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Wrapping Wednesday: Micro Reviews for the Week of 11/23/16

By | November 28th, 2016
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.

Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77 Chapter #1
Written by Jeff Parker and Marc Andreyko
Illustrated by David Hahn
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

I have a confession to make: I’ve only a passing familiarity with Wonder Woman, the 1977 Lynda Carter starring show. I remember reruns being on when I was a kid in the mid-80s, but I’m not sure if she was still a soldier in one of the World Wars, or if her story had been modernized. So, when “Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77” established that she was already Wonder Woman when Bruce Wayne was a kid, that came as a bit of a surprise, but a pleasant one.

David Hahn’s art tries to find a nice balance between the tones of the two shows drawn as source material for this comic. The scenes of Batman and Robin in costume are a little too straight – where are the dutch angles? – but the scenes of Diana Prince in uniform are properly restrained. I’m not sure which Catwoman Hahn was trying to draw – I’m guessing Eartha Kitt – but Hahn isn’t as beholden to recreating the faces of the various actors as prior artists on “Batman ’66” have been. That’s a double edged sword; on one hand, people are reading these books to see Burt Ward as Robin, but Hahn can focus more on the storytelling and less on his draftsman abilities. But, as I said, he takes none of the fun angles and design opportunities of the Batman series. The art in this installment is a missed opportunity.

Parker and Andreyko created a story that looks to blend the sensibilities of either show with villains never seen on either show – Ra’s and Talia al Ghul. There’s always a bit of fun in seeing how the looks of characters were adapted into the ’66-verse, and we’ve seen Ra’s show up in the comic series before, but those sideburns never help to make me wish they actually had him on the show. Imagine how hammy Ra’s would have been?

This is merely the first, 10 page, chapter in the digital series, so it is hard to really judge the plot going forward, but the dialogue and beginnings of a plot are fun for a few reasons. First of all, we never got to see young Bruce Wayne on Batman, so that’s a neat thing to see. In addition, the flashback gives reason for the team-up (which we don’t see yet) that doesn’t feel over the top or silly. It gives me hope that the series will live up to its fun potential.

Final Verdict: 6.3 – The art leaves a lot to be desired, but the story is pure fun.

Donald Quest #1
Written by Stefano Ambrosio
Illustrated by Andrea Freccero
Translated by Pat and Carol McGreal
Reviewed by Matthew Garcia

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the extensive breadth of the Disney comics library. Like superheroes, their presence has been so prevalent in the medium it’s nigh on impossible to think of a time without Mickey, Donald, or Goofy appearing in some strip or book. IDW has found themselves a gold mine with their Disney series, especially when it comes to the newly translated European Disney comics (mostly Italian). “Donald Quest” #1 joins their ranks in an alternative-world classic quest adventure with gallant knights and giant fighting robots.

In this world, a meteor has crashed on the planet, unleashing a barrage of tricked out animals called meteorbeasts, under the control of this evil overlord. Mickey Mouse has become the most famous Beastbuster in Feudarnia, and his latest mission winds up with him at Uncle Scrooge’s front porch. There, he teams up with Donald and his nephews to deliver the MacGuffin that will help save the world.

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Everything about this book is big, from the hulking monsters stomping around to all the character expressions and reactions. Artist Andrea Freccero found an pose he liked and used it every chance he got. I think it’s interesting how different creative teams have different interpretations of Donald. For the most part, these IDW releases seem like they took the saddest, most demeaning elements from the Carl Barks strips as the basis for the character. There’s also this ’90s Pokémon-esque battle stats panels for some of the creatures, which seems ill=placed and desperate to appeal to the youths.

That being said, I had a lot of fun with this. “Donald Quest” #1 knows its a ridiculous, over-the-top book and embraces that. While it may never offer anything to blow you away, it will at least keep you entertained.

Final Verdict: 6.5 – Over-the-top, with some ill-considered panelling moments, but on the whole, charming enough.

The Flash #11
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Davide Gianfelice
Review by Ken Godberson III

You know, “The Flash” is one of the better books in Rebirth, but it does have one major flaw that soars above some more middling flaws and this issue helped bring that to the forefront for me. This issue is about Flash and Kid Flash learning from The Shade about what is going on, why his connection with the Shadowlands is going haywire, and what happened to Officer Hope O’Dare, Shade’s lover. It is a tale of a sorta-reformed villain desperately wanting to stay on the straight-and-narrow even if the call to crime can be a bit much. It is an interesting story, but this issue also reminded me why I find Richard Swift and Hope O’Dare a bit more interesting than Barry and Iris, even with the parallels Williamson is trying to show with the relationships.

To be completely blunt: I am sick unto death of Iris not knowing that Barry is The Flash. In the eleven issues we’ve had, it is the most insufferable aspect of this series. Every time it is mentioned or when Barry has to make some excuse to keep her in the dark, it’s the most awkward aspect of any issue with it. I hate to compare this to that show but that kind of showed us how stupid it is for a superhero keeping his loved ones in the dark is (hell, going back even further, the original Jaime Reyes “Blue Beetle” showed how dumb and tired this trope was). Even from that simple fact that Shade trusts Hope enough with that adds a level of gravitas to their relationship that is absent in Barry & Iris and this secret is just being mercilessly drawn out.

Davide Gianfelice joins series colorist Ivan Plasencia for this issue and they do a good job here. They manage to get down some of the weirdness that the Shadowlands should be (reminding me a bit of the work of Riley Rossmo brought to “Constantine the Hellblazer”). Plasencia also makes a good use of clashing colors in this issue. The Shadowlands is a place of deep, cool blues and dark purples and it works wonders when having to combine with the bright, vibrant reds, yellows and pinks of Flash and Kid Flash’s powers at work.

Final Verdict: 6.8- Some nice artwork makes up for the main character’s conflict being less interesting than the supporting character of this arc.

Star Wars: Han Solo #5
Written by Marjorie Liu
Illustrated by Mark Brooks
Reviewed by Alice W. Castle

When it comes to Marvel’s slate of comics in the new post-Disney Star Wars canon, most of them have been filling in the newly created blanks in between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes. With decades of novels and comics left out to dry, the prospect of a comic about what Han Solo was up to after the Battle of Yavin becomes an exercise in joining the dots.

We know the roguish, selfish smuggler who stormed the Death Star on the promise of a reward. We also know the charming scoundrel who lay himself at the mercy of Darth Vader if it saved his friends. How does a man go from the former to the latter? Generally, it doesn’t really matter as I’d call that focusing too much on the journey rather than the end result. A focus on the act of development over what that development means.

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Over the course of five issues, Marjorie Liu and Mark Brooks have done an admirable job of telling an interesting and pretty fun Star Wars book. I commended Jorge Molina’s ability to convey the franticness of a dogfight in space on a comic page in my review of “Star Wars” #22 and I have to laud similar praise to Mark Brooks here.

His ability to command the page and convey speed and movement through still images to create a frantic and exhilarating space race is likely worth the price of admission alone. This is the most impressed I’ve been with Brooks’ art, knowing him mostly from his cover work, and how he is able to build and layer a number of different story elements on the page from the race itself to the obstacles to the happenings in the cockpit.

All in all, what has Marjorie Liu and Mark Brooks told us about Han Solo that we didn’t already know? Not much, honestly. But they did embroil him in a plot that gave us insight into the operations of the Rebel Alliance, showed us a new and unique aspect of the world in the form of the Dragon Void race and fully embraced that science fantasy aspect of the franchise in this last issue. In five issues, I’d say that’s more than enough.

Final Verdict: 8.2 – It’s not the life-changing Star Wars revelation of a comic that people seem to expect from the franchise these days, but it was a lot of fun.

Kingsway West #3
Written by Greg Pak
Illustrated by Mirko Colak and Wil Quintana
Reviewed by Jess Camacho

“Kingsway West” has been one of the more enjoyable, short run miniseries that I’ve tried out this year. They are starting to become much more common at non cape only publishers and while I like this, some have been forgettable. “Kingsway West” hasn’t been that but it might have been better served with more issues. “Kingsway West” #3 finds Kingsway forced to choose between going on his own to find Sonia or helping in the protection of the red gold. This issue is heavy on the action has Kingsway strays far from the non violent path he and his wife tried to forge. Pak’s writing still comes off very natural with a touch of humor but the concept here is so big and I wish he had more space to work with. I’d like to spend more time with these heroes and villains. I’d like to see this alternate version of America fleshed out. The other aspect holding this back from true greatness is the Sonia plot. It feels like it’ll get a rushed together finale and she’s acted as little more than a plot device instead of a full character and it is very disappointing thus far.

Mirko Colak is the truest bright spot of this issue and combined with Quintana’s color work, “Kingsway West” feels like the neo sci fi western I want it to be. Colak’s pencils are great with lots of excellent expression, geographical elements and strong genre action. There is a level of danger in what happens back at Ah Toy’s village and some scarier creatures come into play to heighten this without becoming campy. Quintana’s colors have a nice variance in them. He’s able to use shadows to his advantage and even though much of this takes place in the dead of night, there’s a specific lightness in the setting. His idea of night isn’t total darkness and through the use of blues and yellows, he brings in the moonlight in a nice way.

Final Verdict: 7.2 – A really great idea and some great things are happening, but I wish we were getting more than what’s been solicited.

Star Wars #25
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Jorge Molina
Reviewed by Robbie Pleasant

There’s a certain restriction to creating a comic set in a famous franchise, particularly when it’s meant to bridge the gap between two movies, and that comes in the form of impervious plot armor. Characters that exist in both films are guaranteed to survive every encounter with nary a scratch to show for it, and new characters that get introduced are hard to grow attached to because their overall impact will be limited. Fortunately, Jason Aaron has found at least a little bit of leeway in that area by making the new characters pretty awesome.

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In this case, we have the Scar Squadron, the elite unite of Stormtroopers sent up against the Rebel Alliance. They all have unique designs and specialties, not to mention an entire issue dedicated to showing that they’re a real threat. Yet at the same time, we know they can’t win against the heroes. By the same token, we know the Star Destroyer stolen by the Rebels isn’t going to last forever, the only question is whether or not it accomplishes anything before it’s destroyed.

Fortunately, the goal is the journey, rather than the destination.

So in spite of the lack of stakes for the readers, the comic still manages to keep things active and intense, to the point where it still feels like someone important will get hurt. In spite of their plot armor, the characters still have to struggle to survive against the Scar Squadron, and no victories can come without a cost. Admittedly, it stretches the suspension of disbelief by quite a bit when it has some human characters survive in space with no more protection than a face mask, but this is “Star Wars” we’re talking about, so it’s a forgivable sin.

Of course, Jorge Molina’s artwork helps as well, illustrating the action nicely. He makes every hit count, with action flowing from moment to moment. There’s a great moment where Luke is losing his match against Kreel, and the panel shows him towering above Luke in an imposing shot; it takes a lot to make Stormtroopers threatening these days, but the team has managed to just that with the Scar Squadron.

Final Verdict: 7.2 – Not the strongest issue in what is still a good run, but still provides some good moments and great action, with solid dialogue and artwork.

//TAGS | Wrapping Wednesday

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