By Daniel Cole
Welcome to the very first 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. So going with the gun theme our ratings are:
Headshot (Best of the week)
Miss (Don’t Read)
Misfire (Worst of the week)
As it’s the first ever Six Shooter it would seem prudent to focus this edition on First issues. Thankfully the gods of comics where smiling down on us and we actually have six new number ones (we cheated as one of them is a one-shot) to review.
But before we carry on we would like to give a big shout out and thank you to Twitter friend @Hulksmash1985 for coming up with the column’s name. Go, follow him because he’s awesome. So without further ado let’s review some comics!
CLIVE BARKER’S NEXT TESTAMENT #1 – Boom! Studios
Written by Clive Barker & Mark Miller
Art by Haemi Jang
A long time ago Clive Barker was a master of horror with Hellraiser being his crowning achievement. However the years haven’t been kind to Barker’s brand and his recent works seem desperate to catch the same lightning that made him famous. From this issue it doesn’t look like Next Testament will help him reclaim his former glory.
The comic itself is rife with used ideas and themes. This isn’t a problem per say, but the familiarity to it all makes for a dull read. The basic concept of a man obsessed with an otherworldly power (this time a colourful god) is a solid starting point. But it isn’t presented in a compelling way. Barker and Mark Miller (not that Millar) set up the narrative whilst leaving a few mysteries for a later date. So they at least achieve on delivering what an issue one should do, but it is a shame that it is all a bit pedestrian.
However thank god for Haemi Jang. His art gives the comic a great visual identity. The colour work gives the book a realistic tone, whilst the shading adds visual horror elements. His characters are expressive and well detailed and the god in question is a striking image. He frames the narrative as a film with widescreen panels and close ups. The book looks great.
It is a shame then that the narrative is so mediocre. Although the art is great it isn’t enough to entice you into continuing with the series.
THE WAKE #1 – DC Comics
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Sean Murphy & Matt Hollingsworth
Scott Snyder takes a break from Batman to create The Wake. It’s a comic that traverses a lot of different genres. We have science fiction, a few flashes of horror, human drama and so on.
The main focus of the narrative is a little familiar. A group of specialists are brought together to figure out what has been found in the depths of the ocean. Yes, it’s the same plot from a plethora of films and Snyder doesn’t really attempt to distance his tale from its influences.
But the narrative also has some more interesting elements. Bookending the issue with two different time periods opens up the narrative and creates a good sense of mystery.
But the book’s focus is on the familiar. Even the main cast are the usual suspects for this type of story. Our main protagonist has a few flashes of originality though, which is promising.
Joining Snyder on this book is Sean Murphy. His style is a little rough in places, but overall his line work is detailed. The problem is that the visuals are big and cinematic, which in turn reminds the reader that this idea has been done before. But Murphy does deliver the right tone for the first chapter of the story and gives the book a great look.
The Wake is somewhat frustrating. You can see the sparks of something interesting, but the main thrust of the narrative is your run of the mill science fiction setup. However as a first issue it is interesting enough for readers to come back for the next instalment. Also if you are a fan of these particular tales then you’re sure to enjoy this.
KING CONAN: THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON #1 – Dark Horse Comics
Written by Timothy Truman
Art by Tomás Giorello & José Villarrubia
There is something inherently charming about Conan. Robert E. Howard’s pulp creation has an enduring legacy and his recent resurgence in the comic book medium has been a joy to read. However it would seem that this latest title bearing the Cimmerian’s name doesn’t exactly set off on the right foot.
Timothy Truman decides to frame his story as a tale told by the great King himself. It isn’t a bad narrative device, but it does give the first half of the issue a leisurely pace. Add to this an overabundance of exposition and the plot barely seems to move forward. Truman might set up the world and all the players of his narrative, but it is to the detriment of the issue.
Tomás Giorello has a nice rough style that really suits the sword and sorcery setting. But he isn’t really given much to do due to the fact a lot of the scenes are just people talking. But the biggest plus of the book is colourist José Villarrubia. His colours have a grain to them that dates the art in a satisfying way. The shading of the art also makes the book quite striking visually.
But the book doesn’t really grab your attention. The heavy exposition within this issue maybe necessary, but doesn’t really make for an entertaining read.
X-MEN #1 – Marvel Comics
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales & Laura Martin
It would be cliché to say, “Believe the hype,” but Brain Wood and Olivier Coipel have delivered an impressive opening issue. It is the combination of great writing and excellent art that manages to elevate this title above a simple X-Men tale.
The return of one of the X-Men’s most intriguing villains brings about a new threat that decides to possess a character long forgotten. It is a simple setup that uses the reader’s familiarity with the book’s cast to great effect. However it is fine for new readers to jump on-board. Wood uses a bit of exposition to get readers up to speed, but it doesn’t overwhelm the book. His use of characterisation helps him to establish the cast, with the crisis on the train being the best example of this.
Olivier Coipel’s art is simply gorgeous. Dynamic action, expressive characters and clean presentation make this a visual treat for the reader. Laura Martin’s colour work brings the whole thing to life. Her use of vibrant colours just makes the art pop off the page.
With the writing delivering an interesting plot with a lot of character work and the art giving the book a stunning visual identity, X-Men #1 is the sort of high quality comic that X-Men fans deserve.
TRANSFORMERS PRIME: BEAST HUNTERS #1 – IDW Publishing
Written by Mairghread Scott & Mike Johnson
Art by Agustin Padilla & Priscilla Tramontano
A spin off from the TV show of the same name and a continuation from the last Transformers Prime comic book series, this title once again focuses on the Dinobots.
First and foremost this title is geared towards readers of the previous series and Transformers fans. There isn’t much here for the new reader. Scott and Johnson do explain away the situation, but there is a clear sense that certain plot points are missing. However saying that the dialogue in this book is excellent. The characterisation is pitch perfect and really suits the narrative. It may not be the most interesting plot, but at least its backed up with great character work.
As for the art Padilla’s depiction of the Transformers isn’t as busy as a Michael Bay film, but there is something inherently simplistic in his designs. The clean work is serviceable and Padilla does his job well. Tramontano’s colour work doesn’t really help as the muted tones make the book look bland.
It isn’t a waste of time, but the character work and dialogue isn’t enough to recommend this to anyone other than a fans of the previous series.
GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS REALM KNIGHT (One-Shot) – Zenescope Entertainment
Written by Pat Shand with Joe Brusha
Art by Noah Salonga & Wagner Souza
This is a done-in-one comic that is clearly geared towards bringing in new readers and setting up upcoming Grimm Fairy Tale series. However if you are not familiar with this particular brand then you will be lost here as someone forget to tell Shand to cater for new readers.
This is a comic that is clearly tailored to its own fanbase and although the narrative isn’t difficult to follow there is the sense that new readers will be missing something. This sexy reinterpretation of fairy tale and folklore characters is a good hook. With each one having new backstories, skills and powers. But the presentation of them is a little pedestrian at best. Most of the page count is just banal chatter from the characters and seems a bit of a waste of time. Especially when the purpose of the issue is to set up a team of “highborns” (heroes) to defend their modern day realm. The dialogue is forced and the jokes fall flat as Shand basically borrows plot points from the recent Avengers film.
The art team do well even if the change of artist halfway through is a bit jarring. But Salonga and Souza give the characters and the book a decent look. The inherent overt sexual nature of the protagonists is captured well, even if it is totally ridiculous (especially the armour).
If you’re a fan of Grimm Fairy Tales then this is for you. It is clearly an important issue when it comes to the Grimm universe’s continued narrative. However if you have never picked up an issue of Zenescope’s sexy interpretation of these characters then you should probably avoid this. As a comic in its own right it gets a lot wrong, even if the art isn’t all bad.
Well Marvel’s re-launch of X-Men was easily the best comic of the bunch. But The Wake has the potential to be an interesting read. A few too many misses this week though, but no misfires so that’s a bonus.
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 May 31st, 2013
Category: Blog, REVIEWS, SIX SHOOTER
Tags: Brian Wood, Clive Barkers Next Testament #1 Review, Comic Reviews, Daniel Cole, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Realm Knight, Haemi Jang, IDW Publishing, King Conan Hour of the Dragon #1, Mark Miller, Matt Hollingsworth, Olivier Coipel, Scott Snyder, Sean Murphy, Six Shooter #001, The Wake #1 Review, Timothy Truman, Transformers Prime Beast Hunters #1, X-Men #1