Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Image Round-Up - August 7th 2013

The Image Round Up column aims to get some words down on Image Comics book published for the week. This weeks reviews are handled by William Tournas, Ricardo Guajardo and Hansel Moreno. 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 Activity #14, Burn The Orphanage #1, Miniature Jesus #4,  Fatale #16, Legend of Luther Strode #6, Manhattan Projects #13, Prophet #38 and Sheltered #2.

This week the team decided Legend of Luther Strode #6 is COVER OF THE WEEK! Read Ricardo's preview for more info!

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.

The Activity #14

Story by: Nathan Edmondson
Art By: Mitch Gerads

William Tournas: After a break for a few months, The Activity is back with issue #14 "Sea Level". 

As I've mentioned in the past, each issue of The Activity is able to stand on its own, while also contributing to the overall ongoing storyline. Nathan Edmondson & Mitch Gerads have continued this with the current issue. 

Team Omaha has been been split in two as they go on separate missions. Zoe (Bookstore) is tracking down a lead in Amsterdam that may unearth more information as to Zeus's previous involvement in a terrorist cell there, while the rest of the team is in the Gulf of Mexico trying to stop a drug shipment where the weather threatens the mission.

Edmondson is amazing at back and forth storytelling, as both missions dealt with high stakes drama. They played off each other and kept me on the edge of my seat till the last page. You had the sense that you were actually in the control room back at HQ monitoring the missions.

Gerads was stellar on art duties. His art matched the tone of each mission and changed to suit with an amazing flow. I love the way how he lets the slower intense moments linger with you even after you've left the page.

Do yourselves a favour and get onto this series!

Verdict - Must Read

Burn the Orphanage #1

Co-Written & Drawn by Sina Grace 
Co-written by Daniel Freedman 
Colors by John Rauch
Lettering by Rus Wooton 

Ricardo Guajardo: If you think you've read the most epic comic, you ain't read anything yet. One way to describe this comic by Sina Grace (Little Depressed Boy) and Daniel Freedman (Undying Love) is that it's grind-house action meets beat 'em up fighting game. It's a tribute to over the top action while keeping things uncomplicated for those that just want an enjoyable read. 

The plot features Rock,the lead character, as he tries to find answers for his tragic past. Thing is...finding them ain't easy. Despite the difficulty, he's got friends Bear and Lex to help him watch his back and smash some skulls in. Ok, as corny as that sounds in the vein of teaser trailers, it's still a howling good time reading this with the simple yet smooth art style by Sina Grace. Sure, the dialogue can be cheesy but its written to never be taken seriously with a plot that manages to roundhouse kick my low expectations in the face. 

Want Walking Dead-style suspense? You came to the wrong place. Expecting Chew-level humor? Once again, you went to the wrong place. However, if you wanted to see folks get beat up by the baddest group of players you're home. 

Verdict: Buy It!

Fatale #16

Story by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips
Colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser

Hansel Moreno: One of the most intriguing parts of Fatale is that you can pick any issue, dive in and have an entire cast of characters spring up and develop in front of your very eyes. Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker do have a small on-going casts but the nature of Fatale's lead Jo is that of a wanderer. From place to place and time to time she springs up and sadly death is never far behind. 

Jo's powerful allure has affected men but in issue 16 we see her effect on a group of 20 somethings that agree to let the mysterious stranger crash with them. 

Sean Phillips takes us from a dorm room to bank robberies to the nightmare dreamscapes of terror addled misfortunates that cross paths with Jo. Sean along with Elizabeth Breitweiser's colors accentuate the subtleties of a passionate kiss, a dark moment of loneliness and countless small moments that make us human. This issue has the workings of a horror movie where the killer is hidden with in all the characters. As the tension grows between Jo's new acquaintances the issue is open ended with a few familiar faces tracking Jo down. 

Long time readers or any one interested in checking this title out will have no problem enjoying this issue.

Verdict - Must Read

Legend of Luther Strode #6

Written by Justin Jordan
Drawn by Tradd Moore
Colored by Felipe Sobreiro
Letters by Fonografiks

Hansel Moreno: First off Tradd Moore and Felipe Sobreiro knock this issue out of the park. Brutal fights, gore filled shopping malls and wide eyed terror locked on people's faces left and right. Gorgeous, gorgeous work.

Legend of Luther Strode, for those not initiated, is the second series from Justin Jordan, Tradd and Felipe. Luther (in The Strange Talent of Luther Strode) found a mysterious book (written by Cain himself) and with rabid dedication gained complete mastery over his body. All his troubles escalated and left Luther an emotional wreck. 

In this second series Petra, Luther's love interest, takes a central role hunting down Luther to force him out of his self imposed exile. This roller coaster series comes to a head as Petra and Luther face off with another of Cain's disciples: Jack the Ripper. 

This issue is not as definitive as the conclusion to the first series and very clearly leaves room for a third series. The other unadulterated joy contained in this issue is any and all expressions drawn by Tradd. He can draw the heck out of a panic stricken face.

Verdict - Must Read

Sheltered #2

Co-created, Written and Lettered by Ed Brisson
Co-created and Art by Johnnie Christmas 
Colored by Shari Chankhamma 

Ricardo Guajardo: People living at Safe Haven sure got it rough. In the first issue a kid named Lucas managed to convince the rest of his fellow teenagers to kill their parents and run things the way they want to (similar to Lord of the Flies). Now in this issue we follow Victoria, who was introduced previously, and shows how she adapts in the events that happen. One thing is for certain, these characters will never be the same...

I gotta admit, I already was sold to the premise and it did deliver, though the follow-up is hard to maintain. How did it stack up compared to the previous issue? Pretty good as the characterization by writer Ed Brisson manages to put the readers into the comic and have them wondering where the story goes next for these teenagers. Artist Johnnie Christmas nails down the look of these folks and makes the environment where they are settled in believable. Another person that deserves credit is Shari Chankhamma as it bought the comic to another level as the visuals made the comic stand out in my opinion. 

Overall, the comic manages to pick up the ball from the first issue and run with the momentum. The recap in the beginning does an excellent job telling the story thus far. I really can't describe how intriguing the idea of chaos and unpredictability the story is, making me believe that sometimes the worst enemies come from within. I'm telling you folks, this comic has potential to be another Image winner. 

Verdict: Must Read

Miniature Jesus #4

Created, Written, & drawn by Ted McKeever
Ricardo Guajardo: Each time I keep thinking about the past issues of Miniature Jesus, it always surprises me on how trippy the visuals and story telling are in the comic. Ted McKeever could either be telling one of the greatest religious stories in comics, or just maybe a simple down-to-earth story about staying somber. Either way, its a very fascinating series despite the crazy stuff going in the past issues, its among one of those books where the reader is gonna look back and go, "Man, that was some book" due to the high quality storytelling that went into it.

The art by Ted McKeever ranges from cartoony to highly detailed as the story goes off the rails. I really like the black and white visual tone as it really gives a different vibe if it was colored and would downgrade the quality quite a bit. The dialogue isn't family friendly as its made for mature readers and to be honest, it's fine as once in awhile there has to be stories where the reader gets conflicted whether to ponder about the overall message of the book or shrug it off altogether. My opinion is that there is a certain distinctness about Miniature Jesus that makes me reflect on it each time I think about it.

Sure, one drawback in the series is that if anyone were to drop in as a new reader they will surely be lost. Heck, I got to admit I'm not even sure what the general premise as I mentioned previously but I chalk that up to the creative aspect of the book. Of course it might even be read better as a collected edition thus the reason the plot seems scattered all over the place. That being said, I still can't help but appreciate what the comic brings to the table altogether. Miniature Jesus is confusing as ever, but the amount of quality work on it anybody will take notice as the comic still manages to grab me as a reader.

Verdict: Buy It!

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