Schachat's Independent Breakdown
Schachat spent time in prison for "Schachating
December 9, 2004
week, Jason Schachat takes you along for his ride on the
four-colored pulp pony. Feed the addiction, and the addiction
Bat-suit without nipples? I… I almost feel like
the taint of Catwoman
has been washed from my mouth…
the Terrible Teddy #2 is one weird little
collection of shorts. Imagine if Venom bonded with a cute
little plush toy; that’s about what you get with Deady.
Creator Voltaire uses his abomination’s second outing
to muse on what would happen if Deady’s plans of world
domination ever came to fruition, where he would fit in
the Star Wars Universe, the inevitable meeting of Deady
and The Crow, and what happens when Deady uses some more
literal crows to act out a favorite nursery rhyme.
Yes, this little graphic novel slanders
and stars not just Star Wars and The Crow but Roman Dirge,
Maakies, Voltaire’s own Oh My Goth!, and just about
everything else you can wedge between his love for geekiness
and gothness. It’s a fun little rampage with the malevolent
stuffed animal, but it definitely caters to a certain crowd.
Not just goths or Hot Topic drones, necessarily, but this
easily works for the same bunch that follow Jhonen Vasquez
Ultimately, it’s a question of whether
you want to shell out the six bucks for this roughly fifty
page collection of shorts. I’m a little wary of giving
this an outright recommendation because short collections
tend to tire me out, and, despite some very entertaining
entrees, there are a few that try to be weird for weirdness
sake rather than sticking to the disjointed humor.
guest star characters and artists give Deady enough variety
to appeal to the masses (something you wouldn’t think
possible), but he’s still a damn odd little bastard.
I usually get enough violence and teddy bears in Bear,
but Deady appeals more to geek culture. And, hey, when you
get Neil Gaiman to write a story for the next collection,
you know you must be doing something right.
behind The Intimates was, with all the “Ultimate”
superhero comics out there, wouldn’t it be nifty to
explore the opposite kind of storytelling? To go not for broad
characters and big action, but the intimate details of superhero
lives? Works in theory, but, as of The Intimates
#2, it still has yet to be proven.
more exciting than superheroes playing videogames...
This month, our rebellious superteens sleep
through a pep-talk assembly from Mr. Majestic’s former
sidekick Desmond. Destra and Empty Vee then bellyache about
him in the lady’s room while Punchy and Duke do the
same on the basketball court. Duke gets a little testy at
Punchy’s lack of respect for Desmond (and starts to
undergo some crippling constipation), but Punchy gets back
on his good side by promising to sneak him out of the school
so they can visit Mr. Majestic’s Mt. Rushmore Sanctuary.
to say there’s a reason why the widscreen style works
so well, and it’s the missing component that makes
The Intimates so slow-going: it’s all about
plot. Characterization is fine and dandy, but, when you’ve
got a visual medium like comics, there’s just a lot
more excitement in a plot motivated story than a collection
of talking heads spouting out lots of dialogue. I think
only Bendis has made talking heads work really well in the
last few years, but, hey, that’s BENDIS.
let’s face it, Ultimate books are not synonymous with
widescreen comics. They try to be, and some mini/maxi-series
are definitive widescreen, but Ultimate Spider-Man
certainly isn’t. Neither is Ultimate X-Men
nor Ultimate Fantastic Four. Heck, I don’t
think we could even call them archetypal, what with the
mad rush to shoehorn in as much history as possible in a
limited amount of time.
I WILL say that those books do mix a lot of characterization
in with the action. So, how’s The Intimates
that different? Because they insert info bubbles that yank
us out of the story’s flow? Not buying it. The first
issue was different enough to get my attention, but this
second one doesn’t develop the characters beyond the
broad stereotypes we met in the first issue.
We get some drama, conflict, and humor,
but it isn’t anything special—aside from the
fact that some of these kids are downright loathsome. Even
the Jim Lee cover art is less than stellar. Not Recommended.
a very common storytelling strategy in anime and manga wherein
the creators give us a puzzle with missing pieces and audiences
are hooked trying to figure out what it all means. Of course,
this all falls apart if you don’t solve the mystery
(fans of the highly addictive Neon Genesis Evangelion
reportedly rioted and threatened to burn down the studio
when the last episode failed to answer any questions), but
it usually works out enough to be worth the gamble. I think
that’s what’s going on in Karas
issue begins simply enough with a young and old detective
talking about how tough it as working the streets of Tokyo.
Then we segue to a bespectacled chicken and a giant, living
saki bottle-man in rain ponchos digging through the trash
for food (no, I’m not making this up).
They complain and argue about how hard things
are in the city and how good life was in the country. Then
an anthropomorphic rabbit falls on top of them: surely a
bad omen. After a brief speech from a girly looking guy
in black armor who must be the villain, we end up at a hospital
for monsters like the chicken, bottle, and rabbit.
It’s run by another pretty boy with
a magical suit of armor, and, in his discussions with an
anthropomorphic frogman, we learn that the monsters are
of ancient legend in Japan, but their days are coming to
a close, and a new evil force seeks to use them to make
his armies. The end of the world is coming.
yes, Karas kicks off with a resounding “wha?!”
While the mystery of having absolutely no
clue of what’s going on does have a certain appeal,
I was just too lost to enjoy this book. I had to keep flipping
back and forth to try and figure out what the detectives
had to do with anything, what the obligatory cute girl making
a fashion statement was up to, and whether or not two pages
had gotten stuck together.
Nuria Peris’ backgrounds and less
realistic characters are enjoyable, but the moment something
has to look human, we run into all sorts of problems with
proportion and perspective. The Karas armor looks appropriately
lethal, but the action scenes toward the end didn’t
have enough energy to keep the book afloat. Of course, this
could end up being brilliant in four or five issues, but
I can’t think of any reason to buy it yet.
people know about Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and
the gaggle of goth comics that have emerged in it’s
wake. To be fair, not all of them are copies and some (like
Lenore and the not-goth-but-lumped-in-with-them-anyway
Bear) have been pretty enjoyable. But they usually
follow the same formula of creepiness mixed with dark humor.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I first discovered
Kindergoth (which, in an alternate universe, would
probably be titled “Goth Babies”).
comic takes the all-too-overused concept of goth children
vs. the world and lets it be the cartoony battle against
all things sacred you always wanted. Kindergoth
#4 continues the romp with our gang of elementary
school punks who commandeer an alien spacecraft in order
to rescue a seventeen year old first grader (yes, he’s
that dumb) and prevent humanity from being destroyed when
he fails the aliens’ aptitude test.
hindsight, though, didn't you always suspect it?
The little tykes start making Star Wars
quips as soon as they crash on the landing deck. The nerd
they brought along to take the alien test nearly has an
orgasm when they touch down, but the ever violent cute little
girl Alise ends that by threatening to wring the life out
An alien cook and mini grim reaper (apparently,
the kids leave a trail of death in their wake) accompany
them on their crusade through giant interstellar video stores
and intergalactic hall monitors, but will they make it through
their reference-heavy adventure in time to save the Earth?
Re-reading the last issue, I have to say
this one doesn’t deliver as many laughs, but it still
entertains, horrifies, and, occasionally, delights (nothing
can top the all encompassing explanation for cattle mutilations,
crop circles, and Roswell that happened last time around,
though). There are some moments that are a touch too surprising,
but it’s to be expected, what with the massive cast
of kids running all over the place.
greatest contribution, however, is making goth kids that
are goth KIDS and not just shrunken down versions of depressed
or angry teenagers. While I doubt you’d ever find
a mob of urchins like this in any real elementary school
(and their knowledge of pop trivia from twenty years before
they were born is ASTOUNDING), this bunch makes a welcome
diversion from all the other attempts to win over the Hot
Topic crowd. Recommended.
first seven pages of Mu #1 hooked
me instantly. The dirtied-up Boris Vallejo art style and
broad high fantasy storytelling awoke the jumpy little fanboy
in me that drools uncontrollably when a new issue of Conan
is about to hit the racks… but then it had to change.
Our story turns from a flashback to the
time when two wizards formed an uneasy alliance against
a dark god to the story of a sagely historian one thousand
years later. Despite the fact that he has a bizarrely buxom
hottie elf-chick working for him, the story loses its appeal
as the more interesting legend that began the issue fades
into the background.
A new warlord rides into town, there’s
a big party, lots of exposition, another hot chick with
magic floating silks that keep her clothed, and the historian
translates a chronical that promises the end of the world.
Frankly, I just wanted to hear more about those two wizards
beating up cyclops and tearing through the enemy stronghold.
way, it’s like beginning Lord of the Rings
with a combination of the battle in Moria and Sam and Frodo’s
march up Mount Doom. Once you’ve given us the grand
magic and the desperate emotion, who really wants to go
back and spend a week in Hobbiton? However, I’d also
say this book more strongly resembles the anime/manga Berserk
than any works of Tolkien. It’s far more concerned
with rippling muscles and ancient prophesies than magic
is the second book by Ice Studios that I’ve reviewed
and it suffers from many of the same problems the other
did: interesting backstory leading into a less exciting
plotline, main characters that are just barely worth watching,
and pretty art that quickly becomes disproportionate and
strange. Like Megacity 909, I want to like it,
but there are just too many flaws for me to make a recommendation.
X-Men: Academy X #7 is a pretty disturbing
sign of where the book is going. It had been a drama for
a long time, but the move to the new Xavier’s cast
things in a different mold. Essentially, it’s become
an out and out high school drama, and that was okay for
one arc, but it looks like the creators may be running out
of steam. Why do I say that? Two words: haunted mansion.
growing horror, the kids stared at the wreckage
Eddie Murphy's career...
Yes, this issue not only brings team leader
David’s sister in for a visit but also tosses in a
pesky poltergeist. Little sis is introduced around and we
get another one of those threads where everything at Xavier’s
is surprising and new through the eyes of a stranger. Then
Jay Guthrie notices objects seem to be moving around his
room when he’s not looking.
In Science Lab, Josh macks on TA and would-be
girlfriend Rahne Sinclair while Laurie is partnered with
the other romantic possibility of Kevin (though, of course,
his power prevents him from touching anyone without killing
them). Noriko notices Jay perched atop a basketball hoop
during lunch and learns of his attempted suicide, wondering
how he could feel THAT alone when he has so many loving
friends and family.
She calls up her own family in Japan, just
hoping to talk with her brother, but is shut down when her
father grabs the phone from her mother and tells Noriko
how much shame she’s brought to the family before
hanging up. Laurie and Kevin run into some more ghostly
warnings, Julian tries to pick a fight with David, and Jay
seems to get closer to Noriko for a moment. Then they notice
her room has been mysteriously trashed while she wasn’t
one hand, you could say New X-Men gives you a lot
of bang for your buck plotwise. Only about three scenes
last for more than three pages, and a large number fit snugly
into one page. Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir pack
a lot of interaction and character development on these
pages… but a haunted mansion story? I know we were
probably ripe for one, but this just comes off as trite
I also have to lob some blame towards artist
Michael Ryan, but maybe a bit more to the Marvel editors
who put him on this book. I wouldn’t call him a bad
artist, but his subtle style isn’t well-suited to
this quiet comic. I’ve seen far worse artists handle
these characters, but the layouts and bold art added some
excitement to the story. Ryan’s work isn’t strong
enough to carry the book, and I’m afraid that’s
what it needs to do when our underlying mystery is a haunting.
Pass on this one.
question for the makers of The Question? How the hell am
I supposed to summarize The Question #2?
The first outing of this miniseries was delightfully surreal,
but this one, while charming and not too terribly painful
to describe, is hard to compartmentalize.
gobbling five Missile Pops, I once vomited this
exact same image.
Here goes: Vic Sage, celebrity investigative
reporter by day/creepy, otherworldly hero by night, wanders
out into the streets of Metropolis instead of covering the
press conference where Lex Luthor announces the construction
of a massive edifice in the center of Metropolis. While
Lois Lane pesters the billionaire tyrant about the missing
deeds that allowed Lex to bulldoze one hundred city blocks,
he instead pushes the press’ attention toward the
Feng Shui master who’s found the world’s most
powerful focused chi in Metropolis. Right where Lex’s
new toy’s being built.
In parallel plotting, The Question walks
the city and the “other” world, asking what
is hurting Metropolis so. The city responds through snippets
of pedestrian conversations The Question picks up, saying
it’s in danger; being ripped apart to give birth to
an abomination. Three guesses what the city’s referring
You know, I take back what I said earlier:
this IS terribly painful to describe. Very hard to do justice
to. Throw in a few “zips” and “booms”
and this synopsis could read like another cheap superhero
adventure, which it most assuredly is not. Even though Superman
does make a brief appearance towards the end, this is about
the quiet battles that go on. About the bank robbery happening
while men of steel are fighting the interstellar death rays
that serve as a distraction.
Question deftly manages to walk the fine line of otherwordly
adventure without stepping into farce or trite melodrama.
Rick Veitch gives the story a sly eeriness that smacks of
his days on Swamp Thing but is decidedly a different animal.
Major credit has to go to artist Tommy Lee Edwards for making
such a solid book from photo referencing, photo portraiture,
traditional lineart and 3D models. The integration is wonderfully
messy, giving it a less computerized look than The Red
Star without being another gritty city a la Gotham
Predictions for This Week: Fables #32, Gotham Central
#26, Marvel Knights Spider-Man #9, Powers #7, and She-Hulk
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