I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!
I DO love the one-shots! To me, they are one of the ultimate expressions of comic art, where the creators are tasked with the challenge of telling a complete standalone story in a very limited space. Sometimes it works brilliantly, other times. . .not so much.
ANYWAY. . .
Here's another handful of one-shots randomly pulled from my collection. Let's do this!
ALIENS: MONDO HEAT (Dark Horse)
When a mining colony is infested with aliens, the owner's daughter is missing, and Colonial Marines can't get there soon enough, mercenary exterminator Herk Mondo is called in to take care of things even though Mondo's extermination methods tend to be a bit. . .destructive.
Still, despite being unarmed, surrounded by aliens, saddled with two spoiled women, and betrayed by his employer's greedy son, Mondo gets the job done.
Ah. . .the 90's. Remember when Duke Nukem was the King of video games? Herk Mondo, alien exterminator, was Dark Horse's version of Duke Nukem. Quick with the one liners. surrounded by women, and killing everything in sight with ridiculously large guns.
Overall, despite the total "90's-ness" of this one shot, I found it to be a fun, quick read. I liked that Dark Horse tried to throw a little humor into the grim world of the Aliens line of comics, and for the most part, it worked. The realistic, yet cartoony art definitely helped sell it.
All in all, a very nice little one-shot. It makes me wish Dark Horse would have done a few more Mondo stories.
ARCHARD'S AGENTS: THE CASE OF THE PUZZLED PUGILIST (Crossgen)
When former boxer and agent of famous detective Simon Archard, Peter Grimes, runs into trouble from former criminal associates, he's forced to flee for his life and into the employ of a country Earl.
Peter decides to try his hand at solving the crime when the Earl ends up dead, and discovers that he's a better boxer than detective when he picks the wrong suspect with the wrong motive. Still, he ends up with the girl, so all ends well.
I really enjoyed this one shot, which is a tie-in to Crossgen's Sherlock Holmes tribute, Ruse. The dialogue was sharply-written, the story was engaging, and the detailed art was fantastic. . .it reminded me a lot of one of my favorites, Steve Epting.
I liked the humor in the ending in that the amateur detective gets everything wrong and the case is only solved by a confession made in order to stop him from beating the wrong man to death.
All in all, an extremely enjoyable one shot that really makes me miss Crossgen's short-lived Ruse series, and Crossgen in general. They put out some really good comics during their time.
BATMAN: THE 10-CENT ADVENTURE (DC)
The origin of Batman is retold from the perspective of Batman's new partner, Sasha Bordeax (AKA Bodyguard), as we follow them on a typical night's patrol.
When the night is done, the peaceful morning back at Wayne Manor is shattered when Bruce Wayne's ex-girlfriend, Vesper Fairchild, is found dead on his doorstep. . .leading into the "Bruce Wayne, Murderer?" crossover.
Overall, I really enjoyed this little one shot quite a bit. The retelling of Batman's origin is overdone, but Rucka keeps it interesting. The chunky art is very nicely done as well. . .it reminds me of the animated series or Batman Adventures a bit.
The only thing I didn't like about this book is that as a one shot it doesn't stand on its own very well beyond the origin retelling. I had no idea who "Sasha" was and had to dip into the Wiki-Well to see how she fit into things.
That said, despite reliance on assuming the reader is up on (then current) continuity, this was a very nice issue.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE ROAD TO WAR (Marvel)
First off. . .the cover on this one is spectacular! Definitely worth a frame on the wall.
The story is okay. Nothing great, but not bad. It's a prequel to the "Civil War" movie and features the movie versions of the Avengers as Captain America tries to fit the new team members into place by taking them on a mission where they all have the opportunity to take turns punching a giant robot. TEAMWORK!
The art is serviceable and solid, once again, nothing too spectacular. There are quite a few full page shots, including one for each Avenger, that are nicely done.
The back half of the book is taken up by a reprint of Tales of Suspense #58 by Stan Lee and Don Heck. It's pretty good, depending on your tolerance for Silver Age art and dialogue.
Overall, this was a solid one shot. Nothing spectacular (except the cover!). It serves as a very nice introduction to the MCU versions of the Avengers, as well as a nice taste of Silver Age Mighty Marvel Bombast.
DESERT STORM: SEND HUSSEIN TO ! (Innovation)
Now, HERE'S an odd bird indeed.
At first, I thought the cover on my issue was loose, but the printing on the inside of the wrap around cardstock cover goes ACROSS the binding, leading me to believe that this book has a removable cover for some 90's-tastic reason.
Then, in another odd touch, the indicia reads: "This volume is not a reprint -- it is a re-binding of existing printed books, with original covers and staples removed. Contents may vary!", leading me to believe that there are multiple versions of this book.
Odd physical properties aside, there's not much to like about this book. The opening new story. . .about an airman who crashes in Iraq and finds out the Iraqi soldiers following him are just trying to surrender, and the one page Rocky and Bullwinkle tribute are entertaining in a jingoistic way. . .but they only take up 8 pages total in a 64 page book.
The other two stories are. . .well. . ..
Legacy seems to be based on an ongoing superhero title, but it really looks like an excuse to draw sexy women. And it doesn't even do a great job at that. The artist is one of those who can draw women's bodies to perfection, but struggles with literally everything else.
The second story is a bit more tolerable, with decent black and white art, but the story itself is convoluted and confusing.
Overall, I have two words for this one shot:
THE GOON 25-CENT SPECIAL
A giant poker-playing spider, a goat-headed demon with a funny hat, a swamp monkey monster with an identity crisis, a zombie priest who makes the swamp monkey eat a dead guy's head, and the Goon punches lots of stuff!
Yeah, the story doesn't make much sense, and you get dumped right into the middle of it, but I still found this one shot to be pretty entertaining.
The dialogue is sharp, the art is nicely done, and the short backup story is pretty funny.
Overall, I didn't find this to be a great introduction to The Goon (as I was sort of hoping it would be), but it's not bad at all.
This handful of one-shots were definitely a mixed bag. . .from the excellent Ruse tie-in to the laughably -tastic Send Hussein To ! and everything in between. Generally, I liked them all except the aforementioned Desert Storm one shot, and even that wasn't ALL bad.
The thing I DIDN'T like is that only half of these one-shots were really stand-alone stories (Aliens, Ruse, and Captain America). When I read a one-shot, I'm looking for something that stands on its own.
Up next. . .
More one shots! Part 2. . .Hellboy, Punisher, Red Sonja, Boba Fett, Dracula and The X-Files.
Be there or be square!
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