Well last week’s ambitious posting schedule has now subsided to just a post for this Monday. Just to mix things up a little I’m going to review a few comics that I found of interest. As a form of a self challenge and based on something Lee said about another reviewer, I want to try and keep each book’s review between 125-175 words. The credits don’t count. Note the credits go writer, art and color art.
The Massive #1 – By Brian Wood, Kristian Donaldson and Dave Stewart, Publisher Dark Horse - $3.50. The story focuses on the ship The Kapital and its crew. This group is part of the Ninth Wave, which is a direct action conservationist force. They rode out the cataclysmic wave of disaster on the ocean and are now searching for their sister ship the Massive. The disasters could be still ongoing and consist of a radical shift in the earth itself, with earthquakes, tsunamis and other changes creating disasters that have radically changed civilization. The story begins with an attack on the Kapital. We also get flashbacks to what happened during the last year. It immediately draws you in. The plot and characterization of the crew are given equal weight. Brian Wood added some journal entries from Callum Israel, the captain of the ship, as back matter that helps to flesh out more details and personalities of the crew. With both excellent writing and art this is a brilliant first issue. I’m curious as to what exactly happened and exactly what will this group make of their lives.
Batman #10 – By Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascenia, Back Up Story by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV, Rafael Albuqurque and Dave McCaig. Publisher DC - $3.99. This issue has the feel of an epilogue to the Court of Owls storyline. Batman is searching for the members and finds they have killed themselves. There are suggestions that this is one arm of the Court. Batman remembers someone else was behind the start of this and tracks down Lincoln March who reveals that he is none other than Thomas Wayne Jr., Bruce’s brother. The back story fills in the gap of the heretofore unknown sibling. I know this has been used in past continuity once or twice but this is a major retro-con of the character. I expect this from some writers, but I hold Snyder to a higher standard. We just had Thomas Elliot as basically a brother to Bruce end up being a new bad guy. Now we get Thomas Wayne Jr. as an armored Talon. This adds to my overall apathy of the new DCU. It is written well enough that if a decent collected edition is put together I may see if it reads better collected.
Conan The Barbarian #5 - by Brian Wood, James Harren and Dave Stewart. Publisher Dark Horse – Price $3.50. First it has to be stated again, how did DC let Brian get away. I had grown tired of Conan and did not try this series until I read some glowing reviews of the book. They are well deserved. We are following the adventures of a younger Conan during his days as a pirate with Belit, Queen of the Black Coast. This particular chapter has Conan providing a distraction as the crew is to loot the city of Messantia. The book is full of bloody action as Conan and Belit both have their fair share of killing. The difference is that Brian is making Conan a little more modern. This is evidenced by Conan’s internal monologue as he faces his execution and then he battles the city champion. The artwork is also a break from typical depiction of Conan, but very well done. If you have skipped this version of Conan because you have been there and done that you have made a mistake.
Before Watchmen Silk Spectre #1 of 4 – Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Connor (co-script and art) & Paul Mounts. Publisher DC, Price $3.99. What a fantastic comic. The thing that jumped out at me is the artwork by Amanda Connor, she just gets better and better. Her story telling is superb and her ability to have her characters express emotion is off the charts. You can almost flip through this story, never read a word and get the entire story. Of course Darwyn Cooke crafts an excellent story of a young Laurie Jupiter who is being trained by her Mom to take over her heroic identity as Silk Spectre. Laurie’s understandable frustration is shared by her new boy friend from high school. Both kids decide to leave home and end up hitching a ride to the sixties era San Francisco. Even knowing where her story ends up you fall in love with Laurie and hope that everything works out for her. It is a coming of age story told by two story tellers at the top of their game.
Pantha #1 – By Brandon Jerwa, Pow Podrix and Thiago Dal Bello. Publisher Dynamite Comics, Price $3.99. One of the worse comics I have read in a long time. I know Pantha is related to the Vamperilla stuff, but I have stopped reading that book. Just for fun I decided to try this book, the good girl cover was an inducement. We got a one page explanation of who the character is and are dropped into what seems to be a continuing story. The artwork is so poor that it is almost impossible to tell people apart from their faces, so the costume becomes all important. We have some bad guys rounding up illegal immigrants for an unknown reason, until Mamba reveals herself. She is a long time foe of Pantha (what). Next a random bar scene, Pantha’s team shows up and helps her. It was a convoluted mess. It would have made sense if I was reading issue #5 and this was a middle chapter, but it was issue #1. A sub par effort and an absolute waste of $4, run from this book.
Planetoid #1 – By Ken Garing. Publisher Image Comics, Price $2.99. What a fun first issue. I’ve never heard of Ken Garing, but he turned in an impressive performance. It was a straightforward story. We start with our main character (not named), crashing onto a planet. With an AI assistant he starts to explore his surroundings. He has crashed on what appears to be a massive junk yard. Ken lets the art carry most of the story including a fight with a robot sea serpent that cuts him badly. He destroys it and then passes out. When he wakes up he has been patched up by an old guy who solicits a back story for us. Next we establish he wants to leave as soon as he can put together a space ship. The old guy tells him no one ever leaves the planet. The book immediately sets the premise. We and our main character have no idea where we are and we learn as he does. Good story and art doing an excellent job of starting what looks to be a fun space adventure.
All in all I’m enjoying a lot of the other category, away from the cape and cowl set, for every miss like Pantha, you get a fun book like Planetoid. Also the Before Watchmen material is two for two which is not a surprise with both books being written by Darwyn Cooke. The more I stay away from the standard stuff the more I’m enjoying comics again. I have dropped more books from my DC list and need to cut back on Marvel.
Next week’s list is actually heavy with standard stuff, but we will start with the other category, Fables, Hellblazer, Unwritten, Grim Leaper, Rebel Blood, Sage, Walking Dead, Alabaster Wolves, Baltimore Dr. Leskovar’s Remedy, BPRD Hell on Earth Devil’s Engine, Ragemoor, Mars Attacks, Memorial, Higher Earth, Deljah Thoris and the White Apes, The Shadow, Batman Black Glove Deluxe Hardcover, Challengers of the Unknown Omnibus, Before Watchmen The Comedian, and the rest is more of what I’m calling standard fare, Avengers vs X-Men, Daredevil, Dark Avnegers, Hulk, New Avengers, Punisher, Secret Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, Winter Solider, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, DCU Presents, GL Corps, Nightwing, Supergirl and Wonder Woman.
That ends this week’s column; I’ll see you all next Monday.