Archive for the 'wildstorm' Category

22
Jan
09

Ex Machina #40

Script by Brian K. Vaughan Pencils by Tony Harris

The fact that Ex Machina has a mere ten issues and one special left to it’s run makes me nervous on a monthly basis. In a medium where we know the JLA will never really be killed off or end a finite series seems so alien. As Vaughan’s previous series, Y The Last Man, was winding down readers all over the country were slowly forced to confront the hard truth: the book is going to end and it’s going to end on Vaughan’s preplanned terms. Much like Y, Ex Machina is a work of staggering genius, a work that builds upon the propensity of Alan Moore and the character work of Harvey Pekar while maintaining a real sense of early 1960’s Marvel mythology. I haven’t read anything about Stan Lee reading the series but I could only imagine that he’d enjoy it thoroughly.

The concept of Ex Machina is fairly simple; it’s about New York and anything Brian K. Vaughan sees as New Yorkish. It becomes more complicated from there. Mitchell Hundred, a civil engineer, has half of his face blown off by a strange glowing device near the Brooklyn Bridge and upon regaining consciousness, can talk to and control every machine he is in a close vicinity to. He becomes the world’s first superhero, inspired by DC heroes and Superman. He later retires from being a superhero, realizing he’s changing nothing, runs for mayor of New York City and wins.

By making comic heroes a very real fiction in Ex Machina BKV has begun a dialogue in the book about comics themselves, which is what this stand alone issue is all about. Thus far the only single issue story among tightly-plotted five issue story arcs counting down to the 50th issue, this issue seems immediately special and it certainly is. In the issue Mitchell Hundred decides he wants to make a memoir in the form of a graphic novel and two of the people who audition for him are Brian K. Vaughan and, yes, Tony Harris. The portrayal of Vaughan is especially interesting in this issue as a kind of frightened, neurotic writer who is scared of looking like an idiot while the very laid back and impressive Harris hits on secretaries and generally enjoys himself while in Gracie Mansion. Vaughan’s interview in the comic is an interesting one, a dissection of his loyalty to New York, how he hasn’t been able to leave it since September 11th, an event that has been integral to both the plot of Ex Machina and the life of Mitch Hundred and his former alter ego, The Great Machine. This issue appears to be very much about Vaughan and New York, though it’s not done in a way where Vaughan is celebrating himself, instead he seems to be celebrating his faults and weaknesses. And his love of NYC.

The idea of meta-fiction isn’t new by any means, during the second year of Fantastic Four Jack Kirby and Stan Lee has the FF meet them in their studio and it’s not nearly as subtle or meaningful. Reading it last year in the great Fantastic Four Omnibus Volume 1 was a fantastic treat but it borders on crass and is a definite walk into the jokey and goofy world of Lee’s absolutely non-serious writing. Vaughan does a much better of walking that fine line between telling a story about the characters that are based on you and telling a story celebrating you by showing just how great you think you are. But of course, there’s that whole bit about standing on the shoulders of giants. Because of his love

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03
Sep
07

Wetworks #12

Written by J.M. DeMatteis

Art by Joel Gomez and Trevor Scott

Cover by Whilce Portacio

Wildstorm $2.99 

Okay, this was the single best issue of Wetworks I’ve ever read.  I had seriously gotten to a point where I don’t even want to read this book when I get it, but I’m too lazy to make an alteration to my subscription list and have it stop being pulled.  It’s not horrible, it’s just not good, but this issue was quite good and completely different from the previous 11 issues that Wildstorm has put out post-Worldstorm relaunch.

The majority of the narration of the story for this issue is done by a sort of Laurel K. Hamilton writer who writes romantic-leaning vampire novels, who happens to be a very part-time lover of Persephone/Red, a vampire who serves as part of Dane’s Wetworks team.  There are strong narratives by the writer, both in regular fashion in letter boxes at the top of the panels which segway into scenes on his typewriter, which were fantastic and really well-placed, along with narrations by Red herself.

Against Dane’s knowledge, special ops are sent to  make sure Red doesn’t get soft from being in love.  So the agent goes a little far and almost kills her lover, and Red lives up to her reputation and makes sure that this is the final mission of this particular agent.  It works well with the overall revamping of the series.

It looks like Dematteis is scheduled to be on this book until at least Christmas and if he keeps up with this kind of storytelling, along with the original team back in place and somehow manages to get back to what the first arcs strong sensibilities were, he could really turn the book around.

11
Aug
07

Deathblow #6

Written by Brian Azzarello

Art by Carlos D’Anda and Andy Flint

Wildstorm $2.99

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The situation gets more hectic and the intensity grows as Michael Cray, ex-Navy Seal and recently reintroduced to society, goes further underground as the government hunts him down like the half dozen talking dogs he hangs out with.  To be honest, I really like this series, but it can be hard to follow at times.  While reading this issue I kept thinking that I need to re-read the entire series to get a grip on the complicated story.  Cray is rescued from Afghanistan, where he was a prisoner of war, but the government seems to have been trying to kill him ever since he got back, but the reason hasn’t been clear at all.  It now seems that Cray is being set up to take the fall for the murder of an important scientist.

I liked the story, which Azzarello is great at advancing at a moderate pace, and the art is really well-suited for the gritty, sewer dwelling kind of person Mike has becoming since going underground, but my favorite part of this issue was the “terror spreaders” terrorism hotline, which epitomized everything that is retarded and hilariously stupid about America for me.  1-800-fite-4-us  God, that’s great.

09
Aug
07

Midnighter #10

Written by Keith Giffen

Art by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story and Randy Mayor

Wildstorm $2.99
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Well, that was a pleasant and immediate change. In a single issue Chris Sprouse takes Midnighter from being a one shot, non-continuity-having, globe-trotting, uncaring superhero comic book to what looks to be an arc about Midnighter developing an alter ego and his stay in an insane, dangerous patriotic American town. FUCKING AWESOME. I was seriously just about to stop reading because I didn’t feel like the comic had done anything worthwhile in the near year that it’s been out. I’m actually really excited now.

I felt like I should keep reading, if nothing more than to support one of the only gay superheroes in comic books, but with all of the one shot, self-contained stories, I didn’t feel like it was really worth three dollars to see these little action stories with cute dialog about a teleporting tough guy. But the idea of establishing a secret identity? Now that’s interesting and I don’t think I’ve seen it done. Many comic book-based movies have done the opposite, where they show the viewer how the person who has attained new abilities develops a superhero persona, but not the other way around. Because of this new angle, we get to learn answers to questions I’ve been asking about Midnighter since the first issue. Like, who the fuck is this guy, where he’d come from, does he like toast? And things of that nature.

In this issue we learn he has a daughter, which is interesting since he’s gay, but no real information is divulged about her othre than the fact that she hates that his life is so secretive and she generally seems to have a poor relationship with him. Another thing we learn is that at some point the guy Midnighter used to be was erased, after the government programmed him. While you could easily say that this is going the Wolverine route, I really don’t think they’ll be doing that, though I would be happy to see him fight against some government scientists and politicians who may have stolen his life from him. In addition to all of this, it is revealed that he has some sort of secretary, though she doesn’t know much about him and isn’t privy to private, classified information, though she passes paperwork and what not on to him.

I’m actually really excited about this.

06
Aug
07

Welcome to Tranquility #9

Written by Gail Simone

Art by Neil Googe, Carrie Strachan, Francisco Paronzini and Leandro Fernandez

Wildstorm $2.99

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I think I know what’s coming, and if I’m right, this is going to made of non-stop win. Gail Simone is the writer for both Gen13 and Tranquility and in a move that surprised me, she had the kids from Gen13 seek refuge in the town of Tranquility. I just figured that some characters might interact and maybe she’d do some crossover issues a few times, then move it along, but something much better has been playing out in the last three or four issues of the combined series. The gen-active kids show up in town right as Freddie Host, who acts like some sort of lawyer-looking seed of the devil, shows up in Tranquility looking for debts he’s owed by the senior citizens of Tranquility. He even kills Zeke’s snake.

In the meantime, which is likely not to be a coincidence, the dead start coming back to life in town. Agents of the devil can have that effect on grandpa Tom sometimes. This is interesting, not just the zombie idea, but the concept that this guy that works for the devil gave a whole bunch of people superpowers and said he’d come to collect a debt some time. Decades go by and these people are now sixty and seventy years old, they can’t fight back anymore, and he shows up to collect. And he brings zombies. And the Gen13 kids just happen to be in town. I’m actually really fucking excited about what’s going to play out over the summer. Last month I thought the origins of Zeke the zombie and Tommy’s past were okay, but served as filler, but now this is all starting to connect. Simone’s first Tranquility arc was a murder mystery that went into character observations and gave us a great little sketch of this community for super-powered senior citizens. Now she seems to be building a zombie epidemic caused by the devil(a plot that is virtually never used in zombie movies, in fact, they usually never say why the zombies are there), it’s going to be great. It also helps that she’s a fantastic writer.

In addition, we get introduced to the Coyote Kid, an old man who looks like Clint Eastwood and is a perfect shot. And he also happens to have a personal vendetta against zombies. After a few pages the main part of the issue ends and then something from the first arc comes back that I have sorely missed, the vintage back story. Using an old-looking art style and an old comic book feel to the story telling, Simone and a completely different art team from the rest of the issue tell CK’s story and why he’s going to be sticking around for the fight.

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