I fear my review for issue 1 of FUTERS END came across much harsher than I intended. I have some grudges still for some of the new 52 character iterations and at the end of the day I need to take the same harsh pill I l jam down the throats of others who have issues with character changes I could care less about, in essence “time moves on, get over it.” But when it came to characters like GREEN ARROW and STORMWATCH my rage blinded my objectivity, for this I apologize to DC and more importantly to you the comic buying public.
Instead of my paragraphs of ranting about where characters had been, I should have focused where they are now, which unveils the intent of FUTURES END – clean deck amidst a yarn of time travel, treachery and yet another redefining of the word superhero.
I will dare say this second issue truly moved me. Building off last issues demise of a now bearded Ollie Queen, the few superheroes that still have solidarity five years from now come to pay their respects. It all comes across as a truly heartfelt endeavor as Animal Man delivers a truly beautiful eulogy for a relationship we’re just getting introduced to over in JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED (yes, this book will want you to reassess your feelings on JLU 2 also dropping this week). It was during these moments that I felt my Giffen and Jurgens of old appear from seemingly the ether. The follow-up dialog to the eulogy where Firestorm is confronted about choosing a booty call over league business was so reminiscent of the JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL of my youth it inspired me to pleasure myself to the Bangles “In Your Room.”
The source of venom aside from Firestorm’s negligence was our first introduction to Mr. Terrific five years from now. I don’t get the transformation, but he is now far more Kanye than his New 52 beginnings of Will Smith. His outing of secret identity for a better Q is store is very different from the cerebral detective who was exiled to EARTH after low sales. The JUSTICE LEAGUE has always had a hard time getting along in the New 52, but there is enough friction in the future to power Cleveland.
I hate to call this book the D-List parade, because it diminishes the quality. Even though these characters had a bitch of a time supporting their own books, mashed together they are pretty great. Throw in a high B+ lister like Batman Beyond beginning his break into Brother Eye, an inquisitive clue dropped to Lois Lane, and the shroud lessened a bit around our ultimate villain, the plot really did move despite the maudlin mentioned above.
Also, Jessus Merino drew the hell out of this, again…the funeral…the funeral.
It’s also nice to see another weekly done good like BATMAN ETERNAL. As opposed to done bad like COUNTDOWN. Personally, I don’t care if it takes 14 writers and 12 monkeys on aderal to get a book done, as long as they all mesh.
These guys mesh.
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK 23
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mikel Janin
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)
Deadlines loom at work and at Ain’t It Cool, so this is going to be a short update on Trinity War this week.
Let’s start with the last page and work our way backwards. WITHOUT a doubt the big bad nemesis manipulating Earth’s heroes and the ethereal trinity is none other than Alfred Pennyworth. Popular pundits predict this is an Earth 3 Alfred, head of the infamous Pre-52 Crime Syndicate. I can say with certainty now it’s either him or Peter Sellers struck blind of good fashion sense.
This reveal happens below a Greek ruin where the ever elusive Xanadu has been in her roller-disco…different Xanadu sorry…confined by Peter Sellers. She’s discovered by Zatanna and Constantine the only two to escape a raucous pummel fest in the subterranean layers of A.R.G.U.S.
This pummel fest between the conjoined members of JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, JUSTICE LEAGUE and JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA as everyone tries to get their hands on Pandora’s box…I mean skull. You’ll remember in the last installment, Wonder Woman was the keeper of the corrupting evil. This issue everyone gets skull fucked. We get a Black Azam when Billy get corrupted by the third eye of evil, then Aquaman wants a piece, hell even Hawkman finally does something in the New 52.
The only thing that confused me about this scene (which is a heavy brunt of the book) is why no one tried to leave once they had the box. Instead everyone fights in a 12×12 space. Ah well, who am I to judge Earth’s greatest heroes? While I don’t agree with the execution, Lemire has a lot of fun using Zatanna’s backwards speak to control the situation. “Wings of lead,” was probably my favorite spell that fell the mighty Hawkman’s advances.
Over at the House of Mystery Deadman is the one to deduce where Xanadu is being held captive and of course Constantine abuses his knowledge of magic to get a step ahead of Bats and the rest.
It’s also worth mentioning that Waller is finally confronted about her double dealing doings. How does she respond? Well, she lies through her teeth of course, solidifying her place as the most ambiguous hero in the world next to Lex Luthor (not a typo – Lex ain’t all bad if you listen to his rationale some time).
All in all another fine chapter in this tightly contained event. We all know this is buildup to the already seemingly out-of-control cover cacophony of Villains Month, but since we’re not Xanadu we can ignore the future and simply enjoy what is this week.
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
Jeff Lemire is once again Le Awesome in the first episode of his 8 part series TRILLIUM. While I’ve enjoyed his in-continuity work on books like JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, his true genius is served when working on his creator owned properties.
Also, his stories are best served by his sketchy art style. I laugh as I write this because it was that style that once made me at first shun his last series SWEET TOOTH. Honestly it wasn’t until an interview op with Lemire came to us that I bothered to read the series right after the first trade came out. All right, maybe it was also the fact I wasn’t able to accept a borderline diabetic deer boy could be interesting. I was wrong. I actually think I pissed Jeff off a little with my close to the mark guesstimates on where the series was headed, but I couldn’t help myself. Gus, the soulful harbinger of man’s doom sucked me in, and I cared so much for all the characters I was aching to know what would come next. This is a testament to Lemire’s ability to capture the human existence on page at the same time he delivers us to a world so unlike our own. Few accomplish this, focusing instead on the spectacle of something different. Lemire remembers that spectacle is only spectacular if our protagonist guide thinks so as well.
TRILLIUM is another tidy encapsulation of Lemire’s trademarks of the human condition colliding with WTF scenarios. This time he leaves behind Mother Gaia…sorta…to show us the last bastion of humanity amongst the stars. 4,000 humans remain…sorta…see, there are two series happening here. The “flip-book” nature promised in Previews is different than the past portrait to landscape shift Lemire did on SWEET TOOTH. No, TRILLIUM can be read front-to-back or back-to-front.
I started (purely by accident) with the Scientist part of the story. The year is 2797 and as I mentioned humanity is in its last breaths of existence. We are at war as we often are, except this time the enemy is not ourselves or some damn dirty Cylons. We are being chased down and eradicated by a sentient virus. The only thing to cure this virus is a plant called Trillium. Unfortunately we can’t synthesize the plant and the greatest natural source is protected by a bunch of aliens who we don’t understand. We tried to understand them and as usual we fucked it up royally. Nika our scientist is a lovely young lady trying to repair that damage with a translation program. On one of her scheduled visits with the aliens her contact is nowhere to be found so she enters the compound to find a shit ton of Trillium and an old Incan temple. That’s right, halfway across the galaxy sits one of earths or at least man’s oldest artifacts. When Nika is compelled by the aliens to climb the temple, she is in a dense jungle where she runs into The Soldier.
Flip the book…
William’s story is far more action oriented. He is a soldier suffering from a heavy case of PTSD from his time during the trench warfare of WWI. With the war behind him and the roaring twenties just getting started (I’m assuming England roared during this time as well), he’s a man looking for purpose. When at an exhibit on surprisingly enough filled with Incan artifacts, he believes he found his new mission in life. So it’s off to the jungles to look for a temple that is a verboten and dark place.
Have you made the connection yet? Of course, William’s tale ends at the same place as Nika’s, with the two staring at one another.
This is Sci-Fi at its finest, an amalgam of everything we love – time travel, space, alien races and of course the most important element of how humans process these stirring events.
Lemire has another winner on his hands if for nothing other than how all of these events will play out. The fact that I already feel something for these characters is the proverbial icing on this delicious cake. I’m already lamenting the fact this series is 1/8 over. I appreciate finite stories more than the endless characters these days, but on the same token I’m greedy and when I hold a winner in my hands I never want it to go away.
Writer: Jeff Lemire & Ray Fawkes
Artist: Renato Guedes
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
I hold no reverence for what was. I apologetically say that early Vertigo escaped my interests for bigger guns and lesser feet elsewhere. I’m just now finally imbibing the goodness that is SANDMAN. With that, I can only offer you a new look at CONSTANTINE, a view that was born of the New 52 Big Bang. However, I entreat the TalkBack Legion and my fellow reviewers to offer a fair and balanced report on how this book compares to its hell blazing ancestor.
CONSTANTINE is the exact mellowing the DC magic scene has been looking for. It has quieted the cacophony of noise that came from the “all team – all the time” approach of the magic scene since the god particle imploded back in August 11.
Now, as I said I’m reading SANDMAN right now, and as all of you V purists know, Constantine made his fair share of appearances in those pages. So I’m not a complete Hellblazer virgin, and I can say with certainty that Lemire & Fawkes’ JC is a ripe ole’ bastard on par with the Vertigo universe. Is it sanitized? Of course, don’t be stupid. But when in one issue a man can take on a new partner and then serve-up that partner as a sacrificial scapegoat by the end, I’d say we’re dealing with a definitive sociopathic distancing from traditional hero mores.
We’re only one issue in, but CONSTANTINE is the anti-hero infusion DC has needed since God sneezed after FLASHPOINT. I also see parody brewing with this Death of the Partner story, given the recent hubbub about Robin. Intentional or not, I like the idea of letting CONSTANTINE flippantly wipe his arse with golden calves and other current events.
The reason CONSTANTINE serves up his young magical protege is simple – power. CONSTANTINE is on the hunt for a compass that can divine the location of any magical artifact one’s heart desires. Our sacrificial lamb, Chris, is consumed with magic to the point it controls him versus him controlling it. This is a bad combination on a good day, a fatal combination when the Cult of the Cold Flame is also on the trail for the pieces of the mystical compass.
The Cult of the Cold Flame is comprised of such old universe magical favorites like Zatara and Mister E. to a name a few. Is Zatara alive in the New 52? Hardly, and as you’ll learn with other dead characters like Sargon the Sorcerer, their more comely offspring have taken over where the parents left off.
When cornered, CONSTANTINE makes a hasty exit to flee on to issue 2 leaving Chris bound by Lady Sargon’s magical ties. Some may say this is not very heroic, but personally I think it makes for a richer character when they understand the grays of the world and not just the black and white. Also, Chris was making the hunt for the compass pieces just too damn easy, it would be nice to see CONSTANTINE perform some mystical sleuthing work in the future.
I’ve loved DC attempts at magic to date, but as we’ve sen by sales’ numbers the rest of the world does not agree with me. I’m pretty sure both JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK and SWORD OF SORCERY have been toe tagged at this point, which would mean a completely dry mystical well without CONSTANTINE to satiate.
Dry, cavalier, lewd and flip are what I expect from CONSTANTINE, Lemire and Fawkes more than delivered on this character experience. Wild, outrageous and divining the mystical from the mundane are what I expect from a book about magic and again the boys are up to task. Gorgeous locales, and sensible representations so our small minds can understand magic are what I expect from an artist dealing with magic and Guedes does not ever disappoint.
They say the third time is the charm, so let’s hope this holds true for the less than charmed world of DC magic to date. They have a strong winner with CONSTANTINE and my advice is to let him have some breathing room to build this universe unfettered from story lines that don’t need him yet. Please integrate him into the DCU, but do not yet make him integral.
Writer & Artist: Jeff Lemire
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
Just finished reading @JeffLemire’s SWEET TOOTH – Prophetic, Poignant, Beautiful Saturday, January 5, 2013 via Twitter
The first thing you learn in corporate communications is that the simplest messages are often the best. I’m glad for my gag order from DC, because to discuss a book before the embargo date I must use the simplest of phrases for my adoration to avoid spoilers. My generic Tweet perfectly summarizes the entire SWEET TOOTH series (all right maybe “prophetic” had to wait until this issue).
I will spoil a great deal in this review; you will know the exact secrets and mysteries about Gus, the eponymous SWEET TOOTH. How the plague was created, what it took to uncover the mystery of the animal/human hybrids that appeared with the plague, the final fate of Gus’ savior Jepperd, and last but certainly not least, the future of Gus and all life on earth. At no time though should you think you know SWEET TOOTH, simply because you know the final outcome. SWEET TOOTH is an experience, not a destination.
I‘m sad the journey is over, but elated by the fact more and more writers are realizing endings are essential to an impactful story. I write this review a few hours after learning one of my dearest friends took his life last night. Sadly, my appreciation for him today is a thousand fold over what it was yesterday. But that’s the tragic irony of life; we only truly appreciate things when they have completely slipped from our grasp. SWEET TOOTH is finite, but the memory and detail of each precious page will live infinitely longer than even the most grandiose of storylines in the ever eternal spandex set.
You could get everything you need to know about SWEET TOOTH from this final issue. I wouldn’t recommend it, but you can. I honestly haven’t seen this expertise in concise plot consolidation since the opening pages of ALL STAR SUPERMAN. Even though this story starts many years ahead from where we left off in issue 39, introducing us to the sons of Gus, Lemire masterfully ties the two time periods together to whisk us back to the small cabin in the woods where we first learned of the plague, met the literally doe eyed and antlered Gus, and his stalwart protector Jepperd.
Seemingly as quickly as the book progressed over the past four years of its existence, Lemire brings us to the now, where we meet a grown Gus, the monosyllabic Beaver-Boy (now man) Bobby, and Gus’ two sons, one of which foreshadows Gus’ life mate with his piggy little nose. When the group is attacked by a band of normal looking humans, Lemire leads us to believe that the Hybrids are still on the run even so many years later.
But in a twist of irony…fate…whatever you want to call it, we learn that humanity’s time on earth is truly over, all that’s left are the last few elderly who were born before, or survived the plague. Lemire’s elude to the hybrids being the next dominant sentient species on earth has come to full fruition. As we discovered a few issues ago though, deep in the bowls of the science station in Alaska where Gus was “born,” this isn’t the first time hybrids have roamed the land, nor will they be the last. Yet this time they have knowledge of past society’s mistakes and can now rectify them.
Step one in this correction is shunning all technology. Again, bringing the series full-circle we end up back in the woods where Gus’ once lone cabin is now a thriving city that’s more akin to an Ewok village than an urban blight. Here stands the new Garden of Eden and the parallel of this biblical beginning is played to the fullest extent by Lemire without ever being heavy handed. The only human amongst them is the once quasi prophetic Dr. Singh who finally accepted few things are divine. He is now the healer to the first society. However, another human still fondly remembered is Jepperd. Each year his life and untimely death are honored by the inhabitants of this new society in a hybrid festival akin to Christmas meeting Thanksgiving, or as shopping malls call it – October.
All is not, peace, love and American Indian principles though. There are factions of the hybrid community who find Gus’ pacifist ways and empathy towards the remaining humans unsettling and we learn in a heart breaking moment that their leader is Jepperd’s son, Buddy.
I’m not going to say how this conflict is resolved because ultimately it doesn’t matter. This is not the story of a future society. This was the story of a little boy who looked like a deer, but had more humanity than the race he was sent to replace. This issue was about his days as a young man, a Father, a wise elder and lastly and ever so endearingly a friend.
Years ago I was ready to shun SWEET TOOTH. The name seemed ludicrous, the descriptions about a deer-boy from my fellow reviewers never hit the mark on what the story was truly about, and honestly I didn’t know anyone whose opinion I trusted who was reading the book. In a fortuitous turn of events, we were given an interview opportunity with Mr. Lemire and I was the only guy available in the Ain’t It Cool News @$$hole clubhouse to get the job done. Sometimes happenstance is a much better guide in life than our conscious decisions. If I followed my gut I would have missed one of the most emotionally impactful series…make that stories…ever.
FRANKENSTEIN AGENT OF SHADE 0
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka – Optimous Douche, Ain’t It Cool news)
FRANKENSTEIN and his parent organization SHADE have been two of my favorite entities in the New 52. For the past twelve issues Lemire and Ponticelli have crafted a book where the plots are forged in the fiery pits of Mount Weird, and placed characters in the epicenter with souls that are a million times more beautiful than their hellish visages. Most people think that Morrison’s SEVEN SOLDIERS Frank could never be emulated. To that I say poppycock, FRANKENSTEIN is just as imaginative and gut wrenching in-continuity.
Before we get into the prequel I know this book isn’t exactly setting sales records, so let me get you acclimated. This is especially important for those poor poor souls that never read SEVEN SOLDIERS. This isn’t the FRANKENSTEIN we all know from the thousand other sources we have loved or loathed over the years depending on your proclivity for horror. Personally, I hate horror movies, abhor them. So I was very leery to pick up FRANK even during SEVEN SOLDIERS, but I did; instead of being subjected to guttural utterances and aversions to fire though, I was treated to a purveyor of justice. FRANKENSTEIN in the DC universe is a creature born of death, but has the utmost respect for life and all of the things that encompass the experience – beauty, art and all intangibles of the human soul.
SHADE, the organization that employs FRANK, MRS. FRANK and a host of other weirdly HELLBOYish type characters is a character in and of itself. If you think STORMWATCH is the only invisible overlord in the DC universe think again. Father Time, the immortal body switcher that runs SHADE, had Ray Palmer shrink SHADE HQ down to a micron that contains a cosmos of weirdness as it travels the world watching the WATCHMEN and other nefarious deeds across all dimensions and time. Golem (not Gollum) like characters are the Oompa Loompas of SHADE, and that’s just one of the surprises that reveal each issue about this clandestine overseer.
OK, enough about what was. How does this 0 entry measure up? In short, perfect.
It’s a perfect jumping on point for new readers as we go directly back to the exact day of Frank’s creation.
Kindt serves as a perfect replacement for Lemire; keeping the humor, heart and horror that has made this such an amazing series to date.
Ponticelli continues the gritty goodness he’s delivered since issue 1. He also seems to revel in an extra level of glee this issue crafting Dr. Frankenstein’s lab complete with half dissected animal and human cadavers and a life engine that feeds on souls. I’ve heard people say his art is ugly. I say your face is ugly, yet the world still tolerates you. It’s called juxtaposition morons, look it up.
Pacing was spectacular, spending the right amount of time in the house of Frankenstein and then continuing the hunt of Father chasing son across time until Frank ultimately stumbles into his adoptive Father who is usually a Mother, Father Time.
Seriously, this is one of the true gems in the DC Universe. FRANKENSTEIN is wholly different from any other title, but packed with enough Easter Eggs and cleverly placed continuity drops to make it feel one with the complete DC tapestry. Please buy this book, the numbers indicate this book is headed for the dead zone and that would be an Optimous Shame. My only consolation is that if the book does get wheeled down to the morgue, at least Liefeld won’t be doing the pushing during its gasping last breaths.