Wild’s End #1 (BOOM!)

Wild's End #1

Rating: 3/5 – So Far This is War of the Worlds with Animals.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.

As the father of a two year old, I’m knee deep at any given bedtime in fables or other storybooks that feature talking animals. Brown Bear, Goodnight Moon, and Jamberry are just a few of the children’s books I’ve unwittingly come to memorize over the past couple of years. It makes me wonder if I subconsciously picked up Wild’s End #1 because of the animals on the cover and the overall fable-like feel of the packaging. Or it could be the premise of the story, which has aliens attacking a sleepy little English town War of the Worlds style. Either way, it’s written by Dan Abnett, who is more or less responsible for the modern Guardians of the Galaxy roster. So whether it’s talking animals or alien invasions, there doesn’t seem to be anyone more qualified to tell this tale and that alone was enough for me to give it a try.

The issue starts with a pair of animals making their way along the countryside when a “shooting star” blazes across the night sky and lands over a hill. Knowing the premise of the story, there should be no real mystery about what kind of trouble lies ahead. The core of the story that follows sees an introduction of many of the cast during the planning of the town’s yearly celebration, including a new resident that plays the role of the protagonist that guides the reader into this world. This scene eats up most of the issue, which I find unfortunate because there isn’t a lot of action, nor did I feel it moved the story along much. What is meant to establish the characters really came off to me more like a whimsical slice of life. The issue picks back up with its original premise at the end, though, and truly amps up the coming threat.

Included post story is a map of the town and the events that have taken place thus far. There is also a mock newspaper that includes all sorts of humorous tidbits as reported from a 1930s viewpoint. Unlike the map, I couldn’t quite place my finger on the relevance of the newspaper, except that maybe it will start to report on some of the strange happenings. Both were a nice touch and made the book feel like a complete package. The art by I.N.J. Culbard didn’t really click with me. I thought it could have added more to the fable-like, parable quality of it all if it had been more detailed and less cartoonish. Still, the story revolves around talking animals, so the style was not completely out of place and may work for other readers better than it did for me.

Wild’s End has the potential to be a fun ride. Who doesn’t like a good alien invasion story? However, we’ve seen War of Worlds before, so I’m hoping there is some new spin on it other than just “WotW with animals.” The characters have fun personalities and the protagonist especially appears to have hidden layers yet to be discovered. I hope future issues focus more on action, and the final scene in the issue was like the first shot fired across the bow of a ship, one that promises just that in future issues.

Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
(adam@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1 (Dark Horse)

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CREDIT: Dark Horse Comics

Rating: 3.5/5 – Answering the Questions that Prometheus Didn’t Answer?
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

When Prometheus was released in 2012, the movie left viewers with a lot of unanswered questions. It was a visual feast for the eyes, but at times the story left the audience confused with it’s hints at creationism, while tying directly into the more simple yet terrifying universe of the Alien movies. Enter Dark Horse, who for years have published comics based on the Aliens and Predator franchises, and are now bringing the world of Prometheus into their line with a crossover event that will run over the course of six months titled Fire and Stone.

With this first issue of Prometheus, the stage is set and the foundations of the story are laid out. Taking place after the events of Prometheus, a crew aboard the command ship Helios are investigating the infamous moon LV-223, the same planet the Prometheus ship landed on. What they thought would be a barren and desert planet has turned into something more. The art by Juan Ferreyra does a great job with the landscape, setting and creatures, giving the world a look of what we’d come to expect from a world within the Alien Universe. Ferreyra’s creature designs are creepy and smartly designed and the colors all around really add to the alien atmosphere. His human characters can look a little less detailed though, and with the large cast of characters introduced in this opening issue, it’s tough for any of them to stand out.

The story has a slower pace which is to be expected for the opening chapter of an event that will run for over fifteen parts. Writer Paul Tobin takes his time setting up the world and the characters, while also trying to get readers who may not be familiar with the material up to speed. You won’t find a lot of action within this first issue, but you’ll definitely walk away knowing that this slower pace is about to pick up. Tobin will need to place the focus on a smaller number of characters in the subsequent issues though, as there’s no characters that feel memorable from this opening chapter.

This issue has kept my excitement from when this crossover event was first announced. There’s such a rich world to be explored here and adding Prometheus into the stable of titles at Dark Horse is a welcome addition. The pacing may be slow and the action at a minimum, but this serves as a setup to what will ultimately be a multi-issue and multi-title event. If you’re a fan of these franchises, I’d encourage you to give this first issue a try as we hopefully get some answers to the questions that Prometheus the movie left unanswered.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Oddly Normal #1 (Image)

Oddly Normal1

CREDIT: Image Comics

Rating: 4/5 – An All Ages Story For Anyone Who’s Ever Felt a Little Different.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.

As I browsed the comic stands this week, I was looking for something different from the books on my regular pull list, which forever seem to be involved in massive crossover events or otherwise features reluctant heroes with the world’s troubles on their shoulders. What I found staring back at me was Oddly Normal #1, with a sad, almost lost looking girl on the cover. It seemed like something completely different and I decided to give it a shot. I’m really glad I did.

While not entirely an original premise, Otis Frampton puts his own spin on the coming of age story with Oddly Normal, which is the title of the book and also of the green-haired, pointy-eared, half-witch protagonist. Because of these unique features (compliments of that whole half-witch thing), she’s made fun of and ostracized at school. She doesn’t feel the love at home either, with parents too self-absorbed with each other to notice that Oddly just doesn’t fit in. As a result, you have an extremely brooding character that would otherwise be unlikeable, if not for her inner dialogue revealing that she’s bright, funny, and insightful. Unfortunately, she’s never had a chance to express any of this and lashes out with anger and resentment instead. Still, Frampton’s characterization of her has me rooting for her to turn it all around as the series progresses.

Frampton is also the artist on this book and his illustrations really give it a whole “Tim Burton movie” kind of feel. I especially like his coloring, which perfectly expresses the isolation and depression that Oddly feels by contrasting her bright colors with dull gray backgrounds.  The magic of the internet allowed me to learn that this current series is not Oddly’s first turn in comics.  Frampton published a 4 issue Oddly Normal series from Viper Comics back in 2005, and an OGN called “Family Reunion” with art by Sergio Qujada, also from Viper, in 2007, so I’ll need to keep my eye out for those.

Oddly Normal #1 is great start to a series that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. There are plenty of kids out there being alienated and bullied for being different. Look almost anywhere and you can find a teenager that feels his or her parents just don’t understand. However, most kids don’t have magical powers and that’s what makes Oddly just a bit different while also remaining completely relatable.  This ability sets up the adventure to come and I cannot wait to see where it takes her, I’ll definitely be back for more.

Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
(adam@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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New 52: Future’s End #19 (DC)

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Rating: 3/5 – The Seed of a New Stormwatch is Planted, and a New Superman Revealed.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer David Akers.

We’re about a third of the way into DC’s latest weekly “event” comic, with multiple writers used to tell this story.   This cries out for a comparison to 52, the series that brought the multiverse back to their mainstream comics and ultimately set the stage for the New 52. Unfortunately, for me, this series loses that match-up.

In this latest issue, Lois Lane debates publishing the truth about the masked Superman, while Ray Palmer meets with a Shadow Lord, those responsible for watching over Stormwatch. Meanwhile, the Batman from Beyond, Terry McGinnis, is trying to break into Terrifitech, and Deathstroke faces off against a Brother Eye-controlled Power Girl.  Similar to the 52 series, this book has a bevy of parents. It lists Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, and Keith Giffen as writers, and Scot Eaton as penciller. The problem for me, in this case, is that where each issue of 52 felt like a chapter in a longer story, these issues have felt more like sentences. The issues feel short, and it never seems like much happens. The art is good, and the writing is fine, but the whole story moves glacially. There are four plot lines, and they don’t really interact, so no book spends more than a handful pages on any one story.

I want to like this series more than I do, as a DC fan I should like it more than I do. Its writers have proven track records. Its art is great, with the realistic style that I prefer in modern comics. But where DC’s 2006-2007 series 52 left me wanting the next issue, Future’s End mostly leaves me feeling mostly indifferent and dissatisfied. 19 issues in, I’d really like to see more about the war which lead up to the events in the book, an often mentioned but never explained war with Earth 2. There’s still time for this series to pick up the pace but one has to wonder about who (other than hard core DC fans) is still picking this up after 19 weeks and will new readers jump on in the middle of the story?

Reviewed by: David Akers
(david@comicspectrum.com
) – also found at www.davidakers.com
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Archer & Armstrong #24 (Valiant)

Archer and Armstrong #24

CREDIT: Valiant Comics

Rating: 4.5/5 – A Nice Pause to Explore a Supporting Cast Member.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.

Before heading into its 25th issue anniversary spectacular, Archer and Armstrong #24 takes a little breather from the one-percent, magical boons, potty-mouthed generals, dead celebrities, dinosaurs, aliens, time walkers, and lizard kings to tell the touching story of a family torn apart by death, money, and loan sharks. If you’re looking for the titular characters this issue, you may be disappointed, but not for long. This story is a great character piece that centers on Archer’s adopted sister and one-time love interest, Mary-Maria Conchita Alonso Archer. If the story of personal redemption doesn’t do it for you, then surely the host of deadly sword-wielding ninja nuns will.

Guest writer Karl Bollers takes the reins this issue to deliver a story that expands on the history of Mary-Maria. She’s featured quite prominently within the series, so it’s nice to finally catch up on some of what it is that defines her. She is apparently no stranger to the harsh realities of life, which ultimately hardened her up for, as she put it, “not the life [she] would have chosen, just the one [she] got.” It’s a compelling story with plenty of action and a nice twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. It definitely fleshed out and made me care about a character that I didn’t particularly care for one way or another before. One thing that surprised me about this issue is that it played it straight – after all, Archer and Armstrong was Harvey Award nominated for the Special Award for Humor in Comics. Aside from seeing Mary-Maria kick Archer in the face during a flashback panel, there really wasn’t anything overtly humorous about this issue. Still, I’m okay with that because the series has been plot driven for so long that it’s nice to focus on a character.

It’s also nice to see Clayton Henry tackle the art in this issue. Henry has been my favorite Archer and Armstrong artist since way back in issue one and also one of my favorite of Valiant’s regular stable of talent. Henry uses clean lines that never detract from the story telling and always focus on the characters. I especially love his many faces for Mary-Maria – mostly scowls – that make her look tough, but also some soft, tender expressions. I hope to see him continue to work on Archer and Armstrong in the future.

Archer and Armstrong #24 could have easily been a “zero issue” origin story for Mary-Maria, but I really liked having it placed in the main run. It was a nice pause in the overarching narrative that has been running full-steam since the series’ onset. It also harkens back to the days when you can pick up a single issue of a comic and get a complete story. The story was solid, action packed, and new reader friendly, even if the series’ title characters were missing. I hope we can get more straight character pieces like this in the future. The series certainly has enough interesting characters from which to choose and after this issue it adds two more.

Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
(adam@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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Magneto #9 (Marvel)

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CREDIT: Marvel Comics

Rating: 3/5 – The March to Axis Invades Magneto’s Series.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

This ninth issue of Magneto carries the March to Axis banner, informing the reader that this is part of Marvel’s next big event that starts in October. Spilling out of the events from the first storyline of Uncanny Avengers, the Red Skull is on a quest for dominance and he’s using the brain of Charles Xavier to help him. It would make sense for Magneto to have a part in this event because of his close ties to Xavier, but for those readers who haven’t followed Uncanny Avengers, this issue may leave them confused.

As the issue opens up, Magneto has travelled to Genosha, home of numerous mutant atrocities and currently the home of yet another one. Genosha has been turned into a concentration camp by the Red Skull, where he’s killing both mutants and humans. Since the first issue of this series, Magneto has assumed the role of “protector of mutant-kind” and when he’s informed of what’s been happening on the island he himself once ruled, he decides to infiltrate Genosha on his own. The story unfolds in two ways; Magneto’s exploration of the island and his encounter with the Red Skull’s S-Men, and flashbacks to his own time spent in a concentration camp as a young boy. Writer Cullen Bunn’s flashback scenes tell a more gripping and emotional tale of survival, while the current events feel too convenient and slightly forced into the Axis event.

Like the writing, the art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta works extremely well in the flashback scenes and are colored brilliantly by Jordie Bellaire. Along with Walta’s heavy line, Bellaire uses nothing but grays to color the scenes. It’s reminiscent of a black and white movie as she uses whites brilliantly to lighten up the panels where needed. Walta struggles at times in the present day though as the heavy lines at times give the character a blocky and stiff look. And the panels where the scenes are shown from afar lose the detail and depth.

Whether or not you’ll be following the Axis event, this story doesn’t feel as though it’s required reading. Yes the Red Skull is involved and it does show what he’s been up to, but the focus lies more with his S-Men, and Magneto’s past. If you’ve been following Magneto since the beginning, then this issue although consistent with his current mission, feels as though it’s been somewhat forced into Marvel’s next big event. It’s too bad we couldn’t get an entire issue devoted to Magneto’s past.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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George Pérez’s Sirens #1 (BOOM!)

Sirens #1

CREDIT: BOOM! Studios

Rating: 4/5 – An Epic Story that Spans Time and Space.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.

George Pérez’s Sirens is the first comic book coming out of his exclusive deal with Boom and his first original comic book in over 10 years. Pérez is known for his legendary work on The Avengers, Teen Titans, Wonder Woman, and a slew of other A-list books for the “big two” and it’s an absolute pleasure to see him back in action, even more so working on a book of his own creation. Add to it that the book features an all female team and there was no way I was going to pass on this book. Pérez has always written great female characters (see Wonder Woman) and I couldn’t wait to see what he did with a whole slew of them.

George Pérez’s Sirens is described as telling a sci-fi story that spans time and space and it certainly delivers on that promise in the first issue. Every couple pages or so the story quickly shifts between characters in different times and places, in what appears to be a large scale story involving magicians, warriors, gunslingers, dragons, and robots (in 1949 Alabama no less). It is a lot to take in, I’ll admit, but the transitions are done really well. In each new time/place introduced, there is something that either ties it to the previous time/place or ties it to the narrative as a whole, so that you know everything and everyone is somehow related. It’s pretty easy to follow most of the story lines, but I found those set in the future a little less so. The book is extremely dialogue heavy and in the future scenes the techno-babble is hard to follow without multiple reads. The end of the issue pulls all the heroines together in the distant future and sets them up against the antagonist for what I assume will be the remainder of the 6-issue miniseries.

As thrilling as it was to dive into a new George Pérez book for his storytelling, with him it is only half the story. The other half is his art. Pérez has a classic style that remains consistent even as comic art continually pushes the boundaries. Some may not see this as a positive, but I think that would be like discounting an ancient philosopher’s thoughts and ideas as outdated. My only criticism is that many the panels were way too small, I wanted to see the art bigger! When you add in Pérez’s heavy inks and the plethora of word bubbles, the panels didn’t leave much room to truly let his art shine. Considering the size and scope promised in this book, his art deserves large, cinematic panels. We get a hint of that at the end of the book when the team is put together and I hope we get to see more of that in future issues.

It’s really good to see George Pérez back in the saddle after so many years and this latest adventure starts off big. Pérez delivers a lot of story and information with the first issue of Sirens and for the most part it all comes together well.  I’m sure all questions will be answered as the story unfolds in future issues, but at the end of this first issue I felt as disoriented as some of the Sirens, the ending felt like being thrown into the middle of a conversation with little to no context.  Moving forward, I’m interested to see how he balances fleshing out the large cast with providing insight into the plot. This first issue certainly set up a lot and it’ll be up to future issues to deliver. With Pérez at the helm, though, I don’t think there’s a lot to worry about.

Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
(adam@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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