Bruce Castle Presents: Censorship Sucks!

All Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder #10 (Variant Cover Edition)

All Star Batman and Robin #10 (**1/2)

I have a lot to say about this, but I’ll try to keep it brief. Remember when I talked about the altered cover in my Action Comics #869 review? Probably the reason for the change was because it came out in the same week as this fiasco. This is a Batman comic that contains numerous F bombs and C words. Here are some of the actual words and enjoy this original page as well. Did I mention that these words and actions come from a 15 year old girl? Miley Cyrus eat your heart out! I think this is more proof that Frank Miller is not writing a Batman comic. This should be an Avatar book. I think people would accept it more. I feel bad for Jim Lee. He has to draw kids groping testicles now?  Jim Lee should be on a different Batman book and Frank Miller should write some indie books. Despite all of this nonsense, I’ve actually enjoyed most of this series. The stories are absurdly fun and Lee’s art looks gorgeous! Speaking of pretty art, isn’t that Frank Quietly cover cool? This issue still looks marvelous, but I can’t say I enjoyed Miller’s writing. This is packed with horrible noir monologues. Analogies, similes, and metaphors used to sound hardcore. Ugh! This issue took so long to read and yet the plot barely moved forward. Lee produces pure beauty and Miller’s writing isn’t completely horrible, but this was disappointing and some shame should go to DC for the editorial misstep as well.

War Heroes #2, Tommy Lee Edwards Variant

War Heroes #2 (***1/2)

How many of you were pissed when you heard that a Kick-Ass movie will be released only a few months after the comic series ends? Well, Mark “Sellout” Millar does it again! It seems War Heroes will be a movie too. At least they waited until issue #2 came out right? Ok, let’s talk about this issue. What does this have to do with censorship? It contains full-frontal male nudity of course. I know Mark Millar likes to shock people, but this is too much. I remember reading that Millar was going to put anal sex and cumshots in Wanted, but J.G. Jones talked him out of it. I guess Tony Harris couldn’t do the same. A friend of mine who has a nine year old daughter flipped out when he saw this issue on the shelves for kids to see. I’ve also heard on the “Internets” about some trouble that shop owners are having. Do comic distributors deserve blame? I don’t think so, but that’s me. Anyway, Tony Harris is the star of this series. I think Millar knows that too. This is your basic boot camp issue only with superpowers. Instead of putting weapons together they construct planes, instead of lifting weights they lift tanks and so on. This issue is fun and there are some shocks, like the aforementioned penis, but the story isn’t anything spectacular yet. If you’re a fan of Millar’s writing and especially if you like Harris’ art, you should give this book a try.

This inspired my title. Isn’t it awesome? Joe Linsner rocks!

Bruce Castle Presents: Invincible War Heroes!

 Large Cover of Invincible #51

Invincible #51 (****1/2): Oh yeah, you like that highlighted one? It’s got to have first issue appeal then right? Right? Ok, maybe not. Yes, if you haven’t been reading Invincible (You’re a fool!) you shouldn’t pick this up, but instead start on the first trade. You’ll enjoy it though. So yeah I don’t know why Kirkman emphasized the first issue stuff so much, but at least it kind of is a new start. He’s got new threads, new sidekick, and a new girlfriend, oh and a new colorist on the book too. I had a lot of fun with this. There is a lot in it and it’s the usual price. We get a fight with some Kirkman baddies, stuff from last issue gets dealt with, there is quite a few things from earlier in the series that we kind of get little tastes of, and of course those lovely Kirkman character moments. The negatives are the lack of Crabtree (I miss him), the fact that this isn’t much of a jumping on point at least not for a first issue, and of course the very last page. It’ll be interesting to see what most people think of that last page reveal. I’m ok with it, I think, but I’m sure there will be a few moans and groans. It’s an overall great book though.

Large Cover of War Heroes #1 of 6

War Heroes #1 (****): Millar’s plate gets ever larger. Sadly, this is a bad thing because Millar has a certain style that wears thin if you see an overwhelming amount of it like we’re kind of getting now. Millar is known for having a very cinematic style and writing that takes a seemingly conventional idea and makes it fresh and exciting. But we’ve been getting a lot of that with Kick-Ass and even with Wolverine so by now we’re already full of Millar’s particular entree. Having said all that though, I do like this book. The political stuff is a bit too forceful but I still like it and I love that most of it gets wrapped up in 5 pages. I love all the little character moments but like I said it’s very much like Kick-Ass in that this is the “realistic superhero”. I don’t think we get the wonderment that we’re supposed to get, I should have more of a wow feeling when reading this. Still, it’s got that great cinematic Millar feel to it. I wonder if this will be a movie too. Wow, I haven’t mentioned Tony Harris yet. He makes this go from a good book to a great book. The art looks phenominal! Harris was a fantastic choice and Cliff Rathburn’s inks complement it perfectly as he does on Walking Dead. It also looks like this book’s scope is going to expand. I’m excited for the next issue which is always a good thing.

Spoiler Review: War Heroes #1

This is the story that Millar says could have been Ultimates 3. Let’s check it out…

    

The rest of the book introduces the War Heroes cast and goes into a little more detail about the “super pills” the new recruits will be issued.

Ok, if this was The Ultimates, or any super hero genre comic for that matter, these first five pages would decompress into an entire first issue. We’d need reintroductions and reactions from all the Ultimates and the hint of a faceless villain. Here, Millar hurries up and gets on with it by page six. Thank God. Also, if this was Ultimates, I can easily see S.H.I.E.L.D. giving 5,000 enlisted men superpowers in response to the Ultimates’ decision to fly solo. So, yeah, this could very well have been a neat addition to the already classic Millar/Hitch Ultimates run, and a far better sequel than the horrendous Jeph Loeb/Joe Mad mini series.

The Nitpicks:

1) It seems almost too obvious that the attacks against the United States chronicled in the first five pages were perpetrated by the US government. Regardless of whether or not I agree that our government is capable of such a thing, I think the lack of subtlety is a misstep on Millar’s part.

2) Why does Millar’s idea of character development always involve the degradation of women?

3) Melodrama!

There’s more stuff, but I think I’ve bashed it enough, especially since I kind of liked it despite all its flaws. As far as debut issues go, it gives you that swift kick in the pants that makes you crave the next one.

Trade Review: Ex Machina Vol. 1-5 & DMZ Vol. 1-2

On top of the hundred or so comics I read every month, I also go through quite a few trade paperbacks. Recently, I started picking up Ex Machina in trade. I’ve finished the first five trades so I guess it’s about time I talked about them.

Ex Machina is the story of Mitchell Hundred, the first superhero of his world. One day, a group of terrorists decide to ram a couple of planes into the World Trade Center towers. In our world, we know exactly what happened next. In Mitchell’s world, events play out quite a bit differently. You see, Mitchell was able to save one of the Twin Towers. Soon after, Mitchell gives up playing hero and runs for mayor. Not surprisingly, he wins.

The book primarily concerns itself with Mitchell’s term in office, with the occasional flashback to pre-911 times to give up back story and villainous origins. One can assume that means this book is extremely politically motivated. It’s actually much like reading an episode of the West Wing, I would guess (since I never watched that show).

Framed in such a way that isn’t immediately as accessible to mainstream readers like Y: The Last Man was, Ex Machina is an educational if not always entertaining read. Sometimes, it feels too much like homework or watching some dude’s hastily produced Youtube diaries. No jokes, Vaughan comes off like a politically snarky know-it-all and it can get on your nerves. Maybe this plays better if you collect this book as a monthly, but reading 5-6 issues in a row can be tedious. If you can stand being preached to regarding the hot button issues of the day, then this may be the book for you. As for me, I like the main character to stick with it for now. It passes the ultimate test: I would vote for Mayor Hundred.

Oh, and the art by Tony Harris is pretty sweet too.

Switching gears slightly but still staying within the realm of social commentary, I’ve also been catching up on Brian Wood’s DMZ. This seems like the prototypical book that no one is reading, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. It’s so fucking good. It’s got the mainstream appeal of a Y mixed with the politics of an Ex Machina. It’s controversial, honest (maybe I’m biased) and on top of all that… it’s a fun read! Brian Wood, is really, really good. And so is his partner, Riccardo Burchielli. His figures look great and the grim and gritty backgrounds truly propel you into this world. Oh crap, I haven’t even said what the book is about yet…

With overseas wars bogging down the Army and Nation Guard, the U.S. government mistakenly neglects the very real threat of the anti-establishment militias scattered across the United States. Like a sleeping giant, Middle America rises up and violently pushes its way to the shining seas, sparking a second American civil war, coming to a standstill at the line in the sand – Manhattan. Or, as the world now knows it, the DMZ.

Matty Roth, a naïve aspiring photojournalist, lands a dream gig following a veteran war correspondent into the heart of the DMZ. Things soon go terribly wrong, and Matty finds himself lost and alone in a world he’s only seen on television. There, he is faced with a choice: try to find a way off the island, or make his career with an assignment most journalists would kill for. But can he survive in this savage war zone long enough to report the truth?

The first trade is all about getting you, the reader, and Matty, our protagonist, acclimated to this brave new world. He builds friendships as he gets to know the players on each side of this civil war. In the second trade, shit gets flipped on its head as we learn not everything or everyone is what it seems. Expectations are reversed and Matty sees that it’s not about which side is right; it’s about the people stuck in the middle. His people. One of the great things about DMZ is Wood’s ability to stay impartial. One side is never portrayed as more evil than the other, or vice versa, and I think that’s where the power of this story truly lies. Shit, the entire story is summed up in the title. A demilitarized zone… that’s all it’s really about.