Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday Pickups 5/9/12

Two weeks in row? How can it be so? Answer, lots and lots of blow. In all seriousness though, it is that time  again, where I examine the funny pages... I mean comic books of the previous week and help you navigate the ever vibrant shelves of your local comic shop. This week I'm looking at another slew of number #1s, two newer favorites, and... Uncanny X-Force (partly to challenge myself to think of new ways of saying "OMG I LUV THIS COMIC!" and partly because I know some of you slackers still aren't reading it.) So without further ado, let's get to it.

Our first book is the new title from Boom! Studios, Higher Earth #1; Created & written by Sam Humphries, art by Francesco Biagini, colors by Andrew Crossley, and letters by Ed Dukeshire. Dropped into a trash dump of a world (both in looks and how higher earths classify it) a mysterious stranger recruits one of the planet's lone inhabitants, a young woman named Heidi, for a secret mission involving planet hopping up the food chain. While I feel a lot of comparisons could be drawn between this and Marvel's recent Cable series, if for nothing else than the two main characters, this is an awesome first issue that really leaves me wanting more. Humphries and crew deliver a gritty, futuristic interstellar-adventure that is well done across the board! The story is intriguing and and well plotted; the art is eye-catching and flows so fluidly, and before I forget the best part is IT ONLY COSTS $1! Do yourself a favor and pick this book up, even if you don't like it that much you only wasted a buck so win-win. Not sure yet how I will continue with the book, whether in issues or waiting for a collected edition, but I can promise you I will be returning to Higher Earth soon.

Out next book comes from Avatar Press, Dan The Unharmable #1; Written by David Lapham, art by Rafael Ortiz, and colors done by Digikore Studios. Dan is a man with a plan; live as simple as possible, help out the occasional college coed, and oh yeah be invincible. I only moderately enjoyed the issue, but Lapham goes to one of his trademark moves and leaves us with a crazy ending that is going to make me return for more. Overall, the book shows glimpses of the work I love by him (namely Young Liars) such as it's  strange characters in "every day" settings and subtle jabs at established mindsets but at the same time it feels a bit more forced here. On the art side, Ortiz just kind of follows the Avatar party line (above average attention to detail, with as much blood and destruction as possible) but doesn't really do anything interesting with it and presents panels that feel so flat and isolated. Bottom line, I would only recommend it for those who've taken a ride with Lapham before and trust him to take you for a wild ride by the time it ends; for everyone else; I say wait and see how it all shakes out. As for myself, I have to give it at least few more issues based on  the aforementioned ending in this one and  trust in Lapham.

The final first issue of the week comes from Image, Mind The Gap #1; Written by Jim McCann, art by Rodin Esquejo & Sonia Oback, letters by Dave Lanphear, and production by Damien Lucchese. A phone call, an assault, the usual suspects, an unusual location, and an out of body experience introduce us the new "world" of Ellis Peterssen who has just entered a coma or possibly something more. Jim McCann, assisted by some beautiful artwork from Esquejo and Oback, invite us to solve (and enjoy) the mystery of who attacked Ellis Peterssen, and I for one am accepting the challenge. While there are a lot of mystery series out there, so many of which seem more formulaic than thrilling, this particular one enthralled me and had me thinking about it well after I set the issue down. My lone complaint so far is it does seem to be a bit heavy on the references, but that too could prove endearing over time. I won't say too much more about that now, but if everything goes to plan you will be hearing more from me about this book before it's second issue (oh a mystery inside a review of mystery comic, how meta.) For now, I really recommend giving it a shot if you enjoy losing your self in a whodunit from time to time and for those who don't, at least flip through it to check out the art.

From a damsel in distress to one causing her own fair share, we go to another Image book with mysteries, Fatale #5; Written by Ed Brubaker, art by Sean Phillips, and colors by Dave Stewart. The first arc of this series comes to a close as Hank, Jo, and Walter are thrown together one last time with not everyone making it out alive. I know I just ragged on mysteries in the last paragraph, but this is another one that really works for me mainly because the mystery seems so secondary to Brubaker's character's and the macabre story he is trying to tell. Complimenting it in perfect harmony is Phillips thick, shadowy art, that refuses to leap off the page but instead lures you into it's murky, occult world. Through five issues this has been one hell of a ride that's left me anxiously waiting for more and pondering just how deep this rabbit hole goes. While I wouldn't say it's a must read for everyone, if a mature and supernatural mystery sounds up your alley, you would be remiss not to give it a chance.

Heading over to Marvel we have your monthly dose of mutants with Uncanny X-Force #25; Written by Rick Remender, art by Mike McKone, color art by Dean White, letters by Cory Petit, with two back up stories written by Rick Remender and art done by Jerome Opena. A new arc begins as two members quit X-Force, leaving the other three in a bit of a pickle when their latest quarry knows they're coming. I knew I would enjoy where ever Remender took the story next as so far he's done no wrong in my eyes on this title, but I was a little apprehensive about how well McKone's artwork would fit in the book. I am thankful to report though, that White's colors more than helped to smooth the transition and present us with some of the best McKone art I've seen since his early Exiles stuff. As for the back-up stories, I'm usually not a huge fan of reprints in the back, especially when they add to the price but don't supplement the story. However, in this case I'm going to allow it, mainly because I can't help but love anything Opena creates. Final verdict: buy it unless you hate good comics! (But seriously, a good jumping on point if you've been waiting.)

Last up, and my favorite comic of the week, is Hell Yeah #3 from Image; Written by Joe Keatinge, illustrated by Andre Szymanowicz, lettered by Douglas E. Sherwood, and colored by Jason Lewis. Ben Day, our misanthropic protagonist, gets all the details on why super-ladies from another earth came looking for him; While back at his now demolished high school another group of universe hoppers comes looking for him with something more sinister in mind. I've been digging the first couple issues of the title, and #3 only makes me love it more as Szymanowicz finally gets to let loose with some great action panels. On the narrative side, Keatinge's story continues to be interesting and well paced, leaving us with another perfect cliff hanger. Seriously, out of all of Image's newest titles, this is easily my favorite! And to make matters even better, this issue starts up a fun, unrelated back up story (yes, I know I just bagged on those but this one doesn't jack up the price.) So please check out this title if you're a fan of mixing your hyper violence with your crazy, superhero worlds or you know, you just want to explore a story where superheroes make other entertainment obsolete in a medium some of the major companies seem to be pushing for that.

That's it for this week, but since it is currently a new Wednesday be sure to grab the new issues of The Secret History of D.B. Cooper, Saucer Country, and Red Hood and the Outlaws. Have any recommendations? Leave'em or tweet'em.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday Pickups 5/2/12

It's that time once again, where I try to get my comic blogging back on track and inevitably fall back to not doing so within a few weeks. I don't expect this time to be any different, especially with nicer weather right around the corner, however with another batch of new titles dropping this week, and a few good usual suspects, I figured I'd give it a shot. So without further lame introing, comics from May 2nd, 2012.

Kicking things off this week we have Venom #17 from Marvel; written by Rick Remender & Cullen Bunn, with pencils by Kev Walker, inks by Terry Pallot, colors by Chris Sotomayor, and letters by Joe Caramanga. A prologue to the upcoming Savage Six story arc; this issue assembles the cast of villains looking to take down Flash Thompson, while he himself once again calls on the Venom suit to rid him of Crime Master's black mail once and for all. A nice, soft-start to "Savage Six" this issue delivers a good taste of what the book has been like so far and where it's going in the near future. Remender continues to write Flash through the ringer, both emotionally and physically, giving him only enough down time to see how far he has fallen. One could choose to view this as depressing, but I find it only makes the character that much more interesting as we see him try to be better (sometimes succeeding and often not.) On the art side, Kev Walker's pencils continue to grow on me. While they aren't quite as visceral as Tony Moore's, they offer a pretty good substitute with a unique sense of action layout. All in all, a pretty good issue and definitely a good jumping on point if you've been wondering what this Venom series is all about.

Also from Marvel this week is Age of Apocalypse #3; written by David Lapham, with art by Roberto De La Torre, colors by Lee Loughridge, and letters by Cory Petit. The X-Terminated continue their fight for humanity by trying to stop Beast from reviving some of this world's deadliest mutants, finding assistance in from some unlikely allies. Still not entirely in love with De La Torre's art but find my self really enjoying Loughridge's color palette, which is spot on for this dystopian world. On the narrative side, I'm digging Lapham's story but do think it could be jarring for those not familiar with the universe. Ultimately, I like the book but would probably recommend most readers wait for a trade collection to get a good taste of it instead of just sampling this title with any given issue.

Next up is a bloody, double feature from Image starting with Pigs #7; story by Nate Cosby & Ben McCool, art by Breno Tamura & Will Sliney, colors by Chris Sotomayor, and lettering & design by Rus Wooton. After their paid hit-man failed last issue, the sleeper cell takes matters into their own hands and breaks into prison to eliminate their target. Another good issue from Cosby, McCool, and crew; furthering the story enough to satiate our blood-lust while still dangling the mystery of what the cell is really up to right in front of us. To be honest I was a little worried momentum wouldn't carry over, as it's been a little while since the last issue was released, but now I'm finding that each issue of this book can really be enjoyed without the context of the others (although that context does make it so much better.) If you're up for a tale of intrigue, assassination, and possibly revenge definitely give Pigs a shot.

Rounding out the Image double feature is a brand new mini-series, Epic Kill #1 of 5. Created, written, and drawn by Raffaele Ienco, Epic Kill follows young Song as she begins begins her quest to find that man that holds all the secrets to her past. I would like to say this comic goes beyond the generic summary I just gave it, but it really doesn't. I don't want judge it too harshly based on this first issue, but Ienco's book looks and feels like a third rate action story that never approaches living up to it's name. Maybe it gets better in the other issues, but for now I would advise staying away from this book.

Going back to Marvel, we have Exiled one-shot (part 1 of 5, so not really a one-shot); Kieron Gillen, Dan Abnett, & Andy Lanning on writing duties, art by Carmine Di Giandomenico, colors by Andy Troy, and letters by Clayton Cowles. Evil creatures from Asgardian past escape hell, and end up on earth forcing a confrontation between the Norse gods and the New Mutants that leaves everyone confused. Not the easy introductory issue I was hoping for, coming from only reading New Mutants, but not exactly terrible either. So far this cross-over seems a lot more like pressure marketing than a compelling tale flowing naturally out of the two books, however it did interest me enough to want to pick up the Journey Into Mystery issues if only to find out what is actually going on. Art-wise it left less of an impression, as it neither wowed or disgusted me, leading me to hope for better in the remaining for parts but won't end up being too dissappoint if there isn't. Final verdict on this one, pass on it till it's collected unless you're already buying one or both of the comics titles it bleeds into this month (Journey Into Mystery and New Mutants.)

Last up and my favorite book this week is the flagship title of DC second wave of 52 books, Earth 2 #1; written by James Robinson, pencils by Nicola Scott, inks by Trevor Scott, colors by Alex Sinclair, and letters by Dezi Sienty. On a earth very much like our own (if our own was that of the regular DC earth) three iconic heroes wage a final battle for humanity's freedom ending in a tragic result, but one that will give birth to a new generation of heroes. To be honest, I wasn't to hot on this book going in and might not have picked it up if my local shop wasn't offering it for a dollar off, but man am I glad they did. While I stand by my thoughts on most of the  DC books (I've read and liked) no needing a reboot to tell their stories, this one absolutely did (sort of picking up the remains of JSA) and they knocked it out of the park! Robinson's sets the stage for what could be a great title with his story and Nicola Scott's art is looking way better than the last time I saw it in the pre-reboot Teen Titans series, probably somewhat due to the talents of Trevor Scott and Alex Sinclair. Definitely grabbing the next few issues of this to see if it keeps it's momentum, but I highly recommend grabbing this first issue and checking it out for yourself.

That's it for this week but next week is shaping up to be just as good with new Uncanny X-Force, Crossed, and Batman so be sure to head out and pick those up today.