Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly review roundup.
Steven Universe #1 (BOOM! Studios)
(W) Melanie Gillman (A) Katy Farina (C) Whitney Cogar (L) Mike Fiorentino
Leave it to Steven Universe for a feel-good story with a touch of anguish to remind readers that this comic is truly for all ages. It is perfect for a nice wind down read for the end of the day, or in the middle of a trying time where you have 15 minutes to spare. Take a deep breath, and enjoy the comfort of Steven, Lapis, and Peridot nursing an abandoned baby bird.
Of course with all the love and happiness, it’s not true Steven Universe fashion without eventually transitioning to somber issues. The absence of Steven’s mom is a reoccurring topic in the TV and comic series. It is indirectly noted, but with the proper pacing, it adds to the alternating emotional stages as each televised episode does. Gillman follows the typical trope of happy start, a reflective and dismal median, then a comforting ending. She does a beautiful job representing each character’s main personality traits. Steven’s eagerness, Lapis’ wavering indifference, and Peridot’s exaggerated unfamiliarity of human activity blend to create must-read comedy.
Farina’s art is simple, but adds to the appeal of Steven’s over-the-top friendly character. Characters are not drawn with a lot of detail, but it helps showcase the vivid colors by Cogar that also go with Steven’s personality. Everything from Farina’s round, spacious character form to Cogar’s way of changing the background depending on the mood of the panel gives a joyous sense of welcome to the comic.
The popular television show and comic miniseries is recommended to explain the background that leads the characters to their current setting. Anyone looking to enjoy the story, however, can read this as a standalone since it does not further the main story, or even touches the primary conflict. This comic is kid friendly, and for anyone who takes joy in the animated TV series. More main characters and story advancement to come!
— Kristopher Grey
Ninjak #24 (Valiant Entertainment)
(W) Matt Kindt (A) Stephen Segovia and Ryan Lee (C) Ulises Arreola
Once again, Matt Kindt and an art team consisting of Stephen Segovia, Ryan Lee, and Ulises Arreola deliver a solid issue that blends action and storytelling. As “The Seven Blades of Master Darque” marches on, there is confirmation of Ninjak’s long-suspected (by fans) connection to the Shadow Seven and just how weird certain corners of the Valiant Universe are. And while the myriad of exposition prevent this middle chapter from be being the series’ best, the events it potentially sets up makes it enjoyable nevertheless.
Because of the aforementioned exposition, one might think that there is not much opportunity for the art team to showcase their talents, but that is far from the truth. The opening action sequence – picking up from Ninjak #23’s cliffhanger – showcases Segovia’s ability to render an action sequence full of kinetic energy, while the remainder of the issue allows him to display emotion, comedy, and mysticism. Meanwhile, the cast is varied enough to enable Ulises Arreola to use the full extent of his color palette.
Much of what is revealed here supports theories of Ninjak’s connection to the Shadow Seven, but Kindt also introduces new elements which bring the story dangerously close to the cliche work of the Big Two. With the reemergence of Sandra Darque – sister of Master Darque – comes a tired and corny speech of how Ninjak is the key because he is pure of heart and blah, blah, blah. It is a poorly executed moment that casts an immense shadow over an otherwise satisfying issue.
— Daniel Gehen
Titans #8 (DC Entertainment)
(W) Dan Abnett (A) Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund (C) Andrew Dalhouse
Titans has been one of the most enjoyable books of DC Rebirth by virtue of strong characterization and the relationships between each member of the titular team. Moreover, the scripts by Dan Abnett have played to the strengths of the art team of Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dalhouse. Unfortunately, Titans #8 is an issue that spends much of its time setting up is new arc that it forgets what makes the book successful in the first place.
Most of the issue is spent with Karen and Mal Duncan – two heroes from DC’s past that have been out of the limelight for quite a while. While this is consistent with Rebirth’s mission to reestablish the heritage and legacy of the old DC Universe, little time is spent reacquainting readers with them, instead jumping into a potential nefarious plot with a discount-store Lex Luthor at the center.
The strongest moments are the small ones showing the Titans getting acclimated to their new base of operations. Not only do these scenes connect with the reader, but it also happens to contain the strongest art in the issue. If Titans is at its best when its the team just hanging out and dealing with their own problems, perhaps the creative team should make that the book’s focus rather than mindless, busy action.
— Daniel Gehen