Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Pulp Review – Just a Day at the Office

TITLE: Pulp
AUTHOR: Ed Brubaker
ARTISTS: Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips
PUBLISHER:
Image Comics
RATED:
T
PRICE:
$16.99
RELEASE DATE:
August 4, 2020

By Rob Siebert
Prefers no pulp. But will still drink it.

Everybody loves a good comeback story. It’s inspiring. It’s hopeful. Lord knows we could use a good comeback story right about now. Like the old gunslinger who picks up his pistol one last time to do right, in the process reliving the glory days of his youth. Perhaps he even goes down swinging, fighting valiantly until the very end.

Pulp is like that. Sort of. Maybe. Much of it depends on how you see good guys and bad guys, and what the difference is between them.

Set in the ’30s with World War II in full swing, our main character Max Winters is an elderly man writing Western stories for the pulp magazines, barely making ends meet for he and his wife in the process. It’s a far cry from his youth, lived much like the characters he writes about. Max Winters was an outlaw. But the world has changed, it’s leaving him behind. Until a face from his past abruptly re-enters his life. After all this time, Max Winters might have to become an outlaw one last time…

The most interesting aspect of this book is the two very distinct eras it takes place in, separated by the Second Industrial Revolution. One one end, you’ve got the late 1800s in the American West. Cowboys, horses, six-shooters, stagecoach robberies, etc. On the other, you have New York City circa World War II. The effect is almost like time travel, as we see this cowboy simply trying to adjust and keep up in a big city. Heck, space travel, as it feels like a different world altogether.

On top of everything else, Max has a heart condition. So you can more or less see where Pulp is going. Combine that with all the lamenting, the bitterness, and the urge to pull one last job, and we get something very Brubaker-ish. Fans of Criminal and Kill or Be Killed will feel right at home here.

At this point, Brubaker and Sean Phillips have done so much together they’re almost their own noirish, pulpy, crime-ridden sub-genre. As with any highly established creative force, that works both for and against them. Readers know what to expect and are happy when you give it to them. But at the same time, how does Pulp make itself stand out among such an extensive catalog?

The answer, ultimately, is it doesn’t. Yes, there’s a certain novelty to seeing Phillips draw cowboys, and I like this twist on the “old gunslinger” story. But other than that, there’s nothing here that’s necessarily outside their usual wheelhouse.

If they’d stayed in the old west, perhaps it would be a different story. We’d get to see the Brubaker/Phillips give their gritty, moody spin on a Western. But it’s hard to say what we might have gotten there, as Pulp becomes a different book altogether. It definitely loses its old gunslinger hook.

If you’re new to the Brubaker/Phillips world, then I’d absolutely recommend Pulp. Almost like a starter story or an appetizer. Let this wet your appetite, then look for one of the tentpoles. But for those of us who’ve been here before, it’s largely business is usual. Which is to say business is good. Nothing too surprising. Just a day at the office.

Special Thanks to Edelweiss for providing an advance review copy of Pulp.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars Adventures, Lois Lane #9, and..Other Stuff…

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

So yeah…how’s your quarantine been?

Like every other business on Earth, the comic book industry is being hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic. As such, comic shops will receive no new issues this week. What exactly will happen with digital releases remains to be seen. But Image, IDW, Dark Horse, and Oni Press have all opted out of digital releases until print issues return to stores.

As for me, “social distancing” kept me out of my comic shop this week. My issues are being shipped to me, but they won’t arrive until….today. Because of course.

But in the spirit of wanting to put something in this space this week, I’ve done some digital shopping of my own. I put some issues in my cart that aren’t the most recent, but that piqued my interest. First among these was Lois Lane #9, which for some reason has alluded me for several weeks now…

As for what’ll be in this space over the next several weeks, all I can say is something will be here. Even if I’ve got to review comics from decades ago. But next time, we’ll get into the issues I’m about to get in the mail. Such issues include Batman/Superman, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, andI Can Sell You A Body, and more.

TITLE: Lois Lane #9
AUTHOR: Greg Rucka
ARTISTS: Mike Perkins, Andy Troy (Colorist), Simon Bowland (Letterer)
RELEASED: March 4, 2020

Batman shows up in this issue, seemingly for no reason other than to pad the story. Still, it is good to see Rucka writing him again. Even like this.

As the cover suggests, there’s an immigration angle here. If, like Batman, it were shoehorned in for no reason I’d take issue with it. But Rucka weaves it into the mystery of who is out to kill Lois. So it works for me.

Also, do yourself a favor and Google “Jessica Midnight.” Just a heads up.

TITLE: Star Wars Adventures #31
AUTHORS: Michael Moreci, Cavan Scott
ARTISTS: Arianna Florean, David M. Buisan, Valentina Taddeo (Colorist), Charlie Kirchoff (Colorist), Jake M. Wood (Inker)
RELEASED: March 18, 2020

I’ve had my eye on this title, as it was recently announced it’ll contain stories set after The Rise of Skywalker. But apparently that’s not until May…

What we get here is perfectly serviceable. First is a story about Rey flying an X-Wing for the first time. I assume that’s meant to foreshadow what she does near the end of Rise. Then we get a back-up about a young explorer in wild space. Frankly, the back-up intrigued me more than the main story did. We haven’t seen much (or any?) of wild space, have we?

TITLE: Outlawed #1
AUTHOR: Eve L. Ewing
ARTISTS:
Kim Jacinto, Espen Grundetjern (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Pepe Larraz and David Curiel.
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

This book is here to set the table for yet another Champions relaunch. After the most recent relaunch ended this past October with only 10 issues. I mean…alright? If you’re sure.

This issue feels very Civil War-ish. A big explosion during a battle involving the Champions prompts the government to adopt a law prohibiting those under 21 from acting as superheroes.

This issue on its own didn’t do much for me. But I really liked the Mark Waid/Humberto Ramos Champions line-up. So if this kicks off a good story for them, I’m all in.

TITLE: Marvels Snapshots: Sub-Mariner
AUTHOR:
Alan Brennert
ARTISTS:
Jerry Ordway, Espen Grundetjern (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Alex Ross.
RELEASED:
March 11, 2020

I’ve got the unique perspective of reading Marvels at the same time all this supplemental material is coming out. It’s a lot to take in. But the process has been fun.

Though he comes from Atlantis, virtually a different world, this issue shows us Namor is just as vulnerable to the scars of war as his human cohorts. Set shortly after World War II, and told from the perspective of his love interest Betty Dean, this “snapshot” shows us how Namor both is and isn’t human. Ordway and Grundetjern set the period brilliantly with their art.

TITLE: The Resistance #1 (of 6)
AUTHOR: J. Michael Straczynski
ARTISTS:
Mike Deodato Jr., Frank Martin (Colorist), Sal Cipriano (Letterer). Cover by Rahzzah.
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

Good lord. This one might actually be too timely. Read at your own risk as far as triggers go.

Quick summary: A deadly virus sweeps the planet, killing hundreds of millions. Then suddenly, it goes dormant. In response, a new American president is elected that promises to keep the pubic safe if the virus returns. But some of the survivors have inexplicably acquired superpowers. So what the hell happens now?

This sparked my interest enough to read more. Much of what we see here feels disturbingly realistic, particularly in terms of how the public reacts to certain things…

Email Rob at at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

 

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

A Back to the Future #1 Review – Like It Was Yesterday…

Back to the Future #1, 2015TITLE: Back to the Future #1
AUTHORS: Bob Gale, John Barber, Erik Burnham
PENCILLERS: Brent Schoonover, Dan Schoening
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: October 21, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This was the hidden gem of “Back to the Future Day,” right here. While other people were watching Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd (God bless ’em) on Kimmel, and making stupid 2015 memes, comic book fans got a special treat: New Back to the Future content spearheaded by film writer Bob Gale.

Plus, it’s a chance for Dan Schoening to draw more ’80s stuff. Frankly, that was all it took to hook me in.

Under the banner of “Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines,” IDW’s first venture into the Back to the Future universe shows us how Marty McFly and Doc Brown met for the first time, and ultimately began to forge the partnership we see in the film. Also, we learn that a younger Emmett Brown was part of the Manhattan Project during World War II. Readers get to see what the inventor of the Flux Capacitor was like as a young adult, and how he was recruited for the war.

Back to the Future, Brent SchoonoverBrent Schoonover’s style is a fine fit for the first story, “When Marty Met Emmett,” in which Marty is bullied into stealing something from Doc’s lab. Schoonover’s take on Doc is excellent, but it takes some time to get used to seeing a younger Marty. Schoonover is in an unenviable position, here. The issue has a Dan Schoening cover, and the second story is drawn by Schoening, but Schoonover’s work is sandwiched between them. At first it feels like a let-down, but he wins you over.

Via a time stamp (October 2, 1982), we know that Marty is about 14 in this story. What’s interesting is that when confronted by the bullies, he behaves a lot like his father originally would have. I suspect we see Gale’s influence here, as this somewhat infers that Marty’s relationship with Doc is what turns him into the character we meet in the movie, as opposed to the coward that George was.

Marty’s presence is missed in the second story, “Looking For a Few Good Scientists.” But it’s so damn cool to see Schoening draw Doc that you get over that quickly. If you’ve played Back to the Future: The Game, it’s actually quite easy to hear James Arnold Taylor’s voice coming from the figure of young Emmett Brown. Schoening’s rendering of Emmett is fun to look at, as it’s every bit as animated as Christopher Lloyd’s performance.

Back to the Future #1, Dan SchoeningIn truth, there’s not much to say about this story right now, as we have yet to get to the ins and outs of Doc’s involvement in the Manhattan Project. What I did enjoy, however, is how the seeds are planted early for the character’s reputation as a crackpot scientist. He initially isn’t put forth for the project because of his unorthodox nature. I can only assume that same unorthodox nature will lead to interesting results next issue.

This issue also contains a nice little afterward from Bob Gale about the initial creative process for a Back to the Future comic series, and what ground they did and didn’t want to cover. For die-hard fans, that’s definitely worth a read.

At this stage, 30 years after the original film’s release, it’s tough not to be happy with new Back to the Future content of any kind. But the fact that it’s coming from such talented creators, with backing from Bob Gale nonetheless, makes it that much sweeter. Thus far, this series has me locked in for the long haul.

Image 1 from comicvine.com. Image 2 from planetcritico.com.

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