Monday, November 29, 2004


Kieth Giffen's art is definitely a unique style. I liked how he used it in the Lobo: Infanticide mini, so I went out and found this 4 issue mini series he did for Image in 1993. The same style of art can be found here, but it feels a little less focused. As much fun as his art is, sometimes it is extremely hard to figure out exactly what is going on in a scene or what a progression of panels is trying to show. I found there were more than a couple of times that I sat and stared at a page trying to discern exactly what was happening and what Giffen was trying to tell the reader.

One of the reasons I think that his art can come off this way is that for all of its detail, it's not really that detailed. Ok, yeah, I know that sounds weird, but it's the best way to describe it. For example, there is a sequence of panels where I think Trencher is getting kocked down a street and into the wall of a building, but I'm not sure because for all of the detail that Giffen puts into the Trencher character and his surroundings, he doesn't communicate very well what is actually happening to the character and his surroundings.

On the positive side, though, there are some really awesome one page spreads of the main character and some of his foes (one of them being Supreme). There are also a lot of little things that can be found in many of the panels that'll make you chuckle, although some won't.

As for the story... well, that's a little muddled. Basically you have some guy that is working for some organization that has some duty to kill people who have misplaced souls. It's very, very ambiguous. The character of Trencher is very much a rip off of Lobo, which makes this story feel like some writing fan fiction about Lobo, but since it's actually being published the name had to get changed. Each issue consists mostly of Lobo... err, Trencher going up against some type of cyborg or superhuman, with the final issue culminating in Trencher battling some robot/human mish mash Elvis impersonator. I think it was intended to be funny, but it just didn't work too well for me.

You can usually find this series in quarter bins all over and if you want to check out some interesting and unique art, give it a shot. If you're expecting a fleshed out and cohesive story, well, go read something else because you won't find it here.

Art: 3.75
Story: 2.25
Overall: 3

Friday, November 26, 2004

The Milkman Murders

Ummm..... holy shit was this one dark tale. I felt dirty just reading it, yet I couldn't stop myself from reading more and more of it. This is definitely a tale of horror, but not such horrors as werewolves, zombies, or vampires. No, this is a horror story because it is very possible that there are people actually like this in our world.

This is the story of a mother and her family. She is overweight, has low self-esteem, and covets a normal life like that of the family on her favorite tv show. Her husband verbally and physically abuses her and blames his crappy life on her. Their son is a morbid little bastard who kills the neighborhood residents' pets and disects them for fun. Their daughter is a slut, plain and simple. All in all this is one ugly, disfunctional family, yet I can see how there are families like this out there today, possibly even one of my neighbors.

As the story progresses, you see each family member's lifestyle and how it leaves them feeling incomplete. This incompleteness only adds fuel to their self-destructive fire. The father snorts coke just to feel normal. The son becomes more visceral in his animal mutilation. The daughter starts sleeping with her gym teacher. All the while the mother watches and loathes her life. The pointlessness and hopelessness of thier lives hits you like a ton of bricks. I felt myself awash in emotions of hopelessness myself as I turned each page, wondering how far it could go.

It only gets worse as time goes on until the mother snaps. All of the time she's spent living in her own personal hell, she's built up a rage that is almost palatable and as she acts out upon it, instead of feeling sorry for what she does to her family, you'll feel that justice is being served.

Accompanying such a dark story is an art style that I initially thought wouldn't fit. It's very cartoony and non-proportionate, but the coloring style really helps to keep the story feeling dark instead of cartoony.

Really, anyone who wants as close to a first hand experience as possible to being a part of a horribly disfunctional family without actually having to be in one should read this. If you're also looking for a good, non-traditional horror tale, this comes with my highest recommendation!

Art: 3.5
Story: 4
Overall: 4

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Towards the end of the 90's Image was finally starting to find their own niche after their intial line of superhero and titilation titles bottomed out. They started to open up to many new projects that were off of the beaten path in the hopes that they'd hit some new markets. Witchfinder was a 3 issue miniseries from 1999 that probably went unnoticed by most of the comic readers of the time, which is really a shame because it's a thoroughly enjoyable, if not formulaic, read.

The story starts with our main character, the Witchfinder, hunting down a witch. We also learn that he's a witchfinder because his brother was killed by witches and when they killed him, they also left the Witchfinder with mystical scars which play a role in the story later on.

As he's hunting down the witches for the head witchfinder of the town, he sees that what they are doing is wrong. They were killing innocents along with witches just to exercise their power. Not being able to continue letting innocents die, he saves one of the suspected witches and in the process his scars are revealed which, of course, leads to him being branded a witch himself.

As the story progresses we find that the Witchfinder has magical powers himself that he is afraid to use. The remainder of the story deals with his struggling to accept that witches might not all be evil and his quest to make right the wrongdoings of the head witchfinder of the town. It's at this point that the story becomes somewhat formulaic as the Witchfinder is simply on a revenge quest, but it is written quite competently.

The art in this series is very good as well. I was impressed by the detail in many of the splash pages, but unfortunately this detail doesn't carry over to all of the panels. Some felt like they were rough drafts or left partially unfinished, but those splash pages... man, they sure were pretty! It looked a lot like most Top Cow comics would look, which could be good or bad. Personally, I like the art in most Top Cow comics, but some people detest it.

So, anyhow, if you can find this series anywhere it would be a sound purchase and read. I managed to grab all three issues from a $0.50 box, so it was definitely worth my money!

Art: 4
Story: 3.75
Overall: 3.75

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Conan 1 - 7

With all the hype surrounding this series after the $.25 #0 issue I decided I should pick this series up. Besides, I wanted to branch out a little beyond the usual Marvel and DC titles that I regularly pick up. So, is this iteration of Conan worth the hype? Hell's yeah!

Interestingly enough, I usually talk mostly about a series' story most and touch on the art just a little bit, but this time I'm going to gush to you my love for the art in this book. Nord makes this series a wonder to look at. The pencils are done very crisply, but what really makes each panel stand out is the coloring. The color palette suits this dark and bloody tale perfectly. When I'm reading a story about a noble barbarian who is lopping the heads off of the people who attack him in a berserker rage, I don't want a bunch of pastels, I want muted and dark color tones with rough, angular pencils, which is exactly what you'll find, and in great detail I might add.

Now after gawking at the art every issue, I found I also enjoyed the story written by Kurt Busiek, but it wasn't anything spectacular. Busiek doesn't seem to write bad stories any more, which is a good thing because I know that whenever I see something with his name on it, I'll probably enjoy it.

The gist of the story is about Conan teaming up with a band of warriors as he is traveling throughout the lands. He, along with those he is traveling with, are captured by a group of immortals and forced to be slaves. With Conan's leadership and help from one of the female slaves, they manage to escape the city of immortals, although Conan is the only one to escape and remain alive.

I like that Busiek is writing Conan as a warrior who also possesses a modicum of intelligence and honor. He's more than simply a big brute with a sword and Busiek acknowledges that in how he writes Conan. I'm very interested to see where Busiek takes Conan next as he has shown with this first arc that he has managed to write the character intelligently. I'm also interested to keep reading simply to continue enjoying Nord's artwork! Dark Horse has a very good series with Conan that has the potential to be a long running, high selling title. Let's hope that the quality of the series doesn't decline as time goes on.

Art: 4.75
Story: 4
Overall: 4.5

Marvel: The Lost Generation 12 - 7

I have yet to read anything by John Byrne that has impressed me. It seems like everything he writes (and draws) is simply average. It's never totally bad, but it's never very good either. Before I even delved into this series, I was guessing that the combination of this being a John Byrne project AND it being a high concept project, I was probably in for a whole lot of sucktacular reading. Damn you instincts for being right!

First, here's the concept of this 12 issue maxi-series from Marvel circa 1999: Before the days of the Avengers or the Fantastic Four there was a lost age of Marvel heroes and this series is here to tell their story. It's also told from issue 12 counting down to issue 1 so you get the end of the story first and then work your way back in time. Sound like it could be really, really lame? Well, after the first six issues I can say that so far, yes, it is totally lame.

Apparently all of the heroes and villains from this "lost" age were killed by a Skrull invasion that they managed to stop. They had to sacrifice themselves to save the earth. Frankly, I could care less if they all died choking on popcorn while watching Star Wars. Byrne throws a ton of brand spanking new characters at you and in doing so doesn't have time to give you much information on any of them. After the first few issues I could only remember the name of one character and the powers of a few. All I did really remember is that there were tons of lame superheroes (some being blatant rip-offs of other characters) that formed The First Line (their team name) to protect the US and the world.

Throw into this mix a time traveling woman from the future come back to examine all of this as it happens (the reason for this series to exist, I'm guessing) and you have one big clusterf*ck of a mess. Each issue attempts to be a self-contained story, yet at the same time relate to the overarching plot, but most of the stories just come off as lame and showing little relevance to the big picture.

After six issues I really don't want to keep reading because I honestly have no personal investment into the plot, the characters, or the ugly Byrne pencilled art. This series is a gigantic mistake and waste of time. Thankfully, I picked it up on ebay for less than 10 bucks.

Art: 2
Story: 1
Overall: 1.5

Monday, November 15, 2004

District X 1 - 6

Who would have thought that a series about a mutant cop in a town of mutants would be as interesting as this? I didn't. I figured that this would be yet another subpar title that Marvel simply churned out to get X-title completists to shell out more cash. Oddly enough, the first couple of issues really hooked me in that this story was just as much about mutants as it was about forming relationships and being on the beat as an everyday cop.

Bishop may be billed as the main character of this series, but the supporting cast plays just as important of a role. If it wasn't for the interaction between Bishop, Ortega, and Ortega's family, this would not be a title I would stick with. The conversations that you read between the different officers in the precint and between the criminals in the mutant gangs give this title a very grounded feel. As opposed to being all about superheroes slugging it out with each other like most Marvel titles are, this title focused on characters.

The story started off with a bang as you are introduced to the different mutant factions in Mutant Town as well as the different officers of the precinct. Part of the story revolves around Ortega's family, another deals with an internal police coverup, another deals with a mutant whose sweat is an addictive drug, and yet another deals with a mysterious mutant who pops up every now and again.

With all of this going on, the action built up quickly and frantically, but then it peters out in the end. Sadly, this arc ends on a whimper as the conclusion to all that was built up is taken care of in a very weak manner that feels like it was a cop out. Other than that, however, this was a very captivating series that shows a lot of promise.

Art: 3.5
Story: 3.75
Overall: 3.75

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Batman: Fortunate Son

Let's get this out of the way now: this is easily one of the worst Batman stories I have ever read (it ranks up there in suckdom right alongside the City of Light mini). I cringed as I read almost every page because it wallowed in so much crap.

Gerard Jones attempts to tell a story of a rock star that has captivated the world over and use it as a critique on how rock music is bad. Rock music breeds violence. Rock music makes people unhappy. Rock music is for stupid people. Rock music will drive you crazy. Jones hammers the reader over the head so hard with his heavy-handed treatment of rock music that I've got a lump the size of a guitar.

So apparently a rock star who is close to becoming washed up goes crazy, blows up a music video showing, and then treks across America while hallucinating about his musical heroes. While this is happening Batman and Robin bicker about music. Batman thinks rock is bad and Robin thinks it is good. They fight and whine and eventually Robin teams up with the rock star's bassist thinking he can save Isaac (the rock star). He eventually learns that it's all just a plan by a bigwig record label executive to make Isaac immortal in musical circles. Robin realizes he's wrong and helps Batman bring down the exec.

Now not only is the story pretty lame and heavy-handed, but the dialogue is atrocious and the lyrics to Isaac's songs feel like they were written by a 7th grade music student slapping together an assignment a couple of minutes before class. One of the songs revolves around Isaac not getting what he ordered at a fast food joint. Really, I'm not making this up.

The only bright spot in this graphic novel is the above average art of Gene Ha. If it wasn't for the pretty depictions of the characters, this would have been a complete and utter failure. One thing that I didn't like about Ha's art, however, is how he drew the Batmobile and the Batplane. They both looked like they were from the 23rd century and made by aliens.

If you want to read what a Batman story should not be like, then throw away $15 on this. Fortunately I got it at a convention for only $4.

Art: 3.5
Story: 1
Overall: 1.25

Friday, November 12, 2004

Dark Wolf

Ugghh... there's a reason why some comics never make it to the big publishers and are published by independents instead, and that's because they suck. This 4 issue mini is a perfect example of a horribly generic indie title.

So there's this priest who turns into a generic "dark wolf" superhero and fights a league of devil worshipers. The only way to kill the devil worshipers is to rip out their hearts, so that's what Dark Wolf does. These devil worshipers fight back by hiring some mercenaries that have superpowers (but you don't know exactly what they are or why they have them). Dark Wolf obviously kicks their collective asses.

In the middle of the story we find out Dark Wolf's origin. Apparently he's the reincarnated spirit of a werewolf from 1000 years ago that sacrificed his life for a girl he loved. The spirit has swore revenge on those who killed her, the satan worshipers.

Ok, in the end it turns out that the satan worshipers have superpowers too (well, they shoot "beams" out of their hands, and again it's not explained at all) so Dark Wolf has to fight them and then take on their leader. The climactic battle between Abraxis, the head devil worshiper and Dark Wolf takes all of two pages and is as anti-climactic as you can imagine. It ends with an explosion that kills everything in area... except Dark Wolf. Why? Who knows.

All in all, a terrible black and white indie title put out by Malibu from 1987. The art was passable, however, so it isn't completely a waste... I suppose.

Art: 3
Story: 1.5
Overall: 1.75

Thursday, November 11, 2004


If you're at all like me, you've probably wondered what it would be like if, for once, the bad guys actually came out on top. With Empire you get the chance to see what that might be like. Instead of heroes protecting the world, you'll be treated to Golgoth and his merry band of mercenaries ruling the world with an iron grip. Come on, you know you've always sympathized with the villains. Why can't they win once? This series shows you why.

After hearing all of the good things that people have had to say about this series, I thought it would grab me right away, but it didn't. In fact, I found the first couple of issues to be rather... blah. They laid the groundwork for the rest of the series, but I just wasn't impressed. So there's some evil badasses that rule the world. Whoop-dee-do. I wasn't impressed...... until I got a little ways into the story.

Once you know the cast of characters, however, Waid dove into the interweavings of what it would be like to have to be ruled by a despot. Golgoth keeps people loyal through addiction. He feeds them a drug that enhances their skills and is horribly addictive. When someone stumbles upon the secret of where this drug comes from, however, the subterfuge begins.

The constant back-stabbing, misdirection, and cut-throat dealings are what makes this miniseries as interesting as it is. Well, that and that art is pretty darn good too. I think it might be a little too colorful for this series, but it still was plenty graphic and conveyed the sheer evil of some of the characters very well.

So, if you want to read about bad guys beating up on everyone that is good, while constantly infighting with themselves, then this is definitely a title for you.

Art: 3.75
Story: 4
Overall: 4

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury DVD

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it's not a comic book, but to me anime is pretty much a comic book put into motion. It's in the same ballpark so I thought I'd write about it here anyways (besides, most of the people I know who read comics also watch anime).

I've seen both Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick, so I'm versed in the world of Riddick, but even for anyone not familiar with the character, this short 35 minute anime feature could still be enjoyable. I found the story to be interesting, the animation to be superb, and the voicing to be wonderful.

The story picks up a little while after Pitch Black ended. Riddick's ship has been captured by a gigantic merc ship. After being captured, Riddick is attacked by mercs and captured. The battle scene is pretty well choreographed with some visceral action. The middle part of this story is somewhat bland as Riddick is simply talked to by the lead merc. There is then a very interesting battle between Riddick and a couple of alien baddies. Then there's some hallway running followed by the final showdown between Riddick and the head merc's right hand man.

Well, on second thought, maybe the story wasn't all that good, but damn if it didn't have some wonderful action scenes. The animation was fluid and eye-catching, packing quite the visual punch. This isn't your average Saturday morning caliber animation, this is they type of animation you'd see in a full length, big budget anime film.

The voices were actually done by the cast members. Vin Diesel reprises his role as Riddick, doing a wonderful job growling and simply sounding bad-ass. It gave this little feature the feel of the two movies and helped make it feel like it really did tie into the universe created by the movies.

The only drawback is that the feature is only a little over a half hour long. It's good, but that isn't a whole lot of content. It's easily worth a rental, though!

Animation: 4.5
Story: 2.5
Overall: 4

Monday, November 08, 2004

New X-Men 1 - 6

Picking up where the second volume of New Mutants left off, these first issues of New X-Men detail the adventures of two new teams of mutants, the New Mutants and the Hellions. The thing that most obviously stands out to me after reading this arc is that there's a whole crapload of characters to keep track of.

In these six issues you're introduced to the six members of the New Mutants, the six members of the Hellions, along with the four faculty that watch over the students. Six issues in and I'm still unclear about keeping all of the characters straight.

Barring the sheer amount of characters presented here, this arc is a pretty good superheroes in school series geared towards the teen crowd. I think that this title could resonate very well with many teenage comic book readers as it deals a lot with the relationships of the students. Some of the situations you can tell are pretty blatantly set up to get a point across (like having two completely dissimilar students room together so they can learn tolerance).

As for the plot of this arc, there seems to be a lot of different things going on all at once. It starts off by the students getting acclimated to their surroundings and knowing each other, then it meanders into a team vs. team competition, then the FBI is added and a murder case takes center stage before the story reverts back to a team vs. team battle, etc. I guess it just felt like these issues lacked an overall focus, but in doing so it felt less like one of Marvel's standard six issue arcs and more free flowing. Still, I'd have liked to have seen a little more focus in this title.

Art: 3
Story: 3
Overall: 3

Friday, November 05, 2004

The Establishment 8 - 13

This is the second half of the Wildstorm series from 2001. After reading the first 7 issues, I was hoping that they'd actually touch on the origin of some of the characters, and of the organization as a whole, in these issues. Fortunately, they do, and it helps to flesh out the team a little bit, but as I feared it is simply a case of "too little, too late".

Even though the first couple of issues of this arc went over the origins of some of the team members, none of their stories really were that engaging. The only one that I found moderately amusing was for the Pharmacist. He was a super genius, got a brain tumor, died, and then was brought back to life as some super being controlled by some god-type thing (yeah, it gets pretty muddled, but I'm guessing regular Wildstorm readers would know what was going on).

I just felt like I was missing something as I was reading each issue, like I was that guy who walks up to a group of people having a conversation and thinking I can pick it up right in the middle. Sure, I might understand what they're talking about for the most part, but whenever they reference something I'd missed, I feel left out. That's exactly how this series felt all the way through.

I'm torn about how to rate this series because I'm sure it would be a lot better if I had more contextual information, but as it stands, I was pretty uninterested in whatever super-demon or whatnot that the Establishment was fighting from issue to issue. Oh, yeah, one last thing. In one of the later issues there's some nun with guns introduced and you're not really told why she's there or what her deal is, but all of the sudden a gun toting nun takes center stage. I think it was at that point I just threw my hands up and said "Whatever, I'm obviously out of the loop."

Art: 3.5
Story: 2.5
Overall: 2.5

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Bad Mojo

I thought it was appropriate that I read something such as Bad Mojo on Halloween. Since I didn't go out, I wanted to read something scary, but not from IDW :-) For some reason IDW's horror titles have been ok, but not spectacular. Anyhow, William Harms brings us a story of 3 men dealing with a witch's curse that was put on one of them.

The curse makes it so that one of the men dies during daylight but comes back to life at night. It's an interesting premise, but the whole tale doesn't really go anywhere. The story constantly switches back and forth between the present time and one week past, which doesn't detract from the story, per se, but only the scenes from a week past gel together into a cohesive section of plot. The present day narrative leaves a lot of stuff open and many different things feel thrown in just for the heck of it.

The other thing that didn't work for me was the ending--there isn't much of one. You're left thinking "that's it?" I didn't feel any closure whatsoever when I turned the last page over and no matter how good a story you have, if the ending sucks, then it really hurts the story as a whole.

The art, on the other hand, is quite good. It takes on a very realistic style and there is plenty of detail given with the gray shaded black and white art. If it wasn't for the wonderful art of this graphic novel, I feel it would have been a real waste.

Art: 3.75
Story: 3
Overall: 3