Thursday, October 28, 2010

Free Comics Review for 10/27/10

Hello everyone, welcome to another edition of Free Comics Review! Instead of our usual Friday schedule, we are switching it up a bit today. Ryan has a monster-sized version of the Power Rankings (in honor of Halloween?) that won't be going up until tomorrow, so I decided to fill in his normal schedule. Today we have six new free comics for all of our enjoyment, though still nothing from DC’s front. Hit the jump to see the reviews.

Box 13 (Vol. 2) # 6 (ComiXology App)
Written by David Gallaher
Art by Steve Ellis

I reviewed the previous issue of Box 13 in the second column of Free Comics Review. Since then, I have gone back and read earlier issues, to get caught up on this particular series.

While I was blown away by how much I enjoyed the previous issue, this one left me somewhat colder. The whole thing is basically a chase scene, and because this is only eight pages long, it felt short and lacking meat.

The story does not follow up at all on the previous chapter, with Olivia being captured. Instead, Dan and April are escaping from some mysterious government types (I’m still not all up to speed on who is everyone, might need to re-read the whole thing again)

I forgot to mention it on my previous review, but an interesting thin is that Ellis uses rather brief sentences for every panel. There’s no character going on minutes long soliloquies, just short and to the point statements.

The star of the show continues to be Steve Ellis, whose clean and dynamic style bring the panels to life on the screen. The streets of Paris provide some great visuals.

Hetalia: Axis Powers #7 (ComiXology App)

Written by Hidekaz Himaruya
Art by Hidekaz Himaruya

This Tokypop comic stars the anthropomorphic versions of Italy, Germany and Japan, who are all high-school aged characters, and go to school together.

Hetalia: Axis Powers is about these three friends are making an article for the school newspaper, so they must investigate what Christmas is like in other countries’ household. Why?

Because Japan, that’s why.

Each character is the embodiment of different country. Asides from the three main characters, there’s appearances by a bunch of different other ones, mostly from Europe and Asia, though there’s some others as well.

There are some interesting ideas here at work, such as the older nations (Ancient Rome) being the ancestors of the current high school aged countries, or all of the former Soviet Union block being brothers/sisters. Part of me wished we would have gotten a smart parody that tackled socio-political issues.

Instead, we get a bunch of jokes about how much Italy loves pizza and the like. It’s a whacky comedy. I’m sure this is pretty popular, but definitely not for me.

Note from the author: This comic was uploaded for free last Friday, and missed last week's reviews, though it seems that now it is no longer free. 

Immortal Iron Fist #1 (Marvel App)

Written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction
Art by David Aja (and Travel Foreman)

Immortal Iron Fist! If you haven’t read this series yet, and you wanted to know what all the hype was about, then run to your Apple device. Years from now, this seres will be taught as part of “Re-Inventing Characters 101”.

Brubaker and Fraction take Iron Fist and make him more compelling than anyone could ever have expected. In the comic, we learn that there is a whole legacy of Iron Fists from the past, and that Danny Rand is just the last one in the line.

Danny Rand is being attacked by the hordes of Hydra, both physically and economically. That means not only we get action scenes, but also court room-like drama. Kung fu and economics, this book has it all!

There are lots of great moments here, but the reveal that there is another living Iron Fist is masterful. The scene where he is attacked and defends himself with his powers is incredibly memorable.

A lot of the success from this comic is because of David Aja’s artwork. He is a master storyteller, and there’s all kinds of techniques at work here, making this comic both dynamic and compelling. Travel Foreman (uncredited) helps with the flashback scenes, and he holds his own against Aja’s art.

Seriously. I can’t say it enough. Read this comic. You won't regret it.

Incredible Hercules #116 (Marvel App)

Written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente
Art by Rafa Sandoval

Speaking of good comics, this week also sees the first proper arc of Incredible Hercules. Before this, it was mostly dealing with cleaning up of World War Hulk, but Sacred Invasion became the first stand alone story arc of this series that won the heart of readers everywhere.

It’s actually quite surprising to go back and read this early series, as, despite being essentially the same series, reads quite differently. I guess because the team was still getting used to the character and series.

The story deals with Hercules, Amadeus Cho and Athena driving out to San Francisco. What’s in San Fran? The Eternals and the Dreaming Celestial, but there’s something else going, and it ties with Secret Invasion. You can probably guess what.

The issue is not as funny as later chapters, but there’s still quite a lot of funny scenes. All of it mixed with the exploration of Hercules role in the myths and how they relate to their current adventures. Pak and Van Lente have mastered this art.

Sandoval’s art is kinetic and does a great job in the action scenes. The coloring is a bit too shiny for my taste, but it is otherwise a nice looking book.

Tomb of Dracula #7 (Marvel App)

Written by Marv Wolfman
Art by Gene Colan

Look! Another series that I’ve previously reviewed. This time around, Tomb of Dracula has changed writers, though still the same artist.

Whatever I mentioned in the previous review about Colan remains the same. The man was at the top of his game, and it shows. It’s moody and colorful, with the atmosphere just dripping off the pages.

I mentioned on the last review that it felt like the issue was overwritten, a problem that plagues many older works, but I think Wolfman does a better job of it here. The prose is not as purple, and the characters speak more like real people do.

The Count is on the hunt again, this time in London. Wolfman does an interesting thing and bring the descendants of the original Dracula book, such as the son of Mina and Jonathan Harker and the daughter of Van Helsing, into the battle against the Lord of all Vampires.

I actually enjoyed this quite a lot, but there was a moment that totally brought me out of the book. Quincy Harker, who is on a wheelchair, has somehow managed to install a dart-throwing device into it. At one point, he attacks Dracula with his poison-tipped darts shot from his wheelchair.

Also, Dracula is a dick. Someone should start a Dracula-Dickery website. In this issue, he interrupts a children’s football game, kidnaps all of them, and mind-controls them into attacking people. What a dick!

Ultimates 2 #1 (Marvel App)

Written by Mark Millar
Art by Bryan Hitch

With the upcoming Avengers movie, this is a good time as any to release the first issue of Ultimates for free. This is the second volume, which takes place a whole year after the first one.

The Ultimates, most notably Captain America, have become involved in foreign affairs, something that does not sit well with everyone. Particularly, Thor is not happy about it and quits the team.

Thor takes center stage in this issue, as we see him talking to Volstagg, who comes to warn him that Loki has escaped and plans to move against Thor. Or is Thor imagining the whole thing?

Another character that becomes central to this tale is Bruce Banner, The Hulk. He is secretly imprisoned after the events of the previous series, but that is about to change for the worse.

It’s no news that Millar and Hitch make one heck of a team, and their work here together is pretty damn good. Millar is good at crafting “AWESOME” moments, and Hitch indulges him in ways other artists can’t. This is probably one of the best works from the two of them.

That's it for this week's column! Any ideas, tips, or advice are welcome. We always try to improve our content based on your suggestions, and with a new column, it's good to hear back from the readers. So, comment away!

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mugiwara said...

There is a manga similar to Hetalia: Afuganisu-tan. It's about the poor little girl Afuganisu-tan who is allways bullied by other countries.
It's more educative than Hetalia, and could have been named "Afghanistan for dummies".
Here are some strips:

twobitspecialist said...

Is there really an event called "Sacred Invasion"? I just assumed they were typos, but this is not the first time I've seen it.

Matt Duarte said...

@Twobit: Sacred Invasion is the name of the Secret Invasion tie-in of Incredible Hercules.

Dennis N said...

Cool to see Iron Fist out there for free. Millar was always good on Ultimate titles and FF. It's only when he gets too long of a leash on his own projects that he goes crazy.

Anonymous said...

Q why isnt there any free dc cmics?

Matt Duarte said...

@Anon #5: No idea. They've been uploading some previews and "Origin of" tales (that are 1 or 2 pages long), but not much in the way of free actual issues. It's not the only company that does that though, Boom, for example, only uploads free previews (although they do it of a bunch of first issues of their series, and you can read half the book in the preview)

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