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Home  >  Features  >  Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: February 10 & 17, 2016

NUMBER 1 BULLETS: 02-10-16

 

Love is in the air ... and so are all-new comic books! Welcome to another edition of Number 1 Bullets with Geoff and Joe. This weeks's stash includes another two weeks worth of issues, and they are: King's Road #1, Dues Ex: Children's Crusade #1, Batman: Arkham Knight - Batgirl & Harley #1, The Dark and Bloody #1, Badger #1, Shaft: Imitation of Life #1, Insufferable: On The Road #1, Snow Fall #1, Power Man and Iron Fist #1, Avengers Stand-Off: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1, and Tomb Raider 2016 #1. 

 

King's Road #1 (Dark Horse Comics)-

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High fantasy meets suburbia in Dark Horse Comics newest mini-series, King's Road.  Written by Peter Hogan with art by both Phil Winslade and Staz Johnson, King's Road is the story of a royal family that has escaped the fantasy world of Avalon to seek refugee and raise a family here on Earth in anonymity.  However, as these things often do, the evil witch Malicia has raised a force of evil in Avalon and killed the King and taken over the land.  Now the burden of reclaiming the throne has fallen to the family in hiding, and it turns out telling two normal teenagers that they are the heirs to a magical realm goes about as well as you think it would.  While not the most original of story ideas it was well told and though there are many characters to keep track of they were all well fleshed out and interesting.  Donal, the father and would be king, takes to his new role with fervor if not excitement.  While he has no wish to rule, he knows that he must rise up and defend his realm, this is a nice departure from the normal reluctant hero who would have complained about the burden bestowed upon him for at least the first two issues of any other comic of this nature.  The art, on the other hand, is not doing the story-telling any favors.  The first half of the issue is drawn by Winslade and while the pencils are good there is a very strange blurry coloring technique that makes the art look muddy.  Then, in the second half of the book, Johnson takes over and the pencils degrade a bit, but the coloring is totally different and no longer looks like someone wiped Vaseline over the page. Don't let the art problems put you off the title though, the story shines though and it was a fun read.  At 48 pages, it is a large first issue with enough room to breathe to tell a good story and establish sound characters. (Geoff)

 

Deus Ex Universe: Children's Crusade #1 (Titan Comics)-

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With the release of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided coming soon, Titan Comics has published the first issue of a new mini-series that follows Adam Jensen's exploits leading up the start of the new game.  Written by Alex Irvine with art by John Aggs, Children's Crusade brings readers up to speed concerning the events of the Deus Ex universe and the AUG Incident which has pitted natural humans against their augmented brethren.  Jensen is now part of Task Force 29, an elite Interpol force designated with taking out augmented terrorists.  However, his place in this team is uneasy as Jensen himself is the sole augment in a group of natural humans.  The world-building of this comic establishes a society that is being fed paranoia and hatred for the 'other', even with its own version of a vitriolic prime time news caster more than willing to fan the flames of fear.  This fear-mongering, in addition to the AUG Incident, has brought world back to the dark times of internment camps and segregated ghettos for those who are different.  It is into this world that Jensen finds himself trying to do what is right while being distrusted by both sides.  The action is good and the visual tie-ins to the video game were really well done, including user interface visuals that look like a first person HUD.  The art by Aggs featured slightly messy environments, but great character detail and facial emotes.  The pacing was fast and readers are left with a tragic cliffhanger to bring them back for issue #2.  Product tie-in books rarely stand out as amazing, but Children's Crusade is better than most.  This is really only there for fans of the game who want to see what Jensen has been up two since the end of Human Revolution and for some back-story on the events surrounding the upcoming sequel, and for those readers this is an easy one to recommend. (Geoff)

 

The Dark and Bloody #1 (Vertigo/DC Comics)-

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A horror entry to Vertigo Comics' list of mature reader titles, The Dark and Bloody is a foreboding tale of what lurks in the backwoods of rural Kentucky.  Written by Shawn Aldridge with art by Scott Godlewski, this is the story of Iris: a young man with a past wrought with violence.  Slinging moonshine in the Kentucky hills to help provide for his wife and their young son, Iris is a good man who has done bad things.  This all comes to a head when two locals are viciously murdered by a strange creature in the woods and the local Sheriff comes calling on Iris to explain why his moonshine was found in their possession.  This book was a slow intro into a obviously much larger story, horror tends to be a slow build, and that is the case for The Dark and Bloody as well.  The only thing missing was any tension built up by the author- the one scene involving the creature is over and done with in just a few short panels.  It serves well for shock, but completely lacks tension.  The art absolutely fantastic: great, clean pencils and the coloring really brings it to life.  The expressions Godlewski gets out of his art is nothing short of amazing, I could feel the disdain of Iris' wife through the art alone.  A slow build, but a good read, I would recommend picking this one up just to see if you like the tone.  I will be on board for the first arc at least to see where this is going. (Geoff)

 

Batman: Arkham Knight - Batgirl and Harley Quinn #1 (DC Comics)-

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This was an odd duck of a comic. It's a collection of digital-first issues, collected into one print volume, featuring the Arkham Knight debuts of Batgirl and Harley Quinn. The art by Matthew Clark is pretty good, as usual. His character work is solid and he handles the action sequences quite well. The writing by Tim Seeley falls a bit short, but it's not really his fault. He has the unenviable position of shoe-horning popular characters into a pre-existing story and having to do it with as few pages as possible. Due to this, we get a series of very shallow stories that happen and end a bit to quickly and neatly. There's not much of a past or consequence here. i'd recommend this to people who are fans of the title characters or those who are interested in fully completing the Arkham Knight saga. (Joe)

 

Insufferable: On The Road #1 (IDW Publishing)-

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The adventures of Nocturnus and Galahad continue in IDW Publishing's second volume of Insufferable.  Mark Waid and Peter Krause are back to give readers more of the not-so-dynamic duo.  Galhad's partying and life in the limelight has come to an end, as quickly as the Robin-wannabe rose to fame, he flamed out and now his lawyer has run off to the Cayman Islands with his millions.  Teaming up with his father, Nocturnus, and Meg, a publicist who is far smarter than he deserves, Galahad has traded in Hollywood club life for hocking low-grade rum to young tourists.  However, when his shady promoter is found dead in his own rum, the situation becomes far more than just a pity party.  I like Waid and enjoy the odd takes on superheroes that he crafts with his works from the smaller publishers, but this new entry for Insufferable fell pretty flat.  The first volume of Insufferable was not an outstanding piece of storytelling either, but it was a new idea and a fun read.  However, once that title was complete, I felt the story was told and bringing these characters back for more seems unnecessary.  Galahad is not someone I have an interest in seeing redeemed, nor am I rooting for him to get his millions back.  The art by Krause is the definition of "okay"- rather flat with pencil work that gets the job done to convey the story.  I did not enjoy this book very much. None of the characters are people I want to root for or see what happens to them next.  If you are interested in the premise, I would recommend reading the first volume of Insufferable instead of On the Road. (Geoff)

 

Badger #1 (Devil's Due/1First Comics)-

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It's the return of Mike Baron's indie hit, The Badger! In this new first issue, the character is rebooted into a modern setting. The Iraq War is the new Vietnam and  a lot of character origins are being back-filled with new history, and that's the case here. A troubled young man named Norbert Sykes does what many troubled young men do: he joins the military. There, he befriends a dog and seems to excel at being a soldier, However, war is war, and Sykes returns home with some PTSD that has manifested itself in the form of split personalities. One of them, I'm sure, will be the titular Badger. Ending on an interesting cliffhanger inside an insane asylum, this first issue gives us just enough to make me want to come back. Which says a lot: the story s not all that original, the main character is not even shown in uniform, and the side characters are not all that engaging. But, the story is strong enough and asks just enough interesting questions to pull you in. The artwork by Jim Fern is sketchy and rushed, but still tells the story well. Honestly? Pick this up. It's an earnest story about an interesting anti-hero by a small publisher. You don't have much to lose! (Joe)

 

Shaft: Imitation of Life #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)-

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So, if you like comics with a lot of captions where not much happens in the actual issue, then Shaft: Imitation of Life #1 is for you! I wanted to like this, I really did ... but I didn't. David Walker's writing skills are great: The actual words in this issue were fantastic. I enjoyed the noirish voice-over dialogue. But a) this doesn't feel like John Shaft, and b) the pacing is very slow and not much of anything happens. Thanks to the events of the last mini-series, Shaft finds himself in the spotlight and doesn't like it. So, he takes on what he assumes will be some simple cases, but nothing in Shaft's world is ever simple.  Unfortunately, the art by Dietrich Smith isn't doing the story any favors. He's not a bad artist, but he certainly has a lot of room to grow. I was hoping to recommend this series, but I can't. That said, judging by other reviews, it seems I'm in the minority (shut yo' mouth!). (Joe)

 

Snow Fall #1 (Image Comics)-

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Image Comics has another creator-owned #1 issue this week with Snow Fall, from Joe Harris and Martin Morazzo.  It is the year 2045 and it has not snowed in 10 years, dramatic climate change has forced the populations of the world into resettlement zones, and the private corporation Hazeltyne has taken over the United States, now known as the Cooperative States of America.  In the midst of this oppressive regime steps the White Wizard, a masked figure who seems to control weather and acts as a dissident to the new government.   The first issue does a great job of world-building: the reader is brought up to speed quickly and by the time the last page is turned we are off and running with another dark look at the future if we continue down our current path.  The idea of dramatic climate change and corporate take over of the government are slowly becoming science fact instead of science fiction, and Snow Fall seeks to tell that story.  The art by Martin Morazzo is a mix of highs and lows: I am not a fan of his character art, but the background and structures are great.  There is a large level of detail in each panel, and while the action in this issue is scarce, the art depicting it is fantastic.  Harris has created an interesting world of 'what could happen' and woven a tale of corporate cover up and conspiracy.  If you have been enjoying books like Low and Tokyo Ghost, you should give this first issue a shot and see if the story grabs you. (Geoff)

 

Power Man and Iron Fist #1 (Marvel Comics)-

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Luke Cage and Danny Rand are back on the streets in Marvel Comics' latest #1 issue, Power Man and Iron Fist.  Written by David Walker with art by Sanford Greene, this issue brings the "Heroes for Hire" back together for another adventure; only this time their good intentions to help a friend land them in more trouble than they could imagine.  The tone of this book made it a lot of fun to read.  The back and forth between Luke and Danny is great, with Luke's constant proclamations that they are not in fact "getting the band back together" and Danny's unbridled enthusiasm to be back on a case with his old friend.  Couple this with the great dynamic between Luke and Jessica Jones, who is at home raising their young daughter, and you have a book that is just plain fun to read.  The only problem with it is the plot itself: the case surrounding their old secretary being released from prison, is not that interesting and the first issue did not get any hooks into me to bring me back for issue #2.  Which is a shame, because along with the great dialogue the art by Greene is great in a super-stylized gritty way.  Proportions are exaggerated, but this allows for overly expressive faces and a great fight scene.  In the end, this book was a lot of fun to read, yet it is centered around a plot I don't care about at all.  This is one people should check out because all the pieces are there and if the plot grabs you it will be an enjoyable read. (Geoff)

 

Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1 (Marvel Comics)-

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Serving as the prelude to the big Avengers Spring event, Standoff is the latest one-shot from Marvel Comics.  Written by Nick Spencer, Pleasant Hill revolves around a controversial plan by S.H.I.E.L.D. involving a new way to deal with super villains.  With constant break-outs from the the various "super max" prisons and even the Negative Zone, Maria Hill has decided she is tired of the revolving prison doors for bad guys and thus sees to the creation of Pleasant Hill: a remote town in which the villains are mind wiped and think they are new residents in a picturesque society.  However, cracks in the illusion begin to manifest and now Baron Zemo and Gravitron plot their revenge against The Avengers.  With the mediocre quality of the current Avengers titles I went into this issue with high hopes that the Spring event would stir things up a bit and inject some life into those titles ... that is not going to be the case.  This idea of the fake idyllic town is so old I remember it clearly from an episode of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero; remember the one where Shipwreck wakes up in that small town [Editor's Note: The town's name was Springfield] only it's all a big COBRA fake?  Well, that is exactly what went through my head as I was reading this, from cheesy cartoons to The Stepford Wives to The X-Files; this plot is old and trite.  The art by Mark Bagley does not help the situation.  I loved him on Ultimate Spider-Man, but since then his quality has dropped off.  This book just looked sloppy, rushed, and flat.  I did not like this prelude issue ... the plot is something I have seen before and a fight with the Avengers over a fake picture-perfect town holds little interest to me. (Geoff)

 

Tomb Raider 2016 #1 (Dark Horse Comics)-

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There is a new Tomb Raider game on the market so without fail Dark Horse has released the first issue of a new comic, aptly titled Tomb Raider #1.  Written by Mariko Tamaki with art by Phillip Sevy, this book seems to take place in-between the first game and the second: this Lara Croft is still young and inexperienced but she knows how to handle herself.  She is inadvertently involved in another mystery when a professor's assistant is found dead in her hotel, the same assistant who was seeking her help just hours before in a search for immortality. The pace of the comic is incredibly brisk and by the last page the 'evil dudes' are in full effect and we are off on an adventure.  There is nothing overly deep here in terms of character or plot. The writing and story are average in all respects.  It is not bad, but it is not good.  I played the last Tomb Raider game and I will play the new one soon; I like this new version of Lara. But with all that said, nothing grabbed me in this issue.  It felt and looked like a product tie-in from start to finish.  I would recommend readers skip this series unless you are a die hard fan of Lara Croft that wants more story to fill in the gaps between the games. (Geoff)

 

Don't just take our word for it ... pick up the books yourself and share your thoughts below!

 

More Reviews on MightyVille:

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: February 3, 2016

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: January 20 & 27, 2016

Number 1 Bullets Comic Reviews: January 13, 2016

 

 

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