Apologies for the late column. West Coast to East Coast travel always gums up the works. IMJ Capsule Reviews™ will hopefully return to its regular Sunday publishing schedule this week. Please welcome our NEW Reviewer Nick Furi and a GUEST REVIEW by Iron Muskrat… Who, if the gods are willing, might grace us with more reviews in the future…
Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Steve McNiven, John Dell
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Corey Petit
21 pages, $3.99
Ah Mister Bendis… So we meet again. You’re back with another cast of characters… Yet I strangely feel as if I’m reading the same comic time and time again. Maybe I should name this review The Eternal Deja-Vu of the Restless Comic Book Critic. (Note for quick reference: I reviewed Bendis and McNiven’s GOTG Point 1 in March.) Unfortunately, this new #1 Issue is only marginally less lame and tedious than last month’s comic.
The first half of the comic is Typical Bendis™ with his talky-talky rat-a-tat-tat patter and panel upon panel FILLED with hollow dialogue. Central character Peter Quill (aka Starlord) meets his Daddy in the Star Wars Cantina… Er, sorry– a typical sci-fi looking dirty dive of a bar– and they argue. I can sum up the entire confrontation in two bits of dialogue.
“You’re coming with me son, you’re hanging around with the wrong sort of people. We’ve got an empire to run you know!”
“Aw, DAAAAAD! I don’t wanna!! You always harsh up my fun!!!”
After this shitty soap opera sequence is over, we finally get to what the comic should be about– a big fucking space battle… As the Guardians show up in Earth’s orbit and fight the crew of a Badoon Battlecruiser. Oh, and Iron Man gets shoehorned into all this somehow– because, you know, The Avengers. Or something.
Seems a council of “Space Empires” have declared the Earth off-limits (I swear I’ve experienced almost this exact plot before in another Marvel comic) and the Badoon attack because… Well, I don’t really know– probably because they’re just assholes. Bendis never bothers giving us a reason anyway. Doing well so far, Brian Michael B.
The art in GOTG #1 is damn beautiful, due in no small part to the colouring of Justin Ponsor. Everything looks so sharp and detailed. The colours are bright, yet have a flatness that makes them easy on the eye. McNiven’s pencils and inks are very pretty as well, even though he still has the same problems (his layouts lack dynamism) I mentioned in my GOTG Point 1 review. At least he gives the battle at the comic’s end a good try, injecting a passable amount of excitement into the scene.
I do have one very serious criticism of the art though– and it stems from the relative lack of it. The Point 1 comic gave fans 31 pages for Four Bucks (and yes, I’m counting the near-infamous 3 pages of boring, empty outer space art at the beginning of the comic.) GOTG #1 counts out at only 21 pages– the opening page being wasted (again) on boring empty outer space… Plus there are 2 double-page splashes and 2 splash pages. One of the splash pages is a full body picture of Iron Man, which will sell for a huge amount on the original art market. One of the double-page splashes is a huge close up of the entire Guardians team (see above), which will sell for MAH-HOOSIVE amounts of cash when the Guardians movie is released.
Should you buy Guardians of the Galaxy #1? To be honest, I don’t particularly care if you waste your money (some people just can’t be dissuaded when it comes to Marvel.) I will readily admit this first issue at least shows some improvement over the Point 1 comic. So even with the lame plot, awful script and cynical art– it’s a step up from Bendis & McNiven’s last Guardians go-round. – Locusmortis
The Private Eye
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Marcos Martin
Colorist: Munsta Vicente
28 pages, $0 (Pay What You Will)
The Private Eye is one of several new comics available in the digital only format, as established creators seem interested in learning whether their new ideas can succeed without the existence of a print edition.
Brian K. Vaughn and Marcos Martin are attempting to publish their comic using Radiohead’s Pay What You Will pricing program. Just go to panelsyndicate.com and click the “Buy Now” button– picking the price you’re willing to pay. I paid $3. Obviously, if the majority of fans read the comic for free, the project will fail. The good thing about this method: It provides a risk free trial for those new to Vaughn, Marcos, digital comics– or graphic fiction in general. For the rest of us, I would like to think we all will help monetarily in some way.
You can immediately tell The Private Eye is made to be a digital comic. Unlike the majority of the comics you purchase from your favorite comic app, the layouts are meant to be read on a computer screen. (You can also get the story on your phone or tablet.) It might be a bit more of a process (it was for me), but it still works. The layouts are more horizontal than vertical– making the pages an easily read on a computer. The result kind of looks like double-page spread, with multiple panels per page. While it all takes a bit to get used to (especially if you only read print comics), the story is quite easy to follow.
The concept is very unusual. BKV and Martin’s story is about a futuristic world where people do not use the internet anymore… Yet, the comic is presented in a completely digital format. I like the contrast between the fantasy and our reality.
The second page told me this story was going to be a little crazy… As I see what I believe is Peeping Tom attempting to take pictures of a woman undressing. But once she starts taking off her clothes, I quickly realize this sexy lady is just a façade. In ONE page, Vaughn reveals she is wearing fake skin– as her appearance is a costume. The main character, known currently as Patrick Immelann, is a paparazzi/private eye. Soon after Patrick snaps a few pictures he gets spotted by another reporter… Or a cop (this is something I hope BKV explains at a later date) and a chase ensues. But this scene isn’t just filler (like many of the superhero books I’ve read of late), it actually helps progress the story. The sequence also ingeniously defines the differences between this world and ours.
A great splash page reminds me of the first time Luke Skywalker walks into the Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars A New Hope. Funky creatures and characters fill the scene. We soon learn these creatures are nyms– holographic/fake appearances people have developed to hide their identities. This plot point directly explains why humans no longer use the internet. Seems an “event” occurred where everyone’s personal information (including their dark secrets) were leaked and viewed by everyone else after being stored in a centralized “Cloud” computer. These new outer shells are what people wear to hide their true identities.
I could keep going on and on… As so much plot is packed into this one “issue”. (Which seems to be a creator-owned comic book trend– they obviously know the fans want lots of story, something the Big Two publishers have conveniently forgotten.) It would be a major faux pas if I didn’t mention Marcos Martin’s art. I am new to his work, but I’m already a huge fan. His art is clean, crisp– simple when needed and detailed when necessary. The colors by Muntsa Vicente match Martin’s style perfectly. Vicente’s unique swatches of color are inviting and pleasing to the eye.
The only thing I could complain about– which isn’t something I probably should complain about– is how Vaughn sets up a lot of mysteries in this issue. I just hope all my questions are answered by the end… And the writer doesn’t still possess some of the bad habits he may have learned from the LOST television series– and he forgets about some of the mysteries he’s brought forth.
Even though this is a Pay What You Will comic, I highly recommend you toss some money their way. – Nick Furi
Green Hornet #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Daniel Indro
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: Troy Pereri
25 Pages, $3.99
On occasion, I deal with prolonged bouts of insomnia. These episodes are more than a bit terrible– lasting anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. I seriously wouldn’t wish this affliction on my worst enemy. The lack of sleep can also make concentrating on anything for too long somewhat problematic (which is probably why I watch a lot of TV and movies during the long days and nights.) Even reading comics can turn into a chore– as I re-read the same pages over and over… My tired brain refusing to absorb any useful information. Anyway, I read my two review books this week after suffering from almost a week of extremely erratic sleep… So feel free to keep my insomnia in mind when reading through my ramblings. 🙂
Before today, I had yet to review a Dynamite Entertainment comic because, honestly, nothing they publish ever remotely interested me. That’s not to say the company doesn’t publish some good stuff (Ian has praised their trades in the past) but reading a comic whose cover forces me to give it the involuntary stink-eye doesn’t seem like the right way to go about writing a decent or professional review. Then last week, while compiling 115 comic book covers for our weekly Rate the Covers™ post (this is when I usually decide which comics I want to review), I finally came across a Dynamite book that intrigued me enough to want to read it– Green Hornet #1. I wasn’t interested because I’m a fan of the Green Hornet (I assure you I’m not), but rather because Mark Waid wrote it.
I guess the big question is,”Did Waid write a compelling and enjoyable book– enough to make me a Green Hornet fan?” The answer is, “Yes. At least for now.”
I have no idea what was contained between the covers of the 20 (or so) different Green Hornet titles Dynamite flooded the market with over the last couple of years. And I also can’t tell you what Mark Waid’s Green Hornet has in common with any of them– if anything at all. But I can tell you this: Mark Waid has written, in essence, a cool pulp comic book.
Setting his story in 1940s Chicago, Waid weaves in enough varied elements to make Green Hornet #1 feel full of rich context, as if it is only a small part of a greater world and a larger legacy. There are mentions of what other “heroes” like The Shadow are doing in different parts of the country and it’s even revealed Britt Reid’s (aka The Green Hornet) great-uncle is the Lone Ranger. Is this actual canon or just a way for Dynamite to interconnect the various licensed characters they are publishing? You’ll have to tell me, because I truly don’t have a clue.
Waid’s Green Hornet has made inroads into underground crime– essentially making GH the world’s first Super-Villain… Which, in turn, makes his alter-ego Britt Reid the actual hero of the book– when he runs stories exposing corruption and crime in the newspaper he publishes. I really enjoyed this particular character duality. It makes the book more interesting than the average comic.
Daniel Indro’s art is by far the best I’ve seen in any Dynamite comic. (Just because I don’t read their books doesn’t mean I haven’t flipped through my fair share of them at the shop.) Without Indro’s art, this series would easily be another awful-looking Dynamite comic– but the effort he puts in shows. The best thing I like about Indro’s art? 25 pages of story and only 1 splash page. There’s a lot of storytelling here, which made me feel a little better– since the book DOES cost $3.99. Colorist Marcio Menyz also deserves a lot of credit for making the book worth the cover price.
As tired and out of it as I was when I read it, Green Hornet #1 kept my attention all the way through… Which is not an easy feat during these insomnia-plagued times. Unlike a lot of recent #1 issues, all the elements came together to make a very nice surprise. I think the biggest compliment I can give this comic is that it did make me want to check out the next issue– and I definitely will be.
– Jose Melendez
Green Hornet #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Daniel Indro
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: Troy Pereri
25 Pages, $3.99
I can remember watching TV re-runs of the Green Hornet as a kid… And I loved the campy fight scenes. Over the last few years, we’ve seen several attempts to bring the Hornet into the modern age. There was a campy movie, a female Kato… And now, here we are again with another reboot.
When I started reading the first page of Green Hornet #1, I instantly thought the words could’ve easily been spoken by a good friend over a cigar and stiff drink. Scripter Mark Waid tells a good story. The exposition is heavy at times, but that’s to be expected in a first issue– as Waid lays out information for new readers who may not be familiar with Green Hornet and his world. Waid attempts to rapidly explain how Green Hornet operates, as he runs a sting operation to ensnare the criminal underworld. The comic book writer is staying true to the source material– the adventures of the Green Hornet and Kato take place in the 40’s, when the daily newspaper was the most trusted source for information. This comic, of course, is a setup issue… But this plays to Waid’s strengths, as he layers the exposition with seeds for future stories.
Daniel Indro’s straight-forward art is perfect for this book. I particularly enjoyed the layouts: In more than one panel Indro seamlessly integrates a flashback, a newspaper headline and an action scene– and makes it all look like his way is the only way to design the page. With so many artists overreaching for big two-page splash scenes (that are little more than eye candy), it’s refreshing to see unique, fresh page layouts and designs.
Overall Green Hornet #1 is a solid book with a strong creative team worth checking out. – Tim Tash
Green Hornet #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Daniel Indro
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: Troy Pereri
25 Pages, $3.99
I know nothing about the Green Hornet… And when I write nothing– I mean I have never read a Green Hornet comic. I also skipped the recent movie, which is unlike me (though I’ve heard I saved myself some valuable time.) I was looking for something new and different at my LCS the other day, and was surprised when the owner mentioned the new Green Hornet title. Given my lack of familiarity with the character, I was going to pass it by… Until he also mentioned Mark Waid was writing it. Mark Waid? Well I had to try Green Hornet #1 then– since Waid is currently killing it in the comic book industry.
For a first issue, GH #1 is actually pretty good. The intro (the first 5 pages) builds a solid foundation for the character. Half-way through, I’d already gotten the majority of the backstory I needed to invest myself in the character. After reading the comic, I decided to search Wikipedia to see if my suspicions concerning changes in the character’s established mythos were correct. As far as I could tell, Green Hornet has always been a hero/vigilante. But this story provides a nice change– making Britt Reid the hero and labeling his alter ego Green Hornet as a supervillain.
I really enjoyed the first half of the story, as the Green Hornet sets up a fake criminal persona and collects information to create sting operations against his “fellow” criminals. The second half– which deals more with Britt Reid and how he passes the Green Hornet information safely to the public via the press– wasn’t terrible, but it did feel a little rushed. The pacing seemed to shift and the transitions from panel-to-panel and page-to-page seemed off. Thankfully, the dialogue and characterizations were never out of step– keeping me invested in the overall story. I think I found the first half more interesting simply because the Green Hornet is more exciting than Britt Reid. The editor of the Daily Sentinel seems to exist only to provide an excuse for the Green Hornet to keep his supervillain persona.
Daniel Indro does a decent job on art duties… Even if I did find his use of shading to be problematic. Some art looks too dark– especially on some faces. The murkiness causes various characters to appear much older than the script portrays them… Or makes the characters look like they are wearing masks– which is off-putting.
There is some fun dialogue in this book– including a few great one-liners and a couple of running gags about a lost camera and a mahogany table. I like how the flashbacks are colored in blacks and greys. This technique makes it easy to distinguish past events from the present. Another thing I enjoyed: For the most part, this is a one-and-done story– with the last page leaving a bit of a cliff-hanger for the following issue.
Even though the comic has many positives, there was something… Off. It could be my lack of interest in the character or, more likely, the odd pacing in the second half that took me out of the story. Green Hornet #1 is still better than most #1 issues and Waid easily proves he can produce an interesting story with a lesser-known character. But an interesting story and a great story are not necessarily mutually inclusive. This comic felt average to me… But then again, a mediocre Mark Waid comic is a lot better than the majority of comics currently published by the Big Two. – Nick Furi
East of West #1
Out of the Wasteland
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Colorist: Frank Martin
31 pages, $3.99
So THIS is where the real Jonathan Hickman has been hiding!
East of West #1 is the polar opposite of the decompressed shit he’s hacking out in Marvel’s The Avengers every couple of weeks… So much so, reading Hickman’s latest creator-owned effort is like suddenly being offered a succulent steak after a long diet of rice crackers.
There is a HUGE amount of plot contained inside the pages of this pamphlet. I’ll try to boil it down as succinctly as possible: It’s an alternative history of the United States– starting from a point in the Civil War– where a conjunction of supernatural events and an Indian uprising lead to the breakup of the USA into 7 different countries. Fast forward to the middle of the 21st century, as three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are cutting a swathe of destruction through the Midwest in the search of their missing fourth member.
It took a couple of reads to actually get what the hell was going on but when all the clues came together in my mind, I was impressed. This is typical Hickman high-concept stuff, but it isn’t tame like his Marvel work. The Avengers is like “Hickman for Dummies,” whereas East of West is the real deal for the discerning comic fan.
One criticism I do have: The main character, Death (also the leader of the Horsemen), looks so much like Garth Ennis’ “Saint of Killers” that, aside from the lack of colour used to delineate him– they could practically be the same. Nick Dragotta’s character designs for the other two horsemen– a female Indian warrior and a male Indian chief– are outstanding, as is his art in general. The art looks good enough to be in a European graphic novel rather than a normal monthly comic book. (I hope they give East of West the hardcover treatment in the future.)
Dragotta’s art also has a restrained feeling in the opening pages, as Hickman lays down the context for his story in narration boxes. But when the main action starts– despite sticking to fairly rigid panel layouts, Dragotta’s work still manages to effectively move the story into a higher gear. Most of the ultra-violence inflicted by the Horsemen is shown in shadows or hinted at off-panel… But that’s where the cleverness lies. This technique forces readers to IMAGINE what is happening, instead of shoving it in our collective faces.
Frank Martin’s colours and Rus Wooten’s letters are so sympathetic to the art, you don’t really notice them at first. (That’s a big compliment from my frame of reference.) Martin & Wooten’s work fits so well, the story and art merge into one effective package. As one would expect from one of Hickman’s creator-owned projects, East of West #1 also features several interesting pages filled with introduction and back-matter.
I suppose I can’t blame Hickman for using his Marvel stuff to pay the bills– while he puts his actual creativity into his Image projects. I’m guessing the real blame lies at Marvel’s door… For not compensating creators properly and insisting on draconian contracts that control and keep them from giving the publisher their most innovative ideas. The Avengers is what it is because Marvel treats its writers and artists like factory workers… As if they’re putting together widgets instead of creating interesting comics. And this situation will remain the same as long as people keep buying Marvel’s stuff.
Best advice I can give you? Lay off The Avengers and buy East of West instead.
Angel & Faith #20
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Letterers: Richard Starkings,
22 pages, $2.99
Angel and Faith #13 was the first comic I reviewed for our now weekly IMJ Capsule Reviews™ column. Since I’m revisiting the series again, I thought it would be prudent to also re-read my original review. It was an interesting read, mainly because I could almost cut-and-paste the old review here and everything in it would still be relevant. I say “almost” only because there are a few things which Angel & Faith #20 does better– making it even more enjoyable than the previous issue I reviewed.
First off, this comic should have been the one where artist Rebekah Isaacs takes her usual “issue off” before starting the next story arc. Interesting enough, she didn’t take a break this time– when all is said and done, she will have drawn the last 10 issues of Angel & Faith Season 9 uninterrupted. As always, her art is amazing… With absolutely no drop in quality. If anything, her line work looks better than ever. Even more impressive: Like Green Hornet #1, Isaac’s comic is filled with wall-to-wall storytelling, with no static splash pages in sight. Panels and panels of action, conversation and detail– all equally as great looking as the last. If Isaacs does not win a prestigious award this year for her work on this run, the lack of recognition will be a crime– not to mention a damn shame.
Writer Christos Gage also continues to show how much he understands these characters inside and out. The other vampire with a soul, Spike, showed up last issue to help Angel and Faith fight a big bad. In this issue, Spike and Faith are on a quest to find a mystical artifact to help Angel. Gage’s script is so faithful to the TV Series’ source material, I seriously don’t know how readers who haven’t watched both the Buffy and Angel shows will feel about this comic. On one hand, there is the continuation of the ongoing comic story but on the other, there’s a lot of discussion between Spike and Faith about past events that occurred in the Buffy Season 8 comic and the older TV series.
Spike’s scenes are where Gage flexes his Buffyverse continuity muscles, making the book a joy to read for long-time fans. Experiencing the dynamic between Spike and Faith– then Spike and Angel toward the end– is just great stuff. There is also a tremendous amount of dialogue in this issue but yet, it didn’t feel like it. (I have mentioned before that Gage tends to fill every issue of this comic with extensive dialogue– but it amazingly never feels unnecessary, indulgent or boring.)
This will most likely be the last time I review this comic for a while, since this “Season” will be ending soon. Given that, I want to make it clear that if you possess even the slightest bit of interest in this title– you should buy it. Purchase the trades or buy the back issues. It is well worth the investment of your time and money. Every month I read Angel and Faith, I always feel like I get way more than my $2.99 worth… And it continues to be my favorite comic in the industry.
And for those of you asking, “I thought Invincible was your favorite comic?” Well, Invincible is my favorite SUPERHERO comic– and a very close second to Angel & Faith. – Jose Melendez
Toriko Chapter 227
Creator: Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro
19 pages, $0.99 (Digital Download)
Yes, I actually decided– in my first turn as the newest IMJ Capsule Reviews™ comic book critic– to review Chapter 227 of an ongoing manga. Maybe it’s the fact I missed Toriko’s previous 226 chapters— or maybe this particular story is not my cup of tea– but I really did not enjoy reading this manga.
Enjoying the North American web version of Weekly Shonen Jump is a relatively new experience for me. Since I’m attempting to read more manga, I thought this webzine would be a good place to start… And true to my intent, I read all the stories in this particular issue. (Side Note: 160 or so story pages for 99¢– or even less money if you buy the yearly subscription– is an awesome deal.) Each story had a recap page featuring a brief description of the main premise and the main plot points from the previous chapters. Whether the story was an early chapter (World Trigger Chapter 6– I would rate this 4.5 Stars) or an installment from a long run (Naruto Chapter 624– I’d rate it with 4 Stars), the extensive recaps allowed me to get invested while knowing very little. Weirdly, I didn’t feel the same way about Toriko… Apparently one of the more popular manga series currently published.
From what I could gather, this is a battle manga about Gourmet Hunters searching for the best tasting food in the world. The only way to ensure one gets the good food is to defeat– and sometimes even eat– other Hunters. Each Hunter seems to have a special power or ability. The titular character, Toriko, has magical hair that aids him in battle.
Chapter 227 is the concluding chapter of an ongoing battle. The sequence seemed well-paced and the story itself wasn’t all that terrible. But the artwork really turned me off… And I usually like manga style art. In fact, I enjoyed it in every other title in this week’s WSJ. I found the detailing and shading (something that’s typically top-notch in manga) extremely distracting. Many of the pages seemed cluttered, interfering with the story and causing me to question the contents of some of the panels. These panels were loaded with action lines to give the sense of quick movements. The amount of lines clashed with the remaining art, causing me to lose the story.
Toriko’s premise seems interesting enough, and if the art were cleaner, it would help my rating. However, I don’t think it would make me like the story that much more. Given my distaste, this will be the only story I’ll skip while reading future issues of Weekly Shonen Jump. – Nick Furi
Creator: Ken Garing
34 Pages, $2.99
Planetoid #1 came out in June 2012… And here we are in April 2013, with Issue #5 just now hitting the stands. Image must’ve been taking the Wheel of Time approach in getting this series out the door and into the hands of the fans.
Main character Silas is a soldier stranded on a planetoid in alien territory… A deserter turned space pirate, and the sole survivor of his crew. He fights cyborg militias and mechanical creatures behind enemy lines… And in case this summary isn’t enough to intrigue you, the alien military he used to serve also has a bounty on Silas’ head.
I picked up the book at the end of its first five issue story arc. The action starts off in top gear and keeps the fast pace throughout the whole issue. I definitely got a good sense of the fluid, dynamically changing chaos that is the Planetoid battlefield.
Creator Ken Garing’s minimalistic style and landscapes act like speed bumps for the story… And they jarred me out of the narrative until I got use to his stylistic choices.
The overall comic is tight and well-written. Garing is just as sparse with his dialog as he is his art. This issue was all about action; people tend to act first– then let their actions speak for them in a battle. By the end of the story, I was emotionally engaged– and wanted more. – Tim Tash
Time Warp #1
Writers: Dan Abnett, Ray Fawkes,
Matt Kindt, Damon Lindelof, Toby Litt, Peter Milligan, Gail Simone, Si Spurrier
Artists: Gael Bertrand, I.N.J. Culbard, Mark Buckingham, Mike Dowling, Tom Fowler, Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire, Andy MacDonald, M.K. Perker
76 Pages, $7.99
I’ve always loved a good time travel tale. Creating a science fiction story can be a challenging task all on its own, but when an author decides to take their story and incorporate some aspect of non-linear time into it, I can’t help but give them extra points for the added level of difficulty. Of course this doesn’t mean they get a passing grade just for the attempt… I’ve seen many a sci-fi story ruined by using time travel as a writing crutch instead of solid storytelling. (I’m looking at you Star Trek.)
I have two pet peeves with most time travel stories: The use of forced, surprise endings baffle me. I’m not sure why so many authors attempt to shoehorn a clever M. Night Shyamalan-type ending into their stories when they’re not needed… It’s a time travel story, I’m already expecting the unexpected… So you’re not going to surprise me, OK? I get that it’s Hitler, it’s always Hitler.
My second peeve is the overuse of the Butterfly Effect. I’m certainly not mad at Edward Lorenz, who used the term in reference to the theoretical process of hurricane formation. But I am pissed at all the authors who think the term is some written-in-stone rule of time travel that must be obeyed. Just because someone travels backwards in time and steps on a blade of grass in the Cretaceous period, it doesn’t always have to cause Nazi’s to take over the world with armor-plated dirigibles. The Butterfly Effect is an interesting concept and does make for interesting stories, but sometimes a blade of grass is just a blade of grass.
With my little rant out of the way, I’m happy to say Time Warp is a fine example of a time travel anthology done right. There’s a wonderful mix of stories covering a wide range of ideas– not just the standard “going back in time to change something” tales, but some very inventive use of what I like to call non-linear time stories.
There are nine stories total, I will cover each one quickly with as few spoilers as possible.
R.I.P by Damon Lindel and Jeff Lemire is the most straight-forward tale in the book. A time traveler is trapped in the past and is being helped to survive by future incarnations of himself. Despite the aid from the future, his escape from the past isn’t certain or perhaps even possible. This story has one of those time paradoxes in it that will make your head explode if you try to make sense of it, but it’s still a cool little short comic book piece. Jeff Lemire’s pencils are also very good here.
It’s Full of Demons by Tom King and Tom Fowler – Remembering my first pet peeve, you will probably figure out the end of this story fairly quick… But you know what? It won’t matter if you do, as this is a clever story that looks at a common time travel plot from a different perspective in a sad and tragic tale.
I Have What You Need by Gail Simone and Bertrand – This is my second favorite story in the comic, since it has a harder edge than the rest. A terrible man comes looking for something special from the Candymaker. (I won’t say anything else, as it would ruin the tale.) Gail Simone shows she still has her writing chops — packing a ton of storytelling into just a few pages. When the end arrives, I hope you have the same smile on your face that I did.
The Grudge by Simon Spurrier and Michael Dowling is an odd story about two brilliant men who seemingly would rather use their great minds to antagonize– instead of help– one another. This story isn’t an easy read, but stick with it and maybe even read it again a couple of times (don’t worry, it’s a short story after all) and you’ll see there’s a lot more subtext here than first meets the eye.
Dead Boy Detectives by Toby Litt, Mark Buckingham and Victor Santos – The only disappointing story in the comic… Not because the story itself is bad, but since it’s really more of a horror story that ends in a cliffhanger to be continued in another collection. A cliffhanger in a one-shot comic book? Really?
She’s Not There by Peter Milligan and M.K. Perker – Not really a time travel story per se, but a creepy and effective tale about reaching into the void and selfishly bringing something back without really knowing just what it is you’re getting.
00:00:03 by Ray Fawkes and Andy MacDonald – My favorite story in the book. No time travel here, although the story is about time (or the lack of it.) A tightly written, hard sci-fi story about a soldier’s last moments in battle. Should he complete his mission… Or break with his training and protocols to achieve something more personal?
Warning Danger by Matt Kindt – No time travel in this tale either… But it is an inventive, stylish story about fighting wars mano-a-mano on a distance planet. Matt Kindt has a very unique style of writing and art that I want to see more of in the future.
The Principle by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard – Hitler, what a pain in the ass! That’s not a spoiler for the reader (remember, Hitler always pops up sooner or later.) Abnett crafts a fun story that turns the most overused plot device in time travel stories on its ear– and then some.
This comic book is eight bucks, so it costs a lot more than your average comic– but I think it is well worth the cost. I’m not easily impressed when it come to stories like this, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself liking all but one of the stories in this collection. If you are a fan of science fiction, I believe you will really enjoy this anthology.
Per my rating: I deducted 1/2 Star off my rating for the unsatisfying cliffhanger tale they decided to include in the book. – Iron Muskrat