Bizarro Prez and Constantine Reviewed

BIZARRO DC Comics Written by Heath Corson and drawn by Gustavo Duarte this story of Superman’s misshapen clone is awesome fun. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of variations of Bizarro but for my money he’s at his best when he is written humorous, we have that in spades here. Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen are talking about Bizarro atop the Daily Planet when Jimmy mentions that Lois things Bizarro is Superman’s twin brother. While he almost spits out his coffee he tells Jimmy that his plan to take Bizarro to Canada is a great idea and maybe he can put out a book of pictures taken on the road trip. Which of course leads to where the fun starts, ROAD TRIP! On their adventures they encounter loads of folks, including a run with Jonah Hex’s descendant Chastity Hex. During the ride they have adventures in a ghost town, Las Vegas and a used car lot in Smallville that includes a King Tut styled villain. For me the best part is the banter between Jimmy and Bizarro, it feels natural and it’s a ball watching them become friends. I’ve always believed that comics, no matter what else they do, should be fun. This is just that, pure fun. PREZ Volume 1 CORNDOG IN CHIEF DC Comics Hey gang, Uncle Jon has been reading comics for a long time. In fact Uncle Jon bought copies of the original PREZ back in the 70s. Of course at the time I read it with the eyes of a kid and found it fun with some cool ideas. Rereading the originals now as an adult I smile as there are some hippie like ideas that while good ideas they are impractical. Hey, there’s a reason the age to be President is 35. The premise is pretty simple, the age to be president is lowered and a teenager become President and looks at things with younger and at times idealistic eyes. The version of PREZ we have now works with a similar set up though changed for the changing times. Voting is done on Twitter and Beth Ross is elected because of a viral video that has her dubbed “The Corndog Girl”. What really resonates here is the interference of corporations and selfish people which really is not that much different than when the original series ran. Beth is a great character, compassionate and thoughtful and she reads. Once in office she breaks from the norm and thinks outside the box. The fact that we’ll never really be able to see politics run like this, though they should, doesn’t take away from the fun of seeing it. There is scheming going on to make her position powerless and she finds work arounds. The political situations are very current, especially the portrayal of military nd corporations. This is a fun book, a smart book and a great book. Mark Russell has doen a wonderful job here and I would love to chat with him about politics and the world. I also Love love love the art by Ben Caldwell, fresh looking, comic booky and yet unique. And a shout out to colorist Jeremy Lawson, he did a great job giving this a bright and fun look. You NEED this book.     CONSTANTINE Vol 1 GOING DOWN DC Comics I’ve been following the adventures of John Constantine since he first showed up in Swamp Thing. I am a huge fan. I’ve loved almost all of it. Towards the end of the Vertigo run it felt a little lost and I didn’t care for the art. Now on it’s second relaunch since reentering the DC Universe mainstream I am seeing glimpses of what I loved about the character going back to the early days. We’re getting some background retold and I expect that. The angle on this first arc to do that is a throwback...

The Last Contract Issue One Jan05

The Last Contract Issue One

The Last Contract issue one comes out this week from Boom Studios. It’s the tale of a retired hitman by Ed Brisson with art by Lisandro Estherren. Over the years I’ve read a lot of stories about hitmen, some better than others, but my favorites seem to be the ones that have a the hitman trying to live a normal life. In THE LAST CONTRACT we open with an old man having coffee, it’s a weekly thing he does as part of his routine. As we follow him he goes home, lets out the dog and gets ready for bed. He hears a noise and ends up surprising someone in his house. A few action sceens and bodies later we find out along with the old man that somewhere along the line his old boss has died and someone has a contact list and is using it to black mail some big bosses. To cover their tracks the big boss decides to kill anyone who may know what he’s been up to. Our old man doesn’t take kindly to this and decides to fight back one last time. Brisson paces this nicely and issue one leaves me wanting more and wanting it now. His dialogue is sparse except when the mob boss is ranting and it’s about the way you figure these guys would talk if you met them. Nicely done. I love the art, it’s a bit different than the mainstream stuff and the coloring helps give it a nice look that leaves a bit to the imagination but also coveys the story well. I went through a second time without reading the art does indeed tell the story on it’s own. I can’t wait to read the next three issues of this mini...

OLD MAN DAN DREAMS IN DIGITAL Jan04

OLD MAN DAN DREAMS IN DIGITAL

It’s hard to change when you’ve done it the same way since forever. How many times have we all said that? Quite a few, I’d imagine. It’s even more so when it comes to a lifelong hobby. Picking up my first comic book off of the spinner rack in 1987, comics only came one way: the physical book. So I read it and I loved it. And then I bought another. And another. And so on and so on. Time passed, and I grew from casual fan to obsessive collector. Space for all of my four-colored treasures was eventually at a premium. Not to mention the hassle of dragging grocery store boxes full of stapled newsprint from dumpy apartment to dumpy apartment when I was a younger lad. “Help me with these boxes, will ya?” ::box falls:: “Careful with that!” “What’s in these, bowling balls?” “No, stupid. My comics!” Yeah. A real hassle. The Great Comic Book Purge hit in 2002 after we got married. All of my single issue comics were sitting in the hall closet, stacked poorly in multiple Cub Foods grocery store boxes. They were getting pretty beat up, and I couldn’t see dragging them across town when we moved into our first home. Time to put away childish things, and all that. So, I sold ‘em. The funds paid for the moving truck. Fair deal, I thought. Surprisingly, I didn’t cry. Too much. (I did hold onto the trades, so that helped to soften the blow.) As I’ve gotten older, I’m still enjoying comics. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of the creators I’ve long admired. Because I enjoy going to my local comic shop, I’ve tried to stick to the habit of trading the monthly floppy books for the collected trade collections. But that’s not very cost effective and the books keep piling up. That’s not even taking into account the massive amounts of regular books crying for space on our bookshelves. And my house isn’t getting any bigger. Digital comics are nothing new. I have read books on the Kindle machine, but I’m a traditionalist! I like to hold the paper copy! On my lap, laying on a flat surface, as to not wrinkle the book or get sweaty fingerprints on the cover, which happens more times than I care to think about. I’m not down on digital; I’ve just never read comics that way before. But as I’ve gotten older, my mindset has also changed: I don’t really want to own more stuff. I just want to enjoy the stuff I like. This is the mindset that has lead us to stream most of our music from Amazon, and to watch most of our movies from Netflix and the like. You don’t own the product when you stream it; you just get to enjoy it as much as you want to. Enter: Holiday Season 2015 The Hanukah T-Rex (Don’t ask. Our house is a strange place.) delivered us an iPad! Comixology is the premier provider for purchasing digital comic books. If you want to purchase your weekly titles from many different publishers and never leave your couch? Comixology is the way to go. However, Marvel Comics came out with their own app: Marvel Unlimited. For a small monthly fee, you can read thousands of their books, going back to the early 1960’s. Pretty sweet deal.   Fantastic Four. Avengers. Captain America. Ms. Marvel. You get it. The actual reading part of the app is well designed, and the responsive nature of the iPad screen is unmatched, as is the clarity of the picture. Actually navigating the app to find what you’re looking for? Well, once you figure out the idiosyncrasies, you’re good to go. So yeah, this weekend I’ve been sucked into the digital world, one minute reading SECRET WARS from 1984, and the next seeing what the fuss is all...

HOWLING COMMANDOS of S.H.I.E.L.D. with Kate (and Dan)...

Marvel Comics October 2015   ::It’s Halloween at the Asylum in St. Paul:: D: Hey Red, check out my costume! K: Skinny Jew Kid? D: That’s my everyday costume. K: It’s a very natural look for you. D: You haven’t even commented on the fact that I’m standing here holding my detached head by the hair. I think that’s kind of odd. K: I honestly hadn’t noticed. D: OH GOD. It’s finally happened. The magic is gone. K: Please. I still loves ya, babe, but I’m a gal in the city. It takes a bit more than a Headless Skinny Kid to shock me. D: ::sets head on end table, sighs:: What’s it gonna take to put the horror back into this marriage? K: I say we take a look at a bunch of real monsters, but monsters who are banding together to fight even more monstrous monsters. I say we read the new Marvel book by Frank J. Barbiere and Brent Schoonover, HOWLING COMMANDOS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. The tag line is “To fight the monsters of the world, it takes the monsters of the night!” Doesn’t get much monster-y than that! D: Hand me my head, I’m going to need that. ::puts head back on shoulders:: … D: That. That was a lot of monsters. Like A LOT of monsters. So many monsters. K: Told ya it had all of the monster-y goodness. D: I knew about the Howling Commandos from the Captain America movie, and that they helped him fight Nazis during WWII, but Nick Fury was their leader in the comic books. K: You mean the Steranko Nick Fury? Like from your t-shirt? D: Yes, that one. And lots of grown men have that t-shirt. Not just me. In HOWLING COMMANDOS OF S.H.E.I.L.D, the Commandos are part of a S.H.I.E.L.D. initiative called S.T.A.K.E., Special Threat Assessment for Known Extranormalities. They are defending the world against supernatural threats. K: Marvel sure loves the acronyms, don’t they? Also, aren’t “supernatural threats” the same as Norse gods with magic hammers or guys that have been injected with an anti-aging serums that make them super? D: Actually, that last one is totally science, not magic… K: SHUT UP. D: … K: It sounds like S.T.A.K.E. is protecting S.H.I.E.L.D. from itself and its established enemies. Is this group segregated from the “regular” agents because these guys don’t have cool costumes or movie screen charisma? Is that what this comes down to, charisma versus monsters? D: Yes. It’s that exactly. The Howling Commandos are now a team of monsters. Their leader, Dum Dum Dugan, has died, but his consciousness has been downloaded into a Life Model Decoy, or LMD. The team also includes another former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who is now deceased, Jasper Sitwell. Except instead of being an LMD like Dugan, Sitwell is a zombie. Because, of course. We’ve also got Vampire by Night, Manphibian, Orrgo (some giant made of rocks that isn’t The Thing), Man-Thing, Teen Abomination, and a monkey with a machine gun that goes by the moniker of HIT-MONKEY. K: That monkey is bad-ass. I want to be on a team with that monkey. D: The Commandos get called into action when a tanker ship’s crew is turned into plant zombies. The cause of said organic zombie-fication is an occult totem stowed away on the ship. K: They bring out all of the monster firepower! The monkey is blasting away with both hands and his feet! His feet! Manphibian lays waste to the zombies! Teen Abomination goes after the zombie creating idol! Man-Thing does crazy Man-Thing stuff! And someone on the Commandos team thought it was a good idea to give their own zombie, the formerly living Jasper Sitwell, a rocket launcher. I want it on record that this is a terrible idea. D: Noted. I think we can safely say that this book rocks, and not the kind of...

Lady Killer by Jones and Rich Oct27

Lady Killer by Jones and Rich

LADY KILLER Joelle Jones and Jamie S Rich Dark Horse Comics This was a damn fun read. Picture a typical early 60’s suburban household that might be out of Mad Men. In this house Mom, Dad 2 kids, and Dad’s Mom have a typical life except for one thing. Mom is an assassin working for an agency. The story opens with Josie taking care of some business, a hit that needs taking care of. She is skilled and efficient so even when things go a little weird, she gets it done. And then she’s home in time to make dinner. The fun in this was watching the balance between her lives. She talks to her handler but tells her family it was just a salesman or something. Her cover during the day is that she is volunteering at a hospice which frees her up to do what she needs to do. Somewhere along the way her handler, and by default his boss, decide that she may not be right for this anymore. The agency doesn’t like her splitting her time between work and family and she ends up on a list, and it’s not a list for Tupperware. This is when it really gets fun. The book ends in such a way that a sequel would work. I don’t know how much research Jones and Rich did but they nailed the time period, the attitudes, the way people talk and especially the look. Joelle Jones did such a great job with the art. I would like to have every page as a poster. This is a terrific book with great humor and wonderful action. Maybe call it suburban noir? Call it what you want, it’s a great book with great characters and I would love more....

CLANDESTINO

Black Mask Studios 2015     A pretty cool thing happened when I stopped by my local comic shop last week. One of the managers had just gotten back from New York Comic Con, and having never gone myself, I made a point to ask her how she enjoyed it. Of course, the answer was, “IT WAS AMAZING OMG” and “PANELS PANELS PANELS” and “COMIC CREATORS AND INDUSTRY BUZZ.” I must admit my jealousy was reaching an all-time high at this point, but I continued to listen closely. We talked about the upcoming Marvel relaunch, cool stuff happening at Dark Horse, and then she reached behind the counter and pulled out a signed book by a comic book publisher I hadn’t heard of before. A publisher going by a name that I knew very well: BLACK MASK. The book was called CLANDESTINO. With my “I’m intrigued” face in full effect, I paged through the book. Clearly a labor of love by writer/artist Amancay Nahuelpan, CLADESTINO is the story of the war-torn Republic of Tairona, and the rebel group Koyam who are trying to take their nation back. It’s a beautiful, brutal book that that is a marvel of storytelling. Opening with a ballet of a gunfight in a desert gas station that leads straight into a double page title card, CLANDESTINO has wonderful cinematic feel that absolutely works in its favor. Amancay Nahuelpan uses a variety of artistic styles to maximum effect. The opening gunfight has a hyper-kinetic vibe, full of motion and color. When the story flashes back to the military coup, Nahuelpan uses a ghostly black and white style that evokes a photo’s negative image. Very cool, very effective stuff. As the story continues to catch the reader up on the events of the coup, Nahhuelpan uses a series of full page, torn and bloody newspapers to provide backstory, as well as house-ads that promote the book and the rebel Koyam; all done to perfect effect. CLANDESTINO is a beautiful book that tells a brutal story. And if CLANDESTINO is an indicator of the quality of books that Black Mask will be putting out? Then this is a publisher to watch. Dan...