Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Steven's Reviews: Beasts of Burden, The Boys, Mind the Gap and more!

The Boys #69

Last issue we saw Butcher kill Mother’s Milk. Now Frenchie, the Female and Hughie must soldier on, figure out what Butcher is up to and put a stop to it before another of them falls.

Poor Wee Hughie, while he’s a lot tougher than he thinks he is right now he’s rattled to his core and it gets worse when Butcher calls him. Still Hughie’s learned more than enough in his time with Butcher so if anyone can actually stop his mad plan to kill everyone on the planet it’s him.

Butcher is a sick son of a bitch. The only way to wipe out the Supes is to kill everyone on the planet. After all anyone can give birth to a Supe right? He’s also scaring the beejeesus outta Hughie. Hughie is putting the pieces together by himself here, sure he’s in phone contact with not only Butcher but Frenchie as well. Still he’s doing the legwork and putting the pieces together and I’m surprised he hasn’t wet himself yet, see there is more to him than even he thought.

Butcher planted a bomb after killing Mother’s Milk. He set it off as Hughie was approaching the building and both Frenchie and the Female knew they were done for. The blast knocks Hughie onto the hood of a car and it’s here everything becomes crystal clear to him. It’s always been meant for the two of them to go face to face with each other. With all the conversations they’ve had Hughie is the little brother Butcher never had. It took that one moment to crystallize his thoughts and realize that he’s in this alone from here on out.

I can’t believe that this story in comic book time has only taken two years to tell while we’ve been reading it for six. Still I love that this has a clear cut beginning and a definite ending there will be no team coming back after this to pick up the pieces and soldier on this is the end. Granted the Supes could have one shots here and there but I doubt that will happen once this is over the franchise shouldn’t be resurrected. It is so darn good and so surprisingly done, gratuitous language, sex and violence aside. When it first came out those aspects were new to the industry but they soon became so common it was blasé. Ennis went on with his style of writing and kept turning up the heat and you wondered where exactly is all this going?

Well were almost at the end and we see the finish line but that doesn’t mean that anything has slowed down at all. This really is a groundbreaking series from start to finish.

The Shadow #4
Dynamite Entertainment 2012
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Aaron Campbell
Colours by Carlos Lopez

As the General, Kondo and Wong sit around we learn the story of Kent Allard. A man who showed up in Hong Kong, learned what he needed to about everyone, all the players on the waterfront, cut out the poison and the waterfront thrived. He really knew it all, allies, lovers, secrets, you name it he knew then one day he disappeared.

Someone came back, someone that had all of Allard’s knowledge of everyone, secrets and all. Only this man wasn’t nice or on their side he killed people in the triple digits sending the waterfront into complete chaos and disarray. There were rumors about this new man, who wasn’t a man at all; he seemed to be everywhere all at once more like the devil than a man.

Kondo missed this culling as he was in America on business, Long Island to be precise. He was doing business with some Italians when the Shadow struck and he remembered that laughter and Allard’s warped sense of humor. He also saw a picture in the paper of Lamont Cranston and knew that man as Allard. It wasn’t that big a leap to put the pieces together and come to the conclusion that Cranston is the Shadow. Does this conversation serve a purpose we’ll see I don’t know yet but it sets up the story and fleshes more of the man Cranston than expected.

Mister Finnegan, who doesn’t like Cranston one little bit, is having words with him on deck. Things are getting heated when Miss Lane comes and intervenes. You start to see more of the coldness described by Kondo here. This is where that narration pays dividends when looking at the main character, quite impressive actually.

I love the Generals story and how he justifies his actions, his view of Imperial Japan and its mission to unite Eastern Asia under its rule, as being completely normal and will his job without hesitation or question. It’s really no wonder they didn’t do well in the war.

Well they see a village where they know their enemies have stopped and Cranston really schools everyone, and quite harshly too. This alone was enough to make me believe he was Allard, his intimate knowledge of what had happened without having to see and yet making sure everyone with him knew what they were up against in a hard, almost callous way.

I like how the issue ended too, proving once and for all Finnegan should never be in charge of anything. The man is a moron and doesn’t think things through but in typical American fashion blusters his way along. Nice cliffhanger though and I await next month’s issue to see how things go from here.

The Spider #4
Dynamite Entertainment 2012
Written by David Liss
Art by Colton Worley

We pick things up at Citi Field where Anput has infected tens of thousands and turned them into mindless zombies from a formulae based on something created at his father’s company. We still don’t know if the process can be reversed.

I really am super impressed by the artwork here. After leaving Citi Field when Richard takes his mask off, page nine, it just hits you just how talented Colton is. His faces throughout this book are just simply amazing and at times they almost haunt you.

Richard’s blind hatred of his father really clouds his rational judgment. Sure his rival, his father’s rival, was hit with the zombie gas and his father’s company came out unscathed but I think that was done on purpose to act like a red herring from the real culprit. This keeps Richard focusing his attention one way while Anput works from a completely different angle.

That ridiculous Detective Hilt is going to cut off his nose to spite his face at this rate. I mean its one thing to want to go after the Spider for operating outside the law it’s another thing entirely to ignore your job and ignore the good he does just to make yourself feel better. While he is so blinded by this obsession with the Spider and his hatred for him, are you sensing a theme yet, he’s willing to risk his job to achieve his goal making him no better than the man he’s chasing. Oh and the fact he’s convinced Richard is the Spider, while correct, is almost funny considering he can’t come close to proving it. I do want to see a spotlight on Hilt so we can learn just how this animosity started.

The Mayor will see that Anput’s demands, concerning the police department anyway are met. So it will be up to Wentworth and company to stop her plans. I like that he’s enlisted Ram and Professor Brownlee in this endeavor. It’s just too bad that he’s a few steps behind Anput as it is. Classic misdirection and lead him straight into a trap to end the issue.

I have to admit this updating of the character works on so many different levels. I mean in a world with social media as prevalent as it is and cell phones that can record movies it’s amazing he’s able to operate at all as the Spider. Still David manages to flesh out an incredibly believable and likable character here. Not to mention a supporting cast that rivals anything else out there.

I raved about Colton’s ability earlier but I have to do so again. He really has his pulse on this book and makes the emotions that the characters feel leap off the page and into the reader. Plus the amazing job on colours at times really pops in ways that you don’t expect. Overall this really is one of those books that people should sit and take notice of.

Deadworld: War of the Dead #1
IDW Publishing 2012
Written by Gary Reed
Art by Sami Makkonen

A supernatural plague has been unleashed on the world. The dead return to walk the Earth, but this is no standard zombie story—here there are intelligent zombies such as the King Zombie. Deadworld is the story of horror, of survival, of hope and despair. It is a saga of modern man facing his darkest side… where science and technology are no longer his allies. Where power of reasoning is no longer his weapon alone. Deadworld is death…yet life.

Alright I like how this is painted. It allows for the feeling of death and decay and yet lightness and hope also. Granted the details are bit murky in this style but the overall mood shines through nicely and you don’t miss a thing.

Safe Haven at one point in time was neither safe or a haven. Today is has the promise of hope about it. Where a group of Lepers whose flesh falls off in decay don’t die because of the virus live and help keep the monsters at bay while allowing the remaining humans a place to live safely, for now.

There are five Wednesdays in August. And this series will come on each of those Wednesdays. Telling the story in five weeks so as not having to wait for five months. It’s a gimmick yes but it’s also a good one as we don’t have that excruciating wait between issues. This has the promise to be on par with 30 Days of Night and 28 Days later so here’s hoping that it is.

Infected #1
IDW Publishing 2012
Original Novel by Scott Sigler
Adapted by Scott Sigler & Chad Minshew

Okay colour me intrigued. All I got was a seven page preview to review and I can honestly say this will be the first thing I read to completion when I get home from the store on Wednesday. It hooked me in that quick and is really just that darn interesting.

We start with this woman who’s been on the run from the I.N.S. ever since arriving in the United States. She starts itching and scratching herself and knows something isn’t right. Getting her boyfriend/husband’s gun she shoots him and their baby and a stranger and then hops on a train and goes north. She’s lost it and she seems desperate to go north that is all she can think about.

On that train she’s bleeding, through her eyes, throwing up blood. It isn’t nasty gross but creepy gross and that is the important difference here. She hops off the train at one point and is wandering around the snowed in woods till she finds a specific spot where she lays down and shoots herself.

The F.B.I., Homeland Security or one of those organizations is monitoring emails, phones etc for keywords such as Triangles. Yeah the hear one and off they go. So I want to know which organization this is and what the triangles mean.

There is some strong language here so if you are easily offended this isn’t going to be for you. If you love conspiracy theories though this will be for you. It has all the aspects of a good thriller, a pathogen, government agencies and the unknown all racing towards the same conclusion. I cannot wait for the book to hit the stands.

Beasts of Burden: Neighborhood Watch
Dark Horse Comics 2012
Script by Evan Dorkin
Art by Jill Thompson

A heroic gang of dogs and cats serve as paranormal investigators in the outwardly picturesque town of Burden Hill. Unknown to most of the human residents, Burden Hill is plagued by sinister forces that these shaggy sleuths have been charged with fighting.

Oh my god the chickens are stupid, I love it! Okay the writing is fun, witty, and intelligent and will make you smile, guaranteed. So the reason we’re at the chicken coop is because something is stealing and killing them. We see it’s like some kind of goblinesque type creature who talks funny but is really a nasty piece of work.

Rex and Orphan are chasing him and when it looks like they’ve finally caught him Rex’s owner shows up and hauls him away. See in order to protect the town Rex has to “escape” from the house and his owner isn’t really a nice man, unless he’s just frustrated because Rex keeps running off.

Orphan leads the goblin on a merry chase that ends with it being beaten pretty badly by another dog. This was a wonderful introduction to this if this is your first introduction to these characters. For this is my introduction and I have to say I’m glad I decided to give this a chance because these characters, while animals, are just plain delightful.

The second tale is a lesson in behavior. An old dog tells this tale from long ago where this dog fights this basilisk and becomes a statue. Then claims he had to take his own eye to fight the infection and shows the pups, all three, and the scamper off afraid but they won’t be leaving home to follow the others into action anytime soon. Again what a delightful tale this was I mean it was so dang cute.

Then we’ve got the sheep story. We should have known something was up immediately when they couldn’t pick the sheep’s scent. Poor Jack could see them for what they were, and besides dead which okay they looked normal, except to Jack. See we learn how they died including their herding dog and that they like the live now, walking and talking and enjoying the scenery and the breeze on their face, which they remember. They died in a barn fire and couldn’t get out, their dog well died trying to save them, so Jack sees them as they should be, burned up. It’s pretty gross and thankfully we only one panel of that.

It was surprising to see something that dark and disturbing at the back of the issue. I mean everything else up until then was kid friendly in my opinion. That however was not by any stretch of the imagination, it was horrific. Which explains why Jack has retreated into himself for now.

I’ll get the next adventure that comes out. This was enough that I thought that both Evan and Jill did a wonderful job bringing these animals and their world to life and I’d happily revisit them again.

Mind the Gap #3
Image Comics 2012
Written by Jim McCann
Art by Rodin Esquejo & Sonia Oback

Our good shrink, who was put in the room next to Elle, has shown up in the Garden startling Elle. She doesn’t remember him and in all fairness I am not sure he remembers very much right now either. Somehow violence on this scale seems to render them with some amnesia. Still she’s freaked out because of him appearing so he needed to leave.

She needed to be alone, it’s only been two days but it seems like so much longer for her considering what she is going through. So her mind has managed to recreate her house for her, in the Garden, where she can relax or at least try to. Her wall turns into something of a memory wall where she can see her best friend Jo’s dream happening. She is actually able to interact with her to a degree and it all centers around Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Interesting choice of movies and for giving a shout out to TCM, the station you’re more likely to find it playing on these days.

This sets off a chain reaction. Jo sets up a vigil in her room where she encounters Doctor Geller and her nurse Frankie who are there to draw Elle’s blood, well Frankie is. See Doctor Hammond has cock blocked Dr. Geller from doing anything to these patients but he hasn’t banned her nurse. While trying to explain things to Jo, about oxygen in the room and her use of candles, Hammond shows up with Elle’s brother who is the family member present when she’s being examined. Oh and the boyfriend shows up too now almost everyone is here for the impromptu party.

See now we get some killer, pun intended, characterization and exposure. No we don’t come any closer to actually seeing the person in the hoodie but we do get more motives from people. Even though Elle’s dad wasn’t there he did go to work where his secretary warned him not to ignore her needs too long. And that geeky assistant who blew up the office of the shrink, who is probably secretly in love with Elle, was talking to the hoodie person!

I’m no closer to really figuring out who it is but I’m having a blast learning the secrets these people are trying to hide. I’m also started to think I know who did it, why and how and all that but I’m keep quiet for now till I get more clues. I love this story it’s interactive, fun, witty, intelligent and just down right interesting. The characters are wonderfully not who they seem to be and I just find this charming from start to finish, including the very nice artwork. Said artwork does a very nice job of bringing this world to life by the way.

Soulfire vol.4 #1
Aspen Comics 2012
Written by J.T. Krul
Art by Mike DeBalfo
Colours by Nei Ruffino

The search for the light has ended. Malikai, the Samusara—bearer of the light—has returned from the endless oblivion of chaos. However, all is not well in the magical kingdom of Anantia. Faye, the Queen of the Rahtumi and caretaker of the union between her people and long-rivaled Sehoru, finds herself at odds with her betrothed king, the brash yet dangerous Sarin. While the strain between the two continues to threaten the sanctity of the realm altogether, Grace holds the darkest secret of all—one that could alter the course of both her mind and body forever.

Something wicked this way comes and her name was Grace. When she went into the realm of chaos something entered her, festered within her, and infected her if you will and now has finally taken hold and transformed her into something else entirely. As if that weren’t bad enough she’s managed to spread that infection to the Dragons who soon attack everything in sight.

Now can all the people from the Light mini-series band together to not only save Grace but their world as well? That is going to be the story for volume four and it’s one that should be exciting.

J.T. does a great job here taking what they’ve done in the mini-series and kind of tying it all into this issue and making you feel like if you haven’t read it then it’s no big deal. I mean we haven’t had an explanation yet as to what, why and how Grace as changed so that is still to come, we just know that it was something that happened while in her own issue. So it doesn’t happen there and will be told in this series which is definitely something to look forward too.

This book is off to a very strong start both story wise, which seems to be have started off with a huge bang, and the art which is simply beautiful, including the colouring which in this story is extremely important to how we view these magical beings. I look forward to this seeing how this volumes plays out it promises to be better than a roller coaster ride.

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