Singles Going Steady 4/22/2014: Sinestro and His UpgradesA comic review article by: Guy Copes III, Justin Giampaoli
Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin's weekly single issue review roundup.
(Cullen Bunn / Dale Eaglesham; DC Comics)
Cullen Bunn (Magneto, The Sixth Gun) writes, Dale Eaglesham (Justice Society of America) handles the art. Together they produce one of the best debut issues to come along in a long time. Sinestro has long been one of the preeminent villains in the DC Universe. Under Geoff Johns, his character grew to be more complex and his popularity continued to blossom right along with it. The ball is picked up here as Bunn continues to show his mastery when it comes to writing complex, not-so-heroic characters that the reader can not only care about, but root for. He delivers a story equal parts engrossing, reflective, revealing, and action-packed.
Bunn has a way of making even the most insane characters somewhat relatable. Lyssa returns to Sinestro’s side with some, uh, let’s just call them upgrades. She’s still a few cubes short of a full ice tray and her ability to push the right buttons hasn’t changed. Bunn uses her to reveal a very cool motivation for Sinestro that gets him to abandon his life of exile and pursue a new mission.
And what a way to charge your ring!
Love for his people aside, Sinestro can still be one cold motherfucker, but not even he is fully prepared for the reunion with the rest of the former Sinestro, now Arkillo Corps, which ends on a big (no spoilers), holy shit of a cliffhanger.
On the art front, flat out, Eaglesham is a superstar. His storytelling and panel layouts are dynamic. From the quiet scenes to full on fights his art is just about as A-game as it gets. In short, this is a first issue that hits it out of the park.
- Guy Copes III
(Antony Johnston / Christopher Mitten; Oni Press)
With only seven issues remaining, artist Christopher Mitten joins writer Antony Johnston to bring home the series he helped create.Yeah, it's the beginning of the end, so naturally we catch up with Abi and Michael (with Thomas now in tow) pretty much where we left them, as they venture to A-Ree-Yass-I.
Wasteland has always been a book that defies conventional expectations. There's a pretty fun example of that when the group encounters some Sand-Eaters. For so long, we've been conditioned to fear the Sandies. There's a great moment when Thomas suggests talking to them, and Michael and Abi exchange sideways glances at the mere suggestion of it. Not only do I love deciphering the Sandie-Speak, but this leads to a series of great visual reveals, capped off by the cliffhanger on the last page that suggests the gang may have finally arrived at a destination that houses some answers.
Most of the clues for what probably occurred to create The Big Wet have been laced into the story over the years, but I do get the sense that Johnston may be ready to offer a more prescriptive version now that we're nearing the end. There are clues to this approach in the text as well. One example is that previously in the run, he hasn't really bothered to “translate” the Sandie-Speak, he's just let the audience intuit the meaning by sounding out their prolonged vowels and hard consonants in context. In this issue, he (deliberately I'm suggesting) has Michael and Abi try to figure out what they're saying so that the audience can follow along and pick up the precise meaning.
The fact that I can even pick up on nuance like that is a testament to the fact that Wasteland is a carefully crafted book that rewards repeated reading. It's never been churned out like factory comics at those other companies, with interchangeable artists operating in house styles, or IP catalogue characters that endured whichever writer was at the helm. Creator-Owned Comics are hot right now, but it's almost as if Wasteland was doing it before this renaissance took off. They were doing it long before it became cool again. I mean, seriously, 60 issues of a quirky creator-owned book from Oni Press? Most Marvel and DC Comics can barely get into the 20's before they get rebooted and relaunched again with a new creative team.
There's something to be said for this level of passion and dedication. Wasteland is sadly a dying breed of the comic book species.
- Justin Giampaoli
(Mark Waid / Mark Bagley; Marvel Comics)
Mark Waid (Daredevil) and Mark Bagley (Cataclysm) chronicle the triumphant return of the Jade Giant from his long hiatus... of a month. He is sans the Indestructible title. It’s another All New Marvel Now #1! We get a bit of Hulk origin recap as remembered by the surgeon and onetime classmate of Banner. Surgeon you say? Yeah it seems ‘Ol Brucie got two caps put in his dome. Who is behind it is not entirely clear. We do learn who they aren’t and a bit as to why they had him shot. All told though, it is only a mildly interesting, bland, by-the-numbers mystery involving a conspiracy to control Bruce Banner’s transformations into the Hulk for their own purposes. Serviceable art by Bagley, solid storytelling technique as usual. The last page reveal does work in terms of being shocking and different. It is sure to piss people off. The connections between characters were telegraphed and fairly weak. For me, it wasn’t enough to elevate Hulk #1 above simply-average status. Call it: smashed.
- Guy Copes III
A Voice In The Dark #6
(Larime Taylor; Image/Top Cow)
Larime Taylor continues his series of collegiate psychological intrigue and tracks everyone's favorite coed serial killer, Zoey, as she stalks her intended prey.
The scope of her hunt expands due to a tastefully handled (as tasteful as you can depict something so awful) attempted rape scene that even comes with a Trigger Warning on the title page, a term which seems to have worked its way into the collective lexicon in the last couple of years.
There are a lot of things to like about this issue, in addition to Taylor's realistic depiction of women. #RealWomen is a hashtag that I wish would take off, highlighting instances of comic book characters and art which challenge our preconceived notions of conventional beauty and sexuality, in the spandex clad world of comics dominated by the old superhero genre. This is true especially in light of the incident that recently occurred with Janelle Asselin receiving threats of violence and rape for simply calling out just such an ill-conceived superhero cover for things like sexualizing a teen girl for having tits bigger than her head.
This issue flows extremely well, and I think it's because we stay on Zoey for the entire issue, tracking her movements as she stalks her targets, essentially hiding in plain sight, and attempting to fight her compulsion. As with real serial killers, she's hooked on the "high" of the kills, even though she may cognitively know it's wrong and deviates from socially accepted norms, but needs the kills to get bigger-more-better to get the same high. In the real world, this process of intensifying brinksmanship usually happens until you slip up and get caught. As with many real world serial killers, the kills might not be about the violence per se, or the rape (if there's a sexual component), but simply about power. Zoey is out of control, she's trying to navigate a chaotic world, and the kills are her own fractured psyche's way of making order of the chaos, albeit totally inappropriate.
My favorite part of the issue was Zoey's encounter with a mysterious benefactor (at least that's what we're sort of lead to believe), but the hockey mask isn't the only thing that should cause alarm klaxons to be going off in your head with the introduction of this person. Not only does this person have a literal mask, but Zoey's costume at the party is more of a figurative "mask" that demonstrates our psychological ability to not be ourselves and act differently when we're in the guise of someone else. We all have masks, the one we wear for the world to see, and then the darker more hidden side.
A Voice In The Dark is one of the surprise hits of the year, a truly hidden gem in the marketplace. I highly recommend it, and this could be the best issue of the series to date.
- Justin Giampaoli
Star Mage #1
(JC De La Torre / Ray Dillon; IDW)
Written by novelist JC De La Torre (Ancient Rising) and drawn by Ray Dillon (Servant of the Bones), this is a good book for all ages. It has the feel of cool '80s sci-fi. A bit of Rich Rider Nova mixed with The Last Starfighter, Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter. Some of the conflicts and setup we have seen many times before, albeit something special in this age of dark and brooding not-so-funny books. Also quite lighthearted, despite a bit of mysterious tragedy alluded to throughout the issue. Dillon has a nice, clean animation style which really makes his line work and colors shine. Good story, good start, and a fresh change of pace from what has become the norm. This is one to watch for both old and young geeks alike.
- Guy Copes III
(Brian Wood / Clay Mann / Seth Mann / Paul Mounts; Marvel Comics)
I really loved the opening scene, the way that this mysterious man is able to quickly perform a threat analysis and then use the information to decimate his opponents. It's a signal that family ties are going to come calling, which will impact Jubilee, Shogo, and the rest of the largely female X-Squad, which was thrown together in an impromptu fashion.
Brian Wood has taken some flak over that, basically since the start of the series. "Why isn't it called X-Women?" Umm, because that's a a stupid name and the name of their affiliation is X-Men? You don't see people whinging that Black Widow or The Wasp should be called Women Avengers. WomVengers? C'mon. He does attempt to address the concern in an organic way, via Storm's self-doubt about leadership. She has a great conversation/pep talk with Psylocke about their raison d'etre, indicating that they should have a formal mandate with "team" status, even within the parameters of the universe and the school.
Another difficulty, which I really want to lay at the feet of editorial and not Wood, has been the revolving door of artists the series has endured. He's honestly no Olivier Coipel or David Lopez, but Clay Mann has a style that works with these characters and I was happy to see him on art duty rather than some of the other artists who've worked on the book, and at this point, I'd be happy if he remained for the rest of Wood's run. His style has some nice hard angles with plenty of granular detail. I enjoy the way he draws Jubilee, Rachel, and especially Monet in this issue, who for a moment looked like one of Brian Wood's creations, Mara Prince.
Yet another obstacle (again, I'll blame Marvel Editorial) has been interruption of some of Wood's intended story throughlines by company crossover events. It feels now as if the title is getting back on track, sort of resetting Wood's original ideas while gearing up for another conflict, and in the process addressing things like Jubilee's vampirism, the true nature of Shogo, and John Sublime's relationship with Rachel and the rest of the team. I'm curious to see how these things resolve.
- Justin Giampaoli
(Nathan Edmondson/ Alison Sampson; Image Comics)
From the first book of The Padre: On the 8th day Nathan (Black Widow, Who Is Jake Ellis) Edmondson and Alison Sampson (In The Dark) created Genesis. Jason Wordie provided the fantastic colors, and it was good. Nay, it was better than good. A prestige format one-shot (think very mini-graphic novel) that delivers a modern fantasy adventure — tripping the mind fantastic. Alison’s artwork is dreamlike and surreal. There is a subtle elegance to her linework that compliments the deep, thoughtful, engaging script. Wordie’s soft palette of colors helps bring the images to life and serve as a great compliment to Sampson’s style.
The $6.99 you spend on this book will probably be one of the most rewarding reading experiences you can have this comic book week, especially with the cool extras in the back (a pinup gallery, as well as a few process pages detailing script, color, pencil, and inking progression). This is the type of book you hold up proudly when people ask you why you still buy physical literature, or “what’s so hot about Indie comics anyway?” Right here. This. I won’t spoil the details of the tale. But suffice it to say, Genesis redefines what life after death can mean. Imagine if one simple act of weakness could open a door allowing you to make all your hopes and dreams real. It is magical, spiritual, filled with wonder and tragic consequences, and the dangers of imagination left unchecked. I am going in for my second re-read and you need to pick this book up and get lost in the wonderful fairy tale nature it exudes.
- Guy Copes III