Hola! It's time for another action-packed edition of Comics With Steve. I'm Steve (if you hadn't already surmised) and I'll be the one yammering about some comics today.
These are just mini-reviews and usually reflect my initial thoughts on a comic. Of course, your comments and suggestions are always welcome.
In the trash.
Just kidding! Put the garden hose down. Please??
There's less comics than I read of course... I'm already working on the next CWS (which will include titles I don't normally read; you know, to giving the raving a break). It should be up really, really soon. But for now, I give you the following...
It never dawned on me that I'd ever be reading Spawn comics again. It really didn't. I read some Spawn back in the 90s and I truly enjoyed the HBO series, and the toys are cool, but I've always wondered how Spawn kept on going as a title and character. No offence meant to Spawn fans, mind... It's just how I feel.
So then I read that Spawn: Godslayer one-shot from last year and I was intrigured. Enough to buy this issue, in fact. The story is the classic Spawn genesis... A man off doing war-oriented things cuts a deal with a Great Evil in order to see the one he loves again and fulfill his promise to return. In this case this takes place on a fantasy world where's there's gods and dragons. The woman introduced in the one-shot is the focal point on this series, along with her lost love, who's still off killing the gods of this world. It would seem she is trying to bring back her man, albeit impeded by having been killed. The overall story is touching and compelling, which are two words I never thought I'd use to descrbe a Spawn comic. The art isn't as "epic" looking as the painted one-shot, but it does a great job of transporting readers to this fantastic land that is being torn apart by the mighty Godslayer. This is a story about loss, regret, and evil. I'm impressed. Here's to reading #2 and hoping that the momentum can be kept up.
Garth Ennis' love-letter to Punisher fans everywhere continues into it's 48th issue... and, of course, it's as good as ever. Very rarely during his run have I seen anything that seems below average. And with no super-heroes or any of the clap-trap that goes along with it. Make no mistake, this issue is as hard as ever and the mob widows that want Frank dead get shaken up a bit when a a cop gets too close. Castle is alive and well and recovering while his caretaker sets off at the close of the issue to get some payback. The last page made me smile. Normally I'd think it was cheesy, but this creative team pulls it off flawlessly.
Score: 4/5 (not a shocker)
This hit the racks earlier than the other comics I'm going over, but I'd heard things about it and wanted to check it out. I did. It's not all that great. I mean, it's not terrible... But damnit, Steve NIles' stuff is so hit and miss. And some of it is atrocious and some of it is, like, right here in this very title. Take the main character, who goes by-- wait for it-- BLUD. Can you guess what he does? One of your first three guesses will be correct; you can bet on that. Blud is short for Bludowski and that's a joke, get it? Anyhow, I'll save the rant about how the guys at 2000 AD do that shit better for another time. Point is Mr. Blud is a killer (SURPRISE!!) and he has no emotions whatsoever about killing folk. So he does it for a living. In the course of his work he happens on what appear to be zombies and then takes the world's widest train to a city or something and ends up with snooty country clubesque vampires. Or something. There are parts of this book that are great... like the smuggling of a head in the belly of a woman (making her appear to be preggers). That was cool. Especially since it was a living (or at leat animate) head. But other things... other things, like the horrible "They call me Blud" narration, that made me laugh (and not in a good way). These things make me unhappy. There's "hit and miss" all over this book. Now, that doesn't mean I'm going to give up on it. I did chuckle when I read the back page and saw all the"horror mastermind" and "greatest artist EVAR" noise. Don't get me wrong, the art is alright (but nothing to flip over) and Steve Niles IS talented and has some pretty damn cool ideas. But let's be honest... This title better shape up quick or I'm going to stop reading it. Shaky first issue, you know? The major plus is that it's very "pulpy" and sometimes the mood and story are spot on. We'll see how things pan out... I have issue #2 for the next installment here.
Score 2.5/5 (but gets a 'B' for effort)
A great wrap-up to an interesting and entertaining sci-fi military/adventure drama set in the world of Starship Troopers by up-and-coming super-scribe Tony Lee. The only thing I didn't like much over the series was the art. Jesus Christ, the art was utterly horrible until #3 when Sam Hart took over. Now, Sam Hart is far from being one of my fave artists, but Damaged Justice looked better-- read better-- once he was one the illustrative duties. So, my heart goes out to you Mr. Hart. Good work. You saved this series. Though I focus more on writers, crappy art WILL ruin a comic. That's a fact. Luckily everything ends up kosher. As for the story... Well, it ties up nicely and throws us into the ongoing series (Starship Troopers #1, also pretty good; will get to it next time). Lee has done a bang-up job on creating characters that get you attached to them. I'm totally wondering what happens next and I must know what happens to these people. And the dog! Tony Lee has to be one of the only writers I've encountered that pulls off a talking dog in a sci-fi military drama and does it well! How is this possible? Regardless, it works nicely, and Boney is as real as the rest of them. I'm always harping on how I like "pulpy" elements in the stories I read, and this is another example. Hardcore military types may not enjoy Lee's style as much, but those that love good old fashioned pulp science fiction adventure will feel right at home.
Hulk SMASH. What else do you need to know? I don't want to give too much away here, as this is something that needs to be read in order for it to be experienced properly; but DAMN is this issue good. I love Planet Hulk and I have been hearing about WWH for a while now as the hype machine was getting started. I have to say, this is everything hyped and more. Simple and to the point, World War Hulk sets down on Earth swinging. I haven't read a more beautifully simple yet exciting comic book in a long time. It's not perfect prose or anything. Don't expect something deep and meaningful. Just sit back and enjoy the slugfest. This is what superhero comics should be about, in my opinion. This is what Civil War could have been. And this is just issue one. Bravo to the whole team on this one. I was cheering. I was so cheering. What are you waiting for? Come get some of this.
This kicks off with an excellent scene of some Black Templar Sapce Marines tearing it up with a gob of Orks. So far, so good with this series. The story that Abnett and Edginton provides is worthy of their names and the art is so fitting it makes my fillings tingle. Neophyte Brother Raclaw's journey continues as everything unfolds and we're even treated with a touching moment with Tankred, the Dreadnought-entombed Black Tamplar. You fellow Warhammer 40k nerds NEED to be reading this series. Seriously. It's one hell of a tale that does the source material justice and them some. I was wary of a small outfit like Boom! Studios doing the Warhammer line of comics. It's satisfying to know that I have nothing to fear.
Yet another entertaining prog bursting at the seems from pure zarjaz!
First off we are given Greysuit, a story about a bio-modified UK government agent who beginas to develop morals. Terrific thrill! Can't wait for the nest installment.
The Nikolai Dante thrill was good. I'm so very glad that this is the exciting adventure strip I originally fell in love with again.
Gordon Rennie continues to prove, in my mind at least, to be one of the greatest Dredd writers ever. The one-off thrill Judge Dredd: Tartan Terrors pokes fun at Cal-Habbers (Scots) and is riotously funny. Jock is back and delivers the goods real nice like. He's also certainly one of the best artists on Dredd to have had the job. Really, Rennie and Jock make a swell team. More of them, please.
Detonator X reminds me of 50's or 60's SF in look and style with some more radical sci-fi story elements that just make this damn good. It's tracking along nicely with Part 7, and I'm all sorts of curious to see what happens next.
Last but not least in my beloved weekly UK anthology comic is another rip-roaring tale by Pat Mills (the other in this prog is Greysuit) and it's a doozy. Defoe concerns the London plague of 1666... except it's a plague of the ravenous living dead! Titus Defoe is a hunter of these creatures. And he kicks serious ass. He reminds me of a Warhammer Fantasy character (like Brunner the Bounty Hunter or, better yet, Witch Hunter Thulmann) meets Soloman Kane. I'm so zar-jazzed over this one it ain't pretty a'tall. Plus, it's black and white and drawn VERY well by Leigh Gallagher. The mood is perfect. Love it.
I should note that the cover (by Jock) of prog 1540 is one of the best I've seen in awhile. All in all, an super awesome offering from the overworked bots over at 2000 AD.
Score: 4.5/5 (pure thrill-power!)
What we have here is something that surprised me. I didn't expect it to be that good, which is why I read it, actually. However, I was completely taken off-guard by a very solid and well put-together issue. Namor is caught in a shady political mess as a town of 900 is wiped out. Was it Atlantis? No, says Namor... but the evidence shows otherwise and S.H.I.E.L.D. head Tony Stark (aka Iron Man, duh) is prepared to do whatever it takes to get some justice. What will Namor do? It looks like he may take the offensive. It is Namor after all. This comic demonstrates exactly how you should do a setting-up issue. I was hanging on every word and genuinely concerned about the fate of the Atlanteans. And what's up with Nitro? Very cool. Marvel fans should pick this bad-boy up and live the drama. I mentioned some time back somewhere that although I felt Civil War was kinda weak, it did set the stage for some stuff to be really damn neat. This is one of those things. Read and enjoy.
Score 4/5 (one heck of a pleasant surprise!)
Fear Agent: The Last Goodbye #1
Heath Huston is my fucking hero. Okay, that said, I'll go into what little bit about this issue that rubbed me the wrong way. See, I have the first eleven Fear Agent comics that came out on Image. For some reason, I thought all of this was happening much farther in the future than noted in the beginning of this issue, the first one out from my other heroes, Dark Horse. So it's only 10 years or so ahead of time, eh? I suppose I can live with that since alien invasions can change things quite drastically. That slight gripe aside, this is one outstanding issue. It covers the beginning, how all this mess happened, the death of Heath's dad and son, the devastation of Earth. Issues upcoming in the 4-parter will cover the birth of the Fear Agents, the human resistance, and what the hell happens with Huston. Colour me all shades of excited. I love this comic and Remender and Moore definitely make the genre of sci-fi war rock and rock hard. Writer Rick Remender said that he wanted to give science-fiction stones again. Goddamnit, he's doing it.
Here's a fun title that some say they are ashamed to laugh out loud at. I'm not ashamed. I'm a sick puppy and this is one fun title, darnit. Foster kids trained to be sadistic killers? Neat. Great art with its very own personality by Chee? Even better. Ward of the State isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't care. I really like it a lot. I'll certainly read every issue of this well-thought-out and constructed series. I love how there's a mystery going on with the kids being killed one by one. I love the dialogue. It's visceral, real, and entertaining. It's not one of those titles you completely squee over and say "ZOMG BEST COMIX BBQ!!11" but saying it's "full of win" is not far off the mark. One of my quirky faves, to be sure. Can't wait to get #3. And, if I laugh, I shall not be ashamed in the least.
There we have it! More soon! And don't forget to check out more stuff here on MediaGauntlet. Just click around, read some movie reviews or sumptin'. Make sure to stop by SilverBulletComicBooks.com and read some excellent reviews by some of the best reviewers alive today. While you're there, read All the Rage if you haven't already...
Save some tacos for me. I'll see you next time!