4.23.14 [Weekly Reviews]

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Sheltered #8 (Image): I’ve been wondering if Ed Brisson naming this series “Sheltered” might have been a nod to a guy named Lloyd Kahn, who was an early pioneer of green shelters, involved with the Whole Earth Catalog, and created some guides to counterculture building. That’s neither here nor there as far as the review goes, but hopefully Ed will chime in and allay my curiosity. This is a great issue because the balance of power begins to teeter between Lucas and Victoria. The group is still reeling from the shootout that occurred, with characters like Mitch and Nancy the sort of “swing votes” that either side needs to win over the group. At times, you almost can sense the ideological divide that Brisson laces the narrative with, Victoria as an idealist, Lucas as a fascist, and Mitch as a cold realist. I continue to be impressed by the combination of Johnnie Christmas’ art and Shari Chankhamma’s color, I mean, just look at the noses, it’s all about the noses! The way they glow warm from the cold environment, the lighting on them is just superb. Christmas is able to carry so much emotion in the facial characteristics, just look at wild-eyed Victoria trying to plead her case. I also really enjoyed the nuclear primer in the backmatter by Ryan K. Lindsay, which essentially debunks the realities of post-nuclear detonation. It’s a crime that this book was not nominated for Best New Series in the Eisner Awards this year. #TeamVictoria Grade A.

Lazarus #8 (Image): Michael Lark’s art really has an ability to capture the dark and murky morality that Greg Rucka’s scripts are addressing. From Forever’s childhood indoctrination into the family business, to a bomb plot in LA that leads... elsewhere... there’s a sense of shifting cultural values and social mores. From the Carlyle Family perspective, the bomb plot is a terror plot, and the intended location really resides in the heart of one of the only hopeful places the world has left to offer. The plot thread about “The Lift” converges with everything else we’ve been shown in this new arc, and it finally all makes sense. I really enjoyed the way people’s value can go from waste to serf based on their abilities in this weird organic community that’s been created on the march. It’s no surprise around these parts that I have a thing for post-apocalyptic morality plays, and Lazarus is certainly in the top grouping of that genre, illustrating current social fears by extrapolating them to the extreme. With its commentary on resource scarcity and the rapidly expanding divide between the haves and the have nots, it’s an important book that could easily be studied at the collegiate level. Grade A.

The Bunker #3 (Oni Press): This is a very moody and atmospheric issue that amps up the intensity by showing us the nitty-gritty of the explosion in SF, characterized as “the worst terror attack since 9/11.” It’ll no doubt shape the future of the world, and it plays like the key event with a butterfly effect through time that it’s been set up as. There’s that, along with the traumatic childhood stuff that’s impacted the personalities of the characters today. Joshua Hale Fialkov seems to be a rising star, and when he’s paired with stylish artists like Joe Infurnari, the results are pretty great. Infurnari has a sketchy quality to his art that captures the tenuous grip on reality that the characters must be feeling. There’s a sequence here where Heidi is depicted in a washed out white color that emphasizes the emotional void she must be feeling too. It’s a smart book that has the potential to be one of the great modern mysteries. Grade A.

Letter 44 #6 (Oni Press): The other big new creator owned book from Oni Press is Charles Soule’s Letter 44, and this was an interesting issue that ends this first arc by allowing us to catch our breath and absorb the new status quo. The team in space is dealing with the aftermath of their messy first contact scenario, with lost crew members, decoded plans, and a new birth, which has lots of potential repercussions. Back on Earth, the politics are in full force with a Presidential tete a tete that ends up thwarting more conspiratorial violence. It’s rare that you feel you have no idea where a series will go next, and that’s part of the high I get from Letter 44. I’m really excited to see the next one-shot issue, with art by Joelle Jones. Grade A-.


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