It’s been a bit of a Hit and Miss sort of week. A little bit like the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House which started off really well and then became less inspired and less watchable as the series went on.
However, let’s start off on a positive note: Cold Spots #4
Cold Spots is an awesome horror comic created by Cullen Bunn and Mark Torres for Image Comics. Like the aforementioned The Haunting of Hill House, Cold Spots achieves a creepy atmosphere and gripping story by slowly building up tension and hinting at the supernatural, rather than throwing it wildly at the reader. Even in issue 4, where the story has started to pick up pace and the demons/ghost are coming out to play, the horror is still understated allowing the situation to cause feeling of nervousness and fear.
I have written a fuller review for comiconverse.com and it is my 100th review for that website. A great comic to mark that mile stone.
Another great comic out this week is issue 10 of Days of Hate. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to remind anyone about how much I am loving this comic, just check out previous posts (or even my extended essay) to see how much I appreciate this work of Art.
This issue is building to the series conclusion and has a conclusion that you don’t want to miss. It’s heart stopping, jaw dropping tension, beautifully rendered by Danijel Zezelj and Jordie Bellaire. The ominous grey/blue tones coating the first half of the comic create an atmosphere of detachment and coldness that surrounds the characters but Bellaire slowly introduces a red wash, in small amounts at first, which eventually over shadows everything, just as story takes a turn.
Combined with the heavy black inks of Zezelj’s, this entire issue is given a heavy, world carrying feel which subconsciously prepares the reader for the worst. After 9 issues of building the characters this issue is a gut punch as your sympathies towards certain characters are challenged.
One of Ales Kot’s main achievements with this comic is that he is able to misdirect the reader so completely and challenge your conceptions of situations and people. You never feel completely comfortable with anything that is going on in Days of Hate because there is a constant element of mistrust running through the comic. This is based on the groundwork laid out early on and is part and parcel of the dystopian tale that Kot is telling. It is a reflection of the current political turmoil in America, the UK, and all over the world. Finding the truth is difficult. Knowing who to trust and who to rely on is difficult. Kot illustrates this in Days of Hate perfectly.
Published by Image Comics, issue 10 is out this week.
Unfortunately, Dick Tracy Dead or Alive has not improved much from issue 1. The second issue has all of the same problems that the first does and still feels like a pale imitation of Chester Gould’s icon Detective.
Elements of the story strike an uncanny resemblance to the Disney Movie of 1990 but doesn’t have the larger than life cinematography that made the film so enjoyable. However, this is not a gritty retelling either. I’m not sure that Lee and Michael Allred are entirely clear what kind of comic they want this to be, which is a shame because a new and exciting Dick Tray could really boost the character’s profile.
The characters are all one dimensional and the art work fails to impress. All of the ‘nods’ to the classic strips are forced into the narrative with no real explanation. Maybe for a different type of Detective tale the aesthetic may work but for such a strong character like Dick Tracy, there is an expectation of what the story should be and how it should be presented. There is a high bar for any new story and Dead or Alive just isn’t reaching high enough.
The one positive to take from issue 2 is that it is slightly better than issue 1.
Dick Tracy Dead or Alive #2 is written by Lee and Michael Allred, art by Rich Tommaso and Michael Allred, colour by Laura Allred.
Another title that was a little underwhelming this week was the new title Go-Bots from IDW Publishing. I was curious about this title as I have dim memories of having some of the toys way back when. In fact, I had Leader 1 who is one of the central characters in this story.
However, my memories of the toys are that they were a bit rubbish, a poor imitation of the Transformers toys which I loved. The same can be said of this comic. After years of being invested in the Transformers comics, it was Simon Furman’s work on the UK Transformers comic that really got me hooked on comics in the 80s, coming across this comic is a bit of a let-down. It I very underwhelming and doesn’t have any striking features.
The design and the art of the comic by Tom Scioli is definitely interesting as he has made the entire product look and feel like a comic from the early 80’s; especially with the colour tones and panel crowded pages. There is a naivety that is quite charming but this is experience is soon lost in the baffling story telling. The fluctuating art style creates an uneven read which leaves the reader wondering if they are reading a daily newspaper strip or a Marvel-esq superhero comic.
In the end, it is the lack of intriguing characters that makes this a difficult read. It’s like scratching the surface of something only to find more surface underneath.
Go-Bots #1 is written/drawn and lettered by Tom Scioli and published by IDW Publishing.
To remove the disappointment of Dick Tracy and Go-Bots, I would recommend Low Road West #3 published by Image comics, Smooth Criminals #1 published by Boom! Studios and Night Moves #1 published by IDW Publishing. All good reads.
This week a living Legend died.
Everyone knew who Stan Lee was. Everyone! To some he was the creator of Marvel’s greatest comics; one of the most inspirational writers to work in the medium; friend; work colleague; and all round nice guy. To others he was just the old guy in every Marvel Movie.
To most he was more than one of those, and to a select few he was all of those.
I have been reading comics written by Stan Lee for most of my life and, even though I no longer read Marvel comics or even Superheroes comics as a general rule, most of the comics I read today owe a small part of their existence to the power house that was Stan Lee. The out pouring of memories and tributes on social media like Twitter and Facebook just emphasise his status in the world, not just the comic book world.
He will be missed by so many people and remembered by even more. No-one would dispute that he leaves a massive and impressive legacy behind and that he will forever remain a Legend.
Our current family goal in the Lego Marvel Superheroes game is to rescue all 50 Stan Lee’s throughout the game. We seem to have missed so many on the first play through. Even my children, who have yet to reach double figures, know who Stan Lee is.
When I told my son that Stan Lee had passed away, he looked up at me with sadness in his eyes and said,
I guess I still have some work to do there….
This week’s comics have aliens, voodoo, heavy metal and the whole entire ‘Verse.
My first pick of the new releases is the new entry into Joss Whedon’s Firefly universe.
Written by Greg Pak, illustrated by Dan McDaid, coloured by Marvelo Costa and lettered by Jim Campbell. Published by Boom! Studios.
The story see’s the crew of the Serenity limping through space until they are forced by an old War Ship to run and hide on a nearby moon. Desperate for repairs, and a growing need to get out of the local air space, Mal and Co search for a job to earn a penny or two.
The story has a wonderfully engaging opening which not only facilitates the story but re-introduces the characters just in case the reader has forgotten who is who. This opening also helps to set this series in relation to other stories, emphasising the time period of the piece.
Pak’s script is punchy, packed with humour. Each of the characters feels familiar and they each have their own voice, a voice that long time readers will now be used to.
I personally love Dan McDaid’s work, he has a vibrancy and energy that he injects into his work. The action sequences jump from the page and there is always a sense of danger hanging over the characters. Costa’s colour work is also superb in this first issue, contrasting the coldness of space and the threat of burning while the crew are stuck in the middle, coated in their colour faded clothes.
Firefly #1 is an enjoyable action comic with all of the idiosyncrasies that you have come to expect from a story set in the ‘Verse.
Cemetery Beach issue 3 hits the shelves this week. It has yet to reach the same level of admiration that I have for Trees but Warren Ellis and Jason Howard know how to produce a good comic. This is pretty much a chase movie on an alien world populated with unlikable characters and mutated beasties. The central characters cut a swath through a dystopian world as they head for their own personal salvations.
The script is succinct allowing the images to tell much of the story and when you have Jason Howard on art duties, this is exactly what you want. Howard's work boarders on the impressionistic at times with the colour work carrying a lot of the emotion. Some of the panels are made even more shocking thanks to the bright white centres and orange tinges which act like a sudden flash of light in the darkness.
The design work is also worth a mention. Not only are the city backgrounds beautifully rendered on each page and panel but the design of the Outerfamily is sublime and grotesque. These are real creatures of nightmare and worth the cover price itself.
Cemetery Beach #3 is out now, published by Image Comics, lettering by Fonografiks.
Other worthy mentions for today are Jook Joint #2 from Image comics. It’s not an enjoyable read in the same was as Firefly because of the subject matter. A Voodoo revenge story with a heart that beats 'Empowerment'. If it’s on the shelf pick it up, the writing and art are excellent and the story is definitely gripping.
I have Infinite Dark #2 to read. The first issue was a slow, space horror, similar in feel I thought to Steve Niles' Delta 13. Published by Top Cow and has the look of many of their titles, based on the first issue I am looking forward to the second, which is out now.
Finally, Murder Falcon #2. I love this comic. It is ridiculous, outrageous and does not take itself too seriously but despite all of that there are some especially moving moments within these 20 odd pages. My full review is over on Comiconverse.com here, check it out and definitely check out the comic itself. It’s very metal in all of the right ways.