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Robot reviews: Spin-offs aplenty

[caption id="attachment_33013" align="alignright" width="196" caption="Army of Two #1"]

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Army of Two #1 by Peter Milligan, Dexter Soy and Jose Marzan Jr.IDW, $3.99.

I've read great Peter Milligan comics and I've read horrible Peter Milligan comics. This, however, falls in neither category. That's because this could have been written by anybody. There's nothing unique or interesting about it. It betrays none of Milligan's stylistic quirks or themes, and the art by Soy and Marzan merely serves to underscore how thoroughly and depressingly inane this spin-off of a somewhat popular video game franchise is. I suppose there's the off chance this is intended to be some sort of satire, but if so it misses the mark sharply, not to mention the fact that others (most notably Kyle Baker) have done that sort of thing better. No, there's no nice way to say it: This is hackwork, pure and simple, from someone who is capable of much, much better, and the fact that it's a tie-in product to a video game doesn't really excuse its shabbiness.

More reviews after the jump ...

[caption id="attachment_33014" align="alignright" width="198" caption="Weekly World News #1"]

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Weekly World News #1by Chris Ryall, Alan Robinson and Tom SmithIDW, $3.99

Here's the thing about the Weekly World News: In its hey day, say circa 1983 or so, people actually thought the stories inside were true. Not everyone naturally, but certainly a good enough and gullible enough portion of blue-haired old ladies believed that someone saw Jesus in their toast or that John Lennon came back as a bird. I remember one of my grandmother's caretakers leaving copies around her home, and she didn't have much of a sense of humor. Even those who recognized how ridiculous the whole thing was weren't sure if the paper's editors had their tongues planted firmly in cheek or not.

Now that we know the whole thing was a put-on -- that there was no Ed Anger, that it was intentionally satirical (at least some of the time) -- a lot of the frisson that made WWN so interesting has evaporated. The joke's kind of gone stale at this point, and Ryall and Robinson don't really bring anything new to the game to make this comic spin-off seem any fresher. Certainly, making jokes about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Dick Cheney's shooting habits aren't going to win you any points for timeliness in 2010. Perhaps the worst thing about WWN #1 is it simply isn't weird enough. It feels all too familiar, and rather dull to boot.

[caption id="attachment_33016" align="alignright" width="191" caption="The Talisman #1"]

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The Talisman #1-3Adapted by Robin Furth, Tony Shasteen and Nei RuffinoDel Rey, $3.99 each

There are two kinds of adaptations. The first involves an attempt by an artist or artists to take an established work and attempt to translate it into another medium in order to wrestle with its themes, present the work in a fresh light and perhaps help the original find a new audience. Even when the adaptation doesn't work, the care and effort can usually be seen.

The second involves an attempt at a quick cash-grab, with the owners of a particular property attempting to rush a new version of it out into whatever format is hawt right now, be it comics or video games or whatever, with little regard for what made the original work so well and how best to translate it into a completely different medium. The end result almost always comes off as sloppy, stiff, occasionally confusing and completely unable to stand up on its own two feet.

Now, which category do you think The Talisman falls into? I'll give you a hint: It's not the first.

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