Curb Stomp #1

Boom! Studios

Release Date:  2/25/15

Words:  Ryan Ferrier

Pictures:  Devaki Neogi

The Sitch:

A rich metropolitan city is surrounded by three boroughs, each with it’s own gang defending their own territories.  The Fever is a group of five women undertaking the self appointed task of protecting their home, Old Beach.  When Machete Betty brutally kills a rival gang member in self defense, a chain reaction of retaliation, gang warfare and unlikely allies is set.  This is the set up for a four issue run in which The Fever – Machete Betty, Derby Girl, Bloody Mary, Daisy Chain, and Violet Volt, defend their home and each other at all costs.

The Confession:

This book is like The Outsiders and The Warriors… if they starred some kick ass women. Which, I personally, think is a long time coming.  I find it much more interesting to see how a group of strong women can band together and be willing to die for each other than witness one more story depicting the same old bro code.  Curb Stomp has a lot of potential, with a group of protagonists that are culturally diverse and all female. From the beginning we know that The Fever are not in it for the drugs or the money, they are just out to keep their home safe and taking care of their own. I like how each member of The Fever was quickly introduced through brief dialogue exchanges and manners of dress just enough to reveal their different personalities, complete with badass cool names.  Each woman has a voice and each make a point of being heard.

The art is gritty and raw.  It goes along well with the punk feel of the story.  It’s not “pretty,” but not much of Old Beach is.  The rash reality of this world is heartbreaking and brutal. As violent as the title sounds, the actual brutality of the act is not depicted, leaving much to the reader’s imagination.  Sometimes what is suggested can be more powerful than seeing it painted out for you.  Even scarier is the aftermath, the consequences of a single, uncontrolled moment.  The art and colors emphasize this feeling of desperation and brutality.

Curb Stomp is not one for everyone’s tastes, but that is why Indie books are such a treasure trove for unexpected stories.  If you are one of those more adventurous souls that like a little diversity and unapologetic, badass women doing it for themselves, this is something worth checking out.

curbstomp

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Big Trouble in Little China #1

Boom! Studios

Release Date:  6/4/14

Words:  John Carpenter and Eric Powell

Pictures:  Brian Churilla

The Sitch:

Jack Burton is back to continue his action packed and comedic adventures right where the Big Trouble in Little China movie left off, driving down a lonely highway in his truck, The Porkchop Express, talking his talk into his CB with a hairy demon in tow.

The Confession:

Like most children of the 80’s I loved this movie, mostly because I had a crush on Kurt Russell and I have a thing for those smart-assy, heroic types.  Also, because it’s funny.  I have a healthy appreciation of the tongue-in-cheek genre.  Powell has gotten the spirit and heart of the movie down in these pages so much so that it is easy to hear the characters in your head just like you remember them.  Apparently the movie was nothing much out of the ordinary for Jack, which explains how he handles things so well and with so much Jack Burton charm.  I will not ruin your read at all with spoilers because the pages are so short and read so fast when you’re having fun.

Churilla’s art is a bit cartoonish without being too simplistic.  It’s just realistic enough to be believable of this particular universe.  He brings to life the characters and creatures of this world perfectly in line with the campy spirit of the film.  I like how he can bring out the likenesses of the characters, not just copied screen grabs.  The book is its own entity while remaining true to the beloved film.

If you are a fan of the film Big Trouble in Little China and miss the genius of the 80’s you have to get this book.  Nostalgia is good for the soul.  If you have never experienced the pleasure of watching this film, shame on you!  It’s streaming on Netflix.  Go educate yourself first and then get this book.  Best addition to your summertime bucket list ever.

btilc

 

Robocop – The Last Stand #1

Boom!

Release Date:  8/7/13

Words:  Steven Grant, but based on Frank Miller’s script

Pictures:  Korkut Oztekin

The Sitch:

Frank Miller’s screenplay is brought to comic book life through the pen of Steven Grant.  In Robocop – The Last Stand, the Detroit police force has disbanded and the people of the city are at the mercy of ED-209s and OCP officers.  Robocop is their only hope.

The Confession:

As promising as it all sounds, especially if you’re a fan of Miller and/or Robocop, this book falls a bit flat.  The reader can easily see Miller’s influence, and it’s not that Grant does a terrible job, but there is a half-assed feel to the story.  The story has been done before, more than once even.  It goes like this:  our hero is living in the shadows, fighting the good fight, while the city around him is filled with debauchery and corruption, so it is up to him alone to take the last stand for the people.  Fans of Robocop will find their hero is still matter-of-fact about executing his form of justice in defense of the people he is sworn to protect, and aesthetically, he is still the cool Robocop from the 80’s that we know and love.  No complaint there.  But the best part of the original movie was the villains he took on.  There is none of that here, at least in this first issue, and that is what makes it all a bit dull and unmemorable.  The characters are not fleshed out enough to give them any color or substance.  There is a lack of the outrageousness and humor of the characters, especially the baddies, that we saw in the movie that made the story so classic.

The best part of this book is the art by Oztekin.  He gives the feel of mania and desperation of a dark, and dirty city.  His composition of the action sequences are good.  He keeps true to the look and feel of the Robocop defined in the 80’s.

I would recommend this one to fans of Robocop who having been dying to see what happened to Murphy and his city.  I, too, like scratching that unfinished business itch.  It’s not terrible but it’s not spectacular either.

 

Polarity #2

Boom! Studios

Release Date:  5/1/13

Words:  Max Bemis

Pictures:  Jorge Coelho

The Sitch: 

Tim realizes his powers are not just a manifestation of his mental illness and decides to use them for good, righting the “pathetic wrongs” of his generation.

The Confession:

I enjoyed this Polarity #2 follow up to an intriguing first issue.  Tim is realizing that he’s got this great power, and we all know that with great power comes great responsibility.  Tim first exacts revenge on the hipsters and jocks that tortured him by acting like a super jerk and exposing things about people typically kept secret.  Though hilarious, he comes to the conclusion acting the jerk isn’t responsible and his efforts are better used righting the wrongs of his pathetic generation by exposing posers for what they are. Tim takes a stand professing, “We will not tolerate flagrant hypocrites who seek to take advantage of the generalized insecurity and stupidity of our generation.”

Coelho continues to deliver the same standard of art.  It fits well with the humor of hipster life and times.  It is straight forward and detailed at times, with attention to the detail of facial expressions and poses.  At other times it is as reckless and surreal as Tim’s mental state of mind.

This is a cool alternative to the super hero story and one ride I will see to the end.

Adventure Time #1

Boom! Studios

Release Date:  4/17/13

Words:  Ryan North

Pictures:  Shelli Paroline, Braden Lamb

The Sitch:  The Terrible Lich King has escaped from The Bag of Holding and is sucking everything around him in The Land of Ooo, leaving destruction in his wake.  Jake and Finn, too, are sucked into The Bag of Holding and must find a way out.

The Confession:

Before I accepted the challenge of widening my scope of reading, my favorite comics were exclusively of the more mature nature.  Then I read Li’l Gotham.  I followed it up this week with Adventure Time #1 and I now have another favorite.  It is a smart comic overtly geared toward the younger crowd but written without insulting anyone’s intelligence.  It’s obvious kids will love it but adults can enjoy it as well.  The humor, not unlike the television show itself, is nonsensical genius.  It’s also kinda gross.  Gross is funny and never gets old.  Despite the doodley cartoony feel and bright happy colors the humor can get surprisingly dark.

The art work is straight from the show.  It is oddly whimsical.  Even though it looks like pages from some kids doodle book, there is a lot of detail going on from the expressions of the character faces to the bits in the background.

Bonus is the backup story included in the back of the book.  The art work diverges into something a little more surreal than the original.  The watercolor use is beautiful and in contrast to the dirty humor.  I loved it.  I understand these back stories will focus on ancillary characters in The Land of Ooo.  This story centered on Tree Trunks and her investigation of the cider recipe that is taking attention away from her own.  It’s cute and it’s crass.  It’s good times.

Polarity #1

BOOM! Studios

Release Date:   4/3/13

Words:   Max Bemis

Pictures:  Jorge Coelho

The Sitch:

Polarity is a four issue miniseries that follows a Brooklyn artist, Tim Wood, who stops taking his bipolar meds only to discover he has super powers.

The Confession:

I enjoyed this comic the most of this week’s selection.  I admit, I had never heard of the band “Say Anything,” which Bemis fronts, until I picked up this read.  This debut reflects some of Bemis’ own experiences dealing with bipolar disorder.

Tim Wood is a sort of unlikeable character, full of self loathing.  He has found himself at the center of a hipster horror show, himself judging the judgmental and being praised by his peers for art he made while manic.  At this point, I too, would choose to go off my meds, especially if it gave me the super powers to deal with so much smuggery.

I liked how Bemis conveyed the high of invincibility and the low of self loathing typical with bipolar disorder.  I think those familiar with bipolar disorder will appreciate Bemis’ balance between humor and horror, the kind of stuff one needs to survive living with a disease that questions which self one likes better, the self on drugs or the self off drugs.  Coelho’s art is beautiful.  The panels and illustrations are obviously neat and clean when Tim has his shit together and, as he begins his decent into darkness, the work gets more disheveled.  I also appreciated his attention to detail from the vibrant colors, angles and lines of hipster slouch and their expressions of smug boredom, to Tim’s own art as he descends into mania.  I listened to Say Anything’s “is a Real Boy” album on my second read through for a more thorough experience.  This is one story I plan on seeing to the end.