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Shaolin Cowboy

Posted on 11 October 2013 by powpow

shaolin_2Geof Darrow is one of my favorite artists working in the industry today and I couldn’t be more excited to have him back doing a semi-regular title. Darrow is best known for his work with Frank Miller on Hard Boiled from the early 90′s that won an Eisner for best Writer/Artist. It’s rumored that Frank Miller even drew Geof as Kevin the cannibal in his Sin City A Dame to Kill for played by Elijah Wood in the movie. He’s also done a bunch of work with the Wachowskis from all the Matrix movies to Speed Racer (His eight year old daughter even did a bunch of work for them, that’s how talented a Darrow is!). His work is so insanely detailed and intricate it’s really rare he will do a full comic and usually just sticks to cover work and pinup in comics so Shaolin Cowboy is a pretty rare treat for the eyes.

Shaolin Cowboy was orginally published by Burlyman Entertainment from 2005 as a 7 issue mini-series which also won an Eisner in 2006 and now it’s back as a 4 issue mini-series from Dark Horse. Darrow himself calls it:

“100 pages of nonstop action. It’s not really a conventional story, it’s not real long on plot… Well, not much plot but a lot of movement! It’s not really a story, it was just that I wanted a vehicle where I can draw things that I like to draw. I’ve always been interested in martial arts, westerns, and monster movies – so this is mostly an excuse to draw things that I’ve always wanted to!”

shaolin_1All I’d really like to tell you about this is it’s worth it. Go buy it. Go support this amazing work every panel is filled with his precise inks and overwhelming details. There is barely any dialogue but for me it took about twice the amount of time to read as a normal comic as there is so much to take in. The details Darrow adds the trademark graffiti covering nearly every available surface is such a huge treat that you really need a microscope to be able to take it all in.

Don’t worry about jumping on and not having read any of the previous issues (especially as they are really hard to find and Burlyman hasn’t reprinted them) There are two pages at the front that explain where the monk has been for the last six years that are pretty insanely clever and funny and could make another 20 to 40 series worth of work in them. Just go get it today and watch a Shaolin monk dressed as a cowboy attack a horde of zombies with a staff with chainsaws on either end. There’s more to it then that but lets be honest thats what were here for.

10 out of 10

Shaolin_3
Writer / Artist: Geof Darrow
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Variant Cover: Walter Simonson
Publication Date: October 09, 2013
Format: FC, 32 pages; Ongoing
Price: $3.99

- Johnny “PowPow” Powell

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Fatale: Death Chases Me

Posted on 02 October 2013 by powpow

fatale1Summer is over and All Hallow’s eve is around the corner lets start talking about some good books to get us in the mood for some good old fashioned pagan tree worship that will help us ward off harmful spirits, fairies, ghosts, ghouls and recently deceased godfather’s. If we are really going to be honest we’re all just hoping we get to see a bunch of chicks dressed in really slutty costumes and eat a metric butt-ton of candy.

I’ve got an an even better idea, lets come up with our own comic. We all love crime lets start out with that. Let’s just for fun toss in the Occult, Lovecraft horror, nazi killing detectives and just to make things spicy lets add in a knockout seemingly immortal bombshell of a woman who can make men fall in love with her instantly. Sounds fucking awesome right? Well you’re too late Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips already did that book and its bloody amazing and I’m here to tell you why.

fatale4Fatale is one of those books thats so hard to read in single issues and lucky for you this book is over a year old now and all the issues are finally out and collected in trade! So you won’t have to suffer like some of us did waiting for this book month to month. Which is a glorious thing. So yes you’re a little late to the party here but it’s a hell of a party and you don’t want to miss out (I mean there a chicks dressed really slutty at this party you should be there).

So here’s the basic outline Nicolas Lash is at the funeral of the reclusive enigma author Dominic Raines his godfather when he meets Jo. Jo tells him of her grandmother and Dominic’s undying love for one another. Nicolas is immediately stunned by her and finds himself unable to even move from the spot after only a few words from her. He later returns to his godfathers estate and finds an unpublished manuscript dated before any of his other work was even published. He is then attacked, saved by jo and nearly driven off a cliff by her and ends up losing his leg in the hospital with vague memory of Jo saving him and putting the manuscript back in his hands. Nicolas then gets then gets the chance to read the manuscript. Inside it is a photo of his godfather Dominic and woman who looks amazingly like Jo.

fatale3That’s just the first ten pages and only one of the six or seven perfectly interwoven stories that are involved in Fatale. I honestly don’t want to share anything more than that suffice it to say it gets messed up pretty damn quickly. Nazi-Cult killing detectives, ritual occult sacrifices, the mafia and marital infidelity are all in the next ten pages and it only gets better and better. It’s crime written so well it will make you wish for a movie but secretly hope it never gets made or the book is heard of by anyone but you. Brubaker masterfully steers you the reader in nine different directions all at once without making it feel difficult or forced. The way he ties things together is so brilliant there is really no other term to describe it other than epic. Some of my favorite comics of all times are Brubaker comics for this reason. I used to really think Frank Miller was the champion of the crime boner but he’s been dethroned a long time ago now and Brubaker is king.

Sean Phillips art is the perfect fit for such a tale as well every panel is a wonderful treat to behold. Dave Stewart’s does the colors on these books and it has to be said that his pallete is such a wonderful companion to the whole series not too bright very drab and evocotive the pages give you the creepies the shock and the intensity of an expertly crafted film and without any motion this is why comics are so great and the story your head reading this book is perfectly in sync with the one being shown to you by these masters of their craft. I’ve heard a few people in the past complain about Phillips style but the work he does with just a few lines where others would use seven just goes to show how spectacular and gifted he really is.

All in all this is one of those books I’m not just casually recommending as a good read. This is a title I’m claiming you need to own. This book is one you HAVE to have on your shelf and should truly consider as a book you should give to a friend who is interested in comics but thinks all comics are just about garfield or scooby doo. This book will knock that person’s dick in the dirt. I really think you’ll be doing yourself and that dude with the dirty dick a huge favor by going out and putting this one in your collection. You should do it soon so you’re just in time to start collecting the single issues of the same team’s upcoming book Velvet!

- John Powell
 
Fatale: Death Chases Me
Image Comics
Writer: EdBrubaker
Art: Sean Phillips
$14.99 ($3.50/issue)

 

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Batman 66

Posted on 19 September 2013 by powpow

 

BATMAN 66 #1 CoverLRBefore I’d ever even read a comic, I knew I would like comics. Wait. What? How did you do that Old man Powell? Because dear reader, I would ride my huffy home from school as fast as I could to watch the classic Batman series on channel 14 that started at 3:00 (the same time school let out). I generally only missed a few minutes each day, because I was flipping motivated to watch that show. My entire schedule revolved around it for several years of elementary school. I think that speaks volumes of how maybe I’m wired but maybe a bit to how good the show was, considering it was already nearly 30 years old when I was watching it. Try watching it now that its nearly 50 years old and I bet you catch yourself saying “Holy insert inane catchphrase related to whatever the current situation is here, Batman!” in no time. I even downloaded a few of the old shows (They unfortunately aren’t available on netflix or hulu) to check and sure enough I was still just as enamored.

batman 66 banner

Imagine now that 1966 lived on perpetually forever and Adam West and Burt Ward didn’t look like the crypt keeper or use a cane to get around (He is 85 for god’s sake). Batman 66 is an all new series by DC and is re-done as the batman TV series in comics form. Now, they can all live forever and Lee Meriwether only gets hotter as the time goes by. All of the rogues gallery is back as well including my favorite The egghead who was played by Vincent Price.

I’m of the school that the dark and brooding Batman is kind of tiresome at times and I often get a little sick of  Bruce Wayne crying over a portrait of his family. I often think back to my initial idea of Batman presented by the show and kind of long for that to be back in the comics. Just Batman and Robin doing a ton of zany and madcap stunts they like to do. That may seem a little childish to some but these are comics and don’t we read these to connect with our past a bit? This is a great connection. Check out the insanely awesome covers by Mike Allred. Do you really need more of a recommendation than that? Honestly look they even drew the Joker with Cesar Romero’s trademark mustache underneath the white makeup!

I can’t say enough good things about the art either. It’s colored magnificently and a lot of moire effects (those dot patterns from old comics) are added to make it look like the grainy good time 60′s printing that made comics of that era so classic. You’ve really got to see it if you’re any kind of a fan of old school art done really, really well. Two stratospheric thumbs up for the time they’ve plunged into this wonderful book.

This is a great light-hearted read that will make you remember why you liked comics in the first place. Maybe make you remember you liked comics even before you liked comics as well. It’s well worth your $3.99 and might just be the highlight of your hold. Especially considering that the real reason you picked up most of it this month was to re-live your 1993 dream and buy a bunch of 3d lenticular covers of villains that are being re-booted yet again into something that takes itself way too seriously and probably doesn’t feature a single “WHAMMO!” in the whole damn thing.

The third issue just came out yesterday (Sept 18th 2013) so there’s plenty of time to pick it up and get on board.

- John Powell 

Written by:
Art by:

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What I’ve Been Reading: HIT by Bryce Carlson and Vanessa R. Del Rey

Posted on 11 September 2013 by bryton

Hit #1

Drums in my brain. Jaw bruised from the sock Teddy Dubbs gave me at that no-account Chinese dive. Not that I didn’t deserve it. Not sure whose bed this is and even less sure that I want to find out. Open my eyes, slowly. A Studebaker flashes its high-beams right at me. No, something else. It’s the sun. Been a while since I’ve seen that old friend.

Oh hey! Bryton here. Salt Lake Comic Con left me feeling good about the future of the local comics scene, but the Con Flu (it’s thing, look it up in any medical journal) left me feeling awfully bad. As a result I missed a day of work and the latest episode of the podcast, but being laid up did allow me to catch-up on a lot of comics, and I read a lot of good stuff. One book that felt like a particular revelation was HIT, on BOOM! Studios.

I’ll save you some trouble if you don’t feel like reading the whole review: Like James Ellroy? You know, L.A. Confidential and all that? Pick up HIT. Like the video game L.A. Noir? Roman Polanski’s Chinatown? Pick up HIT. Like the movie Gangster Squad? I don’t know. I didn’t see Gangster Squad.

HIT is set in the seedy underworld of Mickey Cohen’s Los Angeles. Mob-rule is stronger than the courts, it seems, so the LAPD runs a super-secret hit squad of its own lead by Harvey Slater, taking out the bad guys that the justice system can’t touch and leaving no witnesses. Slater is everything you’re looking for in a pulp-protagonist: tough-as-nails, cool-as-ice, and quick with a quip. We don’t see too much of his partners but get enough of a glimpse that they flesh out the story nicely. And of course there’s a femme fatale in Bonnie Brae, a blonde bombshell who knows her way around a shotgun and sets the plot into motion.

Bryce Carlson writes. From what I gather he’s primarily an editor at BOOM! and this seems to be his first foray into writing a wholly original series. In 22 pages he manages to create a world that feels familiar and hits all the right notes for a pulpy noir gangster story, without making it feel like a standard, by-the-numbers homage. The 1950s Los Angeles Gangster Story has been told thousands of times. Personally I’m not sure I’ll ever get sick of it but it’s easy for this kind of story to have a “been there, done that” feel. HIT doesn’t have that.

Vanesa R. Del Rey provides the art (with Archie Van Buren on colors) and boy is it a doozy. Her loose, scratchy style perfectly evokes the smokey bars, the neon reflected in the rain-soaked streets, the palm trees and street lights standing as mute sentinels over the grim brutality below. Her art style wouldn’t feel out of place in a print ad from that time period. Perhaps if I knew more about design I’d have a name for it. I don’t know of her doing any other sequential work but there are a lot worse ways to spend your time than checking out her Tumblr, especially if sexy illustrations of sexy dames is your thing. With this book she went from an artist I’ve never heard of to one of my favorites, and I hope to catch up with her at a convention someday and grab some original art from her!

By all accounts HIT did well at the comic shops, but hopefully you can still find a copy on the shelf and if you do you should grab it immediately. It does a more than admirable job filling the hole left by Brubaker and Phillips’ Criminal, without feeling like it’s stuck in that books shadow. Above all else, maybe the very best praise I can give it is that I simply cannot wait to see what happens next.

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Superior Spider Man Review – Re-birth for Parker, Octavius and Powell.

Posted on 27 August 2013 by powpow

Superior spider man written by Dan Slott with artwork by Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos, and Giuseppe Camuncoli.

Superior spider man written by Dan Slott with artwork by Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos, and Giuseppe Camuncoli.

Superior Spider Man Review

This is what has brought be back into comics. All I had been reading for months on end, year after year, were the absolute turds of comics. So I just dropped them all, stopped picking up my hold, and read Harry Potter books or whatever it is people who don’t read comics do. Black Ops 2, really let’s be honest.

This one was the one that pulled it out of the dumper for me and brought me back to the beautiful incandescent lighting that will forever burn a hole in your mind and make you still spend $3.99 of your hard earned dollars month after month even though you’re 37 years old.

The meat and potatoes of the is book is the premise that Otto Octavius implants his mind into Peter Parker’s body. Then he just let’s Peter die in Doc Ock’s shattered old man body. However, Peter is still alive in his memories and tries to affect him and his judgements throughout the series. By Doing this, Dan Slott has just made Spider-Man his own greatest Nemesis. Otto is an interesting guy in my opinion. I feel like he was previously this kind of blustering mad scientist, who could never get it right. He would be on the verge of victory on many occasions but some long diatribe about how mind-blowingly badass he was, always gave Parker the time to put a spider-bomb in his butt and blow his plans sky high.

Now you get to see he’s actually really brilliant and is quite a capable opponent to spider-man. I’m left wondering why there weren’t battles with him previously that were a lot closer, or him even winning a few. Dan Slott’s take on Octavius has really seen him take it up a few IQ points. Otto’s mind is working even faster now that his body can keep up. No wonder he used to need six arms to do all the things he had on his mind. He’s going to need it too, as he’s determined to be a Superior Spider-Man than Parker ever was. He’s even trying to be a better Parker too.

Superior Spider-Man Review,

Now this change doesn’t go completely un-noticed by everyone but the people closest to Parker (I.E. mary jane, co-workers, etc.). They seem to be mostly put off by Octavius’s abrupt manner and new found focus on work. While Otto’s pretty bummed that anything he does in the future will be credited to Parker, he still pushes ahead at work. He starts coming up with hella sweet inventions to help make the Spider-Man gig a whole lot cooler. I won’t give them away here, but it makes you start to think “yeah, why didn’t Peter think of that”.

He even goes back to school to finish Parker’s doctorate. He clearly can’t stand to not have the Dr. title to his name. The Avengers take note here too because Otto beats the balls out of some mostly harmless ding-dong’s that put a pie in J. Jonah Jameson’s eye. Octavius even straight up murders the life out of an escaped psychopathic killer named Massacre in public. Whoa, whoa, whoa! Spider-Man is now murdering mother fuckers? Yeah… shouldn’t this be a tip off?  Even Parker thinks “this is my get out of Doc Ock Jail free card”. However, the test the Avengers do on him,  just proves that he’s not a skrull and not being mind-controlled. They just chalk it up to the fact that he’s a changed man. Parker does manage to leave behind a really crappy drawing of Doc Ock and Spider mans face with arrows behind for the Avengers which they just assume Spider-Man sucks at drawing.

Parker is still in his brain all this time and for a while things get super creepy between him and Mary Jane. I’ve gone so far as to use the term “rapey”, when seeing the two of them out on a date. It’s just icky. But as soon as Doc Ock starts remembering Peter’s memories about Mary Jane, he sees that Peter really loved her. Therefore, he does too. I’m really glad to say he calls off the whole “lets date Mary Jane” thing, for her own safety. In my personal opinion, red-heads in the marvel universe should all die and stay dead (Jean Grey anyone?). So, now Doc Ock is now being tutored by a little person named Anna Maria Marconi. She cooks like his momma and he’s even made out with her once. So that’s not creepy.

Superior Spider-Man Review

There’s this great dichotomy going on with Doc Ock being the old asshole that he is and trying to be this better person. Also, having a new shot and not wanting to squander it. He even comes across some people, who as Doc Ock, he has injured and has seen how he’s impacted their lives. He uses his brain and powers to help make things right. On the flip-side, there’s also parts where Doc is a massive douche’. He runs away from fights because he’s getting hit in the face and just can’t see the reason he needs to take a punch to the face to be a hero.

Ramos’s art is great! If you aren’t familiar with his work, get up in the mix mang! I’ve seen a lot of people bag on it because it’s so stylized, but this is a comic book people! Spider-Man needs to be tweaked flying across the cityscape! I’m not super thrilled with the coloring in this book as its a little muted and not as vivid as I’d hoped it would be, but between Humberto Ramos and Ryan Stegman its always a great book to look at.

This is just the beginning and there’s so much more going on here. A lot of people are completely pissed about what’s going on here, but people were pissed about Heath Ledger being chosen as the joker too. So, I’m telling you to give it a shot. This is a great jumping on point, especially since Marvel has just collected the first five issues into trade. If a curmudgeon with a chicken farm living in Brazil can teach you anything, its that everyone is capable of throwing you a surprise. And that $3.99 is often the best thing you can do with your hard earned money.

Make Mine Marvel!

- John Powell

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The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire

Posted on 27 July 2012 by admin

The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire

The Underwater Welder
Written and drawn by Jeff Lemire

Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Pages: 224
Price: $19.95

I love Jeff Lemire, but I never thought he would be able to come close to writing anything as beautiful and well crafted as the award-winning Essex County. Essex County took years to write and draw and now Lemire is under contract with the machine that is DC and cranking out multiple stories to meet deadlines as fast as he can. Not that that is bad since his creator owned Sweet Tooth and the half a dozen other books he writes (Animal Man, Justice League Dark, etc.) are such top notch. I just know to really create a masterpiece it needs to be a passion project that is free from rushed deadlines. Luckily for us The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire is just such a book.

The story follows an young underwater welder named Jack Joseph who lives in a small town off the coast of Nova Scotia. He lives there with his wife and they are expecting their first child. Jack is scared about the possibilities of becoming a father and uses his work on the oil rig to run away from his fears. But as he dives he begins to find his fears are much bigger than he can hide and has something he can’t explain happen that leads him on a path of discovery that teaches him about life, memories, and his relationship with his own father.

I was not surprised at all to learn Lemire spent four years between projects working on writing and drawing this book. Reading The Underwater Welder I was amazed at how well crafted it was. Lemire fills his characters with so much emotion and truth that any reader could find multiple things to relate to. Lemire also goes back to his roots and abandons color in favor of black-and-white. His line work is really on display here and I forgot how much I loved his brush strokes and the way he renders his characters. He also uses an ink wash on certain pages as a story telling device which really help create a specific tone for his story.

The Underwater Welder is filled with everything fans of Essex County will love. While Essex County might always be the work that Lemire is most remembered for, it is nice to know Lemire is still doing work that is really close, if not equal to, the caliber of rich and layered storytelling he won so many awards for. Everyone owes it to themselves to check out The Underwater Welder.

-Sean Leslie

Order The Underwater Welder from instocktrades.com.

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