Steel Cage #1
Ahoy Comics Writers Tom Peyer/Stuart Moore/Mark Waid, Artist Alan Robinson/Peter Gross/Lanna Souvanny, Colorists Lee Loughridge/Giulia Brusco, Letterer Rob Steen
Three will enter and only one will win in this intriguing project with three different stories by different creative teams in a bake off to see which one is the best. First up is True Identity by Peyer and Robinson that is a variation on the Superman story that has some decent ideas but never quite comes together in the end. The story never really differentiates itself from a standard superhero fair and that is why it ends up being so-so. I will give that Robinson does a nice job on the artwork but can’t really save the story with it. Second up is Hour Twelve by Moore and Gross that does a good job of being different and has some nice twists to the story. It reminded me a lot like a Twilight Zone type of story that has that twist in the story at the end and while that was interesting, I didn’t find myself compelled to want another chapter. Gross turns in some nice artwork here and gives the story some good emotions. The third and final story Noah Mark! By Waid and Souvanny is the best of the bunch mostly because Waid keeps it pretty simple here. On one level it works great as an all ages story but as with the other the thing is that I’m not totally sold on that if I want to read more stories about this. The story is very charming and lots of fun that is a big plus here and the artwork by Souvanny is really gorgeous and adds greatly to the overall feel and charm of this one.
Is this book worth your time and money? If I had to choose one of the stories to win it would be Noah Mark! by Waid and Souvanny because it simply worked the best of the three. The bigger question is would I buy it as a regular comic? Maybe but would the story hold up in a longer form and that is what plagues all three of these stories. I do like that Ahoy is giving them all a chance but I’m alway hesitant to leave a decision like this to the general public because the difference between popular and good are as far as the oceans. In the end the comic is worth at least checking out if it’s in your budget and you like the idea of this bake off.
Marilyn Manor #1
IDW Writer Magdalene Visaggio, Artist Marley Zarcone, Colorist Irma Kniivila, Letterer Jane Heir
This is one of those comics that has a good idea but never quite connected with me. Visaggio’s concept for the story of the President’s wild daughter be left alone in the White House and decides to throw a raging party has it’s moments but beyond the idea the actual story in this first issue never really goes anywhere. It sets up story points along the way but Marilyn ends up just being a spoiled rich brat that you really could care less about and that is where the story fails with this. I like Zarcone’s artwork and it really worked well for the Young Animal series Shade and she does her best here but with the lifeless story there is little that she is able to do here with it.
Is this book worth your time and money? It’s possible that Visaggio is going to go somewhere with this story but with this first issue there is very little compelling reason to come back for more. There is just no meat to the story and while there some good ideas here and there that alone is not enough to justify this one. SKIP IT!
Spider-Man Annual #1
Marvel Comics Writers Jason Latour, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Artists David Lafuente, Jason Latour, Colorists Rico Renzi/Jason Latour, Letterer Joe Caramangna
I was really hoping to have fun with this book but sadly the best story is buried by the lead one. The main story Boarded Again by Latour is sadly not funny and overly long. It’s one of those ideas that might have made a decent short story but ends up being dragged out to 24 pages of plodding story that is simply all over the place. With a Spider-Ham story should be light and fun but this is heavy handed and simply not very fun. He tries to make the story timely and silly but every joke fall flatter than a pancake. As you try to read it, the story just drones on and frankly all over the place from page to page and it’s simply a chore to read. I really feel bad for Lafuente because he actually gets the artwork fun part and tries his best to move things along but there is little that he can do with this terrible story. The only saving grace of this fiasco is the short story buy Miller and Lord that in six pages does so much more than the main story that makes this book ever more frustrating after you read this charmer of a story. I can see why they put it in the back so that you would simply stop reading the longer story after you have read a six page story that runs circles around it. Latour artwork is a charmer here and after reading this he should stick with doing the artwork and not attempt writing.
Is this book worth your time and money? At five bucks for a six page story is not only a disappointment but wondering who the heck thought that the first story was a good idea. SKIP IT!
Wolverine Exit Wounds #1
Marvel Comics Writers Larry Hama/Chris Claremont/Sam Keith, Artists Scot Eaton & Sean Parsons/Salvador Larroca/Sam Keith, Colorists Matt Milla/Ronda Pattison, Letterer Joe Sabino
This collection of short stories is more of a greatest hits package that is nice but there is not mush substance to it. The first story by Hama and Eaton is a short version retelling of the Weapon X story but doesn’t bring much new to it. Hama goes through the motions with the story and I had wished that he would have brought something new to it but sadly that is not the case here. Eaton and Parsons artwork is nice but kind of wasted in the end. The Claremont and Larroca story is an improvement here and is a nice Japan story that Claremont tells here and brings back the flavor of the old days of X-Men from the 1980’s that was nice to see here. Larroca does a good job of capturing both the culture and the emotions of the story and was a good read. The final story by Keith is pretty simple but the reason that I bough the book in the first place was because of him and he rarely draws mainstream much so to get a Keith Wolverine is nearly the price of admission here. The story is short and to the point and is simply pure Keith.
Is this book worth your time and money? It’s kind of like a greatest hits package but it doesn’t bring anything new to the characters and tends to retread old storylines. Five bucks is really pushing this one and while 2 out of 3 is not a bad ratio none of the stories are truly memorable and it’s pretty hard to recommend it very much.
Eve Stranger #2
Black Crown/IDW Writer David Barnett, Artist Philip Bond, Colorist Eva de la Cruz, Letterer Jane Heir
I was pleasantly surprised by the first issue of this comic and thankfully this second outing builds nicely on the story. I like how Barnett does a small recap at the beginning of the story to get you back up to speed. He does two things here that were really nice to see. First he reveals a bit more of the mysterious back story of Eve and how she came to be and why she has her memory reset every day. We also get to see some of the supporting cast and how it all fits into the overall puzzle of the story. I like the pace that Barnett is taking with this story how it has a great natural unfolding feel to it that is making for a very good read. Bond is the perfect artist for this book and I love how the artwork has a slightly cartoony style that adds greatly to the charm and subtle humor of the comic. The expression when Eve gets her Jetpack in this issue is truly priceless.
Is this book worth your time and money? This by far is one of the best Black Crown series so far and its getting better each issue. The story has a great mix of many elements and the artwork is spot on and makes this a comic that is well worth checking out. RECOMMENDED!
Dick Tracy Forever #3
IDW Writer & Artist Michael Avon Oeming, Colorist Taki Soma, Letterer Shawn Lee
I have been impressed with this version of Tracy by Oeming but this issue really knocked my socks off. Each issue is set in a different era of time but Oeming always makes sure that the characters do not stray from their original Chester Gould’s creations. What blew me away here is that he has set this story in the present day and yet Tracy doesn’t feel out of place or stuck in time but as fresh as if it were the 1930’s when it first started. Oeming script is full of action for sure but the reason why this story works so well is the emotional center that keeps it so grounded and real. You feel for the characters and why they make the decisions that they do in the story. The artwork on this issue is a thing of beauty in this issue. While the time maybe the present he still keeps that great noir look and feel with the shading and the use of zip a tone that adds greatly to this perfect artwork. Soma’s color work on this book has been really spot on and complements Oeming’s line work greatly.
Is this book worth your time and money? This comic just gets better and better and this is the best issue to date. Not only is this a great story with fantastic artwork, the cliffhanger for the final issue will simply blow your mind. Oeming has really captured something great here and is a truly must read comic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Road of Bones #2
IDW Writer Rich Douek, Artist & Colorist Alex Cormack, Letterer Justin Birch
I was quite intrigued with the first issue of this comic but this second issue was quite a big surprise. The issue is pretty much three men talking nearly the entire issue and yet that is what makes it so fascinating is that your totally sucked into the story the whole time. I have to give credit to Douek for delivering a story that is pretty much pure dialogue and made it compelling and an emotional reading experience. To have a great story is one thing but in a comic you need an artist that can bring a dialogue heavy story to life and Cormack brings the perfect art and color work to this story. The way that he portrays the subtle emotions of the story will draw you into this story and have you on the edge of your seat the entire issue. He handles both the small and large scope of the story with ease and makes this a very impressive comic.
Is this book worth your time and money? This comic is quite a surprise and while it’s a tough read with the subject matter, it will leave you thinking about it long after you have finished it. The only problem that I have is that I have to wait 30 days for the next issue. VERY RECOMMENDED!
Killer Groove #2
Aftershock Comics Writer Ollie Masters, Artist Eoin Marron, Colorist Jordie Bellaire, Letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
With a strong start to the first issue this second outing continues to impress me. Masters keep the pace of the story going great here with the unfolding of the two linear storylines that so far are separate but you can tell that they have a connection but your not quite sure how. While the tone of Jonny and Jackie are quite different they both have a similar underlying connection that helps them flow together very well here. Masters captures the emotions of the characters both on the surface and the underlying ones so well here that makes for a solid read and gives you reason to keep comic back. Marron’s artwork really captures the rawness of the violence and the deep emotions of the characters perfectly and that is where this comic really shines. It’s hard to pull off emotional dialogue scenes but Marron does it here with ease and when you add in Bellaire’s gorgeous color work you have the perfect visuals to match the story.
Is this book worth your time and money? I’m really digging this series and Masters and Marron are delivering a taught and suspenseful story here that is capturing the feel and emotions perfectly. There is a lot going on here and they have just started to scratch the surface of it all. RECOMMENDED!