So many comics, so little time. We've got some new titles this week and some old ones returning. Some books are ending. Let's get right into it, shall we?
The story in Fatale gets a little smokier in the second issue. I didn't realize it with the premiere, but Josephine's grandmother is actually Josephine. I don't know why I didn't pick up on that originally. Granted, they look alike, but I just didn't see it. So she's doing some sort of dark magic to stay young and her husband seems to be after the same mojo, but Jo's not too happy about it. In typical spider woman fashion, she's manipulating Raines to take care of her husband. In some ways this is a noir cliché, but there's a supernatural element to it that's just getting started.
Sean Phillips continues to just knock it out of the park with the artwork. His style is a perfect fit for the story and the art direction is very well done. There are some great shots that could easily translate into a film.
Two issues in and I'm hooked on Fatale. I can't wait to see more on the monster angle. Just who is Josephine working with to keep her beauty? And what's up with that symbol?
Infestation 2: Transformers #1
The Elder Gods invade the world of the Transformers circa the late 1800's! What's more terrifying that an army of fish people? An army of fish people and possessed Decepticons, that's what. The Autobots see the threat and instead of fighting it head on, they slowly make their way to where Optimus Prime is sleeping so that they can wake him up. Seriously. That's the plot of the issue. Most of it consists of a few Autobots driving with Nikola Tesla and a scientist named Muldoon while Cthulu's soldiers and the Decepticons start to ravage towns. Sure, Optimus is a big deal and all, but can't they at least try to fight these guys?
The one saving grace throughout this issue is Guido Guidi's art. It's pretty damn impressive. His fish monsters are suitably terrifying, but not as scary as a tentacle-whipping Bonecrusher as he comes through the water to attack an unsuspecting Autobot. That weird merging of flesh and metal is downright creepy.
Alpha Girl #1
This premiere issue of Alpha Girl has already sold out at the distributor level and for good reason. This is a fun new take on the zombie genre. The book stars Judith, a punk girl smoker who's out on her own looking for her brother Buddy in a world where all the women have been turned into rage-fueled zombies because of a botched experiment at a cosmetics company. Yes, it's just as ridiculous as it sounds, but it totally works. This is a tongue-in-cheek, funny comic.
Robert Love's art only serves to amplify the script from Jeff Roenning. It's very cartoony in style, but not over-the-top like Looney Tunes. It's weird to see these fun characters juxtaposed with things like hypodermic needles and these amped up, but probably nice-smelling ladies.
My only real issue with the book is that it goes by so quickly.
Valen the Outcast #3
Valen has to fight a threat from within as Zjanna is possessed by Korrus Null. He flees with Cordovan through Willow Slough, but ends up getting stuck between a rock and a hard place with Zjanna at his back and a fierce Skulk ahead. Valen the Outcast is the first fantasy comic that I've enjoyed. It's bloody and gruesome, but there's an interesting story that bridges the high-action battles. This issue moves the characters closer to Valen's goal of reclaiming his soul.
Matteo Scalera's artwork felt a little off with this issue. At times it's like he's channelling Chris Bachelo, who's an artist that I both love and hate, depending on the book. The characters look distorted a bit, especially Valen with his huge arms and his tiny head. The facial expressions for some of the characters are really weird, too. There's a panel were Zjanna gets hit in the face and her face it looks like she's about to take a picture of herself in a bathroom mirror with her cellphone, duckface and all.
Haunted City #2
After being thrown into the action in the first issue, Haunted City takes a step back to fill in some of the gaps in the story. It lost me a little bit, though. The first issue was centered on Detective Tom Whalen, a cop who is stuck between internal affairs and a drug kingpin, as he's approached by the Witchfinder General to join a secret group. This issue spends half the time talking about Tom's father, a hero cop from years ago. The other half gets a bit into Tom's situation with the drug dealer and why he should be very afraid of him.
Michael Ryan has a nice take on the art. The flashback scenes seem slightly brighter, the way you'd think of a fond memory. When it gets to present day, things are a little darker and grittier, showing us that the younger Whalen is far from his father's golden days.
Haunted City #2 feels disjointed, like it's not part of the same story that we saw in the first issue. A whole new set of obstacles are tossed into the ring here, adding to the events of the first issue including the Morrigan soul-stealing and Witchfinder group. I'm hoping that things can be pulled together a little more by the time the next book comes out.
Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes #4
The fast-paced thriller set 20 years before Taylor landed on the Planet of the Apes reaches its conclusion with this issue. We finally learn the truth about what happened between Aleron and Varus in that cave 15 years ago. We also learn just how far Councilor Tenebris' influence reaches. It's a tense finale, but it's one that sets up the status quo for the ape society that we encounter in the first film. In that sense, it works very well in that I can now go back and watch that movie with some background knowledge of where Dr. Zaius is coming from.
Gabriel Hardman's art is damn beautiful in this issue. During the more action-packed scenes, it has a very brutal feel to it. It's very raw. He continues to excel in the art direction. There's a great page towards the end where Aleron is remembering the encounter with Varus. Aleron's face is on the middle of the page, with the right side of his head blending in to the next two panels showing the details of that night. It's not your average panel layout and it works very well.
Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes is like the Bourne Identity of the POTA franchise. I'm not saying that there's an ape that wakes up with amnesia and starts kicking ass. It's that this is a suspenseful story filled with conspiracy, bloodshed, and...well, betrayal. My only qualm with this issue was that the ending felt a little rushed. Bechko and Hardman managed to pack so much story into just four issues that the ending sort of jumped out at me.
Freed from Hell, Elliot Spencer (formerly Pinhead) searches for his lost memories while his replacement Kirsty tries to justify her new-found view on Hell. I wish there was more to say about this issue, but that about sums it up. It's a quick read without a lot of movement in the plot department. The major points have to do with Spencer trying to solve his amnesia.
Artwise, things are a bit better, with Stephen Thompson and Janusz Ordon splitting the book up. Thompson handles the scenes with Spencer while Ordon takes care of the ones with Kirsty. Ordon's scenes are more gruesome as the new Pinhead explains her revised views to Tiff as they walk through Hell. Thompson's panels are more plain, set in the real world, but he gets to let loose towards the end of the book.
This issue has one major plot point, but overall was a little disappointing.
The zombie western, Brimstone comes to a close in this issue. It's been a bloody battle as the cursed gold pulls the dead up to defend it against anyone who would make away with it. Black Jack and Annabelle stand with an infected Viper against the remaining horde. Viper proves to be one of the most badass characters in comics history. Even with a zombie bite destroying his humanity, he's man enough to take on all comers and protect Annabelle.
Hyunsang Michael Cho has a really interesting art style. At times it looks almost like sketches that were made with colored charcoal. It works very well for scenes where there's not a lot of movement, but during the big action scenes, the art makes it difficult to follow what's going on. I liked it overall though because it's something you don't see much of in comics and it matched the dark tone of the story.
I would have liked a bit more from the plot in Brimstone as it was clear there was more to the gold and to the characters. This mini-series was a little longer than the four-issue ones I've seen recently and I'm definitely glad that they at least had seven issues to flesh out the story. I just wanted a bit more.
Also out this week but not reviewed are the following funny books.
- Animal Man #6 (DC Comics)
- Supernatural #5 (DC Comics)
- Swamp Thing #6 (DC Comics)
- I Zombie #22 (Vertigo)
- Anne Rice's Servant of the Bones #6 (IDW Publishing)
- Locke & Key Clockworks #4 (IDW Publishing)
- Reed Gunther #8 (Image Comics)
- Crossed Psychopath #5 (Avatar Press)
- Penny for your Soul: False Prophet #3 (Big Dog Ink)
- Hellraiser Masterpieces #7 (BOOM! Studios)
- Charmed #18 (Zenescope Entertainment)
And in graphic novel news, it's a pretty light week
- American Vampire: Volume 3 (Vertigo)
- Xombi (DC Comics)
- Locke & Key: Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft Special Edition (IDW Publishing)
- Avengelyne: Volume 1: Devil in the Flesh (Image Comics)
- Witchblade: Redemption: Volume 4 (Top Cow Productions)
So you've got seen what I thought this week, but what did you think of this week's books? Let me know in the comments!
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