Category Archives: Reviews – Boom! Studios

Nastier Than a Speeding Bullet

Irredeemable #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Peter Krause
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover artists: John Cassaday/Barry Kitson
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

While last week’s launch of Boom! Studios line of licensed comics for younger readers was a pivotal moment for the publisher (and by all indications, a successful one), the debut of this new super-hero genre title from editor-in-chief and industry star Mark Waid is clearly important to Boom as well. It’s certainly put a strong promotional push behind it, and it’s even recruited writer Grant Morrison to extol the virtues of Waid and Irredeemable. He lauds Waid as an innovator, dismissing the label of Waid as someone whose sensibilities are mired in the Silver Age of super-heroes. I both agree and disagree with Morrison’s assessment. Yes, there’s more to Mark Waid’s writing than simple love for the comics and characters of yesteryear. But no, Irredeemable doesn’t represent an exciting new vision of the genre. We’ve been down this road before, and that’s OK. I like what Waid offers in this comic, but while it’s dark in tone, it’s not exactly cutting-edge stuff either. Not so far, anyway.

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It’s Time to Play the Music…

The Muppet Show #1
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Roger Langridge
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Deron Bennett
Editor: Paul Morrissey
Publisher: Boom! Studios/Boom Kids imprint
Price: $2.99 US

This is a big comic. I just have a feeling about it. I suspect this new release, as well as this week’s The Incredibles #1, will make a wider audience of comics readers take notice of Boom! Studios. This comic book will bring cartoonist Roger (Fred the Clown) Langridge to the attention of new readers and new fans. And the high quality of this comic book has the potential to really impress readers of all ages, those who grew up with the variety show upon which this is based and even those with only a passing familiarity with Jim Henson’s Muppets. As I read this, I smiled, even chortled a bit. I was impressed with the visuals and surprised by a slightly melancholy quality in the plot as well. I was struck by the feeling that Langridge’s take on The Muppet Show was just special, capturing the kind of magic and mirth that have made these characters icons of pop culture.

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One Is the Loneliest Number

The Last One trade paperback
Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Artist/Cover artist: Dan Sweetman
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Karen Berger
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $24.99 US

Boom! Studios is joining the ranks of such publishers as Fantagraphics, IDW Publishing and Image Comics by collecting out-of-print, creator-owned work that deserves to find a new audience in the 21st century. The Last One was a six-part series published under DC’s Vertigo imprint in 1993. Readers of more unusual modern comics fare might find The Last One a little reminiscent of Peter David’s Fallen Angel, but really, its parentage is pretty clear. On the one hand, it’s clearly writer J.M. DeMatteis’s baby; the writer has demonstrated a penchant for writing surreal stories of spirituality and the supernatural. DeMatteis is the father, and Vertigo founder and editor Karen Berger is the mother, as this book boasts some of the same genetic material as the imprint’s original flagship title, Sandman. In any case, The Last One is a mature, thoughtful book full of smaller stories that make up the larger one of a divine being’s slow journey towards realization and fulfillment.

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Thornton Wilder Meets Isaac Asimov

Eureka #1
Writers: Andrew Cosby & Brendan Hay
Artist: Diego Barreto
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Cover artists: J.K. Woodward & Dennis Calero
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

I have seen a few episodes of the Sci Fi Network series upon which this comic book is based; my wife and I are the most casual of viewers, but we both enjoy the show for its sense of humor and its interesting mix of police-procedural and science-fiction elements. Among the various TV shows that find their way into the comic-book medium, Eureka makes perfect sense as a candidate for such a transition, as it’s likely the comics medium and this quirky show share a common demographic of genre fans. This comic captures the spirit and dialogue beats of the show nicely. However, I wonder if a four-issue limited series, which will come to a total of $15.96 US, can really compete with an episode of the show, as the latter costs the audience nothing more than its cable package.

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Ever Say Never

Never as Bad as You Think hardcover graphic novella
Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Artist/Colors: Stuart Immonen
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $15.99 US

I wasn’t aware this book was in the works, but I’m pleased to have finally learned about it. Boom! has collected an experiment in comics storytelling by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen into a handsome hardcover volume. Never as Bad as You Think (originally published online) is slated for release this week, and I suspect it might fly under the radar, given its unconventional nature and limited publicity. The Immonens have taken a challenging storytelling exercise — each script is prompted by a random keyword — and offered up a thoroughly amusing series of vignettes. The best thing Never as Bad has going for it is its surreal script, but it’s also an opportunity to for fans of Stuart Immonen’s super-hero projects (from Legion of Super-Heroes to Ultimate Spider-Man) to see him flex some different artistic muscles. There’s really only thing flaw to be found here, and it has nothing to do with the creators’ performance.

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International Slay Station

Station #1
Writer: Johanna Stokes
Artist/Cover artist: Leno Carvalho
Colors: Imaginary Friends Studios
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

It seems to me that Station is one of those books that Boom! supports with a little more of a promotional push, as it did with North Wind and Talent long before that. I understand why. The premise is a solid one, bound to appeal to a broad spectrum of readers. There are space/science buffs out there just as there are sci-fi enthusiasts, and who doesn’t like a good whodunnit? Johanna Stokes, who’s done plenty of work for Boom! in the past but is still billed as a TV writer, has happened upon a natural concept: a murder mystery in space. While offering new ideas in terms of means of murder, it limits the number of suspects to a manageable, easy-to-consume level. Of course, the premise is limited as well. The art boasts some striking visuals at times, and the man responsible certainly has capture the close quarter of a space station along with the vast emptiness that lies outside of it. But the visuals are inconsistent from page to page, which makes for some distractions and interferes with the story.

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Future Tense

The Foundation #1
Writer: John Rozum
Artist: Chee
Colors: Malaka Studio
Letters/Editor: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

Boom! Studios has done it again.

In late 2006, I was blown away by Talent, a Boom title that impressed with a strong premise, compelling, dark atmosphere and well-realized characters. The Foundation is a much different project, but it also captured my imagination. Both books have a distinctly dark and cinematic quality, and the supernatural/superhuman elements and twists remind one of the works of such filmmakers as Hitchcock and Shyamalan. This initial plot revolves around a potential air disaster, and while we’re more than six years removed from the events of 9-11, paranoia about terrorism remains raw enough today that delving into that subject matter is a bit risky. I applaud the creators for taking the risk of offending some sensibilities in the name of a good story. More importantly, John Rozum poses an interesting and challenging question of ethics to the reader that sparks reflection beyond the reading experience and the circumstances of the plot.

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That’s the Waid – Uh-huh, Uh-huh – I Like It

Potter’s Field #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Paul Azaceta
Colors: Nick Filardi
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover artists: J.G. Jones/Paul Azaceta
Editor: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

Boom! Studios has been solid small publisher in the comics industry for a couple of years now, but it really turned some heads at Comic-Con International San Diego this year when it announced that fan-favorite writer and former DC editor (a lifetime ago, it seems) Mark Waid had signed on as the publisher’s new editor-in-chief. It certainly seemed like a solid move, given the attention that Waid’s high profile brought and the expertise he brings to the job as well. Potter’s Field is not only Boom’s first big release in the wake of that announcement, but it’s also penned by the new editor-in-chief as well. Needless to say, Boom! Studios has a lot riding on this comic book, and fortunately, it lives up to expectations. I think what I most appreciated about Potter’s Field, other than the entertaining crime-drama storytelling, is the fact that it doesn’t mark a significant shift in direction for the publisher. It already offered a diverse array of material in its lineup, and Potter’s Field is just the latest addition. If you haven’t bothered to check out a Boom! release before, Potter’s Field is a good place to start.

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Shh! Be vewy, vewy quiet…

Whisper #1
“Hydrophobia”
Writer: Steven Grant
Artist: Jean Dzialowski
Colors: Sunder Raj
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover artists: Kody Chamberlain & Martin Redman
Editor: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US

We’ve been hearing about this Whisper revival for a few years now, thanks to writer Steven Grant’s column at ComicBookresources.com. It was originally positioned at another publisher, later moving over to the up-and-coming Boom! Studios. I didn’t read the original Whisper series from First Comics, but fortunately, the only reference to the original incarnation is to be found on the cover (in the form of a poster behind the new version of title character). I like the idea of setting this new story in hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans at the height of the natural disaster, but the art fails to really convey the sense of place and the overwhelming effects of the weather disturbance. Grant’s script is full of tension and action, and I like the dark political side of the plot.

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Cure for the Uncommon Code

Enigma Cipher #1
Writers: Andrew Cosby & Michael Alan Nelson
Artist: Greg Scott
Colors: Imaginary Friends Studio
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover artist: Jeff Johnson
Editor: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $6.99 US

Boom! Studios seems to focus its energies on publishing specific kinds of comics. There’s the farcical books (Hero Squared, What Were They Thinking) and the strong anthologies (Pirate Tales, Zombie Tales). And then there are the movies on paper. Boom! has published a number of comics that read a lot like movie or TV treatments, and the publisher has provided some solid entertainment in that vein. Among the previous limited series that fit the bill are Tag, X Isle and the superbly diverting Talent. Enigma Cipher is the latest “movie on paper,” and it’s a lot of fun, capturing the same sort of tension, excitement and conspiracy-theory drama as The Pelican Brief. There’s just one problem: the format. By splitting this story into two oversized comics, Boom! Studios missed a great opportunity to publish its first-ever original graphic novel.

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