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The Imaginaries #3

June 27, 2012 Leave a comment

August 6, 2005

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Lost and Found Part Two

Is Superhero G a hero from the past?

Writers: Mike S. Miller & Ben Avery
Pencils: Greg Titus
Colors: Salvatore Aiala
Letters: Bill Tortolini
Editor: Mike S. Miller
Cover Art: Mike S. Miller
Publisher: Image Comics/Alias Enterprises

After something of a wait, the third issue of Mike S. Miller’s The Imaginaries hits. When last we left Superhero G, the newest citizen of the Imagined Nation, he was standing up for an abused faceless denizen of this strange world, coming under assault by a mob of the ruling caste – militant teddy bears. It’s kind of silly, I know, but in a world populated by discarded imaginary friends, the whole thing makes perfect sense.

As he switches back to his “secret identity” and makes his way among the other residents of the city, we learn that his appearance in the city may not be entirely unexpected. Some of the long-time residents of the Nation remember another superhero, another one clad in red, white and blue, another one who bore a “G” on his chest. Could Superhero G really be the second coming of a legend?

I was a little surprised to see Millar introduce the messiah aspect of the story – it’s not somewhere I really expected this title to go, but so far it seems to be working quite well. I doubt that storyline will be resolved one way or another before the end of this initial miniseries, but we all know there will be more stories from Alias in the coming months. Ultimately there’s only two possible resolutions – either he is the “chosen one” or he isn’t – but either of those can be a good story if played properly.

The story in this issue is just as sharp as the last two, but the artwork isn’t. It looks a bit too compressed at points, like the panels are being smooshed. At other points, it’s the opposite problem – panels that look stretched out. The design and look of the city and characters is still inventive as ever, it’s just the execution that seems off. There’s no inker credited this issue and I wonder if that might be part of the problem – Miller may have needed somebody to go over this with a talented pen and give it more depth.

I’m quite enjoying this series – Miller is one of the most creative people in comics today and I love all of the different corners of Alias Enterprises. This issue is no different, it’s just a little weak in the art department.

Rating: 7/10

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Lullaby: Wisdom Seeker #4

June 6, 2012 Leave a comment

July 23, 2005

Quick Rating: Great

The march to Oz continues!

Writers: Mike S. Miller & Ben Avery
Art: Hector Sevilla
Colors: Ulises Arreola & Djoko Santiko
Letters: Bill Tortolini
Editor: Mike S. Miller
Cover Art: Hector Sevilla
Publisher: Image Comics/Alias Enterprises

The inaugural miniseries of Hector Sevilla’s Lullaby draws to a close this issue, and I must say, it’s a highly satisfying end to the first story arc that leaves you thirsty for the new series, coming this fall from Alias.

As Alice, Red Riding Hood, the Cheshire Cat and the Pied Piper continue their march towards Oz, they finally meet up with Jim Hawkins, trying desperately to free Pinocchio from the bonds of the World Tree. Merged with the giant tree, Pinocchio finds himself forced to face off against a giant robotic woodsman that’s destroying the forest.

A giant woodsman? That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? As someone says in this issue, all things are pointing back to Oz, which may be one of the reasons I love this series so much. I’ve always been a fan of all things Oz, and it seems that this is the direction all of these disparate fantasy stars are going in. That’s what I enjoy, the patchwork, the thrill of seeing these characters come together. I’ve often compared this comic to Bill Willingham’s Fables – that’s because both titles have the same basic appeal, that of seeing so many different stories come together.

Sevilla’s artwork is really good here. I know some people just don’t like the manga influence, and that’s really their loss, because if you can get past that you see some really amazing things. Come on, a fifty-foot Pinocchio slugging it out with a robot lumberjack? How can you not see the appeal in that?

This issue has the most action we’ve seen yet, and it’s all well done. We get to see just how much Jim’s shark-sword is capable of, we get to see how the others will do in combat, and we get the feeling that there’s still a lot more to come.

This issue does exactly what you want in the last issue of a story arc – it gives us a satisfying conclusion for the introduction, but it leaves us wanting more, and that’s going to bring us back when the series goes ongoing in September.

Rating: 9/10

Lullaby: Wisdom Seeker #3

February 1, 2012 1 comment

July 2, 2005

Quick Rating: Very Good

As Jim searches for Pinocchio, Alice and Red Riding Hood take up a new quest.

Writers: Mike S. Miller & Ben Avery
Art: Hector Sevilla
Colors: Ulises Arreola & Djoko Santiko
Letters: Bill Tortolini
Editor: Mike S. Miller
Cover Art: Hector Sevilla
Publisher: Image Comics/Alias Enterprises

With Pinnochio missing, Jim Hawkins continues his search for his lost friend. Meanwhile, Alice, Piper and Red Riding Hood continue on their search for the disturbances that have been wreaking havoc on Wonderland – and all roads lead to Oz.

As the story of Lullaby continues, the writing starts to sharpen. In the last two issues, one of the few problems was how abruptly the book shifted from one set of the characters to another. It was almost as if you were reading two entirely different stories with similar themes. This issue the writers blend the two stories much better, cutting back and forth between the various tracts, giving the whole thing a much greater sense of connectivity.

The individual stories are getting better too, as we see more and more how these versions of the characters differ from the classics, and how the stories flow together. Alice and her crew make it to a bridge with a trial-by-combat requisite for crossing… and the combatants are goats. Meanwhile, we see what’s become of Red Riding Hood’s missing grandmother, who is in the clutches of a very familiar villain.

Not unlike Bill Willingham’s Fables, much of the appeal of this title is seeing how so many familiar characters and concepts can be changed and mutated, and ultimately, how they are pieced together. With just one issue left, though, it’s hard to imagine that the miniseries will reach a satisfying conclusion. This isn’t too big a deal – the ongoing series that will follow this up has already been solicited as launching in September, but at the same time, you’d want an inaugural miniseries to stand on its own.

Hector Sevilla, artist and co-creator, is in top form here. I know some people are put off by the rather Manga-esque form the artwork takes, but as long as it’s on an appropriate project, that doesn’t bother me at all. He does a really fantastic job reimagining the characters, The designs are really clever and offbeat, and the scenery and backgrounds are just beautiful.

This is a wonderful little all-ages tale, the sort of thing parents and their kids could be sharing together. And who knows – if your kids enjoy the comic enough, maybe you can use it to get them to pick up a few books without pictures, too.

Rating: 8/10

Opposite Forces (2005) #3

September 12, 2011 Leave a comment

November 16, 2005

Quick Rating: Very Good

What can Marty and Alexis do with their powers?

Writer: Tom Bancroft
Pencils: Tom Bancroft
Inks: Cedric Hohnstadt
Colors: Josh Ray
Letters: Greg Hardin
Editor: Sean J. Jordan
Cover Art: Tom Bancroft
Publisher: Alias Enterprises/Funny Pages Press

I seem to fall more in love with this title each issue. Tom Bancroft has taken all of the conventions of superhero comics and poked fun at them, but in a loving fashion that’s as entertaining as anything on the market.

Marty and Alexis, the neighbors who accidentally absorbed all the powers of Captain Dynamo, were stunned last issue when Marty’s dog, Bopper, started talking. Their pets got something from the power transfer as well, it seems, and the new super-genius dog begins explaining what really happened to them. Meanwhile, stuck in a hospital, Captain Dynamo struggles to break out and get his powers back.

Bancroft has really created a great comic book here. In addition to telling a funny story, he’s made his characters far more than the caricatures one may have expected them to be at first glance. Marty’s got a huge crush on Alexis, but he doesn’t think she’s flawless, either, and isn’t even so intimidated that he won’t crack a joke or laugh at one at her expense. Alexis has begun her journey as sort of a stereotypical pretty girl, but this issue we do see that she has the qualities of a real hero, even if they’re sometimes misplaced. The characters are actually layered, actually real, and that sets this apart from a lot of the superhero parody comic books out there.

The artwork, again, is wonderful. Bancroft’s background in animation really shows through, as his panels look wonderfully fluid and his character’s “acting” – those small poses and facial expressions that make a comic book look real – are absolutely wonderful.

The issue ends with a major cliffhanger to lead into the final issue in this miniseries, but the “next issue” box refers to the end of the “first story arc” – which really gives me hope that Bancroft already has plans for the next story starring these characters. They deserve it.

Rating: 8/10

The Imaginaries (2005 Series) #2

July 19, 2011 Leave a comment

June 6, 2005

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Lost and Found Part Two

Superhero G learns the ropes of the Imagined Nation.

Writers: Ben Avery & Mike S. Miller
Pencils: Mike S. Miller & Greg Titus
Colors: Lynx Studios & Greg Titus
Letters: Bill Tortolini
Editor: Mike S. Miller
Cover Art: Mike S. Miller & Greg Titus
Publisher: Image Comics/Alias Productions

The second issue in, I continue to find mmyself very impressed with Mike S. Miller’s newest Alias production, The Imaginaries. In the first issue we met Superhero G, the imaginary friend of a boy who outgrows him when his parents are divorced. G finds out the hard way what happens to discarded imaginary friends – they are cast to the Imagined Nation, a walled city where teddy bears rule with an iron fist and anyone who doesn’t comply is cast out into the sandy waste beyond the city, where they will be forgotten and eventually fade into nothing.

This issue we see more of the city, including the hierarchy of the imaginaries that exist there. The less well-thought out an imaginary friend is, the greater the likelihood that they will be considered a second-class citizen, something that doesn’t sit well with Superhero G at all. What’s more, we also get an explanation for why the teddy bears run the show. It seems like a goofy concept at first, something that the creator just conjured up because it’s such a bizarre idea, but as it turns out there’s actually a very good reason for the bears to hold the reigns of power.

We also see how the imaginaries cope with the world that cast them out through a kiosk that allows them to look into the “real” world at the humans that created, then abandoned them. As you can imagine, this is very much a double-edged sword, and creates great pain in some of the imaginaries even as they are unable to stop watching.

Superhero G is our star, our viewpoint character, but the book is less about him than it is about the world that Miller has created. The real drawing point here is seeing the different, bizarre creatures inhabiting this comic book, seeing how that world was pieced together from pieces of our own, and seeing how those two worlds relate to each other.

Miller and Titus do a nice tag-team job on the artwork, with one handling the real world and one handling the imagined nation. They’ve got great visuals on the various creations, especially the “Nazi Teddies.” The unusual juxtaposition of those elements is one of the things that really sells the comic book.

I’m enjoying it. I’m a fan. Can’t wait to see where it goes next.

Rating: 8/10

Lullaby: Wisdom Seeker #2

March 11, 2011 1 comment

April 30, 2005

Quick Rating: Very Good

As Pinocchio faces a new threat, Alice may be meeting new allies.

Plot: Mike S. Miller & Andres Ledesma
Script: Mike S. Miller & Ben Avery
Art: Hector Sevilla
Colors: Simon Bork, David Curiel & Ulises Arreola
Letters: Bill Tortolini
Editor: Mike S. Miller
Cover Art: Hector Sevilla
Publisher: Image Comics/Alias Enterprises/DB Pro

Review: This new fantasy series from Alias Enterprises continues, and it succeeds on many of the same levels on the first issue. We open up on a strange, twisted version of Little Red Riding Hood, a girl who has somehow become half-wolf, and is now traveling the woods with the Pied Piper. Together, they come face-to-face with a rather hideous, porcine woodsman, as Alice looks on.

Meanwhile, Jim Hawkins and Pinnochio come to the rescue of a pair of familiar children that are lost in the wilderness. There’s a nice little battle scene, and we see more of what makes these characters different from their classic counterparts. (Halfway through the issue, for instance, it hit me why Pinnochio refers to himself as “it,” and it breaks the heart). We also get the first hint of the true menace in our prologue, as a mysterious figure (with a disturbingly familiar fashion sense) sets his sights on one of our heroes.

The first issue switched far too abruptly from one set of characters to the other. This issue is a little better about that, swinging back and forth between our two main groups of heroes freely, and helping the story feel more cohesive. It’s not perfect – there’s still not much of a hint as how the characters will come together in the second half of this miniseries (yes, an ongoing will follow from Alias after their deal with Image ends, but you’ve got to judge this on its own merits), and it’s never entirely clear what becomes of the children Jim and Pinocchio save.

Hector Sevilla, creator of the series, does a beautiful job on the art chores. While he does have some Manga flavor to his style, that’s clearly not his only influence – he has a lot of American superhero influence and does some really imaginative stuff for the monsters and creatures that are all over this book.

I’m still enjoying this comic book very much and highly recommend it for anyone who’s trying to lure in new readers, particularly young ones. However, I have to admit, I’m starting to suspect this is a story that will read much better in collected form.

Rating: 8/10

Opposite Forces #2

February 12, 2011 Leave a comment

October 27, 2005

Quick Rating: Great

Marty and Alexis examine their powers.

Writer: Tom Bancroft
Art: Tom Bancroft
Colors: Josh Ray
Letters: John Trent
Editor: Sean J. Jordan
Cover Art: Tom Bancroft
Publisher: Alias Enterprises/Funny Pages Press

The second full-color issue of Alias’s re-presentation of Opposite Forces is here, and every bit as impressive as the first. Taking up the story just seconds after last issue ended, Alexis is trying to shake off the electric shock she received with Marty and going off to work. That turns out to be a bit harder than she expected, however, when she find herself unable to control her newfound incredible strength – not to mention her new tendency to lift right off from the ground.

Marty, meanwhile, is drifting away on his own, and when he and Alexis come together again, they start to piece together the accident that transferred Captain Dynamo’s powers to them. What neither of them realize is that they may not be the only two who were affected by the jolt.

Bancroft’s comic continues to impress – he fleshes out his characters a good bit in this issue. Marty’s crush on Alexis isn’t quite as blind as it initially appears, and Alexis doesn’t immediately lose her reservations about her neighbor, but at the same time, seems genuinely flattered by some of his attentions. In other words, they both behave more like real people than caricatures.

What’s more, the artwork on this comic is nothing short of fantastic. Alexis feeling flattered, for instance, isn’t borne out by anything in the writing, but rather by the look on her face. Bancroft has a very good, very animated style, and his facial expressions are one of his absolute strongest parts. More than that, though, he knows how to lay out a page and how to tell a story, something a lot of artists these days are rather clueless about.

This comic is pure fun. It’s extremely enjoyable, a blast of joy in a comic market that seems to dwell on the grim far too often, and I for one really hope that Bancroft has plans to bring it back after the initial four-issue miniseries is re-presented.

Rating: 9/10