Tag Archives: art scott

Our Underwear 11: The Super-Secret Vengeance of Atomic Robo’s Hell in Russia!

In which I present the last week in review (aside from bad Marvel “event” stuff) but dispense with the device of numbering the discrete elements of this piece.

Best comic of the week: Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X #2 (of 5)

Drop everything!
This cover is by the team that did the interior art. How delightfully novel!

Words: Brian Clevinger    Art: Scott Wegener    Colors: Ronda Pattison    Letters: Jeff Powell    Editing: Lee Black

Here’s what a fan can find in Atomic Robo: Excellent art, snappy patter, good gags in the minutiae of background details, fidelity – and even fondness – for the world of science (caveat in next paragraph), near-unparalleled action set-pieces, stylistic bravery, and a self-contained universe that builds upon itself exponentially with each volume. I sincerely believe that the world of Atomic Robo is beginning to deserve comparison to Mike Mignola’s universe of [amazon_link id=”1593079109″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Hellboy[/amazon_link] and the [amazon_link id=”1595826726″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]B.P.R.D.[/amazon_link] in its scope and ambition. In fact, the most apt way to describe the Roboverse might be something like, “The Mignolaverse, but with physics and adventure replacing demonology and horror.” And that is HUGE praise.

The premise itself does need a comics-sized suspension of disbelief. It is: Nikola Tesla created a sentient nuclear-powered robot in secret a hundred years ago. Tesla has become THE go-to guy for steampunk sci-fi unlikelihoods. Off the top of my head, he is a deus ex-machina in [amazon_link id=”B000L212HC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Prestige[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”1582406057″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Five Fists of Science[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”1888963204″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]RASL[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0785144226″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]S.H.I.E.L.D.[/amazon_link], and this. I think that [amazon_link id=”1888963204″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]RASL[/amazon_link] is the only one that gives him credit for both the [amazon_link id=”B000096IAC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Philadelphia Experiment[/amazon_link] AND the Tunguska Event. What the hell, go with it, Tesla invented sentience a hundred years ago, why not? You’d be a fool to miss this fantastic world but for that. You don’t want to be a fool, so that’s settled.

As this issue opens, our hero – Robo – is falling. Credit the cover with truth in advertising on top of its other virtues. Robo had launched into the stratosphere on a mere seven hours notice in a desperate attempt to save some astronauts… but his craft got creamed by a NASA satellite. So, this:

Robo falls
We've all been there, am I right?

Man. Look at that. The struggle and desperation to live explodes off the page pounds ya right in the viscera until what you have left is a totally pounded-to-hell viscera. Ouch! Do I even need to continue? Last week was a pretty flippin’ good week for comics, and this one was the best. You know what to do.

Best re-issue of the week: [amazon_link id=”B000WOVVC0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]DC Comics Presents Superman: Secret Identity[/amazon_link]

Secret ID
Now, that is just lovely.

Writer: Kurt Busiek      Artist (pencils, inks, colors): Stuart Immonen      Letters: Todd Klein

On his Twitter feed, Kurt Busiek opines that this is among his very best work. He ain’t wrong, and considering that he has also written [amazon_link id=”1401229840″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Astro City[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”078514286X” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Marvels[/amazon_link], and the Avengers’ [amazon_link id=”0785107746″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ultron Unlimited[/amazon_link] storyline, that’s saying something. It’s NOT a tale of Kal-El, the last son of Krypton. It is, instead, the tale of a young man who constantly gets teased with “Superman” references because his parents – name of Kent – misguidedly named him “Clark.” Oh, and when he’s seventeen or so, he becomes an actual superhuman. As J. Jonah Jameson might say, “What are the odds?”

But Busiek rocks the premise from honeymoon to Brigadoon, and Immonen does perhaps the best work of HIS excellent career – yeah, better than [amazon_link id=”0785144617″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.[/amazon_link]  or [amazon_link id=”1603090495″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Moving Pictures[/amazon_link]. The guys inspire each other to heights in this story that is NOT about becoming Superman, but about becoming a man. Except nowhere close to as cheesy as that sentence I just wrote. It’s about friendship and love and trust. And it’s about being a young man and getting captured by the government for the first time, and resenting it.

SID burn
Kind of a 'flames' theme to the images so far, eh? Hey, where's his weiner?

Honestly, I’m an ENORMOUS fan of what DC is doing in their reissues of their most fantastic work of the last two decades in this format, which splits the difference (price-point-wise) between monthly floppies and trade paperbacks. This $7.99 magazine does NOT, as it happens, have the entire series, just the first two issues. You’d never be able to tell. This is a must-own.

Also very good: [amazon_link id=”B005WD4VLO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: Russia#2 (of 5)[/amazon_link]

BPRD Russia 2
Cover by Dave Johnson - hot damn tamale, last week was a great week for COVERS too, hanh?

Story: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi      Art: Tyler Crook      Colors: Dave Stewart      Letters: Clem Robins

“Every few years, [Mignola and cohorts do some totally awesome Abe Sapien stuff.] Then, five years later, they drop some huge callback on you letting you know WHY it all happened. ” – Me, 10/5/11.

Abe callback
Nailed it! (Okay, okay, The Abyssal Plain came out June & July of 2010. Still...)

Awesome series, awesome world-building, awesome excuse to toot my horn.

Scarface up there is the boss of Russia’s BPRD analogue. He got the job, so he says, because his having been dead for 40 years makes him a natural for paranormal type stuff. This issue demonstrates that he did NOT get the job because of his people skills. Beyond that, I don’t know what to say – what have you been doing with your life if you aren’t reading BPRD by now? You can’t see it, but now I’m slowly shaking my head in disappointment.

I’m digging this series too: [amazon_link id=”B005VSHFQI” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Vengeance #4 (of 6)[/amazon_link]

Loki
Well, Loki there!

The credits are right there on the cover, cut me some slack.

Another lovely cover, this one by Gabrielle Dell’otto, and one that proves that a picture of nothing but a single character – not even so much as a background – can still be quite un-boring. The angle of the shot, facial expression, color choices, the medium itself (looks painted, I’d say) all add up to Something New on this cover. Actually, I dropped the ball this week and don’t have a Boring Cover of the Week, which is too bad, because I’m sure there must have been another cover of SOME comic last week with just a lone figure that just sucked. Wait, I’m being boring. Sorry about that!

This series is interesting – I still don’t know where it’s going, but I sure as hell want to find out. The forces of neutral continue to take on the forces of evil and, this issue, an uncharacteristically malicious Kid Loki – it doesn’t look to me like Joe Casey and Kieron Gillen are on the same wavelength with future Legionnaire Loki-Lad, but that’s no big whoop – he IS the god of chaos and mischief, after all. He’s earned the right to be mercurial.

Hey, I just heard a suspicious noise from downstairs, I’ll be right back.

 

 

Our Underwear #8 – TUESDAY? But that’s TONIGHT (Tonight… tonight… tnit…)

Part 1 – Been a long time since I rock and rolled

Orchid #1

“Story”: Tom Morello

Art: Scott Hepburn

Colors: Dan Jackson

Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot (which is a Registered legal entity)

Cover (THIS one): Shepard Fairey

GRADES:

Writing: Dismal

Art: Mediocre

Politics: Hypocritical at best

So, I didn’t like this. I WANTED to like it. As I said to Matt at Graham Cracker Comics, ” I hope it’s half as good as [amazon_link id=”1593079788″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Umbrella [/amazon_link] [amazon_link id=”B005HKKXH8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Academy[/amazon_link] [written by musician Gerard Way.]” Matt said something like, “I doubt it’ll be CLOSE to half as good as [amazon_link id=”1595823441″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Umbrella Academy[/amazon_link].”

As it turns out, if [amazon_link id=”1595821635″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Umbrella Academy [/amazon_link](either series) consisted of nothing but the letter “U” on the front cover (as drawn by Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba, OR Gerard Way,) this STILL would’nt be 1% as good as [amazon_link id=”1593079788″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Umbrella Academy[/amazon_link].

It’s an unfair comparison, of course. [amazon_link id=”B005HKKXH8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]UA[/amazon_link] is one of the greatest comics ever made. Okay, well, then, this isn’t 1% as good as [amazon_link id=”160706359X” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Fall Out Toy Works[/amazon_link]. Still unfair, [amazon_link id=”160706359X” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]FATW[/amazon_link] (while quite flawed) had a “ringer” on writing chores – Brett Lewis of the brilliant [amazon_link id=”1401225268″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Winter Men[/amazon_link] fleshed out the story by Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy (and a couple of his cronies). In fact, while I’ve read none of the following, I have a hard time believing that Orchid approaches [amazon_link id=”B004RDFRYA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Amory Wars[/amazon_link] (Coheed & Cambria singer Claudio Sanchez – I’m told that ALL of the band’s albums tell the story of the Amory Wars. That seems goofy to me, but then, I’m a failed musician and they aren’t.), [amazon_link id=”1934413054″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Walk In[/amazon_link] (ideas by the [amazon_link id=”B000002WAA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Eurythmics[/amazon_link]’ Dave Stewart, NOT the kick-ass colorist of the same name), [amazon_link id=”1401228917″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Lobo: Highway to Hell[/amazon_link] (Scott Ian of Anthrax and[amazon_link id=”B00004NRW9″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ] S.O.D. [/amazon_link]- by the way, Stormtroopers of Death ARE thrash punk, there is no other. Maybe you didn’t know that.), [amazon_link id=”1600102093″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gene Simmons’ House of Horrors[/amazon_link] (Chaim Weitz of KISS), or even [amazon_link id=”B00435EM8O” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Akuma-She [/amazon_link](which looks like shitty hentai porn and is written and penciled by little person Glenn Danzig of the[amazon_link id=”B000000I3O” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ] Misfits[/amazon_link].) Okay, I’m piling on, but it’s because this comic suuuuucked.

I had unrealistic expectations. First of all, I wasn’t much of a Rage Against the Machine fan, so I forgot that Tom Morello was the GUITARIST and that Zach de la Rocha was the vocalist and lyricist. So, while “Fuck you! I won’t do what you tell me!” is a philosophy that is near and dear to my heart, it is NOT one that was written by Morello. Secondly, I really like orchids. They’re the best flower. There’s just no point even debating that. Finally, I’m a left-lib pinko type, and I figured at the very LEAST, this comic’s politics would jibe with my preconcieved prejudices. Well, the ideas kind of do, I guess – I agree that it’s bad for rich people to enslave everybody else. That does make them BAD GUYS, indeed. But, well,  I’m not so sure that rich people’s money would mean diddly shit after the utter collapse of civilization itself. Ya see, “When the seas rose, genetic codes were smashed.” Yeah. Like, the water rose, you dig, and it SMOOSHED the “genetic codes” of froggies and clownfishes and komodo dragons and people together, making them into mean looking scaly monster-frogs. But the dollar remains backed by the gold standard? Whatever, money is all an artificial construct as is.

Jimmy Snuka, CEO
"Muthafuckah, you had best not fuck wit my Powerpoint slides!" Orchid shows World Chem Inc in an unguarded moment. World Chem Inc, you got SERVED!

Anyhow, the writing is just plain BAD, but that’s not the worst sin of this comic, not by a long shot. No, the WORST is this comic’s ONE-IN-TEN INCENTIVE COVER. That’s right, for every ten copies

Terrible orchid
Gletkin, you got SERVED.

of this bought by comic stores, they are entitled to BUY another ONE copy with an alternate cover. The alternate cover in this case is the one I got, by Shepard Fairey. Normally, I refuse to pay a single penny extra for incentive covers because I find the practice despicable, but I liked this one’s cover by Fairey (the Obama “HOPE” / Andre the Giant “OBEY” guy) a LOT better than the ordinary cover by Massimo Carnevale.  Also, I figured, “I’m spending 80 fricking dollars on comics, what’s another couple?” But, here’s the thing: incentive covers deliberately manipulate the supply of a particular version of a comic, thereby making that version more valuable. Perhaps you’ve heard of the law of supply and demand? Well, I have two problems with this: 1) A comic is an object of art. The purist in me feels that there should be only one The Old Guitarist, or one Cloud Gate, or one Flamingo, or one The Sun.  I feel that so, too, should it be with printings of comic books.  Now, I can hear you saying,  “But John, Edward Munch did dozens of versions of The Scream, and more than one version of The Sun itself!” Well, if Edward Munch told you to jump off the top of Claes Oldenburg’s Dickmonster, would you do it? Hmm? 2) By FAR, though, the bigger problem is this: Since rarer comics cost more, incentive covers will tend to be bought by the people with the most money. Do you see the irony there? Morello and Fairey, POO ON YOU!

Part 2 – I ain’t joking, woman, I’ve got to ramble

Demon Knights #2

W: Paul Cornell

A: Diogenes Nieves, Oclair Albert, Marcelo Maiolo, Jared K. Fletcher

Rating: Is something I’ll be dispensing with for the rest of this post, ’cause I really need more sleep.

In Demon Knights, Paul Cornell has made a poor decision. I like Cornell, I wish him well, but here he earns derision. In DCU’s “New 52,” this book depicts Medieval times. But Cornell’s plan for Etrigan the demon takes away his rhymes. With continuity remade, each scribe is freed from canon’s shackle, but mere acuity of trade can make Etrigan’s comments crackle. I’ll drop it now, I’d rather not overdo Cornell’s castigation. The gag wears thin, and it begins to look like verbal masturbation.

As with Stormwatch, this series feels like Cornell is still finding his footing. Vandal Savage’s non-conformist reaction to a dragon attack is one step in the right direction, and points to what exactly feels off in both books:  Because A) they are team books and B) all of continuity is new, there is too much characterization that needs to be shoehorned in. If this was a solo book, there would be plenty of room for Cornell to flesh out the protagonist’s new backstory and such, OR if we were just using the already-established DC Universe’s continuity, he could take the characters’ histories as read. But the combination binds Cornell. One would think that being able to do whatever one wants with the players would be freeing, but we see again my contention that limiting a creator can lead to the best work. While Stan & Jack were the literal creators of Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximov, it was Peter David who truly defined him forever afterward in his ingenious exploration of Pietro’s psychological motivation in [amazon_link id=”0785127453″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]X-Factor #87[/amazon_link]. Similarly, Cornell’s best work ([amazon_link id=”1401230717″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]this [/amazon_link]and [amazon_link id=”0785139524″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]this[/amazon_link]) has been with heroes (mostly) invented by others and perfected by Cornell’s craft. I doubt that the new “twist,” wherein both Etrigan and his unaware alter-ego Jason Blood are sexing up Madame Xanadu, will bear any lasting artistic fruit.  On the other hand, I AM amused by the possibility that the exploits of EtriXan will be covered by the Gutenberg Tabloid Press. I do still have faith that Mr. Cornell will gain strength and momentum as the series continues, but I do worry that Demon Knights may be canceled before it hits its stride. Luckily, everybody in the nation has at least bought issue #1 of every “New 52” book, so that helps. That fact, though, makes me wish I could give the comics-buying public a lesson  about the law of supply and demand. Hey now…

Part 3 – I’m about to lose my worried mind

Morning Glories #13

W: Nick Spencer

A: Joe Eisma      Cvr: Rodin Esquejo      Clrs: Alex Sollazzo    Ltrs Johnny Lowe   Design: Tim Daniel

This comic still kicks ass. Did you know that Morning Glories kicks ass? Now you do. You DO trust me, right? Man, I’ve written like twenty thousand words at this site, if you don’t trust me by now… I guess maybe I’ve relied on the “unreliable narrator” device too much. Have you seen Jules et Jim? It was okay.

In this issue, the mystery deepens… but that explains pretty much EVERY issue of this series. I’ll repeat that Nick Spencer really needs to absolutely nail the landing on this comic, because the “It was all a dream!” twist ending would be a total kick to the dick of everything that came before it. (Reread that line. Nice, eh?)

So, lotsa weird shit again. That number 2 on the cave wall on page 27 panel 4 – mad clue or art fuckup? Could totally go either way. The bit from Psalms 18:4, “The sorrows of death compassed me,” cutting off the end, “and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.” Is that significant? Got me! Heck, maybe every panel on page 29 is analogous to Psalms 18. Like, in panel three, Casey says, “WHAT’S THAT SOUND?” and Psalms 18:3 says, “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: So shall I be saved from mine enemies.” So maybe the sound she’s hearing is the 1st-person narrator of Psalms (King David, I think?) calling upon and praising the Lord? What about the fire on page 31 near the street sign saying “Rue Pitarra” – Google says there’s an apartment for rent there. Fuck, do I have to go to SPAIN to figure this shit out? Punching “Pitarra” into Wikipedia redirects you to Sacramental Wine – man, this had better not JUST be a bunch of God crap, because the Lord is totally NOT worthy to be praised. Anybody who’s read Kings II 2:23 – 2:25 knows that.

Part 4 –  Always the same, playin’ your game: Boring Cover of the Week

Unlike the week of 10/5, 10/12/11 had many worthy candidates for BCotW. Take Demon Knights – please!

Proxemics, people!
Scimitar guy is SO gonna "do it" with the back of Etrigan's head.

Everybody is just, y’know, there. Staring in a random direction, being a random size. But the staging of this cover is so relentlessly dumb that it just ISN’T boring. Is Etrigan going to bite Madame Xanadu’s head? Does Boob-Woman want to gay-marry Shining Knight? Would Vandal Savage be less angry without all of those letters on his face? Sorry, Tony Daniel and Tomeu Morey, but bad is not boring. Worser luck next time!

Go!
Okay, people, gimme angry. Grrr! That's right! Now RUN AT SOMETHING!

[amazon_link id=”B005TKW112″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]New Avengers #17[/amazon_link] had a decent shot (Mike Deodato and Rain Beredo did the cover-o.) The people just running was pretty pointless. OTOH, the image does emit a legit feeling kinetic energy, movement. Plus you have Luke cage, Wolverine, and Daredevil all going “rarrrrr!” And Spider-Man seems to be trying to shove his ankles up his ass while planning on swinging from a stop sign. So, the prize goes to…

Hmph!
I have a rifle, but I'm not happy about it!

[amazon_link id=”B005TJXW0W” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Alpha Flight #5 (of 8.)[/amazon_link] This is seriously the most boring cover that could possibly be made depicting a bunch of stridently marching superheroes – including hot twins, a musclebound dwarf, a hot fish-woman, and a Sasquatch – holding laser rifles. While Taskmaster looks on from Heaven and is all, like, “Hmph!” Congrats to Carlo pagulayan, Jason Paz, and Chris Sotomayor – you guys win the booby prize. It’s a damn shame, because the comic itself is super fun, the best issue of this series so far, and the best work by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente since their Hercules heyday, with splendid interior art by Dale Eaglesham (and no credited inker.) Here, lookit this:

Eh?

The l.ook on Puck’s face is totally priceless, right?

Part 5 – Speak to me only with your eyes: Awesome cover of the week

Pink matter
The dude has balls. Have a lot of people used that joke already?

Mister Terrific #2, cover by J.G. Jones. Forget 22 pages, guy, just do one of these per month. You’re money, baby.

Okay, sleepytime, thanks for sticking around!