Last week was a slightly disappointing comic week, although on reflection I read some great comics and really enjoyed Frank Miller’s new Xerxes: the rise and fall of something or other. In contrast, this week I have been inundated with a stack of excellent reads. A few ‘meh’s’ crept in but on the whole there is a wonderful array of entertaining stories and outstanding works of comic book art.
First up Boom’s Planet of the Apes: Ursus #4. It’s Planet of the Apes and it’s been many years since I’ve read an Ape comic I haven’t liked (I didn’t read the Green Lantern Crossover though) so already off the fence before picking this one up. David F Walker’s story is a cleverly woven retelling of the original movies with a deeper examination of the racism inherent in the Apes world. The central character is beautifully written, full of depth and character.
This issue sees a change in artist with Lalit Kumar Sharma taking over from Chris Mooneyham. Luckily Jason Wordie is still on colours and manages to bring some consistence to the aesthetic as Sharma’s style is more cartoony than the superb Mooneyham’s rendering. The change in art doesn’t affect the story telling too much but there are moments when I wondered what a panel would look if Mooneyham had drawn it.
Planet of the Apes: Ursus. Published by Boom! Studios. Written by David F Walker. Art Lalit Kumar Sharma. Colours Jason Wordie
Another title that I enjoyed less this month than last was Dry County from Image Comics. The difference is that I wasn’t that taken with the first issue. The story telling is mundane and lacks any sense of drama. I put this down to the central character being thoroughly unlikable and the ‘underground comic’ art style becomes tedious very quickly. Elements of the narrative are intriguing with a slow mystery bubbling away but in the end it just isn’t enough.
Dry County published by Image Comics. Written and illustrated by Rich Tommaso
Dodge City #2 from Boom! Studios Boom! Box imprint is a fast paced, young adult drama. The characters are diverse and larger than life. Set around a sport that is fast and full on, Josh Trujillo writes a script which reflects this. Dramatic twists keep coming as the history of the team begins to unfold and the newbie captain learns about the uphill struggle facing him. Cara McGee’s art is full of energy and the layouts are simple but effective. Dodge City is a fun and easy read which is ideal for a teenage reader.
Dodge City published by Boom! Studios. Written by Josh Trujillo and Art by Cara McGee. Colours Goncalo Lopes.
Robocop: Citizens Arrest #1
You remember Robocop, yeah? That policeman’s brain in the chunky cyber-tech body? Well, people keep wheeling him out to fight new crimes, never letting him retire. Except that’s exactly what Brian Wood has done with this new series from Boom! Studios. The concept of the comic is that a new breed of law enforcement is needed in the future and, as if commenting on modern culture, the solution lays in the hands of the average citizen. Apps! Apps are the way of the future and getting monetary rewards for squealing on no good criminals. What could possibly go wrong with that idea?
Robocop: CA is an entertaining peak at the dangers of technology when used for all the wrong reasons but it’s most fascinating aspect is how Wood deals with the redundant Officer Murphy. Jorge Coelho’s art work captures the sublime atmosphere of the original film and tie-in comics while at the same time feels modern. Robocop himself is especially well drawn, looking like a Frank Miller creation through and through.
I enjoyed this more than I thought I was going to. I was ready to be snarky about it but Woods writing and Coelho’s art make this ludicrous idea work.
Robocop: Citizens Arrest published by Boom! Studios. Written by Brian Wood and illustrated by Jorge Coelho.
Brothers Dracul #1 from Aftershock.
I’ve seen this referred to as Dracula Year one but I think that does it a disservice. Instead of getting straight into the bloodsucking, this comic delves into the life of the character that, supposedly, inspired the original Dracula by Bram Stoker. The Artwork is brutal in places and extremely detailed with some excellent colour work. Check out my full review on comiconverse.com for the full run down.
Brothers Dracul published by Aftershock comics. Written by Cullem Bunn and illustrated by Mirko Colak. Colours by Maria Santaolalla
Next up, the first of two Russian centric comics that came out this week. The Dead Hand from Image comics is an espionage story about an aging spy. During the early 90’s the hero of the piece hunts down dangerous weapons in Russia and is shocked by what he finds. Years later he works in a laid back, pleasant town where nothing ever happens. The perfect retirement for the spy character. That is, until someone comes nosing around.
A wonderfully written story with a big twist really captures the reader and drags you into the story. The opening has a Captain America sense to it with the idea of an American Boy Scout fighting for all the right causes but this cliché is subverted just enough to make the narrative work in a logical way. Stephen Mooney brings a superhero element to his layouts and a espionage look to his panels, mixing both styles with the confidence of a seasoned artist. Jordie Bellaire adds her amazing talent to the colours and the final product is a wonder to read.
The Dead Hand published by Image Comics. Written by Kyle Higgins. Art and colour by Stephen Mooney and Jordie Bellaire. Pick this up if you can but not before (not that I want to have favourites but..)
I loved this character driven family drama. Yes, it's not your average family becasue the central character did despicable and violent things while working for the Russian government. And yes, he hid that from his son by telling him he was selling insurance. But the consequences are dealt with in a very emotional, family orientated way. There is a mystery at the heart of this narrative which only just starts to unfold towards the end of the issue but by then Steve Orlando has already grabbed you by the throat with his heart-breaking story. Garry Brown produces some moving imagery and uses the panel layouts and page transitions to set a melancholic tone to the entire comic.
I have written further about this earlier in the week (here). I can’t recommend this title highly enough. If you only read one comic this week, I’d make it Crude.
But hopefully you can pick up a few of the others as well.
Don’t forget there is also Sleepless #5 which I have yet to read but am looking forward to. And Vs #3 if you are still following it. I really appreciate the artwork on this Image title but I just can’t get into the story, in fact I gave up on this issue. It’s just not for me but I know it will find an audience out there.
And apparently Aftershocks Anthology: Shock was out this week but my local shop did not have it in (I have it on order so I’m not sure where it is….). This is an oversized book of a comic with an array of amazing talent. I cannot wait to read it so, sorry local comic book shop, I will be in everyday badgering you for it.
A great week this week with plenty of good reading. I’ll leave you with some pretty images to get you in the reading mood.