Monday, 27 April 2015

New Frontier #1: Wow...

Just started reading New Frontier people - it's sooo good!

Darwyn Cooke is one of those guys that's constantly being recommended to me but for some reason he and I never seemed to cross paths on any book he was working on that I was reading.

However when I heard about New Frontier it sounded like something that I would love. When it comes to DC I like nothing better than when they play with their legacy characters. Stories that tap that rich vein of history that is so unique to the DC universe are 'must buys' for me.

From everything that I had read this was exactly what New Frontier was to be.

So imagine my dismay when I crack open #1 and I'm confronted by a war story!

Now don't get me wrong I'm not totally against war stories. I've read and loved 'The Unknown Soldier' and Kirby's Golden Age Captain America stuff - hell I'm even up for a bit of 'The Haunted Tank' every now and then. However when I'm all geared up to read classic super-hero stuff mixed with fur-collared flight jackets and bouffant hairdos, seeing a bunch of ordinary joes packing machine guns and camo-gear just isn't going to cut the mustard.

Two things stopped me from simply slinging the book across the room in a fit of childish, fanboy disappointment. The first thing was that these 'ordinary joes' were the Losers. They're a DC legacy I was familiar with and that got me a little interested to see how they would tie to the things I'd read about the series.

The second thing was that about three pages into the issue they blow a Tyrannosaurus Rex's arm off with a bazooka.

That my friends is simply good comic-booking.

From that moment I was hooked. I ate up every minute as each of the Losers was cut down by the grotesque pre-historic nasties that populated this remote island to which they'd been sent on a search and rescue mission.

It's pretty harrowing to watch these guys buy it one by one in a state of utter confusion as to what the hell their good old Uncle Sam had gotten them into. The loss of Sarge, the last Loser standing apart from the issues nominal hero Johnny Cloud, was the most gut wrenching of all.

Sarge's death also stands out as one my favorite sequences of the issue. I mean if you're a tough as nails, grizzled, eye-patch sporting marine and you have to go out? You want to do it still machine gunning a swooping Pterodactyl while your crippled body is hoisted up on the shoulder of your running comrade:

That moment gets you where you live. If I wasn't already totally on board from that previous moment of bazooka-dismemberment, this one would've sold me.

However, as so very good as both of those moments were, nothing tops the big finish. Darwyn Cooke has merely been setting us up so far, as you read the last bunch of pages you have no idea you're about to be knocked clean out of the park.

So with his squad dead, by pure luck and happenstance Johnny Cloud manages to complete their mission single-handed. He retrieves the lost officer (one Rick Flagg for all those with their DC Legacy characters score cards at the ready at home) and gets him to the beach. However instead of escaping the island with Flagg, Johnny deigns to stay and die with his fallen comrades.

Not just die - like curl up in a little sobbing ball and die - uh uh, he's going to die avenging the murder of his fellow Losers.

For those not keeping track, avenging the murder of his fellow Losers would entail....fighting a freaking T-Rex!

Sadly his plan for righteous, bloody vengeance goes a bit skeewiff when he trips a booby trap and blows himself to bloody ribbons. These losers are a hardy lot though. Undetered by that whole 'blowing himself up right under the nose the looming T-Rex he's come to kill' snafu - Johnny Cloud struggles to his feet, pops the tops of his last two hand grenades, takes a deep cleansing breath....and gets his revenge.

Wow. Just wow.

It doesn't get better than that.

I was so enthused and invigorated by this issue that I jumped on the old YouAreComic blog to pen this post before reading another page. So impressed by the quality of this opening issue am I that I'm advising all of my loyal readers out there to go out and get themselves a copy of this series. Hell plunk down $85 for the big, tasty Absolute edition!

On the strength of issue one alone I'm going to out on a limb and give the whole series YouAreComic's very highest seal of approval.

However I should point out that if you join me out here on my limb and it turns out the rest of the issues suck ass, well what can I tell ya?

Dude still blew up a dinosaur.

Nuff said.

Friday, 17 April 2015

A Pause With Peter...

Hi to all the YouAreComic readers out there, it's Peter Parker here.

I know a lot of you good folks like to read about my adventures as the Amazing Spider-man. I'd bet a lot of you out there look at me swinging around, high above the New York City skyline and think 'Hey, that looks aces, I sure wish I could be like that guy'.

Well you're wrong!

You better thank your lucky stars your life isn't like mine! Sure sometimes you get that call from the Avengers to go off into space and help save the universe from the Stranger or some other big cosmic muckity muck. Yeah, sometimes you maybe get the chance to go dimension-hopping with Doctor Strange and that smoking hot chick with the white hair that hangs around his joint.

Mostly though it's trying to head down to your local for a few drinks with an old friend of your dads, to y'know shoot the breeze about old times and....

BOOM - you get attacked by the Squid:
That Sound You Hear Is The Bottom Of Super-Villain Animal Name Barrel Being Thoroughly Scraped.

I mean c'mon! Where does the criminal underworld get these guys? I mean I got home drenched head to toe in this guy's ink - and you know where the ink on a squid comes out don't you? I mean it's just - - it's just- -

Let's just say it makes me miss the fricking Clone Saga, y'know what I'm saying?

Frickin' squid.

(Today's B-list belly aching was brought to you by Amazing Spider-Man v2 #26 by Howard Mackie and John Romita Jnr. This issue features the pulse pounding debut of The Squid. Seriously, I'm not kidding - the Squid. When is this guy getting a spot on the Thunderbolts?)

Friday, 10 April 2015

Hella Fun With Ghost Rider...

I'm a sucker for Ghost Rider. You get a flaming skull, stick it in some leathers and stick in a comic book there's a pretty good chance I'll plunk some dollars down for it. I don't care if it's Johnny Blaze, Danny Ketch or that freaky robotic dude from 2099. I don't care if he comes as a Spirit Of Vengeance, a Midnight Sun or one of the freaking Champions!

You know why? It's because no matter how much supernatural ghouls and goblins you toss in, no matter how much badass attitude you pack him full of, no matter how modern you try to make a costume that's basically a leather jacket and pants - at his core Ghost Rider is just good old fashioned, goofy comic book fun.

Look at the concept people! He's Evel Kinevel, given super-powers by the devil, roaring around the Marvel Universe on a Harley made out of the fires of hell punching out demons and super-villains!

That's why it's such a treat to read issues like Ghost Rider v6 #12 by Daniel Way and Javier Saltares. This issue is a tie-in to Marvel's big lumbering crossover of that moment World War Hulk, but by tapping into the innate fun of the character Way and Saltares splash a little ray of sunshine on this otherwise fairly surly storyline.

Sure you could've had Johnny making his way to the centre of New York to confront the Hulk, fretting about the battle ahead like the guys in other books like Avengers and Iron Man. But why do that when instead you can have him jump the police barricades using the suspension cables of the Brooklyn Bridge as a ramp!

Also, does anyone have the first clue about what powers Ghost Rider actually has? I mean one minute he's burning people's souls with his fiery bone hands, next minute he's turning hardened criminals into gibbering cry-babies with his patented Penance Stare. Sometimes he conjures up motorbikes made entirely of hellfire, other times he just pimps out whatever hawg he happens to be riding like a Satan-powered Xzibit. He's had hellfire chains, hellfire shotguns, hellfire throwing knives, hellfire knuckle dusters - phew, you name it.

Some creators would get bogged down in mapping out just exactly what powers Satan might give to his number one motor-cycling assassin. Others, like the Way and co, just have fun with it.

I mean whose to say, maybe it's entirely plausible that Ghost Rider's hellfire chain can be used to slice off the cockpit of a jumbo jet as it's about to take off - you don't know!

Not that beefing up Ghostie's power set like this precludes him taking things right back down to street level when he has to! I mean sure Satan may have turned him into the baddest ass in the whole of the 'dudes with flaming skull' fraternity (which boast a lot more members than you might first think), but inside he's just Johnny Blaze. Johnny Blaze is both a biker and a carnie. Are they any social groups more hardcore and street level as those guys - I think not!

So of course Johnny is not above boosting a jet fuel tanker and jamming a cinder block on its accelerator just so that he can sit back and watch the bad guy go splat and kablooie:
In Carnie-Speak I Believe This Is a Known As Brooklyn Cruise Control

Seriously, slogging through that World War Hulk thing was nothing but pure angst, angst, angsity, angst (with exception of chuckilious Hercules and surprisingly awesome Heroes For Hire). Coming across this tie-in was a big treat. It was good to see Johnny again when he wasn't weeping, or gritting his teeth or y'know trying to murder his half brother who it turns out is an angel - no, wait he's really a demon - nom wait  he's really an angel again.

Take notice Marvel, Ghost Rider works best when he's pure goofy fun with only little bitty sprinkles of seriousness on top.

If we wanted a grim and gritty anti-hero with a chip on his shoulder and a really big chain we'd all be reading Spawn now wouldn't we.

Yeah Spawn, c'mon you remember Spawn don't you? Big scary dead guy, pals with the homeless used to work for Martin Sheen back when he had evil facial hair.

No? Nothing? Oh well, you're probably better off anyway.