Review Of Rai #3

Rai 3 Raul Allenby Matt Kindt & Clayton Crain

Rai continues to be the cyber punk ninja series that is both beautifully rendered yet consistently exhilarating in it’s story of future Japan’s digital protector. Kindt has done the impressive task of already building a long form decompressed narrative that never let’s up on the action while also building it’s mystery, the characters and the world at large without having to sacrifice any needed piece of those elements. It is a comic that is wholly immersive in both scope and narrative with something that feels like nothing in it’s own shared universe or really any universe that isn’t some strange Akira, Blade Runner, Lone Wolf and Cub amalgam. Kindt manages to do his Matt Kindt things to a point here that’s it clearly one of his stories without it ever feeling derivative of his past work. Meanwhile the art continues to be astonishing as Clayton Crain continues to renders this hyper detailed photo realistic world that looks like nothing you’ve seen while managing to translate the breakneck pace and dynamic action sequences required of the comic’s tone and world. Rai is a comic that is equal parts fun, action packed, thrilling, thoughtful and smart while having all those things unfold in equal measure within the flow of the narrative. In only three issues it’s proven to be one of the stand out new series and easily the best thing at the consistently strong Valiant and the best part it’s only just started. Rai is truly an adventure and the best part is that it does all the things to make it feel as if you’ve put you inside of it as you read along.

Review of Avengers #32

avgby Jonathan Hickman & Leinil Francis Yu

For anybody that’s a faithful Jonathan Hickman reader this issue of his Avengers run was the moment that we were waiting for but weren’t sure was going to happen. Before Hickman basically became a nihilist his run on Fantastic Four or creator owned series Red Wing & Red Mass For Mars were a lot of things but one of them that’s been missing from his recent work is hope and that comes back in full force with this issue. In it Captain America, Black Widow and Starbrand meet Hickman’s old muse, the adult Franklin Richards with a brief and hilarious Groot cameo for good measure as he takes the Avengers and the reader through a journey across the cosmos to see a vision of humanity that is equal parts evolved and awe inspiring while the issue itself ponders the nature of time, action and consequence’s. For Hickman’s scripts to work he needs an adapt artist that can realize his wide screen vision and Leinil Francis Yu answers the call here doing some of the best work I’ve ever seen from the artist. The scope of the pages are expansive as you literally see entire galaxies in single large panels while the detail he puts into everything makes the work uniquely his. You can tell it’s a Leinel page even though it feels like nothing he’s ever done before, no small feat considering he was doing similar work with Hickman less then a year ago during their Infinity crossover. But where that story was bombastic space opera and epic universe shattering warfare this is something much quieter, more tranquil and perhaps most importantly more profound as the issue explores the nature of time, space and humanities place in those things. It’s a stunning single issue that makes up for some of the series more sluggish moments and reframes both issues past and future. Life never really ends or stops; it just adapts and sometime when you stop to take it all in it can be beautiful.

Review of Magnus Robot Fighter #0

Magnus Robot Fighter 0 Gabriel Hardman
Gabriel Hardman

Magnus Robot Fighter #0 by Fred Van Lente & Roberto Castro

For this issue, Van Lente takes a break from the ongoing story of Magnus in order to do a bit of world-building. He does this by switching perspective from the Robot Fighter to a combat-bot, Turing-Thinker Designate Gunbot-856. The reader is introduced to the gunbot immediately before a raid on a female robot fighter (who incidentally seems to share some traits with Magnus). Despite having the appearance of generic cannon fodder, 856’s narration quickly lends him a recognizable voice. He may have been built for battle, but that does not mean he is not capable of introspection. He muses on what the point of all this conflict is. 1A unleashes another robot fighter, the human does massive damage, is taken down, the robots rebuild, until another robot fighter appears. It is as if life is simply a single repetitive loop. What Van Lente does skillfully in these introductory pages is take these familiar observations and make them fresh again through changed circumstances.
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Review of Star Trek #35

Star Trek 35

The 2009 Star Trek film’s reboot of Star Trek continuity gave storytellers the opportunity to explore the franchise’s characters and history with a clean, fresh slate.  Comics publisher IDW has taken advantage of this opportunity to present the new adventures of beloved characters on the comics page.  Star Trek #35 does something surprising, using a character from the old continuity (the seemingly omnipotent alien known as “Q”, played in the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series by actor John de Lancie) to disrupt the status quo of the new continuity.

The first chapter of “The Q Gambit” is a delight; writer Mike Johnson has a gift for dialogue, and the conversations between Q, Captain Kirk, and Ambassador Jean-Luc Picard ring true for those characters.  Johnson’s script is intriguing, with Q hinting to Picard that the new timeline created by the future Mr. Spock may have set in motion a series of events that will ultimately doom it.  Q appears to Kirk in the new timeline and promises to test Kirk’s belief that “there is no such thing as a no-win scenario” before sending the Enterprise through time and space to a location that should be exciting to Star Trek fans.  Artist Tony Shasteen neatly captures the likenesses of all the characters, and the artist’s depiction of Q’s manipulations of time and space are exciting and entertaining.

Star Trek #35 is accessible to new readers, but longtime Star Trek fans are more likely to appreciate the characters and plot of this comic.  This issue was a great beginning to a story arc that promises to blend the old with the new in an intriguing fashion.

Review of Doc Savage #7

Doc Savage 7 Alex Ross

In Dynamite Entertainment’s Doc Savage comic, writer Chris Roberson examines the limitations of a pulp hero in the modern world.  The 1930s scientist/adventurer/hero Doc Savage’s adventures continue into the present (thanks to a life-prolonging drug), and his inventions and network of agents have helped millions of people around the globe.  But the truth about Savage’s methods to rehabilitate criminals (techniques that might have been acceptable in the 1930s, but are very controversial in the 21st Century) have come to light, and for the first time Savage finds himself facing intense public distrust.  If that wasn’t bad enough, some of the criminals that Doc reformed revert back to their old habits, and use Doc’s technology to threaten the planet.

Roberson’s script for issue seven ties together adventures and characters from earlier issues and delivers an exciting issue that explores how social mores and heroes evolve over time.  Artist Bilquis Evely – with a bright palette provided by colorist Daniela Miwa – neatly depicts all the action and emotion that the story requires.

The comic is accessible to new readers, but readers that have followed the series from the first issue will more fully appreciate all the dots that Roberson has connected in this issue.

Review of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #6

Turok 6

Dynamite Entertainment’s alternate history adventure series Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #6 sees Turok reunited with his parents’ tribe in the American West on the eve of a Mongol invasion.  Turok learns a lot about his people and the reasons his parents left the tribe, but is soon caught between loyalty to his tribe and his affections for his friend, the Mongol princess Altani, whose father’s dinosaur-riding army is about to attack Turok’s tribe.   Only Turok can teach his people how to ride dinosaurs and defend themselves from the Mongols, but will he?

Greg Pak’s story is an interesting exploration of a reluctant hero who wants no part of the conflict in which he is now a central figure.  The characters are compelling and interesting, and even new readers will have no problem sympathizing with Turok and Altani.  The art by Takeshi Miyazawa – with colors provided by Luigi Anderson – deftly depicts the action of riding dinosaurs as well as the emotional character moments.

If you aren’t reading Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, I respectfully suggest that you should.

Review of Legendary Star-Lord #1

Star-Lord 1 Mahmud Asrar
Mahmud Asrar

Legendary Star-Lord #1 by Sam Humphries & Paco Medina

While Rocket Raccoon comes out blasting in the first issue of his solo title, I am sorry to report that Peter Quill stumbles out of the gate. The issue opens with a brief flashback to the funeral of Peter’s mother, before leaping back to the present. Quill is at odds with Badoon bounty hunters, who have come to collect the price on his head. Naturally, they drop in on him while he is in the middle of what looks like a robbing a precious stone from an orphanage. From there, Quill must find some way to wiggle his way free, while clearing his name. In its essence, it is a one-and-done story built around introducing Star-Lord to new readers.

Or should I say the new Star-Lord, aka the trouble with this issue?
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Review of Rocket Raccoon #1

Skottie Young

Rocket Raccoon #1 by Skottie Young

I went into this issue kind of blind. My main reason for buying it was the character. As a big fan of the DnA Guardians of the Galaxy era, I am fond of Rocket. Plus, I always enjoy some Skottie Young art. Skottie Young the writer, however, I had no prior experience with. Also, I shall confess, I was a little unsure about how well Rocket could hold down an ongoing monthly book. He is great in a team setting, but would he wear out his welcome in a solo environment? Well, based on the first issue, my concerns were unfounded.

Young begins the book with Rocket sneaking into a space ship. The first dialogue in the story involves two guards debating the believability of a show based around a living planet. As with other instances of humor throughout the issue, none of jokes feel forced or arch. Indeed, there is an easy-going rhythm to the story, which is reflected in the art as well. Young is obviously enjoying himself, populating the issue with whimsical asides and light-hearted action. This is the most fun comic I have read so far this week. It is also lovingly crafted art-wise. As to be expected, Young fills the pages with imaginative detail and priceless facial expressions.

Finally, and most importantly, Young has a great handle on Rocket’s personality. Having given up on Bendis’ Guardians book after a few issues, I am happy to have at least one way I can still enjoy part of the team. Actually, the Guardians do cameo in this book which leaves me wanting to see Young do more with them as well. The conversation between Rocket and Star-Lord is particularly delightful. (Bonus points to Young for coming closer than anyone else in making Angela not look like the embarrassment that she is. Maybe it has something to do with keeping her blurry and in the background?).

Overall, a fantastic first issue. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next . . .


Review of East of West #13

Nick Dragotta

East of West #13 by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta

This issue begins with a bang. Literally. Hickman flashes back to the conclusion of issue #10, when The Ranger killed Cheveyo. From here, the issue splits into two threads, one following Death as he rushes off to confront The Ranger, while the other plotline lingers with Crow and Wolf. Cheveyo was Wolf’s father, and the son feels obligated to stand vigil over his father’s body as a powerful spirit force comes to claim possess of the dead man’s soul. (When Crow looks concerned, you know real trouble is a brewin’). Crow and Wolf have always intrigued me as characters, and I enjoyed their time in the spotlight this month. Hopefully, this issue is setting up plot points which will allow continued focus on this pair in the future.

Intercut with these mystical happenings is the confrontation between Death and The Ranger. The struggle between these two characters is expertly rendered by Dragotta. Throughout the issue, Dragotta varies the panel size and arrangement, giving a real sense of movement to the images. The variety of page layout has the effect of keeping the reader on their toes and, therefore, feeling the tension of the fight. As always, Dragotta turns in some fabulous art. For the final page, he presents the reader with an image on such a large scale that it dwarfs Death and the Ranger. It also brings the chapter full circle, tying into the fallout from last month’s rather unsuccessful peace conference.

All in all, this was a fantastic issue, definitely the best of the arc so far. I know some readers thought that the narrative got bogged down among politicking the previous two issues. While I disagreed, it did feel good to have the pace ramped up again. Either way you approach it, though, this is a terrific reminder, if anyone really needed one, of why East of West is such an outstanding series.


Review Of Black Kiss XXXMas In July Special

Black Kiss 2 XXXMas in July Special One Shotby Howard Chaykin

There are few comics that have come out of Image in the last few years that have been as polarizing as Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss II. A relaunch of one of Chaykin’s alt comix black and white series of the 1980’s the comic was confusing and gross for what was probably a majority of reader that hadn’t read the original series that made a habit out of picking up every new Image series before realizing they were reading a porn comic about two vampires that looked like hot blond twins with the exception that one had a dick. Worst the comic itself felt somewhat aimless and more of an exercise in Chaykin pushing the limits of making a porn comic about vampire twin sisters with one that has a dick without ever really going anywhere with that. That being said when you read close enough without getting distracted from the craziness you can almost see a comic that is vehemently anti-misogynist as the two protagonist punish shit bag dude’s that treat women as sex objects as opposed to  human beings. Black Kiss XXXMas In July Special manages to get all the Black Kiss things right without some of the short comings that the series suffered from by doing a tight one shot that focuses on the horror aspect of the story while serving up some much needed catharsis with what is essentially a literal revenge porn. In it we are shown a young girl being given over to be gang raped from her father as payment to a bunch douchey Ivy League frat boys. After that it becomes a pure revenge narrative as the young girl grows up to be a vampire while we watch her and her trans sexual doppelganger exact revenge on her attackers throughout the 20th century. It manages to function as both a thrilling revenge narrative while commenting on how men can subjugate woman through power structures and rape culture while giving the people what they want with these dudes getting mutilated in all the ways they deserve. Chaykin’s art here is his art; all the people look like you’ve seen him draw them before but the details and scope of his scenery are absolutely gorgeous. His writing is haunting, insightful but most importantly focused as the story progression feels natural and earned. Black Kiss XXXmas In July is a smart, entertaining and utterly horrifying examination of sexual abuse that is worth reading if you have the stomach for it with content that makes other Image books like Sex or Chaykins own Satellite Sam feel like Figment but in a medium that has been guilty of objectifying woman for decades this installment of Black Kiss is a strong subversive counterpoint for that.