THE EMERALD CITY NEEDS YOU! Arcana Comics has been counting down to FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2013, which is TOMORROW! We're ready to kick off the Steam Engines of Oz in style and welcome you to Join the Tin Man's Army! THE STEAM ENGINES OF OZ: JOIN THE TIN MAN'S ARMY!
To celebrate the launch of The Steam Engines of Oz, some creators are making special appearances on FREE COMIC BOOK DAY weekend. Please see below for details.On May 4th: · Galaxy of Comics in Van Nuys, CA (17306 Saticoy St). Sean O'Reilly, co-created of The Steam Engines of Oz and Chris 'Doc' Wyatt will be appearing, AND we are very excited to announce that members of The League of S.T.E.A.M. will also be joining Arcana from 12-2! · So Cal Comics (8280 Clairemont Mesa Blvd #124, San Diego). Erik Hendrix will be doing a signing at So Cal Comics from 10-5! Pick up a signed copy of The Steam Engines of Oz while supply last from the co-creator and writer! · Metropolis Comics and Toys in Bunaby, BC Canada. We have Artist Ana Svarc doing signings and Sketches from noon until 4! Be sure to come down and grab your free preview copy of "The Steam Engines of Oz". And to help promote "The Steam Engines of Oz" There will be a prize for bestSteampunk costume! · The Comic Book Shoppe 1 & The Comic Book Shoppe 2 in Ottowa and Nepean, Ontario. Members from Steampunk Canada and Steampunk Ottawa will be doing a meet and greet and handing out copies of Steam Engines of Oz for Free Comic Book Day! On May 5th:
Train Simulator 2013
By Arthur Nedrow (age 11)
Special guest Arthur Nedrow takes time out to review a train simulator. It might not be a comic but why not take a read!
Train Simulator 2013 is a simulator for….well, trains. The story in this game is non-existent, so I’m going to need to make up a story for this game. You’re a new train conductor, and you need to take your passengers to their stop. That’s the game in a nutshell, but don’t be deceived by the game’s boring premise. This game is very fun to a gamer who likes trains, or if you’re like me and loved trains ever since you were 4, you are going to have a blast with this game.
Now, let’s talk about the gameplay. The beginning is a little….overwhelming. It tells you all most everything at once, and I still can’t remember everything. You might want to take down some notes if you want to remember everything. After a while, you’ll get used to all of the commands and buttons, or if you’re like me, you’ll just press everything until something works. The game likes to throw a lot of things at you and gets tiring really fast, so the game goes down in that department.
The graphics can vary from computer it computer because of graphics card, but the game on mine looks very crisp and clean. The only thing that bugs me in this department is when the games have the trees look like….well, 2-D sprites, but that’s the only thing.
The music, or lack of it, actually fits the mood very well. Yes, there are no sounds but the train sound and the horn (which is addicting, by the way), but the game is supposed to simulate how you drive a train, not have music that’s good. Other than that, the in game sounds sound very realistic and clean.
The content in this game is amazing. It has a track editor, carrier mode, quick mode, achievements and the players’ own work. Hold on: let’s talk about that. The steam workshop is a way for players, like me, to make their own trains and tracks and share them with the world. Plus, there’s DLC for this game, so you can keep coming back for more.
That’s about it for this review. The game’s great, but it has a little bit of trouble of telling you what’s going on. With that said, I give this game a 4/5. It is a great game, but beginners will have a hard time understanding what to press or do.
Ten Grand #1 (Image) 3 ½ stars out of 5
By Mike del Tufo
Joseph Michael Straczynski is a well-known writer with credits in many different fields including film, television, and comics. In 2009, he was nominated for the BAFTA Award for his screenplay for Changeling, a movie starring Angelina Jolie. He was also one of the writers for the movie Thor starring Chris Hemsworth. He is probably best known for his television work which includes being the creator and showrunner for the science fiction television series Babylon 5, its spin-off Crusade, as well as Jeremiah. He also wrote many of the episodes of these series. He has definitely made a lasting mark in the comics world too with his creator-owned series at Image (Rising Stars and Midnight Nation) as well as a lengthy run on The Amazing Spider-Man.
JMS, as he is frequently referred to, has a very impressive resume and when he comes out with something new, it grabs headlines. Ten Grand is collaboration between JMS and artist Ben Templesmith, who is best known as being the artist and co-creator of 30 Days of Night. It is scheduled for release by Image Comics on May 1st and will generate a substantial amount of interest for its attached creators as well as its number of different covers which is eight.
Ten Grand #1 has that dark, creepy, gritty look that seems to be characteristic of most of Templesmith’s works. The main character is Joe Fitzgerald, a former hitman who died but came back from the dead. There are angels, demons, and the occasional supernatural event. Joe likes to spend time in a bar named Lenny’s where he will take the cases no one else will for the sum of $10,000 or ten grand. He is approached there by a girl named Debbie who is seeking out her sister Sarah who has disappeared after joining a cult involved with demonology.
Joe discovers the cult is run by a guy he killed two years ago. He takes the case for free. Joe’s back story is then filled in. He was going to do one last job and then run away with the love of his life, Laura. Things went awry and Laura ended up dead. Joe is haunted by this.
Ten Grand #1 is a strong start. The groundwork is laid for this detective story in a horror setting. It is a classic JMS work mixed in with the dark Templesmith artwork. The combination works well and should have any JMS or Templesmith fans clamoring for more. Fans of Hellboy, Colder, and a number of other Dark Horse series should enjoy this as well. Image has been delving into many different genres lately producing some great original material. Ten Grand looks like it could be their next hit.
GI Joe 02 (IDW Publishing) 4 out of 5 stars
By Bill Nedrow
My reaction to G.I. Joe 02 began when I got to the second cover, which showed a blonde haired man in dress uniform pointing at the reader above a I Want You sign. This poster is on a wall which is facing presumably the same man, who is tied to a chair. My thoughts were that Hawk was both men, and this got me very excited.
When I realized that the man on the cover was Duke and that, worse yet, the whole issue was devoted to him, I prepared myself to write a bad review. Actually, what I thought was this: "Do I really need to do this review? Would me editor notice if I skipped this one? I mean, I turned in two yesterday. Can I get away with just skipping this one wholesale?"
I am not one of those people who thinks that Duke should have died at the end of the first G.I. Joe movie (the animated one) or cheered when (SPOILER ALERT) he did in the movie in the theaters now. I am one of those people who questioned why he came about in the first place. G.I. Joe had a blonde haired, take charge leader in Hawk, and he had a team leader in Stalker. When Duke showed up, he seemed like a cheap imitation and never became a dynamic enough character to change that initial impression I had of him.
You can see why I wasn't enthusiastic about reading an entire issue devoted to Duke.
By the end of the issue, though, I had to begrudgingly admit that G.I. Joe 03 is a good read. It presents an interesting story, accomplishes a couple of things throughout the narrative without seeming contrived or obvious, and actually makes Duke a character that isn't as stereotypical and flat as I've seen him throughout the years.
The story deals with Cobra's attempts to torture a code word out of Duke. Because they can't resort to actual torture (either because of Duke's training or because he is some sort of mutant- this point wasn't made entirely clear), Dr. Mindbender and the Baroness have to resort to using a variation of the brain-wave scanner to trick Duke's subconscious into revealing this code word. As we follow Duke's life, we see Cobra manipulate his memories in an attempt to get him to reveal the information that they desire.
What makes this story interesting is that it not only deals with the current plot but also effectively acts as an origin story of sorts for Duke. Thus, several events of his past are introduced in such a way as to function in the current story but also flesh out Duke as a character. Many of these elements are stereotypical and reinforce my earlier impression of Duke: he is a hypocrite (he whines when he doesn't get accepted into West Point but then acts throughout his military career as if he doesn't want to be an officer); he is a charge into battle no matter the odds type of solider; he is a misogynist; he cares more about his military career than he does people; he played with G.I. Joe action figures (Joe Colton) when he was a kid. Despite all of this, there are elements of his character that are interesting, and by the end of the comic book, he transforms into a character that I might actual consider reading more about.
This isn't to say that there are problems with the writing. For example, the story that is supposed to take place in Duke's subconscious reveal details that are obviously designed to further other elements of the story and couldn't actually be known to Duke (Major Bludd's appearance is one example). Nevertheless, things like this don't truly interfere with the narrative and can be overlooked with a little suspension of disbelief.
If you are going to pick up this issue, and I suggest you do, then I advise you to seek out the retailer incentive cover. Although it appears more like an informative comic page than a cover, it is actually a pretty cool little history of how the G.I. Joe brand (in the early '80s) came about. All of the information is well-known to most G.I. Joe fans (I just heard it all again during a panel at JoeCon), but it is presented in an entertaining and informative way. If you get a chance, seek out this cover.
I am pleased to say that my initial impression was unfounded; this is an issue that I enjoyed reading despite the lack of any interest for the main character. The issue not only kept my interest as it explored Duke but began to transform him into someone I would accept reading about again. If twenty-two pages can start to undo thirty years of prejudice I've had for a character, then those twenty-two pages are worth a read.
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye 16 (IDW Publishing) 4 ½ out of 5 stars
By Bill Nedrow
I'll confess right off the bat that I am not the best person in the world to be reviewing Transformers More Than Meets the Eye 16. I haven't regularly read the series, and being a Generation One guy myself, I don't have an intimate familiarity with many of the characters. Because of all of this, I am sure that much of the emotional impact of the issue missed its target as far as I am concerned.
If that is the case, then regular readers of this series must pick up this issue. If this issue got me to feel for these characters about whom I know little to nothing, then readers that have been reading about their exploits all along will be hit hard by what these pages contain.
The events of More Than Meets the Eye 16 chronicle the ways in which the crew of The Lost Light deal with (stop reading if you haven't read issue 15) the death of Rewind and the impending death of Ultra Magnus. There are no battles, no Autobot/Decepticon confrontations, no action scenes whatsoever. All of the conflicts are internal, and they are written in such a way that I never missed the lack of physical conflict at all.
One of the things that I've enjoyed so much about recent Transformers comics is how human the characters have been, and this issue is no exception. In fact, author James Roberts uses the characters' unique abilities to highlight the ways in which humans attempt to deal with grief. It is true that Rodimus's tantrums are more devastating than the average human's and that people born on Earth don't have the power to literally erase painful memories from their minds, but these are all just narrative conventions that Roberts employs to explore the very real ways in which beings (be they flesh or metal) attempt to cope with the loss of a loved one. Watching these characters play out different coping mechanisms, whether they be building walls around one's self or hiding behind a facade of contempt and apathy, allows the readers to reflect on issues surrounding death that aren't often this well addressed in comics that deal with human characters.
There is something very interesting and subtle going on with at least one of the two motifs (not the hand, although that is interesting as well) in the story. I am not sure if it is a message about coping with death or something else (again, I am familiar enough with the previous 15 issues to make a judgment), but I felt something as a result of it.
When I woke up this morning, I couldn't have cared less about most of the crew of The Lost Light. Honestly, I could probably only recognize four or five by name (Rodimus, Ultra Magnus, Rewind, Fortress Maximus, and Ratchet) and perhaps a few less by sight. Despite this, I felt strongly for all of these characters and what they were enduring. If this issue can do this to me, then a regular reader of the series is going to get all the more caught up in what is transpiring here. Buy this; there is something profoundly human going on in this issue about robots.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 21 (IDW Publishing) 3 out of 5 stars
By Bill Nedrow
A friend of mine, knowing that I taught it in class, recently read Ambrose Bierce's The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. When I asked him what he thought of it, my friend snarled dismissively and wrote it off as a story in which nothing happened.
My feelings of respect for that short story notwithstanding, I do agree that something should happen in most narratives, and it is disappointing to report that that isn't the case in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 21.
I always try to be careful not to reveal too much in these reviews, so before I continue, I have to issue a warning. What is going on in this issue isn't too hard to figure out. You will have your suspicions very early on and should have no doubts midway through the story, but I will say that reading this review may make it all the more transparent. If you want a completely fresh approach to this issue, I would recommend reading this review with caution.
The conflict of this story centers on the turtles and their battle with a mysterious assailant. The latter, a masked warrior who attacks them without provocation, is the master of several fighting techniques and is obviously the turtles' superior in every way. Potentially heightening the tension of the issue is the fact that this warrior knows where their hideout is and spends the issue alternately wiping the floor with Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael and making his way towards a confrontation with Splinter. Because he is such a formidable warrior, it appears as though he could, if left unchecked, ambush the turtles' mentor and overcome him in combat.
Again, here is where you might want to stop reading should you wish an untainted look at the comic.
The problem with this plot is that it, like The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, is a non-story. Even if you haven't figured out the identity of the mysterious assailant, you get the sense that he will not do anything vicious to Splinter should the turtles fail. He is presented as someone who possesses the skill to overcome Splinter in battle but not as someone who truly has a motive to do harm. Although he continually destroys the turtles in combat, he does so in a way that is playful rather than malevolent. He even goes so far as to leave them a sign pointing towards his location after defeating them the first time. Such a character, one senses, will not turn out to be a cold-blooded assassin who ends the life of one of the central figures in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle story.
Despite this lack of tension, there is some plot progression at the end of the story, where the narrative turns to Shredder's actions. This epilogue of sorts shows us how Shredder is dealing with the aftermath of The Secret History of the Foot Clan miniseries and promises that future issues will have more at stake.
I suppose all long-running series must have issues in which less happens than others, and if you approach this issue with that in mind, you won't be too disappointed. There is plenty of action in the issue, and it ends with a promise of more to come. It'll take you about five minutes to read and won't be necessary to have read when the next major storyline kicks off, but if you need your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fix between now and then, this issue should suffice.
MIND MGMT #10 (Dark Horse) 4 stars out of 5
By Mike del Tufo
MIND MGMT published by Dark Horse Comics continues to be one of the best comics out there. Writer and artist Matt Kindt is the driving force behind this series and has kept the quality of it at a high-level since it debuted in May of 2012. Kindt has crafted one of the best original stories in comics today with each issue a thrilling ride.
It initially flew under the radar until Twentieth Century Fox picked up the movie rights in January with Ridley Scott attached as the producer. Yes the legendary Ridley Scott whose film credits include Gladiator, Alien, Blade Runner, and Prometheus. Suddenly now everyone is talking about this little title by Dark Horse and copies of all of the issues have flown off of the shelves of comic book shops everywhere. There is a significant amount of hype surrounding it currently.
MIND MGMT focuses on a government agency named MIND MGMT that employs people who have psychic abilities. Henry Lyme is their greatest agent but he struggles to keep his abilities under control. Another main character is a journalist named Meru.
MIND MGMT #10 introduces Duncan, a man who can grab the thoughts of anything within a 15 mile radius. He already knows just what you are going to say. He knows what you want to hear. There are no surprises in his life and it has become utterly mundane. He quickly bores of people and cannot sustain a relationship for any prolonged amount of time. He seems to always be in search of ways to relieve his boredom no matter the amount of trouble it may get him in.
In this issue, Duncan has garnered the agency’s attention. They are following him and want to capture him. But how do you catch a man who can basically predict the future? He knows what someone is going to do before they do it. Meru and Lyme formulate a plan in an attempt to overcome this.
MIND MGMT #10 is a very cerebral comic that likes to immerse its readers in a lot of mystery. It also employs quite a bit of diversionary tactics just like most of the previous issues of this title. It is much deeper than the average comic as it likes to envelope its readers in a fog until slowly clearing it away. It is a prime example of how comics have grown up for an adult audience. If you have grown tired of the capes and relentless company crossovers and want something different, MIND MGMT is an excellent choice. Just be warned that you may want to reread each issue because you probably missed something while reading it the first time.
Todd the Ugliest Kid on Earth #4 (Image) 4 stars out of 5
By Mike del Tufo
There is no other comic quite like the Todd the Ugliest Kid on Earth series from Image Comics. It is definitely in the running for being the most thrown series currently being produced by any of the major comic book companies. Todd is the main character and he wears a bag over his head because, well, he is the ugliest kid on earth. It makes sense in this world. Nobody questions it. Nobody wants to see him without the bag.
Of course, the irony of it all is that Todd is really one of the least ugly people in the entire series. Everyone else seems to have glaring faults and character defects that overshadow any facial deformities Todd may have.
This series starts off with Todd being framed for a series of child murders which leads to him being sent to prison. Todd’s parents Peggy and Gus are so involved in their own twisted lives that his plight is barely a blip to them. Peggy is unhappy that Gus has not been paying enough attention to her so she seeks comfort from others. Gus is obsessed with a daytime soap star named Belinda Fairchild he just met. Todd, while incarcerated, is oblivious to the hazards of prison society and misconstrues potential dangerous events for fun ones. He is excited about a “blanket party” because it is a party.
Todd the Ugliest Kid on Earth #4 begins with Todd at the blanket party. Todd enjoys himself while the recipient of the party clearly does not. Then Gus having been invited to Belinda’s hotel room is unpleasantly introduced to her bodyguard. Belinda intervenes. With Gus then full of many expectations, he instead receives a very unusual proposition from Belinda. It is certainly an unexpected one. Meanwhile Peggy reaps the rewards of meeting up with a rich stranger at a bar and does something equally surprising. The real child killer appears in this issue as well and finds himself in trouble with the authorities. As the issue ends, Gus and Peggy return home to each other with Peggy somewhat questioning why she did the right thing while Gus revels in the fruits of his labors.
Todd the Ugliest Kid on Earth #4 is a well-written issue with strong characterization that is very adult-themed. It is quirky and warped but very enjoyable. Ken Kristensen is the writer. The art on this series is by M.K. Perker and it is fantastic. It really propels this series above many of the other titles out there. The jail glossary is an added bonus at the end and it is funny and informative. If you are looking for something new and different, go grab a copy of Todd the Ugliest Kid on Earth #4.
Star Wars Legacy 02 Review (Dark Horse) 3 out of 5 Stars
By Bill Nedrow
I was at my comic shop before they opened on the day that the new Star Wars Legacy series was released. I bought issue 01 (the first comic I’ve bought since the last issue of Star Wars Legacy War) and got suckered into buying a variant cover because I was so excited.
If the first issue wasn’t quite enough to get me hooked, it was entertaining enough to warrant reading number two. Having just done so, I am closer to making a verdict: The series has one or two issues left to really impress me before it stops becoming a one Wednesday a month commitment.
One question I have to ask myself as I read this series is whether or not I would care about the protagonist if her last name wasn’t Solo. A better question may be whether or not I would care about the series if it didn’t have the words Star Wars on the cover. Thus far, the answer to both questions is no. The audience hasn’t been introduced to anything particularly compelling about Ania Solo, so there isn’t much reason beyond her heritage to particularly care about her. Aside from running, the only thing that Ania does in this issue is demonstrate her stubbornness. However, she seemingly acts stubborn for the sake of being stubborn. While this may be a family trait (we’ve seen Han do this a few times), it doesn’t particularly make her sympathetic.
The Star Wars angle of the story seems lackluster at this point as well. The conflict of the story centers around one Sith trying to disrupt the completion of a communications array. There is a lone Imperial Knight who has been captured and probably eventually needs rescue, but we barely know him and don’t have enough invested in him to warrant month-to-month worry at his expense. The story lacks the epic nature of a typical Star Wars adventure. While I would agree that not every Star Wars tale needs to hang the fate of the galaxy up for grabs, it would be nice if this story had a little more at stake.
Mid-way through the second issue, I would have said that Ania’s characterization isn’t the only problem. Sauk, Ania’s Mon Calamari sidekick, appears to be in the story so that his cowardice and whining can serve as a counterpart to Ania’s behavior. The aforementioned Sith villain is just that: a one-dimensional Sith villain. All of the familiar characters we know from the original Star Wars Legacy series are on Coruscant doing nothing. I was ready to decide that I didn’t care about anyone until I was introduced to AG-37.
I think I am going to like AG-37. I think I am going to like him a lot.
If AG-37 continues to be portrayed as the compelling character that I think he may be, if we learn more about Ania in such a way that we care about her as a character and not as a descendant of someone, and if the story grabs more of the epic feel of a Star Wars story, then I will enjoy being the first person at the comic shop once a month to grab the new issue of Star Wars Legacy. If these things fail to happen, though, the series will feel more like a burden than a joy. I know that it is a slow time for action figure buying right now, but there are always other things I can use my hard earned $3 on.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series: Krang (IDW Publishing) 2 out of 5 stars
By Bill Nedrow
Tonight's review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Micro-Series: Krang will be written in the form of the conversation between the title's author Joshua Williamson and his editor Bobby Curnow (as I imagined it in my head throughout my reading of the issue).
Bobby: Come on in, Josh. I have a really exciting project that I am pleased to give you.
Joshua: Great. I don't mind saying that the rumors are I'll be working in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Universe. Is that right?
Bobby: As a matter of fact it is.
Joshua: Great. There are a lot of characters whose minds I really want to get into. I love the dynamic between Shredder and Splinter and would love to explore that more. I can't wait to take a look at the stoic leadership of Leonardo. Casey Jones is a character that hasn't really been explored too much either.
Bobby: Yes, but how do you feel about Krang?!
Joshua: Uh, you mean that little brain guy who walks around in a metal robot? He's, uh, he's ok, I guess.
Bobby: Great. You'll be working on the Micro-Series issue devoted totally to Krang. You'll have an entire issue to devote to him.
Joshua: The brain guy. Great. Uh, great. Uh, yeah, who is the artist?
Bobby: We got you Mike Henderson.
Joshua: Ok, I'll get in touch with him and get him to work up some really cool robot suits while I get going on the script.
Bobby: Oh, well, we were hoping you'd really explore him. We want to see what he's about, without the suit. In fact, we were hoping that the entire issue would focus on him without any metal suits at all.
Joshua: Without any robotic suits at all?
Bobby: Yeah. What we want to show is how fearsome a warrior he is by himself. You know, we really want to explore the ferocity of Krang. Not Krang in a suit, but Krang the fearsome warrior on his own.
Joshua: You want me to write an entire issue about Krang, the little pink brain guy with tentacles, without any robot suits, and depict him as a fearsome warrior?
[More silence. Joshua looks around the office to see if any hidden cameras can be spotted.]
Joshua: Can I at least make him grayish black like the aliens from War of the Worlds?
Bobby: Nope. The ferocious, non-robot suit wearing Krang warrior must be pink.
[Joshua Williamson walks out of the office muttering things unfit for print under his breath.]
Now, I have no inside knowledge that that is in fact what happened, but I couldn't get this scenario out of my head as I read this issue.
The issue is as good as it can be given that it is about a pink brain with tentacles trying to assert himself as a fearsome warrior and credible threat. In some ways, Williamson actually makes Krang sympathetic (I guess Earth isn't the only world on which sons try to prove themselves to overbearing fathers). In the end, though, this is an issue about a pink brain with tentacles trying to establish himself as a fearsome warrior.
If you are a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan and have to know the back story of every character, then I guess you don't need to read this review and your mind has already been made up regarding whether or not you want this issue. If you aren't, then I can think of a number of other ways to spend your $4. I give Joshua Williamson all the credit in the world for undertaking this task, but some things are just too ridiculous to take seriously. This is one of them.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics: Leonardo (IDW Publishing) 4 out of 5 stars
By Bill Nedrow
I really enjoyed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics: Leonardo.
I shouldn't have. There isn't too much to the issue. Leonardo is ambushed by the Foot Clan while practicing. He fights throughout the issue while the others prepare for Christmas. Throughout the issue, we are treated to ninja combat and see Leonardo's prowess as a warrior. By and large, I thought the issue was just a way to show off the titular character's skill and fill a bunch of panels with action. Eventually, I realized I was wrong.
What I really liked about the issue is the revelation at the end that there is more to the issue than this. Whereas most of the issue seemed like fun, gratuitous violence, the end shocked me and showed that there was more going on. While there was nothing earth-shattering about the conclusion, it did veer away from one of the two endings that I saw coming throughout the whole issue. It isn't often that I am very surprised by an ending, so I appreciated this issue for that.
Looking back, I realize that there is more going on thematically than I first picked up on as well (perhaps my expectations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issues aren't that high). The parallel structure that the authors set up in contrasting Leonardo's battles with the Foot Clan and the other turtles preparing for Christmas is, in hindsight, interesting once the ending is taken into account. While there are clumsy attempts to provide meaning by making statements across panels (having something April says, for example, provide meaning to Leonardo's exploits), the overall idea of Christmas preparations and the turtles' battle against the Foot Clan is made more meaningful once the last panel is revealed.
The action itself is well-choreographed and depicted. The authors portray the battle in just the right way: Leonardo is portrayed just competently enough to show how skilled he is without making it appear as though he is dominating his opponents. Thus, a sense of urgency and danger is maintained while at the same time demonstrating that Leonardo is a capable warrior. There is always a sense that Leonardo is in danger, but the level of danger is exactly the level he can handle. Thus, when the authors up the ante at the end, there is the appropriate heightening of tension. This feeds right in to the very end and should carry over into the next issue of the series (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 10).
Many of my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reviews have focused on what I have wanted out of a TMNT issue but failed to find. I guess this one has delivered. There isn't a lot of exposition in this issue; the pages are focused on silent carnage or seemingly unimportant Christmas talk. However, the battles are fun, and what little exposition is revealed at the end is all the more powerful for the set up that the issue delivers. Check this issue out. I think you'll find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I was.
Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin (Dark Horse) 2 out of 5 stars
By Bill Nedrow
There are a lot of problems inherent in writing a Darth Vader story, and I am not sure that Tim Siedell overcomes any of them in Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin.
Problem one is that you know how the story ends. I'll give you a clue: The ninth assassin isn't going to successfully kill Darth Vader. Neither is the fourteenth assassin. The two-hundred and seventy eighth isn't going to fare well either. I am not trying to provide spoilers here, but Darth Vader survives until Return of the Jedi. There isn't going to be much drama generated from this story in terms of how will it end.
Character development will be limited as well. We know where Vader ended up at the end of Revenge of the Sith, and we know where he is by Return of the Jedi. This series isn't going to reveal any great character secrets about the former Anakin Skywalker. In this issue, Vader is a killing machine, and that is probably all he will be throughout the series.
It is true that most of the issue focuses not on Darth Vader but on the man who is seeking vengeance upon him for the death of his son. However, if Vader is the antagonist, then this choice of a protagonist is suspect at best. If we can't root for the protagonist to succeed (see paragraph two), then it might be interesting to see a tragic figure destroyed by his need for revenge. However, the character who sets the plot in motion is not at all sympathetic nor tragic (at least in a classical sense). Because he is a cruel, greedy, arrogant man, we almost find ourselves rooting against him in spite of the fact that his goal is (accidentally) a righteous one.
The best we can hope for, then, is a mighty showdown between a foolish/overconfident assassin and Darth Vader. There is inevitably a great battle coming, but it doesn't come in this issue. What we get instead in this issue is window-dressing. There is very little plot, no character development, and little to no real action. All you need to know from this issue before reading issue number two is that an assassin is going to try and kill Darth Vader. Everything else is unimportant set-up.
House of Gold and Bones #1 (Dark Horse) 4 stars out of 5
By Mike del Tufo
What if you woke up one day and didn’t know who you were? You had no memories. You didn’t know who your friends or enemies were. You also had no idea where you were, how you got there, or where you wanted to go. What do you do? Who do you trust? That is the plight of the protagonist of the new series by Dark Horse Comics titled House of Gold & Bones. It is an interesting premise.
The series is inspired by the Stone Sour album House of Gold & Bones and is scripted by Grammy-nominated musician and best-selling author Corey Taylor, the lyricist and lead singer of Slipknot and Stone Sour. It is his initial foray into writing comics. It is an impressive start. The artist is Richard Clark who does a solid job interpreting Taylor’s script.
House of Gold and Bones #1 begins with an unknown man wearing an off-blue shirt and pants with a “Zero” tag on the front of his shirt. Is Zero his name? We do not know as it is not disclosed. Even he does not know. Suddenly he is running for his life. He does not know why. He is just doing it on instinct as he senses danger will be upon him if he does not. He then happens upon a small house or structure and decides to enter. There is a mysterious figure seated at a table inside. His name is Allen and he is this unknown man’s twin. Allen refers to our protagonist as Human. Allen tells Human that he must find the House of Gold and Bones to get home. Human now has a quest. He also tells him to avoid Black John. Then Allen disappears. Is Allen really a friend or foe?
He leaves the place and sets about to find the House of Gold and Bones. He sees a big city off in the horizon. He assumes it must be there and heads off in that direction. There will no doubt be many huddles and threats for him to overcome before he finds his destination.
House of Gold and Bones #1 is a very eerie ride. Human seems to be trapped in a dream that he cannot wake from. Maybe he will once he finds this mysterious House of Gold and Bones. This issue hits the ground running right from the opening page and it grabs your attention and keeps you. Corey Taylor envelopes the reader in this world filled with numerous unknowns and a supernatural aura. It is a very strong opening act. Hopefully Taylor will be able to sustain this momentum throughout Human’s journey as this series unfolds.
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