Two comics feature characters who fly high in the skies overhead, and two feature enhanced warriors altered to become brutal killers, but despite the similarities among this cluster of comics, they’re all quite different. Come read my thoughts on Hawkman #2, Nu Way #1, She Could Fly #1 and X-23 #1.
by Robert Venditti, Bryan Hitch & Andrew Currie
As this issue began, I thought perhaps Robert Venditti was shifting the focus back to the eternal romance between the souls of Hawkman and Hawkgirl (why is she called Hawkgirl again?), but it seems that opening scene was mainly an acknowledgement of the connection. The writer quickly turns his attention back to Carter Hall and his unusual identity crisis. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I found myself genuinely interested in the title character’s figurative and literal exploration of history to uncover a mystery about a long-pending invasion by some sort of vague, winged threat. I think the aspects of the story that I enjoyed the most is the notion that Hawkman has used his multiple lives to form deep friendships the world over, with people he’s known in past lives or with their descendants. Venditti has transformed the once stoic and even aloof character into a regular guy, a likeable guy, and it tempers the impossibilities upon which the plot is founded.
Bryan Hitch continues to amaze with his work on this comic. I’m honestly a little surprise he took on a secondary-tier DC book, given his popularity over the past couple of decades, but he’s clearly enjoying bringing this niche corner of the universe to life. The detail he brings to the backdrops, especially the Egyptian ones, is stunning, and his photo-realistic style brings credibility to the incredible premise. Andrew Currie’s inks bring just the right level of grit to Hitch’s polished, convincing linework as well. I also especially like the designs for the everyday characters into whose lives Carter Hall meanders; they look like real people, not implausibly perfect representations of the human form. 7/10
by J.T. Krul, Alex Konat & Mark Roslan
This sci-fi title boasts a familiar premise: gladiatorial combat between warriors who are cybernetically enhanced, all for the pleasure for the elite. This introductory issue is quite accessible, though the concepts aren’t exactly complex. Setting such a far-flung cyber-society in 2051 struck me as odd; this hardly feels as though it could materialize in a scan three decades and change. The main character, Zhiao, embraced brutal combat as a means to rise up from a life of poverty, and that makes it hard to like him or cheer for him. Writer J.T. Krul also introduces a potential love story that’s quite reminiscent of the plot from the recent Solo: A Star Wars Story movie (though I’m not suggesting a connection; the timing suggests both stories were developed long before their releases). While I didn’t find anything overly off-putting here, I also didn’t find anything that hooked me, that made me care about this world or the people in it.
When writing this review, I initially thought the title was NuWay, but closer examination of the comic’s indicia indicated there was a space. I’m surprised, as the logo suggests the former and I think there’s a little more cachet to it without the space.
Alex Konat’s artwork here is competent, realistic for the most part with a high level of detail in the backgrounds. He does a solid job of distinguishing between the adult characters in the main story and their adolescent selves in flashback. But like the plot and script, the linework never fully grabbed me, didn’t offer anything that struck me inventive or unique. At best, Nu Way is competent comics storytelling, little more, and Aspen Comics continues its mission to be to the industry what Image Comics was when it was established in the early 1990s. It needs to evolve and offer something more substantial. 5/10
by Christopher Cantwell & Martin Morazzo
The first issue of Ice Cream Man, an offbeat horror comic from Image, was my first introduction to the art of Martin Morazzo, and I was impressed with what I saw on that comic. But his efforts on She Could Fly are at an entirely different level, a true pinnacle. His linework here reminds me of a cross between the styles of Eduardo (100 Bullets, Moonshine) Risso and Darick (Transmetropolitan, The Boys) Robertson. Forget the truly horrifying and gory images in this story (if you can), and just look at the anguish on Luna’s face. He achieves an incredible balance between realism and exaggeration, and that puts the audience a little off-kilter, and little bit more susceptible to the gut-punches of madness that barrel like freight trains through our protagonist’s head.
This comic is unlike just about anything you’ve read or seen this week, this month and — time will tell — perhaps this year. Editor Karen Berger has an eye and ear for powerful but unconventional storytelling, and Christopher Cantwell’s blend of super-hero, intrigue and horror certainly fits the bill. The convergence of disparate characters and weird forces here made for some compelling reading, but at its heart, the storytelling works because it focuses on a teenage girl’s confusion, fear and pain. Luna is an extreme but incredibly well-realized character, and I can’t wait to learn more about her and see where this bizarre series of events leads her. 10/10
by Mariko Tamaki & Juann Cabal
I’ve never been all that taken with the continued saga of Weapon X and efforts to milk the popularity of Wolverine, so by extension, I’ve had little interest in X-23 since the character’s debut 14 years ago. Furthermore, writer Mariko Tamaki’s focus in this new title is X-23’s new mission to put a stop to Weapon X projects and manipulations, and that doesn’t interest me much either. However, quite recently, I’ve become a huge fan of Honey Badger, the younger sister/clone of X-23 — or to be more precise, I’ve become a fan of Tom Taylor’s take on the character in X-Men Red. I’m thrilled to find that Mariko Tamaki has a similar appreciation for the character and brings a similar flair to her dialogue and attitude. She makes me forget about the intensity and edge of X-23 and just lets me enjoy the insanity and fun of a super-hero story. I also have to give it to Tamaki for her depiction of the Stepford Cuckoos. It’s thoroughly creepy yet oddly playful (at least when they interact with Honey Badger). The “coincidence” of their role in the story is a little much, but the weird but deeply personal motivation driving them is intriguing.
Juann Cabal’s art reminds me a fair bit of the style of Mikel Janin, who’s wowing readers with his realistic work on Tom King’s Batman as of late. Cabal’s figures are a little stiffer, though, and not quite as expressive. Cabal’s also clearly taking some cues from artist Frank Quitely when it comes to the Cuckoos, which is understandable, since Quitely was the artist working with writer Grant Morrison on New X-Men when the quintet of psychics was first introduced. I also loved the new designs for the Cuckoos here. 7/10