Variety is the spice: zombies, crime, outer space, horror

THE COLONIZED  #1 (IDW, APRIL 2013) Written by Chris Ryall. Art by Drew Moss.

               It’s Zombies versus Aliens!  What more could you ask for?  There is actually more, such as a militant faction going head to head with an environmentally-conscious group.  Both reside in a small-town Montana cColonized01_cvrAollective community and the recent death of their leader sparks the power struggle. 

There’s a vibe to this book that resonates like the more likeable parts of the MARS ATTACKS movie, comics, and original trading cards.

An alien exploratory craft enters the atmosphere and transports a human from ground level to their ship to make introductions.  Turns out they hovered over a cemetery and tractor-beamed a zombie aboard their ship. Mayhem ensues and their ship crashes, with the community coming out to investigate.  You might be surprised by what occurs next, and that’s why the description ends here.  THE COLONIZED  #1 is a promising beginning, with clever art that keeps a light-hearted touch on the more grisly scenes.  This is worth checking out.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2 (Marvel, June 2013) Brian Michael Bendis, writer. Steve McNiven & Sara Pichelli, pencils.

While the storylines of this new series look to be epic and cosmic in scope, there is still a light-hearted side to the problem-of-the-moment rather than a doom-and-gloom serious or dark side.   That’s abetted in part by the light humor and banter between the team members.  Rocket Raccoon's role seems to be to provide the jokes and wisecracks, although he also displays a streak of deviltry when it comes to dispatching the enemy.  He is still hard to accept as a likeable character, which is not helped by his cartoonish name.  Does he even have a proper name? Is it just . . . . Rocket?

guardians 2

Bendis is a master of dialogue and interplay between characters, always entertaining and injecting a dash of realism whenever possible.  In effect, these fantastic events and situations become coated with a thin sense of plausibility that makes it easier for the reader to swallow. McNiven and Pichelli do a masterful job on the art and continue to employ widescreen panels that sometimes spread across two pages, making everything seem more epic and cinematic.  The colors and shading are very dynamic in this book.

Issue #2 shows the team in action, with the proper amount of spotlight on each character.  The Guardians put down the Badoon space fleet that has invaded London airspace but don’t entirely resolve all the problems put before them.  The sidelight this issue is some back-story detailing how the Council of Galactic Empires came to make the decision to place Earth on “hands-off” status.  It’s not exactly the same as it was related to Peter Quill/Starlord last issue.  His father, King J-Son of Spartax, leads the discussion of the council and we quickly learn that he is a classic manipulator, able to put various spins on the same scenario as suits his purposes.  This has been a fun book so far that deserves to attract some attention from readers.

HOUSE OF GOLD & BONES #1 of 4 (Dark Horse, April 2013) Corey Taylor, script. Richard Clark, art. Dan Jackson, colors.

A man in a charcoal gray jumpsuit (prison uniform, or janitorial/service gear? The nametag says “Zero”) wakes up in a strange meadow, finds his way to a stone building, meets a weird wraithlike presence that refers to him as “Human”, and learns this is “Allen”, his twin.  Human needs to find the House of Gold & Bones in order to get back home.  This is the introduction to a seemingly allegorical tale of a quest.

House of GB

Inspired by the Stone Sour album House of Gold & Bones, this is yet another in a series of comics written by musicians.  This time it’s by Corey Taylor, of both Stone Sour and Slipknot fame.  This introductory issue (titled “The Overture”) seems just a little too slow and plodding in its tale of discovery, and also fails to build enough interest in what may come later.  The art is interesting but not engaging.  The colors and inks are the best things on display here.

Taylor has been in a writing mood.  He’s also finished his semi-autobiography A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Heaven (Or, How I Made Peace with the Paranormal and Stigmatized Zealots and Cynics in the Process) to be released this July in hardcover and e-book editions.

 

jirni

JIRNI #1 (Aspen, April 2013) J. T. Krul, writer. Paolo Pantalena, pencils.

               JIRNI is part of Aspen’s 10 FOR 10 project, 10 new titles with $1 first issues celebrating the first decade of Aspen Comics.  It’s a deft blend of Arabian Nights lore with fantasy elements in a new world of sword and sorcery.  Main character Ara is a displaced princess searching the world for her mother, kidnapped by a sorcerer.  However, this is no pampered princess, as Ara displays her fighting skills in bloody fashion a la Red Sonja.  Regular readers of fantasy and barbarian epics will be on familiar ground here.  The introductory story is well-written, but breaks no new ground and seems interchangeable with several other series of similar settings.  The women as depicted are all scantily-clad and well-endowed as per the Zenoscope house style, which it should remind readers of.   Series artist Pantalena was heavily involved in character design for the book, and his art is very striking.  The colors and inks in this series seem to pop off the page.  It’s a delight to look at.  Hopefully, the story will become just as engaging in future issues.

JUPITER’S LEGACY #1 (Image, April 2013) Mark Millar & Frank Quitely, co-creators. Mark Millar, writer. Frank Quitely, artist. Peter Doherty, colors, letters, design.

There is more dialogue bejupetertween characters in this debut issue than you can find after reading five or six issues of KICK-ASS (also by Millar).  After completing the first issue, it’s very hard to determine exactly where the storyline is headed or even who will be the major players.  It’s a large cast and they have not all been introduced yet.  If you are a fan of Frank Quitely, then it’s worth sticking around for several more issues just to admire more of his unique art style.  Influences from Barry Windsor Smith to Moebius and John Cassady are put to great effect in his work.  Quitely stands apart from other illustrators, and his artwork is very distinctive.  In JUPITER’S LEGACY, he opts for a compressed style featuring smaller but widescreen panels as well as more panels per page than usual for him.  Most likely this is a solution to keeping each issue at a reasonable page count considering the amount of exposition the story entails.

Following the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent Great Depression, a group of formerly privileged and educated business executives seek a way to restore greatness to their beloved country. They find their way to an uncharted island and whatever they discovered there transformed them into costumed superheroes, returning hope to a desperate country.  Flash forward to the present day and the expectations that their equally-endowed offspring will carry on their legacy.  But this new group is not so sure of themselves.  Some of them do not share the vision of their parents, or their morals and values.  Some want no part of the family business.  Some feel they should use their powers in other ways, such as helping to correct a poor economy, poverty, and corruption in government.  A super-villain gets defeated in very unconventional fashion, a method that some would find both questionable and wrong.  Many of the young superheroes have a lot of idle time on their hands and indulge in drugs and other vices, as can be frequently witnessed in this debut issue.

X #0 (DARK HORSE, April 2013) Duane Swierczynski, story. Eric Nguyen, art.

X

If you crave some violent crime stories and are yearning for new works similar to the run of Garth Ennis on PUNISHER MAX, then this is a book you’ll want to give a look.  X #0 strips the story down to all-out violence and brutality, with a main character with apparent Punisher-like motivations (which are yet to be explained).  Kill shots, car bombs and nail bombs, severed limbs, and blood, blood, blood are featured prominently.  Nguyen knows how to depict events for maximum effect. Warning: This book will disturb many readers.

X #0 reprints the story from the three-issue run of X in DARK HORSE PRESENTS #19-21 and serves as a prelude to the four-issue mini-series that will debut on May 8.  It’s an ultra-intense re-boot of a character from Dark Horse’s previous 1990’s venture into super-hero titles (Comics’ Greatest World).  The setting is Arcadia, a town in decline and over-run by criminals and corrupt politicians.  X’s modus operandi is to mark an X over photo head-shots and mail them to his intended victims in advance of his coming.

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