Bullet Reviews #76
In case you forgot what day of the week it is, and how could you considering it’s TUESDAY which means it’s time for, among other things (including the release of The Avengers on Blu-Ray/DVD), it’s time for Bullet Reviews! This week we take a look at: Fables #121, Fashion Beast #1, not one but TWO Godzilla books, Punk Rock Jesus #3 and The Walking Dead #102!
FABLES #121 (Vertigo)
Cubs In Toyland concludes with loss and new life. Last issue, while trying to save his sister Therese, Dare seemed to sacrifice himself. Now, we learn the full extent of his sacrifice. In order to provide food and, in a way, sanity for his sister, Dare used the one thing in Toyland that wasn’t a toy: a magic cauldron. His blood has enough magic in it to revive the cauldron and provide real food for Therese.
As she regained her mind, she also began to heal the broken toys. They wanted her to heal them right away, but she had a deal for them. Since they were broken due to having caused the death of a child in the past, they must now save the lives of children, one hundred for each life they took. We then go over the course of an untold number of years and see the toys saving lives and getting better. We also see young Therese growing into a woman. Time in Toyland is different than time in the Mundy world.
The sad thing here is the loss of Dare. It also fulfills two of the lines in Ozma’s prophecy:
The first child will be a king. This has to be Therese, who is now Queen of Toyland.
The fourth will die to stop her. Obviously Dare, who killed himself to stop Therese from becoming twisted like the broken toys.
This is one of the darkest and saddest stories we’ve had in quite some time in Fables. It went a long way to show us that everything is fair game here, even the Cubs. This is also one of my all time favorite stories of the series. It was nice to have the Cubs take the spotlight for a while, and now it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of fallout we have as we hope for the best for Therese and say our sad farewells to Dare, the brother who died to save the mind and soul of his sister. -Skott Jimenez
FASHION BEAST #1 (Avatar)
Adapting an unused movie script Alan Moore wrote a long time ago sounds good on paper, but reading this over, I’m not quite sure if there was much point to this. It’s not the slow burn of Watchmen or J. O’Barr’s The Crow, where a loose framework of plot is utilized to explore character, place, and mood, just a poorly paced series of scenes, mostly involving a nightclub. There’s some tarot stuff, some transgendered women (including a Marilyn Monroe lookalike), a nightclub, and a tomboy who wears a shirt that says “tomboy”; very typical Alan Moore — isn’t that a peculiar phrase? — minus the skill with serialized storytelling (reading like a movie script arbitrarily hacked into smaller pieces, which it is and was, courtesy Antony Johnston). Facundo Percio attempts to bring to life the neighborhood the social misfits of the narrative live in with mixed success: the reveal of a boarding house and its occupants offers plenty of tiny details in the setting, but an attempt to show a fashion king’s tower as some grand beacon of light falls prey to murky, brown and black coloring. Like the script itself, the art asks us to become involved in the lives of these people, yet keeps us at arm’s length, highlighting the otherness of these trannies, gays, punks, hookers, and pimps rather than bathing us in their common humanity (doubly so for a pair of Victorian-garbed crones who serve as cackling, Dickensian villains). Even a musical performance (set to lyrics written by Malcolm McLaren) botches the communal power of song by focusing on freakishness. Interesting for seeing the missing link in Moore’s pet themes, but not for much else. -Andrew Taylor
GODZILLA #5 (IDW Publishing)
The first of two Godzilla comics released last week features the first major tie-in with the Kingdom Of Monsters series that preceded this one: MechaGodzilla! In the last series, MechaGodzilla was created by the government to destroy Godzilla. It failed. This time around, the Mech is controlled by a rich egomaniac who thinks his improvements will be enough to put the Big G down and put Boxer and his Monster Kill Crew out of business forever. The problem is, as always, underestimating Godzilla. But even the failure has a bad impact on Boxer and his crew.
This series is now second only to the Marvel run, in my opinion. It’s nice to see recurring characters who have a vested interest in Godzilla again, and beyond that, they are becoming fully fleshed out characters. If there is one shortcoming here it’s that they haven’t really shown the global impact of Godzilla. In particular, how such a creature would affect the world economy and other such things. But I’m sure that’s coming.
Another point this series gets comes from the introduction of Monster Island. Though I’m not sure about the experiment they are doing on the monsters captured and placed there… That’s something that seems really scary!
All in all, this is a great series. It feels like a Godzilla movie and, like the movies (when done right) Godzilla isn’t as much a character in the story but a function of it. He’s at his best when he’s treated more as a force of nature than ‘earth’s defender,’ so my hat, once again, goes off to the creative team of Duane Swierczynski and Simon Gane, who are building something very special and exciting for Godzilla fans with this series! -Skott Jimenez
GODZILLA: THE HALF-CENTURY WAR #2 (IDW Publishing)
Wow, this series is AMAZING! Written and drawn by James Stokoe of Orc Stain fame, it follows a series of confrontations between Lieutenant Ota Murakami and Godzilla over the 50 years of the Big G’s existence. One of the high points for the series — and there are quite a few — are the subtle nods to things from the movies of each decade. For example, the first issue heavily referenced the original classic’s ending with the Oxygen Destroyer. This issue, which takes place in 1967 in Vietnam, becomes something of a rematch between Godzilla and Anguirus after their initial confrontation in Godzilla Raids Again (1955), as well as introducing the inventor of the Maser Cannons, something longtime fans like myself are very familiar with.
So, the story features the second meeting of our two main characters, Ota seems to be gaining an understanding of Godzilla’s thought processes and does what he can to keep the monster away from people. The arrival of Anguirus and the uncooperative nature of North Vietnamese complicates things, but once Godzilla seemingly accomplishes what he’s set out to do, he heads ‘home.’ But it wasn’t just Anguirus that Godzilla was hunting down, there was something else that was attracting him to the area…
Stokoe is delivering the decades-spanning Godzilla tale that fans have wanted for years. But while the writing of this book deserves praise, it’s the art that is the belle of the ball, so to speak. The detail of every panel makes me think that if there were ever such a thing as a high definition comic book, this would be it. There is so much detail here that I found myself getting lost in each panel. If IDW was ever going to put out a Godzilla poster, Stokoe is the man they must hire to draw it! -Skott Jimenez
PUNK ROCK JESUS #3 (Vertigo)
Now that we’re finally getting to the whole “rebellious teenager” portion of the story of a cloned Jesus, Sean Murphy is essentially going nuts. Considering the previous issues had Irish hulk McKael run a speedboat through a trawler carrying a bunch of religious conservatives and a baby being dumped into a river, that’s saying something! Murphy essentially breaks this transition issue down into three vignettes: an action-packed resolution to the climax from the previous issue, a bit about Chris’ childhood as science project/reality TV star, and fallout related to corporate sleazeball Slate getting Chris to cover up for how much of a corporate sleazeball he is.
To Murphy’s credit, each feels like a mostly complete narrative unto itself (after the previous two issues’ of sort-of-decompressed storytelling) while also maintaining his sardonic wit: there’s the “do as I say, not as I do” scene where scientist Dr. Epstein curses in front of Chris and her own child, leading the former to chant “Bullshit” on live television; later, when forced to address whether Slate may have paid a black man to keep his daughter from going to prom with Chris (after internet outrage at the prospect) and gotten a white girl to go instead, there’s a cartoonish play between Chris, Slate, and the media pundit interviewing the boy, where Murphy packs so much story and emotion into three word balloons with little dialogue. There’s plenty of other humor going on — McKael sitting beside kindergarteners or Chris trying to walk on water (to near-tragic results) because of all his Bible studies — all of which hammer at the messed up relationship between religion, economics, the security state, and culture in America, and the corruption it brings. It’s weirdness is our weirdness. -Andrew Taylor
THE WALKING DEAD #102 (Image/Skybound)
Still reeling from the violent and shocking death in #100, Rick tells everyone there is no way they can stand against Negan and that the only way they are going to survive is to give in to Negan’s demands and become part of his system. The problem is that not everyone, least of all Andrea and Carl, is pleased with this decision and this is most likely going to create a rift between these three characters. What’s really interesting is that Carl seems to be taking a more straight forward role during all this. It’s almost like he’s seeing his father break down and understands that he may have to step up and take over leadership of the group. But is Rick really getting weak?
It’s really difficult to write any sort of reviews for this series since it’s something of an unwritten law that you do not spoil what happens here (which people watching the TV series need to learn, and learn fast) so, being as vague as I can be here, I have to say that things are not what they seem and this is turning out to be a rather interesting time in the lives of these people. I’ll also say I’m glad to see Carl getting some time in the spotlight since he’s been growing up through the course of this series and we’re almost to the point where he’s really going to be developing — and, more importantly, voicing — his opinions on things.
Will this have an impact on the increasingly inevitable confrontation between Rick and Negan? Will the Hilltop Community have anything to offer in the way of aid or are they going to continue to bend to Negan’s will? We don’t know yet, but one thing’s for sure: Robert Kirkman is still writing one of the most intriguing comics being published today! -Skott Jimenez
And that wraps up another week! Let us know what you think about these books. Do you agree with our Bullets? Disagree? Now’s your chance to speak up! We have that comment section below for just that reason, you know.
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