Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly single issue review roundup.
Rocket Raccoon #7
(Skottie Young / Filipe Andrade / Jean-Francois Beaulieu / Jeff Eckleberry; Marvel Entertainment)
Rocket Raccoon #7 is the epitome of a single (series) going steady. Skottie Young’s ability to continually write humorous and quirky dialogue blended it into new adventures for Rocket and Groot keep this series going. Young’s sense of humor and creativity is telling by the fact he’s able to carry the comical the tone of the series without rehashing old material (unless it’s an ongoing joke) which helps Rocket Raccoon maintain its charm.
Issue #7 kicks off a new story arc and opens with Rocket burning pieces of Groot to stay warm after they’ve crash landed on the polar planet, Fron. Friendly banter between the two is quickly cut short by an attack of giant ice monsters called Nogu, and introduces a new character, Jink. This action doesn’t feel forced and serves as a solid starting issue of an arc. It keeps readers attention and allows for the pace to slow later in the issue.
The artwork by Filipe Andrade is a testament to understanding of character. Andrade captures Rocket and Groot’s bold movements and gestures by focusing on facial expressions and the parts that we as humans can relate to and sympathize with. Despite Rocket’s cold and off putting attitude and hard exterior, his physical actions display his true caring for his best buddy Groot when he is hurt in the Nogu attack.
The coloring by Jean-Francois Beaulieu captures his sense of world building. If you’ve been reading Rocket Raccoon or Disney’s Figment, you already know just how lively his coloring is. I’m from Nebraska and know cold weather very well. This week has been strange and we’ve had mild weather, but after reading this issue I felt the bitter cold. The whole issue is blanketed by blue and white hues that combine to exude feelings of frigidness. Scenes that take place outside are characterized by strokes of white and blue color depicting breath-stealing winds, while scenes inside still give off a sense of freezing dead air.
We find out that Groot was poisoned in the Nogu attack and the venom is killing his regenerative abilities. There’s only one rumored cure – the yolk of Nogu eggs. The issue concludes with Rocket and Jink embarking to retrieve the eggs to save Groot. This is a great spot to hop on Rocket Raccoon for those who haven’t read the first arc and is a good reminder to those who have why this book is worth reading. Young’s narrative voice and the imagination and skill of Beaulieu and Andrade drive these adventures. They capture the essence of these characters and their relationships notably well.
Ivar, Timewalker #1
(Fred Van Lente / Clayton Henry / Brian Reber; Valiant Entertainment)
Time travel. If ever there was a science fiction trope rooted in pure fantasy, this is certainly it. For decades, the scientific community has stated that the possibility of time travel is only hypothetical, with the the few legitimate possibilities being a major stretch. Yet it is a concept that continues to make its way into the the public sphere thanks to many creative endeavors; a list which now includes Valiant’s Ivar, Timewalker by Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry and Brian Reber.
This is another high-quality title from the resurgent publisher. Fred Van Lente’s script is easily accessible, gently introducing readers to the main protagonists – Ivar Anni-Padda and Dr. Neela Sethi – and setting up what the series should look like going forward. Clayton Henry’s artwork has a stylized aesthetic that is versatile to handle the issue’s wide scope without losing its appeal in the quieter, character moments. The colors by Rich Reber do a wonderful job of giving the book the feel of a fun, adventurous romp.
Van Lente is unafraid of the confusion that time travel can add to any story. Rather, he revels in it, calling out various genre tropes and poking fun at pop culture’s “understanding” of the concept. It’s a wonder we place so many rules on time travel. Will meeting ourselves in another part of the timeline really rip apart the universe? Could even the most insignificant change cause a devastating “butterfly effect”? Maybe… but maybe not. By hitting the reset button on time travel, Van Lente hooks readers in with a story that promises a different look a long-loved concept.
– Daniel Gehen
(Brian Michael Bendis / Michael Avon Oeming / Nick Filardi; Marvel Comics/Icon)
Reviewing anything by Brian Michael Bendis seems silly, since he’s a comic book god, writing for both Marvel, and for a bunch of his own creator-owned work, POWERS being maybe the most well-known. But, this is a new storyline, out in time to be in conjunction with the new Powers TVseries, put out by Sony, debuting on March 10th (check out playstation.com/powers to view the first episode for free).
I’m less inclined to see the TV version of Powers though, since the comic series is so amazingly good, in the same way I didn’t watch the Lord of the Rings movies, because I don’t want my reading experience corrupted by the visual medium. Bendis and artist Michael Avon Oeming have been putting out Powers stories for fifteen years now, all of them good, and all of them involving a world of superheroes, yes, but the superheroes aren’t the focus. Rather, they’re kind of the victims, and the main characters are law enforcement folks tasked with solving murders involving (and by) super-powered beings.
Powers #1 starts a little arbitrarily, with main character Detective Deena Pilgrim happening to come upon someone with superpowers in an alley committing a crime on her way back to her apartment. So ok, fine. But after that, the story goes into Bendis Powers mode, and a murder mystery ensues, also involving Enki Sunshine, and, possibly/probably (spoiler alert) their old partner, and the original main characters of Powers, Christian Walker. Along the way, Bendis throws in some funny ‘Easter eggs’ and creates a genuine curiosity in me: I want to know what happens next.
This new Powers series has nothing to do with the new tv show, but is a great place to jump on with the series as a whole, though I feel like everyone who reads any kind of comic has already. Or, they should. There’s fifteen years of great comics to enjoy if you haven’t.
– John Yohe
The Kitchen #3 (of 8)
(Ollie Masters / Ming Doyle; DC Comics / Vertigo)
Three issues into The Kitchen, and it is evident that Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle’s collaboration isn’t going to be a game-changing story. It’s not going to blow readers away with mind-bending concepts or provide a layered deconstruction of the comics’ medium. What it does do is tell a solid mob story in grimy backdrop of 1970s Hells’ Kitchen – and it does this very well.
The plot threads that Masters has seeded in the first two issues begin to come to fruition in this third chapter without telegraphing what will unfold in the remaining five issues. What is for certain is that, if this issue is any indication, the story will look fantastic as it unfolds. Ming Doyle has done a phenomenal job capturing the aesthetic of New York in the 1970s, complete with the city’s more unsavory establishments. Further adding to the look of the book are the cool grays, vibrant neon lights, and dingy browns by the incomparable Jordie Bellaire.
The cast of The Kitchen has undergone a significant transformation from their place in the first issue. Kath and her team of ladies have gone from simply maintaining their jailed husbands’ operation to commanding respect from not only the neighborhood, but other organizations within the city as well. One particular interaction between Raven and a member of the Queens-based Gargano Family, hinting that the events of the past issues may catch up to the protagonists.
– Daniel Gehen