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.
Buffy: The High School Years – Freaks & Geeks
Written by Faith Erin Hicks
Illustrated by Yishan Li and Rod Espinosa
Reviewed by Matthew Garcia
In “Buffy: The High School Years – Freaks & Geeks”, Buffy hasn’t figured out that Angel’s a vampire yet. (Spoiler, by the way, but seriously, it’s a 20 year old show.) Mention “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and I doubt you’d immediately think of anything from the first season. Joss Whedon’s seminal TV show reached some fantastic heights within the medium, but few of them came from its initial outing, where it was still trying to find its footing and really just filling out the schedule for the rest of that season. It might be odd, then, that the new Dark Horse graphic novel series, “Buffy: The High School Years” sets its debut within the first season, but Faith Erin Hicks and Yishan Li make it work for their story.
I mean, just think about the time period: Buffy hasn’t had to face so many world-ending dilemmas, the people around her are all still living, she’s not caught in a glass cage of emotions; we’re given a more naïve and innocent setting, where Buffy’s biggest problem is trying to figure out how to keep her friends safe now that they know she’s the Slayer. The entire drive behind this issue is about what friendship means to a person, and it’s sweetly handled, even with a somewhat expected resolution.
“Buffy: The High School Years – Freaks & Geeks” is a brisk, fun, and charming read. The art is cute, with wide-eyed wonder, dynamic poses, and a bit of shõjo manga flair. It reflects well on how these characters see the world and deal with their problems. It also allows for some interesting action scenes, such as the summoning circle or Buffy’s dream sequences. In all honesty, I had an easier and better time accessing Li’s work here than I do with most of the proper “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” titles. Hicks, a cartoonist by nature, makes sure to step back for Li to settle into a scene. They’re given 80 pages to work with, and they pace and time this thing nicely.
It’s an odd little book and maybe a little fleeting, but it’s fun and bright and cheery. And sometimes that’s what you need from a comic book series.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – Cute and charming, it’s like a first season episode except with better confidence in the material.
Written by Gerry Duggan, Charles Soule, and David Walker
Art by Jacopo Camagni, Guillmero Sanna, Elmo Bondoc, and Paco Diaz
Reviewed by Robbie Pleasant
This month’s issue is a special case, composing of a multi-part comic in one issue. In fact, it’s technically not just “Deadpool” #13, it’s also “Daredevil” 7.1, “Power Man and Iron Fist” #4.1, and “Deadpool” #13.1, each with their own writers and artists, although carrying on the same story without missing a beat. As such, it’s significantly longer than a typical comic issue, although with a higher price to match.
While the story remains the same in tone and pacing (and compliments to all three writers for maintaining it so seamlessly throughout each issue), the same cannot be said for the art, with each artist bringing their own unique style. Jacopo’s clean designs, with just a hint of anime inspiration around the facial structures and eyes, switches over to Sanna’s more noir-esque art, filled with plenty of shading dots and a great use of single colors in unique scenes and locations through Mat Lopes’s coloring. No matter what the style, it suits the story, and maintains a similar pacing throughout.
The story itself, however, is somewhat basic as far as Deadpool goes. He receives a client – an investor who accidentally screwed over multiple gangs and thus needs protection from them – and goes from one fight scene to the next, with team-ups and crossovers mixed in-between. Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Daredevil all seem equally tired of having to deal with him, and given some of Deadpool’s behavior in this issue (absent-minded and unnecessarily obtuse even by Deadpool’s standards) it’s hard to blame them.Continued below
But there is some meat and depth when it comes to Deadpool’s old grudge with Typhoid Mary. Neither Deadpool nor the readers have forgotten the time she disguised herself as Siryn in order to sleep with Deadpool, and the comic is not afraid to state that it was, in fact, rape. So Deadpool wants revenge, making the job a little less about protecting the client and a little more about getting revenge.
Final Verdict: 7.0 – Overall, it’s hard to recommend this as a great “Deadpool” comic, but if someone’s looking for a fun team-up or two, a self-contained story, and some wacky Deadpool antics, they’ll find what they’re looking for in here.
Doctor Fate #13
Written by Paul Levitz
Illustrated by Ibrahim Moustafa
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
Khalid Nassour might be the most successful new character of the New 52. Let that sink in for a second.
Few other characters were introduced since 2011 that have carried a series solo – you could make the argument that a couple of the “Gotham Academy” characters are more successful, or that the cast of “The Omega Men,” save for mainstay Kyle Rayner, deserves the honor, and I could understand why someone would say Talon – and the character, until just now, more or less did it on the strength of the character. That’s to say, there wasn’t a connection to the Bat books, or the Green Lantern books, nor has the book – though it features a legacy character – focused much on Kent Nelson.
Well, until this week, when ‘Uncle Kent’ shows up and we get a little taste of the differences (and similarities) between the two Doctors. The book handled this in a way that hints towards the overall ‘Rebirth’ tone, introducing Kent as being much older than Khalid, but his magic has kept him looking young. This sets up Kent as, perhaps, an original Justice Society member, without it being something extremely ridiculous. You could see Kent and the Johnny Thunder from “DC Universe: Rebirth” #1 as contemporaries without any issue.
This issue has Ibrahim Moustafa filling in for Sonny Liew, and Moustafa is a natural fit for the book. While still a relative newcomer, Moustafa is one of the rising stars in comics, and looking at this issue, it is sort of insane that DC has snatched him up to be on a monthly title. His storytelling is beyond reproach, with a really nice mixture of character moments – fully expressive, even behind two masks – and large scale action. He certainly isn’t a Liew clone, nor are their styles all that similar, except in one key way: neither one falls closely in line with DC’s house style.
This book, under both pencilers, feels different than your average DC book, but still works firmly within that world. This is the model, to me, for fringe books in the DCU – no unnecessarily shoe-horned in guest spots or uninspired artists keeping the book looking similar to what DC is doing elsewhere. Moustafa really shines here (and in issue #8, which he also illustrated), and it helps keep the book interesting and relevant, even as it draws to a close.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – The final arc (presumably) introduces some really interesting interplay between the Doctors Fate; hopefully both show up in “Blue Beetle,” where Kent has been teased.
Old Man Logan #7
Written By Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino
Reviewed by Liam Budd
There is plenty of introspection alongside a whole heap of hurt in this issue of “Old Man Logan”. It seems Logan just can’t do right for doing wrong, as a personal mission to the aptly named Killhorn Falls becomes a fight for survival. There is a lot here that will appeal to fans of the classic “Wolverine” series. We’re presented with a very tortured Logan, facing typically insurmountable odds with his back up against the wall. Jeff Lemire appears to be channeling Chris Claremont with this issue, though those unfamiliar with the character’s history will not feel so lost. Also, if we learn only one thing from this issue, it’s that Andrea Sorrentino can draw one hell of a book. His art is visceral and imaginative without sacrificing realistic facial expressions or environments. He can subtly direct your attention by using panels within panels and has a keen eye for symbolism. Death is always present yet Sorrentino knows how to hide it just under the surface.Continued below
Logan happens to be visiting Killhorn Falls to check in on his alternative-future wife, who at this point in time is still a child, and in doing so, attempts to check in on his own humanity. After everything this version has been through, it is understandable that he would want to try and gain some semblance of normality back. Of course this does not quite work out as planned, as Lady Deathstrike and her gang of pesky cyberpunks, The Reavers, descend on the town with their own agenda. What follows is a barrage of slicing and dicing from Logan, who actually happens to be a lot more restrained than most people are used to. Don’t get me wrong, the action is very violent, Sorrentino goes deep with his art, using x-ray to show claws and bullets passing through its victims. In fact, I would say it can be too bloody at times, scenes in this issue should come with a mature reader warning. Yet Logan never goes full berserker, even when he’s lopping off heads, his mind is too occupied on pondering why this keeps happening to him. Rather than giving over to his killer instinct, he embraces it. I think Lemire is attempting to set up the theme of this book in this one issue. Does Logan court chaos or is it an inherent part of him? While I think this is a lot for one issue to establish, it is impressive that Lemire is posing these philosophical questions and trying to answer them.
Final Verdict: 7.9 – A gloriously drawn issue that establishes motivation for Old Man Logan. Both the character and the book.
Might Morphin’ Power Rangers: Pink #1
Written by Kelly Thompson and Brenden Fletcher
Illustrated by Daniele Di Nicuolo
Reviewed by Alice W. Castle
It’s so strange to me that in the year of our lord 2016, the Power Rangers comics from Boom! Studios are some of the most fun comics you could be reading right about now. That’s no different here, with this first issue of a four-issue miniseries focusing on the Pink Ranger.
Teaming writers Kelly Thompson and Brenden Fletcher with artist Daniele Di Nicuolo, this first issue is a mystery and an action-packed adventure that takes Kimberly to the heart of a small French town to tackle a number of disappearances all without the help of her morpher of her teammates. It’s an interesting dynamic because allows the creative team to showcase Kimberly as a character before slowly bringing in the Power Ranger elements that we know and love. Here, Kimberly is a gymnast first, a badass second and a Power Ranger last.
To top it all off, the artwork from Daniele Di Nicuolo is stunning. The loose lines of the characters meld with the break-neck action and the glorious, moody atmosphere of the French town to create a jaw-droppingly gorgeous book. It can be very easy to write off a Power Rangers book, but Di Nicuolo clearly brought everything he could to pages here and wasn’t afraid to take the goofiness of Power Rangers and imbue it with some seriousness that doesn’t sacrifice what we love about it.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – A seriously fantastic book that anyone could enjoy and that everyone should seek out.