Friday, February 4, 2011

Free Comics Review for 02/02/11

Welcome to another edition of Free Comics Review! We can finally return to normalcy after two rather big weeks, and this time around we only have five free books to review. We have some Zuda, Marvel, and our old friend Box 13. Hit the jump to see the reviews.

Black Panther #1 (Marvel App)

Written by Reginald Hudlin
Art by John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson

The first issue of the the “Who Is The Black Panther?” arc kicks out here. You might remember in this very column I reviewed the second issue, which was uploaded for free some months back.

This is mostly a flashback issue, a history lesson in Wakanda. The framing device is a U.S. government committee discussing possible options in dealing with the country. We see previous holders of the Black Panther mantle and how they dealt with would-be invaders.

I’m going to be pretty honest here: this book was terrible. This is the infamous “Wakandians have technology that makes guns explodes” scene. It’s never explained how it works, or why it never shows up again. It’s a scene to show how cool the Black Panther is, without any kind of thought behind it.

It’s not even the worst thing. There are scenes set in the past, such as the 5th and 19th century, and all the characters speak with modern lingo and expressions. I don’t expect a writer to write in Swahili just because there’s a scene with them, but at least put some effort in making it sound like a period piece.

On the bright side, John Romita Jr. delivers on the art department. This is probably one of the best looking books I’ve seen from him. It probably helps that Klaus Janson is handling the inking duties.

Box 13 Vol. 2 #10 (ComiXology App)

Written by David Gallaher
Art by Steve Ellis

Another fortnight, another issue of Box 13 that continues to race towards its conclusion.

In this week’s installment we learn about the Orloj, an astronomical clock built in Europe, and the man behind his creation, Hanus (oh, stop giggling!). He supposedly built all kinds of secrets into it.

We learn that Dan Holiday is heading towards this place, but all kinds of people are trying to stop him. From what I understand, his exposure to the Box might hold the key to unlocking some of the secrets of the Orloj.

This issue felt pretty short to me, perhaps because of it’s “calm before the storm” nature. Everything is heading towards the conclusion, with all the pieces in place. I’m eager for them to get there already.

Ellis does a superb job as usual, but what really blew me away was his double page spread (I think) of the Orloj. I never normally comment, but the colors are particularly striking.

Celadore #1 (DC/ComiXology App)

Written by Caanan Grall
Art by Caanan Grall

Celadore is a former Zuda strip, written and drawn completely by Caanan Grall. It’s a pretty neat story about a vampire hunter. Wait, wait! I know you are probably hating it already, and I felt like hating it too when I read the description, but this is a surprisingly fresh take.

Celadore is an experienced vampire hunter, in the vein of Buffy. However, on her latest fight against the blood suckers, her soul is kicked out of her body. She lands in the body of a comatose 11-year old girl Evelyn.

It’s very much a light hearted tale as Celadore gets used to inhabiting inside the body of an 11 year old girl. Of course, Evenlyn’s “soul” is still inside as well, which leads to arguing and bickering between the two of them.

There’s also the matter of sidekicks: Sam is an 11 year old classmate of Evelyn and Jam, a Frankenstein-like friend of Celadore. They add quite nicely to the dynamic of the group, usually as comic relief.

I enjoyed this issue quite a lot, but there’s some problems with it. For example, it just ends on a random scene, as if the creator had just simply run out of space. No real cliffhanger to speak of. You need to be able to hook people with the first issue.

The art is quite good for the type of tale Celadore is about. It’s very much in the style of a Saturday morning cartoon. Some of the action scenes, however, are a bit hard to follow and understand.

Thor #283 (Marvel App)

Written by Roy Thomas
Art by John Buscema & Chic Stone

Another week, another Thor issue uploaded for free on the Marvel app. This time around, however, it’s not one from the Jurgens era like the past three or four ones I have read. This is from much earlier.

This issue of Thor is from 1979, from the Roy Thomas era. It’s quite a strange issue to offer, to be honest, as more than half the issue is a recap of previous events shown in past issues. They involve the Celestials, Deviants, and the Eternals.

Thor is flying over Mexico, when he drops by to stop an ongoing crime. However, he has much more important matters to attend to, namely speaking with Odin. This is the part where the recap comes in. Thor demands answers about the events that have transpired, and Odin refuses to answer.

On the way back, Thor find himself against a giant indestructible dome. He tries to investigate what it is, when he is greeted by a Celestial emerging from inside. Gammenon the Gatherer, to be specific.

Do you speak Spanish? I do, and I was face-palming hard with the Spanish dialogue that Thomas wrote in the scene set in Mexico. The whole thing is ridiculously bad, but the highlight was “Voto a dios” (I vote god?).

The art is suitably energetic, a true product of the era. Buscema does a great job with the storytelling and action.

War Machine # 6 (Marvel App)

Written by Greg Pak
Art by Allan Jefferson/Leonardo Manco

This is the 6th issue of the War Machine ongoing series from a year or two back . Spinning out of Dark Reign, it starred Jim Rhodes with some new powers to absorb technology. I figure with the new series coming out soon, this is some free publicity.

In this issue, he pays a visit to his mother, who is living in an Indian reservation at the moment. Before War Machine gets there, though, American Eagle wants to have some words with her. He wants to warn her that Rhodey is getting into all kinds of trouble.

Rhodey eventually shows up, and the two inevitably come to clash. To be fair, though, Rhodey broke American Eagle’s bike and use it’s components to make his suit of armor better. That’s kind of a slap in the face, isn’t it?

There’s a pretty clever reveal at the end, but I won’t spoil it to you. I was pretty surprised when I read it, and while it might seem cheap, it’s pretty smart.

Throughout the whole comic, we get flashbacks from Rhodey’s childhood, and we learn that he was quite the obstinate child. Sure, he had good intentions, but stubborn as all heck. Even stupid, some would say.

I’m not sure who did the artwork here. The cover says “Jefferson”, which after looking it up is supposed to be Allan Jefferson, but the information inside the cover says Leonardo Manco. I can’t say I’m very familiar with either artist’ work, so I’m not certain. Anyone know for sure?

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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Eric Rupe said...

Since Celadore was a Zuda comic they were not exactly written in mind with being serialized as single issues later on so I doubt many of them are written to be broken into convenient 20-odd page chunks.

If you liked Celadore enough DC did put out a trade of it and the creator does a webcomic that updates about three times a week.

caanantheartboy said...

Hey, thanks for the review on Celadore! The full three chapters are available as a book (180 pages) and originally it was written for 60 screens at a time. There was never meant to be a break at page 20, that's just how it all shakes out on Comixology, so that explains the weird non-ending. I assure you it has an ending! ;o)

Thanks again!

caanantheartboy said...

Hey, Eric beat me to it! Ha!

Thanks for the plug, Eric!

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid your "voto a Dios" remark was a bit off. That expression does exist in Spanish and it doesn't mean "I vote for God". It's true that "I vote for God" would be translated as "voto a Dios", but words have more than one meaning, and "voto a Dios" is an old fashioned phrase that could be roughly translated as "I appeal to God", and it was used to emphasize what one is saying or to express astonishment. It's not an expression you'll hear nowadays, though. It's the kind of thing you would expect someone from the XVIII century to say.

Matt Duarte said...

Thanks for the information all around.

@Eric/Caanan: That certainly explains it.

@Anon: I can't say that I'm familiar with the expression, but if you saw the rest of the Spanish in this issue, it's probably more likely than it was an error. Only Roy Thomas would know for sure, hehe.

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