Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly single issue review roundup.
Dream Police #5
(J. Michael Straczynski/ Sid Kotian/ HiFi; Image Comics)
Dream Police #5 is one of those middle-of-the-arc issues. Much of the world building has already been completed by Straczynski and Kotian in the previous four issues, which allows for this issue to slow down in that respect. The problem is it also speeds up too quickly. There are several discoveries in this issue that should be fleshed out more. They seem too abrupt and too convenient, yet they string you along for issue #6 to come out. The book still looks pretty with nice colors by HiFi and contains both the trope noir elements and surreal, fantastical elements that make the book unique.
I was on board for the series. I wrote about it with optimism in an earlier article for Comics Bulletin. I reveled in the color palette and was enamored by the creative blend of fantasy and noir that this team built. I was positive. I was hopeful. I enjoyed the book. Issue 5 just doesn’t work though.
Kate is supposed to distract the DP Captain so Joe can go lurking in the back files. What ensues is a short conversation that ends in one of those abrupt and corny, “…I just remembered I have a…a thing I have to…” which is a cop-out way to make the Captain suspicious, something a Police Officer shouldn’t be dumb enough to do. It’s something that a good writer like JMS shouldn’t do. The whole issue reads like there’s fire under your chair hurrying you to burn through the book.
Dream Police #5 runs around in circles and is an unnecessary installment for the series because the conclusion that Joe and Kate come to at the end of this issue was already met and stated in issue 4. It felt poorly planned out, like a diversion for the series to remind readers that the book is still being published. Sure, there are a couple of details that are mentioned regarding Joe’s missing partner, Frank, but even without knowing them the story would read just fine and reader’s would be able to pick up on what’s being said.
Unfortunately, this sort of issue is typical foreshadowing to a rushed and quick finish to a story arc and the death of a series. Hopefully it was a fluke and the plot will continue to hold strong to the ideas JMS and Kotian have no doubt put together, but I won’t count on it.
Archer and Armstrong: The 1% #1
(Ray Fawkes / Joe Eisma / Ulises Arreola; Valiant)
Archer and Armstrong: The 1% is a rarity – a Valiant comic I’m not over the moon about, an Archer and Armstrong book no less.
Well, therein lies the first problem: Archer and Armstrong don’t feature in this one shot, with the focus instead being a coup d’état within the secretive 1% Sect, one of the many clandestine cult-like orders that secretly run the world. Readers of Archer and Armstrong (and maybe Harbinger) will know what I’m talking about, but there is seemingly little here to recommend to new readers. Ray Fawkes (Batman Eternal, Justice League Dark) tells an adequate tale, met with clear and bold artwork from Joe Eisma (Morning Glories) and Ulises Arreola (Green Arrow, Batgirl); but there just isn’t the usual wild spark of creativity Valiant has been bringing to basically every title. Events in this one-shot foreshadow a new threat for Archer and Armstrong, perhaps even the Valiant universe itself, but from this beginning it is hard to get to excited about it right now.
– Luke Anderson
Superior Iron Man #1
(Tom Taylor / Yildiray Cinar; Marvel Comics)
Iron Man was never my favorite Marvel character. Robert Downey Jr. was never my favorite actor. But, somehow, putting the two together changed everything. Ever since Matt Fraction’s historic 5-year run on Invincible Iron Man, Tony Stark has been more Downey than his Tom Selleck-hokie-stuntman of previous years; he’s come close to overriding Spider-Man in terms of popularity (those recent movies certainly don’t help); and he – no matter what they tell us about good ol’ Cap – has appeared as THE LEADER of The Avengers since Day 1. He’s Marvel’s happier Batman. Hell, he’s now Superior.
Yup. The Asshole is Back.
Despite being one of Hollywood’s good guys, this is the role Downey was destined to play, and this is the role we’re likely to see come Captain America 3. What makes Iron Man so Superior in this ongoing by Tom Taylor (Injustice: Gods Among Men) isn’t the sardonic humor of Doc Ock. No, that spark, twinkle and swagger is still dripping off Tony more than ever before. This Superior Iron Man flat out just looks cool. The newest, silver suave Extremis feels far more persuasive thanks to Yildiray Cinar (Fury of Firestorm), who proves that – at least in this comic – image is everything.
As for the rest of New Golden Gate Stark, he’s just a prick. There’s not too much depth or exposition for his latest motivation for this one, and you’ll become especially lost as to why if you aren’t reading AXIS. It’s more like “I’m Iron Man. You should also listen to my trying to be hip!” In most cases, that certainly would be enough to justify following his recent spurn of whiskey-laden behavior. But with Superior, we’re only looking up to ol’ Shellhead for his showmanship — not his faulty, ‘stache-twirling Google analytics.
Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1
(Al Ewing / Luke Ross; Marvel Comics)
Taking place after the events of AXIS #3, we see the ramifications of the mini-series now moving through the other issues and nowhere do we see our heroes acting more out of character than in Al Ewing’s Captain America and the Mighty Avengers.
We were promised that, during the events of AXIS, our heroes and villains would be acting strangely and Al Ewing (Mighty Avengers, Loki: Agent of Asgard) does a fantastic job of making me seriously not like characters I’ve grown to really like. He used the surrounding cast just to show how much of a change has occurred with certain characters and even brought real humanity to the B-villains, too. At one point, Ewing actually has you cheering for these B-level bad guys and jeering against the title character and, just as in Marvel’s Hobogoblin series, you are left there waiting for the other shoe to drop; however, in this series the shoe hasn’t dropped yet. I don’t even know if the other foot has been lifted, but when it does I would be willing to bet money that Jason Quantrell (a new character) will be behind that foot being put into motion. I can honestly say that I have never read Ewing’s work before, but I would like to go back and read his other work now.
On the flip side is Luke Ross (Gen13, Dark Avengers)behind the pencils. His work reminded me of a cross between Bryan Hitch and Steve Epting and that is not, by any means, a bad comparison. It’s actually a great comparison. He brings a healthy dose of realism to the art. I read the book a few times to make sure I didn’t miss anything in the artwork and it was well-worth it. It was fantastic. I am extremely interested where this series goes.
– Roberto de Bexar
Deep State #1
(Justin Jordan / Ariela Kristantina; BOOM! Studios)
Deep State #, is an exciting introduction to a familiar and similar kind of world that we’ve seen before in works such as Men In Black, Warehouse 13, and The X-Files. What could devolve into rote and familiar (and cliché) territory instead skips the exposition and jumps right into an investigation of a mysterious, returned Soviet space capsule form the 1960s.
The main characters, the gruff and older Agent Harrow, and the young, energetic, newbie Ms. Branch, are a sly twist on the “mentor/surrogate” dynamic, simply due to the change in gender. Ms. Branch is a fiery, energetic young woman, jumping into action without really thinking, as well as being a capable, smart investigator. Harrow, on the other hand, is much the veteran agent (for what agency, we don’t find out yet). Justin Jordan (Green Lantern: New Guardians) packs a lot into the story, rewriting the history of the Space Race, as well as teasing the history of whatever agency Branch and Harrow find themselves working for. He gives just enough detail to allow the story to make sense, but at such a fun pace one can never get distracted from the story. Ariela Kristantina (Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy) creates a very unique look: rough and sketched, very much looking drawn with obvious pencil lines, and a deep, rich color palette. She also has a very dynamic eye for action and motion.
Although the final page (a big splash layout) resembles something out of The Venture Brothers, that is no way an insult: the comic looks and reads great. This is a fun, exciting read, and it is worth delving into the world of Deep State.
– J.L. Caraballo
The Kitchen #1
(Ollie Masters / Ming Doyle / Jordie Bellaire; DC Comics/Vertigo)
The Kitchen #1 – written by Ollie Masters (Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman), with art by Ming Doyle (Adventures Of Superman) – reads and feels like it should be the feel-good-comedy of the year, but it’s really the opposite of that. This issue introduces Kathy, Raven, and Angie, three housewives whose husbands were once mobsters but are now jailbirds.
The focus is on Kathy, as she convinces the other wives that they should now be “collecting” for their men and keeping the business going. Very quickly, Kathy becomes a ruthless machine who will let no one stand in her way. To be honest, it felt very “Desperate Mob Wives of the Jersey Shore”.
This series could very easily be turned into an HBO series or Lifetime Original Movie; if that happens, I would probably watch it because I love strong, take-charge female leads. As a comic though, it falls a little flat. Thankfully, there are only 8 issues to this story arc.
– Jimmy Cupp