Travelling Man's Blog


Review: Drax Issue 1 by Travelling Man
November 19, 2015, 9:00 am
Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

drax 1Written by CM Punk & Cullen Bunn

Art by Scott Hepburn

Colour art by Matt Milla

Letters & Production by VC’s Clayton Cowles

Published by Marvel

£2.85

 

The Guardians have saved the galaxy! Again! So, like they always do, they decide to go do their own stuff for a bit. Apart from Drax, a man who’s ‘To Do’ list always read:

  1. KILL THANOS
  2. SAVE UNIVERSE WITH FRIENDS
  3. KILL THANOS

So, when his friends leave, what does Drax do?

Yeah.

Punk’s much vaunted series debut cleverly matches him with Cullen Bunn, a writer whose work has been defined by his willingness to get his characters’ knuckles bloody. Together, the two create an instantly likable, and wonderfully grumpy, take on Drax that will be familiar to anyone who saw the movie. There’s the same seething rage, the same obsession and the same inadvertently sweet confusion at, well…everything that doesn’t involve killing Thanos. Or nuance. Or, possibly, killing nuance. Because if anyone could, it’s Drax.

Drax is, in some ways, the toughest Guardian to write. He’s always up for a fight, always driven and often charmingly literal. There’s not a huge amount of room for character back there but Punk and Bunn cram a good deal in. This Drax has excellent, sometimes intentional, comic timing and a touching quixotic belief in his own abilities. He’s also, for all the horrifying violence, rather innocent.

All of that is neatly captured by Scott Hepburn, who’s take on Drax is a little more belligerent than his big screen counterpart but very clearly has Dave Bautista’s presence and comic timing. Again, this is the challenge with the Guardians characters; writing and drawing to type but finding something new there. Punk, Bunn, Hepburn and colour artist Scott Milla all manage, and Milla in particular does a great job of keeping the riotous, lush colours of the MCU’s interstellar locations on the page.

Rounded out by typically great lettering from Cowles, this is a welcome, and very grumpy, addition to the Guardians family. Grab it before it grabs you.



Review: Drax Issue 1 by Travelling Man

drax issue 1Written by CM Punk & Cullen Bunn

Art by Scott Hepburn

Colour art by Matt Milla

Letters & Production by VC’s Clayton Cowles

Published by Marvel

£2.85

 

The Guardians have saved the galaxy! Again! So, like they always do, they decide to go do their own stuff for a bit. Apart from Drax, a man whose ‘To Do’ list always read:

  1. KILL THANOS
  2. SAVE UNIVERSE WITH FRIENDS
  3. KILL THANOS

So, when his friends leave, what does Drax do?

 

Yeah. That.

Punk’s much vaunted series debut cleverly matches him with Cullen Bunn, a writer whose work has been defined by his willingness to get his characters’ knuckles bloody. Together, the two create an instantly likable, and wonderfully grumpy, take on Drax that will be familiar to anyone who saw the movie. There’s the same seething rage, the same obsession and the same inadvertently sweet confusion at, well…everything that doesn’t involve killing Thanos. Or nuance. Or, possibly, killing nuance. Because if anyone could, it’s Drax.

Drax is, in some ways, the toughest Guardian to write. He’s always up for a fight, always driven and often charmingly literal. There’s not a huge amount of room for character back there but Punk and Bunn cram a good deal in. This Drax has excellent, sometimes intentional, comic timing and a touching Quixotic belief in his own abilities. He’s also, for all the horrifying violence, rather innocent.

All of that is neatly captured by Scott Hepburn, who’s Drax is a little more belligerent than his big screen counterpart but very clearly has Dave Bautista’s presence and comic timing. Again, this is the challenge with the Guardians characters; writing and drawing to type but finding something new there. Punk, Bunn, Hepburn and colour artist Scott Milla all manage, and Milla in particular does a great job of keeping the riotous, lush colours of the MCU’s interstellar locations on the page.

Rounded out by typically great lettering from Cowles, this is a welcome, and very grumpy, addition to the Guardians family. Grab it before it grabs you.



Review: Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars Issue 1 by Travelling Man

Written by Cullen Bunn

Art by Matteo Lolli and Jacopo Camagni (‘Bonus Round’)

Colours by Ruth Redmond and Veronica Gandini (‘Bonus Round’)

Letters by VC’s Joe Sabino

Cover by Tony Harris

Published by Marvel

£3.40

 

In 1984, a construct appeared in New York. Because this was what happened in 1984, and, presumably, it was a slow day, basically every superhero in the city decided to poke it to see what it did.

What it did, was transport them to deep space where a large cosmic being called The Beyonder decided to have the heroes, and villains (Same basic construct, somewhere else, presumably a slow villain day too) fight.

And lo, the modern crossover was born.

Secret Wars was not an especially good story but it was an immensely fun one that had lots of lasting consequences. Spider-Man’s new black costume, the Thing’s brief run as Ben Grimm and the Beyonder in particular all echoed down years of Marvel continuity. Now, with Secret Wars kicking off in a very different but thematically similar format, it’s time to take a look at the original story from the point of view of Deadpool.

Who wasn’t there.

OR WAS HE?!

Its early days with Secret Wars (2015) but the early signs are this might not be the hideous, bankruptcy inducing deathmarch so many crossovers become. The evidence for that comes from how self-contained a lot of the stories under that banner are and this is a good example. Bunn’s script balances the two different tones very well; everyone is slightly pompous and formal as they were in the original series and the primary beats of it are all present. As a result, Deadpool bouncing around doing the sort of free association near the knuckle comedy he excels at feels even more out of place and at the same time, even easier to root for. Wade’s us, thrown backwards to 1984 and kind of amazed by everything from how people sound to the dodgy continuity of the original and some of the more eccentric wardrobe choices his colleagues make.

But he’s also the last man standing, and this is where Bunn gets clever. As the issue opens, Wade is the only hero to survive. Whether this is going to lead to time travel, a genuinely magnificent misunderstanding or some alternate universe shenanigans remains to be seen. What’s clear is that Wade is…bothered by losing all his friends. He wants to be a good guy. Good guys defend their friends, and or, avenge them. Probably the latter way more. So off he goes. The end result is a fun, slightly dark story with lots of affection for the original and exactly the needed lack of reverence. Lolli’s precise, detail heavy art and Redmond’s colours are great too, neatly evoking the slightly more garish tones of the ‘80s without forcing us to endure dot-based colouring again.

It’s backed up by ‘Bonus Round’, which ties into the other big ‘let’s all punch each other’ alpha story, Contest of Champions. Here, Wade’s in full gun toting Bugs Bunny mode, leading a gang of misfits just to the side of the original story. The art by Camagni and Gandini is looser and more fluid and it’s neatly contrasted with the surprisingly dark ending. Wade, for all his charm, is a deeply disturbed man and Bunn reminds us of that here to surprisingly poignant, yet wacky, effect. Sabino’s lettering is great here in particular but impressive throughout.

Smart, funny, nasty and endearingly self-contained (it seems) this is a fun diversion for both everyone’s favorite gobby Merc and any readers looking for a non-Secret Wars Secret Wars story. Worth a shot.



Review: Hellbreak Issue 1 by Travelling Man

Written by Cullen Bunn

Ilustrated by Brian Churilla

Colours by Dave Stewart

Lettered by Crank!

Designed by Jared K. Fletcher

Edited by Charlie Chu

75p. YES. 75P. PUT DOWN THE INTERNET AND GO AND BUY THIS. I’LL WAIT.

 

Back? Like it? Me TOO.

 

Just in case you didn’t read this yet, here’s why you should. Firstly, it’s a story about a Church funded team of Special Forces operators who will, for the right price, extract your loved ones from Hell. Cullen Bunn excels at this sort of stuff and he’s on top form here, running that deliciously fun premise until it’s going flat out.

Secondly the art’s excellent. Dave Stewart is one of the greatest colourists working today and has the muted, otherworldly tons Hell requires absolutely down. Churilla and Crank! do excellent work too and Churilla’s style is just eccentric enough to tell you how off the world is without losing any of the characters along the way. This could be a book dominated by how much fun Hell is to draw. Instead, it’s a book that focuses in on the humans who go into the Underworld and the cost they pay for their work.

Thirdly, Bunn’s script is flawless. If you want to learn how to write narratively for comics you could do a lot worse than pick up three copies of this (One for you, one for a friend, one to dissect and all for less than a coffee) and study up. We get the background, the characters, the premise, the action, the reveal and character beats galore at a pace that’s measured and confident and never once rushed. The book moves and reads like a Kerberos Operator; always in control, always two steps ahead and always ready to start some ruckus.

Fourthly, this is incredibly fun, clever horror comics and God knows seeing those four words in formation always makes me happy.

Fifthly, 75P. SEVENTY.FIVE.PENCE.

Seriously, go get it its brilliant. And tell a friend or ten.



Review: Terrible Lizard Issue 1 by Travelling Man


Written by Cullen Bunn

Illustrated by Drew Moss

Coloured by Ryan Hill

Lettered by Crank!

Published by Image

£2.85

 

Boredom. High science. Temporal mechanics. Skateboard. Secret lab. Top secret research. Success. Failure. Property damage. Puppy.

Welcome to Terrible Lizard.

Wow this book is FUN. From the opening Kaiju-esque rampage to the closing sting it sprints headlong through a world that’s fluid, fun and just a little hyper realistic. I’m a mark for a good ‘well-meaning science’ story and that’s certainly what this is. Picture Doctor Venture with funding and you’re close to Cosmos Labs, an idyllic research facility where Doctor Anders is closing in on a breakthrough in temporal displacement. It’s a nicely realized location and the first issue drops some heavy hints that it may not be as idyllic as it’s presented. Jess, Anders’ daughter is lonely because her best friend ‘left’ and there’s a sense of the facility being a little too open, trying a little too hard. It’s a subtle atmosphere beat that complements the action very well.

Because believe me, this book is all about the property damage. When the Terrible Lizard of the title debuts, Drew Moos puts the pedal to the metal and never lets up. His style is brawny, slightly Kirby-esque fun throughout but his dinosaur work is amazing. The T-Rex (Whose possible new name made this Mass Effect fan insanely happy) is a colossal ball of muscle, scales and teeth. He’s also…well…not what you’d expect. The first issue closes in a place which is completely logical and yet also a pleasant subversion of expectation. It’s also a Hell of a set up and the final page alone is worth picking the book up for.

Fun from start to frantic finish, this is a joy. If you love dinosaurs, science and what happens when the two bounce off each other, then this is for you.



Review: Lobo Issue 1 by Travelling Man

Written by Cullen Bunn

Pencilled by Reilly Brown

Inks by Nelson DeCastro

Colours by Pete Pantzatis

Letters by Travis Lanham

Published By dc

£2.20

This is a gutsy book, in both senses of the word. Firstly because any book featuring Lobo is going to have its fair share of ridiculous brutality and believe me this does. Someone is bisected, someone else has limbs ripped off and the first scene is a conversation between the lead and the severed head of his latest victim, which he electrocutes to make sure it can’t regenerate.

The electrocutee is the original Lobo, beloved anti-establishment hyper violent DC character. The electrocutor is his successor. Also Lobo.

That’s the second kind of guts, as Cullen Bunn runs headlong at the established past of the character and takes the fundamentals of it for this new version. There’s no sugar coating, no gentle removal of the Band-Aid. The old Lobo was a liar and a fraud. The new Lobo, slimmer, better looking, more angsty, is the real deal. A lot of old school fans are going to be turned off. A lot of new readers will find a perfect place to hop aboard, just as long as they’re careful of the blood all over the floor of course.

This is a really interesting set up issue,taking Lobo to Earth to kill the eight deadliest assassins in the universe. They’ve all been lured there for the same job and Lobo’s job is to take them all out before they do it. It’s clearly a set up, clearly the tip of a larger iceberg but he doesn’t care. He’s a workaholic, consumed with guilt at his past actions and burying himself in the next bout of violence. Again, gutsy move and it works. This Lobo is driven and tormented but surprisingly likable to spend time with partially because he’s weirdly sympathetic and partially because the big lug is clearly an idiot and is in huge amounts of trouble.

Bunn has a good ear for dialogue, a clear fondness for hyper violence and knows his way around stories about off the books low lifes and pseudo criminals. There’s a confidence and stride to the script that’s very welcome and he’s backed up by a phenomenal art team. Reilly Brown’s work is new to me but balances the precision and invention a book like this demands very well. Nelson DeCastro’s inks give it the detail and definition the art demands whilst Lanham’s lettering nails several different speech patterns and walks you round the complex, info-dense pages with ease.

Hands down breakout star this issue has Pantzatis though. Another name I’m not familiar with his work is astoundingly good. The flashback scene is reandered in almost pastel shades, whilst the characters, the violence they perpetrate on each other and the complex environments all have their own unique feel. It’s a remarkable job that ties the entire book together and raises every page immensely. The end result is a book that’s not just gutsy but can back up each one of its choices. A very pleasant, if blood-soaked, surprise.



The Empty Man Issue 1 by Travelling Man

Created and written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Vanesa R Del Rey
Colours by Michael Garland
Letters by Ed Dukeshire
Published by Boom!
£2.85 or £1.99 if Supercard Go! made you do it

Something awful is moving through the US. Something that whispers to people, tells them to do awful things to themselves and others. Something that ensures their last act is giving it the credit it deserves. The Empty Man made them do it.

Jensen and Langford are two of the inter-agency task force investigating whatever the Empty Man is. Langford is older, calmer, more arrogant and quietly very ill. Jensen is worse with people, more driven and completely unwilling to put up with her partner’s crap. Bunn’s script hits the ground running for both and sets up not only their world but how they approach it with consumate ease. By the end of the first issue we know the two agents, know their job and have an idea of just how bad the world they live in is. This is America just before panic, the intake of breath before the scream. This entire book is hunched, waiting for the blow to fall and when it does, it changes everything we, and the agents know. This is serialized storytelling and the gamble, as always, is if people come back. I certainly will.
On the art side of things, Del Rey’s work is fantastic. She has a Tom Mandrake-esque eye for character, everyone somehow normal and slightly grotesque at the same time. She’s helped immensely by Garland’s colors, especially on the two big reveal pages. This is a book with dread encoded into every page and the fact it’s there shows just how talented the art team are.

Horrifying, gripping and confident, this is a book that travels the dark roads between The X Files and True Detective with ease. Hop aboard and remember, if you do, you can always blame The Empty Man.



Review:Helheim Issue 1 by Travelling Man

Helheim

Issue 1

Written by Cullen Bunn

Illustrated by Joelle Jones

Colours by Nick Filardi

Letters by Ed Brisson

Published by Oni

£2.85

I’m a sucker for a good ‘Viking vs something awful movie.’ If you’ve not seen Outlander, please, for the love of God do so, it’s a brilliantly inventive, tight, nasty little movie which combines action, science fiction and the story of Beowulf and Grendel to do something really quite extraordinary. Likewise, if you’ve not seen The Thirteenth Warrior, please do. It’s an inventive, tight, nasty little movie which if it had been left in the cut that was originally produced, would have cemented Antonio Banderas’ action movie credentials, launched Tony Curran as the leading man he’s been waiting years to be discovered as, and established a whole new sub-genre of ‘Viking vs OH GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE’ movies that would be lining my shelves to this day.

But we don’t live in that universe. Instead, Thirteenth Warrior over here is a slightly broken, but fun curiosity. Think of it as The Descent with some competent Vikings instead of the Six People I Would Least Want Anywhere Near Me Whilst Caving and you’re onto a winner.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yeah, VIKINGS.

Cullen Bunn’s Heleim opens with men running for their life. It’s 580AD and something has gone very badly wrong. Now, the last survivors of a raid are heading home, all too aware that they may not make it and even more aware that if they do? Their reward will be bringing the horror chasing them to their door. Then, Rikard, one of the men, sees a vision hovering over the water, a Viking warrior weeping tears of blood.

Himself.

The men run on. The men fight. Not all of them live. And that’s the good news.

Cullen Bunn has been carving a name for himself for a while now, with the excellent supernatural western Sixth Gun, his gleefully nasty Deadpool work and Fearless Defenders, one of the oddest, and best, Marvel Now titles. Helheim is as good as anything else I’ve seen from him. This is insanely assured, confident writing as Bun introduces you to these characters literally on the run and draws you into their world. The power dynamic between Rikard, his father Kirk, village badass Shad and Bera, Rikard’s lover is elegantly and quickly sketched out. We see how this complicated, embattled little settlement holds together and also how it will fall apart, Bera’s presence simultaneously a rallying point and the irritant that will lead to everything changing.  Bunn pulls the rug out from under you not once but three times in the space of one issue, leading to a massive change which looks set to power the rest of the book. A lesser writer would have balked but Bunn runs headlong at this, scattering clues throughout the book that lead to a nightmarish last page which isn’t just a conclusion to what we’ve seen so far, but the opening of what promises to be a horrific, and fun comic.

Joelle Jones’ art is as perfect a fit for the script as you could imagine. Her characters are brawny without being stereotypical and her action sequences are fluid, brutal and gripping. The opening sequence along is great, with a double half page showing Rikard in the centre, Rikard’s ghost to the right and the other Vikings frantically scrambling up a bank to the left. There’s a real sense of place, motion and danger to this sequence especially and it’s a rare pleasureto see art and script complement one another so well.  There’s elegance and pace here, the structure of the pages telling us more about how much trouble the characters are in than they ever could. After all, they’re running for their lives.  Similarly, a later page shows you Kirk, Bera and Rikard in three panels, all drawn towards a single, central, horrific event that dominates the page. This is top flight visual storytelling, and, aided Nick Filardi’s wonderful colours , the book has an extraordinarily tight tone and sense of place. Ed Brisson’s lettering finishes it all off with a subtlety and emphasis that gives you a sense of the rhythm of these people’s speech that, again, only adds to the atmosphere. This is a team of comic creators at the absolute top of their game and it’s a pleasure to watch them work.

Helheim issue 1 is an extremely strong, assured start to what looks to be a nasty, bloody nosed, brutal series. The set up is great, the art and script are extraordinary and issue crackles with energy, pace and violence. This is big, expressive, violent Viking fun and, as editor Charlie Chu admits in the back pages, it would look good on the side panels of a series of 1970s Dodge vans. Luckily, we get to read it in one place instead. Make sure you do, otherwise the night creatures will find you…

Alasdair Stuart




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