Thankfully things are getting back on track with the old schedule here at Pop Culture Maven. This week is a mix of new number one issues and some continuing books make a return appearance to the review list. So onwards to this weeks comics.
Thomas Alsop #1
Boom! Studios Writer Chris Miskiewicz, Artist Palle Schmidt, Letterer Deron Bennett
Boom! Studios is really pushing original creator owned books now and this week brings us Thomas Alsop #1. The plot from Boom is, Thomas Alsop is the current “Hand of the Island,” a title handed down from generation to generation. He guards Manhattan from evil, using his family’s prowess for magic. Being a thoroughly modern warlock, he deals with something even more evil than demons… reality television! Lets get the obvious thing out-of-the-way and on the surface there is a lot of John Constantine in this idea. And while I won’t disagree with that I do think that the first issue does a good job of setting the series up. Miskiewicz covers a lot of ground with the story in the first issue. There is a lot of exposition going on here but I never felt board reading the issue. Miskiewicz bounces in time but thankfully it was never confusing to the reader as to what was going on. In fact most of the story takes place in 1702 that explains how Alsop got his powers and how the past it tying into the present. I was very impressed with Schmidt’s artwork on the book. The first thing that struck me about it was his great use of color on the book. He wisely kept the color palette pretty much black and white and used color to highlight a character or event in the story. It’s always hard for an artist to work on a story that has a lot of dialog going on and Schmidt handles it quite effectively and helps keep the reader visually on point with it.
Is this book worth your time and money? For a first issue I was pretty impressed by the book. Once you get past the comparisons the book does stand on its own and sets up the story arc nicely. The key is going to be keeping the momentum into future issues. I really like the flashback to Alsop’s ancestors and hope that the story continues to do that. Good story with really nice artwork made this a good read this week. It’s a good start to the book and worth picking up this week.
Justice League United #2
DC Comics Writer Jeff Lemire, Penciller Mike McKone, Inker Dexter Vines, Cam Smith and Mike McKone, Colorist Marcelo Maiolo, Letterer Travis Lanham
I liked the first issue of the book (#0) but the second issue really fell flat for me. Is the third issue an improvement? The plot from DC is, It’s all out battle issue as Hawkman has a showdown with Lobo as the League is teleported to Rann to face the shape-changing alien called Byth! This looks like a job for Supergirl! This issue was a little better than last issue but it pretty much had some of the same problems that the previous issue had. Lemire’s story is really bogged down by dialog and exposition. Even during the fighting the characters are constantly talking. The story just seems to be dragging along a bit. It’s not boring but it seems as if by the third part of the story we should be getting on with it. Lemire has written much better stories but this book seems to be over cooked. McKone, Vines and Smith do a decent job on the art. It does seem as if the inkers make the art a little inconsistent compared to the previous McKone solo art issues #0 & #1. Still the art is nice and help the story along as best they can.
Is this book worth your time and money? I really want to like this book but it just seems to be over stuffed with story and while it’s not boring it really seems to be sagging and by this issue should have really felt like it was going somewhere. It just seem too boring and not going anywhere. McKone and company try to visually keep the story moving along. I will give it two more issue to finish out the current story arc but they are really going to have to pull something out their collective asses to keep me picking up this book. While not terrible it has really slid into a sadly average book at best.
Daredevil #3 & 4
Marvel Comics Writer Mark Waid, Artist Chris Samnee, Colorist Javier Rodriguez, Letterer Joe Caramagna Waid and Samnee bring their first storyline to a close and do a very nice job of it. The plot for issue #3 is, The Owl is back! But old enemies aren’t nearly as much of a problem for Matt Murdock as his new friend: The Shroud. Kirsten and Matt are sharing a very volatile secret — who’ll be the first to crack? And the plot for issue #4 is, The Owl is back! But he’s not working alone! Watch as the Daredevil team permanently redefines one of DD’s oldest enemies deadlier than ever! Plus–whatever happened to Foggy Nelson? Waid still knows how to tell a good old fashion superhero story that is sadly missing from the big two now days. I have been a big fan of Waid and Samnee’s previous run on Daredevil and this new book has hit the ground running. By moving Daredevil from New York to San Fransisco Waid has added the element of the fish out of water scenario and has been a real breath of fresh air to the stories. It was also great that he brought the Owl back to the book and made him a really good villain. What can I say about Samnee that myself and everyone else hasn’t already said. His art brings Waid’s stories to life that he is quite possibly the best Daredevil artist next to Gene Colan. His style gives the book a look that on the surface may look simple but is filled with so much detail.
Is this book worth your time and money? Waid and Samnee pull off a nearly perfect superhero book that is being publish by Marvel now. While the book is fun it certainly does not lack the bite at the same time. Most superhero books have become too dark for their own good. This book proves that you simply need to tell a great story with fantastic art. This is what a superhero book could and should be. VERY RECOMMENDED!
Star Trek City on the Edge of Forever #1
IDW Original Teleplay Harlan Ellison, Adapted by Scott Tipton & David Tipton, Artist J.K. Woodward, Letterer Neill Uyetake
The story of Harlan Ellison’s cut down teleplay of the classic Star Trek episode City on the Edge of Forever has been well documented and the teleplay has previously been published. IDW with the cooperation of both Ellison and CBS television is adapting the teleplay into a five issue series. The plot from IDW is, For the first time, a visual presentation of the much-discussed, unrevised, unadulterated version of Harlan Ellison’s award-winning Star Trek teleplay script, “The City on the Edge of Forever!” This Hugo- and Writer’s Guild of America Award-winning teleplay has been much discussed for decades but only here can you see the story as Mr. Ellison originally intended! This is probably one of the best known episodes from the original series and to see the original story visually brought to life for the first time is really breathtaking. Scott and David Tipton have made sure that every part of the original teleplay is in the series and after reading the first issue you will understand why the show was unable to adapt the story. The budget would have been blown in the first shot of the city and the guardians. They have stayed true to the story but have nicely adapted it to the comics medium that has an unlimited budget and they obviously plan on using it. The real joy of this book is Woodward’s art. Usually books like this get a so-so artist that is used because they are cheap and quick. Woodward is not one of those. He paints the art and captures the original cast perfectly. This is no easy task and I doubt that any other artist would do it as well as he is. He captures the scope of the story and surpasses anything that the original show could ever dream of doing. He also does an amazing job on the simple dialog scenes that are just as important. He also make sure that it still feels like the original show at the same time. This is probably one of the best looking Star Trek comics ever produced. Below is one of the pages from the issue.
Is this book worth your time and money? The term Shut Up and take my money comes to mind. This is quite possibly one of the best comic based on another medium that I have ever read. It doesn’t hurt that you’re adapting probably one of the greatest teleplays ever written and bringing it to life as a comic. Getting Woodward to do the art on the book is a once in a lifetime Kismet moments that rarely happen in comics. If you are an original series Star Trek fan or a casual Star Trek fan this is the must have book. The only gripe that I have with it is that I’m going to have to wait four more months to finish the story. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
The Wicked + The Divine #1
Image Comics Writer Kieron Gillen, Artist Jamie McKelvie, Colorist Matthew Wilson, Letterer Clayton Cowles
This is one of those comics that really catches you off guard. And in this case it’s a good thing. The plot from Image is,Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critically thermonuclear floor-fillers Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to start a new ongoing superhero fantasy with a beautiful oversized issue. Welcome to THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, where gods are the ultimate pop stars. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. I had not read Gillen and McKelvie’s previous work so going in with a fresh start, and what a start it is. This book really hit the ground running. The script by Kieron is really tight for a first issue. He gives just enough to the reader to get going but keeps a lot of mystery saved up for the future. Using Laura to bring the reader into the world of the immortals was a smart move. She is like us in that she sort of knows about them but we are learning at the same time as she is, a little lost with the bigger picture but along for the ride. McKelvie’s art is just stunning and was very impressed with the way that he captures the characters facial expression that is the key to the story working so well. He also did a nice job with the action scenes in the issue. His use of the 8 panel layouts mixed with changing as the scenes needed really gave a great visual flow to the story. The coloring by Wilson really complemented McKelvie’s artwork and gave the book a real richness that is missing from a lot of comics these days.
Is this book worth your time and money? Not only is this book a great read with fantastic artwork and it’s an extra sized first issue that is a steal at the $3.50 cover price. If you are lucky enough to get the Brian Lee O’Malley variant cover that is a great added bonus to the deal. This is a really strong first issue and sets up the story very well for the series. There is a lot that is going on but you never feel lost because you are intrigued with where Gillen is taking the story. Add in McKelvie’s stunning art and you have a series that is going to be one to watch this year. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Image Comics Writer Mark Millar, Artist Duncan Fegredo, Colorist Peter Doherty and Mike Spicer, Letterer Peter Doherty
The first issue of MPH didn’t bowl me over so a lot is riding on this second issue. The plot from Image is,A good guy dealt a tough hand, Roscoe’s found the perfect Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card in the form of super-speed pills called MPH. Now that he knows who put him away, he’ll find that revenge is a dish best served…lightning fast! I will give the second issues story by Millar did pick up the pace from the first issue. I still felt that the script still has an all too familiar story going on. While seeing the three kids getting their MPH on overall it didn’t really reveal much new to the story. I will give Fegredo that he did visually really made the story quite fun to look at. There was a lot of great moments when the kids are playing with their super speed and Fegredo captured it very well.
Is this book worth your time and money? While the second issue was more fun than issue one, it just didn’t get me interested to keep going with the story. The story is pretty basic and while not terrible there are just much better books out there to spend your money on. I will say that visually this issue was very nice eye candy but in the end it’s not enough to save the book from falling off the pull pile.
Alex + Ada #7
Image Comics Written by Jonathan Luna and Sara Vaughn, Artist, Colorist and Letterer Jonathan Luna
There has been only one book that since I started to review comics on the site that has made the list every issue. Alex + Ada is that book. The plot from Image is, As an android, Ada struggles with keeping a low profile. Alex takes a risk to help her. This issue is a real turning point in the story. Alex and Ada take the first step in seeing if Ada can fit in to the world now that she is sentient. This issue is just past the half way point of the twelve issue series and the twist at the end of the issue will definitely change where the story is going to go. Vaughn and Luna story in this issue starts the new journey with Alex and Ada. The way that they have Ada pretending to still be a regular android is very amusing. Having Alex’s grandmother figure out what he has done to Ada is really a wonderful amusing scene in the issue. Luna again delivers the perfect artwork that make the book work so well. This book is all about emotions and Luna does it so effortlessly.
Is this book worth your time and money? I have been praising this book from day one and it just keeps getting better each issue. The pacing of the series is very impressive and continues to emotionally move me every single issue. The story and the art are just perfect and this is the must read book every month. Other comics wished that they could be this good. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
Silver Surfer #3
Marvel Comics Writers Dan Slott and Michael Allred, Artist Michael Allred, Colorist Laura Allred, Letterer Clayton Cowles
The first issue of this book got off to a bumpy start but came back to life in the second issue. The plot from Marvel is, Any old heroes can save the day. The Surfer and Dawn are out to save the day AFTER. As everything goes kablooey, find out why the fate of every possible tomorrow rests… in a wind-up toy monkey. No. Really. One of those creepy things with the cymbals. Also, after 48 years in comics, one of the most under appreciated characters in the entire Marvel Universe FINALLY gets a name. Have your handbooks ready! Thankfully the fun that was missing in the first issue but got back on track for the second issue continues in the third outing. Slott and Allred tell a grand scale story but make sure that it still has fun elements to it. Now that is not to say that the story is silly but you can still have fun with a serious story. That is where the sweet spot of the book will hopefully stay with. Dawn has really come into her own in the story and looks to be a good companion for the Silver Surfer. Allred’s artwork is the real draw of the book and continues to do a fantastic job with it. I can’t think of another artist that could do this book any better.
Is this book worth your time and money? As long as Slott and Allred keep the fun factor in the book this is going to be a really fun ride of a book. The idea of the Silver Surfer having a sidekick is really interesting and I am looking forward to seeing where the next few issues will go. Overall the first storyline was very nice once it got going. It’s well worth keeping on the pull list for the foreseeable future.
Harley Quinn #7
DC Comics Writers Amanda Conners & Jimmy Palmiotti, Artist Chad Harden, Colorist Alex Sinclair & Paul Mounts, Letterer John J. Hill
Yea Hooker Harley bad taste is finally washed away. The plot from DC is,Welcome to Ladies’ Night, where Harley gets her butt kicked by Big Bertha Bensonhurts at the roller derby, starts a massive bar fight and teams up with Poison Ivy to find out who hired all those pesky assassins! Harley and Ivey are back and I for one couldn’t be happier. Conner and Palmiotti story continues to bring back the Harley that we all knew and loved and get the tone of the book right. There is one part of the story that seemed to go overboard with the violence but leave it to Conners and Palmiotti to put a sick and twisted laugh into it. They are having fun with the book and this issue is no exception. They know what is working and they have delivered it in every issue. Harden’s artwork continues to impress me. He is perfectly capturing both the silly aspects and the action quite well.
Is this book worth your time and money? The only gripe that I have is that I really wish that they could get rid of the truly awful hooker outfit that DC thinks make Harley “edgy” and let her just have her classic outfit back. Conner and Palmiotti continue to bring us one of the few book that DC is putting out now. The stories are solid and fun and add in really fantastic artwork and it all adds up to a winning book. Now if we could get Conner and Palmiotti to write more books over at DC that would be awesome. It well worth the $2.99 cover price.
Vertigo Comics Writer Bill Willingham, Penciler Mark Buckingham, Inkers Steve Leialoha and Andrew Pepoy, Colorist Lee Loughridge, Letter Todd Klein
For 12 years Fables has been one of the best quality comics for every issue. Well sadly all good things must come to an end and this issue marks the last Fables storyline. The plot from Vertigo is,“HAPPILY EVER AFTER!” part 1. Good knight vs. bad knight. King Arthur vs. Morgan le Fay. Rose Red vs. Snow White. The two sisters are caught up in the roles Camelot has set for them, and now they’re ready for battle. There have been lots of great stories over the years with Fables and after reading this first part of the ten part story it looks as if Willingham is taking the book out with a bang. He has set up a struggle for the survival of Fabletown itself and with Willingham at the wheel there is no way of telling what will happen when the dust settles. This issue is a set up to the last story has a lot going on and there is a lot to take in on this story. Buckingham, Leialoha and Pepoy are bringing their A game to this last hurrah and they make this issue look as good as they have been doing for the last 12 years, Perfect.
Is this book worth your time and money? Fables has been one of the best books over the years but one that does the rare feat of being worth every penny for every issue ever published. This issue is no exception. While this last story arc is not the best for new readers it’s going to be a hell of a ride for those of us that have been there from the start. Comic rarely stay this good for this long. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!