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JLA/Doom Patrol Special #1 (DC Comics)

There’s a lot of anticipation for this mini event. I don’t think the surreal Morrison-style Doom Patrol’s corner of the DCU has ever really connected with the rest of the universe. However, Steve Orlando, Gerard Way and Aco bring them together in this wonderfully weird story.

The DC universe has been altered by Retconn. In place of the familiar universe we know, we find a saccarine sweet, homogenized Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. The Doom Patrol steps into this knowing it’s wrong and determined to fix it. They’re able to fight off the Justice League long enough to break them of the illusion, all created by mind-altering “milk.” The two teams then join forces to save the universe.

Orlando and Way’s story was engaging in an unexpected way. By starting en media res, they knocked the readers back on the heels for the first part of the story. The weird ramps up and twists until it becomes clear what is happening. It’s also very funny. Jokes such as Carl Lobo, community watch, or the Community League of Rhode Island are great gags.

Aco’s art totally sells it as well. He settles on a style halfway in between a standard superhero book and Vertigo-style indie sensibilities. He uses some great camera angles and layouts to add to the unsettling weirdness. Tamra Bonvillain and Marissa Louise’s colors work to that benefit. They color the altered world in pastels, with the Doom Patrol adding actual bright color.

I wasn’t totally sure what I’d be getting, I’m glad I tried it out.

Rating: 8 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy

 

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Marvel Two-In-One #2 (Marvel Comics)

It’s been way too long since Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm had a spotlight in the Marvel universe. It’s why I was excited for this title. Two issues in, Chip Zdarsky and Jim Cheung have accomplished that goal and more.

Ben and Johnny are trying to find the “multisect” a device that can be used to travel between universes. Ben has lied and said that Reed left it to find them in the multi-verse, when he really just wanted to duo to keep exploring, which is tearing him apart inside. In the middle of that internal struggle, they travel to Monster Island, site of their first “adventure.” They end up in a battle with Mole Man, Googam and Doctor Doom, until they realize the multisect isn’t there… and Ben realizes that Reed was referencing a different adventure.

I’ve enjoyed Zdarsky’s Marvel work for the past couple of years. His funny streak is a great fit for the company. His short-lived Star-Lord series was great, and his Spectacular Spider-Man is perfect. What caught me off guard in this issue is how deeply emotional it was. Ben’s issue-opening heart-to-heart with Alicia Masters was incredibly authentic, despite the remarkably fantastic roots of what’s happening. The anecdote shared at the end of the issue was equally sweet and deep.

Jim Chueng, with John Dell and Walden Wong working with him on inks, is one of Marvel’s go-to creators for a reason. He draws the fantastic so well, but he does some wonderful character acting as well. Frank Martin’s work on the colors also sells a lot of the fantasy elements of the story as well.

This is a must-own for a Fantastic Four fan.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

The Verdict: Subscribe

 

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Harley Quinn #36 (DC Comics)

Frankly, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner’s run on Harley wasn’t for me. “Zany” is a genre that I struggle with. For the same reason, I’m not the biggest Deadpool fan. Frank Tieri is a talent I’ve loved for a long time, so I definitely wanted to give his run a try.

Harley has been transformed into a Man-Bat and is tearing Coney Island apart. The Gang of Harleys are trying to stop her, while her other friends are trying to help.

It’s a pretty simple plot, but Tieri uses it to solid effect to get his regular run started. It’s a statement and set up story, but instead of pages of talking heads, Tieri wisely uses action to accomplish what he needs to. Though Harley as herself isn’t in the issue much, he establishes the supporting cast wonderfully. The statement here is essentially that he’s injecting more crime and action into the funny book.

Inaki Miranda does a great job with the art. He pulls off the action with a lot of skill, but adds a lot of human. The first page to include the Gang was incredibly funny, pulling off the gag perfectly. The Man-Bat is very menacing as well.

If you’re looking for a solid continuation with an evolution of the book, you’ve come to the right place. It may not win new fans, but it’ll make existing fans very happy.

Rating: 7 out of 10

The Verdict: If you’re a Harley fan, absolutely subscribe. If you’re on the fence, buy it and try it out.

 

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Hack/Slash: Resurrection #4 (Image Comics)

This Image comics revival continues, in a smart horror thriller.

Cassie Hack may be a slasher. But she’s determined to try to prevent that from happening, as well as saving a friends summer camp from a demented doctor. This means endangering herself, and putting herself at risk.

Tini Howard continues tell an interesting story here. Having Cassie doubt herself, fighting her heritage, is a core tenant of the series but Howard plays with that quite a bit. The last couple of pages do fall a bit flat though, with Cassie questioning a few facts about herself. Also, the setting is a bit off, with the summer camp seeming more like window dressing than anything else.

Celor keeps the action moving quickly. The characters are very expressive, and even the talking heads flow quickly. It’s a good looking book.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

The Verdict: Great buy for a fan of the original, but pass if not.

 

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Advance Review: Dejah Thoris #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)

I’m only familiar with the John Carter saga in passing, so Amy Chu and Pasquale Qualano had a tall task to win me over. Thankfully, I enjoyed Chu’s recent work on Red Sonja, so it’s not a too-tall task.

Dejah is determined to find a legendary city on Barsoom that had the fabled ability to create water. After a heated argument about the truth of the legends, the princess sets out to find the city. She’s confronted by her father, and finally goes out on her own into the dangerous wilds of Barsoom.

Chu spins an interesting story here. The search for a fabled city is an old trope, and inserted into this setting is a great twist. Dejah is written as a familiar character type, and she pushes a lot of the right buttons.

Qualano gives us sleek character work, and a fascinating alien world to explore. The downfall is a handful of moments that veer too far into cheesecake. Thankfully they’re few and far between.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy if you’re looking for a new fantasy read

 

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