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.
“Art Ops” #6
Written by Shaun Simon
Illustrated by Eduardo Risso
Reviewed by Stephenson Ardern-Sodje
The first arc of “Art Ops” sealed up a mind-bending Mona Lisa-helmed trip around New York with the re-emergence of a familiar face leaving Reggie (along with the rest of us) hanging off a metaphorical cliff. But, rather than leaping into the next arc, Simon has enlisted the help of guest artist Eduardo Risso for a flashback two parter that should flesh out both the weird world of his pop-art paradise and the players within in.
Simon teased readers with the enigmatic cabal of Art Ops members briefly in his first arc but didn’t really elaborate on their founding or real mission statement, so it’s great to see him taking the time to really dive into their backstory in the first of two purposeful issues. Centring this flashback around key Art Ops members – and parents of Reggie – Danny and Regina, means that this issue still feels like it’s helping advance the story in the present day, even though it takes place entirely in the 70’s. Danny and Regina are summoned to a call-out for a piece of art gone rogue and inducing depressive thoughts for anyone caught in its radius, and Simon uses this routine mission to elaborate on the conflict that winds up tearing the group apart: art as stagnant decoration vs art as an unpredictable emotional catalyst. While that kind of philosophical musing might not sound instantly engaging, Simon manages to keep the script clipping along with a personality and sincerity.
Fans might be sad to see Mike Allred off this book for two issues, but Laura Allred is still firmly on colour duty and her distinctive and diverse pop-palette means that this book doesn’t feel completely alien. What’s more, Risso really comes out of the gates swinging, with a style that feels like a brilliant mixture of Frank Miller and Mike Mignola. There’s an emotive Gothicism to his art that fits strongly with a script that hinges on heartbreak and isolation, and while Allred packed his panels with texture in the form of graffiti, sculpture, and more, Risso is more sparing, utilising shadow and negative space, along with a slew of Dutch angled panels, to evoke a feeling of a more abstract impression of New York that wouldn’t feel out of place in a 30’s Expressionist film.
Simon manages to play out a tight, concise story in this issue, while still making it feel like a necessary flash of the past for any fan who wants a deeper understanding of the present that Reggie, Juliet, and The Body inhabit. While I could look at Allred’s art all day, Risso’s guest work is dissimilar enough to give this short story a sense of its own identity, and his darker (both in use of shadow and in general visual tone) approach to the world of “Art Ops” definitely helps build the creeping sense of conflict that we know is eventually going to cause a schism in the group.
Final Verdict: 7.6 – A great little side story that feels just as relevant as any issue in the first arc. Could this mark the beginning of a larger “Art Ops” universe?
Bloodshot Reborn Annual 2016
Written by Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes, Michael Fiffe, Benjamin Marra & Paul Mayburry
Illustrated by Kano, Joe Bennett, Ray Fawkes, Benjamin Marra & Paul Mayburry
Review by Ken Godberson III
Being that this is an anthology special, let’s go through each story one at a time:
The Silver Lake Slasher (Lemire/Kano): Judging by that title, this sounds like Bloodshot vs. the most lawyer-friendly version of Jason Voorhees ever. And you’d be right. That is how this story starts. It’s a bit of a humorous take on what happens when these two nigh-immortal death machines collide. There are a couple of nice laughs, and Kano’s pencils and colors keep a fun tone. But, as Jeff Lemire’s “Bloodshot Reborn” is an examination of violence, it gets very dark very quick. There is a great deal of sadness at the reveal of what this Silver Lake Slasher is, and goes to show the evils of Project Rising Spirit.Continued below
Secret Convergence War of Infinite Squirts (The Original Writer/Bennett): Switching away from the somberness of Lemire/Kano’s story, we have this short comedy where the cartoonish, Bite-Mite-esque character, Bloodsquirt, decides to take the absolute piss out of the Big 2 comics scene and their massive events and contrivances. It’s a fun little story (with Jay Fabares providing a cartoony version of Bloodsquirt) and it’s certainly the most bright one with colors provided by the criminally underrated Pete Pantazis.
Jacob (Ray Fawkes): This is an extension of The Silver Lake Slasher from the perspective of the titular monster, Jacob. The biggest draw here is Ray Fawkes’ watercolor work. The story itself is just okay, but the art brings a soft surreality while also being very human.
Hellcloud Awaits (Fiffe/Marra): This was weird. Like, incredibly weird. Trying to describe this would take more time than a micro-review could be allowed, so incredibly version is Bloodshot visits another dimension. It just gets more bizarre, both writing and artwork. I won’t deny the creativity within this work, especially the designs that Marra uses for the variety of creatures in this dimension.
Final Verdict: 6.8- Some nice stories, but with a pricey tag. Grab it if you had a light week and want more Bloodshot.
Written by Emma Ríos
Illustrated by Hwei Lim
Reviewed by Matthew Garcia
If nothing else, “Mirror” #2 is one of the most gorgeous comics out there. With a design and rhythm reminiscent of P. Craig Russell and a storybook art style, everything comes together to create a singular and fantastic aesthetic. That the storyline gets so deep, that the characters are so well handled, that the world building is so assured and confident is simply an added bonus.
“Mirror” #2 slowly builds to an attack on the compound tower by the dog Sena and her group of animal revolutionaries. But the real meat of the issue deals with Sena and the boy, Ivan, reuniting and realizing how much each other has changed in the time since Sena escaped. There’s a bit of magic involved, sending Ivan and Sena floating up through the tower and passed experimental labs, and Lim’s control of expression gives the whole thing that much more power.
For all the strong visuals and interesting designs, the centering on Ivan and Sena grounds the issue. Lim and Ríos know what to have the characters say or do to generate real tension in the story. Their relationship and history makes for the most captivating parts, grabbing you and making you anxious to know how the rest of this is going to unfold.
Final Verdict: 8.6 – a fantastic unique world boosted by some strong character dynamics and assured storytelling
Written by Joe Keatinge
Illustrated by Nick Barber and Simon Gough
Reviewed by Jess Camacho
“Ringside” #5 marks the end of the series first story arc and thus far the series has been almost all that I want from a wrestling centric comic book. Instead of focusing on the in ring action, the series has focused on three different men at different stages of their careers. “Ringside” #5 finds all of them looking at a different future. Davis, Reynolds and Danny all come to a crossroads in their lives with Danny’s being the most dramatic. What I like most about this issue is the relationship between Davis and Reynolds and how their careers are going opposite directions. This is a side of the industry that’s not really talked about until someone has a bad story to share and I think Keatinge has found a sweet spot between hope and melancholy for these two characters and where they’re headed. It’s proven to be the best storyline of the series so far. Danny meanwhile is going down a darker path and I wonder how much he’ll tie into the wrestling side of things. The action in the ring never has to be shown but Danny is feeling so disconnected that it’s becoming a little bit of a stretch when he does flashback to his wrestling days. I’m hoping that the next arc kind of brings things a little closer to that in regards to what he does.Continued below
Nick Barber’s art is very good because it’s not what you’d expect in a book like this. He’s not doing hyper realistic character modeling and he’s not doing beefcake for the wrestlers. This brings a little bit of realism to this (because not all wrestlers look like John Cena) but it also really hits home the noir vibe the series is going for, especially when it comes to Danny’s arc. Barber’s work is expressive and detailed just enough without falling into something too cartoonish. The characters are visibly really different from each other and his facial expressions are spot on. The colors by Simon Gough are really bright, which doesn’t immediately scream dark crime story but it’s the way he spreads out these brighter colors that make it work.
Final Verdict: 7.8 – Still really on board with this series and I’m looking forward to the next arc.