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Drumheller #1 – Review

By: Alex Link (Story, script), Riley Rossmo (story, art, colors), Kelly Tindall (letters)

The Story: A guy who takes lots of hallucinogens teams up with an ex-girlfriend to do paranormal stuff.

Review: This comic is really trippy.  It’s about a guy who is slightly insane and takes a LOT of drugs.  There also seems to be a splash of the paranormal flitting about.  So, when the main character hears a voice coming from his bag of golf clubs or the mummified body he pulls out of a swamp starts to move, you can’t quite tell: Is this really happening or is it just a drug-induced hallucination.

And that’s really the hook of the first issue.  It’s all about that weird cross-over between hallucination and and reality.  There probably is a central “call to action” that is driving the plotline forward.  But – honestly – I read the comic two days ago and I don’t even remember what the story is all about.  The central story is really secondary to the weirdness.

That may make the comic sound shallow, but that kinda misses the point because the weirdness is so well done.  The opening scene shows the main character on a golf course, in a bathrobe getting struck by lightning.  Then he gets up and watches a peacock emerge from a rain puddle on the ground and fly away…..then he notices that the peacock (not a penHEN) has laid an egg in the puddle, so he picks it up and then sticks his face in the puddle and his face emerges from the puddle in the sky of another world where the sun is out.  It’s really trippy and weird.  It’s also the sort of thing that makes me appreciate comics as a medium.  You could write prose about this sort of scene, but it wouldn’t be graphic enough.  You could try to put such a scene in a movie or TV show, but it would almost certainly look like crappy CGI unless you spent a FORTUNE on the effects.  Comics are cool.

Of course, the thing selling all of this is Riley Rossmo’s art.  He just has a really good eye for atmosphere and the surreal.  He’s kinda done this sort of “edge of reality” story a bunch of times in Cowboy Ninja Viking, Green Wake and a few others.  He’s an exemplary artist and anything he does is worth checking out.  I still wish we’d get to see him do that raw, monochrome style from CNV and Proof again, but he seems to be going in a different direction.  I think his art loses something the more it is cleaned up and colored.
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Adventures of Superman #1 – Review


By: Too many to list—check out the review.

The Story: Superman stops a meth-head, watches children play, and hurts a bizarre version of himself.

The Review: I think it’s appropriate for my review of this debut issue that I bring up some points I made in my initial review of Legends of the Dark Knight.  Besides the fact that I feel there’s already a glut of Superman titles (and more surely to come with Superman Unchained), I question the wisdom of adding yet another one to the mix.  Truly fresh Superman stories are growing ever rarer, and a monthly Superman showcase can only drain that well even faster.

I also have the same concern about the continuity status of these stories as I did for the ones over in Legends.  Without fail, the Superman we get here is one from pre-relaunch canon, down to the spit-curl and outer underwear.  This kind of thing sends the wrong signal from DC, as it signals a strong attachment to old continuity and tradition that surpasses whatever affection or viability the current Superman has.
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Dia De Los Muertos #1 – Review


Dead but Dreaming by: Alex Link (writer), Riley Rossmo (art) & Nick Johnson (colors)

Reflections by: Christopher E. Long (writer), Rossmo & Jean-Paul Csuka (art and colors)

Te vas Angel Mio by: Dirk Manning (writer), Rossmo (art) & Megan Wilson (colors)

The Story: An anthology revolving around the Mexican Day of the Dead.

Quick Review: Anthologies are always interesting: You take the “good” with the “meh” and hope that the parts you enjoy are enough to justify the price-tag ($4.99 in this case).  This issue has three tales involving the afterlife and it probably makes sense to touch on them in order….

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Bedlam #3 – Review


By: Nick Spencer (writer), Riley Rossmo (art), Jean-Paul Csuka (colors) and Kelly Tindall (letters)

The Story: A reformed Madder Red starts to help the police.

Review: This was a frustrating comic because it has teases of real excellence that get clouded in the execution.

Let’s start with how the glass is half full…

  •  Great art in places: The opening sequence of the comic that shows Madder Red murdering cats in his hospital room is the type of raw art I want from Riley Rossmo.  He is an artist that looks better without a colorist because his linework is so rough and visceral.  I love how he leaves his characters slightly roughed out and you can almost still see the erased pencils from the wireforms of these people.  THIS art reminds me of the guy who drew Proof and Cowboy Ninja Viking.
  • Unafraid story telling: Any comic that is unafraid to be transgressive gets massive points from me.  It isn’t so much that doing things for pure shock value is good, but by starting the story with a sequence of Madder Red killing 20-odd cats, Spencer and Rossmo have demonstrated the potential limits of the story.  When you consume fiction, you kinda know that certain things are off-limits: Batman will not die, no animal movie ever ends with all the doggies getting euthanized at the pound by the evil dog-catcher, etc.  With Bedlam we know that the creators are willing to kill children and kitty-cats and that the main serial killer has removed his own penis (remember that in Silence of the Lambs, Wild Bill just tucked it between his legs…).  At that point, I’m not sure anything is off-limits for this story.

But, the glass is also half-empty… Continue reading

Bedlam #2 – Review


By: Nick Spencer (writer), Riley Rossmo (art), Jean-Paul Csuka (colors) and Kelly Tindall (letters)

The Story: In which we learn that Madder Red’s reformation may be a part of a larger plot.

Quick review: This issue was a little disappointing.  It wasn’t in any way “bad”, but it lacked the snap of Issue #1 and failed to live up to that issue’s promise.  What made that first issue so special was the deeply demented nature of the central character: he was murdering lots of people and even after reforming, he was doing weird stuff like licking the barrel of a mugger’s revolver.  Madder Red was just really creepy!  That issue never missed a chance to be weird and because of that, we paid very close attention.

In this issue we slow way, way down.  Most of the scenes are of the “talking heads” variety as we start to learn more about what might be going on with Madder Red and why he is “reforming”.  It just wasn’t as memorable.
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Bedlam #1 – Review

By: Nick Spencer (writer), Riley Rossmo (art), Jean-Paul Csuka (colors) and Kelly Tindall (letters)

The Story: A maniacal mass murderer goes kinda straight.

A few things (with minor SPOILERS): 1). Very creepy and unsettling - I don’t know about you, but I’ve been exposed to too many types of media to be easily unsettled.  I guess I’m just desensitized.  But, this was a very eerie comic book and it all stems from the nasty/creepy main character.  In this issue, Spencer and Rossmo introduce us to a horrible serial killer named Madder Red.  He’s just freaky as all hell.  When we first meet him, he’s in the middle of a horrible killing spree involving dead kids and the horror continues throughout the issue as we alternate between seeing his crimes and following him has he (perhaps) tries to recover.  It’s a great example of creators really using the medium of comics to its fullest.  The concept and the words for Madder Red are horrifying, but when that combines with the visual of his creepy death-mask and odd body shape it really goes to another level of unsettling.  Even the red word balloons are a nasty touch.  From he first scene, you are pulled into the story.  Very nicely done!
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Debris #1 – Review

By: Kurtis J. Wiebe (writer), Riley Rossmo (art), Owen Gieni (colors), Ed Brisson (letters)

The Story: Hundreds of years after the fall of humanity, a young woman defends the last outpost of humans from mechanical monstrosities.

Review: This was a little disappointing on a couple of fronts.  As I mentioned in my “Picks of the Week“, the primary attraction on this issue was the art of Riley Rossmo.  I loved him on Proof and loved him in Cowboy Ninja Viking.  I even liked the art in Green Wake a lot, but found the narrative in that story to be really boring.  So, despite my reluctance to read another comic written by Wiebe (he also wrote The Intrepids which I ended up not caring for much and I didn’t enjoy Peter Panzerfaust as much as everyone else), I wanted to give this a try.  Surely Rossmo drawing post-apocalypse stuff would really take advantage of his scratchy and vital style.
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