Featured Columns

February 17, 2012

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Transformers: Autocracy, Ernest & Rebecca, and Princeless!

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.85: Even If Wang Chung Is Absent, Everybody Still Have Fun Tonight

From time to time, as I have mentioned before in this column, you hit a good run where you enjoy the lot of stuff that comes across your computer or is mailed to you.  Now, yes, I try to avoid things I dislike and only write about things I can dig or see someone else loving, making this column fairly positive with a bad review only occasionally popping up here or there. This week, though, was a week where the stuff wasn’t just good, but I actually enjoyed it all and it was great! So let’s get down to these wonderful titles this week!


Transformers: Autocracy issues#1-3
Publisher: IDW
Writer: Chris Metzen and Flint Dille
Art: Livio Ramondelli

This series is an awesome and wonderful digital Autobots roll out! For those who haven’t heard, IDW is taking a chance and releasing the mini-series Transformers: Autocracy digital only, the 12 parts being released at the rate of one part every two weeks for a buck each. I’m sure after it’s completed there will be a physical copy, but for those who don’t want to chance waiting until the end of June for that and have accepted digital comics is the way of the future and eventually the only way the industry will probably survive, hop online and start reading this fantastic series.

Transformers: Autocracy tells of a story millions of years ago on Cybertron, as the Decepticons begin to rise up against the Autobot leadership. To counter this, the government has unleashed a counter-terror strike team lead by Orion Pax, with other members such as Bumblebee on it as well. As the story rolls out we see how the Decepticons have begun to easily strike at the ruling body, because for many cities on Cybertron, they are not the problem, the weak ruling government of the Autobots is the problem, and many robots are living in pretty poor conditions.

This cool story is everything fans want. The devil’s advocate picture of maybe the Autobots weren’t always great rulers makes sense, is a cool twist, and reflects some real world situations we hear about/deal with everyday in our own lives as readers. The writing is fantastic, with favorites from Orion Pax to Starscream filling the pages. The best part is the art by Livio Ramondelli. It’s just amazing, his renderings of Cybertron and the world the Transformers live in is eye candy with each page swipe you jump to. It’s a book you’ll re-read for the art alone.

Transformers: Autocracy is available now, with new issues being released every two weeks, digital only.


Ernest & Rebecca Vol.1
Publisher: Papercutz
Writer: Guillaume Bianco
Art: Antonello Dalena

Ernest & Rebecca is a great book. That’s easy to say, that’s easy to write down for you to read, but it’s not an easy task to pull off for children’s comics all the time these days.

The comic tells the story of Rebecca, a young girl who is going through life around her the best she can. She catches a super-microbe, who lives in her body and the doctors can’t seem to get rid of, who turns out to be quite friendly, which she names Ernest. Ernest has the ability to transform his shape into all sorts of things that border on the imagination to Rebecca’s amusement. This comes in handy, because in the everyday world her parents are fighting and decide to separate. Needless to say, Rebecca is not thrilled with this, and Ernest helps her see the brighter side of things.

Ernest & Rebecca is Calvin and Hobbes for today’s generation of kids. The gags are set up similarly, and the punch lines have similar results, to this reader’s delight. Rebecca’s escape from the real world and her parents’ growing separation is the manifestation of Ernest in front of her and the little adventures that ensue. The topic of divorce is handled with care, and the whole story by Bianco is built with heart. Children reading will have fun with Ernest and love this wacky germ come to life, as well as perhaps have a mirror if their own parents are going through a divorce. Adults reading will find plenty “out of the mouth of babes” moments and enjoy the comic, as well. The art by Dalena is just stunning. It flows like a comic strip but its detail and colors elevate it a little bit further.

Ernest & Rebecca is a great example of what we need out of more kids’ comics these days, definitely worth the pick up and read.


Princeless #4
Publisher: Action Lab
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Art: M. Goodwin

The latest issue of Action Lab’s Princeless, which just hit stands, provides a nice wrap up to the mini-series and leaves us wanting more.

Issue #4 spins the tale with our princess and the daughter of the local black smith squaring off against the two bumbling soldiers, who were out searching for her. A great fight ‘n chase sequence occurs, and it’s topped off with our heroes taking off on Sparky to save her sister, leaving us at an awesome cliffhanger.

Goodwin has done good with the art on this title. The new battle armor for Adrienne is awesome, the giant hammer Bedelia uses look way cool, and everything just looks and feels visually exciting. The fight scenes are great, and it was cool seeing these females kick butt, and not in some crazy-sexualized way like a lot of titles; it was just crisp and fun action. On the writing side, Whitley does great, too, providing us with a great mix of humor and action. The combination of the two gives us an excellently paced and much enjoyed comic that is a great time for readers of all ages. As I mentioned, with it being nice to see the female action scenes not be sexualized, Princeless in general is a great example of a comic that does things in a more non-traditional way and does them well. I mentioned in a previous review that I thought it was cool the main character is an African American princess and it’s not used as a gimmick, like Disney did recently. Also, issue #3 had a hysterical moment where they picked on how ridiculous warrior women costumes can be at times. The team on this title does it differently, but maybe more importantly, they do it cleverly, always enjoying their references and never becoming the victim of “purposely being opposite.” It is just a part of their story and they rock out with it.

If you can pick up the four issues of this mini-series, I recommend you do. If you’re having trouble tracking them down, never fear, they will be collected in a trade edition that will be released in April, and you can find it in the February issue of Previews. I can’t wait to read the further adventures of Princeless, hopefully sooner than later.


That’s it for this week, see you next, and remember, get your kaiju game on!

Drew McCabe


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