Season’s greetings, fellow geeks! For this–Christmas week! Whoo!—we have a brief, yet very satisfying look at some of the coolest comics coming out this festive week. And you’re just in luck, as Santa’s dropped off some great works this week to get the holiday bacchanal started! So let’s see what you should sit down and read while downing your eggnog, coquito, and mani schevitz (not necessarily together…unless you’re feeling adventurous!)
Captain Marvel (aka Shazam) will be making his way to the silver screen within the next few years, so it makes sense that DC would be starting the process of reminding comic book readers that he exists. What better way to do so than enlist the help of legend Grant Morrison (Batman, All-Star Superman) to pen a truly fantastic book for The Multiversity series, in The Multiversity – Thunderworld Adventures.
This one-off story pits our hero against the mad scientist Sivana in a plot that involves time travel, monsters and (GASP!) an eighth day of the week! Somehow, Morrison manages to make a relatively layered and complex story totally readable and never confusing in a short amount of time. It feels like a very classic book in the vain of DC’s silver age. A concise, but very complete story. To go along with Morrison’s perfectly executed script, Cameron Stewart (Superman Adventures, The Invisibles), with the help of colorist Nathan Fairbairn (Scott Pilgrim, Batman Incorporated), crafted a truly gorgeous and classic looking book from cover to cover. In short, this is quite possibly a perfect comic and should be on everyone’s pull list this week.
So, I’m going to try not to be a Scrooge in this review of Dynamite Comics’ Flash Gordon
I’m going to be generous.
I’m going to be giving.
I’m going to be kind.
The truth is, it’s a fast, fun read, and for any of us who are fans of Flash Gordon mythos (if you
can call it mythos), this contemporary spin on our ace athlete, Flash, and the good Doctor, and Dale Arden, is a perfect, bite-size example of how slick sure-handled genre pieces can be when written in a modern tone.
These three holiday-inspired stories ultimately tie together as Flash and Doctor Hans make a charitable Christmas visit to a planet not nearly as needy as they originally thought; as Juhrg of lost planet Figia and a displaced Jewish family in Belarus teach one another some complex
lessons about friend and foe; and as the hip, metropolitan social exploits of Dale Arden over the course of three consecutive New Years’ Eves show just how much things can change in a year.
In keeping with the spirit, I’m going to wish all of you — Congregation and Clergy of Cool, alike
— a Happy Holidays, and a great New Year’s.
And I’m going to give the Flash Gordon Holiday Special an unprecedented 4/5 Golden Rings.
Now, usually, I’d be against putting a “Spoiler” first, but when the internet and the publisher itself has already heavily revealed the outcome of the five-part “Robin Rises” story arc, there’s really no point pretending you don’t already know.
Damian is back.
But as they say, it’s not where we arrive but the journey we take. With that said, this conclusion is one hell of a journey. The book opens on Apokolips, where we get to see Bruce, equipped with the Hellbat suit, duke it out with none other than Darkseid. Whom, if you remember, actually killed Bruce during Final Crisis.
Getting down to it, the book is light on plot. It’s essentially a beat-’em-up, and thanks to the phenomenal artwork by Patrick Gleason (Green Lantern Corps, Aquaman), its a ridiculously joyous beat-’em-up to read. Every page is rendered with beautiful bat-smashing artwork that had me re-reading this issue at least 4 times. The art alone would have me give this book a perfect score.
Detracting from the book though, is the fact that Damian’s resurrecting is shrouded in a bit of confusion. How he actually returns, doesn’t make too much sense, even from a comic stand point, but what can you do? His return was inevitable, and its obvious the way he returns isn’t important. At the end of the day, seeing Bruce pick a fight with Darkseid over the fate of his son is reason enough, as if you needed anymore, to pick up this book.
4/5 Hellbat Suits
Growing up as a kid in the eighties and nineties it’s hard not to be excited when someone gets fantasy in a modern day setting right. Once you’re five pages into Rumble #1 from Image Comics, it also really seems like writer John Arcudi (Barb Wire) and artist James Harren (B.P.R.D., Conan) are onto something pretty exciting. Harren’s semi-surrealist artistry works really well to bring to life the very otherworldly beings, coherently blending them into a recognizable version of the world that we live in. The genuinely witty humor that Arcudi writes gives the story relatability, and works well with exaggerated way that Harren draws the human characters. The world feels like a very dark Neil Gaiman mixed with the meta-humor of Edgar Wright.
The traits of the human characters in the book are universal enough to be recognizable to the average person, but specific enough to feel like actual people. That human element is the perfect balance to the strange beings that have awakened in that world and Arcudi does a great job at providing the perfect amount of world-exposition through the character’s various reactions to what is happening to them. While there might not be a lot to say about what the story of Rumble will eventually grow into, it’s very apparent that the narrative is in very competent hands.
4.5/5 Undead Cats
Solitary #1, is the first issue of the first comic written by CW Cooke (by way of his Kickstarter!) and illustrated by Nando Souzamotta, of which this is also his first published work. While certainly feeling and looking fresh (the artwork is reminiscent of the hyper-kinetic and angular lines of Genndy Tartakovsky, of Samurai Jack fame), for some reason suffers from what can only be described as “evil corporate CEO fatigue”. It has become a bit tiresome that “corporation” or “CEO” immediately seems to equal “evil/greedy/selfish/etc.” (and I’m not defending corporate bodies or anything), but even in this first issue, the villain (the judge who sentenced Tim, a wrongly-convicted superhero to death) seems too evil. It is too over-the-top to be taken seriously, and while the series can (and probably will) explore some of the complications of the penal system and wrong convictions and all that…I can’t take the judge seriously. It’s too one dimensional that it wound up distracting me.
However, that being said, the comic is a fun read, and quite a gift from Kickstarter. Once Tim comes back to life in the middle of his autopsy, it gets to be quite interesting, and the flashbacks to pieces of his backstory piqued my interest. there’s enough mystery and intrigue (and, again, fun, dynamic artwork) on display to keep me going on with the series. Here’s hoping they add another dimension here, though.
3/5 Wrongful Electric Chair Executions
And with that, fellow geeks, we wish you a happy holiday season, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!