Sponsor Plug: Special thanks to Michael Cholak at Yesteryear Comics for sponsoring this week’s review books. Make Yesteryear Comics your first destination in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new books during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.
Wasteland #41 (Oni Press): Hey, if you were at Lucky Donut & Deli in Scripps Ranch today (shout out to Minh) and saw me in the corner grinning from ear to ear like an idiot, yeah, I was looking at the first page of this issue. Specifically, a map of the Western United States, from the POV of an orbiting satellite, witnessing what sure looked like a series of thermonuclear detonations on the surface of the planet, perhaps the “New Killer War” mentioned a few times in the run-up to this point. Thomas uses more of his powers for this reveal, and additional connections to some of the series regulars are made. Michael and Abi are still in Far Enough (for now) investigating the downed orbital object in the ruins of a pre-city and all hell kinda’ breaks loose. It’s like Antony Johnston was cruising along in 4th gear, slammed the shifter down into 3rd, and hit the gas, rocketing the macro-narrative forward. I feel like we’re now in a race to the final issue and it’s going to be regularly blowing our hair back on the way. I’m also loving the addition of Russel Roehling on art. His style is such a skillful balance of realistic life drawing and stylish caricature. In spots, it’s actually starting to remind me of the work of Brazilian brothers Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon. Random, but I noticed this has a cover price of $3.99, when did that happen, didn’t it used to be $3.50? Grade A.
Thor: God of Thunder #2 (Marvel): I heckled Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic on Twitter this afternoon that they’ve basically done something I’d long given up hope on. They made me give a crap about Thor. I actually care about the title, I care about the character, I care about what happens next, and one of the “hooks” for me in this has been that we get to see three Thors, past, present, and future. Lo and behold, Jason Aaron explains that that dynamic is going to hold, not only for this introductory arc, but also beyond. Thrilled to hear that. Aaron takes his Conan-infused Thor and sets him off on a deified murder mystery that manages to capture the cosmic awe of the Silver Age, but adds modern time-jumping conventions to hold our interest, along with Aaron’s ear for rich memorable dialogue. There are little details that take a slightly revisionist, or “filling in the gaps” is probably more apropos, take on the mythos. It’s stuff like depicting Thor before he wielded Mjolnir, here seen with his axe Jarnbjorn. Ribic is on point, easily switching from the wispy world of ethereal gods and fog bearing a lush painterly quality that matches the time period and settings, to startling violence, hard-fought battles, lean muscle tissue, and eyes with a level of detail that walks the line between John Cassaday and Jerome Opena. Yeah, there’s a typo in Aaron’s text piece at the end, but I was already sold long before then. Grade A.
Masks #1 (Dynamite Entertainment): Not a lot to say about the art; it’s Alex Ross so people who like Alex Ross will get exactly what they expect and be perfectly satisfied, that last page is especially pretty. People who don’t like Alex Ross, well, they’re going to get exactly what they expect too, and probably be put off by the cold detachment of his lifelike paints. I lean more toward the first camp, so visually this worked just fine for me. I’ve never really warmed to any of these Dynamite Pulp Titles, but I’m a fan of Chris Roberson (especially on Twitter), and hey, did I mention Alex Ross is on art? So, The Green Hornet heads to NYC and encounters The Shadow (The Spider shows up waaay later) and they waste no time jumping right into a story about mobsters and politics. The plot doesn’t have any real hook, the treat is the dynamic itself of the team-up(s) of old pulpy properties, though Roberson tries his darndest to give the book an ethos – “If the law is unjust, then justice must be an outlaw.” I sort of found myself with an appreciation of the period racial stuff, like the Asian character sticking up for the Hispanic character, both basically “the other” in this largely white world of privilege. I enjoyed this for what it was, though I’m a little dismayed to see that Ross maybe isn’t doing all the interiors in future issues(?). On the fence as to whether or not I’ll support this in singles or trade-wait. Grade B+.
Nowhere Men #1 (Image): Man, I really wanted to like this more than I did. The World Corp. logo looks almost exactly like the old Warners logo, so there’s that. “Science Is The New Rock ‘N’ Roll” sure sounds like a cool premise to hang a new series on, but I just got no sense of that from the contents of the issue. It was just boring board room stuff and an attempt at a shock/twist/cliffhanger end that just sat there. I felt like Stephenson and Bellegarde were really trying to swing for the fences, in a way that I maybe haven’t seen since Hickman’s first Image work, The Nightly News, for a “different” kind of debut, but it didn’t connect for me. The bios up front as framework for avoiding direct character exposition seemed really clever in concept, but the execution was a little bland. World Corp. is supposed to be the biggest corporation in the world, yet I have no idea what they actually do or produce beyond, uhh, “invent stuff,” I guess? Something something mysterious virus and the back third of the book has a bunch of dialogue that was a chore to slog through. I’m still not really sure what the book is about, that was as hard to pin down as the rambling interviewee at the end. Artistically, Bellegarde has some awkward moments, like when Simon is standing around, otherwise I like the detail and fine lines in the art. Oh well, Image is on fire this year, but they can’t all be hits. Grade B-.