Last Fast-Shot Comics Review for comics released in January 2015!
The picks for this week are: Bitch Planet #2, Jungle Book: Fall of The Wild #2, Robyn Hood #6, Wolverines #1-4, Gotham By Midnight #1-3 and Unity #13-14.
Bitch Planet #2:
Last month’s Bitch Planet #1 from Image Comics was a fairly interesting tale. It had a nice hook, and a nice story combined with some decent art. I wasn’t too keen on the story, since it seemed to be a standard prison exploitation story and seemed to be a weird direction for Kelly Sue DeConnick to go in with her work, but I remained optimistic that things would improve in the subsequent issues. Well, last week’s Bitch Planet #2 kind of challenges that whole thing, since it seemed to be an even more confusing story than before.
The first issue had a nice “reveal” at the end that made the somewhat disjointed nature of the narrative all worth it, but the second issue departs from that. Yes, we get to learn more about the various characters and the situations we find ourselves in, but the thing is that I was completely confused by what the hell was going on. Learning more about Bitch Planet and the people who run it proved to be beyond my understanding. I just couldn’t get into it at all, and the characters didn’t come across as forcefully as before either.
Valentine De Landro’s art, combined with Cris Peter’s colours and Clayton Cowles’ art was a bit better this time, but not by much. Lots of great visual differentiation in the panels, and the colours definitely make up for a lot of it, so if you want some good art, then this is definitely an issue to check out. And the whole seedy atmosphere definitely contributes to the overall expression as well.
More Bitch Planet: #1.
Jungle Book: Fall of The Wild #2:
In this, the second issue of this third and final Jungle Book story, we see more of what is happening on Kipling Island. The peaceful and mysterious and monk-like Gyaani sloth tribe have forecast an apocalypse for the island lest all the other tribes and factions unite and work towards peace rather than engage in endless war, because it is war that the spirit of the island can no longer tolerate. It was a really interesting hook in the first issue and the second issue proves to be more of the same, showing how even as destruction approaches, the antics and silliness of the various tribes continues to define life everywhere.
One of the more interesting things in this issue is that we learn the origins of Kaa and his great hunger. We start off with the Tavi tribe and their protector Akili and learn how Kaa was essentially a cannibal to his own family and while the story of his origins is meant to be an inspiring one for the tribe, it actually frightens everyone, and this is an important part of the whole mindset at Kipling Island. We learn more about its people and its history within these few pages. Of course, after that we see some more dreadful things happening, and each works hand in hand to drive home one important thing, that Kipling Island is getting swallowed up in all the doom and gloom and the path to self-destruction the tribes have adopted.
Truly, I loved this issue on that front, and though there were some points where the dialogue seemed off or the story didn’t quite flow properly, I enjoyed every moment, especially the completely wild ending.
Luca Claretti is the artist here with Grostieta on colours, Matt Krotzer on letters and the duo of Mike Krome and Ula Mos on the cover. There is a ton of variety to be found in this book, and I loved every moment of it, just as I did the story. Sure, some characters can have less-than-decent visual designs, but take everything together and it all stands out in that respect.
More Jungle Book: Fall of the Wild: #1.
Robyn Hood #6:
The first five issues of this new ongoing have seen two arcs already done and out, and each of the two arcs has been fairly good on its own, especially the first one. Now we see the beginning of a third arc on the issue, and things look set to be great as ever, except the fact that writer Pat Shand seems to finally deal with the concept of Marian’s powers not being what they used to and the causes of such as well.
As usual, there’s a lot to unpack here and there are two clear subplots here. The first deals with Robyn going in for some psychiatric support on Britney’s recommendation, and the second deals with Marian looking for some supernatural solution to her waning powers. Both narratives are incredibly personal for the respective character and we see some great drama as a result, especially when both things coincide in the final pages to create the atmosphere and mood of a much larger story at work, a conspiracy you could say.
I definitely enjoyed every moment of it. Watching Robyn go in for a session with a psychiatric on its own is a pretty powerful image, as is the whole thing with Robyn and Marian lying to each other about what they are doing. And it all then dovetails rather nicely into their shared past on Myst, with Marian learning much of her magic from the sorceress Avella, way back when. The past will always come back to haunt!
Jaime Salangsang Jr. is the artist here with Slamet Mujiono on colours, Jim Campbell on letters, Cris Delara on the cover. There were some bits where the artwork really seemed off, in the panels that offer a close-up of the characters’ faces, owing to some “extra linework” that just stands out in a really odd way. But all the same, the rest of the book offers a ton of cool things, especially Robyn’s big fight, so that’s a big plus to be sure.
Wolverines is Marvel’s brand-new weekly and it is set in the aftermath of all that has happened of late in Death of Wolverine, Death of Wolverine: Weapon X Program and Death of Wolverine: Life After Logan. Each mini-series has fed into this weekly series, and this one sees a teaming up of the experiments from Paradise and Logan’s greatest enemies: Sabretooth, Mystique, Lady Deathstrike, X-23 and his son Daken.
If I talked individually about each of the four issues, then we might be here for a while, so I’ll just do a combined commentary. And f I had to sum up that commentary, I’d say that this series is pretty damn good, possibly among the best stuff that I have read from Ray Fawkes and Charles Soule. That’s pretty significant actually since I find their work to be usually more of a miss, but with this, they’ve won me over for sure (just as Charles Soule has recently won me over with his Inhuman and Swamp Thing).
The conceit of the story here is that the test subjects from Paradise are dying. Kill-switches were essentially programmed into them as part of the experiments they were all subjected to and since none of them have a healing factor. Thus, the five of them go after Wolverine’s friends and enemies who have healing factors of their own, and then they all eventually team-up to fight someone who represents a danger to them all, Mr. Sinister.
That’s where the story is at right now and I’m thoroughly enjoying this all-out action romp. For me, the dialogue is fairly good, the story is really interesting, and the characters are all fascinating, especially in context of their relationships to each other.
Nick Bradshaw and Alisson Borges are the artists on the first issue, with Walden Wong on inks, Fco Plascencia on colours and VC’s Cory Petit on the letters. Alisson Borges is the solo artist on the second issue with Israel Silva and Matt Smith on colours and VC’s Cory Petit on letters. Then we have Juan Doe on art for the third issue and Cory on letters. And finally we have Ariela Kristantina on the art for the fourth issue, Sonia Oback on colours and Cory on letters. Nick and Fco do the covers for the first two issues while Andy Clarke and Marte Gracia are on the same for the third and fourth issues.
The art in all four issues is pretty phenomenal. Each issue has a different art team so there is indeed some bit of an inconsistency there, but by and large, I liked the art. Different artists means different styles, and that is abundantly clear on all four issues. In fact, the diversity is what really works here, reflective of the diversity of the characters involved, whether they belong to one faction or the other and whether they are good guys or bad guys, or living guys or soon-to-be-dead guys and so on and on.
Gotham By Midnight #1-3:
Gotham by Midnight is another one of new titles of late from DC, and also one of the better titles from the rest of the herd. This series explores the supernatural dark side of Gotham from the perspective view of Jim Corrigan, a detective in the GCPD and also the alter-ego of the supernatural entity The Spectre, who is the divine wrath of God you could say, fighting for justice everywhere. Corrigan is assisted by Sister Justine, Doctor Szandor Tarr and Lieutenant Weaver. Together, these four help keep Gotham safe from supernatural threats, and they are all really, really good at their jobs too.
When the series starts, we meet with Sergeant Rook of Internal Affairs who has come to the team’s base of operations to find out just what the hell it is that they do there. They get a lot of funding and are apparently a pet project by none other than Commissioner Gordon but at the same time their paperwork is out of place and incomplete and Rook’s department has no idea of what really goes on there. Hence a personal visit, one that changes Rook for the entirety of these three issues as the team investigates the case of missing children from local communities, only to find out that a dire supernatural threat is behind it all, one that can only be defeated with the powers and skills possessed by Jim Corrigan and the rest of his team with their diverse roles.
The first few issues certainly present a very intriguing mystery. There are some really dire things at work here and the team is rightly challenged to solve its current case while Sergeant Rook questions everything and demands explanations left and right. It creates a certain charged atmosphere and writer Ray Fawkes seems to thrive in that kind of an environment. Gotham By Midnight is definitely among the better books that DC has put out in the New 52 and I hope that it sticks around for a while!
Ben Templesmith handles the art and covers for all three issues with Dezi Sienty on letters for the first two issues and Saida Temofonte on the third. The art initially struck me as extremely stylized and even a bit weird, but it quickly fell into a particular rhythm and now I’m a fan of it. Sure, sometimes it is tough to distinguish the characters from each other, particularly since the colours are extremely muted and everything with a heavy dark palette at work, but I think it works well in creating a particular mood nonetheless, something that lends itself well to the narrative at work.
I’ve remarked before that Unity from Valiant is one of my favourite books out there. Its a superhero team book, and given that I’ve gone into this book without really knowing who any of the characters are, it has been a very refreshing experience when compared to the team books from the Big 2, where the characters have histories going back up to 75 years in some cases and come with a lot of baggage as a result. Not so with the members of Unity and since I’m so unfamiliar with the Valiant-verse in general, it has been even more fun.
Unity is still caught up in the aftermath of the recent war against Armor Hunters. In the wake of it, MERO renamed itself GATE and came out the world media with Team Unity, in an effort to engender some goodwill in a world deeply suspicious and critical of everything new and different. And since the US and UK came out with a superhero team of their own, some UN ambassadors feel the need to do something about it since such a team poses a great threat to them. Hence, they end up putting together a team of criminals and villains to face off against the members of Unity and their big charge in this arc is to force GATE to reveal the existence of GIN-GR, the Armor Hunter robot that destroyed Mexico City during the war and was presumed destroyed by the world.
In issues #13 and #14, we see how the United square off against our heroes, kidnapping the team’s government leader Neville Alcott and detonating a dirty bomb at the team’s HQ in the process. These two issues move at a very fast pace and while we are witness to the supposed and probable origins of the villains, the story remains focused on their first mission to expose GATE’s hypocrisy. That’s what the first of these issues is all about, and the second issue then goes and does something similar to what we’ve seen before, Unity team members participating in a live televised interview about their activities and defending GIN-GR’s actions, both past and present.
Both issues are pretty damn good. I really couldn’t get enough of the story here, and I wanted to learn more about the characters. Of particular note here was the fact that Unity’s newest member Faith aka Zephyr is someone who has a very naive view on things and believes that everything is silky smooth and the violence that she will face as a part of the team is “Buffy violence”. Oh the vagaries of youth! She is disabused of her notions pretty quick in these two issues, and that was part of the fun, since she is such a different character to the rest of the heroes, who are clinical and brutal as they are for a particular reason.
Still, damn good superhero drama.
CAFU is the artist here with Brian Reber on colours and Dave Sharpe on letters. CAFU and Brian do the cover for #13 with Lewis Larosa and Romulo Fajardo taking over for #14. The art in both issues is great, as it has been recently. With an opposing team in place, the artists can really go wild and while the visual designs for the new characters are simple, the overall vision is still strong and I like that the brutality of this new team, or their roughness in general, is emphasized evenly without making it overly obvious. That’s good. And seeing GIN-GR in action, well that’s something else too. Or the whole live interview that Gilad and Livewire do, facing off against a bigoted US politician.