Category Archives: review

Review: The Boys #58

Writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson have added yet another spectacularly sordid chapter to their uber-violent/hyper-sexual brainchild that is, “The Boys” from Dynamite Comics.  The Boys # 58 plays out like a great undercard match to a UFC title fight. It builds anticipation, throws a couple of surprise punches and gets the audience drooling, howling and screaming for the main event.

If you haven’t gotten around to reading The Boys yet, and shame on you if you haven’t, let me give you a quick skinny on what the series is about:  The Boys follows a secret group of government agents (Billy Butcher, Wee Hughie, Mother’s Milk, The Frenchman and The Female) as they investigate, arrest, humiliate or just outright kill the perverted, abusive deviants that pass as superheroes in their world.

The latest issue from the depraved duo sets up what might (hopefully) be the biggest fight in The Boys history: The Boys versus The Seven (who are basically twisted versions of the Justice League)! Issue # 58 is part three of an arc (“The Big Ride”) in which a returned and rededicated Hughie  and his “big brother-type” Butcher investigate the murder of a transexual sex worker in a superhero-frequented bordello.   As all evidence points to an obvious suspect (Jack from Jupiter; a powerful alien who enjoys being gang-banged by a room full of chicks-with-dicks) Hughie and Butcher remain reluctant to accept what looks like an open-and-shut case.  Unfortunately for them, the video of Jack verbally berating tranny prostitutes as they train-wreck him from behind is released to the media causing The Seven to confront The Boys on the roof of their headquarters in Times Square.

Ennis’ writing on The Boys has never backed down from its debased, tongue-in-cheek charm that made it an instant hit when it was released in 2006 and issue # 58 is no exception. What I enjoyed about this issue was that it gets the reader revved up for the possible confrontation that may come in the next issue with the great cliff-hanger ending.

Of course Robertson’s artwork is as usual up to par. Though I’ve never been a huge fan of his almost cartoony-style superhero art, Robertson’s hilarious depictions of said superheroes’ pevertedness is so perfectly fit for the series that I couldn’t imagine anyone else drawing it. His face work is priceless and really tells half of the story.

All that being said The Boys # 58 is definitely worth a pick-up even if it is somewhat of a pedestrian issue. Overall The Boys is much more lighthearted than Ennis’ other work (which includes Preacher, Wormwood, and Crossed) balancing the violent scenes with awesome back-and-forth banter between the twisted characters on both sides of the fence. In short, The Boys is worth the pick up almost every month especially if your looking to spice up your steady diet of superhero with something a little bit more superhero/indy.

Reviewed by Nick Santos

Review: The Mighty Thor #2

Usually I don’t agree with the Marvel Comics’ tactics when it comes to their absurd numbering schemes.  It seems that whenever given a chance, whether it be a new movie (like this summer’s blockbuster hit Thor), a milestone number (Captain America # 600) or seemingly for no reason at all (this past month’s Moon Knight # 1) the publishing giant has not been to shy to pull the trigger on changing the number of a current series as if to say, “What the heck? Nobody looks at the number anyway!” The changes in tone and style in the new The Mighty Thor book however make the change in numbering (Thor rebooted last month keeping the original numbering with new/really old title Journey into Mystery) actually almost, almost make sense.

The Mighty Thor # 2, from comic scribe extraordinaire Matt Fraction (Uncanny X-Men) and recurring Thor artist Olivier Coipel (House of M), is another fantastic addition to the mythical/sci-fi fusion-styled issues that Fraction has penned since joining the series in Thor # 615 (September, 2010).

The issue starts off with a fantastic, yet nonsensical training exercise where Thor unleashes a giant rock colossus on the rag-tag, newly formed Brigade of Realms.  The Brigade of Realms, which consists of refugee warriors from the Nine Realms and child-Loki (who will henceforth be referred to as lil Loki), proceed to fight the stone beast for about five seconds before papa Thor gets bored and destroys the thing himself.  Not much depth to the fight, but I’ll be damned if the art work wasn’t cool as bones.  Then we proceed to get a cool little scene with Odin and Heimdall which begs the question, “Has Odin always been this much of a dick?  Or did somebody just wake him up in the wrong cycle of his Odin-Sleep?”  My bet is on the latter.

Finally, about half way through the issue, we get to the Silver Surfer which was where, inquisitive minds will remember, we left of with at the end of The Mighty Thor # 1. The Surfer cruises around Broxton, Oklahoma (the U.S. home of Earth-Asgard) messing fools up and breaking windows and eventually gets to the Asgardian ruins to deliver to Odin Galactus’ old-school WWF-style ultimatum.  All pretty cool stuff.

The action of this issue is pretty well paced, except for the fact that we don’t get to the Silver Surfer part until the end of the issue (dang, for a guy who can fly through the cosmos at light speed dude sure takes his time getting around on Earth).  Sure the fight with the rock colossus at the beginning doesn’t really make any sense, but who cares?  The people crave blood!  And I’m sure that a creative mind like Fraction’s isn’t going to give us something that has no bearing on the story moving forward. At any rate, Coipel’s beautiful artwork makes reading the book, even if you’re just going to look at the pictures as I occasionally do,  totally worth it.

The Surfer scene also played out very nicely.  The confrontation between Odin and the Silver Surfer had all the anticipation of a heavyweight bout and sets the ground for the battle between the eye-patched All-Father and the foreboding Devourer of Worlds.  Of course, in the midst of all this shit talk, Thor—notorious hothead and Australian Dancing With The Stars finalist (oh wait, that’s the movie Thor)—was not just going to stand idly by while the king of the gods was being talked down to by a naked glittery errand boy.  So the sucker punch that Thor delivers at the end of the issue shouldn’t surprise anybody but does thoroughly get the blood pumping for the melee that should ensue in The Mighty Thor # 3.

If there is one thing I can complain about with Fraction’s Thor run however, it’s that he takes way too long to get to the bloody action!  In the previous “World Eaters” storyline (Thor # 618 – 621) I don’t think the bad guys even showed up until two or three issues in.  Plus when they did show up they kind of got punked.  Poor show World Eaters, poor show.  I believe in building the anticipation but I don’t think, in that case anyway, that the fight scene was epic enough to pay-off the setting-up of the confrontation.  In any case, this fight IS about to kick off, (I can feel it in my junk), and it should be a hoot.  I’ve honestly never, ever, wondered what a fight between Odin and Galactus might turn out.  But now that Fraction has opened my mind to this awesomely foreign concept I find myself tingling with anticipation.  And before you ask, no, not in my junk.

Review: FF #1

Johnny Storm is dead.  Long live… Spider-Man and Doctor Doom?! The death of Johnny Storm, a.k.a. The Human Torch in Fantastic Four # 587 has presumably brought the end of the Fantastic Four book, at least in number (let’s see how long that lasts), and leaves the future wide open for the newly formed Future Foundation in FF # 1.  Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Steve Epting (the same guys that killed The Human Torch in the historic story-arc “Three”) usher in a new era in the Fantastic Four continuity which should please anyone that has been following Hickman and Epting’s recent run on the book.

Marvel’s first family finds themselves in disarray following not only the death of a founding and charismatic member but a total change in the status quo for the surviving members.  Susan Richards, a.k.a. The Invisible Woman, finds herself the unlikely monarch of a forgotten race of freaky, underwater ugly-peoples that even Namor, the king of Atlantis, doesn’t want to protect.  Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic has to deal with his equally obnoxious father who has recently returned from the far future (“daddy issues” anyone?) and what I presume will be the return of the Council of Reeds.  And Ben Grimm, a.k.a. The Thing is dealing with the emotional guilt of knowing that Johnny Storm sacrificed himself for Ben juuuust as he was returning to rock form (see the ending of FF # 587).
So who will pull the FF out of it’s funk?  As we find out in the beginning of FF # 1, Spider-Man is given the illustrious invite into Marvel’s royal family at the behest of the deceased Human Torch, (who somehow had the foresight to leave a hologram video will).  If the multiple covers are any indication however, Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman progenies Franklin and Valeria Richards will also play major roles in the new FF book as will none other than longtime nemesis Doctor Doom.  Yes, that’s right, a bad guy is now a good guy.  Why? Because Marvel said so… now finish your vegetables.
FF # 1 sets a new tone for the Future Foundation which takes a decidedly more proactive approach to bettering the world than the butt-kickery of the original FF group.  Hickman’s storytelling has always been more geared toward heady science fiction rather than senseless violence, (just read his run on S.H.I.E.L.D. for further proof), so this new direction pretty much just picks up where his Fantastic Four run left off.
For me this raises some logistical issues like foremost, what about The Thing?  Sure the additions of Spider-Man and Dr. Doom make sense when you consider that they are joining an impressive think tank that now includes Mr. Fantastic and his uber-smart father Nathan, but where does this leave Ben Grimm?  I mean let’s face it, he’s always just been the muscle but at least in the past he had Johnny to hang out and be dumb with.  Now what’s he going to do? Even the kids are smarter than him.  Maybe that’s why he’s so sad in FF # 1?

Hickman and Epting have also given the team an aesthetic overhaul outfitting them in stylish, Stanley Kubrick-esque white-and-black outfits.  Which, I’m not sure I’m entirely on board for.  There’s a reason why if you look at their outfits in Fantastic Four # 587 and compare them to the ones they wore in Fantastic Four # 3 (when the team actually started wearing uniforms) there would be little difference.  It’s because you don’t mess with a classic.  So to take that team and give them a completely new look with a completely new logo is a very bold step.  Especially if, as Hickman had been hinting prior to the “Three” arc, this change in the Fantastic Four’s direction really is “permanent.”  Which in the comic book world means it could last anywhere from one to five years.
Personally I like the new logo, the three hexagons, much better than if they just replaced the old “four” with a “three.” It represents change – a bold, refreshing, new direction for Marvel’s first team.  What’s more, this change doesn’t seem to come out of some inane desire to make the team more “hip” and improve their marketing in lieu of a possible new movie. It actually serves a purpose both dramatically and thematically.  As for the story, expect more of the same of what Hickman has been delivering the past year, which has been nothing short of fantastic… no pun intended.  Either way, for Fantastic Four fans and fans of science fiction comic bookery, FF is definitely a book to keep your eye on.

Review: War of The Green Lanterns (1 – 2)

If the last year of Lantern-related books have left you feeling like an alcoholic trying to shake a massive “Blackest Night” hangover then rejoice my brethren… and sisteren, for the party has started anew. The double dose of Green Lantern # 64 (Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke) and Green Lantern Corps # 58 (Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkham) are the proverbial first beer-and-shot combo of the night for the well-teased GL event of the season, “War of the Green Lanterns.” Fans can rest assured that a steady diet of ring-slinging, OA-shattering, construct-battle madness will now commence.

“War of the Green Lanterns” feels very much like a sequel to last year’s DC Universe-encompassing event Blackest Night, also brought to us by writer extraordinaire Geoff Johns. Although the massive amounts of exposition in GL # 64 attempts to bring new readers up to speed I can’t imagine anyone who hasn’t read “The Sinestro War,” “Blackest Night,” and the previous sixty three issues of Green Lantern to have any idea whatsoever of what’s happening in the book. In all honesty though, if you haven’t been reading Green Lantern then you probably deserve it. Shame, shame I say. Johns’ teaser-heavy approach to event storytelling however is good news for the rest of us as it means that he wastes little time on boring setup and proceeds to blast us right in the mouth with good old-fashioned space violence.

“War of the Green Lanterns” kicks off when old/new foe (hooray for retconned storylines) Krona, the renegade guardian, promptly bitch-slaps the actual Guardians and literally blows up the spot with the recently-captured (and way too easily controlled) entities of emotion. Krona then proceeds to reinsert Parallax the entity of Fear (no not Hal Jordan, the freaky yellow insect-thingy, remember? Retcon! Retcon!) into the Green Lantern central battery effectively putting the rest of the Green Lanterns under his control.

A few things about this issue – although I enjoyed the opening of “War” and think that Johns has again done a masterful job setting up another crazy-ass Green Lantern event, there was one thing that really bothered me. GL # 64 begins with the Guardians issuing a warrant for the arrest of Hal Jordan on charges of teaming up with Atrocitus and Sinestro behind their backs. But come on! Jordan’s done way worse than that in the past. For OA’s sake, in the 90’s he single-handedly destroyed the corps and killed the lame-ass Guardians and now they want to arrest him for what is at best a GL misdemeanor? Why are the Guardians such crusty little assholes? I actually cheered when Krona tore, previously-unnamed Guardian Hepura’s jaw off and possessed the rest of the council with his entities. In Green Lantern Corps # 58 writer Tony Bedard continues part two of “War” with the story of Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, and former lame-ass Guardian Ganthet as the rest of the Corps goes all yellow-eyed and mind-controlled. Although action-packed, I found this issue so exposition-heavy that I actually fell asleep not once but twice. HOWEVER, for the sake of dorkism, I powered through. Alas it had it’s high points, most notably when Ganthet’s power ring blows up his hand (more Guardian mutiliation please) and the increasingly-annoying Alpha Lanterns were found decommissioned and floating in space (whew at least we don’t have to listen to their boring robot-talk).

All-in-all this was a pretty good start to the “War of the Green Lanterns.” It set the stakes for the event and stacks the chips against Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, and presumably Guy Gardner, although we won’t find that last part out until Emerald Warriors # 8 comes out next week. I recommend Green Lantern # 64 to any GL fan, and Green Lantern Corps # 58 to John Stewart and Kyle Rayner fans only. But new fans be wary, if you are looking to jump into the Green Lantern books, then you better spend some time catching up. Or at the very least visit the Wikipedia page, yes it exists. As for the GL regulars, let’s hope the rest of “War of the Green Lanterns” lives up to the hype. And I, personally, will keep my fingers crossed that maybe, just maybe those asshole Guardians will actually die for real this time.

Review: Venom #1

Review by Nick Santos

Here’s a question — What has two thumbs, an insatiable appetite for human body parts, and a sleek black spandex suit with tendrils? Awww, that’s right bitches Venom is back! After an almost six-year hiatus from solo books, Marvel has finally decided to bring back the only thing on Earth with a tongue longer than Gene Simmons. Venom # 1 however is not a  simple regurgitation of the Venom character that we’ve been seeing since it’s original appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man # 252 (January, 1984). Writer Rick Remender (Fear Agent) and artist Tony Moore (The Walking Dead) deliver the story of the newly-revamped Venom character in a way that comic book fans have never seen the character before.

If you missed The Amazing Spider-Man # 654.1 (most likely because it was part of Marvel’s completely inane Point-One campaign) then nuts to you because you missed a beautifully put together origin story of the –SPOILER ALERT– Eugene “Flash” Thompson Venom incarnation. Wait, what? Flash Thompson? Venom? Isn’t Flash that dude in the wheelchair that used to pick on Peter Parker in high school? Eat it sucker, that’s what you get for judging Marvel for their dumb ass marketing campaigns… the nerve. Anywho, it doesn’t make any difference I suppose because if you are lazy, like moi, you could have just as easily read the intro page to Venom # 1 to get the lowdown, but… what fun is that?

The new Venom series follows Flash, our beloved war-hero and poster boy for dudes in wheelchairs who still have amazing upper bodies as he engages on military-funded missions via the Venom symbiote. Referred to by some as the “Black-Ops Venom” this new incarnation lives up to it’s moniker in the first issue. Dropped into the fictitious eastern European country of  Nrovekistan (yeah I Google-mapped it. Big whoop, wanna fight about it?) the new Venom is tasked with capturing a scientist who has found a way to weaponize Antarctic Vibranium. Of course the scientist, in true evil genius fashion, is raging all over those poor Nrovekistanians with a vibranium tank and raising the kind of hell that only eastern European countries seem to catch in comic books. Just to make things interesting, Remender adds some dude named Jack-O-Lantern into the mix who is working at the behest of a mystery villain/arms dealer/staunch anarchist. But I digress, for surely that is a plot point that will play out in the first arcs of the new series.

The new Venom is interesting in a lot of different ways. First off, there is the military factor, which actually is not all that engaging except for the fact that they control how much time Flash is allowed to spend bonded with the symbiote. This is the coolest thing about the new Venom as it completely changes the dynamic that the previous Venoms all shared. In older incarnations, the symbiote has always (except in the case of Peter Parker) been willingly accepted by its host. With Flash however, the symbiote is more of a means-to-an-end, although surely the symbiote will play a part in this drama later in the book as foreshadowed by Remender. In lieu of this new dynamic, the first issue also introduces fans to Flash’s oft-forgotten bouts with alcoholism and bastardism, which is a made-up word that sounds more interesting than just calling him a “selfish jerk.”

Venom # 1 is definitely worth checking out for any fan of that dude, oh, what’s-his-name, Spider-Something, and of the older Venom books. The series feels fresh and is not, thank God in heaven, weighed down by the continuity of the previous Venom canons.  Marvel successfully revitalizes both the Venom and the Flash Thompson characters in this new series and more importantly have given it/him guns, which will forever make any character except for Batman ten-times cooler. The new Venom series is off to an exciting start and Venom # 1 a good first step in raising the character out of the B-list purgatory that it has been festering in since Eddie Brock stopped being interesting, which was back in the mid-90’s, just in case y’all didn’t know.

Crisis on Two Earths

John is back and EJ joins him to review the latest DC animated feature JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS on TWO EARTHS.  Tan tan taaaaan!!!  Join the boys as they discuss the film’s highs and lows, their thoughts on James Woods’ performance, and their personal favorite DC superhero animated films.

Download the podcast here


Review: AVATAR

The boys and I originally planned to do an Avatar review in one of the episodes, but everyone’s schedules just kept conflicting and hardly anyone saw the film in time.  Thankfully, my better half Jad Montenegro wrote this review on her Facebook, and I feel it encompasses all the points any of the komikeros could have possibly come up with… and then some.

— John

Movie Title: Avatar
Genre: Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Director: James Cameron
Rating: 4.5/5

I loved Avatar. And I can name a whole slew of parallelisms and analogies that some critics are probably going to whine about, including some casting flaws, but I sat through an almost 3-hour length film, counting off the themes I saw and yet I was riveted. In the end, strong filmmaking and its “formulas”, no matter how disdainful to some, still works. Cameron knew that, and every sci-fi fan (the ones that read actual books) will appreciate a good tall tale, even if it’s not the first to use a particular concept.

There are at least 5 books** I can name that have similar (and definitely earlier) concept developments, but I’m surprised to note that while it seems to be a concern in theory, it’s a completely insignificant factor in application, meaning that as I watched it I didn’t give a damn who wrote what first.

Regarding some parts of the story that inevitably many varied groups of people with obviously varied interests (and therefore foci) will find distinctly lacking in the movie (such as one friend of mine wishing more focus had been given to “dreamwalking”), the answer to that is simply: A movie cannot contain all the concepts one can think of for it, it can only hope to create a wondrous blend of them, and in the “blend” Cameron did his magic, including paying so much attention to the computer graphics that you barely care that you are inundated with it from the start.

I use casting “flaws” loosely, because one may take it different ways. A consequence of the rich and magical universe that is Pandora and the Na’vi is the resulting bland contrast the human world makes in the movie. Therefore the characters are not fully developed, and may remain “flat”, or “token”. Token nerd, token scientist, token broken hero. I forgive this, fully, for the obvious advantage it brings to the special effects and graphics department. It’s only logical to keep the backdrop bland in order for the effects to stand out, and it’s insane to keep the backdrop busy and then raise the bar even higher for complicated effects and graphics just to maintain the balance.

Jake Sully in my opinion was perfect exactly as he was as a human: unremarkable. I also disagree about his character lacking development. His human character did not, but his avatar certainly did. His matter-of-fact reaction to all the changes he undergoes isn’t a bovine lack of understanding or concern for his own well-being – it’s the logical and expected behavior of a Marine, a hardened soldier who is fazed by nothing. He’s a cripple who’s lost touch with his own humanity. That is not apathy at all. His almost instinctual assimilation of the Na’vi culture is reasonable: it’s easy to fill a cup that’s been forcibly emptied. Besides, according to my better half, people forget that Jake Sully was a TWIN. He wasn’t going to get more “un-individual” than that. He was BEGGING for an identity, and the Na’vi way of life fulfilled that need.

I’m not even going to go into the political aspects of this movie (how it’s too “green” and that it’s a direct play on the whole Bush-Iraq rape)- that’s just asinine. To judge something by your current socio-political weather isn’t very smart, considering this movie is going to be around longer than your current president.

This has been called by some the “Dances With Wolves, even Last Samurai-ish, but with 10-foot blue aliens” movie, and in a way, they’re right. But these creatures are expressive, believable, and totally relatable, the CG universe they steep you in is next to flawless as they create the moment of immersion, and that’s why it’s so much fun. You’re actually PART of a movie, not some sheepy viewer who paid to not get bored on a Saturday night. You return to that old self 3 whole hours later, when you step out of the movie house and realize, staggeringly, that these guys made all that shit UP (and there’s no way you’re going to encounter anything remotely close to that in real life…so how come it felt completely natural while you were watching?).

The notable lack of explosions right off the bat (meaning the movie didn’t start with something getting destroyed in the first 5 seconds) is something that I consider positive, as well as the intimate focus given to the ways of the alien race (almost like the viewer is being given a walkthrough), considering that our generation seems to become number and number to flashy effects-driven movies each year: the future of cinema is in the storytelling, not just the plain story, not just the plain telling. Avatar may not yet be the future, but it certainly raised the bar for everyone else.

I gave Avatar 4.5 stars out of 5 only because I saw some parts of the movie that could have used a bit more subtlety, including how 3 main characters managed to meet up at a single spot in a war that supposedly covered hundreds of miles. But aside from that, I’ve tried to keep my review and criticism rant-free. One thing that pisses me off about movie reviews that come out after a highly publicized movie is that every single smartass suddenly turns into the world’s best amateur screenwriter. “This movie sucks because this idea that I have isn’t in it.”

To again quote my better half, “Go write your own stupid movie.”

**Poul Anderson’s Genesis, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Orson Scott Card’s Children of the Mind, Ursula LeGuin’s Rocannon’s World (Ansible), James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis, Stephen Harding’s Animate Earth, etc