Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wednesday Is A Buck Or Less For All I Care #74

After Dark #0 (2010)
Arcana Presents 2010
Deadpool Marvel's Greatest Comics #1
Grimm Fairy Tales #5 (2010)

After Dark #0 (Radical, 2010, $1.00)
I remember watching Highlander on VHS, and being impressed with its high concept on a budget premise. Then I saw Highlander 2: The Quickening at the movie theater, in which they disregarded most of the cool fantasy trappings and lore from the first flick in favor of an attempt at hitting the reset button through hogwash science fiction. Later on, after the franchise was revived by going back to the original mythology, someone did a "Renegade" cut of Highlander 2 to excise as much of the sci-fi as possible. If you took all the bullshit that was re-edited out and strung it together, then added some bridging scenes under the supervision of Roger Corman, it would be a lot like After Dark.

The future world is fucked, and everyone that's left is a miserable twat living in a city shrouded in perpetual night. To cope, everyone drinks and dopes and riots and shit. To be continued... That's, like, fifteen pages. Dark fucking pages, too. Jeff Nentrup, who might have painted this, paint it black, yeah! Every goddamned page is black and gray. Not only is it dreary, but it's really lazy and boring. Alternately, this might be computer generated, because the few clear faces scene look like digital china dolls. There's some scarred up asshole who wants to be a Warren Ellis character and some messianic chick, but reading this garbage is just a chore. This is another one of those scenes where a couple of famous Hollywood cunts (Antoine Fuqua & Wesley Snipers) get high and decide some tired bullshit idea they ripped off is some kind of brilliance, so they take it to an intellectual property development company (Radical) to hire a hack writer (Peter Milligan) to make their leavings remotely readable. This is cynical soul killing eye strain, so back away.

If you make it through, there's an eight page preview of Hotwire: Deep Cut, and any single one of them has more going for it than the entirety of After Dark. Steve Pugh is one of the most fantastic artists going, I've loved his stuff for decades, and he doesn't embarrass himself by providing his own script. It's about these ghosts that inhabit technology to reconnect with the living, and a hot little sub-genius chick who has personal and professional dealings with the phenomena. These pages are gorgeous, colorful and packed with detail. I think I passed on the trade paperback collection of the first Hotwire mini-series because Radical publishes too much lousy material and I'm not big on Ellis. Thanks to this preview, I'm now punching myself in the tender part of my knee and eating a wire brush. I will make contrition at the next opportunity, even if my max Radical discount off retail is only something like 20%.

Arcana Presents 2010 (Arcana, 2010, $0.50)
I assume the title I gave for this sampler is correct, since there's no indicia, no copyright information and no creator credits. Oh yeah, this book has the distinct aroma of vanity publishing. For instance, the inside front cover features a text piece by the publisher hard pitching his companies wares as "high quality branded entertainment" with "intellectual properties" that could translate across multiple platforms. Clearly, he masturbates nightly to Radical Comics' publishing plan, but when your intra-office memo masquerading as an introduction is filled with typos, you might need to work out some of those finer details.

Okay, first story is called Kade: Red Sun about a roguish guy with raccoon mascara drinking and telling tales with Russian nogoodniks. That lasts eight pages. It's in okay color with okay art and okay story that's an excerpt from a book that might be okay.

The Hope Virus is about a dandy Oscar Wilde schoolboy motherfucker that I guess changes the world with his blog, probably for the worse. The art is this weird hybrid of Ed Benes type style with flashback material that looks kind of like Kade: Red Sun. I didn't hate the seven pages, but I feel no compulsion to read this emo stuff further.

The last seven pages are devoted to probably the seventh reintroduction of Mario Gully's Ant at likely its seventh publisher. Ant wants to be Spawn so bad it can taste it, and considering that this is some professional caliber Greg Capullo referencing, Todd McFarlane should hire this guy to revisit that property's glory days. I've read several Ant samples, and not only aren't they bad, but I really appreciate Gully's devotion to black super-heroines with junk in the trunk. I'm not paying for it, though.

Deadpool MGC #1 (Marvel, 2010, $1.00)
Rob Liefeld tried to rip-off Deathstroke the Terminator for one New Mutants story in I guess 1991, but Fabian Nicieza probably thought he looked like Spider-Man because he totally looked like Spider-Man and so scripted the character like a homicidal Bugs Bunny. A couple decades later, this retarded fucking character with a nonsensical name stolen from the worst Dirty Harry sequel is headlining a half dozen titles a month. This is why I don't read Marvel Comics anymore.

Why else? Decompression. This entire debut issue is one long, limp fight between Deadpool and some Skrulls in a Secret Invasion cash-in. There's no origin, backstory, supporting characters, continuity or nothin', and the story isn't even resolved. There's some stuff that's supposed to be funny and/or kewl, but it isn't. This is basically a non-mature readers issue of the Lobo ongoing series, except Paco Medina's pretty good art is wasted where Val Semeiks was right in his depths.

Grimm Fairy Tales #5 (Zenescope, 2010, $1.00)
I don't hold Zenescope in high regard because they use unproven talent, rely heavily on T & A covers, and generally target a high school mindset. That said, I have to admit some of my prejudice is unfounded, because most of the Zenescope material I've tried has been fair to middling, which is a damned sight better than offerings from Top Cow, Aspen, Arcana, Asylum, most Radical and quite a few other publishers I can't be bothered to refresh my memory about.

For example, maybe this fivish year old second printing of an odd issue of Grimm Fairy Tales was rereleased because it was the best story of the series. I don't know, but if so, they chose wisely. The art by John Toledo and Marc Deering is a bit awkward in that third rate publisher way, but it's looks good and tells the story well. Solid colors by Transparency Digital don't hurt. The true money is in the fairy tale itself, which is a dark reworking of Sleeping Beauty worthy of EC Comics, with an air of verisimilitude that could con me into believing this is some fucked-up Eastern European version of the fable I'd never heard before. Totally worth my buck, and the first time the writing in a Zenescope book made me want to try more. Kudos to Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco on a job well done.

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