Star Pilot #11
It’s a good thing that Frank printed the title at the end of this book, because if I just had to go by the cover I would have made a mess of that title. This is part of his series of comics that mostly aren’t related to each other, numbering system be damned. This time around things are awfully lyrical and we get an extended flashback to start things off. Our hero tries to escape but ends up having to jump off of a boat (he was a stowaway), and almost dies at sea but is instead saved by dolphins. Things didn’t improve for awhile even when he gets back to shore, but he eventually uses his skills to build up a steady business. Which is where his son comes into things, and which is where the action promised on that front cover starts to pick up. Once again I can’t say too much more without getting into spoilers, but I did have some slight trouble with the ending, so maybe don’t read the rest of the review if you really don’t want to know. I did enjoy the comic, as I’ve enjoyed most of this series, so take that as the ending of the review for you. For the rest of you, there is some trouble with making payments towards the local crime lord, and at the end of the book the son of our hero puts on a costume, steals the payments for that week and gives them back to the shop owners. If there’s more coming in this story, never mind any complaints that I might have. If this was another single issue story, it seems to me like things would escalate in a hurry right after a crime lord had all of his weekly payments stolen, and that that wouldn’t be the end of the story, as was implied here. Or maybe I missed something. I did enjoy his smaller panels for the flashbacks, as that really gave the flashback room to breathe, and I don’t think Frank is capable of putting out a boring comic. I just had a slight problem with the logic of the ending.
Star Pilot #10
Has there ever been a leading man named “Chest” before? Because “Chest Palmero” is one of the better names for a boxer that I’ve ever heard. This comic is unconnected from past issues, so don’t worry about being lost by that “#10” on the cover. Things start out with Chest stealing some food as a little kid in 1932. He’s chased down by the robot police (suggesting that maybe this is not quite the 1932 that we were thinking of) and, given the chance to surrender or fight, he fights. We don’t see what happens in that fight but instead are moved forwards to 1955 as Chest is defeated by a robot for his boxing championship. From there we get to learn a bit more about these robots and Chest’s plan to take them all down. I love how damned near every panel that Frank draws has such a manic energy to it. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen biting into an apple done as an action panel, and there’s a constant sense of forward motion to go along with all the general weirdness. The perspective is a little bit off here and there (when Chest chokes the homeless guy I’d swear the guy’s head shrinks quite a bit), but that’s a minor quibble for such a fun story. Buy some of his books, the guy deserves a reward for making it to double digits. $2
Star Pilot #9
I have this vague sense that Frank tuned down the madness just a touch for this issue which, don’t get me wrong, still leaves plenty of madness. And I mean that in the best possible sense, because the man puts out some ridiculously entertaining comics. Probably just my imagination. Anyway, this one will seem topical, as it’s all about a government that monitors everything and oppresses its citizens. For some reason this is in the news now, in the middle of 2013 (o future readers), and not so much when these actual policies were initially implemented, but that’s a whole other conversation. This one is set in 2084 (wisely following the rule of setting your future stories far enough ahead so that you’ll be dead when that date actually occurs) in a world dominated by Brother Goliath. The motivations for Brother Goliath are left vague, but they’re probably the same types of things that always motivate world conquerors. Anyway, one man is still broadcasting his message of dissent, and he is confronted and shot by another man early on in the proceedings. From there we learn a bit about Mantis Unit, a resistance group that is thought to be long since destroyed, and I’m about to start getting into serious spoilers. Battles ensue, some fantastically over the top actions take place (I particularly enjoyed the guy who shot the broadcaster explaining himself to a quizzical cat), and we get to see an eyeball in the palm of a hand used as a weapon. Frank seems to be keeping these issues more of less self-contained, so don’t worry about jumping in on #9 of a series. You could also solve that problem by ordering some of his back issues, but I’m not the boss of you. $1.25
Star Pilot #8
So here’s one possible spoiler alert to start the review, although I’m not at all sure that it’s a spoiler: this issue is a prequel to the first issue in this series. I checked on his website and Frank has all of the past issues up for free, so it’s not as bad of an idea as I originally thought, but it would still help if that information was given out at the start of the issue. But hey, who am I to tell the man his business? This also means that I’ll have to go back and read the entire series now that I can see that he has a clear plan, but I don’t have the time at the moment, so consider this another half-assed review. Huzzah! Well, I will use my whole ass to review this particular issue, which sounds terrible, so let’s just forget that I said it. This is one of those rare cases where I used the first page as the sample page, so you can see how he starts things off. From there we meet Kid Sampson, see a calamity at an air show, learn the truth about the minotaur myth, have possibly the quickest saving of the world that I’ve ever seen (hey, it’s a prequel; it’s kind of a given that the world will be saved), and even get a very brief glimpse of the monkey. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the madcap charm of the issues of this series that I’ve read so far, and this one is slightly lacking in that department (which is bound to happen when the monkey and the rhino are absent), but their loss is allowed because now I can see that Frank is building something here. That wasn’t entirely clear to begin with, but it instantly makes to curious to see more. And to read the earlier issues, which you could do right now if the mood struck you. He has everything up there except for this one. No price, but a couple of bucks sounds reasonable.
Star Pilot #7
This is apparently the issue where all ties with space pilots, rhinos and chimps went by the wayside. Which is a shame, as this issue is much more straightforward than previous issues, but it’s impossible for it not to lose some of that madcap charm in the process. This is the story of a journalist who goes to study the musical history of a country that had been violently overthrown 40 years earlier, leading the new dictator to erase all records of music and the musical history of the country. The journalist finds one image in the archive that hasn’t been completely blacked out and goes on a quest to get to the bottom of things. From there we get a retelling of the history of the region before our hero does manage to find the mysterious musician from the photograph, which leads right into the finale. You know, come to think of it, that chimp might just be the journalist. It’s hard to say for sure, but he sure looks a lot like a monkey. And yes, even though the story has been toned down a bit from previous issues, the art is still inspired in its lunacy. Frank does a great job with his “camera angles” for panel placement, which is more than enough to make up for the fairly straightforward story. Which, again, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’ve been trained for two issues to expect more outside-the-box kind of stuff. So if you’re looking for more complete madness you should check out some earlier issues, while if you like your madness tempered just a bit then you’ll be just fine with this one. No price listed (I’m guessing somewhere around $3-4), and you can see the first few pages for free at Frank’s website.
Star Pilot #6
Is two issues enough for a pattern? Because if it is then it’s safe to conclude that this comic has nothing to do with stars and only very little to do with pilots. Unless maybe either the monkey or the rhino (see the last review for this guy if you’re confused) is a licensed pilot, that is. Anyway, this one starts off with a musical genius who makes one mistake in his performance. The papers go crazy because of this error, so the musician finally decides that he has to get away from all the negativity and do something new. He finds a mountain that has never been successfully scaled and makes his way up, but comes across some small and starving birds. He decides to save them and give up his quest for personal glory, but the mountain remains treacherous and he still has to make it down alive. Oh, and the monkey and rhino from the last issue also play a very small but crucial role in things. This one lacked the sheer insanity that was #5 of this series and instead went with something like 85% insanity. That’s more than enough for me, and this comic was a lot of fun, even if page 14 did feature a ridiculously out of proportion yeti. Pretty sure this is also still $1, and the entire comic is up at Frank’s website at the moment if you wanted to read it for yourself. Of course, it’s better to buy it, so maybe just read a few pages to know that you either will or won’t like it.
Star Pilot #5
I’ll sometimes warn you reader folks not to judge a book by its cover. Obvious advice, I know, and not exactly insightful, but people sometimes ignore it anyway. Take, for example, this cover. There’s so much going on here (zombie shadow? man on a motorcycle riding to the rescue? barbed wire? bullseye?) that I was genuinely curious to see what happened inside, but I can see some people maybe passing this by if they saw it in a store. One look at that sample below should change your mind. Granted, this is a bit late in the story and it’s possible that I shouldn’t give away who was really in that special agent suit, but it’s so thoroughly ridiculous that I just couldn’t help it. And no, I am not laughing AT this. I think it may just be brilliant, but even if it isn’t Frank still gets serious points for originality. The story may wander just a bit, or maybe that’s just because I haven’t read the previous issues and don’t know the whole story. This is about a team of a monkey and a rhino who are trying to deliver medicine to some sick baby possums. Really, I could stop right there, but this kind of analysis is why you guys pay the big (imaginary) bucks, right? While this is going on there’s a scientist with a crisis of conscience who is trying to smuggle some designs for a delightfully vague doomsday device out of the country before they can be used. From there we get the backstory of this scientist and how he came to be the hero and we see the monkey and the rhino trying to save the possums. I don’t want to say much more, but I will say that “Use my back as a ramp! It’s the only way!” was a thing of beauty. The art is maybe a bit dicey at times, but kudos to Frank for getting to #5 in his series, not to mention the complete lack of spelling errors. That’s more rare than you might think, but it’s always welcome. You can get a copy of this for $1 and, if that’s too rich for your blood, you can always check some samples at his site first. $1