It’s Tuesday and that means BULLET REVIEWS!!! Quick looks at recently released comics. If you’re having a light week, maybe something here will catch your attention! This week: Alabaster: Wolves #4, Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe #1, Earth 2 #4, Extermination #2, Transformers: Regeneration One #82, and Uncanny X-Force #28
ALABASTER: WOLVES #4 (Dark Horse Comics)
Just about the best comic series on the market, and even though this issue is mostly devoted to exposition, it just plain moves. The way Steve Lieber has albino monster-slayer Dancy and former-werewolf, current-ghost Maisie walk or stand or sit says so much about their characters: the former is awkward in her skin and suffering a crisis of faith, the latter carefree and confident. Lieber also letters the series, and when he appropriates Tex Avery’s Wolf from Red Hot Riding Hood for one of his word balloons it’s easy to see why, given that he makes the dialogue part of the art rather than something he has to work around. Caitlin Kiernan’s gothic plot snakes through history, charting a path of rural decay from the Civil War to present with a pit stop in the 70s, all coated in Rachelle Rosenberg’s grimy colors to add a tactile quality to Lieber’s artwork. Dancy sweats from the Southern heat and a possible infection in her arm, pondering Bible passages as Maisie reveals more of the sordid history of the town they’re trapped in. Too often, a comic’s setting seems to exist only as a projection on a screen behind the characters, separate from the action, but here it seeps into the story and the characters. Its fate is intertwined with theirs like barbed wire, and as with any fiction descended from Poe and Lovecraft, you can’t escape fate. -Andrew Taylor
DEADPOO KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE #1 (Marvel Comics)
Another “What If…?” style story in the ‘tradition’ of Marvel Universe Vs. Wolverine and Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher only this time…
The story, as told by The Watcher, begins with Deadpool killing the Fantastic Four. After taking out the guys, Deadpool has his head exploded by Sue. But, since this is a What If…? and obviously taking place in a reality where Deadpool (DP from here on in) still has his healing factor, well, Sue ends up on the pointy end of his knife.
From there The Watcher tells of what happened: The X-Men have finally captured DP and have decided to take him to get some help. What they didn’t know what the man they took him to see is actually Psycho Man in a human sized robot body. His plan this time is to mentally break then control the villains in a bid to take over the world (I love old school stuff) but things go horribly wrong when he tries to break DP. DP’s regular ‘voices’ disappear and are replaced by a sinister looking ‘voice’ with a red dialogue box. The new voice pushes him to kill Psycho Man (highly entertaining) then burn the place down, killing unknown numbers of captured villains, including The Leader, before going after the Four.
This issue ends with a rather amusing back and forth between DP and The Watcher…that doesn’t end well for one of them!
I have to admit, I was a little burned out on DP for a while, I dropped all of his books some time ago, but I’ve always hoped Marvel would do something like this and let him cut loose and make him violently fun again. This series is for all the fans out there who have always wanted to see DP cut loose. Now, he isn’t as laugh out loud funny as he normally is, because this time he has a goal: Kill Everyone.
I was planning on only buying the first issue then Trade the rest but I think I may get all of these, besides the covers are sweet! –Skott Jimenez
EARTH 2 #4 (DC Comics)
Earth 2 feels a bit weird at times, but for an alternate universe type book from a newly rebooted publisher that’s probably to be expected! The book has a brand new world to build, and the freedom to play by its own set of rules. We’re four issues in and Earth 2 is still making introductions, but the plot is developing parallel to them and the cliffhangers are keeping things snappy. The premise here is that we fought back an alien invasion in a pyrrhic victory that cost us our greatest heroes, and now a new generation must emerge to combat an even greater threat. I love seeing new variations on an old theme, so the remixes they do with the characters and their powers and costumes etc are a lot of fun, and so far nothing has been too cringe inducing or blasphemous. The dialogue can be really awkward at times, I’m not going as far as to call it “bad” per se, but the exposition doesn’t blend well into any way I imagine people talking, even super powered ones in strange situations. The Atom has the best lines of issue four, and one of the most hardcore introductions of any character. This makes for a sharp contrast with the wide-eyed Flash or sickeningly sentimental but very endearing Green Lantern. Even after thinking it all out as I wrote this Bullet Review I can’t put my finger on exactly what makes this book feel so strange to me, but I do know that I can’t put it down and Earth 2 keeps me coming back month after month. –Scorpion Moon
EXTERMINATION #2 (BOOM! Studios)
With Irredeemable and Incorruptible properly ended and retired, I need a new book to fulfill my unorthodox superhero craving. Extermination doesn’t have the depth of either of those two yet, but so far it’s doing the job quite nicely! The basic premise has former superhero Nox and former supervillain the Red Reaper, who are both now former arch-enemies, working together to survive the wasteland of an alien invasion apocalypse. The old rules of right and wrong have given way to one new unifying rule – survival – with our hero clinging to them harder than most others. Red Reaper is obviously better suited to living in this kind of world, so most of the moral dilemmas are thrown at the Batman-esque Nox. Nox’s mental state seems questionable at best already, and one of the fun debates to try to answer by the end of this will be how much of that is due to the stress of his new situation, and how much was inherited in his character? Extermination is a perfectly paced book that makes use of quick turns in the plot, for example just as it has you agreeing with Red Reaper’s take on a certain events, it decides to show you just how ugly they can be. Would you cannibalize a human being with regenerative powers? Remember we’re in an extreme survival situation, and if this is just an early example of how extreme the storytelling can get, then we’re in for a heck of a wild ride in this comic book’s world! The action can be a little hard to discern at times, I often have to scan back and ahead over panels to figure out what just happened, but the art style in general seems to have just the right personality for this series. -Scorpion Moon
TRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE #82 (IDW Publishing)
The covers says ‘DINOBOT MONTH!’ but there really isn’t much in the way of Dinobot action here. Grimlock is heading to the planet Nebulos in hopes of regaining his ability to transform as well as find a way to help his final Dinobots. Shortly after arriving he finds himself in a fight for his life.
The real story here is on Earth: Megatron has conquered it and apparently all but wiped out the human race.
After shooting down The Wreckers, he sends his Decepticon army to find them, Autobots of any kind are rare on earth, and this is when we learn the humans aren’t the only thing he’s messed with: He lobotomized his Decepticons. All but Starscream. So, we have Megatron, Lord of Earth and leader of mindless Decepticons hunting down the Autobot Wreckers who survived the crash landing and it seems he actually wants them to contact Cybertron. He’s itching for a fight with Optimus Prime!
The thing that frustrates me with this series is I only wanted to grab the first issue of it. But it’s really good. The continuation of the Marvel series works better than I thought it would. Though, when I think about it, it may also be because I can still recognize who the different characters are. Regardless, the writing is fun, it’s finally nice to see Megatron take over the world, and catching up with all the classic characters is great…well, maybe not as great for Ratchet but not everyone can be alright. Yeah, I’ll be adding this one to my list this week and ride it out to the bitter end!
Fans of classic Transformers should certainly be checking this out! –Skott Jimenez
UNCANNY X-FORCE #28 (Marvel Comics)
Three artists in four issues, none of which being Jerome Opeña. Perfectly sums up the complete and utter failure of Marvel’s double-shipping policy to do anything but squeeze readers of dollars. Julian Totino Tedesco has a few shining moments where he uses minimalist, white backgrounds as the characters talk, the most striking of which is a Wolverine/Deathlok panel where their shadows practically leave a black stain on the soul. After the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants have decimated X-Force and killed Fantomex (who died saving Psylocke the previous issue in a rare touching moment), what’s left of the team escapes into a future where their “kill first, ask questions never” policy–the end result of a team that consists of Wolverine and anti-heroes that followed his footsteps (including Deadpool and alternate universe Nightcrawler)–has made the world into a nightmarish, Minority Report-style dystopia with shades of rendition and the assassinations that play a role in the War on Terror.
This latest Days of Future Past retread is of little interest, but highlights Rick Remender’s introspective look at the violence inherent in these characters and modern comics (which readers claim to dislike as they lap it up, a Geoff Johns paradox), then extrapolating their hit squad dynamic to its logical endpoint. It’s a diversion from the main plot, the Brotherhood trying to nudge Apocalypse’s teenage clone towards becoming another genocidal madman, that reminds us our “heroes” are walking on a tightrope snapping under the weight of their conceit (Fittingly, team conscience Psylocke runs across one). Tedesco is better than bland Mike McKone and about on par with Phil Noto, but X-Force really is and should be Opeña’s show: without his dirty style, paired with also-absent Dean White’s colors, this is a series running at half its potential. –Andrew Taylor
And that wraps up another week! Let us know what you think about these books. Do you agree with our Bullets? Disagree? Now’s your chance to speak up! We have that comment section below just for that reason, you know.
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