Bullet Reviews #79
Well, it’s that time again, kids! Bullet Reviews is back again with another selection of quick reviews and opinions on recently released book! This week we look at Demon Knights #13, Divine Wind, Halloween Eve, Hoax Hunters #4, TransFormers: ReGeneration One #84, Uncanny Avengers #1, and The Walking Dead: Michonne Special
DEMON KNIGHTS #13 (DC)
Diogenes Neves has disappeared from this title entirely, which is a shame, but Bernard Chang is a suitable replacement. The layout used for each Knight’s introduction this issue, where they’re shown being tortured by their fears (Shining Knight being told to reveal his/her gender, Horsewoman’s origin, Al Jabr’s faith being tested, etc.), shows their equal worth to the narrative. Chang is as skilled with body language and facial expressions as Neves. It’s hard to pick a single greatest moment in this issue, but Vandal Savage’s matter of fact reaction to what Hell had in store for him (it involves children and spears) has the best payoff. Savage is kind of the outlier, though, in that the rest of the Knights are more troubled. As usual, the strength of Paul Cornell’s script lies in the ambiguity of these anti-heroes-by-circumstance, and the conflict of their selfish motives with their overarching quest, which requires a mastery of the nonverbal. Chang exemplifies this in two key scenes: Exoristos’ sequence, her reaction to being told she’ll never return home related entirely with her eyes; and Etrigan’s duplicitous plotting against his comrades, something he reconsiders after trying to pick the brain of a now-subservient Madam Xanadu (“I would not dream of having a thought of my own”). It makes for fascinating reading without sacrificing any sense of adventure, which is why Demon Knights is DC’s most reliably good title. -Andrew Taylor
DIVINE WIND GN (Kickstart Comics)
I often brag on Kickstart Comics because they make some of the most unusual graphic novels in stores today. You always get more than your money’s worth when you plunk down your $8.99 for over 90 pages of great storytelling! And you actually get to read the end of the story – how different is that? Divine Wind, their latest offering, is described this way: “Five years ago, the Samurai drove back the Mongols from their shores where they were swallowed up by the Divine Wind. But their return has been inevitable and their armies gather, thirsty for revenge. Young fisherman Shoichi follows his dream of becoming a Samurai when Kublai Khan’s Mongol horde invades again. Led by the wise warrior-monk Tametomo, Shoichi and the samurai battle to the last to defend their island.” The story from Jeff Amano is a powerful one, and it is superbly illustrated by Julian Totino Tedesco. From the very first page, we’re pulled into this amazing tale, which is both small/person and also large in its scope. I was particularly struck by the interesting use of color to help us understand the varying situations. I honestly didn’t know much about Samurai’s and their culture, but Divine Wind makes me want to learn much more! If you can’t find this book in your local comics shop, you might check out the nearest Wal-Mart since Kickstart’s books may be available there as well. -Wayne Hall
HALLOWEEN EVE (Image)
As a showpiece for Amy Reeder’s storytelling gifts, this one-shot is actually quite amazing: everything in the costume shop the main character works in, from the employees to the props, including a rug that looks like an eyeball, gets utilized in the narrative when cantankerous Eve suddenly finds herself contending with Halloween itself springing to life (or it’s all in her head). Reeder and writer Brandon Montclare draw equally from Wizard of Oz and A Christmas Carol, with just a smudge of Tim Burton for good measure, as costumes menace Eve, then later embrace her. There’s an impeccable design sense (the striped stockings of a witch costume matching a shirt Eve wears), while the layouts are very playful and whimsical, particularly a nine-panel page showing the exhausting, back-and-forth frustration of the retail work Eve performs (instead of progressing in linear, left to right fashion, the panels are meant to be read in a reverse ‘S’). There’s also a mildly clever motif where a series of shrinking panels gives way to Eve seeing the face of co-worker/would-be love interest Raymond, an effeminate dweeb that she mocks as a “Fool.”
A shame such visual flair is used for such a thin plot. Eve is depicted as being shrill, loud, and obnoxious (why, she hates Halloween and dressing in costumes, even!), but Montclare doesn’t bother exploring why, oh say, she works in a costume shop when she dislikes all the things that go with it. The comic settles for a “girls just wanna be princesses and get a boy” resolution that is hackneyed compared to the complex, adult fantasy G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker provided in the first issue of their series Air. Cover up the dialogue and skip the ending, and this is fine. -Andrew Taylor
HOAX HUNTERS #4 (Image)
Hoax Hunters began as a mini-series, and if the fourth issue of the ongoing comic is any indication, this blend of The X-Files and Supernatural will be around for a long time to come!
This issue wraps up the first storyline, and plants the seeds for future stories and interesting developments for the characters. Of course, The Hoax Hunters are from a TV show that was made to debunk the strange and wonderful things that happen in our world, but in reality, they are trying to help resolve unusual situations and keep these unique things under wraps from the general public.
The comic starts off with a very cool cover, the Jack, Regan, Murder, and Ken Cadaver take on the baddie of the story, who’s trying to sacrifice what he refers to as a “godless beast.” The team won’t hear of that, so they interfere, but they learn that the menace may yet be a problem in the months ahead.
The story is fast-paced and moving, and the art is clear and appealing. I love that one of the team members is actually inside an astronaut’s outfit, and that birds fly out of the helmet when he opens it.
It’s the twisted and unique as you’ve never seen them before! Once you start reading Hoax Hunters, you won’t want to stop! -Wayne Hall
TRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE #84 (IDW Publishing)
First off: I love this series! It’s been a long time since I’ve read and really enjoyed a TransFormers series. This one has everything I love: Generation One characters in forms I recognize. The real gem of this series is Megatron. He’s actually a villain in this series. In the time the Autobots have been gone from Earth, Megatron has destroyed everything and has taken over the planet. Very few humans remain as does little of anything else. On top of that (as if that wasn’t enough) he also basically lobotomized all his Decepticons, except Starscream, so they now blindly follow him. He allows Starscream to keep his mind but removes his ability to speak while he uses the Autobot Ratchet’s body to power his land skiff.
This issue features the Wreckers and their effort to save Kup from Megatron as well as distract him long enough for the other Autobots, along with a few humans including the all-new Spike, to reach the Ark in hopes of stopping Megatron. While on Cybertron, Hot Rod keeps having visions of a possible future threat and realizes that the upcoming battle between Megatron and Optimus Prime might be Prime’s last fight. Things get worse when word comes that some Decepticons have landed on Cybertron and are heading towards the Transformer called Thunderwing!
All in all, this series has become a surprise to me. I only expected to grab the first issue (#81) then jump to trades for the rest of the run. But it’s highly entertaining and while acting like a continuation of the Marvel series from the 80’s it feels up-to-date and fresh. The writing if smooth and the art is crisp. Topping it all off is the option of having a ‘retro’ art cover keeping in line with the 80’s series! This is certainly the book fans of Generation One have been looking for.
Also, Megatron has a monologue in this issue that is absolutely fantastic! I’ve read it a few times and it just gets better! -Skott Jimenez
UNCANNY AVENGERS #1 (MARVEL NOW!)
THIS IS IT! The greatest era of the Marvel Universe starts here! From the ashes of AvX an all-new, all-different Avengers assemble! So exclaims the solicitation for this title. Originally, I wasn’t going to grab this. I’m not a follower of X-Anything, I had no interest in AvX and didn’t read a single issue and the title of this book is so bad it borders being a parody, in my opinion. Not to mention the regular cover just looks plain bad. Plus I’m not really one who looks at creators and thinks it’s going to be awesome automatically, rarely do I do this anymore, so the team on this book really didn’t mean anything to me. But enough of that, how was this book as the first issue of a ‘bold new era?’ Well, not really bold. The story could have easily been a regular issue of The Avengers featuring the fall out of AvX where we get a new team. Making this part of something where long running titles have to be ended only to be replaced with yet another #1 issue seemed unnecessary. Or that may be because I’m tired of being told first issues are so important. This issue, as I said, could have been in the regular Avengers title, but it could have also been a one-shot about Prof. X’s funeral because they really beat that into the ground here.
Perhaps it was because I was so burned out on events, and that I hadn’t read any AvX, that I wasn’t able to fully understand the impact of this issue but this feels more like a regular after event issue to me. Nothing special or groundbreaking here. I picked it up because of the whole Marvel NOW! gimmick and I’m really not seeing anything different other than those annoyingly distracting ‘AR’ boxes in certain panels.
I’ll check out other books in the Marvel NOW! era, hoping to gain re-entry into the Marvel Universe, but as a starting issue this really leaves a lot to be desired. I won’t be grabbing the second issue of this. -Skott Jimenez
THE WALKING DEAD: MICHONNE SPECIAL (Skybound/Image)
So, in case you hadn’t heard yet, there’s this little show on AMC called The Walking Dead. It’s an awesome show that has set ratings records since it debuted in 2010. Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock or have DishNet, you should know that season 3 started last night and it was fantastic! But, this isn’t a review of the show. No, this is for those of you who were wondering who the woman with Adrian was. This special will answer that question. It is a reprint of Michonne’s origin, as originally featured in Playboy Magazine, and gives some details of who Michonne was at the beginning of the outbreak. We also get details about where her favorite weapons came from and who, exactly, those zombies were that she had with her when she first appeared. The best part is while this reprints two stories that were published years apart, the Playboy story ends right where her first appearance in the series picks up. Can you believe Michonne made her grand debut in The Walking Dead #19?
Overall, it doesn’t answer what she went through to make her such a badass woman, though getting those two zombies automatically make her fairly badass, but we get enough to know that she did go through hell to get to where we would eventually meet her at the prison. It’s certainly an issue that fans of Michonne should seek out and people wondering who she was before things went all pear-shaped might find it interesting as well. Plus, since it’s written and drawn by the same team who currently does the regular series, it melts right into the ongoing story perfectly. Beyond that, another reason to grab this issue? How often does she get the cove all to herself? Not very. And with the masses being introduced to her through the TV series, this is likely going to be the ‘must have’ book of the series. Not up there with a first print #19 but darn close! -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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