This time on Heroes and Villains, we’ll be looking at a variety of comics out this week and last, from a variety of genres. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #5, Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens #4, Bitch Planet Triple Feature #1, Kill the Minotaur #1, Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #2, American Gods #4, Harrow County #24, Geek-Girl #4, Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original #11, Normandy Gold #1, the Savage Dragon: Warfare trade, and the new book on Reed Crandall from TwoMorrows… This is a loaded week, so who cares about Secret Empire when we have so many other cool things to check out, be warned, there may be spoilers…
Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern
I look at this crossover and the next as a matter of fact and can’t help thinking, what were they thinking? Crossing Planet of the Apes with Green Lantern is certainly not the first thing that comes to mind when looking for a possible franchise for either to crossover with, yet here it is, and in its fifth issue from DC Comics and Boom! Studios. Any comic that begins with a juicy encounter between Sinestro and Dr. Zaius definitely has my attention.
From there, with no introduction to guide me from this point in its continuity I must read and learn. Apes have been given power rings of various colors, and Grodd is there, demanding command of those apes. Oh sure, there’s Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner in the mix as well, but could possibly resist a PotA crossover with Gorilla Grodd? I was spellbound. There’s Green Lanterns and Red Lanterns and Grodd fighting over the Planet of the Apes. I’m in, and seeking out the rest of this series, it’s a winner.
Also this week, in the spirit of mad crossovers, Dark Horse and IDW give not just Aliens and Predators, but Judge Dredd too. Is it Christmas? Because this has to be a gift. Aliens are coming to Mega-City One, so Judge Dredd in order to stop the apocalypse has enlisted a couple Predators to help him stop the incoming xenomorphs. The fun is made more fun by the sideplot of a mad scientist splicing human DNA with animal DNA, making for some interesting Alien hybrids. Not perfect but satisfying, could have been much better. I might be interested in the reading the first three issues of this.
When this series by Kelly Sue DeConnick first came out, my podcast partner Ray raved about it and tried to get me to read it, but I just didn’t get what the big deal was. As it says in the introduction to this trilogy of short stories from the continuity, in the future, troublesome and offensive women are sent to a prison world called ‘bitch planet.’ The tales represent one and done stories in an anthology companion to the main Bitch Planet series, and are impressive if sexist, but if I read this right, that’s the point, it’s a sexist world. I confess I dug this, and despite Ray, I might check out the regular series to see what it’s all about.
Kill the Minotaur
This comic from Image surprised me. As I breezed through the first few pages it seemed a Dungeons & Dragons-ish tale of retold Greek mythology, but as I read, it pulled me in. This was good, and better than I might have imagined. This is not just a visceral retelling of the minotaur myth, it is a complex breakdown and rebirth of that story, and Chris Pasetto and Christian Cantamessa do a fantastic job of it. This was well worth reading and I look forward to the next issue.
I wasn’t sure what this was at first, day-glo colors, Kirby dots, and a vibe that reminded me of Heavy Metal comics of the 1970s, but whatever it was, it was mental. Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality is like Jim Starlin and Jack Kirby got together after a bad acid trip and did a comic. There were places in the comic where I was like that’s brilliant, and places where I didn’t know what the hell was going on. Either way, it was compelling, worth a look.
Based on the book by Neil Gaiman and the hit TV series on Starz, this Dark Horse comic was a bit easier to understand. With story and words by Gaiman it follows fairly closely events known to both readers and viewers. Neil Gaiman always tells amazing stories, so it was interesting to see his translation into comics of the book and show. I liked this quite a bit, recommended.
Harrow County is a series that is quite popular on this site, JP Fallavollita in particular is a fan. The comic is basically a horror anthology where everything happens in the same place, anything you could imagine in the realm happens, and it’s all the masterwork of Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook. I had never seen an issue before #24 however.
As is suiting its origins as online prose, the story that begins with witches and a rain of burning frogs has its real magic in its words. And from there it just gets weirder, which seems to be the pattern of this week’s selections for Heroes and Villains. And yet, all the weirder it got, it still pulled me into the story, making me want more, and that’s what all continuing fiction should do, make you want more. Scary and messed up, and recommended, Harrow County is hot.
I had heard a lot of good things about this comic, but honestly I didn’t know what to expect of a superhero soap opera set in Maine. The art is fun, but the writing is very talky, and more time is spent talking about superheroing than actually doing it. Sometimes that can work. I’m not sure it does here, but as with other comics in this column, my curiosity was piqued, and I’ll be looking into more about these characters at the website found here.
Sons of Anarchy
I was a huge fan of Sons of Anarchy when it was on the air, even though it had good seasons and bad, and may have gone on longer than it should, like many of the comics I’m talking about here, the characters were so compelling that one might follow them through hell, or even Ireland, to see them. One thing I never thought I’d see my favorite bikers in however is in a comic, yet here it is.
I really dug this. As implied by the title Redwood Original, this is a prologue to the show, taking place when Jax was a teenager. There are lots of familiar faces brought to realistic life by artist Lucas Werneck. This is another series I will have to look into getting back issues of. If you dug the show, you’ll love the comic, recommended.
From Titan Comics in their Hard Case Crime division comes Normandy Gold #1. From the cover to the prose, this is classic pulp, and I loved it. Then it got to page seven and got a little too adult for me. It wasn’t the nudity or the violence that got to me, it was that we had to see it. Up until that point, the creators had been very cool with matching the words and pictures, then just for the sake of being graphic, they got graphic. The writing is top notch, but that too much too soon kind of ruined it a bit for me. Still I really liked this dose of 1970s female detective pulp, recommended with caution.
Back in the day I loved Savage Dragon, but you know why I dropped it? Writer and artist Erik Larsen started giving people crap in the letters column, yeah, back when there were such things. I remember him treating fans like shit and it turned me off. He might have only done it once or twice, or constantly, but it was enough for me to dump a comic I really enjoyed. Larsen was awesome, and like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, had built a superhero universe from the ground up. But I quit and never went back.
This trade collection Warfare is the first Savage Dragon I’ve picked up in well over two decades. It didn’t take long however for me to catch on to what I missed. There’s quite a bit going on in this collection that features not the Savage Dragon, but his son Malcolm, and also a team-up with Spawn and the Ant. Bottom line, I was entertained, even when it got political, which all things considered I didn’t mind because we agreed. If you dig Savage Dragon, you’ll dig this collection.
Coming out from TwoMorrows on July 19th, but available for pre-order here, is Reed Crandall: Illustrator of the Comics. If you’re a fan of Quality Comics of the Golden Age, especially Blackhawk, Doll Man, Uncle Sam, Captain Triumph, and the Ray, you know who Reed Crandall is, and would recognize his style immediately. For those who don’t, and especially those who do, this is the book for you. As usual, TwoMorrows does a fantastic job of covering every aspect of a subject, and in this case everything about Crandall from his years working for Busy Arnold to his days in horror and scifi to his work on Flash Gordon and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. This is another fine publication on comics and a must-have for your bookshelf.