Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Archive for the 'Reviews – Boom! Studios' Category

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Fighting Evil)

Posted by Don MacPherson on 20th April 2014

Lumberjanes #1
Writers: Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis
Artist: Brooke Allen
Colors: Maarta Laibo
Letters: Aubrey Aiese
Cover artists: Noelle Stevenson/Maddie Flores/Lauren Zuke
Editor: Dafina Pleban
Publisher: Boom! Studios/Boom! Box imprint
Price: $3.99 US

I’m far from the target audience for this book, but there was such a positive buzz around it, I opted to fork over my four bucks to give it a look. I figured if I didn’t dig it, I could probably flip it on eBay to get my money back. After reading it, I definitely get why it has struck a chord with readers. Lumberjanes, as its title suggests, is a playful adventure book featuring a cast made up entirely of strong, entertaining female characters. It’s appropriate for pre-teen readers up to adults, and I’d be amazed if Boom! wasn’t eyeing this property as something that could spin off into other media. That being said, I don’t think I’ll be following the series — not because I don’t think it’s a good comic book. It is a good comic. It’s just one that doesn’t really appeal to my sensibilities. Read the rest of this entry »

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Laundry Day

Posted by Don MacPherson on 25th July 2011

The Rinse #1
Writer: Gary Phillips
Artist: Marc Laming
Colors: Darrin Moore
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover artists: Francesco Mattina/Paul Azaceta
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $1 US

Gary Phillips is a comics writer with a focus on the crime genre who consistently offers up compelling drama and strong characters, but with The Rinse, he’s really outdone himself. This is not only the most compelling comic book Phillips has written, but it stands out as one of the best crime comics I’ve read in some time. The Rinse, with its riveting, knowledgeable narration, is just as good as Ed Brubaker’s Criminal, and that’s really saying something. Phillips is joined by a talented artist who does an excellent job of capturing a sense of realism here, and a convincing look reinforces the strength and intelligence of the script. The main character is a thoroughly likeable figure, well-rounded and quite charming. But the character that really steals the show isn’t a character at all but rather than underworld trade that serves as the core premise of the book. Read the rest of this entry »

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Goo goo g’joob

Posted by Don MacPherson on 4th July 2011

Snarked #0
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Roger Langridge
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Editor: Bryce Carlson
Publisher: Boom! Studios/Kaboom! imprint
Price: $1 US

Poor Roger Langridge. He’s been crafting some fantastic comics in recent years featuring mainstream, pop-culture icons. He wrote one of the best super-hero comics Marvel has published in recent years, but alas, Thor the Mighty Avenger was cancelled after less than a year of publication. And before that, he did the impossible, making a TV variety/comedy show come alive in comics with The Muppet Show, published by Boom! Studios. Well, I’m pleased the folks at Boom! have given his new creator-owned project a home with its kids’ comics imprint. Langridge’s cartooning brought the same kind of fun and energy to Snarked that it did to The Muppet Show. It turns out that his characters aren’t entirely unfamiliar either… though I required something of an education as the source material and inspiration that led to the creation of this property. Snarked doesn’t have the same kind of recognizable cachet as those Muppets comics and won’t necessarily resonate as much, but it does demonstrate the irreverence and personality that makes Langridge such an appealing comics creator. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘It’s Not a Too-mah!’

Posted by Don MacPherson on 22nd April 2011

Malignant Man #1
Writers: James Wan & Michael Alan Nelson
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover artists: Trevor Hairsine/Rael Lyra
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

I’ll say this about this comic book: the title does grab one’s attention.

This inaugural issue is made up of two very distinct parts: one is a human drama of a man’s despair in the face of an inevitable, painful death, and the other is an action-driven story of men in black, conspiracies and the paranormal. I found both stories to be compelling, but in completely different ways. The problem is that I found it difficult to resolve the two together. There’s obviously logic in the progression from one to the next, but in terms of atmosphere, of the reactions the two different modes evoke from the reader, they don’t work all that well together. Fortunately, I think this is a problem only with this first episode. The artwork is effective, but more importantly, the colors convey the mood and tension in the story incredibly well. Malignant Man proved to be a fun if flawed read with a rather unfortunate title. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zero’s Tolerance

Posted by Don MacPherson on 17th October 2010

Soldier Zero #1
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Javier Pina
Colors: Alfred Rockefeller
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover artists: Trevor Hairsine, Dave Johnson, Phil Noto & Kalman Andrasofszky
Editor: Bryce Carlson
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

Back before Eye on Comics went on hiatus a few months ago, one of the last pieces I wrote was an editorial in which I expressed some scepticism about Boom! Studios’ plans for a new line of super-hero comics spearheaded by Stan Lee. Well, the time is almost upon us for those comics to see publication, and first out of the gate is Soldier Zero. At first glance, the premise is derivative… far too familiar in several respects. It’s comparable to a wide variety of other projects, from Avatar to Blue Beetle to X-O Manowar. Fortunately, there’s some character-driven content in the script that helps to set it apart. Writer Paul Cornell’s exploration of the experiences of a disabled person rings true and makes for some strong interpersonal moments in the story. That’s enough to hold my attention and for me to see how the whole alien-armor riff plays out. Read the rest of this entry »

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When Good Things Are Done by Bad People

Posted by Don MacPherson on 20th December 2009

Cassaday coverSale coverIncentive variant coverIncorruptible #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils: Jean Diaz
Inks: Belardino Brabo
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover artists: John Cassaday/Tim Sale/Jeffrey Spokes
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

I’ve heard some criticism that with Irredeemable still not even a year old, it’s too early for Boom! Studios to launch a spinoff title that explores the opposite dynamic: the world’s most powerful super-villain turning over a new leaf to fight for what’s right. I really don’t understand that aversion to this new title. The way I see it, the publisher is simply beginning the expansion of its super-hero line in a shared-continuity context. No one took issue with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s efforts to develop a larger super-hero universe almost 50 years ago or any other comics creators who have done the same over the life of the comics medium as a whole. That being said, while I enjoyed Incorruptible, it’s a far cry from the strength of Irredeemable. Still, there’s a great deal of potential here, and it certainly looks as though one’s appreciation of the plotlines and characters of this title won’t be dependent one one’s knowledge of the other. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pixar on the Page

Posted by Don MacPherson on 8th November 2009

Wall-E #0
“Working to Dig You Out”
Writer: J. Torres
Artist/Cover artist: Morgan Luthi
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Jose Macasocol, Jr.
Editor: Aaron Sparrow
Publisher: Boom! Studios/Boom Kids! imprint
Price: $2.99 US

While I enjoyed Mark Waid’s take on The Incredibles for Boom! Studios, I found it paled in comparison with the movie that inspired it (which happens to be my favorite Pixar flick). Boom’s Toy Story comics were cute but clearly aimed the younger set and therefore lacked the all-ages appeal of the movies. And as for the publisher’s take on Cars, well, I didn’t care for the movie and therefore had no interest in the comic-book spinoff. So it was with some hesitation that I approached this latest Pixar-inspired comic book from Boom! Studios, especially given the fact that the premise imposes severe limitations as far as characters and dialogue are concerned. To my amazement, writer J. Torres has done for a Pixar comic book what Roger Langridge did for a Muppet comic book. Torres overcomes the challenges inherent in adapting what one could view as essentially silent film and captures the same kind of cuteness, curiosity and innocence that allowed a computer-generated robot character to mesmerize millions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Die Another Day

Posted by Don MacPherson on 29th September 2009

Die Hard coversDie Hard: Year One #1
Writer: Howard Chaykin
Artist: Stephen Thompson
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover artists: Dave Johnson/Jock/John Paul Leon
Editors: Ian Brill & Matt Gagnon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

When Boom! Studios announced it acquired the Die Hard and planned to present an “untold” tale of cop John McClane’s days as a New York beat cop, I applauded the idea. Die Hard certainly isn’t the kind of movie licence one expects to find in comics today, given that the bulk of the franchise is more than a decade behind us. Such properties usually get the comics-medium adaptation or use at the height of their popularity, but I think the folks at Boom! rightly realized that Bruce Willis’s McClane character is an action-movie icon that’s never going to go out of style. When you say, “Yippee ki yay, motherfucker,” I doubt there’s anyone 16 and over in Western society who doesn’t know exactly what you’re talking about, even though what you’re saying sounds like gibberish. Yes, a Die Hard comic is a good idea. Unfortunately, Howard Chaykin’s script doesn’t read like a Die Hard comic. It’s an interesting look back at the New York City of a different era, but it lacks the John McClane/Bruce Willis charm, the humor and the inventive action that made the Die Hard movies such successes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Poe and He in Motion

Posted by Don MacPherson on 14th July 2009

Poe #1
Writer: J. Barton Mitchell
Artist: Dean Kotz
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Cover artists: Declan Shalvey/Jeffrey Spokes
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

As I began to read this comic book, I feared that it might demand that its audience be familiar with the full bibliography of the title character’s writings and his life story. As I’m almost two decades removed from my 19th Century American Lit class, my current level of information abut Edgar Allan Poe is far from exhaustive. Fortunately, one’s able to appreciate this supernatural detective story even if one’s only passing familiar with Poe’s past. Writer J. Barton Mitchell takes the tragedy of Poe’s later years and transforms him into a haunted soul, literally. Despite the darker aspects of the main character, this book is actually quite a bit of fun, as the creators offer up something more akin to a cross between Sherlock Holmes and B.P.R.D.. Read the rest of this entry »

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Swan Song

Posted by Don MacPherson on 11th May 2009

Cassaday coverCalero coverIrredeemable #2
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Peter Krause
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover artists: John Cassaday/Dennis Calero
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

I’m not in the habit anymore of writing a full review of a comic book when I’d written one up for a previous issue the month before, but after reading this second episode of Mark Waid’s deconstruction of the concept of Superman, I realized I had a lot to say about it and that this marked a significant improvement over the storytelling in the first issue. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Irredeemable #1; it featured entertaining, solid storytelling. But with the second issue, writer Mark Waid and artist Peter Krause really step up their performances. One could dismiss Irredeemable as the latest in a series of dark takes on the super-hero genre, but Waid and Krause offer up some novel character concepts amid a commentary on Superman comics of yesteryear. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nastier Than a Speeding Bullet

Posted by Don MacPherson on 1st April 2009

Irredeemable #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Peter Krause
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover artists: John Cassaday/Barry Kitson
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

While last week’s launch of Boom! Studios line of licensed comics for younger readers was a pivotal moment for the publisher (and by all indications, a successful one), the debut of this new super-hero genre title from editor-in-chief and industry star Mark Waid is clearly important to Boom as well. It’s certainly put a strong promotional push behind it, and it’s even recruited writer Grant Morrison to extol the virtues of Waid and Irredeemable. He lauds Waid as an innovator, dismissing the label of Waid as someone whose sensibilities are mired in the Silver Age of super-heroes. I both agree and disagree with Morrison’s assessment. Yes, there’s more to Mark Waid’s writing than simple love for the comics and characters of yesteryear. But no, Irredeemable doesn’t represent an exciting new vision of the genre. We’ve been down this road before, and that’s OK. I like what Waid offers in this comic, but while it’s dark in tone, it’s not exactly cutting-edge stuff either. Not so far, anyway. Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s Time to Play the Music…

Posted by Don MacPherson on 23rd March 2009

The Muppet Show #1
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Roger Langridge
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Deron Bennett
Editor: Paul Morrissey
Publisher: Boom! Studios/Boom Kids imprint
Price: $2.99 US

This is a big comic. I just have a feeling about it. I suspect this new release, as well as this week’s The Incredibles #1, will make a wider audience of comics readers take notice of Boom! Studios. This comic book will bring cartoonist Roger (Fred the Clown) Langridge to the attention of new readers and new fans. And the high quality of this comic book has the potential to really impress readers of all ages, those who grew up with the variety show upon which this is based and even those with only a passing familiarity with Jim Henson’s Muppets. As I read this, I smiled, even chortled a bit. I was impressed with the visuals and surprised by a slightly melancholy quality in the plot as well. I was struck by the feeling that Langridge’s take on The Muppet Show was just special, capturing the kind of magic and mirth that have made these characters icons of pop culture. Read the rest of this entry »

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One Is the Loneliest Number

Posted by Don MacPherson on 2nd March 2009

The Last One trade paperback
Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Artist/Cover artist: Dan Sweetman
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Karen Berger
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $24.99 US

Boom! Studios is joining the ranks of such publishers as Fantagraphics, IDW Publishing and Image Comics by collecting out-of-print, creator-owned work that deserves to find a new audience in the 21st century. The Last One was a six-part series published under DC’s Vertigo imprint in 1993. Readers of more unusual modern comics fare might find The Last One a little reminiscent of Peter David’s Fallen Angel, but really, its parentage is pretty clear. On the one hand, it’s clearly writer J.M. DeMatteis’s baby; the writer has demonstrated a penchant for writing surreal stories of spirituality and the supernatural. DeMatteis is the father, and Vertigo founder and editor Karen Berger is the mother, as this book boasts some of the same genetic material as the imprint’s original flagship title, Sandman. In any case, The Last One is a mature, thoughtful book full of smaller stories that make up the larger one of a divine being’s slow journey towards realization and fulfillment. Read the rest of this entry »

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Thornton Wilder Meets Isaac Asimov

Posted by Don MacPherson on 31st January 2009

Eureka #1
Writers: Andrew Cosby & Brendan Hay
Artist: Diego Barreto
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Cover artists: J.K. Woodward & Dennis Calero
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

I have seen a few episodes of the Sci Fi Network series upon which this comic book is based; my wife and I are the most casual of viewers, but we both enjoy the show for its sense of humor and its interesting mix of police-procedural and science-fiction elements. Among the various TV shows that find their way into the comic-book medium, Eureka makes perfect sense as a candidate for such a transition, as it’s likely the comics medium and this quirky show share a common demographic of genre fans. This comic captures the spirit and dialogue beats of the show nicely. However, I wonder if a four-issue limited series, which will come to a total of $15.96 US, can really compete with an episode of the show, as the latter costs the audience nothing more than its cable package. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ever Say Never

Posted by Don MacPherson on 19th January 2009

Never as Bad as You Think hardcover graphic novella
Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Artist/Colors: Stuart Immonen
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $15.99 US

I wasn’t aware this book was in the works, but I’m pleased to have finally learned about it. Boom! has collected an experiment in comics storytelling by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen into a handsome hardcover volume. Never as Bad as You Think (originally published online) is slated for release this week, and I suspect it might fly under the radar, given its unconventional nature and limited publicity. The Immonens have taken a challenging storytelling exercise — each script is prompted by a random keyword — and offered up a thoroughly amusing series of vignettes. The best thing Never as Bad has going for it is its surreal script, but it’s also an opportunity to for fans of Stuart Immonen’s super-hero projects (from Legion of Super-Heroes to Ultimate Spider-Man) to see him flex some different artistic muscles. There’s really only thing flaw to be found here, and it has nothing to do with the creators’ performance. Read the rest of this entry »

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