Monday, July 7, 2014

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 7/2

Daredevil #0.1
Story: Mark Waid
Art: Peter Krause

I've been enjoying Mark Waid's new volume of Daredevil, with Daredevil now operating out of San Francisco, and this new issue collects the digital first story that bridges the gap between the first volume and the second. Called, "Road Warrior," it tells the story of Matt Murdock travelling with Kirsten McDuffie, his partner and love interest. Of course, Matt is Daredevil, and so when their flight is grounded halfway across the country by weather, and he finds one of the passengers has not heartbeat but is moving around, he goes to investigate and leaves Kirsten behind and gets into an adventure involving an Adaptoid and the Mad Thinker. There are a lot of things in this issue to love. Firstly, it stand completely alone; you need little knowledge of Daredevil going in, and while the story ends with Matt on his way to complete his journey, there is no cliffhanger. Waid has done more to really underline that Daredevil is blind and his senses and experience of the world are not like everyone else's than any writer I can think of, and this issue really uses those perceptions well. It opens with an internal monologue of Matt trying to put into words how his "radar sense" works, and not having the words because they don't exist, and I think that's a very cool observation. I also was impressed with the final fight for a couple of reasons. First, I like it when Daredevil is out of his depth. He isn't anywhere near the most powerful hero in the Marvel Universe, and so often when he has to fight a villain who isn't one of his rogues, he has to rely on his mind, not his powers, to win, and he does so in a very clever way here. Waid also takes one of the main tropes of science fiction, the robot who wants to be human, and completely subverts it here. The Adaptoid, a robot Mad Thinker built, has begin to think it's human, and at the end, well, let's just say it's not Mister Data. If you haven't tried out any of Waid's run on Daredevil and want to dip your toe in, this is a great place to start.

Fairest #27
Story: Mark Buckingham
Art: Russel Braun

The final arc of Fairest begins. I'm going to miss the heck out of Fables and the universe of spin offs that it has built, and this final arc of Fairest ties very heavily into the events that are taking place in the home title. There is unrest at the Farm, the home for Fables who can't pass for human, caused partly by Reynard, the wily fox, rubbing his new ability to transform into a human form, and the other animal and non-human Fables deciding they are finally due the similar glamour that they were promised. Tying back into an earlier issue of Fairest, we spend a lot of time with Reynard, who is mourning his clumsiness and lack of romantic luck in his human form. With dissent building, Rose Red, the queen of the new Camelot she is building on the Farm, calls for King Cole and the Witches of Fabletown to come along and help settle the rumblings. It's a complex issue, with lots of moving pieces and different characters, but it's enjoyable if you have been reading Fables and Fairest for a while. There is also a feeling of symmetry, as the first arc that featured the Farm dealt with an attempted coup, and now we're here at the end with chaos about the ensue again. It's also interesting since this story is written by Mark Buckingham, the principle artist on much of Fables, whose first arc was that initial Farm story. While Fairest has mostly featured the female cast of Fables, and I'm sure they will play a big roll as this continues, this story was a spotlight for Reynard, whose final page reveal of who he has decided to woo is only going to lead to a bigger problem for him and some comedic chaos that I am very much looking forward to.

Rocket Raccoon #1
Story & Art: Skottie Young

From foxes to raccoons, we're now off to space to spend a little time with the Guardians of the Galaxy's favorite rodent and his tree sidekick. Rocket has been a character I've loved since he was re-introduced back during the Annihilation: Conquest event, and his recently raised profile thanks to what I'm sure will be a star turn in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film has led Marvel to launch this ongoing series from cartoonist Skottie Young. This first issue is a ton of fun, starting with a princess rescue, followed by Rocket on a date watching Groot, his partner who happens to be a walking and talking tree monster, in a wrestling match, and then Rocket on the run with a bounty on his head. It's a wacky buddy comedy sort of adventure issue, which is the perfect tone for this book; nobody wants a grim and gritty adventure about a talking raccoon. I must point out that you don't get a story that works on its own. This is very much the beginning of an arc, and has lots of hints of what's to come in this first arc. But it does better than many first issue in that we get a lot of character mixed in with a ton of action; this isn't a talking heads comic. If you're coming for a fun, light story, though, you're staying for Skottie Young's incredible art. His style is fun and cartoony, perfect for Rocket and Groot, but is hyper-detailed at the same time. You can spend hours pouring over the panels of the city Rocket is in, looking at the backgrounds with all the crazy creatures and designs. And when the other Guardians appear briefly, while they are all in Young's distinct style, they are still very much themselves. Marvel has done a lot of interesting, different comics lately, and this new series is a perfect addition of that stable: a sci-fi/action/humor comic. If you enjoy crazy outer space action with talking animals, you need to try out Rocket Raccoon.

Southern Bastards #3
Story: Jason Aaron
Art: Jason Latour

It seems that in one of those cases of bad fortune, the weeks I've missed doing reviews the past couple months have overlapped with the release of Jason Aaron's new southern crime series, Southern Bastards. I've talked about Scalped here before, and this book is a worthy successor to that title. Earl Tubbs has returned to his home town in Craw County, Alabama to put family affairs in order, only to find the place rotten to the core, and after the death of his old friend Dusty last issue, it's time for Earl to get some answers. Armed with a big stick, one very reminiscent of the one his father, who was the sheriff and a local legend, wielded, Earl heads into town and makes a show of beating down a couple of the thugs who work for Coach Boss, the local football coach and crime boss/gang leader/all around bad guy. It's an exciting scene, and the reverence the townsfolk play to the stick makes me even more curious to see what exactly the story is of Earl's father. And the more we see of the town, a town that seems deep friend and crinkly around the edges, and almost completely lacking in southern hospitality, the more we see how rotten things are. The issue ends with a message being prepared by Coach Boss's tugs for Earl, one that isn't a peace offering. Earl continues to leave voicemails for a mystery woman, someone I hope we get some answers about soon. It's a great series, full of atmosphere and grit. Plus there's a recipe for deep friend apple pie from Jason Aaron's mom, which looks delicious. If a comic can also provide deliciousness, you know it's a keeper.

And as a final addition, check out this blog post from my coworker, Annie Gribbins. Annie brought her daughter to her first con a couple weeks back, Wizard World Philly, to meet Evan Peters, of X-Men: Days of Future Past and American Horror Story fame. It's a great post, and fun for a grizzled vetran like me to read the reaction of a first time con goer.

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