"Gotham's" Cory Michael Smith Savors the Arrival of the Riddler
Warlord of Io
Written and Illustrated by James Turner
Writers like Jeff Parker, Matt Fraction, Fred Van Lente, and Paul Tobin rightfully deserve to be at the top of the People Who Make Awesome list, but they get something of an advantage by being able to throw stuff like the Hulk or MODOK or Galactus into their stories. Not that it’s an unfair advantage. These guys got to play with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s toys by first showing what they could do with the stuff in their own rooms. But right up there with them has to be James Turner.
He may not have the exposure of those other guys, but he’s no less Rip-Your-Brain-Out-Of-Your-Head-Because-You-Won’t-Need-It-Anymore-After-This Awesome. If you’ve read Rex Libris, you know what I’m talking about, but baby he was just getting warmed up there. Warlord of Io and Other Stories has five stories in it and they’re all fantastic.
Half of it is the first chapter of the “Warlord of Io” story. I thought this was going to be a self-contained one-shot, but I’m happy to be wrong about that because I really want to read more of it. It’s about a boy named Zing who just wants to be a rock star, but unfortunately has to take over ruling the moon-world when his father Emperor Zoz suddenly decides to retire to the Pleasure Domes of Zur with Enormous Breasted Space Amazons in Zero Gravity. What’s a poor little Crown Prince to do?
His best friend Moxy Comet has some ideas, but they’re going to get Zing into trouble with the Imperial Ion Hub of Noble Generals, a cabal of warmongerers who really don’t care for Zing and Moxy’s new policies. It sort of reminded me of Lady Jane, but with Hopping Robofish Guardbots and Tiki Pirates. I loved Lady Jane, but man would it ever have been better with some Tiki Pirates.
The Tiki Pirates don’t actually appear in the “Warlord” story – they’re mentioned as background to one of Moxy’s adventures – but lucky for us Turner doesn’t just throw something that awesome out there without doing anything with it. There’s a great Tiki Space Warrior pin-up on the back cover and the Tiki Pirates actually do show up to menace Earth in a one-page story starring Supreme Commander Dan. Their “most terrible weapon”: The Dread Buttocks Beast. What other comic is going to offer you dialogue like, “Nuke that giant butt!” You show it to me and I’ll read it.
The other three stories are “Hell Lost,” “The Democrat of Globcorp,” and “Tales of the Inanimate Chair.” That last one is pretty self-explanatory, so I’ll leave it for you to discover. “Hell Lost” follows a demonic cop with a desk job as he suffers through endless paperwork and the gloating of a rival detective who has tickets to the Hitler vs. Stalin Smackdown Match. Even considering that he’s in Hell this poor schmuck has a relatively rotten deal, but Turner doesn’t do bleak and this story’s no exception. Our Officer Muk eventually will have his day, but even if he doesn’t it’s great fun watching him persistently endure all that his miserable life throws at him.
“The Democrat of Globocorp” is a steampunk story brought to you by the Lacunan Foundation. It offers us the story of an employee on his first day at Globocorp. It’s fun watching Percival Proll take the dirigible to work and ride the elevator down from the roof of the Globocorp Tower to the office of the President. It’s even more fun watching Proll discuss Globocorp’s company values with his new boss. I’d tell you more about it, but that would ruin the gag. And it’s a good gag.
Oh, yeah. I didn’t tell you that there’s also a map. Turner is famous for his insanely detailed maps and there’s one on the inside front cover, right before the “Warlord” story. It’s a map of the Jupiter Subsystem that includes Io and about fifty-thousand other features – both on/in Jupiter and in orbit around it – like the Polyp Behemoths and Space Mall III. Once you’re done reading the comic, you can make up a gazillion other stories on your own just looking at the map.
Five out of five Tiki Pirates.