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 Robyn Hood: The Hunt #1, Grumpy Cat/Garfield #1, Rom vs. Transformers: Shining Armor #1, Mech Cadet Yu #1, The Pitiful Human-Lizard #13-14, Rocket Girl #8, Redlands #1, Secret Empire #6-7 and more… be warned, there may be spoilers…
This comic picks up from the Robyn Hood: Tarot One-Shot I talked about here. I like the Robyn Hood character quite a bit. In my previous encounter with her I said that she out-Green Arrows Green Arrow. That statement is rather ironic when talking about this issue. Remember that Supermax film that was being floated around Hollywood a few years back? The one where Green Arrow was framed for murder and had to fight his way out through guards and super-villains? That’s kind of where The Hunt starts, with Robyn in an otherdimensional prison full of baddies who all want revenge on her.
This is more than derivative of a failed movie attempt, and it’s more than a comics version of Orange Is the New Black, this is a solid story with solid characters. I really enjoyed this comic. It’s very Bronze Age, and very superheroic. I’m going to give it my highest recommendation – tomorrow I’m going to my local comic shop and buy this issue and put Robyn Hood: The Hunt on reserve. In a world where anti-heroes rule, everything is so dark and gritty, and our greatest American hero is a Nazi, Zenescope is making comics for people who used to love comics. I loved this one.
Let’s be honest, both Garfield and Grumpy Cat have long overstayed their welcomes, the latter by years, and the former by decades, but if we’re going to have to read comics about them, why not bring them together, right? It’s a no-brainer. Anyone who’s ever read Groo knows that Mark Evanier is a great gag writer, and the gags are great here, but the problem is they try to make a story here, one that will last however many issues this series is. Not good. If it was a book of gags like the first few pages I would have dug this, but it’s not. I am relatively sure no good will come of the plot to make cats into dogs, especially these cats. More jokes, less story.
Transformers passed me by. I was in college and more concerned with other things when they rose in popularity, and afterward they just never caught on with me. Rom, on the other hand, was a favorite of mine in high school before I moved on from comics. It was a joy to see him return finally, and now, paired with the Transformers, also Hasbro products, while it’s not my thing, like Garfield and Grumpy Cat above, bringing them together was a no-brainer. Let’s just hope it works out better.
In the shadows of the wars between the Autobots and the Decpticons, and the Solstar Knights and the Dire Wraiths, Rom finds and rescues a Cybertoronian child, Stardrive, who is raised by the Knights. Disliked and outcast, she is the key in this story of clashing continuities. When the two powers can no longer occupy separate areas of space any longer, a treaty is attempted to be negotiated by the Knights, only to find that the Decepticons and the Wraiths are allies. I had only expected to like the Rom half of this crossover, but was drawn in easily. I liked this one and want more.
Mech Cadet Yu
While we’re on the topic of giant robots, from Greg Pak and Boom! Studios this week we have Mech Cadet Yu. Described as Amadeus Cho meets Pacific Rim, the premise has giant robots from space once a year come to Earth to pick young pilots so they can go fight terrible monsters called the Sharg. The kicker is that this time they picked the wrong kid, in the tradition of Red Dwarf and Spellsinger, they get a janitor.
Again, I was drawn into a new world, and unlike many comics out there, this is a world of wonder. I felt like I was exploring a new museum, looking at exhibits and imagining what the story behind them might be. Reading this comic about poor Sanford Yu, chosen by a broken down robot, and entering a new world himself, I was mesmerized. It was as if I was ten again, the real golden age of comics. I loved this one, must buy, must read.
The Pitiful Human Lizard
This one came out last week from Chapterhouse Comics, and has been getting a bit of buzz. I at first dismissed because of the silly title, but I was wrong, this one is a lot of fun, in the spirit of comics like Ms. Marvel and Wasp, and a couple titles above, this was old school, and a lot of fun. I’m talking about The Pitiful Human Lizard. He’s a part-time superhero with regenerative powers, firmly in the Chapterverse, and fighting crime and bad guys in downtown Toronto.
Issue #13 is almost exclusively on a streetcar dealing with and chatting with folks from the neighborhood as TPHL makes his way home after fighting aliens over in Captain Canuck. The continuity reminded me of early Marvel while the community reminded me of Karl Heitmueller’s Thunderstorm in Philadelphia in the 1980s. In the next issue, another homegrown hero, Lady Accident fills in and fights the Frustrated Four, while TPHL takes the night off to go on a date. This comic is a great find, an enjoyable read, and just good fun. I love it.
I’ve liked a lot of things this week, and I really wanted to like Rocket Girl, but without breaking down and consulting Google or Wikipedia, I really couldn’t. I picked up that our heroine, DaYoung Johansson AKA Rocket Girl, is fighting bad guys in the 1980s but is really from a couple decades in the future. Would it really have killed Image Comics to put a synopsis of what before somewhere in the issue? There’s a lot of negative space on the indicia page where it could have gone. On the good side, I loved the art by Amy Reeder, very slick and action-oriented. It kept me turning pages when the words failed me. A+ for the art, not so much for the rest of the package. Remember, every comic is someone’s first, welcome them and give them the keys to the new kingdom, don’t let them wander blind.
This one is also from Image, and it should be more welcoming, as it’s a first issue, I hope. But not really. I liked it though, a horror comic that goes for the jugular, and I appreciated that. This was cinematic, horrific, suspenseful, and tense, like a good horror comic should be. I might pick up a second issue to see more, but I have to tell you, I liked the text epilogue (more intro than outro really) better than the story itself, and had that appeared as a prologue, I would have liked the story more the first time. Just saying.
Politics and destruction of an American icon aside, I had been disappointed in the first handful of Secret Empire comics because they did not have the impact or the storytelling skill that the post-Hydra-reveal issues of Captain America had. I was thinking Nick Spencer had lost his nerve and/or was second guessing himself. In issue #6 however, there are spots of quality again, the moments between Black Widow and Spider-Man, Daredevil and Kingpin, and even the dream sequence Steve Rogers and Red Skull, are good, but the rest are not so good, particularly when the good Avengers are trying to find the spy in their ranks. As for the art, Leinil Yu seems to have a finer line these days and I really like it.
The art however in Secret Empire #7 is less than pleasing, and the story is just as distasteful. The Avengers, good and bad, are dead, and the Black Widow is now moving forward with her plan to assassinate Captain America. Yes, it feels weird having just typed that, and all I can think is that this is what the Marvel Universe has come to. What I feel inside is even worse. Not only do I want this story over with, I want Captain America dead too. There is something to be said for a story that affects the reader emotionally, but is it worth it when the reader now hates a character they once loved, and can probably never go back again?
Speaking of going back, this issue is a callback to Civil War II, especially the mind-boggling premonition of the Miles Morales Spider-Man killing Captain America on the steps of the Capitol. Apparently the world still remembers this premonition, and Spider-Man finds himself in that exact situation, and even after watching Captain America slay the Black Widow right in front of him, Miles cannot do the deed. If nothing else, we see the measure of a hero, and the darkness of a true villain. Honestly, I don’t know how much more of this I can take. One thing is for sure, in my eyes, Captain America will never be the same, will never feel the same, and my love and respect for this character has been shattered. And that is the measure of writer Nick Spencer.
I can’t leave you all on such a down note, so I’ll quickly mention a couple other things out this week. There’s Infinite Seven #5 from Action Lab, continuing the story from the trade I reviewed here, DC Comics celebrates Jack Kirby with New Gods Special #1 (which will be featured on JP Fallavollita’s The Wednesday Run later this afternoon), Dynamite gives Turok another new first issue, Titan relaunches Robotech, and the trade of Spencer & Locke is released as well, definitely pick that last one up, it’s a winner.