Category Archives: Reviews – Image

High in the Sky

Void Trip #1
Writer: Ryan O’Sullivan
Artist/Colors: Plaid Klaus
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Cover artists: Klaus (regular)/Sarah Suhng, Caspar Wijngaard, Alessandro Vitti & Mike McKone (variants)
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99 US

Image Comics is such a radically different beast than what it was when it launched a quarter century (!) ago. Them, it was home to creator-owned properties by some of the most popular talents in the industry, but it was basically a super-hero publisher, offering the same sort of fare as Marvel and DC. It’s finally evolved into what it was meant to be: a haven for creator-owned work across many genres, both crafted by the best-known writers and artists in the industry but also by new names. Void Trip falls into the latter category. Image has had such a solid track record as of late, it makes me want to sample all of its titles, but if there’s any problem with its publishing plans, it’s that it’s pumping out too many comics. Nevertheless, I like to try something new from Image from time to time, and I’m thoroughly pleased to chose to peruse Void Trip. This sci-fi comedy reads like someone took elements from the Star Wars franchise, threw them into a blender with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and hit purée.

Continue reading… →

The Mage Runner

Mage, Book Three: The Hero Denied #0
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Matt Wagner
Colors: Brennan Wagner
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $1.99 US

I have to admit I’m only a casual reader of Matt Wagner’s comics. I’m broadly aware of the two creator-owned properties for which he’s known – Mage and Grendel – but I’ve read only a few comics from the various runs of those titles over the decades. There’s no denying there’s a fanbase out there for this material, though, so Wagner’s choice to return to Kevin Matchstick and company isn’t surprising. What drew me to this comic wasn’t so much my past exposure to Mage or the strength of Wagner’s work, but the cheap price, to be honest. While entertaining and diverting, it manage to hook me, so I don’t know if I’ll be moved to seek out subsequent issues.

Creepy little monsters still lurk in the dark corners of the world, and a new generation of heroes has arisen to deal with them, heroes like the hover-boarding millennial known as “the Steeze.” The cocky, young champion encounters Kevin Matchstick and is determined to show the old-timer a thing or two, but it doesn’t take the experienced hero long to teach him a thing or two. Still, the Steeze struts away, confident he saved the day, but Kevin knows the new generation hasn’t even scratched the surface of nefarious threats out there.

Continue reading… →

The Biggest Oozer

VariantSnotgirl #1
Writer/Variant cover artist: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Artist/Cover artist: Leslie Hung
Colors: Mickey Quinn
Letters: Maré Odomo
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99 US

Bryan Lee O’Malley is, of course, best known for his Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels from Oni Press from several years ago. I appreciated the Pilgrim and acknowledged the high level of craft that went into them, but I had difficulty in connecting with the slacker characters. I was well beyond the irresponsible, early-20s stage of my life that defined the Pilgrim characters. I related much more to the protagonist in his one-off Seconds graphic novel last year. With Snotgirl, O’Malley has crafted another immature, 20-something lead, but to my surprise, I found her much more fascinating. While she’s far from an admirable character, there are aspects of her character with which the reader can identify. It’s an unusual exploration of the Millennial generation, but it’s also an intelligent examination of a superficial and lost soul.

Continue reading… →

War, What Is It Good For?

Princess at Midnight original graphic novella
Writer/Artist: Andi Watson
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $5.99 US

It’s coming on the three-year anniversary that my family moved into our first (and, we expect, last) house. We absolutely love it. It’s a four-bedroom home, and we only use two of them regularly (one for the wife and me, and the other for the boy). One is a guest bedroom, and that leaves one more. It’s my home office, or at least, it was always intended as such, but it’s only recently that I really set out to make that a reality. I assembled a new bookshelf and have been finally organizing all the softcover and hardcover books — mostly comics — and am working to make it a little haven for myself. As such, I’ve been unpacking a lot of books that have been sitting in boxes since the move three years ago, and I’m rediscovering a lot of interesting gems — books I hadn’t thought about in a long time and even some I hadn’t even read.

Princess at Midnight is one of those falling into the latter category. I’ve always loved Andi Watson’s work, though when I think of his storytelling, it’s usually things such as Slow News Day and Dumped that come to mind, more mature, character-driven works. Still, Watson is an adept teller of stories about and for children, and Princess at Midnight, published by Image Comics in 2008, stands out as a charming example of that strength. It’s actually a surprising book, as it’s not about what one expects at first. It seems to be about a little girl’s dream-haven away from her annoying twin and her unconventional parents, but instead, it proves to be a political story that casts the little girl as the antagonist in her own story.

Continue reading… →

Which Witch Is Which?

Last week saw the release of a number of impressive and strong samples of comics storytelling, and two of the titles I picked up, both debut issues for new series, had a lot in common: witches. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Wytches were both engaging reads delving into witchcraft, supernatural lore and the overwhelming challenges of adolescence, but they were also far from carbon copies of one another.

Continue reading… →

Winds of War

White Death original softcover graphic novel
Writer: Robbie Morrison
Artist: Charlie Adlard
Publisher: AiT/PlanetLar
Price: $12.95 US

I see Image Comics released a hardcover edition of this graphic novel at the end of August. I didn’t pick it up, mainly because I already have a softcover edition of the book. Indy publisher AiT/PlanetLar originally published this creator-owned graphic novel back in 2002, and I was a devotee of AiT/PlanetLar books at the time. I’ve been writing comics reviews for a long time, and I recalled I already penned some thoughts about this book 12 years ago. Rather than write a new review, I found the original review, which I’ve reproduced below (with a couple of minor edits). When I was reviewing on TheFourthRail.com at the time, I wrote many more reviews each week and wrote in a much more brief format than I do today.

When I saw this solicited in Previews, I figured, ‘What the hey.’ I enjoyed Adlard’s art, and publisher Larry Young has a solid track record. I’ve been wanting to wade into more original graphic novels and collected editions lately anyway. Little did I know I was ordering one of the most amazing war comics I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Those who enjoyed and appreciated the craft behind Garth Ennis’s recent War Story one-shots will be awe-struck by the quality and vivid storytelling and characterization to be found in White Death.

Continue reading… →

Exorcize Regimen

Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta #1
“A Darkness Surrounds Him”
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist/Cover artist: Paul Azaceta
Colors: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Letters: Rus Wooton
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment
Price: $2.99 US

There are a number of creators whose new works I’ll check out no matter what, and both writer Robert Kirkman and artist Paul Azaceta are on that list. While they don’t necessarily reinvent the wheel with this new horror-genre comic, they blend misdirection, mood and characterization to deliver a solidly entertaining read. Kirkman always seems as though he’s in tune with the pulse of pop culture, and the possession premise at the heart of this new series ought to make the most of that paranormal trend that’s still prevalent today. I’ve never been terribly interested in the exorcism niche of the horror genre — I’ve never seen The Exorcist — but what held my interest here was the challenging construction of this inaugural issue as well as Kirkman’s decision to ignore cliché and convention specifically when it comes to the development of a key character.

Continue reading… →

Voice Lessons

A Voice in the Dark #s 1 & 2
“Blood Makes Noise” parts 1 & 2
Writer/Artist: Larime Taylor
Editor: Dannty Donovan
Publisher: Image Comics/Top Cow Productions
Price: $3.99 US each

That’s right, I’m back after a long hiatus. The dormancy of Eye on Comics doesn’t stem from site issues, personal illness or some ’round-the-world excursion or anything. More pressing, everyday concerns seemed to trump my writing about comics, and honestly, I think I was a bit burnt out on it. But after writing yesterday’s review, I felt re-energized, and with the snow melting, I needn’t worry about snowblowing, wood-fetching or deck-clearing. What follows below is a review I had mostly written when the Big Break happened, so I’m behind a bit on the series. But don’t let that mislead you into thinking the comic book discussed here is one that should be overlooked.

I’ll be honest: the Top Cow brand isn’t one to which I pay much attention. Defined by its titles that represent the Kewl excesses of the 1990s (such as Cyberforce and The Darkness), Top Cow Productions has rarely offered a title that’s really held my interest (at least of the ones I’ve sampled over the past 20 years). So when I saw the promotional material in my Inbox for this particular Top Cow book, I didn’t expect much. Still, I decided to take a few minutes to “thumb through” a digital copy of the first issue. A few minutes turned into 30, as I drank in the first issue and then the second. And then I read a message from the writer/artist/creator in the back of the first issue. The broad concept cover blurb quote — describing A Voice in the Dark, as Dexter meets Strangers in Paradise — isn’t a bad description, but it really only scratches the surface of this powerful, character-driven sample of storytelling.

Continue reading… →

Waste Management

Variant coverLazarus #1
“Family, Part One”
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist/Letters/Cover artist: Michael Lark
Colors: Santi Arcas
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I haven’t been watching advance solicitations as of late. Often, new titles will turn up on the shelves of my local comic shop and take me by surprise. “I can’t believe So And So had a new book out and I didn’t know” or “Wow, that comic is out already? I thought it was months away.” I was vaguely aware of the approaching release of Lazarus #1, but I had absolutely no idea what it was about, and I honestly, I didn’t care. It was a new comic by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, creators whose past works I’ve enjoyed, notably their previous collaboration on Gotham Central. I was eager to sample a new creator-owned work from them, and the notion they might disappoint never entered my mind. And they didn’t disappoint, but they did take me off-guard. I was expecting something else, something more grounded, something more rooted in or at least connected to the crime genre, given their previous projects. But Lazarus is, if described in broad terms, a science-fiction book, or, more specifically, a dystopian book. It’s certainly a smart book, and it has some strong messages.

Continue reading… →

The Kids Are All Might

Jupiter’s Legacy #1
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Frank Quitely
Colors/Letters: Peter Doherty
Cover artists: Quitely/Bryan Hitch/Dave Johnson/Phil Noto/J. Scott Campbell/Christian Ward
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99 US

While still boasting an over-the-top approach, Jupiter’s Legacy mercifully seems a bit more toned down in its more extreme approach to the super-hero genre than Millar’s other more recent super-hero satire/deconstruction projects, such as Kick-Ass and Nemesis. There’s a lot more subtext to be found here, as Millar isn’t really telling a super-hero story. The intent is clearly of a cultural and socio-political commentary on the state of America in the 21st century. There’s an interesting balance of hope and cynicism to be found here that allows Jupiter’s Legacy to stand apart from other “Millarworld” fare. Mind you, while the themes and ideas are engaging and thought-provoking, what the storytelling boasts in the way of subtext, it lacks in terms of subtlety. But that’s OK… who’s expecting subtlety from a Millar script? Also coming as no surprise is the strength of Frank Quitely’s linework. Though I wish his character designs included a more diverse array of body types, he imbues the cast with powerful presences and intensity.

Continue reading… →

Don’t Look a Gift Horseman in the Mouth

Ghost variantEast of West #1
“One: Out of the Wasteland”
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist/Cover artist: Nick Dragotta
Colors: Frank Martin
Letters: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.50 US

At my local comic shop, there’s a slightly unusual entry on my pull list: “Anything by Jonathan Hickman from Image.” I don’t need to know what a new Hickman creator-owned title is about; I don’t need to know who the artist is — I know it’s going to be something I want to read, and East of West continues that track record. It’s certainly an ambitious storytelling experiment. Hickman is no stranger to developing alternate histories in which to set his stories, but this transformation of America into seven separate nations seems particularly ambitious. But the story’s not really about an America moulded by prophecy, the Civil War and spiritualism. What this is really about is the apocalypse — or to be more precise, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I really don’t think the hero of the story has even presented himself yet, but I’m definitely captivated by the intensity of the plotting and characterization. Hickman plays around with genre to great effect, but it does make for a complex and challenging read at times. Fortunately, it’s a challenge well worth taking on.

Continue reading… →

You Don’t Know Jake

Where Is Jake Ellis? #1
Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Artist/Cover artist: Tonci Zonjic
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.50 US

Who Is Jake Ellis? was one of the most fun, intelligently written and stylistically impressive comic books I read last year, so I was eagerly anticipating the property’s return with this second limited series. Writer Nathan Edmondson has crafted an international intrigue comic that feels like something Greg Rucka could have written, spiced up with superhuman/supernatural elements. It’s interesting to note the indicia page for this debut issue labels it as the sixth chapter of an ongoing story, but a shift in the dynamics and a jump ahead in time from where we left off with Who Is Jake Ellis? allows this to stand on its own. It’s also quite accessible. While I definitely got a charge by revisiting with these characters and seeing how they’ve changed, Edmondson offers a two-page “Previously in…” spread consisting of pages from the previous series, a novel way to bring new readers up to speed and to refresh the memories of those of us who’ve been along for the ride from the start. There’s a fun and undeniable Jason Bourne riff at play in this book, but the fantastic elements Edmondson’s added and the understated intensity that artist Tonci Zonjic instills in the characters set it apart as well.

Continue reading… →

Let’s Talk About Sax

Variant coverHappy! #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Darick Robertson
Colors: Richard P. Clark
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover artists: Robertson (regular)/Michael Allred (variant)
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I’m always up for a new Grant Morrison project, and it’s nice to see him return to creator-owned projects after such a long stay in the DC Universe. That he opted to offer new, original work through Image Comics goes a long way to solidify the publisher as the home of new, unconventional and strong creator-owned work. The core premise of this new series — the juxtaposition of the hard-boiled crime genre and a cartoony fantasy element — is fairly simple and on the surface, seemingly clever. But the two disparate sides of Happy! just don’t seem to mesh well. Furthermore, the gory, unrelenting scenes of underworld violence — even before the opposite element comes into play — turned me off. Morrison plunges us in the middle of a situation in which a group of awful people do awful things to one another, and what’s left out is a reason for the reader to care about any of them.

Continue reading… →

Girl, It-terrupted

It Girl and the Atomics #s 1 & 2
“Dark Streets, Snap City”
Writer: Jamie S. Rich
Artist: Mike Norton
Colors: Allen Passalaqua
Letters: Crank!
Cover artists: Michael Allred/Darwyn Cooke (variant for #2)
Editors: Jamie S. Rich & Eric Stephenson
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99 US each

The first issue of this series was released earlier this month, and writer Jamie S. Rich was kind enough to send along a review copy, along with an advance review file of the second installment. I’ve always enjoyed Rich’s writing, but I approached these comics with some trepidation. While Mike Allred’s Madman comics (from which these characters hail) are understandably held up as examples of strong, unusual and fun comics storytelling, I’ve never really connected with Frank Einstein and his zany world. It’s not that I think they’re not well-crafted comics; it’s just that the surreal and loopy elements just didn’t seem to be my bag. Rich and artist Mike Norton certainly do a solid job of instilling some of those qualities into this spinoff book, but it comes off as a bit more accessible, not only in terms of plotting but in tone as well. This is a fun tribute to Silver Age super-hero comics, with a touch of 21st century culture and technology thrown in for good measure.

Continue reading… →

Pedometer of the Damned

The Walking Dead #100
“Something to Fear, Part Four”
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Charlie Adlard
Gray tones: Cliff Rathburn
Letters: Rus Wooton
Cover artists: Charlie Adlard, Marc Silvestri, Frank Quitely, Todd McFarlane, Sean Phillips, Bryan Hitch & Ryan Ottley
Editor: Sina Grace
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US/CAN ($9.99 US/CAN chromium cover)

What may be the best-selling North American comic book of the year is a fairly run-of-the-mill chapter of the long-running, popular zombie-apocalypse series, but it’s nevertheless a satisfying one for fans and followers. Kirkman’s focus here is on shock value. He tries to shock his readers with the casual callousness and corruption of a new villain. He tries to shock us by writing against the expectations he’s built up over the past few months. And he tries to shock the audience with the death of a major character. While the storytelling is visceral and effective, it’s not really shocking — at least not for those who have been paying attention over the course of the series.

Continue reading… →