RP’s Rapid Reviews — September 12th, 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. I mean, it can be hard to wade through 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-shots, with the occasional book I’m excited about. They have been sorted by section (Buy It, Wait and See, Skip It).
- Archie 1941 #1 (Archie) — Archie and the gang are timeless characters. They can be updated (Mark Waid’s 2015 relaunch) or genre-adapted (see Vampironica, Jughead the Hunger, etc…). And now, they can be retro-fitted as they have been in Archie 1941 #1. This issue starts with their high school graduation in June 1941, just months before the U.S. joined WWII. Mark Waid, who‘s been writing the main series since its 2015 relaunch, co-writes this with long-time collaborator Brian Augustyn. Their script hits all the Archie trademarks: Archie’s clumsiness, Jughead’s insatiable appetite, and Betty and Veronica’s bitter rivalry. However, this issue shows us a forlorn, borderline-depressed Archie. He’s dealing with the weight of post-graduation expectations, coupled with the anxiety of the threat of war. The book paces along just fine and really captures the hallmarks of this time period. Moreover, Peter Krause’s art brings this script to life with thin, yet well-defined lines, as well as subtle facial expressions. Krause and Waid, who teamed up on Irredeemable, do not seem to have missed a beat working together. Furthermore, there must be an Americana color palette, because Kelly Fitzpatrick seems to have chosen solely from it. Before I finish, I want to mention Jack Morelli’s lettering. He guided my eyes seamlessly throughout this book, especially in panels that required lots of word bubbles. Overall, this issue offers a nostalgic look at a trying time for America, and the world.
- Birthright #31 (Image/Skybound) — My favorite fantasy comic is back after a few month’s hiatus (yay!). In this issue, we get some background on Mastema and, um, she is not nice. But, even more concerning than that is that she is unpredictable. Joshua Williamson (Flash, Nailbiter) continues to deepen the lore in Birthright, as well as further expand the shared history everyone has. At this point, I’m still not sure who I can trust…and that’s what makes this story so compelling and intriguing. As for the art, Andrei Bressan continues to be a perfect fit for this book. He really shines when it comes to character and monster designs, both of which we get a decent dose of here. Also, Adriano Lucas’ colors enhance what Bressan has put on the page, especially where the magical flourishes are involved. Furthermore, Pat Brosseau’s work was your standard, never-in-the-way, emboldened in all the right places lettering, that mostly goes unnoticed, except when it doesn’t want to be. For example, when a witch screams “Scream!” or when Mastema screams “I HATE YOU!” to her father, King Lore. All in all, Birthright continues to be my favorite fantasy comic as it expands its lore and deepens the mystery of God King Lore and his true nature.
- Crowded #2 (Image) — The first issue of Crowded was as close to a perfect introductory issue as I have read, maybe ever. But was it all hype stemming from Rebel Wilson optioning it for a film before it even hit stands? The answer is a resounding “No!” This issue picks up pretty much where the last one ended, with a group of assailants about to break in to Vita’s house to kill Charlie. With this development, we get to see Vita in action and see that her 1.4 rating on the DFEND app may be just a little askew. The dynamic between the two leading ladies continues to be a bright spot and reason enough to be checking out this series. Another reason is the art from Ro Stein (pencils), Ted Brandt (inks), Triona Farrell (colors), and Cardinal Rae (letters). Together, they combine to bring Christopher Sebela’s script to vibrant, in-your-face, life. While I could go on forever about everyone’s contributions, I want to single out Farrell’s colors. Hot! Damn! She has picked the perfect color for every panel. While some panels, and pages, are more mundane than others, by nature, there are many instances where her color choices were just downright inspired. They just pop off the page and assault your senses, in the best possible way. As for the story in this issue, we get some great insight and background into Vita and her house, which just makes her all the more endearing. Also, the cast of characters expands exponentially and we get a bunch of diverse, fleshed-out characters. This book is going places, and I am strapped in for the entire ride.
- Detective Comics #988 (DC ) — James Robinson (Starman, Wonder Woman) takes over Detective Comics from Bryan Edward Hill, whose short stint was a nice story that basically served as an epilogue to his upcoming Batman and the Outsiders series. It appears that Robinson will be writing a six-issue arc before Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke take over with #994. However, don’t let that deter you from checking out this run. Robinson takes Batman back to basics with the approach of him being focused on actual detective work, as a distraction, of sorts, [SPOILER ALERT] from Catwoman recently leaving him at the altar. This issue has classic Detective Comics written, and drawn, all over it. Robinson’s script is evenly paced. Plus, there’s a nice little easter egg concerning a certain street named after the creator of the first villain in this issue. Also, Robinson is really mining Bruce’s recent emotional and mental state, which especially shines through in his dialogue between him and Alfred. Moreover, Stephen Segovia’s art is gorgeous to look at, in particular a widescreen cinematic shot of Gotham. Furthermore, Ivan Plascencia’s colors on this splash page, along with the rest of the book, only serve to enhance Segovia’s dynamic, detailed art. If you’re on the James Robinson hate train, you should get off on the next stop and pick this issue up.
- Newbury & Hobbes: The Undying #1 (Titan Comics) — This is a steampunk fantasy set in Victorian England. If that is your thing, then you will do good to check this comic out. That said, if this is your thing, then you’ve most likely heard of this series. This comic is being released for the 10th anniversary of the Newbury & Hobbes book series. Now, if this is your thing, and you haven’t heard of this series, then YAY FOR YOU! So, full disclosure, this isn’t my thing, but this comic may have changed that! It’s like Sherlock Holmes, with a feisty female assistant, and with more supernatural/fantasy elements. George Mann, the author of 5 previously published novels, also writes this series. So, it goes without saying that he is writing some awesomely developed characters. The dialogue is pithy, smart and very apropos of the time period. Also, he deftly paces the narrative along without making first-time readers, like me, feel lost or confused. Moreover, Dan Boultwood’s artwork is very charming, with his expressive faces, steampunk designs (wait til you see Queen Victoria!), and muted pastels. This book is full of the macabre, but with a very witty, stylized veneer that entices you to stay around for the journey. I am definitely looking forward to the rest of this series.
- The Flash #54 (DC) — My first foray into Flash comics was with the first issue of this volume. Fifty-four issues later, and it is still one of my favorite superhero comics. Joshua Williamson has crafted a clever, engaging story that could have peaked in the previous arc “Flash War,” but is only getting stronger. Barry Allen is contending with the different forces that have surfaced as a result of the Flash War between him and Wally West. In this issue, he is dealing with the Strength Force, and the results are bonkers, in the best way. Williamson is clearly having fun exploring these new forces, as is Christian Duce. His version of a “hulked-out” (sorry!) Flash has been a blast to experience. And by equal measure, Williamson is having Barry explore and understand these new forces in unique ways. Moreover, Luis Guerrero’s colors and Steve Wand’s letters are perfect complements to the whole affair. Williamson and company are delivering quintessential superhero storytelling. Even though they have done 54 issues, they’re only getting started.
- Runaways #13 (Marvel) — Rainbow Rowell continuesto deliver the goods here. While Kris Anka is off for a couple issue (he’s still on covers), David Lafuente steps in and does an amazing job. His thick lines and emotive expressions maintained the tone we’ve seen throughout this series. Rowell is doing some serious Runaways universe shaping. She is expanding on the mythos that Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphonso created. However, this should not serve to dissuade you from reading this series! Rowell and company are delivering an emotional, heartstring-tugging saga that anyone can enjoy. Moreover, Jim Campbell, filling in for Matt Wilson, is coloring in his own way without deviating from Wilson’s previous palette. If you love pinks, blues, and purples, then you’ll love this book. I know I am!
- Mech Cadet Yu #12 (Boom!) — It’s all over! *sad face emoji* Greg Pak concludes Stanford Yu and the other cadets’ story as they make a last-ditch effort to stop the Sharg. While the ending isn’t much of a surprise, it still is a nice coda to this sweet, action-packed tale. As usual, Takeshi Miyazawa’s art is emotionally effusive and beautifully rendered. Furthermore, Raúl Angulo’s colors really make the art pop with a steady use of primary colors along with some neon flourishes. Everything comes together nicely in the last page, which is a great depiction of mourning the present while looking hopeful to the future. The only issue I have with this series is that it leaves some questions unanswered…it’s even something one of the characters addresses directly. I’m hoping that is Pak’s way of portending a follow up series. As Yu has taught me, sometimes hope is all we have.
- Champions #24 (Marvel) — Jim Zub and Sean Isaakse take the opportunity with this chapter to address a serious issue: school shootings. They even went as far as to title the issue “Trigger Warning.” Now, they didn’t politicize the issue of gun control, and they didn’t show any graphic content, but what they did was much more effective. They looked at the issue from the many different perspectives of the Champions team members, from Riri’s cynical indifference to Miles’ guilt for not being there to help (it was his school where the shooting took place). Instead of debating the issue of gun violence, they showed us the different ways people cope with tragedy and how others can support those affected. In one of the more poignant scenes, Kamala displayed true leadership to Miles by helping him cope with his trauma. I know I haven’t spoken much about the art, or the technical aspects of the story. However, I felt how they depicted the message of this issue was more important. Based solely on their depiction of coping with this type of tragedy, I highly recommend you read this issue.
WAIT AND SEE & SKIP IT
Nothing to see here this week.
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.