Eye on Comics

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Archive for the 'Reviews – IDW' Category

Critical Hit

Posted by Don MacPherson on 22nd May 2017

Torpedo Volume One trade paperback
Writer: Enrique Sanchez Abuli
Artists: Alex Toth & Jordi Bernet
Translation: Jimmy Palmiotti
Cover artist: Bernet
Letters: Amauri Osorio
Reprint editor: Scott Dunbier
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $17.99 US

The manager at my local comic shop pointed out he had a couple of discounted Torpedo books on the store’s clearance racks, and I’ve long been interested in curious about the work, having enjoyed Bernet’s contributions to Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s Jonah Hex series from DC a few years back. I plunked down my cash and happily took it home. Not surprisingly, I found a beautifully illustrated book, boasting a fun pulp-strip approach and deliciously gritty, fitting artwork. But to my disappointment, the clumsy plotting and dark characterization proved to be incredibly off-putting. I was expecting the titular hitman character to be a cool anti-hero, but he’s far from that. In fact, it’s next to impossible to find any character that fits the role of protagonist in any of these short stories. Every player in these crime dramas is so unlikeable that I really didn’t enjoy spending any time in their worlds. Read the rest of this entry »

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Eyes Spies

Posted by Don MacPherson on 24th January 2015

VariantG.I.Joe: Snake Eyes, Agent of Cobra #1
“Snake Eyes, Agent of Cobra, Part One: The Tin Man”
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Paolo Villanelli
Colors: Joana Lafuente
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Cover artists: Villanelli (regular edition)/Drew Johnson (subscription variant)
Editor: Carlos Guzman
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $3.99 US

I had some G.I.Joe action figures when I was a kid in the early 1980s, even a playset/vehicle or two; my brother and I shared them, as I recall. I also have a soft spot for the G.I.Joe cartoon of the 1980s, not for the stories or characters so much, but for the fact each episode advertised an actual Marvel comic book on network TV. Overall, I wasn’t really a Joe fanboy; I read few of the comics, and I wasn’t obsessed with collecting the toys. In any case, I don’t have the strong nostalgic connection with the property that a lot of guys my age have, but a couple of friends have urged me to check out some of IDW’s Joe comics, remarking in particular that the Cobra series was particularly good. I still haven’t delved into that title, but I had a chance to peruse this title, which I presume is something of a spinoff title. The ever-silent Snake Eyes was always the coolest of the Joes, and the character was ground-breaking in a couple of ways. In a lot of ways, Snake Eyes epitomizes the Kewl, edgy characters of the 1990s, and he was ahead of the curve on that particular trend. Furthermore, in the world of comics, the character is probably most noteworthy as the star of the wordless issue of Marvel’s G.I.Joe that made so many readers aware of the possibilities inherent in and strengths of the visual medium. Agent of Cobra offered a premise that piqued my interest and offered a chance to dip my toes in the waters of this world once again. Overall, the storytelling here is solid, but it didn’t ignite a newfound interest in these characters either. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Beast Within

Posted by Don MacPherson on 13th June 2014

Chicacabra original graphic novel
Writer/Artist/Letters/Cover artist: Tom Beland
Editor: Chris Ryall
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $17.99 US

It’s no secret that I’m a major fan of Tom Beland’s storytelling. His autobiographical series True Story Swear to God is one of my all-time favorite comics and always will be. That I would delve into this first fictional creator-owned work was a given, but in advance of its release, I wondered if it would grab me as much as True Story did. The work for which Beland is best known is an incredibly personal one, about him, his wife, his family. He shared his greatest joys and fears in True Story, but Chicacabra isn’t about him. Beland has written fantastic fiction in the medium before, specifically for Marvel Comics. Those were thoroughly entertaining and fun comics as well, but they weren’t as personal, as revealing. But really, one wouldn’t expect any wholly resonant characterization from one-shots featuring long-standing super-hero icons that are designed to be static. So the question remained — would Chicacabra, which lingers on the edge of the super-hero genre, lack the same touching humanity?

The answer is a clear “no.” The cast of Chicacabra may not be real, but they are Tom Beland. As someone familiar with his work and who he is, the characters, inner conflicts and familial concepts here flow directly from Beland’s everyday world and experiences. The framework for those ideas is a piece of fantastic fiction about a young woman and a chance encounter with a powerful, near-mythological and majestic beast, but the story itself is about family and loss, about surviving and thriving. Beland’s message is abundantly clear: to isolate oneself from others is to die, and to connect with people is to live. Read the rest of this entry »

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Iron Curtain Call

Posted by Don MacPherson on 7th November 2011

Cold War #1
“The Damocles Contract, Part One: The Minds That Matter”
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: John Byrne
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Editor: Chris Ryall
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $3.99 US

John Byrne’s been quietly but consistently working away under the IDW Publishing banner for a couple of years now, and as a fan of much of his past work, I’ve been waiting for something new from him to try out. I didn’t really follow his Next Men when he was first working on it through Dark Horse Comics, and I’m not really a Trekkie and had little interest in his new Star Trek storytelling. So when I spied Cold War on the shelves of my local comic shop, I thumbed through the first few pages. I liked what I saw, so I decided to give it a try. Obviously, the most famous foray into the espionage genre is James Bond, but I’ve never cared for those flicks or read any of the Ian Fleming books. It was my hope Byrne’s take on the spy genre wouldn’t feature a similarly glamorous depiction. While the exciting introductory segment fulfilled that promise, the same can’t be said for the latter part of the book. Byrne hooked me with the opening scene, but the fishing line broke as he tried to reel me in. Read the rest of this entry »

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Back to the Future

Posted by Don MacPherson on 21st October 2011

Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #1
Writer: Chris Roberson
Pencils: Jeffrey Moy
Inks: Phil Moy
Colors: Romula Fajardo Jr.
Letters: Robbie Robbins
Cover artists: Phil Jimenez/Keith Giffen/Gabriel Rodriguez (variants)
Editor: Chris Ryall
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $3.99 US

Now this is more like it. Both of DC’s New 52 titles featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes have proven to be disappointments, which came as a surprise and a letdown to this longtime Legion fan. But the good news is writer Chris Roberson got the Legion right for this crossover limited series from IDW Publishing. He and his artists embrace the inherent fun and adventure of the traditional Legion and the original incarnation of Star Trek to arrive at a light, entertaining result. Mind you, not much happens in this inaugural issue, as Roberson’s script is understandably divided between two casts of characters dealing with the same problem from opposite ends, so I suspect the series will read better as a collected edition. But I was nevertheless tickled by the campy, nostalgic approach to these two properties and look forward to the second issue. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sicks, Dregs and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Posted by Don MacPherson on 5th October 2009

Angora Napkin original hardcover graphic novel
Writer/Artist: Troy Little
Editor: Carol Little
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $19.99 US

I always make a point of checking out creator Troy Little’s latest comic-book endeavors, not only because he hails from the same home province as your friendly neighborhood reviewer but because his storytelling on Chiaroscuro (originally self-published and later collected by IDW) was so compelling. Little offers up something quite different, both in concept and visually, with this latest project, and his experiences in the world of animation really show through in this oddball comedy about a raunchy girl band and its adventures in the realms of the supernatural.

Angora Napkin is really a study in contrasts. The main characters are in many ways charming innocents, but they’re also crude and depraved in their own way. The cartoony look of the character designs and the action initially suggests that the property was developed with younger readers in mind, but the humor and some of the dialogue demonstrate clearly that’s not the case. You never really know what to expect from Little and Angora Napkin and therein lies its strength and appeal. Read the rest of this entry »

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South of the Horror

Posted by Don MacPherson on 19th July 2009

The Last Resort #1
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artist/Colors: Giancarlo Caracuzzo
Letters: Chris Mowry
Cover artists: Amanda Conner/Darwyn Cooke
Editor: Scott Dunbier
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $3.99 US

The punny title and what seems like a proliferation of existing zombie comics (which there isn’t, if one considers the truly dominant genre in comics) made me somewhat wary of adding another $3.99 title to the already expensive array of comics I read on a regular basis. However, a glimpse of some interior art piqued my interest enough to get me to thumb through the comic at the shop, and that was enough to convince me to give it a try. I’m glad I did. Palmiotti and Gray certainly don’t reinvent the rotting, undead wheel with The Last Resort, but they do deliver a raunchy, fun take on the genre that acknowledges how cheesy and entertaining it can be. Giancarlo Caracuzzo’s art is rich in detail but isn’t realistic either, and it maintains the high levels of energy and personality in the script. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stark Raging Bad

Posted by Don MacPherson on 18th June 2009

The Hunter hardcover graphic novel
Writer: Donald Westlake
Artist/Adaptation/Cover artist: Darwyn Cooke
Editor: Scott Dunbier
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $24.99 US

One of the most anticipated announcements at Comic-Con International San Diego 2008 (and one of the most professionally run and applauded announcements) was that involving artist Darwyn Cooke’s next project, to be released by IDW Publishing. It’s fitting that on July 22, the first night of Comic-Con International San Diego 2009, marks the official release of that project. The Hunter is an adaptation of the novel of the same name penned by the late Donald Westlake under his Richard Stark nom de plume. I’ve not read any of Westlake’s work (though I have seen the movie Payback, which is based on The Hunter), but I am a big fan of Cooke’s work. I recently got the chance to peruse an advance reader’s copy of the graphic-novel adaptation, and I must confess I was incredibly excited about it. Mind you, I worried a bit that I might be venturing into one of those situations in which the anticipation and expectations for a project might eclipse the actual experience. Fortunately, this isn’t one of those occasions. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Uncanny FX-Man

Posted by Don MacPherson on 13th April 2008

FX #s 1 & 2
“Monkey Business” & “Things That Go… Crash… in the Night”
Writer: Wayne Osborne
Artist/Cover artist: John Byrne
Colors: Greg Cordier
Letters: John Workman
Editor: Tom Waltz
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $3.99 US each

There’s been a trend in some super-hero comics toward lighter, brighter, more fun action/adventure stories, harkening back to the Silver Age of the genre. Some have argued that it’s a good development, as super-heroes have grown so dark since the 1980s, perhaps alienating younger readers. Others put forth the notion that the shift is a step backwards, that it’s nothing more than a fad of nostalgia, pleasing the already insular audience and no one else. I think both arguments have some validity, but it’s a more complex cultural issue. Wayne Osborne and John Byrne’s FX is certainly in keeping with the afore-mentioned trend, but it bucks one of the problems that sometimes accompany the more traditional approach. With DC and Marvel comics, the retro approach can also bring with it a lot of continuity references, to the delight of longtime fans but the confusion of newer readers. With FX, the creators don’t have that issue to contend with, as it’s brand new, unattached to any shared universe. Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Little Book

Posted by Don MacPherson on 23rd January 2008

Chiaroscuro: Patchwork Book 1 hardcover graphic novel
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Troy Little
Publisher: IDW Publishing/Meanwhile Studios
Price: $24.99 US

When it was announced that IDW would publish Troy Little’s slightly surreal, slice-of-life comic, I was surprised but also elated. As someone who got on the Chiaroscuro train early on, I was eager to revisit the characters and story and to see how it progressed beyond the few individual episodes Little had self-published in the past. It had been quite some time since I delved into this odd story of urban ennui and angst, and everything felt new again as I thumbed through the pages. Little’s storytelling boasts a universal appeal, even in light of the eerie, tense moments in the plot. It’s easy for one to relate to the self-destructive protagonist’s frustration and depression. We’ve all experienced that horrendous mood when one wants to collapse in on oneself and hide from the world. The most interesting and challenging aspect of the story stems from the conflict, and it’s an internal one. The hero of the story is also the villain. Steven Patch is his own worst enemy, and while he’s not always the most likeable character, he is one with which the reader can empathize and identify. Little’s cartoony artwork exhibits a variety of eclectic influences, and while there’s an exaggerated tone to his figures, it’ his adept use of shadow and dead space that firmly establishes a strong, mature tone and an often palpably tense atmosphere as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zip Discussion

Posted by Don MacPherson on 14th November 2007

Zipper #1
Writer: Tom Waltz
Pencils: Casey Maloney
Inks: Stacie Ponder
Colors: Dusty Yee
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Cover artist: Adriano Loyola
Editor: Andrew Steven Harris
Publisher: IDW Publishing/Simmons Comics Group
Price: $3.99 US

My girlfriend and I are fans of A&E’s Gene Simmons Family Jewels, so I have to admit to some mild curiosity about the Simmons Comics Group line of titles from IDW, but this is the first one I’ve thumbed through. Simmons is credited with creating the core concept, and it’s a rather familiar one. We’ve seen the seemingly innocent alien becoming a hero before, but this time, there’s an intensity to the manifestation of his abilities and methods. That edgier side of the property is clearly a part of an effort to bring a Simmons, rock-‘n’-roll element to the story, but it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the premise. Still, the artwork is effective and eye-catching across the board, and I have to admit I was generally entertained from start to finish. I think what I most appreciated about the comic was the chance to sample the work of some new creators… or at least some creators who are new to me. Read the rest of this entry »

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