Wednesday, July 3, 2013

New Release Reviews for Image Comics, for 3 July, 2013

Welcome back to another edition of New Release Reviews for Image Comics. This is a fairly impressive week. Perhaps not for overall scores but there are some ambitious titles among this bunch and it's pretty solid. 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.

Lazarus - Issue 1

This new series from acclaimed writer Greg Rucka is a lot of things but a happy little story it is not. It should be pretty obvious given the cover and the bullet-ridden head of the protagonist found in it. It's some time in the future and the 99% are in some bad shape. The ultra-wealthy are essentially royalty and everyone else is no better than livestock. Actually, the livestock may be of greater value. Most citizens are simply referred to as "waste." This is a very cynical story and it suffers from relatively cookie-cutter bad guys. Most of the conflict arises around people are simply trying get access to food and being executed for it. The protagonist, in a way, comes off as the bad guy. Though, she seems to have doubts.

There's one fight scene and it's decompressed all to heck. Violent and kind of crazy. And given it involve hungry people it was hard to feel anything other than sad. It's hard to image this moving in a direction where heroes will come into play. The interior art is alright. Relatively clean images, though there was a lot of contrasting shadows . Perhaps the inker will go a little easier on it next issue.  The cover is well drawn, though very disturbing.

Score:7.5 out of 10

Jupiter's Legacy - Issue 2

There's very little to write about Frank Quitely's art in this series, that hasn't been written before. And probably better. I wanted to point out one thing that I noticed here that I've never really noticed before and that's lighting. I think it has something to do with the way the issue is colored but there is one sequence where several characters are in front of storm clouds and one of the characters appears to lit like in a film. Overall the artwork is quite lovely. And the cover is excellent. Just and outstanding comic from a visual perspective.

As for the story, Mark Millar's work is a bit flat. The family dynamics are universal and well-handled even if most of the characters come off like asses. That may be the biggest problem with this series is the lack of characters the reader cares about. Right now, that total is zero. Seriously, everyone is whinny and/or incredibly arrogant. They're not single-dimensional but their thoughts and feelings seem to be connected to things that haven't happened on the panels. There's also the question of the mysterious island from issue one. Will that era ever be explored?

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Think Tank - Issue 8

This series, generally, is pretty solid. The protagonist is fun, yet flawed. He causes a lot of trouble but doesn't always get away with it. There's bigger, overreaching themes being touched upon but I feel that they need to slow down a bit. All of the characters seem to be evolving which is a good thing. And events seemed to have moved in a way that will get the lead off the military base he's a guest of.  Dialogue is a bit choppy and contradictory. The cover is fun, as is the interior art.

Score: 8 out of 10

Five Weapons - Issue 5 (of 5)

This is the last issue in this mini-series but the way things end, it's pretty clear that the story isn't over which is good. This is a genuinely entertaining comic book. There's nothing ground-breaking in the story or artwork but it's fun. And we need more of those. There's conflict in this series and mostly it's based upon human emotion which is the best because we can all relate to these insanely dangerous people. There's a moment where most of the bad guys do the right thing because they're able to put aside their ego. Even the villain in the story isn't really bad. She's just been wronged and wants to set things right.

The best thing about the tale, though, is the hero remains true to himself. No matter the odds or the adversity, he continues to be brave and smart and it's a winning combination. Luckily, even though he's out of here, there's plenty of characters that are able to pick up the slack as many of the teachers have a great deal of untapped history. This issue is blessed like the others with a fun cover that sets things up well. It has fine interior art. Sort of manga style, but unique. The coloring is a bit flat at points.

Score: 8.5 out of 10

Satellite Sam - Issue 1

There have been some classic television series about broadcast televisions. Recently, two shows like this have been extremely well received including HBO's The Newsroom and BBC's The Hour. This new series from Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin seem to be channeling these series. The premise - I think, more on that ahead - is a murder/mystery interwoven into a 1950s era sci-fi television show. It's fast paced and rather disjointed as it follows dozens of characters in the middle of a live broadcast. There's technical issues and politics and family drama that has an immediacy that meshes well with the more mature aspects of the tale.

This is a challenging story to pick up. Using the television term, this is a cold open and the reader us thrust into a situation with little context. There's a lot of technical jargon which isn't easy to hang onto, even if you've spent considerable time in a control room. The characters have Chaykin's style which is great, even though there are way too many similarities in their appearance, adding to the difficulty of getting the pace. If there is one complaint, it's that they could have gotten to the murder, quicker. The build-up could have have happened quicker. A minor quibble.  The look and feel of this is smart and sophisticated.

Score: 7 out of 10

Not a bad week. There was a home run but plenty of solid releases. The best was the final issue in the Five Weapons mini-series with Think Tank not far behind. The other releases have some serious talent behind them but come up a little short of expectations. Still a pretty solid week, none the less. Stop on back next week for more New Release Reviews for Image Comics.