Singles Going Steady 4/15/2014: The Weapon Comes Alive

A comic review article by: CW Cooke, Guy Copes III, Justin Giampaoli, Lance Paul

Singles Going Steady

Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin's weekly single issue review roundup. 

Manifest Destiny #6

(Chris Dingess / Matthew Roberts; Image Comics)

5 stars

Chris Dingess has a way with words. Whether it’s Lewis & Clark being just flat out exasperated, repeatedly, about the “absurd” nature of flora infected animals, the way one redacted word changes the nature of a government report to soften the language and whitewash the official record, or the brilliantly short, crisp, and declarative Hemingway style line: “Lewis. Greek Fire. Now.” it’s clear that Dingess loves the language and can make it do what he wants, to great effect.

This issue is basically an extended action sequence perfectly rendered by Matthew Roberts, as the Corps of Discovery flees their immediate area, from one calamity to the next – enduring everything from bears to skunks to sinkholes, while suffering heavy casualties. From the organic mind-altering pharmacological qualities of the flora they encounter, to the friendship extant between Lewis & Clark, to the arrival of Sacagawea, it’s also clear that this is one of the best colored comics today at the hands of Owen Gieni.

Despite their heavy losses, the Corps trudges forward essentially reliant on their burgeoning American Spirit, a sense of the hopeful amid the horrific. The creative team also indicates that the narrative plan is to move the Corps of Discovery all the way to the Pacific Ocean and traverse back across the Louisiana Purchase for what should be an extended run. I couldn’t be happier about all that story left on the horizon. This is good comics, and if you’re not checking it out, you’re missing one of the best books of the year.

- Justin Giampaoli


Iron Fist: the Living Weapon #1

(Kaare Andrews; Marvel Comics)

4 stars

What can I say? I love me some kung fu. I've been a fan of the Immortal Iron Fist and Shang-Chi for about as long as I've been reading comics. Both have had great runs of comics, but Iron Fist seems to get the better portion of that. Is this another of those?

Street Fight THIS, Capcom.

Street Fight THIS, Capcom.

Certainly. Kaare Andrews (Astonishing X-Men) did the work and then some. He's put together a comic that is just head and shoulders above countless others out there. This is a kung fu comic like the days of old, and it's printed to look like those old newsprints we used to tear through as kids and read fifteen times just to get the feel for Danny Rand.

And that's what Kaare has done. He has the feeling of Danny Rand flowing through these pages. Danny is an outsider to everything. He's a lost puppy. He's a lonely man getting older by the day and he can't talk to anyone because.. he's a warrior and a simple guy with simple pleasures. You know, kicking the crap out of zombie ninjas, it just so happens, and also having a glowing fistthat can take out a helicopter.

Chinese Cereal.

Chinese Cereal.

But here's the thing: it's not just all chop suey and kung fu. There's a story to be told. Not only are we looking deep into the heart of Danny Rand, we're going back to the beginning. The story of his youth. The story of his father's death. The story of everything that lead him to K'un Lun. The story of how he got to be the Iron Fist. And that's the only problem I can see coming up in this book. I'm not a fortune teller and I can't see the future, but we know that story. We've heard it. Numerous times. Done by people like Larry Hama and Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker and countless others. The tale of Danny's father and the tale of how Danny got stuck in K'un Lun is an old story.

What I want? I want the future of Danny Rand. He's been to hell and back. He's fought dragons. Held off the Phoenix from defeating the entire universe. He has done so much and I think going back is not the right choice.

Still, I loved it. The feeling of The Living Weapon #1. The way the pages look like the old school comics. The callbacks and the knowledge of the past. The art and story and everything Kaare is doing is cinematic and incredible. The origin tale is what keeps this new All-New Iron Fist from being the perfect comic.


Shutter #1

(Joe Keatinge / Leila Del Luca / Owen Gieni / Ed Brisson; Image Comics)

4.5 stars

Cue up the ol' Coldplay.

Cue up the ol’ Coldplay.

One thing is for certain: This is a truly beautiful book. Owen Gieni (Manifest Destiny) on colors, Leila Del Duca (Deadskins) on art, and Ed Brisson (Sheltered) on letters sure know how to make things pretty. And Joe Keatinge (Glory) is just doing work above most others these days. So what is this? Yet another in a long line of crazy wonderful Image Comics, with flourishes of Indiana Jones and Jonny Quest — all through the eyes of a young girl trying to find her place in the world. Bull-men. Ghost Ninjas. Tik-Tok from Oz. And sometimes that place involves a world that is all future and craziness and everything one would expect from the Image or Wildstorm Comics of old. The Top Tens, the Astro Citys. This could be another one of those, but it ended so quickly. It was damn near over before it began. The good news? I want more. I really do. That doesn’t happen as much these days.

- CW Cooke


Star Wars #16

(Stéphane Créty / Julien Hugonnard-Bert / Gabe Eltaeb; Dark Horse Comics)

4.5 stars

One of the things I’ve always loved about Star Wars, or Battlestar Galactica, or any fully realized sci-fi really, was a sense of dedication to the military/procedural tactical bits. With all the talk of the Z-95 Headhunters (which were durable, if somewhat clunky precursors to the Incom T-65 X-Wings) and shots of the CR-90 Corvettes and A-Wings in the distance, this issue delivers enough of that to satisfy the tech junkies.

What I loved most about the way Brian Wood, Stephane Crety, and Gabe Eltaeb constructed this issue was all the foreshadowing that occurs both visually and thematically to ESB and what occurs on Hoth, which is one of my favorite cinematic experiences, like, ever. It all culminates with a last page reveal that is pretty damn familiar and smartly builds a sense of dread in the reader. The issue is really focused on the on-ground realities of the deal the Rebel Alliance struck with Arrochar. Grunts on the front lines have to carry out an arrangement made at a high political level, and that creates some tension that Luke finds himself in the middle of.

In the Arrochar Mountain Ranger sequence, there’s a small goof where one of Luke’s speech balloons is attributed to a Ranger, but otherwise this was an extremely solid issue that shows success is about more than equipment and brave pilots, yet without adequate tech being used as a tool, victory can also be hampered. There’s a precarious balance to warfare, and the creative team captures the feeling of the rebels being perpetually on the run against great odds, politically, personally, and militarily.

- Justin Giampaoli


Nightcrawler #1

(Chrs Claremont / Todd Nauck; Marvel Comics)

3.5 stars

This is a very special All-New Marvel Now release — not only for the return of Nightcrawler, but also for the return of the great Chris Claremont (Uncanny X-Men, of course). In recent years, least to this comic scribe’s opinion, Chris has been basking in all his X-Men glory. Since wrapping up his 17-year run in 1991, Claremont has yet to reach the same plateau that inspired all of those wonderful X-films you see out there today. Nightcrawler #1, at least, gives the creator that chance to capture his own essence, working best with a more intimate character development.

Besties.

Besties.

This comic takes place right after the end of Jason Aaron's run on Amazing X-Men, and like what happens anytime I have died and been brought back, pun intended, a certain amount of adjustment takes place. Who won the WWE Championship? What happened in Breaking Bad? Where's my soul? All this and more (not really) are answered, or at least Nighty reconnects with some of the past Claremont scripted characters. He finds time to rekindle a little of that love.

The combination of CC's writing and art by Todd Nauck (Teen Titans, Amazing Spider-Man) has the potential for this to be one of Chris's best post-'91 projects, despite a few faults. The story is a bit forced, especially when we see Kurt reuniting with Amanda once again. But hell, this is the comics; “normal” reactions get tossed out the window when you fight crime in spandex. Another tick I have on Clairmont’s writing too, is that he constantly finds the time to explain his characters’ special powers but lacks to actually acknowledge the elephant in the room.

Why is Kurt not worried about his current soulless existence?

- Lance Paul


Batman Eternal #1

(Scott Snyder / James Tynion IV / Ray Fawkes / John Layman / Tim Seeley / Jason Fabok; DC Comics)

2.5 stars

Hmm. It feels like an appetizer heading into a main course. It doesn’t feel like the whole kit and caboodle. It just feels like, the start.

Eternal Revenue.

Eternal Revenue.

The weekly series, Eternal, is supposed to give us a widening view of what the entirety of the DC universe and Batman’s role in it all. This issue gives us quite a few things and quite a few little tidbits, but the majority of it plays out like a quick episode of the Beware the Batman cartoon, only amped up for older audiences.

Jim Gordon is a main character here, as is the introduction of Jason Bard, and we get glimpses at a lot of characters in the MCU at Gotham PD.

The big problem is, like I said, not much happens. If Batman: Eternal is going to be a big event series, big things should happen. One major thing happens, I suppose; but no one in their right mind reading this book would ever think that it is going to stick. How they’re going to find a way out of this mess is framed from the get-go, with Jason Bard the seeming work around.

Avoiding spoilers obviously. But it begs the question: Is that all? Is that really everything?

An appearance by the worst villain this side of Magpie or Orca, Professor Pyg, and the issue is over before it even begins.

For a starting point, Eternal sure lacks a lot of meat. Some may feel inclined to keep trying this buffet, but I’m gonna have to yelp a not so great write-up.

- Lance Paul


Dead Letters #1

(Christopher Sebela / Chris Visions / Ruth Redmond)

I didn’t think Boom! could outdo themselves again after the award winning HIT, but here comes yet another dreamy creator-controlled franchise. Christopher Sebela (Captain Marvel, Screamland) and Chris Visions (Devils on the Levee) are just the creators for the job. Dead Letters is just the kind of book you find by chance and lose your self in it. With the abilities of Jason Bourne, amnesiac Sam finds himself in an over-the-top toontastic take on a chase and gangster run. And through the artistic talents of Chris and the palette of Ruth Redmond (Revolutionary Road), their combined imagination make Letters simply another must Boom-Biddy-buy-buy.

- Lance Paul


All-New Ultmates #1

(Michel Fiffe (COPRA) / Amilcar Pinna; Marvel Comics)

4 stars

What an incredibly bizarre book this is. I'm going to be honest and say that I haven't read anything in the Ultimate Marvel Universe in a very, very long time. Peter Parker's death was the last thing I read, I think. Too many revamps, relaunches, and restarts to make me care one way or the other.

I've attempted to dip my toe back in, thinking I was good and ready to give a try to one of the comic universes I loved reading so much.. starting back in 2000 with Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men. Those comics were seriously my jam. But after the fifth reboot or relaunch of the universe, it just felt pointless. At this point, Ultimate Marvel has been around long enough that there should be an Ultimate Ultimate Marvel Universe.

But I digress. The book at hand, All-New Ultimates, earns its title. That's for damn sure. Michel Fiffe (COPRA) and Amilcar Pinna (Green Lantern: New Guardians) have reinvigorated this comic into something completely different from what's it ever been.

Friggin hipsters man.

Friggin hipsters man.

I mean, it's been an Avengers book the entire time it's existed. Now? It's a punk rock New Warriors, basically, mixed with high octane and overly weird manga styling. It's bizarre. It's refreshing. And it has Styx and frickin Stone in it from the old 90s-era Spidey comics. How cool is that? Oh and the Serpent Society (I think that's who it's going to end up being) are a part of this universe now.

See, this is what we're talking about. This is how you relaunch. Instead of just rearranging the deck, you shuffle it, get rid of the wasted ideas, and start anew. This is a new vibe on an old comic.

Do I like it? A whole lot. It takes a bit of getting used to at first, but Michel Fiffe gives each character a defined voice.

Do I love it? Not yet. It has some growing on me to do. I will say, once I figured out the premise and the plan and the idea that was being presented, I liked it a lot more than when I started reading and just didn't know what to expect.

One final word: Amilcar is like a mix of Igor Kordey and Steve McNiven. I'm not sure the art will be to everyone's liking, but I definitely enjoyed it. Again, a different vibe for the standard Ultimate Marvel Universe.

- CW Cooke


All-New Doop #1

(Peter Milligan / David LaFuente; Marvel Comics)

1 star

All-New Doop

Allow me to begin with this: I was forced to read Doop #1 by my pal Moody himself. And, wow. What a waste of 20-minutes it was! (It took you 20-minute to read this comic? – Moody) Doop is brought to you by Peter Milligan (X-Statix) and art by David LaFuente (New Mutants). Unfortunately, Marvel has green lit this project for more than just a mini series. Besides the fact this comic about a lesser known slimeball that deserves his own run about as much as Brood deserves a mini-series, Marvel saw fit to suck more cash out of those pesky Wolverine & X-Men fans. The pacing is slow and jumps around a ton and by the end you care very little that the one thing Doop had going for him had been replaced with an understandable language.

- Lance Paul

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