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.
Ivar, Timewalker #12
Written by Fred Van Lente
Illustrated by Pere Perez
Review by Ken Godberson III
This is it. Time runs out for everyone, including the Forever Walker. Fred Van Lente puts an end to his tenure with Ivar Anni-Padda and Dr. Neela Sethi in a heartfelt, if a little confusing way. I need to get something out of the way: Those of you who don’t know, I also reviewed this season of Doctor Who for the site and did not like the ending to this season. I say this, because the conclusion to “Hell Bent” and the conclusion to “Ivar, Timewalker” actually have a lot of similarities. And yet, I really dug how the conclusion was reached. A great chunk of this had to do with Fred Van Lente’s great characterization and development of Ivar and Neela over the last year, whereas I thought Clara’s characterization on Doctor Who was scattering. This issue cemented something I talked about: Time Travel was just a backdrop to tell a human story. “Hell Bent” tried to use time travel to be clever. That’s not to say this issue didn’t have some problems for me on the time travel spot: the reasoning behind Neela’s revival and her and Ivar separating feels contrived. Then again, this series didn’t spend an issue dealing with consequences before smashing the “reset” button and negating them.
Pere Perez and Andrew Dalhouse’s smooth artwork does a great job to sell the incredibly bittersweet moments peppered throughout the issue. Neela crying about how time travel sucks while hugging herself is such a powerful moment as the Despair Event Horizon is reached as well as Ivar’s eventual capture (resulting in a nice connection to Van Lente’s “Archer & Armstrong” series). They also don’t cut corners on the action as the fight takes place throughout all of time, transitioning well from prehistory to the distant future with ease. And those final images, as the torch is passed on with a wonderful call back to the rest of the series is simply astonishing.
I had hesitated to review this because of my aforementioned disdain for the similar “Hell Bent”, but in the end, they may have had similarities, but “Ivar, Timewalker” did better this year than Doctor Who. It was my favorite time travel story this year and I am sad to see it go.
Final Verdict: 8.5- Some confusing time travel contrivances slightly take away from the very human moments. Grab this series in its completed collection
Written by Holly Black
Illustrated by Lee Garbett and Antonio Fabela
Reviewed by Matthew Garcia
With the new TV show coming out, and the current penchant for reviving older properties, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the DC/Vertigo version of Lucifer has returned to comic stands. That it would be written by someone who clearly loved the earlier series and who strives to carve something of her own out of the material is a stroke of luck for old Morningstar. Holly Black and Lee Garbett take over from Mike Carey and Peter Gross and together they create a world that’s plenty interesting, even if the plot itself sort of isn’t.
Lucifer returns to Los Angeles (because puns) with a gaping hole in his side and a desire to get to his club and get a drink. Meanwhile, a squadron of angels have approached the cast-off and banished Gabriel, living in squalor, to help them investigate the murder of their father.
Black packs a lot of information into this first issue, never settling on anything in particular, so it feels like it’s a teaser for the rest of the series. Garbett toys with some of the old school compositions (panels stacked on panels, characters busting out of the frames, hugely distorted angles), but he keeps the action clear and maintains a strong control over build-up and payoff.Continued below
Not a lot happens in the plot, but the book does not come off unsatisfying or lacking content. Black and Garbett move the story along briskly, clearly having fun reintroducing all these characters and settings; it’s their collective voice that helps make this book interesting, which I think is what you have to do when dealing with characters who have a long standing legacy and probably not a lot of room to grow.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – Nothing in the plot feels new, but Holly Black and Lee Garbett’s voice and direction help make it an interesting and fun read.
Squadron Supreme #1
Written by James Robinson
Illustrated by Leonard Kirk
Reviewed by Brian Salvatore
Robinson and Kirk have reunited post-“Fantastic Four” to tell a story about revenge and fear, set in the brave new world of the “All New, All Different” Marvel. They’ve gathered five heroes from destroyed Earths/universes, and set them as the black ops of the Marvel Universe, taking out the truly dangerous threats with impunity. In this issue, they set their sights on Namor, and attempt to make him pay for his many, many crimes against Earth.
Kirk does exceptional work here, taking heroes from different realities and giving them a visual coherence, while still keeping each hero’s look unique to their native world. Sure, Nighthawk looks like he’s a part of the Court of Owls, but Kirk handles the character work – as well as the action – with aplomb. He never gets spoken about with the pantheon of great artists of his generation, and that’s a damn shame. His expressiveness and intensity is second to none.
And, of course, Robinson indulges some of his Golden Age love with a surprising supporting character who shows up in the final pages. Robinson, as always, is able to filter current events – both in the real world and the 616 – through his love of comics throughout the past 70 years, and makes the stories both classic and contemporary.
Final Verdict: 8.7 – A great debut issue that plants lots of interesting seeds for future issues to reap.
Star Trek: Starfleet Academy #1
Written by Mike Johnson & Ryan Parrott
Illustrated by Derek Charm
Review by Stephenson Ardern-Sodje
TV and film tie-ins are always a tricky business. There’s a fine line that needs to be walked between offering true fans some extra illumination on what their favourite characters have been doing since their last big-screen exploits and making sure that you don’t leave more casual franchise-viewers feeling like they’ve missed some big plot points by the time the next instalment rolls around.
This five part mini series is woven in somewhat nebulously between Kirk and Ahura’s registration to Starfleet (the first act of the 2009 reboot) and their assignation to the Enterprise. It focusses on a new group of cadets with very recognisable traits (the stiff, conflicted vulcan, the hotheaded wannabe leader, and the reluctant peacekeeper to name a few) and quickly throws them into an inter-divisional competition that feels like a mix between an army/navy sports event and the tri-wizard tournament. The scripting is fun, fluid, and very much in keeping with the banter-heavy back and forth fans of the rebooted series will be familiar with. This issue jumps back and forth through time in a bit of a confusing way, but it’s all in the name of concentrating four years of Starfleet studying and character development into twenty-something pages, and by the end of the issue you should feel properly chronologically caught up. There’s definitely an air of teenage emotion to this script, and I couldn’t help thinking of a futuristic Xavier’s school for Gifted Youngsters as I read the classroom scenes and slightly soap-opera-esque relationship drama.
Charm’s artwork is slick, futuristic and poppy, every bit as crisp and colourful as the latest trailer for Beyond seems to be. He manages to capture Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana’s likenesses perfectly, while peppering the background of his scenes with a great mix of humanoid aliens that feel like a throwback to the limited but inventive practical effects of the classic show (when in doubt, put some ruffles on their foreheads and call them another species). There’s a certain rigidity to some of his fuller body panels, but that could be because the majority of the set-pieces in this issue are conversations or presentations. That being said, Charm manages to inject some real personality into these scenes through subtle facial expressions that manage to feel both realistic and exaggerated enough to play off some really light and humorous moments.Continued below
While slotting a new section of story into the middle of an already existing universe means that there’s little chance this arc will have a huge effect on the Star Trek continuity at large, it’s nice to get a chance to flesh out the seemingly utopian world of Starfleet, and spend some more time with the franchise’s charismatic characters, as well as some all new players.
Final Verdict: 7.2- If you’re all hyped on Star Wars sci-fi fun, check out this series to keep your head in the clouds.