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Wrapping Wednesday: Micro Reviews for the Week of 7/14/21

By | July 19th, 2021
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.

Champions #8
Written by Danny Lore
Illustrated by Luciano Vecchio
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Colored by Federico Blee
Reviewed by Michael Govan

One of the issue’s biggest strengths is the focus it puts on characters, their relationships, and the team’s dynamic. While Jim Zub’s “Champions” had a huge roster, Danny Lore opts to focus on just five members. The team has disagreements, but are able to talk it through and settle things peacefully, which is refreshing to see. Everybody’s very supportive of one another; Ms. Marvel is dealing with some trauma from Kamala’s Law, while Nova deals with insecurity. Off to the side, Viv Vision and Ironheart’s relationship is still very tense.

A reason why the relationships and characters are so compelling is that they actually sound and act like teenagers. That’s not always the case in comics; sometimes the dialogue or the lingo is a little off, but there’s none of that here. The team meetings have pizza, Viv is annoyed by her dorky synthezoid dad, and to prep for this mission, they binged a bunch of heist movies. All of those little touches are great.

The artwork helps give the comic youthful energy as well. The colors are bright and vibrant, with all of the Champions actually looking like teenagers. The mission is accompanied by playful chibi-style talking heads that narrate the events while the faces Vecchio draws are very expressive. You can feel Kamala’s discomfort or Riri’s urgency and it keeps you engaged with the story.

While this story features a unique villain, the comic does lack more conventional superhero action. There are no epic super-battles, there’s not a punch or a kick to be found. While that may not be a big deal for some, it might be for others and it should be noted. Still, “Champions” #8 is a fun, engaging comic.

Final Verdict: 8.0 – Teamwork makes the dream work in “Champions” #8.

Haha #6
Written By W. Maxwell Prince
Illustrated By Martin Morazzo & Chris O’Halloran
Lettered By Good Old Neon
Reviewed By Henry Finn

As one might expect from the series, “Haha” #6’s protagonist, Happy Hank the Very Happy Clown, is anything but. Tortured with violent visions, a voice inside his head, and a parakeet in his heart, Hank represents not a clown having a bad day, but the sad clown in all of us. Writer W. Maxwell Prince deftly weaves a tale of longing and sorrow by bringing to life the terrible thoughts that permeate his dark inner-dialogue. Visions of humans hacking each other apart with hatchets and neighborhoods burning represents the way he sees not the world, but the spirit of the people in it. He can’t stop seeing everything falling to bits, and nothing he tries to alleviate his visions seems to work. This is an analogy for the way we tend to fall into negative thoughts as a habit and how difficult it can be to escape without help. Unfortunately in this case, help appears in the form of a .357 magnum, given by a friend “Arty” that looks suspiciously like Arthur Fleck from the film Joker. Even the hand-cannon represents something important that faces people that suffer from depression every day…an “easy” way out.

Martin Morazzo and Chris O’Halloran bring their immaculate craftsmanship and penchant for iconic imagery to wrap this series up with a poetic bang. Every frame feels like the perfect moment to freeze an image in motion. There’s a stillness to each panel that allows you to breathe in the emotion of the moment and the meaning of the words. The details such as scratches and minimalist cross-hatching give the world a delicate feel, which adds to the theme of everything always falling apart into tiny bits. The colors are tastefully moody throughout, with Morazzo and O’Halloran the use of mostly flat colors with a wash of blue throughout the book.

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Without spoiling anything, Prince ties in the world of “Ice Cream Man” and “Haha” in an organic manner that only enhances the climax of the story arc and brings us to a satisfying emotional landing to end the series.

Final Verdict: 8.5 – “Haha” #6 is the perfect ending to an original and enjoyable series.

Ninjak #1
Written by Jeff Parker
Illustrated by Javier Pulido
Lettered by Dave Sharpe and Javier Pulido
Reviewed by Alexander Jones

Valiant’s new “Ninjak” series is bursting with so much style artist Javier Pulido can hardly contain the excitement in a conventional page structure. “Ninjak” is back and the MI6 are looking to recruit him again to take on their odd jobs. Valiant’s new series comes from the celebrated creative team of Javier Pulido. Pulido is known for collaborating with celebrated writers like Brian K. Vaughan on titles with beautiful art. Jeff Parker has also worked with great artists in the past like Evan Doc Shaner. The duo strike just the right tone for “Ninjak” opting into all the espionage with subtle shades of ironic humor. This nuanced take on Ninjak is already better than the previous series starring the hero published by Valiant.

Pulido’s art is the biggest draw to “Ninjak” #1. Pulido’s changes in perspective and subject matter make each page of the issue feel unique. Pulido is constantly finding the most intriguing visual way to tell a story. Parker doesn’t just change the settings in the story to seem unique. Pulido carefully tails the visuals to each location whether it be London or Turkey. The book covers a sizable amount of plot and never feels rushed. Pulido’s train sequence is one of the best moments in the issue. Pulido directly uses the train to influence his structures of panels on the page to great effect. The art is able to convey the bombastic action with ease. This creative team even keeps you guessing on what Colin King is going to do next thanks to the unique action moments.

Parker’s script is solid. Parker carefully paces the issue so that there is a small level of payoff at the end. Parker ensures that the MI6 plays a large role in this series which is a welcomed change to the series. King’s strained relationship with the MI6 will pull in readers who are just looking for the next saga of the Valiant story. Parker also establishes a strong bond between King and his supporting cast in the issue. “Ninjak” #1 has a solid story in addition to the vivid art. “Ninjak” #1 is pushing the medium of comics forward thanks to the impressive level of ambition. If Parker and Pulido’s entire run is as exciting and psychedelic as “Ninjak” #1 readers are in for a great comic book series.

Final Verdict: 9.0 – The experimental art and intriguing narrative in “Ninjak” #1 makes for one of the best Valiant comic books of the modern era.

Orcs #6
Written, illustrated, colored, and lettered by Christine Larson
Reviewed by Conor Spielberg

The sixth issue/chapter of “Orcs” starts at the beginning of the end, with a strong sense of closure being felt in the entire second half of it. The inhuman nature of the orcs allow for a cartoonish sense of style that allows for a real sense of personality to the character’s faces. Similarly, the variety of shapes and sizes of the adventuring party also creates a sense of reading a saturday morning cartoon in comic form.

The fact that Christine Larson does the writing and the art allows for some excellent lettering to be done. What makes it so exceptional is how it bleeds through the panels and utilises the continuity of dialogue while going from one panel to another.

There is a sense of thin camaraderie among the adventuring party but a steady stream of bickering, second guessing that is so often associated with a Table-top game with your friends. The character’s affection for one another shines through when they are fighting other creatures and working together and communicating with each other to fight a common enemy.

The Orc Tribe are hilariously unkind attitude to one another but still have a sense of community. The issue ends on a cliffhanger despite having a definitive end to the story that began in prior issues. The most flattering thing to say about the comic is that it made me want to see what happened next.

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Final Verdict:8.3 A fun read with an irreverent but serious take on orcs.

Sinister War #1
Written by Nick Spencer
Penciled by Mark Bagley
Inked by Andrew Hennessy, John Dell, & Andy Owens
Colored by Brian Reber
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Reviewed by Alexander Manzo

“Sinister War” feels like an all villain comic that Spider-Man came in and interrupted. Mary Jane is the target of the villains while at the premiere of her own movie. It feels like Nick Spencer threw in Spider-Man after he’d written this story and decided to just give him the main point of view of the event. The action is the bread and butter of the issue using the confrontation between the Sinister Six and Savage Six. It’s a true number one in that it leaves the reader asking many questions that will hopefully be answered throughout the series. Mephisto and Dr. Strange are conversing in Mephisto’s lair about a deal made in ‘One More Day’ that doesn’t go into exact details, but any deal with the devil has some bad small print.

After the eventual capture of Mary Jane, Spencer knocks out Spider-Man and puts him in this strange new area. It’s unclear whether it’s in the real world or a dream, but it gives this vibe that questions the events that just happened as well.

Similar to the story, the art team on this issue is fully loaded. Aside from the opening page with MJ and Peter Parker walking down the red carpet, the rest of the issue is packed with action. This is exactly what a reader wants with anything with the word “war” in the title. Once the Savage Six bust into the theatre, it becomes chaotic. Going through the panels slowly, the reader can see the attention to detail all the inkers made sure were shown. We see Rhino hurling innocent people and Scorpion kicking people in the face, and that’s even before the Sinister Six come into play.

It’s a little funny because, on the red carpet, each panel of Mary Jane has her looks slightly different. However, that could result from panel sizes and details in each one, almost like a mini summary of various adventures. Brian Reber’s color choices were on-point for creating the different atmosphere and moods throughout the issue. When Spidey is fighting Harry, the blueish greens even bring the question of if it is real or some sort of dream sequence by Mysterio.

Final Verdict: 7.3 – A ton of action with well-known and new villains. It also leaves many questions for the reader, but that intrigue could be enough to check out #2.

//TAGS | Wrapping Wednesday

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