Writer: Scott Snyder
Reviewer: Rob Patey
Before DETECTIVE and BATMAN, this upstart writing professor from NY (which even though I’m form Jersey I have never held against him), was entrenched in horror with a little title called AMERICAN VAMPIRE. Here’s a snippet from one of my reviews of issue 3:
“I originally came for King, but I have stayed for Snyder. As much as I will always love the master of macabre, his ability to bloat a word balloon is not the best fit for a visual medium. Snyder though, I think this guy has legs. Let’s see what happens when the King training wheels are taken off.”
So there it is folks, hate Optimous if you don’t like Snyder, I gave him his golden ticket (No, I’m not this arrogant, but I also predicted in 2008 Johns was headed for editorial leadership, just sayin).
Horror with heart was Scott’s introduction to comics, and WYTCHES has brought him home. Thank God DC squashed exclusivity last year, because after reading issue one of WYTCHES Scott is about to give some gravitas to the “Hocus Pocus” idea of Salem’s daughters and this time he can actually own the friggin property thanks to the lean Image corporate structure.
Of course, points and IPs are not the concern of us regular readers, so let me say that from a story perspective: Scott is building a mystery, he strengthens the true meaning of witches before Hollywood makes it more flaccid with insipid “Secret Circle” like shows, and delivers it all through the package of human experience as a young girl realizes just how dangerous she can be.
WYTCHES will be nothing you expect; yet somehow everything you have been asking for in this mythos. I loved last season of “American Horror Story: Coven,” but I realize now how pretty and sanitary the proceedings actually were. For Snyder’s WYTCHES, the wills of the earth are power, not confidence or how may times you get banged by the Sax man.
The one staple Scott missed in this issue is his deep reverence for history, and making the time or place of the story as vibrant a character as any carbon based life forms, or perhaps he has simply made it different this time around knowing that Jock is just as formidable with pictures as Scott is with words. While we don’t get any new history for Gotham or an exploration of the century we just lived, there is a primal introduction on page one as a woman is devoured by a tree. As Jock makes us more afraid of wood than a straight guy in a revival of “Anything Goes,” I believe Scott may be scratching under new surfaces of setting and letting his well-accomplished artist do the heavy lifting.
Because after this moment we shift back to normality, with a normal family on any normal weekday, waiting for the school bus to arrive. As middle aged Dad and teenage daughter play the last wisps of games from childhood (like kill the Hippogryph), Snyder and Jock both convey the underpinning of a great horror that casts a dark pall beyond the simple separation of young womanhood blossoming before a befuddled Father who now has a young woman instead of his tomboy buddy.
We find that the dark pall was the fact this young lady, Sailor Rooks, was the one who brought the lady eating tree to life.
And there’s the mystery folks: Sailor remembers the tree and bringing to life to thwart an attacker, Mom and Dad say it was a delusion (but are most likely lying) and let us not forget the freaky bald guy who has come back from helping Wesley Crusher explore the galaxy to now fuck with the Rooks in some very primal and disgusting ways.
With Jock and Snyder, quality is expected. With Image though, we all know that longevity is a never a guarantee. Not to open the comic Kimono too wide, but Image books get one arc to prove themselves on sales numbers, if they don’t make the mark than hope you weren’t too attached to that story. Of course with this baller marquee on the cover, I believe WYTCHES will have the current staying power of SAGA with the long draw editorial is letting Snyder play. He is letting points breathe instead of spewing them out en masse. This is not a critique; it’s a compliment to see what a creator who I admire and respect can truly accomplish when untethered from continuity shackles, family friendly mandates and larger story support structure.
The question of do you like it Optimous is moot and I still refuse to answer it point blank, so please stop asking folks. I love this book, but that’s an opinion and opinions are like assholes in that they usually stink and are utterly invaluable. Make your own decision. Are you ready for an old look at a new favorite in the horror genre? Do you have room for one more book on your pull list? Do you want staying power of story and the slow doling out of story versus flashes of character moments? If yes, than get up on WYTCHES bytches.
Writer: Mark Miller
Artist: Carlos Granda
Publisher: Black Mask
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche, Ain’t It Cool News)
Dear Mark Miller,
(Not the one who wrote KICK ASS and should be running all of Fox’s comic book properties across DC and Marvel if we lived in a world where story trumped TradeMarks),
I just finished reading PIROUETTE 1, my reaction remains as steadfast and unchanging as when you first unleashed the news to us before we started taping a Spoiler Alert Podcast about 18 months ago.
Vividly I recall your droopy dog Midwestern tone seeping out, “Hey guys, I’m doing another book for Black Mask, this one is about a clown.”
My New Jersey/Philadelphia caring tone soothingly replied: “Are you special? What the sweet shit is wrong with you? You have the opportunity to work with Carlos again, and you are wasting it on a profession that is merely entertaining to brains that haven’t developed past age 4 and instills either terror or blind rage in 80% of the population after age 4? Why do you hate fame?”
I have context for these questions; in the past 8 years I have known Miller as my editor on Ain’t It Cool, my Snyder as I played his Tynion on JUNGLE BOOK, and most importantly my friend through it all he has been there to shamelessly exploit these bonds for feedback and reviews whenever he has a new book coming out. One might think he is looking for favor or bias, but to the contrary his unwavering search for truth is actually masochistic in design. That’s why he asks the one friend he knows will not pull punches, but rather donkey punch the work into a coma out of love…and shit.
Let us look at a few of these past hooves to your bald head Mark so my feelings on PIROUETTE are seen as pure and golden as Pony Boy:
7 Years Ago: MUSCLES AND FIGHTS.
This publishing house from Wisconsin has accomplished publishing a book. Mark Miller writes, and does a PhotoShop art thing that I frankly found scary. That’s it MUSCLES AND FIGHTS is a horror book. WELL DONE
4-5(ish) Years Ago
NANNY AND HANK is a much needed bite to the current defanging of the vampire genre. The idea of octogenarians finding new life, albeit undead, allowed Miller to infuse humor and heart into a “Cocoon” like revelry of rejuvenated golden years. This book would be an instant classic, if it wasn’t being churned out in the 7th layer of hell by Satan, and was given an artist who thinks humans should look exactly like Muppets.
3-4(ish) YEARS AGO
JUNGLE BOOK, Miller has successfully breathed new life into the tale of Baloo and Mogwii. Yes, the once concave chested boy is now sporting a B-Cup, but the D-Cup on the cover is merely a ruse folks. Miller and Granda skipped the cheesecake for a substantive diet of story and words.
JUNGLE BOOK 2 I could not review for ethical reasons Mark told me I should have since I was co-writing the back stories. It was nice to learn ethics.
Last Year: OCCUPY COMICS
Mark actually trusted me to review OCCUPY COMICS without letting my personal politics bleed into the review. Well, his liberal claptrap is delivered pleasingly with a fun pirate theme. The words are melodically written and the art is a nice cloudy haze. This was still a more useless movement than a “Too Fat to Live” subject being given laxatives.
So with that trip down memory lane, you should take your next pull quote with an extra ounce of pride good sir:
PIROUETTE is Miller, Granda’s and Black Masks’ first book to challenge Big 2 quality in art and form, without sacrificing the indie spirit of shuddering social commentary.
This book is not about clowns; it is about servitude of the soul with no escape. It’s not even about the circus, but more the social structures that oppress us all.
You and I are a bit of Pirouette, even though she is a fifteen-year-old girl riding through the Midwest in a time when America was starting to thrive post WWII. Miller really doesn’t define a time, but Granda does with dress, décor and little wisps of machinery and cars in the background. Honestly, you really have to look to see these details because Granda made the foreground so absolutely gorgeous. Time like reality are purposefuly and wisely left ethereal.
After the horrifying realization on page 1, that Pirouettes clown mask never comes off, we see the resilience of the human spirit to play the roles we are given. How many of us are truly what we do each day to feed our families or to simply play a part on society? She dutifully entertains patrons with antics, which were surprisingly not as annoying as I find usual clown games.
Also like us Pirouette dreams of a grander existence, why toil in the sweat of the masses when she knows she has the talent to soar above on the trapeze? Some cunty blonde Ukrainians is why. These oppressors remind her why she can not fly until she reminds them that clowns are evil creatures with a sabotage to their act that leaves neither profits or Pirouette unscathed. Who among us has not tried to usurp our oppressors at least once?
Power, struggle and the horrors of loneliness are Pirouette’s true burdens, the circus is merely a myopic mechanism in which Miller clearly finds a safe haven to expose some very raw nerves of the human experience.
For the less esoteric plot and hero’s journey, we learn that Pirouette might not be the child of the clowns who claim to own her, and that her real life might be found in Lima, Ohio. Personally I’d rather stay in a nightmare circus than ever visit Ohio again, but I am not a native son nor lover of either.
As we see American Horror Story: Freak Show about to capture TV audiences with the same exact themes of family and freaks in post-Hitler America, I can’t help but think that I am the oddball in my initial aversions to PIROUETTE. Miller captured a zeitgeist, an air of the public conscious once again to explore our darkest eternal fears through grease paint and silly fucking noses.
ROB PATEY’S FU#$TON OF FUTURES END REVIEW
Thoughts and Thoughtful Reviews on ARMAGEDDON 2014
Hey there, hi there, ho there FiftyTwoKateers, it’s September again and we all know what that means, some BIG September events, which should not to be confused with the BIG August events that are only tangentially tied to the Passover pass off from the January events that launch the year.
I kid,I kid…sorta. Event is simply a marketing term at this point that really holds the same impact on story as a little thing we once simply called arcs and continuity. Anyone who keeps asking, “where the universal synergies have gone,” are the same stubborn bores who will never drink from the grossly misnamed event troth in some futile battle to take the word back to the past.
So, just chill. This FUTURES END catch-up is not an event summation, merely a state of one arc, five years from now, but started almost forty years from now, but not before we get the exposition about a war between Earth-1 and Earth-2 that I think will be starting very soon from now as FOREVER EVIL collides with FUTURES END…the part that is now.
I was at first confused on FUTURES END’S purpose. Need proof? Watch me choke on my piss poor prognostications with this quote from my issue one review:
“The D-list gathering is, essentially, the death, dismemberment and disenchantment of every hero festering on the bottom rung of the sales charts. No one is safe, as a neophyte in consciousness Eye begins to rip the DC universe asunder. StormWatch, which I faithfully stayed with much longer than I should have, is blown to smithereens. Green Arrow gets smashed and Firestorm is such a ball of self loathing it’s amazing he can fly without crying uncontrollably. One might think I’m not a fan of this book with this description, but here’s where the schadenfreude kicks in.
WRONG. FUTURES END has been less about making these characters simple paste on the side of a wall; it’s actually making them all kinds of awesome. Grifter and his little psychotic pre-teen ball buster of a sidekick, Fifty-Sue are awesome and hilariously self-aware, and the Firestorm flake-out has actually become a rather complex little dance of power as a now bullying team of left behind Justice Leaguer’s try to keep what little power they have left in their ranks.
As the main title to this universal arc (not event), FUTURES END has been a fun exercise akin plot wise to the 90’s favorite ARMAGEDDON 2001. Its far, but not too far, peeks ahead give us a true voyeuristic look at our heroes legacy versus the romanticized history when timelines are played with too far from now. FUTURES END is also old school JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL sarcastic, with Azzarello keeping the story very grounded in today’s more self-aware comic sensibilities.
FUTURES END seems to not be fucking around with the meaning of literal. Because things are looking mighty bleak in the following FUTURES END solo stories that sit behind the glorious moving covers that when stacked sound like a fat person jogging in corduroys.
So where will our heroes be in the far…ish end of the future?
(For anyone who cares whether I like these books or not, please consider their order to be that barometer)
FUTURES END THIS WEEK 9/24/14
FUTURES END FLASH 1: Come for the amazing Brett Booth art and stay for the moral conundrum, time antics and story payoff delivered by Roberts Venditti and Van Jensen. I was a big naysayer to bringing Barry back after having spent a lifetime with Wallly, but boring personalities aside, the book has always been solid. I was almost of a mind to yell no when Wally was introduced, simply because it felt forced since Barry and Iris weren’t knocking gold winged booties. Bad Optimous, because since the Valiant boys have come in and brought forth a mysterious blue flash from the future the book continues to accelerate in amazing. Five years from now, Blue Flash reveals his true face to Wally and Iris, unfortunately its after he pastes their brother and uncle Daniel, the reverse flash. Blue bails on tomorrow as best as he can considering the speed force time fractures to show up and get pummeled by a silver speeder. Barry facing his killer self, Wally imbued with the speed force finally and an uncertain tomorrow gave this FUTURES END entry my top billing of the week and goosebumps for further issues of FLASH.
FUTURES END SUPERMAN 1: With the cat out of the bag already that Billy Batson has been taking up the Supes mantle after Sally Struthers convinced Clark Kent he would be best serves digging for water in a dying continent, I walked into this one with a fair amount of skepticism. Surprises do happen kids because Jurgens wrote the hell out of this confrontation between Lois Lane and Shazam with the hood on her big mouthed reporter lady ways jeopardizing the illusion that Superman is still in action. Weeks’ pencils are superb as the talk is perfectly counterbalanced with a distress call to fight an old foe that eventually leads to a glorious epiphany.
FUTURES END HARLEY QUINN 1: The brain child of Palmiotti and Conner has been breaking the 4th wall worse than Christopher Walken reading his cue cards in…well everything. Thankfully direct DC deprecation has been outlawed in the future and only good ole’ innuendo remains. After a raucous Castaway spoof complete with her Wilson, our favorite albino sexpot wanders into an Apocolypto Incan tribe. The cover don’t lie folks, she does run into Mr. J. How did he get hisface back? Shut your whore continuity spewing mouth and enjoy the Joe Versus the Volcano themed fun.
FUTURES END BOOSTER GOLD 1: This would have made it higher on the list if this was 1987 and I knew what the hell Booster Gold was up to right now. I read a ton of DC books, because that has always been my deep dive universe. I love Booster of yore and it was that nostalgia that brought me to imbibe his New 52 life. My sentimental tolerance is thin though, and the new JLI fell flat for me and I think readers by its immediate canceling. Anyway…somehow Booster ended up being jettisoned haphazardly across the time stream like Sam from Quantum Leap. 1800’s Gotham, 31st Century Metropolis and Kamandi end days even. Now, the real surprise is good so I won’t ruin it here, but I can’t bump this up on my pecking order. Sloppy art handoff to a cavalcade of contributors and no context of setting or moment before leaves this title low. Jurgens did fine, but when a guy who reads about 48 of the 52 titles each month goes, “huh?” Something is rotten in Denmark’s editorial department.
FUTURES END’S PAST FEW WEEKS
FUTURES END BATMAN 1: Bruce Wayne is crippled and trying to muster up some gene tech that will let him make multiple Batman’s since the Batkids seem to have delivered lowered expectations, or are in hiding like Tim Drake. An odd juxtaposition to the vehement clone hating he’s showing Ra’s over in BATMAN & ROBIN. It’s also odd considering the events of…
FUTURES END BATGIRL 1: Where Babs has actually gathered a trio of Batgirl power including old favorites like Harper Rowe and Stephanie Brown. Gail Simone’s writing simply shined in the beginning of this issue with a wedding day disaster perpetrated by a certain crazy brother that pushes Babs into full-on Bruce Wayne vengeance mode. Her first step is a very clever double agent move where she learned the tricks of bad guys before delivering a final solution. The only times I really bemoaned the books’ choice were when Babs wore the world’s worst Mexican wrestler outfit after Bane training and then the wretched after school special moment where Babs says she never took venom she simply became a roided out freak. I know, drugs are bad hmmmm, kay? But I have to believe if bulking up was the answer to thwarting crime the bat brain trust would have brought more brawn to the table a while ago.
Contemplation of good and evil, light and dark, kindness and Kardashian has fascinated our tiny brains since we first grasped at sentience. A few millennia later, John Carpenter helped shaped these concepts for my generation from the overt presentations of “Halloween” to the more subtle darkness of the soul in directorial efforts like “Starman” (a Douche favorite for a more mature E.T. experience).
If one thing impressed me the most about this first arc of ASYLUM, it can be summed up with the word authenticity. Also, please keep in mind this is one thing in a very long list of accolades that I’ll hit in a few minutes. Celebrity shilled comics are a painful experience for us reviewer types; these projects are usually contrived by some vapid twit who had a Sci-Fi brain fart after snorting their ADHD meds at a party. This then sends their agent scurrying across Hollywood and beyond to build a comic solely in effort of selling their intellectual property into other more lucrative mediums. I will never begrudge a comic making it to big leagues in movie form, but never when that is an end to means situation. ASYLUM is an honest to God comic book and you can feel John Carpenter’s creative blood surging through every panel even though Jones and Manco are at the other end of the marionette strings. ASYLUM basks in the Carpenter staples while giving the creator a new playground in which to delight and horrify his legions of fans.
Not to rob from Peter to pay Paul here, but ASYLUM isn’t Carpenter’s only recent foray into comics. To avoid too much embarrassment, there is another big comic property of Carpenter’s that rhymes with “Swig Rubble from Betty’s Vagina,” about a truck driver in a little…vagina. There wasn’t an ounce of the Carpenter voice in this book, other than the literal rip from the movie in the opening panel. Joy, mystery and a true sense of kitsch that fans of the movie so loved are simply absent and void. My point is, if you want to spend more time with Carpenter don’t be too swayed by marketing budgets and your retailer who ordered too may books. ASYLUM is the Carpenter goods in comic form, so accept no substitutes.
The story is John’s take on the battle of good and evil through the collision of dual protagonists playing the opposites of faith and fact. Even the most jaded will admit to being touched by an angel or some inexplicable miracle even if the touching ended up feeling inappropriate. And even the most faithful will admit that the path does sometimes blur. We’ve all known LA is a cesspool of evil for years, but Carpenter, King, and company, look beyond the surface evils of agents and starlets to expose the actual terror lurking in Tinseltown. Satan.
Beckett, a priest who has seemingly fallen from divinity yet is still the go-to guy for Xtreme exorcisms. Duran is a cop without faith, but simply can’t make sense of the facts before him like angel killers and a growing militia of Satan’s minions ready to nom nom on the Hollywood sign. Together these two not only look to save innocents caught between the evils of man and The Beast, but also find a way to douse some of the darkest corners of their own souls with holy water.
I know on first blush this set-up might seem played out or trite, I’ll fully admit that was my thought as well during the exposition phase of the book. Thing is though, as we get introduced to what each man will do inside the plot, we also learn who they are behind the role and here is where Jones transcends plot with actual human drama driven by dead-on dialog. We see the gray lines of morality as Beckett struggles with his defrocking and carnal wants, as we watch Duran struggle with a high pressure job, extra marital temptations and the obligations every man eventually faces when he is serving in love for others.
As the city burns, the two men discover themselves and the need for their unique duality to help shelter against the storms of destruction, which they quell temporarily, but simmer in the scenes waiting for issue 7.
Four other honorable mentions should also be extended:
The Hobo Oracle of LA is a definite keeper. His salty prognosticating offered some much needed humor.
Beckett’s Yoda, kind of glad he’s dead. While I get the ole’ wily Priest’s mission, we don’t need any Charlies for these angels.
Manco’s art, sweet and tangy Jesus is this stuff beautiful. An Alex Ross darkly who has a better grasp of fluidity.
John Carpenter and Sandy King for making this a truly personalized experience with genuine feelings of gratitude towards the creative team for their hard work. Again, a clear sign that nothing was dialed in on the part of Carpenter for a cash grab. If this series keeps rolling forward as promised, my praise and admiration will only grow.
Love horror, love epic battles, and love John Carpenter? Go love the shit out of ASYLUM.
Philadelphia PA – September 24 2014 – As students return for the fall semester with their iPads and Androids in tow, they’re noticing a very different mobile experience as they cross into the geofenced mobile safe zone now surrounding their school or university.
This location based force field offered by MaaS360 mobile protection ensures that when students want to use school resources for WiFi, App downloads and receiving lesson plans from teachers, they are doing so through the guided security of Mobile Device and Data Management.
And boy, are these kids pissed.
Twitter was rife with a flurry of putrid teen spirit as students found that within school systems, MaaS360 was now acting as a gatekeeper between twitter frittering away their days. However, once the school day was over and the security policies were lifted, #H8MDM began to trend with:
Maas360 is so stoopid, no more #minecraft in history
#H8MDM H8MaaS360 H8PARENTS FOR SELLING OUT MY PHONE
While we did not get a direct quote from MagikMaster765, his outrage against his parents is most likely indicative of the countless notices sent by schools before requesting an MDM enrollment, and the constant chiding from parents who read these notices and then tried desperately to communicate with a creature whose brain is still clearly in the very early stages of development.
Kids Outraged by Mobile Security, Educators Hopeful to Start Living Past Age 46
Mike Cumstein, IT Administrator at Dan Quayle Junior High, had this to say about the first two tweets, “Did you know I was once suspended for wearing a Pac-Man watch to school. We’re telling the kids, they simply need to focus on school apps and you know…school, while in school. Our WiFi is not here to build your library of Arina Bieber mashups.” “On the other tweet, we started preparing for MaaS360 to handle our mobile security and app/content distribution at the end of last school year. We communicated then what we were doing in emails and message boards and continued to communicate right up until the day the kids received the text-message requesting enrollment. Here’s the thing that really makes me laugh though, they all accepted without having any clue what they were saying yes to. These kids jump into apps faster than our parents jumped into fishbowls to get a set of keys after eating fondue.”
More Mobile Security Features, More Twitter H8 from Students
Mobile security on campuses, in businesses and any industry has evolved from pure mobile device management to encompass the entire mobile ecosystem. Features to protect and work on sensitive data has transcended this category to Enterprise Mobility Management with pure device controls for IT like block, lock and wipe becoming merely one facet of the bigger mobile enablement picture.
As other schools across the United States released deeper mobile controls with MaaS360, students responded with an almost righteous indignation towards violations of their rights. We asked Cumstein to provide a balanced IT perspective to separate truth from mere petulance.
@CauseImAppy 12 d
Cant chk FB in soc. MaaS360 says NO! #H8MDM
Cumstein’s Take: “Correct, MaaS360 can block apps by location with geofencing or even by time of day. Teachers noticed uploads of themselves on FB when they were in compromising positions, so we turned it off as well.”
@ClashOfCan 12 d
WTF MaaS360? Stop my camera from working? What I do to you?
Cumstein’s Take: “You need a camera for certain classes, others not so much. With MaaS360 security policies anyone can set up that kind of contextual security response.”
WUSSUP w/ this (redacted)? Teaches sendin (redacted) homework to iPhone????
Cumstein’s Take: “Oh ya, content distribution and editing. We really want this one, but our teachers aren’t there yet from a lesson plan standpoint. But with Secure Content distribution all homework can be delivered, edited and then submitted by class, groups or student. Very cool stuff. What school district was it? Is that close to here?”
While the tweets continue, it has become eminently clear that once again children are incapable of fully understanding the world or any issues beyond their myopic scope of view. Fortunately MaaS360 is in place to at least govern mobile behavior until these future leaders and ultimate harbingers of our doom develop some level of self-actualization and empathy.
“The preceding press release is fictitious(ish). Real students have tweeted hatred for MDM, and I reflected those sentiments. No one endorses or approves this post except the part of my soul that received a cathartic release from expressing the sentiments of real people in real language without CorpSpeak.”
THE MULTIVERSITY 1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Ivan Reis
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool news)
I have waited five years for MULTIVERSITY. I feel as though my dreams of what this title would be though, are a far cry from what it is in this iteration, but I hold strong promise for what it could become. It’s not that MULTIVERSITY is bad, it’s just starkly reminiscent of this:
An Ode to FINAL CRISIS 1-28-09
God bullets fired from the gun of Kirby shatter the illusions of shackling continuity for a new dawn of infinite confusion.
Darkened calculus suffocates hope; Salvation in face painting gives purpose To elementary school art teachers at last.
Horsedogs ride the night, Their battle armor under a red son,
A crimson beacon to warn the talking kitty cats That cough hair balls of justice.
Boobies and boots, A Marvel versus an El. If only they didn’t fly, Then Jello their battle would be bathed in.
The Rubik’s Cube of discord realigns the trinity And bleeds through the parallel universe lava lamp.
The death of the Bat, Resurrection by a naked aborigine.
The Monitor’s world goes white, All hail the 5th world. I think!?%
My pea size brain can comprehend concepts of math that destroys or grants life. I can also even understand and honestly truly appreciate Sci-Fi Silver Age goodies like spaceships made of frozen music powered by harmonic drives. If this was all the 5th age were, and I still had the option of 52 x 52 Elseworld story writers crafted by more grounded writers, all would be grand.
The 5th age though seems to be the final shattering of the 4th wall. Like the powers wikis and social media gave the common man’s voice on the media waves, MULTIVERSITY is saying WE, you and I, the readers are now literally part of this world beyond just our imaginations.
Why? Kurt Busiek pulled a similar trick recently within the pages of his ASTRO CITY relaunch as well. But Kurt has always played that line, and more broadly not once have his books been heralded as the salvation of an entire comic line. I find it interesting though that this is the evolution towards the definition of our next comic epoch. If you thought the Dark Age of 1986-2000 shattered the illusion of comic hero infallibility, I’ll tell you now the kimono was only open just enough to see the tip folks. MULTIVERSITY says there is no longer any veil, that we are one with fiction.
WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY???????
After reading MULTIVERSITY last night I have since: helped our APAC office build a powerpoint deck for a CIO conference in a few weeks, walked my dog, sang some “once more with feeling” with one of the neighborhood kids while they petted my dog, listened to my Father tell a fascinating story about the hunt for a beaver in their retirement community and finally banged out a review in a meeting where I shouldbe looking at % marks on the screen. I’M NOT IN THE COMIC BOOK. MY LIFE HASN’T CHANGED. LIES!!!!
It’s a cute concept in theory and I’m fine with it being a fun facet for the three year olds clamoring to read Morrison books, but this is the crux of a story that has been touted as salvation twice now. After I saw the grand and glorious multiverse map big bang out of San Diego, I honestly was waiting to see MULTIVERSITY come in and devour the New 52. However, with this clear direction of talking directly to me through the pages, I beg that my predictions never become reality. I don’t understand the shame in simply telling some cool freaking Elseworld stories where Superman is a rabbit or Aquaman has boobs.
The MULTIVERSITY plot is quite simple; this is the forming of JUSTICE LEAGUE E. The Earth 23 Baraqaman, a character named Thunder from Earth 8, a Flash here, and an Aqualady there, you have a team that’s ready to go off and fight the threat of the last Monitor (remember the days of Pre-52 when the Monitors were reborn, then died, but formed 52 worlds, earth, universes that we only saw like three of over the past five years. Sweet Judas’ nuts I just lost my train of thought). These are the story elements I find alluring. I was delighted watching President Supes drive the JLE’s Frozen Music ship to see where a small knowledge of jazz will take them. Hell I even liked Captain Carrot whose universe is all cartoon physics based, and Dino-Cop, the character I’m sure Eric Larsen will file a lawsuit over. I am even on board with the fact that each character is a comic book piece of fiction on the worlds of their fellow team members.
Given this strong foundation, given the fact Elseworld fangeezers like me will buy the 52×52 titles DC can pump out (not even counting the stories that could take place in The Bleed and other ethers of the grand cosmic map), why the sweet hell was there this need to destroy what is supposed to be escapism by drawing us back in?
MULTIVERSITY holds such promise, but this issue promised me last night I would wake up in some grand adventure beyond my imagination and instead I simply woke up to the same grand adventure I live every day. Perhaps I am not seeing the grand plan here, but I also don’t need one if the goddamn story didn’t insist it would be there.
Unless Morrison has a way of unleashing the forces of Brainiac on the world this Christmas, I am casting aside about 15% of MULTIVERSITY 1 from my brain juice because I read comics to escape the doldrums, not be told that my doldrums are going to be saved by a group of heroes we all know will never literally come.
To keep getting my dollars MULTIVERSITY, I need a lot less talking to me and much more Elseworlds entertainment.
Last October I rode around lower Manhattan in cab so packed with nerdom, jocks across the world all hated nerds and cabs for just a moment. The event was New York Comic Con, and the state of Optimous was greatly inebriated. Had I been sober I would have remembered LAST BORN writer Patrdick Meaney tooling around with us. I would have also retained an ounce of our introduction with my paltry reviewing credentials greatly overshadowed by Patrick’s documentary work on almost every influential comic creator ever, his work as part of the business end of Black Mask studios, and a whisper of a project that would throw him even deeper into this medium he so clearly adores.
I won’t forget Patrick again, because LAST BORN is one of those rare comics built from the Morrison mold of cosmic scope grounded through the lens of human experience.
In these types of experiments, that scope must be awe inspiring and the character lens intriguing. Patrick accomplishes this feat by starting on ground level before looking up. Julia is a typical nineteen sixties gal; she has dreams of going to college, which as her over bearing Aunt reminds us is ridiculous for a woman when she has the much better option of being impregnated; she has a sweet beau who wants to filleth her with child, but uppity ole’ Julia insists on being “free to follow her dreams” whatever that means; and finally she gets her wish for freedom granted by finding the cave that houses the secret well which drover her father insane in the 1940’s and whisks her away to the year 2341 where mankind stands on the cusp of extinction. You know, just typical end of the Eisenhower era girl stuff.
That was the easy part of the two issues. If you feel your brain bleeding out of your ears, move on to something more linear.
In the end days, Julia meets another inhabitant named Ford and his feral lady friend. North America is our focal point, but in this time the entire world has been devoured by a telepathic borg like species that can share thoughts and transform into any shape your mind finds most soothing. Kind of like Odo from Deep Space Nine, but way more douchey.
Issue 2 jumps ahead in time a bit where Julia and crew have settled into a nice rhythm of apocalyptic life. Instead of learning more about her new family, meaney throws in a new dynamic and with that one action separates LAST BORN from your typical Stranger in a Strange Land theme. Another time traveller arrives and he holds the secret to ending this human Armageddon, only problem is he will have to end everything.
I wasn’t surprised to really dig the story of LAST BORN, Meaney has not only read the great comics he breathed in the essence of the creators. I have to believe the instant you shake hands with Morrison if you lick your palm quickly some kind of LSD talent sweat will kick in. Seriously though, great writers read greater writers and Patrick has more than done his homework.
Eric Zawadzki keeps a very good pace with Meaney’s prose, with some very inventive panel layouts especially in issue 2. I ask that though that he keeps honing his talent on faces and hands. I know they are both a bitch, I have heard enough of my artist friends complain about them, but they really both need a bit more detail to tickle the pleasures centers of the hyper-stylized current mass market of comic consumers.
Black Mask continues to beat a slow and steady rising drumbeat in comics. No matter what your political beliefs, their OCCUPY COMIC was a gargantuan feat in simply wrangling that many creators together. No matter if you agreed or disagreed with the message of each vignette, every story was very well crafted.
With LAST BORN, Black Mask can now add humanistic Sci-Fi to their roster and I encourage them to keep branching out. Image currently holds the market on comics that will make you think, I say there’s room for another player in town.
When Tristan Roulot wrote me last week about reviewing his foreign mega-success THE WILL OF CAPTAIN CROWN BOOK 1 and giving some lip service to the ongoing Book 2 Kickstarter, I had immediate reservations.
One: I have issues with the French. My exposure was one haughty teacher for 6 years who made the country sound like a bunch of people staring at paintings all day while eating bread. The only phrases I remember are, “Robert shut up,” “Robert close your mouth,” “Please pass the butter,” and “Eat my pubes.”
Two: Kickstarters are always 50/50 on quality. Even those that meet goal are suspect between book quality, and simply a group of creators who have family and friends with deep pockets.
Three: Pirate stories leave me more drained than “blind scurvy Steve,” that guy who keeps sucking on squashes instead of oranges. It’s not that I hate pirates; I just usually hate pirate stories. It took me two readings of WATCHMEN before I finally broke down and read BLACK FREIGHTER. I felt “Pirates of the Caribbean” the ride was unending even at 5, and the movie was only redeemed by Michael Bolton and Lonely Island. There’s just something about stories on the water that I find unfulfilling without special appearances by Charo and Telly Savalas.
So why did I relent to THE WILL OF CAPTAIN CROWN?
One: I opened the book because my lovely wife reminded me that to avoid hypocrisy in my life, I had to abandon all French comic predispositions after my glowing review of SNOWPIERCER. I can abide almost any flaws, never hypocrisy.
Two: One look at Roulot’s pedigree and Henaff’s art and you’ll quickly realize these guys are going solo by choice. This is Kickstarter in its truest form, giving amazing talent a chance to shape their destiny without having to walk the plank of exorbitant publisher percentages.
Also, Roulot has done a ton of books in his native French landia and now Canada land. In fact one of the main reasons the first Kickstarter took place was so that stupid North Americans could get the book in a palatable format. The foreign books are larger and thus give the page more room to breathe, to Mike TV miniaturize the books requires a long and arduous process of panel reshuffling. Keep dreaming of world peace you dumb hippies when we can’t even agree on a common paper size for printing books.
Three: This is quite simple like no other pirate story I have ever read. Deceptive twists and turns on every page helped steer this book away from the rocky shores of pirate tropes and general stupidity we’ve become accustomed to. The pageantry of piratedom exists, without the pomp. There’s whore a’ plenty, but these bed downs have grave consequences. There’s a ship, the Astarte, but this tale is more about her passengers. Finally there’s a Captain Crown, but he’s dead before the story begins.
THE WILL OF CAPTAIN CROWN is not about the indeterminable mettle of a sea captain against gargantuan gales and octopuses. Nope, it’s a legal document…parchment…native skin, whatever they used back then to write on. It’s also a cautionary tale about reaping what you sow. Specifically, don’t knock 4 women up if you give them your real name, because twenty some odd years later you are going to have a tsunami of daddy issues aimed at your booty (both literal and figurative). Another mistake the old Captain and his bed partners make is inventing the acting of fisting with his leprosy-laden hand. This is one trope I’ll definitely concede to the creative team. If one was going to update the hook and peg leg, I can’t think of a better impediment than a hand that induces vomiting and mars future generations.
Don’t think for a second though this book is all CW and RedTube combined, because the high seas action and the great heroes quest are most certainly on deck. Henaff beautifully recreates the majesty of the late 1800’s Caribbean immediately following Ole’ Rotty Fists last yo-ho…
The Captain’s first mate, Red, is charged with rounding up the 5 heirs and then unveiling where the booty beyond the Astarte truly lies. It’s better served to let the book introduce the character’s personalities and interdependencies, because that is also the heart of CAPTAIN CROWN’S unfolding mystery. Let’s just say the Captain remained sexually active his whole life giving the kids a wiiiiidde age gap, he wasn’t racist and he would gladly bed ladies as well as street urchins. This left children who ranged from crazy to cunning and all of them with just a bit more psychological damage because of their touch of skin rot.
As we learn more about the children, we learn more about the Captain and his ultimate heist. Again, to say too much here would give away many of the graphic novel’s surprises. Just know that this team delivers engaging and beautiful exposition by casting panel constraints to the wind letting the sea awash the double page.
No one is what they truly seem in THE WILL OF CAPTAIN CROWN, but their false faces are just as interesting as their ultimate deceptions. Again, we’re talking about pirate folk here, so it’s not like angels falling from their lofty cloud, more like the worst of the world becoming wholly deplorable. If you love pirate stories this book is for you, the boats are beautiful and there is enough high sea haughtiness to remember the pageantry of these pirates versus today’s simple Somalia boat jackers. If you are adverse to pirate stories, this book is for you, because the sea only serves as a receptacle for family blood.
Book two Kickstarter is rolling now folks and almost funded, chuck a couple galleons at the boys so you don’t have to pay retail and probably Value Added Tax since the book is coming from exotic foreign lands.
I find it hard to believe it’s been 4 years since I was first contacted by a lone Eastern Europeanish immigrant named Jim Zubkavich. Traveling by steamer ship from the same piece of shit country as Balki from Perfect Strangers, I received his telegraph requesting coverage of his book SKULL KICKERS, which would be his indentured servitude golden ticket to America.
Now he’s a shining example of the American Dream and how indentured servitude is really a great piece of currency, the kavich has left the building and Jim Zub delivers another comic problem solver with WAYWARD 1.
That’s right, a comic problem solver. Anyone can write a story or lasso words around editorial edicts, but the ones worth remembering always stand at the ready to fill a void or vacuum.
Back then, with SKULL KICKERS Kavich showed us that comics could be fun as his nameless D&D characters pretty much kicked a bunch of skulls inside the story wrappers of every fantasy trope imaginable. 2010 was a bummer fucking year as the Big 2 put their current universes in neutral and took all the top talent to the board room to usher in the Meticulously Measured Metrics Age of comics. Kavich said, no silly Americans, do not be sad the beetle blues has been shot by the Lord of Foldgers, laugh at my silly dwarf man instead.
Today, Zub fixes a problem that has been screaming at comics since the first bra was burned and yet amidst that screeching there is still so little problem solving – that’s right, I’m talking about some lady protagonisting. Not only does Zub go lady, he actually goes teenage lady, and I’ll tell you that it definitely works.
Rori Lane is not only about to undergo a fantastic journey filled with comic bookey stuff, but she’s also on a journey of discovery as a stranger in a strange land that I already find equally if not more intriguing than the fantasy. Her half Irish, half Japanese decent only lasted until her parents divorce. Mom gets Rori, so Rori gets to move to Tokyo.
Zub paints the perfect balance of wonderment and fear in Rori as she navigates a land that many foreigners will never quite “get,” until they actually experience it. However, the land of the rising sun also activates something in Rori that I can only best describe as Splinter Cell vision. Rori begins to see pathways, or when put to good use, a strategic line to overcome any point A to point B obstacle.
Now, where most assholes would simply use this ability to YouTube X-Treme Parkor, Rori’s mettle is actually tested her first afternoon in town by Turtles in a half shell with big ass slobbering teeth and ironically bird flu (OK I made up the last part). Until a girl with an uncanny ability to summon felines and become cat like herself mysteriously saves Rori and then quickly abandons her. Not before getting some strange milk from a vending machine to solidify once more how strange Eastern culture is to us Western world folks.
What this review is missing is how well Zub paints these moments. Rori’s journey, the loss of her parent’s love for each other, how bat shit crazy Japan is for first timers, because he does it all in masterful and authentic detail. Steve Cummings is simply a new God of comic drawing, my jaw continued to lower to the floor page after beautiful page.
Sorry to tease WAYWARD so far ahead of release, but that’s comics folks. Retailers must order now, they believe they are people too, and so they sometimes need a little help stocking the shelves before you consumer types start navigating them. There are a deluge of titles coming from every corner of comics and Image is certainly one of the most massive #1 producers in recent memory. Out of all those so many books of genesis I’ve enjoyed, WAYWARD is one of the first that I feel is as much needed as it is entertaining.
There’s something to be said for the special warmth one receives from comics set in your hometown, even if the time period, political climate and lead character present very different topographical and sociological maps of what you know.
ADAM12, a Wizard World Philly 2014 find, is the story of man stuck in the same malaise many succumb to as we leave behind early adulthood and settle into, “ohhhh, fuck, this is life.” Surrounding that trumpeting of servitude, Longo and Suders create a most probable tomorrow for America given our absolute lack of direction and societal ambition. The US government files for bankruptcy, the Chinese now own us, and class warfare is a literal manifestation instead of simply a news bumper before commercial break.
Adam has accepted this world, but simply can’t bring himself to live in it. Many daydream during their day jobs, Adam however is daydreaming of all his past lives. Nagging girlfriend, no problem he’s in Camelot. Boring bureaucratic paper pushing at work, no worries, there was always the Garden of Eden. These visions become more frequent and more vivid as Adam learns his visions are merely memories of his last tries in creating paradise.
There are many other kitschy Sci-Fi trappings throughout the title from mystical eggs of creation (felt a little like the Ukrainian blessing of the graves from when I was a kid), killer damsels trying to unlock creation and force Adam’s cooperation in the process.
There’s a lot of fun in this book and really the Philly stuff is just icing for hometown folks, you’ll still enjoy Adam’s journey through our near tomorrow even if you can’t tell a Pats from a Ginos.
I have but two suggestions for the creators to humbly consider for their sophomore effort. Suders definitely wields a more cartoon styled pen, which gave me concern after his writing counterpart described the dark, dire and dank world he had authored. It works though in keeping the book from becoming too morose. All I ask of Nick is that he keeps his pencils tight and true. Page 1, chapter 2 if you get my drift.
For Longo, I ask that he pockets a few concepts for future endeavors. There’s a lot packed into the pages of ADAM12, and while no concept was extraneous, I know I would have just been fine and dandy with a dude about to cycle through his 12th round of existence. Let Adam recreate the Garden of Eden in the here and now on South Street, because God knows we need it.