A bit of a smaller release of new comic books this week but still some good reads to be found.
The Flintstones #8
DC Comics Writer Mark Russell, Artist Steve Pugh, Colorist Chris Chuckay Letterer David Sharpe
One of the best reviewed books of 2016 continues to be one of the best comic that DC is publishing righ now. Russell continues to mine social commentary within the classic Flintstones universe. This issue touches on politics and celebrity endorsements but the real story in this issue is heart. I know how do you mix that in with politics? Simple Russell keeps the main part of the story of Wilma going back home to see her mother and shows how important family is no matter what the current events. What always impresses me with Russell’s scripts are that he never loses sight of what we love about the main characters in the Flintstones. It’s what the reader connects with and once you have accomplished that then you can throw all sorts of crazy stuff into the story. What is making the Flintstones so good is that Russell continues to blend satire and current events but makes sure that it will work both now and in the future. Pugh is back on art duties this issue and delivers some of his best work yet. What continues to impress me with his artwork is that it’s his detail to the emotions of the characters that is what pulls the book together. This is one of those rare books where the writer and artist are perfectly in sync. The proof is in the last page of this issue that really shows the powerful emotions of the story.
Is this book worth your time and money? There has been a lot of debate about the re-imaging of the Hanna-Barbera characters at DC Comics but those who have been the most vocal have obviously never read this book. Russell has not only captured what we loved about the Flintstones but these stories would have worked on the show. He simply is telling stories that are below the sitcom surface of the animated series but he never insults the original source material. Add in Pugh’s amazing artwork that gives the book a real one/two punch that continues to make this a must read book every month. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
Monsters Unleashed #2
Marvel Comics Writer Cullen Bunn, Penciler Greg Land, Inker Jan Leisten, Colorist David Curiel, Letterer Travis Lanham
While I liked the idea of this book the first issue while not bad didn’t really live up to its full potential but I had hoped that it just suffered from being a first issue. Well I guess that I really expected too much from a Marvel “Event” book. Bunn who writes Harrow County that is a really amazing book can also write a book that simply is a real mess. The biggest problem is that the entire first issue is about the monsters coming to attack earth and all of the heroes in the Marvel Universe must try to stop the destruction. Well I guess Bunn thought that if that worked so well in the first issue he would just move the deck chairs around on the Titanic and nobody would notice. Well he was sadly wrong. This issue simply adds nothing to the story and is a complete waste of time reading this book. This book is like a bad Godzilla film that is not even rubber suit cheesy. The other big flaw is that by the second issue there should be so sort of point or direction to the story. Nope, Nada, Zip! While the artwork of Land and Leisten is very nice to look at that is as good as this book gets. They can’t even save this train wreck of a book.
Is this book worth your time and money? At five bucks there should be a lot more here but it’s a complete waste of time and money. Bunn simply has no direction to this story and what could have been a fun Pacific Rim/Godzilla type of story he didn’t even do that. The art is really nice and has some really beautiful action but it doesn’t help this awful story. AVOID THIS BOOK!
Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #1
Boom! Studios & DC Comics, Story Robbie Thompson, Writer Justin Jordan, Artist Barnaby Bagenda, Colorist Alex Guimaraes, Letterer Ed Dukeshire
There have been a lot of visitors to the Planet of the Apes lately. First Tarzan and now Green Lantern I’m not sure that some crossovers are such a good idea. The first issue of the book is not terrible, there is really nothing compelling to have you read any more. The problem with some crossovers are that the paper-thin reasons for the characters to meet have to at least be marginally compelling. In this case there is little to connect Green Lantern with the Planet of the Apes. Jordan uses the tired and true reason of the bad guy dropping something (in this case a lantern ring) into the other universe and then everyone head over there to have a giant party together. In this case the mixture is a bit like oil and water. If you shake it up enough they might seem to go together but they really never do. While Jordan does make the respective characters feel right but the hook to throw them together is simply not there. The script goes through all of the motions but ends up being very meh in the end. The artwork by Bagenda is better than average for a crossover book and there is some nice work here by him. Sadly his is only able to do so much with the so-so story that he was handed on this book. His art didn’t blow me away or anything in the end.
Is this book worth your time and money? It seems that DC is gone crossover crazy and this book is one of the misses that is occurring far too often lately. While crossover book as a rule of thumb are not very spectacular this one is one that I can’t see anyone really clamoring for. The story is basic and boring and neither Planet of the Apes and Green Lantern seem to fit well together. One would have though maybe a Flash/Gorilla Grodd would have been a better idea than this. SKIP IT!
Marvel Comics Writer Kelly Thompson, Artist Leonardo Romero, Colorist Jordie Bellaire, Letterer Joe Sabino
I will admit that I’m not the biggest Marvel fan and with the real lack of quality lately on the vast majority of their line it’s rare to find a gem in there. Well guess what not only has Hawkeye gotten off to a great start but Thompson has really kept the momentum of the book at full speed. What Thompson is doing here on this book is not rocket science but simply is telling a solid and compelling story. First and foremost she has infused the book with a character that you care about. Kate Bishop is smart, funny and will kick your ass if you piss her off but also deep down she is loyal and caring (sometimes if she feels like it). What is making this first story arc so good is that Thompson is unfolding the mystery at a nice pace and keep you coming back for more. This issue is digging deeper into the masked cult that is mysteriously invaded the town and there are some nice twists in the story. She make sure to give you good bang for your buck story each issue so far but ends each one with a compelling reason to come back for more. She also infuses the book with fun that is missing in so many mainstream superhero comics today. You really can have it all and Thompson continues to prove that each issue. Romero’s artwork is the perfect complement to Thompson’s scripts. His clean and simple style really fits the tone of the book and while is may seem simple on the surface there is a huge amount of depth to his artwork. I must point out Bellaire’s color work on the book that not only complements Romero’s line work but takes it to a whole other level.
Is this book worth your time and money. I am really loving this book and each issue is doing a great job of building on the story and leaving you wanting more. This book a nice breezy read that really sticks with you. Thompson and Romero are delivering a great read each month and is fast becoming a must read book each month. VERY RECOMMENDED!
The Spirit: The Corpse-Makers #1
Dynamite Comics Writer/Artist/Letterer Francesco Francavilla
This is one of those books that you read and simply just say wow! Beyond that Francavilla is one of our greatest talents in comics today, he is a real class act with the opening page tribute to Will Eisner and Darwyn Cooke. This book is simply not a tribute to the Eisner/Spirit legacy but just as Cooke did a number of years ago, capture the essence of what Eisner infused The Spirit with. While the recent Matt Wagner mini series was a good Spirit story this new one is by far one of the perfect versions that Eisner would have been proud of. Like Cooke Francavilla gets what The Spirit is and can be. He simply does not try to retread what Eisner did but takes what made the character so great in the first place but make this book all his own. Francavilla has always had a great flair for noir and what better way to showcase that here. What I love about this book is that beyond being a great Spirit story, it’s a well crafted mystery story that builds a solid first act and leaves you wanting more. He does a great job of introducing the cast of characters for new readers but never lets it bog down the story so it has a great flow while reading it. He is also one of the few truly great writer/artist and this book is simply gorgeous what is most impressive is his use of black and white and using color to enhance the black and white noir artwork. One thing that I have always been a fan of Francavilla’s art is his bold and well thought out layouts with his artwork. This is also a strong Eisner influence that many artists have learned from the master storyteller. Yet as much as it has the Eisner touch it’s still very much his own.
Is this book worth your time and money? There are very few characters in comics that are held in high regards as The Spirit and you have to be brave and crazy to take that pressure on. Not only has Francavilla done this herculean task but has put his own flavor on the book. It’s a book that is a treat to read but to savor the beautiful artwork. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Marvel Comics Writer Ed Brisson, Artist Guillermo Sanna, Colorist Miroslav Mrva, Letterer Clayton Cowles, Back-up Story Writer Marv Wolfman, Artist Alec Morgan, Colorist Frank Martin
This is one of those book that I’m not quite sure of after reading it. On the one hand Brisson delivers on the fact that Bullseye simply likes to kill people but on the other hand I don’t know that it’s a book that I really want to read now with all of the things that are going on in the real world. I’m not a person who shies away from violence but I think that what bothered me was that it didn’t really serve the story that well especially the scene when he is at his agent’s office. I get that Bullseye is a violent psycho but Brisson didn’t really bring anything new or different to the character or the story here. The bigger issue that I had with the story is that there simply is little depth here and becomes a shot first and ask questions later. While the story of Bullseye going after the Mexican drug cartel has some appeal I didn’t find myself with a really compelling reason to come back for the second issue. I will say that I was very impressed with Sanna’s artwork on the book that had a nice gritty style that fit the story very nicely. This is a good-looking book at least. The backup story by Wolfman and Morgan is a nice little short story that was well told but has the same issue as the main one. Well told but not compelling or memorable.
Is this book worth your time and money? One of the things that makes comic books so great is their ability to for a moment escape reality and visit a fantasy world. But I don’t know if now is the time for a comic like Bullseye. While there is nothing terribly wrong with the book, it left me with an odd cold feeling after reading it. While not every reader is going to feel the same it may appeal to some readers but I think that the vast majority will feel the same as I did while reading it.