Category Archives: Comic Book Reviews

Rob Patey reviews comics on Ain’t It Cool News under the nam de plume Optimous Douche. He’s also so arrogant he posts them here.

ALL NEW 52 DC COMICS: A COMPLETE (ish) LIST AND REVIEW

NEW 52 LOGOThere’s a nice young twenty-something lad at my local WaWa who will chat geek with me while I await my Barista Bar flavored coffee treat. The other day he said he was finally ready to get back into comics, specifically the New 52. “So, what’s your first trade going to be,” I asked, fearing I already knew the answer. “Justice League,” he retorted.

“Fuuuuuccccckkkkkk why does this happen every time,” resonated through my headspace.

Of course I know the answer. That first JUSTICE LEAGUE arc was the big news item. It’s the book that was covered by CNN and all of those credible media outlets with behemoth marketing budgets behind them. The book that had reach.

However, quantity of units sold is rarely the sign of quality. Every one-hit wonder and earwig we end up loathing after its 2 months half-life is indelible proof of this theorem.

“Dude, you having a stroke?” Obviously my face was more reflective of my mental yawp than I thought. “Why JUSTICE LEAGUE,” I murmured through pursed lips of rage. “I don’t know, seemed the central point.”

Hard to deny the logic here, but after 3 years into the New 52 experiment. That original JUSTICE LEAGUE story with the five years behind continuity and a team-up wonder team that just didn’t seem to gel on page, was the tarnished crown, not the crown jewel of the New 52.

In an effort to serve this nice young man and any others who might have missed the boat, but now want to jump on I give you the Rob Patey (Optimous Douche) complete New 52 frank talk. I’ve read multiple issues of every mother lovin one of them, and reviewed a high percentage of each title. Here though, the shall now live in one consolidated list.

The Stratums of a Universe- EMBRACE THEM 

Scott-Snyder-Rob-Patey

Comics CAN make you happy

There is much to love about the New 52, there really is. Fanboys to Fangeezers love to dwell on the car wrecks, but many books have shone brightly. One smart move given the cacophony of chaos leading up to the New 52 was to create a universe of different themes. So all books live in one of the following buckets: Justice League, Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Young Justice, The Edge, The Dark and Other.

There was never an edict that we must buy every book on the shelf. Fanmen like myself, those of us weaned into DC from CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS became used to buying every book because it was an affordable endeavor. Also, it was years before the rise of the powerful indie. We would have to wait until the early 90s until we got to a time average comic shops carried something other than Marvel and DC. Ahhhh early Image.

With this presentation in place fans could really go wherever they chose based upon their particular comic appetites. This was a good call, even if the plan has somewhat imploded on itself during this new age of infinite cross overs and events.

The New 52 A Complete (ish) Breakdown

 justice-league-new-52JUSTICE LEAGUE UNIVERSE

JUSTICE LEAGUE: Set five years before the events of all other books in the New 52, this was supposed to give our favorite heroes of Batman, Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Cyborg a back-story and context for their doings elsewhere. It was also supposed to be a nuclear explosion of action and impending danger. What we got were a bunch of petulant children inside big splash pages and yet another appearance of Darkseid, well, sorta. Darkseid appeared for about 2 pages. The rest of the time we watched our heroes act far too young for merely a five year trip back in time and act contradictory – personality wise, not maturity wise – from who they were in other books. I love Geoff Johns. I love Jim Lee. I do not love them together. Jim is too bombastic and Geoff is too intimate. What it left was a hollowness in the title until we got to Thrones of Atlantis. Forever Evil has caused a bit of the hollowness again, but the other books in the crossover make up for the loss. JUSTICE LEAGUE can be a rand read, it simply wasn’t until it was tied to a crossover or given a great back up story with Johns and Frank giving a new birth to Shazam.

AQUAMAN: The fish jokes have never been forced and I love a good reluctant King story as Arthur struggles between the love of his Father’s world and the underwater world of his Mother. Also, his relationship with Mara is one of the best love stories DC ha sever seen. Despite the fantastic elemnst of the book, this bond is very authentic.

THE FLASH: I hate Barry Allen, Wally West is my Flash. Book never stood a chance. I have dabbled in a few issues here and there and quite frankly it’s only when Barry acts in a smart ass fashion like Wally do I find myself interested.

GREEN ARROW: Here’s another one where I will show my image. My Ollie Queen is best buds with Hal Jordan and looks like Errol Flynn. This new guy is just sort of there. There’s no relationship between GA and Black Canary either, and this I truly can’t abide.

WONDER WOMAN: AMAZING! Azarello has created a story for the ages as Dinah battles her sisters and brothers of Olympus to keep Zeus’ latest bastard safe and sound. The mixing of mortals (the baby’s mother) and those that have fallen to mortality has kept one of the creepier titles of the New 52 a first read for me each month it drops.

Justice league of america 1 coverJUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: I loves me some Amanda Waller, even this ultra skinny one who is more evil than pure Machiavellian. This is, I got enough of her SUICIDE SQUAD. I applaud a team of JUSTICE LEAGUE busters, but this ain’t the crew. Baz versus Hal…please. Catwoman against Batman, I bet on the Bat. Martian Manhunter versus Superman, sure as long as Supes gets his eyes gouged out. Vibe versus Flash…WTF?????? Also, this title was born for a crossover and has lived tere since. It has had no time to set its own pace.

EARTH 2 AND WORLD’S FINEST: I’m a parallel universe whore so take this recommend with a grain of salt. Objectively I can say these books are most reflective of the time before New 52. It’s a more adult universe with a more realistic bend on how the globe would operate were it overrun with Gods. Power Girl and Huntresses’ “fish out of water” tale in WORLD’S FINEST has been an almost in-universe catharsis as they complain how young and inept the New 52 holy trinity is compared to their now deceased family members Reality Deux.

VIBE & KATANA: See JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA review for why these two members never should have had their own titles. Both were well written, they just simply couldn’t compete even within their universe for prominent shelf space.

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL: The first team of JUSTICE LEAGUE busters were too laughable to live up to the mission, but not laughable in the Bwahahahaha sense. More awwwww. They couldn’t do the job and had no gravitas to balance the funny. It was a still born resurrection of the old title from the 80s.

JUSTICE LEAGUE 3000: This hot mess of resurrected JUSTICE LEAGUE members in the year 3000 is hilarious, fun and just introduced a stellar story element with forgotten “garbage earth.” Finally a JUSTICE LEAGUE and future book that got it right, right out of the gate.

CAPTAIN ATOM: He’s a man of the atom. I only read the first issue. Nowhere near as impactful as the miniseries a few years prior.

FIRESTORM: Another one issue and done read for me. Sorry, just didn’t grab me.

HAWKMAN: Ditto.

MISTER TERRIFIC: This was a tragic case of too many rich smart dudes in one universe syndrome. No one knew what to do with this guy. So they basically cast him off to EARTH 2, which no one except me was reading before Taylor took over. Great character and well done dialog along with future pay off continuity integration when Power Girl appeared. Sad sad sad waste of potential.

Batman_and_Robin_Vol_2-16_Cover

 BATMAN UNIVERSE

5 years before truly rocked these titles. Even though DC tried to ignore it from a story perspective, comic fans could not be mind wiped enough to do the math on the four Robins bounding about. I love Damian Wayne, so I wouldn’t have supported any decision that would have wiped him or any of the Robins clean off the map. However, each Robin being Bruce Wayne’s ward for about 6 months felt like a bit of a slap in the face to those of who watched Batman and his Robins build years long relationships.

Still hasn’t really been course corrected even with the fugazi of Tim Drake’s Red Robin ruse.

BATMAN: Snyder has done some bang up work in Bats, first introducing to the court of Owls and then rebuilding a bunch of other new mythologies for Gotham’s most famous families. I enjoyed Death of the Family, but I also understand the rage of some fans since there were no real deaths – simply betrayals and separations. In the beginning BATMAN required a balls deep commitment to Batman Universe books to get the full effect, but f you’ve been thirsting for an open story without the extra work I highly recommend joining the fun with Zero Year.

BATMAN INC. AND BATMAN & ROBIN: A true yin and yang relationship. BATMAN INC. delivered the atrocity of Damian’s life while BATMAN & ROBIN showcased the joy of a loving Father and Son relationship. These books also gave us Bat-Cow and Titus, two gifts I will forever be grateful for having read.

BATWING: every fiber of my being wanted to like this book, Winick and team have created a quality book here month after month. It was wise of DC not to squash this one even though it doesn’t bring the thunder and the noise. I stopped reading it solely for ideological reasons. I thought the Incorporating of Batman opened the Kimono too wide and squashed any willing suspension of disbelief. Don’t be a purist like I am kids, you are only cutting off your own nose.

BATWOMAN: Some of the most gorgeous art to grace a comic page. I wish I gave two shits about Batwoman.

BIRDS OF PREY: This one sadly annoyed me after the joy I had with the old book. I’m pissed Black Canary is no longer with Oliver Queen and I just couldn’t let that nagging sensation go enough to enjoy this book.

batgirl 16 coverBATGIRL: I’m fine with walkie Babs and absolutely dig her psycho Brother, James. Gail Simone has once again delivered the goods issue after issue. Babs is the heart of the Bat Family and that heart once again beats within enthusiasm as opposed to her somewhat maudlin existence as wheelie Babs Pre 52.

CATWOMAN: I loved this book under Winnick. The crazy hot passion between her and Bats, her cavalier attitude towards….everything, and some really well thought out heists and capers. Then Nicola Scott took over with some shit about Eclipso. Haven’t been back since that hot mess dark pall shrouded the fun.

DETECTIVE: A great Bat book for dabblers. If continuity gets you blue and you don’t have the resources to read everything on the shelves look no further than DETECTIVE. My favorite story to date was the Emperor Penguin takeover of Oswald Cobblepot’s empire.

NIGHTWING: I’m bugged by what the “five years before” have done to the ages of the Robins. I shun because I care.

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS: Sadly, this has been a very good book that was mired in ridiculous controversy spurred by assed up mommy bloggers. Yes, Starfire is a wee bit more liberal with her orange ta-tas, but I say who the hell knows what an alien libido is like? Also, there are a ton of people who can’t abide the return of Jason Todd. Personally, I read the book for the camaraderie. Since we no longer have Ollie, Hal and Dinah these three are some very intriguing intergalactic wanderers.

HARLEY QUINN: A new entry that remains to be seen on staying power. The 4th wall breaking 0 issue left many wanting since we’re not all comic insiders. Follow-up issues have been a sadistic fairytale. The literal will walk. My advice is to just pretend that you are viewing the world through Harley’s eschewed lens and you will find a new level of joy in the adorable mayhem.

TALON: No, just no. Court of Owls were much more interesting as an entity than a personal tale of vengeance.

Superman_Unchained_1_

SUPERMAN UNIVERSE

Another five year before that just did not fly. ACTION was Ok, but the rest of the books not mired in the past barely skimmed the surface of who Superman truly is beyond the cape. The course has corrected over the past 6 months, but there are still some tall buildings Superman needs to traverse to get back on top.

ACTION: I love Grant Morrison, but I did not love ACTION. It had nothing to do with jeans and t-shirt Superman and much more to do with the plot that felt like Johns’ SECRET ORIGINS and the fact Clark never felt like a corn fed kid from Kansas. Oh, then he became a fireman or some shit. This book didn’t hit its stride until Pak took over with the issue 25 ZERO YEAR.

SUPERBOY: I honestly read the first issue and never came back. Kids in fluid tubes just don’t do it for me.

SUPERGIRL: This little lady course corrects every other thing wrong with the SUPERMAN UNIVERSE books. We feel her pain as she struggles to understand a world that fears her. We truly see a fawn on new legs. She has also been on some great intergalactic travels and quite recently became a Red Lantern. A plot line that helped give her book a goose and actually got me interested in RED LANTERN for the first time.

SUPERMAN: If you’re into the talks of mergers and the politics of media, you found your book for the first arc of Superman’s new life. If you like villains that don’t mean shit to anyone akin to the mutants of the week from Smallville, then stay for the next couple of arcs. If you like a good comic book where Superman must balancer his hero life and the world of Clark Kent, start reading SUPERMAN when Lobdell takes over.

SUPERMAN UNCHAINED: I love how Snyder once again tried to inject real history into a title. I was on board for Sam Lane running a covert ops group compete with their own Superman. As we watched this Darkseid looking chap try to espouse the virtues of duty to country while Kal talks of saving humanity, you begin to realize why the New 52 was so necessary. The world is much bigger than it was in 1938; we need a hero that fights for truth, justice and that’s it really.

batmansuperman1BATMAN/SUPERMAN: Quite simply this is the book for everyone who hates the New 52. The interchange between our New 52 versions of B&S with their older and wiser counterparts on Earth 2 satiates fans new and old. This was also a great read for EARTH 2 and WORLD’S FINEST fans. Love seeing worlds that recognize God’s walk among them and where the Gods get off their asses for some proactive world management. The second arc of BATMAN/SUPERMAN finally gave Huntress and Power Girl to out themselves to their Earth Prime family members, making everyone’s lives a little less lonely.

SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN: I’m pro on the Superman and Wonder Woman relationship if for no other reason than it makes Batman more nervous than the Joker having a map of the cave. Soule is doing a bang up job showing the dichotomy between these two despite being similarly powerful. WW’s being raised as a goddess and Clark’s humble bringing will ultimately be their undoing in my opinion rather than the obvious return to Lois. In the mean time it’s nice to see some real relationship turmoil permeate the fantastical.

green_lantern_16_cover

GREEN LANTERN UNIVERSE

While there were no time travel shenanigans shoved into Gl, this was a book that remained virtually untouched from its pre Flashpoint happenings. Pretty much if it was written by Johns or Snyder the book was storyline saved from a reset. In this case it worked though as the universe course corrected around the Lanterns instead of the other way around. Lately, I have loved the fact the GLs are now the scourge of the universe since their mentors went batty. I’m also intrigued to see how long the corps can stop the other light spectrums from draining the universe’s emotional well. Sort of like being an arms control specialist in Compton.

GREEN LANTERN: Because we never skipped a beat from the old universe it’s safe to say the New 52 versions will sit just fine with lapsed readers. Johns continued to play with the light spectrum in the new universe as he dethroned the Guardians for a new universal order. Today, Hal is back in charge and Mogo takes the place of OA as the corps tries to get the rest of the light spectrum to conserve the finite well of power.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS: John Stewart is one of the most tragic heroes in the DC Universe. Guy Gardner one of the most hilarious. Put them together and you noy only get a great buddy book, but one with consequence. Stewart continues to make tough choice after tough choice as guy finds a new home within the emotional spectrum. The road to getting to these destinations is well worth the read.

GREEN LANTERN NEW GUARDIANS: I won’t lie, it took this book a long time to get to the point – basically making Kyle Rayner the White Lantern and introducing to more humane set of Guardians who were locked away by the originals. Not necessary reading, but if you dig Kyle this was the only place to get him. What’s also been interesting is the friendship that formed between Kyle and Carol Ferris. A Carol with options beyond Hal causes some serious strife for our favorite hot headed pilot.

RED LANTERNS: I hated this book when it was released. The one note rage of the Red Lanterns was fine and dandy in a supporting world, but made for very two -dimensional focal points in their own title. Fortunately Guy Gardner came in to take over and kept some of his pre blood ingesting wits about him. The latest crossover with SUPERGIRL has been sensational.

LARFLEEZE: More like Larplease. Same issue I had with the red lanterns at the outset, the embodiment of one emotion is a very flat experience.

teen-titans-11 YOUNG JUSTICE UNIVERSE

This will be the biggest gaping hole in my review. For one, most of the books have been cancelled. Secondly, none of the kids have captured my imagination.

TEEN TITANS: No T tower, no Nightwing and no Marv Wolfman. No thanks.

BLUE BEETLE: I was done with BB the day Maxwell Lord put a bullet in his head. I like my Beetle as a fun nerdy science guy, not a mystical alien. Apparently the market agreed with me.

HAWK & DOVE: Bad art and a worse story. A trade you can skip. To be fair I never really cared about these characters. The only time Hawk was interesting was back when he took over the future during ARMAGEDDON 2001.

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES & LEGION LOST: I was never a big LoS guy, more a L.E.G.I.O.N. chap. Still, I went into these series with open eyes and mind. All we got was confusion and cross pollination between books performed by retarded bees. Not good, and a huge blow to the year 3000. Fortunately JUSTICE LEAGUE 3000 has been able to save the future.

STATIC SHOCK: A title that never stood a chance. The editorial meddling is well documented and unfortunately there are still too many myopic white kids buying books for a black superhero to truly take hold.

THE RAVAGERS: This short lived title didn’t make a lick of sense, not a lick.

all star western cover THE EDGE UNIVERSE

Probably the most original and under appreciated corner of the New 52. Here is where Sci-Fi, westerns and more eclectic titles come to live and sadly die. The biggest problem with the The Edge, that like The Dark, many of these titles are set-ups for events rather than their own beasts.

ALL STAR WESTERN: The best Jonah Hex has ever been. His first few adventures in old time Gotham are great ole’ time tales and fish out of water stories. This series became even better by placing Dr. Arkham as Jonah’s dandy sidekick.

STORMWATCH: A tragedy and travesty from how good this book once was. I reiterate the point I made at the outset; you can’t place a pastiche of the JUSTICE LEAGUE in-continuity with the JUSTICE LEAGUE. I was right, as exhibited by the reboot around issue 20 when Jim Starlin came on. Now, I have no idea what the hell this book is trying to accomplish.

suicide squad 20 coverSUICIDE SQUAD: It kills me to see what happened to this book. A black ops group of criminals that was tons of fun until it had to go serve its crossover masters. This was also where Amanda Waller was at her best.

THE MOVEMENT & THE GREEN TEAM: Meant to be an analogy for our current economic class imbalances, one was mildly interesting and one was simply atrocious. Ever wonder what the world would be like if rich kids had even more in this world they didn’t have to work for? Neither did anyone else, which made GREEN TEAM wither on the vine. THE MOVEMENT was decent about poor kids with powers in New Orleans, but even Gail Simone couldn’t save it from the chopping block next month.

O.M.A.C, GRIFTER, VOODOO, TEAM 7, THRESHOLD, BLACKHAWKS, MEN OF WAR: Some of these were decent, but again they lived to simply serve cross overs, the need to integrate Wild Storm universe events, or were kept so separate from the rest of the new 52 there was really no reason to care. My favorite of the bunch was MEN OF WAR, but it also made one realize how unnecessary mere mortals are when capes are around. Not a great message about the armed services in a time when our country jumps from one war to the next.

justice league dark 23 cover THE DARK UNIVERSE

An original world of magic, might and cynicism. I love this corner of the DCU even if I am beyond pissed about its perpetual implosion of titles.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: A fine book when once again it is allowed to breathe. DC needs this book as desperately as Marvel needs to bring back Dr. Strange. Magic has a place in the superhero world. This team is a fine departure from straight fist-to-cuffs.

SWAMP THING: I never liked the character, yet I am still pissed I shunned the title. I heard it’s good. Any thoughts?

TRINITY OF SIN: PHANTOM STRANGER & PANDORA: Basically vehicles for the Forever Evil crossover. Vehicles more unnecessary than the Pacer.

CONSTANTINE 1 COVERCONSTANTINE: A fine attempt at making the main DCU a little darker. WARNING – this ain’t Vertigo. If that’s what you are looking for you will find this Constantine less than edgy. When placed against other books though he is absolutely bawdy. Decide what you want from your JC.


ANIMAL MAN:
I am livid about the end of this book. I could care less about Buddy Baker’s ability to mimic animals, but I loved the fact we had a superhero with a real family and real family problems. This adoration grew even more with the complexity of Buddy trying t manage a budding acting career. This is the best book to ever get cancelled.

DEMON KNIGHTS: Another original title about the team that would one day become STORMWATCH assuming they could escape the middle ages. Very adult and very good. Also, very cancelled.

FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E: DC’s successful swing at a BPRD league of weird powered super heroes. Fish chick, wolf man and an immortal leader in the body of a small girl this book had weird counterbalanced by Frank’s huge bleeding heart. The issue where he had to kill his child was probably one of the best moments of the New 52 that only I and handful of others ever saw.

I, VAMPIRE: Mary was made a vampire by John. John felt pretty bad about this and spent eternity repenting. He also had to spend it fighting Mary since she kind of dug the ultra violence. One of the most messed up and bloody love stories in comics that just never took hold with fans.

END ANALYSIS

I really feel the New 52 is just coming into its own finally after three years. The rough spots have been smoothed and the books that will work are here to stay while the experiments become fewer and fewer. DC is not Image, they need to realize they are managing icons inside an equally iconic universe. DC main is not just stories – frankly that’s what Vertigo is for.

I still hold to the fact only two books should have been released at reset time: DETECTIVE and ACTION. From there, let new ancillary characters build who are reflective of now instead of then. I know this doesn’t work from a cash and licensing standpoint, but universes like EARTH 1 have ben critically and revenue proven to be the right choice.

Also, I’m dumbfounded by the dogmatic adherence to 52 titles. It was a cute nod to FINAL CRISIS and the multiverse, which hasn’t truly been explored since. It’s an albatross keeping great books either obscured from sight or weighed down carrying the lesser titles, and bad books getting the green light simply to fill an artificial quota.

I wouldn’t write 4,000 plus words about a topic unless I vehemently believe it is worth the time and can be improved. Also, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t care. Take stock and heed of this DC and realize you have great stories in you as long as you can kick the fucking suits and money-men out of the bullpen.

MY LITTLE PHONY 1 REVIEW – BITING SATIRE AGAINST THE BRONY PLIGHT

my little phony cover MY LITTLE PHONY: FANDOM IS TRAGIC: ONE SHOT
Writers: Mike Moreci & Steve Seeley”
Artists: Ken Haeser & Kewbar Baal
Publisher: Dynamite
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche, Ain’t It Cool News) 

It took Clydesdale size balls to write and publish this book, so to all involved I applaud you.

Simply based off the title I gleefully tore into this book to watch a Brony Bashing. The old man in me honestly found the Brony phenomenon endearing in its inception. It was a few men that earnestly wanted to connect to the little ladies in their lives who loved My Little Pony. I was also enamored with the fact anothe 80s staple had captured the next generation (take that shit Starwberry Shortcake).

Then, like all good things, fandom found a way to cheapen this sweet outreach of a few good men to every fucking pervert who was never loved by their parents. Now we live in a world with everything from Brony Hair Braid Extensions to Brony Buttplugs. Bravo, humanity you always fail to disappointment.

MY LITTLE PHONY s not just an indictment of the Brony phenomenon though, it’s an indictment of anyone who has let fandom of anything become an all consuming affair.

To avoid copyright entanglement, while still keeping things in the realm of believability (at least in the beginning of the book), we have replaced My Little Pony with My Little Horsey. Not the most imaginative fix, but it works. Our setting is SDCC, where the new modernized version of this 80s staple is about to be premiered.

bronies2

Enjoy the eternal solitude boys(ish)

This new CG version is both revered and reviled. The naysayers are typical 40 something fangeezer who can’t let go of yesterday. On the pro side are the 2 something hipsters, who think just because you mash a bunch of old shit together you have created something new and soooooo original.

While the two sides clashed, it was clear you could take the noun Horsey and slap it on to almost any area of geekdom: Transformers, Smurfs, Jem…hell even New 52 or Marvel Now. There’s a fine line between reverence and aping, just as there is an even fine line between updating and change so monumental there is nothing left of the original.

Sadly, there’s no answer here, merely opinions. As my Father always told me, “opinions are like assholes and 99% of them stink, yours included.” As we all know though, these mere words can incite feuds both online and IRL that can last decades.

In MY LITTLE PHONY the boys take the ire of fandom straight to the worst-case scenario – Armageddon. How they get there is hilarious and I refuse to ruin it. I’ll just say, that in order to be the alpha and omega of Horsey cosplay hipster and fangeezer alike end up inadvertently making famed verse of revelations finally come to fruition. It was during these grafts and alterations the art talent in this book had their chance to shine.

I’m not sure if other Dynamite parody titles exist or are in the works. If not, I’ll write them. This is a damn good idea that when done well like MY LITTLE PHONY delvers laughs and a morality lesson none of us should ignore.

SANDMAN OVERTURE 2 REVIEW: 1 Sandman, 2 Sandman, Feldspar Sandman, Disembodied Trout Sandman

sandman overture 2 coverSANDMAN OVERTURE 2
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: JH Williams III
Publisher: Vertigo
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka  Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

All right, let’s shoot the white melting elephant in the corner first: this book was hella delayed. I’m sure the industry line will be it was on a quarterly schedule, but sorry that doesn’t satiate the ADD world of comics. If it’s a floppy…it better drop monthly.

However, if the glorious Escher intricacy doesn’t beg enough forgiveness, I think the Eisner style home Williams crafted on the first splash page will quell a bit of your fanman ire. If those two things don’t work, you don’t know how difficult art is to create, especially well thought out and paced art with a million Easter eggs of intricacy hidden throughout the book’s panel. NO ONE is dialing this in. If it takes 3 months for this uber quality, I’ll reset my expectations.

Now, for the story. First a mea culpa to Gaiman and all of you true Sandfanatics out there. The gathering of Sandmen from across the universe is merely metaphorical so wee humans can ride with this mystical being.  From Sandfauan, to Sandrobot to Sandcat, they are all the same Sandman, just in a multitude of forms. Is he talking to himself then? You betcha, sorta…but one would expect the embodiment of dreams to be a few standard deviations off center. So, all of you who caught this continuity gaffe, deserve the wettest of dreams for keeping the faith.

Basically this issue drives forward the great mystery of how a facet of dream could be negated from existence. The answer as in any ecosystem is of course a higher power. After some dandying about again in the way back past, in a lovely interlude with a homeless woman who remembers when dream was entrapped so many years ago in SANDMAN 1, we go back to the void in space where the Sandmen…man gathered last issue.

Only this time there is an alpha among them and it’s not our Sandman. Well, it is our Sandman, but the earliest incarnation, the one that guided the dreams of Gods. Next metaphysical jump and we are presented with the embodiment of Glory (and please help me here fans if I miss details or past references as I am still making my way through the first series). This very British version of Teddy Roosevelt tells of a star that has gone mad and shaken the foundations of reality out of their ever watching complacency.

Next jump, Sandman is off to meet God. Well, his Father, who I assume is God. Again, if someone knows better, please share your knowledge with the group. Or, better yet, don’t. New readers as well as those of us who have dabbled with the sincerest intent to one day go deeper, will enjoy the unveiling of abstracts come to form by Gaiman’s pragmatic insanity. The man is still able to surprise while at the same time inducing smack yourself on forehead for missing the most obvious embodiments of everything. Of course Glory would be a British stuffed shirt. Yeah, Death would these days be goth versus monk.

Gorgeous art and an amazing universe to return to (or step into for the first time). Yes, delays are troubling, but in a time when all books are destined or trade no one will remember drop dates, but everyone will remember a story so elevated Williams had to create new panel schemes simply to make SANDMAN OVERTURE palatable for our myopic views of the universe.

TABATHA 1-4 COMIC BOOK REVIEW: A F$#@ Doll By Any Other Name

Tabatha_1_largeTABATHA 1-4
Writer: Neil Gibson
Artist: Caspar Wijngaard
Publisher: TPUB
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

I “met” Neil Gibson about three or four years ago. By met, I mean Neil basically flooded my email box asking me to take a look at an anthology graphic novel he was working on called TWISTED DARK. I lost some of Neil’s emails and then I ignored a few others since my indie plate was already full. What a fool I was. TWISTED DARK was the modern evolution of the Twilight Zone concept, great stories and characters with a twist at the end. Only unlike Twilight Zone, Neil had taken the concept of less than happy ending to hyperbole – kind of like going to an Asian massage parlor and getting the chick with two prosthetic claws. Neil doesn’t deal in sunshine and flowers, he dosen’t even deal in reality where sometimes things actually do work out for the best – Neil is a shit who will doom us all and his first sequential four issue comic, TABATHA, is the epitome of his hatred for a brighter tomorrow.

TABATHA tells the tale of four twenty somethings living in Los Angeles. There’s Luke the mail carrier, his big brother and protector Fin, Fin’s girlfriend Baily and her Brother and Fin’s best friend Ty. It’s important to understand the intricate lattice of these relationships because it is the driving force of the story. While the plot consists of these four being undone by their dirty deeds, Neil needed to establish the kinship of the four to understand why each would continually enter the gaping maw of insanity for one another.

The four start the story in a bit of a Robin Hood adventure to get money to pay for Baily and Ty’s terminally ill Mother’s medical treatment. Luke basically cases empty houses while on his postal route and later that night the four swoop in. A fine and dandy plan until they one day stumble into the wrong house of an SFX maestro in the Hollywood Hills.

Luke is the first to fall once he discovers the SFX Troll, Gustav, has coveted a plastic fuck doll named Tabatha who he is trying to imbue with the life essence of real (kidnapped) women.

Sound incredible, almost ridiculous? Of course it does, and in the hands of another writer I would have walked from the premise alone. However, in knowing Gibson, I also know he has a way of making the seemingly trite rife with depth and emotion. For every ounce of twist in Gibson’s writing soul, live three greater parts of spotless and engaging character development. As each member of the gang falls, they are undone essentially by their own unique personality quirks. Luke falls because he is an asshat who goofs around on the job and does some unspeakable things to Tabatha as Gustav leeringly looked on. Fin’s Achilles heel is his natural predilection to protect Luke.  Baily and Ty have different motivators, but their love for the other two certainly don’t help in avoiding Gustav’s evil machinations.

Gustav is naturally insane, however that’s not to say he is completely crazy. After much bloodshed and a surprisingly low lack of body count, Gibson gives the appearance that for once, he might actually let his protagonists live in peace. I won’t ruin the end, but it is certainly an indictment on the general male predisposition to treat real ladies like fuck dolls and a stark warning of the old saying, be careful what you wish for.”

Wijngaard is a tougher nail for me to hammer with review insight. Some panels are splendid and glorious with detail. Others feel a little too loose, almost like he had to sacrifice some painstaking detail so the book could meet deadlines. I don’t fault Wingaard because usually Gibson’s lofty ambitions are handled by several artists like in the TWISTED DARK short stories (now up to the sick and twisted Vol.4).

I usually wish all of my favorite creators the platitude of bigger characters with bigger houses so they don’t fester in indie obscurity. I won’t give that to Gibson and it’s purely my own selfishness want to hold him back. Some guys are simply meant for indies, crafting originality instead of trying to infuse a sense of originality into tired brands and product placement tent poles. I guess  I could wish him luck in universes like Image, Dark Horse or Vertigo, but that would be it. I want more TABATHA and TWISTED DARK from Neil versus a bat emblem or a mutant massacre.

OVERRUN #1COMIC BOOK REVIEW – Bits that don’t byte

OVERRUN 1OVERRUN 1 (London Super Comic Con Edition)
Writers: Andi Ewington & Matt Woodley
Artist: Paul Green
Publisher: Could be You (weareoverrun.com)
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka – Optimous Douche, Ain’t It Cool News)

Anthropomorphizing is a solid staple for comic books. It gives writers a freedom and flexibility to exponentially increase their character head count of human intrigue beyond the bipedal. Traditionally this trick is used with animals or I guess teapots if we’re talking Disney, but what about all the geeks of the world who shun the physical and find solace in solely interfacing with the bits and bytes of this modern age.
Well, there’s Tron and the Matrix. At least that was my first thought when Ewington first slid some of OVERRUN’S artwork my way in Mid-2013. What I slowly began to realize though as I interacted with the spoiler site and finally got my hands on the first 24 pages of this what will ultimately be a 114 page opus, was that computers have grown up – along with our understanding and comfort with them.

The characters of OVERRUN morph data to our current understanding. The denizens of “the city,” which is basically yours or my computer, aren’t as nebulous as the simplistic bits and bytes that ran the OS in Tron, nor as heady as the intricate destiny engines of code that compiled the Matrix (If you understood that shit in parts II & III, drop me a line would love to pick your brain). OVERRUN’S files consist of and embody those files that we interact with daily: .xls and .doc walk the city with their suits and briefcases, .MP3 range from hipsters to hip-hop stars, SPAM files in various states of undress and hocking V1agra and the worst of the worst the infected files.

The over arching story is of course one of corruption in the literal and metaphorical senses. The CPU is as dirty as the day is long and he is ensuring lower levels of his processor – the dirty parts – are going to be wiped from his pristine version of the city.

But as we all know, sometimes those older archaic files are the ones that bring the most joy. Here is where the book imbues a ton of heart as we get a brief meet and greet with the characters live in the dirty subroutine slums of the city. They are short on currency (KBs), but their friendship sustains them (along with piling together some funny for a few drinks at the Scroll Bar. Ewington and Woodley drop quite a few other of these computer puns into the book. I’ll admit some are groan worthy in their punny design, but quite a few others are damn clever in their physical representation.

The art of OVERRUN is jaw droppingly stunning. I never heard of Paul Green, but I’m sure I will many many times in the near future. He’s hyper stylized to be sure, but that’s not a bad thing as long as an artist remembers real body poses as opposed to a cacophony of pin up art action in every panel. The sheer amount of detail put into each page must have taken Green months upon months to conceive and design.

My only real complaint with the book is in the lettering. The bubbles are a sharp neon green and the text is white. Not the best choice for the mildly color blind or the middle age. I can handle it if it was just one character, but instead it is a convention for any dialog. Perhaps in later issues, if the team is married to a color wheel bubble, each character gets one in tonality with their personality. Or…you know…white on black isn’t a bad choice either.

I could easily see OVERRUN fitting in like a snug 3.5 floppy at a company like Top Cow from an art perspective. The story isn’t sultry or horror enough unless the Big Moos brand wanted to diversify. Other contenders for pick-up would be the likes of Boom or hell even Image, since they have no theme other than great stories. For now though, copies can only be obtained at the upcoming London Super Comic Con. With OVERRUN and the wonderful 45 penned by Ewington a few years ago, I have a feeling these limited copies across the pond will become collector issues as the marks of the early years in a storied career.

THE WAKE 6 REVIEW – Fast Forward to Page 1 [SPOILERS]

The Wake 6 CoverTHE WAKE 6
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Sean Murphy
Publisher: Vertigo
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

It didn’t take a MENSA candidate to make the aquatic association of THE WAKE’s title to the shit storm that Snyder unleashed from Davey Jones’ locker, but the way in which he did it left me jaw dropped when this book took it’s hiatus a few months ago.

You all will remember when last we left THE WAKE, the aquatic brain trust had basically unleashed merman-a –geddon on the world. Not only were there thousands of razor mouthed man-guppys chasing our heroes, but they had also unleashed a skyscraper size mer-man who could devour the paltry underground base in one chomp.

Well, fuck them, they’re not in this issue. They probably died.

Act II takes us back to the very first pages of the book where we were flung 200 years into the future. Way back in the beginning there was a girl living in water world with her pet dolphin. Issue 6 is her story, and it’s a good one.

Her name is Leeward, and she lives in a world where only the highest regions of America remain above sea level. A world where these mer-men are the clear enemy, especially after they sent warm water gushing to the ice caps and melting them. Leeward lives in a world where these creatures are now hunted with a reckless abandon for consumerism and basic survival.

Now for some reason the last vestiges of our government aren’t too kind to these activities as they work to form their own plan for fishie eradication. Kudos to Snyder for restructuring the American government. The concept of regional governors is something I believe we should institute even before release the Kraken.

I would like something for you all to enjoy, so I’ll let you fall in love with Leeward and her bigger mission as your own discoveries when you read the book.

As a parting thought though, I offer you to not rush your read of the book like I did. Murphy brings his PUNK ROCK JESUS harshness to the metal barges our children’s children call cities. There’s a beauty and a sadness to this moisture laden pastoral existence and Murphy gets all the credit for bringing it alive.

ROYALS: MASTERS OF WAR 1 REVIEW – Another Reason to Hate Reality

royalscoverlogoTHE ROYALS: MASTERS OF WAR 1
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Simon Colby
Publisher: Vertigo
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

(Sung to the tune Royals by Lorde)

They walk around in stately dress
While Nazis make a mess of their country
And they know they can impress
But they stay ducked down, perhaps out of mercy

You see it’s ninety forty, the blitz is hitting London
The Windsor’s have power, but none will dare to use them
It’s not that they don’t care, they just know that the world will perish.
You see every royal bloodline is all possessed with power, that means not just the English but also the Italians.
OK, the oldest Arthur doesn’t care, but he’s an enormous chode.

So, there’s three Royals (Royals)
Henry, Arthur and Rose,
Two have special gifts, but the world will never know.
They hid their power (power)
To abate the world’s envy,
But in a time of crisis
Henry will set them free.

Thank you for indulging me, that was stuck in my head since the book dropped on my doorstep.

Williams confirms what many yanks have believed since we stuck up our finger at George back in the 1700’s – Royals in their current state are pretty much useless (Though Henry 8, did introduce the concept of Royalty being far from divine when he stuck up his middle finger at the pope – just sayin.)!

By imagining a world where Royal bloodlines possessed super powers for countless generations one can’t help but to look across the pond and wonder what’s being wrought from our British cousin’s tax dollars than placebo Rogaine and naked billiards.

Of course watching a bunch of faps in frocks fly around would be a prat move by writer. So instead of being a wanker, Williams builds a personal story around the Windsor line and how their powers skipped a generation and then skipped another…or  so the world is led to believe.

To the contrary, the WWII Windsors actually have two super powered beings capable of extraordinary feats of fancy. And again, Williams veers away from heavy exposition by book ending this issue with the youngest boy, Henry, making a death defying leap through countless Nazi’s plane like a blonde bullet.

Personally I found the crisis of conscious between the leaps just as intriguing. Rose, the only girl and an apt telepath can feel the screams of London’s people, supposedly her people, dying around her. Henry, imbued with Superman like powers is as equally aware of the suffering that they could help abate. Their brother Arthur is a chode as I mentioned lyrically earlier. He is truly the weakest and yet still the bully. When I say no one knows about the powers of Henry and Rose…NO ONE KNOWS.

I’m going to hold on why their Father, the good King kept the  kids’ powers unknown. I might only behalf right and it’s a tender moment of parental love best left described with Colby’s sorrowful visual to accompany it.

I love alternate history so ROYALS was going to get a first issue read when I saw the solicits a few months ago. However, the first issue’s excellence of an honest representation of a world that was and never was is what will bring me back for issue 2.

BATMAN #28 Review – No Awful Waffles Here

Batman 28 CoverBATMAN 28
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche -Ain’t it Cool News)

For anyone who has bitched and bemoaned the New 52, plug your piehole because your universe is back…sort of.

In a time only alluded to as “soon,” BATMAN 28 catapults us in time from last issues Zero Year escapades to a time about 5 years from now. I applaud all of DC for holding this one close to the vest, not only did I see the two major players of this issue appearing, but I also had no idea BATMAN ETERNAL was going to take place in the day after tomorrow. When I interviewed Snyder at New York Comic con ’13, he mentioned ETERNALS would focus on the side characters in the bat-universe, but didn’t once mention who those characters would be or that they would be future incarnations.

So who’s here? How about Harper Rowe for starters. Our little friend from the narrows is a bit more grown up and fighting the Gotham imposed police state tooth and nail as the character BlueBird.

While Batman shows up in this issue, he’s far from the star. He only appears after Harper is deep inside the layer of Gotham’s new kingpin of crime, Catwoman. That’s right kids the “will she, won’t she” rooftop tussles of early 52 books have resulted in a Selina scorned.

Why exacty  is Harper scratching her way into Catwoman’s layer. Apparently in the future the Narrows is a place of mass infection with a disease that makes Ebola look like a head cold. The only one with the cure for this plague is the Cat.

The surprises don’t end there though. When Selina opens the safe holding the cure, we see the one and only waifish waffle lover Stephanie Brown in a scene from a bondage flick.

/End scene

I refuse to hate on the New 52. The best way to be seen as an old codger is to simply dismiss anything new as rubbish. Have all the choices been my cup of tea? No. Is a 39 year old man DC’s sole demographic – FUCK NO! While I would never be so naïve to request perspective from a comic book audience, I will say it’s a fool’s errand to lament time, and a blond man’s folly to ignore that which you don’t agree with. With BATMAN 28 I truly believe the New 52 haters could find a home at DC again. Also, if this truly is a secret glimpse at BATMAN ETERNAL, then you might have a home moving forward. For Gen X, this is the DC we imagined as kids. Where Bruce would be a healthy Boomer greeting people at Wal-Mart by day and guiding the next generation of crime fighters at night. While Bruce is a little closer to 50 than 60 in this “soon” time, I’ll take it. Greta book and a much better teaser for BATMAN ETERNALS than past efforts. I thought for sure the thing was going to be a modernization of G.C.P.D. Now that it’s a future look, this Elseworlds boy is hella sold for the first issue. I just caution Tynion to ensure he doesn’t copy BATMAN BEYOND as he zooms Back to the Future

 

 

EARTH 2 ANNUAL 2 REVIEW – PROOF DC NEEDS TO PLUCK A FEW MORE VIBRATIONAL STRINGS

earth 2 annual 2 coverEARTH 2 ANNUAL 2
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Robson Rocha
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche. Ain’t It Cool news)

Yup, I’m back again to get in all y’alls face places about EARTH-2.  I’ll get on my alternate reality soapbox in a minute, but first the platitudes. Tom Taylor has no proven he doesn’t just get alternate realities, he simply gets what makes an amazing comic. This issue will make you feel more for Batman (yes even despite the slight view askew vibrational differences in “canon”) as a crime fighter, a man and a son than we have seen in a very long time. While the character of the new Batman is new to Earth 2 continuity, this issue quickly catapulted him to the top of my favorites. I say this after screaming “Are you fucking kidding me?” when he appeared a few issues ago. I applauded the decision to kill off the holy trinity in Earth – 2 and giving the Golden Age Justice Society new relevance post FLASHPOINT. I did not want Batman, now moving forward, I don’t want to see this book without him.

We’ve seen this alternate twist on Batman before, most recently in FLASHPOINT. Yes, it’s Thomas Wayne under the cowl. However, in this timeline, Martha did not become the Joker, and Tom’s deviances run much deeper than the pursuit of the all mighty dollar.

What we haven’t seen is Thomas this authentically demonized before. Thomas is a junkie…and he’s still using while he is Batman (get to  more on that in a sec). Personally, I’ve been waiting for a hero to arise with this much of a monkey currently on his back rather than a forgotten memory. The visible pain makes the act of contrition, like becoming Batman, much more impactful. 

One of the reasons this resonated so deeply for me is DC editorial’s courage on this book to cement the age Earth-2 and all of its residents. We are given the point black exact year when Joe Chill “kills” the Wayne’s in Crime Alley (1979). We know the exact date that Thomas met Dennis Falcone and saved his life, the exact moment he met Martha, and the first time the three of them shot up some medical student procured Laudanum (1971). We are bestowed with crystalline accuracy the moment Batman, the true Batman is born (1973), and the day he discovers that Thomas faked his death so he could begin to pay for the deadly events his selfishness put into motion (1994). This issue made me realize how just damn important time is in making a story matter. Without it we are more trapped in amber than and regurgitation of plot lines could induce. If UNWRITTEN tells us anything, fiction is as real as we are willing to make it, and we will only make it real if it has the courage to reflect the same constraints we face day-today, of which time is the greatest.

For all of the naysayers who say there are no consequences because it as an alternate reality, I say the problem is with your system of beliefs. Consequence is merely measured by your own aesthetic distance. Also, I’d like to say the word “reboot” and clarify that it’s mere existence means there is no true continuity to any of the major iconic branded superheroes living in the main book titles. This is honestly the perfect place for anyone who loves DC, but has been put off by the changes in the New 52. The dark pall that has been cast on Earth Prime is absent from this land. There is still a Great Generation beacon of optimism to this alternate earth despite the Darkseid attack that obliterated Superman, Wonder Woman and OG Batman.

And after we learn that dark version of the new Batman’s past, that optimism shines through at the end. If anything in our world right now is hunky dorey, it’s the lives of the Baby Boomers. They reaped the spoils of the last great economic boom and they are in wayyyyy better condition than their parents were in their mid sixties. Now of course our parents couldn’t be Batman for their second careers (that’s why they clog up the entrances at Wal-Mart with their cute blue vests), but Thomas can thanks to a drug that gives him the vitality of Bruce for an hour at a pop. Discuss amongst yourselves the Hourman nature of this change. Personally I think batman is much more than physical prowess so I’m OK, with a more cerebral father figure to guide Red Tornado Lois and Aquawoman back over in Earth-2 proper.

If you were on board for the concept of EARTH-2 when it was released in the New 522 Second Wave, but for whatever reason didn’t jive with Robinson’s writing, there’s a new sheriff in town. I will caution though to NOT rejoin the EARTH-2  main title right when Taylor took over a few months ago. It’s too abrupt as Taylor took the book over almost mid-page from Robinson in the middle of the arc. I just finished EARTH-20 and I can say that’s a safe place. Yes, even with the confusing statements I just made about red Tornado Lois and Aquawoman. If you’re a DC fan of old, you’ll get it quick enough.

I usually wish my favorite new creators Godspeed to loftier titles or places of power within comicdom, but I am selfishly going to hold back that adoration for Taylor. He has truly created wonderful alternate universes for DC with first INJUSTICE, and now EARTH-2. In a time when ELSEWORLDS are a forgotten memory, Taylor is my crack dealer and I will gladly buy all the wares he wishes to peddle. If he can muster the story prowess from his well spring of creativity, DC would be wise to resuscitate a few more vibrational strings along the quantum plane.

FOREVER EVIL 5 ADVANCE REVIEW – So Evil Your Pinky Won’t Leave Your Lip

forever evil 5 coverFOREVER EVIL 5
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: David Finch
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain;t It Cool News)

The slow drums of Evil we’ve been saying have taken too long to hear in the distance are now a Neil Pert, ear bleeding, arena rock solo. This issue is brimming with so much eeeevvilll, you’ll find your pinky trying to attach it self to your lower lip.

While I’ve loved the juxtaposition of rooting for the bad guys, there has been too much set-up and not enough ass kickery in this series thus far. Issue 5 rectifies all. We finally shift full focus from the Justice League doing time in Firestorm’s mind to an all out real world fight for survival.

When last we left FOREVER EVIL proper Batman and Catwoman had just ran into the Luthor League and then all of them were jumped by Deathstroke and the other sell outs to the Syndicate. Quick side note, more Luthor and Bizarro in main continuity please, comic gold watching Ego and the Bear interact. While on the other side of the subterranean world, Sinestro set his direct sites on the pussified Green Lantern, Power Ring.

I’ll save you the suspense; Sinestro takes out the anti-Hal in one of the most creative ways I have ever seen. Kudos to Johns for imagining this scene, and to Finch for rendering the bloody, stumpy, aftermath. The big mystery to be seen next is who will get stuck wearing this asshole ring until death’s sweet release.

The ultimate tension though comes in the form of “who will lead this ragtop group forward.” Batman’s arrogance by insisting he must lead the crew because killing is bad (hmmmm kay?) was charming if it wasn’t so blatantly naïve. It did set-up a notice zinger for Catwoman though. Luthor is of course in charge and his ranks swelled after Deathstroke’s team is…liquidated and in some cases liquefied.

Once ranks are settled Johns wisely takes us back to the Syndicate (a presence we needed a little more of in all the Crossover titles IMHO). These guys have transcended beyond their initial pastiche. Their own private melodrama is actually way more intriguing  than watching them simply overthrow. I would honestly read an EARTH-3 book (get writing DC or I set up a fanfic blog) if this dynamic of lies, adultery and general deceit has always been their norm.

My only complaint with this plot and action driving issue is the Malcom McDowell slayer on the last page. That’s right folks, the entity that destroyed Earth-3 is also responsible for bringing together Picard and Kirk. The Nexus is here in all of its ELO album cover glory. I hope there is something really really dark behind that pink ribbon and I don’t mean Guinan.