Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Rant-Reviews: Three Long-Running Image Books and Three New Ones

Combining Concepts
I've done plenty of articles where I discuss new first issues of titles, and have made posts discussing books that have been coming out for quite awhile as well. I also would say Image is probably the publisher I read the most of, easily making-up a third of the books I frequently enjoy. I thought I would combine all of these elements and now present three reviews of long-running Image books as well as three new first issues. Let's review them and see if we learn something, I guess?

O.G. Books
Saga #46
People will often write about how, "Saga," features parts that make them really emotional and while I've quite enjoyed the book I haven't really felt that way. Well, one segment in this issue just totally wrecked me and illustrated why Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staple's work is probably going to result in this book being on those, "Greatest Comics of All Time," lists that folk sometimes feel like making. What at first seemed like a a bit of a silly space soap-opera has evolved quickly into an epic yarn on love, loss, and God-dammit that segment where the future-specter of a potential brother fades away from his living sister still has me bawling. Fuck you for giving me all these emotions, BKV and Staples! This latest issue of, "Saga," can easily be bought at Things From Another World, on eBay, at MyComicShop, or at a fine comic establishment near you.
5 out of 5 stars.

The Wicked and the Divine #31
I wondered if WIC+DIV as the cool kids call it would run out of steam once a potential adversary that had been in the book was defeated, but clearly the worst foe these reincarnated Gods will face is arguably themselves. This is the kind of issue that starts out kind of quiet and then has a whole bunch of shocking climaxes at the end which are sure to make the next issue amazing...but unfortunately make this one feel a little bit like a bunch of lead-up to some admittedly crazy moments (a character death I did not see coming being on of them).  This still is a stellar issue of WIC+DIV, it just isn't amazing as some of the best ones. That said, I have gotta read issue #32 as soon as I possibly can now! You can buy the newest WIC+DIV at Things From Another World, on eBay, at MyComicShop, or of course in all quality comic shops.
4 out of 5 stars.

Savage Dragon #226
If these are some O.G. books this is the grand-pappy O.G., as besides, "Spawn," this is essentially the only title since the dawn of Image in 1992 to keep somewhat-continuously running since then, and the only long-running one from Image almost always done by a single creator (various people have done, "Spawn,") with creator Erik Larsen occasionally taking breaks.  Larsen, the writer and artist on the book, should be applauded for having been able to evolve his book about an extraterrestrial Dragon all these decades from a general super-hero book to a title with characters that have aged, had children, died, and so forth all while making a comic that clever manages to riff on current trends to stay popular.

One of those trends right now is how our *shudder* President Donald Trump is working his hardest to destroy our Nation and turn everyone against each other, so Larsen takes this to a logical place where Trump would try and outlaw literal aliens from space just as much as he is railing against, "Illegal aliens," from other countries. The political allegory is piled-on here thick and with little subtlety, but it works. A fun read, it is amazing to think this has been chugging along since 1992 and that is itself admirable--that the book also manages to continue to be good is an even more impressive feat. You can currently find, "Savage Dragon #226," for sale on eBay or at MyComicShop and of course in stores.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Brand-New Titles

Retcon #1
Yeah, I wasn't feeling this. When I heard the idea of this comic discussed, that it has these characters who keep living life a little differently--e.g. getting retconned--that sounded interesting, but this issue just seems like a big of a disjointed mess of various plot devices and storytelling ideas--secret government agencies, paranormal forces, drug addiction, and more! Perhaps this is a case where things will make more sense as the book proceeds and this issue purposely seems a bit trite because it is going to be, "Retconned," next issue as a brand-new story or something? That would be cool, but if the next issue just follows-up on the tedium here I'll be disappointed. At least the art is good. Should you want to get your own copy of, "Retcon," then Things From Another World, eBay, and MyComicShop are all good resources.
2 out of 5 stars.

Scales and Scoundrels #1
I knew very little about this book as I don't generally go for fantasy-titles much, preferring sci-fi. That said, having read this, I quite like this Young Adult-friendly tale of a scoundrel (as per the title) and the mischief she gets up to. Despite, "Scales," being in the title and dragons having some discussion, there isn't too much in the way of dragons this issue. That's alright though, because we do get a solidly-told yarn that introduces our main characters, their quest for riches, and hints at more trouble to come. It is a well-told story that looks good, and that makes it an engaging read. I don't normally dig fantasy titles, but this cracks my cold indifference with its sheer enthusiasm, so that's impressive. I would recommend grabbing this book and you can do so at Things From Another World, via eBay, or on MyComicShop.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Realm #1
This is a weird one (that's good though). Were this not clearly a first issue I would almost feel like I had dipped into a comic a few issues in, as a whole lot happens and very little is explained. I actually appreciate this however, as many comics often want to give you an info-dump in the first issue and overwhelm readers with background-stuff. "Realm," doesn't do that, however. We simply follow some characters in a world that is clearly very messed-up and had some terrible things happen to it that gives everything a weird mixture of post-apocalypse with orcs and magic.

I'm immensely confused as to what exactly is going on, but that is clearly intentional as we are told what we absolutely need to know as readers and allowed to wonder about everything else. We don't have to be made aware of what made everything so fucked-up, it just is, and we're along for the ride. It is refreshing to see this storytelling technique followed of letting us readers puzzle things out and with the fantastic artwork this book is one that has my interest piqued. eBay and MyComicShop are both good resources for buying the first issue of, "Realm."
4 out of 5 stars.

Old(er) and New, Done With Review(s)
Image puts out a lot of winners and will sometimes miss too, of course. That said, the books that have been running for awhile clearly succeed thanks to their ability to hook-in readers with incredible worlds, great plotting, and impressive artwork. Assuming these newer books can manage to have all that they may very well climb-up high in their issue-count too (or if mini-series, get multiple minis, you know what I mean). We shall see!

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