The Extinction Parade: War #2
Max Brooks (writer), Raulo Caceres (artist and covers)
The Extinction Parade is the product of veteran writer Max Brooks, whose previous works include the books The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. With last year’s miniseries The Extinction Parade, Brooks stayed well within the comfort of his wheelhouse, creating a world where the Zombie Apocalypse proves to be a threat not just to humanity, but also to a secret race of vampires, who are quickly losing their primary food source.
In War, the conflict between flesh eaters and blood suckers escalates – that’s the theory, anyway. In truth, pretty much nothing happens in this issue, other than the introduction of an anti-zombie martial art technique, performed on some of the least threatening zombies I’ve ever seen. Seriously, the risen dead seem completely content to just peacefully mill about and wander aimlessly, until jerk-ass vampires show up and squash their heads. I don’t see what the problem is.
If there’s any reason to pick up this comic, it’s Raulo Caceres’ artwork. It’s striking and incredibly ornate, though the crowded panels and dark color pallet sometimes make pages feel cluttered. It’s still above average work, and may prove to be a mild curiosity worth a cursory glance. Otherwise, The Extinction Parade: War is completely skippable.
Greg Rucka (writer), Michael Lark (artist and cover)
Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s critically acclaimed Lazarus tells the story of a near-future dystopian world ruled by the wealthy elite (insert Koch Brothers joke here). In the previous issue, Jonah Carlyle failed in his bid to overthrow his father and take control of their kingdom, which encompasses most of the American Midwest. Now on the run, Jonah seeks asylum from the Carlyle family’s rival, Doctor Jakob Hock – but as Jonah quickly realizes, the enemy of your enemy isn’t necessarily your friend.
The concept behind Lazarus is a clever one, touching on such issues as unrestrained Capitalism, wartime propaganda, and all other manner of things that get Liberals in a tizzy and clog up my Facebook feed. In the hands of another writer, such matters could be dealt with in an overly heavy handed way, but fortunately Lazarus showcases Rucka’s typical inventiveness and wit. This particular issue might be a difficult one for new readers to digest, as it focuses exclusively on the conflict between antagonists. With no one to root for or get behind, “Extraction” may prove to be off-putting at first, but it’s a single chapter in a much larger story, one that I’m planning to continue to follow.
“Out the Window”
Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan (writers), John Lucas (artist). Covers by Mike Del Mundo and Pascal Campion.
“Out the Window” wraps up Deadpool’s requisite Original Sin, which saw him reuniting with his lost daughter to save her from U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M.. To commemorate the occasion, Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan write in even more comedic gore and over-the-top violence than usual, as John Lucas does his best to channel John McCrea on Hitman. In the end though, Deadpool deals with the head of the terrorist group with a unique level of restraint, in what is clearly meant to be a turning point for the character.
The conclusion to this story is satisfying for the most part, especially the guest appearances of a couple of X-Men regulars. We do end on a hell of a down not through, though the bummer cliff-hanger serves to lead in to next month’s nineties-style interlude, which I’m very much looking forward to.
Deadpool may not be the most consistent book out there right now, but even at its worst it’s still quite good, and when Posehn and Duggan get rolling, this title is completely on fire. This was one of their more middle-of-the-road arcs, but it was still quite entertaining, and introduced story elements that I’m eager to see play out down the road. Good stuff over all.
“The Omega Hulk pt. 1”
Gerry Duggan (writer), Mark Bagley (artist). Covers by Alex Ross and Gary Frank.
For those who haven’t been following the monthly adventures of everyone’s favourite green (non-Kermit the Frog) hero, the transition between last year’s Indestructible Hulk title to the “All-New Marvel Now” certified Hulk book involved Bruce Banner being shot in the back of the head by unknown parties. To save his life, Tony Stark repaired Banner’s brain using the Extremis process, and now a new being has emerged – not Hulk or Banner, but another mind completely. Doc Green, as he likes to call himself, combines the Hulk’s immeasurable power with an intellect far beyond anything Banner could have dreamed of… the question now is whether or not Doc Green is possessed by the Hulk’s rage, and whether or not he has any sense of Banner’s moral compass.
In “The Omega Hulk”, Doc Green begins his first operation, which is to shut down ever other gamma-powered threat on the planet, targeting friend and foe alike. The idea is more than a little derivative of the Armor Wars storyline from the late 1980s, where Iron Man did pretty much the same thing to reign in exploited Stark technology. That said, the series’ new writer Gerry Duggan is taking an old idea and putting a fresh spin on it, evidenced by scenes like the one where Doc Green raids Kang the Conqueror’s armoury at the end of time.
There was a time when I felt like the Hulk was one of Marvel’s most one-dimensional properties, but with stories like World War Hulk, Planet Hulk and much of Indestructible Hulk, Marvel’s top writers keep coming up with new twists on the formulae. So far, Duggan is following that path too, and I’m interested in where he plans to take things from here. Between Hulk and Deadpool, Duggan is quickly becoming one of my favourite Marvel writers.
The Devilers #2
Joshua Hale Fialkov (writer), Matt Triano (artist). Covers by Jock and Marc Silvestri.
Reading the solicits for The Devilers, you’d likely go into the series expecting it to be a cross between The Magnificent Seven and The Exorcist. What you might not anticipate though is to find yourself reading a fairly po-faced take on South Park’s “Super Best Friends”. The quick version of The Devilers’ plot is that the Legions of Hell have invaded Earth, and it’s up to a comically mismatched band of multidenominational super-powered exorcists to stomp some demonic ass.
At times, it feels like Joshua Fialkov hasn’t decided what he wants The Devilers to be, as it swings wildly from dark humour to a grim and serious tone, which in turn veers dangerously close to self-parody at times. Despite the uneven feel to the narrative, Matt Triano’s fantastically creepy artwork (which evokes comparisons to Brian Hitch and Steve Pugh) is enough of a draw in and of itself to give The Devilers at least a cursory look.
Avengers World #11
Nick Spencer (writer), Raffaele Ienco (artist). Cover by Paul Renaud.
In hindsight, this probably wasn’t the best issue for me to take a look at Avengers World, given that it focuses primarily on a group of characters I can’t stand, the petulant twerps known as the Next Avengers. Originally created for a direct-to-DVD cartoon, and later grandfathered into the Marvel Universe by Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr. in the 2010 Avengers relaunch, the Next Avengers are the offspring of various contemporary heroes, no doubt each being the result of an inadvisable, drunken, post-Save The World hook-ups. For reasons that are completely beyond me, they are invariably written as being angsty and unpleasant, with the kind of undue entitlement that just screams the phrase “don’t you know why my father is?”.
Fortunately, Nick Spencer doesn’t get bogged down trying to make us care about these characters… this is an action issue, pure and simple, which goes from the Next Avengers fighting S.H.I.E.L.D., to the two groups teaming up to infiltrate A.I.M. Island. People fight, stuff blows up, biff bam boom. It’s the only way I can find these characters palatable, and with Raffaele Ienco’s fantastic artwork on the endless fight scenes, I can honestly say that this is easily my favourite comic to feature the Next Avengers to date. Plus, how can you know love a book that ends with the promise of “The War to End All Time”? That’s some straight up Jack Kirby level bombast right there.