Weekly Comic 100s: Power Rangers Double Feature, Spider-Woman #1, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

No comic shop for me this week. These were strictly digital purchases. Thank God for Comixology.The irony in all of this is that it feels like the prologue for a story you’d read in a comic book…

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 (of 5)
AUTHOR:
Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS:
Simone di Meo, Alessio Zonno, Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Igor Monti (Color Assistant), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Dan Mora.
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

You knew it was inevitable. You can’t have this story without somehow getting the Turtles into Ranger costumes. That being said those outfits are pretty goofy. Granted, the premise itself is goofy. And they look about as good as they were ever going to. But even by Power Ranger/Ninja Turtle standards…goofy as hell.

As I’ve said previously, pretty paint-by-numbers team-up stuff here. The TMNT characters do Power Rangers stuff, and vice versa. Shredder and Rita are still the best part. I’m guessing they’re already planning on a sequel, as we get a pretty obvious hint.

TITLE: Go Go Power Rangers #30
AUTHOR:
Ryan Parrott, Sina Grace
ARTISTS:
Francesco Mortarino, Raul Angulo (Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Eleonora Carlini.
RELEASED:
March 11, 2020

A solid issue. But why is Finster creating monsters for Zedd? On the show he was pretty much on the shelf until Rita came back. Why isn’t Zedd just doing it himself?

I’m liking these Goldar, Squatt, and Baboo scenes we’ve been getting in both the main book and in Go Go. It brings back fond memories from season one.

As we move closer to the end (*sniff*), I can only assume Rocky, Adam, and Aisha will pop up soon. If for nothing else than a cameo in the final issue.

TITLE: Spider-Woman #1
AUTHOR:
Karla Pacheco
ARTISTS:
Pere Perez, Paulo Siqueira, Oren Junior (Inker), Frank D’Armata (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Junggeun Yoon.
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

I’ve never read Karla Pacheco before. But in this book I’m getting a Bendis type vibe from her. That’s not a bad thing. As I recall, Bendis did alright in the Spider-Verse…

Our main story is about Jessica fighting a mysterious illness as she’s trying to protect a rich socialite from being kidnapped. It’s a lot of fun, though I’m partial to the back-up, which goes into how she got the job, and why she’s wearing a different costume for it. Why? Because she goes to a store called “Big Ronnie’s Custom Battle Spandex.”

That. Is. Brilliant.

TITLE: BANG! #2
AUTHOR:
Matt Kindt
ARTISTS:
Wilfredo Torres, Nayoung Kim (Colorist), Nate Piekos (Letterer)
RELEASED: March 18, 2020

BANG! was definitely the most fun book in my stack this week. What we have here is a series that isn’t afraid to revel in action movie tropes and cliches. But beneath the surface there’s something more serious with a lot of intrigue. I’ve officially got high hopes.

This month we meet a new hero, John Shaw, who’s looks like he’s based off John McClane. He gets in the middle of a massacre on a speeding train masterminded by a would-be Bond villain with a disfigured face and a speech impediment shamelessly played for laughs. Yup. I’m all in.

TITLE: Batman #91
AUTHOR:
James Tynion IV
ARTISTS:
Rafael Albuquerque, Jorge Jimenez, Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

Amidst all the chaos in this issue, the most interesting exchange is between Batman and Deathstroke. Our hero talks about the stakes in his war on crime constantly being raised. He’s almost pleading with Slade, saying that “you people,” i.e. supervillains, need to step aside so he can save Gotham.

Deathstroke gives the correct response, which is ,”You escalated first.”

This is an interesting scene to juxtapose with everything happening with the Designer, the Joker, Catwoman, etc.

We’re six issues into Tynion’s run, and Batman is still firing on all cylinders. Lord knows, I’m still along for the ride…

TITLE: Something is Killing the Children #6
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Werther Dell’Edera, Miquel Muerto (Colorist), Andworld Design (Letters)
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

As we close this issue we get another glimpse of “the Order,” a bunch of folks in suits who all wear bandanas like Erica. I nice, cryptic little scene with a little glimpse into Erica’s past.

They did a nice job of spreading the layouts over two pages this month. The panels go left to right, then down, then left and right, almost like words in a paragraph. It’s not necessarily a rare thing. But I really dug the execution here.

TITLE: Marvels X #3
AUTHORS: Alex Ross, Jim Krueger
ARTISTS: Well-Bee, Cory Petit (Letterer). Cover by Ross.
RELEASED: March 18, 2020

There’s a line in here about Reed Richards being blamed for a global pandemic. That one hits home right about now…

They apparently felt the need to re-emphasize David’s importance. They hammer the whole “He could save us all!” thing home so much in this issue it becomes grating. I would also argue David’s plucky fanboy shtick is getting old.

Still, a fairly enjoyable outing. Well-Bee draws a hell of a Spider-Man. I also noticed the touch of gray he added to Peter Parker’s hair. Ironically, it makes him look like Reed Richards.

TITLE: Hotell #1 (of 4)
AUTHOR:
John Lees
ARTISTS:
Dalibor Talajic, Lee Loughridge (Colorist), Sal Cipriano (Letterer). Cover by Kaare Andrews
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

Hotell feels like a horror book with self-contained stories, a la Tales From the Crypt or The Twilight Zone. I’m not quite sure if that’s what it’ll end up being, especially with only four issues. But that’s what it feels like.

While it tends to suffer from the kind of awkward dialogue you often get in newer indie comics, Hotell surprised me with its ability to create a genuine sense of fear and dread that few comics do. If this is your cup of tea, I highly recommend it.

But be warned. It earns its Mature rating in spades.

TITLE: Star Wars #4
AUTHOR:
Charles Soule
ARTISTS:
Jesus Saiz, Arif Prianto & Rachelle Rosenburg (Colorists), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by R.B. Silva and Guru-eFX.
RELEASED:
March 18, 2020

In regard to Luke, Leia, and Lando returning to Bespin, the solicitation for this issue tells us, “Things did not go well for the trio the last time they visited this place.”

You mean a few days ago? Hell, Luke is basically wearing the same clothes. Because for some reason the heroes in this book are complete idiots.

Luke digs through mountains of garbage to find his lightsaber. Leia has gotten herself frozen. But don’t worry! If you’ve only been frozen for a little while, you can be thawed out and be completely alert with no side effects!

Friggin’ stupid.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Weekly Comic 100s: Wolverine #1 is EIGHT DOLLARS, and Also Reviews…

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Eight dollars for Wolverine #1.

EIGHT. DOLLARS.

This is the latest volume, mind you. We’re not talking about something historic or particularly significant. This is simply the latest adventure of everybody’s favorite clawed Canadian.

Why eight dollars? Because it’s just a thing Marvel does with a good percentage of its #1 issues. And readers are, for reasons I will never comprehend, willing to fork that money down.

Well, not ALL of them. I was happy to leave that one on the shelf, bub. If Marvel is going to give me the finger, I’m willing to give it right back to them. I just wish others were willing to say no.

If I’m going to put down eight bucks for a Wolverine comic Hugh Jackman better be leaping off the damn page singing Greatest Showman songs as he’s taking out my garbage.

TITLE: Batman #89
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Guillem March, Danny Miki, Carlo Pagulayan, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Variant cover by Francesco Mattina.
RELEASED: February 19, 2020

In essence what we’re getting here is a follow-up to Death of the Family. Definitely a hell of a way to start Tynion’s run. But Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and that whole crew did a masterful job of putting that genie back in the bottle. How do you do that again? Or do you?

There’s a panel in this issue where Lucius Fox refers to the Joker, the Riddler, and the Penguin as members of Batman’s “Classic Rogues Gallery.” *thud* Yeesh. Did somebody from marketing slip that in?

Loving the perspective on this variant cover.

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #103
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman (Consultant), Tom Waltz (Consultant), Sophie Campbell (Script)
ARTISTS:
Campbell. Ronda Pattison (Colorist). Shawn Lee (Letterer). Variant cover by Eastman.
RELEASED: February 19, 2020

Quite the emotional issue this month. They really try to yank at our heartstrings.

I came away from this issue thinking about Sophie Campbell. She turned in a highly impactful script, and her drawing the issue obviously allows her to accentuate and emphasize certain things.

Campbell also does a tremendous job getting the Turtles to emote, sometimes without any dialogue to support her art. Case in point: The Raphael/Jennika argument. Look at the anger in Raph’s bulging eyes and clenched teeth, or the quiet defiance from Jennika.

Um, are they giving Michelangelo depression? If so, that’s…really cool, actually.

TITLE: The Low Low Woods #3
AUTHOR: Carmen Maria Machado
ARTISTS: Dani, Tamra Bonvillain (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer). Cover by Sam Wolfe Connelly.
RELEASED:
February 19, 2020

I’m not in love with this book. The texture of the art is “sketchier” than I tend to like. But the haunted small-town setting keeps me coming back. I’m finding myself wanting to meet more people from the aptly yet ridiculously named Shudder-to-Think, Pennsylvania.

For instance, we meet a thousand-year-old witch in this issue. But she has the body of a young girl. Then we unpack the revelation from issue #1, and things get really weird.

In this case, weird is good.

TITLE: BANG! #1
AUTHOR: Matt Kindt
ARTISTS: Wilfredo Torres, Nayoung Kim (Colorist), Nate Piekos (Letterer)
RELEASED:
February 19, 2020

It’s James Bond meets Doctor Who. I can’t tell you how without spoiling the issue. But you’ll get it.

BANG! is apparently connected to one of Matt Kindt’s previous works, Revolver. I’ve heard of it, but never read it. How it’s connected to BANG! isn’t immediately apparent. But it’s perfectly accessible on its own.

Like The Low Low Woods, I didn’t expect this story to hook me the way it has. As is often the case, issue #2 will be the clincher.

TITLE: Go Go Power Rangers #29
AUTHORS: Ryan Parrott, Sina Grace
ARTISTS: Francesco Mortarino, Raul Angulo (Co-Colorist), Eleonora Bruni (Co-Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Eleonora Carlini.
RELEASED: February 12, 2020

There’s an opening battle sequence in this issue where Tommy, who is now the team leader, freezes up. Jason, the former leader, quickly yet briefly steps back into his old role. I like that. By this point, Tommy had been in positions to lead. But he’d never been the leader. There should be some growing pains there.

Jason also has a conversation with Zordon that I’ve wanted to see for over two damn decades. They talk about why Jason was replaced as leader, and whether or not he wants the job back. Some great character work in this one.

TITLE: Ghostbusters: Year One #1
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
ARTISTS: Dan Schoening, Luis Delgado (Colorist), Neil Uyetake (Letterer)
RELEASED: January 22, 2020

You’ll never hear me complain about Burnham and Shoening doing more Ghostbusters comics. Ever.

While I wouldn’t count this issue among their best work, there is one bit that I love. We’re looking at Winston’s first year on the job, and he only gets a few minutes of training, shooting a single proton stream before he’s shoved on to a job. That’s perfect. Despite the Ghostbusters being established and experienced, Winston still gets the same seat-of-his-pants training they did. It obviously lends itself to this being a comedy at heart.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars, Frankenstein, Action Comics, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I was recently crushed to hear Go Go Power Rangers is ending in April. As I’ve said before, there’ve been plenty of months that book has outperformed the regular Mighty Morphin Power Rangers title. For awhile there, we were talking months at a time…

Thankfully, Ryan Parrott is staying with the Rangers for the foreseeable future. He’s been churning out amazing work since Go Go began, and he’s become BOOM’s go-to guy for Power Rangers content. Not only has he got the main book, but he’s writing the team up with the Ninja Turtles as well.

We’ll tip our hat to Go Go Power Rangers by leading off with it this week.

TITLE: Go Go Power Rangers #28
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Eduardo Francisco, Raul Angulo (Colors), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Eleonora Carlini.
RELEASED: January 29, 2020

Here we have a spotlight issue for Rita, where we see what was happening to her while she was imprisoned in that “space dumpster” for 10,000 years. Hint: If you’re an avid comic book fan, and the term “Black Mercy” means anything to you…

What I don’t like about this issue is how it portrays the inside of this prison. In theory it’s a dumpster, a place you put garbage. But inside it’s fairly high tech, with an A.I. overseeing everything. I always pictured the innards to be very dark and cave-like. Maybe that’s just me.

TITLE: Star Wars #2
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS:
Jesus Saiz, Arif Prianto (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by R.B. Silva.
RELEASED:
January 29, 2020

Just when I get excited about getting to see Luke do things without a lightsaber, the damn thing becomes a mcguffin in “The Destiny Path.”

God damn it.

On the plus side, they’ve put a nice focus on Lando thus far. It’s seemingly always been assumed that he instantly became a full-time good guy after seeing what happened to Han in Empire. But leopards rarely change their spots so quickly. And of course, Leia and the others would be rightfully wary of him afterward. For now, I’m willing to take the good with the bad on this book.

TITLE: Frankenstein Undone #1 (of 5)
AUTHORS: Mike Mignola, Scott Allie
ARTISTS: Ben Stenbeck, Brennan Wagner (Colorist), Clem Robins (Letterer)
RELEASED: January 29, 2020

I’m not nearly as versed in “the world of Hellboy” as I want to be. But apparently Frankenstein is part of that world. Having just read the book for the first time, this caught my interest.

The monster we meet is despondent over his actions during the events of the book. He opts to seclude himself in the far north. But solitude is not what he’ll find among the snow.

While we get some intriguing and well written pathos from our titular monster, I’m inclined to catch up with Mignola’s earlier works before diving back into this one.

TITLE: Action Comics #1019
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Variant cover by Gabrielle Dell’otto.
RELEASED: January 29, 2020

I don’t get it. Generally speaking, I’m a John Romita Jr. fan. I’ve enjoyed his work on Kick-Ass, and his stuff at Marvel with Spider-Man, the Avengers, Hulk, etc. But for some reason, Romita and Superman mix like oil and water.

I truly hate to say this, but his art absolutely ruins this issue. What’s supposed to be this epic fight between the Justice League and the Legion of Doom looks downright sloppy. Brad Anderson’s work is especially wasted on this mess. It’s officially time to invoke a restraining order between Romita and the Man of Steel.

TITLE: Suicide Squad #2
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
ARTISTS: Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer)
RELEASED:
January 29, 2020

I’ll give this book credit: I’m not hatin’ these new characters. This issue has an interaction between the Fin and the Shark that I really enjoyed.

I’m sure there are several Squad stories in existence where our anti-heroes want to kill one another, yet have to proceed with a mission. But this is the first one I can remember where the rivalries between the various members are so intensely personal. Combine that with Tom Taylor’s evident flair for black ops stories, along with some pretty awesome art, and we’ve got an exciting book on our hands.

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #102
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman (Consultant), Tom Waltz (Consultant), Sophie Campbell (Script)
ARTISTS: Campbell, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer).
RELEASED: January 29, 2020

Even with everything going on with Raph and Jennika in New York, I came away from this issue thinking about the other three Turtles. Once again, they’re secluded up at in Northampton.

I’m not sure we’ve ever seen the Ninja Turtles more collectively grief-stricken, and as such depressed. Most notably Michelangelo. The faces Sophie Campbell draws for him are almost devoid of life. Rarely has such amazing penciling prompted such a sad response.

But given what’s happened, it makes sense. It’s so relatable, it’s heart-breaking. Not bad for a book about mutant turtles…

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

A Star Wars #1 Review – A Bittersweet Beginning

Star Wars #1 (January 2015)TITLE: Star Wars #1
AUTHOR: Jason Aaron
PENCILLER: John Cassaday
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: January 14, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Seeing the Star Wars comic book license go back to Marvel was extremely bittersweet for yours truly. Dark Horse had more than done right by everybody’s favorite galaxy far, far away. Particularly in the last year and a half or so, when Brian Wood was penning a title simply called Star Wars, something of a throwback series featuring the classic characters we all know and love. It was the same thing, in essence, that this book is doing.

But while Marvel has no shortage of A-list creators at its disposal, and is undoubtedly capable of providing us quality books, the company’s first crack at Star Wars in the 21st century leaves something to be desired in the realm of depth and logic.

Star Wars #1 brings Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 to the Empire’s largest weapons factory, with the intent to infiltrate and destroy. But little to they know that Darth Vader himself is very near, and he’ll soon come face-to-face with the young rebel who destroyed the Death Star….

Star Wars #1, John CassadayOn paper, it’s a simple but effective way to kick off a Star Wars series. Stick all your main characters in the middle of an Imperial hotspot, and have them fight their way out. Just like they did on the Death Star, just like the did at Cloud City, just like they did on Endor, etc. Using this formula definitely helps capture the classic Star Wars feel they’re looking for.

Another crucial element in this respect is the issue’s four-page replication of the Star Wars opening title crawl. We’ve got a page dedicated entirely to “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” a two-page spread of the big Star Wars flash, and on the fourth page the issue gets its own title crawl. Then, in typical Star Wars movie fashion, we go to empty space, and a ship flies into frame. If you’re a Star Wars geek, they’ve easily got you at this point. And low and behold the first hero we see is Han Solo, doing his witty Han Solo stuff!

Star Wars #1, John Cassaday, Han SoloBut the biggest selling point of this issue by far is seeing John Cassaday draw Star Wars stuff. I once read his artistic style described as “instantly iconic,” and that’s certainly the case here. He’s got a great handle on the likenesses of ‘70s Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. His Mark Hamill isn’t perfect, but that’s forgivable. Hell, the man’s face literally changed between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. And unlike other artists who’ve done these characters, Cassaday’s take on the Darth Vader death mask and C-3PO’s ever-distinguishable headcover remain frozen and consistent throughout the issue. Elements from all three classic films are incorporated into this issue, and if I were a betting man, I’d say Cassaday had fun with this one.

All this said, this issue lacks a lot of the depth and heart that made Brian Wood’s stuff so good. It relies on spectacle over substance. Case in point, Luke’s use of the lightsaber. Yes, we all love lightsabers, but I’m a firm subscriber to the Harry S. Plinkett philosophy on their overuse, and how they can sometimes be a sign of lazy or bad writing.

In Star Wars #1 we see Luke use the lightsaber to fight off a guy with a laser-whip weapon. Shortly after cheaply paraphrasing a line from A New Hope, an off-panel fight ensues, during which all we see is the lightsaber swinging for two panels. A splash page of Luke soon follows, the ignited weapon in his hand. We also see Vader use his lightsaber later, though only for an instant.

Star Wars #1, 2015, Luke SkywalkerThis is where I get a bit nitpicky: How proficient was Luke with the lightsaber at this point? It’s heavily implied that this issue takes place shortly after the Death Star was destroyed. So Luke’s knowledge about his heritage and the Jedi ways, much less this new weapon (which he didn’t even use in A New Hope) are still rather limited. And yet he’s able to dispose of this guard pretty quickly.

My proposed solution? Give us a little more action by extending this scene a page. Have this guard with the whip get the better of Luke at first. But in the end, he perseveres and wins. This gives our young hero a small victory, and we also get a sense that he’s grown a bit in experience, but is still nowhere near where he wants to be.

An extra page for the scene with Luke might have eliminated the completely contrived and ridiculous one in which we see Leia question Han’s motivation for helping the rebels. In the middle of the Empire’s largest weapons factory, on a mission that’s rather time-sensitive, Leia stops to thank Han for his contribution, and ask him why he’d publicly associate himself with the Rebel Alliance. She literally asks: “What is it you really want, Han Solo?” At this point, even Han himself says: “Maybe now’s not really the best time…”

Star Wars, John Cassaday, Falcon, C-3POAlso, why is Leia even on this mission? Why is one of the Rebellions’ top leaders being sent into the middle of enemy territory? Hell, they don’t even keep her in the Millennium Falcon with Threepio. She’s directly in the line of fire. From a creative standpoint, it’s obviously so we can have our three main heroes together. But logistically, it makes no sense.

At the very least, Star Wars #1 is pretty. But it’s also frustrating. Look, we all love that classic Star Wars stuff. Darth Vader, lightsabers, the big title crawl, etc. But imagery from the classic trilogy can’t be the only thing your issue has going for it, or it’ll fall flat. Especially considering this is the first Star Wars issue Marvel has published in decades!

C’mon, guys. You can do better than this.

Image 1 from popmatters.com. Image 2 from littlestuffedbull.com. Image 3 from blacknerdproblems.com. Image 4 from starwars.com.

A Star Wars: In the Shadow of Yavin Review – Galactic Throwback

Star Wars, Vol. 1: In the Shadow of YavinTITLE: Star Wars, Vol. 1: In the Shadow of Yavin


AUTHOR: Brian Wood
PENCILLER: Carlos D’Anda. Cover by Alex Ross.
COLLECTS: Star Wars #1-6
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $19.99
RELEASED: September 17, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

With this new Star Wars series, Brian Wood was going for a throwback to the “classic” Star Wars era. Before The Clone Wars, before the prequels, before all the video games. Wood was going for the Star Wars of the late ’70s and early ’80s, and the universe he fell in love with as a child. That’s a very relatable sentiment for those of us who fell in love with the series before the prequels came out. What Wood and Carlos D’Anda give us in this first volume isn’t perfect. But it is special, in that it offers something very nice for an older generation of fans, without alienating kids in the audience.

One of the ways In the Shadow of Yavin accomplishes this is by keeping the story simple and accessible. Arguably, the only required viewing you need to understand what’s happening here is the original Star Wars film. The book is set a few weeks after the destruction of the first Death Star. While the Rebels have scored a major win over the Empire, they are now on the run after the discovery of their base on Yavin 4. What’s more, there is a spy in their midst, feeding valuable information to the Imperials. Princess Leia promptly pulls together a team of pilots, among them Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles, to help expose the spy and find a new base for the Rebellion. Meanwhile, Darth Vader is under immense pressure from the Emperor to redeem himself after the loss of the Death Star. All the while, the name of the Rebel responsible for it’s destruction, Skywalker, weighs heavily on his mind.

Star Wars #4, Alex RossAs if a Brian Wood-authored throwback wasn’t enough to hook fans, Dark Horse gave fans buying the monthly books a heck of an added incentive with four months of Alex Ross covers. As anyone who’s seen his work knows, Ross is truly in a class by himself. So to see his take on the Star Wars is, to say the least, a treat. We’d seen him do some Star Wars art before. But these covers take the cake, particularly the first one (shown above). The image of Darth Vader with his lightsaber raised above his head is a nice nod to one of the original North American movie poster by Tom Jung, where Luke is in a similar pose. His characters are drawn with unparalleled photo-realism, and the colors are gorgeous. There’s just nobody like Ross. Period.

If you’ve read some of my prior reviews of this series, you know I’m a little more critical of Carlos D’Anda’s work. (Though in all fairness, anyone who has to follow Ross is in a difficult position.) His art certainly fits with the overall tone of the series, and perhaps of Star Wars itself for that matter. His shots of Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, particularly on the first three pages when they’re in the X-Wing cockpits, are beautiful. As we see later in the book, he also draws a mean Boba Fett. And when he’s tasked with drawing all the trademark Star Wars hardware, he does a beautiful job. In issue #3 he’s tasked with drawing a two-page spread of the under-construction Death Star II, as it’s being guarded by four Star Destroyers (including Darth Vader’s Super Star Destroyer). The result is beautiful, and so detail-rich one can only imagine the hours of labor that went into it. So I’m by no means saying D’Anda does a bad job. The majority of his work here is awesome.

Star Wars #1, Darth Vader, Carlos D'AndaHowever, I’ve never been able to enjoy the way D’Anda draws Darth Vader. Some of this may be subjective, but I think D’Anda’s Vader channels a bit too much of the David Prowse bodybuilder vibe. This is especially apparent in issue #1, when we see Vader walking toward an Imperial officer (shown below). What is that pose, exactly? He looks like he’s stomping down an evil runway. I’m also not a fan of the way D’Anda draws the classic Darth Vader death mask. He seems to distort it to make it look angrier. But for yours truly, that mask is so distinctly ingrained in my memory, that any kind of stylized take on it just seems categorically wrong.

D’Anda has a similar problem with C-3PO. He has trouble nailing down the robot’s face, and in his first few appearances his positioning and posture seem a bit off. Thankfully, this issue corrects itself a bit as the issues go on. In any event, Threepio’s appearance doesn’t effect the book nearly as much as Vader’s, as the latter gets much more page time.

I give Brian Wood a lot of credit for making Luke a teenager in this story. It’s much more in line with the character we saw in A New Hope, and makes sense for the story being told here. One of the very first ideas Wood explores is Luke’s uncertainty about his feelings, his future, and what the next step is. Twice in the first issue alone, we see Luke’s father’s lightsaber used as a symbol of his uncertainty, and his unavoidable destiny. And yet, we also get to see him have a little bit of fun. He has an off-panel hookup with one of his fellow pilots, to Leia’s apparent dismay. This of course, raises various unspoken questions about Luke and Leia’s feelings for one another, which of course, most Star Wars fans know the truth about anyway. But it’s still interesting to see the characters try and figure out.

Darth Vader, lightsaber kill, Carlos D'AndaI also credit Wood for not making use of the easiest Star Wars parlor trick in the book. It’s something I’ll call FLA: Frequent Lightsaber Activation. The prequels, of course, were big on FLA. The trouble is, FLA ruins the novelty of the lightsaber, and waters down the coolest weapon in all of science fiction and fantasy. While we do see the weapon referenced in scenes with Luke, we only see a lightsaber actually used once, very briefly, in a scene where Darth Vader kills an Imperial officer. Seeing the weapon used so sparingly is reminiscent of the classic trilogy, A New Hope in particular. It also speaks to Wood’s talent as a writer.

For yours truly, this Star Wars series represents a return to, dare I say, a more innocent time in the franchise’s history. A time before fans debated about whether Han shot first, environments created entirely via CGI, or Hayden Christensen’s acting skills. It’s a return to the Star Wars that I, and countless other fans fell in love with. In that sense, for some of us it’s not only a trip back to a more innocent time in the franchise, but a more innocent time in our lives.

RATING: 8/10

Image 2 from comicsalliance.com. Image 3 from terrazero.com.

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A Review of Star Wars: Blood Ties – Jango and Boba Fett – Father and Clone

Star Wars: Blood Ties - Jango and Boba FettTITLE: Star Wars: Blood Ties – A Tale of Jango and Boba Fett
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
PENCILLER: Chris Scalf
COLLECTS: Star Wars: Blood Ties #1-4
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $14.99
RELEASED: April 27, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Does EVERYONE in Star Wars have daddy issues? Luke’s got them, Boba Fett’s got them…

Blood Ties dives into some of the unseen backstory between Boba Fett and his clone/father Jango. Evidently Jango was into tough love. In this issue, he sends a massive beast after his son, telling him: “Bring back a tooth.” But things get more complicated when Jango’s next bounty turns out to be one of the clones that were created using his DNA (see Attack of the Clones). The results of this confrontation will effect Boba years later when he meets this clone’s son, whose name is Connor Freeman (Get it? Free man?).

Star Wars: Blood Ties #1, Chris ScalfFirst and foremost, I LOVE the art in this story. Chris Scalf captures the faces of Jango and Boba Fett almost perfectly, and he’s great at drawing all the weird aliens, creatures and locations in the Star Wars universe. The colors are perfect too. The art makes it seem like you’re watching supplemental material from one of the films. As far as I’m concerned, the more I see of him down the line, the better.

Blood Ties is pretty much what you’d expect, with a few nice twists. There’s a pretty nice moment where Jango Fett pulls a blaster on his prey, and sees he’s been hunting a man who looks exactly like him. There’s something you don’t see every day. The way he ends that confrontation might surprise some.

Whether a reader will like Blood Ties likely depends on whether they like their Boba Fett pre or post Attack of the Clones. George Lucas himself once said that Boba Fett is popular because he’s mysterious in that old western, man-with-no-name kind of way. That element of the character is still there, but Fett isn’t as mysterious as he used to be. We know one of his weak spots, and he’s been humanized a bit. Personally, I think this weakens the book’s ending by making Fett seem like a bit of a softy at heart. You can call Boba Fett a lot of things, but soft-hearted isn’t one of them. Though I suppose one can argue that nobody’s a hard ass ALL the time…

Star Wars: Blood Ties, A tale of Jango and Boba Fett, image 2The ending left me unsatisfied. This is one of those stories that ends simply because the action stops. I’d like to think this isn’t entirely Taylor’s fault. Creators only have a certain number of pages to work with, and it seems like they simply came up a little short. I figure two more pages would have done the trick.

The book also pulls a bit of a fast one on you by making you think Boba Fett is the narrator. When we find out he’s not, it’s something of an eye-roller. At least in my case. When you think your narrator is a bad ass bounty hunter, almost anyone else is a letdown by comparison.

For what it is, this book is okay. Just okay, though. It started out pretty hot, but cooled significantly after the second issue. You can’t deny the art is fantastic. But the story left me wanting more, and not in the “can’t wait for the sequel” kind of way.

RATING: 5.5/10

Image 1 from tomtaylormade.com. Image 2 from starwars.wikia.com.

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