Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Rant-Reviews: A Grab-Bag of Comics

An Utterly Random Assortment
Hey, you know how sometimes I have my rant-reviews/capsule reviews which follow a theme of sorts? Yeah, I don't have that today, just a smattering of comics to discuss.

The Grab-Bag
Power Rangers #0
This puppy from BOOM! has suddenly become a hot commodity, with both my friends at Comics Heating Up commenting on the new title as well as Bleeding Cool observing it is flipping for a solid chunk of change on the interweb auction sites. As for the comic itself? It's quite good. It manages to both tickle my nostalgia-nerve while not coming off as campy as the show did back in the day (I loved watching the original Power Rangers, and watched some of the later versions but lost interest around the time they were in space, or something). This, "Zero," issue interestingly drops us into a story where Tommy (already the green ranger) is with the Power Ranger team, but it is discussed how he hasn't been a teammate for too long, and it is made clear he is actually under the influence of their foe, Rita.

The intriguing aspect of this is how we aren't forced to read a bunch of issues setting all this up, we are just thrown into this status quo and trusted to figure out what has happened recently through our own careful reading of the comic. It is almost surprising to think a comic about something that gets mocked for being silly trusts its readers to be intelligent and deductive more than a lot of other supposedly, "Respectable," titles out there. There is also a back-up about Bulk and Skull, the comedic relief that have almost always existed in some form throughout the series, and another back-up that drags a little--unlike the initial story and the hi-jinks of Bulk and Skull. Still, this comic manages to be both a throw-back and modern, is fun but doesn't insult the reader, and otherwise is a snazzy read. Should you have ever played, "Power Rangers," on the playground as a young child (I'll admit I did) I would recommend checking this out for sure.
4 out of 5 stars.

Vision #3
My runner-up for weirdest comic of 2015 continues to just get stranger. Between the Visions clearly becoming more and more of a threat to those around them, some weird business with a magic flower that has to be ingested in a super-gross way, and confirmation that the Vision and his fellow robotic-wife have humanoid genitals of some sort, this is still a mighty weird read, and I love it for that. The strange quiet melancholy that finds itself punctuated with bursts of violence and rage results in a title that really is as much horror as it is sci-fi or, "super-hero," related. Superb stuff, and I loathe to think there could be some point it has to tie-in with an event or finds itself cancelled before the violent climax it is clearly building to is achieved. Read this and love it.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Burnt Comix #1
Originally a small-press title written and drawn by Jayro Lantigua, the publisher Creature Entertainment picked this title up and put out a new edition of his strange work. I was interested in this comic because I'd heard that Lantigua's stuff was a bit reminiscent of Johnny Ryan--and I'd argue Ryan's work has a strange charm to it that made hearing a comparison sound appealing. As for the comic itself, it is some solid work but only seems to really strike a nerve in a few spots.

The majority of the comic concerns itself with a dog that is miserable and wants to kill himself, but finds the pound won't do it because he's too, "Self aware," and feels most ways to die are too ordinary. He eventually succeeds but finds floating around in the nothingness of the after-life boring, so when a dark force offers to bring him back, he accepts. He is restorted to life but also needs to devour other beings as a result--but its okay because he eats someone trying to rob his friends. It is silly stuff, and perfectly fine, but the opening and closing of the comic are the only times I felt Lantigua was really injecting some of his own pain and anger into the comic, expressing rage and sadness much in the same way as his fictional dog.

 You see, the comic opens with a young alligator (or is he a crocodile?) showing his father some comics he made and being told they are good, but he'll never make it as a comic artist. The comic then closes with a grown-up gator/croc coming to his father with money made from comics in hopes of impressing his Dad, but being told again he should have done something better with his time. It's harsh, and you really feel like these could have been conversations Lantigua had with his dad. Their pangs of raw emotion give the strips more gravitas than some of the other strips, because while an orgy of dogs can be hilariously disgusting, the gut-punch of a young man being shut-down by his father even after success is a really affecting moment. Overall this is a solid...
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Injection #6
It is funny how with the 5th issue of the last arc things finally started making some sense, so of course Warren Ellis makes this sixth issue and start of a new arc mostly unrelated to the previous issues and puts us right back square at the point of being utterly confused as to what in the dickens is going on. Still, this issue is full of dark humor, action, and gorgeous art by Declan Shalvey, even if I'm feeling befuddled again at least this is an enjoyable comic. As Image (the publisher) doesn't seem to set a strict rule on how long a series can be I wonder just what exactly the future holds for this title, or how many overall issues are planned for this potential future.
3 out of 5 stars.

InSeXts #2
New publisher Aftershock Comics has a variety of interesting releases, but this comic with its surreal insect-women and utterly bizarre mixture of imagery (done amazingly by Ariela Kristantina) that varies between grotesque and arousing is quite a fascinating read. There still is far too much that has not been answered by the title as to how exactly our protagonists have come across their powers, and new questions keep being introduced such as what a strange monster is doing popping-up toward the end of the book. I worry that if writer Marguerite Bennet has too many mysteries arise with not enough answers we will end up in a situation like the television show, "Lost," where we kept getting queries, but no conclusions.

That said, this is a highly enjoyable read going from seductive and sexual one moment with the reader enjoying the sensual drawings of our main characters, to a comic full of body-horror the next as the characters that were just looking appealing change in ways not appealing at all. It is a bit of a fun twist on the concept of the male gaze, as if the comic wants to say, "Here's what you want, naked women going at it, but now we're going to disturb you with those same women turning into hideous insects/inSeXts." In a strange way a comic that at first glance looks like pure cheesecake turns out to be a clever feministic commentary on the sexualization of women, both playing-up male desires and fears. Yes, I quite like this comic.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Squadron Supreme #3
I'm really not reading much Marvel, but this is one of the small number of books from the publisher I'm picking up besides a few other odd titles (like the above-reviewed, "Vision,") and this one has had me purchasing it because the writer of one of my favorite mini-series in 2015 is behind it (James Robinson), and it features the Nighthawk of the Supreme Power Universe that helped herald-in Marvel's, "MAX," brand before the series was basically left to wither and die between re-launches, spin-offs, and tie-ins with other series--still, those early issues were dynamite stuff.

That makes me feel a bit disappointed that after a shocking first issue where the team killed Namor (I would say, "Spoilers," but Marvel actually spoiled it themselves before the comic came out to build interest)  the comic has basically just sort of sat around, with these fascinating characters who are the last living inhabitants of destroyed Universes (all of which have appeared to some degree in previous Marvel titles) just kind of milling about while a threat of some sort that Nighthawk is investigating builds-up. The thing is, this issue we don't learn much about what exactly Nighthawk is looking into because this whole issue is essentially a long fight-scene between the Squadron Supreme and one of the ten-or-so Avenger's teams running about these days--this is the one with old Steve Rogers and Deadpool.

Seriously, Nighthawk and Steve argue for a minute, a fight happens, and the issue ends with the team being saved from capture by Thundra of all people and being whisked away to a land called, "Weirdworld." I looked into it and this Weirdworld is a hold-over from Marvel's, "Secret Wars," comic that actually finally wrapped-up. Why the team has been transported there remains to be seen, but hopefully things will get more interesting, as right now we've had a good first issue, and two dull issues after it.
2 out of 5 stars.

...And We're Done
Well, the grab-bag is all, "Empty," now, so-to-speak, meaning this edition of my rant-reviews has concluded. I hope you enjoyed this random smattering of comics.

No comments:

Post a Comment