AWE PULLED FRESH COMICS FOR REVIEWS!
It is a light week for comic releases, although there is still a lot to go through! What was the Pick of the Week?
FREEDOM FIGHTERS #2
Writers: Robert Venditti
Artist: Eddy Barrows
Cover Price: $3.99
My usual opinion of the DC’s Freedom Fighters is “dated.” This comic destroys that notion.
While I missed the first issue, the sophomore comic gets you in gear fast. Despite a lack of background, Robert Venditti’s writing easily breaks down each character’s abilities in both exposition and action. I am impressed with how Venditti added a lot of expressive exposition that adds to the oppressive feeling of the world, as well as the valor and resilience of the heroes. The characters aren’t quite fully realized in this comic, although there’s time to get that information to readers.
Eddy Barrows is a name I expect to hear more about in the future. His art is highly expressive and easy to read. Meanwhile, Barrows’ action has so much energy, impact, and flow, I could almost hear the explosions caused by the Human Bomb. Barrows’ line work is almost all thin. In addition, he is careful to use slight lines for gradient detail, thankfully not over-doing the lines to the point of scratchy detail. He is also on that short list of artists that effectively uses black for color and shadow.
Freedom Fighters #2 is the kind of issue that DC could use more of. It effectively makes a classic concept into something that works for a modern audience. It isn’t quite as good as Heroes in Crisis, although it is good enough to be in my pull list until the end of this 12-issue maxi-series.
UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #1
Writers: Ed Brisson
Artist: Carlos Gomez
Cover Price: $4.99
Cyclops has a checkered history. He has made mistakes. Meanwhile, this comic returns him to life and leans into his ability to learn.
Ed Brisson could have ignored a lot of continuity to resurrect the long-time X-Men leader. Instead, Brisson has written a path back to life that runs through several events all the way back to Avengers vs. X-Men. Meanwhile, Cyclops’ actions are measured very carefully to bring the character to his more heroic instincts. Brisson has worked hard to show Cyclops as complex and nuanced without being a perfect hero. It is on the level of what Tom King did for the Vision.
Carlos Gomez worked hard to make his art match the story. He succeeded. From the opening sequence of Cyclops blasting his way out of his grave and crawling out in the rain, he has my respect. His artwork is similar to Pepe Larraz in that the work is slightly cartoonish without getting wacky. Additionally, the detail work is sparse, yet effective. Meanwhile, Gomez did a great job recreating several of Cyclops’ past costumes. He even made Kid Cable very recognizable without being precisely like his predecessor.
If you want context on a central figure of the X-Men, this is your way in. It is a tight, single issue story that re-frames one of the first X-Men, and the one that will lead a new team while most X-Men are tied up in the Age of X.
Writers: Christopher Fielder
Artist: Jordan Gunderson
Cover Price: $3.99
I will not lie. This is not for me.
Even with the synopsis on the credits page, I am very lost reading this issue. I caught up on current events, although I didn’t have any real feel for any characters in this comic. When one character is constantly called “Pirate,” I don’t know if that is a name or a title. There is not much exposition here, however this issue is extremely dialogue heavy for what is supposed to be the third act of an action movie. The flow is pretty minimal.
Meanwhile, the art is by Jordan Gunderson, and he is not my style either. The art is very light on detail and energy. Due to this, the action sequences look like someone crafting a cosplay photo, and not someone in motion. I see the Michael Turner influences here, although it does not come to fruition. I really don’t know what else to say.
Perhaps I will go back and read the beginning of this mini-series to see what is going on. Although, I am not driven to.
PICK OF THE WEEK
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1
Writers: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Cover Price: $4.99
A successful comic book run spawned a successful movie that the comic couldn’t circle back and capitalize on. Now that they have begun again, I think they figured it out.
Donny Cates, the man who wrote a critically praised Spider-Man video game, has taken the inspiration from Dan Abnett’s Guardians of the Galaxy and the Marvel Cinematic version to make something both familiar and strikingly new. The character dialogue is very strong with six Guardians who all are so distinct and different, I don’t even hear Chris Pratt when I read this comic. There is an opening mystery combined with an assault from Knowhere that changes Marvel’s cosmic landscape and introduces a new central villain. It sounds like a new streaming show, but all of that is in one comic.
Geoff Shaw is the perfect partner for Cates’ strong script because he captures the wonder and desolation of space and the various aliens in Marvel’s history. Shaw combines cross-hatching and blacks to put a lot of depth in his work. He uses thick outer lines and thinner detail. His panels can get a bit busy, although he is careful not to overwhelm the comic visually. Additionally, I love the backgrounds in this issue. A lot of the locales seem to jump off the page into fully realized places. The action is frantic with an enormous scale.
I also love the story of the implication of Thanos’ consciousness being uploaded to a new body after his death. This positions Thanos as a sort of “Sword of Damocles” over the Guardians; because, if they find his new host, do they destroy someone to stop a worse evil from coming? It is these types of decisions that can lead to long discussions over long boxes. My favorite kind of discussions.
This comic has it all. Morality. Despair. Incredible saves. Heartbreaking losses. A hunt for a prize. Heroes both valorous and hopeless. And a Cosmic Ghost Rider Frank Castle. The Guardians are gone. Long live the Guardians!
What have you read that we should look at? Let us know in the comments below! In the meantime, enjoy a link to our comic book news and reviews podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!