Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly review roundup.
Big Trouble in Little China / Escape From New York #1 (BOOM! Studios)
(W) Greg Pak, (A) Daniel Bayliss, (C) Triona Farrell
BOOM! Studios has quietly built up a healthy inventory of licensed properties over the years to rival fellow publishers IDW and Dark Horse. Two such properties happen to be based two cult-classic films featuring one of the 1980s premier director/actor combinations: Big Trouble in Little China and Escape From New York. Finally, the John Carpenter mashup I’ve always wanted is finally a reality, and based on the first issue it’s everything I could have hoped for. Jack Burton and Snake Plissken are together at last as writer Greg Pak is joined by artist Daniel Bayliss for a dimension hopping bonanza.
I reckon that this book is not for those unfamiliar with the movies, as much of the story’s appeal is the interactions between the two wildly different Kurt Russell characters. To play it safe, Pak’s script affords those unfamiliar with these screen icons an opportunity to understand them, which proves mostly successful. Pak demonstrates an intimate understanding of the brash and buffoonish Jack Burton and the steely calm of Snake Plissken. Yes, there is some mystical, multi-dimensional shenanigans at play, but the base story is a simple one involving mistaken identity, an unlikely team-up, and the need to survive. Okay, maybe it’s not so simple after all.
Even if you aren’t a fan of the premise, Daniel Bayliss’s art is reason alone to pick this issue up. Those familiar with his work on Kennel Block Blues and Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Dragons know to expect an offbeat, frenetic art style that is perfect for this offbeat, frenetic crossover. Like Pak’s script, Bayliss’s art captures the uniqueness of both Jack Burton and Snake Plissken, the former’s buffoonery lending itself to a plethora of visual gags while the latter is allowed to look like a badass.
With that said, the book would not look anywhere as good without the varied color palette from Triona Farrell. A combination of orange and yellow hues is prevalent throughout, and in conjunction with the inks give the book a very flat, pulp-magazine feel which serves as a great tonal match to Pak’s script. Given the varied quality of BOOM! Studios’ previous Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York series, I was skeptical going in. However, this creative team looks to be firing on all cylinders, making this issue a must-read.
— Daniel Gehen
Enchanted Tiki Room #1 (Marvel Comics)
Negative (because 0 stars is too generous)
This is a terrible comic based on terrible ideas executed terribly. Everyone is a loathsome stereotype, even the parrots, and the plot seems to revolve around everyone being loathsome in incredibly loathsome ways. Everything seems hackneyed and tired and worn; It’s even predictable in its loathsomeness.
The only thing that is good about this book is that it gave Comics Bulletin’s Chase Magnett the opportunity to say, “That lady is three Mai Thais away from breaking out the peanut butter” in reference to this panel:
— Daniel Elkin
Batman #8 (DC Comics)
(W) Tom King and Steve Orlando (A) Riley Rossmo (C) Ivan Plascencia (L) Deron Bennett
The Bat-family continues their battle against Doctor Strange’s colossal giants in part four of the Night of the Monster Men arc. Spoiler and Orphan are executing a plan to compose the hostile citizens of Gotham while the rest of the heroes try to endure the a fight that now includes the newly transformed Gotham Girl and Nightwing.
This comic is pretty much the same as the others in the arc: Lots of action and little story progression. A few spots promote advancement of the story, but are all short sequences. The cover art is also very misleading. The final monster does show up, and looks awesomely terrifying thanks to Rossmo and Plascencia, but that’s it. No interaction with Batman. It just takes up a whole page to emphasize the “we’re screwed” feeling amongst the team.
What really makes the comic worth buying is the combat and the art. The visuals are drawn by Riley Rossmo, whose experience in drawing eerie, supernatural creatures as seen in Constantine: Hellblazer add to the beastly experience. Rossmo and Plascencia also illustrate the heroes to look dark and dangerous with fine lines and halftone shading to give the comics an extra sense of urgency. The art aids in highlighting a few new aspects of the series such as finally seeing Duke in his suit, and Clayface cloaking Batman to create an equally sized combatant for Gotham Girl.
Storytelling does not always have to be top notch in an action comic, but what the arc is lacking is the villain’s motivation and variety from issue to issue. Each has gone mostly by the same format so far: Punch/kick new monster, new gadget/fighting method, Batman yells “Listen to me!”, no one listens, beat monster, and here comes another. It started out new and interesting, but repetition will not keep fans interested through the end. Hopefully the reveal of Strange’s plan will revamp the story, along with the next monster man, and the fate of Nightwing.
— Kristopher Grey
Jessica Jones #1 (Marvel Comics)
(W) Brian Michael Bendis, (A) Michael Gaydos, (C) Matt Hollingsworth
Coming fresh off the heels of the extremely successful Netflix series, Jessica Jones is returning to its roots. The stars have aligned and the original creative team is back, Micheal Gaydos on art, Matt Hollingsworth on colors and Brian Michael Bendis on story. It’s been twelve years since they’ve worked on Jessica Jones and it’s such a treat to have them back.
The world had changed since we last saw Jessica and Luke in marital bliss, their baby is missing. We as the reader get dropped into that conflict with no explanation, and that seems to be the central story to Jessica’s new plot line. The often repeated is “where’s the baby”. There’s no answer to that mystery, but jessica is mysteriously unconcerned with her missing child. This huge gap is a tasty hook that I can’t wait to see unravel.
Gaydos and Hollingsworth teaming back up on art is such a treat, they render Jessica’s noir world in muted tones to match her bleak outlook. Jessica Jones has been a supporting character for the past few years in the Avengers books and it’s a welcome change to see her retake center stage.
Her first new case centers around a woman whose husband believes that his life is a fabrication. It makes for some delicious dramatic irony we the readers know that the Marvel universe was recently reshuffled and it’s a definite possibility that his life was altered in the massive reboot. Of course Jessica doesn’t know this and it will be interesting to see if she uncovers this massive secret at the heart of her world. Jessica Jones is headed for a reckoning as she attempts rebuild her life and it’s gonna be a blast to read how it unfolds.
— Lukas Schmitt