Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly single issue review roundup.
The Family Secret #0
(Justin Peniston / Eder Messias; Space Goat Productions)
For the most part, spandex-clad heroes find themselves without significant relationships outside of a love interest or the rarely seen family figure. Given the serialized nature of most comics, it is rare to see protagonists with relationships that resemble anything outside of a soap opera. Because of this, the reality of the relationship dynamics of The Family Secret #0 made me immediately take notice. The story of a single mother (with powers) trying to make ends meat for herself and her mischievous children (also with powers) not only opens the door to different storytelling than seen in most mainstream series, but also allows for a different level of emotional connection to the characters.
The Family Secret #0 acts as a pilot episode for this series, introducing the reader to the characters, the core relationships, the character’s abilities. Writer Justin Peniston does a solid job building this world through subtle script details, but his dialogue is clunky – especially as it relates to child heroes Carolina and Bailey. He also lays the single-mother cliches on rather thick through the use of internal monologue. Although it enables the reader to quickly understand the mother’s situation, the amount of problems Peniston informs us of borders on fatiguing. The most crucial fault of all is that a script designed to connect readers emotionally with the characters fails to give the mother’s name (it can be found in the extras following the last page of story). Given the light week of releases and the $1.99 price tag, I was willing to give this a chance. However, it’s just not strong enough to keep me coming back for the next installment.
– Daniel Gehen
(Mark Waid / Carlos Pacheco; Marvel Comics)
When I got the assignment to read S.H.I.E.L.D., I had no idea who the creative team was. I just knew that I loved the show and I knew that it would be following along with the show– at least a bit. All you need to know is that Mark Waid and Carlos Pacheco are the dynamic duo on this book. With just mentioning those two guys, I could rightfully end this review, but I shan’t. So, come with me baby birds, I’ll feed you some great knowledge.
I think that issue #1 of Waid’s (Fantastic Four, Daredevil) run is actually what people were hoping for from Joss Whedon’s pilot episode. It gives some backstory to Agent Coulson, it has Avengers galore, really cool cameos AND it throws Coulson and his team right into the midst of the action. Waid doesn’t just throw this team into the fray, but into an Asgardian fray. Now, this shows why you can always do more in comics than in television shows, but that is neither here nor there. Waid also captures Coulson’s voice. When you read the book, you hear Coulson. Waid has always had a gift of not only dialogue, but also knowing and understanding the characters.
You see this in any of his books and this is going to just shine in S.H.I.E.L.D. While I could just bask in the shiny glory of Waid on this books, let’s skip on over to the impeccable art done by Carlos Pacheco (X-Men, Age of Ultron) . His work is always very clean, very crisp, and just over all beautiful.
The only drawback to the issue that I have (and it isn’t even with Waid or Pacheco, but with the Marvel U. in general) is that I don’t know exactly when this takes place continuity-wise. Here, the heroes are all dressed in Post-AXIS garb, but acting like their Pre-AXIS selves. Sigh.
Still, this is an issue that I want in my collection. Waid and Pacheco are just too good to not pick up the book on a monthly basis. Go out and pick it up. For anyone who is a fan of the show, this will be a great compliment to the series. For anyone who is complaining that the show is too limited due to monetary constraints BUT loves the characters on the show, this will definitely be your cup of tea and for anyone who doesn’t like any of it… well I can’t help you. This is another memorable Mark Waid book.
– Roberto de Bexar
X-O Manowar #31
(Robert Venditti / Diego Bernard; Valiant Comics)
Hot on the heels of their big summer crossover Armor Hunters, Valiant cook up more troubles for Aric of Dacia and his sentient alien Manowar armor – The Armorines. This particular issue highlights the conceptual similarities between X-O Manowar and Iron Man, bringing Aric face-to-face with highly unsavoury characters of the military-industrial complex; but being Valiant, it gives the familiar tropes their own unique and inventive twist, as well as striking a very different beat to the current Superior Iron Man series.
Robert Venditti (Green Lantern, The Flash) continues his lauded run scripting the adventures of the time-lost hero Aric as he comes to terms with the modern world – and he, with it. The artwork of Brazilian wunderkind Diego Bernard and Witchbladealumni and inker Alisson Rodriguez jumps off the page; this is one of the glossier and boldest titles on the stands this week. For new readers, this is the perfect jump-on point for anyone wanting pure comic storytelling from a company with a burgeoning interlinked continuity that isn’t likely to be rebooted again anytime soon. Is anyone else getting sick of that?
– Luke Anderson
All-New Miracleman Annual #1
(Peter Milligan / Grant Morrison / Mike Allred / Joe Quesada; Marvel Comics)
I’ve never been familiar with Miracleman (formerly known as Marvelman, up until the 1980’s) but knew of his troubled publication history and deconstruction in the 1980’s and 1990’s by Alan Moore, and later Neil Gaiman. He once again enjoys some meta-deconstruction in this annual issue in two separate stories by two separate creative teams in All-New Miracleman Annual #1. Grant Morrison (Batman Inc.) and Marvel CCO(!) Joe Quesada‘s dark, prequel-esque story focuses on the former Kid Miracleman prior to the Battle of London was written over 20 years ago, and features beautiful, brooding artwork and dark, thematic overtones to a simple — yet powerful — tale. To see it brought to publication—finally!—is well worth the wait.
Closing out the annual issue is a tale from Peter Milligan (Justice League Dark, Red Lanterns) and Mike Allred (Silver Surfer), who take a look back at Miracleman’s lighter, buoyant days. Easily recognizable as the Silver Age of comics, this tale sees Miracleman, Young Miracleman, and Kid Miracleman overcoming wave after wave of destructive forces before coming to a profound realization. This light, buoyant piece is gorgeously drawn, and is a bright reminder that within comics, stakes can be high and consequences severe without resorting to undo bloodshed, violence, or brooding darkness. The lightness and energy to this piece (especially when contrasted to Morrison’s darker, yet equally profound preceding piece) is refreshing, and is a great reminder that, at their core, comics are meant to be fun. The final zoom-in is a great visual callback to his Project Zarathustra storyline from back in the day. The issue also comes with illustrator’s notes, original retrospective from Grant Morrison, and comparative illustrations and notes about the layout and comparison to Miracleman artwork from the past. For any collector — and fans of this obscure, troubled character — this annual is highly recommended.
– J.L. Caraballo
East of West #16
(Jonathan Hickman / Nick Dragotta; Image Comics)
You’re over at a friends house and they are watching an episode of a tv show you’ve never seen, but you decide to settle in and watch anyway. In spite of all the questions and all of the unknown, you are absolutely hooked. That is the experience I had reading East of West #16.
The year is 2065 and Mad Max has met with Judge Dredd over at Image Comics, and it is gloriously fun. Neither of said characters are directly involved in the book, but their influence is splattered all over the vast landscape.
There are quite a few subplots going on in this book, but the main chunk is devoted to rescuing Governor Bel Soloman from hanging, as he has been overthrown from his political office in future Texas. Democracy is a burden in which the series’ protagonists would like to ease the world from.
Writer Jonathan Hickman (The Avengers) and artist Nick Dragotta (FF) make the perfect team for this futuristic sci-fi epic and though East of West #16 was my first, it will certainly not be my last.
– Ryan Scott