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Wrapping Wednesday: Micro Reviews for the Week of 7/27/22

By | August 1st, 2022
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.

Bloodborne: Lady of the Lanterns #1
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Piotr Kowalski
Colored by Brad Simpson
Lettered by JAME
Reviewed by Gregory Ellner

Unlike the previous “Bloodborne” ongoing series, Cullen Bunn seems prepared to take a very different approach with ‘Lady of the Lanterns.’ While he takes inspiration from the video game Bloodborne, Bunn’s writing carries the tale of gothic horror beyond its source, providing a unique take on the terror amongst the town of Yharnam. Using a very small cast of characters and almost entirely taking place within a single, small building, “Bloodborne: Lady of the Lanterns” #1 provides more than enough context for newcomers to grasp what is going on without taking the story so far as to be completely unrecognizable to returning fans. The encroaching monstrosity of the threat at hand provides copious terror and suspense, enough to leave the audience on the edge of their seats wanting more.

Piotr Kowalski has illustrated previous “Bloodborne” comics, and his experience shows in the details shown throughout this miniseries debut. The tension is clear in every panel, as is the despair of the various characters. Monsters are at once disturbingly inhuman and just relatable enough to be even more unnerving. Violence is common, but the illustrations never deliberately linger on it, more focused on why it happens or how it affects others than Kowalski reveling in the act itself.

Much like Kowalski, Brad Simpson is a veteran of this video game’s comic books, coming back to lend his hand with colors to a new tale. Through his hues and tones, the visceral terror of Yharnam comes to the fore, perfectly encapsulating the never-ending nightmare that is this seemingly cursed town.

Final Verdict: 7.5- Existing lore merges well with an interesting new story and recurrent amazing artwork for this newest look into the world of Bloodborne.

Robin #16
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Roger Cruz
Inked by Norm Rapmund
Colored by Luis Guerrero
Lettered by Troy Peter
Reviewed by Alexander Manzo

This issue of “Robin” felt like a refresher on what made the Lazarus Tournament arc fun and interesting to the reader. Joshua Williamson takes Damian back to the island and gives him a mystery to solve with his friend Connor Hawke. Williamson puts the dynamic on a more even playing field than Batman and Robin’s usual dynamic since neither of them is leading. The two characters are working together with their eyes on the prize. Damian’s less than cocky than in his usual demeanor and tries to have the quiet confidence that Batman carries and so it is not surprising when he misses the apparent betrayal with the “victim” Lord Death Man but more so when Mother Soul comes back into the picture in the last page.

Roger Cruz’s crisp and clean artwork keeps the readers focused on the storyline while giving them wonderful visuals to admire. As this story feels more fun and in line with the detective aspect of story-telling, the reader can see Damian’s cautious and inquisitive facial expressions as he tries to figure out what is going on. Cruz does give Damian a moment of expressiveness when he is playfully confronted by Flatline for going around and calling her his girlfriend. It’s a small reminder for himself and the reader that he isn’t quite as mature as he may think. There’s also a two-page fight sequence that Cruz gets to show off Damian’s quick thinking when a large Gundam-like machine is trying to destroy them. Norm Rapmund’s colors also stand out when he shifts from the darker tones of where Lord Death Man is being held to the bright techno colors of Japan. Either way, it doesn’t feel like he overuses brightness or darkness to keep the reader from having to squint and see what is happening.

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Final Verdict: 8.8. – Williamson is getting back into the lighter and fun element of “Robin” for his final arc.

Superman: Space Age #1
Written by Mark Russell
Illustrated by Michael Allred
Colored by Laura Allred
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
Reviewed by Quinn Tassin

Part “Crisis On Infinite Earths” prequel, part “Justice League: The New Frontier”-esque reimagining of DC superheroes in the political and social context of the ‘60s, “Superman: Space Age” #1 is going for a lot. But while it takes an admirably big swing, it doesn’t quite achieve what it’s trying to. The problem with this comic is rooted in its size. While sweeping stories are certainly great when done right, there’s something to be said for brevity. When writers are willing to kill their darlings, it can better their work, bringing a greater sense of clarity and focus. This debut, while playing with some really interesting ideas, covers so much ground that it lessens its impact.

In all its indulgence, “Superman: Space Age” #1 manages to end up feeling like DC’s Forest Gump. The assassination of JFK, multiple wars, and the civil rights movement are all prominently featured in this issue. Those are all worthy subjects to explore, of course, but by touching all of them, the issue comes across like it’s just ticking boxes. Lois Lane getting arrested with the Freedom Riders and Superman breaking the group out of jail isn’t so much an interesting take on what might’ve been as it is self-satisfied “very special episode” material. The same applies to General Lane and Pa Kent’s the war flashbacks. Of course, these things all make for great prompts to think about what it means to be a hero and protect the world. But “Superman: Space Age” #1 is so decompressed that those thoughts get lost in the shuffle.

Characters and actual narrative are devalued because of the issue’s length as well. By telling a story about American history that’s also the origin story for each Justice League member and also laying the groundwork for “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” none of the stories land. It’s not that none of the material is interesting. It’s great seeing the Batsuit start out as an invention for soldiers. It’s interesting to see Hal Jordan as a pawn in war. Clark Kent figuring out whether or not he’s ready to be a hero is compelling. All of it together is too much, though. It’s easy to imagine what a more streamlined, effective version of this comic would look like, though – just read “Justice League: The New Frontier.”

The artwork is the easy bright spot in “Superman: Space Age” #1. The Allred’s are an incredible team with a beautiful, throwback style which perfectly fits what this comic is going for. Each and every page feels like a masterpiece, filled with life and detail. Perhaps no moment lands as well as the initial 1985 flash forward. Superman looking on a crumbling world, walking through the Fortress of Solitude, and reuniting with Jon and Lois is gorgeous and emotionally affecting. Superman’s first flight, too, its a thrilling and beautiful moment.

All in all, “Superman: Space Age” #1 is as mixed a bag as can be. On the one hand, it’s bloated and trying to achieve so much that it achieves very little. On the other, it’s full of great ideas worth engaging with. Maybe as it develops, it’ll become a more successful piece of storytelling.

Final Verdict: 6.2- Gorgeous art can’t make up for an utter lack of focus

//TAGS | Wrapping Wednesday

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