Care to learn what I thought of recent issues of Death of Love, The Flash and Youngblood, as well as a new Iron Man one-shot? Well, here you go then…
by Justin Jordan & Donal Delay
I rather enjoyed the first issue of this over-the-top story about how love “works,” and I was eager to see how the story would evolve and develop going forward. Here, writer Justin Jordan spells out the premise of Cupidae and the role they play in people falling in love. What’s really great about the exploration of these little flying love fairies is how completely contrary their personalities are to their purpose. Jordan writes them as though they’re the little devils perched on the shoulders of Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis when they have to script particularly foul snippets of dialogue. Jordan crafts them as living contradictions, mean little bastards who spend their days spreading true love. Where this comic gives me pause the how the writer further reinforces the notion that his central character’s failure to find love actually appears to be the universe plotting against him. Seemingly, he’s absolved of his shortcomings because his paranoia about his inability to connect with the object of his affection really has nothing to do with him. It’s an uncomfortable idea, but I remain intrigued and want to see if Jordan will still pivot and take his protagonist and audience in a more heartening direction.
Delay’s exaggerated cartooning is ideal for this story. He manages to instill an incredibly harsh spirit in the faces of the Cupidae while still conveying the traditional, cute concept. His cartoony approach conveys the movement and chaos of the action-oriented Cupidae, and I was impressed with the level of detail he brought to bear, notably in the backgrounds and in the final page featuring a phalanx of cherubic maniacs. 7/10
by Joshua Williamson & Dan Panosian
I’m a big fan of the title character, and I’ve been eating up the twice-monthly issues. In recent months, though, I’ve noticed my enthusiasm has started to wane, and I think I’ve fallen into the trap of picking up this book because I like the idea of it instead of the storytelling found within. In the last couple of years, Williamson has expanded the Flash Family — both allies and the black sheep — and it seems to me it’s just too much. Godspeed. Negative Flash. Raijin. The purple-clad Flash was a complete question mark to me earlier in this story arc. I didn’t recall her introduction previously in the series and had no idea she’d joined the Justice League of China in The New Super-Man, as I don’t read that title. The inclusion of two Wally Wests in the DC Universe is incredibly convoluted and will be confusing to anyone who isn’t familiar with the publisher’s history and the current Flash TV show on the CW. I think what it was about this issue that really put me off, though, was the fact that Barry Allen is no longer the hero of his story. While writer Joshua Williamson tries to paint him as selfish in this script, it’s really how stupid he behaves here that irked me. There’s no good reason for Barry to ignore the Flash Facts in his face, that he’s being duped and used. It’s obvious, and should be so to everyone around him as well.
I was surprised to find Dan Panosian contributing to this series, since he’s been working on his creator-owned Slots under the Image Comics banner. I wasn’t expecting his thick-lined, grittier style to work with this property, but overall, I thought the art was appealing and dynamic. I was nevertheless disappointed — not by anything Panosian did with the linework, but rather with the overall inconsistent look of this series. The Flash hasn’t had anything remotely resembling a regular artist for a while. I understand the accelerated publishing schedule requires more than one art team to contribute on a regular basis, but we’re seeing the look of this book changing from issue to issue. A few months back, there was an announcement celebrating the return of artist Scott Kolins to The Flash, and his take on the Scarlet Speedster has always struck me as one of the best, second only to the late Mike Wieringo. But Kolins’s tenure appeared to have lasted only a single issue. With confusing scripts and constantly changing art, I’ve come to realize The Flash is a comic I don’t enjoy anymore, even though I really want to. 4/10
by Howard Wong & Justice Wong
So it appears this comic book was “inspired” by a Disneyland attraction in Hong Kong, which was “inspired” by the Iron Man movies, and that bizarre evolution (if one can call it that) has given rise to a clumsy super-hero adventure that aims to introduce a new armored heroine based in Hong Kong. It’s really more of a Marvel Universe story, as the story opens with Dr. Strange, and it includes the more recognizable Avengers from the publisher’s cinematic universe. Baron Mordo and Arnim Zola are the villains of the story, but aside from the need to include magic as a plot element, it could have been any pair of interchangeable baddies. The plot is clunky even by Silver Age standards, though it would likely appeal to younger children.
Perhaps what’s most frustrating about the comic is that the action doesn’t unfold clearly at all, and the dialogue is there mainly to explain to the audience what’s going on. Justice Wong’s art, which boasts a painted look, is loose but colorful. We never get a clear look at the magically imbued robots that serve as the threat to the heroes. The new heroine introduced here — SERE-X — wears Stark Industries armor, but inexplicably, her face isn’t armored. Now, lots of heroes don’t protect their heads, but when Iron Man and War Machine are in the same story, it gives the reader pause. The only aspect of the art that really worked for me was the color palette employed in the depiction of Arnim Zola. The eerie blue face-screen in his chest made him particular monstrous and intimidating in appearance; it was a great choice. 3/10
by Chad Bowers & Jim Towe
I don’t know why, but I somehow I missed the fact that Rob Liefeld had relaunched Youngblood. Now while I wasn’t a fan of his art style or his various Image titles in the 1990s, I do give him a lot of credit for inventive and offbeat reinterpretations of those properties, such the reimagined takes on Prophet and Glory in recent years. As such, I decided to give this new Youngblood title a look. Writer Chad Bowers does appear to bring a slightly more sophisticated tone to the super-hero property, bringing international politics into play. However, what we have here is a fairly typical super-hero team title, and that’s fine. Unfortunately, Bowers doesn’t endeavor to invite new readers — like me — into the fold here, which is odd, because this reads like it might have been a good jumping-on point. The various heroes aren’t identified clearly (if at all), nor are their abilities fully defined.
Jim Towe boasts a fairly standard super-hero genre style, and he captures the action pretty well. His linework, which exhibits a looser look, reminded me a bit of early work from Francis Manapul’s career. I was put off by the decision to include a couple of gorier manifestations of the super-hero violence, such as the compound fractures of one character’s fingers. It added nothing to the story. If the point was to convey how violence in this genre would really manifest on the characters and bystanders, Towe hardly scratches the surface of it, so the inclusion of just a couple of uglier aspects seemed pointless. 5/10