Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Huge Block of Reviews of Arrden & Atlas Comics

Entertainment
FLASH GORDON, COMEBACK KINGS, MINX,
GRIM GHOST, PHOENIX,  and WULF Reviews

 
FLASH GORDON: INVASION OF THE RED SWORD #2(PART 2: THE MISSION)

Writer: Brendan Deneen
Artist: Eduardo Garcia
Publisher: Ardden Entertainment

“I guess I should be surprised that you're still alive, Ming, but I'm not.” – Flash Gordon

A good follow-up to the first issue in this newest miniseries. Artist Eduardo Garcia settles in quite nicely on the art chores as we pick up on the cliffhangers of the first issue. The plot complication that scrambled the translators on Mongo so that the various races and tribes could no longer communicate is quickly resolved and Ming moves to the forefront.

I continue to really enjoy the pacing and storytelling in Arrden's FLASH GORDON comics. Vultan is developing into a favorite and plot points to pick up on are well laid regarding his relationship with his daughter. Likewise, Dale is proving herself to be a strong, attractive character fully justifying the attentions of both Ming and Flash. That I'm inwardly rooting for Ming is a sign of a well-developed villain.

This issue adds more depth to Ming's background and makes the reader almost clamor for an unlikely partnership between Ming and Flash against a common enemy – the humans who are invading the planet Mongo.

I look forward to what comes next and recommend this series and the trades of Arrden's previous FLASH GORDON series.

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THE COMEBACK KINGS #1
Writers: Matt Sullivan & Gabe Guarente
Artist: Ethan Young
Publisher: Ardden Entertainment

“The fame justifies the means!” – Jean-Luc Lambert (before blowing himself up live on television)

Okay. Not so hip to this one. Billed as a “dark satire.” I get the “dark” part, but I'm not feeling the “satire” part. It seems right now like just a “gag” project--the type of thing that a couple of guys might come up with while sitting around a beer tower at a hotel bar after hours at Comicon.

Anybody else seen “Bubba Ho Tep”, where an aged Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy still live and have to team up to take down a resurrected evil Egyptian mummy? It's good stuff. Played straight, but a very dark comedy/horror flick that (I think) is growing in cult status. Well, this is sort of spiritually in the same ballpark but instead of Elvis and J.F.K, we have Elvis and Bruce Lee and Jim Morrison and Andy Kaufman and Tupac Shakur.

It's Project Resurrection and an older Bruce Lee has to come out of hiding, for some inexplicable reason, and “get the band back together.” In this case, the “band” is the above odd grouping of dead celebrities who, in this comic, faked their deaths.

I wanted to like it. The art is pretty good, though very inconsistent in the look of the characters. It was almost like the artist couldn't decide from page to page whether our “celebrities” were supposed to look the way they looked when they “died” or actually age them by the decades that they should be. Plus the appearance of Tupac seemed especially out of place and the interaction between him and Bruce Lee was just odd and implied some kind of a past relationship that didn't quite gel with the timeline as best as I could tell.

Now, if it had been played a bit broader with a go-for-broke style comedy (like, say, BLACK DYNAMITE) I could probably appreciate it more. However, I think I could tell when something was intended to be funny...but it wasn't working for me. And especially, I didn't see the “satire.” What exactly is being commented on here? I get that it's a funny thought that these (and the big “surprise” not-dead celebrity) are actually out there functioning like a super-secret A-Team of dead A-List Celebrities (though Kaufman would be the oddball there). But beyond that, I lost interest about halfway through.

I give it a “B” for effort, but a “C-” in the end.

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MINX #1
Writer/Artist: Andrea Grant
Publisher: Ardden Entertainment

“Where do humans go when they dream? Does the soul leave the body and wander in another dimension? There is an urban legend which claims if you die in DREAMTIME you'll not awaken in real life. THIS IS TRUE. It's the reason the gods never dare to slumber sound.” – Andrea Grant

This comic intrigues me. I find Andrea Grant's art very good; in fact, I am an instant fan! And I love that she is aspiring to touch something deeper, more primal, and archetypal than your average comic book. That intrigues me.

Apparently Grant is a member of a Native American tribe and she is building this comic book around a certain spiritual worldview that believes and accepts that there is a dream dimension that we live in during our sleep. In our waking hours, we lumber along through the world of the mundane, but when we sleep we enter a world of fantastic possibilities and adventure but also horrific dangers.

Minx is the story of a woman who seems able to blur the dimensional lines and is attacked by a creature from the dream dimension and nearly killed. Instead, she spends the next seven years in a coma. In the comic, she closes her eyes in one panel and opens them in the next and it is seven years later.

Her struggle to adjust to the world and her relationships when seven years have passed for everyone else but merely moments have passed for her make a good set-up for her story. I may be inferring too much, but I get the impression based on the way this issue wrapped up, that she has quite a lot of history built up in the dream dimension called “Dreamtime” from the last seven years asleep in a coma and it is not going to be an easy transition back to the world of the mundane.

Her story is one of two worlds and I want to read more of that story. Check it out and see if you agree.

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GRIM GHOST #2
Writers: Tony Isabella & Steven Susco
Artist: Kelley Jones
Publisher: Atlas Comics

“The Fringe. It's a world wrapped around and within the living world, a place where lost souls seek their ultimate fates.” – Michael

Better and better and better. The first issue of GRIM GHOST was good. This second issue is better. The pacing picks up. The art gets more expressively dark and moody.

Michael, the man who has passed from this world into “The Fringe” but can't remember his past, begins to...remember. At the same time, we get the backstory that was missing from the first issue as to the earthly relationship between Dunsinane (Grim Ghost) and the evil, demonic Braddock.

And the thing is, neither of the three come out smelling like roses. They are all flawed yet powerful, and morally nebulous. Braddock is the most outright cruel and evil, but both Grim Ghost and Michael show aspects that reveal that they are willing to be less than holy themselves in order to accomplish their purposes.

I'm hooked. Really enjoyed it. There's something about the look and feel of this series that evokes the nostalgia inside of me but is as modern as anything else out there.

GRIM GHOST, like the other Atlas Comics titles, is solid, good comics and well worth taking a look and committing your time and energy.

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PHOENIX #2
Writers: Jim Krueger & Brendan Deneen
Artist: Dean Zachary
Publisher: Atlas Comics

"You should have killed me when you had the chance!” – Max

I don't have much more to say on this title other than, if the first issue intrigued you, then this issue does not disappoint.

The art is gorgeous. The storyline a bit harrowing when putting yourself, as the reader, into the footsteps of Ed Tyler and his resurrection nightmare. He's on the run from the aliens who were killing him repeatedly and just trying to stay alive and sometimes failing at that.

This is a comic that hits the ground running and never stops running. It is over before you realize it and leaves you on another great cliffhanger moment. The mystery is not only unfolding but deepening with the appearance, almost Constantine-like, of a mysterious “detective” who seems out of place but also knows much more about what is happening to Tyler than he should.

I continue to be impressed by the way the characters react to this situation and I noted the first inclusion of a reference to Detective Lomax from the WULF comic to tease the reader with knowledge that these Atlas characters do indeed co-exist within the same world.

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WULF #2
Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Nat Jones
Publisher: Atlas Comics

“I let you down. Ever steady, ever strong, always by my side. Rest well, my friend. Rest well.” – Wulf (saying goodbye to his dead horse.)

Saving the best for last, WULF ran away with the Atlas prize this month. Simply put, the synthesis between writing and art was complete once this team had their footing after a somewhat lighter-paced first issue.

This one really does have it all. A sword-wielding barbarian with an honor code, a hard-boiled New York police detective, terrifying bloodthirsty other-dimensional monsters, and a horribly disfigured powerful evil wizard.

With a radical twist on the “buddy cop” formula, I really dig how Niles is developing the relationship between Lomax and Wulf. There is a real sense of sadness in Wulf, the Barbarian, who has lost everything (seemingly) and Lomax picks up on this and reaches out to him. He can see the good heart within. However, in a shocking scene, Wulf demonstrates violently how he still is a barbarian raised in a world where brutality rules the day and is the first choice when confronted by evil.

The desperation and depravity of the villain in this story is dark and tortured--perfect for the tone of this violent but entertaining comic book. Not for the faint of heart though.

The writing rocks this comic and the art is just slightly primitive enough to give it a look and feel of something other-worldly.

I recommend WULF highly. This was my favorite comic of the past week.


Remember....A VOTE FOR ME IS A VOTE FOR AMERICA, COMIC BOOKS, and.....THE CHILDREN!

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