The Last Resort #1 (IDW Publishing)
By Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Giancarlo Caracuzzo, Amanda Conner
One could easily make the argument that we’re inundated with zombie comics these days, but as long as we’re getting a good one, I really don’t mind. The first issue of The Last Resort is a pretty good one. It reads very much like the first act of a movie. There’s an opening scene where someone clearly infected with a zombie virus washes up on the shores of a tropical resort, then we switch to New York City, where a fairly large cast of characters — most of whom have no relation to one another — are preparing to board a plane to that same resort. The issue is mostly about establishing these various people and getting them there in time for the big cliffhanger ending. As such, the zombie action is fairly limited in this first issue, but there’s a lot of good comedy and character development, as well as a pretty big shocker at the end. Giancarlo Caracuzzo handles the art here, and it’s pretty good. His line work is fine, although the color palette is a little more muted than the tone would seem to indicate is proper. Still, if you like zombie comics, this is one worth checking out. If you feel burned out on them, take look anyway, because this is different enough to be worth your time.
Quick Rating: Very Good
Like so many comic fans before them, will the lure of a great trade paperback selection be the downfall of Cole Richards and Brent Sienna?
Writer: Scott Kurtz
Art: Scott Kurtz
Cover Art: Scott Kurtz
Publisher: Image Comics
Last year Scott Kurtz took part in the nationwide 24-Hour Comic Day, an effort by hundreds of cartoonists to take up Scott McCloud’s legendary challenge to write and draw a complete 24-page comic book in 24 hours. Kurtz modified the challenge a bit – instead doing 24 comic strips in that time – and the result is one of the funniest PVP storylines yet. When Cole learns of a comic book store with the greatest selection of trade paperbacks in the state, he convinces Brent to join him on the road trip. After a series of misadventures, our heroes wind up trapped in the store and forced to face the scourge of… Nerd Thieves.
This is a pretty simple story for PVP, only using two members of our extensive cast, but loaded with comic book in-jokes that should leave everyone who’s ever dealt with an overbearing comic shop owner in stitches. This is some of Kurtz’s parody at its best, with hysterically funny dialogue and flawless comedic timing (which is something far too many comic strip creators, sadly, just don’t have). I mean, really, it’s worth the price of admission just to see Brent declare himself Iron Thor.
In our back-up story, Cole freaks out when he suspects his arch-nemesis, Max Powers, may turn in PVP magazine for using illegally pirated software. His fears only increase when he discovers exactly how much software uber-geek Francis Ray Ottoman has loaded their computer system with. As he races to get things legal, Max begins sneaking around.
This story, aside from being a great piece on Francis, also shows just how effective Max is as a passive-aggressive supervillain. Without lifting a finger, just the fear of him sends our heroes into a panic, destroying themselves far more effectively than he ever could. It’s funny, funny stuff.
I gotta tell ya, I love this comic. I read it every weekday and I even enjoy the sketches Kurtz puts up over the weekends. Every time I pick up my comic books and find a new PVP waiting for me, even if I’ve read the stories online, I know I’ll be in for a smile.
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Men Are From Mars, Women Are Intravenous
Father Leto makes his decision on the family business.
Writers: Howard Chaykin & David Tischman
Colors: Brian Miller
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Frank Quietly
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
Chaykin and Tischman’s vampire mob story continues, and it keeps getting better. As Father Leto remains torn between his vows to the church and the calling to take over his family’s mob operations, his sister Risa continues to pull the strings behind the scenes. Meanwhile Leto’s old girlfriend Carrie, who was Risa’s best friend in high school until she screwed them both over, returns to town.
A new discovery this issue also tempts Leto with the possibility of turning the entire business legit. There’s a touch of science fiction in here, with the idea of using a vampire’s blood both as a narcotic and as a solution for a very real medical problem in our own world, so the writers add layers of yet another genre to a book that was already defying classification. Part horror, part crime drama, and now part speculative fiction, the important thing is that the book is all smart and fun to read. Leto’s struggles are understandable, wavering between the church, his family and his own desires.
David Hahn was unknown to me as an artist before this series, but he is a perfect match for it. His characters are almost cartoonish enough to fit in with the Batman Adventures art style, but small touches make them a little more realistic and a lot grittier. Risa oozes sensuality and Leto comes across visually as a very young man carrying a very large burden. Brian Miller’s colors also work very well on this book, using uniform color palettes for each scene, but somehow working a lot better than when he uses a similar trick in the DC Focus line.
Vertigo, at its best, has always been a line that has succeeded by putting familiar elements together in unfamiliar ways, and Bite Club is another fine example of that. With the miniseries half-over, I sincerely hope they come back to these characters in the future.
Donald Duck and Friends #349 (Boom! Kids)
Fausto Vitaliano, Marco Bosco, Vitale Mangiatordi, Marco Mazzarello, Saida Temofonte, Stefania Bronzoni & Magic Eye Studios
Secret Agent Double Duck’s next assignment sends him undercover as a waiter for a fancy party. The host is the secret head of a criminal empire, and Donald is just the man to hunt him down. What he didn’t know, however, is that Gladstone, Daisy, and Uncle Scrooge will all be in attendance, and Donald Duck’s pride may just screw up Double Duck’s mission. This is a nice little story here. Seeing Donald’s natural personality come into conflict with his new duties as a super-spy makes for some nice comedic moments, and the second story (a continuation of the first) injects more laughs into the book. Donald breaks the fourth wall here a few times, talking directly to the audience, but that’s never really a problem. It happens when it’s funny, and it doesn’t disrupt the flow. Good issue.
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Head Games
Cable dead? Deadpool beheaded? Wolverine versus the Penetrator!
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Ron Lim
Inks: Jeremy Freeman & John Dell
Colors: Gotham & Sotocolor
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Nicole Boose
Cover Art: Skottie Young
Publisher: Marvel Comics
You know, considering that Cable was apparently killed over in X-Men and Wolverine chopped off Deadpool’s head last issue, you would think it would be difficult to find something to write about this month. And for a lesser writer than Fabian Nicieza it probably would be, but I gotta tell ya, he’s got this all sewn up.
With Deadpol out of commission, Wolverine turns his attention to Penetrator, even as the hordes of Hydra begin to swarm upon them. Not only is this book action-packed, but it’s also one of the flat-out funniest issues of this comic to come down the pike in a long time. Nicieza makes liberal use of the joke potential in a character called “The Penetrator” (at least as much as he can without turning this into a MAX book), and a totally out-of-the blue Hugh Jackman joke left me laughing out loud. Nicieza sets up things nicely to begin the next story, and I put the book down feeling genuinely satisfied with what I’d read.
Having Ron Lim on the art doesn’t hurt of course. He’s one of those artists I always love seeing but who doesn’t get nearly as much work as he deserves. He blends the major fight scenes with some great physical comedy sequences here, and he blends them flawlessly.
Yeah, you’d think that having both of our leads seemingly dead would be a detriment to this issue, but it’s a fantastic read anyway.
Writers: Doug Murray & Frank Cho
Art: Axel Medellin
Colorist: Nikos Koutsis
Letterer: Thomas Mauer
Cover Artist: Frank Cho
Editor: Joe Keatinge
Publisher: Image Comics
The first 50 Girls 50 miniseries comes to a really strong conclusion this month, as the crew of the Savannah gets caught in some sort of cosmic storm while going through a wormhole. The crew soon discovers that they’ve become bonded with a bizarre alien life form, and to save themselves, they may have to give up that what they want more than anything. As far as I know, Image hasn’t announced a second miniseries yet, so this is a pretty bold ending. It’s something that could be accepted as a final ending, but it wouldn’t be terribly satisfying in that context. Looking at it as where this season of the story is taking a break, though, it works just fine. Murray, Cho,and Medellin have, in three issues, created a very vibrant, intriguing, and unique science fiction world. There are places and – more importantly – characters in this book that I’d like very much to explore in the future, and even though this mostly-action issue doesn’t give us too much of a chance to do that, it doesn’t disappoint. Time to sit back, cross your fingers, and hope for volume two.