Comic Book Reviews (7/30/2014)

Jul 29, 2014

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deep gravity coverDeep Gravity (Dark Horse Comics)

Story by: Mike Richardson
Written by: Gabriel Hardman & Corinna Bechko
Art by: Fernando Baldo

It should be no secret by now that I tend to gravitate to comics that take place outside of our solar system. I love the idea of exploring the unknown and imagining what it’s really like to touch the stars. Deep Gravity, a new series from Dark Horse, takes a much more realistic look at intergalactic travel; the politics involved and the potential for discovery and profit. Mike Richardson crafts a story that plays off of some familiar tropes but offers them in a much more grounded form. Deep Gravity tells the classic tale of human nature and our need to explore, discover and exploit.

I really appreciated this much more realistic approach to what it would be like if we discovered and then harvested a new planet. Richardson took great care in conceiving and plotting out the potential challengesdeepgravity1p3 (417x640) of traveling long distances to strange planets. This attention to detail is only further expressed in the script by Hardman and Bechko; as characters must consider their new surroundings even when completing the most mundane of task. Poseidon (our newly discovered planet) is a lot like Earth but also very different and it has a drastic effect on the physiology of Earthlings. This makes for some very interesting plot devices and character development.

The art by Fernando Baldo so far isn’t anything spectacular or jaw dropping but does have its moments in the strange character design of some of Poseidon’s strange residents. I do expect Baldo’s art to really come into its own as we discover more of Poseidon and its inhabitants. Deep Gravity isn’t breaking new ground in fact I would describe it as Avatar, but without the giant blue cats or military involvement. This is a story about discovery, relationships and what would really happen if we ventured to faraway lands.

*Review by: Casey Walsh

 

Super_Secret_Crisis_War_-2 (422x640)Super Secret Crisis War #2 (IDW Publishing)

Written By: Louise Simonson
Art By: Derek Charm

Picking up where the first issue left off, and with the recent action seen in the tie in issue of Johnny Bravo (another classic Cartoon Network character). We see the five main captives, along with the Eds, who the “League of Extraordinary Villains” have no interest in, yet are still captured, “just because.” Like all super team-ups of villains, there is going to be a breakdown as their evil alignments bump egos and they can’t seem to get on the same page.

What viewers of the original cartoons will notice is that characters and panels look like they were pulled directly from Cartoon Network. This is comforting to see the “classic” characters in a new setting even after their shows have ended. Each character retains their distinctive personalities adding to the nostalgia; the honor bound samurai, the young hotshot kid, the boy genius, the sugar/spice/everything nice little girls and the bumbling-buffoon-scheming-best friends.

In a predictable turn of events, the evil villains begin to make jabs and insults at each other as each evil being makes a case for why they are the supreme evil. Even more predictable events begin to unfold as the heroes break out of captivity and work as a team to defeat the guards. This is a story we have seen a thousand times before (villains forming a collective to capture their arch nemeses, and the eventual team up of the heroes), but what makes this worth the read is the “classic” 2000’s era Cartoon Network characters of which we have such a fondness for. Without them this would be a boring stroll down an all to familiar path.

 

Infestation Omnibus (433x640)Infestation Omnibus (IDW Publishing)

Infestation Series 1:
Part 1 & 2:
Written By: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Pencils By: David Messina
Ink By: Gaetano Carlucci
Colors By: Claudia Scarletgothica

Infestation Series 2:
Part 1 & 2:
Written By: Duane Swierczynski
Art By: David Messina & Valerio Schiti
Ink Assist By: Gaetano Carlucci & Federica Manfredi
Colors By: Claudia Scarletgothica
Color Assist By: Eleonora Carlini

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Zombies, Cthulhu and comics oh my. This is the 500 plus page collection of the IDWs two part Infestation story line released back in 2011 and 2012. I had the pleasure of reading these issues week to week, but am thrilled this huge collection is finally together in one massive omnibus (previously released in two separate volumes one for each series).

The first series focuses on an outbreak of the undead that becomes mutated several times over the course of 4 universes (G.I. Joe, Star Trek (the original), Ghostbusters & Transformers) including a few more universes like the infestation’s patient zero’s world of Pocket God; the mobile device game with an infestation problem.Infestation 2

The story flows nicely even with a little forced acceptance of a trans-dimensional virus. The virus jumps from one comic universe to the next seeking to increase its dominance and become unstoppable. The art varies from comic to comic as the artists change. A very enjoyable experience as we get to see a variety of art. They all had the same general feel that made the worlds look similar; non-exaggerated features, fully colored (and established) characters and of course the zombies and their hunger. When the last issue of the first series ends, we are teased with an obvious continuation (other than knowing there was still 250 more pages in the omnibus).

The second series sees the infestation take a different approach as the ancient monstrosity, Cthulhu, tries to devour 5 universes (Dungeons and Dragons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 30 Days of Night, G.I. Joe and Transformers). Though this second series is not the typical zombie outbreak as the previous one, this infestation still has the apocalyptic theme and mindless control over the victims that endangers the entire human race (and in the case of dungeons and dragons; elves, dwarves, halflings and other races too).

GB infestationAgain, crossing over from comic title to comic title with varying artists can sometimes be a problem. As the second series was different from the first, the art fits the type of story being told here.  We see the different universes, even of the same comic property (Transformers) show several different ways the worlds release, evade and banish Cthulhu and it’s thralls. The art varies to suit the needs of the world it’s portraying and it works.

Though lengthy in its entirety, it was very fun to see the many comic titles I constantly read deal with the ever popular zombie/Cthulhu topic. The main reason I picked up this comic a few years back was that literally every chapter of the Infestation is an area of fandom I obsess over. The main reason I will be picking up this omnibus is to have the entire event collected in this wonderfully epic complete book.

*Editors Note: Various Writers and Artists contributed to this collection, please note their credits. Transformers: Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Art by Nick Roche. G.I Joe: Written by Mich Raicht, Art by Giovanni Timpano. Star Trek: Written by Scott & David Tiption, Art by Casey Maloney & Garky Erskine. Ghostbusters: Written by Erik Burnham, Art by Kyle Hotz. Pocket God: Written by Jason M. Burns, Art by Kyle Hotz. Series 2. Transformers: Written by: Chuck Dixon, Art by Guido Guidi. Dungeons & Dragons: Written by Paul Crilley, Art by Valerio Schiti. Team-Up: Written by: Chris Ryall, Art by Alan Robinson. TMNT: Written by Tristan Jones, Art by Mark Torres. G.I Joe: Written by Mike Raicht, Art by Valention De Landro. 30 Days of Night: Written by Duane Swierczynski, Art by Stuart Sayger.

 

TMNT Vol. 5Eastman and Laird’s
Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 5

Issue #9 “The Path”
Story and Pencils By: Jim Lawson

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Issue #10 “Kaddish”
Story By: Steve Murphy
Art By: D’Israeli

Issue #11 “The Quick and The Dead”
Plot By: Peter Laird, Steve Murphy & Scott Cohn
Script By: Steve Murphy
Pencils and Tone By: Scott Cohn
Ink By: Sean Parsons

Issue #12 “Paris Nocturne”
Story By: Steve Murphy
Finished Art By: Dario Brizuela

This is a short collection of issues #9-#12 from the second series of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from 2004. Each issue here is written and illustrated by a different creative team. What I got out of each issue, was a lesson that Sensei Splinter tries to teach his sons, the turtles. It is the typical teaching a sensei imparts on his students. The writers of each issue told a clear story, focusing on a different kind of struggle and lesson.

Even if you aren’t reading these comics for their wisdom and life lessons, you still get to enjoy a great comic run with illustrations that show the turtles as hardened fighters in a dark and dangerous city. The coloring over the four issues stays consistent with the solid colors and use of shadowed features. There isn’t a lot of flare in the collection, as the illustrations are very direct in getting across the emotion and distress that is needed from panel to panel. The lack of fully colored panels adds to the hardness of the turtles and their grim fight against crime in a scummy city.

Each issue is a stand-alone story, that changes its main focus; Mikey and his balance between emotional and physical warrior, Raph needing to watch over everyone and hurting himself in the process, Donnie on an adventure to discover truth in mysticism or just simply the turtles as a group dealing with assassins. Whatever the story or level of thinking required you get every last drop of comic out of this collection. It is such an enjoyable read; from the basic ninja style fighting to the emotional struggle of a life lost, this collection has it all and is a must read for any fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

 

BaltimoreBaltimore: The Witch of Harju #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

Story: Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
Art: Peter Bergting
Color: Dave Stewart

The first of a three issue miniseries, sees Lord Baltimore, the fictitious captain who has waged a never ending war against the supernatural ever since the men he led into battle were all killed under suspicious events. Set in a dark world where vampires, evil witches and curses are the plagues of the earth, one man (Lord Baltimore) seems to be the gravitational pinpoint for all this paranormal fighting as he uses all his talents and senses to fight back.

This new chapter into Baltimore’s war sees the experienced (scared, well-seasoned and knowledgeable in the supernatural) watch over a young lady on the run from a possessed dead. A man who just won’t die even after being shot in the head. He is also accompanied by the evil presence of his puppet master. After the initial encounter, Lord Baltimore takes in this runaway for protection and begins to watch over her like a guardian. Eventually we see all of Baltimore’s suspicions come true on just what exactly he will be facing in the following issues.

The illustrations and colors are an experience in itself. The colors are heavy, with an emphasis on the dark and mysterious, which is exactly what this story and overall theme of Baltimore is. The line work is bold and strong, which you could say is a metaphor for the strong writing in this bold new chapter that helps add to the amazing résumés of Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. This is worth a read for fans of Baltimore, or even readers who have wanted a jumping on point to get into the character or series.

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