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Wrapping Wednesday: Micro Reviews for the Week of 07/31/19

By | August 5th, 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.

Avengers #22
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Stefano Caselli
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Colored by Jason Keith
Reviewed by Michael Govan

“Avengers” #22 is a pretty low-key issue. Well, low-key for the Avengers at least. They do attempt to perform an exorcism on a murderous, haunted car. I just mean the world isn’t at stake and there are no epic fight sequences.

The exorcism is pretty fun. Blade is, of course, ready to just shoot or stab the problem and be done with it. Daimon Hellstrom guest-stars and the whole thing is kind of weird and silly in the way comics can be when they don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s less Punisher and more Howard the Duck if that makes any sense. I mean, Stefano Caselli does a solid job on the artwork throughout the issue but my favorite panel hands down is the Hell Charger parked in the middle of the exorcism circle. It’s just so hilarious.

It’s also nice to see the focus put on Robbie Reyes. He’s a great legacy character and was a compelling lead of “All-New Ghost Rider”. The guy no longer has an ongoing title so this new arc, ‘Challenge of the Ghost Riders’, feels overdue to me. I also liked the final page stinger with Johnny Blaze. If we end up with anything like “Ghost Racers” from the big ‘Secret Wars’ event, that will be great.

The subplot didn’t really grip me though. Iron Man discovers a fossilized Iron Man helmet from the Stone Age and it feels like we’re inching towards those ancient Avengers that Jason Aaron introduced. None of that stuff interests me. Secret histories can be fun but this one’s not my cup of tea. The less of that, the better.

Final Verdict: 6.5 – Ghost Riders, rev up your engines!

Death’s Head #1
Script by Tini Howard
Art by Kei Zama
Colors by Felipe Sobreiro
Letters by VC’s Travis Lanham
Reviewed by Matthew Blair

Marvel superheroes don’t get much more obscure than the cast of characters assembled for “Death’s Head” #1. It’s certainly telling when the most famous character to appear in the comic is Yondu from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

It’s perfectly alright if you pick up “Death’s Head” #1 and have no idea Death’s Head, Wiccan, or Hulkling are because writer Tini Howard does a great job of introducing each character and what they want. Death’s Head is a knock off Terminator robot who got fired from his job by Yondu and finds himself in a bad spot on Earth, Wiccan is a magic-user who wants to rejoin the Avengers, and Hulkling is a shape-shifting Kree and Skrull hybrid who doesn’t want to die. The end of the story lays the foundation for some sort of inter-dimensional/magic mystery that is kind of forced and contrived but promises to be engaging in future issues.

Sadly, while the writing does a great job of making the characters understandable, the same cannot be said for the art. It’s very clear the Kei Zama has a considerable amount of talent, and the comic has a wonderful grungy punk rock aesthetic and fantastic action. Unfortunately, a high panel count of each page, coupled with an emphasis on dynamic action and heavy shadows, makes the comic look jumbled and confusing.

“Death’s Head” #1 is a decent comic with some considerable problems. However, the creative team deserves a tremendous amount of respect for their efforts to shed light on some of the more obscure and unrecognizable superheroes in the Marvel universe and provide the reader with an interesting and engaging story.

Final Verdict: 6.1 – A decent story that is worth reading if you’re looking for something different from Marvel, but cluttered and confusing artwork stop this comic from being the best it can be.

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The Green Lantern Annual #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Colored by Steve Oliff
Lettered by Tom Orzechowski
Reviewed by Shamus Clancy

With almost a year of bonkers space operatic concepts under his belt on the main “The Green Lantern” series, Grant Morrison effectively utilizes this annual to slow things down a bit and take a more personal approach to Hal Jordan’s adventures. So frequently, readers have seen Hal as a member of an intergalactic army with the Green Lantern Corps and it feels as if they’re his family. John Stewart and Kyle Rayner are brothers to Hal (Guy Gardner might be his wacky cousin). It’s refreshing to see Hal’s literal blood family members in “The Green Lantern Annual” #1 in a setting that is much more grounded, yet still delivering that hard sci-fi action.

Giuseppe Camuncoli’s cross-hatching technique is well-suited for a story that feels like it could be taken straight from a late-’90s DC issue. His overall art, however, looks a bit generic at times in “The Green Lantern Annual” #1. For those readers who may be unfamiliar with the extended Jordan family, it can be difficult to discern which relative of Hal’s is which throughout the comic. Sure, family members obviously look alike and Morrison always incorporates seldom-used characters into his writing, but it’s a deterrent when a reader can’t exactly tell who a character is meant to be.

Camuncoli’s art is not as consistent as Liam Sharp’s on “The Green Lantern,” but the illustrator excels when he’s drawing the obscure hero AirWave (Hal’s younger cousin, who is also confusingly named Hal) and the newest Green Lantern, the radio wave-powered Krkkzz Zappl. In an issue focusing more so on Hal’s personal life, it may have been more effective to have a penciler who could capture those family dynamics in “The Green Lantern Annual” #1 better than one who does electric, splashy linework.

While the artwork may not be top-notch, “The Green Lantern Annual” #1 is an enjoyable quick breather from the weighty cosmic epic Morrison has been penning in the main Green Lantern series.

Final Verdict: 7.9 – A fun and light Morrison tale that will have readers skipping their next family reunion.

Justice League Dark: Annual #1
Written by James Tynion IV and Ram V
Illustrated by Guillem March
Colored by Arif Prianto
Lettered by Rob Leigh
Reviewed by Alexander Jones

Despite the best of intentions, a script with too much narration can create a disconnect between the story and the reader. Authors James Tynion IV and Ram V pack “Justice League Dark: Annual” #1 with solid ideas and too many words. The story finally turns the focus back on Swamp Thing for a sad tale that serves to expand the mythology of the character with strong ties towards ‘The Year of the Villain.’ Most comics are using the event to supercharge some of the most interesting series villains with even more power. “Justice League Dark: Annual” #1 introduces a villain with strong ties to Swamp Thing that even creates a mirror to some of the most famous Swamp Thing stories.

The issue features a couple of packed text pages with an illustrated backdrop that detracts from the focus on the story. “Justice League Dark: Annual” #1 has a busy agenda with trying to sew recent events of the series into the Swamp Thing storyline while including elements from ‘The Year of the Villain.’ Aside from the major text pages detracting from the other elements of the issue, the comic is paced relatively well and is an effective origin story for a villain. Tynion IV and Ram V’s plotting is incredibly impressive when readers consider how the last page of the issue folds in previous storylines integral to the book without making the comic too dense.

Guillem March is a perfect fit for Justice League Dark. March’s pencils carry a naturally haunting tone that services the villains and dark magic elements of the story with ease. March is able to illustrate the villains with a foreboding nature and stoicism that will pique the curiosity of anybody opening up the comic. March is particularly creative with the new elements of the Swamp Thing mythology introduced in this chapter. It is fascinating to dissect just how many elements March is able to utilize in just one page without making the story feel crowded or disjointed. This bizarre script from Tynion IV and Ram V is utilized incredibly well with March’s visual direction.

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Final Verdict: 6.5 – “Justice League Dark: Annual” #1 features a thrilling, creative expansion to the Swamp Thing property undercut by a script littered with unnecessary dialogue and captions.

Knights Temporal #1
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Fran Galán
Lettered by Rob Steen
Reviewed by: Grace Taylor

“Knights Temporal” #1 opens in the middle of an exciting chase between its main hero, Auguste de Riviere, and the evil sorcerer, Gaspard. As Auguste follows Gaspard into the forbidden forest, he is transported to a new adventure in modern times. While the time travel twist is interesting, the lack of back story and important exposition make the various timelines and plot points a bit hard to follow.

Fran Galán’s artwork is beautiful in “Knights Temporal” #1, providing a nice contrast of colors between the medieval timeline and the modern-day timeline. My favorite sequence is the beginning chase into the forbidden forest. The very first panel shows a gorgeous landscape of trees in the shadows, covered in a deep fog, which almost looks like a painting. Then, the action bursts onto the following panels with men and horses ripping through the dark forest and violence ensues. Galán’s use of dark tones such as brown, black, and grey greatly contrast with the vibrant and neon tones he uses once Auguste leaps into the future.

While starting the book with an action sequence provides a thrilling jumping-on point for “Knights Temporal” #1, the context is lost somewhat due to the lack of backstory. For example, without reading the book’s description prior to reading this first issue, I’m not sure I would’ve figured out this story takes place right around the Crusades. Also, what makes Gaspar so dangerous and why is Auguste so hell-bent on finding him? What exactly does Auguste have to repent for and how does capturing Gaspar help him achieve this? Things only get more confusing at the story progresses. More characters appear and they only add to the questions I have.

“Knights Temporal” #1 has an interesting combination of horror, fantasy, and time travel blended in its story. The strengths of the book are in the artwork and exciting action sequences that take place both in the past and future. However, the flashbacks within the future timeline can get a bit confusing. Overall, this first issue left many questions answered, which in some cases frustrated me rather than engaged me.

Final Verdict: 7.2 – “Knights Temporal” starts off strong with an explosion of action as we are introduced to a world of war, sorcery and time travel. However, the story gets lost within the time jumps and flashbacks, which makes some plot points hard to follow.

Secret Warps: Iron Hammer Annual #1
Written by Al Ewing and Tini Howard
Illustrated by Carlos Gómez and Ario Anindito
Colored by Carlos Lopez and Israel Silva
Lettered by Cory Petit
Reviewed by Gregory Ellner

Al Ewing is no stranger to utterly bizarre storytelling, let alone metafictional tales, and “Secret Warps: Iron Hammer Annual” #1 puts his skill demonstrated in “Ultimates” and “Loki: Agent of Asgard” at the forefront. Utilizing confusing backstories and ever-condensing character rosters as actual plot elements, Ewing tells a story that examines the importance of keeping individual identity amongst repeated changes, especially in regards to the multimedia practice of merging elements of one character into the history of another. The result is difficult to keep straight, but Ewing plays up the absurdity to the hilt in such a way that it’s hard not to be amused and amazed by paradoxical creations like “Weapon Peace.”

Tini Howard’s backup story is no less important but much easier to follow. Merging elements from throughout the history of both Iron Man and Thor, Howard tells a brief and engaging tale of strong bonds and friendship in the face of “addiction and misery.”

Both Carlos Gómez and Ario Anindito provide similar, highly animated, cartoonish art styles, with a heavy emphasis on action scenes. Keeping the story moving at a fast pace, the result comes together to form a very cohesive overall look for the annual as a whole.

On the other hand, the colors on the two stories differ in a way to provide varying tones overall. Carlos Lopez uses bright, diverse hues and shades befitting the far wackier plot of Ewing’s main story, while Israel Silva’s darker colors denote a more serious tale for Howard’s backup story.

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Final Verdict: 7.75 – Two very entertaining tales about the Warp World come together for this journey into suspense.

Stranger Things SIX #3
Written by Jody Houser
Penciled by Edgar Salazar
Inked by Keith Champagne
Colored by Marissa Louise
Lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover by Aleksi Briclot
Reviewed by Rasheda

Dr. Brenner is pushing Francine (or SIX) to her limits to access her precognitive powers. Trying the sensory deprivation tank, Brenner tries to unlock Francine’s abilities. She has visions, but can’t make sense of them. After an incident with another child at Hawkins’s lab, Francine knows for sure Brenner will stop at nothing to unlock their powers. Something bad is coming, she and Ricky need to get out soon.

As this mini-series is coming to a close, we are getting bigger clues to what is to come. With more flashbacks given in the third installment of SIX, Francine willingly went to Hawkins’s lab with Ricky, with encouragement from Brenner. Francine’s visions are getting stronger and her precognitive ability is strong enough that she knows to keep information from Brenner. Jody Houser knows how to keep the suspense going with Francine’s background that lead her to Hawkins, Dr. Brenner underlying intensity and what lengths he will go to get what he wants. Ms. Houser has created a deeper understanding of what Hawkins Lab has created, concentrating on the main character developing but also keeping us in the dark of the ultimate goal.

What I love about mini-series is they have the same team of illustrators and colorist for each issue, continuity is a big deal for me. The team of Edgar Salazar, Keith Champagne, and Marissa Louise work in harmony of fleshing out these individuals as they are written. The pencil work by Salazar captures the mood for the characters; the frustrations, anguish, distrust, and determination. You know what they are feeling, even without words. Champagne’s inking does not distract from the penciling, instead, it compliments it, lines are appropriately light and dark to convey they expressions; an example of Brenner in the flashback, he is gentle in his reasoning, then in the present to when he does not get the answers/results he wants. The color scheme chosen by Louise captures the mood of the storyline; the colors are muted, almost foreboding in the sense of dread approaching. The way all three come together for the splash page is a great visual of teamwork.

Houser does a fine job on slowly tying in the current Stranger Things storyline but SIX is not in competition as to which one is more interesting. You can read both and be equally satisfied.

Final Verdict: 7.3 – Worth the read for a Stranger Things fan, this SIX is easily a seven.

Venom Annual #1
Written by Ryan Cady and Emily Ryan Lerner
Illustrated by Simone Di Meo and Victor Ibáñez
Colored by Mattia Iacono and Triona Farrell
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by Beau Q.

Welcome to the Double Twofer “Venom Annual” #1 where duality meets dubiousness, where Eddie Brock and The Symbiote face a crossroads, annnnnnd Lady Hellbender, Monster Queen of Seknarf Nine, makes her Venommmm deeeeeeebut.

First Love: Ryan Cady, Simone Di Meo, and Mattia Iacono weave a tale of vibrant, if antiquated, incidental characters living in gleeful one-dimensionality beset by absolutely fluid, expressive line art with a cloying visual world surrounding it! Spend time pining for your lovers, Eddie & Symbiote, even as the female seductress calls attention to the abusive parasitic behaviors present! Revel as Eddie Brock fans the advances of a warrior space queen to reunite with his one true love, The Symbiote! “Venom Annual” #1 won’t disappoint Venom fans if your want is more Marvel-coded boys love!

Second Love: Emily Ryan Lerner, Victor Ibáñez, and Triona Farrell walk us into a world built breathlessly vivid with a stellar style change for Ibáñez attached to an origin that steps on its own toes right at the finish line! In “Venom Annual” #1, weeeeeeeee are to feel and relate to Lady Hellbender to great effect as her dismissive father bets against their own horse, so-to-say! But a panel later, the last panel actually, stomps the innocence accumulated into another abuse victim turned abuser– this time for space animals! Let fly the audience’s relatability to Lady Hellbender! Let die this beautiful charade in thinking a somewhat villain wouldn’t have a somewhat villainous origin!

The “Venom Annual” #1 Double Feature doubles down its bets that you want more Lady Hellbender! If more Lady Hellbender isn’t what you’re looking for in an Annnnnnnnual Venommmmm, then the art, by masters Di Meo and Ibáñez, is worth the price of admission alone.

Final Verdict: 7.0 – Weeee are Ven– *reads notes* –weeee are Lady Hellbender.

//TAGS | Wrapping Wednesday

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