Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Ross Richie, head honcho of Boom Studios, seems to have things backwards when it comes to running a comics publisher. Instead of flooding the market with ill thought-out concepts centered on a “universe,” he’s insisted upon slow expansion, individual ideas, and solid scheduling. Doesn’t he know that’s not the road to bankruptcy? What’s he trying to do? Stay in business and make a profit?

Written by Keith Giffen and Alan Grant and Drawn by Rael Lyra

Giffen and Grant’s testosterone-fueled sci-fi book really kicks into gear with issue three. The action and violence quotient fairly well explode off the page, as Harm faces off with the psychotic alien murderer, Ayoma. She’s ruthless, ugly, and likes to eat the flesh of her victims. In the meantime, the human doctors introduced in issue two must attempt to follow the carnage, figure out what the Hell is happening, and possibly save the world from being destroyed by Ayoma’s partners in genocide. There’s nothing too cerebral going on in these pages; this is pure lunatic fun. Lyra’s art continues to impress, though the color scheme still doesn’t flatter his work the way you’d like. Solid.

Written by Michael Alan Nelson and Drawn by Chee

The second Martian invasion continues, but the real battleground moves from the scorched Earth to the inner workings of Miles’ mind. Before the aliens returned, Miles had been medicated, believing that he was being abducted and experimented on by monsters. But not, the truth is revealed: his experiences were real. He’s validated. Now, his task is to find psychological stability and forgive himself. However, standing in his way are some horrific creatures, terrifying machines, and surviving humans who are even poorer adjusted than him. Nelson mixes pathos, action, and suspense just right, creating one of the more atmospheric efforts on the stands. This feels like a series that will sell like hotcakes once a trade gets into bookstores.

Written and Drawn by Various

CTHULHU TALES represents a first for me when it comes to Boom’s products. Even though some of the publisher’s previous efforts didn’t light my world on fire, I still found something interesting and intriguing about them. Unfortunately, this book is the first complete swing and miss for me. The publisher has stepped away from zombie anthologies, not wanting to press their luck; smart move. However, this paean to Lovecraft’s work never connects for me. The idea of setting stories around H.P.’s ideas works on the surface, but the material in here is so broad that it just doesn’t grab. Another issue is that there’s no real explanation of what Lovecraft’s work is actually about; everyone knows zombies, but not everyone knows the Cthulhu background. There’s some lovely art in these pages, and the effort is there, but… there was just too much missing here.

Written by Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis and Drawn by Joe Abraham

Besides zombies, Boom came to notice by publishing the original HERO SQUARED mini-series. Seeing the authors return to their classic “Bwa Ha Ha” style of superhero stories was a treat for longtime comics fans, and many like myself were ecstatic when it was announced that the series would return to the schedule as an ongoing book. Milo, Captain Valor, and Stephie are here in all their amusing glory, as the book picks up directly from where the mini ended. Milo slept with Stephie’s evil alternate universe self, Caliginous and is keeping it secret. Captain Valor is pining for Milo’s Stephie. And Caliginous has plans of her own for Stephie, not the least of which might be breaking her heart by spilling about Milo. Few books offer you more for your money than a book by Giffen and DeMatteis; tons of dialogue, lots of laughs, a little action thrown in… superhero soap opera done on a focused scale. Delightful.

TAG #1
Written by Keith Giffen and Drawn by Kody Chamberlain

It just isn’t Mitch’s night. A dinner with his girlfriend has gone south, and their relationship looks to be over. But things can always get worse, never more so than when a ghastly looking man stumbles out of an alley, touches Mitch, and screams “Tag, you’re it!” Why? Because that action happens to kill Mitch. So you can imagine his surprise, along with the surprise of his girlfriend and the authorities, when he wakes up still walking and talking. That’s the premise of this clever burst of modern horror from Giffen. Telling you more about it would be criminal, as there are plenty of other nifty shocks in store for the reader. Chamberlain’s dark and sensual art provides the perfect backdrop for the story, and Giffen is really at his best here. Mitch and his girlfriend feel like real people, and you can’t help but get completely sucked into their story. Best comic I read this week, hands down.