So I finally get to catch up with some reviews this week. you will see some of the backlog after this weeks new comics so you too can catch up with some of them too. So here we go….
Ginseng Roots #1
Uncivilized Press Writer/Artist/Colorist/Letterer Craig Thompson
It’s been four years from Thompson’s last book Space Dumplins and his previous award winning Habibi and Blankets took years to create but this time he instead is doing a bi-monthly comic that is a biography of his life growing up in Wisconsin and working on a Ginseng farm with his brother and mother makes for a very interesting story. Thompson’s work has always been personal and that is why it takes him so long to do a new book. I liked that he decided to go a more traditional route with this book because the story really lends itself to the format. What is most amazing about the story is that it’s only 29 pages but there is so much to take in with it that delivers a deep and satisfying first chapter of the story that you simply let it wash over you while you’re reading it. You will be surprised also in how much you learn about the growing of ginseng that is quite fascinating and how relatable that his story will be to you. NOt only is the story great but Thompson’s artwork is simply gorgeous and the way that he uses different layouts to capture the story is amazing. There are so many little details that he infuses into the artwork that will have you taking you’re time to discover it all.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? The best thing about this comic is that is so much worth the wait for it. There is some much detail and heart infused into both the story and artwork that make this comic such a rare treat. This is what comics can and should be and is one of the best comics that you will be reading. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
Secrets of Sinister House #1
DC Comics Writers Rafael Albuquerque & Rafael Scavone/Dan Watters/Paul Dini/Diego Lucero Lopez/Robbie Thompson/John Layman/Che Grayson/Bryan Hill, Artists Rafael Albuquerque/Sumit Kumar/Cain Tormey/Phil Hester & Andy Parks/Tom Raney/Jorge Fornes/Miguel Mendonca/Alessandro Vitti, Colorists Dave McCaig/John Kalisz/Romulo Fajardo Jr./Jeromy Cox/Hi-Fi/Jordie Bellaire/Bill Crabtree/Adriano Lucas, Letterers Tom Napolitano/Troy Peteri/Travis Lanham/Andworld Design/Rob Leigh/Steve Wands/Dave Sharpe/Willie Schubert
DC celebrates another holiday with an oversized special of short stories for Halloween and it’s always a crap shoot to see if it’s going to be worth the ten bucks cover price. The question is always does the good outweigh the bad and in this case there was only one story that was so-so but not terrible so with at ratio of 7 to 1 this is a special that is worth getting if it’s in your budget. My favorite stories were the Red Rain Batman by Albuquerque and Scavone that brings back Vampire Batman that was a real treat but the story was really touching in a horror kind of way and with Albuquerque’s artwork thrown in the book gets off to a great start. Dini and Tormey’s Harley Quinn & Zatanna story was a lot of fun and who know Harley better than Dini is always a treat for his creation. Tormey artwork captures the humor of the story quite well and drawing killer clown dolls is top notch here. The Martian Manhunter story but Lopez, Hester and Parks has a nice twist to it and is very sentimental as it is scary. Hester and Parks artwork does a great job of capturing the emotions of the story and that is why it works so well.
The biggest surprises were House of the Dead that was a good old fashion haunted house story that was simple and yet very effective. Layman’s script reminded me of classic House of Mystery and House of Secrets story that were simple and yet very satisfying and he hits all of the right beats with this one. Fornes really channels those classic artists from that era and is a perfect match for Layman’s script. Constantine was a big winner with a great ghost revenge story that finishes the book on a high note. Vitti does a nice job of capturing the old Hollywood style that the story has and gives it a great visual look to match the story.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? I’ll be honest here that I’m a sucker for short stories and the key to any collection like this is the cost verses the quality and this one was nearly 100% for me. If you’re on a tight budget then this might not be for you but if you’re looking for some nice little horror stories for the season then you should check this one out. RECOMMENDED!
Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #1
DC Black Label Writer Kami Garcia, Artists Mico Suayan & Mike Mayhew, Letterer Richard Starkings
This week brings two Joker comics from DC just in time for the Joker film (surprise…not) and another Harley Quinn Black series but this one is a play on a murder mystery aka Criminal Minds and this first issue is good but a little bit cliche at the same time. One of the reasons that procedural shows are popular is because they are like fast food in the sense you know exactly what you are getting and that is the case here in that Harley is the detective trying to figure out the Joker murders and that is basic plot to the story. It’s not to say that the story is bad by any means it’s just that it’s not much more than a basic murder mystery and if you’re fine with that then you will be happy with this comic but if you’re looking for something with more depth to it then you might want to pass on this one. The artwork by Suayan an d Mayhew really does help sell this one and visually the book is really amazing and gorgeous to look at but I just had wished that the story was on the same level.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? I did have a decent time reading this book so there is that but it doesn’t really stick with you and that is where I struggle with recommending the comic. It was a little too basic for me but you could certainly buy worse comics out there so just know what you’re getting here and make you’re own decision.
The Batman’s Grave #1
DC Comics Writer Warren Ellis, Penciller Bryan Hitch, Inker Kevin Nowlan, Colorist Alex Sinclair, Letterer Richard Starkings
This maybe billed as a Batman story it actually is a story told from Alfred’s point of view that gives this story a nice change of pace for the usual routine. Ellis script is a more psychological tale than an action tale one and it’s funny how it’s a murder mystery that is best than the Joker/Harley Criminal Sanity this week. What Ellis does here instead is build up not only the mystery but the strong characterization that keeps it from being too standard and two dimensional. It also dives deep into the depths that Bruce is fighting a never ending battle with crime and yet Alfred sees it as a quicker way to his grave. This first issue won’t blow you away but that is not what Ellis is trying to do here. He is setting things up and as with most of his stories he has a nicely paced first chapter that gives you a good reason to come back and see where he takes it. The artwork by Hitch and Nowlan is very nice and Nowlan brings a nice gritty edge to Hitch’s clean lines that adds greatly to this story but does not over power the pencils. This is a really nice looking comic.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? I liked the set up here in this first issue and will give it a try for a few issues to see how Ellis build the story from here. I liked that he took the time to let the story unfold instead of going for a basic crime drama. The artwork really sells this one and complements the story greatly. This one is well worth checking out.
The Joker: Year of the Villain #1
DC Comics Writers John Carpenter & Anthony Burch, Penciller Philip Tan, Inker Marc Deering, Danny Miki, Jonathan Glapion, & Philip Tan, Colorist Jay David Ramos, Letter Gabriela Downie
Legendary horror director John Carpenter writes his first DC Comics story and delivers a disturbingly creepy story here. What he and co-writer Burch has done here is use the Joker but tells the story from a henchman’s point of view. This is going to upset a lot of regular comic readers because it’s being sold as a Joker story but by going the non traditional route actually gives the story a better payoff in the end. It’s also a story about mental illness and the need to been wanted. The story centers around Jeremy and how his life has ended up with the clown prince of crime and yet the decisions that he makes both good and bad shows that life is much more of a grey area than most people realize. I liked that the story was much more subdued that I had anticipated and not centered around the Joker in some respects and that you can change thing if you want to. There is a lot to take in here with this story and at first you’re really caught off guard as to where the story is going and Carpenter and Burch keep you on your toes with twists and turns in the story that are impressive. Tan delivers a wonderfully gritty artwork that captures all of the ups and downs of the story in gruesome detail but never overplays it. The one thing that really works is the emotions that Tan captures in the art that really helps sell this story.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? If you’re willing to understand that this is not a straight forward Joker story then you will enjoy what Carpenter and Burch are trying to do here. They are dealing with deeper issues than just another villain story. I enjoyed this story because it wasn’t what I expected and that is pretty rare in a comic like this. RECOMMENDED!
Marvel Comics Writers J.J. Abrams & Henry Abrams, Artist Sara Pichelli, Inking Assistant Elisabetta D’Amico, Colorist Dave Stewart, Letterer Joe Caramagna
With much fanfare with this book being written by one of the biggest names in Hollywood was based on an idea from his son Henry had all of the ear marks of being a vanity project with a mediocre story but it turns out that it’s one of the better Spider-Man stories that I have read in a while. What really helps it was that it’s a What If type story that doesn’t follow any continuity and tells a pretty compelling story that starts off with a pretty shocking first chapter. While there are shocking moments in some ways the story is pretty basic at the same time and that is not a terrible thing here. In the end it’s a kid discovering that he has powers story that is not going to change comics but it’s not trying to either. The artwork by Pichelli is quite nice here and she does a very nice job on the characters emotions in the story that helps sell the story well. The one thing that I like in her artwork was that she didn’t make it feel like a standard superhero story and that was a big plus.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? In a lot of ways this is like a lot of Abrams work flashy and fun but not a whole lot of depth but I have certainly read worse than this. If you try to read deeper that a son hating father story then you’re going to be pretty disappointed but if you take it for a simple fun Spider-Man story then you could do a lot worse than this.
Image Comics Writer Tina Horn, Artist Michael Dowling, Letterer Steve Wands
Make no mistake that this is a very adults only comic with lots of full on sex but there is more to this story than just that. Horn wisely gets the sex out of the way in the first few pages and then we start to see where the story is going to go. This is an Orwellian story that is the church vs the sexual freedom of individuals. Horn does a nice job of balancing the exposition but keeping the story moving along that really helps this first issue off the ground. There are a lot of familiar tropes that Hope uses but she does make the story have a fresh feel to it even with the noticeable story elements. Dowling artwork has a clean and simple style that works well here and he captures all of the emotions of the script very nicely. There is a lot of drama and dialogue here and Dowling makes it flow really well as you’re reading it and his limited color pallet adds greatly to the feel of the story.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? There is a lot to like here in this first issue and I’m intrigued to see where they take the story from here. With a solid story and nice artwork and they give a good reason to come back for more make this a comic that you need to check out. RECOMMENDED!
New Mutants: War Children #1
Marvel Comics Writer Chris Claremont, Artist Bill Sienkiewicz, Colorist Chris Sotomayor, Letterer Clayton Cowles
One of the latest Marvel Comics 80 years celebration comic is one of it’s best. The re-teaming of Claremont and Sienkiewicz on the New Mutants is not only a blast from the past but a dream come true. When Sienkiewicz took over the title in 1984 it was met with strong resistance at the time but the test of time has proven that it was simply ahead of its time. FOr me Claremont is a wrier that is better when teamed with a strong artistic collaborator and Sienkiewicz was that and even more. This new one shot is like time has never passed and picks up from the stories that ended in 1985 and that makes this comic that much better. The one thing you have to remember is that the stories that they did were really weird and this one is right up there but the strongest elements of the stories continue to be the characters and no matter how weird that they get they always ground the story and that is certainly the case here. Certering the story around Warlock is perfect because it really allows Sienkiewicz to tear down the artistic boundaries of normal comics and takes it to a whole other level. The biggest treat of this book is of course the stunningly gorgeous artwork of Sienkiewicz that we sadly don’t get that much of in comics today. He always pushes the boundaries and this is truly one of his best. I also have to point out Sotomayor’s color work on this book that complements Sienkiewicz line work perfectly. It does’t get much better than this.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? It a rare feat for two creators that haven’t worked together in 34 years to pick up right where they left off is amazing. It was mind blowing then and just as boundary pushing now as it was then. Comics don’t get much better than this. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
DC Comics Black Label Writer and Artist Stjepan Šejić, Letterer Gabriela Downie
The third in the Black Label line at DC is off to a great start with this take on Harley Quinn by Šejić that take a different approach to the origin of Harley. Wisely he doesn’t change her but he does a very nice job of fleshing out the story that leads up to her becoming Harley. I like that he took a slow burn approach to the story that allows the book to breath and we get know her before she becomes involved with the Joker. Šejić script has a lot of fresh ideas that add greatly to her back story that was quite a surprise when reading this comic. I find it interesting that this book is stronger than the Joker/Harley one that came out this week mostly because Šejić takes a better approach to the story and doesn’t try to make it big but just good. The big draw for this book is of course Šejić artwork that gives Harley and Joker a fresh look that is different than standard monthly comic artwork in a very good way. He has a mix of reality and exaggerated reality and blends them together nicely here. My favorite scenes are the smaller dramatic ones that his artwork really capture the emotions of the characters that makes this book work so well.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? I rather enjoyed this first issue and Šejić sets thing up nicely here. While this comic wont necessarily blow you away at first it does stick with you after you read it. Šejić doesn’t try and reinvent the wheel here just builds on the origin of Harley and adds to it nicely. RECOMMENDED!
Inferior 5 #1
DC Comics Plot & Pencils Keith Giffen, Plot and Script Jeff Lemire, Inker Michelle Delecki, Colorist Hi-Fi, Letterer Rob Leigh, Back- Up Story Writer & Artist Jeff Lemire, Colorist Jośe Villarrubia
If you’re old enough to remember the 1960’s Inferior 5 this is certainly not the comic book that you will remember but that might be a good thing. It’s not to say that the 1960’s series was bad but it was a charming humor comic but that is not what this is. Taking place after the events in Invasion from 1988 (and no you don’t necessarily have to have read that) and Lemire and Giffen give you enough information to set things up for this series. What is interesting about this story is that it sets up a nice little mystery to Dangerfield Arizona and the the oddity of both the town and the people that live there. The set up here in this first issue is a bit on the slow side but pacing is actually really good for a first issue exposition heavy introduction to things. There is a lot that they are setting up here and there is a lot to take in in this first issue. It been quite a while since Giffen has drawn and I’m a fan of his artwork and he does a great job here. I like that he is using the six panel layout that has a nice old school look and feel to it and help the tone and feel of the story. Lemire’s Peacemaker back up is a really nice bonus and I have a feeling that it might just tie into the main story but we shall see on that one. While it’s only 5 pages there is a lot packed into them and excited to see what he does with the characters. I liked his visual take on him and is a nice little mystery that he is setting up.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? Look this comic is going to be for a very selective audience. The one thing that you have to remember is that this is a 12 issue series and there is a long way to go. That is why this first issue is pure exposition but you cane see the threads of the story that Lemire and Giffen are setting up here. The next few issues are going to be the key to the comic but if you’re like me as a huge fan of Lemire, you know the book is in good hands. If you’re looking for something that is going to be very far out of the normal superhero comfort zone then you should give this book a try. I liked what they started here and can’t wait to see where they go with it. Recommended for the adventurous readers!