The Skeptics #1 (Black Mask)
I just read the debut issue for the new Black Mask series “The Skeptics” and was quite pleased with this sweet little intro to a thus far promising retro adventure. Brought to you by Tini Howard and Devaki Neogi we’ve got a solid story of two teenagers during the Cold War era that are brought in by the US government to test for paranormal abilities. There’s a claim made by the Soviets that they’ve got a new breed of soldier in the works, ones with intense psychic abilities. But is it just a hoax to scare us Americans during those tense times? Either way it doesn’t matter because of course the US is determined to find people with similar unique abilities here in our own country to face off with the Soviets.
Well all just is not what it seems when Mary and Maxwell are brought in for testing, for unknown reasons these two have figured out a way to to trick the scientists and even the President into believing they’ve got telekinetic abilities. The President claims they’re the key to stopping World War 3 but it seems there’s more going on than meets the eye. The two young “psychics” quickly decide to take matters into their own hands when they realize that perhaps it’s not a hoax. The Soviets may indeed be harboring people with superhuman abilities.
I had a pretty fun time with the first issue, it’s really simplistic, pure story telling with some decent artwork as well. It’s a refreshing break from all of the ultra edgy stuff being cranked out these days, I’ll check out issue number two and see just where this all goes but either way the debut is worth a look if you’re looking for something a little different.
Black #1 (Black Mask)
Here’s another decent debut issue that finds it’s plot ripped from the media headlines. It’s a story about police corruption and racism in America with a superhero twist. We’ve got corrupt white cops who shoot down three black teens who’ve done nothing wrong in broad daylight on the streets of the inner city. Sound familiar?
Well things get more interesting when one of the teens who’s presumed dead awakens alive and well in the ambulance on the way to the hospital with seemingly superhuman energy and endurance. On the run from the cops he meets a Morpheus like character (from the movie The Matrix) who helps him to safety and soon it’s revealed that people do indeed exist on this planet with superhuman powers….except only those who are black can have them. This like The Skeptics is also a pretty quick and simple read with an interesting spin on the superhero genre. This idea spun out of a Kickstarter campaign and was soon picked up by Black Mask. The art adds to the experience as it’s really well drawn and in black and white.
The writing for this by Kwanza Osajyefo is solid yet at the same time a bit on the predictable side. Starting out with a fairly popular view point being, corrupt cops are running rampant and they kill black people for no apparent reason. I think it’s fair to say from most of the news stories we’ve heard reported on point to this similar scenario. So we’ve definitely got a story here thats basis is controversial and hotly debated. I can already see people being upset about the race issue presented here, it is indeed written to get a response from white readers and continue the much needed dialogue about racial tension today. I think however it’s not much really of a different concept than say “Y The Last Man” yet this comic’s timing probably is the most controversial aspect of it.
Overall I dig it, the idea of just one race being graced with superpowers is an odd angle but given the recent headlines this one’s certain to make some waves. It’s also written & drawn by an all black team as the above The Skeptics is an all female team. So we’re getting a lot more projects out there now that are created with race appropriate and gender appropriate teams attached. It I guess raises questions about whether or not it’s ok in modern times to have people writing books that aren’t of the same gender or race of the characters in the book? This topic alone has become somewhat of an issue lately for movies, books and tv shows. I’m still under the belief that at the end of the day in works of fiction, in a free society none of that needs to really be micro-analyzed. So therefore I welcome anyone to bring a unique story to the table no matter what their race, gender, sexuality or association may be. With that being said I’m curious to see where the story of “Black” ultimately goes. I’ll be back for a second issue…
It’s been a loooooong time since I’ve picked up anything new by Marvel in the comic book department, but this week I couldn’t resist when I saw the vintage logo of Power Man and Iron Fist on the stands. Marvel comics for me have become a bit of bland reading experience, often times the art’s pretty subpar and at 4 bucks a pop shit better be really fucking impressive! I’ll say it again once comic books reach the 5 dollar cover price I’m done. However this week I was lured by that nostalgic old logo and couldn’t resist giving this new series that unites Luke Cage and Danny Rand for some street smart retro style adventures in the big apple.
I was actually pretty impressed with this new series which thank god isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. Most Marvel titles are monthly changing superhero genders, races, characters etc etc blah blah. Don’t get me wrong I am all for those changes if they’re part of a creative story but lately it seems Marvel is simply trying way too hard to change everything to cash in on modern trends on social media. Sometimes keeping things simple and somewhat familiar really is the best way to create a meaningful story. We’ve got some witty writing here from David Walker that’s filled with nostalgic throwbacks to their heyday when Luke “Power Man” Cage used to sport a shiny silver tiara and the two used to be partners in their small biz “Heroes for Hire”. Luke Cage now a family man with Netflix’s latest sensation Jessica Jones is being tempted by Danny “Iron Fist” Rand (now a bit more wise cracking than usual) to “get the band back together”. I also totally love Iron Fist’s new version of his costume, harking back to Bruce Lee in Game of Death.
Luke’s resistant to the idea and Jessica even more, so Rand claims she’s got Luke “on a short leash these days”. When their former Heroes for Hire office manager gets out of prison they agree to do her a favor and retrieve a family heirloom stolen from her years ago. Sounds simple enough? Well turns out the albino super gangster Tombstone has it. I’ve gotta admit too I’ve always been a big fan of Tombstone and hopefully we’ll get more of the big stark white weirdo dude as he’s disposed of far too easily. Come on now Tombstone is a total bad ass!
The issue delivers a lot of promise for the future though with cool but heavily stylized artwork from Sanford Greene that some might love and others could easily be turned off by. It works for me though, I really dig it and it’s perfect for the more comedic tone so far of the series. I like simplicity of the story and also the smallness of it all, I really do like my comic stories kept on a personal level most of the time. It’s been a while since I grabbed a Marvel comic but this one seemed like a much safer bet than say something like the completely wretched “Totally Awesome Hulk” series or whatever million of the Deadpool books are floating around on the shelves these days. I’ll be back for issue number two for sure as it’s nice to see the boys are back in town once again…
What do you think? Am I missing out on something truly awesome from Marvel these days woth the cover price? If so please enlighten me!!
This week the final installment of the first arc of ‘We Can Never Go Home’ hit the stands with issue #5. It was a great finale filled with a ton of well placed twists and turns. This also just might be my favorite new title of 2015. We’ve been following the unpredictable exploits of teen runaway misfits Duncan & Maddie for only five issues but hell, what an adventure it’s been so far.
The series takes place back in the late 1980’s a time I remember quite fondly as a kid/teen growing up, so perhaps I’m just a little more than partial to this tale from the start. It’s also a series that involves 80’s references galore and even more so in the realm of underground music & punk rock of yesteryear. Mix that with some seriously deep in serious shit troubled teens on a road trip that seems to get more dangerous with ever mile traveled and you’ve got quite an intriguing story.
The final issue comes to a blood soaked boiling point to a once seemingly innocent start of budding teen crushes. The final issue pulls no punches a lot of questions are finally answered and maybe not quite in the way you might have hope they’d be. That’s fine though as a truly great story never really wraps up the way you think it will. This last issue takes place in the compound of this first arc’s villain, Mr. Carroll, where he’s trapped Maddie and Duncan and tests their “superhuman” abilities.
Certain aspects of this final issue might piss you off, you might suddenly find yourself questioning some of our lead characters motivations in this series. Ultimately though this dynamic conclusion delivers on all cylinders, (with some excellent artwork to boot by Josh Hood) and I already find my self ready to read it all over again.
It also has me quite ready for more which we can expect in 2016. So if you haven’t checked this out yet I advise getting the trade when it hits as the individual issues are hard to track down and going for a pretty penny online. This series makes the $3.99 price tag on comic books these days feel not quite so sleazy. “We Can Never Go Home” is a full on home run.
If you’re a fan of punk rock and old school 80’s style horror there’s a good chance you’ll get a kick out Black Mask’s “Toe Tag Riot” a new rowdy zombie comic book adventure! This one reads more like an installment of the “Return of the Living Dead” movie franchise than “The Walking Dead” and that’s a good thing because we really don’t need any more comic books hitting the shelves these days trying to capture what Robert Kirkman has so gloriously accomplished. Written By Matt Miner and illustrated by Sean Von Gorman we get bloody good tale of a touring punk rock band with a zombie curse mysteriously cast upon them. They fight with the urges to eat flesh as they spend only part of the time as undead (from what I can tell thus far it seems right before they hit the stage) and when they do turn into flesh eaters they spend much of their time ripping apart Nazi Skinheads, angry moms and pissed off bible thumpers!
This series so far really reminds me of something you might have found in a punk rock fanzine back in the 1990’s, full of crude humor & gore, while hitting on several political and social issues like racism, homophobia and nut job religious groups like the Westboro Baptist Church. It follows the bands exploits while giving us brief flashbacks of how the band came to be and just how they developed into zombies. If you’re looking for a serious zombie epic you’ll most likely be a bit disappointed here, but if you’re looking for a good tongue in cheek comedy you’ll probably dig Toe Tag Riot quite a bit.
The first read really reminded me of a canadian vampire flick called “Suck” which had a pretty similar premise but not hitting on issues Toe Tag Riot delves into. If you’re familiar with that movie, the band, like in Toe Tag Riot are struggling with their popularity & end up tragically becoming Vampires. They use their unique new attributes to their advantage to hit the big time. Still I found the first two issues to be a pretty sweet little ball of mayhem and I’m curious to see where the next couple take us.
A fun read which would go down nice with a few stiff drinks, the only part of it I wasn’t particularly keen on was the odd inclusion of the main dude from ‘Fall Out Boy’ into the story-not exactly screaming punk rock to me at least, I’m actually kinda hoping that guy gets eaten by the band (nothing personal, I just think that’d be kinda cool)….. either way Check it out! A cool zombie comic that’s quite a bit different from the herd!
Hey not everyone can afford to pick up a heavy load of comic books every week, that clearly will set you back some serious cash especially during the spendy holiday season! So I’m reporting to you a good solid pick this week and that particular book is Image’s “Rumble” #1! John Arcudi, James Harren & Dave Stewart’s brand new series hit shelves yesterday and it’s a helluva good first issue! You can pretty much expect that you’re going to get something pretty unique when Arcudi’s name is attached to the project and this here is no exception to that rule.
There’s something sinister in the air here, and most of it takes place late night at a lonely dive bar. This is where bartender Bobby and his sole customer a old regular named Rufus are quietly shooting the shit about relationships. As the night comes to an end Rufus hits the streets only to be attacked by a giant scarecrow like creature wielding a gigantic sword. Rufus heads back into the bar, missing an arm and we are treated to an truly awesome bar room brawl.
This is all put to life by the brilliant art of Dave Stewart and the story doesn’t simply end there. Add some skeptical cops to the mix along with more creatures into the equation and I was already more than ready to dive into the second issue. Without spoiling any of the rest I’m just going to say if you’re a fan of swords, mystery, monsters and not the usual cast of pretty people we often see in comics then you’ll eat this first issue up. Arcudi really has a unique way with character development too, he gives them real life personalities which make it incredibly easy to get hooked into whatever story he’s got to tell.
This story could really go anywhere from this point and that’s what’s so damn good about it. I recommend checking this out as it’s off to a great first issue and definitely worth the $3.50!
Late last night I finished reading Walking Dead #132, and just as this book was finally starting to grab my interest again it kind shifted back into the same gears it has been for far too long. So stop reading now if you fear any SPOILERS! I’ve said it here for quite some time now, that this title needs a major injection of something different to add some new excitement to it’s ongoing apocalyptic story. Well most recently we had a stir of exactly that, when a group from Rick’s settlement stumbled upon supposed zombies that could speak! The idea of this alone was exciting and intriguing to me, perhaps a little nod to “Day of the Dead” and full of possibilities for future story lines.
Could you imagine a new threat in the form of an intelligent horde of flesh eaters! Now that’s frightening! I imagined villains far more ruthless than Negan or The Governor, an undead villain and the threats that they could pose to the existence of the human race. Well along comes issue #132, and it once again hits upon this new threat now being confirmed by Dante and his crew, the dead indeed are speaking! I felt that surge of excitement I haven’t felt in quite sometime in this title-but then I turned the page and yet something entirely different was revealed, something I had been hoping would not be the case here…The undead are still mindless-we have a new group of evil, evil humans once again…uggh….only this time they are dressing up as zombies. I had figured this might be the case when the idea was first crossed in the book a couple issues back.
My balloon is officially deflated. It seems that Kirkman wishes to keep this title on the same rails it always has been, Zombies=bad, Humans=more bad!! We have read this story countless times here in this title, it was great for the first 100 issues if that. Now though a great opportunity has been missed, the chance to do something different here. Perhaps people are totally digging this comic book still and I’m totally off base here and runnin’ my mouth like a mo-fo?!
Still I can’t help but wonder how this title could be if Kirkman wasn’t so afraid to break the mold he’s made for this series. What about the rest of the world? No one in Rick’s company cares to know if perhaps there are areas that are safe or unaffected? They just wanna build this little settlement and live? No one cares about a cure? What if there’s more to this whole story, one that’s larger than Rick? Are we at this point just supposed to accept that Rick is starting civilization again and that the rest of the world is a total wasteland? I’d love to see these questions answered and I’d love to see this threat evolve into something more interesting, if zombies can be a reality what else might be out there? Unfortunately that’s a subject Kirkman doesn’t feel confident enough to explore, I love a good drama but come on, this book could be SO much more today…please tell me what all of you think?! Am I just a Walking Dead hater?!!
The Death of Wolverine #2 is a comic book I’ve really been looking forward to for the last week! I was super impressed with the first issue even though it was five bucks and had a bunch of useless filler, it felt in part like the old Wolverine stories I used to love! So issue two continues the story in the classic setting of Madripoor- One of my favorite places in the Marvel Universe! There we meet a disguised Logan (“hipster Logan”, I personally would have preferred “Patch”instead) who’s been hanging out there for weeks looking for Viper, with some valuable merchandise for sale. This leads Logan to an odd encounter with several villains from his past. Sounds cool huh?
Well I don’t wanna spoil anything but it all seems a bit too forced. We’ve got important characters that disappear from the pages of the story as fast as they appear. Maybe this series needed to be a six or eight parter instead of four? It already is feeling a bit rushed, issue #2 feels quite a bit different from the first. I would have liked to have seen at least two issues of Madripoor and now it appears at the end of this issue we are off to yet another “classic” locale.
The story at issue two has lost it’s flow and lost my interest substantially. I get it now, they’re trying to cram as many classic characters into this four part series as possible and it seems issue three is likely to continue doing the same. Considering that how large the panels per page are in this series so far (a lot of panels simply divide up on single drawing into multiples) it’s likely that we’re not going to get the quality story telling we’d thought we were promised with issue number one. I’m on board for the last two though, I could easily be proven wrong and might be simply dazzled by the last two.
However, with issue number two and it’s rather paper thin plot, uninspired and unnecessary fight sequences and mish mash of random classic characters coming and going I’m starting to think it’s hard to make Wolverine interesting anymore for more than a single issue. At least McNiven’s art is still beautifully rendered. Oh yeah this issue is also 5 bucks and jam packed with a bunch of dull extras that somehow Marvel thinks justify the high cover price. What I predict we’re in store for is a rushed storyline that could have been amazing. If they don’t pull this off correctly I doubt anyone will be be anticipating Wolverine’s return from the dead anytime soon…