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.
Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake: Card Wars #1
Written by Jen Wang
Illustrated by Britt Wilson
Review by Ken Godberson III
Bit of a disclaimer: I have watched about… three minutes of Adventure Time so, apart from some basic research on the whole “Fionna & Cake” concept (basically gender-bent versions of protagonists Finn and Jake). Lucky thing about this issue: It’s not really about the show. It’s about how gatekeeping is awful!
As someone that is a fan of comics, games, movies, e.t.c., I am familiar with the gatekeeping and policing of people’s (most usually women) hobbies and fandoms. It’s resentful and Wang shows how hurtful it is to happen to a person when Cake is not allowed in the local Card Wars club, despite being really good. The use of such excuses to exclude such as “You can’t be good since we’ve never heard of you” or “It’s so embarrassing when people try so hard” are common examples of this gatekeeping and it makes the comic more impactful.
Britt Wilson does a very good job of capturing the animation style of the show, based on clips I’ve watched. The art really excels when Cake attempts to shapeshift to make herself look like the slugs in the club (another metaphor of unfortunate gatekeeping; new people trying to act like the included people instead of themselves) and when it expresses the hurt feelings Cake has from rejection. Wilson also makes a use of onomatopoeia to great effect within her drawings (such as one of the slugs blowing a raspberry at Cake’s shapeshifting).
Final Verdict: 7.6- Wang and Wilson use the backdrop of the show to tell a very important story.
“Ant-Man Annual” #1
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Ramon Rosanas & Brent Schnoonover
Reviewed by Stephenson Ardern-Sodje
Nick Spencer has been doing a pretty solid job helming the most recent, Scott Lang-fronted ‘Ant-Man’. His wholesome, self-aware and self-referential tone has been a pretty welcome addition to what could have easily felt like a shameless plug for Marvel’s latest cinematic outing, and the book does a pretty decent job of introducing the character to both the uninitiated and balancing his powers against those of the other Avengers.
‘Ant-Man Annual’ picks up with Scott watching from a safe distance as Hank Pym battles against his own demented creation in ‘Rage of Ultron’, sending him into a nostalgic musing about the last, semi-secret mission he and Hank ran together.
While a little hammy and expositional at times, this issue reads as a pretty solid addition to the Ant-Man series. It’s light and leans heavily on comedy, with the focus being mainly on ridiculing a member of Hank’s early rogue gallery who has reemerged to challenge him again. Spencer’s tone is pitch perfect, the banter between the two Ant-Men, and the anachronistic ranting of their shared foe, flows effortlessly, while never feeling too earnest.
Both Rosanas and Schoonover offer up strong, if relatively straightforward, offerings in the art department. Schoonover in particular, handling the flashback element of the book, manages to strike a nice balance between a modern and a more classical style. Some of his more detailed expressions come off a little goofy, but his execution of physical movement (and there’s a lot of it in this issue) is confident and smooth.
A particular flourish is Schoonover’s realisation of an unexpected incarnation of the Golden Era Avengers. Suitably dated, they none-the less look fierce when they get going, and Schoonover has clearly spent time studying his classics, as everything from their melodramatic faces to their exaggerated gestures smacks of a well educated homage.
But the truly important aspect of this issue comes in the form of Raz Malhotra. Initially introduced as an Everyman/comedic foil for the villain’s more vile monologuing, the final pages see Hank offering Raz a more permanent position both in his comic and the All-New, All-Different Marvel universe. His inclusion feels a little shoe-horned, but I imagine he’ll be expanded on in ‘The Last Days Of Ant-Man’ and maybe given more room to breathe in a story that is less Scott’s solo outing and more an ensemble piece.Continued below
Final Verdict: 6.9 – Fun and fully realised, if a little fluffy. One to watch post Secret Wars, if only for the controversy.
Doctor Fate #2
Written by Paul Levitz
Illustrated by Sonny Liew
Reviewed by Jess Camacho
“Doctor Fate” #1 was a very solid introduction to a new superhero for a new generation. Khalid is a young, soon to be medical student who gets thrust into the world of superheroes. “Doctor Fate” #2 is more of this. Khalid is able to make his way back home but he’ still not rid of his new fate. The helmet keep speaking to him and because he’s someone with a more scientific brain, he can’t really grasp what’s happening. However, Levitz doesn’t make Khalid come off stupid and he does what needs to be done. He’s able to get his father to the hospital and he’s able to realize that he’s going to need to help the world through this flood. Levitz is taking a very simple approach with the character and while that’s great for newer comic readers it does make things feel a bit slow. The first issue and this one could have really been combined into one but Khalid is so likable that it’s tough to get down on this series.
Sonny Liew’s artwork is so much fun and really unlike anything else being featured in DC Comics right now. It’s full of so much life and has a certain cartoon like quality about it. Liew has a fun style but doesn’t skip out on any important or impressive details. There are some great splash pages with lots of cool, ancient Egyptian imagery. Khalid’s facial expressions are always very good and his bewilderment is totally believable.
Final Verdict: 7.0 – A fine issue but I’d like to see things pick up just a bit more.
Green Lantern: The Lost Army #2
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Jesus Saiz
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
Just a few years ago, there were more Lantern books than we knew what to do with – now, down to just three (“Green Lantern,” “Sinestro,” and this), this book becomes the repository for every ring slinger that isn’t Hal or Sinestro (or, I guess, Kyle over in “The Omega Men”). Because of that, the book feels a little jumbled in places – you want more explanation of Krona’s presence, or understanding of Guy’s duel rings, or even a better introduction to some of the lesser Lanterns for those of us who fell off “Green Lantern Corps” at the end of the run. Plus, this issue alone brings back an old foe, which is the glyph to understanding the place where the Lanterns are lost in the first place. The point is, there is a lot here, and not all of it works as well as it could.
But, if you can get past the scattershot element of the book, there’s a lot of fun to be had here. The Corps have always been a team book unlike any other, and Bunn seems to have a nice take on all of the characters present, but his Stewart is, like Van Jensen’s and Peter Tomasi’s before him, doubling down on the military side of John. This works in a book like this, where he is essentially leading a battalion through enemy territory. That said, I wouldn’t mind his architect side getting more acknowledgement, especially in his constructs.
Jesus Saiz continues to be one of the more underrated artist in DC’s stable, and his work here is clean and impressive. His constructs, as well as the flight of the Lanterns, really embrace the fact that they’re made of light, and so have an ephemeral quality that many other artists don’t give. There is a sequence where Guy creates a huge truck, and we see it begin to seep into the ether after it is used, which makes a really effective image. Saiz also colors the book himself, making the art truly a coherent and stunning visual presentation.
Final Verdict: 7.1 – A book that is still finding its footing, but is showing signs of real promise.Continued below
Written and Illustrated by Zander Cannon
Reviewed by Matthew Garcia
There’s a moment in “Kaijumax” #4 where one of the guards leers down on some of the monster prisoners and says, “You keep talkin’ radiation like that, it’s gonna get real around here, real fast.” And that’s the direction this issue turns. Zander Cannon’s performing a delicate balancing act with this series, mixing the monster island and maximum security prison conventions together to create this bizarre and engaging story. For the most part, the series has been a lot of fun, with clever monster designs vibrant art, and an assured script (and that’s certainly true for this issue, too); Cannon’s played this book straight, which I think has helped him get away with plenty of ridiculous beats and prevented the whole thing from divulging into outright parody. It might be goofy, big, and ridiculous, but with this issue, Cannon reminds us that this is still a prison story.
“Kaijumax” #4 is maybe the darkest this series has been, and it’s probably only the tipping point for the rest of the arc. It opens with Electrogor attacked (and raped) in the waterfall showers; another character ODs; and another character gradually starts coming undone from the pressure of his job. Each of these moments are shocking and brutal, but looking back on the characters’ actions and choices from previous installments, it’s also inevitable, which to me makes it all the more painful to watch. I think Cannon’s wise to have this major tonal shift occur in the opening pages, and it leaves a feeling of discomfort and unease over the rest of the book, rather than sucking us out of the story if it had just been an awkward twist.
This is a meaty series, and each issue is packed with plenty of story and action. The artwork remains loose and expressive, with heavy lines and slightly distorted shapes. Cannon’s best at giving all this characters — monsters, humans, humans parading around as monsters — distinct and precise expressions and you can feel Electrogor’s pain, Gupta’s panic, and Whoofy’s temptation. The narrative is sprawling, and it’s only now, I think, that we’re starting to see some sort of connective tissue.
It’s doubtful everything will end well for all these characters, but it’s also like, did we ever really expect it to?
Final Verdict: 7.3 – a dark, unsettling issue that reminds us that even though it’s monster prison, it’s still prison.
Written by Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Mike Norton
Reviewed by Michelle White
I gotta be honest – I caught up on more than a year’s worth of “Revival” back-issues in order to review this one. This reflects more on my habits as a reader (i.e., crappy) than the quality of the series; if the compulsive reading session that took over my day says anything, it’s that this rural noir continues to be a thrilling ride.
We’re getting into the sixth volume, and everyone’s favourite Limp Bizkit fan, Blaine – now at the head of some local militants – has murdered the one character that was getting to the bottom of things. Em’s hungry for his blood, but Dana’s also hot on his trail. It’s a tense moment for the family that stands at the core of this series, with the last page setting Dana and Em’s conflicting interests into relief.
Meanwhile, Mike Norton’s art is looking sharp and fresh, with Mark Englert’s bright colouring work setting the issue apart from the murky usual. This issue isn’t a moment for subtlety – not when Em’s on a rampage – and Norton’s work is appropriately dialed up, with Em’s bloodier grimaces played over-the-top. But the best page is likely the glimpse into the mind of what has been, for the most part, a minor character. In a fan of gold-toned panels, the moments that have distinguished this character’s life add up to something poetic. Plus, on the level of story, the accompanying revelation opens a lot of interesting new avenues.
Taken on its own, this isn’t an exceptional issue, but “Revival” isn’t a single-issue-oriented series to begin with. The arc is what matters in a character-driven story like this, and the shifting circumstances in Wassau continue to turn up opportunities for character development as well as fresh scares.Continued below
Final Verdict: 7.5 – Consistently surprising, if that’s not an oxymoron.
Superman/Wonder Woman #19
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Illustrated by Doug Mahnke
Reviewed by Keith Dooley
The Suicide Squad go up against the deity that is Wonder Woman and a de-powered Superman in the action packed “Superman/Wonder Woman” #19. Peter J. Tomasi has a fun time writing the interaction between villains and heroes, yet very little regarding plot happens in this issue. The warmth and devotion between Clark and Diana is clearly on display in their single action-free exchange. Clark’s new status quo is ripe for interesting relationship dynamics in his current titles and the one between him and his amour is no exception. Tomasi keeps the issue’s pace at a quick clip and ends on a cliffhanger that makes perfect sense while enticing us to come back for a meeting of two powerful individuals.
Doug Mahnke’s art is suitably epic in the first section of the issue and is particularly effective in a graveyard-set splash page. Wil Quintana’s colors accentuate this moment and the entirety of “Superman/Wonder Woman” #19. Both pencils and colors contain a sense of realism in an issue of a superhero story that is rife with melodrama. Although not much happens in Tomasi’s script, we get a tease of a future enemy and a possible ally. Mahnke, inker Jaime Mendoza, and Quintana work seamlessly together and have created a very attractive issue despite the addition of a very distractingly unattractive Wonder Woman costume.
Final Verdict: 6.9 – Not much happens in “Superman/Wonder Woman” #19 despite being an entertaining issue.