Saga scribe Brian K. Vaughan’s Goonies-meets-Super 8 adventure continues its breakneck ride into awesome weirdness in the latest issue of Paper Girls. After three books chock-full of plenty “WTF” moments, some answers finally come to our favorite newspaper delivery girls of Stony Stream. Thanks to a couple of translation devices we’re given a little bit of the story behind the strange robed beings that have been running around 80’s America as well as a proper introduction to the other beings that are trying to kill them. The bizarro Logan’s Run (if it were envisioned by the love child of David Cronenberg and David Lynch) style backstory is slightly revealed to our girls by the robed people, who happen to be future teens, during an exciting chase through the sewers of Stony Stream.
Cliff Chiang’s illustrations (Wonder Woman, Green Arrow) of creatures that “The Elders” have seemed to militarize somehow fit the overall art style of the world of the story, while still being just as absurd as our heroes perceive them to be. Vaughan also succeeds in explaining enough of the story to keep the plot going, keeping us invested in the conflict between the different factions of visitors of Stony Stream, while still holding a lot back to retain mysterious. All the while, our girls are really put to the test — having to fight off psychic attacks from strange monsters as they confront some ugly character flaws within themselves. Paper Girls continues to be the awesome adventure it promised to be with it’s stellar debut issue and should be a must-have on everyone’s pull list this year. 4.75/5 Newspapers.
–Fistful of Comics (1/7): Paper Girls #4, Uncanny X-Men #1, Mirror #1 (early review), Four Eyes: Hearts of Fire #1.
–Sunday Stash (1/5): Obi-Wan & Anakin #1, Ringside #1 & #2, Rocket Raccoon & Groot #1.
First, let me say that I am really liking where Marvel is taking their X-Men titles post-Secret Wars. It’s apparent that writer Cullen Bunn (Magneto) and Greg Land (Iron Man) are hopping right in-line with the other X-Books, as fellow GHG staffer Lance “The Apostle” Paul once told me (and I agreed), they have this “old”school” feel to them. These comics remind me why I used to love X-Men. The writers on all these new books seem to have been reading 1990’s X-titles, as the nostalgic feel of holding an X-Men book in your hands as a teen is what had been widely missing in the X-Books.
Uncanny X-Men is no different.
Still slightly darker than the other X-titles, Uncanny seems to be replacing the X-Force title by throwing their darker and more vicious characters at us by way of a slightly de-powered Magneto, a reformed Sabretooth (which I’m really digging), an egotistical and cocky M, a lovelorn Psylocke and ***SPOILER*** the return of a cold-blooded Archangel ***END SPOILERS***. And, this is the part that came off the most messed up and fascinating at the same time: Readers now have 2 Warren Worthington III’s flying around and…this Archangel is just chillin’. He is used like a secret weapon, deployed as a counter-measure and then gets put back into his “cage” like the bird of prey, all the while saying nothing and showing no emotion or remorse. I am really excited to see how this Archangel came back (WRITERS NOTE: For those who weren’t reading it, and shame on you, Archangel had his mind completely erased back in Uncanny X-Force after he became Apocalypse).
Sure, Land is known for reusing his references, but in here he nails Archangel by toning down the sex and amping up the action. The dialogue is heavy-footed, but is needed and fun. We’ve gotten so wrapped up in these overly serious and overly realistic comics that, often, we’ve forgotten that comics are also meant to be fun. As we’re also re-introduced to some of these characters in a new setting, Bunn sets a nice pacing for them. Hop on now and enjoy the ride! 3.75/5 X-Bibles.
***EARLY REVIEW! (Release: February 3)***
Mirror is a collaboration between Emma Rios (Pretty Deadly) and Hwei Lim (Spera) that attempts to bridge the gap between fairy tales and sci-fi. The story centers around scientists and mages (an interesting combo, to be sure) who are creating human and animal hybrids. As is expected, the creations struggle with their place in the universe and the creators struggle with the implications and repercussions of what they have made.
The presentation of the story isn’t straightforward and has a disjointed and dreamlike quality to it. While I found Mirror a bit hard to follow at times (wait, that actually sounds brilliant), the hazy style did add to the mystique of the overall plot. The art is absolutely gorgeous though, with delicate coloring and bold, clean inking, which reminded me of a Japanese art scroll at times with hints of Moebius for good measure. In fact, Mirror would not feel out of place in Heavy Metal as it has that sort of esoteric appeal and non-linear style storytelling that are the hallmarks of that particular magazine. If a slightly incomprehensible story isn’t an issue, then Mirror is an interesting jaunt into a beautiful universe. 4/5 Reflections.
Although I hadn’t read the original Four Eyes run from famed Deadpool scribe, Joe Kelly, and incredible throwback sketcher, Max Fiumara (Abe Sapien), back in 2010, there’s a lot to love about the depression-era follow-up, “Hearts of Fire”. If the daily comic strip stylings of Fiumara don’t hook you enough, Kelly’s multi-layered story of an underground dragon-fighting ring (that makes Mike Vick’s past crimes.. oh nevermind) set after the famed stock market crash, will. But it’s the adolescent innocence of protagonist Enrico, who does what he gotta do for the benefit of his family, and an overall sense of bravery, fear, and commitment that lay as the heart of the story in Four Eyes. There’s also a nice role-reversal, where one former assistant in those race/class-segregated times, the enjoyably stone-cold Mr. Fawkes, now serves as firm “big brother”/father figure to the young, blind boy searching for the person/thing who murdered his pops.
Of course, Four Eyes (the dragon–not me), is the more mystic and mature Disney story just the same, as the also vision-impaired, not-so-scalebound lizard shares more in common with the boy in this heart-wrenching tail than anyone ever could. So, only Fiumara’s tenacious, eye-popping (heh) designs keep the comic from becoming too PG. It’s an overall wonderful start to the sequel, that no fan of creator-owned comics, or — hell — dragons, should miss. 4.25/5 Ray Ban Frames.
***SUNDAY STASH*** (1/5)
Happy New Year, geeks! And with a new year, of course that can only mean one thing: new Star Wars comics(!!). Obi & Ani #1 picks up a few years after The Phantom Menace, with Obi-Wan Kenobi doing his damnedest to act as mentor and master to the young padawan, Anakin Skywalker. Sent on a peacekeeping mission that — of course — goes wrong, this dynamic Jedi duo find themselves on an alien world. But this issue #1 is more so told through flashbacks, breaking down the essence of these two characters and their relationships with each other–including some foreshadowing of Anakins’s relationship with the future dark Emperor. Charles Soule‘s (Daredevil) script is solid and nails the personalities of these two Jedi, while the art by Marco Checchetto (The Punisher) is a vibrant and clean fit for the Star Wars universe. Although not a whole lot happens outside of mere set-up in this ish, what is here is more than promising. 4/5 Green Lightsaber Blades.
Talk about a legion hall of geeks, right up the alley to your beloved Ringside Apostles. The comic, Ringside, is the tell all of what can happen in the business of indy wrestling. We’re talking the days of Monday Night Wars between the (then WWF) World Wrestling Entertainment vs. “dubya see dubya” (a.k.a. World Championship Wrestling). I mean… backstage politics, Vince Russo-like writers, card-subject-to-change type politics. In both issues of Image’s Ringside #1 and #2, wrasslin’/comic fans will get the whole scoop of crooked deals, personalities and egos that can kill or drive those in the wrestling game. The wrestling is easy; it’s learning how to claim your stakes in the business before they can curtain call your ass out that is hard. Writer Joe Keatinge (Tech Jacket) did the homework, as we see how old receipts can still be on a waiting list to pay someone back.
“The real world is not a work; sometimes Kayfabe can get you hung up” is what I have to say from the action in this bad boy, as you’re bound to feel like you’re in the locker room, or clocking in those strenuous highway miles from venue to venue for near-to-nothing pay or respect. Acclaimed artist Nick Barber draws this series like a rookie paying dues with the right amount on grit, pain, and sharpness that shows glossy pages are for Nancies. Colorist Simon Gough (Cobra, Snake Eyes) hits you hard with simple, very dry tones and shades–all adding to a degree of depth. And Letterer Ariana Maher has a steady handle for such crisp placement; her work comes off like a fresh cup of coffee or a stiff Clothesline to the face. Either way, it’s noticed and appreciated. See you at the next match. 4/5 Championship Titles.
Skottie Young, following the critical and breakout success of his 2014 Rocket Racoon series, makes a welcome return to writing the characters of… Mouse and Shrub? Yes, although this comic claims to be set a full 8-months after the madness of Secret Wars, there’s still plenty of weirdness afoot in the new Rocket Raccoon and Groot first issue; with Rocket and Groot presumed dead, and a fine pair of Rocket and Groot imitators gallivanting around the galaxy seemingly in their stead. But all is not as it seems… which is good, because it seems pretty strange so far.
This comic plays its cards close to its chest, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to recommend about it: how about the wildly chaotic and energetically cartoon-y artwork of Filipe Andrade (Captain America, Figment); or the crackling dialogue and narrative insanity of the aforementioned Young; and even an hilarious cameo from the new Guardian of the Galaxy team? It’s a lot of fun, and I can’t help but be reminded a little of the late 80’s-early 90’s work Keith Giffen did on Lobo and L.E.G.I.O.N., which adds a neat element to Marvel’s far-flung space continuity. For fans of GotG (obviously), but I’d also recommend this to anyone who enjoys the more wacky and Looney Tunes-esque books out there like Cable and Deadpool or Harley Quinn. So… that’s basically everyone, I guess. 4/5 Burning Bushes.