Tag Archives: John Rozum

Quick shots for week 37: Space fights, money laundering and vampire whacking!

5. The Mighty Thor #4 (Marvel comics)                                                                   8.7
This issue Thor is packing the funny: ‘Aye, Omnipotence has its down side’. And we get to see that rarest of things in all Marvel comics: a glimpse inside the head of Galactus! Buy this issue for great all-out action between Galactus and Silver Surfer on one side and Thor, Odin and nine other Asgarians on the other. This is how a fight of cosmic proportions is executed, there are high stakes (they are fighting over an object that could sate Galactus´ hunger and thus save untold billions of lives throughout the universe), holes in big purple heads and blows that launch opponents through solar systems. And it’s all drawn really pretty by Oliver Coipiel, who went all out on the designs for Asgardian space suits.
6. The Rinse #1 (BOOM Studios)                                                                                      8.6
A crime series about high finance and low-down greed. Think the criminal part of Ed Brubaker’s and Sean Philips’ Criminal, combined with the procedural stuff from television’s The Wire and that makes for one hell of an interesting and original crime comic. We follow a hustler who’s very good at laundering money. In this issue he gets involved in a high stakes operation as well as, quite surprisingly, the law. The art felt a little like Sean Philips lite, which isn’t really a bad thing. The story was very good. Can’t wait to learn where this is going.
7. Batwing #1 (DC comics)                                                                                                 8.5
I think this is the second issue with Ben Oliver art I’ve ever seen, and I’m pretty sure I have become of fan of this guy. I picked this up because this spins out of Batman Inc., which I have loved thus far. This first issue, written by Judd Winnick, really is surprisingly good. We follow this guy that has gotten Batman Inc. support in an African country. He works for the police in his day job, which provides him with opportunities to tie his day and night work together. And that’s just what happens in this issue as he stumbles upon the work of one Massacre. Massacre seemingly likes to decapitate and dismember people and build structures with different body parts (hey, to each their own…). So, be warned this is pretty nasty, graphic, bloody stuff.
8. OMAC #1 (DC comics)                                                                                                       8.2
Read this because of all the buzz it got on the Eleven O´Clock Comics podcast, and while I get the cause of the enthusiasm, I just don’t share it. That may be because I’m not such a big Kirby fan as they are, or because I’ve never read any OMAC prior to this. Basically, this introduces OMAC as a kind of mind controlled super strong robot/cyborg Mohawk Smurf, that breaks into the Cadmus laboratory to hack into the mainframe. In doing so he reconnects his ‘master’ with the Cadmus database. It’s a fine comic, especially the art is very strong. Keith Giffen, channels Jack Kirby, while staying through to his own style and puts more details in his pencils than I think I’ve ever seen him do. This results in great dynamic art and exquisitely detailed backgrounds. What was visually most appealing to me is the coloring by Hi Fi studios. The dialogue was okay, but the flow of the story and especially the action was great. It’s just not really my cup of tea. I will pick up the second issue, but I´m still on the fence about continuing after that.
9. The Mighty Thor #5 (Marvel comics)                                                                       8
What happened this issue??? Well, things get VERY epic as Odin and Galactus knock each other out. Galactus got on his feet again, Odin didn’t. Then there’s also Volstag who’s preparing for war with the citizens of Broxton, Oklahoma. And Thor is jealous that Sif is riding on the Silver Surfer’s board… The art was a little worse for wear and Oliver Coipiel (maybe my favorite current artist) got an art assist from Khoi Pham, who is a great artist in his own right and can change his style well enough to match Coipiel, but it’s just not as good as Coipiel firing on all cylinders.
10. Sanguis #0 (DROP comics)                                                                                        7.7
Wow. That was good, that was very good. This short prequel flows like a motherfucker, has some strong Humberto Ramos inspired art, exquisite, rough and moody colors as well as strong, confident inks. This sets up the story for what we can expect in the following issues, a priest with a magical medallion, a hot chick vampire hunter, vampires (of course) and balls-to-the-wall action! I was bummed that the rest of the series will play out in current times and not in the ‘40’s, like this issue. A minor critique is that the inks on the last story page stood out a bit compared to the rest of the issue. That doesn’t spoil the book though, I’m excited to read on and curious as to what I’ll find in future issues.
11. Sanguis #1 (DROP comics)                                                                                          7.7
This again was very good. You get the feeling it’s written in English by a non-native, (which it is of course) however this does not take away from the experience, or the story (which is very intriguing) and makes me very curious for next issue, which is written in Dutch. In this issue we follow Father Fred as he heads out to Switzerland to fulfill the dying wish of his friend bishop Van der Steen. Here he meets the Frauenknecht family who is secretly tasked with the protection of the ‘best guarded secret inside and outside the church.’ A secret that goes back hundreds of years and currently hangs around the neck of the attractive young Frauenknecht daughter, Eve. What this issue lacks in action (especially compared to last issue), it makes up for in flow and smart story telling techniques. The art takes a weird turn this issue, it’s just as good as last issue (though again it looks like the inking is a tad inconsistent here and there with varying line thicknesses), but is different stylistically. While last issue it reminded me of Humberto Ramos topped off with some beautifully rough inks and colors, this issue the colors had a bit of a less rough texture. The pencils however, are still reminiscent of Ramos. Nevertheless, I get a stronger Tony Moore-vibe, with a bit of a Declan Shalvey edge to it… What makes this issue particularly strong though is the acting of father Fred. The grief over the loss of his friend, as well as the amazement of heading out to Switzerland for who-knows-what, are written very clearly all over his face.
12. Sanguis #2 (DROP comics)                                                                                         7.6
I loved the backmatter explaining a little about the artistic process of Dimitri Jansma. I really like to see artist evolve (or just change it up a bit), and that’s just what you get when you read Sanguis. Visually, every issue subtly distinguishes itself from its predecessor. Though I personally enjoyed the styles of the first two issue better (this issue showcased some adventurous color choices in certain panels), this looks top notch too. I especially liked the big splash page of people outside of a silhouetted house. It looks very peaceful, which I guess is exactly what it’s supposed to convey. In this issue writer Gert-Jan van Oosten continues to show his skills as a storyteller. Sanguis #2 flows really good, and in only two and a half issues Van Oosten has created a richly detailed world, which I really want to know more about. In this issue main character Fred Siebelink meets two centuries old, Sanguis warriors (aka holy vampire and werewolf hunters). Just as they’re starting to get acquainted, all hell breaks loose as they are attacked by a coalition of (weirdly familiar) werewolves and vampires. Enter one kick-ass action scene. My only nitpick of this series is that I want to know more about the Sanguis and the world they live in, I understand the need to keep some things a mystery. But I think that when we learn a bit more, readers will be vested in this world more strongly. Understandably, that might not be possible in the format they have for Sanguis. But maybe a future issue could have a prose peace, offering some sweet revelations or something. Come on DROP comics, the people demand more Sanguis!
13. Herc #6.1 (Marvel comics)                                                                                          7.5
Good jumping-on point and cute story about Hermes being ordered by Zeus to find the depowered, former god Hercules who has pillaged the legendary weapons cache of Ares, to continue his journey as a superhero. Fun issue, but that’s a given with Fred van Lente and Greg Pak writing Herc. Not so keen on the Mike Grell art though…
14. The Living Corpse. Exhumed #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)                   7
I bought this because of the super sexy (though really misogynist) cover. Sadly, (well, maybe not) things didn’t get so steamy (rapey) on the inside of the book. The art looked fine, though I was inked a bit too stiff if you ask me. Story-wise it was a fun, action packed issue of The Living Corpse fighting vampires. Also, a good cliffhanger revealing the villain of this book.
15. Static Shock #1 (DC comics)                                                                                     6.2
After having read (and loved) John Rozum’s latest volume of Xombi, I had high expectations for this series. Sadly they weren’t met. They didn’t even come close. The first half felt like a bad nineties comic (everything, from character designs, to buildings, looks like nineties Spider-man). Early on this issue is nothing but horrible dialogues, combined with mediocre art. In the end the quality picks up a little but not enough for me to stay interested. This issue sees Static working as an intern at Star Labs, having moved to New York. Unbeknownst to him, he becomes involved in an incomprehensible criminal plot, which ultimately (SPOILERS) seems to cost him an arm. Hence the name of the next chapter: ‘Disarmed’. (Really??? DC doesn’t think that’s a little on the nose?) I will be back, but only to see how they handle this mutilation…

I guess I’ll be lowering the number of books I’ll be reading the following weeks as I’m busy with both work and internship as well as having just cracked open the original book version of Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.

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Book of the week 34: Xombi #6

This week was a bit of a downer as far as comics are concerned to me. I tore into some Avatar books (Caligula, Crossed. Psychopath) and decided they weren’t really what I had hoped them to be. The same rings true for X-men Legacy and the Infinite by Kirkman and Liefeld. However, this week’s comics provided gems like the Ultimates, Mystery Men and Xombi.

1. Xombi #6 (DC comics)


I really hate it when I repeat my picks, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Xombi, from DC, really is one of the most entertaining and well made comics that I currently know of. It was only two weeks ago that I raved about the penultimate issue five and this week’s issue delivers just as much.

Since I concentrated mostly on the art in my review of the last issue, I’ll dig into the story and the writing this time. I can be sweet and short about the art though, it’s marvelous, take a look at the digitally painted sweetness of Frazer Irving in the pictures here, or take a gander at my review of last issue for the proof.

This series has been written by John Rozum, the original co-creator of Xombi, back in 1994. Xombi is a Korean-American superhero, created for Milestone media, the DC publishing imprint from back in the nineties. The first Xombi series reached 21 issues, and was part of the shared continuity of the Millstone– or Dakotaverse (Milestone heroes didn’t live in New York, but refreshingly in the Midwestern Dakota). Last year, through the Milestone Forever event, most of the Milestone heroes have been merged into the main DC continuity.

Xombi is a young guy, named David Kim, who used to work on a nanotechnological virus. Because of the nefarious interventions of one Dr. Sugarman, David was critically injured. When his assistant injects him with the virus to save his life, the virus does repair the damage done by Dr. Sugarman. However, it uses said assistant as fuel for the reparation process; the nanites devour her. This is the price that David Kim must pay for becoming a Xombi, a potentially immortal, technologically enhanced human being who keeps running into the supernatural. His superpower is basically twofold: he can repair himself from both physical harm as well as the effects of aging; he can mechanically alter the molecular configuration of everything he touches (for example making popcorn from paper, or a key from a coin).

The first issue of the current series starts out with David getting a call from his ally Julian Parker that he is needed in Dakota where it seems a very bad guy has escaped from a miniature prison, leaving a miniature bloody mess. When he arrives on the scene, he is met by a group of Catholic super-heroines: Nun of the Above, Nun the Less and Catholic Girl. Their investigation leads them to one Annie Porter having a discussion with Roland Finch, it appears that Annie was coaxed by Finch into breaking out a certain prisoner from the miniature prison. It turns out the prisoner is the vessel of Maranatha, the personification of God’s wrath, which Finch had intended for himself. Issues two and three depict a great fight with this being, which of course the good guys win. Afterwards Annie explains to our heroes, which are joined by the afore mentioned Julian Parker and Rabbi Sinnowitz, that Finch has stolen a chart, mapping out the positions of a number of mysterious and wonderful flying cities, which he intends to conquer. Annie originally came from one of those cities, the Skull Fortress, which has been taken over by the evil Roland Finch. Since his take-over, she has spent life as an exile, down on earth, doing everything she can to get the chart back. The last half of this series deals with the heroes planning and attacking the Skull Fortress.

Throughout this whole series John Rozum introduces a great many crazy, big ideas, issue six is no exception, with enemies like the Sisterhood of the Blood Mummies, who wear cloaks woven from spider silk, by spiders which crawl all over these cloaks making any necessary repairs and feeding on the mosquitoes drawn to the sisters, as well as the Dental Phantoms, who communicate through tickertape coming out of their mouths. This issue of course follows the culmination of the battle for the Skull Fortress and let’s just say that when all seems lost its wisdom that prevails. However, it´s not just action and wacky concepts. Rozum´s story shines in the parts with character development and especially when he explores the different ways that Annie and David handle their immortality and the loss of those around them who are (mere?) mortals.

John Rozum’s website does seem to imply that there may be more Xombi coming out in the future, but that could just be me reading into things. In the meantime, we’ll just have to make do with his new Staticshock series, which is one of DC’s new 52 series… Also, this volume of Xombi will make for a beautiful collected edition. If you want to get it and want to support the creators a bit more, buy it at Amazon through John Rozum’s website.
Art:9   Writing:9.5     Overall:9.3

Book of the week 32: Xombi #5 (DC comics)

An okay week this time, a perfect number of books, not many from this week, but most of them scored pretty high on my own personal enjoyment scale. Scores averaged to 8.1 on 14 titles. I rounded it all of this weekend with the third story arc from Image comics’ Chew. Which provided some most excellent Sunday afternoon reading material. While writing the reviews tonight I stumbled upon the great little video’s from reviewtopia.net, called A Comic Minute. This totally made my day, go check it out: It’s one minute staccato summaries/reviews with the art from the books in one minute or less!

1. Xombi #5 (DC comics)

Cover art from Xombie #5, by Frazier Irving, published by DC comics.

Cover art from Xombi #5, by Frazer Irving, published by DC comics.

Xombi, to me is the surprise hit out of DC this year. I’ve been a devotee of Frazer Irving’s since his run on the Inhumans (the Silent War miniseries) at Marvel. Thinking back at that now it seemed a crude way of painting comics, more akin to Daniel Acuna then say JH Williams III. The selling feature mainly being that the art was painted, not necessarily how or why it was painted. But with Xombi he has stepped up his game big time. From the first issue onward, it was clear that Irving chose a bold color pallet, with which he would play around in different scenes and shots. This issue, it finally hit me however, that it’s not just the colors or his Dali-esque surrealism, but even more it’s the way he handles lighting that makes my jaw hit the floor approximately once every two pages. Wheter it’s in mundane situations like an apartment with the television being the main light source, or in a magical environment like the flying platforms; Irving understands light sources and the way their light breaks or hits objects, like no other artist I know of.
Opening page from Xombie #5, with art by Frazier Irving, published by DC comics.

Opening page from Xombi #5, with art by Frazer Irving, published by DC comics.

Last issue, I felt, dragged its tail a little, because it was mostly characters talking to explain the back-story of the flying platforms, the Skull Fortress and newcomer Annie. It looked good, was well written and still very entertaining, but I just missed the all-out, wacky action, and that’s what this issue delivers as David Kim (aka Xombi) and his rag tag reli crew prepare to invade the Skull Fortress and fight this series’ adversary Roland Finch. Most of the issue deals with preparing for battle, while only the last three pages depict the beginning of the battle. Yet, still this issue delivers on all fronts. It has the characters strolling through the flying stronghold and admiring its majestic views; getting into fights with each other; talking strategy; battling; and taking some relationship advice. This issue invested much in humanizing the characters, especially Annie and David. Annie is guilt-ridden about her part in Finch’s rise to power and worried about what her time as an exile from the flying strongholds (where time comes to a stop) has done with her life, while David is preoccupied with the fact that he has never told his fiancé about his powers and his superhero lifestyle. When both of these characters get into a discussion with their own problems on their minds, things go BOOM! Writer John Rozum writes wonderfully realistic and relatable dialogues between two characters that are drawn to each other, but too different from each other to make a worthwhile connection. That is one aspect of the story I had not foreseen when I opened this issue. Great human writing, in between of all the over-the-top, whacky, super heroics, make the stakes feel much higher.

A gorgeous page by Frazier Irving, from Xombie #5, published by DC comics.

A gorgeous page by Frazer Irving, from Xombi #5, published by DC comics.

I really have nothing but praise for this issue and this series as a whole. Before I started this volume, I’d never read a Xombi comic (or any Milestone publication for that matter), but that did not cause any problems to my enjoyment of this book. I really can’t recommend it high enough! I was innitially worried that Xombi would disappear after the DC reboot next month, but I just found out that a new series will start in February. (Damn, that was a year old, I don’t think there are plans in the work for more Xombi…) If you’re still not sure about it, please take a look at this Comic Minute from the first issue:
[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/hPFugrfvcAI.html width=”480″ height=”385″]
Art: 9.5 Writing: 9,5       Overall: 9.5