TONY’S TIPS #143

Groot

I am Groot!

What started out as the never-failing-to-make-me-smile only thing Groot says becomes literally fraught with meaning in Groot #1-6 by Jeff Loveness (writer) and Brian Kesinger (artist). That most terse of phases is echoed by the basic and familiar overall plot for the series.

A bounty hunter named Eris is after Groot. When she can’t get him, she captures Rocket Racoon. She figures Groot will come after his friend and she’s right. Except Groot doesn’t come alone. Along his leisurely path, he collects a sort of Less-Than-Magnificent Five to join his rescue mission.

Groot has everything I could have asked for from this mini-series. It has interesting characters, including guest appearances by the Silver Surfer, Dawn Greenwood and Jean Grey. It has lots of laughs and the humor doesn’t distract from the peril Groot and his friends face. It has plentiful and wonderful back story seamlessly inserted into the adventure. By the time, you finish these six issues, you will know everything you need to know about Groot, his friendship with Rocket and how he got to be who and what he is. Best of all, Loveness and Kesinger take us right into Groot’s head in ways that no other Marvel creators have managed.

If you’re thinking Groot is my pick of the week, you are absolutely correct. In fact, I’ll take that honor several steps further. Groot should be a nominee in every eligible award category. Groot himself should be considered a contender for any best comics character of the year competition. In this age of grimmer and grittier, it’s not often a feel that way about a comic-book hero.

Groot #1-6 will be reprinted in a hardcover collection that’s due out in February. If you’re a Marvel Comics fan, you’ll need to own that book. If you’re a public or school librarian, you need to make sure you have multiple copies for your patrons. If you’re me, you need it because it’s just the kind of comics collection you turn to when you need to be reminded how good and how much fun comic books can be. I am Tony…and I approve this message.

Groot [Marvel; $24,99]:

ISBN 978-0785195528

******************************

John-Carter

Odds are I read a John Carter book or two when I was a teen, but I have no memory of those Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. I think Tarzan had a great attraction for me, mostly because I read a whole bunch of Tarzan comics and watched a whole lot of Tarzan movies before I read any of the books. But I know the basics of the Carter mythos and decided to give the new Dynamite series a chance.

I read John Carter, Warlord of Mars #1-13 [$3.99 each) over a few days. Writer Ron Marz was the big attraction because I’ve enjoyed his work in the past. Marz did not disappoint.

In issue #1-6, a former Union soldier with a big hate-on for former Confederate soldier Carter is the leader of an invading force from another planet. Yes, this is your basic “hero fights his opposite” saga, but it’s exciting with maybe terrific scenes for Carter, his beloved Dejah Thoris and several intriguing supporting characters. The story never seems padded or rushed… and it has real nice art by Abhishek Malsuni.

In issue #7, John and Dejah hit the road looking for old technology that might regenerate their world’s dying atmosphere. Co-writer Ian Edginton joins Marz for issues #8-13, all of which feature one or two-issue stories of the couple’s quest. The initial six issues are stronger, but these are some fine adventures as well. Ariel Medel is credited with the pencil art with no inking credit. It’s really good stuff, but I liked the Malsuni issues better.

John Carter Warlord of Mars Volume 1: Invaders of Mars [$19.99] was published in November. It collects the first six issues. If you’re a Burroughs or a Marz fan, it’s definitely worth getting. I suspect a second volume will be along in good time.

Americatown

In the somewhat near future, desperate people from an economically-depressed country are illegally entering a more affluent nation in search of jobs. The “illegal aliens” are from the United States and they are going to Argentina. That’s the premise of Americatown, an eight-issue series by television writers Bradford Winters and Larry J. Cohen [Archaia; #3.99 per issue]. Winters was the head writer on Oz while Cohen was a writer and story editor on the Netflix series Borgia. Winters’ original concept for Americatown was optioned by HBO in 2008, but the series never happened. That’s when Winters and  Cohen took the story to comic books.

Americans like the middle-aged Owen Carpenter, desperate for work, are smuggled into other countries and end up in the Americatown of cities like Buenos Aries. They hope to make enough money to pay those who smuggled them into the countries, to live on and to help their families back in the States. The translation from television concept to comic books isn’t a smooth one.

Halfway into the series, I’m still waiting for the character moment or revelation that will bring me fully into the world of the comic book. Neither the writing nor the Daniel Irizarri art excites me. The series strives to be non-political, but, in doing so, it lacks the bite it needs.

Because the concept interests me, I’m sticking with the series for the remaining four issues. Then I’ll read Americatown from start to finish to see if that works better for me. In the meantime, I can’t recommend this one.

I’ll be back next week with more reviews.

© 2016 Tony Isabella