Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Comic Book Reviews - January 17, 2018

We've got an admittedly smaller week ahead of us, with just three comics to look at (would've had only two, but the premise of Ice Cream Man intrigued me to no end). And, once again, no Marvel books. It appears that this streak will end next week, as well the streak of small weeks. But, the benefit of smaller weeks means I have more space to talk about the comics. Let's jump right into things, shall we?

Ice Cream Man #1

Writer: W. Maxwell Prince / Art: Martin Morazzo / Colors: Chris O' Halloran / Lettering: Good Old Neon

This is a comic made for fall, specifically, October. It's a horror comic, which one could probably surmise by just the first few pages with the big reveal of what's going on at Byron's house. But it's a strange one. Not a "wow this is some psychological horror" strange, I mean it's just inconsistent. The comic would be better, way better, if they'd deleted most of the detective stuff from it. There's a couple pages where we're introduced to Detective 5V (her nickname, because her real name has all 5 vowels in the English language) and all it does is set up some bad jokes and that she's a detective with attitude, and that she's not buying that this town's full of weirdos.

The only thing I'll give that scene is that it ties well with the ending in that this comic will more than likely be some kind of anthology book where the town monster appears to various people, ruins their lives, and gets away, and the throughline for the story will be 5V trying to catch him. If not? Fine.

I actually hope this is a pure anthology story, where next issue is the monster in a different town doing different things with different people, and perhaps we see a different form of the monster. I like the idea of it, that it's some sort of Lovecraftian (in theory) monster that preys on people's sensibilities to trust a smiling face, typically a face on associates with joy, but the actual monster design is quite basic, I almost wish they'd gone more Lovecraftian in design. Not full-on Cthulhu, but also not full-on beast.

The story relies, with its big "scares" on atmospheric horror, and the combination of art and coloring do excellent work to build tension. The first five pages are masterful. If the comic had just been that and the little sputtering of good horror throughout, then, easy choice for my book of the week. And, again, the art helps a ton.

Morazzo draws faces with good detail, but it's the tinier details that really matter. Each face is unique and each design is also pretty unique. You instantly grasp a character and cannot be confused between one and another. Sometimes the art is a bit wonky, but other times it's just splendid. The first splash page is a thing of beauty, and it's helped, majorly, by the coloring.

The coloring is, on the whole, the best part of the comic. Most of the book takes place during sunset (taking place over two different days) and maybe it's just my affinity for that time of day, but I really enjoyed those segments. Colors were bright, they jumped off the page, and they breathed life into these characters and moments that really made my eyes bulge out sometimes at how well they looked. I'd love to see O' Halloran's colors in more work, what he did here was excellent.

However, I'm iffy on the next issue, and series as a whole. If it is an anthology series, then I'll probably stick by it, but if not, then I'll probably just drop it. It's just going to be weird horror for weird horror's sake; it doesn't seem to have a natural push or aggression to it that Redlands or Wytches, two pretty good horror comics, do.

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers #23

Writer: Kyle Higgins / Illustrator: Jonas Scharf / Inks: Jagdish Kumar / Colors: Joana Lafuente / Letters: Ed Dukeshire

This latest arc of "Power Rangers" has certainly been intriguing. I loved the intro to it, where we saw the tale of the 1969 team of Rangers haphazardly led by Zordon, but things have petered out and really only plateaued from there. This latest issue is a testament, more than likely, to them needing to buy time before the big arc coming up in a couple issues. It's fairly evident, since almost half of the issue proper deals with a single monster battle where the Zords aren't even called, and there's only about five or so pages dedicated to the actual plot.

The fight is decent, but it's mostly a joke: the monster, one of  Finster's creations in his plague against humanity, turns to a sheep, but also happens to have been a conspiracy-theory nut. So he spawns tons of mini sheep, and cries out in pain so many conspiracies.

Get it. He makes Sheeple.

Sheeple. Ha.

So yeah, most of the issue is dedicated to that and then we're suddenly pushed into an ending when things get interesting aaaaaaand the comic tells us to tune in next time. It is a good cliffhanger, though, so I can forgive some of the book for wasting my time. I will also say that the stuff with the villains has me intrigued, nowt hat they're finally moving things back into motion after taking a back seat since the end of the Lord Drakkon arc. There's also clever hints of foreshadowing for the big arc that's coming next.

To touch on the art, because it's a comic and it's all art anyway, it was pretty good. This is another instance of great coloring covering for decent artwork. It's jarring when a book sifts through so many artists at at time, but if it holds up, it isn't that much of a sin. With this week being heavy on action, we unfortunately didn't get to see too much actual brawling, and itw as ore describing what the action would be. Scharf, though, does draw some good looking Rangers, highlighting their massive muscles while also retaining their actual, teenage body frames. His designs for Finster and Rita were also pretty good.

But MAN if Ed Dukeshire's colors just aren't awesome. The dude kills it with the shadows and then pitting other colors against that. The first and last page especially are just so good, and even the battle looks pretty vibrant. It's hard to make the Power Rangers look dull with their bright suits, so Dukeshire just takes their color scheme and runs with it. He also did great with the energy that pulses from them when they teleport, that was some of the better work in the series.

And quick aside: I usually don't read the Bulk and Skull, or Squat and Baboo, backups, so, I don't have anything to say on those. I'm sure they're good, they're just not my thing.

Superman #39

Writers: Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason / Art: Barry Kitson / Inks: Barry Kitson & Scott Hanna / Colors: Gabriel Eltaeb / Letters: Rob Leigh

Talk about a feel-good comic. This tone, this material, this Superman, is all the reason why I decided to check it out for "Rebirth." It's just fun. It's just so pure, and good, and innocent, and everything that a Superman comic in 2018 needs to be. 

It's a pretty simple tale: Superman visits a hospital and takes the young cancer patients with him to the Justice League watchtower. But it's so well-planned and so well-organized that you know Superman isn't going to do it alone, and that the rest of the League, as true super-heroes, are going to pitch in and help out their friend, and more importantly, just let these kids have a little fun for once. 

It starts by setting the tone so well, as Superman defeats the Demolition Team (who, appropriately, talk in rhymes) and it feels ripped like something right out of a traditional Superman tale. And then Green Lantern shows up and they head to the Watchtower and AGH. 

I love little one-shots like these, I wish there were more of them! It helps remind us of who the characters are at their core. Superman, in the last arc, was fighting in the pits of Apokolips, but here he is, with a bunch of people he's never met before in his life, and gets to know them, their names, what they want to know about him, and makes sure that they're both having fun and that they're totally safe in the process. 

The art is fairly standard. Kitson draws a good Superman, and, notably, the characters are drawn in their early-2000s styles, like the days of the old JLA comic (Batman has longer ears, Flash doesn't have the lines on his suit). The simplistic art and designs are consistent with the tone that the book is going for; things don't need to be incredibly detailed, they just need to reflect the characters and make sure that they don't look like some weird, messed up version of themselves. Thankfully, it's not the case. 

The colors are perfect for the story: bright, loud, and pop off the page. Again, reminiscent of the old JLA comics by Grant Morrison and fellow artists. 

Superman #39 is the essence of what it means to be a good superhero that cares for the people you fight for. It's not a tradition super hero story since as far as I can tell the primary conflict of the issue seems to actually be a struggle for who can make Batman smile, not Superman fighting baddies in the streets. Although, I suppose if you count the opening, maybe it is just a classic super hero romp. 

And that's okay. In age where we have long, epic arcs of superheroes being beaten down and somehow finding the will to fight, having a nice, relaxing story where one man from Kansas can just show some kids from the city what it's like to hang out with the Justice League for a day can be just what we need. This is a heartwarming story, and it did just the trick for me this week. 

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