Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Posts tagged “Ben Templesmith

This Was My Weekend

Un-CON-Ventional

This weekend I was working a booth at the 3rd Annual COMICPALOOZA event down here in Houston. Our store was sharing a booth with the guys from ANGEL COMICS and I was on the ground floor wheeling and dealing. Luckily I had some time to sneak away and enjoy the convention a little bit, getting some face time with Humberto Ramos, Ben Templesmith, and J.H. Williams III.

I’m not going to bore you with anecdotes from the con, but I will say that everyone there went out of their way to be friendly and receptive. Templesmith, who I admittedly isn’t one of my favorite artists, as his style doesn’t really grab me, showed off some commission pieces that blew me away and straight up made me a fan. I was almost salivating over J.H. Williams’ original art pages for Detective Comics, and watching Ramos draw Impulse from memory is something to behold.

The long and short of this post is basically just to say that it’s nice to have a successful comic convention in my home town. A place that REALLY needs one with the number of fans we have in the area. I can only imagine what next year will be like.

(And yes, I did have Liefeld sign my Deadpool comics, but I gave him the evil eye. *_* )

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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

As you can probably tell by the excessive and gratuitous swimsuit posts this week, it’s spring break for me and that’s the only excuse I have for these reviews going up a day later than usual. In my defense I don’t often have a lot of no-strings-attached free time and so I used that time wisely because I probably won’t have anything else like it until next year. But you don’t care about that, you just want the reviews:

THE PULL LIST 3:17:2010
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #625 2.99
AMERICAN VAMPIRE #1 (MR) 3.99
BATMAN #697 2.99
BOOSTER GOLD #30 2.99
BRONX KILL HC (MR) 19.99
CHOKER #2 (MR) 3.99
DARK AVENGERS #15 3.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #9 2.99
DOOMWAR #2 (OF 6) 3.99
GREEN ARROW #31 2.99
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #46 3.99
HULK #21 FOH 3.99
INCREDIBLE HULK #608 FOH 3.99
JOE THE BARBARIAN #3 2.99
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #3 (OF 5) 2.99
SIEGE #3 (OF 4) 3.99
SIEGE EMBEDDED #3 (OF 4) 3.99
SPIDER-WOMAN #7 3.99
SUPERGIRL #51 2.99
WONDER WOMAN CHRONICLES TP VOL 01 17.99
X-FACTOR FOREVER #1 3.99
X-MEN LEGACY #234 2.99

And now, your local news.


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 625

This issue didn’t make me want to strangle myself while jumping in front of a bus, so there’s the upside. That having been said, this issue did feature a pretty tremendous case of “Women in Refrigerators” syndrome, which I’m going to speak about in detail so if you don’t want the issue spoiled, go ahead and jump down to the next review.

Okay, if you’re still here that means you want to hear my rant about how the recently created character of Oksana who they made as a means to push the old Rhino into his new position on the other side of the law gets horrendously fridged in this particular issue. If you’ll remember my review of the issue dealing with the Rhino and his new girlfriend, you’ll recall how I thought that it was one of the smarter things they’ve done with the character and the story was genuinely touching on a character level. The pathos that the writer sought to evoke clearly rang true and I accepted what was presented with no resistance.

If I had known that they created the character only to blow her up violently a month down the road for the sole purpose of getting the Rhino back into his old role, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the issue as much. Why? Because what is the point of creating a new direction for a character if you don’t take the time to expand on it?

Did the conversation that made this issue basically go like this?

Marvel Guy 1: We’ve changed the Rhino into a good guy!
Marvel Guy 2: People liked it.
Marvel Guy 1: Oh, fuck…Let’s go back!
Marvel Guy 2: So we wrote an issue turning him into a good guy just so he can turn back?
Marvel Guy 1: That’s a bingo.
Marvel Guy 2: Why didn’t we just keep him evil from the get-go?
Marvel Guy 1: *silence*

So, yeah. Amazing Spider-Man entertained me for months simply to lure me into a false sense of security and then confound me to the point of anger.


AMERICAN VAMPIRE # 1

Guys and gals, Vertigo seemingly can’t put out a bad book. Here we get a dense book with two well written stories, each with their own style and voice but both adhering to the principle that the less we see of the monster, the more intimidating they are.

Seriously, the vampirism doesn’t appear until the last few panels of each story, and we’re left waiting for it throughout the whole of the issue while KNOWING that it will come. The book is called American Vampire, it’s not like when the vampires show up we’re going to be shocked. What we’re waiting for is indication of what kind of vampires they’ll be. The genre and the archetype have been so played with over the course of literary history that it’s anybody’s guess what the rules for this new series will be.

Stephen King’s segment gives us the feeling that maybe we’ll be seeing a more realistic take on the vampire. That perhaps the “burning up in the sun” aspect isn’t an eruption of flame but something that could be solved with some SPF 15.

Either way, the intro issue is definitely worth reading. This looks like it could be the next big Vertigo hit if everything plays out as planned.


BRONX KILL

The Vertigo Crime imprint has been churning out some great stuff. This issue was basically like porn for me, because as a writer and the son of a cop I can totally relate to the main character…a writer and the son of a cop. After that the similarities disappear but the book is quite enthralling, following a writer in the throes of developing a new novel having to deal with the disappearance of his wife.

If you’re a fan of noir at all you should be picking up every book put out by this imprint. The writers are all A-list talent in the genre and the stories are about as complex and well written as you will see in the medium. I’ll admit that the art in this particular volume wasn’t my cup of tea, but it served the story well and it’s not really bad art, it’s just not the style I tend to enjoy.

Go buy this book. Try something new.



GREEN ARROW # 31

Okay, I actually have a lot to say about this particular direction for Green Arrow, but most of it seems dependent on the current status quo for Green Arrow sticking around for more than a few issues, but with the news breaking of a new # 1 for the character and the promise of a turn coming for the storyline that shifts gears pretty dramatically, all I can really comment on when it comes to this particular issue is what is contained within, with no thought given to anything that came before or what comes next.

The issue itself is kind of light. A lot of it seems derivative of the JLA special from last week and what’s left is just an extended inner monologue by Ollie as he wanders through the remains of Star City. The only real interesting part of the issue comes at the end, and I’m not going to spoil it. But the final few panels lead me to believe that the changes we’ve been promised prior to that new shiny # 1 issue, will hit hard next issue.

If nothing else, I give them kudos for ending on a cliffhanger that I honest to God did not see coming, which doesn’t happen often.


SIEGE # 3

BOOM! KRAAWWW! KRAKABOOM! SMASH! BOOOOOOM!

*Squee!!!*


X-FACTOR FOREVER # 1

Having read X-Men Forever by Claremont and not being all too impressed, I was hesitant to pick this one up, but unlike it’s counterpart, the X-Factor Forever series is reportedly a mini-series, which I take as an indicator that the story will be more focused and not as rambling and bumblefuck insane as Claremont’s series.

And the first issue packs in a LOT of info. I would have been lost if it weren’t for the fact that they printed a handy-dandy X-Factor saga time line and reference list in the back of the issue. It was a lifesaver, as it’s been quite a while since I’ve read the old X-Factor stuff.

The one thing I’ll say is that the mood seems consistent with the old series. Whereas Claremont now doesn’t seem anything like Claremont then, Louise Simonson writes some old-school X-Factor in the manner to which fans would be accustomed. I doubt that anybody in the customer base for this particular title could be disappointed in the slightest.

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So that’s it for this week. Sorry for such a light list, but like I said, it’s spring break and my reading schedule is somewhat off-key for the moment. Next week will supposedly be a bitch and a half, so I’ll try to live up to that with a hefty review section. Remember, if there’s anything in particular you want reviewed you can always shoot an e-mail, leave a comment, or let us know in the forum.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Hey, guess what? I read some books! Just like last week? Aren’t I unpredictable? But seriously folks, I got my books yesterday, though about six hours later than usual so I actually stayed up late reading comic books to ensure that I would be able to get this post up in a reasonably timely manner. You guys should send me a gift basket.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #622 GNTLT 3.99
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #33 SIEGE 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #9 2.99
BLACK LANTERN GREEN ARROW #30 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 3.99
BLACKEST NIGHT #7  3.99
BLACKEST NIGHT JSA #3 (OF 3) 2.99
CAPTAIN SWING #1 (OF 4) 3.99
CHOKER #1 (MR) 3.99
DARK WOLVERINE #83 SIEGE 2.99
DEADPOOL #20 2.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #2 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #576 2.99
GI JOE TP VOL 02 19.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #9 2.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #36 (C: 1-0-0) 2.99
MS MARVEL #50 3.99
NEW AVENGERS #62 SIEGE 3.99
SUPERMAN #697 2.99
THOR #607 SIEGE 2.99
TRANSFORMERS ONGOING #4 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #41 2.99
X-FACTOR #202 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #233 XN 2.99

That’s a pretty healthy haul. So what did I think?

ASM 622
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 622

For the last few week’s I’ve really been boosting up ASM as a book. I think it’s been consistantly good and that the naysayers have been blinded by their own biases. This issue however is a bit of a mixed bag, in that the lead story with Morbius is actually quite fun if a tad on the light side, not actually being full length and thus appearing somewhat rushed, while the second story with Flash Thompson is just sort of a discombobulated mess.

I am willing to bet that the secondary tale is in there because they need to quickly set up Flash’s new status quo for when he inevitably comes back into the fold of the supporting cast on a regular basis. It feels like the writing team’s attempt to get us re-aquainted with Flash and let us know that by featuring him in such a beefy role in what amounts to a backup story, he must be important enough to care about. Continuity wise, at least.

Like I said, the issue is a mixed bag, but it’s only a slight hiccup in the road as far as I’m concerned, because it’s a one-off story meant to act as an interlude anyhow. I don’t blame them for trying to cram some exposition in there that might have gotten cut short if it were rammed into an ongoing storyline. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…Amazing Spider-Man.

Choker # 1
CHOKER # 1

It’s like Sin City meets Blade Runner with enough of the classic Marlowe noir not to feel cheap. Choker is Ben McCool’s debut creator-owned story and damned if he didn’t knock it out of the park with this first issue. The dialogue is crisp and feels as solid as noir dialogue can, which admittedly can sometimes come off as really cheesy. Remember Frank Miller’s script for The Spirit? Yeah, it’s nothing like that.

I’ve admitted that I’m not normally a fan of Ben Templesmith. His artwork is hard to critique because any complaints can be attributed to his wanting to add a sense of style. And luckily, in the case of this book, the style works. Whereas I felt it actually hindered the story in something like 30 Days of Night, here it feels like any other type of art style would have seemed…off.

Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. I’m always telling people that there’s great new stuff out there and this is no exception. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you pass it up.

Captain Swing
CAPTAIN SWING # 1

Speaking of original material, fuck you Warren Ellis. How the living hell do you manage to crank out so many titles in such short periods of time, and all of them be thoroughly entertaining? Where is your off month? When do I get to read something from you that sucks. That would be a surprise. I would actually be shocked if I picked up an Ellis book and didn’t like it. The man has such a vivid sense of world-building and setting that he could tell an infinite number of stories simply by interchanging the characters and plots from his different endeavors into each other’s locales. In this case, we get a pre-industrial revolution London in the time of the formation of the Metropolitan Police (aka the “Met”) and a mysterious steampunk villain(?) who fires electric bullets and cavorts around town in a flying airship.

Once again, fuck you Warren Ellis. You creative prick.

Ms. Marvel Finale
MS. MARVEL # 50

It pains me to say that reading this final issue of Ms. Marvel, I understand why it’s going away. When your grand finale is so astoundingly anti-climactic that it makes the reader’s chest hurt, you probably should thank your lucky stars that you made it to issue 50. Now, I’ve followed this title since # 1, and I’ve tried to get people on board, because I think that it’s been a really damn good title for the majority of the run. But I see the final arc as sort of a missed opportunity. It seemed…I guess rushed is as good a word as any. Like this is all Brian Reed could come up with because the weight of delivering a final issue was weighing on him so heavily.

The backup story is passable. I’m not a big Noh Varr fan, so it didn’t speak to me on any real level. But something tells me that what happened there will come into play whenever they decide to focus a little more on that character. At least when that happens I’ll be prepared.

Overall, this would have been a fine issue were it not the grand finale. In that sense, it feels like a bit of a misfire.

Wonder Woman 41
Wonder Woman # 41

It’s an extended Power Girl cameo, how the hell do you think I felt about it?

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And that’s it for this week, join us next time when I aim to be even more passive aggressive.


Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Ah hell, it’s that time again. Where I sit down and type out a bunch of snarky retorts to the weekly comic offerings I put money down for on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, a bulk of the week’s pull was in trade form and I can’t write up a timely review of collected stories so this column might be on the slim side this week. I’ll try to make for it in repetitive ramblings throughout the reviews.

The Pull List:
BLACKEST NIGHT WONDER WOMAN #3 (OF 3) 2.99
BOYS #39 2.99
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #32 TWILIGHT PT 1 (OF 5)  2.99
CINDERELLA FROM FABLETOWN WITH LOVE #4 (OF 6)  2.99
CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #18 2.99
CRIMINAL SINNERS #4 (MR) 3.5
DARK TOWER FALL OF GILEAD PREM HC 24.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #896 2.99
FABLES TP VOL 13 THE GREAT FABLES CROSSOVER (MR) 17.99
GI JOE ORIGINS #12 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #23 2.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA ANNUAL #2 4.99
QUESTION #37 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 2.99
RED ROBIN #9 2.99
SIEGE #2 (OF 4) 3.99
SUPERMAN WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON #12 (OF 12) 2.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #10 3.99

Boys # 39

The Boys # 39

Not a whole lot goes on here, traditionally speaking. There are maybe three plot movements in the entirety of the book, but this single issue does a great deal to set up the next major arc of the overal narrative because Butcher FINALLY finds out about Hughie banging a supe.

A great deal of the drama thus far has been the reader wondering what will happen when the Boys find out about who exactly Hughie is giving the high hard one to on a nightly basis, given that she’s a part of the group they are ACTIVELY seeking to bring down. And at this point in the issue we get a window into what is going to be coming down the pipe. Butcher reacts not with anger or a sense of betrayal but with a disappointment that he hadn’t been able to figure it out before this very moment. It’s a quiet moment that tells us even more about Butcher as a character. How will he handle the fallout? That remains to be seen. But reading the issue you can tell that Ennis put a great deal of thought into how he was going to handle this moment.

The majority of the issue is spent with Hughie and his girl Annie, exploring the boundaries of their relationship (“LET’S PURCHASE OUR HARDCORE PORN!!!”) and showing what kind of growth their coupling has forced upon them both fundimentally as characters. There is some hint that perhaps being in a relationship with Hughie has changed her in ways that might be driving a gap between them, just in the differences between what the need as far as intimacy and mutual interests. It could be read that Hughie feels a twinge of responsibility for Annie’s sudden personality shift. But, that’s just speculation on my part.

A great many people like to dump on Garth Ennis because his writing veers toward ultraviolence and sophmoric humor, but the man does character moments just as good as any other major writer, and better than some I could mention. The book also has the expressive art of Darick Robertson working in its favor.

Deadpool Team Up 896Deadpool Teamup # 896

I think I’m getting burnt out on Deadpool. And gee, with around six regular series and eighty appearances a month, who would have thought that would happen? This particular issue suffers from the same problems I mentioned in my review of Merc with a Mouth # 7, in that the humor is entirely forced and derivitive. It doesn’t have the voice of Deadpool, that casual zaniness that seems to compliment the character so well. Instead we get cheap trucker jokes and some talking raccoons. Sorry to say, while that would normally have me giddy in my seat, this one just seems to fall flat.

Cover A
GI Joe Origins # 12

Two things made me pick up this issue; Marc Andreyko’s name in the credit list and that awesome cover. I have to admit that interior artist Ben Templesmith’s art styling is not my cup of tea, the issue itself is a pretty good standalone Baroness tale that gives us the new-canon origin of the character and a glimpse into what molded her morals and values before becoming the character as we’ve come to know her.

The issue hits all the right notes, and while the story is nothing we haven’t seen before, it’s a change of pace from where the book has gone previously and I felt I got my money’s worth out of it. Also, nice cover.

SIEGESIEGE # 2

Okay, here’s the one people have been talking about. And it’s impossible to review without major spoilers so just turn back now if you don’t want to know who died and how and what I feel about it.

Gone?

Okay, let’s go.

So Sentry rips Ares right in half. Yep, it’s Ares who was the “big death” Bendis was hyping. And while the fight leading up to it was pretty cool, it’s not all that impressive considering how many people we’ve seen ripped in half over the years, partiularly in Bendis-penned comics(Vision and Carnage, anyone?). Remember in my review of KICKASS where I said that Millar was the best hype man in the game? Bendis is kind of the opposite. Whereas we believe Millar every damned time despite the fact that we’ve been fooled by him before, everytime Bendis says something will be shocking or unexpected, we know that it’s just going to be one of his old tricks. At least this time he didn’t claim that the event would “rip the internet in half.”

Waitaminute…holy shit…

Guys, is that Ares death supposed to be some kind of wink-wink joke? FUCK YOU BENDIS YOU SELF-CONSCIOUS WHORE!!!

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That’s it for this week. I’m going to go punch a wall and calm down. *deep breath*