CANTO Vol. 1 (2020) review

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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Star Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars (IDW Publishing)

STAR WARS ADVENTURES: THE CLONE WARS break out weekly in April 2020

With Star Wars: The Clone Wars returning for a final season in February on Disney+ it was only a matter of time before the adventures of Obi-Wan and Anakin returned to the pages of IDW Publishing’s comics.

The publisher has now announced a new miniseries to debut in April and you can get a preview, including a look at some cool new artwork, in the press release below.


IDW Publishing’s Five-Part Comic Book Event 
Shares Battle Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

SAN DIEGO, CA (January 23, 2020) – While the galaxy may be divided, fans certainly won’t be when IDW Publishing (OTCQX: IDWM) launches a new campaign in the conflict between Republic and Separatists with the all-new Star Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars – Battle Tales comic book miniseries!

While Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and other Jedi Knights fight against incredible odds, Commander Cody, Captain Rex, and other clone troopers are pinned down for the duration, swapping war stories that feature favorite characters from The Clone Wars animated series, such as Padmé Amidala, General Grievous, and many more!

Shipping weekly throughout April, the Clone Wars comic book event is written by Michael Moreci and feature a framing sequence in each issue by Star Wars Adventures mainstay Derek Charm. Similar to the popular Tales from Vader’s Castleand Return to Vader’s Castle five-week events, every issue of Clone Wars will spotlight a different artist on interiors: Arianna Florean (issue #1), Megan Levens(#2), Valentina Pinto (#3), Davide Tinto (#4), and Philip Murphy (#5).

“The Clone Wars era is probably my favorite in all of Star Wars. It has it all – big adventure, sweeping romance, Force mythology, Jedi powers, and, of course, the awesome clones,” says Moreci. “This event series is going to bring together all the best, evergreen parts of Star Wars and weave a story that longtime fans (like myself) and new, younger readers (like my own kids) will definitely love.”

“This era of Star Wars feels so expansive and open as far as storytelling possibilities, so I’m really excited to be able to spend a good amount of time in it,” says Charm. “I’m really looking forward to finally working with Michael Moreci, as well! We’ve sort of been orbiting each other in the monthly Star Wars Adventures book for a while, but this will be our first time working together. We’ve talked about some of the things he has planned for this series, and it’s going to be pretty great.”

“Ever since it was first mentioned in A New Hope, the Clone Wars have ignited the imaginations of Star Wars fans,” says Star Wars Adventures editor Denton J. Tipton. “We are honored and excited to build upon that mythos on the shoulders of giants like Genndy Tartakovsky and Dave Filoni.” 

Each issue of Star Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars – Battle Tales will feature covers by Derek Charm, including spot-color retailer incentive covers. An additional Retailer Incentive variant for issue #1 will be available featuring the artwork of Michael Avon Oeming (PowersThe Mice Templar).

For information on how to acquire copies of Star Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars – Battle Tales, please contact your local comic shop or visit www.comicshoplocator.com to find a store near you.

STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates.  © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.


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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW Publishing)

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2011-) #101 review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #101 is available now where all good comics are sold!

Synopsis

Welcome to the new world of TMNT! After the cataclysmic events of TMNT #100, the Turtles find New York City drastically changed—new factions and enemies are on the rise, and allies are in short supply. The Turtles discover that in order to survive they will need to work together like never before!

Review

Regular GYCO readers will know that I used to review Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics religiously. I’ve followed this recent run all the way back to its first issue and have stuck with it through the good times and the bad.

I stopped reviewing the series around issue #50 when I felt that is was going in narrative circles. Setting up huge events and climactic battles which would lead in to a relative period of calm and then repeat. For the next fifty issues Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has done just that. Following Splinter’s time leading The Foot and circling a potential return for Shredder.

But finally, with its landmark 100th issue, the series has done something different. Writers Kevin Eastman, Sophie Campbell and Tom Waltz took a brave step and implemented some misdirection to pull off a huge coup. Now with both Shredder and Splinter dead, the series finds itself in issue #101 treading a new path.

A new status quo has been set and finally it’s taking us somewhere we’ve never been before with the series. There’s now five turtles thanks to the addition of Jennika (not Venus de Milo like the TV series) and the landscape of New York has forever been changed by events of the previous arc.

We’re now in a kind of post-apocalyptic version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe. One where humans are outnumbered, at least in certain parts of the city. Thousands more people are having to adjust to mutant life and the prejudices that come along with it.

This first issue of the latest arc finds the series at its most politically aware, constructing walls to barricade mutants in to sections of the city where families are ripped apart based on whether they were infected by mutagen or not. It all stands are a perfect analogy for societal issues in contemporary America and praise to the writers for going head first into some tricky territory.

The titular Turtles are consequential in this story. This issue is very much about giving the audience an understanding of the new landscape of the book. There’s some small tidbits of information about how the four leads are coping with the loss of Master Spliter, spoiler alert… not well.

Raphael has the most exposure here as he’s still within the limits of the mutant city. Acting as a vigilante as only he could in this situation.

The others are now living in the countryside attempting to move on with their lives. This issue sets the groundwork for a lot of soul searching and potential character development as it makes it very clear that the deaths of the 100th issue have not, and most likely will not, be undone.

This is easily the most excited I’ve been to read a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book in a long, long time…

Verdict

Coming out of its landmark 100th issue Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a new creative vigour and a new outlook on life. An intriguing start to a new chapter for the Heroes in a Half Shell.

7/10

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #101 is written by Kevin Eastman, Sophie Campbell and Tom Waltz with art also by Campbell.


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Detective Comics #1000 (DC Comics)

DETECTIVE COMICS #1000 tops 2019 comic book sales

Diamond Comic Distributors has released its annual list of the best selling comics books and graphic novels and there’s plenty of good news for many of the top publishers in the industry.

DC Comics takes the top spot in the individual sales chart as Detective Comics landmark 1000th issue becomes the top selling issue of 2019. The top ten issues is dominated by number ones with Marvel taking the lions share of spots on the chart. Here’s the top 10:

RANKDESCRIPTIONPRICEVENDOR
1DETECTIVE COMICS #1000$9.99DC
2SPAWN #300$7.99IMAGE COMICS
3X-MEN #1$4.99MARVEL COMICS
4BLACK CAT #1$4.99MARVEL COMICS
5DCEASED #1$3.99DC
6ABSOLUTE CARNAGE #1$7.99MARVEL COMICS
7MARVEL COMICS #1000$9.99MARVEL COMICS
8HOUSE OF X #1$5.99MARVEL COMICS
9POWERS OF X #1$5.99MARVEL COMICS
10WAR OF REALMS #1$5.99MARVEL COMICS

Over in the graphic novel top 10, it’s DC Comics who takes the crown again as Watchmen tops the chart with the most recent incarnation of its trade paperback. DC holds five of the top 10 slots with Image Comics and Dark Horse holding the rest of the chart.

RANKDESCRIPTIONPRICEVENDOR
1WATCHMEN TP$24.99DC
2SAGA VOLUME 1 TP (MR)$9.99IMAGE COMICS
3UMBRELLA ACADEMY VOL. 1: APOCALYPSE SUITE TP$17.99DARK HORSE COMICS
4MONSTRESS VOLUME 1 TP (MR)$9.99IMAGE COMICS
5MISTER MIRACLE TP (MR)$24.99DC
6DIE VOL. 1: FANTASY HEARTBREAKER TP (MR)$9.99IMAGE COMICS
7BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT TP$19.99DC
8THE WALKING DEAD VOL. 31 TP (MR)$16.99IMAGE COMICS
9BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE HC$17.99DC
10BATMAN: DAMNED HC (MR)$29.99DC

Did you pick up any of the issues and TPB’s which make up these top 10’s? We’d love to hear your favourite comics from the year so let us know in the comments section below!


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Star Trek: Year Five (IDW Publishing)

IDW releases STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE #9 preview

IDW Publishing has released a new sneaky peek at the upcoming ninth issue of their Star Trek: Year Five series. After their close call with the Tholian Assembly, the crew of the Enterprise escorts Ayal back to their home planet, only to find a society teetering on the brink of catastrophe.

The issue beams down to a comic shop near you from today and here’s a look at the cover artwork. You can read the full preview here.


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Star Trek: Picard - Countdown (IDW Publishing)

STAR TREK: PICARD – COUNTDOWN (2019) #1 review

You can pickup your copy of Star Trek: Picard – Countdown #1 now where all good comics are sold!

Synopsis

You’ve seen the trailer… now, witness the events leading to CBS All Access’s Picard. Before he retired to his vineyard, Jean-Luc Picard was the most decorated admiral in Starfleet. Then one mission changed his life forever. The Countdown starts here!

Review

Easily the most anticipated TV event of 2020, Star Trek: Picard is getting the comic book treatment in order to catch the audience up on what’s been going on since we last saw the character.

IDW has been doing some excellent work with the Trek universe of late so I was excited to see how they would handle the legend of Jean-Luc Picard and his transition in to a more contemporary Trek world.

Over the decades Picard has been tied very closely to two major alien species within the universe. First and foremost: the Borg and secondly the Romulans. When we last saw the Captain (now Admiral) in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis he was staring down the barrel of a Romulan disaster in the form of his own clone, Shinzon (played by a young Tom Hardy).

In 2009’s Star Trek, directed by J.J. Abrams, we know that Romulus was destroyed and this is what sent Nero (Eric Bana) back in time and created what we now know as the Kelvin Timeline.

Where we find Picard at the beginning of this issue, Romulus is facing a similar apocalyptic event. Picard and the crew of the USS Verity are helping to evacuate populated words in the sector in order to ensure the future of the species.

There’s a handy cameo from Geordie LaForge to remind readers of The Next Generation, something which the TV series is set to steer away from. The idea of cameos from former characters is much less intrusive in the comic, it could be argued this is loosely cannon but also with only a fraction of the potential TV audience reading it doesn’t have as larger impact on the narrative.

It feels very much in the vein of how each of the Star Trek TV series would pass the baton to the next during their pilot episode. This is particularly poignant when the next scene introduces us to Lieutenant Commander Raffi Musiker. If that name sounds familiar to you that is because Raffi will appear in the TV series, played by Michelle Hurd.

When we attended the Star Trek Universe panel at NYCC earlier in the year the cast and crew kept quiet on Raffi’s relationship to Picard. But here we learn that she is his first officer on the Verity.

This level of detail, informing the reader about characters we have yet to meet in live-action, is peppered throughout the issue and is excellently done. There’s nothing heavy-handed about the storytelling which is impressive for a TV series tie-in book.

Instead Countdown is as measured as its lead character. Story beats are well planned and the caper unfolds at a very pleasing pace without reliance on legacy characters for shocking plot twists or unnecessary exposition.

Kristen Beyer and Mike Johnson brilliantly set up an intriguing story with a palpable understanding for the fact this is only a three-issue mini series. It’s not overly complex but conversely isn’t too simple to hold the readers attention.

Angel Hernandez’s artwork also perfectly toes the line between attempting to recreate actors likenesses and evoking the personality of the character through more unique visuals. There’s a strong likeness for Patrick Stewart and other characters, particularly LaForge are easily recognisable.

Scenes in space are typically murky and the ship designs will be familiar to fans of the franchise. The alien worlds glimpsed in this issue are immersive and representative of what fans of IDW’s Star Trek books will come to have expected.

Verdict

Countdown #1 is as measured as its lead character: distinguished, refined and entertaining to end.

8/10

Star Trek: Picard – Countdown #1 is written by Kirsten Beyer & Mike Johnson with art by Angel Hernandez, colours by Joana Lafuente and letters by Neil Uyetake. Cover art is by Michael Pangrazio.

Star Trek: Picard – Countdown #1 cover art by Michael Pangrazio

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