Star Wars #7 (Marvel)

160b5213-c0c1-4b79-89ed-a4c7fe076a56

CREDIT: Marvel

Rating: 4/5 – A Stand Alone Tale Starring Ben Kenobi.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

After an extremely strong first six issue storyline, Star Wars takes a breath to tell a stand alone tale starring Ben Kenobi. In the previous storyline, Luke Skywalker came across an old journal belonging to Ben on Tatooine, and issue seven of Star Wars tells a story based around an excerpt from one of those journal entries. Although it lacks the same excitement and surprises that the first six issues delivered, reading a story about Ben living on Tatooine provides backstory to a time that can definitely be explored within the Star Wars Universe.

Tatooine is going through one of the worst droughts in years. The lack of water is trying for the people of Tatooine, especially the moisture farmers who have the difficult task of producing enough water for people to survive. Adding to the problems, Jabba has sent out a group of thugs to impose a “water tax”. Although at first, Ben is hesitant to help in order to not risk his anonymity, but he’s eventually forced to take action when a young Luke Skywalker gets involved. Writer Jason Aaron and the editors at Marvel have found creative ways to expand the Star Wars storylines in new and exciting ways. Although one could say that all these coincidental meetings of major Star Wars characters seem forced, the writing makes it all seem so natural. The idea of Ben seeing Luke prior to Star Wars Episode IV makes sense, and Aaron does a wonderful job of making the interaction subtle, yet effective.

The other change besides the storyline in issue seven is the art. Simone Bianchi steps in for John Cassaday who still provides the cover. Star Wars is known for its Universe looking worn and used and Bianchi captures that look brilliantly. Tatooine isn’t pretty. It looks and feels dusty and hot. Smoke and dust clouds follow vehicles and people whenever they move, and the market place is packed with people when Ben encounters Jabba’s thugs for the first time. Bianchi captures the atmosphere, although he tends to lose a bit of the character work with Ben. There’s a few panels where Ben looks different from one panel to the next. Although Bianchi isn’t drawing Ben as realistic as Cassaday does the other major characters, you can still tell it’s him and when his pencils get to be a little loose, there’s a noticeable difference in his appearance.

Overall though, I enjoyed this latest issue of Star Wars. It shines a much deserved spotlight on Ben Kenobi’s time after Order 66 and the elimination of the Jedi. Although this is just one excerpt from the journal, I’m hoping Aaron and team keep going back to it as there seems to be so many stories waiting to be told.. It would be fun to see different fill-in artists telling stand alone stories after each major story arc. That would allow a wide variety of talent to play within the Star Wars Universe, while having the honor of providing an important piece of Star Wars history.

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

ComicSpectrum ComicBookRoundup  Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in Marvel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gotham By Midnight Annual #1 (DC)

47116bf5-c4bd-4fe9-aa98-ca9ea461c8f0

CREDIT: DC Comics

Rating: 4/5 – An Annual that Updates a Long-Time DC Villain.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

The Gentleman Ghost’s first appearance goes all the way back to the late 1940s when he appeared in an issue of Flash Comics. Since then he’s popped up all over the DC Universe. Most recently in DC’s New 52 he appeared in the Savage Hawkman, and now in this first annual of Gotham By Midnight. Written by Ray Fawkes with art by Christian Duce, Gotham By Midnight is a standalone tale that can be enjoyed all on its own since it provides the reader everything they’d need to know to about the villain and his motives.

Annuals can be hit or miss when it comes to quality.  A lot of times, annuals provide new and upcoming talent a healthy amount of pages to showcase their work. Although Duce’s artwork isn’t as common, Fawkes’ writing is prolific. Fawkes uses just two of Gotham By Midnight’s cast, Jim Corrigan and Lisa Drake, in a story about tracking the Gentleman Ghost down after he attempts to steal a valuable necklace. Over the course of the story, Fawkes is able to use the added page count to not only tell a solid “cops and robbers” story, but also provide an updated origin to the Gentleman Ghost, Jim Craddock. The origin adds some creative layers to Craddock’s history and although the updated design is nowhere near the original classic look, he does look a bit more dangerous. Fawkes decides to spend more time on Craddock which is definitely the right choice and although I would have liked to have seen the Spectre a bit more, deciding to shine the spotlight on the villain made for a more interesting read.

The Gentleman Ghost’s updated look is provided by Christian Dulce who’s art looks great from beginning to end. His pencil lines are thick, using plenty of shadows that’s all the more distinct when colored by the gifted Lee Loughridge. Most of the story takes place at night and Loughridge is able to use a healthy amount of blues and purples to give the landscape that perfect mood. Dulce uses all sorts of random panel layouts to tell the story and he’s an artist that can definitely tell a story. Annuals don’t always get it right when it comes to a healthy combination of both art and story, but Gotham By Midnight does. It tells a done-in-one story that takes a long standing villain in the DCU and updates his look and origin. Although the updated look doesn’t necessarily add to the villain, the additions to his origin definitely do

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

ComicSpectrum ComicBookRoundup  Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in DC | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zombies vs. Robots #7 (IDW)

ZvR07

Rating: 4/5 – The Cover Hooked Me and the Story Paid Off.
by ComicSpectrum Eic Bob Bretall

The cover of this issue lept out at me on the rack, as it probably would for anyone who used Pee-Chee folders for their school work in Junior High/High School.  The eye catching cover got my attention, but flipping through the issue kept that attention

The robots are (mostly) working for the humans who survived the zombie plague.  I jumped on board with this issue, but issue #7 is a great story for catching me up on what’s going on.  Writer Chris Ryall puts the focus this issue on a Father/Daughter who take refuge in a bunker in Kansas in the early days of the Zombie/Robot war.  The art was by a mix of artists.  The main story was mostly by Paul Davison but had 3 double-page spreads by James McDonald, Valentin Ramon, and James Kochalka that illustrated narrated scenes of that main story.  There was also a 2 page “Tales of ZvR” backup by Ashley Wood, with dialogue by Ryall.  I’m a huge fan of Wood, so this was a nice treat to be thrown in.

The Father in this story appears to be a key figure in the ongoing ZvR mythos that we’re getting backstory for here.  Next issue promises to kickoff a new wave in the war, which has me anticipating more action and robot on zombie violence, and perhaps even some conflict between surviving humans (a hallmark of the genre) but with their battle ‘bots thrown into the mix to kick the action up to another level.

Issue #7 a perfect jumping on point for people who haven’t checked out the series yet.  The zombie genre is still pretty popular and I liked the fact that this is a twist on the genre that I’ve not seen before.  The robot/human factor brings a unique feel to the series, as does the variety of art.  I’m going to be staying to get more of Ryall’s story and I’ll be looking for back issues too!

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

ComicSpectrum ComicBookRoundup  Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in IDW | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #1 (Marvel)

Star-Lord_and_Kitty_Pryde_Vol_1_1_Textless

CREDIT: Marvel

Rating: 3.5/5 – Entertaining Despite Star-Lord Being Out of Character.
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde is one of the last new series to launch under the Secret Wars event. As we head into the last week of July, most all of the series that will be released have been, and we now head into the second and final half of Marvel’s biggest story in years. Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde is a fun first issue that puts the two characters in a different light then when we saw them last. Right before Secret Wars ended in the conclusion of the Black Vortex storyline, Peter and Kitty got engaged. In this series, although Star-Lord is the one from the main 616 Marvel Universe and the one that popped the question, this isn’t the same Kitty Pryde and that causes a whole lot of problems.

Writer Sam Humphries gets the opportunity to write about a character in Star-Lord that knows and remembers the 616 universe before it was destroyed. Although I don’t necessarily agree that Star-Lord would be doing what he’s doing in Battleworld, it does make for a fun book. Star-Lord is now a night club singer. After getting separated from the rest of the survivors aboard Reed’s ship, Peter Quill ends up in an exclusive Manhattan club as a lounge singer. It seems out of character for someone who’s led a Guardians team that has saved the universe multiple times, and just what led him to making this choice is never explained. Although it doesn’t ring true to the character, Humphries is able to make the story entertaining and when Peter runs into a Kitty Pryde from this part of Battleworld, things don’t go as he planned which should make the rest of the series more compelling than I originally had thought at the beginning of this issue.

The art by Alti Firmansyah is a nice style choice for the tone of the story. His pencils are clean and almost cartoon like, but can still invoke that sense of seriousness when they need to. The colors by Jessica Kholinne are bright which also gives the story that more light-hearted feel. Despite Star-Lord being out of character in the choices that he’s made, it’s still a fun first issue that entertained me until the end. I’m not sure where the story is headed and if Peter’s journey will lead to bigger things within Secret Wars, but I’m also not sure if that’s what this series is about or if that was the intention. So far, Humphries and Firmansyah are telling a solid story and I’m ok with that.

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

ComicSpectrum ComicBookRoundup  Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in Marvel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Enormous #7 (215 Ink)

Enormous7

CREDIT: 215 Ink

Rating: 4/5 – The Enormously Entertaining Comic You May Not Have Seen.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

If you’re a fan of the ‘giant monster’ movie genre you should be checking out Enormous from 215 Ink.  The biggest trick may be finding it in a comic shop.  This is a book that may not be on the rack in most shops, but when shops do stock it, one look at the gorgeous painted art by Mehdi Cheggour could easily cause the issues to fly off the rack.

Enormous is an apocalyptic story.  An ecological cataclysm has caused enormous beasts of a variety of shapes, sizes and abilities to rise from the depths of the Earth and attack humanity.  The apocalypse is NOW as remnants of humanity, assisted by fragments of the military and FEMA, are battling for survival against both the monsters and the requisite bad elements of humanity that crop up in these kinds of stories.  This is the 1st issue of a new story arc, listed as “All New #1″ on the cover, but listed as #7 in the indicia.   As a #1 issue, writer Tim Daniel does a good job bringing readers up to speed.  There’s a short description of the premise, a timeline (and it’s only been 3 weeks of story time since the emergence of the enormous), plus we get some good flashback material for the 1st 6 pages of the story that helped remind me of what happened previously, since #6 came out about 6 months ago.

Enormous is what I like to call a “comic shop test” comic.  If your shop has copies on the rack: that shop is a keeper!  They support indie books.  If they don’t have copies in stock but will happily order you one: good shop willing to get customers what they want.  If you get something other than one of those 2 options, it may be time to look for a new shop!

Enormous #7 has a lot of action in the form of a human-on-human fight scene, beautifully choreographed and painted by Cheggour.  What we don’t get in this issue is a lot of  monster action.  This made this issue feel a bit more like an interlude to me since previous issues had a lot more giant monster action.  Not necessarily a bad thing, I still loved the issue, but it didn’t feel as representative of the series to date as a “new #1″ probably should have.  That said, this is a must-read for fans of monster movies and absolutely worth checking out for fans of painted art.  Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

ComicSpectrum ComicBookRoundup  Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cyborg #1 (DC)

c1

CREDIT: DC Comics

Rating: 4/5 – Cyborg Finally Gets His Own Series Post New 52.
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

There are a few artists that I’ll follow anywhere they go, and Ivan Reis is one of them. So when Reis was announced as the artist on a brand new Cyborg series, although a bit surprised, I was excited to see such a great talent taking on a character that needs, and some could say deserve, more solo attention. Between Reis’ work on Green Lantern and Justice League, he made Aquaman one of the best looking books on the rack as he focused his attention and pencils on a singular character rather than the large ensemble casts he juggled with Justice League and Green Lantern. With Cyborg, he gets the chance to do so again and this first issue looks great.

Cyborg’s costume, although different from when it first appeared in 1980, hasn’t changed all that much. The refinements that Reis includes are welcome additions and makes the robotic exo-suit look sleek and lightweight. As the suit begins to evolve as we see a little bit happening within this first issue, Reis shows the internal components that include wiring, moving parts and more. You can almost see how all the parts work together. Reis doesn’t skimp on the details as his pages are packed with panels. Reis has the chance to put his own stamp on the character much like George Perez did years ago and I’m looking forward to seeing more.

When it comes to the writing, David F. Walker gives us a solid first issue that does enough for new readers to get to know the character, while at the same time introducing us to a group of villains that look to be new and dangerous. One thing that will frustrate though is the lack of editorial boxes. Long gone from the pages of comics, I’ve haven’t missed them quite like this in a long while. In one particular scene, Cyborg recounts how he’s come close to dying three different times. Although I remember the first one, I didn’t know when or where the second two happened. A small footnote to let readers know where to find these stories would be beneficial since this is his first solo book, and despite him starring in Justice League which I read each month, I don’t remember these stories happening which made me think I may have missed important moments in this character’s brief post-Flashpoint life.

Despite some confusion regarding Cyborg’s most recent past, Walker does a nice job throughout this first issue of balancing the “man in the machine” theme as Vic Stone deals with his evolving powers, as well as his strained relationship with his father. Cyborg number one seems like a long time coming for a character that DC wants to be front and center within the DCU. So far it seems as though they’re on the right path by putting one of, if not their best artists on the book. Let’s hope that Cyborg gets a long and successful run as he has so much potential and promise.

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

ComicSpectrum ComicBookRoundup  Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in DC | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deathstroke #8 (DC)

Deathstroke8

Rating: 2.5/5 – Stiff Art As Wonder Woman Battles Deathstroke.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

When DC puts Wonder Woman on the cover of Deathstroke, they do it (usually) to pump up sales.  It worked.  I don’t read Wonder Woman OR Deathstroke, but I picked this up purely to give the book a try on the basis that it would likely bring in new readers just like me and I wanted to see how good a job was being done on making the story understandable to those new readers.

By and large, Tony Daniel & James Bonny do a pretty good job on bringing a new reader up to speed.  Deathstroke has been hired to kill the Titan Lapetus by the god Hephaestus.  This brought him to Paradise Island and into an inevitable conflict with Wonder Woman.  Simple setup for an issue that is a long fight scene interspersed with havok being wrought by Lapetus (who was not killed, but only freed from his imprisonment by Deathstroke’s attempt (in a some previous comic) to kill him by destroying a statue of him using a god-killer sword given to him by Hephaestus).  This is mostly cleared up in the page 1 narration.  I think this would be a good issue for people who like action.

Deathstroke Close-ups

Personally, I found the art to be very stiff, with an over-emphasis on really puzzling close-up imagery that did nothing to clarify the story for me (see above).  I’ll leave it to people with actual art training to offer some kind of definitive opinion here, but seeing a fist and a sound effect against a blank red background did nothing for me.  There were a few of these kind of panels, as well as strange closeups of rocks, weapons, and other unidentifiable body parts sprinkled throughout the issue.  An interesting art choice that I could dismiss as “filler”, but maybe there is some higher artistic purpose behind this that was completely lost on me.

Deathstroke stiff action

We also got a lot of action ‘poses’ during the battle that really didn’t ring true to me as a shape/pose the human body would take when performing the action that was being performed.  In the above sample, I have a combo of a close-up on Deathstroke’s leg with zero background detail except for some rocks, and a minimally detailed foreshortened image of Wonder Woman.  Is she charging him?  Did she throw him?  Did she throw the rocks?   I’m going to guess ‘charging’, but should I have to guess?  And what about the right-hand panel.  I think she jumped at him and missed because he ducked, hitting the tree.  But Wonder Woman’s body language is bizarre to my eye.  I usually just take in a fight scene in a comic and it lo0ks fine for the most part.  There were so many incongruities to the art in this issue that it really stood out to me in a pretty distracting way.

Deathstroke #8 was effective in that it brought me up to speed as a new reader in the middle of a storyline and I applaud the fact that I did not feel ‘walked into the middle of a movie’ syndrome, even though I had clearly joined a story in progress.  On the other hand, the art was very distracting to me and pulled me out of the story on several occasions.  I can chalk some of this up to personal preference, but I think some of it was due to actual technical issues with the art.  The bottom line was that I won’t be back for the continuation of the story in the $4.99 Deathstroke Annual #1, but if I see that issue in a $1 bin one day, I’ll be curious enough to pick it up.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

ComicSpectrum ComicBookRoundup  Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in DC | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment