In another special 31 Days of Horror edition of Heroes and Villains, we’ll be looking at a variety of comics out this week and last, from a variety of genres and companies. And although the horror is a bit sparse this time around, we’ll keep in the spirit with reviews after the jump of Kong: Gods of Skull Island #1, Grimm Fairy Tales: Dance of the Dead #1, Maestros #1, Dead of Winter: Good Good Dog #3, Dark Knights: Metal #3, Horizon #15, the Aces High Archives, and more… be warned, there may be spoilers…
For full disclosure, Joe DeVito is both a friend of mine and The GAR! Podcast (interviews here and here), and his version of Kong is close to my heart, both because of the mad creativity and worldbuilding behind it, but also because it’s awesome, so I look at any continuation of his vision with anticipation and enthusiasm. That said, I always strive to be honest here at Heroes and Villains, so if it’s good, it’s good, and if it stinks, you’ll know it. Happily, Kong: Gods of Skull Island, based on DeVito’s Kong Island and Merion C. Cooper’s King Kong falls solidly in the former category.
Guided by writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson and illustrator Chad Lewis, this new one-shot from BOOM! Studios explores the relationship the Tagatu and the Kongs. We follow a 1912 expedition to Skull Island and learn the mystical religion of the Tagatu, the ‘Church of Kong,’ as storylines criss-cross in this clash of cultures and war of gods. This is a fantastic read, great characters, and the monster action that one would expect from a comic called Kong. Highly recommended.
Dance of the Dead
Most of the time I enjoy what Zenescope has to offer, and while this new adventure of Mystere is quite good, has great art, and compelling story, it had problems. When telling stories in a shared universe, the use of a footnote or two, or a more detailed introduction, might be a step in the right direction. Some of us are not following every Zenescope comic and might not be hip to the continuity. I know there are connections to Robyn Hood and Tarot here, but I wish they had been explained a bit more concisely. Otherwise, this was a pretty good comic, a good horror, fantasy, and superheroics mix, worth reading.
Based on the description, I wasn’t sure I was interested in this one, Maestros, a fantasy comic about a young wizard exiled to Earth and then returned to his own world when forces enable him to take the throne. It’s like an R-rated take on the whole “you’re a wizard, Harry” concept. I love the story and art by Steve Skroce, formerly of Wolverine, Amazing Spider-Man, and Youngblood, but kind of wish the action had stayed on Earth rather than backtracking to the fantasy world. Remember, Superman (alien on Earth) is far more popular than John Carter (Earthman on alien planet), and of course, Earth is always more relatable to readers. Still, I dug this a lot, fun, gory, imaginative, and funny, worth picking up.
Dead of Winter
This comic, which I first reviewed here still has that zombie apocalypse vibe, but this time focusing on its drunken Santa and a dog in a cape. On the run from a renegade cop, as opposed to just zombies, Santa leads the group to the promised land, in an homage to Dawn of the Dead, to a shopping mall. This is a fun treat and a twist on a familiar genre, recommended. Go, Sparky!
Last week saw the release of the third issue of DC Comics’ Dark Knights: Metal, and man oh man, this is a long hard road to travel just to get Hawkman back. Some folks may think this is a perfect fit for 31 Days of Horror, with an army of evil extradimensional Batmen on the rampage – as if we don’t have enough Batman already, right? We open on an introductionless battle in Smallville that bleeds over to Gotham before the Flash saves Superman and brings him to Nightmaster’s Oblivion Bar, and safe place away from the demon bat’s Barbatos’ minions. If none of that makes sense, join the club. That’s been the problem with much of Metal thus far.
While it was nice to see Nightmaster and Detective Chimp again, it still irritates that we don’t know why we are seeing them. It seems as if obscure fan favorites are just thrown into the mix for no apparent reason other than to make old school fans like me go, “oh look, it’s so-and-so.” The heroes plot and plan and argue, before launching into a plan to invade the Dark Multiverse. There’s a weird cliffhanger that makes me feel like I should care, but I don’t. This all feels like someone is trying to out-Grant Morrison Grant Morrison and failing badly. Instead of finding brilliance at its core, as in a Morrison epic, Metal is just leaving me angry and confused.
This entry from Image Comics gives us a peek at the secret history of mankind when it comes to aliens. More Coast to Coast AM than Coast these days, Horizon tells us all the secrets we have wanted to know since we were invaded by alien forces. This horrific and action-packed scifi adventure is both a secret origin, and a great jumping-on point for this series. More secrets to come, well worth checking out.
This edition of The EC Archives released this week collects the entire 1950s series of Aces High, featuring classic art by comic legends like Wally Wood, George Evans, Bernie Krigstein, and Jack Davis. Aces High #1-5 included over twenty stories of air heroes and brave pilots from yesteryear, a sadly forgotten sub-genre of comics that was a staple of adventure for decades. These comics are amazing, along with a forward by Howard Chaykin, and I really can’t recommend this volume enough. Aces High rules.
The second issue of a comic I loved, Realm comes out this week, as well as the second issue of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman/Conan, four Devil’s Due volumes of Nightmare World by Dirk Manning, and the long-anticipated Mighty Thor #700 featuring the dreaded “Death of the Mighty Thor!”