Monday, October 27, 2014

Rant-Reviews of some Newer Releases That Just Started or Concluded

New-Comic Smell
Earlier today I did some rant-reviews of comics that have been out for a bit and either just started or
ended. Now, I would like to talk about some more comics that are beginning or ending, but these ones are slightly newer releases. Shall We?

The Reviews Themselves (Again)
Wytches #1
With Scott Snyder writing a horror-story (and I always think he is at his best when getting a bit horror-styled, even on his "Batman work) and Jock turning in his amazing art, would you really expect this comic to be any less than at least impressive? In all seriousness though, this is a great piece of work, even if the true premise isn't quite clear until some back-matter in the book where Snyder shares his inspiration for the story and how it will deal with the need for people to "pledge" others in order to get wishes they have granted. This issue itself is more of a way to set-up how a family, and their daughter (named Sail) in particular will be suffering due to the Wytches, an ancient evil force that Sail's parents seem to know a bit more about then they are letting on, but future issues will probably reveal more of that.

As always, Jock's art is amazing, with its somewhat scratchy-style complimenting the creepy and at times violent presentation of the story expertly. The Wytches are a somewhat hard-to-picture force, with Jock's hints of their immense scale and power allowing us to see just enough to be intimidated, and hiding just enough to have our imaginations concoct all kinds of horrors. Between Jock's stellar art and Snyder's scary writing this is quite the good first issue, although it was a bit annoying  that to understand the true "concept" of the book I had to read the additional back-matter instead of the story itself explaining things in this debut issue. I imagine future ones will clarify the concept of "Wytches" further however, so I'm not overly concerned.
4 out of 5 stars.

Sabrina #1
Another new series dealing with wytches, but in this case spelled the normal way (witches) and with the twist that this isn't just a normal scary witchcraft yarn, this is with someone who is possibly the most famous witch of all--Sabrina. With the immense success of the "Afterlife with Archie" comics that took the Archie characters and put them into something much darker and violent than usual, it was thought it made sense to do the same thing with Sabrina, although this comic takes place in its own world separate from any of the other Archie-comics.

As with "Afterlife with Archie" part of the thrill of this comic is seeing a character we are used to behaving one way and having it morphed into something quite different. Taking place in the 1960's this comic has a strong horror vibe but does work in some humor so as to keep things a tad fun. Sabrina is of course a teenage witch, but this isn't a light-and-happy witchcraft, it is dark and a bit brutal. Sabrina's cousin Ambrose (a warlock) is an interesting character too as his flippant attitude toward the rules of witchcraft is a good counter to Sabrina's desire to be well-behaved despite having her own selfish desires (such as making a boy at the high-school be attracted to her). The whole thing works quite well between the art and eerie-yet-not-too-dark tone, and I look forward to the next issue.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Standard #5
I've discussed my fondness for this comic before, and this fifth and final double-sized issue (with it even having a break in the middle as if to lead into a sixth) is a solid piece of entertainment. While not as meta as the third issue (something I loved), it brings things to a satisfying conclusion and has overall been a great tale about what happens when a Golden-Age hero ends up having to face the modern world and all its evils. Even though this is the conclusion to the story, certain sub-plots seem unresolved (who was "The Corpse"?) and I could see how this comic could come back in the future if desired by the creators. As it stands now though, this was a delightful mini-series.
4 out of 5 stars.

Punks: The Comic #1
I actually am familiar with the "Punks" comics. I somehow have a little digest containing some stories about the titular "Punks" that I remember enjoying, and am not quite certain how it came into my possession, although I am glad it did because that faint memory of enjoying the other "Punks" works I read helped me know I wanted to get this new release and enjoy it. As I was expecting weird abstract humor with a dash of the absurd I was happy when that was what I got. "Punks" is the sort of comic that makes no sense, but that actually is what makes it most enjoyable. As it takes place in a fiction with no rules, it can do whatever it wants, be that having a joke about pants that can withstand any punch to the groin (Wunderpants!) or suddenly becoming an activity-sheet like you see in restaurants on kids' menus, but of course with a much more twisted sense of humor (it may be juvenile, but the word-search having nothing but, "Poop," as an option made me grin).

One fascinating thing about "Punks" is how it isn't just the writer, Joshua Hale Fialkov, who makes it enjoyable, but in fact the art by Kody Chamberlain that, "Seals the deal," as it were. The artwork is a mish-mash of images that look pasted together almost as a sort of grade-school collage but with hints of well-done illustration. The strangeness of the imagery compliments the story well, with the surreal smiling faces of some murderous garden gnomes that appear early in the story working well to impart just how bizarre all the proceedings in the comic truly are. That said, comedy is a hard thing to do, and while this issue did give me some chuckles, it didn't crack me up as much as I would have hoped to give it a truly stellar rating. Still, for the masterful artwork and some solid gags I still think I can give this...
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Memetic #1
A new BOOM! comic, "Memetic" is a three-issue limited series that was initially promoted  through BOOM! and a bunch of its affiliated creators randomly posting a meme of a smiling sloth. Little did we as the populace know that the sloth himself would end up being a meme that destroys society--in the fiction of the comic only, thankfully. Regardless of if a meme really could destroy the world, this comic makes it seem quite possible and is amazingly good.

When I first heard about how the concept for the comic would how the sudden appearance of a "Good Times Sloth," causes society to fall apart I wasn't sure how writer James Tynion IV would make that work. Well, he makes it work exceptionally well, starting us on day 3 after the appearance of the meme and then rewinding back to the start. An immense feeling of dread built in me as I read the issue, seeing everyone around the world quickly become obsessed with this new meme (not unlike how real society can suddenly care a lot about some random fun image), and wondering when things would go wrong. Well, toward the end of the issue it becomes clear that the meme is not just a cute image, with it in fact causing grisly results 12 hours after once someone is exposed to it--with some exceptions such as one of our main characters, Aaron, being color-blind and therefore unable to be harmed by the meme.

When people start going mad the comic reminds me a bit of a zombie-story but mixed with the fast-moving insane-people of the "28 Days/Weeks" later series or "Crossed". The aspect of the comic that sets it apart from being just a re-hash of those stories however is how it uses the concept of our highly inter-connected society and riffs on the idea that such an easy way to connect with others could easily bring about our world's downfall. Also, the fact that it isn't until towards the end of the comic that all Hell breaks loose allows the comic to have a pace that isn't slow, but also knows better than to rush in to all the madness. By teasing us with a fear of what the "Good Times Sloth" may cause but not revealing it until we are already somewhat emotionally invested in the characters it makes the shock of sudden violence all that more scary. This was a really, really great comic, and I am surprised I loved this as much as I did, considering I expected something just decent. You should check this out for sure, just look out for that meme!
5 out of 5 stars.

Great Fun Was Had
There you go, a bunch of quality-stuff that is a bit newer. Go give them a read!

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