Fear: The Great Motivator

November 1st, 2010 by Dave

The Punisher is hunting me.

Let me clarify a bit. This weekend, I went down to Long Beach ComiCon with Jamiel & Ladon to spread the word about NPC Comics in the Southland. I was just there for Friday and the first hour of Saturday, since I had to fly back up to the Bay Area for the Gorillaz concert in the Coliseum Saturday night. But that Friday night….

Friday night I went to the Hero Initiative get-together and got to hang out with Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Tim Bradstreet, Dave Johnson, and…Thomas Jane.

Yes, Thomas Jane of ‘The Punisher’ and now ‘Hung’ as well as a slew of other great movie and comic projects. So I got up the nerve to ask him and Tim Bradstreet for an interview the next morning, figuring I’d be able to get it in before I had to go catch my flight.

Now, I’d done my homework on Thomas Jane, the actor, but I was sorely lacking info on Thomas Jane, comic-book writer. That was all my fault and you’ll read my mea culpa later. But we got a great interview with Messers Jane and Bradstreet about Raw Studios, Dark Country 3D, and their upcoming projects that will be included in the podcast or put up on the blog as soon as possible.

So, a bit shamed faced, I picked up the ‘Bad Planet’ collected edition and promised Mr. Jane that I’d read it and give it a review as soon as possible. I read through it on the flight back to Oakland and was planning on posting the review on Tuesday to go with this weeks podcast. Saturday night was Gorillaz at the Coliseum, Sunday was recovering from travel and hearing loss as well as work in the evening. Then I called Jamiel Sunday evening on my way home from work to see how the rest of Saturday and Sunday went at the con. And he uttered the words: ‘Yeah, Thomas Jane stopped by and was looking for you.’

When The Punisher starts looking for you, time to get things taken care of, pronto.

So, without further delay, here’s my review of ‘Bad Planet’.

Overall, I liked it: it’s well written by Thomas Jane & Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and has excellent artwork by James Daly, Lewis LaRosa, & Dave Kendal. At the core you have an invasion of Earth by a seemingly unstoppable alien horde, with only an escaped alien convict able to stop them. The Convict (the closest thing to a name he/she/it has) has personal reasons for wanting to stop the onslaught, warrior’s pride that eventual changes into the desire to prevent Earth from earning the designation of ‘Bad Planet’, basically turning it into a no contact planet for Galactic civilization at large for the rest of time.

The artwork from the assembled team, under the art direction of Tim Bradstreet, is a nice change of pace from the usual fare from the Big Two. Bradstreet’s stylistic use of light and shadows is very clear throughout much of the series, but the artist pool also brings their own individual styles to the panels, producing a nice mix like when you have a master cinematographer working with a master director.

Story is always my big draw for a comic, and ‘Bad Planet’ certainly does have a solid story and good pacing. When I interviewed him, Thomas Jane proudly proclaimed that this was the only ‘true science-fiction comic’ out on the market, and I can agree with him to some extent. It’s definitely an homage to the days of EC Comics and 50’s sci-fi popcorn flicks, which isn’t really a bad thing. ‘Bad Planet’ brings back a different kind of sci-fi storytelling that’s been missing recently even from the text scene: simple, direct, and genuinely fun. It’s not social application of science/tech gone amok like Corey Doctorow, and it’s not military fiction with a garnish of sci-fi like Dan Abnett. It’s not the pseudo-science of Reed Richards or Star Trek, instead, it’s got enough moderately advanced science in there to help frame and shape the story, but not totally define it.

As further proof that ‘Bad Planet’ falls into the ‘science fiction can be fun and not serious commentary’ category, quite a few sections are done in 3D full color art, which, kitch factor aside, does look awesome. It really is a modern version of a 50’s ‘Terror From Beyond the Stars’ movie done as a comic. And just like ‘Machete’ shows just how fun camp films can be when made with real talent, ‘Bad Planet’ shows just how great the style of those 50’s comics and films can be today.

So, a sincere thanks to Thomas Jane, Tim Bradstreet, and everyone at Raw Studios for showing me patience and turning me on to ‘Bad Planet’. And an even bigger thanks to you guys for doing something that I’ve long been complaining about: putting fun back into comics.

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Categories: comics, Interviews