Archive for Freelancers

Blood and Thunder


American Vampire: The Long Road to Hell

A new American Vampire comic! After much too many months since the hiatus began, too. I consider this a good thing, even if it’s just a one-shot.

It’s 1959. The guy on the cover is Travis Kidd, a vampire hunter who likes to wear a set of wooden fangs so he can “bite them back” before he kills vamps. But our main characters are Billy Bob Lee and Jolene Gibbons, a couple of hip kids who make their money going to dances in Nebraska and heisting wallets when no one’s looking. But they run into serious trouble one night when they both get attacked by the undead and turned into vampires. The local vamps want Billy Bob and Jolene to work for them as thieves, but they manage to escape, eventually picking up a little kid, an orphaned hitchhiker named Jasper who claims to be able to sense evil people. They bring him along so they can use him to find people they won’t mind killing, while racing to Las Vegas to find a rumor they’ve heard about a cure for vampirism. Can they manage to survive Travis Kidd? Will they make it to Vegas?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So very nice. Yeah, it’s extra large and it costs seven dollars, but I think this one is worth it. It’s a great story by Scott Snyder with great art by Rafael Albuquerque. It’s got great characters and action and dialogue and mood and suspense and romance and horror. You want to go pick this up, kids. Don’t miss out on the fun.


Freelancers #6

The final issue of the series sees Val, Cass and Katherine Rushmore fighting against almost all the gangs in Los Angeles to try to bring Drachmann, one of their former teachers at the orphanage, to justice. Can they handle overwhelming odds, betrayals, torn clothing, and inadequate weaponry to come out on top?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mostly action, action, action, but it seems like the right ending for the series, which has worked really hard from the beginning to replicate your average high-octane action movie.


Worlds’ Finest #13

Huntress and Power Girl are on the run from Desaad’s minions, particularly his giant quasi-dog monster. Aaaaand that’s pretty much it.

Verdict: Thumbs down. So very not interesting.

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All the Things are Great


FF #6

This is just a plain great issue. Dragon Man tries to figure out where Medusa and Bentley-23 have vanished to. Scott Lang continues to slide into depression, if not madness, because of the death of his daughter. She-Hulk and Ahura visit the Inhumans to see if they know where Medusa is, and they get to bring Lockjaw home with them. This is good because Lockjaw is awesome.

The bulk of the story focuses on the Yancy Street Gang, which is not happy that Darla Deering is wearing a Thing exoskeleton that Ben Grimm wore once when he didn’t have his powers. They hack her cell phone and give the photos she took of herself wearing silly helmets to the Daily Bugle. They also invade one of her concerts, throw food at her, and chase her out of the concert hall. Is there going to be any way to appease Ben Grimm’s fanatical foes/fans?

And there’s one little scene with the Moloids that we will discuss in detail a bit later.

Verdict: Thumbs up. How many thumbs up? All of the thumbs. It’s clever and cute and funny and cool in all the right ways. Joe Quinones is the artist on this issue, doing a great job of aping Mike Allred’s style. Matt Fraction just writes a hell of a fun comic. There are so many excellent bits here: The D.O.O.M.H.E.R.B.I.E.S., She-Hulk’s expression when she sees the newspaper, the sleazy Internet cafe, Artie and Leech making shadow puppets in the theater, Scott Lang’s deeply creepy nightmare.

But here is the best bit. And I am going to spoil it completely for you. It is just so good, that I don’t care. I’m going to spoil it because you should be reading this comic anyway, people, and if you aren’t, you should be ashamed. I’m going to spoil it because it’s too good not to spoil.

These are the Future Foundation’s evolved Moloids Tong, Turg, Mik, and Korr:






That’s just a single page. It goes from sublimely ridiculous — a Moloid wearing a dress is silly, I don’t care what anyone says — to astonishingly, gloriously, heartwarmingly beautiful. Gail Simone’s “Batgirl” got all kinds of big publicity when Barbara’s roommate came out as transgender — and I think Gail is just entirely awesome, y’all know that — but this one page, with a Moloid in a party dress and her family who love her no matter what — it’s a billion times better than that issue of “Batgirl.” It’s better than anything else I’ve read this year.

If you’re not reading FF, you need to start doing it as quickly as you can.


Freelancers #5

Val and Cass have joined forces with their mostly-hated rival Katherine Rushmore, as they try to foil Drachmann’s plans to take over Los Angeles. They help reform one of Drachmann’s minions, then recruit Patrick, their… what do you call a guy who hands out assignments for freelance bounty hunters/bodyguards? I dunno, we’ll call him their assignment manager. Anyway, they recruit him to help fight Drachmann, too. And the four of them go walking into the nightclub where Drachmann is building up his army of goons. Do they have a chance? Maybe… but maybe not, once all the betrayals start to pile up.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, drama, dialogue, and humor. I’m enjoying this plenty, and it looks like it’s all building up to an ending. I thought this was going to be an ongoing series? Not sure now…

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Love is in the Air


FF #4

The bulk of this issue focuses on She-Hulk going out on a date with Wyatt Wingfoot, and the hilarious and fruitless attempts by Bentley-23 and the lovestruck Moloids to try to derail that date with good old-fashioned mad science. And I don’t know that there’s any need for me to describe it any further than that.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is just an absolutely outstanding comic. From Jen and Wyatt’s adorably perfect date to the increasingly bizarre and entirely hopeless attempts by the kids to ruin the romance, it’s all solid proof that you — yes, you — need to be reading this comic book. Go get it already!


Freelancers #4

Val and Cass have learned that Drachmann, one of their former instructors at the orphanage, killed their sensei and is the leader of a secret organization dedicated to destroying Los Angeles. Looking for a way to track him down, they pay a visit to Patrick, the guy who gets them their freelancer assignments, and he points them toward a likely target who’ll need them as bodyguards. Ricky Saint is a hip-hop star who claims to be a former gangster — but he’s actually stolen the identity and backstory of a real gangster. Now the gangster is out of jail and looking to bump Ricky off during a big concert. Can Val and Cass manage to keep Ricky Saint alive with multiple assassins gunning for him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action and nice dialogue. The whole comic is just good escapist fun. Ain’t nothing wrong with good escapist fun.

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Dearly Unloved


Batgirl #16

Well, the Joker wants to marry Batgirl, and he’s got a horde of henchmen holding guns on her to make sure she goes through with the ceremony. But once he pulls out a chainsaw and announces his plan to cut off her arms and legs, she thinks better of it and starts trashing his lackeys. And then James Gordon, Jr., Barbara’s psychotic brother, shows up, brandishes some hand grenades, and tells Batgirl that he’s already freed her mom. That leaves Batgirl free to really cut loose on the bad guys. Will she be able to keep herself from killing the Joker? Or is she about to get hit with a double-dose of betrayal?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action, drama, suspense, characterization, so very many double-crosses, and a completely nerve-wracking cliffhanger. Is it any wonder why Gail Simone is DC’s most popular writer?


Freelancers #3

Val and Cass have discovered that the kung-fu orphanage where they grew up, the House of Little Fortunes, has been taken over by the unscrupulous Drachmann and their rival Katherine Rushmore, who’ve turned it into a fast-track ninja factory. Our heroes are outmatched — until Drachmann raises the stakes by telling them what happened to their old sensei…

Verdict: Thumbs up. The action is really good. The humor is really good. It may be a bit predictable, but to be honest, I didn’t mind too much. It’s a kung-fu epic — one does not expect the old sensei to make it to the final reel.


Captain Marvel #9

It’s a very, very busy day for Carol Danvers — and most of it involves perfectly mundane chores. At least until a crisis with dinosaurs on the loose derails her To-Do list, forcing her to reschedule everything…

Verdict: Thumbs down. I guess it’s a kinda cute “Day in the Life” story, but it’s really just a bit too mundane. And worse than that is the art. Ye gods, the artwork is horrific. I haven’t seen art this bad in a mainstream comic from the Big Two in a very, very long time. Bad form, Marvel.

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Under Your Skin

Colder #1

Well, there we go, ain’t that something to wake up to in the morning? If there’s a prize for the Most Beautifully Well-Done Yet Least Pleasant To Look At comic cover, I think this one has a shot for first place.

So we start out at mental hospital in 1941. A disastrous fire has engulfed the building, and while the doctors and nurses try to either restrain the patients or let them loose — and while the patients themselves either run amok or die — something strange happens, and a hole in reality is opened up. A man — or something — calling himself Nimble Jack steps through, picks out a random patient named Declan, and tells him “You will grow… colder.”

From there, we jump forward to present day Boston, where Nimble jack makes his way into another mental hospital, persuades an inmate to hang himself, and then eats his soul.

Elsewhere, Reece, a nurse, gets mugged, and while giving her statement to the police, draws the attention of Nimble Jack — apparently, no one is able to see him, so he tags along to her home, where we learn that she is now the guardian of Declan, still alive, still looking the same, but catatonic, gray-skinned and with a body temperature of only 47 degrees. It’s only after Nimble Jack has a demented one-way conversation with Declan that he unexpectedly comes out of his catatonia…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A lot of this issue is devoted to setting the stage for the story to come. We get an excellent villain in Nimble Jack, we get an interesting, charismatic heroine in Reece, we get a fully mysterious hero in Declan. The scenes in the 1941 asylum are probably a bit over-the-top — most mentally ill people aren’t particularly cartoonishly deranged like the people here — but it’s definitely creepy and bizarre storytelling. I’m looking forward to more of the story, though I think I also hope the future covers aren’t quite as squick-inducing…

Freelancers #1

So here’s Val and Cassie — best friends, orphans, martial artists, and freelance bounty hunters. They start out on the trail of Lobo Ramirez, a stylish crook with a stylish wildcat, before they lose him (but nab the wildcat) then get tossed off the case by their boss, in favor of a Katherine Rushmore, a high-profile freelancer and rival for the girls. But they get an inside tip on where they can track down Ramirez — but they’ll have to fight their way through his entire crew first. Why is a simple job getting so dang complicated?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Appealing characters, good action, excellent humor, and an actual fer-realz mystery. Cheesecake? Yeah, there’s a little of that. Most of the emphasis is on action, humor, and character, though, so this comic feels like a winner to me.

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