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Posts Tagged ‘Wildstorm

So, a couple days ago over on DC’s The Source blog, they put up a weird cover for a “Red Lantern/Red Arrow” cover tribute to Neal Adams’ Green Arrow Vol. 2 #76. I saw it, kinda went “Well, that’s odd,” and left it at that. Being a gigantic nerd about the show Fringe (to the point where I’m nerdily excited for Wildstorm’s upcoming Tales From the Fringe book), I was psyched for last night’s season finale. And then I saw that cover, along with four others on a wall behind Peter. The Source is going to reveal them in detail later today, but I kiiiinda got some sweet screencaps and figured, screw it, let’s look at them a little early.

From what I can tell, there’s alternate universe tributes to the covers of George Pérez’s Crisis on Infinite Earths #3, Dan Jurgen’s Superman Vol. 2 #75, Neal Adams’ Green Lantern Vol. 2 #76, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns #1, and Kevin Maguire’s Justice League #1. Awesome!

Check out The Source later today to see the covers in full detail.

20. Kick-Ass – Mark Millar & John Romita Jr.

Any list of the last decade’s top writers would have to include Mark Millar. Famous for his work getting Marvel’s Ultimate Universe off the ground and for horror-satire-mind-f***s like The Unfunnies, Millar had already made his mark by 2008, but it took the creator-owned gem Kick-Ass to cement his name as a true creative juggernaut. Kick-Ass capitalized on that bit in every fan-boy (or fan-girl) that wants to know what it would REALLY feel like to be a hero. Featuring smart dialog, plausible scenarios (mostly) centered around teenage angst, and some of John Romita Jr’s best art to date, readers have been held on the edge of their seats since February 2008 and loved every minute of it. Readers loved it so much in fact, that Millar garnered a Hollywood movie deal for his story before the damned thing was even finished. We at High Five! Comics may sit a little uneasy at the thought of Nick Cage fronting another comic inspired film, but we can’t help but applaud Millar and Romita Jr for the near universal love for this story.

– Maggie

19. Planetary – Warren Ellis

Apparently, to us High Fivers, this was the decade of Warren Ellis. And if there was any book to sum up this decade for Mr. Ellis, it would be Planetary (if not for the fact that it took the whole damn decade for all 27 issues to come out). Basically, it’s about an organization funded by some secret guy called the Fourth Man, doing whatever they can to save the world and record its bizarre history. What I love about Planetary is that most of their adventures involve some sort of literary character (or, if not public domain, and homage to a literary character) in an attempt to, in Warren Ellis’ words, “take everything old and make it new again.” Sherlock Holmes, Godzilla, Doc Savage, and even a character similar to his own Spider Jerusalem pop up to either help or hinder the progress of our heroes.

John Cassaday’s art is compelling; much as his work in Astonishing X-Men, every page is so detailed and beautiful that it’s hard not to get engrossed in every panel. Planetary’s cover art is interesting as well, with each issue done in a different style (with no consistant logo) as a means of fitting in with the subject of the interior story.

Now, I haven’t read (and am slightly wary of) the Planetary/JLA and Planetary/Batman crossover books, so I can’t really attest to whether or not those are awesome (I mean, they’re also penned by Ellis so they gotta be okay at the very least) but, as for the main story, I highly recommend picking it up (and, hey, the last few issues are out in trade form come March).

-Rob

18. Captain America – Ed Brubaker

I don’t want anybody else to ever write for Captain America ever, ever again. I know that seems kinda extreme, but I’m totally fucking serious. Between the constant references to the Golden Age books (so many amazing flashbacks to the days of the Invaders) and the unexpected twists on every other page, Captain America Vol. 5 is one of the most riveting books I’ve ever read. It also ended up being one of the most controversial. In 50 issues, Brubaker managed to bring Bucky Barnes back to life (he’d been confirmed dead since March 1964’s Avengers #4, over 40 years before), kill Steve Rogers (something so extreme that it was front page news here on Earth-Prime), allow Bucky to continue the legacy, and prove that the Red Skull is a fucking dick.

How fitting is it that Brubaker is also the man now resurrecting Steve Rogers in Captain America: Reborn? Granted, yeah, Steve’s only been dead for a few years so it might seem like a bit of a cop out, but even this is gearing up to be a bit of a tearjerker. I only wish that they would have kept Steve Epting as the cover artist for Reborn. Most of his covers during Volume 5 look a little like movie posters for 1960s exploitation films, a few of which even re-use art from Golden Age covers, and I love those damn things.

-Rob

17. WE3 – Grant Morrison

Take Homeward Bound crossed with Philip K Dick, and you have some idea of what WE3 looks like. WE3 is the name of a futuristic killing machine team that consists of a dog, a cat, and a rabbit in robot-enhanced bodies. They were created by the government to be assassins, and are the cutest killing machines you will ever see.  About to be replaced by a newer, larger and more efficient creation, they make their escape from government tyranny. Grant Morrison is often accused of overwriting- making his stories wordier and more detailed than they need to be. In contrast, WE3 is remarkably sparse relying heavily on frequent counterpart Frank Quitely to move the story. Even the dialogue between the animals, which could come off as hokey and “Mr. Ed”-ish in the hands of a lesser writer, make perfect sense here.  Despite the cuddly looking cyborg-animals, this not meant for kids. WE3 is dark, gritty, bloody and despite the look of its premise, very pro-animal rights. Quitely’s artwork is so expressive, especially with the interactions between the animals, it will jerk a tear or two from even the coldest heart. Morrison and artist Frank Quitely succeed at making dystopia warm and humane.

-Hava

16. House of M – Brian Michael Bendis

Cross-over Events are a giant fan-wank. Sometimes you get one that’s fun to read, and sometimes you get one scrawled in KY gel anticipating the collective fanboy  ejaculation. Good or bad, crossovers exist in the world of continuity and rarely tell us anything interesting about the characters involved. What is remarkable about House of M is that for all the continuity mind-f***ing, at the heart of it is a compelling story by Brian Michael Bendis about a father, his two children, and their love for and disappointment in each other. This gut wrenching story was backed by solid character scripts from a notably limited cast. By limiting his cast Bendis opened up House of M to a humanity that most other Events are sorely missing.

-Jonny

PlanetaryCoverThis week marked the end of another legendary comic book opus, Planetary, so it really seems like now would be the time to spotlight one of my all time favorite comic writers, Warren Ellis. While most writers embrace the theme of futurist technology, Ellis seems to take it, add many elements of transhumanism (essentially, using technology to enhance the limits of normal humans’ abilities), and rub it in your face. I’m pretty sure he spends all the time he could be spending at comic conventions staring at his toaster going, “Why the fuck can’t I do that?”

ExtremisFirst, let’s start with his work on a hero everybody knows. Before Ellis got his hands on Tony Stark in Iron Man Vol. 4’s  “Extremis” storyline, the Iron Man suit was cumbersome and took a good while to put on (or, in the case of Ellis’ own Ultimate Galactus Trilogy, took a team of dozens). And then Mr. Ellis decided, “That’s dumb! Gimme!” He had Tony Stark inject himself with a weird techno-virus that pretty much grafted the suit’s undershealth to his own bones and made it all thought controlled. Ever since then, instead of having to go over to the garage and put it on piece by piece (like a stupid human), Tony just has to think about putting it on and the Extremis Suit parts just fly onto him in, as Matt Fraction put it, “the blink of an eye.”

Desolation JonesAnother example of Ellis’ love of transhumanism is found in Wildstorm’s Desolation Jones. First off, this book is gorgeously illustrated by J.H. Williams III, on indefinite hiatus since the end of it’s first story arc, and grossly underrated. It tells the tale of Michael “Desolation” Jones, an alcoholic ex-MI6 agent who was proven a bit, well, unstable. The British government did a series of experiments on him (including not allowing him to sleep for a full year) and released him into Los Angeles. Although few details are given in the book about the experiments, he is branded a possible biological hazard and gains the superhuman ability to focus on things we normal folk couldn’t (such as watching a bullet whizzing past or hearing the displacement of air around a swinging crowbar). I seriously hope that once Williams is done with “Detective Comics,” he and Ellis could expand on this idea.

FogletHonestly, there isn’t enough I could ever say about my love for Vertigo’s Transmetropolitan (or its antihero protagonist, Spider Jerusalem, but that is beside the point). The City is a world where technology has progressed so much that it it has more or less perverted everyday life, allowing corruption to run rampant. Residents can take pills that immunize them from any and all cancers, alter their human DNA with alien genes to become “transients,” or just go all out and download their personality into “foglet” nano-machine clouds. Basically, the world of Transmetropolitan is a transhumanist’s paradise and, although critical of it at times, Warren Ellis’ scientific wet dream.

There is a ton of Ellis’ work I’ve yet to read (so, so many limited series) but there are definitely a lot of titles on my to-read list. One of these days I’m going to pick up Ignition City, Red, the Authority, and Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E., all of which are on my well-worn Comics Most Wanted list. While I round those titles up, I eagerly await the next futuristic Warren Ellis project.

Red Herring #1 started off stupid. There’s some chick named Maggie (Har-RUMPH!), who’s apparently a vapid slut; I mean, two pages in she cops to sleeping with her best friend’s boyfriend. Lovely. Twenty-teo year old Maggie MacGuffin goes on and on about shoes and clothes while gabbing with her mother – which we all do sometimes, but geez, not in my comics please! Somehow, this girl’s got a job as a congressional aide to a representative from Florida. Who she’s fucking. Lovely.
To be honest, I was ready to put this book down by the middle of issue #1. They used the word “ass” more times than the word “the.” Maggie (NOT ME!) literally spends a full page discussing her best friend’s ass. You start to wonder if the guy writing this has ever met a real live woman before.
Luckily, Red Herring doesn’t revolve completely around Maggie’s sexpottery. We’ve got the geeky, unfortunately named Meyer Weiner and the “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mena they’re not after you” titular hero/anti-hero/whatever Red Herring; both of whom are much more interesting at the outset than Maggie “OMG MAH ASS” McGuffin. Weiner is working for Red Herring in some capacity, but in issue #2, we’re still not sure what it is. Honestly, it’s Red and Meyer and the awkward position they seem to be in that kept me reading at all.
It seems to have paid off. By issue #2, it’s clear that spoiled Princess Maggie is ditzy not because she is, but because she thinks she’s supposed to be. Seriously, if Red Herring ever gets the Hollywood treatment, Reese Witherspoon is ALL over this. Maggie’s in-your-face whoring was, well, a red herring. The story isn’t about a nuevo-Monica Lewinsky and a couple of suits at the Lincoln Memorial. There is underlying conspiracy afoot involving the Roswell aliens, corporate gluttony, government corruption, and, for whatever reason, Red Herring and Maggie MacGuffin.
But Red Herring’s strength is in its pacing. This ain’t no set-em-up and wait ten issues to knock-em-down book. By issue #2, we’ve had extramarital affairs, kidnapping, aliens, corrupt government officials, and more then one near escape. This is The West Wing meets The X-Files, and to be honest I’ve got no idea which plot line I’m supposed to be following; which could either be really awesome or just godawful as the series progresses.
It’s also rad seeing Philip Bond do more “kill Your Boyfriend” style work while not under the influence of whatever Grant Morrison forces his artists to take. Bond’s art complements the absurdity (and occasional frat-boy humor) of David Tischman’s story, making some of the more bizarre or silly moments feel more organic than they might have otherwise.
Verdict? Red Herring’s a six issue series and I’ve already bought #1 and #2. I like it enough to keep going – there’s enormous potential here.

red-herring-1-cover1At first, Red Herring #1 seemed to have woken up on the idiot side of the bed. We open by staring smack into the boobs of some chick named Maggie (Har-RUMPH!), who is apparently a vapid slut; I mean, not two pages in she cops to sleeping with her best friend’s boyfriend. Lovely. Twenty-two year old Maggie MacGuffin goes on and on about shoes and clothes while gabbing with her mother – which we all do sometimes, but geez, not in my comics please! Somehow, this girl works as a congressional aide to a representative from Florida. Who she’s fucking- oh THAT explains it! Lovely.

To be honest, I was ready to put this book down by fourth page of issue #1. They used the word “ass” more times than they used the word “the.” Maggie (NOT ME!) literally spends a full page discussing her best friend’s ass. You start to wonder if the guy writing this has ever met a real live woman before.

Luckily, Red Herring doesn’t revolve completely around Maggie’s sexpottery. We’ve got the geeky, unfortunately named Meyer Weiner and the “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you,” conpiracy theorist and titular hero/anti-hero/whatever he is, Red Herring – both of whom are much more interesting at the outset than Maggie “OMG MAH ASS” MacGuffin. Weiner is working for Red Herring in some capacity, but in issue #2 we’re still not entirely sure what it is. Honestly, it’s Red and Meyer and the awkward position they seem to be in that kept me reading at all in issue #1.

It seems to have paid off. By issue #2, it’s clear that spoiled Princess Maggie is ditzy not because she is, but because (thank you, daddy issues!) she thinks she’s supposed to be. redherring_01preview-2-02Seriously, if Red Herring ever gets the Hollywood treatment, Reese Witherspoon is ALL over this. Maggie’s in-your-face whoring was, well, a red herring. This story isn’t about a nuevo-Monica Lewinsky and a couple of freaked-out suits meeting up at the Lincoln Memorial. There is a vast conspiracy afoot – involving the Roswell aliens, corporate gluttony, government corruption, and, for whatever reason, Red Herring and Maggie MacGuffin. Somehow, all of these characters are connected in the machinery of this conspiracy; and the groundwork for the whole tangled web is laid almost immediately.

Red Herring‘s strength is in its pacing. This ain’t no set-em-up and wait ten issues to knock-em-down book. By issue #2, we’ve had extramarital affairs, an ambush, a quasi-kidnapping, aliens, corrupt government officials and more than one near escape. This is The West Wing meets The X-Files and to be honest I’ve got no idea which plot line I’m supposed to be following. Which could either be really awesome or just godawful as the series progresses.

Seeing Philip Bond do more Kill Your Boyfriend style work while not under the influence of whatever Grant Morrison forces his artists to take (hurr!), is Basic RGBawesome. Bond’s art complements the absurdity (and occasional frat-boy humor) of David Tischman’s story, making some of the more bizarre or silly moments feel more organic than they might have in the hands of another artist.

Verdict? Red Herring’s only a six issue series and I’ve already bought #1 and #2. I like it enough to keep going, though anyone not already involved may want to wait-for-trade on this one.

I’ve been reading Red Herring with Newcastle (cos ohmigod did you know those mini Heineken kegs come with Newcastle now?), but something blended and pineapple based might work a little better.

North 40 is a redneck horror story, the story of the Hellmouth opening in the middle of Bumfuck, Egypt, without a slayer in sight. My family’s from the South, so when my mom (who recently read up through volume 11 of Fables, god love her) came over the other day, she starting looking curiously at the comics pile, like she does, and plucked up North 40.
“You know what’s wrong with this, right?!”
“Yeah, I know, Mom.”
“I-40 runs east-west! Not north-south!”
“Yeah, well demons or something are posessing the entire town, there’s a guy with three eyeballs, and some other dude literally bit someone’s head off, so I’m thinking directional misrepresentation is the least of their worries…”
My mother also once used one of my comics to fan herself –
“Mom! Not with the comic! Not with Batwoman!”
“Oh, hush.”
My mom rules. But I digress. I picked up North 40 #1 on our weekly comics run last month, mainly because… well, I-40 runs east-west. North 40 follows the trapped-behind-the-county-lines denizens of Conover County after a foolish D&D nerd and his goth girl buddy read some runes out of an ancient book. By morning, half the town is posessed, undead, growing extra eyeballs, or disintegrating into millions of bugs. But North 40 is more than just gross-out horror; author Aaron Williams has given us a regular gang of scoobies as well.
First there’s the sheriff, whose sense of duty is bigger than his paycheck. Then there’s Luanne, a waitress in the local diner who has somehow been gifted with premonitions. Wyatt, the trailer trash son of a drunk, risin’ above his raisin’ in a crisis. And finally there’s Amanda. Remember how I said there’s no Buffy? Well, there is a Willow and she carries a giant bloody scythe. I’ve read reviews complaining that North 40 moves too fast, but I think this complaint is at least somewhat born of the constantly shifting point of view.
Most of the violence in the book is implied rather than explicit. We often come upon the scene after the worst has happened, when one of the Scoobies walks in, which almost makes the book scarier. Fiona Staples’ art is almost story-board esque, in a good way – like a courtroom artist documenting the horror as it happens and getting the hell out of dodge.
North 40 is on DC’s Wildstorm imprint, but it feels like a Vertigo book. Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Dukes of Hazzard.

[At least once a month, we’re going to review a comic and tell you what to drink with it. Like wine & cheese snobs, except with comics. – M]

North 40 #1

North 40 is a redneck horror story, the story of the Hellmouth opening in the middle of Bumfuck, Egypt without a slayer in sight. My family’s from the South, so when my mom (who recently read up through volume 11 of Fables, god love her) came over the other day, she starting looking curiously at the comics pile, like she does, and plucked up North 40.

“You know what’s wrong with this, right?!”

“Yeah, I know Mom.”

“I-40 runs east-west! Not north-south!”

“Yeah, well demons or something are posessing the entire town, there’s a guy with three eyeballs, and some other dude literally bit someone’s head off, so I’m thinking directional misrepresentation is the least of their worries…”

My mother also once used one of my comics to fan herself –

“Mom! Not with the comic! Not with Batwoman!”

“Oh, hush.”

My mom rules. But I digress. I picked up North 40 #1 on our weekly comics run last month, mainly because… well, I-40 runs east-west, I was curious. North 40 follows the trapped-behind-the-county-lines denizens of Conover County after a foolish D&D nerd and his goth girl buddy read some runes out of an ancient book. By morning, half the town is posessed, undead, growing extra eyeballs, or disintegrating into millions of bugs. But North 40 is more than just gross-out horror; author Aaron Williams has given us a regular gang of scoobies as well.

First there’s the sheriff, whose sense of duty is bigger than his paycheck. Then there’s Luanne, a waitress in the local diner who has somehow been gifted with premonitions. Wyatt, the trailer trash son of a drunk, risin’ above his raisin’ in a crisis. And finally there’s Amanda. Remember how I said there’s no Buffy? Well, there is a Willow and she carries a giant bloody scythe. I’ve read reviews complaining that North 40 moves too fast, but I think this complaint is at least somewhat born of the constantly shifting point of view. The shuffling actually makes the pace feel a bit more frantic, a bit more terrifying – I liked it.

North 40 #2

Most of the violence in the book is implied rather than explicit. We often come upon the scene after the worst has happened, when one of the Scoobies walks in, which almost makes the book scarier. Fiona Staples’ art is story-board esque, in a good way – like a courtroom artist documenting the horror as it happens before getting the hell out of dodge.

North 40 is on DC’s Wildstorm imprint, but it feels like a Vertigo book. Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Dukes of Hazzard. Go on and spend the $2.99, fix yourself a Jack & Coke (or pop open a Bud Light, if liquor ain’t your thing) and enjoy.


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