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Doctor Strange #9 - Marvel Comics
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DVS Gaming reviews the latest comics of the week!  Which comic is our Pick of the Week?

Shazam #1 - DC Comics
DC Comics

SHAZAM #1
DC Comics

Writer – Geoff Johns
Artist – Dale Eaglesham
Cover Price – $4.99

The first Captain Marvel has returned to DC Comics!  How is he presented in the Rebirth era?

Geoff Johns is the man who successfully brought Hal Jordan back for great new stories, however, I am not seeing the same kind of magic in Billy Baston’s tales… yet. We are given a quick introduction to Billy, his adopted family, and the modern Captain Marvel, Jr., Mary Marvel, and others.  Moreover, the only characters whose personalities come through are Billy and Freddy Freeman’s.  The others are given less dialogue, so we do not have a sense of them outside of one-dimensional archetypes.  Meanwhile, Shazam’s origin is glossed over in the first pages, therefore I don’t know if much of it has changed for DC’s Rebirth continuity.

Shazam #1 - DC Comics
Shazam #1 – DC Comics

Dale Eaglesham’s art can be a bit frustrating because I can see what he is going for, but he does not quite get there.  Eaglesham’s overall line work is thin, his detail is sharp, and his backgrounds have depth.  However, his characters’ faces yanked me away from Johns’ writing.  A lot of his characters can have faces that appear smug or drunken.  It is like he chose the wrong reference photos more often than the right ones.  The action also has some flow problems and can require a second look from panel to panel.

I can see the potential in this story and Johns’ version of Shazam, although it is not a good jump in point.  This issue is written more for people who bought the older Shazam series instead of an introduction to new readers.

Doctor Strange #9 - Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

DOCTOR STRANGE #9
Marvel Comics

Writer – Mark Waid
Artist – Jesus Saiz
Cover Price – $3.99

Doctor Strange is not the most grounded hero in Marvel.  This issue goes a long way in correcting that problem.

Mark Waid is terrific at finding unique stories for established characters, and he works more of that magic here.  His dialogue has pop without the pretentiousness, quips, and cliches that can burden comics.  Meanwhile, this issue shows how Strange interacts with his neighbors in both normal and fantastic ways.  Moreover, it shows why Doctor Strange is so entrenched at his home address.  This issue felt like a TV show’s mid-season for-fun fill-in episode, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Doctor Strange #9 - Marvel Comics
Doctor Strange #9 – Marvel Comics

Jesus Saiz should be working on Marvel’s event comics because his art has very few downsides.  His Strange is a fittingly lithe man.  Meanwhile, he uses blacks sparingly, although effectively to for shade and shadows.  Saiz has a great technique for magical effects and his mystical creatures run the gamut from cute to intimidating to nightmarish.  However, sometimes, his human characters’ faces can be a bit stiff.  That is a nitpick in an otherwise very solid issue.

I do not generally read magic-based comics, although Waid and Saiz have made me a believer.  This issue, in particular, is a great one to show to new and old fans, and a great entry point into Doctor Strange’s adventures and power.

Prodigy #1 - Image Comics
Image Comics

PRODIGY #1
Image Comics

Writer – Mark Millar
Artist – Rafael Albuquerque
Cover Price – $3.99

The creator of Kick-Ass has another original character published, although this one is a very different flavor.

Mark Millar has a unique view of characters in comic books and he extends that range with this comic. Millar’s characters can seem a bit cliche on the surface, however, and the nuance of his creations begins to seep through about halfway through this issue. The dialogue here is all about world-building, therefore it can seem a bit by the numbers and dry. Millar makes up for that by making a character that makes fast decisions and an interesting puzzle that builds through the latter pages.

Prodigy #1 - Image Comics
Prodigy #1 – Image Comics

Rafael Albuquerque’s art can be a bit inconsistent.  There are pages where the art is extremely polished and others where it feels rushed.  The characters in this book are expressive with a bit of a European cartoon-like flourish.  I think that this issue overuses blacks.  Characters can appear to be awash in shadows and it makes the book look murky.  However, this issue isn’t ugly.  It will take a while to get used to the unusual visuals.

I am interested in the development of Prodigy’s story. Meanwhile, I have hopes that this series can overcome a lot of its stereotypical beginnings.  Only time will tell if this grows into another memorable series.

Die #1 - Image Comics
Image Comics

PICK OF THE WEEK
DIE #1
Image Comics

Writer – Kieron Gillen
Artist – Stephanie Hans
Cover Price – $3.99

This kind of story can go very wrong very quickly.  However, this comic goes the other way.

Kieron Gillen has amassed a reputation for his writing and he adds to it with this original story.  He effectively uses exposition in a way that adds to the dialogue and gives the characters full voices before the story goes into second gear late in the issue.  Additionally, the characters are well described to the point of feeling like real people in over their heads.  The dialogue is a bit slow, although these are normal people in extraordinary circumstances.  Do not look for the quip-a-minute beats of other comics and companies here.

Die #1 - Image Comics
Die #1 – Image Comics

The art is by Stephanie Hans.  Her art is good for the story.  She prefers a painted style that comes with some proportion problems.  Characters can look square and the perspective makes some limbs look short. Meanwhile, Hans’ work is much better at character’s faces.  Their expressions are nuanced and have small touches that bring them to emotional life.  Overall, Hans’ work has a European style and feel to it, which matches the comic’s early setting in England.

Die #1 - Image Comics
Die #1 – Image Comics

This comic lays some impressive groundwork in a busy 32 pages.  Meanwhile, the ending is as shocking as it is disturbing, and I look forward to more.  If the other issues are as strong as this one, Die may be the kind of story that works well as a limited series on Netflix.

Did you read any issues you think were special this week?  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 11/28/18

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