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REVIEW: Deadbox #2

Deadbox #2

Mark Russell is one of the most important satirists working in fiction today and Deadbox continues to be proof of this. In Deadbox #2, Russell takes on the idea of the American Dream and how it manifests itself in small town settings, the places where Americans go to keep their national myths alive. Also, monkeys are learning how to behave around bananas in this chapter’s Deadbox movie, titled “Can I Have a Banana Now?”

Deadbox #2 follows a man and wife that visit a fair filled with that very conservative Southern charm, Confederate flags waving and such. The man comes across a cheap pair of purplish/pale pink pants that he says look like the ones he used to wear in college. He buys them, puts them on, and is immediately labeled as queer, much to the horror of the Southern man. Cue the public outrage, the shunning, and the Christian judgement stares.

As is the case with the first issue, the movie that accompanies the main story reflects on the problems faced by its characters. This one’s about how monkeys take to punishment and rewards to better control the simian population. You can piece together rest yourself. It’s an amazingly rewarding process.

Keeping with the anthology format is paying off for the book, allowing it to wade into deeper waters with different characters while also making sure the story feels interconnected, if only by a panel or two showing an already established character from before. The movies are the connecting agents that bind everyone together.

Deadbox #2

The script’s genius comes in how it addresses preconceived notions of what’s acceptable and American and what isn’t through comically frightening situations that put readers in places they are painfully familiar with. It’s exaggerated and even ridiculous, but never that far from reality.

Benjamin Tiesma’s art continues to hold its part of the storytelling quite well. The character work in particular shines as Tiesma prefers to portray people with just the right amount of caricature to keep them from being mere punchlines. They feel like real people despite the funnier aspects of their looks and they all radiate a humorous energy that’s both impossible to look away from but also hard to watch.

I could go on and on about Deadbox and how it gets progressively funnier the scarier it gets, but the beauty’s in the discovery, in decoding the satire. Bottom line is, you need to read this book. Comics shelves become smarter when it’s on display.

Story: Mark Russell Art: Benjamin Tiesma Colors: Vladimir Popov
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10
Recommendation: Buy, read, and laugh all the way through to keep from screaming incessantly.

Vault Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Deadbox #1

Deadbox #1

We are the stories we tell ourselves, no matter how stupid they are. This is but one of the sentiments that orbit the satire at the heart of Vault’s latest comic book series, Deadbox. Accompanying that brutally accurate idea is the thought these stories we collectively decide to support can also be cursed. Author Mark Russell and illustrator Benjamin Tiesma tap into the core stupidities of our national narrative, both foundational and current, and come up with a story that’s as funny as it is worrying.

Deadbox follows a woman called Penny who owns a convenience store in a dead-end town called Lost Turkey, a town that also worships freedom as if it were its own god. The town and its people poke fun at Libertarian ideals and conservative thought to create an environment that’s contradictory in every social facet of life. Lost Turkey’s only source of entertainment, as the book says, is a DVD machine that looks like one of those Redbox vending machines where people could rent movies and video games from.

Problem is, the movies in the machine are haunted. Some can only be found in that Lost Turkey’s rental machine and nowhere else. Russell and Tiesma hang on to this detail to create a kind of ‘story within a story’ dynamic where the movie becomes a reflection of the things that are happening in the town, or that are happening to it.

Russell has built quiet a body of work on his own brand of satire. His stories are aware of the commentary he’s putting forth, subtlety be damned in some cases. It makes his comics come off as meta a lot of the times and he’s largely successful at it. Deadbox is another notch on that belt in this regard.

As the story develops, we learn that Penny’s dad is seriously ill and that her choice to rent a movie from the machine will foretell some of the things that ail and will end up ailing the character. This is where Russell’s skill with creating parables and metaphors shines, turning the movie’s sci-fi story of humanity making first contact with an alien civilization into a contemplation on a people’s dreams of progress, what old age means, and how entitled we can come off as while settling in new places.

Lost Turkey itself is a combination of elements that make it a kind of conservative utopia guided by contradictions that celebrate unfettered freedoms regardless of consequence. Gun lovers, safety-defying bikers, and small town political leaders with delusions of grandeur populate this place and each one offers a chance to think about the backwardness of our political culture.

Deadbox #1

Tiesma’s art makes sure the script’s satire never skips a beat by leaning into caricature in his portrayal of the townspeople and the characters that appear in the story’s movie segments. Body language and panel transitions are imbued with a theatrical flair that rewards careful observation and close reading. The humor’s in the details in this one and Tiasma capitalizes on every chance he gets to dial it up.

Deadbox is an incredibly smart comic that finds a lot to be scared of in stupidity, but also a lot to laugh at. The first issue of the series stands on the strength of its sharp wit and its visual comedy. There’s a lot of stupid in the world right now and Deadbox is here to make fun of it.

Story: Mark Russell Art: Benjamin Tiesma,
Colors: Vladimir Popov, Letterer: Andworld Design
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Read and try not to do stupid things.

Vault provided Graphic Policy with a free copy of the comic for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Earl Review: Deadbox #1

Deadbox #1

We are the stories we tell ourselves, no matter how stupid they are. This is but one of the sentiments that orbit the satire at the heart of Vault’s latest comic book series, Deadbox. Accompanying that brutally accurate idea is the thought these stories we collectively decide to support can also be cursed. Author Mark Russell and illustrator Benjamin Tiesma tap into the core stupidities of our national narrative, both foundational and current, and come up with a story that’s as funny as it is worrying.

Deadbox follows a woman called Penny who owns a convenience store in a dead-end town called Lost Turkey, a town that also worships freedom as if it were its own god. The town and its people poke fun at Libertarian ideals and conservative thought to create an environment that’s contradictory in every social facet of life. Lost Turkey’s only source of entertainment, as the book says, is a DVD machine that looks like one of those Redbox vending machines where people could rent movies and video games from.

Problem is, the movies in the machine are haunted. Some can only be found in that Lost Turkey’s rental machine and nowhere else. Russell and Tiesma hang on to this detail to create a kind of ‘story within a story’ dynamic where the movie becomes a reflection of the things that are happening in the town, or that are happening to it.

Russell has built quiet a body of work on his own brand of satire. His stories are aware of the commentary he’s putting forth, subtlety be damned in some cases. It makes his comics come off as meta a lot of the times and he’s largely successful at it. Deadbox is another notch on that belt in this regard.

As the story develops, we learn that Penny’s dad is seriously ill and that her choice to rent a movie from the machine will foretell some of the things that ail and will end up ailing the character. This is where Russell’s skill with creating parables and metaphors shines, turning the movie’s sci-fi story of humanity making first contact with an alien civilization into a contemplation on a people’s dreams of progress, what old age means, and how entitled we can come off as while settling in new places.

Lost Turkey itself is a combination of elements that make it a kind of conservative utopia guided by contradictions that celebrate unfettered freedoms regardless of consequence. Gun lovers, safety-defying bikers, and small town political leaders with delusions of grandeur populate this place and each one offers a chance to think about the backwardness of our political culture.

Deadbox #1

Tiesma’s art makes sure the script’s satire never skips a beat by leaning into caricature in his portrayal of the townspeople and the characters that appear in the story’s movie segments. Body language and panel transitions are imbued with a theatrical flair that rewards careful observation and close reading. The humor’s in the details in this one and Tiasma capitalizes on every chance he gets to dial it up.

Deadbox is an incredibly smart comic that finds a lot to be scared of in stupidity, but also a lot to laugh at. The first issue of the series stands on the strength of its sharp wit and its visual comedy. There’s a lot of stupid in the world right now and Deadbox is here to make fun of it.

Story: Mark Russell Art: Benjamin Tiesma,
Colors: Vladimir Popov, Letterer: Andworld Design
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Read and try not to do stupid things.

Vault provided Graphic Policy with a free copy of the comic for review


Pre-Order: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: Not All Robots #1

Not All Robots #1

The robot takeover doomsday scenario, where humanity gets replaced by the machines they created, has been the basis for many a sci-fi story, but the aftermath is rarely given time to shine. Just what is life under robotic law and what does the new day-to-day look like after humanity’s gone extinct? Say Ultron finally gets one over the Avengers, what’s next? Aren’t robots near-perfect beings with infinite knowledge? Museums and libraries would become obsolete as robots store everything in their memory and can access it at a moment’s notice, not to mention grocery stores and bars. Well, maybe not bars.

Mark Russell (Prez, Billionaire Island) and Mike Deodato’s new AWA Studios comic, Not All Robots, offers readers an answer: the robots will eventually become more like us. Once you get to the top of the food chain, it’s possible that the only way forward is to downgrade. That is, unless they’re content with being static automatons surfing their own databases without a need to move around or physically engage with anyone.

Not All Robots is another great Mark Russell satire on the ridiculousness of existence and the things we do with our existential dilemmas. Humanity, what’s left of it, is very quickly becoming obsolete as worker robots have become the sole providers of living families by completely taking over the workforce. Humans are quite simply redundant at this point and robots are catching on to the fact of how superfluous they’ve become. There’s even a talk show within the story called Talkin’ Bot that puts everything into perspective and I am one-hundred percent certain this show will actually exist a few years from now.

The comic centers on a house bot called Razorball. He’s the main provider for the Walters, the family that owns him. Razorball has become a disenchanted worker, cynical at every turn. He complains about life, the monotony of it, and his disdain for all the unnecessary things he has to do at work.

Deodato (Marvel’s Original Sin, The Resistance) illustrates Razorball as a somewhat outdated and clunky machine, in need of an update or to be updated by a newer model. That’s where the Mandroids come in, robots that can easily be confused with humans given the quality of their build. In other words, the future.

Not All Robots #1
Not All Robots #1

It’s hard not to confuse Razorball with the average Joe, an unhappy guy that hates his life and his job and feels unappreciated by society. Russell’s genius, though, comes in how he takes that archetype and injects classic Asimov-like science fiction ideas into the story to not let the metaphor consume the narrative entirely. The associations are easy to make between Razorball and his human counterparts, but there’s a real sci-fi heart beating at the center of it.

Deodato crafts a universe’s worth of worldbuilding into the story with futuristic vistas and designs that firmly place the story within the realm of plausibility. It keeps the characters grounded and the story human. Deodato’s panel layouts and overall page structure—which has evolved throughout his career and stands as one of his signature skills as an artist—keeps things busy too, as if the new standard of life is governed by on-going activity carried by the never-ending stamina of a well-oiled machine.

Russell, on the other hand, isn’t just content with making fun of humans through worker robots. The idea that machines have forced people into a sedentary lifestyle echoes current debates on how technology is eliminating jobs people used to do by hand and got paid for. The robots act as living cautionary glimpses into what our reality could turn into if progress is allowed to continue pushing forward unfettered. Also how disenchanted robots will get once they realize how mundane human existence actually was.

Not All Robots is a funny, scary, and plausible take on humanity’s self-authored descent into obsolescence. Readers will laugh hard the entire way through, but they’ll also have no choice but to think about the consequences of our exponential growth into a machine-dominated world. The kicker, though, is that regardless of how advanced these robots turn out to be, they might not have a choice but to become a bit human to find some meaning in the new status quo.

Story: Mark Russell, Art: Mike Deodato
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy and maybe consider throwing your iPhone into the ocean

AWA Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Advance Review: Not All Robots #1

Not All Robots #1

The robot takeover doomsday scenario, where humanity gets replaced by the machines they created, has been the basis for many a sci-fi story, but the aftermath is rarely given time to shine. Just what is life under robotic law and what does the new day-to-day look like after humanity’s gone extinct? Say Ultron finally gets one over the Avengers, what’s next? Aren’t robots near-perfect beings with infinite knowledge? Museums and libraries would become obsolete as robots store everything in their memory and can access it at a moment’s notice, not to mention grocery stores and bars. Well, maybe not bars.

Mark Russell (Prez, Billionaire Island) and Mike Deodato’s new AWA Studios comic, Not All Robots, offers readers an answer: the robots will eventually become more like us. Once you get to the top of the food chain, it’s possible that the only way forward is to downgrade. That is, unless they’re content with being static automatons surfing their own databases without a need to move around or physically engage with anyone.

Not All Robots is another great Mark Russell satire on the ridiculousness of existence and the things we do with our existential dilemmas. Humanity, what’s left of it, is very quickly becoming obsolete as worker robots have become the sole providers of living families by completely taking over the workforce. Humans are quite simply redundant at this point and robots are catching on to the fact of how superfluous they’ve become. There’s even a talk show within the story called Talkin’ Bot that puts everything into perspective and I am one-hundred percent certain this show will actually exist a few years from now.

The comic centers on a house bot called Razorball. He’s the main provider for the Walters, the family that owns him. Razorball has become a disenchanted worker, cynical at every turn. He complains about life, the monotony of it, and his disdain for all the unnecessary things he has to do at work.

Deodato (Marvel’s Original Sin, The Resistance) illustrates Razorball as a somewhat outdated and clunky machine, in need of an update or to be updated by a newer model. That’s where the Mandroids come in, robots that can easily be confused with humans given the quality of their build. In other words, the future.

Not All Robots #1
Not All Robots #1

It’s hard not to confuse Razorball with the average Joe, an unhappy guy that hates his life and his job and feels unappreciated by society. Russell’s genius, though, comes in how he takes that archetype and injects classic Asimov-like science fiction ideas into the story to not let the metaphor consume the narrative entirely. The associations are easy to make between Razorball and his human counterparts, but there’s a real sci-fi heart beating at the center of it.

Deodato crafts a universe’s worth of worldbuilding into the story with futuristic vistas and designs that firmly place the story within the realm of plausibility. It keeps the characters grounded and the story human. Deodato’s panel layouts and overall page structure—which has evolved throughout his career and stands as one of his signature skills as an artist—keeps things busy too, as if the new standard of life is governed by on-going activity carried by the never-ending stamina of a well-oiled machine.

Russell, on the other hand, isn’t just content with making fun of humans through worker robots. The idea that machines have forced people into a sedentary lifestyle echoes current debates on how technology is eliminating jobs people used to do by hand and got paid for. The robots act as living cautionary glimpses into what our reality could turn into if progress is allowed to continue pushing forward unfettered. Also how disenchanted robots will get once they realize how mundane human existence actually was.

Not All Robots is a funny, scary, and plausible take on humanity’s self-authored descent into obsolescence. Readers will laugh hard the entire way through, but they’ll also have no choice but to think about the consequences of our exponential growth into a machine-dominated world. The kicker, though, is that regardless of how advanced these robots turn out to be, they might not have a choice but to become a bit human to find some meaning in the new status quo.

Story: Mark Russell, Art: Mike Deodato
Publisher: AWA Studios

Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy and maybe consider throwing your iPhone into the ocean

AWA Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Pre-Order: TFAW

Review: Bomb Queen: Trump Card #1

BOMB QUEEN: TRUMP CARD
Bomb Queen: Trump Card Part One, Image

It’s not every day you see a comic book open with a quote from Hannah Arendt, the famous American-German political thinker and author of The Origins of Totalitarianism. That last tidbit of information about Arendt is important to understand the type of satire Jimmie Robinson goes for in Bomb Queen: Trump Card #1. It’s biting and completely uninterested in criticizing anything in a politically correct way. But criticism is the goal and it doesn’t lose sight of it. In a sense, it’s a kind of book we’re seeing less and less of today.

This new limited series follows the titular supervillain, Bomb Queen, as she joins the 2024 presidential campaign against Donald Trump. Taking a page from Nixon in Watchmen, Trump is flirting with the idea of making the presidency a life-long term and that quite simply does not fly with New Port City’s superhero community. Bomb Queen is forcefully recruited by one particular superhero to run against Trump and then, once she’s won, resign to the position so that the superhero that recruited her becomes president instead.

This first issue is quite accessible and easy enough to follow, but there are a ton of callbacks to the previous limited series and one-shots as well (the comic was first published in 2006). Bomb Queen was the leader of New Port City and basically acted as a dictator that was reckless but reliable. No one ever doubted she would continue being a super villain and so people trusted her to be just that all the time.

In other words, Bomb Queen was the Trump of New Port City, a point the comic literally argues in one sequence. The superhero community’s plan is to fight fire with fire and then course correct. It’s basically a look at Totalitarianism and how it works, albeit with a more fast-paced, bloody, and sexed up mindset.

The basis for the satire is clear and quite ‘in your face.’ What transpires is a smart but often crude way of broaching the idea people want to view their leaders as superheroes or super villains, expecting them to act accordingly. It can remind one of Garth Ennis’ The Boys, specifically in terms of how power creates irresponsible God-like beings that want nothing more than to flaunt their abilities publicly, shamelessly, and without restraint.

Bomb Queen: Trump Card #1, Image

What sets Bomb Queen apart from The Boys is that Jimmie Robinson’s satire is more down to Earth. While The Boys looks more closely at the nature of super people and plays around with comic tropes more intently, Bomb Queen takes it down to the streets without room for subtlety (much less than in Ennis’ book and even that one can’t be said to have much regard for it either).

As is the case in earlier Bomb Queen books, this new story features random New Port citizens sounding off on Bomb Queen’s candidacy. Opinions vary among them, with some saying things along the lines of “if Trump can insult people, then why can’t Bomb Queen do so as well?” or “we already have a villain in the White House. What’s wrong with having a super villain instead?”

Bomb Queen: Trump Card #1
Bomb Queen: Trump Card Part One

The exchanges are absurd, fun, rough, but smartly presented and come off as not so far fetched as those found in the real world. In Bomb Queen’s America, satire is the status quo, an inside joke everyone’s in on. That American society has taken such a turn for the ridiculous that we’ve managed to actually put a super villain in the White House is perhaps the bigger point Robinson wants to make here.

And yet, Bomb Queen isn’t for everyone. The character’s barely-there outfit is also part of the satire, but it alludes to other things explored previously in the series. Some may find the design exploitative and out of touch, but it’s not without its purpose. Again, political correctness is not a concern for Robinson, and sometimes it feels as if he actively attempts to get under the reader’s skin. Having said that, an update for the purposes of discourse could’ve made the comic even more accessible.

Robinson seems to like to turn his villainess into a mirror for our own inadequacies and inconsistencies. Expect 90’s era style jokes and visual gags that aren’t looked favorably upon today, but also expect them to be in response to something specific and not just for the sake of gratuity. What lands in Robinson’s crosshairs tends to be worthy of the criticism Bomb Queen provides.

Bomb Queen’s Trump-like behavior in past events makes her an interesting example of villainy to bounce off of. The idea of making a Trump-like villain run against the actual Trump is a fascinating one and merits discussion. Give it a read and if it’s not your thing, that’s okay. If you end up liking it, then you have a lot more satire to look forward to, along with the added sting of pure unpolitical correctness.

Story: Jimmie Robinson Art: Jimmie Robinson
Story: 8 .0Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Read Bomb Queen and then register to vote

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Boom! Studios Attempts to Get Press With Repuglicans

Repuglicans


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The right-wing has been all in a tizzy lately over funny books and that some of them might be a bit political in nature (let’s just skip over history and that comics started as political/societal commentary).  Boom! Studios imprint Boom! Town has announced a new series starting in April, Repuglicans.

From their press release:

Pete Von Sholly and Steve Tatham bring you a completely unfair and not balanced take on Republican Party leaders and apparatchiks. Sarah Palin, John McCain, Glenn Beck and others all unveiled as vampires, freaks, and zombies. These guys put the ‘ugli’ in ‘Repuglicans.’

Repuglicans will render Republican politicians, pundits and other assorted right-wing celebrities in monstrous detail, transforming them into horrors such as vampires, werewolves and zombies.  It’s a mix of political satire with B-movies 1950’s horror movies (which often where political commentary).

I can’t help but think this is an attempt by Boom! Studios to purposely court the right’s rage in hopes of getting some press.  The studio has been on a tear to up their market share and there’s no such thing as bad press.  Maybe this will be a new fad, much like putting President Obama in your comic?

I’m guessing there’ll be a few who don’t see the humor and take this seriously.  Expect the outrage from the right in 3…2…1…

Almost American