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Zombies Vs. Cheerleaders #2

August 18, 2011 Leave a comment

August 2, 2011

Title: Finality, Hall Pass, A Piece of Work

Writer: Brandon Jerwa, Bill Maus, Steven L. Frank
Art:
Remy Mokhtar, Bill Maus, David Namisato
Colorist:
Mick Collins, Kathleen Lawday, Jeff Balke
Letterer:
Bill Maus
Cover Artist:
Daniel Campos, Joe Pekar, Pasquale Qualano, Ben Tan, Mark Slater
Editor:
Steven L. Frank
Publisher:
Moonstone Publishing

Despite a fun, goofy premise, the first issue of this series was kind of a letdown. Issue two, I’m glad to say, is a considerable improvement right off the bat, taking an anthology approach and telling some really weird, different stories, beginning with “Finality.” In the distant future, with the world divided up into different monster factions, the last zombie and last cheerleader agree to go into space together to prevent the end of the world. Results are… predictable, but Brandon Jerwa tosses in a funny twist regarding other monster types that leads to a promising conclusion.

In the second story, “Hall Pass,” a cheerleader finds herself getting stood up by her boyfriend, only to find that he’s been turned into a zombie. Despite his transformation, though, some of his baser instincts remain, and cheesecake ensues with a nice sprinkling of gore to help along the way.

The final story, “A Piece of Work,” is undeniably the most disturbing in the book, featuring a girl who is tormented by her school cheerleaders and goes for a bloody revenge when she becomes a vampire. Unusually, this is a story where the real villain doesn’t get any sort of comeuppance. In fact, she’s hailed at the end. It’s almost like the inverse of an old EC Comics morality tale, where bad people always got punished in the end.

If Moonstone intends to continue with this property, the anthology format seems to be the way to go. It offers more, different kinds of stories, and it’s fun to boot.

Rating: 7/10

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The Phantom (2003) #17

July 28, 2011 Leave a comment

July 13, 2007

The Phantom #17 (Moonstone Publishing)
By Mike Bullock & Silvestre Szilagyi

In the nation of Uganda, a brutal dictator is kidnapping children, torturing them, and brainwashing them to an indoctrination that makes them worship HIM as a god. And that isn’t just the story of this comic, folks, that’s the truth. I’m not usually a fan of real-world politics leaking into comic books, but this is the sort of story where it works. For one thing, Uganda is part of the Phantom’s usual African stomping grounds, so it makes perfect sense for him to address the issue of these “Invisible Children.” For another, this is a more clear-cut sort of issue than the divisive politics that usually make it into politics — the Middle East can be debated to death, but there can be little doubt most thinking people would condemn these actions. And third, this is a comic that puts its money where its mouth is. For every purchase of one of the “B” covers of this and the next two issues, Moonstone will make a donation to an organization dedicated to ending this travesty. Add on the fact that it’s your usual great story by Mike Bullock, and there’s more reason than ever to check out The Phantom this month.

Rating: 8/10

Hack/Slash Meets Zombies Vs. Cheerleaders #1

June 30, 2011 Leave a comment

June 14, 2011

Writer: Steven L. Frank
Art:
Benjamin Glendenning
Colorist:
Joseph Baker
Letterer:
Bill Maus
Cover:
Mike DeBalfo
Editor:
Steven L. Frank    
Publisher:
Moonstone Publishing

Cassie Hack and and her pal Vlad get word of a high school suffering from a monster attack in Seattle. They go undercover as new students, with Cassie falling in with the cheerleaders (quite unwillingly) and Vlad joining the ranks of the football team. Together, though, they find themselves pitted against a family of zombies. This is a little different from your typical Hack/Slash story, even a crossover. It’s played lighter, even having a few fourth wall-breaking jokes pop up once or twice. The versatility of the concept, fortunately, makes it easy for Cassie and Vlad to join in the battle against virtually any kind of horror movie killer. Dropping them into a high school makes for a lot of humor in its own right, as Cassie finds herself rebelling against her own high school memories, while Vlad is plopped into a world he’s never been part of before. Benjamin Glendenning is a really good choice for this book, making Cassie and Vlad a little more cartoony so as to fit in the Zombies Vs. Cheerleaders world, but still keeping them very recognizable as the characters they are. All in all, the book works well enough for fans of Hack/Slash.

Rating: 7/10

Zombies Vs. Cheerleaders #1

June 25, 2011 Leave a comment

June 14, 2011

Title: Pep Rallies and Body Tallies

Writer: Steven L. Frank
Art:
Ben Glendenning, Jessica Hickman, Frankie B. Washington, David Namisato
Colorist:
Anthony Hochrein, David Namisato
Letterer:
Josh Aitken
Logo and Layout:
Nicole Goff
Cover:
Jason Worthington
Editor:
Steven L. Frank    
Publisher:
Moonstone Publishing

Horror and comedy is always a promising combination, and I like the mix of the two very much. It’s even better when they bring in the tropes of a B movie, where the combination seems to work the best. This issue, though, with the a promising title, is too low quality even to live up to the B-movie pedigree. In “Zombies vs. Cheerleaders,” a teenager tired of being bullied by the jocks whips up a new chemical that turns his biology teacher into a zombie, unleashing a plague that quickly spreads across the school. Soon, the only ones left to turn the tide are the cheerleading squad. It’s a ridiculous, and very funny idea, but the execution falls flat. The jokes don’t hit home and the pacing of the script is very weak. The four different chapters (one of which is labeled a “bonus chapter” for no apparent reason) each have a different artist. Three of the four are good (the third chapter is sloppy as hell), but none of them really fit one another. They all look like they came from completely different comic books, and that’s not a good thing. This could be a really funny comic, but this first issue doesn’t work.

Rating: 5/10

The Phantom (2003 Series) #16

June 13, 2011 Leave a comment

May 4, 2007

The Phantom #16 (Moonstone)
By Mike Bullock, Silvestre Szilagyi, Bret Blevins

Mike Bullock takes his first journey into the jungle since taking over this title full-time. The Phantom encounters a woman who works for an animal conservation organization, a woman who has come under fire by a group of trappers who feel she’s encroaching on their business. What they don’t know, though, is that for the past 150 years, her family has been marked by the rarely-used Goodmark of the Phantom’s left ring, the stamp that indicates they are under the protection of the Ghost Who Walks. As I’ve come to expect from Bullock, the book gives us a lot of strong action and stronger characterization. Angela Carlyle is a bit of a sterotype as a character — the activist who rebels against her family — but she works nonetheless. Silvestre Szilagyi‘s artwork is just great — clean and effective. Moonstone is really treating this classic character right.

Rating: 8/10

The Phantom (2003 Series) #15

February 3, 2011 Leave a comment

March 8, 2007

The Phantom #15 (Moonstone)
By Mike Bullock, Carlos Magno & Joe Prado

The two-part “Walker’s Line” comes to an end in fine fashion. The Phantom — this time in an urban jungle instead of an actual one, is holding vigil over the bed of his elderly aunt. As he takes to the streets, he finds himself cleaning up some muggers and would-be rapists, unaware that the fight is going to be brought to Aunt Bessie’s room. Mike Bullock has put together a very satisfying, old-school superhero story. The bit with the aunt aside, the whole thing is very Spider-Man-esque, which actually makes for a very interesting setting for the Phantom. Magno‘s artwork is eally great — detailed, but still clean, with really sharp panel layouts and choreography. This book looks as good as anything coming out of the Big Two, and it reads better than most of it.
Rating: 8/10

Moonstone’s Holiday Super Spectacular #1

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

December 1, 2007

Moonstone’s Holiday Super Spectacular #1 (Moonstone Comics)
By Mike Bullock, Silvestre Szilagyi, Dave Ulanski, Kirk Jarvinen, Martin Powell, Tom Floyd, Joe Gentile, Zeu, Mac Rauch, Ken Wolak, Michael Stribling

‘Tis the season for Christmas specials! I love how so many publishers put out “grab bag” issues with various characters this time of year, and Moonstone is no exception. This special contains five tales of their top heroes, and all of them are pretty good. The Phantom stars in “Silent Knight,” in which he acts as a special escort through dangerous territroy for a convoy carrying the most precious cargo at all. Kolchak, the night stalker, winds up having to solve an elf-murder case (with some truly hysterical in-jokes for anyone familiar with the original Kolchak). The Spider faces Mr. Snow on a violent Christmas night. Sherlock Holmes has to find a missing man, and Buckaroo Banzai spends his Christmas fighting off nothing less than an alien invasion! The Spider story was the only one that didn’t quite work for me, although that may be because I’m less familiar with him than the rest of the characters. The Phantom story, but regular series writer Mike Bullock, is the standout, and the other three are a lot of fun too. This is about as eclectic a mix of charcters as one could ask for this season, with a bizarre mix of superheroes, mystery, science fiction, horror and comedy that somehow makes a perfect blend. This is the kind of Christmas special I like.

Rating: 8/10