GEN13 #50 comes off, at times, as a very good episode of FREAKAZOID. So long as you don't mind being popped out of the very-thin story every other panel for the sake of a broken fourth wall or witticism, it's a good read. Helspont in this issue is a parody of himself, and also a parody of early Image all at the same time. Scott Lobdell throws in another surprising villain to exploit some more self-referencing for the sake of humor. I'm not telling who the villain is for the sake of what little plot there is here, but it was a very interesting and fitting choice. There are also a lot of women tied up, some talking heads, and some action sequences. All in all, it's just another comic book, isn't it? ;-)
There are more artists thrown into this project than I can count, but here's a listing of the pencillers: Ed Benes, Pat Quinn, Scott Benefiel, and Steve Ellis. The art, despite that, remains remarkably consistent through the issue. The best pages in the book are those inked by Scott Williams, so let's hope that he does stick around a little longer, as the editorial in the back hints to.
With RISING STARS #5, the story takes its first major left turn. We've been talking about an interesting murder investigation, but that's hardly what this book is about. I can't go any further without spilling the contents of this story, but suffice it to say that J. Michael Straczynski turns it all on its ear, gives us a neat little twist ending, and sets the direction for the rest of this series all at the same time. If you had given up on RISING STARS because it bored you or because it just seemed blah to you, try this one. If this issue doesn't convince you that BABYLON 5-style storytelling can work in comics, nothing will.
It's just a shame that they haven't found a good artist for the series yet. Keu Cha is a much better artist than his replacement, Christian Zanier.
Oh, and there's a really neat little gimmick effect on the last two pages of the issue, slightly marred only by the fact that one of the pages was printed about a half-inch too low.
BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS #2 does a better job of explaining to a new reader - such as myself-who Batgirl is than did BATGIRL #1. Devin Grayson writes this one, which amounts to a basic "rescue the sinking ship" story. But with this highly dramatic backdrop, Batgirl has to make a large decision concerning her own life. It's very well done. Dale Eaglesham's art looks a little off here - like a combination of Travis Charest's earliest work crossed with a bit of Sean Chen's IRON MAN stuff. Just when you though the style of art with a ton of crosshatching was outdating, here comes Eaglesham.
ROBIN #75 debuts Robin's latest piece of high-tech gadgetry: a skateboard. It's rather odd that just as Night Thrasher finally sheds his skateboard, Chuck Dixon gives Robin his. Has anyone seen the Spider-Man character from about ten years ago that uses a rocket-powered skateboard lately? What was his name? "Rocket Racer"? Now THAT was a lame skateboard character!
Nevertheless, this looks real cool. Robin gets the vehicle he needs for some great Dixon action sequences. I just hope they rethink his kneepads and color them in to match his costume a little better.
Pete Woods is doing an excellent job in drawing this series. I think his stuff works better focused on teenagers, rather than the sociopathic villainy he drew in DEADPOOL.
KIN #1 is a worthy first effort from writer-artist Gary Frank. You've thrilled to his art on THE INCREDIBLE HULK. You've swooned to his impression of SUPERGIRL. And now you get - well, I'm not sure yet. It's definitely in the science-fiction genre. It has some corporate conspiracy going on. It has a couple of vague points that might lead one to believe some super-heroic type stuff might come into being.
Basically, a group named the S.I.A. has discovered that Neanderthal man has lived to this day, unbeknownst to us. His technology in that time might surpass ours. He must be exploited, and his very existence is an affront to our national security. When you need a bad guy, bring in the government or a big company. That always works. Oh, so does some general rich guy. We love hating those, too. The only way it can't be one of those is if the villain has some super powers or insane streak. The sad thing here is that I'm not completely sure which of the three things we're talking about in this book.
The book looks great. Gary Frank is doing some top-notch work here. His choice for colorist is the much-under appreciated Bongotone (Paul Mounts and Ken Wolak). That same team does the coloring for TELLOS, where they work just as many wonders.
But the most interesting part of this book probably comes from the lettering. Like SAM & TWITCH, it doesn't use balloon outlines. Unlike SAM & TWITCH, it still uses balloons. Confused yet? There are word balloons, but without thick black lines surrounding them. The balloon is shown by a color different from the background, but one that is still transparent. It's an interesting effect. My big problem right now with it is that the computer letters look incredibly cheesy. I can't tell if it's because of the balloons they're in, or if it's just a weaker font. The double balloon just below the center of the first page doesn't look too good, for one.
The only other comic that I can think of right now that uses this effect is Astounding Space Thrills. It looks better there, but that might be because of the smaller font.
I do think it's a technique that warrants further experimentation, even if it does give the comic too glossy a feel. What's left to the organic nature of comics anymore?
COMICS SCENE MAGAZINE is back, albeit as COMICS SCENE 2000! (How long before they change the name back to something less trendy?) It was the first comics magazine I started buying on a regular basis when I first started buying comics eleven years ago. I had a couple of letters printed, and even made a few pen pals from it. But the magazine is finally back and looks just like it always did. Same font. Same design sense. Same logo. More stories in the form of "OK, is [insert creator name here] overworked?" (This time, it's Scott Adams, giving an interview before the apparent demise of the excellent, if overlooked, Dilbert television show.)
I read my first interviews with people like Rob Liefeld and Erik Larsen and Peter David and Jim Lee and Paul Dini here. In the pre-Internet explosion days, this is where you went for promo shots of upcoming interesting animated series, like DuckTales, Tiny Toons, Taz-Mania ("Yackity, schmackety, blah blah blah"), Batman: The Animated Series, etc.
It's just as bright, just as glossy, and just as colorful. It's also 100 pages and sports a cover price of $7. Sadly, some things have changed over time. This magazine is well worth it, though. It's scheduled for bi-monthly publication.
Sometimes I wonder how people could possibly take the comics industry silly. Why? Here's a partial listing of books solicited to ship from Diamond this week. (That means my store will get them next week, or you all already got them last week.)
EXPOSURE COMPANION BONDAGE NUDE CVR, INSANE CLOWN POSSE UPZ AND DOWNZ OF WICKED CLOWNZ PREMIUM ED, JADE WARRIORS BONDAGE NUDE CVR
…and we get upset at the stereotypes portrayed on The Simpsons or Friends of comic shop owners and patrons. ::sigh::
Are the Squiddies still active on USENET? I haven't seen any mention of them in any of the comics press yet this year.
In the meantime, the Eagles are back up and running in England. I mention that for two reasons. First, because you can vote for them on-line at