Comic Book Reviews 12-17-2014

Dec 16, 2014

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STK656778Godzilla Cataclysm #5 (IDW)

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Dave Wachter

First, let me just say you are going to want to buy both covers for this issue. The regular cover by Dave Wachter is just so powerful with how fierce the battle with Destroyah will be. The second cover by Bob Eggleton has such a monstrously creepy vibe mixed with the defiant pose by Godzilla that just screams brilliance. All that excitement and I haven’t event turned to page one yet.

Gdzilla-Cat-05-pr-6-d871bWith the series being titled Cataclysm, there is an understanding that things are bleak and as Cullen Bunn narrates “The world has been dead for decades. It was just beginning to wake from oblivion.” All the hopelessness and devastation of this terrible post-Cataclysmic world is put on display by Dave Wachter with his full landscape of dull colors (which enhances the feeling of dread in this world). There is so much detail in the art that you get a complete understanding of this environment without needing the script.

The idea behind this series didn’t hit me until midway through this issue when Hiroshi (the old man who has been the storyteller throughout the arc) begins to pray for survival. He doesn’t pray to God or some other god(s) in the pantheons, instead we hear him asking for salvation from Godzilla. What follows is the battle to determine if the world and civilization will get a second chance, after all isn’t that what God is about? Forgiveness and awesome atomic fire breathe?
*Review by Cory Anderson


terrcvr-42e00Terrible Lizard #2 (Oni Press)

Written By: Cullen Bunn
Illustrations By: Drew Moss
Colored By: Ryan Hill

I want to just say first that I am insanely jealous as well as happy that Cullen Bunn gets to write stories about giant monsters going ape on each other, pun intended. In this mega monster melee we have another giant lizard that is on the human side squaring off against a colossal ape that was mutated by the space/time energies.

Pages-from-TLIZARD-2-MARKETING-Page-4-e4060If it has giant monsters in it, I’ll read it and reminisce about playing with my toys pretending they’re having the same kind of fights. That is essentially what Cullen Bunn is doing except that he doesn’t need to use his imagination to see the action, he has a wonderful artist in Drew Moss that is illustrating every tail slap and ape punch. Bringing the monsters to life is Ryan Hill’s task, which he colorfully does, giving vibrant colors to the monsters making then even more unique then they already are.

Once the fights are wrapped up, we get to see the odd sight of the playful Terrible Lizard, and it’s a little unbelievable and unsettling, but this is a story about time/space anomalies and monsters, so it is character building. The real story of this series is discovered after we see how nice of a “pet” Wrex is (the name the young girl gives the giant dinosaur). Through the cliché science and military team up, it is revealed that Wrex is the center point for all this chaos and mutated madness, which they conclude that Wrex must be destroyed. After seeing how friendly he is or the potential for really fun monster fights, I hope he never gets destroyed (which I think was the mentality the staff was going for on this comic).
*Review by Cory Anderson


RocketSalvage-001-coverA-fad71Rocket Salvage #1 (Archaia/BOOM! Studios)

Created & Written by: Yehudi Mercado
Art by: Bachan
Color by: Jeremy Lawson

Every week I try and read at least one new comic, not only to force myself to broaden my horizons but also so I can share with you. This week Archaia in partnership with BOOM! Studios released Rocket Salvage #1, a new comic about space, racing, war and family. Rocket Salvage isn’t breaking ground or breaking any ground when it comes to story telling. It’s a by the numbers comic with a plot we have all seen a hundred time before. That being said, Yehudi Mercado has still managed to create an enjoyable experience. All of the characters have distinct and fitting personalities. You have the damaged, over protective father, the idiot, bumbling son, and the hyper intelligent, rebellious daughter. Again nothing new here but I still found Mercado’s setup and flow to be enough to capture the reader’s interest.

RocketSalvage-001-PRESS-8-82548The real saving grace of this comic is Bachan’s art and Jeremy Lawson’s colors. Bachan and Lawson beautifully render Mercado’s world in Rocket Salvage. Each panel is brimming with life and is what really holds your attention through the familiar story. While Mercado’s story is enjoyable, it’s Bachan’s pencils and Lawson’s colors that make it worth reading. Like your favorite Saturday morning cartoon Rocket Salvage invokes a style that really tugs at your pre-adult sensibilities. A pleasant reminder of a time when you still had a drop of kid in you but you wanted nothing more than to be an adult.

Rocket Salvage is fun mix of Speed Racer and Star Wars with art that is out of this world. I recommend Rocket Salvage for anyone who is looking for a light read with a familiar plot and characters a perfect book for any entry level comic reader.
*Review by: Casey Walsh


StorytellerWitches004-coverA-e12e8Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Witches #4 of 4 (Archaia)

Adapted and Illustrated By: Jeff Stokely
Colored By: John Rauch

This four part series comes to an end, imparting one last tale of caution and hope while reminding us that “All good things come to an end”. This Storyteller series was based off the unproduced teleplay written by Susan Kodicek and Anne Mountfield, revised by Anthony Minghella. This final chapter focuses on the dark woods where the witch Baba Yaga lives and the unfair life of Beautiful Vasilissa.

StorytellerWitches004-PRESS-7-65b22The coloring is a story all in itself (as is the case with most outstanding comics) in this final chapter. The darkness that is used in the coloring adds to the overall sense of danger and creepiness that is the woods of Baba Yaga. The soft tones used for Vasilissa and her father convey (to me at least) the good nature of those two while the featureless faces of the “bat” stepmother and her two daughters makes it easier to not like the demanding and unfair sisters. There was not a lot of color used in most the pages in terms of brightness and variety, and that is just another tool that helped set up this wintery environment and the sense of hopelessness when trapped by Baba Yaga herself. Without retelling the story, it was heartwarming as I’m sure it was intended… to see unfairness receive what it deserved.

If you pick up this issue not fully knowing the tale of Baba Yaga or not having read other like stories, the storytelling done through descriptive words in the narration are simple but meaningful in their use. This issue, and the three previous, captured my attention from their covers that almost beg you to read, to the final pages that leave each story with a little wink. Each tale was capable of inspiring a different moral value while having an interesting story that felt new and fresh even if you have heard a similar story. Though I am sad this is the end of story time. Fans (and newcomers) of this series will see the hardcover collection due out in May of 2015, and hopefully with some great bonus content too.
*Review by Cory Anderson


goners_03Goners #3 (Image)

Written by: Jacob Semahn
Art by: Jorge Corona

It’s really a remarkable achievement that Goners keeps such a frenetic pace as young Zoe and Josiah Latimer evade monsters while searching for answers as to why their family would be marked for extinction. Jacob Semahn briefly pauses the action to insert some flashbacks that don’t deter from the story but actually add depth and additional character development. It’s quite a feat considering the number of characters that populate the book on a monthly basis. Goners #3 is still the high octane paranormal adventure that we saw in Goners #1 but we’ve learned a lot more about the Latimers and especially their man-servant Francis.

Being in the paranormal hunting business is treacherous work. Zoe and Josiah have had to find out the hard way as they get separated from Francis. The kids come off as engaging and funny with genuine affection for each other as they navigate the world without their parents. It would easy and understandable to be angry, distant or abrasive in light of the terrible tragedy that has fallen them but they carry on and support one another. The series wouldn’t work as well if they were unlikable but instead they’re endearing and worth rooting for. In a way the same can be said about manservant Francis, the mustached guardian that takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin.’ He’s committed to keeping them safe and we learn just how loyal and why he risks life and limb to keep the Latimer bloodline alive and well.

Goners_3_COLORS_03The supernatural elements of the series are sometimes comedic and horrific at others. The thrills aren’t forced but naturally timed to the story. It’s the world that Spielberg, Burton and Dante built that is at the heart of Goners. A mix of the fantastic and the funny that keeps the pulse pounding while sucking the reader in. Jorge Corona, Steve Wands, and Gabriel Cassata make up an amazing artistic team that give the book such a rich and detailed environment. The heavy lines, the inking and colors all work in such great harmony to build this gorgeous modern gothic world. Even though the character designs have a cartoonish animated look the danger and action is not kid’s play.

Goners #3 delivers more thrills in one issue than most books do in an entire arc. Things have gone a little haywire this episode and more dangerous than ever ending in its biggest cliffhanger so far. Grab this book now.
*Review by Enrique Rea


661299_981c59ff03f773bd1ddd7875deba811484d2388aMiles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #8 (Marvel)

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: David Marquez
Colors by: Justin Ponsor

So at the end of issue #7 we were left with a bunch of insane twists. Peter and MJ were being a bit secretive and driving off, Miles’ girlfriend was raised in a “Hail Hyrdra” type of family, and Miles’ dad has returned. If you are wanting any answers to any of those twists, you won’t really get many except for a whole comic on Miles’ dad 25 years in the past. This comic takes place back when Jefferson Morales and his brother were gang bangers in the ghetto, making deals with sketchy gangsters. We get to see quite a bit of interesting tidbits here that clue us into why Miles’ dad has acted the way he did back in the Ultimate Spider-Man series. The cover of this comic is very misleading which sucks, because I would love to see Miles take on Hydra.

tumblr_nf18hlvkJT1rx5px6o1_1280Brian Michael Bendis is using this issue and maybe the next to take a break from all the Spider-men and fighting to give the readers some background story into Miles’ world. It felt like a breather issue, but the story is enough to keep the reader interested. He sets up the next major villain that Miles is possibly going to face, using Jefferson’s past to tie it all together in a neat little package. The art by David Marquez is pretty good here, but I won’t gush over it like I do with the other Spider-man books. Since it’s set in the hood 25 years ago, in night clubs and abandoned buildings, it’s got a really dark, grainy and gritty feeling to everything. The colors by Justin Ponsor add to this feeling. Some panels almost look old school with a dot matrix printer style of coloring with the little dots coloring some things. Overall this book was enjoyable, but I can’t wait to get more Miles’ as Spidey action! Guess I’ll go back to Spider-verse (where he is as well) to get that.
*Review by Everett Harn


detailAvengers Now! #1 (Marvel)

Head Writer: Jeff Christiansen
Cover by: Sara Pichelli

So if you want to know everything there is about today’s Marvel universe, this is the book for you. This may look like a storied comic, but this is the official handbook/guide to the Marvel Universe as it is today. It’s got 64 pages packed with knowledge in paragraph form about every superhero, villain, location, event, universe and more. This book is set up like they sometimes do at the start or end of a new comic to give the reader a few paragraphs on who a new character is, what their powers are etc, but is far less limited in scope. The cover of this handbook is by Sara Pichelli and it’s a really fun cover. I really envy her for getting the chance to draw this thing, because it’s got a lot of the newer up-and-coming characters that Marvel is really going to push to the forefront, but all in one long line up. It’s really a great work of art and I’d love to get a poster print of it. I recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t been following Marvel or that is just getting into reading the Marvel Now! stuff, because it’s packed full of knowledge just waiting for you.
*Review by Everett Harn


DjangoZorro02CovALeeDjango/Zorro #2 (Dynamite)

Written by: Quentin Tarantino & Matt Wagner
Art by: Esteve Polls
Colors by: Brennan Wagner

When I first heard about this series, I was pretty damn excited. I have always been a Zorro fan and Django Unchained was a freaking awesome film. So putting Zorro in the same universe as Django and putting Quentin Tarantino in charge of the story was about as good as it gets for a fan of western fantasy. Just like how last issue introduced the readers to Django and Don Diego, this issue introduces us to the Archduke of Arizona, this series’ main antagonist. The story is told from the Archduke’s son’s perspective, which is for the most part pretty interesting. I was intrigued with the scheme this villain concocted to get where he is today, and I can’t wait for the story to build upon it.

DjangoZorro02-4-13617Any fan of Quentin Tarantino will enjoy this book. I’m not his biggest fan, but I loved Django Unchained enough to appreciate what he and Matt Wagner are trying to achieve with this series. At the back of this comic there is even a playlist of music tracks you can find and play while reading that going along with story, giving it a very uniquely Taratino feel. The art in this book was pretty good. Esteve Polls and Brennan Wagner capture the wild west feeling the same way a post-apocalyptic comic might by making the skies dark orange, red and darker shades of yellow. It gives it a kind of dry, hot scene that the wild west was known for. I really wish this comic was going to be adapted to film starring Jamie Foxx and Antonio Bandares, but since it’s not, this comic will do it’s job at giving me as close as I’ll ever get. I highly recommend this comic even though it’s only 2 issues long. I have a feeling we’re in for a fun ride.
*Review by Everett Harn


Wytches-3-coverWytches #3 (Image)

Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: Jock

Wytches has been a suspenseful journey into fears many people share. It’s been more of a psychological thriller than an outright gore-fest and that’s just fine as we get to know these characters intimately and share their anxiety and terror. As a parent there’s no greater fear than have a child missing especially one who has gone through such traumatic experiences as Sailor has. Everything that surrounds her disappearance just adds to the suspense. Scott Snyder is tightening the screws on his readers psyche and Jock and Matt Hollingsworth are expediting your journey through a psychedelic spiral of colors and doom. We wouldn’t expect anything less from this talented group of creators.

Wytches03-Review-7-bd23eAfter stealing a school bus and crashing in the woods, Sailor has gone missing and her mom and dad search furiously to find her. Charlie is especially fraught with anxiety after recovering from his attack earlier but is willing to go to any length to find his daughter. Snyder cleverly begins the issue with a flashback of happier times and demonstrates what kind of relationship he shares with his family. It makes his terror feel so much worse as we get to know Charlie as a person and as a father. Even as things begin to unravel as to what’s real or imagined there’s always an uneasy undertone throughout the book that raises the tension. It’s a slow burn but one necessary to set up the next reveal, the next confrontation and perhaps a climatic end to the first arc.

Jock has never done better work than in Wytches. It seems his line work and detail has grown exponentially. This is not an easy gig considering the interior work requires a lot of background especially in the forest where the danger lies the most. It has to be expansive in some shots and smaller in others where branches, grass and bushes permeate the panel. It’s a lot of work but Jock does it with seemingly little effort and the final product is first class.

Wytches03-Review-9-061faMatt Hollingsworth is a colorist probably living out some fantasies in Wytches because color is used in ways you wouldn’t expect. Increasingly, Hollingsworth is using more and more splatters of varied matted hues throughout the series but Wytches #3 has let him run loose with the reckless abandon of a madman running with a paint brush. At first the splashes of color ingrained on the page were subtle giving it an aged filtered look but now the background has become a virtual LSD trip. That’s not to say it doesn’t work. It mostly succeeds in giving the book a unique look, an otherworldly aesthetic that compliments the themes in the book. It can be transformative but sometimes the action or detail of a panel gets lost amid the flurry of a rainbow.

There comes a time in every comic book arc that the story has to put up or shut up and issue four will be that time. But issue 3 is a good time for some set-up, emotional housekeeping and character development. There may not be a lot to sink your teeth into but the ending certainly sets up issue four very well. Wytches is a sophisticated suspense thriller that finds horror in simplicity while preparing to blow your mind.
*Review by Enrique Rea


crim-788d3Criminal Macabre: The Third Child #4 (Dark Horse)

Written by: Steve Niles
Art by: Christopher Mitten
Colors by: Michelle Madsen

The epic conclusion of Criminal Macabre: The Third Child #4 doesn’t hold a lot of surprises but remains thoroughly enjoyable. As Cal faces down Hemlock and the demon babies to save LA and possibly his own soul.

CMCALTC-4-PG-04-95ec7Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten have neatly put to bed one of the most entertaining horror stories in comics. The mini-series offered a great examination of one of Niles’ best creations in Cal McDonald. Certainly there’s been plenty of comparison to John Constantine and Hellboy but Cal shows a little more humility at times and his confidence serves his battle versus demons well. You can’t help but root for him. Those comparisons really compliment a character that is likable and powerful but accessible.

There’s not a lot that can be said without spoiling the issue completely but Mitten’s distinctive look really ignites the ending with some epic monster designs and few could pull off the scenes with Hemlock trying to prove to the demon babies that he was the Third Child like he did. It’s a glorious gory and bloody mess.

Criminal Macabre: The Third Child proved to be another great chapter for Cal with surprising depth and inspired horror. There’s sure to be more in the future but for now enjoy this mini as it comes to a satisfying ending.
*Review by Enrique Rea

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