Adapting a licensed property can be a dicey proposition, particularly when you’re translating it into another medium. You’ve got to not only be faithful to the source material but find a way to provide continuity for fans who have established preconceptions of these characters while telling a story that works in this new medium that didn’t originally generate the story in the first place. And that doesn’t even get into the situation we have here, a fractured Star Trek universe that was complicated enough when it was made up of separate series and movies set decades apart before J.J. Abrams and his crew roared in a few years ago with their alternate timeline reboot of the original franchise. All of which is to say, if you’ve had any more exposure to Star Trek than the two most recent movies starring Pine/Quinto/Saldana, you might have to realign your phasers just a little bit to enjoy this one. However, once you manage that, there’s plenty of meat to sink your teeth into here in this first issue.
We open with the requisite horrifying bloodbath and enslavement/subjugation of a less-dominant species that establishes the tone of our antagonists and stakes for why they’re really especially terrible Klingons (at least our main guy Commander Shotokh is). Then, there’s a nice little initial minor conflict where Scotty and Karl-Urban-as-Bones have to beam an unborn baby out of its mother, which is a clever little in medias res deal before Bones then gets offended by the parents not wanting him to touch the newborn with his “unclean” hands, which is clearly setting up some kind of character arc for him this time around. From there on, it’s pretty much business as usual: an away team beams down to a planet to check something out, everything goes south, there is the traditional slaying-of-the-RedShirt, the team gets split up, and Bones comes perilously close to breaking the Hippocratic Oath upside some Klingon’s face before a solid cliffhanger that definitely escalates the situation.
This issue basically does everything that it’s supposed to. It’s not scratch-your-eyes-out-holy-shit-can-you-believe-they-just-DID-that? crazy, but it’s a perfectly serviceable narrative that’s true to the source material. I’m unfamiliar with the creative team, but writers Mike Johnson (Earth 2: World’s End) & Ryan Parrott (Star Trek: Starfleet Academy) keep everyone very much in character, and Angel Hernandez (Star Trek/Green Lantern) and Esther Sanz (True Blood) turn in some above-average pages featuring characters who very much resemble the actors who play them without seeming stiff or awkward now that they’re in pictures that lack motion. All told, this one probably won’t win over any holdouts who can’t see what’s so great about the franchise, but anyone who’s onboard with this new Post-Shatner era is going to find a lot to like about this. 3.5/5 Fetal Transports.
For someone who has never actually read a Flash comic book — I must say — this #50 anniversary issue was a lot of fun. Barry gets arrested in the very beginning, and put into Iron Heights. He’s saved by some very surprising “friends.” Then, everything comes to a head at the end when they reveal the person who was behind it all. I won’t tell you straight out who it is, but what’s green and…green… oh nevermind, I’m not very good at riddles. Moving on, Van Jensen (Green Lantern Corps) does a great job of keeping the flow with his writing and Jesus Merino (Trinity) and Paul Pelletier (Aquaman) make good use of bold colors and lines in each frame. Only two more issues before DC’s Rebirth, and I can’t wait to find out what’s next. 4.25/5 Bibles.
Hey, what’s up? Padre here. So, Criminal has a new issue out this week and…whoa whoa whoa. What the hell kind of intro is that right? Run the record back. Hit my music!
Criminal Minded, you’ve been blinded, looking for a style like Padre’s, you can’t find it! (Apologies to KRS!)
They say you can never go home again. “They” are probably not comic fans baptized in the fires of unlimited resurrections and death that doesn’t mean death. Because once again, like a phoenix from the ashes, your smooth ghost from the pulpit of GHG reviews past, the Mack-nificent Padre has returned to preach to the choir about the Tenth Anniversary Special Edition of Ed Brubaker (The Fade Out), Sean Phillips (Fatale), and Elizabeth (Velvet) Breitweiser’s Criminal.
As with last year’s 48 page one-shot, the edition to get is the throwback oversized Deadly Hands of Criminal. This groovy piece of 70’s cool s Marvel kung-fu mag homage in with a mostly quiet story featuring Teeg and son on the road. What starts out as a quiet tale, of course ends in a bang, but the real heart of the story is getting to know the young “Mike Johnson” (probably not the guy who wrote the comic reviewed just above; but who knows…). He not only serves as our eyes and ears into whatever the fuck his old man is up to, but also gives the story heart as we get to know him and the life he’s forced to live. This kid has seen some shit. A lot of shit really and he’s going to see a hell of a lot more. His search for normalcy and more editions of the comic he’s started to really get into really keeps you enthralled throughout. The pages fly by and you’ll be left wishing there was more story to be told.
For me, the format steals the show. Phillips and Breitweiser do a masterful job of weaving in pages of Fang The Kung–Fu Werewolf into the overarching narrative of the main story. (Seriously, buy this fucking version of the book. You can’t miss it. It’s the one with a damn Kung-Fu Werewolf on the friggin cover!) When we’re knee deep in the main story, the smooth color palette and clean lines come together to perfectly convey a hot summer in a picturesque small town. Night and day scenes have a real life to them, giving you the sense that you are a voyeur wandering through this town with our main protagonist as opposed to just a reader holding a pretty book in your hands. When the scenes shift into pages from the Deadly Hands comic, the color scheme switches to a retro, worn pages, tan and black look that perfectly emulates those old comics, minus the dust and funky smell.
Seriously, you will want to get that letter writing campaign started to beg Bru and Co. to start up Fang series. Heart and struggle also define this character that could have easily been just some throwaway gimmick to draw eyes to this book. But honestly, Fang comes across as a hairy Peter Parker mixed with Werewolf By Night, complete with girl trouble, school issues, the tragic death of a friend, and a fate thrust upon by the evil machinations of a curse-bestowing sorcerer. The best part is you never feel thrust out of the main story as these interludes are woven into the narrative with precision by Brubaker and the art team.
So what’s the ‘ol Padre’s verdict oh sinners of mine? This is a comic that loves and embraces the medium of comics. It also tells a solid crime story with an emotional twist– which leaves us with the real deal Emilio, the straight truth Ruth. That is, a spectacular… 4.5/5 Bibles.