Rich Johnston’s The Avengefuls

The Avengefuls

Today’s review is for The Avengefuls, a parody comic by Rich Johnston. If you don’t know who that is, he is the founder of the internet rumor mill BleedingCool. However, I don’t want to make this post just about bashing Johnston and his website. We’re going to look at a series of comics he did around 2012 to ride off the hype of the Avengers movie coming out that year. There’s 4 comics: Iron Muslim, Captain American Idol, Scienthorlogy, and The Avengefuls. Just going to talk about them all right in this one post because there’s no point in distinguishing them as I’d just say the same thing about every single issue. That point is that every single issue of this parody series is just horribly unfunny. Of course comedy is subjective and maybe there is somebody that thinks that this sort of humor is funny, but this right here didn’t work for me at all.

This series is just like one of those movies like “Disaster Movie” or “Epic Movie” where most of the jokes are just random reference humor. Captain American Idol is the biggest offender, as Gordon Ramsay and David Hasselhoff are in it for no good reason. In Scienthorlogy( I’m probably gonna spell this wrong throughout the review, but it’s a pain to type) there’s references to Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta and something about Anonymous which I had to look up to actually understand. The Avengefuls issue actually has Black Widow call Thor out on making an outdated “There’s an app for that” joke when these books reference a movie from 2005. It’s not just the reference humor that’s bad though, the other jokes are just lame. There’s a lot of lazy sex jokes, random humor, jokes trying to be adult by having the characters be racist or make fun of religion, and jokes like having characters say “exposition” over and over in the Thor comic.

The final Avengefuls issue is just the worst thing about this whole series. This whole issue just feels dated and every joke about the Avengers has been done before. Here’s a “hot take” from Rich, Hawkeye and Black Widow aren’t as cool as the other Avengers. The villain turns out to be a Hulk powered Osama Bin Laden and they must have thought that this was hilarious because almost every line has him say Osama in the place of Hulk. The ending of this issue for no reason has Obama come in and save the day. This might have been some kind of parody but I don’t understand this joke and it doesn’t even really seem like a joke.

Nothing more to say here, except I think the art overall is just bad even though the artists are talented.

Writer: Rich Johnston

Artists: Chris Haley, Michael Netzer, Bryan Turner

Rating: Rubbish

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Hulk: The End

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When I reviewed Marvel: The End in the Thanos marathon, I mentioned today’s comic as one of many in the “The End” line. Hulk: The End takes place, of course, at the end of the Earth. The world has been destroyed by nuclear warfare so Bruce Banner/Hulk wander around the planet. The only other things in the world are monster cockroaches which tear into the Hulk daily and a small video recording robot. With almost nothing left, what kind of story can be told here?

Cutting to the chase here, this is one of my favorite comics. I’ve never been a huge Hulk fan but I gave this a read one day and was blown away. Peter David and Dale Keown’s work here really sold me on the Hulk concept and they took it to it’s conclusion. There’s a lot of clever metaphors and parallels of the current situation to classic myths. A lot of the story is about just showing off how depressing this situation is for Banner. He sees visions of his former friends and family, his multiple suicide attempts are foiled by the Hulk, and record keeping aliens arrive just to wait for him to die. Things aren’t good for the Hulk either as he is constantly torn apart by the cockroaches. Thanks to his healing factor he recovers from the mauling and this also explains why he’s lived so long.

Because there’s only the two characters they have to carry all of the comic. Hulk is his usual angry self but you can really understand it this time. As Banner tries to convince Hulk that things would be better if they died, Hulk’s arguments are pretty reasonable for a rage monster. It’s that understanding that makes the ultimate end of the story just that much more crushing. I’ve never seen a comic by Dale Keown before but this is some of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s bright and uses nice shading when it’s needed for scenes in the past while using very dark shadows and well drawn gore for the current day scenes. Keown conveys emotion so well and you can see all the rage on the Hulk while Banner can be seen in his eyes. The two being seen in each other’s eyes is a very interesting way to show them talking to each other.

This comic is amazing and I recommend it to anyone, especially for Hulk fans and people who like their stories dark.

Writer: Peter David

Artist: Dale Keown

Rating: Vintage

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Batman: Tales of the Man-Bat

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This here was a library borrow on impulse. It’s a brand new release and I like Batman’s villains more than I like him so I thought this Man-Bat trade would be a good one. This just unfortunately did not live up to what I expected and was just a bad collection. For those who don’t know: Man-Bat is Kirk Langstrom, a scientist who injected himself with some bat DNA to cure his hearing but it had the side effect of turning him into a bat monster.

It begins in Showcase ’94 #11 but this is more of a prequel to the next three issues with the same creative team so I’ll talk about them together. The Showcase story is very short and light on plot; some guys hunt down Man-Bat out in a jungle and then he escapes back into Gotham to find Francine. At this point the character is more monster than man so all he can say is his wife’s name. The next series is Man-Bat Vol 2. #1-3 which continues in Gotham where a string of murders are committed by a flying man. Of course Man-Bat is the suspect but he’s just trying to find Francine. It’s only a three issue story and there’s not a lot happening but this still felt like a long read. This can be contributed by the completely terrible art. I don’t know what the artist was doing but everything just looks wet, like every character is going to melt away. For no reason at all in the final fight with this boring mystery villain, Francine’s clothes get ripped away for cheap fanservice but it doesn’t even look good because of the terrible art style. There’s only one good thing I can say about this part of the comic and that’s the Killer Croc moment. It’s a short scene but it shows a different side of that character where he actually cares for Man-Bat because “freaks stick together.”

After all of that we get into Man-Bat vol 3. #1-5 which is a lot better in the art department, but has its own problems in the writing and story. This story begins as well with a string of mystery killings straight out of a 90s horror movie (Teenagers messing around, nosey cops.) Here Kirk Langstrom is actually seen outside of being Man-Bat for most of this. He starts to have blackouts and when his own family is seemingly murdered he believes he was the cause. Batman, who hangs out in the Batcave completely out of costume for some reason, takes him in to try and help him. Then the story gets very confusing as after we’re introduced to our first two villains another one joins the story. There’s too much going on there and then we get to the climactic fight where Batman fights Man-Bat until they reach the true villain behind this. He has them both beaten and then in an ending that makes zero sense to me, lead powers up Man-Bat to take the guy down. Lead is mentioned to have been something Kirk used to try and keep Man-Bat away in the very last issue so it comes across as just pulled out of nowhere and I still don’t know the logic behind lead being a power up. So the art by Mike Huddleston is actually very good in this section and the horror elements at the start may have been cliché but it was interesting at least. This just doesn’t save the rest of the book however.

Writers: Chuck Dixon and Bruce Jones

Artists: Flint Henry and Mike Huddleston

Rating: Rubbish

Blackout #1-4 Review

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A while back I reviewed Dark Horse’s Skyman miniseries. Unknown to me at the time was that this series was a part of Dark Horse’s “Project Black Sky” superhero line of comics. Blackout is another comic from that same line and it feels similar to Skyman in many ways. It’s a four issue miniseries as well that focuses more on its story then actually developing any interesting characters.

Blackout stars Scott Travers who has this suit that allows him to traverse through a dark dimension that he uses to pass through walls. Scott’s dad left him this suit and then disappeared so Scott is searching for him. Of course some mysterious people are hunting him down for the suit so he has to face them and their giant mech suits.

There’s not much else here in this series and I truthfully just found it completely uninteresting. I’m trying my hardest to remember the events of this comic and there’s only a few things that I can recall even though I read this fairly recently. The only really good things I liked in the comic were the suit design itself and the dimension the suit accesses. This dark dimension is cold so Scott needs the suit to get through it so he actually uses it in a fight by having people fall into the portal he makes. It’s a clever idea and it makes for an entertaining fight scene. This Scott guy though is just a plank of wood in terms of personality. It drags the book down when there’s no interesting characters to even care about. I just can’t recommend the book at all and it’s no wonder the “Project Black Sky” line failed with output like this.

Writer: Frank J Barberie

Artist; Colin Lorimer

Rating: Rubbish

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Spider-Man: Reign

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Spider-Man: Reign is a 4 issue miniseries written and drawn by Kaare Andres. In this story set over 30 years in the future, Spider-Man has retired and New York is now a dictator state controlled by the mayor and their police force called the Reign. Peter Parker lives alone and at the beginning of the story he is fired from his day job. A somehow still alive J Jonah Jameson comes to Peter’s house to try and get him out of retirement. After Peter refuses JJJ is attacked outside so Peter saves him. Now that Spider-Man has returned the Mayor sends the new Sinister Six after him. Now Spider-Man must survive the fight, take down the mayor, and try and get over the death of Mary Jane.

This is a pretty infamous comic right here. I’m sure if you’ve heard of Reign you know the big twist about Mary Jane’s death. I’m of the consensus about how ridiculous it all is so when I finally read through this myself I wasn’t bothered by it. There’s a lot of other parts of this story that I have problems with but there’s a lot to like here.

Andrews art here is very interesting. It definitely sets the mood for this dark future and there’s good designs for these older characters. The fight against the Sinister Six in the end is a good fight, it’s like Karate Island or something where Peter fights a different member as he climbs through a building. My favorite thing overall though has to be everything with Mary Jane, her cause of death not included. Andrews really sells the relationship that they had and shows how losing her really affected Peter.

Moving on to some negatives though as the story does have a few. There is a lot of just weird stuff in this story. Doc Ock is dead and his body is being dragged around by his tentacle arms to go out and find Spider-Man. The true villain behind this is all is a cool reveal but I think it was just there to have a twist in the story. Some of the dialogue is pretty overdramatic and unrealistic here too. This little girl talks like a revolutionary and that kind of makes sense because of her father but it’s still weird and looks like an adult’s dialogue.

Reign is a weird story and I really think you should read it and form your own opinion. There’s a good emotional and personal story in here but it’s a little too on the nose and grim.

Writer: Kaare Andrews

Artist: Kaare Andrews

Rating: Buy for a bargain

It hasn't got a leg to stand on...

All-Star Western #29

So I was walking around the local Wal-Mart and near the checkout I saw this comic just laying out in the open. I assume it was in one of those bagged “3 for $5” comic bags and was ripped out of it. I was intrigued by the Darwyn Cooke cover and decided I’d give it a read. Single issue stories like this aren’t usually reviewed here on this site but this comic turned out to be a standalone story so I thought I’d give my thoughts on it. For context, I’ve never read an issue of this series and my only exposure to Jonah Hex is from Booster Gold #3.

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This comic is mostly a set up to get Jonah Hex and his girlfriend, Gina, sitting around a campfire so he can tell her a story from his past. After Gina is shot by Apaches, her and Jonah go and rest by a fire. She can’t sleep so Jonah tells her a Jonah Hex story. He tells her about the time he went after a man named McCabe who was hunting down and killing native Americans.

There’s not a lot to talk about without spoiling the events but this is a fun comic. Hex’s story is interesting and there’s a few good twists even in this short amount of time. It’s a good sign that Palmiotti and Gray can write a story this late into a series and have it still be accessible to new readers. Cliff Richards’s art here is very good. The action scenes are very dynamic and it just has a Western vibe. There’s good shadows and some interesting visuals during a hallucination sequence. Jonah is a cool character and he plays well off of Gina. They have a good banter back and forth and they make a cute couple.

I don’t know how good the rest of this series is but this was a fun little story and it was a fun way to spend five minutes in a store.

Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray

Artist: Cliff Richards

Rating: Full Price

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Squadron Supreme (1985)

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In 1985 Mark Gruenwald wrote Squadron Supreme a 12 issue limited series starring the titular Squadron Supreme on an alternate Earth, Earth 712. On this Earth Kyle Richmond, Nighthawk, was the president of America when he was mind controlled and took over the Earth. He and the rest of the Squadron are returned to normal but the world is in ruin. Hyperion decides to make Earth into a Utopia and solve all of the world’s problems by focusing on issues like violence, famine and poverty. Nighthawk opposes this plan and disappears from the team as they unmask and announce their plan to the world. Can even the world’s greatest superheroes reform the planet or will they tear themselves apart?

Squadron Supreme is a very interesting, mature look at a superhero story. It raises a lot of moral questions and the heroes of the story do questionable things. The Squadron kill, brainwash, rape and can barely get along but in the end they’re trying to make things better. There’s a lot of characters as they are based on DC’s Justice League but they all get enough focus or play some role in the story. It’s a twelve issue series so there’s a lot of time for Gruenwald to build up background events like Nighthawk planning to stop the Squadron and when things are about to completely implode you can feel the suspense and tension. The climax of the story is a giant battle where casualties mount on both sides and thanks to the nature of this alternative universe anybody can die.

This series has a lot of cool characters that are all flawed in some way but they’re still interesting to read about. I prefer DC over Marvel anyway so reading knock offs of their characters makes this series more interesting to me. Doctor Spectrum, Golden Archer and Tom Thumb were the best characters to me as they all have flaws and have to make moral decisions that are pretty awful. A lot of scenes in this series are pretty dark as a lot of the characters die of things like cancer or in accidents. My only criticism would have to be how it can be pretty wordy and that it’s a long read because it starts slowly.

Writer: Mark Gruenwald

Artist: John Buscema

Rating: Full Price

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