With SDCC last week the whole comic reviews when to hell and a hand basket so this week I will try to catch up with books for both last week and this week.
Vertigo Comics Writer Si Spencer, Artists 2014 Meghan Hetrick, 1890 Dean Ormston, 2050 Tula Lotay, 1940 Phil Winslade, Colorist Lee Loughridge, Letterer Dezi Sienty & Taylor Esposito
I have read a lot of comics over the years and this has to be one of the most high concept ideas that I have ever seen. The plot from Vertigo is, VERTIGO brings you the miniseries of the summer, with four detectives, four-time periods, and four dead bodies – all set in London. Edmond Hillinghead is an 1890s overachiever who’s trying to solve a murder no one cares about while hiding his own secret. Karl Whiteman is our dashing 1940s adventurer with a shocking past. Shahara Hasan is 2014’s kickass female Detective Sergeant, who walks the line between religion and power. And Maplewood, an amnesiac from post-apocalyptic 2050, brings a haunting perspective to it all. Si Spencer (HELLBLAZER: CITY OF DEMONS, THE VINYL UNDERGROUND) executes a centuries-spanning murder mystery like nothing you’ve ever seen before, with four sensational artists illustrating a six-page chapter in each issue. This is one of those books that has a lot of story to get through in the first issue that you might have to go back a re-read it to make sure that you didn’t miss anything. Spencer has really packed the story in the first issue and it will keep you off-balance a bit. But that is a good thing. The story set up in very intriguing using the same body but in different eras is really quite ingenious. There are a lot of questions that you will ask yourself after reading the first issue. There are also a lot of clues that will very obviously fit the puzzle of the story as it goes along. Spencer does a great job of keeping the story (stories) tight and focused. It was a very wise choice to have four different artists for each time period that really helps the reader stay focused on the story instead of wondering what time period that they are in that would have unraveled the story. Each artist brings their own style to the time period.
Is this book worth your time and money? This is a really great idea that starts off very well. Make sure that when you read it to take your time with the book. There is a lot going on in each time period and you want to make sure that you do no miss anything. This book is not going to be for everyone but if you are looking for a book with some bite to it then make sure that you pick this one up this week. This book is off to a solid start. RECOMMENDED!
IDW Writer & Artist Walter Simonson Colorist Laura Martin, Letterer John Workman
Walt Simonson is back and taking another crack at mythology with this new series. The plot from IDW is, Ragnarök…the Twilight of the Gods in Norse mythology…the destruction of the Nine Worlds. And now, three hundred years later, the birth of vengeance.
Walter Simonson returns to comics in a BIG way with an all-new series… and doing what he does best!! My wife and my children are dead. My brothers and sisters are dead. My parents are dead. The Great Enemies still live. But I swear on the shattered bones of my kinsmen… they will not live forever. I shall become… the storm. Walter Simonson is one of the most acclaimed and respected creators in comics. He has done defining runs on Thor, Manhunter, Star Slammers, Elric, Orion and more. Now, in his first creator-owned series in 20 years, he brings his tremendous artistic arsenal to a brand new world… the twilit world of Ragnarök! This first issue is a set up story so make sure that you keep this in mind when you read it. The thing that I love about Simonson is that he really lets the story breath. A lot of writers feel that they need to either tell you too much or too little in the first issue. Simonson tells epic mythology stories and this one looks to be another solid book. This is more of an old school type of story telling that doesn’t even introduce the main character in the first issue for the most part, but it’s really a bold and epic tale that if you’re a fan of Simonson then this is the book for you. Simonson is really bringing his A game to the artwork. This is the art of a master storyteller and he does not disappoint.
Is this book worth your time and money? It’s been far too long that Simonson has done a regular series and Ragnarök is just the cure. It’s a bold and in your face epic story that will unfold at a nice pace and keep you wanting more. There are so few creators that can pull off this type of storytelling and Simonson is one of the best. A solid start to the story and breathtaking artwork that makes this book a must read for fans of fantasy and mythology. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Life With Archie #36 & 37
Archie Comics Writer Paul Kupperberg, (Issue #36) Pencilers Pat & Tim Kennedy, Inker Jim Amash, (Issue #37) Pencilers Fernando Ruiz, Pat & Tim Kennedy, Inkers Bob Smith & Gary Martin, Colorist Glenn Whitmore, Letterer Jack Morelli
This is the story that everyone is talking about and along with 10 covers by some of the best artist in the business is making this a sellout everywhere. The plot from Archie is, History is in the making in this epic finale to the acclaimed series LIFE WITH ARCHIE, as America’s most beloved character makes the ultimate sacrifice to save a friend. The unthinkable happens: Archie Andrews dies! Fans will experience an epic tale of Archie’s future sure to make headlines, generate discussion and stand as one of the most-talked about Archie stories of all time. Do not miss this game-changing tale of love, friendship and true heroism. First off in issue #36 you can skip the whole two page “previously in Life With Archie” because the previous stories have nothing to do with this final story. The only thing that you need to know is that the whole point of Life With Archie book is that it’s was a What If? book. Issue #36 tells the story of what Archie’s life is possibly going to be like and the choices that he might have made along the way. At the end of the issue he selflessly jumps to stop the assassination of Kevin and his other friends. Issue #37 takes place one year later and shows the impact that Archie had on his friends and community. Overall the story is pretty good but unfortunately never quite goes beyond the gimmick of the idea. While I never have read this title before I can kind of see why it never sold that well. The idea of telling what if type stories tend to work well as a one or two issue story. When you continuously try to do it tends to fall into the who cares area. The recap is issue #36 is so boring that it’s no wonder that Archie decided to cancel the book. Issue #37 does work a little better because of the focus of why the friends of Archie loved him so much and they remember all of the good things about him. Kupperberg does a good job on both issues stories and they work well together. I will say that the story does drag a little in issue #36 and it makes you wonder if the story was dragged out into two issue for sales over story. The artwork is standard Archie fare. There are a few times in issue #36 that Pat and Tim use some strange panel angles for no apparent reason that are strange and disrupt the flow of the story a bit.
Are these books worth your time and money? Of the two issues I think that the one year later story in issue #37 does work a little better. Issue #36 seems a little more padded out but overall the books are worth reading. The hype going into the story was why a lot of people are interested in the book. In the long run if it get people to read the excellent Afterlife with Archie book then there plan worked. I will say that it’s nice to see people talking about Archie and their wiliness to take chances with the characters.
Cartoon Books Written and Drawn by Jeff Smith, Colorist Tom Gaadt
This is Smith’s first full color comic and it gets off to a solid start. The plot from Cartoon Books is, Jeff Smith returns to humor and adventure with the first issue of Tüki, a new series about a stone age wanderer who just wants to be left alone as he attempts to escape the dangers of the ancient savannas, and be the first human being to leave Africa. Nearly two million years ago, a great ice age gripped the earth, trapping all moisture in the polar ice caps, causing drought and upheaval in the rest of the world. Vast tropical jungles gave way to dusty grasslands, and all living creatures struggled to survive, including the many species of hominids. To avoid extinction, something had to be done. This is the story of Tüki, the first human to leave Africa. Smith is going back to his adventure root with this story. While on the surface the story may seem simple but there is a lot of set up going on in a very subtle ways. There are many influences from other mediums in the book but, Smith uses them as more inspiration than using them directly that so many other writer get trapped into. His use of the horizontal layout of the story and art make this a very interesting reading experience. Smith also tells a lot of the story visually in the artwork that all of his books really excels at and Tüki is no exception. I really enjoyed Gaadt’s coloring work on the book that really makes the artwork really pop on the page but never overwhelms the artwork either.
Is this book worth your time and money? The thing that I really like about this book is that it really sticks with you after you read it. It’s a pretty simple story that really works well on a visceral level that Smith’s book tend to do. It has the perfect balance of the story blending with the artwork to tell the story. The only complaint that I have is that it will be another month before the next issues comes out. VERY RECOMMENDED!
Image Comics Writer Robert Kirkman, Artist Paul Azaceta, Colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser, Letterer Rus Wootan
The first issue of this book didn’t knock my socks off so I hoped the second issue would work better for me. The plot from Image is,“IT WATCHES FROM THE DARKNESS” In the second issue of KIRKMAN & AZACETA’s horror epic, Kyle Barnes is still reeling from the revelations about demonic possession last issue and what they may mean about the time his mother was possessed. This is one of those cases where the second issue should have been the first issue. While the first issue read as a retread of the Exorcist the second issue gets away from the so-so start in the first issue. While there were parts of the first issue that were good, the second issue is much more focused on the underlying story. I hindsight I think the first issue has some pacing problems and at times seemed padded. This issue Kirkman really hits the ground running with the story and make Kyle much less of a douche bag from the first issue. Azaceta’s artwork continues to impress with his use of shadows and mood that the story needs visually. He does a very nice job with the emotions in the story that need to be very subtle and he really nails it.
Is this book worth your time and money? After a very shaky start to the first issue,the second issue restores my faith in the book. As long as Kirkman keep the books like this issue this book could be a real winner. The key is going to be consistency. If he can stay away from the clichés and ripoff then I will keep reading the book.
Star Spangled War Stories: Featuring G.I. Zombie #1
DC Comics Writers Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, Artist & Colorist Scott Hampton, Letterer Rob Leigh
Maybe Palmiotti and Gray could write more New 52 comics over at DC now. The plot from DC is, Meet the soldier they call “G.I. ZOMBIE,” a man who is neither dead nor alive, who fights for his country again…and again…and again! The first issue of the book gets off to a solid start. Palmiotti & Gray seem to throw you into a story that is not what the title suggest but that is why this first issue worked so well. At first you’re not sure what is going on but they do the thing that you do not suspect as a nice reveal to the characters. I really loved the good cop bad cop and did a nice twist on it. The other nice thing is that they are not the buddy cop type of characters that most writers would have easily fallen into. The really glue of the book is Hampton that some will remember from the brilliant Simon Dark book that he did with writer Steve Niles a few years ago. He brings a great mood that the story needed to make the book come together.
Is this book worth your time and money? The first issue gets off to a great start with a solid story and great art. If more New 52 were this good I would read a lot more. While this book is a horror book on the surface it really is a lot more than that. This is the type of book that DC needs to be doing a lot more of now. Getting creative talent on a book and letting them do what they do best, tell good stories and have great art. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Groo Vs. Conan #1
Dark Horse Comics Writers Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier, Artist Sergio Aragones and Thomas Yeates, Colorist Tom Luth, Letterer Richard Starking and Comicraft
The team up no one saw coming. The plot from Dark Horse is, It had to happen: The most heroic warrior in history meets the stupidest as Robert E. Howard’s immortal Conan the Barbarian crosses swords with Sergio Aragonés’s Groo the Wanderer in Groo vs. Conan #1. This four-issue miniseries was concocted by Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragonés, aided by illustrator Thomas Yeates and colorist Tom Luth. Will Conan annihilate Groo? Will Groo turn out to be the man who can defeat Conan? We’ll see. While it seems like that the story would make no sense, it surprisingly works really well. First and foremost the story is a lot of fun so be far-warned that this is more of a Groo book than Conan so keep that in mind if you are going to pick it up. Aragones and Evanier add their usual tomfoolery of writing the “real world” into the story to explain how the whole story is able to happen. The Groo portions are drawn by Aragones and the Conan parts are drawn by Yeats and the styles are so different and that is how the whole book is able to work. The story works really well and the meshing of the two universes is seamless.
Is this book worth your time and money? The book is silly and goofy and that is why is works so well. It takes a crazy idea and they are able to make it all work out that makes it believable that Groo and Conan are in the same world. This book has been a long time coming because it was delayed because of Aragones health issues. I can say that it was well worth the wait. VERY RECOMMENDED!
Image Comics Writer Rick Remender, Artist Greg Tocchini, Colorist Sebastian Girner, Letterer Rus Wooton
Remender is one of those writers that seems to be love or hate with readers. His new Image book Low is out and which side will it fall on. The plot from Image is,In the far distant future, the sun’s premature expansion has irradiated Earth, sending humanity to the lowest depths of the seas, hidden within radiation-shielded cities, while probes scour the universe for inhabitable worlds to relocate to. After tens of thousands of years, a single probe returns, crashing on Earth’s surface, a now-alien place no human has seen for many millennia. Frequent collaborators RICK REMENDER (BLACK SCIENCE, Uncanny Avengers) and GREG TOCCHINI (Last Days of American Crime, Uncanny X-Force) dive into an aquatic sci-fi/fantasy tale following two teams from the last remaining cities undersea as they race to the most unexpected alien world of all—the surface of Earth. Remender story for Low is falling in the middle of the road for me. I liked it OK but it didn’t overwhelm me either. The story is a tried and true end of the world with the humans pissing off or destroying another species. Bad guy kidnaps kids parents left for dead, you get the picture. The big flaw with the first issue is that not a lot really happens. Remender over explains a lot but you don’t connect with the main characters very well. The saving grace of the book is Tocchini’s wonderful artwork that is just gorgeous. He does a nice job of making the so-so story seem a bit better than it is. Girner’s color work is really nice and complements Tocchini’s line art on the book.
Is this book worth your time and money? While not a train wreck, it just ended up as being OK. A cliché story with beautiful artwork will only go so far. Remender is going to have to step up with the story for me to stick around more than an issue or two for the series. The story really needs to go somewhere very soon. This one is on a short leash.