IT’S TIME FOR FRESH COMIC REVIEWS!
The fall stories and event are taking over! Meanwhile, we have new comic reviews for your reading!
BLACK MASK – YEAR OF THE VILLAIN #1
Writers: Tom Taylor
Artist: Cully Hamner
Cover Price: $4.99
Sinestro’s own one-shot makes him a top tier villain. Can Black Mask’s own feature do the same?
Tom Taylor’s writing turned out surprisingly paint-by-numbers. I know he is an exciting writer, however he felt like he didn’t reach his own bests. The character dialogue is within the norms for its major players. Meanwhile, there isn’t any memorable dialogue. The story beats are easy to remember, although this issue does not make Black Mask into a better villain… just a different one. That is probably the trouble with this one shot. Others give their characters depth with boosts in power. This comic gives Black Mask a power that isn’t really unusual compared to other DC villains and an inferiority complex. He comes off as a long term bully, rather than the next great antagonist.
In addition, Cully Hamner’s art doesn’t add as much to the story as I hoped. His outer lines are fairly thick. Detail lines are there, although very minimal. This can make his characters lack depth. Moreover, Hamner uses blacks for shadows to an excessive degree. As a result, there is a heaviness to most of the visuals. There is a certain flow of energy in the art, however it is a slower flow than a lot of DC’s other comics.
DC had an opportunity to seriously elevate Black Mask. This comic takes that opportunity and barely makes him more than he already is.
PRETTY VIOLENT #1
Writers: Derek Hunter
Artist: Derek Hunter
Cover Price: $3.99
When I was a kid, cartoon characters would go after each other with anvils, revolvers, and even cannons. Now, that is deemed too violent. This comic is way beyond Tom & Jerry levels.
Derek Hunter is a pretty good writer. This scenario has more than a few surprises and guffaws hidden in it. Moreover, the dialogue is pretty funny overall. It can be summarized as what would happen if superheroes acted like Looney Tunes as written by Mike Judge. However, there is a strong flow problem in the writing. The way the dialogue bubbles are laid out, I almost have to re-read some sets of dialogue a couple times to determine who is speaking when. It can seriously slow down the pace of a comic when you need to piece together who is talking.
Meanwhile, Hunter’s art is extremely cartoonish. It is a perfect style for this over-the-top superhero lampoon. However, the art is so distended and exaggerated that some characters don’t seem to have all of their parts in the right places. Additionally, it can lack a sense of motion between panels and requires a bit to put together how things are moving around. I found it distracting.
I think this is the right story, although Derek Hunter could benefit from collaborating with another creator. It may calm down in future issues and be the parody we could really use right now.
VALKYRIE – JANE FOSTER #2
Writers: Jason Aaron & Al Ewing
Cover Price: $3.99
I’ll say it. Jane Foster is my favorite Thor. The question is, is this series a good use of the character?
Long-time Thor writer Jason Aaron and collaborator Al Ewing have done an astonishing job making this sophomore issue matter. First, Jane Foster is still a character of unusual determination. The dialogue, though, is reaching a newer part of the character as she is dealing with abilities and weapons that she hasn’t observed as much as she did with Thor. There is a good pace and threat throughout this issue. Additionally, there are several critical decisions that add to the urgency. The final page has a call-back to Marvel’s history and indicates that we are going somewhere new in their version of mythology.
Meanwhile, CAFU’s art is gorgeous. His style lands close to photo-realism, although it isn’t beholden to it. CAFU knows how to exaggerate his faces just enough to make them enjoyable. In addition, there is so much energy in the action. You can hear objects flying through the air and masonry breaking. There is a terrific weight and impact to everyone fighting in this issue.
The first issue was good, however the second issue is great. It is a different version of godly Jane Foster with room for a lot of growth.
Writers: Seanan McGuire
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa
Cover Price: $3.99
Ghost-Spider (a.k.a. Spider-Gwen) has been around for a while. This is the first time she has felt like her own character.
Seanan McGuire has taken on a story that makes this alternative Gwen Stacy into a superhero, a celebrity, and a a recluse at the same time. While the dialogue is what you expect from one of Marvel’s spider-totems, there is an uplifting energy through this comic that is infectious. Additionally, the pacing makes this an unusually quick issue. It is hard to find faults on the writing side of this comic.
On the other side, Takeshi Miyazawa is the artist and he is the right artist for this series. Everything has a youthful energy that practically bleeds off the page. The action can be described as crisp and well-choreographed. Meanwhile, the basic technique can be frighteningly light on detail and requires the colorist to supplement details. Although, the line work is very clean. This is about the best fusion I have seen between manga and Western comic book art I have ever seen.
I am confident calling this the best first-issue I have read. It lays out exposition on events as they occur in small bytes. The featured character has multiple landscapes and scenarios to deal with. It establishes Ghost-Spider’s powers, drives, and wants. Finally, it refreshes a classic enemy that can cause havoc for the hero.
I won’t say this is a comic that will do nothing but gain in value. Although, Ghost-Spider #1 sets the stage for a fun adventure.
What is your favorite first issue? Let us know in the comments below! In the meantime, we have added a link to the latest episode of our comic book podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!