I’ve got a lot of catching up to do on my comics reading and reviewing, but I’m doing my damnedest the last few days. Which is why I’ve got this cluster of capsule reviews to offer. This time, I examine the latest issues of Champions, Skyward, Suicide Squad and the debut of Survival Fetish.
by Jim Zub & Sean Izaakse
My interest in this title waned in the surprisingly disappointing crossover with Avengers last fall, and when it was announced that the initial creative team of Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos was leaving the book, I decided it was time to drop the book in favor of something else. But then it was announced the new writer, Jim Zub, was planning on introducing a new heroine, Snowguard, an Inuk teen from northern Canada. I was intrigued, and so when I decided to check out this issue, I was pleased to find Zub mining the classic John Byrne Alpha Flight run. The plot is in keeping with the activist leanings of the title team, but ultimately, the story felt a little… ordinary. Diverting, yes, but run of the mill. Sean Isaakse’s name is a new one to me, and he delivers some solid super-hero genre visuals here. His work reminds me of the style of Paul (Cyborg, Aquaman) Pelletier; it’s crisp and conveys the youth of the central characters pretty well. It’s not remarkable, per se, but neither is it disappointing. Of course, like the writing, when it comes to comic art, I want to be wowed, not merely satisfied, given the diverse and plentiful array of material that’s available to today’s audience of the medium. 6/10
by Joe Henderson & Lee Garbett
Henderson’s exploration of a culture transformed by an unnatural disaster continues to fascinate, but one of the things that struck me the most about this issue was the incredible moment of humor as our heroine, Willa, tries to blend in with society’s elite by trying something for the first time that she’s never needed to do before in her “Low G Life.” It’s a wonderfully hilarious moment that shows just how much potential lies in the sci-fi concept of a world that’s lost its gravity. As wonderful as that moment was, though, I was a little disappointed in Willa’s naivete when it came to the man she seeks out for help. That it would prove disastrous was so painfully obvious, it makes the protagonist seem rather dim-witted (when in fact we know she’s sharp and resourceful). Garbett’s exaggerated artwork brings out the wonderful reactions of the lead character, and there’s so much personality coming through in the linework. The spoiled rich folks in the key scene are presented more as caricatures than characters, but that’s understandable, given the pacing and the need to paint that segment of society in a negative light. 7/10
by Rob Williams, Jose Luis & Jordi Tarragona
I’m a huge fan of the Suicide Squad concept that John Ostrander established in the late 1980s, and that’s one of the reasons I read this latest iteration of the series. I have to admit, I’ve found Rob Williams’s tenure to be a little uneven, but with this latest story arc, he’s really grabbed my attention. This is the most Ostrander-like this title has seemed since the Rebirth relaunch. There’s a lot of classic Ostrander elements at play here – Kobra, Batman’s involvement, Waller’s enmity toward the Darknight Detective – not to mention the inner conflict Lawton is experiencing, having to curb his harsher tendencies so as to appease the hero who’s allowing him to come to the rescue of the only person he cares about in the world. The interplay between Batman and Deadshot during quieter moments works quite well. Furthermore, the introduction of Captain Cold into the mix brings a much-needed booster shot of personality to the titular team; the roster has been far too static, and Cold is the perfect addition. I also applaud Williams for using Boomerang’s stupidity as a solid source of humor.
Jose Luis boasts a fairly standard super-hero style. When I began to write this review, I honestly didn’t have a sense of who illustrated the book. Nevertheless, he handles the action clearly and imbues all of the costumed characters with some real presence. I also like how Zoe Lawton’s portrayed as confident and clear-headed, not some scared little child. It’s great that the creators have decided to let her grow up; it brings a little credibility to the never-ending timeline of this shared super-hero genre universe. 7/10
by Patrick Kindlon & Antonio Fuso
Don’t be fooled… while the new comic’s title might not seem to offer much information in regard what it’s all about, it does – once you’ve delved into this story. Set against the backdrop of a slightly dystopian and harsh Honolulu, it focuses on Saheer, a “runner” who risks life and lib, dodging bullets to deliver a wide variety of light goods. Often, he brings medical supplies to a self-sustaining community established in a large building, where the object of his desires resides. This is a fascinating drama, in part because of the genuine tone of Kindlon’s narration and the intensity of the characters. If that weren’t enough, a secret is revealed at the end of the issue that makes for a powerfully gripping moment. The chaotic setting reminds me a great deal of Brian Wood and Ricardo Burchielli’s DMZ from DC’s Vertigo imprint from several years back.
Antonio Fusa’s black-and-white artwork conveys the frantic and insane qualities of Saheer’s dashes through the city, as well as how abandoned the streets seem. Conversely, he shows how the interior of the community Saheer serves is a beehive of activity. He also captures the brutally direct personalities of Noe and her mother in the sharp intensity of their eyes and frowns. 9/10