Monday, September 12, 2016

Comics Capsule Reviews

Lady Killer 2 #1: This sequel to last year’s Lady Killer serves up more of the same absurd suburban madness. Josie is a normal 1950s housewife who happens to be an extremely thorough contract killer. This issue opens at a Tupperware™ party that turns deadly for two of the attendees, as Josie carries out a contract taken out by their relative. Then she meets her husband’s sexually harassing boss at a backyard barbeque (not sure he has much time left on earth after that) and ends with a final brutal murder. Ace artist Joelle Jones writes solo this time, without the aid of former conspirator Jamie Rich. The results are just as deadly. The book is worth it for Jones’ art alone, as she is a fine artist, storyteller and designer all rolled up in one. Recommended for those with strong stomachs.

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Lake of Fire #1: My enjoyment of history/sci-fi mashups runs deep; Predators in WWI, Cowboys vs. Aliens, Dracula vs. Sherlock Holmes. Lake of Fire is a new series pitting Medieval French knights against some giant invading alien bugs. Writer Nathan Fairbairn and artist Matt Smith pull off the story with panache and style. In 1220 AD, a burning spaceship crash-lands in the French Pyrenees. Local villagers start disappearing and a suspected witch is blamed. Dispatched with an unpleasant churchman to investigate, knights Theobald and Hugh think there is something more to the rumors of monsters eating the locals. The priest traveling with them has made up his mind the “witch” is to blame, so off they set to “question” her. On the way the bug-monsters attack, immersing the entire party into the battle of their lives.

Writer Fairbairn has a good handle on the medieval mindset and a creative take on the stranded aliens. They look like mindless monsters, but do they have an agenda? Are they thinking creatures? And what about that “witch?” Is she really involved? I’ll definitely stay with the book to find out, this one is a winner.

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

ROM #2: IDW does such a good job with their licensed comics. I don’t read every title, but the ones I follow generally have strong creative teams and are faithful to the source material. For ROM, the source material is the ‘70s Marvel iteration of ROM: Spaceknight, a title I grew up with and loved. Those stories were mostly by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema. This time around the story is guided by writers Christos Gage and Chris Ryall, who do a terrific job. David Messina does the art and is also terrific. ROM is a Spaceknight, a humanoid alien infused with mechanical parts and armor tasked with fighting the evil Dire Wraiths. The Wraiths have infiltrated Earth, and only ROM’s special equipment and weapons can identify and fight them. The trouble is, to human beings it looks like he is disintegrating other humans, while actually he is dispatching the Wraiths. ROM is gathering allies while on Earth, in the form of a soldier and a cop, both black females. So far, ROM is being pursued by the police, the army and a town full of Dire Wraiths, who have weapons he has never been exposed to. Those are a lot of forces arrayed against him.

Gage and Ryall have not only captured the spirit of the best of the original ROM series, they have expanded the characters and mythology to be even more interesting and exciting. Looks like the ROM franchise is back and in good hands, with thrilling stories, great art and new characters. If you’re not already, time to get on board!

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Future Quest #4: I don’t have a bad word to say about this comic. On the contrary, any comic that merges the best of the Hannah-Barbara cartoon characters so seamlessly in one epic story deserves nothing but praise. Interdimensional disturbances have threatened the Jonny Quest crew, the Herculoids, Space Ghost, Harvey Birdman and even the mighty Mightor. There is even a backup story featuring Frankenstein Jr., a forgotten favorite of mine! The mystery is enticing and every group or character has their moment to shine. This book is fantastic and is by far the best thing published by DC Comics.

Rating: ***** out of 5 stars

Skybourne #1: So the biblical Lazarus, after being resurrected, apparently fathered three children; Abraham, Thomas and Grace Skybourne. They’re all super strong, invulnerable and immortal. Some of them are tired of living and have tried different ways to kill themselves (and failed). Grace Skybourne fights the good fight, taking on bad people and terrorists to protect the world. In this premier issue, she discovers King Arthur’s sword Excalibur and tries to liberate it from the bad guys. After dismembering most of the terror cell who currently have possession of the sword, she runs into an actual threat. Could this be the original wizard Merlin? If so, he doesn’t seem very friendly ...

Writer/artist Frank Cho is one of the finest artists to ever draw comics. His writing isn’t bad either, as he sets up a non-stop action first issue with a massive shock ending. The best comics leave readers desperately wanting to see what happens next. Well, I can’t wait to see what happens next! Outstanding story and art.

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Han Solo #3: Marvel is still doing a bang-up job with the Star Wars books and their spin-offs. The latest solo title is ... you guessed it, Han Solo! It’s a fun high concept—Han is rescuing a Rebel spy, using a grand starship race as cover. He enters the Millennium Falcon of course, and is understandably torn between his mission and winning the race. It is a point of pride after all.

In this issue, the Falcon is one of only four ships left in the race. Han has to navigate the ship very carefully through an asteroid field, then finally stop to make his rescue. Conflict comes from an unexpected source when a bounty hunter comes for ... Chewbacca? That’s a new one.

Writer Marjorie Liu loves these characters and has their voices down perfectly. She captures Han’s arrogance, Leia’s frustration and Chewy’s ... grunts? Anyway, well done and a nice dose of the original SW crew.  

Rating: ***½ stars out of 5

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