Title: Going Down
Writer: Chris Roberson
Art: Michael Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Todd Klein
Cover: Michael Allred
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
Horacio, the monster-hunter, is descending into the Earth to find Gwen’s missing friend Scott. Horacio isn’t aware, of course, that Gwen herself is a vampire, or that Scott is a were-terrier, and often goes by the appellation “Spot.” As the two of them do battle with a mob of zombies of the non-intelligent variety, up on the surface Ellie clues Amon in on the tunnels beneath the graveyard, and Scott’s grandfather (a ghost living in the body of a chimpanzee, duh) decides to set out and save the lad himself. I can’t think of a comic book more indicative of what Vertigo is today than I, Zombie. Chris Roberson and Mike Allred seem to have taken every weird, crazy, bizarre idea they’ve ever had about the classic Universal Pictures-style monsters, thrown them into a blender, and come up with a book that’s fresh, exciting, and frequently hilarious. Gwen’s efforts to hide her zombism from Horacio don’t really smack of similar stories that we’ve seen in other comics and TV shows. The dynamic is different, because Gwen has really stood out and become her own character instead of a clone of anybody else. Amping up the weirdness is the back-up story, The Dead Presidents, which continues this issue. Like the main story, this is a concept full of goofy, lovely weirdness that touches on lots of different monster tropes all at once. These guys love what they’re doing, and they’ve turned out a comic that is easy to love in turn.
Irredeemable #8 (Boom! Studios)
By Mark Waid, Peter Krause & Gene Ha
Last issue, Charybdis pulled out the reveal that he didn’t lose his powers with his brother’s death after all — if anything, he’s stronger… maybe even strong enough to take on the Plutonian solo. As he battles the fallen hero, we learn more about just why the Plutonian went bad, what final straw ended his life as a hero and turned him into something dark and terrifying. It’s a sad story, one almost as sad for him as it is for his victims. And as engaging as it is, in the end it’s still his fault, his choices that led to the downfall, which helps this story immensely. Peter Krause‘s art, as always, is great, and we get a nifty cover by Gene Ha (with a nice little subtle use of the background to illuminate Tony’s true nature. Fine issue, and a great series.
Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #2 (Marvel Comics)
By Jeff Parker & Mike Wieringo
While the first issue of this miniseries was a bit Spider-Man heavy, this issue does nice work to balance that out. As the H’Mojen begin their invasion, taking over the bodies of humans across the globe, Spidey and the Fantastic Four begin planning a way to fight back. The invasion is going a bit too well, though, with even friends and family falling under prey of the aliens’ new “Silver Age.” I must say, the title “The New Silver Age” is incredibly appropriate for this issue. The story is rather silly, dodgy from a scientific standpoint, and at times a bit implausible. In short, it’s everything that made the Silver Age of comics such a wonderful, imaginative ground for stories. Parker and Wieringo are clearly having a blast with this miniseries, and as this is a sort of fun that’s sorely missing from the Marvel Universe these days, I’m happy to go along with them. Why, oh why, can’t the regular titles have this kind of old-school excitement anymore?
Title: Weapons GET! (Let the Games Begin Part Two)
Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Patrick “Spaz” Spaziante
Inks: Rick Bryant
Colorist: Matt Herms
Letterer: John Workman
Cover: Patrick “Spaz” Spaziante
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Publisher: Archie Comics
The evil Dr. Wily has corrupted the robots invented by his former partner, Dr. Light, and turned them into weapons of destruction. To save the world, Light’s gentle assistant robot Rock has volunteered to be transformed into a new kind of warrior: Mega Man. In this issue, as he does battle with the likes of Bomb Man and Guts Man, Rock learns how to adopt the weapons of his fallen enemies, even as he questions the wisdom of going into battle against his own kind.
I’ve gotta tell you, when Archie Comics announced that they were going to be launching a Mega Man series, the last thing I expected was a deep examination of the mental state of the modern soldier. Rock’s reluctance to fight brainwashed robots, coupled with his own self-recriminations when he’s forced into a position where he has to destroy them, makes for one of the most cerebral comics I’ve ever read from this publisher.
That’s not to say that the comic doesn’t work as a simple action tale – it does, and it does so in a very entertaining fashion. People who grew up playing the video games will find just what they expected. It’s an additional later that seems pretty bold for the righter to add on, actually making a statement of sorts rather than just telling a wacky sci-fi tale. This book works in ways I wouldn’t have expected at all.
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Heavy Burdens
Even with some all-star help, can the new Thunderbolts save the U.N.?
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Heavy Thinking: Kurt Busiek
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Inks: Gary Erskine
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: Albert Deschesne
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Cover Art: Tom Grummett & Chris Sotomayor
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Last issue, a battle against The Game at the United Nations sent the building crumbling with the Thunderbolts, Mr. Fantastic and Namor inside. This time, heroes and villains alike work inside and out to save the lives of everybody trapped in the building.
The character dynamic in this issue is really, really good. It’s intriguing to see how quick Mr. Fantastic is to trust these new Thunderbolts, like he’s willing to give someone a second chance. On the outside, there’s a sharp contrast as Spider-Man has to forge an uneasy alliance with his former enemy, Mach-IV, who once plagued him as the Beetle. Mach-IV has to pull strings with his unlikely benefactor, Baron Strucker, to bring in the one man who can save the lives of everyone in the building. Finally, the book ends with a major, major twist (which is actually two twists in one – one of revelation and one of action) that turns the entire series on its ear only three issues in. Twists and turns were the hallmark of the old series, and it’s great to know that Nicieza and Busiek (who I have to assume is credited here for co-plotting) are keeping that tradition going.
Grummet, Erskine and Sotomayor continue to do a fantastic job with this book. They’ve got a lot to play with visually this issue, starting out with a four-page underwater sequence followed up with a major fire at the U.N. Songbird’s powers get a real workout this issue as well, which means they have a lot to play with as far as her powers are concerned.
Questions keep racking up with this book. What’s up with Atlas’s powers? How and why did Mach-IV hook up with Strucker? And what happened to Captain Marvel? I’d be lying if I said you got any answers this issue, but man, it’s fun getting to the questions.
Quick Rating: Excellent
Title: The Battle of Fabletown (March of the Wooden Soldiers Chapter Seven)
The wooden soldiers are armed. The Fables are ready. The war begins.
Writer: Bill Willingham
Pencils: Mark Buckingham
Inks: Steve Leialoha
Colors: Daniel Vozzo
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: James Jean
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
This is one of those comic books it is going to be very hard to review, because so much happens and virtually everything constitutes a spoiler. Still, I shall endeavor to do my best to convey to you exactly how sharp, how powerful, how brilliant an issue this is of one of the best comic books on the market today.
The Adversary, the mysterious being that drove the Fables out of their homelands, has sent an army of wooden soldiers constructed by Pinochio’s father, Gepetto, out to New York City to do war with them in the streets of Fabletown. The wooden soldiers are only supposed to be interested in procuring the magical items in the Fables’ possession and taking Pinochio back with them, but they march with a blood thirst that could bring down everything the Fables have work for.
This is basically a book-long battle scene, but it’s one that advances the plot and many characters in very significant ways. Prince Charming proves himself a capable warrior. Snow White is shown as a good leader and strategist, but not infallible (one major mistake she makes, ironically, is a tactic that fans on Bill Willingham’s message board have been debating all month). At least two major characters seem to fall in battle – although in a book like this any death is suspect – others are gravely wounded and still more find new or slightly altered roles to cast themselves in. This is one of those books that actually lives up to the hyperbole of saying that nothing will be the same after it is over.
Buckingham and Leialoha own this series. While there have been other artists and they’ve all done fine jobs, this art team gives the title more power, more zing than anybody else. Buckingham doesn’t get to play around with panel structure as much as he usually does, since the battle scene doesn’t really allow for that, but he still packs every panel with magic, valor and energy.
And if all that isn’t enough, the book also includes a preview of the upcoming The Witching by Jonathan Vankin, Leigh Gallagher and Ron Randall. It’s hard to get a feel for the story in the few pages presented here, but the artwork is beautiful.
In summation, if you haven’t been reading this book, start. Now. Go get the first three trade paperbacks and order the TPB of this story arc, it’s solicited in this month’s Previews. Go ahead. I’ll wait. It’s worth it.
Title: Hole in Wonderful; Soccer Blocker; Tee For Two
Writers: Bill Manthey, Sam Agro
Pencils: Walter Carzon, David Alvarez, Pablo Zamboni
Inks: Horacio Ottolini, Mike DeCarlo
Colorist: Heroic Age, David Tanguay
Letterer: Dezi Sienty, Ryan Cline, Mike Sellers
Cover: Scott Gross
Editors: Chynna Clugston-Flores, Joan Hilty, Rachel Gluckstern
Publisher: DC Comics/Johnny DC
As much as I love the classic Looney Tunes characters, I don’t often buy the comic book. Their particular brand of insanity is really difficult to capture in comic book form, so I only get it when I have a specific reason to. Issue #200 of the current series, I thought, would be a good reason. Unfortunately, while the comics I got was perfectly acceptable as an issue of Looney Tunes, it wasn’t really anything special enough to mark such an anniversary.
Instead, we got what appears to be an all-sports issue, beginning with “Hole in Wonderful.” Here, we see Bugs Bunny wrapped up in a golf match with his Scottish nemesis, McTavish. Although the Scots invented golf, they didn’t have to deal with Bugs. His idea of miniature golf includes the use of pool bumpers, baseball pitching machines, and drag racers, leaving poor McTavish worn to the nub.
In “Soccer Blocker,” a group of Bugs’ more monstrous foes – including Witch Hazel and Gossamer – lure him into a trap with the promise of an international soccer festival. From here, things are predictable enough – Bugs winds up playing his part to the hilt, pitting the villains against one another while he waltzes to victory. This is probably the strongest story in the book, and the one that most completely captures the feeling of the cartoons. It’s always fun to see Bugs outwitting his foes, especially when he gets to use goofy disguises and maximum frustration.
The book returns to golf in the final story, “Tee For Two.” This time out, it’s Foghorn Leghorn who gets the spotlight. Foghorn has constructed his own backyard golf course, but when he tees off, he finds himself caught in one trap after another (and these traps are more of the “booby” variety, not the expected water traps.) This one isn’t bad – it plays with the old Foghorn Leghorn formula, but not in a way that’s disrespectful or untrue to the character.
If I was picking up this comic because I wanted sports-themed cartoons, I’d be very happy. I just wish they’d done a little more to mark 200 issues. Heck, come September, this will be DC’s second longest-running comic, after Hellblazer. You’d think that would be worth something.