THAT TEXAS BLOOD # 1 review

Thor (Marvel)

THOR #4 review

Thor #4 is available now where all good comics are sold!

Synopsis

THOR’S GREATEST ENEMY – AND THE UNIVERSE’S ONLY SAVIOR – REVEALED! The Black Winter is coming – the end of the entire vast universe – and only one entity can stop it. The only one who has survived it before, Galactus the World-Eater, has come to Midgard…in search of a herald for the end of everything.

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Dying Is Easy (IDW Publishing)

DYING IS EASY #3 review

Dying is Easy #3 is available now where all good comics are sold!

Synopsis

Syd Homes, having just Indiana Jones’d his way out of certain death, finds himself once again up the creek without a paddle. The Ross Brothers, suspects number one and two respectively in the death of joke stealer and general thief Carl Dixon, have just found themselves an alibi—which means Syd’s back on the Most Wanted list. Good thing he’s totally cool under pressure, because getting out of this jam may or may not involve posing as a stuntman… Well, as they say—life is short, comedy is hard, and dying is really f*cking easy!

Dying is Easy is written by Joe Hill, drawn by Martin Simmonds, coloured by Dee Cuniffe and lettered by Shawn Lee.

Review

Firstly, I have to state that I love Joe Hill’s comic book work. Locke and Key is nothing short of genius and is one of my favourite comic runs of all time. That being said, Dying is Easy is not your typical Joe Hill style of book. Dying is Easy follows Syd Homes, a disgraced former detective turned stand-up comedian, who is on the run from the police for the murder of a joke stealing comedian – a crime he didn’t commit. The Joe Hill hallmarks are there; a compelling story and interesting and layered characters, but this book is at its heart a comedy, underlined with a murder mystery plot – a contrast to Hill’s usual horror work.

The book is genuinely funny, from the first panel to the last. There is a running joke throughout the issue with the women all seeming to have an affection for Alan Rickman, a joke laid out in the first page by once character and paid off later by another. The laughs from the dialogue come thick and fast throughout the issue, a testament to Hill’s versatility as a writer. In this issue, Hill mixes the comedy with the plot to successfully move the story forward, something that the second issue lacked and suffered from.

There is a visual gag which begun in issue two and is continued here, where Syd continuously finds himself in ridiculous footwear. The first action sequence is of Syd hanging on to a speeding car wearing bright blue roller skates, which he uses to skate along the side of an oncoming speeding lorry. The chase ends and Syd is confronted by a gun wielding police man, who he speeds past and knocks over, skating away from the carnage. The visual is both ludicrous and hilarious, and Symmond’s rough, sketchy art style combined with Cunniffe’s surreal and bold colours work heighten the absurdity.

While the art and colours work well to highlight the tone of the book, the style can make it quite hard to follow visually. Once or twice I found myself lost in a sequence, and often characters can look completely different from one panel to the next. This isn’t a major fault of the art, and it could even have been done on purpose to mirror the chaos of the plot, but I found it jarring at times. That being said, there is an excellent sequence with each wide panel depicting the different levels of a building. The visual storytelling in this scene and the next are outstanding, and are a testament to the unique storytelling style that the comic book medium is capable of. And oh my, what a dazzling last page!

Verdict

This issue is a significant improvement on the previous, the plot is progressing and I’m fully on-board for the outrageous comedic ride! The questionable art choices do not take away from some really striking visuals and storytelling.


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Daredevil (Marvel Comics)

DAREDEVIL #18 review

Daredevil #18 is available now where all good comics are sold!

Synopsis

Matt must come to terms with what Daredevil truly means. And he better do it soon, as a new and deadly foe makes a decisive return…

Review

I have been a huge fan of Chip Zdarsky’s run on Daredevil so far, and the ‘Through Hell’ arc in particular has been thoroughly intriguing. The stakes are high as DAREDEVIL, Cole North and the Libris crime family all race to rescue the kidnapped Granddaughter of Izzy Libris, perpetrated by The Owl.

Chip Zdarsky weaves a wonderful and tense story, supported up by the fantastic art of Jorge Fornes who seems to be channelling his inner David Mazzucchelli. Zdarsky sets the stakes in the first 4 pages with emotional outbursts in the scene with the Libris Family and a calculated appeal from Detective Cole North – a character quickly becoming one of my favourites – to his peers. There is a child missing and we must find her.

The panel layouts work well to pace the scenes and build tension, as we zoom in closer and closer to Det. North’s face as he makes his speech, Fornes doing a stellar job with his acting work. A scene later Daredevil, in white shirt with white cloth mask, and Det. Cole speed off in to the rain to rescue the child. I am convinced that the officer Det. North leaves behind is a rendition of Chip Zdarsky!  

The tension continues to build during the chase – rain is pouring from the heavens, Daredevil is using his enhanced hearing to locate the whereabouts of the kidnappers, the colour palette has shifted where alarming reds now prominent. However the climax of the pursuit falls flat, failing to deliver a satisfying culmination of the tension which was so well laid, the situation being resolved in typical Daredevil fashion. I feel that the situation itself had no bearing on the story. That being said the art and the storytelling cannot be faulted and the last page reveal has left me yearning for the next issue.

What I have really enjoyed about this book is the character development. The Owl has been elevated from low lever gangster to a dreaded and dangerous mob boss. One powerful panel in this issue emphases this, wonderfully and harrowingly drawn by Fornes, and I will not spoil. Wilson Fisk has gone through a different journey. Once feared and respected as the Kingpin of Crime, he is now a broken, limp puppet to those above him, emphasised by the one page and two lines that that he is granted in this issue in which he is bed ridden, the reader and camera looking down on him. I am very excited to see what Zdarsky does with these two characters and the inevitable rise of the Kingpin once again.

Verdict

Overall great storytelling and genuinely tense, but an anti-climactic where it counted. The art from Fornes is stellar and is perfect for a Daredevil book. As a final issue to an arc it works well, upping the stakes and setting up future conflicts. I enjoyed the whole arc and great character development and final page reveal saved this issue for me.

7/10 (9/10 if that was a Zdarsky cameo!)


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Alienated (BOOM! Studios)

ALIENATED #1 review

Alienated #1 is available now where all good comics are sold!

Synopsis

Acclaimed writer Simon Spurrier (John Constantine Hellblazer, Coda) and artist Chris Wildgoose (Batgirl, Batman: Nightwalker) present a subversive coming-of-age story about having all the power to change the world but the unready hands to truly wield it. Three teenagers, each an outcast in their own way, stumble upon an unearthly entity as it’s born. As they bond over this shared secret and the creature’s incredible abilities, it becomes clear to the teenagers that their cute little pet is a superpredator in the making—and it’s in need of prey. Guided by the best intentions at first, the teens’ decisions soon become corrupted by adolescent desires, small town jealousies, and internal rivalries, sending them into a catastrophic spiral of their own making.

Review

Alienated is the latest #1 from Boom Studios, written by Simon Spurrier (Books of Magic, Constantine), pencils by Chris Wildgoose (Batgirl), colours by Andre May and lettered by Jim Campbell. 

The story is that of three teenagers, all named “Sam”, who stumble across an alien object on the way to school and are granted psychic powers. While this premise may seem generic, this comic is anything but. We follow the 3 Sam throughout the school day – before, during and after their encounter. 

We are introduced to the 3 Sams in the first 4 pages of the issue, which are methodically laid out by Wildgoose. Each of the Sam’s, although share a name, have completely different personalities, punctuated by their individual colour pallets and coloured caption boxes. Spurrier’s engaging dialogue and the contrasting caption colours work wonderfully in establishing the character’s personalities – one wants to hide, one wants to be seen and the other wants to be liked. This leads in to an intriguing and fun blend of teen angst and sci-fi.

Wildgoose’s art is equally as wonderful. The acting is first rate and the action pages flow nicely. The characters are put through a multitude of emotions and each is captured expertly by Wildgoose. Another highlight are page and panel layouts. These engage the reader, while also telling a story of their own and establishing the connection between our ‘heroes’. The art of this book fits the “Boom aesthetic” and is reminiscent of recent Boom hit Once and Future drawn by Dan Mora.

The unique and engrossing element of this book is the lettering by Jim Campbell. Something so simple as having certain words in grey and in a slightly smaller font had me reading aloud, though quietly, in the character’s voice. The lettering and coloured captions adds a whole new layer to the reading experience. 

I found myself laughing out loud at points and genuinely mortified at others. Spurrier feeds us just enough information on each of the characters, giving each one their own mysterious past which leave the reader grasping for more. There are clues hinted at in the beautiful double page spread, and we are left with a cliff hanger which begs the question: can really call these characters ‘heroes’. Finishing the book leaves the reader wondering how the characters’ new relationship will develop

Even the minor characters are interesting which is a credit to Spurrier’s writing and remarkable world-building. Leon, the bike-riding school bully is funny, offensive and tragic all at once, while the mysterious viral video star Waxy allows for current social commentary 

I find it hard to find flaws in this first issue. If anything, I could have done with it being slightly longer. There are instances which seemed rushed and a slightly longer first issue could have allayed that but overall I was extremely satisfied. This book is a testament to what comics and truly achieve. 

Verdict

A unique and engaging 1st issue has me clamouring for more! The team here all have vital, individual roles and work wonderfully together. The interesting story, stimulating artwork and technical treats make this the best first issue I have read in a long time. The harmony of all the elements is a delight to look at, and if they can keep to up for the rest of the story then Boom have another hit on their hands

9/10

Alienated #1 is written by Simon Spurrier with artwork and a cover by Chris Wildgoose. The series is published by BOOM! Studios.

Alienated #1 cover by Chris Wildgoose

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