RP’s Rapid Reviews — August 8th, 2018
By Cory Webber
Each week, we here at RP try to deliver as many in-depth comic reviews as we can. Alas, we are only human, and can only do so much. But, we know how much you all love comics, and we want to review as many books as we can for you. I mean, it can be hard to wade trough the multitude of books released each week. So, without further ado, here are some quick-shot reviews of books that our staff did not individually review. I try to stick to #1’s, beginnings and endings of arcs, and one-shot specials, with the occasional book I’m excited to talk about. They have been sorted by section (Buy It, Wait and See, Skip It).
- Catwoman #2 (DC) — Joëlle Jones continues to impress on both writing and art duties. What can I say about her art that I already haven’t? Since I’m stumped, for now, let’s talk about her writing. Ummm, wow! Jones’ inner dialogue for Selina has a certain staccato-like rhythm to it that moves you briskly through an early fight scene. It’s almost poetic akin to Tom King’s writing in Batman. And, in this issue, we finally get a peek inside Catwoman’s mind and heart as she deals with the emotional fallout from her leaving Bruce at the altar. She is a woman who has been bent but not broken. The story here moves a little slow. While we still don’t know what the villain’s true motives are, we do get an intriguing development that affects her plans. This story is shaping up to be a classic neo-noir affair that is enhanced by Jones’ sense of style and location. The end of the book sees Selina walking into a glitzy, 50’s era Hollywood establishment that is just dripping with mood. The details suck you in and transport you to a place that feels familiar yet unique. So, I guess there is something I can add about her art. Also, her line work, specifically on faces, is fantastic. I mean, there are lines on faces that shouldn’t be where they are…they would only serve to tarnish one’s look. However, under Jones’ deft touch, they add another layer of emotion, character and complexity. Lest I forget, Allred’s color work here is superb, as always. For the most part, her colors fit in with the story and stand out to distract from the more mundane, expository aspects of the story. But, when the story calls for some pop and pizzazz, her colors really shine.
- Sideways #7 (DC-) — Of all the New Age of Heroes books from DC, Sideways has been the best, in my humblest of opinions. The last few issues have really upped the ante for our hero, both personally and as a superhero. With the greatest impact happening at the end of #6. Now, I won’t spoil what happened, but suffice it to say that something occurred that truly changed his life forever. Dan DiDio and Kenneth Rocafort, writer and artist, respectively, have been delivering a solid story with amazing art. Derek’s story has some uncanny similarities to Peter Parker’s, and the result has been stellar. First, Derek has struggles with both his personal and social life that provide him with layers; second, he has that good ol’ Parker luck. Now, they obviously don’t call it that, heck they don’t even make reference to it, but it is there; finally, he has personal tragedy to fuel his emotions, which at the beginning of this issue are anger and rage. However, a new, interesting development takes place near the end of this issue that helps focus his energy and emotion, for now. It’s a development that, quite frankly, makes this book far more intriguing than it has every right to be. Maybe, and just maybe, it’s this quality of story that has inspired Grant Morrison to co-write the upcoming Annual #1. As always, Rocafort’s art is detailed, nuanced and full of great emotion and action. Whatever momentum he built up on his Ultimates run has most definitely spilled over into this series.
- Assassin’s Creed: Conspiracies #1 (Titan Comics) — Each week I gather enough new comics to help fill out this column. And, also, each week there are a couple comics I begrudgingly pick up that I normally wouldn’t. Assassin’s Creed: Conspiracies was one of those comics. I started with the mindset that this was just some aimless video game tie-in that wouldn’t offer much to fans outside of the series. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy this series, but I haven’t played much since ACIII, unless you include the 10 hours or so I put in on Black Flag a few years ago. Something about having three kids and an increased workload, but I digress. So, it came as quite a surprise as to how much I enjoyed Guillaume Dorison’s script. Sure he had some lengthy exposition stretched across some rather large word balloons. But, in effect, this over-sized (40+ page!) issue serves as a pretty good wartime espionage thriller with an interesting twist at the end. I’m not sure what the ending means in the grand scheme of things. Hell, I’m not even sure if there is a grand scheme of things when it comes to the Assassin’s Creed line of comics. However, it was enough to make me want to check out the second issue, which serves as the finale of this two-part series. For the most part, Jean-Baptiste Hostache’s art serves the story well. His use of dark shadows, dark hues and rigid lines really lent an overt sense of drama, intrigue, and suspense. In fact, I hope to see more work form these creators, in the future. But, for now, I will look forward to the concluding chapter next month.
- Wonder Woman #52 (DC ) — Steve Orlando debuted on Wonder Woman #51, a standalone story that really showcased his understanding of who Diana is and what makes her tick. I highly recommend you read that issue if you have any interest at all in Diana of Themyscira. Here, in this issue, Orlando kicks off a new arc that has Wonder Woman teaming up with a couple other bad ass ladies: Aztek and Artemis. While I’m not familiar at all with these two characters, Orlando does a nice job introducing them to me, especially Artemis. She is feisty and isn’t afraid to let you know it. Orlando’s pacing and structure are solid here. I’m becoming a bigger fan of his issue by issue. However, the real star of this issue is the art. A good chunk of this takes place in Mexico, specifically in an ancient Aztec region. The Aztec era lends itself wonderfully to a unique design and aesthetic, which the art team hits out of the park. From the colors, to Aztec-inspired background designs and drawings, ACO (pencils), David Lorenzo (inks), and Romulo Fajado Jr. (colors) do a beautiful job of transporting you to another time and place. And, Orlando does an A-plus job of ramping up the action, setting the stage for a dramatic battle in the next issue.
- X-Men: Blue #33 (Marvel) — I have a confession: I loved Cullen Bunn’s Magneto, which ran from 2014-2015. However, his run on Uncanny X-Men didn’t move the needle much for me. It’s not because of him, though. I do feel that the X-Men books have been in a difficult space lately; they just haven’t had the feel that earlier X-Men stories have had. Now, I think things have started to change with Tom Taylor’s X-Men Red, which you should check out if you haven’t already. At any rate, let’s get back to X-Men Blue, which I fell off of after the first couple arcs; I just wasn’t feeling it. So, imagine my surprise when I checked back in on the title with this issue. Wow! Bunn blew me away with this issue. He obviously has a knack for writing Magneto. This issue focuses on him and hints at him returning to his glorious days of villainy. If you’re at all looking forward to the upcoming X-Men: Black mini-series, then you should do yourself a favor and get on this title right now. Marcus To, back on art after being absent for the last four issues, really captured the feeling of Magneto’s revival really well. Bunn and To really have shown a complex side to Magneto: he knows he can’t achieve his goals through hate, but he knows he hast to toe the line to really get what he wants for mutant-kind. I have an ominous feeling about what is to come, and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.
WAIT AND SEE
- Hey Kids! Comics (Image) — Howard Chaykin follows up on his highly controversial 2017 miniseries United States of Hysteria with this behind-the-scenes look of the comics industry. He wrote on his Facebook page, “Hey Kids! Comics is a fictionalized history of more than a half century of turbulence and triumph, despair and drama in the comic book racket.” He claims that much of it really happened and that names of people and companies have been changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty alike. While I did find this first issue to be full of juicy drama, I feel it could have had a more profound effect had I known to whom these stories could possibly be alluding. With some basic-level deductive reasoning, I was able to make the connection between the fictional Verve and Marvel. However, I have no idea who these characters’ real-life counterparts could be. I guess that’s the point of changing the names to protect them. Chaykin does a nice job of giving these characters some depth. Also, he kept the story intriguing by jumping back-and-forth through the decades (1940s to 2001). And, his art is a nice mix between cartoon and photo-realistic images. His thick lines and deep inks give a nice depth, especially in his exterior shots. I was mesmerized by some of his panels of city skylines. as well as the last panel of the book of a bridge during a snow flurry. There’s just something about his mixture of block shapes and pointillism art that really grabbed my attention. I liked the issue, but it’s a “wait and see” for me. At least until I can maybe decipher some of the personal stories that are being told under a different name.
- Star Wars: Darth Vader #19 (Marvel) – This issue kicks off the heavily marketed “Fortress Vader” story arc. While I have enjoyed Charles Soule’s take on Vader, I didn’t quite engage with this opening salvo as much as I was hoping. Maybe I feel like the marketing for this arc has been too omnipresent for it not to blow me away. Even though I’ve placed it in the Wait and See section, I do have high hopes for the rest of the arc (but, maybe it’s that marketing, though..ahhh!). In spite of my lackluster feelings, I am enjoying Soule’s run on this title. His Vader is impressively imposing and menacing. Also, Giuseppe Camuncoli’s art continues to impress. He has solid line work and dynamic posing. Most importantly, for me, at least, is his strong facial work. His facial expressions are spot on, none more so than when Vader interacts with a newborn baby. Oh, and the cover, which is an homage to A New Hope, is just fantastic! So, this book could have easily been in the Buy It section; however, I just felt a tad let down by this opening chapter. Hopefully things will pick up next issue for me.
- Dissonance #4 (Image) — This series started out with promise, but has since faded for me. The idea of a superior species sharing its technology and knowledge with humans in exchange for access to their souls was intriguing. However, somewhere along the way, I feel like it got lost in its own self-imposed grandeur. The art was still a bright point, and I really dug some of the fantasmen’s character designs, but it’s just not enough to justify keeping with this book. Maybe I read too many books – guilty as charged!! – but I had a hard time keeping up with the story and remembering what happened in previous issues. I felt that each issue had a little too much exposition and too much to say that I couldn’t really focus on the characters, or even remember who was who. For example,a character was introduced as “the leader of the opposition,” and I had no idea who she was, or what the so-called opposition even was that she represented. So, it was a fun, high concept that ultimately did not connect with me in the way that I had originally hoped.
- Eternal Empire #10 — (Image) I really wanted to like this series. After all, I loved Vaughn’s and Luna’s Alex + Ada. It was one of the first comics series I read beginning to end. So, imagine my dismay when this series started slow out the gates. Eternal Empire #10 is the concluding issue. While I did like the conclusion okay, I never felt too emotionally invested in the journey. Vaughn had some strong ideas, and some decent world building, but the characters’ depths were shallow. Again, I really wanted to like this series. While I don’t think it’s terrible, I do like the art and the mythology, and the dragons (!!), I just can’t recommend it to anyone.
Well, that is it for this week. Let us know if you agree or disagree with any of these classifications, either here or on Twitter @RoguesPortal. Also, let us know if there are any books you want us to cover in future segments.