There’s 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.
Hit Me #1
Written by Christa Faust
Illustrated by Priscilla Petraites
Colored by Marco Lesko
Lettered by Andworld Design
Reviewed by Henry Finn
“Hit Me” #1 is marketed as a high-octane thriller from writer Christa Faust and artist Priscilla Petraites. The story is inspired by Faust’s real life experience working as a professional dominatrix and as a performer and producer of adult films. Her wealth of personal experience shows in the little details such as how our protagonist Lulu explains her job to readers. She explains that she gets paid by the bruise, and there is a variabler menu of abuse that she’ll take on for a fee. She makes it explicitly clear that there is a line between what is consensual and what isn’t. She makes it abundantly clear she doesn’t allow people to violate her boundaries either -or she’ll sick her guard dog on you.
While the experience Faust has in her life oozes throughout the pages and deepens the character’s motivations, I find her approach to the genre itself on the side of generic. Too many pages are filled with the most literal narration you can possibly have. For instance, in one page she is attacked and shot by a bullet while jumping to the ground, and her inner dialogue is literally ‘I hit the deck as a bullet kissed my left shoulder.’ Maybe I’m not deep enough in the genre to understand if this is good writing or not but in general when the description matches exactly the image I’m seeing I just wonder if that’s a missed opportunity to add a deeper context to the presentation.
Petraites does a great job tackling the visual duties and makes the most of Faust’s script. She pays particular attention into the way she creates emotion and context that is tied to each character’s motivations. For instance in a scene where the slimy short boss appears with two gorgeous models at his side, Petraites makes sure to draw the models looking away and with disgust. Colorist Marco Lesko does a good job of painting the scenes in appropriate noir/thriller tones while keeping everything smooth and within the style Petraites sets up with her thin line work.
Final Verdict: 6.5 – A good read if you want to learn more about a feminine perspective on empowerment
Naomi Season Two #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis and David F. Walker
Illustrated and Colored by Jamal Campbell
Lettered by Wes Abbott
Reviewed by Quinn Tassin
“Naomi Season Two” #1 is a more than welcome return for a delightful comic. This series is unique among DC’s line in that its firm focus is on the fact that Naomi is a normal person with a family and friends and a life who was thrust into a world of gods. Sure, family and life is a part of other comics in the line but here, being a superhero is more like an aspect of the titular character’s life that she has to deal with more than her central purpose. Of course becoming a superhero would lead to awkwardness and tension with your parents. Of course everyone in your little town would have thoughts.
The great villain here is the disruption to Naomi’s everyday life. We open on Naomi explaining her new life to her therapist and it’s really excellent. It’s not some overly dramatic “LOOK SHE’S IN THERAPY BECAUSE BEING A SUPERHERO IS HARD” sequence so much as the comic’s way of saying “this is someone who goes to therapy and oh boy is her life crazy.” The richest material, of course, is Naomi’s strained relationship with her father. The portrayal of a scared father who just seems mad and aggressive and the daughter who doesn’t understand what’s happening is wrenching and well executed. There’s plenty of sympathy for both parties here and it makes the conflict all that much harder to read. Walker and Bendis’s script also strongly contributes to the relative realism of the issue, making conversation feel natural and each and every character distinct and dynamic.Continued below
Jamal Campbell’s artwork is characteristically superlative. He’s an incredible character designer whose care for Naomi leaps off of the page. The rendering of her hair, in particular, is done with a level of care that’s rarely provided to Black characters. Every movement is filled with life and emotion from an awkward dinner to Naomi flying away from her house. The colors are warm and gorgeous as well. The visual flex moment of the issue is Naomi’s premonition of some mysterious destruction which features the beautiful hues of a sunset under much scarier circumstances.
“Naomi Season 2” #1 is a simple issue. There are relatively few real events but the story does’t feel less important for that. If anything, it makes for a miniseries that’s going to be easier to connect with. The mystery of Dee’s disappearance and Naomi’s father’s role in it is an interesting development, though honestly less so than the normal goings on in the McDuffie family life. No matter, what, it’s nice to see this series back on the shelf.
Final Verdict: 7.8 – Normal life is even more interesting than superheroics when it comes to Naomi.
Tales of Exandria: The Bright Queen #4
Written by Matthew Mercer and Darcy Van Poelgeest
Illustrated by CoupleOfKooks
Colored by Cris Peter
Lettered by Ariana Maher
Reviewed by Gregory Ellner
As an entry to a miniseries, “Tales of Exandria: The Bright Queen” #4 is not particularly inviting to newcomers, though as a finale, it perhaps has a right not to be. For those not already versed in the cosmology and religious aspects of Matthew Mercer’s world for the “Critical Role” campaigns, the importance of various beings may be difficult to understand through Darcy Van Poelgeest’s writing. However, enough is perhaps comprehensible to get at least the general feeling of what is going on in the pages of this tale’s finale.
CoupleOfKooks, already a fantastic cover artist on various issues of the related “Vox Machina Origins” series, showcases a breadth of emotion, from anguish to fear to satisfaction, and it is through their careful illustrations that the weight of being at the head of the Krynn Dynasty comes to the fore. Monstrous creatures are drawn in vivid detail, and the framing of various panels really goes to show how a scene might be narrated if it were in the famous streamed Dungeons & Dragons campaign that gave this series life in the first place.
Cris Peter’s colors are dark and dour, but somehow simultaneously vibrant all the same. The dark of Xhorhas meshes well with the dark elves, making the moonlight truly bring them to life. At the same time, those deep shades make the monsters at work all the more frightening, the lack of any light to them behaving the terror and putting them into definite contrast against the protagonists, helping readers to take the side of those who wish the creatures gone.
Final Verdict: 7.0 – Though perhaps difficult to understand for newcomers to “Critical Role,” this miniseries entry is good with its emotional beats.
Trial of the Amazons #1
Written by Stephanie Williams, Vita Ayala, Joëlle Jones, Michael W. Conrad & Becky Cloonan
Illustrated by Laura Braga, Sylar Patridge, Joëlle Jones & Elena Casagrande
Lettered by Jim Cheung & Jay David Ramos
Colored by Romulo Fajardo Jr. & Jordie Bellaire
Reviewed by Michael Govan
“Trial of the Amazons” #1 sets the stage for the big Wonder Woman crossover of the same name. Some things to note right off the bat: there are no action sequences in this issue. That’s not necessarily a negative but does depend on the reader. These are superhero comics after all, one probably expects at least a few punches or energy blasts. Also, it’s worth noting that your reading experience will likely be richer if you’ve been reading recent Wonder Woman related titles such as “Nubia & The Amazons”. This issue features characters that debuted in that series, the Esquecida Tribe debuted in “Wonder Girl” I imagine and so on, so forth.
Instead of action, this issue is a dialogue-heavy affair, complete with multiple thought bubbles and you don’t really see thought bubbles like that these days. I, personally, would consider this a plus as the dialogue allows for a great deal of characterization of our many players. Some standouts are the loving Phillipus, the confident, war-ready Queen Faruka and Queen Nubia, trying her best to keep everything together. The Themysciran tribe tries to remain peaceful, gracious hosts, the Esquecidas seem full of youthful energy while the Bana-Mighdall are happy to confront every other Amazon outside their tribe.Continued below
The differences among the tribes extend to their designs as well. Themyscirans adorn themselves in elegant robes/dresses like you might see in Ancient Greece, the Bana-Mighdall all wear armor and brandish weapons (at least one’s carrying a machine gun) while the Esquecidas wear colorful face paint. The spread where they announce themselves led by Yara Flor is a highlight for sure.
The issue also introduces another element, a murder mystery. It is a comic trope that is starting to wear a bit thin I believe but as of this issue, it still could be interesting to see where it goes. The stage is set, time to see how it all plays out.
Final Verdict: 7.0 – “Trial of Amazons” #1 marks a decent start for the crossover event.