Wrapping Wednesday: Micro Reviews for the Week of 11/14/18

By | November 19th, 2018
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

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.

Euthanauts #4
Written by Tini Howard
Illustrated by Nick Robles
Colored by Eva de la Cruz
Lettered by Neil Uyetake
Reviewed by Gustavo S. Lodi

Some comic book series are content on coloring within the lines, on exploring new angles of past familiar tropes. “Euthanauts” is not one of those series and the ambitions of the creative team, if whether fully realized or not with issue #4, are certainly one of its key features.

Robles demonstrates, right on the opening pages of “Euthanauts” #4, an ability to quickly shift from the mundane and so-called real-world, to the fantastic and supernatural realm of the beyond. He does so by intelligently designing pages and panel layouts drastically different from each moment of the book, with the more fantastic elements often portrayed in tilted, fluid manner.

His character design is also inspired: even for readers not familiar with the main characters of “Euthanauts,” the book needs little exposition to convey their personalities and emotions other than their facial expressions and reactions to one another. The same can be said by their avatars in the netherworld, where more of their core ways of thinking are translated into actual visuals and body language.

Howard’s script is surely the best and worse the issue has to other. On the negative side, “Euthanauts” #4 is a bit of a hermetic package, with a reliance not only on the three issues that came before but on the high-level concepts the stories rest on. It is surely a book that is best appreciated upon a second view.

On the positive side, the same consistency to the overall plot and on the larger mythology makes “Euthanauts” a consistent suspense story, where nothing feels gratuitous or disposable, where the details on scrip and art are meaningful. It pulls readers in and, if they are persistent on their inspection, will hold on to them stronger.

All in all, “Euthanauts” #4 pushes this fantastic story further, even if at the cost of accessibility. It matters little, though, because for something so well idealized and with such aligned art, it remains a very compelling suspense story, brimming with character.

Final Verdict: 7.2 – Despite its hermetic nature, “Euthanauts” draws its audience in by sheer virtue of its art, characters, and compelling plot twists.

Fantastic Four #3
Written by Dan Slott
Penciled by Sara Pichelli and Nico Leon
Colored by Marte Gracia
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Reviewed by Alexander Jones

Each issue of “Fantastic Four” this far has carried an impressive amount of payoff to lingering plot threads in The Marvel Universe. This week’s issue continues that trend by tossing every member that has ever been part of the team under one issue. There are tons of cast members here who all team up against a new antagonist known as The Griever. Author Dan Slott writes a script full of reunions and fuzzy vibes while evoking a sense of nuance still supported with a direct threat from The Griever. Sara Pichelli and Nico Leon’s nimble, hard-hitting pencils build a great deal of personality and wonder in the comic as well.

Getting the tone to come across just right in a “Fantastic Four” comic is incredibly difficult. Thankfully, Slott gives the issue just the right sense of heart. When readers see the team unite with big smiles and lots of emotion, Slott handles the script with the utmost sense of care. All the relationships between characters who have been part of the team are intact. This script already packed lots of emotion but actually getting a threat like The Griever to come in and give the issue stakes made the story particularly exciting.

Pichelli and Leon bring the right parts of Slott’s script to the forefront. Both artists capture the grounded approach to the issue despite the fact that the issue is a sci-fi, superhero epic. Each figure is minimalistic but really expressive. Pichelli and Leon also pack lots of detail in their respective pages with an incredible amount of characters packed into the issue. Each page of the story is packed with an impressive amount of detail and framing yet the story and action are easy to follow. The issue has a range of expressive emotion and sci-fi action while Pichelli and Leon keep the story grounded. Pichelli’s work always features huge facial expression that an emotional script like this calls for.

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A property like “Fantastic Four” takes a special kind of writer and voice. Marvel’s editorial team wisely picked some of the strongest creators this side of the Big Two to tell the story of the Richards family. Slott’s bombastic and heartfelt script looks even better than it should thanks to the impressive artwork from Leon and Pichelli. This is another can’t-miss issue of a great new Marvel series.

Final Verdict: 8.2 – “Fantastic Four” #3’s emotionally potent script is made all the better thanks to the issue’s gorgeous artwork.

Infinite Dark #2
Written by Ryan Cady
Illustrated by Andrea Mutti
Colored by K. Michael Russell
Lettered by Troy Peteri
Reviewed by Gregory Ellner

In the face of pure entropy, after the end of the universe, can we truly trust our minds? Can we remain sane at all? These are questions proposed by Ryan Cady in “Infinite Dark” #2, through a further examination of “void exposure syndrome.” Merging the horrors of the book with a mystery/thriller, Cady examines the way in which people react not only to the events of the previous issue but also how others react to those very reactions, bringing into focus a larger scheme, a possible conspiracy so long after the end. Coupled with an interesting look into some more of the technology in the series, “Infinite Dark” #2 is sure to appeal to a wide array of interests, from science fiction horror to the aforementioned thriller and mystery/conspiracy genres.

Andrea Mutti provides a wide array of art styles, from a deliberately imprecise, gangly and at times blurred look at the creature at work (or is it?) in the Orpheus, to thicker, more defined line work on the backgrounds and known individuals in the present day. The use of silhouettes at times helps to showcase the darker elements of the story in a thematic lens, while also keeping the focus on one character or another based upon who is given a more detailed facial model.

K Michael Russell is, as ever, very good at working with a wide array of different scenes, ranging from the bright blue of certain hallways to the disturbingly pale look of a technolinguist, to a darker green of the more dour higher-ups’ offices. Most notable is in an interpersonal therapy session, in which Russell uses vivid greens, browns, and more to give the impression of a kind of arcadian pasture in the end times, coupled with deliberate immersion breaking on the edges of the page with blocky textures to show how unnatural the imagery truly is. This image is thrown in direct contrast against a blue-green intrusion on the hologram, and then the yellow, red, and orange coloring of a world on fire. Using color first and foremost, Russell is able to show our protagonist’s frayed mental state.

Final Verdict: 7.0- The mystery deepens as the thriller aspects of “Infinite Dark” rise up in its second issue.

Jook Joint #2
Written by Tee Franklin
Illustrated by Alitha E. Martinez
Colored by Shari Chankhamma
Lettered by Taylor Esposito
Reviewed by Christa Harader

“Jook Joint” #2 continues the first issue’s plunge by giving Heloise a choice: kill the husband who’s taken so much from her and her daughter, or let him live. This tension should carry the story but falters because of narrative craft.

This comic tackles a lot, intertwined as the themes may be domestic violence, queerness and acceptance, racism and intolerance, black joy and black beauty, motherhood and the value of female power … to name a few. It’s a heady list to contain in 22 pages, and unfortunately, it’s too much of a burden for the book to bear because none of it functions as subtext. Exposition, backstory, plot twists and character development are all delivered to us out loud. Because of this, there’s little room for Martinez’s art to hit its mark.

A few moments are quite beautiful. Franklin dancing with Heloise and Dovie and Mahalia’s love scene are both fine examples of how wordless panels often communicate more than text can achieve. The joy and beauty in those moments is awesome to behold, but it’s quickly buried again in the over-explanatory text. Likewise with Heloise’s heart-wrenching indecision. Delivered as it is, it’s all on the page in dialogue to her daughter and Mahalia, and her looks of anguish and indecision don’t entirely land.

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Martinez’s art and Chankhamma’s colors are decent, though there are some issues with character facial expressions in wide panels. Flat colors reign here, with some notable background texturing during some scenes with the sirens and a beautiful, nuanced palette of skin tones. However, the background palette fails to build any significant mood or tone, which would mitigate the over-writing.

If we examine “Jook Joint” in the context of a cathartic power reclamation concept, it’s bold and effective. It’s not an entirely compelling comic, however, because it lacks that breathing space and trust in its art throughout to really pop, as well as a consistently unique style.

Final verdict: 6.5 – “Jook Joint” #2 has a strong premise, but some craft issues keep it from really shining past the social significance of its subject matter.

The Quantum Age #4
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Wilfredo Torres
Colored by Dave Stewart
Lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot
Reviewed by Chris Egan

The fourth issue of “The Quantum Age” starts to throw various pieces of the puzzle at us, looping us through various periods of time bringing the full picture together. We finally get some answers pertaining to Hammer Lass’s past with Archive and it is great to get some clarity. Out of all the stories set in the “Black Hammer” universe, this one has felt the weakest, or at least the most inconsequential.

While it has still been a good enough story to keep interest piqued, the future setting has kept it too far removed from the other stories, until now. This chapter gives the future Black Hammer and her team a purpose, a chance to change the past to save the future. What effect this will have on the greater connected universe has yet to be seen. Lemire is one of the great comic book writers of our time and he continues master an incredibly layered story. Big reveals are on the way. This He continues to craft a web of mystery surrounding some of the saddest superheroes the world has ever known.

Torres’s illustrations make for a great companion to Dean Ormston’s. Cleaner and less gritty than Ormston’s, they are a great homage to Golden Age comics with their perfectly smooth features and heavy line work. With Dave Stewart doing the color work, it allows for a uniform palette across all “Black Hammer” books. At this point, I couldn’t imagine anyone else coming close to the work he does here. It goes without saying, but he is one of the greatest living color artists, capable of walking the line between modern and classic comic styles. Nate Piekos needs to get more credit for the way he changes the dialogue lettering depending on which character is speaking. It’s so great, but speech bubbles tend to go unnoticed.

This issue is the best yet adding real emotional weight to the main characters’ lives, bringing greater connections to the main on-going series. Add some dynamic art on top of that and you get a great issue helping a miniseries come into its own.

Final Verdict: 7.0, the strongest issue of this miniseries so far building towards a major upheaval in this shared universe.

Rugrats: C is for Chanukah #1
Written by Daniel Kibblesmith & Cullen Crawford
Illustrated by Kate Sherron
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Reviewed by Ken Godberson III

With the coming holidays naturally come holiday specials in the comics world and Boom Studios has brought us a Rugrats Chanukah special. Kibblesmith, Crawford, Sherron, and Campbell bring us an oversized story taking place over the eight nights of Chanukah which is essentially the Babies vs. the Golem from Grandpa Boris’…. flexible… telling of the story of Chanukah. It’s a simple tale cut down into eight fun bits that capture the tone of the original show quite well. Kibblesmith and Crawford get the voices of the characters down very well, from Chuckie’s overactive imagination to Angelica’s haughtiness. A standout moment is actually at night with all of the babies asleep and we see into their dreams, such as Tommy trying to fight the Golem without his flashlight, Phil being all excited that the Golem tries to eat him first, Lil also excited that the Golem tries to eat Phil first, and Angelica’s dream that is a Mad Max: Fury Road homage, which should not work but somehow does.

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Kate Sherron’s art style does a good job of invoking the style of the cartoon but allowing to be its own thing. Her style is more smooth than in the show and it allows for more explosive and dynamic scenes, such as whenever Angelica throws a temper tantrum. There’s a whole load of visual gags and references too; including the above mentioned Fury Road homage, there’s a scene where the babies make faux “Golembusters” outfits, Spike in the shadows looking like Zero from A Nightmare Before Christmas, Indiana Jones, Citizen Kane and more. It’s a fun, cute style that fits Kibblesmith and Crawford’s script well.

All in all, “Rugrats: C is for Chanukah” is nothing too deep, even the exploration of the titular holiday is really tangential. But it is a nice, fun story that is perfect for any kid. Even if you liked the show when you were a kid, if you have some spare money to spend, you could do worse with it.

Final Verdict: 7.0- A fun little story that invokes the cartoon series of old really well.

The Terrible Elisabeth Dumn Against the Devils In Suits (One Shot)
Written and Illustrated by Arabson
Colored by Anderson Cabral
Translation by James Robinson
Reviewed by Tom Shapira

A young woman must face the forces of darkness in this one-shot graphic novella meant to introduce the Brazilian artist Arabson to American audiences before the debt of a new Image Comics miniseries co-authored with James Robinson (who provided the English-language adaptation for this story). Judging from this story you can certainly see the appeal – his characters got a very cartoony and unique appearances, the males, in particular, got faces like melting wax, that stands out; and he’s got quite the skill in drawing action and doing more free-roaming, expressive, stuff (some of the best scenes in the book are just people listening to someone playing the guitar). The lettering (which is not credited) is probably the lesser part of the presentation – it’s one of these cases in which the translated text often differs in size from the original which leaves dead space within the speech bubbles. But between the pencils and the colors, I can’t really complain about the art; the story is a different matter.

In terms of plotting you have a basic idea that could sustain a short story, a father tries to barging to soul of his rebellious daughter to the Devil who finds out she is not so easy to collect, but Arabson continues to expand upon it with incident and new character that doesn’t have enough room to develop: Elisabeth Dumn’s elder brother, who was deemed too good to sell to Satan, appears only to disappear from the final conflict – though surely there’s a lot of drama there; a guitarist who also sold his soul (at crossroads at midnight, one assumes) seems to take over the plot for twenty pages before backing down again. I guess all of these characters are meant to take the focus from Elisabeth herself – a rebellious girl with a violent streak who is just not that memorable.

There’s some nice character touches: the father, who swears he is really a man of god and fooled himself into believing he is doing what’s right, is an effective figure. But overall this is a story that should’ve been either cut to size or expended greatly; at its current length, it is neither fish nor fowl nor that good of a comic book.

Final verdict : 6.2 – The art is very good, but the plot defiantly needed another pass-through.

Vault of Spiders #2
Written by Jed McKay, Cullen Bunn, Ryan North, Geoffrey Thorne
Illustrated by Scott Koblish, David A. Williams, Todd Harris
Penciled by Mark Bagley
Inked by Andrew Hennessy
Colored by Andres Mossa, Chris Sotomayor, Andrew Crossley
Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham
Reviewed by Elias Rosner

Three tales of spiders, three different tones, and three different takes on the Spider-Man mythos are at play in “Vault of Spiders” #2. The first tale, that of Spiders-Man, is the strongest in its marriage of art and tone, effectively crafting a dark, horrific and heartbreaking story thanks to Bagley & Hennessy and Sotomayor’s rendition of New York. It’s equal parts Gotham, with a constant smog, frowning populace and a brooding hero crouching in shadows atop a creepy gargoyle; the utilization of an early 2000s-Marvel house style adds to the twisted nature of the tale.

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Bunn’s story, however creative in its execution, still feels too derivative of other “dark” Spider-Man stories. The short nature of the story & the strength of the narration saves it from overstaying its welcome. The second story is a throwback to the stories of early Marvel, evoking the sillier but no less human & personal era via its bright color palette, the lengthy text intro at the top of page 1, and extra-quippy dialogue coming from Spider-Ma’am.

The strongest aspect is the decision to place us on an adventure as if this were issue #43 of an ongoing instead of another origin. It makes the whole thing feel fresher while also allowing North to comment on some of Spidey’s tropes. It’s a fun story that may be light on depth but there’s only so much that can be done with the page count. The final story is perhaps the weakest of the bunch, despite it being the most original conceit of all three. It feels like a replacement for Spider-Man Noir, as evidenced by his use of a gun, and evokes the tone of a Marvel Knights book.

With a color palette that’s awash in dark, washed out greys and blacks and blues and peppered with the orange glow of a city at night, and art that is great at portraying motion in singular panels, the comic establishes itself as a no-nonsense take on the Spider-tropes and aligns itself more like a Punisher book. However, the fight scenes are disorienting thanks to the overabundance of speed-lines, lack of clear backgrounds and environmental reference points. The mysteries of The Shocker and the world are intriguing but not nearly enough to evoke any desire to know more and very little is done to establish the identity of The Spider, leaving only a dull sense of confusion and the belief that with more pages, this could have been a stronger story.

Final Verdict: 7.0 – The anthology format of “Vault of Spiders” has been a real treat, despite some of the stories’ lackluster elements and the somewhat unimportant framing device. The shortness of the stories was a boon to some and a hindrance to others but all were enjoyable in their own rights.

Wonder Woman #58
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Illustrated by Cary Nord
Lettered by Pat Brosseau
Colored by Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Reviewed by Michael Govan

In “Wonder Woman” #58, a new adventure kicks off with a new creative team. The writer, G. Willow Wilson, is probably best known as one of the creators of Kamala Khan over at Marvel. Under her pen, Ms. Marvel has become a very popular hero, already making appearances in video games and cartoons. It makes sense that DC would hand her the reins for one of their most popular heroes.

Wilson’s characterization of Diana is great. When she learns Steve Trevor is in trouble, the Amazon leaps into action. Wonder Woman has no patience for politics or tolerance of people justifying immoral actions through the law. This is the hero who lopped Medusa’s head clean off in combat, she’s definitely big on direct action. At the same time, her relationship with Trevor feels warm and familiar. The characterization of Ares is also good, his monologue near the beginning of the issue was intriguing.

The plot of this issue was maybe just a tad confusing as several new plot threads are introduced. Although, it is worth noting that this is just the first issue of Wilson’s run. There’s no telling what direction the story is going to go in. On the other side of the creative team, Nord’s artwork feels especially strong during action sequences. One stand-out panel was Diana doing her big ‘superhero landing’ in the middle of a battlefield. During more still moments, the art seems to lack some detail. Overall though, not a bad start to this new era.

Final Verdict: 6.0 – Great Hera! Wonder Woman’s new adventure starts off okay.

//TAGS | Wrapping Wednesday

Multiversity Staff

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