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.
Aquaman: The Becoming #1
Written by Brandon Thomas
Penciled by Diego Olortegui
Inked by Wade Von Grawbadger
Colored by Adriano Lucas
Letters by Andworld Design
Reviewed by Alexander Jones
Jackson Hyde’s sub-story in DC’s forgotten “Brightest Day” series was one of the most captivating aspects of the title. Since then appearances from Hyde can be rare in “Aquaman” comic books. Thankfully, ‘Future State’ marked a great opportunity for DC to focus back on younger characters. “Aquaman: The Becoming” is a six-issue mini-series that shows Hyde finally living up to his fullest potential and possibly becoming Aquaman in the future. The comic is written by Brandon Thomas, the very same writer who contributed to “Future State: Aquaman.” “Aquaman: The Becoming” is drawn by Diego Olortegui. Thomas and Olortegui tell a really casual story that finds a place for Hyde to exist alongside Arthur Curry.
It is refreshing to see Hyde act so casually and speak directly with Aquaman and Mera. Thomas utilizes some interaction that was lost on DC continuity by pairing Arthur and Mera with Hyde. “Aquaman” has had a really tough time sticking to the status quo and continuity. “Aquaman: The Becoming” makes it look like the entire continuity was methodically planned out and written with the utmost care. Thomas lends quality writing and a casual but confident tone with Hyde that never quite delves into the cheesy subject matter. Thomas ends the issue by teasing a new development for a familiar Aquaman cast of villains. Thomas seems to be teasing a test of strength for Hyde setting up his transition to becoming King of the Seas!
Olortegui’s art is beautiful. Olortegui’s approach to Hyde is fluid yet precise. Olortegui utilizes a lot of movement in his art which works really well for a younger cast of characters that Hyde naturally surrounds himself with. Olortegui’s art does not feel too loose either. In the scene where Hyde emerges from a pool to join hands with Arthur, you can tell both men apart from the tattoos on their bodies alone. Olortegui is able to get great reaction shots and has really expressive characters that put their heart on their sleeve. The action sequences have a great sense of movement as well. When Hyde is punched in the face readers will definitely have a visceral reaction to the title.
“Aquaman: The Becoming” #1 is a well-written story that teases the future of Aquaman incredibly well. Hyde is reintroduced as an endearing character who is finally given the spotlight he deserves. Thomas and Olortegui each understand the differences between Jackson and Arthur and seemed ready, able, and willing to connect a sense of continuity to Aquaman to bring the franchise forward at DC. Hyde feels like a real character again thanks to the subtle writing from Thomas. Olortegui finds just the right balance between movement and a precise line. “Aquaman: The Becoming” #1 is an exciting step forward for Jackson Hyde!
Final Verdict: 7.9 – “Aquaman: The Becoming” #1 is finally able to identify a place in DC’s current continuity for Jackson Hyde.
Eat The Rich #2
Written by Sarah Gailey
Illustrated by Pius Bak
Colored by Roman Titov
Lettered by Cardinal Rae
Reviewed by Alexander Manzo
If The Purge and Get Out had a baby, it would probably look something like Eat The Rich. Sarah Gailey uses the second installment in this new series to have the reader, much like the protagonist, question the events of what just happened. Rich people not only kill an innocent person but also lean into their cannibalistic side and eat him. Although the previously mentioned titles are from the recent era of horror movies, the way that Gailey portrays Joey is similar to a “final girl” in the 80’s horror of trying to figure out what exactly is happening, but still being cautious. There’s also a lot of suspense built up as the reader focuses on the thoughts of Astor as she sneaks throughout the house in the middle of the night. The elements of horror are sprinkled throughout the story, giving it a fun and interactive issue to read.Continued below
The interesting twist that Gailey presents in this horror story is that when people are hired for the family in their contract, there are stipulations that the family can kill that person. Petal, the nanny, justifies it by explaining the actual cost of medications and medical procedures without insurance or the family’s help. It becomes this debt that the help can only pay for with their lives. It just goes back to this idea that the “ultra-rich” can do whatever they want so long as their making amends by providing medical insurance and college funds for those they deem less fortunate.
Pius Bak does an excellent job of creating an uncertain atmosphere as the reader follows Joey’s search throughout the house for clues. Between Bak’s use of shadows and Roman Titov’s color choices for off-blues and greens, it’s reminiscent of old school horror like Halloween and Friday The 13th. Since this issue is more of the reaction to the inciting incident of the story arc, the use of close-ups with Joey and her conversation with Petal is a good choice because it forces the reader to focus on the exchange. Bak’s lack of background or use of shadows during this also helps keep the suspense factor of the story since we find out the servants are aware that they could be killed for entertainment.
There’s also a creepy factor with the child that Petal is taking care of throughout the issue. Bak’s depiction of the baby has it wide-eyed and mouth open in a curious fashion that fits with age. Still, there’s this underlining feeling that it could be listening to the conversation and waiting to report back to the parents.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – It’s a slower chapter to this new story, but it’s sprinkled with horror from current and old school to keep the reader checking out the next page.
Impossible Jones #1
Written and Inked by Karl Kesel
Illustrated by David Hahn
Colored by Tony Aviña
Lettered by Comicraft
Reviewed by Quinn Tassin
It’s feeling all too rare to read a comic book that’s pure fun lately. There are a number of high quality comics, to be sure, but not so many that are good and light. To fill that void, we have “Impossible Jones” #1, a book that brings the adventurous, colorful, energetic tone of a Saturday morning cartoon with a smart writing and a subversive premise. See, in Karl Kesel’s new superhero world, Impossible Jones (whose real name is Belle) is a new, popular superhero who just so happens to be a former thief who may or may not be as good as she seems to the public. (she does actively allow a villain to get away, after all).
That great premise is the foundation for a strong story. There’s a surprising amount of world-building going on in this first issue. While the visuals and even a lot of the narrative execution are simple, we’re following three threads with Belle’s maybe-reform, Gila and Vibora’s schemes, and the other superheroes trying to figure out what’s up with the explosion that created Impossible Jones. We get introduced to a lot of characters in these 32 pages and yet it never feels over-stuffed. The exposition feels natural and everything is easy to follow. Surely there’s a lot more coming down the line but what we’ve got gives us just enough to feel familiar with this world and the people in it without going overboard.
David Hahn’s pencils and Tony Aviña’s colors really make the issue. The opening sequence is a real delight, following Impossible Jones as she chases holiday-themed villain Holly Daze. We get to see Impossible Jones use her fingers as a slingshot and transform her arms into pistols. In easily the best gag, Holly Daze attacks our hero with a flamethrower menorah. There’s a focus on silliness and slapstick action here that’s really nice to see. The next two-thirds of the issue has plenty to offer as well; there are well designed characters like Gila and Even Steven (imagine if Rorschach were a chess board) and the flashback to Belle first getting her powers is pretty great. Hopefully as the series goes on though, we can count on a lot more scenes like the Holy Daze confrontation.Continued below
If there were such a thing as a dessert comic, “Impossible Jones” #1 would be it. It’s easy and fun and also actively good. And best of all, it’s not obvious what the next steps of this story are. Something being both narratively intriguing and lighthearted is quite a treat.
Final Verdict: 7.4- “Impossible Jones” #1 is a breezy, joyous adventure that you certainly want to take
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #4
Plotted By Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, & Tom Waltz
Scripted by Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman
Laid Out By Kevin Eastman
Illustrated by Esau & Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, & Kevin Eastman
Colored by Luis Antonio Delgado
Lettered by Shawn Lee
Reviewed by Henry Finn
The penultimate issue of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin” is a truly thrilling book that brings the entire series full circle in so many ways. The longer you have been a Turtles fan; the more you will get the feels from moments that have been a very long time in the making. For instance, the major battle scene which reveals the fates of Master Splinter and Donatello is charged with emotion as Splinter taunts Hiroto by reminding him he killed his grandfather and vows to do the same to him. Splinter doesn’t even refer to Shredder by name and yet we understand what is at stake -an end to the eternal struggle we’ve witnessed for almost four decades now.
But Hiroto is not Shredder, and despite the copious flashbacks, this book is firmly planted in the future, and new times creates new breeds. This is the reason “Last Ronin” has won the day, by not leaning too heavily on nostalgia. We are constantly reminded of how much has truly changed, such as by the ruthless lack of honor Hiroto displays in the ambush that leads to Splinter and Donatello’s final moments. Or April’s wrinkles and prosthetic hand, literally less than her previous self. Newcomer Casey Marie provides us with hope, bravery, and a good dose of defiant spunk reminiscent of Robin in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, or come to think of it every sidekick in comics ever. Despite that trope, Waltz and Eastman give her a unique identity that doesn’t feel like it’s a rip-off but rather the logical progression of this saga.
Writers Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman use every trick in the book to deliver long-time fans a thoughtful story with intricate storytelling. They jump through memories, flashbacks, and present day seamlessly. An example: what begins as direct dialogue from Michelangelo while he is standing in the room with Casey Marie turns into narration, then becomes dialogue within the flashback he’s narrating. Then Waltz and Eastman switch narration duties back and forth between Mikey and a supporting character, all within the same flashback. It sounds complicated, but is such an enjoyable reading experience that is skillfully done with the help of clear storytelling by the entire creative team.
Illustrators Esau & Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, & Kevin Eastman blend strengths to create an overall visual experience that to me is best in the franchise and I found myself reviewing pages over and over to catch artistic details that separate each other. The use of flashbacks plus chopping up the present-day storyline allows for each artist’s unique style to accentuate the differences in timeline. The Escorzas use of gritty contrast, crisp line work, and attention to unflattering details shines in the battle scenes between the heroes and the mousers let loose by Baxter. Eastman’s use of analog tools such as markers and duotone remind us of the comics roots and gives Michelangelo’s memories an appropriately nostalgic feel. Bishop treats us to less contrast, vibrant colors, and milky black lines, which lends a fantastical feel to the particular story-within-a-story he is tasked with handling. This is perfect as Michelangelo was not at that event and so as opposed to a memory which is stark and simple, this story is the visual representation of how he is imagining it.
All of these things are just a small sample of the artistry and effort for “TMNT The Last Ronin” #4 and I cannot recommend it enough.
Final Verdict 8.7 – With one issue left to go in the mini-series, this issue is a must-read and highly satisfying for any fan of the franchise.