A very big week for DC Comics with quite a few new #1 books and some returning ones that make this weeks review list.
Section 8: Six Pack & Dog Welder Hard Travelin’ Heroes #1
DC Comics Writer Garth Ennis, Artist Russ Braun, Colorist John Kalisz, Letterer Pat Brosseau
With the lack of readers for the DC You books I was very surprised and delighted that there was another Section 8 mini series announced and it is just as crazy insane as the last series. This new mini series takes place after the events of the last one, so if you have not read that one you might be a little lost with some of the background story elements but if not you shouldn’t be too lost. Section 8 has always been a tough book to review because it’s more like a lot of different elements all rolled up into one and it’s a little weird and disjointed but it always seems to work at least for me. The thing that I like about Ennis’s writing on this book is that no matter how weird and crazy the book gets you always have a soft spot for the team. He really has a way of liking them even when they are doing stupid shit. I also love how he has DC heroes stop into the bar and it always seems to work even when it shouldn’t. A lot of Ennis’s humor here is very broad but that is what makes good satire and he delivers it here in spades. Joining him this round as artist is Braun who collaborated on the recent Where Monsters Dwell at Marvel and brings a great style to the book. He brings a lot to this series with a balance of classic superhero art but captures the daft humor that Ennis’s script weaves. He also can capture both the realistic and the cartoony needs of the script perfectly. He is simply perfect for this book.
Is this book worth your time and money? There is no grey area that the Section 8 book are an acquired taste and is not for everyone. If you are looking for a book that is off the wall and overflowing with satire and even pokes fun at itself. Ennis delivers a wild story and this one he really expands the scope of this story. Braun is a great addition to the book and delivers artwork that really drives the book home very well in this first issue.
Wacky Raceland #3
DC Comics Writer Ken Pontac, Artist Leonardo Manco, Colorist Mariana Sanzone, Letterer Sal Cipriano
Wacky Raceland continues to be a surprising little gem of a book that has taken a very basic premiss and really expanded the scope and feel of the original animated series. Pontac continues to build the backstories of the characters while still delivering some great action. While this book seems to be the farthest from the animated series, that is where the charm of the book lies. He is really creating a world where there wasn’t one and is infusing the characters with such interesting backstories that is giving this book a very deep and satisfying story each issue. What is most impressive about this issue is the way that Pontac tells Penelope Pitstops back story from her childhood that was very unexpected but delivered such a great emotional impact to her story. He is also taking a slow burn approach to the reason that they are racing in this post apocalyptic world. Manco continues to impress with he amazingly detailed artwork for the book and this issues Penelope childhood drawings was simply brilliant. He is able to give each character such depth of emotion in the artwork that really brings this book visually to life that makes this such a well-rounded comic.
Is this book worth your time and money? Each issue of this book continues to surprise me with the scope and depth that Pontac and Manco bring to this book. The key to it working so well is that while on the surface seem really out there they keep the story grounded and give you a reason to care about the characters and that is why it’s working so well. I simply can not wait to see what they have in-store for the upcoming stories. VERY RECOMMENDED!
Kingsway West #1
Dark Horse Comics Writer Greg Pak, Artist Mirko Colak, Colorist Wil Quintana, Letterer Simon Bowland
Kingsway West is basically a spin on the Man with No Name story and then adds fantasy, horror and Civil War elements into a story that has promise but falls a bit short with this debut issue. Pak script has some good ideas here and the issue is a pleasant enough read but ultimately never quite takes off as well as I would have liked. I think the thing that bothered me was that I really didn’t feel much of a connection with either Sonia or Kingsway. The story seems to go through the motions but never is fully satisfying and the script is pretty basic. On the plus side Colak’s artwork is quite nice and made reading the book a more pleasant experience. He put a lot of detail into the artwork and while I wasn’t overwhelmed with the story he really helped move it along nicely from a visual point of view.
Is this book worth your time and money? While it’s not bad, for me it came off as kind of average. The story didn’t really feel fresh or new, just a rehash of basic story tropes that I have read far too often. Pak’s script never quite comes together in the end and while Colak’s art is very nice it can only do so much. SKIP IT!
Blue Beetle Rebirth #1
DC Comics Story Keith Giffen & Scott Kolins, Writer Keith Giffen, Artist Scott Kolins, Colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr., Letterer Josh Reed
I love the Ted Kord Blue Beetle but not so much the Jaime Reyes version but book is such a disappointment not because it’s really bad but is simply not satisfying. Giffen’s script is just way to by the numbers and predictable that there is no excitement while your reading it. The biggest issue is that the book feels like it was done in the 1990’s but has been dusted off and now being printed. It sadly doesn’t even work on a nostalgic level. The dialog feels forced and the script tries to be humorous but even that falls flat. On the plus side I did like Kolins art on the book and while I found the story not to my liking I did feel that Kolins made a good effort with the visual aspect of the book.
Is this book worth your time and money? I really wanted to like this book but it just didn’t work on a number of levels. One of the big failings is that it’s not very new reader friendly and that is a big problem. For fans of Ted Kord they are going to be very disappointed in the book and the Jaime Reyes version was not that well received back in the early 2000’s so this reboot is a bit mystifying. While it’s not the worst book I have read it simply just sits there while you are reading it. SKIP IT!
DC Comics Writer Christopher Priest, Penciler Carlo Pagulayan, Inker Jason Paz, Colorist Jeromy Cox, Letterer Willie Schubert
Picking up from the Rebirth issue #1 the story continues in this issue that while I’m a fan of the character I just never quite was able to get into the Priest’s story here. While I like some of the ideas that he presents in the script I felt that the story bounces around too much and was too disjointed while I was reading it. It felt undercooked at times and the flashbacks really took you out of the story. The problem with time shifts is that you have to be careful and not confuse the reader and this is where I think that Priest made a misstep on the book. The sad thing is that there are some good ideas here but with two issues that fail to deliver it’s hard to go on from here. Pagulayan and Paz’s artwork is nice but there are a number of panels that are lacking backgrounds that was disappointing but overall the artwork was pleasant.
Is this book worth your time and money? This book has a lot of potential but it’s gets off to a very shaky start that is going to lose a lot of readers including myself. There are a lot of good ideas here but unfortunately Priest’s script is just too disjointed to be satisfying in the end. SKIP IT.
Lake of Fire #1
Image Comics Writer Nathan Fairbairn, Artist Matt Smith, Colorist & Letterer Fairbairn
Lake of Fire is one of those books that has a basic story that you have read many times before and yet it was a fun little read. I have to give Fairbairn credit for the script that did his homework and made sure that the dialog sounds like the period that it takes place in. So many writer forget the subtle elements that can really add to the story to make it work but he does not. The story while basic and familiar does put a nice spin on it to make it feel new and fresh. The other win for the script is the characters are well done. He gives you enough to care about them and yet does not reveal all of the secrets of them quite yet. Smith really delivers on the artwork for the book with a style he gives it a nice epic feel but also delivers on the dramatic moments of the story with a simple yet detailed art that made it a fun little read. The only minor gripe is that there is a noticeable lack of backgrounds in the book that hopefully will improve as the book goes along. Not fatal but a little disappointing.
Is this book worth your time and money? This is one of those book that you might be hesitant to pick up as I was because on the surface flipping through the book it’s not flashy but once you sit down to read it you will be hooked on it like I was. This is the kind of book that aims for its target and nails it. It doesn’t try to be more than it needs to be and that is why it works so well. RECOMMENDED!
Wonder Woman #5
DC Comics Writer Greg Rucka, Artist Liam Sharp, Colorist Laura Martin, Letterer Jodi Wynne
For those keeping track this is part 3 of the present day storyline in the book that is running in the odd-numbered issues. Rucka continues to unfold this story at a very nice pace and while the story may not be super flashy on the surface but there is a lot of story development this issue. I love that he is taking his time to tell the story in a way that you don’t see that often in a big title like this. Most writers tend to over do superhero books because they think that is what readers want and it’s not. You want to care about the characters and the story not just a bunch of fighting and evil villains. Rucka gets this and has infused this book with a deep story and character development. Any good comic is only as good with the marriage of story with artwork and Sharp not only brings his scripts to life but in a way that demands that you take the time to savor the story and art. He makes you take your time visually to let the story seep into you while your reading it. A good artist draws you into the story with the artwork and Sharp delivers that and more here.
Is this book worth your time and money. Not only am I loving this book but while I am not a fan of the twice a month release of a number of DC Rebirth books Wonder Woman does it the right way. It’s delivering two distinctively different stories and yet they complement each other by being story driven. Rucka and Sharp have made Wonder Woman great again by delivering a well though out story that even with not a lot of super-heroic action in each issue are delivering a truly satisfying read each issue that keeps you coming back for more. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
DC Comics Writer Simon Oliver, Artist Moritat, Colorist Andre Szymanowicz, Letterer Sal Cipriano
The move of John Constantine from Vertigo to the DC Universe has been a disappointment so far and while this version is not bad it’s not quite got the impact that the character should have. I think that Oliver’s script has good ideas but ultimately is never that compelling. It’s a nice enough read but never really has the bite that you would expect from Constantine. He should be more of an asshole and that is the problem with the book is that it’s too safe. Oliver’s script is a by the numbers affair and there is no surprises or shocks that it need to have. Moritat’s artwork is an interesting here and he uses a bold line work with the art that gives the book a very interesting look that does work pretty well but can only do so much here with an average story.
Is this book worth your time and money? I have no problem with Constantine visiting the DC Universe or even being in a book like Justice League Dark but DC needs to give the regular book back to Vertigo as a solo title. It feels like a neutered version of the character that is just not working that well. The book is not bad but it sadly could be so much more. SKIP IT!