Tag Archives: Issue Number

Comic Book Review – Aquaman #29

Aquaman_Vol_7_29

Context
Is the new creative team living in the shadow of Johns and Reis or are they finally picking up some steam of their own?

Story
I have been reading this title since its relaunch under the talented hands of Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis. Their work was spectacular even if the title seemed to suffer from some story drift (sorry for the pun) near the end of their run. When the title transitioned to Jeff Parker and Paul Pelletier I was excited. Two creators whose work I had enjoyed in the past will surely be able to continue this character’s upward momentum. Unfortunately I have been underwhelmed so far.

Jeff Parker’s writing seems confined and safe – something I have not noticed from him before. I don’t know if this is due to some editorial mandate or Parker’s own trepidation following the likes of Johns. The transition seemed smooth enough and Parker is for the most part not jettisoning the good things about the character’s revival. This issue’s story, however, will seem very familiar to any regular reader of the title. A nosy scientist betrays Aquaman and inadvertently opens a rift allowing monstrous creatures to threaten Atlantis and the surface world. We have been here before and fairly recently in fact.

What I am missing in particular is Parker’s humour. Even Johns injected a sense of self depreciation into the character. A fitting addition since Aquaman is usually the butt of jokes anyway. Parker is, after all, writing the terrific Batman ’66 title that oozes with self mocking. The end of this issue gave me a little hope. I am not terribly excited about the identity of the big bad since you know this is the classic misunderstood fight trope. I did particularly enjoy the winged serpentine woman and hope she will develop into a worthy adversary for Aquaman. Parker needs to be free to bring his style and energy to this title.

Art
Here again I feel like the current artist is trying to be too much like the previous fan favorite. Paul Pelletier’s art always looked like Alan Davis and John Byrne had a love child. He has smooth, sleek lines on solid, well positioned figures with expressive faces. You can see some of his style shine when the story stays in the slower parts of the book. Mera’s expression when she opens the door is particularly nice. Unfortunately, once the action starts, the pencils and colors remain in a singular style that makes my eye rush through the panels – nothing to see here just a smash fest.

In the major fight scene Pelletier struggles when the panel is filled with rubble and rough textures. It is hard to see where one monstrous creature ends and the next one begins. You have to work to differential between the different surface textures – even between a minotaur (hair), a cyclops (skin) and a crab monster (hard shell). I think this is made worse by a color palette that stays within a few shades of one tone throughout the battle. Norm Rapmund’s inks on the final page seem to clear up some of the clutter better than Parson’s do during the balance of the book.

Sometimes the artist’s figures can come off stiff while in action but then you get a shot like the serpentine woman beckoning the big bad through the portal – full of expression and emotion. I would like to see this creative team approach the story in such a way that will work with the artist’s strengths. I just don’t know if the art needs a better supporting cast or if Pelletier is just better suited to a book with a sleeker environment like Green Lantern or Superman.

What to look for
Is there enough here to believe that these talented creators are beginning to move in their own direction?

What might put you off
How long can we wait until these guys make this title their own?

Recommendation
Although I see a spark of hope here, I am getting a little tired of treading water (that pun was intended.) I am not too interested in seeing a poor man’s version of those who came before. I like these creators, just not what they have done together with this title.

Credits
Title Aquaman
Issue Number 29
Publisher DC

Release Date 3/26/2014
Writer Jeff Parker
Penciller Paul Pelletier
Inkers Sean Parsons and Norm Rapmund (pg.20)
Colorist Rain Beredo
Letterer Dezi Sienty
Editor Chris Conroy

Reviewed by Geoff Jolliff

Comic Book Review – Silver Surfer #1

SilverSurfer1


Context

A new take on Marvel’s iconic, cosmic philosopher – courtesy of Slott and the Allreds

Story
Every comic book story is a combination, in differing proportions, of words and art. Sometimes it’s a bad mix. Egos come into play and each creator fights to assert his or her own dominance on the project. Sometimes those fights produce masterpieces, other times the partnership falls apart and the work suffers. In this case it seems that Dan Slott is able to work well within the deliciously offbeat Allred universe.

The Silver Surfer is almost a religious figure at Marvel Comics. He has been used in years past to wrestle with all sorts of large philosophical questions. Dan Slott gets right to the point with the Surfer’s first scene. After saving the life of an entire planet, our hero rejects their adulation. “I deserve neither praise nor glory,” he thinks. Is the author telling us he intends to stay far away from this aspect of the character’s past or is this just a quick reminder of the nature of the Surfer’s personality and place in the universe?

The rest of the issue reads like a fun romp through an issue of Madman. Our journey includes strange environments, bizarre aliens and hipster girls that somehow reject and yet fit right in with the weird surroundings. It seems like Slott is having fun here. He is as much a tourist as his audience and his protagonist. Even so, the author is keeping us on course. I particularly enjoyed how he engineered the introduction of what will most likely be the Surfer’s new love interest. This first issue kept moving yet also stayed dedicated to careful story crafting.

Art
Michael Allred’s art seems like a perfect fit for the Silver Surfer’s universe. He has taken a decidedly Jack Kirby take on our hero while immersing him completely into a universe filled with Allred goodies. For those unfamiliar with his work, Allred uses an amazing combination of art deco, pop art and 50’s kitsch. The boundaries of his imagination seem set a little further out than most artists. That being said his work in this issue is a terrific mix of outlandish elements and classic comic book components.

The book’s art also delivers a few wow moments as well. The reveal of the Impericon on the middle splash page is something that I could look at forever. Allred also took a very unique turn at retelling the Surfer’s origin (of sorts) by having scenes from his past appear as reflections on his silvery skin.

Laura Allred’s colors amaze as well. She seems to having fun with the Silver Surfer’s classic blue highlights. She uses a pleasing mix of colored pencil effect that boarders at times on water colors when smoothed out. Even so, the Surfer retains his sleek appearance. I also liked how she worked from a complementary palate for each environment but still managed to appropriately adapt to each world. Dawn’s coastal home, for example, has its blues and beiges but also contains a fun pop of pink, yellow and red as needed.

What to look for
Dan Slott’s humor and storytelling mixed with the beautiful Allred art.

What might put you off
Some of Allred’s work may seem too weird or out there for fans of more traditional comic art

Recommendation
This is a must read. These creators are an excellent combination for this character who at times can come off stiff and unrelatable.

Credits
Title Silver Surfer
Issue Number 1
Publisher Marvel
Release Date 3/26/2014
Writer Dan Slott
Artist Michael Allred
Colorist Laura Allred
Letterer Clayton Cowles
Editor Tom Brevoort

Reviewed by Geoff Jolliff

Comic Book Review – Daredevil 1

JAN140630

Context
It’s the beginning of a bold new chapter for Daredevil…again.

Story

Ok so let’s address the obvious ridiculousness of having a new number one issue for a series that had a new number one issue a couple of years back. Then let’s consider how the new number one has the same art style and writer from the last number one issue. And finally let’s contemplate how this number one is just a continuation of the same storyline from the last relaunch. Do we all have that out of our systems yet? Good – ‘cause who cares?

Mark Waid’s writing comes from a place of love for the character and their place in their particular universe. His work on Wally West is the finest example of character development I have ever read in comics. I have thoroughly enjoyed his run on Daredevil and this issue is no exception. Matt Murdock’s path is not as clear as Wally’s. He does not have the burden of living in his legendary predecessor’s shadow, nothing so obvious. To me, Matt is looking to define his role in the world and perhaps even find a little happiness – something traditionally absent from a Daredevil title.

Waid manages to preserve the noir elements that work for Daredevil without keeping Matt Murdock in a depressed and neurotic state. I have a hard time connecting with a character that seemingly loves to wallow in the darkness. I understand how a character can lose everything and spiral into the depths of depression but it is much easier to connect to a character that knows the dangers of that path and struggles to come back into the light.

The only real change here is that Hornhead has moved to new digs in San Francisco. Being from Northern California, I can tell you that a roof swinging hero will have some serious issues getting around in this city. These aren’t the concrete and steel caverns of New York. True to form, Waid knows this and we see our character trying to overcome the new challenges that his environment is presenting.

Art
Chris Samnee is a member of a new comic book art movement if you will. This art is decidedly retro in nature with its influences in the works of Steve Ditko and Sal Buscema. This new “school” includes such artists as Gabriel Hardman, Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin. Even with the strong retro feel – the art never looks dated and each of these illustrators bring their individual, contemporary elements to their visuals.

Samnee’s style is clean and his line work is sleek. Gone are the scratchy inks and moody textures long associated with this title. His figures can exist both in a dark noir setting and in the light of day. The best visual addition to this title is the way in which DD’s heightened senses are depicted. I think this is something that will stay with the visual look for the title for years to come. Samnee’s work is a perfect match for path Waid has envisioned for Murdock.

The book’s color palate includes muted blues and an odd combination of Daredevil’s red and the pinks and fucias for his radar sense. These colors combine to create a world that is dark yet colorful at the same time. It is almost as if our own eyes were affected by that fateful barrel of chemicals – our own vision turned down ever so slightly as we watch the world of our blind hero.

What to look for
This is one of the best titles Marvel is producing today – purposeful, thoughtful writing combined with amazing, retro-styled art with a fresh and contemporary feel.

What might put you off

This is not your latest comic event slugfest. If that is more your speed you should look elsewhere.

Recommendation
This has been on my pull list since the first number one issue. I recommend it for anyone who is starting to feel a little lost in today’s comics continuity. No scratch that…everyone should be reading this.

Credits

Title Daredevil
Issue Number 1
Publisher Marvel
Release Date 3/19/2014
Writer Mark Waid
Artist Chris Samnee
Colorist Javier Rodriguez
Letterer Joe Caramanga
Editor Ellie Pyle

Reviewed by Geoff Jolliff

Comic Book Review – Nova #15

JAN140703

Context
Nova battles mercenary robots, avoids detention and reunites with Beta Ray Bill all in one issue!

Story
Stan Lee reputedly hates teen sidekicks. Bucky Barnes will attest to that. For this reason, the Marvel Universe never had a Teen Titans type book until a new wave of creators developed titles like the New Mutants and Young Avengers. Instead, Stan made the teenage sidekick the star of the show – see a little title called the Amazing Spider-man. Even though Peter Parker was the foundation of the Marvel Universe, teenage heroes rarely followed in Spidey’s webbed footsteps. The current version of Nova is a welcome addition to the teen hero model for Marvel.

This issue picks up in mid story arc with Nova, 15 year old Sam Alexander, trying to get to a slave trader named Skaarn (not to be confused with the Hulk offspring, Skaar). The characters he encounters in this issue are very imaginative and I really like them individually. Cosmo the talking, psychic watchdog and a trio of mercenary robots are particular stand outs. I absolutely love it when robots speak in a human way. These guys all had personality and humor while being a legit threat to our young hero.

The big bad (Skaarn) did not get much “screen time” so he did not blow me away. His background was perhaps fleshed out in a prior issue. I was also a little confused as to the power set involved with being a Nova. I admit I haven’t read much about the Nova Corps. As expected, the teen hero uses his abilities by instinct and achieves victories by almost pure luck so, perhaps as a reader, I can fumble along with the main character. The sudden return to high school life was a very cool idea at first but in the end it really derailed the momentum the issue had. Nothing terribly wrong here with Duggan’s work and I love the fast pace but I think a little more detail and depth would take this story to the next level.

Art
The art is the star of the show for me. David Baldeon’s pencils are clearly manga infused but he adds in comic book solidity and a depth of detail that make the figures look less cartoony. He easily moves from bug eyed aliens, to animals, to teenagers, to adults, to robots all the while bringing individuality and distinctiveness to each character. Nova’s emotional ride during the battle is well portrayed in the character’s positioning and facial expressions. He can confidently attack or lash out by instinct and you know exactly how well the battle is going at that moment.

Terry Pallot’s inks are a great compliment here from the classic dark navy blacks on Nova’s uniform to the singular but detailed line work throughout the different environments contained in Knowhere. The colors do a good job in addressing all of the different alien components while helping Nova to stand apart from this world by staying true to his primary color togs. The computerized effects are used sparingly and when needed without being a distraction.

In all, I am very interested to watch the development of this art. Although I have nothing against manga style comic book art, I think Baldeon is well on his way to creating something unique here. He shows a good blend of artistic elements and I want to see what he will throw into the mix next!

What to look for
I am interested to see if the big bad is a worthy villain or just another puffed up Mongul/Thanos/Darkseid wannabe. I also can’t wait to see Beta Ray Bill in action. All this plus more Baldeon art.

What might put you off
The breakneck pace may make you long for more character development.

Recommendation
This title wasn’t on my pull list but I will definitely be adding it. The art alone is worth the risk of the title being a little shallow. My bet is that this issue was built to be fast and furious and I will get the depth I need in future issues.

Credits

Title Nova
Issue Number
15
Publisher
Marvel
Release Date
3/19/2014
Writer
Gerry Duggan
Pencils
David Baldeon
Inks
Terry Pallot
Colorist
David Curiel
Letterer
Albert Deschesne
Editor
Ellie Pyle
Reviewed by Geoff Jolliff

Comic Book Review – New Mutants #1

Context
The original X-Men “spin-off” team reunites!

Story
Age is always a tricky thing in comic books.  When characters age, they run the risk of growing outside of their originally intended purpose.  The New Mutants were created by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod in 1982.  The X-Men were teenagers originally and Professor X was their teacher and father figure.  As the X-Men grew up, their relationship with the school and its headmaster changed.  The conceptual push of the New Mutants was to give the professor a new team to instruct.

Here we are over twenty years later and the New Mutants have aged about ten years.  They are older than kids but not quite responsible adults yet.  There are a few promises of greatness within the narrative here.  Zeb Wells (Snake Woman, Venom: Dark Origin) does an excellent job of setting the hook and introducing his characters.  Things tend to stall then over the middle portion of the issue but the end contains some genuine edge.  The dialogue is a little stiff in spots and comes off a little cliché at times.  I think Wells is searching for focus.  Somehow, I like the issue better after looking back over it, than during my initial read.

My biggest gripe with the story however may not be Wells’ doing.  After reading x-infernus, I was more than a little annoyed to find that end of that limited series did not match up well with the start of this series.  Perhaps some of this was dealt with in another X-title but I have no idea where.  Characters were not even in the same dimensions at the start of this book and all we got were a few throw away lines to explain the differences (and sometimes nothing at all!)  Poor execution on this point considering how shoehorned the end of x-infernous felt.

Art
Diogenes Neves’ pencils show fantastic promise.  Like the story, there are points of greatness and potential.  The difference is that the art starts off incredibly strong and then slowly fades to just pretty good.  The opening sequence and the arrival of Magik are well paced and detailed.  Neves’ layouts run a little stiff but there are times when his body positioning is inspired.  His strong points are hair and when the New Mutants are in uniform.  He struggles a little with technology and regular clothes at times.

I am looking forward to seeing if a more consistent effort is possible.  If he fades like this after one issue, I wonder how long it will be before we see a fill in artist.

What to look for
The reveal of the New Mutants in uniform was awesome – they reminded me of X-Factor from the 80’s

What might put you off
The rough spots in story and art but there is promise here – the book also does not match up well with the end of x-inferous

Recommendation
After my initial read I was not going to recommend this book but after looking back through it, the promise may overcome my hesitation.  This is no home run like Agents of Atlas but the creative team may be able to grow along with the title.

Credits

Title New Mutants
Issue Number 1
Publisher Marvel
Release Date 5/6/2009
Writer Zeb Wells
Pencils Diogenes Neves
Inks Cam Smith with Ed Tadeo
Colorist John Rauch
Letterer Joe Caramanga
Editor Nick Lowe
Reviewed by Geoff Jolliff