Bullet Reviews #43: Peanuts, Godzilla and a Special Preview!
Each week, we at Comic Booked like to offer some quick reviews of the previous week’s books in hopes of introducing fellow readers to new books, especially if you’re having a small week!
This time around we have a special treat! First, we take a look at Godzilla Legends #3, Hellraiser #9, Peanuts #1 and Valen The Outcast #2! Then we share a special SNEAK PEAK at Dark Horse Comics Dark Matter #1 which comes out this Wednesday!
GODZILLA LEGENDS #3 of 5 (IDW)
Titanosaurus…well, I suppose if we’re going to be excited about IDW being able to use other Toho monsters in comics for the first time ever that we shouldn’t be overly disappointed when they use one of the lamer monsters…in my opinion. Titanosaurus isn’t one of the better known monsters, he made only one real appearance in the Godzilla movie series, Terror of MechGodzilla (1975). That movie was one of the lowest grossing of the series and was the last movie made for a decade.
Titanosaurus is an aquatic monster that is easily controlled, in the movie it was by aliens and in this books it’s by a boy with strong psychic powers. At first it seems as if the people wanting to teach people with mental abilities to hone their powers want to do so to help fight the monster menace but as the story progresses we learn this isn’t true at all. An alien race, looking for a new home, wants to take over the Earth and plans to use their MechaGodzillas (plural!) and monsters, including Titanosaurus, to do it!
One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about this Legends miniseries, besides seeing some other Toho Monsters, is the setting up of other stories. I only wonder if these stories will play out in the regular series or if we’re going to have various miniseries to cover it all. I also have to wonder if these are all taking place in the same reality. The movies are notorious for taking place in different timelines/realities that springboard from the original Godzilla and ignoring everything else.
But, fans of the regular series should be checking this out, plus the Art Adams covers all connect! -Skott Jimenez
HELLRAISER #9 (BOOM! Studios)
Pinhead as we knew him is no more. Captain Elliot Spencer stands in his place and Kirsty is now High Priest of Hell!
That doesn’t mean Elliot gets to do his own thing. No, if he wants to have some good to help him get into heaven then he’s going to have to help Tiffany (from Hellbound: Hellraiser II) locate, and destroy all the other devices of Phillip LeMarchand be they Puzzle Boxes or whatever form they take.
But how do you track down such devices? Well, that’s simple: You simply have the right guy cut the head off a crow and carry it around in a bag. When you get close to something of dark magic…it moves! Nothing more convenient than that!
While Elliot has a few choice words to say to Jesus in church, Tiffany is out searching for a LeMarchand Configuration and comes across a brothel where she appears to be too late!
Chains everywhere and people having sex while hanging from the ceiling and missing bits of skin, it’s a lot to take in and obvious that she’s too late to stop the Cenobites from arriving… Especially when the leader of the Cenobites arrives announcing that Tiffany is hers! How is the Kirsty/Pinhead going to react to seeing Tiffany? What about he pledge to end the suffering caused by the Puzzles and Hell? This series just keeps getting more and more interesting and is a treat for fans of the first two movies! -Skott Jimenez
PEANUTS #1 (kaboom!)
Peanuts is one of the most prolific comic strips of all time, the characters of Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Lucy grace every possible item, from greeting cards to plush dolls. And how can we ignore the classic holiday specials, It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas, as well as many other animated specials? So BOOM!’s decision to start a Peanuts series was a sure-footed one. But seeing as how the series would include all new material, BOOM! had a rather heavy legacy to live up to. Now that the series has hit the stands, it’s safe to say they did well.
The first issue of the new series features three classic Peanuts strips in addition to three new stories. Seeing Charles Schultz’s strips back in print is refreshing. Granted, the series is still available in print in newspapers across the country as well as numerous print collections available from retail establishments. But the inclusion of the strips into the title was a great step by BOOM! and shows a measure of respect to Schultz’s estate. Even the new material is well done, capturing the sweetness and sentimentality of Schultz’s brain child. Were it not for the longer format of the stories, and the credits on the very first page, readers would be hard pressed to tell the difference between Schultz and the new writers. It’s a great credit to writers Vicki Scott and Shane Houghton to be able to capture the spirit of the characters, holding true to the memories of the audience that grew up reading Peanuts.
All in all, it’s nice to see Peanuts in print again. Though the series will likely only appeal to current fans of the characters, it makes for a nice, light read if you’re looking for a change of pace. Not everything needs to be huge fight scenes, scantily clad females, and muscle-bound men punching each other in the face. There’s a reason why Peanuts is so recognizable and thankfully, BOOM! was able to portray the sweetness that fans can expect from Peanuts in this series. -Michael Wirth
VALEN THE OUTCAST #2 (BOOM! Studios)
Valen Brand, the once king of Oakhaven, continues his quest to find Korrus Null, the evil necromancer who stole his soul, leaving him as one of the undead. With only a drunken swindler and a vicious warrior who is as skilled with a sword as she is a tattoo needle at his side, Valen faces the forces of two armies, but has the resolve to remain focused on his oath to destroy the necromancer.
Conan The Barbarian meets The Walking Dead, Valen the Outcast is a well crafted story. Writer Michael Alan Nelson manages to make the main plot of the book exciting, while also throwing various hurdles at his characters. In this issue, Valen, Zjanna, and Alexio Cordovan get caught in the middle of a feud between kingdoms. Though the book takes a sudden turn from its purpose, it manages to maintain the same intensity, keeping readers hooked on the characters. With such a bold premise as a revenge quest, Nelson needs to pace the story out, yet find a way to keep things interesting. He’s managed that quite well within the first two issues, opening up subplots without losing sight of the main goal.
But it’s not just the story that’s interesting but the characters as well, specifically Zjanna. Between the first two issues, readers get a small sample of what she’s capable of. But where did she come from? Why does Valen order her to cover her tattoos when confronting opposing armies? By the end of this issue, we get to know a little bit more about who she is, but all that does is leave us wondering even more.
Matteo Scalera’s art works extremely well on the title. Though often cloaked in shadows and covered in blood, Valen stands as a brute on the pages, as imposing as his legacy suggests. Scalera uses a lot of motion to draw the eye in various directions, which makes his battle scenes enthralling and easy to follow. And though Zjanna’s design has her clothed in very little, Scalera makes the skin seem less gratuitous.
BOOM! Studios made some big promises when announcing Valen the Outcast, and so far, they’re following through. Though I can’t comment on the longevity of the idea of a zombie king battling for his soul, I can say that from what I’ve seen, Valen the Outcast is a heck of a fun ride. Can’t wait to see what Nelson, Scalera and BOOM! have in store for the future. -Michael Wirth
And now, a special look at an ALL-NEW series from Dark Horse Comics:
DARK MATTER #1
A lone ship floats in space, seemingly abandoned. When the ship’s life support systems run dangerously close to failing, six people spring forth with no memory of who they are or how they came to be on the ship. But when they discover a mysterious seventh passenger, they are still left with no idea of what’s going on.
Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie have established a nice sci-fi story in Dark Matter. Though a bit of a strange beginning, with characters so blank, they don’t even have names, Dark Matter can turn down any direction. So far, there’s no back story to get muddled in, no unnecessary info dumps. Readers are as clueless about the characters as the characters are, meaning surprises can come from anywhere. The story doesn’t need to fall back on revealing origins or character motivations and can concentrate on the events as they unfold.
The art fits nicely with the book. Garry Brown’s style is sketchy and dirty, creating an atmosphere of confusion, helping to illustrate the character’s sense of being in the dark to the readers. However, his loose style does no favors with emotions, each face showing many of the same blank expressions. Though Brown gets spot on with some panels, others fall flat, pulling the reader from the story.
As a new title, Dark Matter has a fairly strong opening chapter. In addition to a solid main story, Mallozzi and Mullie introduce snippets of side plots that are intriguing enough to captivate readers. Even the plight of the characters, figuring out who they are and what their purpose on the ship is, is enough to lure readers back to the story. While not perfect, Dark Matter is worthy enough for at least another issue. -Michael Wirth (Dark Matter #1 is available at finer comic shops everywhere January 11!)