Monthly Archives: August 2018

Soul Survivor

Run Wild original hardcover graphic novel
Writer: K.I. Zachopoulos
Artist/Cover artist: Vincenzo Balzano
Letters: Deron Bennett
Editor: Sierra Hahn
Publisher: Boom! Studios/Archaia imprint
Price: $24.99 US/$32.99 CAN/18.99 UK

Boom!’s decision to absorb Archaia Studios five years ago was a blessing for the comics industry and the craft of sequential storytelling, as it ensured there would be a home for unconventional graphic novels such as this one. Archaia was always a niche publisher and remains so as an imprint, but it gives life to unique projects that will connect with a limited segment of the comics-loving audience. I completely understand why Run Wild found a home there, but unlike other recent Archaia releases, this book didn’t quite work for me. Run Wild is a hauntingly (literally) beautiful book, but it’s also nebulous and perplexing. I can definitely see its appeal, though, and I think fans of the films of Hayao Miyazaki will recognize elements they’ll truly enjoy and appreciate here.

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Quoth the Raven…

The Sandman Universe #1
Writers: Neil Gaiman, Simon Spurrier, Kat Howard, Nalo Hopkinson & Dan Watters
Artists: Bilquis Evely, Tom Fowler, Dominike “Domo” Stanton, Max Fiumara & Sebastian Fiumara
Colors: Mat Lopes
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover artists: Jae Lee, Dave McKean, Jill Thompson, Jim Lee, Sam Kieth, P. Craig Russell & David Mack
Editor: Molly Mahan
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo imprint
Price: $4.99 US

I find myself quite torn after reading this comic. I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman’s work, and I was introduced to his writing through his landmark Sandman series. And while I acknowledge there’s tremendous potential in the characters and concepts he created and adapted in that book, I’m not entirely sure we need more of this material “curated” by Gaiman and written by others. This one-shot is something of a mixed bag, with some strong storytelling and artwork along with some that just didn’t grab me. Ultimately, The Sandman Universe #1 is a promotional book, teasing readers with what are essentially previews of a new line of Vertigo titles set to debut this fall. It was successful in that regard, though, in that it piqued my curiosity about two of the four new books spotlighted here.

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Flea-Market Finds: Superboy #226

Superboy #226
“The Dazzling Debut of Dawnstar!” & “Five Against One”
Writer: Paul Levitz
Pencils: James Sherman & Mike Nasser (Michael Netzer)
Inks: Jack Abel
Colors: Liz Berube
Letters: Bill Morse
Cover artist: Mike Grell
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover price: 30 cents

My local comics retailer is blowing out its back issues and sets for half off this week, so I couldn’t resist stopping by to peruse the long boxes. I found a complete set of Peter David’s Atlantis Chronicles (which should make for an interesting read in the lead-up to the new Aquaman movie) and the first 20 or so issues of Power Pack. I also happened upon a bundle of four Legion of Super-Heroes comics from the 1970s, and among them was this gem: the first appearance of Dawnstar. I’d never read it before, so I was keen to delve into the character’s origin. To my surprise, though, writer Paul Levitz really doesn’t offer much in the way of background for her in her introduction, but more disconcerting is how he chooses to depict the better-known heroes’ reactions to her. Given the clunky nature of the plot and characterization in this main story, I’m honestly surprised Dawnstar turned to have any kind of staying power in the DC Universe.

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Quick Critiques – Aug. 4, 2018

In Metropolis, criminals try to stay hidden from an all-seeing, all-hearing hero, while at the bottom of the ocean, a reanimated but foggy assassin undertakes a recovery mission that will haunt him. In New York, champions of justice gather with thieves and killers to discuss the fate of the universe, and in a different version of New York, comrades in arms gather for a reunion that turns into a rescue mission. I examine them all in this latest collection of capsule reviews.

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The Germination Situation

The Seeds #1
“1. Before We Go”
Writer: Ann Nocenti
Artist/Cover artist/Letters: David Aja
Editor: Karen Berger
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics/Berger Books
Price: $3.99 US

This dystopian, sci-fi comic reads as though it’s drawing heavily from current events, turning relevant socio-economic themes of today on their ear in a dark vision of tomorrow, but it’s entirely possible this concept predates the era of Trump and Brexit politics. If that’s the case, then writer Ann Nocenti and artist David Aja couldn’t have found a better cultural backdrop against which to release this morose exploration of society. The script isn’t just cynical. It’s dripping with cynicism, slathered in it. And as a cynic, I loved it. The book also speaks to me as a journalist, as one of the central characters struggles to balances the struggles of the business of news with the idealism that’s inherent in what I see as a calling, not just a profession.

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