IDW – Read About Comics http://www.readaboutcomics.com Where to find out what's really good. Mon, 16 Nov 2015 17:36:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.10 A Fine and Private Place #1 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2012/10/08/a-fine-and-private-place-1/ http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2012/10/08/a-fine-and-private-place-1/#comments Mon, 08 Oct 2012 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/?p=2436 Original story by Peter S. BeagleAdaptated by Peter GillisArt by Eduardo Francisco32 pages, colorPublished by IDW

With IDW’s successful comic adaptation of Peter S. Beagle’s novel The Last Unicorn, it only makes sense that they’d dip back into that well again with another novel-to-comic conversion. This one is from Beagle’s first novel A Fine and [...]]]> Original story by Peter S. Beagle
Adaptated by Peter Gillis
Art by Eduardo Francisco
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

With IDW’s successful comic adaptation of Peter S. Beagle’s novel The Last Unicorn, it only makes sense that they’d dip back into that well again with another novel-to-comic conversion. This one is from Beagle’s first novel A Fine and Private Place, with Peter Gillis scripting and Eduardo Francisco tackling the art. And while A Fine and Private Place doesn’t have the same instant hook that a project like The Last Unicorn possessed, this quieter story is a pleasant and interesting read.

The first issue of A Fine and Private Place introduces us to Jonathan Rebeck, a man who lives in a cemetary mausoleum, can see ghosts, and understands ravens. It’s there that we see one raven bringing Jonathan food from a nearby deli, and Jonathan meets both a brand-new ghost (his body freshly buried) as well as a living visitor to the cemetary. A Fine and Private Place #1 is primarily introductions and setting the mood for the mini-series, and does so in a relaxed, unhurried pace.

Gillis finds a right balance between keeping the original narrative prose and letting the Francisco’s art tell the story. Early parts of the first issue use a lot of Beagle’s prose in narration boxes, but it sets the scene in ways that the art alone would have had a more difficult time with. It gets into the head of Jonathan, talks about the surroundings, and has a wry sense of humor. Once Jonathan’s got someone else to talk to (most notably the ghost of Michael) the narration boxes drop away substantially. Presumably that’s in part because the book itself has a lot more dialogue on its pages, but by that point Gillis and Beagle have also set the stage well. A Fine and Private Place #1 at that point becomes as much about their conversation as anything else, and for a book set in a cemetary with ghosts and mourners, it’s quite pleasant. We might not know yet why Jonathan lives in a cemetary but it doesn’t matter; this is a story that’s inviting enough that I want to keep reading and learn more about all the players involved.

Francisco’s art (along with colors by Priscilla Tramontano) is attractive to the eye. There’s nothing flashy about it but it doesn’t need to be either; it features well-rendered characters and smooth and easy to follow action. Jonathan himself looks very realistic; he’s short, has bushy eyebrows and a big nose, and comes across as someone you’d see walking down the street. It’s nice to see an artist who can draw real people instead of just hyper-realized ones. Even more important, though, are the settings in A Fine and Private Place #1. Both the cemetary and the New York city street come across as actual places that you could visit. Everything from store signs to different looking tombstones are carefully drawn out—I can only assume that Francisco did his research before starting the project—and it’s an unthreatening, inviting overall look.

A Fine and Private Place #1 is a good start to this new mini-series. It might not have the name recognition as The Last Unicorn, but for those who pick it up I think they’ll be pleased. As someone who’d never heard of this particular Beagle book before, I found myself drawn in enough that I’d like to see what happens next. It’s a quiet, unassuming book but sometimes that’s exactly what you’re looking for.

]]> http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2012/10/08/a-fine-and-private-place-1/feed/ 1
Womanthology: Space #1 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2012/09/19/womanthology-space-1/ http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2012/09/19/womanthology-space-1/#comments Wed, 19 Sep 2012 13:00:40 +0000 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/?p=2402 Written by Bonnie Burton, Sandy King Carpenter, Alison Ross, Stephanie Hans, Ming Doyle, Stacie PonderArt by Jessica Hickman, Tanja Wooten, Stephanie Hans, Ming Doyle, Stacie Ponder32 pages, colorPublished by IDW

A little over a year ago, Renae De Liz started a Kickstarter for an all-female-comic-creators called Womanthology: Heroic. The Kickstarter was wildly successful—it got over [...]]]> Written by Bonnie Burton, Sandy King Carpenter, Alison Ross, Stephanie Hans, Ming Doyle, Stacie Ponder
Art by Jessica Hickman, Tanja Wooten, Stephanie Hans, Ming Doyle, Stacie Ponder
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

A little over a year ago, Renae De Liz started a Kickstarter for an all-female-comic-creators called Womanthology: Heroic. The Kickstarter was wildly successful—it got over four times its goal and topped out at over $109,000—and it got the attention of a lot of people in the industry. Now Womanthology is back with Womanthology: Space, a new series which will eventually be collected into a second Womanthology graphic novel. And so far? It’s off to a slightly unmemorable start.

Anthologies are a tricky business; simply hanging a theme on a collection and putting a bunch of stories with that idea together isn’t automatically a recipe for success. Because of the nature of the collection, each short story is going to need to stand out and be strong so that readers are willing to turn the page and try just one more. And while there aren’t any bad stories in Womanthology: Space #1, there also aren’t any that jump out and make you remember them 24 hours later.

Bonnie Burton and Jessica Hickman’s opening story is a perfect example of this. "Waiting for Mr. Roboto" has a cute enough concept and opening image of an outer space diner called Yub Grub where alien Trixie works with a number of robots and wishes for someone handsome to come in and yank her off her feet. (When asked why she won’t date one of the robots, she angrily explains that she’s not robosexual.) And then, of course, a handsome man waltzes in and Trixie’s instantly smitten. While I appreciate that Burton has one of Trixie’s early assumptions about another group of beings dashed on the rocks by the end of "Waiting for Mr. Roboto," this is a story that only stands out in that I found myself a tiny bit surprised that Womanthology: Space #1 opened with a story about a woman wanting nothing more than a man to sweep her off her feet. Obviously just because a comic is created by women doesn’t mean that it’s automatically going to be full of feminist stories—if nothing else I guess I appreciated that my expectations about this comic were promptly put in check—but it feels like a story almost identical to prose shorts we’d have seen in the 1950s science-fiction magazines. Add in some slightly stiff art and ultimately there’s nothing that new here.

"Dead Again" by Sandy King Carpenter and Tanja Wooten is up next, with a story about a nameless man who is preparing to blow up a derelict spaceship and is haunted by the ghost of the woman that he loved. Carpenter’s story feels a little flat; with just six pages it’s admittedly hard to try and build up the history of an entire relationship between two people, and as a result by the time we see the ghostly Miranda the story is almost over and any tension that could have built up is promptly dismissed. "Dead Again" is a story that was ultimately hampered by the format; given another half-dozen pages I think this would have had a fighting chance to succeed on that front. (I was also a little surprised once again at the role of the female character; this time she’s little more than a photograph, barely at presence at all.) More successful is Tanja Wooten’s art, which is beautiful. I’m not entirely sure how it was constructed (maybe pencils that have been computer colored?) but it’s full of beautiful rich blues and nice portraits of the salvage characters. Wooten’s art is one of the high points of Womanthology: Space #1, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for her art down the line.

Alison Ross and Stephanie Hans offer up "Stealing Heaven" with a story set in 2040 with two women trying to become the first woman on the moon. The space race between the United States and China is a great launching point for "Stealing Heaven" and I appreciated the fact that we were finally getting some female protagonists who weren’t defined by the men in the story. And while the art looks great, the story once again feels too big for just six pages; we’re getting just the briefest of details here, and it’s something that I feel could be easily expanded into a bigger, more successful story. "Stealing Heaven" feels like a teaser for a full-length graphic novel, and it’s one that I would read in that larger format. It’s definitely the strongest of the three 6-page stories in the issue, though.

Closing out the first issue are two 2-pagers. First is Ming Doyle’s "The Adventures of Princess Plutonia!" which is short, sweet, and fun. It understands its page length and plays to that strengths as Doyle reverses the typical "space faring prince saves the chained up woman held captive by the evil ruler." Doyle’s art is great—it reminds me of an early Paul Pope—and I feel like she hit the mark well here. Stacie Ponder’s "Space Girls" strips are a little less successful; there’s a hint of something fun here (and the big space cat made me laugh) but especially coming after Doyle’s contribution, it feels like Ponder’s two pages have barely gotten things moving. Perhaps if there are indeed more "Space Girls" strips in future issues they’ll come together a bit better, but for now it’s a slightly weak conclusion to the first issue.

Ultimately, as stated before, nothing in Womanthology: Space #1 is bad. I’d expected a lot more, though, than what I got. Hopefully future issues will have some creators that can work better with the short story size and limitations. Right now, though, these too-short stories end up being not that memorable because of their lack of working within the boundaries of a short story. There are some talented creators here, but their selections don’t serve them well.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com | Powell’s Books

]]> http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2012/09/19/womanthology-space-1/feed/ 1
Godzilla #1-2 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2012/06/29/godzilla-1-2/ Fri, 29 Jun 2012 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/?p=2330 Written by Duane SwierczynskiArt by Simon Gane32 pages, colorPublished by IDW

I’ll admit that I’ve only seen a small percentage of Godzilla films, knowing more about the property via its reputation (and friends who get excited about the Godzilla pantheon) than experiencing it myself. But after initially raising an eyebrow and walking past this latest [...]]]> Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Simon Gane
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

I’ll admit that I’ve only seen a small percentage of Godzilla films, knowing more about the property via its reputation (and friends who get excited about the Godzilla pantheon) than experiencing it myself. But after initially raising an eyebrow and walking past this latest Godzilla comic, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to take a look at what Duane Swierczynski and Simon Gane came up with. And I must say, I’m quite pleased that I did so.

Swierczynski and Gane have created in Godzilla a world that is regularly ravaged by gigantic monsters, one to the point where architects and builders actually create "monster-proof-towers" in cities like Washington DC. That’s where most of Godzilla #1 takes place, as Boxer (a Jason Statham stand-in) serves as a bodyguard for Gwen Murakami, the 15-year old daughter of a Japanese billionaire who’s helping rebuild the District of Columbia. When all the various monsters rise up and start attacking different parts of the globe, it’s Godzilla itself who of course attacks DC, leading to Boxer and Gwen having to try a harrowing escape from the rapidly crumbling (and not as monster-proof as it claimed) tower. And from there, the insanity just grows, with Boxer pulling together his team to stop the monsters. That’s what I think is so ultimately fun about Godzilla; it’s completely off the way crazy and in a fun way.

This is, after all, a series that opens with a same-sex wedding in Mexico City getting interrupted by a massive spider attacking, and one of the grooms being not only a feared killer but also vowing revenge. Swierczynski is going for the, "Wait, WHAT?" reaction from his readers, and that makes sense. This is, after all, a Godzilla comic book. Subtlety would be utterly wasted. Instead it’s loud, in-your-face, you-cannot-ignore-this moments from start to finish. If this was a remotely serious comic I’d probably roll my eyes at the movie cliches on display here, but instead I found myself cheering them on. Swierczynski understands the tropes and deliberately exploits them with a wink at the reader, and the end result is remarkably funny.

Gane’s art is probably my favorite I’ve seen from him to date; it’s a handsome, solid style that at the same time can go for lots of little, intricate details. When Godzilla first attacks the tower, for example, Gane draws Boxer as a compact and solid man (the resemblance to Jason Statham being something I wasn’t joking about earlier, although it’s rather apt considering that I could see Statham starring in a film of this comic). But as things fall apart around him, Gane draws all the little shards of glass falling, or takes the time to detail in Boxer’s stubble on his chin, and the hairs poking up through his open-collared shirt. Gane can handle the big and the small, and I’m finding myself blown away by just how great this comic looks. It’s another huge leap forward for Gane (and when I saw his art on Northlanders last year I was also quite impressed then), and I’m eager to see even more from him.

Godzilla is wonderfully silly and over the top, and it’s got the perfect two creators to tell this story. Swierczynski and Gane are clearly having a blast here, and guess what? So will you. Don’t worry that it’s Godzilla. Just think of it as the next incredible action film with huge killer monsters, but told in a comic book format. Cheer on the heroes or the monsters, it doesn’t matter, Godzilla is just fun from start to finish.

]]>
Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #1 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2012/05/14/frankenstein-alive-alive-1/ http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2012/05/14/frankenstein-alive-alive-1/#comments Mon, 14 May 2012 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/?p=2272 Written by Steve NilesArt by Bernie Wrightson32 pages, colorPublished by IDW

In comics, Bernie Wrightson is probably best known for co-creating Swamp Thing. Outside of comics, though, it might be his illustrated edition of Frankenstein. I remember looking at the beautiful illustrations back in the mid-’80s and being entranced by the gorgeous drawings of Frankenstein, [...]]]> Written by Steve Niles
Art by Bernie Wrightson
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

In comics, Bernie Wrightson is probably best known for co-creating Swamp Thing. Outside of comics, though, it might be his illustrated edition of Frankenstein. I remember looking at the beautiful illustrations back in the mid-’80s and being entranced by the gorgeous drawings of Frankenstein, the monster, and the situations that Mary Shelley had come up with back in 1831. Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #1 is in many ways a spiritual heir to that project, operating as a direct sequel to Shelley’s novel with a story written by Steve Niles. And so far? It’s got that tone down pat.

Set a century after the original novel, Niles and Wrightson cast Frankenstein’s monster as a member of a carnival sideshow, appearing day in and out to scare bystanders that have paid to see… himself. By this point the novel Frankenstein has passed into the public awareness, but believing it as a piece of fiction rather than a true story. It’s a neat little twist for a sequel, a strange sort of mixture of our world and that of Frankenstein itself. Frankenstein’s monster (who in accordance with pop culture goes by just Frankenstein himself now) is trapped in a corner in terms of surviving in any other way, and the entire set-up makes perfect sense.

More importantly, Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #1 captures that dark, melancholic tone that I remember from the later chapters of Shelley’s novel. That gothic horror is alive and well here, with Frankenstein yearning for death even as he continues to live on well beyond his creator. The comic might be called Frankenstein Alive, Alive! but in many ways this is more of a living death for the poor creature, desperate for oblivion but unable to achieve it. It’s a good first chapter to this story, one that will eventually look handsome on a shelf next to the Wrightson-illustrated edition of the novel.

Wrightson’s art looks gorgeous here; it’s shot off of his black and white illustrations, but with touches of blue added to some of the backgrounds of the book. The end result is a visual that’s as moody as the writing itself; the deep blues are anything but cheerful, reminding me of dark watercolors that threaten to drown the characters of the book. I could look for hours at each page; the trim on the monster’s robe as he talks to his creator, the individual snowflakes, the crests of snow ridges as the monster a century earlier seeks an icy tomb. There’s so much to marvel and take in here, with Wrightson carefully creating intricate buildings and streets in a town, or every little plant in the background as the monster crawls through the forest. Wrightson’s a master of the comics industry, and this comic is a firm reminder on how he achieved that status.

My only quibble is that I found myself wishing that Frankenstein Alive, Alive! had been published right away as a graphic novel instead of as a serialized comic. IDW sweetens the deal by including the first third of Shelley’s novel in the back of the comic, as well as a conversation between Niles and Wrightson about Frankenstein, but this is a book that I think will read better as a unified whole. Still, it’s a handsome comic, and one for which I’m eager to see more. All in all, good stuff.

]]> http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2012/05/14/frankenstein-alive-alive-1/feed/ 3
Popeye #1 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2012/04/25/popeye-1/ Wed, 25 Apr 2012 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/?p=2263 Written by Roger LangridgeArt by Bruce Ozella32 pages, colorPublished by IDW

It was only a couple of years ago that I read the first volume of the original E.C. Segar Thimble Theatre comic strips that are better known as Popeye. If you’ve never read them before, they’re a thoroughly enjoyable series of adventure comics about [...]]]> Written by Roger Langridge
Art by Bruce Ozella
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

It was only a couple of years ago that I read the first volume of the original E.C. Segar Thimble Theatre comic strips that are better known as Popeye. If you’ve never read them before, they’re a thoroughly enjoyable series of adventure comics about Castor Oyl (always looking for a get-rich scheme), Olive Oyl (his slightly abrasive sister), and Popeye (the sailor who usually gets dragged into Castor’s schemes). Reading IDW’s new Popeye #1, one thing became immediately clear: Roger Langridge and Bruce Ozella have clearly done their research.

Unlike the cartoons and everything that followed Segar’s original strips, there’s no magical spinach gulping that makes Popeye get crazy strong, no constant idiotic chuckle from Popeye, or constant mentions of Wimpy wanting hamburgers. There’s still a lot of humor in Popeye, but it’s a slightly dryer and more unexpected tone. When slapstick happens it’s surprising instead of ordinary, and Popeye himself is a much gruffer, no-nonsense kind of guy. Langridge uses all of this to his advantage, with the trio going in search of what might be a second Jeep (the mysterious creature that they found on an earlier adventure that appears to be one-of-a-kind) in order to make money. A lot of old old favorites appear (the Sea Hag, Bluto, and even Wimpy) in the story, which moves at a good clip and has just the right mixture of suspense and action.

What’s especially nice about Popeye #1 is that even as all of these faces from the strip show up, I never felt like I had know anything about the original Segar strips to enjoy this comic. Langridge quickly explains what Eugene the Jeep is and why he’s so valuable, for instance, and villains like the Sea Hag and Bluto are explained merely by the situations they’re in, no exposition beyond a single sentence necessary. There’s an old cliche about how every issue of a comic is someone’s first, but Langridge takes it to heart here. I think that’s a good thing; there are a lot of comic readers who have never seen the original Popeye stories, and this feels like a great introduction to Segar’s high adventure, slightly comedic style. And, really, it’s near-impossible to not love a comic where Popeye agrees to go on a crazy quest by saying, "I can’t stan’ t’ see a dumb animal cry on account o’ I got a heart like nobody’s bizness."

I’d never heard of Ozella before, but I like his art here. It’s exactly in Segar’s style, with the rounded heads, wiggly lines radiating out of people’s heads, and gruff expressions. Bluto just radiates menace, and his assistant looks like a huge slab of beef just ready to attack. He’s got a fun sense of motion for his characters, with Popeye’s arms whirling around like a windmill, or the way that he leaps and bounds through the air. It’s completely in character with what Segar did before, but it also manages to keep from feeling old-fashioned or less than natural; that’s a feat that few comic artists can manage when mimicking another artist’s style.

Popeye #1 is a comic where there are boats with "Secret Weapon X" levers that, when pulled, release a shark to attack other ships. It’s slightly ridiculous but completely awesome. I’m hoping that Popeye #1 creates a whole new group of fans for the character (and if so, do check out the collections of Segar’s strip from Fantagraphics as well!), because Langridge and Ozella are turning out a comic that’s too fun to ignore.

]]>
Memorial #1 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2012/01/09/memorial-1/ Mon, 09 Jan 2012 14:00:41 +0000 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/?p=1973 Written by Chris RobersonArt by Rich Ellis32 pages, colorPublished by IDW

I’ve enjoyed Chris Roberson’s writing on other people’s properties—finishing up the "Grounded" Superman arc, and writing the Fables spin-off miniseries Cinderella—but I think it’s his own co-creation iZombie that has impressed me the most. So when I heard that Roberson had a new creation [...]]]> Written by Chris Roberson
Art by Rich Ellis
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

I’ve enjoyed Chris Roberson’s writing on other people’s properties—finishing up the "Grounded" Superman arc, and writing the Fables spin-off miniseries Cinderella—but I think it’s his own co-creation iZombie that has impressed me the most. So when I heard that Roberson had a new creation with artist Rich Ellis in the pipeline involving a woman who lost her memories and a strange antique store? I knew I’d have to give it a whirl. And while these are early days, there’s enough in this first issue to have my interest officially piqued.

When Memorial #1 opens, Roberson doesn’t waste any time in getting down to business. In the first two pages we’ve met the memory-lacking Em, and by page three Roberson has moved on to introducing a new pocket reality called the Everlands, the villains that reside there, and (presumably) part of the reason why Em is missing her memories. Roberson clearly has a lot of back story and set-up to deliver, and that’s smart. By casting the various hooks out to the readers, he’s not assuming that everyone will have read interviews explaining what Memorial is about, but instead providing the big ideas as fast as humanly possible so that readers will encounter them and get intrigued.

Since Em herself is a bit of a blank slate, that’s a smart thing. Her personality will be, I suspect, the slow burn throughout this initial six-issue mini-series. Roberson has done an excellent job of slowly revealing facets of his characters over in iZombie, and I suspect we’ll get the same with Em and the (brilliantly named) cat called Schroedinger. Meanwhile, Roberson continues to pepper hints about the cosmos of Memorial, teasing us with lines about stolen moments getting turned into stories even as they’re grafted into the Everlands, or quietly setting up an invasion of statues by having them all appear in the backgrounds of scenes leading up to that moment. It’s a carefully, meticulously plotted first issue, and we’re all the much better for it.

Ellis appears to be a relative new-comer to the comics industry, but there’s a comfort in his art that makes him feel like he’s been around for a while. His people are drawn well; good anatomy and proportions, and he hits the expressions for key moments quite well. Our first look at Em’s face when she has no idea who she is, for instance, is one of bewildered shock, and her nervousness on the next page as she sits on the emergency room gurney is clear to the eye.

He’s also good with the settings of Memorial, though, and in some ways they’re the big stars of this first issue. The glimpse of the center of the Everlands is fun, with little islands and strange buildings dotting the river, a wonderful (and deliberate) mish-mash of styles and regions. Likewise, the Memorial store itself gets a great full-page spread when he first see its contents, a collection of knick-knacks and artifacts sitting side-by-side. Ellis needs to sell us on the idea that he contains anything and everything in a single glance, and I think he does so quite nicely.

Memorial is off to a good start; with five more issues in this initial mini-series it can, of course, go any direction from here. But it’s a promising opening, and the parts that I’d like to see fleshed out (namely the main characters) have room to do so. And after all, based on Roberson’s past comics work, that should be around the corner. For now, though, I feel like Roberson and Ellis have presented more than enough interesting material to bring readers back for a second issue. That’s exactly what a debut should do. Unlike the main character of Memorial, I’ll definitely remember to pick up the next installment.

]]>
Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #1 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2011/10/24/star-trek-lsh-1/ Mon, 24 Oct 2011 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/?p=1916 Written by Chris RobersonPenciled by Jeffrey MoyInked by Philip Moy32 pages, colorPublished by IDW

A crossover between the Legion of Super-Heroes and Star Trek seems like such a no-brainer that, similar to Aliens vs Predator, it’s hard to believe it’s taken so long for us to see it in comics. With the collision of these [...]]]> Written by Chris Roberson
Penciled by Jeffrey Moy
Inked by Philip Moy
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

A crossover between the Legion of Super-Heroes and Star Trek seems like such a no-brainer that, similar to Aliens vs Predator, it’s hard to believe it’s taken so long for us to see it in comics. With the collision of these two future-set groups of characters, though, Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #1 is an entertaining amount of set-up, but this is a mini-series that is clearly just getting started.

Most of Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #1 is aimed at putting the crew of the Enterprise and a select group of Legionnaires (Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Brainiac 5, Shadow Lass, Chameleon Boy) into an altered timeline for both characters, one where the Imperial Planets attacks those who won’t join, pillaging its way across the galaxy. It’s a smart move, putting both groups into unfamiliar territory instead of having just one be the fish-out-of-water. It is hard to ignore the fact, though, that the two properties never have their characters meet each other in the first issue, though. Never mind that we haven’t gotten a face-off between Spock and Brainiac 5 just yet, this is a comic where each is unaware of the other’s presence.

Instead, the mixes we get are the littler, background ones; Talokians working as shock troops for a starship with humans, Andorians, and Orions on board, and an attack on the Durlans. Chris Roberson is clearly building his new world for everyone to see, and he does a good job with the voices of the main characters to make everyone sound right. He’s also smart to keep the groups of characters small on each side; Scotty is left behind on the Star Trek side, while the Legion has just six characters instead of the entire dozens of members that could have shown up.

The big draw for the first issue is seeing Jeffrey Moy and Philip Moy tackle the Legion again. Jeffrey Moy in particular penciled almost the entire post-Zero Hour run of Legionnaires, and having him reunited with the characters that created his career is a lot of fun. Jeffrey Moy’s also tackled the Star Trek universe before (I remember him drawing some Star Trek: Voyager one-shots years ago), and his clean, rounded art style is a welcome return to comics. He draws that smarmy smile on Kirk’s face that I remember from years ago quite well, and the Legionnaires themselves are definitely on point and true to form. I also like contrasts between the two locations that the teams appear in; the Star Trek crew’s being gleaming and shiny in the heart of the Imperial Planets stronghold, dingy and grimy where the Legion have landed.

Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #1 is off to a slow start, but this is a comic aimed squarely at hitting the nostalgia button. It does a good job of that, and there’s no doubt in my mind that its target audiences will definitely be on board for more. And I’ll admit that yes, that includes me too. If nothing else, I want to see what happens when the characters finally meet up. There’s a lot of promise here.

]]>
Star Trek #1 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2011/09/21/star-trek-1/ Wed, 21 Sep 2011 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/?p=1869 Written by Mike JohnsonBased on a teleplay by Samuel A. PeeplesArt by Stephen Molnar32 pages, colorPublished by IDW Publishing

Of all the various Star Trek comic book ideas, I think IDW’s new Star Trek series has one of my favorites to date. For those unfamiliar with the most recent Star Trek film, it tells the [...]]]> Written by Mike Johnson
Based on a teleplay by Samuel A. Peeples
Art by Stephen Molnar
32 pages, color
Published by IDW Publishing

Of all the various Star Trek comic book ideas, I think IDW’s new Star Trek series has one of my favorites to date. For those unfamiliar with the most recent Star Trek film, it tells the story of Kirk and company’s first adventure together. As part of it, there’s time travel involved, and the timeline ends up getting altered. And so, with this new status quo in effect… this Star Trek comic is now showing us stories from the original Star Trek television series, but with this new cast of actors and relationships firmly in place. In other words, it’s Star Trek: The Original Series: The Really Special Edition. Brilliant.

This first issue of Star Trek begins its adaptation of "Where No Man Has Gone Before," and it’s at this point that I should admit that I’ve only seen a handful of original Star Trek episodes. (I know, this is a gap in geek knowledge I really should fix.) Based on what I do know about the episode, though, it feels fairly faithful to me, and it’s entertaining. (And after all, isn’t part of the idea of this series to appeal to those who haven’t seen the original episodes?) Even I was able to catch some little tweaks that Mike Johnson’s script added (the presence of Chekhov, who didn’t join the original series until the second season, Spock’s relationship with Uhura carrying over into the comic, or Kirk’s racing through the Academy process because of the recent film), but none of them felt intrusive or out of the ordinary.

It also feels to me like Johnson’s able to use this altered timeline to his advantage; guest characters from the episode are given importance by having it pointed out that they aren’t already main people on the bridge only because they weren’t on that initial adventure, for example, but they’re now being added into the mix. It makes you feel like they’re more than just random guest stars of the week, but in fact a real part of the running of the Enterprise. And while Johnson is lucky to have a strong episode script to adapt from, it is worth noting that Star Trek #1 flows quite smoothly in the shift from television to comic book; so many adaptations to comic come across as jerky or threadbare, and this is neither.

Stephen Molnar is in charge of the art for Star Trek, and I’m impressed in that he’s able to both nail all of the actor likenesses (by all accounts an extremely thankless task on a licensed comic) and also keep the art feeling lively. Looking at the characters, I can see the likenesses of Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and company all shine through; people who have only seen the Star Trek movie won’t be lost at all by the shift to a comic. Molnar is also able to liven up some of the visuals; having non-human aliens running around on the ship is a nice touch, and a way to both update the comic while still staying true to the original source material ideas. That said, if there’s one thing Molnar does probably need to work on, it’s exploding Enterprise consoles. Even I know it’s a pretty familiar sight from the show, and when we get three explosions in rapid succession, it’s already feeling like a slightly stale and unenthusiastic illustration. Better get used to drawing those, Molar.

Star Trek #1 kicks off a clever twist on the licensed comic. It’s aimed firmly at the new readers, but simultaneously has appeal to some older fans to see how everything lines up in the new continuity. And of course, with Johnson working off of existing scripts, it certainly makes life easier in terms of the writing process. I was entertained by this issue, and while I still do mean on watching those original episodes one of these days, this feels like a fun way to catch up bit by bit in a different manner.

]]>
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2011/08/29/tmnt-1/ Mon, 29 Aug 2011 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/?p=1824 Story and layouts by Kevin EastmanStory and script by Tom WaltzArt by Dan Duncan32 pages, colorPublished by IDW

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of those comics where a surprisingly high number of people in the world know who the characters are, but few actually know the original incarnation. That’s the one created by Kevin [...]]]> Story and layouts by Kevin Eastman
Story and script by Tom Waltz
Art by Dan Duncan
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of those comics where a surprisingly high number of people in the world know who the characters are, but few actually know the original incarnation. That’s the one created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in 1984 through a self-published comic, and which might startle people only familiar with their mid-’80s animated series, or the live-action movies from the ’90s, or even the Archie Comics version based off of the cartoon. Unlike all of the spin-offs, the original was a dark, brooding, and somewhat violent story; now, over a quarter of a century later, they’ve been rebooted again, and this new incarnation lends itself quite strongly to that original vision of the characters.

In this reset of the characters, the turtles have abandoned a lot of the childlike goofiness that got added to the property when it was aimed at children. Catchphrases, jokes, even the four different-colored headbands are all abandoned as the comic slips back to those early stories, where personalities and weapons are how you told the four apart, and in general the Turtles were living a secretive, dangerous, grim life. Eastman teams up with Tom Waltz to plot out a story that begins in media res, with three of the Turtles working with their sensei Splinter as they fight a street gang led by a new cat-villain named Old Hob, even as Raphael has struck out on his own.

It’s a solid if slightly short opening; we see how the Turtles are operating in the present day, while also getting glimpses of their new origin. Instead of getting splashed by radioactive material (in a nod to the Daredevil comic’s first issue), they’re now test subjects from a local lab; presumably it’s where the mutated Old Hob character comes from, and with quite possibly additional humanoid animals around the corner. And while we see old characters April O’Neil and Casey Jones here, they’ve each got new roles as well, even if those appearances are brief for now. My only worry is that in general the comic feels slightly short; things are barely getting moving when it comes to a conclusion, and I can’t help but feel like Eastman and Waltz are relying at least a bit on nostalgia for the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to carry readers through to the next issue.

Dan Duncan draws over layouts from Eastman, and I’m overall pleased with the end result. Duncan’s art reminds me of a mixture between artists like Jim Mahfood and Rick Leonardi; there’s a blocky, simple look to the characters but we then get those interesting squiggles in April’s hair, or the ridiculously cute original forms of the turtles as they motor around their terrarium. Eastman’s layouts serve Duncan well when it comes to the fight scene that opens the comic; it’s energetic and easy to follow, even when shifting from one Turtle to the next with each panel. The overall look might be a little cheerier than people would expect based on the script, but it tells the story well enough that I think he’s a good choice.

IDW is in the midst of a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles re-launch; not only do they have this reboot of the comic, but around the corner are two hardcover collections of Eastman and Laird’s original eleven issues (plus the four one-shots that came out around the same time, and all of which are fully restored). When I first heard of IDW bringing all of this into print, my initial thought had been to make sure to pick up the hardcovers. Now that I’ve read this first issue of the reboot, I’m entertained enough to come back for a second look. I’d like the pacing to get moving a bit faster, but for now the added hint of nostalgia is enough to make me interested. There’s no "cowabunga!" or "turtle power!" rallying cries here (save for a sidelong thumbing of the nose at the former), and that’s the way I like my Turtles.

]]>
Torpedo Vol. 3 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2011/06/13/torpedo-vol-3/ Mon, 13 Jun 2011 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.readaboutcomics.com/?p=1799 Written by Enrique Sánchez AbulíArt by Jordi Bernet144 pages, black and whitePublished by IDW

Jordi Bernet is one of those artists whose work I admire every time I see, but whom I rarely encounter. With IDW publishing a series of reprints of Torpedo, a European comic about an Italian killer-for-hire, it seemed like the perfect [...]]]> Written by Enrique Sánchez Abulí
Art by Jordi Bernet
144 pages, black and white
Published by IDW

Jordi Bernet is one of those artists whose work I admire every time I see, but whom I rarely encounter. With IDW publishing a series of reprints of Torpedo, a European comic about an Italian killer-for-hire, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl and see a lot more of Bernet’s art in one fell swoop. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was just how brutal Enrique Sánchez Abulí’s scripts would be.

Torpedo Vol. 3 opens a story titled "Once Upon a Time in Italy" that flashes back to Luca "Torpedo" Torelli’s childhood, giving us a glimpse into his family life that involved a drunken father, a lecherous relationship with a school teacher, and violent abuse. It’s easily the best story in the volume, in part because it sets up everything that’s to come in Torpedo’s life. In reading this first story, I wasn’t expecting such a dark, wicked streak of humor from Abulí, one that continues throughout the Torpedo stories in general. It’s misogynistic, violent, and anything but family friendly, but it does so with a sly wink to the reader. So when Torpedo’s teacher gets hot for him every time a family member dies, it turns a dark moment into something with increasing humor. And when Rascal and Torpedo abuse and eventually kill a target in a crowded movie theatre, there’s something funny about their well-timed elbows to the face, comments about the female lead, and eventual drawing of guns.

That said, let there be no doubt whatsoever: Torpedo is an extremely violent comic. People who don’t want to read stories where death is an inevitability, or the protagonists sexually abuse the poor women who get in their way, should absolutely steer clear. Torpedo and company are horrible people, and it’s a fact that you need to agree with before you start reading these comics, or you’re just going to put yourself in a world of hurt. If you don’t mind the good guys always finishing last and being degraded (or worse), though, you’ll get a great deal of entertainment from Torpedo.

As for the art? It’s outstanding. Bernet’s characters are beautifully expressive, from wry sidelong glances right before attacking someone, to unadulterated surprise when opening up a safe reveals a midget with a pistol waiting on the other side of the door. Bernet pays attention to the fashions of the times; everyone’s dressed handsomely for the 1930s, and there’s variety in people’s suits and dresses. Cars, bridges, skylines, you name it, Bernet draws it. Best of all, the characters in Torpedo vary in attractiveness. This may sound like a strange thing, but it’s rare that an artist mixes handsome, beautiful, average, and homely characters all together; it feels that much more realistic, and it lets the truly beautiful people pop out in the crowd.

I quite enjoyed Torpedo Vol. 3, enough that I’m going to have to check out the earlier volumes before long. (As an added bonus, the legendary Alex Toth draws some of the stories in the first volume.) If you don’t mind your comics getting a little down and dirty (or if you’ve been enjoying Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of the Parker graphic novels), you’ll like Torpedo.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com | Powell’s Books

]]>