Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Rant-Reviews: #1 Issue Fun!

More First Issues!
I enjoy when I discuss comics that have been running for awhile, but I know readers like my discussion of #1 issues as it helps them know if a book is worth jumping-on at the start. We of course know you can't always judge a book by its first issue (or a show by its pilot, etc.), but it gives us a solid foundation to at least know what we're getting into. With that in mind, let's review some debut issues of comics!

Starting at the Beginning (Obviously)
Cemetery Beach #1
A new series from writer Warren Ellis and artist Jason Howard, who have worked together on, "Trees," for publisher Image as well (they claim more issues of that will eventually come-out) and if that is a mostly slow-moving and plot-filled series, this is like the polar opposite of that. We open with some exposition via a man captured in a strange prison we are told is on a planet discovered in the 1920's when rich folk discovered a way to colonize other worlds. We get that sprinkling of story that he's here to report on it for the original Earth and then he escapes--the rest of the issue is basically balls-to-the-wall action full of gunfire, explosions, and the like. It's a solid first issue but I actually wouldn't have minded more story-content before everything turned to blood-and-bullets. Ellis and Howard make a solid team however and I imagine as future issues are released more will be explained. As it is now, not a bad start.
3 out of 5 stars.

Border Town #1
One of the first books to come out from the reborn/rebooted Vertigo line at DC, "Border Town," has some amazing art by Ramon Villalobos and some solid--if at times slightly clunky--writing from Eric Squivel. It is about a young teen forced to move to Arizona and has to deal with ignorance and the emergence of supernatural forces in the area. Squivel sets-up a fascinating story but sometimes the characters seem to talk in ways that just don't sound natural. Someone will start-up with a weird monologue that sounds more like an essay than speech (making a good point, but still just sounding weird), or just odd little things like that. Still, Villalobos' art always is just stupendous and the majority of the comic is highly enjoyable. It's well worth a read and hopefully a good sign of what's to come from the newly-revitalized Vertigo line.
4 out of 5 stars.

Rags #1
A new book from Antarctic Press, I was sadly really underwhelmed by it. Solicitations made it sound as if the book would be a mixture of saucy artwork and zombies, but while there is some of that, the book is just sunk by how horribly unlikable all the characters are and the lack of much of any plot. Our protagonist, Rags (a nickname) is mean, cruel, and unpleasant. Some survivors she runs into are almost all awful, a flashback of how Rags lost a fiance who also was a jerk feels like it  could've kicked-off the book instead of for some reason being at the end of the issue. Also, the general story is just a bland, "Zombies have ruined everything and we need to fight to survive," that has been done countless times over and either needs some really good scripting to work or else it'll seem dull and fall flat--this ain't no, "The Walking Dead." It's a shame as the art is solid and the colorist uses an interesting mixture of black-and-white with hints of color to give everything a neat appearance. Besides looking decent however this was a pretty unpleasant experience of a book to read.
2 out of 5 stars.

Plush #1
Another book from Antarctic Press, but this one I liked a lot more. Written and illustrated by Holly Daughtrey, it is a sweet little comic about a crafter of plush dolls named Carrie who makes a living creating cute plush figures but is pretty depressed a lonely. Through an undetermined magic one of her plush dolls comes to life and it makes her happy--after she is naturally suspicious at first. The comic is drawn in a cute manga-style and has a pleasant feel-good story to it that I enjoyed reading. I'm curious to see how Carrie will handle keeping her unique new, "Pet," a secret and will eagerly pick-up the next issue!
4 out of 5 stars.

Poser #1
Waxwork Records is a company dedicated usually more-so to records (hence the name) and music-related items, but they've been putting-out some comics now that generally (understandably) have music as a a big element to the stories. That trend continues with, "Poser," a horror yarn about a brutal murderer from the 1980's known as, "Poser," who has become an urban legend of sorts. After a prologue set in the past introducing us to the story, we jump to the present to see some 20-somethings dealing with the usual drama of life before it becomes apparent that the, "Poser," may very well have returned to kill and terrify everyone. It's a sufficiently brutal and scary horror comic that more than accomplishes its goal of being both reminiscent of 1980's horror movies (the Poser has a look straight-out of that era of monster-flicks) while adding-on a modern element with the politics and technology of today. It was some great stuff and any fans of horror as well as the musical arts are sure to enjoy it.
4 out of 5 stars.

Crowded #1
Another Image title, this is a comic with a killer concept but which seems a little unsure what exactly to do with it. Its the near-future and basically everything is crowdsourced or sold as a service now--not too far from the kind of world we are living today. People use apps to hitch rides, rent their car out, walk dogs, buy an hour of someone's time just to hang-out (not for anything raunchy), get a tutor, be a bodyguard, and take out a hit on someone--yes, you read that last one right. That is what brings us to the point of our story, as a young woman named Carried suddenly finds a lot of people have contributed to fund to have her assassinated. This results in her seeking-out a bodyguard  named Viv who needs to protect her for a month before the app has the contract on her life expire. It's a dark concept presented in a humorous manner but a twist at the end of the issue was a little predictable for me--Carrie put out the hit on herself in the app to see who would pledge funds they'd contribute if she got killed, that way she knows who she can't trust anymore in life.

The thing that makes this twist just barely work for me is that Carrie seems surprised just how many people hate her. The entire apartment complex she lives in, every single so-called friend, random folk she's aggravated. The extra twist-to-the-twist is kind of fun though, and the bodyguard character Viv seems to have a lot of interesting aspects to her even if Carrie just seems kind of evil. It's a decent plot to accompany a very clever idea for a world like ours but a little bit more, "Wrong." I'm intrigued enough to at least give the second issue a look-over.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Last in Firsts
There you go, an assortment of new first issues that ranged in quality from impressive to underwhelming. I hope I inspired you to try a new comic-series or two out because after all, if only the first issue of a book is out you can easily start reading it!

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