Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Captain Marvel, Carol Corps, Carol Danvers, David Lopez, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Marvel, Secret Wars, VCs Joe Caramagna
Art by David Lopez
Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover by David Lopez
Published by Marvel
The Carol Corps have a problem. His name is Rhodey and he should be dead. In fact, he should be an Ultron. The fact he’s neither is bad enough, but what they’re about to find out is even worse. The collective lie everyone has been telling themselves is growing thin and the Corps are going to get their shot at the stars. If they live.
The best Secret Wars miniseries have been the ones that either explore the core concepts of the characters in a new way or break entirely new ground. This falls somewhere in the middle of the two approaches and works supremely well. The militaristic background is a subtle throwback to Carol’s past but is also an interesting new world that DeConnick and Thompson explore here. But it’s also a catalyst for the central motif; that this is a book about pilots and pilots can’t help but fly.
That spirit, not of pioneering but of wanting to tweak the nose of your limitations, is baked into the character and brought very much to the fore here. It works brilliantly too and the fact that breaking new ground is what gets the Corps to commit heresy is an elegant touch that echoes up and down the issue. Thompson and DeConnick have a clear love for these characters and you do too by the end of the issue. The Corps are brilliant, flawed, heroic people and as a result they’re in a lot of trouble. I’ve rarely been more worried about a cast, and that’s a testament to the writing. You want them to be okay even though they almost certainly won’t be. The tragedy, and brilliance, of the characters is that that’s exactly how they want it; someone’s got to be the first and someone’s got to be the first to come back and those are two different people, so be it.
On the art side of things Lopez has huge fun, not just with the characters but the tech. There’s a glorious engineering montage here that gives him a chance to show off his research and some character moments that are amongst his best work. The chess game between Carol and the Baroness is especially well done, not to mention chilling. Likewise, Doc is a lovely new character who fits right in and feels like she’s been in the book for years. Finally Caramagna’s letters focus you on every nuance of the dialogue and ensure the book is as tightly machined and engineered as the planes the Corps fly.
Character driven, concept heavy, brave SF that’s also one of the best Secret Wars books on the market this is as good as they come. Pick it up and watch the Corps soar.
Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Corrinne, Darragh Savage, Empty Zone, Image, Jason Alexander, Luis Nct, Sherard Jackson
Colours by Luis Nct
Lettering and design by Sherard Jackson
Story Editing by Darragh Savage
Published by Image
A solar flare wiped every piece of technology on Earth and dropped humanity into an enthusiastically brutal dark age. We rebuilt, after all it’s all we know how to do, but there was a price. A harsher world, a colder, more brutal way of life and a fundamental distrust of technology. That’s where Corrinne comes in. Ex-military, Corrinne is a courier. She carires information in the most literal sense possible. Her job is dangerous, the trust her clients must place in her absolute.
So why is she cracking up?
Alexander’s pared down, machined cyberpunk script drops you head first into the world and doesn’t care if you swim or not, You will, because he’s a Hell of a writer and this issue shows you just why. Corrinne’s damage is fully on show and as the issue segues from character to action you’re with her every step of the way. Alexander’s art is like a much loved vintage motorbike, burnished and precise but with the edges knocked off. The chase scene here is great, all delirious angles and feverish motion. Even better, the scenes from Corrinne’s point of view are great. The use of a loading progress bar, some wonderfully snarky ghosts and the constantly shifting perspective gives the book a feverish tone that helps immensely. She’s not sure what’s real and neither are you. But neither of you are going anywhere but further down the rabbit hole.
Jackson’s lettering is exactly the work the book needs, minimalist and precise in exactly the way Corrinne isn’t while Nct’s colour scheme is cold, wintry and just a little brittle. Together they create a book that’s equal parts beautiful and desperate. A welcome return for an old favorite and a fantastic piece nasty, street level sf.
Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Brandon Graham, Dagger Proof Mummy, Emma Rios, ID, Image, Island, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Ludroe, Marian Churchland, Marthe Bazile, Multiple Warheads 2, Polaris 1, Railbirds
ID By Emma Rios
Railbirds by Kelly Sue DeConnick with illustrations by Emma Rios
Multiple Warheads 2 : Ghost Town by Brandon Graham
Dagger Proof Mummy by Ludroe and Marthe Bazile
Polaris 1 by Brandon Graham
Published by Image
This new anthology from Image covers a lot of ground, almost all of it successfully. Opening on the run with ID by Emma Rios. Doused in shades of red, Rios’ story focuses on a reluctant group of likeminded people in the middle of a difficult situation. Noa, Charlotte and Mike all want a new body and as they talk through their reasons for it Rios walks us through their world. It’s subtle, organic worldbuilding that touches on gender identity, class, race and the idealism that comes from desperately wanting something, anything else. It’s subtle, clever stuff that’s entirely character driven and explores a raft of very real issues for many people in a way that’s fictionalized but never trivialized. Plus Rios draws like no one on Earth and the riot sequence that closes this instalment is sweeping, kinetic, graceful and untidy all at once.
Railbirds illustrated by Rios and written by Kelly Sue DeConnick is up next. DeConnick’s relentless emotional honesty and eloquence is on display here as she tells a detailed series of recollections about her late friend, Maggie Estep. It’s a starkly honest read and I’ve seen it criticised in some quarters for not fitting here. I think it’s one of the standouts and DeConnick’s work never fails to impress or move. This is no exception.
Brandon Graham’s Multiple Warheads 2: Ghost Town is up next. It’s a hallucinatory, surreally graceful read that takes in a restaurant in a whale, the perils of working around a ghost and the surreal geography of the main characters’ new home. Graham’s style is wonderful but this is a story you need to work at, even if you don’t necessarily need to have read the original. Every page is beautiful, but every page will make you work.
Ludroe and Bazile’s Dagger Proof Mummy up next is a gleefully serious piece of skateboard horror noir that takes in the heroic myth, supernatural horror and a mummy that really is dagger proof. This is as open as Multiple Warheads 2 is shut, both rewarding and fun but both finding their way there via very different routes. And only one shredding as it goes.
Polaris 1 rounds things out with a look at, if not Graham’s process then certainly his thinking. It’s a fascinating little two page piece that explores the eye of the artist and shows just how careful, and smart, each one of Graham’s pages is.
Island is a fiercely inventive, eclectic and essential slice of comics. Think of it like alt-2000AD. There’s something new every few pages and while you might not like everything you’ll certainly be happy to stick around for what follows. Clever, off centre and brilliant stuff.
Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Guru Efx, Ken Lashley, Kev Walker, Marvel, Marvel Zombies, Paul Mounts, Secretworld, Si Spurrier, VC's Clayton Cowles
Art by Kev Walker
Colours by Guru Efx
Letters & Production by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover by Ken Lashley & Paul Mounts
So the good news is Elsa Bloodstone isn’t dead. Trapped behind the Shield, and behind a vast army marching on the Shield, Elsa and her mysterious child companion have no option but to press on. The bad news is they’re not alone…
Spurrier’s enthusiastic take on Elsa is one of the most fun character reboots in years. Her combination of precise British aristocracy, grumpy zombie asskicker and walking PTSD makes her more nuanced and fun than ever before. You like Elsa. You also don’t want to be in front of, behind, or next to her. She’s dangerous and Spurrier never lets us forget that. He also never lets us, or her, forget that she’s kinder than she thinks she is. Elsa gets in serious trouble here, not because she’s smart but she’s concerned and that sets up a hell of a third issue. Daddy wouldn’t be proud, but he was creepy and slightly mad so he can sod off. Elsa’s got work to do. That sort of character work, along with a whipsmart sense of humour and a keen eye for action marks this out as something special and there’s not a page here that disappoints.
That’s true of the art as well. Guru Efx’s colours do a great job of showing the shattered, night time landscape Elsa and her companion are hunted through while Cowles’ lettering nails not just the tone and pitch of the dialogue but the volume. Finally, Kev Walker’s sturdy style gives everything a pleasingly meaty feel, even if you’re slightly worried about just how fresh that meat is…One of the best in an amazingly strong line up of mini-series, Marvel Zombies pulls no punches and spares no rounds, despite Elsa’s fervent wish it did so. Brutally fun from end
Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Ben Caldwell, Corn Dog Girl, DC Vertigo, Jeremy Lawson, Mark Morales, Mark Russell, Prez, Sean Parsons, Travis Lanham
Pencils and cover by Ben Caldwell
Inks by Mark Morales with Sean Parsons
Colours by Jeremy Lawson
Letters by Travis Lanham
Published by DC
The election is going badly. For everyone. The horsetrading has begun as senators are courted to try and get their vote to swing. Except, they’re all courted. And they all want to swing their vote so…yeah. Beth, on the other hand, is in school, working hard and trying to work off the image of her as Corn Dog Girl. But events are about to overtake her, and her father, forever.
There are two scenes in here that are among the best you’ll read in comics this year. The first is moment with Carl the End-Of-Life Bear, Beth and her dad. It’s a perfect mix of the creative team as the sharp inks of Morales and Parsons mix with the friendly design of Caldwell’s art and Lawson’s colours to create the cuddliest euthanasiabot you’ll ever meet. Better still though is the fact that Russell’s script subverts your expectations not once but twice in the scene. It’s a beautiful piece of comics that swings through multiple emotions with ease.
The other is a moment of inspired visual wit as the senators all talk about what they’re being offered. Lying on beds and chatting on the phone like stereotypical teenagers they’re equal parts hilarious, pitiable and nightmarish. The system that Beth is meant to revolutionize writ large and giggling a lot.
There’s a lot of very clever, very funny comic work in this issue. It builds on the first, expands the world and throws visual wit at you with the same speed it throws out one liners. I’m delighted to see the book has been locked for two six issue mini-series and I look forward to the rest of. Prez has, two issues in, officially got my vote.
Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Boom, kate leth, Matt Cummings, Power Up
Written by Kate Leth
Art by Matt Cummings
Published by Boom!
Amie works at a pet store. It’s…a job…that she has to do in order to get not quite enough money to live. It’s also dull, involves her working with her insanely precise boss Karen and a visit from an alien.
This is so much fun from the absolute get go. Leth has a great, light touch with comedy and character and gets to show both off here. A quiet little moment between Amie and a workman is one of my favourite pages in comics this year. Likewise her interaction with Sal the coffee shop owner is lovely and sets her in a world that she’s clearly familiar with and agrees with her.
Until the alien.
That’s where Leth’s script and Cummings’ wonderful art fuse perfectly. Both have a great eye for character and nuance and together they create one of the friendliest, most welcoming comics I’ve read in years. But the alien scene is where things cut loose. Starting with a beautiful two page splash and culminating in the most unexpected action beat of the year. There’s one panel, and you’ll know when you see it, where the look on Amie’s face is exactly the look on yours and it’s glorious. Even better, it’s also clearly setting up something much larger and more complex and, odds are, even more fun.
This is an exuberant, confident funny as Hell book. It’s crammed full of gorgeous art, wonderful real looking characters and huge energy. Its brilliant fun, is only getting started and you need to place it front of your eyes immediately.