Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly review roundup.
Green Arrow #5 (DC Comics)
(W) Ben Percy, (A/C) Juan Ferreyra
Five issues in (six if you count the Rebirth one-shot), it’s disingenuous to continue to call Green Arrow a “surprise hit.” But with each issue, Ben Percy and his art team – Juan Ferreyra – surpass reader expectations by delivering a narrative that successfully folds in beloved elements from Green Arrow lore both past and present. The Ninth Circle is an enemy that satisfies both Oliver Queen’s superhero antics and political agenda, enabling his natural charisma to shine. The supporting cast is large but not not overwhelming, which gives the creative team plenty of toys to play with.
Character and relationship dynamics is the biggest reason for the success of Green Arrow. As has been the case for the rest of this arc, Percy nails the interactions between Green Arrow and Black Canary. There is equal parts adoration and tension in their relationship, which Ferrerya takes advantage of with his visuals. And as a bonus, Percy makes good on his promise that Black Canary will never be a victim again.
But it’s not just these two that draw readers’ delight. Emiko and Diggle are also given their moments to shine. Emiko comes clean to Oliver regarding her actions, which comes across as both genuine and contrived. Diggle, like his television counterpart, is the voice of reason amidst the chaos, albeit with a quip or two thrown in. Throughout their conflict with the Ninth Circle, Percy has boiled these characters down to their core and expanded on those characteristics, rather than attempting to add superfluous and inorganic traits.
Unfortunately, Percy’s focus on character dynamics causes the issue (and arc as a whole) to suffer from a rushed pace. The slow and methodical buildup over the course of issues #1-5 is wrapped up in hurried fashion. In the space of a few pages, Ollie “rescues” Dinah, Emiko is “freed”, and the Ninth Circle is (for now) dispatched. Before the reader has a chance to settle in, the story is over and the reader is staring at the cliffhanger leading into the next arc. However, the character dynamics are too enjoyable for the rushed pace to severely hamstring this issue. Green Arrow #5 is a blast from start to finish.
— Daniel Gehen
Spider-Woman #10 (Marvel Comics)
(W) Dennis Hopeless, (A) Javier Rodriguez and Veronica Fish, (C) Rachelle Rosenberg (L) VC’s Travis Lanham
Jessica Drew and Carol Danvers’ friendship is built on trust and truth – that they will always be honest (even if it hurts) and there for one another. Spider-Woman #10 finds Jessica Drew in a strange situation where she wants to trust her best friend, even though that means ignoring her own gut – a predicament no one enjoys finding themselves stressing over. Jess can’t justify Carol’s reliance on Ulysses’ precog powers in her own head, yet knows her best friend well enough to at least give the process due diligence by investigating a list of predictions to see if they’re accurate.
Throughout his two volumes of Spider-Woman, Dennis Hopeless has grown more and more comfortable with Jess, and in turn has developed her into a much more focused, determined version of herself. The montage sequence has become a mainstay of Spider-Woman, and again it offers insight into Jess’s adventures without overstaying its welcome. I enjoy the juxtaposition between Carol’s brazen endorsement of Ulysses and Jess’ fervent skepticism down to the final moments of the issue when she sees the news that Bruce Banner is dead. These three pages are full of emotion and weight that the rest of book’s art simply doesn’t have, which makes those three pages the best of the issue, but also underscores how mediocre the rest of the book looks.
Regular series artist Javier Rodriguez provides the layouts for Spider-Woman #10, but it’s up-and-comer Veronica Fish finishing and inking. This dynamic is obvious from the first page because I often wait until the end of the issue to look at credits and found myself thinking, “Why does Rodriguez’s art look so bad?” Knowing the reason didn’t change my opinion on the quality of the art, however. Rodriguez’s layouts feel stiff under Fish’s pencils and in effect, the art looks rushed or lazy depending on your approach. Fans of the all-new Archie will feel the layouts don’t allow for Fish’s kinetic aesthetic, and those who enjoy Rodriguez’s regular artwork might feel that Fish’s finishes look half-baked.
Spider-Woman #10 is another decent, if artistically flawed, issue that helps bring the conflict in Civil War II down to a more personal stage as Jess plays Devil’s Advocate to Carol’s bordering-on-fascist behavior. A vignette about an old Inhuman woman who gains reality-warping powers and inadvertently terrorizes her husband and cat through existential deconstruction brings some levity to a rather dour situation, and even though the art struggles to capture the tone, Hopeless manages to save the issue with excellent dialogue and emotional clarity.
— Jay Mattson
All New All Different Avengers Annual #1 (Marvel Comics)
(W) G. Willow Wilson, Mark Waid, Zac Gorman (W/A) Natasha Allegri, Faith Ern Hicks, Scott Kurtz (A) Mahmud Asrar, Chip Zdarsky, Jay Fosgitt (C) Tamra Bonvillian, Megan Wilson, Steve Hamaker
One must do something new or exciting with the source idea, or play the conventional rules better than most, in order to be a successful parody. I find myself unknowing immediately if All-New All-Different Avengers Annual #1 (“ANADAA#1”) is good or bad. In that instance of turning the final page without conviction either way, tells me ANADAA#1 belongs to the latter.
The narrative device for ANADAA#1 is interesting at first, but is weighted down by inconsistency in the effort of individual stories. Ms. Marvel, the young Kamala Khan, comes home and logs in to her favorite superhero fan-fic site, only to see that Ms. Marvel is the subject a trending love triangle with Nova and Spider-Man. As she scrolls through “her” story with trepidation, the look on Kamala’s face goes from inquisitive to invested, to unimpressed, then to incredulous, and finally indignation. ANADAA#1 will invariably lead some readers down the same path. Not even a cameo from everyone’s favorite SHIELD agent could save the book-ended ending of this comic.
To the creators’ credit, making a comic that pulls heavily from fan- fiction/ teen internet culture in a meaningful way is hard. Damn hard. Like walking through a vineyard of heavy and familiar low-hanging fruit on an empty stomach. Unfortunately, none of the writers packed a lunch beforehand.
There are bright points. Much like the Avengers themselves, the ensemble of artists are all unique in their styles and execution. The curves of Jay Fosgitt’s art in the pun-tastic ‘Up Close and Fursional’ sits well next to the inks for Faith Erin Hick’s ‘Squirrel Girl vs Ms. Marvel’.
ANADAA#1 suffers from the comics format. It’s an anthology with a low page count (six stories, 31 pages to share). With each writer garnering 5-7 pages max, they don’t have a lot of space to make their individual voices heard. This leads to some heavy-handed punchlines at the end of a few tales (I’m looking dead at you ‘The Once and Future Marvel’!) It’s either that, or, like Natasha Allegri’s “The Adventures of She-Hulk,” exercises in the non-sequitur.
— Anthony Amos
Demonic #1 (Image)
(W) Christopher Sebela (A) Niko Walter (C) Dan Brown (L) Sal Cipriano
Examples of demonic possession are totally at our disposal in contemporary media. We have major movie franchises, direct-to-video films, and even well (or horribly) executed Youtube videos exhibiting different ways possession can scare millions of viewers. Reading horror without moving pictures is a different experience. Readers are given stagnant, visual art where the most important parts are presented, and we are to fill in the gaps. Depending on the imagination, those gaps could be more horrifying than a motion picture. With Demonic #1, writer Christopher Sebela takes his shot at striking us with terror in a 6 issue horror comic about a man being blackmailed by an infernal spirit who’s out for blood.
Scott Graves is a detective who’s troubled past came back to haunt him after he encounters a woman who went through the same horrible experience as a child. That same night, after his daughter is taken to the hospital, the demon he has been connected to since childhood appears in full form. She offers to save his daughter if he kills for her, and he reluctantly accepts. Up to the middle of the comic, the pacing was a bit rushed. I understood Graves has a lot of baggage, but spreading out his secrets through a few more issues would have been more effective than throwing the big ones in the first few pages. This also caused the tension build up to be more sporadic. Despite the pacing, Seleba __ in character quality. I’m confident that I like and dislike characters respectively as Seleba intended.
Artists Niko Walter and Dan Brown give the comic a crime/drama aesthetic that compliments the horror genre. Most panels are heavy with shadow, whether the setting is outside at night or in a well-lit room. At times, panels felt rushed with unclear progression, which readers will find confusing. With that said, this does not revoke the story’s potential going forward. There are a lot of little things that the art team does very well such as expression. For example, there are the snarky looks Scott’s demon gives him throughout the issue to illustrate disappointment, in his botched first attempt to kill someone.
Compared to other high-profile horror comics that we’ve seen over the last few years, The Demonic #1 is lackluster. I wanted to read more, not because of the first issue sign off, but because it just stops. Despite an unexpectedly abrupt ending, the story has promise. In this issue, Sebela succeeds with creativity and gives ideas of different possibilities of how the comic will ultimately end.
— Kristopher Grey