Hunter’s Fortune #1 (Boom! Studios)
by Andrew Cosby, Caleb Munroe & Matt Cossin
I had no idea what this comic book was about before I sat down to read it, but I was surprised to find a fun premise for adventure that’s full of personality. Hunter’s Fortune is something like Brewster’s Millions crossed with Raiders of the Lost Ark, featuring a down-on-his-luck slacker who will inherit millions from a long lost uncle as long as he fulfills a quest as set out in the will. Writers Cosby and Munroe aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here, but they offer up some solid entertainment. Like many other Boom! mini-series, this reads a bit like a movie pitch, which is OK, because it works as comics storytelling as well. Of course, the fact that cover artist Rebecca Wrigley’s depiction of the series protagonist looks just like actor John (The Office) Krasinski reinforces that big-screen impression.
Matt Cossin’s art is a perfect match to the main characters and the script. He brings such energy to the visuals that one can’t help but get caught up in the fun and goofiness of the story. Admittedly, he’s got a tendency to vamp up almost every female character, but that’s sort of expected with this kind of wish-fulfillment story. I mean, since all of Hunter’s dreams are coming true, it only makes sense that he’d end up surrounded by hot women. Mind you, it’s easier to accept since the smartest, most confident character in the story, Jessica Lockhart, is among them, and she doesn’t get naked or anything. 8/10
Superman: Secret Origin #2 (DC Comics)
by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank & Jon Sibal
I’m surprised that writer Geoff Johns has opted to accelerate the appearance and influence of the Legion of Super-Heroes in Clark Kent’s life, but I have to admit to love that he opted to maintain the same upbeat, Silver Age optimism. His effort to convey the title character’s sense of isolation from those around him works well, and it makes his elation at the notion of the Legion more than understandable. Unfortunately, for every Legion scene that brought a smile to my face, there was one with Lex Luthor that irked me. Johns is presenting the teenage Luthor as far too loathsome. His arrogance is so extreme at this young age that it defies belief. The writer does nothing to humanize the character. Furthermore, it makes no sense that Clark would want to befriend Lex. Sure, he sees Lex as a fellow outsider, but Lex is clearly malevolent and exhibits nary a single quality that a nice kid like Clark would like.
While there are elements in the plot and script that don’t sit well with me, another aspect of this title that keeps me coming back is the crisp, emotive artwork of Gary Frank. Despite the high level of detail in his linework, he nevertheless manages to capture the simpler, campy appeal of the Silver Age Legion of Super-Heroes. Most importantly, he conveys Superboy’s youth incredibly well. Mind you, that’s not the case with the girl heroes. While the male Legionnaires look as youthful as the teenage Clark Kent, the girls look far more grown up. Furthermore, as is the case with the writer’s Lex dialogue, Frank gets a bit over the top when it comes to Luthor’s evil sneers and grimaces. He might as well have drawn him wearing an “I (Heart) Villainy” T-shirt. 6/10
Ultimate Avengers #3 (Marvel Comics)
by Mark Millar, Carlos Pacheco, Danny Miki, Dexter Vines & Allen Martinez
I’m not sure why the synopsis on the first page and the small print at the back of the book changes the title of this series (Marvel’s website still calls this Ultimate Comics Avengers #3). Of course, the change that’s far more interesting and important is the one in the tone and direction of the book. Now, since this is a Mark Millar-written comic book, it comes as no surprise that the emphasis is on style and attitude over substance and genuine emotion. It’s hard to miss those latter elements when the style is so slick and entertaining. Millar gathers not only a new team of Avengers here, but a team of new Avengers as well. The term “Nerd Hulk” alone made this comic book worthwhile. The harsher edge that Millar brings to some new incarnations of familiar characters is certainly in keeping with the rogue, black-ops version of Nick Fury of the Ultimate Universe. My one quibble with the storytelling is that the script’s references to some kind of pseudo-Spider-Man and a new Black Widow are so close together that it seems at first like they may be the same character.
Pacheco’s crisp, clear style is back, after being seemingly submerged in previous issues. His new take on War Machine is sharp, and I like how the Silver Age design for the Wasp has been brought back and retooled for the 21st century. Still, Pacheco’s traditional super-hero may not be the best fit the over-the-top and in-your-face qualities of Millar’s characters. Still, there’s no denying that he handles the action sequences incredibly well, and the Hulk surgery scene really packs a powerful visual punch. 7/10
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