Wednesday, 28 May 2014

52 Week 44 - A Four Colour Kick In The Junk...

So, there I was innocently reading my way through the 52 Omnibus edition, catching up on all of those issues I missed while the comic was coming out.

Then BAM!

An anthropomorphic alligator just straight up eats Amon, Black Adam's obnoxious brother in law and Captain Marvel Junior analogue! I was completely blind-sided! Where in the holy hell did that come from. I thought that weepy, sad-sack alligator was a third-rate Mr Talky Tawny rip-off. In hindsight I should've known due to his distinct lack of cravat-fedora ensemble.

I'm not ashamed to admit I was pretty rattled. I mean I'm not a big fan of gore soaked ultra-violence, but I'm no squeamish priss either. C'mon in this one book I've already been through sleazy cowboy bad guys getting torn in half, over-enthusiastic tween Infinitors getting their heads bopped off and naked Steel! I can take it y'know - just not when it creeps up on me like that.

So I shook it off and started into Week 44....

Holy shit! My eyes! What in the name of Geoff Johns are you trying to do to me?

I'm only four pages in and already we've already a nice tasty close-up of Amon's mutilated corpse, Mr. Scaly Waily (or whatever his name is) complaining about the stringy texture of Black Marvel flesh and Black Adam meting out revenge by way of the dental check-up from hell:
Open Wide

I don't know about you but 52 Week 44 hit me like a kidney punch. What happens to the Black Marvels in this issue is just brutal!

The interesting thing is, up until this point I didn't think I liked, or even remotely cared about, the Black Marvels. Their story has been winding it's way through 52 since the very beginning. From Black Adam as a geo-political Freddy Kruger, to him hooking up with and giving powers to mouthy but smoking hot Khandaqi chica Isis, to them extending their 'family' to include that annoying little prick Amon and his eventually treacherous, but normally droopy reptilian pal.

It's a testament to how good a job Morrison, Giffen, Johns and co weaved their web that instead of being glad to see Amon and his pious, mushy, cheer-leading sister go - this issue and the downfall of Black Adam's new rose-tinted family hits like a shotgun blast.

I mean the fight between Adam, Isis and Intergang's 'Four Horsemen Of The Ill Defined Religion Of Crime' is pretty good as far as super-slugfests go. I mean Adam shoots up the place with a Jesse Ventura mini-gun that he holds like a bazooka -which is awesome...

I Ain't Got Time To Bleed

...but the fight is merely a prelude. It's when Isis falls victim to pestilence that things get real. It's horrible and surprisingly, it's pretty heart-wrenching. Before you know it you're kinda feeling bad for the guy who only a few issue before was tearing dudes in half. It's a pretty impressive feat writing wise - and it really catches you unaware:

Honey, I Don't Feel So Good.

Another thing that stood out about this issue is that this violent and horrific attack on the Black Adam family is a product of the mad scientist convention on Oolong Island. Those scenes with T.O. Morrow, Doctor Magnus, Doctor Sivana, Baron Bug and the boys have been some of the most light-hearted and enjoyable throughout the whole series.

The idea that Sivana's cackling, Egg Fu's bad temper and Baron Bug's constantly malfunctioning nuclear cockroaches could have resulted in these bullet spitting, gross death-germ spewing, scythe swinging and, bitey ambominations gives that whole storyline a darker, grimier, creepier spin:

Four Zero Actual Horses

If you haven't already read it in issues as it was coming out I can't recommend the 52 Omnibus edition enough (although when making your purchase I recommend you lift with your legs - it's one big hefty slab of comic books!). It's got the odd clunky moment here and there but all in all it's one hell of a ride!

You won't be disappointed...

...except when you learn Baron Bug's Beserker Cricketron didn't get a spot as one of the Horsemen.

Dude was robbed.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Why YouAreComic Loves: Kraven The Hunter

Three words...
Rooftop Elephant Assault
Nuff Said.

(Today's improbable elephantine action was brought to you by Spectacular Spider-man #251 by JM DeMatteis, Luke Ross and awesome Al Milgrom. Also in this issue, the latest vigilante fashion: shotgun, badass beard and a lion.)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Sometimes The Savage Land Doesn't Suck...

I'm going to be honest right up front, I'm not a fan of the Savage Land. Every time a book sends it's characters to the Savage Land (I'm looking at you X-Men) I have to stifle a groan. I mean c'mon Sauron, Garrok, Zaladane, Magneto: King of the Mutates? Big Fat Yawn! Am I right?

The one exception to this rule is when Spider-man visits the Savage Land. When the web slinger visits it ain't about hypnotic were-pterodactyls or angry shakespearean rocks - oh no. When Spidey hits the land we get J Jonah Jameson versus dinosaurs, we get Gwen Stacy pre-historic underwear model, not to mention Kraven the Hunter and his pet 30 foot alien monkey (and all that awesome happens in one issue: Amazing Spider-Man #201).

With that in mind we're going to gird our loins and talk about one of Spidey's more recent visits to the Savage Land: Sensational Spider-Man #15.

Initially I worried this issue was going to be just another dreary visit to the Marvel 'Land That Time Forgot' homage that won't die. I mean it prominently features everyone's favourite eye roll inducing Tarzan knock-off Ka-Zar for a start. What is it with that guy? His best friend is a sabre-toothed tiger and his wife has the coolest name in the history of comic book jungle gals (Shanna the She-Devil) - and yet he still manges to show up and suck every time.

Sadly, this issue does not deviate from this tradition. The jungle king gets his awesome on by using all his formidable jungle skills and sabre-toothed tiger commanding mojo to give the ruthless, black-hearted villain of the piece....a stern talking to?
I Wanna Talk To Your Supervisor

The black hearted villain in question is an evil Roxxon scientist who is planning to melt some glaciers and flood the Savage Land in order to gain access to the oil beneath it. See what I'm saying? It sounds like a storyline from Dallas (minus the secret pre-historic jungle of course) not a pulse-pounding four colour yarn in the Mighty Marvel Manner!

Fear not, true believers, this is Spidey in the Savage Land. So like a bolt from the heavens a big, honking pile of awesome crashes this snow-capped, tropical yawn-fest in the form of... Stegron the freaking Dinosaur Man:

C'mon other Marvel writers - Stegron and the Savage Land- it's a no brainer. He controls dinosaurs for crying out loud! This guy being the big bad in the Savage Land makes a hell of a lot more sense than Magneto and yet another secret citadel and another band of third rate mutant wannabes.

I love me some Stregon. An evil scientist who turned himself into a big honking manosaur!! That's awesome baby, even if all he ever uses his superior scientific intellect for is hitting dudes with his big spiny tail.

Unfortunately, even with the unstoppable greatness of Stegron standing against them the evil scientists of Roxxon still manage to trigger their Glacier melting whoozit and the Savage Land is flooded.

Luckily Todd Dezago and the late great Mike Wieringo have a mind-bending deus ex machina stashed up their sleeves. The raging flood waters are sucked down a giant sink-hole created completely out of nowhere by the The Incredible Hulk who arrives all of a sudden fighting with a humongous prehistoric chicken!!
Bet You Didn't See That Coming!

I hope the scientific community is paying attention to this one. The solution to Global Warming is right there in the pages of this issue. The sea levels start to rise? Just get a gamma irradiated nuclear scientist with a bad temper and have him punch a giant pre-historic chicken until everything works out right! Bet you guys are kicking yourselves that you didn't think of that.

Anyway despite the presence of Ka-Zar and his Savage Land related nonsense, the distinct lack of flat-tops, alien monkeys and bikini clad co-eds, this issue is still worth a look. Where else can you see a dinosaur man and a really big chicken team-up to save the world?

If you look real hard you might find Spider-man in it somewhere too.