I’m trying desperately to pack my bags for San Diego Comic Con 2014 so I’ll keep this short. This week’s comics had a lot of diversity, everything from Ash from Army of Darkness beginning his slow crawl toward marriage to Harley Quinn invading SDCC and hammering the ever-loving snot out of everyone she met (except for Bruce Timm and Paul Dini—she loves those guys for some reason). Tell me what books excited YOU this week, reader. Share in the comments below. Talk about books I reviewed, talk about books that I didn’t review but should, or just tell me where to go and what to see when I’m in California next week. Thanks!

 

DYNAMITE: 

ARMY OF DARKNESS: ASH GETS HITCHED #1

Review by John Dubrawa

“Bad feeling in my gut…I guess I know where this road ends.”
“Bad feeling in my gut…I guess I know where this road ends.”

You read that correctly:  Ash is getting married. But while the prospect of a wedding set in the Army of Darkness universe is positively bursting with promise, this opening chapter of Ash Gets Hitched leaves a lot to be desired. Steve Niles is no stranger to the character of Ash–he handles him on a monthly basis writing Dynamite’s regular Army of Darkness series–but for some reason he has trouble capturing the proper voice of the character here. He’s missing the swagger of his movie counterpart and much of his pension for colorful language with his insights; describing his medieval surrounding as, “this place pretty much smells like poop” doesn’t fit Ash one bit. Niles does, however, build the plot with the arrival of new villains, a few Deadites for that nostalgia quota, and a surprise or two as Ash and his bride-to-be take on a dangerous mission across the countryside. Nacho Tenorio, aside from having the best name for an artist across all mediums, does a decent job in capturing the look of the movie environment. There aren’t a lot of interesting backdrops to render, but his Ash looks like Bruce Campbell enough, which is all I ask for. Now I just need him to say “groovy” and we’ll be all set.

RATING:[usr 3]

 

DC COMICS:

HARLEY QUINN INVADES COMIC CON INTERNATIONAL SAN DIEGO #1

Review by John Dubrawa

“Well, you guys wanted mayhem. At this point I have a suggestion.”
“Well, you guys wanted mayhem. At this point I have a suggestion.”

Harley Quinn Invades Comic Con International San Diego #1 approaches its subject matter with the subtly of an oversized, comically large mallet to the head. Consider that this series launched with Harley Quinn breaking the fourth wall in a search for an artist to draw her own comic and what transpires in this issue is no less befitting of where the character started out on this run. Like the aforementioned Harley Quinn #0, Harley Quinn Invades (shortening the title here for sanity purposes) is all about the search for an artist, only this time it’s Harley looking for an artist from DC comics to evaluate her portfolio. Those looking for the plot to add a modicum of development to the ongoing conflict in the regular Harley Quinn series will need to look elsewhere as this premise is just a vehicle for writers Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti to offer some wry, humorous takes on the comic book industry and comic culture. Lighthearted potshots are hurled at DC and its executives throughout the issue—from their themed months to their expensive variant covers—but a sore spot among all the humor is an off-kilter dig at Marvel that’s outright duplicitous considering the source.

RATING:[usr 3.5]

 

TEEN TITANS #1

Review by John Dubrawa

“Turns out a talking Bengal tiger freaks everyone out. Not just terrorists.”
“Turns out a talking Bengal tiger freaks everyone out. Not just terrorists.”

Before it was even released, Teen Titans #1 caught flack for Kenneth Rocafort’s cover image, which endowed the character of Wonder Girl with breasts the size of her head. Keeping in mind this is a teenage character we’re talking about and not the dozens of top-heavy female characters that typically fill cover images of comics, the art by Rocafort is just as problematic inside the book, but mercifully it’s one of the only issues to take umbrage with. For the majority of Will Pfeifer’s debut with this new and improved Teen Titans team, the title is extremely welcoming to both returning and brand new readers and establishes each team member well enough with some room for improvement. Red Robin reads as extremely cold but calculated and meticulous through Pfeifer’s dialogue, but it makes a whole lot of sense for a character with Batman as a mentor. Bunker, on the other hand, is less forgivable in his outburst toward the end of the issue and though Pfeifer appears to have some measure of consequence lined up for him, he should be careful given this is a homosexual character he’s handling. In spite of this strange characterization, the team assembled for this new iteration of the fan favorite Teen Titans is showing a lot of promise and gives enough reason to start picking it up again.

RATING:[usr 3.5]

  

IDW PUBLISHING:

BORDERLANDS: THE FALL OF FYRESTONE #1

Review by John Dubrawa

“Hello travelers! Welcome to Fyrestone! I am CLTP-TP but you may call me by my locally designated name, ‘Claptrap’!”
“Hello travelers! Welcome to Fyrestone! I am CLTP-TP but you may call me by my locally designated name, ‘Claptrap’!”

For as much as I adore Gearbox Studios’ 2009 game, Borderlands–and last I checked it was 100+ hours of devotion–I regard the property’s latest comic book adaptation, Borderlands: The Fall of Fyrestone #1 with surprising indifference. What this first issue achieves is nearly parallel to the opening cinematic of the game that introduces our four vault hunters (Roland, Lilith, Brick, and Mordecai) right down to Marcus’ truck slamming into an unsuspecting bandit (but minus the soundtrack by Cage the Elephant). There’s certainly something positive to be said about the familiarity that writer Mikey Neumann achieves using his own original dialogue to capture the game’s peculiar brand of dark humor; I suspect even those not familiar with the game will find the antics of oddball character Claptrap amusing as he discusses robot meat with a cannibalistic bandit or incessantly pursues friendship from the main characters. I only wish Neumann could take some liberties with this familiar segment of the game to make it more his own—seeing it from Claptrap’s perspective might have been interesting, or going so far as to change the outcome of the first firefight. From here, someone like me that has invested in the game knows where the rest of this miniseries is heading, so it removes the need to read about it, especially when I can just go log in a few hundred more hours into the game and experience it that way.

RATING:[usr 2.5]

 

IMAGE:

THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #2

Review by John Dubrawa

“You know the story. Twelve gods, reincarnate, ninety years, et cetera. A sad, sad story of lives wasted being truly divine.”
“You know the story. Twelve gods, reincarnate, ninety years, et cetera. A sad, sad story of lives wasted being truly divine.”

Although my head didn’t literally explode like a character at the end of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine #1, that issue did just about blow my mind in every conceivable way. Where I stand on the series’ second go-round is a little less hyperbolic but similarly impressed. This issue delves deeper into the mythology of the twelve gods known as The Pantheon who have been reincarnated as teenage pop idols while showcasing a lot of the solid character work that made that first issue so special. You’ll recall at the start of that inaugural issue the presence of a mysterious older woman who initiates the gods’ deaths. It turns out that woman is Ananke and she’s of extreme importance not just to Luci—who’s landed in jail thanks to the aforementioned head explosion—but also to the rest of The Pantheon as well. While this issue primarily revolves around the search for Ananke, it’s also continues to put the focus on Laura, who has her head in the right place when it comes to wanting to help her idols but who also has trouble resisting Luci’s devilish tongue. And those words were chosen to be purposely sexual in nature, I can assure you. McKelvie’s art is as clean and bombastic as the last issue and what strikes me most is how his character designs so perfectly dictates their personalities; even without her wicked words, McKelvie shows us how evil Luci can be.

RATING:[usr 4]

 

MARVEL:

MS. MARVEL #6

Review by John Dubrawa

“Don’t worry, I’ll get us out of here. You can leave the superheroing to me. I’ve been practicing.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll get us out of here. You can leave the superheroing to me. I’ve been practicing.”

Ms. Marvel #7 is the beginning of a brand-new arc in G. Willow Wilson’s glorious renaissance of the titular character, which means readers that have been hesitant to see what all the well-deserved fuss is about are free (and encouraged) to do so starting with this issue. You’ll have to contend with some leftover conflict from the first arc as the Inventor remains a central force in Ms. Marvel’s coming-of-hero story, but it’s worth the moments of slight confusion (the villain is a bird who’s not a bird?) to get to the epic team-up that steals the show. Since the cover miraculously doesn’t spoil who teams with Kamala Khan in this issue I’ll continue to let that be a secret; just know that when Kamala refers to herself and her new partner as “twinsies,” it’s likely that will be the last time that phrase will be uttered in that character’s presence. Jacob Wyatt steps in to replace Adrian Alphona on art and while the change is a bit stark at first, Ian Herring’s soft color palette allows Wyatt to fit right in with the proceedings as if he’s been there from the start.

RATING:[usr 4.5]

 

ORIGINAL SIN #6 (OF 8)

Review by John Dubrawa

“Call in everyone. I don’t care where they are or what they’re dealing with. This takes priority. The lies and the secrets stop now.”
“Call in everyone. I don’t care where they are or what they’re dealing with. This takes priority. The lies and the secrets stop now.”

Nick Fury launches into a full-blown villainy monologue in Original Sin #6, detailing his motivations for bringing such a ragtag group of heroes together into one room, but never once getting to the heart of the matter, the reason for this whole event existing in the first place. Remember, “Who Shot The Watcher?” What happened to that mission statement? Where this event from writer Jason Aaron started and where it is at the end of this sixth issue is nearly identical:  The Watcher is dead and we don’t know who did it. Even in this issue as Black Panther attempts to ask the sensible question of who killed The Watcher, an interruption conveniently emerges and an action sequence rears its ugly head. Not ugly in the sense that it isn’t drawn well–because Mike Deodato’s art continues to succeed where the plotting doesn’t–but ugly in the sense that it dislodged the narrative and loses focus. Dr. Midas and Exterminatrix remain in the picture as well though far removed from it, and with only two issues left, I’m hoping Aaron can find a way to rope all of these characters together and provide a definitive, satisfying end.

RATING:[usr 2.5]

 

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