Monthly Archives: November 2018

‘Heart Aches

Ironheart #1
Writer: Eve L. Ewing
Artists: Kevin Libranda & Luciano Vecchio
Colors: Matt Milla
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy’s Clayton Cowles
Cover artists: Amy Reeder (regular)/Jen Bartel, Stephanie Hans, Jamal Campbell, Humberto Ramos, Luciano Vecchio and Skottie Young (variants)
Editors: Alanna Smith & Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $4.99 US

I thoroughly enjoyed Brian Michael Bendis’ work on the various Iron Man titles toward the end of his tenure at Marvel Entertainment, and Riri Williams was one of the more interesting characters to arise in the course of that run. At first, it felt a bit like Eve L. Ewing, a writer and academic who’s new to the medium of comics as far as I can ascertain, didn’t quite have a strong a sense of the beats and pacing necessary to hold my attention as well as Bendis (who, in all fairness, has been at this comics game a long time). But in the third act of this issue, everything came into focus. Ewing’s sense of who Riri is, what drives and what’s missing from her life all made for a compelling, relatable read. And the twist revealed at the end was something I should have seen coming, but didn’t — and I loved it.

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Artful Obsessions: Stretch Goal

When it comes to stretchable heroes in mainstream comics, my favorite has always been the Elongated Man. This is no doubt due in part to the fact that he was the first of the elastic heroes I encountered when I started reading comics as a kid, but I think there’s a little more to it that just being first out of the gate in my world. Plastic Man was goofier, yes, and Mr. Fantastic was smarter. But Ralph Dibny was always the most human, a regular guy. I’ve been loving Hartley Sawyer’s turn as the character seasons 4 and 5 of The Flash on TV.

Despite my appreciation of the character, my collection of original comic art was always devoid of an E-Man appearance… until now. But even better than Ralph’s addition to my collection is the fact that I’ve now got a board featuring the bright and attractive linework of artist Chuck Patton.

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Problem, Child

Elisabeth Dumn Against the Devils in Suits original graphic novella
Writer/Artist: Arabson
Adaptation: James Robinson
Colors: Anderson Cabral
Editor: Klebs Junior
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $5.99 US

This U.S., translated edition of a Brazilian work immediately grabbed my eye when I saw it on the new-releases shelf at my local comic shop recently. The slightly larger format stands out, but not nearly as much as the striking, simple and effective cover. The title was enticing as well, and when I got the book home, it didn’t disappoint. In many ways, Arabson’s story of familial betrayal and a battle with pure evil is rather conventional, hitting on a number tropes we’ve seen before. But the exaggerated, bombastic quality of the art and the palpable personality emanating from the titular character makes for a thoroughly entertaining read. Writer James Robinson has also done a solid job of making this story accessible to a North American audience without losing the flavor of the South American culture.

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Making a Mountain Out of a Maher, Bill

Professional curmudgeon and Real Time host Bill Maher enraged vast swaths of the comics community Saturday with a blog post that referenced the death of Stan Lee, arguing briefly that his cultural importance is over-inflated given the entertainment icon’s origins in a medium the comedian essentially deemed infantile. I suppose the kneejerk vitriol on social media spouted over Maher’s repudiation of a beloved, famed figure still being mourned and an entire entertainment medium is to be expected, but my reaction was thus:

So what?

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I’ll Take Self-Discovery for $800, Alex

Form of a Question original hardcover graphic novel
Writer: Andrew J. Rostan
Pencils/Cover artist: Kate Kasenow
Inks: Jenna Ayoub & Ilaria Catalani
Colors: Laura Langston
Letters: Deron Bennett
Editors: Sierra Hahn & Rebecca Taylor
Publisher: Boom! Studios/Archaia imprint
Price:$17.99 US/$22.99 CAN/13.50 UK

I’d never even heard tell of this graphic novel before it literally turned up on my doorstep, but as soon as I saw the review copy of this hardcover book, I was immediately taken with it. Who doesn’t love Jeopardy!? Andrew Rostan, a real-life champion from the show more than a decade ago, has crafted a compelling autobio comic here, framing his own development and psyche around his obsession with the game show. It’s certainly a good graphic novel, and it had the potential to be a great one. I found the stream-of-consciousness approach to the plotting and a vague, amorphous quality in Kate Kasenow’s artwork combined to make the book a little inaccessible at times, and there’s a suggestion about how and why Rostan’s tenure on the quiz show ended that I found disappointing and irksome. But overall, Form of a Question is an unconventional, engaging and challenging bit of storytelling that takes us into the mind of someone associated with an iconic bit of Americana, delving into the awkward, confused soul of someone who discovers that fulfilling a lifelong dream wasn’t the path to contentment he’d expected.

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Stan Lee, 1922-2018

When I discovered comic books in the late 1970s, I was immediately taken with DC titles. The reason might be quite simple: my favorite of my first three comics when recovering from a bad broken arm in hospital was Batman Family #19, probably because it was the thickest, offered more stories and featured more colorful characters than the other two (one of which was an issue of Amazing Spider-Man). I was squarely in the DC camp, and it would be a few years before a friend initiated me into Marvel and the House of Ideas.

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Quick Critiques – Nov. 11, 2018

I’ve been rather lax in recent weeks when it came to writing about comics, and now that I’ve gotten back to it, I found I’ve got plenty to say about stories and art being told in my favorite medium. With this set of capsule reviews, I turn my attention to four recent first issues: Marvel Knights 20th, Outer Darkness, Suicide Squad: Black Files and Zorro: Swords of Hell.

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Rotten to the Corps

The Green Lantern #1
“Intergalactic Lawman”
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colors: Steve Oliff
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Cover artists: Sharp (regular)/Frank Quitely (variant)
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99 US

It was just a matter of time before writer Grant Morrison turned his attention to the Green Lantern mythos. He’s left his marks on Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and even the Flash, so GL was a logical step for his next project with an icon of DC super-heroes. When the project was announced, I was pleased. While I thoroughly appreciated Geoff Johns revitalization of the property several years ago, I’d lost interest in the Green Lantern Corps more recently. I expected Morrison would offer something decided different with his take, and he does — but then again, he doesn’t. The writer’s script is an odd one, somewhat inaccessible — not in terms of plot, but language. Everything about this bit of storytelling feels alien, which may be the point, but the result is there’s little with which the reader can connect… not even its human hero.

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