Tag Archives: tom taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EARTH 2 #17 REVIEW – Tom Taylor Rules ALL Realities

earth 2 17 coverEARTH 2 #17

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Nicola Scott
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka – Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News) 

Let me just start with the fact I’m a fan of EARTH 2. Actually, I’ve always been a fan of all alternate realities, especially the ELSEWORLD titles that helped give us engaging stories when main continuity had entered the dark ages.

While I was initially a naysayer of the New 52 EARTH 2, basically because it was born to keep 52 titles on the shelves versus its original incarnation to provide a home for the aging Justice Society, I jumped in anyway. I was surprised to see it truly was a different world; far more advanced technologically, a world government (something that just makes sense in an age of heroes) and, most importantly, the Trinity was executed when Darkseid invaded it seems every Earth in the “5 years before.” Was it slow at times? Sure, but anytime you’re introducing a political and sociological infrastructure to new readers the action is going to take a back seat. Just look at the “Star Wars” prequels for indelible proof.

Now, the baton has been passed from Robinson to up and comer Tom Taylor. I’ve been singing Tom’s praises since I discovered him on the comic/video game tie-in INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US. I then discovered Tom did a great indie adventure book called THE DEEP, an underwater title akin to “Lost in Space”, which is now in negotiations to be made into a cartoon. On the DC side, Tom gets alternate realities. With INJUSTICE he’s told a riveting tale of a totalitarian Superman policing the world and has garnished it with clever character-appropriate dialog.

With EARTH 2 #17, Tom is thrown right into closing out Robinson’s last story arc–an odd choice when shifting writers; usually the newbie is allowed to start fresh from square one. However, Taylor picks up the attack on Steppenwolf (Darkseid’s leave-behind from the attack 5 years ago) as the World Army invades the nice little chunk of land he absconded. Tom does get two new characters to play wit,h and I’ll be honest, this was a big WTF for me. The reveal is that Superman and Batman are back. If you want to know a little bit more about these characters I highly recommend SUPERMAN/BATMAN, which chronicles an encounter with their Earth Prime counterparts in a time before the Darkseid invasion.

Well, at least we are led to believe it’s the original two, but I have my doubts. Maybe Batman is real, but as I watched Superman eye-laser Steppenwolf in half, I have serious doubts this guy is the real deal.

I hope Taylor can bring a little more notoriety to this title. It’s a well-built world that I think has festered at the feet of more easy press pushes. It’s also well done from a character standpoint. While our golden oldies have been updated for a new age, they hold many tenets of the Great Generation since their world is…well, a shitload greater and grander than ours. Finally, Nicola Scott deserves to get more eyeballs; the pictures in this title have always been grand and great where appropriate and perfectly subdued in quieter moments with the likes of Dr. Fate.

I normally don’t recommend new readers jump in mid-story like this, but if this really does signal the return of two thirds of the Trinity, I think these inception moments will resonate into the next arc and beyond.

UNWRITTEN #50 – Infusing Vertigo’s Finest

unwritten50UNWRITTEN #50

Writers: Mike Carey & Bill Willingham
Artists: Peter Gross & Mark Buckingham
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

Don’t call this is a crossover; it’s not. Even with the infusion of FABLES, at most I would say this is a spillover. But even that is too simple a description for the meta-highbrow antics of literal literature that is UNWRITTEN #50.

Here’s a real quick recap of the story thus far, which will surely obfuscate and obliterate all the wonderful layers Carey has added to this title over the years. Tis the life of a reviewer and the danger of Cliff’s Notes, but alas the PR must go on. Basically, UNWRITTEN is the story of Tom Taylor, a man who for years thought he was just the template for his father’s global best-selling book about a boy wizard. When UNWRITTEN started, I thought Carey was simply going to indict celebrity, as Tom’s whole life consisted of con appearances raping the legacy of his father for every penny it was worth. Despite being wicked smart, he never truly established his own identity. I should have known better, because quite quickly Tom Taylor’s Hermione, Lizzie Hexam, appears to remind Tom that those stories were real and Tom is in fact a real wizard, even if he can’t remember. OK, I thought, nice twist–but can this sustain a whole series? That’s when Carey introduced layer number three, the layer that makes stories real and started the race to save or thwart the literal embodiment of them, a creature named Leviathan. There’s of course more, much more to the UNWRITTEN tale, but this is the simple enough exploration to at least read this issue.

Now, why won’t I call this a crossover? Because this issue is really more of an Elseworlds for fans of FABLES. Also, I can’t remember a crossover where two creators so lovingly and expertly tackled each other’s titles in the same book. Tommy joins the FABLES universe smack dab in the middle of the Mister Dark arc. We all remember that time when desperation permeated all things FABLES and any last ditch efforts were tried. After a brief conjuration by the saltiest witches ever to grace the page, Tommy appears confused and bewildered. Geppetto, Ozma and Totenkinder, not being the warmest welcoming committee, give Tommy a bit of a baptism of fire getting him up to speed on their exiled situation mere moments before Dark’s legions mount another assault. Meanwhile, back in occupied Fabletown, Dark holds court with his “wife” by his side, the very Morticia Addams-looking Snow White. I don’t remember this moment from FABLES, nor do I remember Snow and thekids sadistically tormenting their husband and father Bigby with sadistic glee. There’s been a change to the fabric to reality; I don’t quite understand it all yet, nor do I think I’m supposed to. The book ends with the FABLES magicians transforming Tommy into his book counterpart and enlisting the aid of his stalwart companions. For them, this is just another adventure; for me the fate of two of my most cherished books hangs in the balance. Oh, we also get to see the possible resurrection of an old friend who would come blow his horn in times of trouble.

As for art, both Gross and Buckingham changed their styles to meld with one another. Gross had a little more fun with his often austere lines, and Buckingham tempered his propensity towards lushness (however, he did stick in a bit of his patented margin art). The result was a book where you could notice something happened, there was a switch, but it wasn’t jarring in the least.

This is the first time in recent memory where the Vertigo universe has had this kind of cohesion, and I have to say I’m a fan. I would never ask for shared continuity in the Vertigo universe, since its lifeblood is unfettered storytelling. However, UNWRITTEN 50 just makes sense. Tommy is forever saving stories, and lord knows the FABLES crew could have used some help during the Mister Dark days. I will say it offers a smidge of continuity confusion, but I think that’s simply because neither writer has played all of their cards just yet.

I honestly thought we were reaching the end with UNWRITTEN. Tommy learned who he was, learned the true impetus and nature of stories, and all of the bad guys appeared to have been beaten. With this FABLES infusion, though, we see yet another layer in the mind of Carey and the possibility for UNWRITTEN to written for years to come.

THE DEEP REVIEW – First Rule of Adventure, Family!

THE DEEP VOL 1HERE BE DRAGONSTHE DEEP VOL. 1 & 2: HERE BE DRAGONS & THE VANISHING ISLAND

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: James Brouwer
Publisher: Gestalt Comics
ReviewerRob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

Shamefully I didn’t know the name Tom Taylor until a month ago when I reviewed in my random “let’s give it a shot” book of the week INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US. It not only was a damn good rare expansion of a video game plot, it was also a great Elseworlds tale in a time when alternate reality is a verboten term in the halls of DC with the exception of EARTH 2. What made this book truly special though, was the authenticity of voice and relationships that Taylor naturally has for character interactions. Lois Lane fans shouldn’t be reading any other book right now to be frank – irregardless of the fact she shuffles loose her mortal coil in issue 1. In one issue Taylor perfectly embodied and decimated the devotion between comics’ first couple.

seaquest DSVBut when Taylor reached out about reviewing his underwater tale, THE DEEP, currently in option for Television…well I had a few reservations. I don’t really dig the sea. It’s murky and I can’t let go of 90s borefests like Roy Scheider’s Seaquest DSV and the Abyss. Also, it’s an “all ages book,” a term that often denotes great for kids, tolerated by parents.

Thankfully, all of my preconceptions were wrong. There is so much joy, life, family authenticity, exploration and adventure in the THE DEEP, you might wish it came with time travel shipping so you could share it with the writers of Seaquest and possibly Jonathan Brandis.

From page one of the first volume, HERE BE DRAGONS, you realize Taylor understands the core fundamentals of the comic craft – before you enter the fantastic and fanciful you must first ground the reader in what they understand. In this case it’s the simple family dynamic between over imaginative tween brother Ant, and forever annoyed teen sister, Fontaine. What made this scene of Ant trying to train his goldfish Jeffrey,and Fontaine’s disdain for the activity spectacular was that it could have taken place anywhere – a bedroom in White Plains, NY or a living room in Tokyo. It was authentic, and that’s why I cared as a human being. Why I cared as a comic collector is because this scene takes place in Sebastian’s favorite  place – unda da sea aboard Ant and Fontaine’s underwater vessel the Arronox.

Ant and Fontaine are far from alone, rounding out the Arronox crew are Dad, Will and Mom, Kaiko. I found this multicultural representation far more 21st century than the traditional waspish representations that permeate American TV. I hold no delusions, my blonde hair and blue eyes will soon be a forgotten relic in the human genome – good thing too since it’s one step away from the sunlight combustion trait of albinism.

The Nekton’s are more than Marine Biologists. While science and the search for truth sit at the core of their existence, these Aquanauts are as much scientists as Indiana Jones was, the search for relics is as equally alluring as the lab analysis.

In volume one, HERE BE DRAGONS, the Nekton’s are called to the coast of Greenland to hunt down a strange “monster’ that arises from the ocean depths every time there is a shift in the earth’s tectonic plates. Of course what they ultimately find isn’t a dragon, but rather a creature from our paleolithic past. Again though, the joy found in THE DEEP is only found partly in the ultimate answers.

Taylor is also clearly dedicated to the long-time longevity of the series. While each volume consists of a Scooby Doo like mystery for the family to unearth, there’s an even bigger story which comes to light at the end of Volume 1. A strange figure named Nereus appears, who tells young Ant that this uncovering of underwater dragons is step one in the most elusive of Nekton mysteries, the search for Atlantis.

TheDeep_TVIVolume 2, THE VANISHING ISLAND, keeps the same frantic pace for adventure and same family resolve as issue 1. The sage Nereus is now a full-fledged member of the crew (much to Fontaine’s disdain – but what doesn’t Fontaine disdain), as the family goes off to uncover the mystery of an island off the coast of Brazil that has decided to start moving. What I loved best about this and issue one is that the hero of each adventure is that the ultimate hero comes from the most unlikely of characters. I won’t spoil the mystery, but players of the recent World of Warcraft expansion Mists of Panderia will “get it” about halfway through.

I probably shouldn’t say this out loud, but I pay forward most of my comps. In part this is a selfish endeavor to ensure the medium I love continues to thrive. In cases like THE DEEP though, I consider it beyond even my propensity for cruelty to keep this cloistered in an old man’s closet as opposed to putting in front of a young imaginative mind. Story aside, THE DEEP should go right to an elementary school library for Brouwer’s art work. Kids will want to read THE DEEP on first glance, thanks to the pied piper allure of Brouwer’s pencils. This guy’s YOUNG JUSTICE like visuals will immediately resonate with the wee ones as already exhibited with his amazing work in BATMAN BEYOND. I’ll admit he’s the only one who works in this new age cartoony style remembering that emotional subtlety is far more impactful than over the top expressions like agog and angry. I offer Brouwer only one critique: while I know the depths of the ocean are supposed to be dark, please give a little more illumination to your two page spreads. There were times I was busting out a flashlight to see the detail on the full or two page spreads that closed out each chapter.

Get THE DEEP for yourself, no matter what age you are, you’ll dig it. Then, pay THE DEEP forward so we can ensure the next generation keeps churning out comics when we’ll actually have time to read them (i.e. retirement). THE DEEP Drops in the US April 2013 and if you want copies in your store grab them off DIAMOND with these intuitive codes:

FEB131046 THE DEEP GN VOL 01 HERE BE DRAGONS
FEB131047 THE DEEP GN VOL 02 VANISHING ISLAND

INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US 1 REVIEW – Elseworld, We Missed You

injustice-gods-among-us-1-coverINJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US 1

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Raapack, Miller, Gimenez
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

I received an early preview of this book, but I’ll admit now I avoided it like the plague. As soon as I read the slugline “From the creators of Mortal Kombat” I kept on keeping on to BATMAN & ROBIN ANNUAL 1.

Comics based on TV, movies, video games and any medium OTHER than comics are 99% atrocious. The 1% of good stuff is very few and far between as math dictates. The last time I actually enjoyed one was DC LEGENDS ONLINE and I’ve read a ton since. I stayed with that comic for months after I let my subscription from the game cancel out (I also got an iMAC, but I really was done with the game before that having level capped in less than 30 days). I gave that comic a chance because generally RPG games have a better chance of transcending to an engaging story and comic than fighting games.

Well, shut my mouth and call me Sally, because my prejudices almost made me miss one of the best damn DC comics to not only come out this week, but since the start of 2013. I always loved ELSEWORLDS and that’s exactly how INJUSTICE reads. Like ARMAGEDDON 2001, INJUSTICE postulates what happens to the world if SUPERMAN becomes damaged goods.

The book starts with BATMAN overlooking a crime free Gotham, an event we all would expect to make BATMAN grin wider than the Joker. His internal monologue on this page was just the start of some exceptional writing on Taylor’s part; he gets these characters to the core and puts more heart than I’ve ever seen into a comic port over. We realize BATMAN’s lament when the page closes with SS like troops marching the streets brandishing the crest of El.

Flashback to five years prior, where we see an insomniac Clark looking at a sleeping Mrs. Kent. Remember back when those two were married and Lois didn’t treat Clark like gum on the bottom of her shoe?  I do, and it was nice to venture back. Again, in a moment of great internal dialog Clark hears a second heartbeat coming from Lois. The scene that follows was simply endearing until Lois gets a call to report on a bribe hand off as it happens. It’s hard for me to quantify what I liked about the two, other than it felt real despite their drastically unreal existences.

What was thought to be a story ends up being a set-up perpetrated by the Joker, but we don’t learn this until another great characterization moment takes place between Supes and Bats. Bats immediately knows Lois is pregnant based on actual detective work looking at Superman’s demeanor, but is then bat-surprised when asked to be the Godfather. I laughed out loud at his less than emotional response.

This book is rife with so many consequences you will wish it is main continuity. I love Jimmy Olsen, which is why there was so much weight and impact when he gets a bullet through his lens straight through to his eye. Artists and writer should be proud for the impact of this scene.

Once Superman and Batman realize the Joker is behind things, you see a JUSTICE LEAGUE scramble to find out where The Joker took Lois, and how the Scarecrow who also ends up shuffling off his mortal coil fits into the scheme. It’s good, really good. So is the JUSTICE LEAGUE. Flash, Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman all use their powers to the fullest appropriateness. In just a few panels, again you realize Taylor gets the characters. DC, let’s give this guy a real book soon please, he deserves it.

I’m not going to spoil the final catalyst that pushes Superman to his dark totalitarian future. Suffice to say it’s clever, very comicy, and far more impactful than the accident that made him all Hitlery back in ARMAGEDDON 2001 when Lois died.

The art team also deserves a shout out. I’m sure part of this has to do with the game design, but these costumes are fucking awesome. Think everything that was great about the pre-52 costumes and the cool stuff from the New 52 and there you have it. Also, even though there are three artist, hand-off was seamless. I didn’t even really notice until I sat down to write the attribution for this review.

I won’t play the game because I hate fighters to the core of my being, but  I will read every last mother loving page of this series.