Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Steven's Reviews: The Massive, Fanboys vs Zombies, The Strain plus MORE!

Archer & Armstrong #1
I’m excited for this series and thankfully we don’t have a long wait before it hits the stands too.  When I saw Fred and Clayton were working on this book I immediately thought of their collaboration on the Incredible Hercules and how spectacular that run was.  These guys are the perfect combination to resurrect this series.
I like the tweaking to their origin here.  It keeps true to the feel of the original but Fred has managed to update it in a modern way and make it totally believable.  So gone is the time spent in Monastery for Obadiah which in this day and age makes perfect sense.  Plus the opening sequence where we see how Armstrong becomes an immortal was fun, interesting and leaves so much more characterization and story to be told. 
            Adams County, Ohio.  Interesting choice of locale and for those interested it is East of Cincinnati I’d say probably an hours drive or so.  Perfect place to put a large amusement park based on the bible I mean we’ve already got the creation museum nearby so why not this too?  Oh and it makes for a wonderful business for a Reverend and his Congresswoman wife who have more foster kids than you can shake a stick at.  While not a Monk or anything close to it this time around Obadiah’s folks to play a rather important role in his life. 
            These people are very “old school” religious and I’m not talking just the bible belief’s either.  I am talking belief in a god that ruled before religion was even recorded and what some would call fanatical as well as conspiracy theorists.  It all stems from crazy beliefs that make people do strange things like give their children training that would put the armed forces boot camps to shame.  Believing they have a destiny to fulfill and that their chosen one will do just that. 
            I do like that in one issue we get both Archer and Armstrong’s origins as well has them meeting for the first time.  And what a meeting that is too, friends, enemies and well perhaps his only hope in the matter of pages!   Nothing felt rushed, over crowded or over loaded the pacing was perfect and the amount of information given flowed incredibly smooth.  To be honest I don’t want to wait another month for this to come out it was that good.  In fact of all the Valiant books this has been the most anticipated, along with Ninjak.  By landing such an accomplished team to work on it was such a major coup and they do not disappoint in the slightest. 
            So much more happens in this issue that you’ll have to read because I don’t want to spoil things here but suffice it say this is THE title of the year this year mark my words.

Artifacts #20
Image/ Top Cow 2010
Writer Ron Marz
Artist Stjepan Sejic

The gathering of thirteen mystical artifacts destroyed the world and created another in its image. Ex-Priest and current FBI profiler Tom Judge discovered the truth of this new universe. Now he monitors the artifacts, including the Heart Stone, in the possession of Dr. Rachel Harrison. Rachel’s meeting with Tom was interrupted by the arrival of a patient whose aura she saw as black and foreboding. At her apartment, Rachel had a frightening experience with the spirits of the dead. Meanwhile the patient, Alton Forsyth, recovered thanks to Rachel having saved his life.

Thanks to the Heart Stone Rachel knows the kind of man Alton is and somehow with the tones help he dies. I don’t think she did the deed by hand but somehow managed to use the stone to do it for her though it all happened of panel so it’s left up to the readers’ imagination which is creepy and nice.

So after all this Rachel decides to move back to her hometown. The hospital she applies to has a history that may not be that conducive to someone wearing the Heart Stone. I mean this place would make any ghost hunting team ecstatic with being able to investigate it. Read the issue and see what kind of stuff that could be around still after all these years, oh and lets not forget what the administrator says about working third shift.

Rachel’s chat with her mother about the necklace was a lot more interesting than I was expecting. So go on ahead Ron with what you managed to do there. Enough history and yet no answers really given all at the same time making the mystery surrounding it all the more well mysterious.

Stjepan’s work is always mind blowing and I have to admit that Smitty, the cat, was one of my more favorite pieces of work he’s done in quite some time. It looks like some kind of royal feline that shouldn’t be in someone’s house but out in the wild, almost lynx or ocelot like.

Ron knows his business and he’s creating this world from the ground up and his narrative of this world is just incredible. The excitement and horror and everything else that is going on here has such a wonderful balance to it that I cannot help but to enjoy it. Plus Stjepan’s art just makes this world both beautiful and haunting at the same time.

Fanboys vs. Zombies #7
Boom Studios 2012
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Jerry Gaylord
Ink assists by Penelope Gaylord & Bryan Turner
Colours by Mirka Andolfo

Okay having made it outside the convention space the group doesn’t exactly find themselves any better off. Now instead of finding a respite or someone coming to the rescue they find themselves facing a zombie horde. This unfortunately brings us to the first real victim, J-Mac. Ugh being eaten alive by a zombie horde has got to be the worst way to go.

J-Mac’s death while gruesome isn’t the only tragedy to befall the group at this time as Rob and Burger find themselves separated from the rest.

Somehow it’s a month later and the changes in San Diego and the group are clearly evident. Missy is now some kind of flighty soothe seer type of character which is utterly ironic I suppose. Though she has claimed to see the missing boys and that they are alive and well as well as seeing the zombie’s behavior change as well. This is all dismissed because they think she’s cray cray.

Then we’ve also got Brendan who is a welcome addition to the group. Seriously though I could have done without all the black stuff, i.e. minorities in comics etc. and to use that as his reason for not officially joining them yeah well please.

It’s been a month and there has been no attempt by anyone to come and rescue any survivors so Jenna has an idea. She wants the group to leave San Diego and head east looking for others who have survived. Now this causes a commotion and really doesn’t sit will with Kyle. I mean he was just coming out to his longtime crush and now he’s missing there is no way he’s leaving them behind without knowing what happened to them.

His actions kind of surprised me, albeit in a good way. Still I liked the unexpected turn this took. That and the revelation from Missy yeah I can’t see the group getting out anytime soon and for that I’m kind of thankful. Sam is making this not only fun but he’s managing to take it out of the tongue and cheek genre and make it a tad more thinking man’s fun. A move I wholeheartedly support by the way. Plus there was some great characterization here too. I still think the art is a tad too Saturday morning cartoonish but it’s not terrible nor does it stop me from enjoying the book. Though the characters do seem to look a tad more serious than before and that is nice to notice.

Pantha #3
Dynamite Entertainment 2012
Written by Brandon Jerwa
Art by Pow Podrix
Colours by Thiago Dal Bello

Pantha agrees to fight for the forces of order in the upcoming war. Only she isn’t terribly sure just what it is she agreeing to and that is kind of nice. Why because I am not quite sure what she is agreeing to either so I suppose we will learn alongside her.

Upon agreeing to this she does need some answers and here the conversation takes an interesting turn. Pantha opens her mind to learn more about her mysterious destiny. I say interesting because Vampirella is mentioned as well as how her allies will be playing an important role in this war. Now unless I am mistaken she only meets Vampirella and what looked like some of those allies in the Prophecy crossover so that means it’s a part of her history now.

During this we also see her very one Rogues gallery where we see both Mamba and the Blood Red Queen of Hearts, both of whom have made their presence known in the first two issues. Though we do learn that the girl she just saved, who knew her, isn’t out of the woods yet.

With that revelation the group is ready to go re-rescue Mayra Brutos alerts Pendragon to the fact that there is a serpent in the Castle. If you remember it hitched a ride with them after the warehouse encounter. Thus dividing their forces leaving just Pantha to go and rescue the girl.

So meanwhile Mayra and Flynn are being escorted to some jail cells, at the homeland security holding facility. Oh and Flynn’s boss and his wife, whom if you recall is the Queen, are trying to get him out. Well all hell breaks loose, literally, as Mamba attacks killing the guard and allowing the Queen to kill the detective and rip her husband’s heart out. Then the two women have a cute little banter of dialogue. At the same time Flynn is attacking his guards and the two make a break for it.

As all the players in this little drama show up of in the same area, Pantha included, the real fight begins. This will lead directly into the next issue and we’ll see if Flynn can help Pendragon and company come to the rescue.

This really is a better book than I was anticipating and though I’d like to see more of her being a part of Sekhmet explored more I can wait. I’ll even concede that while she is scantily clad she doesn’t come across excessively sluttish. Brandon is creating a world that is interesting, fun, frightening and ultimately fascinating where and ancient culture can directly influence the modern one. The art manages to keep up the stories pace and helps set the mood and the emotions necessary to effective feel what they are conveying.

The Massive #3
Dark Horse Comics 2012
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Kristian Donaldson
Colours by Dave Stewart

One of the things I am enjoying here are the tidbits about the world they live in now. The Icelandic volcano is a great example of this ever changing environment they live in. Then of course comes the raining of dead birds falling in Firenz, Italy. Of course this leads up to the power outage of the eastern seaboard of the United States.

The Kapital has company trying to come aboard. Siberian Pirates, which means they have to leave the area as quickly as they can to avoid being taken. Even if that means leaving crew members behind.

I also rather enjoy these background information boxes on specific crew members. Today we got a focus on Mag, who he was and is all tied up into a neat little summary. This also explains Callum’s calling upon him while the pirates were trying to attack.

Idealism versus pragmatics’ it’s an interesting debate going on here. I can see where both sides are coming from and while Callum wants to keep true to their pacifist nature this is a new world they’ve entered one where they will be at a distinct disadvantage. I’m not sure the compromise is a good one; I’d rather keep a small armory on board with a small say five person security detail just in case they encounter something that can’t be solved with words or flares.

There is a lot of learning about the world around them this issue. From the Strait of Magellan to the fresh water problem on the African continent it is all necessary information to understand just how dangerous this new landscape really is. This makes the stance Isreal Callum is taking that much nobler in its scope. His reasons for starting the Ninth Wave haven’t changed and if anything this new world means the oceans need a protector more than ever before. So their mission remains the same it’s just a much more dangerous world in which they live.

Plus they are out looking for their sister ship at the same time; the Massive hasn’t been seen since the U.S. Military saw around Guam.

This is interesting to say the least I mean this world is coming more and more into focus with each issue as we learn just how devastating things have become. The characterization has been phenomenal and you find yourself kind of rooting for Isreal and his crew to succeed in their mission.

The Strain #7
Dark Horse Comics 2011
Story by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
Script by David Lapham
Art by Mike Huddleston
Colours by Dan Jackson

There is a new player in town, Vasiliy, one of if not the best rat man in the five Burroughs. See a little girl got bit on the mouth by a rat and he was called in to see what is what. Vasiliy knows rats and he knows the one he caught, who’s pregnant, aren’t the normal ones found in buildings, no this isn’t a weak one it’s a strong one, the size of cats or small dogs, the kind found underground and it wouldn’t come up unless something scared it away.

Oh yeah Ephriam is being arrested, he’s going to lose everything because of his recent actions. This doesn’t sound right does it? I mean he’s been above board all the way both of them have been. So how are they on the wrong side of things? Well if you take a good listen to the dialogue being used here you’ll understand what is going on. It’s a slight tell but it’s there and you have to pay attention or you’ll miss it. That is one of the things I am loving about Lapham’s writing! Who could have seen Abraham coming to the rescue the way he did too? Of course now the three of them are on the run and cut off from their agencies and considered dangerous.

As Vasiliy investigates this rat problem it brings him to where the Towers fell and are being rebuilt. Interestingly enough they’ve had workings quitting left and right and have seen the rats leaving the tunnels in a mass exodus which has scared off some of the workers. If you’ve ever seen the city rats you’ll know it takes a lot to scare these creatures I mean they are huge and nasty creatures. If I had to bet I’d say Vasiliy is built of sturdy Russian stock and so far in such a short time I like him and want him to make our trio a quartet. Being down in those tunnels, seeing that shack and that trio of eyes can scare Vasility then wow.

I’m really enjoying the rate that these reveals are coming at us now. The story seems to be picking up it’s pace and moving along faster and faster. Both sides are figuring out what the other seems to be up to all the while they are both oblivious to how the plague is spreading unchecked.

I don’t think this series could have had a better man to adapt it to comic book form than David Lapham. This genre is right up his alley and he’s managing to keep all the right information flowing while keeping us on the edge of our seats with frightening developments. The mixture or blending is really astounding. Then of course the artwork really keeps the right feel, tone and emotion going and that just heightens the reading experience.

Thun’Da #1
Dynamite Entertainment 2012
Written by Robert Place Napton
Illustrated by Cliff Richards
Coloured by Esther Sanz

This starts off almost with a land that time forgot kind of feel to it. For a first issue I would have liked a tad more, possibly where this helicopter was supposed to be heading when it went down or perhaps where it was coming from. Either way a tad more background to clarify who these guys are would have been appreciated.

So he’s military that much is obvious as is his training which comes automatically, no thinking required which is a good thing considering he has no idea who he even is at the moment. As he is heading back to the downed helicopter for rescue and retrieval he’s surprised by the local wildlife. However was in that copter with him doesn’t survive that encounter.

Now here is where I have a slight issue, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Wooly Mammoths and Sabre Tooth Tigers all living at the same time in the same area just doesn’t seem right.

Well after seeing and encountering some of these animals he actually manages to fall asleep and here he has dreams or rather memories. I do question though if these are real or mission based, he doesn’t remember who he is but his training is intact so who’s to say the memories aren’t from an undercover operation?

I will say this, this could have gone horribly wrong here by asking so many questions while giving so few answers but it didn’t. I am curious to learn who this man is, where he came from and where exactly he is. If the series is going to progress like this, keeping us on the edge wondering how, what, why and when then I’ll be along for the ride because these are all questions we crave the answers to and here and now this is no different.

The artwork throughout is pretty darn good as well. Nice detail work and our lead character is handsome without appearing to be overly drawn. The dinosaurs are as well depicted as one can get with the ever changing opinion of how they should look this is the classic version which will serve them well.

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