Marvel

Weekly Pull Review: 3/18/15 & 3/25/15

You get two weeks at once, since I had houseguests last week!

3/18/15

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.

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Weekly Pull Review 3/11/15

Southern Cross #1- Image

Hey, I’m giving a #1 top billing this week! Will you look at that? To be fair, none of the usual major heavy hitters came out this week (Saga, Sex Criminals, etc.), so I decided to push something a bit new. That’s not to say Southern Cross isn’t very deserving in its own right- I’m really digging it so far. Even apart from passing the Bechdel test, (the rarity of that in comics is extraordinarily depressing), it’s got solid art with an almost retro-futuristic look. Retro-futurism is most often applied to Buck Rodgers style futurism or 50’s futurism (Fallout), but Southern Cross feels like 80s retro-futurism. (And yes, that was three decades ago.) Grungy space stations and ships, industrial decor, headbands, transparent visors, actual naval outfits for starship personnel- it’s got the tone of so many of my favorite 80s scifi films. (My roommate thought of Cowboy Bebop.) The mystery set up has me interested, though there do seem to be hints of some sort of weird, semi-psychedelic craziness going on in the background- that, or the protagonists dreams are just extremely trippy.

East of West #18- Image

Babylon is really what this comic has been needing for a long time- a character you can actually sympathize with. There are abundant badasses and cool characters, but… yeah, I mention this every issue lately. Anyhow, Babylon gets to play with a giant horrifying demon that he sees as a giant hamster, Death and Lady Mao have a loving farewell, backstory backstory, the Endless Nation and the PRA plan out their war. Good times. I should backpedal on the character sympathy bit- getting to see Death and Lady Mao together actually goes quite a way towards humanizing the Horseman of the Apocalypse and the supergenius cybernetic despot.

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Weekly Pull Review 3/4/15

Saga #26- Image

Insert obligatory raving about Saga. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples are continuing to keep this arc balanced on all three of the main stories so far- Dengo and his captives, Team Lying Cat, and the dads. This arc so far seems to really be one focused on character development, moreso than plot development, which isn’t a bad thing at all. (Especially considering how common the reverse is in the industry.) Dengo especially stands out in terms of growth- not that I particularly expected Saga to have anything less than a fully fleshed out, complex villain. Also, that ending splash page? Hooboy.

Descender #1- Image

Descender starts off with an interstellar (Alliance? Council?) at the height of its power, and on the eve before an attack by unstoppable, moon-sized humanoid robots. It then skips ten years forwards, into a world where over three fourths of the inhabitants are dead or gone, the planet lies in near ruins, and angry mobs have destroyed most of the robots in existence. When a childlike robot companion wakes up on an abandoned mining colony, a hunt for him begins as it is revealed that his model of robot might actually have something in common with the massive destroyers. I’m torn on this one. Dustin Nguyen’s art is fantastic, no question there. Jeff Lemire’s writing is solid in the sections revolving around the protagonist, Tim the robot boy and his robot dog, Bandit. Many of the other scenes, however, have some quite clumsy over-exposition, at least in my mind. There’s a comment I’ve heard bandied around about science fiction, though: That science fiction movies run twenty or thirty years behind science fiction novels in terms of ideas, which, to be fair, is pretty much spot on. I think that the same adage might be applicable to comic books, though perhaps not to the same degree. It’s not a commentary on the quality of the work at all, but it might have something to do with my reaction to the exposition here- it’s stuff that is already old hat in science fiction prose, so it just feels forced.

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Weekly Pull Review 2/25/15

ODY-C #3- Image

It’s cyclops time! Woo! The cyclops is one of the best comic book monsters I’ve ever seen- It’s absolutely profane and alien, all at once. A three lobed mouth that looks almost like one of Guillermo Del Toro’s freakish mutant vampires from Blade 2, though not quite, an enormous eye with eyelids that close along a vertical line, enormous breasts running in three rows down its chest- it definitely stands out. We get introduced to new gods this issue- Hera takes a greater role than in the past, and we get properly introduced to Apollo, and more especially Dionysus. Poseidon still takes the cake as the most visually striking god, but Apollo and Dionysus stand up quite well themselves.

Chew #46- Image

This isn’t the first time a major character has died in Chew, but it’s treated very differently this time around. Most characters don’t even know about this death yet- in fact, only one person does. The status quo has undergone a number of other shakeups, as well- beyond all of the characters lying in the hospital, Tony now refuses to work with Colby, and is stuck working with D-Bear, of all people. No signs of the Vampire yet this arc, but considering that this arc is titled Blood Pudding, and has vampire teeth in the logo…

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Weekly Pull Review 2/18/15

There were no giant science tubes this week. Not a damned one. Seriously, people, what’s the point of drawing a comic without giant science tubes, especially if a laboratory shows up?

Bitch Planet #3: The Secret Origin of Penny Rolle- Image

Bitch Planet is doing something a bit unusual- every third issue is going to be drawn by a guest artist, in order to help keep the comic rolling on a regular schedule. I personally think it’s a fantastic idea, at least based on the art in this issue. The old school four color toning continues to work incredibly well everywhere it’s used in the comic- it just fits into the comic’s voice. Consistent release schedules are a major problem for many excellent comics out there. This issue jumps back in time to give an origin story for Penny Rolle. It seems a little early in the series for an origin story issue for someone other than the protagonist, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing- far too often, ensemble cast comics do far too little in the way of establishing personality and history for characters, just leaving you with a broad trope or two. This issue also does a great job with showing us how things really are for average people under the rule of the Fathers. I’m really, really wanting to learn more about Megaton, though. I’ve got to admit it, I’m a sucker for fictional sports, especially sci-fi ones. The afterwards materials/columns are really proving to be a draw, as well- letter columns are nice, but unless it’s the Sex Criminals letter column, having a little extra informative material in the back does nothing but good for the comic. This issue also features the most ominous use of hair care products I’ve seen in quite a while. Also, an awesome magic mirror, using science! Suck it, Snow White. (Seriously didn’t even catch the symbology there the first readthrough, but that’s on me for being thick.)

Multiversity: Mastermen- DC

Grant Morrison takes us to his version of Red Sun this issue- one where Superman’s pod lands in Nazi occupied territory, leading to him ruling over a Nazi Earth as Overman. (In the original Red Sun, Superman’s pod crash-lands in Soviet occupied Ukraine.) Jim Lee handles the art duties on this one. I knew this was going to be one of my favorite Multiversity issues yet when it opened with a splash page of Hitler straining with constipation on the toilet. The story is pretty straightforwards, but that’s not a bad thing. The Sivanas are really building up more than the Gentry in terms of the overarching story- to be fair, though, it’s often a better idea to have the minor villains take more screen time than the Big Bads. Nazi Batman (Leatherwing, how fitting) proves creepy as hell. Establishing Uncle Sam as a superpowered freedom fighter is a pretty awesome move. Much of the driving force behind the plot is Overman’s moral doubts creeping up on him- even raised by Hitler, he proves to still have something of a moral compass. One thing that really bothered me, though- Underwaterman never looked directly at the camera. Ever. No science tubes, though there is a cylindrical hovering specimen jar. It’s just not big enough to be a proper giant science tube.

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