With the Holidays last week, I spent time with family and friends (and I hope you did too) and too a well needed break from both the regular 9 to 5 gig and the comic book reviews. So there is a little bit of both this week to catch up.
Image Comics Writers Lauren Keely & Jonathan Luna, Artist & Letterer Johnathan Luna
I have been a big fan of Luna’s recent series Alex + Ada and Eternal Empire so with his new comic there was a pretty high bar and I’m glad to say that its very impressive out of the gate with this first issue. While the story is fiction there is a lot of social commentary to this story and as in the previous series that really gives this story a nice edge and a good balance of the two. Luna is joined with Keely on this new series and they build a great story here that sets things up for the series but makes sure that there is a strong emotional core to the characters so that you are immediately invested in them. They do a nice job of unfolding the story at a nice pace that allows the exposition to not slow the story down and has a very nice cliffhanger that will have you wanting to come back for the next issue. As always Luna’s artwork really shines because he puts so much life into the characters that captures all of the big and subtle emotions of the story. This is the first time that he has done black and white work and he does a wonderful job on this one. The key to good black and white artwork is the shading that you give it and Luna does that perfectly here. It give the story a bit more gritty feeling than color would and that adds a great deal to the overall enjoyment to this one.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? This first issue really exceeding my expectations and gets off to a great start. With a solid and intriguing story that will hook you from page one and leave you wanting more makes this the real highlight of the week. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
The Butcher of Paris #1
Dark Horse Comics Writer Stephanie Phillips, Artist Dean Kotz, Colorist Jason Wordie, Letterer Troy Peteri
At first I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this first issue because there is a lot to take in with both the Nazi takeover of France and a serial killer of Jews that apparently is based on a true story. Phillips script had some pacing issues that made the story a bit disjointed at first but as the story comes together by the end of the issue it was a smoother read. There is a lot to take in here and I think that was part of the problem with keeping track of both the story and charters but being the first chapter of the story that will hopefully fit together as the story goes along. It’s not to say that this first issue is bad, its just that there is a lot to set up here and the exposition is quite dense here and that is what keeps the book from connecting at first. Kotz’s artwork has a gritty style that fits the story very well here and he does his best to help keep track of all of the characters and story elements that are densely packed into this first issue.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? This book shows a lot of promise but this first issue is a bit uneven and might be tough for some readers. On the plus side there is a good amount to like here but its going to take at least another issue to see where the story is going. I liked the ideas but just not totally sold on it with this first issue.
Image Comics Writer Rodney Barnes, Artist Jason Shawn Alexander, Colorist Luis Nct, Letterer Marshall Dillon
This is an interesting comic in that the story is a basic vampire story but I will give Barnes that he give the tired genre a nice spin that was pretty refreshing take here. The script is pretty dense here with exposition but it moves along pretty well for a first issue. The key for this book is going to be how Barnes handles the vampires and we get to see a glimpse of it at the end of this first issue. He does a nice job of introducing the characters and blends the present and the past together nicely here. He does a nice job of fleshing out the characters in this first issue with just enough mystery to make it interesting. The big win for this comic is Alexander’s artwork that is quite impressive and gives the book it dark visual punch that fits the mood perfectly. I also like how he went bold with the layouts for the book that gave the story a fresh look that helps it stand out in all of the right ways. Nct’s color work adds nicely to artwork and Dillon’s lettering adds the perfect finishing touch.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? While it’s too early to tell how this story is going to unfold there is a lot to like here with this first issue. Barnes gives the story room to breath and it unfolds at a nice pace but still leave a lot of mystery on the table for later. Alexander’s artwork on the book adds greatly to the tone of the story that was impressive. Overall I liked the comic but didn’t quite love it yet. The ground work is there and it’s going to be interesting to see where they take it after this first issue and well worth checking out.
John Constantine Hellblazer #1
DC Black Label Writer Simon Spurrier, Artist Aaron Campbell, Colorist Jordie Bellaire, Letterer Aditya Bidikar
Where do I start with this one? Well if you haven’t read the Hellblazer special that came out last month you’re probably be pretty lost reading this first issue. On the other hand I wasn’t that impressed with the story in that so in some ways you’re not missing much because I wasn’t that impressed with Spurrier’s story there and sadly this first issue didn’t improve my opinion. The story is not bad but the problem was that I felt it was not very compelling and at often times confusing. This becomes a problem for new readers because the story is the second part so this first issue suffers from that and Spurrier makes the mistake of assuming that the reader is familiar with the characters. Campbell does a nice job on the artwork here and is about the only thing that I found enjoyable when trying to slog through the story.
Is this comic worth you’re time and money? While Constantine has had many books published over the years this one really misses the mark with the story that has a few good ideas but never comes together enough for you to come back for a second issue. It’s not that this comic is bad just more disappointing than anything else. SKIP IT!
Basketful of Heads #2
DC Black Label/Hill House Comics Writer Joe Hill, Artist Leomacs, Colorist Dave Stewart, Letterer Deron Bennett
I was really impressed with the first issue of this comic and this second outing really seals the deal that the first issue was no fluke. Hill does a very nice job on building the story from the first issue and keep the tension high and it keeps you on the edge of your seat while you are reading it. There is a lot of questions to the mysteries of the story in this issue and we finally get to see why it’s called Basketful of Heads and it really opens up what could happen in the story. Hill does a great job of not only building the story but adds some great dark humor and a nice twist at the end of the issue. The thing that is really making this comic work is the great artwork by Leomacs that is simply brilliant. His style is perfect because of the retro look of artist from the 1960’s and 1970’s fits Hill’s story like a glove and gives it the visual unnerving look and feel that adds so much to why this comic is so good. The other impressive thing is that the visuals don’t use cheap horror tropes like buckets of blood to compensate for a weak story or artwork, and instead use good old fashion creepy horror to make this book both scary and fun at the same time.
Is this comic worth your time and money? I liked this comic with the first issue but I have really fallen in love with it in this second outing. Hill is delivering an impressive horror story and when you add in Leomacs gorgeous artwork it simply is one of the best horror comics to come along in quite a while. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter #2
Dark Horse Comics Writer David Dastmalchian, Artist Lukas Ketner, Colorist Lauren Affe, Letterer Frank Cvetkovic
While Basketful of Head is a straight forward horror comic, Count Crowley is the opposite but adds a lot more dark humor to the mix. While the first issue set things up well this second issue really hits the ground running. Dastmalchian blend horror and comedy in the perfect mix for the script. What is making this so much fun is that Jerri is such a great character that you can totally relate to in that she is a real mess and just trying to keep her head above the water and at the same time trying to fend off the Wolfman. While Most of us don’t have the Wolfman issue in our lives the trying to keep your shit together is totally relatable and the fact that she is far from perfect makes her so relatable and really adds greatly to the story. I also was impressed with the unfolding mystery that is happening in the story that is adding greatly to the flow of the story. Ketner’s artwork has a great cartoony quality that captures not only the dark humor of the script but also the spot on facial expressions of the characters especially Jerri and her I don’t give two shits about most everything. He also puts a lot of detail into the backgrounds that really add to the look and feel of this comic.
Is this comic worth your time and money? This comic has been quite the little surprise and has been a real blast to read. Dastmalchian keeps the story moving along nicely and Ketner brings it home with the spot on artwork. This is a great oddball comic that you should be reading. VERY RECOMMENDED!