Community Nooch's Comic Reviews

Playing catch-up

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I've been trying to play catch up, as I've been behind on reading my books. I'm a maybe a total of 4-5 weeks behind, which is quite a bit since I usually pick ~35 titles every week. I've picked out a few of my recent faves for this edition.

Marvel Zombies Return #2
by David Wellington & Andrea Mutti
Published by Marvel

This title started off really strong. It's actually the 5th mini-series in the line (plus a crossover with Army of Darkness). The first one was written by Robert Kirkman (writer of The Walking Dead, Invincible, The Astounding Wolf-Man, Ultimate X-Men) and was a good time. Basic premise: some zombie virus comes to an alternate Earth. The super-heroes get infected and eat everyone else on the planet. The troubles start when there's no one left to eat. Since then, they've been trying to get to other planets and/or dimensions to find more food. They even ate Galactus at one point, and that still wasn't enough.

Unfortunately, none of the follow-up series have really been as good as the first one. This latest addition is better, though. It's kind of going back to the spirit of the first one, where it understands what it is, and isn't trying to be something more. It's about super-hero zombies. When I hear that premise, I'm expecting full camp, including lots of gratuitous gore and snappy one-liners like "You hungry? Well, EAT THIS! " There's plenty of all that here, so it's just a fun read. Don't expect this to dramatically shape the next decade of your life. Just expect a few chuckles and maybe a slight loss of appetite and you should be good.

Who should read this book:
People who are going to see Zombieland.
People who are familiar with iconic Marvel covers.
People who are shock troopers that drop from orbit.

Ultimate Avengers #2
The Next Generation by Mark Millar and Carlos Pacheco
Published by Marvel

The Ultimate Marvel Universe needs some explaining. The Ultimate project was launched in 2000 with Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men. The Ultimates was launched shortly after, and Ultimate Fantastic Four after that. The project came about when Marvel realized they needed to attract new readers. They realized that it's tough to get new readers when you have 40+ years of continuity already built up, including alternate dimensions, time-traveling alternate futures, magical realms, and thousands of characters, each with their own history. They developed the Ultimate universe to be free of all that. It was a fresh start, so that you could pick up issue #1 and be all caught up. It was literally a new beginning. Instead of just trying to tell the same stories again, the writers involved had creative freedom to go in completely different directions with everything. Yes, Spider-Man still sticks to walls and shoots webs. The basics are still there, but everything else is fair game.

The problem is, that was almost 10 years ago. The premise was great at the time, but if someone wanted to get in on it now, there's still 10 years of background info that you have to get. Solution? Destroy everything and start over again. The "destroy everything part came in the form of Ultimatum - an event that spanned across all Ultimate books. Magneto pulled some crazy attack that killed a ton of people. Fast forward a few months, and we have new number 1 issues. That's where we are again. Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate Avengers #1 just came out last month, and they are perfect jumping-on points for new readers. It's all fresh new stories. Yes, the stuff that happened in the previous Ultimate comics still happened, but you don't need to have read them all to get into these. In Ultimate Avengers, we have a new villain in the form of Red Skull. We've never seen him in the Ultimate universe, and the new origin they've developed for him is pretty crazy IMHO. Check it out, lots of action, good character development, and terribly beautiful art from Carlos Pacheco.

Who should read this book:
People who want to get into "mainstream books" but have been intimidated.
People who like blockbuster action movies.
People who were frozen in a block of ice at the end of WWII, but have since been revived.

The Unwritten #5
How the Whale Became by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
Published by DC Comics under the Vertigo imprint

The Unwritten is a title that I'm particularly fond of, but I realize that it's not for everyone. I absolutely believe in the power of words, and literature in particular. While studying for my English degree in college, we often talked about how the written word can literally shape nations. Texts like Mein Kampf and Raisin in the Sun have influenced people's beings right down to the core. People have been taught to love and hate from the plays of Shakespeare. Greek mythology has taught us lessons about civilization, warfare, governance, deceipt, and so much more. Even in modern times, something so mundane as a 14-character tweet can be a major political influence (remember #iranelection?).

The Unwritten takes that basic premise and builds around it. Mike Carey has created a world where authors are the true architects of society. The first four issues of the series have been about Tommy Taylor, a character who is obviously an analog to Harry Potter. However, instead of being just a character in a book, there is a Tommy Taylor in the "real world". But does that Tommy Taylor really exist, or is he only "alive" because the idea of him was written down? In this latest issue, the world is expanded on, where we see that other writers in the past have had similar experiences. We see Rudyard Kipling and Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) being introduced, along with Oscar Wilde.

Like I said, this book isn't for everyone, and I might be partial to it specifically because it references stuff I learned in college. But, if you're looking for a thought-provoking book that's pretty different from other titles you'll find on the shelves, give it a shot.

Who should read this book:
People who are familiar with classic literature.
People who read other Vertigo books.
People who wish Harry Potter was real.

Fall Out Toy Works #1
Tiffany's Blues by Brett Lewis & Sam Basri, based on the ideas and lyrics of Fall Out Boy
Published by Image

This is a book that I was determined to hate, much as in the vein of The Umbrella Academy. Those who read that review know that I didn't want to like it because of it being written and created by the guy from My Chemical Romance. Since I totally fell in love with Umbrella, I decided to give this book a chance, despite the fact that it was created by Fall Out Boy. I don't like any of their music, and really don't understand the appeal.

Much like with Umbrella, I was pleasantly surprised. Now, what's going on here is nowhere near as groundbreaking as that book, but it's good. The premise is some rich reclusive entrepenuer guy hires a down-and-out toymaker to create a cyber (an artificial being) that can love. The characters are all intriguing, and the narrative flows really well. A futuristic society provides the setting, which allows for some really cool images.

That's where I think the real strength of the book lies. Sam Basri's work looks like cel animation on the page. There's obviously a deep anime influence, but the way his pages are laid out is definitely more of a western style. I really need to stop judging comics by their creators, especially if I haven't read their stuff before. I have to be open to the idea that someone might be good at something, even if I don't like the work they do elsewhere. That's like saying that someone can't make good burritos just because I don't like their violin playing. That's just not fair.

Who should read this book:
People who liked Ghost in the Shell.
People who liked Battle Angel Alita.
People who are only living in their bodies... for now.

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Nooch's Comic Reviews

More people should be reading comic books, dammit. As the resident comic book elitist, Nooch has made it his personal quest to get more noobs heading into their own dimly-lit comics dungeon every Wednesday to peruse the vastly under-rated world of sequential art.