Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin's weekly single issue review roundup.
Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #1
(Brian Michael Bendis / David Marquez; Marvel Comics)
The New 52 – Future’s End #1
(Brian Azzarello / Keith Giffen / Dan Jurgens / Jeff Lemire / Keith Giffen / Patrick Zircher; DC Comics)
Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis, has finally appeared in the New 52. But not exactly present day New 52. Futures End #1 is set five years into the future. Although gimmicky, this gives the book its own freedom to play around with without the restraints of the actual New 52 continuity. It works for the most part. Terry’s mission to shut down Brother Eye is quickly revealed to be just a smaller part in a bigger mystery, In which Stormwatch will play a part. Its members are mainly comprised of those whose books have been canceled, namely Hawkman. For a change, it’s nice to have a major event that’s not relying solely on the Trinity. The best segment in the book, though, would have to be the Grifter segment which I just wished had tied in more with the overall story. The comic feels very disjointed as a whole, otherwise. Not much has changed with Firestorm, still arguing amongst themselves, but the ending is the high point of this book. No spoilers here, but eager to see the ramifications of what goes down on the last panel.
– Dana Keels
The Woods #1
James Tynion IV has come up quickly through the ranks at DC Comics writing various Batman titles, and I was first made aware of artist Michael Dialynas in the Dark Horse Presents shorts featuring "Amala's Blade". That said, I was really interested to see their new creator-owned project at BOOM! and it didn't disappoint.
Writing reviews is a funny business wherein some segment of the audience just wants the sound byte, while other readers will actually dive into what makes the story and art tick. For the first crew, let me give you this – The Woods is like dropping the cast of The Breakfast Club onto the island in Lost.
Good? OK, let me explain. The Woods works because it captures the high school drama, all the various personality archetypes that the audience can identify with, all of the uncertainty of that time in our lives, where we question our direction, as parents and school administrators are forcing us to focus on test scores, college applications, and choices of major, all while we're still trying to figure out who we are and what our grand purpose in life might be. Tynion and Dialynas' story takes that precarious period and quickly adds an engaging layer of mystery twinged with sci-fi. This seems to be a recurring narrative motif in the marketplace today. I'm fond of books like Brian Wood's The Massive or Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari's The Bunker, which take equally sound high concepts and marry them to these types of character dramas and present the characters with ideas that question their reality – situations which might unexpectedly provide an answer to the "what is my purpose in life?" question, all amid cinematic sci-fi threads. It's a great genre mash-up space to be in, and The Woods comes charging right out of the gate, wasting no time in an effort to claim its stake in the territory.
The story itself revolves around 437 Milwaukee high school students, 52 teachers, and 24 administrators (including one seemingly inept principal) being suddenly whisked away to another planet, moon, or dimension, we're not quite sure yet. The appearance of a strange monolithic object adds a chilling sense of the foreign to the space they occupy on the edge of the titular woods. Dialynas' art works particularly well because his lines feel consequential, they are hefty and durable, aided by thick ink and rich color laid on top, an aesthetic result which gives the sense that the kids are able to stand up to whatever is going to be thrown at them. Thematically, my favorite part of this is really the sociology that pervades the proceedings. I mean, look at literature like Lord of The Flies. You stick a bunch of kids in a "closed room" and look at what happens.
When I was in college getting my undergrad degree in Criminal Justice Administration in order to work in federal law enforcement, I decided to minor in Behavioral Science. At the time, this was a mix of cultural anthropology, psychology, and sociology, and one of my favorite classes ever was about culture and personality, taught by Dr. Jan English-Lueck. It was about how your culture of origin shapes your personality and how that might in turn influence your ability to commit crime. Reading The Woods, I had a flashback to a paper I wrote about the Chinese educational system. One item that I always found interesting was that teachers were trained NOT to step in and break up verbal conflicts and minor physical confrontations among students. They wanted students to resolve conflicts on their own. The group should develop an internal mech
anism to resolve issues, an ability to govern itself without a formal authority figure stepping in (like that inept principal). They wanted a leader to emerge and to avoid something dubbed "The Missing Hero Complex" in society.
I see that thread in The Woods as characters' strengths and weaknesses start to emerge, and the story identifies the alpha members of the group and the more passive followers. I think this is going to be good, so come for the sci-fi hook of the premise, but stay for the interpersonal dynamics that form a thrilling high-stakes drama.
– Justin Giampaoli
(Greg Rucka / Russell Dauterman; Marvel Comics)
What do you get when you take a 16-year old Cyclops, drop him into the present, and then send him into space with his long lost father?
An incredible start to a very promising story.
Greg Rucka (Batwoman, Lazarus) handles scripting duties and Russell Dauterman (Nightwing, Supurbia) lays down the art. Having previously seen his future self and the not-so-nice man he’s become, one can only imagine the internal strife that young Cyclops is facing. With the revelation that his father, Corsair, isn’t actually dead, but instead has been raiding the stars — as space pirates tend to do — it’d be ridiculous not to join in on his swashbuckling adventures.
Once in space, this Demon Deacon really got the feeling that this book could go anywhere, and Thank God it goes into all the right territories so far. The main focus seems to be on Cyclops and Corsair’s relationship so far, with the Starjammers filling out the necessary supporting roles. The comic also takes on a coming of age tone, with young Cyclops playing the part of the wide-eyed youth in awe of his mentor, in this case his very own father. Rucka’s situation is certainly an interesting one.
Having felt like he let down Scott in the past, the brash privateer sees this as his chance to make things right with a second chance. It reminded me a lot of Treasure Planet, or even A New Hope. How might Corsair’s presence in Scott’s life alter the timeline and even alter the man his kid will even become? Expect at least minor repercussions in the future.
The only fault had with this issue is that a good deal of it feels like set-up, more introductory than substantial. Nonetheless, the end of issue #1 left me optimistic about the future of this series! Rucka does a great job of keeping the pace strong and Dauterman’s art is simply gorgeous.
Wherever Cyclops goes from here, I’m down for the ride.
– Dana Keels
Original Sin #1
(Jason Aaron / Mike Deodato Jr.; Marvel Comics)
Oh boy, another big Marvel event is upon us. But that's okay, because this one attempts to shake things up quite a bit. The Watcher is dead, shot, and his eyes have been taken (and, strangely, not by Dr. Dre either, Kenny SuperKick). Again — and here’s the line-wide theme of this week’s Fistful — there’s a good deal of set up and it may be hard for the uninitiated to keep up with the plethora of characters in this book. It plays out like a murde
r mystery, with a lot of characters’ identities left a mystery. Let’s just hope for a bit of clarity as the book moves forward, seeing how very convoluted it could get. Nonetheless, scribe Jason Aaron (Thor: God of Thunder) has a great mystery going forward, with super solid Mike (Secret Avengers) Deodato art. Lest we not forget White Fury, Jr.
– Dana Keels
(Tim Seeley / Mirka Andolfo; Dynamite)
Now, you'll have to forgive me, I have little to no knowledge on the Chaos universe, so I read this book with completely new eyes. Thankfully scribe Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash, Batman Eternal) does a great job at introducing everyone and giving a great idea of what their characters are about. Horror comics usually aren't my bag, but I could get into this one. Above all else, the book has a fun tone, gore, gore and funny gore. Which is only made better by the art from Mirka Andolfo (Fanboys vs. Zombies), perfectly balancing the humor and horror. Whether you're a fan of the genre or not, this is an issue you should seek and bite onto at your LCS.
– Dana Keels