WITH THE NEW YEAR COMES NEW COMICS!
The first comics of the new year are out! Which pulls did we make from the racks?
SAVAGE DRAGON #241
Writer – Erik Larsen
Artist – Erik Larsen
Cover Price – $3.99
This is one of Image’s longest running comics! I wanted to drop in and see where it stands!
I’m a pretty forgiving person when it comes to narratives, however I am just lost here. There are a few recent storylines that are key in knowing why the characters are doing what they are doing. To Larsen’s credit, he does add annotations to prior issues you need to pick up. In the meantime, there are so many people in so many kinds of emotional turmoil, I don’t even know where to begin. The Dragon’s current wife seems to have regressed in age a bit, his ex-girlfriend is apparently on the prowl, and his friends are hard to understand in this single issue.
The art is just as I remember it in the ’90s. Erik Larsen prefers his lines very thick and scratchy, which can muddle pictures fast. Additionally, his characters can be very inconsistent from panel to panel. Dragon’s wife seems to be of late teen age, although I don’t know if that is intentional. Larsen’s character proportions are also very ’90s. His male protagonists are almost hilariously beefy and his women are lanky, if not Barbie-like.
It is difficult to recommend this comic. You have to already be a long-term reader to understand what you are looking at.
MAN WITHOUT FEAR #1
Writer – Jed MacKay
Artist – Danilo Beyruth
Cover Price – $3.99
This miniseries takes on a difficult challenge. This aims to redefine Daredevil and modernize his context.
While a lot of this issue happens in Matt Murdock’s subconscious, Jed MacKay has still put together a good script. His follow up to the Death of Daredevil storyline asks the right questions about the concept of a “man without fear” without belittling it. Moreover, the quiet moments of Foggy Nelson speaking to a comatose Murdock are poignant and add a new view to what it is like co-existing with Daredevil. By the end of this issue, I feel like I have a better understanding of Murdock and his inner circle.
The art by Danilo Beyruth is not a home run. Beyruth’s lines are generally thin while his detail can be scratchy line work to imply gradients. Daredevil can often look like a man without skin in his art. Meanwhile, his faces are expressive, although they do tend to hit an “uncanny valley” point in my mind where they don’t always appear human. I am willing to give him the length of this mini to see if he settles into the characters, however, I am not a fan within this issue.
Despite its flaws, I do think this is a solid start. Man Without Fear can go a long way to making Daredevil both incredible and relatable.
BATMAN BEYOND #27
Writer – Dan Jurgens
Artist – Brett Booth
Cover Price – $3.99
The infamous cartoon about the Batman of the future has had trouble locking down a successful comic book run. Where does it stand now?
Dan Jurgens is walking a fine line trying to hold true to the original cartoon while still forging a new path for Batman Beyond. He is mostly successful here. The voices of the characters are very familiar to older fans without alienating newer readers. The characters are vibrant, although they can feel a bit one dimensional in this comic. Additionally, Jurgens drops bits of exposition into the dialogue that helps crystallize the current stories and statuses. Meanwhile, it can make characters spout lines that do not entirely sound like human speech. It is a bit of give and take, although is it necessary?
Brett Booth is another artist from the 1990s. However, his art has evolved to better match the times. His characters used to be excessively lanky, but he has fleshed out his proportions well. Moreover, Booth uses thick outer and finer lines for detail. His characters are expressive, although the faces can be a bit bizarre, with facial details shifting placement for different emotions and angles. Booth is close to a modern stylistic breakout. Meanwhile, his action is crisp with the melee fighting being both shocking and powerful.
Reading this comic is like watching the Batman Beyond cartoon. Every time it is about to slide into a cheesy area, it veers back into a surprisingly entertaining story.
PICK OF THE WEEK
Writer – Mairghread Scott
Artist – Paul Pelletier
Cover Price – $3.99
I’m never sure if Batgirl gets the respect she deserves. This comic outlines many of the reasons why she should be a more prominent feature in DC.
Mairghread Scott’s writing has captured all of the ways Barbara Gordon is unusual in her universe. She is a combination of smart, compassionate, fun-loving, and energetic while still taking the weight of the stress in those around her. The dialogue in this comic is exceptional. The characters speak naturally with a vigor that can be missing from other series. In addition, the story is well summarized in exposition boxes, letting readers catch up quickly.
Paul Pelletier’s art is like an updated Alan Davis. The art has a throwback feel without any of the stiffness. Meanwhile, the action has a lot of energy and moves decently. However, some of the landing poses can feel a little awkward or too staged. The character faces have a lot of expression to them and strongly convey what they are feeling. The overall linework leans towards thin with solid black shadows and gradient lines for finer detail. There are times that certain things are a bit over-exaggerated, however, that is a nitpick.
Additionally, this is a comic that reflects a lot of the current political and social strife in the United States today. It is a fascinating microcosm of the differing views within friends and family, and how they can affect those around us. Some people do not like it when the real world intersects their entertainment. I enjoy a view of what happens when a bit of the fantastic is introduced, and what effect it has on the world.
Scott and Pelletier are a solid team and have made the usual feel refreshing and new. Additionally, Batgirl #30 is the first issue of a new arc. It is worth seeing it through.
What was your first comic of the New Year? Let us know in the comments below! Meanwhile, we have added a link to our comic news and reviews podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!