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The Walking Dead #100

July 25, 2012 Leave a comment

July 13, 2012

Title: Something to Fear Part Four

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard
Letters: Rus Wooton
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Cover Art: Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn
Variant Covers: Marc Silverstri & Sunny Gho; Frank Quitely; Todd McFarlane & John Rauch; Sean Phillips; Bryan Hitch & John Rauch; Ryan Ottley & John Rauch; Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn, Charlie Adlard
Editor: Sina Grace
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound

Let’s hear it for Robert Kirkman, shall we? Aside from a hit TV show and what will likely prove to be the highest-selling comic book of 2012, The Walking Dead is now a member of that ever-shrinking family of comic books that have lasted 100 issues or more… and this for a black-and-white character drama with no superheroes. That’s damn impressive.

Also impressive is the story we get here. Kirkman tells a great story, but he doesn’t go out of his way to make this some huge, mind-blowing, 100th-issue extravaganza. We get extra story pages here, but a lot of it is talking heads stuff. Rick and his friends are going out to take a stand against the mysterious Negal, leader of a group of survivors demanding unfair tributes from the group Rick’s people have fallen in with. Rick and company wind up in a face off with Negal, only to wind up captured, and forced into the most horrible situation a human could place them in.

There’s so much about this comic that’s impressive to me. The fact that the drama can come not from the zombies, but from the still-living, is really just the top of the iceberg to me. The fact that, after 100 issues, Kirkman can still legitimately amp up the drama regarding who will live and who will die… the fact that this issue ends with our heroes at a new low point, a point of rage and grief and pain that the reader will share… it’s remarkable that he can still do that after all this time.

Adlard pours it on this issue, turning out some of his best work. Pain, anguish… gore… he puts it all into these pages, turning out a stark look at a horrible world that’s nevertheless wonderfully entertaining to read.

This book is hard to read. But if it wasn’t, it would be worthwhile.

Rating: 9/10

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Thief of Thieves #1

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment

February 18, 2012

Title: Chapter One-The Thief and His Apprentice

Story: Robert Kirkman
Writer:
Nick Spencer
Art:
Shawn Martinbrough
Letters:
Rus Wooton
Colors:
Felix Serrano
Cover Art:
Martinbrough & Serrano
Editor:
Sina Grace
Publisher:
Image Comics/Skybound

Meet Redmond and Celia, two expert thieves – or, at least, one expert thief and a thief in training. This issue not only introduces us, but flashes back to the day they met, and how they began their odd journey together, with Redmond teaching her how to become a master thief. But despite the allure of his lifestyle, just how satisfying a life does Redmond really lead?

I tried this first issue for several reasons. Foremost, I like the creators involved. Nick Spencer is a fantastic writer, Shawn Martinbrough a great artist, and Robert Kirkman has proven himself to be an important creator behind-the-scenes of the comic book world, trying harder than anybody else I can think of to expand the boundaries of what the medium can offer in terms of different kinds of stories, not just doing the same thing over and over again. For that, if nothing else, I’m inclined to at least sample anything he’s willing to lend his name to.

Thief of Thieves #1 isn’t bad. It’s got wonderful art, and interesting characters with a dynamic that doesn’t feel like most other comic book partnerships. The fact that these are criminals instead of heroic characters further places this book outside of the norm, and the way the two of them meet is funny and entertaining.

That said, I’m not sure I’m sold on this book’s longevity. The first issue is good, but I have trouble seeing what’s going to happen long-term. At the moment, it feels like the beginning of a miniseries (which is actually what I thought it was when I read it, until I got to Kirkman’s text piece at the end). And it could be a great miniseries. But it’s a harder sell as an ongoing, and instead of simply finishing the story, the next few issues instead will have the task of convincing me to devote three dollars a month to this title long term. Fortunately, this is a creative team good enough to do that. Hopefully, they’ll pull it off.

Rating: 7/10

The Walking Dead #87

August 8, 2011 Leave a comment

August 1, 2011

Title: Send in the Clone-Bots        

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art:
Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones:
Cliff Rathburn         
Letterer:
Rus Wooton
Cover Artist:
Charlie Adlard
Editor:
Sina Grace              
Publisher:
Image Comics/Skybound

As the town still tries to recover, for some of our cast, things are falling apart. Rick’s guild over Jessie and Ron’s death and Carl’s injury continues to plague him, and even his lifeline to his lost wife seems to be ready to abandon him. Michonne is dealing with things in her own way, and Maggie comes to Rick with a very specific request. This is one of those quieter issues of The Walking Dead – no one dies, no one is in immediate jeopardy, even, and the only zombies we see are the ones Michonne is using to vent some frustrations, something that to her is barely dangerous at all. Yet it’s still one of the most compelling comics being published. The character drama has always been the hallmark of this series. If it weren’t for issues like this one, the issues that make us really care about the characters that we’ve been following, those issues that are full of blood and anguish wouldn’t really mean anything. The big issues may be why we read this comics, but issues like this are what give the big ones meaning.

Rating: 8/10

The Walking Dead #86/Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1

July 21, 2011 Leave a comment

July 17, 2011

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art:
Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones:
Cliff Rathburn
Letterer:
Rus Wooton
Cover:
Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn
Editor:
Sina Grace              
Publisher:
Image Comics/Skybound

While Rick Grimes stays glued to the bedside of his comatose son, Carl, the rest of his community is still trying to piece itself back together after the recent zombie incursion. Rosita turns to her only friend, having discovered that Abraham is having an affair with Holly, and Michonne tries to bury Morgan, piecing together her own shattered world in the process. We’re back into one of those “quiet zones” that Robert Kirkman so often attempts to trick us with. At the moment, things aren’t blowing up and nobody is in immediate danger of having their face eaten, so our heroes get to lick their wounds and catch their breath. Interestingly, we also see a shift in Rick’s attitude. Here, despite the fact that Carl could still die at any moment, Rick is planning for a long-term existence in this place. To the readers, who know that in this world “long term” often means until Kirkman decides the characters are too comfortable and starts throwing everything back into upheaval, that seems like a sort of fruitless prospect, but that’s not going to stop him. It’s hard not to respect that.

Adlard and Rathburn do what we want them to do – give us solid artwork with real emotion and a smattering of zombie gore. This isn’t a groundbreaking, earth-shaking issue of The Walking Dead, but it’s a fine example of the sort of character drama that so often exists in-between those issues.

And hey, if that wasn’t enough, we get a flip book this issue for no additional charge! So let’s see what’s in this other comic…

Title: The Devil of the Sixth Heaven (Man and Elephantman Part 1)

Writer: Richard Starkings
Art:
Axel Medellin
Cover:
Axel Medellin
Publisher:
Image Comics

I’ve heard of Richard StarkingsElephantmen series before, but I’ve never read an issue and didn’t really know what it was about. This issue really is a perfect introduction into this world. Evidently, in this universe a race of powerful “Elephantmen” (although other large, powerful animals like rhinos and hippos were also used) were created and bred for war. With the war over, though, the Elephantmen are having trouble assimilating into society. “Hip” Flask, our hero, is an Elephantman and a P.I. But as this issue opens only one of these is true – Flask wakes up as a human, memories of his other life fading, and he gets drawn into a case full of all the sex and murder you could want.

I hate to say, I really liked this issue. It’s a bizarre but well-crafted blend of science fiction and pulp detective fiction in a very unique setting and with gorgeous artwork. Even though this amounts to an “alternate reality” story, it gives me enough of the world of the regular comic that I feel like it’s a place I wouldn’t mind visiting. The time may have come to try seeking out these trade paperbacks, because this is pretty damn cool.

Rating: 8/10

Science Dog Special #2

June 24, 2011 Leave a comment

June 3, 2011

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Pencils:
Cory Walker
Inks:
Cory Walker
Colorist:
Dave Stewart & Chris Chuckry
Letterer:
Rus Wooton
Cover:
Cory Walker
Editor:
Sina Grace              
Publisher:
Image Comics/Skybound

Science Dog, Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker’s labor of love, returns in a second special that wraps up his first adventure. In the midst of a plot by his arch-enemy, Science Dog is abducted by a group of aliens who need his help to solve a fuel crisis. It takes SD longer to solve the problem than expected, though, and when he returns to Earth, he finds a war-torn wasteland. This is the sort of story we see a lot in comic books and science fiction. Something goes terribly wrong, so the hero decides to travel back in time to fix it. As he often does, though, Robert Kirkman has found a surprising twist to put on the story. Things aren’t as easy to fix as they usually are in stories of this nature, and we see Science Dog get trapped in a particularly heartbreaking loop. I won’t lie – for such fun and (essentially) goofy concept, Kirkman goes to some dark places here, and we get an ending that’s bittersweet at best. And damned if it doesn’t work. Cory Walker does his thing nicely – with the time-travelling Science Dog he finds some nice, subtle ways to differentiate between one and the other, not just in the length of his chin-fur, but in the way the character carries himself and the expressions on his face. It’s more subtle and, certainly, far more effective. Wonderful book, and I hope this isn’t the last we see of Science Dog.

Rating: 8/10