Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 & 2

(Submitted by our Superhero Scifi buddy, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo

In Guardians of the Galaxy, a group of intergalactic criminals are forced to work together to stop a fanatical warrior from taking control of the universe. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2′ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. (Marvel Studios)

When I saw the teaser trailer for the first Guardians of the Galaxy, I wasn’t all that into it. I fully blame the Thor franchise for this, as the forced humor in those films, seemed to be rearing its ugly head here. However, to be fair, I knew very little about the Guardians of the Galaxy. Instead of getting on the internet to bitch and moan about what I wasn’t liking, I hopped on to Amazon and bought two trade paperbacks of the newest comics. In truth, the humor was perfectly appropriate for the odd ball bunch of characters that make up the team. After finally seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, I absolutely loved it. It quickly became one of my favourite MCU films and ranks in my top 5 from Marvel Studios. Yes, there’s a lot of comedy throughout but what James Gunn does, is make you care about the characters and shows you their tragedies, so that the humor has greater effect when it finally happens. This film starts with young Peter Quill by his mother’s bedside, as she gives him one last parting gift and words of wisdom, before succumbing to brain cancer. He then runs out of the hospital, only to get abducted by an alien space ship. That is a harrowing but heartbreaking way to open a film. While the rest of the story also hinges on Peter Quill, the other Guardians have their own issues. Most of these aren’t brought to bear visually like Star Lord, however they’re all discussed. Gamora has familial issues, being the adopted daughter of Thanos and having a sibling rivalry with her sister Nebula. Not to mention, she’s acting as a double agent of sorts, in the process of double crossing Thanos. The family drama is very real world, just like Peter’s mothers death from cancer is, it just takes place on an intergalactic scale. I love that no matter how odd these character are, their emotional baggage is very relatable. Rocket Racoon and Groot are more unique from the rest of the humanoid looking group. Rocket is a creation, a genetically altered talking racoon, while Groot is the last of his kind, a talking tree, with a speech impediment, where everything he says is heard as “I am Groot.” While both characters are adorable, they are outcasts amongst a team of misfits. If you’re someone who doesn’t feel comfortable in their own skin, or you feel misunderstood, you will gravitate towards these characters beyond their cuteness. Drax is the only character that’s hard to relate to. After all, when we first meet him, he’s in prison for going on a murderous revenge tour. However, he is trying to avenge the deaths of his family and has killed or is going after, Thanos and or those connected to him, or took part in the murder of his family. So while you might not identify with him, you will sympathize with him.

In several trailers and promotions, the Guardians of the Galaxy were classified as criminals and outlaws and technically they are, but that’s a misrepresentation. They don’t do anything in the film to make you second guess them, or root against them. As you discover their backstories throughout the film and watch them interact with each other, they’re nothing but lovable characters. This is an ensemble film but as I said, Star Lord is the main character and the team all meet through him. That occurs when the film picks up with the adult Star Lord stealing an orb contain an infinity stone and attempting to sell it to a dealer. The dealer reneges on the arrangement when he learns Thanos is after the stone. Speaking of Thanos, not only does he send Gamora after Peter Quill, he sends out a bounty for the capture of the self-proclaimed Star Lord. This gets Groot and Rocket on his trail, as well as his old partner/father figure Yondu. Yondu is the alien who kidnapped Peter at the behest of Peter’s mysterious celestial father, who Yondu describes as an asshole. He decided not to take Peter to his father and groomed him as a Ravager. However, he feels betrayed by Peter and wants to get in on that bounty cash. As Gamora, Rocket and Groot try and apprehend Peter, they are all caught by Nova Corps officers and are thrown in the Kylm, a prison in a trading post called Knowhere. It is here where the characters truly meet. They decided to team up to not only break out of prison, as well as selling the orb/gem to Gamora’s contact, the Collector. Drax comes into the equation because he wants to kill Gamora, in his quest for revenge on Thanos. However, Peter Quill talks him down, suggesting that if he joins them, he will get his revenge on Thanos, so he acquiesces. Speaking of Thanos, displeased with Gamora’s efforts, he sends Ronan, essentially his overpowered henchmen to take them out and retrieve the infinity stone. After they escape prison, they eventually strike an accord with the Nova Corps and Yondu, to join forces and bring down Ronan, which they obviously do. As for the infinity stone, even though Star Lord promised to give it to Yondu, he double crosses him and entrusts it to the Nova Corps. I mentioned the humor throughout the film and it comes in the characters interactions. I loved all of Peter Quill’s 80’ references, including Patrick Swayze in dirty dancing, and Tony Danza in Who’s the Boss. Not to mention, Peter’s ship being named after Alyssa Milano. Gamora’s naiveté mixed in with her overall badassery made the character a good addition. As I said Groot and Rocket were the most adorable characters but having Rocket be the only one to understand Groot is hilarious. It’s like a one sided version of broken telephone, where based on Rocket’s response, we the audience can piece together what Groot says. Also, Rocket being a sarcastic jackass and asking the group to steal another inmates prosthetic leg to assist in his escape plan just to see if they’d do it, made me laugh.. Drax’s humor came from his bluntness and lack of understanding of sarcasm. For example, when Star Lord says a pun went over Drax’s head, Drax responds; “Nothing goes over my head. If it did, my reflexes are so fast, I’d reach out and catch it. “Or when he refers to Gamora as a “Green Skinned Slut”, when he admits he has gotten over his grudge against her . He’s so straight faced and honest about it, I couldn’t help but laugh at the dichotomy of calling someone a slut and your friend in the same breath.

Two aspects of the first film I didn’t like were the villain and the third act finale. Ronan is another terrible villain. He’s a glorified lackey for Thanos, and the character is so over the top. It’s mustache twirl level. The film tells us that he wants to use the infinity gem to put an end to the Kree/Xandar treaty, which he feels has wronged his people the Kree, but the story never delves further into that. His antagonism to the Guardians of the Galaxy is nothing more than them being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as well as being in position of the Infinity Gem. The other thing that I didn’t care for was that Star Lord challenges Ronan to a dance off to distract him, while the others get the Infinity Gem away from him. As noted, I’ve loved every bit of humor in this film up to this point, but this dance off was out of place. The fate of Xandar and potentially the universe is at stake, and that’s the first thing you come up with. Does Marvel have a “1 Joke per Script Page” rule for their films or what? Not only did this gag pull me out of the film, but it lessened the severity of the situation and the impact of Groot’s death to spare his teammates. Don’t worry, in typical Marvel fashion, Groot didn’t really die, Rocket was able to collect pieces of him and plant him in a pot, so he could regrow.

The sequel for my money is a step up from the original in my opinion. Make no mistake, in terms of story, and story structure it’s pretty much the same. Characters and situations change, but the story structure doesn’t break the mold. This time around, the Guardians of the Galaxy are hired by the leader of the Sovereign nation to retrieve special batteries from a monstrous alien. In exchange for returning the batteries, the group is granted custody of Nebula who was captured for stealing the batteries in the first place. As they are dismissed, Rocket can’t help but steal a few batteries. Upon discovery of this the Sovereign leader sends of fleet of ships to attack the group and retrieve the batteries. When that fails, she hires Yondu and his Ravagers to retrieve the batters and capture the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Guardians of the Galaxy eventually team up with Yondu and his crew, not only to defeat the Sovereign army, but defeat the much larger threat of the film. A Guardian of the Galaxy even sacrifices themselves for another team member. Sounds a lot like the first film doesn’t it!? Despite this, there’s enough fresh elements that make this sequel better than the original.

The film does pick up on several open ended threads left open from the first film. One of which is Peter Quill’s celestial father. The character is first introduced in a flashback to his courtship and mating with Peter’s Mother. For this scene, the filmmakers used the de-aging CGI on Kurt Russell and you know what, it looks really good. I thought I was watching actual footage of 1980’s Kurt Russell. We first see him in earnest in the film, when he mysteriously provides an escape route for the Guardians as they evade the Sovereign Fleet. After a rough landing by the Milano, Star Lord finally meets his father Ego. Ego invites his son and crew to his planet. Once there, we get plenty of exposition detailing that Ego is a Celestial that manipulated matter to form a planet and placed itself at the planet’s core. After hundreds of years, he got lonely, so he formed a human body and traveled the universe, which ultimately led him to Earth and the love of his life Meredith Quill. When Peter asks why he didn’t return to Earth when she got ill and died, he intimated that a world without Meredith was a world he didn’t want to be on. He reiterates that he sent Yondu to retrieve him after Meredith’s death and blames Yondu for their delayed reunion. We get scenes of the newly acquainted father/son do bonding over shared taste in Earth music and Ego teaching Peter how to use his celestial power and manipulate energy and matter. This leads to a celestial game of catch. I got so swept up emotion of these scenes, that I didn’t see the twist coming. That twist being that this is all a ruse and Ego is the true villain of the film. He’s been looking for his son all this time, to use his son Peter’s celestial power, combined with his, to activate the seedling he planted on Earth to terraform it into an extension of himself. If that isn’t bad enough, he reveals he planted the tumor in Meredith’s brain, so she would die, allowing him to be left alone and easy for the taking. Even worse still, he’s attempted to do this on other planets he’s visited, but failed because his other progeny died when trying to harness their celestial powers. To use a wrestling term, I did not see that heel turn coming. One of the main reason I like this film a bit more than the first, is because Ego is a much better villain than Ronan. Part of that is the familial connection between Star Lord and Ego and part of it is the acting of Kurt Russell. The way both he and Chris Prat switch between being best of friends, to mortal enemies is emotional, raw and flawless. I could feel both the love and hate between the two characters through the course of the film. This plot point also gave us more info and more screen time for Yondu.

In the first film, you saw that Yondu and Peter Quill had an admiration for each other but the relationship was fractured. From Peter’s perspective, he believed that the only reason Yondu took him and kept him around, was because he was someone who could help him steal, getting into places where Yondu and his team couldn’t fit into. In this film, Yondu reveals that the main reason he kept him around, was because he didn’t want Ego to get his hands on Peter. Yondu taught Peter how to be self-sufficient and fend for himself. In a revealing dialogue with Rocket, Yondu reveals that he grew to love Peter and considers him his son. His action of taking Peter as a child got him in trouble with The Ravagers higher up personnel. Child trafficking is a no-no amongst The Ravagers. This plot point gives a cameo by Sylvester Stallone, who plays Stakar Ogord, and Michael Rosembaum as his right hand man, who exile Yondu and his crew from the Ravagers. Yay to James Gunn for including a cameo from Sly and Rosembaum. Boo to James Gunn for not putting Stallone and Russell in a scene together, for a mini Tango and Cash reunion. Anyways, back to Yondu. The moment where he sacrifices his life, to save Peter from dying in an explosion in a fight with Ego, was epically tragic. The moment before his death, where he says; “He may be your father, but I’m your daddy”, brought me to tears. This death does have a finality to it as well. Earlier in the film, Yondu makes a Marry Poppins reference that is quite funny. I won’t spoil it but keep an eye out for it. Michael Rooker is known as a character actor but he steals the film. By far my favourite character in the film, with Ego coming in second.

Three of my favourite characters from the first film left me with a mixed reaction. Groot was even better than last time, while Rocket and Drax left me wishing they would just shut up and had me rolling my eyes. Groot had only one way to go and that was up. As much as I loved Groot the first time around, how can you not love Baby Groot? The cutest part was how at every chance he got, he cuddled every member of his Guardians teammates. You will “aww” every time you see it. The funny part is when Rocket tries to explain to him about not touching the button to set off the bomb. He understands the words coming out of Rocket’s mouth, but he can’t truly comprehend them, which is why he wanted to push the button that set off the bomb. Essentially he has the mind of a two year old. Every time he appeared in a scene, that dynamic when mixed with what the rest of the group was going through, added the perfect amount of levity and fun to the situation. Rocket’s attitude in the first film was bold, brash and justified given his characters circumstances. However in this film, his attitude was amplified, to the point where he actively tried to push his crew members away. I understand that he felt that getting close to people hasn’t worked out in the past, so why go through that again, however, he got through those issues by the end of the first film. So this behaviour felt like retreading old ground from volume one. Speaking of retreading, Drax was a huge step backwards in volume 2. In the first film, his bluntness and naïveté was a driving force of humor. So James Gunn decided to ratchet that up ten notches, to where it became forced. This resulted in Drax becoming a cackling misogynistic brute, who besmirched and insulted Ego’s assistant Mantis, just to deflect his apparent growing feelings for her throughout the film. He flat out calls her ugly, I believe the word he uses is hideous. Then there’s the barrage of dick jokes he makes. He literally stops Ego in a piece of important, character building dialogue, to ask Ego if he created a dick for himself and how big it is. Then he and Star Lord make suggestive comments about the sizes of their package, I’m good with a raunchy penis joke now and again, but I think the four or five in this film were a bit excessive. Also, seeing as the Guardians of the Galaxy is the most kid friendly franchise to date in the MCU, you should be mindful that there are youngsters in the audience. There may have been more dick jokes in this film then Deadpool and for me, that’s problematic.

Much like the rest of both films, I am overall extremely satisfied with the visual effects in the films. The entire VFX team should be commended for making two entirely CGI characters Rocket Racoon and Groot look so real. Not going to lie, there were so many times in the first film, I wanted to reach out and pet Rocket or swing from Groot. Yes the performances are what connect you to characters, however, the first visual impressions makes you believe these characters exist, and these visuals succeed in that aspect in spades. Considering his background in smaller, low budget films I was impressed with several action scenes he crafted. Both films feature a space battle, between The Milano and Ronan’s warship in the first film, and the Sovereign fleet in the sequel. The space battles are epic in these particular scenes, almost Star Wars level worthy. Notice I said almost, so no one freak out. During the fight with the Sovereign fleet battle, when looking at the space battle from a POV shot of inside the Sovereign’s ships is a visual nod to an 80’s video game, which is in keeping with the fun tone of these films. The opening scenes of both films, are some of the most enjoyably interactive I’ve ever seen. Seeing Star Lord dance his way through an alien landscape, using dead fish like creatures as a microphone, dancing his way to stealing the orb, is like a hilarious absurd melding of So You Think You Can Dance and Indiana Jones. That shouldn’t work, but it does, making for an incredibly fun opening montage. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 starts with The Guardians fighting an alien monster, while Groot has music blaring in a stereo and is dancing, oblivious to the fight in the foreground. I love this opening because as a viewer, you’re totally transfixed, wanting to watch the battle, but at the same time, hooting and hollering over Groot’s adorably hilarious dancing. The third act featured Ego the living planet being destroyed. We almost got a firsthand look at a planet crumbling to its extinction. I’ve never seen it done quite like this. Ego transforms into a disembodied head at one point, which normally I don’t like, but it forces Peter to manipulating matter into Pac Man. Any time I can get Pac-Man references in a film is a positive. There were two instances where the CGI looked terrible. In the first film, when the Guardians join hands, trying to grab the infinity stone, the scene is engulfed in purple, as the team is literally being torn apart. This had to be one of the lamest looking third act finales in a comic book film. A clear sign that the filmmaker had exhausted his budget. In the second film, during the aforementioned fight with the alien monster, said monster looks rather rubbery and obviously CGI. Not as rubbery as the shark in Batman ’66 but considering we’re in 2017, this shouldn’t be an issue.

As I mentioned, when this film franchise first began, I had no idea who The Guardians of the Galaxy even were. As I said, the first trailer for the film didn’t even get me excited for the film. Yet, here we are two films into the franchise and their two of the best of the Marvel brand. One of the best things about these movies is, while they’re part of the MCU, they are standalone films in their own right. While I seem to have more issues with the second film, there was enough positive elements in Volume 2, that I still put it ahead of the first film. No matter which film you enjoy more, you’re guaranteed a sci-fi space opera full of emotion, humor and action featuring instantaneously lovable characters. Revisit the first one and most definitely see Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, if you haven’t already.

#ThemysciraThursday Comic Book Review: The Legend of Wonder Woman #1-9

(Rejoice, Kinky Ho-s, as our long awaited Wondy movie is now just around the corner…Prasie Hera! 😉 Here to help us get properly prepped for the Wondrousness is our resident SuperheoSciFi Guru, Mr. Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)

“On the hidden island of Themyscira, the Amazons, led by Queen Hippolyta, live in a kingdom of peace, protected by the gods. But the balance is upset when Hippolyta is granted what no immortal may have: a child, given life from the clay of the island. She is the princess Diana, who alone can sense the evil that is infesting the Amazon’s home.” (DC Entertainment)

The first nine issues of this digital first comic book retrace Wonder Woman’s origins and time on Themyscira. Many elements from the other Wonder Woman origin story I reviewed for you (Wonder Woman: The True Amazon) overlap in this story, but the perspective is different and makes this story unique. What I notice here is that while man’s world was full of hate and war, Hippolyta, along with her sisters forged her nation of woman who spoke of love and compassion, but were equally as mighty with their sword and axes. However, unlike the men, the Amazon’s were never inherently cruel. Impressed with this balance, Zeus granted Hippolyta and her sister’s immortality so that they would be able to oversee the growth and prosperity of the Amazon’s. As years pass, Hippolyta is filled with sorrow because immortals cannot give birth. Her festering anguish led her astray. During the invasion of Hercules, she had a sexual tryst with Theseus, allowing Hercules’ army to gain the upper hand leading to the defeat and death of one of Hippolyta’s sister, Penthesilea. After seeing the results of her indiscretion, she chose to abandon her longing for children and while her Amazon sisterhood were upset that she betrayed them, they chose her to lead them back to peace and prosperity as their Queen. Meanwhile, in the heavens, the gods were at war with a Titan. While they defeated the Titan, the battle ravaged the Earth, so the gods created an island sequestered away from humanity to prevent further disaster. Zeus invites the Amazon’s to live on a piece of said island known as Themyscira, in exchange for making it a place of peace and provide worship to the gods. To seal the deal, Zeus promises to give souls of daughters to mortal Amazons, once every 10 years. Still left childless, it is the mystical sands and wishing of Hippolyta that bring Diana into this world. I find in this book compared to most others, the Amazon’s are far more harmonious with the ancient gods. Most books don’t showcase the Amazons as being so submissive and worshiping the Gods in such detail. So much so, that Hippolyta’s sisters align themselves with worshiping and being somewhat of an emissary of those gods. However, while men are shown for their propensity for hatred and warfare, this books puts the blame for the suffering and devastation in Man’s world on the gods. This book also clearly identifies the Amazon’s as human beings who are granted immortality and extra ability. I think that past iterations of Wonder Woman stories have made them quasi god-like in their own right, however when doing that, it makes the presence of the gods somewhat moot. I didn’t like Diana’s clay origin this time around. The clay being able to bring Diana to life because Hippolyta essentially thinks/wills her into being, basically makes her a Green Lantern minus the ring, or his duties. Diana being given life by the gods, makes her extra special in my book.

Speaking of Diana, she is much more the traditional one we are used to, as opposed to the bitchy spoiled brat from Wonder Woman: A True Amazon. Here, Diana has a strong unwavering desire to join the military of Paradise Island and commence her training. However, her mother would rather groom her to be future Queen so she can win favor from the gods, ultimately being granted immortality by the gods. While mother and daughter are at odds over this, they share the same reasoning; to protect the other. Hippolyta worries that Diana’s mortality will be tested if she joins the warrior ranks, while Diana wants to use her training and warrior status to protect her mother and home world from a dark mystical threat, only she seems to sense. In this segment of the story, ultimately Diana pretends to abide her mother’s wishes, while secretly training with Alicippe. While Diana feels disheartened for disobeying her mother, it turns out she knew all along and despite her misgivings, allowed Alicippe to continue her training because it makes Diana happen. During her training, Diana learns that her mother was the fiercest warrior the Amazon’s have ever known. Thus, Diana realizes her mother’s concern for her because she’s fought in battle and knows the costs. Still, this only brings Diana closer to her mother, strengthening her resolve to fight alongside her fellow warriors. Honestly, of all the Wonder Woman stories I’ve read, this one makes me feel the most genuine and invested in the mother/daughter bond of Hippolyta and Diana. The arrival of Steve Trevor on Themyscira is more purposeful and serves an added purpose in this story. It seems as though whatever great dark threat Diana sensed was to plague Themyscira, actually pulled Steve Trevor’s plane towards the island. Think of it kind of like the Bermuda Triangle myth. I think I like this idea better, then it just being a happy accident. When Hippolyta’s sisters learn of the plane crash, they plan to use a “wild man” scampering unchecked around the island, to discredit Hippolyta’s leadership, and take her place as Queen. One of the sisters even contemplates murder. However, their plan is thwarted by Diana and Alicippe, with Alicippe ultimately losing her life in the process. I love that there is jealousy and resent among Hippolyta’s sisters. Look, I can suspend disbelieve that most women can live on an island and live in harmony together. But I’ve known too many woman who hold grudges and “hate” each other, for the most ridiculous of reasons. So it makes sense that if one sister was favored by Zeus over others, there would be some anger and jealousy at play. The gladiator games that bring Wonder Woman to man’s world are not a mere commemorative ceremony in this book. Here, the winner gets to decide the fate of the intruder Steve Trever. Diana of course wins the event and decides to escort Steve home. I like that the Amazon gladiatorial tournament had more stakes involved then just being something ritualistic. While we never see Wonder Woman in costume yet, she is given her heroic wardrobe by her mother and it’s confirmed that in this iteration, the gods have embed the elements of her heroic costume with blessings, that when worn, give Diana her extraordinary abilities. In previous iterations, her divine birth has been the cause of her abilities. Truly, I’m fine with both interpretations. The relationship/infatuation is just started/teased here between Diana and Steve. It seems as though they are going to expand that over the course of several issues. I prefer this, rather than having it force fed to us in one shot.

The art drawn by Ray Dillon. The art is much more modern looking than the last Wonder Woman graphic novel I reviewed here. It also has a little bit of an animated feel to it, without ever veering into overly cartoonish. Diana, as she ages from childhood to adulthood, looks like our very own Miss Kinky Horror. That’s perfectly fine by me by the way. My favourite page is the splash page of the gods battling Titan at the top portion of the page, while the Earth is being ravaged by volcanic eruption and flooding as a result of their war. It’s powerful and mythic imagery that highlights the powers of the Gods. I noted that the gladiatorial games as drawn in Wonder Woman: A True Amazon looked like Ben Hur. The gladiatorial tournament in The Legend of Wonder Woman visually reminds me of 300! A huge part of the beauty of this art is the colors. The shot of Pegasus prancing elegantly with sunlight shining in behind is literally the most beautiful shot I’ve seen in a comic book over the last year. Also, the cloud of darkness engulfing Themyscira is perfectly creepy and menacing. If you had any doubt that Themyscira is the most beautiful location in the DC Universe, this book will confirm it.

This is a fantastic read. You may feel as though you know Wonder Woman’s origin, but the twists to familiar scenarios, a deeper connection between mother and daughter, and spectacular looking art makes this a must read for Wonder Woman fans everywhere. Now I don’t know specific details of the Wonder Woman film, but there are scenes from the trailers that seem to be pulled right out of this book. For that reason, I recommend reading this book, as a pre-movie ritual leading up to your viewing of the film. For myself, the week leading up to the release, I plan on doing a Wonder Woman marathon consisting of, the television series, episodes of the Justice League animated series and a stack of comic books. PS: The wait is almost over my friends!

#SuperheroSaturday Cartoon Time: Captain America, Episode 1

Happy Free Comic Book Day, true believers! Question: who’s strong and brave, here to save the American Way?

That’s right, comic creeps! It’s Captain America, the Star-Spangled Man with a plan! I just love a man in uniform, especially one who knows how to work a (flag)pole! 😉

We all know Cap is a Hitler-punchin’, swear-hatin’ butt-kicker with a heart of gold, but how did he get to be that darn awesome? Captain America: The First Avenger gave us an origin story, but it wasn’t the first. Oh no, sir! That ho-nor belongs to first episode of Captain America from 1966!

Airing as part of  The Marvel Super Heroesthe first episode of Captain America was actually three chapters that made up a whole story. These chapters were The Origin of Captain America, Wreckers Among Us, and Enter Red Skull.

What makes this cartoon eXXXtra special for today is that, like all The Marvel Super Hero shorts, this superheroic adventure was taken straight out of the comics in every conceivable way! The animation consisted of photocopied images taken directly from the comic art and manipulated to created “motion.” These Marvel toons certainly didn’t move much, but what they did do is showcase the art of Marvel’s best and brightest. In this Cap Cartoon, you’ll see some art work from the legendary Jack Kirby come to life, and what could be more appropriate for Free Comic Book Day than that? Excelsior!

Check out Cap and his Mighty Shield below:

 

Kinky Komic Review: Van Helsing Vs Frankenstein

(Submitted by our Superheroscifi Guru, Mr. Prince Adam. Thanks, Super friend! 🙂 xoxo)

“Liesel Van Helsing has dedicated her life to keeping the streets of New York City safe from the otherworldly threats that lurk in the night. However, when she teams up with a hunter who is every bit as cunning as she is, the very nature of the hunt is thrown into question. With the tables turned, and Helsing now on the run from an unstoppable foe, she must unite with the creatures of darkness if she wishes to survive.” (Zenescope)

After reading the first Van Helsing mini-series, I was eager to get back to her world and stories.  After fighting and beating Dracula, where do you go from there?  Well, wrier Pat Shand decided our vampire hunter’s next hunt would be Frankenstein, the most famous living dead man-monster.  Before we get to that, let me be clear, that I skipped several stories in the Grimm Fairy Tales line of stories to get to this one.  So the opening scenes where Liesel is at a bar hanging with her fellow monster hunters. The only one I recognized was Robyn Hood.  It wasn’t two confusing though, as Mr. Shand gives you enough information on the others that are pertinent for this story.  I do love that the bar scene is included though because it put extra ordinary people, in ordinary everyday situations that colleagues and friends would engage in. It gives another layer of humanity to a story full of monsters.  While Van Helsing’s lover Hades, the Greek god of hell is present, he’s only in the story briefly.  However, I do like that Pat Shand deals with the main hurdle in this relationship. Liesel is concerned because she is a mortal, and he is immortal. She worries how their relationship could last when she will get old and he will not. I love that this is an issue, because in such a relationship, this would be a concern. It also reminded me of a similar story arc in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.  Truthfully, anything that calls to mind the Lois Lane/Superman relationship is a win for me.  Come to think of it, that’s a conundrum the Buffy/Angel and Buffy/Spike relationship faced, which makes it even more prevalent for me.  She is so worried about this, that while Hades is away at a family meeting on mount Olympus, Liesel believes she has discovered an experiment and formula, which would allow her to transfer her memories and consciousness to another body.  This plot point transitions the story into Frankenstein territory.

To keep her mind off of her relationship worries she teams with two members of her bar friends for a hunt.  Those characters are Franklin and Taylor Shelley.  Taylor is a cryptozoologist and she provides all the info on the monsters they fight, what their weaknesses are etc. Her husband Franklin, is the legit monster hunter of the group, although, Taylor does her fair share.  What I love most about this couple is their last name.  It’s a great nod by Pat Shand to the creator and writer of Frankenstein.  The monster they are hunting is Mothman, a giant sized monster that is exactly what his name implies.  It very much comes off as a B horror movie villain, which is by no means an insult.  What I also loved about this book is the origin of Frankenstein. It all starts when Franklin is killed by the Mothman.  He is brought back to the Shelley lab where Taylor creates a temporary body for Franklin’s mind, which is actually preserved by Moth Man’s venom.  The cool thing for me, is that Taylor creates the body from discarded monster parts they’ve hunted.  However, in addition to preserving his brain, it’s also making Franklin incoherent and crazy.  What I notice is that this Frankenstein monster was created out of necessity, from a place of love.  In the original and in most variations, the creation of the monster is done out of hubris, because the doctor felt like he could play God.  I love how powerful this new take on Frankenstein is. He went on a destructive murderous rampage and beat Van Helsing within an inch of her life, Liesel even makes mention of that fact in their final confrontation.  The last time I’ve seen comic book villains this imposing were Bane in Knightfall, Doomsday in The Death of Superman, or The Joker in The Killing Joke.  The fact that I actually feared for the main characters life, albeit briefly, is a testament to the intriguing and intense storytelling.  Given what unfolds and the death and destruction that has occurred, it’s understandable that Liesel deems it necessary to kill Franklin. I also understand Taylor’s opposition to Liesel’s decision.  Love makes you do crazy thing sometimes, so I completely understood Taylor physically trying to stop Liesel from committing the act.  The ending was a little iffy for me.  Without spoiling anything, the ending was very weighty, with significant loss, which was somewhat lessened by what I thought to be a forced “happily ever after” moment.  However, I’ll give the ending credit for tying back in to Van Helsing’s concerns about her relationship with Van Helsing and putting them into perspective.

The artwork for this story is done by Leonardo Colapietro, His style is very current with comic book trends.  It’s actually quite similar to the artist of the previous volume.  I loved the Mothman design, it reminded me a little bit of the movie The Fly. Especially, the eyes and even the mouth area a bit. The most gruesome scene was seeing the Mothman rip out Franklin’s throat.  The design of Frankenstein really stands out in his first splash page reveal.  He’s got the trademark stitching. He’s got bolts on his body but he has metal attached to his arms and hands, his jaw is even metallic, and he is connected with wires and such.  It’s a nice mix of classic yet new.  In fact, he’s’ got a little Incredible Hulk mixed in with Cyborg Superman… To quote Aquaman in the Justice League trailer… I dig it. What I don’t dig is the look of Van Helsing’s costume, Gone is the top hat, the steampunk goggles, bustier tops, shorts and fishnet stockings.  In its place are leather pants, a leather Harley Quinn colored crop top and a black trench coat.  Her original look made her stand out and was unique. This design was not.  It reminded me of when DC put Wonder Woman in a leather jacket and pants, to appease more sensitive folks…and I hated that!

This story certainly took Liesel Van Helsing in a bigger and bolder direction. It had far more action, yet never forgot to keep things personal.  With her father dead, the personal connection came in the form of her relationship with Hades, as well as her interplay with her fellow hunter colleagues.  Not only am I interested to delve deeper into the world of Van Helsing but I’m more convinced to back track and read about the other Grimm Fairy Tale characters too. If you liked the first mini-series, this is a MUST READ!  

Kinky Komic Review: Riverdale #1

(Submitted by Mr. SuperheroScifi himself, Sir Prince Adam of Locksley…Thanks, Super Fiend! 🙂 xoxo)

“From Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and the writers of the new CW series Riverdale comes the first issue of the MUST-READ, brand new, ongoing comic series. Set in the universe of the TV series, the Riverdale comic offers a bold, subversive take on Archie, Betty, Veronica, Josie & the Pussycats and their friends, exploring small-town life and the darkness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome facade.” (Archie Comics)

Before you read this book, let it be known that spoilers can be found within this review.  I like the wording in the synopsis. “Set in the universe” of the CW TV series of the same name.  That’s so appropriate for the stories told in this issue. We get two stories one that focuses on Archie and one focusing on Betty.  Each story showcases our protagonist during their first week/weeks in their new roles at Riverdale High. For Archie that means being a quarterback on the football team, while for Betty that means joining the cheerleading squad.  As you read the stories, you can’t really tell 100% where it fits in with the television series.  Some scenes are pulled right from certain episodes, like Archie being given the deceased Jason Blossom’s old jersey number. You also see the moment where Betty is urged by Veronica to join the cheerleading squad.  Brand new scenes come from what is called “Hell Week”, which is the pranking/hazing of our newbies on the football team and the cheerleading squad.  I liked that writer’s Will Ewing and Michael Grassi balanced showcasing the harmless side of pranking, such as the football team streaking, or Betty having to walk the halls in a scantily clad cheerleading outfit.  More serious forms of hazing include making Archie swim across the frozen waters of Sweetwater River or Cheryl Blossom making Betty stand at the edge of the roof of the high school, to expose Betty’s fears.  Hazing has made news in recent years, and is a real issue teen’s face when taken too far and I think not only is important to comment on it in a book about teens, but especially more so in this book, because Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jugghead are America’s most popular fictional teens.  I love that the book highlights that Archie feels uncomfortable being a quarterback and he’s not all together good at it either.  The book also highlights Archie’s kindness as he does an extra lap of shame swimming in Sweetwater Lake, to spare another team-member who can’t swim from added torment or ridicule.  In the second story, we see how close the relatively recent BFF’s Betty and Veronica are. Specifically, how Veronica defends Betty from Chery Blossom’s verbal attacks. She also literally stands beside her and holds her hand as Betty confronts her fear of heights, standing on the ledge of the high school roof.  The book doesn’t show the love triangle we are typically used to from Archie, Betty and Veronica. However, neither has the show to this point, though we have been promised it down the line.  While we are introduced to this new emo version of Jugghead and the bitch that is Cheryl Blossom, I like that the books focus is squarely on our classic trinity of characters.

The art duties fall to Joe Eisma.  The art is far more detailed and sleek in appearance than your typical Archie comic book. It is definitely more adult in appearance, in addition to the dialogue.  However, the artist does a good job of retaining the simplistic look of classic Archie stories as well  I have to say that the characters are pretty much all spot on to their television counterparts. Archie, Jugghead and Cheryl look particularly like perfect matches to the actors that play them. Betty and Veronica both look good, but at times in the book, leave a lot to be desired as they come off looking a little wonky.  My favourite pages are split, one from each story. The one from the Archie story titled Bloodsport, is the splash page where Archie looks at himself in the mirror, all decked out in his football uniform, only to see the reflection of the decomposed Jason Blossom looking back at him.  It was quite creepy and reminded me of some of the crossover horror stories that have featured the Archie cast of characters.  My second favorite page comes from the “Bring It On” story featuring Betty.  It features the typically reserved Betty walk in a sexier version of the cheerleading outfit to complete her “Hell Week” challenge. As she walks proudly and confidently through the halls, her school mates, boys and girls alike, look on amazed at the transformation.  It felt like a classic scene out of every teen movie. Very John Hughes like, as a matter of fact.

I thought this book captures the “Ringer meets Archie” vibe that The CW series Riverdale is going for.  I find it to be very respectful of classic Archie, while taking the story and its characters in an edgier direction. If you haven’t watched the series, this serves as an excellent prequel to the pilot episode.   If you have a familiarity with the show, this can be seen as stories that take place in between the first couple episodes.  I enjoy the book and definitely think it’s worth reading.

#WCW: Drusilla, the Forgotten Hostess of the Vault of Horror

There have been many ho-sts by many publishers throughout the history of ho-rror comics, but the only GhouLunatics belong to EC Comics.

The GhouLunatics were the kings (and queens) of all illustrated ho-rror ho-sts, and they are known to those who tend to favor the gruesome side of comic books. Due to the popularity of both the Amicus and HBO takes on Tales from the Crypt, The Cryptkeeper is BY FAR the most well-remembered of the GhouLunatics. That’s not to say that the other two original ghost ho-sts (The Vault-keeper and The Old Witch) don’t get a fair amount of mad love, but they are still two halves of a whole Ringo. Ho-wever, if Old Vaulty and Witchypoo are Ringo, Drusilla is Jimmie Nicol, the man who was a Beatle for 13 days.

Even if you are a seasoned fright fan, you may have never heard of Drusilla. She made her debut in The Vault of Horror #37, the fourth-to-last issue of the series. In those four final issues, Drusilla co-hosted the comic with Old Vaulty, although she didn’t have much to say. Drusilla never had so much as a single speech balloon, but there was something fascinating about her… something profoundly peculiar. Her features were Hollywood gore-eous, but her eyes had a dark wisdom behind them. Was she human or vampire? Witch or ghoul? Nothing is known about her, but she must’ve been eXXXceptionally terrifying to be a GhouLunatic.

The Vault closed its door in December of 1954, so one can only speculate on what creator Johnny Craig had planned for the raven-haired ho-stess. She may have gotten her own tit-le, if the Comics Code Authority didn’t execute EC’s brand of ho-rror. Debuting only a few months after Vampira, one could argue that Drusilla was one of the original glamour ghouls. Perhaps if she had just a few more years, she could’ve joined Morticia, Lily Munster, Elvira, and the aforementioned Vampira as one of the great icons of dark beauty.



Drusilla may not have reached the iconic status of her fellow EC Creeps, but she has a special place in the cold, black hearts of us here at KH. With the recent return of EC’s Tales from the Crypt, perhaps Drusilla will get her night in the moon. Her time was brief, but wonderfully creepy. Here’s to Drusilla, the Mysterious Mistress of the Vault of Ho-ror!

#TerrorTuesday Comic Review: The Walking Dead Volume 3

(Submitted by our Superheroic Ho-mie, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Mr. A! 🙂 xoxo)

“This volume follows our band of survivors as they set up a permanent camp inside a prison. Relationships change, characters die, and our team of survivors learn there’s something far more deadly than zombies out there…each other.”


This story picks right up where Volume 2 ended. Our weary group of humans have found an abandoned penitentiary. Well, save for a group of zombies sloshing around the front gate. After dispensing of the zombies, and a little cleanup, Rick and crew believe they have found their new home, the most spacious, and safest yet.  If this sounds at all familiar, it’s reminiscent of last volume when they found the estates.  Much like that story, they found other survivors who gave them food, before also encountering other zombies.  In that story, those people were Tyreese, his daughter and her boyfriend, who are now members of Rick’s zombie hatin’ posse.  In this story, the human survivors found are four inmates, locked safely in the cafeteria.  Sure, they’re convicts, one of which was falsely accused, the other a murderer, another was a drug addict. The final member, was a tax evader.  Still, they seemed very peaceful, reformed and best of all for Rick and company, they have a kitchen full of food, canned and otherwise; enough for a prison full of people. With that in mind, Rick heads to Hershel farm, to get Hershel and the remainder of his children to move into the penitentiary.  Despite the chaos that ensued previously between Hershel’s group and Rick’s survivors, coupled with the fact that Hershel almost shot Rick, I think this gesture is a sign of Rick’s hopefulness and positivity in the face of this hell on Earth.  For the first few issues of this volume, I fell for the false sense of security Rick and Tyreese were feeling.  This is the second volume in a row, where Robert Kirkman played me for a fool. In this case, it’s a mark of great storytelling, so I am not ashamed.

Things start turning sour when Lori begins to worry and express fear about having a murderer and drug addict in their midst.  Rick agrees they should be mindful of potential threats and be cautious, yet remains staunch and optimistic that this new status quo is best for everyone. Tensions are raised higher when Tyreese’s daughter and her boyfriend botch a simultaneous suicide after a night of passionate sex. They planned to shoot each other simultaneously, but Chris accidentally fired too quickly.  When Tyreese discovers what occurs he kills Chris in a fit of anger. I can see both sides of this scenario, On the one hand, the two young lovers know their chances of surviving this zombie apocalypse are slim, so why not go out of this world on their terms, together, and as the Joker says; “If you gotta go, go with a smile.”  It’s very Romeo and Juliet…but with zombies. I understand Tyreese’s actions too, because planned or not, Chris still killed his baby girl. I’d choke the bastard too! I can rationalize both acts from both parties, given the world they inhabit.  These scenes throw an added wrinkle into the story.  What was once human on zombie violence, now has taken on an element of human on human violence.  If that isn’t a twist enough for you, how about the fact that Tyrese’s daughter and her boyfriend turn into zombies after death….without having being bitten!? Holy Plot Twist Batman! I seriously didn’t see that coming.  It’s not explained, as to how it’s possible either. So I wonder, is the zombie gene within every human? Will this ever be answered? It better damn well be because I’m so curious. This plot point leads to a cameo from a character we haven’t seen since the first issue.  If that wasn’t enough proof of the unpredictability of this book, Hershel’s two daughters are murdered and beheaded.  Yes, in the midst of all this, Robert Kirkman had to throw a murder mystery into this story and at no point does this book feel overstuffed or bogged down by it.  Naturally, Team Grimes, specifically Lori, lays blame on either the murder suspect or the former drug addict.  Unsure, the group decides to lock them both in separate cells.  When Andrea is attacked by the criminal who was convicted for tax evasion and her earlobe cut off, Rick loses it, and nearly beats the man to death. Despite protests from his fellow survivors, Rick unilaterally decides that murder will not be tolerated and death will be met with death. So Rick has him thrown outside the gates of the penitentiary, where he is attacked and killed by zombies. The previous suspects are released, but stage a mutiny holding Rick and company at gunpoint, ordering them to leave the penitentiary. Rick finally snapped and the tipping point was Hershel’s daughters being killed. He blames himself for their deaths. However, you can see the events of each volume chipping away at Rick’s calm and sanity.  It continues to affect his relationship with Lori. She’s even getting more snappy with him, though part of that is self admittedly her pregnancy hormones.  One thing I love about this book is that every event counts and affects the next story. Nothing is written as filler. Even if I leave this books for weeks or even months, the preceding storyline stays in the back of my mind, racing to the forefront when I pick up another volume.

Charlie Adlard returns for his second stint on the title.  He definitely seems more comfortable in this world and with these characters. There seems to be more detail in his work.  Last volume, I said the lack of color detracted from the setting of winter.  This time though, it works for the setting.  Inside and outside, the penitentiary looks spacious. There’s a dichotomy with the art on the interior of the Penitentiary.  The kitchen looks plentifully, while the rest of the place looks baron and desolate.  The best two zombie images are the pov shot of Rick and Tyreese peering into the gym seeing a horde of zombies on the other side of the door.  The other standout is when Tyreese is attacked by the zombie horde and they all swarm on top of him.  .  The most gruesome images are the human vs human violence. Tyreese’s dead daughters lying beheaded was disturbing, but the details of Rick dolling out a beating on the murderer is intense.  You can see the welts and bruises on his knuckles, without the aid of coloring.  The best cover of this volume is the one with Rick riding his motorcycle. When in doubt, remember that riding a motorcycle always looks badass!

At this point, I’m not sure if I’m going to watch the TV show.  Too many friends of mine have said it deviates too much from the book and that the storyline has disappointed as the seasons have gone on. One thing is for sure, I’m sticking with the comic book because it keeps getting better and better. I have a long way to go but I’m excited to read more, It’s no wonder this book tops the charts every time a new issue is released each month.

#SuperheroSunday Comic Review: Smallville Season 11 #16-18

(Submitted by Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Fiend! 😉 xoxo)

“Superman battles Batman at Stryker Island prison–and it’s not as one-sided a confrontation as you might think! Meanwhile, Nightwing mixes it up with Green Arrow.” (DC Entertainment)

The book continues Batman’s introduction into the Smallville universe right where last issue left off, with Batman and Superman squaring off.  What I like about this fight is that it breaks away from the mold when dealing with this familiar altercation. This isn’t about Superman reigning in Batman at the request of the government in DKR, or Batman’s paranoia over Superman going rogue being manipulated in BvS.  For Superman the conflict is about Batman manhandling an inmate at Stryker’s Island Penitentiary in unlawful ways.  For Batman, Superman is standing in his way of getting information regarding Joe Chill, the man who killed his parents.  The man who Batman was vetting for this information was Bruno Manheim, who appeared around Season 4. This was one of several callback’s to the show throughout.  The fight was very even in that both heroes got the upper hand. Superman flicks Batman with his finger and sends him flying pretty far! Bryan Q, Miller makes it obvious Superman is holding back. Hell, he even has him say that he doesn’t want to fight.  In a nice rare treat, Batman doesn’t use Kryptonite. Instead the Bat insignia on his armor is rigged to emit red sun radiation, dampening Superman’s power.  That’s damn clever and something rarely employed by Batman during these conflicts. Given Bruce Wayne’s resources, it makes some sort of sense Bruce Wayne would outfit his suit, with such tech. As I said though, Superman wasn’t portrayed as a chump here, clearly giving as good as he got.  Nightwing even remarks that Batman had fractures everywhere.  Bruce seems almost gleeful to have survived his encounter with Superman.  Even Batman is admitting that all things being equal, Superman would have beaten him. I also loved that both Clark and Bruce discover each other’s identity. Turns out, Batman has been tracking the weirdness all the way back to Smallville. The caves, specifically the cave paintings and the Kryptonian symbol burnt in the sky as a result of Zod’s red sun towers from the last couple seasons of the show.  I love that even in the show universe, Batman is ever the detective.  I know the show’s creators wanted to have Bruce Wayne on the show but weren’t able to.  This is a nice way to tie him to the shows past mythology, even if we never saw him.  Superman is far too often played as someone who rushes into a fight, without asking questions, or truly knowing his adversary. Thankfully, Bryan. Q. Miller uses Superman’s reporting skills to good measure.  Clark remembers Bruce Wayne’s voice from a previous conversation.  Despite Batman disguising his voice, Clark’s super hearing detects the delineation.  He also uses deductive reasoning to figure out that Bruce Wayne and Batman being in town at the same time, all the while weaponry from Gotham City has arrived in Metropolis, is no coincidence.

Once Batman tells Superman why he is after Bruno Manheim, to ultimately find his parents killer, Superman agrees to help him.  There’s a great interrogation scene where Superman flies Bruno Manheim into the sky, threatening to drop him, before ultimately dropping him on the hood of the Bat-Wing.  This sequence reminded me of when golden age Superman, used to threaten to drop criminals and female abusers off of building rooftops.  There’s a great exchange where Oliver Queen admits to being jealous of Batman’s “toys” especially the stealth flying Batwing.  Speaking of Oliver Queen, he and Chloe are investigating encrypted emails being sent to him by Lex Luthor.  Lex of course denies the accusation, but we learned that it’s Tess Mercer’s mind/spirit, which is possessing Lex and sending warnings to Oliver. This remains such an intriguing way to keep Tess Mercer around, even though the show killed her off.  In a way, a great element of Smallville was watching Lex’s inner struggle to remain good or embrace evil.  Since he has embraced his true nature of villainy in this book, this Tess split personality/sleep conscience angle, is a fresh way of bringing that internal struggle back to Lex. Though, they’ll have to clarify exactly what this manifestation of Tess is, because it’s getting somewhat confusing.
Jamal Igle picks up art duties for this three issue stint, and overall, I really like what he does.  Much like the other artists who have drawn this book, he draws Chloe and Oliver Queen perfectly. His Lex Luthor is quite strong but other artists on this book have done a better rendition of Michael Rosenbaum.   I will give Jamal Igle credit for to date, drawing the best, most accurate version of Erica Durance as Lois Lane.  The page where she is on the roof using binoculars and conversing with Superman hovering in the sky, really is a great depiction.  However, several volumes in, I’m not happy with how Superman is drawn.  Don’t get me wrong, there are moments where he looks like the actor that played him, then there are moments where the comic book looks nothing like his TV counterpart.  Oh, and what’s with the long hair? I mean seriously, how hard is it to draw Tom Welling? The image of Batman with the red sunlight emitting from his logo reminded me of the heavily armored suit drawn by Alex Ross in his “Justice” maxi-series from a decade ago.   My favorite Superman image is him holding up Bruno Manheim in mid-air threatening to drop him. As I alluded to, it gave me Golden Age goosebumps.  I also love the Smallville flashbacks to the Native American caves and the battle with Zod. It brought me back in time, reminding me how much I miss weekly viewings of Smallville! I’ve got to give credit to Jamal Igle for drawing a BADASS Bat-Wing.  If you look at it, it’s a cross between the Batman 89 version and the Batman V Superman version.

Now more than ever, I love reviewing this book in three issue installments.  It allows me to spend a longer tome enjoying Batman’s introduction into the Smallville universe.  So far, so good. They’ve made their introduction, had their fight, and to end this episode of issues, I can’t wait to see a proper team up between these two icons! Celebrate Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’s recent one year anniversary by experiencing Smallville’s take on this iconic meeting of the World’s Finest!

Comic Book Review: Y: The Last Man Volume 1: Unmanned

(Submitted by with love by Mr. Prince Adam…Ho-pe you’re having a very Happy New Comic Book Day, Kinky Ho-mies! xoxo)

“Written by Brian K. Vaughan (Lost, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD, EX MACHINA) and with art by Pia Guerra, this is the saga of Yorick Brown–the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. Accompanied by a mysterious government agent, a brilliant young geneticist and his pet monkey, Ampersand, Yorick travels the world in search of his lost love and the answer to why he’s the last man on earth. Collects issues #1-5.” (Vertigo)

This comic book gets a lot of critical praise and is lauded in the fanboy community as well! The way some of my friends talk about it, you’d think it’s the greatest thing you’ll ever read. Having just read the first volume, I just don’t get the high praise. For me it was okay, but I definitely had problems with it. One of the things I did like, was the idea that a virus/plague was killing every male on Earth. Now I didn’t like it because my male brethren were dying off. However, this was an intriguing plot point that is unique to any comic book I’ve ever read. The male death epidemic, allows the story to give us incredibly strong, prominent and badass female characters. Sure, Yorick Brown is the last man and he’s at the center of this story, along with his pet monkey Ampersand but this story would be pretty boring if it was about a dude and his monkey. By the way, this book gets extra points because a lead character has a pet monkey. The monkey is a pest, and a pain in the ass to Yuri, which drives most of the humor in this post-apocalyptic story. Also it reminds me of Friends and Joey. The president is obviously now a woman, and Yorick’s mother is a state representative in Washington. In an effort to set the scene for these two characters and this book before the male population goes extinct, this book gets quite political. We see Yorick’s mom arguing with a male counterpart over the issue of an abortion amendment. We see the soon to be President in Israel in the midst of Israeli/Palestinian warfare. Both abortion and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict are still big issues even a decade plus after this book was published. I’m pleased that these issues are present, as comic books rarely touch on them. I only hope that it wasn’t all for exposition, or that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, when the story shifts its focus to Yorick’s journey. Speaking of Yorick’s journey, to find out the nature of the virus, why he wasn’t affected by it, he’s joined by two other awesome female characters. The first is Agent 355. The character is tasked by the President to guard and escort Yorick from Washington to Boston. The interesting thing about Agent 355 is that she is no simple body guard, she is a member of the clandestine group Culper Ring. She says they are a part of American history but you can sense there’s more going on with this group and I can’t wait to delve into that history and their ultimate machinations in future volumes. The third member of Yorick’s Scooby gang is Doctor Allison Mann. Dr. Mann is a geneticist, with a special aptitude for cloning. She successfully attempted the cloning process before, and cloning Yorick seems like a way of re-establishing the male population to ensure the births of future generations of humanity. If you suspend disbelief, that sounds like a viable option and she sounds like someone who can get it done.

The main antagonist of this first five issues is the Daughters of the Amazon. They view extinction of all men as a blessing and as a chance to rise up and return Earth to its glory days, when it was led by only woman. These women take Amazon mythology to its extreme. To the point where they cut off one breast because it makes it easier to shoot a bow. If one of their ranks or another woman doesn’t fall in line with the exact ways of the group they are killed. Brian K. Vaughan writes the Daughters of the Amazon with the most extreme stereotypes people have of feminists. This group of women are man hating vandals, societal disrupters and killers. I don’t think the writer is doing this to disparage normal, sane and legitimate feminist, he’s just creating a hyper stereotypical version, who do horrible things so that the readers have an antagonist to root against and despise. If he depicted feminists as they really are, this book would have zero action beats at all. It’d just be marching and protesting. While that may be real world appropriate, it translates to one boring comic. With Yorick, Agent 355 and Dr. Mann getting into confrontations and being on the run from the Daughters of the Amazon, this book has a bit of a Mad Max vibe going for it. The book ends with our trifecta in a bind. Not only are they on the run from Amazon wannabe’s, but they reach Dr. Mann’s Boston lab, only to find the building and her research up in flames. However, the perpetrator of this arson, is a lieutenant general of the Israeli Defense Force. She was seen briefly and early in the story and is after Yorick, to ensure the future of her nation. That’s what I liked about this book. What I didn’t like was Yorick. This guy is in his mid-20’s, jobless and is obsessed with maintaining a long distance relationship with a girl who, it is clear that she’s on the verge of breaking up with him, so the guy proposes to her over the phone. What a douchebag. When the plague hits and all the men die, and it becomes clear that he is the only person capable of insuring humanity’s ultimate survival, his only concern is going to Australia to find his girlfriend. Really? I mean the savior of humanity throughout the book, acts like a petulant child when he doesn’t get his way. Yeah, if the future of the human race was really left up to someone like him, I’d rather we all die off. The other thing the book does poorly is deal with the relationship between Yorick and his sister Hero. He tells us how close they are, yet we never see them interact. A flashback to Yorick and Hero’s youth would’ve helped build the bond. Instead, we see Hero at the very beginning and end of the book. At the beginning, we see her banging her figherfighter boyfriend in the back of a fire truck, while at the end we see her with one boob and she is one of the members of Daughters of the Amazon tasked with finding Yorick. Seems to me Brian K Vaughan jumped the gun with her character arc, if you can call it one. Then there’s the issue of the plague killing all the men. The biggest plot point of this book and we don’t get so much of a hint at what it is, or what might have caused it. I understand there’s lots of story left to be told but come on, tease us with something.

Pia Guerra is the artist on this book and it’s the first time I’m seeing her work. To me it has a similar style to the artist of iZombie. While the work is good, given the nature of this story, there aren’t many action scenes to gush on about. I do like the picture of the wives of the dead republican male senators, approaching the White House with weapons, demanding their husband’s places on the senate. The image looked like something akin to zombie’s attacking in a movie or TV show. The page where Yorick gets into a fight with a few Daughters of the Amazon’s resembled the aftermath of an nWo wrestling match. A couple Amazon’s held Yorick down, while the ring leader roughed him up a bit. There was even spray paint involved! The final splash page is an aerial shot showing our characters lost in a literal fork in the road, with the road making the shape of a Y. Now that’s a cool way to end the first arc of a book. Ultimately though, I wish cover artist J.G. Jones was doing the interiors. His art is far more realistic looking and suits the real world story and scenario’s this book deals with.

I’m mostly split on this book. There’s a lot to like about this book but there’s a lot I don’t like about this book. Right now, I’m skewing more negative, due to an unlikable idiot of a main character, under developed backstory and character relationships, and bad pacing in certain places. I’ll probably give this book another go, in the hopes that another volume will build on the parts I did like, and reveal answers to the questions I have about the virus/plague. After Volume 1, I’m left wondering “Y” The hell do so many of my friends and critics think this book is great!?

News Bleed: The “Tales of Blackenstein” Edition

First, the bummer news…

J. Geils has passed away. 🙁 USA Today

Netflix haunts with The Haunting of Hill House! 🙂 Deadline

I hope they serve whiskey in Hell… Hellboy gets his own brand of whiskey! Whiskey Critic

IT’S ALIVE!!!! Severin brings Blackenstein to Blu-ray! 🙂 Dread Central

John Carpenter will chill us with Tales of Science Fiction!

These new Hellraiser: Judgment images will tear your soul apart! Bloody Disgusting

The new Boomerang streaming service launches and will make every morning a Saturday morning. 🙂 Variety

P.S. House of 1000 Corpses came out 14 years ago today, so John Squires of Bloody Disgusting just dug up these spooky-cool DVD menus! Happy Birthday, Captain Spaulding! 🙂