Welcome back to Longbox Junk, where I write reviews of comics that nobody ever asked for!
Recently, the whole "nobody ever asked for" part has been more true than ever as I've been exploring a stack of one shot comics included in a purchase of 2 longboxes full of nothing but random NON-DC/Marvel comics. I've gotta say. . .digging into those longboxes has definitely been a new experience in obscurity for me. There's a LOT of stuff I never knew existed just in those two boxes of comics!
ANYWAY. . .
I've been letting my comic lovin' daughter pick the comics I review for these "Off-Brand One Shots" editions of Longbox Junk. So far, she's done a pretty good job of mixing things up and giving me a nice variety of genres from horror to comedy and everything in between. Let's see what she gave me this time, shall we?
CHAOS! COMICS (2001)
THE PEOPLE'S COMIC BOOK!
SCRIPT: Steven Grant
PENCILS: Fabiano Neves
It's a photo cover. What can I say? If you're a fan of Dwayne Johnson in his pro-wrestling "The Rock" persona, then this is probably an awesome picture worthy of being part of some sort of shrine. To me. . .it's just a picture of a younger Dwayne Johnson giving me "The People's Eyebrow".
Moving along. . .
The Rock is a simple man. A man of the people. A man who just wants a little peace between the times he lays the smack down in the wrestling ring. When The Rock accidentally finds himself caught between two competing illegal underground fight promoters. . .one of which has a fighter pretending to be The Rock, it's time to teach some candy their roles!
The Rock invades the underground fight club and shows every Jabronie that dares to step up to him what it means to look upon the glory of the most electrifying presence in sports entertainment. After defeating all comers. . .as was ordained the moment The Rock entered the building. . .he makes the crooked promoters smell what The Rock is cooking by forcing them to end their pathetic excuse for a tournament unless they want a piece of the people's elbow.
I have to admit that I'm not a pro wrestling fan. That said, I had a roommate in the late 90's that was rabid about it, so I'm familiar with it through a bit of osmosis from his constantly watching it. There's also been a few wrestlers who have broken away from the ring and into the general public consciousness, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is probably the most successful of those, so I know him more than most wrestlers. . .and even then I'm not a big fan. I'll watch his movies, but I don't go out of my way to see one just because he's in it.
What I'm trying to say is that I came into this comic not as a fan of The Rock, but as a comic fan who got handed a Rock comic by his daughter to review on its own merits. I could care less about The Rock in general.
THAT SAID. . .
I liked this comic a LOT! Quite a bit more than I thought I would when I got it handed to me and I was like, "Really?" It's the dialogue that makes this book great. It's hilarious and over the top all the way through, from page one to page last. Rock talking about himself in the third person and just blowing past everybody like a force of nature laser-focused on doing whatever the he wants to do is just FUN. This comic is just entertaining fun from start to finish! A very pleasant surprise.
On the art side of things, this is a pretty well drawn comic. Not the greatest art I've ever seen, but it's good and at least it captures the likeness of the main character, which is a lot more than can be said for most licensed property comics featuring actual people (I'm looking at YOU Deep Space Nine a couple of reviews below). There's also a great sense of motion during the action scenes. The art here is pretty much perfectly matched with the story.
Overall, I was really surprised by how much I liked this comic. It's fast, it's funny, it's over the top and just plain entertaining. It's not thoughtful or deep in any way, but sometimes you just want a good simple FUN story. This comic delivers just that.
I give The Rock 4 out of 5 candy taught their roles.
A good start this time out. . .NEXT!
LADY ACTION SPECIAL
SCRIPT: Tony Lee
PENCILS: Jake Minor
COVER: Paul Gulacy
I like a cover that tells a story and this cover tells me that there's a Lady and there's gonna be some Action! I have no idea who Lady Action is, but without even opening this comic I can tell that her kind of action involves guns, fast cars, and possibly some sort of kinky uniform-oriented shenanigans when it's all said and done. I like this cover a lot. It's not the greatest comic cover I've ever seen (her face and gun hand both look a little strange), but it's nicely done and lets you know what you're in for with one image.
Nicola Sinclair (AKA Lady Action), an agent of the British A.C.T.I.O.N. Directorate, infiltrates the mansion of crime lord "El Caso" during an exclusive party. With the assistance of an American A.C.T.I.O.N. agent named Adam, she successfully hacks into El Caso's private computer files and discovers that he has information that only A.C.T.I.O.N. should have.
Nicola's fears of a traitor are proven correct when El Caso and a group of his armed bodyguards arrive to take the British agent prisoner and Adam shows up with them and admits that he's working with El Caso. As the criminals discuss how to execute her, Nicola causes an explosion and flees the mansion with El Caso's men in hot pursuit.
Lady Action grabs a motorcycle and leads El Caso's men on a running gun battle chase through the surrounding woods. Nicola encounters Adam and tries to regain the flash drive with El Caso's files on it, but the American Double Agent shoots and kills Nicola as El Caso hovers overhead in a helicopter.
EPILOGUE: Two weeks later Nicola and Adam meet in a Texas diner. The information theft was a distraction and her death was faked so that Adam could infiltrate deeper into El Caso's organization.
Adam gives Nicola the information the British Branch was REALLY looking for, gained by El Caso's trust in Adam. Shortly after Nicola leaves with the files, Adam is shot in the head by one of El Caso's assassins and El Caso is informed that Lady Action is alive and has the stolen information.
To be continued. . .
Not bad. Not bad at all! This is a fast-paced, well-written "infiltrate and escape" spy story with a (somewhat predictable, to be honest) double twist. It makes me want to know what happens next. That said, even though it's a good story, it's not perfect.
This is firmly connected to the continuity of the Moonstone Captain Action series, so there are quite a few references to characters and events that have taken place "off stage". There is an assumption that if you're reading Lady Action, then you already know vital Captain Action-related information. . .like what the A.C.T.I.O.N. is in the first place! (I had to wiki up and discover that it's sort of like the Mission Impossible Force, but their main enemy are aliens who have infiltrated the world's governments) In other words, there is NO background information here. This story hits the ground running and stays that way to the end.
On the art side, I like this style a lot. It has heavy lines, chunky forms, and is just slightly exaggerated with nice bold colors and a great sense of movement. It's a perfect fit for a fast-moving story like this. Like a lot of these "Off Brand One Shots" there's a lot more effort and detail put into the female figure than anything else. This isn't QUITE as -tastic as some of them, but you can definitely tell what the artist's favorite thing to draw was.
Overall, I liked this comic a lot. It has a fun, fast-paced spy story backed up with some good art. There's no background material, so there's references that don't register well with a new reader like myself, and it has a "to be continued" ending, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this little story.
I give Lady Action 4 out of 5 menacing gunmen.
Two good ones in a row! Let's see if we can keep this going. NEXT!
STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE -
SCRIPT: Mark Altman
PENCILS: Rob Davis
COVER: Rob Davis
*Sigh* This again? Why do you keep doing this to me, Star Trek?
I'm a HUGE Star Trek fan, but Star Trek comics (especially those from the 80's and 90's) have pretty much consistently disappointed me with their art. It seems like the built-in audience and sales for Star Trek comics leads to a "Minimum Effort" standard. This cover is no exception. It's okay. . .but it doesn't look like the artist put any more work into it than he absolutely had to. And when I see the interiors were done by the same guy, it doesn't give me much confidence. Here's hoping that at least the story is good.
After the newly-established Federation colony Gakora in the Gamma Quadrant comes under attack by an unknown enemy, the Klingon cruiser A'v Wi, under the command of Captain Krol, answers the distress call, but finds the colony destroyed and only one human survivor. Krol decides to take the comatose survivor to the closest Federation base, Deep Space Nine.
Captain Krol is determined to find and destroy the attackers, while Katha, the Imperial Adjunct aboard the A'v Wi, insists on a more diplomatic first contact with the mysterious aliens. Deep Space Nine Commander Sisko agrees and asks to join the Klingons, along with his science officer, Dax.
Shortly after entering the Gakora system, the Klingon cruiser is attacked, but the attacking ships are technologically inferior and pose little threat. After opening communication, the alien commander seems to recognize the Klingons as allies and thinks that the humans he sees are prisoners. He offers to guide the confused Klingon Captain to their base.
After arriving at the alien homeworld and meeting their ruler, Malek, Sisko and Dax are imprisoned and scheduled for execution. Adjunct Katha and Captain Kol demand an explanation and are told that humans are the enemy of the Myvock people because they violated the ancient holy ground of the planet Gakora. Katha and Kol become more confused as Malek tells them that he was informed by other Klingons that the alliance between the Federation and Klingon Empire had collapsed.
IN THE MEANTIME. . .
On Deep Space Nine, the human survivor of the Gakora colony regains consciousness and informs Dr. Bashir that after the attack, when the aliens were slaughtering the survivors, they were accompanied by two female Klingons who Bashir realizes match the description of Lursa and B'etor. . .dangerous Klingon sisters who have constantly attempted to erode the Federation/ Klingon alliance. Doctor Bashir and Chief O'Brien volunteer to travel to Gakora and try to warn Sisko and Dax.
On the Myvock homeworld, Captain Kol and Katha are introduced to Hernai. . .the Myvock military commander who led the attack on Gakora. Hernai is determined that the execution of Sisko and Dax be carried out as quickly as possible. Kol and Katha arrange a secret meeting with the humans to tell them that they will not allow them to be executed. Katha reveals that she's actually a Klingon intelligence agent trying to track down the Klingon sisters Lursa and B'etor and prevent them from selling explosives to Bajoran terrorists.
On Gakora, Bashir and O'Brien are almost immediately captured by Lursa and B'etor while back on the Myvock homeworld, Sisko, Dax, Kol, and Katha confront Malek and inform him that he's being used by Klingon terrorists. Commander Hernai interrupts and they are all taken prisoner and scheduled for immediate execution, along with Bashir and Dax. . .which reveals that Hernai is working with Lursa and B'etor.
The Klingon cruiser transports the prisoners out of danger, and they quickly head for Gakora. Following a battle in mines beneath Gakora, Lursa and B'etor make their escape. Hernai reveals to Malek that he allowed the sisters to mine beneath their holy ground in exchange for technology to improve their weapons. Malek removes him from military command. Katha goes in pursuit of Lursa and B'etor while Sisko and Malek make peace between the Myvock and Humans.
Well now. . .that's a lot of story! And it's pretty well condensed too. I left out a couple of sub-plots (Doctor Bashir and the Klingon First Officer Koleth's friendship, for one example. The simmering conflict between Captain Kol and Katha for command of the Klingon ship is another) and there's STILL eight paragraphs. So yeah. . .this double-sized comic is definitely on the dialogue-heavy side.
The good news is that the story is very well done. The writer (who is a pretty prolific author and screenwriter. . .including a two-volume 50 year history of Star Trek) very accurately captures the voices and personalities of the Deep Space Nine characters in such a way that this comic reads like it could EASILY be the script for a Deep Space Nine episode set in the first season of the show. You can almost feel where the commercial breaks are supposed to go! This is great read for Deep Space Nine fans like myself.
Unfortunately. . .there's the art.
Once again, a Star Trek comic fumbles the ball with the art. It's clunky and uninspired from cover to last page. The artist mostly fails to capture the likeness of the T.V. characters and backgrounds are minimal to non-existent. There's just a feeling that not much effort was put into this. . .which is a shame, considering the really good writing. With a little more effort on the art, this COULD have been a great comic.
Overall, this comic is the definition of conflicted. On one hand, you have a good story that absolutely captures the essence and voices of established Deep Space Nine characters and reads like a "Lost Episode" of the first season of the series. On the other hand, you have clunky, uninspired art that demonstrates a "minimum effort" standard that is just one notch away from being outright bad.
I'll give this one a half and half score of 3 out of 5 bowls of Gagh (served live, of course)
AND FINALLY. . .
ENTER THE ZOMBIE
ANTARCTIC PRESS (2010)
ZOMBIES OF SHAOLIN
SCRIPT: Fred Perry & Robby Bevard
PENCILS: Ben Dunn
COVER: Brian Denham
I wish I'd had this comic when I was pulling covers for my Halloween comic display on my office "Wall O' Covers". It's chaotic and crazy in a good way. I like the colors a lot, especially the plain green background that really sets everything against it quite nicely. The gigantic nasty smile on the featured Kung Fu zombie is creepy and hilarious at the same time! It's not the greatest comic cover I've ever seen, but I like it!
A talented but impatient young American Shaolin trainee is denied the chance to take the initiation test. His master explains that decades of training lie in front of the young man before he can take the test. After learning the location of a hidden forbidden chamber on the Temple grounds, the student becomes convinced it holds the secrets of martial arts mastery he needs to take the initiation test.
Disobeying the command of his Master to not disturb the chamber, the student opens the sealed door and accidentally unleashes 36 evil, undead spirits that quickly begin to possess the rest of the students in the Temple. . .turning them into Kung Fu Zombies!
A friendly guardian spirit also released from the chamber informs the student that only HE can return the evil spirits to the chamber, because he was the one who released them. The student gathers his courage and sets off to prove that he's worthy!
After fighting his way through the possessed students to come to his teacher's aid, the student is surprised to find that his Master had used him to open the chamber's seal and betray the Shaolin Temple to the evil spirits. The battle between them is short and the student is easily defeated, but the Guardian Spirit infuses the student with the power of the SENTAI SHAOLIN TIGER!
Transforming into a heroic, armored figure, the empowered student defeats his former Master and the rest of the evil spirits before changing back into a powerless young man. The Guardian Spirit tells him that he is now the Guardian of the Secret Chamber.
Years later, the student has become the teacher. A young, impatient student of his discovers the location of the Secret Chamber. . .
Not bad. Not bad at all! This is an extremely fast-reading and stripped-down story that moves quickly from Point A to Point B to Point C without anything to slow it down. This is a lean story that is over before you know it. I literally finished this comic in five minutes.
But even though this is an extremely simple and action-heavy story, I liked it. It's quick and entertaining. It's not a great story. It might not even be good, when you think about it. It's like comic book junk food. You know it's not really great, but before you know it, you're done with the whole thing and you sort of want some more.
Ben Dunn is actually an artist I like a lot. I'm always happy to see his name on a comic. I appreciate his (and Antarctic) bringing the Manga style to an American audience. It's not my favorite style, but I like it in small doses now and then. This is a pretty straightforward, no-frills example of that American Manga style. It helps the fast-paced story move quickly across the page, and it's very nicely done.
Overall, this is pretty much what I call a "junk food comic". Sure, there's better comics out there, but sometimes you just want a little bit of fun entertainment that might not be what other people would call great, but screw those people. Not everything has to be great. This is just a fast-paced, fun little story. Nothing more, nothing less.
I'll give this one 4 out of 5 poorly-dubbed episodes of One Piece.
Well now. . .THAT was an unexpected surprise. This handful of "Off-Brand One Shots" my daughter gave me was actually pretty darn good! Except for the extremely weak art on Deep Space Nine (But that's par for the course on almost ANY 80's or 90's Star Trek comic, to be fair) there's not much bad to say about any of these. That doesn't happen very often.
Up Next. . .
Plenty more Off-Brand One Shots in the pile.
Let's see what my daughter hands me next!
Be there or be square.