Monthly Archives: February 2018

The Fate of the Four

The Terrifics #1
“Meet the Terrifics, Part 1 of 3”
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Cover artists: Reis & Prado
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

While I’m somewhat leery of the various new DC launches in the wake of its Dark Nights: Metal event, this new series stood out from the pack from the first moment it was promoted. The title itself and the diverse quartet of characters offered a lot of promise, but most interesting is the fact that DC has essentially crafted its own Fantastic Four title while Marvel has let its flagship founding property languish for years. Writer Jeff Lemire has successfully brought together these unconnected characters in a plausible fashion, and he’s offered up a wonderfully traditional superhero adventure. While I think a lighter and simpler tone would have suited the visuals better, Ivan Reis delivers some exciting and expressive artwork that reinforces the wondrous and impossible circumstances in which these characters find themselves.

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Road Runner

The Wilds #1
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Emily Pearson
Colors: Marissa Louise
Letters: Jim Campbell
Cover artists: Pearson (Cover A)/Natasha Alterici (Cover B)
Editor: Danny Lore
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Price: $3.99 US

At first glance, The Wilds might seem just like you have another post-apocalyptic/zombie-drama comic, in which it’s firmly entrenched. However, this comic book is crafted by women; the writer, artist and colorist are all women, and that helps to set this title apart from others like it. The focus is squarely on the female characters, even though they’re not necessarily in charge. They do stand out as the strongest players in this drama, though. The central conflict here is about responsibility to one’s community versus responsibility to oneself and one’s family. That character-driven aspect of the book is surprisingly relatable, even for those of us who haven’t had to live or survive in a zombie apocalypse.

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Bursting into Song

Oblivion Song #1
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist/Cover artist: Lorenzo De Felici
Colors: Annalisa Leoni
Letters: Rus Wooton
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

Oblivion Song reads a bit like what might have unfolded had the entire town of Hawkins been sucked into the Upside Down in Stranger Things instead of just Will and Barb. But whereas Stranger Things was very much about atmosphere and character interaction, Oblivion Song, due to its more ambitious premise, is much more sociopolitical in its approach to storytelling. There are strong characterization elements as well, but the book, while boasting several strengths, is definitely most interesting thanks to its focus on the effect on the world outside the monstrous, surreal realm where the more action-oriented moments take place. This was a strong debut Issue, and writer Robert Kirkman continues to demonstrate that he’s a novel, skilled and intelligent storyteller.

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What Happens in Vegas…

Doctor Strange: Damnation #1
Writers: Nick Spencer & Donny Cates
Artist/Colors: Rod Reis
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy’s Travis Lanham
Cover artists: Reis (regular); Phil Noto; Ron Lim; Javier Garron; Greg Smallwood; and John Tyler Christopher, Alan Davis & Mark Farmer (variants)
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $4.99 US

It was the cover and interior artwork that drew my attention to this four-part limited series. The number of Marvel titles I’ve been reading has diminished since the publisher stopped including digital download codes for the same copy in each title, but it’s since reinstated them. I decided to peruse the pages of this book, knowing nothing of the premise. I wish I hadn’t bothered. Writers Nick Spencer and Donny Cates offer a story delving Into the aftermath of the Secret Empire crossover event; it’s a puzzling move on Marvel’s part, given how unpopular Secret Empire was. Some of the ideas in this followup plot are interesting, but the execution is lacking and clumsy. The visuals are lovely but lacking in clarity as well.

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Letter Bugs – A Blast From My Past

Once in a blue moon, I run a feature here on the site spotlighting letters penned by comics industry professionals back when they were fans. Generally, I do this when I happen upon such a piece in an old comics letter column in a back issue I’m reading. However, lots of people have been logging such letters in the digital age, and it’s much easier to find these messages from people of creative of influence in the medium.

So, the other day I was Googling my own name (as just about all of us are wont to do from time to time), and I happened upon something from my past of which I had no memory. Thanks to the Grand Comics Database, I discovered that I had a letter printed in a Superman comic published in late 1988 (though I’m not suggesting I’m of any influence in the industry).

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Offsprings Eternal

Jimmy’s Bastards Volume 1: Trigger Warning trade paperback
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Russ Braun
Colors: John Kalisz & Guy Major
Letters: Rob Steen
Cover artist: Dave Johnson
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Price: $14.99 US

I have a confession to make: despite my overall appreciation of genre fiction, I have never been a fan of the James Bond films. Not a single one. It’s not the espionage genre that puts me off, per se, but something about the Bond character and concept itself. With Jimmy’s Bastards, writer Garth Ennis plays around with the conventions and clichés of Bond, and his spotlighting of the foibles and flaws of that classic character made for a particularly receptive reader in me.

Since this is an Ennis story, to describe it as being over-the-top would be a massive understatement. Do you find the Kingsman movies too understated? Then Jimmy’s Bastards is probably what you’ve been waiting for. Ennis explores the 21st century culture of offence and sensitivity through the lens of an archetype that represents white privilege and chauvinism. He tears down both sides as he is wont to do. The result is something that makes a Bill Maher diatribe seem mild and politically correct. As such, Jimmy’s Bastards isn’t for everyone, but there is some interesting commentary to be found amid the excesses here.

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The Art of the Steal

The ever-vigilant Terry Beatty, professional comic artist and comic art collector, posted links to “original” art listings on eBay through his Facebook profile over the weekend, calling into question their authenticity. Beatty has an excellent eye and track record for this sort of thing, and as a collector of comic art myself, I’ve always been interested in the field and instances of fraud.

I clicked on one of the eBay links Beatty posted and then on the list of all items this particular seller — collections_of_art — was offering through the auction site. I was immediately drawn to what was reportedly a sketch by the late, great Superman artist Curt Swan, listed for $999 US. It’s been more than three decades since I saw the original version of that so-called sketch, but I immediately recognized it as a figure from cover art from the classic “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” story by Alan Moore and Swan.

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Flashback: The Priest-hood of the Panther

I haven’t had a chance to go see the Black Panther movie yet due to circumstances beyond my control — such as weekend company and my continued recuperation from a serious arm injury — but I’m hopeful I’ll get a chance to visit Wakanda in the next day or two.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about the leadup to the movie is the mainstream media exposure of the many creators will help to shape the character over the decades. Writer Don McGregor, for example, has received a fair bit of attention for his contributions to Black Panther lore and how they’ve made their way onto the silver screen and into the minds of a much wider audience.

Personally, I’m most thrilled that writer Christopher Priest has also enjoyed a bolstered profile, both in the comics industry and beyond, for his contributions to the Panther mythos, many of which are also reflected in director Ryan Coogler’s screen adaptation. That got me thinking about how I came to be familiar with Priest’s unconventional and challenging writing, thanks to encounters with him on Usenet (look it up, younger readers) in the 1990s and recommendations from online friends.

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Love Notion Undermined

Death of Love #1
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist/Cover artist: Donal DeLay
Colors: Omar Estévez & Felipe Sobreiro
Letters: Rachel Deering
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99 US

It may seem fitting that this comic book about the challenges of looking for love is being launched on Valentine’s Day. But this is no romance comic. If you’re looking for a touching love story this week, might I suggest checking out Bingo Love, an original graphic novel also being released by Image Comics this week. Nevertheless, Death of Love #1 is timely in its release, but not because it’s Valentine’s Day. Instead, its relevance flows from how it touches on relationships, misnomers about the “Battle of the Sexes,” and the #MeToo movement. Writer Justin Jordan offers a spot-on portrayal of a pitiful and cowardly guy who feels the universe owes him love. I have to admit that one of the reasons I was so drawn in by the script was because of how much I saw myself in it — or at least a past version of myself. This inaugural issue of Death of Love isn’t about love but rather about fear. The more fantastic premise that reveals Itself by the end of the issue isn’t entirely clear, and on the surface, it would seem to sidestep the point of responsibility. But given the clear indications that the main character is His Own Worst Enemy in this story, I suspect the overall theme will return to a grounded and more evolved perspective.

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Bear Necessity

My Boyfriend Is a Bear original graphic novel
Writer: Pamela Ribon
Artist/Colors/Cover artist: Cat Farris
Letters: Saida Temofonte
Editors: Ari Yarwood & Charlie Chu
Publisher: Oni Press
Price: $19.99 US/$24.99 CAN

Some of the best comics I’ve been reading lately– be it Tom King’s Batman or Tee Franklin’s Bingo Love — have been romance comics. So perhaps it shouldn’t have come as such a surprise to me how compelling, thought-provoking and amusing My Boyfriend Is a Bear proved to be to me. It’s one of those rare projects that poses a challenge for critics such as myself in that it defies description. The publisher has labeled it as a romantic comedy, and while it certainly is funny at times, I think that label falls well short of conveying the unusual and intelligent qualities of this book. It’s really more of a romantic fable. Writer Pamela Ribon eschews cliched notions of couplehood and explores things from an extraordinary and truly different angle. She delves into comfort and kindness, into oddities and acceptance. I’ll be honest — I can’t say I fully understand the central message of this graphic novel. Maybe it’s not meant to be that clearly defined or understood. It’s undeniably entertaining and prompts its audience consider relationships, happiness and the potential that we settle to achieve social structures of the norm.

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Killing Time

Action Comics #996
“Booster Shot, Part IV”
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Will Conrad
Colors: Ivan Nunes
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artists: Dan Jurgens & Trevor Scott (regular)/Dustin Nguyen (variant)
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I started reading this series again for the “Oz Effect” story arc, which piqued my interest and impressed with its artwork. I continued to read because this followup arc, “Booster Shot,” offered the promise of a classic team-up tale, and new Booster Gold artwork from the character’s creator, Dan Jurgens. And at first, this title delivered. But four issues into this story, we’re on our third artist, and plot hasn’t really advanced in any appreciable way. It feels as though the approaching milestone for the series is dictating the pacing of the plot, rather than any focus on storytelling.

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