Operation: CO-M.A.C.Z. #5 – Batman: Streets of Gotham, FUBAR, 1 Month 2 Live, & Skullkickers
By Andrew Raub Tuesday, 28 Sep 2010

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO! In a strange twist of fate, Andrew takes command of the editorial flagship while Zach hurries to finish a review just in the nick of time. With Project COMACZ in disarray, lone heroes Zach and Andrew stand with their backs against the wall to deliver a final stand of reviews of Batman, FUBAR, One Month To Live, and the much anticipated by some Skullkickers #1. Is this the end of the line for our Fantastic Foursome? Read on to find out!

Batman: Streets of Gotham #16

Impressions: What a confusing series. I bought #14 on a whim because I saw Dini and Nguyen doing a followup to their Heart of Hush and Last Rites stories, and I’m a fairly big fan of this creative team. Dini is a great Batman writers and Nguyen has a lovely distinctive style that’s partially cartoony, partially serious and gritty. I guess I’m also one of those weird people who likes the Hush character. This was supposed to be the start of a House of Hush story, but instead the Two-Face second feature ended up getting more pages. #15 ended up being entirely about Two-Face so I skipped it since the story didn’t seem particularly interesting. THEN #16 finally continues the Hush story in earnest. And so far, it is all right.

For those not keeping up with Batman, the Bruce Wayne’s estranged childhood friend, Tommy Elliot, aka the villain Hush, had plastic surgery back in Heart of Hush in order to resemble Bruce Wayne as part of his kinda wacky out there comic book plot for that story, and in the midst of Bruce Wayne stumbling through time with Grant Morrison, the Bat-family decided to force Tommy to play the role of Bruce while under their heavy supervision. Tommy of course has been a complete shit about the whole thing and generally trying to find ways to subtly screw over his handlers, such as campaigning that low level crooks and b-villains be set free since they have clean bills of mental health, as we see to open this issue. Dini also take the time to setup some cool flashbacks from when Tommy and Bruce were little and the Wayne parents were both alive (which seems to be a standard in Hush stories now).

The main premise here being that an old gangster that was recently freed from Blackgate wants revenge on the Wayne family (i.e. Bruce) for something his parents did years ago. In the meantime, Tommy is escorted by Zatanna to an awards show in a fun scene, and there is some good dialogue between Tommy and Alfred about how he’s simply biding his time until he finds a way out of this and he welcomes the Bat-family to kill him so his blood is on their virtuous hands. But outside of the final panel, nothing that interesting has really happened here. Kind of a letdown for a story I thought was gonna be wrapped up by now, and it’s just barely started. We’ll see where the rest goes from here. – Zach

Verdict: Nice art and dialogue, but nothing terribly interesting happens and not very essential unless you have been reading a bunch of Batman recently. An okay little side story so far.


FUBAR

Impressions: To paraphrase the introduction in this book: despite objections to even more zombie saturation in every facet of media, there still always seems to be room for more if you are willing to just have fun with it. Contained within the pages of this book are thirteen fun, short stories about zombies and World War II by various writers and artists. And when I say fun, I don’t mean rollicking tales of Allied forces blasting Nazi zombies and coming home victorious. No, these stories are thoughtful and disturbing and they fit perfectly well into the traditional zombie framework developed over the past several decades. But they are fun to read and re-read. It’s an anthology curated by Jeff McComsey with a variety of artists and writers working to create one hell of a zombie war book.

FUBAR Vol. 1 covers the European theater, telling tales from the perspectives of Americans, Germans, Russians, Brits, and Jews. It is interesting to see each writers’ take on how zombies would affect the war and the soldiers fighting it. The strong grit and determination of the stereotypical American army is not lost in “Kilroy Was Here”. The evilness of the Nazi forces is present in “The Valley of Death” and “The Brief”. The Russian sense of duty to the motherland is still in tact in “Four Days Ahead” and “Heroes of the Soviet Union”. But other stories embrace survival instincts, having characters abandon the idea of human enemies for the sake of surviving the zombie invasion. In “Bearer of Secrets” a Nazi soldier and a concentration camp victim are forced to work together, and surprisingly the concentration camp victim is made to look like the bad guy. In “Mother Russia” a Nazi colonel and a Russian sniper are forced to work together for the sake of a child when the realize each has something the other needs in order to survive. A game of chess is used as an analogy for the zombie threat in “Stalemate”, where two enemy commanders work together for the sake of their soldiers. Each story is unique in character and message.

While the stories depicted here are great reads, it’s what gets you thinking afterwards that is most exciting. While movies like “Dawn Of The Dead” get our heads spinning about how we untrained suburbanites would handle a zombie threat, here we have to put our heads into the mindset of war. These soldiers aren’t just fighting for survival; they are fighting for their countries, their homelands, and their families. In some stories the soldiers abandon the war and prefer survival, in other stories the glory is not lost to zombies, and the soldiers stick it out to the bitter end for their country. It’s hard enough thinking how I would act in a war, but with the addition of zombies the problem becomes even more complex.

The accompanying artwork throughout is just as varied as the story telling. Jeff McComsey’s loose style works well for hoards of anonymous, gaping-mouthed zombies. Steve Becker’s sharp and angular detailed drawing gives his work a hardened edge, and his zombies look particularly gruesome. Jim McMunn has a very cartoon-like style, and his work is very cinematic. James Nguyen and Steve Willhite have classic styles that lend well to the World War II theme. The rest are equally great, but I am not an art critic and I am having difficulty finding much to say.

Yes, this is a fun read. It’s fun for zombie fans, fun for World War II fans, and especially fun for fans of both. Each story is short and to the point, and re-reading this collection will no doubt be something readers find themselves doing involuntarily. Given that this is volume one, I am already eager for more. Hopefully there will be future stories covering the Pacific theater and maybe even more wars. – Andrew

Verdict: Great


One Month To Live #4

Impressions: In week four, Dennis is in bad shape and so is his family. Reed Richards confirms that Dennis will soon be facing his own mortality. Abbey deals with the guilt of lashing out at Dennis for causing the family trouble. Kelly shows remorse for being so cold to Dennis and Abbey and her emotions open up. In this issue we have Dennis and his family teaming up with Wolverine and Ka-Zar in the savage land in an attempt to find a resurrection lily. This is Dennis’ miracle chance, but of course not everything in the world of Dennis Sykes is so easy. In the end, Dennis gives us some sound advice on true happiness even when staring death in the face.

This issue really lets the pain of Dennis’ family sink in. Abbey and Kelly begin to understand why Dennis has been avoiding the family, and Dennis also feels remorse for doing so. It seems like the conclusion will be a real stunner. – Andrew

Verdict: Great


Skullkickers #1

Impressions: Apparently there has been some hype behind this title. I must have missed it, because the only reason I picked it up was because it’s a #1 issue and I would like to get in on the ground floor of a possibly great series for once. My lack of being aware of the hype has hopefully given me a little bit of a neutral edge, as it’s hard to be disappointed by something you weren’t all that excited about to begin with.

What is Skullkickers? It’s a cartoony and colorful fantasy comic about two mercenaries. One is a hot-headed dwarf, and the other is a cool and collected brute. The two characters seem to play off each other well, but there’s a bit too much going on in this first issue to really tell.

The issue leads off with a fight with a fat werewolf, and then enters a conflict between the mercenaries and a member of the local government, then a fight with a mysterious assassin, which leads to a conflict between the local government and the outside government (a kingship? I don’t know), and then finally our hero mercenaries are brought in to help solve the mystery and resolve this conflict. That’s a lot for a first issue.

I am certainly interested to see where this series goes. For what it’s worth it is a fun fantasy title. But this first impression gives the reader a lot of action with little substance. It’s hard to find a reason to really care about the action at this point. – Andrew

Verdict: Okay

One Response to “Operation: CO-M.A.C.Z. #5 – Batman: Streets of Gotham, FUBAR, 1 Month 2 Live, & Skullkickers”

  1. Zach Patterson Says:

    FUBAR looks like a lot of fun. I may have to check it out. Skullkickers didnt impress me at all aside from the nice coloring and the sweet Hulk variant homage cover. 1M2L 4 came across as a bit heavy handed and a bit predictable, but I’ve enjoyed it so far nonetheless. The covers are truly beautiful too.

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