Black Magick #1
Written by Greg Ruck, Art by Nicola Scott
Man, have I ever anticipated a book like this one. Earlier in the year, I was lucky enough to speak with the creators behind Black Magick, Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott, and both promised me that this book would be worth the reader’s time. They were right.
First off the bat, I noticed the near-black and white colour scheme, with some colour assets here and there provided by Chiara Arena. An avid reader will return to this issue multiple times to try and decipher the meaning of these rare few coloured items.
Which leads me to Greg Rucka’s writing. The book feels like an episode of True Detective season one. There is enough mystery here to intrigue me to finish the story. Most issue ones, especially from the big two, set up a character, and that’s it. Rucka still manages to do the set up, but it is so integrated into his storyline that it won’t take you out of the story. The overall issue is filled with unique moments that will drive you to pick up issue two, just to get closer to the answers that you desperately need to know.
Now, the artwork here is something to behold. It’s no secret that Nicola Scott is a reigning talent in the comic book industry (In fact, a commissioned piece of hers adorns my wall). But this is on a new level for the Aussie artist. The detail on display is amazing, and there is one particular splash page that I won’t spoil but is beyond anything that I have been reading in comics.
Written by Ryan North, Art By Erica Henderson
Ahhh, Squirrel Girl how much I couldn’t care less about you. But let’s be fair here, Squirrel Girl does have a certain appeal about her. Some would call her the poor man’s Deadpool, minus the blood. But I would offer a dissenting opinion that she is just a more toned-down Deadpool, with just as much fourth wall-breaking action.
In her new first issue, Squirrel Girl contends with moving to a new home, introducing her friends to her mother and fighting/repairing a brain in a jar on a robot body villain; it’s wacky, zany fun. But it’s not for me, just like Deadpool isn’t for me. This book is just too wordy – so much dialogue, even in the margins. Reading this book feels like walking in the mud. But the dialogue is where the humour is and that is this book’s strength. Even a cynical old comic book buff like myself got a few yucks here and there.
The art style is very cartoony and I think that’s exactly what this book needs, with lots of over-the-top action sequences and very expressive characters. I believe if you were a fan of the previous books, then you can rest assured that nothing has changed for Squirrel Girl in this new series.
Written By Robert Venditit & Van Jensen, Art By Brett Booth, Vicente Cifuentes, Ale Garza
Umm….I hate the Flash’s new costume. It really bugs the hell out of me. The best thing I can say about this book is that it’s a decent jumping-on point for new readers. If you’ve been watching The Flash TV show and want to get in on the comics, here’s your chance. Otherwise this book is a bit of a mess. When I was reading it, I thought, “Why do some panels look great and others look subpar?” I didn’t understand, then I checked the credits and was not surprised by three names listed for the artwork. Boy, does it stand out when one panel looks great and then the next panel, the anatomy is so screwed up that you wonder if the person drawing knows what a human looks like. In one panel, Zoom had a female face. I actually thought this was a new take on the character until I saw the next panel. On some pages the art looks great, then the quality drops, making the book overall inconsistent.
I thought the writing was a bit superficial and was a typical of a B-grade superhero tale. The captain was so on the nose that I thought he was going to say, “I’m too old for this crap.” So, yeah, jump on this book if you want to know more about the Flash. Long-time fans of the character will have already given up by this point.
Written by David F Walker, Art by Ivan Reis
The techno art–for lack of a better term–is really startling in this book. The way Cyborg’s body changes and the way nano-machines move around his body to reconfigure is truly something to admire. Reis’ artwork is truly exceptional. In fact, the entire book is drawn well and I am on board.
I think this is writing that Cyborg has deserved for some time. He monologues about the questions he’s asked by the general public, and how they relate to the nature of his disappearing humanity. There’s still the angstsy stuff with his father, and this I could live without. It feels to me like their disagreement has been going on forever, and it’s getting a little long in the tooth.
The book touches on people with missing limbs receiving cybernetic replacements, which Congress is trying to ban, or at the very least regulate. I think these ideas will evolve into questions about how human are we if we replace every part of ourselves. There’s also an interesting opening panel in this book which predicts dark days ahead and I love a good plot tease.
Written by Adam Christopher & Chuck Wendig, Art by Drew Johnson
This is what I dig about reviewing: sometimes I come across a book I never would have thought to look at. The Shield is a cross between Captain America and The Crow. Instead of rising from the grave to avenge her love, the Shield returns to protect her country when she is needed. In this case, is it to protect America from itself?
That question is left in the air while issue one deals mostly with introducing us to the Shield, a potential ally, and an opposing force hell-bent on her capture. I think you can tell a complete story while introducing a character. This book, sadly, is all introduction to her powers and maybe her motives. Otherwise issue two is probably where the story will start.
The art is decent, above decent in some panels, though it does get crazy close to floppy arm syndrome, but only once or twice. Otherwise the book is drawn very competently.
If you’re out for a new superhero, with a bit more of a mature reader spin, then give this title a look.
Written By Kurt Busiek, Art By Gary Chaloner
First, I like the overall theme of this book, about letting go of the past and forging forward with your own destiny. The book feels very wholesome, which the older I get, seems to appeal to me more and more.
This issue of Astro City deals in part with the origins of Aussie honour guard member Wolf Spider and, later in the issue, dealing with the heroes of his past and how they hold him back in some ways. For the most part, this is written quite well and the themes are presented well. But I really can’t stand Australian culture being portrayed in this way. The above-mentioned heroes of Wolf Spiders are called Queenslaw. WTF, I get Queensland, I know what coleslaw is, but why the fuck would an Aussie superhero team combine the two and use it as a code name? And Banana Bender? What! What!
So, I get what it’s trying to evoke: a classic Australia, because we are dealing with Wolf Spider’s childhood, but this idea of Australian classic culture is an invention of American storytellers, nothing more.
Now that I have my gripe out of the way, onto the art. It has a cartoony feel, which I think is why it works with this particular story. I also liked Cap N’ Kookaburra’s expressions, and some of the character designs where pretty intriguing. The real plus here is that the art style matches the overall idea of the book, and you have to respect that.
Written By Brian K Vaughan, Art by Cliff Chiang
Can Brian K Vaughan write a comic that isn’t batshit insane? The answer is no, and would you really want it any other way? Although Papergirls is a little less abstract than, say, Vaughan’s Saga, the comic does open with a bizarre dream sequence that will leave you scratching your head. The book has this cool 80’s feel to it, making it comparable to the Goonies or E.T. in feel.
To its credit, a book about a group of young delivery girls shouldn’t really appeal to me. But Vaughan’s characters all find a unique voice in this book, which I found to be quite engaging.
There’s also a lot of worldbuilding in this issue, a lot of crazy to throw at some teenage girls, and possibly some superpowers?
I also found the art quite unique as well. If Saga is anything to go by, Vaughn will have his artists drawing loads of weird and wonderful which I think Chiang pulls of quite easily in this issue. His art style uses a lot of straight lines and is very clean cut. I’m sure anyone picking up this book will love the art and the storyteller.
Written By Robert Kirkman, Art by Ryan Ottley
Looks like our main character Mark, A.K.A Invincible, has a serious case of the “Back to the Future”s. Mark is trapped back in his past with all the knowledge of the future.
I though the writing tackled some interesting issues. Mark is truly suffering, he doesn’t want to relive the past, the tragedies and pain he’s suffered, especially at the hands of his own farther. I thought this book is a pretty refreshing take on the whole “time travel” deal.
It’s also great for someone who has never picked up an Invincible comic. This issue gives you the broad strokes of the character and his teammates which, as a first time reader, I found invaluable.
I think long-time readers might be initially frustrated with this issue having to re-tread old storylines. But if they stick with it, I think they will be intrigued with the idea of Invincible changing the future.
The art here is pretty spiffy, as always for this comic. It’s colourful and dynamic, though all of the characters are really tall and elongated. Don’t get me wrong, everything is in proportion. I’m just not sure if I like the art style or not.
Written by Various, Art by Various
It’s refreshing to read a comic magazine again, especially one that’s Australian-produced. From the gorgeous cover to the stories within, I think you’ll find something that appeals, which is the real treat of a comic magazine, it’s kind of like a present. Each page could yield a great surprise which will push you further into the magazine.
There were a few stories here that appealed to me for a couple of reasons. Two had sci-fi themes, which is always a draw for me. “Eat to Live” had an interesting concept, following on the theme of “A Man’s Gotta Eat” and how far a person will go to survive. “Mars” is a Kubrick-style tale, which has a surprise twist on the origin of humanity, worthy of an episode of The Twilight Zone.
“Touched” and “One of the Reasons I Changed My Name in Primary School” come from places of the heart and resonated with me on a deeper level.
So this is a really a mixed bag of goodness, and so is the artwork, which is vastly different from one story to the next, but fits with the narrative of the story it belongs to.
My favourite art belonged to “Eat to Live”. It reminded me of RTA (Road Traffic Authority) posters from the 90’s, mixed with a classic sci-fi look that you don’t see much anymore.
I think for the price of this magazine, it’s worth buying for the cover alone. Consider the rest a sexy bonus.
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