THE LAST WEST GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW! More uplifting than the fate of a Kennedy

the last west OGN coverTHE LAST WEST OGN
Writers: Evan Young & Lou Iovino
Artist: Novo Malgapo
Publisher: Alterna
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

For anyone who thinks the Kardashians are the First Family of the end days, I would like to introduce you to the Wests. A take on Kennedy Camelot, except the Wests turned back the course of the 20th century while the Kennedys pushed us (and their pelvises) forward.

My three regular readers know that my appetite for alternate realities and view askew history is more voracious than Cookie Monster 10 years into Type 2 Diabetes. When I met Lou Iovino at this year’s Wizard World Philadelphia, he asked me if it was the Xerox page power point slide with a thumbnail of Norman Reedus saying “He was not at this booth” that drew me in. Great lead in line, which spurred Lou and I to have a great chat. What drew me in though, was the haunting cover with atom bomb set against he falling sun. Once I knew that the THE LAST WEST was also an exploration of “what today would be like if the bomb never worked” I decided this would be my first read when I got home.

I appreciate every book that is given to me for reviews by creators, I like a few less, I covet only a fraction of that number. THE LAST WEST, I covet thee, because this book could have easily bore the Image logo (with one or two small caveats that I’ll get to). Big Kudos to Alterna for grabbing up this talented and smart property,

The Wests personify the human existence. We have never explosively propelled to our next evolution without first imploding on despair, tragedy and virtual oblivion of the species. It’s how I have always known God plays D&D, you can’t beat that kind of planetary class balancing.

While Lou and team chose to only focus on the Wests being the catalysts for Great American Fails like the Dust Bowl, WW I and the 1929 crash of the market. With Volume II already set ins tone as you’ll learn in a second I really see a world where the guys could serialize this bloodline. Pontius West, Columbus’ navigator, rat fucker West…you get the idea.

Now, where the Wests stop shaping history as we know it and start creating a Biff’s Casino temporal divergence is right when Robert Oppenheimer was ready to set the world on fire. It was in this moment the Wests said no more, sabotaged the blast, and then scuffled off into the realm of lore.

The Wests are selfish assholes. 2014 sucks. No bomb, no unlimited energy, no other real interest in looking at the nanoverse that allows us to carry porn and video games in our pockets. Instead of Google we have Graham where you have to call for a question and then wait days for an irrelevant answer (you know, like Bing). Instead of plastic cars, we still thrive on metal monstrosities. I would even guess that everyone still has copious amounts of pubes because they dress and have the same haircut as my Grandmother. Time is essentially on pause.

As for why the Wests withdrew at that moment in time is a mystery best left unraveled by Volume I. And it is a nice and tidy little mystery as one ordinary Joe navigates this strange world searching for clues that the Wests existed, while powerful puppets of the family try to keep the family’s name and apocalyptic shame a secret.

I can’t spoil the end of this book because there isn’t one, Lou and crew scadattle right at the top of Freytag’s pyramid. That’s OK, because THE LAST WEST Volume II (Apocalyptic Boogalo) is coming shortly – Kickstarter willing. And honestly, I would mark points against the book if there wasn’t another tale on the horizon. See, the book inventively counts chapters backwards starting at 10. I would think this was written by Zooey Daschanel after huffing glade if the book consisted solely of chapters 10-5.

Now, I must offer two cautions with THE LAST WEST to ensure a flawless experience when they use my Volume III ideas.

The art needs to be as bold throughout the whole title as it was on the first few pages. Through clever panel layout and then stopping time, THE LAST WEST sucks you in with A-Bomb implosion power. While I admit too many thematic panels like the atomic symbol on page one would get hokey, I would encourage Malgapo to try it one or two more times in an arc. Also, keep finding the subtle moments like when the ill fated countdown fizzled. Focal points will help excite some of the more talky moments that are necessity of alternate anythings.

The coloring needs a little more work. I get very uncomfortable around clowns and photo negatives of Al Jolsen, so please for the love of God ease up the “light.” Thomas Kincaid stores are closing for a reason and there does not need to be a comic equivalent of JJ Abrams lens flare.

I don’t think these two suggestions are big hurdles to surmount. It’s also a great compliment to a freshman effort that there are only two things to perk up. I have been much harsher on many books from more seasoned professionals with much larger budgets. THE LAST WEST deserves your time and more importantly your contemplation for what their fictional foible says about our real world circumstances.

 

 

 

WIZARD WORLD PHILADELPHIA 2014 RECAP

indie comicsPay close attention to this man’s shirt. He was selling nothing…except prophetic insight as to what will lie ahead in the realm of comics at Wizard World 2014.

It’s not a slight, merely a marker of where profitability now lies in the land of geek. The high-end talent at this years’ extravaganza inside the Philadelphia Convention Center were squarely in line with the interests’ of the masses. Dr. Who, Walking Dead, the allure of huffing in these stars’ pheromones is what enticed the city of brotherly love (and Jersey). Instead of letting the waned presence of DC, Marvel and Image booths bother me this year, I decided to revel in my own interests outside the funny books and enjoy the exuberant squeals of fans when Whoopi Goldberg, the cast from Firefly would appear around corners. Even Curtis Armstrong, Booger from Revenge of the Nerds, couldn’t walk six steps without a fan hitting his gate or stopping it completely.

I do believe both Marvel and DC should try to crush this bitch in ‘15 to prop up their incoming tsunami of serial movies. But that’s the future, in ’14 indie comics ruled and this even goes for those creators who sit or sat upon continuity high once. There were a handful of big guns, but 98% of them were more interested in passion projects and the future than what they are doing in the bigger publishing run books presently.

I also had so many WTF are the big two thinking conversations that I thought I was a Tron literally inside a message board. Many an indie publisher will be very happy in coming months at the invasion of talent looking to pillage their pages. I won’t drop the dime on any one creator; just know guys that if you could talk about this stuff amongst your circles you WILL find kindred spirits of frustration.

Comics – The Big Guns

neal adamsNeal Adams was on hand basically enjoying the just deserved spoils for his years of labor. Always willing to look up from commissions to share a story or an anecdote, he is the true pinnacle of what the golden comic years should be. His signature on material also isn’t that highly marked up. SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI was pretty close to retail. “Well, what about the creators that charge nothing Optimous?” They are rare and most are still working or talked about names.

JG JONES EMMA FROSTThis is the art of JG Jones. While I know his fame is steeped in DC and BKV I have a hard spot for Emma Frost. JG is working on something and will reveal it soon. He told me, but stole my phone and then slipped me a forget me now pill.

 

 

 

 

Jim Calafiore Jim Calafiore of X-MEN and many a’ other book fame, was on hand featuring a book he recently did with Gail Simone called LEAVING MEGAGOPOLIS. Spurred by fan outrage around the canceling of SECRET SIX, Jim and Gail decided to write a tale they wanted to tell about the safest city on earth until the heroes one day go bat shit. The part that intrigued me the most was the fact the entire story is told from the vantage point of normal folks trying to escape the city, which basically twists a one note concept into some high concept survival horror. Volume II is being talked about now.

 

 

mike s millerI’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating – you want the pre 52 DC than look no further than INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US. Don’t be faked into thinking this is some video game tie-in bullshit, this story packs punch and Mike S. Miller’s art is just as much to do with this success as Taylor’s words. Mike let slip that this book will most likely encompass the five year span that kicks off to the video game (we are in year two right now, so still plenty of time folks) and we might be seeing this book delivered weekly soon in the coming months.

 

 

Agnes GarbowskaI felt really really bad for the things I said about MY LITTLE PONY on this Ain’t It Cool – Poptards – Spoiler Alert – @Mark_L_MILLER – robpatey.com – @mattadlercomics podcast after meeting the book’s delightful artist Agnes Garbowska.

 

 

 

 

zenescope girlsNow, for all my bitching about lack of booth size presence, I will give credit to Zenescope for once again buying a sizeable footprint of space. While there is the cheesecake, this is cheese steak local company who I always give a chance before I get dismissive about some lovely lady lumps. I really really enjoyed the WONDERLAND SERIES, and I’ll admit bias here because I wrote the back-up stories, but also Mark Miller’s JUNGLE BOOK.

 

 

Ethan Van Sciver and Greg Capullo were also on hand. Ethan’s table was buzzing with ton’s of commission work and perusing so I didn’t want to halt a man making money and Greg’s line was 14 miles long. Sorry, I wait in no lines.

Comics – Small Budgets, BIG IDEAS

Again, the ¼ of the hall that was devoted to comics was comprised of 98% indie books. I didn’t cover them all; in fact I didn’t cover many this year. Frankly, for the first time I was discerning and editorialized my coverage as I was investigating.

the last west volume II see a pattern after covering this beat for the past six years, there are some books that will live and die here. Hey, you dig rolling this way and you can profit off your footprint, rock on. I simply can’t cover the same story year after year. This is a cool one and our first foray into the aforementioned indie prevalence, THE LAST WEST is an awesome premise and a quite finely polished book for rolling off presses not fueled by movie or mouse money. What if one family drove all human innovation and then said fuck you once they almost gave us the bomb? A 2014 very different than the one we know. Co-writer, Lou Iovino said Volume II is coming. Oh, for all of you upstarts looking for a best-practice Kickstarter template, feast your peepers on Lou and crew.

 

Gigio LongoADAM12 is a book set in hometown Philly, an apocalyptic Chinese run Philly where a man is seeking to reignite the Garden of the Eden, but still Philly. Written by Gigio Longo with art by a fellow IUP theater grad, Nick Suders, you can catch the first five issues of the six-issue arc now and the final chapter soonJustin .

 

 

 

TRAILER PARK OF TERROR is my one exception to greeting show staples. This redneck Tales from the Crypt has spawned a pretty well done movie and is a really really fun read with a ton of volumes for noobs to dive into. I’ll also admit a personal bias in the fact I am very good friends with one of the stars in the movie, the very talented Trish Stahl who plays Larlene.

night_of_the_80_s_undeadArtist Bill McKay describes NIGHT OF THE 80’S UNDEAD as George Romero meets John Hughes. 3 issues in with fourth on the horizon, I don’t know any child of Reagan who wouldn’t have been drawn to the cover with a zombie filled Delorean just as I was. However, it takes a super nerd to see the Justice League International homage on issue 2.

 

 

 

 

empire christine kerrickI was drawn to Christine Kerrick’s booth because it was such a serene juxtaposition to the rest of the sensory cacophony. Her comic EMPIRE with the beautifully drawn ascending bride on the cover was another strong pull. EMPIRE is a 3 issues series about a girl tragically falling in love amidst the events from the Book of Revelations.

 

 

 

 

primal paper comicsPrimal Paper Comics heralds from Norfolk Virginia and are self described as basically Image with no money. I was able to speak with Justin Cristelli about his title RED KNIGHT. This is the story of a man who was once one of the best superheroes until the day the government required a license. I also spoke with Jeff Hewitt about his book THE ENDS. This is about superheroes at the end of the world, the C and D list heroes since all the good ones have left town. What I like best about PRIMAL PAPER is they are doing this for the love of the game with the appropriate level of dedication. You need more than A book folks for a comic series, the boys at primal are well on their way with many months of material.

quirk booksQuirk Books is at the end merely because they are not quite a comic publisher. They are however firmly steeped in geek and even more awesome they are local to old city. Their books like PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND  ZOMBIES and WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S STAR WARS are awesome reads and deserve every bit of the national recognition that put them on the map. They also have a new book called THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO DATING that had one guy dressed as Blade and about as smart as Wesley Snipes afro believing he might actually touch a real woman.

The Merch

I have nothing against merch, in fact I love the world of branded items and statues. Sadly, I don’t have the square footage for cases and my freakish form means there is never a t-shirt or well…anything that can properly draw my 6’ 5” frame. This never stops my eye from wandering though. Now, despite my aversions, I am still aware and the marketer in me marveled at the utter stupidity of this year’s vendors.

cosplay girlsHere’s a tip, if you are selling something not in the realm of geekdom you still MUST have hot girls who are dressed in geek like fare. I’m talking to you foot insoles or iPhone paraphernalia. And even if you are hocking geek wares, still get some hot girls because folks like this dude, who was selling something Bluetooth related had more people in his stand than the rotund steampunk booth across the aisle. </sermon off>

 

 

 

stylinonline.com beltsStylinonline.com impressed me the most with their wide variety of wares. I hooked in by their several hundred feet of belts honoring all realms of geekdom. Dr. Who, superheroes, Sci-Fi…anything to keep pants aloft and butt cracks hidden.

Then, like any typical man, I saw stylinonline’s revealing lady ware. Since my cross-dressing has been relegated these days to Sundays and Christmas, my attention was easily drawn to these awesome robes. Be an Orange Lantern, be Robin, but most of all be comfy in these warm wraps. And yes, I felt the material. Where most merch is about as soft as cardboard, these were actually a really high thread count with a bit of down thrown in for good measure.

 

The Drive Away

Dr Who TardisIt was another great year at Wizard World Philadelphia, especially now that I have accepted the fact comics will no longer be the draw they once were. Honestly, I respecy Wizard immensely for not building false expectations. New York Comic Con has swung their percentages as well away from comics (percentage people, not raw numbers), but still keep the moniker in the title.

The world of geek is wide and vast and I will still valiantly try to get fans of geek TV shows into the comic book afterlife (talking to you bitchy chick dressed like Jane from Firefly who looked at me like I threw up on her shoes for even insinuating the continuity is moving forward at Dark Horse). Just as I was once entreated to watch an episode of Dr. Who after reviewing a comic book written by an episode author.

FABLES 141 REVIEW – The Beginning of the End!

FABLES 141 COVERFABLES 141
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Mark Buckingham
Publisher: Vertigo
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

I opened this issue with as much as dread as desire; my first time in 10 years of reading FABLES and 7 years reviewing for Ain’t It Cool I’ve said these words. I love FABLES and it’s spin-off FAIREST. Willingham’s take on our favorite fairy tale characters living in the modern world has broken so many walls of character development and the nature of literary figures permeating the zeitgeist I can’t even begin to describe what the man has done within the confines of my word count.

It’s all ending though; issue 150 will mark the end of FABLES proper with issue 141 being the alpha chapter of this omega arc (the appropriately named “Happily Ever After.”) I don’t buy for a second that the title will be reflective of everyone’s fate though, especially with the seeds of war mongering, deception and de-evolution Willingham jammed neatly but tightly into these 22 pages.

What surprised me most was that new readers could actually get something out of this arc. I don’t recommend that anyone starts now since it would be like coming in for the last two seconds of a blowjob, but if you only want money shots with no build-up you could. Willingham really does some grand explaining of Rose Red’s new Knights of the Round Table, the strife between her and sister Snow White, skullduggery from the 13th floor mages and a reintroduction of the recently resurrected, and now very feral Bigby Wolf. There is also a moment with Cinderella that has me salivating with hope for some of her FAIREST Bond like adventures to bleed back from whence they came.

To show that he’s not simply playing his end-game, Willingham resurrects a mythos from the Great War in the form of magical entities that were boxed up against their will when they told Gepetto to go pound wood. They are antsy, ornery and all have now found a home inside Rose Red. I have little doubt this is an effort to up her critical hit damage rolls for a final tussle with sister Snow before the end.

FABLES is almost impossible to review at this point outside of play-by-plays and spoilers, so this will most likely be my last words of admiration for the next 9 months. Instead I will spend the time lamenting the looming loss of Willingham’s delicious dialog, Buckingham’s marvelous margins and the end of yet another vivacious Vertigo era.

P.S. For anyone who is jonesing for more FABLES stories, there’s an app for that called the Wolf Among Us by Telltale games. It thrusts you into the life of Bigby back in the Ragan era as he cleans up the slums of Fabletown. Yes, it’s interactive so if you are tech tarded do what I did for my spastic friends. Get someone with hand eye coordination to play and then stream it to a big set with Apple TV or Chromecast so you can watch the story unfold.

DREAM POLICE #2 REVIEW: Sandman’s City Comes Alive

Dream Police 02 coverDREAM POLICE 2
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Sid Kotian
Publisher: Image / Joe’s Comics
Reviewer: @robpatey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

I don’t review enough second issues, and companies like Image truly need this sort of PR given their deluge of new titles cropping up. See, there’s this dirty little numbers game with comics, issue ones get so much PR love they sell like gangbusters, you can then watch subsequent issues drop in attention and sales quicker than Justin Bieber’s career.

In many cases this drop off is warranted, since it seems the muse du jour is to develop a tits concept that can be used as a TV or movie pitch, while letting the true intricacies of creating a long lasting serial come secondary (or even lower on the list). This is where I truly appreciate the Image sub-brands like Joe’s Comics and Skybound, it’s an extra hallmark that tells us the exec producers and/or writers are imbedded and dedicated to the comics’ medium as opposed to “get less poor” huckster one and dones.

DREAM POLICE is a title that does not deserve a drop off, and quite frankly warrants a second glance even if you found fault with the first issue. JMS’ exploration of detectives who patrol the land of dreams became far more fleshed out this issue, swapping out cute clichés about naptime, for some true world building, exploration and seeds of distress for our protagonist, Joe Thursday.

That’s right, Joe Thursday, a play on Dragnets Joe Friday. Here is one of those bugaboos purists had with the first issue. This type of word play along with when Joe was flipping through the jukebox in a diner where all of the titles were laden with the word dream really kicked up some vitriol amongst the review and reader community. Personally, if this land is a construct of where we humans go at night when our frontal lobe is on REM overdrive, I think this embodiment of the zeitgeist makes sense. So, fuck you other reviewers for not liking it, and suck on the story goodness I got out of issue 2 as reward for not being an elitist snob.

We learned in issue 1, that while this dream city might look like New York it is only a facsimile. Like other famous fabrications of real world places like Disney World, it takes a swarm of serfdom to keep the wheels in motion so the guests never lose their aesthetic distance. This issue is JMS’ chance to build his classes that consist of: our main cop characters Joe and Katie, who respond when dreams go south; the builders who meticulously craft our real-world settings and then immediately deconstruct them once we wake up (kind of like doozers without the Fraggles); the mighty morphing characters of our dreams or who play us in 3rd person dreams; and of course nightmares. There are others, but these are the big ones for now.

Also introduced in this issue is the high concept that the workers of this world were never once human, nor have they simply always “just been.” Essentially every being is “born” as a wisp and then sort of chooses its role when ready. They are functionally useless, but naïve and scamp-like enough to amuse the denizens of dream land so that they want to protect them. The mystery of this issue arises when one of these wisps is wiped out by a dreamer who can’t control his shit…literally. Junkie dreamers are dangerous, so dangerous in fact it brings out the middlemen between the dreamers and well…God.

I know it’s a lot for one issue and my play-by-play comes across as quite clinical. To balance characterization with creation, Joe Thursday is more than a simple beat cop pastiche; he carries a secret that could tear this and ultimately our word asunder. It’s the heart behind the high concept I frankly demand from a JMS title.

If you’re coming back for Kotian, you won’t be disappointed, he gets noir meets supernatural perfectly. The dans are square-jawed, the dames are delectable and the dreams are out there. If you felt wandering after issue one, this follow-up is your map. If you felt you needed more meat on the bone, then strap on your bib.

BATMAN ’66 MEETS GREEN HORNET 1 REVIEW – Boo Not Bam

batman 66 meets green hornet 1 coverBATMAN ’66 MEETS GREEN HORNET 1
Writers: Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman
Artist: Ty Templeton
Publishers: DC and Dynamite
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka – Optimous Douche, Ain’t It Cool News) 

Given my malaise towards camp and kitsch, I thought for sure I would hate the BATMAN ’66 series that inspired this crossover. Wow, was I wrong. Jeff Parker and Richard Case worked the Bam and Kapow, while they delicately inserted today’s cynical sensibilities without ever compromising the camp.

Now, given my adoration of the prior ’66 effort and my love of Kevin Smith (Jersey boys stick together), I couldn’t see where this would fall off the rails. Well, now I know exactly where this title careened into a truck full of orphans was the complete lack of reverence for the original TV series, or the recent success of the comic book. Forced, muddled and an utter exercise in who gives a shit are the watchwords of this crossover that no one asked for.

To put prejudices at bay, I find Smith to be a .750 hitter on the comic front. I loved his Daredevil and Green Arrow run (before anyone wants to get on me for GA, look at how much was carried forward from his seeds). Now, I also know what the deal is 99.99% of the time when two writers are credited on a book. Generally the greater name is charged with plotting and editorial, while the lesser name does the heavy lifting on dialog. I actually have no problem with the plot that brings Britt and Bruce together on a train carrying priceless art. I also liked (in theory) Dick Grayson going on a date. So I’m not really knocking Smith, Garman on the other hand is more directionless than a Garmin.

The opportunities to play double-entendres abound, I mean these are big fat hanging softballs over the plate. Garman, the past host of the very funny Joe Schmo show, is Stevie Wonder at the bat. Whenever there is a chance to zig, he instead zags with a deluge of dialog that is not funny, ironic, nor in tonality with the original TV show or the Parker book. I’ve met Adam West, he couldn’t have remembered this much dialog if he tried. The sentences are too long and too forced to truly be any iteration of Batman. Not once does he revel in this playground, but rather plays it very safe on the see saw like an asthmatic fat kid.

Now, a prejudice I do have is the fact I hate Green Hornet. But I’ll say that Britt and Kato are probably the most likeable and realistic characters in this book. From the time the billionaires meet on the train, to when they finally suit up and start fighting the bad guy, a man who shoots glue, I really found myself in the Hornet’s corner. That’s sad considering I’ve only half-read most Green Hornet books after some earnest initial tries, while I have about twenty-five longboxes of the Bat in my basement.

I was even less than impressed with Templeton, but that is more stylistic taste versus quality. Something about Case’s work on the original ’66 made me think of a cleaner and more detailed Mike Allred. Templeton draws some very HEAVY lines, almost to the point of distraction. We have to remember that these characters have deep rooting in the public zeitgeist, too much deviation as was the case when the heroes were in their civies, can really loose the visage you’re trying to emulate.

My editor always asks us to say something nice about a book. The Alex Ross cover RULED!!!! Would love to get a version of his ’66 Batman for my man-cave, assuming it is minus this book title, sans the Green Hornet  and adds an in her prime Julie Newmar.

ROVER RED CHARLE 6 REVIEW – Wagging Away the Wafts of WE3

Rover Red Charlie 6 coverROVER RED CHARLIE 6
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Michael Dipascale
Publisher: Avatar
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douch – Ain’t It Cool News)

I want to review this book for one reason and one reason only, to send a clear message to reviewers and abstract writing hacks: STOP COMPARING “ROVER RED CHARLIE” TO “WE3.” You know who you are, and you know full well you are leveraging a lazy comparison in pursuit of an easy zeitgeist translation and Google juice. Comparing ROVER RED CHARLIE to WE3 is as egregious a sin as comparing WATCHMEN to TINY TITANS. Sure, both have superheroes in them, but that is where the comparisons end. Likewise, while WE3 and ROVER RED CHARLIE are about the sentience of animals, that again is where the comparisons end.

What should we talk about with ROVER ED CHARLIE? How about the fact that Ennis, a man who generally relies on shock and horror to enthrall audiences (as he has with books like CROSSED), actually created an endearing and sweet tale without ever pandering or forgetting his horror roots. We should also discuss that while ROVER RED CHARLIE is about our 4-legged friends, there is as much to learn about our demons through their eyes. Finally, we should discuss how ROVER RED CHARLIE is yet another eyegasm of artistic beauty that Avatar is somehow always able to keep on schedule.

Point 1: Ennis shocked the hell out of me with this book, and not in his usual fashion. The first couple issues were as expected, a horrible plague induces a fever frenzy of horrible actions people inflict on themselves and others to basically wipe the bipedal off the map. Where these actions deviate from the baddies of CROSSED is that the crazies are mere window dressing and EVERY human falls victim to the disease. CROSSED is like a dirty WALKING DEAD. ROVER RED CHARLIE is like an R rated version of Disney’s “The Incredible Journey.” However, this is a journey of self reliance and finding new purpose outside the belly rubs of the now deceased “feeders.”

Some will take issue with the anthropomorphic tone of the title, where each animal is our perception of their ilk. Charlie is a Basset Hound with a cockney accent and the malaise people usually associate with the droopy face. Rover is a mutt with more herder breed than anything else. He’s a service dog, and as such, is most in tune with dog’s God, man. Red is my favorite of the trio because I have one running through my house. The Golden Retriever is neediest dog in the world. Their unending quest for approval and affection leads many to believe they are dim. Ennis caught the retriever voice perfectly and throughout the series proved that naïve and deriving pleasure from pleasing others are a far cry from being dumb. At the end of the day, your willing suspension of disbelief for the personalities in this now dog world will rise in direct proportion to just how “human” you believe house pets truly are.

Point 2:  Another deviation from WE3 is that humanity is somewhat redeemed in ROVER RED CHARLIE, despite the fact we tried to take out any living thing in our final moments as a species.

The trio truly lament our loss during their cross country trek to see if any of us are still alive, but what they find is that they are in fact our progeny not our slaves. Through Rover we see our ability to master the world around us. Charlie will carry forward our skepticism and sarcasm, the necessity to laugh at the absurdity of existence. Red is our reckless abandon, the caution to the wind to Charlie’s pragmatism.

They of course come across other personalities, a full of her self Collie, a dog fighting pit bull who becomes the main antagonist of the tale, yet the one you feel the most for at the end (at least I did).

In WE3 we saw the absolute horror and pain of sentience, ROVER RED CHARLIE shows us that while life is tragic, it is most certainly worth living.

Point 3: Dipascale did an amazing job in capturing America and the spark of animal sentience. Let’s be honest, outside of a breed like Golden Retrievers most animals aren’t brimming with facial expressions (and even with retrievers, they are not smiling, they are simply breathing heavy). It’s a fine line for an artist to bring house pets to life with expressive faces without making them a fucking cartoon. Dipascale straddled this line as beautifully as Ennis did with dialog bits that still reminded us the trio still had their prehistoric wolf brain.

You can take my gushing adoration for ROVER RED CHARLIE with a grain of salt because I am a dog lover and clearly Ennis is as well. However I will not lead you astray in saying that this book is a complete 180 from the message WE3 was trying to deliver. If you want an example of the darkness of man, WE3 is waiting. If you want to see the best of ourselves carried forth after our demise…well you know the rest.

AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE 1-5 REVIEW: Pops Dinner More Like It!!!!

afterlife with archie coverAFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE 1-5
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artist: Francesco Francavilla
Publisher: Archie Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche -Ain’t It Cool News)

4 years ago I interviewed Batman Exec Producer Mike Uslan. In addition to his weighty jobs with the Batman movies, Mike was scribing ARCHIE THE MARRIED LIFE.

During the course of our conversation we digressed into a discussion on the comic industry at large. At one point in the conversation we broached the subject of continuity and how all the publishing houses had grown beyond one cohesive universe. Fangeezers lament this fact constantly because of the drastic difference this presented in how we have always read comic books. But when you take a step back, Mike’s words of “different universes for different readers,” makes a lot of sense from the standpoint of broadening readership. How many people read just BATMAN BEYOND because of their love of the cartoon?

Archie has taken a similar mode in recent years, first with the MARRIED LIFE, and now with the zenith of this diversification idea in AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE. Yes, this is a zombie story, but it is a damn well crafted zombie story. In addition, despite the gruesome nature of the tale, Roberto has found a way to still keep the essence of the Riverdale gang while at the same time giving them a feeling of being utterly modern and far more adult than past encounters. They are still staples of American teenage tropes, but the authenticity of the situation and time are never hampered by a need to present an idyllic 1950’s style teenage experience.

In any good zombie story there is always a patient zero, the outbreak monkey if you will. In this instance, it’s actually Jughead’s four-legged friend Hot Dog. Another original twist, this zombie infestation is not the result of science based fiction, but rather mystical dabbling of the dark arts. Basically, after Hot Dog is creamed by a car (which we later find out was driven by Reggie Mantle), Jughead carries the pooch to Sabrina and her aunties for some mystical healing. Sadly, the only thing that can save Hot Dog is a resurrection. As we all learned from Pet Cemetery, undead animals are assholes. NEVER resurrect something that was already 99% feral to begin with, because they are guaranteed to no longer sit for treats.

I won’t do a blow-by-blow of the entire series to date, because the plot beats are secondary to the beautiful highlights of humanity Roberto delivers through his characterization. The authenticity of each moving piece is the true wonder to behold. The Archie universe never felt more alive as it prepares to shuffle loose its mortal coil.

The easiest translation is Jughead; sure he’s always had a big appetite, but never one for brains. Betty and Veronica still bicker, but the stakes are so much higher when Archie truly becomes the last man on earth.  The Blossom twins, from the rival town over, not going there…let’s just say these “flowers” are now blossoming in the “attic.” Even Mr. Lodge, whose power and influence never seemed to stretch beyond Riverdale’s idyllic hills, has gained the business acumen, connectivity and tenacity of Donald Trump. At one point he is even able to get POTUS on the horn for a distress call. Even ancillary characters, like a group of backdrop nerds, debate the virtues of horror movies with such authenticity and ribbing I felt like I was reading the TalkBacks on Ain’t It Cool.

Riverdale not only burns in AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE, it also arises from the ashes of our childhood to herald this comic universe as a serious entry into our adult lives. From art to tonality, the book never shies from its mission to be a serious piece of comic booking. Is it for kids? Hellllllll no! But is this a mature thriller that I would call in the vein of, but far better than a CW show. Hellllls yes! Look for the book with number in the coffin.