I&N Review: Wynter #1

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Here’s something to do on a quiet evening alone, you know, with the kids asleep and the wife snuggled up on the other end of the couch with her iPad, her face aglow with the shiny promise of Pinterest pins: pick a pair of authors and imagine a literary love affair–one that results in some form of fictional offspring, which you’d describe in great detail, of course, to yourself, of course, because the wife is still busy pinning away on her end of the couch.  Let’s try a quick, not-at-all random round: What kind of child would result from the objectively insane coupling of notorious party girl Ayn Rand and futurist Casanova Philip K. Dick?  She’d be special, that’s for sure; and she’d have a hell of a story to tell–one probably a lot like New Worlds Comics’ Wynter #1, a thought-provoking and visually stunning sci-fi spectacle from writer Guy Hasson and artist Aron Elekes.

Wynter #1

Wynter #1

Liz Wynter, the teenaged protagonist of this data-driven dystopian vision, is herself driven by a singular desire: to be an individual–to be special–in a world that is coded to corral such wayward thoughts, with the powers-that-be wielding drugs and ubiquitous technology as means to achieve their soul-crushing end.  She spends the entirety of the issue wandering the city with a Holden-esque compass, wondering where she might find that sliver of self amongst the oppressive numbers spouted out unsympathetically by the voice in her head, the aptly named Liz, a con of a conscience, a rewired superego meant to keep her in check, to keep her thinking she’s like everyone else, thus making her just like everyone else–not unlike the devices heaped upon Harrison Bergeron, the doomed hero of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story of the same name.  Hasson’s hitting familiar notes makes Liz an easy character to root for, even if she is as cold as her name implies.  See: we instinctively know that the thaw will come as the Promethean flame born of an unbridled ego burns through the layers of ice that have frozen her will; and the final reveal–timed just right–clearly provides the spark that’ll set the tinder alight.

Bringing it all together, lifting the story from the effectively familiar to the level of something special, is Elekes’ digitally painted art, which, from page one, captures the prevailing tone of shadowy dissatisfaction and, at the same time, serves up a certain sensuousness, with specially affected textures–seen specifically in the folds of Liz’s loyal red scarf–that transcend the page.  If I’m comparing–and I most assuredly am–Elekes’ figures remind of Fiona Staples’ (Saga), just with considerably more depth; and I can’t help but think of Clayton Crain’s fully-painted work on Rai, which, while unquestionably beautiful, suffers–as Wynter does–from being much too static, a shade too stiff.  Ekeles’ makes up for it, though, with his layouts, which inject some energy into the narrative, especially as he, at times, emphatically eschews traditional paneling and, by doing so, puts a premium on every page turn.

One page turn, however, left me shaking my head in disappointment.  I mean, I don’t want to make a federal case out of it, but I was immediately taken out of the story during a brief courtroom scene in which the well-rendered countenance of a celebrity judge makes an unexpected–and unwelcome–appearance.  No, really: it’s quite shocking!  I’m sure it’s meant to be silly, to bring some levity to an otherwise dour story; but considering the effectiveness of the dourness, in particular, I have to object!

What I can’t object to is what Wynter as a whole brings to the table–err, tablet: a compelling main character, who is both familiar and relatable, and a unique visual experience that isn’t too soon forgotten.  With that as my takeaway, I’m definitely down for another issue.  In fact, if I had a Pinterest account, I’d pin the damn thing, without hesitation, to a board dedicated to independent comics that happen to get it right.

And my wife, who just so happens to be under a blanket at the other end of the couch, her face very much blanched by the bright light of her iPad, is undoubtedly pinning another recipe that she’ll never bother to attempt to her “Too Foodilicious for Ya Babe” board.

Want to read Wynter #1?  Find it on Comixology here.

Visit newworldscomics.com for more information.

Turning pages,

Scott

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Superhero Friday!

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My wife and I watched The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on pay-per-view Tuesday night.  As ludicrous as some of it was, there was plenty to like, including the opening sequence, the chemistry between Peter and Gwen, and the very end–which drew a tear from this true believer.

He swings and Mrs.

He swings and Mrs.

As the much maligned movie ended, I turned to my wife and asked her what she thought about it.  Her response launched my eyebrows into the hairlineosphere: “I really liked it.  I definitely liked it more than I liked The Avengers–“

“I can see that.”

“–or the last Captain America movie.”

As of now, we’re still married.

You know, for the kids.

Who are you wearing today?

Turning pages,

Scott

What’s I&N Store (8/20)

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Looking forward to a few HUGE number ones: DC’s Multiversity, Image’s The Fade Out, and Valiant’s The Delinquents.  Also have my eye on the repriced DHP.  Plenty of other good stuff, too–including an against-the-odds purchase that might bring down the walls of my LCS!

  • Dark Horse Presents 2014 #1 (Dark Horse): I would buy Geoff Darrow and Frank Miller’s anything.  I even would’ve paid $7.99!  But the fellas at Dark Horse have decided to knock down the price of DHP with the “reboot.”  So we’re talking $4.99 for Darrow and Miller and, among other anthological amuse-bouches, David Mack’s Kabuki!  Yes, please!
Dark Horse Presents 2014 #1

Dark Horse Presents 2014 #1

  • Batman and Robin #34 (DC): Robin is still rising.  I hope he does a better job of it this time around–especially considering how awful the awfully disappointing Robin Rises: Omega was.  That’s right: sad to say, my favorite Batman book earned the ignominious distinction of being the Biggest Dis(appointment) of July.
  • The Multiversity #1 (DC): Grant Morrison is back–finally.  He’s been missed–by us and, most assuredly, by the DC powers that be.  (Marvel’s been cleaning their clocks for a while now; so it’s about time.)  His name is synonymous with quality–even if it is an awkwardly incomprehensible quality.
The Multiversity #1

The Multiversity #1

  • Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland #1 (IDW): I don’t have any experience with Little Nemo, but this looks too good to pass up.
  • The Fade Out #1 (Image): Hot on the high heels of the Fatale finale comes this new series from Brubaker and Phillips.  The description reminds of Fraction and Chaykin’s Satellite Sam–which is not a bad thing.
The Fade Out #1

The Fade Out #1

  • Stray Bullets: Killers #6 (Image): The first new Amy Racecar issue brought a little horsepower back to Lapham’s Bullets, which has been grinding its gears a bit since a high-octane first issue–which Derek gushed over here.
  • Supreme: Blue Rose #2 (Image): Re: #1: I felt kinda lost.  Figure I’ll give it another issue, you know, ’cause it’s Ellis.
  • Trees #4 (Image): #2 earned our Biggest Dis(appointment) of June.  #3 didn’t necessarily wash the taste of #2 from our mouths, but, for the quality of the conversation, it certainly changed the flavor a bit.  Just when I thought I’d be free of Trees, Ellis sucks me right back in.
  • The Wicked & The Divine #3 (Image): I thought #2 was OK–certainly better than the first one.  It didn’t make me want to call it quits, nor did it leave me inconsolable over the fact that I’d have to wait a month for #3.  Damn thing reeks of arrogance–which suits the godly gang well.  I still think the premise is kinda cool, and I’ve come to have more faith in Gillen thanks to Über; so I’m sticking around.  We’ll see what happens.  (Side note: anyone else seeing similarities between this and Azzarello’s Wonder Woman?  A quick flip through just gave me that vibe.)
The Wicked & The Divine #3

The Wicked & The Divine #3

  • Daredevil #7 (Marvel): The Original Sin tie-in was actually pretty good and included one of the best DD double-page spreads I’ve ever heard.  On to another, more about Matt’s mother–and off to Wakanda.
  • Magneto #8 (Marvel): Re: #7: not my favorite issue.  More a carried note than a new one.  Translation: the pattern that Bunn’s been following stood out more than the story itself.  Hope that doesn’t carry forward.
  • Ms. Marvel #7 (Marvel): I can’t believe I’m saying this: I didn’t care very much for #6.  My secret crush–the marvelous Kamala Khan–was insufferable!  Ugh!  How did endearingly awkward twist to annoyingly annoying so darned quickly?  And my concerns about the change in artist–well, they were well founded.  Wyatt’s work may as well have been lined with metal, too.  I’m not ready to quit Kamala, but I am, quite suddenly, anxious about our next meeting.
  • Armor Hunters: Harbinger #2 (Valiant): The first one didn’t do much for me.  Probably going to ride it out anyway.
  • Black Market #2 (BOOM!): I’ve pretty much hated everything I’ve read from Frank Barbiere–until Black Market #1.  Everything about it worked–especially the end.  Definitely looking forward to my experience with #2–maybe more so than #2 itself.  Is it possible that I’ll like another issue of a Barbiere book?
  • The Delinquents #1 (Valiant): This has the potential of being the best thing ever, you know, with Van Lente and Asmus clinking their heads together like IPA-filled pint glasses.  I couldn’t be hoppier–er, happier about this collaboration.  Add to the toast the oft-amazing Kano, who blew us away with his work on Quantum and Woody #10, and, well, I’m willing to “Wow!” before I even read it!
The Delinquents #1

The Delinquents #1

  • The Last Broadcast #4 (BOOM!/Archaia): We’ve loved the series thus far–and we’ve broadcasted it to all who’d listen.  We made #2 one of our Top 5 Books of June and #3 just missed despite its being maybe even better than #2.  (Yeah, July was a pretty stacked month.  Top 5 to come.)  Very much looking forward to this.
The Last Broadcast #4

The Last Broadcast #4

  • The Life After #2 (Oni Press): Suicide certainly is a touchy subject–made even more so with the recent loss of Robin Williams.  For some, the wound might be too fresh.  For me, however, that wound calloused over a long time ago.  A high school classmate of mine took her life during our junior year; it’s something I’ve never gotten over but have learned to live with.  Fialkov is healing with the help of some famous figures.  I’m willing to follow along.

Avery’s Pick of the Week

  • Scribblenauts Unmasked: A Crisis of Imagination #8 (DC): Avery’s embrace of #7 went viral.  OK, so it wasn’t Ebola; but it certainly infected writer Josh Elder.  Odds are good she’s gonna hug this one, too!

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

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Superhero Friday!

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Me: I am Iron Man!

Wife: Of course you are, honey.

Nobody wants me...

Nobody wants me…

 

Me: Have I lost my mind?

Wife: Well…

Me: Can I see or am I blind?

Wife: [Laughs.]  Yes.

Me: Can I walk at all–

Wife: Sometimes you–

Me: Not done.

Wife: Sorry.

Me: Or if I move will I fall?

Wife: Are we talking–if I’m playing this right–before or after your third can of “oil”?

Me: Nicely done.

Wife: Thanks.  Anything else?  It’s Avery’s bedtime.

Me: One more.  Am I alive or dead?

Wife: You’re married.

Me: I am Married Man!

Wife: For now.

 

Who are you wearing today?

Turning pages,

Scott

What’s I&N Store (8/13)

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This is not a drill: I will be buying no fewer than three Action Labs books this week.  To make room for them–and a sexy hardcover that I can’t possibly pass up–in the ol’ bag, I’m considering a couple of high-profile drops (Sex Criminals, Starlight).  Also looking forward to some reinvigorated interest (Zero) and an awkwardly-named under-the-radar book–the terrific Thomas Alsop–that’ll make your bag go BOOM!

  • Dark Ages #1 (Dark Horse): New series from prolific Brit writer Dan Abnett and artist I.N.J. Culbard.  They’re offering a take on the Dark Ages that’s a bit alien to us.  Dark Horse is offering a preview here.  I’m enjoying Culbard’s work on 2000 AD’s Brass Sun, so I figure I’ll give this one a try.
  • Astro City #14 (DC/Vertigo): With #13, Busiek and Anderson showed us a real good time: 24 hours’ worth of finely fractured Astro City action–a puzzle with the final piece placed oh so perfectly.
Astro City #14

Astro City #14

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #37 (IDW): Shredder and Krang?  How’s that going to work out?  This “stand alone” promises to provide the answer.  Standing in for Mateus Santolouco is Corey Smith, who’s been doing some solid work on Dynamite’s Magnus: Robot Fighter.
  • Sex Criminals #7 (Image): Congrats to Fraction, Zdarsky, and Image on the Eisner for Best New Series.  OK.  Enough of that.  I wasn’t overly–or underly–impressed with #6.  It felt like a conversation I could’ve had with my buddies, which is fine, you know, its playing nostalgic notes and all; but is that what I want out of a comic book?  Well, that’s pretty much what the series has been from the get-go, and, if I’m being honest, what caught my interest initially.  That interest, however, has waned, again, because, in the end, this isn’t a comic book as much as it’s, as the narrative knowingly reveals by disintegrating the fourth wall, an occasionally clever conversation that would be better suited as a blog or a podcast.  The “criminal” contrivance has been the comic book bait; but in the end, it’s the sex talk that sells, and I’m not buying it anymore.  Probably not.
  • Starlight #5 (Image): #4 was so far from the promise of #1 that I’m figuring Millar’ll never get back to it.  He’s fallen to formula, as usual, and, as a result, I’m leaning toward passing–as usual.  Sucks, too.  #1 was so damn good.
  • Zero #10 (Image): Speaking of living up to promise: Ales Kot’s back on track after delivering a very affecting #9, which worked its way to a Sophie’s Choice moment played out with a painfully pregnant page turn.  And now as I’m warming back up to Zero, it’s off to Iceland.
Zero #10

Zero #10

  • All-New X-Men #30 (Marvel): #29 was non-stop action rendered mostly in shades of Cyclops’s signature ruby red, which helped to sell a still suffering Scott Summers.  Happy to say, I’m still high on how Bendis is handling the X-ceptionally large cast of characters.  With all the time travel stuff going on, the most significant journey is the one I’m taking: Bendis and crew are reminding of what made the X-Men so good for so long–and what I, as a Claremont-reared X-reader loved about ‘em.
  • The United States of Murder Inc. #4 (Marvel): A killer series all around.  I had my doubts after the first issue; but #2 and #3 have been a double tap to the head.
  • Archer & Armstrong #23 (Valiant): Fred Van Lente is doing it his way all the way to the end, my beautiful friend, the end–of “American Wasteland.”  I wrote about #21 here, and #22 was a mighty fine follow-up that is in the running for our Top 5 of July.  Can’t wait to see how the arc plays out.  I just know I’m gonna love it madly!
Archer & Armstrong #24

Archer & Armstrong #24

  • Armor Hunters #3 (Valiant): So far, so good.  Doesn’t claim to be anything more than what it is.
  • The F1rst Hero #1 (Action Labs): On the strength of the deific Dry Spell, I’m trying any and all Action Labs books that I can find.  I don’t know the creators, but when has that ever stopped me?
  • Midnight Tiger #1 (Action Labs): Ditto.  Brings to mind Danny Fingeroth and Mike Manley’s stab at an all-new teen hero back in the early ’90s: Darkhawk.  That book ran for fifty issues.  How many will DeWayne Feenstra and Ray-Anthony Height end up with?
  • Southern Dog #1 (Action Labs/Danger Zone): Double ditto.  Expected: immediately calls to mind Southern Bastards and, of all things, Ms. Marvel.  Comparisons are inevitable.  Most interesting of the three Action Labs titles–even if, in the end, it’s a werewolf book.  The last werebook I read–which just so happened to have Riley Rossmo on it–was the underwhelming Cursed (BOOM!).
Southern Dog #1

Southern Dog #1

  • The Devilers #2 (Dynamite): #1 wasn’t bad.  I’m willing to go another round.
  • Thomas Alsop #3 (BOOM!): Thomas Alsop.  The name doesn’t really ring, but don’t let that fool you: this book is friggin’ great.  In fact, we’re calling #2 one of our Top 5 Books of July.  One of these days, we’ll get around to the write up.  Until then, be sure to pick this up–if only to see how well Chris Miskiewicz and Palle Schmidt balance the present and the past.
Thomas Alsop #3

Thomas Alsop #3

  • The Heart of the Beast HC (Dynamite): The team of Judith Dupré (author of Skyscrapers, an award-winning book about, well, skyscrapers, don’t ya know!), Dean Motter (creator of the Innie Award-winning Mister X: Eviction), and Sean Phillips (artist of Brubaker-ian proportions; see: Fatale, Criminal, Incognito, and the soon-to-be-released The Fade Out.) make this book–celebrating its 20th Anniversary–a Must Buy.

Avery’s Picks of the Week:

  • Littlest Pet Shop #4 (IDW): The littlest pets are big on fun!
  • Doodle Jump #3 (Dynamite): My daughter’s been known to drop everything only to exclaim, “I’m a ninja!”  She’s also kind of obsessed with American Ninja Warrior.  She creates her own obstacles and attacks them, only to jump off into the “water,” which, of course, is a win.  I love my little ninja!
Doodle Jump #3

Doodle Jump #3

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

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Superhero Friday!

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Found this Bat-gem in the attic:

Gettin' my Keat-on.

Gettin’ my Keat-on.

Saw Burton’s Batman Returns in London back in the summer of ’92.

Ah, memories: The theater was packed and, in the enduring spirit of American independence, I was the one person in the place who laughed out loud when Max Schreck lays out to Oswald certain “unlimited” benefits to being mayor.

I’ve long wondered who was exposed in that moment: the Brits or me.

It certainly might explain my failed run for mayor back in ’93.

Who are you wearing today?

Turning pages,

Scott

 

 

 

What’s I&N Store (8/6)

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Lots to look forward to this week.

  • The Squidder #2 (IDW): Squids are in the air, and I’d definitely like to draw another breath of ‘em as drawn by Ben Templesmith.  The story is familiar, sure, but it’s delivered well enough.
  • Alex + Ada #8 (Image): The series has been a solid read with clean images and fluid artistic transitions that speak as loudly as the words.  It’s an against the odds love story with a dark cloud hanging over it.  Waiting on the storm and worrying about Alex and Ada all along.
Alex + Ada #7

Alex + Ada #7

  • Clone #19 (Image): Continues to be one of the most kinetic comics on the shelf.  Yeah, this book cooks!  #18 offered a couple of Chubby twists that promise a checkered future for all involved.  (Sorry about that.)
  • Lazarus #10 (Image): Re: #15: Circumstances conspire and both Michael and Casey end up in the employ of the Carlyles.  Was there ever any other end?  Nah.  But Innie Award nominee (Best Writer) Greg Rucka and Michael Lark get there so well.  Yet another exercise in excellent storytelling.  Our #7 book of 2013 is well on its way to claiming a spot in the Top Ten of 2014.
Lazarus #10

Lazarus #10

  • Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #5 (Marvel): Re: #5: Some of the best bedroom action I’ve seen in some time.  Talk about getting laid…out.  Yeah, Kaare Andrews pricks up the pace with some passionate paneling–and one of my favorite splash pages, like, ever!  Never has a bottom lip been bitten so beautifully–in a comic book, anyway.  Go Brenda!  Love her line, “Show me some Kung-Fu.”  Throw in an iron fist-full of father-son issues and you’ve got yourself one hell of a book.  If you’re not reading this yet, you should punch yourself in the face.
  • Miracleman #9 (Marvel): Been stockpiling my Miracleman.  Gonna hafta get on that soon–or it might take a miracle to catch up.
  • Moon Knight #6 (Marvel): Warren Ellis may have earned our Biggest Dis(appointment) of June, but it certainly wasn’t for Moon Knight.  He and Declan Shalvey have been producing some excellent vignettes with the multifaceted Marc Spector.  This, sadly, is their last go ’round before giving up creative control to the talented team of Brian Wood (The Massive) and Greg Smallwood (Dream Thief).
Moon Knight #6

Moon Knight #6

  • Original Sin #5.3 (Marvel): Ack!  I missed #5.2.  Forgot I was buying an Original Sin book, you know, because of Loki.  I mean, why else would I be buying an Original Sin book?
  • Rocket Raccoon #2 (Marvel): Ain’t gonna lie: #1 was fun.  Will probably pass, though, despite what Skottie Young is bringing to the prickly procyonid–unless, of course, I don’t pass, which is far more likely.  Ugh!  I have no self control!
  • The Bunker #5 (Oni Press): I liked #4 a lot.  Thought the dialogue and the emotions were very real.  Overall, Fialkov and Infurnari are telling a terrific story with perfect timing.
The Bunker #5

The Bunker #5

Dry Spell #2

Dry Spell #2

  • The Extinction Parade: War #2 (Avatar): I’ve enjoyed The Extinction Parade saga a lot more than I thought I would.  (It’s true: I originally started picking it up for my wife–who hasn’t touched it.)  Yes, it’s been “bottomless slaughter,” but it hasn’t been mindless slaughter.  Max Brooks is offering an elevated apocalyptic experience, amplified by undeadly detailed artwork from Raulo Caceres.
  • God Is Dead: The Book of Acts Alpha (Avatar): Si Spurrier–the 2014 Innie Award Winner for Best Writer (Six-Gun Gorilla, Numbercruncher)–brings a little life to God Is Dead with the immortal Alan Moore.  You read that right: Spurrier and Moore.  Safe to say it’s a must buy.
God Is Dead: The Book of Acts Alpha

God Is Dead: The Book of Acts Alpha

  • Harbinger: Omegas #1 (Valiant): Not too sure why this couldn’t have just been Harbinger #26.  Is it rebootalism?  Guess it really doesn’t matter.  Dysart’s been telling a good story with these characters.  They certainly deserve to live on–whatever the title.
  • SIP (Strangers in Paradise) Kids #1 (Abstract Studio): Oh, why not?  Yeah, Rachel Rising has lost a lot of its shine.  But here’s Terry Moore having fun with the characters for whom he’s best known–by turning them into six-year-olds.
  • The Sixth Gun: Days of the Dead #1 (Oni Press): Anything The Sixth Gun is going to find its way into my bag.
  • Terminal Hero #1 (Dynamite): Peter Milligan had a nice run on Valiant’s Shadowman.  I’ll try him out here, where he’s teamed up with Sex‘s Piotr Kowalski.
  • Über #16 (Avatar): Über‘s riding quite a high.  Heck, I was close to dropping it around the time the Special came out.  Since then, however, it’s been terrific.  I’d go as far to say it’s Gillen’s best current work–including the wildly hyped The Wicked & The Divine.
Über #16

Über #16

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

Top 5(ish) Books of June

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Here’s a little secret: we, the mighty gate-keepers here at I&N, don’t always agree on who makes the cut on our monthly purview of comics excellence. But, through a complex process of behind-the-scenes negotiation, diplomacy, arm-twisting and, if need be, feats of manliness, we have always been able to whittle down the monthly title wave to our hallowed Top 5. That is, until now. And so, recklessly abandoning all sense of tradition and decorum, we present for the first time: our Top 6 Books of the Month.

#5 (tie). Mind MGMT #23 (Dark Horse): Matt Kindt–winner of the 2014 Innie for Best Artist–delivers a real punch to the gut with this well composed hit-single issue, which sees the Dusty-deadicated side notes harmonizing heroically with the cacophony of the nihilistic narrative–with the darkness Dusty so deeply despised and hoped to one day change with his music.  With the in memoriam to Dusty as the lead vocal of the book, Kindt further develops the memory motif by making the Eraser play “memory games” with an incredulous Meru, using blacked out panels to indicate the missing moments; and by putting petal to the metal in a series of flowering flashbacks featuring Bill and Meru that fan out to form a stunning centerpiece for this death-marred installment and ultimately fall from the stem, foreshadowing poor Bill’s demise and Meru’s heartbreak.  In the end, Kindt cleverly ties the margin matter to the story proper by having Meru’s falling tears look just like the music rising from the headphones that are taken from Dusty’s dead body.  That alone would’ve been enough to tattoo this issue on our Top 5!   But as a final note–or a last grain of hourglass sand–Kindt calls upon the aforementioned memory motif one last time and offers up an intimate Mad Magazine fold-in that’ll rattle around in your skull well after reading. (SC)

Mind MGMT #23

#5 (tie). The Massive #24 (Dark Horse): As Brian Wood’s near-future socioeconomic/environmental dystopia comes to a head, the enigmatic Mary stands revealed as the lynchpin. Some kind of goddess-figure, Mary’s been witness to centuries of manmade degradation of every kind: against nature, against each other, against our own history (part of the brilliance of Wood’s argument is that, throughout the series, he’s presented these as one and the same). Well now she sits in judgement, speaking in biblical terms that portend even greater disaster (or, perhaps, wrath). Even more damning, she stares out directly at the reader as she does so (indelibly rendered, as is the entire arc, by Danijel Zezelj and Jordie Bellaire). If this seems a bit heavy-handed, this particular sequence, all of two pages, stands in stark relief to twenty-three previous issues of breathtaking, world-spanning incident remarkable for the sheer depth of knowledge displayed, as well as their understated, plot-driven delivery. It also thrusts us headlong into the mysteries to be revealed in the final arc, and adds one more: could Mary have played a role in The Crash, the event that laid the world low to begin with? And, having found mankind wanting, is the worst yet to come? (DM)

The Massive #24

The Massive #24

#4. The Last Broadcast #2 (Archaia): Great magicians never reveal their secrets; and those secrets, for the compulsively curious, inevitably become the seeds of great mysteries.  Writer André Sirangelo and artist Gabriel Iumazark plant plenty of seductive seeds here in the second installment of The Last Broadcast, which puts our main man Ivan–himself a magician–on a crooked path of discovery.  His frantic search for his pal Dmitri is an off-kilter crusade–one amplified by Iumazark’s irregular panel pattern that keeps us likewise off balance as we move from page to page–that finds him courting odd characters, including an enigmatic bookshop owner and an eye-biting barfly who pleasingly smack of Polanski stock, and that leads him to a couple of urban explorers–the Backbone of the story–who themselves are missing a mate.  (I, too, am compulsively curious, and I wonder: Could Dmitri and Damon be one in the same?)  Making the story–and the story to come–even more exciting is the prospect of a very-much-alive Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s having a hand in scripting the outcome.  Believe your eyes, folks: this magic–The Last Broadcast–is for real. (SC)

The Last Broadcast #2

The Last Broadcast #2

#3. Ordinary #2 (Titan): A determined father intrepidly braves a gauntlet of nefarious characters and death-defying situations with only one thought on his mind: to find his son! This may sound like the latest Liam Neeson revenge flick, until you realize that a) the determined father is Michael, a balding, bespectacled schlub with a dead-end job; b) the nefarious characters are everyone else on the planet, who have suddenly and inexplicably been granted ridiculous super powers; and c) the death-defying situations include show-stopping Broadway musical numbers (especially frightening that). Rob Williams and D’Israeli serve up thrill-ride absurdity that at once takes the gas out of the sort of adolescent power fantasies that so many comics fans (many of whom bear more than a passing resemblance to Michael) still faithfully devour, while also slyly celebrating them. After all, if the biggest loser in the world can overcome odds like this, there’s hope for everyone. (DM)

Ordinary #2

Ordinary #2

#2. Archer & Armstrong #21 (Valiant): Our fascination with celebrities in many ways defines us as a culture.  Funny enough, our fascination with dead celebrities even more so.  Fred Van Lente knows that, and he’s clearly having a blast bringing back some long–and some freshly–dead famous folks for his satirical tour de farce “American Wasteland.”  Artist Pere Pérez brings the late lot to life around Archer and Armstrong, kicking off a game of “How many dead celebs can you name?”; and it’s a game where we’re all winners for playing along.  I was slayed by the inclusion of Jeff Hanneman and then was all “Already?” upon seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman.  The next three page turns may very well be as unforgettable as the featured figures themselves: first, it’s a father and child reunion as Bruce and Brandon Lee attack our heroes in a sole-touching moment!  (Do they win?  Of course they Jeet Kune Don’t–thanks to Archer’s, umm, stun ram.)  And, after meeting a distraught Jackie Kennedy, who isn’t long for even this world (I was like, “No he di’int!”), A & A come across more Oswalds than you can shake a Zapruder film at!  Throw in some East and West disorderly action with phat boys Biggie and Tupac, and you’ve got yourself a book where a clever contrivance becomes more the thing than the story itself–well, initially, anyway.  Because after the excitement of recognition and the well-earned laughter fall to necessary contemplation, there’s Van Lente himself laughing, “Gotcha.” (SC)

Archer & Armstrong #21

Archer & Armstrong #21

#1. Silver Surfer #3 (Marvel): There was a recent internet controversy which involved, among other things, the notion that certain aspects of super heroes were just too “goofy” and needed to be jettisoned in order for today’s audiences to take the characters seriously. The thinking behind this seems to be that the colorful, larger-than-life paragons of heroism that have populated comics since their inception need to be brought back down to earth, their vibrancy toned down to reflect our own muddled reality. One could make the case  that this view, in its cynicism, utterly misses the point of what super heroes are supposed to be. But why do that when you could just read Silver Surfer by Dan Slott and Michael and Laura Allred instead? It makes the case better than any argument ever could.

The current issue is particularly apt, as it deals with a cosmic struggle not so much of good versus evil, but of reality versus possibility. In it, a double-talking alien named the Incredulous Zed seeks to strike down an entity known as the Never Queen to ensure that the future will only ever have one possible outcome. Standing against him are the Silver Surfer and his new partner Dawn Greenwood, an especially winning creation, who runs a nice bed-and-breakfast in Anchor Bay, Mass. Slott’s wild, expansive approach to story is matched by Allred’s art, which, as always, is teeming with fantastic weirdness. There are monkey toys and stolen hearts. Space freaks and childhood memories. True love and The Three Stooges. And in Slott’s and Allred’s vision these live comfortably side-by-side. They suggest, in the sheer vitality of their storytelling, that one need not discard absurdity in the pursuit of profundity. Rather, whatever it is that is profound in these types of stories, whatever is truly wonderful, is inextricably tied to the fact that they’re so damn much FUN. (DM)

Silver Surfer #3

Silver Surfer #3

The Biggest Dis(appointment): Trees #2 (Image) – It has been a storytelling trope the last twenty years or so to juggle multiple, seemingly disparate narratives within an overall framework, and then slowly draw the separate strands together so that they all collide by the end, revealing a larger picture. It is perhaps perfectly legitimate in today’s hyper-connected world to seek meaning in the seemingly infinite byways that cyberspace allows, especially as it has simultaneously caused the world to get ever smaller. This narrative approach, depending on how it’s handled, can be insightful and profound or obtuse and annoying (Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life [no relation] for example, falls into either one or the other categories depending on your point of view). But it works best when the individual stories are compelling (as in say, Pulp Fiction). Unfortunately Trees manages to be both obtuse and uninteresting. Warren Ellis’ story, involving a bunch of giant alien trees that suddenly appear on earth (nicely rendered by Jason Howard), apparently indifferent to human activity, unwittingly provides an apt metaphor for the experience of reading it. When the various narratives are as soporific as those presented, one can’t blame the title characters for ignoring them. The back inside cover, presumably reinforcing the trees ambivalence, ends the issue with the sentence  “It doesn’t care.

Neither do I. (DM)

Trees #2

Trees #2

 

Turning pages,

Derek & Scott

What’s I&N Store (7/30)

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A big week, top-heavy with top books.

Also, lots of lasts.  Some creeping ever closer.

  • The Massive #25 (Dark Horse): Since February, The Massive has been an I&N monthly Top 5 Book.  That’s a record five months in a row!  On the strength of that, I think it’s safe to say that Brian Wood’s book is headed for the Top Ten of 2014.  For the most part, “Sahara” delivered its powerful feminist message in the understated manner–Women! Water!  Life!–we’ve come to expect from Wood.  (If I’m being fair, Part Three felt a bit preachy at times, but not to the detriment of the issue or of the arc.)  The final arc–with its promise of Massive answers–begins here.
The Massive #25

The Massive #25

Mind MGMT #24

Mind MGMT #24

  • Star Wars: Rebel Heist #4 (Dark Horse): The series has been fun and feels plenty authentic.  Now, it’s Luke’s turn!
  • Veil #4 (Dark Horse): Has been somewhat disappointing–the last issue, in particular.  I’m not caring too much about the femme ratale.  There’s something all too familiar about her.  Fejzula’s art’s been good, though.  I’m riding it out because it’s a fiver.
  • Bodies #1 (DC/Vertigo): Seems super ambitious: Writer Si Spencer employs four artists (Dean Ormston, Phil Winslade, Meghan Hetrick, and Tula Lotay) as he ties together four time-spanning storylines–in each issue!  I’m definitely going to try it out.
  • Sandman: Overture #3 (DC/Vertigo): Going to have to pull #2 to get reacclimated.  (I bet you’re going to do the same.)  Have missed me some J.H. Williams.
Sandman: Overture #3

Sandman: Overture #3

  • The Wake #10 (DC/Vertigo): Inexplicably, The Wake was nominated for and, yes, won the 2014 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.  (Check out the 2014 Innie noms for Best Limited Series and the big winner to see where we’re coming from.)  It ends here.
  • East of West #14 (Image): Has been North of Excellent.  Hickman and Dragotta certainly took their time building a big world–which is Hickman’s bag, ain’t it?; oh, but they’ve been hitting big–no, really big notes of late.  (#12, in particular, was ridiculously good.)  A dark robot horse for my personal pick for the Top Ten of 2014.
  • Fatale #24 (Image): Lots of love for the poetic penultimate issue.  I thought it was spectacular, really–visually (different for Phillips on Fatale that’s for sure) and in terms of revelations.  Brubaker went Big Bang, man.  As I’m remembering, I’m still kinda affected by the whole thing with Josephine’s son.  Creepy as hell, but, in the end, necessary, no?  Speaking of the end: this is the femme finale–and I have no doubt: “It’s going to hurt.”  Yeah, it’s going to be tough to say goodbye to one of our favorite books.
Fatale #24

Fatale #24

  • Low #1 (Image): I couldn’t be any lower on a creator than I am on Remender.  Why would I do this to myself??
  • The Manhattan Projects #22 (Image): Re: #21: Space Dog ain’t no Pizza Dog–the Eisner-winning Pizza Dog, mind you; but Laika’s adventure nevertheless exceeded expectations.  Doggonit!  I always look forward to TMP.
  • Outcast #2 (Image): “Demons are the new zombies,” eh?  The first issue was a decent set up.  It’s no Thomas Alsop, that’s for sure; but I’ll give it a few, you know, to see where it goes.  (If you’re not reading Thomas Alsop from BOOM! yet, get on that.  You won’t be disappointed.)
  • Hawkeye #19 (Marvel): Listen up!  Apparently, it’s taken Aja a long time to master the art of sign language for this issue.  That’s right: try to remember–or I’ll remind: Clint’s gone deaf.  So…
Hawkeye #19

Hawkeye #19

  • Uncanny X-Men #24 (Marvel): I missed the last issue.  As a result, I have no idea what secrets Xavier’s will revealed.  Now that’s a sin!
  • Armor Hunters: Harbinger #1 (Valiant): Harbinger is dead.  Short live Armor Hunters: Harbinger!  Don’t you just love crossovers?
  • Brass Sun #3 (2000 AD): I have the first two.  Haven’t read ‘em yet.
  • Caliban #5 (Avatar): Ennis is delivering dread at a measured pace that’s perfectly sci-fine.  Never before has an apology been so terrifying.
Caliban #5

Caliban #5

  • Day Men #4 (BOOM!): Hmm.  I’m pretty sure I told myself that #3 wasn’t worth the wait and that I should just let it go.  But that was so long ago.  Maybe I’m misremembering.  We’ll see.
  • Doc Savage #8 (Dynamite): Another final issue.  Kinda glad, if I’m being honest.
  • Evil Empire #3 (BOOM!): Another book that’s been a long time coming.  I vaguely remember that I liked #2 enough to continue.  No doubt about this, however: another great cover from Jay Shaw:
Evil Empire #3

Evil Empire #3

  • X-O Manowar #27 (Valiant): More with the Armor Hunters.  I’m diggin’ ‘em, so that’s good news.
  • Snowpiercer GN (Titan): Watched the movie two weeks back.  Good stuff.  If I see it, I’ll definitely flip through it.

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

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