Comics

No nerd experience is complete without comics. (Or so I'm told.)

shaun-01Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writing: Chris Rydall (adaptation)
Art: Zach Howard; Thompson Knox (colours); Robbie Robbins (letters).
Cover Art: Jason Brashill

Based on the motion picture screenplay by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright.

It's the Shaun of the Dead movie turned into a comic book. A direct adaptation. Maybe some tiny changes here and there, but I really didn't notice. Great art that is more impressionist than photo-realistic and the movie's snappy wit still bleeds through in the writing. Probably one of the best film-to-comic thingies I've ever seen. If you are a Shaun of the Dead fan, buy this. Of course, you will get nothing new... but hey, it's still a great comic. Still, because it offers nothing that new (but there are some funny write-ups in the back), it loses some "oomph". Sorry.

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Steve's Intro Musings:

Wasted potential. That’s what I thought when I read through this first issue of "Grunts". It could have been so much better; from art, to story to dialogue. And considering the talent involved, I expected better, dammit. What a weeping shame.

grunts1.jpgPublisher: Arcana Studios
Writing
:
Shannon Eric Denton; Keith Giffen
Art: Matt Jacobs; Eric Spikes

Grunts is about a group of combat hardened American GIs in 1944 France (along the German border). After a couple of actions, they come across a nastily dispatched Allied bivouac and soon encounter the German attackers, who seem to be some sort of super soldiers or something. Undead maybe? I don’t know. My first thought was to compare Grunts to the excellent Fiends of the Eastern Front comic of 2000AD fame . Of course, this made me dislike Grunts even more, even though the two comics differ greatly, and I don’t even know if the German super soldiers that pop up in the end are monsters, vampires, undercover circus clowns, or what. (Wow, think I should use the word "even" again? Yeesh!)

The first thing that reached out and grabbed me in that “creepy visiting uncle” sort of way was the art. Dear god, if the artists were trying to capture feelings of disgust and horror, they certainly succeeded… but in the worst possible way. This is some of the most terrible illustration work I’ve seen in the last few years. Every page is chock full of scribbled characters and objects with some colour thrown in. The characters are either too simple in presentation, or if they are detailed they look like, well…, more complex scribbles. Its like “How to Fail Comic Book Art School 101” or something. The action is utterly forgettable except for the laughable results from it. Heads seem to explode a lot in WW2 with teeth and eyes flying everywhere. As a big fan of zombie comics, I can safely say that gore doesn’t bother me one bit; but somehow these art guys totally fuck it up. Does that make sense? No? Okay, the battle scenes in Grunts are almost cartoonish in delivery, and not in any way good. The violence in the old movie Wizards is more shocking and compelling. The “hardcore war” panels remind me of these guys I knew in junior high that would doodle their own death metal album covers. Man, they sucked, but at least it was better than the art in Grunts. I hate to hate on anyone that works hard in this industry to bring what they love to life, but I have to be honest here, folks. To be completely fair, there are moments where it looks like the artists have some good ideas. I like the cigar. The cigar a character smokes at one point looks terrific. I think that’s it. There may be some other decent moments, but I decided to block out the art as a whole from my memory. Sorry.

(I must say that I like the cover-work for Grunts, though)

The only thing that saves this book in any way from having  "1"s as a  score all around  is the snore-fest of a writing job (oh yeah, enjoy the "2", guys). It could have been worse—it could have been an appalling hack-job. The dialogue is too cliché, even for me! How is this possible?! I love World War 2 fiction of all kinds and I’m used to all that GI-speak; yet I was made to suffer through some of the most contrived, boring crap I’ve read in ages. Now, it’s not completely dreadful, mind you; it just makes the impact of a well pitched roll of dry paper-towels… thrown separately, one at a time. If the art was better, this would be a better comic, probably (totally, actually). The plot is standard factory press “I likes the Wolfenstein ” weird WW2 stuff (things are carnage as per usual then—POW! WEIRD!), and that’s okay since I dig the Wolfenstein videogames. However, perhaps there was too much “factory pressing”. At the end, I didn’t give one iota of a shit about this book. That’s lame, because I normally love stories like this; as long as they aren’t written in this manner.

Grunts #1 was a disappointment on many, many levels. This is the part where I predictably say something like “…but we’ll see what #2 brings”, “maybe it will improve” and other Optimistic Steve™ bullshit. Not this time. I can’t allow myself to read more of this dreck. I already subjected myself to the first issue twice, should I torment myself with future instalments? No. No way, no how. If I want some good World War 2 comics I’ll go read stuff like Fiends of the Eastern Front, G.I. Combat and Battler Britton , thanks.

(Update! The same writing team has come out with another title, Common Foe, that's great! Now -that- is what I'm talking about. Hey, even the most talented writers out there have their bad days/titles... and it's all a matter of opinion, anyway... I'm sure there are those of you who will enjoy Grunts.)

bad-planet-01Publisher: Image Comics / Raw Studios
Writing: Thomas Jane and Steve Niles
Art: Lewis Larosa and Tim Bradstreet; Grant Goleash (colours); Jason Hanley (letters).

I was really excited to read this because I had heard that Tom Jane (a great actor) and Tim Bradstreet were involved. I was also a bit leary that Steve Niles was writing it, too, as I feel he's a bit overrated (but not terrible... just overrated). Bad Planet is about this thing that crash lands on Earth and it unleashes alien death spiders by the millions or something. That's the whole issue. Just the build-up to the arrival of the death-spiders. Apparantly, according to the preview in the back of the issue, an escaped prisoner from another galaxy is gonna show up to help the humies kick those uninvited guest's ass. But did it have to take the ENTIRE first issue of people putzing around goin' "OMG NearEarthObject ZOMG!" and giving us what might pass for witty banter half the time (and I'm being generous here)? Seriously, it took the whole issue to do what most comics have done just fine with 5 pages. 10 at the most (for those "Tolstoy types"). Points lost on that one, guys. The writing and ideas still seem good, though. And the art... well, the art is quite nice. The aliens look -awesome-. It all has a very nice feel to it. The pages are thick, too, which I like. I'm curious to see what's coming up next... But, I have to say again: should it take 7 pages to explain why/how a couple aliens lose their cargo (the death spiders, I'm assuming... and there was only a handful of lines!)???? If issue #2 ever comes out, I'll still check it out. I have to say, though, that I think Tom Jane could have done fine on his own writing a few issues of this. I mean, I could have pounded out this first issue in under 30 minutes script-wise. See? Overrated. Sorry, Mr. Niles, but it's true in some cases. However, to be fair, this is just the first book. And it has my interest, so that's a plus! Points gained.

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rating-4.5fables-se-01Publisher: Vertigo
Writing: Bill Willingham
Art: Lan Medina; Steve Leialoha (inking); Sherilyn van Valkenburgh (colours); Todd Klein (letters).

Paula at the local shop, Spy Comics, recommended I pick up this 25 cent promotional reprint of Fables #1 and I'm really happy she did. I -just- finished reading it, and man, it rocks hard. I cannot believe that I have been so lame as to not ever check this out before. The premise is that all these characters from fairytales have sought refuge in New York City from someone called The Adversary. There they've set up an underground community called Fabletown. The gangs all there, too. I really like the way this book is written! Pure awesome. I especially adore Snow White. What a bitch. The Big Bad Wolf is the sheriff and he's runs around looking like a human (thanks to magic). I could go on, but I'd be here for awhile. Point is, it's a well thought out and constructed backdrop with great characters who all have interesting personalities and excellent dialouge. The first issue goes right into a cool mystery, too. I totally recommend this and consider it a crime not to at least give the 25 cent (!) installment a chance.

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