Jurassic StrikeForce 5 #3 (Zenescope Entertainment/Silver Dragon Books)
by Joe Brusha, Neo Edmund & J.L. Giles-Rivera
I’ll give this comic credit — its title tells you exactly what to expect from it. That’s right, this series is about five humanoids dinosaur super-soldiers, tasked with fighting an alien overlord and his loyal saurian troops. It’s ridiculous, over-the-top and actually quite a bit of fun, to be honest. Neo Edmund’s script, working from Joe Brusha’s story, is perfectly accessible; this issue picks up the story in the middle, with the heroes captured, but I had no problem following the plot and figuring out who the players are. Mind you, this isn’t exactly the most complex concept either. Despite the bestial look of the heroes and villains, this seems like appropriate fare for kids. In fact, it’s definitely more appropriate for kids than adults; the writing and concepts are a bit too rudimentary and obvious to appeal to an older crowd. The way the premise is constructed reminded me a great deal of kids’ cartoons of the 1980s, and the way the comic reads, it feels more like a springboard for an animated TV series than something meant for this medium.
J.L. Giles-Rivera’s artwork matches the fun tone of the core concept. Dinosaur heads on humanoid bodies look cool, and the artist differentiates between the good guys and bad guys with simple but distinct uniforms. The only irksome element in the designs is the choice to given reptilian female characters breasts; non-mammalian creatures, humanoid or not, aren’t going to have tits. The artist’s work is a little loose at times, but it’s always dynamic and entertaining. The main villain’s design is a bit on the generic side, but the colorful nature of the other characters makes up for it. 6/10
No More Heroes #1 (self-published)
by Gordon Mclean & Caio Oliveira
Writer/creator Gordon Mclean deserves some credit for how well he’s marketed this self-published effort. It’s seen some mentions on a number of comics-focused websites, and I can understand why. No More Heroes boasts a strong degree of professionalism. A number of self-published projects can appear amateurish, driven by the passion of their creators but lacking the polish needed to make it a going concern. That being said, my reaction to the first issue was rather lukewarm. The concept of a regular guy getting caught up in the world of super-heroes and villains is compelling, but the catalyst for that involvement is off-putting. We’re meant to accept he texted a complete stranger, encouraging him to kill himself. I can accept such an awful thing would happen, but I don’t want to see a person responsible for such an act cast in the role of a protagonist for an ongoing story. Sometimes, the situation is played for laughs, but it just doesn’t strike me as funny. Furthermore, the only “hero” we meet in this story comes off as abusive and needlessly stubborn. It’s hard to get involved in a story when one doesn’t care for the characters. Mclean constructs the script adeptly, but I found I was just put off by the central idea and the people populating the story.
Artist Caoi Oliveira delivers some solid black-and-white artwork. The visuals here look like could be the result of a cross between the styles of Scott (Flash) Kolins and Darick (The Boys) Robertson or Amanda (Power Girl) Conner. The artist’s work later in the book is clearly more focused and interesting than it is in the opening scene. I attribute that to a greater comfort with the more extreme characters of the super-hero genre, and the opening scene only includes regular people. Nevertheless, the artist shows a lot of promise here. 5/10
Superman #7 (DC Comics)
by Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens & Jesus Merino
While it ended on a weak note, I enjoyed writer George Perez’s opening story arc for the relaunched Superman title, but the beginning of the second arc, by the writing team of Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens, is where I’m bailing on this book. While I appreciated the annoyed attitude they instill in this incarnation of the Man of Steel, the script offered me little incentive to stick around. Their story is thoroughly generic in tone, and Helspont, the one-time archenemy of Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.s of the 1990s is a poor excuse for a villain in Superman’s world. I get DC is building the Daemonites as a major threat in the DC Universe that will no doubt serve as a catalyst for or key element in some inevitable line-wide event. I find the Daemonites to be completely uninteresting, and it’s unfortunate the concept has jumped from Grifter and Voodoo to infect a character with a much more storied and culturally significant history.
Tapping Dan Jurgens to work on this title as part of its new creative team makes some sense from an editorial standpoint. After all, Jurgens helmed some of the most popular and visible Superman comics in history: name the Death of Superman and related stories. Unfortunately, Jesus Merino’s finishes over his pencils are overwhelming. Jurgens’ art doesn’t really look all that much like his art, whereas Merino’s rougher style comes shining through. I was also surprised DC left the Helspont designed untouched. It’s a typical early-1990s villain design, meant to look Kewl but failing to actually be cool. Why DC continues to mine the wreckage of the industry of the ’90s is puzzling, given the fact the New 52 titles incorporating such elements the most are among its poorest sellers. 3/10
Wonder Woman #7 (DC Comics)
by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang
Brian Azzarello’s exploration of Greek myth as a tapestry of familial dysfunction continues to stand out as not only one of the best titles in DC’s New 52 line but as one of the best mainstream comics being published today. This issue stands out as being particularly impressive, perhaps in part because it’s something of a standalone issue, serving as a transitional episode in the larger story arc. In the past, Amazonian society has almost always been portrayed as idyllic and peaceful, but Azzarello explores a darker notion that logically stems from a feminine-only culture. While the catalyst for the title character’s visit to see Hephaestus in his lair/forge is to seek help in her quest, the story takes a turn as Wonder Woman contends with an ethical violation she perceives to be impermissible. Azzarello brings everything back to the theme of family, this time presenting the less traditional familial relationship turns out to be the most healthy.
Cliff Chiang’s clean, soft linework is, as always, stunning, and I’m pleased to find the more soothing tones of his work don’t affect his ability to deliver monstrous, even grotesque character designs. His inhuman visions of the Olympian gods never fail to impress. His take on Hephaestus reminds me of cover artist Dave Johnson’s simple but dark style. Chiang also deserves credit for conveying the immense scope of the underground workshop of the god of the forge. at first, the artist impresses us with the urban Italian backdrop, enticing the reader with its architectural beauty, and then he transports us from a figurative fantasy land to a literal one. 9/10
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