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ETERNAL WARRIOR: AWAKENING #1
NANCY DREW & THE HARDY BOYS #3
STAR WARS: THE SCREAMING CITADEL #1
JOHN CARTER: THE END #4
ETERNAL WARRIOR: AWAKENING #1Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Renato Guedes
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man
Can you believe the Eternal Warrior was been around for 25 years? Well to celebrate, Valiant has released a one-shot, ETERNAL WARRIOR: AWAKENING #1 by two of their main stays, Robert Venditti and Renato Guedes.
This story tries to distill Gilad Anni-Padda down to his basic concept. Showing us what he's all about and what he's good at- if you get my drift. Overall, the it's a decent enough tale, although two things struck me as odd (check the spoilers to see what. Ranato Guedes does a fine job illustrating the tale. He did seem to push himself, so he looks better than usual. Although, for an anniversary issue, some pin-ups would have been nice. On some level the art of a single issue story has been lost on a lot of modern writers. So while Venditti story is fine, it's not quite stirring or engaging. So if they peppered the book with some cool artwork from various artist, it would be more than it is.
Spoiler time, “In the time before civilization”, Gilad takes an ax to the head and falls off a cliff. The blow has affected his memory, and he has forgotten who he is. The guy who dented his skull is Alpha Hyamm, a first rate @-hole, just begging to be killed. Although, how he managed to defeat Gilad is poorly shown. After all, Gilad is a major bad@$$, but it's just poof, ax to the head. As Alpha Hyamm searches for Gilad's body, thinking he has killed him, the Geomancer of the day, helps Gilad get his memory back. Reestablishing who he is and his charge of being the fist and steel of the Earth, Gilad hunts down Alpha Hyamm. Gilad sneaks into Hyamm's tent and chop, chop. This is the second odd thing about the book. I would have liked to have seen how Gilad got passed everyone in Alpha Hyamm's army camp, to get to his tent, instead of just poof, here I am. Once revenge is taken, Gilad and the Geomancer head out for more adventures, in the serve of the Earth.
NANCY DREW AND THE HARDY BOYS: THE BIG LIE #3Writer: Anthony Del Col
Artist: Werther Dell ‘Edera
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
My initial impression of THE BIG LIE was underwhelmed, placing me in the minority of reviewers. It wasn’t that I found the comic lackluster, I just have higher expectations for the team behind the series. With the various modernization we’ve seen of classic characters the past year or so, there needs to be something singular to make a property stand out from the pack. Good just isn’t good enough. NANCY DREW AND THE HARDY BOYS #2 was an improvement over the premiere issue, but I held back final judgment until the most recent book to see whether the series could provide consistent quality.
I am happy to say that Del Col and Dell ‘Edera have disproved my first impression.
While the second issue finally placed the female titular character at the forefront, issue three highlights the chemistry of the entire trio. Nancy and the boys have gone undercover with some supposedly small-time crooks, part of an elaborate plan to find clues regarding their father’s murder. Cool, calm, and collected, Ms. Drew leads the boys deeper into the underbelly of the Bayport crime scene. Frank and Joe have to overcome their petty rivalry and jealousies in order to stay one step ahead of the cops and a federal prosecutor, who just happens to be Nancy’s dad.
The strength of the series thus far is Ms. Drew, who was absent for most of the first issue. She is a pitch-perfect modernized femme fatale, who could hold her own up against any present-day Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, or the like. Her dialogue features that balance of old and new that I found missing from the earlier issues. Drew’s speech is both natural and witty, no forced snarkiness or flat jokes. Such a well-developed character allows the shortcomings of Frank to be reframed as purposeful contrasts between himself and his brother Joe.
I’m still not completely won over by artist Dell ‘Edera and colorist Stefano Simeone’s aesthetics. There are singular panels that stand on their own, even out of context, but the charcoal-like shading of the faces distracts and therefore more than detracts from many quality pages, reading as a literal interpretation of the world’s “shady” characters. That said, just as Del Col’s writes Nancy as a temporal hybrid, Dell ‘Edera’s design of Ms. Drew also places her between two worlds, dressed just as one would picture a young, 21st century Phyllis Dietrichson or Evelyn Mulwray.
In my first review, I drew a short comparison between NANCY DREW AND THE HARDY BOYS and RIVERDALE, a connection made by others and one that didn’t go unnoticed by THE BIG LIE team. However, unlike the Archie show and comic, THE BIG LIE has thus far taken advantage of present-day technology and avoided a reliance on the meta-narrative and postmodern self-referencing. THE BIG LIE isn’t making every effort to impress us and emphasize just how cool it is. It just is.
Lyzard is Lyz Reblin, a graduate student at Michigan Tech pursuing a doctorate in Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture... which is just a fancy way of saying she plays a lot video games, watches far too many horror films, and then tries to pass it all off as "research."
X-FILES #13Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Andrew Currie
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Reviewer: Masked Man
As good news was bestowed on all of us X-philes, with the announcement of the next TV mini-series coming soon, IDW's latest comic series continues to roll on. If you weren't hip to it, this latest comic book series is in the current timeline, opposed to still being in the original season's timeline. The man himself, Chris Carter is back overseeing these issues, as we hit part two of a two-parter focused on Assistant Director Walter Skinner, “Skinner”.
Right off the bat, Harris has been joined by a new artist, Andrew Currie. Currie is a British artist who is probably known more for inking these days, than pencils. With a lot of project done for Marvel and DC. The biggest question, of course, is how is he handling the likeness of the actors. Aside from Skinner, Mulder and Scully are looking fairly ugly from time to time, but he does do a good job of the likenesses. Aside from that his work is pretty typical. Not great, not bad. He handles Skinner the best, so it helps that the past two issues have been about Skinner.
As for Harris story, it's short and sweet. While we all complain about story arcs being too d@mn long, here's case where it could be longer. Aside from that, it's a solid read from Harris, and he handles the characters quite well.
Ok spoiler time, so it seems Skinner had a supernatural run-in back in his Vietnam War days. As a village of people were killed and his fellow soldiers stole an amulet. The amulet (housing a demon of revenge) has been causing each one of them to go mad, before it kills them. Talk about a slow burn, as it started back in the 1960's! Well, now it's Skinner's turn. Skinner does reach out to Mulder and Scully, but surprisingly they do very little. In fact, very little is done at all, about this problem. In the end Skinner confesses to them that he was against what his buddies did, and is sorry about the whole mess. So the demon in the amulet just forgives him. Mulder and Scully never even see the amulet or the demon or even really know what Skinner is talking about. So a bit unsatisfying, even though it all makes sense.
STAR WARS: THE SCREAMING CITADEL #1Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art: Marco Checchetto
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Justin Burkhardt and @justinburkhardt on Twitter
As I’ve said before, I’m not the type who will just continue subscribing to a comic because I have nostalgia for a certain character. For example: While I think Tom King is a great writer, and I love Batman, I just can’t get into his BATMAN series. So I don’t subscribe to it, and I don’t subscribe to books that I’m just not into the current storytelling regardless of writer/character.
However, the two properties I’m the most lenient with are Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve stopped reading stories involving the two that I didn’t like, but I will admit I give them a little more leeway than other comics. I grew up on both Star Wars and TMNT, and they are most meaningful to me.
As a child I couldn’t get enough of Star Wars, and like many kids my age who couldn’t get enough I eventually ventured into the wild world of the expanded universe books. Some of the books were good (Trawn Trilogy, Shadows of the Empire) and some were pretty terrible (Dark Nest, Black Fleet). I also really enjoyed the “Tales Of” series (Mos Eisley, Jabba’s Palace, Bounty Hunters). Between the expanded universe and video games like Dark Forces, my love for Star Wars was able to grow even stronger.
So when Marvel announced a few years ago that the regained the rights and would be releasing more Star Wars comics, I was cautiously optimistic. I knew there would be some duds, but I really believed that overall the books would be enjoyable. It’s been about two and a half years now since this new ongoing STAR WARS book was released by Marvel, and I think I was right.
There have been some duds (PRINCESS LEIA, OBI-WAN & ANAKIN) but there have been some absolute hits as well. The first DARTH VADER series was spectacular, LANDO was great, and STAR WARS is still going strong. Vader even got a solid spinoff in DOCTOR APHRA. I think it’s safe to say that Marvel’s return to the Star Wars comic verse has been extremely positive (though I know Star Wars fans can be really picky, so I’m sure there are haters out there as well).
Last week, Marvel released STAR WARS SCREAMING CITADEL #1. They’re calling it a one-shot, but to be more precise it’s the first (and only) standalone issue of a five-part series that will alternate between STAR WARS and DOCTOR APHRA series. The book is written by APHRA writer Kieron Gillen with art by Marco Checchetto (ironically one of the lone positives of both the OBI-WAN/ANAKIN series).
This book, unlike the previous VADER/STAR WARS crossover, will be focusing on the pairing of Aphra and Luke. With Luke wanting to improve on the Force and Aphra having gotten her hands on an ancient Jedi artifact, the two team up. They then travel to the planet Ktath’atn, a privileged class society, where they attend an event hosted by a sinister queen that starts to put the real story in motion. Other characters from both series make an appearance (Han, Leia, Sana, BT-1, 0-0-0), but this book is really about the Luke and Aphra dynamic. I really enjoyed the two playing off of each other and I already hope their paths cross again once this event is over.
The issue is definitely a character-driven issue that focuses on the paring of Luke and Aphra. And like the other Star Wars comics, it also isn’t afraid to be a little weird at times (seriously get a look at Luke’s “Tuxedo” in this issue). The art by Checchetto is superb. He did a great job previously on SHATTERED EMPIRE, so he’s familiar with the Star Wars universe as well. The party looks great, but when Checchetto really shines when gets to the Queen’s evilness at the end.
The comics are creating unique worlds and stories in the Star Wars universe that the movies likely will never touch on. If you’re a Star Wars fan, I’m sure you’ve likely checked out some of the comics, but if you haven’t yet you absolutely must do so. I’ve been very critical of Marvel recently (How dare they cancel KINGPIN and BLACK PANTHER AND THE CREW so soon), but I will admit when Marvel does something right. Marvel has done the Star Wars universe right so far with all these comics, and I hope they keep it up. I give SCREAMING CITADEL 5 out of 5 light sabers.
JOHN CARTER: THE END #4Writers: Brian Wood and Alex Cox
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man
It's the end of all things Barsoom, in Dynamite's latest John Carter mini-series. Written by Brian Wood, who created CHANNEL ZERO, and took over MOON KNIGHT after Warren Ellis stepped away. He is joined by first time writer Alex Cox and artist Hayden Sherman. Sherman is the co-creator of THE FEW, with a few other projects under his belt.
So, JOHN CARTER: THE END is kinda like the end of the Arthurian tales. Carter has been away for decades, and the planet has decayed even more, and has fallen into civil war. So our hero, Carter returns one last time to save Barsoom (a.k.a. Mars) and put her to rest. I got to say, it's a trippy narrative, which is usually not something you get with a Barsoom story. Dynamite did promise us it would be like nothing we've seen before (John Carter-wise). There are a lot of moving parts, and Wood does use many concepts and characters of all the original novels- not just A PRINCESS OF MARS, so that's nice.
Sherman's artwork is on a different level. It's overly graphic and sketchy. Like a new school Frank Miller explosion with Howard Chaykin and Jamie Hewlett. It's about as far away from classical illustration as you can get, while still drawing recognizable figures. It's well done, and it's trippy enough to fit with Wood and Cox's trippy story. But it all kinda feels wrong for John Carter. Like, did this type of John Carter story need to be told?
Getting to the spoilers, all the pieces are coming into place, as John Carter's prodigal son, Den has returned. He's sorry, for his part in this race war, which is trying to wipe-out all the Green Martians. John and Dejah Thoris (who is captured by the bad guys, so that hasn't changed), both learn the mad scientist Ras Thavas and his Synthetic Men are behind it all. Carter also reconnects with the other Earth man on Mars, Ulysses Paxton. But Paxton has gone a bit mad with time. Still, he shows Carter the way to save Barsoom. And ala LORD OF THE RINGS, John Carter calls up and army of the dead! Who appear to be the First Born, a.k.a. the Black Men of Mars. Next issue, the climax!
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G