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Somebody’s First Comic Book: Emissary #1

August 15, 2011 1 comment

Wondering what Somebody’s First Comic Book is all about? The explanation is on this page!

TITLE: Revelations 1:4

CREDITS:
Writer: Jason Rand
Pencils:
Juan Perreyra
Inks:
Clayton Brown
Letters:
Bo Dukeshire
Colors:
Angel Marin
Editor:
Kristen Simon
Creator:
Jim Valentino
Cover Artist:
Juan Perreyra
Publisher:
Image Comics/Shadowline

PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: None. The cover looks like a bald giant is about to grab the Earth. Alternatively, a regular-sized bald man has shrunk the Earth to the size of a softball. I’m rather interested to see which one it is.

IMPRESSIONS: Neither, apparently. Emissary is an interesting little story that seems to follow multiple people’s reaction to a singular event: the appearance of a man in New York City that can evidently ignore the laws of gravity. Before his appearance we’re introduced to tw groups of people: a couple of people (they appear to be law-enforcement agents of some kind) whose hunt for a guy named Carson is interrupted as one of them struggles to deal with her divorce; and a reporter butting heads with his editor over whether he should pursue a “penny-ante mob story” or a juicier story that could bring down a senator. After this man floats into the air above New York, we watch an Air Force Captain angry over what she believes to be her marginalization in the department, even as jets scramble to track down this creature that has come to “bring you to enlightenment.”

The first issue ends on something of a cliffhanger, with our various cast members all staring up into the sky as the Emissary (as he calls himself) pulls off a very impressive display of power. We’re left not knowing who he is or why he’s there, is he there as a hero or a villain, anything at all really. I suppose that actually makes it a very good entry point for a new reader. And Jason Rand has done a very good job of making you curious. It’s a good starting point, and I wouldn’t mind reading the rest of it.

GRADE: B+

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Cemetery Blues #2

February 22, 2011 Leave a comment

March 15, 2008
Cemetery Blues #2 (Image Comics/Shadowline)
By Ryan Rubio & Thomas Boatwright

As Throckmorton and Falstaff lead the a team of hunters into the woods, their companions begin to doubt the truthfullness of their claims. Of course, then the actual monster shows up, it’s a different story. This is a really unique comic book — while last issue was more of a comedy with monster movie elements, this issue Rubio and Boatwright turn the formula around, emphasizing more of the horror side of the story. The humor is still there, but is no longer the focus. In both issues, though, there was a near-perfect balance of the two. This has the feel of an old EC Comic, but more detailed, with more room to really develop the characters and the world of the story. I’ve been highly impressed with Cemetery Blues.
Rating: 8/10

I Hate Gallant Girl #2

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

December 5, 2008
I Hate Gallant Girl #2 (Image Comics/Shadowline)
By Kat Cahill, Jim Valentino & Seth Damoose

Rene gets a second shot at being a hero as Blue Thunder gives her an identity of her own. When the new hero “The Tempest” upstages the new Gallant Girl in public, a feud erupts in the Fellowship of Freedom, made even more dramatic by the quick realization that not all heroes are to be trusted. Kat Cahill and Jim Valentino have really scored with this. It’s an exciting new story, it’s an original twist on the superhero genre, and the cliffhanger ending took me totally by surprise, which ain’t that easy to do anymore. My only small quibble comes in the artwork. While the scenes are dynamic and the style works very well, the real problem is in the faces. A big deal is made about how Rene lost the Gallant Girl pageant because she wasn’t pretty enough, but there’s simply not much of a distinction between the way her face is drawn and the way the “official” Gallant Girl looks. For such a major plot point, the artwork should be clearer. It’s not that big a complaint, but it does take the book’s rating down just a tad.
Rating: 8/10

I Hate Gallant Girl #1

December 29, 2010 Leave a comment

November 15, 2008

I Hate Gallant Girl #1 (Image Comics/Shadowline)
By Kat Cahill, Jim Valentino & Seth Damoose

Every ten years, a pageant selects a new young woman to bear the mantle of Gallant Girl. Renee Tempte has wanted to win the pageant her whole life, but despite having the skills for the job, she loses to a prettier, less effective girl. To add insult to injury, when she’s given the chance to prove herself in action, the people who choose Gallant Girl make her an offer that she’ll want to refuse. This is a really strong first issue. Kat Cahill has conjured up a really unique character with a story that a lot of girls will find relateable. The action here is good, and the fact that Renee finds an ally helps propel the story nicely. Seth Damoose is a good choice for this series. His style has the sort of clean, animated look that is popular in indie superheroes these days, and he’s still very dynamic with his action. Great first issue.
Rating: 8/10

Cemetery Blues #1

October 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Cemetery Blues #1 (Image Comics/Shadowline)
By Ryan Rubio & Thomas Boatwright

If you’ve ever wondered what Buffy the Vampire Slayer would have been like had it been created by Garth Ennis, wonder no more. Cemetery Blues, the new Shadowline title by Ryan Rubio and Thomas Boatwright, features two good ol’ blokes who are guided by a ghost to hunt down vampires, zombies and all sorts of undead menaces in-between a pint or two. When they mistakenly stake someone who was merely dead (rather than undead), they find themselves in the stewardship of a local priest who has been preparing for a undead ruccus of his own. This is a fun book — funny without being silly, and with a nice dash of menace from the monsters. Boatwright’s art also offers a great new dimension, mingling the monsters with the more comedic main characters very well. This miniseries is off to a fun start.

Rating: 8/10

Morning Glories #1

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

September 19, 2010

Writer: Nick Spencer
Art:
Joe Eisma
Colorist:
Alex Sollazzo
Letterer:
Johnny Loew
Cover:
Rodin Esquejo
Design:
Tim Daniel
Editor:
Kristin Simon
Publisher:
Image Comics/Shadowline

In this day and age, it’s risky to launch a brand-new comic with brand-new characters, no ties to any previously proven property, and creators who aren’t household names. And while those books may never be huge sellers, at least not right off the bat, they can at times make for one of the most surprising reading experiences of the year.

Morning Glories #1 introduces us to a cast of exceptional young people, all of whom have been accepted into the prestigious (and mysterious) Morning Glory Academy. But when they get to school, things are strange – phone calls home aren’t met with the expected response, odd frames seem to sneak into the school orientation video, and the kids find that they’ve all got an unexpected  link.

Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma had me sold by the end of the opening scene of this comic book. We’re looking at the sort of story where there’s obviously a ton of backstory to explore, where the characters have secrets even they may not be aware of, and where there seems to be a long-term plan in place for the heroes and villains alike. All of those are things I particularly like in a story – piecing together the mysteries is a game in and of itself, and keeps me coming back. As long as the creators roll out the puzzle pieces at the right pace (slowly enough to keep us interested but not so slowly as to bore us), this is a comic that could keep me intrigued for years. And I love that.

The gorgeous art by Joe Eisma and colorist Alex Sollazzo is the icing on the cake for me. The artwork is wonderfully rendered, with characters that each have their own distinctive look even respective of hair color and clothing style, and that really helps to give each of our principals his or her own identity even before the first issue ends.

This is one of the best first issues I’ve read in a very long time.

Rating: 9/10

Shadowhawk (2010) #3

August 27, 2010 Leave a comment

August 16, 2010

Title: Resurrection Part 3

Writer: Dan Wickline
Art:
Tone Rodriguez
Inker & Colorist:
Frank Bravo
Letterer:
Ed Dukeshire
Cover:
Whilce Portacio
Editor:
Kristen Simon
Publisher:
Image Comics/Shadowline

Paul Johnstone is back on the streets, hunting for a murderer who has co-opted the routine of a stage magician who was famous for revealing the secrets of the trade. Paul isn’t having the easiest time himself, of course – returning from the dead doesn’t exactly restore one’s legal status, especially if you’ve been dead as long as Paul has been, but that’s not going to stop him from trying his damndest to clean up the streets.

This is a case where a comic book is actually hurt by the failings of another comic. Paul’s return happens in the pages of the Image United crossover. Unfortunately, that book is so horrendously delayed (and, to be frank, just plain horrendous) that three issues after his new solo series began, the parent miniseries hasn’t even gotten past the second issue yet, and there hasn’t been so much as a glimpse of Paul Johnstone in the first two. We already know the results of that miniseries, but the story hasn’t gotten there, and frankly, the excitement for that story has died off almost completely. It’s not really fair to hold that against this comic, but it’s also inevitable.

The book is further damaged by weak art. The layouts and figures are okay, but the finishes are very rough and uneven. Frank Bravo is a stronger colorist than inker, and it comes across in this issue.

I’ve been a fan of Shadowhawk since his earliest incarnation, and I’ll almost always be willing to give a new incarnation of the character a chance to grab me. This one is struggling, though.

Rating: 6/10