SinglesGoingSteady

Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly single issue review roundup. 

Superman #34

(Geoff Johns / John Romita Jr. / Klaus Janson; DC Comics)

star4

Can Superman lose hope? In so many Superman stories we see Superman’s influence on the people around him. We have seen him inspire people to help their communities, and talk people off ledges. However, this new story arc strongly changes that dynamic, with Superman primarily being an observer to Ulysses’s journey. Our new character, Ulysses, meets his biological parents in this issue, and Johns does an excellent job framing the story in a way that clearly has emotional resonance to Superman. It’s fairly clear from the writing that Ulysses exists only to take Clark though this particular journey, showing a character with such a similar background, and an alternative path that his life could have taken. Without getting too heady or blunt the writing in this issue explores the importance of hope to our main characters. The question that Johns is asking, which will undoubtedly be fundamental in defining the character of New 52 Superman: How long is it reasonable to hold onto hope? The issue delivers plenty of action with our introduction to the Machinist and his robotic creations (which initially reminded me a bit of Syndrome from The Incredibles), and the end of the issue certainly has enough cliffhangers to leave everyone wanting more.
John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson bring a very distinct voice to the issue with their art as well, though the unique style may polarize some readers. Personally, I found that the action beats were lacking, and the emotional beats resonated well. Certainly fitting for an issue that is more focused on the reunion of Ulysses with his parents than the introduction of the Machinist. Even more than Romita Jr.’s pencils, and Janson’s ink, Laura Martin’s colors brought this issue to life. The lighting flooding across many scenes, washing everything in very appropriate red and green tones, especially bringing a professional sheen to the action-packed scenes.
If there is one thing lacking in this story it is a lack of testing Superman’s hope. With all the talk about the limits of hope in this issue I would have expected to see his limit pushed. There are still a few more issues, so I’d say there’s a good chance that’s still on the way.
-Steven Cain

Aquaman #34

(Jeff Parker / Carlos Rodriguez / BIT; DC Comics)

star3-5

 

Aquaman #34 is not the best issue to jump into if you are new to the adventures of the King of Atlantis, or if you are a returning reader. Personally, it had been a long time since I checked in with Aquaman’s individual adventures, usually reading about him in team books and this might be the proverbial problem with a character as one dimensional as the king of the seas. Evidently he is popular or important enough for him to be a part of DC’s ongoing 52 series, but not popular or cool enough to avoid becoming the butt of jokes on The Big Bang Theory and other media.

 

This issue’s story, as penned by Jeff Parker, is a by-the-numbers fight sequence. In fact, the entire issue is one massive ongoing fight between Aquaman and a human sea-creature hybrid named Chimera.

The variant cover to this issue which I bought does not help with the perception that Aquaman is a superhero not to be taken too seriously like Batman or other DC A-listers. He is depicted in a weird pose mocking a scuba diver’s camera with a giant shark in the back ground with the word “selfie” in tiny font letters emblazoned on the cover.

I was never a big fan of covers which depicted a scene not found within the covers, but this is not the biggest problem with this cover: For an issue which emphasizes the gravitas of a powerful enemy threatening Aquaman and the surface world, this cover seems highly disconnected, even for a variant. I haven’t really been keeping with all of the 52 titles, so I am not sure if this is a trend which is currently found in all of DC’s books.

It seems like a lifetime ago that writer Peter David tried into infuse new life into Arthur’s ongoing adventures by having him lose one of his hands, replaced by a trident and altering his looks so that he resembled more what people think of when they hear the word monarch. It seems these changes didn’t take.  The best thing about this issue is the outstanding artwork by guest penciller Carlos Rodriguez and guest inker Rain Beredo.

The action is depicted in beautifully rendered colored pages with just the right hint of lighting added to the scenes above surface when contrasted to the underwater action. There is also an interesting sequence in the story which explores the dichotomy between Aquaman’s half human self. This is not groundbreaking stuff to be sure, one can find other fictional characters grappling with similar dilemmas (Mr Spock in Star Trek to name but one) but the sequence is handled quite well by the writer and the colors used to render it are in keeping with the ephemeral dreamlike state of that part in the story.

Ultimately though, this seems like a filler issue more than an all- out action brawl which is supposed to serve as the climax for the comic’s latest story arc. It may have just been me coming in at the tail end of this story, but if you are like me, you might be advised to wait until next issue when the “Future’s End” storyline crossover event begins in earnest.

- Ariel Carmona Jr.


Sinestro #8

(Cullen Bunn / Dale Eaglesham; DC Comics)

star4

 

 

Look out, comic lovers! I’m commandeering this congregation! Gabe here, and Wednesday was for Lantern lovers, especially if you’re a fan of FEAR.

Sinestro got his own monthly comic recently, and like many spin-off character books, it started off kind of slow, but man, things got going in this month’s Sinestro #5.

Before the premiere issue, we last left Sinestro sporting the “big shoulder look” toting around the all-powerful fear entity Parallax. The same Parallax that turned all-star Green Lantern Hal Jordan into a villain for a huge chunk of his character’s history. I bring this up because unlike the rest of the entities who helped replenish the light energy reservoir, nobody really knew where the giant yellow fear bug has been. . . until now! (Cue dramatic music).

The dynamic between Sinestro and Jordan has been solidified (in Demi-God Geoff Johns‘s last issue on the series) as basically the most intense frenemy-rivalship-bromance in literally the entire universe. So even though this issue is essentially a conversation turned pissing-contest between these two rivals, something occurs in the climax of the book that really tips the scale.

Green's Company.

Green’s Company.

 

Remember, we’re not reading a Green Lantern book, we’re reading a Sinestro book! And in a weird way, writer Cullen Bunn (The Damned) successfully gets the reader to root for our favorite yellow fear monger. The best villains are the ones who do evil with the mentality that they’re doing what’s best for everyone. In Sinestro’s case, we can clearly see his motive, his problem, and his mentality, and Bunn has successfully put us on his side; we actually want him to succeed! And even huge GL fans can’t help but see Hal Jordan as a guest star, and with his smart remarks, and boastful arrogance, Jordan is definitely the antagonist of the series.

Artist Dale Eaglesham (Fantastic Four) does great with the action scenes, and really holds the level of intensity throughout the discussion, which is hard to do when you have to draw half a book of just two people talking. His strong, straightforward art style compliments the solidity and focus of Sinestro’s character. And after Sinestro brings out the bug guns– (err, the “big guns” sorry, accidental spoiler), Eaglesham really nails a crestfallen, humiliated Green Lantern.

Bringing out Sinestro’s primary villain (which is already a weird concept) on the 5th issue of the series was a bold move, but this issue answered a LOT of questions, and really pushed this series into the forefront of the Lantern books.

- Gabe Carrasco


Bob’s Burgers #1

(Rachel Hastings / Mike Olsen / Justin Hook / Jeff Drake / Frank Forte / Brad Rader / Bernard Derriman / Tony Gennaro; Dynamite)

star3-5

 

 

If you can’t wait until October 5th to spend more time with the Belcher family, Dynamite has cooked up a nice little appetizer in the form of Bob’s Burgers #1!

Serving up these tasty little morsels are three chefs from the Bob’s writing staff: Rachel Hastings, Mike Olsen, (King of the Hill), Justin Hook and Jeff Drake with the ink flavored garnishes from animators of the show: Frank Forte, Brad Rader, Bernard Derriman, Tony Gennaro.

Hacky culinary puns on the backburner (last one, I promise), the resulting comic looks like Bob’s, and reads like Bob’s, but seems to be missing some key Bob’s ingredients (okay, I lied about the puns).

The issue is split up into three smaller stories, each one starring a different Belcher child. On the surface, the comic feels like Bob’s Burgers – each segment being just as witty, absurd, and pun-filled as any given episode of Bob’s would be, but the real meat and cheese of what makes Bob’s so great is the fully developed 22-minute plots, amazing voice acting, and songwriting (which makes you wonder why they chose to make one segment a musical).

In the end, you can’t have your burger and eat it too. This comic seems to be on track to hold the fans over between episodes, without spoiling the main course that is the fifth season.

- Myke Ladiona


Wayward #1

(Jim Zub / Steve Cummings; Image Comics)

star3-5

 

 

Image is at it again with some more anti-superhero status quo.

Courtesy of writer Jim Zub (Samurai Jack) and artist Steve Cummings (Pantheon High), we get Wayward. This Japan centered tale starts out more like a straightforward coming of age novel about a young girl, Rori Lane, who has moved to Japan to live with her mom, but the story makes a very Buffy sort of turn near the end of the first issue.

The art is very reflective of the culture the book is trying to represent, and the pacing is great. However, when the weird Ninja Turtle style bad guys show up, it feels a bit strange (even when considering that there are teenage girls fighting huge turtles). For some reason, you are left wishing that it was just a straight story without the supernatural aspects. However, this is only a first issue, and it does ask questions that desire answers.

Though, one can’t help but worry that there might be a Sucker Punch style twist to this whole thing at some point. In any case, it’s a reasonably good read and will likely flesh out in the coming issues.

- Ryan Scott


Guardians of the Galaxy #18

(Ed McGuinness / Brian Bendis / Mark Farmer / Justin Ponsor; Marvel Comics)

star4

 

 

 

Who loved Guardians in theaters? Are you fiending for more? Well, this is exactly what the galaxy combo team of Ed McGuinness (Superman/Batman) and Brian Bendis (Ultimate Spiderman) do for you with Guardians of the Galaxy #18! This over-the-top space opera is chalked full of big-action and summer blockbuster themes.

Though lacking the massive reveal as originally promised, this issue does feature Star-Lord, Nova (original) Drax and Thanos. Covering mysterious events that happened in the cancer-verse over 5 years ago, we are finally allotted the how’s on Peter (don’t call me Pratt) Quill and ole purple heads return.

Though better served as an annual allowing more page length and less “to be continued”, ish 18 does rank as the best issue of this new run– even if it has taken over a year and a half to get there. With exceptional pencils courtesy of McGuinness, ink by Mark Farmer and a color palette that’s blows off the page by Justin Ponsor, this issue is Marvel on crack!

- Lance Paul


Pop #1

(Curt Pires / Jason Copland; Dark Horse Comics)

star3

 

 

 

Dark Horse’s Pop #1 depicts that universe created by writer Curt Pires (Theremin) and artist Jason Copland (RoboCop). It has a very Luc Besson Fifth Element feel to the beginning — which I liked — as the main character Elle, their new pop creation, escapes from the factory where our pop idols like Britney Spears have been born. She runs into a man named Coop, who helps her.

A sudden “cut to” to “Dustin Beaver,” another manufactured star from the facility getting his knee cap blown off. Talk about a silly and over-the-top but still interesting concept! This Priestess feels pop culture is being used to make something “interesting.”

- Eva Ceja


Sundowners #1

(Tim Seeley/ Jim Terry; Dark Horse Comics)

star3-5

 

Let’s face it: If superheroes did exist, the majority would probably end up in therapy. Crack open Dark Horse Comics’ Sundowners #1 by Tim Seeley (G.I. Joe) and Jim Terry (The Underneath), and that’s exactly the story we’re being told.

Four different superheroes gather during a session led by Dr. David “Shreds” Shrejic– all recounting the seemingly delusional stories from their past.

The book does a fantastic job of balancing humor with the plight of these seemingly delusional heroes. Jim Terry’s art perfectly suits the story, and it was a pleasure to look at, largely in part to Sean Dove’s colors. Towards the end of this issue is when things really start to get more interesting, completely shaking up the narrative that we had gotten used to. I can honestly say I was caught off guard. I’m highly anticipating the next issue, and to see what sort of strange and creepy rabbit hole the title goes down next!

- Dana Keels