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G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (2001 Series) #39

June 29, 2012 Leave a comment

January 28, 2005

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Union of the Snake Part Four

Cobra launches their attack on the Pit – and neither team will ever be the same!

Writers: Brandon Jerwa & Josh Blaylock
Pencils: Tim Seeley
Inks: Cory Hamscher
Colors: Val Staples
Letters: Robin Spehar
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: Tim Seeley, Andrew Pepoy & Val Staples
Publisher: Devil’s Due

Last issue, Zartan broke Cobra Commander out of G.I. Joe custody, only to reveal that the two men were using each other’s identities. Meanwhile, Destro has finally discovered the location of the Joe headquarters, the Pit. This issue, Destro makes his move against the Joes, just as Cobra Commander makes his move against Destro.

With two issues left in this storyline, it’s incredible to think that there are still more shocks to come. This is a seriously action-heavy issue. The Joes are in bad shape – the Jugglers have cut the team down to 12 members, they’re under the command General Rey, a man many of them have never met, and now their viscous enemies are descending upon them with guns blazing.

G.I. Joe has always been a book that could surprise you – it’s ostensibly a kids’ property, but the fans are in their 20s now. More than that, even when the fans were kids, this book could be pretty harsh at times with the violence, the action, and even the casualties. Although there have been resurrections during the course of this property (the original Cobra Commander being the most obvious example), there have been far more characters who have stayed dead. This issue ends on a major cliffhanger that will have fans of one of the characters in an uproar.

We also start to get a little characterization of the new leader of the “official” Joes (as opposed to the splinter group of former Joes carrying out their own missions). General Rey is still something of an enigma, but here he’s painted as a man of honor. The question, for the Joes and the readers, is whether he’s being genuine or if he’s just a puppet of the Jugglers.

Tim Seeley continues to own this book artistically. He has a beautiful, clean line, and Cory Hamscher and Val Staples all come together to make this the best this property has ever looked.

This may not be the best point to jump into reading the book, in the middle of such a major storyline, but if you can find the first three issues in this arc it’s a great time to come on board, because the Joe team has never undergone so many changes so quickly, and the story has almost never been this good.

Rating: 8/10

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (2001 Series) #38

June 15, 2012 Leave a comment

December 24, 2004

Quick Rating: Great
Title: Union of the Snake Part Three

G.I. Joe and Cobra both face schisms as they teeter towards the brink of collapse.

Writer: Brandon Jerwa
Pencils: Emiliano Santalucia
Colors: Brett R. Smith
Letters: Robin Spehar
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: Tim Seeley & Andrew Pepoy
Publisher: Devil’s Due

Last issue Duke and Snake-Eyes got sprung from prison by the unlikely duo of Scarlett and Storm Shadow. This issue, as they make their escape, Zartan and the Dreadnoks plan their own jailbreak – to free the imprisoned Cobra Commander!

Devil’s Due promises that next year will feature the biggest storyline in G.I. Joe history, and Brandon Jerwa is working overtime to make that happen. The Joe team has been pruned down to just 12 members, under the command of General Rey, but the members left out (or under fire) aren’t going to go down without a fight. Meanwhile, Destro has seized command of Cobra, but Zartan’s faction has other ideas.

We get a few nice revelations in this issue, about who’s really been in Joe custody all this time, the truth about Zartan’s mysterious condition, and a powerful scene between Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow, brothers too long at odds. There’s also a surprisingly powerful scene between Flint and Lady Jaye, the married couple caught up in the midst of this torment.

Emiliano Santalucia handles the pencils on this issue, stepping in for regular artist Tim Seeley, and the transition is almost seamless. The artwork looks a little more detailed, a little polished than usual, but the style is nearly exactly the same. It’s a great-looking comic book – as good as Seeley is, Santalucia would be a perfect artist on this book full-time if it came to it.

The Joes were my favorite toys as a kid, and even at the ripe old age of 27 I’m a huge fan, and this may be the best they’ve ever been. I can’t wait to see what’s coming up in 2005.

Rating: 9/10

Hack/Slash (2010 Series) #10

January 25, 2012 Leave a comment

December 17, 2011

Title: Interdimensional Women’s Prison Breakout Part 2

Writer: Tim Seeley
Art:
Daniel Leister
Colorist:
Mark Englert
Letterer:
Crank!
Cover Artist:
Tim Seeley
Editor:
James Lowder
Publisher:
Image Comics

Bomb Queen has leapt universes, landing in the world of Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad. But Vlad is sick and getting worse, and Cassie is going to need somebody else to help her out if she’s going to survive her second battle with the Bomb Queen… a former ally she never thought she’d turn to again. Together with Samhain, Cassie and Bomb Queen face off for the next round of battle.

Although Bomb Queen isn’t the sort of slasher movie enemy that Cassie usually does battle against, she’s certainly twisted enough to inspire terror when she’s played straight. She’s usually used as such a parody in her own title, mocking the conventions of superhero comics and their treatment of villains, that you can actually root for her just a little bit, despite the horrible things she does. That isn’t the case here. Bomb Queen is a killer and a lunatic, and Cassie – and through her, the reader – takes her as a serious threat. Plus, we do get a few genuine monsters thrown into the book as well, a sort of Killer Whale creature up front and a different kind of killer later on. All of these elements come together and make for a solid story that works both for Cassie and for Bomb Queen, which is a nice feeling.

Rating: 8/10

Hack/Slash (2007 Series) #12

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

June 10, 2008

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Bumped Part One

Cassie faces the wood-demons of Hitchfield!

Writers: Mark Kidwell & Tim Seeley
Art: Tim Seeley & Emily Stone
Colors: Milen Parvanov & Courtney Via
Letters: Brian J. Crowley
Editor: Scott Licina & Mike O’Sullivan
Cover Art: Tim Seeley
Publisher: Devil’s Due Publishing

This two-part story was originally supposed to be a standalone miniseries crossing over with the Fangoria comic Bump, but when Fangoria went belly-up, they added a few pages to keep the ongoing subplots going and shifted the story to the main Hack/Slash title. I’ve never read Bump, but that didn’t really hurt the book at all – it reads like any other slasher that Cassie and Vlad would have to deal with.

Cassie and Vlad roll into the town of Hitchfield, where a group of 32 college students were brutally murdered at an environmental protest. As they investigate the murders, a snoopy reporter winds up hooking up with our favorite duo, and the three of them have to fight for their lives when a league of horrifying woodcarved monsters attacks them.

This reads just fine as an issue of Hack/Slash regardless of the crossover trappings. Bump creator Mark Kidwell, who wrote most of the issue, handles Cassie and Vlad’s voices just as well as the series creator Tim Seeley, who provides most of the artwork. The gore this issue may be even harsher than a usual issue, with things like a face being bitten off to provide plenty of blood for those of you here for that sort of thing.

Rating: 8/10

Halloween: Nightdance #3

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment

April 11, 2008

Halloween: Nightdance #3 (Devil’s Due Productions)
By Stefan Hutchinson & Tim Seeley

This miniseries is really proving itself worthy of the Halloween name. This issue, Lisa lets us in on her tragic history, specifically with the child she used to babysit. Sean, meanwhile, finally gets wise to Nikki’s feelings for him, but it may be too little, too late, as our cast of teens wind up on the business end of Michael Myers’ knife. Hutchinson really amps up the action and the terror this issue, crafting a comic that’s genuinely frightening. There aren’t a lot of slasher comics that are really successful in translating the feel of the movie onto the page — the best many of them achieve is campy fondness — but this works. He even works in the requisite amount of cheesecake, which Tim Seeley does a great job of illustrating. This book gives you everything you could want in a Halloween story.
Rating: 8/10

Hack/Slash (2007 Series) #11

October 21, 2011 Leave a comment

May 30, 2008

Quick Rating: Great
Title: The Coldest Dish

Cassies’ newest target reminds her too much of herself.

Writer: Tim Seeley
Art: Emily Stone
Colors: Courtney Via
Letters: Brian J. Crowley
Editor: Mike O’Sullivan
Cover Art: Tim Seeley & Jeremy Roberts (Cover A); Jamie McKelvie (Cover B)
Publisher: Devil’s Due Publishing

For too long now, Cassie Hack’s approach to slasher killers has been to stab first, ask questions later. Rumors of a new killer – a man with a gaping hole instead of an eye – draw her to Portland. When she encounters the suspected slasher, however, she finds someone that seems disturbingly familiar.

Most slasher movies are pretty simple – fight, fight, stab, blood, boobs, dead teenagers, roll credits. There is rarely much character development, and almost never any real depth to the story. Hack/Slash manages to take the concept of the slasher and use it in really unique ways. Cassie’s moral dilemma here is something you’d never see in a “typical” slasher flick, where the bad guy is your average killing machine with a blade and no personality.

The supporting cast gets to have a little fun this issue too. One of the Hellhounds sent to track Cassie has gone astray, and Chris is sent to investigate. This is a really funny little subplot, one that shows us how Earth may be Hell for a denizen of the depths.

There’s the usual great artwork by Emily Stone and Courtney Via. The Hellhound alone is a great visual, but the baddie of the day has a unique look all his own, something a lot creeper than most of the usual bad guys. As always, this was a really solid issue.

Rating: 9/10

Halloween: Nightdance #2

October 4, 2011 Leave a comment

March 4, 2008

Quick Rating: Very Good

Michael Myers’ reign of terror spreads!

Writer: Stefan Hutchinson
Art: Tim Seeley
Colors: Elizabeth John
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Stephen Christy
Publisher: Devil’s Due Productions

The first issue of this new Halloween miniseries was pretty good. This issue really amps up the terror. Most slasher comics play up the campier aspects of the genre, but this book is all-out horror, and it does it beautifully.

Again, this is a title that seems to weave several stories – a babysitter receiving frightening drawings from one of her former charges, a man trying to make sense of his wife’s tragedy, a couple investigating a house in the middle of nowhere. There doesn’t seem to be much connectivity between these stories, except for the fact that characters in each of them are haunted by the specter of Michael Myers.

And that specter is really omnipresent here. The Shape pops up in most unexpected places, and as is the case in truly great horror, you can never quite be sure if he’s really there or if the character is seeing things. Tim Seeley deserves just as much credit for that as writer Stefan Hutchinson – there’s a particularly chilling panel here where the Shape is formed by naked tree branches that just sent shivers up my spine.

Hutchinson plays on a lot of natural and common fears here, and the combination of smart writing and startling artwork makes for a powerful, evocative horror story. Definitely recommended.

Rating: 8/10