Vader Down #1
Written By Jason Arron, Art by Mike Deodato
One of the hardest feats to accomplish after the prequel trilogy is making Darth Vader menacing again. Arron not only knows how to get the Sith Lord back to his villainous roots; he also ups the ante, making Vader an unstoppable force. Arron has Vader annihilating Rebel forces with such force in some panels that you can feel the terror of his victims in every piece of dialogue.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Mike Deodato’s artwork, which is incredible. Here is an artist who knows how to create large-scale spectacles and small-scale emotions. During the panels where Vader is picking off pilots one by one, you can have a real appreciation for their terror. Not in a superficial, “they’re scared, kind of” way, but you can really read the pain in their expressions. Deodato also nails the space battles and aesthetic of Star Wars.
But here is the slight problem. I, and most Star Wars fans, know how this all turns out in the end. So the real test of this book will be to create tension and craft dramatic sequences despite audience foreknowledge. But I think, with all that said, Arron and Deodato are the team to pull it off.
Mighty Thor #1
Written by Jason Arron, Art by Russel Dauterman
Not content to simply write about a Galaxy far, far away, Arron also continues to help lift the hammer of Lady Thor. Arron achieves with this issue what very few issue 1s manage to achieve. He introduces his main protagonist, starts painting a picture of the world he’s building and kicks off the story. In short, it feels like a real beginning to a story arc, which sadly does not happen with many issue 1s of late.
Arron continues his Thor saga with Jane Foster wielding the mighty Mjolnir while Malekith plots with Roxxon to mine the realms for their natural resources. Now, what I really love about this issue is that it starts with a real bang. Hundreds of dead elves are directed to a weather space station, which then proceeds to plummet to the Earth. It’s evidence of the spectacle that Arron continues to infuse into every story he’s telling, and it’s neat to have a story punctuated by a big action piece every now and again.
Russel Dauterman has his work cut out for him, working from an Arron script, but he shines during those action intense panels. Dauterman is very competent at illustrating large settings and spectacle. Where I feel he falls down a little is in the character designs. Jane’s face looks too circular and it bugs me. But this is a very minor complaint because Mighty Thor looks great in every other respect.
Batman Europa #1
Written by Matteo Casali & Brian Azarello, Art by Jim Lee
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: a comic book does not need two writers. It causes splits in quality and that is exactly what’s happened with this book. Now, I don’t know who is responsible for script and who is responsible for story, maybe it’s a mix, but it would be unfair to the writers to speculate so I won’t.
I will say that the idea and the storyline are fantastic and in the hands of a great writer, this book would have been an instant classic. But unfortunately it’s not, and my main gripe with this book is Batman.
His dialogue is quipy, with lines like, “Right where I need to be. Seedy East Berlin neighbourhood, spooky movie reference.” I could see Dick Grayson saying a line of dialogue like that. But Batman? Batman isn’t meta. He’s cold and calculating, and that should be reflected in his dialogue.
Was this a decision by the editor or the writers? I don’t know but let me tell you someone has fucked up.
The dialogue in some cases is really poorly constructed, making it confusing. The above line is evident of that, but then it becomes better crafted and suited to the setting and character at times. Like I said earlier, two writers make for a really disjointed comic.
But you should buy this book, because Jim Lee drew most of it. He is, and will be for a long time, the premier Batman artist. But what I really love about the artwork here is that Lee is working with colourist Alex Sinclair. Sinclair’s colours look like a water colour painting you can almost feel the colour splashing around on the page. Sinclair has done something new with Lee’s art, and the results are beautiful. The only thing letting this book down is the writing.
Simpsons Winter Wingding #10
Written by Various, Art by Various
Would it be fair to say that Simpsons comics are written for kids? I think they are and I’m not trying to diminish the work that goes into these books, but they just don’t have the spark that’s in the show—at least in the older episodes.
The real strength of Simpsons comics are the artists, who all do a really good job capturing the tone and feel of Springfield and her residents. The first story, ‘Yippy Kay Yay, Mr. Flanders’ with art by Jacob Chabot, felt very close to the series in art style, and I felt pretty at home here.
The writing is okay, but only from the perspective of a Sunday newspaper comic strip. These stories are quick little adventures with a few yuks here and there. If you look closely, there are a few hidden jokes in the art that I won’t spoil here.
I would say this comic is best placed in the hands of a child, who will probably get far more out of it than your typical die-hard Simpsons fan.
Ignition 8 #2
Written by Darren Gallagher, Art by Heru Jalal
Ignition 8 manages to pick up its socks a bit in this issue, at least in the first two thirds of the book. The story was better paced and character motivation made a little more sense on this go around. But frustratingly evident was the use of exposition to explain what I can see in the panels. This is a carry over from the first issue, and I don’t think it is going to stop as the series progresses. I hope the author does cool it on the exposition because it would go a long way in helping to improve the overall quality of the storytelling.
Although there were improvements to pacing and motivation, I’m still kind of lost, and that’s a shame because I feel like there is a story and characters in this comic that I could get behind if they were more refined.
The art has improved over the last issue and I think that would be evident of the artist becoming more comfortable with the characters. Overall, character action improved over last issue as well as character design.
Written by Paddy Hobbs, Art by Frank Castro
It’s really nice to read a book set in Australia that simply mentions capital city names and leaves it at that. No dinky die, true blue bullshit here. The first issue is mostly about setting up the universe of Bossman. It also serves as a sort of origin story, but not an obnoxious ‘with great power comes great responsibility way’. In fact, our main character seems very blasé about the whole situation.
Bossman deals with the emergence of Supers, people who manifest seemingly random powers or physical changes and go on the rampage or, in the case of our protagonist, become heroes.
Throw in a mysterious figure from the past, a potential love interest, and you have the start of a decent superhero series. The real goal for Hobbs will be to make his series stand out from comparable comics.
The artwork really appeals to me and is a bit of a throwback to 90’s animated series. The artist has a firm grasp on perspective and character design and his artwork has a very interesting urban style to it. Almost like graffiti, in a way.
Now the best part for you is that Bossman Issue #1 is free to read at donkeybonnet.com.au, and I would encourage you to check it out.
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