Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs Zombies #1 & #2 ~ Approbation Comics sent me PDFs of these two issues, which are the regular series that the earlier Chaos Campus one-shots reviewed here were a preview of (issue #1 is the 24 pages I got a sneak peak of back then and referred to in the review, if you're wondering). So having read those earlier PDFs, and bought the hard copy issues, and recently ordered the trade paperback compilation of them just for fun, I knew what to expect. Uh-uh, no I didn't. While the one-shots went directly to the meat of the story, with the girls already ace zombie hunters, the regular series takes a more chronological approach, starting just before the initial outbreak and having a blast with college humour and some character-building of our three heroines Jamie, Paige, and Brittany (who, apart from being hilarious and curvaceous the way only kick-ass eye candy zombie-hunting sorority girls can be, actually form the classic character drama triad of heart, mind, and synthesis (or if you want to be geeky - and with the Star Trek movie only a couple of weeks away, I sure do - Paige is sensible like Kirk (only no-one listens to her half the time), Brittany is emotional like McCoy (though about a zillion times hotter), and Jamie is logical like Spock (for a given value of 'logic' - she's borderline insane, but so's the world, so her brand of logic actually works).
As I said before (and they even quoted me in the comic itself, awesome!), it's not just an excuse for screwball horror-comedy and eye candy - well, it is, but they haven't just thrown in tits and violence and called it a day. Structurally speaking, this is a very, very clever story, in terms of how the characters are positioned in the classic triangle and allowed to play off each other - this goes the extra mile that I criticised Broken Girls for not going. Chaos Campus isn't just the same as any other zombie story - you couldn't lift the plot off it and dump it on another group of zombie survivors and not know the difference. Partly it's the heavy use of comedy, but partly it's just that it's cleverer than to simply repeat the same clichés generic stories use. And in comedic terms - again repeating myself, a parody fails the moment it decides it's got enough jokes, and just starts coasting - this doesn't, it keeps delivering. Issue #2 contains the most goddamn hilarious zombie-management tactic I've ever seen - I won't spoil it, but you'll pee yourself laughing. These issues are now available from IndyPlanet (issue #1, issue #2), which features several preview pages of each one - go check 'em out, and if you're a zombie fan (particulary if you like the idea of zombie movies getting the treatment Scream gave slashers, only much funnier), or you just like a good laugh, or (let's be honest) you like hot women in skimpy outfits kicking the hell out of the undead, I highly recommend buying them.
Justice League of America #32 ~ For starters the cover gives away the issue's big reveal, and honestly it kind of goes downhill from there. Dinah's still sitting around in a huff complaining about Superman and Wonder Woman being absent, what's left of the rest of the team sits around bitching at each other about who's in charge, and about Hal Jordan's Justice League (for heaven's sake DC, schedule better, how the hell are we supposed to know how to take this League's opinions without knowing the facts of what's happened?), John Stewart monologues about what a good chairwoman Dinah is/was (which I'd love to believe, but this title hasn't once shown that), and that stupid space vampire shows up to threaten to deatroy the world. You know what, I really need for this team to sit down and define what it is - what its purpose it - and then actually set about achieving it. The Justice Society did that on day one - they're there to train and teach young superheroes - and they've been doing that all along, as well as fighting the battles that come their way. So far as I can tell, the League just mopes around having whiny relationship dramas until something from space tries to blow up the planet, whereupon they punch it until it goes away. It's just not an interesting scenario, and honestly I'm only sticking around because I can't imagine that it'll go on for long - surely all this team-breaking junk has to lead somewhere, right? I hope so, anyway.
Dynamo 5 #21 ~ The team takes a break from saving the world (the city, anyway) so everyone can have some down time and develop their characters - this comic does good superhero action, exciting and a bit tongue-in-cheek to amuse those of us who've seen more super-punch-ups than had hot dinners, but it's the relationship drama that really drives the title. As the cover indicates, Visionary (thanks to Gage's 'help' last issue) finally gets to go on a date with Firebird (one around his age - it's confusing having the both of them with the same hero-name; then again, maybe it's a team name now, like "Power Rangers", although they're still being difficult by not being colour-coded for our convenience), while Bridget meets her would-be match from her foray into internet dating. Meanwhile Maddie investigates some disappearances and gets in trouble, and Tower City looks to have a new superpower drug problem - it's not all down time, obviously. There's a one-page scene between Spencer, Gage and Livvie about half-way through the issue that feels a bit stilted, in an infodump kind of way, but the rest of the issue keeps up the charm. Due to scheduling regular artist Mahmud A. Asrar shares this issue with Yildiray Cinar - the same colourist (Ron Riley) works on both sets of pages which no doubt helps, but though I can see the difference now, on first read when I hadn't noticed the credits, I didn't notice the art change from scene to scene either. Granted I'm not especially art-savvy, but it still shows that their styles mesh well. Still, I'm glad Asrar got the page where Scrap gets her big leap-into-combat-looking-awesome moment - I'm not sure what it is, but something about how Asrar draws Scrap just makes the most gorgeous ass-kicker. This issue also features an ad for theartofcomics.com where Asrar has art available, and since the ad features (you guessed it) Scrap, I'll definitely be checking that out (although since it seems to be real art, not copies, I imagine it'll be out of my price range).
Guardians of the Galaxy #13 ~ The War of Kings - which I'm not reading - hits this title properly, but fortunately (as I'd hoped) it's done in such a way that I don't really feel like I've missed anything crucial; the Guardians have their own mission, tied to the War but not reliant on it to make sense, and that mission is something I can follow without needing to know the War's extra backstory. Naturally, being the Guardians, their mission runs off the rails and they all wind up royally screwed, but that's just par for the course - it wouldn't be any fun if things went right for them, would it? There's plenty of the amusing banter and semi-cordial sniping between characters that Abnett and Lanning have put into this title from day one - there's tension at the top, with Warlock still being a dick and barely getting on with Starlord, but for the moment the team's back together, which is nice after the more-pronounced-than-usual fracture of the last few issues. Phyla (now calling herself 'Martyr' apparently) and Moondragon get some cute moments, and for the first time, I believe, we discover that the high-kick-loving Mantis actually is wearing underwear beneath that strappy skirt of hers. All in all it's business as usual, but this comic's business as usual is quality stuff, so that's nothing to worry about.
Avengers: The Initiative #23 ~ This is the big 'cat out of the bag' issue, as MVP's accidental death in training at the Initiative is made public knowledge, but really it doesn't seem much of a big deal - it may not have been public, but we've been over the MVP thing again and again already in this title, so now (if you'll pardon the black humour pun) I just hope it's laid to rest for good. In other news Norman Osborn shows up and we find out that SHIELD has been disbanded, which everyone else in the Marvel universe has known for a couple of months - it's instances like this (and New Avengers below) that show the weakness of a shared world, where titles with thier own timeframes skip ahead or lag behind, and it kind of ruins the impact of the stories involved. Meanwhile the Shadow Initiative, or whatever the Black Ops team are calling themselves, are stranded in Madripoor or wherever, and the reunion of Komodo and Hardball goes about as sour as it could possibly be. Those two I'm interested in, but the rest of the team (especially Mutant X/Typhoid Mary, whose identity was the biggest "Oh, is that it? So what?" reveal of a secret I can recall) I really don't give a toss about. Nor the dismantling of Camp Hammond, actually - while I like the idea of the Initiative, its handling from the beginning has been such a series of anvilicious "Look how awful political/military institutions are!" storm-in-a-teacups that I just don't care any more what happens to it. What I like about this title are the characters - the stories like that invulnerable kid, or Reptil more recently, the anthology kind of ones brought together by the common setting. If this title seems to be moving away from that in future, I may wonder whether I want to keep reading it.
C.E. Murphy's Take A Chance #4 ~ Chance (Frankie) last issue shot a bad guy (bad girl, in fact, drug runner China White) to save a cop, and this issue is basically the fallout. White's boss Carrie Nation is furious and sends a powered hitman to kill Chance, while the police chief is also furious, acting out the 'stubborn asshole cop who gets in the hero's way' role to a T and making Chance into public enemy number one. That's the side of the story I'm least interested in - the police chief having a vendetta against the vigilante/hero has been done so many times in comics that it needs a major tweak to seem fresh, and so far there's no tweak in evidence. On the up side, Chance and Tazer (the wannabe-hero from earlier issues) meet up again, and circumstances spark something that's kind of like a friendship between them - that I could easily read more of, since the writing is interesting and subtle.
New Avengers #52 ~ This issue melds the two main running plotlines at present - the Avengers wanting to do something about Norman Osborn, and Doctor Strange's search for a successor - quite neatly together, using the Hood to link them: he's Osborn's associate, and if the Avengers can bring that to public light, Osborn will be hurt, while Strange wants to deal with the Hood due to the demon possessing him. That, and the good old 'heroes stick together' thing makes for a team-up (or rather, Strange rejoining the team for now), and at last the Avengers have a mission, to help Strange find his successor and thus keep the power of the Sorcerer Supreme safe from the Hood's demonic buddy. The scenes of everyone sitting around a table talking are witty as always (trust Bendis for that), but it's nice to see the Avengers set out to do something, a clear objective that they could actually achieve - their wider one of taking down Osborn doesn't quite do it for me, since what with the spread of Dark Reign titles it seems like the Fall of Norman will be a big event too, not confined to New Avengers. The Hood himself gets some development this issue, including a strange and weirdly compelling make-out scene with whatsername in the metal mask - neither character has any weight with me, but the sequence is laid out and drawn very well - and Spider-Man has an odd moment when he complains about Ms. Marvel 'stealing' a Quinjet from Osborn's Avengers. You'd think after all this time Spidey - a vigilante and often a wanted criminal - wouldn't get his panties in such a bunch over nicking tech from a villain. Speaking of Ms. Marvel she's still around, which is slightly irksome since in her own title she's already exploded or whatever, and we're now reading the 'past' here relative to that - between this and Avengers: The Initiative the Dark Reign timeline isn't flowing as smoothly as it might've.