Tag Archives: single issue reviews

Panels of Awesomeness: Crowded #1

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Christopher Sebela (Author, Design), Ro Stein (Pencils), Ted Brandt (Inks), Triona Farrell (Colors), Cardinal Rae (Letters)

THE SCENE: Charlie Ellison has a hit out on her via the murderous crowdfunding app “Reapr.” Not sure why so many would want her dead, she enlists the bodyguard services of Vita Slatter. Vita brings Charlie to her home for safekeeping.

WHY IT’S AWESOME: I mean, do I even need to say it?

As a writer myself, I tend to struggle with settings. How descriptive should they be, how best to weave in those descriptions, etc. Granted, I’m a prose writer. Comics are an entirely different animal, of course.

In any event, I saw this page and my jaw hit the floor. Ro Stein and the Crowded team essentially designed a friggin’ house for their book. I only wish my brain was this visual in nature. It’s absolutely astounding. What’s more I love the simply way it’s displayed. They just took a wall off and let us peer inside.

What’s more, Charlie and Vita are a fun duo. Crowded #1 is worth a look, at the very least. But if you plan on sticking around for awhile, as I do, strap in. This looks like a hell of a ride!

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

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Panels of Awesomeness: Spider-Man Annual #1

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Bryan Edward Hill (Author), Nelson Blake II (Artist), Alitha E. Martinez (Artist), Carlos Lopez (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer)

THE SCENE: In his early days as a hero, Miles Morales takes on a Skrull who is impersonating Spider-Man!

WHY IT’S AWESOME: Spider-Man Annual #1 was a welcome read this week, as last month Brian Michael Bendis officially put a bow on the ongoing adventures of Miles Morales. At least for now. My understanding is that a new series is in the works. You’d think there’d have to be, what with the Miles-centered Into the Spider-Verse hitting theaters in December.

In the meantime, most of this annual takes place “years ago,” just as Miles is becoming a hero. The book does a little retcon work here, trying to figure out where our hero was in the main Marvel Universe (as opposed to the Ultimate one, where he debuted) around the time of Secret Invasion. When Miles, Ganke, and their friends are attacked by Skrulls at a party in Soho, Miles is forced to take action. As awful icing on the cake, one of them is impersonating Spider-Man!

The ensuing battle gives us this page…

A bit cliched? Maybe. But when it’s done right, I’m a sucker for stuff like this. It’s important to remember how young Miles is at this point. When we first met him, he was only about 13 or 14. And yet, now he’s facing life or death against a monster. Literally, a monster. So to see him calm himself down, and almost rationalize the situation, is really cool. I love the line, “I can’t do this. But Spider-Man could.”

Then, to top it all off, he delivers a Spidey quip. Not a great one, mind you. But good, considering he’s a terrified teenager in a makeshift Spider-Man costume.

That’s another item to note: Nelson Blake II designed Miles’ makeshift Spidey suit for this outing. I dig it. The shirt is a little on-the-nose for what’s supposed to be a spontaneous costume. But it’s still fun. The goggles even give it a little bit of a Spider-Man Noir vibe.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Panels of Awesomeness: Catwoman #1

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Joelle Jones (Pencils, Inks), Laura Allred (Colors). Josh Reed (Letters)

THE SCENE: In Villa Hermosa, Mexico, Raina Creel, the governor’s wife, removes her gorgeous facade to reveal her true self. Presumably the brains of the outfit, she uses her resources to target Catwoman.

WHY IT’S AWESOME: Last week, the “DC Nation” portion of all the new issues was dedicated to this page, and Joelle Jones’ creative process. One of the things she said was: “Most of the female villains at DC are really sexy, so I wanted my bad guy to be someone who was really grotesque, who had ruined herself with surgery and drugs.”

Mission accomplished.

I’m not sure how much Jones intended to use Raina as a good ol’ fashioned commentary device for our brutally superficial culture. But this page alone speaks volumes in that respect. Grotesque is indeed the word. Not just because of what she’s doing, but the specific snapshots Jones uses. The fake eyelashes pulling at the skin. The saliva dragging from her false teeth. The pinching of the contact lens. And that damn nose. As far as introductions to a new villain are concerned, this is the best I’ve seen in years.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Panels of Awesomeness: Justice League: No Justice #1

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Scott Snyder (Author), Joshua Williamson (Author), James Tynion IV (Author), Francis Manapil (Artist), Hi-Fi (Colors)

THE SCENE: In a battle between Brainiac and the Justice League, Superman lands a high-impact blow. But Brainiac’s motivations aren’t what the Man of Steel thinks they are.

WHY THEY’RE AWESOME: One thing I’ve always remembered about Superman Returns is the critique about its action sequences. Specifically, the notion that we needed to see Superman punch somebody. I don’t necessarily agree with that. However,  it is always satisfying when Big Blue hits a big blow on a big bad. Case in point, this moment with Brainiac.

What makes these two pages truly awesome the layout. Francis Manapul makes the punch as giant and epic as it deserves to be, complete with a heroic one-liner and Superman’s fist coming straight up at us. But then you’ve got the figures overlapping just a bit with the panels on the opposite page. More often than not, that trick makes for a really fun visual.

I also really like the sequential storytelling here. On the previous page we see Brainiac on top of his ship, with the rest of the League wrapped up in those tentacles. Then we get the punch, and in the next two panels we follow them off the ship and through that building. And based on how that lower middle panel is framed, we can see what kind of distance they’ve covered in relation to the ship.

Finally, that lower right panel gives us a really nice pull into the next page. Not only do you have that defiant line from Brainiac, but he’s blocking another punch. Thus indicating the momentum is about to shift.

Justice League: No Justice wraps up today with issue #4. As I’ve said previously, this is the first Justice League story I’ve picked up in a couple of years. Very curious to see where this goes.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Panels of Awesomeness: Her Infernal Descent #1

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson (Authors), Kyle Charles (Artist), Dee Cunniffe (Colorist), Ryan Ferrier (Letterer)

THE SCENE: A middle-aged woman continues to mourn the loss of her family before quite literally taking a journey into hell.

WHY THEY’RE AWESOME: In storytelling of any nature, much is made of the narrative “hook,” i.e. what the author uses in the opening moments of the story to draw their audience into the story.

Her Infernal Descent is a modern re-telling of Dante’s Inferno. Desperately longing to see her dead family again, our main character Lynn is approached by the spirit of William Blake. Despite the risk, she descends into hell with him and begins her journey through its nine circles.

But before any of that happens, we spend a handful of pages with Lynn at home (shown at right). They’re absolutely heartbreaking. It’s all so excruciatingly realistic. Look at some of the backgrounds. The kitchen is an absolute wreck. There are dirty dishes in the sink as she eats a casserole out of the dish. All the boxes from packing up. The cluttered on the floor. The empty wine glasses. Dee Cunniffe’s colors are so beautifully muted. Even when Lynn sees the sun, there’s a bleakness to it. Note the details Kyle Charles gives us with her body language. Look at Lynn’s face. Look at her posture. The unkempt hair.

But what pushed these three pages over the edge for me was the script. I’m not sure how Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson broke down the writing duties. But these lines punch you right in the gut because they’re so relatable. The ones that really got me were the ones about the silence in the house:

“…the first thing I noticed was the quiet. I thought I could handle it. But I can’t. I wake up and there’s nothing. I’ve hardly said a darn word to anyone since. When I was with them, they drove me up a wall. Now I’d do anything to feel that again.”

I mean, holy crap…

From there we go into a two-page spread. It’s Lynn climbing up into the attic. There are so many memories up there, and she’s flooded with them. I wont’ show it to you here, because I want you to see the issue for yourself.

Her Infernal Descent #1 is published by AfterShock, and hit comic shops April 18. It’s also available on Comixology. The next issue is solicited for release on May 23.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Panels of Awesomeness: Babyteeth #2

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Donny Cates (Author), Garry Brown (Penciller/Inker), Mark Englert (Colorist), Taylor Esposito (Letterer)

THE SCENE: A secret organization called the Silhouette realizes that a new antichrist has been born. One of its members, this old dude whose name we don’t know, insists the group take action to kill the infant. Something they’ve apparently done multiple times before.

WHY IT’S AWESOME: Firstly, Babyteeth is a damn good series. At least as far as I’ve seen. I’ve made it to issue #3. Check it out.

What sold me on this panel was the line work on this guy’s face. Garry Brown isn’t exactly going for photorealism in his work, But the age he puts into this character is extremely believable. You’ve also got the shadowing effect, Brown and Englert actually blend quite nicely with the age lines. It makes it seem like he’s a creature of darkness himself. And considering he’s talking about killing a baby, that’s not exactly far-fetched.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

A Doomsday Clock #1 Review – I Have a Bad Feeling About This…

TITLE: Doomsday Clock #1
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Gary Frank
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $4.99
RELEAED: November 22, 2017

***WARNING: Full on spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Doomsday Clock #1 is a pretty good first chapter. Assuming you have an off switch for your conscience.

By now I really thought I’d be calloused to the idea of DC doing a sequel to Watchmen without the approval or involvement of author Alan Moore or artist Dave Gibbons. Not that they need it. They own the rights to the story and characters, and have been milking them ever since. Naturally, Moore has been sore about it for decades. Years ago the company even published several character-centric Before Watchmen prequel stories. So Doomsday Clock is hardly unprecedented. Throw in all the bits and pieces of Watchmen lore DC has sprinkled around since the Rebirth story began, and you’d think I’d be ready for this…

But Doomsday Clock #1 feels dirty just like Before Watchmen felt dirty. Realities of the publishing industry notwithstanding, this reeks of DC taking toys out of someone else’s sandbox. If you can ignore that side of things, I imagine Doomsday Clock simply becomes the latest Geoff Johns epic. But for many of us in the know, there’s a discomfort level to all this that isn’t going away.

Set several years after the events of Watchmen, we see that Adrian Veidt’s hoax to bring about world peace was only a short term success. Global tensions are at an all time high, as is the threat of nuclear war. Amidst all of this, Rorschach, or rather someone assuming the Rorschach identity, breaks two former supervillains out of prison to aid he and Veldt in setting the world right again. To do that, Doctor Manhattan must be found. But as we’ve seen, the former Jonathan Osterman has been busy making waves in the DC Universe. Worlds are about to collide.

When you come back somewhere after a long time away, you’re naturally curious to see what changed in your absence. Despite what you might call it’s lack of authenticity, parts of Doomsday Clock are intriguing from a world-building perspective. How exactly do things change after a giant alien squid is supposedly dropped on New York City? Not that much, apparently. The world we’re met with is very similar to the one we left. Distress over the airwaves, violence in the streets. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Even our narrator is the same, more or less…

Indeed, there’s a new Rorschach in town. We don’t know much about who he is, other than he works with Veldt, and has brown skin (shown above). I initially rolled my eyes at the idea of Rorschach being a “legacy character.” It’s a tried and true tool in the world of superhero comics. Have a dead hero? Just make a new one with the same M.O. But Rorschach had such a unique and distinct voice that it’s almost cringeworthy to use that trick with him.

But did they even have a choice? Rorschach is such a gigantic and integral part of Watchmen. We saw so much of that world through his eyes. You almost can’t revisit it without him. Plus, Watchmen had legacy characters. Like Doomsday Clock itself, I can see why you’d want to create another Rorschach, but something about it feels really wrong. And no, it’s got nothing to do with his race. Having him be black is fine. It doesn’t add or subtract anything, outside of making for a clever reveal.

Watchmen was never big on humor, per se. You can find things to chuckle about, but very little (if anything) is played for straight up laughs. That’s not the case with Doomsday Clock. There are a handful of funny lines and one full-on gag, most of which revolve around the ultra-serious Rorschach reacting to things. While the humor works, this isn’t a world we’re used to laughing at. Watchmen was big on darkness and despair. We see a rape, the murder of a pregnant woman, dogs being murdered with a meat cleaver, etc. So while it’s funny to see a character called the Mime pull imaginary weapons out of a prison locker (shown below), the tone shift takes some getting used to.

Technologically, the comic book industry has come a long way since Watchmen. The story had a pulpy aesthetic to it that was ultimately part of its charm. Doomsday Clock doesn’t try to replicate that. But I give artist Gary Frank and colorist Brad Anderson a lot of credit for making this look and feel like a story set in the same universe. The colors have a lot more depth and richness. But there’s nevertheless something familiar about those city streets we open up on, or the dark and dank feel of the prison. Letterer Rob Leigh even nailed Rorschach’s handwriting for the caption boxes. (Even though this isn’t the same Rorschach anymore. So does that even make sense?) Comparatively, Doomsday Clock is almost like switching your television from standard to high definition, with the one drawback being the loss of the pulp look.

Tacked on at the end of all this is none other than Superman. We flash back via dream sequence to Ma and Pa Kent driving a young Clark to senior prom. We’re reminded just how lonesome and isolated Clark’s secret can make him as he watches the other kids dance. We then see the tragic accident that killed his adoptive parents.

Oddly enough, this strikes me as a scene about Doctor Manhattan. Doomsday Clock is meant to be about a conflict between hope and cynicism. With the DC Universe representing hope, and Watchmen cynicism. Superman is, of course, an ever present symbol of hope and optimism. A man raised by loving parents who instilled him with a set of values and ideals. In contrast, Jonathan Osterman lost his mother at a young age, and was forced by his father to pursue a career in nuclear physics. Later, Doctor Manhattan’s powers left him increasingly isolated. He eventually regarded human life itself as insignificant. These are to men on polar opposite ends of a spectrum. Yet under different circumstances, Clark Kent could have become Doctor Manhattan. With a better upbringing, Jon Osterman could have been a symbol of hope…

With all this talk of hope and cynicism, Doomsday Clock has the potential to be very poignant, given the era we’re living in. But good or bad, it’s destined to have an asterisk next to it because of the circumstances with Watchmen and its creators. Much can be said about what rights creators should or shouldn’t have, as well as Moore’s less than sunny disposition. But what I keep coming back to is this: If I’d put my time, my energy, and my heart into making this world and these characters, and a big company was in a position to make a lot of money off them, I’d want to be listened to. I’d like to think certain things outweigh the importance of money. Like respect. Dignity. Integrity.

Perhaps that’s just blind hope.

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