IMJ Comic Book Reviews

LM ULTRA THIN BOX BREAKIMJ COMIC BOOKS REVIEWS NO IAN 5 STAR RATING SYSTEM LOGOElektra #1Elektra #1
Bloodlines
Writer: W. Haden Blackman
Artist: Michael Del Mundo
Colorists: Mike Del Mundo,
Marco D’Alsonso

Letterer: Clayton Cowles
20 pages, $3.99

This week I decided to go outside my comfort zone and learn about a character that’s rather unfamiliar to me. Not exactly sure why I’ve never found Elektra that appealing, but once I saw Michael Del Mundo’s Elektra cover illustrations, I was enticed enough to dabble… And luckily, Elektra Bloodines #1 did not disappoint.

Before I even begin talking about story, I must commend the visuals. Wow… Michael Del Mundo just gained a dedicated new fan. His cover art for this issue resembles a very avant-garde Japanese-inspired piece of street graffiti… And the art in the ballet-inspired first act reminds me of a gorgeous femininity and fluidity reminiscent of a French painting. The range showcased in his first few pages speaks to a massively talented artist– the detail in shading and contouring is just incredible. Seriously, everything Mundo does in this comic is outstanding… So much so, I’m working hard to come up with more superlatives so I can continue talking about him!

Colorists Mike Del Mundo (brother to the artist? same person?) and Marco D’Alsonso utilize a very unique colour spectrum that changes depending on the character being featured in each panel: Burnt oranges, reds and browns for Elektra’s scenes, to mossy green and blue for the villains. In what I’m taking as an attempt to add an additional touch of feminine energy, one particular character speaks only in the color pink. Very cool.

Much like the art and color scheme in Elektra #1, the story is a harmonious balance of masculine and feminine elements. Its first act is poetic and emotional, but the comic quickly gets down to business– assassin business. There are moments where this book is like a foreign art house film, then a spy movie, then a supernatural thriller. I’m more than impressed at W. Haden Blackman’s approach here… Especially his ability to turn a haunted warrior woman into a sexy and respectable protagonist.

If you, you know, consider a professional contract killer to be a protagonist.
– Danielle Young

4.5 Star Rating

The Walking Dead #126The Walking Dead #126
All Out War Part 12
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artists: Charlie Adlard,
Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn

Letterer: Rus Wooton
22 pages, $2.99

The long-awaited conclusion to the war between Rick and Negan is finally here. With all the build-up leading to this moment, I felt this final chapter ended far too quickly. But feeling this way is no big surprise (for me), as I usually find single issues of The Walking Dead far too short. That stated, I have to commend Robert Kirkman for keeping me invested in these characters for 126+ issues. That’s a tall order and no easy task.

I won’t spoil anything– as no comic should ever be spoiled. But by avoiding spoilers, realize I can’t go into too much depth either… Just forgive me if this review seems a little vague.

While The Walking Dead #126 wasn’t exactly the big shoot-em-up gunfight I’m sure many fans hoped for, the story did provide a satisfying conclusion. This comic was preceded by 11 issues of non-stop fighting– so having the conflict end a little different than expected was refreshing and satisfying. The last few issues have been great… A nice departure from the previous slow issues where little, if any, progress took place. As someone who buys every TWD comic as it comes out, I appreciate that. Here’s hoping the pace doesn’t suddenly revert back to slow mode. The Walking Dead is still decent when it’s slower paced, but it’s also so much more exciting when Kirkman ramps up the action.

Rick’s actions here are extremely satisfying from a storytelling perspective. It makes sense he does what he does… But I can also see his decisions blowing up in his face in the future. As promised, I’m not going to tell you what Grimes gets up to– but it’s brash enough that I asked myself what I would’ve done if I were in his shoes. The status quo has shifted once again, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things progress. Since Issue #126 (and the entire War arc, really) focused a lot on Rick and Negan, I’m also hoping upcoming issues spend more space on the other characters– especially with all the changes that have just occurred.

Charlie Adlard’s art continues to suit the comic well… Even if the book’s bi-weekly release schedule has seemingly pushed his skills to the limit. The crazy publishing stunt left Adlard’s art looking very rushed and inconsistent at times. Adding an inker really helped– and I’m sure the prolific penciler found it a lifesaver. And while I appreciate TWD for sticking to its black-and-white roots, I also still hope Ian’s prediction– that the comic will be released in an ALL COLOR format one day (like Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim Versus The World)– comes true too.

That’s a lot of “hoping” for one comic… But I guess it shows just how much I enjoy it. – Aaron Evans

4 Star Rating

The EC #1The Eltingville Club #1
This Fan… This Monster!
Writer/Artist: Evan Dorkin
Cover Colorist: Sarah Dyer
Letterer: Evan Dorkin
26 pages, $3.99

The cover blurb on Eltingville Club #1 proudly proclaims “The three-time Eisner Award winner featuring fandom’s four biggest losers.” And that pretty much sums up all you need to know about what you are going to find inside. Evan Dorkin has brought back the Eltingville Club for one final story– to be told in this two-issue miniseries.

So, who are the Eltingville Club? Hopefully most of you are aware of this long-running strip but, for the uninitiated, the EC are a group who encompass everything that’s contemptible in genre fanboyism. Dorkin’s satire has mainly centered on comic book fanboys in the past, but this new issue takes on comic book retailers too– as EC member Bill Dickey gets a job at his local comic shop.

Confession-time: I would be lying if I said this comic didn’t hit close to home a bit.

Yes, I was a comic fan who eventually began working at a comic shop. A job which lasted almost 20 years (at various shops) when all was said and done. The comic shop and owner depicted in EC #1 is a stereotype to the nth degree… But there is also a lot of truth between the pages… Truths most retailers would not like to acknowledge: From screwing over customers and staff, to hoarding pricey variants and calling women customers “fake geek girls”, to banning people from the store over the most inane stuff… These are all things I have encountered in one form or another.

I sincerely lost track of how many times I laughed out loud while reading this book. Most of my laughter erupted from the great dialogue and inside jokes found throughout but there were other times I simply laughed because I KNOW some retailers who act and run there businesses like the poor soul who runs the shop Bill works at. Just a small example of something I could completely relate to because I’ve had almost this EXACT same conversation with a comic store owner :

EV

The retailer stuff only lasts for the first half, with the fanboy idiocy taking up the rest of  the story– but it’s all enjoyable. This is a comic that can only be created from a place of love. While Dorkin does seem to be making fun of a lot of dumb shit that goes on in this industry and its fans, he is also celebrating what makes the industry so great. Your enjoyment of Eltingville Club will most likely vary depending on how much of a geek you are and whether or not you dig dark humor. If you straight up love comics, there is just no excuse for passing this one up. – Jose Melendez

4 Star Rating

Harbinger #22Harbinger #22
Death of a Renegade Part 1
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artist: Clayton Henry
Colorist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
22 pages, $3.99

Harbinger #22 is a tough comic to review– for every thing I liked about the issue, there was something I equally disliked. This constant back and forth made it extremely difficult to be fully invested.

For instance: The first page is way out of left field and uber confusing. There’s absolutely zero context given for new readers. The recap page did help some, but having something this strange and difficult to understand happening on Page #1 can easily take a new person out of the reading experience.

Harbinger

What the hell?

The dialogue from Joshua Dysart is also all over the map– forcing me out, then reeling me back in. Some of it is so painstakingly awful you actually feel dumber for reading the sentimental rubbish being forced onto the page. Other characters epitomize my dislike– they’re so calm, cool, collected and cocky I can’t help but be disaffected by their perfect suaveness. The problem is, I can’t tell if this is purposefully done… Or simply revealing the best and worst of Dysart’s talents.

Happily, Clayton Henry showcases diversity in body image with some of the main hero character designs. Torque is actually super scrawny– before using his powers to change form and become a massive indestructible beast. Zephyr is an average to slightly overweight woman– something you almost never see in comics (except Invincible). Not looking at scantily clad women and outrageous macho-men 100% of the time is a refreshing change of pace.

Unfortunately, these designs also create consistency problems with the art– specifically in the case of Zephyr. There are panels where she looks like an average woman (something still not often showcased in comics) and there are times when 30 pounds seem to magically materialize on her frame. Either depiction of a woman’s form is great, but the constant growing and shrinking is very distracting.

Valiant’s creative and editorial teams need to be more persistent in establishing a well-finished product. If some of these wrinkles had been ironed out during the editing phase, Harbinger #22 could have been a new favourite. Looks like I just have to settle for mediocre. – Nick Furi

2.5 Star Rating

Original Sin #0Original Sin #0
Who is the Watcher?
Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Jim Cheung, Paco Medina
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
30 Pages, $3.99

This seems to be a common rule: Most comics book events begin strongly, only to falter in quality later on. DC’s Blackest Night and Marvel’s Civil War both had magnificent first issues, but quickly devolved into utter crap. Infinite Crisis had a very enticing debut but ended in a bland and unsurprising manner. Even I (who carry a fond memory and great love for DC’s Final Crisis) can’t pretend the beginning of the event wasn’t much more exciting than the (all too happy) ending.

When it comes to the start of Original Sin– Marvel’s “Crossover Event of the Summer”– the common rule is pretty much confirmed up front… As Original Sin #0 is nothing short of magnificent. Will this event dissolve into some shit-tier assholery down the line? I don’t know. But it sure begins with great care and a rare level of precise characterization.

For once, an issue deserves its “Zero” numbering too– in the sense that the overall story does not start in this comic. Writer Mark Waid has been tasked with setting up the stage, not to kick in the plot… And he does so brilliantly. Only two characters are focused upon, quite purposely: The young Nova and the millenium-old Watcher. They are each other’s complete opposite. On one side, a yapping and unexperienced Sam Alexander– wondering about his place in the universe, lost and confused. On the other, an omniscient creature– silent since the dawn of age, who has charged himself with the weight of a crucial burden.

It’s no small feat for Waid to set these two up and make them confront each other with such clarity. Everything is clear as day– each and every word is amazingly important, well-chosen and perfectly in place. Silent, the Watcher still succeeds in saying plenty… And the plot does wonders at creating a sense of urgency and danger from nothing more than conversation and dialogue. Most comics can’t generate tension from people hurting each other for 20 pages, so setting such a high level of taut stress from words only is glorious.

Even if you aren’t interested in yet another event that will probably drag on for ages, I strongly recommend this gem for the two strong and entertaining portrayals. A real delight– and a fantastic lesson in empathy from a great writer.
– Simon J. O’Connor

5 Star Rating

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5 Responses to IMJ Comic Book Reviews

  1. J. says:

    Ah, yes. Two more Marvel reviews telling us how crappy their comics are. Oh, wait…

    • Morlock50 says:

      And you guys like the new Cap movie too? What happened to that famous anti-Marvel snark designed to get clicks?
      Don’t tell me you people are actually telling us your honest opinions! 🙂

    • Tiger Topher says:

      What is this bullshit? If I wanted to read positive reviews of Marvel comics, I’d go to CBR. This is not the place for it.

      You’ve changed, IMJ. It’s like I don’t even know you anymore.

      😉

    • Helmir says:

      Jose, per your recommandation on your “Who’s getting what this week” Column, I read “The Eltingville Club #1”. It’s a gem and I tremendously enjoyed it. You can feel very distinctly the love and passion of the author for this medium. Which is, sadly, a feeling I get all too rarely when I read a comic nowadays.

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