Friday, January 28, 2011

Free Comics Review for 01/26/11

Welcome to another edition of Free Comics Review! The big news this week is that ComiXology is going to partner up with local retailers, so you can get your digital comics from there, as opposed to the comfort of your home. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me either. In any case, we have another big haul this week, with plenty of free comics. That’s without mentioning the fact that the first issue of Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. is up for free this week, and that’s one of my favorite series ever. Hit the jump to see the reviews.

Arcana Studios Present 2007 (ComiXology App)

Written by Various
Art by Various

Much like last week, Arcana Studios has uploaded one of their past Free Comic Book Day issues, the one from 2007 this time around. It’s an anthology issue featuring some of their properties.

Their biggest character seems to be Kade, who makes another appearance. It’s a fantasy epic, from what I have gathered, about a mystical warrior on a holy mission. The art is by Stepjan Seijic, who I think is now working in Top Cow.

Another one is 100 Girls, which I am still note quite sure is about. It stars a young girl, who protects a man that is being bullied by some hooligans. Also, it’s set in France, so the whole thing has “subtitles”.

The final story is Mechanical Girl, that seems to be a modern take on Frankenstein, with a doctor creating a small girl instead of a monster.

Overall, this is a much better outing than previous “years” for this anthology. The art and writing quality seems to have gone considerably up, leading to an overall better polished book. Your enjoyment may vary on each story, as always.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #1 (Marvel App)

Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. was a short lived series from a few years ago, and chances are that if you are reading this, you already know how much I love it.

I don’t want to say it’s better than Watchmen, but Alan Moore threatened to release Glycon if Marvel continued to publish it. And that’s why it was canceled. Nextwave is like Shakespeare, but with more punches.

It stars a small group of also-ran characters teaming up to fight against the Beyond Corporation, H.A.T.E., Dirk Anger and Fing Fan Foom. There’s punches, explosions, violence, and destruction. It is basically the best thing ever, and if you don’t like it, I hate you and I am going to pretend you don’t exist.

Dirk Anger and H.A.T.E. are a thinly veiled parody of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. He created a superteam that after finding out they are secretly funded by a terrorist organization decide to rebel.

Beyond the funny jokes and situations, though, there is actually an incredibly crafted comic. Everything you need to know about the plot and set-up is delivered quite organically. Ellis does a superb job in introducing all the main players.

Stuart Immonen, personal bias aside, delivers the best looking book of his career here. It’s a simplified and minimalistic art style, that is incredibly iconic.

Seriously, go read this book, you are not going regret it.

The Puppet Makers #1 (DC/ComiXology App)

Written by John Leavitt
Art by Molly Crabapple

The Puppet Makers is a Zuda comic set in a fictional steampunk version of 17th Century France (though the aesthetics look like 18th century to me, but who’s keeping count?).

In this world, the aristocracy of France likes using mechanical suits to attend the social outings. During a theater performance, however, they are attacked by the British. To make matters worse, the king seems to have vanished, since his mechanical suit was found empty.

Meanwhile, we also gain insight into a monk who seems to work as an engineer (as he seems to be working in a mechanical machine). Along him, there is an apprentice who is not as bright, though still very clever.

It’s hard to know what the connection is between these two parts of the story. I’ll say this though, the first issue ends in a non-cliffhanger that still makes you want to find out what happens next.

This comic is pretty dense, as there is a lot going on. It’s a bit hard to keep up with all that’s going on, but I appreciate that the creative team went a long way to create an inmersive universe.

The art is quite unique, and there’s a noticeable style change between scene changes, to go along with the storytelling changes. The panels themselves seem to make good usage of the old Zuda page size. I’ve noticed it in other of their comics, as well, but I liked it here as well.

Thor #32 (Marvel App)

Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Andy Kubert, Scott Hanna

And yet another Jurgens-era Thor is uploaded for free on Marvel’s app. One would think there was a Thor movie coming out or something. Oh, right...

I have to say, this is a strange comic to offer for free, because it is basically the conclusion to a running storyline featuring Malekith, the Dark Elf trying to destroy Asgard with a cold hard winter that means to overwhelm the Golden Realm.

It features many running plots, including Kurse being mind controlled, Beta Ray Bill making a come back, Sif in control of Asgard (which we saw in the last Thor comic I read). That’s without mentioning the battle between Thor and Malekith.

The comic actually does a good job of catching you up with all of them, and I was never lost despite being the last issue of an arc. I should also note that even though the cover says "100 page Monster", this is only the standard 22 pages. I guess the rest of the pages were reprints, so they were not included.

Last time I reviewed a Jurgens-era Thor book, I mentioned that all the Thees and Thous got annoying fast, but I saw a marked improvement in the dialogue in this issue.

Andy Kubert on art duties means that this looks pretty good. Aside from the fact that he draws Beta Ray Bill like a boss, I don’t have much to say about it.

True Grit: Mean Business (ComiXology App)

Written by ??? (Charles Portis)
Art by Christian Wildgoose

True Grit: Mean Business is a short tie-in comic with the novel and recently-adapted into film by the Coen Brothers. Keep in mind that I haven’t either read the novel or seen the film.

I have no idea why this is filled under "Creator Owned" comics though. Same thing happened with that Left 4 Dead comic some time back.

That being said, this is still a pretty good comic. The framing device is a courtroom drama, as a Sheriff narrates how they came into a crime scene, and the investigation that followed.

Set in the Wild West, it’s a story about bandits and law enforcers. It is handled quite realistically, without any crazy shootout scenes. Just a gritty crime story.

The artist Christian Wildgoose, asides from having an awesome last name, does a great job with the art. It’s all in black and white, as westerns should, and does a great job with the storytelling. This does not look like a storyboard, but a good comic in of itself.

I’m not sure if this is a direct adaptation of a chapter in the book or the movie script. The fact that there is no listed writer makes me think that the artist worked straight from that.

From the looks of it, some of these characters later appear and play a larger role in the film/novel. If you have read or seen either, you probably want to check this out.

Ultimate X-Men #40 (Marvel App)

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by David Finch, Art Thibert

Here we have another issue of Ultimate X-Men. This is the one that starts the “New Mutants” arc, which introduced a whole bunch of new characters into the book (though not necessarily the ultimate version of the regular New Mutants).

In this first one, we get introduced to the ultimate version of Warren Worthington III, more commonly known as Angel. He is not that different from the main version, just younger and less confident. Oh, and his parents kind of hate him.

As he is introduced to the rest of the X-Men, they are quite taken aback by his appearance. Beside being handsome, he obviously looks like a biblical angel, which Rogue (who is southern, and quite religious) is quick to note.

Angel is quite sullen, and feels like an outsider. His situation is worsened when people outside the Academy learn about him, and the more religious aspects of society are very interested in him.

Most of the story is just dialogue, but Bendis was hitting his stride at this moment, and it’s a quite good issue. The bulk of it is Storm and Angel discussing their situation, their personalities, and their powers. It’s very much a human issue.

Finch’s art is something that don’t particularly enjoy, but this seems to be one of his best efforts. There are still some odd facial expressions, but his storytelling is quite good. That moment when Angel appears for the firs time is choreographed perfectly.

That's it for this week's column! Any ideas, tips, or advice are welcome. Remember that you can always read the comics in the ComiXology web reader (with the exception of the Marvel ones). 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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