By Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes, Michel Fiffe, Benjamin Marra, Kano, Joe Bennett, Belardino Brabo, Jay Fabares, Pete Pantazis & Jose Villarrubia
Bloodshot has never been one of Valiant’s more lighthearted characters. He is a ruthless killer, who in the past has often possessed more firearms than personality. Recently, however, the character has been deepening. This shift has largely due to writer Jeff Lemire, first in The Valiant (co-written with Matt Kindt), then in the current ongoing series Bloodshot Reborn. For Reborn, Lemire has plunged Bloodshot into full angst mood, as he debates whether he is fated to live a savagely violent life. Along the way, Lemire has tossed in some lighthearted asides, particularly in #5’s Bloodsquirt centric issue. For the most part though, the mood has remained solemn. That ambiance (mostly) shifts for the annual, however, as Lemire and his collaborators fully embrace their wacky side. The result are some fun stories which offer fans something different while not altering the essential nature of the character.
The key to anthology series is always the creative teams. When it’s any old writer/artist combo, it’s mostly forgettable. But when you get the right combination of creative alchemy, the out of continuity stories can be amazing and that’s what you get from Guardians Team Up #8 from it’s two emerging talents mini space opera.
Guardians Team Up #8 is written by Ray Fawkes who has slowly been circling around different DC & Marvel ongoings for the last couple years and illustrated by emerging star art talent Bengal for a breathtaking single issue silent story about Groot & Silver Surfer trying in vain to save one of the latters species before catastrophe. Guardians Team Up #8 eschews dialogue until the very final page but the story is sound and the visuals are awe inspiring, Fawkes plots out an issue that jumps right into the action before it’s harrowing ending while managing to highlight character traits via Groot & Silver Surfers decisions. Bengal is amazing, this is an artist that was born to do space opera. It’s rich in detail, dynamic in movement and unpredictably exciting. If you haven’t yet, get familiar with Bengal, because he’s going to be big.
It’s the sum total of it’s elements that creates a strange magic in Guardians Team Up #8 and makes for one of the best single issues in 2015. Equal parts exciting, awe inspiring and heartfelt, it is a near perfect example of single issue Marvel cosmic comic.
Oni press has announced their publishing slate for 2014 and beyond with new creator owned titles from Jeff Parker of Aquaman, Batman ’66, Thunderbolts and Hulk Ray Fawkes of Constantine, One Soul and Justice League Dark Paul Tobin of Amazing Spiderman, Spider Girl, The Age of Sentry, Hulk and Conan the Barbarian among others while publishing continuations and spin offs from Greg Rucka’s Stump Town Cullen Bunn’s The Sixth Gun and Helheim. More details at Comic Bastard
Brother Eye is the property of DC Comics, and is used here in a not-for-profit fan parody review. The opinions expressed above are the opinions of the author, and not DC Comics.
Wolverines feels like an amalgam of several different books that never finds the right alchemy of the different style to make it interesting. In it we are shown an eight person team of Wolverine related Marvel characters like Daken, X-23 or Mystique mixed with a cast of new creations for writer Charles Soule’s Weapon X series. This is problematic right from the jump as the reader is jumped into the story without having any clear reason for what’s happening or why the reader should care about what’s happening to these people. I’m sure if I read Logan’s Legacy & Weapon X that would be explained but if you are sticking a new #1 on the book I shouldn’t have to read those books to understand this one. Furthermore lot’s of comics have done great work with the cold open style especially lot’s of recent Marvel comics. I don’t think anybody needs to have read the rest of Remenders Captain America to understand All New Captain America which does a similar thing in dropping the reader right into the story because that comic is exciting in and of itself. Wolverines meanders though much of it’s opening and then never really goes anywhere with the plot. It feels like they are going for a Transformers vs GI Joe vibe here but it reads like a Marvel book in the New 52 style with boring writing and a cheesy “extreme” conclusion that falls flat. Artist Nick Bradshaw is one of the better Marvel illustrators but his style works best when being done on more lighthearted comics like early Wolverine & The X-Men. Here it feels weirdly stiff and uninspired. Wolverines is an example of stretching the intial Death Of Wolverine storyline way too thin as it’s both convoluted and boring. We all know the character died a few months ago but Wolverines shows that the concept needs to be put to bed as well.
DC Comics continues to revamp it’s Batman line of comics by introducing new and refreshing concepts to an old legacy character with the debut issue of Gotham By Midnight #1. In it we are shown Jimmy Corrigan, not yet revealed as and maybe never will be The Spectre, as a detective in a special paranormal crimes unit of the Gotham City Police Department. The premise itself is a kind of a genius concept that uses the Gotham Central coneit in a different direction while playing with the underused horror element that’s essential to Batman and anybody that exists within his peripheral. This is my first time reading writer Ray Fawkes of who I’ve heard mixed things about in the past but his writing here is strong overall. There is a pretty ham fisted piece of dialogue in the beginning where an internal affairs investigator that’s looking to shut down Corrigan’s special unit let’s the reader know that by literally saying “I’m here to shut down this unit” to one of Corrigan’s cohorts but other then that it does a good job of character and world building by establishing the players and environment in a way that feels natural and lived in while the plot builds an engaging and unique mystery, in effect establishing the tone and mission statement of the series without beating the reader over the head with it. Ben Templesmith’s unique art style helps in establishing the tone of the book as his trademark dark, dirty and hazy visual story telling is as raw and unsettling as ever. There is literally no one else doing what Templesmith does in comics with his sort of Bill Sienkiewicz colored over rough draft style. His art creates a very specific type of mood and it works seamlessly with the story being told within the book. This is the type of book that Fawkes Constantine should have been and you get the feeling that a couple years ago there would have been no chance of something this interesting, off beat and weird coming out of DC’s superhero comics but as the precedent has shifted we are seeing more and more Bat related books coming out the gate with a fresh and exciting take on the characters and DC Universe. Gotham By Midnight is another strong entry into that group that effortlessly establishes it’s purposes and perspective to great results.