Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Image Round-Up - 30th January 2013

The Image Round Up column is a new addition to the Weekly Crisis and it aims to get some words down on every single Image Comics book published for the week.  These reviews are handled by Liam Jose, Hansel Moreno, William Tournas, and Mike Hunau, and they'll be dropping non-spoilery reviews the day before the books are available so you can best make up your mind on what to buy tomorrow.  We offer this service because Image has been putting out some amazing content lately and it will be nice to shine a light on every single title they produce.  This week our intrepid team looks at The Activity #11, The Darkness #110, Glory #32, Hack/Slash #23, Invincible #100, Macgyver: Fugitive Gauntlet #4, and Zed: A Cosmic Tale.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on these books in the comments once you've read them, or you can ask our Round Up Crew any questions.

The Activity #11

Story by: Nathan Edmondson
Art by: Mitch Gerads
Color Assistant: Joseph Frazzetta
Letters by: Jeff Powell

William Tournas: One of the things about The Activity is that it’s quite easy for new readers to jump on. Each issue focuses on a new mission for the elite black ops Team Omaha without skipping a beat.

This latest issue “Butterfly Effect”, has Team Omaha conducting an operation to disarm a bomb in Minneapolis, without letting the people of the city know. This is also the first time we’re seeing a depiction of an operation on American soil in the comic, with most other issues being in diverse locations such as Colombia, Taiwan and Amsterdam.

Meanwhile back at the ISA (Intelligence Support Activity) headquarters, Lieutenant Colonel Jon Eadler has information given to him concerning a grave revelation which has come to light.

Edmondson’s back and forth storytelling in this issue is quite enjoyable, as both were high stakes drama, playing off each other and keeping me on the edge of my seat till the last page.

Gerads art was great and helped fuel the intensity of the issue, with layouts that were effective at sucking you into the next frame or page. If you’re a fan of Gerads work and follow his twitter/instagram, you will see that some of the character references photos he’s taken in the past appear in this issue.

I’ve never been much of a fan of military/modern warfare style comics, but I really enjoy this series and cannot speak highly enough about it. This was another great issue in a continually amazing run.

Verdict - Must Read.

The Darkness #110

Story by: David Hine
Art by: Jeremy Haun
Colors by: John Rauch
Letters by: Troy Peteri

Liam Jose: I feel like The Darkness can only be described with onomatopoeia - at first it was all *FWAAAA* then it *SMOOOO* before finally *WAAAAAANK*.

However, last time I described something using only sound effects, my editor sent me a series of photos of himself crying. He's going through some stuff, don't judge him. I'll use my words. Much of this issue is spent with characters yelling stuff out about their powers, and how "hey, you better watch it, or I'll do my thing." Before someone offers a witty rejoinder such as "no, don't do that, or I'll do my thing! Bwa ha ha!" It's like someone added a bunch of swears to Dragon Ball Z.

Jackie Estacado controls The Darkness, or he did or something, now his doppelganger called "Doppelganger" has it after Jackie rebuilt the world so that his ex-girlfriend is still alive. Awww. I'm not sure if he also rebuilt the world so that everyone talks in awkward sentences designed to set-up groan-worthy retorts rather than in a way any human would speak. The art makes it difficult to distinguish the characters from one another and determine where the action is occurring.

Reading The Darkness is like having an annoying friend yell over the top of a loud party while describing a movie they think they saw.

Verdict - Byrne It.

Glory #32

Story by: Joe Keatinge
Art Team: Ross Campbell, Owne Gieni, Emi Lenox, Sloane Leong, Jed Dougherty and Greg Hinkle
Colors by: Owen Gieni with Charis Solis
Letters bt Ed Brisson
Cover by: Ricken

Hansel Moreno: Glory, an early staple of Image Comics, is part of last year's Extreme Studios' re-launch. Glory is the result of an alliance between the Lady Demeter and Lord Silverfall two warring factions that settled their feud by marriage. Raised in her mother's world and trained by the Amazonians, she emerged as their finest warrior. However, she struggles to control her savagery. 

Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell have been working on Glory from issue 23 forward, and Glory has been leaving a bloody wake in her path. This week we have the beginning of the end. Joe and Ross have had their run head toward a natural conclusion. As a reader and a fan I am sad to see this comic go but respect the team’s decision to end the book on a high note. Funny enough this book is an example of art imitating life. Not to give too much away, this issue revolves around goodbyes. Glory, Gloriana, Riley and the rest of the team reach out to their friends to say goodbye and get closure, before heading toward what is being described as a fight against an undefeatable force.

Campbell is joined on art by Owne Gieni, Emi Lenox, Sloane Leong, Jed Dougherty and Greg Hinkle who each take a character and show us what they would do with what could possibly be their last moments of life. This a beautiful issue that oozes gorgeousness. Issue 34 is well written and the changing from artist to artist between characters adds depth of perspective into how these characters relate to their world. Amazing issue!

Verdict - Must Read.


Story by: Tim Seeley
Art by: Elena Casagrande
Colors by: Nate Lovett
Letters by: CRANK!
Cover by: Elizabeth Torque

Mike Hunau: Now I'll start this review by prefacing the fact that I've never read an issue of Tim Seeley's Hack/Slash.  So with issue #23 being my first, I'm not sure I would track down the first 22 issues to get caught up.

Hack/Slash is supposed to be a scary, gore-filled slasher movie in comic form, right? The series stars Cassie, an archetypal horror victim who strikes back at slashers. The idea is actually awesome and perhaps it is executed better in previous issues, but this one feels a bit clunky. The story itself moves along in a linear fashion, the characters form a plan to stop a truck shipment of stab soda and succeed in doing so after an action-packed car chase. The scenes feel long and when the bits of action do come around, the art just doesn't do it justice. I've heard nothing but great things about Mike Norton's work on this book, but my experience with current artist Elena Casagrande didn't blow me away. The fight scene with Cassie on the soda truck had some very questionable panels where I even struggled to figure out whose limbs belonged to who. It also didn't help that most of the issue was a lot of sitting around talking about problems, with little resolution.

For anyone who was in the situation I was - hearing praise about this book and putting it on the read-when-you-have-time list - I would have to recommend against this issue as a jumping-on point. Although it's clear what's going on, I found it hard to grasp onto the characters as well as enjoy what I was looking at. Hack/Slash may have previously had some better issues, I would have to recommend against picking this one up.

Verdict - Byrne It.


Story by: Robert Kirkman
Pencils by: Ryan Ottley
Inks by: Cliff Rathburn
Colrs by: John Rauch
Letters by: Rus Wooton

Mike Hunau: I've spent the last three weeks reading Invincible 1 - 99 in preparation for this issue, because I wanted to be caught up for such an important milestone (and the fact that it's gotten a ton of praise), and I'm so glad I did. Issue 100 was great. Plain and simple.

Really harkening back to earlier issues when Mark Grayson first discovered his powers, Robert Kirkman focused on solving an internal battle our main character has been fighting for some time now, and it was such a great payoff. Wrapping up "The Death of Everyone" arc, I have to say I was surprised and saddened by who ended up being offed, but see the importance in doing so and s/he will be missed (no spoilers!) The opening few pages are insanely gruesome while also being extremely beautiful. I'm pretty sure I'd frame and hang on my wall the first quarter of this book. Ryan Ottley hits the ground running right from page one, but then takes it back a notch, allowing dialogue to drive the middle of book with just characters on a black background. The strategy worked wonders and kept the attention focused on the situation, without any distraction. The issue ends on a beat, that after a lot of absolute mayhem, left me (like I always am with Mr. Kirkman's books) wanting more.

If you like super heroes, if you like Invincible, or even If you just like good comic books, do yourself a favor and pick up Invincible #100. Totally worth every penny.

Verdict - Must Read.

MacGyver: Fugitive Gauntlet #4

Story by: David Zlotoff and Tony Lee
Art by: Will Sliney
Colors by: Ownen Jollands
Letters by: Aditya Bidikar
Cover by: Andie Tong and Ciaran Lucas

Hansel Moreno: This book is all CHEESE. I mean that in the fondest way. While I haven't been following this series I am no stranger to re-runs of MacGyver on Saturday afternoons from now and then. This series captures the spirit of the show. You can read characters openly mocking MacGyver while he MacGyvers (building amazingly useful items out of anything) his way out of situations. 

In this issue, MacGyver is being held against his will (naturally) and interrogated for information he does not have. He escapes! He crafts! HE MACGYVERS! 

I genuinely got a few laughs out of this issue and the plot was pretty straight forward, so not reading the first 3 issues did not leave me at a loss. Having David Zlotoff (one of the original creators of the show) on board as a writer is a big plus. The art team does a solid job of depicting all the crazy improvised (I'm trying to cut back on my use of "MacGyver'd") inventions. I have to say, I will be back next month to see how MacGyver gets out of this one.

Verdict - Check It.

Mara #2

Story by: Brian Wood
Art by: Ming Doyle
Colors by: Jordie Bellaire

Willian Tournas: MARA is a comic about digging deep into the human mind and also exploring the overall impact that comes with a gifted athlete manifesting superhuman abilities in a sports-and-war obsessed future.

Issue #2 deals with the fallout from the end of first issue, where our lead character Mara, used super speed unknowingly to go under the volleyball net and stop her opponents serve.

Brian Wood builds on the tone of the series by exploring more of the world of sports celebrity, how they seemed to be worshiped and how damage control needs to be done when something comes to light.

The issue opens with news helicopters circling Mara’s apartment, and then following a car conversation with Mara’s publicist on the way to a press conference. I could easily see the same happening now in real life, when it’s revealed an athlete has been taking performance enhancing drugs.

Ming Doyle’s art continues to be impressive, with her energetic drawings flowing from one panel to another easily showing Mara’s inner turmoil and frustration at everything going on around her that she can’t control.

Jordie Bellaire always goes above and beyond with her choices of colours on every book she works on. So much so here, in that her colours compliment Doyle’s art with her fantastic choice of palette, cementing the book in its futuristic setting.

Given it is the second issue in a miniseries, I feel someone could easily jump onto this here without having the read the first one, but you would be missing out on an enriching first book. Definitely check this series out and grab a copy of one if you haven’t already. 

Verdict - Buy It.

ZED: A Cosmic Tale

Story/Art by: Michel Gagne

Liam Jose: Michel Gagné is considered royalty in the animation world, which is why his face appears on the lowest denominations of my cartoon money. Zed was published as a ten-issue series that took Gagné over a decade to complete, and follows the titular character, Zed, after he accidentally kills the most important people in the galaxy and sparks an intergalactic war. Gagné infuses the space opera with an undeniable energy and sense of wonder.

However, the art, while marvelously stylish and cutely rendered, doesn't have a good flow from panel to panel, and is bogged down with unnecessary captions explaining the happenings on the page (in the backmatter, Gagné explains that he removed a lot of the exposition before he released this collected edition - I dread how the series would have read previously). And the dialogue... oh, man... the dialogue. Some of this stuff is on the level of The Room - "By the way, I've got some great news. While you were healing I used my powers to destroy Maxuss' army and free our world." or "One moment we were all dying, and now everything is cool."

I can't figure out who this thing is aimed at - in so many ways, it feels childish, but then there's all the ultra violence and tedious pseudo-intellectualism. Gagné says that the target audience is himself, and he clearly has his fans, but Zed does little to win over new ones.

Verdict - Check it.

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