WE ONLY FIND THEM WHEN THEY’RE DEAD / BLACK WIDOW / HELLBLAZER – RISE AND FALL [Reviews]: Cosmic Comic Cavalcade.

Halli Borgfjord
@HalliB
WE ONLY FIND THEM WHEN THEY’RE DEAD #1 – Boom! Studios

Let’s just start off by simply saying We Only Find Them When They’re Dead by Boom! Studios beat the hype. A beautiful creative team between current rockstar writer Al Ewing and artist Simone Di Meo.

Ewing, known of course for his Eisner nominated run on Immortal Hulk, and taking over the reigns on Guardians of the Galaxy, teams up with a rather fresh face to American comics, Italian artist Simone Di Meo. If you’ve stumbled across a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers book recently and thought “Whoa this art is amazing!” — it’s pretty much entirely because of Di Meo.

Now that many of my weekly comic books seem to be deviating a little more from the likes of Marvel and DC, when I see a name like Ewing on a new continuing series with Boom! Studios, I’m instantly intrigued and for good reason. This story by Ewing is unique and already gets your mind spinning with where it could be heading. Set in the near-future on a vessel named the Vihann II, Captain Georges Malik leads his team through space to harvest resources from the bodies of dead Gods. But could there be a living God out there? Time will tell.

Simone Di Meo’s artwork from page one shows you why he is quickly becoming one of the best. There are a couple of panels that just knock it out of the park and remind you why reading comic books in print can be so much fun. Gorgeous colors and great lettering to tie into a story with a lot of meat on the bones…pun intended/spoiler alert. I’m on board to see where this goes! 4.5/5 Bibles.

-Halli Borgfjord




Kevin “Pastor” Palma
@eggrollko
BLACK WIDOW #1 – Marvel Comics

The year 2020 was supposed to be Black Widow’s year. She was finally going to get the MCU solo film she’s deserved for years, and was also going to get her own solo series written by the excellent Kelly Thompson alongside the release of the film.

Unfortunately, like the rest of the world, those plans were derailed. Now, five months after the initial release date of the series, we’ve finally gotten the first issue and I’m glad to say that it was a blast to read. It suffers from the same issue that’s plagued virtually all comics this century, decompressed storytelling, but what the story delivers is fun and intriguing.

It involves a mystery, which any good Black Widow comic should have, but presented with a twist involving a character I would never have imagined her going up against and a personal favorite of mine. There isn’t much action at all, but what little bit was delivered looked absolutely gorgeous thanks to Elena Casagrande‘s art and Jordie Bellaire‘s colors. As a matter of fact, the art throughout the entire book was fantastic and elevated it to a level above what it should have been.

The issue itself felt more like the first chapter of a trade paperback rather than its own story, a common problem in this era of decompressed storytelling. That being said, the book succeeded at setting up an interesting story with loads of potential and left me excited for the next issue. 3.5/5 Black Widows.

-Kevin Palma




HELLBLAZER: RISE AND FALL #1 – DC Comics Black Label
“El Sacerdote” J.L. Caraballo Twitter @captzaff007

The current Hellblazer title by Simon Spurrier may have been cancelled and nearing its publication end, but there’s a new creative team currently exploring a period of John Constantine’s life that has heretofore remained relatively unexplored.

Opening with Constantine’s birth, and bouncing a few years ahead to an ill-fated (what isn’t with this guy?) early magic spell, Hellblazer: Rise and Fall quickly introduces John, and his estranged childhood friend, Aisha, who would grow to be a close confidante when a series of mysterious deaths start popping up in (and above) London and Liverpool. It appears a lost soul from John’s childhood — wherein he’d botched a summoning spell — has crept back, undead, to sow havoc in Constantine’s life. Cons, hard drinking, and silk cut cigarettes by the dozen soon follow, as is typical in the life of everyone’s favorite layman mage.

Writer Tom Taylor eases readily into Constantine’s life, with little homages to past creators strewn in here and there (one of the bars the characters frequent is called Dillon’s, after the late, famed artist Steve Dillon); Taylor also delves more deeply into the magician’s skills this time out — moreso than even Spurrier’s concurrent run, Constantine is less a conman and clever smart-ass than he is a straight-up mage.

Often the best versions of Hellblazer focus on Constantine outsmarting his enemies or conning them into thwarting their own plans, here Constantine feels like a fine balance between his Vertigo self and the DC-Universe-proper iteration. Having both the Black Label series and this three-part miniseries side-by-side is like looking at two different sides of the same coin.

What a revelation Darick Robertson is here; he has rendered a darkly dim, gritty palette for detail that is so rich you can almost smell the dried booze on Constantine’s old trench-coat. While his Constantine seems younger and sharper than Aaron Campbell‘s concurrent rendering, his is just as wiry and slimy-looking. Robertson’s work on The Boys and Jimmy’s Bastard’s are more than apt examples at showing just how well-suited he is for this sort of dark, gritty, and –yes, especially — violent world. He’s always been great at portraying swift, quick, decisive action on a page, and while his art is slightly less Gothic and surreal as Campbell’s, it more than makes up with action, movement, and detail. He’s a great fit to the long roster of artists who have contributed to Hellblazer‘s long and storied history.

John Constantine is my favorite comics character and one of my all-time favorite fictional character, so I can’t do less than recommend this title. It’s got mystery, intrigue, dark humor, and violence. There’s little more I can ask for from my favorite common-man mage. 4.5/5 Packets of Silk Cut.

-J.L. Caraballo

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