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Dude Review: Giant!

I got a chance to attend the most recent HeroesCon, which is a comic book convention here in Charlotte.

The event, one of the best-regarded comic book conventions in the country, is held every year around Father’s Day, is sponsored by local comic-book store Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find and is like heaven to geeks like me.

To ride down the escalator to the show floor and listen to the sounds of people arguing the merits of who’s smarter: Jimmy Corrigan or Amadeus Cho. . . Who would win in a fight: Hulk or Thor? Could Superman pick up Thor’s hammer?

It is the music of my people.

One of the best parts about the convention is that it plays host to a veritable host of small-time comic-book creators. These are the folks who aren’t published by the big-time folks at Marvel, DC, Image, Boom, or even Dark Horse. These are the dudes and dudettes who form their own publication firm to put out their own comic books.

These are the fertile fields of independent, non-mainstream comic book creators. And walking through the Artists’ Alley, perusing the various and sundry publications. . . It’s a total blast for me.

As I was aisle cruising on the Saturday of the show, I ran across an interesting little book. And I do mean little. Giant! is four inches by six inches and, despite the name, which suggests something really, really tall, the book is wider than it is tall. A lovely little black-and-white interior tells the story of Deedrick a hapless young man in a medieval walled city.Giant-Website-Banner

Everything goes wrong for poor Deedrick. He accidentally insults the local lord, renders his castle’s gate inoperative and, basically, just messes up the joint. As a punishment, he’s sentenced to being lowered off the top of the castle to scrub off the pigeon poop from the sentient gargoyles that lurk around the heights, serving as protectors when needed.

And, as you might guess, they are needed rather quickly. Once again, by pure happenstance, Deedrick manages to wake a nasty giant from a centuries-long sleep. Of course, it immediately goes on a rampage, as these sorts of things are wont to go. It’s up to Deedrick and a host of blandly engaging characters, including a pretty cool gargoyle, to save the day. If they can stop messing up long enough to actually get it done.

The story is cute and fairly predictable. It’s, well, serviceable. I mean, it gets from point a to point b without too much trouble. Despite what seems like a horrifying danger, it never really feels like anyone is in danger. There’s no real emotional investment in the characters. However, that’s not really necessary.

Writer and artist of Giant!, Chris Wharton, invests his main character with enough bumbling charm and enthusiasm that you don’t really need to get invested in his fate to enjoy reading about him. Wharton’s pencils are instantly engaging, sharing a sort of cartoony or animated simplicity. Despite a paucity of backgrounds, the art was slick enough to really carry the lightweight story.

My one gripe is that the ending came much too easy for our heroes. There’s the suggestion for how to beat the giant, they do it. The giant is beaten. The end. It felt rushed and, when the ending came across as that simple, a rushed ending really feels rushed.

There was a tremendous amount of potential in this story. Considering that Wharton ended the story with a nice little bit that suggests another story on the way, I have a feeling that we’re going to get a chance to watch him improve in the next volume. I’d love to tell you how much the comic costs, but it’s not listed anywhere on the book itself. Giant! originally was printed through Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site that allows creators to solicit money from anyone.

The comic’s website, www.giantcomic.com, hasn’t been updated since it met its funding goal on Kickstarter in 2012. However, Wharton has an art page where you might be able to contact him. If you’re interested, maybe you can get hold of him and buy a comic directly from him. Can’t hurt to give it a try.

Despite the shortcomings, I’d really recommend this comic, especially for the younger readers. I have a feeling little dudes and dudettes in third through sixth grade would really dig this. I’d give this a solid three dudes out of five.

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Dude Review: The Incredible Hercules: Assault On New Olympus

by Richard

I think I might have mentioned it before, but comic books are what helped to form a very large portion of my ethical outlook. Spider-Man taught me that those who are strong have the responsibility to help those who aren’t. Batman taught me to work with what you have (even though most people aren’t going to be billionaire obsessives with a full support team.)

I thought I’d done all the learning I needed to do from comic books. Turns out I was wrong. The Incredible Hercules still had a few things to teach us all.

Amadeus Cho is the seventh-smartest person in the world. He’s been hanging with Hercules, righting wrongs and helping to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, Hercules’ mom, Hera, is also trying to make the world a better place and, in her mind, that means wiping out humanity and starting over again.

Seems like a pretty clear-cut philosophical difference that could be easily settled through the traditional methods of beating each other on the head until one being gives in. Unfortunately for humanity, Hera is backed by a number of the other gods in her pantheon, as well as the terrifying Titan Typhon. Hercules has a smart kid and a few of his pals in the Avengers.

What Herc doesn’t know is that his sister, Pallas Athena, has been training Amadeus Cho to replace Hercules as the new prince of power, the protector of humanity. Sounds great. It’s just too bad there can only be one Prince of Power at a time. Which means for Amadeus to take over, Hercules has to be dead.

All of which means it’s time for Herc to make a head-on assault on Hera’s headquarters, New Olympus. Amadeus spends most of the assault trying to protect his friend, which irritates Hercules no end. And here’s the teachable moment. Amadeus confronts Hercules with his worry and Herc tells him, basically, chill out, dude.

“Everybody dies,” Hercules said. “But not everybody lives. Stop worrying all the time.”

Worrying won’t change things. Live life. Enjoy life. Fight for life. When it ends, it ends. Now, I’m not endorsing a fatalistic outlook, but rather one that embraces change and ending, while showing off the best you can get out of life.

All of which makes for a great comic book.

The fight scenes are amazing. As is the entire last half of the book. Full of humor and pathos and betrayal.

If you’ve been following these reviews, you’ll know how much I’m enjoying them. This book doesn’t disappoint.

Go out and pick this up. Five dudes out of five. Again.

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Dude Review: The Incredible Hercules: The Mighty Thorcules

by Richard

I’m going to keep reviewing these until at least one of you drops by the comments section to let me know that you actually bought a collection of the best comic book being published today. And, no, that’s not damning with faint praise. I love The Incredible Hercules: The Mighty Thorcules. It pushes all my buttons. It’s got humor, mythology, humor, butt kicking and smart alekry up the wazzoo. In short, it’s incredible. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Oh, yeah. And this collection has the best sound effect ever committed to paper. Take a look.

Come on! How can you not love the purple nurple of the gods?

Let me explain. For reasons too complicated to go into right now, the Incredible Hercules has to pose as his rival, the Mighty Thor (hence the title) and, this being a superhero comic, the two get into a fight. Now, Thor isn’t used to fighting bare chested. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem. But, see, Hercules isn’t above fighting dirty to win and is willing to give out a purple nurple (notice the sound effect “nurp” is, in fact, purple).

Being a serialized comic book, this could be a bit confusing, if it weren’t for the fact that The Incredible Hercules has the most inventive and fun recap pages ever speeding people up to brought. Basically, Herc has to impersonate Thor to stop an invasion of Earth by some particularly dire elves. Things do not go as planned and Thor has to impersonate Herc to stop the whole thing. Once again, things do not go as planned.

Dude! That hurts just looking at it.

Thor, normally one of the most noble fair-fightingest of the Marvel universe takes well to playing the part of Hercules. Perhaps too well. And, of course, notice the sound effect which, if sounded out, will sound suspiciously like nut crack. Hmm. Wonder where they got the idea for that sound effect? (To get a better look at this and the next picture, make with the clicky to enlargen.) [What? That’s a word, right?]

In the series, Herc has been accompanied by a young genius named Amadeus Cho, the seventh-smartest person on the planet. And someone who has even worse impulse control than the notoriously scatterbrained Hercules. In alternating issues, this collection follows Cho as he tries to find out what really happened when his parents were killed.

He’s looking for the man who planted the bomb, not so much for revenge, but to find out if his sister is really alive and, if so, where she is. When Cho finally does find the mastermind behind his personal tragedy, he’s confronted by an aged, bitter and more than slightly insane version of himself and forced into a no-win, life-or-death situation. His solution to the dilemma is uniquely his own.

Because this is a comic book, I wanted to say a little bit about the art. Reilly Brown on the epic Thorcules arc is absolutely fantastic. I mean, you get the expressions you’ve been hoping for when someone describes the action. While Rodney Buchemi doesn’t quite reach those heights on the Amadeus Cho sections, it still does a nice job of telling the story.

In all, I’ll give this book five (5) dudes out of five. It’s, sorry again, incredible. Go out and buy it now. Read it and laugh.

Otherwise. . . Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be you.Let's run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.

Or your underwear.

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