Welcome back to another edition of New Release Reviews for Image Comics. This is a wildly uneven week with the best comic being published and a few not so great ones. As always … titles are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the very best possible. We take the time to read these books so your time isn't wasted.
Saga - Issue 11
One again, Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples present the best comic book being published.Without hesitation, this is the best book being published. The writing is extremely awesome with real characters in mature and thoughtful situations. The peril, for them, is real and the consequences are final. The artwork is just out of this world. Staples is inventive and focuses. Nothing more happens then exactly what is needed and this economy gives the story laser-focus.
The opening sequence adults probably wouldn't want children to see as it contains naughty language, nakedness, and and passionate sex. Yet, there is some amazingly real dialogue that comes from the creators having LIVED and not simply regurgitated things they saw in other comics. Powerful and meaningful. The narration is just a joy to read. Funny and hopeful and revealing every secret, yet you still feel what the adults do.
These characters so other things, as well. For many, it's sacrificing themselves for their loved ones. This series is about relationships. Love. Responsibility. The continue on even amidst the swirling chaos of this bizarre universe. One character nearly dies saving another and the reader will cheer and smile with relief. Another will perish, saving others. And a flood of emotions will sweep the reader away. Bitter sweet. Perhaps the biggest question to arise is ... what do the clouds race?
Score: 10 out of 10
I Love Trouble - Issue 4
This story might be more appealing if the protagonist wasn't so unlikable. She's got a great power but just isn't pleasant at all. The abusive relationship seems more contrived than a plot point. It's hard to imagine why the organization she works for what let that guy continue to be part of her life, given she's now assassinating people. One of her coworkers actually intervenes while she's being abused. It's either sloppy or lazy. The visuals are alright. There is definite skill on the part of the art team, no matter how cartoony it looks.
Score: 6 out of 10
Son Of Merlin - Issue 2
This series is lucky there are so many things going on because otherwise the readers would be bored out of their mind given how passive the lead character is. This is a typical story-telling style where the protagonist is thrown into a situation way over their heads. This style requires the supporting cast to be able to carry the load. His female guardian has this role and it doesn't work so well. She's not powerful enough to be of real help and she doesn't seem to dress for the situation. At least she wastes little time training him.
He does pick things up awfully fast, and this seems to decrease the tension. Magic changes the rules a little too easy. He doesn't even seem to understand why things are happening. And, maybe, he's King Arthur. Not clear. The story moves briskly. The villains are a little too much mustache twirling to seem menacing. The cover and interior seem sort of skillful and sort of muddled.
Score: 5 out of 10
Witchblade - Issue 164
There is, what feels like, an editorial mandate to move the greater Top Cow universe into its new cross-over storyline. Even at the expense of story and characterization. It's the typical lots of punching and fighting to fill pages. The conflict between Witchblade and Darkness seems very forced and pointless. It's not really clear why their is all this animosity.
And then the conversation about their daughter seemed to invalidate their prior actions. Darkness's comments were extremely ambivalent about her, even though the just made this huge deal about how he re-wrote reality for his daughter's sake. The reveal that Witchblade was the one who killed her in the first place was startling. The stuff in prison was just odd. The interior artwork is alright as it moves the story well. The cover is much better and very disturbing.
Score: 5 out of 10
Todd The Ugliest Kid On Earth - Issue 3
This is a remarkably sad story, but it almost has nothing to do with Todd's plight. Sure, he's the ugliest kid and in jail on a murder rap. But, maybe he has it better than any other character in this story. His fellow prison inmates lead horrible, violent lives. His parent lived tortured existences, desperate for human contact, and typical failing. Even the police in town are trying to do right but are hampered by abject stupidity.
This story is not for kids. Sure, if you just follow Todd there is something hopeful and honest. His earnestness is almost zen at times. Everything else is brutal. The recap at the beginning of the comic is outstanding, even if it's horrible in subject. The interior artwork is fine in a very odd manner. The cover is great, and weird.
Score: 7 out of 10
We just hope that you stopped reading this column after the Saga review. Ideally, you closed your browser or turned off your portable computing device and headed over to the comic store. Or, perhaps, bought it on your ComiXology app. Assuming it was working. :) Seriously, buy Saga. It's worth it. Stop back next week for more New Release Reviews.