Comic Book Reviews 12/3/2014
Written by: Donney Cates
Art by: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colors by: Lauren Affe
In our second issue of the high intensity 80’s action inspired comic, The Ghost Fleet, we find ourselves thrown 2 years into the future. Our main characters are now in much different places than we last left them. Robert Ward is now Director of the The Ghost Fleet while Trace Morales, looking a lot like Snake Plisskin, is beginning to unfold his plan for revenge.
Another high action, high suspense issue from Donny Cates, The Ghost Fleet is just as mysterious as it is explosive. Cates seems to have an uncanny intuition when it comes to setting the reader’s hook as I don’t think I have anticipated a next issue this much in a really long time. From the opening panel to the final page cliffhanger, Cates holds your undivided attention and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The art and color by Daniel Warren Johnson and Lauren Affe invoke the 80’s action era that is this comics inspiration. From the ominous Illuminati meeting, to the cargo ship set piece, and the climatic action sequence. Each panel feels dirty, gritty, real and unrelenting. It will really make you nostalgic for the classics like Die Hard, Escape from New York, and The Terminator. Cates and crew are delivering a magnificent feast of explosions, fire, mysterious, violence and vengeance with The Ghost Fleet and so far I love every panel.
*Review by Casey Walsh
Written by: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by: Alex Maleev
Color by: Dave Stewart
Hellboy has been a long time staple for comic fans with stories spanning more than 20 years. In his newest installment from Dark Horse Comics creator Mike Mignola re-visits the characters origins and early years in Hellboy and the B.P.R.D #1. Mignola is offering readers a new opportunity to introduce themselves with this iconic character and the organization that watches over him. In Hellboy and the B.P.R.D #1 we are given a look at Hellboy’s first assignment with the B.P.R.D team. Mignola and writing partner John Arcudi don’t offer us much in the way of action in this first issue but instead a very basic introduction to the B.P.R.D team and their newest recruit. This is a perfect issue for newcomers and you need know nothing to be able to dive head first into this story.
While Mignola and Arcudi’s first issue into this new series may not offer a ton of eye popping action and crazy monsters that has made Hellboy famous but it does offer an interesting look at the building blocks of this long time series. Alex Maleev’s art is definitely the highlight this time around as it offers a raw and realistic look into the world of Hellboy. Every character has a unique and time period accurate look which really helps to draw you into this story that is set in the 1950s. Dave Stewarts colors only further enhance Maleev’s pencils as Hellboy brightly stands out in a world of browns, blues, and blacks. Your eyes are automatically drawn to the titular character and you can’t help but follow him from panel to panel even though he does and says very little throughout the issue.
Although this issue may not immedieatly catch your attention as it’s mostly setting up the story, it’s definitely worth your time as Mignola’s pedigree is sure to shine in future issues. I’m sure things will pick up quickly. This is a must read for new comic fans as it gives you a perfect jumping on point for one of comics most long running and influential characters.
*Review by Casey Walsh
Written by: Keenan Marshall Keller
Art by: Tom Neely
After a mind-bending and excellent first issue, The Humans #2 by Keenan Keller and Tom Neely takes a more serious tone with unexpected depth and heart. In this alternate universe where apes run the world the time is post-Vietnam Bakersfield and the biker gang, The Humans, say goodbye to one of their fallen as they welcome back one of their own who was thought to have died in the war.
Whereas the first issue was an ode to the exploitation biker films of the 60s and 70s mixed with the Planet of the Apes, issue two plays more like Coming Home and Born on the Fourth of July as Johnny returns from the war angry, disillusioned and resentful. It’s a sobering depiction considering the state of returning military personnel from our current wars. The Vietnam War was far more divisive and cruel to the brave soldiers who returned to a fractured United States than they deserved. The raw reality of our history is told through Johnny but luckily his biker family seem not only happy to see him but a willing support system. A touching sense of familial cohesiveness that resonates outside of this ape-run world. It’s a universal theme of awareness, compassion and love.
Not exactly what you’d expect from a book like this but Keller clearly reveals he has more on his mind than biker gangs, drugs and sex.
The allegory aside The Humans really is a time machine to an uncertain time and Neely brings not only the feel and look of a comic book drawn in that period but also the vision of a director of exploitation films. The layouts of the panels while Johnny describes his time in the service are absolute genius.
The flashback cut scenes that serve as a halo around Johnny’s head entail plenty of description and magnificently capture exposition in ways you could see in a film. It’s an captivating device that works and elevates the story.
The Humans is a rare book that is certainly fun for its biker gang of apes premise on the surface but it has a lot more to say about veterans and the consequences of war. It is a smart and subversive piece of social commentary dressed as an exploitation pulp comic. This is worth your time and money. Grade A material.
*Review by Enrique Rea
Written By: Caleb Monroe
Illustrated By: Marlano Navarro
Colors By: Marissa Louise
The super spy arc Cloaks comes to an open end with issue 4. With the chase to stay one step ahead of Evy coming to a close, the final showdown between the magician secret agent and what is seemingly his equal is a big give and take fight that comes to a near fatal conclusion, as Adam needs to let Evy flee to save an innocent man. This entire series has used magician rule sets and terms to really amplify the story and give it some “magic” street cred. Cloaks gives an overwhelming sense of success when because the story doesn’t feel pushed to display the lesson being taught to us.
Marlano Navarro has done a great job of making the panels and scenes seem as smooth and wonderful as a magic act. Even though this was a comic, the actions scenes really carried the attention and were a large part of the stories conclusion. Brining the story all the way back full circle to the start, there are some scenes that tie the arc back together with more magician tricks. Caleb Monroe has made this series fun to read with displaying all the characters little subtle tricks and skills that transfer from the small crowd magic to the larger everyday activities enhancing his abilities.
Even though this was the end of the story, and not everything was accomplished, there was a lot of story that felt completed. However, with the ending and outcome of confrontation leaving more loose ends than finished ones, it makes me happy to know that this universe is not closed. And just like a magician, all the secrets could not be told, but we are given some cliffhangers that shake up everything we thought we knew, yet one more parting magician lesson.
*Review by Cory Anderson
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Jeremy Haun
Color: Lee Loughrdige
This is an interesting and somewhat refreshing take on the werewolf/lycanthrope monster tale. Set in modern times, the wolf monster is on the loose and for three days the beast is at its most powerful, however, it is also at it’s most vulnerable. The traditional werewolf transfers the curse through bites or claw scratches, but here, the entity of the wolf transfers from person to person every new full moon. Leading up to the transformation, the victim starts to become more and more feral eventually transforming into the creature and killing for pleasure, not for survival.
There was just the right amount of gore in this comic to provide that shock value, but not repulsive enough that you have to look away. The story of the hunter on a crusade of his own to track this feral monster is missing some of the background details, but with the intriguing and captivating story that was told in the first issue, there will surely be enough future installments to fill out the necessary details. There is only a few characters worth remembering at this stage as everyone else is just limbs and meat sacs for the wolf, but those few had their personalities worn on their faces (literally).
By the end of this issue I wanted more story and interactions, if it was possible without one of them ending up dead, between Dillon the hunter and the Wolf. The idea of the monster tranfering from person to person is a scary notion to think of. How the hunter could have the beast cornered and tracked to some location, and as soon as the three days are up and its full form is revealed, it moves on. Cullen Bunn does us the a favor by including a level of mystery at the end with a second hunter making an appearance. Though he isn’t seen other than his blue gloves. This second hunter is not hunting the Wolf, but is hunting the vessel of the monster left in its gory wake.
*Review by Cory Anderson
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Ken Lashley
Inkers: Ken Lashley and Drew Geraci
Colorist: Jason Wright
What a great beginning. This first issue of the Secret Six certainly grabs you and hurls you along for a ride. There’s a great balance of funny, frightening and downright creepy moments in this first chapter, and the plot is interwoven throughout. For me personally, this is a great book to open up not knowing anything about the New 52 or the characters inside it. The book begins with Thomas Blake being captured and taken to a box, where he and six other people are being kept. Throughout the issue we learn the other people Thomas has been put with are Kani (Porcelain), Shauna Belzer (The Ventriloquist), Damon Wells (Big Shot), Strix and Black Alice.
These six have been brought together to reveal a secret before a counter runs out and one of them dies. This issue balances Thomas’ claustrophobia, the character interactions and the ever looming presence of death in such a seamless way that it’s jarring when you reach the final page. I cannot wait for the next issue especially because of the cliffhanger it leaves us with.
*Review by Tyler Polluck