Royal City #14
Image Comics Writer and Artist Jeff Lemire, Letterer Steve Wands
Every so often there is a comic that may not get the praise it deserves when it first comes out but over time it becomes a celebrated work of greatness. Royal City is one of those special comics. It’s a comic that washes over you as the story went along and while it wasn’t shocking or epic on the surface it was in fact that and more when it was all said and done. With a flood of genre and superhero comics that get nearly all of the attention and shelf space it was Lemire’s work on Royal City that was always a comic that I look forward to each month. This final chapter goes out the way it came in with a small ending that was extremely satisfying and a natural conclusion to the story. What made this story so great was that it didn’t try and be more than it was. You could say that it was a slice of life story but that is just the surface of it and there was so much more behind that really was emotional and heartfelt that kept you coming back for more each issue. Not only was the story great but Lemire’s artwork give the story a natural down to earth feel that captured the raw emotions of the characters so well. What made it such a visual treat was his amazing watercolor work that complemented his line work so well that made it both big and small at the same time. While it’s a very personal story to Lemire, it works as a story that relates to us all in one way or another. Comics don’t get better than this.
Is this book worth your time and money? I can not express how much you need to buy this comic. There is no excuse at this point not to go out and pick up the trades of this series. This is a book that you will certainly want to go back and re-read again and again because there is so much more as you read it again that you find new little nuggets of joy as you go along. It’s not a story that is spoiled once you have finished, quite the contrary it’s one that unfolds in new ways again and again. Lemire is one of those rare creators that can do both mainstream superhero comics but also tell more personal and deeper stories that both deliver but on different levels. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
West Coast Avengers #1
Marvel Comics Writer Kelley Thompson, Artist Stefano Caselli, Colorist Triona Farrell, Letterer Joe Caramagna
A was a big fan of Thompson’s work on the Hawkeye series that was a lot of fun and was so much more than just a female clone of the male version. I was sad when the series was cancelled but happy when they announced this new title with both Kate and Clint and some new characters thrown into the mix. The good news is that Thompson delivers the same fun and charm of the previous series and in fact ramps it up to a new level of fun. I mean she starts things off with land sharks of all things so right out of the gate you see where the stories are heading. While this first issue is a set up/exposition heavy it does however deliver a fun first outing that does a fine job of introducing the cast to new readers that might not be familiar with them and that is a plus for Thompson script because she does a nice job of balancing it all and never feels bogged down. She also gives you a good reason to come back for a second issue that is always a plus. I was a big fan of Leonardo Romero’s artwork on the Hawkeye series and that was for me very big shoes for the artist on this series to fill, and I’m glad to say that Caselli is very much up to the task and does a very fine job on the book. There were a few times I noticed that the backgrounds were a little sparse but over all it thankfully wasn’t fatal and he does a very nice job with the facial expressions. Some of his best work on the book is the “confession” interviews that really show off his dramatic art skills.
Is this book worth your time and money? I liked this book and shows a lot of promise. Thompson does a nice balancing act with the fun and action and blends them together nicely here. I like the cast that she has assembled of characters that are a bit off the radar and that works to the books advantage very well because there is not a lot of baggage or demands from other creators wanting to use them. I have a soft spot for rag-tag teams because the creative teams are able to get away with more than a bigger book. With a solid story and very nice artwork makes gets this book off to a good start. If you’re looking for more fun with your superheroes then you have come to the right place. Well worth checking out.
Beast of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #1
Dark Horse Comics Writer Evan Dorkin, Artist Benjamin Dewey, Letterer Nate Piekos
I have been a fan of the Beast of Burden comics for quite some time and it’s nice to see them back again. Jill Thompson was the previous artist on the book and Dewey steps in very nicely to take over the art duties on this new story. The only minor complaint that I have with this new series is that for new readers not familiar with this universe, I would have liked to seen a recap on the inside of the front cover to get them up to speed. In a way this is like ghostbusters but with animals and more along the lines of Hellboy (and there was a crossover story with him previously). It is pretty easy to figure out but when you read this story for the first time but would have been nice. Dorkin does a nice job of setting up the mystery in the story quite well here and has a nice dark side to it that was very nice to see. What I have always loved about these stories is that this mixing of animals with mystery and magic is a simple but very effective formula for fun and exciting stories. The one thing that Dorkin does very well is with the emotions of the characters and you soon forget that they are animals and just go with it. You see them as strong and wonderful characters and that is why it works so well again and again. Dewey really delivers some outstanding artwork in this book and very excited to see what he does over the course of the story. This first issue captures every element and detail so well that really added to the enjoyment of this story and a very fine addition to the creative team. It’s truly amazing the emotions that he is able to capture with the limited facial limitations on the dogs and he really impressed me with it.
Is this book worth your time and money? If you’re a fan of mystery, horror and the occult this is a book that will satisfy and delight you perfectly. These mini series have always been a treat and with the addition of Dewey I happy to say that it’s in very good artistic hands with this outing. I cant wait to see where they take this one. VERY RECOMMENDED!
Batman: Kings of Fear #1
DC Comics Writer Scott Peterson, Artist Kelley Jones, Colorist Michelle Madsen, Letterer Rob Leigh
Kelly Jones is more than enough reason to buy this book because his is simply the best Batman artist around today. But the bigger question is Peterson up to the task with the script? The one thing that I will say with this book is that on this first outing the story won’t blow you away but in a way that’s OK. Sometimes a comfort food type of story is still satisfying. In a lot of ways Peterson’s story is not that original but with Jones on the artwork his script hits all of the right beats visually to his strengths and that is for me fine. This is a type of story where you get to play in the Batman sandbox and while it doesn’t really bring much new to the party, it is however satisfying in that it delivers what you expect. Where the book really shines is of course with Jones delivering some of his best work yet that is sure to please fans old and new alike. What is really fun with this story is that they get to play with so many classic villains in this story that it’s impressive that Jones was able to wrangle it all together so well and at one point I wonder if the printer ran out of black because of the amount that Jones uses here. I must point out Jones long time colorist Madsen who delivers spot on coloring to Jones’s dark line work. One of the best examples is on page 16 with all of the lights out she captures the subtle lighting of a single match that balances the light and dark perfectly and very few colorist can do that anymore as well as she does.
Is this book worth your time and money? Hell if Jones drew the phone book I would buy it but that’s just me. I will say that they story is pretty basic but it does deliver a story that works and it will be interesting to see if Peterson is able to bring something different as the story goes along. Is it the greatest Batman story ever, no but it doesn’t pretend to be. What it does deliver is a fun and simple story with Batman and his rouges gallery and on that level the book works perfectly. RECOMMENDED!
Black Hammer: Age of Doom #4
Dark Horse Comics Writer Jeff Lemire, Artist Dean Ormston, Colorist Dave Stewart, Letterer Todd Klein
In the second of Lemire’s comics this week brings my other favorite series of his the Black Hammer Universe with this main title that with this issue has the most shocking ending so far in the series. He finally reveals what is really happening with the team being trapped in the small farm town. While this revelation is totally unexpected, it does however give the book a whole new story direction that will add to the mythology greatly as the story continues. What Lemire has done so well with the Black Hammer books is deliver a much deeper and richer superhero universe that is able to have the superhero action and adventure but satisfy you in a different way than most mainstream ones do. The reason that the books work so well is that Lemire has characters that the readers get fully vested in and that is why it works so well is that you truly care about them and what will happen to them next. Ormston delivers another fine issue of artwork and there is a lot of emotional highs and lows that he captures so well. There is a lot to take in with this issues story and he delivers some of his best work yet and that is saying a lot because he’s been so good on the book.
Is this book worth your time and money? Honestly shame on you if you’re not reading this book. This is what superhero book can and should be with both action and story. So many writers of mainstream superhero comics rarely try to go outside the mainstream and push the boundaries but that is what both Lemire and Ormston do here each and every issue and it really keeps readers on their toes and why they keep coming back. I love this book and it’s a true must read. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Justice League Dark #2
DC Comics Writer James Tynion IV, Penciller Alvaro Martinez Bueno, Inker Raul Fernandez, Colorist Brad Anderson, Letterer Rob Leigh
The first issue of this Justice League spin-off team was good I felt Tynion went a bit overboard on the dialog that overwhelmed the first a bit for me. While the second issue was a little lighter it did however feel tighter with the scripting that did help the flow of the story as the issue went along. The one thing that I will give him on the book is how deep he is going into the DC mystic mythology with this story. What he is doing well is not trying to do just another superhero team up book but is willing to let is simply unfold and flow along without trying to satisfy a mainstream audience. He is building a world that is Dark and just not in name of the book. He is venturing towards the Vertigo area of the DC Universe and that is a good thing. It’s taking an outside the box approach to it and with this second outing you see that his is willing to take some risk with the story. There are some pretty messed up elements in the story and that is really setting this book apart from the status quo. Bueno is the perfect artist on this book because of his attention to detail is beyond impressive. There is a lot of horrifying images that in a lesser artist hands would not deliver the script and bring this book to life as well as he is doing. The fact that he uses every square inch of each panel to convey not only the emotions but the feel and look of these worlds is why this book is working so well.
Is this book worth your time and money? I love odd ball mainstream superhero stories and so far Tynion and Bueno are delivering a very interesting take on the mystic side of the DC Universe. The story is unfolding nicely and so far I’m staying with this book. Having Bueno’s gorgeous artwork is a big plus but Tynion is setting things up well and is giving a good reason to come back for more. This trip to the dark side of the DC Universe is growing on me and worth checking out.
The Sentry #3
Marvel Comics Writer Jeff Lemire, Artist Kim Jacinto & Joshua Cassara, Colorist Rain Beredo, Letterer Travis Lanham
Lemire’s third book this week is taking a nice dark approach to the standard superhero story and shows how power can corrupt both good and evil. What he is doing here is telling a story that is firmly planted in the grey area where things are not always black or white. It’s a pretty simple story on the surface but its the deeper emotions of both Scout and Cranio that makes this chapter of the story so interesting. A lot of this issues story is pure drama and dialog that more mainstream readers are not used to but that is where this book really shines in that it takes the grey area of the superhero world to a deeper level that is emotionally satisfying and exciting. Jacinto and Cassara do a nice job on bringing this drama to life and do some really imaginative layouts that capture the wild story elements that Lemire throws at them.
Is this book worth your time and money? This is a really solid comic that is delivering on the grey area of the superhero world. This issue really opens up the conflict and it will be quite interesting where it ends up from here. Lemire and Jacinto are delivering a solid read with this book and gives a good reason to come back for more. RECOMMENDED!
Action Comics #1002
DC Comics Writer Brian Michael Bendis, Artist Patrick Gleason, Colorist Alejandro Sanchez, Letterer Josh Reed
I like that Bendis is taking Action and Superman in different directions of the same storyline. It allows readers to read both book independently but together they give an overall story. What I like about the Action Comics run so far is that it’s the more Clark Kent side that you don’t see that often and it’s making for a surprisingly good read. It’s also the more human side of Superman that a lot of times is forgotten in the Superman mythology. One of Bendis greatest strengths as a writer is his attention to the human nature of a character and that is certainly what he is doing with this story. Gleason is the perfect choice as an artist here because he is able to capture the subtle emotions of Clark so well and at the same time deliver the outer space anger scene with such vigor. He is able to balance it all quite well and I can see why Bendis choose him for the art duties on the book.
Is this book worth your time and money? So far I’m enjoying what Bendis is doing on both Superman and Action but I have to give a slight edge to Action with it’s more subtle storytelling that is the magic charm for this book. Well worth checking out.