Waiting for the Trade – The Infinite

Waiting for the Trade
By Bill Miller
The Infinite (volume one)
by Robert Kirkman and Rob Liefeld
Collects The Infinite # 1 –4.
Why I Bought This: This was the last of my Free Comic Book Day pick-ups (although I still have another I haven’t reviewed yet). In this case I had just finished Walking Dead volume 1 about a month prior and between that and some Marvel Team Up I had read late last year I was quite impressed with Kirkman’s writing. On top of that Rob Liefeld is my all time favorite comic book artist, so this seemed like a marriage made in Heaven. Throw in the 20-percent discount for FCBD and I decided take chance on it.
The Plot: The short version is some dude with over-sized guns and body armor (because it is a Liefeld/Image comic) loses a war in the future but manages to travel back in time to before the bad guys took over. He meets up with his younger self and begins to form a resistance cell against the incoming invasion. Much time travel shenanigans ensue.
Spoilerific breakdown follows: (and the jump break button is still disapeared so sorry guys).
Chapter One – We meet our lead character Bowen and his partner Case in the final battle of a 10 year war. The villains are in white so the generic thugs look like Star Wars storm troopers while the lead villain Imperius looks like Caliban when he joined up with Apocalypse in X-Factor. Anyway Case dies, and Imperius claims he conquered the world with his time travel technology to save it from something much worse. Bowen steals his time machine (in the form of a belt) and travels back to present day. In the present we find Young Bowen sleeping with some chick named Julia after their first date. He and Young Case are AWOL from the military when Future Bowen arrives in time to stop Young Bowen from killing her ex and going to a military prison for several years. Future Bowen sends Julia packing and recruits the two youngsters in a battle to prevent the Infinite (that would be the villains) from taking over, and he has T2 style weapons bunkers for them in the desert. The Infinite, including Imperius and a Mohawk dude, arrive in the present for their original invasion.
Chapter Two – Future Bowen has been training the youngsters for six weeks. Young Bowen still wants to find Julia so Future Bowen shares that in his timeline he married her but she died in the war so he’s trying to save her life by keeping them apart this time. The heroes are scouting the storm troopers infiltration of a military base when Mohawk dude (aka Core) attacks them, although he doesn’t know Future Bowen because he’s from the first invasion but its hinted the Infinite must be getting advice from their future-selves to know Bowen and his resistance would be there. Core switched sides in the original war so Future Bowen tells him the same info that caused him to defect last time (it involves a sick sister that Imperius never cures) to speed up the process when their battle is interrupted by a white ninja that looks a lot like Deadpool if his costume were white instead of red.
Chapter Three – Ninja dude saves the heroes and battles Core to a stalemate, revealing he’s from further in the future than Future Bowen and that had he not arrived now than Young Bowen and Young Case would have been killed in the last battle. Meanwhile Gideon questions Imperius about his sister only to get attacked by two Imperius (one of whom is from the far future).
Chapter Four – A CIA chick (Emily) is attacked by storm troopers but Future Case saves her. He reveals she’s one his lieutenants as we move into the plot of T3. This means the heroes have to get to Julia and they do just in time but the other six lieutenants are killed off (off-camera since they are non-characters who we never meet). Core meets up with the resistance and joins them.
Critical Thoughts: There’s just too much time travel here. I like time travel movies quite a bit, and I suppose if both sides have time machines these tactics make sense but at some point it’s just too over the top to care. Seriously we have characters from four or five timelines in this thing: the present day heroes, the original invasion, Future Core and then Far Future Ninja and Far (Far?) Future Imperious. Definitely not up to the standards of the other Kirkman books I read.
Ditto Liefeld’s art. It’s fine and some of splash pages look good but with Liefeld I expect to be blown away and I’m not here. There’s a general lack of color to it since the villains are in white and the heroes are just in civilian garb so they don’t lend themselves to the visual dynamics of say early X-Force to begin with; and with the plethora of big guns and ninjas it just looks like every Image comic from the 90s.
Grade: C-. I didn’t hate it, but I doubt I will buy any future volumes.

Waiting for the Trade – Walking Dead

Waiting for the Trade
By Bill Miller
The Walking Dead Vol. 1 – Days Gone By
by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore
Collects The Walking Dead # 1 – 6.
Why I Bought This: So when the Walking Dead TV show came out I remember rolling my eyes at the ads and thinking “great, more zombies.” While I enjoy the occasional intelligent horror movie, I had my fill of zombies sometime between the Dawn of the Dead remake and Land of the Dead, which despite being by Romero I’ve still never seen because there were just too many damn zombie movies in the three year period leading up to it. I haven’t completely abandoned the genre, but I’m in no rush to experience it anymore—for example I saw Zombieland for the first time this past Halloween and Planet Terror for the first time this past February. With the TV show I was content to ignore it but it started getting great reviews in Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone and really everywhere so my attitude changed to I’ll rent DVD season one someday to see what the hype is about. That still hasn’t happened, but late last year I got Marvel Team-Up vol. 2 by Robert Kirkman and holy God was it a good book with a perspective of Marvel’s Manhattan that was fresh and new in showing how a city of so many heroes can and probably should casually intersect more often. So now this Kirkman has me intrigued and the new season of his show is starting and friends in real life are going apesh*t for it when lo and behold the same email I mentioned in the Iron Man review arrives and vol. 1 of this series is being sold for $3. And so here we are.

The Plot: Small town police officer Rick is trying to stop a prison break when he is shot and falls into a coma. When he wakes up the hospital is completely abandoned. Soon he stumbles upon a room full of zombies. He escapes, and makes his way home to find his wife and son but they are long gone without a note or anything else. He soon runs into a father and son, who tell him what they know of the zombie apocalypse: basically it happened about six weeks ago, media outlets are down, last he heard the government had asked people to go to the cities so they could be better protected by the military. Rick’s in-laws are from Atlanta so he assumes that is where his wife went. He stops by the police station to raid the armory and heads off to find them.
In Atlanta the zombie apocalypse is much worse and Rick narrowly escapes thanks to the help of a lone teen who has been using the rooftops to avoid the zombies. The teen leads Rick to a campsite outside where about a dozen people are staying waiting for the military to arrive, and Rick learns the fate of his family (I’m going to avoid more specific spoilers until the critical thoughts section). We get a few chapters of slowly building internal conflicts among the campers both on survival tactics (should they stay outside the city? should children be allowed to carry guns?) and on a more personal level (romantic triangles, people disapproving of other people’s lifestyles, etc). Eventually there is a major zombie attack on the campsite and we lose a few characters and then in the final chapter one of the personal conflicts leads to a shooting.
Critical Thoughts: This is really good. I don’t read many non-superhero comics and I was surprised at how intense some of the scenes can be, particularly the second trip into Atlanta to forage for supplies. The black and white art is also really detailed and perfect for this material. Kirkman’s writing remains quite strong, although different from the Marvel story of his I liked.
I tried to avoid major spoilers in the plot synopsis but we need to talk about Rick’s family so let’s do that here, feel free to move on to the next paragraph if you don’t want to know. I don’t mind them being alive but I was surprised at how quickly he finds them; both from a narrative standpoint as you’d think an ongoing series would want to stretch the search out a bit, and from a credibility standpoint it is the only note in the story that rings false. There’s like 8 million people in Atlanta, plus whatever excess population the government herded into the city and yet Rick finds the two people he’s looking for in a day. However, it is a forgivable choice in that if Kirkman wanted Rick to find his family and they are not in Atlanta and haven’t been eaten, it’s a big damn world and there’s no mass communication so no matter when he finds them coincidence is probably going to have to play a part in it. Plus having a wife and kid to protect raises the stakes Rick (and thus the reader) and the initial personal conflicts we get from them showing up so soon also read well.
My other criticism is this book does not have the natural chapter/issue breaks included and I hate trade paperbacks that don’t include some sign of where the original individual issue endings were. I like to absorb a chapter a time when I read. I like to see the original covers reprinted. It’s a little thing but one I always find it to be irksome when I encounter it.
Grade A. Believe the hype. This was more suspenseful than I’d have thought a comic book could be and it is both well-written and well-drawn so that several scenes have an emotional impact that to be frank most horror movies don’t bother to slow down enough to provide. I liked it a lot. Now my only dilemma is whether to rent the TV show or stick with the books going forward.