The Comics Corner - Week of 02/01/2011
|Welcome to the Comics Corner! This week the Corner is spreading the love as each of the five comics reviewed are from five different publishers! There’s BOOM! Studio’s exciting conclusion to Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes, Vertigo’s Sweet Tooth and courtesy of Image its Invincible! And from the big two, some smaller titles with Justice League International and Venom! It’s a Comics Corner featuring a little bit of everything so come inside and discover the dangers that lie in wait at the Top of the Stack!|
Sweet Tooth #30
“…and everything turns upside down.”
After far too long, Sweet Tooth back at the Top of the Stack here inside the Comics Corner!
To say that the series has lost its way would be horribly inaccurate but certainly it’s fair to say that the series had been wandering. In no way was this temporary shift in focus a bad thing as the dramatic three part history lesson was terrific and will no doubt prove essential as Gus, Jepperd and company continue their journey.
But this story, the aptly titled ‘Unnatural Habitats’ has completely reignited the series and set it back on its dramatic, breakneck pace. It’s clear when reading this series that creator Jeff Lemire enjoys torturing his readers. Just when you think that these characters have been through enough and that they’ve finally hit rock bottom, it gets worse. Just when you start to hope that the situation they’re in is really as great as it seems – the world goes to hell.
After thirty issues there is absolutely no reason for any reader, myself included, to think that any situation, or the series as a whole, is going to end well. But Gus and Jepperd have been through and survived so much already you want to root for them regardless of what common sense tells you. There is something about these characters that Lemire has created that makes you want to see them finally have happiness. It’s a remarkable paradox that Lemire has created. He spends thirty issues beating these characters down, taking the readers along for the ride, only to have both the characters and the readers keep coming back for more.
The group’s trek north to Alaska was sure to full of peril and disaster but I’m not sure I was prepared for this. The entire group is fragmented and separated – and I don’t simply mean that geographically. The group dynamic has begun to crumble as alliances and betrayals have become common place. When Jepperd repeatedly tells Gus “We’d be better off on our own” you start to believe him. But you also believe Gus when he tells Jepperd that they need their friends to survive. Another Lemire paradox.
You simply cannot let your guard down for even a moment in this series. Once you set the issue aside, and have finally resumed breathing, it only gets worse as your imagination goes wild with the possibility of what might happen next.
Every character is this series is currently in extreme danger – or so Lemire would have us believe by issue’s end – and despite the fear of what is to come I simply cannot wait to read it. Even knowing that it may very well tear me up inside I eagerly await the next issue.
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Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes #4 (of 4)
“We have much to talk about.”
There’s something about the concept of Planet of the Apes that just works, plain and simple. It taps into something very natural and primal and works as entertainment on a variety of levels. Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes is a perfect example of the potential that exists in this world dominated by apes.
The political thriller/murder mystery story was four straight issues of jam-packed entertainment and it’s a shame to see it end. The characters were terrific, both the heroes and villains. And there were some characters that until the very end we didn’t know which side they were on. Betrayal delivered on every level.
In the very first issue of the series I suggested the fact that the Dr. Zaius we were introduced to was very different from the Dr. Zaius we knew from the original film. I speculated that this would be the story that would turn him into the ape fans love to hate from the landmark science fiction film. On the surface it may not seem like this series belongs to Dr. Zaius but given the journey he takes in these four issues, setting up his character for the movie, it was certainly one of my favorite aspect of this multi-layered miniseries. It doesn’t just set up the character of Dr. Zaius but actually transforms the entire political and social landscape of the world that Charlton Heston’s character will soon be discovering.
The reveal of a follow up, entitled Exile of the Planet of the Apes, is terrific news. However the announcement that Gabriel Hardman, who co-wrote and illustrated this series, will not be doing the artwork for Exile is upsetting. Hardman’s unique style was a perfect match for this series, creating a unique and vibrant tone that flawlessly captured the spirit of the original film and its sequels. Hardman will be returning as co-writer, along with Corinna Bechko, for Exile of the Planet of the Apes – which can’t get here soon enough.
“Allen, I’m fine.”
Talk. Fight. Repeat.
That might seem like a simple enough concept but when those ingredients are done right the result is a terrific superhero comic book.
This series is all over the place, jumping from one topic/story to the next but maintains a terrific flow and pace that keeps it from becoming confusing or disjointed.
Invincible has become obsessed with find new and unconventional methods for protecting the planet. He believes his efforts to this point have not done enough and if can think outside the box (like releasing and then working with former super villains) that he can do more, that he can do all that he’s capable of. But when the leader of the Coalition comes to Earth to destroy a race of aliens currently living in exile on the planet, Invincible rushes out into space to stop him. More than words are exchanged as Invincible, and an unexpected ally, try to prevent the extermination of an alien race that would also eliminate the human population on Earth.
There are plenty of exciting moments throughout the issue, including an incredible cliffhanger that re-emphasizes the quality of creator Robert Kirkman’s ever-expanding superhero series.
Justice League International #6
“Superman and company don’t get this kind of reception.”
This was the best issue of Justice League International since the first. Primarily a filler issue and a chance for the series to reset following a lackluster debut story arc, but the issue does deliver a tremendous amount of potential.
The issue takes time to re-introduce all of the characters and heroes that make up the Justice League International allowing some growth and reveals for each member of the team. This allows readers to get to know the characters better and will provide more interest the next time they all charge off into battle. I’m sure that there was editorial pressure to hit the ground running but this would have made a terrific first issue, rather than a sixth. With a few quick mentions of the events of the first four issues any new readers of this series will be quickly brought up to speed.
I would say that this issue wraps up the first story nicely and paves the way for the future of the series but it actually almost completely ignores the first story and moves into the future almost by way of starting over.
If this is DC asking for a second chance, I’ll give to them. I like these characters too much walk away now and if the renewed focus on the characters remains intact this series will be just fine.
“I’m a General, you’re a Corporal.”
Venom, as a series – and as a character for that matter – has defied all odds. Nothing about this concept should work and yet, everything does. So writer Rick Remender has decided to push his luck and invite some the other red-headed stepchildren of the Marvel Universe to come join Venom on a multi-issue event.
For the next several issues I think they should consider re-naming this series to Venom’s Home for Wayward and Underappreciated Marvel Characters. All of the characters in this Hell-on-Earth story are characters looking for/in need of redemption, some more literally than others. Red Hulk, X-23 and the new Ghost Rider, with Johnny Blaze in tow, all converge on Las Vegas with Venom and are soon caught in Blackheart’s plot to unleash Hell on Earth – literally.
Even from that brief synopsis you can see that the villain and story are both lacking but the combination of this freakish foursome is more than worth the price of admission. The middle four issues will feature each member of this new group and will be written by the writer most recently associated with that character with Remender and artist Terry Moore returning for the story’s final issue, an interesting real-world concept added to this wacky story. Moving forward the dynamic of this random and unpredictable team should solidify their roles as fun and underappreciated characters that certainly belong in the same universe and Captain America and Spider-Man.
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