WE ARE BACK FROM A TRIP TO LONG BEACH COMIC EXPO AND BACK IN THE SADDLE!
We had a great time meeting Margaret Stohl and Gerry Conway, however, we need to get back to the latest comic reviews!
JUSTICE LEAGUE #18
Writers: James Tynion IV
Artist: Pasqual Ferry
Cover Price: $3.99
This comic is one of the occasional issues following events with the Legion of Doom.
James Tynion IV is a good writer when he works on his own stories. Meanwhile, in this issue, he is following up on the work of the regular writer, Scott Snyder. Unfortunately, this puts Tynion in a narrow box while he continues Snyder’s story. He does a good job of filling in on a convoluted story involving the lives of immortals, sleeping gods, and paradoxical doorknobs. The story is clear, although it is a jumble of concepts told through the prism of Lex Luthor to Brainiac in a bizarre, The Room-like trip into Vince Vaughn’s mind.
Pasqual Ferry’s art is adequate. The proportions are solid. There is no measure action in this comic. Meanwhile, the faces in this comic are oddly squashed. A lot of the characters resemble 1920’s wrestlers or boxers. In addition, there are harsh, sharp, angular lines in the detail work. Because of this, people’s faces have extreme creases, as if someone came at them with a knife on a frighteningly regular basis. With all of this, combined with the thick outer lines, characters look like they’re not in the same panels. It pulled me out of the story a lot.
While this is the most informative issue of Justice League in this run, it is largely a recap issue in a very complex narrative. If you are not already a fan of this run, this issue likely won’t change your mind.
JUDGE DREDD: TOXIC #4
Writers: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Marco Castiello
Cover Price: $3.99
I have not read an issue of this mini-series. Can’t let that stop me now!
I read the primer on the credits page, however, that wasn’t altogether clear. Thankfully, Paul Jenkins’ writing filled me in on the story very quickly. The dialogue was decent, although not always easy to follow. There are several bubbles of telepathic conversation that has no indication who is making it, so you may need to re-read it and concentrate a bit to understand who is “speaking.” I wouldn’t call the overall dialogue dynamic, however, this comic has a lot of subtexts that make me think a bit.
Marco Castello has the art duties in this issue. His style is appropriately scratchy for the scenario. Castello’s character work is very good because not only does he add a sense of the ominous, he even adds a “celebrity” visage to one of the main antagonists. You’ll know who it is impersonating as soon as you see it and they are a dead ringer for their real-world counterpart. However, action is necessary for a Judge Dredd story. Moreover, Castello’s action has no flow. From panel to panel, there is no sense of energy or motion. You are left to fill in some major blanks on your own.
The issue is well written and well drawn, although it feels very still and static. I think Dredd will have more interesting stories in IDW. This one just has some visual issues stopping it from being entertaining.
AGE OF X-MAN: THE AMAZING NIGHTCRAWLER #1
Writers: Seanan McGuire
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Cover Price: $3.99
In this alternative reality, the X-Men’s German swashbuckler is the most famous hero in the world!
Seanan McGuire’s writing provides an entire issue of world-building. The issue I have with it is that it’s literally the entire issue. There is no real struggle other than Nightcrawler dealing with his own fame until the final pages of this comic. Additionally, much of the dialogue does not differentiate from character to character. While Nightcrawler is very empathic, he seems to be missing a lot of his charm. That may be attributable to this strange alternative reality the X-Men are trapped in, although it is easy to notice how toned down Wagner feels. The pace of the story is a bit slow as well.
Juan Frigeri’s art does add some spice to this story. The overall style feels a bit retro. It reminds me of some of the 90’s U.S. manga adaptations in comics. Sometimes, character expressions slip into squinty while smiling, although that is a severe nitpick on my part. There are generous, minute details in the art down to Jean Grey’s freckles, and the art style is very clean. Meanwhile, Frigeri’s backgrounds add a lot to the story. Very rarely is there just a plain wall behind the characters in a panel.
If you were to pick up just this issue after an absence from the X-Men comics, you would be justifiably confused on nearly every level. While the Amazing Nightcrawler is an adequate tie-in to the Age of X-Man, it does not stand out so far.
PICK OF THE WEEK
AVENGERS: NO ROAD HOME #2
Writers: Al Ewing, Jim Zub & Mark Waid
Artist: Paco Medina
Cover Price: $3.99
Last week, this 10-issue mini-series started well. This week, it has rocketed to an impressive sophomore issue.
Ewing, Zub, and Waid used the first issue to craft a disturbing worldwide blackout and assembled these makeshift Avengers. In this issue, the Avengers challenge the central villain, Nyx from Greek mythology. While that sounds like a paint-by-numbers scenario, the fight and dialogue solidify Nyx as a threat that could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Loki, Doctor Doom, or the Red Skull as a viable, dangerous threat. The dialogue continues to have distinct flavors from character to character. Moreover, every character from the Hulk to Rocket Raccoon has their attempt to help in this issue. You would think that three writers balancing so many characters would be a mess, however, the flow of this comic is extremely strong.
Meanwhile, Paco Medina’s art is still near the best in the business today. His characters have different body styles and mannerisms that come across very clearly. Moreover, this comic gives us a solid look at Nyx, and her lithe form shifting from opponent to opponent is chilling. Medina’s Nyx is lanky and graceful with her forearms and hands covered in a dark miasma. She is disturbingly calm in every scene. Medina’s art has added a big extra layer to the writers’ work because of his visual characterization of the cast. I do have a couple of minor complaints about Medina’s motion in a couple of panels. I cannot understand Nyx’s path while fighting the Hulk and Rocket. That is really my only complaint.
Additionally, you should read the exposition boxes narrated by Clint Barton. It adds more to his character than his last few comic appearances. This is because his internal process is on full display, as well as his fears, concerns, and instincts. His situation at the end of the comic gets worse with a career-threatening injury, and the final page is even scarier when Barton is injured, alone, and confronted with an unstoppable monster.
Some comics take too long to find their stride. Avengers: No Road Home has found it so quickly, you will swear this is part of a larger story than its 10-issue run. The only problem Marvel has is… this is better than the central Avengers series.
Which comic is your favorite? 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!