Tag Archives: Dynamite Entertainment

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.

LEGENDERRY 1 REVIEW: Green Hornet with Gears

legenderry 1 coverLEGENDERRY 1
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Sergio Davila
Publisher: Dynamite
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

FABLES has been one of my favorite stories of the past decade and Willingham one of my favorite writers. I was crestfallen in 2013 to hear that FABLES was going to end with issue one fifty and Bill’s Kickstarter, BIFROST, failed to connect the nine worlds coming up just short of its goal (you can read my interview with Bill on that here).

Then on the heels of these set-back announcements, came the whispers of Bill trading Grimm for gears and Snow White for steam with a new book called LEGENDERRY from Dynamite. I politely declined an interview opportunity with Bill because after BIFROST melted I didn’t want to jinx the guy. So, for one of the very few times in my recent comic history I had no idea what to expect when this adventure dropped last Tuesday.

My visceral response is…it’s good. Bill is twisting the Green Hornet and Kato properties into a Baz Luhrmann Moulin Rouge like frenzy. I’ve never been a huge fan of the ole’ Hornet and again without any prior knowledge I traversed most of the book without a concern for these brand trappings. Honestly, the connection didn’t click until I saw the teaser for the next issue and actually examined the cover when I sat down to write the review. I simply found myself too entranced in the mystery and this world that was, but has never been to be distracted by anything else.

We’re never given a specific time or place for LEGENDERRY, but Davila paints for us a city so grand in scope we can only guess its New York. Horse drawn carriages and Victorian garb adorn this city, but the vibe is clearly the roaring 1920’s. 90% of the book takes place in the Scarlet Club, a grand palace reminiscent of the dinner clubs where the elite would meet to rub elbows, dance and of course get sauced on the finest liquors. The main difference is there’s no persnickety prohibition in this world to inhibit the imbibing of libations. No, what brings the constables to this club, on this particular night, is a young woman being chased by a gang of mechanized thugs.

Another chief difference in this world from our own is everyone packs heat; this includes the owner of the Club Scarlet, the lovely Miss Pendragon. Ironically, her date for the evening, one publishing heir gadfly by the name of Britt Reid (yes, I should have gotten the hornet connection sooner – sue me) is sans protection and at least for this issue seemingly without any skills…outside the bedroom. I have no doubt this will be rectified in issue 2.

What really drove home the mid twentieth century vibe (when the book wasn’t laced with bodices and clockwork that is) was the choice of narration for the title. All exposition and a good chunk of the forward action is narrated by “wireless” personality Felix Avalon. This Howard Stern of the day has eyewitness accounts of the doings at the Scarlet club along with the bloody aftermath when Miss Pendragon is done protecting the premises with her sword. We like to think reality entertainment is a new phenomenon, but this is a nice reminder that our Grandmothers were just as glued to the happenings of celebrities as our wives are to the Krapdashians. Grandma simply didn’t have to watch a sex tape first.

My only “complaint” about this issue is there wasn’t a lot of steam driving the punk. Granted, I’m only a cursory fan of this geek sub-genre, but what I’ve read and been entranced with the most in the past was modern digital marvels made more massive by being analog. Show me a super computer 4,000 stories high so it can match the wits of my iPhone or an airplane that makes the Spruce Goose look like a Cessna…or…something…that would require a billion laborers to complete and make me drop my jaw in awe.

I’m sure my wish is coming, but for now I was more than content with Willingham’s ability to shift voice to emulate a more formal and eloquent time. Reading Pendragon and Reid debate the finer intricacies of martini making in the opening pages was sheer poetry in motion. Davila draws a beautiful book from clothes to the few Buck Roger’s style zap guns in the issue. Again though, I want more steam powered cowbell. I’m also going to applaud Dynamite for developing a nifty hook that actually makes me give a shit about the Green Hornet. I’ve enjoyed past dalliances with Green Hornet titles we cover on the weekly podcast, but none could hook me past that issue. LEGENDERRY has no such problems in bringing me back. Even if I come back just to piece together why the hell Legend, Dairy and LEGENDERRY are all spelled wrong.

THE LIVING CORPSE OMNIBUS V.1 REVIEW – MORE LIFE IN THIS CORPSE THAN CAROL CHANNING

living-corpse-volume-1-post-mortem-tp-ken-haeser-paperback-cover-artTHE LIVING CORPSE OMNIBUS VOL 1
Writers & Artists: Ken Haeser & Buzz Hasson
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka – Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)

The LIVING CORPSE is an utterly ridiculous deconstruction of the holistic horror spectrum; and I say this with the utmost respect and congratulations.

I know…I know…we’re all ready to decry not another (insert monster here) book! But until the final death knell of the public zeitgeist with spooky rears its head in the form of a movie starring all four horsemen of the genre apocalypse (Pauly Shore, Brendan Frasier, Lindsay Lohan and Casper Van Dien) we should find any rays of sunshine we can. It’s OK to think this way, this was my inner dialog when Haeser and Hasson bludgeoned with me with this meaty omnibus at Wizard World Philly this year. I hemmed, they hawed and we eventually came to a consensus of “at least check it out you douche!”

Well thank you for your tenacity gents, because I simply couldn’t have had a better time if all four horsemen of the entertainment apocalypse were reading the book naked to me in my mancave.

The key to THE LIVING CORPSE’S SUCCESS is that it never shys away from what we are all thinking. Our protagonist, aptly named Corpsie is just as weary of the horrors of this world as all of us are. Whether he’s fighting a Wendigo, Werewolves or even the fucking Jersey Devil (sorry I grew up in Jersey – I have issues with field trips to the bitch ass Pine Barrens and withered witch uteruses) it’s always with tongue firmly implanted in cheek – not too hard though or it will poke through.

Corpsie is able to jump across monster movie types because his curse, aside from sentience, is the ability to use graveyards as a mass transit system. From locale to locale he goes, assisting residents of New Orleans against voodoo, young lovers getting busy in the Garden State and even Frankenstein’s monster who has now become a doctor himself.

He retains his composure through sustenance, in this case brains. There’s no mindless shuffling though. He gets a steady diet of the gray matter through friends like his gal Friday, a lovely emo chick who happens to also work at a morgue and from other because…well he’s really a nice guy despite his rotting exterior.

THE LIVING CORPSE CREATORSee, along with Corpsie’s sentience comes that persnickety thing called a conscience. Also he’s able to remember his life prior to his present state. Sadly, his son now works for a branch of the FBI specifically focused on the paranormal – so he has that to contend with, but at least he knows his son is exacting vengeance for the honor of his slain mother and sister versus just being a dick.

The style of THE LIVING CORPSE’S art is squarely in the Saturday Morning cartoon vein, but I couldn’t imagine the book any other way. There’s some gruesome shit that goes down as Corpsie kills turn coat injuns, mad scientists and werewolves and anything too realistic would diminish the essential comedy elements that make this book truly different from the rest of the horror deluge drowning comic shelves each week.

If you decide to try this title, you can’t find a better way to go than this Omnibus. Sequenced from original floppy delivery, the first six issues, half issues and the annual all flow into one seamless continuity. It would have been interesting to see answers come later, but having all the information up front does not diminish the experience in the least. Plus it’s cheaper!

 

J Michael Straczynski Talks on Another Dimension with New Twilight Zone Comic Book

J. Michael StraczynskiHello true believers, non-believers and all others in between. Dynamite Entertainment recently unveiled their plans to  release a new series of TWILIGHT ZONE comics penned by none other than past show writer J. Michael Straczynski. I recently had the opportunity to popcorn a few questions off of JMS during the week of San Diego Comic Con, and while the project is still in its infancy, Joe was willing to share a few morsels about what’s to come when the floating door finally opens.

Rob Patey (RP): This isn’t your first time playing with Serling’s brainchild, how did you come about writing for the New Twilight Zone back in the 80’s? 

JMS: Before TWILIGHT ZONE, I’d primarily been an animation writer. I had no live-action TV credits. But having grown up a massive fan of the Zone I was desperate to write for them, so I wrote a spec that — despite some opposition from a few folks there, for the very reason that I was an animation writer then and there was a lot of prejudice about that — got me in to pitch some stories.  One of them hit, I got the assignment, and we shot the episode.  A couple years later, MGM and CBS decided to commission another 30 half-hour episodes to fill out the syndication package, and I was hired as story editor — later, executive story editor — by executive producer Mark Shelmerdine, head of London Films.

I loved working with Mark because he gave me absolute and total freedom to write whatever I wanted, and was willing to go toe-to-toe with studio execs who at times wanted to chip away the corners of the stories I and others were trying to tell.  To this day it remains one of the most salutary experiences of my writing career, so the chance to go back and revisit that storytelling universe is ridiculously appealing.

Rod Serling Twilight ZoneRP: You’re known most for your original creations, how do you approach writing such a venerated property versus your own ideas? 

JMS: With one’s own ideas, you do have an element of recklessness, which is sometimes a good thing.  You have the option of burning down the house if you so choose, an option that doesn’t exist when it’s someone else’s house.  But in the case of TWILIGHT ZONE, there’s not a single standing house, it’s all about telling character-based stories that, with luck and hard work, will take us somewhere we haven’t gone before.

RP: Will the comic stories be ripped straight from the original show, new stories, or somewhere in between? 

JMS: I’m doing just the initial 12 issue run, comprised of three, four-issue arcs that seem totally separate at first but then begin to merge into a much broader narrative structure that eventually turns back on itself. Thematically, it’s very much in line with the kinds of stories that the original Zone told, but obviously done from a modern perspective.  Serling’s work was about the human heart silhouetted against extraordinary circumstances, and what those circumstances ultimately reveal about who and what we are at our innermost core.  So that’s the target I’m hoping to hit with these issues.

RP: Agreed on the reflection of humanity, but another quintessential element to TZ were the “twists” (which I almost hate saying since Shamalamadingdong has now made it a dirty word). Can we expect those kind of pig noses under the surgical masks at the end of each issue or each arc? 

The-Twilight-Zone-episode-guideJMS: Much has always been made in the press about the twist or snap endings of the original Zone episodes, but only a relatively small percentage were as blatant as the example cited above. Most times they grew organically out of the main story rather than being a surprise (such as The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street), and sometimes there was no twist ending at all. The emphasis I think was more on irony than a twist per se.  (Time Enough at Last being a good example.)

So I’m not going for the surprise twist as much as the ironic turn that comments upon and builds on the momentum of the main story.

RP: How about some of the other staples like a smoking narrator or a floating mathematical equation?

JMS: I think we need to be careful in using likenesses that we may or may not have the rights to use.  Certainly this is a broader conversation that all of us involved need to have to properly use (or not use) some of those elements.

RP: Can you give us any morsels from the first year or first arc plot wise?

JMS: One story involves an older man who never got over the loss of his murdered son twenty years earlier because the assailants were never identified. His quest for closure prompts him to hire one more PI in a string of such assignments…and the investigation begins to twist time in unexpected ways. Another story involves a Wall Street style financial czar who needs to escape the consequences of his actions and discovers that the trail goes far deeper than expected.  And the final story involves a waitress who abruptly finds herself able to glimpse the future.  She may end up being the only thing standing between us and the apocalypse, if she’s willing to make the necessary sacrifices.

RP: Can you give us any waft of the connective tissue between the three lives? It can be in the form of a riddle or cryptic Haiku. Honestly, I think your readers would enjoy the challenge of cracking the answer. 

JMS: Their lives each intersect one another in either big or small ways, and part of the fun of the story (or stories) is in seeing how a small decision or action by one person can have a massive impact on someone else’s life. It’s kind of a larger metaphor for the ways in which our own everyday decisions can have huge effects on the lives of people we may never know.

RP: Did you have any set criteria for the visuals of the pieces?

JMS: Not as such, no.  With rare exceptions, however, I generally go for a more realistic look to the art, and I suspect this will be in that category.

RP: Have you seen any art yet for the books or know who you’ll be working with? 

JMS: Not yet, we basically just closed the deal so all of those elements are still in process.

joes-comics-logoRP: Since I’m bothering during comic’s annual trip to Mecca, do you have any other big announcements from SDCC this year…TEN GRAND…SIDEKICKS…JOE’S COMICS…S: E1…cure cancer… 

JMS: We mentioned at Image Expo that we’re bringing both Dream Police and Book of Lost Souls from Marvel/Icon under the Joe’s Comics umbrella, as well as doing a new six-issue mini with Bill Sienkiewicz called ALONE, all of which are slated for 2014.

There’s one other comics related announcement that will come after SDCC, which is pretty much all I can say about it at the moment.  I’ve also just signed a contract to write another movie for a major studio, but again that’s all I can say about it until there’s an official announcement.  And pending closing a few deal points it looks like there will be another TV series deal to come in under the Studio JMS banner in a month or so.

Sadly, due to all the prep work that is going to be needed to launch Sense8 (the first TV series from Studio JMS, written and produced with the Wachowskis for Netflix), it looks like I’m going to have to push filming on The Flickering Light, my feature directorial debut, to 2015.  I hate doing it, but I need to ensure that what’s in the works already is given the amount of time necessary to do them correctly.

If there’s been any one really surprising thing to come along it’s been the extent to which Studio JMS has been not just well received but encouraged and embraced by the bigger studios.  I figured it would take a year or more to get a deal for just one show; we had that almost instantly, and more offers and deals have been coming in.  It’s been just a hugely positive reception and there’s every chance that by this time next year we will be in a position not that different from Bad Robot.  I think that would be amazing.

RP: Thanks for the interview Joe and a whole lot to look forward to over the next two years.

 

DYNAMITE’S GRIMM 0 & 1 REVIEW – Not Dyn-O-Mite!!!!

GRIMM 1 ROSS COVERGRIMM 0 & 1
Writers: Marc Gaffen and Kyle McVey
Artist: Jose Malaga
Publisher: Dynamite
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

Generally it’s readily apparent that TV properties turned comics are for that rare breed of fandom that A) Still reads comics and B) loves and adores characters so much that even non-canon doings are an engaging read.

I’m a huge fan of GRIMM the TV series. When it launched the same time as “Once Upon a Time” on ABC I decried both series were ripping off Willingham’s FABLES and I would have none of either. Mrs. Douche, ever the voice reason, and staunch disbeliever of the comic medium, coerced me into giving both a shot. I dropped “Once Upon a Time” faster than you can say convoluted soap opera. GRIMM kept me though; it wasn’t a FABLES rip-off despite the spilling over of Germanic fairytales into the real world. The cop drama element of it where lead character Nick is a real cop for the Portland PD and a cop of the fantastical Wessens (pronounced Vesens) was different enough to provide sheer enjoyment for the better part of two years. First off FABLES focuses on all fictional characters and each is an immortal version of self. GRIMM takes the stance that there wasn’t just one big bad wolf or sentient rabbit, they are collectives and for the most part they simply want to live normal mundane (or mundy) lives. Secondly, it has turned into a character piece focusing not just on Nick’s dealings with the Wessens, but also all the elements of humanity like love, friendship and fear of the unknown. And sadly it’s on these points the comic simply fails.

The writers made a valiant effort, but the simple nature of the comic medium coupled with trying to be all things to all readers new and old left this is as an unsatisfying “just the tip” experience for all. My cervix is simply too deep when it comes to GRIMM as it is for most of us who have watched the series since day one. And the fact the comic is picking up from season 2’s finale, provides a very confusing experience given the current happenings on the TV show.

New readers I fear simply won’t care. Who is Nick, his Blutbad friend Monroe, his partner Hank and their Hexen Beast Captain? Why do they all know about this world and how come it’s so easy for them to fly off to Germany to hunt down demonic coins when I have to go through 12 HR requests to take my dog to the vet? It stretches lines of credibility even for comic fans. Longtime fans will understand the discovery of this world, how Hank found out about the GRIMMS, how the Captain was once believed on the side of evil and just how unique the relationship is between Nick and Monroe.

I’ll admit the inclusion of a new female GRIMM was pretty cool, and I would have appreciated it ten-fold if I hadn’t  just watched Nick get back together with his estranged girlfriend Juliette. That’s called timing folks….bad timing.

Issue Zero actually had things right, it provided a moment in time that could easily coincide with the show’s chronology. It held no consequence, but it was fun. Issue 1 simply sets up too different of a universe. Sadly issue zero was a free comic day giveaway that probably won’t make it into any of the right hands.

On art, Alex Ross’ cover is gorgeous and really captures an emotional visage of the real-life players. As for the interior art…it lives behind a spectacular cover by Alex Ross.

GRIMM isn’t a failure and I think there are corrective measures that can take place, but I’ll certainly be walking away from this first arc so I can go on enjoying the show.

PATHFINDER 2 REVIEW – Fantasy RPG Crits for 20 Damage in Move to Comics

PATHFINDER 2 REVIEWPATHFINDER 2
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Andrew Huarat
Publisher: Dynamite
Reviewer: Rob Patey
(aka – Optimous Douche)

I’m a long-time D&D dork, but sadly life has limited my days of hours-long campaigns with Bong hits and Led Zepplin in the background down to 30 minute WoW jaunts between honey-do lists and dog walking.

So, I’ll fully admit PATHFINDER the RPG passed me by. None the less, my love for orcs and crits remains steadfast and true. If I can’t get carpal tunnel rolling 20 side die, I’m grateful to still have time for comics so Dungeon Masters like Jim Zub can run me through their campaigns on page.

Zub seems forever steeped in the ghost of Tolkien, whether by design or circumstance I’m not sure, but it suits him. I’m a HUGE fan of Zub’s tongue in cheek tale of yore SKULLKICKERS, where a dwarf and  strong guy crack wise at traditional fantasy tropes – if you haven’t read it, check it ooouuuttt.

For PATHFINDER, Zub straps on his serious face to deliver a tale of rhyming goblins infected by a virus that transforms them from their usual state of just being a nuisance into marauding blood-thirsty hordes.

Of course, no threat would be complete without a band of heroes to stop them in their tracks. Again, I don’t PATHFINDER the game for dick, but I do know fantasy. Zub not only strikes the chord of class balancing from a powers perspective, but more importantly, he provides a differentiation of voice in accordance with each class. The team consists of: Valeros the drunken brash warrior; Seoni, the wise calculating sorceress; Merisiel the doe eyed elven Rogue; Ezren, the wise wizard; Harsk, the surly Dwarf guide; and last but not least, Kyra the wise, soulful,  and serene cleric.

Zub melds these personalities into perfect usefulness on and off the battlefield. Whether trading barbs in a bar or battle cries amidst bloodshed, each adds a new and distinct layer ot the tale that would be missed were they not there.

Speaking of bloodshed. Good God is Huarat a great artist. From facial expressions in the quiet moments to dismembered goblins, Huarat expertly brings the moments of PATHFINDER to glorious life in ever panel. Likewise with each background. When Valeros first meets Kyra in the middle of an open field, I could almost feel a soft summer breeze emanating from the page.

Fans of PATHFINDER are brain dead if they don’t buy this book. Aside from seeing a campaign spring to life, the back of the book is packed with maps and enough 8d stats that almost make the book encyclopedic in nature. Not a PATHFINDER player, that’s A-OK. Zub makes the story as close to other fantasy fare as possible without outright aping previous authors. In fact, I was pleased to see he has immense talent outside the immense snark of SKULLKICKERS. Parody isn’t easy, but it’s certainly easier than dipping into a well where many buckets have been before.s