Crosswind #4

Crosswind #4 (Image Comics)

I honestly missed issues #2 and #3 of Gail Simone and Cat Staggs’ body-swapping series. Picking up this issue though, I didn’t feel like I missed a beat, and that’s a testament to the creators’ skill!

Juniper and Cason are still adjusting to being in each other’s bodies and lives. Meanwhile, threats are building in Cason’s life that could pull the two back together sooner than they think.

While the story could be written as slapstick or a comedy of errors, Simone mostly plays it straight. Yes, Juniper has to deal with an erection, and Cason needs to figure out how to deal with make-up, but the obvious jokes are hit, then moved to a more realistic place. This isn’t Freaky Friday, and Simone moves past the obvious stuff to really elevate the story. The tension is great too. The looming threat of Cruz is genuinely scary, and when he finally makes a move, it’s a gasp-worthy moment.

Without Staggs though, it wouldn’t be nearly as good. Cat sells every moment, from a brutal murder in the first five pages, to the panic in Juniper’s body language, and the growing confidence in Cason’s. She’s also still able to portray motion and movement so much better than so many photo-realistic artists.

Another great chapter in what’s shaping up to be an amazing story.

Rating: 8 out of 10

The Verdict: Subscribe

 

DuckTales #1

DuckTales #1 (IDW Publishing)

With the relaunch of Disney’s classic animated series, a comic tie-in was inevitable. Joe Carmagna teams with Luca Usai and Gianfranco Florio in this #1 issue to tell two stories set just before the premiere of the rebooted series.

In the first story, Donald Duck gets a job as the keeper of a lighthouse in a desert town (it makes sense in context) while his nephews yearn for adventure. Things go a bit crazy. In the second story, Donald gets a job as a product tester for an engineering lab while his nephews yearn for adventure. Things go a bit crazy.

While the issue is a lot of fun, those synopses reveal the problem with the issue. Both stories were very similar. Donald starts new job. Nephews are restless. Nephews get into trouble. Things work out. They’re very formulaic, and the overall issue suffers for it. The other fault here is a lack of Scrooge McDuck. It’s glaring that Uncle Scrooge is missing from the pages when the issue features him in all but one of the various covers. That may an editorial decision, but frankly, it sets expectations, and then disappoints.

Like I said though, for what they are, they’re fun stories. Carmagna tells a fun story, and the art teams make it look great. It’s a fun all-ages book, especially for a young Disney fan, but it’s not a great DuckTales issue.

Rating: 6 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy for the Disney fan in your life, especially one excited for the new series

 

Killer Instinct #1

Killer Instinct #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)

It’s been so long since I played Killer Instinct, I genuinely thought it was the fighting game with dinosaurs and apes at first. After a quick Google search, I was reminded of the concept and able to dig into this first issue from Ian Edginton, Cam Adams and Jorge Sutil.

Set about two months after the war with Lord Gargos, the world is a ruin and getting worse. A group of survivors in Seattle battle the cold and dwindling food, but when a group of raiders show up, they are saved by a duo of supernatural beings. After having their help rejected the duo- kung fu warrior Kim and dragon spirit Yeo- head back into the cold, where they’re attacked by actual monsters.

This was an odd issue. On one hand, Edginton takes the post-game story setting and makes it something very interesting. It actually kind of feels like a Vertigo or Image book, with the post-Apocalypse and all. However, when Kim appears, suddenly it gets kind of ridiculous. The dialogue becomes cliched, and the story becomes overly melodramatic. It’s an unfortunate shift, especially from a writer as talent as Edginton.

Adams linework is solid, if not fantastic. There’s a few places where he skimps on the details, but those scenes are fairly close shots not large crowd scenes. When Kim begins fighting monsters, all of the monsters except the female vampire become fuzzy and loose. The action is solid and fun though. Sutil’s color art elevates the line art though, with some great effects and a well-done palate of blues and greys to accompany the dystopian apocalypse.

A decent attempt, but unfortunately it falls apart.

Rating: 5 out of 10

The Verdict: Pass

 

Suicide Squad #26

Suicide Squad #26 (DC Comics)

There are two meanings behind “the issue ended too quickly.” One’s a negative. There’s too little story, it’s padded out, and is simple filler. The second is that it worked really well, was fun, engaging, and you were left wanting more, right now. Suicide Squad #26 is the latter.

Rob Williams and Stjepan Sejic continue the Gotham Resistance crossover, focusing this issue on Harley Quinn. Honestly, I missed last issue in the crossover- the Nightwing chapter- so I’m not sure if the opening is a cliffhanger from that issue or not, but Nightwing, Harley, Killer Croc, Robin and Green Arrow riding a Mad Max-style school bus while being attacked by Man-Bats is just a taste of the fun insanity of the issue. The group fight past the Man-Bats only to be attacked by Poison Ivy, and then evil version of their teammates from the Titans and the Squad.

Williams just pushes the pedal on the crazy, filling the issue with warped reality and fun action. It’s not just a load of craziness though, as he does the smart thing and has Harley narrate it. Though her brand of crazy comes through, it adds a lot of humanity. Plus you know if Harley is bothered by it, it truly is crazy.

Sejic just cuts loose on the art. Whether it’s the heroes and their strange new fantasy/post-apocalyptic designs, the corrupted heroes, or just the wonderful detail of everything happening around the protagonists, it looks simply amazing.

It’s just an absolute blast, and worth your money.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy

 

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #23

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #23 (Marvel Comics)

Brandon Montclare and Natacha Bustos bring one chapter of their sci-fi epic to a close in this latest chapter.

After saying her goodbyes to Illa and Ego, Moon Girl makes a last ditch attempt to get Devil Dinosaur home, knowing it’ll likely be a one-way trip. Lunella then has to deal with pushing him away before she’s able to change her mind.

This issue suffers from the same problem as Suicide Squad. There’s so much “great” here that the ending comes too soon. In such a short space, Montclare is able to convey the sorrow Lunella is grappling with. Bustos is a nearly perfect partner in this. To be able to not just convey emotion out of a person, but also a living moon, a living planet, a caveman and a T-Rex, is a skill that most artists don’t have. It’s wonderfully done. Tamra Bonvillain’s bright palate adds a lot to the issue, helping it feel more like a children’s book than a comic, in a good way!

Rating: 8 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy

 

Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #8

Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #8 (Marvel Comics)

To say that this series had an uphill battle with me is putting it lightly. I was one of the long-time Spider-Man fans who felt that Ben Reilly wasn’t given a fair shake, and deserved a second chance. I also felt that the Clone Conspiracy was not the way to do it. But as I’ve said before, if anyone could rehabilitate a potentially toxic character, it’s Peter David. Now, 8 months in, I think he’s done it.

The issue picks up with Ben in the post-Secret Empire ruins of Las Vegas. He’s still a little bit of a jerk, but he’s pushed back towards redemption. A big part of that is the set-up he’s now in. With Vegas rebuilding after the Secret Empire Hydra attack, Ben is doing good, helping the survivors as Scarlet Spider as well as his primary focus on Abbie Mercury as “Peter.”

David has finally made Ben sympathetic again. He still has a ways to go towards redemption, but now it feels like he deserves it. His genuine connection to Abbie does a lot of that. It doesn’t feel like he’s trying to save her to save his own butt. He’s trying because he cares for her.

New series artist Wil Sliney jumps into the series with both feet. He’s been drawing Spider-Man 2099 for several years, so he’s no stranger to spider-action (and uses those skills to great effect when the story’s antagonist shows up). He’s also able to convey emotion wonderfully. A lot of Ben’s feelings towards Abbie are more sold by the art than the script, and Kaine’s brief appearance nails the determination still present in the former assassin’s mission.

It’s worth picking up for any Spider-fan, and damn close to finally getting a subscribe checkmark from me.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy

 

 

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