Archive for August, 2010

Zombie Shuffle

iZombie #4

Gwen the gravedigging detective zombie and Ellie the ’60s ghost have discovered the killer, Amon, a man who claims to have died and risen from the dead in ancient Egypt. He says he only kills because he has to from time to time, and he only takes those whose deaths would benefit society. Gwen isn’t sure whether to believe him, so he takes her on a psychic journey through his life and explains the esoteric origins of various different monsters and supernatural powers. Elsewhere, Horatio and his fellow monster-hunter try to capture Claire the vampire before she can kill Spot’s friend Ashok. Spot, meanwhile, has been outed as a wereterrier to another of his friends — and he takes it in stride so they can play video games.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I especially enjoyed Amon’s descriptions of the undersoul and the oversoul, and how their presence or absence creates everything from zombies and werewolves to poltergeists and possessions. I’ve been praising Mike Allred’s artwork and Laura Allred’s colors, but Chris Roberson’s writing is also a ton of fun. This series has been a lot of fun so far — make sure you pick it up.

Crossed: Family Values #3

Adaline has discovered that her family’s completely rotten to the core — her survivalist father has raped and impregnated his daughter Kayleen, who’s chained up in the barn because she’s become one of the psychotically murderous Crossed. And dad has decided he’s God’s prophet so he can do whatever he wants, which includes beating Adaline down and locking her up. Her mother has gone at least as crazy as her dad, and she’s willing to excuse anything he does — you don’t go against God’s prophet, right? And a horde of the Crossed have just discovered the family compound, which sets Dad off even more. He declares Adaline to be of the Devil, beats her, rapes her, and prepares to expose her to Crossed blood, which would turn her into a monster, too. This is finally too much for Mom, so she locks herself in a cell with her husband, pours a jar of the Crossed blood on herself and kills Dad. Adaline makes it through the compound, now mostly overrun by the Crossed, kills her sister Kayleen (who’d just cut herself open so she could eat her unborn baby), and escapes with the few survivors of the compound. Oh, hey, did I just spoil the entire issue for you? Yes, I do believe I did!

Verdict: Thumbs down. I can deal with a lot of death, depravity, nudity, gore, and perversion — but only when there’s a good story to go along with it. And while the story here has actually managed to go farther on the gore/depravity/nudity/perversion scale than Garth Ennis ever dreamed in the first “Crossed” series, it’s also gotten nowhere near Ennis’ storytelling prowess. While I still recommend the first “Crossed” series for any adult fan of bleeding-edge horror, I can’t recommend this series for anyone, and I’m dropping it as of now.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Here’s an impossibly awesome Eisner-award-winning comic by Mike Mignola and his seven-year-old daughter.
  • I don’t normally think much of cosplay weddings, but this one seemed cuter than normal.
  • You’re actually hearing foolish people talking now about repealing the 14th Amendment. Aside from being nothing more than a dim political stunt (the Republicans couldn’t even pass a flag-burning amendment when they had the presidency and both houses of Congress — so this is just some red meat to throw to the Know-Nothings), this is about a heck of a lot more than “anchor babies.” The 14th was passed because some states were passing laws keeping blacks from their rights as full citizens, and it prevents any government from arbitrarily taking away your citizenship. That’s what political dimwits are talking about when they say they want to repeal it — they’re talking about getting rid of a lot of the stuff that really keeps you free.

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Honest Abe

Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #2

Abe and another B.P.R.D. operative are aboard a small salvage ship that has just recovered a magical helmet called Melchiorre’s Burgonet from a long sunken Soviet submarine. And they soon get an unexpected visitor — the walking corpse of a decades-drowned Russian sailor. Abe soon recognizes him as the sailor he’d found in the submarine chamber holding the helmet — but after decades deep undersea, surface gravity is making him sag and fall apart a lot. And Abe realizes that the zombie isn’t attacking anyone, despite getting shot — he’s only there to guard the helmet. Wrapped around the main story are a couple of smaller stories — a modern-day Soviet sailor who plans to man the underwater salvage suit to recover the helmet for Mother Russia, and in the past, how the Russian sailor aboard the sub was originally assigned to guard the helmet.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Just an excellent story from beginning to end. Amazing (and sometimes very, very gory) artwork by Peter Snejbjerg and great storytelling by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi. Loved the characterization on everyone, particularly the Russian soldiers, who have great motivations and personalities. And we get to see Varvara, the extremely cute/creepy little girl who runs the USSR’s paranormal research and acquisition division. Can we have a whole series focusing on Varvara? She’s awesome.

Buzzard #2

The Buzzard, a friend of the Goon’s who is immortal and subsists on eating dead people, is traveling the rough and scary country in the company of a small boy who has a case of hero worship. He asks Buzzard to teach him how to be an assassin, and Buzzard reacts by forcing the kid to shoot him in the face — it won’t hurt him, and he hopes to dissuade the kid from violence. But it’s a rough, terrifying land, so he agrees to show him how to work a gun. Eventually, they run into a cult preparing to sacrifice a girl, and after they run off the cultists, they’ve got a new traveling companion. In the backup story, “Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Pit of Horrors,” Billy and his friends are attacked by a monster-witch who splits in two — the top half can fly, and the bottom half has a mouth where her stomach ought to be. She kidnaps the little boy who was traveling with them, and now Billy is going to have to travel into the witch’s lair to get him out.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Buzzard story is full of moody, eerie fantasy/horror with some nice character work for both the Buzzard and his young friend, and the Billy the Kid story reads like the world’s most insane Western-horror shoot-em-up ever. In both cases, I approve, and I want more.

Today’s Cool Links:

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The Blood is the Life

American Vampire #5

New vampire Pearl Jones and her non-vampire friend Henry bring the fight to the Euro-vamps who’ve taken over Hollywood and take ’em down without too much trouble. But Pearl has one last score to settle — Hattie Hargrove, her former friend who sold her out to become a movie star. But Pearl gets a rude surprise — Hattie used Pearl’s blood to turn herself into a vampire! Who wins out when American-born vampire fights American-born vampire? And in our Old West story, written, as always, by Stephen King, former Pinkerton agent James Book has been turned into a vampire by Skinner Sweet, and he’s trying to control his ever-growing bloodlust by sticking to eating sheep and prairie dogs. He finally convinces Abilena Camillo, daughter of his oldest friend, to kill him, but Abi’s fallen in love with him, and she wants something from him first.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent horror storytelling all around. Loved the reveal about Hattie, loved the hints about one of Pearl’s still-unrevealed weaknesses, loved every single appearance of Skinner Sweet, loved the reluctant and still a little creepy love story between James Book and Abi. Good stories, nice endings for the first storyarcs, and I’m definitely looking forward to more.

Madame Xanadu #25

I think Matt Wagner has been watching a lot of “Mad Men” lately. This latest issue is set in ’63 and focuses on a fast-talking Madison Avenue advertising salesman, pitching new ad campaigns to big companies in New York City. But he’s starting to hear voices. Specifically, he’s starting to hear people telling him terrible things, trying to goad him into attacking and killing them. He soon meets up with Madame Xanadu, who tells him that he’s being haunted by an evil spirit that exists to make people go mad and commit murders and other atrocities. She offers a magical rattle he can use to fend off the spirit, but he balks at the idea of waving a rattle around his office. Is there any way to help him if he won’t accept mystical aid?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Laurenn McCubbin‘s art works very well for the early ’60s setting. It doesn’t have the more upbeat ending that we often see in this series, but it has a realistic feel to it — in the modern, rational world, how many people would choose to be driven mad by a demon if the alternative was for their coworkers to think they were nuts for waving a rattle around the office…?

Today’s Cool Links:

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Dark Knight Meets Emerald Knight

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #19

Hal Jordan hates to wait for Batman’s intricate plans, so he ends up getting captured by the Cyborg Superman, who wants access to the technology of the Green Lantern power ring. When the power ring detects the cyborg’s tampering, it immediately leaves Hal to find someone else who can help — and it ends up settling on Batman’s finger, making him the newest member of the Green Lantern Corps. But Batman isn’t a fan of power rings — he’d rather rely on himself and his less-flashy weapons. He and the other Corps members fly to the planet Ranx to rescue Hal, but the Cyborg activates the Manhunters, robots that specialize in draining power rings. For Hal and Batman to stand a chance against the Cyborg Superman, Hal is going to have to learn to plan, and Batman is going to have to learn to use a power ring.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It was kinda cool seeing the old-school Cyborg Superman again, and it’s always fun to see Batman wearing a modified Green Lantern costume.

The Flash #4

Captain Boomerang is out of prison again, and he’s now able to throw black-energy boomerangs like he did when he was a Black Lantern zombie. After Boomerang tries to blow up a police helicopter, Flash uses some super-fast footwork to rescue everyone aboard. Flash also saves the Rogue-inspired future-cops from Boomerang’s assault, inspiring the Top to risk his own life by telling Flash about the future — Mirror Master is going to open a gateway into the Mirror Worlds in an effort to beat the Flash, and one of the villains inside is going to take over Flash’s wife and turn her into a supervillain. The only way to free her will be to kill the person who opened the gateway, which will lead to Flash accidentally killing the future cop analogue of Mirror Master. Where does that leave the Flash?

Verdict: Thumbs up, mostly for that great speed stunt where Flash rescues the cops in the helicopter. The rest of it, I’m not so fond of. There are some serious time travel logic problems in this story — if the future cops arrest Barry Allen prior to the point where he kills the Mirror Monarch, then no one actually kills Mirror Monarch, so there’s no reason to arrest Flash, and they’re doing more damage to the space-time continuum than they are by revealing the truth to him. And I don’t much like the way the mirror gateway part of the story is developing either. It’s either going to be needlessly cruel or a complete anticlimax…

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Jack Kirby’s depictions of God.
  • The article is about the latest round in the legal battles between Neil Gaiman and Todd MacFarlane, but the judge’s ruling leads me to believe we’ve just found the best nerd judge ever.
  • So apparently, when you’re faced with an epidemic of people videotaping crooked/violent/racist cops, the solution isn’t to train cops not to be crooked, violent, or racist, it’s to arrest the people who expose the crooked/violent/racist cops. I’ll, as they say, retire to Bedlam.

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