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Wrapping Wednesday: Micro Reviews for the Week of 11/11/2020

By | November 16th, 2020
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

There’s 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.

Marauders #15
Written by Gerry Duggan & Benjamin Percy
Illustrated by Stefano Caselli
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Colored by Edgar Delgado
Reviewed by Michael Govan

Fourteen chapters into the twenty-two part crossover ‘X of Swords’ and…well, we’re still not quite at the sword-fighting. Don’t worry though! After last issue’s explosive ending, we’re treated to…well, more dinner. As it turns out, stabbing the sorceress who watches over the entire multiverse is not an effective tactic.


As a warning, Saturnyne shows Wolverine the dark future awaiting Krakoa if they lose. Again, she shows HIM. Readers are shown two short pages of it and a data page summarizing a story that would have been so much more interesting than this issue. I’ve noted this before and it detracts from the comic every time, but Percy has a bad habit of using data pages to sum up events that would be so much cooler to see on the page. Very irritating.

The rest of the dinner is pretty uneventful. We learn a bit more about Arakkii swordbearers like Isca the Unbeaten or the White Sword. There are some awkward moments, Death kills a guy, they eat a unicorn. Again, not all that much to report from “Marauders” #15, at least on the story side of things. Caselli’s artwork is great and he gives the characters so much personality. An angry Wolverine is practically feral, frustrated with the tournament. Isca the Unbeaten is the definition of cool, formidable while being totally relaxed. Cable is a wide-eyed and curious teenager who probably has no business being on the frontlines like this. Colorist Edgar Delgado makes sure that the whole thing is a vibrant affair, each character colorful and unique.

In the larger context of ‘X of Swords’, I would consider this a weaker comic. It feels like a so-so filler issue, to be perfectly honest. We learn some small character bits here or there but was a two-part dinner interlude really necessary? “Marauders” #15 tone is even more jarring. By itself, a more comedic comic would be no problem, but that isn’t the tone that’s been set in this crossover. Prior issues have been epic, dramatic, tragic…take Apocalypse and Genesis for example. Apocalypse has been betrayed by his children, learned his wife was his enemy…and now they’re exchanging quips at the dinner table? Overall, not an awful issue but if they left it on the cutting room floor, I wouldn’t be torn up about it.

Final Verdict: 6.0 – For the fourth ‘X of Swords’ issue in a row, the swords stay in their sheaths.

Miskatonic #1
Written by Mark Sable
Illustrated by Giorgio Pontrelli
Colored by Pippa Bowland
Lettered by Thomas Mauer
Reviewed by Kobi Bordoley

“Miskatonic” #1 follows FBI agent Miranda Keller as she navigates the shadows of Innsmouth and the reality of being a female investigator during the early 20th century. She’s joined by rough and tumble retired police detective Tom Malone, an everyman with a complicated past. As in any homage to Lovecraft, the story’s full of esotericism, easter eggs for the observant, and a whole lot of fish people. “Miskatonic” #1 keeps things simple, and in doing so delivers an enjoyable if not also an overly dynamic story.

At this point in history, most fans of HP Lovecraft have to balance two things: admiration for his worldbuilding and genre-defining aesthetics, and his reprehensible, overt racism and xenophobia. To Sable’s credit, he and the team lean into this discomfort. Themes of social unrest permeate “Miskatonic” #1, and while it’s unclear how these topics will come to a head, what we see so far is promising.

“Miskatonic” #1 flows well. The plot never feels stagnant, and the quick pace is always matched by punchy dialogue. There’s a mix of action and mysticism that make “Miskatonic” fun to read in that B horror movie kind of way. However, while the dialogue has character, the characters themselves are a little lacking. So far, Keller and Malone feel archetypal, with few defining features to set them apart from any noir thriller protagonists. There’s still time for the story to develop, of course, but “Miskatonic” #1 is best enjoyed for its campy but deft plotlines (anarchist bombings featuring cults? We’re interested) and less for its commentary on the human psyche. Pontrelli’s art is also simple and to the point, making use of bold shapes and clear images that help add to the quick pace of the story. In terms of the characters, however, there’s not much. Neither Keller nor Malone looks bad, rather, their expressions feel a little ubiquitous. “Miskatonic” #1 is certainly streamlined, and while this makes for a quick, easy, and enjoyable reading experience, the story inhabitants feel a little bare-bones, at least for now.

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Final Verdict: 7.2. “Miskatonic” #1 leans heavily into Lovecraftian themes to great effect and does well by updating the content for the 21st century — even if the characters feel a little one dimensional.

Taskmaster #1
Written by Jed MacKay
Illustrated by Alessandro Vitti
Colored by Guru-eFX
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Reviewed by Luke Cornelius

For a series intended to launch alongside Black Widow, “Taskmaster” #1 stands strong on its own. In fact, released in isolation from the film, it never has to shrug off the potentially overbearing nature of the character’s cinematic counterpart and is all the better for it.

Opening with a monologue of the various jobs Taskmaster is hired for, we see Maria Hill’s home ransacked, with the bloodied hand of the victim on the ground, before cutting to a Maggia charity golf tournament. There’s a great juxtaposition between the gloomy murder scene and Taskmaster’s pleading monologue, which posits golf as the “lowest of the low” jobs after the murder, that primes the reader for the rest of the comic. It makes it abundantly clear that “Taskmaster” #1 is not a deadly serious crime thriller.

From this point onwards, MacKay’s script goes from strength to strength, writing a not-very-high-speed chase across a golf course that is interrupted by Taskmaster’s Dolly Parton ringtone and later delivering a long humor-filled conversation between Taskmaster and Nick Fury. MacKay’s dialogue in the issue brings the characters to life, with their exchanges progressing smoothly without hindering their voices. Samuel L. Jackson’s version of Fury is definitely heard here, but that’s not a bad thing, given how entertainingly his attitude plays off against Taskmaster’s.

Alessandro Vitti’s artwork throughout the book is equally as fun, giving the golf course chase swathes of energy and drama through his panel positioning. During the chase, Taskmaster utilizes Ghost Rider’s driving skills, which Vitti indicates by overlaying a small panel of Ghost Rider on Taskmaster. It’s a minor moment in the script, but Vitti’s visualization of the moment really stands out. He also does a great job of utilizing Taskmaster’s eyes to convey his emotions, highlighted by one of the issue’s funniest moments with a very shocked expression. In the color department, Guru-eFX doesn’t get to be too dramatic but does a good job of subtly shifting the atmosphere when required. Likewise, VC’s Joe Caramagna’s lettering ensures that the issue is a very comfortable read.

The weakest element of “Taskmaster” #1 is the downplaying of the central mystery, which, even in the final pages, seems to only be a plot device for more imitation shenanigans, though, given how entertaining this debut is, it is easily forgiven.

Final Verdict: 7.7 – “Taskmaster” #1 is a series debut that lacks stakes in its central mystery but makes up for it with humor and energy in abundance.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #111
Written by Sophie Campbell
Penciled by Jodi Nishijimi
Inked by Jodi Nishijimi
Colored by Ronda Pattison
Lettered by Shawn Lee
Reviewed by Jason Karlson

Through a combination of moral outrage over the word “ninja” and the fact that the trading cards had strips of bubblegum in them, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles was always a property I was generally steered away from. I was never exposed to the cartoon and generally had zero nostalgia or interest for the sewer-dwelling reptiles. I don’t mention this to drum up sympathy or get some catharsis but to drive home just how good a series IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is that I’m over one hundred issues deep into a franchise I had no interest in before now. Even with that many issues, the title continues to be exciting and inventive for new and old fans alike.

Ten issues into her run and Sophie Cambell has the turtles firmly entrenched in their new lives in Mutant Town, a quarantined neighborhood on Manhattan’s East Side built to house the sudden rise in the mutant population, having to work together to try and build something and function as a larger community. Although this arc has so far seen the turtles building lives and discovering themselves beyond fighting, this issue does plunge them back into the action as they defend their new home from Hob’s spies in classic ninja fashion. With stealth and silence being the key to the Ninja’s plans, Jodi Nishijimi’s art expertly paces the action and ramps up the suspense, capturing the sudden moments of action and an almost eerie silence as fear begins to overcome the intruders.

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Campbell’s writing is extraordinary when stepping away from the action and giving us intense personal moments with the extensive cast of the comic. In this issue she gives us the very emotionally raw exchange Mona has with her parents, revealing herself on a video call to explain that she is a mutant. Justifiably distraught at their disgust and rejection she subsequently finds some support and solace with fellow mutant Sally.

Final Verdict: A series that continues to stun with new and inventive twists that has something for old and new fans alike that has a real heart to it.

Terminal Punks #1
Written by Matthew Erman
Illustrated by Shelby Criswell
Lettered by Micah Meyers
Reviewed by Matthew Blair

“Terminal Punks” #1 follows a newly formed punk band as they attempt to flee a government quarantine effort to contain a small army of incredibly dangerous animals who have been let loose in a New York airport terminal.

Strangely enough, the animals are actually real and not overly aggressive TSA agents.

The two most fascinating things about the writing in “Terminal Punks” #1 are just how dense the story is and how much personality writer Matthew Erman manages to cram into the book. The stars of the show are the bandmates, and Erman does a great job putting the fears and desires of each member on full display and making the audience want to root for these kids who are very clearly in over their heads. On top of that, Erman does a great job of showing a disaster unfolding on the ground level, dedicating a solid amount of time to having supporting characters complain about how their richer and more powerful higher-ups are screwing things up and making life difficult.

At first glance, Shelby Criswell’s hand-drawn comix style may not seem like the best artwork for a story like “Terminal Punks” #1, but it’s an interesting choice that adds a lot of flavor to the story. Criswell plays fast and loose with proportion, perspective, and motion which gives the whole book a very punk rock, DIY aesthetic that feels like what would happen if Herge drew modern-day zines. Funnily enough, Criswell’s style is excellent at portraying gore, which is portrayed with enough detail to make even the most jaded gorehound happy.

While the bright, quirky, and rough aesthetic of “Terminal Punks” #1 might seem more at home in a children’s book, once you get past it there’s a solid, effective, and incredibly violent horror story that is engaging and interesting to look at.

Final Verdict: 8.2 – If you like the idea of DIY punk rock horror, then this is the book for you.

We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #3
Written by Al Ewing
Illustrated by Simone Di Meo and Mariasara Miotti
Lettered by AndWorld Design
Reviewed by Quinn Tassin

WOW. “We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #3” is kind of a revelation. It’s not that this hadn’t been a wildly creative, gripping, bold comic book already but the third issue really crank things up to a level that we hadn’t seen yet. Al Ewing throws the crew of the Vihaan II into an impossible situation: be caught by the mysterious and very sinister-looking Officer Richter, or run their ship ragged in pursuit of a living god that may or may not exist. The result is a pulse-pounding cat and mouse story that is at once simple in structure and full in content. Captain Malik is a fascinating character, a clearly smart tactician whose tunnel vision may betray his aptitude. He pulls out all the stops against Richter while attempting to find this god and reading it, you can’t help but feel like a member of his crew- placing a wary trust that he’s leading things in the right direction.

“We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #3” lives and dies by Simone Di Meo’s art (and Mariasara Miotti’s color assists) and he more than delivers. Especially in an issue like this one, which relies on being able to present one event over the course of 24 pages in an engaging, creative way, the visual presentation is absolutely spectacular. Every Di Meo page layout is like a snowflake- unique in structure but familiar in the ways that count. Di Meo’s pacing is pitch-perfect; it slows down and zooms in the right moments but there’s never even a hint that momentum has been lost. The artistic highlights of the issue are very clearly the double-page spreads of the gods which are rendered in a way that makes their magnetic majesty undeniable. Those last three pages of the issue, too, feel perfect. They’re relentless and gorgeous and absolutely get you hooked and waiting for the next issue.

“We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #3” is great in such a clear way that it feels almost impossible to articulate what’s so good about it. It’s brimming with energy, gorgeous, and keeps you firmly invested in the crew of the Vihaan II. Read this comic, folks. You’re missing out on something magic if you don’t.

Final Verdict: 8.8 – “We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #3” is a cinematic, supremely creative thrill ride of a comic.

//TAGS | Wrapping Wednesday

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