Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly single issue review roundup.
Aliens vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #1
(Christopher Sebela / Ariel Olivetti; Dark Horse Comics)
You’re going to need to know some things ahead of time to enjoy Aliens vs. Predator: Fire and Stone. First, it’s part of a four-part crossover project by Dark Horse that ties in the Aliens, Predator, and Prometheus franchises. Second, this four-issue AVP series takes place after the Prometheus series, even though Prometheus is still only on issue #2 (see link below to my longer review of Prometheus 1 and 2).
Three: some of the same characters appear in both. Sorry for that spoiler, but you were going to find out eventually anyways, much to your possible confusion.
Still, ok, fine, I love Aliens, and I love Predator, I love the idea of Aliens vs. Predator, and even if I was kinda ‘meh’ on the first Prometheus movie, I’m ok with a larger mythology being constructed with all four. I’m just a sucker for well-made sci-fi/horror/action romps.
I generally like the Prometheus series so far, due in large part to writer Paul Tobin. Unfortunately, the dialogue by writer Christopher Sebela in AVP feels a little unnatural, especially with the character Francis. For example: “I haven’t seen anything. I’ve been locked in your squalid little ship. If it wasn’t for that oaf Higgins, I would’ve starved…” “Squalid” and “oaf” sound more like vocabulary for a medieval-ish Conan bad guy that a biologist working on a spaceship.
Still, Sebela has a tough gig: He’s basically doing a ‘filler’ story between the seemingly more important Prometheus and Aliens, and Predator, series/stories/what-I’m-now-thinking-as-chapters-in-a-larger-16-issue-story. He’s got to develop some characters that have already been written by Tobin, by not too much, and he’s got to leave the main ones alive, apparently.
Or not. This would all make more sense if the four different series were released one after the other, rather than all at once. But, well, that wasn’t the plan. The more I’m reading the different series, the more I’m wishing they were all more separate from each other, with separate characters.
Still, in for a penny, in for a pound. If you want to enjoy this whole project, and I do, sincerely, then you’ll need to read AVP. Or, you could just wait for the collected Volume of all four series that I suspect is in the works for next year….
– John Yohe
Read my review of Prometheus #1 and 2 here.
(Jay Faerber / Scott Godlewski / Ron Riley; Image Comics)
One of the hardest things to do as a storyteller is creating worlds. They need to be believable and readers need to make sense of them in context of the story that they are reading. It’s tough. Real places need to be accurately portrayed and fictional places needs to have some sort of tangibility to them or else we’re left wandering. Faerber, Godlewski and Mauer do a fantastic job at world-building in Copperhead #2.
The story blends the familiar and unfamiliar perfectly with new and old technology. Riley showcases the believable sandy desert landscapes with earthy tones giving likeness to the Western United States, but are wonderfully lit by the natural lighting of two moons. Faerber creates characters with distinct personalities and histories, wonderfully drawn by Godlewski. His ability to capture facial expressions and emotion are best displayed during a gut-wrenching, emotional scene between Sheriff Bronson and Missus Sewell.
The pages are brought to life by Riley’s coloring that constantly makes me feel at home in an unfamiliar land. Riley uses lots of single tones to fully color details and features we’re supposed to notice, like the Sewell’s swavash and the Bronson’s red hair. The action words grab my attention by the way they’re drawn and colored. During the firefight scene in the desert, the bright yellow “BLAMs” and “BUDDAs” compliment the yellow hues of the gunfire to light up the night sky.
Faerber introduces a couple of new characters in this issue that will surely play an important role as the series continues. He tells the story at a pace that reveals the plot at a natural pace that allows room for dialogue that is at times serious, but also fun and comical like the bitter bickering of Budroxifinicus, and allows Godlewski and Riley to show off their talents.
Copperhead #2 is a great comic and continues to build promise for the rest of the series.
(Scott Snyder / Greg Capullo / Danny Miki / FCO Plascencia / James Tynion IV / Kelley Jones / Michelle Madson; DC Comics)
No disrespect to Prince Spider-Man and Archduke Wolverine but Batman is the King of comics. With a stronghold of titles attached to his mythos Batman commands a sizable share of the market. This isn’t news, but it’s worth noticing that the title at the top continues to be great.
I haven’t written about Batman since reviewing the Court of Owls storyline that opened the book following the New 52 reboot. For reasons I can’t remember now I dropped it for a spell but returned for “Zero Year” which somehow managed to give us a wholly new origin story woven with familiar threads. Issue #35 is the start of “Endgame”, and it’s a testament to the superior quality of the comic.
At NYCC Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo spoke at legnth about their creative freedom and how it allows them to build a story that they can stand behind. Their run has been uncannily solid, a constant wave of badass surprises and relatable humanity. “Endgame” is no different. Bruce Wayne versus the Justice League should be a worn concept by now but somehow the creators pump new energy into it. A new mystery is set up, and while it has roots in other Bat-titles it’s also autonomous enough to be enjoyed in a vacuum.
This is the paragraph were one typically talks on art but instead of piling praise onto Capullo I want to shine the light on FCO Plascenia. His work in “Zero Year” was spectacular and even though the tone is much more neutral and less neon in #35 it’s hard to deny the colors make this one of the visually stunning books on the stands. The choices are indicative of the entire title, a mix of traditional and the uncommon, a way to traverse new ground for Batman while not being so bold as to alienate diehards and traditionalists. Gotham City plays a huge part in the overall story, not only as a setting but as a impetus for the plot, and under Plascenia’s brush it’s surprisingly not the gloomy, glum place we’ve been accustomed do for seventy years.
A backup story by James Tynion IV follows a quintet of escaped inmates from Arkham and their encounter with a demonic figure named the Paleman. There’s really not enough there to adequately judge it as it’s very clandestine about the nature of what’s going on. However, I can say I’m pretty interested in how this one will unfold.
– Jamil Scalese
Earth 2: World’s End #1
(Daniel H. Wilson / Mike Johnson / Marguerite Bennett / Paulo Siqueira / Eddy Barrows / Jorge Jimenez / Adrian Syaf; DC Comics)
The first issue of Earth 2: World’s End (written by Daniel H. Wilson, Mike Johnson, and Marguerite Bennett with art by Paulo Siqueira, Eddy Barrows, Jorge Jimenez, and Adrian Syaf) feels like one of those dreams where the world makes complete sense to you in the dream — the place you’re in is your home and those people are your friends; but when you wake up you realize that your dream house was a Home Depot and your friends were gnomes.World’s End is like if DC’s crazy multiverse were real and you found a book from another Earth, published by another DC.
The story takes place in an entirely new universe with a new cast of characters, but it’s written with the confidence, and familiarity of a story that has been told for decades. The exposition is personal, usually coming from the point-of-view of an entirely new set of classic superheroes. No one character is over-explaining, or narrating for the sake of narrating. They’re actually telling a story the way that anyone would if it felt like that particular story needed to be told and if this chapter is any indication, World’s End is going to be an exhaustingly painful story. The Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman that we know die within the first few pages — and it gets worse from there.
The dour, defeated tone of the book, along with the overload of new information, makes this Earth 2 a tough read, and after awhile it seems like the motivation to keep turning pages is to see what crazy, twisted thing Apokolips can throw at this Earth next. The lack of any solid, familiar ground will put off newcomers, but for the DC hardcore it may just be worth it to see the many alterations done to every storyline, how everything comes together, and how it seems like it’s all going to just eventually fall apart.
– Myke Ladonia
(Joshua Williamson / Andrei Bressan / Adriano Lucas; Image Comics/Skybound)
Everyone loves superheroes and of course, Marvel and DC have that locked down pretty tight, but it just seems like Image can do no wrong right now and Birthright is just the latest promising new series to hit the shelves.
The story follows a family dealing with the disappearance of their son, Mikey, after he gets lost in the woods only to show up a year later as a grown dragon-slaying He-Man. It seems like an homage to a lot of things, sort of a World of The Lord The Of Game Of type of thing with hints of True Detective andCriminal Minds to boot. Joshua Williamson (Captain Midnight, Ghosted, Nailbiter) writes a damn fine script with a legitimate twist and Andrei (Green Lantern: New Guardians) Bressan‘s art matches up quite nicely. However, in a rarely emphasized credit, Par Brosseau (sweet name right?) deserves some real recognition for the lettering in this book. Why? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out. And I do recommend that you do just that.
– Ryan Scott
Dead Squad #1
(Matthew Federman /Stephen Scaia / Steve Firchow / Michael Montenat; IDW/DarbyPop)
So… IDW Publishing just recently Darby Pop(ped) one of their latest titles through the comic foxhole. Created and written by the dynamic, linguistic duo of Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia, I must confess under interrogative duress that I am unequivocally unimpressed! After cutting their choppers as script assistants on Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, and dropping post-apocalyptic dialogue on the now defunct Jericho (along with penning a recent Zorro reboot and an upcomingGhost Recon script for pyro-laden spectaclemeister Herr Michael Bay), I found myself numbingly shell-shocked into stupidity after thumbing my nose through their initial ish of Dead Squad. Stilted, clichéd dialogue too easy to telegraph that ballpeen hammers out a military espionage title with all the usual tired tropes that a 12-year-old boy would yawn over.
Having dropped hot lead and molten black for such titles as The Fallen, Spirit of the Law, and Hellraiser before now, it appears painfully obvious to me that Michael Montenat’s pencils have been worn to worthless wooden nubs with no graphite soul, his India ink diluted to a gray that doesn’t matter. On this Squad, his lines and marks too pristine and clean, lacking any visceral vitality.
Breakdown: Delta Force Operatives Blake, Hooper, and Shane (visual clones of actors Chris Hemsworth, Channing Tatum, and Michael B. Jordan, respectively), didn’t come off as the Ops they’re supposed to be; and they ain’t even no weekend Stormtroopers either. They blow up some bad guys, who may not necessarily be bad; they find out their Colonel and CO may have gone rogue; they have a brief argument with their Colonel Richard Crenna-look-alike; and things get predictably worse for the D Squad from there. I saw and read all I needed to from this dog turd, by simply glancing the cover page. I wouldn’t waste a single hollow-tipped wad-cutter on this blood-drained carcass. DEAD SQUAD is D.O.A… I give this 1 Six Empty Chambers out of 6, on a shitty ole rusty wheel gun that Chris Walken wouldn’t have even used in The Deerhunter after he and Bobby DeNiro get pulled outta the flooded rat cage by the Viet Cong…
– Jason Bud
The October Faction #1
(Steve Niles / Damien Worm; IDW)
The band October Faction was a bastard son of the hardcore punk rock band, Black Flag; and The October Faction is one of the latest comic titles, caesarian-sectioned fist-first, from the tomb of IDW Publishing. Open up, and suck on this lumpy, red gravy…you ghastly bastards!!!
IDW Prez Greg Goldstein had the testicles of oblivion to dig the earth for more corpulent stylings from Steven Niles (30 Days of Night) and Damien Worm (In the Dark). These voodoo priest killers recently slashed and stitched up the fiendish Frankenstein’s Monster/Jack the Ripper hybrid Monster and Madman (a slightly older TOF sibling; that just slipped IDW’s beef-curtained labium nary eight moons ago)…
Diagnosis: Familia, Allan = Neo-gothic noir clan, cum The Addams Family + The Incredibles (with: father of hunter, mother of killer, daughter of witch, and son of warlock). Doktor von Niles runs Tesla coil current through the dialogue, from colloquial to literary, as a slightly nonlinear tale begins to burn on multiple ends of the candelabrum; a tale not all readers may take a shining to. Don’t worry ya bonez, Holmes. There remains enough Nilesian verbal elixir to keep the cauldron aboil.. Animated under the skin of Undertaker Worm’s surgically precise lead point and coagulated bloodwork, the image cells that house the heroes, heroines, and hellions of The October Faction phase and fugue from sepia tones to grayscale and back again, shot with splattered crimson (smearing together visual tropes of cinema, comica, and supranaturala, in a seductively slimy broth). Worm’s visions, often marred with scratches and flecked with viscera and ooze break the comic fourth wall, spilling into the no man’s land of gutter space between each frame..
Dark souls Niles and Worm have graverobbered up an anti-hero, here. One: Frederick Allan; of body parts a la: Abe Lincoln, Clint Eastwood, and Colonel Sanders. I’ll be shoveling worm dirt, digging for more– down to the bloody quick of my fingernails. Rating: One, full-on, bloated and festering corpse, with all orifices fully distended.. Come get your necrophilia on, Texas Chainsaw-style!!!
– Jason Bud
Evil Ernie #1
(Jesse Blaze Snider / Jason Craig; Dynamite Entertainment)
Ernest Fairchild is one epic raging assassin for Lucifer– even if he’s so batshit crazy other followers in hell keep their distance. Your lovely writer had no choice to dive into this issue and was quite frankly lost in the pages, but not in agood way.
I mean, if you’re not familiar with the story of Ernest Fairchild in Evil Ernie #1, then.. it’s going to become clear you need to have read the origin of the character. Moving on, Twisted Sister frontman son Jesse Blaze Snider‘s action was decent for the issue. Death, as beheadings, blood in this ish are totally present and done tasteful. Entertaining, was the fact that there was female hacker talking to the totally carbon copied style Hell Cube from (Hellraiser movie) and what happens from there, well, let’s just say I kept laughing. Towards the end you see an attractively illustrated Fem Demon — drawn by Jason Craig — talking to her minions, with the looks as if the gang will eventually get back together. Ernie, looks like you have family planning a visit. Just make sure they are welcomed home properly.
– Richard Zom