usually very accurate… But even with the high accolades, I’m always a bit nervous before reading something The IMJ Nation™ loves. I know I shouldn’t be concerned about things like this here, since everyone is so cool– but the tiniest part of me does wonder what will happen if I think an IMJ Favourite is complete shit. Luckily for me, Ian’s repeated praise for The Sixth Gun and creator/writer Cullen Bunn was absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt spot on.
The comic starts with a sense of excitement that carries on throughout the entire issue– and serves as a great showcase for the main characters, Becky Montcrief and Drake Sinclair. (Drake even appears in two different time periods!) Earlier issues will (hopefully) clarify whether people are traveling through time or going to a different world. (Either way, this story is up my alley.) Becky does have a main role, but contrasting (what I will call) the present and past Drake is more interesting to watch. (Especially since Sinclair’s past actions result in a very interesting outcome for Becky.)
The Sixth Gun’s art team is incredible. I saw the first panel and instantly fell in love with the artistic talent of Brian Hurtt— whose work is simplistically detailed. I know that’s oxymoronic, but Brian uses the less is more technique. Making certain panels very simple and focused on the characters allows for a greater visual dichotomy when the more detailed pages occur. It is great, great work.
Seeing the work of colourist Bill Crabtree again was awesome. He first made a big splash appearing in another IMJ Favourite, Invincible— and continues to produce outstanding work here. Crabtree’s colours are stunningly bright and vibrant. Even in dark settings, his alluring colours dance off the page. It is exciting to see such an amazing talent continue to ply his craft in top form.
I only have two tiny gripes: First, I don’t understand the full appeal of The Six. I understand these guns are coveted objects and can end the world, but I don’t understand the mystery to their existence. Secondly, Becky’s inclusion in this issue’s story feels like a plot contrivance. I’m assuming she plays a much more major role in the over-reaching arc of the entire series, but here she was just kind of there. (Both these gripes will likely be solved by reading previous issues.)
On that note, I really need to go back and read the trades. FYI: After writing that sentence, I actually stopped right there to request them from my public library– a great source to read comics if you are running low on funds, but still want to keep up. (I thank Tom Devine for teaching me that money-saving trick!) I thoroughly enjoyed The Sixth Gun and can’t wait for the trades to show up. Bring on The Six! – Nick Furi
TMNT Villains Micro-Series #3
Writer: Jason Ciaramella
Artist: Dave Wachter
Letterer: Shawn Lee
22 pages, $3.99
Old Hob! Oh, my goodness. What a sweet little fuzzy feller he is.
What’s that you say? Hob’s a bad guy? Well, okay, sure, but do bad guys start out bad, or are they forced to turn that way?
Hob’s been on the streets for so long, rising up against the Man (or the Rat, as his case seems to be) that he can’t even exactly remember the name of the little boy who fostered him in his previous life. But, being that Hob’s a bad guy, maybe that’s just what he wants us to believe, huh? Cartoon cats never seem to be completely on the up-and-up. Whether it’s Sylvester tricking Tweetie into walking into his mouth, or Garfield slamming the door on Odie’s face– cats are just downright evil in cartoons. Old Hob is no different in TMNT.
In this issue of the microseries, we find out why. I’m not going to lie, I actually sighed aloud and said “Ah, poor little guy” while reading. It’s a good story with better than adequate writing and a couple of places where the art made me turn the book around and go “See?” to show my better half. I particularly liked the bit where Hob transformed from his previous life into the mutant we’ve known in the TMNT universe all along. It was very effective visually.
The Turtles and Splinter are barely in this issue, and that’s fine. Hob’s story is enough. Great fight scenes, though the issue isn’t action-heavy at all. A little mad science here, a little gang-building here, stir it up and it’s one cold dish of Old Hob. The whole comic was surprisingly good. – Red Tash