Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s irregularly scheduled review roundup. This time, we take a look at a couple of highly anticipated first issues (neither should be a surprise) and take a peek at a miniseries few people are likely to read.
Redlands #1 (Image Comics)
(w & c) Jordie Bellaire, (a) Vanesa R. Del Rey
Artists becoming writers tend to have spotty track records. For every George Perez (Wonder Woman) or Stjepan Sejic (Death Vigil, Sunstone) that successfully makes the transition, there’s a Tony Daniel or Francis Manapul that disappoints. If the first issue of Redlands is any indication, Jordie Bellaire should have a long and successful career as a writer ahead of her. From the very first panel, her and Vanesa R. Del Rey’s story pulls the reader in tightly for a supernatural creepshow that refuses to let go beyond the final page.
There is an ambiguity in Bellaire’s script with regard to who the reader is supposed to root for, which makes the book all the more intoxicating. While the sheriff and his men are initially portrayed as unsympathetic, the monsters they are up against may be even more so. It’s a tricky line she successfully walks, as a story without a likable protagonist runs the risk of alienating its audience. However, by thrusting the reader in media res the reader ignores any likability issues in favor of relishing in the situation’s tension.
Del Rey’s sketch-like artwork plays nicely with the raw, emotionally charged story. The heavy use of shadows thematically ties with the shady history that is sporadically dropped on readers. She is also able to craft some truly unsettling imagery, from the individuals the sheriff has locked up to the hideous monster that infiltrates the group. Tautly scripted and wonderfully illustrated, Redlands #1 is a near-perfect debut issue.
TMNT DIMENSION X #2 (IDW Publishing)
(w) Ulises Farinas & Erick Freitas (a) Michael Dialynas
The first issue IDW’s Dimension X miniseries was a nonsensical slog, a far cry from the tightly woven narrative of the publisher’s core Ninja Turtles series. While this second issue is a slight improvement, it does very little to justify spending the $20 this miniseries will cost readers. If you already read the main TMNT title, you likely aren’t missing anything. Taking place between issue #73 and #74, expect this entire series to be summarized and forgotten with a couple lines of dialogue.
While the story (and likely, the rest of the series) follows the formula set up in issue #1, it is Michael Dialynas’ art that is the main selling point. He captures a side of Dimension X that is rarely discussed – if ever – across the spectrum of TMNT media: its potential for beauty. Much of this issue contains grand, sweeping landscapes and a variety of pastel shades to stimulate readers from start to finish. This series itself may be a shameless cash grab aimed at the hardcore TMNT fans, but at least the artwork can ease the pain.
Mister Miracle #1 (DC Comics)
(w) Tom King, (a) Mitch Gerads
From Grayson, Omega Men, Sheriff of Babylon, and Vision, Tom King has made a name for himself as one of the premier talents in the industry. However, those that had followed his title with the most commercial success, Batman, may be wondering what the hype is about. While those other titles have been widely regarded by critics and readers alike, Batman, has been pedestrian by comparison. With Batman being his most recent work, there was a twinge of trepidation with this latest project. However, with the release of Mister Miracle #1, readers are treated to a return of form to sorts for King.
Mister Miracle #1 was sold as the Kirby creation seeking to escape death itself, a premise that on its surface would entice even casual readers. However, King’s script sees Scott Free as a psychologically broken man, and at times it can be difficult to see the difference between “escaping death” and attempted suicide. But while the story tackles very dark subject matter, it is underscored by themes of optimism and love. That love is evident in the relationship between Scott and Barda, a love that was forged in the fires of Apokolips. It is that love that, at least for this issue, saves Scott from himself.
Mitch Gerads’ art is perfect for this Kirby creation. There’s pop-art inspiration on each page, and the colors can be at times mesmerizing. If anything it’s almost too pop-art for the dark and twisted journey that is King’s script. Of course, most of Gerads’ work is confined to the 9-panel layouts readers of King’s work have become accustomed to. While it does assist in giving the narrative consistent pacing, there are times it seems to limit Gerads in what he’s able to do, as evidenced by the opening pages. However, this is truly the only flaw in an otherwise great book. Mister Miracle is a true comics event that should not be missed.