Review: Southern Bastards – Here was a Man; by Jason Aaron

Southern Bastards, Vol. 1: Here Was a ManSouthern Bastards, Vol. 1: Here Was a Man by Jason Aaron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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My first Indy Week Buddy Read Shallows. Thanks to Humble Bundle for their last and superb Image Bundle. I will be flowing forth with tons of IMAGE reviews as such! (especially since I figured out how to load them onto my iPad!)

So this non-mainstream slice of Jason Aaron is his first since the glory days of SCALPED, a certain masterpiece of modern noir crime fiction. (I’m only in the middle of that series and I’m already hooked like a junkie for my next fix).

Aaron is in my Top 2-3 writers in the industry right now, no doubt. So when I read the jacket on the back of this one and look at all the names giving quotes and recommending this: Brubaker, Hickman, Fraction, Remender, Snyder; well holy fuck, that’s just like the 1927 Yankees talking about Gehrig or Ruth…a regular murderers row of talent. The best in the bizz.

Between that and the fairly accepted praise from friends on here who’s opinions I truly value, this was set up for greatness…

And boy, does it deliver.

Earl Tubb is one badass mofo. Having left the small Alabama town where his daddy was sheriff 40yrs ago, never to return…until now.
He comes back conflicted, and within hours, is knee deep in local bullshit all over again.
This feels like a Clint Eastwood movie just waiting to be made.
Cross Deliverance with Walking Tall and give ole’ Squint the reins.

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The county his father kept clean until his death is the usual Southern Hellhole, run by Coach Boss, a combination of Boss Hogg and the Coach in Varsity Blues, except filtered through Satan. The use of heavy reds and browns and yellows really give the feel of hell on Earth, heat, and damned souls.

Try as he might, Earl wants nothing more than to pack up his family house, and get the fuck out…but the murder of an old acquaintance is just a little too much for Earl to take when he sees the current Sheriff isn’t fixin’ to do a Good Goddamn thing about it.

This is the same kind of unflinching look at the real America of the South, that Scalped gave us of the Western/Plains Native Reserves. This is noir so dark, it’s black. It takes a chunk of you just to read it. Make no mistake, this isn’t some comic book, this is pure American Noir in the hands of a modern master.

If you haven’t already, grab yourself some fast, because like the best Ribs/BBQ, you DO NOT want to miss out on this.


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Review: Scalped: Vol. 6 – The Gnawing…by Jason Aaron

Scalped, Vol. 6: The GnawingScalped, Vol. 6: The Gnawing by Jason Aaron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Compared to this, the dark knight is like My Little Pony. Holy fuck, noir. This is dark, this is grit. This is 150 shades of grey. Layer upon layer of complexity and interwoven relationships. It really is cranked up to 11 and then never stops. You want some bad ass motherfuckers? Try Red Crow…guy is stone cold. Takes out the Hmongs’ man, while on the phone with him. Then tells him to come and get it…then takes a beating like Rocky fucking Balboa. Saves the Rez, and still gets the last laugh…oh and the whole time? Nitz and the FBI are on him like brown on rice…oh, and he finds out there’s a rat from the FBI in his inner circle…oh and his daughter is a train wreck too, but he tried to save her…

Catcher…fuuuuck.

Dash is a Bad Bad Baaaaaad Horse. Manages to get revenge on Diesel, evade being caught as the rat, stops another guy fro. Ratting him out to Red Crow, and dodges Nitz, gets saved from Red Crow’s #2 by Catcher, and still manages to come out positively on the karmic scale…

I agree with Mike and Sam on their reviews…there aren’t enough words…Jason Aaron…fuuuuck. This volume alone gives you a decade of freedom for me to not ever disparage your work.

READ. THIS. NOW.


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Review: Thor Vol. 3 – The Accursed; by Jason Aaron

Thor: God of Thunder, Vol. 3: The AccursedThor: God of Thunder, Vol. 3: The Accursed by Jason Aaron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK…that was disappointing. Even more so because it’s Jason Aaron…

The first issue #12? That was a 5 star issue. It made me get all teary eyed, and was good solid stuff about a God who loves humans, yet still cannot always save them. Following on the heels of the God Butcher saga, this was a perfect approach to a more small scale and human approach to Thor. I loved everything about this issue. It also involves all 3 Thors at different points in history, showing the love he has always held for Midgard.

the rest of the book is a sorta LOTR gang from the 9 realms who try to hunt down Malekith, who escapes from Hel. Just a little too obvious until the end, but the ending was actually well done and sets up what will surely return as a bigger storyline down the road.

the final issue goes back to young Thor and is funny, but also shows him growing as a young God, learning about life and responsibility, alongside a drunken dragon. Yup. Thor and a dragon get shitfaced together….that’s the funny part.

So not amazing, good, but the middle lags a bit and is kinda boring.

If anything, get your hands on issue #12, because that’s the diamond of this collection, and one of the best Thor issues I’ve ever read. (Anne, this means you…don’t waste time on the whole TPB, just read #12)


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Review: Thor: God of Thunder Vol. 1 (& 2) (#1-11) by Jason Aaron

Thor: God of Thunder Volume 1Thor: God of Thunder Volume 1 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This volume contains issues 1-11, and covers the entire Gorr the God Butcher storyline. I had already read volume 2, and thought I was getting volume 1 from the library, but this was a great packaging job.

Since I already reviewed volume 2 I will focus on the first half instead…

The story starts off with Thor in Iceland circa 900, with the discovery of a severed head, which turns out to be a God as per Thor…then we move to present day Thor the Avenger, who answers a prayer for rain on a distant planet…when he asks why they didn’t pray to their own gods, he’s told they have no gods, which baffles Thor. He searches and finds the hall of the gods for this distant planet, and discovers they have all been butchered by someone…then he is attacked by a mysterious black figure.

Move forward thousands of years and we see an old broken Odin on the throne of Asgard, alone and exhausted…only we discover this is actually Thor of the future, fighting multitudes of the same black beasts from the present day.

As the book continues, each Thor faces the same foe; Gorr, the God Butcher. Icelandic Thor fights him in the past, present Thor seeks knowledge of all missing gods and journeys the cosmos to find them all slain, future King Thor fights the hordes of Gorr singlehandedly (literally only one arm) as the last God standing, not just in Asgard, but in the cosmos.

Things start to converge, and set up the inevitable showdown…but that’s part 2.

Aaron has given us the holy trinity of Thors, past present future, and the depth of character that allows him to delve into and create is fantastic. This isn’t about Asgard and the gods, or the Avengers (though we do get a short cameo from Iron Man that illustrates the deep respect and bond between the two, which I truly enjoyed.) it is about Thor.

I don’t want to get more into it, but this is a great Thor book, and way to rejuvenate the Son of Odin. I give the first book 5 and the second book 4, so I round this double sized volume to 4.

I’m not even getting into the existential philosophy and deep subject matter, which goes down well because there’s still lotsa Mjolnir throwing and blood spraying for those who like the action and plenty of Thunder from the Thunder God.


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Review: Scalped, Vol. 5 – High Lonesome; by Jason Aaron

Scalped, Vol. 5: High LonesomeScalped, Vol. 5: High Lonesome by Jason Aaron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Jason Aaron has already made it to my top 5 comic writer list, and with this kind of work, he could make the jump to favourite of ALL genres. This is crime noir that sits comfortably alongside Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler, and in his own medium, Ed Brubaker. The best noir ironically requires shades of grey; many…not quite 50…but a lot. Aaron has a cast in this series we have been getting to know, but here in this volume, we delve into the back stories of some of the more important members we haven’t yet…FBI Special Agent Nitz; Diesel, the 1/16 Kickapoo Indian wannabe; Catcher, the crazy old timer who’s fried and spooky, and a career criminal with many names who may destroy everything for Dash.

This is just epically great. Characters I should hate are seen in the contextual light of their experiences, which changes my opinion to a bit greyer…
Revelations are made that add even more layers of depth and lies to get through, and we are left with the setup for a big swing in momentum.

I could gush more, but if you’re not already on this train, get on now!! At the very least, read more Jason Aaron…in a just world, he’ll be screenwriting and directing any time now…


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Review: Thor – God of Thunder: Godbomb – by Jason Aaron

Thor: God of Thunder, Vol. 2: GodbombThor: God of Thunder, Vol. 2: Godbomb by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is Thor at his Hulking best (for lack of a better explanation/an easy reference). Though I haven’t read Vol. 1 (my library does this very odd thing of ordering books out of sequence…GRRRRRR) I found that I was able to pick this right up and not be lacking for much info.

Gorr is a man who questions the Gods, and when bad shit befalls him, like any sane person would, he loses faith, and takes it to the extreme. He wants to kill all the Gods so men can and will stand on their own. I actually found this to be a very acceptable idea, even if not a very original one.

Thor has to stop Gorr from building his God-bomb, which is exactly what it sounds like…a bomb made by a God to kill all the Gods…silly, but OK, serves the purpose.

Thor isn’t quite up to the challenge, but ThorS are. Yes that’s right…not one, not 2, but THREE THORS! (and no I don’t have a lisp/speech impediment)
The holy trinity of past, present and future Thors (Young Thor of Scandinavian days, a rage-fueled warrior who hasn’t yet proved himself worthy to carry Mjolnir; Thor the Avenger (“our” Thor from present days) and King Thor (Future, who looks just like Odin, but is in fact, a much older Thor).

So you have the best of what Thor was, is, and will be. I like this idea very much. As much as a battle against Gorr, this is just as much about Thor, and who he is, and needing to figure that out.

The wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey travel-y stuff is made fun of properly, especially by King Thor, who’s quite a funny old man for all the bad shit that’s befallen him. Either way, the 3 of them have to go defeat Gorr.

We also get a glimpse at King Thor’s granddaughters, who end up working alongside Young Thor (and in a funny section, one of them has the hots for him, only to realize it’s a younger version of her Grandad! HA INCEST! ZING!).

This is nice to have some humour inserted into what could otherwise be far to heavy/dark/New 52ish of a book.

I won’t get into the specifics of what goes down and any more stuff, but I understand what some people think Gorr is lacking as a character/motivations/originality. I also think maybe I saw it more as a reflection on Thor. That being said, it’s also got some kick ass God of Thunder reigning down from the Heavens.

This tome doth rock verily.

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X-Men: Battle of the Atom; by Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron & Brian Wood

X-Men: Battle of the AtomX-Men: Battle of the Atom by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK All-New X-Men makes a LOT more sense now.

I read all of that and all of Wolverine & the X-Men before this.

Now that I’ve read it, it makes a bit more sense.

But still, as a whole, meh plus?

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Yes that’s me straining to enjoy a bowel movement, much like RDJ.

There’s stuff to like here, as many friends have already mentioned:

It flows very well, you hardly know when you’ve changed books, because it flows man. Like the river. Whoa.

Aaron and Bendis are what’s missing from Wood’s X-Men…ie HUMOUR. Wood’s X-(wo)Men would be a perfect DCU book.

Iceman is awesome. Seeing not 1, not, 2, not 3…oh ya.

Also explains why Kitty leaves the Jean Grey School (and Iceman), and why the All New (PAST) X-Men end up where they are.

Explains why Jean has some serious confusion about things.

There’s also a lot to not like:

SOOO MUCH ANGER!!! INFIGHTING! GARRRGH!

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This is from a documentary of my high school…I actually saw some kid flip a whole cafeteria table over during a MAGIC card game…it was awesome. I was hoping to see some spellcasting or at least a magic wand shoved somewhere dark, but no such luck…

If Hank McCoy is so smart, why has he continually fuct this up? Bringing people forward in time worked so well, why not bring more back in time? That oughta be cool right?

We get 3 versions of Beast, 2 Cyclops, 2 Jean (I mean…no…maybe we don’t? ummm…ya.) 4 Iceman…but only 1 Angel??? I mean seriously, he’s the only one who says “DUDES, WE DON’T BELONG HERE! LET US GO HOME TO THE LAND OF TV DINNERS AND HOTPANTS!”

Shockingly, there’s only 1 Wolverine, and that’s kinda telling, knowing what we know now.

There’s too many monologues and fighting, not enough questioning why, and then Kitty gets mad at the present X-Men (Wolverine’s gang) for trying to get Cyclops and Jean back when they run away (the past ones) and don’t want to go back…umm…isn’t that what you all knew you had to do to start with??? I mean I know letting people decide things for themselves was a good idea, but you can’t seriously think letting the teen X-Originals decide to run off and stay hiding in the present was a good idea?? Ugh. No.

There’s some cool characters we get to see:

Future Icem(e)n; Future Colossus, Magik gets to really let loose, we see how some of the X-kids do in the future (Quentin Quire) and we see what shit goes down (to a certain degree).

I love that Wolverine and Magneto come across as the voices of reason here…that’s too funny.

Iceman from the Future is great. Needs his own series, pronto. If it weren’t for Bobby Drake, I don’t think I’d have laughed once…”So If we’re going to the future, shouldn’t we pick up a sports almanac or something?”

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Yup. THAT is how you do time travel and funny.

This book really hovers into nearly DCU levels of seriousness…not loving it.
I can see how this isn’t really meant to be funny, but see the Iceman? Make-a-the-funny words? MORE OF THIS!

So, it’s OK, there’s a few nifty moments, but it also causes more problems than it solves.

It is what it is, and if you’re not an X-person, stay away. FAR AWAY!

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Review: Scalped: Vol. 4 – The Gravel in Your Guts; by Jason Aaron

Scalped, Vol. 4: The Gravel in Your GutsScalped, Vol. 4: The Gravel in Your Guts by Jason Aaron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well shit got even darker than it already was pretty fast…

Intro by the great Ed Brubaker rightly points out: This is Noir. Noir is when you know shit gonna go bad, but you can’t help but watch, you just know things aren’t getting better.

There’s some beautiful work being done in the Noir world, and Jason Aaron makes it raw, unflinching, and downright sad.

He also writes characters that are some crazy shades of grey. Red Crow was an asshole at the start, but now we get a glimpse into who he thinks he is, why he’s done what he’s done, and who he thinks is evil. Dash was going to be our unconventional hero, but he’s getting tainted with darkness all over his white hat too.

It’s like this is the Graphic Novel version of Alice in Chains beautifully miserable “Down in a Hole”.

Down in a hole, feelin so small
Down in a hole, losin my soul
I’d like to fly but my
Wings have been so denied

Red Crow is becoming a Shakespearean villain (ie. multiple layers of evil/bad on top of what used to be a pure/decent soul; or simply one bad decision that led down the road to years and years of them).

The “romance” between Dash and Carol Red Crow is agonizing and makes you feel like shit, because you know it’s based on something so real. Neither of them has anyone else they can come close to trusting, so they join together for the downward spiral.

(This really is an early 90s Alternative Music video adaptation I swear.)

Bravo to Mr. Aaron, it’s so authentic, so real, I’m amazed this hasn’t been made into an HBO series yet. It’s right up there with those ideas.

If you’re not already reading this series, what is wrong with you? Wake up! Get it!

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Review: Thor: Season One, by Matthew Sturges

Thor: Season OneThor: Season One by Matthew Sturges
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I haven’t been the biggest fan of Marvel’s quasi-cash-grab “Season One” Books. I mean I suppose it’s a quick, easy way to do updated origin stories for all the new Marvel Comics fans that are appearing due to the movies, so I suppose I need to remind myself, these books aren’t geared towards me. They also seem to be aimed at teens, as there’s a lot of ho-hum stuff here.

The funny part is, if this is geared towards teens, then I’m not sure how many are going to get the Monty Python Dead Parrot Skit reference whilst in Norway…
I found it mildly amusing, but I got it.

Anyhow, my review, in Hulk prose:
Thor, Loki, Odin. Thor rash, headstrong, Loki trickster. Odin old.
Thor go to Earth, become puny human. Need stick to walk. Puny human fix others.
Puny human have girl human friend. Puny Human become Hammer God. Hammer God learn life lesson. Hulk no care for artwork.
Loki bad. Thor have friends. Hulk no need friends.
Thor smash. Hulk smash better.
Thor stay with puny humans. Come back God-land when want.

Pretty much. There’s some good work with Don Blake, who we rarely see anymore (at least I feel like).

The best part here is the preview for Issue #1 of Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder series.

unfortunately, that wasn’t on the digital copy that came from the book…

Hit and miss, but lots of hitting.

I give 3 Mjolnirs.

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FREE COMICS! NATIONAL COMIC BOOK DAY!

Hey loyal readers (and traitorous readers as well for that matter)!

Today is National Comic Book Day!!!

That’s cool enough, but even better?

FREE COMICS!!!

https://www.comixology.com/National-Comic-Day/page/3587?tid=E140925001&utm_source=comiXology+Digital+Comics+Newsletters&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=E140925001_National_Comic_Day

Just follow the instructions at Comixology!

This is awesome.