THE UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL / DEPT. H / BLACK ROAD [Reviews]: Surprise!

THE UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #1 - Marvel
THE UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #1 – Marvel
Taffeta "Dutchess" Darling @taffetadarlin
Taffeta “Dutchess” Darling
@taffetadarlin

After being deprived of all the Gwenpool in last December’s Marvel Holiday special, I’ve been looking forward to The Unbelievable Gwenpool for a few months now. It’s Marvel Comics so I get that Spider-Gwen–and Gwen in general–were big in 2015, and Deadpool is always a big deal, so of course Gwenpool had to be a thing.

Thankfully, this first issue proves to be a highly enjoyable “cash-grab”.

Serving more of a prologue over actual origin story, the first 11-pages or so break down how she gained a sidekick and her hideout. Throughout the comic, Gwen Poole spends most of her time talking to the readers in the classic Deadpool (She-Hulk) form of breaking the fourth wall via cotton candy pink word bubbles. The story also takes place on a different earth, with Gwen trying to get hired for merc jobs to make that chedder. Her lack of super-powers doesn’t let that that stop her from taking a job to wipe out alien cephalopods.

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As a debut issue, it’s incredibly fun and funny. I cracked more than a few smiles and laughs. At first I expected just a Deadpool clone, and although there’s a lot of Deadpool in Gwen (that’s what he said), writer Christopher Hastings (The Adventures of Dr. McNinja) does a bang-up job of letting Gwen have her own personality and be her own self. So what if she’s a super kawaii assassin in the likes of what we’ve seen before? There’s a couple of name drops like Dr. Strange, Howard The Duck, Daredevil, and She-Hulk, which means this comic has the potential to be endless (unless Marvel starts over again).

Gurihiru’s inside art plays well with this character, too, with plenty of colorfully drawn panels that set the humorous tone of this young character. In all, The Unbelievable Gwenpool is a decent read for anyone not into Deadpool (check your pulse) and an even better read if you’re into the camp and all the ridiculousness that comes along with it. 4/5 Gun Shells.




***EARLY REVIEW – Available 4/20/16***

DEPT. H #1 - Dark Horse
DEPT. H #1 – Dark Horse
"Reverend" Ryan Ford @nayrdrof
“Reverend” Ryan Ford @nayrdrof

It’s not safe to go under the water. Few things are more frightening than the unknown and at six miles deep, the unknown is an absolute certainty. While Dept. H hasn’t introduced any sort of life-threatening leviathan — yet — the trap has been set for the greatest white whale of all: the reader. So put on your floaties and let your righteous Reverend navigate you through the depths of Dept. H #1.

The USEAR (Underwater Science Exploration And Research) center has made a startling discovery seven miles below the surface in Dept. H. The founder, Dr. Hari Hardy, has been murdered. Making the situation worse, the only person qualified to investigate is his daughter, Mia. Equipped with the amazing H-2 dive suit, Mia makes her descent to the scene of the crime. Corporate partners, beloved family friends, former lovers and estranged siblings all become suspects, pressuring Mia with the same force as the water above. Now, no one has room to breathe…

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Before I get into the nitty gritty, let me just say I want one of those H-2 dive suits. Those things are freakin’ sweet! But I digress… Dept. H #1 is quite a unique entry into world of graphic literature. And unique is precisely the term to describe the artwork of Matt Kindt (MIND MGMT). At first glance, I must admit, I was not loving the art; yet, as the story progressed, it grew on me. Not like a fungus, but more of an awesome ZZ Top style of beard that took time and care to cultivate. The style, paired with the color choices of Sharlene Kindt, helped to accentuate the murkiness of the environment as well as the circumstances surrounding the mystery. Speaking of the mystery…

Imagine a metaphorical child between Agatha Christie and Jules Verne that looks like Bill Plimpton. The plot devices and development of the protagonist through her interactions hit every beat like John Bonham on Moby Dick. Fast and driving, the story never lingers whilst emoting exposition. Mr. Kindt, who pulls triple duty on this piece, does a wonderful job of giving the reader just enough information to inform, while (obviously) saving the juicier bits for later. Likewise, the story itself pulls a trifecta on conflict. All good stories have good conflict and Dept. H delivers threefold on circumstantial, environmental and personal levels. If this were on Netflix, I would binge watch the shit out of it. 4.5/5 Dead Sea Scrolls.




BLACK ROAD #1 - Image
BLACK ROAD #1 – Image
"Brother" Myke Ladonia @onemyke
“Brother” Myke Ladonia @onemyke

Don’t let the opening page–a sparse image of a fort coupled with a huge block of text–of this new Image Comic fool you. Writer Brian Wood (Star Wars, Northlanders) does a great job at immersing the reader in the world of Viking Age Norway without too much hand-holdy exposition. Even artist Garry Brown (The Massive, Iron Patriot) makes the more interesting choice to use a painterly, darkly shaded style to capture the dire tone of the book rather than trying to show off with epic scale and/or detail — which would have distracted from the tense, focused mystery Black Road is promising to be. That opening prose doesn’t even resort to lazily throwing around dates or historic babble, but rather tells its own short story that sets up the world and the people that inhabit it.

The most interesting hook of the whole book, though, is the appropriation of the noir genre into the storytelling. Magnus, the character we follow, is a film noir anti-hero — he’s troubled by a mysterious, tragic past that has made him an outside. By design, this trope never plays too interestingly in an opening act, but hopefully more revelations to the character will add to his depth. As far as the world Magnus inhabits is concerned: the encroaching presence of Christianity peppers the world around him like the general darkness and corruption of Basin City did for Sin City. Imagine the best version of True Detective set in Westeros. Yet, as we’ve learned from True Detective, a noir/mystery thriller is only as good as its payoffs and reveals. I guess we’ll have to see where this journey down the Black Road takes us. 4/5 Crosses.

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