Saturday, May 10, 2014

Comics Capsule Reviews

4/30/14 Books

Star Wars: Rebel Heist #1
Star Wars: Rebel Heist #1: Writer Matt Kindt injects a bit of spy intrigue into the Star Wars Universe. Kindt’s Mary Sue character* Jan travels to the city of Correlia to meet his hero Han Solo for a clandestine Rebel Alliance mission. His cover is blown and Solo helps him flee from the Imperial authorities. During the chase, Solo basically gives up and lets the bad guys take them. Jan loses faith in his hero for his refusal to fight to the death. As they are both put into Imperial dungeons, it’s clear that events are all part of Solo’s bigger plan. But Jan is so angry he is ready to turn stool pigeon against the Rebels. Will he come to his senses before they are both executed? In a big arena? By a big saliva-dripping George Lucas monster?

This is a fun start to the miniseries, with Solo running his patented multi-layered con against the Empire. As usual, they look dumb enough to fall for it. I look forward to the story unfolding nicely from here.

Rating: ***1/2 out of 5 stars

* For those unfamiliar with the term, a “Mary Sue” is when the author puts himself in the story as a thinly disguised character.

Southern Bastards #1
Southern Bastards #1: Sometimes it’s tough to experience media set in the U.S. South. Writers figure we’re all racist, shoeless idiots who suck on hay sticks and say “y’all” a lot. Except for the “y’all” thing, that’s only like, 83% of us. The rest of us are enlightened sweethearts who speak perfectly good, accent-free English. Y’all.

Southern Bastards opens with a splash page of a dog defecating in a field. Here we go again, I thought. However, writer Jason Aaron and artist Jason Latour, both from a lot deeper South than I am, present a pretty good crime story. In this first issue, Earl Tubbs drives into Craw County, Alabama to clear out his deceased father’s house. His father was a sheriff who ruled Craw County with an iron hand. A tough, no nonsense lawman, Bertrand Tubbs may or may not have been corrupt, we don’t yet have a clear picture.

Trying to keep a low profile, that idea is blown to bits when Earl, having a piece of pie in the local diner, stops the local druglord’s thugs from beating on a loser who owes him money. Earl has now alerted the bad guys to the fact that he is back, if only for a few days. He has not only made himself a target, but may have to answer for his father’s legacy, whatever that might be.

I don’t get the impression that Aaron is painting the entire South in a bad light, so far this just seems to be a crime story set in that region of the country. I’ll see what percentage of the population he paints as toothless meth-heads before criticizing further. If it’s more than 83%, I may have to write a strongly-worded letter.

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Rachel Rising #25
Rachel Rising #25: More creepy goodness and back-to-life hijinks. Rachel and her friends try to suss out who originally murdered her. Chloe stuffs firecrackers into rats, drops them into a garbage can and lets physics do the rest. Aunt Johnny limps into the house on crutches and surprisingly bonds with Chloe. Rachel concocts a spell that will heal all of their various ailments in a day or two so they can keep hunting the killers still loose in town. Highlight of this issue: Earl asks Chloe if she has any scars. “None that show,” she answers. Just too creepy. Can Terry Moore make a bad comic? I think not.

Rating: ***** out of 5 stars.

Silver Surfer #2
Silver Surfer #2: I think writer Dan Slott may be on to something here. The Surfer tries to save Dawn Greenwood’s life by battling a feminine cosmic being who calls herself “the Queen of Nevers.”  Meanwhile, Dawn doesn’t deal well with being a prisoner and conspires with the other freaky alien abductees to break out of her containment cell. How she does so is creative and amusing. After making nice with the Queen and deciding she is not a threat, she shows the Surfer several of his possible futures. He heads back to the Impericon to confront Zed, the mastermind behind this whole wacky caper. Filled with comedy bits and fantastic pop art by Michael Allred, this is becoming a book to watch.

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Doc Savage #5
Doc Savage #5: The Shadow has always been my favorite of the pulp heroes (I don’t really count Tarzan as a pulp). But the writing was better in Doc Savage. When the original 181 Doc novels were reissued by Bantam in the ‘70s, I read around the first 50 or so. I loved them.
 This title is taking Doc through the decades to the present day, and writer Chris Roberson is showing a vivid understanding of Doc and his world. I miss the original Savage crew, especially Ham and Monk bickering like old women. But Doc and his cousin Pat are the only ones who got the benefit of the non-aging serum before it was destroyed, so everyone but them is getting older. Doc keeps bringing new blood into the group, such as Tamsin “Roughneck” Abbot (from issue 4) and Jetse “Happy” Van Oorschot. The two are with Doc on an orbital mission in 1988, when some cultists get an old Nazi laser satellite working and start to destroy wide swaths of the West coast. After some narrow escapes, Doc manages to use teamwork to dispatch the laser and still get everyone home safe. This issue features some fun close calls and a welcome addition of new supporting cast (a feature superhero comics no longer offer for the most part), capped off by another great Alex Ross cover image.

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

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