Unkindness of Ravens 2 featured Reviews 

Wrapping Wednesday: Micro Reviews for the Week of 10/28/2020

By | November 2nd, 2020
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.

An Unkindness of Ravens #2
Written by Dan Panosian
Pencils by Marianna Ignazzi
Colored by Fabiana Mascolo
Lettered by Mike Fiorentino
Reviewed by Quinn Tassin

“An Unkindness of Ravens” has a whole lot of potential. On the fundamentals, it has a lot going for it. Wilma is a likable main character that’s plenty easy to connect with. The supporting cast is well fleshed out and dynamic. The bigger story that Dan Panosian is attempting to write is fairly interesting. The art is pretty perfect for the tone and we’re working with. Is it at least a little derivative? Absolutely, but so are plenty of great stories. This one just isn’t doing what it needs to to make derivative work. Instead of the series’s second issue making its world feel more expansive and its story more intriguing, it feels like a retread of a lot of the fundamentals of the first issue.

Marianna Ignazzi and Fabiana Mascolo’s artwork is a bright spot in the issue. The simple, straightforward style is perfect for the story we’re getting and means that more evocative moments like the dream sequence or the pentagram finger thing stand out even more. Ignazzi’s character design might be the best part- each character feels unique instantly recognizable which is harder to pull of in a high school setting than most comics.

Why couldn’t the last pages of this be the first pages instead? That moment was the natural narrative step forward after the last issue and yet, we’re treated to a couple dozen more pages of “huh, this is weird” before we get a meaningful step forward. That’s not to say this was all bad. Scarlett and Wilma’s conversation, in particular, felt like the right kind of material for the book to be pursuing. There’s a lot of work to be done and fat to be cut off (hello, Abigail House excerpts) before this comic is up to snuff and this is just the type of issue that needs to get cut.

Final Verdict: 6.5 – “An Unkindness of Ravens #2” shows promise but it’s more notable for what it’s lacking than what it delivers.

It Eats What Feeds It #3
Written by Max Hoven & Aaron Crow
Illustrated by Gabriel Iumazark
Reviewed by Christa Harader

“It Eats What Feeds It” #3 is the gruesome conclusion to an intriguing horror mini. Iumazark’s art is inspired and lends a lot of depth to what’s otherwise a pretty simple story, though Hoven and Crow deliver a lot in three short issues.

Iumazark’s inspired by anime and manga, obviously, but the washy greens, reds and tans, and dreamy film overlaying the book make for an experience that’s easy to digest and big on mood. The creature’s never really seen in its full glory – some silhouettes here and there hint at its grotesqueness, and the splash in issue #2 gets at the outline – and that’s largely intentional.

Hoven and Crow overdo it on the exposition a bit, though Francois’s background is interesting enough to carry most of the third issue. In the end, we get less of the creature’s munching and more overt storytelling, but the final scene of the manor sinking into the bloodstained bayou is pretty memorable. Lettering is a big issue in this book, however. The font and squared balloons are too large and take up a bit too much space on the page, and they’re often clumsily placed. Tightening this a bit, and choosing a font that feels a little less smooth and mechanical, might go far to seal the comic’s aesthetic.

Overall, “It Eats What Feeds It” goes short for maximum effect, and the book’s main strength is it’s aesthetic. In horror, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially when we don’t have a drawn-out series with a ton of padding to float us along.

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Final Verdict: 7.5 – “It Eats What Feeds It” #3 dumps a little too much info but otherwise succeeds in a quick, surreal horror jaunt.

Lazarus Risen #5
Written by Greg Rucka
Illustrated by Michael Lark
Colored by Santi Arcus
Lettered by Simon Bowland
Reviewed by Jim Malakwen

Despite the fact that quite a number of major story developments occur in “Lazarus Risen” #5, the issue begins in a relatively understated manner. After Forever met her clone and future replacement a couple of issues back, the Lazaruses share a tender, private moment in the woods away from the controlling influence of the Carlyle family. Having both endured brutal procedures at the family’s training facility, the two form an instant bond and resolve to keep in touch in the days ahead.

Artist Michael Lark does a fine job of rendering the younger and older versions of Forever in the way he portrays the youthful athleticism of Eight versus the more mature stillness of Seven. As preparations for war with D’Souza and Morray begin, writer Greg Rucka expertly utilizes the comic’s longer page count to experiment with pacing. Lark’s gift for visual storytelling is showcased in a training montage that utilizes five-row panel pages to depict Forever and her Daggers preparing for a daring assault against the rival houses.

In addition, there is plenty of cross-cutting which is an effective way of providing exposition, solidifying the bond between the Lazaruses, and setting the stage for the showdown to come.

Malcolm Carlyle makes a brief appearance in this issue. While Johanna demonstrates that she is a more than capable leader of the family, he offers ominous words of caution to his headstrong daughter. Meanwhile, during a routine training session with Marisol, Eight demonstrates a dramatic increase in strength that prompts Bethany to consider a major surgery to upgrade her fast-developing abilities.

“Lazarus Risen” #5 concludes with a reckoning that’s been a long time coming for the Morray family. Forever finally avenges the loss of Joacqim with ruthless efficiency. Her resolve falters only when she is forced to eliminate the only sympathetic member of the group. As expected with such an exceptionally talented creative team, the scene is both moving and true to character.

Final Verdict: 8.5 – A well-written character-driven installment with great artwork that resolves some major story threads.

Spider-Man Noir #5
Written by Eliot Rahal
Illustrated by Juan Ferreyra
Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham
Reviewed by Matthew Blair

We join our webbed hero doing his very best Indiana Jones impression and doing his very best to stop a crazed archaeologist turned Nazi collaborator (aren’t they all?), turned insane goddess from activating the M’kraan crystal in order to open a portal to the underworld and destroy the earth. Let’s see how it all turns out.

It’s always difficult to review books that are at the end of their arc and while “Spider-Man Noir” #5 is no exception, writer Margaret Stohl does a very good job of making the book accessible and a solid story on its own. On the surface, there’s plenty of old schools, pulpy fun that feels right at home for the time period and could just as easily be found in an old-timey dime novel or comic book. If you dig deeper, Stohl does a great job of making this a Spider-Man book, complete with all the emotional weight and responsibility lessons that the web crawler is famous for. If the comic has a problem, it’s that the dialogue feels like a weird hybrid between modern speech patterns and old-timey radio speak, almost like Stohl was struggling on whether or not to make the speech accurate or relatable, but it still works and gets the point across fine.

The blend of old school storytelling with modern sensibilities continues to translate with the artwork on “Spider-Man Noir” #5 to create something interesting and unique. Artist Juan Ferreyra opts for a black and white aesthetic with the barest application of color, choosing to apply the barest hint of washed-out color to a few very specific moments and objects. Meanwhile, while the characters and anatomy are drawn with some very modern sensibilities, the costume design is very neo-noir and the villains have a very cool old school twist to their designs. All of this combines to give a very interesting blended look that shows what might happen if a modern comic was smashed together with an old school film reel.

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“Spider-Man Noir” #5 is an effective, entertaining, and heartfelt blend of old and new that tells a rousing old-fashioned pulp tale with modern sensibilities and traditional Spider-Man pathos. It’s a lot of fun and is a worthy addition to the Spider-Man canon.

Final Verdict: 8.4- It’s a solid Spider-Man pulp story that has some slight identity issues, but is still a lot of fun. The comparisons to Indiana Jones are not made in jest.

Strange Academy #4
Written by Skottie Young
Penciled by Huberto Ramos
Inked Huberto Ramos
Colored by Edgar Delgado
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by Jason Karlson

For all its brilliant reinvention and wide range of titles, the current X-Men line has left an obviously glaring gap in its range of books. With the majority of mutantkind upping sticks in favor of the newly founded island of Krakoa, Xavier’s School for Gifted Mutants has been left vacant along with a superpower school-based comic. For that, you’ll have to look somewhere, stranger?

Taking a few pages from Chuck’s book, Stephen Strange has established an Academy to teach the next generation of magical users as the mystical world starts to heal itself and become even more powerful and dangerous. Although it’s named after the current Sorcerer Supreme it’s funny to see him oddly absent, more like a celebrity who has franchised his name with Zelma Staton (from Jason Aaron’s run) guiding the kids in their mystical studies. In only a handful of issues Young introduces and builds up a large group of brand new characters from Frost Giants to Asgardians and despite the size of the cast has given them all equal development. While setting up what appears to be the big bad for the series going forward in the creepy swamp-like Hallow this issue centers around a more lighthearted and magical powered romp through various locales of the Marvel Universe as the motley crew of students is drafted into an intense game of tag whilst Doyle, the sulky son of Dormammu, hangs back to help with a disturbance in the school’s library.

Huberto Ramos’ art style complements Young’s frenetic pace of storytelling, hitting a middle ground between Skottie’s style and the more grounded work Chris Bachalo has brought to the main Strange title in recent years. It’s equal parts frenetic when focused on the kids’ antics and deeply creepy when creatures like the Hallow show up.

Final Verdict: Young has kept Strange Academy light and fun, creating a title full of heart and energy that quickly draws you into its world and its young cast of characters even though it’s a whole issue of them playing tag.

X of Swords: Stasis #1
Written by Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard
Illustrated by Pepe Larraz and Mahmud Asrar
Colored by Marte Gracia
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by Luke Cornelius

“X of Swords: Stasis” #1 marks the halfway point in the X-book event and is divided roughly into three sections. In the first, we get our first glimpses of the different kingdoms of Otherworld and their leaders, with an emissary inviting them all to parliament. Once there, Saturnyne tries to keep the peace, with many leaders uneasy following the invasions of some kingdoms. With other mutant parties venturing into Otherworld, this section establishes the characters they may come across. In the second section, despite having limited page counts per character, Hickman and Howard introduce the champions of Arakko, their swords, and their motivations, to great success. In the third, the Krakoan champions finally arrive in Otherworld. With resurrection not a reliable option for the champions, their arrival instantly instills huge tension into the event and the issue itself. Saturnyne then quickly thrusts a new card into the clutches of each champion, sowing more confusion and apprehension in the characters and the issue’s readers, followed by the reveal of Annihilation’s identity which is sure to cause Apocalypse’s determination to falter. As to be expected, this issue has lots of threads being woven into the larger tapestry of the event, but crucially moves the story forward with the tournament edging ever closer.

Larraz and Asrar produce fantastic artwork in the one-shot, seamlessly combining their styles and injecting the book with dynamic page layouts to ensure that none of the scenes which, while intriguing in their political ramifications, could easily be presented in a lackluster fashion, are. Likewise, a conversation between Apocalypse and Saturnyne in an elevator comes to life with constant background movement, due to the panels being flanked by long shot views of the elevator’s descent.

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Working across both artists’ work are Marte Gracia and VC’s Clayton Cowles, with their coloring and lettering, respectively, pulling the book together. Gracia brings a huge variety of settings to life, giving them distinct atmospheres, but ensuring that different locations within Otherworld and Arakko feel part of a whole by using a connective color between panels and pages. It also establishes a visual cue for the reader. Cowles’ lettering operates in a similar vein, making the page layouts even smoother to navigate.

Overall, the writing duo combines to push ‘X of Swords’ forward whilst the art team deliver top quality visuals throughout.

Final Verdict: 8.5 – “X of Swords: Stasis” #1 is a great half-way point in a consistently strong event series.

//TAGS | Wrapping Wednesday

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