After about two weeks, I'm back! I went on an annual family beach trip to the Outer Banks of NC! There are two comic shops down there, but they're pretty small and the selection left a lot to be desired, if your whole thing is reviewing new weekly comics, especially if you mostly write about non-Big Two books! And I missed the next week's reviews... trying to catch up on everything I missed! But honestly, both weeks were pretty light on reading material, this week is really where all the action is, so it worked out for the best! Lots of new issues this week to talk about, so I'll try to keep it brief. Let's dive in!
By Night #1, Boom! Studios
Eisner-Award winning author John Allison (Giant Days) and artist Christine Larsen (Adventure Time) join forces for a story about coming home, discovering identity, and accidently smashing a hole to another dimension.
Aspiring documentarian (and actual Chemistry major) Jane has recently reunited with her former best friend Heather, amateur urban explorer. When a trip into an abandoned industrial building leads them to another world, their plan begins to unfold. Create a documentary about the world and become filthy, filthy rich. The other side of the portal is filled with monsters, magic and a chance for a whole new life. All they have to do is step through...
By Night very much feels like a John Allison book. While I've never read any of the Bad Machinery series, I very much enjoy Giant Days, and this book captures a lot of what works so well for that - relatable, fun characters; funny and natural dialogue, and interesting female leads. Unlike Giant Days, it's obvious that By Night is going to have a distinct fantasy/sci-fi bend of some kind, although what isn't clear yet. Estranged friends Jane and Heather meet for the first time in years, go to a bar, and break into the recently relinqueshed property of former small-town magnate Chet Charles. While exploring the vaguely Wonka-esque abandoned factory (Think that one epsiode of Bob's Burgers that's somewhere between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Goonies), they discover a secret room where the ceiling opens up, and the light of the moon activates a mysterious machine that creates some sort of portal to another world. While the actual discovery of the machine and portal lack the sense of amazement and gravitas I would like, I can overlook it because I'm wagering that's not Allison's strength. Where he excels here is the two main characters, specifically their ruminations on what it means to follow your dreams, even when you are insecure, in comparison to living a good, if quiet, life. I don't know if you can call this a "coming of age" story when it's about, and perhaps intended for, those who have already come of age in a traditional sense - young twentysomethings out of school, in the real world, but perhaps wondering what it all means when you're drudging through the day to day. I can't wait to see what Jane and Heather find on the other side of that portal.
The Magic Order #1, Image Comics
We live in a world where we've never seen a monster, and The Magic Order is the reason we sleep safely in our beds. Magic meets the mob in THE MAGIC ORDER, as five families of magicians-sworn to protect our world for generations-must battle an enemy who's picking them off one by one. By day, they live among us as our neighbors, friends, and co-workers, but by night, they are the sorcerers, magicians, and wizards that protect us from the forces of darkness... unless the darkness gets them first.
When I heard Mark Millar was going to be creating comic series exclusively for Netflix, I was a little hesitant - in an age where Disney owns Marvel and Lucasfilm, and as of this writing, AT&T just today acquired DC comics and it's parent company Warner Brothers, I'm a little wary of monopolies, for both Big Brother reasons as well as creative ones. However, all fears of our future overlords aside, The Magic Order is a great read. The Magic Order opens with a supernatural assassination, with two shadowy figures on a neighboring rooftop bewitching a small child to murder it's father in his sleep. It's chilling and effective, leaving you hooked by the time you reach a panel of the child putting a finger - shhhh - quietly to it's blood-splattered face. I won't say much more, as the description above does a good job at imparting the facts, and like anything Netflix, I'm inclined to say "no spoilers!" If the intent is to eventually create this into a series, and I assume it is, this show will stand well with other Netflix originals. While Mark Millar has mostly done short series as of late (notwithstanding the return of Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl recently), I do wonder how long this series will continue, but for now, I'm willing to enjoy it. The only problem is -- you can't binge it!
Nancy Drew #1, Dynamite Entertainment
Nancy Drew is seventeen and good at everything...ESPECIALLY solving crimes. But her totally-in-control-and-obviously-running-perfectly-smooth-(but-not-really) life hits a snag when a mysterious message drags her back to the hometown she left behind. There she'll have to find out which of her friends are still her friends, which are enemies, and who exactly is trying to kill her...and (hopefully) stop them before they succeed. KELLY THOMPSON (Hawkeye, Star Wars, Rogue & Gambit) and JENN ST-ONGE (Giant Days, The Misfits) team up to present an all-new modern spin on a classic mystery icon!
I'm not going to beat around the bush here: I wish I liked this book better. As I've stated before on the site, namely in the review I did for Case of the Missing Men last year, I love Nancy Drew. I used to have a massive collection of the books and what I didn't own, I was constantly checking out from the library. I played the PC games at sleepover parties, I watched the 1970s tv show with my mom, and I really enjoyed the Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys miniseries, The Big Lie, that Dynamite put out last year, which had a very hardboiled noir feel to it. So I'm clearly all for "modern spins on a classic". But this series just... didn't do it for me. And it should have. I really liked Kelly Thompson's Hawkeye series from Marvel last year, and Jenn St-Onge's art is super pleasant, so I was stoked when this was announced, and have been really waiting for this one. But it just...didn't feel like Nancy Drew to me. Sure, I loved to see the mystery trio of Nancy, Bess, and George redesigned, and and the mystery set-up itself was good, but the characters just felt off. Nancy read more like a Barbara Gordon Batgirl to me, than Nancy, and for whatever reason, the decision to make Bayport (traditionally the home of the Hardy Boys) Nancy's original hometown instead of River Heights just struck me as unnecessary? Overall this book wasn't bad, it just felt like a series of misses that should have been hits. I'm going to check out the other issues, but I'm honestly just disappointed.
Proxima Centauri #1, Image Comics
PROXIMA CENTAURI," Part One-4.243 light-years from Earth, the teenage wizard adventurer Sherwood Breadcoat is stuck in the confounding spectral zone on the manufactured dimensional sphere, Proxima Centauri, looking for escape and a way back to his brother while dealing with his confusing emotions, alien creatures, and all sorts of unknown, fantastic dangers. In this issue The Scientist H. Duke sends Sherwood on a salvage mission and gives counsel to the troubled boy in his charge. PROXIMA CENTAURI will be six issues of PSYCHEDELIC SCIENCE FANTASY ACTION COMIC BOOK DRAMA starring Sherwood Breadcoat, "The Scientist" Duke Herzog, Dr. EXT the Time Traveler, the ghost M. Parasol, Shakey the Space Wizard, and Dhog Dahog.
I wish I had more to say about Proxima Centauri. The art for it is incredible, a style subtly shifting and changing from page to page, colorful and highly textured. However, I had a really difficult time trying to tell what was going on. Maybe I'm uncultured swine, but I had to reread pages at times because I couldn't distinguish certain characters apart. Early on, the main character (at least I think it was our main character) was drawn in a muddy, messy way, and was colored with dark skin and dark hair. In the next panel, you can see him with lighter skin - I was confused for pages, thinking I'd missed some other black character besides the scientist Duke Herzog, introduced on the very next page. The art, delicate but complex and sometimes confusing, is very fitting for the story, or at least what I could make of it. Sherwood, a young teen boy, is stuck in an alternate dimension, searching for his brother and a way back to Earth, but all these pesky things like monsters, lonliness, confusion, attraction towards a girl without a corporeal form, and some 4.25 light years (give or take) keep getting in the way. The book is dreamy and surreal, a weird little gem, and if that's your thing, I definitely recommend it.
The Weather Man #1, Image Comics
Nathan Bright had it all: an awesome girlfriend, a kickass dog, and a job as the number one weatherman on terraformed Mars. But when he's accused of carrying out the worst terrorist attack in human history-an event that wiped out nearly the entire population of Earth-Nathan becomes the most wanted man alive and a target of a manhunt that spans the galaxy. But is Nathan truly responsible for such a horrific crime? And why can't he remember?
Writer JODY LEHEUP (SHIRTLESS BEAR-FIGHTER!), artist NATHAN FOX (DMZ, HAUNT, Dark Reign: Zodiac), and colorist DAVE STEWART (Hellboy, RUMBLE) present a full-throttle, widescreen science fiction epic about the damage we do in the name of justice and what it truly means to be redeemed... You don't want to miss THE WEATHERMAN!
I couldn't tell you why, but I was really resistant to this book when I read solicitations for it. Maybe because it contains a few key words that I've developed a kneejerk reaction to, namely "worst terrorist attack in human history", "wiped out nearly the entire population", "most wanted man alive", and "____ had it all". But I'm not too big of a person (literally, I'm tiny) to admit when I'm wrong. And I honestly really liked it. It isn't an incredibly original story, like I said above, but what makes it shine is the character of Nathan Bright himself. He's an over the top clown of a man, riding a fine line between obnoxious and loveable, and that's a tough thing to get right (cough cough, every writer of Harley Quinn for the past 7 years.) Jody Lehup's comedic timing on this is perfect, and when Bright is dealt a crushing blow at the end of the comic, it also manages to feel appropriately heartbreaking, without emotional narrative whiplash. Nathan Fox's art and Dave Stewart's colors work in a really nice technicolor harmony, a perfect match to the story being told. In some ways, it reminded me a good bit of No.1 With A Bullet, which came out last year, and I also wrote a quick review of. All in all, a solid entry to this week's new reads.
Zinnober #1, Scout Comics
Twenty years ago dragons returned to Earth and laid waste to human civilization. In the event the surviving humans named "Zinnober," Claire, then a young girl, lost her parents to the devastating force of these primeval creatures. Today, she's hell-bent on avenging the death of her family. But will the skills she was taught by her foster-father, the troubled ex-Marine James, be enough to fight an unstoppable enemy older than the Earth itself? Will the knowledge of her newest ally, the young scientist Andrew, bring her even closer to her goal? And what role will the mysterious Followers, a cult of mad dragon worshippers, play in all of this?
Somehow this book was less coherant than Proxima Centauri, and that's a comic that seems to go out of it's way to be intentionally trippy, although "trippy" isn't really the word I'd use for Zinnober. Just... incoherant. I'm really grateful for the plot summary provided above, because without it, I wouldn't have known that the Earth had come under attack by dragons - I would have just seen dragons running around, unexplained. I wouldn't have known that surviving humans were called "Zinnober", the title of the comic - the word isn't mentioned once in the comic itself. The whole thing just isn't fleshed out enough. The dialogue is bizarrely stiff, and reads like something that was literally translated from another language. I tried to look up the writers to see if this might have been the case, but couldn't find any solid information. The art is good, and the coloring fits, the dragons looked great but this book was just boring. There wasn't enough. I don't think that it's necessary to give away your entire story in the first issue of something, if you're looking to build a suspenseful story. But you HAVE to give readers more than this.
Notable new series left off this list include Bloodstrike #0 and Stellar #1, both from Image Comics. I chose to leave them off here because neither one strikes me as totally new, with Bloodstrike originating from the pages of Youngblood and Stellar originally appearing in Top Cow's Pilot Season almost a decade ago. There's also more new number ones from Marvel and DC, including the return of Thor, previously unworthy, Plastic Man and Hawkman (on life support pending consumer interest post Dark Nights Metal). Marvel's YA aimed girl-team book (a slightly more mature response in issue format to DC Superhero Girls) called Marvel Rising launched today, as well. This week was a nice full week of things to read, and honestly, sometimes making these reviews can be a chore, especially when the week is light, or the reads are weak. But there was a lot to talk about today, which was a nice breath of fresh air, and reminds me why I decied to start writing these to begin with!
Here's hoping that next week is just as meaty! See you then!
Anything I missed? Got a second opinion? Let me know in the comments!