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Wrapping Wednesday: Micro Reviews for the Week of 11/8/17

By | November 13th, 2017
Posted in Columns | % Comments

There is a lot to cover on Wednesdays. We should know, as collectively, we read an insane amount of comics. Even with a large review staff, it’s hard to get to everything. With that in mind, we’re back with Wrapping Wednesday, where we look at some of the books we missed in what was another great week of comics.

Let’s get this party started.

“1000” Chapter 1-2
Written by Chuck Brown
Illustrated by Sanford Greene
Colored by Mike Chung
Lettered by Rus Wooton
Music Composed by Dose
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane

Updating Thursdays “1000” is the new webcomic from artist Sanford Greene and writer Chuck Brown, with colors by Mike Chung. While still in its early days – only a prologue and first strip have been released – it is unlike any webcomic I’ve read. One that fully leans into its digital first nature with the inclusion of a hip-hop themed soundtrack by Dose, and select sound effects. These extra effects, along with Line’s infinite scroll reading order, make me very interested in seeing where this goes.

Admittedly the first proper entry doesn’t make the best case for itself narratively. The series is inspired by various action manga and understandably throws readers right into the middle of it as people begin transforming into dragons all over the world and it’s up to agents of Elder’s Echo to stop the calamity. The prologue chapter that has been released is where the creative team introduces the cast and premise of the series. The former dragon god Son has been banished from the heavens and only through 1000 acts of goodness could be potentially return to paradise.

Tracking the action in this issue is a bit rough at times. I’ve read other vertical web strips before and while the form offers its own unique opportunities, most strips also stick with clear paneling. This first entry when it uses panels are predominately square in shape and just arranged vertically, it reads as oddly segmented without a sense of flow.

That segmented quality is contrasted with Greene’s other decision of filling this strip with the equivalent of vertical spreads that have an immense sense of scale. The opening sequence where unseen agencies contact one another over the endless skyline of neo-Los Angeles or when Shadow creates a large shadow monster look fantastic on my iPad. Scrolling in these moments accentuates the sense of scale and give the same feel of an excellent tracking shot that explores the narrative space.

Final Verdict: 8.0 – “1000” is off to a fine start, there’s some growing pains but with Greene’s expressive art it’s worth keeping an eye on to see how he grows into this new medium.

Coyotes #1
Written by Sean Lewis
Penciled by Caitlin Yarsky
Inked by Caitlin Yarsky
Colored by Caitlin Yarsky
Lettered by Caitlin Yarsky
Reviewed by Devon Browning

With the many universes that thrive in the world of comic books, its not exactly believable to come across one where the antagonists are coyotes up against a ‘city of lost girls’. And while the apparent hero of this story is a young girl, it does initially give off the vibe that this is merely a child’s tale that may not be in line with stories driven heavily by dark illustrations, grotesque subjects, and characters complimenting to the very tones. However, this is not at all the case for Coyotes. Where appearance alone may find the previously stated true, the first issue abolishes any thought that this story is simplistic, let alone fit for any child. Sean Lewis introduces a group of women that desire what has yet to be favorable to any one of them: vengeance or revenge.

Whether it is a stranger, loved one, or even a piece of your own person, the coyotes lurking among the city take what they please and come back for more -nearly always successful in their pursuits as it was shown by our protagonist Red, her best friend Eyepatch, and their mentor the Duchess. A trio of women who throw around the f-bomb like sailors and I can assure you that it is a delight to read. There are no damsel in distresses in this story, and that’s partly why it’s so enjoyable. The other, and perhaps biggest part, is that they are all women of color drawn beautifully by Caitlin Yarsky who also manages to capture brutal panels that leave in a needed innocence to balance a dark theme with the reality of children involved so heavily in the story.

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The style used is clean and rugged in its movements, the journey of panels all necessary and unique compared to traditional comic books. The coloring is perhaps what stands out the most, as it fits the mood and dialogue of every page, keeping eyes trained to the panel in a fashion that doesn’t take from the dialogue. With desert locale, and blood-soaked moments of the coyote’s attacks, the colors always hold both cold and warmth, balancing the very life of the environment and the death riddled within it. While Lewis and Yarsky seem to kick off the run with a strong issue on all fronts, that leave the readers with a healthy amount of questions regarding the characters and the very twist that the coyotes aren’t what they seem to be…there is one unforgettable hiccup.

Hiccup, not in the sense that it was a true mistake, but rather a questionable decision. Near the end of the issue, we are introduced to the background of what may soon be a major player in the story. A few pages of history for a character that didn’t feel all too significant, and presented in no color whatsoever. With how beautifully Yarsky illustrated the introduction to the series, it felt almost unimportant to read through the panels that almost seemed like a different story completely when reaching the title page for it. If these lasting pages are at all needed for the story, it would have been more delightful if fit into the colorful meat of it along with everything else.

Final Verdict: 8.3 – A surprisingly cold story warmed by a genius blend of colors and style, Coyotes is by far a comic deserving of a place on everybody’s subscriptions with an impressive start.

Generation X #8
Written by Christina Strain
Illustrated by Amilcar Pinna
Colored by Felipe Sobreiro
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by Alexander Jones

Many comics in the current X-Line are dedicated to a sense of familiar nostalgia that ultimately holds them back from greatness. “Generation X” has never been one of those titles and is willing to go to odd corners of the Marvel Universe other books wouldn’t dream of. The narrative is still centered around Jubilee’s team of up-and-comers but the series explores lofty themes like life after the X-Men and what kind of future a C or D-list X-Protagonist could have in a crowded Universe full of heroes. With the addition of Quentin Quire to the cast of misfits, the alignment of the cast and the rest of the team is assessed in a manner keeping readers guessing about the cast members.

Amilcar Pinna’s odd pencils continue to enchant readers with an otherworldly quality, and character proportions that are just technically sound enough. Pinna’s facial expressions and movement for the different cast members make it nearly impossible to get one teen confused with another. Even though the book contains sparse layouts and backgrounds, the conversation and more casual tone of the narrative continually shines through those elements to perfectly complement Christina Strain’s unconventional scripting. This title wouldn’t be as memorable if the Pinna wasn’t taking as many chances with the art direction in the story.

Strain also starts to develop a strong villain in sequences from Pinna that double-down on the horror aspects of the title the artist has never quite found an outlet for. The pacing of the overall series continues to have a brisk, but steady march which should become greatly affecting when the teens start to collide with the villains of the comic. The story is worth celebrating in just how many plot threads are weaved through the story here. Strain adds characterization to the older members of the cast while finding time to dig through the feverish mind of Quentin Quire.

The unexpected elements and dynamics between different characters in the title also really start to shine in the narrative. Strain usually circles back to the odd natures of the mutant powers in bombastic and unexpected ways. The cliffhanger to the issue is a perfect way to further explore the mindset of Jubilee. The younger mutants are still acclimating to their powers in lots of cases which brings out the humorous parts of the title. The informal setting and brash nature of characters like Quire also bring out a range of different tones the plot shoots for. While the subject matter is oftentimes funny, there are still enough insane aspects of the comic to qualify “Generation X” as both a superhero comic and drama series.

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Final Verdict: 7.5 – “Generation X” #8 brings equal parts weird, X-Men and drama to hold the book together as one of the most delightful series to emerge from the ResurrXion.

Green Hornet ’66 Meets the Spirit #5
Written by Fred Van Lente
Illustrated by Bob Q
Coloured by Dearbhla Kelly
Lettered by Travis Lanham
Reviewed by Frida Keränen

The crossover between two legendary detective crime-fighters ends here with a ton of last-minute twists and reveals, some of them more predictable than others. The issue has a feeling of urgency throughout it, with Kato on the verge of bleeding to death and the villain and heroes having a final showdown.

Fred Van Lente now answers the mysteries he has crafted for this series and I have to say one reveal really took me by surprise, but it’s not necessarily something that will have any weight in other media about the Spirit and is most likely to only appear here. The dialogue is a good balance between modern and old-fashioned, and the same can be said for Bob Q’s illustrations. The art has some of the simplicity of the early decades of comic books while the storytelling methods are contemporary. Dearbhla Kelly’s colouring isn’t anything too special but does its job.

The story ends on a warm and happy note but in the vein of many of Will Eisner’s own Spirit stories, there is something that leaves a haunting feeling even after the last page is closed. Here it is the tragic lives and ends of Kid Kraken and his biological father, who at the same time was a comical and very sad character.

Final Verdict: 6.9 A partly surprising finale with illustrations that fit it excellently.

Kid Lobotomy #2
Written by Peter Milligan
Illustrated by Tess Fowler
Colored by Lee Loughridge
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
Reviewed By Kate Kosturski

If Kid Lobotomy thought his first day running a hotel empire was tough…just wait until the second day. That’s because he’s in the bowels of his hotel bleeding to death at the hands of one of the first Suites residents…or is he? The bleeding Kid is actually his shape shifting woman-of-all-work Ottla, and he resorts to some very extreme measures (with a side of PTSD to his band days) to bring her back. We also get to meet some new residents of the Suites — the new artist-in-residence Brigit, and hipster writer Adam Mee who knows he’s smarter than you but also knows he’s losing his mind. Meanwhile, Kid’s sister Rosebud is still out to gaslight him to permanent institutionalization in order to get her rightful piece of the family riches, and what’s with Kid going full-on Kafka in the final pages?

Praise is due to Peter Milligan for excellent storytelling in combining two pieces of classic literature (Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Shakespeare’s King Lear) and giving them the modern, edgy, punk update for today’s sensibilities. For me, some of the more radical subject matter — incest, mental illness — are just a little too much for my personal tastes (particularly the use of lobotomies for mental illness, as someone who has had mental health issues for the better half of a decade). The art and colors by Tess Fowler and Lee Loughridge (respectively) back up this avant-garde writing style, illustrating lust, torment, fear, and cunning in equal measure. If there is such a thing as gothic punk, this art would be it.

I’m still not sure if I am going to continue with this series due to taking personal offense with some of the subject matter, but this creative team continues to push the envelope after a bold, ambitious debut, which is no easy feat.

Final Verdict: 7.5 – This series is still coming strong after a well-received debut issue, and shows what potential there is for more mature subject matter in the comic medium.

Pestilence #5
Written by Frank Tieri
Illustrated by Oleg Okunev
Colored by Rob Schwager
Lettered by Marshall Dillon
Reviewed by Gregory Ellner

Frank Tieri’s development of the undead-creating Black Plague has been by the numbers in some cases, but the use of the virus to show a degradation of morals, speech, and priorities in the infected without a diminishment in their skills helps to separate this incarnation of a zombie apocalypse from many others. With the fight against not just shambling horrors, but also undead knights, the inability of Fiat Lux to fight very well against this threat becomes all the more reasonable, given that Tieri does not show the need to ignore their existing skills in order to increase the threat level. Furthermore, the dark secret explained in “Pestilence” #5 is very understandable and realistic for the era, making it all the more despicable.

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The combined efforts of Oleg Okunev and Rob Schwager have never been prone to shying away from grotesque horror, and their combined artistry and coloring on “Pestilence” #5 is no exception. The undead are not merely random people with some rot on them, but such images as a pregnant zombie with undead children, and more. Time is given to showcase the larger forces, such as the difference between the undead knights and the Fiat Lux, or a physical representation of the former following the latter from Paris toward London. Fields of battle are shown in a landscape view to showcase the sheer amount of the undead, whereas calmer scenes prioritize close-ups on faces.

As “Pestilence” speeds toward its conclusion, it shows little sign of decaying in its structure, even as the antagonists themselves certainly do in a far more literal manner.

Final Verdict: 8.0- Well-written and disturbingly illustrated, “Pestilence” #5 keeps up the pace to stay ahead of its shamblers.

Runaways #3
Written by Rainbow Rowell
Illustrated by Kris Anka
Colored by Matthew Wilson
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Reviewed by Elias Rosner

I was going to rag on “Runaways” when I first read through this issue. Gert’s characterization has been bothering me since the start of this new series. She’s been so angry, so snarky, so immature, and I couldn’t understand why. It clashes with the rest of the Runaways’s new personalities and doesn’t seem to match her original personality either.

But then, re-reading the conversation with Chase at the end, I had a long think about it and realized that, while she was angry and immature and felt out of place, this was exactly who she would be. She was pulled from the early-2000s into the present day (or however the shifting timescale shakes out for the Marvel Universe) and is exactly the same as she was when she died.

Everyone else, however, has grown up and, if not moved on, at least changed so of course she’d be angry, of course she’d be immature. This is even born out in the way Kris Anka draws everyone.

Speaking of Anka’s art, he continues to give us beautiful pages that blend Rowell’s comedy and drama together almost seamlessly. The pages where Gert, Nico, Old Lace, and Chase knock on Karolina’s dorm room door are a great example of this. Gert’s dry humor, the visual gag of the neighbor just walking back into their dorm after seeing old lace (with a small, pink “nope” above their head), and the look of worry and horror on Karolina’s face when she sees Gert back from the dead but, more importantly, her first crush, Nico.

There is just so much to love about the pacing of this issue and the heavy use of shadowing & space that Anka employs. This is the getting the gang back together storyline but it’s not a smooth one, especially because the Runaways were never that cohesive as a team to begin with. There’s a lot of drama stewing and we get some nice teases to the future in this issue (Victor’s head & where the heck even is Molly?)

There is a momentum building but Rowell and Anka haven’t quite ironed out the rough patches quite yet and the question still stands, who are the Runaways if they don’t have anyone or anything to run away from? What reason do they have to be together if they have places they love that they can call home? This is the core of the series, I believe, and I hope that it remains that way, at least for a little while longer.

Final Verdict: 7.1. A great continuation to a series that hasn’t quite found its center yet. Anka, keep drawing those beautiful people and Rowell, keep writing complexly.

//TAGS | Wrapping Wednesday

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