Tuesday, November 1, 2011

PREVIEWS: What’s new for Wednesday, November 2, 2011?

While DC’s NEW 52 seems to be grabbing the spotlight and commanding much attention, this looks to be a BOOMing week for new releases.  Read on . . . . . . . . . .

7  WARRIORS #1 of 3  (BOOM!)  Written by Michael Le Galli.  Art by Francis Manapul.  Colors: Christelle Moulart.  Letters: Deron Bennett.  Translation: Edward Gauvin.  Covers: Francis Manapul. (Original European publication 2008)

Thanks to his innovative art style on the NEW 52 FLASH, there is a lot of  current interest in Francis Manapul.  SEVEN  WARRIORS offers another look for Manapul in a different genre (semi-historical epic/myth) and provides followers of his dynamic art style a chance to see how he does with a smaller, multi-panel format as well as make notes on how much he has progressed since this work.

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7 WARRIORS opens up with a nicely illustrated, semi-subdued two-page lovemaking scene (without captions)  that lets us know that at least one of these partners is royalty, judging by the elaborate bedchamber.  Cut to page three, and we learn that there is trouble in the kingdom of N’nas Amon.  The capital, including the mountain-top palace of Queen Tsin’Inan, is under siege by the combined armies of Persia and Byzantium, following their massacre of the Queen’s armies.

These events force the Queen to hire mercenaries to protect the town. Those soldiers-for-hire include Cretans, Thracians, Vandals and Sarmatians.  It’s with this last group, a race of Amazonian warrior-women, that the Queen appoints a separate band to aid Prince Aksamon in fleeing the city to safety at a hidden location.

The tunnels they must use to escape the city are not without pitfalls, as their are hidden traps.  There is a lot of detail in the small panels and the story reads like an Indiana Jones adventure from this point. Not all of the warriors escape the traps.  Unfortunately, one of the fallen was a “Saudara” (sister-wife) and this does not sit well with her surviving partner who seems to grow bitter and resentful. It’s a nice beginning to the three-issue  mini-series.

BETRAYAL OF THE PLANET OF THE APES  #1 of 4  (BOOM!)  Written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman.  Art by Gabriel Hardmon.  Colorist:  Jordie Bellaire. Letterer:  Ed Dukeshire.

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Fresh off the popularity of the recent PLANET OF THE APES series, BOOM! adds this new mini-series.  While this is not even close to the level of intricate plots and outstanding artwork of that series, BETRAYAL OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is a very interesting addition to the APES body of work, and is much better than the APES comics being produced in the prior three decades.  If your appetite for more primate fare has grown as a result of the great new PLANET OF THE APES series, then this tale will more than satisfy.

BETRAYAL OF THE PLANET OF THE APES takes place 20 years before the events of the first movie (with astronaut Taylor) and begins with the trial of a respected orangutan, brought to court for the heresy of teaching a human to speak the language.   He is absolved of guilt, but this does not sit well with a faction of militant gorillas, who seek to poison the teacher, Doctor Cato, and blame it on his human slave.  This backfires as the slave escapes and the conspiracy is uncovered by the respected General Aleron, now a  citizen and defense attorney for Cato. 

As a counter-measure the disgruntled opponents of peaceful co-existence with humans seek to uncover some dirty laundry in Aleron’s past and have him confined to jail under suspicion of murder 15 years previously.  As with the best of the APES tales and movies, there are many parallels and similarities to modern society.  A good read is in store here.  

MARKSMEN #4 of 6  (Image/Benaroya)  Script: David Baxter.  Art: Javier Arandia, Garry Leach & Jessica Kholine.  Cover: Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedman.

This is the all-out battle issue, and it’s awesome to watch it unfold.  If you enjoy G.I. JOE and similar books, love military combat with high-tech gadgets = especially armored vehicles in battle - - then this is the issue of MARKSMEN that you’ll want to pick up.  The battle is epic in scale and beautifully detailed by the art team.

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Drake, Hercules, Orion, Ulysses, Athena and other members of the Marksmen set out to free key scientist Shannon Heston, who was abducted by the minions of  Duke last issue.  In order to reach her, they have to fight their way to the enormous mobile command center of the enemy and somehow find a way inside.  While Duke works at interrogating Heston by torture, she learns there is much more to this seemingly Christian leader  (she calls him “ a professed no-tech Luddite”) than his public image might indicate. He’s well-schooled in biochemistry and also employs the tools of science/high tech, including a massive electro-magnetic pulse that disables the Marksmen tech, especially the smart-phones-in-their-sunglasses that they depend on for surveillance, etc.

A surprising double-agent working inside the command center helps make the rescuers succeed in their mission and get away.  The New San Diego command center has to rely on a faulty death-ray to ensure their troops succeed, and the resulting misfire has disastrous results. (It seems only appropriate that the deployment officer inside the command center is code-named Shiva.)

The art in Issue #4 is damn near perfect in every detail, especially the use of shading, depth, overhead and angular views, and body language close-ups.  Dynamic is the word.  I can find no flaws.  There is so much action in this issue that it could easily seem like writer Baxter simply wrote a brief outline of what he wanted to have happen – and let the art team free-style and “go to town” with it.  However, after watching a brief You Tube interview with Baxter I learned that he has a “strong arts background” and loves working in comics (previously worked as a screenwriter) since he can direct the action.  That may be why the story has such a fluid flow and actual events progress as the artwork tells the story.

By the way, there’s also a lot of revealing background and explanation behind the creation of New San Diego and MARKSMEN on the Benaroya site (  http://www.youtube.com/benaroyapublishing)          that makes for some interesting viewing.    I was able to confirm that, as I suspected, the events of   MARKSMEN occur in the near future after a recession progresses and government collapses when civil war breaks out.  Baxter simply followed through on this process, imagined what cities might best be equipped to survive on their own, and chose San Diego.

PEANUTS #0  (KaBOOM!)  $1 introductory issue. Cover + classic Peanuts strips by Charles M. Schulz.  New material by writer/artists Ron Zormann and Vicki Scott.  Colors by Lisa Moore.  Inks by Paige Braddock.

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For $1 you just can’t go wrong - - unless you decide not to pick up this book.  You’d be depriving yourself of a great example of the pioneer break-through work done in older newspaper comic strips by the great, trail-blazing Charles M. Schulz.  He introduced comics from the “funny pages” to all audiences and brought respectability to the format through his utilization of the Peanuts characters to turn a mirror on contemporary life, reflecting our phobias and quirks- all the things of human nature that are silly.  Peanuts should be required reading for all students of child psychology and adult psychology. 

 

The opening story, “Carnival Of The Animals” by Ron Zormann is very close to the classic Schulz style in both story and art.  In defending some of Snoopy’s crazy play-acting behavior, Lucy implies that Charlie Brown has no imagination which sends him into a defensive tirade. Naturally, Lucy has the last word and trashes his self-confidence.

This is followed by some classic reprints of Peanuts strips featuring fooPeanuts_CVtball kicker Charlie Brown and holder Lucy plus Snoopy’s pal Woodstock, a Halloween pumpkin strip and a lazy fall afternoon conversation between Charlie and sister Violet.   The closing story “Woodstock’s New Nest”  is a delightful story without script by Vicki Scott that relates Snoopy’s attempts to help Woodstock locate a new nesting place.

The capper is the final offering, a preview of HAPPINESS IS A WARM BLANKET, CHARLIE BROWN, an upcoming original graphic novel featuring Snoopy’s various attempts to extract that security blanket from soft-spoken Linus.

THE RINSE #3  (BOOM!)  Written by Gary Phillips.  Art by Marc Laming. Colors: Darrin Moore. Letters: Steve Wands.  Cover: Paul Azaceta.

THE RINSE #3 includes my favorite cover of the week (so far), featuring multiple targets all within gun sights including the reflection off a pair of shades.   The story inside is getting better and better as it moves along.

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Jeff Sinclair barely manages to get himself away from the crash scene that ended last issue when a horse-back policeman wants to detain him as a witness.  He’s in the process of  “the biggest rinse of my career.”   Meanwhile hoodlums Griff and Graham continue to pursue Sinclair, as well as the physically and mentally sharp Detective Della Dash.

Unfortunately for Sinclair, he has some strong ties to his father as well as his close friends, and this leaves a trail that others can follow to him.  And, he can’t keep all records solely in his head.  He manages to get ahead of his pursuers just long enough to extract some of that revealing information from one of his “safe houses”, a  V.F.W. outpost, just minutes before they arrive.  Later, he gets out of a second predicament when the impatient girlfriend  (as well as wife of crime lord Maxon) of his customer Winslow uses her credit card and gets traced by the thugs. 

Even though I admire the cleverness and soft heart of the rinser Sinclair I can’t totally warm up to this character.  But, as of this issue I do have a hero to admire  - - and that is Detective Dash.  You have to admire her guts and street smarts and she evades the hoodlums and zeroes in on Sinclair.  She figures out Sinclair’s trail and follows him to his real “bank” connection.

ROGER LANGRIDGE’S SNARKED #1 & #2  Writer & Illustrator Roger Langridge.  Colors Rachelle Rosenberg. 

Fresh off his ground-breaking work on THE MUPPET SHOW and THE MIGHTY THOR Langridge debuts his latest creation, an original spin-off based on the Lewis Carroll Alice In Wonderland poem  = “The Walrus And The Carpenter”.   Langridge fleshes out those two characters, places them in a mystical medieval village, and gives them a quest/mission to propel their stories forward.

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This is great stuff for younger and older readers alike, a whimsical saga with many funny moments.  Wilburforce J. Walrus (the walrus character – duh!)  and Clyde McDunk (the carpenter character) are classic con-men, living a hand-to-mouth existence and spending much of their daytime activities focusing on where to obtain/con their next meal.  Wilburforce is a classic cartoonish character - - a blend of Foghorn Leghorn, W. C. Fields, and Jackie Gleason.  Clyde McDunk seems like he stepped right out of the pages of POPEYE or at least THE GOON.

The King has been missing for six months since he departed on a snark hunt.  In his absence the evil regents plot to appoint Prince Rusty as new ruler, someone they feel they can freely manipulate (since he is about two years old).  However, the precocious and savvy Princess Scarlett reminds them of the age restrictions on ascension to the throne - - meaning she becomes ruler despite being female since she meets the cut-off date (approximately seven years old).   Smart enough to realize that the regents’ next option may involve her murder, she grabs her brother and escapes to the village where she enlists Wilburforce and Clyde  and appoints them royal protectors.

There follows an episode involving tracking them down by The Gryphon, a character who will remind you of the bald eagle general from the Muppets.  They manage to elude him and determine to get their hands on the map that will lead them to the supposedly disposed and captive King.  Lots of fun in store here, and worth your checking it out.

OTHER BOOKS WORTH CHECKING OUT THIS WEDNESDAY:  ACTION COMICS #3;  ANIMAL MAN #3;  BATMAN #2;  ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST #5;  H P LOVECRAFT: THE DUNWICH HORROR #1 of 4;  HELLRAISER #4;  JACK AVARICE IS THE COURIER #1 of 5;  MORIARTY #6;  SHERLOCK HOLMES: YEAR ONE #6;  SIX GUNS #1 of 6;  THE STRANGE TALENT OF LUTHER STRODE #2 of 6;  SWAMP THING #3;  WAREHOUSE 13 #2;  WITCHDOCTOR #4 of 4. 

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