Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Image Round-Up - 20th February 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 Chris Partin 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 Happy #4, It Girl and the Atomics #7, Revival #7, Saga #10, Thief of Thieves #12, and the Tales From Beyond Science collection.

This week after a brutal round of Fight Club thumb wars and much sobbing we have declared SAGA #10 the COVER OF THE WEEK! Read William's review for more info!

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 reviews are graded according to the following scale:

Must Read. -- Do not miss this hot piece of comic action!
Buy It. -- For memories sake.
Check It. -- This is a toss up. Up to you really.
Byrne It. (skim it on the rack). -- Look at it but don't leave with it.
Avoid It. -- Steer clear.

Happy! #4

story Grant Morrison
art Darick Robertson
Variant Cover by: Frank Quitely

Liam José: It's strange to think that Grant Morrison has never written for Image Comics before. The creator and publisher seem like an obvious paring, but Happy! marks the first time the two have worked together.

Happy! is the story of Sax, an ex-cop, current hitman, who's on the run from the mob. Also, Happy, a blue dragon thing, is talking to him, begging him to save Hailey. See, Happy is Hailey's imaginary friend, and for some reason, Sax can see Happy, too.

This comic is one of the best of the year. At just four issues, you owe it to yourself to read the whole thing and get the inevitable trade collection. Morrison manages to mock the '90s grim-n-gritty comics trend, while also putting together a wholly satisfying read. Everything is profane, violent and beautiful. And he juxtaposes that with the absurd sweetness of Pete's Dragon. This is a major work from the man who brought us The Filth and The Invisibles. And Darick Robertson's work hasn't looked better than this in... well, hell, it might never have looked better than this. It's great, okay?

This is unfiltered Morrison crazy, and it's excellent. I'd be happier if he just did independent stuff from now on. This is how you craft comics - with joy, with, anger, grit, satire and empathy for your characters.

Verdict - Must Read. 

It Girl and the Atomics #7

story Jamie S. Rich
art Mike Norton
colors Allen Passalaqua
cover Michael & Laura Allred

Hansel Moreno: It Girl is back in top form! Er...sort of...

After being in a funk for a while, mindlessly playing video games, as some of us tend to do from time to time, It Girl looked for some cheap thrills in an unperfected science experiment and was forced to deal with unresolved family issues. All these misadventures are collected in It Girl & Atomics Round One Dark Streets Snap City. 

After an issue #6 one shot, issue #7 starts off the The World is Flat story arc. It Girl has to resolve a kidnapping and things do not go well. Slip ups, mishaps and puns pepper this issue that already is full of delicious eye candy. Allen Passalaqua adds an amazing layer of fun, jazzy colors. Mike Norton's art is gorgeous as always and the story got a some solid laughs out of me. I can't wait to jump back in to this universe next month!

Verdict - Must Read. 

Revival #7


Chris Partin: There’s a lot going on in this latest issue of “Revival” and if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss something.  The one thing you can’t miss is the reveal of who killed Rick and Justin.  This reveal makes a lot of sense and really just adds that next layer of story that just pushes this story forward.

Tim Seeley and Mike Norton continue putting together an amazing story that just builds off itself each issue at an enjoyable and intriguing rate.  World building is so important to creating a new series.  Creators have to build enough in each issue to develop the story and keep readers interested while not trying to either overwhelm them or keep the story from dragging.  There’s a fine line and Seeley and Norton know where it is and keep “Revival” on hovering above that line.  While the basis of the series seems very sci-fi and mysterious, the characters are very real and developed for such a new series.

Norton’s art with coloring by Mark Englert and letters by Crank! remains strong. Norton continues to be one of the industry’s best storytellers with his page and panel layouts and crisp linework. Englert’s colors provide a great deal of depth to the art and adding that subtle touch that helps readers know what’s going on in a snow storm.  Trust me, read the issue and you’ll see what I mean.

In the end, “Revival” is a series that needs to be on your list of books you’re reading.  Strong characters. Intriguing storytelling. Great art. Really?  What more do you want?

Verdict - Must Read. 

Saga #10

art / cover  FIONA STAPLES

William Tournas: Saga goes back to its regular formula and overall narrative with issue #10, after last month's focus almost entirely on The Will.

Brian K. Vaughan doesn't miss a beat with this issue, opening up as he done in the past with previous issues, by giving us a glimpse into another layer of Marko and Alana's past and how their relationship began.

Vaughan's work with his characters is what draws me more into this series with every issue. The dynamic between Alan and Marko's father Barr, continues to grow into this remarkably sweet Father/Daughter relationship.

Marko and his mother Klara are still continuing their search for Izabel. You can feel the tension between them, despite what they're currently facing on the planet. I don't think this tension between the two will be going away for many issues to come.

Fiona Staples artwork is amazing as always. Although we see some new creatures in this issue, her artwork is more focused on character work rather than world building, with exciting character interaction scences one after the other. There is a fantastic double spread page in this issue as well that I would love to see/own as a print.

Issue #10 of Saga is a fun fast beat issue, despite its gut wrenching cliffhanger that left me swearing quite loudly Brian K. Vaughan's name, and wanting to read issue #11 straight away.

Verdict - Must Read. 

Thief of Thieves #12

story Robert Kirkman & James S Asmus 
art / cover Shawn Martinbrough & Felix Serrano

Hansel Moreno: Thief of Thieves is about the greatest thief of all, Redmond, who decides he has had enough of this mess of a life and turns a new page...almost. He decides to steal from the worst of the worst. 

This issue builds the rising action and cuts you off before the big pay off. Classic Kirkman! Although this book is his brain child, the true credit goes to James Asmus (Also on The End Times of Ben and Bram) for penning this chapter. I'm still not sold on this title and I read it issue to issue but I'll be sure to be back next month to see how they get out of this one. Switching back between flash backs and the current situation in this issue threw the pacing off a bit, but it was able to finish strong. 

When artist Shawn Martinbrough shines, he shines! The cover is amazing, but some panels are missing the polish that make the difference from good and great. The color work by Felix Serrano is good! When the art flags a little the colors hold it together. As a spectator I can only say I hope they find their rhythm and push forward to make a better comic!

Verdict - Byrne It.

Tales From Beyond Science TPB or HC

story by Mark Millar, Alan McKenzie, John Smith
art by Rian Hughes

Liam José: Collecting a bunch of old shorts from 2000 A.D., nominally, the "Tales From Beyond Science", which I guess is the reason they named this tale for it. Sometimes it's just logic, guys.

I was unfamiliar with these shorts, but they're great. Sometimes, their ambition outreaches the quality of the writing, which surprised me, considering we're dealing with past-Mark Millar here (not the evil future-doppelganger who writes under his name since the Ultimates wrapped). All of these writers are going for a spoofy Twilight Zone feel here, complete with our dapper narrator who wanders in and out of the stories being told.

What is consistently awesome, though, is the art by Rian Hughes. He plays with clean lines, fun layouts and beautiful design all through this, and it gave my eye a bit of a stiffy, which sucked, because my eye had just been called in front of the class to complete an equation.

These are snappy, fun, light and occasionally exceptionally clever little stories that are a must for fans of things that are awesome.

Verdict - Must Buy  

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Eric van Schaik said...

I really like this column. Not all the comics are my cup of tea, but Image has become my favorite publisher because of the diversity.
From this collection of books I buy Saga monthly and Happy and Thieve of Thieves in trades.
I will try Revival if my LCS in Utrecht (the Netherlands) has them.

Hansel Moreno said...

Thanks for reading Eric! Saga is just wonderful. How did you like that cliffhanger in Thief of Thieves?

Eric van Schaik said...

Hi Hansel. I didn't skip through the issue in my LCS. I want to keep it a surprise until reading the TPB.
Thanks to you guys i'm becoming more and more of a trade fan.
I'm buying only 10 comics monthly.

Hansel Moreno said...

Nice! Keep that list short! You don't want to start a 40 title pull list.

Eric van Schaik said...

I had a long pull list years ago. But thanks to the 4 dollar rule I stopped buying Marvel and apart from Batman(also Inc.)/Batwoman also no more DC. Now most are Image.

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