Variant Coverage By Ryan Walsh For Comic Carnival
Did you enjoy Free Comic Book Day this weekend? We’re betting you did. You cleaned us out and brought friends to share in the experience, so we’re making the safe bet there. Crazy thing – they’re STILL making comics, even after all that. I can barely believe it myself, but here’s proof.
•Warhammer 40,000 – Deathwatch 1 of 4 (Dembski-Bowman/ Betting): “I made this armor myself out of the giant bear that killed my parents.”
“You mean you made the bear-skin hide that’s over your armor.”
“Nah, I mean the whole thing. My parents were both marines, too, and this bear had connections at DARPA.”
•Analog 2 (Duggan/ O’Sullivan): Pro spy tip: The top espionage agents conduct themselves with suave sophistication around their bosses, paramours, and the general public, but around each other they become petty children. Bullies shove the smaller spies’ heads into copiers. Vintage liquor bottles become the juice boxes they slap-fight over while shouting mean names at each other. In one corner, a femme fatale in a gorgeous dress bawls her eyes out because Misty from Ukraine took the last cigarette holder and she knows Misty doesn’t even smoke.
•Runaways 9 (Rowell/ Anka): Now there’s no way for this guy to know if this is a statue or a Doombot or the actual Doctor back in his classic garb, but when a situation demands some chest puffing, he’s there. Also for situations that recommend chest puffing, or indifferently allow it, or when it’s expressly prohibited. The point is, Chase has surprising lung capacity and one way or another people will know it.
•Justice League – No Justice 1 (Snyder, Tynion IV, Williamson/ Manapul): There’s something sacred that crossed the boundaries of good and evil for a long time now. It’s not religion, it’s not a mutual attachment to orphanages, and it’s not food. It’s the Oscar Night Pool, and when the obvious best picture loses out to the 27th movie about World War I in four years, there’s a rallying cry that’ll reach across the stars: No Justice! When the Academy opens the door to find five different species of aliens working together (despite bitter histories) demanding to know why the convicted sex offender won best supporting actor, maybe that’ll let them know that they goofed. [7/10]
Without completely spoiling Dark Nights Metal, the DC universe only continues to spin because someone used a crowbar to shove things back into place. That crowbar’s left a crack in the Source Wall, which serves as the mother of all DC’s macguffins. Four celestial colossi see this as a sign of end times and start eating compatible worlds in something like a cosmic eating contest. Brainiac, known as someone who prefers eating planets himself, takes it upon himself to draft the most powerful and ingenious defenders he’s ever known and team them up unconventionally with the intention of heading off this galactic gluttony before it starts with his home planet. With Brainiac’s total mental capacity devoted to this cause, someone else sees an opportunity to pillage, loot, and burn.
By the time the players were assembled, the catalyst was defined, and the threat was introduced, I was dumbstruck by how twisted and dizzying things had gotten. Enemies need to act like friends, handshakes take the form of blitzkrieg invasions or literal backstabbing, and there’s an HR manual somewhere that’s just an oversized copy of A Clockwork Orange. I didn’t know whether to laugh at its ridiculousness or applaud at its audacity. In tone, it’s absolutely in the style of a Silver Age event, where everyone begins in impossible circumstances and the best plan anyone can come up with is “run with it”. Everyone has their own measure of how many coincidences can happen before they throw up their hands and back out, so it’s difficult for me to say if it’s too crazy to enjoy, but by the time you finish reading this book you’ll have a better idea of your personal threshold.
Now that the DC universe is reconnected to the full multiverse, the art makes up for lost time by pulling designs and elements from different timelines. The Superfriends, the Injustice games, Justice League Unlimited, all those continuities and others on top of that are mined for visual data in order to put together a comic that presents everything brilliantly. The varied palettes for the different characters and teams are kept consistent throughout the issue, allowing the reader to comprehend the scene without lingering too long.
No Justice reads like a tour of the Wonka factory – everything looks bright and sweet, but you should absolutely watch out for the dark and bitter twist.
•Hunt for Wolverine – Adamantium Agenda 1 (Taylor/ Silva): “Aren’t we going to turn around and check out the scene?”
“You know the rule, Jessica: Walk away from explosions. Ignore them, and they’ll go away on their own.”
“That’s bullies! And also bulls*&%! We need forensic evidence to determine what the explosive was made of, or if there’re any contaminants to worry about.
“And what about what that red-haired woman said about finding truth in the flames?”
“Spider-Man, first, we know you’ve got a type, you can stop reminding us. Second, I’ve told you to stop falling asleep binge-watching Game of Thrones!”
•Maestros 6 (Steve Skroce): Oh glorious, splendiferous day! Now I have a new image to meme up for when news pops up!
The Dow went up five points today…
Recent studies show that only 85% of parents have kids…
•Sleepless 6 (Vaughn/ Del Duca): Rock-a-bye, Sir Knight, on the hill top/ When the wind blows, the old bones will knock/ And when the plague breaks, the kingdom will fall/ And Death will free people, both great and small -*
(CC Note: That got morbid fast.) (Oh what, like the original nursery rhyme’s about puppies and sunshine?)
•Ghostbusters Answer the Call 5 (Thompson/ Howell): Synchronized plasma-casting enjoyed popularity as a sport for nearly two decades, but fell out of favor during its first event at the Olympics when the French team attempted a particle-accelerated braid and crossed the streams, opening a rift through space and allowing three elder gods passage into the mortal realm. Unsurprisingly, Germany gave the performance an 8.
•Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 44 (Venditti/ Peterson): Well, this showdown between space fraternities sets the bar pretty high for homoerotic tension. Get Guy Gardner grouped in and it’s gonna get giggity in this galaxy.
•My Boyfriend is a Bear GN (Ribon/ Farris): Are we transitioning to become a furry boutique? (CC Note: No?) It’s just that shops sometimes sneak in new merchandise and say it’s not a big deal but in two months they’ve done a total rebranding, and this looks like the first step. (CC Note: It’s NOT!) You say that, but there’s this giant costume in the back no one’s supposed to talk about. (CC Note: That’s Wile E. Coyote, we’ve had that for years.) Okay, you’re not helping your defense here.
•RoboCop Citizens Arrest 2 (Wood/ Coelho): Whether you’re in Old Detroit or Delta City, there’s just no way to get through a crowd during rush hour at a decent pace. Even brandishing a hand howitzer doesn’t help when the latest Solo trailer drops.
•Venom 1 (Cates/ Stegman): “Where is he? We want him!”
“Spider-Man? I think he’s hunting for Wolverine.”
“No, not Spider-Man! Where is Batman! Where are you, Caped Crusader? We’re on your gargoyle, brooding all over the place, and there’s not a thing you can do to stop us!”
“I don’t think Gotham’s even in this time zone.”
“Who’s the blockbuster anti-hero now, huh?!” [6/10]
Whenever Eddie Brock and the alien symbiote/ activewear ensemble are together, they’ve competed for title of Most Angsty Contributor to their collective existence as Venom. The symbiote’s experiencing nightmares while they’re asleep, and chanting for murder during the day, so not only is Brock the calm one of the group, he’s taking anti-psychotics to shut the symbiote out. Their nightmares are about some battle at least 1,000 years ago, and a language that’s supposed to be dead. Right in the middle of some violence therapy, they’re kidnapped by a man claiming (and proving) to know his way around a symbiote pair, and is willing to help them if they’ll help him rescue a few war buddies. Sure, this flies in the face of everything they thought they knew about Earth’s history with the conjoined species, but it’s enough to put a smile on Venom’s face.
One thing about this story that impressed me was the dichotomy between Eddie and the symbiote. Too often the alien is regarded as a tool or accessory, something that enhances another character’s persona but not adding anything new. This is the first time I can recall where the symbiote presents a problem from its supposedly rich history, and also a moment for the alien to depend on Eddie more than the other way around. It’s a good thing that it wants to add to the mythos, because it tends to forget other parts conveniently, like when it look better for Venom to be weak to fire or ignore the stuff. The rest of the story simply lacks anything solid to hold it together.
Venom’s design concept has always been a little glossy, a bit too dark to blend in properly, a looming threat that can’t help but grin at its own badassery. At moments, the art gets this right. Most of the time, however, Venom looks like a homeless bodybuilder sweating dirty machine lubricant. The coloring only makes things more confusing by smearing everything in murky shadows and dull hues, preventing the eye from defining anything properly.
Venom reads like an over-caffeinated rant – one thing bleeding into another so recklessly that what might’ve been good bits drown in the constant din.
•Batman White Knight 8 (Sean Murphy): “I know your secret, Joker.”
“What, that I’m not actually wearing make-up? That I custom-make my squirting flowers based on the winner of the Chelsea Garden Show? That Harley pounds protein shakes like no tomorrow to lift that hammer?”
“No, that you’re being funded by Pontiac.”
“Curses, Batman, foiled again!”
•Star Wars Darth Vader 16 (Soule/ Bonetti): Don’t you hate it when you’re walking to get a coffee and someone turns a corner that’s also getting a cup of coffee so it looks like you’re walking together only you aren’t? And then it happens again, and then more people stop what they’re doing and join just to see where everyone else is going? And next thing you know you’re on the news as a general of an army that’s conquered half a continent but of course the coffee shops get hit first and so you just don’t have the energy to explain what’s really going on? Man, that is the worst.
•Where’s Wolverine Poster (Todd Nauck): With all the heat and attention on Logan right now, Waldo is off somewhere enjoying five blissful minutes without that nagging feeling that he’s being hunted for by tiny pairs of eyes. Enjoy them, you candy-striped drifter.
See you next week, when we’ll be selling even more new comics! Where do they hide these things?
Looking for earlier blogs by Ryan Walsh for Comic Carnival? They’re here: Variant Coverage Blog Back Issues