Come with me as I explore elsewheres and elsewhens, worlds unlike our own populated by fantastic characters and unbelievable customs. From kickstarting a killing to pulling a heist in a galaxy far, far away. From punked-out heroes to robots with free will trying to earn a living. Continue and find out what I thought of this quartet of first issues: Crowded, Edge of Spider-Geddon, Star Wars: Beckett and Volition.
by Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein & Ted Brandt
The Internet has transformed western economies and changed the way we consume goods and services. Here, writer Christopher Sebela takes the notion of sharing services and crowd-funding to the extreme, with the notion of crowd-sourced assassination contracts as a legal response to people who have wronged others. This social satire doesn’t seem as far-fetched the premise might suggest. The sassy interplay between the target and her hastily-hired bodyguard (retained online, of course) is fun, if a little predictable and clichéd.
Ro Stein’s angular, elongated and exaggerated figures is very much in keeping with the over-the-top nature of the plot and premise. I like how he balances Charlie’s style and sexuality with Vita’s casual and blasé attire and attitude. The extreme perspective and cutaway to give the reader a sense of the latter character’s enormous home was impressive as well. The inking is a bit loose at times and could have brought a bit more clarity to the mix, but overall, it’s an attractive book that conveys the frenetic pace of the plot. 6/10
by Jed MacKay & Gerardo Sandoval
It appears this is a sequel of sorts to Spider-Verse, which similarly launched with a prologue series called Edge of the Spider-Verse, which introduced alt-universe incarnations of spider-heroes (notably marking the debut of Spider-Gwen in the second issue). This inaugural issue of Edge of Spider-Geddon is a primer on Spider-Punk (though he doesn’t like to be called that). Though the script suggests we’ve seen this character before, it’s quite accessible. Jed MacKay’s characters and premise is all about rebellion against the establishment, and it’s a resonant message, given the state of political and the socio-economic divides in the world today. The story feels meaningless; we knew the main character will emerge unscatched so he can participate in the larger epic suggested in the name of the comic itself. However, I have to admit I enjoyed seeing these radically different takes on familiar Marvel icons. MacKay doesn’t stick to the usual archetypes here; for example, this Spider-Man is Hobie Brown, not an alternate reality’s version of Peter Parker.
Gerardo Sandoval’s exaggerated style suits the tone of the plot and characters pretty well. His work reminds me of the styles of such comic artists as Erik (Savage Dragon) Larsen and Todd (Young Justice) Nauck. The design for Spider-Punk is a bit unwieldy, but I was amused by Captain Anarchy’s look (seemingly inspired by the 1970s TV movie version of Cap) and the other punk version of a familiar Marvel hero. 6/10
by Gerry Duggan, Edgar Salazar, Marc Laming & Will Sliney
I wasn’t surprised that Solo: A Star Wars Story didn’t perform as well as expected at the box office this year, as I found the film to be a little… well, boring. There were highlights – Donald Glover, Thandie Newton and the CGI Rio – but the plot didn’t grab me. However, when I saw this one-shot focusing on Woody Harrelson’s character, I thought I’d give it a look. Taking place right before the events of Solo, this story is rather inconsequential, but writer Gerry Duggan does capture the charm and personality in the interplay among these three partners and friends. However, the story is drawn out unnecessarily to justify an extended page count. I note that unless one has seen the movie, there are key bits of information here that will be meaningless (such as who Dryden Vos is), but then again, I can’t imagine anyone who hasn’t seen the movie being at all interested in this comic book. The plot is completely lacking in tension, since the audience knows the fates of all of these characters. The art is serviceable but unremarkable, but I was pleased to find the use of three artists didn’t make for particularly inconsistent visuals. They also do a decent job of the likenesses. 4/10
by Ryan Parrott & Omar Francia
Ryan Parrott’s story about robots gaining free will and freedom, along with a number of downfalls when one combines technology and life, is an interesting one, hinting at multiple facets of a future society that isn’t all that far-fetched. The writer gallops forward with his conspiracy plot, and while I’m definitely interested in what’s going on, I think he’s put the cart before the technological horse. I would have liked to have seen him set the stage a little more, explore the evolution of a society with humans and robots living side by side, delve into the ethics and social mechanics of it all. But there are some definite moments of touching humanity in this story about machines.
Omar Francia’s style is one that’s highly reminiscent of that of Mike (Infinity Wars) Deodato. Francia aims for a strong, meticulous sense of realism, and he achieves that pretty well. I found the heist-getaway scene to be visually confusing though, mainly because there’s so much action so soon after these hulking robots are introduced. I never had a strong sense of their designs and distinguishing traits, so I found the whole scene to be dizzying. Francia does convey the pitiable and desperate aura of the dying robot in the climactic scene, and it made for a surprisingly moving moment. 6/10