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 we have three digital only comics. As the digital revolution of the medium continues are these comics better than their physical counterparts. Find out below!
DEMON DOG #1 – SELF-PUBLISHED (FIND ON GUMROAD.COM)
Written by Derek Charm
Art by Derek Charm
Derek Charm’s Demon Dog is an interesting piece. It plays on the Lassie concept and includes a Saturday morning cartoon moral lesson.
In fact the tone is akin to a Saturday morning cartoon, but with a few elements that promote it to an Adult Swim type of product. There is fun to be had here, but it isn’t exactly memorable. The spoofing of the moral lesson and Lassie angle does make you smile. However the whole thing seems to be over before it really gets going.
The pace is break neck and the plot is slim. Which in the context of what Charm is attempting to do is fine. But in essence the comic already seems to have already delivered the only joke it can tell in its first issue. However funny this is, it doesn’t make you want to come back for another helping.
Charm’s art is perfectly suited for the style of story he wants to tell. The cartoony aesthetic adds a lot of visual humour to the book. Charm manages to make a demonic phone look hilarious and the scenes that are silent work best.
Charm is a solid visual storyteller and Demon Dog will entertain a lot of people. However the comic evokes the feeling of a short comic strip and is utterly forgettable.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – MISS
UNCANNY X-MEN #8 – MARVEL COMICS
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Chris Bachalo & Tim Townsend
As the new shepherd of the X-Universe Bendis has created something interesting in the pages of All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men. However more often than not Uncanny seems to be behind its sister title when it comes to quality.
Bendis delivers another one of his famous talky scripts in this issue. It is concerned with setting up the next arc and introducing the reader to a new team member. Now this isn’t a bad thing, but the whole issue falls under the weight of its own dialogue. The constant chatter becomes so much that even the art gets swallowed up by it.
It doesn’t help that certain plot points are revisited again this issue, but still nothing has moved forward; namely the fact that the senior X-Men’s powers are broken. Bendis attempts to give weight to the Cyclops/Magneto dynamic, but the scene between them seems too forced. Bendis is more successful when dealing with the persecution of mutants as both the new mutant and Fabio get interesting scenes. But it isn’t enough to excuse the rest of the books shortcomings.
Chris Bachalo’s art is uncharacteristically clear this issue. Although some of the visual choices are a bit much (Magik’s flaming demons). The visuals are strong for a mostly static issue, but Bachalo’s characters do sometimes look quite bloated in the face, which is a little distracting.
This isn’t a terrible comic, but it is a tedious read. Although the main plot moves forward somewhat there is still a sense that Bendis is treading water. Bendis becomes the victim of his own style this issue and the result is a long-winded and bland comic.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – MISS
SKYBREAKER #3 – MONKEY BRAIN COMICS
Written by Michael Moreci
Art by Drew Zucker
Skybreaker’s continues at a steady pace with issue three as the main story is built upon heavily.
However Michael Moreci falls down the exposition trap this issue. It is completely understandable that Moreci wants to deepen his story and give the reader information about character motivations and the plot, but his script is a little cumbersome. The issue often seems like it is just dumping information on the reader and this in turn hinders the book.
The pacing of the issue is somewhat slow due to the extended scenes explaining what is going on. The overreliance on exposition also makes certain scenes a little tiresome. Even the script’s moments of action don’t exactly help as they seem to be in the book to just give Drew Zucker something violent to draw.
Zucker’s art is slightly inconsistent. His penchant for having every characters head at a jaunty downward angle makes a lot of them look a little bizarre. There is definitely a lot of forehead in this book. The violence is gleefully depicted, but fails to impress visually. The black and white pages only help to highlight the little inconsistencies in the art, as facial features seem to be out of place and the backgrounds lack depth and detail.
This is a comic that isn’t a right off and there are elements to the plot that are engaging, but the execution is where Skybreaker fails. It’s over written and visually uneven.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – MISS
JUSTICE LEAGUE #22 – DC COMICS
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert & Rod Reis
The beginning of DC comic’s big Trinity War event is here. It certainly starts with a bang, but perhaps it should have focused on making the reader care more.
It’s perfectly fine that Geoff Johns delivers the crescendo to what he has been building to in JL and JLA, but these plots will be alien for new readers. But Johns tackles this problem, but with little skill. He relies too heavily on characters recounting events that have happened before and this makes the majority of the issue one giant recap page. Admirable it maybe that Johns is bringing together so many characters and storylines for this event, but his exposition heavy script makes the book a cumbersome read. It is also worth noting that Johns makes a lot of these characters come across like arseholes (especially Shazam).
The choice to frame the action around Madame Xandu at least gives Johns an easy (lazy) way to introduce the major players on the battlefield. After all the backstory to the event has been described, Johns is free to deliver the opening moments of this crossover. And what he gives us is two deaths and a villain who is tied to DC’s Flashpoint series (that started the new 52). Much like a lot of these events, death is used so we take the whole thing seriously and it is a great way to exploit the readers into thinking there are actually high stakes involved in the story. But it is a tiresome exercise even if the actions of Superman are integral to the plot.
Ivan Reis is the books shining light. He is an artist that understands how to deliver top notched and polished superhero stories. His art is at times gorgeous and he constantly throws out great team shots. The action is kinetic and his character work is expressive. His work is tailor made for this type of blockbuster event.
So, even though the book looks excellent it still has major problems with its script. Johns’ lazy approach to exposition cripples the first half of the book and makes this read like a prelude as opposed to a part one. The “twists” and “surprises” have no real impact because there is little depth to the characters or plot. This is bloated first issue that gets more wrong than it does right, but Reis does enough to make sure it isn’t a total failure.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – MISS
BREATH OF BONES: A TALE OF THE GOLEM #2 – DARK HORSE COMICS
Written by Steve Niles & Matt Santoro
Art by Dave Wachter
This is a familiar tale set in WWII, but it has a supernatural twist that involves a golem. It may sound a little absurd, but Niles and Santoro ground this tale in humanity.
The scenario may not be anything new, an enemy of the Nazis being hidden by a friendly town, but the script has so much depth to it. It is a testament to the creative teams skill that they have managed to present the tale in such a way that you care for the characters. Using the eyes of a young boy, Niles & Santoro can really show the fear that comes with war. The comic’s most effective scene is when the boy (Noah) sees the tanks coming for the town.
Niles and Santoro know how to create tension and when not to use dialogue to enhance a scene. The use of exposition is sparse, but tied to the characters. The book delivers everything you need to know in a succinct manner and this allows the script to develop and revel in its character work.
Artist Dave Wachter brings this script vividly to life. His use of shading is excellent and adds a lot of visual depth to the black and white presentation. The overall tone of the art is sombre, which enhances the plot no end. His pencils are detailed and his characters truly emote. The book has several standout visuals that highlight the fear the boy has and this in turn adds depth to his character. Wachter’s visual storytelling is extremely strong with his choice of panel layouts giving the book a cinematic look, whilst making sure the story is well paced.
This is comic that deals with a subject matter that maybe familiar, but it is a well-executed book. It uses subtly and characterisation to tell its story. It’s a perfect example of a great creative team working in harmony to produce a great comic.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – HEADSHOT
AMANDA HOCKING’S THE HOLLOWS BOOK FIVE – DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
Written by Amanda Hocking & Tony Lee
Art by Steve Uy
If you weren’t already done with the zombie genre then this comic will make sure you never want to read about the Walking Dead again.
It isn’t so much the zombies themselves that makes this an abysmal read, but the characters we have to follow. Hocking and Lee’s script makes sure that each one of the main protagonists are as annoying as possible with the exception of Blue (yes that’s his name). Blue doesn’t really do much, but that is probably for the best. Granted these characters are young, but could they perhaps be a little less self-absorbed, especially as they are in a crisis.
Hocking and Lee make these characters tread familiar narrative ground throughout the issue. They argue about staying in a comfy place, as oppose to keeping on the road. Understandably the youngest is a selfish child, but the dialogue really hammers home the point that she wants to stay in the comfy house. By the end of that scene you are willing the rest of the characters to just leave her there to die. The writers also have our character visit a Vegas casino to get supplies and meet a crazy religious group. The plot is neither interesting nor engaging and is made worst by the fact that every character in the book seems to be an utter twat.
Steve Uy’s art is hindered by the black and white style. The front cover show’s how his digital colouring techniques make for an enjoyable image. However the interior art is dull and lacklustre. His Japanese inspired style does fit with the zombie genre though. His characters are well animated and his action beats have a great sense of motion. But the whole book could have benefitted with a bit of colour.
The bland look of the art and the terrible characters make sure that The Hollow is not worth your time. It is hard to see who this is aimed for as it is tonally all over the place (Is it a comedy? A horror? Just for teens?). It is a comic that is best avoided.
SIX SHOOTER RATING – MISFIRE
Well this is one depressing week. One MISFIRE, four MISSES and one HEADSHOT. Even though there was a headshot, this week is officially a disaster. Perhaps there was too much black and white art. There was definitely too much emphasis on stilted exposition, that’s for sure. Oh well hopefully next week will have a better offering.
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 July 11th, 2013
Category: REVIEWS, SIX SHOOTER
Tags: Amanda Hockings The Hollows Book Five, Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem #2, Comic Reviews, Daniel Cole, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, Demon Dog #1, Dynamite Entertainment, Justice League #22, marvel, Six Shooter #006, Skybreaker #3, Uncanny X-Men Vol. 3 #8