SIBAM #101… PART TWO!
HERO SQUARED #1
Written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis and Drawn by Joe Abraham
Published by Boom Studios
This is the first issue of a miniseries follow-up to last year’s one-shot of the same name. Keith and J.M. bring the same wonderful lunatic zeal to this book that they brought to their JUSTICE LEAGUE collaborations, telling the story of a superhero displaced to an alternate world where his counterpart is an annoying slacker. Unfortunately for him, his nemesis from his home universe has followed, and in the new world his counterpart is dating her counterpart. It may sound silly and confusing, and it is. It’s also damned funny. I never read the one-shot. Now I have to go find it.
100 GIRLS #5
Written by Adam Gallardo and Drawn by Todd Demong
Published by Arcana Studio
Picking up from the trade paperback, we jump right back into the story of young Sylvia and her search for her super-powered clone sisters. The issue is solid enough, and there’s some plot movement in the reactions of her pursuers, but the book sticks pretty tight to its formula of finding a new sister and absorbing her. While the segment works fine, the book is going to have to be careful to not become too repetitive in its efforts. The cliffhanger ending points towards the thought that the creative team realizes this as well.
BOOKS FROM VIPER COMICS
RANDOM ENCOUNTER #4
Written and Drawn by Nicc Balce
I didn’t like the first issue of this mini, but I thought it picked up nicely the rest of the way, delivering a solid action story and climax here in the finale. Balce’s art was the real star for me, his ameri-manga style easy on the eyes and simple in its storytelling. There were some genuinely intriguing experiments attempted by the author here, as he joined the select few artists attempting to complete a real melding of sequential art and the video game world. Not completely successful in that effort, mind you, but close enough to suggest he’ll do even better next time.
ODDLY NORMAL #4
Written and Drawn by Otis Frampton
On the flip side, I fell for this mini right out of the gate, but I’m a little disappointed in the ending. We get a lot of exposition and no true resolution to Oddly’s main problem (the disappearance of her parents). Instead, we get the pieces put in place for further Oddly adventures, and an ending that offers resolution rather than resolve. Couched within the exposition and furtherance of the plot is a good message about believing in oneself, and in the end, I believed that ODDLY was more than worth my time and I was ready to read more of her journey right away. Good enough.
BOOKS FROM IMAGE COMICS
STRANGE GIRL #2
Written by Rick Remender and Drawn by Eric Nguyen
I was hesitant when I picked up this book to read it. I had really enjoyed issue one, as I had enjoyed the first issue of Remender’s RED SEA. However, that book fell apart early in issue two, so I could only cross my fingers and hope for better results here. Happily, issue two of this book was a dandy, even more exhilarating than the first. Young Bethany, left behind after the biblical rapture, must navigate the new world of demons and insanity very carefully, and it doesn’t help when she pisses off her boss, her prime protector against the rest of Hell’s hordes. Nguyen’s art is simply gorgeous and would be worth the price of the book even if the story sucked. It doesn’t.
THE ATHIEST #2
Written by Phil Hester and Drawn by John McCrea
With two issues now out, this has immediately become a top ten book for me. Hester’s protagonist, the ultimate debunker, travels to visit a man slowly turning into living cancer, as he tries to unravel why a number of people are heading for Winnipeg and claiming to be the spirits of the dead returned to posses the living. Full of sharp ideas and characters you can’t help but want to read about, THE ATHIEST may just well be the frontrunner for next year’s “Best New Series” Eisner.
BATTLE POPE #1
Written by Robert Kirkman and Drawn by Tony Moore
Kirkman’s first comics work returns, now in color, in an attempt to find it the larger audience it lacked the first time around. POPE is, by turns, foul, disgusting, blasphemous, sexist, and grotesque. I recommend it highly. If you can’t laugh at Jesus wearing a t-shirt that says “What Would I Do?” then you’re probably already stocking up on holy water to throw on Kirkman next time you go to San Diego. Here’s a hint: he won’t melt. Tony Moore’s art is pretty rough here, but you can see in spots that he’s going to develop into the amazing artist who co-created THE WALKING DEAD and made it look so pretty.
Written and Drawn by the Luna Brothers
This has blossomed into a full-blown sophomore slump of mammoth proportions. We’re threw issues in, and not only is there not a single believable character, there’s still absolutely no clue as to what the fuck the plot is. Besides naked women hatching from eggs, that is. Yes, it looks pretty, but if you’ve asked someone to spend nine bucks at this point, they should have inkling as to what the story is. ULTRA laid it out in issue one: Pearl saw the psychic and was told she’d find love within the week. One more issue like this, and GIRLS is officially a disaster.
ZOMBIE KING #0
Written and Drawn by Frank Cho
See the zombie. See the cow. See the zombie fuck the cow slowly and gently. Moo, Bessie, moo. See Frank Cho having a good laugh at how much he can get away with. Laugh, Frank, laugh. Actually, ignoring the cow-fucking, this is a decent enough start to Cho’s next big project. He’s always had an appreciation and desire to draw monsters; you can see that in LIBERTY MEADOWS when he meanders in the Sunday-sized strips. So this is quite lovely to look at. The only downside is that it lacks balance, as we suddenly shift to an exposition-laden scene at the end of the issue that nearly drags the rest down like an anchor. Will be keeping an eye out for issue one, no doubt.
STUPID COMICS #3
Written and Drawn by Jim Mahfood
Loves me some Mahfood. As a Tempe resident, I’ve been privileged to follow his work for a long time, and this issue of STUPID COMICS is even a bit more fun, because most of the material originally appeared here in Arizona in the PHOENIX NEW TIMES. Still, many of Mahfood’s themes are universal, whether it’s his pokes at the stupidity of government or his tirades against manufactured pop culture. He isn’t for everybody, but he’s pretty much always for me.
FERRO CITY #1
Written and Drawn by Jason Armstrong
“THE MALTESE FALCON with robots” best describes this tasty little slice of cyber noir. Armstrong gives us a protagonist we’d have no problem seeing Bogey playing (though Brian Dennehy is the more modern choice) and a murder mystery wrapped around the civil rights movement of Circuited-Americans. Densely plotted and told, this is a nice antidote to the number of new books that seem to ship and decide they don’t need to tell you anything right away and you’ll still come back. Armstrong gets a nice pat on the back and thanks from me on that one.
Written and Drawn by Scott Kurtz
I happen to really enjoy PVP, and it’s hard to quibble with the $0.50 price tag, but this brief collection of highlight strips to introduce the characters and background of the book feels a little haphazard and not as tight as it should. The strips Kurtz chose are good, but they leave a certain lingering sensation that something is missing, and I can’t help but feel like a pointer to where the original strips could be found would be a solid idea. Since they’d been plucked from storylines, the new reader could have known right then where to go and read the full story. The brand new strip featuring the origin of Skull is dandy, though.
GUN CANDY #1/THE RIDE: MARDI GRAS #1
Written by Doug Wagner and Chuck Dixon and Drawn by Brian Stelfreeze and Sanford Greene and Jason Pearson
GUN CANDY is a prequel to the adventures of Laci, the teenaged assassin made infamous by Stelfreeze’s art the in THE RIDE trade paperback (see part one of the column), and given room to play, Stelfreeze completely cuts loose in gonzo fashion. Absurdist layouts, over-the-top violence, gratuitous sexuality, you name it… Stelfreeze has found a way to put it in here and make it look glorious. The pure neo-porn cover for his side of the flipbook adds to that dimension as well (trust me- go find it and look at it). I almost felt sorry for Dixon having to share with this stuff; his story is really very good, his artists do an amazing job of bringing a very dark and cynical story to life, and it damned near gets swallowed whole by its companion. On the other hand, maybe the pervs picking up the Stelfreeze cover will discover the excellent stuff awaiting them on the other side when they would have ignored something of this quality before. Looking forward to issue two.
SEASON OF THE WITCH #0
Written by Jai Nitz and Drawn by Kevin Sharpe
It’s gorgeous to look at. Has solid action. A good heroine. But once again, I say: tell the reader something in your story. Apparently, if you read the notes in the sketch section, etc, the heroine of this book slides back and forth between our world and this fantasy one, but nothing in the sequential pages would explain that, not even her mentioning of Missouri. It’s all well and good for Nitz to note that he’s putting some time between the solicits of issues zero and one so he can use this one to get orders and interest up, but he’d have been better off actually explaining what the story is going to be about. And if it’s supposed to be a book that appeals to teenaged girls, maybe it would be a little less icky for them if an orc didn’t call the heroine a whore, huh?