Saturday, 21 November 2015

Savage Dragon VS Megaton man One Shot

Savage Dragon VS Megaton man One Shot

Synopsis :
This issue opens with  the Dragon, in a bad mood apprehending or trying to anyway, The Nixed Men. Whom scatter to look for their  more powerful ally. 
Meanwhile in the Megahero verse, the resident heroes  look in on the Image universe, but because they cant be sure who the good guys and the bad guys are, in this brave new world  !
They decide to send an envoy  via the time turn table  first,  in the form of Megaton Man  !!!
Naturally, he gets in the way  of  Dragon and in true  crossover  style,  they fight  but  put their differences aside in the end, just in time  to deal with The Nixed Men and their  new ally ! 
And just in time for the last page too.  

Credits :
Story\Art\ Ink\ Erik Larsen And Don Simpson 
Letterer, Chris Eliopolous
Color, Gregory Wright and Steve Oliff
Editor, Jannie Wong.

Notes  :
This is  according to the essay at the back the first intercompany crossover  for Image Comics.
This issue takes place  after  Image 0 and before issue 1 of the  ongoing Savage Dragon  series.
Release date march 1993.
This issue is 26 pages.  

Review :
This is a bit of an odd issue. ( As if you couldn't tell  from the synopsis. ) 
It's one of the first  intercompany crossovers by Image Comics.  ( A few more would follow, mostly with Spawn. )   And  its  also the first  Dragon crossover,  even before his  own  ongoing series, which was  kickstarted on 1 June 1993. 
Which considering the tone of the comic, is a bit  odd that Larsen is willing to throw his character in such a weird story, with out so much as an ongoing to back him up. 
Or maybe it was just  a way to keep  the  character  in the spotlight. The  3 part mini series had wrapped  up in 1992, the TPB had been released with the  mini reshuffled and image 0  added  and the ongoing was several months  away.  

Or maybe Larsen just thought it would be fun, which seems most likely. 
He is already aware of the  image err Image Comics is fostering. and  isn't  above  poking fun at it. 
The comic is a combination of  Larsen's  semi realistic  violent  Image Comics style  and Don Simpsons  silver age comics aesthetics. Right down to the  over the top  warbling  speech balloons, which are  jam-packed in the mighty marvel manner !
I'm not sure if this is a  affectionate parody or homage or both. 
I don't really read  Megaton Man or any other of Don Simpsons  work  outside  his pencil work on TMNT Adventures. This is  the only other work of Simpson I encountered. 
Megaton Man  himself however, is obviously a  silver age pastiche of spitcurl boy,  Superman in other words.  

As for Dragon, this issue takes place after Image 0 and it shows. Dragon is surly, meanspirited, grouchy and  quick to jump to the gun. 
Which off course  leads to that  old crossover cliché. 
Two heroes meet up, have a misunderstanding and spend most of the issue  beating each other up, before the real  enemies show up. 
And while Megaton Man provides a lot of fourth wall breaking meta commentary and  dragon has a  good reason to be pissed, the battle is still contrived and it was a cliché even back in 1993.

This is not a  great or even an essential comic.
If you skip this  after Image 0  in favor of  Savage Dragon 1, you  don't miss much other then The Nixed Men. Who are a parody  of  Byrne's Next Men  and  who  will be mentioned a few times after this. 
But what this comic is, is a place where  you  can see  two totally incomparable artstyles  clash  and somehow Larsen and Simpson manage to make it work. 
And above all its an insane  piece of  fun, that makes fun of it self,  the Image Comics style and universe and comic conventions. 

It's a piece of fluff  and it knows it and its gloriously silly. 

Next up, issue 1 again !   

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Image Issue 0

Image Issue 0 

Credits :
Story\Art\ Ink\ Erik Larsen 
Letterer, Chris Eliopolous
Color, Gregory Wright and Steve Oliff
Editor, Jannie Wong.

Dragon and Debbie  do more then just spend the night together. 
And the next  day  as Dragon shaves himself  and Debbie watches tv, the door bell ring. Dragon asks Debbie  to open the door and she is shot point blank in the head by her  jealous ex boyfriend, Arnold Dimple who immedialty  kills himself when he realises what he has done. 

Dragon is distraught and  loses himself in a  spiral of alcohol and despair,  as he is losing his  grasp on the  city, on his job and  possibly his sanity.  

Notes  :
This story is  14 pages long. 
At least  1  page  is  taken from The Savage Dragon VS Megaton Man.
The other pages  are  most likely new. 
But I can't be sure with out Image Issue 0 it self.  

I am using the  extended version,  included in The Savage Dragon Trade Paperback.

Debbie Harris, dies in this issue. 
Arnold dimple her ex  and accidental killer,  commits suicide the moment he realises what he has done.  
the cover of  Q magazine gives us our first look at  Peter Klaptin,  another pivotal character  in the upcoming series.  

Review  :

For a story this short,  it  has an enormous impact  on Dragon's life for, literally years to come.

The fallout of this  issue wont be resolved until the  30's  and that is  3 years in the future  of the title. 

But the story behind  the comic is almost as interesting as  the comic itself. 
Image Issue  0 was set up  as  a  collectible initiative. 
There were garishly colored coupons in all first  or second  issues  of the  first 7 Image comics series (  Youngblood, Spawn, The Savage Dragon, Cyberforce, Wildcats, Wetworks  and Shadowhawk, if wondering. )
Collect them all and send them out to  receive your free copy of Image Issue 0 ! 
At least, that was the idea. 
Because as became the norm  with  early Image Comics, Issue 0  was  perpetually  late  and at times it  looked like  it was never going to get out of the starting gate at all. 
Larsen  had already finished his  part of the  comic, which was still  going nowhere. 
Eventually because the story was so pivotal  for the  coming  ongoing Dragon comic, the story line as a whole and the character. Larsen decided to jump the gun and include it in the Trade Paperback. 
Which is where I  first encountered it.  

But what about the story it self  ?
Well it's  bleak with Dragon himself being at the end of his tether and  knowing he is losing the battle for the city and possibly his sanity. 
Not too mention his  guilt  in letting  Debbie  open  his front door and getting  killed in the process.
Speaking of Debbie,  despite her death looming large over Dragon's life and this being a  pivotal  storyline. There isn't much to Debbie her self.  she is a cypher,  a  plot point to get the story going  for the coming  3 years. 

And that is mostly what  Image Issue  0  is,  a pivotal  depressing  plotpoint,  designed to move  Dragon's life in to  a new  status quo and dark places, while underlining  how vulnerable  people  close to Dragon are. 
And how could it be  anything more with just 6 pages to work with  ?
Even the additional  pages  only help to strengthen  the despair and depression of Dragon himself  as  he can feel his grasp on the city slipping  in between paper work,  overwhelming odds and  civil suits filed by  people in the cross fire. 
A  man alone  trying  to  stem the tide. 
But this is mostly  set up for  issue 1 of the ongoing series,  which  picks up  these threads and  runs with them. 

Image Issue  0  is  a pivotal happenstance in Dragon's life  its ramifications are felt far and wide  in the comic. 
But  there isn't much to the  story itself other then a cautionary tale and Debbie her self is nothing more then a cypher.
she is barely a  character  as it is  but it will be a harbinger of things to come,  for how fast and loose the series  plays with the lives of the characters. 

Next up,  an  Issue 1.

Addendum : Because of my computer woes, my original schedule has been thrown  in to disarray. So instead of  going with my original idea of  having  1  issue  of  each  series alternating every two days,  I will push out the  reviews that are furthest along. 
Which means Transformers is going on a  short hiatus. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Savage Dragon Trade paper back

The Savage Dragon Trade paper back 

Credits :
Story\Art\ Ink\ Erik Larsen 
Letterer, Chris Eliopolous
Color, Gregory Wright and Steve Oliff
Editor, Jannie Wong.

Notes : This  trade paper back  collects, The Savage Dragon mini series  1-3
The Dragon  portion of Image issue  0. 
As well as newly inserted pages. 


But first a small detour with the  trade paper back. 
This TPB was  my second  TPB  ever,  after  the Spawn TPB. 
And my  first introduction  to  The Savage Dragon. 
I have been an on and off fan ever since,  and recently gotten back in to the character after  buying  101  issues in one go last year. 

My copy of the book is in poor state and  falling apart, which just goes to show how  often I read  this book. 
And despite it's state, it will always  have a special place in my collection. 
But that's not why I am reviewing  it. 

The  very first  Dragon  TPB is symptomatic  for  almost every  subsequent  Dragon  trade paper back and that's  that  Erik Larsen either reshuffles the pages,  adds  pages or  adds  extra non comic content. 
In this case, he does all three. 

He reshuffled the  page line up of the original  mini series. 
The book opens with dragon in the burning field for example, instead of  the splash page of him  pretty much flying at Cuttthroat in the first issue. 
And more such  reshuffling,  but  it's so extensive I cant  all cover it here.
This makes the original mini series, which were  already pretty  much a  good solid foundation, easier to read. 
And because I read this version first, for me, this is the definitive version. 
There are also  pages included  to introduce Dragon's  colleagues on the force and to show him  tackling  the superfreak problem.
The original mini series  issues were already densely packed, with  28  pages on average and they still felt  like a roller coaster ride.
The TPB  allows  the story to breath. 

But the real reason  for the  TBP to exist is  the inclusion of Larsen's  section of Image 0.
Which was a promo that ran through all  the  first issues  of the  original Image comics series. 
Long story short. all the other Image founders were chronically  late  with their  sections,
Larsen  already finished his section. 
It looked like Image  0  was never going to be released.  (  It did finally saw release, in late  93,  I believe instead on late  92.  )
And because  his  Savage Dragon story was pivotal  for the character and lead directly in to  the main series. 
He decided to include it in the  first trade paperback, instead of keeping  people waiting or in the dark. 

Since then each Dragon TPB  has always included  extra's either in the form of sketches  or scripts  or covers  and extra pages. 
Most of these extra pages have just been linking devices to make things  clear, or to make more sense out of a given scene. 
But I have the  single issues,  so  we are  going  see them  as they  were first released. 
Does this mean  the  readers of the monthly issues get  stiffed  ?
Not at  all,  the  issues, can still stand on their own. 
The trade paperback  version just strengthen the ties, add content where necessary  to  make things clearer add  background or verisimilitude that wasn't there in the original  issues. 

As  for the trade paper back it self  ?
It's essential reading for anybody   who is even remotely interested in The Savage Dragon, 
this should be your first port of call.
It introduces  the Dragon , his  ( limited)  back ground, his status  quo and sets everything up for the next  12 issues  or so .
It also includes  the  pivotal Image  0 story  which has ramifications  going all the way  up to issue  32,  but we will see that when we get there.

Next up,  issue 0. 

Addendum : I have had  computer problems since Saturday the 14th,  after a botched Windows update.  I have only now managed to get things  running again, which have  off course thrown my update schedule  for a loop.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Gold Digger Color Remix Issue 2

Gold Digger Color Remix Issue 2
Hitchhikers Guide To The Lost Cities Part 2

Synopsis :
The Diggers sisters  and Ace  have  joined forces with  Penny pincer ..err Pinser  to deal with  the evil magician's weapons cache in Atlantis.
But everything is not  as it seems  and  the magician has a  few surprises up his sleeve. 
A very ugly one at  that. 
In the mean  time  Cheetah changes in to her human form. ( Shrimp !  )  
A bunch of weirdo mercs show up,  and they seem to have it  in for  everybody !
Gina somehow ends up in  the Himalaya's in a  bathing suit.

And continued  !

Credits :
Story and Art, Fred Perry. 
Colors, GuruFX.

Notes :

This issue is 34 pages as well.
The mini series  is  NOT  part of the  free  Gold Digger  archive. 
This  issue was  $ 2,99  in  Feb  2006. 
This Mini Series  was re released in 2006  to celebrate 15  years of Gold Digger

Inside cover blurb : It's the principle of the matter. It disrupted my already stagnant flow.

Review :

Well it had to happen  sooner or later  hadn't it ?  With a title like that, we go and visit  Atlantis. 
Atlantis  isn't exactly my favorite hidden, sunken or disappeared civilisation.
Mostly because its so overdone, it has become a cliché unto it self.  ( So is El Dorado, but not to the extent  that Atlantis has become. ) 
Even back in  1991  this was a cliché 
And every  syndicated cartoon had a go at Atlantis. Transformers  had  one  at least,
but going underwater explains away why everybody is  wearing even less then  usual. 


But this  issue isn't a complete bomb, it deals with the fallout of  issue 1 and the reason for going to Atlantis is a sound one. 
Dealing with  the evil magician's Gyphon's weapons  cache. 
And we  get a  callback to an adventure we haven't even seen,  when Tark mentions that   Gina and Brittany, saved him and Mesha, from the clutches of Dreadwing.
Keep that name in mind, we will be hearing it a lot  as time goes by. 

We also get  another look at Brittany and Gina's somewhat adversarial relationship and Gina gets a zinger in there, which I think is hilarious. 
Brittany  also reverts to her human form, with an arbitrary  24 hour  limit. 
And well she looks better  in  her hybrid cheetah  form, or maybe i am just used to it.  

The rest of the issue is somewhat perfunctory introducing  a bunch of weirdo mercs who seem to have it in for Ace and have an even weirder speech pattern. 
And dealing  with  one of  Gyphon's spies. 
For all of  3 pages, yeah that spy wasn't much  of  problem. More like a time waster. 
In fact, most of this issue  feels like its in a hurry. 
Lots of conflicts and ideas are thrown at the wall and most are barely dealt with a page later.
Gyphon appears and is dealt with insultingly easy before he escapes again, with his deus ex machina. 
But it ends on a  hell of a cliffhanger with Gina teleported in to the himalaya's  dressed in clothes suited for Atlantis, not sub zero temperatures.  

Issue 2 is  still a  good  action adventure comic with  lots of action  and err adventure, but it also comes off as kinda  rushed. 
Dryanna (  the spy) is  dealt with insultingly  easy and  the  weirdo mercs  are just there to waste time and pages, which both could have been used to set up the  conflicts in Atlantis and deal with Gyphon in a more satisfactionary matter. 
But the issue  also drops a  lot more world building,  introduces  more characters and sets up more plot points and feels like issue 42  in an on going. 
It's just that i'ts a step down from issue  1  and this mini series should have been a  6 parter instead of a 4 parter, considering all the ideas and the manic  pace  that are thrown at  the reader.
But all in all it's still a good comic  with  great art. 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Savage Dragon Mini Series 3 of 3

The Savage Dragon Mini Series 3 of 3
Rock This Town.  

Synopsis :
This issue opens  like the previous  three, with a splash page  !
Inferno an  viscous circle goon, attacks Dragon  in the hospital. Things don't go to plan  as Dragon shoves his head through a wall. 
Frank Darling  informs  what has happened  after Dragon  went out like a light, telling him his body seemingly shut down to make repair. The gashes on Dragon's  head  were  healed within a day. 
Dragon has been out of it for nine days though. 
Basher is  dead,  he has a  hole the size of a softball in his head  hell razor and Mako  are incarcerated alive and in intensive care. 
We cut to  Overlord's  tower, where we get  our first good look at him. 
Isn't that  impressive  ?  We will see a lot of this armor.  

As it turns out  the hostage situation from issue 2  was a set up.  The three henchmen were getting too ambitious, Dragon was getting  in Overlord's way  and Cyberdata was supposed to  pull Superpatriot's strings and have them all four killed. 
Things obviously didn't go as planned. 
Back at the hospital Dragon prepares to leave and is met with a feeding frenzy of  reporter,s 
when  WHAM  Bedrock ..err  Badrock from the pages of Youngblood, shows up and  attacks  Dragon. 
He wants to see what Dragon is made off. 
This fight takes over the majority of the comic.
During the fight we cut to a  cameo of Spawn, in a hat  and raincoat,  glancing at Dragon's press conference on the tv. 
And a  elderly lady, who kinda looks like aunt May, the way Erik Larsen drew her, watching the same press conference  and exclaiming Rodney  !
Hmmm, wonder what that is all about. 
Dragon and Badrock have been fighting all day and  Badrock calls it quits. It turns out he want to see if  Dragon was "tough enough" to join Youngblood. 
Dragon's response is to arrest him. 
This issue ends with Dragon finding Debbie on his door step, because her mother locked her out.
And Frank Darling  getting a  blackmail phone call  from the Vicious Circle. 
They know he set his cousin Fred up for the fall, to get Dragon to join the force.
Sleep tight Frankie. 

Credits :
Story\Art\ Ink\ Erik Larsen 
Letterer, Chris Eliopolous
Color, Gregory Wright and Steve Oliff
Editor, Jannie Wong.

Notes :

This  issue  contains cameo's from  Badrock from Youngblood, ( obviously)
Cyberforce is mentioned by name, 
and Cyberdata, 
in an effort to set up the nascent  Image Comics universe. 

The spawn cameo was  also in Spawn 5, which is where I first saw the Dragon. 

Review  :

And so ends the mini series. 
Of all three issues of the original Savage Dragon mini series, this issue is the weakest. 
It's mostly taken over by a contrived fight.
And just because dragon acknowledges that its contrived, doesn't make it any better.
He does subvert it nicely by arresting Bedrock\Badrock however. 
But mostly this comic  serves to strengthen ties with the  then nascent Image Universe by including cameo's from Spawn  and  Liefelds Youngblood and tying  Superpatriot to Cyberdata  from the pages of Cyberforce. 
Larsen made Youngblood look more interesting and dynamic then Liefeld ever did.  

Badrocks  silly motivations for attacking  Dragon are handwaved  away by  having him  look like a  hulking stone monster, but being a  13 year old kid. 
Which at least explains  his  reasons, doesn't make  them any better though. 
The two other  big revelations and set ups in this comic  are establishing that Dragon has an accelerated  healing  factor. 
And he will  come to use them,  A LOT  in the future. 
Right now they seem to be a bit  underdeveloped compared to the punishment Dragon will receive in later issues.  

We also find out  what Frank exactly did  and to what desperate lengths he was willing to go  to get Dragon on the force. 
Selling out cousin Freddie. 
This storyline will hang  over Dragon and Frank's  head for the first  handfull of issues  of the ongoing, but not so long it will wear out its welcome.
Unlike other  comics from this era, The Savage Dragon will end storylines in a usually  tidy  fashion and it does have a gameplan. 
Nor is it afraid to shake up the status quo,  as we will soon see.    

Despite being the weakest of the 3,  issue 3  introduces important plot points and sets things in motion for the ongoing. 

Next however we are going for a detour 

Monday, 9 November 2015

Transformers Infiltration 1

Transformers Infiltration 1

Synopsis :
This issue opens on a  laptop showing a conspiracy website, with the title Mechatopia, operated  by  Hunter, who  firmly believes that  there is alien  life out there.
Cut to the present, where he and Verity  are  stuck in a  odd  ambulance  with  a  driver who seems to have a  frozen smile, careening through the south Californian desert  at  190 miles an hours.
It doesn't take Hunter long to realise that he has found what he has been looking for, extra terrestrial life. 
Just after  his car  was blown up  by  an unmanned plane, and him and Verity nearly with it. 
The mystery cars  return with a vengeance however  and they  like to play rough. 
The ambulance manages to shake them with  some build in weaponry,  as the  jet  turns up again.
 It never rains but it pours as they say. The ambulance releases  a sticky smokelike substance, which deals with the plane  for a  moment. But  all that this does is buy them a few minutes, they need a  place to lie low. 
A place Verity  can  provide, after  logging on  the  ultra portable.
The garage of Jimmy Pink. 
Who  wastes no time getting under the ambulance  and  soon figures out that this is no  ordinary  ambulance,  you might even say one that out of  this world.  

The jet and the cars  are prowling around, waiting  for somebody to  activate the  ultra portable again so they can home in on it's signal. 
And lo and behold, somebody  does activate it.
Hunter is putting  his  suppositions together  and  just as Jimmy finishes repairs he throws around his theory.
That  the  ultra portable was stolen by Verity. That  it's the reason why they were targeted and that it contains images that  could get them killed.
And according to the  smiling driver, it's all true. 

Fed up Verity  leaves in a prickly  huff,  before she is back in an instant  babbling incoherently. 
Something or someone  tears the door out of the garage, and we see our first transformers in robot mode.
Runabout and Runamuck.  

Credits :Writer : Simon Furman, 
Artist:  E J Su,
Colors by : John Rauch and Josh Burcham,
Letters by :  Tom B Long and Robbie Robins.
Editor  : Chris Ryall.  

Notes : second  apperances of :  Ratchett
and Starscream.
This issue  had  4  variant  covers.
Hunter uses Internet explorer apparently. 
His page mechatopia  isn't just  there  to fill up his laptop's screen. It's a  reference to the upcoming Spotlight : Shockwave. 
First full issue of  the IDW Transformers series, which is still going  10  years later.
IDW  has overtaken Marvel Comics output, whom held the Transformers licence from 1984 till 1994. 
And released more Transformers  comics then any  of the other license holders, bar  Marvel UK with  it's 332  issues. Marvel UK had a weekly schedule though. 

Review  :
All action, all the time. 
Compared to the slowburn of  issue 0, issue 1  is  like greased lighting.
But when you put the brakes on  it, (  yeah I think that's enough speed metaphors  ) you realise that there isn't much to the issue,  beyond  a car chase. 
But what a stylish chase it is. 
I haven't mentioned  EJ Su's art  last time, but I would be remiss  to do  so now.  He brings a  kinetic  feverous energy to the  proceedings, which helps translate what  are basically snapshots, to a thrilling action pace.
Action is hard to convey  in comics, even more so  when  it's a car chase. 
But Su manages to do  it with  aplomb.  

Sadly  Su  left  the comic  book industry behind him, and he is now  head of  R&D  for  Trident Cases. 
But he is on fine form here, firing on all cylinders and makes what  could be a very boring issue, a riveting if very shortlived read. 
Because outside  the chase we don't  get to see much, beyond a few  flashbacks which issue 0 makes  superfluous. But then again we cant  really  expect  that everybody has read issue 0 now can we?
A reiteration  of  Hunter's  alien life form's are real attitude  and Verity's  ..prickliness. 
Hunter  also seems to  have some smarts, since he twigged out fairly  early  that Ratchet is not human. 
Course Ratchets avatar has a fixed smile, so it's not that hard  to figure out. 
Then again  hunter  is smart enough to put  1 and 1  together, in regards  to the  ultra portable. 
Ratchet is mostly  understated  with some snarkiness, but he is mostly in his G1 Marvel comics mould. An unwilling  soldier, who  cant and wont sit idly by  as long as he can help  them, even if that means risking everything. 

As for Jimmy Pink, beyond his silly last name he is obviously a throwback to Sparkplug Witwicky, who all the way back in 1984  (  damn  that  long ago already  ? )  had  Bumblebee in a similar spot in his garage and also immediately noticed, that this wasn't a normal car.  Especially the suspension  remark 
But the  comic is  light on  the Transformers  in robot mode,  while this sounds dull it isn't it just  builds up the suspense  and  heightens the  subterfuge feel of the  story so far. 
It's something to look back on, because it wont last. 
But right now  Autobots and Decepticons are still in full on cold war mode, with cloak and daggers being the name of the game. 
Humans don't know they are here and they want to keep it that way,  which is why the Decepticons are after the sm40  

And  because of all the skullduggery,  we only get out first  real look at  any  transformer in this  series and in the whole  IDW- verse,  on the very last  page
and its a pair of battlechargers no less.  

Infiltration 1 is an excellent issue, it might be a bit of a retread after issue 0  but that  doesn't hurt it at all
 The art is gorgeous, the action fluid  and kinetic and the slowburn isn't that much of detriment. The story isn't  stretched to it's breaking  point or  run unnaturally  long   just to fill 6 issues. 
Later storylines will suffer from this.   
But Infiltration  at the moment  manages to balance between intrigue, decompression and speedy storytelling. 
It's also reads as a breath of fresh air where the tagline "Robots In Disguise" is  actually  more then just a spiffy tagline, but an integral  part of the  storyline.
And all this intrigue  comes crashing down  because of a few  pictures on an ultra portable. 
As far as  IDW  Transformers goes, this  issue is ground zero. This is where it all began 10  years ago. 
And it's still a great  read  10  years on.