BLACK CANARY #3
Company Name: DC Comics
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artists: Paulo Sequeira and Amilton Santos
THE STORY THUS FAR: Full-time superheroine Dinah Lance aka The Black Canary is trying to decide whether or not to accept the proposal of her long-time boyfriend Oliver Queen aka The Green Arrow, while trying to find a place for herself and Sin (her adopted Asian daughter who, like all Asian girls in comic books, is a deadly assassin in training) in this crazy, mixed-up world.
League of Assassins member, evil archer and all-around coward, bully, cad and thief Merlyn, in an effort to unite the various broken factions of the League of Assassins, has kidnapped Sin with the intent on turning her into their next Wunderkind.
THE GOOD PARTS
* Dinah gets some very good bad-ass moments here and a lot of "Bruce Willis" lines. My favorite?
MERLYN: (shooting two arrows at Dinah) Y'know, I beat your boyfriend single-handedly!
DINAH: (snatching one arrow in mid-air and holding it as the other arrow cuts into it and stops dead) So did I.
* Dinah is far from the helpless victim she was in the last Green Arrow arc. Indeed, she handly beats Merlyn and he escapes the fury of the Canary only because Dinah let's him go. Literally.
* The artwork is well-layed out and paced very well.
* The colorist rememebered that the arrow symbol on Speedy's chest is yellow, not flesh-tone, this time.
* Ollie is portayed as being a basically decent guy and a competent crime-fighter. I know I shouldn't have to make a big deal about this, but it's rare enough I think I have to... especially given that it looks like he perfectly executes a cunning plan in this issue.
THE BAD PARTS
* Dinah and Sin both making the porn-face on the cover.
* Mia's constantly calling Ollie "Boss". It makes her sound like Tatu from Fantasy Island.
* While the action is laid out well, some of the expressions are very strained. To give one example, Dinah looks WAY too panicky in the early scenes while talking to the police. It makes sense for her to be worried but her expressions make her look more hysterical than anything and it doesn't mesh well when she's angry and beating up Ollie a page later.
* One small logic problem: The League of Assassins planned to kill Dinah's ex. They know clearly, from Merlyn's security camera, that something went wrong with the plan when said ex shows up alive at Merlyn's office. So why do they allow Merlyn to go off on his own to investigate, especially when they know there's at least three, maybe more, superheroes in town trying to track them down? I'm just saying there's little point in being a master assassin if you don't send mooks out whenever you can.
* If it turns out Ollie DIDN'T plan out what happens in the last two pages... I will be very annoyed with DC Comics.
THE FINAL WORD: While I'm not Bedard's biggest fan, I must admit that he does seem to have a better handle on Black Canary and Green Arrow than anybody else at DC right now with the exception of Gail Simone. It's not perfect but it's pretty damn good.
Company Name: Parody Press
Writer: Bill Maus
Artist: Bill Maus
THE STORY THUS FAR: Do you remember the good ol' days when you used to pick up the new MAD Magazine from the grocery store magazine stand and read all the parodies of popular TV series and movies? The ones with the names changed around so that Sam Spade became Sham Spayed? The ones with cute little site-gags in the background like Beetlejuice standing in the background of the Batcave back in the Michael Keaton days?
Imagine one of those written with all of the jokes removed in favor of racism, pop-culture references for the sake of pop-culture references and puns too painful even for CRACKED! and you have a pretty good idea about what HEWOES is like.
THE GOOD PARTS
* Will make every MAD Magazine and CRACKED! your mom swore would rot your mind look like Mark Twain in comparison.
* Parody Press probably didn't spend much on this book, since one man did the writing, artwork and lettering.
* Rage inspired by the blatant racism of every scene with Hiro and Mohinder takes away from the pain of the unfunny jokes and sight-gags.
THE BAD PARTS
* Despite a wealth of material to mock, it spends most of its' time mocking the first episode.
* Most of the references are included for the sake of making a reference and have no relevance to anything. For instance, the scene where Claire drops her ring into a running garbage disposal is recreated - with Gollum on hand to shout about "The Precious" as we see that the ring, for some reason, is engraved with the wit and wisdom of Mr. T.
* Some gags, such as "Shave the Cheerleader, Shave The World" in order to stop the hair-cutting villain Stylar, are painful to read. And did I mention the racism with Hiro's Engrish chop-saki dialogue and Mohinder being featured as a 7-11 clerk on the cover?
THE FINAL WORD: Publisher Don Chin says it all on his website - "It's been about 8 years since the gang at Parody Press did anything new in comics and we have been just itching to get back in. If this book is anything like their previous work, I can see why it's been eight years since Parody Press printed anything. Don't quit your day-jobs.
SPIDER-MAN/RED SONJA #1
Company Name: Marvel Comics & Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Michael Avon Oeming
Artist: Mel Rubi
THE STORY THUS FAR: Once upon a time, way back in Marvel Team Up #79, Chris Claremont and John Byrne thought it would be funny to team up Red Sonja and Spider-Man for a story. Many years passed and Tony Bedard used the villain of that piece, the evil wizard Kulan Gath, in an Exiles story where modern New York was changed into a Hyborian kingdom and all the heroes of that world along with it. Today, both stories are joined together in a union that may yet prove to be something more than a cheesy marketing gimmick for the nostalgia buffs.
THE GOOD PARTS
* The set-up is handeled smoothly and we're guaranteed at leat four issues of actual action from here on out.
* An nod to the original story, in how Kulan Gath describes his earlier defeat by Spider-Man
* What is more, Kulan Gath - defying every expectation of evil masterminds everywhere - actually admits to his past mistakes and enacts a plan to correct said mistake (i.e. keeping Spider-Man distracted by turning his ally in the last battle against him.)
* It takes place before Civil War. Depending on your feelings on Civil War, this may be a Bad Part.
* Peter is actually funny, heroic and... well, actually acting like Peter Parker for the first time in recent memory.
THE BAD PARTS
* Horrible Michael Turner cover... even for a Michael Turner cover.
* Despite appearing on the cover, Venom is not in this issue. This may be a Good Part given your feelings on Venom.
* Mel Rubi's no-ink art style just doesn't feel "right" for Spider-Man, somehow.
* I could be wrong and this is the Shakespeare fan in me talking, but somewhow... I don't remember any part of MacBeth where Lady MacBeth (who I assume MJ is playing) handles a sword.
* Am I alone in feeling disturbed by Peter talking about how much he liked when MJ came home in her costume dressed as a cat? Not because I find the idea of Peter having a furry fetish disturbing but... who was his last girlfriend before he and Mary Jane got married? Yeah... not something you want to go reminding your wife of Pete.
THE FINAL WORD: A solid opening. A bit light on the action, but given this is the exact same team that brought Sonja back to life in style, I expect we'll be seeing it soon enough.
SHANNA THE SHE DEVIL: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST #1
Company Name: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artist: Khari Evans
THE STORY THUS FAR: Shanna was an independently-minded red-haired doctor, who gave up life in the modern world to protect the environment. Eventually, she met a guy named Kevin Plunder who also liked living in the jungle, got married, had a kid and they all lived happily ever after except for the occasional disturbance whenever the X-Men came to visit.
And then came Frank Cho, who decided that feminist/environmentalist thing was boring, and proposed a series staring a bleached-blond, Nazi-engineered, super-strong and NAKED bimbo who never spoke, using the name of Shanna. Marvel wisely forced Cho to draw clothes on her and give her dialogue resulting in a seven-issue mini-series that was almost, but not quite, as pointless and offensive as the Roger Corman classic Dinosaur Island.
Now, presumably because two other companies are doing Jungle Girl books, Marvel has brought back Frank Cho's Shanna in a book that does not feature Frank Cho as a writer, artist, plotter, inker or anything. This might have been a good thing had they not decided to recycle the exact same plot from Frank Cho's mini-series, only with pirates being substituted for army grunts.
THE GOOD PARTS
* 100% Frank Cho free!
* Khari Evans' Shanna artwork not as offensive as her Daughters of the Dragon work.
* Highlights the infinite superiority of the Sheena mini-series by Devil's Due Press in every department.
THE BAD PARTS
* Is based off of Frank Cho's Shanna and not the true red-haired jungle-goddess of yore.
* Will probably sell better than the DDP Sheena series, despite it's inherit lack of quality.
* Series provides DC Fanboys little reason to go to the Marvel Comics section of the rack, when there are plenty of terrible Palmiotti & Gray comics they can read back home.
THE FINAL WORD: Cho fans will likely be disappointed that he has nothing to do with this series, based on his character. The rest of us will be disappointed that despite this, the writing is still sub-par and the artwork is nothing special.