Daily Archives: August 8, 2011

Quick shots for week 31: Another bunch of number one issues

5. Rachel Rising #1 (Abstract Studio)                                                                            8.3
About a girl who wakes up from the dead without knowing that she’s deceased or remembering what happened. Very effective storytelling. The sparse use of dialogues show off Moore’s strengths. There’s a car sequence in here which didn’t look very good. The rest of the book is gorgeous, especially the opening sequence, which also introduces a mysterious female figure who looks on as Rachel rises. Which adds another mystifying layer to this story. Really curious as to what’s going on.
6. Flashpoint #4 (DC comics)                                                                                                 8
Nerdgasm! Cyborg, Flash and Batman’s dad stand around in the kitchen of the Marvel kids to get captain Thunder on board with their little invasion of the Amazonian occupied Brittain.  Kubert’s art is still improving and the writing is a marathon of kick-ass moments interwoven into a story that actually makes some sense. What more can you wish for? (Yeah, my ‘reviews’ are pretty much based on my personal taste instead of critical analysis…)
7. X-men Schism #2 (Marvel comics)                                                                                8
Great art. I have to wonder though, why Wolvie looks like an ogre? And later on Scott looks way too scrawny.  Plus on the writing side: Aaron makes Rogue sound even dumber than she’s normally portrayed, which is a shame for all the character development she has gone through under the pen of Mike Carey. “Selling organs to dire wraiths,” that’s classic!
8.  Zeke Deadwood, zombie lawman. With a hammer in my hand (SLG publishing)                                                                                                                                 8
A great little one-shot about a zombie lawman riding an undead horse, who enters a town where a mad judge has hung all citizens. Highpoint of this issue is the dramatic shootout between Zeke Deadwood and a robot sheriff in the Wild, Wild West. I picked this up on a whim, when it was recommended on the 11 O’clock Comics forum. I couldn’t be happier with it! Fun story and great looking art, check it out!
9. BPRD Hell on earth. Monsters #1 (Dark Horse comics)                                  8
Good stuff, I understood everything while this is the first BPRD issue I’ve ever read. Great art by Tyler Cook (on the cartoony side of things). First-rate story about Liz holing up in a trailer camp.
10.  Avengers #15 (Marvel comics)                                                                                     8
I’m really tired of the interview framing of the story, while it doesn’t fit a blockbuster event tie-in, it does allow for some great character development. And that is what we get this issue as Hawkeye, Miss Marvel and especially Spider-woman take center stage. Basically, this whole issue revolves around a kiss and it has some interesting quotes before and after to contextualize this development. Sounds dull? It really works very good, although I have to wonder if Bendis wouldn’t be better of writing this kind of stuff into a series like the Gillmore Girls instead of the Avengers.
11. Sweet tooth #27 (Vertigo)                                                                                                8
It looks like Gus bites the big one, though his journey is certainly interesting and looks very fascinating. Some time ago, I read a tweet by Jeff Lemire that he was painting some of his pages, well here’s the result. It looks wonderful, very dreamy and atmospheric and surreal; it shows a hint of Edvard Munch here and there. I can see that working on this got Lemire excited. But most of all, it’s exciting to see what happens next month, will the book be resolicited as Jepperd and co?
12. Ultimate fallout #1 (Marvel comics)                                                                     7.9
Perfect emotional beats, which feel a little cheap, but completely works. It made me choke up, while I’ve heard of people crying. Everyone is mourning for Peter and for Spider-man… Cliffhanger of Cap taking blame for the death of Peter before aunt May was a little lame. Great art by Bagley, which in some places looks more like his nineties style, which is not a bad thing to me.
13. Invincible #81 (Image comics)                                                                                   7.9
Art a little too loose for my taste, not bad but more Larsen-esk. Kirkman realistically writes how Invincible is dealing with the death of thousands in Las Vegas last issue, as well as a reformed (but mentally unstable) villain his obsession with Mark, especially this plot ends on a very strong note. This panel really invests in making Mark human, not just through his relations with normal people like William and his mother, but this time by digging into his mind and playing around with his guilt and insecurities.
14. Gates of Gotham #3 (DC comics)                                                                            7.8
An in-between issue, not a lot happens, the art a little worse than last time. Good squabbles between the different bat characters. The architect, the villain is becoming more interesting.
15. Punisher #1 (Marvel comics)                                                                                       7.5
Good new take on the Punisher which focuses more on the cops that are investigating the case which Frank is also looking into. If you like the movie Seven you’ll recognize the faces of detectives Somerset and Mills. I really liked Greg Rucka’s (the writer) work on Gotham Central, Detective Comics and Queen and Country. Somehow his Marvel stuff never capture’s my imagination the same way…
16.  Ultimate fallout #2 (Marvel comics)                                                                   7.4
Especially liked the Gabe Hartman pages, he changes his style to work better with the earlier ultimate Spider-man artists while staying true to his style. Liked the fallout of Pete’s death; the funeral and MJ’s uncovering of what happened. The Thor and ultimate X parts though, not so much…
17. Flashpoint: Canterbury Cricket #1 (DC comics)                                             7
Great cliché origin, some more insight into the British resistance, solid art, good writing. I hope we get to see more of this religion-based superhero. Maybe in Xombie? (-Oh, wait that great title will not be around after the DC reboot…)
18.  Ultimate Fallout #3 (Marvel comics)                                                                     7
Again the structure is really weird, I get that Marvel wants us to buy their comics. But promotional material should be free, this is very much a promo. Varying quality of art especially the Karen Grant and Kitty stories were good, it seems like Kitty, Bobby and Johnny are quitting the super-heroics, though I bet not for long…
19. Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #2 (DC comics)           6.9
The conflict between Aquaman and Wonder Woman escalates. And Wonder Woman gets a new helmet as a reminder of ‘what the war has cost all of us’. This has a lot of the moments you’ve wanted to see, if you’ve read the Flashpoint main title. Solid writing by Abnett and Lanning, the art begins good but peters out at the end.
20. Batman. Gates of Gotham #4 (DC comics)                                                    6.9
Both art and writing take a sudden dip as the creative team gets a shake-up. This issue is written by Kyle Higgens and Ryan Parrot while original scribe Scot Snyder is acknowledged with a mere story credit. Art duties are split between Dustin Nguyen and Derec Donovan (original series artist Trevor McCarthy is nowhere to be seen), despite having two pencillers the art still looks rushed. Let’s just hope (although it’s very unlikely) that everything will turn back to normal next issue.
21. Flashpoint: Project Superman #2 (DC comics)                                6.9
Art a little better than last time, no probs with writing. But the design on subject zero is very bad. He looks like a giant from Dragonball Z or something… Story: we get to see the lab rat life that Kal has grown up in, in the Flashpoint Universe. General Lane is the only one who tries to connect with him on a human level and ultimately saves his life at a great price…
22. Robocop Terminator. Kill human #1 (Dynamite!)                                   6.5
Nothing too special about this one. It shows how a first issue does not work all too great. While the final cliffhanger has me intrigued over what will happen during the rest of the series (and fearing that it will be only action), the rest of the issue doesn’t intrigued me a bit, it just sets up the story for Robocop awaking in the future where Skynet has taken over… Great covers though…
23. Flashpoint: Deadman and the flying Graysons #2 (DC comics)       6
This is one of THOSE JT Krull issues. While there is nothing wrong with the story told, the dialogue is crude and feels to be laid down haphazardly. Art took a wrong turn since last issue (like most of the Flashpoint tie-ins)…

Holy shit, that were a lot of comics. I’m dialing it down next week but expect a review of Red Skull Incarnate #2 and some more Chew…

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Book of the week 31: Severed #1

The theme of the my comic book reading this week was the number one. Besides a one-shot and a few books that did not fit in theme, I read ten number one issues. Let’s just say it’s a good warming up for DC’s September reboot. I’m really glad with my selection of books this week, many high scores and even a solid 10 in Severed #1. Also I’m delighted with the selection of different publishers books I’ve sampled this week, ranging from IDW, Dynamite, DC, Image, Abstract Studio, Marvel to SLG.

1. Severed #1 (Image comics)

The cover to Severed #1, with art by Attila Futaki, published by Image comics.

The cover to Severed #1, with art by Attila Futaki, published by Image comics.

I had not heard anything about this title before hand and went in without any expectations (except for expecting Scott Snyder to deliver one hell of a story). It was while looking at the cover though, that I first started to fall in love with this book. The cover explicitly channels the look of the eighties horror movie posters I’ve grown up with. Furthermore, a great design element on the cover is the use of the art nouveau-ish decorative borders (coincidentally also used in the Snyder co-plotted Batman: Gates of Gotham miniseries), which even incorporate the logo of Image comics.

The first thing that struck me, when I opened the book, was the color. The first scene is a flash-forward, (technically the rest of the book is a flashback, but whatever…) set in or around the nineteen sixties, which is most apparent (besides the television performance of Elvis and the distinctive furniture) by the orange hue of the living room wallpaper. In the following flashback, which takes place in 1916, the scenes all have their own color palate, which doesn’t pop off the page as does the first sequence, but are still very vibrant and dashing to look at.

Popping colors by Attilla Futaki, from Severed #1, published by Image comics.

Popping colors by Attilla Futaki, from Severed #1, published by Image comics.

The second thing that stood out to me where the pencils, I’ve never seen the work of artist Attila Futaki before, and I’ve never seen anything like it. In fact, the art felt so new to me, that I had to warm up to it a few pages before I started loving it. I’d say it’s a bit painterly, yet has a very classic aesthetic which harkens back to the more detailed and loose art styles that could be found in old EC comics. As it turns out Futaki is a Hungarian artist, who has recently been awarded the Hungarian Zorad Erno award for best artist of 2010. Judging by the art in this issue, that prize was well deserved. It’s a really unique style and perfect to set the mood for this horror series.

Here's Jack, waiting to get on the train to begin his Hobo life. Art from Severed #1, by AttillaFutaki, published by Image comics.

Here's Jack, waiting to get on the train to begin his Hobo life. Art from Severed #1, by AttillaFutaki, published by Image comics.

Writing-wise the first sequence, set in the sixties, is used as a rather cliché framing device to set the story up. However, since this story seems to be steeped in eighties horror movies, certain clichés are just part of the territory and in that context work like a charm.  In the first few pages of the flashback we get to know Jack, a talented violin player in his early teens, who after a heartfelt and good-humored bedtime conversation with his mother runs off into the night to live the life of a hobo. “See the country… Play the streets for nickels…” He wants to walk in the minstrel footsteps of his father. Things almost immediately go haywire. But at least he meets up with some hobo’s who may or may not be helping him out. We also get introduced to Fredrick who is taken out of an orphanage by one mister Porter, who is likely to be the villain throughout this series. And what a classic villain he is. Porter is introduced as working for General Electric and Frederick has been selected for an apprenticeship at his company. In the car the boy and Mr. Porter talk about business. When the boy asks about Porter’s rough way of dealing with things, the man says with a grin: “Behind these pearly whites, I got razor sharp teeth.”  When the boy laughs at this reply, Porter continues straight-faced: “I’m serious, Freddy. These babies are all show. Underneath… My real ones are sharp as knives. But sales is all about appearances and it’s hard to sell anything if you look like a shark.” This moment had me laughing out loud, because of the absurdity of the dialogue, yet it provides a horrible feeling of foreboding. This sequence stands as a good example of how the writing of the team of Scott Snyder and his newcomer, childhood friend Scott Tuft works. It hits on all the right notes; a little humor; a little drama’ some emotion; excitement; and a lot of ominous subtext.

Apparantly Mr. Porter really has sharp teeth. Great writing from Snyder and Tuft, from Severed #1, published by Image comics.

Apparantly Mr. Porter really has sharp teeth. Great writing from Snyder and Tuft, from Severed #1, published by Image comics.

After reading I concluded that this may very well be one of those special cases where a comic book is actually crafted and executed perfectly. The first issue of Severed is genuinely creepy, funny, moving and as intriguing as should be expected from a first issue.
Art: 10      Writing: 10     Overall: 10

Runner ups for week 31: Red Wing 1, Spontaneous 1, Crawl to me 1

2. The Red Wing #1 (Image comics)
Time traveling fighter jet pilots and a young cadet who believes his pilot father who went Missing In Time (MIT) is still alive. Another great inventive story-hook by writer Jonathan Hickman. The art by Nick Pitarra is rich in details and varies from great to sublime between panels. Really good art, really good writing and an original plot. If that doesn’t make you want to buy it, then maybe you would if I mention the jet fight that sweeps over ancient Rome as well as dinosaurs. Honestly it’s a good book, fun and it promises to be a bit cerebral, go check it out!
Art: 8.5      Writing: 9       Overall: 8.8

3. Spontaneous #1 (Oni press)
An exciting new series from the creators of Ghost Projekt and the Surrogates, about a boy making an almost scientific study of the spontaneous combustion of inhabitants of his hometown. After being witness to a spontaneous combustion of a man-eating at the fast-food joint where he works, he meets a young reporter who is puzzled by the lack of explanation for the man going up in flames. The boy introduces her to his research and explains his theories about probability and such stuff. It ends with them studying and contacting another ‘burner’ who is especially volatile. Holy shit, the art is a mix between Sam Keith and Ben Templesmith’s more figurative work (say Fell), but it’s the grimy, dirty colors that are put over the inks that stand out the most. A fun and captivating first issue, I will certainly pick up the rest of this series.
Art: 9    Writing: 8.5      Overall: 8.8

4. Crawl to me #1 (IDW Publishing)
Genuinely creepy, this issue gave me that feeling in my stomach and throat throughout most of the story. Great art in the vein of Dave McKean and Ben Templesmith’s 30 Days of Night work (only much less ambiguous), for some persons the lightning effects may look a little too Photoshoped, but for me it worked really well. Especially the effects in the villains glasses, make him look extra creepy. The story tells of a man, named Ryan Shelby, who is waiting at his new home for his belongings to arrive, when suddenly a bunch of police cars show up to arrest his neighbor for sexual assault of a little girl. Ryan witnesses the massacre of the officers when the arrest escalates into a gunfight. When the dust settles and he goes to check things out it turns out the neighbor ( a registered sex offender) is a dark figure from Ryan’s past and that Ryan is mentally unstable. He drifts into a panic and everything around him disappears in splotches of blood. At the end of the issue it’s clear that Ryan is losing his mind mistrusting everyone, including his wife and afraid to take his medication. I really have no idea what next issue has in store…  Impressive book written, drawn, inked, colored and lettered by one guy: Alan Roberts. Additionally the back matter contains majorly interesting information on Roberts’ creative process.
Art: 8    Writing: 9.2      Overall: 8.6

PS. Since it’s already too late, the rest of my quick shots review will be up tomorrow evening! Good night everyone!