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Magic the Gathering - Chandra #1 - Image Comics
Definitely "too hot to handle!"

THE LATEST COMIC BOOKS ARE OUT AND WE’RE RUNNING LOW ON EGGNOG!

With Christmas looming, we prefer to kick back with some visual entertainment!  Which comics belong at the top of the pile?

Magic the Gathering - Chandra #1 - Image Comics
Image Comics

MAGIC THE GATHERING – CHANDRA #1
IDW Comics

Writer – Vita Ayala
Artist – Harvey Tolibao
Cover Price – $3.99

My wife is a HUGE Magic: The Gathering fan.  Me… not so much.  It doesn’t mean I won’t read this issue to see if it is a story I like!

Vita Ayala is the writer of this issue and she has a pretty good start.  She balances dialogue, exposition, and action to make Chandra into a dynamic hero who made a simple choice to be where she is.  Meanwhile, Chandra is challenged in ways that allow her to show off her power and adaptability.  A section of the comic is a bit slow because not every moment can be an action scene.  However, it does serve to ground the character a bit.

Magic the Gathering - Chandra #1 - Image Comics
Magic the Gathering – Chandra #1 – Image Comics

Harvey Tolibao is a new name to me.  With that said, he has a lot of potential.  His character detail is good, using thin line work, and he does not overwhelm his images with scratchy lines or blacks.  Moreover, his action has a terrific flow from panel to panel.  There are a couple of complaints.  Specifically, there are times that his images are very busy and visually distracting.  Additionally, his human faces can be a bit lifeless and lack an emotional punch. However, these are items to improve on, not necessarily problems.

This comic actually intrigues me more than I thought, especially since, as I laid out in the last review, I generally do not go for magic-based stories.  Perhaps this is the series that inspires me to buy some Magic cards?  Not likely, but I will not rule out the possibility.

X-Men Red #11 - Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

X-MEN RED #11
Marvel Comics

Writer – Tom Taylor
Artist – Roge Antonio
Cover Price – $3.99

This is the last of the X-Men series to close as a result of Marvel’s revamp of the X-line of comics.  I am sad to see it go.

I had a chance to meet Tom Taylor at San Diego Comic-Con 2018, and he deserves a lot of credit for this series.  The last issue continues Taylor’s strong characterization.  Meanwhile, the characters have to make tough snap decisions that Taylor frames without losing sight of any character’s strengths or weaknesses.  Moreover, this issue perfectly sums up why Jean Grey will be the X-Men’s leader into the Uncanny X-Men series.

X-Men Red #11 - Marvel Comics
X-Men Red #11 – Marvel Comics

Roge Antiono is not the artist who began this series.  His work has some inconsistency.  The number of detail shifts from page to page.  Additionally, overall his work lacks detail in the characters, preferring to show contours and gradients through a set of sketchy lines that can be mistaken for grime on a person’s costume.  Meanwhile, his characters can be boxy in the frame and the proportions are a bit bulgy and square.  On a second look, Antonio’s art drops detail when more characters are in a panel.  It is an odd problem.  With that said, Antonio has the potential to be a good artist in the future.

We have lost the X-Men Blue, X-Men Gold, and now the X-Men Red to recreate the Uncanny X-Men.  Of all of these series, I only mourn for X-Men Red.  This series has a positive message and a wildly diverse and interesting cast.  In addition to all of that, this series puts the X-Men back in the thick of the Marvel Universe.

The Batman Who Laughs #1 - DC Comics
DC Comics

THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #1
DC Comics

Writer – Scott Snyder
Artist – JOCK
Cover Price – $3.99

DC is trying to position the Dark Multiversal Bruce Wayne as a new major villain.  Does this new series further that mission?

Scott Snyder is the writer on most of DC’s most recent events.  I have not been able to find an example of his writing I enjoy and this comic continues that trend.  There is no character progression here.  Batman, Alfred, the Batman Who Laughs and more are exactly as they have been in prior comics.  Meanwhile, the story appears to ignore a lot of what is happening in other DC series, including Batman’s current status with Commissioner Gordon.  Snyder has a habit of ignoring other storylines in favor of his own narratives.

The Batman Who Laughs #1 - DC Comics
The Batman Who Laughs #1 – DC Comics

JOCK is the artist.  I am not a fan of their work.  The art is very square and lacking in fine detail.  There is extremely little detail in a lot of the images.  The artist prefers to use thick blacks in the place of contouring and detail work.  This makes the art very flat and dark.  However, the physical action has some dynamic flow.  Unfortunately, this issue’s action relies a lot on gunplay.  It sometimes takes a second look to see which direction the artist is showing a bullet flying.

Snyder’s comics tend to start strong and lose direction midway through an event.  However, in this case, the comic is starting very slow and by the numbers.  Additionally, it presents a mystery that may already have a solution.  It isn’t a good place to jump in or to continue the stories of the DC Universe.

The Magic Order #5 - Image Comics
Image Comics

PICK OF THE WEEK
THE MAGIC ORDER #5
Image Comics

Writer – Mark Millar
Artist – Olivier Copiel
Cover Price – $3.99

I know.  I wrote above I generally do not like magic-based comics.  No matter what genre it is, I like strong writing and this series has that and more.

Mark Millar’s writing continues to be powerful.  These characters are as human as they are incredible.  The scenario has built well from issue to issue.  Moreover, there is a twist in this issue that may be predictable to some.  However, it is done with such flourish and drama, it still has a hefty emotional punch.  Meanwhile, this is not an issue to jump into the story.  The story has advanced a lot in five issues with one to go before this volume ends.

The Magic Order #5 - Image Comics
The Magic Order #5 – Image Comics

Olivier Copiel is a fantastic artist.  He balances details exceptionally well, using lines sparingly, but effectively.  His characters have expressions that convey a lot of emotion.  Additionally, characters from the same family have enough differing details to be easily recognizable.  Copiel also has a delicate balance of blacks and detail work.  His art creates a very dense and heavy ambiance that is perfect for this story.

The Magic Order #5 - Image Comics
The Magic Order #5 – Image Comics

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the unusual mechanics in this comic.  The use of magic is sparing, therefore its impact is maximized.  When a character is tortured through the use of written books, it has a near horror-like feel.  In addition, Millar has created a rich world that has the potential for a lot more stories and adventures.

This story is amazing.  It is an emotional thriller combined with a family drama and it all works.  Copiel’s art meshes with the tone and everything merges to a memorable story.  Do not skip this comic!

Which comics do you read when you relax?  Let us know in the comments below!  Meanwhile, here is a link to our comic news and reviews podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 12/5/18

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 11/28/18