Hello and welcome. Or welcome back. Whatever applies to you, really.

Editorial mayhem over at SilverBulletComicBooks.com caused some odd delays in All The Rage, my regular column over there. So, as a result, there are fewer comics in this update than I would like. But since this is my "week off", so to speak, then I should have at the very least another edition of CWS up in only a few days' time.

Oh, and don't worry! Everything is cool at ATR and SBCB. No one is being "sent East," if that's what you're wondering.

On with the show...

 

witchbladepunisher1Witchblade/Punisher #1

Take Daredevil or Spider-Man and replace them with Top Cow's Queen of Cheesecake, add Frank Castle v1.5 and you have a comic book for the ages. Or so someone somewhere just had to have thought. I was actually thinking this has been done before, but that was with Painkiller Jane... I think. And that wasn't generic a story as this. I think. You know the drill-- Punisher tries to kill bad-guy and goody-goody soon-to-be-team-up pal tries to stop him, then something happens (gasp!), and they have to work together. YAWN, man. At least Captain America beat the shit out of Castle. I really do wonder who thought this was a good idea.

Sure, it's not a HORRIBLE idea ... just... well, it's boring. ("Hey, let's play with live hand grenades while drinking everclear!" is a horrible idea. But it would be infinitely more entertaining than this book.) The good points are that the art is okay (I guess) and the story is competently written (so far) with reasonably alright dialogue (this I am certain of). However, all of that "okay" stuff doesn't save this comic from being one big sheep-counting session. I mean, come on, WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? At least make it whacky new War Journal Frank or MAX Frank. Make the characters more than one dimensional cut-outs straight from teenagers' side conversation at a gaming table ("Is your dwarf seriously going to do that? With a unicorn?"). Or for the love of all things bacon something along those lines. I suppose not making the Witchblade woman all "bewb-normous" and fanboy wank fodder is a plus. I always felt that whole stripping changing into her revealing Witchbladinator gear in order to put the screws to evil to be kinda stupid. And like I said, it's all competent. Like one of those situations where a decent director makes a slightly below dead-average film. That's exactly what this is. Slightly below dead average. I've seen worse, to be sure. There's no mass graves resulting from this release (yet); so it can't be THAT bad, right? (Yet.)

Actually, this issue loses half a point because comics just shouldn't be so dull. Do better next time, dammit. If this had been released 5 years ago, I might have gave it 2/5, and if it had been released 10-15 years ago it would have been 2.5/5. Really, all you need is a time machine to get your money's worth. Then again, some would argue that this kind of book would have sucked no matter what. Keep in mind I'm a pretty nice guy and tend lean toward the more positive end of things...

Score: 1.5/5 (Do better!!!)

blacksummer00Black Summer #0 This comic has been hyped like mad. I should know, I've helped hype it and it's author quite a bit. Now, if this had been a bit of a let-down, I would have not been all that surprised. Thankfully, this short zero issue offering is exactly what the Doktor ordered! In a few pages we are blasted with some of the edgiest shit I've seen in comicdom in quite a long time (Witchblade/Punisher, you BETTER be taking notes!). Unless Warren Ellis does something akin to the writer's equivalent of  humping a full grown starving and mighty angry tiger, Black Summer should prove to be one of those monthly titles to get no matter what it takes. Juan Jose Ryp's art is fantastic and in top form here... I smell "FULL OF WIN" all over this title. Avatar will probably have a hit on their hands and those of us who like reading The Boys but wanted something a bit deeper to pick up along with it shall be pleased. Or so it looks. Read more about this comic here. Then go forth and procure it, my friends. It's only 99 cents in gawd-fearing American currency. Go get some. The write-up by Ellis in the back is worth the price of admission alone.

Score: 4.5/5 (Boo-yah!)

irredeemableantman9Irredeemable Ant-Man #9

I just have to say that this is one of those titles I simply cannot wait to read every month. Robert Kirkman has been rocking this book and Phil Hester's art is a perfect match. I suppose I'm hoping against hope that this comic will make it as an ongoing title, considering the sales. But, goddammit, it's so awesome it hurts. Eric O'Grady the Irredeemable Ant-Man is one asshole I like to root for.

Wait. That sounds so wrong, doesn't it? Rooting for assholes... Think about that one if you have to. Done? Okay, moving on.

More crazy fun is had with Black Fox showing up to play with Eric's Wii, Eric as Derek the Slaying Mantis gets in more time with Damage Control, Eric demonstrates just how much of a prick he is to women... even the ones he loves/likes, and then there's Eric helping out the needy. You know, those who need false papers and what have you. Sure, this comic isn't for everyone, but that's kinda the point. You either really love it or hate it. I love it. Not every issue is pure gold, but they all past muster with a wry grin on their face.

Score: 4/5

RetroRocket4Retro Rocket #4

I didn't know what to make of this when I got it, especially since it's #4 of a 4 issue series. However, I suppose it says a lot about a title when I  read through #4 then go out looking for issues 1-3. Put simply: This is a fantastic all-ages mini-series where the titular character is a man who's lost his body and ends up living within a robot. A really neat, kick-ass robot. In the future. Fighting aliens. Retro Rocket, from what I can tell, is a solid piece of storytelling, nicely balancing emotion and action, with the illustrative work to match. Excellent work, Tony Bedard and Jason Orfalas.

Score: 4/5

batman665Batman #665

I'll come straight to the point, I'm not a big DCU reader. And by that I mean I don't care much for the DC Universe. Nothing against those who do; I just don't like it all that much. I don't think I've read Batman since Alan Grant was on it back in the 90s. I really liked his work, and it made sense as I'm a huge fan of his take on Judge Dredd in 2000 AD. That said, I'm also a bit of an admirer of Grant Morrison, though I haven't read all that much of his DC work, save stuff like Doom Patrol and Animal Man. I more loved his UK comics work. Anyhow, when I heard that Morrison was doing Batman, I merely cocked my head in nearly feigned interest. Yet somehow, I got a hold of a copy of one of the more recent issues... you know, the ones many out there are bitching about? Damn, I LOVED it. Needless to say, I started picking Batman up again. Never thought I'd see the day.

As for this issue? This is Batman how I like him. Dark, gritty, determined. The comic is also dark, full of dead hookers and evil men. It's weird, too. Classic Morrison. Andy Kubert's art takes no prisoners, which compliments the story in a near-perfect way. In a nutshell, fans of a "grimmer" Batman with plenty of strange things as well as a pulp sensibility not seen in a comic like this in a long, long time (at least not by me) should certainly check this out.

Score: 4/5

With the exception of one issue, this was pretty much a lovefest. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'll try to review more material that I don't outright rave over... That way you guys don't think I'm getting paid to talk up comic books for those publishers out there. It's the perfect plan, really.

Shit, I just gave it away. Damn this food poisoning.

Don't forget to check out all of the other great stuff that MediaGauntlet has to offer, like the all new Views From the Longbox audiocast from the esteemed Mike Bailey (he's the one who helped get me a reviewing/writing gig at Silver Bullet).

If you want to read great comic book reviews by the truckload, make sure to swing by SilverBulletComicBooks.com and poke around. They're a good bunch and they're also nice enough not to throw things at me... much.

Catch ya later!