It’s the surprise of the upcoming week that makes me look forward to a good comic-reading binge. After all, I had a pretty good idea of which comic I was going to enjoy the most, but the one I wound up picking as my top choice for this week not only shocked me into a ready state of disbelief but also gave me an appreciation for the way its publishing house is finding new ways to apply its talent and reinvent the wheel on a near weekly basis.
Oh, forget my philosophical waxing … let’s just get to this week’s list!
I had a hard time really liking this, but not because of any fault of its structure, but from a “it’s been done” perspective, so it wasn’t much of a surprise to see how writer, Paul Allor would handle the transition. Of course, I’m referring to the 1980’s film that starred Tim Curry. Not to say that this comic was written poorly – far from it – in fact, I’d have to venture that Allor’s greatest strength is dialogue. It was witty, filled with banter and was funny.
The way he uses his narrator, Upton the Butler, to break the fourth wall and to speak directly to the audience was quite entertaining and marked a difference between the comic and the film. It was also quite humorous.
But my problem in enjoying this book fully was its predictability. It was somewhat difficult turning the page because I knew what was going to happen, to a limited extent. The only other variation was the twist on the playing pieces – Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum and so forth. Allor gave each of these characters a clear backstory that he delicately drops hints of throughout the comic, in a true “whodunnit” story manner.
It’s tough to write within a mold and be novel but I guess that was the challenge of the book.
Star Trek TNG: Mirror Broken #2
Okay … this was the comic I’ve been waiting for all month! I am an unabashed J.K. Woodward junkie. I love this man’s art stylings and have to say that I’ve really grown to be a fan. But when it comes to writing, I’m also a big devotee of the Tiptons! Ever since their collaboration on the revisit to Harlan Ellison’s “The City on the Edge of Forever” and restoring that writer’s original teleplay, I’m always excited to see more of their work together on a new project.
This story is an absolute twisted nightmare to experience! The Tiptons take every single laudable and honourable trait of the crew of the Enterprise we know from TNG and turn it into a complete something that shows how callous and manipulative the human condition can be, particularly set against the backdrop of something as noble as a utopian vision of the future.
However, this is not simply a reversal of the prime Star Trek universe; more of a real leap of the imagination in that the Tiptons expertly portray the characters to have the same ambitions but different values in the way they pursue them. For example, while the Ryker we know fully respects his captain, in this comic, it’s up to Picard to literally pummel Ryker into earning his respect. Violence and treachery serve as routes to advancement instead of compassion and dedication. It’s a gifted treatment of these familiar characters to be able to turn them into something completely new but wholly understandable. It shows how connected the Tiptons are to Trek to be able to do this with such ease.
We’re only at Issue #2 with this book and can’t believe how excited I am by it. If you are a Star Trek fan, then this is your book.
Another solid read from the team of Jim Zub and Steve Cummings. Wayward is one of those comics that has a great deal of planning and backstory. It’s craftsmanship, plain and simple and represents solid love for the medium along with a significant amount of Japanese cultural affinity.
It’s good enough that its been optioned for television, which is every writer’s dream, right? Zub gets credit for the amount of hard work and effort he applies to his craft. I’ve termed him the “hardest working guy in comics” and it’s with due merit.
I’ve been keeping any eye on Donny Cates’ work after a friend of mine suggested it to me some weeks back. While I confess I have grown somewhat tired of the vampire trope, there is a deep, underlying layer of pathos tot his story that is very compelling. Of course, vampires eking out a living in the Deep South makes sense to me in Trump’s America; it is harsh, unapologetic and smacks of survival of the hungriest. I’ll watch for more of this book and see where it goes.
Wonder Woman #25
The aptly-titled “Perfect” by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp lends us insight into the nobility of Wonder Woman that this year’s blockbuster film has emphasized. Not to say that Rucka’s gifted writing never revealed this to us before, but this anniversary-sized issue is an extremely personal issue that shows readers the full extreme of Wonder Woman’s idealistic values and also illustrates the difference between DC’s pantheon of heroes to Marvel’s collection.
DC’s heroes have pretty much dominated the sphere of Godhood. Not to say that they are all worshipped in some capacity or have mythological origins like Diana of Themisycira, but the range of character arc for these heroes has seemed to me to be in the ream of ideal. There’s an acceptance that the DC characters represent something unattainable by human standards or are in such an altitude of fantasy that it would be impossible to reach. This idea translates well in the comic medium, but not so much in the cinematic realm, which is why I still think Marvel dominates films.
By contrast, Marvel’s heroes are human by nature. Though Thor may prove to be the exception to the rule, for the most part, Marvel’s characters represent people; albeit augmented people, they still possess some sort of human flaw or trait that forces them to undergo a journey of discovery to learn more about themselves during the course of their adventures. DC heroes know themselves but not their place within humanity. Marvel heroes know people, but need to discover more about themselves.
Yet this issue brings Wonder Woman down from her pedestal and shows her that her faith is not as essential as what she chooses to do with it. Diana now sees herself in relation to her fellow heroes but also to her paramour, Steve Trevor who builds and furnishes a home for her to live amongst humanity. It is a quintessentially human thing to do and after she relates to her friends and resolve her crisis of faith, we see her settle in the end to a perfectly mortal evening of relaxation and love.
It’s a beautiful story and demonstrates to us how well Greg Rucka knows this character. Moreover, Liam Sharp’s crisp lines and graceful backdrops give us a sampling of art that likewise befits a warrior princess. Combined, their work builds upon an established foundation of familiarity that delivers an issue worthy of this longstanding character.
Teen Titans #9
There’s a bit of a mixed homage on the cover to this book. It’s a combination of the television series Arrow (think Oliver Queen’s famous line) and classic Teen Titans issue #39 from the 1980’s, which not only impresses me right from the get-go, but also entices the reader into seeing what caused Kid Flash to get kicked out of the Teen Titans – which is exactly what a cover is supposed to do.
“Blood of the Manta – Part One” by Benjamin Percy, Khoi Pham and a bit of help from my pal, Craig Yeung, springboards from Kid Flash’s departure from the team and begins a really engaging look into Tempest’s mysterious background. Of course, bringing Aquaman’s nemesis, Black Manta into the background also gives the Titans a real threat to contend with. All in all, an excellent start to an exciting arc and definitely worth taking a look at.
Suicide Squad #20
Always good to see growing talent make more of an impact in the comic world. I have some early work of Stjepan Sejic’s art in my geek nexus at home. His full-page spread of Katana in this issue is absolutely splendid to behold and, is alone, more than worth the price of this book.
I enjoyed this story by Rob Williams. There’s nothing like an individual introspective analysis of the characters in a team book to bring new readers into the story or to simply allow old readers a chance to appreciate their favourite heroes. Of course, the task in this issue is to find a new leader for the Suicide Squad. Rick Flagg has been killed in the line of duty, sacrificing himself for the Squad. Heartless martinet, Amanda Waller certainly goes through the team with a fine-tooth comb to suss out the right leader for the job and, in fact, the leader she chooses will certainly surprise loyal readers of this book.
This is a tough book to write, but Williams does a great job with this story and sets the audience up for the next arc that is to come. Think of this as a rest-stop in this breathless adventure of a series.
Batman – Elmer Fudd #1
Would you believe it?
I actually didn’t think I’d like this but there’s an unexpected joy in being proven wrong in the process of making a new discovery.
It’s the faux film noir quality this book has that strikes the reader with a rubber chicken across the side of the head as you begin to read. Elmer and the rest of the Looney Toons crew all make anthropomorphized appearances in this story that read right out of a Phillip Marlowe story. It’s a twisted grotesquerie of a detective/super-hero story that compellingly works! In an interview with Inverse.com, King had this to say:
“The best laughs I’ve gotten in my writing have been when I’m writing the most serious fiction,” King explains. “I think that’s true, because if you don’t believe in the construct, you won’t believe in the joke.”
And as much as this has comedic overtones, King manages to pull a serious note out of this story that not only amuses, delights but forces us to watch for the various Easter Egg-like contrasts and features that pop up all over the book. Let’s face it: Elmer Fudd is a not the nemesis one would imagine being able to go toe-to-toe with Batman. Given Elmer’s penchant for dim-wittedness, to see him engaged in a course of sleuthing is also a bit far-fetched, yet the talented, King weaves a soulfully dark story about unrequited love and manipulation.
I have to say though, out of all the cameos, Foghorn Leghorn had to be my favourite. Read it to find out why.
Lee Weeks has also definitely popped up on my radar to keep an eye on as well! His ability to take a ludicrous character like Elmer Fudd and portray him as a respectable adversary for Batman is nothing short of a miracle. The action sequences between the two are as dynamic as any other foe the Dark Knight has faced. It’s definitely brilliant work and it really deserves mention! With my friend, Lovern Kindzierski on colouring duty, there’s a real “dark and stormy night” appeal to this story that really evokes a Sam Spade thriller.
This book is probably the greatest surprise sleeper I’ve ever encountered in a review lot of books and definitely deserves the number one position as the superior pick of the week. After all, this is like someone giving an unmeasured lump of mincemeat and a handful of vegetables to a master chef and watching him turn it into a gourmet steak. I mean, you wouldn’t expect steak from hamburger, right?
But that’s what Tom King does, and it’s one hell of a surprise. Which I guess is the watchword for the week! Until next comic reading day!