There were a ton of comics that came out this week. Lots of variety from vampires to monsters to talking monkeys.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #7
After coming to grips with the fact that she can't possibly have a normal life, Buffy moves in with Spike aboard his bug spaceship. You know, when Season 9 started, it was supposed to be a lot more grounded in real life. I don't think that anything that I just wrote brings the character back to her roots. Anyway, Buffy has decided that if she can't do normal, then she doesn't want to bring a new life into this world and force it to be second to slaying. Spike reveals that he still has feelings for her after he proves that he's still the most badass vampire around by taking out a bunch of zompires.
As usual, Georges Jeanty's art is hit or miss. Some of the close-up shots are great, but anything that's even a little bit farther away looks awkward, like the facial features aren't lined up correctly. And don't get me started on those noses.
So far, Season 9 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer feels like it's missing something. The last season hit the ground running with a load of great stories that built on one another. This feels rather linear and it definitely lacks that signature Joss Whedon wit. The past few issues have all ended with some sort of twist and this one is no different. The cliffhanger here, though, pushes the book into really weird territory (as if the zompires and bug spaceships weren't enough).
After discovering the truth about this new universe, ex-priest / current FBI investigator Tom Judge struggles to come to grips with this new information. Tilly Grimes, the bearer of the Rapture in this world, is drawn to him, but she can't figure out why. Tom is starting to realize the depth of what has happened and wants to set things right. Things get complicated when the Angelus swoops in, but it's not the same one we've seen in the past. It seems that more things have changed than what Tom had originally thought.
It's a bold move to continue an event book, but Top Cow Productions is doing just that with Artifacts. It's definitely unusual, but it really works here, especially with how the main storyline wrapped up. Ron Marz has become an architect for this universe and the book is a game changer.
Stjepan Sejic's art is amazing. Everything looks so lifelike which makes the scenes with Jackie Estacado (aka the Darkness) completely terrifying. There are few things scarier than a real life giant, multi-headed snake thing with pointy teeth. Sejic's depictions of the Rapture and the Angellus are just as bold and beautiful, but even the characters that don't sport an Artifact look great.
On the surface, Artifacts is a story we've seen before. It happened with Marvel's House of M and most recently with DC's Flashpoint last year where the world is altered and only a handful of people know the truth. In this case, Tom Judge is trying to set things right and put everything back to how he remembered it. This story seems like it could have much deeper ramifications for the characters involved, so I'm looking forward to where it goes next.
Exile of the Planet of the Apes #1
After blowing me away with Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes, the team of Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman has returned with Exile of the Planet of the Apes, a direct sequel. Set 18 years before Taylor crash landed, the humans have continued to devolve and are treated like savages by the apes. All is not well in the monkey business though. There are rumors that the speechless human rebels have a some simian help and tensions are rising amongst the council.
Betrayal was illustrated by Hardman, but he's moved solely to a co-writing role for Exile. Marc Laming is an excellent replacement. His work is very clean and precise. The opening action scene is frenetic and put together very well. Admittedly, I have trouble telling ape from ape in some cases, but everything looks great here. Colorist Jordie Bellaire also deserves a mention as her work really brings out Laming's pencils. Each panel within Ape City is brightly colored and beautifully rendered.
If you're just jumping into Exile of the Planet of the Apes, you'll probably have some questions if you didn't read Betrayal, but not enough to lose enjoyment from the comic. Fans of the previous mini-series will find take home a lot more from this issue. Bechko and Hardman pack an incredible amount of story into these pages and manage to do so without making the book feel rushed. Outside of Dr. Zaius, these are all new characters to the mythos and the authors bring them to the forefront quickly and made me care about them like they were Caesar himself.
Dark Matter #3
After the crazy reveal from the last issue, Dark Matter returns with bloodshed, betrayal, and conspiracy. There's still a definite space age Seven Samurai vibe with the comic as the crew comes to grips with the fact that they were sent to kill the peaceful residents of a nearby planet. They just can't remember who paid them or why because they all woke up with amnesia. This issue gives us a bit more detail as to who is behind all of this, too.
I've said it for the past two months, but I am not digging Garry Brown's art. It's rough and sketchy and looks unfinished. It lacks a certain polish to it. I wonder if a decent inker could help reign in his wild pencils a bit more. Brown did have an impressive full page spread of an all-out brawl in a saloon planetside that was a nice surprise.
Dark Matter has a great story behind it and it's shaping up to be a sci-fi story of desperation and brash decisions. There's a very slight hint at comic relief that helps offset the dire situation that the crew and the planet inhabitants are in. I wish the art was a little cleaner, but the plot is making up for it.
The Strain #4
I've said it before, but damn do I have to read The Strain from Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The comic has been a little slow to start but things are really ramping up with this month's issue. The vampires are starting to spread and there's a hysteria machine being created by a strange old man that is clearly masking things to keep the public unsuspecting of the coming epidemic.
Mike Huddleston's art hasn't sold me yet. There are moments throughout the book that look great, such as vampire Gabe lashing out at his manager. Close up shots look well done, but anything that's a little zoomed out looks vague. Huddleston seems to struggle with proportions in this issue. Most of the characters that are in a full body shot have very small appendages. It makes the art look unintentionally goofy and it's distracting to such a dark horror story.
This issue of The Strain gives us some peeks into the lives of each of the characters. It manages to push the overall story forward a great deal by using these small steps. The story is very satisfying so far, but I wish the art was a little more solid.
Godzilla: Legends #5
Godzilla: Legends comes to a close with a look at Kumonga, the giant spider monster. This issue is told by adventurer Bryson Allworth. He's skydived, battled crocodiles, and more. That's why he was the perfect man for the job when the government needed someone to get some DNA samples from Godzilla. He's probably the only guy stupid or crazy enough to do it. Allworth literally jumps on the big monster's back and climbs up his scales. He then witnessed an epic battle between Godzilla and Kumonga.
Dean Haspiel handled the art for this issue. His pencils have a nostalgic feel to them which matches the tone of the story very well. Allworth is older now and looking back on this event in his life with fond memories. It wasn't that long ago, but we're seeing this from his recollection of the confrontation with Godzilla. The monster itself has a classic look to it too.
The Godzilla comics from IDW have been nothing short of action-packed fun. This issue is no different. It's a big monster-on-monster battle with just enough humor to get passed the fact that these creatures are responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Neverland: Hook #4
Cross was pulled back to Neverland because he thought he brother was still alive. Barr, a disfigured, power hungry tyrant reveals himself to be the one behind Cross' visions and he has a use for the one-handed rebel. We're provided with a glimpse into Barr's back story that shows that he was the ruler of Neverland before Pan swooped in and took over. Since then he's been living in the shadows, biding his time until he can return to power.
Jim Rodgers drew this issue of Neverland: Hook. The basic forms look good, but the art itself looks unfinished, as if there were some final touches that Rodgers didn't get a chance to do before the book went to print. Facial expressions look a bit odd.
This issue is setting the stage for what looks to be a huge battle next month. We've got fairy-on-fairy action with Tinker Belle going up against the mysterious Dark Fairy. Tiger Lily and Cross are ready to fight it out with Barr and his henchmen. I'm ready for it, but I really don't get what the deal is with the creepy baby in the crystal. What's going on with that?
Dead Man's Run #2
Sam Tinker is in hell...literally. Greg Pak's bizarre version of the afterlife continues in this month's issue of Dead Man's Run. Hell is a prison where Sam Tinker finds himself trapped. Fortunately, he's a cartographer and he got a look at the blueprints of the joint before he was thrown in a cell. The book now looks like it's a supernatural version of Prison Break and that's actually pretty cool.
This issue has Tinker and his new cellmate falling into the fourth level of hell, reserved for murderers and rebels. They're put to work with numerous other prisoners to mine for the blood of angels to exchange for the souls of the innocent. This is a story that is built on layers, pulling from many different versions of the afterlife.
Pak's strong plot is weakened slightly by Tony Parker's art. Parker gets the basics fine, but seems to have trouble with necks, especially when a character isn't standing upright. If someone is turned or at an odd angle, it looks like the body is drawn and then a head is pasted on. It looks rather awkward, however Parker does have some great art direction. There's an excellent panel that gives us a view from a huge crocodile's mouth.
Dead Man's Run is an interesting concept that I hope to see more of. It's like The Great Escape from Hell. This issue introduces a few more characters, but Sam Tinker's surroundings are still being revealed.
Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #3
The supernatural goods are delivered in this month's issue of Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand. Tired of being outsmarted by the claw-branding vigilante, mob boss Arnie Wald has enlisted the help of a strange woman and her even stranger partner. We were given a peek as to what the trench-coat-wearing man was about last month, but we're able to see his bizarre powers in full force here. The book opens with a hobo getting his body burned away by mysterious black fire. Our hero goes head-to-head with this man of darkness, but runs into some trouble along the way.
Tonci Zonjic's artwork is awesome. It's like a modernized version of old school comics like Dick Tracy, which matches the setting of Lobster Johnson perfectly. His work is very precise and clean too, with very tight pencils. I love the way that he draws the black fire villain -- whom I really hope gets a name sometime soon -- as a being completely devoid of color. Wherever he steps there is just darkness.
Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand is only halfway to its completion, but the stakes were just raised considerably. The bad guys are starting to show their hand and the vigilante with a penchant for crustaceans may have met his match.
You know that scene in most action movies when things really start to come together? It's the part that's just before the climax and the big battle. That's what this issue of Orchid feels like. It moves all the pieces into the right positions to really shake things up. The title character is finally stepping into the strong female role that she was born to play by learning a few fighting maneuvers from Opal and standing up for herself. They recruit Westin, an old man with hooks for hands and a knowledge of gadgets and explosives. His allegiance is only to the almighty dollar so I'm not sure how far along with the group's journey that he'll stay on for.
Scott Hepburn delivers on the art for Orchid. These characters are living, breathing beings. You can tell so much about them from their designs and mannerisms. Hepburn gets to draw all kinds of stuff in this series and this month is no different. There are several decapitations, giant robot spiders, and a man that will probably never look at hot dogs the same way again. I'm excited for the next issue as it looks like things are set for a big confrontation between Orchid and the forces of the elite.
|Grimm Fairy Tales #68
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Raven Gregory
Illustrated by Tim Smith III and Marco Cosentino
$2.99, 26 Pages
At long last, Sela is reunited with her lost love / baby daddy, Erik. Of course, the first thing that you'd expect them to do is jump into a long and complicated back story to explain every single detail as to how he got to this particular place at that specific moment. No? Well, that's what happens. Sure, they hug and say they love each other, but then it's story time as Erik explains the history of the Dark One and manages to tie the Grimm Universe to ancient Roman mythology.
Art on this issue was split up between Tim Smith III and Marco Cosentino. I'm not sure who handled what, but the sum of their parts is not very great. Characters look blocky and disproportionate. Many people look like awkward teenagers who don't know what to do with their arms. Facial expressions are just out there.
Grimm Fairy Tales is the signature book of Zenescope, but this issue left much to be desired. The company is certainly capable of putting out good work that ties in to this overall universe, but right now it is squandering in needless backstory.
|Infestation 2: G.I.Joe #1
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Mike Raicht
Illustrated by Valentine De Landro
$3.99, 26 Pages
The G.I. Joe universe is the only one amongst the IDW properties that has the bad luck to be visited by both Infestation events. First it was zombies and now it's Lovecraftian monsters. While digging around in Antarctica, some Cobra agents discover a temple to the Elder Gods. A week later, an artifact recovered from the scene shows up at Cobra headquarters and madness ensues. Now there's a group of crazy disfigured monsters against Storm Shadow and a handful of forgettable agents.
The artwork by Valentine De Landro is pretty basic. It gets the job done, but it's nothing to write home about. Colorist John Rauch brings the pencils to life, though. There are some bright colors that really pop as the story starts to unfold. Where both De Landro and Rauch excel is when the monsters start to invade. There are some creatures that are the stuff of nightmares. Picture a hunchback with a giant set of jagged teeth coming out of his neck and you have the idea. Real spooky stuff.
As with the previous Infestation event, the sequel tie-in is centered around Cobra instead of the title organization. I'm not as well versed in my G.I. Joe nerd knowledge, but is that always the case? Was Cobra always more interesting?
That's not all, horror fans. Also out this week but not reviewed here were:
- House Of Night #5 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Frankenstein Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #7 (DC Comics)
- Saucer Country #1 (Vertigo)
- Dark Shadows #4 (Dynamite Entertainment)
- Locke & Key: Clockworks #5 (IDW Publishing)
- Nancy In Hell On Earth #2 (Image Comics)
- Reed Gunther #9 (Image Comics)
- Comeback Kings #2 (Ardden Entertainment)
- Crossed: Badlands #1 (Avatar Press)
- John Saul's God Project #1 (Bluewater Productions)
- War Goddess #6 (Boundless Comics)
- Wasteland #35 (Oni Press)
- Charmed #19 (Zenescope Entertainment)
As if that wasn't enough, there were also a bunch of trades that came out this week.
- Monstermen And Other Scary Stories (Dark Horse Comics)
- Ghostbusters: Volume 1 (IDW Publishing)
- Darkness: Accursed - Volume 6 (Top Cow Productions)
- Spawn: Origins Collection - Volume 14 (Image Comics)
- Spawn: New Beginnings - Volume 2 (Image Comics)
- Romero's Requiem (Arcana Studios)
- Crossed: Volume 3 Psychopath (Avatar Press)
- Rotten Lost Diary Of John J Flynn US Agent (Moonstone)
- Grimm Fairy Tales: Dream Eater Saga - Volume 2 (Zenescope Entertainment)
- Grimm Fairy: Tales Myths & Legends - Volume 2 (Zenescope Entertainment)
- Grimm Fairy Tales: Sinbad (Zenescope Entertainment)
So what did you pick up, horror fans? Did you break the bank this week with the ton of spooky funny books that came out? Let me know what was on your pull list in the comments!
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