From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.108: More Fun Than Bazooka-Joe’s Eyepatch!
Aloha readers, and welcome back to another edition of From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, your column for all-age comics goodness! We have a handful to look at this week, but before we get down to it you may also want to check out our interview with Matt Dembicki who created Xoc: The Journey of a Great White, from Oni Press, which featured a few weeks back in our column, click here! Now let’s get down to it:
Just in time for the Olympics finishing up this week, we have some Olympic-themed comics with the 10th volume of everyone’s favorite, non-Disney mouse, Geronimo Stilton, from Papercutz.
In volume 10, it’s a typical day as Geronimo and friends are working out when they get a call from the Professor, about those Pirate Cats causing trouble again. Turns out this time they have traveled back in time to the very first Olympics, and are attempting to throw it off and change history. Geronimo and the crew, joined by athletic-trainer mouse Bruce, who happened to be around when the call came in, jump back in time to Athens, 1896! The mice face off against the cats (disguised as mice, as per usual) in a series of Olympic sports to keep history intact, until the baddies can be revealed.
The latest volume of Geronimo Stilton is fun, although the plot by this point is starting to feel a bit tiresome and repetitive. Of course that is the basic premise of these books: one part Geronimo and one part Pirate-Cats. The real fun comes in with the time periods/places they visit, more than fresh twists every graphic novel. That said, certainly if you are a fan of the Geronimo Stilton series, or are on an Olympic buzz, you’ll enjoy this. The writing fits the Stilton-template just fine, mixing in some great facts about the Olympics for readers to learn. Art wise there is some very polished cartoon style stuff going on in these pages, Salfo doing a nice job.
Geronimo Stilton Volume 10: Geronimo Stilton Saves The Olympics is available now from Papercutz.
Adventure Time is the best animated series on television currently, and it was only a matter of time before someone figured out Pendleton Ward’s show looks and fits the comic book page just as well. Marceline and the Scream Queens is a six-issue mini-series that follows vampire Marceline, bandmates Keila, Bongo, and Guy, and manager Princess Bubblegum, as they tour in the wacked out world of Adventure Time.
In the main story by Meredith Gran, after a little manager discipline by Princess Bubblegum, the band comes face-to-face with Lord Slicko Vandalstine, the hottest music producer. Before she knows it, Marceline is out to lunch with him, trying not to bite his face, while the band preps. Later at the show, Bubblegum discovers something very funny about Guy, and then we are left with a pretty great cliffhanger-like ending to the tale. In the backup story “Grumpy Butt,” by Faith Erin Hicks, Bubblegum comes up with a solution to help Marceline who always hungers to eat red – to let her robot Kevin paint everything red throughout the day, so Marceline can eat all she wants when she’s not busy with the band. This is all good until Kevin starts listening to their music and is moved to paint more than just red, ending in some very Adventure Time-esque results.
Thus far as a whole, Marceline and the Scream Queens doesn’t capture the near prepubescent-Miyazaki dream like charm that Adventure Time itself does, but as a spin off it still plays like an amped up version of Josie and The Pussy Cats, that is entertaining and still better than a good chunk of books out there. Meredith Gran’s art looks closer to the series, while Faith Erin Hicks’s art has more of an edge of its own. The laughs are here, just not as non-stop as the cartoon. If the cartoon didn’t exist, though, and we had nothing to compare it to, I’d still say that issue #2 is a hip little title with an indie-vibe that will make the grumpiest at least crack a smile.
Four issues in and I can happily report that the Garfield comic book has not jumped the shark yet, and is still one of the most solid all-ages titles published this year, that anyone, of any age, can pick up and enjoy. Even if somehow you have no clue who Garfield is, you can pick this up and enjoy it, and that says a lot for a book featuring an established character.
Issue #4 features two stories. In the first, “Jon of the Jungle,” Jon is stuck on the phone with his boss trying to create the best new comic book ever! Garfield quickly brings to attention what time it is, and Jon rushes off to make him his gigantic feast of food. While Jon’s away, Garfield decides to play around and improve the comic book into something of his own. All seems good until Jon’s boss shows up. In the second story, “The Very Smart Little Girl,” a new girl who is incredibly smart moves into the neighborhood. Garfield attempts to befriend her, because all little girls bake cookies, but quickly finds out she just can’t make friends the right way and is a little socially awkward. Garfield finally gets her to let down her barriers a little bit, to some surprising results that put him on a rocket, and possibly her without her new friend.
The whole issue is great. Once again, Evanier gets an MVP for not just making it sound and feel like Garfield, but also making it fit and work as a comic book that anyone can read. The first story has a real charm echoing back to pulp and newspaper strip heroes, fitting in with the comic book themes that pop up in these issues, making it have more flair for comic book fans. The second tale is just heart warming by the end, and has a nice button to it. Art looks great across the board, and not just character design wise, but layout wise it also scores here.
If you love Garfield, rock this out. If you think Garfield is just about a cat pushing a dog off a table, think again by picking up this book.
Issue #2 of Aesop’s Ark came out digitally this week, and following up on a good first issue is a good second issue which continues with the animals of Noah’s Ark passing the storm together by telling stories.
In issue #2, the humming bird gathers up a group of birds known as the Happily Ever Rafters Storytellers Society, who are made a little uncomfortable by being joined by an owl, which is a bird of prey. Nothing should happen since the animals of the ark have sworn to not harm each other for 40 days and nights, and so nervously the meeting takes place. The story being told is the fable of the crane helping the wolf get a bone from his neck, which doesn’t sit well with everyone at the meeting.
As I mentioned last review, conceptually it doesn’t sound like the most exciting digital comic to read, but what Torres has crafted here along with the really amazing art of Meyer, is a really engrossing little book, whose 12-page issues fly by, leaving us wanting more. Once again, Meyer uses black and white pencils for reality, with the fable itself being in color, giving a cool effect, and all of it looking nice. The different personalities of the animals are fun to see come into play, and Torres even builds the rules and world of the ark a little bit here in this issue.
Aesop’s Ark #2 is available now digitally from Monkeybrain Comics.
Well that’s it for this week, see you next! Until then, get your kaiju-game on!