ALL STAR WESTERN #16 (DC, March 2013): The mix-up between JONAH HEX and Mr. Hyde apparently concludes here, and it ends in style. The TOMAHAWK back-up feature also wraps up. If you want a nice short set to help you get a feel for what this title has to offer, pick up ALL STAR WESTERN #13, 14, 15, and 16. Mr. Hyde visits the Arkham estate, which sits high on a hill overlooking Gotham. He wants to check up on his efforts to transform Amadeus Arkham and/or kill him. Dr. Arkham is still in re-hab but Jonah Hex is there, wheelchair bound, sober and still recuperating under a nurse’s close supervision. He needs to fight dirty to get the upper hand on Hex. We also meet Amadeus’ mother, who is quite mad and living a fantasy life through classic novels. Hex shows a little compassion. The best thing about TOMAHAWK is the fabulous art and colors, as well as the great attention paid to historic details. Tomahawk has a final confrontation with the British Colonel Lancaster, who betrayed the Indian tribes. Tomahawk remains defiant and seems to be the catalyst for uniting the fragmented tribes in their defense against westward and northern expansion. Historically interesting, but emotionally lacking due to weak character development. Next issue begins a new back-up - - the western equivalent of the STORMWATCH team. That should be more interesting.
BLEEDING COOL MAGAZINE #2 (Avatar, January 2013) The second issue focuses on all ages comics, including the major success of MY LITTLE PONY at IDW and ADVENTURE TIME at Boom! as well as rising asking prices due to back issue demand among collectors. Anyone with children to read to or using comics to help develop their children’s reading and vocabulary skills will want to pick this up for a good list of recommended titles. For the rest of us, there is Part 2 of a lengthy, detailed interview with Alan Moore that explores further his interest in bringing the concepts and mythos of H P Lovecraft into the modern era. With scholarly (but not boring) entries like this, BLEEDING COOL MAGAZINE more than earns its keep, and sets itself more in the company of the late lamented COMICS BUYERS GUIDE rather than hang with the fan-boyish WIZARD, HERO, etc. For those who can’t get enough of the scuttlebutt and gossip that Rich Johnston built his reputation on, he offers an article on “Comic Book Feuds”. This issue wraps up with a preview of what are expected to be the highlights of 2013 and a price guide to recent books with highly rising values.
DEATHMATCH #2 (Boom!, January 2013) I kept looking at this book, marveling at the art, and wondering where I had seen Carlos Magno’s work before. It was in the superb PLANET OF THE APES series for Boom! That gives me another good reason to keep picking up this book- - - to see what Magno is capable of when drawing a superhero title. So far it’s been dynamite! Paul Jenkins deserves a lot of credit too - - just two issues into this title with brand-new characters and he quickly sets them apart, gives them personality and life, and makes you care about some of them. So far, I’m rooting for Dragonfly, Sable (like a female Batman detective), Rat (creepy but cool, in a Rorschach way- who he also resembles) , George Truman (a patriot who cried when he had to kill a super-dog in the first round) and Manchurian (a super-intellect who defeated his opponent by a mathematical demonstration that it couldn’t possibly exist). More secrets and details get revealed this issue, but there are still several layers that Jenkins hasn’t unraveled or explained yet. Suspense builds as more heroes are eliminated (permanently) and bickering and suspicions take center stage among the survivors. If you passed up this book because you figured it would be just a Hunger Games rip-off – you still have time to check it out. It’s definitely worth your time. I’m pleasantly surprised and enjoying this.
REPOSSESSED #1 of 4 (Image, January 2013) Like a cross between GHOSTBUSTERS and THE PUNISHER, REPOSSESSED relates the adventures of a trio of demon-busting bounty hunters who aim to rid the world of the monstrous creations of the devil that inhabit us. It’s pretty funny (to me, anyway) to see three rugged, hard individuals (including one tough female) dressed as bikers and gang-bangers spouting phrases you expect to hear more from cloaked, mystical figures (Iike Doctor Strange), such as: “I constrain thee, O thou spirit by all the names aforesaid and in addition by these seven great names bound thee: Akalai, Magnamaton, Preyai, Inessenfatoal, Anaphaxeton, Pathtumon, and Itemon! I bound thee!” Scripter JM Ringuet seems to be having a lot of fun creating demonic/magical sounding names and incantations and his dialogue is loaded with them - - so much so, that at one point one member exhorts the other: “Clay! Less talking more shooting!” The art, also the responsibility of JM Ringuet, is similar to the style seen in most Vertigo, crime and mature titles (just something I noticed) and pleasing to the eye. Ringuet is also the inker, letterer and colorist and uses some unusual combinations, particularly lots of blue and red. Sometime I felt like I was looking at a 3-D comic book without the benefit of the glasses. REPOSSESSED is a nice diversion from the more serious horror books and deserves some recognition.
SON OF MERLIN #1 of 5 (Image/Top Cow, February 2013) As long as publishers are willing to offer the debut titles of new books for one thin dollar, then I’m going to risk it and check them out. Most of the time, I’m rewarded with an entertaining read - - even when I decide not to follow up on later issues. SON OF MERLIN is a good read, reminding me of some of the better issues of another Top Cow series – WITCHBLADE. This new series deals with classic Arthurian legends and gives them a contemporary 21st century update. It takes that long for witchy enchantress Morgana La Fey to catch up to ancient Merlin in New York City and neutralize him. Just long enough for his associate Gwen to find and convince an M.I.T. fusion scientist that he’s the son of Merlin and needs to carry on in his absence. Good script. Accessible characters. Engaging art. A nice debut.