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)
This week is full of zombies, mysteries, reinvented superheroes and Darth Vader. It’s another eclectic collection of titles. So lets do this!
AMELIA COLE AND THE HIDDEN WAR #2 – MONKEY BRAIN COMICS
Written by Adam P. Knave & D.J. Kirkbride
Art by Nick Brokenshire
It seems that there have been many attempts at exploring magic since the introduction of a certain boy wizard. Amelia Cole is not specifically geared towards the same market as Mr Potter though.
Knave and Kirkbride blend superhero and militaristic elements into this magical themed world and the outcome is mixed at best. There is nothing inherently wrong with the concept, but it seems like the execution is a little lacking. This is mainly due to a weak main narrative and bad dialogue. Amelia herself has too much “attitude,” which makes her an unlikable lead. Her thoughts are displayed in text boxes that don’t engage. Although they are intended to add depth to Amelia, they’re too forced and come off as superficial statements.
The narrative of the issue is well paced and the structure works well. But the content is a little uninspiring. The whole plot revolves around Amelia waking up and getting back into the game whilst The Omega Company find something in the desert. It may move the overall plot forward, but it lacks a hook to keep you interested. The opening flashback about Lemmy is the only part of the narrative that is engaging.
Brokenshire’s art is solid. The use of slanted layouts for the action scenes gives them a sense of motion. His character depictions work for the script and have a charming quality about them. However the backgrounds are bare and the colouring is flat, which adds to the issue’s problems.
The title’s concept is lost due to this issue’s mediocre presentation. The narrative is uninteresting and the script is marred by terrible dialogue. It isn’t the worst read you’ll ever have but it is utterly forgettable.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – MISS
X-FILES SEASON 10 #1 – IDW PUBLISHING
Written by Joe Harris (script) & Chris Carter (Story)
Art by Michael Walsh & Jordie Bellaire
This continuation of the cult TV show certainly starts like an episode of the X-Files, with a teaser before the title sequence. The issue’s moody visuals give the book a distinct quality and the writing is solid.
Walsh’s pencils might be simplistic in some respects. But his Mulder, Scully and Skinner look like their real life counterparts and there is much to appreciate from that alone. The big spacious panels evoke the feeling that you are watching television and the layouts are simple but effective. Empty panel space is used to accentuate a reveal (Mulder) and the heavy inking gives the book a noir quality that really works. As always colourist Jordie Bellaire is on fine form with her colours giving a depth to the art.
Harris’ script has the unenviable task of living up to the fans of the show. But he is more than up to the challenge. His character work shines more than the actual plot. Mulder and Scully are fleshed out and Harris make’s sure new readers can get in on the action as well. The interplay between the characters is fun, but some of Mulder’s humour does fall flat.
The only problem really is the plot. Granted Harris and Carter have to get their main characters back into the game, but it seems a little too contrived. The central mystery might hook a lot of readers, but the “someone hacked into the X-Files” angle isn’t the best opening gambit for this series.
However this is a title that will please both fans and new readers. As a first issue it’s a success. It has a great visual identity and the characters are engaging. The plot may not be exciting, but it has enough about it to make most readers come back for the next instalment.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – HIT
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #24 – MARVEL COMICS
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by David Marquez & Justin Ponser
This issue is all about (re)introducing Cloak and Dagger to the Ultimate Universe. Their powers are the same, but their origin has had a much-needed overhaul. Bendis manages to link these new heroes to the Roxxon brain trust, who have been scheming for a while now. Bendis fills the issue with bad pseudo science and his talking head style does slow the pace of the narrative somewhat. But the new origin makes sense and surrounding it with science fiction elements keeps it in line with Ultimate Spider-man’s universe.
Bendis has made both Cloak and Dagger instantly likable as characters. There is history there and the flashbacks provide the reader with a succinct background to them both. However this being a Spider-man comic you’d expect he’d make an appearance. Well Mile Morales is still grieving from his mother’s death. Bendis continues the “I’ve quit” storyline and although it works in theory, Morales is barely in this issue. Therefore this aspect of the issue has no weight as Bendis is more focused on his new toys. He sacrifices Mile’s continued development to showcase his new take on Cloak and Dagger.
But for any problems the script has David Marquez more than makes up for it with his art. It is quite literally beautifully to look art. He has an eye for the human form and he is easily one of the best character artist working in comics. Every emotion is captured perfectly. His pencils are detailed, clean and dynamic. His fight scenes are kinetic and pop off the page. The redesigns of Cloak and Dagger aren’t especially inspiring, but Marquez sells them. Especially Cloak who is a wonderful visual.
The comic succeeds as an introduction to new characters. But it does little to truly move along Mile’s story. He is somewhat of an afterthought. But the art is excellent and that alone makes this issue worth a read.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – HIT
STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE NINTH ASSASSIN #3 – DARK HORSE COMICS
Written by Tim Siedell
Art by Ivan Fernández, Denis Freitas & Michael Atiyeh
The creative team deliver a nearly silent issue that just has Vader searching for answers. It isn’t a revelatory character study and it isn’t something that deepens the Star Wars mythology. It’s a comic that show’s off how utterly cool the character can be. He dispatches enemies, leaps around and walks menacingly. He does everything that Darth Vader does and it is presented perfectly.
Siedell essentially lets Fernández tell the story through the visuals. But the script has a great pace to it and the limited dialogue delivers both exposition and characterisation. The less Vader speaks means that when he does it has impact. Cold and practical seem to be his defining traits. This less is more approach to the script really elevates this simple story.
Fernández does the heavy lifting and he does it well. Vast landscapes, alien beasts and lightsaber action are handled with the same level of detail. The book looks great and it is impressive that Fernández can create some distinct emotional reactions on the blank armoured faces of the issue’s cast. Best of all is the way in which he inserts heroic imagery into certain scenes, for example Vader putting his lightsaber back after killing a creature.
It isn’t the most interesting plot, but the execution is excellent. The lack of dialogue is a boon to the issue. There is little depth here, but the Sith Lord will entertain you.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – HEADSHOT
EXTINCTION PARADE #1 – AVATAR PRESS
Written by Mark Brooks
Art by Raulo Caceres & Digikore Studios
The author of World War Z adds another zombie tale to his bibliography. But this has a twist as Brooks decides to tackle another highly popular supernatural creature, the vampire.
From the off Brooks wastes no time in introducing everything you need to know about his new concept. Vampires are arrogant and have underestimated the threat zombies present. Brooks criticises previous popular incarnations of vampires, but crucially he doesn’t build a unique angle for his own interpretation. The main character’s narration is overwrought and reminiscent of other fictional vampires (namely Lestat). The whole concept is overplayed and makes for quite a tiresome read.
The art is rough, but the colouring has a bizarre sheen to it. This is due to the way in which the character and backgrounds are shaded. Caceres pencils are in direct conflict with Digikore’s colours and the book doesn’t quite come together visually. The detailed rotting corpses and violence impress, but it isn’t anything we haven’t seen before.
And that is what the main problem is with the issue. The familiar visual and narrative elements detract from the main concept, which isn’t that interesting to begin with. It may set-up the overall plot and characters, but Mark Brooks’ script is utterly uninspired. The Extinction Parade is a lifeless book with nothing to offer.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – MISFIRE
BATWOMAN #21 – DC COMICS
Written by J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman
Art by Francesco Francavilla
This newest issue of Batwoman focuses on Killer Croc as we get a break from the main narrative.
As always the book’s visual structure is impressive and Francavilla has a lot of fun playing with the layouts. The crocodile theme is a stroke of genius and makes the book a great visual experience. However Francavilla’s actual art within the panels is a little inconsistent. The tone of the script doesn’t exactly go with the pencils, which often look a little cartoonish. The quality of the art changes throughout as detailed character work becomes simplistic by the end of the issue.
But Williams and Blackman’s script is good enough to hide the arts problems. Killer Croc’s narration is filled with character. There are moments of humour to be had, but the overall narrative actually explores Croc’s life. The writing team manage to make Croc empathetic and the plot actually earns its happy ending.
Although the art lets the issue down somewhat, the actual panel layouts and the script are enough to call this issue a successful character piece. Williams and Blackman continue to provide DC with one of its better titles.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – HIT
Overall it has been a good week. A surprising star performance from Darth Vader has been the standout comic. Proving that good storytelling can come from a great understanding of how to use the medium. The good outweighs the bad for another week and although there was one utter failure of an issue, it is a good time to enjoy comics.
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 21st, 2013
Category: REVIEWS, SIX SHOOTER
Tags: Amelia Cole and the Hidden War #2 Review, Avatar Press, Batwoman #21 Review, brian michael bendis, Daniel Cole, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, Extinction Parade #1 Review, marvel comics, Six Shooter #004, Star Wars Darth Vader and the Ninth Assasin #3 Review, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #24 Review, X-Files Season 10 #1 Review