Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Image Round-Up - 6th March 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 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 Bedlam #5,  Great Pacific #5, Lost Vegas #1, Mara #3, Repossessed #3, Savage Dragon #185, Sex #1, Son of Merlin #2, Witchbalde #164 and the collected edition of Severed.


This week, after a vicious round of bare knuckle boxing, Bedlam #5 is crowned the COVER OF THE WEEK! Read Hansel'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.


Sex #1

Story by: Joe Casey
Art By: Piotr Kowalski

Chris Partin: I can see it now. This Wednesday there will be a stack of “Sex” #1 issues sitting on a number of comic store shelves and retailers wondering why no one is picking up a book that’s so in your face.  I have mixed feelings about this book, but before I get to those let’s look at what this book is about and what it is not about – at least so far.

We’re introduced to Simon Cooke, who is a wealthy business owner in Saturn City.  Simon is returning to the city after a seven month departure.  The writer, Joe Casey, does not give the reasons why Simon has been gone but that’s okay.  We do learn bits and pieces about Simon and Saturn City as the issue progresses as we’re introduced to a number of interesting characters.  All of them seem to have some connection to Simon, or at least his former alternate identity – the Armored Saint.

The art by Pitor Kowalski is really striking and nice to look at, but it’s the coloring by Brad Simpson that really brings this book to life with its stark colors that just pop off the page.  A first issue really has to jump out at you, and the art really helps make a statement and resonates in your head after reading it.  And “yes” the sex scene in this book is quiet graphic, but that really isn't where I find the problem.

The problem I find with this book is the name.  Yeah, “sex” sells, but calling a book “Sex” may get people’s attention, but I really don’t think it will help with the sales beyond the first issue.  This book has strong writing and great art.  Calling the book “Sex” gets the initial attention, but if there are people who refuse to buy it because of the name or the fear of what could be inside, like those still recovering from “Black Kiss II”, the true enjoyment of this book will be ignored.  

Verdict - Buy It. 



Lost Vegas #1

Story by: Jim McCann
Art By: Janet Lee
Variant Cover by: Dan McDaid

Hansel Moreno: Lost Vegas is a weird comic. It's card sharks in space! Lost Vegas is a ship that carries wild parties and a cargo hold of prisoners trying to earn their freedom. This issue sets up the basics of the pyramid scheme being run on board and introduces us to the hapless protagonist. I liked the concept and this issues pacing, so I'm all in for the first story arc.

Jim McCann is no stranger to high concept creator owned work. I have enjoyed his work on Return of the Dapper Men (also with Jane Lee!) and Mind The Gap. Return of the Dapper Men was a wonderful self contained story that ended its telling exquisitely. Lost Vegas is off to a interesting start and Jim's previous work proves he can continue this level of excellence. Good luck to you Jim!

Aside from the wonderfully scripted cast, Janet Lee beings every character to life with her wonderful fluid art style. There is one shadow/liquid like creature that was slightly different every time and I can only imagine how much of Janet's time was put into each character's design and the over all crafting of this issue. 

Overall this was a fun issue that all ready has me rooting against the house!

Verdict - Must Read. 




Bedlam #5


Story by: Nick Spencer
Art By: Riley Rossmo
Cover By: Frazer Irving

Hansel Moreno: Welcome back to Bedlam. If you haven't been here before, beware. Bedlam is a hotbed of criminal activity. Murder, muggings and much, much worse.

Nick Spencer is not afraid to go dark in this book. A few decades ago children were hurt beyond help and the repercussions are now making their way to light. Like a rotting corpse discovered underneath your living room floorboards, this story makes monsters of the (until now) ordinary citizens of Bedlam. 

Riley Rossmo's art this issue is just visceral. There are some amazing splashes here and there but nothing beats Riley's character expressions. They are top notch. Smugness, Fear, Blind Panic. Riley really captures those subtle moments. Sadly this is Riley's second to last issue on Bedlam so savor these last moments of his in Bedlam.

Bottom line: This issue ramps up the current story and the flashbacks. The story still feels fresh and I can not wait for the next installment.

Verdict - Must Read. 




Great Pacific #5

Story by: Joe Harris
Art by: Martin Morazzo
Colors by: Tiza Studio
Letters by: Doug E. Sherwood

Hansel Moreno: Quick recap for Great Pacific,  Chas Worthington decides to embezzle funds from the family company to invest in a big pile of garbage. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch to be exact. This made quite a few people upset. The Worthington name in not something to run through the muck and forces are at play to ensure Chas shapes up or ships out. I'm truly sorry for all these puns but I am laughing my head off!

In this installment the Pirates from last issue divvy up the goods and no one is happy. There is a fight and things get messy.
Just as I was about to push the issue from my must read pile over the check out in trade Joe Harris amps up the action! Things get very complicated for Chas this time around.

Martin Morazzo and Tiza Studio maintain the high quality I've come to expect from their collaboration. This issue is peppered with action and both Martin and the studio's work really rocks! One of my favorite panels is a wind blown, grime covered Chas with an "Oh Sh--" expression defined on his face. 

Verdict - Must Read. 




Mara #3

Story by: Brian Wood
Art By: Ming Doyle & Jordie Bellaire
Cover By: Ming Doyle

William Tournas: When we last left Mara, she was rocketing towards the sky of her own accord due the flight abilities she randomly manifested.

This issue begins with crashing down to earth, badly. She survives after manifesting another ability, but now has to come to terms with that fact her mystery powers have been revealed to everyone in a very public way.

Brian Wood continues to weaves a great tale using the star athlete archetype in it's futuristic setting. The breadcrumbs keep being dropped, sucking you in and leaving you wanting more even when the final page hits.

Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire's art continues to be out of this world with each issue. Both complimenting each other and showcasing the emotion that Mara is going throughout this ordeal.

I'm looking forward to where this series is going, and highly recommend that you try to catch up with the first issues if you haven't already.

Verdict - Must Read. 





Repossessed #3

Story/Art by: JM Ringuet

William Tournas: Just when I thought Repossessed couldn't get better, it blows my opinions out of the water.

Issue #3 takes place the morning after last issues cliffhanger, with Clay having left the team, and leaving Joe and Martha to pick up the pieces and figure out what to do from here.

From here the issue splits in two, telling Clay's tale as well Joe and Martha's. JM Ringuet does a great job of keeping the suspense between the two stories building as the issue moves onward to a twist you wont see coming.

Ringuet's art still astounds me by all the details he puts in his pages. Lots of bold inked lines, with amazingly rich colours that seems to bring everything to life.

What are you doing reading this review? Go buy the issue already! It's a fantastic ride!

Verdict - Must Read. 



Savage Dragon #185

Story/Art by: Erik Larsen

Chris Partin: The last several years of “Savage Dragon” have been leading up to this point with the Trial of the Savage Dragon.  What would the verdict be? That’s something you’ll need to read this issue to find out, but that’s not all that happens in this issue.  Oh, no.  There was a pregnancy announced. A wedding held. A new job offer made. And on top of that, a verdict handed down.  

If you’re unfamiliar with “Savage Dragon” – shame on you.  If you’re new or a long time reader to this series this issue is a good issue for all of you to enjoy because Larsen never backs down from cramming in as much in each issue as he can.  While providing probably more story per page than any other book on the shelf, Larsen keeps the flow of the story steady and transitions between sub plots with fluid ease. 

The art in this issue is solid Larsen craftsmanship. I have been following this series since its debut and Larsen has not let up one bit in the art department.  He may experiment a little from time to time, but it doesn’t take away from the quality or entertainment he provides each issue.  

“Savage Dragon” is always near the top of my reading pile each month and it deserves your attention. Check it out!

Verdict - Buy It.




Son of Merlin #2

Story by: Robert Napton
Art By: Zid

William Tournas: I'm a big fan of Magic and Fantasy stories, and when they're set against modern times with the inclusion of technology it's even better.

After the cliffhanger ending of this last issue, Robert Napton continues to keep the kicking into high gear with Simon Ambrose (The Son of Merlin) and Gwen trying to escape Morgana La Fey's lackeys.

I felt this issue was paced quite well, mixing fast paced action with quieter moments involving Morgana. The mix of Modern elements with Magic is great: MAGIC BULLETS!

The artwork by Zid continues to amaze, with highly detailed painted panels and rendering which seems to make the pages come alive as if by Magic.

This series is very much worth a gander. Check it out!

Verdict - Buy It. 


Witchblade #164

Story by: Tim Seeley
Art by: Diego Bernard & Fred Benes
Cover by: John Tyler Christopher
Variant Cover by: Diego Bernard & Fred Benes


Chris Partin: Before you go any further you should notice that this is the second part of the “Progeny” story arc that began in “Artifacts #25”. While it isn’t completely necessary to have read that issue to pick this one up and read it you may want to just to get the complete story. Beyond that, let’s dive into the review!

In the pages of “Artifacts” Tom Judge made his stand against Jackie Estacado with some of the artifact bearers.  He failed to enlist the help of Sara and the Witchblade and failed in defeating Jackie and the Darkness.  Knowing this, Jackie decided to take it upon himself to visit Sara and an obvious conflict ensued.  Tom thought he would use the fact that Jackie had removed Sara’s memory of Hope would cause her to be angry enough with Jackie to defeat him.  What Tom didn’t expect, nor did Sara, was the bit of information Jackie has been holding on since the end of the last universe and the creation of this new one when all that survived was Jackie, Sara, and Hope.  

Tim Seeley continues to forge his own path with this series and in doing so keeps Sara, at her core, the same, but adds twists and turns that keep this series so enjoyable.  Sara has been through a lot in her life and this issue’s events are just more fuel to that fire and Seeley writes Sara’s struggles and frustrations so well.  The dialogue is sharp and really digs into who these characters are.  

“Progeny” is the first crossover arc since the creative teams have changed on the core books at Top Cow and there doesn’t seem to be any kind of slip between tone and direction between the two writers and artists of “Artifacts” and “Witchblade”.  It’s always nice to see a crossover storyline work like this one.  

The art by Diego Bernard is solid in this issue.  I find that in every issue Bernard steps up his game just a little here and there and within just a few issues there is drastic improvements in his work, not that there was any needed.  As a long time reader of this series, I always like seeing growth in artists over the course of their time on this series, and Bernard is doing just that.  The colors by Arif Prianto and Beny Maulana are really strong in this issue.  The opening pages are particularly strong and vibrant.  This art team is putting a strong stamp on this series and making it their own.  

“Witchblade” will always be on my list of books to read because the creative teams that have been on this series come in with their own strengths and build on what has come before and elevate the series to the next plateau.  This issue is a good example of that push with the revelation from Jackie and I’m looking forward to seeing how this comes into play for this series in the coming issues.

Verdict - Buy It.  



Severed Volume 1 Collection

Story by: Scott Snyder & Scott Tuft
Art By: Attila Futaki

Hansel Moreno: Jeepers Creepers! The two Scotts tell a tale of misery, terror, love, suspicion and even a little humor. Jack, A boy on the verge of manhood wants to know his roots. Sam, a wild and free spirit wants to live free of oppression. All the while a man haunts the roads - a man with sharp teeth and a hunger for flesh. Read this story to see how quickly the American Dream becomes a nightmare.

This story gave me the chills and then tore my heart out. Figuratively of course. I can not tell what is Snyder's or Tuft's work but the story is whole and takes on its own life. You will feel for these characters. 

Attila Futaki is amazing. If you haven't seen his work before this (or The Lightning Thief for younger readers) is a great way to see how amazing at world building comic art can be.

Verdict - Must Read. 




Nowhere Men T Shirt

Science is the new rock 'n' roll.
Available in red and black.

Art By:Fonografiks

Hansel Moreno: Not much to review here. This shirt comes with the right amount of holes pre-installed and it shows support for one of the greatest comic out there: Nowhere Men. The only comic that might actually melt your face off!


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