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New Comic Book Reviews Week of 5/8/19

New Comic Book Reviews Week of 5/8/19

Batman and the Outsiders #1

DC Comics Writer Bryan Hill, Artist Dexter Soy, Colorist Veronica Gandini, Letterer Clayton Cowles

I’m old enough to remember back in 1983 when it first started and was a great comic by Mike Barr and Jim Aparo (and later Alan Davis) that mixed both old and new characters together with Batman and made for a really good comic back in the day. There have been many revivals of the book in different forms over the years sometimes with or without Batman but none have ever really captured the magic and charm of the original run and sadly this new take doesn’t really get very exciting either. Hill script while competent, doesn’t really bring much new or fresh to the superhero team genre here. This first issue is a pretty by the numbers affair with the typical angst and drama that falls pretty flat and ends up just making the characters unlikable. There is also the issue of the baggage that the book is straddled with that doesn’t help first time readers much. Soy does a nice job on the artwork on the book but it sadly doesn’t really stand out beyond standard superhero fare. It’s not to say that his artwork is bad but based on this first issue, he doesn’t make his artwork stand out either but it gets the job done well within those parameters.

Is this book worth your time and money? With so many superhero books out there from DC alone this book doesn’t really stand out from the crowd and that is where is falls flat. Hill’s story isn’t compelling enough to come back for a second issue let alone go beyond the average here. Soy’s art while nice doesn’t add much to the overall delivery of this flat and by the numbers book. There are much better comics out there than this. SKIP IT!

Excellence #1

Image Comics Writer Brandon Thomas, Artist Khary Randolph, Colorist Emilio Lopez, Letterer Deron Bennett

At this point in the game any story based around magic needs to really stand out and not be just another Harry Potter clone because we are still seeing and reading the fallout from that. Thankfully Thomas has taken a different route here with this book and gets it off to a intriguing  start to this series. The one nice thing about this first issue is that while its exposition heavy, the story never seems to drag too badly. While a good amount of the story is familiar Thomas give it a good spin here to try and give it a fresh coat of paint to help it feel more original there were a few times where things got a bit cliche but overall that was not fatal. He sets up the characters quite nicely here and gives you a strong connection to them that is impressive for a first issue. One of the big wins for the comic is Randolph’s artwork that does a very nice job of capturing the emotional drama of the story. The majority of this first issue is drama and that can be difficult to pull off in the artwork but Randolph does it really well and captures all of the subtle emotions that is one of the big reasons that this first issue works so well. 

Is this book worth your time and money? There is a lot to like here and it shows a lot of promise but the key is going to be the next few issues to see where Thomas takes the story. The angry youth story has been pretty played out in comics so I hope that he is able to bring something different to that story. I did like how he played out the magic and while it was an important element to the story he made sure to ground the characters first and foremost. When you throw in the strong artwork of Randolph this book has much more good than bad. I like what they started here and hope they can keep it up. RECOMMENDED!

Eve Stranger #1

Black Crown/IDW Writer David Barnett, Artist Philip Bond, Colorist Eva De La Cruz, Letterer Jane Heir, Back-Up story Artist Liz Prince

I really wanted to like the Black Crown comics but they have been somewhat disappointing so far beyond House Amok that I enjoyed but was still a bit on the mixed side and Assassinistas was fun but overall more misses than hits but they finally may have found a title that might just be there first big win. Barnett also wrote Punks Not Dead and while I found the premise good it left me a bit cold after a few issues but, here with Eve Stranger he really hits the ground running right out of the gate. While the plot is not original he gives it a fresh spin here and I think that the main reason he pulls it off is that you really become fond of Eve and it helps you forget that you have read this type of story a million times. What really seals the deal with this book is the gorgeous artwork by Bond who really kicks this comic into high gear. He is able to bring a charm to the action and violence to it that gives it a great sense of dark humor that complements Barnett’s script. The only real complaint that I have is that the main story is only 16 pages long and just as your getting started it ends and that was very disappointing. While it was nice to fill the issue out with a fun little back up story with very charming artwork by Prince that was only 4 pages so it was a total of 20 pages of story and art that was very underwhelming once your at the end of this first issue. 

Is this comic worth your time and money? The tradeoff here is quality over quantity but even then the book feel just a bit to skimpy for four bucks. I really did like the book but it was over way too quickly and while I do want more, I’ll be really honest that I might just wait for the trade so that I can read it all at once and that is disappointing. Rarely do I feel that a comic was not satisfying compared to the cover price but I did feel that here. But the other part of me really did enjoy what I did get here so ultimately the choice is yours to buy this story as very short main story each issue or wait till it’s a trade collection of the whole thing. Setting that question aside from a quality of story and artwork the book is a real win and gets a RECOMMENDATION on that level. 

Red Sonja and Vampirella Meet Betty and Veronica #1

Dynamite/Archie Comics Writer Amy Chu, Artist Maria Sanpo, Colorist Vinicius Andrade, Letterer Taylor Esposito 

At this point I’m not sure that there are not any characters that the Archie gang has not crossed over with. So now we have a double header of Red Sonja and Vampirella going to Riverdale to solve a mystery. So think of this as a Scooby-Doo Team-Up story and you get the general idea. Chu does a good job of fitting Sonja and Vampirella into the Archie universe and wisely keeps thing simple for both new and long time readers. As with all of these crossovers the key is do the individual characters Chu has done a very nice job here of not only making sure that they all feel like themselves but comes up with fun scenes with them in the Archie universe. While the story maybe simple it has a lot of charm that makes this book so far a fun read. Sanpo’s artwork is good but there were a few inconsistent issues here and there but thankfully they do not hurt the book in the long run. It’s mostly in longer shots and smaller panels where the detail is a bit lacking but considering that most of the artwork is way above average for a Dynamite comic that I was more than willing to not nit pick about it. The one thing that she does very well is the facial expressions.

Is this book worth your time and money? Simply put there is no deep meaning in a book like this. Your looking for two things here. One, is the book fun and on that level it’s a big win. Two, do the characters feel like they all gel together and Chu delivers the goods on that one. I honesty wasn’t expecting much from this book and I was pleasantly surprised. RECOMMENDED!

Jungle Comics #1

Antarctic Press Writer Chuck Dixon, Artist Kelsey Shannon, Letterer Brian Denham, Backup story Writer & Artist Ben Dunn, Colorist Dunn and Nick Webb

This book appears to be a Indigogo project that has been picked up by Antarctic and features long time comic writer Dixon doing his version of Tarzan and sadly is pretty disappointing. While the story is not bad, its pretty obvious that this is a poor man’s version of Tarzan and there is very little weight to the story. Dixon “story” consists of mostly action but with little drama and the characters give you little reason to care because there is pretty much zero character development here. The story goes through the motions but by the end there is very little to care about what you just read. The only thing that the book really had going for it is the nice artwork by Shannon that does his best to help the book along and the artwork is the real highpoint here and that is pretty much it. There is a backup story by Dunn that is a poor Sheena rip off that is a poor story and weak artwork that adds nothing to this already mediocre book.

Is this book worth your time and money? The good news is that if you did accidentally pick this book up this week then congratulations you saved your self four buck over the Indigogo campaign that may or may not have gotten to you before this landed in comic shops this week. The bad news is that you bought this mediocre comic that has a poor story and a terrible ending that is so bad its not even worth spoiling. It’s a real shame because Dixon has been a goo writer in the past but this is far from his heyday and if your a fan of pulp style comics then your going to be sorely disappointed in this mess that is more of an insult than homage. SKIP IT!

Metalshark Bro #1

Scout Comics Writers Bob Frantz and Kevin Cuffe, Artist Walter Ostlie, Letterer Chas! Pangburn

Scout comics is doing this experiment of releasing the first issue of a series then a few months later releasing a trade of the full story and skipping the rest of the single issues. As far as this actually working as a theory I’m not sure. Taking this comic on just this first issue I can honestly say that it’s unlikely that I would buy the trade when it comes out. It’s not to say that this book is terrible but it ends up just being OK. As with the title it’s a real Brofest here and Frantz and Cuffe capture all of that charm so to speak very well here. The overall story is decent but doesn’t really bring much beyond the basic structure of an average superhero comic story. It was a pleasant read but there just wasn’t enough going for it to stand out from the already overcrowded comic shelves. The one thing that was a surprise was Ostile’s artwork that was pretty impressive for such a smaller publisher. While there were a few rough edges overall it was quite nice throughout. The only complaint was some of his color choices were a bit off and overdone but nothing that becomes too distracting. 

Is this book worth your time and money? While I’m not sold on Scouts “binge’ reading idea it may work for some people but while it’s great that you get to read the first chapter of the story the downside is that if you actually liked the book your going to have to spend another 12 bucks to finish the story and for this book it was pretty average at 4 bucks but not as a total of 16 bucks that it will ultimately set you back because remember your paying for the first issue twice that most people are not going to think about. With that out of the way I just don’t think that this book is strong enough for that price point. There are much better comics that you could be spending your money on. SKIP IT!