Featured Columns

August 12, 2011

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Sergio Aragones, Atlas and Reed Gunther!

Koala’s March cookies are perhaps the best snack food EVER invented. I will fight you and egg your Grandmother’s car if you disagree. They are tasty, each one has an adorable and often humorous image of a Koala bear doing something silly, and they are cheap if you actually find a store that imports them in. I’ve eaten a lot of Japanese snack food from Pocky and so forth, however, Lotte’s Koala’s March cookies rock. At least the ones filled with chocolate creme do. I’m not crazy about the strawberry ones. But what is that you say? This is not a column about delicious confectioneries from the land of the rising sun, you say! You’re right. This is a column we call From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays where we read all-ages comics, tell you what to watch every weekend, and only sometimes tell you about my dirty habit to fill up on foreign junk food in my shopping basket.

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Out On Stands: Sergio Aragones Funnies #1
Publisher: Bongo
Story and Art: Sergio Aragones

In brief: I was laughing so hard, I tried to make this comic book less funny by playing Scala and Kolacny Brothers (that European female choir best known for doing a cover of Radio Head’s “Creep” in the film The Social Network) really, really loud. However, this only ¬†added an ironic quality making things funnier. So no matter what you do, you cannot escape the funny. So what is this? Sergio Aragones, the greatest thing from Mexico next to Santo films and flan, who is a long time artist for MAD Magazine and recently Simpsons Comics, now has his own magazine all to himself packed with funnies! The book is packed with funny gags, all ranging from one page to a few multi-page story funnies. Artists like Akira Toriyama can make you laugh with his autobiographic shorts between chapters in Dr. Slump books, but Sergio (mind if I call you Sergio, Mr. Aragones?) is a master of it, making you pee a little bit with each panel. His story of being in college and working as movie extras is hysterical (maybe funnier to me because I worked as an extra in college as well; you can see me eating chicken wings on the food network and stuff). He also gives us a great tale about the Trojan horse, a fun intro, some puzzles, and great one pagers. Certainly these pages are packed with some kind of hysterical magic that I just can’t explain in normal reviewer-words. All I can say is buy this comic for it could be the funniest gag-mag out now.

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Out On Stands: Atlas
Publisher: Blue Water Comics
Story: Dan Rafter
Art: Erik Thompson and Simon Wright

Atlas, from the team of Rafter, Thompson, and Wright at Blue Water, is a pretty good book. The graphic novel tells the story of former Greek god Atlas, who has taken up the cape business as a superhero on modern day Earth. After busting up Judo-bot, Atlas and his sidekick Wonder Boy put the wanna-be villain Glutton (who’s dressed in a pig suit and all) behind bars. However, Glutton gets the last laugh by twisting the story in a newspaper interview, leading Atlas to rethink some things. After he crosses paths with the half woman-half snake Sandra, Atlas decides to go along with a plot by the wealthy Mr. Royal. Mr. Royal wants to create a dream team of heroes, and so his concept is to control it by breaking Glutton out and staging him with a group of evil robots against Atlas and Sandra in a battle they’ll win. However, when they show up and the robots really do go out of control, the tables are turned on the scheme.

Rafter’s writing is a great strength on this title and is what really makes you not want to put the book down. There are plenty of laughs here, from Glutton’s power to the pop culture references. His first pages narrated from Glutton’s POV are golden comedy, as well as his breaking down of the fourth wall and gags about using flash backs; all great humor which make this a cool action-comedy. He explores the characters just enough without making it overkill, and gives us some nice surprises we don’t expect every so many pages. The art by the team Thompson and Wright is very cartoony, but appropriate in tone and matches the material. Their actions scenes, although a little short, do the job and entertain between the laughs, and personally I think they design robot vegetables like nobody’s business.

If you’re a fan of Superman or Captain Marvel, but want a funnier more cartoon-like version of them, take a peek at this. The jokes may be funnier for adults than kids, but that makes it even better if you’re buying books for your family. Atlas is out now from Blue Water Comics.

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Out On Stands: Reed Gunther #3
Publisher: Image
Story: Shane Houghton
Art: Chris Houghton

So if the past two [issue 1, issue 2] gleaming reviews we gave Reed Gunther, or the interview with its creators Shane and Chris Houghton, haven’t convinced you to read this book yet, maybe here’s something that will: Zombie John Henry. That’s right, he was a steel-driving man and now just a walking dead man, and as Gunther and company are traveling on a train across country, the idol they have with them seems to be bringing monsters to life, including John Henry as a zombie who attacks our heroes. The third issue of Reed Gunther doesn’t slow down on anything we’ve begun to enjoy about the title, and keeps packing away the punches making us want to read more.

The fight on the train is fantastic. It has that old fashion wild west sense, with cowboys battling on top of a running train, but we also get a bear and a zombie thrown in. The humor is still funny, and one of things we’ve come to love about the humor/action/monster balance of this title, keeping the charm of previous issues. The book’s plot also hits some developments for the overall story arc with this issue, as a handful of set-ups are laid out here (no spoilers, so you’re gonna have to buy it and read to find out). As I’ve established in the past two reviews: Art and Writing is grade A.

The third issue of Reed Gunther is on stands, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t pick up one of the best all-ages titles of the years that has something for everyone!

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Well that’s it for this week! See you next! Sending you more kaiju-love from Europe!

Drew McCabe
drew@comicattack.net

 

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