Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly single issue review roundup.
Darth Vader #2
(Kieron Gillen / Salvador Larroca; Marvel Comics)
I’ll be completely honest here with you folks, I was terrified when Marvel announced that they were publishing a limited Darth Vader series. I mean Star Wars is, and forever will be, my favorite movie series. I was hoping that it wasn’t going to be a terrible cash grab and as it turns out, I was so very wrong. Kieron Gillen has managed to create his own story while still staying true to the Star Wars mythology. Star Wars: Darth Vader is a most read story for any comic fan and Star Wars fan.
Taking place between Episodes 4 and 5, Star Wars: Darth Vader sees our (anti) hero under the watchful eye of The Emperor and Grand General Tagga due to the Death Star being Death Star even going as far as to hire Boba Fett to track the pilot down!
This issue of Darth Vader starts off with a bang as Vader saves the day for the General and suspects an information leak but quickly goes south when he realizes General Tagge wants someone keeping tabs on him at all times. Vader of course is not pleased with this in the slightest and has to find a way to keep his own personal mission of finding the pilot from Tagge and his pair of watchful eyes.
With a great twist, great action, and an awesome final 3 pages that leave you hungry for more, issue 2 of Darth Vader will surely please Star War fans and comic book fans alike. My only real complaint is now I have to wait till 3/25 for the next issue!
Criminal: Special Edition #1
(Ed Brubaker / Sean Phillips; Marvel Comics/Icon)
It’s the return of the Fifth Deadly Finger on the renegade fist of unholy geekdom. Your absentee Padre is here to wax wise on the latest, greatest from the Criminal team of Ed Brubaker (Velvet, The Fade Out, Captain America “The Winter Soldier”) and Sean Phillips (Fatale, Sleeper). Oops, I gave it away. The only thing more certain than death and taxes, is the inevitable noir-perfection that results when these two creators return to their much beloved property.
Making its debut at the new House of Ideas, Image Comics, Criminal: The Special Edition is a tour de force of comic book cool. It is a perfect example of what makes this genre so uniquely entertaining.
There is a comic within the comic that main character Teeg Lawless goes the full fanboy for throughout the one-shot’s 48 pages. Of course, his love for Conan analogue Zangar The Savage gets put on hold and violently interrupted when he stops to fight for his life, deal with double crosses, and generally do whatever it takes to make it out of prison and survive on the streets in one piece.
To get the full effect of the artistry on display, I suggest picking up a copy of the oversized version. The Savage Sword of Criminal edition harkens back to the old black and white Marvel anthologies like Deadly Hands of Kung Fu or the Savage Sword of Conan (well, Duh!) magazines of the 70’s. The range of styles on display by Sean Philips perfectly creates an “only possible in comics” experience. This is really a beautiful book to behold.
Bru remains the master of dialogue when it comes to scripting lowlifes and hoods. During the Zangar scenes you will also be drawn in by what reads less like a parroting of those past barbarian king books and more like a legitimate entrant into that genre. There is even a letters page in the back featuring an appearance by some familiar comic book names.
1970’s prison drama = check. Crime noir done to perfection = check. Death by comic book? Double check. Say what? Read the book congregation. This is a straight-forward, yet nuanced story that is well worth your time and cash.
– Guy Copes III
(Lee Bermejo / Matt Hollingsworth; DC Comics/Vertigo)
Such a saturated market of Zombie/Post Apocalyptic films, TV shows, etc., that it hurts to know that good intentions don’t always work out when tacking onto to an “on fire idea” and the attempt fizzles out. Sorry to say, it has happened again with Suiciders. With no direction I can pick up on — nor much of a plot — the main issue that frustrates me is that reading the comic feels like you’re being dropped right in the middle movie all the while attempting to guess “WTF” is going on. I can literally put this comic book together like a recipe built on the concepts taken from 2 movies: 1.) The Purge, 2.) Gladiator.
And that’s about it, yeah I know kind of sad right? Well, just have a read of it yourself and you too will ponder what was going on in the mind of Lee Bermejo. Your Bishop, for once, is questioning whether Lee was in the concept room of those films when piecing this comic together. The one saving grace for the comic was Bermejo’s artwork. If you know anything about his Batman: Noel, the man can draw. Matt Hollingsworth also kills on colors (but you knew that if you followed his work on Marvel). Whether Bermejo’s writing can head up to at least half the level of The Walking Dead, or even The Last of Us, is a question that may never be answered.
P.S. Did I mention I think I saw Lord Zed from the Power Rangers as a character in the Suiciders. Great, I think I’m hallucinating from Bad Comic Syndrome till next time… keep the Pencils sharp and your Ideas Fresh and Evolving.
– Richard Zom
(Mark Waid / Chris Samnee; Marvel Comics)
So, Daredevil is the blind, red Batman from Marvel right? He’s the one Ben Affleck ruined before he decided to don DC’s cowl? Okay. I think I’m caught up. Oh, and just in case I wasn’t, it looks like someone wrote an entire page dedicated exclusively to doing just that. Hmm, as someone who doesn’t really read Marvel, that’s actually pretty convenient, and still… kind of foreign. I mean, it’s nice, but almost patronizing. I can’t quite put my finger on it yet. . . Meh, we’ll get back to that later.
First off, I gotta say I’m genuinely digging the art of Chris Samnee (The Rocketeer). It reminds me of the simplicity yet effectiveness of Darwyn Cooke. The line work and colors are clear, concise, and to the point. The story seems a bit vintage though. Hero’s girl is kidnapped!! Time to save the day!!! Daredevil! Swing into action!! Even Daredevil’s dialogue is a bit old-timey and over the top “It never pays to underestimate any man willing to lure me into battle.” He may as well be pointing to the sky heroically, his other fist on his hip.
Mark (Fantastic Four, The Flash) Waid‘s recurring theme of spying, or monitoring is laid on pretty thick, especially since our hero’s main schtick is he’s blind. Hmm, real subtle guys. I admit it was a pretty awesome twist to have Kirsten’s kidnapping be a red herring to to what we thought the big baddie was gonna be, but I still couldn’t help but feet a little cheated. I’ll take it for what it is, though.
As the opening page explained, it’s a big deal that everyone now knows Matt Murdock is Daredevil, but I still feel a little unnerved that his girlfriend keeps calling him out by his first name. What’s the point of the mask then, dude? I can almost hear him whining: “Kirsten, I told you! When I’m wearing this, call me Daredevil!! You’re making this dark red leotard, and mini devil horns somehow look uncool!!”
This comic feels like a ’90s cartoon for all ages, and after reading through the story, well, call me the world’s greatest detective, because I’ve figured out why I’m so confused by that “PREVIOUSLY:” page! This is a kids comic! (Or at least a young teens comic!) Good for you Marvel. This is what I like to call a “gateway book,” luring readers in at a young age! Mwahaha!! It ‘aint quite for me, but after reading it, I feel like I just walked out of a Disney movie (which, technically, I kind of did.)
– Gabe Carrasco
The Black Hood #1
(Duane Swiercynzki / Michael Gaydos; Dark Circle Comics)
The story of Duane (Cable, Birds of Prey) Swiercynzki‘s The Black Hood #1 follows a Philly police officer, Greg Hettinger, that responds to a call outside an elementary school. In an effort to do the right thing he accidentally kills a vigilante called the Black Hood and is shot in the face as a result. Greg becomes disfigured — picture Two-Face as One-Face, eek, thanks Moody! — and starts a daily regiment of pain meds.
Hettinger also becomes a pain med addict that now wears a Black Hood in an effort to be someone else. Although, this sounds very similar to Arkham City’s whole Black Mask ordeal, the crime novelist still pens this version wonderful enough– all the while setting up an interesting enough character that you can relate to; besides, mostly the accidental Ace Chemicals stuff, of course.
Relatable, perhaps chiefly in part of Michael Gaydos (Manhunter) nitty and gritty art. Everything appears so torn and weathered, as if Dark Circle were the All-New reimaging of Marvel Knights. And yet despite my limited knowledge of the original 40s version (Archie Comics) of Black Hood, you can count this Sister looking forward to the next installment to see what Hettinger will do next. It’s almost as if he is becoming the man he killed to get rid of the guilt of taking a life: A story us comic geeks will — apparently — never get sick of.
– Jennifer Flatebo
Curb Stomp #1
(Ryan Ferrier / Devaki Neogi; BOOM! Studios)
At its core, Curb Stomp has some very interesting things going for it. It’s essentially a 70s Exploitation film in a comic with a cast of characters that have their own gimmicks and characteristics. My favorite of the bunch of Ryan Ferrier‘s merry band is Bloody Mary who brought shots to her friends at the “FU BAR” and proceeded to drink them in front of them. The art style, delivered by relative newcomer Devaki Neogi (Zombie Broadway) is also bright and colorful contrasted by some dark moments. Think Archie Comics crossed with Sin City.
What ultimately ends up harming Curb Stomp in the first issue is the convenient happenstance of the plot and the protagonist – Machete Betty. In classic 70s exploitation fashion, the levels of conspiracy for the turf war go high but the event that involves our girls – either called the Bayside 5 or The Fever – is too convenient for their own good. It felt rushed for the sake of creating the cliffhanger at the end of the issue, which is legitimate and holds interest.
The other caveat to this romp is Machete Betty who doesn’t even attempt to be a consistent character. Like a light switch, Machete Betty will change her life perspectives from flight to fight within a couple of panels with no inbetween. I can buy that she’s unpredictable and can swap behaviors at a moment’s notice but her outbursts and outlook don’t feel organic. She feels like the groups’ own personal Deus Ex Machina.
– Spencer Fawcett
(Vito Delsante / Khary Randolph / Sean Izaakse; Action Lab Entertainment)
With story by Vito Delsante (Superman, Scooby-Doo), this comic follows a Batman-like superhero named The Doberman as he recruits a young kid named Rodney as his own sidekick, The Rottweiler. Shortly after this joyous development, Doberman is [[[SPOILERALERT]]] killed by a masked opponent. The rest of the comic focuses on the circumstances of Doberman’s death and the search for the killer’s identity.
Now. I enjoyed the story for what it was. The situation between Doberman and Rottweiler reminded me a lot of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl in Kickass. Definitely enjoyed the artwork from Khary Randolph (Tech Jacket, Justice League Beyond 2.0), Sean Izaakse, and all the others. Hey! I was initially skeptical because of the dog motif, but the storyline has potential.
– JaDarrell Belser
(Ryan Ferrier / Valentin Ramon; IDW Publishing)
Poor D4VE. His job sucks. His wife is sick of him. His adopted son doesn’t care about him. Nothing will ever compare to the time he spent in the War, fighting for everything that feels right and important in the world.
Oh, and did I mention that D4VE is a robot? And that this comic is clever and hilarious and gorgeously drawn, too?
Written by Ryan Ferrier (Sons of Anarchy) and illustrated by relative newcomer Valentin Ramon, this former Monkeybrain online-only comic has come to BOOM! Studios.
If you read this comic in its online serialization, you know how much fun it is and how wild this story gets. If you haven’t, you have a great treat in front of you, as the wonderful art and delightful story combine to deliver a great mix of humor, ennui and action that will alternately thrill you and make you laugh.
– Jason Sacks
Thor Annual #1
(Jason Aaron / CM Punk / Noelle Stevenson / Timothy Truman / Rob Guillory / Marguerite Sauvage; Marvel Comics)
“Whyyyyyyyy!?!?”I found myself asking that very same question after reading through the three parts of this issue.
The first, a magnificent piece by the always impeccable Jason Aaron (Scalped, Southern Bastards) and illustrated by Timothy Truman (Jonah Hex, Turok), kicked this Annual off with an impressive start, dealing with an ancient-yet-still-incredibly-badass King Thor at the end of time. Very well told in the brief space it was allotted…
And then the issue takes a sharp turn to drizzling shitsville from there.
The second chapter by Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes) essentially dealt with the new female Thor and her struggles with acceptance in her role by the male populace of Asgard with the Warriors Three constantly reassuring her… Hasn’t she dealt with this already? Numerous times? Isn’t this old hat by now? **yawn**.Thefinal — and perhaps mostcringeworthy — chapter of this annualwas written bywrestler-turned-mma “fighter”-turned comic book “writer” Phil “CM Punk” Brooks. To keep it brief, it was garbage. A story dealing with what we would picture frat boy college dorm Thorpre-Mjolnir acquisition spending his nights… In a tavern. Drinking his eyes out. It wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that itwas meant as a comedy/spoof that you might see on Adult Swim, where the punchline of all the characters would be them passing out and saying “Whyyyyyy!?!?” Yeah.Whyyyyyyy did I read this? Right– because I’m a devout Thor fan and Jason Aaron’s chapter is worth the price of admission alone.– Daniel W.