Damage #1 (DC Comics)
The first “New Age of DC Heroes” book has hit, and I mean that very literally. There’s been a lot of fuss that the “New Age” books are incorporating Marvel archetypes into the DCU, but this book quickly disproves that. Yes, there are some similarities to the Hulk, but outside of the superstrong brute on the run, the concepts are vastly different.
Ethan Avery is a soldier who has been given the ability (gift? curse?) to transform into a walking WMD for 1 hour every 24 hours. He escapes custody and wrecks havoc in downtown Atlanta. This leads to a government intervention- Task Force XL (yes, a super-sized Suicide Squad!).
Robert Venditti takes a step back for this story. He doesn’t go deep into an origin or exposition. He jumps in en media res, and lets his artistic collaborators shine. This is definitely to the book’s benefit, as it creates a thrilling start to the story. Knowing Venditti this means that some character building is coming the next few issues, especially with several threads and characters he teases. I’m definitely looking forward to the next few issues.
However, this issue is Tony Daniel, Danny Miki and Tomeu Morey’s to shine. The art team lets loose like their lead character. Damage himself is an imposing figure on the page, and they make it clear his literal and figurative impact on the city. The action is great. Morey’s colors in particular is a big part of it. They help Daniel and Miki’s action really pop off the page.
Tom Napolitano deserves a mention for his letters too. He does some great sound effects, and uses different shaped word balloons and colored fonts to emphasize the action.
If you were on the fence, check this book out. It’s a fun action book, and I hope it keeps that pace up.
Rating: 7 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy
GI Joe: A Real American Hero #247 (IDW Publishing)
GI Joe is where I got my start in comics, around issue #120 of the original Marvel series. It’s a universe that I’ve always loved. Seeing Larry Hama still playing in the sandbox he mostly created is a lot of fun and warms my inner child.
Dawn Moreno is a young woman who was an up and coming Cobra soldier. However, she was accidentally given the memories of the original Joe badass Snake-Eye, and now is battling that second personality while trying to escape nefarious forces. Meanwhile, the Joes are running a mission to capture several high profile targets. The two parties are set up to run right into each other before Dawn can be taken into custody.
Hama still knows how to tell a great action story. Dawn is perpetually in motion, and is clearly a force to be reckoned with. The only place the story lets up is a mid-issue history lesson that kind of draw the momentum to a halt. It is a little dense too. If I wasn’t an old GI Joe fan, I would have been pretty lost by some dense continuity.
Netho Diaz and Thiago Gomes’s work on the line art is sharp. Even when things are slowing down, they keep up a sense of motion and tension. The action scenes are great, and they also do some really fun work with facial expressions. The art does fall down a little bit with the colors by Milen Parvanov, who uses a much more muted palate than the story really needs.
It’s not a perfect story, but it’s a lot of fun for an old GI Joe fan like me.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy if a GI Joe fan, especially if you’re a lapsed fan. Pass if not.
Evolution #3 (Image Comics/Skybound)
I missed the first couple issues of this series, but I’ve heard some great things. I definitely didn’t want to fall too far behind, so why not jump in here?
The story follows three or four different paths, as the main characters battle strange circumstances happening all around them. Underneath it all is an unsettling undercurrent of something grotesque and terrifying about to explode.
It’s a difficult issue to summarize because so much is going on. It’s a uniquely structured book, with James Asmus, Christopher Sebela, Joe Keatinge, and Josh Williamson all writing. They blend together in a good way, but it helps this story feel like the first act of an Irwin Allen style disaster movie.
Joe Infurnari is a major star here. His art makes this whole set-up incredibly tense. I don’t think the building terror would be nearly as effective without his work. His creature work in particular (even though it’s just glances and moments) is a major highlight.
I know I’m going to go back and track down the first two issues after this.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy.
Wonder Woman #38 (DC Comics)
One of my 2018 New Year’s Resolutions is to read more Wonder Woman. That’s an easy one right? I mean she’s pretty great, so this will be an enjoyable resolution!
Before I get into the content of the issue, I’m just going to gush about that cover by Paul Renaud. The guy has been one of Marvel’s go-to artists for years, but after that cover, I would love to see him on Wonder Woman, maybe switching off arcs with this issue’s fabulous interior penciller, Emanuela Lupacchino.
This issue brings a couple of Diana’s most famous foes back into continuity, most notably Silver Swan. The story is actually told from Vanessa Kapatelis’s perspective, as she evolves from an injured young woman, to Diana’s friend, to a supervillain. Along the way, James Robinson also plants seeds that a few of Wonder Woman’s more famous rogues are involved as well.
Robinson does a fantastic job getting into Vanessa’s head from the time she’s paralyzed in one of Wonder Woman’s battles through her recovery and her friendship with the hero. Though we’ve never met this version of Vanessa, she’s very quickly a fully realized character, not just a woman with a vendetta against Diana. Her pain and her loss is very real, but given the hints Robinson threaded in about the doctor who fixed her, it’s also twisted in a horrifying way.
Lupacchino has grown into one of the most reliable pencillers in DC’s stable. Her work here with inker Ray McCarthy is incredibly solid. It has a very familiar feel to Terry Dodson. The opening fight between Wonder Woman and Major Damage is great, but the evolution of Vanessa is superb. It’s quiet and almost entirely internal, which really makes the art shine.
It’s a very fun book, and a great character study.
Rating: 8 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy
Battlestar Galactica Vs. Battlestar Galactica #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
I really didn’t know what to expect when I stepped into this miniseries. The idea of the classic Battlestar Galactica and the reboot Battlestar coming in conflict with each other is a strange one. With Peter David- the king of making weird concepts work- helming the series though, it was worth a try.
The Battlestar Pegasus (of the original BSG) is hailed by a strange alien woman. When they arrive on the planet, she reveals herself as a member of the race who created the Cylons, and Commander Cain is incapacitated. Meanwhile, Galactica is sucked into a wormhole after a battle with a Cylon basestar and emerges in front of… Galactica.
I’m of two minds here. I’m much more familiar with the rebooted Galactica continuity, so much of the action of this issue went over my head. David, however, was able to make it relatable enough that it wasn’t a complete wash. The more enjoyable part of the issue was the later “second chapter” involving Galactica’s clash with Cylons leading to getting sucked into the reboot timeline. It left me wanting more.
Artist Johnny Desjardins does a really solid job here. The characters are always interesting, even though most of the first half of the book is very talky. His space dogfight later in the issue is a very solid, if brief, action piece.
Ultimately though, it was a good story, just not for me.
Rating: 7 out of 10
The Verdict: Pass if you’re not a BSG fan, but a fan of the property should absolutely BUY.
Avengers #675 (Marvel Comics)
There’s been a lot of fuss over this storyline, a weekly event that’s bringing about the end of three different Avengers runs by Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub. Now that it’s finally here, is it worth the fuss?
One day, the Earth is kidnapped. The entire planet has been whisked away by unknown forces to somewhere or somewhen we don’t understand for reasons we don’t yet know. This issue takes that and puts the Avengers into the middle of a disaster movie. The worldwide network of heroes scramble to save lives in the face of multiple different natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. Then suddenly various members of the team are put into some sort of stasis, and the group assembles in Avengers mansion as one of their own, the still mysterious Voyager, returns to help save the day.
The trio of writers make the exposition and speculation about the situation exciting. Some books would have done this via talking heads, but here Waid, Zub and Ewing have it happen while the USAvengers stop Mount Vesuvius from erupting, and the Unity Squad save beachgoers from a massive wave. It’s a 30 page disaster movie, and it’s a lot of fun to read.
The art team of Pepe Larraz and David Curiel takes the challenge in stride. The action is easy to follow, the characters all get a good chance to shine, and it all stays thrilling throughout. Curiel’s colors make Larraz’s line art pop and makes it distinctly real. The lava field scene with the USAvengers is a particular highlight.
It’s a fun start to this story and I hope it can keep up this momentum.
Rating: 8 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy (or subscribe if you’re an Avengers fanatic)