Review of The Mantle #1

Mantle 1by Ed Brisson and Brian Level

The last time I went to see a local band was a few weeks ago. I can remember leaving the club thinking, “It would be pretty cool if right now I became the host of a endless power, lets call it The Mantle. It would be even cooler if I was tossed into a battle that has been going on for decades between a dude named The Plague who is already on his way to kick my ass. Actually, no, pizza sounds better, let’s get some pizza.” This is exactly what happens to our buddy Robbie. He is chosen to be the next Mantle and continue the epic fight against The Plague.

Brisson knows that the beginning issues of these types of stories can be very cookie cutter. Instead of follow the origin formula, he uses a team of sarcastic characters to point out that this beginning may seem familiar but, although it is necessary, we will get past it quickly and onto the good stuff. The three characters Necra, Kabrah and Shadow help us get through the initial, “What’s going on with me?” and quickly into the “Oh shit! The Plague is here to rip you to pieces.”

The Mantle starts off with a strong debut issue filled with comedy and action. Robbie, our hero, has the right arrogant attitude to jump headfirst into a vicious battle with The Plague, within minutes of becoming The Mantle. Although, Robbie can get on the nerves a bit, like when he says, “Eat fist, dick bag!” There are a few cringing moments like that but overall I am a fan of the Robbie character. Brisson does toss a little twist into the end just to hammer home that this isn’t going to be like anything you have read before. I am pleased with the cast of characters in this book. Shadow can teleport but only through the shadows, there has to be very little light for him to work his magic. Kabrah is the muscle and the brains and Necra can visit the dead and I’m looking forward to seeing more of this team. Issue #2 of the Mantle is definitely worth checking out to see where Brisson can take this unpredictable story next.

– Dean

Review of The Mythic #1

Mythic 1by Phil Hester and John McCrea

First thing’s first. This book is $1.99. If you missed out this week, make sure you add it to the list next week. It is definitely worth checking out for $1.99. Mythic is set in a strange world. A world where there are monsters, where the sun is being pulled across the heavens by a flaming chariot, where earthquakes are lizard-demons wrestling below the earth and where the tides rise and fall with the weeping of an immortal princess who sleeps beneath the shore. Did I forget to mention, this strange world is our world? We have been lied to so we can better understand how the world works. Science was created to explain the “laws” of the earth, because then we don’t have to believe we live in this fantastical place.

Mythic has potential to be an interesting series. It will definitely be ridiculous at most times, but that is what makes it enjoyable. Every scientific fact we think we know will be tested by this Mythic team. In Issue #1 there has been a drought and the team has been sent in to remedy it. They explain to the local police that it rains because the mountains and the clouds have sex, after they bang, it always rains. However, apparently storm cloud has a wandering eye and mountain is giving him the freeze out. So what is the plan? How can you get rock and cloud to do the dance with no pants? Well, that one is easy. Flirt with the mountain to make the cloud jealous. Yes that is right. This book contains a man attempting to flirt with a mountain to make a storm cloud jealous. It is completely outrageous, ridiculous and fantastic! I definitely want to read more of this book to see what else they can come up with and for $1.99 just give it a try.

– Dean

Review of Howard the Duck #3

Howard the Duck 3 Bobby Rubio
Bobby Rubio

by Chip Zdarsky & Joe Quinones

When this title was first announced I was very excited. Steve Gerber’s original run on Howard the Duck is one of the best comics that Marvel has ever produced. Funny, quirky, insightful, dark and downright surreal, it is a series that feels as unique now as it must have to readers nearly 4 decades ago. Since then Howard has stumbled around the Marvel Universe, while mostly avoiding the spotlight. Then came his cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy and all of a sudden the Duck was hot once more. Marvel put his Omnibus back in print, and announced a new series written by rising artist Chip Zdarsky. Zdarsky’s off-kilter sense of humor suggested a natural fit for Howard. Indeed, the series landed #2 on Nothing But Comics’ list of most anticipated series of 2015, beating out offerings by the likes of Grant Morrison and Brian K Vaughan. Clearly I was not the only staff member excited. This title’s success was never a sure thing, but I wanted very much for it to work.

Unfortunately, three issues in, I find myself disappointed.
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Aliens Fire and Stone TPB Review

Aliens Fire and Stone 3

by Chris Roberson, Patric Reynolds, Dave Stewart, Paul Lee

Like most Sci-Fi fans, I’m familiar with the Aliens franchise although I’m much more partial to the Predator series. I was convinced I had seen everything that could be done with Xenomorphs and chestbursters, but I was pleased to be wrong after reading this.

The crew of Hadley’s Hope (the colony from Aliens) mounts a desperate escape after being overwhelmed by the Xenomorphs. People are dying left and right, but about 24 people make it to a surface-to-orbit mining ship. Cale is charged with loading cargo onto the ship, but allows a small number of Xenomorphs into a container out of fear he would be left behind if this was discovered too soon.

The Hadley’s Hope crew make it to LV-223 (the planet in Prometheus) and find it lush with plants and organisms. Cale’s mistake is quickly discovered, as they open the cargo hold and are swarmed. Most of the crew make it into the woods, at the cost of having few supplies. Russel, an engineer, becomes obsessed with the remarkable changes on LV-223 while everyone else argues over how best to survive. His journey of discovery becomes the main crux of the story, and one more interesting than the story in Prometheus.

My main experience with Roberson’s comes from his Doc Savage maxi-series for Dynamite. His writing here is crisp and concise, introducing characters that I care about and ramping up the tension throughout the book. The tone is not unlike The Walking Dead in that the survivors of Hadley’s Hope are in a losing situation and their existence is a temporary state. The key difference is that the Xenomorphs are more deadly and cunning than zombies, and Roberson understands this very well.

  Reynolds’ pencils are perfect for this book, shadowy and bleak but also instantly recognizable to the related films. Most impressive is how he makes all the characters (even the ones about to die) look distinct from each other. There is also good use of landscape scenes and birds-eye views of the environments.

The final story is a short one that fits into the beginning of Aliens and caps off that story’s direness.

Despite the great writing and art, there are a few hiccups. The Hadley’s Hope crew makes the odd choice of landing on a new planet, walking onto the surface and then remarking on their surprise that the atmosphere is breathable. Even if they scanned it beforehand and decided it was safe, this is not inherently clear and underscores why so many characters (even scientists) die in the franchise. The plot also uses a human/Alien hybrid twice, with only emotional impact resulting from the second instance. Despite the potential, I don’t think hybrids of any kind work in the Alien/Predator franchises.

Overall, this is a great horror/sci-fi story that should appease fans of the movies or even causal comic readers. The writing is on par with The Walking Dead at it’s best and the art in both stories captures the look of the films without sacrificing style.

Rating: Poor. Fair, Good, Great, Excellent

Batman Essentials: The Dark Knight Returns

DKRIf you peaked to the best of your abilities would you know it? Would you realize it in hindsight? What would you do afterwards? I often think about this in regards to Frank Miller, a creator whose work I really admire from one point in his career and generally despise now both as an artists as well as in the general sense of being a human. But that doesn’t change the validity of his creations and with all that said when Miller was on he was able to work with a level of comic book alchemy that is still head and shoulders above anything else in the medium with his crowning achievement being The Dark Knight Returns; the greatest creation in the history of the comics. It takes all the things that only comics can do in a story and does them better, it redefines an entire superhero universe for the modern era, it satires it’s time but is still timeless and it lives in so many different genre’s and styles while still being truly it’s own singular voice that has not simply been imitated but more over became a staple of comic book creation. It doesn’t just transcend the medium or superhero’s so much as transcends artistic classification in and of itself. It’s trash fiction that is also a masterpiece, it’s the send off for the pre-crisis Batman that Miller would ultimately redefine and it’s a mirror on the inherent chaos and corruption of our  own world. In short it is the greatest comic ever created and if you are going to celebrate Batman The Dark Knight Returns is the greatest work of art in his story.

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