Archive for October, 2009

The Goon Vol. 8: Those That Is Damned

October 29, 2009 | Trades

The Goon Vol. 8: Those That Is Damned Eric Powell, Gris Grimly, Kyle Hotz, Herb Trimpe, John Arcudi, Bob Fingerman Dark Horse Books $15.95 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) The Goon may be a big, nasty mobster, but he fights the good fight. He's taken on evil scientists, zombies, monsters and countless other things that go bump in the night in a neverending battle to protect his town and its people without batting an eye. But when the Goon finally learns the truth about his town and his role - that he's doomed to a life of pain and to keep battling evil as long as he stays where his is - will he lose his resolve and finally hit the road in search of true happiness? Five-time Eisner Award-winner Eric Powell masterfully delivers a pivitol chapter in the brilliant Goon saga, featuring the long-awaited origin of the mysterious Buzzard, the secret history of the Goon's hometown and a showdown between the hero and his nemesis, Labrazio. As a nice little bonus, Those That Is Damned also includes some diverse and enjoyable Goon short stories from MySpace Dark Horse Presents #6 by the likes of Gris Grimly, Kyle Hotz, Herb Trimpe, John Arcudi and Bob Fingerman.

Secret Six: Unhinged

October 26, 2009 | Trades

Secret Six: Unhinged Gail Simone, Nicola Scott, Doug Hazlewood DC Comics $18.99/$14.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) They are the least likely group of do-gooders you'll ever find; five of the nastiest thugs, torturers and killers around. Craziest of all? They're called the Secret Six. And to kick off their new ongoing series, they're going on a little road trip. Okay, a long road trip. To hell and back. Star writer Gail Simone (Wonder Woman) re-teams with former Birds of Prey artist Nicola Scott and inker Doug Hazlewood to get this series rolling as Catman, Deadshot, Scandal Savage, Ragdoll and Bane take on a fat contract to bust fellow super-villain, the Tarantula, out of jail in California and then drive her to Gotham City. The catch? Someone's taken out a $10 million bounty on the Six to make sure they don't get there and every other bad guy in a mask is foaming at the mouth to collect. Can even a snazzy new sixth member of this band of mercinaries (they change with every story arc) keep them alive long enough to reach the East Coast? And if they do, is the secret the Tarantula possesses so powerful it can turn the Six on each other? Nobody does down and dirty DC bad guys quite as well as Gail Simone and she's truly in her element with the Secret Six.

Killer of Demons

October 22, 2009 | Trades

Killer of Demons Christopher Yost, Scott Wegener Image Comics $12.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Dave Sloan has either been given an extraordinary gift by God or he’s gone completely insane. Possibly both. Everywhere he looks, Dave sees demons — like straight-out-of-the-pits-of-hell demons — and a little angel named Uriel is floating around after him telling him to kill them all. The catch is that nobody else can see that these demons for what they are — they look just like regular folks — so Dave’s behaviour seems to everyone else like those of your average serial killer or, you know, mass murderer. Rising star writer Chris Yost (X-Force) and artist Scott Wegener have a gory good time following the conflicted Dave as he figures out his role in preventing hell’s rise on earth as he looks to lop off the head of the horns-and-hooves crowd: His boss. Killer of Demons is a great idea, executed with bloody fine precision by Yost and Wegener.

Masterpiece Comics

October 19, 2009 | Graphic novels

R. Sikoryak has blended Bordeaux with Budweiser — and it is delicious. At first glance, the melding of subjects in Sikoryak’s Masterpiece Comics (Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95, 64 pages) — some of the finest works literature has to offer with mainstream comic books and strips — seems simply ludicrous, worthy of only a few titters at its outlandishness. But consider that the best works of the likes of Kafka, Voltaire, Dostoyevsky and Wilde are the Bordeaux — something that is easily accessible, but that not everyone takes the time to truly appreciate — and that newspaper strips like Garfield, Peanuts, Ziggy and Blondie and comic series like Batman are the Budweiser — requiring a less educated palate and enjoyed by a much more diverse audience. Both are equally good and worthy in their own right and since there’s nothing wrong with partaking of them separately, why can’t they be enjoyed together? What makes Sikoryak’s fine fusion work so well is how he's able to find such ideal matches between classics and strips. Candiggy, a two-page piece featuring Ziggy in Voltaire’s Candide perfectly captures the acknowledged angst of Tom Wilson’s little, bald strip star, while also highlighting the inherent cynicism of the French master’s work. Good Ol’ Gregor Brown, with Charlie Brown starring as a boy transformed into an insect a la Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis also seems to flow together seamlessly, somehow pushing past the initial absurdity and presenting the most identifiable qualities of both the Peanuts star and tortured salesman, Gregor Samsa. The very best of Masterpiece Comics is "Waiting To Go" starring Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead as Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. In one simple page, Sikoryak absolutely nails the essence of both the timeless play and the snickering cartoon slackers. (This review first appeared in the Toronto Star)

Dark Entries/Filthy Rich

October 19, 2009 | Graphic novels

Vertigo is pulling out a pair of big guns to get the lead flying on its provocative new crime imprint. Dark Entries (Vertigo Crime, $19.99 U.S., 216 pages), a supernatural mystery set against the twisted world of reality TV, featuring Vertigo mainstay John Constantine, is penned by Scottish noir master Ian Rankin. The gritty black-and-white art by Werther Dell’Edera, best known for his work on Vertigo’s Western, Loveless, fits the mood set by the author of the Edgar Award-winning Resurrection Men to a T. Brian Azzarello, who established himself as one of the best writers in comics with his Eisner Award-winning Vertigo series, 100 Bullets, pens Filthy Rich (Vertigo Crime, $19.99 U.S., 200 pages), a noir that follows a former football star’s descent into a seedy world of sex, drugs and violence after becoming personal bodyguard for his rich boss’s daughter. Spanish star Victor Santos provides the lush, inky Frank Miller-esque art. Vertigo Crime promises to keep rolling out the heavy artillery as well, with upcoming releases from Denise Mina, Scottish author of the popular “Paddy Meehan” novels; Waterloo native Jon Evans, award-winning writer of Dark Place; and American Jason Starr, an award winner for Twisted City — all of whom are sure to keep this new brand on the forefront of readers’ minds. (This review first appeared in the Toronto Star)

PVP: Awesomology Vol. 1

October 19, 2009 | Trades

Scott Kurtz might call it lowbrow meets high class. The creator of the popular web comic, PVP, is always quick to mock the perception of his work by graphica elitists, but the fact is this Eisner Award-winning strip rarely fails to bring the laughs with its fine mix of pop-culture observations and off-the-wall action. And the series has never looked so good as it does in PVP: Awesomology Vol. 1 (Image Comics, $100 U.S., 600 pages), a massive, slip-cased hardcover collection of most of the first six years worth of strips, along with concept sketches and bonuses galore. (This review first appeared in the Toronto Star)

Spawn: Endgame Vol. 1

October 19, 2009 | Trades

The rumours of Todd McFarlane’s demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated. The one-time king of comic book artists, responsible for several of the bestselling single issues in history, returns with a flourish to one of his greatest creations in Spawn: Endgame Vol. 1 (Image Comics, $14.99 U.S., 132 pages). As co-writer alongside Brian Holguin and eye-popping inker, over fellow Image Comics founder Whilce Portacio’s pencils, McFarlane helps set a new direction for his hellish character with the apparent suicide of long-time protagonist Al Simmons and the rise of a mysterious new Hellspawn to take his place. (This review first appeared in the Toronto Star)

Brit Vol. 3: Fubar

October 15, 2009 | Trades

Brit Vol. 3: Fubar Bruce Brown, Nate Bellegarde, Andy Kuhn, Robert Kirkman Image Comics $16.99 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) Alas, poor Brit, it seems we hardly knew ye. Well, actually, in the end, I guess we do. This cornerstone character in fan-favourite writer Robert Kirkman’s corner of the Image Comics universe — alongside Invincible, the Astounding Wolf-Man and Tech Jacket — managed to survive just one measly year as star of his own book, in spite some pretty interesting stories filled with snappy dialogue by scribe Bruce Brown and accompanied by very nice art from Nate Bellegarde and Andy Kuhn. Brit does not, however, go quietly. This nigh-indestructible hero returns from the dead — ho hum — to battle aliens, monsters, other heroes, family members and, oh yeah, himself, travelling to New York City, the South Pacific, the moon and a parallel Earth all before kicking back, settling in on the couch and finally revealing the secret of how he got his powers. All in all, it’s a pretty fine send-off. Though hopefully not the last we’ve seen from Brit.

Sleeper: Season Two

October 12, 2009 | Trades

Sleeper: Season Two Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips Wildstorm/DC Comics $29.99/$24.99 US (Paperback) **** 1/2 (out of five) The spymaster who can prove Holden Carver has always been a sleeper agent inside a deadly criminal organization and is not a heartless international terrorist is back from the edge of death. The question is: Will Carver be the first one in line to try and push him over that edge now? After shockingly accepting his fate and embracing his criminal life at the end of Season One, Carver quickly finds himself back in his familiar role as the rope in the tug of war between John Lynch — the theoretical good guy — and Tao — the purported bad guy — in Season Two. After Lynch awakens from a coma he wastes no time in trying to turn Carver back to the side of angels — and he’s got more than just a get-out-of-jail-free card to offer up. He’s got the thing Carver wants most of all. This absolute masterpiece by the Eisner Award-winning team of writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips (Criminal) delivers action, intrigue and betrayals galore and concludes with a shocking, almost tragic ending that somehow seems perfect for this dark classic.

Back to Brooklyn

October 8, 2009 | Trades

Back to Brooklyn Garth Ennis, Jimmy Palmiotti, Mihailo Vukelic Image Comics $14.99 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) Bob Saetta is about as scary a person as you could ever meet. Of course even crooks like Bob have their limits. After discovering a horrible secret about his brother, Paul — the head of the Saetta crime family — Bob is ready to give everything he knows up to the police. Just one condition: His wife and son have to be brought into protective custody with him. When Paul finds them first, Bob makes a backroom deal with the N.Y.P.D. and the F.B.I.: He’s got two days to go back to Brooklyn and find his family before a world of law enforcement comes looking for him. The result is five incredibly violent and gory issues of action and mayhem, twinged with black humour as only writers Garth Ennis (Preacher, Punisher) and native Brooklynian Jimmy Palmiotti (Jonah Hex) — well aided by the gritty art of Mihailo Vukelic — can deliver.