Welcome back to another Bullet Reviews! This week: Criminal Macabre/30 Days Of Night #2, Dark Shadows #13, Fairest #12, Journey Into Mystery #648, Phantom Stranger #5, Repossessed #2, Superior Spider-Man #3, Transformers Prime: Rage Of The Dinobots #3, Venom #31:
CRIMINAL MACABRE/30 DAYS OF NIGHT: FINAL NIGHT #2 (Dark Horse/IDW)
Issue #2 brings us back into the battle. Vampires are finally ready to destroy all the humans. They are being led by Eben Oleman from the original 30 Days of Night series. He has gone mad and wants to destroy any humans in his path. He is gathering his troops in this issue for a full on attack. While our other characters Cal McDonald and Agent Alice Blood are getting along quite well despite Cal throwing up black bile all the time. Steve Niles delivers a little bit of everything in this issue. Cal has his team while Eben has his team. The story gets us more to the understanding that nothing bothers Cal McDonald, but if you have read any Criminal Macabre before this than you already know that. Cal isn’t one for help but Alice Blood sure can help him with this problem of a vampire army coming to town. You can tell this issue is setting us up for the grand finale in the next two issues. It is done quite well with all the little details. One of my favorite parts is where we see what happens when you piss of a ghoul. I will tell you one thing, it isn’t pretty! When I first read Final Night I was a little concerned by the artwork of Christopher Mitten. It just doesn’t have the same zing to it like other artist who have worked on this title. But after I read issue #2 his art has grown on me. He has the style and grittiness that this story needs. Because we all know one of these two franchises won’t last after this crossover. I’m sure there will be more blood, vampire, ghouls and Cal acting out in these next issues. If you are a fan of either of these series or a first timer for both, I suggest you keep reading because it is about to get fun. -Tony Calandra
DARK SHADOWS #13 (Dynamite)
If it seems like this series is getting covered a lot lately it’s because, well, I guess Dynamite is hell-bent on bringing this series up to current and doing a solid job of it. The last issue ended with quite an interesting cliffhanger (Remember when many monthly comics ended like this? An I the only one who misses those days?) as Barnabas, now human, had his soul ripped from his body and tossed into the darkness as a demon took his form. Barnabas then found his way back to the land of the living but with a few changes… First, he’s in 1984 and he’s not in his own body. It seems in the years he was gone the demon, in his body, had restored his vampiric nature and, along with Lockwood and other creatures of the night, have managed to kill nearly everyone in Collinsport except the few remaining members of the Collins clan. This is something that the show would do a lot: time travel. I was hoping it would happen in the comic soon and I got my wish. I really like how it’s being handled as well. The first half of the book is in regular Dark Shadows time and we see David and the others dealing with this personal issues while the second half jumps forward to 1984 and the end of everything. I’m just curious to see how well Mike Raicht handles this. So far it’s been handled perfectly. I’m still getting used to Nacho Tenorio’s art, some of his facial expressions are off but it’s coming together. But, as always, it’s the Francesco Francavilla cover that seals the deal making this one of my favorite ‘out-of-the-mainstream’ comics on my pull list. -Skott Jimenez
FAIREST #12 (Vertigo)
Wrapping up all the flashbacks to the old days when Rapunzel was in Japan, we finally work our way to the sure-to-be explosive climax of this story! With nods to both Japanese horror movies (Ringu) and to animation (My Neighbor Totoro) we get some interesting origins and appearances of characters I never expected. It’s been a lot of fun.
Rapunzel has been betrayed by another of the Japanese Fables and the result of that betrayal is coming to light. She’s being pushed to her limit and the rather nasty reunion with her ‘children’, along with the outburst of anger, shows there is more to Rapunzel than just a pretty head with gorgeous hair on it. All this and the arrival of Bigby and Totenkinder in Japan to find out what’s going on and how to stop it and Jack making his daring escape puts many pieces together for what is going to have to be an explosive finale!
Seriously, Lauren Beukes has done for Rapunzel what Chris Roberson did for Cinderella. She has given Rapunzel a voice and made her a solid character. I can’t say I was ever really that interested in her before now. All I can say is I truly and honestly hope that Beukes can come back for more Rapunzel stories and, I wonder, what can she do with other Fables? I sure would love to find out! -Skott Jimenez
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #648 (Marvel NOW!)
I talk a lot about covers when I talk about comics. I do this because I feel that the cover it possibly the most important part of a comic book because it’s the cover’s job to grab your attention. The cover for JiM #648 does this perfectly. The close up of Sif’s face, bathed in angry red light, does an excellent job of showing that this series is about a powerful woman.
This was an interesting tale of Sif in a far off land, put there by her brother in order to keep her warrior’s rage from hurting or killing others, and she basically ends up finding her version of the Warriors Three. We get a very entertaining panel of one of the Three testing out part of Sif’s body only to be warned never to touch those again, which shows Kathryn Immonen’s ability to perfectly balance action and humor without making either go to far. But she finds some companions and learns more about the realm she’s in and why the Three are there and I have to say it’s most interesting. Now we have to wonder what will happen in the next issue as, through actions all her own, Sif and the Three end up in New York and face to face with the Superior Spider-Man! With Sif’s warrior ego running head-to-head with Otto’s Spider-Ego I can’t imagine a more entertaining, and violent, team-up!
All in all, Journey Into Mystery continues to be one of the most entertaining and surprising books I currently collect. I just hope that for all the people supposedly upset about the lack of female characters carrying their own series that we get more readers on this fine book! -Skott Jimenez
PHANTOM STRANGER #5 (DC)
The main reason I was picking this up was because of the upcoming Trinity War storyline in DC. I was never a fan of the Phantom Stranger in any DC universe, but he’s growing on me here. I remember him from some old JLA books, but he’s moved beyond being just the “stranger” he was back then . He’s still on the mystical side of things – what with previous issues having him involved with Trigon and his daughter Raven (who, as per solicits, will soon appear in Teen Titans), as well as Constantine and the Justice League Dark last issue. This time, though, he’s up against the big gun. Not one of, but THE big gun: The Spectre. Yes, it’s Stranger vs. Spectre and neither of them like each other much. Stranger thinks that the Spectre has kidnapped his family; Spectre just wants to kick the BLEEP out of the Stranger. They both get put into their place by an entity which one assumes is God (speaking through a terrier, no less), and intimates that they are opposite sides of the same coin and they each balance one another. But now, to make matters worse, enter another enigmatic DC character: the Question. I was hesitant as I’ve not always been a DiDio fan, but with DeMatteis involved that made me a little happier – long time fan of his writing. The art was quite good, but the cover by Jae Lee was downright disturbing… and I loved it. If this is where the series is going, I may keep it on my radar. -Kelly Cassidy
REPOSSESSED #2 (Image)
I picked up this book since I wanted to try something out of my normal comfort zone of Marvel and DC. Lately, I’ve been surprised with some of the books coming out of Image. I had given them a chance a long time ago, like WHEN THEY FIRST FORMED but then didn’t pay as much attention to them (partly due to only having a finite amount of money to spend on comics). Now, instead of just going for having every issue of a series (my past method), I spend a lot more time on quality. And I think this book falls into that category. Long story short: we have demons, demon hunters, mystical weapons, normal weapons that use mystical ammo, and even more demons. I was not familiar with JM Ringuel, who is the creator of the book (writing, art, coloring… it appears this truly is a one-man show) but if he has anything else out there right now I’m interested in finding out about it. The artwork style reminds me of what I would associate with an old kung-fu or samurai movie, and the writing kind of reminds me of a Tarantino homage to those self-same movies (although with less curse words). This is only a 4-issue miniseries, which kind of sucks, although when he’s doing the entire thing himself you can’t push for more. I will definitely be picking up the rest of this series. -Kelly Cassidy
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #3 (Marvel NOW!)
First.. the cover is SWEET! By far my favorite cover of the series so far (yeah, i know, it’s only on the third issue but this tops the first issue’s cover!) and we’re beginning to enjoy the tone of the series and building on what we’ve already seen. After finally destroying all the possible criticisms of the series and character in the first two issues, including a rather pathetic rape criticism, Spider-Man is still trying to balance his ego and Peter Parker’s life but, well, pretty much by doing whatever he wants anyway, within reason because, after all, Peter Parker is still around and trying to get his life back.
While Carlie Cooper, who’s obviously much smarter than Mary Jane, is slowly putting something together in her mind about Spider-Man (she’s really beginning to realize that he isn’t right and I think will be one of the first to all but figure out what happened), Peter is experiencing something different: He’s actually able to relive Otto’s memories as if he’s watching them happen for the first time. It’s this part that I have to wonder about. Otto has always been an egomaniac and that was part of the fun – he never really seemed to have a reason for the way he was, he was just a jerk. Now, through his memories, we learn more about his life and, naturally, the reason he is this way. The sad part is it’s a generic reason. This is one thing I never liked: making villains sympathetic. Can’t we just have bad guys who are bad because they like it? Wouldn’t that be fun?
However, I have to trust Dan Slott and the direction he’s going with this. His work on Spider-Man has given us some of the best Spider-Man stories in years. There has to be a reason he’s doing all this and I’m along for the ride. Superior Spider-Man is, without a doubt, one of the best examples of Marvel COMICS we have today. -Skott Jimenez
TRANSFORMERS PRIME: RAGE OF THE DINOBOTS #3 (IDW)
I reviewed issue 1 here at ComicBooked and only recently was able to get my hands on #2 and #3. Now this… THIS is the upgraded AND the classic Dinobots, all in one shot! We have Grimlock truly playing the leader role, putting up his life for his team. Fighting the bad guy, Ser-Ket (as in Circuit – I groaned a little inside on that one), Grimlock has the option of staying in robot mode, which offers him a level of control, or dino mode, in which he can lose himself. Well, Swoop has been remade into a slave of Ser-Ket so Grimlock does what is needed to save his comrade… which results in the Grimlock of old reappearing. “Me Grimlock! Me KING!” That’s what was missing and is now no longer lingering. It’s there. But the fact that he can gain control instead of falling to the base power there shows how the character has progressed in my time away and now makes me want to catch up on everything I missed. There’s also the reunion at the end of Shockwave recurring (which doesn’t make sense why he is on the cover, although they do refer to his return throughout so at least it wasn’t a complete surprise). The artwork is superb as well – enough that it feels like the classic cartoon. I didn’t like some of the updated shows which had a more anime feel, but this was the Transformers of old for me… but with the detail missing from those old cartoons. I am glad IDW put this out – the Dinobots have signaled a return to Transformers for me. -Kelly Cassidy
VENOM #31 (Marvel)
Although I only started reading the current Venom incarnation due to his appearances in Secret Avengers and Scarlet Spider, he is growing on me. Whereas the Venom of old had 2 sides – the host and the symbiote - there is now a 3rd persona to this Venom: a demon that is also housing himself within Flash’s body. When he isn’t focusing, the demon takes control and bad things happen. Really. When Daimon Hellstrom says bad things will happen, bad things will happen – and Daimon’s the Son of Satan! This issue has Flash moving to Philadelphia to try to start fresh. New people, new surroundings. He doesn’t want to make it clear that Venom is there, though; he and Venom showing up in Philly at the same time? Well, his reporter friends could put 2 and 2 together… So enter a new alter ego for him/them, which you really have to see to believe. And then of course we have the return of Eddie Brock… Cullen Bunn has done a good job here, and since Venom is dating the Valkyrie (who is headlining in Fearless Defenders which Bunn is also writing) we can expect a crossover of sorts! Declan Shalvey’s art is good; not the best I have seen from him, but good, but it is raised up a notch with the coloring assistance from Lee Loughridge. I think Venom is separating from the other Spider-books with this move out of New York, allowing him to become something new and not be overshadowed by another spider-based character. It’s not on the pull list yet, but it’s getting there. -Kelly Cassidy