Daily Archives: September 6, 2014

Quick Critiques – Sept. 6, 2014

Variant coverCloaks #1 (Boom! Studios)
by Caleb Monroe & Mariano Navarro

I need to make a point of paying attention when Boom! releases other four-part limited series such as this one. The publisher has scored with them in the past (Talent and The Foundation come to mind immediately), and now Cloaks is another such entertaining story. Cloaks fires on all cylinders. Writer Caleb Monroe has crafted a thoroughly (almost incredibly) likeable protagonist in the form of teenage street magician Adam D’Aquino. His sense of justice, his self-reliance, his love of people and his dazzling skills all combine to make a shining hero. In many ways, he’s a formulaic comics protagonist, but the conventional, arguably overused elements are quickly forgotten thanks to the character’s infectious appeal. The crime and intrigue elements are a lot of fun as well, and Monroe has done a good job of incorporating modern digital culture into the mix.

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… →

Altered Ego

Dryspell #1
Writer/Artist/Colors/Cover artist/Letters: Ken Krekeler
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

I have no idea why creator Ken Krekeler opted to call this series Dryspell, as the plot and ideas in this first issue don’t seem to connect with that term in any way, but I suppose it was a good choice. “Dryspell” was catchy enough of a title to grab my attention when Action Lab touched base by email to offer me a chance to look at a digital review copy. What I found was a well-designed, dark and offbeat take on the super-hero genre. Mind you, these more mature spins on the caped crowd are a dime a dozen these days, but Krekeler’s approach to both the art and the script really draw in the audience. I’ve found that lately, I’ve been attracted to darker, bleaker bits of fiction for my entertainment fixes, and Dryspell certainly fits the bill, though it boasts just a hint of black humor, of self-deprecation that helps it stand apart, if only a little bit. The other thing about the book that’s intriguing is how surprisingly relatable it is, as it touches on professional ennui, a sense of being directionless in life, and the challenge of finding and staying true to oneself. I’m at a point in my life at which I have a lot going for me — family, a home, a career I enjoy — but it wasn’t always that way. Anyone who’s felt adrift in his or her own life will find Dryspell to be something of a mirror, even if it’s a reflection of the past.

Continue reading… →