Lots of new books this week and sadly there are some really bad ones that you will need to avoid. Thankfully there are some good ones that make up for them.
Vertigo Comics Writer Tim Seeley, Artist Marley Zarcone, Colorist Ryan Hill, Letterer Jared K. Fletcher
Another new Vertigo book with mixed results this time. The plot from Vertigo is, After a sex-tape scandal, former Hollywood child star turned Z-lister Chondra Jackson returns to her hometown of Effigy Mound, IL, to find a seemingly impossible crime – a fresh corpse in an ancient Indian burial site. Even weirder, the murder resembles a scene from an episode of her old TV show, Star Cop, a live-action children’s show about a kid detective. As Chondra starts to investigate, she stumbles upon a bizarre cult that worships celebrities as eternal effigies. And these cult members aren’t just worshiping – they’re also ritually sacrificing anyone who defies their veneration of the beautiful and famous. Chondra’s probe takes her on a terrifying tour of burial mounds across the world, from Stonehenge to the Nazca Lines of Peru. But what is the link between the cult, Chondra’s hometown, and her own bloodline? Will Chondra become the hero detective she played as a child…or is she in fact the cult’s unwitting messiah? The story is a play on the standard detective story but it doesn’t bring a strong new twist on it. Seeley’s script does have some interesting ideas but the pacing on the first issue is a little off. I did like the set up to the story and he does a decent job on introducing Chondra and telling the back story. The big problem is that while there are some good ideas the story never quite grabbed me to draw me into the story. The few twists to the story do give a bit of hope but a second issue is a slim one for me. Zarcone’s art is just not working for me. The Prolog of the television show are done nicely but when you get the art for the present day it starts to fall apart. There is a real lack of detail and the backgrounds are just not there most of the time. The art comes off as stiff and flat and while there is a few bright spots, in the end it’s disappointing.
Is this book worth your time and money? I will give Seeley that there are a few good ideas in the story but it comes off as pretty average in the end. There was just not a lot of compelling reasons to read a second issue. With the art being really disappointing this is not a book that I would recommend reading. With so many books being published now this book is just not going to cut it. SKIP IT!
Abigail and the Snowman #2
kaboom! Writer/Artist/Letterer Roger Langridge, Colorist Fred Stresing
With a really strong first issue I was really looking forward to this second issue. The plot from kaboom! is, It didn’t take long for Abigail to warm up to the idea of having a Yeti as a best friend, but no matter how much fun the two friends have together, they can’t avoid the mysterious men in town up to no good in search of the Abominable Snowman. Not only did this book charm me it is one of the best all ages books that I have read in a long time. Langridge story really builds on the foundation from the first issue. He gets right in to the relationship of Abigail and Claude and how he really turns her life around in this new town. There are two things that really impressed me about this issue, first I like that Abigail didn’t use Claude to gain friends she just brought him to school to introduce him not necessarily flaunt him. The other thing that was handled exceptionally well was when Abigail was talking to her mother who had passed away and Claude overhears her and asks her if she was nice. This was a really touching moment that was handled with such care really made it touching. Not only is the story great but Langridge art is really beautiful. The detail that he puts into the art adds such richness to the book that brings you into the story so effortlessly that you believe everything that is going on.
Is this book worth your time and money? Rarely does an all ages book really capture that lightning in a bottle. Langridge is one of those rare creators that hit that sweet spot with every book he does. With a wonderful story and great art this book is a book that needs to be read by everyone. This is going to be one of the best comics of the year. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
The Phantom #1
King/Dynamite Writer Brian Clevinger, Artist Brent Schoonover, Colorist Robt Snyder, Letterer Simon Bowland
I was excited to see the King Features heroes coming back to comics. King/Dynamite announced these books with much fanfare and even got Darwyn Cooke to do the covers. Well the cover is the best thing I can say about this book. The plot from King/Dynamite is, “What IS The Phantom?” Welcome to the KING, full of TWO-FISTED SCRAPPING and RUGGED COURAGE and UNSTOPPABLE PURPOSE and DARING INFILTRATION and BREAKNECK COMBAT and INDESTRUCTIBLE LEGACY and GHOSTS…WHO…WALK! Where the hell do I start on this train wreck. Clevinger’s story is not the worst thing I have ever read but it’s so basic and regurgitated type of story that you have read a million times before and done a hell of a lot better than this. I hate to say it but this reads like a student project with by the numbers plot and dialog that plods along and really ends up doing nothing. The art is just embarrassing. I get that Dynamite doesn’t pay artists very much but with so many people out there wanting to draw comics they pick Schoonover. Poor layouts, terrible perspective that has stiff characters and flat art with minimal background work. This is really amateurish artwork and a fairly major company like Dynamite should be ashamed of this book. I really hate to write review like this because I understand that they creators involved didn’t set out to make a bad book and Dynamite is the one to blame because they should have a least got people involved in the book with a minimum amount of quality.
Is this book worth your time and money? This is the biggest waste of $3.99 as far as I can remember. Mediocre story at best and simply bad artwork made this a really embarrassing book. The Phantom deserves a lot better than this book. AVOID THIS BOOK!
Flash Gordon #1
King/Dynamite Writers Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, Artist Lee Ferguson, Colorist Omi Remalante, Letterer Simon Bowland
After the train wreck of the Phantom I held little hope out for Flash Gordon. The plot from King/Dynamite is, “He’s nothing but a man!” Welcome to the KING, full of UNCANNY PLANETS and ENORMOUS EXPLOSIONS and FURIOUS HOLOGRAMS and IMPOSSIBLE BRAVERY and GALACTIC HEISTS and SAVAGE GUERILLAS and MYSTERIOUS FLOBOTANIM and MASSIVE HANGOVERS and GRINNING IMPOSSIBILITY! Well the good news is that it’s better than the Phantom, barely. Acker and Blacker’s story does at least feel a bit like Flash Gordon but it really stumbles with the story that tends to ramble on. The characters act and talk rather silly and they have none of the original charm of the Alex Raymond original. I am a big fan of the 1980 Flash Gordon film that is pure camp value but is a poor adaptions of the book is most respects. It seems as if the writers have grown up on the 1980 film and yet didn’t even capture the kitschy feel of the film either. The story is really plagued by bad and over written dialog. There are times in the story where the dialog just goes on and on. The artwork is decent but is very inconsistent throughout. There are times where it’s really good and times where it’s not so good. Again one of my pet peeves is the lack of backgrounds and putting stars in the background doesn’t count when you do it almost all of the time.
Is this book worth your time and money? While the book is not terrible it’s not terribly good either. The story is inconsistent and overly done dialog too many time made it a pretty boring read. Flash Gordon should be an exciting book. I had not excitement for this book. SKIP IT!
The Dying & The Dead #1
Image Comics Writer Jonathan Hickman, Artist Ryan Bodenheim, Colorist Michael Garland, Letterer Rus Wooton
After lots of misses this week we have a change of pace now a solid new book from Image. The plot from Image is, “TODAY, TOMORROW, THE GRAVE” A murder at a wedding reveals a fifty year-old secret. At great cost, a man with a dying wife is given the opportunity to save her. A lost tribe is reborn in another time. Seemingly disparate events that force relics from the Greatest Generation to come together for one last hurrah. Hickman is one of those writers that seems to be better suited to do his own stories rather than his mainstream books. For me most of his mainstream work hasn’t really excited me but this book really gets off to a great start and was a really solid read. The book catches you off guard at the beginning but it all makes sense as it goes along. What I really loved about the story was that the pace of the book was perfect. It really took it’s time and never felt rushed or slow. There was a lot of exposition to get to but the layers of the story came off very well. Hickman sets up a really grand adventure with the first issue and leaves a great deal of mystery to the story. Bodenheim artwork is really fantastic and bold. His use of layouts for the story were really stunning and visually striking. His level of detail to the art was very impressive. I must really commend Garland’s color work on the book that really sets an impressive tone and feel that complements Bodenheim’s line artwork. This is a really great looking book.
Is this book worth your time and money? I was very impressed with the first issue and there is a lot of dense story that is going on here. While there is a lot of mystery that Hickman is keeping close to his vest, you never feel lost or the story drags at all. The art really bring the story to life and I can’t wait to see what future issues of the book brings to the table. RECOMMENDED!
The Multiversity Guidebook #1
DC Comics Writer Grant Morrison, Artists Marcus To and Paulo Siqueira (Various Artists for the Multiverse Illustrations), Colorists Dave McCaig & Hi-Fi, Letterer Todd Klein
Grant Morrison’s epic Multiverse continues in this sixth part with this part story and part guidebook issue. The plot from DC is, he guidebook to the greatest adventure in DC’s history is here! With a detailed concordance featuring each of the 52 worlds in the Multiverse, a complete history of DC Comics’ universe-shattering “Crisis” events, a map of all known existence, AND an action-packed dual adventure starring Kamandi of Earth-51 alongside the post-apocalyptic Atomic Knight Batman of Earth-17 and chibi Batman of Earth-42, this 80-page mountain of MULTIVERSITY madness cannot be missed! The MULTIVERSITY GUIDEBOOK contains everything you ever wanted to know about DC’s parallel worlds and their super-heroic inhabitants. Meet the Agents of W.O.N.D.E.R. The Light Brigade, the Super-Americans and the Love Syndicate! Meet the Accelerated Man, Aquaflash, BiOmac and more! I am really enjoying Morrison’s take on the DC Universe and while he is mixing a lot of things together, one thing is for sure that this is very much grounded in the pre New 52 continuity which is the best thing about it. I won’t go on about the mess that the New 52 has mostly created but if you are only familiar with the New 52 you might want to see what you missed before it started. Morrison builds upon the previous books but again the issue does stand somewhat on its own at the same time. This issue continues the march of the Legion of the Sivanas trying to conquer the multiverse and the heroes of them trying to keep the universes from collapsing from the impending dangers. It was really nice to see him play in the Kirbyverse with Kamandi, Tuftan, Omac and The New Gods that look to play an important part in the upcoming story lines. The other fun part of the book is the breakdown of all 51 universes in the DC continuity that he has created. He keeps a lot of the known and embellishes on some of the other but he covers all the bases very impressively. Each of the earth’s have a different artist that draws the heroes of that earth and that was a real blast. The artwork on the main stories were fantastic. To handled the Batman section and Siqueira handles the Kamandi section of the book. To does a very nice job of the “cute” superheroes while at the same time of classic comic book art for the rest of the cast and it blends together beautifully. Siqueira wisely keeps his own style on the Kirbyverse but does not stray on the overall looks that Kirby defined the characters with. His part of the story has a great mood to the work and had great detail to it.
Is this book worth your time and money? I have been a huge fan of Morrison’s take on the Dc Universe and this issue does not disappoint. Mixing story with the guidebook is a genus idea and having different artist do each earth was a real visual feast. There is a lot going on in this installment but Morrison keeps every thing on the right path that makes this book very satisfying. This book continues the great roller coaster ride through the pre New 52 universe and it’s a ride that continues to thrill. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Casanova: Acedia #1
Image Comics Writers Matt Fraction/Michael Chabon, Artists Fabio Moon/Gabriel Ba, Colorist Cris Peter, Letterer Dustin K. Harbin
I have never read the previous Casanova books and with this new series I thought it might be a good jumping on point. The plot from Image is, Marooned in Los Angeles with no memory of his past, Casanova Quinn takes on the mystery of his criminal benefactor’s tangled and bloody history-as strange occult forces from the future conspire to… do stuff? To him? To Los Angeles? To you? YES. Sadly Fraction misses the opportunity for new readers to jump into the book. It’s not that you are totally going to be lost because the story is pretty straight forward but, you do feel as if you are coming into the middle of a story. I felt after reading the story that it was good but nothing amazing. It was well written and had some interesting story elements but it just didn’t really grab me and suck me into the story. On the flip side I did love Moon’s artwork on the story and was one of the main reasons that I wanted to try the book out. Moon’s work on the book is visually amazing and did help me get through the story better. The backup story by Chabon and Ba did work a bit better because it seemed to be the beginning of a story and so I felt a little less lost on this one. While the story was a little on the odd side it did show a lot of promise and could be really interesting. Ba’s artwork is beautiful and striking.
Is this book worth your time and money? I wanted to like this book but I felt as a new reader not well invited into this story. The backup story did a better job of working. I might give the book a second chance because it was certainly not a bad story but I just felt left out of what is going on.
Alex + Ada #12
Image Comics Writers Sarah Vaughn & Jonathan Luna, Artist/Colorist/Letterer Jonathan Luna
You already know that this is one of the best books being published now and this issue is a real game changer. Ada is discovered by Jacob who confronts her and Alex has to deal with the loss of his Grandmother and what to do with her unit with her wishes. This book continues to impress me because Vaughn and Luna continue to surprise me each and every issue with plot twist and infusing such great emotions into this amazing book. This is a book that I can’t wait to see where the journey will take us and to re read the whole thing again when it’s finished. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
Gotham Academy #4
DC Comics Writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, Artist Karl Kerschl, Colorists Msassyk & Serge LaPointe, Letterer Steve Wands
Gotham Academy continues the mystery adventures of finding out the secrets that have been long hidden in the academy. Cloonan and Fletcher continue to build on the story and while the book is a slow burn type of book that is what I am enjoying about it. It’s taking it’s time to unfold that is pretty rare in mainstream books today. Kerschl continues to grace the book with some of the best artwork in comics. One of my favorite things that he does so well is facial expressions that really bring the story and the characters to life in this book. This issue really has a great cliffhanger to it and really opens up to where the mystery might lead us to. RECOMMENDED!