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Ascender #3 - Image Comics
You're not filling me with confidence, here.

SUMMER CONVENTION SEASON IS IN FULL SWING! 

Just because we’re about to hit the big convention season, does not mean we can stop reading comics!

Redneck #21 - Image Comics
Image Comics

REDNECK #21
Image Comics

Writers: Donny Cates
Artist: Lisandro Estherren
Cover Price:  $3.99

This is another case of a cover that is just too odd to pass up.

Donny Cates is a strong writer, however I found this issue to be somewhat confounding.  The comic is not badly written.  It’s just that it has no primer for a quick catch-up.  Additionally, the characters are speaking to each other like the second half of an episode of an HBO series.  They just assume you understand everything happening.  Moreover, I didn’t know I was looking at a family of vampires until one of them said so.  The characters are fairly written.  I just didn’t find my footing.

Redneck #21 - Image Comics
Redneck #21 – Image Comics

Meanwhile, the art by Lisandro Estherren is not my preference.  While there is good use of black for shadows, the detail lines are the same thickness as the outer lines.  This makes the art look scratchy and dirty.  In addition, the characters themselves weren’t well defined.  I cannot tell which characters are supposed to be younger unless the dialogue tells me so.  Their faces also lack enough definition to read emotions.

This may be a story I could get into, however, this one issue didn’t draw me in.

Batman: Damned #3 - DC Comics
DC Comics

BATMAN: DAMNED #3
DC Comics

Writers: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Lee Bermejo
Cover Price:  $6.99

I have not read an issue of this mini-series until now.  You should always try something new, right?

Brian Azzarello wrote a terrific Joker original story a while ago.  It turns out Damned is a continuation of that story.  However, this doesn’t have the same kind of punch as its progenitor.  I do like Azzarello’s monstrous Swamp Thing, although the other characters almost feel like characterizations of themselves, if not other people entirely.  Batman is often confounded.  Constantine has his snark without the same level of wit.  Additionally, no one really stands out in this very over-sized issue.

Batman: Damned #3 - DC Comics
Batman: Damned #3 – DC Comics

Lee Bermejo’s painted artwork isn’t quite as striking as Alex Ross.  Meanwhile, it is still extremely good.  Berjmejo’s Batman is strong and weighty.  His mystically-styled armor is alos a unique approach to Batman’s armor.  Although some character expressions can be hard to read, that is few and far between.  Because of Bermejo’s color work, Batman: Damned has an impeccable atmosphere that adds to the story.  The backgrounds have a haunted feel from scene to scene that some thriller movie-makers could spend time to study.

This ending drags quite a bit compared to other issues or other Batman stories.  I would recommend you read the Joker graphic novel by this creative team instead.

War of the Realms #6 - Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

WAR OF THE REALMS #6
Marvel Comics

Writers: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Cover Price:  $6.99

This was a very furious comic book.

Jason Aaron’s very long run on Thor is winding down, so he is walking out with an explosion.  After a semi-disappointing beginning, this comic has ended a set of trials Aaron has gone through to redefine Thor as a character worthy of his power.  The entire issue is one long third act with half of the Marvel Universe fighting a mythical army.  The characters are valorous and brave, although they are sometimes more savage than normal.  That may be because of the scenario.  I was engaged at the start of this issue and it keeps its pace for the full issue.

War of the Realms #6 - Marvel Comics
War of the Realms #6 – Marvel Comics

Russell Dauterman has been working with Aaron for most of this run.  His art has an impact that is rare among superhero comics.  There is serious power when Thor is swinging a hammer, Jane Foster-Thor is heaving her weapon, or Captain Marvel bashes into a demon queen.  Dauterman’s clothing has more detail than a character’s face.  Both have good motion and are easy to interpret.  Meanwhile, my nitpick is that Dauterman can have a problem with perspective.  When characters are tilted in a certain direction, their faces can appear strangely lean or squashed.  There have been a few times that Thor himself looks like Robin Williams with a beard.  Again, it’s a nitpick.

War of the Realms has a good fallout and possibility for new stories.  However, it is a great ending to a story-thin event mini-series.  You can find a lot of the missing story by reading the tie-ins.

Ascender #3 - Image Comics
Image Comics

PICK OF THE WEEK
ASCENDER #3
Image Comics

Writers: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Cover Price:  $3.99

A comic with a science fiction title, but a lot of fantasy images on the cover?  If I haven’t won comic book bingo, I will soon.

Jeff Lemire’s script is missing a few details from the first two issues.  However, this comic is incredibly easy to catch up on.  The exposition is all via dialogue and hits a lot of the major points that are important in this comic.  Meanwhile, the characters are evolving fast.  They feel like ones you have seen in a number of films or TV shows, although they are changing as you read.  The pacing of the issue is brisk.  There isn’t really a point wherein the characters are idle or stuck in dialogue.

Ascender #3 - Image Comics
Ascender #3 – Image Comics

The art is by Dustin Nguyen and it is fairly unique in comic books.  In a word, the visuals are like water colors.  This matches well with some of the more desolate landscapes in this comic like icy planets or space.  However, the forested or grassy areas can have a more washed-out pallet.  The line-work is scratchy.  This makes a lot of the visuals have a hazy appearance.  I cannot tell if this is on purpose or not.  Additionally, while characters are expressive enough, they lack a lot of finer details.

Ascender #3 - Image Comics
Ascender #3 – Image Comics

Again, this comic feels like a movie or TV show.  There is a fairly logical progression to this comic, although it mixes a few genres together.  It does not take much to figure out which pieces are where.

This comic whets the appetite for the prior issues and it’s prior series, Descender.  I suddenly want to know a lot more about this universe.

Have you read Ascender or any of this week’s comics?  Let us know in the comments below!  In the meantime, here is a link to the latest episode of our comic book podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!

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