Super Human Resources #1 (Ape Entertainment)
By Ken Marcus & Justin Bleep
You thought your last temp job sucked? Try getting summoned to work at Super Crises International, the corporate headquarters of the Mighty Super Crises Squad. This first issue of a clever workplace comedy shows us an office full of superheroes, “reformed” supervillains, ninjas, posions, robots, and plenty of other things that would make you grateful to be crunching numbers in your own cubicle. The problem with this first issue is that there isn’t really much story here. It’s a wonderful introduction to a very funny environment, but as of yet, there isn’t much of a plot. It isn’t until the very last page that we se something that implies anything is going on behind-the-scenes, something that shows us things are actually happening. It’s a funny issue, and I look forward to the rest of the series, but there should have been a bigger focus on the story here.
Quick Rating: Very Good
It’s the Cold War – USA versus the Martian menace!
Writers: Matt Anderson & Eric Hutchins
Art: Micah Farritor
Letters: David Hedgecock
Editor: Kevin Freeman
Cover Art: Micah Farritor
Publisher: APE Entertainment
One of the best things about working for a site like
Comixtreme CX Pulp is that sometimes, when you’re not looking, someone slips you a preview of a great comic book that no one has heard of yet, and you get to be the one to tell people about it. White Picket Fences is just that book.
This bizarre little comic is a nice mixture of alternate history and retro-science fiction. Little Charlie Hobson is a typical kid in the town of Greenview. He goes to school, plays Army with his friends, and dreams of taking the fight to the horrific “Red Menace” – the aliens from Mars that pose an imminent threat to the American way of life. Anderson and Hutchins have done a wonderful job of taking what, on the surface, reads like an old-fashioned Cold War tale and turning the Soviet menace into one from the stars. The resulting tale reads like a comic book straight from the 1950s, but with an undeniably modern sensibility. This is the kind of story that Mystery Science Theater 3000 would mercilessly skewer, except the story is far too good for Mike and the bots to lampoon.
Building on a really inventive script by Anderson and Hutchins is some wonderful artwork by Micah Farritor. Farritor uses a light, textured style that gives the entire book a feeling of being done in pencil colors, which somehow is absolutely perfect for the story of an idyllic American town living under the threat of Martian extinction. This art is evocative of an animated style, but the gentle strokes of the coloring make it totally unique.
There were a few comics in APE Entertainment’s Free Comic Book Day special I hadn’t sampled before. White Picket Fences was definitely the most intriguing. Having read the first issue, I can happily confirm it’s just as clever and engaging as I had hoped.
Bizarre New World #2 (APE Entertainment)
By Skipper Martin, Christopher Provencher, Wes Dzioba & Tone Rodriguez
Skipper Martin continues his unique tale of an ordinary guy who gains the ability to fly. Having accepted his new power, Paul Krutcher decides to try to figure out where it could have come from. The resulting sequence, in which he confers with a series of engineers about how a human could defy gravity, is really quite entertaining — it’s the sort of conversation your average comic geek has, assuming your average geek has above-average knowledge about physics, biology and chemistry. Paul makes a decision that seems to make him happy — but may cause unwanted scrutiny. Tone Rodriquez also contributes a back-up story about a Mexican child who finds himself with the same gift as Paul and tries to use it to change his own life. It’s a nice little tale, but more interesting for the implication that what’s happening to our main character isn’t an isolated phenomenon… or is it? It’s a nice enough back-up, but the main story is still of more interest.
Title: The Pursuit of Pesos and other stories
Writers: Buddy Scalera, Tom DeFalco, Matt Anderson, Patrick Rills
Art: Marcelo Ferreira, Armando Zanker, Amy Mebberson, James Silvani
Colorist: Dustin Evans, Jake Myler, Amy Mebberson
Letterer: David Hedgecock
Cover: Jack Lawrence
Editor: Matt Anderson
Publisher: Ape Entertainment/KiZoic
Rich Rescue’s latest gig sends them to the depths of the jungle, hired by a museum to find a legendary diamond. The gem turns out to be magic, the team gets hurled back in time, and soon Richie and company find themselves being chased by dinosaurs. The fun starts here, folks! It’s not a bad little story, but it’s a bit unfocused. There isn’t even anything there to tell us where it takes place – they unearth a pretty generic old temple and go back to face a bunch of generic old cavemen. The adventure sequences work well. It seems like Buddy Scalera and Marcelo Ferreira are doing their best to conjure up some classic adventure tales, the likes of which we got from Carl Barks back in the day, and that’s all to the good. They just need a little work.
The back-up features are of varying quality. The first one, where Reggie “wins” the use of Irona for 24 hours, is really very funny, and a nice way to give Richie’s arrogant cousin a little comeuppance. On the other hand, Cadbury steps up next for a terribly trite story where a bunch of terrorists invade a concert screaming gibberish about the band’s “pro-environment” agenda. The villains of the piece are soulless cutouts, almost lacking even in a second dimension, let alone a third, and while you don’t expect a story of this nature to be Shakespeare, there could be at least a little thought put into giving them a motivation that has at least some form of internal logic. The funniest part is when Cadbury throws out the line “I will take formal over cliché any day.” Congratulations, Cadbury, you’re both.
I like this title, and I’m glad that Richie Rich and company are back. But there’s definitely room for improvement.
Teddy Scares #1 (Ape Entertainment)
By Jim Hankins, Ben Roman, Christine Larsen, Rolando Mallada & Drew Rausch
The creepiest toy line since Madballs graduates into its own comic book series. The Teddy Scares are children’s toys that were lost, abused and abandoned, winding up residing in the same junkyard. The four short stories in this volume manage to give each of the five bears a pretty good spotlight, from the dimwitted cyclopean Abnormal Cyrus to the poet and narrator Edwin. Most of the stories are pretty funny, too — the sort of macabre humor that works so well in books like Haunted Mansion and Wolff and Byrd… but there’s a bit of drama here as well. Redmond Gore’s story is both tragic and chilling, showing this property to have a bit more depth than the premise would indicate. This isn’t a kids’ comic, and it’s not for someone who can’t take a joke about their childhood treasures, but if you like to see wholesome things shown through a rather horiffic prism, this is a book you’ll quite enjoy.
Ape Entertainment’s Comic Spectacular! (Ape Entertainment)
By Steve Bryant, Matt Anderson, Eric Hutchins, Micah Farritor, Troy Dye, Tom Kellesides, Collin Fogel, Jim Hankins, Matt Wendt, Brent E. Erwin, Chad Lambert, David Hedgecock, Skipper Martin & Tone Rodriguez
Out of the various small publishers vying for your comic dollars these days, Ape Entertainment has put forth some of the best, most diverse books I’ve read in a while, and this FCBD grab-bag is a nice sampler of self-contained stories featuring a variety of their characters and aimed at a variety of audiences. The Athena Voltaire story, for instance, is a typical Athena-style adventure story, the sort of thing for people who want an “Indiana Jones” type of comic without the cheesecake of Tomb Raider. The White Picket Fences story is my first exposure to the comic, but the cryptic statments of an elementary school science teacher just before he turns into a giant lizard-man are intriguing enough to make me want to read more. Fantasy fans will enjoy The Goblin Chronicles, while people who like to see the tarnishing of anything too “cutsie” will delight in the Teddy Scares story here. Go-go Gorilla and the Jungle Crew are forced to save a comic shop on Free Comic Book Day from a mob of supervillain collectors, and the book concludes with a great vignette from Bizarre New World, in which Paul Krutcher — the man who can fly — gets his inventive revenge on a nasty blind date. I already loved Go-Go Gorilla (give us more, Ape), and Bizarre New World and Athena Voltaire are also comics I’ve sampled and really enjoyed. This book has really gotten me interested in White Picket Fences as well — and if this comic has enticed more people like myself to look for comics they haven’t read before, I think it’s safe to call it a definite success.
Bizarre New World #1 (APE Entertainment)
By Skipper Martin & Christopher Provencher
What would an ordinary guy do if he suddenly found himself with the ability to fly? Where would you go? What would you do? How would you test it out? In Bizarre New World, Skipper Martin delves into a real-world, spandex-free analysis of this question. It’s a pretty good read, too. The story is clever enough, and the concerns our main character, Paul, finds while trying to study his new power are pretty realistic. There’s also a good amount of humor in the book, which helps a lot. The only real problem is that the book feels a bit too autobiographical — even before reading the text piece at the end, it’s quite obvious Martin based the characters on himself and his friends. Not that this is a necessarily bad thing, mind you, but it’s a little distracting when it’s so obvious. On the other hand, it helps quickly establish some of the relationships very quickly — the interaction between Paul and his son is some of the best stuff in the book. Christopher Provencher has a really strong style and the artwork looks great, particularly the scene with Paul walking on the ceiling. This is afun comic, one that really feels legitimately different. There’s nothing else on the racks quite like it.