Lion-Mane’s Fangs of Doom
Writers: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti
Artists: Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
20 pages, $2.99
How are Batwing comics still being printed? If you would have asked me which titles I thought were going to get the axe during the first round of New 52 cuts– Batwing would have been one of my top contenders… As I never connected to the character when Grant Morrison introduced him a couple of years ago. That being said, I am glad he stuck around so Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti had a chance to get ahold of him.
I know it’s near sacrilege here at IMJ, but I haven’t been following All Star Western (Ed. Note: It almost is, Nick!)— as Jonah Hex has never been one of my favourite comic characters. But with Ian’s review making me aware Booster Gold was making an appearance on the comic, I just had to give it a try. Because I thoroughly enjoyed reading All Star Western, I was curious to see if Gray and Palmiotti could once again make me care about a character I had no prior affinity for.
Batwing #21 has everything you would want in a comic: Action, Violence, Drama, Character Moments/Development– and even a couple of laughs. To make the book even better, the pacing is fantastic. The first chunk of the book concerns a big fight scene with Lion-Mane. The second half weaves in and out of Lucas Fox (Batwing) fighting with his girlfriend, more destruction from Lion-Mane… And Lucas dealing with family issues– most of which appear to be with his father, Lucius. Dare I say it? The execution of Batwing #21 is perfect. I know I go on about it ad nauseam, but this story reminds me of an excellent pre-New 52 Booster Gold comic.
I believe I understand the magic behind these “B” character books: Creators seem to have more freedom. Not having every scene passing through the company scanner is a huge benefit to the quality. There is a liberty in the creative execution in Batwing I simply don’t see or feel in the other Bat-titles– or many other comics in DC’s repertoire. The lack of restrictions allows the creators to help readers make a much easier connection with the characters. There is an adequate amount of information omitted to intrigue us, but enough presented to gain insight into the hero as well.
Batwing #21 also possesses a creative synergy many other current funny books lack. The art team is spot on. Eduardo Pansica’s pencils are great. His characters are proportionate and there’s strength in the facial expressions he draws. Boredom, pain, excitement, worry and annoyance are all easily recognizable. Julio Ferreira’s inks and HI-FI’s colours enhance the pencils. Letterer Dezi Sienty also turns in an amazing job. Visually, Lion-Mane’s normal speaking voice carries a sense of conceit… And the reader can feel the rage and fury in his voice when he’s yelling.
I even love the name of the other villainous group– Marabunta. The name might seem simple for people who know what the word means, but if you are like me and don’t know some of the names for army ants (Note: I only knew because I Googled it), there is a good chance you’ll get a kick out of this team as well. All the components of Batwing #21 combine to create a fun tale of a hero I grew to care for by the end of the comic.
The only thing I do have issue with– which certainly has nothing to do with the creators– Batwing, as a character, seems very similar to the Batman in Batman Beyond… Just before Batman Beyond. Not in the sense that Lucas has a similar back-story to Terry McGinnis, but in the way the Batwing’s suit is a prototype of Terry’s suit. Again, Gray and Palmiotti deserve credit– because, by the last page, I didn’t care about this gripe anymore. These two have made Batwing their own, and the comic is better for it.
After reading All Star Western and Batwing, I’m wondering if there is a character Justin and Jimmy can’t make interesting. Stealing from one of Ian’s earlier reviews, “Justin and Jimmy deserve more work from DC Comics.” (*cough* Booster Gold *cough*…)
Hey, I can dream can’t I? – Nick Furi
Herobear and the Kid Special #1
Creator: Mike Kunkel
27 pages, $3.99
Wow! A comic for kids of all ages– even grown up ones!
The moment I saw the cover to Herobear and the Kid Special #1 in the Previews catalogue, I knew I wanted to read it. Such a simple but engaging design, cartoony but powerful too. This is the first issue of the return of Herobear and the Kid to comics– as part of Boom Studios kid imprint, kaBoom! (I hadn’t read any of the previous Eisner Award Winning series produced in 2002/3.)
The central characters are “The Kid”, Tyler (who lives with his parents in his late grandfathers gothic mansion) and his stuffed polar bear, “Herobear” (who can be transformed into a living talking super-powered bear by pressing firmly on his nose.) Herobear and the Kid are best friends and have all kinds of mad adventures when Tyler isn’t stuck in some boring school lesson. I won’t elaborate any further on the plot since there really isn’t any point– as whatever plot the comic contains is really just an excuse for them to cut loose and have some fun.
When I read the first few pages, I did feel some echoes of Calvin and Hobbes as the comic had a rather nostalgic, contemplative, elegiac prologue. But once the comic transitioned into the main part of the story, it found its feet and the zaniness commenced. This is a busy, busy comic and once it turns on the afterburners it doesn’t stop till the last page.
As with the other top-notch all-ages comic I reviewed some months ago, Emily the Strange, writer/artist Mike Kunkel doesn’t talk down or patronise the reader… He implicitly trusts them to get what’s going on without laborious explanations. This is why Herobear and the Kid Special #1 can easily appeal to both adults and kids. I wish other publishers (I’m looking at you Marvel) would get that kids know when they’re being talked down to– and they don’t bloody like it!
Kunkel the artist draws mainly in black and white with some grey tones, the only outright color coming from Herobear’s bright red cape. The artwork is very cartoony and every page is crammed to the gills with panels– but for the most part the proceedings don’t get messy and are easy to follow. (There was just one page where I felt if the panel had been flipped so Herobear went from left to right– rather than right to left– the change would have made one page flow better.) That’s pretty nitpicky (I know), but that is also why I’m here– to give you my honest opinion.
If you have kids, then I absolutely would not hesitate in recommending you purchase Herobear and the Kid Special #1– and the regular series (which starts soon.) If you don’t have children but like reading something fun, zany and free from angst then– then this book is right up your street too. – Locusmortis
Kill Shakespeare – The Tide of Blood #4
Lovers and Madmen
Writers: Conor McCreery,
Anthony Del Col
Artist: Andy Belanger
Colorist: Shari Chankhamma
Letterer: Chris Mowry
24 pages, $2.99
I wrote a sonnet about Kill Shakespeare – The Tide of Blood #1, so I guess I should give you prose this time, huh?
Happy to report that this comic is keeping the promises made by the jaunty pace of that first issue. An evil Prospero battles with the god-like Shakespeare– while pawns Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet take the spotlight with a love triangle as compelling as any romance book.
And when it comes to this ill-fated band of alternate universe lovers, there are plenty of meddling outside forces keeping everyone from finding a happily ever after. Angry gods, jealous sorcerers, talking tree witches… Shall I go on? Did I mention this is all set on a mystical island of the Bard’s creation?
Kill Shakespeare is a wholly imaginative series in a landscape of boring derivatives. Recycling another writer’s sandbox for a comic is becoming old hat. Licensed novels exploiting every fandom ride the best-seller lists, and nowhere is rehashing and rechurning more accepted than in comics. Kill Shakespeare might be based on classic characters from the finest literature penned by Englishmen– or by infinite monkeys, depending on one’s beliefs– but everything about this book reframes the personalities of these characters in a fresh new way.
I love the colors, the story, the enthusiasm, the ideas. Long live Kill Shakespeare! I was going to leave it four stars this time, but there was a twist at the end I enjoyed too. – Red Tash
East of West #3
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letterer: Rus Wooton
31 pages, $2.99
How often do you read a comic book more than once these days? And by that, I mean how much actual story are you really getting for your $2.99 – $4.99? Sure, there might be some really cool artwork and your favorite character (I’m guessing Wolverine) is there striking a cool pose on a two-page spread, but after taking in the eye candy– what do you remember about the story? If you are like me, you’re probably finding many comics these days are like cotton candy: It’s there for a moment on the tip of your tongue and then disappears quickly without a trace, leaving no lasting memories. If you’re with me on this one and are tired of suffering through cotton candy comics, please allow me to direct your attention toward the newest comic series from Jonathan Hickman, who is currently serving up a porterhouse steak in the form of a comic.
East of West plays to all Hickman’s strengths as a comic writer. Publishing this series under Image frees him from the editorial control and expectations of Marvel– and allows Hickman to do a little world building. And by world building, I mean taking history and real events and turning them upside down to create some wonderfully creative alternate historical time-lines for the reader. In East of West, the story takes place in a very different North America after the US Civil War– no longer the Untied States, but a collection of fragmented countries called the Seven Nations of America.
Perhaps it’s the roleplayer in me, but I love this sort of science fiction writing. I found myself so immersed in the world Hickman created that it wasn’t until the reveal at the end of the third book that I was reminded I wasn’t studying a new campaign world for a roleplaying game… And there was a story here that’s damn good too, and I needed to pay more attention to what was going on with the main players in the comic. So I found myself going back a second time to read all three comics to catch up on all of the important plot points I’d missed the first time around… And it’s been awhile since I’ve bothered to do anything like that when it comes to comic books.
On its face, the story surrounding East of West is a science fiction western revenge tale– featuring a gunman who’s come back to take revenge on the people who wrong him.
Did I mention this gunman is Death?
Did I also mention that some of the people who wronged him are his fellow apocalypse riders– Famine, Pestilence, and Conquest (War)?
The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse are not the most original bad guys out there, but Hickman manages to shake things up by having dissension within the ranks of the Horsemen. By the end of Issue #3, it’s pretty clear why Death is pissed at everyone– but the story is far from over and there are still many things left to be resolved.
I know I’ve spent most of this review discussing the writing, but I also need to mention the artwork of Nick Dragotta. I think the artwork fits the feel of the story– Dragotta does an excellent job of fusing an Old West feel with the science fiction elements in a way that looks good without seeming silly.
I really had a good time reading East of West, and I even had a better time reading it the second time around. It is so refreshing for me to have a comic that has so much going on with it that it warrants a second reading. This really is the best comic Hickman has put out in years and I will take a Porterhouse Steak Comic over a Cotton Candy Confection any day. – Mark O’Brien
Adventures of Superman #1
Violent Minds, Fortress,
Bizarro’s Worst Day
Writers: Jeff Parker, Jeff Lemire,
Artists: Chris Samnee, Jeff Lemire,
Colorists: Matthew Wilson,
Jose Villarrubia, Riley Rossmo
Letterer: Wes Abbott
40 pages, $3.99
First things first: Yes, there was a major controversy surrounding this first issue when Orson Scott Card was slated to be the main writer of this comic. But I’m forgetting all that for this review, since I choose to judge this now Card-less book on its own merit. Not including the writer in Adventures of Superman #1 doesn’t have any effect whatsoever– as there is still plenty of major talent on display for this debut issue. Why DC thought they would need such a “big” outside name like Card for the debut issue is still somewhat perplexing, but on we go…
Adventures of Superman #1 is actually part of DC’s new line of “Digital First” comics.– with three shorter stories filling the 40 pages of content. Personally, I prefer these types of combined comics in digital format, because it’s clear DC and the creators keep the platform in mind when creating their stories. Bear with me, as I quickly touch on each story individually.
Writer Jeff Parker starts the book off with a classic Superman tale… And Chris Samnee’s art gives readers a couple of great Superman poses throughout Chapter One. The potent combination of Samnee on art and Matthew Wilson on colours reminds me of Superman – The Animated Series. Wilson’s colours are a little darker and have more of a matte finish than the cartoon– but the comic still ascribes to a similar dynamic quality.
I was a bit thrown off by this story at first: Jeff Lemire’s art style is not suited for the super heroic. However, the genuine nature of Chapter Two’s plot definitely fits with a Lemire-style story. Unfortunately, there isn’t much more to it– since the story revolves around two boys playing superheroes. Showcasing a nostalgia-filled tale– while focusing on children’s emotions– actually turned out heartwarming. While my feelings towards Lemire being the wrong artistic choice still stand, Fortress won me over as a great contrast and follow-up to Parker’s first story.
Bizarro’s Worst Day
“Bizarro’s Worst Day” is WORST STORY in Adventures of Superman #1 EVER!” “Riley Rossmo’s art is terrible!!” “Bizarro HATED Justin Jordan’s story too!”
Oops, sorry for Bizarro-speak. Now that I’m somewhat back to normal, I must confess this is the best Superman story I have read in quite some time… And Jordan’s script is great. Even with the fun story, Rossmo’s art blows past everybody else’s faster than a speeding bullet. I never thought I would see Riley do a superhero comic– let alone a Superman one… But a quick glance at Chapter Three will show just how talented Mr. Rossmo is (in case, you know, you didn’t know that before.) Typically Riley’s art can be all over the place– it’s a calculated mess. But his Adventures of Superman gives us a cleanness I’ve never seen in his art before. The dichotomy between Bizarro (who looks like a typical Rossmo character) and Superman’s clean, smooth design is an outstanding piece of work.
One aspect I rarely touch on in my reviews is the work of the letterer. Most of the time I just don’t see their computer work enhancing many of the stories… As if most don’t go out of their way to make their work interesting. The only constant in this issue is letterer Wes Abbott— and Holy Hell, does he accomplish an outstanding lettering job with this comic. The fear and worry of the first story’s villain shines through due to Abbott’s stellar work. Bizarro’s speech balloons seem jaded (and, of course, asymmetric)– building and adding to the other elements in the story.
Overall, this was one stellar comic. My only fear is– with an ever-changing wheel of multiple creators working on these stories with each issue, the quality may not always be at this high of a level. Hopefully DC and future creators can keep this up! If you are a fan of Superman and the quality remains this consistent, I would definitely give this title a shot. If you only want to pick which individual stories to read, buy them digitally (even if buying them separately costs a little more.) – Nick Furi
Daredevil Dark Nights #1
Angels Unaware Part 1 – Whiteout
Writer/Artist: Lee Weeks
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
22 pages, $2.99
It’s usually better to start a review with a declarative statement rather than a question but bear with me– because the question itself will give you a good hint as to my opinion toward Daredevil Dark Nights #1…
… WHY CAN’T MORE COMICS BE LIKE THIS?
That’s right. Why can’t more comics be made with the craft, skill and dedication this book exudes? Why is 80% of the output from the two major publishers just editorially mandated hacked-out pieces of crap– whereas, when creators are left to tell a story on their own terms, they can come out with little gems like Daredevil Dark Nights?
The plot for this comic isn’t that original or unique– but it is told with an honesty and conviction that pulls you in and absorbs your attention throughout. It’s a winter’s night in Manhattan and a massive snowstorm has locked the city down. On the way home from his law practice, Matt Murdock gets overwhelmed by a gang of muggers and is left for dead in the snow. The rest of the story has Murdock struggling to regain his memories and super-senses in an emergency ward. By the end, he goes back into the blizzard to retrieve donor organs from a downed helicopter– to save the life of a child back at the hospital.
This is a plot heavy book– and by the end of it, you feel like you’ve actually read a proper story. THIS is the kind of comic book I like, and I wish there were more out there like it. Matt Murdock and his Daredevil alter-ego were put through the ringer in this story– but it wasn’t done for shock purposes, like inferior writers would construct. (Why did I suddenly just think of Mark Millar?) Daredevil fought back and used his inner fortitude to overcome his injuries and limitations… And by the end of the story, I actually felt uplifted by it.
Lee Weeks handles both the writing and art, making for a seamless blend. Weeks’ heavy use of narration boxes not only give voice to Murdock’s inner monologue but also stand as a necessary third-person narrator. In fact, his writing style is a lot like Mark Waid’s from the Indestructible Hulk issue I reviewed a few months ago. Sometimes you don’t expect an artist to be particularly adept with dialogue, but Lee Weeks acquits himself very well. Matt Murdock’s words were consistent and authentic sounding… And the other characters carried on conversations that sounded natural and real– as opposed to the rat-a-tat bollocks some writers force into characters’ mouths. Letterer Clayton Cowles had a lot of work to do in this pamphlet but pulled it off nicely with a high degree of clarity. His lettering expertise most definitely helped the story to flow smoothly.
The art, as one would expect from a veteran like Weeks, is right on the money. While the layouts were not quite up to the amazing standard of Chris Samnee (currently drawing the monthly Daredevil title), they were still miles better than most artists working for the Big Two. The positions and poses Daredevil held in the action panels were of the highest standard one could expect. To sum it up, the penciling was tight and the inking quite heavy– which suited this character-driven and story well. The coloring by Lee Loughridge was nice and flat, totally in tune with the art.
This series might slip under the radar because it isn’t strictly in continuity… But that most certainly doesn’t mean it should be ignored. In fact, far from it. If you are sick of pointless event comics and you want to read a good comic book story– then Daredevil Dark Nights #1 is the comic for you. – Locusmortis
Our Little Conferences
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Browne
Colorist: Jean-Paul Csuka
Letterer: Kelly Kindall
22 pages, $3.50
I originally gave Bedlam a chance because Riley Rossmo was the artist. I love his art, but this time– it wasn’t enough for me to stick around. Since Bedlam’s one redeeming quality (Rossmo) has left the comic, I decided to review Bedlam out of curiosity. Could the story have gotten better since my last attempt and will the art match Rossmo’s quality?
Well… The art is pretty close.
Ryan Browne does quite an amazing job attempting to replicate the unique structure of Rossmo’s compositions. His style is much cleaner than Riley’s, but Browne goes the extra mile by attempting to add in some of the same “Rossmo” aspects readers will be familiar with… And trying to match the calculated messiness of Rossmo’s art is a feat in and of itself. The most notable Rossmo characteristic Browne plays with is the random lines that sometimes appear throughout Riley’s art. To orchestrate this feel, Browne uses extra lines to show movement or emphasize an expressive look on a character’s face.
I think artistic continuity is a lost art in comics… But the books were better for it back in the day. Artists used to try to match the style of the previous artist and slowly make the book their own. That just doesn’t happen as much as it should anymore. Too often when the Big Two change creators, they cause a drastic change in the look and feel of a specific series. (This typically doesn’t happen in indie/creator owned projects as there usually isn’t an artist change.) However, as Bedlam proves– major creators do change in independent comics… And the results can be just as good or bad.
For the readers who only follow/collect creator-specific comics, this is not as big a problem as it is for the majority of us who follow general characters. Whenever a creative change occurs, it can be truly jarring. With writers, the syntax can be completely different, and other artists can bring drastically different art styles. Either way, change can be a damaging experience for a book you previously loved. My reason for going on, at length, about this– I need to give credit where credit is due… And Browne does his best to ease the sting of Rossmo’s departure… Which shows a level of care I don’t usually see in modern-day comics.
I guess I should talk about the story a bit now, right…? The Madder Red character is a rip off of Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger’s Joker. There is a pure insanity flowing through these pages and they are interesting– but they feel like The Dark Knight.
I can appreciate what Spencer is doing– by solely using flashbacks and a means of showing just how insane Fillmore (the main character) was before his operation. Having a murderous psychopath “fixed” so he can begin to help catch serial killers is a fun twist. However, this is how I predict the book will go… Evil – Good – Make a Mistake – Redemption.
I see this pattern because Fillmore is still recognizing his past murderous self in his day-to-day life. The strain of Madder Red (his villainous persona) reappearing in his mind– coupled with a police consulting job to catch more serial killers– is bound to cause something in the man to break. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be shocked if we see Madder Red return. Plus, working with the police force could easily be a set up for Madder Red’s master plan all along.
The pacing in Bedlam #7 was off. The random panels at the beginning were there simply to set up the cliff-hanger at the end. I understood what was going on, but the transitions from each were confusing. Initially, trying to distinguish each of the first three sequences was difficult.
Like Spencer’s Morning Glories, I think Bedlam might end up as a decent read in Trade Paperback format… But I’ll probably forget about it by then. – Nick Furi
The Wake #1
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Sean Murphy
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
20 pages, $3.99
That’s the sound my brain just made after reading a great comic for the first time in several weeks… And yes, I heard it make the noise and you can’t bloody well prove I didn’t… So there!
So who would have thought a Scott Snyder/Sean Murphy creator-owned Vertigo comic would be great, eh? Blimey, I never saw that one coming! All joking aside, this comic fucking rocks and annihilates 99% of the shit that DC produces these days. Hey Dan Didio, THIS is what happens when creators actually give a fuck!
The first issue of The Wake starts off with a 4 page prologue set 200 years in the future– as an unnamed girl and her sentient dolphin try to out race a gigantic wave crashing through the concrete canyons of a drowned American city. Swiftly cut to the present day, as Dr Lee Archer’s studies of humpback whales are interrupted by the Department of Homeland Security– who whisk her off to a top-secret base in Alaska where she joins a team to investigate mysterious activity below the icy waters of the far north.
Yes, I know I just vomited up a big glob of plot— but that’s only a small part of what The Wake #1 contains… As this book is a meaty read. Consider it a prime hunk of bluefin tuna compared to the normal DC output– which usually have all the nutritional value of a grieving cod-fish.
And then there’s the cliffhanger.
Snyder’s story has a nice flow to it… It doesn’t hang around but doesn’t feel terse or hasty either– the pacing is just about right. Characters are introduced gradually and everything builds up nicely to a satisfying conclusion– which just leaves you wanting more. The only criticism I’d lay against the writing– and the reason why I knocked half a point of the books rating– is that the dialogue could have been a little more sparse. I felt Snyder was trying to inject characterisation through some idle chitter-chatter between the cast… And that could really have been excised to tighten things up.
When I previewed this comic in my Previews Hit and Misses column a while ago, I said, “Sean Murphy is pretty much an art-god.” The Wake #1 confirms that assessment in spades. When you surge through this pamphlet, you are looking at a master at work. The art is ultra-detailed but isn’t fussy. There is also a rough sketchiness which prevents the work from looking too clean and sterile. His characters look as if they have lived– rather than just come off a Wacom Tablet.
Sean Murphy is so good, he makes what he does look effortless. Your eyes just go seamlessly from panel to panel without being jarred out of the story by a bad layout or improper framing of a shot. This guy is probably the best artist DC has working for them and I’m glad he’s doing something like this– rather than schlepping away on some random, soulless Batman comic. The coloring by Matt Hollingsworth is absolutely top-notch and completely senses the needs of the artwork. The same could be said of the lettering– where Jared K. Fletcher compliments the action in a nicely understated way.
Most weeks, the selection of comics on offer– especially from the Big Two publishers (Marvel & DC)– is fucking appalling. But luckily, for once, DC has deigned to release something good. The Wake #1 works as a story in its own right, but also as a suitable introduction to the series as a whole. It’s the best DC comic book I’ve read in ages. Highly recommended. – Locusmortis
Miss Fury #3
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Jack Herbert
Colorist: Ivan Nunes
Letter: Simon Bowland
20 pages, $3.99
High-tech Nazi Time Travelers? You’re right, that does sound crazy and outdated. To be fair, Miss Fury #3 does have an interesting premise, but Nazis… Again? Really?
Miss Fury is all about Marla Drake trying to defeat Nazis who have traveled from World War II to the year 2013. There’s a slight twist– Marla is time traveling as well. But the most interesting plot point concerns Marla continuously traveling through time– going back and forth from the present to the 1940s. A very exciting concept (if you know my reviews, you know I love my time travel)– but I found the execution of the time displacements lacking.
Scribe Rob Williams tries to make the time shifts as easy as possible for readers to understand– by having a small black panel with the word “switch” indicate a displacement. However, I like to think and pay attention while reading time travel stories. Trying to figure out how everything relates in a nonlinear fashion is half the fun– so I’m not quite as enamored with those boxes as others may be.
Speaking of nonlinear ideas and how to make sense of them: Marla states the Nazis travel to 2013 and win WWII from the present. How would the Germans win a war from the 40s by interacting in the present? (I could understand this if the Nazis steal technology and then go back in time, using the tech to win the war… But I get no clear indication they are doing that in this comic. like Marla is.) This difference makes me think there still might be a bit more to explain than previously mentioned by Marla. Good luck to Williams on trying to explain that one, because if he doesn’t– or doesn’t do it well– the story simply will not hold up.
Jack Herbert draws beautiful women– both in tights and out. Similarly to current Conan The Barbarian artist Davide Gianfelice, his take on the female form is never gratuitous. All poses and action shots are natural. The way Miss Fury jumps over the hood of a vehicle might be the only time you would think otherwise, but it actually makes sense if you know anything about hurdling. (The fact that Miss Fury is a cross between Catwoman and Huntress is also a little bonus.) The colours by Ivan Nunes are great. The mixture of darks and brights emphasize facial reactions… And definitely makes Miss Fury’s suit pop. (Though I am little curious how Marla can always keep it so shiny?) Also, it’s worth mentioning the gray-tone scene dealing with a memory of Marla’s is stunning. I would love to see more of that in Miss Fury.
All in all, if Miss Fury #3 wasn’t another story about Nazis, I probably would have enjoyed it a bit more. – Nick Furi
Thief of Thieves #14
Writers: Andy Diggle, Robert Kirkman, James Asmus
Artist: Shawn Martinbrough
Colorist: Felix Serrano
Letterer: Rus Wooton
20 pages, $2.99
There is nothing substantially wrong with Thief of Thieves #14. In fact, it actually does a fairly good job painting the picture of the story the creators are trying to tell. Nevertheless, I simply don’t care. I can definitely understand how other readers might enjoy Thief of Thieves, but for whatever reason– this is comic isn’t for me.
I attempted to go back and re-read this book to figure out why I didn’t like it, but I just couldn’t. The thought of having to read it again left me disenchanted… Though I did skim through it again and could remember basically everything I needed to know to write this review. And maybe that’s one of the comic’s problems. Not much happens– so a quick skim is all you need to “get” it.
This contrived plot is boring. The essence of Thief of Thieves #14 stands as a father trying to make sure his son doesn’t follow in his footsteps. Scenes supposedly constructed to bring character development lack emotion. They try, but all I see are characters going through the motions via an overused story technique to create back-story… Leaving everything to fall flat.
Every page of Thief of Thieves screams “serviceable.” It never does anything more to showcase itself or its creators– it just sits there. AMC is developing a television series based on this title… Which leads me to wonder if these stories are only appearing to create fodder for the new Television series– assuming it gets picked up. Which should be a no-brainer, given the massive amount of Robert Kirkman fans that will flock to a new show based on another of his comic books.
I’m going to leave it at that. Sorry, but I really can’t be bothered to waste any more time on this series. – Nick Furi
Primer (Part 1 of 3)
Writer: Brian Wood
Artists: Olivier Copiel, Mark Morales
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
21 pages, $2.99
Since Chris Claremont was unceremoniously thrown under the bus by editor Bob Harras in 1992 to appease Jim Lee, the X-Men (whether Uncanny or Adjective-less) have pretty much had every writer in American Comics give them a go as characters… With decidedly mixed (well, mostly shite) outcomes. This inaugural issue of this latest volume of X-Men, while not without some problems, is the closest I’ve seen to the glory days of the Claremont/Romita Jr/Silvestri issues of Uncanny– and is so much better than Brian Michael Bendis’ ham-fisted attempts to portray the X-(Wo)men.
Since being “let go” by DC (you can pick another verb if you like), Brian Wood has been incredibly busy at Marvel and Dark Horse with a whole boatload of projects… And I think this is probably his best work with either of them, as of yet. Incidentally, DC editorial is now led by a guy named Bob Harras (isn’t it funny how his name comes up again and again in relation to when comics from a particular publisher start to go to shit?) In any case, Wood is known for being a good writer of women and luckily the X-Men have some of the best female characters in comics.
Wood takes charge of Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Rachel Summers and Jubilee as they oversee the Jean Grey School for Gifted Mutants. The character interactions feel really authentic, like they’ve been friends for years (which they have.) There isn’t any of that shitty false antagonism inferior writers (like Bendis) shoehorn in to create artificial drama. These characters feel like the ones I know and love– which is probably as big a compliment as any that I could give.
As mentioned earlier, there are some problematic areas– the first being a framing plot device of a male and a female super-evolved bacteria coming back to earth to fight for supremacy. Now I know this is a superhero comic and suspension of disbelief is absolutely necessary, but the basic concept behind having bacteria with genders is so fucking stupid that it jarred me out of the story. Just have them be aliens or Eternals or something– no need to inject actual (bad) science into the mix!
I also have an issue with Rogue’s dialogue. I know some might find Claremont’s dialogue for the woman a bit cheesy, but I liked Rogues “Southern Belle” accent… So hearing her talk in a normal way just makes her sound monotone. Bring back the accent now, Wood! Y’hear?! Other than that, the rest of the dialogue was great– I especially loved Storm’s imperiousness and Psylocke’s glassy rejoinders.
Olivier Copiel’s art is pleasing overall and I especially love how he draws women’s faces. He seems to have a sixth sense of how to make them look beautiful but also strong and dangerous. These girls are far from being just cheesecake, that’s for sure! His storytelling is pretty strong as well, but does fall apart a little in a couple of the action scenes… The fight on the train and the subsequent crash being a little hard to follow. (The lack of background detail in this scene points to it being a little rushed and not fully thought out.)
Laura Martin is outstanding as always– the bright, flat coloring really bringing life to the main characters. Again, the only place where things went awry is the train crash scene… Where a lot of muddy brown mush colors were needed to cover up the lack of detail from the penciler.
X-Men #1 is a fine start to this new volume of the adjective-less mutants and is light years better than the other X-comics out there (especially now that X-Factor has been cancelled.) I’m sure over the course of the next few issues it will improve even more, as Wood irons out the few teething problems contained in this first issue. If you want a good mutant comic and if you simply want a book with strong, likable female characters– then X-Men #1 is the comic you are looking for. – Locusmortis
Clive Barker’s Next Testament #1
Writers: Clive Barker, Mark Miller
Artist: Haemi Jang
Letterer: Steve Wands
22 pages, $3.99
On the topic of Clive Barker: I’m no fangirl, but I’m no hater, either. I’ve just never had the time to read any of his stuff. That’s going to change.
Before writing this review, I had to stop and recount the pages because this comic zipped by so quickly, I was finished with it in a flash. That’s writing, folks. It’s hard to write well for comics. (Hell, it’s hard to write well, period.) It takes a lot of work and a lot of practice to make it passable, but Barker and Mark Miller are doing it well. Just like with most arts– when it’s done right, it seems deceptively simple.
Having said that, what can you expect from Issue #1? A little horror, a little religious zeal, a little angry God action, terrifying artifacts, and a color scheme that looks like somebody did shots with a tempura set and then barfed it back up on the page. Okay, you think I’m being mean, but the color choices are awful. Effective? Probably. Different? Yes. Considered? I believe it.
The God discovered in Issue #1 calls himself Wick and says he is the God of color. Well, okay. I’m going to trust in Wick to work his minion artist Haemi Jang through the rest of this series.
I absolutely loved his work– particularly the detailed art in the study scene– as we’re presented with the den of a madman… Then later when Wick takes his first “crowd-sourced” sacrifice. The art might not have been ground-breaking but the choices were cinematic and that’s why this story simply streaked by. There’s something to be said for cropping and framing when it comes to imagery and Next Testament gets it exactly right.
I’m giving this one five stars because all comics should be this good, and… My new master Wick demands it. – Red Tash
Morning Glories #27
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Joe Eisma
Colorists: Alex Sollozzo, Paul Little, Michael Spicer
Letterer: Johnny Lowe
39 pages, $3.99
The first thing I thought after diving into Morning Glories #27? I really should have kept reading this title. There’s two reasons: 1) I would actually know how the characters got into these crazy situations, and 2) Morning Glories has obviously picked up some steam since I left it way back at Issue #12. The school, its students and staff, have all become more than just mysterious people with unknown pasts. The characters feel much more developed and their actions seem to actually possess consequences now. I’m glad Morning Glory Academy has finally reached the point where some answers are beginning to be revealed… But the question remains, why did it have to take so long to get there?
I fully understand Morning Glories was intended as a slow burn. But when I dropped the title, there was nowhere near enough coherent story mixed in with the clandestine plot. Thankfully, Morning Glories #27 was comprehensible– even if there were things I missed because of a lack of information on my part. This current issue succeeded– where Issue #12 failed.
This is supposed to be Morning Glories’ “Season Two,” but just like coming blindly into a show like LOST in the second season… I am somewhat lost myself. I’m vaguely familiar with the characters but I had a difficult time trying to remember who’s who. (It didn’t help the cast is bigger now, compared to when I dropped the book.) Part of the problem also resides in Joe Eisma’s art. Eisma’s character designs are typically different enough to distinguish each character during a specific scene, but problems arise when the story shifts from one subplot to another– as characters start to blend together. Also, he seems to have a problem displaying the proper age of adult characters. (For example, I thought Abraham was Ike (Abraham’s son)– until I saw Ike lying unconscious on the ground.)
There is a simplified summary of the events leading up to Morning Glories #27 in the back of the book. It helped a little, but it was understandably lacking– as that’s what the previous 26 issues are for. Still, much information missed. To be blunt, if you are a new reader interested in Morning Glories, Issue #27 is not a good jumping on point. To further complicate matters, this story takes place in the past, present, future– and all are interweaved together. Needless to say, this storytelling technique leaves much to comprehend.
As I’ve mentioned in many of my reviews, I love time travel stories… And Morning Glories has now jumped back onto my radar after reading this issue. I feel like we are finally seeing glimpses of the “old” Nick Spencer– the creator who made such a splash with T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #2– he received massive amounts of praise in an IMJ Podcast. To be clear, Spencer is not quite up to that standard with this issue, but he clearly has an imaginative and clever story rolling around amongst the shit that has characterized most of his mainstream work.
If you toughed it out and stuck with this series, then this issue will be a great payoff to almost 3 years of storytelling. If you were like me– or never bothered to give Morning Glories a chance– do not start with Issue #27… As you will not be doing yourself any favours. While I’ll likely be going back to check out how Spencer’s story arrived at this point, I can’t recommend you buy this because I don’t know everything you would have to slog through during the “first season” of this pamphlet. – Nick Furi