From two costumed characters coming out of hiding to two teams of impossibly empowered champions teaming up to tackle cosmic crises, this handful of capsule reviews took me from city streets to the far side of the galaxy and then across dimensions. Check out my thoughts on the first issues of Dead Rabbit, Faith: Dreamside, Justice League Odyssey and Spider-Geddon.
by Gerry Duggan & John McCrea
The title tells the reader nothing about what to expect from this comic book, and I didn’t read any solicitation copy. The only thing I needed to know was that artist John McCrea was involved. He did such a great job on Garth Ennis’ Hitman years ago, I know I’d be interested in this latest project. He doesn’t disappoint. I love the simplicity of the Dead Rabbit design, and despite the exaggerated qualities of McCrea’s art, he achieves a strong sense of reality, of place. Despite the title characters infamy and extreme skills, McCrea makes it surprisingly easy to believe this could unfold in the real world. He reflects the ugliness in what Dead Rabbit does and the evil perpetrated by those he confronts here with character designs that border on the monstrous, even while conveying their humanity and vulnerabilities.
Duggan’s script and characterization also serve to the convince the reader of possibility of this implausible scenario. Duggan has clearly crafted Martin as a blue-collar everyman, emblematic of a segment of western society that’s just trying to get by. He argues major windfalls don’t make for an easy ride, and that millions of dollars (ill-gotten though they may be) don’t get you very far in America when someone in your family is sick. Though Martin’s skills and savvy border on the superhuman, his thoughts, his priorities are thoroughly grounded. Despite the mask sported by the central protagonist, Dead Rabbit isn’t a super-hero story; the title character isn’t the Batman or even the Punisher. This is, at its heart, a crime story, made unique and interesting thanks to its balance between noir and everyday elements. 8/10
Note: This comic is slated for release Oct. 3.
by Jody Houser & MJ Kim
Faith has evolved into quite the niche brand for Valiant, and after reading comics such as this and others, it’s easy to see why. The title character is thoroughly likeable and relatable. She loves the genre fiction stuff much of her audience loves, and despite the fantastic circumstances of her life, she’s presented as an everywoman, struggling to figure things out. She’s humanized further and grounded even more by the fact that she’s more often referred to by her regular name rather than her super-hero codename. Equally impressive as the grounded characterization and playful dialogue in Houser’s script is how well the writer crafts an accessible story. It’s clear from this comic that Faith has a tremendously convoluted history, but I never felt lost. The key bits are summed up quickly and clearly, allowing me to follow and enjoy the new story here.
MJ Kim’s manga-influenced artwork is a perfect fit for this character, given her interest in Japanese pop culture. Kim’s work also reminded me of the styles of such artists as David Lafuente, Annie Wu and Babs Tarr, and it boasts the sort of youthful energy that really conveys the overall optimism and enthusiasm that define Faith as a character. I also appreciated the brightness of the art; the emphasis is clearly on the positivity of Faith and not the obstacles and setbacks she’s experienced. 7/10
by Joshua Williamson & Stjepan Sejic
The artwork adorning this new series certainly captured my attention, as did the unusual cast of characters, so I decided to check it out. Stjepan Sejic’s art, with its seemingly painted look, brings the cosmic and alien elements of the story to life incredibly well. All of the characters look incredibly cool, and I’m pleased that Starfire has been redesigned to tone down the overtly sexualized appearance. The colors are deep and rich, so basically, in terms of visuals, it’s a strong comic. The problem arises with the premise and the odd and befuddling “twist” that arises at the issue’s end. Like so many other new DC titles as of late, this one flows from the events of Dark Nights: Metal and Justice League: No Justice, and therein lies the problem. I’ve grown bored with the notion that there’s a hole in the Source Wall, that hundreds of alien worlds were enlarged. The premise that there’s a zone in space wherein the radiation is devastating and toxic, even to Green Lanterns, is tough to swallow and all too convenient. I really enjoyed the interactions among the characters, and it was interesting to see how GL Jessica Cruz has grown since I last followed her in Justice League a few years ago. Darkseid’s inclusion is novel as well, as it marks a significantly different and more direct way to handle the character. However, those character-driven elements aren’t enough to blind me to the awkwardness of the plot. 6/10
by Christos Gage & Clayton Crain/Jed MacKay & Javier Garron
As the beginning (or tee-up) to the latest Spider-Man multiversal event, this leaves a lot to be desired. You’d think such a comic would lay the groundwork for the larger plot with exposition, or serve as a primer, introducing newer characters and conflicts. Instead, we get a passing reference to “immortal energy vampires” and little else to explain what’s at stake. The main story isn’t so much a chapter in this dimension-spanning story, but rather something of a promotional tie-in with Sony’s recent Spider-Man video-game release for the PS4. Clayton Crain manages to capture the photorealistic qualities of the game while still bringing his slightly more exaggerated flair to bear here, but the art also felt a little stiff.
The art on the backup story was a little more pleasing; it struck me as a cross between the styles of former Spidey artists David Lafuente and Giuseppe Camuncoli. The art feels a little busy and cramped, though. The script for the backup is also lacking in exposition; we’re not given a clear sense of who these alt-Spideys are, where they are or how they came to be charged as jailers for the monstrous creatures they’re monitoring. 4/10