Mr. Stuffins #1 Review

Mr. Stuffins #1Think of this title as Reverse Chucky. Instead of a doll terrorizing children, and adults alike, we have a teddy bear helping them.

From Andrew Cosby and Johanna Stokes, who have written the excellent BOOM! series Eureka and Station, respectively, comes this impressively cuddly debut. It had me smirking and fondly recalling my own carefree days of playing with my He-Man figures and G.I Joes. Ah, good times. This is a boy’s own adventure – literally, but it does have a healthy dose of dark humour and adventure. Like BOOM!’s other series, such as The Incredibles, or The Muppet Show Comic Book, this is something parents could read with their kids, with both getting enjoyment from it.

It begins with a scientist running from the agency he works for. Upon creating Artificial Intelligence, he flees from his nefarious employers and runs to the closest toy shop, where he swaps his CD with that of an interactive teddy bear. At the same time, David, a bath salesman recently separated from his fed up wife, is taking his son Zach out for a bit of shopping. After waving masculine gifts infront of his face, Zach decides to go for Mr. Stuffins instead. The rest of the issue is focused on Zach as he discovers his teddy’s unique skill set and gets frustrated with his lack of singing and bed-time story telling abilities. After all, that’s what the box promised! It’s like a premise of a classic 1980s film that was never made.

I could hear Mr. Stuffin’s gruff, take charge voice every time he spoke. He ties up a lifeless pink bunny for interrogation, beats up school bullies and mocks Zach’s parents. Yet he’s a loveable rascal. While elements of Buzz Lightyear and the 1998 film Small Soldiers may be apparent to some, this is still a refreshing concept. Zack is old enough to know that a teddy bear with military skills is not normal, yet young enough to just accept him as a new, though reluctant, friend.

I can see why this was a sell-out when it first appeared, and now that it’s returned with new art by Axel Medellin, it will surely garner new fans. Medellin draws with great expression. His figure work is simple, yet fluid enough and from the moment Mr. Stuffins’ eyes alight and he sits up, fully aware, I was sold on the approach. It has some great pacing and truly witty lines, that I won’t do the disservice of spoiling here. Let’s just say that I haven’t been entertained with cuddly toys for many years, yet I now want a Mr. Stuffins for Christmas.

Mr. Stuffins #1 pg7

Mr. Stuffins #1 pg8

Mr. Stuffins Returns

Now I’ve never heard of this series about the secret agent teddy bear, but apparently his debut two years ago was quite popular. Now he’s back in a 3 ish mini, starting in April. Official press release below.

MR. STUFFINS IS BACK!
MY TEDDY BEAR’S A SECRET AGENT!
With covers by MOUSE GUARD’S David Peterson

mstuffins_001aMr. Stuffins returns featuring covers by MOUSE GUARD”s David Peterson! Written by EUREKA creator Andrew Cosby and EUREKA staff writer Johanna Stokes, MR. STUFFINS is a tale of intrigue and suspense, and all before bedtime! For fans of TOY STORY and BURN NOTICE, MR. STUFFINS will have you wondering if your toy’s kung fu grip is for real!

David Petersen of MOUSE GUARD acclaim will be supplying all the A covers for the entire three issue run. MR. STUFFINS #1 will be shipping this April.

MR. STUFFINS follows the saga of a talking teddy bear that has been accidentally implanted with a chip, granting him the skills of the deadliest secret agents and mercenaries on the planet! Mr. Stuffins has to protect his new owner, Zachary, as evil forces hunt Mr. Stuffins down to steal his powers. Can this super-secret teddy bear save the day?

The original first issue of MR. STUFFINS shipped nearly two years ago, in April of 2007. All over the country, the original sold out at convention after convention as fans asked the question, “When will issue #2 come out?” Unfortunately, a second issue didn’t follow. “It’s totally my fault, I’ll take the blame,” said BOOM! co-founder Ross Richie. “That year BOOM! really started to boom, and we grew out of control. Thankfully, Mark Waid came in as Editor-in-Chief in 2008 and helped us correct problems like this and get an infrastructure.” Now the bear is back in a completely re-drawn and re-colored first issue with all new art from Axel Medellin, on-time and on-schedule!

The first B cover features a re-colored version of the Joe Abraham original. The B covers for issues 2 and 3 are by Matt Cossin, who worked on METAL HURLANT.

“I’m thrilled to return to the story of MR. STUFFINS,” said MR. STUFFINS co-writer Andrew Cosby. “One of the reasons why EUREKA is so successful is due to its ability to blend the absurd with the realistic, turning the campy into a vehicle for entertainment and, if there’s time, maybe a serious message or two. MR. STUFFINS also scratches that itch!”

MR. STUFFINS #1 (New Edition) features two variant covers in a 50/50 split by David Petersen, Joe Abraham with a Diamond Order Code of FEB094133 and ships this April.

The Remnant #2 Review

prv1994_covThis series from BOOM! Studios made an impression on me last month. I remain impressed. Written by Caleb Monroe from a story by Andrew Cosby and Stephen Baldwin (yes, that one) The Remnant throws in elements involving the supernatural, espionage thrillers and action films into a melting pot and scoops out the juicy bi-products.

There’s more to it than that though, and Cosby and Baldwin weave a taut tale  springing from the first issue, while thrusting the adventure forward. In the first issue CIA agent David Sacker died in an explosion, but was brought back to life by a mysterious man (who himself was saved after dying in Hurricane Katrina). David’s new wife, Sara is taken in for questioning, after Homeland Security discovered her details on the bomber’s corpse. The married couple have no idea why Sara is being treated as a criminal, but the investigators remain unconvinced.

In this issue we learn the identity of the Katrina ‘victim’ who gave David his life back. He’s John Drouin, a small town kid with a juvie record. Agent Fairchild and her team witness footage of the explosion from the first issue, which shows the unharmed John and barely conscious David meeting. David returns home after chasing John in a thrilling sequence from last issue, and finds a bomb in his kitchen, which he disarms before meeting up with his friend Andy. David’s wife, Sara is released, with orders straight from the top, infuriating Agent Fairchild.

Finally, Andy and his amusingly nerdy assistant are attacked by John, who appears to be sleepwalking, or in a trance of some sort. Then a young lady checks into a hotel, unpacks a high-powered rifle and checks her target – Sara Sacker.

The pieces are starting to come together – slowly. Monroe seems to be honing in on a few details and characters, bringing them all together for a showdown. He lays enough hints to keep us guessing, with Sara’s innocence about the whole affair the primary one. However, the silent grey-haired man seen in Sudan in the opening pages, and then again in the office of the Director of Homeland Security must also reveal his true nature soon.

Artist Julian Totino Tedesco continues his stellar work form last issue. With a fluid grace, almost like John Byrne (Fantastic Four) but much better and great use of space on every page, he shows that he’s mastering his craft. He knows when to keep things simple, and when to lay on the details.

This will be one of those series that needs to be read in collected form to gain the full effect of the tale being told, so if you’re new to this series, start with issue #1, or wait for the Trade Paper Back. It really does have pacing similar to any of the numerous cop shows on TV these days, and seeing as there are more unanswered questions at this halfway mark of the series, it can only increase its intensity before issue #4.

The Remnant #2 1

The Remnant #2 2

The Remnant #1 Review

remnant_001bWhen an actor’s name appears on the cover of a comic, us fanboys become skeptical. Heroes hottie Milo Ventimiglia’s name is stamped on Rest from Devil’s Due and more familiar names like Nicolas Cage have had their input on comics, thanks to Virgin (who also had something in the works with Hugh Jackman. I guess we won’t be holding our breath for that one, thanks to their recent downsizing). Kevin Smith seems like the only name that makes fans flock to his comics, regardless of an inconsistent output. And do you notice how it’s usually the indie publishers that pull this? Marvel and DC don’t.

So another actor has his name associated with a comic. A Baldwin brother no less. However, don’t let that deter you. Don’t judge this book by its cover. The first issue is an engrossing start to this mini-series. The story is created by Stephen Baldwin, with help from Andrew Cosby (creator of the TV show Eureka) and is scripted by Caleb Monroe.

Beginning with corpses floating in the street after Hurricane Katrina is an attention grabber. Then to seal the deal one elderly man speaks into the ear of a victim, giving him life. We are then introduced to CIA agent, and newlywed, David Sacker just before he’s caught in an explosion at the Federal Building in L.A while attempting to file marriage papers. David is flung to the ground, clutching his life, just before the man saved in the first few pages passes on the favour, whispering to David and allowing him to return to his very thankful, and amorous, wife. All seems happy for the re-united couple, until a pair of investigators from Homeland Security break the joy by taking Sarah Sacker in for questioning. She, nor David, has any idea why she’s there, despite her name and address being found on the bomber’s body. David is determined to save his wife any way he can and goes home for the night. However, being the on-edge agent that he is, notices a stranger, attacks him and a chase begins. Little does he know that the man he’s silently chasing is the one who saved him in the explosion. Confusion about the mind behind the attack reigns, until a breakthrough in the analysis – the main suspect is the silent Katrina ‘victim’ who apparently is legally dead.

Where this all goes from here is anyone’s guess, but this is a superb set-up. Its mixture of cop-show reality and the supernatural is a classy one. Nothing about this story is over-the-top, but is all handled with a very aware pace. Monroe builds a great rhythm and uses his limited time with the main characters extremely well. In only a few scenes, we know all we need to know about them and their personality shows. It’s a simple tale, but one with enough surprises to entice you further. I dare anyone to not read the next issue after reading this dynamic premiere. Apart from the pacing and characterisation, the greatest highlight is the art.

I’ve never heard of Julian Totino Tedesco. After this, that will change. I would not be surprised if he graduates to the Big Two in a year or so. The action in this issue is minimal.  The explosion and chase are more than needed, and essentially the remaining pages are talking heads. But in Tedesco’s capable hands, they come alive on the page. He’s not afraid to use white space when necessary, and to break panel boundaries and wisely use every page as a new design opportunity. The Federal Building explosion is the best ka-boom I have ever seen on paper and the chase is so varied in its choice of angles that it could be a Spielberg storyboard. Managing natural conversation with scenes of devastation, and a somewhat raunchy make-out scene between the Sackers is a great display of diversity. His art lies somewhere in the vicinity of Frank Cho (Hulk), thanks to the flowing lines and natural expressions. I am so glad BOOM! has enlisted Tedesco. The studio has some truly great titles around, with original ideas, like Challenger Deep and Station, but too often the art is too rough and sketchy and doesn’t give the concepts the support they deserve. If this is a sign of BOOM!’s future, I’ll be definitely be reading more of their stuff.

There is a subtle sense that the world’s not as it is supposed to be running throughout this ish; one that will become more prominent in the next three issues if Baldwin’s rather eloquent intro is to be taken as a promise of things to come. This book has got me. It’s a well rounded package. On every level its just a pleasant surprise.

The Remnant #1 hits stores on Christmas Eve. Grab it.

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