Community Nooch's Comic Reviews

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Haunt #1
by Robert Kirkman, Todd McFarlane, Greg Capullo, and Ryan Ottley
Published by Image

I'm always up for a new Robert Kirkman book. Printing a Kirkman book = printing money. The guy has a solid resume with The Walking Dead, Invincible, Marvel Zombies, The Astounding Wolf-Man, the list goes on. So the announcement came a few months back that he would be writing a new book, and I go, "Hey, there's another $2.99 a month I'm going to be giving to Image." But then they announce that it's a project co-created by Todd McFarlane, and I immediately got skeptical. Don't take that the wrong way - I'm a fan of McFarlane's. I think Spawn has been a great read the past few years, but Todd is a busy guy. Only recently has he been really actively involved in that book. He was co-plotting for years while having other writers on the book. Those writers, IMO, all did good jobs, but Todd was working on growing the rest of his empire. I certainly can't fault the guy for that, as I'm into a lot the stuff that has come out of Todd McFarlane Productions.

So with him being tied directly to this book, I'm mostly concerned about how frequently it will be coming out. Kirkman is solid with that. He knows how to meet deadlines, despite the myriad books he's working on at any given time. How this will actually play out, time will tell. I'm hopeful, but cautious.

For this first issue, I'm not particularly impressed overall. We got Greg Capullo (former Spawn artist) on layouts with Ryan Ottley (also works with Kirkman on Invincible) on finished pencils. Basically, that means Capullo will do a basic sketch of how the page will be laid out, then Ottley comes in and finishes the details. Together, it works really well. I can't say a single bad thing about the art in this book. Kirkman and McFarlane have fleshed out some interesting characters, and the pacing is perfect, with the right balance of action scenes and down-tempo stuff.

My biggest complaint is that so far it feels like McFarlane is being derivative... of himself. There's too much a mix of Spawn and his work on Spider-Man. That is, there's a soldier that gets killed, and then someone gets a sentient costume that grants superhuman abilities. The main character even looks a lot like Venom. Going through this first issue, I feel like I've read this story before. If it was just a McFarlane project, I'd be out already. Since Kirkman, Ottley and Capullo are attached, I'm going to stick it out to see where it goes. Kirkman books have this knack of being really awesome right around issue 6 or 7. The first five or so are usually intended to build up the world in which the story will be taking place. Then they just skyrocket in a flurry of WIN that I can't get enough of. Luckily, if you like McFarlane's work but haven't been exposed to any in a while, you'll prolly dig everything about this.

Who should read this book:
People who liked McFarlane's work on Spawn.
People who liked McFarlane's work on Spider-Man.
People who are on a superhero team but don't have superpowers of their own.

Daredevil #501
The Devil's Hand Part One by Andy Diggle and Roberto De La Torre
Published by Marvel

Daredevil has been one of my favorite titles for a long time. I've been looking for a perfect time to throw it in this column to recommend to all you faithful readers. It bears a little history lesson to 'splain how kickass this book is and has been for 10 years. In 1998, Marvel launched their Marvel Knights imprint. Is was intended to take some of their darker characters and have them in stories that reflected their more mature nature. They took Daredevil, Punisher, Black Panther, and The Inhumans, and had Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti develop the creative teams for those books. Those books took second-tier characters and made them so successful that Quesada was shortly after promoted to Editor-In-Chief of Marvel. That was damn near unheard of for a penciler to take such a high editorial role. All of the titles were relaunched with new #1 issues.

I know this is a bold statement, but every single issue of Daredevil that has come out since has been great. Not just really good, or worth the cover price, but great. The first 8-issue arc was written by Kevin Smith (yeah, the Clerks guy, also the source of "Nooch") and drawn by Quesada himself. That creative team was followed by a 7-issue run from David Mack. The next four issues were written by Brian Michael Bendis, then came a run by Bob Gale and Phil Winslade, legends in the industry. Issue #26 brought back Bendis with Alex Maleev. For four years, that duo put out some of the most critically-acclaimed comics of all time. Every issue was a masterpiece in its own right. That made me worried for Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark, who took over at issue #82. How could they possibly keep up with the win-storm that Bendis and Maleev created. Somehow they did. Brubaker's and Lark's stories were wholly their own, but retained the tone, the spirit, the flavor of everything that came before.

After issue #119, Marvel resumed the original numbering at 500, which was Brubaker's and Lark's last issue on the book, with Andy Diggle and Robert De La Torre taking over at #501. Again, the question came up of whether this new team could retain everything good about the book while treading new ground. Kudos to Mr. Diggle and Mr. De La Torre for keeping the Daredevil torch aflame. The story they're telling is great, and everything you need to know going in can be found on the recap page. It's a whole new storyline, so jumping in at this point is ideal. However, I so highly recommend going and picking up every Daredevil trade available, specifically the stuff from 1998 on. This is one title that has consistently proven how powerful and elegant the sequential art format can really be.

Who should read this book:
People who like ninjas.
People who like noir-style comics.
People who can do awesome tricks on a Razor scooter.

Strange Tales #2
various by Peter Bagge, Max Cannon, Jacob Chabot, Jonathan Hickman, R. Kikuo Johnson, Matt Kindt, Tony Millionaire, Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca, and Jhonen Vasquez
Published by Marvel

Wow, that's a lot of people working on one book. Oh, I guess it makes sense because this is an anthology title. Here's how Marvel put it: "...this hotly anticipated three issue anthology showcasing Marvel’s greatest characters re-imagined by the best and brightest talents working in independent comics today. Every issue stars a stunning array of the best, most exciting cartoonists on the planet—showcasing the Marvel Heroes as you’ve never seen them before!"

I'm enjoying this title. I'm not terribly in touch with the indy comics scene, but I am somewhat familiar with it. Actually, that's a little misleading. "Indy" in terms of comics can mean a few different things. Depending on context, that term can mean pretty much anything not published by Marvel or DC (and sometimes Image or Dark Horse). In that sense, I'm very familiar with indy stuff, as I read from damn near every publisher out there - Boom! Studios, IDW, Radical, Top Shelf Fantagraphics, SLG/Amaze Ink, NBM... a whole bunch of others. But there's some material that's considered even smaller press, and is rarely distributed to most comic shops. This is the kind of stuff that you'll see in museums and art shows. That's the stuff that I'm less in touch with, and these are the creators that Marvel selected for this project.

DC actually had a similar project a few years back with the Bizarro Comics anthology and its sequel, Bizarro World. This is great because the claim of "...heroes as you've never seen them before" really applies. Instead of the usual hero v. villain adventures, we see familiar characters in more comedic, or surreal settings. Ex: the offering from Tony Millionaire has Iron Man attacked by an oversized statue of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. From Jacob Chabot (not to be confused with our Jessica Chobot), we get a tale where Ben Grimm, The Thing, grows a Chia-mustache. You don't need to read the first issue to get in on this one, but that one's got some good stuff, too.

Who should read this book:
People who dig independent small-press comics.
People who like that old R. Crumb stuff.
People who get frightened when they hear radio static.

Kill Audio #1
by Claudio Sanchez, Chondra Echert, and Mr. Sheldon (Sheldon Vella)
Published by Boom! Studios

In the vein of The Umbrella Academy from Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) and Fall Out Toy Works from Fall Out Boy, here comes another title created by a guy in the music industry. This time, we get Kill Audio from Claudio Sanchez (Coheed and Cambria). I'm not so much a fan of that band, but I'm not drinking any haterade about it. I haven't really been exposed to too much of their stuff, so I have no basis to judge. I figured I'd pick up this book, though, because these musicians have been on a roll. I vastly underestimated Umbrella Academy, Fall Out Toy Works was a pleasant surprise. Plus, this is the second comic project from Sanchez, the first being Amory Wars published through Image. From what I recall, that received some positive critical response. Also, I have faith in Boom! Studios. With Mark Waid at the helm, it's unlikely that you'll see any fluff coming out of their house. Waid has made it clear in several interviews that their goal is to tell good stories through comics. If they are able to make any other money from it in terms of TV/movie deals, licensing/merchandising, that's all well and good; but they don't want anything to get in the way of telling good stories.

The entire book is done in gray-tone with red highlights by Mr. Sheldon. While I totally dig the style, I don't think the guy has achieved the prominence to just go by Mr. Sheldon. That just comes off as pretentious to me. Not hating on his work, just the choice of moniker. The story, if it can be called that, is out there. We start the first page with anthropomorphic knives throwing knives at our titular character, Kill Audio. One of the supporting characters we get is a hallucinating, coke-addled chicken by the name of Chicken Coke Daddy, Chi-Co for short. With that setting, obviously don't expect a fully coherent, linear tale. You kind of just have to ride it out and buy into where the story takes you.

Who should read this book:
People who listen to Coheed & Cambria.
People who like disproportioned vinyl toys.
People who use their camera as a weapon.

If you haven't heard, breast cancer sucks. To raise awareness and raise some money for the cause, my wife is walking in the Breast Cancer 3-Day in San Diego in November. If you got a couple bucks, TEAM SAVE MY RACK is still accepting donations for a few more weeks. Also, if you're going to be in town that weekend, let me know and we can hook up to cheer on the team.

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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.