Writer: Michael Stock
Artist: Sina Grace
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Welcome to the most magical day for any young kid… Christmas Day! Reading through the first issue, I felt like I was a family friend to Penny, her mother and their cat Iggy, as we got to see a day in the life of this family. All of their quirks and wishes are on display for us as there is a lone present left under the tree that strangely appeared on their doorstep the day before. The two get to dreaming about what could be in the present; Penny wants a for her mom and dad to share a milkshake with hearts in their eyes, the cat dreams of ham and of course the adult wishes for piles of money.
I was unsure what to expect from this book as I read, but that all seemed to take a back burner. I was no longer reading this story waiting for the pitfall or problem to arise, because I was too caught up in realizing how exact to real life the mannerisms were that by the final page I felt like I knew down to the finest detail who these characters were. Of course there are some questions unanswered but the gist of what needed to be portrayed got through, even the odd sense of humor that the father supposedly has even though we don’t see him. The real fun in this book comes when the abilities of the mysterious box are revealed. There is an ominous shroud of mystery around the box due to the pretense of Penny being scared of the voice asking her “What do you want”, but that all gets washed over in the end when the Iggy the cat gets a chance to inspect the box.
The characters in this story are given a life through the coloring, from the clothes they wear to the energetic colors that fill the panels. The art style is one that make this comic book’s story the focus. The drawings and colors are good and tell a story on their own, but the main focus is the writing and how well by the end of the issue you get to know the family. The extra page at the end “From the writer’s desk…” was a special treat that always enhances the comic book experience (for me at least). In this case, finding out the origin of the story and seeing a photo of the inspiration for the characters has a heartwarming effect that makes the family that much more the family down the street that you might go sing a Christmas Carol to.
*Review by Cory Anderson
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist and Cover Color: Benjamin Dewey
Color Art: Jordie Bellaire
Their world is changing, the magic is failing and that is a huge issue, considering one of the major wizarding cities is a colossal flying city held up by levitation spells. This is an amazingly constructed magical world where the characters are kind gentlebeings, meaning they are not human. More than anthropomorphic animals, the gentlebeings that make up this world are strong, fierce and clothed like the wizarding masters they are storied to be, and they are very devote and obedient to their gods, even fearing them. Joining the colloquy that is to take place and discuss the future of their magic, are the sons and daughters of the masters of magic. Not only are we getting to see these animals in humanoid form display their animalistic qualities that become the typecast for their personalities, we also get to see the curious minds of their children
This is an amazingly detailed and colored world that is as rich as the story. With a brief overview of their deities which includes the proper prayer, the portfolio of the god and their domains, you get a sense that this is a well-planned world that covers everything. The art in this is just as fantastic as the scenes and cities that fills the panels. The art doesn’t just stop with a breathtaking view of the floating city, but it also has very strong and powerful character designs that can be described just as one of the children does as mysterious, fierce and challenging. Being a story about magic, when spells and magical events are occurring, the coloring really shines. The power of these magicians and the grandeur of everything going on in this world is brilliantly colored and illustrated to the point where you can almost feel the heat coming from the magic circle.
All of this wonderful story that has been written and illustrated through 30 plus pages comes to a devastating and horrendous end, when the need for more magic and a savior plummets the floating city to the ground. The fall out and illustrated splash page completely smash all of the fantasy and magical feeling you may have had for this world. The very icon that displays the epitome of their culture is a crater site and not many survivors are seen in the end. All in the quest to gain more magic, which in the end, they achieved their goal, but at what price? The world was changing around them, and they found a way to obtain what they needed, but in the process they changed the course of all their lives. The final few panels leave us wanting to know more, to explore more and to see if all they lost will be worth it.
*Review by Cory Anderson
Written by: Keenan Marshall Keller
Art by: Tom Neely
The Humans #1 is a wild ride that you won’t see coming. I surely didn’t and it took some time to sink in. I mean we’re talking about Planet of the Apes meets Easy Rider in a rowdy Rated R world of sex, drugs, choppers and violence. What more could you want in a ape biker gang?
Keenan Marshall Keller took his love of 1970’s exploitation films and transferred it to comics in this tale of rough and tumble bikers, The Humans, roaming the roads of Bakersfield, California laying a fallen rider to rest while battling a rival gang. It’s more than a capable homage to the low-budget, gratuitously violent outlaw biker films of the late ’60s and early ’70s. The Humans is Russ Meyer-incarnate capturing the tone and tempo of those cult classic features that exposed America to the seedy underbelly of biker gangs. Except Keller swaps humans for apes creating an alternate reality that is bizarre but totally compelling.
Tom Neely designed a perfectly laid out issue that incorporates larger panels for wide shots in the desert to fun splash pages that compartmentalizes the action. Neely’s greatest gift to The Humans is the creative and diverse character design. He had the tough task to create a world inhabited by apes yet they come in all shapes and sizes, some more human in appearance than others, each one different than the next. The attention to detail is first rate and it’s especially evident when he draws the characters in a long line, shoulder to shoulder, and you can see the amount of work and passion involved.
The Humans is a time machine to a seedy movie house in some downtown metropolis with sticky floors and a single screen watching Naked Angels or Motorpsycho. The fact the characters are apes is just an added bonus. Keller and Neely have created a subgenre within a subgenre within a subculture that slaps the reader awake and reinvigorates what adult comic books are all about.
*Review by Enrique Rea
Written by: Pat McHale
Art by: Jim Campbell
Colors by: Danielle Burgos
Over the Garden Wall is a miniseries currently airing on Cartoon Network. It tells the story of Wirt and Greg, two brothers lost in The Unknown, a strange and bizarre place filled with skeletons that wear pumpkins as clothes and talking birds, as well as a terrifying creature known as The Beast. Wirt and Greg are foils and trying to return home. The miniseries itself is a delightful piece of work, weaving in an early 20th century design and a simplistic yet elegant art style with dashes of humor. The comic is no different.
The comic is a snippet of Wirt and Greg’s time in The Unknown, while trying to get to Adelaide of the Pasture, who according to their bird companion Beatrice will help them get back home. The art in the book is not as polished as the show, but still remarkably good. This issue is sillier than the show, but still just as wonderful. If you like the miniseries than you’ll definitely like this comic special, and if you’ve never watched the series, check out the comic. It provides a good snapshot of what the show is like.
Over the Garden Wall airs on Cartoon Network every day this week at 7:00 pm. You can watch the first episode on Cartoon Network’s website or download the first episode free from iTunes.
*Review by Tyler Pollock
Written by: Tony Puryear & Erika Alexander
Art by: Tony Puryear
Concrete Park #3 continues to build the seedy and dangerous world of Oasis and their brutal gang rivalries. It’s a world we’ve seen before but never with characters of color taking the lead. This ambitious mini-series from Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander is exciting and mysterious but their goals and aspirations may be too wide and varied for the limited format. There’s a narrative that keeps expanding leading us to new characters and situations while losing character development along the way.
With such an expansive canvas as this prison planet with warring gangs it can be easy to stray away from the main plot point. Unless the focus is Luca who we’ve gotten to know better and this issue demonstrates more of her thought process amid the danger she faces being on the Potato King’s hit list. She’s smart and careful but resourceful. She’s a great character with some layers and has shown to be our lead. Or is she?
Isaac, the prisoner from Earth who crash landed while in transport, remains an oddity, a valuable one, to gang leader Silas. It’s not exactly clear why, except for his excellent fighting skills. This is something that we get to see a lot because he’s basically been jumping from one fight to another. His character development hasn’t moved much beyond some flashbacks and visions of his past. He remains a blank canvas for the most part. Was he supposed to be the lead? The anti-hero we root for or is he merely the device that moves the plot and serves as the reader surrogate? Again that’s not clear either.
The book is exciting, beautiful and reminiscent of ‘The Warriors’ and ‘Mad Max’ but I don’t know how they’re going to successfully wrap up this tale in five issues. Perhaps it’s not meant to be. And what is the end game here? A lot of questions remain especially after the latest cliffhanger. It’s still worth finding out though.
*Review by Enrique Rea
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Steve Epting & Elizabeth Breitweiser
Velvet continues to be the best spy series in comics. You can keep your Black Widow and Grayson I’ve got my money on Velvet Templeton. Initially dismissed as a female James Bond, Velvet can hold her own and then some. She’s knee deep in taking her former employer to task and holding Director Manning hostage is all part of the plan.
The issue takes off from page one and Velvet’s inner monologue demonstrates the cunning of a master agent, plotting her advance while anticipating the agency’s every move. Well, almost every move. It’s not only the calm cool demeanor of a stealth operator but that of its creator, Ed Brubaker. One of the best writers in the industry Brubaker holds his subjects with the utmost respect as well as his audience. It’s never been more evident than in the command he instills in Velvet. Always in control, always thinking two moves ahead she is a force to be reckoned with. Such qualities used to be reserved for male heroes to flourish under pressure usually to save a damsel in distress. Instead Brubaker has given a comic book market one of the greatest embodiments of feminine empowerment that it desperately needs. A fortysomething female super spy who’s brilliant, resilient and powerful.
Steve Epting’s pencils and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s colors successfully capture 1970’s London with a noir-ish pulp look full of shadows and muted tones. The focus is always set on Velvet, she’s in virtually every panel and you can’t take your eyes off of her. It’s a cinematic style that hits all the beats and angles that accentuate the action. The fluidness of the story in words and pictures comes from a creative team that are in sync on every issue.
Velvet is a winning series that doesn’t disappoint. If you enjoy a gritty spy thriller full of action and deadly conspiracies then this is the book for you.
*Review by Enrique Rea
Amazing Spider-Man #9 (Marvel)
Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: Olivier Coipel & Justin Ponsor
Epilogue art by: Guiseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith & Antonio Fabela
So this is the official first issue of Spider-verse (after many issues of Edge of Spider-verse) and it starts off with a bang! This issue finally sucks 616 Peter Parker into the Spider-verse mess and introduces him to all the other Spidey’s. I thought I was as excited about Spider-verse as I could possibly be back when they announced it, but after reading this issue my excitement reached a whole new level. We get more Spider-Gwen, Old Man Spider, Spidey 2099 and last but absolutely never least… Spider-Ham! We get a few horrific deaths of different Spider-men in this issue at the hands of Morlun and his family the Inheritors of Reality. We get to see a ton of amazing alternate universes but the one that matters the most is that of the Ultimate Universe. We get to see Miles Morales and Ultimate Jessica Drew! There is an epilogue in the back of this book that is as creepy as Edge of Spider-verse #4 and your fear won’t want you to turn the pages! There are more Spider-men and women in this book than ever before. Almost every main one I can think of appears in either this issue or the Spider-verse Team Up book this week.
This event is the absolute best thing Dan Slott has done with Spidey thus far. I can’t put my love and thanks for this series into words (which is unfortunate as a comic book reviewer), but I feel like this event is Dan Slott’s love letter to Spider-man. He is taking every freaking Spidey ever made, ones that are fan favorites, cult favorites, some only popular in certain parts of our world and some that have been on TV and put them all in one book. Not only did he do that, but I feel like he’s going to bring back his theme in this event… no Spider-Man can do it like 616 Peter Parker can. He is our Spidey and he will save the day. The art in this book is the best in any book out there right now. Olivier Coipel and Justin Ponsor give us the Spider-Man art that will make any current reader feel at home in this book, while taking that consistently amazing art to a new level when drawing characters like Captain Universe Peter. I was in awe of the godlike Peter Parker just as much as 616 Pete was. The Epilogue’s artists were just as good as the main story! These artists were made to draw some of the absolute creepiest images in all of Marvel Comics right now. I won’t spoil much but if you’ve ever wondered what it looks like when Morlun’s family eats, well you’ll get to see that. If you’ve ever loved Spider-Man, you need this book.
*Review by Everett Harn