Thursday, March 20, 2014

COOL SHIT 3-20-14

AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SECOND CYCLE #1: Welcome back to AMERICAN VAMPIRE, one of the very few vampire books on the market worth reading. It practically killed me when it went on hiatus. Now, it’s back, and it’s a beast with a different nature. Fast forward to the ‘Sixties, and Pearl is running kind of an underground railroad for wayward vampires. Even better, Skinner Sweet has taken an interesting direction: back to where he started. When we met him, he was a bank robber and murderer. Now he’s gone back to his thieving ways, except these days, he does it as a biker. Just look at that ponytail and sleeveless vest! But the coolest part is his hideout, a place he and his gang set up back in the Old West. It’s a buried freight car in the middle of nowhere, littered with junk, a Confederate flag and the bones of some forgotten woman. And then there’s the new villain, who seems to be a very ancient vampire . . .

JUPITER’S LEGACY #4: In this issue, we now learn a bit more about how the superheroes got their powers in the first place. More interestingly, however, is how they’ve been doing now that they have taken over America. Nobody seems to think they’re doing a great job. Big surprise. The bigger surprise: in Australia, there’s a mysterious kid with superpowers who is saving people’s lives. During his regular life, he’s doing his best to keep a low profile by pretending to be a klutz and letting the local kids beat his ass every once in a while. Still, it’s not enough to escape everyone’s attention. This has been a heartbreaker of a book so far, and I can only assume that there’s more tragedy ahead of us.

THE TRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE #100: This book has a special place in my heart. When I was a kid, it was my favorite comic book. When it was canceled, it broke me so badly that I gave up reading comic books. I didn’t touch another comic until a friend of mine put the trade of EVIL ERNIE: YOUTH GONE WILD in my hands when I was in high school. When IDW announced that it was bringing Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman back to reprise the book, I was absolutely giddy. A part of me was afraid that it wouldn’t be as good as it was back in the old days, but I was just happy to have this piece of my childhood restored to me.

Well, it wasn’t as great as I hoped it would be. It was all right. It had a strong start and kind of petered out after a while. But I kept buying it, not just because I’m a habit-buyer, but also because of that special place in my heart. Well, they brought the book to a close yesterday, and I have to say, it ended in a fucking spectacular way, something I just did not expect. (Here’s my usual reminder that Cool Shit contains spoilers. If you don’t want to know how it ends, stop reading now.)

I’m sure a lot of people—myself included—thought that they’ll just end it and bring it back whenever the franchise needs a boost in sales. Uh . . . wrong. They’re fucking serious with this ending.

How do I put this delicately? Well, there is no way. Fuck it. EVERYONE DIES. There you go. Autobots and Decepticons alike. Everyone. The title of this final arc is “The War to End All Wars,” and Furman isn’t lying. Just a handful of Transformers survive when the thing that used to be Primus reshapes Cybertron, turning everyone else into Dark Matrix creatures capable of killing a ‘bot merely by touching him.

Not to mention the fact that the Dark Matrix has Optimus Prime in its thrall, and it has brought three different versions of him to fight Rodimus to the death. (Here’s another cool thing about this book: the multiverse. Whenever someone makes a movie out of a book or does a remake of a classic, I like to think that both versions happened, but they just happened in alternate universes, which is how I reconcile the differences and the things that piss me off. The same holds true for the Transformers books. Gen 1 takes place in another universe from the regular IDW books. Well, it turns out that Furman has decided that this is true. Just wait until the multiple Rodimus Primes show up, including the one from the Lost Light.)

Ultra Magnus and Galvatron have their final battle, and sure enough, one stands and one falls. Falls hard and permanently.

Rodimus realizes that the only way to save the universe is to kill Optimus Prime . . . AND HE DOES!

The Autobots and Decepticons give up war. They join forces with humans for a greater civilization. Even Starscream becomes an ambassador of peace throughout the galaxy. And in one final, beautiful moment of death, Rodimus Prime, the final Transformer, melts into the sun and gives birth to a new form of life. From his final thoughts, this wonderful gem: “Optimus was right—we were, ultimately, just one part of a far greater whole, and somewhere and when, in a perfect facet of the jewel he was honing, I picture an idyll, a utopia: the realization of Primus’ dream of a perfectly balanced universe, able to resist the entropic dissolution that inevitably turns order into chaos. My decision, our sacrifice, kept the dream alive.”

I couldn’t think of a better way to end this series.

[For the record, this last portion of Cool Shit was written with NRG’s “Instruments of Destruction” on a loop in the background.]

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