Thursday, January 31, 2013

Comic Review: Masters of the Universe Origin of He-Man #1

            This comic week was actually quite small, which is nice considering the fact that next week will be substantial with the new Think Tank as well as a cavalcade of Transformers titles (so look for that promised Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye review next week).  It was therefore a good week to catch up with everyone’s favorite Eternian, He-Man, as he had two titles come out from DC Comics this month.  The mini-series concluded with a thud after it failed to really get off the ground at all in the first six issues.  The ending did set up the upcoming regular series (debuting in April if I remember correctly) pretty nicely, but if it wasn’t for my allegiance to the property itself, I wouldn’t even bat an eye at the comic, and wouldn’t expect it to last another 12-18 issues if the quality stays the same. 

            On a nicer note, Deathmatch #2 came out this week and it adds another layer to the mystery surrounding why the heroes and villains are captured and why they are being forced to kill one another.  It is by far one of the best and most complete comics on the shelves right now and is some of the best work that I have read from writer Paul Jenkins in recent memory (and that’s saying a lot considering his pedigree).  So while I am not reviewing #2 this week, I am declaring Deathmatch the winner, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be one of the best comics of the year (so far, it has the crown).

            Anyway, back to the reason we are here.  With the release of Masters of the Universe Origin of He-Man #1, we are set to take a peek into what transformed Prince Adam into He-Man.  While DC has basically raped the franchise with their printed comics (I haven’t read the digital ones so I can’t really comment on those), they do have a chance to redeem themselves with a quality origin tale.  Let’s see how they do.

            I like this cover by Ben Oliver.  I like the simplicity of it and the fact that it really highlights the nature of He-Man himself.  As much as Prince Adam doesn’t want to be defined by his sword, that’s exactly what He-Man is all about.  Adam doesn’t become He-Man until he takes out the sword and says the incantation.  The sword is the conduit and it is what transforms the man into the myth.  That’s one thing that I always loved about He-Man growing up, the mythological quality of it all.  The larger than life characters are a huge part of the story, but everything is basically centered around a guy and his sword.  This cover illustrates that perfectly, and having the cover be completely white aside from that image ensures that the focus is on that imagery and nothing else.    I am not even bothered too much by the fact that the sword is straight up and down because the image reflected in the sword is slightly tilted.  Oliver did a great job of making everything on this cover work together to create the best possible image.

9/10 – Good stuff.  The He-Man redemption project at DC is starting out well.

            I spoke too soon.  What this story by Joshua Hale Fialkov basically boils down to is that Prince Adam became He-Man because the Sorceress told him to.  That’s it.  This could have literally been done in one page.  Sure, we see a battle between Adam and Skeletor, a very one sided battle as Adam is quite the pussy at this point, but it’s not very compelling or interesting.  It’s just Skeletor looking for the power sword.  Adam gets crushed by rocks (apparently, as we never actually see this happening but when he wakes up from his Sorceress dreamtime he is covered in rubble), which I find it hard to believe he could survive through without being He-Man, but whatever.  The Sorceress then appears to him and tells him that he is He-Man and that he needs to grab the power sword (which conveniently lands next to him as he is crushed by rocks).  The sword then awakens the power of Greyskull in him and he emerges from the rubble to fight Skeletor.

            Okay.  Here’s the issue with that.  I realize that in the He-Man universe, there is a certain suspension of belief in terms of the Adam/He-Man transformation.  They look exactly the same, I get it.  How Skeletor and his henchmen, not to mention the people that are around both He-Man and Adam all the time don’t get it I will never understand.  At least Clark Kent wears glasses!  Skeletor (apparently) actually buries Adam under the rubble.  There is no one else in the room.  No one at all.  Then all of a sudden He-Man emerges from where Adam fell and Skeletor doesn’t seem the least bit skeptical.  I get it, it’s hard to say “how did you get there, where’s Adam” when you are fighting for your life against a sword-wielding Barbarian, but come on.  Eventually Skeletor loses (like he always does) and he would have time to digest what happened.  At that point, don’t you think logic would prevail?  Or is that the He-Man mythology now, that everyone knows from the beginning?  I realize that in the mini-series they know, but I thought that was because Adam was basically outed as He-Man when Skeletor took over. 

I don’t know, I am still trying to wrap my head around the whole Skeletor is He-Man’s uncle thing.  It just adds an unnecessary wrinkle to the whole mythology.  What purpose does it serve?  Skeletor thinking he got slighted as ruler of Eternia?  Guess what, Skeletor is an asshole, he doesn’t need a concrete reason to want to take over Eternia, and even if he did, you could come up with a better one that doesn’t require rewriting the mythology. 

1/10 – At least it was only $2.99, considering the fact that the bulk of the story was one or two pages in length with the rest being filler.  It’s official, the He-Man redemption project failed.  Thanks DC, first you take away Superman’s underpants and now you rewrote Masters of the Universe.  Thank you for ass-raping my childhood with a salad fork.

            The art by Ben Oliver is good.  The problem is what makes the art good probably has more to do with the colorists Jose Villarrubia and Kathryn Layno than it does Oliver.  Let me get this out of the way, Villaurrubia is a master, one of the best colorists working in the business today.  His partnership with Jae Lee has produced some of the best work of both of their careers and I was not surprised that a beautifully “painted” comic like this was his handiwork. 

            Because of the masterful job by Villarrubia and Layno, it is hard to judge the artwork by Oliver.  Where does his contributions end and that of the colorist begin? How much did they improve what he put down?  Therefore the best judge of Oliver’s work is the pages themselves in terms of their layout, composition and storytelling.  This is where Oliver loses me.  Each page looks like he sat down with a checklist of panel types and just tried to fit them in. Closeup – Check.  Extreme Closeup – Check.  Longshot – Check.  Mediumshot – Check.  Silhouette – Check.  And the silhouettes, good lord.  He does a decent job with them, but when there are eleven pages with silhouettes in a twenty page comic, that is either someone that is using the technique as a crutch, or just doesn’t want to draw an actual picture. 

            I don’t even want to get into the layout that DC comics made them adhere to that made sure there was an ad for one of their crappy capes comics pretty much every other page.  Talk about breaking up the flow of the story.  Damn.  This is one area that Image and independent comics have always and will always blow the big two away in.

This is the first page of the comic, and from the get-go you are asking "what the hell?"  Both He-Man (as Adam) and Skeletor are reaching for the sword at the same time, He-Man comes up with it, and yet Skeletor (who put Adam under that rubble in the first place) asks "who are you?" on the next page.  Give me a break. 

This page makes no sense because there is no context.  When does this happen?  What does this lead to?  Most of the book is a flashback except for maybe four pages (this being one of them) but while the present-day pages bookend the comic, this one gets thrown in the middle.  Poor story and editing.  The colors are pretty though.

Even though this page lacks any and all backgrounds, I still like it.  However if Skeletor can just toss Adam around like a ragdoll, you would think that the stone pillar falling on him would have done more damage.  

This is basically the only page this comic needs (minus the unnecessary silhouette).  Adam: "Why me?" Sorceress: "Because I said so."  There you have it, the entire origin of He-Man according to this comic.

5/10 – That’s five points for the coloring.  It’s hard to take the comic or Oliver too seriously when each page almost looks like an art school assignment to try and fit in the various kinds of panels.  I expected more, especially after that great cover.

Overall: 3/10 – A good cover is spoiled by terrible interiors.  Great coloring on the artwork cannot save a bad, boring story that is best suited for a two to three page backup and not a headliner.  I love silhouettes and when there are enough for me to stand up and take notice, then there are too many.  In short, don’t bother with DCs treatment of this property unless you are a die-hard He-Man fan and don’t mind having your childhood squashed on a monthly basis.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Racial Insensitivity

This just goes to show you the level of Sluggy's insensitivity.  He cares so little about the other member of Knitting Club that he can't even be bothered to get his racial stereotypes in order.  
We are all pretty dumb in our own way.  In this world for example you see The Wormy Guy who is just a goofball and lacks any and all common sense, then you see someone like The Slugomatic that gets along just fine common sense-wise but lacks any sense of tact, and usually lets his ignorance on most subjects cloud his judgment.  He's not a bad guy per se, but he is definitely not a fit for this modern time period.  There are people like this out there in the world, and many are harmless and either do it to get a misguided chuckle, or just out of their own ignorance, so they do not necessarily deserve to be crucified.  Instead, a slight reminder that while being completely politically correct is bullshit, applying a filter to certain situations is probably a good idea.  This is for the chronic offenders like Sluggy though, for someone that just has a slip of the tongue and quickly corrects themselves (Joe Flacco at the superbowl media day yesterday calling an outdoor superbowl in New York "retarded" - which it is) not bringing it to light at all, not giving that misstep any additional press (be it actual press or otherwise) is something that you would think would be a better idea than flying it like a large, brightly colored flag.  Sometimes being the person to break a story like that (I'm talking about the media now - especially you Yahoo!) makes you look like more of a dumbass than the person that made the mistake.

The more you know.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Video Game Review: Transformers Prime

            My son’s love of all things Transformers is well documented on this site.  It therefore absolutely made his day when he received the Transformers Prime video game just after Christmas (thank God for post-Christmas deals at Gamestop).  Transformers Prime comes in four versions; DS, 3DS, WiiU and Wii.  I cannot use the Wii controls because of my hand condition and Goose is not particularly adept at the Wii controls aside from Mario Kart, so that one was out (as was the WiiU because we do not own the system).  The choice came down to DS or 3DS.  Since I don’t let him use the 3D function on the 3DS as it hurts his eyes, the logical (and more cost effective choice) was to go for the DS version.  While I do not have anything to compare it to in terms of the other versions, I am sure that this was the worst of the four. 

            First, let’s talk about graphics.  When you are used to seeing the characters come to life in the excellent 3D animation from the cartoon, you expect a bit more quality than what was delivered here.  I know that they will not be exact in terms of how they look compared to the cartoon, but damn.  The characters here are incredibly flat, looking like sprites from early Mega Man games instead of characters in more modern games, much less the fully realized 3D models from the cartoon itself. 

            The fact that the camera cannot be controlled and you are left up to the whim of the game in terms of camera movement is terrible.  In an age where independent camera movement, or at least the ability for a camera to follow you better, seems pretty standard, taking such a step backward is sad to see. 

            The gameplay itself is relatively boring.  Walk forward.  Shoot until you defeat all the enemies and a door opens.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  There are a couple driving sequences and one or two instances where you have to beat the clock to get somewhere, but the gameplay is neither challenging nor rewarding in any way.  The replayability for anyone used to playing modern videogames is nonexistent.  I have beaten the game and have no desire to touch it again. 

            There is one part of one level that is challenging, and that has more to do with the mechanics of the game itself than anything else.  Other than that, the game is very easy.  It is also incredibly short.  I was surprised that it ended when it did, and only part of my surprise was derived from the fact that the final boss was not Megatron.  Really?  You have a Transformers game and you don’t fight Megatron in the end, regardless of the fact that you match off with him a couple times throughout. 

            That being said, Goose likes it.  It features his favorite characters in his favorite iteration of said characters in a game that he can play.  Hell, we were on the same level for a while and at this point he is up to the final boss already.  He is five years old and he has basically mastered this game.  Sure, he may go back and play it again after he is done, and for what I paid for it, it’s not terrible, especially if it brings him so much joy.  If you do not have kids, or you are just expecting a quality video game experience, stick to the High Moon Transformers titles or even the Transformers Animated game for the DS that came out a few years ago.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Only Sluggy would recruit a Mexican stereotype to be in his knitting club.

Friday, January 25, 2013

What's the first rule?

You would think Shrimpy would know better than to discuss knitting club, even if it is something he doesn't really want to be a part of.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Comic Review: Hell Yeah #6

            As a general rule of thumb, I like to stay away from comics that have vulgarity in their title (not that hell is really vulgar, but it’s not something you can say in school – and don’t say “what about Hellboy?” that’s different).  I see that as shock value to sell a comic and really don’t want a part of it (see Kick Ass).  Unfortunately pickings were slim this week.  The only other comics I picked up were Mars Attacks Transformers (which was awesome) and Borderlands Origins #3 (which was boring and uninspired, much like the rest of the series).  So I had to pick something up, and I settled for Hell Yeah.  I figured it would either be shock value schlock and I would get to eviscerate it, or it would be a comic adaptation of the metal band Hell Yeah (I kind of doubted the latter, but you never know).

            The cover is actually really well done.  The stark white of the logo really pops from the dark background and the fact that the logo is partially obscured just helps to reinforce its proper placement.  I love the texture and the painted look to the cover as well.  While it may look kind of generic at first, a superhero (I’m assuming) with his face bloodied, it is actually taken from a part of the book.  If nothing else it gets me to wonder what bloodied his face, and what kind of superhero this guy is if he’s knocked out with a (probably) broken nose.  That’s the main job of the cover right?  To make you want to look inside?  Mission accomplished Ricken (the artist), well done.  The fact that it also includes text, and not those stupid banners for the next Warner Brothers movie, or telling you about the upcoming Marvel event, that stands out without being obtrusive shows a nice understanding of design. 

8/10 – Good linework complemented nicely by a painterly technique on the colors makes for a beautiful piece of work to look at.  It actually makes for a great cover too because of the additions of the text in a way that completes the piece instead of detracting from it.

            The recap page said that the pertinent information from the first story arc would be revealed within this issue.  I obviously didn’t read the previous five issues so I am not sure if that is 100% true or not, but this issue does a decent job of recapping who the main character is and what he does.  It honestly feels like a first issue instead of issue six, which is a great thing in terms of storytelling in my opinion because this was MY first issue, and I am firmly in the mindset that every issue is someone’s first.  How writer Joe Keatinge handles the second or third chapter in this story arc would probably tell more about his writing style in that respect than this first issue though.  While this issue does a decent job of setting things up for further issues down the line, it just feels pretty boring on its own.  Even the fight toward the end of the issue is kind of quick and boring.  I understand the necessity of the setup, even the slow burn in this story arc centric comic book landscape, but each issue should be entertaining enough to make you want to continue to read the series. 

            This story provides the making of a decent mystery, but really there isn’t much that will keep me coming back for more.  Believe me, the concept is interesting, the clean up guy that comes in after the “real” superheroes duke it out to take care of any extraneous messes.  I like that; it’s a fresh take on the genre that is probably better in trade than in individual issues.  The best part is that it doesn’t fall into the same Kick Ass style rut of sensationalizing anything or creating big moments for the sake of creating big moments.  In fact, aside from one naked woman, this book goes the other way.  Not a lot of big drama, not a lot of sensationalism.  It just kind of…is.  I have a feeling it will ramp things up in subsequent issues, probably as soon as issue seven, but it has not reeled me in effectively enough that I want to see where this goes. 

3/10 – As I said.  The groundwork is there for something very interesting and entertaining, but it definitely seems like the kind of story that you need to read in trade as the first issue doesn’t really have anything to pull me in.  Sure it escalates the mystery and leaves me with questions I would like answered by the end, but it was honestly a struggle to get there and I almost put the book down multiple times before that because it was pretty boring.

            Much like the story, the art by Andre Szymanowicz seems devoid of action.  That’s not to say that there aren’t action sequences, just that everything is so flat and stiff, especially in the first half of the book.  The best way to balance out pages and pages of not much going on would be for the artwork to be stellar.  I’m not saying that you would need a superstar to carry a painfully slow script (though it has worked from Brian Bendis) but something that would keep me turning the pages would definitely help.  The backgrounds are nice but the figures are not only stiff but have some wonky anatomy as well. 

That arm looks a little funny to me, and it gets worse in the big panel on that page but I can't show that because of the boobie-factor. 

This is more for the text than the art. "Working for you guys for about a while now" looks like someone forgot to proofread.

I like the robot lady character design but the way she is hitting him with the hammer in the last panel doesn't come off as really realistic both in terms of how she's holding the hammer and how her body is positioned.

This whole page is one big example of the static, boring character poses that are an epidemic in this book.  Plus the text boxes look like they have been thrown in there as an afterthought.

3/10 – Unfortunately the quality of the interiors don’t live up to the cover. 

Overall:  4/10 – I have higher hopes for the story than I do for the art, but it is still something that I would only approach in a trade paperback format.  Even then, throwing $15-$20 down for it may be a little too much based on what I’ve seen so far.

            Through all this, I am still left wondering why it is called Hell Yeah.  Seriously.  There is nothing in it that would explain the title in the least.  Being vague is one thing but having a title that doesn’t appear to mean anything is another matter entirely.  If anyone knows, or if it was revealed in the first story arc let me know, I’m genuinely curious.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The First Rule

Back when I wrote this, my girlfriend at the time had started knitting, and this is pretty close to an actual conversation that we had.  She was obviously joking, where Sluggy wouldn't dare to joke about these kinds of things, but it seemed like a perfect interaction to transcribe here between these characters.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Son of a gun

            Yeah, you can’t get a more hot button issue at the moment than guns and gun control, unless you want to discuss fake internet girlfriends, then I’m all ears.  Guns is not a topic that is or should be taken lightly, nor is it one that has a clear-cut answer that is going to appease everyone.  Whether it is the NRA or Mom’s Against Guns (or whatever anti-gun group is making noise) someone is going to be pissed about passed or rejected legislation.  There is one thing we can agree on though, the Westboro Baptist Church members can all be hit with flaming buses and no one would care.

            Okay, maybe there are two things that we can agree on.  Yes, fuck the Westboro Baptist Church, but also, guns are not inherently bad, it is the people that use them for heinous acts that are bad.  The main goal here, and unless I am reading something different than everyone else I think that it is the main focus of the government at the moment, is to remove weapons that can do the most damage to the most people.  We are violent, society is violent, and if history has taught us anything it has taught us that we have always been violent, and always will be.  Trying to remove that way of thinking from us is about as easy as removing the idea that we want peace on earth.  Seriously, you don’t think the two are connected?  Ask just about anyone out there if they want an end to violent conflict around the world, and they will say yes.  Threaten those people with harm to themselves or their family and what will happen?  They will put up a fight.  Violence is part of our natural response to situations, it’s called fight or flight for a reason.  Is it always the response, or always the answer in every situation?  Of course not, but that is not to say that it is never the answer.

            What does this have to do with gun control?  Well, I would think that the people in Washington are smart enough to believe that any legislation that they pass regarding guns will not do away with violence in general (I’m going out on a limb here).  The thing is that I don’t think that is their goal, nor should it be.  The role of government, especially American government is not to run the lives of the citizens; it is to help improve the lives of the citizens.  We could go back and forth for days in determining whether they have done or are doing a good job with it, but one thing is certain, they are trying.  They have identified a problem, mass shootings, and are taking steps to make people safer.  Whether those steps will work remains to be seen, but it is better than the alternative.  What else could the government have done that would have been worse than taking away our assault weapons?  Let’s go over some possible solutions.

            Nothing.  Bad shit happens all the time; the federal government could have taken a stance that they were going to let the states deal with it in their own way and only step in if the state’s mandates were specifically infringing on the rights of the citizens.  This is not unheard of, and it obviously would have been similar to stances taken after earlier, similar tragedies.  After the events at Sandy Hook, and Obama’s speech (which was probably the highlight of his presidency in my opinion) no one expected him to stand pat and delegate that issue to the states and I don’t blame him for not wanting to. 

            We could put armed individuals in schools and other places that have proved to be of interest to mass murderers.  This seemed like the main stance that the NRA took.  Instead of regulating guns and what not, we put more guns and more people with guns out there to “keep the peace” be it more law enforcement (on duty or otherwise) or returned veterans from overseas.  Yes, this will create jobs and give a much needed source of income to many people, especially those returning from Afghanistan/Iraq etc. to find that there are no jobs available.  I get it, and I applaud the NRA for trying to come up with a solution that actually kills (no pun intended) two birds with one stone.  The problem is, more guns do not equal safety, more guns equal paranoia.  If I’m in a movie theater and some douche starts popping off his gun at theater goers, I have to get out of the way of his bullets and his bullets alone (and if he is only allowed a gun with a maximum clip of seven bullets then I have a better chance) or I could be in the middle of a firefight between at least two different people, meaning at least twice the bullets for bystanders to dodge. 

Look at any recounting of a gunfight in the old west, they were rarely as neat as you see in the movies, with civilian casualties and property damage the norm, and these were with fucking six shooters.  Imagine if you had assault rifle vs. assault rifle in a crowded movie theater, or even worse, a school.  I’m sorry, but I can’t get behind arming civilians, or even returning soldiers for the sole purpose of vigilantism.  Yeah, you may be arming a retired cop or a retired serviceman that knows how to handle the weapon, but you are basically giving someone a license to be Batman.  Where is the due process?  Sure, if someone is shooting off a gun in a theater or a school, put two bullets in their head, I don’t care.  But with great power comes great responsibility (wow, a Spiderman and a Batman reference, you can tell who reads comics, can’t you), and not everyone you give that responsibility to will be able to do it, and do it correctly.

I guarantee you give a guy a gun and set him loose telling him to protect people and he will sniff out trouble to justify his job.  I’m not saying mass shootings are not an epidemic, because they are, but they don’t happen every day.  What you would get if you arm someone and tell them that they are the “protector” is a hero complex.  They will go looking for trouble, be it with the sketchy looking kid that wears all black or the guy that comes into the theater wearing a trenchcoat that he keeps closed.  The problem is, 99% of the time, the kid wearing all black is doing so because he likes the color black, or it’s laundry day, or he is mourning the loss of his pet turtle.  99% of the time, the guy with the trenchcoat is actually just sneaking a KFC bucket of chicken into the theater and not an AK-47.  Our “hero” may see something where there is nothing, may think that this is his moment, his chance to stop something before it starts.  He confronts the kid in school, but the kid is untrustworthy of authority for whatever reason and takes off.  If the “hero” has a gun, what is to stop him from using it?  Same thing with the movie theater.  Trenchcoat guy doesn’t want to get caught with eight pieces of the Colonel’s extra crispy under his coat, so he runs too (as much as you can when you’re smuggling drumsticks).  What’s to stop that “hero” from opening fire?  Not having a fucking gun to use, that’s what.  Will this happen everywhere and to every person tasked with this responsibility?  Of course not, but it will happen, and you’ll have just as much venom over these wrongful deaths as you would over a school shooting.  The term six of one, half dozen of the other comes to mind here.

That is where I think the government’s decision is the right one.  What, you’re afraid of them taking away you’re right to bear arms?  Who gave you the right to have an assault rifle?  Not me.  Not anyone.  That was an assumption on your part that bear arms meant some serious fucking hardware.  When they came up with that section of the constitution, they had muskets and shit like that.  You can have a musket, I don’t care.  Primarily because you’ll have one shot to take me down before I’m able to walk over and punch you in the face.  That was the idea.  The government did not guarantee you the right to mass murder, or the right to take out a tank with your personal weapon.  There were smart guys back then, but even old Benny Franklin probably didn’t see weapons like what we have today coming, you know, when he took his face out of that French girl’s lap.  The point is, those of you that think you are being denied a right; you never had that specific right to begin with.  Go out, get your background check done and buy a rifle.  Whether it’s for hunting deer or for your protection, I don’t care.  You don’t need an assault weapon, you may want one, but that’s different.  I have to explain this to my son all the time.  He needs that toy, or he needs that last cookie.  No, he wants them, his existence is not dependent on a toy or a cookie, and your existence is not dependent on your ability to make someone look like Swiss cheese.

“But if you take away assault weapons, they’ll just find a way to purchase them on the black market”.  Yup, that’s true.  However it will make it a lot harder for a random disgruntled teenager to find them.  Do you think that cowardly little fucker goes into Sandy Hook Elementary with a butcher knife?  Do you think he goes in there with a regular rifle?  Maybe, but I can almost guarantee that the body count is lower.  If he had a knife I bet he kills his mom and himself and that’s it.  When’s the last time you heard of a knifing spree?  Serial killers are different than mass murderers and they will find a way regardless (and most of the time they’ll find a way without using a gun, that draws too much attention).  If you don’t allow a mass murderer access to the tools, he will either fail miserably at his plot (hopefully just killing himself and saving us the trouble) or he will be a regular murderer, which while it is not great, is more “news at 11” as opposed to “breaking news special report”. 

“Taking away assault weapons won’t stop mass killings.”  See above.  Nothing will stop anything if someone puts their mind to it.  If someone really wants to kill someone else, they will find a way if a way exists, but it will be a lot harder for them and the more they have to do to accomplish a goal, the more of a chance they have of getting caught, or just saying “fuck it” and having a sandwich instead. 

“If they take away this right, what’s to stop them from taking away our other rights?”  Grow the fuck up.  They are not taking away your rights; they are modifying an existing right so that it is not as all-inclusive as you would like it to be.  If they start to remove rights, then we can have that discussion, or even if they start to modify rights that have nothing to do with killing people, then we can definitely talk.  Until that time, why don’t you relax, cut back on the conspiracy theories and have a Fruit Roll-Up.

“You don’t even hunt, what do you know.”  That’s right, I don’t hunt, and I don’t own guns.  I do own common sense though, and that tells me you don’t need an assault rifle to hunt anything smaller than a rhinoceros. 

“You’re biased because you have kids.”  Damn fucking skippy.  I’ll take that bias to my grave and wave that flag proudly.  My goal in life is to protect my boys, to make sure they have a better life than I do.  They are already getting the short end of the stick because the school systems have gone down the shitter in terms of their education content and teacher’s ability to teach, now I’m supposed to be afraid of that school becoming the site of a massacre?  I don’t think so, and if taking an automatic weapon out of your hands will help prevent that, guess what I’m going to do. 

“Seven rounds per clip is not enough to do the job.”  What job exactly?  To take out an elephant?  Are you just that bad a shot that you need eight shots?  If you miss on the first shot the deer will be gone which will remove the necessity for any extra shooting, but you already know that, so what are you saying?  Do you plan on being attacked by eight zombies and then you’re fucked because you only have seven bullets?  That argument is weak.  You tell me what you need more than seven successive rounds to accomplish and I will disprove your theory.  What this will do is make people more adept at using their weapons correctly.  Instead of just randomly firing off shots, hoping to hit something, you will have to actually be able to use your weapon correctly or risk running out of bullets.

As I said before, there is no right answer, and no easy answer, only the answer that will do the most good for the most people.  If I have to choose between the safety of many and your ability to completely annihilate a deer from 100 yards away, guess which one I’m going to pick.  Look, I’m not out to change your mind, but everyone has an opinion on this subject, and whether you agree or disagree with mine, I hope it has gotten you to think about what is really important and really necessary (there’s that want vs. need thing again).

And if nothing comes of last week’s news cycle, remember this:  guns don’t kill fake girlfriends, fake cancer kills fake girlfriends.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Knitting Club

If your first question is not "how does Sluggy knit with no arms" then you aren't paying enough attention.  
And I wish I could tell you.  

Friday, January 18, 2013


If you don't understand the context, go back and read this. It should clear things up for you.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Comic Review – Todd The Ugliest Kid on Earth #1

            I have to admit, I was originally stumped about what to review this week.  Nothing really jumped out at me.  Sure, I could have reviewed the newest Transformers: Spotlight which actually gave a decent amount of depth to Thundercracker and made him seem like more than just a Starscream repaint for the first time that I can recall, plus it had the insecticons which was pretty cool to see.  It wasn’t until a few hours before I went to my local comic shop that I stumbled upon a short preview for Todd The Ugliest Kid on Earth #1, and I knew that I had found what I was looking for.  Not only was I intrigued by the writing on the few pages provided, but the art was outstanding.  Thank you internet for making up my mind for me.

            Hey, the interior artist drew the cover!  And it has something to do with the guts of the book (even though you don’t realize that until the end)!  That’s already a win in my book.  The fact that artist M.K. Perker takes something as simple as a police lineup and interjects so much personality into it makes it really stand out to me.  This isn’t just the simple “four guys standing in a row” that you may be used to seeing.  Instead, we get a bevy of colorful characters all completely armed (yes, suspend your belief on that one) and looking fairly menacing, and in the middle of it all is Todd.  Looking small and unassuming, hell he has to stand on a stool to even be noticed in the shot, waving to us as if to say “Hi! You’ll enjoy my book, I promise.”  Todd was not wrong and that all starts with a quality cover.

            The only qualms I have about the cover is the darkness and the fact that it is fairly brown all the way through.  This made it blend in quite a bit to everything else on the shelf, and I honestly almost missed picking it up.  The logo is brown as well and does not stand out at all.  This is unfortunate as a great illustration was transformed into an ineffective cover because of a few easily fixable choices.

7/10 – I love the illustration itself but as a cover it doesn’t pop, nor is the logo plainly visible.  I have a feeling that this will be remedied in subsequent issues, at least I hope so.

            First things first, I have to give a nod to Perker and writer Ken Kristensen for the informative and hilarious intro page that gives you a rundown of the various characters in the book.  Even a (seemingly) minor supporting character like Mr. Finger, the blind pet shop owner, gets his own entry.  His is probably my favorite, stating that he only sells blind pets but he doesn’t know that, because he is blind himself.  Classic.

            The story itself is well crafted, making sure that what happens in the first few pages has an impact on the rest of the issue, and most likely the rest of the series.  Todd is a lovable loser, pretty blissfully ignorant of the fact that he is the victim of severe bullying.  Or, if he’s not ignorant to it, it really doesn’t phase him.  He has a condition that makes him apparently so ugly that he is forced to wear a paper bag on his head to spare the rest of us the horror, which if you have ever been a kid before (it’s pretty safe to say at least half of you have) you know that anything that makes you stand out is a bullseye for bullies.  This can lead to a solitary life for young Todd, and it leads to us as the reader feeling sorry for him, especially in light of the fact that both of his parents are horrible people as well.  Kristensen does a great job of making these people accurate representations of people we may know, while also upping the ante so that we know that they are caricatures. 

            The saddest part of the book is when Todd is confronted by the homicidal maniac that has been murdering kids.  This guy refuses to murder Todd because he only kills “beautiful children”.  While we can see this as a win for Todd in that his condition has finally proved to be a positive for him, it is also pretty terrible that he is deemed too ugly for even a serial murderer to finish him off.  Of course this leads to Todd being accused of being the murderer by possibly the dumbest detective I have ever seen.  I won’t give the whole thing away but it has to do with a couple sticky dolls that are introduced in the first few pages.  This is something you never expect to come back and be a major factor, but it most definitely is.  The end of the book is Todd being hauled off to jail , so we’ll see where this goes.

7/10 – You have to suspend belief for quite a few things here, but it really doesn’t effect the quality of the story or the enjoyment of it.  Kristensen has created an immediately sympathetic character and plays upon his innocence and naïveté to a T.

            There is a certain detail to Perker’s art and certain level of authenticity that bellies its cartoony nature.  I love the way the people are stretched and distorted as if they were caricatures, but they are so believable as people at the same time.  It’s as if the simplicity of Calvin & Hobbs was combined with a theme park caricaturist and lightly seasoned with a slight dash of Arthur Adams’ detail work.  I love it.  The humor in the art matches the humor in the story perfectly and the way that Perker draws Todd just adds to that aura of simplicity and relative contentedness that seems to hover over him, like a personal sun beam in a rainstorm instead of the other way around that is so often depicted.  The interesting part about this is the way Perker draws everyone, no one is a super model, nor are they even that attractive to look at.  So does that make Todd, incredibly ugly if he has to hide his face from regular ugly people, or is he actually a cute kid that, when ugly is the norm, is considered out of place?  Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

            I can’t speak about the art without giving a special nod to colorist Cemal Soyleyen.  This is probably the best colored, most complete art job I have ever seen on a comic that is not strictly painted.  The marriage between the linework and the color is incredible and not often seen unless it is all done by the same person.  Perker leaves just enough space and room for Soyleyen to embellish where needed while still making sure that the black and white artwork is not dependent upon its color counterpart.  This is a comic that could easily work as black and white but with someone like Soyleyen being not just a competent colorist but a downright superstar in the making, it makes it that much better.

The next three panels are some of the best one-liners I have read in a comic in a while.  This shows that not only has Kristensen crafted a good story, but he has peppered it with funny, and believable dialogue.

Note: he is asking the guy that was just about to kill him if he wants to be friends.  That's how tragic of a hero Todd is.

I just love the art in this panel and the way it shows how simple of a character Todd really is.

            The only thing that kind of bugs me is some of the lettering choices made here.  The balloons feel a little too large at times and the instances where they are trimmed just does not make sense.  Instead of just leaving the whole balloon, sides are lopped off and where you would think there was pertinent info, therefore necessitating the trim, there is nothing of the sort.  It’s kind of odd and stunts the flow of the comic as you are faced with a hard, flat vertical line out of the blue.

This is here for two reasons: one, to illustrate the word balloon cutoffs and two, because that top panel is great.  The inking and characterization on the people are both top notch.

9/10 – I can’t stay mad at you Todd.  This is some of the best art I have seen on a comic in a long time.  The absolute right balance of reality and distortion to create the perfect blend for a comic in general and especially one with a silly, but fun premise.

Overall: 8/10 – I would highly recommend this book for anyone that likes great art and a fun (and funny) story.  It reminds me of Chew, with kids and slightly less off the wall.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Movie Review - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

            I don’t go to the movies.  As a general rule, I avoid their overpriced tickets altogether.  However, this is The Hobbit.  This is a piece of my childhood.  So I sucked it up, and like a big hypocrite, I sat in the theater and let Peter Jackson transport me to New Zealand…er…Middle Earth. 

            First of all, how many people found themselves referencing each scene to the old Rankin-Bass Hobbit cartoon from our youth?  I’m not the only one?  Good.  Okay, on to the review.

            This was just as beautiful as I remembered it from his Lord of the Rings movies years ago (which I also saw in the theater with my father, aka the guy that got me to read Tolkien in the first place).  Everything looked familiar, like I was going to visit an old friend, and at this point if you have read the books and seen the movies, Bilbo Baggins is an old friend to you too.  I must admit, it was great seeing Ian McKellen returning to the role of Gandalf too.  Considering the large part that he plays in The Hobbit, the fact that he was willing and able to reprise his role as the grey wizard did a lot to put my mind at ease when it came to revisiting Middle Earth. 

            People that go into any Peter Jackson movie concerning this subject matter need to be ready for a slow burn.  This is not a bang-bang action Michael Bay-esque cinematic experience (though some of the camera work in the fight scenes did seem reminiscent of the Transformers director).  Jackson will build up this world, build up these characters, until the payoff seems almost secondary to the world he has created and this is no different.  I have heard both positive and negative things regarding this film, and one of the most loudly shouted negatives is the fact that they spend too much time in Bilbo’s house, that they don’t get into the adventure fast enough.  I must politely disagree as I loved this scene, regardless of the time it took to complete it.  This had all of the comic relief that remembered from Gimli in the Lord of the Rings movies and multiplies that by thirteen.  Each dwarf has their own personality and while there are a few that seem a bit more fleshed out than others (with good reason) they all share screen time and blend well.  If you thought the ensemble from The Lord of the Rings was a lot to manage, Jackson turned it up a notch here and does a phenomenal job of getting us to at least be interested in all of these characters, even the ones we are not intimately familiar with from earlier movies. 

            Once we actually get out into Middle Earth, the interactions do not stop between  the Dwarves, Gandalf and Bilbo.  In fact, by throwing an element of danger into the mix, we get to see that this group is more than capable of taking care of itself.  All of the highlights from the book are hit upon here as well.  We get to see the trolls, Rivendell, Gollum and the goblins.  Each interaction was well done and stayed relatively true to the source material from what I remember.  Having read the book and knowing the story, the element of danger is basically non-existent as we know that everyone makes it through to the Lonely Mountain in the end.  Jackson is then tasked with making the action sequences exciting in spite of the story.  This he does with expert craftsmanship, especially in the escape from the goblin kingdom and the final “battle” of the movie.  I say this loosely because those looking for another Helm’s Deep from the earlier movies will be a bit disappointed.  While that battle as well as the final battles from The Return of the King feature massive armies on each side, these are thirteen dwarves, a Hobbit and a wizard against smaller groups of enemies.  They are not nearly as epic and awe-inspiring at first glance, but they are powerful in the little moments that occur within each battle. 

That is what I will remember the most about The Hobbit.  Those little character moments, where we get to see what each individual is made of.  Where the scope of The Lord of the Rings was massive (hence the title about a grand ideal) The Hobbit is more centralized, more intimate (hence its title about a character).  Whether Tolkien did this on purpose all those years ago, I have no idea, but it fits well here. 

The bullet points:

High – The cast is perfect.  Each dwarf has their own personality and the guy they got to play Thorin does a great job of making the role his own and not just trying to ape the stellar job Viggo Mortensen did with Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings.  I was a little worried that that is exactly what would have happened, but the opening scene at Bag End dispelled all those fears.  Bilbo is wonderfully played as well and all the trepidation and skittishness that most, if not all, of us would feel if presented with any of the scenarios in this film is worn right on his sleeve.  I can not stress enough how good of a job is done to make us feel like this is someone completely out of their element.  Ian McKellen is a master at his craft, that’s all you need to know.

High – The setting is beautiful and the camerawork in the larger travel sequences is breathtaking.  This is something that those familiar with The Lord of the Rings should be used to, but it doesn’t get old.  Peter Jackson does a great job of making Middle Earth feel as important as another character in the film and not just a throwaway set-piece. 

Low – The add-ons.  There is a lot of stuff to soak up in Tolkien’s world.  He lays it all out for us in his multiple books on the subject, and I heard that Jackson and his co-writers were trying to fit other bits and pieces of Middle Earth lore into The Hobbit.  However, at times it almost felt like they were doing it to just make more movie.  The white Orc, or just the orcs in general being included in this movie, while tying it into the previous films, feels like they are reaching to create villains so that they can justify three movies.  The same can be said for the Necromancer storyline that is only hinted at in the first movie.  I have no problem with this movie being stretched into three films (even though it’s only one book) and I know that Jackson is not going to make three bad movies just because he knows we will all shell out our money to see them, his reverence to the source material is pretty evident at this stage of the game.  I am also not implying that any of these characters or their stories were poorly written (in fact the white orc is quite interesting) but are they necessary is the question that should have been asked. The stone giants throwing rocks at eachother on the other hand is just graphics department masturbation and was probably the worst part of the movie for me. 

Low – While I realize that in the original text, everyone understood everyone else regardless of race, with English being the common language, it just felt weird to have the trolls and especially the goblins be so well versed in that common language, especially since the orcs spoke only in their own tongue (with the aid of subtitles for our benefit).  It just felt…off, and in a movie that was pretty seamless in terms of incorporating a lot of things together, that little bit stood out. 

High – When the dwarves had to take to the trees at the end of the movie, did anyone else catch Gandalf and Thorin’s exchange?  “Out of the frying pan…and into the fire” which just happens to be the name of the chapter that that takes place in the book.  I don’t think that blatant homage of calling out chapter names happens anywhere else (and I honestly don’t even remember any other chapter titles to check it) but that kind of specific nod to the source material adds a little bit more to the people that have read the book and remember random specifics such as that. 

High – I actually liked the fact that we saw so little of Smaug in this movie.  This was a set-up to that conflict and really was not about the dragon as much as it was about the quest to get to him.  Showing more of Smaug was unnecessary at this juncture and was one of the only instances in a Peter Jackson movie where I have seen the “less is more” mantra utilized.

Low – It’s long.  Like, uncomfortable to sit in my seat for that long kind of long.  It was chock full of movie and every bit was visually intriguing, but holy shit I am too old to sit in theater seats for three hours.

In short, go see this movie.  It is well worth the inflated price of admission and I would imagine that even if you are not a fan of Tolkien’s work you will find something to like in it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Restraining Order

I drew this a while ago, but I have a feeling that the reason Clooney doesn't make another appearance probably has more to do with my inability to get the likeness down as opposed to any legal action.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Should Have Seen the Look on Your Face

This seems like a pretty standard gag someone in their position would try and pull, right?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Comic Review: Mars Attacks KISS one shot

            Yesterday netted quite the haul of comic books as many of the titles on my pull list had new issues released yesterday.  Unfortunately I got in late last night and was only able to partake in a small sample of last yesterday’s riches.  The latest issue of Transformers: Robots in Disguise did not disappoint and is quickly becoming one of the best books on the market as the action is fast paced and the twists and turns are expertly crafted, not to mention the fact that the artwork is cartoony enough to clearly carry that nostalgia of the cartoon while detailed to the point of fitting with the darker subject matter of this book.  I can already tell without reading any of the other comics I obtained this week that that will be crowned as best of the best.

            Unfortunately I already reviewed Transformers: RID at an earlier date, so I fought off sleep and cracked open Mars Attacks KISS, the latest in a month of Mars Attacks one shots featuring the characters currently under IDW’s publishing thumb.  

            Many younger people do not realize that Mars Attacks was a series of collectible cards back in the day.  Hell, some have no idea what these aliens are while a few vaguely recognize them from the Tim Burton movie in the nineties.  The covers to the Mars Attacks… series of one shots are therefore crafted to look like those cards of yesteryear.  I must say that this works incredibly well as not only a design element, but the art itself actually has a vague correlation to the story.  I love the painted artwork and the way that Ray Dillon uses the light from each individual’s “powers” as not only the primary, but the only light source just gives it a really nice feel to it, even if we are watching a human get torched right there on the cover.  The triangle effect that Dillon creates works very well as a design element as well. 

9/10 – I would like a painting of this to hang in my house.  Dillon has a real knack for light and shadow and the aliens are creepily-awesome.

            Chris Ryall does a good job of fusing the two subjects together pretty seamlessly.  As weird as it sounds, this story feels like it could fit right into place between the various storylines that Ryall writes in the regular KISS book, the same formula is followed for the most part and it all is believable in the context that it is placed in.

            All that being said, the writing is pretty bland, boring and even formulaic at times.  The “twist” ending that the kids involved are actually young versions of the original band, and the reason that they take the persona’s they do, including the makeup, is so that the lone remaining alien in their midst (who they take on as their guitar-tech by the way) does not feel like he is garnering any negative attention from other people is just weird and seems forced.  The concept, while by no means is it fresh and new, is at least consistent with the universe it’s placed in and relatively fun. 

            The problem lies in the little things, the actual execution of the plot and the dialogue leave a lot to be desired.  I kind of feel bad for Ryall because it feels like the whole Mars Attacks… concept came from the higher ups and he had to shoehorn two different concepts together for the sake of selling more cards or comics or something.  That does not forgive him for poor writing on the actual issue itself but I can understand why he may not have given it his best effort.

2/10 – Very unimpressive story born from a concept probably forced upon the writer.  It may not have been his idea to do this particular mash-up but he cashed the check so he should have delivered.

            Let’s start out by saying that this is definitely a step up from the art in the regular KISS book.  That is not saying much though and the art by Alan Robinson in this book is only marginally better in many places.  Yeah, the aliens look cool, but that’s more a product of their initial design than anything.  I do like how Robinson incorporated the design of the KISS costumes and makeup with the domed-heads of the aliens.  Some of the story elements were interesting, the way that the aliens used their new KISS-powers to kill humans along were visually appealing, but the issue itself was very inconsistent.  There were a couple panels, and a couple pages even, that were well done and I really liked, but others where they seemed generic.  Maybe there was nothing on there that Robinson found interesting, or that he wanted to draw, but he still needed to show a bit more consistency, especially in the face of a weak script.

This page is just graphically awesome.  From the characters to the sound effect and all of the textures.  You can tell that Robinson liked making this page as much as I liked looking at it.

Probably the best all around page in the book as the storytelling is perfect, that third panel where it's the beat before the payoff, phenomenal use of a pause.  The art here is great as well.  

This on the other hand: lame writing and the art is marginal at best, especially the hand on the far left of the page.  What the hell happened there?

This is when it was confirmed to me that Chris Ryall had checked out of this book.  When the hands of the Elder, the all powerful being in the KISS-verse claps and crushes an entire invading force of aliens, and that is your big resolution to this threat...really?  I just paid $3.99 for that?

4/10 – Some good, some bad, but not much to really get too excited about.  I’d like to see Robinson’s take on a book that he is fully invested in as I can see potential for quality work, it just has not consistently materialized here.

Overall:  3/10 – Aside from the cover, which is awesome, the whole book reeks of inconsistency.  There’s a decent formula for a plot but it is not carried through to an adequate conclusion, and the art goes from good to okay at the turn of a page.     

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What's the point?

No one wants to see the Sham-Wow guy during a commercial break in a porno.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Glimpse of Things to Come

            In the next few weeks, I’ll be wrapping up the Waffle Flavored Revenge storyline.  After that, things don’t slow down in the least for Shrimpy and his crew.  Here is a quick peak of what’s on tap for the coming year.

  • A bunch of new characters that will have an immediate and surprisingly lasting impact on the “Shrimpy’s” gang.
  • Sluggy goes to a prom…yup, you read that right.
  • Shrimpy gets a new pet, and Sluggy hatches a hare-brained scheme to exploit it.
  • Shrimpy unleashes his inner good samaritan as he becomes a volunteer at a hospital
  • A case of mistaken identity lands Shrimpy in a nutty place
  • The first Eat @ Shrimpy’s music festival 
  • A couple Eat @ Shrimpy’s art books, containing the colored covers for the series as well as other goodies.  Look for the announcement for the first art book next week.

As you can see, it’s going to be a busy year for Shrimpy and the gang.  If you have any suggestions of things you want to see, especially regarding the Tuesday articles, feel free to let me know in the comments section.  If you want copies of any of the strips published over the last year for your own personal collection, contact me and I can get that out to you.  I hope you all have a great new year and thank you very much for the time you take out of your day to stop by and see what the guys are up to.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Could things have taken a turn for the worse?  Check back next time to find out!

Friday, January 4, 2013

For No Good Reason

I have yet to come across a good reason to save poop in jars, and honestly, if Sluggy thought he could recreate The Mighty Fishstick out of his own excrement (like a poop snowman!) then he obviously has his own mental health to worry about.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Comic Review: Punk Rock Jesus #6

            It seems relatively appropriate (in my mind anyway) that I review the penultimate issue of Punk Rock Jesus because one of my earlier reviews was the first issue (way back in July).  Since then, it has consistently been the best comic I have read all year, with each issue revealing a little more of the iceberg that we were going to inevitably crash into once issue six rolled around. 

            I still love the simplicity and the design of the covers.  They make great use of the solid background color to allow not only the cover itself to pop off the shelf, but also the brightly colored image on the cover to really pull you in.  This contrast from the dark, brooding, and sometimes muddy interior art does a great job of reeling you in to the book.  If I was just picking this book up fresh, I would definitely be drawn to the covers more than anything else on the shelf. 

            The image itself for issue six is a bit “hit you over the head” in its directness (which is one thing that Murphy has had fallen back on quite a bit in the series) but it is pretty much expected that you would receive at least one “crucifix” pose by the time the series ended.  The fact that Chris is posed against the backdrop of the upside down cross also creates an interesting mirrored design element while also highlighting the fact that many of Chris’s decision make him seem very un-Christ like, as well as possibly foreshadowing events toward the end of the book.

10/10 – A very powerful cover that is not only well drawn but designed the right way.  As the apex of Jesus’ life had him up on the cross, the final issue of this series should naturally end with its own “Jesus” in the typical Christ-like pose.

            Murphy further proves that while this story is titled Punk Rock Jesus, it is more about the redemption of Thomas McKael, the bodyguard tasked with protecting Chris from harm.  We finally get a big reveal about Thomas’s past, which if you haven’t read it, go now, I’ll wait, it’s too good to miss.  I never saw it coming and honestly didn’t think Murphy would even address it, but holy shit that was a good piece of writing.  It really fleshed out why Thomas was so hell-bent on protecting Chris from the get-go and where his faith came from.  The depth that Murphy gives him makes us care even more for him later when he makes the decision to give his life to allow the kids to escape.

            I was wary when I finished issue five.  I really wondered how Murphy was going to wrap everything up in just one more issue, and really, where he was going with the story in general.  It was a good story, don’t get me wrong, but it was a matter of trying to figure out what his plan was for these characters and how it was all going to come together in issue six.  Spoiler alert: he delivered on all of it.  The Thomas stuff was great, as well as the various revelations that popped up regarding the baby thrown in the water way back in issue one.  While I don’t want to give too much away, Chris’s fate is a little surprising as well as the way the entire comic wraps up, and not in a good way.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the way Murphy handled Chris, but the final page, while beautifully rendered, leaves me feeling a little hollow.  Everything gets wrapped up well, but that last little bit, just kind of gave me a “that’s it?” kind of feeling.  It almost felt like Murphy knew he had to give the “bad guy” his just desserts but ran out of room so conjured that up in desperation. 

7/10 – Murphy wraps everything up masterfully in his final issue of the series even though the final sequence felt a little out of place.  The heart of this book and the true star of this series really shines through in the end though and he needs to be commended for giving us that big payoff.

            The art is still the highlight of the book.  The massive scenes that Murphy paints just using ink and zipitone are more impressive than anything I have seen in a comic book this year.  While he exhibits a master’s touch in the large scenes, it’s the smaller, more emotional moments that make you realize the true power of Murphy as a storyteller.  Small bits such as the look on the face of the characters at key moments, or the way he paces the story to let the moments that need to breathe really do so.  All that completely overshadows some of the more blatantly obvious symbols that I found unnecessary (though I suppose they are warranted given the topics covered in the book).  This is not just a comic book, this is art in its highest form and the fact that it is ending is, honestly, a little sad.

As each revelation about his father and his past is revealed, we can feel Thomas breaking down more and more and as the revelation about the death of his parents washes over him, you know what he is going to do in the coming pages, whether he is currently in custody or not.

This is how action sequences should be, quickly paced and chaotic instead of acrobatics with punches on the end.

This issue was incredibly heavy with dialogue, but it's the panels like the two on the bottom, where everything is quiet and we can all think what Thomas is thinking, that's what makes this book stand out.

Everyone has an emotional reaction to what is going on here, and Murphy does a great job of showing that.  The expressiveness of the eyes is not wasted as every page and every panel is full of importance.

10/10 – The good outweighs the bad by a large margin and for that it has proven to be the most consistently well-drawn book I have seen in years.

Overall:  9/10 – A little let down in the area of the story can’t dull the polish that is the book in its entirety.  This has consistently been the best value in comic books at $2.99 per issue and will be missed from my monthly pull list for sure.  I just can’t wait to see what Murphy has lined up for his next project.