Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Twist on a Tried-and-True Concept: Morning Glories #1

Some of us may have to think harder than others to remember, but everyone who has ever attended school can surely think back to a scary first day. Whether it was elementary school, middle school, high school, or college, the concerns are basically the same. What if the other kids don't like me? What if the teachers are mean? What if the classes are too hard? What if the school is going to imprison me and kill my family if they refuse to forget me? Oh, wait. That last one only happens at the Morning Glory Academy.

Morning Glories #1, by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma, is the start of a new Image that feels like it is destined for a successful future. The first issue introduces a large cast of characters, giving us plenty of opportunity to get to know them all before they end up packed off to the scariest boarding school ever. Each character has a very different and distinct background, making them an interesting and diverse group. They all seem to be highly intelligent, but some are selfish and vain, some are resourceful and ambitious, and a couple of them seem like they might just be outright evil.

It is unclear what thread connects these disparate individuals, but Spencer has made them all interesting enough that you will want to know what happens to them now that they find themselves thrown together at Morning Glory Academy. The school itself seems to be, on the surface, a prestigious boarding school for the best and the brightest. They boast that their unconventional techniques allow their students to reach the pinnacles of their potential, but there is some disturbing stuff just underneath the surface of life at the academy. One thing is for sure, they aren't kidding when they say you have to "cast off" your previous life to begin your journey at this school.

With well-developed characters, creepy teacher shenanigans, and loads of mysteries to explore, there is a lot to catch your attention in Morning Glories #1. The large cast is well-represented with gorgeous art that makes each one a distinct individual, and the teens are, in many ways, typical teens, without ever descending into becoming stereotypes. Throw in some very scary teachers and an occasional goat sacrifice, and this is a book that you don't want to miss.

Whether you are about to go back to school, or you're sending your own kids out the door this week, now is the perfect time to tag along to class with the latest group of students to attend the Morning Glory Academy. This book is 100% guaranteed all week at Four Color Fantasies, so you've got nothing to lose! If nothing else, your own school experience will seem a whole lot better!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Wild Read: Welcome to Tranquility #2

I think we all know that, in accordance with the universal laws of irony, if you name a place Tranquility, it will be anything but tranquil. The equally universal laws of super-hero comics also state that if you put a whole bunch of super-powered individuals together in any one place, trouble will soon follow. Add these two facts together, and you can imagine that the super-hero retirement community of Tranquility, CA. is a place that attracts huge heaps of trouble. It is a great place to visit, but it might be inadvisable to live there.

Wildstorm's latest Welcome to Tranquility limited series, from creator Gail Simone and artist Horacio Domingues, drops both readers and characters right into the middle of all that trouble. Mayor of Tranquility, and former heroic adventurer, Alex Fury has been in a whole heap of hot water for a little matter of attempted murder. Fury, AKA Judge Fury, is like the crankiest old grampa you ever knew, if he could pick up a building and smash you in the face with it when you ticked him off. As a politician, Fury knows how to make a jury see things his way, and he quickly finds himself heading for home and a celebratory meatloaf. Of course, nothing in Tranquility really goes as planned. The meatloaf is put on hold when the sheriff's car delivering Mayor to his welcome home party is attacked by an incredibly powerful young man who looks not entirely unlike a young Alex Fury.

Simone adeptly weaves together a little humor, a lot of social satire, a few nifty twists on comic book conventions, and a diverse and interesting cast of characters in Welcome to Tranquility. With excellent and fun art from Domingues, this new series is really firing on all cylinders. If you have read any of the previous stories set in this unique universe, you really have to see what happens next. If you have never visited Tranquility before, you can fire your travel agent and start the tour right here.

With surprise resurrections, helpful relationship tips, amazing meatloaf, betrayals, serious bludgeonings about the head, and so much more, you need to schedule a visit to tranquility today. Luckily, your good friends at Four Color Fantasies are looking out for you. You don't need to book a flight or look for a hotel room, you just need to check in at your friendly neighborhood comic shop! Not only can you try out Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave for a mere 3.99 per issue, we'll guarantee your trip! If you don't enjoy your stay, you can return the book and get your money back

Issue #2 is one the stands and #1 is still available, so act now to take advantage of this offer! Tranquility may not offer the most restful vacation you've ever had, but it sure will be interesting. Just don't go asking Mayor Fury for any of that icky old man butterscotch candy, he'll kick your butt for ya, ya smarty-pants kid.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

A Double-dose of Gorilla-Man fun

There are some things that comics can do that no other medium can handle. One of the most amazing, incredible, awesome things that comics can truly bring to life is a talking gorilla who wears pants. Seriously, in any other medium, this is going to be a hard sell. Sure, you can have a lame guy in a gorilla suit, or a fancy, shiny, CG gorilla, or even a Muppet gorilla, but those never really work to convince an audience that the talking gorilla is real.

Think of all the great examples out there in comic-land: Gorilla Grodd, Angel and the Ape, Monkeyman and O'Brien, Tom Strong's King Solomon. Who doesn't love these characters? If Alan Moore was enough of a genius to know that his superhero universe wasn't complete without a well-dressed, chatty, gorilla, who are we to argue? Luckily, we can now add one more name to the gorilla honor roll-Ken Hale, the Gorilla-Man!

Marvel's Atlas family of books have been consistently well-written and great fun, but they have somehow gone unnoticed by many fans. It's too long a story to relate here but, in the excellent Agents of Atlas series, Jimmy Woo manages to resurrect his team of Golden Age Marvel/Atlas characters to sort out the problems of the present day Marvel Universe. This brilliant team of adventurers includes the robot M-11, Marvel Boy the Uranian, Namora, and Gorilla Man. Together, they go on action-packed adventures and fight the threats no other team is cool enough to handle. Each of the characters is a star all on their own, so it's great that there is a new mini-series that gives Gorilla-Man a chance to shine on his own.

Ken Hale actually became Gorilla-Man decades ago when he shot and killed a magical gorilla which gave him the gift of immortality, and the curse of being trapped in the body of the gorilla. The mini-series, by Jeff Parker and Giancarlo Caracuzzo, tells two titanic tales. The story of how Hale, adventurer and soldier of fortune, became the man he was before becoming Gorilla-Man, and a full-on action tale as Ken heads to Africa sort out an evil smuggler and his personal army. With great stories, excellent art, and a huge dose of fun, this is a series you don't want to miss.

Lucky for you, you don't have to miss it! Not only is Gorilla-Man Four Color Fantasies' Guaranteed Book of the Week, we have two simian-packed issues on the stands! Pick up the first issue, and we're pretty confident that you'll be back for the second. Or just go all-out and pick up both of them today! Gorilla-Man #1 & 2 will give you your recommended daily allowance of butt-kicking gorilla dispensing wise-cracks and wearing pants. What else could you possibly need? (Though if you DO need more, there are also some cool Golden Age reprints and a snarky @Ken_Hale twitter feed provided. So there!)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Seeing Red: Scarlet #1

You know, I think it's fair to say that almost everyone has a moment in their life, somewhere in the teen years, where they realize that a lot of crummy stuff goes on in the world for no discernable reason. It's a pretty painful moment, passing from the naive innocence of youth to the pessimistic negativity of adulthood. That moment is why most teens have a pretty grumpy, angsty, few years where they work out how they, personally, are going to deal with life. Some people just let life make them angry and unhappy, some people try to find positive ways to make the world a better place, some people try to ignore the problem and hope it goes away, and some people plan armed and violent revolution. Well, that last option brings us to Scarlet.

Scarlet is a new creator-owned book from the well-known duo of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. If you've followed Bendis' work, you know there are really two versions of the fan-favorite writer. There is the Bendis who writes big, crazy superhero books like Avengers and Ultimate Spider-man, and there is the harder-edged Bendis who writes low-down and mean crime comics, like Jinx or Alias. (Not to forget Powers, which is kind of a mix of both.) I personally like both Bendis styles, though I know some tend to pick one or the other. Scarlet firmly falls in the latter category.

Scarlet is the story of a pretty average teenaged girl from Portland, with a pretty average life. At least until the day when the horrible unfairness of the world comes up and smacks her hard in the face. I won't give away what happens, but it turns her into the kind of girl who we see killing a cop in an alley on the first page of the book. She has her reasons, and she knows what she is doing is wrong, but she feels like she is doing what she has to do. Scarlet is certainly not the kind of person any of us would want to be, but she is an interestingly conflicted character.

Bendis tries out an interesting narrative technique for this book, with Scarlet breaking the fourth wall to speak directly to the reader. She doesn't just make an occasional quip or aside to the reader ala Deadpool or She-Hulk. Scarlet talks directly to the audience, telling us her story in a way that quickly gets the reader involved in her world. Maleev's amazing artwork is a perfect fit for this story. His photo-realistic style captures Scarlet's very real world, and the muted colors add to the somber tone of this book. These creators have worked together before to great acclaim, and Scarlet seems perfectly designed to let them show off what they do best.

So, unleash your inner angsty teen (or just keep your outer one in place) and try out Scarlet #1 while it is Four Color Fantasies' Book of the Week. It is 100% guaranteed! So, you see, the world isn't really such a bad place. Guaranteed comics make people happy!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Main Man's in Town: Green Lantern #55

Who is the baddest dude in the whole DC Universe? A few hints: He's pasty and mean! He's got a sweet chopper and a huge meat hook! He has a serious attitude problem and he's not afraid to flaunt it!! He's the main man and the last Czarnian!! You know him and fear him!!! Lobo!

Yes Lobo, the roughest and toughest bounty hunter in all of space and time, is on the scene in Green Lantern #55, and you know that's gonna be bad news for someone. In this issue, the somewhat questionable Red Lantern Atrocitus (Did his alien parents really think it was a good idea to name their kid Atrocitus? That is never going to end well.) has had a price put on his head, and Lobo shows up to collect. Unfortunately, having Lobo and Atrocitus fighting it out in crowded city streets is probably not the best thing for health and safety of the citizenry. Luckily, a whole bunch of other, nicer, Lantern people show up to save the day and limit the damage.

Admittedly, I don't think I've ever actually read a whole issue of Green Lantern before, so I don't really know who most of these characters are, and this issue really is kind of in mid-story, so there were some elements that I didn't really get. But the beauty of this book is that, even if you don't know these characters, it's LOADS of fun to watch Lobo beat them up. And I'm pretty sure any Green Lantern fan is going to enjoy watching Hal Jordan steal Lobo's ride. Plus, Lobo's dog fights Atrocitus' awesome Red Lantern cat. I didn't know the Lanterns handed out rings to animals, but I can totally support the idea of more super-powered pets. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with that idea?

To sum up. If you are a Green Lantern fan, you need to see what happens when the Lanterns face the violent and angry threat of Lobo busting up their streets. If you aren't a fan, then you really don't want to miss the love child (Allegedly!) of Superman and Wolverine smashing their brightly colored, flying glow fairy faces in. It's a win-win!

So, hop on your space-hog and head on over to Four Color Fantasies where Green Lantern #55 is our guaranteed Book of the Week. Did I mention this book has Lobo in it? Well, it does. Lots of Lobo! So read it or else!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Overlooked Dynamic Duo in the spotlight: Hawkeye & Mockingbird #1

Three Dog Night once sang, "One is the loneliest number that you'll ever know." (Go ahead and give the song a listen and then come back here. I'll wait.) Truer words were never spoken, yet so many superheroes in comicdom feel the need to be all "lone wolf" and broody, waging a one hero war against the forces of evil. Sure there are the big hero teams out there, but those guys can't hold a candle to the teamwork of a good duo. Batman and Robin, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, the Doctor and the Tardis, they all prove that a good pair is the way to go.

For a long time the Marvel Universe's best pair was broken up, mostly due to both of them being dead. (At different times, but still...) Luckily, now that all that Dark Civil Siege business is over and naughty little Norman Osborne has been locked up, the Marvel U is a happier place. Many characters long thought dead, or lost in new identities, are back where they belong. Amongst those returnng to the fold are the dynamic duo of Hawkeye & Mockingbird! These two heroes are both lovers and fighters and, when they're not smooching, they love nothing better than teaming up to save the world from terrorists and evil-doers of all kinds.

Hawkeye & Mockingbird #1, by Jim McCann and David Lopez, puts this titanic twosome front and center. Sometimes it's easy for these lesser-powered types to get lost in the huge casts of Avengers teams, so having their own book really gives them a chance to shine. The book starts with a great action sequence that really shows off how much fun these two have fighting evil, even when things don't quite go according to plan. Mockingbird, not really comfortable hanging with Hawkeye's Avenger buddies, has gathered up a bunch of former S.H.I.E.L.D. types to form the World Counterterrorism Agency. The WCA does the behind the scenes work of figuring out who needs a good kicking, and then Hawkeye and Mockingbird deliver.

Of course, a monthly comic needs conflict, so all is now sweetness and light with our heroes. Coming back from the dead leaves you with a few issues, and Bobbi (AKA Mockingbird) seems to be struggling with those complications a little more than Clint "Hawkeye" Barton. Like a good boyfriend, Clint tries to figure out how he can help, but his efforts just make things weirder. There are also a few members of the WCA team who may not be all that they seem, and it probably doesn't help matters that the couple has guys like Crossfire shooting at them...

This is a fun book with great art and a daring duo who deserve your attention. (On a side note, Mockingbird's redesigned costume is excellent. Definitely one of the best superhero looks out there.) Don't be a loner! Try Hawkeye & Mockingbird #1 now, while it is Four Color Fantasies guaranteed Book of the Week!

No need to be wary, Serenity: Float Out! lives up to licensed property

Licensed comics based on TV shows and movies can be a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes they provide a great way for beloved characters to live on in another medium, giving fans a chance to experience further adventures of their favorites. Unfortunately, sometimes fans must be wary because tie-in comics can be a ridiculous, lame excuse to part fans from their cash while despoiling the likenesses of once great characters. Luckily, for Joss Whedon fans, Mr. Whedon seems to keep a pretty close eye on what is done with his creations in comics. Some excellent books have been created featuring Buffy, Doctor Horrible, and Firefly/Serenity. Serenity: Float Out is one such book!

Serenity: Float Out deals with the aftermath of the death of pilot Hoban "Wash" Washburne in the movie Serenity. (I'm not worried about spoilers at this point. If you haven't seen the 5 year old movie by now, you probably aren't going to!) Three of his former comrades are christening a new ship, the Jetwash, in his honor. Each tells a tale of Wash's amazing prowess as a pilot, and his unusual quirks as a friend. As it does deal with the death of an important character, this is a somber book, but it does also have some moments of humor and hope.

This Dark Horse book is written by actor/comedian/comics fan Patton Oswalt with art from Patric Reynolds. Oswalt does a great job with the script, capturing the feel and voice of the characters and telling us the kind of story that would be hard to make work in a movie or TV episode. Reynolds art does a nice job of capturing likenesses without making it look like he just traced publicity shots of the actors. I've seen enough licensed comics where that happens to be glad it isn't the case here!

If you are a fan of Firefly/Serenity, you know you can't miss this book! If you aren't a fan and just want a nifty sci-fi tale about ships flying around and shooting at each other (and there seriously aren't enough of those nowadays!), then you should give this one a chance. Either way, Serenity: Float Out is guaranteed all week at Four Color Fantasies, so you've got nothing to lose by zipping through the old asteroid field and buying this comic. (Bottle of christening champaigne not inlcuded.)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

It's MAGIC - great art and writing come together in Zatanna #1

"Hey, Batman, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!"

"Again? Clark, this trick never works."

"This time for sure. Nothing up my sleeve....And Presto!"

(Horrific, fanged, Kryptonian beast emerges from the hat and begins frantically chewing on Superman's indestructible head. Batman smirks.)

"Hmmm, maybe I need to get another hat..."

This exchange, with apologies to the great Bullwinkle J Moose, does have a point. If there is one thing the Big Boys of the DC Universe don't really know how to handle, it's magic. Batman and Superman are all about logic and science, even if some of that science sometimes seems pretty close to magic. So when a bad guy shows up who is all about the Hocus Pocus, and the rules of the universe suddenly no longer apply, they need an expert who can wave a helping wand. Lucky for them, that expert just happens to be a gorgeous lady in fishnet stockings and thigh-high boots: Zatanna!

Zatanna #1 gives DC's first lady of magic a chance to shine in her own ongoing series by fan-favorite writer Paul Dini and penciller Stephane Roux. Zatanna is a stage magician by trade, but she's genuine super-heroic spell-caster when the unexplained and weird hits the good folks of the DCU. When Detective Dale Colton shows up backstage, it isn't because he wants to catch the secrets of Zee's act. He has a club full of dead crime bosses who died in some seriously disturbing ways. As in "completely impossible according to the laws of Physics" kinds of ways.

The investigation leads Zee to a skeevy necromancer called Brother Night and his merry band of supernatural horrors: Romalthi the transmogrifier, Ember the unborn dragon, and a little freak, with a box of bugs, named Teddy. Don't get me started on Teddy. He's an icky little sucker. Though Brother Night and his cronies don't seem to be much of a match for Zatanna, he has made a deal with some very powerful entities that just might threaten our heroine more than she suspects...

Dini's love of this character really comes through in the writing, and Roux's artwork makes Zatanna look gorgeous and the foes she faces look truly disturbing. Plus, how many super-heroes can pull off the trick of fighting evil in a sexy tuxedo and top hat? I'd like to see the Hulk or Aquaman try that. Even Doctor Strange can't get away with a top hat.

So, what do we have up our sleeve this week? Only a great deal on an excellent new book! Zatanna #1 is our guaranteed Book of the Week! If you don't like it, you can return it for a full refund. Taa-Daa! It's MAGIC! (Insert mystical hand waving and puff of obscuring smoke here.)