Weekly Comic Book Review http://weeklycomicbookreview.com Your source for comic book commentary Sun, 02 Aug 2015 04:00:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #43http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/08/02/transformers-meets-eye-43/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/08/02/transformers-meets-eye-43/#comments Sun, 02 Aug 2015 04:00:55 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46904 image

Though Simon Furman was the one to first utilize and highlight holomatter avatars, it wasn’t until James Roberts’ Transformers More Than Meets The Eye that the franchise truly tapped into what the fans wanted from them. Holomatter Avatars are the kind of thing that runs rampant in fan work because it allows us to externalize and literalize the inherent appeal of Transformers: not just that they’re robots but that they’re feeling robots and robots in disguise. That anonymity contrasts with the task of getting to know these bots and giving them a new way to disguise themselves while expressing their personalities into new and tangible ways is something that has appealed to fans for a long, long time. So perhaps it's not surprising that this issue - prominently featuring a slew of Holomatter Avatars, old and new - is meta as all get out.

Swerve is dying and the only way to save him is to follow him into a world of sit-coms. It seems Swerve’s consumption of all human media a few issues back wasn’t just a way for James Roberts to quickly praise Dan Harmon, but also set up for a lengthy praise of the sit-com format. Roberts’ appreciation for the form is readily evident, from Jerry the Comedian and Father Ted across the hall to the frequent chronological jumps to references to individual episodes of Community. Attentive readers, will even recognize the bots’ apartment as the set from Friends.

Roberts is positively gleeful in his writing, taking the opportunity to challenge preconceptions of sit-coms, lampshade the stranger elements of his own stories, and poke fun at reader complaints, the absurd and the acknowledged alike. In places that glee definitely does cross over into self-indulgence. Many moons ago, Roberts gave Rung’s holoavatar the name Mary Sue. The choice was a similarly ambiguous mixture of admission and rebuttal, but never has it been more clear that the crew are all voices in Roberts’ head than here. It’s hard not to think that Swerve in particular is serving as Roberts’ mouthpiece this issue, especially during lines like, “Sitcoms and quests... They’re not that different when you think about it. And I think about it a lot.” Ted the sarcastic priest is an appropriate stock character for this issue as Roberts and his characters seemingly confess their sins to the audience, unable to do so, even now, without the mask of humor, like a Hulu-watching Jean-Baptiste Clamence. It’s actually kind of intimate, kind of nice, but the connection between Roberts and his characters ends up putting him a little too much at the center of the story, if only by proxy.

Not all readers will be able to take such a hefty serving of meta-commentary and the lines between incorporating complaints, brushing them off, and awkwardly apologizing are not quite clear enough to avoid distracting from the story. It likely doesn’t help the case that the last issue of the series was a similarly crazy indulgence on Roberts’ part and that the series hasn’t been as episodic as the last three months since at least the beginning of its second year, if ever.

Still, I’d argue that these issues, in their way, still highlight what an intelligent writer Roberts is, because this is a fun and well crafted story, despite its faults. While the sitcom comparison hasn’t passed anyone by, least of all Roberts himself, nearly all of his stories are surprisingly effectively mysteries. And not just in the way that all stories are mysteries, like classically structured, particularly engaging mysteries. Roberts excels at writing fairly constructed and extremely fun detective stories for serial fiction and this one is no exception. Right from the (chronological) beginning, the wheels are turning, asking how a planet could be chasing our heroes, a moment that demonstrates the symbiotic relationship between humor and mystery. The ticking clock, find a college to prevent his own death is the stuff of grade-A pulp and Roberts cleverly breaks the solution down into numerous steps, only to be fully ascended once the crucial clues are assembled in order. Admittedly, this strategy occasionally clashes with the sheer amount of ideas and dialogue, but Roberts somehow fits it all with only a low-level confusion resulting.

And, of course, it’s not just how much or how well a writer packs concepts into a story, but what they chose to include and that’s a definite win. In addition to some wild concepts and great beats in the course of rescuing Swerve, we also get some lovely moments with other bits of the crew. Megatron, rather tellingly for this issue, almost intrudes on this story, appearing alongside but never quite in the same scene as Rodimus. His interactions with Nightbeat and Nautica feel odd for this issue, but they’re masterfully economical and demonstrate the ease, or at least apparent ease, with which  these characters spring from Roberts’ imagination. I could seriously write a short essay on Human Megs’ two pages, and just might below if I can find the time. As if that weren’t enough, there are also some really lovely scenes with personal favorite First Aid, whose characterization somehow benefits from having to leave the title. The first and most significant of these exchanges is between First Aid and Tailgate, and I can’t read the beginning of his phone call with Lightspeed without smiling, hinting that she’ll be growing on me before long as well.

Perhaps what’s most impressive about all of this is that, while you could point to these scenes as examples of what to cut if Roberts really wanted to include all of his meta-humor, but they’re actually both essential to the Swerve story in one way or another. In fact, the whole issue leads to a series of crescendos, climaxing in a mindblowingly well established pay off that almost certainly starts to set the stage for the second season finale.

The art has all the polish and economy that you’ve come to expect from the series. The Transformer scenes look great and, all throughout, Alex Milne’s knack for leaving just enough space to let the scene breath is on clear display. Especially out of its minimalist sci-fi setting, this book needs an artist who’s neither afraid to fill up the page nor unaware of when that just becomes daunting and, thankfully, Milne is it.

I will say that, like many artists with a particular talent for inhuman protagonists, Milne’s humans are not quite as strong, though even in this he distinguishes himself nicely. Still, there are definitely some places where the hard angles of Cybertronian design peak through, seemingly without intent. The most glaring - and, in fairness, the most likely intentional - is Megatron, who could not pass for human for even an instant, but Bluestreak and Skids are relatively common suspects as well.

Some Thoughts:

  • While his screentime is limited, Cyclonus earns his spot on the cover with a single exchange. The bot jokes like James Bond ordering a martini and I love it.
  • I  cannot tell you how much would love to be a fly on the wall for whatever meetings determine who gets what holomatter avatar, especially in regards to representation.
  • Speaking of which, I overheard a discussion at work about whether or not Rewind’s avatar is too generic this week. I don’t feel strongly about the matter, but I do have to say that I’m honestly surprised he’s not just Abed.
  • Seriously, that ending!

 

And, as promised, here’s that essay about Megatron. Those of you looking for the grade, feel free to skip on down and please accept my apologies for the awkwardness of the format.

Man, as silly as it is to dwell on such a tiny portion of this issue, I’m absolutely fascinated by Megatron’s role in this story. I mean there’s the obvious stuff like the Decepticon sigil on his cane or fact that he seems to have trouble even creating a convincing human avatar, but I’m much more interested in his fascination with the very concept of being, or appearing, human. Megatron obviously dwells on the ‘fragility’ of humans, an idea that, depending on how you read the first panel of his second human appearance, may include the aging process. If you think about it, that’s actually perfectly logical. I mean, Roberts’ first experience writing Megatron was partially a discussion of all the ways Optimus Prime has dealt him catastrophic damage, the Cybertronian anatomy is significantly more durable and, while the transformer life cycle is a beautiful fusion of the distinctly human and the demands of serialized storytelling, they do lack those portions of the human condition.

That’s interesting in itself, but it’s very surface. What makes it stand out to me so is the degree to which it connects to Megatron’s ongoing fascination with his own bodily autonomy. I mean, at its core, that’s what Decepticonism is all about, the right to your body and its connection to your right to self-determination. Megatron has changed bodies a couple of times before, but you can see his attachment to the concept in nearly everything Roberts has written. From his outrage that he trapped in gun mode in "Chaos" to his complaints about his new body to Ravage in “slaughterhouse” to his vaguely dysphoric struggle to comprehend his spark’s disconnect with his manual class body that shaped his ‘early’ life, the idea of a body is surprisingly crucial to Megatron. Even the fact that he hasn’t ever taken a holomatter avatar before speaks to the key issue of Megatron’s life, namely the fight to make a place for him, as he exists. To represent his psyche separate from his body or to alter it to suit his body, as in the case of shadowplay, is an essential betrayal of Megatron’s hardline Decepticon beliefs. On some level I see his willingness to do so for Swerve as an actual moment of significant growth for Megatron, or at least a moment where his retroactive confrontation with the choice of doing so forces him to acknowledge that his values aren’t what he thought they were.

 

 

The post Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #43 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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image

Though Simon Furman was the one to first utilize and highlight holomatter avatars, it wasn’t until James Roberts’ Transformers More Than Meets The Eye that the franchise truly tapped into what the fans wanted from them. Holomatter Avatars are the kind of thing that runs rampant in fan work because it allows us to externalize and literalize the inherent appeal of Transformers: not just that they’re robots but that they’re feeling robots and robots in disguise. That anonymity contrasts with the task of getting to know these bots and giving them a new way to disguise themselves while expressing their personalities into new and tangible ways is something that has appealed to fans for a long, long time. So perhaps it's not surprising that this issue - prominently featuring a slew of Holomatter Avatars, old and new - is meta as all get out.

Swerve is dying and the only way to save him is to follow him into a world of sit-coms. It seems Swerve’s consumption of all human media a few issues back wasn’t just a way for James Roberts to quickly praise Dan Harmon, but also set up for a lengthy praise of the sit-com format. Roberts’ appreciation for the form is readily evident, from Jerry the Comedian and Father Ted across the hall to the frequent chronological jumps to references to individual episodes of Community. Attentive readers, will even recognize the bots’ apartment as the set from Friends.

Roberts is positively gleeful in his writing, taking the opportunity to challenge preconceptions of sit-coms, lampshade the stranger elements of his own stories, and poke fun at reader complaints, the absurd and the acknowledged alike. In places that glee definitely does cross over into self-indulgence. Many moons ago, Roberts gave Rung’s holoavatar the name Mary Sue. The choice was a similarly ambiguous mixture of admission and rebuttal, but never has it been more clear that the crew are all voices in Roberts’ head than here. It’s hard not to think that Swerve in particular is serving as Roberts’ mouthpiece this issue, especially during lines like, “Sitcoms and quests... They’re not that different when you think about it. And I think about it a lot.” Ted the sarcastic priest is an appropriate stock character for this issue as Roberts and his characters seemingly confess their sins to the audience, unable to do so, even now, without the mask of humor, like a Hulu-watching Jean-Baptiste Clamence. It’s actually kind of intimate, kind of nice, but the connection between Roberts and his characters ends up putting him a little too much at the center of the story, if only by proxy.

Not all readers will be able to take such a hefty serving of meta-commentary and the lines between incorporating complaints, brushing them off, and awkwardly apologizing are not quite clear enough to avoid distracting from the story. It likely doesn’t help the case that the last issue of the series was a similarly crazy indulgence on Roberts’ part and that the series hasn’t been as episodic as the last three months since at least the beginning of its second year, if ever.

Still, I’d argue that these issues, in their way, still highlight what an intelligent writer Roberts is, because this is a fun and well crafted story, despite its faults. While the sitcom comparison hasn’t passed anyone by, least of all Roberts himself, nearly all of his stories are surprisingly effectively mysteries. And not just in the way that all stories are mysteries, like classically structured, particularly engaging mysteries. Roberts excels at writing fairly constructed and extremely fun detective stories for serial fiction and this one is no exception. Right from the (chronological) beginning, the wheels are turning, asking how a planet could be chasing our heroes, a moment that demonstrates the symbiotic relationship between humor and mystery. The ticking clock, find a college to prevent his own death is the stuff of grade-A pulp and Roberts cleverly breaks the solution down into numerous steps, only to be fully ascended once the crucial clues are assembled in order. Admittedly, this strategy occasionally clashes with the sheer amount of ideas and dialogue, but Roberts somehow fits it all with only a low-level confusion resulting.

And, of course, it’s not just how much or how well a writer packs concepts into a story, but what they chose to include and that’s a definite win. In addition to some wild concepts and great beats in the course of rescuing Swerve, we also get some lovely moments with other bits of the crew. Megatron, rather tellingly for this issue, almost intrudes on this story, appearing alongside but never quite in the same scene as Rodimus. His interactions with Nightbeat and Nautica feel odd for this issue, but they’re masterfully economical and demonstrate the ease, or at least apparent ease, with which  these characters spring from Roberts’ imagination. I could seriously write a short essay on Human Megs’ two pages, and just might below if I can find the time. As if that weren’t enough, there are also some really lovely scenes with personal favorite First Aid, whose characterization somehow benefits from having to leave the title. The first and most significant of these exchanges is between First Aid and Tailgate, and I can’t read the beginning of his phone call with Lightspeed without smiling, hinting that she’ll be growing on me before long as well.

Perhaps what’s most impressive about all of this is that, while you could point to these scenes as examples of what to cut if Roberts really wanted to include all of his meta-humor, but they’re actually both essential to the Swerve story in one way or another. In fact, the whole issue leads to a series of crescendos, climaxing in a mindblowingly well established pay off that almost certainly starts to set the stage for the second season finale.

The art has all the polish and economy that you’ve come to expect from the series. The Transformer scenes look great and, all throughout, Alex Milne’s knack for leaving just enough space to let the scene breath is on clear display. Especially out of its minimalist sci-fi setting, this book needs an artist who’s neither afraid to fill up the page nor unaware of when that just becomes daunting and, thankfully, Milne is it.

I will say that, like many artists with a particular talent for inhuman protagonists, Milne’s humans are not quite as strong, though even in this he distinguishes himself nicely. Still, there are definitely some places where the hard angles of Cybertronian design peak through, seemingly without intent. The most glaring - and, in fairness, the most likely intentional - is Megatron, who could not pass for human for even an instant, but Bluestreak and Skids are relatively common suspects as well.

Some Thoughts:

  • While his screentime is limited, Cyclonus earns his spot on the cover with a single exchange. The bot jokes like James Bond ordering a martini and I love it.
  • I  cannot tell you how much would love to be a fly on the wall for whatever meetings determine who gets what holomatter avatar, especially in regards to representation.
  • Speaking of which, I overheard a discussion at work about whether or not Rewind’s avatar is too generic this week. I don’t feel strongly about the matter, but I do have to say that I’m honestly surprised he’s not just Abed.
  • Seriously, that ending!
 And, as promised, here’s that essay about Megatron. Those of you looking for the grade, feel free to skip on down and please accept my apologies for the awkwardness of the format.

Man, as silly as it is to dwell on such a tiny portion of this issue, I’m absolutely fascinated by Megatron’s role in this story. I mean there’s the obvious stuff like the Decepticon sigil on his cane or fact that he seems to have trouble even creating a convincing human avatar, but I’m much more interested in his fascination with the very concept of being, or appearing, human. Megatron obviously dwells on the ‘fragility’ of humans, an idea that, depending on how you read the first panel of his second human appearance, may include the aging process. If you think about it, that’s actually perfectly logical. I mean, Roberts’ first experience writing Megatron was partially a discussion of all the ways Optimus Prime has dealt him catastrophic damage, the Cybertronian anatomy is significantly more durable and, while the transformer life cycle is a beautiful fusion of the distinctly human and the demands of serialized storytelling, they do lack those portions of the human condition.

That’s interesting in itself, but it’s very surface. What makes it stand out to me so is the degree to which it connects to Megatron’s ongoing fascination with his own bodily autonomy. I mean, at its core, that’s what Decepticonism is all about, the right to your body and its connection to your right to self-determination. Megatron has changed bodies a couple of times before, but you can see his attachment to the concept in nearly everything Roberts has written. From his outrage that he trapped in gun mode in "Chaos" to his complaints about his new body to Ravage in “slaughterhouse” to his vaguely dysphoric struggle to comprehend his spark’s disconnect with his manual class body that shaped his ‘early’ life, the idea of a body is surprisingly crucial to Megatron. Even the fact that he hasn’t ever taken a holomatter avatar before speaks to the key issue of Megatron’s life, namely the fight to make a place for him, as he exists. To represent his psyche separate from his body or to alter it to suit his body, as in the case of shadowplay, is an essential betrayal of Megatron’s hardline Decepticon beliefs. On some level I see his willingness to do so for Swerve as an actual moment of significant growth for Megatron, or at least a moment where his retroactive confrontation with the choice of doing so forces him to acknowledge that his values aren’t what he thought they were.

  

The post Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #43 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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M.O.D.O.K. Assassin #3http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/08/01/m-o-d-o-k-assassin-3/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/08/01/m-o-d-o-k-assassin-3/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 16:22:57 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46899 M.O.D.O.K. Assassin #3

It’s all-out action as M.O.D.O.K. and Angela flee/exterminate the entire guild of assassins, that is, all nine or ten of them, until something stranger comes along to be a cliffhanger.

As an action issue, this is just crazy fun. Nearly every page has some strange display of power or special move that results in explosion, fire, speed lines, or even gratuitous blood-letting and decapitation. It doesn’t take until the third eyeball pops out of an exploding head before you realize that this comic is going for some exaggerated humor of violence. Most of the time, this hyperbole is played perfectly straight by the characters— it’s completely second nature to them, after all, but there are touches of outright silliness, mostly because we have a character like Hit Monkey and things like chainsaws as part of M.O.D.O.K.’s array.

The problem is that I keep looking for some touches of nuance that I seemed to remember from the first issue, or perhaps some new metacommentary or hints that there’s something deeper going on here. No, instead it’s pretty much just mayhem for the sake of mayhem.

Our main characters aren’t given a chance to develop more than what’s been presented from the start. M.O.D.O.K. is still as egocentric but lovesick as before, and Angela doesn’t really exist for more than being a MacGuffin for plot and the aforementioned M.O.D.O.K. “trait.” Ha ha. Get it? He’s ugly but he’s in love? I hope you get it, ‘cause that joke’s gotta stretch for four issues.

The art seems to be suffering, too. Whereas before there might have been some weaknesses that were easily forgivable, there are more and more weak spots showing through at this point, particularly in things like basic anatomy for our characters. Even as early as the third page, Angela’s pose looks competent at first glance, but really it’s distorted in perspective and unbalanced in proportion. Similarly, when Screaming Mimi stretches in her second paneled appearance, page 5, it’s grossly out of proportion even though the pose is strongly expressive. And why can’t Angela’s axe appear solidly straight? Either there are no handy straightedges next to the artists’ boards or the thing is supposed to be made of rubber. And if you look real close, there’s a coloring error that makes it look like Angela had some boob slippage at one point. Although I’m sure it happens all the time off-panel with that outfit.

The line work is quite strange. I’d be interested to know if there was something different in the production. Most of the time, the inking appears quite pixelated or rasterized, as if certain things were blown up from a different size or perhaps a custom brush was used but with a texture that lends a rough quality. The result in any case is that the figures overall feel rough and unfinished. There’s no sense of weight or form and instead the coloring has to make up for things like shadows and rendering. To be fair, I’ve always preferred a clean, thick-and-thin line, so it might just be a matter of taste.

I did have a lot of fun seeing a lot of characters that don’t get a lot of spotlight. (Of course, in these days of hero-on-hero antagonism, *any* villain is unlikely to get a spotlight.) So having Hit Monkey and Jack O’ Lantern show up is quite fun, and it does lend opportunity for some funny lines like “I speak of your death, vegetable-faced killer!” And there’s something very funny about having M.O.D.O.K. laugh at Doctor Octopus. It’s too bad that our time in Killville is somehow devolving into a pretty generic free-for-all when it seemed poised for much more in the beginning.      

The post M.O.D.O.K. Assassin #3 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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M.O.D.O.K. Assassin #3

It’s all-out action as M.O.D.O.K. and Angela flee/exterminate the entire guild of assassins, that is, all nine or ten of them, until something stranger comes along to be a cliffhanger.

As an action issue, this is just crazy fun. Nearly every page has some strange display of power or special move that results in explosion, fire, speed lines, or even gratuitous blood-letting and decapitation. It doesn’t take until the third eyeball pops out of an exploding head before you realize that this comic is going for some exaggerated humor of violence. Most of the time, this hyperbole is played perfectly straight by the characters— it’s completely second nature to them, after all, but there are touches of outright silliness, mostly because we have a character like Hit Monkey and things like chainsaws as part of M.O.D.O.K.’s array.

The problem is that I keep looking for some touches of nuance that I seemed to remember from the first issue, or perhaps some new metacommentary or hints that there’s something deeper going on here. No, instead it’s pretty much just mayhem for the sake of mayhem.

Our main characters aren’t given a chance to develop more than what’s been presented from the start. M.O.D.O.K. is still as egocentric but lovesick as before, and Angela doesn’t really exist for more than being a MacGuffin for plot and the aforementioned M.O.D.O.K. “trait.” Ha ha. Get it? He’s ugly but he’s in love? I hope you get it, ‘cause that joke’s gotta stretch for four issues.

The art seems to be suffering, too. Whereas before there might have been some weaknesses that were easily forgivable, there are more and more weak spots showing through at this point, particularly in things like basic anatomy for our characters. Even as early as the third page, Angela’s pose looks competent at first glance, but really it’s distorted in perspective and unbalanced in proportion. Similarly, when Screaming Mimi stretches in her second paneled appearance, page 5, it’s grossly out of proportion even though the pose is strongly expressive. And why can’t Angela’s axe appear solidly straight? Either there are no handy straightedges next to the artists’ boards or the thing is supposed to be made of rubber. And if you look real close, there’s a coloring error that makes it look like Angela had some boob slippage at one point. Although I’m sure it happens all the time off-panel with that outfit.

The line work is quite strange. I’d be interested to know if there was something different in the production. Most of the time, the inking appears quite pixelated or rasterized, as if certain things were blown up from a different size or perhaps a custom brush was used but with a texture that lends a rough quality. The result in any case is that the figures overall feel rough and unfinished. There’s no sense of weight or form and instead the coloring has to make up for things like shadows and rendering. To be fair, I’ve always preferred a clean, thick-and-thin line, so it might just be a matter of taste.

I did have a lot of fun seeing a lot of characters that don’t get a lot of spotlight. (Of course, in these days of hero-on-hero antagonism, *any* villain is unlikely to get a spotlight.) So having Hit Monkey and Jack O’ Lantern show up is quite fun, and it does lend opportunity for some funny lines like “I speak of your death, vegetable-faced killer!” And there’s something very funny about having M.O.D.O.K. laugh at Doctor Octopus. It’s too bad that our time in Killville is somehow devolving into a pretty generic free-for-all when it seemed poised for much more in the beginning.      

The post M.O.D.O.K. Assassin #3 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Daredevil #17http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/31/daredevil-17/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/31/daredevil-17/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 04:57:38 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46895 Daredevil #17

Daredevil’s attempt to deal with the Kingpin in order to stop the Shroud doesn’t work out as planned, since the Kingpin has another player in the game, Daredevil’s antithesis, Ikari.

Why does it seem that Daredevil always has one trajectory in his life: downward? Because it’s a natural outcome from the highs of the first issues of the series’ recent relaunch. What comes up must come down, after all, and what was lighthearted and quippy must become tragic and tense. The result makes for some truly gripping stories, with a narrative momentum that captures your attention and really makes you feel for these characters.

This issue is mostly an extended fight scene, with Daredevil on the ropes against Ikari. The full story is presented in a non-linear fashion, cutting from the action to the set-up, which itself is also fraught with tension as Kingpin and Daredevil trade verbal spars in their machinations against one another. In both battles, Daredevil appears out of his league and fights valiantly but ultimately ineffectively. What’s amazing is that Daredevil is quite competent, and in any other story, we’d expect it to all set up some amazing twist to show how Daredevil comes out on top. But instead, that twist never comes. For every step that Daredevil appears to be ahead of the villains, the villains are actually two steps ahead.

An example is the reveal of Daredevil’s signature costume. It’s set up at the moment that Daredevil appears at the end of his rope, but still manages to trade a verbal barb (“enjoying the dance?”) and the lead-in panel focuses on Daredevil’s smug half-smile as he prepares to change. Then, a half-page spread as he rips off his red suit to reveal the costume underneath in a dramatic flourish. (We’ll forgive the way the mask magically appears at the same time, and we’ll take some time to lament the suit & tie, which I absolutely loved.) However, rather than being the moment of rally, the situation turns as the Shroud appears,  snatching any hope from Daredevil’s momentary upper hand.

In the same way, the art throughout the book enhances the tone and story (note that Chris Samnee is always credited as Storyteller alongside Mark Waid.) The panels are always so economical, in that they feature exactly what is needed in exactly the best way. One of the ways this is achieved is the visual momentum from panel to panel, such as paying attention to the 180 Degree Rule (a film term that describes the way the camera stays on one side to the scene.) When Ikari and Daredevil fight on page 9, for example, Ikari is always on the left, until the police are involved and the scene shifts on the next page. Likewise when Daredevil is having conversation with Kingpin. It’s a subtle way to maintain a flow visually. Every once in a while, however, some things get confusing, such as when Daredevil leaps up the bank of escalators in the beginning, but the angle of the panel is downward, which doesn’t make much visual sense.

The colors are used best when there’s a lot of shadows or when there’s a nightscape. They often enhance the tone and threaten to swallow up our characters. The airport scene at the beginning, though, doesn’t have this same approach, and feels almost out of place by comparison. The ending, however, is quite strong. Not only is there a wonderfully dramatic panel of Ikari falling from the building (a great use of perspective and negative space) but when Daredevil crumbles at the end, it’s into the shadows and the use of black. A nice cliffhanger on a visual and emotional beat.    

The post Daredevil #17 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Daredevil #17

Daredevil’s attempt to deal with the Kingpin in order to stop the Shroud doesn’t work out as planned, since the Kingpin has another player in the game, Daredevil’s antithesis, Ikari.

Why does it seem that Daredevil always has one trajectory in his life: downward? Because it’s a natural outcome from the highs of the first issues of the series’ recent relaunch. What comes up must come down, after all, and what was lighthearted and quippy must become tragic and tense. The result makes for some truly gripping stories, with a narrative momentum that captures your attention and really makes you feel for these characters.

This issue is mostly an extended fight scene, with Daredevil on the ropes against Ikari. The full story is presented in a non-linear fashion, cutting from the action to the set-up, which itself is also fraught with tension as Kingpin and Daredevil trade verbal spars in their machinations against one another. In both battles, Daredevil appears out of his league and fights valiantly but ultimately ineffectively. What’s amazing is that Daredevil is quite competent, and in any other story, we’d expect it to all set up some amazing twist to show how Daredevil comes out on top. But instead, that twist never comes. For every step that Daredevil appears to be ahead of the villains, the villains are actually two steps ahead.

An example is the reveal of Daredevil’s signature costume. It’s set up at the moment that Daredevil appears at the end of his rope, but still manages to trade a verbal barb (“enjoying the dance?”) and the lead-in panel focuses on Daredevil’s smug half-smile as he prepares to change. Then, a half-page spread as he rips off his red suit to reveal the costume underneath in a dramatic flourish. (We’ll forgive the way the mask magically appears at the same time, and we’ll take some time to lament the suit & tie, which I absolutely loved.) However, rather than being the moment of rally, the situation turns as the Shroud appears,  snatching any hope from Daredevil’s momentary upper hand.

In the same way, the art throughout the book enhances the tone and story (note that Chris Samnee is always credited as Storyteller alongside Mark Waid.) The panels are always so economical, in that they feature exactly what is needed in exactly the best way. One of the ways this is achieved is the visual momentum from panel to panel, such as paying attention to the 180 Degree Rule (a film term that describes the way the camera stays on one side to the scene.) When Ikari and Daredevil fight on page 9, for example, Ikari is always on the left, until the police are involved and the scene shifts on the next page. Likewise when Daredevil is having conversation with Kingpin. It’s a subtle way to maintain a flow visually. Every once in a while, however, some things get confusing, such as when Daredevil leaps up the bank of escalators in the beginning, but the angle of the panel is downward, which doesn’t make much visual sense.

The colors are used best when there’s a lot of shadows or when there’s a nightscape. They often enhance the tone and threaten to swallow up our characters. The airport scene at the beginning, though, doesn’t have this same approach, and feels almost out of place by comparison. The ending, however, is quite strong. Not only is there a wonderfully dramatic panel of Ikari falling from the building (a great use of perspective and negative space) but when Daredevil crumbles at the end, it’s into the shadows and the use of black. A nice cliffhanger on a visual and emotional beat.    

The post Daredevil #17 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Transformers #43http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/29/transformers-43/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/29/transformers-43/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 16:54:44 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46885 Transformers #43

Transformers #43 is a somewhat different issue than what we’ve been used to. It’s smaller in scale than the other season 2 stories, certainly smaller in every conceivable respect compared to “Combiner Wars”, and there’s a greater emphasis on out and out comedy. The focus is squarely on Cosmos and Soundwave, with their respective factions barely impacting the story. All things considered, this looked like a nice bit of character building filler.

And then things got real.

Hardly just the charming fluff it could easily have been, “South of Heaven” has a significant effect on both of its leads and positions at least one of them for what seem like very big things down the line. It also gives us a first person look at the oft mentioned Decepticon Colony and, while it’s largely what you’d expect, the clarity we receive about Soundwave’s philosophy, essentially the new Decepticon philosophy, really expands our perception of this title.

As much as I felt that Transformers: Robots in Disguise got a bad rap next to More Than Meets The Eye, I haven’t loved its second season nearly as much. The earthbound plots have felt comparatively simple and the new cast’s gags have fallen flat. “Combiner Wars” returned us to star-spanning political intrigue and huge battles, but, not only during but in the lead up to the event as well, Transformers was a little bit of a workhorse for that event, devoting huge swaths of time to moving pieces into position. I say this not to bury The Transformers, though, but to praise this issue, because all of a sudden I think I can see what John Barber was aiming for.

All of the elements that felt out of place in Season 2 stories come into their own this month. It feels like Barber has been waiting to tell this Soundwave story for a long time and elements like Cosmos’ feelings of isolation and the question of D.O.C.’s sentience have been brewing since issue #28. That said, there are built in limitations to what this strategy can achieve on its own and, while this issue sees it really shine for the first time, it doesn’t quite address what’s missing from the formula.

Of those elements that the issue nails, I think the comedy is one of the best. It’s not easy to write jokes that are funny because they’re not funny, but Barber more than manages this week. Making Laserbeak and Buzzsaw the Statler and Waldorf of the Decepticon movement is brilliant little gag, with Brawl proving a perfect target for their barbs, and Garrison Blackwell’s odd balance between master planner and possibly delusional goof really clicks. You can practically hear his affected enthusiasm as he asks Soundwave about “Spacebridges?”

In the end, the interplay between Cosmos and Soundwave is paramount, and it can kind of break your heart. The emotion of this piece is spot on and, while it does lack a bit in excitement and immediate importance, it not only carries the story through to its conclusion but gives it another dimension, beyond the simple point A to point B of serialized narrative. Besides how often do you get to see a giant flying saucer android say “Waka Waka”?

The time off during “Combiner Wars” has obviously rejuvenated Andrew Griffith, whose work is looking particularly precise this month. The line work is sharper than in previous issues and the titular bots are looking quite slick. The humans, undoubtedly the element that has most frequently thrown Griffith, are also improved. The fine lines employed are useful for communicating the specificities of organic expressions as much as the angular perfection of Cybertronian forms. It also helps that the humans’ space suits focus both the artist and the readers’ attentions on their faces and that Garrison Blackrock provides such clear emotions for himself and all those around him.

Artistically the greatest flaw is probably largely the script’s doing. There is a lot of talking this issue and the major participants in these conversations tend to lack faces. The result is a lot of well drawn panels of Soundwave and Cosmos that don’t say much on their own. When I was a film student my professors taught me that if you couldn’t understand a shot or a sequence with the sound off, you hadn’t tapped its potential. For any beauty that Griffith brings to the page, there are significant sections where the book just doesn’t pass that test.

 

 

A Thought:

  • I’ve already written briefly about my feelings towards the anti-organic underpinnings of IDW’s take on Decepticonism, but it really comes to the fore again here. I think it’s fascinating how Soundwave can be both sympathetic and horrifying at the same time and his matter-of-fact explanation, built on the soundness of his reasoning thus far, is a great punch to the gut that caps a strong issue. Despite an effective use of the philosophy, it still, perhaps especially in the case of Soundwave, feels strange to see the Decepticons’ compassion run out so abruptly. It just feels like true believers like Megatron, Ravage, and Soundwave would have to eventually run up against the oddity of such a non-intersectional movement for equality and, in fact, it seems like Soundwave might have had some ‘wobbles’ as Megatron puts it. While the current creative teams inherited and partially justified this contradiction, it can feel like a simplistic way of ensuring that the Decepticons never run the risk of having a moral high ground. Does anybody else feel this way? Does anybody else spend this much time thinking about Transformers?

The post Transformers #43 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Transformers #43

Transformers #43 is a somewhat different issue than what we’ve been used to. It’s smaller in scale than the other season 2 stories, certainly smaller in every conceivable respect compared to “Combiner Wars”, and there’s a greater emphasis on out and out comedy. The focus is squarely on Cosmos and Soundwave, with their respective factions barely impacting the story. All things considered, this looked like a nice bit of character building filler.

And then things got real.

Hardly just the charming fluff it could easily have been, “South of Heaven” has a significant effect on both of its leads and positions at least one of them for what seem like very big things down the line. It also gives us a first person look at the oft mentioned Decepticon Colony and, while it’s largely what you’d expect, the clarity we receive about Soundwave’s philosophy, essentially the new Decepticon philosophy, really expands our perception of this title.

As much as I felt that Transformers: Robots in Disguise got a bad rap next to More Than Meets The Eye, I haven’t loved its second season nearly as much. The earthbound plots have felt comparatively simple and the new cast’s gags have fallen flat. “Combiner Wars” returned us to star-spanning political intrigue and huge battles, but, not only during but in the lead up to the event as well, Transformers was a little bit of a workhorse for that event, devoting huge swaths of time to moving pieces into position. I say this not to bury The Transformers, though, but to praise this issue, because all of a sudden I think I can see what John Barber was aiming for.

All of the elements that felt out of place in Season 2 stories come into their own this month. It feels like Barber has been waiting to tell this Soundwave story for a long time and elements like Cosmos’ feelings of isolation and the question of D.O.C.’s sentience have been brewing since issue #28. That said, there are built in limitations to what this strategy can achieve on its own and, while this issue sees it really shine for the first time, it doesn’t quite address what’s missing from the formula.

Of those elements that the issue nails, I think the comedy is one of the best. It’s not easy to write jokes that are funny because they’re not funny, but Barber more than manages this week. Making Laserbeak and Buzzsaw the Statler and Waldorf of the Decepticon movement is brilliant little gag, with Brawl proving a perfect target for their barbs, and Garrison Blackwell’s odd balance between master planner and possibly delusional goof really clicks. You can practically hear his affected enthusiasm as he asks Soundwave about “Spacebridges?”

In the end, the interplay between Cosmos and Soundwave is paramount, and it can kind of break your heart. The emotion of this piece is spot on and, while it does lack a bit in excitement and immediate importance, it not only carries the story through to its conclusion but gives it another dimension, beyond the simple point A to point B of serialized narrative. Besides how often do you get to see a giant flying saucer android say “Waka Waka”?

The time off during “Combiner Wars” has obviously rejuvenated Andrew Griffith, whose work is looking particularly precise this month. The line work is sharper than in previous issues and the titular bots are looking quite slick. The humans, undoubtedly the element that has most frequently thrown Griffith, are also improved. The fine lines employed are useful for communicating the specificities of organic expressions as much as the angular perfection of Cybertronian forms. It also helps that the humans’ space suits focus both the artist and the readers’ attentions on their faces and that Garrison Blackrock provides such clear emotions for himself and all those around him.

Artistically the greatest flaw is probably largely the script’s doing. There is a lot of talking this issue and the major participants in these conversations tend to lack faces. The result is a lot of well drawn panels of Soundwave and Cosmos that don’t say much on their own. When I was a film student my professors taught me that if you couldn’t understand a shot or a sequence with the sound off, you hadn’t tapped its potential. For any beauty that Griffith brings to the page, there are significant sections where the book just doesn’t pass that test.

  A Thought:
  • I’ve already written briefly about my feelings towards the anti-organic underpinnings of IDW’s take on Decepticonism, but it really comes to the fore again here. I think it’s fascinating how Soundwave can be both sympathetic and horrifying at the same time and his matter-of-fact explanation, built on the soundness of his reasoning thus far, is a great punch to the gut that caps a strong issue. Despite an effective use of the philosophy, it still, perhaps especially in the case of Soundwave, feels strange to see the Decepticons’ compassion run out so abruptly. It just feels like true believers like Megatron, Ravage, and Soundwave would have to eventually run up against the oddity of such a non-intersectional movement for equality and, in fact, it seems like Soundwave might have had some ‘wobbles’ as Megatron puts it. While the current creative teams inherited and partially justified this contradiction, it can feel like a simplistic way of ensuring that the Decepticons never run the risk of having a moral high ground. Does anybody else feel this way? Does anybody else spend this much time thinking about Transformers?

The post Transformers #43 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Lightning Round Reviewshttp://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/29/lightning-round-reviews/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/29/lightning-round-reviews/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 16:52:54 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46882 FIGHT CLUB 2 #3

POWER UP #1
BOOM! Box
Written by Kate Leth, Illustrated by Matt Cummings

"The customer is not always right, especially when he tries to kill everybody"

A new series by the creators behind the cartoons and comics of Bravest Warriors and Adventure Time? Worth checking out, right?

It’s a charming comic whose whimsy is largely due to Cumming’s art— a perfect example of today’s very simple graphic aesthetic, one that features hyper-expressive cartooning. It’s those expressions that lend the comic its energy and verve. Really, the backgrounds, be they interiors or simple color washes, exist only to enhance the characters and their expressions. The other strength is in the timing of the panels. Things are perfectly paced to capture humor and pathos, often nicely sequential in set-up and follow-through. The moment of “power up” is dramatically paced, an effective use of page-turn into a colorful double-page spread.

The writing? Well, it’s more of an “eh.” It’s pretty standard stuff as our “everyperson” hero encounters the strange and is suddenly thrust into a new paradigm of the world. It’s all a bit normal for this kind of story, especially considering the surrealism that marks the creator’s previous works. The main characters are very well realized and interact with each other in both real and humorous moments, but without such signature art, I doubt that the story could distinguish itself in any special way.

Grade: B

FIGHT CLUB 2 #3
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Chuck Palahniuk, Art by Cameron Stewart, Colors by Dave Stewart, Lettering/Design by Nate Piekos of Blambot

"Joseph Campbell forgot 'Sits on the front porch for a couple of days' as part of the hero's journey"

So… the Narrator/Sebastian makes his way into Project Mayhem’s headquarters, except he’s already there because Tyler Durden takes command of his network of anarchistic agents? This issue marks the transition into a kind of second act (explicitly referencing Campbell’s heroic journey at one point) but the subjective nature of the POV created by the writer/artist is starting to confuse things to the point that it’s disruptive to the story. We all know Sebastian/Tyler are the same guy at this point, but it’s presented as if everyone else in the world does not. How can he stay on the porch outside the Mayhem Sanctum at one moment and the next panel command everyone’s attention inside? I’m all for creative narrative structures, but you can’t use the same one from Fight Club 1 if you are amping up every other element of the story into a Fight Club 2.

That’s not to say there aren’t some effective moments. There’s humor/satire with Sebastian catching his son reading the Bible; there’s some disturbing moments as Mayhem attempts to cull undesirable members of society; there’s some intrigue as we start to see the true extent of Mayhem’s reach. Philosophical and moody, issue #3 shows the strengths of previous issues, but the style of storytelling is starting to get in the way of it all.

Grade: B-   

PREZ #2
DC
Written by Mark Russell, Penciled by Ben Caldwell, Inked by Mark Morales, Colored by Jeremy Lawson, Lettered by Travis Lanham

"The electoral college has a strict 'no take-backs' policy, similar to my third grade four square games."

The nation elects its first teenage President, thanks to the pettiness of the electorates. Along the way, we get even more satire, more emotional beats, and even some philosophical musings, amid a whole lot more world-building.

There’s so much packed into every page of this comic. A lot of the humor comes from what’s visual and/or what’s in the background, swirling around the characters who are oblivious to the absurdity of their world. Some of it’s basic sci-fi stuff— the people have implants that produce heads-up displays instead of carrying around a smartphone, for example. Other times it’s pretty biting satire— the advertisements that follow the people through the hospital unless you opt-out for fifty dollars. Unfortunately, it gets a bit much, and there’s a line the book crosses into pure silliness that makes the world feel too unreal at times. When that happens, it threatens to take away from the satire because these situations just can’t be taken seriously.

There’s one really poignant moment as Prez visits her father in the hospital. The speech there is just so moving and effective… Can I pull it out and frame it? It’s a truly heartfelt moment for anyone who feels down or insignificant or just needs to take a moment to step back and wonder about the universe. I don’t care if the rest of the series tanks. That sequence was worth it all.

Grade: A      

WEIRDWORLD #2
Marvel
Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Mike Del Mundo, Colors by Mike Del Mundo & Marco D’Alfonso, Letters by VC’s Cory Petit

"Hey, it could be worse. They could have picked other 80s' toys like Pound Puppies or Go-Bots."

The craziness, or I should say weirdness, of issue #1 contines. Arkon the Barbarian continues his quest to return to Polemachus, now aided by Warbow, Warrior of the Crystallium, who has a quest to rescue Crystar the Crystal Warrior.

The art continues to be reminiscent of the 70s/80s high fantasy style, and most of the pages are brilliantly rendered, especially when Warbow’s crystal body is in contrast to the backgrounds. I’ll admit that other times the colors are a bit too muddied or overall blur together, lending a kind of “sameness” to a page and things lose their distinction at first glance.

With the introduction of Warbow, it’s clear the comic is also using as its source material the world of Crystar, which apparently was one of Marvel’s attempts in the 80s to create comics and toys in hopes to elicit a licensing deal, but it failed to connect to audiences. Sure enough (thanks, Wikipedia!), the other named character, Moltar, is a key player in the Saga of Crystar. An intriguing spin on some obscure characters.

Grade: B   

The post Lightning Round Reviews appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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FIGHT CLUB 2 #3

POWER UP #1 BOOM! Box Written by Kate Leth, Illustrated by Matt Cummings

"The customer is not always right, especially when he tries to kill everybody"

A new series by the creators behind the cartoons and comics of Bravest Warriors and Adventure Time? Worth checking out, right?

It’s a charming comic whose whimsy is largely due to Cumming’s art— a perfect example of today’s very simple graphic aesthetic, one that features hyper-expressive cartooning. It’s those expressions that lend the comic its energy and verve. Really, the backgrounds, be they interiors or simple color washes, exist only to enhance the characters and their expressions. The other strength is in the timing of the panels. Things are perfectly paced to capture humor and pathos, often nicely sequential in set-up and follow-through. The moment of “power up” is dramatically paced, an effective use of page-turn into a colorful double-page spread.

The writing? Well, it’s more of an “eh.” It’s pretty standard stuff as our “everyperson” hero encounters the strange and is suddenly thrust into a new paradigm of the world. It’s all a bit normal for this kind of story, especially considering the surrealism that marks the creator’s previous works. The main characters are very well realized and interact with each other in both real and humorous moments, but without such signature art, I doubt that the story could distinguish itself in any special way.

Grade: B

FIGHT CLUB 2 #3 Dark Horse Comics Written by Chuck Palahniuk, Art by Cameron Stewart, Colors by Dave Stewart, Lettering/Design by Nate Piekos of Blambot

"Joseph Campbell forgot 'Sits on the front porch for a couple of days' as part of the hero's journey"

So… the Narrator/Sebastian makes his way into Project Mayhem’s headquarters, except he’s already there because Tyler Durden takes command of his network of anarchistic agents? This issue marks the transition into a kind of second act (explicitly referencing Campbell’s heroic journey at one point) but the subjective nature of the POV created by the writer/artist is starting to confuse things to the point that it’s disruptive to the story. We all know Sebastian/Tyler are the same guy at this point, but it’s presented as if everyone else in the world does not. How can he stay on the porch outside the Mayhem Sanctum at one moment and the next panel command everyone’s attention inside? I’m all for creative narrative structures, but you can’t use the same one from Fight Club 1 if you are amping up every other element of the story into a Fight Club 2.

That’s not to say there aren’t some effective moments. There’s humor/satire with Sebastian catching his son reading the Bible; there’s some disturbing moments as Mayhem attempts to cull undesirable members of society; there’s some intrigue as we start to see the true extent of Mayhem’s reach. Philosophical and moody, issue #3 shows the strengths of previous issues, but the style of storytelling is starting to get in the way of it all.

Grade: B-   

PREZ #2 DC Written by Mark Russell, Penciled by Ben Caldwell, Inked by Mark Morales, Colored by Jeremy Lawson, Lettered by Travis Lanham

"The electoral college has a strict 'no take-backs' policy, similar to my third grade four square games."

The nation elects its first teenage President, thanks to the pettiness of the electorates. Along the way, we get even more satire, more emotional beats, and even some philosophical musings, amid a whole lot more world-building.

There’s so much packed into every page of this comic. A lot of the humor comes from what’s visual and/or what’s in the background, swirling around the characters who are oblivious to the absurdity of their world. Some of it’s basic sci-fi stuff— the people have implants that produce heads-up displays instead of carrying around a smartphone, for example. Other times it’s pretty biting satire— the advertisements that follow the people through the hospital unless you opt-out for fifty dollars. Unfortunately, it gets a bit much, and there’s a line the book crosses into pure silliness that makes the world feel too unreal at times. When that happens, it threatens to take away from the satire because these situations just can’t be taken seriously.

There’s one really poignant moment as Prez visits her father in the hospital. The speech there is just so moving and effective… Can I pull it out and frame it? It’s a truly heartfelt moment for anyone who feels down or insignificant or just needs to take a moment to step back and wonder about the universe. I don’t care if the rest of the series tanks. That sequence was worth it all.

Grade: A      

WEIRDWORLD #2 Marvel Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Mike Del Mundo, Colors by Mike Del Mundo & Marco D’Alfonso, Letters by VC’s Cory Petit

"Hey, it could be worse. They could have picked other 80s' toys like Pound Puppies or Go-Bots."

The craziness, or I should say weirdness, of issue #1 contines. Arkon the Barbarian continues his quest to return to Polemachus, now aided by Warbow, Warrior of the Crystallium, who has a quest to rescue Crystar the Crystal Warrior.

The art continues to be reminiscent of the 70s/80s high fantasy style, and most of the pages are brilliantly rendered, especially when Warbow’s crystal body is in contrast to the backgrounds. I’ll admit that other times the colors are a bit too muddied or overall blur together, lending a kind of “sameness” to a page and things lose their distinction at first glance.

With the introduction of Warbow, it’s clear the comic is also using as its source material the world of Crystar, which apparently was one of Marvel’s attempts in the 80s to create comics and toys in hopes to elicit a licensing deal, but it failed to connect to audiences. Sure enough (thanks, Wikipedia!), the other named character, Moltar, is a key player in the Saga of Crystar. An intriguing spin on some obscure characters.

Grade: B   

The post Lightning Round Reviews appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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Aquaman #42http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/28/aquaman-42/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/28/aquaman-42/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 05:07:32 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46860 Aquaman #42

One of the more amusing scenes from the movie Cabin in the Woods is when the technicians and bureaucrats who lurk behind every formulaic teen slasher film from the 1980s forward gather in their control room to conduct a lottery concerning the threat the heroes of the movie will face.  Will it be the murderous unicorn or the giant spider or the werewolf or the cannibalistic pain-worshipping zombies?  One can imagine a similar control room for he DCU these days, as it seems like many of the stories have become almost as formulaic as the dreadful films Cabin in the Woods was, in part, lampooning.  The formula involves a hero or set of heroes suddenly separated from comfortable and familiar surroundings and faced with incursions into the Earth universe by an extradimensional threat.  You can see the technicians gathered and placing their bets.  Will it be Darkseid?   Will it be left over waves from the Convergence event?  Will it be living shadows?  Or will it be, as in Aquaman, the lost remnants of Atlantis now trying to find their way home? Much of this issue is devoted to clearing up the mystery set out in last month's story.  Why has Arthur become estranged from his kingdom?  Well, it turns out he hasn't ... exactly.  Much of Aquaman #42 is an exercise in see-sawing back and forth through time, from the recent past to the present.  It turns out that King Arthur received news that some foreign reality was extruding into the Earth realm, a reality that had poisonous effects on the Earth environment.  He departs to take care of the situation, leaving Mera in charge of Atlantis in his absence.  However, it turns out that this reality is actually inhabited by refugees from an ancient offshoot of Atlantis.  They are now fleeing the other world, called Thule, and asking their ancient home to give them shelter from the evil that seems to be pursuing on their heels.  Aquaman, feeling responsibility as their king, for they are Atlanteans of a kind, agrees to help them.  The problem is that the evil that they bring with them is real enough, as is the poisonous effect of their reality.  If he cannot find a way to save the refugees and close off the incursions quickly, he will be forced to take action to destroy Thule before it irrevocably poisons Earth.  Meanwhile, the Atlanteans of his present kingdom are enraged that he has risked the world for the sake of strangers, and have declared him outlaw.

So, Aquaman's present status finally begins to make a kind of sense.  Of course, all kinds of questions immediately arise.  Is King Arthur really so bad at communication and persuasion that he cannot explain to his subjects why he has decided to aid the refugees?  Are these incursions not a Justice League level problem?  Aren't all these extradimensional threats turning the walls of reality around Earth into Swiss cheese?  I suppose one could make an argument from the current mantra of the DC You initiative, story over continuity.  But there is still some form of continuity, for Arthur's current situation has been referenced in Justice League United, and even as he prepares to fight the latest incursion, enter none other than Garth stage left at the head of a group of hunters sent by Mera to bring her errant lover back to Atlantis.  Garth appeared in the previous issue, but one suspects his appearance at this moment is at least partly in preparation for the upcoming Titans Hunt title announced earlier this month.

Despite the problems with Cullen Bunn's storyline, the artwork by McCarthy, Merino, Wong, and Major skillfully supports the storyline by creating a clear separation between eras.  The earlier flashbacks make use of clear lines and bright colors, a kind of classical Aquaman look.  The later eras use blurred forms, heavy shadows, and murky greens and oranges to suggest a world grown confused and complicated, difficult and poisoned.  If we don't yet quite understand quite what happened or why it happened, it is nevertheless visually clear that something DID happen.

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Aquaman #42

One of the more amusing scenes from the movie Cabin in the Woods is when the technicians and bureaucrats who lurk behind every formulaic teen slasher film from the 1980s forward gather in their control room to conduct a lottery concerning the threat the heroes of the movie will face.  Will it be the murderous unicorn or the giant spider or the werewolf or the cannibalistic pain-worshipping zombies?  One can imagine a similar control room for he DCU these days, as it seems like many of the stories have become almost as formulaic as the dreadful films Cabin in the Woods was, in part, lampooning.  The formula involves a hero or set of heroes suddenly separated from comfortable and familiar surroundings and faced with incursions into the Earth universe by an extradimensional threat.  You can see the technicians gathered and placing their bets.  Will it be Darkseid?   Will it be left over waves from the Convergence event?  Will it be living shadows?  Or will it be, as in Aquaman, the lost remnants of Atlantis now trying to find their way home? Much of this issue is devoted to clearing up the mystery set out in last month's story.  Why has Arthur become estranged from his kingdom?  Well, it turns out he hasn't ... exactly.  Much of Aquaman #42 is an exercise in see-sawing back and forth through time, from the recent past to the present.  It turns out that King Arthur received news that some foreign reality was extruding into the Earth realm, a reality that had poisonous effects on the Earth environment.  He departs to take care of the situation, leaving Mera in charge of Atlantis in his absence.  However, it turns out that this reality is actually inhabited by refugees from an ancient offshoot of Atlantis.  They are now fleeing the other world, called Thule, and asking their ancient home to give them shelter from the evil that seems to be pursuing on their heels.  Aquaman, feeling responsibility as their king, for they are Atlanteans of a kind, agrees to help them.  The problem is that the evil that they bring with them is real enough, as is the poisonous effect of their reality.  If he cannot find a way to save the refugees and close off the incursions quickly, he will be forced to take action to destroy Thule before it irrevocably poisons Earth.  Meanwhile, the Atlanteans of his present kingdom are enraged that he has risked the world for the sake of strangers, and have declared him outlaw.So, Aquaman's present status finally begins to make a kind of sense.  Of course, all kinds of questions immediately arise.  Is King Arthur really so bad at communication and persuasion that he cannot explain to his subjects why he has decided to aid the refugees?  Are these incursions not a Justice League level problem?  Aren't all these extradimensional threats turning the walls of reality around Earth into Swiss cheese?  I suppose one could make an argument from the current mantra of the DC You initiative, story over continuity.  But there is still some form of continuity, for Arthur's current situation has been referenced in Justice League United, and even as he prepares to fight the latest incursion, enter none other than Garth stage left at the head of a group of hunters sent by Mera to bring her errant lover back to Atlantis.  Garth appeared in the previous issue, but one suspects his appearance at this moment is at least partly in preparation for the upcoming Titans Hunt title announced earlier this month.Despite the problems with Cullen Bunn's storyline, the artwork by McCarthy, Merino, Wong, and Major skillfully supports the storyline by creating a clear separation between eras.  The earlier flashbacks make use of clear lines and bright colors, a kind of classical Aquaman look.  The later eras use blurred forms, heavy shadows, and murky greens and oranges to suggest a world grown confused and complicated, difficult and poisoned.  If we don't yet quite understand quite what happened or why it happened, it is nevertheless visually clear that something DID happen.

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Cyborg #1http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/28/cyborg-1/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/28/cyborg-1/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 05:04:50 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46858 Cyborg #1

There are books and there are clichés that come out between covers.  They look very much the same at first glance, and, depending on circumstances of demand and marketing, there is no way to predict which of the two will be more popular or a bigger commercial success.  Nevertheless, the two are different things, and Cyborg #1 has every appearance of being a cliché.  Specifically, it is a weary retread of tropes concerning loving but cold and neglectful fathers and dutiful but resentful sons that have been played out in multiple forms and variations with nearly every superhero "family" over the last forty years.  Bats, Kryptonians, Atlanteans, Hawks, Archers, and others have all gone through this dance.  Only the Flashes largely managed to avoid it.  Now Victor Stone comes into the fray with his long-delayed solo series using his troubled relationship with his father as the unwelcome organizing principle.

Victor has recently died and mysteriously been resurrected, or in his case it's probably more accurate to say he has been repaired by some unknown and powerful agency.  His father and the other scientists at STAR Labs find this fascinating, to quote the late Leonard Nimoy in his most famous role, so fascinating they tend to regard Victor as a bundle of data more than a human being, as their youngest, and most attractive, colleague predictably, and stereotypically, points out.  Victor predictably, and stereotypically, makes a show of noble understanding while making it clear that he is disappointed and seething beneath.  About the only original twist is Dr. Stone's common sense observation that when your son can instantaneously teleport across galaxies, his traveling to visit you doesn't necessarily indicate any great effort to see you or burning desire to overcome obstacles to be in your presence.

While all this family drama unfolds on Earth, with relatively little else going on, we see a war on an alien world between two technologically sophisticated races.  One race is called the Technosapiens.  The other are known as the Techbreakers.  Exactly what that means we do not really find out.  We do find out that at least some of the soldiers fighting for the Techbreakers appear to be human and possibly cybernetic.  When they fall into the hands of the Technosapiens, that race determines that they humans and their tech "sing of perfection," and that the Technosapiens must find the source of this power.

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Cyborg #1

There are books and there are clichés that come out between covers.  They look very much the same at first glance, and, depending on circumstances of demand and marketing, there is no way to predict which of the two will be more popular or a bigger commercial success.  Nevertheless, the two are different things, and Cyborg #1 has every appearance of being a cliché.  Specifically, it is a weary retread of tropes concerning loving but cold and neglectful fathers and dutiful but resentful sons that have been played out in multiple forms and variations with nearly every superhero "family" over the last forty years.  Bats, Kryptonians, Atlanteans, Hawks, Archers, and others have all gone through this dance.  Only the Flashes largely managed to avoid it.  Now Victor Stone comes into the fray with his long-delayed solo series using his troubled relationship with his father as the unwelcome organizing principle.Victor has recently died and mysteriously been resurrected, or in his case it's probably more accurate to say he has been repaired by some unknown and powerful agency.  His father and the other scientists at STAR Labs find this fascinating, to quote the late Leonard Nimoy in his most famous role, so fascinating they tend to regard Victor as a bundle of data more than a human being, as their youngest, and most attractive, colleague predictably, and stereotypically, points out.  Victor predictably, and stereotypically, makes a show of noble understanding while making it clear that he is disappointed and seething beneath.  About the only original twist is Dr. Stone's common sense observation that when your son can instantaneously teleport across galaxies, his traveling to visit you doesn't necessarily indicate any great effort to see you or burning desire to overcome obstacles to be in your presence.While all this family drama unfolds on Earth, with relatively little else going on, we see a war on an alien world between two technologically sophisticated races.  One race is called the Technosapiens.  The other are known as the Techbreakers.  Exactly what that means we do not really find out.  We do find out that at least some of the soldiers fighting for the Techbreakers appear to be human and possibly cybernetic.  When they fall into the hands of the Technosapiens, that race determines that they humans and their tech "sing of perfection," and that the Technosapiens must find the source of this power.

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We Are Robin #2http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/27/robin-2/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/27/robin-2/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 08:10:04 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46869 We Are Robin #2

Picking up directly from the ending of last month’s installment, We Are Robin #2 shows us how Duke Thomas falls in with a new group of friends, or is it work associates? With more immediate priorities to motivate him, Duke feels a lot more relatable than he did in the last issue. Gone are the odd references and awkward affectations, instead posing his monologue as a letter to his missing mother and father helps Duke feel natural and real.

Though the transition from refusal of the call to leader of the fellowship is papered over with some simple writing trickery, the plot, the path that it follows, is fairly smart and innately intriguing. There are many books that survive months and sometimes years on the strength of cliffhangers that never improve the experience of the next issue, but now that Lee Bermejo has tipped his hand and revealed the primary mystery of this title, things have changed decisively for the better.

There are plenty of hints and misdirections towards who exactly is behind the Robins, but, whoever it is, there’s a natural gravity about the question. It’s also interesting to see Bermejo not only employing and subverting elements of the Robin paradigm, but actively questioning them as well. The stories of how ‘The Nest’ brought the Robins in are definitely eerier than the much dissected ways that Batman came in contact with his wards, raising questions of how disposable these young heroes are, yet there’s actually a greater element of choice in their recruitment than the classic Robin origin laid out in Batman #1.

The mystery surrounding The Nest isn’t just for the reader’s benefit, either. For the Robins, their mission becomes a kind of Rorschach Test, revealing their dreams and strengths and weaknesses. Troy’s frame of reference is clearly football and he treats being a Robin like a game, like a scholarship. Dax, on the other hand, didn’t require a complex scenario, he clearly needs only the thinnest of evidence to convince himself that he’s been chosen by the Bat. And while Izzy’s defining character trait seems to be her awareness of the insane risk that comes with being a Robin, the fact that she’s still there says a lot about her. It’s not the most brilliant character work, but it’s effective and the ability to communicate character swiftly will be a valuable one on a team book like this.

While there are moments where it slips into caricature, for the most part, Bermejo manages to write a team of believable teenagers. There’s something about the way they complain that feels very truthful. It’s also really nice to have such a street level view of Gotham’s craziness again. The fear and respect and admiration of Batman the Robins display is a little mentioned but inevitable part of his existence. As Dre puts it, “Everybody has a Batman story they pull out of their ass to impress the girls.”

The narration in the epilogue is sufficiently moody, if a bit over the top. I can’t tell yet if that’s a comment on the viewpoint of our mysterious hero, a parody of such writing in Batman stories, or an honest indulgence on Bermejo’s part. I’m skeptical but not willing to pass judgment on it just yet. Regardless, say what you will about any of the issue’s dialogue, but it never stops you dead and the plot it advances is clever and enticing.

It seems like there was no mistake in seeing Rob Haynes and Jorge Corona providing the art on the first two installments of this series. Khary Randolph is back again, but it seems that he’s limited to the epilogue artwork for the moment. That’s not such a bad thing. The series admittedly has a few too many hands working on the art, but that decreases the chance of fill in work and both teams work well with the stories they’re presented.

The more I see of Jorge Corona’s art for this book, the more I like it. The opening page features some unfortunate grotesqueries, but for the most part it’s very pleasing to the eye. The heavy lines and sharp features give the book character and a feeling of directness that fits the team we’ve been introduced to. If there’s a major artistic misstep from his section it’s probably that in one instance the utility of a narrative;y important flare isn’t communicated at all.

Adding yet another artist into the mix, Trish Mulvihill does a fine job with the colors, making a book dominated by yellow-green as lovely as it could be and doing fantastic work with accent colors, especially when we escape the ever present mustard brown decay of Gotham.

The compositions are nice. Haynes clearly has a good sense of how inject energy into a panel. The book tends to involve multiple characters on multiple planes and, simple as that is, it’s both distinct and effective.

Khary Randolph has a sharper style that feels like a different variation on the same theme. There are perhaps too many panels that your eyes pass over, but there’s at least one on each of his pages that makes a clear impression. I think that if Randolph’s art is to be tied to The Nest there’s definite potential here, but so long as he’s only contributing a couple of pages a month, I think we’re quickly going to require more to justify the abrupt change in artist.

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We Are Robin #2

Picking up directly from the ending of last month’s installment, We Are Robin #2 shows us how Duke Thomas falls in with a new group of friends, or is it work associates? With more immediate priorities to motivate him, Duke feels a lot more relatable than he did in the last issue. Gone are the odd references and awkward affectations, instead posing his monologue as a letter to his missing mother and father helps Duke feel natural and real.

Though the transition from refusal of the call to leader of the fellowship is papered over with some simple writing trickery, the plot, the path that it follows, is fairly smart and innately intriguing. There are many books that survive months and sometimes years on the strength of cliffhangers that never improve the experience of the next issue, but now that Lee Bermejo has tipped his hand and revealed the primary mystery of this title, things have changed decisively for the better.

There are plenty of hints and misdirections towards who exactly is behind the Robins, but, whoever it is, there’s a natural gravity about the question. It’s also interesting to see Bermejo not only employing and subverting elements of the Robin paradigm, but actively questioning them as well. The stories of how ‘The Nest’ brought the Robins in are definitely eerier than the much dissected ways that Batman came in contact with his wards, raising questions of how disposable these young heroes are, yet there’s actually a greater element of choice in their recruitment than the classic Robin origin laid out in Batman #1.

The mystery surrounding The Nest isn’t just for the reader’s benefit, either. For the Robins, their mission becomes a kind of Rorschach Test, revealing their dreams and strengths and weaknesses. Troy’s frame of reference is clearly football and he treats being a Robin like a game, like a scholarship. Dax, on the other hand, didn’t require a complex scenario, he clearly needs only the thinnest of evidence to convince himself that he’s been chosen by the Bat. And while Izzy’s defining character trait seems to be her awareness of the insane risk that comes with being a Robin, the fact that she’s still there says a lot about her. It’s not the most brilliant character work, but it’s effective and the ability to communicate character swiftly will be a valuable one on a team book like this.

While there are moments where it slips into caricature, for the most part, Bermejo manages to write a team of believable teenagers. There’s something about the way they complain that feels very truthful. It’s also really nice to have such a street level view of Gotham’s craziness again. The fear and respect and admiration of Batman the Robins display is a little mentioned but inevitable part of his existence. As Dre puts it, “Everybody has a Batman story they pull out of their ass to impress the girls.”

The narration in the epilogue is sufficiently moody, if a bit over the top. I can’t tell yet if that’s a comment on the viewpoint of our mysterious hero, a parody of such writing in Batman stories, or an honest indulgence on Bermejo’s part. I’m skeptical but not willing to pass judgment on it just yet. Regardless, say what you will about any of the issue’s dialogue, but it never stops you dead and the plot it advances is clever and enticing.

It seems like there was no mistake in seeing Rob Haynes and Jorge Corona providing the art on the first two installments of this series. Khary Randolph is back again, but it seems that he’s limited to the epilogue artwork for the moment. That’s not such a bad thing. The series admittedly has a few too many hands working on the art, but that decreases the chance of fill in work and both teams work well with the stories they’re presented.

The more I see of Jorge Corona’s art for this book, the more I like it. The opening page features some unfortunate grotesqueries, but for the most part it’s very pleasing to the eye. The heavy lines and sharp features give the book character and a feeling of directness that fits the team we’ve been introduced to. If there’s a major artistic misstep from his section it’s probably that in one instance the utility of a narrative;y important flare isn’t communicated at all.

Adding yet another artist into the mix, Trish Mulvihill does a fine job with the colors, making a book dominated by yellow-green as lovely as it could be and doing fantastic work with accent colors, especially when we escape the ever present mustard brown decay of Gotham.

The compositions are nice. Haynes clearly has a good sense of how inject energy into a panel. The book tends to involve multiple characters on multiple planes and, simple as that is, it’s both distinct and effective.

Khary Randolph has a sharper style that feels like a different variation on the same theme. There are perhaps too many panels that your eyes pass over, but there’s at least one on each of his pages that makes a clear impression. I think that if Randolph’s art is to be tied to The Nest there’s definite potential here, but so long as he’s only contributing a couple of pages a month, I think we’re quickly going to require more to justify the abrupt change in artist.

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C.O.W.L. #11http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/27/c-o-w-l-11/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/27/c-o-w-l-11/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 08:09:16 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46867 C.O.W.L. #11

I was very sad to hear that this eleventh issue would be the last of C.O.W.L.’s run. Ever since its launch, C.O.W.L. has been one of ‘my’ books, those books that you mention whenever someone asks what comics you like. To see it go is both sad and surprising, it was considered successful enough to warrant a jazz soundtrack, after all. So with the last issue crossing over its climax but leaving the series on an upward trajectory, I was uncertain of how natural an ending this would be for the series.

I can’t say that it’s all tied up with a bow, some elements are hastily introduced just in time for the series to end, while others feel like they’re only open ended because they have to be, but, overall, I was impressed with how tidily Siegel and Higgins wrapped up the comic installment of their long simmering grad school opus.

I don’t know the reasons why C.O.W.L. ended and the issue doesn’t shed a lot of light on that, other than by being a fairly sensible place to pause. Whether it was a graceful cancellation or a harried decision by the creative team, the sense the issue gives is that of a superb emergency landing. Things are definitely a bit rushed, the issue opening with a consciously abrupt conclusion to one of the series’ biggest questions while the other is shelved, despite the characters themselves stating that such an outcome seemed unlikely. Nonetheless, the writers ensure that things flow naturally and that all lingering concerns left at issue’s end feel more like ambiguous conclusions.

The character work is top-notch as usual. Though I’ve said it many times before, you’ll forgive me if I mention how nice it is to read a book where the writing and art are both up to the challenge of conveying subtext without giving clear answers, after all, this is my last chance to do so. That’s a huge part of what makes this final installment both mysterious and satisfying. Even at this late stage we’re still learning huge things about characters like Blaze, Camden Stone, and Geoffrey Warner. Reginald, in particular, gets a long overdue turn in the spotlight, playing a very different role than I expected. His contrasts with Geoffrey are fascinating and his actions are far deeper and more interesting thanks to the insight that issue #4 granted us. It’s easy to be entranced by these vibrant, realistic characters and the narrative’s reluctance to provide easy answers to readers and characters alike feels earned. The writing lacks the focus displayed in the series’ best issues, but, with so much ground to cover and such a controlled and enjoyable showing, it’s very hard to hold that against it. Really the greatest problem with Siegel and Higgins’ work this month is that there’s no guarantee that we’ll get the answers to the questions it leaves us with.

Rod Reis remains an absolute superstar. Up to the very last moment, his artwork is thoughtful, beautiful, and fearless. Reis’ traditional labeling as a colorist clearly influences his work here, with gorgeous lighting effects and carefully constructed color palettes for each scene. The opening sequence, in particular benefits from Reis’ honed color sense, as he carefully removes all but the most essential color, providing a laser focus and a fine sense of Warner’s feelings towards Mayor Daly. Reis also utilizes some excellent textural tricks, giving the book a coarser grain as the air fills with cigarette smoke.

And of course, that’s only the new tricks that he’s brought with him. The standard stunning linework and incredible composition are very much in play this month. C.O.W.L.’s look has a lovely realism about it, but it’s easy to forget just how stylized it is. From the scratchiness of the lines, to the simple shapes the build these complex faces, Reis is very much an active participant in the reading experience. His use of sound effects and onomatopoeia is impressively natural, but the distinctive fonts and interactions with the story that he employs help convey the story’s attitude.

I will say that Eclipse’s build and weight seem to fluctuate from panel to panel, making him look a bit heavier than usual in a number of appearances, an uncharacteristic misstep for Reis. There’s also one panel near the end of the book where it appears that someone didn’t notice the silhouette of a character at the bottom of the panel and sent their balloon’s tail off panel.

Still, the overall effect of the art is breathtaking. Reis is clearly one of the most impressive talents working in comics today and I suspect that the reasons that he hasn’t been launched into stardom are the same reasons that C.O.W.L. is coming to an end.

The post C.O.W.L. #11 appeared first on Weekly Comic Book Review.

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C.O.W.L. #11

I was very sad to hear that this eleventh issue would be the last of C.O.W.L.’s run. Ever since its launch, C.O.W.L. has been one of ‘my’ books, those books that you mention whenever someone asks what comics you like. To see it go is both sad and surprising, it was considered successful enough to warrant a jazz soundtrack, after all. So with the last issue crossing over its climax but leaving the series on an upward trajectory, I was uncertain of how natural an ending this would be for the series.

I can’t say that it’s all tied up with a bow, some elements are hastily introduced just in time for the series to end, while others feel like they’re only open ended because they have to be, but, overall, I was impressed with how tidily Siegel and Higgins wrapped up the comic installment of their long simmering grad school opus.

I don’t know the reasons why C.O.W.L. ended and the issue doesn’t shed a lot of light on that, other than by being a fairly sensible place to pause. Whether it was a graceful cancellation or a harried decision by the creative team, the sense the issue gives is that of a superb emergency landing. Things are definitely a bit rushed, the issue opening with a consciously abrupt conclusion to one of the series’ biggest questions while the other is shelved, despite the characters themselves stating that such an outcome seemed unlikely. Nonetheless, the writers ensure that things flow naturally and that all lingering concerns left at issue’s end feel more like ambiguous conclusions.

The character work is top-notch as usual. Though I’ve said it many times before, you’ll forgive me if I mention how nice it is to read a book where the writing and art are both up to the challenge of conveying subtext without giving clear answers, after all, this is my last chance to do so. That’s a huge part of what makes this final installment both mysterious and satisfying. Even at this late stage we’re still learning huge things about characters like Blaze, Camden Stone, and Geoffrey Warner. Reginald, in particular, gets a long overdue turn in the spotlight, playing a very different role than I expected. His contrasts with Geoffrey are fascinating and his actions are far deeper and more interesting thanks to the insight that issue #4 granted us. It’s easy to be entranced by these vibrant, realistic characters and the narrative’s reluctance to provide easy answers to readers and characters alike feels earned. The writing lacks the focus displayed in the series’ best issues, but, with so much ground to cover and such a controlled and enjoyable showing, it’s very hard to hold that against it. Really the greatest problem with Siegel and Higgins’ work this month is that there’s no guarantee that we’ll get the answers to the questions it leaves us with.

Rod Reis remains an absolute superstar. Up to the very last moment, his artwork is thoughtful, beautiful, and fearless. Reis’ traditional labeling as a colorist clearly influences his work here, with gorgeous lighting effects and carefully constructed color palettes for each scene. The opening sequence, in particular benefits from Reis’ honed color sense, as he carefully removes all but the most essential color, providing a laser focus and a fine sense of Warner’s feelings towards Mayor Daly. Reis also utilizes some excellent textural tricks, giving the book a coarser grain as the air fills with cigarette smoke.

And of course, that’s only the new tricks that he’s brought with him. The standard stunning linework and incredible composition are very much in play this month. C.O.W.L.’s look has a lovely realism about it, but it’s easy to forget just how stylized it is. From the scratchiness of the lines, to the simple shapes the build these complex faces, Reis is very much an active participant in the reading experience. His use of sound effects and onomatopoeia is impressively natural, but the distinctive fonts and interactions with the story that he employs help convey the story’s attitude.

I will say that Eclipse’s build and weight seem to fluctuate from panel to panel, making him look a bit heavier than usual in a number of appearances, an uncharacteristic misstep for Reis. There’s also one panel near the end of the book where it appears that someone didn’t notice the silhouette of a character at the bottom of the panel and sent their balloon’s tail off panel.

Still, the overall effect of the art is breathtaking. Reis is clearly one of the most impressive talents working in comics today and I suspect that the reasons that he hasn’t been launched into stardom are the same reasons that C.O.W.L. is coming to an end.

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Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders #1http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/22/captain-britain-mighty-defenders-1/ http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/2015/07/22/captain-britain-mighty-defenders-1/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 05:18:52 +0000 http://weeklycomicbookreview.com/?p=46851 Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders #1

Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders is one of the shortest “Secret Wars” tie ins at only two issues, and it’s true that this issue’s pacing suggests that it could have filled at least three, but Al Ewing’s alternate alternate alternate universe story kind of benefits from the compressed time frame. Apparently starring survivors from the little glimpsed universe of Tony Stark’s dream from Iron Man: Fatal Frontier #9, CBatMD has a delightfully progressive energy, simply unwilling to bother with less than what the story, or the world, should be. A big part of that success is how engaging both Yinsen and Mondo City are. In only a few short pages, Ewing utterly convinces that Tony Stark should have been the one to die in the Iron Man story, likely to be resurrected Spider-Gwen-style at some later date. Rescue, the Defenders, it all feels incredibly natural, a Marvel Universe I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. Likewise, the satirical bombast of Mondo City is loads of fun, especially if you know the material its drawing from. Seeing a particularly literal version of War Machine or Emma Frost put into another familiar role, throwing around ‘focused totalities of her psychic powers’ really works.

I also applaud the character interaction and humor of this issue. She-Hulk’s Mjolnir being a gavel is funny enough, but the charm in her voice and her face when she explains why is hard to resist. Likewise, the under appreciated Hobie Brown gets a starring role, only to find that it isn’t necessarily enough to escape his standing and that the Parker luck seemingly comes with the costume. It’s also just nice to see Faiza Hussain cut through the requirements of the “Secret Wars” formula, but, lest you think Ewing’s take overly flippant, his use of Doctor Doom makes total sense and helps to justify the simplicity of the overall concept.

Admittedly, hindsight reveals a somewhat obvious structure hidden under meta-humor and some indulgences on the part of the writer. Spider Hero’s origin is undoubtedly fun, but it seems a bit unnecessary when you consider the short runtime of the miniseries and the fact that plenty of other characters escape with vague mentions of their origins or even without. I also have to say that I picked up this issue partially as a farewell to Ava Ayala, a favorite of Ewing’s Mighty Avengers run who won’t be back for Ultimates, at least not as a primary character. Unfortunately, fans of the White Tiger will find that she doesn’t have much room to breathe, more evidence that something could have been cut or another issue likely could have been added.

Alan Davis’ art is strong but occasionally doesn’t have enough to do. Davis’ style is nicely detailed without dipping into the uncanny valley. It’s a familiar enough look, following the trend of detailed art started by Greg Land in Mighty Avengers, but it also does a nice job of expressing the utopian truth of Yinsen City and the grim reality of Mondo City. There’s just enough bounce in the look of the comic, seen in She-Hulk’s hair or a character’s lips.

While the art is pleasant, it can feel a bit generic. Story beats are clear, but rarely exciting or innovative. There are moments where a composition feels overly conservative or a face too caricatured, but, to be fair, they’re mostly balanced out by moments like the climax of Yinsen’s dream. I also love the degree of warmth that Davis sneaks into the book, Yinsen’s cordial smile to Jen as she’s introduced or Faiza’s cheery demeanor amidst the bombast of her entrance. The art is a jack of all trades but master of none, drawing in elements from numerous other comics and transforming them into an attractive whole, but failing to make something memorable for itself.

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Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders #1

Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders is one of the shortest “Secret Wars” tie ins at only two issues, and it’s true that this issue’s pacing suggests that it could have filled at least three, but Al Ewing’s alternate alternate alternate universe story kind of benefits from the compressed time frame. Apparently starring survivors from the little glimpsed universe of Tony Stark’s dream from Iron Man: Fatal Frontier #9, CBatMD has a delightfully progressive energy, simply unwilling to bother with less than what the story, or the world, should be. A big part of that success is how engaging both Yinsen and Mondo City are. In only a few short pages, Ewing utterly convinces that Tony Stark should have been the one to die in the Iron Man story, likely to be resurrected Spider-Gwen-style at some later date. Rescue, the Defenders, it all feels incredibly natural, a Marvel Universe I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. Likewise, the satirical bombast of Mondo City is loads of fun, especially if you know the material its drawing from. Seeing a particularly literal version of War Machine or Emma Frost put into another familiar role, throwing around ‘focused totalities of her psychic powers’ really works.

I also applaud the character interaction and humor of this issue. She-Hulk’s Mjolnir being a gavel is funny enough, but the charm in her voice and her face when she explains why is hard to resist. Likewise, the under appreciated Hobie Brown gets a starring role, only to find that it isn’t necessarily enough to escape his standing and that the Parker luck seemingly comes with the costume. It’s also just nice to see Faiza Hussain cut through the requirements of the “Secret Wars” formula, but, lest you think Ewing’s take overly flippant, his use of Doctor Doom makes total sense and helps to justify the simplicity of the overall concept.

Admittedly, hindsight reveals a somewhat obvious structure hidden under meta-humor and some indulgences on the part of the writer. Spider Hero’s origin is undoubtedly fun, but it seems a bit unnecessary when you consider the short runtime of the miniseries and the fact that plenty of other characters escape with vague mentions of their origins or even without. I also have to say that I picked up this issue partially as a farewell to Ava Ayala, a favorite of Ewing’s Mighty Avengers run who won’t be back for Ultimates, at least not as a primary character. Unfortunately, fans of the White Tiger will find that she doesn’t have much room to breathe, more evidence that something could have been cut or another issue likely could have been added.

Alan Davis’ art is strong but occasionally doesn’t have enough to do. Davis’ style is nicely detailed without dipping into the uncanny valley. It’s a familiar enough look, following the trend of detailed art started by Greg Land in Mighty Avengers, but it also does a nice job of expressing the utopian truth of Yinsen City and the grim reality of Mondo City. There’s just enough bounce in the look of the comic, seen in She-Hulk’s hair or a character’s lips.

While the art is pleasant, it can feel a bit generic. Story beats are clear, but rarely exciting or innovative. There are moments where a composition feels overly conservative or a face too caricatured, but, to be fair, they’re mostly balanced out by moments like the climax of Yinsen’s dream. I also love the degree of warmth that Davis sneaks into the book, Yinsen’s cordial smile to Jen as she’s introduced or Faiza’s cheery demeanor amidst the bombast of her entrance. The art is a jack of all trades but master of none, drawing in elements from numerous other comics and transforming them into an attractive whole, but failing to make something memorable for itself.

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