Things are finally getting back to normal after the terrible (comparatively short) era in which a Virus Ate My Computer. This means the weekly comics round-ups should start appearing as before (except for the occasional week when nothing available catches my eye). And this week, it’s a rather nice mix.
Reviewed: Cobra #15, Danger Girl & G.I.Joe #1, Extermination #2, Grimm Fairy Tales #75, GFT – Myths & Legends #18, Irresistible #1, Jungle Book #4, Star Wars: Darth Vader & the Ghost Prison #3, Wonderland Annual, Wonderland #1
Cobra #15 (IDW)
Writer: Mike Costa | Artist: Antonio Fuso & Werther Dell’Edera | Colours: Arianna Florean
The lies and betrayals keep adding up, as Flint struggles to maintain his honor amidst his team of scoundrels and backstabbers. And is the information that Tomax has been supplying really on the level? Of course not... but what game is he playing?
Two jobs are taking place at the same time – the kidnap of the former Cobra Commander’s son (who rejected that world), and also another operation in Alexandria, which comes up against some unwanted action and attention. Not to mention a van-load of explosives…
The artwork is stripped down, simple and angular. Rather than being off-putting, it places a lot more focus on the story, which worked out fine for me. This is a very good, well-written story. I like the way Costa’s brought these characters to life. This issue didn’t focus so much on the predicament and operational procedures of the black-ops Joe unit (as previous issues have), and rather the focus was on the two main operations.
The series continues to progress strongly, and I definitely like the new direction Costa’s taking it in.
Danger Girl & G.I.Joe #1 (IDW)
Writer: Andy Hartnell | Artist: John Royce | Inks: Phillip Moy | Colours: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
The two most incredible covert action teams the world has ever known-so covert, in fact, that neither knows the other exists-are meeting for the first time ever! Repeat: Danger Girl and G.I.JOE, together. Spies! Girls! Ninjas! COBRA! If your head did not just explode, then you are one of the lucky few remaining that will live to enjoy a summer blockbuster you’ll have to see to believe!
Take the fun of the 1980s/-90s G.I.Joe, add in the insane James Bond-on-crack Danger Girl métier, and you get a pretty fun, over-the-top action adventure. Not a huge amount happens in this issue – the first half is an aerial dog-fight, followed by some politicking, and a connection made between the Joe and Danger Girl worlds. It is fun, and I’d really like to read the next issue, now.
No idea how long this series will go on for, but I think it’s going to be a fun diversion.
Extermination #2 (Boom)
Writer: Simon Spurrier | Artist: Jeffrey Edwards | Colours: Blond
WE LOST. THEY WON. In the wake of an apocalyptic alien invasion, the world’s greatest super-heroes and deadliest super-villains must form an alliance to prevent their own extermination. Nox and Red Reaper continue their trek across the ravaged American countryside, amassing former friends and foes for the ultimate battle of resistance. But when old grievances rear their ugly heads, will the alliance survive the journey intact, or will it be torn apart from the inside out?
This is a fantastic comic. It’s science fiction, it’s action-packed, it’s funny, and it’s rather weird. From the very first page (below), Spurrier’s script had be chuckling. The issue also has a fair few surprises, and more flashbacks to start filling out the backstory. We learn just a little more about the “capeds”, the superheroes humanity had basically abdicated its protection and law enforcement to – something that turned out rather horribly, as we can see from the “present” day scenes of Extermination.
As can be expected, the sense of humour is pretty twisted, and Spurrier and his art team don’t shy away from some sick story points, either. It’s not Garth Ennis-sick, used just to shock or be sick for the sake of it (which actually really annoys me, more than anything else) – Spurrier uses shock and the twisted side of humanity to explain the state of this world really well. Yes, it still shocks (cannibalism is always shocking, especially the form it takes in this issue), but there’s a reason it’s in the story.
The interplay between the two protagonists is really well-done, and we see which is better prepared for this world (the Red Reaper), and which is having difficulty adjusting his pure-white worldview to the new, lawless and manic reality (Nox).
Just two issues in, and I have no doubt this is going to be a winner. I can’t wait for issue three. Highly recommended if you like your super-hero comics twisted and innovative. And not for children.
This is really great, and while I’ve written more about the writing than anything else, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a nod to the artwork, which is also excellent – it’s clean, not overly-stylised, sharp and superbly coloured.
Grimm Fairy Tales #75 (Zenescope)
Sela has finally returned to earth in search of her long lost daughter. It’s a search that will lead her to confront the powerful Dark One, the only being who holds the answers to her daughter’s location. But when Sela finds her daughter will she be ready for the truth about her?
In this land-mark 75th issue, we’re given first six-pages of catch-up and background. Anyone who has been reading the series for a long time might find this a little disappointing, but I thought it was handy to get a refresher course in some of the key moments that have shaped the Grimm Universe. It also should help a new reader to situate themselves (a little) into the storyline and be prepared for what is to come next.
It’s a pretty good issue, with a ton of action after the catch-up, but also a rather unsatisfying confrontation between Sela and the Dark One – the dialogue’s a bit cliché, and the resolution to it was rather… unlikely. I don’t want to spoil too much, but it comes halfway through the issue, so there’s plenty of story that follows it.
The artwork throughout the issue is pretty good – less stylised, but retaining the Zenescope feel – I also appreciated that there was one artist for the whole issue (there have been a few too many recently that feature multiple artists and styles, which ruins the cohesiveness of some of them – even if the artists are great, by switching things up so frequently, it makes the issue feel bitty and inconsistent).
The story escalates nicely until Sela makes a major mistake, and overreacts in a way that could ruin everything for her. The issue ended strongly, and it’ll certainly be interesting to see how it develops and how Sela deals with her new situation.
GFT – Myths & Legends #18 (Zenescope)
Gina and Hank have quickly become known as being two of the most incredible Ghost Hunters of our time. As a new hit TV sensation, the duo travel from place to place disproving supernatural legends of myth and lore. But when the duo travel to a small town on the outskirts of Salem they may find that the truth they seek is much stranger and horrible than any they have known before.
From the creators of the Wonderland trilogy and Grimm Fairy Tales comes a brand new updated twist on the classic ‘Hansel and Gretel’ story.
This is a pretty interesting set-up: we’re introduced to Hank and Gina, a brother-sister pair of ghost hunters, who are chasing ratings and the usual media circus. In this issue, they are investigating a haunted house which does, in fact, turn out to be haunted. This kicks of interest in their plans, and they negotiate a deal with a network. So far, so interesting. But that’s really all that happens in this issue (which is part one of four), and it looks like they won’t be getting to the witch of the original story until next issue.
An interesting premise, and another interesting and original twist on a classic fairy tale. I’ll definitely be keeping me eye open for the next issue.
Irresistible #1 (Zenescope)
Allen Keeg was your average middle age heart broken sap who just went through the worst break up in his life. That was a year ago. Since then Allen's been having trouble getting back into the swing of things. But all that's about to change. When Allen saves an old woman from being mugged he will be given an amazing supernatural ability that will change his whole life. But is the gift of being irresistible to every woman he meets a gift or a dreadful curse.
In the first issue of this mini-series, we’re introduced to Allen Keeg – just been dumped, miserable, and extremely lonely. His friends have attempted to cheer him up by taking him to a strip club (something he’s never really been fond of, unable to see the attraction). On his way home, he saves an old woman in an alley, who has been mugged. He is, in return, beaten to a pulp by the muggers. Which leads to a wish being fulfilled – of a sort.
This is a pretty well-written comic. I enjoyed the premise, and it’s been rendered very nicely. But, one thing that kept popping up in my mind, the more I read was, “This is very similar to that episode of Buffy, when Xander has Amy cast that spell to make Cordelia love him, but in the end all the women go crazy for him, except for Cordelia.” It’s a fun premise, and not one you see too often, but it was rather reminiscent of this.
I’ll be interested to see how it deviates from the formula, and how it ends, too. If you’re after something a little different from many other comics, then you could give this a try. Despite the cover, it’s not a titillating title, so I don’t think people have to be put off by that prospect.
So, a cautious recommendation, this is a series that I think I’ll need to read more to know properly if it’s really worth sticking with.
Jungle Book #4 (Zenescope)
Mowglii and Baloo escape from the clutches of the insane apes of the island only to find themselves faced against the deadliest creature in all the wild: Kaa, the giant Python. And even the combined strength of Bomani, Mowglii, and Baloo may not be enough to stop him from devouring them all.
The penultimate issue. This is quite a busy, if narrow-focused, issue – more and more creatures and characters come into the lair of Kaa, the python. We are introduced to another of the human “cubs” on the island, and her tribe (I rather liked them). With only one more issue, I’m not sure what they’re going to do with all the characters. This makes me wonder if this is the first series set in this world, with more on the horizon (just as Neverland wasn’t the only title based on Peter Pan).
The artwork in here is superb, very vivid, but also quite busy – there is almost no empty space, so close is the action. It’s definitely one of the best-looking comics I’ve read, and the story is on a par with Zenescope’s other series. Definitely recommended for all fans of this publisher and also anyone who’s interested in seeing the Jungle Book realised and reinvented as never before.
Star Wars: Darth Vader & the Ghost Prison #3 (Dark Horse)
Cadet Tohm, in the company of Darth Vader, Moff Trachta, and the wounded Emperor, has finally reached the mysterious Ghost Prison.
Vader battles the Jedi guard and Trachta wreaks vengeance on a particular prisoner. The Emperor’s condition is stabilized, but they must find a way to combat the uprising back on Coruscant. Vader plans to use the only army available to him – the inmates of the Ghost Prison. But the prisoners have begun to revolt...
The issue opens with more of the secret recording out protagonists found at the end of issue two – it is an account of the Ghost Prison, and the internal ideological struggle within the Jedi on their decision to create such a facility, and what it means for the future of the Jedi. Seeing as Darth Vader is one of our protagonists watching the recording, and given the nature and reasons for his fall to the Dark Side, it is understandable that he is… upset with its contents.
This is one of the best Star Wars series I’ve read, and I think it does some really interesting and innovative things with the Star Wars history. It was also nice to have a completely different perspective: the main characters are all broken – physically and mentally, to varying degrees. Everyone knows of Vader’s disfigurements and mental scarring, but the scarred and disabled Lieutenant Tohm and augmented and rebuilt Moff Trachta are equally complex, with their own histories of abuse. We are treated to quick explanations of their respective disfigurements, on their way to the Ghost Prison.
The ending also bodes very well for the next issue.
Definitely a must-read for any fan of Star Wars comics and Star Wars in general.
Wonderland Annual (Zenescope)
After the events of the Dream Eater saga, Calie and Violet are on the run from the denizens of Wonderland. But after a lifetime of believing her life to be normal, Violet is slowly coming to terms with the insanity that is her lineage and will finally learn the truth of who and what she really is.
This not to be missed story leads directly into the brand new Wonderland ongoing series [below] and is the perfect jumping on point for new readers.
This start with a very disturbing couple of images and then a handful of dark Story-So-Far pages, which serve to catch up new readers and also those who are familiar with previous Wonderland series and storylines.
This is a very weird issue. It’s beautifully rendered, but it’s a little strange – a lot of it is twisted, dreamlike or hallucinations, so there are a lot of hints of things to come and also links to the past. The imagery is fantastic, though, and this has to be one of the best-looking comics I’ve ever read – the horrific imagery is superb, vivid and atmospheric.
I was, sad to say, a little lost. I haven’t read all of the Wonderland series, of course (just Alice and the first couple of Call of Wonderland). I would therefore recommend you not buy just this one issue, but also Wonderland #1, as that might help you to figure out what’s going on. Although, even then, I think it would be best if you tried to catch up with the other Zenescope Wonderland tales, too. The annual, as is, feels like we’re watching the inside of an addict’s mind as they go on a bad drug-trip.
Wonderland #1 (Zenescope)
Calie Liddle is BACK! And the on-going series that every Zenescope fan has been waiting for is finally here. When Calie escaped from Wonderland she wanted to believe she was finally free from the realm of madness. She wanted to believe she could live a normal life. But she was wrong. Now Calie and her daughter Violet are on the run... Meanwhile, a child returns from a carnival with a special hat that will change everything.
[The following story takes place after the events of The Dream Eater Saga #4 and Wonderland Annual 2012]
Ok. So, I’m still really confused. This is a weird and wonderful series in itself, but not one that lends itself too well to dipping in and out of.
This is a real shame, as this issue is brilliantly twisted. Callie and her daughter, Violet, have re-located, and Callie is paranoid in the extreme. She breaks all the mirrors in their new house, is hyper-vigilant about Violet and who she talks to. We get some scenes set in Wonderland, and get a glimpse of the forces that have been set in motion, as well as one sinister character who has found a way into the real world. I think this is going to shape up to be a wonderfully twisted, surreal and nightmarish series. I think I’m going to have to try to catch up with the previous Wonderland series, too, in order to get the full picture.