Monday, December 15, 2014

Reviews of some BOOM! Studios Comics from the Last Three Weeks

The Fuse is Lit...

I enjoy reading comics from a variety of publishers, but there are some who have stuff I've followed from when they first started to where they are now. One example of a publisher this applies to is BOOM! Studios, or BOOM, as I will refer to them from this point on so as to make my spell-check freak out less about the grammatically-inconvenient exclamation mark. BOOM came into existence in 2005, around when I started reading comics again, and I recall the old and new material fondly.

I remember some of their early stuff, be it Cthulhu-themed comics or the book "Tag" about a curse that causes you to decompose and which the only way to stop is by passing it to someone else--i.e.--tagging them. Yes, there was some good stuff from BOOM. Over time they have grown from their smaller output however, now releasing many comics from a variety of creators, and even acquiring another publisher--Archaia--a little while back as an imprint now. Thankfully, despite getting larger in size and number of comics that hasn't stopped BOOM from putting out books I mostly like. With that in mind, let's examine some of their recent output and my enjoyment of it...

Memetic #2
I absolutely loved the first issue of "Memetic" and while this one isn't quite as amazing (which is not its fault, as part of the appeal of the first issue was the suspense of wondering what the mysterious meme would do) it still is a really good time. Throughout this issue it begins to become more apparent how the meme may just look like an image, but in fact is a dangerous idea that's in a way viral--and constantly evolving.

In this issue we get a bit more character development between our two main protagonists, a young fellow who is unaffected by the meme due to being color-blind and a former military-man whose loss-of-sight spares him from the danger. I still love the concept as it is still terrifying of how it seems eerily possible for a potentially innocent Jpeg such as the comic's, "Good Times Sloth," to in fact be wielded as a weapon in our incredibly-technologically-connected society. Plus he just looks so cute:
Throughout this issue society continues to fall apart, our characters fight to survive, and the mystery of just who could have been behind the meme grows. All-in-all its a stellar issue and I am excited to see what happens in the upcoming conclusion!
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Escape from New York #1

I haven't seen the film "Escape From New York" in quite a long while, and while I can barely remember the details, this sequel-comic thankfully requires you only recall the ending of the flick (or check Wikipedia for a light plot description) in order to have an idea of what is going on. The reason for this is the comic is written quite well and fills-in-the-blanks of any questions that a reader who is mostly unaware of how the film took place may have. As I mentioned, this is in fact a sequel, starting up at the last moments of the film and proceeding from there. Basically our "hero", Snake Plissken, is on the run from the United States government due to his general refusal to play nice, and along the way encounters a variety of interesting characters.

The comic does a good job supplying the action-feel and dark humor of the original movie, making it clear that this isn't some straight-faced shoot'em-up comic, but one with a bit of a satirical bent, mocking a potential future (now past) in which society has become a laughable mess. Snake doesn't say too much in the comic, but he doesn't need to, what he does says more than any words. It is clear that Snake isn't a simple do-gooder willing to follow orders, but he also can't stand people who are evil and violent for no reason. This leads him to start heading down to Florida to confront a cult-ish militia which seems to have a strange view on the world and which has taken over the state.
This issue ends with Snake arriving in Florida and coming face-to-face with its twin rulers. It is abundantly clear that despite all the trouble we saw Snake go through things aren't going to get any easier, and that is perfectly alright as Snake has yet to meet a task he's unable to tackle.

I enjoyed this comic, but wasn't overly amazed by it. Snake is kind of a strange character, in that he's so amazing and talented it's tricky to give him a true challenge with some risk. If the next issue shows the apparently uber-powerful twins to be that, it will make for a good read. However, should the series just consist of Snake easily dispatching foes it'll get boring fast. As it is, we will have to wait until the 2nd issue and see what happens. For now though, I'm awarding this comic a very respectable...
3 out of 5 stars.

Thomas Alsop #7
This has been an interesting and very weird series. A surreal mixture of magic, media, and a main character who is as easy to despise as he is to love, the life of Thomas Alsop throughout this comic has been one of struggle. Whether that struggle is a personal one in trying to get along with his friends, or a professional one in facing constant backlash for his announcement of how he is going to perform an exorcism on Ground Zero in New York City, Alsop is always up against something, and that's how I like it!

This issue Alsop manages to break out of a police station and narrowly avoid being murdered by some other magic-users who would prefer he didn't exist. Chris Miskiewicz continues to expertly walk the fine-line of dealing with a recent tragedy such as 9/11, having other characters point out how to someone who isn't aware that Aslop means well, his proposal of a big exorcism event is quite offensive.
This is another solid issue of "Thomas Alsop" and with the final one coming up next I am intrigued to see what will happen. Depending on that conclusion I also wonder if we may see more of Alsop in future mini-series or an ongoing-series, but time will only tell about that.
4 out of 5 stars.

Deep State #2
"Deep State" started out in a way I found a bit interesting, with my hoping that we would learn more about our main characters--and the mysterious John Harrow in particular. Unfortunately, this issue is mostly just our main characters dealing with an alien threat from the moon, with us readers seeing the creature beginning to take over a town. It is perfectly alright, but has more of a horror-bent than the first issue with its mostly sci-fi feel, and lacks much of any character-development for our main duo.

The thing keeping this from being an utter disappointment is that the mysterious thing that is working its way through this town is fascinating in its foreign biology. Seeming to be a weird mesh of flesh and machine, the resulting creations it makes are familiar in some ways and entirely alien in others.
As it is, I would say this is perfectly average, but writer Justin Jordan has me hoping he will start to delve into our characters' psyches a bit more at the end of the issue, so this could in fact end up going somewhere pretty cool.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Eternal #1
A series about a future where people can make clones of themselves with all their memories--thereby making a person potentially immortal--this new comic was as interesting to read as it was confusing. The confusing aspect was that there is a lot of talk about "pures" and such, but the comic never exactly spells out what a "pure" is and why it is so important. I'm actually okay with a comic choosing not to hold the reader's hand and give them a big info-dump, instead leaving us to fend for ourselves and figure things out. As best as I can tell, in this future certain people haven't been cloned, and that makes them worth a lot genetically as their "code" is needed for everyone else to continue being cloned--at least, that is my guess.

Another thing that is a bit confusing is that it is not exactly made apparent who the main characters are. Could it be the officer fed-up with how "pures" are treated? Is it someone working to sabotage the genetic purity of others and save them from being harvested (or whatever happens to them)? I don't know, and that is perfectly alright as each individual we see a vignette with seems interesting enough to carry the book on their own. It does bother me that we meet so many characters though, giving each scene a somewhat annoyingly short feeling where as soon as we are getting the feel for things the focus changes.

While I don't mind the lack of having everything spelled-out for me, I do wish the comic explained a little bit more about the background of this cloning technology, and how it came about. I imagine how that occurred along with why exactly "pures" are needed will be touched upon, so I'm not overly worried. I am more perturbed by how the sheer avalanche of characters has made it a bit tricky to keep track of who is who, however. All of that said, this looks to be a promising series and I am interested in seeing how it proceeds.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

And There Was The Explosion
BOOM clearly puts out some good stuff and I didn't even review any titles from the all-ages KaBOOM imprint or now-imprint Archaia in this segment! While not everything is amazing, there still is a good deal to read, and that is why I thought I would spotlight BOOM in this segment. So, go out there and check out some BOOM! Studios comics.

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