Review of Turok Dinosaur Hunter #2

Turok Dinosaur Hunter #2 (Subscription Variant)Turok Dinosaur Hunter #2 by Greg Pak & Marko Colak

This was one of those series where I was not sure what to expect from the first issue. I have no experience with the original Gold Key tales. As for the Valiant revival, I read the first few issues back in the 90s, but they did not click with me. Honestly, I preferred Valiant’s original characters over the Gold Key ones, and out of that latter group Turok was the least interesting. Still, I picked up the first issue of Dynamite’s re-launch to give Pak’s new approach a try.

What really hooked me with the first issue were the twists that Pak inserted at the end. Up to that point, readers were led to believe that Turok existed in a landscape which was more or less historical. Sure, dinosaurs were rampaging, but given the title that was to be expected. Most of the background was fairly run of the mill. Turok is an outcast, exiled from the tribe as a result of his parents’ being accused of murder. He tries to carve out a bit of sanctuary for himself, only events will not let him. Soon he finds himself, along with one of his former tormentors, watching helplessly as strange men with monstrous beasts seize control of the tribal village. It would seem that the moment of European invasion has arrived.

Except that it is nearly 300 years too early. The year is not 1492, but 1210. In place of Spanish explorers, these are British knights. In issue 2, Pak continues laying the groundwork for his alternate history. We learn that the dinosaurs were brought by the knights, who have long used them in their conquests. Marion, the daughter of the English commander, has illustrations of the warriors conquering The Holy Land while astride dinosaurs. Indeed, back in Europe, Britain is known as The Land of the Dragon Knights. This is an intriguing concept, and I look forward to seeing how Pak explores it further.

In addition to the backstory, Pak continues to develop his characters as well. For example, there is Marion. She is introduced as a voice of reason, convincing her father that there is no point in torturing the natives if they cannot understand the English tongue. So, she is charged with Kita, the chief’s niece, in the hopes that more peaceful means might reveal where all the gold is hidden. (In many ways, the knights are not that dissimilar to the historical Conquistadors.) I enjoyed watching these two women play off each other, neither understanding the words of the other. Pak seems to be setting up a couple of different paths Marion’s character might take, and it will be interesting to see which she adopts.

Finally, Colak continues to provide strong images for Pak story. I had not seen his work before this series, but immediately became a fan of his. He has a strong, dynamic style, which fits well with this series. While I was mixed on the first issue, I found that the second was uniformly stronger. I shall definitely be picking up future installments.

Cheers  


 

Review of Loki Agent of Asgard #2

Loki Agent Of Asgard #2Loki Agent of Asgard #2 by Al Ewing & Lee Garbett

Whoever got the job of following Kieron Gillen on Loki was going to have their work cut out for them. For three years, Gillen guided the reborn Kid Loki on a series of quests and adventures which deeply endeared him to a legion of readers, myself included. All good things must end, and Gillen relinquished the Saga of Loki Laufeyson (now aged to a young man) to other hands. Now, I have always loved Marvel’s depiction of Loki. As a kid, I would buy Thor comics that Loki appeared in, then ignore the issues he was not. So, I was naturally curious what Loki’s next chapter would be like. I bought issue one, liked parts of it, yet overall found it lacking. It felt as though Ewing was trying too hard for whimsy. Still, I rarely give up on a series after a single issue. I gave Loki another try this month and found it on much firmer footing.

This issue finds Loki making the rounds at an evening’s speed dating. He pauses at one table to chat with a charming-though-blunt young lady Verity. This encounter gives Loki a chance to explain his current status quo, and by extension, the premise of the series. Loki and Verity have an easygoing rapport, which allows their conversation to feel natural, instead of a device for exposition. I suspect that Ewing is setting up Verity’s character for later use in the series. On one hand, this contrast might be a bit obvious (the twist involving Verity is foreshadowed by her name), yet I hope that Ewing can avoid such pitfalls. Based on what I read this week, I have a good feeling about it.    

As for Loki’s actual mission, he has been charged with tracking down Lorelei, the wayward sister of The Enchantress. (Hmm, the same week that Lorelei pops up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., she surfaces in a comic I’m reading? Synergy, gotta love it). Watching him trail Lorelei, along with her attempted heist of a Monte Carlo casino, makes for a good story. Again, I feel as though this plotline is setting up story elements to last longer than a single issue. At the same time, however, it has the satisfactory feeling of a one-and-down tale. Most importantly, the tone clicks much better this installment. The humor no longer feels forced. Unlike the first issue, this does not feel like Ewing trying to copy the voice of another writer, but craft his own vision for this next stage in Loki’s story.

I have been a fan of Lee Garbett’s art since he worked on the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series. After that he did strong work for Valiant, particularly on X-O Manowar. His talent continues to impress on this titles. There is one page giving the background on Lorelei, which has a flavor of Alan Davis to it.

Sometimes, it takes a second issue for a series to find its footing and reveal its true voice. That was definitely the case this week with Loki. Where after Issue 1 I was lackluster about continuing, now I am looking forward to the next installment.

Cheers

Review of Swamp Thing #29

Swamp Thing #29By Charles Soule and Jesus Saiz

This week we end our Swamp Thing with Alec Holland losing control of the avatar body pointing towards the future conflict of the reluctant botanist turned sort of Superhero having to get back to his role as avatar of the green. If this sounds familiar for you that’s because it’s also the base plot of the previous arc. When I say “redundancy” in post New 52 DC superhero comics this is what I’m talking about. Sure the circumstances are different but it’s the same plot point at it’s core. Charles Soule although relatively new to comics is better then this. Or at lest I hope he’s better then this and the rest of the story will have more to offer but after two issues of set up, set up that was very well done mind you, just to get to the same plot point as the previous arc is disappointing to say the least. Jesus Saiz is consistent as ever and there is some interesting world building on the part of he and Soule but again to what end? There is more to Swamp Thing than being Swamp Thing as Alan Moore already proved over 25 years ago. Now it’s time for this book to realize that and move on to new adventures.  I love the guy but in spite of the title it has to be about something more then just being Swamp Thing. Why spend so much time building the outer world if their not going to use it?

Review of The Darkness: Viscous Traditions

download (6)by Alex Kot and Dean Ormston

One of the best parts of seeing Ales Kot grow as a writer has been watching him learn to apply his aesthetic to short single issue or little bottle stories especially when it’s in a long running comics mythology. The Darkness Viscous Traditions continues that streak as Kot flexes a lot of the same muscles that he uses on Zero for this micro story about a nomadic German tribe fighting off a fleet from the Roman Empire. It’s mostly told from the internal monologue of a freshly resurrected Darkness avatar thats fighting on the side of the Visigoths against the Roman Empire. While this is Darkness in name it pretty much stops at a soldier being resurrected so those looking for little snake demons are in for a disappointment. In it’s place we get a short singular story about a small group fighting off a larger week and bloated army. It is brutal and graphic but that serves it’s purpose for the narrative.  Dean Ormston of titles like Judge Dredd and Lucifer is an illustrator I’m not familiar with and he does just fine but this is ultimately a comic where the writers idea is what’s most important. War is disgusting, random, cyclical and it never ends. Maybe you can turn a blind eye to it but that won’t stop it and eventually it will come for you if you’re not paying attention.

Review of Veil #1

23944by Greg Rucka and Toni Fejzula

In Veil veteran writer Greg Rucka and artist Toni Fejzula start with a cold open mystery and leave the reader with more questions and no answers by  the issue’s conclusion. In it we are introduced to a naked full grown woman waking up in an abandoned subway station with just a little bit more memory then she has clothes. She vocally identifies a rat and then begins rhyming that with other random words as she steps out of the train stop into the seedy side of town much to the surprise and delight of the various hoods and perverts that make up the foot traffic. Rucka is similar to Mark Waid in being one of the great comic writers of our time that’s never showy about it. He has a workmanlike approach to story telling that fit’s into any mold but tends to skew darker on some level. While he’s as versatile as any writer out there with iconic runs on everything from Detective Comics, Wonder Woman, Superman, 52, Wolverine, The Punisher and a host of outstanding creator owned work he always feel most at home in the dark gritty modern urban dystopia familiar to readers of his seminal Gotham Central of which Veil is firmly grounded in and although the element of supernatural is introduced in the final pages it is still largely a mystery by issues end. Toni Fejzula creates an excellent illustration that feels like a darker more open take on Kevin O’Neils work with color and shading that accurately reflects the decay hiding under the flashing neon lights of Veils setting. His panels are partially shown through the vision of the protagonist as she wakes to a world she doesn’t understand and partially focused in on her place in the world around her. Though thematically almost polar opposites Veil is similar to Lazarus with a promising opening premise that gives just enough to intrigue by only showing the tip of the iceberg. There’s a fully formed world ready to be dove into. The first issue is worth the plunge.

Review of She-Hulk #2

by Charles Soule and Javier Pulido

This has easily become my favorite Soule book.

The story: Jennifer has started up her own law firm and faces some obstacles getting it running. She meets some colorful new characters and sees an old friend, Hellcat. The two have some drinks, and crash an A.I.M hideout. The fight ends somewhat cliched, and I feel alittle dark for the She-Hulk character. Aside from that, the story maintains the high standard set by the last issue.

The art: Javier Pulido infuses each page with the Pop Art flavor that was so prevalent in the 60s at Marvel. This makes seeing the pages a treat as the energy almost flows off the page. The colors, the layouts, all remind the reader of a vibrant era of art in comics without feeling old or dated.

All in all; another great issue of She-Hulk. This issue builds to the next with Jennifer receiving a surprising and high profile client at the end who is sure to cause her problems beyond the next issue. However; for $2.99 this is a book that is worth the price of admission and I look forward to next month’s issue. If you missed last month’s, hop on here and enjoy the ride.

Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent.

Review of Green Lantern #29

by Robert Venditti and Philip Tan

War has been laid at the GL Corps’ feet, and now they plan the counter attack.

The story: Hal says goodbye for now to his family on Earth and heads out into Space to shore up resources as the head of the Corps. He organizes an advising council, and strikes at a factory producing ring-draining tech.

The art: Philip Tan continues to impress on this title. He excels at conveying action and tension in his characters, and his panel layout shows some experimentation using circular and square close-ups on character’s faces. The environments also look expansive and majestic and the cities huge and industrial.

All in all; another good issue of GL that teases the coming war between the GL Corps and the various races that have united to destroy them.

Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent.

Review of Action Comics #29

Action Comics #29by Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder

Action Comics continues it’s excellent story on the young Superman as he deals with a race of underground monster by building an intricately complex but more over extremely heartfelt narrative for the character. Pak continues to add details and actors to the plot while still maintaining a narrative at breakneck speed. It’s exciting for the pacing and enticing for the world building; things that most comic writers can only do one of. While it’s easy to exert feelings out of the reader by using cute fluffy beings like Pak and Kuder do here that doesn’t make it unearned as it’s fully realized here. It doesn’t hurt that Pak is a master at exerting complicated feeling from the young brash Superman that we were promised when Morrison launched this title. He manages to expertly balance the emotional scope of him as young man like nobody has before and that in and of itself is worth the price of admission in my book. Art wise what can I say about Kuder, the guy is just amazing. He does wonderful illustrations that are equal parts imaginative, detailed and wholly unique. He is about as close to Frank Quitely as can be without it feeling like imitation. Overall another fantastic issue in what’s become a must read series. It really doesn’t get any better then this.

Review of Black Science #4

dec130562Black Science #4  By Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera

What can I say?  Black Science.  Another visual clinic from Matteo Scalera and Dean White.  Another well paced issue from Rick Remender.  This team is putting together a real special book.  Issue #4 begins highlighting military character Ward.  Ward, Kadir and Shawn are trying to kidnap a Shaman and get him back to Grant before the next jump.  It is a race against the clock and as I found out at a young age all great action movies have a clock.  No one can draw a frantic chase better than Scalera.  The first half of the book is high paced action packed intensity.  At the centerfold of the issue there is a blank white page, which is perfectly placed.  At this point in the story I need a breather.  I need to stop and just process everything that happened.  I really enjoyed the early inner monologue of Ward.  I like getting into each character’s head and figuring out what makes them tick.  Ward shows us that he is a loyal soldier who would risk his own life to save Grant’s.  The opening line of the book from Ward says it all, “To get through a war, a man needs something bigger than himself to fight for.”

After the centerfold our characters wake up in a new dimension where it appears things will cool down for a bit.  There are no aggressive species trying to harm them.  The plan is to find some technology that will help them mend the sabotaged pillar.  Just when we think we might have a good idea what is going on Remender gives us all the last page masked man cliff hanger.  Who is the man behind the mask and how does he know the team.  I guess we will have to wait until the end of March to find that one out.  A terrific ride in a terrific book.