Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Super Real #1


Super Real. Five twenty-something people, picked for genetic enhancement, and given one million dollars, to find out what happens, when they become. . . Super Real. This is a graphic creation where comic book fiction and reality television collide. I promised Jason Martin a review on his newly released comic, so here's the best that I got!

About the story,
Super Real: The website has a pretty good collection of pictures and information on the premise of this comic, but I think you'll have to read #1 to have a good feel for what Super Real is. I had an epiphany, which I think explains the etymology of 'Super Real': super comes from superhero (a representation of traditional comic books), and real comes from reality, realistic, or reality television. Everything about Super Real is a perfect ying-yang blend of two worlds, comic books and reality television.

About the creator, Jason Martin: Here's a link to his
blog and his art website. Pretty cool stuff at both webpages. It's easy to see that Jason's really working hard to make this comic a success. One of the things you'll notice about the art is that much of it is drawn, but some of the scenery and background art seems to have been pulled from digital photos (using photoshop or something like that). Pretty cool, huh.

I also want to point out that the variant cover above is the product of
Josh Howard's artist prowess. Publishing lots of work with Viper Comics, he's gained a cult following with some of these titles: Dead@17, Black Harvest, and Hips & Crossbones. Keep an eye out for Clubbing, which is coming soon from DC.

Synopsis (with spoilage) and Review: I must say from the beginning, one of the things that Jason has done well with #1 is introducing the characters. Some comics have a difficult time with #1, because they can't mix character introductions and the plot well. Doing this takes serious weaving skills and Jason did that. He introduces each of the five contestants who are chosen to be on a new reality tv show by illustrating their reactions to a phone invitation to the reality show. You can read about each character, but there's the go-go dancer, the bodybuilder, the model, the aging clubkid, and the black sheep. Jason gets an A+ for character introductions and development.

I also liked the subtle humor in #1. For instance, there are these two execs talking about the show's premise and random tidbits of humor are just thrown out. I was dying when the short exec called Spiderman 2 a midget. The part about Real World is dead on, too. Just the other day, I was telling someone how stupid Real World has become. Back in the day, Real Worlders had jobs and stuff. Kevin was always coming in a weird hours, Puck was doing his bike routes, etc. Now, these guys just drink, party, hook-up, sleep, and do it all over again. I can't tell one episode from the next. Anyway, I digress. . .take my word for it: the conversation in #1 is funny. Period.

Jason has a great handle on culture and the quirky aspects of good ole' American entertainment. I'm excited about where this series is going. The plot and characters are well-crafted and there's enough anticipation to force readers into #2. Jason gave us a lot, but we actually didn't get the total idea of what Super Real, the show, will be like. Therefore. . .

RECOMMENDATION: Buy #2. Great work putting this together Mr. Martin. It's a fresh entrant into the comic book scene, and I like that. I just want to add one caveat, however--I like that this book is "matureness required." If for some reason, future episodes go "mature," I'll have to jump ship, but that's just the way I roll, as a personal preference. Anyway, keep up the fine work!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Goon #1 (25-cent issue)

The Goon has received critical acclaim from both the comic world (2005 Eisner Award Best Humor, 2005 Eisner Award Best Continuing Series) and the non-comic world (Entertainment Weekly Must-Have List), but I haven't read it yet. With October being the official Goon Month, Dark Horse Comics released the 25-cent edition of Goon #1 - consider it an incentive for the rest of us bums to get out and start reading this series. Here we are at the end of November and I finally broke down an purchased the 25-cent version. Here's my review....THWACK!!!.....in the jaw.

Preliminary Credits: I usually don't include a section like this, but I want to make sure and give credit to those sources of pictures and information. First, there's the definitive
Dark Horse Comics Goon Page. If you give it a sec to load, you'll be able to access Goon comics, books, products, downloads, shot glasses, and the PVC set. Also, there's The Official Website of Eric Powell & Goon Comics. I used these sites and my 25-cent copy to put together some of the material for this review.

About the creator,
Eric Powell: Powell has contributed work on the following comics: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Hellboy: Weird Tales, Star Wars Tales, The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, Black Panther, The Hood, Mad Magazine, and Arkham Asylum: Living Hell. The Goon is, thus far, his most notable and celebrated work.

Synopsis (with slight spoilage) and Review: I attached a short series for the reader's convenience. At first, I had to really dig into the strip to get a feel for the storyline. There are lots of names and things being thrown out there, so beginners won't be able to once-over this and feel comfy with the plot. About 1/3 of the way through, I started to get a feel for Powell's humor and wit, which is mingled with darkness and snippets of innuendo.

I included the preview shots from Dark Horse, which show up at the end of the 25-cent issue. "Halloween Hoodlums" is a 4-page story that will give you an idea of what the Goon is all about. Basically Goon, with his trusty sidekick Franky, run the town in a no-holds-barred, merciless fashion. For instance, Goon beat the hell out of a spider, named Spider, for being late on a $5 payment (Franky keeps all the tabs).

It seems that the story premise revolves around this undead priest, who runs a gang of zombies and dead soldiers. The zombie priest's gang grows in power to be second only to some guy named Labrazio. So the priest's mission is to find Labrazio and kill him because he wants to run the town. The beginning of the story shows the priest trying to get a decapitated zombie head to reveal the whereabouts of Labrazio (Goon decapitated and killed the zombie apparently because the zombie saw where Labrazio lived). Little does the priest know that his plot to find Labrazio will lead to an even more startling discovery. . . you can read about it.

My summary may not make much sense, but I don't think it'll make sense anyway unless you just go spend that measley 25 cents to read it yourself. I will say, that the art is fantastic. I was just ogling it, but maybe this is why I couldn't quite grasp the story. I don't know, but I felt like the storytelling was slightly convoluted. That's no biggie, though, because readers often need to go back and pick up on the subtleties of characters and stuff.

RECOMMENDATION: Are you serious? Buy it. Then I'd suggest going back and picking up one of the beginning trade papers. It might be difficult to pick up a real #1 or #2 (published back in 2003), so the trades will have to suffice.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Perhapanauts #1

"In Medias Res." For some of you, this series has been highly-anticipated; for the rest of you, this is a smart, engulfing storyline that you should read before reading any other books. While the title may put off a ska-band-esque vibe, there is no relation - I think The Perhapanauts will have something for all types of comic book readers.

About the author, Todd Dezago: You may be familiar with his work on Sensational Spider-man, Impulse, or Tellos. Many say that Todd created an amazingly fresh comic book universe in Tellos. I might add that this Perhapanauts stuff will likely do the same.

About the artist, Craig Rousseau: click on his name to see his zany website. I can't say more but that his artwork is eye candy. It's hard to not notice his capabilities in Perhapanauts when the first few pages give him the unfettered opportunity to tell the story (sans language). Work attributable to him shows up in Batman Beyond, Batman: Gotham Adventures, and Impulse.

Synopsis (some spoilage) and Review: I'm including a few pictures of #1 (copyrights to the respective owners, naturally, but thanks to Dark Horse for providing the previews and some background). Like I said, the first few pages of art tell the story, without having to tell the story. That takes mad artist-writer coordination skills, so props to Todd and Craig. Check out that character getting into an elevator leading to some underground facility. Conspiracy theory-style all the way. Is this not already unique enough to keep you coming back for more? Should be, but let's go on.

The overall concept goes like this. BEDLAM, short for Bureau of Extra-Dimensional Liabilities and Management, is an organization hidden from this world. There are places in the world where the fabric of reality has worn thin, where creatures from other realms and bizarre beings from other dimensions slip into earthly reality. But the BEDLAM agents are skilled in the likes of returning these creatures and beings back to their respective dimensions and repairing worn fabrics of reality: these agents are called the Perhapanauts.

So the Janitor starts explaining the concept of what agents do and who the agents are by relating a recent incident with a bizarre being. I'll let you read the material on each character, 'cause I don't want to ruin that for you, but I have a feeling there's at least one character in the bunch that everyone is sure to bond with. To the boys at Team Perhapanauts, I must say that Choopie is icing on the cake!

Now, without ruining the punchline, the Perhapanauts seem to succeed at their task, but something aweful happens. . .at which point, the comic ends with "Next Issue: The New Perhapanauts." I'm interested in what's going on there; I just hope we haven't seen the end of those characters that were introduced. Regardless, I'm hooked. Now, I will say that I'd like to know a little more about the guy in the black suit - Who is he? Is he a new Perhapanaut? What's his background? Etc. . . but I'm sure that's here to come.

RECOMMENDATION: Buy #2. This comic oozes with originality, action, and anticipation. You'll read #1 and ask for more. . . I guarantee it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wraithborn #1


"In the Beginning." With Wraithborn #3 coming out this week, I figured I should get on the ball and post my review quick. The boys at Titan Comics - my favorite Dallas comic shop - recommended that I take a peep at this newbie. This isn't a shameless plug either, because I don't get anything in return. In all honesty, I dig Titan's clean store and helpful employees. Anyway, I like the potential of Wraithborn #1, here I go. . .

About the mini-series, Wraithborn: This is a Wildstorm Signature Series (DC) production with 6 total issues. Here's the premise: Long ago, there were Immortals that ruled the world in chaotic havoc and destruction until they were defeated by the Wraithborn. Over time, mankind has forgotten about the Wraithborn saviors, nevertheless the Wraithborn have been on the watch for over a millenium. By some crisis, the Wraithborn powers were unexpectedly passed on to a shy high school girl. The catch? She has to learn to wield the powers quickly as the Immortals are on the hunt for her.

About the authors, Joe Benitez and Marcia Chen: You'll know Benitez from such things as Magdalena, The Darkness, Weapon Zero, and Strykerforce. Chen's work is featured in Magdalena and Ascension.

About the artist, Joe Weems (and Benitez): Weems's work appears in the following productions: Hunter Killer, Magdalena, Fathom, and Hulk: The End #1. I must say that the artwork in #1 is fantastic. I downloaded a copy of #1's artwork pdf-style onto my computer. Very nice work!

Synopsis (with spoilage) and Review: We get two images of the heroin of Wraithborn #1. The story starts out with the tough, fearless, bad-a** Wraithborn. Seemingly, the Immortals are powerless unless someone "invites them in," and when that happens, she has to deal with the consequences (the Immortals take possession of the mortal's body). Wraithborn seems to have a terrible past; the story alludes the total loss of her family and friends as a result of some foolish mistake.

Then the story switches to Melanie Moore--an ordinary teenage girl cooking breakfast for her dad (to lower his cholesterol) so he won't go out and buy crap on the way to work. It's apparent that Melanie's starved for fatherly attention and affection. At school she's not that great at sports and the other girls are hard on her. But she has a conscious for helping out other people. She sweet and caring, nerdy and likable. As the story progresses, it starts to become clear why she is the way she is. . . then the plot begins to unravel as to why Melanie became Wraithborn.

The end of the story is very encouraging, at least for not being a self-contained story. There's enough information to either like or dislike Melanie as a character. I liked the character development and background. The writers did a good job letting the reader into the mind of Melanie (as a teenager and as the new Wraithborn), as well. So there is satisfactory closure for this issue, but there's also enough suspense in the last scene to keep me coming back for more.

Melanie's responsibility is to find Valin. While the reader isn't left hanging at the end of #1, the story builds up enough curiosity for #2 via the discussion about some new guy, Valin. The Wraithborn website speaks about Valin, and how he's going to be a primary character in the story.

Recommendation: Buy #2. I really like the premise of this story; it totally sucked me in. If you're stuck, it's a 6-issue mini-series, so there's not a huge investment (at least read #1).

Monday, November 21, 2005

All-Star Superman #1


Doomed Planet. Desperate Scientists. Last Hope. Kindly Couple. Enter, the majestic two-page spread of Superman. I know my blog is not about reviewing the superhero-type comics, but when I first saw the cover to Superman #1, I knew it was a match made in heaven. I am a sucker for good cover art--seriously, I'll make the decision to buy based solely on the look of the cover. I do it with books, too. Usually, the artwork is a pretty good indicator of the overall quality from cover-to-cover. This first edition is no exception.

About the author, Grant Morrison: be careful when you visit this website, it's like looking directly into the sun. Morrison has an amazing rap sheet including an inexhaustible list of the following greats: Batman: Arkham Asylum, Doom Patrol, The Filth, The Invisibles, Kill Your Boyfriend, and New X-Men.

About the artist, Frank Quitely: Quitely's rap sheet is equally as impressive with art appearing in some fashion or another in the following titles: JLA: Earth, Authority, The Greens, Blackheart, Missionary Man, Shimura, Inaba, The Kingdom: Offspring, Judge Dredd, Fleetway, Batman: The Scottish Connection, The Sandman, Flex Mantallo, Captain America, and The New X-Men. Whew...barely in one breath!

Superman MajesticSynopsis (with spoilage) and Review: Like I said, I'm a beginner to the superhero stuff, so I can't rattle off a historiography on how Superman has been portrayed since the character's inception. However, I was surprised, and impressed, with the modern vibe of this story. For instance, there is this weird "genetically modified suicide bomb in human form," disrupting a philanthropist's quest to "map the sun." Interesting modification to the scary modern day concept of suicide bombers.

Lex Luther is working for the government, but he seems to have a different agenda in trying to destroy Superman. Superman develops a new power--the ability to create a bioelectric field of protection, but unfortunately, Superman's cells were damaged (super-saturated with solar radiation) by the sun. Which means he's slowly dying. The issue closes with Lex Luther being arrested for crimes against humanity and Clark Kent exposing his alter ego to Lois, in the public streets before her apartment.

I didn't understand two things about Clark revealing his identity so early. First, in the movies, I always felt like there was this annoying tension created by desperately wanting Clark to tell Lois that he is Superman. People want that fanciful, romantic ending, but here, his identity has already been revealed. Second, why in the street? Why not in her apartment?

I like that something other than a kryptonite crystal is the bane of Superman's existence. The modern feel of the story is intriguing. It will be interesting to read the unfolding drama related to finding a genetic anti-dote to Superman's cell degeneration and to Lex Luther's jealousy of Superman.

Recommendation: Buy #2. This is a classic. Go buy the first edition and encapsulate it for your kids 30 in the future. I'm excited about this story.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Fell #1


"My new home. I think maybe a lot of people killed themselves here." This comic exudes that grainy, seedy, criminal feel typical to movies such as Saw, Seven, and the Crow. Fell is the new detective in Snowtown, and it looks like he's gonna be the only one to shape it up. This series is published by Image Comics, and I've got a lot to say about it, so dig in 'til the end.

About the author, Warren Ellis: You know him from my review in Jack Cross #1, so I'll cut and paste his info. Here's a link to the stuff he's worked on from 1982 to 2004; but recently, his projects include the following: Transmetropolitan, Desolation Jones, Planetary, and Jack Cross (to name very few). Ellis is a distinguished writer for comic books, graphic novels, video games, animation, books, screenplays, TV, etc. He says he's kept standing purely by Red Bull, cigarettes, and a cane.

About the artist, Ben Templesmith: His website has some great samples of what the art is going to look like. Also, J.D. Lombardi's thorough review includes 5 preview pages of artwork from Fell #1. Templesmith's artwork appears in the following publications: 30 Days of Night, Singularity 7, Star Wars, Army of Darkness, Silent Hill, and Buffy: The Vampire (non-exhaustive list). Much of this art is rather dark, which I don't much care for, but don't let my interests persuade you that Ben isn't talented. Much to the contrary.

Synopsis (without a Spoiler) and Review: On the front cover, you see Detective Fell and the Snowtown tag. Basically, you put the tag up in various places as a sign that you belong to Snowtown--it's what the bartender in the story calls "protective magic." Fell, hasn't even moved into his dumpy apartment when he sees a dead drunk being carted out of the building black-body-bag-style. You get the feeling that death is common in Snowtown. Fell then finds himself working in a precinct with 3 1/2 other detectives (one has no legs), and basically, he has carte blanche to do whatever he wants to: he can work alone. By the end of issue #1, Fell's chasing the facts back to the reason why the drunk in his building was dead...you read to find out.

There are three things I like about this series: the Snowtown tag, $1.99 price tag with a self-contained story, and the subtle humor. First, I already told you about the tag. I like how it ties the reader to the mysteries of this terrible city. Very creative storytelling. Second, this is a quality production for being only $1.99. Ellis and Templesmith want to give the readers big bang for a buck ninety-nine. The art is great, the writing flows naturally, and the story is self-contained. Just right for cost-conscious readers. Third, there are hidden tidbits of humor. Read #1 and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Recommendation: If you're into dark, gritty crime stories, you'll love this quality production, so buy #2. Unfortunately, I can't recommend this and feel good, because personally, I don't get into this type of stuff (7even-CSI-Saw-type stuff). But I know there are tons of readers out there that do, so enjoy. At the very least, one issue is well-worth the experimental read at a rich $1.99.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Aeon Flux #1


We've all heard about this and my question is, "Am I the only one who can't figure out what the hell this story is all about?" Well, I can't. Even after reading Aeon Flux #1, I couldn't quite make out what this story is about. Let's give it a review and see if there's any justification to the hype (and by the way, this is a timed release building up to the movie with Charlize Theron).

This series is published by Dark Horse Comics, which has some pretty cool comic book offerings (i.e., Conan, Star Wars, The Goon, and Serenity). Pretty soon, I'd like to post a review of the 25 cent Goon edition.

About the author, Mike Kennedy: Here's a list of some of the major stuff Kennedy has worked on: Superman (Infinite City), Lone Wolf 2100, Star Wars (Underworld and Qui-Gon), Ghost and Ghost/Batgirl, Alien vs Predator, and Dead to Rights. Pretty sweet arsenal of titles, huh. I might add that Kennedy has a nice website and will autograph some stuff bought through his web-store (click link under his name).

About the art, Timothy Green II: I love this guy's stuff. The art in Aeon Flux is vibrant and telling. Purchase #1 for the art alone, if you ask me. I really like some of the work from his upcoming project Leitmotiv. Some of his other published stuff surfaces up in the following: Snake Juggler, Star Wars and Star War miniatures, SYN, Fraction, and Swamp Thing.

My first impression: Well, what in the heck is this all about? I had to go back and re-read the story to get a better feel for it. So first, Green's showing us the picturesque society of the City of Bregna. "Life is Perfect." But only 59 out of 60 minutes are spent in "blissful civility." The remaining minute is spent adjusting from the noise created by the defoliant cannons. Makes sense right?

Then we have about 8-9 pages of good comic art and small sound effects. Maybe a word here and there. Sidney (Theron) has worked her way into a leaflet factory and manages to blow up the place unscathed from scattered gatlin gun fire. To be precise, 4,863,992 destroyed fliers and 24 dead people. The leaflet factory seems to be a propaganda publisher for the totalitarian government.

Sidney is one of the so called Monican Terrorists. Society is starting to get restless with the constant barrage of defoliant cannons, so the government is working on a chemical defoliant to thwart the "jungle." The gist is that the chemical neuters (might as well say "castrates") the jungle, the jungle loses its ability to reproduce, and then the totalitarian government extends the walls of its empire. Classic imperialistic symbolism. The problem is that the chemical destroys all organic matter, and they are trying to alter it to target the worst of the jungle.

If they can wipe out the jungle, the government can divert more resources to quelling the Monican Rebellion. As part of a Monican monitoring initiative, there is an unknown operative being released into society.

Sidney returns to her place to find "Handler," whom I suppose is her boss. The Handler brings some he/she midget named "Gug." (By the way, is this making sense?) The Handler tasks Sidney to acquire a sample of the chemical defoliant and train a new partner (could this partner be the same operative being released into society to monitor the Monicans? Probably, but this issue doesn't say.) So the new partner is named Sithandra. "To be continued..."

So this is a story with mass-MTV-generated appeal. I'm not a big fan of it, but I think these guys did a good job with what they had. The dialogue is back-loaded, however. When you get to the dialogue, the story slows down big-time and dumploads all the information. And when I say "all the information," there's still a little missing so you'll have to work hard to figure out what the deal is. The story is, of course, not self-contained, but it's only a 4-part series, so the enthusiasts, at the very least, should be able to see it through to the end.

RECOMMENDATION: Not buy #2. For me, I only buy because I like the art-work, but I'm not realy into this kind of plot. For those of you that are, it'll be a good read.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Jack Cross #1



"Love Will Get You Killed." Holy crap...He seriously just shot that guy's finger off! Jack's freaking nuts! This was my first gut reaction and I'm gonna tell you about this sweet series. If you can't tell, my enthusiasm for this one is telegraphing my recommendation: buy #2.

Any 24 fans out there? Remember when Jack Bauer cut that guy's hand off to get the bomb off his arm? That's the kind of action and suspense we're seeing with this new arc, Jack Cross. So who's on the job with this explosive new series?

About the author and creator, Warren Ellis: Enough said, you know this guy. Here's a link to the stuff he's worked on from 1982 to 2004; but recently, his projects include the following: Transmetropolitan, Desolation Jones, Planetary, and Fell (to name very few). Ellis is a distinguished writer for comic books, graphic novels, video games, animation, books, screenplays, TV, etc. He says he's kept standing purely by red bull, cigarettes, and a cane.

About the artist, Gary Erskine: The bibliography on Erskine's webpage provides a laundry list of projects he's worked on, such as Transformers, Judge Dredd, The Authority, Hellblazer, etc.

My first impression: Well, I already told you. I was taken in by the story big-time. The crappy thing about comics that aren't self-contained (read: almost all of them), is that you have to keep buying to get some closure. But with proliferation of self-contained story lines, you can collect as you have the cashola. Here, this is not the case, but the story arc is only 4 issues long. Just buy the whole set. I'm wrapped up enough to not care about the US $2.50.

To start off, Jack and his team of 3 open up their uzis on an apartment room of guys sitting around eating pizza. They recover some package and "sanitize the location" by blowing up the bottom floor of a building and any cars in the nearby radius. Basically, we get the feeling that Jack's a bad dude working for pretty powerful people. Actually, we soon read that he's doing these independent contractor-type work orders from the National Security Council.

So, Jack's relaxing on the beach of San Francisco when some lady friend smooches him and recruits him for some new project. This time, he gets $2 million and 3 more years of total freedom and nonexistence. Jack's got some history and Ellis is clever enough to insinuate through the minutia of details that he's trying to get out of this line of work (or at least that it is starting to get to him). The project is to extract information from some non-talker in the interrogation room.

Jack's an amazing interrogator, and he can read the small details. Like the ring that this dude is fiddling with. Jack can tell from the eye shifting that this guy is trained to resist interrogation techniques, and even some torture. Jack appeals to this guys emotion and shoots off the guy's ring finger saying, "You'll never be able to hold her again!" So every ten minutes, Jack's gonna cut off a finger until this CIA guy starts talking about what's going on. Jack takes a smoke and goes back in. Again, one more finger. But there's no information yet. The final scene shows Jack huddled up on the ground in the restroom...."To Be Continued."

Sure, this is the classic CIA-FBI-NSA-NSC-White House-ATF-security information-disaster-type stuff, but it's got a nice pace. I like the art well enough, but I would like a little more polish in the facial expressions. Sometimes, it's hard to tell which emotion Jack has - fear or confidence. Also, interestingly enough, there's a little tension by using the interrogation torture material. This is a big US debate right now with the Iraq thing, so the question is...do we need people like Jack to do the dirty work?

RECOMMENDATION: Read #2. I wanna get some more of this story line, and it's only $2.50.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Corporate Ninja #1


"Corporate Ninja! #1" is a November 2005 release that has received mixed reviews. Amidst ambivalent reader responses, Ichiban Sensei has decided to take a gander at what looks to be a promising, humorous read. Here's the link to the press release at Silver Bullet Comics (fairly standard hype for any type of promotion); here's the link to mixed reviews at Comixfan.com Forums (while negative, a thoughtful review). Slave Labor Graphics Publishing (SLG) is behind this new series.

About the author and artist, Matt Mocarski: Well, there's not much out there on him. I can tell you what his goals are with this story, though: (1) he's going to try to make people laugh, because that's what he loves to do; (2) he's not going to grind readers into purchasing #2, #3, etc., and is committed to making each story self-contained; and (3) he's really telling a story about being frustrated with your career. Okay, Matt, those are some pretty noble aspirations, and I dig that, let's see how you did...

My first impression: The artwork is amazing! But wait a sec........Did he really decapitate that baby?..........Yep, I guess he did?!.......How do I feel about that?...........Anyhow, here's my review.

For those jaded souls of the business world, there are a few themes that you will feel comfortable with, so I'll just throw out some concepts that are touched on in #1. Tireless loyalty to worthless memos. The good old boy network and leaders (CEOs) that have no expertise in the core business. Momentary heroes that can't stay standing up for a cause that they promised to stand up for. Companies endlessly pushing products that don't have the consumer in mind. Illogical solutions to common business problems. The list goes on and on.

The humor is subtle in places so some of you just won't get it. For instance, one of the board members criticizes the intern submitting a memo saying, "The man has a striped tie for christsakes!!" Get it? Striped ties don't fly in old school business. Okay, here's another. In order to understand the female consumer, the board goes shopping for girl stuff. While holding a dinky tank-top, one says to the other, "Don't you just love this top?" "Oh my God! It'll look great on you." "I know and it's on sale for only $200!" Get it? Females think anything with "sale" on it is a good price. These jokes are pretty standard, nothing new and exciting.

Basically, the humor doesn't really go that far with me, but I think there are people out there that will like it. Going on in the story, the Blue Fish company is having a hard time marketing blue fish to the female consumer. Unexpectedly, Corporate Ninja joins the story by slicing the intern in half. In short, after a major battle royale with the female consumer, he forces her to buy the blue fish. (Query: why didn't he decapitate her, too?) Anyway, there's good ninja artwork in these scenes, and the issue ends with Corporate Ninja saving the day for the big business.

My recommendation: Probably won't buy #2. Why? I must admit that I loved the art. Point blank, Matt's a real talent, but I really didn't get into the humor and story that much. I might give the next issue a shot to see if my taste has changed a little bit, but if my budget is stretched, I'm moving on to some other series.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

LOCAL #1 (Portland, Oregon)

LOCAL #1 Cover
"Ten Thousand Thoughts Per Second." This is the first in a series published by Oni Press. We can thank writer Brian Wood, artist Ryan Kelly, and editor James Lucas Jones for this unique production (lettering by Hope Larson and Bryan Lee O'Malley).

About the story, LOCAL: In Brian Wood's words, LOCAL "is a series of short stories about people and the places they live in...the location can't be the story, though." LOCAL will move from place-to-place, and in fact, #2 is set in Minneapolis, Minnesota ("Polaroid Boyfriend") and #3 is set in Richmond, Virginia ("Theories and Defenses"). The first issue starts in 1994, with each subsequent issue about one year later, and we can expect to see Megan McKeenan in each issue--as either a main or background character. By issue #12, Megan, who starts out as a 17-year old, will be about 30 years old.

About the artist, Ryan Kelly: Editor James Lucas and Brian wanted the right person for the job, and one day, Brian's eye caught Giant Robot Warriors, which features the art of Ryan Kelly. Simply put, Brian needed a top-notch artist that could pump out a monthly comic. LOCAL #1 is in black and white, and it also includes some great features on the art progression for LOCAL #1 and LOCAL #2.

About the writer, Brian Wood: Put plainly, Brian is one of the best. Just go look at his stuff, if you don't already know of him. If you click his name and go to his website, you'll see an enormous list of his works that include the following: DMZ, DEMO, THE COURIERS, CHANNEL ZERO, and FIGHT FOR TOMORROW, etc. Enough said.

My first impression: So it is clear that there is a strong cast putting together LOCAL. I'm allowed one blanket statement per review, so here it goes: Megan is a fantastic character to build this series on. In the art, there are interesting and smart details that you can't avoid like the clock (3:00, 3:02, 4:00, etc.) and the car (with a bumper sticker saying "my daughter is an HONOR student"). I'm not going to tell the end of the story, but Megan is in the car with some jerk that is trying to get her to fill a forged prescription for diamorphine. We see, in amazing detail, Megan going through several different options of what to do, and then we see the final decision. I love that each episode will be self-contained--thanks for the finality.

I want to lay it down in two areas: First, there are a few f-bombs, so youngsters beware. Second, if we are going to see more of Megan, let's get some deeper character development in the coming episodes. It's not like I didn't get it in the first episode, because I did, but I'd like to know more about what makes her tick as a character. And p.s., is there any way to fit in Dallas, Texas? Just asking...

RECOMMENDATION: Subscribe and buy #2. This's a must read series.




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