Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 5/18

Future Quest #1
Story: Jeff Parker
Art: Evan "Doc" Shaner, Steve "The Dude" Rude, Jordie Bellaire

The character mash-up series is pretty popular right now. Dynamite has two running, Gold Key Alliance, which combines classic Gold Key characters like Magnus Robot Fighter, Dr. Solar, and Turok; and King Quest, with the King Synidate heroes Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, The Phantom, Prince Valiant, and Jungle Jim. Dc gets in on the act this week with Future Quest, which looks to tie all the 60s and 70s action cartoons from Hanna Barbera together into one universe, and the first issue is quite successful. Readers get characters from three of the better known cartoons of this era: Space Ghost, Jonny Quest, and Birdman. If you've never watched these shows, then have no fear: each character is introduced in a way that lets you know what their deal is. The opening is an origin for Space Ghost, something I'm not sure existed in the cartoon; if it did, I never saw that episode. Most of the issue centers around Jonny Quest and his extended family, his father Benton, his foster brother Haji, and his bodyguard Race Bannon, as well as his dog, Bandit, investigating vortexes opening up around the world and letting things from other worlds and times into the modern world. We also see an alliance between Dr. Zin, the Quest family's arch nemesis, who has allied with the international criminal syndicate F.E,A.R., and because of this, Quest has gotten in touch with Inter-Nation Security, who sends two agents to aid Quest, Deva Sumadi and Ray Randall, who happens to be Birdman. This allows the Quest and Birdman characters to mingle logically, and the vortexes make it clear how Space Ghost will pop in. It is a smart comic that still embraces it's crazy cartoon roots. And to add to that nearness to its roots, "Doc" Shaner and Steve Rude's pencils are both really impressive. It's beautiful, clean, and both artist have distinct styles but they complement each other nicely in this comic. It's an exciting first issue, filled with action and character, and I'm looking forward to future issues as we see more of these classic animated characters join the series.

Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files: Wild Card #2
Story: Jim Butcher & Mark Powers
Art: Carlos Gomez & Mohan

The first issue of the new Dresden Files mini-series, Wild Card, set up the characters and the stakes of the series. This second issue is where the action really kicks off. Last issue's cliffhanger left Harry in the clutches of a giant owl. Harry gets out of it, with the aid of his half-brother, Thomas, and through quick thinking. That opening fight really sums up a lot of what makes the Dresden Files great to me. Harry is in a mistmatched fight with something way bigger than him, he gets the crap beaten out of him, and then he out-thinks his foe; Jim Butcher's writing always rewards cleverness over main force. But once that's over, Harry doesn't get to rest, as he has to go and meet with Lara Raith, head of Clan Raith of the White Court of Vampires, and his half-brother's half-sister on the other side; Jim Butcher loves his comics, and so the relationships between characters in his books are just as complex. And because Lara like to point out how superior she is to everyone, she will only talk to Harry while they spar. And Lara's a vampire, so she's physically stronger, and not a suck your blood vampire, but a succubus, so there's some... colorful narration from Harry as Lara pummels him. The information Harry gets isn't what he was hoping for, as he has no further clues to the deaths of the girls he is investigating, but instead learns of a brewing war between the White Court and the mobs of Chicago, led by Gentleman John Marcone, who has his own supernatural connections, which all seems suspect to Harry. And one of the scenes that take place away from Harry shows that the supernatural killer from last issue is the one orchestrating these crimes. What his endgame is remains to be seen, but it's an intricate game being played, with Harry trapped in the middle of things. On the art front, I want to call out the way Gomez draws Lara Raith, who makes her first comics appearance this issue. Gomez has done a good job of presenting many of the female characters in more realistic body types; Karrin Murphy, the main female character in the books, is described as short and not described as stereotypically buxom, and he's done a good job of keeping with that. When Lara pops up she is very much in the 90s Image bad girl look, and for that character, it absolutely works, as Lara is described that way, being a succubus and all. It's exciting to see more characters from the books popping up, and the series is an fun, exciting tale of intrigue and wizardy, like the best Dresden Files stories. If you've ever enjoyed Jim Butcher's stories of Harry Dresden, this is a perfect series for you.

Lucifer #6
Story: Holly Black
Art: Stephanie Hans

Holly Black follows up the end of her first arc on Lucifer with a one off issue that sets up coming events and introduces new characters, a kind of story in the tradition of both the original Lucifer and it's antecedent, The Sandman. Rosemary is on her way home from college, bringing her boyfriend, Takehiko to meet her parents. Sounds pretty normal, right? Well, it turns out Rosemary's parents are Satanists, and she's very up front about that. The issue starts out mixing both the amusing domestic scenes of Takehiko in a most unconventional household with Rosemary telling him about some of the darker aspects of her parents' past, like the girl who died in the first Satanic church, and about exactly what the different Satanists believe. But there's clearly more going on with Takehiko, things involving spontaneously cracking mirrors and wings on his back, things involving ghosts that he can see. And when they go to the Satantic church for a service, things start to get intense. The Satanists play a prank on Takehiko, and when they do, he demonstrates exactly what his powers are. What was a mundane story with tinges of horror now becomes a flat out horror stories, with revenge seeking ghosts and demons. And the revelation of exactly what Takehiko's ancestry is should have occurred to me sooner; it makes such perfect sense, is so elegantly done, and plays so nicely off the events of the original Lucifer series. The end of the issue sets up the next arc, and finds a way to build on everything that has come before and pushing it in an entirely new direction. It's also an excellent jumping on point, as what little you would need to know is explained by the characters organically in the story without a huge info dump. Add in Stephanie Hans beautiful art, with gorgeous shadows, and characters who are as handsome or beautiful as her demons are ugly, and you have an issue that is the perfect place to try this series, especially if you were a fan of the original Lucifer comic and have been holding out on trying the new volume. You will enjoy this issue, I have no doubt.

No comments: