Comic Review: The Expendables Go to Hell

Published: October, 2021
Written by: Chuck Dixon, Richard C. Meyer
Art by: Graham Nolan, Jason Johnson, Kelsey Shannon, Butch Guice, Daniel Brown
Based on: The Expendables franchise by Sylvester Stallone

Splatto Comics, 50 Pages

Review:

Out of all the comics that I’ve backed through crowdfunding, this is one of the few that I anticipated the most. Not because I’m a massive Expendables fan but because it was really neat seeing Sylvester Stallone work with comic crowdfunding maestro Richard C. Meyer a.k.a. Ya Boi Zack and writer Chuck Dixon, who wrote some of my favorite G.I. Joe stories. Since G.I. Joe is very similar to The Expendables, it makes Dixon a pretty solid choice for this project. Plus, he had already worked with Stallone before.

Additionally, I really liked that this featured art by Graham Nolan and a sweet as fuck cover by Kelsey Shannon. There were other variant covers as well but the Shannon cover just nailed it for me and he’s also a hell of a nice comic creator in an industry full of psychotic, narcissistic shitheads.

So while I might not be a massive Expendables fan, I still enjoy the hell out of those movies because they feature so many badasses from the action films of my childhood. Also, they’re just fun, insane movies with a bunch of likable alpha males trying to out alpha each other while also being brothers on the field of battle.

The story is pretty self-explanatory, as it sees the Expendables actually go to Hell. Once there, they learn that Hell is constant war and they find themselves at odds with tyrants of the past while also having some historical heroes becoming their allies. Also, some of their deceased friends and foes appear.

The comic is pretty straightforward, doesn’t waste time and just gets to the action. It’s a pretty cool comic if this stuff is your cup of whiskey.

All in all, I was really happy with it and thought it was certainly worth the wait.

Now if we could only get an Expendables and Jawbreakers crossover or that long-awaited sequel to Stallone’s Cobra that I’ve been dying for since 1986.

Rating: 7.25/10

Comic Review: Impossible Stars

Published: August, 2021
Written by: Richard C. Meyer, Chuck Dixon
Art by: Renzo Rodriguez

Splatto Comics, 64 Pages

Review:

The latest release from Richard C. Meyer to hit my mailbox was Impossible Stars, a comic story that’s very different than anything else he’s released previously.

This is a space adventure which sees a captain and his crew go on a chase to stop another rogue captain. With that, there’s a good amount of tension and a “race against time” plot.

Overall, though, this didn’t really hit the mark for me. I still enjoyed it but if I’m being honest, I could take it or leave it and I don’t know how enthused I’ll be about a potential follow up.

The characters are decently developed but, overall, this is a pretty short trade paperback and there’s only so much room to develop several characters and tell the story.

I felt like once I reached the climax, it was over pretty quickly and everything felt kind of moot, overall. This is probably due to the world not being fleshed out beyond a surface layer.

The real highlight for me was the art. Renzo Rodriguez’s work was pretty damn good and I hope the guy gets a lot more work going forward and this release should really get a lot of comic writers looking his way with money in their hands.

Rating: 6/10

Comic Review: Do As You’re Told: The Ballad of NO

Published: October, 2020
Written by: Richard C. Meyer
Art by: Kelsey Shannon

Splatto Comics, 24 Pages

Review:

Overall, this was my least favorite comic that Richard C. Meyer has done. It ties to his recent PANdemIC comic and both of them tie-in to a larger release, soon to come.

I did enjoy PANdemIC but if I’m being honest, this one felt kind of rushed.

I felt that the story just wasn’t there and each situation was pretty predictable despite each development being shocking to those within the story.

I think that it might have read better if Meyer hadn’t spilled the beans about the character and his actions while describing the comic on multiple videos he put out. But the twist is really the only plot that there is, despite this happening in current year where city streets have been overtaken by riots, looting and general unrest.

Kelsey Shannon is a damn solid artist but I felt like his work was rushed here, too. I get it though, they wanted to get this out there and in people’s hands while these things were still topical and because there is a bigger crossover thing happening but I was pretty underwhelmed by it visually, as well.

I certainly don’t have buyer’s remorse or anything and I’m looking forward to seeing what the bigger plan is with this new group of titles Meyer is working on.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other comics by Richard C. Meyer, specifically those that will be tied to this story.

Comic Review: PANdemIC

Published: October, 2020
Written by: Richard C. Meyer
Art by: Renzo Rodriguez, Jason Johnson (cover)

Splatto Comics, 24 Pages

Review:

I was surprised to see this show up in my mailbox the other day, as I wasn’t aware that it had started shipping and because I hadn’t seen a dozen other people on Twitter posting pictures of it. Usually, others start getting their crowdfunded comics a week or two before mine show up.

I jumped into this pretty quickly, though, and it was an entertaining, quick read that did the job it set out to do while laying the foundation for a bigger story and some other tie-ins that I’m now excited for.

Initially, I wasn’t sure how this would go, as it is the first comic I’ve gotten from Richard C. Meyer (a.k.a. Ya Boi Zack) that wasn’t a Jawbreakers or Iron Sights title. It’s very different from the work he usually does but it still has the energy he’s known for and wastes no time getting to the point and throwing us into the action and excitement.

First and foremost, even though I barely know this character, I like her. That’s a far cry from what’s the norm in comics lately but Meyer did a superb job in establishing who she is, even if, right now, it’s just on a minute level due to this being a one-shot the size of a standard floppy comic book.

This is also tied to what is going on in the world right now with the COVID-19 pandemic but this doesn’t get political and just sort of exists in current year. Sure, it shows that there is some sort of conspiracy afoot and that this will lead to bigger things in the future but it’s lack of trying to take some sort of partisan stance is refreshing, especially in a year where one can’t escape the narrative spin of everything going on in 2020.

Beyond the story, the art is really good. I was impressed by Renzo Rodriguez’s work and since I’m currently looking for an artist to work on a comic book I’ve written, he’s now a guy that’s on my list.

Overall, this was a worthwhile purchase and it has me pretty stoked for what’s to come. It’s short, sweet, badass and most importantly, fun.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other comics by Richard C. Meyer, specifically those that will be tied to this story.

Comic Review: Iron Sights: 2 Psychos

Published: May, 2020
Written by: Richard C. Meyer, Carlos I. Silva
Art by: Ibai Canales, Kelsey Shannon (cover)

Splatto Comics, 100 Pages

Review:

I really dug the first Iron Sights, which upset some of the sensitive, snowflake types that are out to “cancel” Richard C. Meyer just because he criticized a dying comic book industry full of talentless shitheads.

Anyway, I’m happy to say that I enjoyed this sequel even more. Meyer had a few issues with his writing in his earliest books but he’s definitely improved quite a bit in the less than two years since he’s been publishing his own comics on a regular basis.

That being said, unlike his detractors, Meyer listens to criticism and learns from it, which is apparent after seeing how he’s improved over his last two releases.

Overall, I enjoyed this story a lot, even more so than the first and it has some interesting surprises that makes me enthused about the eventual third book. I don’t want to spoil any of the plot details but if you are a fan of neo-western films of the last decade or two, this will most assuredly be your cup of tea.

Additionally, the artist, Ibai Canales received a lot of criticism over the first Iron Sights. While his style wasn’t for everyone, I liked it. However, in this second story, the guy has vastly improved over his previous work. It gives me hope for the future, as I see the guy only getting better, as he keeps working at his craft. Seriously, he’s made really noticeable improvement here and I’m glad that Meyer kept him on and gave him the opportunity to keep working on this series.

At it’s core, this is a hard-edged, action packed crime saga that goes for the gusto and succeeds at building off of what came before it while keeping the reader excited about what could be next.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: it’s predecessor, as well as Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers comics.

Comic Review: Jawbreakers – GØD-K1NG

Published: December, 2019
Written by: Richard C. Meyer, Chuck Dixon
Art by: Aaron Alfeche, Charlie Snogans, Renzo Rodriguez, Ethan Van Sciver (cover), Kyle Ritter (cover)

Splatto Comics, 96 Pages

Review:

I gotta say, color me impressed over the fact that the wait for this book was minuscule compared to the wait for the first one. But first campaigns are learning experiences and Ya Boi Zack really refined how he does things.

But I’ve also got to say that this book was an improvement over the first one, which goes to show that Meyer listened to the criticism of his readers and used that as fuel to get better instead of having a public meltdown on Twitter like many comic book pros.

While I liked Jon Malin’s art in the first Jawbreakers, I like Aaron Alfeche’s more in this volume. He really captures these characters well and going forward, I hope that he is the regular Jawbreakers artist.

I’m not sure if I enjoyed the overall plot of this more than the first one, though, but it was still good, intense and it showed that these characters live in a universe where the dangers are real and actions come with real consequences. But I won’t spoil anything for those of you who haven’t read this yet.

Honestly, I think I like both stories about the same. The only real difference is that this one flows better, has better transitions from panel to panel and it just felt like it had more energy.

This trade paperback actually features four stories with the GØD-K1NG story taking up at least half of the book. After it, there are two extra Jawbreakers related stories and then a sneak preview of a project that Chuck Dixon is working on.

Overall, this was an improvement over the first book and I feel like the creative team that was assembled for this round were firing on all cylinders. Everything seemed to click well and this one made me excited for its eventual followup.

Side note: the bonus story with the art by Charlie Snogans looks dynamite. I love that guy’s art and I hope to see more from him in the future.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers – Lost Souls, as well as Iron Sights.

Vids I Dig 081: Literature Devil: A Look at King Baby a.k.a. Mark Waid (In 3 Parts)

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 1): The favorite weapon of those in charge has always been to censor “rogue thinkers.” And let’s not kid ourselves…a Republican may be in the White House…but the far left is not only still in charge, but they’re actively shutting down competing opinions. And there have been few better examples of the left-wing censor in action…than what happened during the Jawbreakers fiasco.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 2): Let’s take a journey into the marvelously malicious mind of a madman.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 3): How do you think Meyer v Waid will go? Let’s take a look. (Yes – I got that idea from the Hugbox Chronicles. Watch and you’ll know what part I’m talking about)

Vids I Dig 005: Douglas Ernst Mentions Talking Pulp’s Twitter Page and Parody Comic

This is from back in October of 2018 but when there were a lot of developments regarding the lawsuit between Richard C. Meyer and Mark Waid, I was making a parody G.I. Joe comic about it. YouTube commentator Douglas Ernst brought it up in a video. Talking Pulp is mentioned starting around 4:07.

Comic Review: Jawbreakers – Lost Souls

Published: February, 2019
Written by: Richard C. Meyer
Art by: Jon Malin, Brett R. Smith, Eric Weathers, Simon Bennett (Book One), Kelsey Shannon (Book Two), Ethan Van Sciver (cover), Kyle Ritter (cover)

Splatto Comics, 120 Pages

Review:

Well, after a very long wait, Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers – Lost Souls has finally arrived. It took awhile to come out but Meyer has kept people clued in every step of the way due to all the roadblocks and challenges that popped up during this comic’s creation to it finally getting in the consumers’ hands.

I’m glad that I finally got it, as I’ve wanted to review it for a long time.

Full disclosure, I’m not a Comicsgater but I get lumped into that label by people who don’t like those of us who question things or criticize the comic book industry. Also, when I reviewed Meyer’s Iron Sights, I upset a lot of those who lean in a direction opposite of Meyer and most of his supporters. But I liked Iron Sights, despite its issues, and gave that one a 6.75 out of 10.

That being said, Jawbreakers is a step up from Iron Sights but I still have some issues with it, overall.

For the most part, the art in the Lost Souls story is pretty good. Jon Malin is talented but I’m not always a fan of his characters. Everything looks very sleek and his characters seem a bit slender and elongated in certain poses. Still, he’s much better than the average bear and he’s only getting better with more high profile projects under his belt. I’m pretty excited about his Graveyard Shift comic, which are now hitting mailboxes.

Brett R. Smith’s colors are absolutely fantastic though. I also love the cover by Ethan Van Sciver and Kyle Ritter.

This release also features two “remastered” versions of older Jawbreakers stories. One is drawn by Simon Bennett while the other is done by Kelsey Shannon, who also did the Iron Sights cover. These two additions to this release don’t look as good as Malin’s work. Bennett’s parts need more refinement. Shannon’s are better but I’m not a huge fan of the style he uses here and it’s not as polished as his Iron Sights cover, which was actually stunning.

I thought the story was decent, as it is similar to a G.I. Joe story with a kaiju thrown in. I love both of those things, so mixing them is a cool idea. However, this isn’t G.I. Joe. I’d say it’s better than what IDW Publishing has done with the actual G.I. Joe franchise in the years since Chuck Dixon stopped writing it but this feels a bit thin.

If I’m being honest, I need to know something about the characters’ backstories. Here they are thrown into a situation and you just go along for the ride. Meyer needs to develop these characters a bit more but since he has plans to use these characters in the future, maybe we’ll get to know them better. Right now, they feel like generic placeholders or those G.I. Joes that would pop up into a story because they had an action figure but they weren’t popular enough to get more than a minor cameo.

This might sound harsh and I don’t mean it to be but G.I. Joe had a lot of toy companies that knocked them off with toylines like The Corps! and X-Troop. Right now, this feels more like The Corps! than G.I. Joe. It is kind of generic but again, that’s probably because these characters need more depth. I need to care about them and I don’t just off of this story.

I do like that this just gets to the action and it’s pretty much balls to the wall from start to finish. But over time, we’ll need more than that. I can excuse the lack of depth being that this is, right now, a one-off action story.

Jawbreakers is a good start to something but it will take some time to turn it into a brand. The problem with that though, is that crowdfunded comics take a long time to create and distribute. This is one of my criticisms of doing comics this way when I’ve lived in a world where my favorite heroes and teams hit my pull box on a monthly basis. It is much easier finding yourself invested in characters and stories that come out with some regularity. I don’t know if crowdfunded comic franchises in the making can succeed in that way. Plus, people lose interest in things when there’s a long wait.

But for now, I did enjoy this. I certainly don’t have any sort of buyer’s remorse. This was a cool experiment and the end product mostly delivers.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Richard C. Meyer’s Iron Sights.

Comic Review: Iron Sights

Published: September, 2018
Written by: Richard C. Meyer, Carlos Ivan Silva
Art by: Ibai Canales, Kelsey Shannon (cover)

Splatto Comics, 120 Pages

Review:

This wasn’t the first of Richard C. Meyer’s projects that I backed but it was the first to be released. I’m still looking forward to getting his graphic novel Jawbreakers – Lost Souls, which should be out shortly.

This project was done as a sort of test for Meyer to best figure out how to print and fulfill these projects. In the end, unlike many other crowdfunded creators out there, Meyer delivered and this is the proof.

Iron Sights was exactly as Meyer described it on it’s Indiegogo page:

…a hard-boiled action drama set on the border…told in the trashy tone and fun style of a 1990s Straight-To-Video DVD!

If you like Quentin Tarantino crime flicks, John Woo Heroic Bloodshed movies or modern films like NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, HELL AND HIGH WATER or SICARIO, then you’ll love IRON SIGHTS!

This book was overloaded with testosterone to the point that even the lightest of feminists would be foaming at the mouth over this massive level of “toxic masculinity”. This isn’t for the cutesy “safe” fellow that asks, “Could you please pass the almond milk?” This is for the guy that demands, “Pass me that fucking hammer!”

You see, this is the type of badass shit that is missing in comic books in 2018. Comics are escapism and entertainment, they’re not real. And they certainly don’t need to be some sort of medium that’s bastardized for political and social statements that most normal people think are exhausting.

Iron Sights isn’t for those that hold their Moscow mules with both hands, it’s for those of us that snort Wild Turkey 101 through both nostrils. Those of us that can hit the bullseye with a dart while blindfolded. Those of us that think we could take down Chuck Norris if we got in a lucky shot. Those of us that know what an Allen key is. Those of us that wear a king cobra as a fucking belt.

Okay, okay… I’m being overly sarcastic. And I’m only pointing that out because no one has a sense of humor or the ability to laugh at themselves anymore.

But all that being said, how does this actually measure up?

It’s entertaining. Meyer and Silva crafted a solid crime story that feels like a balls to the wall neo-western.

I liked the characters, I liked their camaraderie and their banter. I also liked the character of Esme but I don’t want to spoil anything in regards to her. But chances are, if you bought this, you already read it at this point. So I’ll just point out that I like when the damsel in distress trope is really just a red herring.

Meyer has come under a lot of criticism by his haters over his writing. To be frank, this is better than I thought it would be, as I’m skeptical of anyone that’s really new to the medium.

Ibai Canales has also faced a lot of criticism over his art. While this isn’t what I would call “the big league standard”, it looks okay for what this project is. It’s supposed to be raw, gritty and not overly refined. This isn’t the type of story that needs the art style of a maestro. Iron Sights was a good opportunity for Canales to expand on his talent and to work on something that fits his style. He hits the tone in the right way even if I feel like he still needs to get better and work on his craft, especially character design. If I’m being completely honest, he may not have been ready for this big of a project but I didn’t find his style or lack of refinement to be distracting.

I’ve also got to point out that the cover art by Kelsey Shannon is a perfect marriage between badass and beautiful. I don’t give a shit about posters or anything like that but I’d hang it on my wall.

Anyway, Meyer should be proud of this book and those of us that backed it should be pleased with the end result. Richard C. Meyer delivered on his project unlike so many other comic book pros that have taken money from fans and haven’t delivered on crowd funded projects from years ago.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: the films Meyer used to describe this and I’m assuming his upcoming Jawbreakers comic.