The Big Con Job #1 (of 4) BOOM! Studios 2015 Created & Written by: Jimmy Palmiotti & Matt Brady Illustrated by: Dominike Stanton Coloured by: Paul Little Reviewer: Steven Leitman Summary: After working the same convention circuit for many years, a group of flabby action heroes, aging sex symbols, and sci-fi bit players have become close friends as they watch their lines get shorter and their autographs get cheaper. That is, until they hire a cocky new booking agent who offers them their only chance at a comfortable retirement by robbing one of the largest cons in the country! Review: Alright, I figured this was going to be fun and well, I was totally right about that! And I’m a huge fan of Jimmy’s so reading this was a no-brainer. I have to say the fact that they use a spoof on Star Trek to tell this story is pretty amazing. Granted this would never have happened to the original cast of characters but there are plenty of similarities. The opening segment where we see a panel at a convention and the episode shown was pretty funny. Making the writing and the dialogue one of those things that makes a reader incredibly happy is a huge draw.
The cast of the old television show is now very old and according to what we see pretty obsolete with their fanbase steadily shrinking and they rely heavily upon selling signatures to make ends meat. Danny Dean was Buck Blaster the dashing handsome lead who always got the girl, nowadays he’s a frumpy old man who can’t even afford to pay for his groceries. It gets a little heavy and deep for a bit with what Danny goes through here.
Then there’s Poach, he played the science officer on the show, and his story isn’t all that different than Danny’s. Okay it’s a lot different but for him just as traumatic. When Danny comes to stay with Poach is when I think you see a swing in how this book is going to go. The sadness we see kind of ends in a roundabout manner. What happens next is like a comedy of errors. There’s a real delight in seeing the troubles that seem to keep finding them. With a shady manager willing to try to shaft them what they were promised until a benefactor comes to their rescue. Of course we all know that when something seems to good to be true it usually isn’t and there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Then when we learn about Tony King’s motivations for his actions, it’s then as a reader I can see where all the humor I was expecting will come from.
When you read this book, and you will, you’ll see what it’s like to overcome the tragedy to reach the point where it turns to humor and you realize the genius it takes to do this. The way this story is crafted, told, and executed is so much more than you can ever have realized it would be. There’s a complexity and depth here where you find yourself wrapped up in what’s happening and you find a connection with the characters and want them to have a better life than they are having.
This is a rare treat, it’s unexpected and completely enthralling. While I’m not always as enamoured with the interior artwork it has its moments where it’s fun, whimsical, and keeps even the darker moments lighthearted. As I write this I happen to be on page 23 and there’s a shot of Tony’s face that looks completely unrealistic unless it’s an impressionist depiction. It’s just so unproportionate that it’s too odd to take seriously.
Regardless this whole thing is a wonderful experience and demonstrates great range in writing and characterization and is a welcome diversion to the usual darker fare we get in comics today.
The Woods #11 BOOM! Studios 2014 Created & Written by: James Tynion IV Illustrated by: Michael Dialynas Coloured by: Josan Gonzalez Reviewer: Steven Leitman
Summary: Sanami and the Hunters finally reach the school and see the complete state of chaos that has been spawning since their arrival to the planet. Back at New London, Adrian has finally made his arrival. With the army gone, nothing stands in the way of him and the black stone…
Review: There’s such a richness in this story from 200 years ago when the last time a person had the kind of control and knowledge that Adrian is currently struggling with. How society at that time was almost destroyed when Lydia lost control. How the past parallel's the present and the whole idea that history repeats itself comes so strongly into play.
The relationships these kids are forming now are amazingly portrayed. As Ben and Isaac talk on the roof and what’s revealed is sweet, charming, and full of promise and then Adrian returns to take Isaac with him. Again we all know the kind of kid Adrian is and we’ve seen what his mother did to ensure that their friendship endured. But it’s more touching and confusing for Isaac now that Adrian has this need, a desire to know why Isaac was his friend, what he saw in him that he never gave up on. It’s this idea that friendship and love do play factors in the decisions we make and how we can retain who we are through the harshest of times.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up with the wanderers and those in New London we forget about those still left at the school. Maria is doing her best to help contribute to keeping things running well and creating a new society, surprisingly democrat in nature. She proves she’s a smart girl using the resources at hand to effectively hunt and find food for them to eat. With the silliness of Ken wanting to put on a play/musical to, so even if it’s only temporary they can forget the horror they are facing. It all unfolds with this spectacular sense of realism.
I’m excited that all the different factors seem to be finally converging for a change. The Coach is leading an army to the school to kidnap and imprison everyone left there, Sanami and Calder have reached the school with a plan to keep everyone there from falling victim to the ensuing attack and well, then there’s what Adrian is planning on doing back in the city. It seems that all the players are in place and that we are finally going to see things start to come to a head.
James has managed to take this idea and make into this amazingly well crafted story that encompasses an entire world and people from different times and places to make a book that combines the best of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. There’s times that are full of awe and wonder, self discovery and growth mixed with the struggle for survival and facing forces that would cower most of us. It’s so full of life and experience and it truly is an award winning story.
Michael manages to bring the words to life with such ease and keeps the awe and wonder alive as we experience their emotions and the wildlife and the flashbacks. His work manages to enhance to complete the story in ways that keep the reader glued to the page. With Josan providing some masterful colouring the look, tone, and feel of this book makes the imagination come alive.
Fiction Squad #6 BOOM! Studios Written by: Paul Jenkins Illustrated by: Ramon Bachs Colors by: Leonardo Paciarotti Letters by: Jim Campbell Reviewer: Rob Wrecks
Summary: Final issue! As the fabric of reality tears apart, Frankie and Simon must confront the man responsible as his master plan for dominance threatens storytelling itself. Unfortunately, with an army of characters from every which genre at his disposal and unlimited power at his fingertips, this bad guy isn’t going down without a fight.
Review: Alas, Fiction Squad has come to its final conclusion. Meaning its finished, kaput, the end, etcera. Off to join the fabled halls of History of completed stories that generations will be able to look back upon and marvel at its sheer brilliance. And quite frankly it makes me want to fall to my knees, spread my arms wide, look upwards and wail my little heart out. But I won't do that here, no sir. Instead, I'm going to rave in a positive way about this finishing piece to what Mr. Jenkins has wonderfully created here within this 6 issue series. Perhaps he'll return to the story someday? Who knows but only him. I have to say that if the writer of Mack's little story had even realized what would happen with Jack the Ripper, he likely wouldn't have even started it. As this guy was pretty much dead set on messing up everything. Though I must say that Bachs and Paciarotti definitely managed to make King Jack's looks darn creepy!
Which actually helps to make him look like the perfect bad guy for this story. And while his egg isn't completely scrambled, its at least pretty gosh darn close to being that way! Also, is it just me? Or is there really a Xenomorph who is somehow named Jack that's included with all the Jacks in one panel during this?
I'm liking how the use of the term 'down the rabbit hole' comes into play during this issue. And if there are older tunnels that even Snow White and the Dwarves don't know a great deal about, you really got to wonder just who or what may have been there before any of the Story characters were there. That would be an idea I think would be fantastic to see explored in future stories if Mr. Jenkins does decide to return to this universe. Which hopefully he does.
Again I really felt as though Simple Simon stole the show in this issue. Partly in part due to how the good Detective managed to smartly maneuver him! Although if Mr. Ripper ever comes back for revenge, I could see how both Simple Simon and Detective Mack would be at the top of his hit list. Which hopefully manages to never happen! And while everyone is happy with Mack now, his little decision regarding Simple Simon is likely to get them all sorts of unhappy with him! Though I loved that decision and found it pretty funny. And for those of you who likely may have already read this, you might be in agreement with me on that.
Paul and the whole creative team did a fantastic job here from start to finish. And I definitely look forward to the day they all work together again. Cause there's pure magic in the combination of the group who brought this book to life so wonderfully well. And now, while Mack is off having that picnic. I think I'm gonna go over to a corner and try not to cry over the fact that this story is now finished. But if you haven't gotten the single issues yet, then do be sure to get the trade when its out!
Cluster #2 BOOM! Studios 2015 Written & Lettered by: Ed Brisson Illustrated by: Damian Couceiro Coloured by: Michael Garland Reviewer: Steven Leitman
Summary: Samara and the other prisoners who managed to survive the Pagurani attack on the T-Towers are stranded on the battlefield, but they’ll need to find a way to trust one another before they can hope to find a transport to safety. They just better hope it happens before their Punch clocks hit zero…
Review:Well here we are with the second issue of the series and I've got to say that I have yet to be disappointed. The concept remains interesting and with what is revealed in this issue, it seems that the stakes have never been higher to get off this god forsaken world. I’m also really enjoying the way that some of the characters are being fleshed out, some a little at a time while others more so. With Senator Cabral calling the prison to talk about the Simmons girl who has already volunteered last issue for a disastrous first mission raises problems and questions about just how important she truly is.
Greenwood is nervous even if he doesn’t want to show it, but I love that we get the impression all’s not kosher with what he’s doing. And that with the Simmons girl there his actions will be closely scrutinized if he doesn't play ball. So last issue we learned that the prison wouldn’t send out a rescue party because that is policy and yet here we are seeing how that policy is changed all because of one girl. So there’s mystery here and that it won’t be explained any time soon excites me.
Well our small gang of survivors are making their way back towards the prison and this is a perfect opportunity to get to know them better. I have to say that this group is just electic enough to make things even desirable to read about. With both Samara and Grace in the group, I thought their friendship would continue to grow. But by adding Slarreg to the mix with her hideous exterior and desire for brains well that just ups the interest factor. Halleran too with what we learned about him, I thought 'hey he’s kinda cool'. And his self pity, well that adds something to the whole thing and this need for redemption of sorts. Yeah he’s a cool dude even after what he’s been through.
Okay, I want to learn about the technology they use. Because the fact they were able to scan the area which was littered with dead bodies from both sides to determine these four survivers makes me want more knowledge of what they are capable of. Holograms are pretty standard but there’s more here than we are seeing and I love the science aspect behind it all. And its something that I hope gets more attention.
For a world with a prison on it and the folks that others want dead or gone, for some reason I hadn’t figured it to be fully inhabited. I like that I’ve been surprised to find villages they encounter including what looks like a market. Of course what happens in the market is surprising and at the same time not so much but I would have expected it much later down the road. That so many people seem to know that Samara is on the planet and is valuable is a little alarming and begs for further explanation.
What Damian and Michael are doing here is very nice as well. They get to take this world and populate it with creatures and humanoids that show how their imaginations flourish. Kind of get to be set free and design an entire world showcasing their talent is a rare opportunity. And they are taking full advantage of that and showing they deserve that chance.
This is a good book and I’m excited to see where it’s going to go from here.