Monday, November 17, 2014

Rant-Review Mayhem Part 1: Boom! Studios, Amigo Comics, and IDW Publishing

It Begins
We shall start this deluge of reviews with some smaller-sized purveyors of quality comic-books. These are the non-Big-Two publishers that are not necessarily as known as Image, but definitely good-sized contenders in the field of comics (Boom! and IDW) or a relatively newer publisher with enough cool stuff I think they could possibly grow their presence (Amigo).

Deep State #1
A brand-new release from BOOM! Studios, "Deep State" has the interesting hook that our protagonists are a part of an agency that many don't even know exists and which makes sure certain truths don't get out that could cause the world to collapse. In this issue we are introduced to our aforementioned main characters and learn some shocking things about how the moon landing really went down (basically, we had already been there a bunch before the landing everyone knew about). It's an issue of mostly set-up and I would have liked to learn more about the mysterious fellow known as John Harrow, but I overall enjoyed the issue, and considering how Justin Jordan is a solid writer I expect things will get fleshed-out appropriately in future ones.
3 out of 5 stars.

Thomas Alsop #6
Writer Chris Miskiewicz has been building-up quite the intriguing character in the form of the comic's titular Thomas Alsop. A realty-T.V. star who also is a magician tasked with protecting the island of Manhattan from evil forces. I was hesitant at first when the comic started incorporating 9/11, but it has done it in a way that is quite tasteful and cleverly enough has had other characters calling out Alsop for his plan to perform a ritual at the site of the towers' destruction. This issue moved at a bit quicker of a pace than previous ones, working a lot of events into its page-span and that made it feel a bit more rushed than earlier issues. Thankfully it does still continue to build-up the suspense of if Alsop is going to succeed at his goal of helping the trapped spirits of 9/11 or is going to just make an ass of himself.. Considering he has done an equal mixture of both we will see.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Roman Ritual #1
While Alsop's book may be focused on a more positive kind of exorcism, "Roman Ritual" deals with the nasty demon-influenced kind. Focused on the character of Father Brennan, the comic starts out with us seeing him in a church-imposed exile due to past actions which we only see hints of in this issue. It starts out a bit like your usual dull tale of an exorcist being called by the Catholic church for a big threat, but then the admittedly quite fascinating twist is introduced toward the end of the issue. If I may spoil that reveal, it turns out none other than the pope himself has been possessed by a demon and it may all be up to Father Brennan to attempt and cure him. El Torres wrote another comic I enjoyed, "The Westwood Witches," so I imagine that with things finally starting to get moving at the conclusion of this issue I'll actually quite enjoy the 2nd one. While at first I was bored with this comic, that stellar twist at the end helps this earn a solid...
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Beast Commandos #1
What happens when a joke is delivered so deadpan and without even the slightest wink that you almost think it could be taken at face-value? I guess you might end up with this comic. While the solicitations from Amigo declare this is meant to be a mixture of homage and parody of the over-the-top action comics of the 1990's, it is done without any hint of irony to the degree you could swear it is one of those 1990's comics. This results in a comic that looks good but has a story that is completely uninspiring. If you're going to do a take on the extreme comics of the 1990's and declare it is more than just a love-letter but also a satirical take you have to follow-up that claim with more than the usual "gags" of the hero seeming extreme and violent, or the villain having a slightly funny obsession with guns (maybe the one hint of self-awareness). As I said, at least it looks good and that makes it good enough to be considered average.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

The Bigger Bang #1
A new title from IDW, "The Bigger Bang" is a weird mixture of super-heroics, space opera, and humor. The overall concept is mostly just hinted at until towards the end of the comic and within some of the back-matter where we start to see it revealed how this being known as "Cosmos" has spent billions of years trying to help others throughout the Universe due to the fact that when he was created--in the only other known big bang to occur where there is already matter--he obliterated countless other lives on Earth and Mars along with causing general disruption to the Universe. It's a clever concept and one I wish were explored a bit more outside of the back-matter, as the main comic itself just sort of focuses on Cosmos travelling around space and doing good deeds in an effort to make-up for his own feelings of personal responsibility behind how his birth killed so many others.

The humor comes from an evil alien overlord named King Thulu who is both funny in his ignorance and a bit threatening. His desire to make other planets bow to him and how Cosmos makes that difficult forms the clear signs of some potential conflict, and the art-style is nice in its scratchy-style at making Thulu look a bit absurd and Cosmos appear impressive. This is a strange comic and one that I think I'll need to check out at least the next issue of to get a better feel for where it might be going.
3 out of 5 stars.

A Good Start
We've reviewed the smaller-level publishers and have gotten off to a good start of some mostly-solid comics. In just a bit we'll look at some stuff from Image comics!

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