I don’t want you guys thinking I’m slacking off and not reading trades just because I’m not posting them. In fact, I’ve got a huge pile of trades next to my desk here just waiting for reviews, but I’ve been slacking off when it comes to posting about them. That’s a little better right? Anyway, as I mentioned in my post about the new SyFy (ick) show Warehouse 13, I recently read Doug TenNapel’s Creature Tech from Top Shelf and it reminded me a lot of that show. I’ve also recently read Wormwood Gentlemen Corpse Volume 2: It Only Hurts When I Pee by Ben Templesmith for IDW. They’re both in the sci-fi and fantasy genre so I figured they’d go well together.
CREATURE TECH (Top Shelf)
Written and drawn by Doug TenNapel
My bossman Justin Aclin recommended this book to me and I didn’t really know anything about it. It wasn’t until after I looked TenNapel up on Wiki that I discovered he was the brain behind the Earthwork Jim games, which I loved even though the first one is still crazy hard.
The story’s about Michael Ong, a scientist who gets relegated to the Research Technical Institute (dubbed Creature Tech by the locals) by the US government. His former pastor, current man of religion dad lives in town as well, but they’ve got their problems. The black and white graphic novel (which, as far as I’m concerned, means an original work created specifically for the larger page count provided for by a trade, not just any collection of sequential art, that’s pretentious) focuses on Michael dealing with the Shroud of Turin, a reincarnated ghost scientist, a giant bug lab assistant, falling in love with a girl and an alien, multi armed chest plate. It’s kind of like the current Blue Beetle with some of the quirkiness of Gail Simone’s All New Atom thrown in (loved her run on that book).
I really dug TenNapel’s art style (you can really see the Earthworm Jim style in there) and the story was quirky without getting too extreme in that column. Ong is a fun, reluctant hero who has some obvious personal problems that he seems to be dealing with (he definitely has an arc, which is nice). Oh, plus, there’s giant space eels and other cool looking aliens. I highly recommend checking this book out and I wonder if TenNapel’s got plans for any future installments? Maybe I should read that Wikipedia page I linked too above…
But instead, on to the next review!
WORMWOOD GENTLEMAN CORPSE VOLUME 2: IT ONLY HURTS WHEN I PEE (IDW)
Written and drawn by Ben Templesmith
Like most other people I first heard about Ben Templesmith because he drew/painted the original 30 Days of Night along with some of the other follow-up minis. I’m not a big fan of that book, but it’s definitely one of those slap-yourself-in-the-forehead, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moments. A few years back Templesmith started up his own creation called Wormwood Gentleman Corpse, which is a little worm dude who inhabits corpses. The funny thing is that I didn’t even realize he was the worm and not the corpse until halfway through the first series. I can be a bit dense sometimes. He’s got a few sidekicks in the form of a robot man (Pendulum) and a stripper girl with tattoos that come to life (I can’t find her name after looking for one whole minute). I was a big fan of the take no prisoners craziness of the original mini-series, but lost track of the story in the following minis and issues. Luckily, I was able to pick up the second and third volumes and started reading through them.
This volume finds Wormwood cursed and needing the blessing of the leprechaun queen. In this mythology leprechauns are crude, gibberish-speaking little people with a penchant for violence and humping robots. In the process of trying to get the blessing to get rid of the sickness/curse, Wormwood runs into some squid-like invaders who he had a run-in with in a previous adventure. There’s also a story about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who are being kept satiated in a hotel with a steady supply of prostitutes, food and drugs.
What I like about Templesmith’s writing is that he doesn’t shy away from things, while still not going too over the top in a bad way. There’s plenty of over-the-topness, like when Wormwood shows his companions his “suit chamber” which is, of course, a room full of preserved corpses, including Jesus’ (he decides on a little girl’s). There’s also a running gag about the genitalia Wormwood built for Pendulum. Good clean fun, you know? It’s kind of like Hellboy, but if Hellboy was an ass who had been around a lot longer, hopped dimensions and made a lot more enemies than a demon from hell.
Oh, also, Templesmith’s art is sick. Thanks to the supplemental material in the back (bonus points for the bonus material, as always), we can see the steps he takes in creating his art. It seems to be a combination of penciling, painting and then digital painting. It’s a super cool and unique style that a few others have tried to copy, but can’t quite get. Whether you like Templesmith or not, you can’t argue that he’s one of the more original artists out there. And, while we’re talking about his style, I really liked how the 30 Days of Night movie captures his style, while still keeping the realism of actual people. I can’t wait to read the other trade and track down the first one.