(Jay Faerber/ Scott Godlewski/ Ron Riley/ Thomas Mauer; Image Comics)
After a short hiatus from the conclusion of vol. 1, Copperhead returns with gusto with its sixth issue. Copperhead #6 kicks off with dangerous high speed chase in the desert. Scott Godlewski’s art flies off the page with lots of movement and action that reminded me of the podracing scene from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (Don’t worry – this comic is much better than the referenced material). Godlewski’s line work is clear and concise which makes for an easy to follow sequence. He uses lines and a layout design that uses a variety of panel sizes and perspectives to give readers a sense of excitement and speed in this chase scene. The script by Jay Faerber displays quick wit and humor between Sheriff Clara Bronson and her partner, Budroxifinicus (or simply, Boo) carried on from the first volume. This is all enhanced by Ron Riley’s coloring. The characters clothes and vehicles are typically brighter and distinct in color to contrast with the sandy desert that fills the backgrounds.
The relationship between Clara and Boo is unique. It’s one of competition, but also one of respect and care for one another. On the surface, it’s their duty as partners and members of a police force to have each other’s backs, but there are moments that display a more personal level of respect and care for one another. Clara came to town in volume 1, receiving the job that Boo wanted, perhaps deserved. There’s always been some tension between the two because of that, but when Mr. Hickory comes tempting Boo with her job, there is hesitation.
Faerber’s script is developing on multiple levels. The Sewell family mystery wrapped up in volume 1, but the characters introduced are becoming more complex as backstories start to be told. The history of Copperhead is also beginning to come into play more often. Ishmael and Boo fought on opposing sides of the war and what we see is the aftermath and tensions between the groups of people that they represent. We see two sides of the war, two perspectives.
The picture isn’t fully painted, but the images we have are becoming clearer and more detailed. Faerber is developing relationships with this cast and placing groundwork for some in-depth conspiracy involving Mr. Hickory and some ragtag bandits. The mystery of the missing Mayor is sure to play a pivotal part in Copperhead in future issues.
The script is well paced and the art maintains the ability to showcase a distant, but familiar world with Copperhead making it a worthy comic for anybody’s pull-list.
(Danny Djeljosevic/Diana Naneva; Loser City)
I really liked this book. I was bound to given that it plays on the tropes of sports manga and is drawn by the exceptional Diana Naneva. So it was always going to be a matter of how much I ended up enjoying the book. The book itself centers around a young woman competing in the world of extreme (read: deadly) roller derby in what will be her final derby, natch.
The story is light, leaving room for bizarre character ideas and the energetic stylings of Naneva to take center stage. The cast is largely made up of fun ideas for one-off characters (with the Gorillionaire being the clear winner) that probably couldn’t support their own book but get their moments to shine here. The lead character is somewhat of a blank page but, when readers reach the final page, they’re likely to come to conclusion that it’s by design and that she is meant to have readers project themselves onto her. For an ongoing series, this approach to the protagonist probably wouldn’t work but she does just fine in this one-shot.
As I stated earlier, the art in this book is gorgeous. Naneva colors her artwork perfectly. Her colors manage to be gritty without looking dingy because she’s not afraid to put in some splashes of brightness when it’s called for. Unfortunately, this book comes with a fatal flaw that keeps it from being perfect.
For being set around a roller derby match, this book does not do a very good job of conveying the action of the match in a way that could be described as easy to follow. The backgrounds more or less disappear as the action gets going and there’s no real way to get a feel for the geography of the match. Where is everyone in relation to the protagonist? How many laps have the teams gone around the track? These are questions that readers like myself might find themselves asking and that drags the book down a bit. That’s not to say that the action isn’t both fun and engaging, though. It manages to overcome these flaws with the strength of the ideas on display, the dynamic artwork, and a great final page.
– Mark Stack
(Jeff Lemire / Dustin Nguyen; Image Comics)
Those that haven’t jumped on the Descender bandwagon yet better make the leap soon. The Image Comics collaboration by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen has been a fascinating journey for readers, a journey which continues in Descender #2. The beautiful, emotive artwork from Nguyen invites readers into a fully realized world. That world is fleshed out by a narrative structure that thrusts readers into our protagonist’s plight while filling in his back-story as the issue progresses. That the creators can make their audience connect with an android on an emotional level is all the more impressive.
Color plays an important role in Descender #2’s narrative structure. Not only does the shifting palate inform readers as to which timeline is the focus, but it also informs the book’s mood. Cold grays and blues combine with thick inks add to the gravity of the situation faced by TIM-21, hunted without mercy in his lifeless home. Conversely, a range of red hues give the issue’s flashbacks a welcoming warmth – fitting for the details of TIM-21’s arrival at the mining colony. Readers are shown a world full of life and kindness. For an android seeking to understand humanity and his place in the universe, this timeline is practically a utopia. The range of emotion that can be inferred from a simple shift in color palate is a testament to Nguyen’s skill as an sequential storyteller.
There have been many stories featuring androids and the eternal question “what is human?” Some are good, some are bad, and a bunch fall somewhere in between. Then there are the few that make the ascension into greatness. Descender is on that ascent.
Jupiter’s Circle #1
(Mark Millar / Wilfredo Torres; Image Comics)
The premiere installment of Jupiter’s Circle brought out my inner Dennis Miller. Here’s the gist: the Hall of Justice was purchased by Sterling Cooper in some sort of hostile takeover, the Watchmen now have families, the offspring of H.P. Lovecraft and Aquaman tries to suck the memories straight out of civilization, Tony Stark wears a cape and is still pushing for government registration while Rock Hudson is being blackmailed by the FBI for secret identities after playing tummy sticks at Katherine Hepburn’s soiree. Spoiler alert, J. Edgar, here’s the roster minus super-Liberace: Walt Disney, Carey Grant, George C. Scott, Ronald and Nancy Reagan. And Phil Coulson makes an appearance.
Mark Millar (Secret Service, Old Man Logan) basically showed up drunk for the SAT’s on this one. It was like he took stuff from everything that worked before, threw it at the wall, then watched as a comic book morphed into a Golgothan. This shit-demon of a story was supposed to be conceptually edgy by taking issues that are in the modern realm of “it’s not a big deal” and thrusting them back-in-time to the Age of Intolerance. Somebody tell Marty McFly he ain’t getting anywhere near 88mph in this heap. Wilfredo Torres (Quantum and Woody) brought a few delightful touches with his artwork, however, but that’s still being generous. The only saving grace was that his drawings fit the time period, though it wouldn’t surprise me if his style was lifted from the 3-panel Sunday funnies of a 1940’s Dick Tracy serial. Heavy on the Richard, if you get my meaning. Hopefully Frank Sinatra was right and the best is yet to come, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
– Ryan Ford
(Brian Wood / Andrea Mutti; Dark Horse Comics)
There’s far too much nostalgia for the American War for Independence. It is often misinterpreted, over-simplified and the key figures have started the transition from historical personalities to outright legend. Worse still is the myth that minute-men militias are what won the war. Rebels #1, which is set in what will become Vermont, or the New Hampshire Land Grant, is dancing on the line of all of that. The difference here is that the story is being told from the perspective of the Green Mountain Boys — Vermont’s militia. The land that became Vermont had been claimed by New York and New Hampshire, and in the years before Lexington and Concord tensions began to rise there as settlers of the colonial northern frontier shied away from New York and aligned more with New England.
Brian Wood (Star Wars, X-Men) deftly tells the story and dances on the line between historical fiction and historical fantasy pretty well. Andrea (Evil Empire, Noir) Mutti‘s pencils are deftly executed. The one gripe is in the lettering, which isn’t credited. The narration uses a serif type face — think Times New Roman. It’s a bit anachronistic. It would add to the feel if the narration looked like handwriting. Overall, this is a book worth checking out if for nothing but the spectacle of it all and a peek at a part of the war that is often overlooked.
– Matt McGrath
Kanan: the Last Padawan #1
(Greg Weisman / Pepe Larraz; Marvel Comics)
Well, I’m glad I waited to review this after covering the Marvel: Next Big Thing panel at WonderCon 2015. Greg Weisman, Star Wars: Rebels co-creator and scribe of Marvel’s newest Star Wars comic, Kanan: The Last Padawan #1, was in attendance and had a lot to chew off about his newborn assignment. He informed the audience that the comic was set 15-years before Rebels“when Order 66 came down,” and that the reason for this comic in the first place was for the need to know more about who these Rebels were.
But rather than have a slew of solo spotlights on the animated show, Lucasfilm found it best for these stories to be told in comic format. “22-minutes doesn’t allow for backstories (other than Ezra’s). ‘You can’t do this, but we can’t tell you why’”, Weisman retells. Thankfully, the Kanan comic is pretty bad-ass. For Rebelsfans such as your Monsignor, there’s a wonderful Pepe Larraz (Thor, Deadpool) layout showcasing the whole crew up in the Ghost. For folks not familiar with the show, the other 21-pages showcase Kanan in full Ezra mode (read: ambitious, torn Jedi youth) during the final steps of The Clone Wars. The coolest part of the book has to be the All-New Aliens, a.k.a. Kallerans, who help separate this Warsie book from anything we’ve read the past couple months, a.k.a. before A New Hope. With the Dark Horse era of Star Wars comics now becoming legend, it’s nice to see a new hope in the extended part of this universe with the Marvel reboot as well.
– Travis Moody
Uncanny: Season Two #1
(Andy Diggle / Aaron Campbell; Dynamite Entertainment)
To start things off with a humbling moment: Your favorite Traveling Nerd has not read the first series of Uncanny, but I may be the best choice to review this new epic comic from Andy Diggle (The Losers, Thunderbolts). Thankfully, we are graced by an initial quick summary at the beginning as to what happened in the first series and thank the-all-mighty-Geek-hating-God for it! Uncanny deals with people who seemingly have abilities that cause them to be called “actives” (or like Marvel would call them “Mutants’ or “Inhumans”) and about those wanting to exploit them. Also, thankfully, this second series doesn’t pick up from the last issue but with a whole new story that makes neophytes like myself easily able to jump aboard. This second series starts with the origin story of the main character from the first series, Weaver.
Set in 1979, we are introduced to a young boy named Bobby Lower, who is helping his father in the midst of a bad situation having been shot by a “bad man.” Through this first issue we are taken down Bobby’s initial path of becoming Weaver– losing his father, in addition to his new unrecognized powers that take over while falling into a foster child program of the 80’s. Though at times his powers come off as crazy uncontrolled “Mystique’esque”, he is soon able to learn the ability to master them through excellent panel and story layouts. A second season can be hard to grab new readers or followers in anything, and Diggle does an excellent job of not only placating old followers but also bringing in new comic fans such as this Apostle. He humanizes the chief character from the first series in a very empathizing story that should yearn you to read more. Aaron Campbell (Green Hornet: Year One) gritty, realistic character art not only sucks you into a world set in the grimy years of the 70’s and 80’s, but also helps convey the mental standing and confidence of Bobby over the years. Diggle and Campbell have a success on their hands in the eyes of this Traveling Nerd. It may help that I’m writing this review on the streets of NYC which just seems fitting.
– Lance Paul