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 and companies. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack #1, Angelic #1, Gasolina #1, Dark Knights: Metal #2, Secret Empire: Omega #1, Kid Sherlock #4, The End League, Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth, and more… be warned, there may be spoilers…
Big Trouble in Little China
I saw the movie Big Trouble in Little China on opening night at midnight, and I knew nothing about it when I saw it that first time, and I loved it, from start to finish, and it remains one of my favorite flicks. It is one of those favorite few that whenever I see it on while flipping through channels, I am glued in my seat until it’s over, I love it that much. There have been comics of it before, most recently last week‘s compilation of a series from BOOM! Studios teaming hero Jack Burton with Escape from New York‘s Snake Plissken. Now, BOOM! gives us a glimpse of Jack’s future with Old Man Jack.
Being co-written by John Carpenter gives this comic the seal of approval as far as I’m concerned, so any disbelievers should take note, this is canon. And it’s hilarious. Trapped in a heaven granted by a demon, Jack finds happiness not as happy as he would have hoped. Lured by a disembodied female voice he journeys out into a world ravaged by the Hellpocalypse, and has to fight his way through minor hells to save the damsel in distress, but all is not as it seems. This is fun, funny, and much better than thinking about that supposed remake with The Rock, recommended.
In this first issue by Simon Spurrier and Caspar Wijngaard, Image Comics gives us a whole new world dazzling with imagination from start to finish. In an assumedly post-apocalyptic world we have a coming of age story for Qora, a young female flying monkey who is always questioning why her people do the things they do, what does it all mean? As we learn the culture of these Monk people, and of the Mans, and the Dolts, it seems there is something sinister underneath that should be questioned. I loved this one, loved learning its world, its unique language, and especially the cybernetic dolphins and human skull hermit crabs, this book is awesome.
This is another first issue of a series from Image that is delving into the cinematic, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They have done some amazing comics in this way since I started this column, and Gasolina is no exception. It is visually and verbally stunning. This tale of the Mexican drug cartels is violent, sexy, and brilliant, and could easily move from the comic page to the screen. Is Image targeting Hollywood with their comics, or is that just the current trend? I do have to wonder why Image has seemingly given up on superheroes, especially with Marvel and DC doing so badly with the more traditional and popular characters, it would seem to be ripe territory. Why are Spawn and Savage Dragon the only long running Image Comics about superheroes?
Ugh. Speak of the devil. Is it just my perception, or has the concept of the crossover event – especially for DC and Marvel – become a spotlight on what is the worst of the superhero genre? This series serves, at least to my eye, two purposes: to overexpose Batman and create villainous Batman clones to battle the Justice League, and to return Hawkman from beyond. I am completely down with the latter, as Hawkman is one of my favorite heroes, but in most cases of late, Batman is a reason not to buy a comic. He’s just not who I want to read about any more, he’s not my Batman, and for that same reason, I’m almost dreading the return of Hawkman… will he even resemble the winged fury I remember from my youth?
This second issue of the Metal main series is still all over the place, as all corners of the DC Universe are awkwardly connected either by the bat-demon-god Barbatos or the Nth metal of Hawkman mythos. We see characters as diverse as the Court of Owls, the Swamp Thing, Clayface, Hath-Set, Darkseid’s baby, and even a council of immortals in what looks like the headquarters of the Legion of Doom. And then there’s Batmanium, upon which I need make no more comment. If this can come together and make sense, I’ll be happy, but as of now, it’s a mess, and an embarrassing one.
And then there’s Secret Empire, the epitome of what not to do in a comics event. Do not alienate your audience. Do not irreparably destroy a heroic character that not only dates back to the Golden Age but was also created by Jack Kirby. Do not kill beloved characters like Rick Jones and the Black Widow. And do not happily clean up your mess with deus ex machina like the Cosmic Cube. As if Marvel didn’t have enough of our soul, and our money, they released Secret Empire: Omega last week as a coda to this nightmare.
In the issue, we see the supposedly good Captain America, given form by the Cosmic Cube, confront the evil, supposedly real, Captain America in a black site prison, Shadow Pillar, in which he is the only inmate. For pages the two Caps spout philosophy at each other, and it all rings false, because I no longer trust either of them. Say what you will, Marvel, try to get Mark Waid to save the character, but I will never trust Captain America any more. I guess one could give Nick Spencer props for provoking such an emotional response in a reader, but I ask you – at what cost?
There’s some nonsense with Winter Soldier that seems to indicate that Widow might not be as dead as we think, the mutants are toying with a war on the United States, and the Punisher is being primed to work for SHIELD. There’s not much else to this comic other than despair. And who wants to bet that the evil Captain America is the new Red Skull? Yeah, I wouldn’t take that bet either, it’s just too predictable, and easy, and lazy. Thank Kirby this crap is over, for the moment.
I’ve talked about the various versions of Sherlock Holmes floating around before, and while this is not as serious as Elementary or Sherlock, or even Robert Downey Jr.’s movie incarnation, it is refreshing. Action Lab brings us Kid Sherlock, a modern day cartoony kids version of the great detective. Set in an elementary school with Lestrade as principal, Hudson as teacher, and Watson as Sherlock’s talking dog. Issue #4 features a done-in-one mystery about bullying, along with puzzles and other activities in the back of the comic. Great fun.
I remember picking up the first issue of this series years ago when I was still regularly spending hundreds of dollars on paper hardcopy comics, and liking it. At the time, there were a lot of grim and gritty end of the world, kill ’em all, Watchmen/Kingdom Come wannabe comics out there, and this was just another. It’s not that I didn’t like it, I did, but in a world of so many other similar things on the shelf, I forgot about it. I was initially intrigued however by Rick Remender’s graphic vision of a violent world where the super-villains had triumphed over the superheroes, and taken over the planet. This massive volume from Dark Horse collects the entire series, including “Ballad of Big Nothing” and “Weathered Statues.” Also included are behind the scenes designs and sketches. A epic collection, and I was happy to finally read it, recommended.
This one has been hyped as what if Kevin Smith directed Men in Black, and while that would be an intriguing premise, I’m not really sure it does proper justice to Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth. When aliens invade Earth and prepare to pass judgement on the human race, loser at love jerk video clerk Jeff is chosen as our champion. Hilarity ensues, amongst comedy, romance, action, adventure, and potty humor, as Jeff fights for us all. This is a hoot, and we are all doomed.
This week also brings the Fauns & Fairies adult fantasy coloring book, the next issue of Dept. H, more adventures with Space Ghost in Future Quest Presents #2, Dean Motter’s Mister X: The Modern Age collection, and Gail Simone’s much-anticipated Wonder Woman/Conan #1. And then there’s the Librarians comic book from Dynamite Entertainment, with the first issue to whet our appetites for the upcoming fourth season.