IMJ Comic Book Reviews

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Legenderry #5Legenderry –
A Steampunk Adventure #5
Big Science
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Sergio Fernandez Davila
Colorist: Wes Hartman
Letterer: Rob Steen
22 pages, $3.99

… And we’re back!!!

This is weird: Without having to write a comic book review every week, my stack of comics has gone unread. Compounding the problem, the more comics I seem to place on top of the pile, the more I don’t want to read them. Needless to say, I’ve been in a bit of a lull with comic fandom.

Thankfully, the return of IMJ Comic Book Reviews™ brought an interesting comic to my attention. I doubt I was lucky enough to pick the best book of the week, but I’m also glad I didn’t accidentally pick a clunker I would have to eviscerate. No, instead I read Legenderry A Steampunk Adventure #5 and was entertained enough to start tackling my (seemingly) neverending pile of new books again. (Amazing how quickly quality stuff will stimulate the urge.)

All of the above is my long way of saying: Legenderry’s creators did a good job in creating a four colour story worth reading.

I’ll try not to explain the comic to you, but I do think the series’ premise is worth mentioning. It’s kind of like an old DC Elseworlds tale… As all of Dynamite’s characters are thrust into a steampunk adventure, creating a cool contrast between new and old.

This may have been the fifth installment of a seven issue miniseries, but I didn’t feel out of place for very long. Acclaimed Fables scribe Bill Willingham does an outstanding job of tossing in some expository dialogue at the beginning of the book, catching up anyone who may have missed the previous four comics. This is points where Willingham sets himself apart from other famed writers in the industry– effortlessly sliding in vital character moments and story information for new readers.

Yes, some of his dialogue during the fight sequences seemed a bit heavy-handed– as villainous henchmen spill details while in the midst of a fight (just because the heroes ask)… And these exchanges do lead to some very campy/awful quips from the main characters too. (Which I’m perfectly okay with. Long-time readers of this column should know by now I love me some camp and bad jokes!) Simply put, Legenderry A Steampunk Adventure #5 is fun… And I was too engrossed in the comic to barely care when Willingham made a minor misstep at the end that almost blew his cool cliffhanger.

It also helped my state of mind that I found zero faults with the artistic team. The pencils/inks from Sergio Fernandez Davila are stellar all the way through. He does well with changing the characters looks from past and present, while still keeping them distinguishable. His action sequences also kick some serious ass!

Still, most of my praise is reserved for Wes Hartman and his outstanding colour work. It’s really unbelievable how well he varies the colours between the present and past scenes. The flashbacks definitely have a pulp feel– strengthening the comic’s steampunk aura. (He absolutely shares a kinship with the great science fiction book covers and the fantastic original Star Wars posters of the past.)

It was great to read a comic that pulled me out of my sluggish mood toward the current comic book industry. While it may have only been a little slump, Legenderry got me excited about reading comics again… And that’s always a win in my world! – Nick Furi

3.5 Star Rating

Black Market #1Black Market #1
Creator/Writer: Frank J Barbiere
Artist: Victor Santos
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Colorist: Adam Metcalfe
23 Pages, $3.99

Black Market has everything going for it: Superheroes, crime, drama, tragedy… With a little science fiction thrown in for good measure. At first glance, I figured this was just another tale of chemically engineered superheroes, but it ended up being much more original, interesting and ultimately, dark.

The storytelling is the real strength of this comic. There’s great depth to the dialogue and emotional layers in just this single issue– and although I had to rewind on a couple of occasions to figure out what tense the story was being told in, the story format worked for me. It also helped that, unlike the last comic I read from Boom! Studios, I didn’t feel like I was being talked down to. The subject matter dips into some really dark areas, delving into borderline disturbing. This is definitely not a feel-good comic, but it certainly is a good one.

Aside from a very attractive cover and some really intriguing standout panel work, the artwork is erratic and a little messy– saved almost entirely by the vibrant colours of Adam Metcalfe. The panel layout really was the only impressive thing about the art– because it added some much-needed dimension to the flat line work. The unique panels played a little like a crime scene, causing my eyes to look at several different places on the page in order to gather more information about the events. If you miss one of these little gems– especially on pages where there is no dialogue– there’s a chance you may not have the “whole story”… Which is a technique I actually grew to appreciate. – Danielle Young

4 Star Rating

Teen Titans #1Teen Titans #1
Blinded By the Light- Part One
Writer: Will Pfeifer
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Colorist: Dan Brown
Letterer: John J. Hill
20 pages, $2.99

The cover of Teen Titans #1 has the following hashtags plastered on it: #new_direction, #more_attitude, and #in_your_face. One thing I’ve never liked: A comic with an annoying attitude. Fortunately, the inside of the book didn’t entirely reflect the insipid posturing on the cover.

The previous Teen Titans series wasn’t very good, so I wasn’t expecting a lot coming into this relaunch– even with Will Pfeifer (whose Catwoman is great) writing the book. As it goes with DC these days, this comic is a standard first issue. We’re introduced to the team as they save some kids on a school bus– kidnapped by terrorists no less– and each Titans’ member gets a chance to shine and demonstrate their powers effectively. (Okay, I freely admit to liking some classic superhero action now and then.)

Still, there was nothing new for me here. But if you possess little to no knowledge of the Teen Titans, I guess this is a good an opportunity as any to jump in. Pfeifer’s story reliably introduces the characters and sets up future plot points… But the lack of quality story was where the whole enterprise fell flat. While it certainly isn’t a bad script, it’s also not good enough. There are many comics that are better than this one. Even though I appreciate how Pfeifer didn’t put me through the worn out ‘getting the band together’ story routine, there was never enough of a threat or over-arching story to grab me.

Before I talk about the art, I want to state this for the record: I actually like Kenneth Rocafort’s work. His art is nice to look at. I just wish he could tell a better story with his pencils. Some of his faces look far too flat and emotionless. As an example, let’s focus on a little girl repeatedly featured in this story. There’s a moment when the girl is held at gunpoint… And she’s understandably crying– except her face doesn’t look as frightened as it should. Later, the same girl gets thrown out of the back of the bus, but never seems remotely terrified. Then, when she’s rescued by Red Robin, she doesn’t look the least bit exhilarated or relieved. (Some of Wonder Girl’s facial expressions seem off too– but I won’t bore you with the details.)

I also have problems with some of the “new” costumes. The only redesign I really like is Red Robin’s. Beast Boy and Bunker’s new looks are okay– if ultimately forgettable. The real crime here is Raven’s new outfit– everyone involved just went overboard. Wonder Girl’s costume is (kind of) hilarious, in that it doesn’t look the least bit comfortable. I’m (obviously) not a woman, but I can imagine most women would agree that her costume looks extremely uncomfortable. (Unfortunately, it also seriously looks like her breasts will pop out of it at any second too.)

There is potential for this series, if DC Editorial gives it room to grow in future issues. This team could easily be fodder for fun adventures and good chemistry– and I can only hope Pfeifer gets to take advantage of that. DC needs more lighthearted comics, and Teen Titans could definitely be one of them– if the creators are given the opportunity.

I guess this is just another game of  “Wait & See” with DC. – Aaron Evans

2.5 Star Rating

 

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