Friday, September 14, 2007

Steve's Dynamite Reviews 09/15/07

For those not in the know, Dynamite Entertainment makes comics. Well, okay, Dynamic Forces makes comics and Dynamite is their imprint. But, whatever. Same company, really, so I'll just call them "Dynamite". And a fine bunch they are! If someone were to ask me who one of my fave publishers are, these guys would be at the top of my list.

Since packages containing Dynamite's products mysteriously show up on my doorstep almost regularly, I feel it is my duty to at least mini-review them. That's why I call this "Steve's Dynamite Reviews". Get it? Oh, I kill me. If I get a load of comics from Dark Horse, then I'll call it "Steve Rides a Dark Horse"... No? Then "Steve's Dark Horse Reviews" it shall be. We're not there yet, so let's forge ahead with what we've got.

I added a date in the title for easier reference. Awesome, I know.

This time around I have four comics to yammer about. Sure, I'll add a score. Let's say 1-10, with 10 being the highest, of course. 1 = Unspeakably Bad, 10 = Orgasmically Good.

You get it, I'll wager.

These reviews are not meant to be in-depth or very detailed. Some may be longer or deeper than others. Just please keep in mind that it's whatever I think of off the top of my head. I read lots of comics and other nefarious materials. I wish I had the time to be Tolstoy of Reviews, but I simply cannot. Sorry.

Don't forget that even though I'm completely open about liking Dynamite, I won't hesitate to point out rubbish.

Let's start...

Painkiller Jane #3

You know, I really thought I would hate this series. It has all the trappings of standard boob-action schlock. Hot female leads, girl-on-girl make out sessions, edgy situations-- you get the picture. However, I'm pleased to say that this isn't a bad comic at all. The story is tight and the action is frantic yet easy to follow. It's also dialogue heavy, which is a plus to me; but I know that many of you may go "ehhhh". That said, the talky bits are the best part. My only gripe is that characters say the word "shit" and other similar words often, but they never say "fuck" or any variation thereof. It doesn't seem like a "PG-13" comic to me, more like "R". But the language thing does... Oh, well, not a biggie. I just like more swearing, I guess. Jimmy Palmiotti delivers an exciting and entertaining script, to be sure. Lee Moder's art is easy on the eyes and handles the action stuff nicely.The colours by Chris Garcia are eye-grabbing and vibrant, too. #3 wraps up the first story-arc in a neat and tidy fashion and also in a way as to, I'm guessing, please PKJ fans. This issue has plenty of stuff that goes bang and boom, and Jane is always a bit of a laugh as a lead character. The serious moments work, fitting in seamlessly. In the end: though I'm not a Painkiller Jane fan, if I keep reading more issues like this one, I could very well become one real quick-like.

8.3/10 (Good solid read and well scripted; Should please fans and entice new readers, though I recommend starting from issue #0 or #1)

Eva: Daughter of the Dragon (One-Shot)

I should preface this by stating that the writer, Brandon Jerwa, is a friend of mine; so I may be a tad biased. It's hard to slag a freind's work, you know? Not that Eva is bad or anything, but I've seen and heard that some reviewers were... rather unkind. Don't worry, I'm not going to cut Brandon that much slack. If I think it's terrible I'm going to say so... And it's not. Eva was pretty fun, actually. A rather large story is fit into one $5 issues, and it seems to work well. It focuses on Eva, who happens to be the daughter of Dracula (you know, The Dragon) who grows up to be a god-fearing ass-kicker, and Frankenstein and his patchwork dude fit in there, too. So do werewolves, but not as much as I would have liked. Eh, personal nitpick, so no worries. Anyhow, the story is also told from an amusing narration perspective that, though very cliche, does a serviceable job. It sort of reminded me of Tales from the Crypt meets Night Gallery, directed by Robert Rodriguez. Or something like that. Pacing in this one-shot is handled superbly, and is one of Jerwa's greatest strengths. Even if a plot and characters are kinda weak as we see in Eva, Brandon makes up for it in pacing and style; as well as excellent exposition. There's a lot of it. In fact, all four issues I'm reviewing are meaty with exposition. Good thing it doesn't bother me. Basically, it seems to me that the writer here was handed a pretty cheesy idea and he ran with it, with a mixed bag of results, but still erring on the side of fun. One thing, if I may point out, that bugged me is how quickly in the story Eva reveals herself to be Dracula's daughter to him; it should be noted that this is a one-shot and if it were a series then it probably would have been stretched out a bit. But enough about that windbag. I'd like to talk about the art. It's pretty damn good, although not all that consistent. By that I mean, there are some panels which are gorgeous and them some that are just pretty good. So, not really a complaint. Edgar Salazar is always welcome in my long-boxy home if he keeps doing art like this. Honestly, his illustrative style reminds me of stuff I would see in mighty comics like 2000 AD. I look forward to seeing more of his work. All in all, Eva isn't awesome by any stretch of the imagination. If you want Jerwa being awesome, pick up Battlestar Galactica: Zarek or BSG: Season Zero. Even if Eva isn't awesome, it's one heck of a fun ride and I wouldn't mind reading a follow-up; especially since there were a few things left unresolved.

6.8/10 (Not a bad one-shot to spend your money on, especially if you like Dracula and FrankenMonster and kick ass religious gals, well, kicking ass-- then you can't go wrong picking this up; It's not totally great, though, so expect fun, not The Death of Captain Marvel).

Dark Xena #4

There's really no better way to start this bit other than saying "John Layman needs more work, dammit". Although Dark Xena is not something that is going to win any awards, it should win something simply for the fact that Layman expertly inserts the quirky humour of the show into the script to great effect. If you haven't been following this story, go get issue #1. What's going on? It's a simple tale of "Careful what you wish for, Gabrielle". My only beef is that this should have been longer than 4 issues. It all seemed to wrap up very quickly, which added to herky-jerky pacing issues in this, er, issue. Regardless, I really enjoyed it. Once again, perhaps I'm biased as Layman is my sworn enemy and hates it when people say nice things about his books. I really liked this series. I like how Layman handled it. I love how it's presented, both in narration and art. Noah Salonga has a simple, yet elegant way of literally drawing you into a story. Wait. Did I just say that? Look, as corny as it sounds, it's true. The art is quite good. This series is quite good, and I don't care what anyone else says. Layman must suffer.

7.3/10 (Certainly for Xena fans; great translation from show to comic; characters are handled with care; Keep in mind that it can still be pretty cheesy and/or wacky, though)

The Boys #10

I'm a huge fanboy of this series. At least I was... (and quite probably still am, now that I think about it). Like any new series that starts out strong, it will plateau at some point and all that initial excitement will fade somewhat. It doesn't help if the story can lose focus a tad from time to time and if the plot-devices alway have dildoes and the words "faggot" and "cunt" attached to them in order to gain adult-worthy shock value. That said, I still really enjoy this title. It has its harsh moments where I wonder if Garth Ennis is just recycling ideas over and over and over (he does do it form time to time, I cannot lie) but its good moments more than make up for its bad. Also, the overall message, though coated occasionally in semen, blood, feces, urine, or some combination thereof, isn't usually completely lost. As opposed to that sentence. Damn. Anyhoo, this book still has my attention. And why does it? Because the characters are compelling. Because I want to know more. Because Ennis has weaved a terrific story that despite its flaws manages to shine like... well, a shiny thing. Darick Robertson also manages to bring the joy with his impressive art. It does seem to be wonky a teeny bit from time to time. I don't know if this is because Darick is experimenting with new styles, or I'm just tired, that I have a fist-sized tumour in my head, or something else. It still wows me any way it's cut. He's good. Damn good. And still remains one of my favourite illustrators in the business. Okay, enough cock-smoking... what about the story in this issue? Well, the Get Some arc reaches it's rather anti-climatic conclusion. I was hoping for something more exciting. I suppose this is where The Boys may fail some people. Not every issue-- fuck, not every ARC is going to be packed with fisticuffs and epic battles. Normally, I'm cool with this... But I wish there could have been something more "fisticuffy" or "epic battley" at the end here. Even saying all of that, I was still pretty satisfied with the conclusion. The best part in the whole story is the end, which reveals the fate of Tek-Knight. The last page is one of the best last pages ever in the history of comics. Genius, I tell you. Worth the price of admission alone. Whole lot of talking in this issue, too, and of course Ennis doesn't fail to bring it home. Not perfect, but nothing is. Except maybe the pairing of Ennis and Robertson. --What? It couldn't be helped, alright?! I just think they rule as a team, is all. Move along.

7.9/10 (Decent conclusion to the arc; nice dialogue and some excellent scenes; I just wish it had more oomph--- And best closing page ever... if not ever, then in a long, long time)

And there you have it. Not a bad bunch this time around. I like getting comics that I don't want to throw away or set on fire. Seeing as Dynamite produces many titles, another Steve's Dynamite Reviews should be up soon. In the meantime, I'm sure I can find other things to ramble about.

Oh, and Painkiller Jane #4 is having the Terminator show up. Interesting? Usually I would say "um, no", but considering how well Terminator 2: Infinity is being handled, I'm more curious than I would expect.

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