Wow, comics have been pretty great lately, haven’t they? So what to buy, what to buy…?
Venom #1 (Marvel Comics)
I have never been a Venom fan. You ask me my favorite Spider-Man villains, and I’m going to say Doc Ock or Norman Osborn, depending on the day. You ask me my favorite non-Parker iSpider-hero, and it’ll be Miles Morales (unless I’m having a nostalgia fueled Ben Reilly day). So to say that not only that I was excited about a Venom series, but I LOVED it when I read it… that’s HUGE for me.
Eddie Brock is dealing with nightmares. But not his nightmares- his other’s nightmares- for the first time in their shared history, the SYMBIOTE is having nightmares. As Eddie tried to cope with its instability, he tries to take pictures of a crime in progress, but something takes over the symbiote and causes an extremely violent outburst, as well as a horrifying new look. Eddie is pulled out of the situation by a man he’s never met, who expected Flash Thompson in the suit. Suddenly Eddie Brock finds himself face to face with a situation he’d never anticipated, being asked questions he’d never thought of, and in it way over his head.
Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman’s creative lock-step here is perfect. Honestly, as well as the two work together, you’d expect that they’ve been collaborators for years. This book WORKS. The story is moody, the dialogue is sharp, and the twists make so much sense that you the reader will know they’re here to stay. Meanwhile Stegman, along with inker JP Meyer and color artist Frank Martin, give us fantastic visuals to match. There are several fantastic splash pages that show their talents off- the reveal of the out of control symbiote, Venom hijacking a convoy of trucks, and the stunning final page. They’re incredibly well-crafted by Stegman and Meyer, and Martin just makes the pages ooze with atmosphere.
I had a friend compare this issue to the beginning of JMS’s Amazing Spider-Man run, and that’s an incredibly apt comparison. It’s a quantum shift for Venom, and you should check it out.
Rating: 9 out of 10
The Verdict: Subscribe
Batman #47 (DC Comics)
Tom King’s Batman run is the first time that I’ve ever LOVED Batman as a title. This arc has been a change of pace from the rest of the series though. I have to say that it’s not BAD but it doesn’t reach the heights of the rest of the series.
Bruce Wayne has brought Skeets back from the dead, and subsequently releases Booster Gold from captivity to undo his parents’ death. Booster goes against Bruce’s wishes, and goes back to the initial point where he screwed everything up and prevents himself from preventing the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne… however it Bruce comes back with him. It sets up a chain of events that not only restores the timeline but also severely traumatizes Booster.
This is a huge change of pace from what Tom King has done so far in the last two years. This is a Booster story for one, where every other story in the run has been about Bruce as a human being. It also sets up some interesting things for Booster’s future, which I’m excited to see. It’s an interesting interlude, but honestly, it’s probably going to be looked on as a low point of the run- not because it’s bad but because it doesn’t hit the heights the rest of the book has.
Tony Daniel and the team (including Danny Miki and Sandu Florea on inks) give us a very fun story. There’s a level of physical comedy that they sell incredibly well here. They also do a great job with the pathos that the alternate Bruce goes through. It’s not an action filled story, but the art team is able to sell it without that.
This doesn’t reach the previous heights of the rest of the run, but it’s a fun, if dark, story. Far from where I’d recommend anyone start with this run, but a solid interlude.
Rating: 7 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy
Flavor #1 (Image Comics)
You know a comic book is going to be unique when it includes a “culinary consultant” in the creative team. Hell, the letter column points that out. But what is Flavor?
Xoo is an underage, unlicensed chef running her parent’s cafe while they experience health struggles. Geof is her uncle, who is obviously haunted by events in his past. The two of them are drawn together by the government to take care of Xoo’s parents and the cafe. But there’s much more to this fantasy setting than just a cafe, as there are some seriously dark undertones.
Joe Keatinge and Wook Jin Clark have given us a great glimpse into this new world in this issue. Keatinge’s story is one part energetic chase, and one part character piece in the vein of Dickens. It feels like a cross between Oliver Twist and Avatar the Last Airbender, with a strong eastern influence mixed with Victorian sensibilities. Xoo and Geof are both fun protagonists to start with and there are some mysterious elements in play that will keep things exciting.
Clark’s line art is solid, and has a great energy. The characters are wide-eyed, animated, and very expressive. There are some small perspective issues here and there (where body proportions are a little off in some panels- such as hands that are too small for the arms they’re attached to) but I’m sure as Clark gets deeper into the book that will work out. Tamra Bonvillain’s color art helps the story keep its light feel, and creates a lot of depth in the world building.
While I’m not on-board for the long run YET, I’m definitely picking up the next issue!
Rating: 7 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #27 (BOOM! Studios)
I realized this morning while listening to Jay and Miles Xplain the X-Men what the Shattered Grid crossover reminds me of. This is a modern spun on the same sort of story told my Alan Davis back in the early days of Excalibur. The Morphin’ Grid has essentially become the multiverse, and that sort of comparison is why this story works so well.
The Rangers have rescued Lauren, the Red Samurai Ranger, and are trying to regroup to stop Drakkon before he causes more damage. Zordon sends a message across the Grid to try to warn other Rangers, and they get a message back from the RPM Rangers that they may have a weapon against Drakkon. At the same time, they hear from the Coinless in Drakkon’s dimension, asking for help. The team decides to split up- Jason and Lauren travelling to the RPM universe, Trini, Zack and Billy to Drakkon’s dimension, and Jen Scotts and Kim travelling to assist and recruit some of the other ranger teams.
Power Rangers continues to work extremely well by mixing the Ranger mythology with classic superhero tropes. Kyle Higgins crafts a very fun story here, and the stakes feel very real. Jen has seen her team die, Lauren has seen her team captured, and Tommy Oliver is still dead. The main characters are near the end of their collective rope. It doesn’t skimp on character though. Even though it only gets a couple panels, Jason and Lauren bonding is a very fun touch.
Daniele Di Nicuolo’s art continues to shine here with Simona Di Gianfelce doing ink assists. He doesn’t rely too heavily on recreating the original actors, but instead captures their essence, if that doesn’t sound too corny. Walter Baiamonte’s color art helps a lot of the imposing feel too, using the existing headquarters lighting to create an impending sense of doom and despair.
This continues to be one of the best superhero books on the stands today.
Rating: 8 out of 10
The Verdict: Subscribe
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #82 (IDW Publishing)
The latest batch of TMNT issues have been interesting, as they’ve been blazing a trail without Shredder or Krang, the best known Ninja Turtle adversaries. It’s been pretty fun to read, and in this issue, it just gets ridiculous (in a good way).
Multiple threads are being set up through the issue. In the bulk of the story, the Turtles are asking the Toad Baron for help to stop the Rat King. The FBI is trying to rebuild New York after the Triceraton invasion. And Splinter is leading the Foot Clan towards taking over the New York underworld.
Tom Waltz (working from a plot by Waltz, Kevin Eastman and Bobby Curnow) structures a story that is most exposition and set up as a sort of quest. This makes it much more engaging and a lot of fun, as the Toad Baron acts as a sort of gatekeeper to the quest they’re about the engage in. The maneuvering and machinations taking place elsewhere compliments that, moving some long simmering plot threads forward. As always, the four brothers’ personalities are an absolute delight and just helps the story feel a lot more fun.
The art by Dave Wachter is fun, engaging and energetic. It’s hard for a lot of artists to handle a mostly talky issue like this. Wachter makes it all engaging by having a lot going on, whether it’s background characters, the incredibly gross feast Toad Baron offers the Turtles, or the different ways the Turtles react to what’s going on. Ronda Pattison’s color art is a major compliment to that, helping shift moods between the threads, as well as helping the bacchanal feeling that permeates Toad Baron’s home.
I really feel like this series is the best Ninja Turtles has ever been in comics, and this is an incredibly fun issue.
Rating: 7.5 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.