Thursday, October 25, 2007

Four Color Fiend: Quick Comic Reviews

The headline doesn’t need explaining for folks who have been around for a while. I’ll only say that posts with that title will generally cover several reviews at once. They will also be filled with the usual Spoilers where I give away every plot and surprise that I can.









DC Countdown #29-28 – I find that I’m almost agreeing with the guys over on Pulp Secret on this title. Yawwwwwwn!!! It really is beginning to grow tiresome, not to say confusing with no resolution in sight. If anything more plot threads are left dangling with each issue, as characters are introduced (sometimes identified, other times not) and then be killed or otherwise disappear from the story.

This time around The Jokester from the Crime Syndicate’s world is killed off, just after discovering that it was his daughter (known on our world as the Joker’s Daughter) had been killed previously. We also have Monarch show up with Forerunner, on the world ruled by Lord Havok and his super-powered group The Extremists. Donna Troy, Jason Todd, Kyle Raynor and Bob the Monitor, along with The Jokester, had transported to this world earlier where they had been captured and tortured. At the end of #28, Forerunner holds an unconscious Donna in her arms while Monarch offers Lord Havok the opportunity to join him or else.

Back on Earth-One Jimmy Olsen, has fled Project Cadmus, joined up with the Newsboy Legion and then been captured by Forager. If you don’t follow any of this, don’t feel bad. You either have had to been reading the DCU for years or been familiar with Jack Kirby’s classic Fourth World series of books. It remains amazing that DC continues to ring stories and plots from books that according to the then Powers That Were didn’t sell well enough to continue.

Anyway, Forager (the female one) has been sent by New Genesis to investigate the deaths of the New Gods. Since that particular story is going to be forthcoming in a mini-series by that very name we will skip any further comment. Although it should be noted that writer/artist John Byrne has all but forbidden folks over on his forum/message board from talking about that series.

In another couple of weeks Countdown will change its title to “Countdown to Final Crisis”, leaving no question that this story will not so much end as stop dead in its tracks and continue next year.

Sergio Aragones Groo 25th Anniversary Special – It’s hard to believe that Aragones & Co. have been turning out the adventures of the World’s dumbest barbarian for this long. It’s more amazing that they continue to make the book so entertaining that folks still wait eagerly for every one-shot and mini-series.

If you don’t know, Groo was created as sort of a spoof of Conan. He is an amazing swordsman who wanders his world in search of battles or at least somebody willing to feed him for doing something, usually deadly or brave. Did I mention that Groo was dumb? If it wasn’t for the fact that he was so deadly with his weapons it’s hard to imagine anything simple enough for Groo to do that would keep him fed.

Groo, besides being dumb, is also very kind hearted and even generous if it doesn’t involve giving away his current meal. Traveling with his faithful, and much smarter, dog Rufferto he constantly discovers new ways to destroy anything in his path, always seeming to do the right thing despite himself.

This particular book has two Groo adventures, one with an adult Groo and the other dealing with an event from his childhood, featuring his conniving grandmother. It also contains the Groo Alphabet, which re-introduces many of the reoccurring characters that have appeared in the series since it began. Many of these characters have discovered that Groo is dumb.

(I recommend both the Wikipedia article on Groo and heading over to Mark Evanier’s site where on his Front Page you’ll find a link to even more information on the character.)

Marvel Zombies 2 - I don’t remember the last Marvel comic I bought, but I think it may have been the last issue of THUNDERBOLTS before it switched to some silly thing about super-powered wrestlers. The last title from Marvel that I recall reading was a thin pamphlet from Free Comics Day promoting the then up-coming “House of M”, so you can figure out when that was.

Despite all the talk on fan sites about CIVIL WAR and WORLD WAR HULK, it probably comes as a surprise (or not, depending on how well you know me) that the very first Marvel comic I buy is the second part of the very dark, yet amusing to a degree MARVEL ZOMBIES. No, it’s not a story about X-Men fans at San Diego! It really is about our favorite undead creatures. Think George Romero doing SUPER-FRIENDS.

In an alternate universe a cosmic event begins to transform Marvel heroes and villains into flesh eating zombies. It is bad enough when you have regular undead folks running around trying to eat your brain, but when they can swing from webbing, grow to gigantic size and have gamma-induced strength you know it is going to get really bad.

At the end of the first series, a group of Zombies (you can spot some of them in the picture reproduced above) devour first the Silver Surfer and then Galactus. Since this transfers some of their cosmic power to each of them (Hey, I’m not Reed Richards! I can’t explain it, okay?), they decide to eat their way across the universe. As the new series begins they realize they have eaten everything there was to consume and not being able to devour each other they need to find a new food source. Fortunately for them, if not for other folks, they remember a device capable of transporting them to other universes where food is still plentiful.

This was actually fun and I’m trying to fill myself in on the whole Marvel Zombie books and tie-ins via Wikipedia and other sites. Writer Robert Kirkman brings just enough humor into the book to keep it from getting too heavy. Artist Sean Philips’ art is particularly creepy to make things scary, but not overly so. My only complaint is that the coloring in some spots does make it hard to tell what is going on. I know this is a horror story, but I'd still like to see what it going on!
I would not recommend this for readers under 16 yrs old, or people offended by guys with their intestines hanging out or having them eaten. There also seem to be zombie good guys, but I guess that’s a matter of degree.
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