Sunday, November 7, 2004

Looking To The Stars: Across The Pond Presents #1 - A Review

With Wizard World Texas having taken place in my backyard this past week, you'd think that ol' Unca Stars would have been in attendance. That I would be there… ready to rub elbows with the creators. Lead a lynch-mob after Michael Turner to ask why Superman/Batman #13 still remains unreleased. Pick up the variant of the variant of a Wolverine comic I didn't even want the ordinary cover of.

Well, had it not been for a personnel crisis at work involving three people's resignations (some more sudden then others) which required me to work the entire weekend, I very well might have. Sadly, since working most of the weekend has become a habit for me, I was well prepared for this and had long since accepted that the odds of me attending Wizard World were virtually nil.

Still, Wizard World did have an effect upon my plans for this week. For it was at Wizard World last year that I made the acquaintance of a talented writer by the name of Drew Edwards. A few months ago, Drew contacted me, telling me that after self-publishing his characters to his website, he was about to get his first professional publication gig and would I be interested in getting a preview copy?

Incidentally, if you haven't had the good fortune to see Drew's comic Halloween Man, take a quick break right now to check it out at Anyone who is a fan of old Lee/Ditko Spider-Man to say nothing of funny horror movies like "Evil Dead" and "Dawn of the Dead" will love this. And the rest of you probably will too.

Anyway, I spoke with Drew's editors, got my copy of their latest title… and found myself enjoying the whole thing quite a lot. I asked if they would have any objections to being featured in an article a few days before the release of the book. Needless to say, they were happy for the press and all was well and good after they gave me a release fate for the book of "November 10th.

This worked out doubly well, I realized, after I learned the dates of Wizard World Texas. Sure, I'd miss the con… but I could be certain of getting a good article out that week and being able to give some attention to a small indie title that could use some press…

And that's when I found out that that the release date had been bumped up without anyone telling me. Seems this wonderful new comic, Across The Pond Presents #1… actually came out two weeks ago as I write this.

Mea culpa.

Still, the title is still out there. The review is still written. And the book may be available at Across the Ponds website ( if your local shop doesn't have it and Mile High Comics is out of it. Regardless, this title is well worth hunting down, no matter what.

Metal Locus: Ground Floor Up
Written by: Keith Champagne
Penciled and Inked by: Sergio Cariello
Colored by: Rick Hiltbrunner
Lettered by: Charles Pritchett

Probably best known as the inker on JSA, Keith Champagne has recently turned his talents to a different type of penwork. He recently did a story for Legion of Superheroes as well as this post-apocalyptic yarn that reads like "Of Mice And Men 2099."

The action centers on two cyborg brothers in the future: Charlie the big, well-meaning one and Cliff, the default brains of the operation. The two are mercenaries, down on their luck until the typical gorgeous dame turns up with an offer they can't refuse.

Amusing in an off-beat kind of way, this story would not be out of place in 2000 AD or Heavy Metal. It is well matched with artwork by CrossGen mainstay Sergio Cariello, who manages the neat trick of creating a dirty dystopian city with some of the cleanest artwork ever seen.

The Adventures of Gauche-Man
Written by: Scott Fry & Stephan Nilson
Penciled and Inked by: Scott Fry
Colored by: Michael Wolf
Lettered by: Charles Pritchett

We know from the instant we see the hero… back-lit like a Miller drawing… cape furling like a McFarlene character… and a KICK ME sign blowing majestically in the breeze behind him, that this ain't going to be Batman or Spawn. And that's when most of us sigh with relief and add "Thank God!"

If you're looking for superhero satire as sophisticated as, oh say… The Tick… look elsewhere. This is outright silliness on par with the long lost "Inferior Five" and the best of Monty Python. Right down to the snooty British announcer heaping praise and insults on our hero as he struggles to find and save a screaming woman.

Fry has a real gift for comedy, both as a writer and an illustrator. He manages a bit of stylistic parody of a few different styles. And yet, he manages to blend everything together so that characters like Anime Girl look every bit as natural standing next to the Frank Miller-esque Gauche-Man.

Halloween Man: Working Stiffs
Written by: Drew Edwards
Penciled by: Nicola Scott
Inked by: Mike Furth
Colored by: Jess Farrell
Lettered by: Charles Pritchett

I've heaped enough praise on the brilliance of Edward's writing and concepts in the past. But one more time won't hurt…

What we get here is a typical Halloween Man tale: half-man/half-zombie Solomon Hitch, empowered by the spirits of classic horror movies and armed with a magical spade, teams up with his girlfriend Lucy and best friend (Man-Goat, a superhero who is half man/half goat) to fight various evils. In this case, various evils equals a whole mess of vampires.

The story is a great little intro to what the character does, but not really who he is. We don't get so much as a back-story or secret origin here. While this isn't a problem for an old fan like me, I can see it being it bloody confusing for new reader's first exposure to the character. Still, the artwork is some of the best I've ever seen paired up with Edward's scripts.

Necro City Chronicles: A Shot In The Dark
Created by: Richie Blackmon
Written by: Scott Parker and Mitch Byrd
Art by: Mitch Byrd
Colored by: Rick Hiltbrunner
Lettered by: Charles Pritchett

Somewhat reminiscent of "Rob Zombie's Spookshow" in both tone and art style, this story will be a hit with anyone who is a fan of that aforementioned title as well as the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Dashiell Hammett. Despite some rather obvious tributes, it manages a unique feel, as it centers upon crimes and sins in a Noir landscape in a city full of demons and nightmares.

Pin-up artist Mitch Byrd is uniquely qualified to draw this story. This story isn't for the kiddies and he makes that apparent in every panel, creating a deep aura of sensuality in every demonic dancer, even if the most we actually see is one briefly bared buttock.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. NEW Matt Website.

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