Friday, October 29, 2010

My Week in Comics: Zatanna #6

ZatannaPaul Dini wraps up his second story arc with Zatanna #6. Benjamin Raymond has got Zatanna under his spell with the intent of exchanging marriage exchange for Zee's soul! It's up to Zachary Zatara, Zee's brother, to save her...but will his magic be enough, or will the demon of avaraice Mammon get his prize?

Dini is obviously having fun with the freedom he has with Zatanna. With the book not being tied in to any convoluted event DC is having right now, Dini gets to tell his own stories and Zatanna gets to shine on her own merit. And shine she does. Her showdown with the demon Mammon was wild, not to mention her trading sharp one-liners with her brother Zach spicing up what could have been a lonely fight. I kind of blanked out at the resolution Dini served up for this particular problem with Mammon and his demonic wager with Mr. Raymond, though. It was a pretty cold move for the Princess of Prestidigitation. But then again, we are talking about the gal who didn't think twice to wipe minds in Identity Crisis, so there's that.

Artist Jesus Saiz continues to put out great work in this book, his dames beautiful and his demons horrifying. He delivers on Dini's scripts well enough, though his storytelling could use some work. Characters have a habit of appearing out of nowhere in some panels, wasting opportunities to make those story beats pop (Mammon's big reveal fizzled because of this). But it's a minor inconvenience, and it doesn't detract too much from such a fun issue.

This is what's missing from mainstream comics right now, the straight-up, no strings attached superheroism that made comic books so fun to read in the first place. This gets a 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Webcomics I Love: Walking the Lethe

It's the last Wednesday before the big push to Halloween! Let's commemorate this occasion by giving the spotlight to another scary webcomic, Walking the Lethe ( Warning: Mature themes! NSFW!

Walking the Lethe is a supernatural webcomic about angels, demons, and a summoning gone awry. All Richard Harrison ever wanted was to say his last goodbyes to his dead wife, so he summons her via arcane means. But it's not his wife that comes out from the other's the succubus Astria! This doesn't sit well with the angel Utos, and what happens next has to be seen to be believed!

The art and writing leaves a lot to be desired at the start, but if you're willing to sit through the introductory chapters, you'll be getting to the better parts, the meat and bones of the thing, all in chilling detail. It's pretty disturbing at times, which to me is a plus for a scary webcomic. Walking the Lethe artist Adwarr's designs and art are awesome to look at, and it lends a bit of atmosphere that hooks you in.

What are you waiting for? Read Walking the Lethe now! But don't say I didn't warn you...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Random Werewolf Page(s) #5

Bigby's pissed! It's Bigby Wolf from Fables #3, by Bill Willingham, Lan Medina and Steve Leialoha.

Random Werewolf Page #4!

It's Cap-Wolf! Run! Splash page from Captain America #405, courtesy of Mark Gruenwald and Rik Levins.

Random Werewolf Cover!

Cover to Legion of Monsters: Werewolf by Night #1, by Mike Carey, Skottie Young and Greg Land.

Random Werewolf Page #3!

Wolfsbane from X-Force #1, by Craig Kyle, Chris Yost and Clayton Crain.

Random Werewolf Page #2!

Splash page from The Astounding Wolf-man #1, by Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard.

Random Werewolf Page Day!

A page from Dracula Meets the Wolfman #1, by Steve Niles and Francesco Francavilla.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Week in Comics: October 22, 2010

It's time once again for the most verbose comic book reviews around! What have I got myself into this week? Read on and find out!

X-23 #2 reflects her Wolverine Goes to Hell tie-in status in this ish, as Laura continues to rebuff the advances of the demon currently possessing Logan. X-23 finally realizes that Logan is not himself, but is it all too late?

Marjorie Liu has shown she's got the knack of writing strong, believable female leads, and here on X-23 she's a great fit. I like the voice Liu gave Laura, which is a softened, more relatable take on the former X-Force member. It's adorable, especially in a flashback when X-23 and Logan were in a carnival. "I have heard that roller coasters make people scream and vomit. I want to try it." Laura says in an innocent, deadpan way. Priceless.

The story so far may seem to move slow, but the poignant, funny and badass character beats more than make up for it. Also, you get to savor Will Conrad's art a little more. His style is reminiscent of Mike Deodato, with all those shadows giving the book a moody atmosphere. With the demon inside Wolvie only growing in strength, and the appearance of a certain enigmatic Cajun mutant, what's in store for X-23? The good thing about it is, I can't wait to find out.

X-23 #2 is a rare second issue that's continues the awesomeness of the first. This is a 4 out of 5.

Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt continue their impressive streak with The Sixth Gun #5. Sinclair, Billjohn and Becky finally reach The Maw, a sprawling complex that once served as General Hume's treasure trove and makeshift dungeon. As they try to uncover the secrets of the Maw, an enraged General Hume finally catches up with the gang, promising a showdown full of bullets, magic...and zombies!

This issue has a lot going for it. Bunn has created a living, breathing Wild West world that's as believable as it is fantastic. It's got dirty deals, dirty women, dirty sprawling deserts and six guns of supernatural power, and none of them look or feel out of place with one another.

I love how perfect the story beats have been leading up to this issue, with the discovery of General Hume's plans for the six guns coming as a pleasant and awesome surprise. Nothing is hurried, nothing is too slow. I envy Bunn's comic work, and some industry bigshots over at the Big 2 could learn a thing or two from this man. Also, Brian Hurtt's art here is amazing. Where Bunn's words end, Hurtt's pencils begin to elaborate and build upon. His cartoony style, coupled with the earthy and playful colors he uses, just makes for a unique-looking book.

There's nothing else I can say that the comic can't say for itself. If you're not reading the Sixth Gun right now, you are missing out big time. This one is a 6 out of 5. You heard right!

Good week, two good books, what more can I ask for? Well, it's already understood that the answer is 'more money to buy comics', but I love rhetorical questions! My Week in Comics is on every Friday. Hit me up at the comments if you have anything to say or add about the comics reviewed this week. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Webcomics I Love: The Zombie Hunters

You feel that? That chill in the air? It must be another Wednesday, which means another scary Webcomic I Love! Continuing the tradition of highlighting scary webcomics this October, I present to you a scary awesome zombie webcomic, The Zombie Hunters ( Warning: Lots of gore. Not for the squeemish!

It's not your usual survivors-vs-zombies kind of story, because some of the main cast in this comic are infected themselves! But they only turn into zombies when they die, which makes them perfect as crack commando units to send out into the infected wastelands to scavenge for supplies. Knowing you'll hunt for brains when you croak isn't a comforting thought in the least, but that's what makes this webcomic so unsettling.

I also love how the moody art sets the tone of the comic, and the different types of zombies (taking nods from Resident Evil and other zombie games) are a fun and interesting touch. If you haven't read a zombie webcomic before, might I suggest The Zombie Hunters?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Behold the Geek!

I'm still here!

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank YOU, the readers, the Geeks, who took time off their lives to spend time reading whatever I had to say. Thank you for visiting, commenting, browsing, bookmarking and basically giving this blog a chance. Without you, I'm just some guy shouting in the wind, looking like an idiot. Thank you for not making me look crazy!

When I turned my personal blog Think Happy Thoughts into the comic book and pop culture blog you see today, I never imagined it becoming as big and as widespread as it is now. I've connected with fellow bloggers, got to chat with some comic book industry people, basically waded nose-deep into the comic book blogosphere...and the water's fine!

I know Behold the Geek! as you know it right now has only been around since 2008, but it's still a milestone for me that the blog itself lasted this long, and so I've embraced the whole blog, even the shit I wrote way back in 2004, in tender, loving, Potato Corner-stained fingers and arms.

So I raise my hot mug of Milo and give a toast to the sixth year of Behold The Geek!, and here's to six more!

Happy Anniversary, you blog you!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Return of Bruce Wayne #5 Review

It's been a wild, oftentimes incoherent but ultimately satisfying ride back home for Batman in the pages of Return of Bruce Wayne, Grant Morrison's crazy idea to have Batman travel forward in time to live out (or redefine) his very own mythos. He's been a prehistoric barbarian, a pirate, a cowboy and a witch hunter, and now in Return of Bruce Wayne #5, Bruce finds himself in the age of speakeasies and gangsters, in a murder mystery involving...his own mother?

The series' readability is really hard to pin down, with Morrison waxing cryptic on us one issue, then giving us a straightforward story the next. And while the latest issue gives me goosebumps with just how awesome a Grant Morrison noir tale starring Batman reads like, it's disjointed and cryptic events feel incomplete. As if everything you need to know for this issue to make sense is in other books, specifically the books you're not reading. Forgive me for not being a regular reader of all things Bat.

While that takes away points from the book, I can't take away the great character moments that take place here. The little nuances and parallels really set the mood whenever they appear, whether it's a old rich dude in an iron lung trying desperately to talk to (or warn?) Bruce about our hero's impending doom, or the allusions to the circumstances surrounding the death of his parents (the pearls, oh the pearls). The latter scene becomes heartbreaking once the issue heads to its climax, but I think it's better seen and read than described, especially when you have Ryan Sook on art.

This is the first time I've seen Ryan Sook's work, and boy am I impressed. His designs are great, his linework has that smooth Adam Hughes look to it, and he brings the 1930's to life in every page. Awesome, awesome stuff. I think I'll have to look for Ryan Sook's other work.

Return of Bruce Wayne #5 is begging to be good, what with it being the issue leading up to the stunning finale. But even with Prohibition-era goodness, great art and an interesting premise (Bruce investigating his mother's murder at the hands of his -- gasp! -- father?!), the meat of the event just isn't there. It's served elsewhere in bite-sized chunks you have to go out of your way to find. That kind of story isn't something you pay 3.99 for. This book gets a 3 out of 5.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Top 5 Manliest Names in Comics

Let's face it, comic books are a pretty masculine medium, where musclebound men fight other musclebound men while in tights. But there are a select few who go over and beyond the masculinity by virtue of having a name so undeniably badass and manly that it puts hair on your chest just saying them. So who owns the manliest names in the comic book multiverse? I ranked them so you won't have to!

5. Flex Mentallo

Our top 5 manliest name tells you all you need to know about this crazy character. Possibly created in a ganja-induced dream by Grant Morrison, Flex Mentallo appeared in a couple of Doom Patrol issues before starring in his own miniseries in 1996. There he went about doing normal heroic things, like disarming time bombs just by flexing his muscles. When was the last time you did anything productive by flexing your pecs? That's what I thought.

4. Moses Magnum

Now that's a man's name! A name so manly only a soul brother could contain the manliness oozing from it. Not even the humiliation of a pop-collared one-piece white leotard can tarnish a name that could beat you up on its own.

Moses Magnum was a supervillain who often used his earth-shaking powers going up against Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Avengers. While I could make lame jokes about him making girls' knees quake, by the time I've decided not to he's already bedded a good number of women using the kind of clout that a name which sounds like some heavy duty prophylactic brand can buy.

3. Captain Fight

If you found yourself in a bar fight in some shady port, you best chance for survival is to avoid the guy named Captain Fight. The dude sounds like he gains a rank every time he gets into a good scrap. Do you want to be the one who makes him a Brigadier General?

Captain Fight was introduced in the aptly but not eponymous-ly named Fight Comics #44 in the 1940's. Known first as Jeff Crockett, he decided he needed a badass name for when he's sailing the rough seas. From then on he was called Captain Fight, a man who wouldn't think twice about diving shirtless in the sea to stab a shark in the face.

2. Axeman Bone

Axeman Bone. Damn, that's the kind of name that gets you in fights just for being named that way! I mean seriously, how awesome would you be as a kid if you were named Axeman Bone?

But it wasn't always easy for the guy with the second manliest name in comics. Axeman Bone was born in the planet Sakaar, and a member of the Sakaarian Imperial race. As an Imperial, he was deemed so dangerous that the then-Emperor of Sakaar was considered one of his fiercest rivals. Oh, and that was before he was old enough to crawl.

Axeman Bone soon made a name for himself as a barbarian warlord in the shattered world of Sakaar after Green Scar (aka the Hulk) left the planet, and even traded blows with the Hulk's son Skaar. Though Skaar may have won that match, his name could never even hope to match the awesomeness of a name like Axeman Bone.

1. Hard Master

It's said that a winning brand name requires no explanation and no introduction, relying only on it's own strength. Yes, I'm using what little I learned studying Advertising Arts to explain why this guy has the manliest name in comics. Because just reading this man's name feels like a punch from a stainless steel fist.

Hard Master appeared in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #26 as the head of the Arashikage clan, where he trained people to become the best ninjas ever. Two of his prized students are some of the most popular ninjas in popular media: Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes. That's evidence enough that he's one badass dude worthy of the name. And while his untimely demise meant no more stories featuring a crazy old ninja dude with a name like Hard Master, his legacy lives on because he's got the manliest name in comics ever.

There you have it, the five manliest names in comics. The testosterone in this post is off the charts! Like the list? Know of any more manly comic book names/codenames? Hit me up with comments and let's talk about it! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy International Suit Up Day!

Hey! It's International Suit Up Day! I'll be going to work wearing this spiffy black suit...sticking out like a sore thumb in an office full of casuals. But I digress. Let's appreciate the perennial suit in this gallery of comic book characters who make this look damn good!

Let's start with Superman's mild-mannered alter-ego, Clark Kent. Way back in his early days as reporter for the Daily Planet, Clark wore suits to work. Clark here is rocking a double-breasted blue suit, alluding to the dominant color of his superheroic duds. Nice work giving people more reasons to compare you to Superman, Clark. Anyway, it's been a staple of Clark's wardrobe, and it hasn't changed much through the years.

We would be remiss to mention Superman without a look at his arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor! I don't think I've ever seen Lex without a suit and tie. Being the egotistical megalomaniac that he is, an expensive suit and tie is just the thing for Lex to tell the whole world "I'm better than you."

How about billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne? Granted these days we don't get to see much of Bruce, what with him walking his way back through time after being shot by Darkseid's Omega Sanction and all, but when Batman's alter-ego needs to make his rounds spending money and hooking up with celebs, he does so with style!

Director Bones has come a long way from his Black Terror look, trading in the redundant skull-and-crossbones spandex for designer suits and becoming the spiffiest-looking skeleton you've ever seen!

Hey, Marvel's got some best-dressed people too! Zebediah Killgrave, aka the Purple Man, loves some good color combination, often matching his suits with the sick purple color of his skin.

Western comics don't have a stranglehold in the suit business. Manga also has some dapper fellows in its pages, like William T. Spears from the manga Black Butler. It's all business for William here, who matches his cold and aloof nature with an all-black ensemble.

Suits make the man, and these guys have definitely shown us that comic book's got It's not too late to join the party! Take out those suits from your mothball-filled cabinets and indulge yourself by looking like a suave sonovagun just for a day! Happy International Suit Up Day, everyone!

Friday, October 08, 2010

My Week in Comics: October 8, 2010

We've got some new additions to the pull list this week, which is a good thing. Even though I've been cutting back and weeding out the boring and weak, I still love supporting good comics out there. But I digress. It's time for the most verbose comic reviews around! What have I got myself into this week? Read on!

In S.H.I.E.L.D. #4, Leonid tells Leonardo da Vinci what's been in my mind ever since the series started.: "Stop. Just stop being so cryptic and tell me what's going on...tell me the truth."

Thankfully, this time they did exactly that.

The last few issues of S.H.I.E.L.D. read like writer Jonathan Hickman rattling off wild ideas and concepts to no one in particular, ideas trying hard to seem important to some as-of-yet nonexistent continuity. It's a good thing then that Hickman gave us this straightforward ish, tying up some of the wildly loose ends while still introducing some intriguing surprises. We find out that Isac Newton, the head of SHIELD, has been using the resources of the organization in devious and cruel ways to gain knowledge of the Five-Point Understanding. Now, he comes face-to-face with Leonardo da Vinci while Leonid discovers a terrifying secret shackled underneath the Immortal City!

To be honest, I wasn't feeling the last three issues, but I just love what I read here. When Leonardo da Vinci nonchalantly tells Leonid something to the effect of 'BRB, just gonna be the first person to go into space!' before flying off in a winged contraption to play midwife to a celestial giving birth in our sun, it just blows you away just how crazy it is and how much it seems to make sense at the same time.

Dustin Weaver's pencils have been hard at work in this series, and in this issue he gives us more of the same awesome art. His sprawling panoramic scenes and attention to detail gives SHIELD the kind of scale it deserves.

Part of me thinks this would have been more epic and easier to digest in a regular schedule instead of SHIELD's bi-monthly schedule. But as a single issue, there's a lot to love about S.H.I.E.L.D. #4. I give this a 4 out of 5.

I was recommended Freedom Fighters a couple of days ago, and I liked what I saw, so I went and grabbed Freedom Fighters #2 this week. Best decision ever!

Last issue, the Freedom Fighters (Firebrand, Human Bomb, Ray, Black Condor, Phantom Lady and good ol' Uncle Sam) came face to face with the Renegades, ancient beings wielding the powers of nature itself. Now they're in for the fight of their lives, with the fate of the free world hanging in the balance!

I love how this issue is heavy with action, something I've missed seeing in comics these days. The Freedom Fighters went all out with these formidable forces of nature, and it's a sight to behold. But it's not just mindless fisticuffs; writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti make great use of the action to highlight who the Renegades are and what they're capable of, as well as giving us a glimpse of the Freedom Fighters' team dynamic. All that AND they get to advance the plot underneath all that fighting! That's some damn good storytelling right there.

Adding the proverbial sugar on top of this awesomecake of a comic is Travis Moore's art. He's proven he can match Gray and Palmiotti's superhero writing with pencils that are crisp, creative and dynamic. It's been a while since I've seen a comic worth every centavo I paid for. Freedom Fighters #2 is a solid 5 out of 5.

Uncanny X-Force #1 continues the tradition of cutting a bloody swath across the mutant corner of the Marvel U., and it's looking so damn fun.

We're looking at a new X-Force team, lead by Wolverine and composed of Psylocke, Archangel, Deadpool and Fantomex. Their mission: kill Apocalypse. Here in their first outing, they discover a mysterious cult who wants to revive the ancient mutant, nbt what they see there could lead to them biting the dust first!

Whoever chose to stick Fantomex and Deadpool in this motley crew should be given a medal, because this book reads like a guilty pleasure. Rick Remender plays off Fantomex's British playboy persona with awesome results, and his Deadpool is a hoot to read. Both of them add a surprising bit of spice in the midst of brooding, gruff guys like Archangel, and it makes for great reading.

Jerome OpeƱa's realistic art is a refreshing change from Clayton Crain's hyperstylized dance of violence. It's gritty and grounds the story in the here and now, and it's all the better for it. I love his wide, cinematic shots and sense of action. This here's good stuff!

Uncanny X-Force has some guts to say they're going to kill Apocalypse, but you know what? I can't wait to see if they're actually gonna pull it off. A great first issue with everything newbies need to get themselves hooked. This one's a 4 out of 5.

This is a great week in comics for me, probably one of the best I've had. All the comics I got this week were worth my hard-earned money, which is saying a lot. Let's hope next week brings some miracles!

Agree? Disagree? What do you make of SHIELD? Send a comment my way through the comment box below and let's talk about it. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Webcomics I Love: Lovecraft is Missing

I'll be shaking this up this October in honor of the things that go bump in the night! So expect me to highlight some scary, creepy and downright suspenseful webcomics, like the latest webcomic I love, Lovecraft is Missing.

It's got a struggling writer and a damsel in not-so-much distress looking for clues to the disappearance of, well, H.P. Lovecraft. It's a pretty tight mystery, and the art is some of the best I've seen in webcomics. If you're into cultists, badass priests and mystical primeval nightmares made manifest, Lovecraft is Missing is for you. What are you waiting for? Hop to it!

Friday, October 01, 2010

My Week In Comics: October 1, 2010

Ramen, cats, and the Rapture is keeping me busy this week! What have I gotten myself into? Read on to find out.

Taisho's back for another serving of zaniness in Neko Ramen vol. 2.: Curry is also Delicious. I was the literal definition of "ROFL" with the first volume, and I was excited to read what Taisho, the cat who cooks ramen, is up to this time. Here, Kenji Sonishi gives us some new gags like Taisho learning to cook curry (he sucks at it), making the ramen shop more handicapped accessible (at the expense of those who aren't), having a French chef as hired help (Non! Non!) and lots more.

Most of the book is in 4-koma format, but there are also full manga pages devoted to stories about Taisho's dad, the time Taisho joined a ramen-cook off for a spot in a department store, and other Taisho musings about his life as a ramen cook. The 4-panel gag strip format lends itself to some quick laughs, but Sonishi's comedic timing leads to some side-splitting scenes that will have you laughing a few pages after. I was reading this in the MRT yesterday and everyone thought I was crazy, manga in hand and keeping myself from bursting into tears laughing.

But I think Sonishi's strength lies in knowing what would make this book sell: d'awww-inducing cuteness turned all the way up to 11. He really knows how to touch a cat lover's nerve with his scribbly drawings of cats and other fauna. This is a freaking adorable book, no question about it.

This book may not be for everyone, what with all this talk about cute cats and ramen and curry, and I totally understand. But trust me, if you love cats and you love ramen, then there's plenty of them here in the funniest manga of the year, all years. This one's a 5 out of 5.

Artifacts #2 gives us the aftermath of Hope's abduction in the last issue. Her mom's rightfully pissed, and her dad's out to kill whoever's responsible. It's all well and good, until you realize said parents are the wielders of the Witchblade and the Darkness, respectively. You don't piss off two of the most powerful weapons in the Top Cow universe and expect to live!

Ron Marz serves up another set-up issue, this time with more Artifact bearers getting screentime. It's pretty newbie-friendly, with just enough info about the Artifacts to get you invested in the story. It helps that Marz writes these deadly, super-powered beings in a way that makes you sympathize with them; you really feel that Sarah Pezzini and Jackie Estacado will go to great lengths to rescue their daughter from the mysterious Big Bad.

It's fun to see most of the said Artifacts together in one panel, since I'm a sucker for 'collect the artifacts' kinds of stories like The Sixth Gun and Sojourn. It helps that artist Michael Broussard's gritty and stylized art really sets the tone for the issue. Broussard makes Tom Judge's demonic form look so badass that I can't wait to see it in action soon! Though I do take issue with the fact that you lose a little bit of storytelling clarity in all the grittiness, and I question Broussard's choice of angles in some panels, with characters appearing out of nowhere or important scenes not getting the close-ups they deserve.

Artifacts #2 whets your appetite for more, but just enough. With me already dead set on seeing this through to the end, it's pretty slow moving. But for people jumping into the Top Cow universe through this event, it has everything you need to keep you coming back. This one's a 4 out of 5.

It's a great week in comics for me! What about you? Agree? Disagree? Want to suggest other books to try? Hit me up in the comments and let's talk about it! Thanks for reading!
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