‘Slayground’ And Other Comics Of Note, December 11th

Nobody does crime like Donald Westlake, and nobody adapts Donald Westlake quite like Darwyn Cooke. A review of the latest Parker graphic novel, Slayground, as well as looks at books from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Valiant, and Titan.

Slayground breaks with the format of the previous three books in this series in that the heist is secondary to what comes after. After an armored car robbery goes straight to hell, Parker finds himself trapped in an amusement park with $73,000. Unfortunately, some mobsters know he’s in the park, and they want the money.

Too bad they’re up against Parker. Cooke’s adaptation is largely a silent affair and more straightforward than previous books, but there’s plenty of his trademark style and beautiful layouts to go around. Yes, buying a hardback graphic novel is expensive… but when it’s this good, it’s worth every penny.

So that’s one comic to read this week; what about the rest of this week’s books?

<!–pagetitle:Justice League 3000 #1–>

What happens when you clone the Justice League a thousand years in the future and decide to make ’em fight the supervillains of the future? Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Howard Porter are tasked with finding out. It’s not a crucial book, but it’s a highly entertaining one, especially since Giffen and DeMatteis are allowed to essentially do what they want. If you’re a fan of anybody involved, pick this up.

<!–pagetitle:Inhumanity: Awakening #1–>

Matt Kindt, Paul Davidson and Jorge Molina expertly use the conventions and tropes of social media to look at what it might be like for a teenager to get superpowers. It’s a story that’s simultaneously clever and painful to read, and a very good spin on a classic Marvel plot. Recommended.

<!–pagetitle:Marvel Knights: Hulk #1–>

Joe Keatinge and Piotr Kowalski get together to have the Hulk trash France. Well, to have Banner wake up with no memory in France, and get chased by Hulks; it’s complicated. But it’s fun, as well, and worth reading if you’re a Hulk fan.

<!–pagetitle:Dead Body Road #1–>

Justin Jordan and Matteo Scalera start off a somewhat conventional crime/action book. But it’s a pretty interesting one if for no other reason that Jordan doesn’t screw around; he gets right to the action and starts filling in his characters on the way. Scalera has a facility with action that helps the books substantially, and makes this all in all a solid start to the miniseries. Worth picking up if you’re a crime book fan.

<!–pagetitle:Krampus! #1–>

This fairly conventional book is built around an undeniably funny idea: The Secret Society of Santa Clauses, faced with being depowered in an attack by the Sugarplum Fairies, unleash Krampus, kind of an anti-Santa that used to be deployed to beat naughty children. Mostly the gag is that you’ve got everything Christmassy doing superhero stuff, and that’s enough to sustain Brian Joines’s script, especially with Dean Kotz’ note-perfect art behind it. Good if you want to get in the Christmas spirit.

<!–pagetitle:Halo: Escalation #1–>

The first Halo ongoing gets off to… well, it gets off to a fairly standard, if action-packed start. The main issue with Chris Schlerf’s script is that it assumes you’ve played all the Halo games and care, deeply, about the mythology; it’s very much for fans. Similarly, Sergio Ariño and Juan Castro feel a bit limited by the license. But for fans, it’ll likely be a lot of fun.

<!–pagetitle:Indestructible #1–>

Barry is a regular guy. He’s not smooth with the ladies, he has an OK job and a family that’s kind to him, a lazy roommate, and is generally trying to figure out where he goes in life. Then he gets shot, with the bullet stopped by a flask… and now everyone thinks he’s a superhero.

Jeff Kline builds a pretty believable world around superheroes and the everyday guys, and Javi Garron’s art is lighthearted enough to carry the book. That said, this is mostly about the setup; we’ll have to see what it does with issue two to know if it can follow through on its promise. IDW has a preview, for you to make the call.

<!–pagetitle:Sinister Dexter #1–>

This book has Dan Abnett of The New Deadwardians and Andy Clarke, and yet, this story of future hitmen and the absurd, profane situations they find themselves in feels very generic and uninspired. The book has moments of genuine comedy to it, but there’s no overarching plot and it feels a bit half-baked and trying too hard. Possibly that’s thanks to this being new stories from a ’90s strip courtesy of 2000 AD, but either way, it needs a bit more to it. We’d offer a preview, but there are wall-to-wall boobs in the opening, so make of that what you will.

<!–pagetitle:WWE Superstars #1–>

Ever wondered what it would be like if WWE plotlines were real and the wrestlers were the characters they played? This absurdly goofy book will finally settle that question. As you might have guessed from the concept (and the fact that Mankind himself, Mick Foley, is co-writing), tongue is seated rather firmly in cheek on this one, but Alitha Martinez’s decent art and Foley’s willingness to commit to a goofy idea make for a pretty good book to stuff in a wrestling fan’s stocking.

<!–pagetitle:Doc Savage #1–>

Chris Roberson and Bilquis Evely bring back the Man of Bronze exactly as he was in the pulp era, for better or for worse. This seemed aimed squarely at fans of pulps and no one else, but it deserves credit for telling a self-contained story in its first issue, and not trying to modernize a book of its time. If you like Doc Savage, this is worth picking up.

<!–pagetitle:Sherlock Holmes: Moriarty Lives #1–>

Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic villain becomes yet another anti-hero dealing with somebody worse than him. Who has mystical powers. David Liss’s script is OK, for what it is, but around the time the wizard shows up, you can tell you’re not working with somebody who’s a fan. Daniel Indro offers some detailed, if a little bland, art, but overall, this is one you can probably skip.

<!–pagetitle:Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Code Red #1–>

The cover is the book; I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

<!–pagetitle:Brain Boy #0–>

Fred Van Lente and Freddie Williams II explore one of Brain Boy’s first missions, and it’s an action-packed romp as usual. It helps considerably that Brain Boy is a sarcastic, smart-assed hero who views the large shadowy corporation he works for with a bit more disdain, not least because… well, better to see for yourself. A lot of fun and highly recommended.

<!–pagetitle:Clown Fatale #2–>

This is a passable action book, I suppose, but it’s trying so hard to be “edgy” and “grindhouse” that it just kind of falls flat. There are moments in this book we’re supposed to feel bad for our anti-heroes, but everyone involved is such a caricature that it doesn’t work. That said, there is one hilariously gross moment in this book that almost makes it worth buying, but even so, this is a book that exists to sell covers, so keep that in mind.

<!–pagetitle:Unity #2–>

Harada, the Eternal Warrior, and Ninjak go up against X-O Manowar in his own spaceship. As you might guess, that does not go quite how anybody involved thinks it will. Matt Kindt steps away from his usual intrigue to write a straight-up action issue that’s smartly done and a lot of fun to read, and Doug Braithwaite gets to show a little range, from digital landscapes to the crushing depths of space to why you don’t mess with Harada. In short, it’s a lot of fun, and worth getting.

<!–pagetitle:Day Men #2–>

This book returns after a lengthy hiatus. And it’s still pretty good, but the gap doesn’t help. Still, if you want to get on board with the book, whether it’s Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson’s solid script or Brian Stelfreeze’s art, it’s worth putting this in the pile.

<!–pagetitle:Superman/Wonder Woman #3–>

After a somewhat rocky couple of issues, Charles Soule and Tony Daniel are starting to get a sense of the book. It still feels, a lot, like the book is told more from Superman’s perspective than Wondy’s, albeit with a hefty dose of Batman as a relationship counselor into the bargain, and the book will likely get slow-roasted for that in some quarters. But Soule deserves another issue or two to see where he’s going, both with Wondy and with Zod.

<!–pagetitle:Coffin Hill #3–>

Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda’s horror book has had some pacing issues, but it’s finally starting to pay off; the book develops a much creepier, less generic tone with this issue, and also a lot happens. It’s still somewhat paced for the trade, but this is definitely a welcome step up for the book.

<!–pagetitle:Three #3–>

Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly continue their dark, bloody story of three slaves on the run after offending the pride of the Spartans. It’s a brutal book that’s picking up steam and plot threads as it goes, and it’s becoming a quiet surprise on Image’s part. Highly recommended.

<!–pagetitle:Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine #3–>

This book is simultaneously an interesting mystery story and a smart look at what might actually happen if the general populace were given superpowers. A smart theme throughout Dan Jolley’s script is that superpowers are just dangerous in general, even when you’re trying to do the right thing. Mixed with Leonard Kirk’s artwork, it’s a great book and definitely one worth picking up.

<!–pagetitle:Conan And The People Of The Black Circle #3–>

Fred Van Lente and Ariel Olivetti continue their somewhat more rompish take on Conan and his adventures. It’s decidedly a Conan book, but quite a bit of fun, and Olivetti’s art is gorgeous. Well worth picking up if you’re looking for a fantasy book.

<!–pagetitle:Shaolin Cowboy #3–>

Geoff Darrow continues to redefine “writing for the trade” with an second book of, essentially, the Shaolin Cowboy carving zombies before goomba-stomping some heads. Although this issue has dialogue, at least. Either way, wait for the trade; it’s going to be the best reading experience.

<!–pagetitle:Death Sentence #3–>

There are two takeaways from this issue. One, Montynero really hates the hell out of Russell Brand. Two, this book could stand to pick up the pace a little. It’s a fun read, and the idea of superpowers killing you is a clever one, but so far it’s been more about the celebrities and indie rock girls than the plot. Still, it’s interesting and worth a look; Titan’s been good enough to pass on a preview.

Dark Horse does anthology horror books like no other, and Eerie serves as a good demonstration as to why. The stories contained in these thirty-two pages can be simultaneously grotesque and hilarious, and it helps they’ve got artists like Norm Breyfogle and Kelley Jones drawing the stories. If you’re a horror fan, this is worth every penny.

<!–pagetitle:Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction #4–>

Mark Waid and J. Bone wrap up their clever, funny miniseries mixing the best of two characters. If you love either of these characters, pick up this book; it’s like having Dave Stevens and Will Eisner back again, for a little while.

<!–pagetitle:Astro City #7–>

This new arc focuses on Winged Victory, this book’s Wonder Woman, and, on a more subtle level, talks a bit about feminism and gender. It also brings back a fan favorite or two, in a panel that will be somewhat… interesting for fans of the series. If you haven’t been reading this book, now’s the time to start; it’s a new arc and it promises to be a compelling one.

<!–pagetitle:Empowered Volume 8–>

Adam Warren’s deconstruction of superheroics and the male gaze in superhero comics goes to Hell. Figuratively, metaphorically, and most certainly literally. It also features Warren shifting his art style to some degree; the sketch-style look that’s carried the book is buttressed with some high-contrast drawings that make a good argument for Warren as a horror artist as well.

It’s a hard book to read if you’ve torn through the last seven volumes, especially as it wraps up Sistah Spooky’s arc with Mindf**k. If you know what I’m talking about, the book’s a must-buy; if not, start with volume one, and I’ll see you on this one.

<!–pagetitle:Abe Sapien #8–>

This book takes a break from the apocalypse to have ol’ Abe explore a sunken Mayan temple, drawn by Michael Avon Oeming. It’s a fun little one-off issue well worth picking up on its own merits, and also to get into this quite well-done ongoing.

<!–pagetitle:X #8–>

This book is still a bit thin, unfortunately, especially with the promise of this recent arc. That said, at least it’s slowly improving, and X is solving his problems with more than bullets, both welcome developments.

<!–pagetitle:Star Wars #12–>

This is something of a breather issue after Brian Wood and Carlos D’Anda tore up half the cosmos in the last few. But it’s still a great breather, with Wood perfectly capturing what we love about Star Wars. Highly recommended.

<!–pagetitle:Deathmatch #12–>

Paul Jenkins and Carlos Magno wrap up their book of hero fights on a surprisingly sad and contemplative note. In the end, this book becomes about superheroism versus actual heroism, and it ends on a melancholy final panel that will linger with you for a while. Highly recommended.

<!–pagetitle:Archer and Armstrong #16–>

Fred Van Lente continues his rampage across conspiracy theories and time, and it’s hilarious. Archer and Armstrong are uncomfortably reunited to try and end the Sect Civil War; it turns out that when a bunch of loonies decide to start killing each other instead of running the world, it goes badly. Who knew?

Khari Evans and ChrisCross have far too much fun with this book, with great action scenes and some jaw-dropping audaciousness in places. Check out the stained glass windows in the opening, for example. In short, this remains one of the funniest books on the stands; Valiant has sent along a preview to see for yourself.

<!–pagetitle:Harbinger #19–>

Torquehalla comes to an end, in the usual mix of hard edge and lighthearted comedy that defines this book. The current arc pays off considerably not least because we see just how dangerous both Peter Stanchek and Toyo Harada really are, and how dangerous their conflict is. In addition, Joshua Dysart gives the art team a real workout; everything from heavy metal van art to over-the-top gore to cartoon characters get a workout in this book. Highly recommended, and if you’re on the fence, here’s a preview.

<!–pagetitle:Justice League #25–>

Finally, the secret origin of Owlman! OK, so not “finally”, but it is at least a somewhat interesting take on why Thomas Wayne became what he is. And in addition, this book introduces Plastic Man in a spread that reminds us Doug Mahnke can draw the grotesque with the best of them. If you’re reading Forever Evil, this is worth picking up.

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Walking Dead #118, $2.99

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Fearless Dawn Jurassic (One Shot), $3.99

Crossed Volume 7 Badlands IV HC (Previews Exclusive), $27.99 
Crossed Volume 7 Badlands IV TP, $19.99 
George R.R. Martin’s Skin Trade #4 (Mike Wolfer Grisley Cover), $3.99 
George R.R. Martin’s Skin Trade #4 (Mike Wolfer Regular Cover), $3.99 
George R.R. Martin’s Skin Trade #4 (Mike Wolfer Skinned Incentive Cover), AR
George R.R. Martin’s Skin Trade #4 (Mike Wolfer Wraparound Cover), $3.99 
God Is Dead #1 (Enhanced Edition), $3.99 
Uber #8 (Caanan White Blitzkrieg Incentive Cover), AR
Uber #8 (Caanan White Regular Cover), $3.99 
Uber #8 (Caanan White Wraparound Cover), $3.99 
Uber #8 (Michael Dipascale Propaganda Poster Cover), $3.99

Critter #17 (Cover A Fico Ossio), $3.50 
Critter #17 (Cover B Jenevieve Broomall), $3.50 
In Crowd #4 (Of 4)(Cover A C.B. Zane), $3.50 
In Crowd #4 (Of 4)(Cover B Corey Knaebel), $3.50 
Penny For Your Soul Death #4 (Of 7)(Cover A J.B. Neto), $3.50 
Penny For Your Soul Death #4 (Of 7)(Cover B Oren Kramek), $3.50 
Ursa Minor #2 (Cover A Ian Snyder), $3.50 
Ursa Minor #2 (Cover B Nei Ruffino), $3.50

Warhammer 40k Pariah SC, $14.00 
Warhammer Sword Of Caledor SC, $14.00

12 Reasons To Die #5 (Of 6), $3.50

Comic Shop News #1382, AR
Comic Shop News Winter 2014 Preview, AR

Standard #4, $3.99

G-Fan #104, $6.95

Night Of The 80’s Undead #3 (Of 3), $2.99

Sunday Night Movies SC, $19.95

Bugged GN (not verified by Diamond), $12.99

Army Of Darkness Vs Hack Slash #4 (Of 6)(Cover A Tim Seeley), $3.99 
Army Of Darkness Vs Hack Slash #4 (Of 6)(Cover B Ben Templesmith), $3.99 
Army Of Darkness Vs Hack Slash #4 (Of 6)(Cover C Stefano Caselli), $3.99 
Army Of Darkness Vs Hack Slash #4 (Of 6)(Ken Haeser Subscription Variant Cover), $3.99 
Battlestar Galactica Starbuck #2 (Of 4)(Sean Chen Regular Cover), $3.99 
Black Bat #5 (Ardian Syaf Black & White Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), AR
Codename Action #1 (Of 6)(Johnny Desjardins Black & White Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), AR
Codename Action #1 (Of 6)(Jonathan Lau Black & White Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), AR
Dejah Thoris And The Green Men Of Mars #8 (Of 12)(Jay Anacleto Red Risque Variant Cover)(Dynamic Forces), $19.99 
Doc Savage #1 (Alex Ross Regular Cover), $3.99 
Doc Savage #1 (Alex Ross Sketch Variant Cover), AR
Doc Savage #1 (Alex Ross Virgin Variant Cover), AR
Doc Savage #1 (Bilquis Evely Variant Cover), AR
Doc Savage #1 (John Cassaday Variant Cover), AR
Doc Savage #1 (Stephen Segovia Retailer Shared Variant Cover), AR
Grimm The Warlock #1 (Of 5)(Greg Smallwood Regular Cover), $3.99 
Kings Watch #3 (Of 5)(Marc Laming Regular Cover), $3.99 
Kings Watch #3 (Of 5)(Ramon Perez Subscription Variant Cover), $3.99 
Lords Of Mars #2 (Of 6)(Fritz Casas Red Risque Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), AR
Mark Waid’s The Green Hornet #5 (Paolo Rivera Green Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), AR
Mark Waid’s The Green Hornet #5 (Paolo Rivera Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), AR
Miss Fury #5 (Billy Tan Red Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), AR
Owl #3 (Of 4)(Alex Ross Virgin Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), AR
Pathfinder #12 (Carlos Gomez Black & White Variant Cover), AR
Pathfinder #12 (Carlos Gomez Regular Cover), $3.99 
Pathfinder #12 (Jorge Faras Regular Cover), $3.99 
Pathfinder #12 (Jorge Faras Virgin Variant Cover), AR
Shadow Year One #5 (Of 10)(Alex Ross Virgin Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), AR
Shadow Year One #5 (Of 10)(Chris Samnee Black & White Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), AR
Shadow Year One #5 (Of 10)(Matt Wagner Black & White Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), AR
Sherlock Holmes Moriarty Lives #1 (Of 5)(Daniel Indro Variant Cover), AR
Sherlock Holmes Moriarty Lives #1 (Of 5)(Francesco Francavilla Regular Cover), $3.99 
Uncanny #5 (Dan Panosian Subscription Variant Cover), $3.99 
Uncanny #5 (Sean Phillips Regular Cover), $3.99 
Vampirella #33 (Fabiano Neves Black & White Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), AR
Warlord Of Mars #29 (Lui Antonio Red Risque Variant Cover)(Dynamic Forces), $19.99 
Warlord Of Mars Dejah Thoris #32 (Mel Rubi Red Risque Variant Cover)(Dynamic Forces), $19.99 
Warlord Of Mars Dejah Thoris #33 (Fabiano Neves Regular Cover), $3.99 
Warlord Of Mars Dejah Thoris #33 (Jay Anacleto Regular Cover), $3.99 
Warlord Of Mars Dejah Thoris #33 (Mel Rubi Black & White Risque Variant Cover), AR
Warlord Of Mars Dejah Thoris #33 (Mel Rubi Risque Variant Cover), AR

Celebrated Summer GN (not verified by Diamond), $16.99

Graveyard Book SC (by Neil Gaiman)(New Printing), $13.99

Hogans Alley #19 (not verified by Diamond), $6.95

Inside The TARDIS The Worlds Of Doctor Who SC, $19.00

Starling GN (not verified by Diamond), $17.95

Queers Dig Time Lords A Celebration Of Doctor Who By The LGBTQ Fans Who Love It SC, $17.95

Rue Morgue Magazine #140 (not verified by Diamond), $9.95

Domino Lady Sex As A Weapon GN (New Printing), $16.95 
Honey West And T.H.E. Cat #1 (Of 2), $3.99

Famous Monsters Of Filmland #271 (January/February 2013), $9.99

Watson And Holmes #6 (Cover A N. Steven Harris), $3.99 
Watson And Holmes #6 (Cover B Rick Leonardi & Jay David Ramos), AR
Watson And Holmes Volume 1 A Study In Black TP, $16.99

Buzz GN, $19.99 
Sixth Gun #36, $3.99 
Sixth Gun Sons Of The Gun TP, $19.99

Con Job GN (not verified by Diamond), $5.99

Judge Dredd Mutants In Mega-City One TP, $25.00

Girls And Corpses Magazine #20 (Winter 2013), $8.95

Atlantica A School Of Mermaids SC, $14.95

Farlaine The Goblin #3, $5.00

WWE #1 (Cover A Alitha Martinez ‘John Cena’), $2.99 
WWE #1 (Cover B Dean Haspiel ‘Kane’), $2.99 
WWE #1 (Cover C Michael Golden ‘Mark Henry’), $2.99 
WWE #1 (Cover D Jill Thompson ‘CM Punk’), $2.99 
WWE #1 (Cover E Miran Kim ‘Undertaker’), AR

Death Sentence #2 (Of 6)(Michael Dowling 2nd Printing Variant Cover), $3.99 
Death Sentence #3 (Of 6), $3.99 
Monster High Magazine #5, $4.99 
Star Wars Insider #146 (Newsstand Edition), $7.99 
Star Wars Insider #146 (Previews Exclusive Edition), $7.99

Hobby Japan #119 (November 2013), $16.60

SpongeBob Comics #27, $2.99

Knights Of Sidonia Volume 6 GN, $12.95

Arata The Legend Volume 16 TP, $9.99 
Devil And Her Love Song Volume 12 GN (not verified by Diamond), $9.99 
Magi The Labyrinth Of Magic Volume 3 GN, $9.99 
Nura Rise Of The Yokai Clan Volume 18 GN (not verified by Diamond), $9.99 
Tiger And Bunny Comic Anthology Volume 2 GN, $12.99 
Toriko Volume 19 GN (not verified by Diamond), $9.99 
Voice Over Seiyu Academy Volume 2 GN, $9.99

Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Code Red #1 (Of 5)(Cover A Talent Caldwell), $2.99 
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Code Red #1 (Of 5)(Cover B Pasquale Qualano), $2.99 
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Code Red #1 (Of 5)(Cover C Ale Garza), $2.99 
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Code Red #1 (Of 5)(Cover D Marat Mychaels), $2.99 
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Code Red #1 (Of 5)(Cover E J. Scott Campbell), $4.99 
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents No Tomorrow #4 (Of 5)(Cover A Tommy Patterson), $2.99 
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents No Tomorrow #4 (Of 5)(Cover B Eric J), $2.99 
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents No Tomorrow #4 (Of 5)(Cover C Paulo Pantalena), $2.99