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    Wrapping Wednesday: Micro Reviews for the Week of 05/22/19

    By | May 27th, 2019
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    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.

    Animosity #21
    Written by Marguerite Bennet
    Illustrated by Elton Thomasi
    Colored by Rob Schwager
    Lettered by Carlos M. Mangual
    Reviewed by Matthew Blair

    “Animosity” #21 puts the plot of the series on hold in order to talk about the philosophical relationship between humans, animals, and the divine. The main characters are sent on a vision quest by a collection of snakes, taking them on a journey that discusses the evolution of mankind’s relationship to nature beginning with the naturalist beliefs of early man and culminating with the Biblical Cain and Abel. Writer Marguerite Bennet knows her mythology and philosophy and having the vision quest guides be a collection of snakes is a brilliant touch.

    The two greatest strengths of the artwork in “Animosity” #21 are the emotions that we see on the faces of the animals, and the scope and scale of the vision quest itself. Convincing a human audience that an animal is feeling complex emotions isn’t easy, but artist Elton Thomasi manages to make the animal characters as relatable as any human. As for the vision quest itself, the artwork combines with Rob Schwager’s fantastic colors to pull the reader into a higher plane of understanding where humans and animals are small and insignificant specks set against the backdrop of something ancient, vast, and dangerous.

    “Animosity” #21 is not light reading and deals with some pretty heavy moral and philosophical ideas. While a dedicated reader of the series may not appreciate the break in the plot, it’s definitely an issue that succeeds in making readers think and will stay with them long after the book is put down.

    Final Verdict: 8.6 – A well written, well drawn, and gorgeously colored issue that pauses the main plot of the series to offer some deeper thoughts on the relationship between mankind and nature.

    Doctor Strange #14
    Written by Mark Waid
    Penciled by Barry Kitson
    Inked by Scott Koblish
    Colored by Brian Reber
    Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
    Reviewed by Gustavo S. Lodi

    There is something to be said about the dissonance that some comics have in regards to their plot and the visual style chose to portray. Comic books are essentially a visual form of story-telling, so no matter the underlying script, without a strong linkage between intent and what the eyes capture, there is not a strong final product.

    “Doctor Strange” #14 suffers from his dilemma, despite the strong creative team behind it. Waid’s script – and mild spoilers ahead – is grandiose. It sees Doctor Strange transversing the mythical dimensions, trying to help Galactus reach an energy source. He is accompanied by his former wife and former enemies, moving from one exotic location to the next. It is meant to be larger than life, nearly impossible, with ample opportunity for inventive design.

    And yet, Kitson dares too little. Sure, his facial expressions and emotions remain as strong as ever, from everything from this issue reads like a mundane adventure, one that could take place in the back alleys of New York, rather than on this multitude of realism. From page and panel design (which mostly follow traditional grids and the occasional splash page), to how beasts and foes fail to bring a new visual to the table, Kitson just seemed to miss opportunities to flex his more creative muscles.

    At the end of the day, readers of “Doctor Strange” #14 will likely face a dichotomy on their experience. The stakes, dialogues, and situations the characters are in indicative imminent danger and intense reality-bending. What they see, however, is anything but, looking and feeling like a casual stroll across the well-known beaten path. There is a lot to expect from this plot and its twists, but the entire package falls short of excitement.

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    Final Verdict: 6.5 – Despite its interesting plot twist and the situations it places key characters, “Doctor Strange” #14 is too safe for its own good on the visual department.

    Elvira: Mistress of the Dark Spring Special #1
    Written & Illustrated by Fernando Ruiz, Dan Parent & Scott Bryan Wilson
    Colored by Valentina Pinto & Brittany Pezzillo
    Lettered by Taylor Esposito
    Reviewed by Chris Egan

    As fans of the B horror queen should not be surprised by, this issue is wall to wall puns and sexual innuendo. Elvira’s air-headed misadventures are always fun in their own way and this Spring Special plays up the classic tropes in both of its stories. In ‘Drive-In of the Dead’ the mistress of the dark gets fed up hosting schlocky double features at the local drive-in and decides she is meant to strike it big in Hollywood. Getting hired for the next big horror flick, she realizes things might not be all they’re cracked up to be. With story and art by Ruiz and Parent, we get a silly PG-13 Archie-style horror spoof that strides through send-ups of well-known horror movies, characters, and creators.

    The second, shorter story by Wilson, ‘The Satan 500’ has Elvira at the center of a car race with souls on the line. Again, the story is filled with over the top dialogue and campy horror humor. The entire issue is quirky and chuckle-worthy, but readers who aren’t into Elvira or campy horror, on the whole, won’t feel the need to check it out.

    A double feature of cute horror-comedy with fan favorite Elvira bumbling her way through. Nothing new, but fans will enjoy it. Solid cartoon-ish artwork throughout keeps the tone right with the silly scripts. The writers definitely capture Elvira’s voice and personality. In today’s more politically correct climate, comics like this are quickly losing their place in this world. It really is all in good fun, but it might have a harder time finding its audience.

    Final Verdict: 6.0 – Classic Elvira humor and fans will get a kick out the nods to horror and the mistress of the macabre’s big round…pumpkins.

    Incursion #4
    Written by Andy Diggle and Alex Paknadel
    Illustrated by Doug Braithwaite
    Colored by Diego Rodriguez and Leonardo Paciarotti
    Lettered by Marshall Dillon
    Reviewed by Elias Rosner

    Valiant’s penchant for four issue mini events is, perhaps, their greatest asset. Each one is self-contained yet furthers the central characters’ arcs and complicated the universe just a little bit each time. “Incursion” is the latest step forwards for Gilad, the Eternal Warrior, and Tama, the Geomancer and this week’s issue brought a major chapter in their relationship to a close. It’s a bittersweet issue, a tone that Paknadel & Diggle weave into all aspects of the story, including the ultimate resolution to the threat that is the Imperatrix Virago.

    Braithwaite’s pencils are something to behold once again, really channeling the grim realities of the Eternal Warrior’s predicament, detailed and soft, allowing the coloring to finish rendering the world in all its dusty wonder. The fight scenes are brutal yet always clear and easy to follow while the slower moments carry the weight of the characters’ emotions. The same is true for the lettering, although the highly digital nature of the balloons conflicts with the physical appearance of the art.

    One of the themes that this issue explores is the role of the mentor, with Gilad and Virago being opposites and yet similar. Both have charges that, now, have deep ties to necromancy and have the ability to reshape the world. However, where they differ in how they see them. Virago saw Syntila as a tool to feed herself, twisting her and her necromancy. Gilad sought necromancy to save Tama and, when she was fueled by the hatred it brought about, he did what he had to do to keep that hatred tempered.

    It’s a standard plot progression, as much of this series was, but the ways in which the creative team chose to explore it and present it made for a meaningful and enjoyable read. “Incursion” #4 closes this mini and opens it up for whatever comes next and, thanks to the strong focus on the personal in the midst of the worldly, it made for a powerful ending.

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    Final Verdict: 7.9 – The “Incursion” may be over but this isn’t the end for the Eternal Warrior and the Geomancer, and I cannot wait to see more.

    Justice League Dark #11
    Written by James Tynion IV
    Illustrated by Alvaro Martínez Bueno
    Colored by Brad Anderson
    Lettered by Rob Leigh
    Reviewed by Gregory Ellner

    Over the course of “Justice League Dark,” James Tynion IV has delved into the nature of magic in the DC Universe and the various heroes and villains in that corner of the shared world. With “Justice League Dark” #11, he brings in a key element of his ‘The Lords of Chaos’ arc: the difference between order magic and chaos magic. By utilizing a split perspective, between those facing Nabu and his fellow Lords of Order and the duo going to speak with a Lord of Chaos, he keeps the tension high without sacrificing interesting exposition either.

    As always, Alvaro Martínez Bueno provides absolutely beautiful artwork, meshing flowing, detailed character design and emotional facial expressions with flowing, soft representations of magic that showcase how different it is from the rest of reality. In one memorable moment, he even messes around with panel structure itself, actually ripping a hole through several panels to demonstrate how magic influences the world.

    Much like Bueno, Brad Anderson’s colors continue to shine into these dark realms of the DC Universe. By using sinister violet shades for chaos magic in contrast to the falsely benevolent golden light of order, Anderson is able to show the dangers of the power sought out by Zatanna Zatara and Wonder Woman even before Mordru explains the differences. Furthermore, the way in which the aforementioned golden light clashes against the deep shadows cast by the setting and its dark, dour tone with respect to the fate of magic itself helps to show how otherworldly and to a degree unwanted such often beneficial magic is in the frame of “Justice League Dark” #11.

    Final Verdict: 8.0 – A dual narrative merges with continually well-done artwork and colors to make for a very good showing in the latest part of ‘The Lords of Order.’

    Monstress #22
    Written by Marjorie Liu
    Illustrated by Sana Takeda
    Lettered by Rus Wooton
    Reviewed by Vanessa Boney

    The summary page at the start of the issue gives new readers hope, as it makes “Monstress” #22 seem like a great jumping on point, but buyer beware. While it recaps the previous issue, it should instead give a general overview of the story so far, which would be a lot more helpful.

    Liu doesn’t take the time to reiterate previously established plot points. The names of the players in this tale who do not actually appear in “Monstress” #22 are dropped left and right with no explanations as to whom they are or what role they play. Some of the characters in this issue are not addressed by name at any point, and that makes it hard to connect to or care about them. At the end of “Monstress” #22, there is an obvious major reveal, however, without context, there is no way for new readers to know how important this reveal is to the plot.

    Takeda’s art is inconsistent and falls flat for most of “Monstress” #22 In one panel, the Lord Doctor’s and Maika’s hands are huge and noticeably disproportionate to their bodies, and are even a different complexion compared to their faces. The Lord Doctor’s facial scars are literally black lines drawn across his face and lack depth, appearing amateurish and unrealistic, which is a stark contrast to the lion character (whose name isn’t mentioned in “Monstress” #22); who’s facial scars are a different shade than his face, which is more believable and realistic. The white dog that appears at the end of the comic seems out of place, as he looks like a computer-animated drawing as opposed to hand drawings like the rest of the characters in the comic. The stairs have no dimension and go from more resembling the flat surface of the yellow brick road at the bottom, to long, singular rectangles at the top. These are just some of the inconsistencies with the art.

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    Final Verdict: 4.0 – With lazy, inconsistent art, and a lot of dialogue with no real payoff, “Monstress” #22 falls short of satisfactory.

    Redneck #20
    Written by Donny Cates
    Illustrated by Lisandro Estherren
    Colored by Dee Cunniffe
    Lettered by Joe Sabino
    Reviewed by Christa Harader

    “Redneck” #20 continues an exciting arc that’s kicking the lore door down in Cates’s and Estherren’s vampire universe. Carroña is an exciting villain, and paying homage to the history of the Southwest by recognizing the clan’s place between borders in a variety of ways is good storytelling, plain and simple. We’re still reeling from the events of issue #17, and now we’ve got quite a revelation on our hands. No spoilers, though. Just know this: in case you wondered whether or not JV truly is a badass, issue #20 answers that question.

    Estherren’s art continues to dazzle with its spectral ghoulishness, and the recent story turns mean each issue in this arc is a visual feast. Of particular note is how Estherren has subtly evolved Perry over the past 20 issues. She’s retained some of her soft, femme appearance from recent issues but there’s still that hawkish, hungry look lurking under the surface. Cunniffe’s work is exceptional, with a lot of hellfire and desert tones baked into this issue. Sabino continues to keep the book ticking along nicely with clear lettering in an unassuming font and well-styled balloons.

    “Redneck” doesn’t spare lives and it doesn’t pull punches. The book has guts and heart in equal measure, and Cates knows when to deploy each for devastating effect. We’ve come to care an awful lot about our flawed family, and with Evil in the wind and Carroña’s exceptionally weird and earth-shattering plan at JV’s feet, there’s nothing this comic won’t do to chase storytelling perfection.

    Final Verdict: 8.5 – “Redneck” #20 ups the stakes in a major way for JV and the clan, with excellent visuals, colors, and lettering.

    Star Wars: Age of Rebellion- Jabba the Hutt
    Written by Greg Pak
    Illustrated by Emilio Laiso, Roland Boschi, Marco Turini
    Colored by Andres Mossa, Rachelle Rosenberg, Neeraj Menon
    Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham
    Reviewed by Niklynn Dunn

    Do we really need a one-shot focusing on Jabba the Hutt? I’m not sure. But nonetheless “Star Wars: Age of Rebellion- Jabba the Hutt” exists and Greg Pak presents a fun story showcasing what Jabba the Hutt does best. And what Jabba does best is tricking people. Also, he’s pretty good at chugging a sacred Tusken made dessert wine called Tusken Wind. It’s a wine everyone wants and Jabba, like the crime-lord he is, knows how to get it at a price that doesn’t cost him much. Trickery to do with a weird, probably nasty tasting wine is a plot fitting for a Jabba the Hutt story and the world around him.

    For the art, each three of the artists of “Star Wars: Age of Rebellion- Jabba the Hutt” present what you expect out of a star wars comic. It gets the job done. The art is actually very reminiscent of the, now labeled else-world, “Star Wars” comics from Dark Horse before Marvel regained the comics’ rights. Some panels look great, but never amazing. It’s good comic booking don’t get me wrong, you never get lost in the story and characters look like themselves. The color-story really is top notch and probably the best part of the art. Each location has it’s on vibes. Canto Bight, Tatooine, Mos Eisley, and The Dunes are distinct. The pop colored lettering to represent gunfire at The Dunes is epic too. I never found the art transition to be jarring either and that’s common when multiple artists are working on the book. It just would have been nice if Marvel could have listed the specific pages each artist and colorists worked on in the credits.

    Overall, this issue is a fun one-shot story of Jabba the Hutt. So if you’re hankering for a slimy Jabba the Hutt story, “Star Wars: Age of Rebellion- Jabba the Hutt” has got what you need.

    Final Verdict: 7.9 – “Star Wars: Age of Rebellion- Jabba the Hutt” continues the series’ trend of providing a good one and done “Star Wars” story.

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    War Of The Realms Strikeforce: The Land Of Giants #1
    Written by Tom Taylor
    Penciled by Jorge Molina
    Inked by Adriano Di Benedetto
    Colored by David Curiel
    Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino
    Reviewed by Alexander Jones

    “War of the Realms” is in full swing at Marvel comics and the publisher is continuing the saga this week with a surprisingly integral chapter into the overall saga with “War Of The Realms Strikeforce: The Land Of Giants” #1. The issue groups a fun team of heroes together to follow the plot thread of Thor from the main title. While the book is light on new information and is only a one-shot setting up future issues of the event series, the script does a great job alluding to where the title could go next while telling a complete story. Tom Taylor’s endearing script in the issue does a great job setting the stage for issues of the series to come. Jorge Molina’s linework is a great fit for the script and gives the issue a distinct aesthetic.

    Tom Taylor has proven he has an adept grasp of being able to strike a balance of humor and drama in his superhero work. This entry pairs the softer side of Spider-Man with a level of tragedy that the issue manages to pay-off as the title progresses. There are several jokes in the issue that are endearing but subtle enough to keep readers from groaning. Taylor’s script has a lot to do in a limited page count. This issue is informed by “War of the Realms” but ends the core conflict and story by the last few pages of the script.

    Jorge Molina’s clean line work and page composition make for an excellent companion to Taylor’s script. Molina captures the harsh environment of Jotunheim with the appropriate amount of grit and majesty with the world belonging to the realms. Molina’s expressions can be dull and uninteresting in certain moments. In most panels, the characters have a certain action they are performing that keeps the title engaging all the way through. Molina is an excellent sequential storyteller and keeps the art direction fluid and clear with each and every page.

    “War Of The Realms Strikeforce: The Land Of Giants” #1 is a solid issue laying the groundwork for the inevitable return of the Odinson. The entry does a great job filling out a plot point within “War of the Realms” with slightly more context while telling a solid, self-contained story.

    Final Verdict: 7.8 – “War Of The Realms Strikeforce: The Land Of Giants” #1 is a solid done-in-one issue that adds context to the event.

    Wonder Woman #71
    Written by G. Willow Wilson
    Illustrated by Xermanico
    Lettered by Pat Brosseau
    Colored by Romulo Fajardo Jr.
    Reviewed by Michael Govan

    When I was a kid, I was fascinated by Greek mythology. The Olympians were like the ancient equivalent of superheroes…or supervillains, depending on which myth you’re reading. One thing that becomes very clear if you get into the myths is that the Greek gods could be real jerks if they were in the mood. Everyone from pigheaded Zeus to noble Athena would abuse their cosmic power for selfish reasons.

    In true Olympian fashion, Atlantiades has been a bit of a pain. The demigod is completely self-centered and has uprooted people’s lives, insisting that they know best all while hitting on Wonder Woman. This issue really focuses on Atlantiades and less on Diana. I went back and forth between being annoyed and amused by the demigod’s actions. In the end, Atlantiades only sort of/kind of learns their lesson, managing to hit on Diana one last time. Yep, a greek god alright.

    The other ‘lead’ (Wonder Woman really did feel like a supporting character this issue) Maggie finds herself up against a giant Greek monster. Maggie is much more likable, a down-to-earth woman who finds herself on an epic quest with a magic sword. Fish out of water stories have been told a million different times and for good reason. They can often be very enjoyable. I’m definitely rooting for this particular underdog.

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    The art is solid throughout “Wonder Woman” #71. Atlantiades spreading their wings and rising up like an angel was a standout page. While the reveal of the Greek monster Maggie goes up against didn’t inspire much fear, the giant is dripping with menace on the final page. It was also fun to see Diana join the fray, slamming into the behemoth at full speed. It all comes together to make for a pretty intriguing issue.

    Final Verdict: 7.0 – Monsters and demigods run rampant in the wonderful world of Wonder Woman.


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