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Posts Tagged ‘Secret Empire’

The Stack-6/14 & 6/21/17

In new books, reviews on June 22, 2017 at 11:49 pm

Bah-weep-Graaaaagnah wheep ni ni bong, everybody! So yeah, you COULD go and see YET ANOTHER pandering, garbled mess of a Transformers movie this weekend, OR you can hear me out for a minute and learn about all of the amazing comic books that came out recently, and spend your hard-earned energon on those instead, thus making the world a better place. If Transformers 5 had a poor showing at the box office, perhaps Hollywood would get the message that we’re tired of formulaic shit. With comics sales on the rise, perhaps we’ll just continue to get more of them, and their creators won’t need to rely on Patreon to make ends meet. Some win-win food for thought, free of charge.

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Let’s start with last week’s books, which I failed to cover in a timely fashion because, despite having played every single Persona game, I am still terrible at time management. More accurately, the little time I had left after playing Persona 5 for far too long was not managed well. I am merely mortal, folks, and my hobbies are many. Okay, before this goes from digression to full blown video game review, let’s get to the comics.

Cinema Purgatorio #10 (Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill, Garth Ennis, Raulo Caceres, Max Brooks, Gabriel Andrade, Keiron Gillen, Nahuel Lopez, Christos Gage, Kurt Hathaway-Avatar Press): Look, I know the arguments. Many of you have Alan Moore burnout. They just announced a Watchmen reboot TV show. You’re tired of his name being used as comic book cool kid currency. Perhaps you don’t like just how often sexual assault shows up in his work. Just bear with me for a moment, and trust in your old pal Jared. He won’t steer you wrong, even when he talks in the third person like a total wanker. This book is REALLY good. All of the work in it is strong, and it contains one of my favorite Moore stories, which goes right up there with Promethea and Miracleman. We see from the point of view of the main character that they are trapped in a purgatory consisting of an old movie house, one which shows films that are familiar, but also bizarre. Moore uses this as his platform to dissect the malicious underbelly of Hollywood and other studios responsible for the cartoons, movies, and news reels of yesteryear. This latest installment is pure inspired brilliance. In it we’re subjected to a children’s film starring precocious, sleuthing scamps who, appropriately enough, are investigating a cursed cinema. The kids’ aunt mentions that movies played there skip, are missing frames, and that sometimes a hair will get caught in the gate of the projector. Soon after, those things happen to the very film these kids are IN, only from their perspective that manifests as time jumps and an otherworldly centipede demon. Things go from innocence to horror so quickly that it is genuinely jarring. You can say a lot about Alan Moore, but you cannot say that he has lost his ability to layer a unique story, and deliver it with real impact.

Winnebago Graveyard #1 (Steve Niles, Alison Sampson, Stephane Paitreau, Aditya Bidikar-Image): Steve Niles is one of comicdom’s great horror writers, responsible for fan favorites like 30 Days of Night and Criminal Macabre. In his latest, a miniseries about a family taking a road trip that goes horribly awry, he combines some of the great horror movie tropes like creepy carnivals and small town death cults into something uniquely unnerving. What really makes it all gel so well is the sketchy, atmospheric look of Alison Sampson’s artwork. I keep paging through and finding new details.

Secret Empire #4 (Nick Spencer, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Sunny Gho, Rod Reis, Joshua Cassara, Rachelle Rosenberg, VC’s Travis Lanham-Marvel): Just a quick word or two on this issue. There is some new, messed-up fusion of Hank Pym and Ultron that lives in Alaska, and it is my new favorite thing in the Marvel Universe. That is all.

Green Valley #9 (Max Landis, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cliff Rathburn, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Pat Brosseau-Image): The exploits of the Knights of Kelodia come to an end in this oversized final issue, and it’s a surprisingly happy end for our heroes, having overcome a time-travelling criminal from the future and his pet dinosaurs. I’m eager to see more from everyone involved with this title. It was a beautifully constructed little crowd pleaser.

Bug! The Adventures of Forager #2 (Lee Allred, Michael Allred, Laura Allred, Nate Piekos of Blambot-DC/Young Animal): The Allred family are unique in the comics world for many reasons, but after reading another issue of Bug! two things stand out most to me: They have a genuine reverence for the classics, and they communicate that love with a carefree, adventurous spirit that you can’t help but smile at. If I didn’t hate garbage words like ‘wholesome’ so much, I’d use it to describe this. It’s fun but never too cheesy. It’s like your dad showing you his comic collection, if your dad had a brief flirtation with psychedelics and a proper love of Jack Kirby. Set in World War Two, this month’s journey has appearances from The Losers, Sandman, Blue Beetle, and lots of abominable snowmen.

Bitch Planet Triple Feature #1 (Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Maria Fröhlich, Andrew Aydin, Joanna Estep, Conley Lyons, Craig Yeung, Marco D’Alfonso-Image): One thing I believe that we need a lot more of in comics are rebellious political voices. I mean that. Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro’s Bitch Planet has been leading the charge, telling the story of a prison planet exclusively for women who will not submit to the will of men, and doing it with a middle finger planted firmly in your face the whole time. The Triple Feature lets some other creative teams add to this world, showing what perceived transgressions can get a woman, in an already bad set of circumstances, with the deck stacked against her, arrested, banished, and confined. Each tale is disturbingly familiar, but ends in a defiant awakening for the main character. And just like in the core title, there are some really thought-provoking essays included at the end.

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Moving on to the current week. It just MIGHT be my favorite of 2017 so far. It was a magical rainbow of genre, tone, and nudity, like a swinger party sponsored by Skittles. Now that that awkward simile is out of my system, let’s take a look at the highlights.

Shirtless Bear-Fighter #1 (Jody Leheup, Sebastian Girner, Nil Vendrell, Mike Spicer, Dave Lanphear-Image): The following sentence is entirely true: This comic book is about a man with a huge dong who loves flapjacks and punching bears. If that doesn’t sell you on the book, I don’t think anything will. Inspired lunacy in the spirit of recent Image greats like Chew and God Hates Astronauts.

Nick Fury #3 (James Robinson, Aco, Hugo Petrus, Rachelle Rosenberg, Travis Lanham-Marvel): This book is an absolute work of art. I obsessively study each issue, because they are a perfect storm of story and art, form and flash. It’s a straightforward spy thriller at its core, but that simple framework allows the penciller, inker, and colorist to craft a mesmerizing sensory overload on each page. It’s bold, and it’s enchanting, like the man himself.

Royal City #4 (Jeff Lemire, Steve Wands-Image): This was a gut punch right in the feels. If you too are a struggling creative person who bailed on your hometown as soon as you possibly could, and are now staring down the barrel of forty, trying to formulate a plan for your third act, you will probably weep like a baby after reading this.

God Country #6 (Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Jason Wordie, Dee Cunniffe, John J. Hill-Image): Speaking of crying, in this final issue Donny Cates and company totally stick the landing in this tale of fathers and sons and giant magic swords. It beautifully conveys how precious and brief human lives are, and how they transcend and become immortal through story and memory, though not in a saccharine way. These characters are Texas boys, after all.

The Mighty Thor #20 (Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, Matthew Wilson, Valerio Schiti, Veronica Gandini, VC’s Joe Sabino-Marvel): Now let’s stop being mopey and move on to– ah crap, time for more crying. SPOILERS Jane, trying to explain herself to the Odinson, collapses on the ground, possibly succumbing at last to her cancer, and it occurs just as the realm of Nidavellir is attacked, with Muspelheim Firefly Riders burning a camp of elf refugees. Volstagg of the Warriors Three has children with him during the attack, and they die in his arms. In a daze, he goes to Old Asgard and discovers the hammer of Ultimate Thor, calling to him. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new War Thor. SHIT IS ON.

Plastic #3 (Doug Wagner, Daniel Hillyard, Laura Martin, Ed Dukeshire-Image): Okay, we need to have a brief discussion about this book, since we’re in Downerland at the moment. I think it may have crossed a line. I know how that sounds. It is, after all, a book about a guy brutally killing others who have wronged his sex doll. But wow, there is some absolutely repugnant sexual assault in this issue. And while the woman involved survives it, and even asks to join Edwyn on his bloody quest for revenge, it just feels like too much. It feels lurid, and too easily dismissed. If you’ve read it too and want to exchange notes, please do so, because this one really bugs me.

Crosswind #1 (Cat Staggs, Gail Simone, Simon Bowland-Image): And that brings us to Gail Simone’s newest book, in what I’m ashamed to say is my worst segue ever. It too involves a woman who, while not physically attacked, is harassed and belittled to the point where it will fill you with rage just reading about it. But then the twist hits, and you get the suspicion that all this is building to what can only be described as Grade A motherfucking comeuppance. SPOILERS It would appear that this browbeaten housewife has just switched bodies with a man so stone cold that he shot his childhood friend dead just to keep his boss happy. It’s the ‘Freaky Friday’ body swap trope, but I’m completely confident that there’s much more in store than just a couple of fish out of water.

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 (Chip Zdarsky, Adam Kubert, Jordie Bellaire-Marvel): Let’s end back on a fun and silly note, shall we? Cool. So even if you only possess a passing knowledge of modern Marvel comics, you know that there are a buttload of Spider-People running around, including multiple versions of Spider-Man. Among them of course is the original Peter Parker, primarily over in The Amazing Spider-Man. That’s where all the drama happens, and that’s fine, but too often it feels like something is missing. That something is Spidey’s trademark wisecracks, quips, and put downs. Where did they go? Fear not, because Chip Zdarsky is here with a new Spectacular title, chock full of web-swinging and joke-slinging, and plenty of verbal and physical sparring with folks like The Human Torch, Ant-Man, and Ironheart. It’s goofy and gleeful, and I suspect it is exactly what folks will be looking for after going to see Homecoming next month.

Okay, it’s time for me to shoosh my face and get some sleep. Thanks for reading comics, and for reading this. Feel free to comment, share, and follow me on various social media spots at the links below. Don’t forget to support your local shops, be good, and I’ll see you crazy kids in seven.

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The Stack-5/17+5/10 & FCBD

In new books, rants, reviews on May 19, 2017 at 12:12 am

It’s been a whole damn month, but I’m back, I’m tipsy, and I have OH so much to share with you from Free Comic Book Day up to this week’s picks. Strap on your crash helmets and pull up your Gallagher (TM) brand plastic tarps, and let’s get messy.

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That other week in comics: Holy shitballs Free Comic Book Day was awesome, the Allred clan serves up some quality quirk, and I continue smooching Image’s butt like they’re sending me original pages from The Maxx. But first, let us pay our respects to a tragically co-opted character:

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You’re in a better place now. One where Richard Spencer can’t get you.

Here comes the Free Comic Book Lightning Round!

Secret Empire/Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (Nick Spencer, Andrea Sorrentino, VC’s Travis Lanham, Chip Zdarsky, Paulo Siqueira, Walden Wong, Cam Smith, Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata-Marvel): The book’s first half, with haunting, gorgeously designed visuals, will no doubt split readers into two camps: those who think Nick Spencer and Marvel are trolling them, and those who come away with the realization that Mjolnir’s most terrifying aspect (and this has been beautifully extrapolated upon courtesy of Jason Aaron and the various Thor books of the last few years) is that ironclad conviction can be perceived as worthiness, and thus leads both good AND evil to power. But enough of that heavy stuff. Let’s talk about how Chip Zdarsky was born to write Peter Parker, and how this book’s Vulture zingers are the proof of that. Love the bold kineticism from the art team, too. There, we talked about it.

I Hate Image (Skottie Young, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Nate Piekos-Image): Gert from I Hate Fairyland goes on a murderous rampage through Bitch Planet, Saga, The Walking Dead, Spawn, Paper Girls, and more, poking fun along the way. It is the greatest and I love it. I love it into little bitty widdle pieces.

X-O Manowar/Secret Weapons/Bloodshot Salvation (Matt Kindt, Cafu, Andrew Dalhouse, Dave Sharpe, Eric Heisserer, Raúl Allén, Patricia Martín, David Lafuente, Jeff Lemire, Juan José Ryp, Simon Bowland-Valiant): Like the whole Valiant line in general, not a bad one in the bunch, whether it’s watching a barbarian stab aliens, a young woman talk to birds, or nanites trying to understand human memories.

Boom! Studios 2017 Summer Blast (David Petersen, Sam Sykes, Selina Espiritu, Sarah Stern, Jim Campbell, Liz Prince, Amanda Kirk, Hannah Fisher-Boom!): All ages fun galore, from the always-amazing fantasy adventure of Mouse Guard to the manga-inspired culinary silliness of Brave Chef Brianna to the musical, Wawa hoagie-worshipping high jinks of Coady and the Creepies.

Big Brass Balls Award 2017 goes to:

Spongebob Freestyle Funnies, for dropping some truth about our dysfunctional relationship with Diamond Distribution. Savage.

Moving on to the picks of last week:

Bug! The Adventures of Forager #1 (Lee Allred, Michael Allred, Laura Allred, Nate Piekos-DC Young Animal): So this is what happens when the zany creator of classics like Madman gets his whole family involved with cherished characters from the mind of the one and only Jack Kirby. You get trippy dream worlds, jokes about Camus, all kinds of pop culture references, and the sort of high-energy heroics that are worthy of the source material. Young Animal does it again. Two antennae up.

The Fix #9 (Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, Ryan Hill, Ironbark-Image): This comic consistently makes me literally (yes, I’m using it correctly here; If you mean figuratively, then fucking SAY figuratively) laugh out loud, and that is something that few books can do. Johnny the Homicidal Maniac did it. Dork did it. Now this does. There’s meth jokes and granny innuendo jokes and Hollywood jokes and BDSM jokes and it all lands every time. Oh, and there’s a cute dog. So you can always buy it for that.

Regression #1 (Cullen Bunn, Danny Luckert, Marie Enger-Image): I needed some more gross-out horror in my life. No, wait, that isn’t true at all. I don’t need it. I just like it. Because of chemical imbalances and an adolescence spent watching Troma films. Anyway, Regression delivers on that end, delving into the creepy world of hypnotherapy and past lives, and doing so with an art team that can deftly juxtapose bros at a cookout with bugs shooting out of corpses. Grab the popcorn!

Shade the Changing Girl #8 (Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Saida Temofonte-DC Young Animal): The soul of an alien poet, set loose among the grimdark bustle of Gotham. This creative team has done something truly special, and they have more than earned the right to continue the Shade story. This is something that we’ll all be coming back to decipher, years down the road. It’s your teenage shadow talking to you, through that wild place inside that you rarely visit anymore.

Black Cloud #2 (Jason Latour, Ivan Brandon, Greg Hinkle, Matt Wilson, Dee Cunniffe, Aditya Bidikar-Image): There was some blowback on the first issue of this one, with cries of ‘too impenetrable’ rising above the usual critical din. Me, I love a good mystery, and I especially love when a story unfolds organically, without a visit from the condescending Exposition Fairy. This issue drops lots of hints through the dialogue, like the characters don’t even care that there’s an audience present, trying desperately to piece together their dilemma. I like that. Your mileage may vary. Bonus points for mocking Trump’s stupid red MAGA hats.

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Now then, THIS week in comics: Marvel cements those new legacy characters in place with feels, DC finally gives us some follow through on Geoff Johns and his nutty Watchmen idea, and #teammargaret gets a big old PLOT TWIST (cue air horn). But first, I just want to give a shout to my main man Rahzzah, who has two new and kick-ass covers out this week:

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Invincible Iron Man #7 (Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, Marte Gracia, VC’s Clayton Cowles-Marvel): At last the cold, hard truth gets addressed: Riri is a kid, and has nearly zero experience fighting super villains. Her mind is elsewhere when she runs into Will O’ The Wisp, and she gets knocked out, saved only by the swift intervention of the Tony Stark AI. Now please understand, I love this book, but I’m hoping we soon see one of the supporting characters step in and just say what we’re all thinking: It is GROSSLY negligent to let this young woman act as Iron Man. Genius-level intellect is great, but it won’t help much when the punching starts. She has her whole life ahead of her, and Secret Empire is right up in her grill, and it won’t end well without better planning and a LOT more training. Do it, Bendis.

The Wild Storm #4 (Warren Ellis, Jon Davis-Hunt, Steve Buccellato, Simon Bowland-DC): Sure, there’s a lot going on in this issue, what with all the Covert Action Team stuff and the shooty and the boom-boom. But let’s fast-forward to Weatherman. He arrives on his space station and proceeds to dress down every subordinate within earshot, and it is just Ellis at his cranky best. The banter between he and Ms. Pennington is reminiscent of Spider Jerusalem and his ‘filthy assistants’ from the deservedly praised Transmetropolitan. And the art is just goddamn majestic. This crew makes the man-made downright picturesque.

Curse Words #5 (Charles Soule, Ryan Browne, Michael Garland, Michael Parkinson, Chris Crank-Image): Here we go. Wizord versus Ruby Stitch. The battle rages over Las Vegas, and our hero taps into the power of luck to recharge the magical batteries, so that he can. . . um. . . SPOILERS animate a fake Eiffel Tower. Yeah. That goes about as well as you’re thinking. Meanwhile, in flashback, we discover the scandalous truth about Margaret: she’s the daughter of these two, and for some reason none of them recall this fact. Ruby relents when Wizord concedes, and Sizzajee cuts her loose. So much drama! In pretty much unrelated news, the awesome Van Tour for this comic will NOT be coming to my shop, and it makes me incredibly sad. If you’re near any of the stops this Summer, do yourself a favor and check it out. It will be magical and beardy!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #20 (Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, Travis Lanham-Marvel): So Melissa Morbeck has devices that allow her to control animals, and is using them to frame Colleen while also framing Doctor Doom. It’s a villain scheme, so naturally it’s unnecessarily complex and therefore full of opportunities for thwarting. Guess what? That is exactly what happens. You knew that was going to happen, but think of how much we learned along the way. We found out that freshwater snail parasites kill a LOT of people, that there is a squirrel in New York named Li’l Busta, that helicopters are super noisy, and that EMPs make sounds when required by the drama of a story. Beat THAT, Bill Nye!

The Wicked + The Divine 455 (Kieron Gillen, André Araújo, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles, Dee Cunniffe-Image): Kieron asks a lot of his audience. You have to know all this stuff about gods and mythology, and then all this other stuff about pop stars and usually some obscure Britpop junk, and NOW he wants you to recall your Roman history. Jeez, dude. Remember Julius Caesar? Well, according to the conceit of this comic, he’s actually Lucifer, and he wants nothing less than to deny his destiny and be the Emperor of Rome. It does not end well for him. Don’t worry, Ananke will fix it, and keep the history books just the way we remember them. You know, IF we had read them, and not doodled phalluses in them instead.

Quick news update: This November, DC is going to release Doomsday Clock, which will tell the story that Geoff Johns initially envisioned about the role that the Watchmen play in this newly reborn universe. If it is true that it is stand-alone, was inspired by the current zeitgeist, and gives us more than the recent lenticular Flashfest known as ‘The Button’ did, then I’ll gladly pick it up. Though it’s Alan Moore blasphemy of the highest order, I’m curious to see what Johns has in mind, and what it says about the ‘grim and gritty’ era finally meeting its maker at this particular publisher. To be continued.

Well, I hope that somewhat made up for my extended absence. As always, thank you for reading, and for reading this blog. You can follow my silly ass on Twitter at @rabbit11comics , and on Instagram at rabbit11comics. Feel free to comment and share, be sure to support your local shops, be good, and I’ll see you in seven.

No, seriously. This will be weekly again.