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Comics Reviews: ''Proof,'' ''The Exterminators''

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PROOF
Alexander Grecian and Riley Rossmo
(Monthly; issue Nos. 1-3 are on sale now)
The mythical Sasquatch exists for sure in Proof — but he wears shoes (albeit size 29), has strong opinions about ugly sweaters, and goes by the less-than-monstery handle of John Prufrock. In fact, this particular bigfoot is a government agent tasked with tracking down other legendary creatures. At the top of his thingies-to-capture list in this debut five-issue arc? The human-skin-wearing chupacabra. FOR FANS OF… The X-Files. DOES IT DELIVER? Though the dynamic between Prufrock and his new partner, FBI-er Ginger Brown, might be too Mulder-and-Scully for comfort, most of Grecian’s writing displays a wit and intelligence that’s far from limited to naming his hero after the subject of T.S. Eliot’s poem ”The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” The work of artist Rossmo, meanwhile, ranges from the nicely fantastical to, when required, the memorably gruesome (did we mention that chupacabra is the Ralph Lauren of human-skin suits?). The droll, visceral result makes Grecian’s announcement in the first issue — that he has five years’ worth of Proof continuity already plotted out — seem much more like a promise than a threat. B+
— Clark Collis

THE EXTERMINATORS
Simon Oliver and Tony Moore
(Monthly; issue No. 25 is on sale now)
If there were an award for most improved continuing series, The Exterminators would get my vote. After a clunky start, Oliver and Moore have worked out their storytelling kinks and are really clicking as a creative team. The series is about a bizarre, bug-killing business staffed with some truly colorful characters, including Henry, an everyman ex-con with a complicated love life; Stretch, a philosophizing Buddhist cowboy; and Saloth, a mad-scientist insecticide expert with a haunted past. Their adventures in exterminating are set in a squalid Los Angeles overrun by mysterious mutant cockroaches and threatened by a conspiracy to resurrect an ancient badass god named Atan. Oliver’s dialogue is filthy-funny, while Moore’s art is whimsically seedy. It’s creepy, crass, head-shaking fun. FOR FANS OF… Preacher; R-rated Mark Millar (Wanted); Kevin Smith; and Divine-era John Waters. DOES IT DELIVER? Issue 25 starts a new storyline that’s as good a place as any for first-time readers to jump on the bandwagon (and none too soon, since the series will be ending after issue 30). Though, newcomers beware: It’s a showcase for the comics’ most outrageous character, AJ — a vile, booger-eating, sex-addicted, gap-toothed ex-Marine being pursued by not only by Atan, who covets AJ’s body, but also by a very frisky King Tut, who also wants his body (if you know what we mean). Be prepared to laugh — and feel mildly queasy afterward. B+ — Jeff Jensen

NEXT PAGE: Reviews of Moon Knight, The End League, and Cover Girl

MOON KNIGHT
Mike Benson and Mark Texeira
(Monthly; issue No. 14 is on sale now)
Marvel’s Batman doppelganger is a self-made millionaire (complete with prissy butler!) turned fearsome vigilante who swoops in on his prey wearing an ominous caped getup and wields an assortment of pointy, one-of-a-kind gadgets. Unlike that other Man in Black, this dark Knight (real name: Marc Spector) is a vessel of the ancient Egyptian lunar god Khonshu, his brute muscle power fluctuating from strong to thunderous with the phases of the moon. And while Batman can get a bit broody, our antihero’s become certifiably loco: gruesomely playing a hand in the death of arch-nemesis Bushman (let’s just say that smug look was peeled off his face), then being taunted by Bushman’s apparition to keep killing. In this new story — penned by Entourage scribe Benson, picking up where novelist Charlie Huston left off — Spector is using the superhero Registration Card the government was tricked into giving him as a carte blanche to exact almost homicidal vengeance on anything that crosses him — or it would seem, his path. FOR FANS OF… Batman; Fight Club; Marvel’s Civil War. DOES IT DELIVER? This installment doesn’t so much further the narrative as evoke an atmosphere punctuated gamely by Texeira’s guts-and-all renderings. As such, those new to this title may get impatient. And that’s a shame. Because readers who’ve been following Moon Knight since Huston rebooted it last year (he also plotted out the arc here with Benson), will know to stick around to see how this dark Knight will fair in a scenario far more rich with promise than the recent depth-challenged shenanigans of World War Hulk. B — Nisha Gopalan

THE END LEAGUE
Rick Remender and Mat Broome
(Monthly; issue No. 1 is on sale now)
Decades after he inadvertently caused environmental catastrophe and the deaths of three billion people — and the mutations of many others — the extremely Superman-like Astonishman is still trying to make amends. Most of the mutated turned to crime, so Astonishman leads an extremely Justice League-like team from his home base (called the — no kidding — ”Citadel of Seclusion”) in a quest for the one object that will help them prevail over evil: Thor’s hammer! FOR FANS OF… Early Image Comics; Valiant Comics. DOES IT DELIVER? Where Watchmen and The Authority used allusions to preexisting characters to comment on the superhero genre, The End League‘s adherence to conventions feels closer to copyright-law-dodging fan fiction. C — Sean Howe

COVER GIRL
Andrew Cosby & Kevin Church, Mateus Santolouco
(Paperback)
After a failed actor saves a woman from a car wreck, the footage captured by the local news lands him a real hero role — as the lead in the extra-fluffy popcorn flick Catechism of Bullets. But that title doubles as a omen of things to come, since this Good Samaritan act also lands him on an arms dealer’s hit list. (Turns out that rescued damsel was escaping from the baddie.) To protect their big-screen invest¬ment, the studio hires a ”cover girl” — with a tongue as sharp as her curves — to pose as his paramour while she uses her military training to stomp out any danger. And she does, all the while verbally sparring with the star. FOR FANS OF… The Bodyguard, only with a gender reversal (a sassier male target); the Preston Sturges-challenged repartee of Rush Hour. DOES IT DELIVER? Cosby (who co-created Sci Fi’s Eureka) and Church duly dole out winky zingers such as this nugget of wisdom imparted by a talent agent: ”All Hollywood asks of late is that you don’t suck too much life out of the special effects.” We hear that. Such ironic musings come off as clunky and obvious, and draw away from what makes Cover Girl so likeable — the gratuitous action, stupid! The satire hits its stride when it catches up to Santolouco’s crisp, propulsive artwork, concocting a gooey fondue of indefatigable plot and goofy one-liners (an LAPD detective at a crime scene: ”I’m going to be very pissed off if I missed Dancing With the Stars for nothing”). And who doesn’t like cheese? B+ — Nisha Gopalan

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