Another big week of new comics to hit the shelves and it seems to get harder to get in as many reviews each week but I will keep up with them as best I can. I might start combining some with multiple issues if we hit slower weeks (yea right) but without further ado, let’s get things started shall we.
Batman: The Dark Prince Charming #2
DC Comics/Dargaud Writer and Artist Enrico Marini
The first chapter of this two-part hardcover story was released last fall and was simply an amazing book. The only problem that I had with it was that we had to wait so long for the second half but that wait is over and was it worth it? Heck Yea! In a rare feat Marini made the story perfect that you actually remember the story from months ago and are able to pick this second book up and just keep going. What I loved the most about this book is that he didn’t overplay the story in the sense that it’s pretty simple and straight forward. He delivers an epic story with great weight but in a way that doesn’t feel to epic for its own good. He simply delivered a classic Batman story and didn’t try and reinvent the wheel here. He also keep them all in character that is a great plus for the story also. Marini has a wonder pacing to the story that simply hits all of the right beats at the perfect pace that made this book such a wonderful pleasure to read. It’s one thing to have a solid story but what really seals the deal on this book is Marini’s lush and gorgeous artwork that made this book so wonderful. He mixes so many styles into this book with obvious European feel but also modern, retro and classic Batman mythology that makes it a rare treat in comics today. Marini is a master storyteller with both script and artwork and this is a book that is a true gift of love from Marine.
Is this book worth your time and money? I loved this story so much that I will buy the deluxe edition that is coming out later this year just to go back and re-read it again. This is a book that will entertain many generations to come with a story that will be talked about for years to come. This is a book to truly cherish and go back to for many year to come. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
The City Lost Explorers #1
Aftershock Comics Writer Zack Kaplan, Artist Alvaro Sarraseca, Colorist Chris Blythe, Letterer Troy Peteri
With the flood of new comics lately there has been a lot of book that have been treading the same themes and story elements that a lot them are blending together. I will give The Lost Explorers that while some of the themes are a bit cliché, there are enough elements that help this book to be better than average. While some of the basic tropes pop up here and there, Kaplan does one thing well here and give the characters enough story so that the reader actually cares about them. He also gives you clues as to some of what is going on so that you don’t feel lost while reading this first outing. He also does a nice job of pacing even with setting things up and the fair amount of exposition that he has to get though. There are some similarities to other stories but there is enough here to see where the story will go from here. I really enjoyed Sarraseca’s artwork on the book that does a very nice job on capturing the facial expressions that are a big part of this book. The one thing that impressed me with his artwork was that he took the time to put a lot of detail into the art in each panel that so many artist forget to put into their work and it really pays off here and he really adds a lot to this book.
Is this book worth your time and money? While I wasn’t blow away by this book there was enough positives to give it another issue or two. While I had hoped that there would be a few more surprises in the story, hopefully Kaplan will do so in the next issue. Sarraseca’s strong artwork on the book is a big plus. If you like mystery stories then you might want to give this book a try. It shows promise.
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #1
Marvel Comics Writer Chip Zdarsky, Artist Michael Allred, Colorist Laura Allred, Letterer Travis Lanham, Back-Up story Writer Mike Drucker, Penciller & Colorist Chris Bachalo, Inkers Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba, Wayne Faucher, Livesay, & Tim Townsend
OK you had me at Allred but was Zdarsky up to the scripting task and thankfully he delivers a great story that truly complements Allred’s artwork. The big reason that this book works is because the story is so much fun and stands on it’s own. What gives this story its charm is that it gives a different look at J. Jonah Jameson and actually gives him a wonderful back story that will not only surprise but delivers an emotional twist that will catch you off guard but in a really good way. Zdarsky script is not only great but seems to be written with Allred in mind. One of the best scripts asset is that it keep things focused and simple that made it pure pleasure to read. I will not spoil any of the story here but the emotions that Zdarsky delivers emotions that you don’t see very often in superhero comics but also gives Jameson a wonderful back story that is sure to impress. Allred could draw the phone book and I would buy it but thankfully he choose to draw this wonderful story instead. What makes Allred the perfect choice for this story is that it has a classic feel of the original Ditko/Lee era but takes place in the present. He also give the visual look a nod to Ditko here and there that is a really nice touch but is pure Allred. As always Laura Allred delivers wonderful color work that is the perfect fit to both Michael and the period look that the story strives for. The back up story by Drucker and Bachalo is a cute little story that keeps the tone and feel from the main story. It’s a simple one joke story but delivers with perfect script and artwork that work well together.
Is this book worth your time and money? I rarely read Spider-Man not because I don’t like the character, that is far from it. It’s just that most of the series are these epic long stories and seem to go on forever. While that can be nice, there are times where you just want to read one and done stories and they don’t come along that often. But hand it to Zdarsky and Allred to deliver a story that has as much weight as a multiple issue story but make sure to not forget that fun of what makes Spider-Man such a great character in the first place. This is a truly satisfying comics and a must read. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Shanghai Red #1
Image Comics Writer Christopher Sebela, Artist and Colorist Joshua Hixson, Letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
You don’t see many pirate comics lately so Sebela and Hixson have solve that problem with their new series Shanghai Red. What makes this book so interesting is that you’re not quite sure how this story is going to unfold. Your kind of dropped into a story that has already started but Sebela keeps the story focused on the present and slowly starts to unfold the back story that leads up to it but doesn’t reveal everything quite yet. It’s the mystery of Molly that is at the core of the story and is why it works so well. It’s her dark past that gives the story nice twists and turns and will keep readers on their toes. While there are times where the story jumps around a little Sebela keeps it all straight to not get the reader lost along the way. I really loved Hixson’s gritty artwork style that really gives this book a nice edge. The mood that both his line work and color deliver a great emotional punch that helps move the story along so well. He is very spot on with his color choices and his careful use of red is very impressive.
Is this book worth your time and money. While I’m not totally sold on this book yet, I was very impressed with this first issue that has lots of promise. Sebela and Hixson give this first issue a good start and while there is still a lot of mystery to unravel as the story goes along they make sure that Molly is developed well in this first outing. Hixson delivers some wonderful art and color work here that gives this book great mood and feel that is a big plus. I like this first outing and cant wait to see where they take it from here. RECOMMENDED.
Black Hammer: Age of Doom #3
Dark Horse Comics Writer Jeff Lemire, Artist Dave Ormston, Colorist Dave Stewart, Letterer Todd Klein
This is simply one of the best comic books that you’re not buying now. Each issue continues to impress me with both intrigue and surprise that Lemire takes the story with each passing chapter. Rarely does a comic really surprise me anymore but Lemire delivers again and again with this book. This issue was really impressive with the blending of so many of the storylines and how Lemire is able to navigate them is impressive. There a lot of reveals in this issue and yet he is able to continue to evolve the mysteries and bring new elements to the story that intrigues and entertains at the same time. What I love about his scripts is that there is so much deep detail to it but has a wonderful natural flow that makes it so easy to follow but never take the easy route along the way. Ormston continues to deliver the visuals each and every issue and is able to change the tone as the story changes. He can go from simple daytime downtown to another world and make is flow with such ease that captures every beat of Lemire’s script with perfection. It’s the emotions of the characters that really sell this book because that is where the heart and soul of this books core is and why they complement each other so well.
Is this book worth your time and money? The thing that kills me with this book is that so few people are reading this. I get that there are a ton of comics that come out every week but so few of them do you really look forward to. Both this main Black Hammer book and the side mini series are the rare books that I truly look forward to each month. Lemire, Ormston and the other artists have created a universe that always delivers the highest quality in both story and artwork that make this book a must read and always at the top of the weekly pile. I can’t recommend this book enough. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
Image Comics Writer Joseph Keatinge, Artist Wook Jin Clark, Colorist Tamra Bonvillain, Letterer Ariana Maher, Culinary Consultant Ali Bouzari
A was very impressed with the first issue of Flavor and while this second issue isn’t as exciting as the first issue, it does a nice job of building the story and unfolding very nicely. This second chapter reveals some intriguing new elements to the story that give it a nice richness that adds some new twists to the story. Keatinge wisely doesn’t reveal too much this issue that continue to reveal small nuggets of story that keep you guessing that is a nice touch to the story. I think that my favorite story element that he shows this issue is that the bar that the big burley men go to is to have ice cream instead of beer that is a very nice touch of humor that gives this book a great charm. The other thing that is impressive about this book is the layers of the town that are peeled away and discovered along the way. Building a world is a challenge but Keatinge is really nailing this with the story. Clark continues to impress with his artwork on this book. In a lot of ways his simple and yet very detailed style gives this book a great charm and feel that adds greatly to its reading pleasure. A really good example of this is the ice cream bar fight that captures all of the elements of the script and hits every beat perfectly.
Is this book worth your time and money? This book continues to impress and I like that Keatinge is taking his time with the unfolding of the story. He is letting the story give you a feeling that is what I am really liking about it. Clark is delivering the perfect art that captures both the big and subtle details that is making this book a real winner. RECOMMENDED!
Captain America #704
Marvel Comics Writer Mark Waid, Artist Leonardo Romero, Colorist Jordie Bellaire, Letterer Joe Caramagna
The final chapter of Waid’s far too short run on Captain America comes to a wonderful close that was fun while it lasted. What made this run for me was that Waid simple told good stories that may not have been flashy but delivered the core of what and who Captain America is and should be, inspiring. Sure there have been better Cap stories over the years but at this time a hopeful story is maybe what we need now. It’s not to say that this is a political story but it does have spot on social commentary to the times we are currently in but Waid wisely doesn’t get preachy with the story. What has made this final story so great is that it shows that everyone has and can be a hero in their own way and that good can and will triumph over evil. Sure it was a simple story but sometimes a simple story has more impact than a huge epic and this is the case here. Romero is the sole artist on this final chapter and he was a perfect choice for this story. His art style has a great classic feel that captured this story so well. It’s simple and yet detailed style gave this story such great impact with emotions that Romero delivered perfectly.
Is this book worth your time and money? It’s a shame that Waid’s run on Captain America was so short. He did however get the book back on track after the deviating missteps from the whole Cap is a Nazi storyline that was a real disaster on many levels. I will miss this book and while I will give the new creative team a try, it’s going to be a hard act to follow this short but perfect run. RECOMMENDED!
Gideon Falls #4
Image Comics Writer Jeff Lemire, Artist Andrea Sorrentino, Colorist Dave Stewart Letterer Steve Wands
Yet another treat this week with another Lemire series that is a solid horror comic. One of the tough things to do in a horror comic is to continue to build the tension with each chapter of the story and this is one of the reasons that Gideon Falls is working so well. Lemire is able to keep that tension in the story going so well each issue while unfolding the mystery at the same time. One of the reasons why its working so well is that he is taking the time to build the characters in the story so that when all of the crazy stuff is going on your able to feel it more deeply because your invested in them. The balance that Lemire has been doing with the two storylines is a big reason that the story delivers so well and how they are both similar and different at the same time and how they are falling into place. It’s one thing to have a solid horror story but you need an artist to capture the rawness of it all and Sorrentino continues to surprise and impress with each issue. The level of detail that he puts into each panel is the key to this book working as well as it does. The way that he uses the layout to push the visuals and it delivers a huge impact to the reader and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Is this book worth your time and money? Another strong chapter in this great book that Is perfectly unnerving and that is why it’s such a great read. It’s the perfect blend of story and visuals that will keep you coming back for more. VERY RECOMMENDED!