Rat Queens #6
The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth Part One
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Artist/Colorist: Roc Upchurch
Letters: Ed Brisson
22 pages, $3.50
If the world was a cooler place, looking up “fun” in the dictionary would lead you to a Rat Queens comic book cover next to the definition.
And make no mistake: The adventures of Dee, Violet, Hannah, and Betty are ridiculously fun. They all possess wonderfully unusual quirks that allow for trouble and seamlessly working together. The comic is unique in its simplicity too– with a premise everyone can enjoy. Add four female adventurers and an appropriate amount of raunchy behavior + violence and special appearances by some of your favorite 4-letter words– and you’ve basically got Rat Queens.
This is by far my favorite Kurtis J. Wiebe comic. It’s a great adventure book that does a fantastic job balancing drama and humor. When Wiebe decides to veer from one emotion to the next, it never feels forced or jarring. The drama is organic, the humor well-placed. Issue #6 also provides plenty of laugh out loud moments– especially in the first half. I was sitting in a common area at my college when I read this… And I found it extremely hard to contain my laughter. (It was almost embarrassing.)
Thankfully the violence and raunch never feels gratuitous or over the top either. Never once did I think, “That was presented inappropriately.” You could argue that years of comic reading has desensitized me to some of these things, but I just prefer to think Wiebe is a great writer who handles every character with care and class. Another thing I love about Rat Queens: The main characters are all female… And most importantly, they’re all well-written.
Roc Upchurch’s art is perfect. (And he creates it all himself!) His character designs are unique and he captures the book’s medieval milieu in outstandingly eccentric ways. His colors expertly enrich his pencils too… Leading one to think that old adage really is true: If you want something done right, you really should do it yourself!
In other words, I have zero complaints with Rat Queens– just lots of love. The first five issues were recently collected in trade format for $9.99 USD. (That’s a steal.) Mark my words: You can’t go wrong with Rat Queens. I say, “Buy It! Buy It! Buy It!”
– Aaron Evans
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
20 Pages, $3.99
Space pirates. Sexy and mouthy cat-skunk aliens. Boarding spacecrafts. Swords in zero-gravity. You’ve probably guessed it by now, but this comic is a load of fun. And yet, for all the merriment and glitter it hurls along the way, it’s also still quite mediocre. Yeah, it’s fun, but it’s not “Star Wars on crack”. (I’m still waiting for that, by the way.) Sorry, but young Scott Summers’ characterization is infamously tepid. Boredom and yawning ensue… Severely.
This title also has a dormant stream of pseudo-edginess in its gutters. Cyclops’ fear of being a pleasant teenager, coupled with his trite incomprehension of love and combined with his father’s own doubts of being a good dad make for a sour picture. It’s all quite angsty and again– tedious.
Worse, the whole story feels overseen and superintended, which results in distasteful predictability. Comics displaying a teen as their main hero usually all present the same boring recipe: Introduce the character, show how insecure and scared he is… Then build him into a powerful being who finally overcomes his nervousness around girls. This does sum up around 99% of all Teen superhero comics– and sadly, Cyclops #1 is no different.
Despite some gorgeous art by Russell Dauterman, this is ultimately a lazy and vapid Greg Rucka comic. This ain’t no tragedy though– considering the book will get canned the second Bendis decides it’s time to send the young original X-Men back to their own timeline.
If that last sentence doesn’t point out how nonsensical Marvel’s X-Men comic book franchise is right now, I don’t know what will. – Simon J. O’Connor
Archer and Armstrong #20
American Wasteland Part One
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
22 pages, $3.99
What an opening page! What a massive 21-page let down thereafter!
Comics filled with talking heads and plot set-up are extremely hard to review… Since there’s generally little, if any, excitement coursing these stories. That said, they are a bit of a necessary evil… even if they often lead to mediocre, throwaway issues. The most irritating aspect of Archer and Armstrong #20? The set-up IS cool, but the lack of execution is infuriating. Opening with famous Hollywood deaths is intriguing… So why couldn’t Fred Van Lente play into this aspect more– instead of saving it all for the cliffhanger?
This is the first time I’ve kind of enjoyed a story by Fred Van Lente. To make up for the lack of action, he definitely tries to spice up the interaction between his two lead characters. The dichotomy between Armstrong (an ageless old man with the humor and maturity of a 18-year-old) and Archer (a serious goody-goody once tricked into doing bad things– before he saw the light) has definite merits. I also liked the Hollywood humour tossed around the pages. (Many being quips from Armstrong.) I always get a good chuckle from well-placed jokes about crazy religions and the self-absorbed Hollywood pop psyche.
These slight (entertaining) points aside– A&A #20 is otherwise fairly bland. Even the villain is extraordinarily lame. His pursuit of a hidden relic is just as contrived as it is an overused plot device. Plus, we don’t even know the motivation for his dastardly deeds, besides the relic giving him power. What the hell does that even mean? What kind of power? Power over what? Power over whom? It’s all vague and rather pointless.
Van Lente tries to make things more interesting by filling the pages with philosophical bullshit. On first read, it might all sound cool but if you focus on just the words– it’s easy to realize it’s complete gibberish. The spewed theology is a waste of space… A trick used to get our heroes from point A to B. (It also feels like a cop-out.) It’s a prime example of story decompression, from creators looking to drag things out long enough to fill a trade paperback.
At least the artists do their jobs well. Pere Perez doesn’t get a lot to work with but when he does, his pages are interesting and stellar. Clean lines and simple character designs make for an easy to appreciate, beautiful art feast. (I also love artists who can portray a variety of emotions on character faces.) There’s also a 4-page sequence that wouldn’t be nearly as cool if it wasn’t for colourist David Baron. He chooses understated simplicity when he could go overboard… And his color choices are the perfect prescription for this tale.
This comic was stuffed with far too much filler. Here’s hoping next issue is filled with lots of fists and tons of fury. (No pun intended.) – Nick Furi
Miles Morales The Ultimate Spider-Man #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: Cory Petit
20 pages, $3.99
SPOILERS MAY POP UP IN THIS REVIEW… BUT SINCE I AM JUST STARTING TO WRITE IT I HAVE NO IDEA IF THEY WILL. I RARELY EVER GO BACK AND EDIT MY REVIEWS FOR CONTENT AFTER FINISHING THEM SO I WILL NOT BE EDITING THIS “POSSIBLE” SPOILER WARNING. THERE MAY BE BIG SPOILER(S), THERE MAY NOT BE. CHANCES ARE GOOD YOU COULDN’T CARE LESS ABOUT SPOILERS SINCE YOU’RE READING A REVIEW… SO PLEASE CONTINUE ON. IN THE OFF CHANCE YOU DO CARE ABOUT SPOILERS, DON’T GET ANGRY IF I SPOIL SOMETHING… IF YOU DO, BE AWARE I WILL MOST LIKELY BE LAUGHING AT THE FACT I MADE YOU ANGRY. I’M KIND OF A DICK LIKE THAT.
I stopped reading Ultimate Spider-Man comics at issue #67 (during the first run). I’ll never forget why either. The story was titled Jump the Shark, and it was supposed to be a throwaway comic where Wolverine and Peter Parker switched bodies in order to have some “hilarious” Freaky Friday moments… And it turned out every bit as idiotic as it sounds. Up until then, I did enjoy USM– despite Brian Michael Bendis’ writing becoming progressively worse. And yes, I got this story was supposed to be dumb. Bendis and others even joked about it on the comic’s letter page– if memory serves me correctly.
But being the party pooper I am, I didn’t find the comic all that amusing. (I know you’re all totally shocked by this admission.) If a creator wants to write a story they know is shite– they should do so on their own dime… Then give it away at comic book conventions. Instead, Marvel charged me money to read this soulless farce. Here’s what happened after I read it: As soon as I muttered the sentence, “Well, that story was a fucking piece of shit!” I stopped reading the comic and (almost) never looked back. I did “check in” on the book now and then, but never bought another copy.
After reading and reviewing Amazing Spider-Man #1 (which was quickly followed by my consuming copious amounts of alcohol and so much vomiting), I came to the conclusion I wanted to review something… ANYTHING… That had nothing to do with Peter Parker. With this preference in the back of my mind, I looked over the week’s list of comics and the only one that immediately jumped out at me was Miles Morales – The Ultimate Spider-Man #1. Yes, it’s a Spidey comic but one that neither stars Peter Parker nor is it written by hack-extraordinaire Dan Slott. It instead stars Miles Morales and is written by hack-extraordinaire Brian Michael Bendis. See? Totally different. In any case, I thought it might be a nice change of pace– so I gave it a go.
I’ve never read a comic featuring Miles Morales in a Spidey costume. Sure, I’m very aware (mostly by osmosis) who he is– but this would still be a new experience for me. I also haven’t read a Bendis comic in months… And I figured the many days in-between would stop me from getting so ragey. That said, please remember why I choose to review this comic. The reason is in the paragraph directly above the paragraph you’re reading now… And it will come into play later, toward the end of the review… Where I may (or may not) lose my shit.
On the whole, I would categorize my brief time with Miles Morales as “somewhat pleasant”. Yes, his mother is dead and his father’s run away (after Miles told him he was Spider-Man). I’m fine with all that. There should be some sadness in the life of the person who holds the mantle of Spider-Man. Sadness has always made Spidey strive to be a better hero… To be unselfish… To make sacrifices in his personal life– even if it causes conflict. (You know, everything Dan Slott’s Spider-Man isn’t about.)
There are 3 stories running though this comic. The first features Norman Osborn escaping from SHIELD and another showcases some “Spider-Twins” committing robberies. I honestly wish I could say I found either of these stories compelling, but they are all set-up… All antagonists Miles will face off with later. The third (and infinitely more interesting) story involves Miles debating whether he should tell his girlfriend
Freefall from Gen 13 Katie that he’s secretly Spider-Man. Before he decides on whether or not he should confess, Miles talks to the one person who will know what to do. And this leads me to my favorite part of the comic:
Unlike Slott, Bendis writes a decent Mary Jane. She tells Miles that it was both good and bad Pete revealed he was Spider-Man (to her). But she also warns Miles the decision to tell Katie means a hell of a lot more than him just him “telling her.” During this scene, it becomes painfully obvious emotion and intelligence are the huge things missing from Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man comic. Mary Jane Watson wasn’t just Peter Parker’s girlfriend/wife, she was also a big part of his morality as he matured. She was the one person he could honestly talk to– the friend he could receive guidance and direction from. Even here in Ultimate Spider-Man, MJ is not only helping Miles make a decision– she’s letting him know exactly how things could play out. She’s pretty much doing for Miles what she did for Pete… And it’s really great to see.
So Miles Morales – The Ultimate Spider-Man #1 was decent. It was Spider-Man without really being Spider-Man– and I kinda liked it.
My two complaints come from things I could not look past. First, the issue didn’t really read like a #1 issue. I know I’m complaining about this same shit again– but if I didn’t have some passing knowledge of the USM comic before this, I probably would have only understood 75% of what was going on. I truly believe Marvel has given up on selling #1 comics to NEW readers… And is perfectly content with selling all of their “new” first issues to EXISTING readers. (They do nothing but hurt the industry by doing this… But what else is new?)
As far as my other complaint: On the very last page, PETER PARKER fucking shows up out of nowhere. Now, I’m thinking this may be a clone thing and all– but seriously? Fuck that. Remember, I wanted to read Miles Morales The Ultimate Spider-Man #1 specifically because there was NO Peter Parker in it… And now here he is. Fucking hell. That’ll learn me. I just can’t win. – Jose Melendez
The Woods #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Michael Dialynas
Colorist: Josan Gonzalez
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
24 pages, $3.99
After reading the first few pages of The Woods, my initial thought was, “I think that I’m too old for this.” After completing the issue, my initial assumption was affirmed.
The story focuses on a very typical group of high school students– teens who spend their days agonizing over their social lives, their parents and their education. As relatable as this scenario is to the public (myself included)… As someone who’s seen that phase of my life come and go, I felt like I was reading something too far removed from of my maturity level to enjoy. Don’t get me wrong: I love to feel a little immature once in a while, but I think if I were at least ten years younger– this may have been a slightly more appealing piece of literature.
Aside from my obvious demographic issues, there are some glaring faults in this story that only contribute to the juvenile subject matter– dragging the comic into the realm of the ridiculous. When the stuff hits the fan suddenly and inexplicably, every character simply accepts and reacts to the situation right away. There are no moments of morbid doubt, despair and hysteria. Instead there is organization, understanding and action. The token “smart guy” character has an epiphany, manages to get a group together and formulates a random “plan” for survival– all while explaining what is happening and what WILL happen with insightful clarity. For the purpose of convenience, every character involved ends up having an individual skill or possession that allows them to carry out the “plan” without missing a beat.
High school kids who barely know how to emotionally deal with a bad test score suddenly have the maturity and life experience to remain calm and calculating in the face of a COMPLETELY foreign situation… To wrap their heads around the idea of a potential cosmic/supernatural/apocalyptic event within minutes? Give me a break. – Danielle Young