The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Personal Pull List 8/6/08: Nightwing, Cable, Hulk and more!

Written by: Tom Sanford V, CC2K Contributor

ImageCC2K's Tom Sanford goes through his comic book pull list for the current week and pulls out some gems…and some not so gems. Also, last week's leftovers!

 Cable #6 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Duane Swierczynski
Artist – Ariel Olivetti
Letters – Joe Caramanga
Cover – Adi Granov

Perfect timing for a much needed break from the futuristic downer that Cable is trying to make sense of; this issue focuses on the reactions to the situation of those in the present day, and most particularly, Scott Summers. Told in the style of thought process and dream, Scott worries about why his son hasn’t contacted him from the future, and if it means that the hope for all mutants has even survived. He is complimented by Emma Frost next to him, trying to be a voice both out loud and in mind of faith that he should have in the situation.

Up until this point, the book has mostly consisted of Cable, Bishop, and the surrounding people of the future of which there are few. Reminding the reader of what the fight was about in the first place, a ‘flashback’ works perfectly as a refresher of whom once existed and what the true importance of Cable and his survival really is. Interactions with Wolverine, Beast, and other X-Men help to dig deeper into Cyclops’ desires as a man and as a leader. Their personalities don’t take tolls from being shown briefly, either, and everything about each character them is as we’ve always known, specific and independent.

The artistic portrayals of the modern day seem brighter, more colorful, and healthier than how Cable has looked. It helps to show the difference in ‘time zones,’ and breathes a different type of life. It may seem the focus hasn’t been on Cable the entire issue, and while it has been mostly spoken from Cyclops’ viewpoint, even the frames in which the title character is not present pertain to him. The more upbeat depictions of those modern day characters escalates and specifies the rugged, gravel eating, battered depiction of Cable in the future. A gloss of comfort and normalcy is no match for the gritty future however, so it is possible that even in this issue, Cable’s viewpoint isn’t focused on enough. However, it doesn’t take away from the book in the least, and its’ enhancement of the book as a whole was needed. It wasn’t becoming stale, but it is no problem to see this story focused on from a different viewpoint.

Without saying too much about the father and son relationship the issue touches on, it will be nice to see it portrayed more in the future. An interesting aspect it seems has almost fallen into the readers’ lap, pleasantly surprising anyone looking for more layers of depth. This is going to become an appreciated and oft focused on X-Men book.

4.0 out of 5.





ImageGrimm Fairy Tales #29 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Raven Gregory & Ralph Tedesco
Pencils – Mauro
Colors – Kieren Oats
Letters – Bernie Lee
Design – David Seidman

Just a quick question on the covers for Grimm Fairy Tales: why are there so freaking many? I, just like anyone else, look at covers and even purchase some that are supposed to be ‘collectible,’ but how can I find which is more important when they’re placed into a pile at the comic store without any sort of difference? Sure, it’s interesting to see differences in imaging, inking, and it’s a given that you will always come across a talented artist in a Zenescope book, but why so many? Not only that, if you’ve made it to a ‘con and seen the company’s booth, they have the exclusive “limited edition” covers and they are overpriced and hardly different. This issues’ ‘A’ and ‘B’ covers are not interestingly different enough to care which you get, is one of the reasons it’s worth mentioning covers in general. Another reason is there’s not a whole lot to talk about for issue #29 otherwise.

A run of the mill telling of King Midas sees a man picking up his daughter from a day care taught by Belinda, who is continuing to change appearances. It’s brief and lacking even the simplest explanation; it does at least offer the best frame of the book, a member of the daycare charging up Dragonball-Z style. I’ve read several books this week, and it is the only time I’ve laughed out loud, including having read books that were supposed to be funny. Not to hype it up for a potential reader, but it was a funny detail. The characters are nonetheless realistically drawn and their facial expressions present emotion that the story itself lacks. Cutting into the King Midas portion, it’s bland, not the most exciting of fairy tales as it is, and presented here is no exception.

One might read a Grimm book and get tired of the constant and sometimes unnecessary turns for the worse or excessive gore. In this issue it’s completely lacking, and it strangely is something that is missed. It only gets worse as the book continues on, tacking on a falsified ending that is not only out of place, but a pointless foreshadowing of what looks to be a recurring character. This book should stick to what it does best, interesting one shots telling stories in a manner they are not usually told. Trying to build its’ own mythology beyond the Belinda characters is a poor choice of direction, but hopefully it won’t effect too many books to come in the future.

2.0 out of 5.



ImageHulk #5 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Jeph Loeb
Pencils – Ed McGuinness
Inks – Mark Farmer
Colors – Jason Keith
Letters – Comicraft

Jeph Loeb lets Audrey Loeb write a mini-Marvel comic at the end of each issue of Hulk. Maybe he should let her have the regular writing duties while he’s at it, because with how stupid Hulk is becoming, there wouldn’t be much difference. And then, at least, I could believe, or suspend disbelief enough to enjoy Red Hulk dragging Thor into outer space by his hammer and dropping him on the moon.

After bunches of crashes and smashes that play out like an anime cartoon, Red Hulk takes care of Thor and “leaps” back to Earth. As he gets there, he leaves Thor for dead (or so he thinks) and sticks his finger in his nose, laughing at everyone around them. Then the book turns into an overload of superhero cameos. As if we’ve never seen any of them before, two of the Fantastic Four appear, and then a handful of Avengers clench their fists and pose in the final frame.

It was easy to summarize the entire issue briefly, because despite being a full size, not much happens other than lame grumbling and ‘massive’ attacks. Because of this, an exchange between green Hulk and Abomination (surprise, he’s alive!) in their baby talk becomes the lowest of the low in any form of comic book. No longer is it simple to accept that Hulk just talks like that, it’s been pointed out that he sounds ridiculous when doing it.

Predictable, boringly over the top and as brief as can possibly be, the issue lacks even the most basic thought process. Trying to boost itself with cameos, it fails to present any sort of excitement and gears towards uselessness. If you’re a fan of the Hulk, I just want to say thanks for making this book what it is. No, really, thanks so much! Hope for some improvement in the near future or be ready to jump ship on this book which is a grade below even the worst cartoon adaptations these characters have ever seen.

1.0 out of 5.



ImageLocke & Key #6 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Joe Hill
Artist – Gabriel Rodriguez
Colors – Jay Fotos
Letters – Robbie Robbins

The Locke family concludes the first look at its’ complex, supernatural situation with this, the final issue in a six part series, giving a fantastic finale and setting up for a continuation. After being kidnapped by the sadistic murderer of its patriarch, the family must attempt to stay strong and survive his head games. All the while, the family’s youngest son, Bode, has the answer to the situation, or at least he thinks so, and is the only hope for the family’s survival.

Many, many comics can take a cue from this immaculately written book. Reading it is a breath of fresh air in a literary world plagued by many superheroes and various other characters penned with a half hearted attempt at humanism.  These characters live, they breathe, they feel fear, and they are without a doubt in pain. The subtleties not only in how their characters are written, but in how they are portrayed artistically, make this a book to be not just enjoyed, but necessary in the continuation of comics as a respected medium.

The book returns to the roots at the idea of horror, or something being ‘horrific,’ in that murder is not meant to stimulate bloodlust when watching a killer at work, but to actually horrify. The faces on the fearful Locke family, even the oldest son who is twice their adversaries’ size, are that of pain and fright. Because of this, it’s very simple to fear for their lives, and care deeply about what happens to a family whose crest has been beaten and battered. It’s truly enamoring to watch them in what seems to be their darkest hour, try to survive a situation they couldn’t possibly overcome naturally.

Of course, that doesn’t rule out overcoming a situation supernaturally, and while it takes place, never is it heavy handed or unbelievable. The book finishes with an unexpected, uniquely bizarre change, and it’s not only easy to accept, it’s exciting. Of course, while some aspects of the story have been wrapped, many more have been left open, and others have even been created, making the continuation of this storyline a must. The issue concludes with a claim that Locke & Key: Head Games is to be released in the winter of this year, and I can’t help but pray that that’s true. Locke & Key is a fantastically crafted, seamlessly whisked horror comic that is so good, one might imagine it taking place just a few towns away. After a wonderful six issues, it’s a joy and a pleasure to know that this book will continue on. See you this winter!

5.0 out of 5!



ImageLost Boys: Reign of Frogs #3 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Hans Rodionoff
Pencils – Joel Gomez
Inker – Don Ho
Colors – Randy Mayor & Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer – Steve Wands

The Frog brothers have discovered that Sam’s beloved grandfather is a vampire. While it seemed like a poor choice at the time with Rodionoff picking the idea from the bottom shelf instead of the top, it works surprisingly well and has redeemed the series. Grandpa, of course, is only a “half-vampire” and awaiting full transformation from “The Widow Johnson.” The self-references were exciting the first issue, useless in the second, and have found some sort of balance in this issue, leaning more towards being the clever subtleties they were at the beginning. The transformation of a single line of dialogue from the original film turning into a living, breathing, vampiric burlesque house showcases an interesting thought process. While there have been instances where such an attempt doesn’t even work on film (Pirates of the Caribbean, and an island of cannibals with a Sparrow chef? Please.) it certainly works in the comic pages, for better or for worse. The characters have gained some depth in a universe where not much depth is allowed, so being an improvement and taking the story in its’ best direction is the books’ biggest plus. Leaving the issue with a cliff-hanger finish, the anticipation has been raised and the final issue has created more wonder than it probably ever should have.

By now, if you haven’t seen Lost Boys: The Tribe you’re either living in a vampire cave, or didn’t really care. The film is cheese and crackers, just like the original, and once one can get over the fact that it didn’t focus on who everyone wanted it to, it’s certainly enjoyable. It’s also necessary to mention it as this series was boasted as bridging the gap between the two films, but surprise, it hasn’t concluded! Why this is, we will most likely never know. The final issue is set to be released on August 27th, which has created unnecessary confusion for those who’ve now seen the new film, but regardless, it also generates interest. Between the new film’s ending and its’ alternate endings presented on the DVD, a whole lot must happen in this fourth issue.

The series is worth picking up if only to cure boredom. It has added a backbone to what was once a one-shot movie and helps to garner enjoyment for The Tribe for anyone who is wary of a straight-to-video release, of which there are many. Regardless of fears, the feeling, mood, and consistency of quality, whatever level that may be at, has carried from the first film to the second, and is no doubt present in this comic mini-series. It will most likely at the very least be as good in the final issue.

3.5 out of 5.



ImageNightwing #147 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils – Don Kramer
Inks – Jay Leisten
Colors – Hi-Fi
Letters – Sal Cipriano
Cover – Rags Morales

The defibrillator is out and Nightwing has had the life shocked back into it. Just when it seemed as Tomasi was losing his grip with a moderately goofy story going on for too long, the R.I.P. tie-in begins and explosively makes itself known. Well, almost. The issue doesn’t seem to have much to do with Batman’s main book at the moment, other than a couple of reference drops. One works better than the other, both seem forced, but in the end it’s not anything that matters because the story in itself is good enough. Nightwing is summoned into what seems a dangerous trap by Harvey Dent, only to be instead asked for help. Instead of responding with simple agreement, he responds like a true hard-ass without a lick of sympathy and rocks him not just in the face, but in the crappier half with a knuckle-buster. Not only did the moment have a pulse, it had soul, and depicted the character of Dick Grayson and his tortured inside without being blatant.

The pacing is perfectly timed and before you realize it the book is over. It has its’ moments of mostly adrenaline laced with exposition that doesn’t go too deep to be a bore. As it finishes, it puts Nightwing in not one, but two compromising situations at the same time.

I mention two situations, because besides the regular Batman book, this is my only other R.I.P. tie-in. As I said, it’s not much of a tie-in, however, and it has already been confusingly meshed with that story’s time-line. That having been said, you can tell the mood is the same, as Dick was ignorant of Bruce’s problems in R.I.P., he is also ignorant of them here, and his arrogance makes him interesting to watch. It’s not irritating, but it only leaves room to wonder when, where, and how he can slip up. That slip-up might, it seems, come at the hands of Two-Face, but is also open to question, leaving a mysterious aspect that helps make the book even easier to read. Just as Tomasi brought Nightwing back to life when he came on board, he has rescued it from itself and turned it back into something viable. Hopefully it will reference and tie-in with Batman more than it is right now, but there is certainly still time and as long as its’ taken without any expectancy, the criminality and the situation are classic comic book.

4.0 out of 5.




ImageThe Piper #4 Review by Tom Sanford
Writer – Mike Kalvoda, Joe Brusha & Ralph Tedesco
Pencils – Alex Medellin Machain
Colors – Garry Henderson
Letters – Thomas Mauer

Finally, this mini-series is over. With all due respect to the creative team behind it, and it certainly looks like they put plenty of hard work into the art, but the consistency of the story itself is painfully lacking and it’s time for it to be done. After four issues, I don’t remember any character names besides The Piper, and that one isn’t too difficult to recall. Something made someone somewhere think this story could be stretched amongst four issues when it only really needed one brief one at most. It reads like the same situation over and over again, continuing as the demonic piper steals soul after soul, with no one spared. Watching a film play out as a repeat of the same scene is difficult, but reading a comic book doing such is even worse.

Making the promise that he would “pay up,” the protagonist is still on the run for not keeping his word. Meanwhile, the jock-douchebag has also made a promise to the piper (which I had forgotten about, yet again) and is unleashing his reign of terror on the dweebs in high school. It sounds, even simplistically written here, more complex than it is. Continuing with pointless and gratuitous murders, it reaches its’ finish and tacks on a turn around for its’ main characters. Grim indeed.

As this mini-series finishes, I wonder what could have been different about it that might make me have recalled it better. Aside from all that it lacks, it certainly could have made at least one character likeable, or even interestingly dislikeable. Instead, they’re all just goofy, wooden, and empty. I’m wondering, also, if it would kill Zenescope to give one of their stories an ending that doesn’t involve everyone dying. It’s a given for fans of the company’s books to know that most likely make it out alive, but when it seems forced, and even pointless, it would be simply more entertaining to just leave it out all together. Blood lust is very much satisfied with just a single ‘kill’ in one of these issues, as so much detail and effort is put into portraying that violence. To keep driving it further and further is a trademark, for certain, but can definitely be unnecessary. In the end, this mini-series is to be avoided at all costs, or more specifically, a total of twelve bucks.

1.5 out of 5.