One of the stand-out (nearly written-off) characters from this past holiday’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is back with his own series! Though his screentime felt lacking in the film, this welcomed edition to the Marvel Star Wars universe is finally making up for it. Thanks to Charles Soule (Death of Wolverine, She-Hulk) and Phil Noto (Uncanny X-Force, Jonah Hex), we get our first real look into the man behind the X-Wing. Telling Poe’s story right before the beginning of Force Awakens, General Dont-Call-Me-Slave Leia has tasked Dameron’s Black Squadron with a suicide mission: Find the location of the only man who knows her brother’s whereabouts. In the process, Poe creates the squad later tasked with taking down the Starkiller base. Soule does an exceptional “Star Wars” job showing equal parts space action and the heart that made Poe so endearing. Also, the return of BB-8 is refreshing and missed! That lil droid has fast became one of my favorite parts of the new SW’s.
The other added treat with this first issue is seeing Phil Noto’s work. Noto has always been one of my favorite artists for his photorealistic talent. The ships, aliens, actors, and planets are all true Star Wars. For all the positives, this new series does feel like its only a half-attempt in telling a bigger story, likely since we already know the fate of all the heavy-hitters in this issue. I’ll admit that knowing the end-game to whatever trouble Poe and Co. get into does take away from the thrill. Even just a little. Soule does, however, capture Poe’s sheer enthusiasm; and it doesn’t hurt to see see just how nasty the First Order can be, either. Also at the end, is a fun and entertaining BB-8 backstory written and drawn by Chris Eliopoulos (Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius). More in the vein of a Calvin and Hobbes Sunday funny, it will leave you with a smile. 4.25/5 Trekkies Agree.
At the beginning of Batgirl #50, a gathering of unsavory villain types is gathered to hear a plan from the Fugue — to end Batgirl once and for all — and that plan is up for sale to the highest bidder. With just a few panels, the drama for the issue is set: Who will be the one to try and destroy Barbara Gordon? And will they succeed? Written by Cameron Stewart (Batman & Robin) and Brenden Fletcher (Gotham Academy), this issue picks up where the last left off. The Fugue has access to all of Barbara’s memories, thanks to her implant, and is planning on using Batgirl’s freed enemies (and her memories) to carry out his dastardly plan. With a deadline that could take down the city looming, Batgirl turns to her friends to help her stop the Fugue from destroying the city, and her good name.
This leads to confrontations between the Bat-posse (Bluebird, Spoiler, Black Canary, and the Operator) and Batgirl’s enemies (Killer Moth, the Jawbreakers, Corporal Punishment, and Velvet Tiger). The action is neatly wrapped up by the end of the episode, putting a halt to this storyline and opening the writers up to new problems and shenanigans for Batgirl to tackle. Despite the numerous artists used within the issue, the art stays level and doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the story or pull the reader out, as other comics that have done the same recently have. With some solid action — and a good fake-out or two — Batgirl #50 is a solid anniversary issue. It doesn’t have some of the more improbable or distracting issues earlier episodes had, and proves a good conclusion to the “Batgirl v Fugue” storyline. 4/5 Bat-Bibles.
Ever think that a trust fund kid with a penchant for picking fights, telling lies, and fighting a war that was already over would get his own comic? Well, he did. Writer/creator Adam Glass (Suicide Squad) tries his hand at revisionist history with Rough Riders, an alternate take on some of American History’s greatest figures of the turn of the Century. The trust fund kid mentioned earlier is none other than Teddy Roosevelt, and this version of him is pretty much exactly what he would have had us all believe about him; but, the History Degree in me says, “Nope”. The debut issue features the typical heroic introduction, the shadowy ambiguous organization, and the lead character assembling a team, a team which of course features other luminaries of the time: Tomas Edison, Annie Oakley, and Houdini himself. It comes off very League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which isn’t a bad thing. If one can suspend their inner history major inside, it’s interesting enough to give a try. 3/5 Bibles.
***EARLY REVIEW – Out Wednesday: 4/13***
Jackpot! AfterShock Comics has yet another new title. Both, the artwork, by Marco Failla (Harley Quinn) with color assist by Stefani Renee (Flashpoint), is fantastically rendered, and the story is fast-paced; but I’m just not hooked on this just yet. Conceived and written by award winner Ray Fawkes (Constantine, One Soul), the story follows a crew of criminals, grifters, marks, cat burglars, and a possible cartel and their illegal exploits.
The first issue reminds of Ocean’s Eleven, detailing a super high-stakes card game on international waters serving as a decoy for a heist. We meet all the players before we are sure how they play together. There are diamonds, duplicity, explosions, bearer bonds, and even a random black cat, but the story falls flat. The characters are barely sketched out and lack real charisma. A larger, shadowy organization comes into play by the last panel, but the 25-pages prior don’t generate enough concern about their motives. Everything looks cool, but isn’t compelling enough to continue. 2.5/5 Bibles.
With a Japanese flag silhouette of the donned colors, our protagamonster resembles the creatures from Gareth Edwards’ 2010 flick, Monsters. V Ken Marion‘s (Michael Turner’s Soulfire, Jirni) pencils show further inspiration from various Incredible Hulk designs, as well.
Still, Bloodlines — with J.T. Krul (Teen Titans) as writer — was far from tapping a vein to produce any bloodflow; for the beginning of a new comic/plot/storyline, it definitely lacked the “draw”. The main character Eddie is a teenager who suffers from some form of physical disability, though magically transforms when his life is at risk. I wasn’t too fond of the Dr. Manhattan (Watchmen)-meets-Gill from Street Fighter 3rd strike vibe, but, for fans of the admirable art technique, let’s see how the family ancestry unfolds and how much blood collects. 2/5 Blood Viles.
Gold Key Alliance #1 brings together several heroes, each of whom (naturally) has some special skill or power. Samson, fashioned after his namesake from the Bible, is a strongman wandering the streets of New York, and has the ability of seeing into parallel dimensions. Turok, the dinosaur hunter, protects modern-day dinosaurs living on a nature preserve, while having his exploits recorded (he is the only character of whom I’d heard.)
There is Magnus, a secret agent who has a special knack for recognizing and subduing artificial intelligence and robotics (and wears a spiffy armoured vest). And finally, there is Solar, a doctor working in impoverished parts of Africa; she seems to be teleknetic, and can generate light (and float) while meditating. This issue introduces each character separately, showing each of them in their territory, displaying their skills, and not having anything to do with one another (yet). Brent Peeples‘ (The Last of the Greats) art is servicable, but feels derivative: it is neither great, nor bad, just…there. Writer Phil Hester (The Darkness) keeps the pace moving well, but the story itself is perfunctory. Perhaps it is deliberate, as these characters are being introduced to the reader and any non-linear structure to story might be confusing, but as it is, this is a tepid title. Read it, or don’t. I guess. 2.5/5 Robot Bellhops.