Bullet Reviews #28: New Avengers Annual, 50 Girls 50 and More!
Even though all the attention seems to be on the DC reboot, there ARE other comics out there and here is just a small sampling of them: 50 Girls 50 #4, New Avengers Annual #1 Ninjas Vs. Zombies #3, Punisher #3, Zombies Vs. Robots: Undercity #4 and Red Skull #1!
50 GIRLS 50 #4 of 4 (Image)
Frank Cho and Doug Murray’s sexy space saga for Image Comics reaches the end of its first act. The courageous and curvy crew of the ESS Savannah has been lost in space while trekking to strange new worlds, all the time fulfilling their mission, while trying to find the way home. It’s been a fun ride. The story has for the most part, this series has done a fine job playing with classic sci-fi themes and elements, all the while keeping it fresh.
For those of you who might have missed the first three issues, Earth has run dangerously low on natural resources and has to turn to the stars to find them. Luckily a Faster than Light engine that uses wormholes is discovered. The only drawback is no one with a Y chromosome can survive the trip. So the world sends 50 of its best women out into space in 10 ships to save all of life on Earth.
The final issue in the first miniseries was a little disappointing, where past stories used classic plot elements from famous science fiction film and TV series, I felt that a huge part of this issue reminded me from a third season episode of Farscape, where two ships, one organic, and one technological crash and merge while traveling in a wormhole, and then after the ships are separated, and the Savannah actually manages to find the way home, only to have to dive back into the wormhole to save Earth from the threat of alien attack, to once again be lost (if they even survive).
There is more to this series than T’n’A and classic sci-fi homages, and while this chapter is done, there are still plot threads left hanging. What is the status of Earth? Have any of the other ESS crews succeeded in their missions? What is going on in Oksana’s head? What is the Evil? These are all questions that will have to wait until the next 50 Girls 50 series-The Exile
NEW AVENGERS ANNUAL #1 (Marvel)
This issue concerns former villain turned hero turned villain, Wonder Man, who is basically miffed that The Avengers exist. He blames them for creating escalating violence and mayhem, seeing them as the cause of the problem, rather than the heroes the world sees them as. Along with some former superheroes and anti-heroes, he forms a team called The Revengers to take them out. The obligatory Brian Michael Bendis chattiness takes a back seat, for the most part, to Gabrielle Dell’Otto’s gorgeous art, which is the real star of this issue. Bendis does what most experienced comic book writers do in action-oriented throwdown stories like this: He writes to compliment the artist, rather than force them into the way he wants the story to go. This is all action that actually means something, rather than just mindless fighting. While I don’t think Wonder Man’s change in heart rings true for the character I knew and grew up with, there is plenty of philosophizing to go around that makes this issue a fascinating read. I just think another character should have been used to tell this story. Wonder Man’s reasoning is sound, to a point, but it’s too dumbed down for the great character he used to be. Very uncharacteristic, despite his flip-flopping between hero and villain over the years. The cliffhanger at the end leads directly into Avengers Annual #1, which should contain a similar type of story. This annual also has a lot of stuff books like this should contain, such as huge pinup-style page spreads contained within the story. All in all, a worthy read that takes a look back at Avengers history and hints at the implications of the future. -Eric Scroggs
NINJAS VS. ZOMBIES #3 of 4 (Azure)
This has become a rather interesting adaptation of the movie Ninjas Vs. Zombies. While it goes along, for the most part, with the story in the movie…it also focuses on each character individually. The first three issues have progressed the story but from each characters unique perspective. Not really a bad thing but it comes from the thinking that everyone has seen the movie. Granted, mostly those of us who are fans of the movie will know about the comics, much less buy it, but as they say: every comic is someone’s first.
So, the problem remains that this isn’t new reader friendly. That may make this a hard sell. What I will say is if you’re familiar with the movie, and if you aren’t you SHOULD BE, then you will certainly want to read this series. It’s basically the same thing over and over but from different points of view and gives a little more insight into our Ninja cast. If you aren’t familiar with it then you need to run out and rent or buy the first one (while you’re at it, grab the sequel: Ninjas Vs Vampires) and watch one of the most entertaining low budget movies I’ve seen in a very long time. The comic, then, will make a bit more sense. Otherwise, I would recommend waiting for the trade.
This issue, by the way, focuses on Fitz. He’s a man trying to prove himself. He’s a hard worker and tries to be the best he can be. The narrative is told by Ann, his…girlfriend? They have something going but it’s rocky. Anyway, she tells us more about the man and expresses much regret in not being more supportive of him before his rather messy demise. It moves to fast to be touching but does a very good job at setting up possible future stories.
Also, this issue has a great teaser image of Ninjas Vs. Werewolves advertised to be released starting on October! Basically, this is a series for the fans! -Skott Jimenez
PUNISHER #3 (Marvel)
Writer-Greg Rucka Artist-Marco Checchetto This new take on one of my favorite characters has taken a couple of issues to lay the foundation and get the story setup. I am happy to report that in this third issue, the action finally kicks into high gear.
In the last issue Frank Castle let a small time hood named Liam escape his clutches, in the hopes of tailing him to bigger players in the criminal organization known as “The Exchange.” Little does Frank know that he was also walking into a trap. The Vulture crashes in and rips the Punisher out through the window.
That is where we are now, and the ensuing fight, high in the air above the city lasts this entire third issue! The battle is wonderfully illustrated, with what looks like a mix of traditional line-work, brushes, and occasional photo-realistic city scenes in the background.
So far Rucka hasn’t written the Punisher as a chatty fellow. In fact, aside from a few random grunts during the fight, Frank Castle only speaks one word this entire issue! This tends to lend the character a dark and mysterious quality that is much more welcome than having him spout cheesy one-liners. In this issue a hospitalized Marine Sgt. Rachael Cole-Alves finally stirs from her bed. Nora the reporter learns of the struggle between the Punisher and the Vulture via the internet, and sets out in pursuit to scoop a hot story. But this issue isn’t about Cole-Alves or Nora the reporter. This issue is about high-flying ass kicking, so sit back and enjoy the battle.
The story in Punisher #3 is a little short because the final 9 pages of this issue have been set aside to reprint material from A Moment of Silence and Heroes in memory of 9/11. This short comic has no words or dialogue, but is surprisingly powerful. –Robb Orr
ZOMBIES VS. ROBOTS: UNDERCITY #4 of 4 (IDW)
With a fresh perspective on exactly where in the timeline this takes place, after Infestation #2 but before Zombies Vs. Robots #1, we wrap up the ending of one of the more insane installments of the ZvR series. Basically: EVERYTHING goes pear shaped in this issue, following the destruction of Undercity by first the insane Rev. Ironwood and his Godbots which allowed the zombie hordes to infest Undercity, killing almost everyone inside it, we are down to just a few survivors.
Two of them, Omen Strong and Janvier Couer, make their way to the surface with the mad Rev. hot on their tail. They are joined by one of the molemen who also invaded Undercity since it was in their underground world. (There’s a lot going on here but it all makes sense somehow) Meanwhile, two other survivors Shields and Yarnell have been taken in by the molemen and made their queens and prevent a failed rescue attempt by their now former boss, Ric, before he’s killed and make him a very special offer.
Meanwhile Omen, Janvier and the Moleman have to try to contend with the mad Rev. while trying not to draw the attentions of the nearby zombies. Some quick thinking on Omen’s part saves all three of them and puts the good Rev. in a very high situation. But not for long!
I’ve been following IDW’s Zombies comics since before the ZvR series, I don’t think their previous ones tie into these but the ZvR run is fantastic. It’s written by Chris Ryall who knows how to inject new blood into the zombie concept and the art, be it Ashley Wood or Mark Torres, is fantastic and truly sets the tone for each story. I honestly hope there is a lot more to come! -Skott Jimenez
Previously… (something that you might have missed and probably should check out):
RED SKULL: INCARNATE #1 is a new limited series from Marvel, following the early life of Johann Schmidt. Now I am always skeptical when an offshoot is made, especially one regarding such an evil and malicious villain. My worry is they will try to make the villain into a tortured soul and evoke sympathy. The first issue of Incarnate doesn’t appear that way. We see a young Schmidt who lives in a orphanage/sweatshop, forced to do menial work for an overbearing boss. The man looks on at the socialist left with disgust. He embraces the Nazi right wing party and makes Schmidt and his friend do the same. Schmidt’s friend brings a puppy, which he warns him about, as the old man would surely punish them. Which he does, but only Schmidt. As the Nazi party marches down the street one day, a riot breaks out and Schmidt escapes and is caught by the local dog catcher. He wants to become ruthless and feared. The dog catcher tells him to shake his morals he must start now, and tells him to put the puppy down. Johann now must make a choice that will change the course of his life.
While nothing ground breaking, it is a text book case of a developing sociopath. And that’s what Greg Pak set out for. He did his research and learned about serial killers and about German history before and during World War 2, in order to obtain authenticity. And it shows, the only problem I worry about is will this read more as a history lesson than as a comic book? Mirko Colak delivers some good artwork in the book, nothing really spectacular but it serves it’s purpose. The cover by David Aja is epic, I bought the book solely on the cover and was quite happy with the story. It’s a 5 part series so hopefully they don’t stray the course. -James Halstead
(**Check the Bullet Review of Issue 2!**)