You get two weeks at once, since I had houseguests last week!
Invisible Republic #1- Image
Invisible Republic is a far cry from most of the scifi comics I’ve seen lately. It’s a complex political thriller- it is set on a far away world, yes, but the story could likely stand pretty strongly on its own even without the scifi elements, which many stories lately probably couldn’t. Invisible Republic is set on a world seeded by slower than light colony ships, and only lately reconnected with humanity at large via faster than light. A despot/ political strongman was recently overthrown, and the planet is wracked with poverty and political unrest. A journalist discovers a manuscript which seems to be a herebefore untold story of the despot’s rise to power from someone close to him. The story bounces back and forth between the memoir and the “present” day (I always feel really weird saying present day when referring to far future science fiction.) The story could technically exist in a non- scifi environment, sure, but I feel that it is enriched wonderfully by being scifi. The creators (a married couple, actually) depict the transplanted humans and terrestrial lifeforms competing with the local, alien life, it provides an ability to isolate a world that goes well beyond the ability to isolate a nation in any other genre- not only physically, but economically and culturally as well. Plus, the visuals are gorgeous. It’s very much a grim, gritty industrial future, but something about it just clicks for me. One of the best #1s for me in quite some time.
The Manhattan Projects: The Sun Beyond the Stars #1- Image
The Manhattan Projects has been split into a group of miniseries now, following the divergent cast members, who were, to be fair, getting a little unwieldy. The Sun Beyond The Stars follows Yuri Gagarin as he quests to find TALKING SPACE DOG Laika, who’s been missing for some time… IN SPACE (also, got transformed into a dog-humanoid somehow, which edges uncomfortably close to furry stuff for my taste). SPACE. The issue starts off introducing some new alien space threat, then skips to Yuri dealing with SPACE JUSTICE (I don’t know why I’m capitalizing SPACE. I just feel like it.) The Manhattan Projects is one of my favorite comics, but Yuri was never one of my favorite characters in it- I would have rather the series followed Richard Feynman and the interdimensional Einstein clones first. (Hey, there’s a great band name.) Still, I’m very happy to see it back.
Satellite Sam #12- Image
As a kid, I hated black and white comics. Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy them, though I’m loathe to admit it. Satellite Sam continues to display the consistent high quality I’ve come to expect from Matt Fraction as it steadily drives towards the conclusion. I think the cast has probably grown about as large as it’s going to- the intro page already has twelve panels. Not sure how many more it can fit, or if introducing any more characters is an even remotely good idea at this point, but Matt Fraction hasn’t steered me wrong yet. Plus, I’m more than happy to encounter comics that don’t just have plots that merely serve as vehicles for action scenes- there isn’t a fight scene in sight here. Just because comics have an advantage depicting action scenes over many other forms of media, doesn’t mean you should depict nothing else. (Superhero comics, I’m looking at you.)
Ei8ht #2- Dark Horse
Numbers as letters, yay! Sorry. Anyhow- monochromatic art, +. Friendly NASA monkey, +. Exasperating community elders convinced they should try appeasing the badguys, -. Hmm. Yeah, tallying up the good and the bad things in a review, like some sort of rubric? Not for me, unless I really have to. I’m pretty bad at assigning arbitrary numerical scores, largely because my personal framework for judging these things is in a state of frequent flux. If I had a set framework someone else fashioned? Sure, though it wouldn’t be as fun. Ei8ght #2 didn’t excite me as much as the first issue- it should be noted, of course, that I’m a sucker for a lot of #1s. It wasn’t bad, by any means- perhaps all my excitement was saved for other issues this week. Gene the monkey is pretty awesome, of course. Color coded timelines? Still a cool idea, especially with my crush on monochromatic art. The protagonist just isn’t super memorable.
Chrononauts #1- Image
Chrononauts was written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Sean Murphy. Mark Millar is good, don’t get me wrong- but he’s also kind of hit and miss for me. His work I like, I really like. Some of his work, though, just leaves me underwhelmed, with a tendency for unnecessary ultraviolence. Nemesis, really. That just didn’t do it for me. (It’s hard to predict when I’ll like ultraviolence or not, to be fair- I’m pretty inconsistent on it, or I’m rather consistent in a pattern I haven’t figured out yet.) Sean Murphy, however, is one of my favorite artists out there. I first encountered his work on The Wake, and have loved it ever since. His unique faces do the trick for me, and his work with shadows is second only to Mark Mignola, in my opinion. (Of course, I’m unsure how much of that is dependent on the colorist, but since the shadows in his art remain pretty consistent in everything of his I’ve read, I imagine a lot of it is him.) His distance work and perspective is top notch as well- he doesn’t just have a background, he has a full range of action heading from the foreground to the horizon. The action in the comic doesn’t quite match the range of quirky, upbeat covers- this issue really serves as an introduction to the protagonists and their televised time travel project. This comic kinda feels like it’s trying to decide between being TIME TRAVEL BROS, INC and… well, no, it’s just TIME TRAVEL BROS, INC. I’m not going to complain about that too much- comics that take themselves entirely too seriously are a dime a dozen. A bit of tongue in cheek absurdity is great, and the protagonists are definitely more memorable than average.
Chew #47- Image
Hoo boy. Layman and Guillory aren’t pulling any punches anymore. Colby’s going crazy, the people in the hospital start waking up (Hi, Mason!), etcetera. We also get to see the return of the Bon Vivants, and D Bear proving to actually be a good field agent. Chew has the basic pattern for the random adventure of the month down pat, and pushes it along in six pages this time around. There’s the hook (A dinosaur), background information (including the dinosaur’s find in an icefield in Canada. Oh, and one of the Canadians is holding a jug of maple syrup.), personal connection, background info on the villain with a food based super power, confrontation, capture. No optional capture of the perp by the Vampire this time around. I imagine we won’t see too many more of these before the end, so let’s enjoy them while we can. Also, Mason Savoy is up to his old tricks again.
Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1- DC
Even for Grant Morrison, this issue is really, really meta. The cover to this one has been popping up in the background of Multiversity issues left and right, and once you get into this comic, well… The main character, who is actually named Ultra Comics, continually breaks the fourth wall, as do the Gentry. There are random fake tweets and posts from fans supposedly reading the book included in the panels. Ultra goes through a growth phase charting through major comic eras. Ultra is actually made of comic books, paper, ink, and staples, though he doesn’t look it. Grant Morrison has always had a thing for meta writing, going back to his early days (speaking of which, I highly recommend his run on Animal Man from back in the day), but this may be the most meta thing he’s ever done. Just… wow. Doug Mahnke has penciling duties on this one, and does a pretty good job of it. There are also four inkers, two colorists, and… well, let’s just say a lot of people worked on this one. Only one issue to go after this.
Intersect #5- Image
I think I roughly know what’s going on with Intersect, but I wouldn’t put money on it. I say it a lot, but this is by far the weirdest comic in my pull. Things have really been pushed up a notch, with Ali/Jason at their gravestone, Detroit buckling, shifting, breaking, and warping, and the kid and the weird lady with too many limbs doing… something. Things are definitely drawing to a head, though, and since the story is slated to switch to New Orleans in a few issues, we’ll likely be getting some sort of resolution before too long. Maybe. I doubt it, actually.
Rumble #4- Image
Hey, it turns out that flame retardant and fire extinguishers work well against fire demons! Who would have guessed? Well, actually a lot of people, but the protagonists here were actually dumb enough to try it. Rumble takes a really refreshing turn on the fool’s journey- you know, some dumbshit is a prophesied hero, is destined for great things, yadda yadda, somehow learns a lifetime’s worth of swordfighting techniques in a matter of days, blah blah blah. In Rumble, though, when Bobby asks if he’s the Chosen One, he gets fucking laughed at by Cogan, which is as it should be. He’s an idiot, albeit a good natured one. Hating him would be like kicking a puppy. The three legged dog is back, too, and the fire demon is revealed to have been the possessed cat the whole time. Man, I love that cat. Something about the way it’s drawn just does it for me.
Drifter #5- Image
Hey, look, we’ve reached the end of the first story arc! What’s been resolved? Well, creepy murder priest gets killed by Sheriff what’s-her-name; spunky teenage girl joins quiet brooding gas mask dude on adventures while annoying the living shit out of him, but he not so secretly cares about her in a sibling sort of way that in no way resembles Wolverine and every teenage girl member of the X-Men ever, not at all; and we get reminded of the main character’s name (It’s Abram Pollux, I’d forgotten that, like I do every issue.) And, uh… there’s a bit of a recap sort of thing? Don’t get me wrong, I like Drifter, especially the art, but I do feel like we could have been given more reasons to care about the characters. It’s a slow burn story- not a bad thing, but slow burn stories do need to give you good reasons to care about what’s going on, whereas faster paced stuff can just toss in some explosions. The story here just hasn’t quite given me enough to care about yet. That being said, I still love the art. The concept art section at the back is great, too.
Deadpool #44- Marvel
One issue until Deadpool dies. Whee. Don’t get me wrong, I like Deadpool, I’ve enjoyed this run, and I’m sure the big finale will be good. I’m just a little worn out on this one, especially after those damn crossovers. They really killed a lot of the momentum. Ah, well. I’ll probably have more to write about the last issue. Something something Paste Pot Pete.