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Review Group: Choker #1/Tails of the Pet Avengers

Written by John Martin on Tuesday, February 16 2010 and posted in Reviews
Kerny had the pick for new comics shipping February 10th and he selected Choker #1 by Ben McCool and Ben Templesmith.  Also, since shipping was a bit wonky last week we voted on a backup selection and Tails of the Pet Avengers by Chris Eliopoulos, Ig Guara, Gurihiru, Colleen Coover, Scott Gray, Buddy Scalera and Joe Caramagna won the poll.
The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

It's a good thing we had a backup pick this week.  At the time of this posting I'm the only Review Grouper that was able to get his hands on a copy of Choker... or, I should say I was the only person who was able to get his hands on a copy that wasn't put off by the weirdly warped paper stock.  When we voted for Tails of the Pet Avengers, we didn't exactly take into account the availability of it either.  There may not be as many reviews as usual this week, but the diversity of opinion is pretty vast.
Review by amlah6

Choker #1
published by Image Comics

Story by Ben McCool
Art by Ben Templesmith

Ever since Fell, I've read everything Ben Templesmith has done. I love his art and he's always working on something quirky and dark so it's usually something I would have been interested in anyway. The same applies for Choker, I've been looking forward to it since it was announced at SDCC last year. (It was last year, right?)

At first it seemed like Choker was going to be a detective story in a real world setting, but slowly it begins to introduce some sci-fi and supernatural elements. The setup is a fairly basic private dick who hates life kind of thing, but it's handled well and I found the main protagonist to be engaging. I was enjoying this comic a lot up until the last couple of pages where it becomes overly chaotic. After studying it for a bit, I get what happens there but it probably could have been done in a way that was more clear.

This is McCool's first comics work and it kind of shows in places. He's got that psuedo-Ellis thing going on that's not uncommon with a lot of new writers over the past couple of years. I like Ellis a lot so it doesn't bother me, but I'm sure McCool will find his own voice as he goes along. Overall, I think it was a solid first outing. The plot was good, the characters were interesting and the world feels developed.

Comics with Ben Templesmith art don't look like other comics. Well, usually they don't anyway. Templesmith has this dark and heavily textured feel to his work that I always find fascinating to look at. I visit his blog regularly so I've seen his process stuff before, but it was cool that he also put it in the backmatter here in a little more detail. My only gripe with this issue would be those last couple of pages that I mentioned previously. There's no text so it's just art and while I'm sure wtf? was the intended reaction I'm not sure it was supposed to be quite so WTF?!?!?! to the point that it wasn't totally clear what was happening.

While it's not a perfect first issue, I think Choker #1 does show promise. If nothing else there looks to be massive quantities of blood and violence in the future issues and that's good enough for me as long as Templesmith is the one making the pretty pictures.

Story: 7
Art: 9
Overall: 7.5
Review by amlah6

Tails of the Pet Avengers
published by Marvel Comics

Pet Avengers? Ugh, it sounds silly. At least that's how I dismissed it when the original mini came out.


This was really fun and I can't think of ever seeing anyone say anything bad about the original mini so I have a sneaking suspicion it was really fun too.

Great, now I have one more thing to order. Sad Wink

Beginnings and Endings by Chris Eliopoulos and Ig Guara
I missed the boat on the whole Frog Thor thing way back whenever, but this was a good concise 5 page story with a good character arc and some action to boot. Great art, way better than I was expecting. Great colors by Chris Sotomayor. This art team should be on something bigger than a Pet Avengers one-shot.

My Enemy, My Friend by Chris Eliopoulos and Gurihiru
This is the regular creative team from the original mini, right? Damn, this was just like reading a cartoon. Maybe it's just a bit too cute, but it's hard not to like a sabretooth tiger being followed around by baby t-rexes.

Terrier on the High Seas by Colleen Coover
I have no clue who this dog is. Again, cute story, nice art. Seriously, who da fug is this dog?

Top Dog by Scott Gray and Gurihiru
Lockjaw! Mad-Dog! Yeah, that there is a recipe for good comics. I like this Gurihiru guy, his cartoony and emotive characters are great for these kinds of stories.

Prom Queen by Buddy Scalera and Chris Eliopoulos
Eliopoulos's art is way more stylized than everything else here, but I like it. Lockheed is probably my favorite character in this book, but he's really just got a bit part in this so that's a little disappointing.

Birds of a Different Feather by Joe Caramagna and Colleen Coover
The art here maybe felt a little rough compared to Coover's other short, but I think Caramagna's story was one of the strongest in the issue.

I really liked this lot. Tails of the Pet Avengers exemplifies what modern all ages books should be. It takes established fringe Marvel characters and puts them into a format that anyone can pick up and enjoy regardless of age.

Overall: 9

petavengers_09.jpgReview by spidertour02

Tails of the Pet Avengers

First, a little background! This is a prelude to a sequel to 2009's Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers miniseries. The 2009 mini focused on the formation of a team of "Pet Avengers" -- Lockjaw (the teleporting pet of the Inhumans), Zabu (Ka-Zar's sabretooth tiger), Lockheed (Kitty's dragon), Redwing (the Falcon's pet falcon), Furball (Speedball's cat), Throg (a human that was cursed into froghood, who later obtained a chip of Mjolnir and gained the power of Thor), and Ms. Lion (Aunt May's dog from Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends) -- and their first adventure. In that story, they attempted to gather the Infinity Gems after Lockjaw overheard Reed Richards discussing such a plan with Black Bolt and Medusa. Over the course of four issues, the Pet Avengers travel throughout the world, and even back in time, to collect the gems before encountering Thanos to battle over them.

This prelude contains six vignettes, each one focusing on a Pet Avenger in a solo adventure.

The Good

Although the book is broken into five-page vignettes, we get a complete story for each character. The art is beautiful and consistent -- Colleen Coover and Team Gurihiru did two stories each, and one story was done by Ig Guara, the artist on both the 2009 miniseries and the upcoming one.

The stories themselves move at a quick pace, but somehow manage to fit in cute character moments and even some development. For example, Throg's story involves him coming to an important decision regarding his frog clan, and Zabu's story involves a development with his character.

This book is also a nice primer for readers unfamiliar with the original miniseries. Each character gets a chance to show what they add to the team, for the most part, and their character traits -- like Throg's nobility, and Redwing's superior attitude -- shine through.

It also bears mentioning that this book is a nice diversion from all the darkness, violence, and death that pervade the Marvel Universe (and the DC Universe, should you consider it) these days. I had a silly-looking smile on my face the entire time I was reading this.

In short, these stories are action-packed, but leave room for other advancements in character -- you can't ask for more in a short story, and you get it six times in this one-shot. Wow.

The Bad

There are six solo stories in this issue. There are seven Pet Avengers. Seriously, where's Furball? It's very odd that he doesn't get a story. In fact, he doesn't even appear in any of the vignettes -- his only appearances are on the cover and in the cover previews for Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Unleashed #1.

I found Lockheed's vignette to be a little disappointing. It was a cute and enjoyable short, but Lockheed only had a tangential appearance in the story, which was primarily about a human character. That was a missed opportunity.

The Ugly

Although there are 30 story pages (six stories at five pages each), $3.99 is a little steep for this. I felt like I got my money's worth, but it continues to boggle my mind that a book marketed towards children would be among Marvel's most expensive titles. Luckily, the miniseries itself will only be $2.99 a pop.



Collectively, this is about an 8 for story. Sure, they're cute stories aimed at kids, but a lot happens in a skimpy number of pages for each. They get docked a full point for excluding Furball.


I'm going to shock everyone and give this a 10.

Now, before one of the Brits screams "Off with his head!", I should explain myself. As an artist (a hobbyist, anyways), I can appreciate how difficult it is to draw convincing animals. It was Jim Lee that once said that animals are the hardest thing to draw in comics, and he wasn't kidding. Now, try to imagine having to draw animals in action, with emotive faces, and from many angles. Still with me? Now, try to imagine doing that multiple times in every panel! It's a very, very difficult job, and these folks pull it beautifully. Special props go out to the females -- Colleen Coover and the two women of Gurihiru -- who draw the best pages of the issue.


This is a 9. Go out and buy it.


Review by starlord

Tales of the Pet Avengers

Though I spent most of my life resisting the whole concept of superhero animals (other than Krypto who deserves the Animal Hall of Fame status), Pet Avengers has become one of my favorite books in the last twelve months. The Frog of Thunder is by far my favorite character out of all of them, but there isn't a weak one in the bunch. This first issue are vignettes that show each animal in their own natural habitat.

Each one is entertaining, but unfortunately I don't think the Lockheed story really measures up to the others. On the flip side of that, the Redwing story is by far head and shoulders above the rest. A nice tale that actually humanizes The Falcon's less famous partner.

I can't say enough about this series. I'm glad they came out with a second one, and if you haven't had a chance to read the first one, please pick it up. The Pet Avengers chasing after the Infinity Gauntlet is a story that I think will some day become a real classic.

Story: 8
Art: 8.5
My Score: 8.25

petavengers_08.jpgReview by Jubilee

Tails of the Pet Avengers

I've read this comic now, and wow did I ever have a good time reviewing it!!!!

Let's start with the name of the book shall we! Tails of the Pet Avengers!. Tails, as in pets have tails, and we're going to be reading many tales ahead. It was at this point I realised this book wasn't for me.

First story is a tale of Frog Thor.. who is like Thor... only in Frog form, once I'd regained my composure, and started reading the comic again, was I in for a treat. It appears frog Thors clan of frogs, were under attack from a crocodile. What follwed was a three page fight scene with a crocodile. It was like a normal comic fight but with... animals. So to recap we get five pages of story, of which 60% are a fight between a character I couldn't care less about, and three crocodiles. Not a great start for the book. This is still probably my favorite story though.

Then comes a Zabu comic! Was I ever excited. Zabu has found a dead dinosaur, some other dinosaurs fight him, and then he takes the original dead dinosaurs home. "I wonder what Ka-zar will think" exclaims Zabu. "Perhaps things can change in the savage land". If the art wasn't great in this story, I would have forgotten it even quicker.

This is when the comic falls apart. Some dog that Aunt May has gets it's own five page comic, and Spidertour jizzes his pants, whilst I die a little bit more inside. The first panel has the dialogue "yip" making it the third story to use that phrase so far. Apparently Aunt May has taken her dog on a cruise. We are then treated to a verbal fight between a seagul and a dog. The seagull teases the dog for being a "lap warmer". Awesome stuff! Aunt Mays dog then discovers a plan by two chefs to poison everyone on the ship, and then rob the ships casino. A stupid enough plan to begin with, but then when Aunt Mays dog pretends to eat a bit of the food, and pretends to "play dead" one of the chef feels bad and admits to trying to poison the entire ship. It's this chefs character which appeals to me the most. I especially like the scene where he's picking up peoples plates and throwing them onto the floor yelling about him poisoning the food. A great plan from a great character is foiled again by Aunt Mays stupid dog.

Lockheeds story next! Lockheed fights the criminal "mad dog". Who as the scientist explains is a suprecriminal spliced with the genes of a "Mad dog" When Lockheed is around "I guess his primal instincts take over and he becomes well.. a MAD DOG" the comic tells us. Mad Dog is such an awesome character, and I was truly shocked when Lockheed defeated him. When Lockheed takes the stick of terrigen mists that Mad Dog stole back to the Inhumans, he's scolded and told "No I won't play fetch". At this point I set the comic down, a single tear rolled down my cheek, but somehow I forced myself to continue.

If you've got this far into the comic and want to read Lockheed turn up as some fat dragon girls date to prom. Then fair enough. Some girl is being bullied at school because she hates people and loves dragons. IMO I think she should be bullied, because that's fucking retarded. Anyway her teacher feels bad for her, and in the end Lockheed turns up with her to prom. So what? Am I supposed to care that some lame girl has now seen Lockheed. She's STILL GOT NO REAL LIFE FRIENDS AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE BULLIED. I hated these five pages.

The last story is about Falcons bird and some other pidgeon. There is some puns like "Fantastic Fowl" or "Alpha Flight" they stop a random robber, I guess Falcons Falcon now has a pidgeon sidekick.

The art in this was surprisingly decent.

2 out of 10

Review by Jude Terror

Tails of the Pet Avengers

Story: I started out reviewing each story on its own here, but by the fourth one, I started to realize there really wasn't much to say about them. These are like cartoon shorts. Cute little stories meant to entertain kids, with perhaps a simple moral, or a couple of jokes thrown in there. In some cases, like the Zabu story, I feel it accomplishes its mission well. In others, like the Frog Thor story, I worry that it is too mired in continuity and in-jokes to be of much value to a new young reader. Then there are stories like the Lockjaw one which clearly seem to be for an older audience.

I wish the book would decide one way or the other what it wants to be. Is it silly fanwank, or is it a clever way to introduce kids to the Marvel U? If it had chosen one or the other (preferably the second), it would rate a higher score.


Art: The art was well done throughout. inconsistent, of course, as it was a different artist on each story, but the colors seemed to mesh well overall and bring it all together somehow. The artist on the first story was named IG, so I expected some improper lawn maintenance, but it was actually very nice. Nothing spectacular, but better than quite a few more mainstream titles.


Overall: 5.5


Review by MrBlack

Tails of the Pet Avengers

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the original Pet Avengers mini. It was a good mix of light humor and superheroics which managed to be kid friendly without being condescending. Now we have a Pet Avengers one-shot before their second mini (previously an ongoing) launches next month. This comic features six vignettes covering almost every member of the team. Furball is not featured, but perhaps his absence will be covered in the next mini (or perhaps he's just spending time with his newly non-insane former master).

The first story covers Frog Thor's bittersweet reunion with his tribe. This story pretty much has it all: a very brief summary of the previous mini, action, emotion, and perhaps the best art in the issue. It also manages to establish the nobility of its main character in a scant five pages, which is quite the feat.

The next story covers Zabu coming to the rescue of a pair of T-Rex hatchlings in the Savage Land. Again, this short story is able to establish a central facet of Zabu's character and show that he is more than what he appears to be in a bare handful of pages. The art here is not as detailed as the Frog Thor story, but it is clean and expressive.

The third story features Ms. Lion, May Parker's pet (male) dog. Ms. Lion was the Rick Jones or Snapper Carr of the group during their last outing, but showed his heroism during the final fight with Thanos. Here, Ms. Lion again establishes that he's far more than he appears, as he manages to stop a plot to rob a cruise ship through nothing more than his own quick thinking. It's a simple story, but it is good to see Ms. Lion continuing to act the hero outside of the team. The art is cute, and a good match for its title hero.

Lockjaw takes on Mad Dog for the Terrigen Mists in the fourth story. As in the prior Pet Avengers mini, Lockjaw manages to save the day without any acknowledgment from his human (or rather, Inhuman) masters. The art here looks almost like a modern Saturday morning cartoon in comic form, but I see that as a good thing. The characters are all very expressive and the layouts are effective at conveying the story.

I was not as fond of the Lockheed story as I was the others. We only see Lockheed in a few panels over the course of the story, with the main character instead being a high school girl constantly teased for being an introverted dragon loving weirdo. I have zero sympathy for this girl. When Lockheed finally does show up, the effect is not to help the girl make new friends and break out of her shell, but instead to drive people away and pull the girl deeper into her fantasy world. What a horrible story! The art here is well done, but really is not my cup of tea. It's very "Sunday Comics" looking.

petavengers_11.jpgThe final story features Redwing, the Falcon's, umm, falcon, as he tries to stop a robbery with the help of Melvin, his biggest fan (and a pigeon!). Melvin ends up saving the day, with Redwing getting a bit of comeuppance for his arrogance. At the end of the day, both Melvin and the readers learn a powerful lesson about what truly motivates superheroes: guilt! The art here is serviceable, but not the best match for the story; unlike the Ms. Lion piece, it is not really the best fit for the title character.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable comic. The vignettes, with one exception, accomplished the goal of highlighting the main features of each character's personality, while showing that each is a hero in his own right. The Lockheed story was the only downside to this issue; I wish the writers had given us a Furball feature instead, especially since Lockheed has been getting more face-time of late in S.W.O.R.D. Still, this was an excellent comic and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a classic, fun superhero story.

Story: 8.5
Art: 8.5
Overall: 8.5


Choker #1 can't really have a group score until we have at least as many reviews for it as we had for Amber Atoms #1, but there's no need to wait for Tails of the Pet Avengers which has totaled a group score of 7.04.  Tails of the Pet Avengers has quickly made a place for itself in the Review Group's Hall of Infamy.  You simply have to read this week's thread to believe it.

For Jubilee's Guide to Hooking Up and how it relates to all-ages comics, join us in this week's thread found in the News Stand forum where you are also invited to post your own review. 
Post your own review or make a comment.
starlord has the pick for February 17th and he has selected Supergirl #50 from DC Comics.  Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning to join in on the fun.

Supergirl #50

Written by Sterling Gates, Helen Slater and Jake Black
Art by Jamal Igle, Jon Sibal and Cliff Chiang

Special celebratory 50th issue! Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle reunite to tell an epic, oversized battle royale between the Girl of Steel and a mysterious, diabolical new foe! Still reeling from last issue's harrowing events, Supergirl is put to the test when she uncovers a terrible secret about her friend and confidant, Lana Lang.

Plus! A look into a day in the life of the Girl of Steel written by Jake Black and Supergirl herself, actress Helen Slater!

Featuring a cover by the man who redefined Supergirl for the 21st century, Michael Turner, SUPERGIRL #50 is an extra-sized extravaganza you won't want to miss!

Superman | 56pg. | Color | $4.99 US

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