REVIEWS OF THIS WEEK’S COMICS!
Comic reviews by the Part Time Henchmen! Do these comics add to your collection?
Writer – Jason Aaron
Artist – Mike del Mundo
Price – $5.99
With Jane Foster out of the role of Thor, it is up to the Odinson to one again be the God of Thunder. Though, can he do it without Mjolnir? Kind of…
Jason Aaron from his consistent run with this cluster of characters (pre-Jane and post-Jane) has the voices of these characters down pat. Thor sounds appropriately courageous and confident. Loki’s voice is a mix of mischief and misgivings. You’ll see a lot of “thee’s” and “thine’s” in this book, however, the dialogue does not bog itself down in affected accents. Also, the characters feel like the dust has been kicked off them, making them fresher and, if possible, more relatable than before.
The art, though, was a rough sticking point for me. Del Mundo has a painted style I would call overly-sharp. There isn’t much by the way of inking and colors don’t blend for shading, so much as overlap in solid colors, making a palette that does fit the other-worldly characters. At the same time, the art can look like coloring I remember doing with crayons in coloring books. I would call the art as distracting as it is beautiful.
Some new readers may be turned off by the large price tag that comes with a book that is larger because of a side story at the end that involves the last form of the Phoenix and its host. This is also the latest chapter in an ongoing story, so I wouldn’t say it is a good place for new readers to pick up the stories of Thor. This book is fair, but it’s not a masterstroke.
Awaken Skies #1
Writers – Frank Mastromauro
Artist – Marco Lorenzana
Price – $1.50
I thought I would roll the dice on this inexpensive preview issue and see what was new from Aspen Comics. And I have a mixed opinion about it.
The writing in the book isn’t bad, although I do not think 13 pages of story is enough to fully gage it. I was able to suss out where the story of this series began well enough. With that said, I do not understand what the potential villains are after, nor why there is a network of people safeguarding the digital McGuffin of the book.
The art left me with the same feeling. The bodies have appropriate ratios and there’s enough detail to understand characters approximate ages. Sometimes, the amount of detail shifted so the same character would look different ages in one one page. I will give a reasonable caveat in that this series is just getting started and the Lorenzana needs time to settle into the characters.
There should be a clearer idea as to what readers could expect from Awaken Skies. After reading Issue #0, I will read Issue #1. I haven’t seen enough to give it a spot in my pull list… yet.
Writer – Robert Venditti
Artist – Bryan Hitch
Price – $3.99
When comic fans talk about Hawkman, he often holds a place of esteem somewhere just above Aquaman and far below the Martian Manhunter. This comic is looking to change that perception by making him something he has not been since the ‘80’s… A thinker.
Robert Venditti did for Hawkman what Geoff Johns did for Aquaman, which is he made the character INTERESTING! Hawkman isn’t growling and punching through problems anymore and is measuring his steps carefully. While there is a near-annoying amount of exposition through monologue, it does not drag down the story and the entire issue sets up a series-spanning mystery and mission that is threatening albeit vague. That is a hard balance to strike, although Venditti pulled it off with style.
The art was a perfect compliment for this adventuring archaeologist of a Hawkman. Bryan Hitch knows how to craft images of superheroes doing the unbelievable. He has an uncanny talent to make characters look oddly normal and simultaneously striking. I wouldn’t expect less from the man who helped designed Marvel’s Ultimates and Wildstorm’s Authority. Hitch is still on top of his game.
You could tell from the outset, I was skeptical on this comic. By the end of the issue, I was intrigued and wanted to know more about what the main character was going to do and face. In the end, that’s exactly what you want from a first issue; a reason to buy the second issue.
PICK OF THE WEEK
The Magic Order #1
Writer – Mark Millar
Artist – Oliver Copiel
Price – $3.99
This series has had ads running for months in different publications and trailers on Netflix. Someone has a high opinion of what this story could do for their company and reputation. The Magic Order works hard to be worthy of its advertising.
The creator of Kick-Ass has crafted a new creator-owned story that doesn’t sound remarkable. It revolves around magicians who spend their time defending our reality from mystical extra-normal threats. I like to say that the execution matters, and Millar is a terrific example of that philosophy.
Early in the comic, there is a gruesome, nightmarish murder that seems like it could have been pulled from a cable TV show. That feel, that the lives of the Order are under constant threat, is pervasive. The characters have just enough dialogue to lay out their personas and drives and setting up the story for future issues. Millar is one of the best at setting up characters with limited exposition.
Oliver Copiel has worked on a number of acclaimed stories. You cannot underestimate his contribution to those books, or this one. As I read this book, I noted that Copiel’s art was fittingly dark. He uses thick shadows to add more depth than you find in most comic books. The shadows add weight to the tone of despair in a lot of scenes. He uses light cross-hatching to add gradients and compliment the colorist’s work. If you are interested in comic books as a career, Copiel’s work is an excellent beginning point to study.
The Magic Order has to be brave. It started its story in a world that already knows Harry Potter and the Magicians. It has to feel different from either of those stories, meanwhile in 27 pages, it establishes itself as very unlike either, yet worthy to stand with them. If Netflix does not make a show out of this series, someone else should and fast.