Friday, February 21, 2014

Rant-Reviews--Five First Issues of Random New Series

The Intro
My God, it really has been forever since I've done capsule reviews, hasn't it? The last time I engaged in "true" miniaturized reviews was back in May of 2013 when  I spent a day discussing Marvel comics in the Morning and other publishers in the Afternoon/Evening.

Perhaps I haven't done much in the way of capsule reviews because I've enjoyed  giving more detailed thoughts on certain comics. Maybe I haven't done mini-reviews because I read fewer titles. Perhaps I just didn't feel like it.

Whatever the reason I haven't done these sorts of reviews for awhile. However, because I have recently read a bunch of "first issues" of various series (or mini-series) I thought I would share my thoughts on them in somewhat bite-sized form. None of the comics were bad by any means, but some definitely were great and others just  good. Keep reading to see what I mean...

The Reviews
Loki: Agent of Asgard #1
For quite some time Loki has been written by Kieron Gillen, who sort of rehabilitated the character's image from being a simple one-dimensional bad-guy into the youthful trickster we know and love. From the re-booted "Journey Into Mystery" to his shenanigans in the amazingly-awesome (and sadly just-ended) "Young Avengers", Loki has been doing marvelous stuff thanks to Gillen and his artists. Hence, when I heard someone besides Gillen would be writing this title, Al Ewing, I had some nervousness.

I'm not familiar with much of Ewing's previous work, but have been enjoying his "Mighty Avengers" despite Greg Land's art and thought if the same quality could be carried over to this book all would be fine. Luckily, all is indeed fine and possibly even better, because "Loki: Agent of Asgard" is an incredibly fun romp discussing some of Loki's past and much of what he hopes for the present (and future). This comic has the Loki who is not evil, but more of a fun and lovable trickster. The tone hits just the right mixture of adventure, comedy, and foreboding with a surprising twist at the end,  making for a comic that had me wondering what I was all worried about. This is a wonderful first issue and shows that maybe there are some fresh ideas in the "House of Ideas"/Marvel after all.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Royals: Masters of War #1
This comic basically asks, "What if Royalty, in addition to having everything, also had super-powers?" and then runs with the idea. We have some exposition explaining to us how throughout time Kings, Queens, and their offspring from various nations have had super-abilities, but things are currently at a point in World War II where it is agreed no such powers will be used. At least, that is the case until one of the royal sons gets fed-up with all the pointless death and destruction, and takes action...which then sets us up for future issues which will undoubtedly have lots of fighting between royal-folk who have powers.

Rob Williams (who wrote the awesome "Daken" comics I loved a bit ago) turns in a sturdy script and the art by Simon Coleby makes everything look "grounded" enough that there isn't too much of a disconnect between the 1940's atmosphere and people with the ability to fly--it probably helps no one is wearing a bright costume or such. This is a solid comic, but it hints at much more interesting things coming than which actually occur in this issue. In other words, it is good enough for a flip-through but maybe it'll read better in trade with the whole story collected.
3 out of 5 stars.

The Bunker #1
Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Joe Infurnari have a story here that is a strange mixture of science-fiction, young-adult drama, and a dash of horror. Basically, a group of good friends (some of whom are couples) stumble upon a mysterious bunker when going out to put away a time capsule before they all split up for their various jobs and such they now have. Inside the bunker they discover messages from their future selves that warn how they are going to be responsible for the near-destruction of the Earth. The question now becomes if these letters will help them avoid the mass-death and violence they seem destined for, or only ensure the horrible things we see in the mixture of past-and-present storytelling come true for sure. It is all pretty trippy.

The science-fiction aspects of the story are evident, where I get the feeling of hints of horror would be in how the characters are freaking out and trying to run away from this dark destiny almost as if they were the same youths in a slasher film attempting to dash away from a chain-saw wielding maniac. Plus, the horrible things we hear about and see are almost more scary than any monster could ever be--if only because the idea of humanity almost being wiped out the way the story describes sounds so eerily plausible (and no, I won't spoil just what puts humankind near the brink of extinction, finding out is part of the fun). This comic has a fascinating concept, plays out interestingly, and I wonder just where things will be going next.
4 out of 5 stars.

X-Force #1
This is an odd one. The art is by someone I don't recall ever seeing the work of before, Rock-He Kim, and it is a new "X-Force" comic, kind-of spinning out the previous two that ran for a bit. The odd part is that with Si Spurrier is writing it, there is a quirky and slightly-absurd tone, but Rock-He Kim's art style reminds me of the excessively muscular and tough-style comics of the 1990's. Therefore, it is almost like a tonal clash between the writing and art. Spurrier is pretty much done now with "X-Men Legacy", and that too had a somewhat off-kilter style, but the art matched it. I just feel kind of strange reading dialogue and captions that seem to be a tonal 180 degrees from the art.

The thing is though, it kind of actually almost works. The story is interesting, and the art isn't bad so much as giving me flashbacks to 20 years ago; the weird mashing-up may give a reader weird feelings, but I still liked the comic plenty. I just wonder if Rock-He Kim would be better served on a more serious straight-up action comic and Spurrier would be more complimented by an artist in the vein of his previous collaborators on "X-Men Legacy". I may just really miss "Legacy" however and be trying to imagine this comic being something it's not because as I've said before, "X-Men Legacy" is/was a really, really good comic. This isn't a really good comic, but it is a good one and I'm interested in seeing where Spurrier will be taking the plot and if eventually the art will feel like it meshes better with the tone. We shall see. Oh, and I give Spurrier bonus respect for remembering something most writers forget, that Fantomex likes to pretend he is French and speak with an accent.
3.5 out of 5 stars (the extra .5 is for remembering the accent for Fantomex).

The Fuse #1
As with "The Bunker" this is a science-fiction comic, but this one isn't scary so much as an example of what could occur if you mixed a police-procedural with a futuristic spaceship tons of people live upon. Antony Johnston writes about a gigantic piece of metal floating in space where life sounds kind of miserable, and the idea of a cop volunteering to work there--as one of our protagonists named Dietrich has--sounds utterly absurd. There is humor (much of it from the grizzled old detective, Klem, she isn't one for beating around the bush), some action, and of course a mystery that needs solving and which will hopefully be figured out successfully by our investigators.

While this comic does a good job of establishing our main characters, they do come off as a bit one-dimensional. Klem is older and sarcastic, and Dietrich is serious and clearly a talented officer, but what else is there to them? I also feel as if readers don't really get a feel for what life is like for people who live on the Fuse, or why exactly it is supposedly such a bad place. Perhaps later issues will delve into those matters more, but as it stands now this is a comic that has a great concept and some quality storytelling. The thing that will determine if this is truly an awesome comic is how interesting the current mystery (and future ones) turn out to be, and if there is more to Klem and Dietrich than initially meets the eye.
3 out of 5 stars.

The Closing
A variety of comics have debuted lately, and it is encouraging to see many of them are good as opposed to boring junk. Perhaps I've just been lucky enough to not stumble across a particularly bad comic lately, but we all know they are lurking out there.

I suppose the key is to be open to examining new things, because you never know what fascinating comic you may find. Of course, should a comic be so good you want to get all future issues you may need to cut something else if you are on a tight budget like myself, but so is life.

I hope these new capsule reviews were enjoyable enough to make up for their lack of appearances for some time, and maybe I'll get more up in the future before as much time has passed. I guess the key is there being enough comics I want to talk about, but not do too in-depth with. We will see.

No comments:

Post a Comment