This week’s Bullet Reviews is humbly dedicated to the late, great Gene Colan, who passed away June 23. He was one of the industry’s greatest artists and certainly left an impression on me with his EC-esque style on Marvel’s The Tomb Of Dracula. He will be missed and there will never be another one like him.
DEADPOOL #39 (Marvel)
A fun read, but also pretty pointless. Way used this story as more of a conveyance to get Wade into a mental institution. I’m definitely not complaining about the use of this issue and the previous one to accomplish Way’s goal to get Wade help, but it seemed to end abruptly. I did like, however, the misunderstanding that everyone had about Deadpool trying to help the kids and teacher. That was a fun twist to see that interaction between someone who was trying to help that is usually a bad guy and being treated as such. But, as always, I am really interested to see the mayhem that ensues next issue with Wade and his multiple personalities. -Andy Kirby
DRACULA: THE COMPANY OF MONSTERS #10 (Boom! Studios)
Scott Snyder’s exceptional American Vampire is proving there is life in the Vampire mythos yet. Though tripe like Twilight may have tried to bury it, Dracula: The Company of Monsters goes a long way toward resurrecting it. This issue sees the vampire armies of Conrad and Dracula, the ‘big two’ of the Vampiric world, go head to head as Evan and Martha’s rebellion is caught in the middle. This is deep in the story now, no place for new readers!
But if you have not been reading this series by writer Kurt Busiek then that is a shame. There is some high class drama mixed in amongst the blood-curdling action. Scott Godlewski’s artwork is suitably poised and vicious in all the right places, whether its a limb garotting action shot here or a character close up there, all the emotional beats are palpable. Though bloody, it’s surprisingly light and enjoyable and as cliff-hangers go this issue is a bastard. – Thom Atkinson
LENORE #2.2 (Titan Comics)
Second Print! An old favorite is back from the dead (or living dead as it were)! This week I picked up Lenore Vol. 2 #2, from that twisted genius, Roman Dirge. First published way back in 1992 in Xenophobe magazine, Lenore eventually started being published as its own series by Slave Labor Graphics from 1998-2007. Aided by successful merchandising, these issues continued to find new readers and were reprinted so many times I lost count. Lenore is the macabre tale of a 10 year old girl that died of pneumonia, became a zombie and has had a wide array of adventures to hell and back. Early issues were black and white and the stories were short, humorous gags. As the series evolved, the art continued to improve, the stories got longer (around issue 4), and color arrives in issue 12. The new Lenore work is still completely done by Roman Dirge and now published by Titan. This issue has Lenore being pursued by an amorous and obsessed Mr. Gosh, a feeling she does not share. Things change when she learns of Mr. Gosh’s inherited “Cupcake Castle.” Soon the tables are turned with tragic and hilarious results. The character illustrations in Lenore are fairly basic, but instantly recognizable. The backgrounds and story are dark but whimsical. Dirge writes with a totally off the wall, stream of consciousness style that will make you smile and think WTF! It really does feel like Tim Burton and Dr. Seuss took hallucinogens together and made a comic. The full page pictures and spreads are just awesome and even made me consider taking the pinup out of the book. If the ideas of “diseased rabbits wrapped in horribly tacky little rabbit snuggies,” or “chupacabras with late stage gum disease” make you laugh, read Lenore. Check out Roman Dirge at www.spookyland.com -Robb Orr
PLANET OF THE APES #3 (Boom Studios)
Ok lets get his out of the way, “those damn dirty Apes!”, now that is done lets take a look at issue 3 of this canonical series written by Daryl Gregory. These Ape antics take place before the original 1968 Planet of the Apes film and links into the continuity of the first five features. The search is on for a notorious assassin creating mass chaos, but the key reveal here will be that of the origin point of some POTA mythos. There is a variant cover this issue, one by artist Carlos Magno, one by guest Karl Richardson.
There is fervent detailing in Magno’s artwork, entrenched in yellow-brown hues from a colour board restricted to one end of the spectrum, the result is a collection of panels each resembling a mosaic. Engraved into each page the artwork doesn’t so much pop as puzzle with some characters indistinguishable from their background. Gregory’s dialogue is minimalistic, printed out in large expressive font resulting in the pace feeling sluggish. Despite some great visual ideas (hello machine gun-equipped Zeppelin) its hard to be compelled or gripped by either the artwork or the visuals. Don’t judge this book by Richardson’s excellent cover. – Thom Atkinson
SILVER SURFER #5 of 5 (Marvel)
This series has been fun… to a point. The writing by Greg Pak has been awesome as has the scale of the story but the art by Harvey Tolibao bothered me on more than one occasion. Also, I’m really not liking the Future Foundation’s costumes. I wonder why they never changed their costume and name when any of the other members of the team died? Anyway, it’s the big battle to save the moon and the Earth as the High Evolutionary (HE) has begun to cultivate life on the moon using technology he stole from Galactus. Norrin becomes the Silver Surfer again but retains the soul of his human self. HE’s herald, Seeker, is still coming to terms with her new form and station in life and has to try to defend HE from the attack of the Thing and Spider-Man. All this is very exciting but the actions of HE draw the attention of Galactus, who sees life on the moon as upsetting the cosmic balance. He must destroy the moon to set things right. Yeah, this issue teased a lot of really good fights, including one between the Evolutionary and Galactus, but didn’t deliver. I was also a bit confused on the whole ‘Silver Surfer becoming the herald of Galactus again’ thing because I thought they were already working together again… Overall, this was a fun and exciting series but the ending was a little bit of a let down to me. Had this been the first arc in an ongoing series it would have been a great set up for the next story, but as a stand alone… well, if you’re a fan of the Surfer you’ll like it. But it’s the wrap up that left me feeling empty. -Skott Jimenez
The Traveler #8 (Boom! Studios)
Officially it is, of course, Stan Lee’s The Traveler as he is credited as the Grand Poobah, but it is busy Boom! Bee Mark Waid that brings the narrative flow to this ongoing series. Joined by Tom Peyer, this issue is the latest piece in the time-traveling puzzle. All the essential elements are in play here, a lost love, a faithful companion and the chance to make a deal with your arch-enemy. The Traveler and his mysterious power-set head towards a cliffhanger ending where many things could change.
Drawn by Chard Hardin, the Traveler has the pallet of an All-Ages title, bold colours and innocuous inks make each panel a minimal meal for the eyes. The trouble with All-Ages titles is that they are typically not for ‘all ages’ but for a younger audience. The Traveler is by no means grouped in with Duck Tales, but the simple artwork and inoffensive brawling means this politically correct title echoes Stan Lee’s yesteryear sense of comic book morality. Though moderately entertaining, the Traveler, if you’ll pardon the pun, is out-dated. – Thom Atkinson
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #160 (Marvel)
I have read this book from the beginning. I jumped on at around issue 7 and have stuck with it through till now. And many times my heart strings have been plucked. But not like this. The issue itself may have been executed better–with better timing or more dialog or more explanation, but the concept, the heart of the story, couldn’t be more fitting. This book is the reason I read Spider-Man. Spider-Man is my hero. And he’s my hero for one simple reason: He will fight until the end. Sure other super teams or Marvel characters would boast of doing the same. But I say that none have quite the same will to stand and fight in the face of imminent death without the thought of retreat or haven when other people’s lives are in danger. This was an issue that showed that. The entire arc showed that Peter would give his life for those he loved and those he didn’t even know…even after he was shot and beat and brutalized. He still kept going. It reminds me of a line from a song that deeply impacted me as a youth, “If I limp…then I will RUN with a limp.” Try your hardest no matter what, even if it kills you. Do what is right no matter what, even if it seems useless. Be that hero. -THE Andy Kirby
WOLVERINE #11 (Marvel)
I find Jason Aaron’s writing interesting. He takes us to a dark place of the soul, but he also takes us on a tale of motivation. And what does motivation tell us about the characters that he writes? And what does motivation tell us about ourselves? This is the more important question. In this story arc, Aaron teaches us that the pain that we suffer through in life would be easier (and deadlier) to deal with if it could be personified. The woman in this book has a singular pain that is represented by one man. And even though a lot of her anger could be funneled to other targets, she chooses only Logan to fulfill her need for revenge. Any ounce of release along the way only sucks her in further to the goal of utter destruction of existence for the animal that is Wolverine. But what Aaron also shows us is the danger of this sole function of life. Life itself is sucked out of the one that directs that revenge until it is all-consuming. Revenge is the meaning of life instead of the means to live a meaningful life. After revenge is only death. -Andy Kirby