Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Goon in Those That is Damned TPB

Yep. Time for another Good trade.

At this point Labrazio (who can't possibly be Labrazio) has gathered together an all-star team of subordinates who have previously tried to kill Goon.  The harpies, Mr Wicker, and the blinded Zombie Priest are all here, though the last is more entertainment for the others than anything else. 

Their opening attack on Goon kills one of his lackies and severely wounds another.  After exacting a small revenge and hunting down the source who betrayed them to Labrazio (who can't possibly be Labrazio), Goon and Frankie prepare for a larger battle.

There's not a lot of plot development in this trade, but it does have two interesting things relevant to the plot.  First, the opening chapter explains why the town is such a cursed cesspool.  Think Donner Party but worse.  Buzzard learns all of this and relays it to Goon, giving him the option of leaving town to pursue a happy life or stay and fight an unwinnable war.  No surprise which Goon chooses. 

Second, there's a final scene with the mother of all the little zombie babies being carried away from the danger of a fire by someone who refers to her as mother.  Not one of the zombie babies but a full size adult male someone.  Got me who it is.

A large portion of the trade is a collection of short stories about Goon done by other creators.  We have The Fillbach Brothers, Kyle Hotz, Rebecca Sugar, Bob Fingerman, and John Arcudi.  Most of those did the art for their stories, too, but Herb Trimpe did the art for the Arcudi story (a little something for Matthew).  These are all good stories in keeping with the characters of the book but unrelated to the main story.  I particularly like "Dr. Alloy in For the Benefit of Underprivileged Inmates" by Sugar.  Altogether there are 7 short stories in this section, which is nearly half the book.  I would have liked to see a bit more of the main arc of the Goon, but with this good quality work I can't say I was unfairly deprived.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Stuff of Legend: Book 3: A Jester's Tale

This really is mostly Jester's story.  At the end of the second book he had gone his own way.  This volume follows his trail more than anything else.  Jester finds his way back to where he left Princess with Arctic and the trussed up Mayor Filmore.  The Mayor's still hanging there but Arctic has taken Princess.  Jester frees Filmore and the two set off to the Indian Lands to find Princess.

But to open the story we see a naval battle between a ship of the Boogeyman's navy and a pirate called the Laughing Ghost who looks like the anti-Jester.  Just like the classic Star Trek episode where two men chased each other to their deaths because one
was black on the left and white on the right while the other was white on the left and black on the right, the Laughing Ghost is black while Jester is white.  The back story is that they were purchased together and given to The Boy and his brother as gifts by an aunt, but the brother broke his toy as soon as they got it.  That half of the pair disappeared into the Dark and became the Laughing Ghost, terror of the seas.  The Laughing Ghost steals a box from the Boogeyman's ship and sinks the ship.

Harmony, Percy and Quackers are still trying to find The Boy (though Percy continues to undermine the effort) and their quest leads them to the Indian Lands, too.  The Boy and his unnamed companion are also headed to the Indian Lands, having escaped the town where they were held and, after some misadventures spurred by the unnamed's risky behavior, found passage on a train, which happens to then be commandeered by a contingent of the Boogeyman's troops.

Most of the adventure is Jester and Filmore's search for Princess.  They obtain money for a boat to sail there when Filmore bets on a fight between Jester and a guy named Anchor.  He carries one around, so you get the idea of his size.  Jester wins the fight and off they go, but don't get too far before their boat is sunk by a sea creature during a storm.  Jester and Filmore wash ashore on Doll Island, ruled by Rebecca, once the property of a girl named Alice.  Most of the occupants of the island are dolls, though there's a foppishly clad badger, too.  In time Jester convinces Rebecca to sail to the Indian Lands where things come to a head.  Princess rejects Jester and his love.  Laughing Ghost sinks Rebecca's ship, killing most of her crew.  Boogeyman shows up to kill Laughing Ghost and retrieve the box and the very important item therein that was stolen from him. 

A lot happens in this book and there's a lot more yet to come.  Maxwell and Scout don't even appear
this time around, so there's obviously more to resolve there. 

Of course, the Wilson art remains stellar and evocative both the era (WWII) and Dark where it takes place.  Raicht and Smith continue to keep the reader wanting more in this very engaging story.  It's no wonder it's a New York Times best seller.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Stuff of Legend: Book 2: The Jungle

Back at FCBD one of the reads I came away with was from The Stuff of Legend.  At that point I mentioned that it reminded me that I was behind in reading the book and needed to get the third trade.  Turns out I was further behind than I thought and didn't have the second book, either, so here we are.

After the first book the intrepid band of rescue toys, searching for The Boy who had been taken into the dark by the Boogeyman, had fought their way ashore and then brought down a corrupt mayor of a town who used fixed games to maintain his grip on power.  In this volume the toys are still searching for The Boy and reach a destroyed zoo.  Some time before this was the site of a major battle and much of the location is in ruins.

Maxwell the bear, Jester, Princess, Percy the pig, Quackers the duck, and Harmony, along with Scout the puppy, arrive at the zoo in some distress, with Princess having been wounded by a sniper.  Percy still works desparately to keep his association with the Boogeyman secret and to dissuade the others from continuing the search.

Among the new characters introduced are the Knight and Golems.  I love the Golems.  They're a wild
card and originate from playing that The Boy did with his toys.  All they are is clay toys in vague shapes of dinosaurs and such, much like something a kid would make with Silly Putty.  The Boy used to have times when he'd have them rampage through his toys, just stomping all over everything.  The Knight was a favored toy then and out of harm's way, but he was lost when he fell behind a cabinet, eventually rescued from his predicament by the Boogeyman, who he has served ever since.

For reasons we don't know the Boogeyman doesn't like the animal toys.  He pretended he did and convinced Monty, an infant toy designed to be chewed, shaped like a monkey with cymbals, to lead all the animal toys to live in the zoo, but once there imprisoned them and used them for sport, sometimes killing them.  Led by a lion the animal toys rebelled and faced a huge battle with the Knight leading the human forces.  This was the Knight's greatest victory but also a loss.  The lion freed a giant snake that turned the tide for the animals so they could escape into the jungle on the other side of a ravine.  The Golems ended that battle when they came stomping through.

Now the Knight leads his forces to capture the six searchers, but once again the Golems arrive and wreak havoc with the Boogeyman's human army.  When the six make it into the Jungle they're captured by the animal toys, who are now led by the giant snake.  He separates Maxwell, Percy and Quackers from Harmony, Princess and Jester.  The former will be tested to determine if they can stay with the animals.  The latter will be hunted for sport.  The hunting for sport doesn't go so well, as Jester defeats the hunters while protecting Harmony and the ill Princess (a result of her wound earlier).  Arctic, a member of Princess's tribe, shows up with the Mayor, who's trapped in a net Arctic had set.  While Jester and Harmony finght, Arctic absconds with Princess. 

In the meantime, Maxwell reveals that he was the one who invited the Boogeyman into The Boy's room.  He had sought to have the Boogeyman take Scout because he was jealous of the attention Scout was getting from The Boy.  Maxwell was The Boy's favorite before Scout arrived.  The serpent thinks this is good reason for Maxwell to stay with the animals, as Maxwell's actions harmed a human, but Percy uses it to condemn Maxwell as traitor, though Percy is the actual traitor in the group.  Maxwell ends up challenging the snake for leadership of the animals, and wins before Jester and Harmony can arrive to help.  They are informed of what Maxwell did, too, and the group ends up splitting.  Jester leaves on his own while Percy, Quackers and Harmony take their own path.  Only Scout stays with Maxwell, new king of the animals in the jungle.

One other new character is an unnamed boy who's also in the Dark with The Boy.  They're both in a mock town where no one else is present.  They're in houses across the street from one another.  The Boy can't escape the room he's in and can just see the new boy through gaps in the boarded up window to the room.

As with the first book The Stuff of Legend has great atmosphere.  It's all done in sepia tones coloring
to the art by Charles Paul Wilson III.  It's highly evocative of the Dark in which the story takes place.  It's a beautiful work and provides a great fluid movement to the story.  The battle scenes, especially with Jester, are great just to look at, and the bursts of anger from Maxwell are down right frightening.  Excellent all around.

Of course, the story by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith moves those great pictures along just as well.  It's a fine collaboration all around.  Now I can get to the third volume that I originally thought was the only one I was missing.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The List - July 2013

A mite tricky this month, writing the post on my wife's laptop rather than my usual computer access.  Hopefully I'll be able to get everything in place.  No doubt work will not allow for me to work on it this week, after being on vacation last week.  Right, then.  Off we go.

1. Invincible 104 - Ok, the Angstrom Levy story line seems to have ended sooner than I anticipated, but then again, 'Vince is going to try to pursue him into one of the dimensions of his conquering alter egos.  Mohawk guy's not one I would have picked to be the survivor of the crazy alternates, but there you go.  I'm sure more than a few reviewers aren't going to be buying into Kirkman's resolution of Eve unable to use her powers to defeat Levy, but I liked it.  Kirkman's always been talk heavy in his books.  Clearly he values what his characters say as much as what they do.  It's never been all about the fight, which is all the Big Two seem to have left in most of their books.  Eve's ability to reason with Levy is in keeping with both her character and his.  Mark wanting to pursue Levy to save him from Mohawk version is what I'd expect from his character as well.

2. Fables 131 - The beginning of Camelot continues the effort to return Bigby, but clearly that's going to take a long, long time, if it proceeds as planned.  More immediately, Brandish isn't dead.  Not that anyone but Swineheart and Mrs Spratt know that.  The conversation, amid autopsy, in which Swineheart makes his rational proposition for Mrs Spratt to have sex with him, now that she's attractive, is amusingly conceited.  Rose Red's discovery of how to implement her mission as an instrument of Hope is, as always with her, grand in conception.  Execution, I'm sure, will be another matter.

3. The Unwritten 51 - The alternate version of the war with Mr Dark in the realm of Fables is straight on into sacrifice of major characters.  Like most alternate reality stories it's safe to kill of a lot of your favorite, major characters, knowing they won't be effected in the main story.  Unlike such things in most superhero stories, these Fables run the risk of being killed off in their own book anyway, such as Boy Blue and Charming.  Killed off and possibly never brought back, that is. None of the usual superhero return after being dead a short while.  Tommy and friends may make an important change in the fight, but then again, maybe not.

4. The Walking Dead 112 - Is there anyone left who thinks Negan is just a clone of the Governor?  Clearly he's a far different character now.  A far smarter character than anyone gave credit, including Rick. Now, I do wonder about the wisdom of having his advance team come out of hiding when he's explaining his preparations to Rick.  Rick has shown himself to be a wild card, fully cable of using Andrea to take out Negan and his no longer under cover boys, even if it might mean his own demise.  We'll see what next issue brings.

5. Sex 5 - Ok, now we're moving into some good character interaction, the nature of our characters having been well established.  Graphic sex for this issue consists of some oral action in a men's room, and I must say that's one persistent woman, considering Cooke's drunkenness and ambivalence about the activity.  That she got him aroused is something of a minor miracle under those circumstances, especially a man of his age.  Lagravenese's showing her age, too, as her employees are so helpfully pointing out for her.  Ok, really, not a lot happens this issue, but it is amusing.

6. Uncanny  2 - This made a big leap on The List from last month because it suddenly hit me that this is the X-Men made more interesting than they have been in more than a two decades, for me.  So far we have characters with the powers of Rogue and Wolverine, reversing the genders on both.  They appear to have been born with these abilities.  They don't live in a tights and capes world, though.  They live in a world much like ours and are similarly competent or incompetent, as their personalities dictate. I like what Diggle and Campbell are doing with these characters, much like Casey is doing with the Batman mythos in Sex, though without the sex, at least so far.

7. Watson and Holmes 1 - I reviewed the first 3 issues of this series not long ago.  It was good enough that I went ahead and bought the paper version, having read the issues in a plastic format.  For those who missed the review, this is a version of the Doyle characters in which the setting is present day Harlem in NYC.  Watson is actually the lead character, though he still serves as the doorway to understanding Holmes.  This Holmes is less a creature of his own mind and more comfortable interacting with the rest of the world than most depictions of Holmes.  In this first issue little is known about him beyond his occupation as a consultant with the police and that he's brilliant in his observational and deductive abilities.

8. Wonder Woman 22 - This version of the New Gods is so much better than what I've seen in other iterations.  True, we've only had Orion and now High Father, but they're much more interesting than other presentations of them.  Azzarello clearly has flair for making pantheons fresh and interesting.  This High Father isn't to be trusted, in his relation of the history of his world or his intentions for Zeke or Orion.  The constant put downs of Orion are harsh and, to all appearances so far, unwarranted.  And yet, in the end, he appears to have acted the ass as a tactic.  Now all our band has to do is survive being face to face with the First Born again.

9. Brother Lono 2 - World's sexiest nun continues to give Lono problems with his vows, but no more so than his inclinations to brawl.  He should probably add drinking to the things he won't do, even though it's not strictly part of his vows.  In the meantime, LA drug distributor meets a really nasty end when he proves himself unwilling to simply accept the terms of the drug lords who supply him.  Who the drug lords are speaking with in a phone conversation will undoubtedly be both interesting and significant to the resolution of the story.  Not even Lono seems to think he's going to be able to maintain his vows.

10. Thor: God of Tunder 10 - I'm sure no one is surprised that Gorr has become a god, abhorrent as the thought is to him.  I almost wish the godbomb would actually wipe out all the gods throughout history, just to see if it takes him with it.  I'm sure it won't go off, considering this series is supposed to continue beyond the next issue and all that.  Having committed murder of a close confidant who made the mistake of worshiping him as a god, Gorr is fully in god mode now.  Over reaction to slight infractions is the hallmark of a deity.  And always remember, biting off your own tongue is more painful than you might think.

11. The Shadow: Year One 4 - A battle of wielders of the power to cloud men's minds is obviously going to be the course of this book.  The Shadow and his nemesis appear to be acquainted with one another, and the power is an addiction, which goes along way to explaining the Shadow's aloof nature.  Not that Margo knows that.

12. Fairest 17 - I have to say, this arc with Charming as the Maharaja feels like it's dragging a bit.  Then again, disintegrating maidens is interesting.  It's the trek across the desert and back to the village that is taking too long.

13. Lazarus 2 - Ok, I'm enjoying the story and the family interactions.  And Rucka has laid out a time line for how this world came to be as it is.  I'm not buying into that time line, mind you.  Populations rioting because of disastrous government and corporate malfeasance don't turn to the corporations to run things, not to mention hand over every freedom, no matter how illusory those freedoms may have been under the governments.

14. Collider 1 - I picked this up on a whim.  I have no familiarity with Simon Oliver or Robbi Rodriguez.  It was an interesting start to a sci-fi adventure involving disruption to the laws of physics in localized events, apparently the results of a scientific group's experiments 20 some odd years previously.  The localized nature of the events reminds me a bit of Fringe.

15. The Bounce 3 - Stoner superhero adventures continue.  Next issue's fight with a stony, desperate, Spanish speaking guy should be entertaining.

16. Dark Horse Presents 26 - I've really been enjoying the return of Trekker.  I like that Randall hasn't done away with her '80s influenced shoulder pads and knee guards in her costume, either.  There was more to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer's subsidiary characters arc, too.  Several other good stories round out the issue.

17. Ten Grand 3 - And now I know the difference between a button man and a hit man.  It was all about the back story this issue.  Kind of sweet, actually.  That was a surprise.

18. Thief of Thieves 15 - Big caper time in the offing.  This issue was set up to the big caper, including our twice burned FBI agent going rogue to pursue Redmond and his gang.

19. The Massive 14 - Like Lazarus, I don't find the semi-end-of-the-world reality of the book all that credible.  Worldwide government collapse just isn't that easy.  Whatever.  The Kapital is sailing up Broadway, having shaken off the rogue elements of the US Navy, and now tracking down a rogue crew member with a nuclear sub.

20. Batwoman 22 - DEO assistance or not, I find it unlikely that and Firebird would be able to subdue Bane so easily.  Then again, I haven't seen Bane used well anywhere but Secret Six.  After this arc in which the DEO is trying to control Batman, I'm not sure I'll be staying on board.

21. Miniature Jesus 2, 3 - Finally picked up issue 2 and then read issue 3.  This is a trippy book. I think it'll all come together in the end, and be very interesting, but reading it one issue at a time is challenging.  Must say I loved the Pythonesque Finger of God that squashed the church, though.  I'm going to have to re-read the whole thing once it concludes to see if it really does come together.

22. Damsels: Mermaids 3 - Suddenly, 3 issues in, it occurs to me to wonder why it's called Mermaids when we only have the story of one mermaid.  Eh.  No big deal.  Despite coming in last on The List I enjoyed this issue a lot more than the previous issue.  A good sea monster fight and a betrayal go a long way.  It was just a tough month of competition.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Taking Time Off

Lee asked me to let our readers know (all 3 of you) that the month of August will be limited to non-existent for posting as Lee and the boys are apparently busy with other things. If the muse strikes me I may add a post of two but who knows. Check back and in September Lee should have a new game plan in place. For the rest of August expect sporadic at best posting. 

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Indestructible Hulk: Agent of T.I.M.E. – A Review

I wonder if I still remember how to do this…

Well I’ve still got some books left to read from the huge stack that accumulated while I was on vacation for three weeks.  And I’ve got the itch to compose a few posts on things I read during my travels, but who knows if I’ll get to them in time or not.  Y’know…before I lose the urge.  Perhaps you’re wondering why I’m not writing one of those right now – the thing is the newer material generates more views and if you can get someone to try out a new title (or an old one again), that’s a pretty worthwhile endeavor.  I certainly have read a lot of good comics recently, but I wanted to showcase the surprise of the week:  Indestructible Hulk #011! 

Except for the Simonson drawn issues, this book has been on pull list life support since almost the beginning and it’s already died for Jim.  “Hulk thought Jim was friend.” But I’m here to tell you that Mark “gotta-trust-him” Waid took the title in a promising direction and I really thought it was cool.  The kicker is that it’s all because of the Age of Ultron.

Indestructible Hulk #011
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Matteo Scalera
Colorist: Val Staples
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel
Price: $3.99 (still trying to sell my digital code)

If you haven’t been reading Hulk lately, he now works for S.H.I.E.L.D (because he does in the Marvel movies).  Maria Hill gives Banner a private lab to develop all kinds of worthwhile things for humanity lickety-split (since all super-genius’ work really really fast) and when necessary she sends the Hulk out on assignments to tear things up.  She really likes to tick Bruce off to trigger the transformation too.  During the Daredevil cross-over last month, we learned that Bruce has left some “dirt” with Matt Murdock, in case anything terminally bad happens to him or his alter-ego. One thing that’s been troubling me with the series is the Hulk’s erratic behavior.  He’s not a consistent “personality or anything – you never know how he’s going to act (mindless, raging, mean, etc.).  Okay, so you’re all up-to-date and ready for the latest story: Agent of T.I.M.E. SPOILERS Follow.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Bone: Out from Boneville - TPB 1

Reaching back a bit, here, as this work was originally published in 1991 and 1992.  It hasn't lost anything in entertainment value in the last 20 years, either.

But first, a little history.  I remember seeing Bone in my LCS back in those early 90s days.  I never picked up an issue but read much good word about Jeff Smith's work.  I'm not even sure I was aware that it was an all ages book, actually, just that it was good work.

So here's what it's about.  Fone Bone is the hero.  He and Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone have been run out of Boneville because of a scam Phoney Bone was running.  Phoney Bone complains a lot and has no consideration for anyone but himself.  Smiley befits his name and is a happy-go-lucky sort.  Fone is a naif.  Making their way across a wasteland they're separated by a swarm of locusts.  All three wind up in a never before seen valley inhabited by humans, communistic rat-things, and intelligent animals and insects.  Much of the story follows Fone Bone, from his winter spent with some critters to his meeting of the beautiful Thorn, with whom he immediately falls in love.

Phoney eventually arrives, offending all the way, and is given a good beating by Gran'ma, the cow racing grandmother of Thorn, and a very tough customer.  Shortly after the rat-things attack en masse, searching for Phoney at the command of a dud who looks like the Grim Reaper.  He's just the Hooded One here and no telling what it is he can do, other than commanding the rat-things.

A red dragon saves Fone more than a few times.  No telling what his motivation is at this point, but he was there the first time Fone stumbled into the valley and protects him from the rat-things.

It's not until the book, which consists of 6 chapters, is nearly finished that Smiley and Fone get back together.  By this point Phoney has learned that sad truth that there's no money in this society.  Everything is traded on a barter system.  After consuming quite a bit to drink at a bar, Phone is now paying for it with dish washing.

This is a book with lots of adventure and humor.  It's a sort of humor that will appeal to both kids and adults.  It has some hints of adult themes, such as Fone and Thorn skinny dipping together, off panel, but it's played for humor and not titillation.  It's a great bridge between the goodly number of comics aimed at young kids and the superhero fare aimed at teens and older.  I'm looking forward to more.  Handy that the entire run is done, so I don't have to wait around for new trades to come out.