A Week in Ink: Issue No. 15

1968970-3489279623_sm_1400789955_sm_14007899551
The Spectrum

DC Universe Online Legends No. 1

Comics and games often go together like peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, but other times, not so much. Thankfully, this DC Universe Online-inspired issue is more of the former than the latter.

Writers Marvin "Marv" Wolfman and Tony Bedard begin this digitally inspired comic with the epitome of human greed, Lex Luthor, selling out the planet for the death of his nemesis, the Man of Steel. Brainiac, an extraterrestrial cybernetic supercomputer, is all too happy to oblige to Lex's nefarious plot. The duo teams up, and the fate of the world rests in the palm of Earth's mightiest champion. This comic scores a lot of points in a few areas, the first being its exceptional artwork. The mash-up of artists assigned to the DCU Online comics does a great job illustrating a multitude of heroes and villains across DC's vast spectrum of characters, a feat not easily achieved. Secondly, the plot feels dynamic. The story rapidly shifts, putting Luthor somewhere in between Earth's worst humanitarian and one of the world's last heroes.

While the MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online)-based game has received mixed reviews from sites like IGN, 1up and Gamespot, the comic book interpretation has potential. Universes collide in the DC Universe, as Luthor and his group of ragtag heroes must now save the planet they often intend to destroy.

Thor: For Asgard No. 6

The Norse god's quest from zero to hero concludes in an entrancing Disney fashion as Thor triumphantly climbs out of the depths of the underworld, bringing balance to the force. While this has all the signs of a Disney movie in the making, artists Simone Bianchi and Andrea Silvestri make sure some mature artwork stands in the way of any animated film ideas.

The story thus far has taken a few strange twists, as the lord of thunder has proven to be the worst leader in Asgard's long and illustrious history. In Thor's brief, horrific reign, a riot has torn Asgard apart, while the halls of Valhalla have been emptied and its inhabitants forced into the Norse underworld of Niflheim. On top of everything else, he's lost the ability to wield his hammer of unimaginable power, leaving him useless in the tide of the growing battle.

The world, engulfed in flames, has entered Ragnarok – for those unfamiliar with classical Norse mythos, the end of days – leaving Thor with little choice but to travel to the underworld himself and bring back the champions long dead to restore his city to its former glory. In a montage worthy of a '70s boxing movie, the leader of Asgard literally climbs the tree of life with his cohort of heroes in order to restore balance to his kingdom.

The Thor: For Asgard series conclusion wraps nearly every unresolved plot point up in a muscle-bound, supercharged package, putting the reader in a mindset worthy of a god.

Hellboy: The Sleeping and The Dead No. 2

Hellboy creator Mike Mignola can write a story so bone-chilling that it would give Mary Shelley the creeps, and with his latest addition to the Hellboy series, he does just that. Including a multitude of monsters from the horror genre, Hellboy fights the undead in all their grotesque forms as he uncovers an age-old grudge of a young child and her vampiric killer.

Conversely, artist Scott Hampton draws Big Red doing what he does best: smashing spirits through the nearest wall and inflicting as much structural integrity damage as he can. What makes Hampton so talented is that as an artist, he can change his style on the fly, moving from far-away, landscape panels to in-your-face horror shots in an instant.

As a rule of thumb, anything written by Mignola is worth a look; anything written and drawn by the man is worth the buy. "Hellboy: The Sleeping and The Dead No. 2" is a great addition to the Hellboy narrative, but sadly, its impact in the comic book world is more misunderstood than the latest Guillermo del Toro movie.

For now, Big Red is near the top of the ugly totem pole of "best comic-adapted movies," but perhaps one day Mignola's work will get another chance at the silver screen.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com