Sunday, December 22, 2013

Image Round-Up - December 18th 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 Ricardo Guajardo. He'll be dropping non-spoilery reviews so you can best make up your mind on what to buy. 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. 

Hello folks! This week I'll be taking a look at Black Science #2, Saga #17, Ten Grand #6, East of West #8, Mind The Gap #16 and Sex #9.

This week Black Science #2  is the Book of the week!

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.

Black Science #2

Written By Rick Remender
Art by Matteo Scalera
Colors by Dean White
Letters & Design by Rus Wooton

If there is one comparison I can make about Black Science is that it is a twisted version of Lost in Space/Sliders-like characters mixed in with Memento-style time frames in comic form. That isn't a slight towards the comic at all, matter of fact its a reason more-so to check it out as writer Rick Remender (Strange Girl, Fear Agent) has gotten his feet back into the sci-fi genre. Matteo Scalera (Dead Body Road) after making a splash twice this month, brings in his impressive pencils to the book as his storytelling is a fitting example why readers crave creator owned comics. Add in Dean White, whose colors enhances Scalera's designs and brings out a certain "out of this world" experience that makes me think that this creative team is on to something with its take on science experiments gone wrong.

Last issue, it dealt with one of the characters dealing with inner demons and his failures as a family man whose trying to get on the road of redemption.The second issue, focuses on the rest of crew as their struggles in their adaptation to the new dimension they have escaped to. Once the reader gets through this issue, I assure you that they will have a sense of wonder and anticipation towards what new world the crew will jump into next. 

Not everything is cozy between these characters and that's what attracts me to this comic as not only the worlds they jump into but how they interact with one another. Who's really in charge of the group? How long before there is a mutiny? Either way, this comic is certainly going to entertain you by its sheer attention to detail in art and by the dramatic characters in the comic.

Its far from the comic that is sure to remembered as the title most folks want as "Book of the Year" but it certainly brings memories of what comics used to be, where anything goes and there were no limits to storytelling. While the comic debuted last month, it will make things easy for new readers to go back and check out. Black Science is fun and shouldn't be discarded from anyone's pull-list in the next year.

Verdict: Buy It!

Saga #17

Written by Brian K Vaughan 
Art by Fiona Staples

As Saga continues to be constant in bringing quality to comics today, one tends to wonder how long till the plot picks up as I admit, the comic in retrospective, has had some little dull moments here and there. 

Sure, the character development and dialogue is among the best in the industry today but I can't help wonder if the comic will ever have that sense of wonder as the beginning couple of issues. Brian K Vaughan knows how to tap into readers' emotions and somehow make them empathize with the characters in Saga. Add in the allure of the character designs by Fiona Staples as she has never lost a step, whether by designing the main characters like Alana and Marko to side characters like Lying Cat and Izabel.

In my opinion, I felt the past couple of issues featuring flashbacks and adding more characters felt unnecessary as it hurt the suspense readers were left gasping for more when a certain character made an appearance. Of course, the reader still has yet seen the payoff on why certain characters were introduced in the first place as their role seems to add more players to this grand tale of love and loss. I don't want the attraction of a comic to blind me as sooner or later the hook will tend to wear off and I want to see things pick up immensely. 

I will give the creative team their due as the plot seems to move on finally but I tend to question if things are what they seem given certain unnamed circumstances. Also much needed answers on certain characters the reader read about in earlier issues were given and to be honest, I'm not sure what to make of the revelation. To a degree, it makes sense in Saga, given the things readers have been exposed to, but I feel like there should have been more explanation on their actions.

One thing I have to give caution to is that this issue isn't reader friendly at all, if someone tends to jump in on the first time they will be lost on what is going on. Granted, Image has done a hell of a job by making the tradepaper back edition very affordable thus making back issue diving less of a headache. Other than those gripes and personal takes on the series, I believe this series can pick up given the creative team behind it. However, patience can only go so far and hopefully the chess board will have less pieces and more moves made in the game. No offense to faithful readers but I can't get behind this issue fully.

Verdict: Check It.

Ten Grand #6

Written by J. Michael Straczynski 
Art by C.P. Smith
Letters by Troy Peteri

As Ten Grand has made through some creative changes recently, I feel like the momentum of the comic may have had stumbled a bit. 

While JMS writing on the book hasn't been affected, the departure of Ben Templesmith and his unique art style was a big reason to check out the series. While artist C.P. Smith is certainly not a bad artist, in fact his art is a fair replacement, readers adjust to his visual style as the story goes on the next phase. That being said, this issue was a mixed bag in terms of what it brought to the table plot wise.

A quick recap thus far, Joe Fitzgerald continues his journey to save his love Laura from the forces of darkness as he steps into the realm of hell. In this issue, Joe bumps into several familiar folks from his life and new characters that could change the course of the story. While the story progressed nicely, I felt the execution of the comic felt a bit lacking in both writing and art. The cliffhanger kinda felt like a let down as it could have used more wisely to make the reader want to pick up the next issue, it felt more ho-hum ending and no sense of urgency after what has transpired in the previous issues. The art was far from bad, but just felt average in my opinion and didn't grab my attention to keep looking at the pages a little longer. 

Add these problems with not being reader friendly even with the beginning recap that was attached. Overall, this series could have continued to be must read but somewhere along the creative process it lost its focus after the creative changes to the book and it may have affected my perspective after reading this issue. I cannot understand how a comic that was in my past reviews, stumbled this much and in my opinion, makes this particular issue not worth picking up.

Verdict: Byrne It!

East of West #8

Have you faith in Hickman? I do, and for just the price of $3.50 plus tax you too can start to believe in Hickman. His work on this comic continues to impress and builds further for a grand tale of revenge. Alright, enough jokes about sounding like a religious scammer, but trust me when I say faithful readers will be rewarded with their continued investment in this series. 

Verdict: Check It.

Mind the Gap #16

After a brief hiatus on my end from not reading the series, imagine my surprise (despite my lack of familiarity) that Mind The Gap still holds up well thanks to the recaps and a brand new chapter that manages to be a great jumping on point for new readers or folks that lost track of the comic but still want to read more.

Verdict: Check It.

Sex #9

Talk about an action pack issue! This is essentially a flashback issue (that manages to not feel like filler) towards the next phase of the story. Gotta give it up to Joe Casey for making me interested once again in Sex (that didn't sound very right on my end). This is one comic I won't be kicking out of bed during my reading time in the near future...

Verdict: Check It.

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