Green Lanterns #33 (DC Comics)
Last time I wrote this column, I included the previous issue of this series, the last of Sam Humphries’ run. I was disappointed to see Humphries go, but Tim Seeley has long been a writer I’ve enjoyed. Seeley wastes no time in the beginning of his run with Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferriera.
Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are called into action, rushing to come to the aid of a subterranean civilization whose planet is about to obliterated by its sun. Meanwhile an Ungaran ship available to aid the duo is caught in the undertow, and Seeley sets up some changes in his leads personal lives through a series of flashbacks.
Honestly, if you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t realize writers had changed. Seeley guarantees the transition is seamless, and has an excellent grasp of the characters. His mission statement seems to be move forward, and it’s done very well here. He also does a wonderful job and taking the GLs out of Earth’s orbit, something Humphries seeded and Seeley fully realizes.
Pansica and Ferriera’s line art is great. They have a good grasp on both the mundane (Jessica in therapy, Simon working on an engine) and the cosmic. The action is crisp, clear and easy to follow, while remaining engaging and energetic. I don’t point this out very often, but it stuck out in such a good way too- their backgrounds are fantastic. They make every location seem like a very real place, from the posters on the therapist’s office to the bridge of the Ungaran ship. I don’t have one complaint about the art, and it’s with the colors. Several times color artist Alex Sollazzo colors Jessica as a white woman with strawberry blonde hair, rather than the Latina she is. It’s really something jarring, because in multiple panels I had to remind myself that it was Jessica in civilian clothes and no some other new character.
Overall though, a great start to a run, which I look forward to!
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy
Fighting American #1 (Titan Comics)
Jack Kirby’s OTHER red-white-and-blue clad hero returns to comics in a fun, breezy first issue that recalls Kirby’s more famous patriotic creation without mimicking him. It’s a fun issue by Gordon Rennie, Duke Mighten and Tracy Bailey.
Fighting American arrives in the present alongside his sidekick Speedboy, Professor Dyle Twister and Professor Twister’s nephew Gregory, chasing a batch of time travelling communists. After a brisk chase, Fighting American and Speedboy are forced into the streets overnight, and following Prof. Twister’s instructions to recover next steps from a safety deposit box. It turns out that Twister was murdered by a new villain- Chaos Lad- and they have no way home. And with that revelation, the duo are confronted by police for the destruction they caused the previous night…
Rennie’s story is really well done, but I have some concerns about some of the foreshadowing. For the positives, he apes the bombastic style of 50’s comics extremely well. Fighting American (don’t call him FA!) and Speedboy are written as capable but realistic. Speedboy’s reaction to a lurid billboard in Time Square is both funny and all too real. The Communist supervillains are also great. My big concern is some foreshadowing about Chaos Lad. The Commies are rescued by a purple-clad older woman, and a few pages later our heroes are introduced to Chaos Lad, whose costume bears some resemblance to the mystery villainess. I’m hoping that I’m reading that foreshadowing wrong and the woman is not a post-gender transition Chaos Lad, as the trope of making transwomen villains is worn out and frankly transphobic.
Mighten’s line art is great, straddling the line between an independent book and something from one of the big two. He does action well, and does a great job with his figures. I always like when artists vary body types, heights, etc, and Mighten does that really well. Bailey’s color art is fantastic, from Fighting American and Speedboy’s costumes to the glare of Times Square.
Overall though, it’s a fun start, and for that reason I really hope the foreshadowing I see is wrong.
Rating: 7 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy if a Captain America or Kirby fan.
Incredible Hulk #709 (Marvel Comics)
I was not the biggest Incredible Hulk fan until Greg Pak came along. It was just not a series that I had a lot of love for, despite being a bit of a Marvel Zombie. In Pak’s first run on the title, he spun a fantastic action story with Planet Hulk that strengthened the character for years after. Then, with All New All Different Marvel, he turned Amadeus Cho into the character he’d needed to be all along, transforming Cho into THE Hulk of the Marvel universe. So this next step in that run and that journey was welcome to me.
Amadeus, meditating in a satellite to try to get his green side under control, receives a distress call from Sakaar, the infamous planet Hulk. He blasts away to the rescue, and promptly crash lands. He’s then drawn into a battle with the Warlord who has taken control of the planet in the Red King’s absence. At that point, Amadeus has a choice to make- stay in control or unleash the Hulk…
Pak hits many similar beats to his now-classic story from a decade ago, but avoids a rehash. It’s not just a matter of Amadeus being the lead this time around though. Sakaar is in even worse shape than before, and needs the Green Scar. At the same time, even out of control, Cho is a different Hulk than Banner. Nothing shows that better than the compassion he shows to several children halfway through the issue.
Greg Land gets a lot of grief for his heavily photo-referenced work, but stories like this are where he really shines. He does the big bombastic action well, and does some amazing stuff with fantastic creatures and crazy tech. Jay Leisten adds a solid line to his pencils, while Frank D’Armata goes nuts on the colors. It’s a great package.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
The Verdict: Subscribe
God Complex #1 (Image Comics/Top Cow)
A new comic from Paul Jenkins is always reason to celebrate, and seeing him put a story to the fantastic designs of Glitch is even more of a thrill. I honestly didn’t know who Glitch was until I picked up this book, but as a Jakarta-based studio headed by co-writer Brian Lie in 2012, they’ve put some awesome tech-based spins on classic mythology.
We’re introduced to this strange new world through the lens of Detective Seneca, who’s investigating the murder of three anti-tech cultists. In the course of the investigation, he’s pulled into the world of the Rulers, tech enhanced beings who are named after the gods of myth.
Jenkins crafts an engaging murder mystery here. Seneca is a bit of a cliched protagonist at first, but Jenkins quickly pulls back layers to make him interesting as the issue moves forward. The Ruler we spend the most time with, Hermes, is also interesting, treating his relationship with Seneca almost like a mentorship.
Artist Hendry Prasetya gives life to Glitch’s designs beautifully. Though it’s not an action comic, he keeps it as engaging as his past work on Power Rangers. Jessica Kholinne’s colors are a great companion, keeping this future world relatable but slick and foreign.
Rating: 7 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy if big into mythology.
Z Nation #6 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Z Nation is popular because it takes the Walking Dead and makes it ridiculous. What better comic writer to take advantage of that than Fred Van Lente? Paired with series co-creator Craig Engler, Van Lente takes the zombies to the high seas in the conclusion to this story.
The ocean bound team of national guardsmen take on a power mad boat captain while struggling to get to a food source that could sustain survivors- Soylent Z.
There’s some positives and negatives here. First of all, Van Lente does over the top and crazy well. Soylent Z, aside from the name, turns out to be zombie catnip. One of the characters is carrying around a zombified polar bear head to use as a weapon. One of the villains is harpooned to a zombie whale as the undead mammal dives into the ocean. It’s all goofy, fun and over the top. However, that comes at the expense of the characters. After reading the issue, I couldn’t tell you a single character name or any reason to care about any of them, living or undead.
Artist Edu Menna does a solid to good job. The characters look a little samey, but the action is done well, and the zombies are appropriate grotesque.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy if a Z Nation fan, pass otherwise.
Harbinger Renegade #8 (Valiant Comics)
Rafer Roberts and Darrick Robertson continue building towards a war between the Renegades, Omen and Alexander Solomon. In this issue, the Renegades make a peace offering to Omen, while HARDCorps leader Major Palmer realizes the importance of key members of the Renegades.
Roberts is doing a great job of moving chess pieces around the board to spring the climax of this story. It’s tense and absorbing. He does a marvelous job with Kris in particular, making the powerless Renegade the group’s most valuable member.
Robertson was the right pick for this series from the jump. His style makes the issue read like a tense thriller from Vertigo, instead of a Valiant superhero book. He’s a giant in the comic industry for a reason.
Rating: 7 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy
Tony Thornley is a Mormon geek dad, blogger, Spider-Man and Superman aficionado, amateur novelist and all around awesome guy. He was born and raised in Utah and has been reading comics since age five. His first comic series was GI Joe and he was doomed from there. You can follow him on Twitter @brawl2099.