Script: J. Michael Straczynski
Art: Pete Woods
One of Dark Horse’s Flagship books has always been the Terminator Series. Now, whether or not these series keep up with the movie continuum (and vice-versa) is beyond me. Here we have a rebel being sent back along with three old T-800 model terminators once again for various reasons. This time the T-800s are on recon. Apparently there may be a human still working away with the robots that have leveled mankind. John Connor is readying his troops for what he’s hoping will be a defining victory for mankind. Just like the movies, there’s an awful lot riding on a successful trip back in time.
This comic was actually pretty interesting. I didn’t realize the J. Michael Stracynski had written it until afterwards and was not surprised. The story was pretty well crafted. There’s a lot of explaining that helps flush out why they robots continually send back terminators. It’s also nice to see inside the robot’s manufacturing plants and get more insight as to what’s going on on their end. In the present (or the slightly rewound past), there’s a bit of drama to keep all time frames fresh and interesting. If you enjoy the Terminator, this would be a good book to check out. There are classic lines repeated which make sense as computers are not known for creative poetic speech. For now, I’m enjoying this book more than I thought I would and it’s nice to see Dark Horse bringing out some good writing talent on a comic that probably would’ve sold either way.
Vincent’s Viewpoint: I’m one of the few people on Earth that actually liked Terminator: Salvation. Still, it completely boggles my mind why Dark Horse would release a Salvation tie-in comic now. Because it’s the last movie that was made? Salvation doesn’t have any kind of cred for people aside from me. That part of the Terminator universe is a dead end now.
I think a comic based off the Sarah Conner Chronicles would have been a much better choice. People that hated Salvation loved that show, in fact it still carries the “gone too soon” vibe in the geek community. If Buffy can live on in comic form, certainly there’s room to continue the story of Sarah Conner Chronicles.
As for this comic, I’m a big Terminator fan that has seen the movies, the show, and read a lot of the books. It’s going to have to take a lot more of the regular jumping back in the past business to hold my attention, since I’ve seen it many times before. Hopefully the second issue will pick up a bit more as we move beyond the basics.
Written by Joe Casey
What Catalyst offers readers are three very different looks at the superhero genre. Part one is Amazing Grace with art by Paul Maybury and a script by Joe Casey. Amazing Grace is a Wonder Woman of sorts and an alien is all hot and bothered over her and wants all up in that. Grace then reveals the alien’s next form and things go from bad to worse. Next is Agents of Change with art by Ulises Farinas. This one was a little confusing. A guy is apparently in some kind of dream with Sho’ Nuff from Barry Gordy’s the Last Dragon and a coupe other dudes. In the final Arc, we have Frank Wells drawn by Dan McDaid. Frank is being pursued by a lady that wants to dominate him, much in the same fashion we saw in the first story Arc.
I gotta say, I wasn’t feeling this issue of Catalyst. Last issue had more fun written in, where this issue was a bit boring all the way around. The nice thing about Catalyst is that it features different artists and Arcs that should break up the monotony of a dry story. Unfortunately, all three stories were dry. The art in all three were good, but the story seemed relatively sloppy. I don’t think I could recommend this issue to anyone that hasn’t been reading the previous issues.
Vincent’s Viewpoint: I really enjoyed the Amazing Graze storyline as I’d been waiting for the smooth talking alien dude to finally get the beat down I wanted to give him since he first showed up, so for me it was ultimately satisfying. The thing I find interesting about Catalyst Comix is that when I’m not super hot on one or two of the story lines in a particular issue, I like at least one of them a lot as was the case this time.
I think in general picking up Catalyst Comix without reading from the start would be very difficult for any new reader, especially the brains in a jar/dream world part.
Script: Alex De Campi
Art: Simon Fraser
Following in line with the other Grindhouse comics Dark Horse is releasing, we have Prison Ship Antares; a women-in-prison movie in space. In true Grindhouse fashion, this prison is a hell-hole and these lovin’ ladies are stuck with Satan as the warden. The Prison Ship Antares is on a voyage to seed a new planet. The warden is on a mission to purify all the hardened criminals on the ship before getting to the new planet. She begins torturing the inmates one by one to begin breaking their spirits and possibly their prison relationships. There’s a tough Chicano mama, a mutant (well… that’s what they call her) and a spunky Asian. All the usual suspects.
I like Grindhouse comics. Especially the way Alex De Campi writes them. “Now, Digga, you hated Clown Fatale because of it being crazy sexist and just a comic about boobs, where Prison Ship Antares starts out with a full on lesbian shower scene.” Well, here’s the deal: like all other Grindhouse films/comics, the philosophy is that it feels like there’s a lesbian make-out about to happen around every corner, and this just puts it in your face and make it gratuitous and then dials it back. De Campi walks the tightrope so well that almost immediately after that, you forget about boobs and can get you to move on. Each female is written like, *gasp*, they are people and not objects.
What would a Grindhouse comic be without the gore? It’s here as well. The warden seems to enjoy being the most creative sadist as she goes to new lengths to torture her victims. All of this is going way over-the-top, just as it should. I would recommend this comic to anyone over 18 that isn’t easily offended. There’s obviously adult content and gore, but there’s enough here that made for an interesting, cheeky read that makes this Prison Ship a pleasure barge beyond sophomoric tendencies.
Story and Art: Mike Mignola
A HELLBOY COMIC DRAWN BY MIKE MIGNOLA?!?! HAPPY DAY! Pace yourself Digga, pace yourself… So with a name like Hellboy in Hell, I’m not sure if this is a story of Hell, or what feels like an Irish Folktale. We have a man who sold his soul to the Devil for a whip that creates gold coins. The Devil makes a bargain with him and creates a game out of the time he is coming to collect the man’s soul. Hellboy is essentially just along for the ride on this story and doesn’t even really need to be there so much and he almost ends up feeling like a Crypt Keeper in the story.
I really dug this issue. Sure, Hellboy didn’t need to be there, but it felt like the story of the Jack-o-lantern (It was used to fool the devil). I love these kinds of folk tales about people that made a deal with the Devil and were able to outwit him. What can you say about the Art? It’s freaking Mignola, so you know it’s beautiful. For being issue 5, I’m not sure if you need to read the rest of the Hellboy in Hell series, or if they are all little vignettes like this one. If they are, this is a perfect one to start on. If you’ve ever felt like reading a Hellboy comic and didn’t want to buy a trade, PICK UP THIS ONE!
Story by Mike Richardson and Tim Seely
Art Mike Norton
In the thrilling conclusion to Charmed: The College years; Cobra Kai rejects are infiltrating the church where the Occultist and his new besties are playing the next step to “Light as a feather, Stiff as a board.” The buddies all astral project to the gate of death again… for kicks. A weird crow things shows up and attacks a women with a gun and then the Hogwarts wannabes astral project to the gate of death again, because apparently it’s better than hanging around the Circle K.
I’m still not feeling the Occultist. It’s warm and fuzzy image of college isn’t interesting or a fun, light-hearted romp. Why a master of the arcane arts would be hanging around these losers is beyond me. Oh, I get it… he likes a girl. They’re totally in love. I mean, totally bro. So the fact that they keep going back to the edge of death and skate around it isn’t written very well at all. Why do they keep doing it? Duh, because they can. Even if it could bring about the destruction of all they know and love? Yep, they’re bored and in college, remember.
The art is pretty good, but nothing that I would say you should run out and look at. The art carries the story, and that’s pretty dang unfortunate. Don’t start with this comic if you are thinking about checking it out. Maybe it will go somewhere, but at this point things are just happening to happen and since this is #3 of 5, I can’t believe how many pages Seely has wasted on unnecessary events.
Script J.W. Rinzler
Art: Mike Meyhew
Charging at you on grim-toothed ostriches comes The Star Wars! In a galaxy further away than before comes Lucas’ first draft. In this issue, we’re still on Tatooine. Half of the party is run down by storm-trooper riding the ridiculous birds on the cover and looking for the other vehicle of characters with similar-ish names to the characters we know. We actually get thrown a bone in the Cantina as much of the old dialogue of Cornelious Evazan (the weird nosed toughie who says “He Doesn’t Like you, I don’t like you either”) is still there. Looks like ol’ Georgy really liked that idea. All that feeling of normalcy leaves as Han Solo shows up looking like Swamp Thing. Then another white dude with a similar hair style and beard as Jedi General Luke Skywalker just to die very non-climactically.
I’m sure The Star Wars sells. It has to sell least enough copies that Dark Horse is continuing to keep printing this. I don’t know why people would still be throwing money at this book, other than to be a completionist. Even the most hard-core of Star Wars fans have to be barely hanging on to this story. This book makes me think that the Phantom Menace was a rough draft that Lucas had to rush out to get made. The script here is terrible. There’s no other way to describe it. Sure, it’s all good that this book shows the rough draft of legend, but this book just illustrates how bad rough drafts can be. Also, the cover is the worst. Look at it. Look at it.
Vincent’s Viewpoint: Yep, the story is a big fat mess. I barely know what’s going on at this point. One of the biggest problems is that there’s too many characters that look similar. However, I do want to buy this thing in a trade when it comes out. Despite it’s goofy nature and general not sense making, I like it enough as a whole that I would like to just look at the art once in awhile.
And yep, Han Solo is an alien because that’s how he was originally intended and in fact there’s pre-production art of him as one. As for the birds on the cover, they’re just dumb. Especially when you factor in that the Stormtroopers are wielding lightsabers on creatures that have especially long necks.
Story and Art: Michael Avon Oeming
The Victories has always been a dark superhero tale. Characters with all kinds of things going on in this gritty world. This issue isn’t different at all. We’ve got D.D. Mau rushing in to save her friends. Most of this story is told through her friend/lover’s eyes. We get a bit more backstory on D.D. and learn more about her friends. Rounding out this tale was a little story about the family name of Pendragon and what that means to a father to his daughter.
I dig the Victories. The writing is usually very clever and the way this comic was written hit me in all kinds of different feel-zones. It was cool to see a tough female with motherly characteristics, as compared to some female characters that are written to be just like dudes. Maybe this wasn’t intentional, but that’s how I took a lot of how D.D. Mau was written. The art as always is a great compliment to what’s going on with the words. I wasn’t into the small story at the end, but that didn’t detract from the main storyline. I’m interested to see where this story goes as Oeming continues to expand his world little by little. I think that’s one of the more charming elements of the Victories; pacing. It never feels daunting. From the three issues I’ve read of the Victories, it seems to want to build slowly. Something that new comic series take for granted. This may not be the worst issue to start up on, but if you like quirky dark superheroes, just buy #1 for a buck! You’ll be happy you did.