By Daniel Cole
Welcome to the Six Shooter! This is a weekly column that will review six specific comics. Big new releases, small interesting titles and random curiosities. All will be looked at. The way it works is that there will be a brief review of the comics followed by our rating system. Our ratings are:
Headshot(Best of the week)
Miss (Don’t Read)
Misfire (Worst of the week)
Another good mix of comics this week. Life lessons are learnt, villains beaten and herculean feats are achieved (and that’s just in My Little Pony). So how did they do?
MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #8 – IDW PUBLISHING
Written by Heather Nuhfer
Art by Amy Mebberson & Heather Breckel
The successful revamp of My Little Pony has shown that any old idea can be revived if looked at in a new way. The hyper cartoony and colourful presentation of IDW’s Pony lead series is easily the title’s greatest strength.
Amy Mebberson delivers some wonderfully expressive characters. The visuals maybe reminiscent of some overly cute anime cartoon, but the style suits the product. The cutesy look of the book actually hides the sheer range of emotion Mebberson is able to depict. Breckel’s colouring gives the art a bright and vibrant look that is sure to catch anyone’s eye. This is clean and clear art that manages to be visually engaging.
Nuhfer’s script isn’t as successful, but the target audience will be well catered for. The themes of friendship and over coming fear are a little heavy handed, but Nuhfer adds just the right amount of action and humour to make sure the comic doesn’t sink under the weight of its message.
It may not be the most sophisticated narrative on the shelves, but there is enough here to entertain most readers. It has a charm to it that will appeal to a lot of people and the art hides a layer of depth within its simple presentation. It’s definitely a title for anyone who wants to introduce their kids to the medium.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – HIT
SUPERMAN UNCHAINED #1 – DC COMICS
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Jim Lee, Dustin Nguyen, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair & John Kalisz
DC’s second flagship character has had a hard time in the New 52. His titles haven’t exactly set the world on fire and he continues to struggle to be relevant. Put simply the Superman of the New 52 needs a new lick of paint and this is where Superman Unchained comes in.
Even if the title is a little odd (one would assume Man Of Steel might have been used), Snyder actually focuses the issue’s main plot device around the idea of an unchained Superman. But one unchained from a moral code. Having another Superman who has been around for longer and is used as a weapon certainly gives the narrative a nice focus. The whole evil Superman idea maybe old hat, but Snyder has essentially addressed the problem of having the main protagonist be all-powerful. The future threat will actually be a threat. This new threat also allows Snyder to attempt to tackle themes that are appropriate to Superman.
However this issue one doesn’t have any actual impact outside of the cliffhanger and evil Superman premise. Snyder diligently gives the reader the tour of Superman’s life, as Lois, Jimmy, Lex, Smallville and The Daily Planet are all touched on. But none of these elements are expanded upon and in fact you could be forgiven for thinking that this was issue #12 of an on-going series rather than a first issue. This is due to the fact that Snyder assumes that everyone reading this is up to date with all of the New 52 Superman titles. No real reason is given for why Clark doesn’t work at the Daily Planet or why Lex is in prison. Granted these facts don’t ruin the comic, but it isn’t very new reader friendly. But saying that Snyder is successful in showcasing Superman as a character. He is inspiring and heroic and Snyder manages to capture that aspect of him perfectly.
But the major problem with the issue is Jim Lee’s art. The legendary artist doesn’t exactly bring his A game. The pencil work often looks rushed and his visual language seems dated. There are moments in the art that show off Superman’s iconic strength, but they don’t leave a lasting impact. Most of the work seems to have been put into the poster, which is a shame.
So, Snyder and Lee deliver a book that has all the hallmarks of a blockbuster title, but is lacking somewhat. The script by Snyder has promise and definitely goes someway in delivering a New 52 Superman people will enjoy, but Lee’s pencils don’t seem up to the task. But aside from Lee there is enough here that makes sure Superman Unchained is worth a read (if not the price tag).
SIX SHOOTER RATING – HIT
THE HOLY NUMBERS #2 – 458 COMICS
Written by Tommie Kelly
Art by Tommie Kelly
The digital comics boom has given rise to some interesting titles and allowed independent creators to thrive. Tommie Kelly is one such creator. The Irish comics creator’s new series continues to gain steam with its second issue.
The Holy Numbers has a distinct noir tone about it. The narrative deals with a religious organisation (The Holy Numbers) and the death of its figurehead. This is a supernatural thriller that is full of mysteries. But it must be said that the narrative is very familiar. However Kelly presents his narrative in an engaging way, giving us distinctly human characters to focus on. He tackles the idea of organised religion and manages to question it without coming off as a man on a soapbox. The thematic elements he focuses on (religion VS freewill, the abuse of power, public image VS the truth) aren’t revelatory, but they are current and engaging.
His art is clear and distinct. Kelly manages to convey a lot of emotion with his pencils and his visual storytelling is extremely strong. The scene involving Raymond in the café is a master class in how to stage visual characterisation. His use of shading lends the book a distinct filmic quality that adds depth to the art. It is also nice to have a digital comic that is perfectly suited for a digital device with the whole comic presented in landscape.
This is a great title that has the sensibilities of a good TV show. The art style is visually engaging and the narrative is intriguing. There is an air of familiarity with the comic’s themes and elements of its plot, but on the whole this is a book that will entertain anyone wanting a break from superheroes and would like to read about characters you can invest in.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – HIT
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #16 – MARVEL COMICS
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by Matteo Buffagni, Jordie Bellaire & Matthew Wilson
Kelly Sue DeConnick has been doing wonders with Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel. She has really brought Carol back to the forefront and has done some interesting things with the character. This issue of Avengers Assemble is the second part of the Carol Danvers focused crossover Enemy Within that is the culmination of plot points from her own title.
From the perspective of an Avengers Assemble reader, this issue’s narrative might be lost on them. However DeConnick doesn’t overtly focus the issue on Carol, but does mistakenly focus a portion of the narrative on an uninteresting antagonist. On his own the villain of the piece is a nice foil for Captain Marvel, but within the context of this issue he doesn’t quite work. DeConnick merely shows that he is a Kree and introduces us to his new super villain identity. It is all a little tiresome. The same can be said for the humour within the book. The usual charming wit of a DeConnick script is hampered by flat dialogue and the overuse of comedy in every scene. A lighthearted Avengers tale isn’t a problem, but the humour misses its mark more often than not. This is all a shame as the most interesting part of the comic, Captain Marvel’s characterisation, is hardly touched upon here.
Buffagni’s art is a little inconsistent as well. Some pages look great, with detailed line work. But others look unfinished. He also has a problem with the human body, as characters don’t keep the same body proportions throughout the issue. This inconsistency harms the book no end and highlights the problems with the script.
As a continuation of the Enemy Within story line this issue does move things forward. But it lacks the characterisation, wit and charm of the previous instalment and DeConnick’s work in general.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – MISS
THE TRUE LIVES OF THE FABULOUS KILLJOYS #1 – DARK HORSE COMICS
Written by Gerard Way & Shaun Simon
Art by Becky Clooman & Dan Jackson
My Chemical Romance front man Gerard Way’s new comic is a little less accomplished than his previous effort. The long “quirky” title gives the reader a clue to what sort of comic they are about to experience.
That being said there are a lot of ideas here that capture your attention. The problem is that these ideas are flung at you. The reader has barely enough time to process one concept before Way (and Simon) produces another. The whole narrative feels overstuffed and the writing team have ignored the idea of creating an issue that reads well. It bounces around the place and offers up an overwrought narrative pretending to be intelligent discussion. The comic is simply not as clever or unique as it thinks it is.
It borrows heavily from The Warriors, especially with its tedious DJ narrations. It also doesn’t offer much in the way of an original dystopian future. People in suits are in power, artificial prostitutes, a Mad Max style wasteland and a bunch of anti-hero protagonists fill the pages with glaring lack of originality. The play on rhyming lyrics and the musical themes are interesting in their own write, but are swallowed up by the pretentious presentation.
Clooman’s pencils are seemingly what you’d expect from this type of tale. Her pencils are clean and her characters are detailed, but there is something missing. This is due to the character designs and this titles aesthetic. Much like the narrative the visuals are familiar and there is nothing here that hasn’t been seen before. Jackson’s colours do make the art pop off the page though.
As a first issue Way and friends have made The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys very difficult to get invested in. The good is outweighed by the bad. It is the execution that lets the issue down.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – MISFIRE
SIX-GUN GORILLA #1 – BOOM! STUDIOS
Written by Simon Spurrier
Art by Jeff Stokely & Andre May
The title ape may be an eye-catching character but Spurrier decides not to reveal the gun-totting gorilla until the final page. Instead he spends the issue successfully setting the scene.
As world building goes, Spurrier makes it look easy. He presents a future in which war is entertainment. Colourful weapons are mashed together with period costumes to create an aesthetic that is recognisably familiar, but also unique. Spurrier juxtaposes the action on another planet with the people living on Earth enjoying the entertainment. He lets Jeff Stokely’s art do the talking, which allows him more room for characterisation and plot. The overall narrative is solid and entertaining, with a literal everyman thrust into conflict and predictably ending up becoming the centre of the tale. Yes, the book does have a few clichéd plot points, but Spurrier admits this and embraces it.
Blue is a fully-fledged character and his confusion on the battlefield is believable. The rest of the disposable cast are well utilised to show the chaos of war. The script’s strength is the heavily accented dialogue that adds depth to characters. Moments that highlight what is happening on Earth only act to move the large plot forward as the antagonistic force is presented quickly and efficiently. Spurrier has a lot to say on the idea of war and the way it’s perceived, which adds another layer of depth to the narrative.
Stokely is somewhat of a revelation. His art is beautifully kinetic and gives the fighting a dynamic sense of pace. The violence on display is almost surprising in its brutality. Stokely captures the chaos and horror of a battlefield perfectly. His splash pages are often cinematic in scope as he gives a sense of scale to the battles. But it isn’t all about the battle sequences as Stokely excels in the quiet moments. His depiction of characters is on point and Blue goes through the full gamut of human emotions. But it is that final image that steals the show. Six-gun Gorilla is a striking and intimidating visual presence.
Spurrier and Stokely have delivered a great first issue that gives the reader all they need to know about the world and the plot. There are a few niggling problems due to the predictability of the narrative. But on the whole this is an exciting new series that has a pulpy vibe, bloody action, solid characterisation and a talking gorilla.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – HIT
Six-Gun Gorilla was close to making a headshot, but still four hits isn’t bad at all. Avengers Assemble lost itself in bad jokes and an uninspired villain, whilst True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys was a tediously pretentious read. But we can declare this week a success.
Do you agree with the reviews? Did we get them wrong or right? Have any suggests on what we should review next week? Get in touch in the comments section.
For more comic views and reviews follow Dan on Twitter at @gizmo151183
Posted on June 13th, 2013
Category: REVIEWS, SIX SHOOTER
Tags: Avengers Assemble #16 review, Comic Reviews, Daniel Cole, DC Comics, My Little Pony #8 review, Six Shooter #003, Six-Gun Gorilla #1 review, Superman Unchained #1 review, The Holy Numbers #2, True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1 Review