Black Metal

Comic book, 2007

Black Magic doesn’t seem to have any real reason to exist, other than to try and recreate that Scott Pilgrim magic. It’s similar subject matter (a literal manifestation of pop culture), published by the same company and in the same format. And just to drive the point home, there’s a character reading Scott Pilgrim in the book itself. It’s an unfulfilled promise on a couple of fronts though; as far as I can tell the “Book One” label on the cover is an empty threat, and the story can’t hold a candle to Pilgrim. The story is a bunch of empty, dark sword and sorcery nonsense, the love story is stiff as a board and while you can appreciate that some of the jokes are cleaver, none of them are funny. All in all, it’s a chore to read through. What’s great about it, however, is the art. Chuck BB is kind of an equal mix between Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley, Johnny Ryan and Sam Hiti. It ends up looking kind of like that old Samurai Jack cartoon, and lifts this book from a 2 to a 3. 3


Deadpool Team-Up #888

Comic book, 2010

I bought this comic because I’m a fan of Cullen Bunn’s from the first series of The Damned, and I’m a fan of Tom Fowler’s from Mysterious the Unfathesearethetypesofcomicspeopleshouldbemakingbutcantbecauseallcomicspeoplewanttoreadisfanservicesuperherocomics. The writing was a letdown. Fun idea, The Thing and Deadpool in a wrestling story, but the jokes are like stale internet humor from 2004. The art is great. Tom Fowler decides to put his distinctive stamp on the design of Deadpool, and comes up with something that really sticks in your head. He gets this thing and extra point that it doesn’t really deserve. 2.5


Assorted comic book reviews

The commercial exploitation of Evil Dead has been discussed herebefore so I won’t even bother going into it now, but man these comics are terrible. And I keep on buying them. It’s that “one more” mentality, where every time I see a new issue on the racks I say “It’s just one more! I have all the other ones…” It might be pertinent now to note that I have bought and played entirely through the first two Evil Dead games, and am sure I will do the same with the new one.

Well, I can’t really thing of one good thing to say about this comic. The art is uninspired. When these comics first started coming out the art was pretty decent, very true to Sam Raimi’s “twisted Warner Brothers cartoon” vision of Evil Dead 2. But that guy kept falling behind on deadlines, so they got this hack to replace him. And let me tell you something, as poor as his renderings of Bruce Campbell are his Jeffery Combs are even worse. He makes West look like one of those old people with no teeth whose mouth closes too much. Also, someone should have told these guys about Beyond Re-Animator. They clearly haven’t seen it.

The story is boring and matter-of-fact, with one dimensional characters and lazy plot twists. Evil Dead and Re-Animator are two of the best horror franchises ever (I actually can’t think of any better off the top of my head right now) because of their creativity and excitement. This book has none of those things. And it’s a shame too, because I’ve heard the original artist talk about his own story ideas for an Evil Dead comic book and they were brilliant. I imagine that it’s very hard to convince the movie studios to let you do what you want, but do it right or don’t do it at all.

Avoid at all costs unless you have an addiction (god save me).

 

Writing: 3 Art: 4 Storytelling: 3 Number of quotes taken directly from an Evil Dead or Re-Animator movie: at least 5 (I’m not too good with Re-Animator) Overall: 3
SUPER F*CKERS #2 (Top Shelf)

This is the first James Kolchaka comic I have ever gotten, and man am I glad I did. I have read his daily comic strip American Elf for a while, and remember seeing his distinctive art style in magazines even before that. This guy is at the top of his game right now. He already had all the indie cred he needs from his previous comics, and now that he’s released this much more “acceptable to mainstream” comic I’m seeing his name everywhere.

Super F*ckers is about the daily lives of a superhero team. The superhero archetype has been brought down from Superman a bit. They aren’t so much realistic as they are the worst people you could possibly know. They are stupid, self absorbed, careless, and above all mean. The relationship dynamics that the heroes have between each other are silly and simple, but very resonant. There are two sort of “superhero interns” doing all the shit work for the Super F*ckers, who are constantly getting walked all over by the team. But when they’re not getting picked on by the heroes, the dominant one is taking his aggression out on the weaker one.

And the art is simple and childish, but perfect. The color and line and for and balance are all good enough to eat. Various photography and other special effects are also used to great subtle effect. With something this cutting edge though, you wonder if it’s good because it’s good, or if the fading shock value will take it’s toll over the years.

This comic book is mostly just a mean violent and crude comedy, but it’s made me think a little bit about how people treat each other. It’s too bad that such a brilliant artist had to turn to such mainstream (for comics) subject matter to finally get some respect. What can I say? I’m guilty too.

 

Writing: 9 Art: 9 Storytelling: 9 Nudity: 1 (the cover is a red herring) Overall: 9
TMNT: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #24 (Mirage Publishing)
Man, these comics make me happy. Sure, a big part of it has to do with nostalgia. But I’ve been reading this series since day one (four years ago), and I think I’m a little past that now. This series follows the same continuity as the very first comic that first introduced the Ninja Turtles, and is still done by the original creators.

In this issue Casey Jones and Raphael hunt down the vampires that caused Raph’s mutation (he’s a giant monster now), Mikey tries to break out of a top security alien prison (completely hopeless), Leonardo goes through Splinter’s (dead-for real) belongings and makes some surprising discoveries. If this sounds cool to you that’s because it is. If it doesn’t then kindly skip to the next review.

I love the art in this series. It’s done by Jim Lawson, who is a love him or hate him artist, and I love him. All the different shading and detail techniques that he puts into every panel show you that he truly loves illustration. And he draws the best hands on the planet. People say that his humans look to weird, but those people should probably go back to reading their nice safe X-Men comics.

The writing is a little flat, I’ll admit. The characterization is strong, but everyone’s pretty much just permutations on the same character (plus ten for AWESOME PUN). They all have strong personalities that are very similar. They are all very kind practical people who love riding motorcycles. Reading the editorials in the back (where the creator of the TMNT often talks politics or plugs his favorite restaurants) it is clear that this personality is that of the writer. But the stories are sprawling and epic and brave (Ellis Island is now a landing point for aliens, who have become a new minority on Earth), and I enjoy the controversial “soap opera” style of story telling. Which is to say that there are no clear storylines, just different stories continued in each issue. Look at one issue and it doesn’t look like much is happening. Look at a lot of issues and it becomes clear that there is.

This is a great read if you are either a huge fan of the Ninja Turtles (nostalgia hounds need not apply) or of pulp comic art. If you don’t fall into one of those very specific categories, I would say “buy with caution”.

 

Writing: 7 Art:8 Storytelling: 9 Casey Jones kicking ass: 10 Overall: 8

THE NEW COLOR NEXUS #3 (Capital Comics)

And now for kind of an old comic. This was another very pleasant surprise. I’ve seen Nexus around for a while (mostly referred to in Madman Comics), but never picked one up. I was also aware of Steve Rude’s picture-perfect retro styled art, and am a big fan of his current series The Moth. When I finally got an issue of Nexus, it was everything I hoped it would be.

This comic book is basically like a grown up version of Johnny Quest, or any other old Hanna Barbera cartoon. One thing that kind of surprised me about it was the religious undertones. It’s about big important people. Characters pure of heart who sin, and do things that make you think a lot about not only their moral fiber, but you own.

And the storylines seem big and intricate, like the bible. Characters go on trial, are saved from death… you know, I bet without all that baggage the bible is a pretty kick ass read. Because this sure is.

It’s obvious to me that this book was a big inspiration for Madman, and has made me see even more clearly the religious undertones in that book (not to mention that its creator is currently making a full length comic version of the Book of Mormon). I get dodgy when it comes to religious stuff, but I don’t seem to disagree with any of the morals they’re presenting, and they’re not trying to get me to convert or anything. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the art and story kick ass.

 

Writing: 8 Art: 9 Storytelling: 8 Overall: 8