(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: WORLD OF ANIMOSITY #1
SECRET EMPIRE #10
NANCY DREW & THE HARDY BOYS: THE BIG LIE #6
SEVEN TO ETERNITY #9
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS ANNUAL #1
KILL SHAKESPEARE-PAST IS PROLOGUE: JULIET #4
HARBINGER: RENEGADE #7
Available next week (September 20th)!
WORLD OF ANIMOSITY #1Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artist: Rafael de Latorre & Juan Doe
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Reviewer: Justin Burkhardt and @justinburkhardt on Twitter
ANIMOSITY has been a huge hit for AfterShock comics since it debuted in August of 2016. For those who aren’t familiar with the series, ANIMOSITY explores a world in which animals across the world “woke up” and started thinking, talking, and plotting revenge.
The story follows Jesse Hernandez a young human girl and her bloodhound Sandor. Sandor does everything in his power to protect Jesse from the horrors that are happening in the world. Jesse and Sandor’s special relationship makes the series worth reading alone, but there’s way more to ANIMOSITY than just those two.
That’s where AfterShock’s new one-shot WORLD OF ANIMOSITY comes in handy. Not only does this one-shot do a great job of getting you up to speed of what’s going on in the first 8 issues of the series, it also gives you hints at what’s to come. The original ANIMOSITY series is a great read, but it’s really one small piece of a HUGE world that exists.
This one-shot gives you a look at what’s going in all the other states across America and also in some other countries across the globe. Marguerite Bennett (INSEXTS, DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS) has brilliantly created such a large universe that there is truly endless potential when it comes to exploring more stories. AfterShock will do just that, as another ANIMOSITY on-going comic called ANIMOSITY EVOLUTION will be releasing in October. There are a lot of pointless spinoffs that exist in comics, but this will not be one of them. Bennett, who is attached to write the new series as well, could write spinoffs for years before the world would begin to even feel stale because there’s that much material. I also think it’s possible other writers could tackle stories in the ANIMOSITY universe down the road as well (sign me up for one that takes place in Africa, because I love the story tidbits here on Hasana the Just).
I give the WORLD OF ANIMOSITY one shot a score of 4 out of 5 bloodhounds. It’s a great companion piece for those who already love ANIMOSITY, but it’s also the perfect jumping on point for those who haven’t checked it out yet. I’ll personally admit that while I read the first couple issues of ANIMOSITY, I fell off after issue #3. I was really enjoying it, but there are so many “older” titles that I read that ANIMOSITY just never became part of my routine. This one-shot has me hooked on the world of ANIMOSITY again. If you haven’t read the series yet, pick up the one-shot and if you like what you’ve read, then dig into back issues/trade paperbacks.
SECRET EMPIRE #10Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Steve McNiven with Rod Reis, David Marquez, Paco Medina, Juan, and Ron Lim (whew)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
So about five months ago we were all told, Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) was actually a Hydra agent. But, after helping Hydra win WWII, the remaining Allied forces used a Cosmic Cube to pull victory out of defeat by turning Steve Rogers into a champion of the Allied forces. At the behest of the Red Skull, the living Cosmic Cube in the form of a small girl named Kobik, transformed Steve back to his Hydra-self. Then he helped Hydra take over America here in 2017.
And comic book fans around the world lost their damn minds. How could Marvel do something so stupid, and so insulting? After all Captain America's creators, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, were both Jewish and they had Captain America fighting Nazis before the United States of America did! (NOTE: Hydra was created by two Nazis, the Red Skull and Baron Von Strucker during WWII to continue their world domination plans since they predicted Hitler would lose the war). Marvel and Spencer all assured us, that we were being a bunch of babies, and the story would justify the change of the character.
Well the story has finally ended, and I'm not so sure Marvel and Spencer were right. As the main thing that struck me as I read this final issue was, the main character and their story arc wasn't even in the d@mn story! You see, typically speaking, the main character of a story is the character who changes the most. And their story arc is the main undertone of the whole story. How a character goes from zero to hero, if you will. After reading the final issue, that character is Kobik (!) and 'she' is barely in the book at all!
Now, here are the spoilers: So Captain Hydra America has armed himself with a Cosmic Cube powered battle suit (though it's still missing a piece). Backed with so much power, Cap blows away the assembled heroes and does his best to restore the world to what it should have been, meaning Hydra winning WWII. Unfortunately for him, Captain Sam Wilson/ Falcon America still has the final piece of Kobik (which may or may not be an actual piece of Kobik, since it was barfed up by an Inhuman, but that's a whole another topic!). With that piece, he and Ant-Man, and Winter Soldier, were immune to Cap's restoring 'wish'. But surprise again, as Sam just gives the final piece to Cap. Once the cube is complete, Ant-man shrinks Winter Soldier down and shoots him into the cube. Because, the Winter Soldier figured out that Kobik would still retain a memory of “our” Captain America, and he could bring him and her out of hiding in the cube (I have no frick'n idea how he knows this or how it even makes sense it will work- but as Eddie Murphy once said about STAR TREK: “Why not? $h!t worked last week.”) So Kobik returns to 'her' child-self, un-dos Cap's Hydra restore and gives her memory of Captain America a body. A body that beats the crap out of Captain Hydra America- with (are you ready for the shock value?) Thor's hammer. Proving Captain America is worthy of using the hammer, but Captain Hydra America is not.
Did ya get that? Kobik, who caused this whole story to happen by restoring Captain Hydra America, in this issue laments doing that. So with this change of heart, she attempts to fix everything and set-ups up the conclusion of the story. So..... she's the frick'n main character!!!! This whole frigging story should have been about how she changes her mind and wants to return Captain America to the way he was. But she's so absent in the book, we barely get a recap on why she turned him into Hydra Cap and no reason on why she now thinks Hydra Cap is a mistake! WTF?
The second big thing that struck me about this issue, who the hell is Captain America?! You see at the end, Kobik didn't change Captain Hydra America back into Captain America. She created a brand new Captain America based on her memory of Captain America. How f'd up does that sound? In fact, at the end of the issue, Captain Hydra America doesn't even disappear into a puff of story logic- he's still here!?! As of this moment, we have two Steve Rogers(!): Restored Hydra Rogers and Kobik Memory Rogers. It's worse than DC's New 52 Superman and Rebirth Superman!
Now there is a ton more one can talk about with this issue, but I'll just go over the basic aftermath. Because with nearly everything else in this miniseries, it makes no sense. So, instead of waving her Cosmic Cube hand to restore all the damage that she caused, Kobik barely does anything: aside from giving her memory of Captain America a body. It's stated that she also restores history (whatever that means, because nothing changes in the present), but Black Widow and Rick Jones are still dead, the country is still in ruins, and everyone has to live with the damage done by a Hydra controlled U.S.A- damage that some of them/us even participated in. This seems really messed up to me. I think the cliché of “Wishing everything to back to the way it was” would have actually been a better ending. As in, “Sorry I screwed up- there everything is fixed” opposed to what we got, “Sorry I screwed up- guess you'll just have to live with it. I mean I could fix it but... well, I'm just not gonna.”
Then, as some kind of gift to the heroes, Kobik allows them to meet their former namesakes. And now you understand this current collection of GENERATION one shots.
Ok, time out to talk art. Despite so many artists being involved, the issue is well put together. There are a few panels with characters just standing, and then totally missing in the next panels. But I'm willing to believe that's just another flaw in Spencers' script. Overall, nothing really wowed me, but on some level that's how a feel about McNiven's work. He has great drawing skills, but his storytelling is rather mundane. Even the double page spread of Cap smacking Cap with Thor's hammer is just... nice. Either way, the art is clearly the high point of the issue (not the series, which had some really, really awful art).
As we end, I'm left with two final questions: 1- Who the hell was the narrator!? For eleven issues, someone droned on and on about fighting for hope and / or being broken hearted, but we have no idea who it was. Here's a thought: Kobik should have been the narrator. That way we could get her full story arc and the ending would have a real payoff. 2- Why the hell was each issue double covered? Did anyone enjoy that? Who at Marvel thought this was cool? How many trees died to print all those double covers!? Complete waste of time, money, physical space, and trees.
Finally, I'll point out something that happened in the final pages, that clearly illustrates this whole crossover event. The object barfing Inhuman, Brian McAllister, who was arrested for being an Inhuman in issue #1, is released from jail. He is met by his elementary school aged brother, Jason (a non-Inhuman, who wasn't arrested). After they embrace, they head off to their car and drive home. Who the f—k drove the car to the prison!? And that's SECRET EMPIRE in a nutshell. Nothing makes a lick of sense. Despite the controversial concept of (Nazi)Hydra Captain America, there was a ton of stuff in this story that should have made it good or even great. But instead on the Masked Man's scale of Crap, Poor, Decent, Good and Great, SECRET EMPIRE shocks me for scoring CRAP.
NANCY DREW AND THE HARDY BOYS: THE BIG LIE #6Writer: Anthony Del Col
Artist: Werther Dell ‘Edera
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
How is a finale issue affected when you know it’s not the end? I mean, obviously neither Drew nor the Boys were going to get killed by the end of THE BIG LIE, but what changes when Dynamite has already announced that the series has been picked up for a second run? Is the comic still able to maintain that heavy sense of tension and suspension that has hung heavily in the air throughout the past six issues?
I’ve been reviewing del Col’s work long enough to know not the question him. He always comes out on top in the end and I’m tired of eating virtual humble pie on Twitter.
While the sixth part of THE BIG LIE starts off with Nancy Drew recovering from seeing her Dad, the potential murderer of Fenton Hardy, being nearly murdered himself, the issue never stops asking questions. Why? What motive would he have? Who? Were there others involved? Plenty of accusations fly around, yet somehow in only twenty pages most of the important puzzles are solved while allowing room for some lingering speculation leading into the second series next year.
THE BIG LIE #6 highlights just what made NANCY DREW AND THE HARDY BOYS my favorite ongoing series of the year. Frank and Joe finally have clearly distinct personalities yet also equal in quality when it comes to dialogue and believable character choices. The issue balances its attention deftly between the boys and the series standout, Nancy Drew. The final issue also allows us to get a new angle of Ms. Drew, yet unseen: vulnerability.
But del Col knows when to take a backseat and allow Werther Dell ‘Edera to carry the story. Dell ‘Edera is not a man of detail. His minimalism borders on the abstract. The smears of color (thanks to Stefano Simeone), the roughness, all creates a necessary edginess and justification for these characters and tone. They aren’t brooding because they are mopey teenagers. Nancy and the boys are gloomy because that’s just reality in Bayport.
Hip is all too often associated with either hipsters or trendy, odd as they are diametrically opposed. In the past, hip was synonymous to cool and cool was meant to be elusive. Ever-changing. NANCY DREW AND THE HARDY BOYS are cool. They have survived through the generations, adapting as need me. THE BIG LIE is hip as it has surpassed the current movement to darken and twist beloved characters.
SUPERMAN #30Writers: Keith Champagne, Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason
Art: Doug Mahnke
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
This is going to be a weird “complaint” in a world of overstuffed comic book Events designed to suck all the dollars possible from a populace, like a nearly every weekend Golf Resort trip is to funneling tax dollars, but I kind of feel like a lot of shit went down in just two issues with this latest SUPERMAN story.
Now, I don’t want to see deliberate bloating of a story arc just to get some cheap sales, but when the thrust of your story is having motherfucking Parallax, galactic scourge and previous antagonist at the center of at least two big fucking Company wide crossovers taking refuge in the Man of Steel, I think just two issues do not really do such a plot justice.
The execution and resolution are fine – essentially the point is to show that even the most powerful man on Earth has the same every day fears for those loved ones around him and it makes him a temporary vessel for Parallax - but the impact is kind of lessened because the story just comes and goes. The Big Blue Boy Scout emotionally taking on a being that has scattered billions of lives across the cosmos going full circle in the span of forty pages ultimately is kind of a waste, though I do appreciate the restraint in a way.
But, it happened, it played all the right notes and it hasn’t really affected my already high opinion of the run, but it does feel like a shame and a waste of an opportunity.
SEVEN TO ETERNITY #9Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opena
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
So have you heard about SEVEN TO ETERNITY? It's what all the cool kids are loving. Mind you, I've never been a cool kid, so I'm finally just getting to it now. So stick with me if you want to know what it's like to jump in cold. Actually, not totally true, I picked up a few issues along with this newest one. Issue #1 is selling for a buck these days, ask your shop about it.
Anyway, this is Rick Remender's scifi epic. Remender has done a ton of work for Image and Marvel comics. Probably best known for FEAR AGENTS and, of course, the ill received AXIS crossover event. His collaborator is the highly talented Jerome Opena, who also worked on FEAR AGENTS and his Marvel crossover event was a bit more well liked, INFINITY.
So what's the set-up? Well on an alien world, in the land of Zhal, the overlord is the God of Whispers (the Mud King to people who don't like him). He can grant men's wishes, but in return they alow him access to their brains (like Facebook- which I'm willing to bet is where Remender got the idea). So he can see through their eyes and know what they know at anytime. Before he became the God of Whispers, he was a 'holy' Mosak Knight, with Zeb Osidis. Zeb is famous for being one of the only people to turn down his offer. Now, Zeb is dead and his adult son Adam has to deal with the Mud King. The remaining free Mosak Knights have attack the Mud King, but learn if they kill him, they will also kill everyone he is connected too. They plan to take him to a special temple to break that connection, but Adam makes a deal with him and helps him escape. You see, Adam is dying, and the Mud King has promised to take him somewhere he can be healed. And Adam sees no other way to provide for his family.
Now if that wasn't enough spoilers, here are the spoilers in this issue! As the Mud King and Adam travel to the Springs of Zhal, to cure Adam, they debate human nature and public perception. As they are about to reach the Spring, one of the free Mosak Knights attacks them: the White Lady. Big spoiler time: The Lady reveals her visions of the future show Adam's family becoming an even worse villain than the Mud King. In hopes of stopping that, she has been curing his family! She is the cause of Adam's illness- the same that killed his brother. Just when it seems she is about to kill Adam, the Mud King fires off one of Adam's spirit nails, bullets that call up dead ancestors. It calls up his dad, who kills the White Lady. But when he learns that Adam has made a deal with the Mud King, he returns back to the land of the death, disavowing Adam.
So there is a lot to this story, but each issue is rather slow moving. So it's not too cumbersome to jump into it. The main attraction here is Opena's art. Seriously, this is Eisner winning quality work. For a (some what) regular series, it's pretty close to Berine Wrightson's FRANKENSTEIN. Mind you, unlike Wrightson, Opena relies on some awesome coloring by Matt Hollingsworth to pull him across the finish line. Every page is beautiful and does an excellent job telling the story. Even if you hate this story, Opena's artwork is still worth the price.
As to the story, I'm not as blown away as everyone else seems to be. Mainly for one reason: I don't find any of the characters engaging. But I'm willing to accept this is just my opinion of engaging characters. Because everything else about the story is text book prefect. The setting is great, the mythology is great, the plot is great. And Remender keeps revealing background details in each issue, which just makes the series more and more rich. It's just a bummer that I don't care about anyone in the story. Mind you, Adam is a highly interesting character, as he is not your typical comic protagonist. But I guess that also why I don't connect with him.
Oddly enough, the best part of the book (aside from the art) are the honest to gosh philosophical debates: Adam's high ground vs the Mud King's justifications. This is the type of writing I wish was in Marvel's CIVIL WARS or AVSX. And comparing it to Marvel's latest crossover event, SECRET EMPIRE, the philosophy of the characters are way more intelligent and works so much better as a mirror for our current state of affairs. Which in a way boils down to: Do the ends justify the means, if 'everyone' gets what they want? Or as I compared it to Facebook: is Facebook evil, because people make willing sacrifices for convenience? So on an intellectual level, I loved this, but I read comics more with my heart. But I'm not everyone, so everyone- EVERYONE needs to try this book.
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.
RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS ANNUAL #1Writer: Scott Lobdell
Art: Tyler Kirkham
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Frida Gurewitz
Perhaps it was just the fact that one of my family members was listening to Lionel Richie’s “Hello” loudly in our kitchen was I was reading, but while reading RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS ANNUAL #1 I was struck by the bittersweet tone. Maybe not the soundtrack I would have chosen right off the bat to accompany this Scott Lobdell written and Tyler Kirkham illustrated comic but it strangely went well with the theme of lost relationship of Jason Todd and Dick Grayson dealt within its pages. When RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS ANNUAL #1 begins it introduces a world of off-color criminal carnies, being infiltrated by the group the Outlaws ( Bizarro, Jason Todd/Red Hood, and Artemis) to weed out Russian super-terrorists. The Outlaws, or well specifically Jason Todd have called upon Dick Grayson to help them out.
Its nice to see them working together even if its only between 34 pages.
It’s a rare enough occurrence to see the two ex-Robins getting along that it feels much more fresh and interesting. In fact it actually seems to be a deceivingly more intriguing then plot A, which is some nonsense about Russian mobsters. Honestly I was so uninvested in the resolution of finding out who the Russians were working for and why they were that I’ve had to refer to my notes and back to the comic itself multiple times just to remember that the plot was there and the specifics of it. The central plot itself seems to be more focused more on the lost brotherhood and semi-reconciliation of Jason Todd and Dick and Grayson. It takes up way more airtime. If this was Lobdells intention or not I’m not sure. I’m assuming it was since Nightwing is a much more interesting character to pair with Red Hood then the KGBeast or The Beast ever could be. As villains go he feels closer to Boris and Natasha then an actual Russian threat. Learning about how Todd and Grayson lament the loss potential of their relationship, peppered with some sweet funny anecdotes from Bizarro, makes the “slower” moments of this a lot more satisfying then the actual fight scenes.
As far as the fight scenes go though I was more intrigued by their composition than the actual action or even the words being thrown around during them. Kirkham does a fantastic and unique job of formatting the pages. Its not just simple evenly spaced panel page. Kirkham uses a lot of in sent panels on larger images. The characters themselves are also leaning into the view point. The arrangement of the characters across the page is unconventional and no positions are repeated. An example is we see the Beast hulking over “us”, a collapsed Red Hood and Artemis in the foreground in shadow. You can just catch of glimpse of Bizarro between the Beasts. Really the entire page is used to its entire potential. It’s refreshing to see perspective and arrangement used to its highest. It heightens the drama of the piece itself. It makes the eye dance across the page and makes the reading experience a much more dynamic one.
So would I recommend RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS ANNUAL #1? Sure. After years of reading about Robin on Robin hate it’s nice to see a little bit of reconciliation in such a fun read. It’s like watching two of your kids fight for years and finally seeing them awkwardly get along is super satisfying and feels well earned. And yes, in this situation I am the parent of both Robins. I’m choosing not to question the metaphor and neither should you.
KILL SHAKESPEARE-PAST IS PROLOGUE: JULIET #4Writer: Conor McCreery
Artist: Corwin Howell
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Prequels are a tricky business. Often, they are unnecessary, taking away an air of mystery from characters and storylines that were developed well enough to begin with.
Sometimes fans are best left to our imaginations. Backstories can be illuminating, but writers risk retconning well-established lore. Timelines don’t match up or personalities wildly change without logical reasoning for such a transition. Conor McCreery is at an even greater disadvantage, given only four issues to complete PAST IS PROLOGUE.
The final issue is the strongest, regarding pacing and dialogue, but how much does that say when you are comparing it to only three other mediocre issues. Juliet is being forced to marry Cornwall, after Othello betrayed her (a surprise that hardly was). As to be expected from his character, which is a rather accurate translation from play to this comic storyline, Othello regrets his actions and seeks to rectify his grievous mistake by asking for assistance from the Prodigals. Time is running out, but Juliet isn’t an inactive damsel in distress. One way or another, there will be bloodshed before she is wed.
As I just mentioned, McCreery has quite the understanding of Shakespeare’s Othello. He is a tragic and flawed man; whose intentions are noble even if his actions do not match.
This is the Othello we are treated to in PAST IS PROLOGUE and accurate to his portrayal in earlier KILL SHAKESPEARE runs. The fourth issue finally finds a meeting point of pre-KILL SHAKESPEARE (original issues) and the love-lost adolescent. We begin to see shades of what she is to become, but her transformation to kick-ass warrior does not come to fruition by this run’s end. It would have been illogical to have such a 180 degree turn in personality in only four issues, but it is also never established how much time passes between the concluding events in this book and when Hamlet meets our heroine.
Corwin Howell is no Andy Belanger, but that may be an unfair comparison when Howell’s style is so dissimilar. What issue four reveals is that Howell’s talents have been underutilized. It is in the melodramatic that his works shine. His visuals draw out the dramatic tension, with his bold style of penciling and severe expressions. Too bad the comic had so many light moments or instances of expositional conversations that hardly provided interesting material for Howell to work with.
I wouldn’t go as far to say that PAST IS PROLOGUE was an unnecessary entry in the KILL SHAKESPEARE lore. What it has shown us is that there is room for some preambles. Frankly I’d like to see how the villains came to form an alliance. Lady Macbeth was a terrific foil to Juliet and therefore a worthy predecessor for another attempt to set the stage for the events we were introduced to seven years ago.
HARBINGER RENEGADE #7Writer: Rafer Roberts
Artist: Darick Robertson
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man
As you may recall, a few issues ago, Omen convinced the government to declare war on psiots (meta-humans). H.A.R.D. Corps moved in on the teenage group Generation Zero, and killed about half of them. Now the original psiot team, Harbinger Renegade is trying to figure out what to do next.
So far this tale has been on par with UNCANNY X-MEN tales from the late 80's. So if you were a fan of those, you should probably start reading this quick! Because even though the battle is currently in a lull, and not much happens in this issue, Roberts still manages to keep things interesting and real.
Spoiler time, so like I said, H.R. is trying to protect themselves from H.A.R.D. Corps and figure out how to fight back. The team is hiding out on a farm, because they assume H.A.R.D. Corps will hit them next. Everyone is going a bit stir crazy on securing the place and waiting on what to do next. Meanwhile, Peter, their most powerful member, finds Animalia, a surviving member of Generation Zero. Young Animalia is just out for blood now, and Peter has to talk her down, and get her to rejoin H.R. Kris, the non-super powered leader of H.R. (go fig) wants to start recruiting every psiot and dormant psiot they can find. For their own protect and for building a force large enough to fight Omen and H.A.R.D. Corps.
And that's kind of it for this issue. Like I said it's slow, but at least well written. Then there's Darick Robertson's artwork. Which, under Walden Wong's inking, has softened and kinda simplified a bit. As always he does a good job illustrating a comic book. Unfortunately, like always, he still has a little clunkiness to some of his figures. It's funny, he so talented I keep expecting him to grow out of it, but not yet it seems. Still, that's nit-picky, this is a good looking book.
Again, any fan of teen heroes or superhero families should be buying this. It's just another solid title from Valiant. And I'm really curious how Roberts is going to transform this storyline back to a status quo. To which I mean, once all this hardcore killing stops, what will the new status quo be for the Valiant U, and how will these characters manage coexist again. To kick a horse when it's down, as I can see some similarities, SECRET EMPIRE should have been this good.
BATMAN #30Writer: Tom King
Art: Clay Mann
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
I’m at the point where I’m running out of dead horses to beat (also, I am apparently a psychopath who smacks around deceased, Equidae animals) but goddamn is this a great BATMAN run. I have had a couple quibbles here and there with how maybe writer Tom King’s script choices have been a little “distant” when it comes to driving home some of the impact this War of Jokes and Riddles have been having in the world of the Batman, but when his outlays land their blows, they lay goddamn haymakers.
This has been on no greater display than the “The Ballad of Kite Man” and just the brutal stripping down of a villain that’s D-list only if you’re grading on a curve. The level of tragedy character going on with this poor man living the definition of “sad-sackery” is on a level I have so rarely seen in any medium, let alone comics. And the licks he takes in this issue in particular and with the whole backdrop of the war and his role in it, just, man.
This is the material that has set aside Tom King as his name has risen the past couple years in the industry and that you need to humanize superhero comics beyond just the flair and grandeur of godlike beings pummeling each other into cosmic dust. I don’t know where we go from here or if this is the last we see of the one and only Kite Man, but even if this was the one note he was going to play it was the most thunderous one in the cacophony that was two of Gotham’s most heinous villains going for each other’s throats.
RAPTURE #4Writer: Matt Kindt
Artists: Cafu and Juan Jose Ryp with Francis Portela
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man
So Valiant's latest crossover comes to a close. I'm not quite sure why they needed so many artists to pull it off, but there you go. The four issue mini-series was created by Valiant's usual stable of creators, writer Matt Kindt and artist Cafu. Popular Avatar artist Juan Jose Ryp and Francis Portela, who worked on DC's New 52 LEGION OF SUPERHEROES helped to cranking out pages as well. All three artists are Spanish, which seems a bit weird to me, but again there ya go.
To get you up to speed, it seems the story of the “Tower of Babel”, had an actual guy named Babel behind it. Ever since then, Babel has been imprisoned in the Deadside (not too hellish). But now armed with the ability to mind control demons and the like, he is back to his old trick: building a tower to Heaven aka the Lifeside. Geomancer Tama found out about all of this, and she recruited Ninjak, Shadowman and a magic user, Punk Mambo, to help her stop Babel. They have also team-up with the Deadside's only hero, an old school barbarian, Rex Razer. Unfortunately, Shadowman, wishing to be free of his Loa (aka a demon) allows Babel to gain control of it. With Shadowman's Loa, he finishes building his tower.
In this climatic issue, aka spoiler time, Babel bust into the Lifeside, but hot on his heels is Shadowman. Geomancer has convinced Shadowman that only he can save life as we know it, by rejoining with his Loa and kicking Babel's @$$. Shadowman is convinced and does. Utilizing a little trick from the Lifeside and Geomancer's abilities, Babel is all wrapped up for good- again, we hope.
Not much to the spoilers there, and that is the weak part of this story. Which is unfortunately common in Kindt's writing. It's never bad, but often time it's just there. The Loa on Loa violence was pretty cool, and everyone did a decent job drawing it all. Cafu's pages are always very nice. But almost like a movie or TV script, that is too dependent on actor performances, so too are Kindt's scripts. He needs a great artist to really sell the narrative and make it all special. That said, this is a decent adventure tale. And Kindt even remembers to tie-up a loose end, while making a good character point at the same time. The series also helped reset and reaffirm the character at is Shadowman (his time in the Lifeside helped with that).
This is an easy buy for any Valiant fans. For everyone else, it wouldn't hurt, but your not going to be wowed either. On the Masked Man's scale of Crap, Poor, Decent, Good, or Great, RAPTURE just squeaks away with a GOOD.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G