Comic Review: Alterna AnniverSERIES Anthology

Published: September 7th, 2016
Written by: various
Art by: various

Alterna Comics, 431 Pages

Review:

This massive collection features several single issues of different Alterna Comics releases. I felt that this was a good way to get my feet wet with Alterna, as I was able to check out a nice variety of their top books.

This collection includes their character guide and then the first issue of the following series: The Last West, Fubar, Adam Wreck, American Terror, The Deadbeat, Novo and The Chair.

I also wanted to give this a shot because the company seems to be very much on the side of Comicsgate and wants to put out quality books that don’t push any sort of deliberate social or political agenda. They just want to entertain. At the same time, the comics are made by their own creators, who have the free reign to control their own content.

This was certainly a good collection to get one into Alterna and the diversity of what they offer. While none of the stories here blew my mind, they were all still pretty engaging and I didn’t find anything to be boring or all that derivative.

The stories that stuck out to me most were The Last West, The Deadbeat and The Chair. I also found Novo interesting and have a few more issues that I plan to delve into.

I also read the first issue of Metaphase, as I have a copy. I wish they would have included that here, as it really peaked my interest and was one of the better finds I’ve come across in Alterna’s library.

I’ll be honest, some of the art isn’t able to compete with the top tier talent at DC and Marvel but there is certainly more diversity in art styles and the visual approach in some of these books is pretty creative and unique. I thought The Last West looked fantastic, for the record.

If you are board with comics from the big two or are sick of being preached to, than this might be something you want to check out.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Other Alterna Comics releases.

Comic Review: Rags, Issues #0 – #2

Published: 2018
Written by: Brian Ball, Trent Luther
Art by: Luigi Terguel, Capucine Drapala

self-published, 60 Pages

Review:

I have supported a lot of the recent crowd funding comic book projects that have been coming out. Especially, the Comicsgate titles that have been popping up on Indiegogo. This isn’t one of those Indiegogo comics, however. This one was put out after raising money through Patreon. But the creators are still a part of the Comicsgate movement, as they have been in support of the other projects and also been supported by the Comicsgate community that are just dying for something new in the medium.

Usually, I wouldn’t review something with less than a handful of issues but as this Comicsgate stuff is about to start arriving in people’s mailboxes, I wanted to get a jump start on this massive wave and throw a light on the Rags team, who have already put out two full length issues and a shorter prologue. They’re ahead of the game and the trend, so I’d like to give them the first review for a Comicsgate related title.

Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough of a story to really sink your teeth into and to get a feel as to where this is going. That being said, I still really enjoy the first three chapters in this ongoing series.

In a lot of ways, at least right now in the earliest stages, Rags has a very similar feel to The Walking Dead. However, it’s not a blatant ripoff of that and frankly, The Walking Dead isn’t wholly original anyway. Both of these are zombie stories. People love zombie stories. While I think they’ve been done to death, I’m still on board if the story is there and it isn’t just zombies for the sake of zombies.

Rags has an interesting protagonist, assuming she’s a protagonist, we still don’t know her well enough yet. She is an ex-Marine but she is also a headcase. She has lived through some fucked up shit before the zombie apocalypse and her current situation is triggering a lot of those old memories and feelings. Plus, she sees someone she loves eaten in front of her.

When we meet her, she’s running around town butt naked. This is an adult comic due to the boobies and other jiggly bits but they do offer a censored version too.

If I were to compare this to The Walking Dead, sorry, it’s hard not to, I prefer this series from a visual standpoint. Not because of the boobies, but they are a nice touch, but I like the art style, the coloring and it’s livelier than those simple black and white issues Robert Kirkman pumps out every month.

Tonally, this reminds me more of George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead, as opposed to The Walking Dead. I’m a massive fan of that movie and not just because it was filmed in my area. But because of that, I can’t not be drawn to it.

I hope that more issues come out pretty regularly because I’ll support them. So far, I’m happy with the series and am genuinely interested with where this could go and what will make it unique and able to stand out from all the other zombie properties in the market.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: The Walking Dead and hopefully, future issues of Rags.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 2

Published: March 4th, 2009 (IDW reprint version)
Written by: Larry Hama, Steven Grant
Art by: Geof Isherwood, Mike Vosburg
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 235 Pages

Review:

While I liked the first volume of these collected editions, this is where the style of Larry Hama’s classic era G.I. Joe legacy really kicks things into high gear.

The main takeaway from this is that it starts to get away from episodic feeling single issues and becomes a more fluid larger story arc. This is where the saga really begins to grow and how it evolves into something more solid than the awesome Sunbow/Marvel cartoon series.

This is also where Destro and Major Bludd come into the franchise. Both characters are great in this and have more depth than their cartoon counterparts. Bludd was just sort of a loud, crass, on field commander that was quick to retreat in the cartoons. Here, he is a bit of a badass and his distaste for Destro is very apparent.

Also, we get our first glimpse into the passionate relationship between Destro and the Baroness and how it creates problems for the Baroness and her relationship with Cobra Commander and her place in his organization.

We also get two characters I loved from the comics: Dr. Venom and Scar-face. Neither of them had toys or appeared in the cartoon but they were cool, dynamic characters in the comic series with more character development than most characters got in the television show.

There is also a significant amount of time for Snake Eyes to shine here. He appears in the first collected edition but was mostly just there to look cool. Here, we really get to know him and see how he is probably the most vital single member of the G.I. Joe team.

Another thing about this series of issues, is that you witness death for the first time in the G.I. Joe franchise. Unlike the cartoon, many characters don’t survive in the comics. It goes to show that no one is actually safe and that this take on the franchise has more gravitas and the weight of these characters’ actions can have mortal consequences.

All in all, this is a really good installment in the classic G.I. Joe comics run. This is where the series found its footing and started taking real risks.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.

Film Review: Jonah Hex (2010)

Release Date: June 17th, 2010 (Hollywood premiere)
Directed by: Jimmy Hayward
Written by: Neveldine/Taylor, William Farmer
Based on: Jonah Hex by John Albano, Tony Dezuniga
Music by: Marco Beltrami, Mastodon
Cast: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett, Michael Shannon, Wes Bentley, Aidan Quinn, Lance Reddick, Tom Wopat, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

DC Comics, Legendary Pictures, Mad Chance, Weed Road Pictures, Warner Bros., 81 Minutes

Review:

“War and me took to each other real well. It felt like it had meaning. The feeling of doing what you thought was right. But it wasn’t. Folks can believe what they like, but eventually a man’s gotta decide if he’s gonna do what’s right. That choice cost me more than I bargained for.” – Jonah Hex

This has a measly 4.7 rating on IMDb. I’m calling bullshit on that. This is not as bad as a 4.7 would imply but I’ll get into why.

This film came out, it didn’t look exciting, it didn’t generate the right kind of buzz and it just sort of fizzled out immediately. To be honest, I didn’t support its theatrical run and sort of forgot about it until a friend and I were talking about Josh Brolin and his multiple comic book roles. So I figured that I’d check it out, eight years later.

What I didn’t know, at the time, is that this thing has a pretty stacked cast. Not only do you have Brolin and Megan Fox, probably the hottest starlet circa 2010, but you also have John Malkovich, Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett, Michael Shannon, Wes Bentley, Aidan Quinn, Lance Reddick, Tom Wopat and an uncredited Jeffrey Dean Morgan. This is a movie full of manly men with talent.

There is a lot working for this movie but there is also a lot working against it, which is why it wasn’t successful. Well, and the trailers made it look goofier than it actually was.

The biggest problem with this picture is running time. Now I have to assume that this fell victim to producer meddling, being behind schedule or a writers’ strike. Reason being, this film should not have been just 81 minutes. It feels like there is a half hour missing from the movie and there probably is. Maybe a lot of scenes came out so bad that they got cut and this is the only way they could have salvaged the film. Whatever the reason, this picture lacks character development, story development and any real emotional weight or deeper context.

That aside, however, this is a balls to the wall action fest with some cool ideas and the kernel of something that could have been really damn good had it been managed much better.

Brolin was good as Hex. Fox was incredibly hot as the eye candy, which is all she needs to be. Malkovich was a formidable villain but just didn’t have the time to properly shine and the same goes for Fassbender, really.

Ultimately, this felt like a completely wasted opportunity. It had some very good pieces but the puzzle was left unfinished with most of the pieces hammered into the wrong place.

I still think that there is more going right for this film than wrong and I can’t give it a rating below a 5 out of 10. The film just feels unfinished and I wish they would have spent the time to work out the noticeable kinks and given us something more worthy of this film’s roster of onscreen talent.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: Other sci-fi/comic book/western hybrids: Cowboys & AliensWild Wild West and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. Also, the Jonah Hex episodes of Legends of Tomorrow.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 1

Published: December 31st, 2008 (IDW reprint version)
Written by: Larry Hama, Steven Grant, Herb Trimpe
Art by: Don Perlin, Herb Trimpe, Mike Vosburg
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 238 Pages

Review:

This is the first in a series of collected volumes that are reprints of the original Marvel Comics run on the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero franchise. These are the tales that started it all and introduced people to these characters from one of the best-selling toy lines of all-time.

This series is written by Larry Hama, the man who really is the original author of G.I. Joe and who established everything that people have come to know about the franchise and its characters. While he didn’t work on the popular cartoon, it was Hama who developed the characters’ personas and who set the tone and style of the series.

G.I. Joe was originally developed by Hama to be a series for Marvel that followed the son of Nick Fury, a team of commandos and their war against Hydra. Marvel rejected the idea but when Hasbro came knocking, looking for a comic book series to tie into their toy line, Hama resurrected his idea and retrofitted the commandos into the G.I. Joe team and Cobra became the replacement for Hydra.

This volume collects issues 1 through 10. At this point, G.I. Joe hadn’t evolved into a saga like it would become. These earliest issues were more like the cartoon, one-off stories that stood on their own without having to really read the stuff before or after. As the series rolled on, story arcs got longer, the mythos expanded and most issues were connected to a larger narrative.

While I prefer the series when it gets broader and tells larger tales, these early issues are still great.

However, there is one real highlight with this and it is the two-parter that introduces us to the October Guard (or Oktober Guard, as it would later be spelled). They are the Soviet equivalent to the G.I. Joe team and while things start out rocky between the two groups, they look past Cold War drama and work together to fight Cobra. Other than this quick two-parter though, everything else was single issue stories.

I do like that the earliest stuff uses Stalker a lot, as he is one of my favorite G.I. Joe characters. The Joe team is pretty small here though, as is Cobra. In fact, the only named members of Cobra in these first ten issues are Cobra Commander (who is not a coward like in the cartoon) and the Baroness.

These earliest stories were fun to relive but the series gets better as it finds its footing, establishes some new ideas and new characters and evolves away from simple, one issue storytelling.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.

Comic Review: Danger Girl/G.I. Joe

Published: March 6th, 2013
Written by: Andy Hartnell
Art by: J. Scott Campbell, John Royle
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro, Danger Girl by J. Scott Campbell, Andy Hartnel

IDW Publishing, 120 Pages

Review:

If you have been following this site for awhile, it’s no secret that I’m a big G.I. Joe fan. However, I’ve never read a Danger Girl comic, even though I’ve liked J. Scott Campbell’s work for awhile and the series does look interesting and something that would be my cup of tea. So I figured that my introduction to the series could come through this crossover.

Anyway, being introduced to Danger Girl has made me want to delve deeper and read some of the original comics that came out in the late ’90s.

This crossover was entertaining and most importantly, a lot of fun.

I liked that this found a way to wedge a lot of great G.I. Joe stuff into a five issue comic book arc while leaving enough room for the Danger Girl characters to be featured as well.

You had most of the core old school G.I. Joe characters in this, as well as just about every officer from Cobra minus Scrap Iron. On the Cobra side you got Cobra Commander, Destro, the Baroness, Major Bludd, Zartan, Zarana, Firefly and Storm Shadow: basically, all the officers or key members from the first season of the cartoon – plus Zarana, who came in at the second season.

I haven’t read any Danger Girl, so I can’t say whether or not this crossover does that universe justice but it handled the G.I. Joe stuff really well.

Overall, a good, fun and quick read with a lot of action and characters you love.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: Earlier IDW G.I. Joe stuff and Danger Girl.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: Infestation 2

Published: March 14th, 2012
Written by: Mike Raicht
Art by: Valentino De Landro, John Rauch
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 53 Pages

Review:

I read the first G.I. Joe: Infestation story not too long ago and reviewed it. It was okay but a bit weird and didn’t seem to have much of a point. The original one was a mega crossover event with other properties that saw them all fighting zombies. This version is pretty much the same thing but instead of zombies, we get a Lovecraftian horror twist.

But like the original, this one was kind of fun but also seemed pretty pointless.

Maybe I need to read the entire Infestation runs but I’m just not interested in most of the other franchises in these crossovers other than TransformersGhostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I don’t care so much for IDW’s own original franchises and how they’re tied in. There are also tie ins to 30 Days of Night and Dungeons & Dragons but I don’t care about either of those. Well, unless the D&D book followed the characters from the ’80s cartoon but it doesn’t, it’s just generic D&D stuff.

Like the first Infestation, this one spends some time with the Baroness. But we also get some action from Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes, which immediately makes this a bit cooler than its predecessor.

The problem with the Infestation series of books, is that they’re just too short. Maybe it all works better from a narrative standpoint if you read them all but I’d rather just have a more fleshed out G.I. Joe take on H.P. Lovecraft.

This isn’t a waste of time but it also isn’t a must read. It also isn’t necessary if you are trying to read through IDW’s core G.I. Joe stuff, as I recently did. It’s a stand alone story that isn’t specifically tied into anything in the IDW G.I. Joe canon.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: Other releases in IDW’s multi-franchise Infestation and Infestation 2 crossovers.