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Offline Sam Wilson

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sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 10/24/07
« on: October 26, 2007, 06:00:18 am »
Dawg’s Reviews
It was a pretty lean week at the comic book shop this week. In fact I was going to be struggling for books to review. Things have a funny way of working out though as this week our leader and captain WKTF is needed elsewhere to help train the new Captain America. Good luck Joe! Before he left however he wanted to make sure that at least one of his regular books got its proper airtime here in the MIGHTY REVIEWS on Statueforum. Therefore he asked me if I could review Daredevil for him.

There was a couple big happenings however this week in comics regardless of how big my particular pull was. Peter David is back on She-Hulk and the rumor is that my other partner Sam enjoyed it immensely. We had the last issue of Moon Knight before January when Mike Benson and Tex take the reigns. Word… Mike’s gonna turn that book around and we like him around here. We also had X-men… an issue that is the lead in to the grand retooling of the X-Franchise. I was so very impressed that I am suddenly geeked that the X-Men are going to show up and remind us all of why they ruled the roost at Marvel forever before bad decisions left the wheels spinning!

Daredevil #101
Marvel Comics
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Drawn by: Michael Lark

It seems every month we all have this raging internal debate with ourselves. Which Brubaker book is better Captain America or Daredevil? Although I can’t say I always agree with myself, I can say that right now I think it’s Daredevil. There’s a lot of high profile stuff going on with Cap right now and that’s cool, but Daredevil just continues to do what he has been doing since he got news legs in his Marvel Knights reboot with Kevin Smith and Joey Q…. He’s kicking ass, and he’s getting better and better at it. Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark continue to put out well paced, and well thought out, quality books each month.

Well Matt Murdock is about the most human comic book character I have ever read. Right now he’s dealing with a lot. Melvin Potter and old Daredevil villain went on an absolutely insane killing spree. Matt knew Melvin was capable of great evil but not like this since he has reformed. Matt’s wife Milla went bat sh*t and pushed a lady in front of an oncoming train. Matt knows that under no circumstances is his wife capable of doing that. It all lead to and even older Daredevil for by the name of Larry Cranston AKA Mr. Fear. Apparently he’s got a new fear gas that he can use to control the actions of those who fall victim to it. Matt and Fear fight and Fear escapes to his own apartment where suddenly it blows up in a mile high explosion. Without a living Mr. Fear, Daredevil cannot find the answers needed to free Milla and Melvin from this newer and deadlier fear gas.

So what’s the dilly this month? Well I am going to try and be as spoiler free as I can be, but what an issue. Matt goes on the hunt for Fear, believing that he’s not really dead but only in hiding. Milla is committed and given no bail until she can pass a psych eval. She’s scared and looking to Matt for support, but as long as she is in jail the only way to support her is sneak in and be with her as Daredevil. It’s quite a great scene actually further driving home my earlier statement of Matt being the most human superhero I have read. Not only that but he further exhibits this human quality by throwing a tantrum in front of Dakota North, and letting his anger get to him in a way that leaves the criminals in Hell’s Kitchen wishing they weren’t in his way.

This book will not leave you wanting for any of the elements that you love in a comic book. It has enough Daredevil in costume to satisfy and then some, but at the same time the plot moves along so well and the characterization in every page and every panel delivered by Lark is damn near perfection.

I know that I can honestly say that DD has been my favorite book for a long time. I don’t see that changing in any way for awhile as long as Marvel can keep creators and stories like this around. Great stuff and therefore it’s WKTF’s pick of the week.

X-Men #204
Marvel Comics
Written by: Mike Carey
Drawn by: Mike Choi

I’ve said it for months… Mike Carey needs an artist who is less cartoony than Ramos and Bachalo to deliver his stories. I think these artists are great… don’t get me wrong… I just do not like the cartoonish style on the X-Men. I didn’t like it when Joe Mad was there either and I think this has been the reason I haven’t been more forthcoming with praise for this book.

Case in point Michael Choi comes onto the book for this issue and I absolutely was enthralled. I have to say, I am really starting to get excited for this Messiah Complex crossover coming in November. This issue was full of classic character moments both hero and villain and the build up is quite intense.

The X-men are currently licking their wounds from the beating the Marauders gave them and planning their next course of action. Iceman feels it the most though as he is the only person left not battered from Rogue’s assault team.

Cyclops and Emma along with Wolverine decide that the fight needs to be taken to the Marauders and Mr. Sinister, but they agree that there should be a plan at least first. The Marauders are not to be taken lightly and therefore the X-Men would at least like to know why they are even fighting. They know it somehow involves the destiny diaries and that there is some event in them that Sinister doesn’t want them to know about.

Cyclops is reeling from Cable’s death. Iceman is angry from being betrayed by Mystique and in his mind he let the team down. Rogue is captured and Gambit shows signs of why he was a hero but his character remains clouded in mystery.

My greatest compliment to this book is that the X-Men feel like the X-Men. Their characters are done well and that to me is a reason to get excited. I cannot wait for next week when the Messiah Complex one-shot hits. I would keep your eyes here faithful readers as I plan to review what will hopefully be the righting of the X-Ship. It looks promising so far and therefore is my pick of the week.

Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 10/24/07
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2007, 06:00:41 am »
Sam Wilson’s Reviews

Green Arrow: Year One #6 (of 6)
DC Comics
Written by: Andy Diggle
Drawn by: Jock

Andy Diggle and Jock, if you have been reading my reviews for the past few years you know that they were the creative team on one of my all time favorite series ever, “The Losers”, put out by Vertigo comics several years back. The closes thing to an action movie on paper, “The Losers” was a hell of a book, and learning the duo was going to unite on a mainstream super-hero book, I had to check it out. Even if it was a character I had no affinity for: Green Arrow. Green Arrow is essentially the Robin Hood version of Batman. Oliver Queen, a really rich dude, was shipwrecked on a deserted island and taught himself to the peak of human abilities how to be the perfect archer/hunter/tracker etc. He came back to the world and became a hero, getting himself a sidekick named Speedy (now known as Red Arrow), fighting alongside Green Lantern and generally being the looser and more “fun” version of Batman. At one point they took away his fortune and made him more of a “socialist avenger”, sticking it to the man (as noticed in his beef with Hawkman during “Identity Crisis”) but for the most part he was who he was. Given the recent cancellation of his regular series and proposed engagement to Black Canary (she hasn’t accepted yet) DC has decided to “post-crisis” his origin once again, and I gotta say Diggle and Jock are off to a pretty good start…

For those of you who missed the story thus far, here is a quick recap: Oliver Queen (our hero); bored and rich he treks the globe looking for adventure weather it is base-jumping or climbing mountains, it doesn’t matter because his keepers hired a man named Hackett to look over him. Other than being gruff and British, Hackett was a former British Marine with combat experience, the perfect type of guy to babysit a drunken adventuring rich kid. Soon enough we learn Hackett was more than just a babysitter, he was a man with an agenda as he dumped Ollie off of a Yacht in the middle of nowhere and left him for dead. Of course Ollie didn’t die, he just washed up on a island where he taught himself how to hunt and survive. Yeah, and he also got beat up and taken prisoner by some major players in the Heroin trade (turns out the island is one giant poppy field, and the indigenous people have been enslaved and forced to work the land); a deadly woman named China White and his old Buddy Hacket. While being held prisoner Ollie spends most of the time being nursed back to health by a slave girl (he was roughed up pretty good by his captors) and somehow manages to escape only to find himself addicted to opium and on the run. Deciding its time to stop acting like the spoiled rich kid and to man up and be the hero Ollie decides to take his newfound hunting skills and free the people who risked so much to help him and take out some drug dealing scumbags at the same time. Ollie manages to whup that ass all the way to issue six, the final confrontation. One man, some arrows and a whole lot of chutzpah. Really, could it end any other way?

So the origin is there, just tweaked so it is actually FAIRLY BAD ASS. Yup. British Special Ops guys, exotic locales. Diggle and Jock, bring some British zing to possibly one of the dorkiest superheroes ever. Pick up the single issues now, or the inevitable trade which will be announced shortly I imagine, I would highly recommend it.

She Hulk #22
Marvel Comics
Written by: Peter David
Drawn by: Shawn Moll
Cover by: Mike Deodato
Variant cover by: Ed Mcguiness

Since her debut in the early ‘80’s, She Hulk, aka Jennifer Walters aka Shulkie has been both savage and sensational. She’s been a lawyer, a member of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers and has gone crazy and killed the Vision even (seriously). She’s had relations with the Juggernaught (ewww), Wyatt Wingfoot, John Jameson, Luke Cage and even Tony Stark. She’s broken the fourth wall, beaten the crap out of Titanna more times than most and is Marvel’s ultimate gamma powered girl power fantasy woman who takes no guff, whups ass and does it all with a smile and a wink. Then we got Peter David (PAD to his fans). Best known for his work on the “Incredible” Hulk, Mr. David’s run on the Hulk is right up there with other legendary Marvel “runs”, including Frank Miller’s Daredevil and John Byrne’s Fantastic Four. It was only a matter of time, one would figure, that his humorous and intelligent style would lead him towards She Hulk, a match made in heaven if you ask me. So where does that leave Jen? Recently she rejected Tony Starks offer of registration and she subsequently lost her powers, her cousin made most of the Earth’s heroes his slaves (see World War Hulk for more of that) and she gained her powers back but is done with lawyering, which brings us to the current issue…

Our story opens up with Jen Walters, Skip Tracer. Yup. She still works for the same law firm, but in their bail bonds division. Anyway, she’s out to collect the bounty on a third rate supervillan when she unexpectedly gets her neck broken by the Absorbing Man, who happens to be said third rate supervillans cousin. Yes, I said next broken. Then before you know it the Jade Giantess shows up and rains down a whuppin only to be stopped by a miniature Titannia. Yes, I really just said “a miniature Titannia”. Hey, Peter David is back, and it’s Shulkie. What did you guys expect, and FYI, I didn’t even give away the real shocker…

I’m in. This issue was quick and put you right in there, but that’s aiight. Most people who are reading this book are long time fans anyway. So pick this up, everyone could use some more Jennifer in their lives. Word.

Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 10/24/07
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2007, 06:01:32 am »
October’s Trade Reviews

This month, every week, because of our love for Halloween, we’ve devoted our trade reviews to all things scary, spooky, creepy, horrible and blood curdling. At least one trade review each week will be a new review (though, not necessarily of a new trade) and we also will smatter in some past reviews that fit this theme for a veritable smorgasbord of trade monster madness! And, so, we hope you enjoyed last week’s Absolute Terror, the week before’s Werewolf, and the first week’s Classic Monsters themes!

We now continue with our third installment, which includes a bonus DVD review!! This week’s theme is…Dracula vs. Famous Adversaries!

Wktf’s Trade Review

Dracula vs. King Arthur HC
Silent Devil Productions
Written by: Adam & Christian Beranek
Drawn by: Chris Moreno
Introduction by: Jim Krueger (he of Alex Ross co-creator fame)

The four issue “Dracula vs. King Arthur” series received limited circulation and even less press (my reviews excepted) during its 2005-6 run. Silent Devil is a small, independent publisher who put great creative talent on this book but whose publishing delays were pretty extreme. That said, when the product was as stellar as this comic series was, considering it was from a fledgling publisher, I think the delays were completely forgivable. This story blends two different legends, that of the vampire lord Dracula and the Christian hero King Arthur Pendragon of Camelot, into a tale that creates a fantastic, brutal and horror-laden intersection of the two. As a series it was terrific. Packaged as a limited edition, signed HC or as the more readily available trade paperback, it’s a must-have for anyone collecting the best of comic book storytelling!

After being introduced to King Arthur and Vlad Dracul III, and taken down a strikingly parallel tale of their respective lives and rises to power, we find the mortal Dracula in 1473 broken from his wife’s suicide, betrayed to his Turkish enemies by his brother and at death’s door. Lucifer, dramatically and horribly portrayed by Moreno, intervenes and offers Dracula the ability to create a new kingdom, made in his image, if he will only slay God’s chosen champion, the legendary King Arthur of Camelot. Having been seduced by Lucifer’s powers of persuasion, Dracula agrees and, so, is brutally and painfully transformed into the world’s first vampire and sent back in time to the Camelot of yore. Combining his new supernatural powers with his own warlike cunning Dracula gradually turns Camelot, including Arthur’s wife Guinevere and many of Arthur’s Round Table Knights, into a land of the undead. Arthur, in the mean time, is off on a quest for the Holy Grail, a quest on which he dreamed God sent him but which, in reality, was planted in his dreams by Lucifer to remove him from Camelot while Dracula worked his evil ways.

Arthur’s allies include his Knights of the Round Table and his mage and advisor, Merlin. All play a role either in Dracula’s or Arthur’s efforts. At one point in the story, Merlin brutally experiments on one of the vampires’ victims (Amide, the poor sister of Arthur’s knight Percival) to uncover the undeads’ weaknesses while Sir Lemorak, one of Arthur’s remaining Knights, nearly singularly keeps the vampires at bay with his mace and sword. Arthur, himself, loses his holy sword Excalibur, falls to Dracula in battle and, subsequently, discovers Guinevere, Lancelot (Guinevere’s lover, as well as Arthur’s first knight), Galahad and others of his royal circle converted over to Dracula’s vampire curse. The plot progression, scripting, wonderfully energetic art, and sheer horror in this series are absolutely riveting and, as the reader comes to the final chapter of this tale, Arthur’s ability to right this horrible situation truly seems completely hopeless.

And for many of the reasons previously mentioned, Arthur’s cause truly is hopeless. The final battle of the forces of good against Lucifer’s minions of evil is as savage as anything Barry Smith or John Buscema gave us in the pages of Marvel’s Conan stories and, even in victory, some tremendous wrongs simply can not be righted. And humans, even formerly good ones like Lancelot and Guinevere, once turned to vampires cannot be turned back. This book’s ending is shocking, daring, takes no shortcuts and pulls no punches. It is one helluva story and one of the best indie publishing events in a very long time.

Weighing in at over 100 pages of story and retailing for $29.99, this limited HC is very tough to find. Mine, courtesy of Lone Star Comics, is numbered 97/250. For those wanting the trade paperback treatment, you can go directly to Silent Devil’s site at http://yhst-38644429533171.stores.ya...dvkatrade.html and order it for $9.99. It’s a little more expensive on eBay. Both the HC and TPB contain 10 pages of additional story not found in the original mini series that add some depth to an important sub-plot. Both also contain concept art and character sketches the publisher creatively included in each of the book’s chapter headings. In addition, there are some pretty cool webisodes of this series found at for those interested. No matter how you access your “Dracula vs. King Arthur,” you’ll experience one of the most compelling, horror-filled and terrifying good-versus-evil stories to entertain a comic book audience.

Batman & Dracula: Red Rain
DC Comics
Written by: Doug Moench
Drawn by: Kelley Jones

In 1991, DC Comics published Red Rain as an OGN and it stunned everyone I know who read it. From the concept, to the story, to the art, to the tale’s shocking ending, this was a radically different Batman story told in an alternative reality inhabited by Dracula, the Lord of the Undead, as well.

While it makes sense to put these two fictional characters together (both pattern themselves after bats, both come out at night), this book creates an environment that makes their pairing actually seem inevitable. Batman, of course, is more than a man in a bat costume. He’s a visceral, primal force that prowls the night seeking to strike terror into the hearts of criminals whom he deemed, back in his first origin story, a “superstitious, cowardly lot.” His stock in trade is fear, intimidation, and vengeance. He is a creature not unlike Dracula, himself, except that he is not evil. And in Jones’ hands, Batman seems to transcend humanity: the exceptionally long ears on his cowl, the cape that absorbs his body while also spreading out around him like wings, makes him seem like a demon. In addition, these two creators push the sordidness of Gotham City one step further by creating night in perpetuity and giving us prostitutes and the homeless in the most squalid of settings, settings where Batman goes to mete out justice.

But, despite his power, Batman is incapable of fighting the new terror that has come to Gotham. He simply hasn’t the ability to take on Dracula by himself. And he’s not the only one who knows this while also knowing that he is Gotham’s sole chance for survival. Even as Batman investigates the slayings of street people, all of them with their throats brutally slashed, Bruce Wayne is visited while sleeps, as if in a dream, by Tanya, formerly one of Dracula’s minions who now seeks to end her former master’s reign. In eerily erotic visits, Tanya licks Bruce’s neck and comes up with blood on her lips. Now, when Batman hits the streets he is surprised and confused to find not only the night calling him even more than usual but his strength massively augmented as well. Gifts given to him by Tanya to help him in his war against the undead. Plus, he’s developing strange contusions on his back that baffle his doctor and startle Alfred and, later, yield a new capability that horrifies poor Alfred.

Batman must battle hordes of vampires and, eventually, Dracula himself. Tanya and her legions join him as do Gordon and Alfred. Of course, the Lord of Vampires swears vengeance on Batman for monkeying with his plans and in the story’s conclusion the two go at each other like rabid animals. The story’s shocking ending is a victory and defeat for Batman at the same time, one I didn’t expect when I first read it but probably one most everyone knows now, especially since there’s been a Batman statue from this story out for many years now.

The story and art combine for a disturbing, unsettling, and even saddening tale. I’ve felt a little unsettled reading it before because Jones’ art, in particular, really throws the reader’s equilibrium off balance. And Jones continues to step this feeling up as you move from this volume to the second and third (and final) installment in this series, Bloodstorm and Crimson Mist, wherein Batman must war within himself to check his descent further and further into hell. These are brutal, compelling and shocking stories, all beginning with this first tale of death and destruction in the Gotham night. Not for the faint of heart but well worth the time to read.

Dr. Strange vs. Dracula: The Montesi Formula
Marvel Comics
Written by: Marv Wolfman, Steve Englehart, Roger Stern
Drawn by: Gene Colan, Dan Green, Steve Leialoha

Marvel released this trade last year, collecting Tomb of Dracula #44 and Dr. Strange #14 and 58-62, and I was very glad to see it. Tomb of Dracula is one of my single most favorite comic book series of the 1970s. It lasted 70 issues, plus Giant-Size specials and black and white Marvel magazine spin offs and, while not Marvel’s first foray into classic horror characters (Werewolf by Night came first), it was Marvel’s most successful. TOD also boasted one of comics’ longest running creative teams of Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan and Tom Palmer who stayed together on the title for 64 issues once Marv picked up the writing chores for the book with issue #7. Not the legendary Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four or Bendis/Bagley Ultimate Spider-Man runs but, still, pretty damn impressive.

To start, some quick Marvel Dracula background. It relates to this trade, I promise and you’ll see. Frank Drake, a descendant of Dracula’s, ushered the vampire into the Marvel Universe in Tomb of Dracula #1 when he went to Transylvania with his business partner and girlfriend Jeannie to turn his inherited Castle Dracula into a tourist attraction. Naturally, once the stake was removed from Dracula’s corpse all kinds of hell breaks lose from that point onward. Grief stricken over Jeannie’s death, Drake joined the aged and wheelchair bound Quincy Harker (son of Jonathan Harker from Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula) and the young, beautiful, cross bow wielding Rachel Van Helsing (granddaughter of the famous vampire hunter, also from Stoker’s book) all of whom joined forces to combat Dracula. They, in turn, were occasionally joined by Blade and Hannibal King, a private detective turned into a vampire by Deacon Frost, the same vampire who killed Blade’s mother. Later, Harker died in the series’ final battle with Dracula that ended with a silver stake through the vampire’s heart and an explosion that destroyed Castle Dracula and killed the old man. Frank and Rachel, awkward lovers, split up afterwards. Blade went his own way. And that seemed the end of it. During this series’ run and afterwards, Dracula met up witih various Marvel heroes beginning in 1974 with a non-encounter with Spider-Man in Giant-Size Spider-Man #1, but he battled the Silver Surfer in TOD #50 as well as Thor, The Defenders and The X-Men in their comics as well. In fact, it was in X-Men Annual #6 that Dracula murdered Rachel Van Helsing and turned her into his vampiric slave from which she ultimately was freed by Wolverine. But the lord of vampires’ most persistent Marvel adversary was Dr. Strange.

This trade begins with Strange and Dracula’s first encounter in Tomb of Dracula #44 and continuing in Dr. Strange #14. Wong is attacked by a vampire and is dying. Strange enters Wong’s unconscious mind, follows his memories back to the grisly encounter, and discovers Dracula, a being Strange thought a legendary figure only, was the perpetrator. An enraged Strange goes after the vampire lord in hopes of a cure for Wong. The battle between the sorcerer and the vampire is pitched and desperate but, shockingly, Strange falls to the vampire’s bite. With only three days until Strange’s corpse rises as Dracula’s vampire slave, Strange’s astral form frantically battles the vampire, but to no avail. In the end, having risen from the dead, Strange as a vampire must defeat Dracula, his master now, and cure himself and Wong even as his will begins to bend to Dracula’s commands. Though these two issues are crafted by two different writers, Wolfman and Englehart, they both are drawn an inked by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer thus providing perfect visual consistency (not to mention dynamic and powerful art) throughout this harrowingly wonderful tale.

Somehow, though, following his subsequent death at Quincy Harker’s hands (see above), Dracula resurrected himself yet again and now we learn, beginning in Dr. Strange #58, he is seeking The Darkhold, an evil manual crafted by the demon Chthon, the very book that possessed the Scarlet Witch back in the John Byrne art run on the Avengers. With The Darkhold in his possession Dracula could become the ultimate evil on Earth. Through an encounter with Hannibal King (see above), Dr. Strange learns of Dracula’s plans and, with good reason, moves swiftly into action. Strange and Dracula both learn that The Darkhold resides in a vault in Avengers Mansion and, though Dracula is terrified of encountering Thor again (see above), he and his minions breach the mansion. Strange, with the aid of The Scarlet Witch and Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), repels the vampire and spirits The Darkhold to the Transylvanian Castle of Baron Mordo, but not before he leans of the Montesi Formula within this tome, the formula to undo and completely destroy vampires across the globe. Now, with the vampire lord’s acquiring more power from the estranged Darkhold all the time, King gathers up Blade and Frank Drake (see above) who is angry and saddened by Rachel Van Helsing’s death by Dracula in X-Men Annual #6 (see above…see, I told you that Tomb of Dracula background paragraph was relevant to this trade!), and Strange and his crew race to beat Dracula to Mordo’s castle. Of course, what follows is another pitched and desperate battle to save all of humanity and stop one of the single greatest evils ever to walk the planet.

This trade is action packed, tense and filled with a genuine sense of desperation and fear. Despite the variety of writers and artists in this trade, the whole thing holds together extremely well and the respect for continuity and consistency keeps the story flowing nearly perfectly, despite the jump in years between the first story and the second. Gene Colan’s art cannot be beat, but Dan Green’s art is a bit reminiscent of Ditko and Leialoha’s art is conceptually eerie. Given who the writers are in this trade, we should expect nothing more than exceptional stories and that’s exactly what we’re given, not to mention a beautifully colored Gene Colan drawing for this trade’s cover of Dracula standing triumphantly over the fallen Dr. Strange. Great trade and highly recommended.

The Curse of Dracula
Dark Horse Books
Written by: Marv Wolfman
Drawn by: Gene Colan

Okay, so this review doesn’t quite fit the theme of “Dracula vs. Famous Adversaries,” I admit. Still, it’s a Dracula trade and one developed by the Tomb of Dracula fan-favorite team of Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan! So, sue me!

When I saw that this collection was published last year I was overjoyed. I was a huge fan of the Marvel Comics “Tomb of Dracula” series that originated back in the 1970s and brought to critical acclaim, not to mention some pretty hefty sales figures, for eight years and 70 issues by the creative team of Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan (with Tom Palmer, the best Colan inker, on inks). Colan thrived on this series and Wolfman always seemed his best at on it as well, despite runs on both Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four and his Teen Titans book with George Perez which lost steam after a while. But TOD seemed consistently top notch, to me. I’d read that these two had reunited in 1998 on this short-lived mini series but never took the time to track it down. Now, there it was packaged as a trade!

One of the first things you notice, if you were a reader of Tomb of Dracula, is that this is a different Dracula than the Marvel Dracula, whom Colan successfully went to great lengths to portray as large, stately and Slavic. It certainly seems that this distancing from their Marvel work is intentional for this Dracula could be a young British or Italian jet setter, complete with black leather, no cape to speak of and a mop of shaggy hair. And this Dracula appears bent more on political conquest than his thirst for blood. He has seduced the wife of a top Presidential candidate, given to him by the candidate in exchange for Dracula’s help in making him President. Naturally, both the vampire lord and Carole Watterson have an agenda that doesn’t include her husband.

Of course, there’s much here that’s similar to Tomb of Dracula as well. There is a band of vampire hunters many of whom are descended from the characters in Bram Stoker’s novel. Jonathan Van Helsing, grandson of Abraham Van Helsing (leader of Stoker’s band of vampire hunters) raises funds to support his team, leads them into battle with prayer and carries a whip much like Rachael Van Helsing carried a cross bow in TOD. Sebastian Seward, on the run from a band of vampires early on in the first chapter, is the ancestor of Jack Seward who fought along side Abraham Van Helsing in the novel. The other characters include a woman named Hiro who was raped and tortured by vampires and has been infected by them enough to be half vampire herself (not unlike Wolfman’s Blade character) and Nikita Kazan, a powerful ex-KGB agent who replaced the Indian Raj from TOD. Unlike TOD, though, no matter how well funded and organized these vampire hunters are, they never seem to have a chance against this Dracula who is one step ahead of them the whole time.

There’s quite a bit of intrigue as well as R-rated violence and gore in this book. Dracula has an army of hungry and sadistic vampires who love sacrificing humans as well as themselves to their king’s unholy thirst. Wolfman does an awful lot in integrating several unique characters and a twisting plot line, one that really does take a surprising turn at the end, in only three issues. The pace feels a little rushed but, as I mentioned, he had only three issues to tell his story. Gene Colan’s art is fluid, powerful and cinematic in style…in other words, typical outstanding Colan art! Overall, this is an interesting but all too brief Dracula distraction that’s well worth the $9.95 cover price if you’re interested in a different type of vampire tale for your pre-Halloween reading.

Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 10/24/07
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2007, 06:01:46 am »
Direct to DVD Review

Batman vs. Dracula

We normally don’t review video media but, in this case, I wanted to make an exception. Though, at first, I wasn’t a huge fan of “The Batman” cartoon series (I’ve since converted over, though, after watching the first few seasons’ DVD sets) I still was anxious to see this movie. I liked the semi-manga style of the series well enough, this film featured two of my all-time favorite fictional characters, and I’ve always been a big fan of the Moench/Jones Batman vampire Elseworlds series (see my review, above, though I was under no illusion this movie would mirror those works). So, I jumped on this DVD when it was released. And I’m glad I did. I was quite pleasantly surprised at how terrific it was and have watched it several times since buying it.

The Penguin is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum and is informed by an unknown inmate of tens of millions of treasure that’s buried in the Gotham Cemetery, which his would-be partner in crime offers to split with him if Penguin only busts him out of Arkham. The problem is that this other inmate, hedging his getaway bets, has also informed the Joker about his stash. During the Joker’s expected prison break the Penguin makes his move as well and both arch criminals find themselves face-to-face on their way to the cemetery, each wanting the booty. While Batman goes after the Joker the Penguin makes it to the cemetery only to revive and become the human thrall of none other than Count Dracula, long imprisoned and forgotten in Gotham. Dracula discovers he’s no longer in Transylvania and Penguin serves as his enslaved guide to the city which, slowly but surely, becomes a breeding ground for the undead. Of course, Batman and Dracula discover each other and the vampire lord offers The Dark Knight an immortal undead existence, with Batman’s predictable response. But Batman finds he must fight a foe who moves with blinding speed, possesses a brilliant mind that thinks quicker than he does, is able to hypnotize and enslave others, and whose strength and agility is vastly superior to his own. Truly, the beating that Batman endures at Dracula’s hands is savage, one he barely survives, and was painful to watch. As Gotham falls deeper under Dracula’s curse, Batman becomes more desperate to cure its citizens and destroy Dracula, and when his brilliantly engineered plan backfires on him he must use all his skills and endurance to maneuver Dracula into a hastily configured alternative scenario.

Be warned: This is not the stuff of kiddie Saturday morning cartoons. Dracula, especially after he’s resurrected by the Penguin, is a truly evil and disturbing monster whose attacks on others are brutal. There’s also a considerable amount of blood spilled in this film, especially when Batman must confront a vampiric Joker in the blood bank. And the Joker, when transformed by Dracula, becomes an even more hellish version of himself, skittering along the walls and ceiling and lapping up pools of blood like a depraved animal on all fours. Both a stunning Vicki Vale, making her premier appearance in this series, and Alfred finds themselves in serious danger. And the nightmare that shocks Bruce Wayne out of his sleep as he recovers from Dracula’s bludgeoning him is truly disturbing, ending with a vampiric Batman crouched low in a window and bearing huge fangs. For sure, this is a cartoon made for adults (though my 13 year old loved it).
If you’re not familiar with the WB’s Batman offering you may be put off by the young, agile Penguin (this series takes place early in Batman’s and his foes’ careers) or the re-imagining of the Joker as a neo-Rastafarian. Also, some elements of this film don’t quite make sense. For instance, Batman discovers the catacombs Dracula uses to avoid all the graveyard crosses as he exits Gotham Cemetery. But, knowing the vampire lord’s aversion to crosses, why go into battle against him twice without crosses strapped to his front and back? Regardless, this is an edge-of-your-seat exciting film that fires on all cylinders from beginning to end. Any Batman or Dracula fan (or, like me, fan of both) should love it!

Offline masigl4179

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Re: sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 10/24/07
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2007, 07:56:19 pm »
11 picks for October 24.

11. Countdown#27- I liked the fight with Monarch and his crew but other than that I really have no idea what's going here. Can someone provide a cohesive story flow for me here. Oh, I also thought the art was dope as well.

10. Blue Beetle#20- This issue wasn't that bad but since I stopped reading this title I really don't have any idea what's going on with the Reach. I just know that they are responsible for Blue Beetle's powers and they don't like Green Lanterns.

9. The Authority Prime#1- Hmm, yet again I have followed Christos Gage to another title, and I have to admit this may be promising. I'm curious to see how the Authority and Stormwatch are going to interact with one another.

8. X-men#204- Last issue before the Messiah Complex and I'm not sure if anything is really resolved but now that I think about everything that's been happening with Rogue's team and in the Endangered Species back up has all been set up. I just hope the Messiah Complex can deliver. Also, thank the stars for the art change this issue, and I'm happy to see Wanda again even if it was int the back up story.

7. What if: Planet Hulk?- I have to admit it was dope and I liked it. Hell, I've liked almost everything World War Hulk related lately so it looks like Marvel has hit another home run out of the park with this one.

6. Teen Titans#52- I am utterly fascinated with the Titans of the future. Seriously, those are some bad ass mofos! I'm curious as to how this whole thing is gonna get resolved if it is even resolved at all.

5. Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime#1-Yep this boy is still off his rocker. My only complaint is that I wish we could have gotten new information about him like we did with the Cyborg but hey at the end of the day that's probably a minor complaint. Also I dug the back story about Lyssa Drak and the married Green Lanterns.

4. Green Lantern Corps#17- Aw, the corps. I like the cover and since the Sinestro Corp War started there has been plenty of action. I liked the San Diego Convention Center and Comic con this issue but I guess the big news is that the Daxamite Sodam Yat is the New Ion, just in time to go toe to toe with Superman Prime.

3.Black Panther#31- You know what I like about Black Panther? How quick everything moves in this title. They literally keep jumping from bad situation to another.You know it actually kind of reminds me of that old sci-fi show Sliders or better yet Exiles before Claremont killed it for me.

2. Thunderbolts#117- Once again Warren Ellis takes into the most dangerous super hero(?) team in America. I really like how Dr. Leonard Samson was portrayed in this issue. Man, ya'll just need to do yourselves a favor and read this book. I highly recommend it!

1. She Hulk#22- Peter David has done it again. I'm really impressed by his inaugural issue of She-Hulk and he already has me wanting to come back for more. Seriously, under Dan Slott this was one of the best titles people weren't reading and now Peter David seems like he is about to take the character a whole new direction. I'm ready to ride.