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.
Black Hammer: Reborn #1
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Caitlin Yarsky
Colored by Dave Stewart
Lettered by Nate Piekos
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
I think it’s fair to say that I was skeptical about “Black Hammer: Reborn’s” promise to be an actual neutral starting point, one which told the continuation of the stories of the original two “Black Hammer” series while also being its own thing for new readers. Well, turns out I should never underestimate Jeff Lemire because “Reborn” is exactly what you want from a follow-up series. Newcomers are caught up via Lucy’s internal narration, which frames the original series from the outside, painting a sadder, more stark picture (if that was even possible) while long-time readers get to pick up on the easter eggs and world-building stuff from the side-stories like Doctor Andromeda and Skulldigger. Both are treated to the story of Lucy after she returned to Spiral City from The Farm, which doesn’t go quite as you expect.
Yarsky is an excellent artist to follow up on Dean Ormston’s work on the original “Black Hammer.” Her art is softer and more painterly, as if we’re always catching the characters mid-motion. Not a frenetic motion, as one might associate with the fast-paced motion of a city, but rather the deliberate bob-and-sway of people living their lives, always on the move. Do I even have to mention Stewarts colors? How they draw out the eeriness of the Para-zone, the brutality of the blood near the end, or the drab mundanity of Lucy’s ad-copy office job? Or Piekos’ understated but assertive lettering? His balloons & captions guiding and reinforcing and creating the pace?
Perhaps one could say the same of Yarsky, after reading her work on “Bliss,” or Lemire for the humanist, emotional and deeply personal stories he has told, and continues to tell, through this world. This is a team working in harmony to set the stage for a story that is familiar yet feels raw and real and new. Lucy Webber was Black Hammer. But now she is just Lucy. This is the story of that transition, and perhaps the story of Black Hammer’s rebirth. No prior knowledge required.
Final Verdict: 9.3 – An excellent start to what I expect will be an excellent series. “Black Hammer” is back and I cannot wait for more.
Infinite Frontier #1
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Xermanico
Colored by Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Lettered by Tom Napolitano
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
“Infinite Frontier” #1 covers a lot of ground, establishing a few different status quos from which this series will spin off from. The issue never feels unbalanced or rushed, however, due in part to Xermanico’s ability to ground all of the various settings, from alternate realities to casual conversations. His art is expressive and a lot of fun, sacrificing neither emotion or action. With all of the literal ground covered in this issue, Xermanico’s focus is always spot on, adding unique touches to the various settings and characters, but never straying too far from the book’s core look.
Joshua Williamson clearly worked this script into a lean lather, wasting no time at all bringing in a lot of information that, while abundant and mostly new, never feels overwhelming. Williamson and Xermanico each cover so much ground here that, despite only 32 pages of story, the issue feels double or triple that due to how much is crammed into each page. Williamson juggles quite a few stories, including a few with characters that haven’t been seen a lot lately, but the pages don’t feel like information dumps at all. Instead, the issue zooms by, leaving the reader wanting more.
A big part of that desire is just how fresh all of this feels. While it hasn’t been too long since DC’s last mega event, “Death Metal” felt out of step with the rest of the DC Universe. “Infinite Frontier” feels like the centerpiece of the current DC line, and these stories have clear application not just to what we’re reading in other books, but point towards an exciting and new future for these characters. It’s not all sunshine, however, and the peril the characters find themselves in feels both organic to their stories and pivotal to the DC Universe as a whole.Continued below
Final Verdict: 8.1 – A strong kick off (well, after the #0 issue from March) to what promises to be an exciting miniseries.
Written, illustrated, colored, and lettered by Run
Reviewed by Henry Finn
Set in a twisted dystopian version of Los Angeles, “MFKZ” #1 provides a look into an evil version of the city of Angels. The comic feels like a ride through the writer’s mind without the traditional storytelling techniques such as a three act structure, inciting incident, or hero’s journey. The first issue is broken into three chapters, which seems to follow no logical division. Scenes from a world of wrestling are inserted as bookends without any indication of what connection these scenes have with the story.
There is very little character development or introduction to the main characters so by the end of the first issue you’ve followed them through a perilous journey without ever being sure of who these people are and why you should care about them.
The art is engaging and endearing as it follows a handmade, freehand style. Within each panel you will not find a straight line or a right angle, which adds to its charm. It feels like the entire comic was illustrated with a set of sharpies. The line edges are jagged and seem to bleed into the paper. But this effect feels right at home within the world presented.
The book also bounces between styles adding panels that look airbrushed or incredibly textured or graphic design to convey different states of mind. When Angelino, the lead character, drives by a beautiful girl, suddenly the next panel is airbrushed and juxtaposes the rough textures with super smooth ones. When Angelino is dreaming, those visions are rendered via computer with the only straight lines and clean edges in the book.
All in all, you can feel the personal touch and the love the creator has for this world, but the actual storytelling feels episodic without a clear connective tissue.
Final Verdict 5.5 – An experience more than a story, but a unique one at that
Sonic the Hedgehog 30th Anniversary Special #1
Written by Ian Flynn, Clint McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, Griffin McElroy, and Gale Galligan
Penciled by Aaron Hammerstrom, Thomas Rothlisberger, Tracy Yardley, and Mauro Fonseca
Inked by Reggie Graham and Matt Froese
Colored by Reggie Graham, Valentina Pinto, and Nathalie Fourdraine
Lettered by Shawn Lee
Reviewed by Gregory Ellner
In the first story of “Sonic the Hedgehog 30th Anniversary Special” #1, ‘Seasons of Chaos,’ Ian Flynn crafts a highly amusing tale from what is apparently early in Sonic’s history. Using characters often kept away from the comics (for reasons irrelevant to this discussion), he gives everyone time to shine in a one-and-done tale that takes up the majority of the pages, even fitting in some jokes for fans of the games that work best if read between the lines.
Aaron Hammerstrom’s pencils, brought together with Tracy Yardley and Thomas Rothlisberger’s lineart alongside the inking prowess of Reggie Graham and Matt Froese, is highly animated, while simultaneously managing to be just stiff enough at times to look like screenshots right out of the side-scrolling two-dimensional Classic era of Sonic video games. Faces are highly emotive, but also just cartoonish enough to keep them from being disturbing, and even characters that lack faces are able to show their emotional depth.
On top of his work with the inks, Reggie Graham does excellent work on the colors of ‘Seasons of Chaos,’ using splashes of bright color and deeper, darker shades to manipulate the mood while adding menace or comedy depending on the situation. Even the more gradient heavy moments feel as though they expertly capture the feeling of the early days of Sonic games.
For the second story, ‘Sonic Learns to Drive,’ Clint, Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy work together for a pretty simple plot, but the eponymous character’s attitude and obliviousness, on top of some more video game-based jokes, make it very entertaining. The artwork of Mauro Fonseca, combined with the colors of Valentina Pinto, make for a tighter, more focused style for the images in this tale, with thicker lines making everything seem less “cartoonish” but not too serious either, and the colors being brighter and more reliant on what is physically happening, rather than the mood of the scenes.Continued below
With the third story, ‘Dr. Eggman’s Birthday,’ Gale Galligan’s writing pulls things back into focus from the perspective of the villains, with almost all of the speech being a monologue by the eponymous antagonist. In spite of including a big fight, it remains the calmest of the stories, and helps to settle readers after a long journey. The artwork by Rothlisberger enhances this effect with soft illustrations, with the cool colors and similarly softer hues chosen and utilized by Nathalie Fourdraine solidifying the effect and relaxing readers after a long trek through Sonic’s mythos.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – Fun for everyone, and a treat for fans of the video game franchise, this special is a nice treat for Sonic fans new and old.
Undiscovered Country #13
Written by Scott Snyder & Charles Soule
Illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Leonardo Marcello Grassi
Colored by Matt Wilson
Lettered by Crank!
Reviewed by Alexander Manzo
“Undiscovered Country” begins its third arc with its characters entering Possibility, the third land explored in the series. It’s a good issue to start with even if the reader hadn’t read any prior issues. The main characters are aboard a mysterious pirate ship taking them somewhere they’ve never been. Scott Snyder and Charles Soule also create a well-balance between the talking and action in this issue. Although the action is abrupt, it is needed because it’s a lot of discussing their next steps rather than doing anything. This issue also delves into the past of Valentina Sandoval. In current events, she is an edgier character willing to break the rules and with the flashback segments, we see she had a more sheltered life along with a love for superheroes. This drop of information, mixed with the entry into Possibility, opens the arc to a new dynamic of heroes and villains rather than a land of grey from previous issues.
The artwork by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Leonardo Marcello Grassi has grainy features that help with this post-apocalyptic world. Everything feels a bit dirty and messy which helps, considering this team of characters has been through the wringer in the past two zones. They also can shift the tone from slow and steady to action at a moment’s notice. Once the bullets start flying, the panel work becomes messy with different size panels and overlap that keep the reader’s heart pacing as things start to move quickly. The transformation of Cheng Enlou’s hand into a claw is a good example of their range in a more science fiction moment.
The illustration of eyes throughout the story was distracting at times. Often they were very wide in a shocked state while the dialogue didn’t match, so it could come off as confusing. There was a moment when the Captain is speaking and all the characters in the back have this angry, evil look, which didn’t necessarily match the script.
Matt Wilson makes great color choices for the scenes in and out of the boat’s cabin. Inside, it is much redder and orange from the candle source, as opposed to outside where the scenes are lit by the bright sun. He also creates great contrast with the black and white characters against the bright blue water and sky. This choice works well with the details from Camuncoli and Grassi on the female pirates coming onboard to highlight a hostile takeover.
Final Verdict: 8.2 – A great opening to a new chapter in this crazy world-building series.