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Ex Sanguine #3: A Lonely Word Review — December 22, 2012

Ex Sanguine #3: A Lonely Word Review


Saul Adams is a vampire, but not one that we usually get shown in the likes of True Blood or the old Bela Lugosi movies. He wants nothing to do with his instincts. He has struggled to keep his bloodlust at bay and live as normal a life as possible in a small town. This all went well, until a serial killer struck the town. The Sanguine killer has drawn undue attention to him. Diner waitress, Ashley, has taken a macabre liking to him. She sets him up with one of the murders, but this only feeds his instincts, bringing them back to the fore. The end of issue #2 shocked us when we saw Saul and Ashley making love in front of a mirror, allowing her to see Saul in his true form. The story itself is like a twisted love story, but with a horrendous edge, as Tim Seeley has hit the reader square in the face with a gritty story and fantastic artwork. The story’s main subject in the first two issues is a pen, but what is so special about it? Why has Ashley been killing people associated with it?

Agent Quinn was investigating a case years ago and was held captive by the perpetrator. He tortured her and drank her blood. This is something she has never forgotten and has had a severe impact on her. So much so that the case of the Sanguine Killer has brought back horrific memories for her. Saul Adams sits in his darkened room reading and looking after his tropical fish. Spotting one dead on the surface, he takes it to the sea to bury it, so to speak, but he is alerted to a rat running by. This is no normal rat, though, as it changes to near-human form as he captures it. We now know that there is more than Saul trying to keep their true form hidden from the general public. They exist side by side, but the rats have invaded Saul’s territory. Something that he won’t put up with.

Ashley is in the diner, having a laugh with two local guys, but her mood soon changes to one of hatred. Throughout Ashley’s life, she has always been accused of lying. Something that has stuck with her all through her life. This time is no different, as she accuses a customer of stealing money. But, again, nobody believes her. She storms off and thinks back to when her father dealt with her lies by using her blood to write his books. This is where the pen comes in. It’s the same pen that her father used to write his books. Now she does the same to write on the walls, using her victims’ blood. The woman who accused her of lying is her victim, as Ashley slits her throat. Saul appears angry with Ashley, as her actions are still drawing undue attention to him, However, seeing the woman’s body with blood everywhere, he decides to have a little snack while he is there. As the diner’s boss is locking up, we see a knife-wielding shadow ready to claim another victim.

Tim Seeley really has invented a good storyline. With the introduction of the rats to the story, it will only get better. Vivid and colorful artwork really does the murder scenes justice. This makes them stand out. It’s another 8/10 again, as it keeps the pace really well.

It Girl and the Atomics #5 Review —

It Girl and the Atomics #5 Review

I really enjoy this story that James S. Rich has created here. It’s lighthearted, but still has the standard superhero storyline running through it. Luna is such a good character, both as herself and her alter ego, It Girl, a typical teenage girl in both guises. Mike Norton’s artwork really deserves a mention too, as it also keeps up the overall fun of the story, with bright psychedelic colors and cleverly drawn characters. Luna’s thought-to-be dead sister has been revealed as her enemy, Lala Wah-Wah, her nemesis in the video game Luna played. She can also jump dimensions as the clone on Nana and has transported It Girl inside the video game and into her own domain. The video game is being played again, but this time it’s for real.

At Dr. Flem’s lab, the rest of the Atomics are wondering where everybody went. They soon find out, as they discover them inside the game. In a great twist, just as Lala Wah-Wah is getting the upper hand over It Girl in the game, another It Girl appears, controlled by Josephine Lombard. Because it’s an open game, anyone can join at any time. The Slug and Black Crystal join the game to even up the sides… and the battle begins! In a distinctive Tron-like world, they all trade blows, chasing each other around. It’s all beautifully drawn by Norton, drawing the reader into the game along with It Girl and her team. Skunk joins the game, much to the annoyance of Nana, as it was him who all accidentally killed her with his Skunk gas. He just wants closure, as he never had a chance to apologize to Nana for killing her and has carried the guilt around with him for years. His sympathy falls on deaf ears, as Nana takes him out the game with a burst of energy. The way that Mike Norton highlights different versions of video games during the fight scenes is a breath of fresh air, very cleverly done. It’s at its best when in a very street fighter type of screenshot. The final fight is about to commence! With one powerful uppercut, performed by Dr. Flem on his joypad, Lana knocks Nana out and is then transported out of the game and back to reality in Dr. Flem’s lab. The rest of the Atomics await her and Dr. Flem tells them that she won’t be back, as Luna had knocked her a few dimensions from them. So it will take a long while for her to find her way back. This story arc comes to an end, with the team either sleeping or reading, except for Luna, who is talking to her real sister, Nana. She realizes that, although she misses her sister, she knows that she has made the right decision in joining up with the Atomics again.

A fitting conclusion to the story. Maybe a little rushed, but it was a satisfying end for all concerned. A nice story full of cool references, which all looked so colorful and friendly, but not to take away from a strong story running right through it. A new arc starts next year. One I will definitely be following. An extra mark this issue for a good ending! 9/10

Guarding the Globe #4 Review — December 18, 2012

Guarding the Globe #4 Review

This is a really clever group of superheroes. Well-balanced and truly unique, at times. The story has jumped about a little, but I think that is an indication of the way the team’s resources are being spread thinly around the globe. At the end of issue #3, we saw Japandroid being possessed and standing up against her old friends, as she is half human and half machine The Guardians are really up against it. This is all new to the Guardians. Will they cope with fighting one of their own? Read on.

Japandroid transforms to an eight-legged killing machine and Chupacabra stands up to her chopping off one of her legs with his razor sharp claws. The rest of the team notice that the soul of Japandroid is still inside her body, trying desperately to get out. This has deadly consequences, as she enters her nuclear core to destroy the creature within, not knowing that her body contains millions of eggs. They try to escape her body as she goes into meltdown, but Japandroid holds her own. As her core explodes, it takes the creatures with it. Another job well done by The Guardians, but at the ultimate price, it seems. In Virginia Donald, another Guardian is watching his boy Donny struggle at the school track meet. His wife reminds him how fortunate they are that he is healthy. She refers to Brit’s son Brit Jr., who has Autism, but that doesn’t matter, as Donald is a perfectionist and hates losing at anything. His abruptness doesn’t go down well with his wife, which is another indication that not all the team members are level-headed.

Back down at Guardian HQ, Robot stands over the dead body of Japandroid. Scanning it, he sees that none of the Alien Entity is present. As her body is highly radioactive, no one else can enter the room, apart from Robot. The rest of the team look on, obviously distressed. Her body is contained for safety reasons, but this may not be the last time we see her, as the team couldn’t understand her workings from the day they met. So you never know. Outrun strangely seems the most upset at what had happened, but Best Tiger has worked out why. She has been possessed by something or someone. He had worked it out by the way the wind whistled under her armpit when she ran. Strange, but clever. The entity leaves her body and escapes, leaving Outrun wondering what had happened.

The entity looks for ‘Set’, her accomplice, but is horrified when he is thrown through a train and, indeed, through her body. What could have done this? Whatever it was now has the entity under his power. I think the people she was possessing are going to be the people she will ultimately need to help her.

This issue is a marked improvement, with the introduction of possibly another two characters. A tight story is kept ticking along. The artwork is brilliant on the other hand, expertly drawn panels and frames bring the story and The Guardians to life. An extra point, taking it to 8/10.

Deadpool #3 Review —

Deadpool #3 Review

This is the one Marvel NOW! title that I genuinely look forward to with every release. Mainly because Deadpool is my kind of hero. The story and, indeed, the artwork work so well to portray the unhinged nature of Deadpool. Brian Posehn and Gary Duggan are doing a good job with the story, as we see the dead presidents trying to destroy America, with Deadpool dispatching them one at a time back to where they came. Tony Moore’s artwork stands out really well, showing the brutality of the Deadpool way of dealing with the problems in front of him. So on to my review of issue #3.

Issue #3 starts inside the headquarters of Doctor Strange. Deadpool sits with the ghost of Ben Franklin and Agent Preston pleading for help. In a typical Deadpool moment, he actually talks to the reader as he references back to issue #1. A really cool distraction, which works well. Deadpool has a complete disregard for authority or, indeed, any sort of procedure, finding it hard to put up with Doctor Strange telling him what to do. But that’s the way this has to work.

The Necromancer has overstepped the mark by bringing back the presidents, as they have come back without their humanity. As George Washington tortures the Necromancer, Doctor Strange, Deadpool, and Agent Preston appear. Deadpool and Preston take on the presidents in the room, as Doctor Strange transports the Necromancer to the astral plane to try and find out where he got his powers. It turns out that the Necromancer brought his hamster back to life when he was young. He then knew he was special. Soon, he was surprisingly recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. Back in the room, all hell has broken out, as Deadpool struggles to hold his own while Preston goes for help. Great references fill the air, as the presidents tell a bit of their history while they stab and shoot Deadpool from every angle. Gerald Ford, in typical clumsy manor, stumbles into the tail rotor of the president’s helicopter. Doctor Strange appears to help Deadpool remove a sword from his chest, which was inserted by George Washington. After meditating, Doctor Strange forges a magical blade that will enable Deadpool to dispatch the presidents with one blow.

On the last page, Doctor Strange pulls Deadpool to the side to tell him that he noticed something about him. It seems his cancer is on the way back. This is something that Deadpool has had to live with after getting his regenerative powers. The cancer is a trade-off, but it’s usually kept at bay. Now, the only thing that stands between America and total annihilation is Deadpool and his newly empowered sword. His complete disregard for his own safety and his underlying death wish could be the thing that tips the balance in his favor.

Another brilliant issue, as the presidents trade insults with Deadpool and, indeed, themselves, full of off the cuff humour and brilliant references throughout. I need a Deadpool fix more often, but as Marvel’s release schedule is so messed up at the moment, it’s nearly a weekly, which suits me fine. A very well-deserved 9/10.

The Crow #5 Review —

The Crow #5 Review


This issue brings the current story arc to an end. A story that could have been a bit better in its substance, but one that has picked up the pace a little towards this concluding issue. John Shirley has still managed to capture the overall feel and character of The Crow well throughout. The dark, moody atmosphere is there, which is good. Without it, the story wouldn’t have worked. Kevin Colden, on the other hand, has done a fantastic job with the artwork. It’s dark, moody, and really atmospheric. Everything you could ask for in a Crow story. Back to the story, which is sometimes a little hard to follow, as it jumps about quite a bit, but not without reason. As we know, the character of The Crow is an embodiment of the crow spirit. One of vengeance that brings ultimate revenge to people who have wronged. In this case, in revenge to his fiancée being kidnapped and her body being possessed by another spirit. He has now been transported to the underworld, where spirits are helping him find his loved one.

At the end of issue #4, The Crow is up against an Ikiryo, the only thing that can kill him. In a few beautifully drawn pages, we see The Crow struggle to kill his foe. Even dismembering and decapitating fails to finish him off. He unexpectedly gets help from Majo, the spirit that has yet to make an appearance in the flesh, as she has been imprisoned in a casket all through the story. Eagerly, she leaves her prison and feasts upon the Ikiryo, leaving The Crow to continue his quest for Haruko. Mount Osore and the depths of Hell is his destination. Toko’s spirit has found her, but he warns him that she is guarded by an enormous beast, which has been promised Haruko’s soul by the next moon. Toko cannot follow, as his time is near. His soul is almost drained of life and The Crow must battle for his loved one on his own. Soro is told that Biotrope will no longer cover up his madness, but he now has the power of the underworld to help his cause.

He makes his way through the many hells that stretch out in front of him. The Fifth Hell of Crushing Desire is first as he escapes a dragon. He then faces The War Maker’s Hell, fighting off many dead soldiers. As he passes through the Realm of Animal Minds, he meets up with Majo, who gives him something to help guide him the rest of the way. A dead crow will be his guiding light. The Realm of Hungry Ghosts is next. As he reaches the end, he is greeted by the sight of the last thing to stand in his way. The Great Lord of Cruelty is ready to feast on Haruko. The dead crow tricks him into showing Haruko to him. The Crow offers himself as a sacrifice, as he can’t live without her. Without hesitation, the Great Lord accepts this and quickly swallows him. Inside, he finds the spirit of Haruko and promptly exits through the head of the Great Lord. As he does this, we see him actually exit the body of Soro. One bullet kills the body of Haruko, finally setting her spirit free to rest in peace. They can be together again to join the spirits once and for all, because, as we know, The Crow is already dead and the spirit of Jamie Osterberg can now join her.

A good ending to this story arc, especially the way Jamie made his way through the various depths of Hell. Well-drawn and a fitting ending. 8/10

Comic Book Origins: Deadpool — November 29, 2012

Comic Book Origins: Deadpool

Everyone has their favorite comic book hero or villain, in some case. Some with good intentions and wanting to help humanity in any way they can, others want to destroy everything that is good. The character I am writing this origin piece about is Deadpool. Someone who has straddled both sides of the good and evil divide throughout a checkered existence. He’s not everyone’s favorite and, indeed, a vast majority of readers hate him, but I personally put that down to a lack of understanding, in most part. Deadpool is completely ruthless in getting what he wants, but the thing that made me a fan is his one-liners and witty come backs. He isn’t called ‘The Merc with the Mouth’ for nothing. His wit is as sharp as his swords. So, for Deadpool virgins and fans alike, I hope this origin piece will be a good introduction and an accurate homage, respectively.

Wade Winston Wilson was born in Ohio to a family as dysfunctional then as he would turn out to be later in his life. He constantly ran away from home in his teenage years, joining gangs to get street wise. This accelerated to him as he received training from various organizations, until he took the decision to become a mercenary himself. His first few missions didn’t go well, as his over-enthusiasm and lack of discipline caused failure after failure. Instead of facing up to failure, he just changed his name and moved on. He has been known among others as ‘The Crimson Comedian’, ‘Chiyanosake’, and, most fittingly, ‘The Regeneratin’ Degenerate’, which shall become apparent a little later.

Wade moved to Canada to try and get more work. This is where things started to go wrong for him. He met a man called Wade T. Winston who, through time, becomes one of his targets. Agreeing to take the job, his rashness rears its head again, as he kills his target’s wife by mistake. Wade T. disappears, leaving Wade W. to take his name, as he held Canadian citizenship, which enabled him to move freely around the country. Disaster strikes him when he is diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. He joins Department H, who is trying to find a cancer cure. After they failed to deliver, he was sent to the Hospice. This is where he first meets the mysterious figure, ‘Death’, who only he can see, as he has been close to it several times. The Weapon-X program is his destination. The idea of this program was to splice a human with the regenerative properties of the Wolverine. The program was a success, at first, until his state of mind was severely altered into the unhinged character he became. He can now regenerate his body. He can even re-join his severed head as long as it is in contact with his body, which must surely be beneficial to him. However, like most things, it has a trade-off. His cancer became accelerated, covering his body and face in numerous weeping ulcers. This is why he now wears the uniform and mask we all know and love, very much like Spider-Man’s, but with his famous swords slung on his back. His name was derived from the lottery that the guards had, betting on who would die next during the Weapon-X Program. They called it The Deadpool. So, from this point on, Deadpool was born.

Deadpool broke the superhero mold, as he showed signs of schizophrenic tendencies and a macabre interest in death, which manifests itself in the methods that he uses as he carries out his actions. As mentioned earlier, his sense of humor is second to none, taking down foes with words sharper than his swords. His weapons are legendary, from swords to machine guns and everything in between, which somehow appear from nowhere. The fabled ‘magic satchel’ is where he produces his wide array of accessories, which, of course, makes him very acrobatic, as he has no weight to carry. A character named Blind Al has been intertwined in many of Deadpool’s publications, playing the part of Mother, Housekeeper, and even Prisoner. They constantly played very cruel tricks on each other, but seemed to need each other to stay somewhat sane. Deadpool has become a bit of an enigma. Personally, I think he is really cool, with an edge that is sometimes missing in other better-loved characters. Things changed recently, as he has become mortal, but his disregard for life and fascination of death keeps him on a thin line, as he takes risks at every turn.

He has appeared in many publications, including Cable and Deadpool, Deadpool and the X-Men, Dark Reign, Uncanny X-Force, among others. He has, of course, presently claimed one of the Marvel NOW! slots. I, for one, am delighted. So, ladies and gentlemen, this is the journey Wade Winston Wilson embarked on to become the legendary Deadpool, entertaining readers for the last 21 years, with, hopefully, many more to come.

Deadpool #2 Review — November 24, 2012

Deadpool #2 Review

In typical Deadpool fashion, there is a recap page before the story gets under way. It’s a baby Deadpool that gives us the recap. That’s the reason I like Deadpool so much as a character. His razor-sharp wit is second to none and, even in the short recap, it stands out. His badass attitude is also a plus for me, killing at will with an array of different kill shots. Let me put it this way: he is never predictable and boring. Not everyone’s favorite, but definitely one of mine. Issue #1 left us with Deadpool trying to keep the resurrected Presidents of America from taking the country back and destroying it. He has already taken care of F.D.R., so who is next in his sights?

A nice vision starts the story, as Abe Lincoln had shot Deadpool in issue #1. He dreams of himself being on the beach with two scantily-clad girls fighting over him, then, out of the blue, She-Hulk appears, giving him a smacker and bringing him back to life. Benjamin Franklin stands over Deadpool as he recovers. This is just a typical day in the life of the Regeneratin’ Degenerate.

Kennedy and Washington are using the Necromancer to raise an army at a military graveyard. As he summons them from their slumber, they awaken, hungry for blood and revenge, happy to serve under their general once more. The artwork from Tony More is outstanding here, as the dead rise from the ground in all their gory glory. Meanwhile, Deadpool suits up again after the fist-sized hole in his head heals up. Benjamin Franklin asks him if he is going to phone The Avengers or The Fantastic Four. Another cool reference by the writers. Deadpool replies, saying that those guys hate him, which, as we know, is true. He phones agent Prescott to report in and tells her the presidents are on the rampage.

In the Los Angeles Zoo, Roosevelt is hunting all the animals he can, punching bears and training his hunting rifle on many others. Deadpool arrives with his usual unpredictability, asking Meer Kats for directions. This guy is off the charts! As he fires a shot through the head of Roosevelt, all hell breaks loose, Deadpool is thrown through the air by the electricity emanating from Roosevelt’s body. The sound of gunfire and all the commotion has alarmed the zoo’s animals and Deadpool is left on the sharp end of an elephant’s tusk, as it protrudes from his stomach. Hanging from the elephant, he fills Roosevelt with lead, followed by a kick to the teeth as he gets himself off the tusk. The elephant now has the President in a stranglehold. Deadpool takes this opportunity to snap a power line and use it to set him alight and, rather unfortunately, the elephant, too. Deadpool, Roosevelt, and Prescott require a specialist’s help and Dr. Strange seems to be the answer to their problems.

Some of the Deadpool humor might just seem a bit cheesy, at times, but that just sums him up for me. Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan have done a good job, so far, balancing a good story with humor, to good effect. Moore captures the brutality and poses of Deadpool brilliantly, especially the scene with the elephant. More of the same for issue #3, please. I give this an 8/10.