Let There Be… Reviews!

In addition to the comic books that I buy every Wednesday and the trade paperbacks and collections that I pick up, there are also a lot of comics that end up on my desk through other means — they are submitted by companies or creators hoping for exposure, or from my fellow iFanboys who feel that I really need to be reading something that I’m not.

We can’t read everything. It’s just not possible. Have you seen the shipping list every week? A lot of stuff gets published every week. Like, a lot.

So, sometimes stuff gets missed. And you know what? It irks me that I can’t read everything because I like to sample different books. I like to see what’s going on out there in the world of comics. The last time I did a review piece I went super indie, and this time I’m staying in the non-DC/Marvel vein.

ARCHIBALD SAVES EASTER is from the Shadowline division of Image Comics and writer/artist Grant Bond.

Funnily enough — and I totally did not realize this until right now — but Grant Bond drew a book that I reviewed in the last review piece – The Clockwork Girl. That’s kinda weird.

When I was looking through the stack of books for something to catch my eye, this one leapt right out at me. First of all, the title – Archibald Saves Easter. What? Really? Easter needs saving? From whom? And who is this Archibald when he’s at home? The second thing that really got me was the cover.  A giant red devil fighting a gray scale aardvark and a bunny who appears to be shooting eggs out of his ass.

This book is weird. Like, really weird. The gist of the story is that Archibald (an aardvark stand-in for Mickey Mouse) quit the movie business after a terrible on-set accident that resulted from his peeing on some electrical cables, meets up with the Easter Bunny who quit his gig after he accidentally killed a kid with an egg that he shot out of his ass in the midst of a hay fever attack.

Like I said, weird.

These two are walking along a country road on the way to a place called Vauderville to meet up with someone they know named Pete. They get offered a ride by The Devil, who takes them to the Carnivale being held at Vauderville whereupon arriving Archibald and the Easter Bunny are set upon by The Devil’s minions, at the behest of Neptune Studios, who hired The Devil to send Archibald to hell for leaving the picture business.

Like I said, really weird.

I honestly don’t know what to make of this book. It appears to be a one-shot (there isn’t a number anywhere) but it seemingly drops us in the middle of a story and ends with no resolution whatsoever. Maybe there are references here I’m not getting, but it ends kind of like how The Fellowship of the Ring film ended and I feel like the guy who was in the movie theater I was in who had no idea it was part one of a trilogy who shouted out “That’s it??  It ends like that??” Baffling.

Here’s what I did like — the art. Grant Bond is a really talented artist. I was going to say he’s a really talented cartoonist but looking at the credits I see he did the coloring as well and there’s some exquisite coloring in here. It’s all done in gray scale, like we’re watching an old cartoon, except for The Devil, his minions and the Easter eggs, which are all a vibrant red.  It’s a really pretty book.

SERENITY #1 is from Dark Horse Comics and writers Joss Whedon & Brett Matthews and artist Will Conrad.

I loved Firefly when it was on TV ever so briefly (curse you, Fox!). I’m a big fan of Westerns, and I’m a big fan of sci-fi space epics, and I’m a big fan of Joss Whedon (mostly). What he created in Firefly was one of the most unique concepts that I had seen in some time — he took the Star Trek idea of a Western in Space and he did it in the absolute literal sense. By all rights, it shouldn’t have worked. But by gum, it did. Well, creatively it did. Business-wise it did not.

There was something about Firefly that really resonated with some people because it seems to me that there is a devotion to that show that is deeper and more meaningful than for Joss’ other shows, for which there are considerable and passionate fanbases.

But enough about the show, this is about the comic book.

I have to say I am an idiot for not picking this up. Well, that might be overly harsh. I had always planned on picking this up in trade — assuming Dark Horse puts out a trade of this three issue mini, but after having read this issue — with its pitch perfect dialogue and characterizations — I really wish that I had the other two issues to read. Like, right now.

The story is simple, Mal and his crew of miscreants go from one heist to the next and, as implied by the first issue cliff-hanger, quickly get in over their heads. That’s where this crew lives, in a perpetual state of being in over their heads. It’s nice to see that this book takes place before the movie — Serenity — because there were a few notable deaths and those characters would surely be missed here. It’s a really fun issue that is full of action and funny — and there’s even a patented Whedon fake out in the scene when Inara is giving a back massage.

Oh, man — this was good stuff.

DEADSPACE #1 is from Image Comics and writer Antony Johnston and artist Ben Templesmith.

Here’s the thing about licensed property books — they don’t always have to be bad. Take the book right above this one, it’s a licensed property comic book and it was very good. So is this one.

Deadspace is a video game coming this Halloween from EA. But I didn’t know that until I got to the ad for it in the back of this issue (To be fair, I knew that at WonderCon when we co-hosted the party for Johnston and Templesmith, but there as a lot of alcohol that weekend — a lot — and I forgot).  But knowing that it’s based on a video gamer property does nothing to diminish the work itself which is, quite frankly, pretty awesome.

You aren’t given a lot of backstory in the first issue of Deadspace, you are left to pretty much work it all out for yourself. I love that. I love when a writer can give you all the information you need through the course of the story and the rest is up to the audience’s brain and their imagination. Perhaps more is and will be revealed in later issues but for now all we know is that in the future there is a colony of people living and working somewhere that was thought to be free of lifeforms. A giant marker that could possibly have religious significance is discovered right outside the colony and that sparks a bit of a religious tumult amongst the colonists. Believers pitted against non-believers over the meaning of the marker. And then people start going crazy, and when that happens in these situations people start dying. And we know it’s all going to go really badly because the very first page is a flash forward five weeks in which the main character pleads for the colony to be nuked. That can’t be good.

The writing from Antony Johnston is quick and smart and suspenseful and the art… oh, the art from Ben Templesmith. Gordon already eloquently talked about how great Templesmith is so I won’t go into again here other than to say that is a damn fine looking book and if you’ve missed Fell you should seek this one out.

I will definitely be looking for this when the trade comes out.

JENNA JAMESON’S SHADOW HUNTER #1 is from Virgin Comics and writer Christina Z and artist Mukesh Singh.

It is not surprising that I cannot really recommend this book, but what is surprising are the reasons why not.

Look, you have a book that is *cough*co-plotted*cough* by the most famous porn star in the world and you put her name above the title and you kinda, sorta model the main character after her — appearance-wise — then you’re weighting your book down with a lot of baggage from the very beginning. Baggage that is going to be tough to overcome. And when talking about this book it’s hard not to do it through the filter of that baggage.

That having been said, having that baggage in mind lead to one of the nice surprises about this book, and that was the art. Going into a book like this, with Jenna Jameson’s name attached and with covers by Gregs Horn and Land, and you expect a certain-level of cheesecake. Quite frankly, the level of cheesecake I was expecting would have been in the realm of taking Ed Benes and Ian Churchill and smushing them together and turning the dial up to 11.

(I don’t think that made any sense, but I’m pushing forward).

The art by Mukesh Singh is actually quite good. The main character is attractive without having an impossible proportioned body, and there was a shockingly low level of panty-shots considering that she wears a short dress throughout the entire issue and she ends up battling a lot of demons.

Where I began to run into problems was with the story. Christina Z’s name is one I have seen around a lot but I don’t recall ever having read any of her stuff. I have an inkling that her style is just not for me. The first quarter of this book is so over-written that I was exhausted by the time I got to the second quarter. I think it took me longer to read the first half of this book than the last two books combined. The story itself is that Jenna Jameso– I mean, Jezzerie Jaden saw visions of demons and monsters locked in battle as a child. Back then the visions were cute and entertaining. Now as an adult those visions have turned real and terrifying and are suddenly not just visions anymore.

It was all very overwrought and confusing and not really my thing, but I did like Mukesh Singh’s art a lot and he should do more American comics.



  1. Before there was Archibald Saves Easter there was another one shot called Archibald Saves Christmas which was drawn by the same artist but written by iFanboy member dwightmacpherson. I thought Archibald Saves Christmas was easier to follow and a better story and the art was still beautiful. My LCS was able to order me a copy just a few months ago after I read Archibald Saves Easter so it shouldn’t be too hard to get if people are interested.

  2. Firefly always makes me sad, it was one of the most original concepts I’ve seen in TV in recent years, where all we seem to get is rehashes of previous shows, and on then I always remember that there’s nothing more than just 14 episodes and film. These comic remedy that to a certain extent, but all there’s really been is a 3 issue mini-series in 2005 and this 3 issue mini-series. As a fan I still think that that’s not enough.

    Angel has an ongoing series (Angel: After the Fall – IDW), so has Buffy (Buffy: Season 08 – Dark Horse), where’s the ongoing series giving us a monthly dose of Mal and his miscreant crew, I can only hope it’s somewhere in the pipeline. On a lighter note Joss said that there’s going to be a 3 issue mini-series sometime in the near future highlighting some of Sheperd Book’s past. So if you enjoy the Serenity books, keep an eye out for that one.

  3. Jezzerie Jaden sounds more like a porn name than Jenna Jamison.

    The Archibald comics sound interesting – I know I saw one on the rack at my LCS. Maybe I’ll give it a quick flip today.

    Serenity didn’t match that first issue as far as greatness, but it was still a very solid, well done series. I thoroughly enjoyed the last page of that first issue. 

  4. I couldn’t resist the allure of Archibald Saves Easter when it was released. Had a couple of extra bucks on a light week and thought "why not?"

    After reading it, it was quite clear "why not?"

    It made no sense. None. 

    Beautiful art can’t compensate for poor scripting.

    Been reading Shadow Hunter since the start. My thoughts can be found in my reviews. Nuff said.

  5. Conor, you should borrow Ron’s issues of Serenity.  Or at least, you could if he didn’t live on another coast.  Question: Does Ron have a good scanner?

    I’m not shocked what so ever by the Jenna Jameson book.  At my shop, they had this free teaser thing that they tried to put in my bag.  I flatly refused.  I do not want to  perpetuate stupid ass ideas like this in comics.  Blarf.

    Deadspace sounds like a cool title and the game looks like it could be good.  That said, I’m probably going to pass on this one because there’s just too much other good stuff out to read.  Maybe, if the series is really good, I’ll scoop the trade up.

  6. @comicdork27 Glad to know I’m not crazy. I heard Archibald and thought "I could have swore this was a Dwight MacPherson book."

     Nice fella. At least on these here interwebz.

  7. I agree with Conor’s assessment of Shadow Hunter. The short intro comic was not bad…it just presented the first few pages which weren’t that bad: had an interesting idea/hook and the artwork was good…but then the main book happened and it’s bad…dense and just…..bad……not even the pretty covers can save it. I hear there is a hardcover coming out collecting the first 3 (!) issues….

  8. Archibld and Sernty re the only ones that sound good to me. Death space sonds to honor to me and Jenen Jameson just sounds bad. A pron star doing acomic book comc on!

  9. @superfriend82 – Well, Jameson’s not making the comic book, it’s just her name on it.