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    Wrapping Wednesday: Micro Reviews for the Week of 11/29/17

    By | December 4th, 2017
    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.

    Black Magick #9
    Written by Greg Rucka
    Illustrated by Nicola Scott
    Colored by Chiara Arena
    Lettered by Jodi Wynne
    Reviewed by Gregory Ellner

    Though a relatively slow issue, Greg Rucka’s writing in “Black Magick” #9 proves to be very emotional. With the rise of the Aria witch hunters comes a threat to Rowan Black and her coven and her emotional volatility over the death of J.P. Brandt and the circumstances revolving around it give a lot of the conflict and sadness of this part of the story. Also, the talk about Morgan and Anna’s coming child is a good way to break up the Rowan storyline, as well as lead into further action.

    Nicola Scott’s artwork is excellent as ever. Her portrayal of Rowan’s conflicted emotions is very well put through naught but her pencils, giving an air of gravitas to the issue that is further compounded by the sparse use of color in the series. Grayscale is used for the mundane world, color for the fantastic, and as most of the issue revolves around mundane elements, Scott’s artwork has to hold up on its own, and definitely does so.

    Coloring is only very sparse, given this comic is mostly in grayscale, but Chiara Arena’s use of pink in Rowan’s cat’s dialogue and of light blue in the pulses of power that came off from Laurent’s anti-warding measures showcase the mystical aspects of “Black Magick” quite well.

    Final Verdict: 7.5- A relatively slow issue, but with good emotional scenes and fantastic artwork.

    “Darkhawk” #51
    Written by Chad Bowers & Chris Sims
    Illustrated by Kev Walker
    Colored by Java Tartaglia
    Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham
    Reviewed by Elias Rosner

    Robots, space knights, and a single rough agent off to defend the Earth from an evil alien organization? No, Marvel hasn’t finally reprinted their “ROM” series. It’s the return of Darkhawk, a hero I know nothing about and, I suspect, neither does a lot of the current Marvel readership.

    As far as introductory issues go, this did an admirable job of introducing us to Chris Powell and the amulet that transforms him into Darkhawk. It gives just the right amount of backstory, so we’re not lost, while also setting up a new adventure. Walker’s art is very clean and solid, giving the comic the grounding it needs before it throws us into the neon, space robot fights.

    The highlight of his art has to be his paneling, which frames the issue and visually conveys the split in the narrative when it goes from a simple cop story to the sci-fi, pulpy action fest of the second half. The page which splits the issue is formatted like crosshairs and each page afterwards looks broken and shattered, keeping us off balance, until the final page, where it returns to simpler paneling.

    There was a sense of motion throughout the whole issue that kept me invested, even though the narrative itself feels kind of overwrought. Like I said before, it reminds me a lot of the “ROM” series (both Marvel and IDW’s version) and just of other pulpy space adventures of decades gone by. However, I feel like Bowers and Sims bring enough changes to the formula to, if Marvel lets them, continue this into a series that we haven’t really had from Marvel in a while.

    It’s silly but, considering Bowers and Sims’s work on “Swordquest,” I think they could transform this into something fun that I wouldn’t mind reading month to month. But, as it stands, this is just a one-shot. And for a one and done, I’m satisfied.

    Final Verdict: 6.9. Nothing too original but a great, fun throw-back issue to a ‘90s Marvel property and a narrative homage to a series that Hasbro and Marvel really need to reprint.

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    Eternity #2
    Written by Matt Kindt
    Illustrated by Trevor Hairsine and Ryan Winn
    Colored by David Baron
    Lettered by A Larger World Studios
    Reviewed by John Schaidler

    As the second issue in a four-part miniseries, “Eternity” #2 does a lot of things really well. The panel work is outstanding, the character designs are a great deal of fun, and the color palette is nothing short of luxurious. In the words of Myshka (the protagonist Divinity’s romantic partner and mother of the missing baby whose kidnapping in the debut issue sparked the couple’s quest), “It seems every location is like turning the page in the most fantastic book.” Yes, the artwork is that good, combining enough fantastical, abstract elements to make things feel truly unknown with enough realistic touches to keep it all grounded and relatable. Unfortunately, the pace is so tight there’s hardly any time to soak it all in.

    That said, visually the book can take it. Matt Kindt’s writing, on the other hand, definitely feels rushed in places. Not only is there no time to develop the cavalcade of characters that Divinity and Myshka meet, in order to keep things moving and take the story where it needs to go, Kindt sometimes ends up writing pulpy, B-movie sounding dialogue like this. “Excuse me, my work is urgent,” says Ragad The Unstoppable, sentinel of the dam that keeps the eternal floods from wiping out the Past-Light Lands. “If you seek information, just look up. The home to all knowledge is above you in the City of the Golden Virus! Ask for Atom-13!” Honestly, the book operates on such a high level so much of the time that when it doesn’t, it’s really glaring.

    Kindt has spoken of Kirby many times in reference to “Eternity,” invoking the epic, atemporal quality of some of the comic book master’s more cosmic work. Like Kirby, Kindt is bursting with creative ideas and seemingly capable of creating an endless array of unique, extra-dimensional characters. Unfortunately, as Kindt hustles to assemble opposing forces for what promises to be an unforgettable battle, it sometimes feels like we’re running down a checklist, simply ticking through a list of who’s who without going any deeper.

    Final Verdict: 8.2 Momentary lapses aside, “Eternity” #2 is a joy to read. Don’t sleep on this series or it will be over before you know it.

    Giantkillers #0
    Written by Bart Sears and Ron Marz
    Illustrated by Bart Sears and Tom Raney
    Colored by Nanjan Jamberi and Neeraj Menon
    Lettered by Troy Peteri and Dave Lanphear
    Reviewed by Reed Hinckley-Barnes

    “Giantkillers” begins in media res, throwing the reader off the deep end into a world of monsters, wizards, and chosen ones. The story, which is split up into three parts with two different creative teams, follows Auoro, a young girl who the story tells us is destined to become “The White” and kill a god. She has two different companions, a stoic warrior named Arkon and a knowing powerful wizard named Tulat. If these all sound a bit cliché, that’s because in this first issue, it all is.

    The issue itself is disjointed. The first and third parts of the story are written and drawn by Bart Sears, while the middle portion is written by Rom Marz and drawn by Tom Raney. The way these parts fit together doesn’t entirely make sense. While they are connected by characters, it’s not clear what is a flashback, a flash forward, or if we are supposed to care.

    The art is in a sort of standard, fantasy style throughout the entire issue. Though there is a switch in artists, the styles are so similar that it would be hard to tell without looking at the credits. It all gives the impression of a kind of post-apocalyptic sword and sorcery. The men are all very grizzled and muscular. Auoro, the only female character in the entire book, has extremely pouty, well defined lips and a face that looks like she could be in her twenties, despite ostensibly being a young girl. The monsters are well designed, with giants in the first part and a bounty hunter dwarf that is chasing toward the end that are both gruesome and interesting to look at.

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    “Giantkillers” #0 does not give the reader much chance to get their footing in the world it presents. It assumes the reader is already attached to the characters, though this is supposed to be an introduction to them. I haven’t read any of Ominous Press’s other work, though I know they released another series, “Dread Gods” with IDW earlier this year. Reading this, I wonder whether that series ties into this one, if it somehow explains what is going on here a little bit better, so that a reader won’t be completely lost reading it. Even if it did, though, this issue does not provide a compelling reason to pick up the actual first issue when it comes out next month.

    Final Verdict: 4.5 – Too many clichés and not enough answers to recommend this to anyone other than die hard sword and sorcery fans.

    Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #33
    Written by Robert Venditti
    Breakdowns by Tom Derenick
    Illustrated by Jack Herbert
    Colored by Jason Wright
    Lettered by Dave Sharpe
    Reviewed by Gustavo S. Lodi

    With “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps” #33, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps continues to expand on the series mythology while at the same time bring back concepts and characters not in play for a fairly long while.

    One of the better aspects of this series since the Rebirth relaunch has been Venditti’s grasp on the multiple human, and non-human, Green Lantern cast members. His scripts and dialogue always show his passion for these space cops and issue #33 shows how Venditti can juggle a large cast such as this. The issue moves around three main story threads: one featuring Hal and Kyle, another Stewart, the surviving Oan Guardians with a new recruit to boost; and the final one revolves around the main plot point for this new arc. Regardless of which thread, none of the characters come across as stereotypical or as crystallised versions of themselves. These characters truly shows their friendships up their sleeves, with their different world viewpoints contributing to the story as a whole.

    Plot-wise, this issue is a bit of a slow start for the new arc. While understandable, since the main story element rests on a last-page reveal, it does detach from the pacing of the book, with its usual high-octane action and space opera feel. Having said that, the main villains going forward are very compelling and worth the jumping-on point this new arc presents.

    On the art department, Jack Herbet demonstrates a style very similar to Van Sciver’s, this core series artist. His panel disposition is a bit more contained, offering better character moments and playing right into what this issue is focused on. It is no slouch on the few occasion where it does open up, especially on the story threads featuring Hal and Kyle on a rescue mission.

    Final Verdict: 7.5 – Despite being slower than usual to kick-off this new arc, issue #33 succeeds the most when focused on the human characters. Long-time fans of the Green Lantern mythos will be pleased with the main antagonists and certainly will return for more.

    Heavy Vinyl #4
    Written by Carly Usdin
    Illustrated by Nina Vakueva and Irene Flores
    Colored by Rebecca Nalty, Kieran Quigley, and Walter Baiamonte
    Lettered by Jim Campbell
    Reviewed By Kate Kosturski

    The title formerly known as “Hi Fi Fight Club” comes to a conclusion for now. The Vinyl Mayhem girl crew is off to New York City to find Rosie Riot but Rosie’s disappearance was in fact planned. With her own fight club at her side (which itself is part of a larger league) Rosie reveals a nefarious plot with the record companies and some mind-control technology. With a little gadgetry wizardry from Dolores, the rest of Stegosour is returned to their normal selves, and life’s looking good for Chris and her friends. But Rick Blaze, evil genius behind what took down most of Stegosour in the first place, is on the hunt to find the “next great American band.” So Vinyl Mayhem’s job isn’t done yet.

    I’ll admit the name change, especially this late in the game with the final issue, was confusing. It does, as Carly Usdin confirmed to me on Twitter, provide opportunities for future storylines without the fight club aspect (and confusion with the novel and film). I do wish it had been done sooner to provide better continuity and less bewilderment for fans. I, for one, almost missed it in my pull. The narrative does seem to wrap up very quickly and veer a little too outrageous for the time period (mind control microchips in late ‘90s New Jersey?!) but with the open-ended ending we have here, there’s room in future issues to explore backstory of this particular plot thread further. The recurring team of Nina Vakueva and Rebecca Nalty have some assistance on art with this final issue, necessary with all the new characters present. They’ve learned well from the more senior members: art and colors remain consistent and beautiful throughout.

    Continued below

    It’s farewell for now to Vinyl Mayhem, but not farewell forever. They’ll be back for an encore.

    Final Verdict: 7.4 – Name change aside, there’s some plot holes that I hope are resolved in the next story arc. An overall splendid end to a series I am sad to see conclude.

    “Mercy” 18-28, 29-34
    Written and Illustrated by Stjepan Šejić
    Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane

    Reading “Mercy” has been a different experience from “Sunstone.” Understandably, auteur Stjepan Šejić has been producing the webcomic as completed pages instead of pure vertical strips to save time for the eventual print release. The strips are still posted vertically, having dropped roughly 15 pages worth in the past couple of weeks, but there’s a contained and segmented quality to them. This isn’t a deal breaker; each strip manages a solid episodic flow and all of the dorky little ticks Šejić’s ongoing romance series has are still there, but it is interesting to note the slight adjustment in presentation.

    These strips have several sections that stand out and would make an excellent spread or page on their own. These instances tend trade in the melodramatic literalism Šejić draws this series in. As Alan recounts the anonymous girls teasing him about his interests, and an accompanying section of Alan breaking the fourth wall, Šejić liters the page with the equivalent of old polaroids. It visually represents the point of the dialog as well as setup the two distinct segments in the pages 18-28 strip. Everything with Ally is worth remembering, the gutters separating panels are noticeably smaller compared to the moments without her. Šejić uses the semi-disconnected nature of paneling to represent the fungibility of memory.

    After baring his soul for a while, Alan tags in his wife Anne so that Lisa may document her life history. Funny enough, Anne’s origin story also involves artwork and a best friend exposing themselves. It’s almost like what it sounds like. For all the other elements of this series, if it were just this cast of characters sitting around and talking I would be content. Šejić manages to add a sense of dynamism to Anne and Cassie just standing around in the bathroom talking through paneling and facial expressions.

    These two strips and the ability to make me just want to read them hanging out get to the heart of “Mercy.” In both cases these strips highlight the point of the series, how friendship allows the expression of specific persona that would otherwise go undeveloped. With Alan, Ally finally has an outlet to discuss and developed her sexual nerdery. Cassie is that ray of normal sunshine that shows why Goth Anne was never able to a “true Edgelord.”

    Final Verdict: 8.0 – “Mercy” is back with a consistent release schedule and the series finally has enough of a foundation to begin developing its themes.

    Moon Knight #189
    Written by Max Bemis
    Penciled by Jacen Burrows
    Inked by Jacen Burrows & Guillermo Ortego
    Colored by Mat Lopes
    Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
    Reviewed by Matt Sadowski

    Marc Spector and his retinue of identities returns for part 2 of ‘Crazy Runs in the Family’ after his conspicuous absence in the previous issue. Moon God Khonshu takes on narration duties excavating deeper into Spector’s unhinged mind. Though these days, Marc, Steven, and Jake seem to be less resentful of sharing the same headspace. Rest easy, moonies. Marvel’s lunatic hero is in the faithful hands of Bemis.

    Max Bemis is really filling out Moon Knight’s sparse rogue’s gallery with the introduction of the Sun King and The Truth. Setting up Amon Ra’s Sun King as the elemental opposite to Khonshu’s Moon Knight is an inspired choice, one that surprisingly hasn’t been done with the character’s decades-long history. The Truth also debuts as a misanthropic mirror used to reflect the issues of the day—and briefly exposes Spector’s lingering fears concerning his sanity.

    Jacen Burrows (with an assist from Guillermo Ortego) and Mat Lopes are turning in some of the best art of Moon Knight’s history. Fistfights flow with a bloody brutality. The inks and colors radiate a kinetic energy bringing Moon Knight’s version of New York to vibrant life, from the pink glow of Lockley’s late-night celebration to a post-subway crash tableau. Whether it’s Spector’s relative contentedness, Grant’s wealthy arrogance, or Lockley’s psychosis, Burrows draws each dissociative identity with enough of a flourish to clearly show which one is in control.

    Continued below

    Now free from the confines of Ravencroft, the Sun King glows infernally orange against monochromatic backgrounds, an effective visual reminder of Patient 86’s solar apotheosis. Next issue’s promised match between Moon Knight and Sun King can’t come soon enough.

    Final Verdict: 8.5 – The new creative team continues setting up a worthy villain while capturing what makes “Moon Knight” great.

    Spy Seal #4
    Written and Illustrated by Rich Tommaso
    Reviewed by Nicholas Palmieri

    Rich Tommaso concludes the first arc of his anthropomorphic spy series with another set of familiar plot beats. But “Spy Seal” isn’t a book you read for the story. The story is merely a showcase for his art.

    Tommaso sticks almost exclusively to a single thin line for the book, something thin enough to add details to his backgrounds while maintaining just enough weight to support character and object outlines. To add dimension and give focus to each panel, he leaves some aspects of the art open and detail free, like the cartoonish character designs, while other contrasting aspects are filled with small details, like waves in the ocean or brick on a castle. Beyond his design sense, Tommaso has a great feel for how to pace a wordless action scene, using many angles and the details of a character’s deteriorating disguise to turn something as simple as a character crawling through a cave into a seven-panel adventure.

    With any other artist, Tommaso’s “Spy Seal” writing would be completely unremarkable. It combines every spy trope together without any commentary, and the dialogue scenes, where speech bubbles typically contain paragraphs worth of uninterrupted dialogue, can completely slow down the book’s pacing. These choices definitely provide the aesthetic of an old spy story done as a “Tintin” pastiche, but that’s exactly my point: the story is primarily a delivery vehicle for the art.

    In most other cases, I would prefer art this good to be paired with a story equally as engaging. With such remarkable art, though, I can accept Tommaso’s decisions to use the story simply as a justification to stick to an aesthetic.

    Final Verdict: 7.5 – Remarkable art with a story that’s only there to further the visuals, and that’s okay.

    //TAGS | Wrapping Wednesday

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