Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly single issue review roundup.
Moon Knight #13
(Cullen Bunn / Ron Ackins / Tom Palmer/ Dan Brown; Marvel Entertainment)
The new installment of Moon Knight features a brand new creative team made up of Cullen Bunn (words), Ron Ackins (pencils), Tom Palmer, Walden Wong and Victor Olazaba (inks), Dan Brown (colors) and Travis Lanham (lettering). Whew, that’s a big team. With a new team also comes a new Moon Knight.
The politically charged previous arc wrapped up last month and left Marc Spectre with some closure with the media, his now avenged former therapist and his return as Khonshu’s avatar. Moon Knight #13 kicks off the new arc with a ghost story. The beginning scene shows us four aspects of the issue, each distinctly colored and representative of what’s to come.
We’re brought to a hotel where the Moon Knight has been living and find it inhabited by ghosts. Ackins’ pencils and Palmer’s inks draw your eyes all over the page with thick, straight lines depicting the size of the rundown hotel. The brown and green hues used by Brown show just how shabby and musty the hotel is.
This is where we see Spectre, looking down amongst the other specters that are cohabitating with him. Ackins’ shows a diverse cast of ghosts, donning attire from various eras. Spectre simply asks them to leave, which brings us to the next sequence where Khonshu reminds Spectre what his job is.
Somewhere along the line Moon Knight shifted from eagerly helping those who travel at night to having a piss-poor attitude and not wanting anything to do with them. In this regard, Bunn digresses from the previous arcs’ portrayal of the Moon Knight. Regardless, he decides to help them out and finds himself fighting a small team of people possessing a set of enhanced gloves that allows them to capture the spirits of the dead.
The fight scenes are well executed and show the strengths of this creative team. The coloring by Brown is carefully done. The fight scenes have red undertones, reflecting the intensity and action of these sequences in the warehouse where this group operates. The spirit orbs emit a glowing yellow, which adds a touch of soft light into the scenes. It’s a unique touch that gives off a sense of intimacy. That might sound weird, seeing as the orbs are the cause of a violent ass-kicking by the Moon Knight. The light feels natural opposed to the brightly colored purples, blues and whites that are often associated with spirits or souls. The knight is still shrouded (mostly) in all white, but is sometimes shown in the shadows with darker coloring.
The new run of Moon Knight harkens back to the first arc by Ellis, Shalvey and Bellaire, focusing on, perhaps the stranger matters of those who travel at night. It feels closer to the original six issues than the previous arc by Brian Wood and Greg Smallwood, without feeling like an extension or copycat. It’s slightly grittier and Bunn has some explaining to do with the Moon Knight’s attitude change towards those he protects. There’s a lot to look forward to in this new arc, especially if you were a fan of issues 1-6.
Orphan Black #1
(Graeme Manson / John Fawcett / Jody Houser / Szymon Kudransi; IDW)
With the debut of the third season of the Orphan Black television series just weeks away (April 18th, 2015) it makes sense that the series creators, Graeme Manson and John Fawcett along with IDW vet Jody Houser, would want to release a comic based off the show to get fans excited. After reading the first issue it seems like the comics might do just that, but not in the way they intended. The books are supposed to be an interesting way to flesh out the backstory of the show, yet that premise is just a few panels away from making this limited run a glorified series recap.
First of all, it’s hard to tell who these books are going to be for. This first issue reimagines the events of the pilot, all with a bit of added backstory and various lines of inner monologue from a few select characters in the show. It’s nice for fans to see a different perspective of what happened in the pilot episode again, just to revisit the OB world again, but there wasn’t enough revealed in the backstory that hasn’t already either been told in exposition later on in the show or telegraphed through Tatiana Manslany’s amazing portrayal of every single clone. This definitely isn’t for people who haven’t seen the show yet– because repetition sucks. The art by Szymon Kudransi (Spawn, Batman: Streets of Gotham) is fine at times, but it’s hard to not feel like you’re seeing an dulled-down, rotoscoped version of something you can just watch in HD, and of course it’s missing Maslany’s performance — the life blood of the show.
All that aside, it might have been the simple mistake of using the first issue of the comic series to tell Sarah’s story, since she’s already the primary protagonist of the show. As the comics continue and we get into the backstory of all the other clones, Helena especially, the idea of revisiting what we’ve seen on television from a different perspective might just pay off.
– Myke Ladiona
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3
(Ryan North/ Erica Henderson / Rico Renzi / VC’s Clayton Cowles; Marvel Entertainment)
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is everything the comics community needs. After all of the recent controversy regarding the Batgirl#41 variant cover and various costume designs of female characters, reading this comic just feels good.
From the Twitter “nutshell” recap, to the puns, to the light-hearted humor, this book is filled with wit, comedy and heart. It’s an absolute blast to read and stands as a firm advocate for the rightful respect and positive representation of women in comics – and it doesn’t have to try. That is perhaps this team’s greatest achievement – their ability to make such a honest representation without giving off the feeling like it’s a gimmick or a shtick to try to relate to people. It just does.
The issue begins with Doreen’s roommate, Nancy, heading to the bank to grab some cash for some much needed falafel. Erica Henderson’s cartooning is spot on. Her lines are clean and create space and depth effectively, while maintaining the flair that the series has. She has such a grasp of the world Doreen inhabits. She includes everything from a fly coming out of Nancy’s wallet, to the falafel smell forming a finger, luring her to the stand, to the Galactus counter. It’s comical, bizarre, but perfectly reasonable for The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
Oh yeah, Galactus.
Doreen and Tippy-Toe are still trying to get to the moon to stop him, but we find Doreen crashing her Iron-Squirrel suit into a tree (how’s that for humor?) to be held up by Whiplash. The conversations that North cooks up with these characters are quick, humorous and clever. Doreen can’t catch a break, though immediacy is of the upmost importance.
As the story continues, we end up back at the bank after Doreen bests Whiplash. Nancy is just trying to get money for some falafel when bank robbers come to ruin the day. Straight from a Three Stooges comedy, the robbers are wearing masks and classic black and white striped shirts. This is exactly the type of thing that makes this comic work. It pokes fun at itself with these oddball motifs, like the robber wearing the Groucho glasses. They’re thwarted by Doreen who’s wrapped in a group of squirrels working in unison that save the day, but not before Nancy catches a glimpse of Tippy-Toe’s bow.
The issue ends at the moon, where Galactus is facing off with Doreen – no squirrels on the moon, no powers, just herself – poor, poor Galactus.
It’s rare to see a creative team completely in sync with one another, but that’s what we have with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. The writing is quirky, the art borders on strange, but together they achieve wonderful comics.
Alex + Ada #13
(Sarah Vaughn / Jonathan Luna; Image Comics)
Alex + Ada has been quietly delivering one of the best love stories in comics today. Despite the looming presence of the government and the public’s anti-android sentiment, the creative team has maintained the series’ intimate nature – focusing on the two protagonists and how the world personally affects them. With that in mind, Alex + Ada #13 is a game-changing issue.
This issue’s success is due to its use of the two most primal of human emotions: fear and love. Furthermore, it manages to do so without coming across as a cheap ploy. Sarah Vaughn has earned this issue’s payoff through meticulous planning during the previous twelve issues. Lingering over Alex and Ada’s romance has been government prohibition of sentient androids such as Ada, not at all unlike that found in the 1982 film Blade Runner. While Ada herself had a brief scare back in issue #9, these characters’ fear has been an afterthought to the kindling love narrative. Here, Vaughn brings that fear literally to the doorstep of the protagonists and, by extension, the reader.
This issue’s rising tension would not have been possible without the art by Jonathan Luna. His style captures the emotions of his cast so well that the reader can easily empathize with them. If there is a hang-up, it’s that many of the characters are indistinguishable if not for the coloring, which includes repetitive facial expressions. However, this is a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things. Alex + Ada #13 adds more intrigue and suspense Image’s intoxicating romance.
Invisible Republic #1
(Corinna Bechko / Gabriel Hardman / Jordan Boyd; Image Comics)
If superheroes aren’t your thing, Image comics is really where you want to be. Invisible Republic is the newest reason for that.
Those who read the criminally underrated Star Wars: Legacy (Volume II) from Dark Horse knows that Corinna Bechko has her shit together. Pair her with hubby Gabriel Hardman and Jordan Boyd on a post apocalyptic sci-fi, Blade Runner/Mad Max esque book and you get what looks to be, based off issue number one, a big ass home run.
The story of Arthur McBride (which we barely scratch the surface of) is so compelling that the swift ace of this boom is utterly frustrating in the best kind of “please give me more issues now” kind of way. If this doesn’t get optioned as Ridley Scott’s next project, I’ll be surprised.
Read this book, geeks.
– Ryan Scott
Ivar, Timewalker #3
(Fred Van Lente / Clayton Henry / Bit / Andrew Dalhouse; Valiant Entertainment)
Though at its base level is ridiculous and scientifically improbable, the concept of time travel continues to fascinate us. Despite the probability of creating paradoxes or alternate timelines or whatever is going on in the Terminator movies, we can’t help but fantasize about giving certain things in life a do-over, or perhaps make an even greater lasting impact on history. Ivar, Timewalker #3 reminds us of another possibility for the space-time continuum: that certain points in history are fixed and cannot be undone. What is essentially fate is the crux of the latest adventure by Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry.
The idea that the universe will find a means to prevent certain events from being changed is hardly revolutionary. In the comic world, Geoff Johns explored this very notion during his brief run on Booster Gold back in the late 2000s. However, what Van Lente does so well is make a familiar trope feel fresh. The root of this is the banter between Ivar and Neela, who continues to be suspicious of her time-traveling companion and questions his every decision.
Van Lente appears to be using this title as a means to provide commentary on today’s world. In Ivar, time travel is not reserved to those with a sense of responsibility for the greater good. Rather, it is a lavish form of entertainment for wealthy thrill-seekers. It is easy to draw comparisons to recent news stories of privatized space-travel. The title also features time-traveling pranksters called Lurkers, which are essentially internet trolls. They’re their to leave hashtag graffiti on World War II landmarks and draw phallic imagery on Hitler’s face with a Sharpie.
Ultimately, this oddball combination of ideas causes Ivar, Timewalker #3 to suffer from a bit of identity crisis. The book can’t decide if it wants to be a swashbuckling adventure, a cautionary tale, or a parody of modern society. Despite its uneven nature, Ivar remains an entertaining alternative to corporate comics.
– Daniel Gehen
(Brenden Fletcher / Cameron Stewart / Babs Tarr / Maris Wicks; DC Comics)
Batgirl: Endgame #1
(Brenden Fletcher / Cameron Stewart /Bengal; DC Comics)
For those of you unfamiliar with Batgirl in the New 52, she is just that: A NEW Batgirl. For starters, in only “three DC Universe years” she has gone through the horrific experience of being shot and paralyzed by the Joker during “The Killing Joke” (thus turning into the Oracle), suddenly walking again (thanks to Flashpoint, where an alternate DC Universe time was created), and, now, attending college (yet everything still happened and she remembers?).
I apologize for the run-on sentence but.. it’s confusing.
It’s sad to think that Barbara Gordon — who is iconically a STRONG survivor and intelligent woman who overcame a disability — is now just a shallowly written college girl. She was a respected character. Not sure why they didn’t just create a whole new Batgirl, as it would have made more sense than forcing Barbara into a completely different personality. It’s insulting! Even the nickname “Babes” is troubling; not only do we lose her historical nickname but in this case she no longer has a name– she’s just a babe. Anyways, enough of my rant about this strangely forced story to “keep” continuity. Let’s continue now with a Batgirl #40 in its new Archie comic version.
This new Batgirl arc is clearly written for the young teen audience. There’s a lot of hash-tagging and shorthand for words, almost to the point of needing a glossary. This book is definitely the strongest of this new arc and lacks all the soapy, self-absorbed qualities that the earlier issues had; it’s a relief to see some redeeming moments. Batgirl is still a shallowly written character, but if there is anything to take from this new Batgirl in #40, it’s that she is smart — despite a sad lack of common sense — and that her past does not define who she is today. This Batgirl is by no means my cup of tea, but thankfully there was a moment of self reflection and growth.
We see “Babes” find out that her true nemesis is herself, whose origin is explained in a flashback sequence prior to the surgical chip that was placed in her body. She is seen as an angry and vengeful Barbara, taking away all the survivor strength that she once had as Oracle. Again, she is dumbed down and seen as a vengeful victim. This computerized hurt and vengeful predictive algorithm version of herself (that is out to kill future crime offenders in order to “save” Gotham) is quite a stretch. She does this through analyzing social data from a dating site, which comes to no surprise since this new arc is all about what is trending. Perhaps this Lady doesn’t understand how information added to your dating profile can be used to map your future criminal capabilities.
Silly me, I must not be in the know.
Now for some more beloved new “Babes”. Batgirl: Endgame #1 is about the Endgame Virus taking over Gotham, created by the Joker. Batgirl saves Lucius Fox, his wife and his daughter. Finally, BABS seems to be fighting some actual threatening crime! However in this one-shot, her first new badass Endgame Virus rescue is done with no words. That’s right– just art, and it took the two same disappointing writers, Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, to “write it”. At least the art is a huge step up from Batgirl #35-#40.
Bengal does an amazing job with the art and color giving the story gravitas and strength. The stakes are high and the suspense keeps you engaged. We can’t tell whether Batgirl will continue her shallow college girl antics; but one things for sure, emoticons are the only use of communication, as well a lovely depiction of poop.
If this is what DC thinks our future generation of readers wants– vocabulary and speech will be non-existent. At least, it means there is a very bright future for good artists in this increasingly illiterate Batgirl comic world. If you can’t give us a some good writing at least give us some good art.
– Stephanie Panisello
Giant Days #1
(John Allison / Lissa Treiman; BOOM! Studios)
I really had no expectations going into this issue, but what I found was something else entirely. Giant Days follows three friends, Susan, Esther and Daisy in their first year at college. John Allison (Bobbins, Scary Go Round, Bad Machinery) does a marvelous job at giving each character their own personality that makes each respective girl feel alive and a pleasure to read. The issue revolves around Susan making a bet with Esther that she can’t go drama free for three days, which goes awry once Susan bumps into her most detested ex-boyfriend. Sounds straightforward enough, but the magic of this book is in the details.
Allison does a great job of littering in facts and clues about the various characters backstories and personalities. Lissa Treiman’s art in this issue is beautifully drawn. The book feels like a very well drawn animated series that knows its a comic. The whole thing has a disney esque feel to it (rightfully so, Lissa Treiman has worked on films like Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph). Overall, this issue is a magnificent start to what might be one of my favorite books this year. I’ll be waiting for class to start once again for the next issue.
– Dana Keels
The Fly: Outbreak #1
(Brandon Seifert / Menton 3; IDW)
So basically, if you’re looking for A Bug’s Life-meets-Outbreak-meets 50 Shades, The Fly: Outbreak is your comic.
Brandon (Witch Doctor) Seifert‘s “The Book of Transgenesis” starts by contrasting a romantic relationship with the possibility of the Fly infection (possible STD) he might be genetically carrying, spreading to those Martin loves, all the while attempting to find a cure for his full-blown Fly Man father, Anton.
Oh, David Cronenberg.
The artwork by Menton 3 (The Squidder) is simple and clean with realistic human structure that makes for an easy to read experience, with a coloring that lends itself to an appropriately creepy sci-fi setting.
– Jackie Henley
(Eric Heisserer / Felipe Massafera; Dark Horse Comics)
Yeah, so hey, there’s another science fiction comic out now.
Yeah, another science fiction comic. What are the odds on that?
Hey, wow, it also has a misunderstood angsty teen hero. In it, we see a war that features weird looking aliens and cool spaceships and awesome devices and whoo hoo things are happening in space! Hoo hah.
Man, I never thought I’d see the day when there was a glut of sci-fi comics at the nation’s LCSs, but there are, and with so many appearing seemingly every week, it becomes hard to tell them apart. The story here by first-time comic writer Eric Heisserer does nothing much to get the reader involved in the characters. And while the art by Felipe (Light of Thy Countenance) Massafera is lovely and attractive but not enough to make me want to come back and read this book over all the other sci-fi comics on the stands, I just gotta say meh! This is one of those movies where the CGI is nice but the story seems like same old same old.
– Jason Sacks
The Punisher #16
(Nathan Edmondson / Mitch Gerards; Marvel Comics)
I remember, somehow, someway, when my 5th grade Social Studies teacher made us all watch Mr. Castle Goes to Washington. Alright, so I’m just fucking with y’all. Sounds like it would be a kick-ass class, tho, right?
Look, The Punisher is one of my least favorite comics since the 90s; I haven’t been able to grasp the concepts swirling the One Man Army since he was too busy battling Matt Murdock for NYC supremacy. Unfortunately, my peeps, I can’t talk about my favorite part of this comic. Why? Because then I’d have to SuperKick ya.
No– the thing is, it’s a similar situation to my favorite ol’ school Pun comics. SOMEONE shows up — sorta like the end of Monday Night RAW — and lets Mr. Castle know that Washington is one thing, but my hood is another. No– it isn’t Hell’s Kitchen. Yes– it’s one Hell of a clash. Thanks to Moody and his assignment, I have more to look forward to now as we near the end a.k.a. The Last Days of Nathan (Deathlok, Black Widow) Edmondson‘s well-respected run.
Oh– and in case you were wondering, Mitch Gerards’ art is scratchy, gritty and yet still full of flash. He brilliantly knocks out the security cam scenes that switch from angle to angle, and, damn that reveal! Also, it’s good to see that Frank’s mental state is as ruthless as ever, far more despondent than ever before. Parishioners, this is the familiar yet unexpected Punisher. Get on that.
– Kenny Sanders