Sunday, November 15, 2009

You've Been Warned Vol II Issue XXXXII

Comic reviews by a fan, for the fans!

**As always, mind the spoilers, fanboy.**

SPECIAL NOTE: Blogger spell check's down, and I'm once again all doped up on anti-allergy drugs. Don't give me any shit about spelling or incoherent tangents, or I'll eat your severed balls/ovaries.

- OPENING REMARKS -

Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai
By Stan Sakai
Dark Horse Comics


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To look at it, one might wonder what the hell one's pumping out the major bucks for. A manga-sized, hard-covered tale (that doesn't even break the 60 page mark) for fifteen big ones? What the fuck, right? I can't deny that the price of this one-shot is freakin'-frathum ridiculous. It is. Fuck's sake, you guys, the recession isn't THAT over yet. But with Usagi, if you're in for a penny, you're in for a pound. Stan's never let us down before. You can't read this title and not hit up the one-shot, because you know somehow, against all odds, it'll be worth it. And once you get over the initial shock of that steep-as-an-icy-flight-of-stairs price, you're rewarded with what is hands-down the most visually rewarding Stan Sakai piece to date. This author has always been a master storyteller (as multiple Eisner nominations will atest), but never have the visual aspects of his stories been so astounding as they are in Yokai. The coloring in this book is spectacular; rich, vibrant, so brilliant they're practically dripping off the page. I'm dumbfounded by how Sakai's coloring causes the action to leap off the page. It's a strange tango of subltey and aggression, rendered by what I assume is watercolors, which conversely tip-toes or shrieks as the situation dictates.

So, as we've established, the price of the book is just fucking nuts. The story itself is average, and could theoretically have wound up in the regular Usagi title without skipping a beat. But once read, it's easy to see where the extra cost went: the most visually breathtaking artistry in this author's career.

Have a little faith, and pony up the extra cash. Sometimes paying a little more is justified.

From the Ashes
by Bob Fingerman
IDW Press


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Bob Fingerman has a special place in my heart, as he introduced into my life the expression, "BAM! GOT YOU NIGGA!" When I began reading From the Ashes, I have to admit I was hoping for more of the same. Unfortunately this was a touch and go series if I've ever read one. Look up the term "hot and cold" in the dictionary, and you'll find a picture of this book, right next to a picture of yo' mama.

Following the comedic misadventures of the author and his wife in a post-apocolyptic dystopia, our heroes brave the new world order of mutants, cannibals, and evil talk-show pundits in a never-ending struggle that becomes everday life. This series was bogged down by topical, hit-or-miss political and social commentary throughout, which ran the gauntlet between hilarity and mundanity. For us liberals, mongoloids like FOX News pundit Bill O'Reiley and anti-gay bible thumpers are easy targets. Satire against such folks are dime a dozen, and need to be especially keen to transcend being painfully cliche (which lamentably this book failed to accomplish so many times). Depsite that, I feel this series' real shortcoming stemmed from the author's intergration of himself and his wife. As the happy couple were both primary characters, I found myself dogged by the nagging suspicion things weren't being pushed as hard and far as it could have been. For instance, at one point in the narrative the author, having lived what felt like a lifetime in a nuclear wasteland, awakes to find himself in a hospital bed, the victim of a terrorist attack, and his adventures potentially little more than trauma-induced delusions. Despite the predictablility of such a plot device, I was taken aback by the conrast between this event and the otherwise light-hearted nature of the bulk of the tale, and wanted to see the story continue in that direction. But it wasn't capitalized upon, and come next issue it was back to the neo-Christian survival camp, for whatever reason. Perhaps things may have been different if the author hadn't been utilizing himself and his wife as characters, and maybe, just maybe, hesitant to inject a little tragedy into the plot. Gotta have things go happy for you and the little missus, you know?

As much as I'd like to recommend this title, I just can't. There's more bad than good here: heavy heapings of "end of the world" cliches without any insight, a near endless parade of supporting characters, all with the same mannerisms of speech, stale political humor, and one hell of a sappy ending. It's not without its charms either, like the introduction of a certain pair of leather pants, and of course the infamous Fingerman dialogues on everything from birth control to cell phones, which never fail to at least crack a smile upon the icest facial features of curmogeons such as myself. But this series, much like our impending futures, could have been a lot better. Such is life, I suppose. Take this series for what you will.

Hellblazer: Scab
by Peter Milligan & various
Vertigo (DC Comics)


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Can you think of something more horrifying than a ressurrected abortion made out of scabs? If you can, you ought to cram a plot around it and pitch it to Vertigo, see if you can land a writing gig on this title.

Heralding a return to the title's horror roots, Scab finds Peter Milligan dragging everyone's favorite foul-mouthed limey magician through the muck. Being a long time reader of this title, I have to admit that this collection's namesake storyline is extremely disturbing. Not "accidentally seeing your grandma's sagging twat" scary, but "can we sleep with the lights on tonight" scary. Watching someone batter a reconstituted scab child to death with a blunt object will do that.

The collection's two back-up stories, Plague Doctor and The Curse of Christmas (penciled by Eddie Campbell, no less) are more or less unremarkable, maybe even detrimental to the overall impression of the stories. But the Scab storyline is ... it's far out there. And gross. Nothing's much grosser than a pile of scabs.

Gross dude. Just so you know. If you like that kind of shit, well, here you go, you disgusting fuck. Eat it up.

The Zombies that Ate the World
by Jerry Frissen & Guy Davis
Devil's Due Publishing


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Just a quick note: I had a lot of fun with this series. It's not hard for me to have a blast with the zombie medium. I've been rockin' that shit since I was a wee bastard jerkin' it to five seconds of zombie ass in the original NOTLD. So I'm a little biased when it comes to this genre.

That being said, this book's still a lot of fun. It goes many differnt directions that other pieces in the genre have feared to tread, such as necrophelia and, y'know, zomibe Jesus jokes. In fact, this final issue is so nonchaulantly blashpemous that it makes me feel dirty.

There's not a lot of intellectual fodder here. It's mainly stories of a triad of zombie hunters doing fucked up shit (all vibrantly illustrated by the immortal Guy Davis). If you're not bored with the whole "walking dead" thing, and care to see the boundaries of what's good and decent pushed further than they probably should, you've got issues. Issues of The Zomibes that Ate The World, that is.

Aw fuck I just crapped out a one-liner. Sorry. I'm on drugs. Good book. That's the point I was making. Good book.

- PICK OF THE WEEK -
Batman & Robin #6
by Grant Morrison & Philip Tan
DC Comics


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The storyline that reenergized a franchise concluded here, revealing the much reviled Jason Todd as an insidious villain, and introducing a new assortment of fucked-up Bat-villains. This book reminds us of just how freakin' sweet Batman can be, and reminds us that there is no ceiling on the potential awesomeness of the super-hero genre.

It's worth it just to see Robin get capped four, possibly five times in the back/ass.

If you haven't been reading this title you done missed out, bitch. Don't say I didn't tell you so, 'cause I been hyping the shit out of this one since the ghetgo. Better get yourself a trade, fool-ass mother, so you can done do it propah like yo' bitch ass should have the first time.


- PAN OF THE WEEK -
Action Comics #883
by Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, & Pere Perez
DC Comics


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I could have read this book. I didn't. I never will. I only bought it because I was honor bound (I didn't make the cut-off for dropping the title). If I shopped at Mile High Comics I would have told whichever nerdy bitch was behind the counter to take this issue and cram it up his bloated ass 'cause I ain't buyin' it. No more Superman books without Superman in it. I don't care who's on writing duties. Will Eisner could come back from the dead and I still wouldn't read a single word balloon of this crap again. I hope Nightwing and Flamebird die of Kryptonian AIDS and spare us all their prescense. Fuck this shit.

You've been warned.

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