Well now that we are officially in the past (of Back to the Future timeline) this week brought a lot of new books and some returning champs to the mix in this weeks reviews.
Back To the Future #1
IDW Stories Bob Gale, Writers Bob Gale & John Barber/Erik Burnham, Artists Brent Schoonover & Inker David Witt/Dan Schoening, Colorists Kelly Fitzpatrick/Luis Antonio Delgado, Letterer Shawn Lee
IDW must have known to put the release of this book out on 10/21/2015 that is the day that Marty Mcfly goes to the future in Back to the Future II. The good news is that co-writer of the films Bob Gale is involved in this comic so the stories are quite good and do fall into the continuity of the movies. The bad news is that IDW didn’t get the highest quality artists to work on the book. The first story by Gale and Barber is the back story of how Marty met Doc for the first time and it’s a good little story. unfortunately the artwork by Schoonover and Witt is very weak and there are times where there is very little detail to the art and quite frankly is distracting at times. The second story by Burnham is the back story on how Doc Brown started working for the government and the story will continue in the next issue. While not as fun as the first story it’s pretty intriguing and is a good start to the story. Schoening’s artwork is a improvement over the first story. It’s mostly exposition and he does a nice job visually of moving the story along. Is this book worth your time and money? While the stories are very good and fill in some side stories that would have never fit into the films I just wish that IDW had ponied up and spent some money on better artists. Schoening’s art is good and would be at least better suited for the book overall but Schoonover’s art is just not that good. The book is worth getting even with the iffy artwork on the first story and if you are a Back to the Future fan then you will enjoy the stories.
The Shield #1
Dark Circle Comics Writers Adam Christopher & Chuck Wendig, Artist Drew Johnson, Colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick, Letterer Rachel Deering
Archie’s Dark Circle line of superhero books has surprisingly good so far but I have to say that The Shield may be their best yet. First issues of a new book are really tough to pull off well because you have a lot of exposition to cover in the issue which tends to leave little room for other things. I really have to hand it to Christopher and Wendig for crafting a very enjoyable first issue that not only draws you in with the story but leaves you eager for more. They also wisely keep some elements of the story nicely tucked away for it to unfold down the road. They have also created a great new female superhero that is very rare in todays comic market. She is a strong and smart hero that everyone is going to enjoy. The only minor gripe was that they may be tried to hard that she had past experiences. They may have slightly over did that one but it was not fatal. When you have a really great story the artwork on a comic can either take the book to the next level of drag it done and make for a less than optimal reading experience. Thankfully Johnson’s artwork not only elevates the story but really builds on the story visually to make this book really special. He really brings his A game and that is saying something considering his great work on the recent Midnight Society book. Is this book worth your time and money? I was very impressed with this first issue with both its strong story and great artwork. While it may not be a new or groundbreaking take on the superhero genre but all involved did an excellent job of making it feel fresh and exciting. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Clean Room #1
Vertigo Comics Writer Gail Simone, Artist & Colorist Jon Davis-Hunt, Letter Todd Klein
I really have to give Vertigo props because they are really nailing it with this new batch of comics. Simone for me can be a real hit or miss writer but with this new book she gets the book off to a very solid start. The only issue I had was that there were a few times in the book where she time jumped around too much that did get a little confusing but overall I did like the setup to the story. She did play the whole cult thing nicely in this first issue and gave it a very subtle background element instead of bashing the reader over the head with it. The key is going to be the next few issues to see where she is going to take the story. The big win on this book is Davis-Hunt’s artwork that is simply beautiful and brings a power to the script that really pulls the book together. The detail that he put into the art really draws the reader into the story and brings it all to life with great impact. Is this book worth your time and money? I liked the concept of the book even with a few odd turns in the script I think there is some real promise to this book. I was blown away by the artwork by Davis-Hunt and will keep an eye out in this and his future work. Overall the book is worth picking up and checking out.
The Rook #1
Dark Horse Comics Writer Steven Grant, Artist Paul Gulacy, Colorist Jesus Aburto, Letterer Nate Piekos
The book is based on a mobile game but honestly I picked it up for Gulacy’s beautiful artwork that is far too absent in comics. As for the story it wasn’t half bad but was pretty by the numbers plot. I will give Grant did try to freshen the average concept up and did make it better than it should be. He did add some nice elements into the story and the ending was surprisingly better than I would have thought at the beginning of the story. The real treat of this book is Gulacy’s beautiful artwork that even at his age (62) he still runs circles around much younger artist in the comics field today. He shows what a master illustrator can do even with an average story. He really brings this book to life and makes it a hell of a lot better than it should be. Is this book worth your time and money? Honestly this is a pretty average book with story tropes that have been told a million times. Grant gives the book a better chance of working than a much more unskilled writer. But the real win for this book is Gulacy’s artwork that steals the show. If you’re a fan of Gulacy then this book is worth every penny but for most the book is pretty average.
Fistful of Blood #1
IDW Writers and Artists Kevin Eastman & Simon Bisley, Colorist Tomi Varga
This book is a reworking of a story that Eastman and Bisley did 15 years ago for Heavy Metal and takes the Clint Eastwood Man With No Name and changes him into a large breasted woman and then throwing in zombies, vampires and aliens. This is pretty basic stuff here and filled with violence and sexual innuendo that both are very well-known for. The story doesn’t bring much new to any of the genres and when you are done with the first issue you get the idea and there is little incentive to read the rest of the story. The art is good but sadly not pure Bisley that would have a least made the book look really fantastic. It’s more Bisley layouts that look more like Eastman in the end. While it’s not a bad-looking book but I was hoping that Bisley was doing the full artwork. Is this book worth your time and money? It’s not bad but just kind of average in the end. The story is pretty basic and the art is good but with not being full Bisley I was disappointed. SKIP IT!
Agents of Atlas #1
Marvel Comics Writer Tom Taylor, Artist Steve Pugh, Colorist Tamra Bonvillain, Letterer Joe Sabino
One of the late Secret Wars tie-in books this one shot is another What If type story and is a fun but a bit average at the same time. Taylor’s script is nice but in the end never really excels at much. The story hits all of the expected beats and comes to a predictable resolution. The main reason I picked up this book was for Pugh’s artwork that visually makes this book a lot better than it should be. He makes the book so much more fun and forget that the story is just average. Is this book worth your time and money? It’s a pretty forgettable story but I did love Pugh’s art and it does have a gorilla in it so it’s not a total loss but at $4.99 it just too pricy for what you get. SKIP IT!
Boom! Studios Writer James Tynion IV, Artist Eryk Donovan, Colorist Juan Manuel Tumburus, Letterer Steve Wands
Tynion has really been cranking the books out over at Boom lately and while I did enjoy it, I am starting to see a pattern to his writing. For most of the issue I felt that the story was too similar to Memetic and the structure is pretty much the same. While the ending did give the story a bit of a spin, I just couldn’t shake the sameness that it had with his other books. This is a real problem if you have read the other book. The real irony is that Donovan is the same artist that drew Memetic so it felt even more like the previous book. Donovan does a good job on the artwork and I did feel as if he did try to make it visually different and that helped. Is this book worth your time and money? Tynion is a good writer but it seems odd that he would go back to the same story well with the same publisher so soon after the other series. If you read Memetic then your going to be disappointed in this book like me. If not then you might like it.
DC Comics Writer Heath Corson, Artist Gustavo Duarte, Guest Artist Rafael Albuquerque, Colorist Pete Pantazis, Letterer Tom Naplitano
One of the funnest of the new DC relaunch titles continues to impress and finds new ways to tell a similar story each issue. I really have to credit Corson for coming up with great script that kind of tell the same idea and yet each issue is fresh and fun and surprisingly different each issue. This issue he throws in Area 51 and there is a lot to mine from that concept. How can I praise Gustavo’s art differently than I have gushed over his lavish and beautiful artwork each issue. This book just keeps the high quality going each issue. Is this book worth your time and money? I have raved about this book form day one and has yet to disappoint me. It’s a real shame that more people are not picking up this book and only hope that when the trade paperback comes out that people will finally find out what I have been saying for months, BUY THIS BOOK! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Will Eisner’s Spirit #4
Dynamite Writer Matt Wagner, Artist Dan Schkade, Colorist Brennan Wagner, Letterer A Larger World Studios
This is a book that just seems to get better every issue. I really have to have it to Wagner who had the difficult task of following up both Will Eisner and Darwyn Cooke and still making the book his own but keeping the history of the character intact. I was very worried with the first few issues without the main character but he has really crafted a great first story arc that has been very satisfying. There is also a great mystery story that is continuing and gets more exciting each issue. Schkade continues to improve each issue and minor issues from the first few issues has been resolved and is doing a great job on the book. Is this book worth your time and money? This book is a worthy addition to the Spirit mythology and Wagner does a great job of balancing both the old and new to make this a very enjoyable read each month. RECOMMENDED!
Black Canary #5
DC Comics Writer Brenden Fletcher, Artist Pia Guerra, Colorist Lee Loughridge, Letterer Steve Wands
While some are going to find the pacing on the book a bit slow, I am actually liking how Fletcher is unfolding the story. While I will say that he might want to add some more breadcrumbs to the trail and open up a bit more with the mysteries. At least in this issue there is some of the elements that are starting to come together and that is very nice. I hope that the next issue is more of a turning point with being 6 issue into the series and should be at least the first part of the story arc. Guerra is a very nice fill in for Annie Wu and her style of art fits the stories quite nicely. Is this book worth your time and money? While the book has been a slow burn, I do think that it has been set up nicely and while there have been more questions than answers Fletcher has done a nice job of setting things up. The next issue is going to be the key to the long-term of this book when the current story finishes and then we will see if the journey has been worth it. The book is still worth picking up.
Marvel Comics Writer Mark Waid, Artist Howard Chaykin, Colorist Edgar Delgado, Letterer Joe Cramagna
This book is a good idea on paper with a done in one approach. It allows you to pick up any issue if you are a fan of the guest star or the artist. In this issue it was both for me with Dominic Fortune and its original creator and artist Howard Chaykin. This is a real tour de force for Waid who’s story is a nice homage to the character and he has a lot of fun with it. Think of him as a fortune hunting James Bond that would steal both your valuables and your heart at the same time. Waid was smart in having him being older but still with all of the charm and then having him convince SHIELD to help him get his boat back because Hydra was involved is simple bu effective. Chaykin’s artwork is still top-notch and this book proves that he is as good today as he has ever been. This is one of the best looking issues to date. Is this book worth your time and money? If you are like me a trip down nostalgia lane is priceless and well worth the $3.99 cover price. For those not familiar with Dominic Fortune this is a good place to start.
Invader Zim #4
Oni Press Writers Eric Trueheart & Jhonen Vasquez, Penciller Aaron Alexovich, Inker Megan Lawton, Colorists Rikki Simons & Mildred Louis, Letterer Warren Wucinich
I’m really impressed with the fact that this book continues to be a great continuation of the animated show. The best part of the book is that it’s able to capture the silliness of the show and make it feel like an episode that was planned but never made. Trueheart and Vasquez story was a lot of fun this issue and was nice to have the Almighty Tallest having fun at Zim’s expense. The comic has really captured the simple and stupid charms of the scripts that make it such a fun read. Alexovich and Lawton are somehow able to draw all of the insanity of the scripts and they do a really great job of it. I’m very impressed that they are able to keep everything on model and still make it feel like a comic book. Is this book worth your time and money? Not only is this book great for fans of the show but even new readers will have a blast reading this book and best of all it’s a great all ages book. RECOMMENDED!
Marvel Comics Writer Warren Ellis, Artist Gerardo Zaffino, Colorist Dan Brown, Letterer Clayton Cowles
So far a number of the new relaunch Marvel titles have been so-so to downright bad so it’s been tough to buy a number of these books but I have to say that it took Warren Ellis to pull off the miracle book. Karnak was not only good but I think that it might be the one to beat as far as quality goes for the new Marvel books. While still hampered by Secret Wars continuity that will have some readers wondering what some of the extraneous dialog that Ellis has to use to make it fit into a story that is not really needed for this book. Overall the story hits the ground running and gets off to a fantastic start for a first issue. Ellis dispenses with the usual first issue exposition and just gets down to business with the story. And by the end of the issue he leaves you hanging and you realize what a great ride that you just went on and can’t wait for more. Zaffino brings a great outside the normal house style that plagues most superhero comics today and give the book a dark and moody look with great shadow work that is perfect for the story. Is this book worth your time and money? I had serious doubts that there would be any great books to come out of the Secret Wars fiasco but leave it to Ellis to prove me wrong. This is a really solid book that gets off to a great start with a solid story with great artwork. RECOMMENDED!