Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ani-Max One Shot

Ani-Max One-Shot
Created by Sharad Devajaran, Gotham Chopra and Jeevan Kang
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Jeevan Kang
Published by Dynamite Entertainment and Liquid Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
Click here for preview

"It was like this wave washed over me. I could sense every animal in the jungle. I had this connection to them, I was in tune with them. I understood every growl and chirp and grunt. I understood everything." -- Max Duncan

Imagine if you will, a hero that is Ben 10 meets DC's Vixen, and what you get is twelve year-old Max Duncan, aka Ani-Max. While on a vacation to the rainforest, Max becomes lost and is confronted by a panther who passes the mystical object known as the Animus Stone to Max. The panther transforms into an old man who informed Max of an impending danger and runs off. Max now possesses the ability to become part animal he touches, and his duty is to protect the Earth Spirits.

Marz hasn't touched anything all-ages since his Dragon Prince two years ago, and while the story may be as old as time (or at least as old as Dial H For Hero) it still has an underlining message of environmental consciousness. The message conveying is that the youth can be responsible for the planet they will inherit, so it's not exactly a Ben 10 rip-off story-wise. Max is someone who is willing to accept his responsibilities as the new guardian, in somewhat of a Harry Potter mentality. We don't know much about Max's main threat, the Locusts, as they were just mentioned by the former protector and hinted at the end of the issue.

Jeevan Kang's art is pretty standard for something like this. It's Sean Galloway mixed with Bruce Timm with a slice of Mike Kunkel for good measure. Layouts are simple and easy to understand. As this is a one-shot, I've heard that this is merely an introduction to the character in preparation for a venture into an animated project, which could easily work since the world is thinking more "green" these days. As a comic, it easily stands on it's own merits and I would recommend this to any Elementary School who are adding more and more comics to their library.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Influence Map


1. Clash of the Titans
2. The Sandman
3. Iron Man
4. Natalie Portman
5. Velma
6. Ted Naifeh
7. Quantum Leap
8. Wheel of Time
9. Matt Groening
10. Oscar Wilde
11. Star Wars
12. Little Red Riding Hood
13. Atlanta
14. The Riddler
15. Dr. Strange
16. Daredevil
17. Alice in Wonderland
18. Old School Magicians
19. Zatanna

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Sixth Gun #3

The Sixth Gun #3
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Brian Hurtt
Published by Oni Press
Review by Lan Pitts

"Did he look alive to you?" -- Drake Sinclair

Three issues in and little by little the world of The Sixth Gun is opening up. Oni's supernatural western is quickly becoming one of my must-have books. Not only are we treated to General Hume's origins, but more of the mystery revolving around the guns is revealed along with a secret about Sinclair's past.

Waking from a dream, Becky noticed the mythical (and titular) sixth gun is eerily glowing and she goes to find Sinclair and O'Henry, but stumbles upon them deep in conversation. The two men are discussing incidents from the first issue as well as something to do with Becky. Now the issues goes back and forth with our trio of heroes and General Hume and his demonic cronies. As I previously stated, Hume's origin and his ties to the guns are revealed. I see the guns as sort of Four Horsemen/One Ring of Power-type weapons. Each one possesses a different power and purpose. One summons the dead, another deals out disease and plague, etc. Becky's gun, formerly her father's gun, shows her the past and the future, which explains Hume's success. The only problem about the gun working is that Hume can feel it's presence, a la Darth Vader to Luke, and knows where she is. Slightly problematic. The possibility of Native America mysticism excites me since that is fairly unexplored ground in comicdom.

Bunn has done a good job here of keeping the pace solid, not throwing everything at you at once. There are not that many main characters, yet they all are entwined by the legacy of the guns. It's almost as if the guns were characters themselves, especially Becky's, as it acts like a fortune teller and passes along information. Hume talks to his almost like a lover. That makes sense, especially if you consider somebody like him and his bloodlust. I love the mysterious nature of Sinclair, and the secret he's hiding. Everybody has a distinct voice from the our heroes to the bad guys. It's just really solid storytelling. Brian Hurtt's art doesn't hurt the book either (bad pun intended). His character designs is creative and creepy. The action scenes are well put together and his style still has that flair he had working on Skinwalkers. His colors have a dusty pallet to them, and lots of reds and golds. You have to love how Sinclair stands out being a man in black.

Fans of this book will not want to miss this issue. I can't really recommend this one to people who want to jump on board without saying you have to buy the first two. I still insist that most comics should come with a "previously on..." page. That note aside, it's still a solid read and one of my favorite new titles.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

BPRD Hell on Earth #1, Time Bomb #1, Wheel of Time #4

BPRD: Hell on Earth - New World#1
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by Guy Davis and Dave Stewart
Letters by Clem Robins
Published by Dark Horse
Review by Lan Pitts

Monster on the loose! People are vanishing in this small town! Time to call Scoob and the Gang! Wait, no, that's not right. We need the BPRD. Mike Mignola, arguably the biggest name in supernatural comics, and this top notch team of John Arcudi, Guy Davis, and Dave Stewart once again take us for an exciting ride with the BPRD gang. Though, this time around, there's something a bit different. It is indeed a new world and a new direction for these characters. After the conclusion of BPRD: King of Fear, the BPRD is reconstructed and overseen by the United Nations. Oy.

Now, this isn't a deviation from what we've come to expect and love from these creators and characters. It's interesting to see how the BPRD is dealing with the massive amounts of red tape and litigation. The first issue doesn't really build a plot as it does play catch-up, but there are hints of something big to come. I love how Mignola and Arcudi established the fear of Americans over the funding of BPRD by the U.N., again just whispers and nudges of what we can expect later on.

Guy Davis is one of my favorite artists of all-time. His comic style is distinguishable and animated and has been the image that I have in my mind whenever I see or talk about Hellboy and such. Dave Stewart's colors over Davis' art just plain works. It's a more laid back style compared to say his work on Detective Comics, but more in tune with what he did on New Frontier. The city scape is bright and busy, and the woods Abe's wanders into have a spooky and macabre vibe.

If you're a fan of the series, go ahead and pick this up. However, if you're rusty on these adventures or characters, I'd recommend checking out previous installments because it doesn't really feel like a good pick-up point or is as accessible despite the dossier in the front. What this issue really needed was a full-on first page of "Last Time on BPRD..." sort of deal. I just worry that fans who want to get into it will feel lost.


Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time #4
Written by Robert Jordan
Script by Chuck Dixon
Art by Chase Conley and Nicolas Chapuis
Lettering by Bill Tortolini
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Lan Pitts

"I don't know that you are worth it, sheepherder, no matter what she says." -- Lan Mandragora

Reading these comics reminds me why I fell in love with The Wheel of Time in the first place, especially around this time in the books when the action starts to unfold. Coming back to Emond's Field with an injured Tam, Rand discovers that his village was attacked by Trollocs. When Nynaeve, the Wisdom (read: healer) of the village sees to Tam, she informs Rand there is nothing she can do. Despair takes over Rand, but finds hope again when he discovers the mysterious Moiraine is actually an Aes Sedai and can cure his father.

As much as I love the actual novels, I want to like this comic more. Then again, it's hard to replace the images you've had in your heard for more than half your life with Chase Conley's art. Some character still aren't quite there, but if there is one character Conley has down pat it is Moiraine. The way she stands, her face, the way she channels the One Power, it's all very, for a lack of a better term: Moiraine-like. Now the layout of some of the pages still bother me, but it isn't so much a diversion that I want to cast baelfire on the book (that's an in-joke). I feel the main thing is that his inks are inconsistent, but his image of a charred Emond's Field was pretty spot-on and just a great shot. Nicolas Chapuis' colors are another thing. While it was exciting to see Moiraine channel and fight back with lightning, the rest of his art just comes across as boring and shallow. I just think with a rich tale like the Wheel of Time, there ought to be richer colors as well.

Chuck Dixon continues to take Jordan's story and get the best parts of the story without taking much out, if anything, because it's just how I remember it. The scene with Rand and Egwene comes across as honest and emotional. And I think Dixon understands the characters as well as the fact that he is dealing with material that is considered the Lord of the Rings for this generation.


Time Bomb#1 (Published by Radical; Review by Lan Pitts): Talk about genuine creativity here. Essentially, in the future, an underground city was discovered in Berlin where a hand-selected members of the Third Reich were going to stay, while a missile was activated and spread the mother of all viruses. Well, of course nothing goes according to plan, but I guess if the Nazis had it their way, better late than never I suppose. So, the missile is accidentally launched and the virus is spread and will destroy all life in an estimated three days. The solution? Go back in time to warn the government about the missile and the threat. What actually happens is that the small time-traveling team is sent back too far and they are now in WWII during the Nazi regime. Fully equipped to the T with modern day weaponry. So the question is, will they pull a Sam Beckett and change history for the better? It brings up a lot of questions, and I'm a sucker for a good time travel story. With fifty-four pages and NO ads, this book just can't be beat. If you know anything about Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, you know they make a dynamite team. Paul Gulacy's art is exquisite, adding to the serious tone for the book with proper inking that gives it the action movie feel. Rain Beredo's color also mesh well with what's going on, using lots of dark colors. Time Bomb is a fine example of compelling story telling and I would easily recommend this to anybody looking for something a bit out of the ordinary. It is for a more mature reader, but nothing to the degree of say anything out of the Vertigo line. If you're a fan of history, twist-ory, time travel and adventure, give this mini-series a shot.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pocket God #1

Pocket God #1
Written by: Jason M. Burns and Jim Hankins
Art by: Rolando Mallada and Lucas Ferrerya
Colors by: Paul Little
Published by Ape Entertainment
Review by Lan Pitts

Licensed property comics are nothing new and are becoming more and more frequent these days. If you haven't heard of this game, I wouldn't worry, you can still enjoy the misadventures of immortal islanders in Pocket God. Based off of the popular game, that is only available through the Apple app store (and is currently the number 11 top-selling item in said store) Pocket God follows six primitive islanders who are called pygmies. Now in the game, you play their omnipotent being and you can do whatever you'd like to them from earthquakes to hurricanes, to just plain levitating them. In keeping with the theme that these pygmies go against the worst scenarios, that is what the comic is all about: a vengeful deity who is constantly killing them, or so they believe.

Jason M. Burns has proven time and time again, that he has a knack for fun, all-ages type stories and this book continues that trend. While it may seem pretty brutal with the notion of killing these characters over and over, it's no more violent than a Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoon (and who doesn't love those?). All six pygmies have different personalities, but have minor differences in appearances which, I admit, was confusing at first. Ronaldo Mallada has a great style and captured the essence of the game with his environments, and the pygmies themselves. He can also draw one mean laser-shark. The layouts are easy to read and is nothing avant-garde, but still enjoyable. Paul Little's colors are simplistic, yet not overbearing and suits the story. The back-up feature by Jim Hankins and Lucas Ferrerya gives us a hint at what might be exactly causes the pygmies to have their disasters and such. The art is more non-traditional, yet still cute and easy on the eyes.

For fans of the game, there are several in-jokes, probably even more than I realized. The Pocket God game has constantly been in the top-rated and this comic is on the fast track to follow suit (it's already number twenty-one on the top-sellers). Ape will release an actual hard copy of the comic in September, so be on the look out for that. I think while licensed comics are around, Ape is exploring new options with the app market. Now, I'm not saying there should be a Bejeweled comic out there, but I'd easily browse through a PandaMania comic.