Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Steven's Reviews: Debris, Planet of the Apes, Resident Alien and More!

Debris #1
Looks like a post apocalyptic future where machines look like dinosaurs. They are the last tribe of humans it seems always looking for a source of fresh water. Back to the mechanical dinosaur creatures, there are smaller ones that kind of look like they belong in Mayan or old Indian cultures and larger ones called Colossal’s and well live up to their name.

Maya is the villages’ newest protector, plus she’s managed to take down a Colossal single handedly. During our first visit with her and during her fight with the Colossal her face gets cut and I think this is significant. Don’t ask why just have one of those feelings. We also learn that the beasts’ essence seems to be magical in nature or at least revolves around a crystalline form which allows them to recreate their bodies unless the shard is destroyed.

After an attack on the village something happens and I’m not terribly sure if I have it all down. The village does allow Maya to train an armed force but her own mentor dies and somewhere along the way she needs to find the last source of fresh water on the planet. Oh and she’s fighting to save her fellow humans against all odds.

I’ll be honest I think I was expecting more from this series. I mean this is the creative team behind Green Wake and that is a phenomenal book. It also feels like we’ve entered the series with issue number two instead of one; it makes me wonder if I missed a zero issue in there somewhere. The art is wonderful here it’s clean and crisp and lovely and very descriptive.

Planet of the Apes #16
Boom Studios 2011
Written by Daryl Gregory
Art by Carlos Magno
Colours by Darrin Moore

When the Lawgiver, the revered ape leader was assassinated by a human the city collapsed into a bloody civil war that shattered the fragile peace between ape and human. That war has been raging for the past ten years.

Sully, the leader of the human resistance movement, no longer believes in peace as the answer and now fights back. In her effort to discover who is behind the abduction of her beloved son, Julien, Voice Alaya uncovers a corruption at the heart of the very society she holds dear.

Voice Nerise, the new voices after the coup, is in over her head. She is alienating too many citizens in her effort to solidify control.

Woah, woah, woah Nerise is nothing more than a puppet! Who saw this coming cause I sure as hell didn’t. As of now I’ve got more questions about the kind of man Brother Kale is and what exactly his church believes in. I mean hello, war, rebellion and weapons, strife and now controlling apes into keeping a war going what the heck is going on here? He (Brother Kale) came to skintown on purpose to sow the seed of rebellion mainly in the mutes since they were younger and more easily swayed.

These revelations are amazing and it glues me to my seat wanting more. Okay I had no idea there was this much more to Kale. I mean he’s always been kind of shady but who knew that his church was of the poisoned mind, yes I went there.

Then we’ve got this whole Golden Apes situation going on. I love that they shave their bodies of the hair leaving enough so that they look like they are indeed from the orient. It is pretty darn spectacular to see really.

Throughout this series Carlos has managed to really do something beyond spectacular with his illustrations. The realism, the emotions the strength of the characters manages to shine through spectacularly. It is one of the highlights of my month to read this book.

The twists and turns Daryl has been giving us are beyond amazing. What I love about this series is that every time you expect something you get something else entirely. There is never a dull moment here, there is plenty of characterization by both action and words.

Hellraiser #14
Boom Studios 2011-
Writers: Clive Barker & Mark Miller
Artists: Janusz Ordon & Jesus Hervas

After decades of serving as Hell’s priestly servant, Pinhead grew weary. Bored by the tortures of the puzzle box, the iconic killer hatched a plan to claw his way free from Hell. To leave, Pinhead had to find a suitable replacement, and offered his power to the only human to ever defeat the Cenobites: Kirsty Cotton. Kirsty accepted Pinhead’s offer, hoping to save her family and friends, but becoming an unwitting accomplice in a plan to remake the world. Now, the former Pinhead, Captain Elliott Spencer, builds a nation-state of the damned in India, while Kirsty reels following the loss of a loved one…

Now Kirsty has managed to make an uneasy alliance much to her Cenobites chagrin. The common thread is watching Elliott Spencer suffer. Can they accomplish their goal without causing too much undo attention to themselves is the real question.

It would seem that Captain Elliott Spencer isn’t as free as he was hoping to be. Originally he thought that by having Kirsty take his place he could forget his past and live out his days as a normal man. That was a dream that was never meant to be. Once his memories were returned to him he started down the path that made him Pinhead in the first place.

There was a reason he was made Pinhead in the first place and served Hell as he did. That kind of person isn’t truly able to change who they are no matter how much they desire too at one point in time. As we see now he’s built an army of the damned in India and has gained powers no mortal man should have.

Immortality for Elliott Spencer is a scary thing to think about. Then again he still has Kirsty to deal with on the opposite side. Ever since they switched places with each other it would seem that their roles remained the same. Yin to Yang and constant struggle with each other as Elliott became a monster in the form of a man while Kirsty in the form of a monster, who has been outcast from the other denizens of Hell, hunts him still.

Thankfully Clive Barker is still involved here making this a truly bizarre and wonderful read. Together the two of them make the struggles of right vs. wrong, good vs. evil and man’s eternal struggle more than the reader could have bargained for. Also it doesn’t hurt that this book has some talented artists who keep the mood in synch with the story. Much is left in shadow leaving the details to the reader’s imagination making it that much more interactive and horrifying.

A horror tale with a conscience isn’t a bad thing actually here it is an incredibly good one.

Lord of the Jungle #6
Dynamite Entertainment 2011
Written by Arvid Nelson
Illustrated by Roberto Castro
Colours by Alex Guimaraes

Jane seems to be on popular little lady. Both Canler, the disgusting pig of a lowlife and Mr. Clayton, the dashing romantic hero are vying for her hand in marriage.

She is not in love with either man we already knew that from the last few issues when she was in the presence of Tarzan. Still Canler lent her father some money and in order to erase that debt to him she has agreed to give him her hand. He wants her so to be more credible in respectable circles and doesn’t give a damn about her. He really is a nasty piece of work and one that would be better off dead.

At her mother’s old house in Wisconsin Mr. Clayton, Cecil, has been restoring the house. Not for her mind you but for Professor Clayton and well yes for Jane as well. The place was a run down mess when he got there and would have been no place for them to live. With Canler arriving and then off to get a Justice of the Peace and Cecil arguing that she doesn’t have to go through with this Jane heads off into the forest to clear her head.

Esmerelda is listening to the radio and hears about the massive forest fire that is currently happening in the area. Tarzan arrives to rescue everyone and then learns Jane is off in the woods herself and goes to rescue her personally. She knows instantly who he is and well her feelings are mixed up even more.

Back in the city where they all meet up there is a major confrontation between Canler and Tarzan, one where he reverts to his more bestial side and manages to make an enemy out of Canler, while still freeing Jane’s hand from marriage. During this fight Jane cannot see Tarzan as anything but a savage who can never be civilized, though she hasn’t seen him over the many months it took him to get here. The man now speaks multiple languages and some not even human.

His fingerprints meanwhile confirm he is Lord of Greystoke as we learn through a telegram he receives. So the irony on her thoughts isn’t lost on the readers here.

The fact that she suddenly agrees to marry Cecil instead though is surprising.

Arvid’s interpretation of this world really is rather stunning. His characterization, plot use, dialogue and settings have really managed to create three dimensional characters that you can laugh, scoff, feel sorry for and to hate. To read a story and have it evoke the gamut of emotions like this just shows the writers talent in spades. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have a talent artist behind him either.

There have been many interpretations of Tarzan over the years and it would seem that the time is right for this unique point of view.

Nowhere Man #4 (of 4)
Dynamite Entertainment 2012
Script: Marc Guggenheim
Art: Jeevan J. Kang
Colours: S. Sundarakannon

With his goal within reach he can’t quite bring himself to destroy the girl who is the omnimind. She is Genengineered after all and can be easily replaced. His decision isn’t made any easier as he has to listen to Alexis prattle on. Not using the back-up weapon that Alexis had on her, one he missed frisking her last issue, either. There is a moral dilemma here and it’s actually rather interesting to watch this play out, with what he was brought up believing and what his destiny is supposed to be. He’s really at the wire here literally as the Orions will be arriving soon enough so he’s going to have to make his choice.

I’ll say this, the conversation they have here is pretty intense. Alexis really is able to nail him, his personality and his history down pat without having any real knowledge of him to date. Hers was a perfectly narrated monologue, because lets face it he didn’t really have much to say in return. I rather like her character here even more; she was clear, concise and confident proving she’s a remarkable woman.

So what he does wasn’t what I was expecting. Just severing her connection to the machine was enough to free everyone’s mind on the planet all at once. Yeah suddenly free of the shocks that you get for violent thoughts causes chaos. There is so much pent up frustration from people and finally being able to cut loose causes rioting in the streets and untold violence and property damage. Still he absconds with the girl anyway and it’s Alexis who helps him flee the area.

Where to go is the big question. He heads to the guys who he met before and well after a shot to the head, of the big honcho, he strikes a deal with the rest. They are going to be the new Governments soldiers. So not only did he free every other mind on the planet but he’s now planning a governmental coup. Who is going to be the new president or leader of the world hmm? Gosh this raises a whole slew of new questions and problems that are in need of answering.

The problem is that this is the last issue and we don’t get to see how things turn out. If the coup is successful, granted we know Alexis gets the Orion’s to help him, but we don’t know about the new government or hell even if this coup somehow worked. We didn’t get a proper ending here and that was a major disappointment for someone who put up with late release dates. This wasn’t exactly an on schedule mini-series the first of four issues came out in January of 2011 and it’s now July of 2012. With this kind of time frame I expected a whole lot more.

The story itself is interesting and worthy of a story it just needs a proper ending. Guggenheim is a better writer than this and Dynamite should have edited this better.

The Bionic Man #11
Dynamite Entertainment 2011
Written by Phil Hester
Art by Ed Tadeo
Colours by Thiago Riberio

Welcome to a new story arc where we say goodbye to Kevin Smith, well actually we should have said goodbye last issue. As we’ve seen before he helps launch a series and then leaves it in capable hands in this instance Phil Hester’s. We also say a sad goodbye to Jonathan Lau and a hello to Ed Tadeo, who has some very large shoes to fill here.

The last story arc basically took all ten issues to tell. It really was an incredible re-introduction to Colonel Steve Austin. So what do you do next, well you tell a day in the life story that manages to give your new artist a chance to get used to the character and flesh out you’re main character even more. Seriously this was a lovely story of self discovery for Steve after he’s been turned into the bionic man. He has to question and wonder just how much of his human self is left after all he’s been through.

So in order to feel anywhere close to normal again what does one do? He takes time off and goes and visits his family. That is the one place and the right people who will treat you like you deserve to be treated regardless of what or who you are. We meet mom, dad and sis in this cute story that manages to flesh out Steve more than I was expecting. His father fighting for his life, being abstinent and ornery as he was because of that whole I can’t let my son see me like this mishegas.

I was disappointed by on thing; this didn’t look like Steve Austin. I understand that it’s a new artist and all that jazz and we’ve been spoiled with Lau and covers by Alex Ross which depicts a very good likeness to Lee Majors. However this looked nothing like him as if he’d never seen a photograph or anything and just kind said hey alright this is my version lets go. It’s not really acceptable so if this series is going to last he needs to be a little closer to home than he is.

While it was a distraction, the art, from the story the story itself was touching, sweet and endearing and allows him some peace of mind to go on to the next mission Oscar has for him.

Resident Alien #2
Dark Horse Comics 2012
Written by Peter Hogan
Art by Steve Parkhouse

Surviving a crash landing that ruins his spaceship a stranded alien hopes to live quietly undercover in the sleepy town of Patience, USA, masquerading as Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle—a semi-retired Doctor. He has some alien powers of empathy and the ability to mask his odd appearance from most people, which comes in handy after the local police chief enlists Harry’s help to investigate the murder of Patience longtime real Doctor. At the end of last issue another murder victim was found.

I liked the recap of what he did upon arriving on Earth. The whole trip to the mall was impressive as he was able to find everything he needed in one place to not only establish an identity but to find a place to live. His advanced knowledge as to how to manipulate the ATM machine and all that was pretty genius stuff.

Carter Blaine retired banker and all around hated man is found dead in his bed stabbed through the heart with a knitting needle. I love that the killer was naked and hopefully we’ll get to see him in that state before it’s all over. Then again it is Dark Horse so male nudity isn’t something I expect to see.

With this second murder however it would seem the police chief has the wrong man in jail. For the murder anyway but not for the burglary as he points out to save face.

Then we get a slice of Harry’s life from his own planet. He has or had a girlfriend, wife or lover who is waiting for him. It’s kind of sad when you think about it.

During an exam of a patient we get some unexpected clues. I liked this whole thing comes to him by sheer chance or luck if you will. This of course gives him a lead to investigate and use some of those skills of his to find the thread and follow it. It all leads to a War Hero who comes home and find he has lost his girlfriend to another man and the bank foreclosing on his parents house forcing the family to move away. Those are reasons for finding the two men responsible dead however that was forty years ago why now and he moved away.

Asta went to see an eye doctor because she has trouble seeing Harry clearly. She is one of those people whose mind doesn’t accept the illusion. She is Native American and her father a Shaman, which explains much. His insight however is nothing short of amazing as without ever having met him he knows so very much and can articulate that to his daughter. This is some powerful dialogue and writing right folks.

While waiting for Asta we learn that Whitehead, the soldier, moved back to town with his wife a year ago and he was a patient of the deceased doctors. Interesting turn of events if I do say so myself, but also a tad too obvious if ya ask me I’d say he’s being set up.

For the final page it would seem the government, FBI or some such agency where the men wear black suits, have found Harry’s spaceship. Bum Bum Bum Bummmm

I really do find this a charming tale, extremely well done all around from writing, plot, character development you name it it’s all here and done to perfection.

Trio #3
IDW Publishing 2012
Created, Written and Drawn by John Byrne
Colours by Ronda Pattison

I really am enjoying this series. John obviously loves working on this; his love and enjoyment shine through on the page in spades. It is amazing how much you are willing to forgive when you see the love the creator puts onto the page. For instance this has elements of series he’s worked on in the past, most notably the Fantastic Four. Still that resemblance doesn’t mar you’re enjoyment of this series because John is able to make you feel his love on each page.

Even the fact that we already have a sea being with his sea creature attacking the Trio on land smacks of old Fantastic Four to me. Still the differential in how the characters act, look and resemble in power sets lets me allow all that to slide. I love the art here; it’s clean, clear and packed with detail but not overworked. It’s classic Byrne and there isn’t anything about it not to love.

The characterization here is wonderful as well. We are constantly learning and having the characters personalities revealed through great dialogue and inner monologues. The choices they make and the questions they ask themselves about those choices reveal a lot about them.

This has an old school comic book feel to it. One that in this day and age of darkness and angst is most heartily welcomed by this reader. Also the twist in the characters and their lives outside the team has made this book a solid read in my opinion.

All around this is a good classic fun loving read that should be atop everyone’s reading list.

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