Star Spangled War Stories: G.I. Zombie #1
w. Palmiotti & Gray
a. Scott Hampton
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: Okay, I give pretty much every D.C. New 52 #1 a chance, and have enjoyed their previous war books, but I thought this was pushing it a bit. Books like Men of War, GI Combat and Blackhawks were cancelled pretty quickly due to low sales, despite the quality of the books and the realism of modern and post-human warfare depicted in them, so I couldn’t really see the appeal of G.I. Zombie. It smacked of a certain Silver Age goofiness, that couldn’t possibly be re-presented in an up to date and believable manner in the current climate of comic book storytelling.
I was Wrong.
I should have known better with Palmiotti & Gray at the helm. The dynamic duo ( who’s co-writing credits are too numerous to list! ) had gotten me hooked on a Western comic ( for like, the first time! ) with their work on Jonah Hex in All-Star Western, so it’s no surprise I’m now hooked on this military-horror comic. And with Scott Hampton doing the art, how can you resist? The guy is simply great. From his early work, right to his team-up with Steve Niles on Gotham County Line and the much under-praised Simon Dark, Hampton has always had a realistically moody grading to his art that elevates the horror aspect of his works, without being slasher-flick-obvious about it.
Normally, I give a little synopsis of a comic I’m reviewing, but in this case trying to explain it would take the fun out of it! The book is intriguing from the get go, and for the first half you forget it’s a Zombie book, seeming more like a noir crime story ( with Hampton’s above-stated style perfectly suited ). I actually checked the cover after the first few pages to make sure I grabbed the right book. And you’re not really sure how it’s a military book, until the very last page. When it all clicks together…. that’s when you see the talent Palmiotti and Gray have, and the serious potential for this book. What ever you think this book is about, and how you think it plays out…. you’re probably wrong!
Why?: If you were among the lucky, and had the foresight to read Robin Rises: Omega #1 last week, you’ll be thrilled to know: it continues here! (as does the original title of the book! ) Ra’s Al Ghul is presumed dead, and Talia’s coffin lost in the Himalayas. Glorious Godfrey, emissary of Darkseid, has escaped to Apokolips with the Chaos Shard and Damian Wayne’s corpse, laced with the crystal’s energy. There is only one thing stopping Batman from storming Apokolips in a fury a vengeance and getting his son’s body back….. The Justice League!!!! As they try their best to explain their actions against the Dark Knight, all laid out logically and calmly, you see the for the first time proof that the New 52 Justice League has only been together for 5 years, because these idiots have yet to realize ….. You can’t change Batman’s mind. Ever. Period.
So of course it gets physical, and Tomasi does two really cool things here:
1. He avoids the conceit of having Batman easily kick everyone’s ass in a matter of minutes, and actually resolves the battle in a somewhat peaceful manner, but still leaving Batman looking like a bad-ass.
2. Introduces the Hellsuit, an advanced,armored Bat-suit designed by Batman, forged in the Sun by Superman and Green Lantern, quenched in the depths by Aquaman, computerized by Cyborg, energized by the Flash and spellcasted for battle by Wonder Woman.
Yeah, it looks as cool as it sounds.
Tomasi and Gleason have given us plenty of great Batman moments in their 3 year run on Batman & Robin, and from the bulk of this issue, it looks like they’re just getting started. The last page reveal of Batman’s real allies in his plan to get Damian back from the horrorfyingly twisted world ruled by a demon god of death, is down right cinematic! One of those ” Yeaaaaahhh Boyyyyy” moments that you know is leading up to something epic!
w. Geoff Johns
a. John Romita Jr.
The Gist: C’mon man, this book just bleeds comic book awesomeness from the very first page. Just look at that cover! JRJR is a comic art god, and guided by the hands of DC’s main man Geoff Johns, is bringing a whole new realm of cool to The Man of Steel. And for those of you who complain about JRJR’s style being too “old school” or “too comic-booky”, think about what you’re saying! You want realism? Go watch TV! Comic books are always better when substance outweighs style, and Romita Jr. is far more substantial an artist than most out there, and there is more to sequential storytelling than pretty people standing around looking sexy!
The adventures of Superman’s human counterpart Ulysses continues this issue, with Kal training the man raised in another dimension a key part of being a powerful being from another world… how to blend in! Kal, disguised as Clark Kent (a mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper…), using his old connections at the Daily Planet, has hunted down the final clue to Ulysses’ mysterious origin… will it lead to heartache and despair, or a touching reunion? Find out in this summer’s blockbuster Superman story!
Original Sin #5.2 :
Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm #2
w. Jason Aaron & Al Ewing
a. Lee Garbett & Simone Bianchi
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: Because Aaron and Ewing have done the impossible! They made me interested in Angela. Sure they had both Garbett and Bianchi, each talented artists in widely different ways, to help achieve this feat, but still it’s impressive. I’ve bitched and moaned for months about her awkward shoe-horning into the Marvel Universe, and the complete lack of imaginative character exploration in her follow up appearances in Guardians of the Galaxy, that I had no confidence in her as a player in the Marvel cosmic sandbox and was sure she’d fade into obscurity.
And then Aaron and Ewing step in and cement her deep into the 616, with an immensely close connection to one of Marvel’s oldest characters, and an explanation for where she’s from, why she hasn’t been seen before Age of Ultron, and the motivation behind her warrior-angel view of life.
All in one issue!
As revealed last issue, in Asgard’s ancient past, there was a Tenth realm filled with valkyrie-like winged female warriors. Heven, as this realm was called, was at war with Asgard, a war that seemed to have no end. In an attempt to get the Asgardians to surrender, the Queen Angel kidnapped the daughter of Odin and Freya, and threatened to kill her if Odin did not kneel in defeat. Odin tries to call her bluff, but she wasn’t bluffing and follows through on the infanticide.
In a utter God-Rage at the death of child, Odin channels the Odin-Force, destroying the Armada of Heven, and sunders the Tenth realm from the other Nine Realms, leaving it adrift in subspace, disconnected from not only Asgard and the Nine Realms, but our entire dimension. Until now.
After Thor’s vision of a sister he never knew alive and well today, he goes on a mission to find her. And Thor is nothing, if not persistent. Denied help from Freya, his mother, who truly believes her daughter was killed, Thor enlists the help of Loki, to find a way into the Tenth Realm, hoping to find his sister. What he finds instead are the Legions of Heven’s Angelic Warriors, all with genetic predisposition to hating their near mythical foes, the Asgardians!!
Thanks to Old Loki ( a future, all growed-up version of Loki, manipulated by, and manipulating, the All-Mother ), who guides Angela back to the Tenth Realm, abruptly taking her away from the Guardians in the middle of a Mission, to make a muddle of this Asgardian soap opera. Old Loki, being from the future, knows that Thor and Angela would have met in a few months from now, in a peaceful brother and sister reunion that ends in hugs and kisses, but instead, forces a deadly confrontation. Angela returns to Heven, to find the armies of her people, beaten and bloodied at Thor’s feet…. and guess who hates Asgardians the most and happens to be Heven’s most skilled and deadly warrior?? Yeaaah this is gonna be a good one.
Aaron and Ewing make a hell of writing team, with Aaron’s high-end concepts and Ewing’s spot on dialogue, this “tie-in miniseries ” has a weight of importance that has grown out of both Thor: God of Thunder and Loki: Agent of Asgard and ties so naturally into Original Sin that it is quickly becoming as integral a storyline as Original Sin itself.
All New Invaders #8
w. James Robinson
a. Steve Pugh
James Robinson has been giving control over some of Marvel’s oldest characters, with his stunning work on Marvel’s First Family over in Fanstastic Four, to dealing with some of the companies more AARP-eligible characters here in Invaders. When Toro, the Inhuman sidekick of Jim Hammond ( the O.G. Human Torch ) is kidnapped by AIM while stuck in a Terrigen Cocoon ( what?? You missed Infinity and Inhumanity???? Ugh…. look it up! ), Torch now an Agent of Shield ( with a really cool Variation on Cap’s old Super Soldier uniform from his Super-Spy days ) is off to rescue him, with a little help from Namor and The Winter Soldier. Tracking them to a hidden base in Germany, all is not as it seems when The Winter Soldier informs them of a hi-tech arms dealer’s involvement in the kidnapping, as well as the villain possibly having a Deathlok in his service. Turns out Bucky’s info was a little off: He doesn’t have A Deathlok……… he has ALL the Deathloks!!!!!
w. Chuck Dixon
a. Butch Guice
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: I know, I know… you’re like “Another Post Apocalyptic Earth Comic, but I’m already reading Walking Dead, The Wake, Trees and The Super Annuated Man!” Well this one came first! Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino started this work over 25 years ago, with a two issue mini series from Eclipse comics, and a never published sequel ( both of which were gloriously reprinted by IDW into an awesome trade paperback).
Winter World is a tale of a future Earth wracked by climate change, frozen over from Pole to Pole, and the tale of Scully, an Ice Trader. Travelling from one pocket of a destitute humanity to another, trading goods and food where he can, Scully ekes out a living, barely surviving in a world where the only thing colder than the weather is the hearts of the scavenging warlords, enslaving despots and cannibal hunters who populate the wastelands of what was once North America. Joined by his ever-present faithful companion Rah-Rah the badger, and his teenage sidekick Wynn, the three survivors have escaped multiple death traps as they made their way across the frozen Caribbean Sea in Search of Wynn’s parents, the young girl having been on her own since childhood until being saved (once from Scavengers, another time from slavery and imprisonment) and being somewhat adopted by Scully..
The current arc has Scully, Wynn and Rah-Rah on the run from a horde of psychotic cannibals, as they cross the Panama Canal ( in a heavy treaded, armored snow tank ) into the Pacific coast, following the trail of an Airplane, the first seen in the decades since the new ice age began.
Hoping to find a better class of civilization than the one they escaped from in the Caribbean ( see above mentioned Winter World TPB ), the three stumble upon the village of La Nina, an almost paradise nestled on the frozen shores of the Pacific. Wynn’s excitement is soon muffled by Scully’s wariness as he suggests sneaking in at night to see what kind of folk they’re dealing with, and not have a repeat of past near-death exploits. Scully’s paranoia pans out, as this idyllic town turns into a warren of booby traps come nightfall, and Scully and Wynn have suddenly found themselves, once again, out of the frying pan and into the fire (or in this case out of the ice cube tray and into the freezer! ).
The book is full of Dixon’s touches of humanity that give it the realism and believability most comics fail to catch. A bi-lingual,slightly mad trader on skis, talking to himself and willing to trade information for a can of apple pie filling. Wynn discovering bundles of a white sugar-like powder that tastes like medicine in an abandoned hangar, then going on a quick coke binge of snowball-throwing, snow angel making, non stop chit-chatting skeed up antics before passing out. Her description of the sea air when they arrive at La Nina, all make the story more personal and emotion provoking.
And with Guice on art, it only emphasizes the human elements of the story against the bleak backdrop of this frozen realm. Guice is the perfect replacement for the departed Zaffino to depict Winter World in its signature form. Part of me wishes this was black and white as was the original stories, no offense to Diego Rodriguez, whose color work is perfect for this project, but Guice is one of the few artist in the biz who’s artwork and storytelling skills work equally well in both color and black and white. Check this book out if you’re down for some damn fine sequential storytelling… it’s a classic in the making! And grab that trade!!
Last Weeks’s surprise pick:
Well, technically, they’re from a few weeks ago, but it is a two-for ( as well as a little promotion! )
w. Robert Kirkman
a. Paul Azaceta
Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman gives us his take on demonic possession, and it’s just as intriguing and horrifying as what he did with zombies! For a full recap and review ( and some excellent art samples! )check out my article ( chuck insert link here ) and get the glimpse of it before #2 comes out next week
Tech Jacket #1
w. Joe Keatinge
a. Khary Randolph
Originally created by Kirkman over ten years ago and used sparingly in the Invincible universe, Tech Jacket is the story of Zack Thompson, a teenage boy who inherits an alien armor that bonds with him and cannot be removed until his death and the inter-galactic adventures he becomes embroiled in. Part Green Lantern, part Guyver… all action, thanks to the Manga-esque line work by Khary Randolph that gives this teenage space opera the action lines and bombastic spreads that make it such a fun read!
And as luck should have it ( or a clumsy attempt at cross-marketing by yours truly… ) both Paul Azaceta and Khary Randolph will be signing comics at my LCS, Royal Collectibles, in picturesque Forest Hills, home to Peter Parker! Check out the information below, and if you can, c’mon by! Outcast #2 will be out that day, and they’ll have copies of Tech Jacket #1 and Outcast #1 on hand ( while supplies last! )