There is 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.
All-New Wolverine #25
Written by Tom Taylor
Illustrated by Juann Cabal
Colored by Nolan Woodard
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane
Legacy comes to “All-New Wolverine” with the start of ‘Orphans of X.’ Writer Tom Taylor has done a fine job building his own layer of Laura Kinney’s mythology, but with the Legacy initiative he begins a story that weaves together old Wolverine plot devices with the ever present haunting, traumatic, past of Laura. These bits make for a good (and standard) framework of a “Wolverine” story. The more interesting aspect is the chance to see Taylor and artist Juann Cabal showing Laura and Daken interacting with one another in story that has the potential to be a more emotionally impactful meeting of brother and sister than their team up from ‘Immune.’
Unsurprisingly, people in the Marvel U don’t like mutants and the Wolverine family in particular. The mysterious Orphans of X attack Daken and leave an arm as a calling card for Laura to go and save her brother. To make matters even more personal, their card is laced with the scent of the Facility where Laura was born.
Revisiting the Facility and restaging some of the earliest origin elements of Laura Kinney makes a certain amount of sense with the Legacy branding, and it turns this issue into a solid jumping on point for people who aren’t familiar with “All-New Wolverine” or Laura in general. However, for the initiated there is a treading water or even regressive qulaity to these elements. Thankfully, Juann Cabal’s designs and more importantly Nolan Woodard’s pallet are more than good enough to elevate these plot points, creating a stark and impactful portrait of Laura’s psyche. As Laura wonders the broken hallways Cabal fills the black windows with surreal projections of all the things they did to her, forming painful trail of breadcrumbs to lead Laura along. Woodard’s pallet for this issue is a study in contrasts. There’s the soft warm coloring of the time above the facility. Within the facility it is filled sickly greens with harsh oranges/yellows interjecting and filling the projections that lurk in the frame. The three-page primer strip is included in this issue but feels superfluous in the context of this issue. The series creative team does a better job of narrating an impactful condensed history of Laura Kinney.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – “All-New Wolverine” has been a quiet and consistently good series, ‘Orphans of X.’ marks the start of a new story and a fine jumping on point for the series.
Written by Charles Soule
Illustrated by Ron Garney
Colored by Matt Milla
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by Alexander Jones
In “Daredevil” #27, Matt Murdock spends the majority of the issue stuck in the sewer beat nearly to death and horrified. Writer Charles Soule has taken the relationship between Blindspot and Daredevil to a logical conclusion. This installment of the book is filled with twists and turns and loaded with psychological horror elements that take Murdock to the breaking point. The book weaves together the last couple threads and deconstructs them to give readers a different way to interpret the story going forward. If something truly awful happens to Blindspot at the end of this arc and the tension between he and Murdock isn’t resolved Soule is going to push these darker elements of the book nearly as far as they can go–I have no idea if this story is going to have a happy ending.
Certain aspects of this art team and style are changing right before our very eyes. There is a noticeable shift in style from artist Ron Garney who used to a channel a scratchy influence but bears a distinctive John Romita Jr. influence here. The scratchy outlines give way to large, blocky figures that beautifully channel Daredevil’s previous publication history. The dark, foreboding nature of the colors and tone of the story is still channeled appropriately through color artist Matt Milla and Soule’s script. The minimalist approach to the art and story still pays off here because there are enough twists and turns and subtext surrounding this comic to keep readers interested in the material. The shadowy backgrounds and simplistic figures create visual additions to the art. While some of the layouts in book can feel a little underwhelming and the art is not very detailed, it does seem like the creative team is executing the vision in tone, art and script duties.Continued below
“Daredevil” continues to reference each story in this run, but Soule ties relationships together and starts to draw straight linear line between issue one and twenty-seven. While everything on the page is strong, there have been so many twists and turns with the story thus far I wonder if Soule will be able to characterize Blindspot as friend or foe in a way that feels convincing in future installments.
There’s only a handful of Marvel titles on the stands that are as creative and consistent as “Daredevil” has been in the hands of Charles Soule, Ron Garney, Goran Sudzuka, Matt Milla and VC’s Clayton Cowles. Lots of thought and care is going to need to be put into the story for the comic to exit this storyline gracefully, but this creative team has been on a role lately. Considering the fact that this comic book just exited a story based around The Supreme Court and was somehow able to pivot back to noir at the drop of a hat I probably shouldn’t be so worried.
Final Verdict: 8.2 – “Daredevil” #27 pushes the story surrounding Blindspot to a tense, nail-biting pressure point further instilling the book’s strong sense of tone.
Hanazuki: Full of Treasures #3
Adapted by David Mariotte
Illustrated by Nico Peña
Coloured by Valentina Pinto
Lettered by Christa Miesner and Neil Uyetake
Reviewed by Frida Keränen
“Hanazuki: Full of Treasures” is based on a web series of the same name, telling about the adventures of a Moonflower girl who unsurprisingly is also called Hanazuki. The story and art style of the comic are the same as the in the animated series, so there’s not much new to see for fans of the show. This all-ages issue might be a more enjoyable read for someone who hasn’t seen the web series.
Nico Peña’s round and smooth style brings in the friendly look of a child’s wonderland and Valentina Pinto’s bright pink and purple colouring adds to the feeling. A problem with the issue’s artwork is that in some places the layouts get really crowded, as there are pages with twelve or thirteen panels on them.
The idea behind the series and accompanying products is to teach children emotional literacy, and in the third issue of the comic the focus is on a positive outlook in the face of trouble. (In this case “trouble” means having to be swallowed by a chicken.) Children deserve good comics with teachings that don’t underestimate them, and while “Hanazuki: Full of Treasures” isn’t exactly that, the sentiment is there.
Final Verdict: 5.5 A rather forgettable read since it’s an exact adaptation of the show, where anything unique to the medium of comics hasn’t been utilized.
Penny Dreadful 2.6
Written by Chris King
Illustrated by Jesus Hervas
Colored by Jason Wordie
Lettered by Rob Steen
Reviewed By Kate Kosturski
(Warning: this review will contain spoilers for the TV series Penny Dreadful.)
The Showtime/SKY TV production continues past the 2016 finale in graphic form, and the Victorian Scooby Gang is in a big spot of trouble. Lucifer is back from the dead in the body of the deceased Vanessa Ives, and rallying the troops. The gang is down its most important member, Sir Malcolm, and everyone else is left to the wind throughout London. It’s not hopeless, though. Lily Frankenstein is training with some rebel nuns to combat the darkness. Catriona Hartigan receives some advice from an old friend.Kaetenay and his associate Senda are making their way across the ocean, unaware of what has already transpired. But evil appears to have the upper hand and a former ally of Sir Malcolm and company has changed sides, with our Victorian Scooby Gang none the wiser.
I have a soft spot in my heart for comics that continue brilliant but canceled (or in this case, concluded) TV series — the comics that continued the canceled TV series Jericho were my first gateway into comics. Combined with my love of the Penny Dreadful TV series, this was an easy addition to my pull list. While the first volume was a succinct prequel to the show, this volume is stretching out the narrative way too long. The confrontation between good and evil feels like it should have taken place three issues ago. It’s time for this story to be put out to pasture on its own terms like the TV series did, and new parts of this world to get their time to shine. (I, for one, would love to see Catriona Hartigan in her own spinoff — like the TV show, we didn’t get to really know her in this comic.)Continued below
Narrative pacing aside, Jesus Hervas and Jason Wordie get the art textbook gothic. All the colors are dipped in shades of black (literally — some panels appear to have had the ink jar spilled across them), along with a few bright spots to serve symbolism, such as stained glass windows in a church. Hervas draws our characters with perpetual looks of fear, scorn, or exhaustion on their faces — this battle for the soul of the world has taken its toll. No one smiles in this book, and when they do, it’s flavored with sinister intentions or world-weariness. Praise is due for the depiction of the rebirthed Vanessa. She retains the mysterious beauty of Eva Green even while possessed by one determined to strip her — and the world — of its beauty.
I’m very much ready for this arc to end. Time to bring it, Lucifer.
Final Verdict: 6.0 – Good for fans of the TV series and not much else.
Slam! The Next Jam #2
Written by Pamela Ribon
Illustrated by Marina Julia
Colored by Brittany Peer
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
Last time on “Slam! The Next Jam,” we got introduced to a mysterious new character, had a current character make some mysterious walking decisions, left a bunch of questions hanging in the air due to a time skip, and saw the fallout of the previous series. This time, we get….training and a pool party?
I’m being a little bit facetious there. This issue gives us more of that good derby drama as the fate of Knockout is determined and she and Cancan are kept apart, building on the fractured relationship formed at the end of the previous series. What bothers me, though, is that the last issue made the mysteries I outlined just above feel vitally important and present. These were plot points that felt like constant background mysteries that would have new information pop up slowly issue by issue but they’re conspicuously absent here.
Instead, Ribon chooses to focus on Cancan and Kristen (Knockout taking a larger backseat role, mirroring her placement on the team), which is fine but it makes this issue feel out of place and breaking the flow that was beginning to be set up last month.
The other big issue, which I hope is fixed soon, is the name situation. There are a lot of new characters and a lot of old ones with new designs but we haven’t been reintroduced to them well. Like I said last time, Julia’s faces tend to look similar and while they convey emotion well, they make it hard for me to remember which character is which, especially when they change hairstyles & clothes and when they’re flying around on the track.
Julia does an admirable job with the Meaties, having each of them have their names on their shirts, but in the chaos of the track and with the lack of heavy inking, it again makes it hard to clarify who is who and how I should be tracking them all.
The best parts of this sequel series, so far, have been the slower moments and that is no exception here. I really appreciate how well Julia captures the personalities of characters in different situations even if the transitions between panels feel a bit jumpier than they should, mostly because of the size of them. There are not as many smaller panels as there should be, which would help slow down these scenes and make the transitions feel less jarring.
Final Verdict: 6.9. A decent second issue but one with a few structural issues that I hope are ironed out next time. Also, poor Knockout and Cancan, they just can’t catch a break.
Written by Kate Perkins
Illustrated by Sami Basri
Colored by Hi-Fi Design
Lettered by Josh Reed
Reviewed by Gregory Ellner
Taken away from the mini-arc of Lana Lang going to Smallville, Kate Perkins’s storytelling on “Superwoman” markedly improves. With attention drawn away from whatever the source of Superwoman’s powers would happen to be, the plot moves toward a more traditional “several issues to fight a villain” arc with the arrival of the “Midnight” entity. On the whole, the focus on Lana’s distraction and tiredness allows readers an opportunity to look in on the more vulnerable aspects of her personality, rather than keeping attention on the bizarre “I always was meant to have these powers, so I won’t die from them” attitude that came up in previous issues. Furthermore, the flaws in her behavior allow for some of her supporting cast, including Natasha Irons, Traci Thirteen, and Maxima (from Perkins’s previous work on the prior volume of “Supergirl”) to have more common, everyday conversations to keep things from getting too fantastical.Continued below
Sam Basri and Hi-Fi work together to create an art style that mixes the darkness of the Midnight entity with the brighter electrical lights of Superwoman. The contrast is palpable in their separate scenes, with the digital “darkness”-based creature giving off an inhuman aesthetic as it absorbs others, to contrast with Lana’s own humanity and the light it brings to her life.
In all, “Superwoman” #15 is a pretty good start to the ‘Midnight’ arc, though perhaps a little light on actual superheroics.
Final Verdict: 7.0- A good start to a new arc, albeit a little slow for incoming readers.
Written by Chad Bowers
Penciled by Jim Towe
Inked by Jim Towe
Colored by Juan Manuel Rodriguez
Lettered by Rus Wooton
Reviewed by Devon Browning
As tough as it might be to keep a 5 star rating on a super hero app, artist Jim Towe and colorist Juan Manuel Rodriquez put to ink incredibly epic battles that seem effortless in comparison. Team books are, by no surprise, difficult to illustrate- let alone orchestrate with a story that provides multiple arcs for multiple characters. But somehow Towe and Rodriguez consistently deliver with a modern and grunge-like style coated with a vibrant color that in no way suggests a lighthearted and youthful vibe.
In fact, the best pages of this issue have little to do with the story itself and more to do with moments that eat up the page and set up standard panels in a way that allows Towe’s art to flow seamlessly. From the calmer moments, such as the long awaited revelation of superhero Man-Up’s location in what seems to be a remote paradise, to the horrifying seconds it seems to take for McCall to be eaten by the monster fused together by Hans and Rudolf (ya know, the guys responsible for their superhero existence), Towe and Rodriguez dominate the very representation of emotion and physical energy through the issue and believe me, there is a lot of it.
Fighting, that is. And perhaps this is the very reason why this issue succeeds visually where it falls short in terms of story. There’s a lot going on and considering that this issue ties up an ongoing arc that answered most questions for readers, it ultimately left me a bit confused. We watch as the developers of Help!, the app designed ultimately for superhero advertisement, turns into this flesh eating monster (an absolute killer look by Towe’s) and devours two heroes. Only the thing blows to smithereens and somehow a young boy emerges from the destruction. Though it’s pretty obvious who it is, it…actually isn’t. And more to the point, if the boy is who it is said to be, then the next question is: HOW?
The destruction of the monster and the end of McCall seem to be this issue’s defining moment which leaves the rest of this chapter filled with violence matched with a dialogue that at times seem to be too much. I caught myself drifting away from the text bubbles frequently and focusing more on the art and even then, the visuals can only do so much. All in all, the issue was great in wrapping up as well as kicking off towards the next step in Youngblood’s journey, but felt a little overbearing in dialogue at times when only a few events took place.
Final Verdict: 7.4 – Jim Towe and Juan Manuel Rodriguez’s art could carry this issue alone, but with Chad Bowers’s violent conclusion makes this week’s comic a must read!