No matter how you slice it, Disney is doing a damn good job at preparing us for The Force Awakens. #ForceFriday saw action figures and merch fly off the shelves in record numbers last week; Battlefront is arguably one of the two most-anticipated video games of the year; the “new canon” Star Wars adult novels have all been more or less spectacular (i.e. so far I’ve read the brilliant Tarken and heartbreaking Dark Disciple; oh, and Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath is receiving some pretty solid scores); and, perhaps, most impressive of all, the new Marvel line of Star Wars comics has been great.
Greg Rucka (The Punisher, Batwoman), who I’m not ashamed of labeling as one of my personal favorite comic scribes, continues that level of quality with Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire #1–and, boy, does he provide some key revelations. Rucka doesn’t pull any strings without any blatant product placement, introducing characters that strengthen the origins of one of TFA‘s biggest stars. Although I’ll let you discover the pair of A-Wing pilots for yourself, the strong connection between films set 30-years apart is appreciated — and finally here! — especially when it doesn’t hurt to witness further fallout from the Battle of Endor. Characters we grew up with and cherished might be smiling at the moment, but business isn’t done yet. Rucka’s strength, here, is finding that balance between buoyant and wary.
Of course this book could not be made without the vitalizing visuals of Marco Checchetto (Avengers World, Avenging Spider-Man). Subtler moments between X-Wing pilots, Han and Chewie are spot-on from the original trilogy, as Rucka justifiably provides the right humor and tension; while moments featuring air combat, dog fights, and the obviously worn rebellion are only missing the triumphant strings of John Williams. My only issue with Checchetto’s sketch-work is an overall lack of distinct features of our two newest figures. Since their appearance is more akin to Hasbro Black Series’ “peg warmers” than anyone worthy of note, I don’t expect too emotional resonance from readers just yet; hell, my mathless mind had to take a few moments to realize that it wasn’t the guy from Force Awakens, but someone related to him.
All minor squabbles aside, the team of Rucka, Checcetto, colorist Andres Mosa, and letterer Joe Caramagna sets the bar extremely high in quality Star Wars comics. If you ever wanted an uncompromising alternative to a live action Star Wars TV show following Return of the Jedi, Shattered Empire is it. 4.5/5 Bibles.
To paraphrase Einstein’s general theory of relativity, as an object approaches light speed, the mass of said object increases exponentially. With the title of this newest creation by Brian Haberlin (Spawn) & Hollywood SuperLawyer Skip Brittenham (Anomaly) exceeding the photonic barrier, it stands to the reason that the plot would follow suit. And it does — by becoming so heavy that story is slower than molasses.
Don’t get me wrong; your Righteous Reverend is quite the science nerd. The possibility of traveling faster than 186,000 miles per second tickles my fancy, amongst other things, warp drive or no. But when a few sciency-type buzzwords are thrown over the storyboards of Interstellar like unlimited toppings at Fro-yo, my interest melts.
Before we attempt to spackle all the plot holes, let us begin with what worked — the art. There was a certain “pulp” quality that lent itself to the material. From the early days of comics, space was more than the final frontier, it was a best seller. Haberlin picked up on that concept by illustrating a sense of exploration into his drawings, along with a perspective that emphasized the shrinking expanse of space. Not as much as the Star Destroyer from the opening scene of A New Hope, but more along the lines of To the Stars by L. Ron Hubbard. That’s right, the guy who invented Scientology wrote comic books!!! But I digress…
Onwards and upwards to the stumbling blocks. Any good television pilot episode will hook the viewer by dangling enough carrots in front of the audiences face to come back for another show and see if the rope got shorter. In this case, it was baby carrots and twine. Not enough substance to make me come back. While there is a set up for a much larger payoff, I think, the bait just isn’t there. The characters are formulaic and their dialogue is lengthier than my rant, muddling what could be an intriguing story with vagaries of a possible Russian conspiracy heaped upon mounds of who-gives-ashit. I guess the Russians are the next best baddies if you can’t use Nazis. Or Commie-Nazis. The lone saving grace of the story, like the cliffhanger at the end of Cliffhanger, was the discovery of an unknown planet in our solar system — rife with unknown consequences. 3/5 Terran Bibles.
Set in a reality where you can have cities that fly, Tyson Hesse’s Diesel is set to follow the exploits of Peacetowne. Tyson (Bravest Warriors) Hesse’s style is a cross between Scott Pilgrim and Walt Disney. The book has a nice steampunk vibe to it, a funny flow and crisp artwork. Hesse also does a very good job at setting up the characters, the dynamics between them– and then ending the book on such a cliffhanger that you really want to pick up the next one and see what happens. Considering that this is a 4-issue mini-series I would say that it is well worth the price of purchase. 4/5 Bibles.
Written by the traditional Harley team of Amanda Conner (Power Girl) and Jimmy Palmiotti (Jonah Hex), Road Trip has all of the hallmark elements of the series: wacky adventures, tons of wisecracking, and a hallucination or two just for fun. At the beginning, it appears that the reader is going to get a closer look at the “inner Harley”, as she has to come home to fulfill her dead uncle’s last wish. We even get to see Harley’s mother –- proving that even the craziest of us can have regular old moms. Because it’s a Harley Quinn story, however, deeper introspection is put on hold for games of Truth or Dare, pool party hijinks, and the bright lights of Las Vegas…along with a stop at some of America’s most scenic tourist stops.
Artist Bret Blevins (New Mutants) does a solid job making Harley and Co. come to life (Catwoman’s plethora of kitty pj’s is adorable). Halfway through, guest artists take over, and the disparity is obvious. Black haired Harley’s hair turns blue. She turns punk. Catwoman and Ivy also get new looks. Some of the guest artists are strong, with Pasquale Qualano (Grimm Fairy Tales) standing out, while others didn’t jibe as well. Overall, the story is one that will please Harley fans, as it was nice to see the ladies of Gotham out of their element and having fun. 3.5/5 Tom Green Flicks.
Vampires vs. Werewolves! Sound familiar? Broken Moon #1 by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and Nat Jones (Giant Monster) doesn’t exactly venture into unexplored territory. There are minor details that are attempts to freshen this story, but they are instantly brushed over to tell a much more familiar story. The only characters to get any sort of development are the werewolves, as vampires are left completely unexplored and the human characters are almost an afterthought, simply used as exposition dumps. The dialogue feels overwritten and stilted, so much so that at one point the characters are answering questions that were never asked. The two most interesting elements, however, revolve around the title of the book: the broken moon. There’s a quickly glossed-over reason for war between humans that has caused the moon’s destruction; better yet, the werewolves seem to have a measure of control over their transformations. Whether or not this has anything to do with the moon being broken…
Ultimately, this comic just feels like a boring pastiche of other much more interesting stories. The art, on the other hand, is very good at setting the mood and tone of this book. The colors have beautiful, haunting shades of blue that make the occasional bright colors really pop off the page at times. The page of the tidal wave destroying the city, in particular, is beautifully epic and the detail put into the design of the werewolves is nearly as impressive. This comic seems to be targeted to dieheard fans of the “Vampires vs Werewolves” style of horror comic, and, as someone who’s idea of a great horror story is the Captain Britain comic where Dracula shoots vampires at Britain from cannons on the moon, I will fully acknowledge that I’m probably not in this comic’s intended audience. 2/5 Broken Moons.