Thursday, June 23, 2011

Comic Quickies

Screamland #1:  I really thought Screamland had a lot of promise; A comic starring Pulp-style movie monsters who are out of jobs thanks to green screens and CGI, forced to try and make a buck by hitting the convention circuit...Seems like it would be in my ballpark.

Well, I was wrong. 

Apparently at the height of their fame, during an epic Hollywood style party, (think: pool, hookers, blow, alcohol, etc.) these movie monsters, who include a wolf-man, blob, swamp creature and robo-brain, made an orgy porno.  Flash forward to present day where they are all down on their luck and hard up for cash.  The Invisible Man decides he's gonna release the porn, and try to drum up some publicity.  Oh, and some monsters die.

That's about it.

Even though the plot is razor thin, I could have at least made it to issue #2 had the characters been anything more than caricatures of what we already expect from these pulp creatures.  The Wolf-man snarled a lot, the robo-brain was a Nazi prick, the Blob just wanted people to be his friend.  There just wasn't anything that jumped out as unique or interesting about this comic, and the decision to not pick up another issue was pretty damn easy.

 Green Wake #3:  There's comics like Screamland, and then there's comics like Green Wake.  The former is a total let-down and the latter just manages to creep you out, tug at your heart strings, and leave you dazed, confused and itching for more.

To say that Green Wake is a slow burn style story is a bit of an understatement.  Writer Kurtis Wiebe has done a knock-out job of feeding teeny-tiny little nuggets of long-lusted after information at just the right moments.  Not only that but he's created an incredibly intriguing murder mystery tale, and placed the whole story in a town that is a huge mystery in and of itself, aaand filled that town with characters with mysterious pasts.  That's a lot of mystery.

Riley Rossmo has gotta be one of the most unique comic artists out there.  His art is not immediately the most accessible stuff, but it is work that rewards close scrutiny.  Because there is a lot of plot packed into each issue, and I'm usually incredibly anxious to see what burning questions get answered in the issue, I have to force myself to slow it down and really cover each panel.   As great as Wiebe's writing has been in this series, Rossmo's art has been crucial to setting the atmosphere that makes Green Wake breathe with life.  Taking the time to really enjoy the art makes Green Wake all the better.

Blue Estate #3:  First off, the covers for this series have been some of my favorites of the year.  Shirtless Uzbek drug dealer sitting in a zebra skin chair?  That's a winner in my book.

Blue Estate is starting to feel like the comics version of say a Cohen Brothers or Guy Ritchie film.  Large cast of characters, most of them shady, desperate, or ruthless, a plot with lots of ins and outs, great dialog and a mix of violence and comedy.  So far I've been enjoying the ride.

Lucky for me things started to click for me this issue.  Though I enjoyed the last two issues, I sorta felt lost in all the events that were going on.  In this issue I started to make the connections between specific characters, and what they are up to, and how they fit into the grand scheme.

I think the art mash up that happens each issue is at least a little bit responsible for my confusion.  There's been a gang of artists that attack each issue, and during the issue, the artist can switch at any given moment, which means characters can look at least a bit different from one page to the next.  The slight alterations have given me a bit of a challenge, but I think my learning curve is starting to level out.  Definitely a comic that'll require a straight read through once the whole arc is out.

 Mystery Men #'s 1 and 2:  These issues were a total impulse buy at the comic shop this week.  I was nearly out the door with my weekly purchases, when another customer asked me if I had checked out Mystery Men.  I hadn't, which meant I had to at least give it the flip-check.  The in-store description I got was 1930's era Marvel Universe with pulp style heroes.  Going on that description, and a flip-check that revealed some sweet interior art I made the plunge.

The first issue is sort of the "get the team together" issue.  Which could come across as shitty, but it was actually well handled.  Dennis Piper, AKA The Operative,  is a Robin Hod style cat-burgler who steals from the rich to help out the poor, and oppressed during the depression.  His lady, Alice Starr is an up and coming actress who thinks some guy calling himself "The General" will help connect her with some Hollywood directors.

Unfortunately for Alice, The General, who runs a board of rich and powerful people who plot to oppress millions for their profits, kills her in a sacrifice to some sort of demonic creature that has promised to grant The General great powers.

The General, who has some crooked cops in his pocket attempts to pin the murder on Dennis Piper.  While eluding the police Piper discovers that Alice has a sister who might be the next victim.  As Piper attempts a rescue, which turns into an ambush, he and the sister, Sarah, get rescued by a mysterious guy who named The Revenant.

I will say that I enjoyed these first two issues, but there were a few things I could have done without: The Dirty Harry style catch-a-bullet-in-your-teeth shit was not cool, the cheesy ass way The Revenant speaks is kinda lame, and Sarah being essentially a female Rocketeer seemed a bit cheap.  The Revenant's style of speech turned out to be a plot point and now I'm fine with it, but the other things bug me a bit.  Still, I think these are worth checking out, and I'll be on board for the 3rd issue.

Rocketeer Adventures #2:  It is pretty much a guarantee that a week with Rocketer Adventures in the pull box is an automatic awesome week.  So far, this comic has amazed me.

Yes, this issue is awesome for the great Darwyn Cooke story and art.  Yes, it is awesome for the 8 pages of Gene Ha art.  As amazing as those two things are, and believe me they are amazing.  "Betty Saves the Day" by Cooke is a true gem, however they pale in comparison to the absolutely fucking ridiculously gorgeous pin-up by Geof Darrow.  (I couldn't find a picture of it anywhere on the interwebs, I'm sorry.)  Seriously, that double page spread is the coolest thing I've seen in comics this year.  I really hope it'll become available in poster-form some time in the future.  I wants it.

Anyway, all gushing aside, Rocketeer Adventures is great.  Each issue puts together an all-star cast of writers and artists that crank it up to eleven.  You don't need to have read the original Rocketeer material (I haven't, but I will sooner or later) to enjoy this comic.  It is simply great writers and artists doing some of their finest work with a really cool character.  Check it out!


Niall Alexander said...

Going to have to give this Rocketeer comic a go, I think. I'm in the same position as you are on this one, Ryan: I've never read any Rocketeer before, but you sound positively gleeful about this book, so consider the deal done.

And where I wonder should I have the store forward your 5%? :)

Ryan said...

Niall- I doubt you'll be disappointed. So far in the first two issues the standard has been set with strong writing and top notch art. Its fun to see the different directions people go with the same characters.