New 52 Trade Post: Red Hood & The Outlaws & Dial H Volume 1

red hood and the outlaws vol 1 redemption Red Hood & The Outlaws Volume 1: Redemption (DC)
Written by Scott Lobdell with Josh Williamson, drawn by Kenneth Rocafort
Collects Red Hood & The Outlaws #1-7

Red Hood & The Outlaws is a weird book. Aside from the fact that it’s one of the many New 52 comics that revolved around familiar relationships between characters who don’t know each other the way we knew them to have known each other, it also has a unique look thanks to Kenneth Rocafort’s beautiful art and focuses on a three person super group, something you rarely see.

It also deals with offbeat characters. This version of the Red Hood seems almost exactly the same as the one from the old continuity, he’s the second Robin who was murdered by the Joker only to be mysteriously resurrected sometime later though, now he’s been trained by mystical assassins. Furthermore, he’s a morally intriguing character who has no problem killing as long as the victim deserve it and also has a fierce loyalty to his latest group and a burning hatred for his past one. Meanwhile, Starfire is an alien exiled on Earth with a troubled past and a short memory for and a sexually liberal attitude towards humans.  And then there’s Arsenal who spends most of this trade being the jokester who can shoot arrows and fight like a mofo. They’re a loose group of comrades with a mysterious past that has something to do with the Teen Titans.

The story itself is Todd’s. He discovers that the mystical assassin group that trained him called the All Caste has been assaulted by an equally mysterious and mystical group called The Untitled. Starfire and Arsenal come along for the ride and wind up facing off against some other threats, revealing their character as they go. They’re less a superhero team and more a group of pals looking out for each other. I’m a big fan of how Lobdell approached this book. Sure, there’s a few side bad guys that could have done with beefier, less cliched backstories, but I enjoy this style of comic book storytelling that gives you bits and pieces of information as they go while focusing on character interactions. These are action stories, so keeping the momentum going is a plus in my book.

Also, did I mention how weird the book is? I like that too. It’s made all the better (and weirder) by Rocafort’s rad art. I’ve been a fan of his ever since I flipped through issues of Madame Mirage back in my days at Wizard. He’s perfectly suited for this book because he can do these big, impressive heroes while also pitting them against huge alien conglomerates and sending them through physics-bending locales. He can do it all and brings his own unique flair to it. I could look at these pages for days.

I enjoyed this trade as much as I did that first issue and will definitely be checking out future ones by this creative team. I’m hooked on the craziness.

dial h volume 1 into you Dial H Volume 1: Into You (DC)
Written by China Mieville, drawn by Mateus Santolouco with David Lapham & Riccardo Burchielli
Collects Dial H #0-6

Speaking of weird, how great is the Dial H for Hero concept? Some random man or woman stumbles upon an artifact that not only gives them superpowers, but actually turns them into different superhero identities when they spell out a word. So cool. I’ve been in love with this concept ever since I heard about it sometime in the 90s. I’m not sure if it was from an old issue of Adventure Comics I happened upon or the dial’s appearance in Superboy & The Ravers, but it sparked an instant love that spread to Will Pfeifer’s excellent HERO series.

So, when I first heard that DC was rejuvenating the concept in the New 52 Universe, I was intrigued. I’m not familiar with author China Mievelle’s work, but the fact that this concept I enjoy also appealed to this person from outside of comics was interesting. Needless to say, it didn’t take much arm-twisting to get me to read the first volume of Dial H.

I won’t get too far into the details of this first arc because, honestly, I’m not sure I quite absorbed them all after just the one reading. Basically, a schlub named Nelson accidentally comes across the H-Dial and uses it to avenge his fallen friend. In the process he meets another dial-wielder named Manteau and runs afoul of a mysterious villain called Ex Nihilo.

There’s a lot packed into these seven issues, but not to the point where you can’t possibly take it all in. Dial H actually reminds me of the kind of book Vertigo put out in the 80s when creators were trying out-there takes on established DC characters. It’s got the basic idea, but, as far as I can tell, has no connections to previous versions or the rest of the universe. I like that approach as well as the feeling that I need to read this book again to absorb it even more, possibly before reading the second volume whenever I eventually get my hands on it.

The common thread between these two books is that their odd takes on concepts I’m familiar with. They both definitely fit into the more offbeat corners of the New 52 DCU where I’ve also enjoyed books like Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. I appreciate that DC created these stranger places. I like seeing old favorites done in seriously new ways.

Halloween Scene Trade Post: Terror Inc.

TERROR INC. (Marvel)
Written by David Lapham, drawn by Patrick Zircher
Collects Terror Inc. Vol. 2 #1-5
When Marvel’s Terror Inc. came out from the adult-oriented MAX line in 2007, I had never read an appearance of the character, was not a fan of Lapham’s (haven’t read Stray Bullets, but HATED his run on Detective Comics) and yet, I really dug the book. It reminded me of the days when Vertigo was the home of weird, wild and violent versions of DC Characters no one really cared about. The idea is that a long time ago, this dude got cursed with eternal life, but his limbs would rot. As a bonus, he could get rid of the old parts and his body would accept new ones, integrate them into his body and read their memories. Nowadays he works as an assassin with his helper Mrs. Primo. After a lengthy flashback sequence explaining where he came from, Terror gets a job that turns out to be a set up benefiting a terrorist group. The rest of the story follows our hero as he eviscerates his enemies, absorbing more parts along the way than I can count.

Lapham does a good job of keeping the story tight and action-packed with lots of blood and gore to keep me interested. Plus, Zircher’s art in this book is just SICK. He does a great job of drawing everything from the monster hero to the super-hot Mrs. Primo and elaborate machines to intricately detailed guts. I liked the guy on Cable/Deadpool (a really under-rated bookto my mind) but he really got to flex some muscles on Terror Inc.

Even though it’s filled with blood, guts and curses, the book actually feels more like a big screen action movie with aspects from other genres. If I was a producer trying to get this movie made, I’d get Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (the guys who did Crank, Crank 2 and Gamer) to direct and see how they can do an action/horror movie. My only problem with the book is that Terror kept saying that the curse was in the arm Terror keeps from his long-dead wife, which doesn’t make sense with the story. Maybe I missed something. Anyone else read this book? Thoughts?

Trade Post: Brave & The Bold 1 and 2, Silverfish

2009-01-28
5:27:33 pm

Hey gang, still having trouble getting more than one post up per week, but hopefully they’re worth your while when they do pop up. I’ve been reading a lot of trades lately, even started fully going through the Wizard comic library again, so hopefully I’ll get more than the aforementioned one post per week. So, let’s jump in shall we?

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD VOL. 1: THE LORDS OF LUCK (DC)

Written by Mark Waid, drawn by George Perez

When this book first came out I was pretty excited, but it wasn’t the kind of book I wanted when it actually came out. I was looking for simple one-off stories featuring two great heroes put together in a strange situation drawn by one of the few, great living comic book artist legends who actually keeps upping his artistic quality in my opinion. So, when I found out it was actually an ongoing story I wasn’t really interested. Later on, I heard good things about the book and decided to give it another shot in trade form. Enter the trades.

I really enjoyed this book and am glad I read it in trade form actually because there’s a lot going on and I’m not sure if it came out on time, which would have meant I’d have an even harder time keeping track of everything. Waid really nails all of the characters, which include Batman, Hal Jordan, the current Blue Beetle, Supergirl, Lobo and others. It’s great to see a writer who I loved growing up still having the chops to write intricate, fun stories that both play off of and add to the rich DCU, especially when others don’t seem to be able to keep up as well anymore.

And speaking of keeping up, Perez kicks ass. This guy continues to blow me away with each new issue that comes out. I can’t be certain, but I think I first saw his art in Avengers when he relaunched it post-Heroes Return with Kurt Busiek. And even now I’m enjoying Legion of Three Worlds when it comes out. So, yeah, Perez kills it in the first six issues of B&TB. You get everything from great covers to gorgeous splash pages and even great faces. The man’s a master and he’s the perfect match with Waid for this book.

The story itself follows the heroes trying to get a hold of the Book of Destiny on multiple fronts at various times throughout the DCU. It’s the kind of story I want to read in my Justice League comics, not weird Tangent and Milestone stories forced upon the writer.

Oh also, bonus points for the annotations section in the back in which Waid lets the reader know where/when each of the characters appeared for the first time and a few other little tidbits, like the fact that Perez didn’t actually know how to play blackjack before drawing a scene involving the game. I love extras like this and it seems like a pretty simple and easy addition that only takes up a few extra pages.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD VOL. 2: THE BOOK OF DESTINY (DC)

Written by Mark Waid, drawn by George Perez and Jerry Ordway

As much as I loved the first volume, I can’t quite say all the same great things about Volume 2, which takes an opportunity to tell great silver age-type stories by having the Challengers of the Unknown reading through the Book of Destiny. I really like these stories, which feature the Silent Night, Hawkman, the new Atom, the original Teen Titans as kids, the Metal Men and others. But they’re not just random stories, they all have to do with the big villain of the story Megistus a new villain who could be pretty cool in the future.

My main problem with this volume is that Waid uses the old “two heroes team up, have different ways of doing things and then learn from each other by the end” storyline a time or two, which, normally wouldn’t be so bad, but in a collection like this it gets a little tired. The other problem is that Perez doesn’t do all six issues. I’ve got no problem with Jerry Ordway and he even does a great job on his issues, but I love me some Perez and it would have been awesome to see him draw the 12 or so character battle against Megistus in the last issue. Also, on the subject of Megistus, I felt like his character wasn’t really explained well.

Also, this collection earns no bonus points for extras because there are absolutely none. I’m guessing it’s because Waid had moved over to Boom by the time the book came out, but an editor could have done the exact same thing. Oh well, I’m still keeping this one in my collection, at least until I have a few beers and clean out my bookshelf again (it cuts down on the sentimentality).

SILVERFISH (Vertigo)

Written and drawn by David Lapham

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to think about David Lapham’s Silverfish, mostly because I could not stand his City of Crime story in Detective Comics from a few years back. But, I’ve heard great things about his other work, so I wanted to give something else he wrote a shot and Silverfish is pretty short, so it worked out pretty well.

And, I really liked it. It’s got a thriller/horror vibe to it as some kids in the 80s dig into the main girl’s new step mom’s past and find out she was into some pretty heavy stuff. I don’t want to get into the story too much for fear of spoilers, but Lapham keeps a really good pace up throughout the whole story and I read it in one sitting. I like that.

My one problem with the book is the whole idea of the silverfish. They pop up from time to time, but are never really referred to or mentioned by anyone. I’ve got no problem with certain things not getting explained in stories, but this seems like a pretty big element to not get at least a mention. Oh well, like I said, I dug this book and would actually like to see it made (well) into a movie. I assume one of you is a big Hollywood person and can make that happen (if it’s not already in the works).