Tag Archives: Xombie

Book of the week 32: Xombi #5 (DC comics)

An okay week this time, a perfect number of books, not many from this week, but most of them scored pretty high on my own personal enjoyment scale. Scores averaged to 8.1 on 14 titles. I rounded it all of this weekend with the third story arc from Image comics’ Chew. Which provided some most excellent Sunday afternoon reading material. While writing the reviews tonight I stumbled upon the great little video’s from reviewtopia.net, called A Comic Minute. This totally made my day, go check it out: It’s one minute staccato summaries/reviews with the art from the books in one minute or less!

1. Xombi #5 (DC comics)

Cover art from Xombie #5, by Frazier Irving, published by DC comics.

Cover art from Xombi #5, by Frazer Irving, published by DC comics.

Xombi, to me is the surprise hit out of DC this year. I’ve been a devotee of Frazer Irving’s since his run on the Inhumans (the Silent War miniseries) at Marvel. Thinking back at that now it seemed a crude way of painting comics, more akin to Daniel Acuna then say JH Williams III. The selling feature mainly being that the art was painted, not necessarily how or why it was painted. But with Xombi he has stepped up his game big time. From the first issue onward, it was clear that Irving chose a bold color pallet, with which he would play around in different scenes and shots. This issue, it finally hit me however, that it’s not just the colors or his Dali-esque surrealism, but even more it’s the way he handles lighting that makes my jaw hit the floor approximately once every two pages. Wheter it’s in mundane situations like an apartment with the television being the main light source, or in a magical environment like the flying platforms; Irving understands light sources and the way their light breaks or hits objects, like no other artist I know of.
Opening page from Xombie #5, with art by Frazier Irving, published by DC comics.

Opening page from Xombi #5, with art by Frazer Irving, published by DC comics.

Last issue, I felt, dragged its tail a little, because it was mostly characters talking to explain the back-story of the flying platforms, the Skull Fortress and newcomer Annie. It looked good, was well written and still very entertaining, but I just missed the all-out, wacky action, and that’s what this issue delivers as David Kim (aka Xombi) and his rag tag reli crew prepare to invade the Skull Fortress and fight this series’ adversary Roland Finch. Most of the issue deals with preparing for battle, while only the last three pages depict the beginning of the battle. Yet, still this issue delivers on all fronts. It has the characters strolling through the flying stronghold and admiring its majestic views; getting into fights with each other; talking strategy; battling; and taking some relationship advice. This issue invested much in humanizing the characters, especially Annie and David. Annie is guilt-ridden about her part in Finch’s rise to power and worried about what her time as an exile from the flying strongholds (where time comes to a stop) has done with her life, while David is preoccupied with the fact that he has never told his fiancé about his powers and his superhero lifestyle. When both of these characters get into a discussion with their own problems on their minds, things go BOOM! Writer John Rozum writes wonderfully realistic and relatable dialogues between two characters that are drawn to each other, but too different from each other to make a worthwhile connection. That is one aspect of the story I had not foreseen when I opened this issue. Great human writing, in between of all the over-the-top, whacky, super heroics, make the stakes feel much higher.

A gorgeous page by Frazier Irving, from Xombie #5, published by DC comics.

A gorgeous page by Frazer Irving, from Xombi #5, published by DC comics.

I really have nothing but praise for this issue and this series as a whole. Before I started this volume, I’d never read a Xombi comic (or any Milestone publication for that matter), but that did not cause any problems to my enjoyment of this book. I really can’t recommend it high enough! I was innitially worried that Xombi would disappear after the DC reboot next month, but I just found out that a new series will start in February. (Damn, that was a year old, I don’t think there are plans in the work for more Xombi…) If you’re still not sure about it, please take a look at this Comic Minute from the first issue:
[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/hPFugrfvcAI.html width=”480″ height=”385″]
Art: 9.5 Writing: 9,5       Overall: 9.5

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Runners up week 28: Xombie 4, Mystery Men 2, X-men Schism 1

2. Xombie #4

Frasier Irving's cover to DC's Xombie #4

Frasier Irving's cover to DC's Xombie #4

The current volume of this DC series is the only one I have ever read. Beyond these four issues I have no inkling about this character. But I am loving the hell out of this. This fourth issue has a very striking cover with an image of a giant skull with a fortress on top of it, flying through the clouds. I thought the image was somehow symbolic for what happens in the issue, but as it turns out, the skull fortress is actually a mayor plot point. That’s one of the great things about this series, big and high concepts visualized through gorgeous art and told through near flawless storytelling. While the first three issues had many great action scenes and a high whacky-ideas-per-page-ratio, this one dials down the action to make place for exposition. While the number of big idea takes a drop, the size of them are still pretty fugging huge. Still, that’s one of the reasons this issue was slightly less good (yet still great) compared to the three issues before. The art however is so great I’d eat it up even if it was an issue long conversation between two characters in the same room…
Art: 9     Writing: 7            Overall: 8

3. Mystery Men #2
While I have never really been into the pulp heroes of the early twentieth century, this book  keeps me really enthralled. The story revolves around two masked heroes, the Operative and the Revenant that seem to be placed into Marvels history during the nineteen thirties. Both men are researching the murder of a Broadway actress, to at least one of them the investigation is very personal, for the victim was his lover and the culprit, as is revealed in this issue, has a personal connection too. I have not read any other works by writer David Liss but I would easily believe that this is not his first work in the pulp hero genre. The pulpy noir atmosphere complemented with rich historic details really gives this book a unique feel. The series artist Patrick Zircher adds to this with his moody art style that I can best describe as a blending of Gabriel Hardman and John Cassaday. This guy really has a knack for intense and dynamic action scenes, both though page layout as well as his spectacular panel compositions.
Art: 8.5  Writing: 7            Overall: 7.8

4. X-men Schism #1
At the core of my comic book reading habit I admittedly am a X-fan. After my first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics it was the X-men that got me hooked on comics. And while my tastes since then have more and more deviated to other heroes, other genres and even other publishers I will always be curious as to the status quo of the X-men. After having left the books for some time, I have been fully onboard again for some time now. And the idea of a good old fashioned brawl between different factions of the X-men has me giddy, just like the good old days! So at least to me, this mini-series provides a very interesting concept. While all the hype is focusing on Wolverine versus Cyclops, near the end of this issue it seems that the classic friction between Storm and Cyclops will be the catalyst for the upcoming schism. I had expected more of the art and liked Pacheco’s .1 issue from a couple of weeks ago much better. Though I can see that this version of his style is more compatible with his followers on this series Frank Cho and Daniel Acuna. The story? One mutant pisses of all of the world’s leaders and does so in the name of all mutants. In reaction anti mutant hostility rises to an all-time high, which is why Cyclops gets ready for war, while Storm argues for a more peaceful approach. It’s told quite effectively and really plays on the emotions on the various characters and their relationships to one another.
Art: 7.8 Writing: 7.8        Overall: 7.8