Books Of Magic #1
Vertigo Comics Writer Kat Howard, Artist Tom Fowler, Colorist Jordan Boyd, Letterer Todd Klein
I’ve been pretty disappointed with most of the Sandman Universe books so far and the last of the new series Books of Magic turns out to be one of the strongest of the bunch. I have to give props to Howard who wisely gets both new and old readers up to speed with the back story of Tim Hunter and still finds a way through the exposition to move this first issue forward fairly well considering the constraints. First and foremost she focuses on Tim and makes sure that the readers get to know him and relate to him so that when things get weird (and they will, trust me on this one) you will be able to go with it because you care about him and the other characters. Howard keeps a nice pace going with this opening story and gives you a good reason to come back for a second issue. Fowler brings a nice style to the book with a nice distinction between the real world and the magical realm. While his artwork might not be super flashy on this book that wouldn’t work very well. Fowler gives the artwork a solid grounding to this book that gives it a great tactile look and feel that complements Howard’s script perfectly.
Is this book worth your time and money? This book is off to a solid start and shows a lot of promise. Howard and Fowler have delivered a good first outing and makes sure that the reader is able to understand who is Tim Hunter and how his magic works. So many creators who revive older properties forget that most readers have no clue of what is going on and Howard and Fowler have made sure that the exposition gets everyone up to speed but never lets that bog down the story so it doesn’t more forward. After the other mostly disappointing Sandman Universe titles didn’t instill a lot of confidence with this book but they have delivered a solid first issue and a good reason to come back for more. Well worth checking out.
Black Crown/IDW Writers David & Maria Lapham, Artist/Letterer David Lapham
In a lot of ways this book is Stray Bullets 2 because of the similarities that it has with Lapham’s very well know story but in other ways this book is very much its own thing. There are things that make sense in the story and then there are times where you feel completely lost but they set things up in the story that way. What this book does do very well is deliver an intriguing mystery story with many twist and turns that may no be clear right away but does come together at the appropriate time. For a lot of readers this is going to be a bit of love it or hate it type of comic because the way that they lay out the story presents things that will come together as the story goes along. In a lot of way the story is a journey and as with most journeys they don’t always reveal themselves at first and that is what David and Maria have done here with this story. I’m a huge fan of David’s artwork and he really delivers some of his best work here. He has a nice noir look that fits this story like a glove and the rich detail that he puts into each line is alway impressive. But its the emotions that he delivers with the characters that is the books best asset and there is a lot of subtle elements that he puts into this book.
Is this book worth your time and money? This book is definitely not for the mainstream reader but if you’re looking for a good mystery story dripping with noir then you should give this book a chance. While you may not quite know what is going on some of the time, there is no doubt that the journey is definitely not going to be boring.
Dead Kings #1
Aftershock Comics Writer Steve Orlando, Artist Matthew Dow Smith, Colorist Lauren Affe, Letterer Thomas Mauer
There are a few moments where this book seems like it might make sense but never really quite gets there. The biggest flaw of this book is that you feel that you have been dropped into the middle of a story and that you have missed the entire set up. Orlando script never really connects because there is not set to the story or the characters so there is little to care about beyond that the story really doesn’t make much sense of what is going on. He doesn’t give the reader much character development so you could really care less about any of the cast. Honestly I really couldn’t quite figure out what he was trying to get across with the story. While he may have a grand plan with this book further down the road in future issues but after reading this mess of a story here there is simply no reason to bother with any further issues. The only bright spot here is Smith’s artwork that is nice and delivers some nice moody moments that are simply wasted on a story that goes nowhere. It’s a real shame that his artwork is really wasted here.
Is this book worth your time and money? There are a few story elements here and there that show a little promise but the script is such a mess that there is nothing here that would compel you to bother to buy the second issue. This was a real disappointment. SKIP IT!
Batman Kings of Fear #3
DC Comics Writer Scott Peterson, Artist Kelley Jones, Colorist Michelle Madsen, Letterer Rob Leigh
I have been enjoying this mini series so far but I have to say that this third issue was a real game changer for it. The first two issues while very good were a fairly by the numbers affair but Peterson brought a take on the Dark Knight that is rarely seen. He did a night in Batman’s life story that showed that his patrols at night are not always filled with super villains but sometimes just helping out someone and the scene with Batman and the little lost girl was very touching and heartfelt that is something that you rarely see in a Batman story. It’s nice to see Peterson touch on a side of Batman that is not often seen but it really made for a refreshing story. There is some great humor in the script that was another stroke of genius because again it shows another side to Batman that is not touched upon often but made for one of the best stories so far in this book. You already know that Jones is THE Batman artist currently but Peterson script gave him some story elements that he normally doesn’t get to do such as humor and heartfelt moments in the story and not only does he deliver but he brings a look and feel that you don’t see often in the mainstream, it’s a writer/artist team that is perfectly in sync. Peterson knows what Jones can bring to the book and Jones takes that and runs to the finish line with it. I must again point out Madsen’s spot on color work on this series is such a great complement to Jones line work and she shows what color can and should be in comic books.
Is this book worth your time and money? Jones has worked with some of the best writers over the years and while Peterson is still a fairly new writer in the game, this book shows that his years of editing have paid off handsomely to deliver a story that continues to build the story and keep it moving along quite well. Jones is obviously having a blast with this book not only with the huge cast of characters but it is giving him challenges with his artwork and he brings the goods to deliver some of his best work to date. While this book may not be the most hotly anticipated Batman book but it has certainly delivered a book that is simply good and that is all that a comic needs to be. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!