By Steve Niles & Nat Jones
It’s been a while since I delved into a Steve Niles horror comic, and he’s always had a strong track record with such material. What I found here was a by-the-numbers sci-fi horror story. Fans of the Alien franchise and others in the same vein will find something they’ll like enjoy, something familiar. My problem with it is that it’s too familiar. It relies on the same trope all of these stories embrace: space-faring folks who encounter something strange and potentially dangerous end up letting their curiosity get the better of them. There’s definitely a genuine tone to the dialogue, though; however, all of the men seem exactly the same, and the chief protagonist, the only woman on the crew, is defined by her devotion to family. Artist Nat Jones could have done more to differentiate the other players in the drama from one another in terms of design. I did enjoy his linework overall; his style is highly reminiscent of that of Ben (30 Days of Night) Templesmith. The eerie green colors in which he bathes almost every scene convey the cold nature of the spacecraft and establishes an air of tension one would come to expect from such fare. Overall, the storytelling here is competent, but derivative. 6/10
by Chris Sims, Chad Bowers & Gang Hyuk Lim
I wasn’t a Darkhawk reader back in the day, as the title struck me as the epitome of 1990s Kewl-ness and really told me nothing about the character. I don’t know what prompted me to read this revival; I’m not following Marvel’s Infinity Countdown event or anything, but for some reason, I took a look. Sims and Bowers offer up a script that’s both accessible and steeped in continuity to the point of confusion. I have to admit, though, I rather enjoyed meeting Darkhawk’s alter ego, Chris Powell. He’s driven and honorable, but grounded and likeable. He seems like a cross between Peter Parker and Hal Jordan. I also love the art from Gang Hyuk Lim; it reminds me of the manga-influenced style of Rick Mays. It’s sharp and crisp and full of a youthful energy. In terms of the plot, I was often at a loss, but the characterization and visuals here still made me feel welcome. 6/10
by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Riley Rossmo & Marcus To
The premise behind the plot of No Justice is big and ridiculous and kind of stupid if one thinks about it too long, but it’s exactly the kind of event book DC and other publishers should be embracing. The story is simplistic – the notion of previously unknown god-like begins with a hunger for abstract concepts that just happen to allow for unusual team rosters – but it’s undeniably fun. The reader knows the threats will eventually be addressed, but the real entertainment here is to be derived from the interactions among characters that clash. Starro is definitely, well, the star of this issue. I know we’ve seen this colloquial take on the psychic starfish despot before (though I can’t remember where), but the writing team really make the most of him here. I love this interpretation of Starro, as it celebrates how ridiculous the character is and in the process transforms it into something cool.
Riley Rossmo replaces artist Francis Manapul on this issue, joining Marcus To in rendering the line art. Both do a great job of conveying the widescreen, cosmic scope of the story, and they adeptly populate these pages with a huge array of dynamic, over-the-top characters. Hi-Fi’s colors bring an eerie, unnatural quality to bear here, in keeping with the characters’ discomfort at being adorned in Brainiac-altered uniforms. Another bonus of this title is its weekly schedule. This is the sort of event book that super-hero publishers should be doing – not crossovers, but fun, colorful and bombastic yarns that celebrate the diverse array of characters available to the creators and that don’t purport to offer the illusion of “real change” in what is a static genre. 7/10
By Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson & D’Israeli
My Mignolaverse reading has been limited to Lobster Johnson comics for the most part these days, but I truly enjoy the fact that his occult adventure stories aren’t limited to the exploits of his best-known creation, Hellboy. Sir Edward Grey’s Victorian-era investigations are entertaining as well, and of all of Mignola’s characters, I’ve probably spent the least amount of time with him. After sampling the first issue of this latest limited series, I think I really ought to endeavor to change that. Mignola and co-writer Chris Roberson imbue the titular character with a Sherlock Holmes-esque personality and methodology. I like the calm with which he approaches his fantastic cases, but I also appreciate that he’s capable of awe, as seen in a scene in a latter part of the issue; interestingly, his wide-eyed reaction stems from a non-mystical source. I was disappointed by the fact that one aspect of the mystery that confounds Grey and others here can be easily deduced by the reader.
D’Israeli’s art will appeal to fans of a wide variety of artists – such as Brian Hurtt, Chris Samnee, Richard Sala and many more — but his work here is fairly unique as well. His figures boast a stylized look, but he nevertheless captures a strong sense of realism. His inks and Michelle Madsen’s colors instill the typical trademark Mignola noir atmosphere, and I particularly appreciated how the artist uses big but sparse panels to convey the majesty of Queen Victoria. 7/10