Given how many comics I usually get to in any given week, anywhere from about 25 or so and all the way up to 40 even, it is not possible for me to review everything. Especially when I watch a lot of television in the week as well, and review as much of that as I can, or anime or even book reviews. Hence this new effort, Fast-Shot Comics Reviews, which I’m hoping to make a regular weekly thing on the blog. But no pressure! Every week on Wednesday, I’m going to try and review about 6 comics from the week prior that I didn’t get to in that week, and see where things go from here!
The picks for this week are: Archer & Armstrong: One Percent #1, Deep State #1, Django/Zorro #1, Hexed #4, The Kitchen #1 and Unity #12. As you can see, four of this comics are brand-new series, with the very first one being a spin-off of Valiant Comics’ hit title Archer & Armstrong. I picked these six comics because they are undoubtedly among the best comics I read this week, but also because they are all incredibly diverse, very different to each other and to other comics on the shelves this past week, especially Unity #12 which is a superhero comic, but deals with something rather different than the norm.
As I said above, Valiant’s latest is a spin-off from one of its hit titles of the last two years. I read the first volume of Archer & Armstrong last year and really liked it, though I’ve been remiss in not going back to the title since then, almost a year and a half after the fact. But I do remember the volume quite fondly since Fred Van Lente wrote a really fun adventure and Clayton Henry did some amazing visuals for this.
With the new series however, we see Ray Fawkes on writing duties with Joe Eisma and Ulises Arreola on the art. The series focuses on Archer and Armstrong’s major villains, the One Percent. Drawing their name from the Occupy Movement that became such a sensation in recent years, the One Percent are a group of America’s wealthiest who control businesses all over the world and who play global economies however they see fit to make more and more money. They also happen to be demon-worshippers, so that might have something to do with all of this.
In the new series, we see how a young member of the One Percent, part of the new generation in fact, rises to the top of the organization. The story is perhaps one of Ray Fawkes’ best that I’ve read to date, by a good margin. The vibe that I got off this comic fit right in with what I remember of Archer & Armstrong Vol.1 and the character of Austin Oldenburg-Lancaster is pretty fun indeed. He is absolutely insane of course, and totally drunk on his power, but really, he is awesome in other ways.
Eisma and Arreola’s art is also impressive. There’s a bit of a shine and brightness to it that can be slightly annoying at times, but by and large, it is good stuff. They capture Austin’s escapades and his eccentricities really well, whether the party scenes in the first half or the second half’s shenanigans. Good characterwork and layouts all over.
More Archer & Armstrong: Vol.1.
Deep State #1:
Justin Jordan has been everywhere of late. Since the untimely end of his Team 7 series for DC, he has written a lot for other publishers while continuing his work with DC and put out quite a few new series, of which Deep State from Boom Studios is the latest. This series could, in some ways, be called space opera since it deals with the Lunar Missions and America’s successful efforts in putting man on the moon. But, it is also rooted in conspiracy theories of the era, and it also has a very, very strong Men In Black vibe.
Justin Jordan is fully in his element here and he writes one hell of a story that exposes the real Lunar missions and also delivers a web of conspiracy stretching decades. The truth of the Lunar missions as per Justin’s imagining is pretty frightening in the same way that the Species movies were terrifying (at least the first two, they are all that counts) and I had a blast reading this title. Ms. Branch and John Harrow make for some great characters, and their developing dynamic in the debut issue is something you can well look forward to. Plus, that ending is pretty damn killer, pun intended.
Ariela Kristantina does the art here with colours by Ben Wilsonham and letters by Ed Dukeshire with cover by Matt Taylor. This is quite unlike a lot of comics I read on a monthly basis and the art is a strong reason for that. It is a bit rough with the inks and sometimes the characters and scenes can lack a bit of definition, but the colours really help sell the whole deal. Most of the comic takes place at night or in shadows, so visually that helps the immersion really well.
Another recommended read!
When I saw Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained last year, I was pretty disappointed with the experience. It was all little more than a bloodbath with a thin veil of American slavery in the South. I wasn’t taken with the movie at all and considered it to be one of the worst movies of the year even. But at the same time, I really liked the characters, especially Django himself, played beautifully by Jamie Foxx, and Dr. Schultz, played even better by Christoph Waltz.
Then I heard a few weeks back that Dynamite and Vertigo (together!!!) was going to do a crossover with the latest hero of the Wild West with one of its more original heroes, Zorro. Growing up, I loved all the Zorro tales and even watched the animated cartoons very religiously until I finally got a chance to see the Antonio Banderas movies when in college. Great experience. Zorro with Django? That’s like a dream come true right there, pretty much.
Quentin Tarantino and Matt Wagner have the distinction of bringing this awesome crossover to the pages of Dynamite and Vertigo’s latest series, Django/Zorro and they both do a pretty good job of things here. I loved the introduction of both characters, and also their seemingly random meet-up in one of the wild plains of the Old West as Don Diego De La Vega heads off to Phoenix, Arizona to bring another criminal to justice.
Esteve Polis is the artist here with Brennan Wagner on colours and Dynamite-stalwart Simon Bowland on the letters with Jae Lee doing the awesome cover you see there. The art can be slightly indistinct in a small handful of panels, but by and large the art is very exciting on its own and we get to see both the titular characters in action at least once, utilizing the skills and abilities that make both of them so unique. And the feeling of the Old West is captured nicely too, so that’s another point in their favour.
Suffice to say, I loved this comic from start to finish and think that it is one of the best new comics to debut this year. Hopefully the next issue is going to be just as awesome because the writers do a hell of a good job with the characters and the artists do the same as well.
I’ve been reading Michael Alan Nelson’s Hexed since it debuted this August, and I’ve been loving every moment of it. Michael started the series off on a great note in the very first issue and he has maintained that consistency and momentum since then. Of course, Dan Mora and Gabriel Cassta’s artwork also deserves high praise since it is one of the biggest reasons to buy this comic.
In the latest issue from last Wednesday, we see a big showdown between the three main characters of Lucifer, Yves and Lady Cymbaline. Lucifer got caught in the tug of war between Yves and his sister Lady Cymbaline back in the first issue, and now we see the epic confrontation that Michael has been building up to since then. It is everything that I could ask of it and each character gets to show off their powers and their abilities. I particularly liked how Lucifer is able to out-think both Yves and Lady Cymbaline. I’ve been a fan of hers since the beginning and now I have even more reason to like her.
Plus, Michael goes a bit further and he deepens the mystery surrounding Val and the Harlot. I found that to be really interesting since I like both characters, Val more than the unfortunately-named Harlot. Val is awesome, as she proved in the second issue when she beat Yves at his own game. Where the story is really going is anyone’s guess, but I’m having a hell of a time with it and couldn’t ask for more.
Dan’s artwork here is the best he’s done on the series so far. Lucifer and Raina together make for an awesome visual chemistry, as do Lady Cymbaline and Yves, though they are far more antagonistic by several degrees than Val’s two… assistants. Gabriel also won me over completely with his colours in this issue, with some really eye-popping palettes in the second half. The artwork absolutely rocks in the second half.
A highly recommended series this one!
The Kitchen #1:
The Kitchen is the brain-child of Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle, the latter being one of my favourite artists in recent years. That’s how I found out about the series actually, when Ming tweeted some preview pages IIRC. I loved them, and wanted to read the issue as soon as I could, and this past week, that is exactly what I did.
The Kitchen #1 is crime story set in New York. Almost noir-ish. It tells the story of the wives of three mobsters, who take up the slack when their husbands are carted off to the jailhouse for a number of crimes. Two of the wives themselves slack off in the absence of their husbands, but the third, Kath, still goes about her husband’s business as if nothing has changed and she is the one who sets the others right by the end of the story.
The story is quite brutal at times but it also shows three strong women. They want respect, the same as their husbands deserved and took, so that’s what they go out and get. It is a fun story, quite down-to-earth in some ways and also quite ambitious in others. Great start undoubtedly.
The fantastic Jordie Bellaire is on colours for this issue, with Ming on the pencils, with letters by Clem Robins and Becky Cloonan on cover. This is a fantastic line-up of creators, and for a story like this, things couldn’t be better. Like I said, this is also a noir-ish story, so the vibe is certainly there in terms of how the characters move about, what they do, and all the little details that populate everything in between.
Another new series I would recommend to everyone!
Valiant’s superhero team book Unity has been a great read since it debuted last year. After putting the characters through as much as he did in the last year or so, especially with the recent crossover he did with Robert Venditti, Matt Kindt went a bit further last month when the team was made public and MERO was transformed into a more friendly organisation, GATE. It is a very exciting time to be a Unity fan and the latest issue proves that quite handily.
Of course, given the fact that Unity is now an open secret and that the American and British governments are dedicated to making Unity as friendly a team as possible for the people out there all over the world, it stands to reason that there will be some changes made. The first of these of course, is that Livewire aka Amanda McKee does a live interview with Renee Rousseaux, the reporter we saw in the very first issue when Aric was rampaging in the old lands once belonging to the Visigoth people, his people.
The interview is quite an interesting mechanic to cover everything that has happened to the team so far and I’m kind of amazed that Matt went down this route. Livewire spills all the beans on the team that she can and it turns out later that all of Renee’s questions had been approved beforehand. Makes sense after all since even in the interest of transparency, GATE wouldn’t want to give all the power it holds, especially the kind of power that GIN-GR has. But, it is great nonetheless and by the end we see that there’s going to be a new member on the team, which made me personally very excited. Should be fun!
CAFU is the artist here with Trevor Hairsine, with colours by the amazing Brian Reber and letters by Dave Sharpe while Brian Level does the cover artwork. I loved the artwork here, let me be frank. It can be a bit heavy with the inks in a few places and the colours can be a bit too dark as well, but overall, it all really fits together. And I was quite surprised to note a number of new characters. The former “Allies” have their own team, so it stands to reason that their enemies would do something about it as well. The visual diversity is amazing in itself.
Love where this series is going and can’t wait to see what’s next in store.