|Posted on December 2, 2012 at 7:10 AM|
A little change in format for the reviews here on out. I've added "Best of the Week" and "Worst of the Week" categories for the comics I am reviewing. My tastes are what they are, so take my suggestions with that in mind.
The Best of the Week:
NOWHERE MEN #1
By Eric Stephenson & Nate Bellegarde - Image Comics
This was surprisingly good. I had read a little info for this previous to its release and it sounded good enough to pick up. I'm glad I did. This comic reminds me a little of the excellent "PLANETARY" by Warren Ellis and John Cassady and a little of The X-Men if stuck in a more realistic setting. Chapter 1 deals with the 4 main characters/geniuses who are trying to make the world a better place. Of course that idea creates a lot of controversy and tension between the four main characters. The second chapter of the book involves a group of people employed by The World Corp. (the four main characters company) trying to work out science-y type experiments unbeknownst to man high above the earth. All the people on board the satellite have contracted a mysterious virus which is mutating them all very differently. While I'm waiting for one of them to come down with superpowers, so far the characters are only showing physical and biological mutations.
So one issue in I'm down for more. I'm totally hooked. This is how you do a first issue right, in my opinion. Writer Eric Stephenson is head of Image Comics, so he's seen his fair share of good and bad comics. Being in that kind of a position has probably given him the perfect perspective on how to create a winning concept right from the start. Maybe I'm wrong and he just wung it and it turned out perfect. Whatever the case he's got my dollar bills for the next few months.
And the art by Nate Bellegarde is superb. I had not heard of the guy before this and I don't know why as he is an excellent artist. Super detailed, a controlled line and the ability to show a range of emotion and movement. This guy is going to be a star. Which could bode bad for the future of this comic. As it is, under Image's contract, he is not getting money up front, he is only making back end pay. Which when compared to the contracts he will be offered by DC and Marvel will pale in comparison. Will he stick it out for integrities sake or jump ship for the highest contract and the possibility for wider recognition by working for the two big comics publishers? I will give him 4 or 5 issues before he's gone. I hope I am wrong, I could be wrong as I get the feeling his work takes a long time to complete. Everything on his pages is in the right place. No wasted lines and the detail is immaculate front to back. If he goes to Marvel or DC he's going to have to speed it up or get tossed onto boutique comics. Which might not be so bad, ask Jerome Opena about that.
Anyway, I'm on this comic till I decide otherwise. Highly recommended.
The Worst of the Week:
By Phil Noto and Dark Horse Comics
I remember liking some of Phil Noto's work on that Jonah Hex comic DC published a few years back, but his work on this is just boring. It's so empty, the camera angles are bad, the traced backgrounds and vehicles stand out compared to the hand drawn stuff, the figures lack any sort of fluidity. Can an artist regress this badly, this quickly? Add distracting art like this to a boring empty story and you've got my entry as the worst of the week. Nothing happened in this comic. The main character who I guess is also the Ghost superhero is trying to figure out who they are apparently. I didn't read the first issue so I have no idea what is going on and who these characters are. And the weirdest part is that for two panels there was a mayor guy who's a devil and no explaining who he is, why he looks like that, nothing.
Just a terrible comic. Avoid it at all costs.
The Rest of the Bunch:
Published by IDW Comics
Godzilla was a favorite of mine when I was a kid. I didn't expect this new series to last 7 issues. Since it did I thought I would give it a try considering how much I used to enjoy the creature when I was younger. And you know what, this comic is pretty good. Not enough Godzilla though, but the human characters trying to kill Godzilla were pretty interesting. I guess in the previous issue Godzilla destroyed Seattle and this issue he's moved onto Vancouver, Canada where the human hero quartet that stand against Godzilla were waiting. They try to blow him up with a volcano, but another group of humans with a secret weapon intervene at the worst time and things don't go to plan. Godzilla survives again.
What I liked most was the art by Simon Gane. I remember reading his mini-comics and early indy works 10 years ago or so and to see the progress he's made from then till now is awesome. This guy is a really good artist. I love his line work. He used to have this really annoying style of making everything so damn cartoony that it was annoying, but now that kink's been worked out and we have a fully developed style. His hair and clothes are particularly interesting to look at with all their lines and folds. Pretty damn good. Of course he draws Godzilla well, practically un-different from the image that pops in your head from the movies. It's a classic looking Godzilla monster.
I'm going to pick up the next issue for sure and may search out the previous issues. I recommend you do the same.
MY LITTLE PONY: Friendship is Magic #1
By Katie Cook and IDW Publishing
I hope I get a cutie-mark for reviewing this comic. I'll have to email IDW to see if I qualify for one. Yeah I read this sorta. Doing it for the cause, I've gotta get attention from somewhere, why not the My Little Pony demographic? Though I am not sure how the intended 7-12 year old girl audience will be getting ahold of this comic. Where is it being sold? If just the direct market, this comic will tank. If at the grocery stores or toy stores and girly boutiques then it's got a chance. From my 38 year old lonely male point of view I think this comic from a quality standpoint was good enough to appeal to the intended audience. The story was full of cute little girl stuff, the art was clear and colorful and at times very good. I am hoping that if comic stores are selling this, they put it on the shelf right next to the He-Man, GI-Joe and Transformer comics reminding my generation that the '80's will never go away and all is right with the world.
By Brandon Graham and others
I've been hearing about this comic since it's re-inception for a while now, but always giving it a pass cause I've been 50/50 on Brandon Graham's work up to this point. This comic doesn't change that figure, but I do understand the critical acclaim now. This is a different kind of comic. It's really an oddball. I liked it and will try to get my hands on the next issue and beyond because I'm definintely intrigued. The art by Gionno Mannumallallais is decent, but totally fitting of the odd story. I don't know what the general story is or where it's going, but I want to know more. I recognize some of the character names as having to do with Rob Liefeld's Youngblood comic, but beyond that I'm drawing a blank. This comic is weird shit and I dig it.
TRANSFORMERS: More Than Meets the Eye #'s 1-11
Published by IDW comics
I've already reviewed the other ongoing Transformers comic (Robots in Disguise) in a previous column (scroll down), but this one I find more enjoyable. Mostly for the art. The artist is fantastic at drawing emotions and movement on largely square/rectangular robots like the Transformers. He's been the only artist on the whole series as of to this date, unlike the other companion Transformers series which has seen 3 or 4 different artists already and I have to give it up to him for his consistency and talent. Plus I love the colors on this series. I find them fascinating. It's a subdued palette, with a lot of texture and grain to it. The art and coloring alone make this comic for me as the stories throughout these 11 issues are all over the place.
The original driving plot to this series was that a bunch of Autobots got together on a ship and went about exploring the universe hoping to find some legendary Knights of Cybertron. Although by issue two it's pretty clear, that's not a really important plot point as the writer begins to meander off on various different storylines already. I understand the reasoning behind this given that he needs to keep an ongoing series going for the long haul, but the dis-enjoined feel of these 11 issues bugs me. One moment we're on the spaceship watching some divisive intrigue among the passengers, the next issue that plot point is shoved aside for a seemingly un-attached plot involving a medical planet. It doesn't take long before a third different story comes along with most of the passengers re-living old memories about Optimus Prime and the origins of Shockwave. Those first and second story plots totally thrown to the wayside. They're not even touched upon anymore. Maybe eventually we're going to get back to them, but I am asking myself why I am reading this comic. Is it because of the storyline(s)? Definitely not, I've nothing to latch onto and get attached. Is it just nostalgia for characters like Rodimus Prime and Ultra Magnus and others? Yeah, that's half of it at least, if not more. But despite the lack of congruency among these first eleven issues, the mood of this ongoing series compared to it's companion is much more fun. It is a fun book to read. It does have interesting characters, or at least more characters that I am interested in.
This latest storyline which concluded in issue eleven was a real go nowhere type of story. It took three issues to tell a story that ends kinda nowhere. I mean if the point was that we were being introduced to a version of how Shockwave came about, then I guess I get it. The origin In my opinion is totally stupid. Once upon a time Shockwave was a good guy with a normal face. Two eyes, mouth that smiled, ears, etc. He was even a friend of Optimus Prime, but then some bad guys got ahold of him and transformed him into the Shockwave we all know and love. I don't like it, but maybe I'm one voice among many who did like it. Whatever, I guess.
By Marvel Comics
Ho-hum. This is the definition of standard fare. It has all the elements of a thousand typical comic book adventures. Gambit is being blackmailed to do bad, yet he tries to do good. His ordeals set up another one of those good guy vs. good guy scenarios which as always will get resolved by the end of the story which in this day and age will take another 6 issues. Of course I won't be sticking around till the end of this story to verify that nor do I care. I'm not sure if the pitch for this is what sold this concept initially or if Joe Quesada just decided they needed a Gambit comic out there and told a bunch of guys to pitch him some ideas and this is what won out? Because for all the troubles the comics biz deals with on a week to week basis, I never thought to myself what's needed is a Gambit comic book. And I am sure 100,000 other comic readers feel the same way. I guess Gambit is someone's favorite character and at some point or another every X-men member gets their own book so maybe that's the reasoning behind why this comic exists?
I'll be honest I've read 4 or 5 comics just this week that are worse than this, but I'm sure by the end of next week something will overwrite the memories I have of this comic, that's how good this comic wasn't.
By DC Comics
I haven't read an Aquaman comic in a long while, but being the all knowing comic geek that I am, I of course know of his Rogue's Gallery and such. But I had no idea the Black Manta was actually black!? I thought he was called the Black Manta because the costume was black. So is this a new development with DC restarting their universe? Or was he always a black man under the pervert suit? I guess it doesn't matter as the story in this issue dealt with him very little and was more about Aquaman and his brother, some other villian whose name I forget (Wavemaster, maybe?). What's almost interesting about this comic is that the Aquaman mantle is being played as a generational thing. It seems, according to writer Geoff Johns that Arthur Curry's grandpa was an Aquaman way back in the 1800's and he wore a shiny blue shirt with the green pants. Plus he had a beard (but no hook hand). There wasn't a whole lot of story to this issue and I doubt it was a very hard thing to write for Geoff Johns, whom I call the most underrated overrated writer in the biz. His stories are so plain and simple and so fucking boring. This story was supposed to be mysterious, with characters in shadow and disembodied voices, but this Johns guy just can't muster it. Maybe this was an off issue and I jumped in at the wrong time, but this issue didn't do it for me. I've tried so many of this guy's comics in the past too, so I've given Johns plenty of chance. Basically I'm stunned by my ability to keep giving this guy a try. I read the accolades, the hype, the resume and think this guy has to have some sort of something, but I am consistently disappointed and bored by his work. Ah well. One of my nightmares is a world where only Johns and Scott Lobdell are the only comic book writers left in the world. And they are paired up with the only comic artists left in the world Rob Liefeld and John Romita jr. Oh god, the horror.
Speaking of art, the art on this comic was by Pete Woods and somebody else whom I can't remember and won't because it was awfully mediocre. I like that the bigwigs at DC are giving these two guy's work, because it shows cartooning schlubs like myself could possibly cash a check from this corporation someday too. Because I suck, but since these guys suck, maybe they'll let me draw some shitty character for money too?
I don't how well this book is doing copies sold wise, but I would prefer a book where Aquaman was played for the joke that he is rather than this version, where we are told how awesome and strong and powerful Aquaman is. Aquaman is as we all know one of the lamest superheroes ever, but he's a great third or fourth superhero character in the room. Someone to crack jokes on, about or with. I mean who wears orange shirts? Dude once had a hook hand and a beard at the same time. The jokes are endless with this guy, but you get my point.
FURY OF FIRESTORM #14
By Dan Jurgens & DC Comics
Dan Jurgens is a solid comic book artist, but as a writer he's always been a poor man's John Byrne minus that spark of crazy which made Byrne's best stuff stand out. I guess as a 38 year old man I probably shouldn't be reading a comic about a superhero comprised of two high school kids. It's a very pedanticly written comic. It's low brow, uncomplicated, bright and full of all the normal comic book tropes (bright colorful costumes, explosions, stupid melodrama, you know what I mean). Maybe there's a handful of teenagers reading this comic, but by all known statistics it's more likely 20-40 year old men. So why is Dan Jurgens writing this for teens? Not having read a Firestorm comic since I was a teen myself, 20+ years ago, I have no idea how Firestorm came upon all the changes to his characater that is displayed now. Not that it matters to me, Firestorm is still one of the most boring superhero characters ever despite the relatively interesting character design and powerset. The head on fire look still rocks.
The only thing that caught my interest about this comic was the fact that the new Captain Atom (who guest stars in this comic) is now decidedly designed to look almost exactly like Dr. Manhattan (originally a Captain Atom counterpart himself) from the famous Watchemen comic by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I know Dan Jurgens has never been famous for his innovation, but still how the hell does DC let this redesign get approval? Ah well, the plot for this issue, let's see, hmmm. Some bad guy wants to destroy Firestorm, but instead takes control of him using something generically called Quantum Energy. Plus a bunch of boring stuff in-between.
So as a 38 year old man picking this up out of the blue, I have to say this was a terribly boring comic book. Not as bad as last week's Amethyst comic, but worse than this weeks Aquaman comic. I'm grateful that DC comics are putting artists to work and such, but this book should be cancelled immediately and the artists involved with its creation given new work. This is about as close to drek as you can get, except for this week's "Worst of the Week".
HILDA and the MIDNIGHT GIANT
By Luke Pearson
HILDA AND THE MIDNIGHT GIANT is a big, but slim & handsome looking book from NoBrow Press that came out in 2011. I don't know how I missed this one till originally, but it's gorgeous and I couldn't wait to read it when I did get my hands on it. I've seen Luke Pearson's work before on various platforms all over the internet, but a whole good looking book all by it's lonesome I have not had the chance to read. I'm glad I finally got the chance as I really liked this. Hilda and her mom live out in the country and are quite familiar with various forest elves and creatures. Some kind and gentle, others not so, having declared war on Hilda and mom. Eventually Hilda figures out how to properly communicate with these forest elves, but before she's able to figure out a truce, she's caught up in the ordeals of a Midnight Giant.
This book is the kind of thing that eventually becomes a Pixar movie. Something good for the whole family, but with enough nuance for the adults watching to really feel involved in the story. Plus I really dig Luke Pearson's work. Cartoony, free and at times sketchy, it's a unique fun style. I highly recommend this book